Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thing 23

Here it is, the last thing, 23 of 23. This is pretty simple, analyze the program.

I'll use the prompts on the 23 Things webpage:

1) I'll say a lot has changed. I didn't realize there were so many great utilities for iPad and mobile devices and as such, I'm finding myself using my tablet more so than a PC.

2) Honestly, my favorite things were probably the games and hobbies, but I did enjoy the connecting to the community thing quite a bit.

3) I didn't connect too much with others doing the program, but HCL did launch a page in our staff web that allowed us to see who else was doing the program and their blogs. 

4) I'm really surprised how many useful tools are available for mobile devices. I've heard about people using tablets in place of laptops, but I didn't realize how easily it could be done! I knew smartphones were pretty high tech, but I never realized a mobile phone could do so much!

5) The major improvement I'd like to see made is making sure all apps/things are applicable to all staff and useable in their systems. I mentioned several times that some apps were useless to me as service staff and a few more times that while some apps had awesome potential, we couldn't use them since their functions (videos, presentations, info graphics) are handled at an administrative level.

6) I'd certainly do a similar program in the future. I love self paced learning!

7) FUN! Even some of the apps I had little use for where fun to dilly with and explore.

I guess that's all folks! Thanks to MN Multitypes for a fun program and the opportunity to participate. Thanks to my readers/followers; I hope I kept it fun, but informative.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thing 22

Wow, Thing 22 of 23...I've made it this far!

I'll start by saying I'm usually pretty content with just opening the app store in iOS, but I will look at Quixey and Apps Gone Free.

Quixey is web based for me since I'm on iOS so that is kind of a turn off. It's a great way to search for apps, but I feel a little silly going to Safari, opening this page and then having it jump back to the app store if I find something I'm interested in...at least I don't have to tell it what platform I'm using (like I would if I were visiting the site on a PC). I'm also noticing broken links when it comes to screen shots, truncated or disjointed descriptions (even when tapping/clicking "read more")...I'm finding it inferior to the app store as I got the same results searching "baseball" in Quixey and iTunes/Apple's app store. One redeeming quality about Quixey is that if my iPad isn't handy, I can use the site to search for apps on a PC and not need to download iTunes to see the results.

Apps Gone Free has a neat premise, I want to tinker with it and see if I can find a "deal" or bargain "one day only sale".

After going through some preliminary "previews" and explanations and selecting my iTunes store, I see that I can ask the app to send me notifications, which is probably good...After tinkering with Apps Gone Free for a few minutes, I'm a little disappointed; I don't see a way to search for any type of app, I just get to see what the app found. I suppose if I used the app daily for a few weeks, I'd stumble across something but it's certainly not for instant gratification.

I'll give Apps Gone Free some credit since, as I said, it's a neat idea and the apps you are shown on a given day have great explanations and you can search previous days as well, but if you wait too long, Apps Gone Free will let you know that the promo expired.

For all intents and purposes, I'll stick with the app store as its built in to the iPad, it's a little more direct, a lot less cumbersome and it's native to iOS.

Thing 21


The 23 Mobile Things program has done a wonderful job with apps that cover just about everything but I do have one I want to share I haven't seen much about: weather.

Weather is a big deal in Minnesota, we complain and/or talk about it all the time. Hey, at least we live in a state with seasons (and no, not just winter and road construction...) and differing, surprising weather patterns. There are all sorts of weather apps out there; iPhone comes with a native app and for iPad (and Android) users there are the local TV channels (KSTP and KMSP for sure) that offer specialized weather and severe weather apps, there's The Weather Channel, NOAA, Weatherbug, Yahoo and my favorite, AccuWeather (to name a few).

How accurate the "accu" is in Accuweather is debatable, but what drew me to Accuweather initially is the price (free), the graphics, the interface, the iPad optimization and ease of use. There might be better apps, but this is the one I use and I'm pretty happy with it.

Some quick images:

AccuWeather (and probably any of them) can use your location and give you notifications of approaching weather, warnings and watches, etc. Those are great, especially if you can't get a TV signal. The current conditions give, well the current conditions and there's an option to view a graph of the temp, a health index (allergies, etc) a sports index and an outdoor activity index. In addition to the forecast and current conditions, there's radar, news, video, social media, and a hurricane center (don't need that too much).

The only complaints I have about AccuWeather (the app anyway) is that there's no "future" or storm track options on the radar and that the 15 day forecast is pretty wishful once you get beyond a few days.

