Apple rolls out transit directions in Japan for iOS 10.1 beta testers

in iPhone edited October 2016
Ahead of an official debut scheduled to arrive with iOS 10.1 later this month, Apple on Wednesday activated the Apple Maps Transit feature for major metropolitan areas in Japan, including Tokyo and Osaka.

First announced in July, and set to arrive alongside Apple Pay as part of iOS 10.1, Japan's version of Transit integrates public transportation timetables and first-party indoor mapping data directly into Apple Maps. Support appears to be rolling out in urban centers nationwide, though Apple's official coverage area is as yet unannounced, reports local blog Ata Distance.

Rail transport timetables are a particularly important service in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo. With iOS 10.1 beta, Apple Maps pulls data from a variety of third-party services to deliver up-to-the-minute arrival and departure times, as well as comprehensive line hopping directions. In Tokyo, for example, Transit supports lines operated by JR Tokyo, Toei, Odakyu, Tokyo Metro, Narita Express and Keio.

In addition to train times, Apple includes indoor maps for large railway stations and underground subway stops. Apple reportedly started work on the indoor mapping effort in August.

With iOS 10.1, Apple is expected to roll out an Apple Pay iteration in Japan that goes hand-in-hand with the upcoming Transit capabilities. Specifically, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2 models sold in the country support FeliCa Type-F NFC contactless technology. The implementation extends Apple Pay support to Suica transit cards from JR East and tap-to-pay systems from Docomo and QUICPay.

Apple CEO Tim Cook during a recent trip to Japan took the opportunity try out Suica at a toll gate on JR East's Yamanote Line in Tokyo. Whether or not he used Transit directions to make it to his train is unclear.

Launched last year as part of iOS 9, Transit delivers top-down views of underground subway and train stations, as well as graphics that match local road signage. The extra information helps users plan a more efficient commute, and is especially useful when traveling to unfamiliar cities, Apple says. The unique features, which go above an beyond transit navigation offerings from the likes of Google, are needed as Apple plays catch-up with its competitors.

Transit availability is limited to large metropolitan areas in the U.S., as well as select cities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, England, Germany and Mexico.

Apple is rumored to release iOS 10.1 with Apple Pay on Oct. 25.


  • Reply 1 of 4
    Apple pressing the gas pedal in Japan.  Great job 

  • Reply 2 of 4
    At last.  Just a tiny correction though—there is no JR Tokyo.  The correct abbreviated name is JR East.  It is one of many regional operators in east Japan.
  • Reply 3 of 4
    The two times I've been to Tokyo I've always been so overwhelmed by their transit. It was super confusing for me. 
  • Reply 4 of 4
    They definitely don't have the internal maps for big stations done yet.

    I have mixed feelings about it so far. It seems like it draws on the same design they've used elsewhere, which I don't think is a good fit for Japan. They don't list when your train arrives at a station. They don't list how much time you have to transfer trains. They don't list where in the train you need to be to make your transfer. The details don't list your arrival time. They'll list the next trains, which I've never seen in an app here before. Every other app knows how long transfers take and you make. Trains run exactly on time here.

    It's also really difficult to look through different routes. There are a lot of clicks that need to be make where you should be able to scroll. The interface needs a lot of work. It's also missing a quick select to see the first train and last train. A major omission. 

    They have created their own abbreviations for the lines that make it difficult to understand. JC? JE for the Keiyo line? It makes no sense as it doesn't match what's in the stations or the lines themselves use. Write out the name. 

    Walking times to the lines seem inflated too, especially for large stations. It definitely doesn't take me 13 minutes to get to the marunouchi line from my office. Most of that time is unlisted in the directions. Between a nearby underground exit and boarding the train. No directions in the map or idea why Apple thinks it should take that long. 
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