Toronto

Metrolinx's new Presto mobile app for Apple, Android gets mixed reviews from users

The mobile application includes features like checking and loading funds, notifications for low balance, and managing multiple Presto cards.

More than 15,000 users tested out the app for a month before it officially launched

Presto's mobile app for both Apple and Android devices has officially arrived, but transit riders who spent a month before the launch testing the app have been giving it mixed reviews.

Some commuters, like Abhi Sharma, say the app works well.

"I am able to see my current balance using the app but what actually makes it really useful to me is that I can reload my Presto while I am travelling," Sharma told CBC Toronto.

But the long-awaited application isn't such a hit with other riders who've spoken out on social media.

Multiple users on Reddit have been reporting issues loading money on to their cards, one of the main features of the app.

The mobile app, which launched at the end of January, has a number of features previously only offered on the website. They include the ability to check and load funds, notifications for low balance, and the ability to manage multiple Presto cards.

iPhone versus Android

Though the app is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play, it offers different options for users. The biggest difference is the near-field communication (NFC) capability of Android phones, which means users can instantly load money onto their card by holding their Presto card to their phone.

Apple restricts this feature, which means iPhone users must wait between four and 24 hours for their funds to be available after making a payment.

Ross Woodruff, an iPhone user, is one of the thousands who took part in the app's beta testing phase. He says this limitation for Apple users reduces the convenience of the app.

"The design is nice, it looks all right. It's just not very full-featured," Woodruff said. "It's really just a mobilized version of the website, which is not amazing."

For Android user Pratik Dam, the NFC capabilities on his phone make using the app a great experience because they save him a trip to a Presto vending machine or subway station when he needs funds right away.

However, Dam says he he would like Presto to take it a step further and eliminate the need for physical cards altogether.

"For me, having the app should come with the feature to use your phone as the pass itself," he said.

Response from Metrolinx

Dam is not alone, with many on Twitter sharing the same thoughts. But according to Metrolinx, commuters will have to wait for this potential feature.

"We do have longer-term plans to allow customers to tap with their phones, however our focus right now is on ensuring a high-quality experience through the app," a spokesperson for Metrolinx told CBC Toronto in an email.  

As for concerns raised by iPhone users about the app, Metrolinx said: "If, and when, other mobile platforms adopt this technology, we would make this feature available for other phones."

Metrolinx executive vice president Annalise Czerny also released a written statement praising users who tested the new features.

"We're thrilled that more than 15,000 customers took the time to test our Presto app and give us their feedback," Czerny wrote.

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