One other app I'd like to mention is i.TV . I might have been able to put it under hobbies, but what I use it for isn't so much hobby as it is info. i.TV has a large social media aspect, among things, but what drew me to it was the accurate, detailed listings section. Having cut cable long ago, I don't have Xfinity or the like and their built in guide/listings, but this app is more than an appropriate substitute. Kind of cool to see if a show is available on iTunes, Netflix or Hulu too.
i.TV isn't perfect, but it works for me. I recommend it.

Thing 20

Games? I get to blog about games?! AWESOME. Games take up way too much space on my personal iPad, almost half...but when 3 people use it, I suppose that's bound to happen.

A couple of disclaimers
1) I like mobile games, this will be a long post

Ok, so the 23 things page suggests some great apps/games. I'm familiar with 3 of them, so I'll start with those.

First: Candy Crush Saga. I honestly don't understand this game at all, but it is my wife's vice. That is all

Next: Minion Rush. This is one of the first apps I downloaded to my iPad when we got it. I am a Despicable Me and Minion fan, so it was a natural fit...until I got frustrated and deleted it. When my daughter started expressing interest in Minions and Despicable Me I figured I'd put it on there again, just for her...and found myself addicted again. It's not really a major break through in mobile gaming or anything, you use swipe commands to have your Minion (looks like Dave, for those that know their Minions) run a course. You have to dodge obstacles and have the occasional "boss" battle (where I got stuck originally, until I found out how to "beat" them) all while collecting bananas, bapples, Gru and Nefario's inventions and yes,  trying to become Minion of the year. Points are awarded for distance covered and bananas collected, all the other things I mentioned are tools to unlock levels and gifts. Of course the developers inserted all sorts of in-app purchases to tempt you, but they're not necessary if you have a little patience. It's graphics are pretty good for a mobile game and the license is what really makes it shine.

Third: Frogger Free. Oh how I wanted to love and try this game, but download-er, beware. After reading the complaints in the App Store about the bugginess and crashing, I decided to fore-go this one. I loved Frogger as a kid and the premise is really adaptable to a mobile game. Too bad it doesn't work.

Now, on to some "original" ideas.

1) Real Racing 3. The second app I put on my iPad. The major downside, it's HUGE. If your device is low on memory (by design or your own doing) stay away, it's 1.8 GB...but if you like to drive accurately recreated cars on very well designed sims of mostly real courses, this is a must have. Totally free to download, patience is key and the ads aren't too intrusive. If you're ok with in-app purchases (IAPs) they're there for you. By default, the game uses your device's tilt function as your steering and throttle and brake are AI (artificial intelligence) controlled. You can tinker with those setting to your liking for a more immerse experience.

2) CSR Racing (and CSR Classics). Another car game. Hey, I like cars! What did you expect? Difference between CSR and Real Racing is apples and oranges. CSR concentrates on "street" racing, so you pick one of several detailed recreations of real vehicles and drag race, basically. The keys (ha, get it) to the game are in managing your launch and shifts and using in-game currency to upgrade your car and/or buy new ones. Like any good game, the further in you go, the tougher the challenges. Keeping with the "street" theme, the game has a few different modes. Daily challenge, ladder and crew. Daily challenge assigns you a car and a goal. Meet it and you win cred. Ladder allows you to race your car against consecutively tougher opponents and in crew mode, you start out as a noob on the scene and you take out the boss' guys race by race.

3) Angry Birds! Who hasn't tried Angry Birds? Sure, it lost some of its pop-culture luster, but it's still pretty popular. I downloaded the free version...which is supported by very annoying, intrusive ads. There are banner ads on every level, animated ads between levels, still ads between levels...and the most annoying thing is if you don't tap the "X" just right...you go to the app store and the app that is being advertised. IF you can deal with that, it's the same as regular Angry Birds: launch your birds via slingshot and/or use their attacks to destroy the pigs and the structures protecting them.

4) Hungry Shark Evolution. You're character is a hungry shark (no surprise), it's up to you to feed him. You swim about an ocean, eating fish, crabs, turtles, birds, the occasional person...as you advance, you level up your shark. As your shark levels up, it becomes stronger and can't be eaten by enemy sharks, stung by rays, etc. Once one shark is leveled up, it can evolve to the next species. The game uses tilt or touch controls, I prefer touch, personally.

