The Short Summary
Ninja Commute iPhone Apps: Twist, Daily Commute and Waze.
Ninja Features in Each: Twist Notifications, Daily Commute Departure Timers, and Waze Route Information, Siri Voice to Text Entry
Setup Time: 10 - 15 Minutes
Step 1) Apps to Download:
Twist - http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/twist/id449988837?mt=8
Daily Commute - http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/daily-commute/id499636507?mt=8
Waze - http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/waze-social-gps-traffic-gas/id323229106?mt=8
* Create a folder on your iPhone home screen and call it "Commute". Place each of these apps in there so you can get to them easily and they are nice and tidy.
Step 2) Setup:
A) Launch Twist and read the short tutorial. Invite a significant other, family members, or anyone you see regularly. Setup your "Work" and "Home" addresses (Addresses are required).
B) Launch Daily Commute and read the short tutorial. Setup a "Work" and "Home" commute (Addresses are not required). Be sure to set the time you are excepted to arrive at work (8:30 AM for example). Do the same for your "Home" commute (6:00 PM for example). Complete one commute to "Work" and to "Home" so we can really exploit one of the best features of this app, the "Departure Timer". We'll discuss this more later.
C) Launch Waze and read the short tutorial. Setup a "Work" and "Home" address.
*Browse the interface for all 3 apps even though we aren't going anywhere yet.
**Recommended Accessory - Get some sort of iPhone case that has a built in or attachable kick stand. Your iPhone is now more than a phone, it is a mobile computing device you are going to put to work for you. You'll want to be able to view it easily on your night stand and on your desk at work.
Ok, that took 10 minutes of your life but trust me, it will pay dividends down the road, no pun intended :). Now, lets move on to understanding how each one of these apps can help us.
The Apps and Problems They Solve
Now that we have our tools in place, lets explore some of the common problems we have when we commute to and from work. You might be concerned about leaving on time in the morning to make sure you are not late to work, class or a meeting. You might be concerned with bad weather or traffic along the way. You might be concerned whether your kids made it with your spouse to daycare or school safely. In the evening, you might be rushing to get work done and hoping you don't forget to send a text message to a family member letting them know when you will be home. Or you might be worried you will forget something on the way home like picking up milk. These are common problems that everyone in the world faces, almost every day of our lives. Whether it is walking, bicycling or riding a bus, it doesn't matter. The problems are similar. So lets talk about each app and how they will solve these problems.
First, lets discuss Twist. This is one of my favorite new applications. Twist lets your friends, family, colleagues, etc... know your estimated time of arrival (ETA) to a location such as home or work. With two button clicks a new "Twist" (commute desitnation) is setup, and when you start moving the app sends text messages to those who would want to know your arrival time. So, lets say you want to let your wife know you dropped a child off at school but, you don't want to fumble with your phone while typing text messages and driving. You simply create a "Twist" for school and your wife or husband will receive notifications on your progress without any action needed on your end.
Next, lets talk about Daily Commute. Daily Commute prosecutes one idea very well, that once you start collecting data about past commutes, you can make better decisions about future commutes. Too many applications these days are focused on open source maps to predict travel times. Questions they try to answer are, "Is there traffic congestion or not and will I get lost"? The reality is, when you are commuting to the same location everyday, there is less tactical and more strategic data one can utilize to answer these questions, such as historic commute information. Lets use the example of stress associated with leaving for work at the right time to make sure you arrive on time. After you finish one commute in Daily Commute, you will see a "Depart In" timer/button on the main screen that will tell you exactly how long you have before you have to leave for work. As you get more commutes under your belt, this timer will become more and more accurate.
Lastly, lets discuss Waze. Waze is a social navigation utility. It has maps, but the data it warns you about is provided by other users. It will let the user know if someone else has seen a police officer this morning or if there is a wreck along your route and if so, will help you to find a new route. This app is better for navigating longer distances, however it can be useful on your commute as you will see.
We've talked in general about each application in our Ninja arsenal. Lets walk through a sample day using the strengths of each application to make our lives easier.
Your First Ninja Commute
You've setup each of your apps and you have logged one commute to "Work" and to "Home" in Daily Commute. Now you're ready to attack the day using every tool in your arsenal. Here is a sample day which would apply in some way or another to most people around the world.
You wake up and roll out of bed. Many of us have our iPhone charging on the night stand. We'll be using navigation services so we'll want to make sure we have a full battery to make it through our regular daily routine. You check your e-mail and text and find nothing has exploded at work and there are no fires to put out. Great. Time to get ready to go.
