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Tube Tracker for iOS helps you get around London's Underground, Overground and DLR


Tube Tracker (US$2.99) is the ideal companion for those traveling London's Tube (underground train service), the DLR (Docklands Light Rail) and the London Overground rail service.

I've lived in London for over 12 years. Almost everyday I use London's rail network in one form or another to get around the city. To this day, every now and again, I still get excited about using the network. I get overwhelmed by its sheer scale, size and the complexity of it. It's simply an incredible feat of engineering. According to the Transport for London website, there were 1.1 million passenger journeys on the Tube in the 2011 - 2012 period. There are stations and tunnels dozens of meters underground. It is incredible! However, there are days, more often than not, when I can't stand to be on the network. Unexpected delays, overcrowding and getting lost are very real problems train travelers face in London. That's where Tube Tracker comes in.

I've spent the last few days using Tube Tracker and I've found it to be one of the most comprehensive apps I've used to navigate the London Underground, DLR and London Overground. When you first open the app, you're presented with a list of stations from the nearest to the farthest from you. Tube Tracker uses your iPhone's GPS to indicate how far away you are from a station -- to the nearest meter -- as well as displaying a GPS compass next to each station to point you in the direction of that station.

The colors of the train lines that operate through each station are shown next to the name of each station, so from a glance you can easily see which station you need to get to in order to catch the train you're looking for. For example, if you need the Central Line, which is identified with red, simply scroll down until you see some red next to a station name.

As well as the station list being populated according to location, you can also set the list to either show recent stations visited or stations you've indicated as favorites because you've starred them.

When you tap on a station name, you're shown a map of the station as well as the platforms at the station. Tapping on the platforms shows you a list of trains due and how long it will be until they arrive.

Gallery: Tube Tracker | 4 Photos

For me, the above features alone are incredibly useful. Say I need to catch a train to Highbury & Islington, which is on the London Overground line, indicated by an orange color. I open Tube Tracker and see that the nearest station to me is Shoreditch High Street, a London Overground Station at 460 meters away. I know that Shoreditch High Street serves the London Overground line because the orange color is displayed next to that station name. I tap on the station name and see that from platform one, a train will arrive for Highbury & Islington in three minutes, then a Dalston Junction train in eight minutes and then another Highbury & Islington train in 11 minutes.

Just from a glance and a single tap, I now know what time I need to leave, which train I need to catch, when it will arrive and which platform it will arrive on. This information is pulled directly from Transport For London (TFL), so if there are any delays or cancellations, it will be updated here. Extremely useful!

On top of that, Tube Tracker also has a complete and searchable TFL map, live service updates, a journey planner, first and last train times, offline mode and service update alerts, which can be set by date, time and train line. This really is a comprehensive and extensive list of features.

I've really enjoyed using Tube Tracker over the last few days. It's well-designed and particularly easy to read and navigate. If you're a Londoner or you're planning on visiting London anytime soon, Tube Tracker is most certainly worth checking out.

If you're looking for a couple Underground app alternatives (one of them free), check out fellow Londoner and TUAW blogger Michael Grothaus' post here featuring two of his favorite apps to navigate the Underground.

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