Monthly Archives: July 2010

iphone – new features – version 1.69…

Why 1.69 – well because autoReply is not quite ready for iPhone public consumption – still a week or two away.

However the stuff we have done is so cool that we thought we’d release it early. It’s all to do with location accuracy – showing it to the user, displaying it on a map etc.

Also – we’re fully 4.0 compliant now – high resolution graphics, fast application switching, background operations (which will be used intelligently but more about that when autoReply is announced.

Check this out:

iphone inbox no minimap

looks like a normal inbox right….well yeah – except for the small icon in the bottom left hand corner. Click on that and you get a minimap:

inbox minimap

This minimap shows you where echoecho thinks you are currently located. It’s a live update – the blue dot is your location and the blue circle is your circle of accuracy. (you can close this by clicking the minimap button again – or by clicking the red cancel sign)

As for the full-map view – having location accuracy means the following

close location accuracy

You can still see the distance to your friend but now you can see how accurate both locations are. As I’ve explained before the accuracy depends on a number of factors – but we felt it was important to openly show this data to our users – in a concise and friendly way.
The above example is of one phone using GPS (the blue dot) and another phone using WiFi positioning (the red dot).

Here’s another example (this time both phones are using WiFi positioning) – they are just in different parts of San Francisco:

maps san fran

This build is should be live shortly on the Apple Appstore – (I will confirm that announcement here)

As it happens if you have not upgraded your iphones to 4.0 O/S (or are using an iphone 2G) you will still get the benefit of the mnimap – but you will not see the accuracy circles on the full size map)

BTW – the Android 1.7 build will pretty much match this kind of functionality – so pretty soon this stuff will be even cooler cross-platform.

windows phone echoecho – sneak preview

Amazingly – with WP7 (windows phone 7) microsoft has managed to produce a very clean and smooth looking interface.

The hardware is extremely slick also.

So we thought we’d tease you with some in-development screenshots (subject to change as you can imagine) – the final versions should look and feel very similar to this:

inbox_windowsphone

and of course in full mapping glory

full map

That’s it for now…but more is coming soon.

nokia symbian – new features – version 1.7…

Ah yes. Symbian. Massively popular everywhere outside of the US – virtually unused inside the US.

Well – we’re supporting it regardless. Not just because I have soft spot for Nokia (as I have written about before) but also because…well…tons of people are on the Symbian platform worldwide – and echoecho is a global solution after all.

We have builds available for symbian 3rd edition devices and 5th edition devices – but the screenshots shown below are from an N78 (3rd edition)

So let’s start with the inbox changes – namely autoReply once again.

You can select autoReply on the context menu for any echo in your inbox:

autoreply context menu

If you do you’ll immediately see the by now familiar autoReply popup warning

autoreply popup1 autoreply popup2

If you read the previous blog entries (about BlackBerry/Android) then you’ll know this backwards but just in case – the idea here is that we want to make autoReply configuration as easy as possible. You can easily turn it on and off – and of course it’s off by default. (the star in the inbox indicates which contacts have autoReply turned on). So let’s suppose you turn it on:

autoreply select inbox

This is not a stealth tracking feature – it’s simply a way of making it even easier to respond to your friends’ echoes – because if selected for your particular friend – your device will automatically reply to an incoming echo from that friend.

While you can of course see any newly paired echoes in the inbox – with autoReply you will be additionally notified of any queries even when your phone is responding automatically – the usual “Where are you?” popup message you see when someone is looking for you gets replaced by this:

autoreply echo flash

At the risk of boring people who are reading ALL the blog entries – let’s just say this is really cool…and leave it at that. (oh wait…zero-clicks to securely share your location…how’s that ;))

Additionally eagle eyed readers/users may have spotted some colored dots in the inbox. Let’s have a look

red dot yellow dot green dot

The colored dots are at the bottom of the image (yes…there)
They represent a quick way of seeing how accurate your current location is.

RED = your phone cannot find its location right now
YELLOW = the accuracy is less accurate than +/- 100 meters (usually this means the phone is only able to use cellid information)
GREEN = the accuracy is more accurate than +/- 100 meters (this means the phone is either using GPS satellites to locate your handset very precisely outdoors – or using Skyhook wireless positioning to locate your handset fairly precisely in urban areas)

And of course we can see this accuracy on the map:

basic maps nokia

Looks familiar enough right? Well…it isn’t quite the same.
When you click on a pushpin you get extra information as follows:

maps distance nokia

Just like with the new BlackBerry build – you can see the distance to your friend immediately. But if you click View Full Information you also see the accuracy.

maps accuracy nokia

Overall this version is very smooth and stable…oh and also – if you receive an echo from someone you don’t know – you can now add their number to your address book directly from the inbox.