One might have a general sense of how long they have before they have to leave, but one doesn't know exactly how long they have before they need to be walking out the door. This is where the iPhone App Daily Commute comes in. Set your phone up using your kickstand (or prop it up) on the night stand or in the bathroom. Launch Daily Commute. You'll see a "Depart In" timer ticking away on the home screen. If you touch the timer it will expand into a large countdown clock. This is what you will keep an eye on in the 30 minutes to an hour it takes you to get yourself and maybe your family ready to leave.
While you are having your morning coffee and breakfast, open up Waze briefly. We don't need to "navigate" to work since we do it every day. However, it is a good idea to see if other users are reporting any major traffic issues along your route. Then go ahead and check your weather, read some news and maybe finish one more turn of Words with Friends. Open "Daily Commute" and setup your kick stand again until it is time to leave. When you have 5 minutes left before you have to walk out the door, you will notice that the departure timer screen changes to Yellow giving you a visual indication you need to get in gear. When it reaches zero the screen will turn to Red and if you aren't in your car already you should be. My kids got in the habit of looking at the countdown timer and started calling out to everyone in the house how many minutes we had before we had to leave. Hey, whatever works right. I recommend heading to the car when the departure timer turns yellow, especially if you have kids.
Now we're in the car and everyone is strapped in. Its off to work, school or wherever you might be commuting to. Since Daily Commute is still open, lets click one button "Leave" on the commute screen. Open Twist. Since we already have our "Work" location setup, we only have two button clicks to start our "Twist". I know what you're thinking, this sounds like a lot but it isn't. You will have a total of 3 button clicks between both apps which will take you a max of 15 seconds. Just make it part of your routine just as you would putting your key in the ignition.
We are in motion now, and with no intervention from the user side, the iPhone App Daily Commute is collecting our travel time along with delays, and Twist is notifying people who need to know about our departure time and arrival time. Your spouse will love it when they automatically receive messages saying you arrived at daycare or work ok, especially when there is a storm or perhaps a big traffic accident. And again, the beauty is, all of this happens automatically while you drive. When you arrive at work, click on the arrive button in Daily Commute. You can do the same in Twist or after 5 min of inactivity at your final destination it will close the Twist for you.
Now, you spend your day at work (or school or wherever). Open Daily Commute and set it up on its kick stand on your desk. Change your commute from "Work" to "Home" in the settings menu. Note: There is a "Return By" time you can setup in each commute, but this doesn't give you the much needed departure timer, so lets just use different commute entries for Work and Home. The Daily Commute Departure timer knows you want to be home by 6:00PM, so it has already made the calculation for you based on historic data trends and will now tell you how long you have before you have to leave work. Repeat your morning steps. When the departure timer turns yellow, check Waze and make sure the path home looks clear. Now open Twist and start a "Twist" for "Home". Don't worry, the twist won't start until you car starts moving. Open Daily Commute and click on the "Leave" button. Again, with just these few button clicks the apps start logging information for us and notifying people in our lives when we will arrive.
Curve Balls in our Commute
Lets throw a few kinks into our drive home. We run into an accident half way there. Twist will notify your spouse as your arrival time changes, and Daily Commute logs your delay time for review later. Again, this all happens without the user having to do a thing. Open Waze and pick a new route if you like.
Now we made it around the accident and it is smooth sailing from here. We are not far from home and our spouse adds a note to the "Twist" from her phone asking us to pickup milk. We are immediately notified with a Text message and in the app Twist. We pickup the milk, and head for home. Our spouse is notified via Twist when we are pulling in the drive way. He or she can have "just in time" dinner waiting. Meaning, it is ready when we walk in the door and not getting cold. We have one last simple task which takes 20 seconds though.
Lets Open Daily Commute and push the "Arrive" button. Lets enter some information indicating the reasons we were delayed so long on the way home. The last thing we want to do is type several sentences. Just click the "Microphone" button on the keyboard and let Siri type while you speak. Just say a few sentences about the accident and getting milk. Don't worry about correcting minor errors Siri might make. When reviewing outlier information in the stats menu in the future, we might ask, "Why was I so late that day"? Since we entered notes, we will know the reason.
That's it. Now you know the tools and some of the ninja moves (uses) to make your commute as simple as possible. The more you use these apps, the more comfortable you will become and you'll find new ways to use them. Eventually, you'll have ninja moves of your own. And, when someone asks, "How long is your commute to work"? You'll know it is 23 minutes instead of "about 30 minutes". When someone wants to know when you are going to arrive, they will get a text. Now the technology will be eliminating problems and working for you, automatically!