SBB gets a (cool) redesign – you need to know

The first is ‘SBB Preview’, an update to the SBB mobile app will follow in the fall.Photo: Watson


Swiss Federal Railways is redesigning its main app and making it more user-friendly. Watson was able to try the “SBB Preview” version before the official update.

06/14/2022 at 12:04 PM06/14/2022, 14:41

Daniel Shorter
Daniel Shorter


Certainly, redesigning an SBB application is not as subtle as open heart surgery. But it is an important, and potentially vital, issue.

Just imagine that you were late for your dream job interview because you got on the wrong train. Or you may accidentally meet the love of your life.

But let’s stick to the facts.

There is a new SBB app. It will be installed on millions of Android smartphones and iPhones this fall.

Not long after. But the new version of the “SBB Preview” app that is being released now offers a preconceived notion. This post provides exclusive insights and answers to the most important questions about the update.

what happened?

Watson has already tried out the new SBB Preview app. Last but not least, this has to do with the fact that the editor writing here emerged in 2016 as a “loyal fan” of the all-new SBB app at the time. You probably remember the timeline tile concept SBB was able to adopt from program partner Ubique.

A lot has happened since then, knowing the roughly 3.5 million active users who started the SBB app at least once a month.

Now the new preview version is coming to the app stores. This means that interested parties can try out the new user interface using the “SBB Preview” app, which was launched specifically for testing purposes. The app will roll out to “SBB Mobile” – the main app – in the fall.

Before “launching” the “redesign”, as the developers call it, the modified application must go through its steps. On the other hand, through internal tests carried out by experts. On the other hand, by anyone interested in installing “SBB Preview”. There are currently about 250,000 people, says SBB spokeswoman Jenin Ige.

Before we get to my personal impressions, a word of caution: this post Contains spoilers / screenshots. If you are a hardcore public transportation fan and want to get your first impression of our newly designed SBB app, stop scrolling now! 😉

What does the new user interface look like?


I really like Dark Mode. This screen is comfortable on the eyes and on the battery.

The biggest visual change is the illustrations, created by the SBB design team, which fit the context and provide a welcome break from the realities of travel.


The new user interface is also impressive in the traditional light version.


Did I mention that dark mode is awesome? (Yes, it would also look good on a watson app)

What are the main changes?

The new main navigation is now in the bottom area of ​​the smartphone screen. There you will find the following Tab windows (As many users know from their web browser):

  • to plan (touch schedule, ticket purchase, etc.)
  • Travel (Information about the current flight is displayed here)
  • Easy Ride (auto check-in)
  • Tickets and Subscriptions
  • Profile personly (settings)

The developers sought to achieve three goals, such as Sayanthan Jayakumar, President of SBB MobileWatson explained:

  • The redesign should make the app more visible and easier to use.
  • In addition, they wanted to “use optimization capabilities”, such as a Improved help if an error occurs Or simplified navigation within the application.
  • Users should be “better accompanied in their journey by proactive information tailored to their personal path”.
Sayanthan Jayakumar, President of SBB Mobile.

Sayanthan Jayakumar, President of SBB Mobile.Photo: SBB

With the redesign, SBB also wants to create the technology foundation for app development “modularly according to customer needs,” the SBB man revealed to Watson. (more on that below).

How easy is the new app to use?

The first impression is positive. Navigating through the tabs in the lower touchscreen area allows for one-handed operation, although it’s still better to use both hands with short fingers and/or XL smartphones like the iPhone 13 Pro Max (our test device).

The goals stated by the SBB Managers (above) are being achieved, as daily use shows. However, it’s worth noting that I wasn’t able to make any really long train rides during the testing period.

When Watson asked what he personally liked most about the new app, the head of SBB Mobile got excited:

It is impressive to see how much passion and attention to detail the entire team put into the redesign and can be seen, for example, in the transitions when changing the tab navigation, how the train slowly rolls out of the station in the EasyRide animation or how the SwissPass card is folded ( Under subscriptions and tickets) slowly and rounded.

