The Quest for the Perfect Journey and the Evolution of Humankind

Citymapper launches 5.0 on Android, with GO, Smart Notifications and Wear

In 1997, a computer called Deep Blue defeated the world chess champion Gary Kasparov in a tournament of chess. It was a symbolic event, implying the coming inevitable superiority of machines.

Kasparov writes about this in The Chess Master and the Computer. He admits computers have come a long way, but argues that chess is far too complex and creative to completely write off to the machines. And that further experiments have revealed that the strongest player is actually a combination of a human and a computer.

“The chess machine Hydra, which is a chess-specific supercomputer like Deep Blue, was no match for a strong human player using a relatively weak laptop. Human strategic guidance combined with the tactical acuity of a computer was overwhelming.”

Do our mobile computers make us smarter? Can a transport app make each of us better at navigating than we think we could do ourselves? And even better than the most knowledgeable expert or robot?

Improving how to get from A to B

Humans have been figuring out how to get around forever, and technology has always played a role in changing how. We’ve used the sky, compasses, paper maps, and now we use phones.

Now the phones are getting smarter and more personalised, software has improved, geolocation is more accurate, more data is available and the age of wearables is upon us. There’s a lot more we can do to develop the right human + computer partnership.

And as we’ve shared previously, users navigating transit in a city check the app multiple times while on a trip, generally just looking for a snippet of information. So we need to design a partnership that has far less friction.

A smart assistant. A co-pilot.

In our latest release, instead of you having to fiddle around with the app on the move, we’re just going to give you:

  • What you need
  • When you need it
  • Where you need it

Pushed to you if you wish. Without you necessarily needing to do anything.

GO, and the Perfect Journey launch first on Android.

Introducing: GO

it’s so much more than just your everyday button

The GO button activates a WHOLE NEW WORLD, developed specifically around the information you need while on-journey.

In the App: Step by Step Navigation

Like a co-pilot for public transport. We give you the piece of information that you need next, and automatically zoom the map accordingly.

On the Lock Screen: Smart Notifications

Don’t want to open your phone? A Smart Notification lives on your lock screen for the duration of the trip. It will update to whichever step is relevant. Or tap through to the app for further details.

On the SmartWatch: Integration with Wear

When you have one. We’ve designed and formatted each step specifically for Wearables. Get what you need just by raising your wrist. We’ll figure out the right step. It’s truly magical.

On Everything: Get Off Alerts

Alerts when you’re near the end of each trip segment on a bus or train, to remind you when to get off. Works on the phone and wrist. A buzz you actually want and need.

App + Smart Notification + Wear

Let’s look at the three different types of steps during a trip and how they appear in the app, notification/lock screen and smartwatch. Because everybody likes images. Images on Wear are hidden until the Google I/O event on May 28th.

All together now…

Yay. Moving pictures!

Step-by-step view of your trip, which updates automagically
Don’t even need to unlock your phone

Yes, the app will figure out which step you’re on without you having to do anything. But you can also swipe or use the arrows.


On Wear

Hit “GO” on any journey on your phone and it will automatically show up on your watch. Or open the app on your watch and hit “Get Me Home”.

Citymapper Wear App showcased at
Google I/O 2015

Early Days

Our 5.0 release on Android is the first step of many. There is a lot more for us to do to improve the on-journey experience. We will learn from the real world and adapt. And of course we can’t spoil you with everything all at once. New shipments of magic will continue coming your way. The next stage of human navigation is upon us.

Better Humans

Kasparov continues his story about the tournament where humans and computers were allowed to join forces:

The surprise came at the conclusion of the event. The winner was revealed to be not a grandmaster with a state-of-the-art PC but a pair of amateur American chess players using three computers at the same time. Their skill at manipulating and “coaching” their computers to look very deeply into positions effectively counteracted the superior chess understanding of their grandmaster opponents and the greater computational power of other participants. Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.”

It’s not just about technology, we must build better collaborations and processes with ourselves. We believe our latest update is a small but real step towards our cyborg future. One that considers the reality of how we move around cities, and the use of technology along with our existing human ingenuity and intuition.

According to early testers:

“Having info pushed to me means I can just follow the flow.
“I felt in control. It’s like seeing the matrix.”
I feel like a better human.”

So rise up dear humans and embrace your better selves!

The robots are coming…

The robots are us.