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Trein for iPhone simplifies travel on crowded Dutch rails

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
We cover a good deal of releases on the App Store here on the AppleInsider iPhone blog, and we try to capture a snapshot of the best apps passing through. This app, while its audience may be limited, is a sterling example of what an iPhone App should be.

The word 'Trein' may just seem like poor spelling, but it is actually the Dutch equivalent for Train. The Dutch rail system is supposedly the third most crowded in the world - so any way of getting through it faster is a gift from above.

Trein (App Store, $2.99), by Dennis Stevense is an App designed to help you navigate through the perils of the Dutch rail system, plan future train rides, and more -- scraping information from the clunky and frustrating NS.nl website and channelling it into a functional form.

I'm going to be succinct: if you have an iPhone, and you use the Dutch railway in any capacity, you should get this app. So why is this such a good app?

Trein has three main components: Departures, Disturbances and a Planner. Disturbances is the most simple part, showing a list of disturbances in the network which you can then see in further detail by jumping through a link to the NS website.



The departures screen shows you what you would see on the Departures board in the actual train station - the major benefit being you don't have to stand in a throng of tall Dutch people, all gawking upwards. You can edit this screen as well, showing the departure boards of any number of train stations you choose. Selecting a specific station takes you to an expanded list of departures, from which you can select a departure to see the further details of a specific journey.

Lastly, the planner, which will suggest a number of journeys suited to information you input. Trein will tell you which platforms you need to go to at what time, and even integrates with iNap (App Store, $0.99), an app which sets off an alarm when you reach a certain proximity to a destination - perfect for train travel).

All of this is good. Really good, but what really makes apps like Trein shine is the effort put into the little details. Like the way it'll highlight in red if a train is leaving from a platform it doesn't usually depart from, or the ability to see a station inside the iPhone's built-in Maps application, or how you can look up train stations in Wikipedia with the tap of a button.



There's visual polish too, blending the iPhone's UI conventions with tastefully subdued images of trains and maps and maps of trains. Do you prefer your train journey to go via a certain station? No problem. Do you have no idea where you are and would like to know what the nearest station actually is? Done.

Trein is not only good because it's a cracking App for finding your way around Dutch train stations, but also because it's an example of a complete piece of software that it's loaded with every single feature you could want, but is still simple and intuitive to use.

It's not just easy to use, but pleasing to use - and that's the mark of a great app.
post #2 of 3
Not bad at all, although the NS website isnt as bad as you think if you use the WAP mobile version and is very fast. This is accessible here: http://mobiel.ns.nl

What this really looks like is an iPhone version of the PocketWijzer/PalmWijzer that is available from 9292ov -> http://www.9292ov.nl/9292OV24.asp only it just does NS railway, not the bus services. It all looks very polished though what would be the icing on the cake would be a timetable that doesnt require an internet connection, though there are probably copyright problems with this. This would be faster than making a net connection (though less reliable), and also faster for people with EDGE-only iPhones or connections.

I've found that the best source for an international train timetable is the one from the german Bahn website http://www.bahn.de/p/view/planen/rei...planbest.shtml which also includes the Dutch times and is very comprehensive. Again, a PDA version for WindowsMobile is available but no iPhone app yet.

All in all though, this looks like a great product.
post #3 of 3
Surfboy: No, no, no.. I've been using those websites for years. This application is in essence very different because it uses the iPhone's GPS-function.

Just open the application and it finds the nearest station AND the timetable. No need to type the name of the station. This app is all about integrating the GPS-function, which makes it so brilliant. And you can't use this app offline because how are you going to show the delays and disruptions? You need to be online. I'm giving this app an A+!
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