iPhone App: Road Report

31 Jul

The only thing predictable about the traffic in Seattle is that you’ll likely run into at some point during any drive.  Whether travelling on freeways, major highways or less travelled roads, it’s impossible to predict what kind of traffic you’ll encounter, where it will be and what kind of delay lays ahead.  Traffic delays can occur without much notice and, although news channels often report on traffic during commute times, there is traffic in Seattle around the clock.  If one is hitting the road from a location where there is no access to a television or a computer, that leaves few resources for them to learn of the current traffic conditions.  To ease the frustration of Seattle-area drivers, a more robust traffic-oriented mobile application is needed.

RATIONALE:  Seattle, unfortunately, is a car-heavy city.  While alternate modes of transportation are constantly improving, cars are still the transportation of choice.  Commuting between suburbs could involve several hours and several bus changes.  For time and convenience, people hop in their personal vehicles – however, given the traffic, that too could take hours.  Seattleites need a traffic resource that they can take with them and access whether at home or already out and about.  While traffic applications do already exist in the iPhone app store, none of them have all of the features that the Road Report has.  The Road Report can keep people out of traffic, stress-free and on time.

AUDIENCE:  As previously mentioned, Seattle is a city where the most common mode of transportation is the private vehicle.  Therefore, the audience for this application is anyone who is of legal age to drive a car.  Road Report can appeal to the majority of iPhone users and, not only will users be compelled to buy the app, but they will also be compelled to use it on a regular basis as traffic is so unreliable in the city and surrounding areas.

APPLICATION FEATURES:  Much like Google Maps, Road Report will have a map view where it is possible to see the level of congestion on the major highways and freeways.  However, whereas Google Maps only shows traffic in vague terms, Road Report would actually offer estimated travel times based on current traffic flow.  A user would type in their starting point and destination address and the application would generate several different routes with the estimated length of time it would take to get from Point A to Point B.

Road Report would also list general traffic times, much like the electronic signs above the freeway during commute times.  For example, on the customizable homepage, one could see what the general travel time is between their most often travelled starting point/destination.  The sign might say “Seattle to Bellevue – estimated 25 minutes.”  This would give users who are pondering whether to hit the road or put off a trip the chance to make a quick decision at a glance.

Road Report would also offer alternate routes for those who may only know one route to a particular destination.  This gives it’s users a chance to get off the freeway if its stop-and-go and take the back roads, whether or not they are familiar with them.

COMPETING APPLI CATIONS:  One competing application is Traffic by CLO Software that sells for $1.99 on the iPhone app store.  Although the name is not creative, it is simple and very clear about what the topic of the app is.  While the application is very thorough in the details of what caused each traffic slowdown, it focuses too much on why there is traffic vs. what that means in terms of delays.  For example, click on a pinpoint on the map that indicates a traffic problem, and the app will convey to you whether the slow-down was due to road construction, an injury accident or a medical emergency.  While there is no harm in knowing these details, they seem to be irrelevant – commuters merely want to know what this means to them and their traffic times.

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One Response to “iPhone App: Road Report”

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  1. Week 6 : App Selection, UI | MCDM Smartphone Class - 31 July 2010

    […] Nicole: Road Report […]

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