It’s a sign of the times. Today we can use multiple devices and apps to map out where we want to go, determine how long it will take, but not necessarily when we should leave. So it is for the daily commute. Going to work we usually just go and suffer the traffic consequences along the way. Leaving work is a bit different as many of us would prefer to avoid traffic congestion and leave the office when travel time is reduced.
Enter Chop Commute, the Menubar Mac app that takes some of the daily guesswork out of your daily commute.
Chop Commute watches the traffic from your location to your destination and displays the drive time in the Menubar. Here’s what it looks like.
Chop Commute displays the estimated travel time to the destination you want. It uses data from Google Maps, not Apple Maps. That means you won’t have to check the map on your smartphone just to see how much time it takes to get from office to home. Chop Commute checks for you and displays the appropriate time in the Menubar. The green color means the optimum travel time.
As cool as this is it doesn’t take much effort to see exactly where Chop Commute needs to go in the future.
For example, in macOS Sierra with Siri we should be able to ask Siri to check the commute time to wherever and get a response, and, as an intelligent assistant wouldn’t you expect Siri to give you a notification when the traffic is reduced and drive time improved?
That’s the future of such notifications and assistants.
There’s not much to Chop Commute and that’s probably why it works well. But it’s a Mac app, not an iPhone app. So, I checked the iTunes App Store and found dozens of apps that are similar and provide estimated drive times from one location to another (which is something Maps does well, but Chop Commute’s value is in the Menubar display).
Yet, not one of them does what Chop Commute does, which is to check the travel time in the background and tell you when the optimum travel time arrives.
That brings me to another issue regarding apps on the iTunes App Store. Orphans. So many of the travel time apps I tried have not been updated in a couple of years so I can only conclude they have become orphaned apps and fall into the abandonware category.
One of the iPhone apps I like is called Traffic Time and it displays estimated travel time from multiple locations to multiple destinations.
Traffic Time has the built-in option to send a text to someone with your ETA (estimated time of arrival), which is handy, but you still have to check the app on your iPhone to get the estimated times. What I want– and what Chop Commute comes close to doing– is an alert or notification that tells me to ‘Leave now to get to your destination in the shortest time period; 25-minutes.’