Too tipsy to type? One tap will find the way home for you, plus tell you how much time you’ve got before your night out becomes an all-nighter.
Navigating Japan’s extensive train and subway network was quite a bit more complicated back in the pre-mobile Internet era. For example, if you were out with friends and wanted to know the time for your last train home, you’d have to first check the time the last train of the night pulls into your home station, either by actually going there or by consulting a thick book of timetables. Then you’d have to work backwards from there, estimating the amount of time you’d need for each transfer and readjusting the route if the first part of your journey home was on lines that shut down before the latter ones you needed to take.
Nowadays, though, all that hassle and guesswork can be sidestepped just by using a rail navigation smartphone app. Just open the app, switch over to its “find last train” function, type in the closest station to where you currently are, input the station closest to your final destination, and finally tap the execute button, and it’ll spit back the plan for your last chance to make it home.
By the standards of our technologically savvy modern era, that’s not such a difficult process. However, it can still be a tough challenge if you’re drunk, and, as it just so happens, a lot of the people who’re getting close to their last train of the night happen to be knocking back several cold ones with their friends. That’s why software developer Val Laboratory has added a new Drunk Mode to its popular Ekisupaato (from the Japanese word eki/“station” and “expert”) railway navigation app.
To utilize Drunk Mode, you’ll first need to register your home station (you’ll probably want to do this before you start sipping sake or pounding Yebisu Beers). Then, when you want to check on your last train, all you have to do is hit a single button on the app, and it’ll use your phone’s GPS to determine the closest station and show the route home, along with the time the train you need to be on is departing. Knowing that most people’s math skills don’t improve with alcohol, the results will even calculate and tell you how much time you have remaining until the last train leaves.
Should it already be past the time when you can get home by rail, Drunk Mode displays the consolatory message “Unfortunately, you’ve missed the last train…,” accompanied by an anthropomorphic train carriage either chasing after his missed ride, so that you’ll at least have a little cuteness as you start your search for a capsule hotel or a 24-hour manga cafe to spend the night in.
▼ If your inebriated mind can handle it, at this point you may also find yourself wondering who or what rides inside the pink train that rides inside the gray train.
Drunk Mode will ordinarily be part of Ekisupaato charged premium mode, but between now and April 2 can be used for free as part of a special introductory campaign. The app itself is available for both iOS and Android devices (here and here, respectively).
The creator of Drunk Mode says the function’s genesis was his own numerous experiences missing the last train home after going out drinking. However, while Drunk Mode handles the typing and station settings for you, you still have to be able to see straight enough to understand what it’s displaying. “It’s for people who’re comfortably drunk,” explains the developer, “not for people who’re totally hammered.”
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he may or may not be comfortably drunk right now.