As ever – the new build is on m.echoecho.me (on your phone) and should be on the Ovi store shortly.

android – new features – version 1.6…

we have done stacks of work to the android build of echoecho. stacks

Android (as a platform) is somewhat fragmented (some devices out there are running 1.5/1.6 versions of the android operating system, others are on 2.1 or even 2.2 – and many manufacturers write custom shells that interfere with code etc etc…). So we had to test as many as we could – while developing all the cool new features.

First and foremost we are fully supporting high resolution screens (like that of the now defunct Nexus One) – all the screenshots shown here are from my Nexus One.

Here’s the very cool (and well known to all you echoecho android users) incoming echo notification screen in full high definition glory:

regular echo flash

I was at GeoLoco recently and I demoed the app to a lot of people there – as soon as they see this screen they instantly understand the simplicity and the speed of echoecho.

But…we’re talking about new features here – so let’s check out the inbox first.

autoReply select

This is what you see when you click the autoReply star in the inbox.
If you read the previous blog entry (about BlackBerry) you’ll know this already but for the lazy ones – The whole idea here is that we want to make autoReply configuration as easy as possible. You can easily turn it on and off – and of course it’s off by default. (the orange star indicates which contacts have autoReply turned on). So let’s suppose you turn it on:

autoReply star inbox

This is not a stealth tracking feature – it’s simply a way of making it even easier to respond to your friends’ echoes – because if selected for your particular friend – your device will automatically reply to an incoming echo from that friend.

While you can of course see any newly paired echoes in the inbox – with autoReply you will be additionally notified of any queries even when your phone is responding automatically – the usual “Where are you?” popup message you see when someone is looking for you gets replaced by this:

autoReply echo flash

This is exceptionally powerful and useful stuff – because instead of the very cool one-click response to sharing your location quickly and privately (with no complicated settings) – there’s one less click..i.e. there are ZERO clicks involved.

😉

Last but not least – the maps are now fully high resolution on high resolution android devices – like this:

maps HD android

Now if you’re paying attention you’ll know that I talked about accuracy in addition to autoReply…yeah – accuracy is coming soon – it’s a 1.7 feature and android is one subversion behind the other platforms. (this is live on Android Market right now btw)

Not for long – the new stuff for android is gonna kick ass…

blackberry – new features – version 1.7

ok so we can get a little more specific.
Let’s talk about autoReply a bit more for the BlackBerry.

Here’s what the inbox looks like:

inbox blackberry autoReply

You can turn autoReply on for any of the contacts in your inbox. The very first time you do this you’ll see the descriptive popup below:

autoReply select

The whole idea here is that we want to make autoReply configuration as easy as possible. You can easily turn it on and off – and of course it’s off by default. (the orange star indicates which contacts have autoReply turned on)

This is not a stealth tracking feature – it’s simply a way of making it even easier to respond to your friends’ echoes – because if selected for your particular friend – your device will automatically reply to an incoming echo from that friend.

While you can of course see any newly paired echoes in the inbox – with autoReply you will be additionally notified of any queries even when your phone is responding automatically – the usual “Where are you?” popup message you see when someone is looking for you gets replaced by this:

autoReply echo flash

Now as for accuracy – well first of all let’s look at that inbox again. In the previous image you might have missed a yellow dot in the top right hand corner. Here’s the image again – this time the dot is green:

accuracy notification

This dot is a quick way of seeing how accurate your current location is.

RED = your BlackBerry cannot find its location right now
YELLOW = the accuracy is less accurate than +/- 100 meters (usually this means the BlackBerry is only able to use cellid information)
GREEN = the accuracy is more accurate than +/- 100 meters (usually this means the BlackBerry is using GPS satellites to locate your handset)

Last but not least the way this accuracy manifests itself is as follows – when you map an echo you’ll see something like this:

new maps

Looks familiar enough right? Well…it isn’t quite the same.
When you click on a pushpin you get extra information as follows:

Maps distance

First of all you get the distance to your friend in meters. All you Android and iPhone users out there are familiar with this feature already – but we wanted to include it across the board.
But if you move to the other tab of information you see something like this:

accuracy - maps

So there you have it. Accuracy detection, accuracy on maps, automatic replies…and very much improved stability and speed.

Stay tuned for many cool new features on the BlackBerry we have some tricks up our sleeve. Enjoy this version for now – it’s the best BlackBerry version ever – and it runs on all BlackBerries from v4.2 o/s onwards.

