Apple is shutting down HopStop in October, even though the transit mapping app provides more international coverage and features than Apple Maps’ range. It is a loss to users who still rely on HopStop daily, like me.
Apple acquired HopStop in 2013. The mapping service was founded in 2005, and in the early days seemed like a revelation. Enter your starting address and where you were going, and HopStop would plot your carless journey—you could choose from a range of transport options, like subways, buses, walking, biking and taxi (HopStop estimated how much a cab to your destination cost). You could also select a combination of bus and subway routes to limit time spent walking, as well as look for wheelchair and stroller-accessible points of entry. Then HopStop gave the street directions for where to go once you were out of the station.
I have a terrible sense of direction, and HopStop has planned my trips around NYC and multiple cities innumerable times. I have found it to be unerringly correct, and enjoyed its range of transport options, straightforward web interface (I never bothered much with the app), and useful email-or-text-your-itinerary feature. This weekend, when I loaded HopStop up as per usual and saw a banner announcing its imminent shut down, my heart dropped. Losing HopStop means losing one of my trustiest, goto everyday services.
Apple’s purchase of HopStop saw the company’s transit maps used for a feature recently added to the company’s mobile mapping app in iOS 9. While it’s hardly unusual for Apple to put the kibosh on a company post-acquisition, HopStop is still supporting many cities beyond Apple’s current reach. As 9to5Mac points out, the loss of HopStop “create[s] a gap in transit support.” HopStop covers dozens of cities all over the world; Apple Maps’ Transit—not so much. Apple provides transit directions in six major U.S. cities and three internationally, plus “China.” By contrast, HopStop gives directions in more than a 100 metropolitan areas worldwide.
Apple is clearly pushing its users to rely more on Apple Maps as it continues its Maps showdown with Google. It’s unclear if Apple has plans to incorporate the rest of HopStop’s directional data anytime soon; it’s been slow to add major cities in Europe and Japan. When will Asheville, NC support be available? What about Waterloo, Canada?
Beyond the blow to accessing a wide range of directions, I will miss HopStop’s endearing quirks: its ever-ticking stat counters tracking how many miles it has plotted that day, the number of calories its users burned, the amount of CO2 saved by taking public transport instead of driving. HopStop inspired a trusted brand loyalty I usually don’t go in for; I’m mourning the loss of a service that made me feel like I never had to get lost again.