Israeli startup Moovit is looking to close in on rival firm Citymapper in the UK with its urban navigation app. 

Moovit, which received a major software update today with the release of Moovit 4.0 on Android, is now being used by 800,000 people in the UK and more than 20 million people worldwide. 

Founder Nir Erez (left) and VP Alex Torres Moovit ©Moovit
Founder Nir Erez (left) and VP Alex Torres Moovit ©Moovit

The Moovit mobile app, available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone, aims to give users real-time journey directions for subways, buses and trams by combining live public data with information submitted by its "hyper-engaged" community. Unlike Citymapper, Moovit invites its users to submit their own travel updates to the platform, which can then be shared with other Moovit users. 

The 4.0 update aims to make it easier for users to find what they want within the app. 

Moovit’s new OmniSearch bar allows users to search for any place, address or destination. The Near Me feature allows users to locate themselves on the map, find nearby stations and view next arrival times.

En Route features accompany the user all the way to their destination, allowing them to track their progress on the map, see their estimated arrival time, and get alerted when it’s time to get off.

The favourites feature allows users to tap on their favourites to get instant trip planning to their favourite places, and next arrival times for most frequented routes. Leveraging the power of the community, users get notifications about conditions in real time including station and vehicle crowdedness, cleanliness, live events, and even incidents.

Moovit has expanded aggressively, to the extent where it now has a presence in over 600 cities, considerably more than Citymapper, which is in just 22. It's also branched out into wearables, as has Citymapper

While Citymapper isn’t in as many cities, it has proved very popular in the cities it’s launched in, consistently ranking top of the charts on both the App Store and the Google Play Store. In the App Store it currently sits behind Google Maps in second, while Moovit comes in ninth behind other apps like Waze, which was acquired by Google in 2013 for a reported $1.3 billion (£870 million).

Alex Torres, VP of marketing and innovation at Moovit and a former Google Maps employee, told Techworld that Moovit’s community-driven app is proving popular in Europe, with the UK being one of the largest markets. 

Investors backed Moovit to the tune of £33 million earlier this year and the company said it was planning to use the funding to help it expand in the UK. 

“Building a world-class product means understanding your users worldwide; learning and negotiating cultural nuances, worldwide; adapting to and assimilating different infrastructures, worldwide; in languages you don’t even speak,” said Nir Erez, CEO of Moovit.

“Moovit 4.0 was only made possible by the combined, dedicated efforts of our incredible community on the ground, in over 55 countries, and our partners around the world who share our vision and help us make our product better, daily. On behalf of the Moovit team, I offer you a heartfelt thank you.”

Citymapper did not respond to Techworld's reqest for an update on UK user numbers.