Review: ETA drives speedy directions and traffic prediction to Apple Watch

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At the beginning of this year, my roller derby league moved their practice space north of Boston, changing my five-minute commute to somewhere in the 55-minute vicinity. Boston is notorious for its rush hour traffic, and our move meant that for the first time, my naive work-at-home self was routinely stuck in it.

Lucky for me, I had ETA. The $1.99 app from Australian-based Eastwood lets you make a list of your frequent destinations, and every time you load it, live-calculates the time it will take to get to those destinations. It even has a live-updating Notification Center widget to quickly launch your route in the Maps app of your choice.

ETA 2.0, released Wednesday, takes it all up a notch: It's added traffic indicators to each route (green for clear, yellow for slow, red for stopped) as well as a forecaster, which gives you a quick 2-5 minute prediction for traffic going forward. Even better, ETA now offers multiple route options for both driving and walking, as well as a one-tap button to send a friend your travel information.

If these features (and a great interface redesign) were all that ETA 2.0 brought to the table, it'd be a great update. But ETA has one more trick up its sleeve: an Apple Watch app and Glance.

I've been testing ETA on the Apple Watch for a month now, and it's far and away my favorite app. On the Watch, ETA offers the same scrollable list as on your iPhone, providing travel estimations and a tiny traffic indicator to the right of the location. Tap on a destination, however, and you'll get a bigger travel time, mileage estimation and current route, arrival time, and traffic indicator. Scroll down, and you can tap the map to get directions. Scroll further, and you can change those directions to walking, or select this location as the one displayed in your Glances.

The ETA glance is maybe my favorite part of ETA on the Watch — in four taps, I can quickly get directions to my most-often driven place (roller derby), no dictation processing or map loading to be done. Swipe up, tap ETA's glance, tap the map to load directions, tap Driving, tap start. Easy peasy.

My only real disappointment with ETA on the Watch is a disappointment with WatchKit and Maps in general — Handoff-enabled Watch apps are sometimes slow at talking to their iPhone counterparts, and Maps on the Watch is limited to Apple Maps (on the iPhone, you can set ETA to automatically source Google Maps, Waze, Navigon, MotionX, or Citymapper).

Bottom line

If you travel by car or foot frequently to specific locations, you'll adore ETA. And if you have an Apple Watch, you may find it an even bigger help — if you don't mind being limited to Maps.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.