5) The Sims: FreePlay. If you're not familiar with The Sims, it is a long running strategy game/life-simulation. You create little sim-people (the titular Sims), build them houses, find them jobs, foster relationships and ultimately create another generation of Sims to keep your world populated. It can be really in-depth or really silly, your choice. The mobile game sticks with the series' long running themes but introduces some mobile game-esque themes of its own. The game takes place in real time (when it's night-time in reality, it is in your Sims' world too). Technological constraints also limit the amount of Sims one can have and there are fewer levels. Actions take real-time (your Sim can be told to sleep for 7 hours and it will sleep that long, unless you interrupt or cancel the command). It too, is kind of a memory hog (800MB) and tempts with IAP to speed things up and/or buy in-game currency. I've been able to avoid them, but this is another game that takes LOTS of patience to succeed at, if you want to avoid paying real $.

6) The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Oh Homer, will you ever learn...One day, instead of working (well that's every day) Homer Simpson is engrossed in his Happy Little Elves game on his "myPad" (Simpson reference to iPad...) instead of paying attention to the critical warning signs that a nuclear meltdown is imminent. You can guess what happens. Homer survives and is tasked with re-building Springfield...which you make him do. Throughout the game, other Simpsons characters re-appear in the new Springfield as you rebuild. Long story short, this is SimCity with the Simpsons. I've been watching the Simpsons since 1990 and I find myself quite addicted to this game. See my advice regarding IAP for other games I've mentioned to save yourself real $.

7) Flick Kick Field Goal. Does it really need much explanation? 3 game modes: practice, precision and sudden death. Practice is well, practice. Precision is accuracy based; you have 20 kicks from various lengths and you're trying to kick it as straight down the middle as possible. Right down the middle is worth 100%, just inside the bar, 50%, a miss is 0. After all your kicks, the game averages your accuracy for your score. Sudden death, make as many kicks in a row as you can from consecutively harder distances; miss and it's over.

 8) NASCAR Manager. I've been meaning to try this out and now I have an excuse. This game is part racing, part strategy, part sports manager. First and foremost, you're the crew chief, the leader of a fictional race team. You're given challenges to pass during "Speedweeks" (NASCAR exhibition season) and if you pass them, you can lead your team through a season or a 5 year career. It was fun, but nothing overwhelming; you get plunked into the driver's seat on a few occasions and do a little steering, braking, accelerating and so on; you manage your driver's strategy and your team pit strategy. You're given upgrades as you level-up and you have to figure out how and when to purchase them and how to optimize them. If done right, they allow you to run with the big boys. It's fun, but the only stand-out thing about the game is the NASCAR license which allows for real tracks, drivers, sponsors, etc. The price is a strong point since it is free, other than that it kind of reminds me of CSR but going in a circle. Can't complain about the graphics either.

I'll end by summarizing here: If you can think of a game, there's probably an app for it. We have found Solitare, Spider Solitare, Chess, Checkers, MineSweeper and FreeCell...to name a few.

All the listed games appeal to some of my interests, ranging from the strategies (racing, obstacles, sims) to the topic (football,cars) to the licenses (The Simpsons, Despicable Me). They are great ways to unwind and kill time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thing 19

Hobbies, I have hobbies...a few anyway. Remember Apple's slogan circa iPhone 3G "There's an app for that"? (fun break! here's a YouTube video of the commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szrsfeyLzyg) funny thing is, there probably really is an app for any hobby.

I see a few apps listed on the 23 Things page to try: The ESPN app (I like sports, remember?) and I think I'll look at The Sibley eGuide to birds of North America app since my daughter and I like looking at birds and though she's very young, I think we can both get something out of it.

Note to all: It maybe just me, but ESPN Score Center is now ESPN SportsCenter for iPhone as well.

I see that the app wants you to log-in or create an account...blech, enough of those...though I suppose I can use Facebook (FB) to sign in since that's an option. Of course, FB wants to give ESPN or ESPN wants access to everything in your profile, so one may want to pass on that. On the upside, you can comment on stories and manage your favorite teams, leagues, etc but even without signing-up or signing in, you can still access scores, news, etc.

I like ESPN's app over the plethora of other specialized sports apps since it's a one stop shop, no need to download the apps for all the teams and leagues I like to follow but there's still the fact that the so-called ESPN bias can creep into stories and "news". Good joke I saw on social media the other night was how the Wild forced Game 7 of their playoff series but ESPN needed to spend a half-hour talking about Bryce Harper's broken thumb...if you don't completely get it, Bryce Harper plays on D.C. 's baseball team and is one of ESPN's favorite topics.

