Lapis SBB

Tap on the screen to see that half-transparent station buttons you can configure. When buttons are visible, you can also swipe over time table area to see later departures
Tap on the screen to see that half-transparent station buttons you can configure. When buttons are visible, you can also swipe over time table area to see later departures

The history of this app

I initially wrote this program for myself, after the attempt to use available "official" alternatives.

A typical app to query timetable attempts to plan all your route. This would be great, but

  • This requires to specify both the departure stop and destination.
  • And you screen is tiny.
  • And you may need to make a query while walking, and maybe is raining.
  • And you may miss your tram or bus just because of spending too much time while dealing with your phone.

The best use cases

I simply have discovered that for such cases buttons for pre-defined queries work better. The app I propose allows to configure easily 20 or about buttons that just list the current station board. This is enough for all stops and stations you use in Switzerland for absolute majority of cases. The main use cases where such simplified tool is really efficient are

  • You are sitting comfortably at work, home or pub with your friends, and want to come to the train, tram or bus stop when the transport arrives. This way you are not even interested that is the optimal connection right now; instead you simply need a hint when it is better to start your travel.
  • You are on a bus or tram and you are passing the train station. Ability to see the list of trains departing from that station right now may help to decide between getting out and switching into train or staying inside the bus that probably could also deliver you to your destination, while maybe slower.
  • You need to know more in advance about the current delays that may prevent you from making the planned connections.

The controls hide after a few seconds, leaving all screen just for the information you need
The controls hide after a few seconds, leaving all screen just for the information you need
The application uses all screen of the device to show the transport connections for you. Station buttons and other controls appear after you shortly tap on the screen. The station management button on the top right allows you to add, rename and remove stations buttons.

Configuring station buttons

When adding new station, you first need to type the approximate name of it. A web query will be made, and the you need to choose between potential hits. Some official station names are too long to be displayed on the button, so the program automatically proposes the shortened name (nickname) as well. You can set it any, even "The village of witches" if such preferred.

The "]" button drops the first word from the nickname, making from "Zurich, Faellanden" just "Faellanden", for instance. Similarly, the "]" on the opposite side drops the last word it it would happen it is "Faellanden, Zurich". This allows to create short, easy to recognize nicknames without messy editing with on screen keyboard.

The list of current stations is at the bottom of the configuration activity (you may need to hide you onscreen keyboard to see it properly). Long click on the station name there opens the dialog where you can remove or rename this station.

Localization

The user interface will self-tune into English, French or German, depending on the default language setting on your device.

About sending queries

The application remembers the latest queries for all station buttons. If you do not have a web connection at the moment, of SBB server is not responding to the query, the most recent result for that station will still show up. It may still be useful. When you start the program, the most recent query will show up and will be refreshed. If you keep the program on the top, the running clock on the top right will be updated, but the information itself is currently not renewed (we avoid unnecessary wasting your bandwidth with automated requests). Press the yellow "Refresh" button to update your information. In any case, the same query will be sent no more frequently than once per minute, even if you flip between different stops.

User interface to configure buttons
User interface to configure buttons

Google Play store

In case you have arrived to this page not from the Google Play store, the app can be found in the store here.