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LocationBot


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  1. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    Hi all

    I'm writing an application that can change various settings according to your current location, e.g. you can have the speaker volume automatically turn down when it detects you are at your workplace, or switch the WiFi on automatically when you get home. It will also try to maintain the WiFi connection and reconnect if it gets dropped, which is something I noticed was happening all the time with my Nexus One.

    You can change the following settings:
    Speaker/notification volume
    Ringtone
    Vibrate on/off
    WiFi on/off
    WiFi SSID / static i.p. address
    Bluetooth on/off
    Auto-sync on/off
    Time active (i.e. when the profile is "active").

    There are 2 versions, LocationBotLite is the free version & has all the same features as LocationBot, but only allows 2 saved locations. The paid-for version costs 0.99 British pounds. Both versions are in the market.

    If you have any questions or comments, or find any problems/bugs, please feel free to drop me an email, details are on this site:

    LocationBot
     

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  2. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    I've just released version 2.0 into the Android Market as well as my web site. The new version has a number of new features that various people have emailed me to request. A summary of these is below:

    - you can now configure the program to either take the location from the GPS and/or networks. Previously it would always try to use the GPS if it was switched on, but now you can control this setting. For example, you could leave the GPS on for other apps but configure LocationBot only to use the networks.

    - You can now edit the latitude/longitude of a location profile

    - When saving a location profile you can now choose whether the profile only applies when on battery power, charging, or either of these

    - There's a new feature that allows the phone to send an SMS to one of your contacts whenever you enter or leave one of your locations. SMS messages can be set up as either "one-off" or "recurring"

    - Fixed various minor bugs left over from earlier releases.

    I'm quite conscious now that the app needs more and more permissions to function and I'm worried that people may start to wonder whether the app really needs all of these. To hopefully counter any concerns, I've published a list of each permission requested by the app and the reason it is required. This can be found under "permissions" on my web site:

    LocationBot

    Any constructive feedback is always welcome. Thanks to all the people who emailed me with suggestions.

    My next priority is to try and get the app working as an Android "background service" which will hopefully prevent users from closing it accidentally.

    Zurloid
     
  3. cyber_system_tk

    cyber_system_tk New Member

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    Like i said in another post, You are brilliant
    I love this apps, i am using lite version because I live in Denmark and we have not had access to pay app yet
    But even lite version is enough for me
    I absolutely love the app, will actually say it is the app of the year :)
     
  4. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    I've just released version 2.02 of LocationBot. Changes are below:

    - SMS messages can now be sent to multiple recipients

    - Locations can now be selected from Google Maps rather than having to enter the latitude/longitude or be physically located at the saved location. The "distance threshold" is also displayed on the map as a circle.

    - You can now configure the app to automatically launch any other apps whenever you enter or leave a location

    - LocationBot can now force Google Latitude to start automatically whenever your location changes, this can be useful as Latitude doesn't always run properly in the background.

    - All fields and messages are now also available in German, French,Italian,Spanish,Dutch,Korean and Japanese. It will also be simple to support new languages in future, if you would like to help translate the app into your local language drop me an email.


    If you experience any problems with the new version please let me know.
     
  5. cousinHub

    cousinHub Member

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    very nice. Thanks.
     
  6. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    I've just released version 2.03 of LocationBot. This has some useful new features which are detailed below:

    - "Always run" option. Earlier versions of the app were vulnerable to being killed off by the phone to save memory (an Android feature), or even being shut down accidentally if the user pressed the "back" key on the app's main screen. Version 2.03 now comes with an "Always run" option under "App settings", if this is checked the app will automatically restart after 5 minutes if it is shut down for any reason. This option replaces the "Run on phone startup" checkbox (the app will automatically run on phone startup if "Always run" is checked).

    - You can now add a "widget" to the phone's home screen, this displays the current location profile which saves you having to check it on the app screen.

    - The app now supports 2 additional volume controls: "media volume" and "alarm" volume.

    - There is now an option to switch on the phone's WiFi after a number of inaccurate location readings. I added this feature as I would sometimes get a series of very poor location readings from the cell network whilst at my house, but as soon as I switched on the phone's WiFi the accuracy would improve enormously, so this option aims to automate this step. I've tried to make this fairly smart, i.e. it will only switch on the WiFi if you are within 10km of any of your saved locations, and only when 10 really inaccurate readings arrive in sequence.


    If you experience any problems with the update please let me know, my contact details are at LocationBot
     
  7. jae_63

    jae_63 Well-Known Member

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    I just downloaded the free version and it looks very nice. Can you please modify the widget so that when you click on it the app is launched?
     
  8. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    Yes, I should be able to add that to a future release. However, I'm doing a major change at the moment which involves dividing up the app into 2 parts, a background "Service" that does all the listening for location changes and applying the settings, and the GUI which you interact with. At present it's all one application which can be killed off too easily so this is something I need to address (although the very latest version has an auto-restart option which is a kind of compromise). So once I've done all this I'll revisit your widget suggestion.
     
