Coming from a small town in Maryland, I was only slightly terrified of public transportation when I moved to New York City in August. I was not sure how I was going to successfully navigate the streets, let alone the subway.
Until the day I heard the magic word, “HopStop.”
An iPhone application that could tell me everything about how to use the subway system to get from point A to point B, almost down to how many foot steps I should actually take.
HopStop provides step-by-step directions to the user’s desired destination, beginning with current location. Recently used destinations are remembered by the app, saving the user from repeatedly having to type out an address. It then provides several route options, as well as an ETA for each one, which I appreciate because I can easily chose what makes the most sense for me at the time. The user can select the preferred route, and then detailed directions are provided. It leads to the subway stop, tells when to exit the subway, and how to get to the final destination from the subway exit. The detail in the direction is what makes the app so helpful and successful because it assumes that the user really has no clue what they are doing (a safe assumption in my case). HopStop also provides train schedules, stations, and a transit map. Now that I have become more familiar with the city, it’s nice to be able to see the transit map for a bigger picture when planning my travel. Trips can be reversed, saved, and viewed on a map.
The downside to HopStop is that it can’t be used without service, so if the user is riding the subway and exits the application, directions can’t be accessed again until they’ve resurfaced. But there are ways to get around this- like screen shots, or resisting the temptation to play Fruit Ninja long enough to keep HopStop open for the duration of the ride. It is for this reason only that I give it a 9/10.
HopStop is an interesting application from a marketing standpoint as well because it grew entirely via word of mouth, without the push of other traditional marketing techniques. Being that its target demographic is people in the 18-39 year old age group, the heavy social media use that is typical of this demographic was a big factor in spreading the word. Now, 37 percent of its users use the application 25 times a month or more, and 72 percent use it within 24 hours of their previous use.
HopStop is my favorite app because it provides hope for those who are directionally challenged. It is my crutch so that I can wander around the city, aimlessly or otherwise, and never worry about how I am going to get home. It is my own personal key to the city.