Introducing the Spotcycle Lab app, our next-gen reboot of Spotcycle

The much-anticipated release of our Spotcycle Lab bike share app is finally here! The Spotcycle Lab project is a reboot of Spotcycle™ and created as the sandbox in which you can try out new features we develop (as well as features you ask to see), with the goal of creating the ultimate bike share app. With a built-in feedback feature, Spotcycle Lab provides a platform that makes it easy for you to send us your comments.

In addition to the classic Spotcycle station status functionalities, Spotcycle Lab includes new unique features including:

  • Reality+™, our own augmented reality overlay for locating bike stations in live view
  • Station clustering to make it easier to locate stations and bikes in a general area
  • A more user-friendly and unified navigation

As with all our Spotcycle products, you can download Spotcycle Lab (v.1.0) for Android and iOS devices for free.

Spotcycle Lab builds on our Spotcycle platform and is our take on a user-driven bike share app. It will be the ongoing developmental playground in which we’ll test out new potential features for Spotcycle. Based on your positive feedback for these features, some of them might eventually make their way to Spotcycle. In other words, Spotcycle Lab will be an ongoing project responsive to user feedback.

Spotcycle Lab and Spotcycle will remain as separate applications. As we’ll be introducing more avant garde features to Spotcycle Lab that might appeal to some users, other users might prefer the classic Spotcycle application for their daily bike share needs.

Check out the full list of features, supported devices and bike share schemes on the Spotcycle web page. Feel free to let us know what you think!

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Spotcycle updates its support for Bike Share Toronto, TDot’s rebooted bike share scheme

Toronto’s renewed bike share system is now called Bike Share Toronto and we’ve updated our Spotcycle data with the latest from the scheme.

Besides a brand spanking new name, logo and new pricing, Bike Share Toronto will run pretty much the same as before when it was known as BIXI Toronto.

Be sure to use Spotcycle to check up on the latest bike station statuses in Toronto and for all your day-to-day bike share needs!

Bike Share Toronto logo

Bike Share Toronto's logo

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Working on restoring B-Cycle data to Spotcycle

We’d like to offer our sincerest apologies to our B-Cycle bike share users while we are working out the temporary kinks with the data.

We’re actively working with the folks at B-Cycle to get their data back up and running on Spotcycle so please bear with us while we do. We want to make sure our B-Cycle bike share users are not left in the lurch for any extended length of time.

Meanwhile, follow us on Twitter @Spotcycle to stay in the loop.

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Taking a look behind the curtain: how Spotcycle works

We’ve chatted mostly about the features you see in our app — finding nearby bike stations, bikes and bike docks, new bike share schemes to our app, and improvements. It’s time we take a brief moment to look at how Spotcycle works behind the scenes!

How Spotcycle gets its data

How Spotcycle gets its data

  1. Bike share schemes typically keep their bike share data accessible to third party developers as Web services or in other formats (for instance, in XML files) on their own servers.
  2. The bike share data is retrieved by the server that feeds the Spotcycle application.
  3. The Spotcycle application interprets the data and displays it on your mobile device.

When there are lags or blips on the data, the servers from which Spotcycle gets its data also display these blips. Sometimes it might be due to irregularities or lags in the data being fed to the Spotcycle app and what the current state of the system is. Spotcycle will always display the same map data as on the Web sites for your bike share schemes.

Here’s a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your bike share with Spotcycle:

  • Check the last refresh time for the map data in the app.
  • Refresh the app data as often as possible (but be wary of any data charges that might apply).

Feel free to let us know if you have feedback for our application!

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How to extend your bike share rental and avoid usage fees with the help of Spotcycle

It’s no secret that using bike share to get around town helps you save time and money — they’re designed for short-term trips and ease of use.

If you’re a casual user though, your free trips might be limited to 30 minutes or less; any ride longer than 30 minutes starts incurring usage fees (but you should check with your local bike share provider for precise details).

But what happens when your destination takes just a little longer than the free minutes to get to by bike? Return the bike to a dock before your free minutes are up and walk the rest of the way? Or bite the bullet and pay the fees?

Here’s where Spotcycle comes in: avoid additional bike share fees by dock-surfing to your destination. Dock-surfing (or sometimes called daisy-chaining) is just splitting up your bike trip into smaller trips so that each smaller trip you take is always within the free minutes of your rental.

Here’s how to do it:

Dock-surfing with Spotcycle

How to extend your bike share rental by dock-surfing with Spotcycle

  1. Plan your bike journey using Spotcycle to help you locate stations along the way.
  2. Set the timer on Spotcycle to your limit for a free trip (usually 30 minutes, but check with your bike share scheme provider). Make sure the Alarm setting is enabled on the Spotcycle rental timer to tell you when the rental is up.
  3. Start your bike share ride.
  4. Ride for the duration of your free trip (use the rental timer built into Spotcycle to warn you in advance), and return the bike to a dock (even if you haven’t made it to your destination).
  5. Wait a bit for your next available free rental trip (usually about 5 minutes).
  6. Once ready, take out another (or the same) bike and continue on your journey.
  7. Dock your bike (repeat many times as you need to get to your final destination) and you’re done — without a usage fee in sight!

Dock-surfing works great for those who aren’t in a hurry (as there obviously is some waiting involved); the best part is you won’t be billed extra fees!

Note that if the docks are full at the station where you want to return the bike, you can always find the closest available docks at the terminal if your bike share system supports this feature; you’ll get a few extra minutes on your rental to bike there. You might also be able to phone the bike share provider to let them know you need an extension to locate an available bike dock.

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