  9. snapper.fishes

    snapper.fishes Well-Known Member

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    This is awesome. I have heard of ideas like this before, but this is the first time I have seen it implemented. Keep the good work up. Will buy the full version when I am back in UK.
     
    zurloid likes this.
  10. jae_63

    jae_63 Well-Known Member

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    I really like LocationBot(Lite) but it's a big battery hog even though I changed the scan interval from 60 seconds to 600 seconds.

    If I do Settings->About Phone->Battery->Battery use it says that 15% of my power consumption is due to LocationBot. No other application even comes close.

    Also when the app does its update it often flashes across my screen. My guess is that this latter problem will be fixed when you finish the code refactoring which you described above. I imagine that this might help the battery life as well.

    Thanks in advance for any progress which you can make in these areas.
     
  11. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    I've just released version 2.04 which now runs the main location monitoring functionality as a background service, so the app is now purely used to configure the location & application settings and can be closed/killed without affecting the location monitoring. This version addresses both of the problems mentioned by jae_63 above, firstly the "flashing" over the screen which was when the app was automatically restarted (this functionality is completely removed), and also the memory usage, I've been running it for the last couple of hours & making a few changes to the config occasionally, and the battery usage is showing 2%.

    The background service that does the monitoring should even survive being killed by a task killer app such as Advanced Task Killer. However, you can stop it and start it at any time by using the buttons on the main screen. Please note that the service will remember its running state when the phone starts up, i.e. if the service is running when the phone is switched off, it will restart automatically when the phone is switched back on again.

    Please let me know how you get on with this release. I've had to make major changes to the way the app works in this release, and although I've done extensive testing over the past few days there are likely to be some teething problems so please let me know as soon as possible if you see any problems.

    Thanks
    Zurloid
     
  12. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    jae_63,

    As requested, I've just uploaded a new version that will launch the main application if you click on the widget.
     
  13. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    The latest release has another change that I would like to make people aware of, this only affects the full version so you can ignore this if you are using the Lite version of the app.

    Up until recently the only way for developers to protect their paid-for apps was to use a "copy-protect" feature available on Android phones, but this would prevent users moving the app to their SD card to save phone memory and would also increase the size of the application considerably. Google have been encouraging developers to move away from using copy-protect and use their new licensing service instead, this basically allows the app to check that the user has paid for the application when it starts up by querying Google's checkout service.

    This seems like a better approach for everyone and I've been running some tests recently which indicate that this will work nicely, so I've decided to implement this in the full version of LocationBot. The full version will check the license when it starts and if the check fails it will drop back into "Lite" mode.

    However, this is a fairly new service Google have provided, and in case there are any problems with it (or my implementation of the license check), I don't want to cause problems for anyone who has paid for the app. Therefore until the end of August, if the license check fails the app will simply display a warning but will continue to run as normal in "full version" mode. After 1st September however a failed license check will automatically cause the app to revert to "lite version" mode. This will give me plenty of time to deal with any problems and hopefully won't cause any inconvenience to anyone in the meantime. So if you have paid for the full version but get a "license check failed" warning, please contact me as soon as possible so I can investigate.

    I hope this approach is clear, please feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions.
     
  14. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    I've just uploaded another update which is slightly more efficient in the way it updates the GUI, and may help to save some battery power. I've seen somebody post a comment in the Market about the app taking up a lot of battery power, but he doesn't say whether this was using GPS or not. Obviously if you use the app with GPS on it will take up a lot of battery power, just like any app that uses the GPS. I generally run the app with the GPS switched off unless I'm saving a location, and as long as you set the update interval to a reasonable interval (e.g. 2-5 minutes) it doesn't take up that much power. I even wondered whether I should change the app's default settings to "GPS off", but then I'd get somebody posting a comment saying the app doesn't detect your location accurately! You can't win sometimes :-(

    The latest version also supports proper Asian characters, although I can't vouch for the accuracy of the translation....

    One more tip: it will probably save some additional battery power if you close the app fully rather than just push it to the background, as the app won't be regularly updating the display when the background service detects a location change.

    (Rant) I have to say, I find the way people can post comments about apps in the Market really irritating, there's nothing to stop someone posting something completely untrue or misleading about your app which is extremely frustrating for us developers. I have no objection to people being allowed to make comments, but at least developers should be able to respond/reply if someone posts something negative, particularly if the comment is purely because the person didn't read the documentation properly which has happened to me twice now. Google really need to look at this because it's really demoralising to spend ages trying to make a good app and have people leave negative comments which can put other people off using it.(end of Rant)
     
  15. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    I've finally done it. I didn't want to download and comment on my own app, but it's getting ridiculous. Two people now have posted comments on the Android Market saying that it drains the battery, so I felt I had no choice but to post a comment in response to these. Of course it will drain the battery if you leave the GPS on, as would any other maps. Try running Google Maps all day with the GPS on and see what happens to your battery!