I don't want to spend a lot of time blabbering on about ESPN so I'll wrap up and reiterate that while ESPN has their faults they are still a good source and their app streamlines finding scores and news about my teams and my favorite sports. It's easy to use and has a lot of content.

Bird watching isn't a hobby of mine per se, but I do enjoy reading about wildlife and I really enjoy passing on a love and respect for nature to my child since we spend a lot of time outside going for walks around the parks and various nature "sanctuaries"in our neighborhood. This app can help us learn about the species we see commonly.

The first impression I get from the app's "title page" or "cover" is that it's very graphic and detailed, (upon further use, I'll find that that's true!
There's a Menu tab (with a "start here" helper) and an intro and help tab. Me, being a guy, I don't like looking at or asking for directions (wink wink)so I skipped right to the main menu which give options to look by taxonomic names, alphabetic names, a smart search that breaks things down by color, occurence, etc (see example), a search by location and an option to view a list ("My List") you make via the app.

The first bird I thought I'd look at is the ubiquitous American Robin. Lots of good illustrations showing sexual dimorphism, regional variations, what the juveniles look like along with a nice map of their range, an example of their calls and some encyclopedic info about the species. Take a look for yourself:

For fun, I tapped the the little stylus-like icon on the upper right corner and added the bird to my list, which is useful as a pretty simple log of where and when you saw the bird along with a box for comments. Again, not much of a bird watcher here, but that would be a great feature for those that are.

I might add this app to my home iPad and heck, we might even leave it on the work one since we can see the Mississippi River and the surrounding environs, never know what we might see.

I will give a brief overview of a couple of apps I use for hobbies: IGN, Star Walk and Star Chart

IGN is a well-known video game magazine that also slightly caters to Hollywood buffs and comic fans. Their app allows you to break down your interests and caters them to you; for instance if you have no interest in Role-playing (RPG) games, but love sims, shooters (FPS) and sports, you'll be able to hear less about RPGs and plenty about FPSs; you can also indicate your interests in TV, movies and technology. The downside is in order to all of this...yup, you guessed it, you need to create an account or log-in via Facebook. If you've been following me here, you know my reservations about having eight zillion accounts and especially connecting things with Facebook, if not, to summarize, I hate it...so invasive! The app itself allows you to look at reviews about games, DVDs, movies, etc. It lets you know what's coming out soon that you might be interested in and allows you to watch various videos, etc. To be clear, if any fellow semi-gamers are reading, IGN's app is not IGN magazine mobile or ign.com.
One more thing (insert Columbo voice) To be honest, if you're into Hollywood, there's better apps than IGN. IMDb comes to mind...

Star Chart and Star Walk are two astronomy apps I use. I love gazing at the night sky, looking through a telescope or using Augmented Reality (AR) on my tablet. A layman's definition of AR is by using coordinates from your device's built in compass(/GPS), the app creates a replica of the sky you're looking at, it's almost like a hand-held Planetarium! Star Walk is arguably the more popular of the two but it costs $2.99 so I'm not putting it on my work iPad, though I have it at home. Star Chart is free, but a lot of the "expanded" options (dwarf planets [i.e. Pluto], satellites, expanded star catalog, etc) have to be purchased...and in the end Star Walk costs a little less than letting Star Chart nickel and dime you. Star Chart does have a sibling app called "Star Chart Infinite" that bundles all of Star Chart's expanded options, but it still ends up being $4.99...so Star Walk ends up being cheaper. In a way, it's a Coke vs Pepsi or an Acura vs BMW thing. Maybe Honeycrisp apples to Florida oranges...anyway, it's hard to compare the two exactly; while they do the same thing one starts free but ends up being more expensive and some people might expect and want more from the more expensive option. They both have their strengths. My honest (long-winded) opinion is this: Star Chart looks better graphically, is a little more intuitive and even without the premium content, lets you see a lot of things in the night sky. Star Chart also lets you explore the planets (and their natural satellites, if purchased) in more depth. Star Walk has a companion app called Solar Walk that I hear does a neat model of our solar system, but it's a totally different app and costs another $2.99, while the solar system upgrade in Star Chart is $0.99. Star Walk on the other hand has more initial content and actually ends up being a bit simpler to use once you get it figured out; for instance, Star Chart has this tendency to automatically "snap" to the closest constellation, so even when I wanted to center on Mars, it snaps to the Constellation Virgo, on Star Walk, I can center on Mars. It's hard to describe without really experiencing...as for the graphics, it's not that Star Walk's are horrible, but Star Chart's were (supposedly) created by people with backgrounds in the video game industry and I find them a little more pleasing. A few things that Star Walk has that Star Chart can't duplicate though (and this is what gives it a narrow win in my book) is access to NASA, the European Space Agency and other international government space agency photos of celestial bodies. There is a feature that uses your device's camera and then creates an overlay of what's there and Star Walk also has a "sky live" feature that tells you sunrise and sunset, moon rise and set, moon phases and any/all planets you can see and when to look for them.

