Latest changes to IMayBeLate.com

Over the past few weeks in between planning a wedding, doing a piano exam and attending a NFC hackathon, I’ve continued to work on www.imaybelate.com, trying to add new features and improve the application overall. In the past few days I’ve submitted app updates to Apple and Microsoft for approval and rolled out an updated website.

My apps just aren’t just selling Sad smile

At the end of  February, I launched the Windows Phone 7 and iOS apps for IMayBeLate. These just haven’t sold a lot at all. In total I’ve had about twenty six downloads across both platforms. I then update the Windows Phone 7 app to support a trial version, but that hasn’t helped organic sales at all. I won’t be retiring on that anytime soon!

To try and encourage more casual downloads, I’ve decided to make the app free on both platforms. As part of this move, I’ve applied limitations to certain parts of the application so that you need a Pro account to get access. The “To Work” journey is still free to use, but I’ve locked down the “Home” journey. I hope that this will give people a taste of the app’s usefulness for the first half of their commute. If they like it, they can upgrade to a Pro account and get the benefits for their journey home.

Since this move actually takes functionality away from those that have already purchased the app, I’ve upgraded all the accounts to Pro level. I’ll take this away after a month and that will hopefully serve as compensation to my users. The apps will become free once the updates have been approved.

National Rail

In an effort to provide more complete coverage of London’s transport system, I reached out to National Rail to try and get access to their live travel information. Unfortunately, I got knocked back completely. They just don’t allow automated consumption of the data and they also charge a fee for access. Since I’m a) using an automated service and b) doing this in my spare time, I had to give up on the idea. I may write to my MP in the future and see if they can do anything to make the company open their data up.

Advance Warnings

One of the earliest suggestions I received about the site was to give users the option to get advance warning of disruptions send directly to the them in addition to information being sent to others. This was something I had implemented as part of the smartphone app, in the form of a push notification, so it wasn’t a complicated change to make. I took the opportunity to clean up the website’s UI a little and I refactored a lot of code in the notification service to clean it up and make it more modular.

Advance warnings can be send up to an hour before the journey begins and they provide the user with an opportunity to takie an alternative route if their usual one is stuffed up. I’ll be building on this functionality in the future by adding more information.

What’s next?

The next feature I’m working on is the capture of the stations that are used as well as the lines. Gathering this information will help provide me with a more complete idea of the route a user takes. I can monitor TFL for station specific information, such as closures or emergencies, and use that to provide the commuter with a more complete picture of their travel situation.

Capturing this info also enables me to deal with more advanced scenarios. A good example of this is the effect that one line closure has on another.  A good example is the recent disruption to the Jubilee line, which in turn caused a knock on effect to the Thames Clipper and the DLR in addition to causing massive delays at Bank and Waterloo stations. I could also suggest alternative routes using TFL’s journey planner.

Please Sign Up

If you’re a London commuter that travels by tube, I encourage you to sign up and give my service a go. If you have any suggestions or comments please drop me an email to tomas@tomasmcguinness.com as I like hearing what people like and dislike.

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