Sayanthan Gyakumar

The EasyRide animation (mentioned above) can be seen in the following SBB video:

Video: External / Rest

This SBB video demonstrates how to view transfer information after purchasing a ticket:

Video: External / Rest

What are the biggest challenges with redesign?

Sayanthan Jayakumar says:

“The success of the past few years has allowed the application to grow into a large world with many interfaces and dependence on other services. For example, we offer ten different payment options for purchasing tickets. In addition, the code base is a bit outdated, which is why the rebuild was successful. [Quellcode-Verbesserungen, Anmerkung der Red.] It was necessary.”

It is interesting to know: behind the scenes, a team of about 25 people worked extensively on the redesign. This includes software developers, user experience (UX) experts, and test managers.

The head of SBB Mobile adds:

“If you look at the time from first market study to prototype building and development, it was two years intense.”

How mature is the new app?

As mentioned earlier, the developers did not have to reinvent the wheel. Instead, they focused on improving the app’s usability and visuals. They succeed in doing this with great attention to detail.

It remains to be seen how the app will prove itself in everyday public transportation with millions of passengers.

Officials confirm:

“We look forward to receiving first customer feedback on the SBB Preview app. These will flow directly into further development to launch the SBB Mobile redesign.”

What about the new app features?

There must be a lot in the making, but those responsible haven’t shown their cards yet.

With the redesign of SBB Mobile, they want to change their location for the future. On the other hand, it is about making customer information simpler and more private, so that users of public transport always feel well informed. On the other hand, a space is created for both known and new customer needs, such as international train trips or the incorporation of additional mobility offerings (parking, sharing, etc.).

“All core functionality of SBB Mobile has not been completed in SBB Preview, and these will be added.

In addition, we are already working intensively on a new job for travelers. We’ll reveal more on this at launch in the fall.”

Why is there a preview app at all?

First of all, it must be emphasized that the preview app accesses the same public transport information (databases) as the SBB mobile app. So you can use both to reliably move from A (via B and C) to D.

The preview app was developed as a beta version 6 years ago before the launch of the SBB mobile app today. Officials note that the experience gained at the time thanks to the volunteer community was of great value to developing the app. That’s why we decided to keep this channel.

SBB spokeswoman Janine Ege:

“This allows us to test major innovations or new functions in a small group of users before they are rolled out to the general public. A good example is EasyRide (tested and improved on a one-year preview app) or the SwissPass digital card.”

But there are also functions that were never transferred to SBB Mobile from preview because the added value was too small.

What is the temporary balance of SBB Mobile?

SBB spokeswoman Jenin Ige says:

“We have invested a great deal in SBB Mobile in recent years to make it easier for our customers to access the digital world. Thanks to innovative functions such as the touch schedule or EasyRide entry and simple operation, we have succeeded in doing just that.”

The spokeswoman confirmed that 70 percent of SBB ticket sales are now made through the app. In addition to purchasing tickets, the application is also an important information channel for planning and designing trips using public transport.

SBB Mobile’s popularity has steadily increased in recent years. “About two million schedule inquiries are made and a quarter of a million tickets are sold daily.”

Speaking of Corona: The pandemic has hardly slowed sales growth. Compared to 2020, about 44 percent of tickets were sold via SBB Mobile in 2021.

Where can you get a «SBB preview»?

In the Apple and Google app stores.

now you!

What do you think of the SBB Mobile app? Are you using the official app for commuters on public transport or the preview version? What additional improvements and/or features should administrators definitely consider?

Write to us via the comment function!


  • SBB Community (This is where interested parties can ask specific questions and provide feedback on the application)
  • SBB Preview (Official Site)

SBB application “in the dark”? It’s been around for a long time (unlike Watson 😌)

Watson reported in 2016:

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