I'll give a few pictorial examples of Star Chart and Star Walk for comparison's sake; top 3 are Star Chart, others are Star Walk

Honestly, the reason I kept Star Chart after purchasing Star Walk was because I more or less accidentally purchased the solar system upgrade and found it superior to the solar system content in Star Walk. I'm not that big of a star nerd.

If you read this far in, thanks. There are so many hobbies and apps for them, one could blog forever about them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thing 18

Thing 18, education. As the post on the 23 things site says, there are many apps for education and educational purposes; it's hard to start and pick. I do like the list they provided and I think I'll do a quick blog about Google Earth (something I'm familiar with and use personally) and I'll take a look at iTranslate.

I suppose that library staff could find a professional use for Google Earth, especially the crafty ones, but I don't know that I can come up with one. Beyond giving directions or using it as a reference to find a place (which I'd use something a little simpler for anyhow), I'm stumped.

I do use Google Earth for fun and sometimes as a reference to find a place, but I don't necessarily recommend or use it for directions; I prefer Apple's native app for that(go ahead and joke) and since my iPad doesn't have cellular capability, I don't exactly bring it along and look for directions "on the fly". Google Earth does have the same street view option as Google Maps and it uses gesture (pinching, swiping, etc) for zooming, looking around, moving around, etc. and it's pretty intuitive to use. I guess to shortly sum up Google Earth, it's a fun tool to learn some geography and monkey with, but it's not something I'd use beyond that.

The reason I want to look at iTranslate is that I see it as a useful tool for both my professional life and personal life. Hennepin County (my system) with little doubt, is Minnesota's most diverse place. As such, we encounter a lot of diversity in our libraries, even in the "far flung" exurban ones. Not all of our patrons speak English and only some staff speak second languages. I would LOVE to have a tool that can translate so we can better serve our patrons and let them hear what we have to say in their native tongue and vice versa. It might be a little akward at first, but a mobile device and app could help us with that.

On a personal level, I could use iTranslate to brush up and re-learn a second language I'm familiar with, but not fluent in...Between high school and college, I took 4 years of Spanish, so I do have a decent vocabulary but my grammar is horrible and I find that I make myself nervous when trying to converse with a native speaker, I want to rectify that.

Unfortunately, iTranslate is a bit of a let down and initially feels like a run around of an app. The app has been changed completely since the 23 Things page was first published, so when you download it, the first thing it asks you is if you want to download the new universal (phone and tablet, iOS 7 optimized) version, which isn't fully necessary...unless you want to use the voice recognition feature which is a premium (paid) option and it's $2.99. While that's not an outrageous price, it is annoying since that was one of the features I was really looking for and I believed was part of the app, guess I didn't look at the fine print, huh?

I do want to give credit where it's due and will because iTranslate is a good translator. One can enter text and/or copy and paste in many (81 total) languages and there's a detect feature in case you have no clue what language you're looking at, but would like to see. For example 
I picked a simple sentence in Spanish that I know the translation for and was slightly impressed, considering I didn't use proper Spanish accent and grammar.

I won't include a photo example, but it's easy to copy and paste, just swipe the first box and you'll have a little icon to access your clipboard and the copied text will paste and translate. You can also revisit your translation history by tapping the upper right icon, kind of nifty.

In the end, I'll admit I'm a little disappointed with iTranslate, not because it's a bad app, but my ideas for its use have been unfounded. I suppose you could hand the device to someone, if they're trust worthy and have them enter text and vice verse, but I really liked the idea of voice recognition. For personal use, iTranslate can still meet my expectations to an extent, though Bing and Google both have the same simple translation capabilities and you can access them via your preferred web browser, not sure I really want or need an app. Personal preference, I suppose. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thing 17

Hey, I can get my groove back, apps I know, use and probably can use.

