Apple adds transit directions for Boston

A screenshot of public transit lines in downtown Boston from Apple Maps.
A screenshot of public transit lines in downtown Boston from Apple Maps.

Two weeks after touting the addition of Boston public transit directions to its Maps app, Apple on Monday debuted the new service, which allows people to plot their routes on buses, subways, trolleys, and commuter rail in the Boston area using Apple Maps.

Boston joins Baltimore, Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington, D.C., and 300 cities in China where Apple now plots routes on public transportation.

The new transit features appear on the iPhone, iPad, and laptop/desktop for users with iOS 9 or Mac OS X El Capitan; there is no need to download an update to the app.

Apple says the markings on its maps correspond to the signage travelers will see when entering or exiting stations, to help them navigate their way around. For example, the familiar circle T logo of the MBTA is used on markings for the different subway lines, along with their colors.

Transit directions are a feature that Google has long offered on its map products (along with cycling directions); since introducing its own map app in 2012, Apple has struggled to catch up with Google’s offerings.

A quick comparison of the two services using a trip from UMass Boston in Dorchester to the Boston Public Library in Copley Square yielded similar results. Apple said the trip would take 41 minutes, going from the Red Line at the UMass Boston stop to the Green Line Copley station; Google estimated 48 minutes (or 30 if the traveler took Bus No. 8 to get to the UMass stop, instead of walking).

Have you tried out the new Apple transit directions? Let us know what you think.

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