Looking for a quicker way to find the drive time between two or more points, and optionally get directions? Google Maps may still be everyone’s go-to mapping application on mobile, but a new iPhone app called ETA is launching today to offer a simpler, faster and generally less cumbersome experience.
However, the app isn’t really competing directly with the mapping giants themselves. Instead, ETA is like an improved front end for finding drive times and kicking off the turn-by-turn navigation feature that the mapping companies provide.
The target audience for the ETA app are those in larger cities, where getting to various venues is often impeded by traffic congestion. ETA determines the travel time between your starting and end destinations, taking into account current traffic, and, with a tap, can provide you with quick access to directions, too.
To get started with the app, you press the plus button (‘+’) to add a new destination by place name or address. (ETA uses Apple’s location database for places.) Once added, travel time to the destination is calculated, and driving times are shown to the left. To see walking times instead, just swipe to the right.
If you also need directions, you just tap on the destination to launch your preferred maps app. By default, ETA uses Apple Maps for directions, but if you have Google Maps or Waze installed, you can choose to use one of those applications by making a change in ETA’s settings. No matter which map app you use, the maps app opens up with the route already plotted.
Since you can save your regularly visited destinations in ETA, it’s actually faster to use it over a traditional maps app like Google’s, where you have to first search for the destination, find the right one by swiping through the results, tap the directions button, tap how you’re traveling (walking, transit, biking, driving, etc.), select which route option you want from a list of choices, then tap to start the navigation.
With saved destinations, ETA boils this process down to a couple of taps – once to expand the destination, and again to launch the maps app which is poised to begin navigation.
The app was created by Melbourne-based Eastwood, a two-person company run by Anthony Harrison and Justin Almering, both who have technical and agency backgrounds. The two first met at a local studio back in 2008, when Almering was working as a Flash developer. He later transitioned to iOS development, which he’s been focused on for the past four years.
Now at Eastwood, where Harrison handles more of the business side of things, the two generate income for client work which they used to build ETA. The plan is to shift away from outside projects this year, in order to build their own products full-time.
Harrison explains that the idea for ETA came from his and Almering’s motivation to provide a “no fuss” experience where you could see travel times all on one screen. “Our inspiration came from ‘World Clock’ available inside Apple’s ‘Clock’ app. It clearly presents the current time at all your favorite cities around the world,” he says. “Our hope is that we accomplished this same clear presentation with ETA.”
To some extent, ETA competes with Google Now, which proactively alerts you about travel times, traffic, and distances to your next destination. But Harrison notes that ETA works even when you’re not organized enough to have meeting entries and addresses saved in your calendar, plus it could make sense for travelers who want to pre-load their day’s sightseeing destinations in a single interface before heading out.
ETA is available as a $1.99 download at launch, and will increase to $2.99 after the introductory sale. The company will not use in-app purchases or run ads, we’re told. “We just want to build out a tool that people find useful in whatever scenario works for them,” says Harrison.