(oh I forgot one more thing – if you receive an echo from someone you don’t know – you can now add their number to your address book directly from the inbox.)

oh…and it’s available now from m.echoecho.me (on your phone) and BlackBerry App World.

new builds – accuracy sensing, automatic replies..etc

REVOLUTIONARY new features…

ok. well revolutionary’s a pretty big word. We like to think so.
But the proof will be in the geo-pudding.

After some of usual beta-driven software delays we finally get to unveil some of the stuff we’ve been working on. Needless to say we have steadfastly refused to compromise the simplicity of the application – so you won’t see any chats/coupons/image sharing or mayorships here…echoecho is (and intends to be) about allowing you to ask and answer the question “Where are you?” in the simplest possible way.

So what have we done – well – aside from lots of polishes, speed-ups and debugs – we have introduced two new important pieces of functionality.

autoReply and accuracy

What does this mean?

Well let’s do them in reverse.

Accuracy is subtle – but important – regular readers of this blog (and users of echoecho) already know that mobile phones locate themselves in a few different ways – notably GPS (satellite signal, high accuracy but sucks battery life and is nearly useless indoors), WiFi (very useful in densely populated urban areas with loads of wifi access points – i.e. cities, not so good anywhere else – mid to high accuracy), cell id (lowest accuracy – but works almost everywhere)

Rather than just showing you the location of a given individual on your echoecho map we also wanted to show you the accuracy – which means you get something like this:

iphone echo map ;)

It’s pretty intuitive – but just in case you’re living under a rock – the blue dot is you and the blue circle is your circle of accuracy, or circle of confidence – depending on which fruit you prefer to eat.

The red dot/circle on the other hand – represent your friend.
The smaller the circle – the more accurate the location is. So for example – in this image (taken from my iphone 3Gs running 4.0 O/S) I was outside with a full or partial GPS lock – and a very small error (of about +/- 8 meters).

On the other hand the Nokia N78 was indoors – capturing a wifi signal with a location error of +/- 65 meters)

So there you go. Cool stuff.

Oh – autoReply. Yeah we should get to that also 😉

Some people asked for this at the very beginning – but we wanted to make sure that we did it right.
Remember how echoecho shares your location quickly and privately – all in one single click.
Well now you can do it in ZERO CLICKS

Yes – that wasn’t a vaporware typo. In the inbox you simply click the autoReply Star symbol (this looks slightly different on every platform – but more on this later) – and you get something like this (on android):

autoReply selection

This is just a helpful popup – the actual inbox changes only slightly – it looks like this:

autoReply inbox

That’s it. But this is pretty huge. Because for the first time ever you can echo someone’s phone and the phone will automatically respond – doesn’t matter if they don’t hear, if it’s in their pocket – if they are asleep etc etc…

You say “Where are you?” and their phone automatically responds.

Of course this wouldn’t be echoecho if we didn’t make this as easy and as transparent as possible – so one click on the star turns it ON, another click turns it OFF. The default position is always OFF – so if you delete someone’s echo and recreate it autoReply will always be OFF.

Also – if somebody does echo you – you will know about it – even if your phone autoReplies – you will get a notification. The exact form of the notification is slightly different on each platform – in fact the next 4 blog posts will go through in some detail (for each of our platforms) – the different new behaviours.

I hope you guys enjoy these releases as much as we think you will.
Stay tuned btw – we’re just getting started…

Geo-loco down in San Francisco…

not quite like the Four Tops sang it – but GeoLoco went quite well.

It was an all day affair of speaking/networking/demoing. Remy and I both attended (which is a first for these types of things).

Remy @ geoloco

Remy’s holding the iPad we used for demoing screenshots of new functionality. As it happened (and as I recently blogged about) echoecho was selected as one of the demo companies for GeoLoco – part of the prize (in addition to 2 free tickets) was a demo table – hmmm….well…said demo tables were downstairs in a location where all the food and the auditorium and therefore ALL the people…were upstairs.

Not much point in demoing to nobody – is there.

So within 20 minutes we abandoned the demo table and decide to just mingle around using the iPad as a mobile demo unit.

Special thanks of course go to @vicchi – who was at his first public outing since his Nokia reincarnation and was critical in helping us come to GeoLoco in the first place 😉

Gary’s the dude on the right of the picture – this was his panel.

gary's panel - geoloco

If anyone’s curious – I didn’t have a digital camera with me so I used Hipstamatic on the iphone 3Gs. More than passable results.

overall the panels were surprisingly humdrum – with the branding panel being downright boring (watching the twitter feed during the branding panel was the only flurry of activity in the entire room as the audience members practically competed for the funniest way to trash talk the panelists)

ok – so version 1.6 and 1.7 (on some platforms) of echoecho due out this week. Screenshots and announcements coming soon…