    I've run some tests with the latest version of LocationBot, and left the background service on all day long whilst travelling between outer and central London. GPS was switched off and the app was configured to get the location from the networks every 60 seconds. I didn't open the app at all until the evening, but the widget was displaying the location on the home page.

    When I got home I opened up the phone's "what has been using the battery" menu, and LocationBot didn't even show up on the list. I'd used Google maps briefly and this was the lowest item at 2%, the rest of the battery was taken up by the display, WiFi and cell standby.

    I'm seriously considering uploading a new build with GPS disabled by default to try and stop these kind of comments, but as I posted earlier, I'll probably then get people posting comments about the app being inaccurate (bangs head against wall in frustration).
     
  16. dakuda

    dakuda New Member

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    This program seems great so far. Once I test out the free version to make sure it does what I hope it will, I will certainly be upgrading.

    Thanks.
     
  17. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    This is a message to "Jiri" who is posting negative comments about LocationBot in the Android Market. Fair enough if you don't like my app, you are welcome to post your comment. What I would like to understand is why you have posted the same message, not once, not twice, but THREE times now over the past couple of months. Most people would just post their comments, uninstall it and never go back to it again. Yet Jiri, you must have either kept it installed for 3 months (strange behaviour if you don't like it), or you keep re-downloading it every few months so you can go back and post your comment. Perhaps you would like to explain why you feel the need to be so vindictive? Could it be that maybe, you have a competing app? I look forward to your reply.
     
  18. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    I've just released a new version with couple of features that I feel will be very useful and have been specifically requested by a couple of users.

    The first is to be able to apply any saved location profile for a particular period such, for example having a "Meeting" profile which you can apply for 1 hour (this was a nice feature on the old Nokia phones). During this period no other settings will be applied even if you move into a new location.

    The second feature is the option to switch on the phone's "silent mode", this was requested by one user who pointed out that simply setting all the volume controls to zero isn't quite the same as this, as some phones will only flash the LED notification light when silent mode is on.
     
  19. rajub

    rajub Member

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    Very useful. Thank you!
     
  20. Revtim

    Revtim Member

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    I just downloaded the app, looks very nice!

    I have a (pretty basic) question: I wish to set it so that when I enter a location, it turns WiFi off, if it's on.

    Do I do this by checking "Change Wifi" and keeping "Wifi On" unchecked? I find this somewhat unclear.

    Do I understand this properly that when I enter the location, it will turn off Wifi if it's on, and if it's already off do nothing?

    Thanks!
     
  21. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    Hi

    Sorry for the delay in replying. Your understanding is correct, this will switch off the WiFi if it is on when you enter the location.
     
  22. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    I've just released the full source code and Eclipse project for LocationBot which can be found at this URL:

    LocationBot - Source code

    There are two reasons why I have decided to release this which are outlined below:

    Firstly, I get a lot of requests from students & other developers asking me how to do a particular operation in the Android API, so in the spirit of openness & sharing what you know, I thought it would be more helpful for people if they can see the entire codebase for the application. I hope this will help & encourage developers build applications for what is in my opinion by far the best smartphone platform.

    Secondly, I get a lot of requests from users to address some shortcoming in the app, either a bug fix or a request to implement some new feature, and to be honest I simply don't have sufficient spare time any more to address these requests, so if you find a bug or fancy making the odd enhancement I would be more than happy to include any changes in the next release of the app (although please check with me first before embarking on any major changes).

    I do need to make something clear though - I'm making this "open source", but not "free software". What this basically means is that I will continue to sell the application in the Android Market as before, so although I'm giving you the right to download the source and build the application, this doesn't mean you can rebuild it without the license code and start distributing free versions everywhere! I've thought long and hard about whether publishing the source code is a wise move or not, and only time will tell.

    You might ask "Why would I pay for the full version rather than download a version from a warez site?", and I would make the following reply: if you buy the official version from the Android Market (for less than the price of a cup of coffee), not only will you get updates pushed to your phone when they become available, but you will be avoiding the risk of installing a poisoned version that could contain spyware. The app requests a number of permissions including writing to your storage card, obtaining your location, reading your contact lists and sending SMS messages, so only by downloading the proper version from the Android Market can you be sure that the app isn't doing something nasty without your knowledge. If you download a cracked version that contains malicious code this is entirely at your own risk and I will not be responsible for the consequences.

    If you have any questions about the code I will be happy to answer them, my contact details are at this URL:


    LocationBot
     
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  23. zurloid

    zurloid Active Member This Topic's Starter

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    I've just released a 3rd version of LocationBot into the Android Market, this is called LocationBot-Ads and is basically the same as the full version of the application, but supported by ads. The existing 2 versions of the application will continue to be available as before.
     

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