Connecting to our communities is important, I'm glad we're exploring that. Stick with me while I think of a way to use one of these apps professionally. In the meantime, I'll cover a few personal use ones.

Minnesota 511 hats of to thee (think of the tune to the U of Mn rouser, bonus points if you know the words...then you'll get it). I love this app, I check it every morning on the way out the door and if I had a smartphone, I'd probably use it there most. You get road conditions throughout the state in an easy to understand color coded interface, same goes for traffic. You can also view incident details and the metro traffic cams. Take a look:
 Zoomed in
Forgot to mention that you can search by location, roadway, etc
If you're familiar with MnDot's traffic info website...you can get the hang of this app in a snap, it's more or less the scaled down, mobile friendly version.

Oh one thing...you have to agree not to use the app while driving...that message pops up the first time you open the app. I'm sure everyone follows that agreement, right? Seriously, it's a good idea, but ya know what I mean...

An app I just had to try once I saw it was the Minnesota State Fair app. 
It's last year's version (understandably...it is April and while some concert dates for 2014 are set, there is still a lot of time and planning to do) and probably makes more sense on a phone than a tablet (who brings a tablet to the fair? I'd be afraid to get grease or sugar or something all over it, that and I need both of my arms and hands to carry my bags and things on a stick. At least I could put a phone in my pocket). Obsolescence aside, I still want to check out this app and blog about it...from the home page, you can access a food finder, a merch finder, a fun finder and a map. All three "finders" are sorted alphabetically with the options to search for a specific vendor or event and/or break it down categorically and you have the option to bookmark them, you know, in case you finish your bucket of cookies and want to get more. The map is little more than an electronic version of the paper map you can get at the info booth. I decided to forego more photo examples and refer readers to the images at the app store since they're basically the same as what I'd post. It's pretty cool and I recommend it!

I thought I'd take a look a look at something local to Minneapolis that I know I could use both personally and professionally and while Minneapolis Open Spaces did appeal to me I said to myself "hmm, public transit". My main library is located along one of North Minneapolis' busier lines and is within walking distance of the busiest line in North Minneapolis and one of its first ring suburbs  so we do occasionally do get questions about the buses, schedules, etc. Strangely enough, Metro Transit of Minneapolis-St. Paul does not have their own official app, though they do list apps on their website with an explicate disclaimer that they don't promote or guarantee any app over another...user, beware. I browsed the list, saw that several of them were pay (which would be fine if it were just for me) and after some crash course research via Google and the App Store, I found Transit App.

Transit App, to overview it quickly, is an international app that works in cities that use open transit data. Unfortunately, I don't know how to properly explain what that means...but I believe it has to do with systems that use GPS to track their buses and don't encrypt the data. Maybe it's best to put a link here to see the site and FAQ  thetransitapp.com

Another reason I picked Transit App? Read the following from their site "Why use a trip planner when you already know the way? With Transit, all nearby departures are just a tap away. Not sure which route to take? Don't worry, our easy-to-use trip planner can still show you the way!" As I said, my library is located on or near busy routes, people likely know the way but just need to know the times or how long they'll be waiting; if not, we still have options.

The first thing to do is let the app locate you...that might seem obvious, but in case you are helping out a new mobile user, that's something you might need to explain.
The app picked my location up almost exactly, we are actually at 4203 Lyndale...but whatever.

Tapping the "Nearby" icon leads you to, you guessed it, nearby lines and real time estimates

The route listed first is the nearest and they go in descending order. When you tap on a route, you can swipe to switch directions and you get access to the schedule, a favorites icon and my favorite feature of the app, the actual nearly real-time tracker. Since we have a southbound stop right in front of us and the northbound stop across the street, that's pretty easy to point out...what's cool is showing people where the bus is in relation to that stop.
Besides that, the to and from here icons access the trip planner 

and the icons on the bottom re-orient the map and gives access to the list of routes.

I do realize Metro Transit has a mobile friendly site, but an app is just easier; on top of that, depending on the mobile platform, an app is probably more visually pleasing and easier to use.

I think I'll call it a wrap for Thing 17; I explored two personal apps and one that can be used by any of us, both personally and professionally.