Apple Maps Japan Transit Preview – Last Tea Leaf Reading

L-R Apple Maps Shinjuku station transit view, transit routing view
L-R Comparison of Apple, Google and Yahoo Japan transit routing views

Apple has provided the first preview (top image) of Japanese transit route information, strangely enough only on the recently revamped English language Newsroom page but not on the Japanese site.

It is only a single screen shot but let’s take one last look in the tea cup to see what’s coming with the iOS 10.1 update. The Shinjuku station footprint preview on the left is the same one from June, so we’re still missing Phil Spector’s Shiller’s updated September Keynote image. The transit route preview on the right is entirely new however, and the first detailed image of the soon to arrive service.

A quick comparison of Apple, Google and Yahoo Japan transit route list views is very interesting and shows the different UI design approaches. Apple’s UI is clean and spare,  the biggest difference with Google is that point to point search fields (in blue) are not shown.

Yahoo Japan is the most “Japanese” of the three, kanji-literal and the most informative with special icons for the fastest, easiest, and cheapest transit routes. A simple number and kanji combination instantly conveys how many transfers are involved while Apple and Google force the user to scan the whole line and count the number of transfers.

That’s the power and beauty of kanji Yahoo Japan can leverage effectively because they only have the Japanese market to service. Their design process starts with kanji. Apple and Google deliver less information because kanji are simply the end result of a translation process, not a design one.

I look forward to seeing everything in action and will review Apple Maps Japanese transit service in detail after the official launch.