There are many things that are great about the Back to the Future films, but their depiction of the future wasn’t one of them. Their vision of 2015, then 26 years distant, went very big on the flying cars but entirely failed to predict the existence of the internet. Well, here we are in 2015, and it turns out that cars are still on the ground but the internet is massive. God, guys, how hard can it be?
But Citymapper, at least, has been listening to the anguished cries of “Where’s my hoverboard”. Sadly, it hasn’t invented one (it’s a mapping company, what d’you expect). But it has at least folded it into their transport planning app.
Here’s a screen shot, from a Samsung phone. Please excuse the quality, it’s surprisingly difficult to control this baby:
So, how d’you get your own mini Marty to play with, I hear you ask? Well, when you ask the app to get you somewhere, beneath the more sensible route options, it throws in a silly one. Sometimes it’s simply an explanation of some aspect of how the app works (which is a bit yawn-y, to be honest). Sometimes, it’s the Rampaging Android, which offers an exciting opportunity to watch a cartoon robot and/or Boris Johnson wobble its way across the map.
Sometimes, though, you get the hoverboard. Which, unlike the android, is a game.
Not a particularly thrilling game, it must be said. In the name of research, we played a whole round of it, titling a phone around to steer Marty all the way from Southwark to Edgware.
There were a few brief moments of excitement when we undershot a sharp turn and promptly lost the route, and had to go round and round in circles until we found it again. Other than that, though, the game is singularly lacking in peril.
Then when you finish it, this happens:
That’s pretty much the highlight.
It’s hardly Grand Theft Auto, if we’re honest. It’s not even Minesweeper. (Look closely, and you’ll notice that it took us 17 minutes to complete this two minute game, which gives you some insight into how compelling we found it.) But if you’re the sort of person who likes wasting valuable time when you’re trying to get somewhere in a hurry, so that when your partner says, “So how do we get to the West End?” you can look blankly at them and admit you entirely forgot that you were meant to be planning an actual route and consequently have no idea, then this is now a way you can do that.
So, that’s all good.
We are aware, incidentally, that this post is colluding in an obvious marketing stunt. But Uber get coverage for this shit all the time, and we like Citymapper more than we like them, so.