App Spotlight: GeoStrings | webOS Nation
 
 

App Spotlight: GeoStrings 83

by Derek Kessler Fri, 04 Dec 2009 1:19 pm EST

Have you ever come home from running errands, only realized that the one thing you forgot to put on your list was available at a store near where you were already shopping? If you’re like me, chances are you’ve done that more than once, and it really gets old after a while. PreCentral forum member and developer of the popular homebrew app Music Player (Remix) is coming to our collective rescue with a new original app called GeoStrings.

GeoStrings is a cross between a task list and a GPS tracker. As the video above demonstrates, one operates the app by entering a reminder item, such as picking up the new Star Trek DVD, and then adding a location (or locations) at which to accomplish that activity, thus making a ‘GeoString.’ When you’re in the area, GeoStrings puts up an alert on your phone so that you can go and take care of the task.

The app also saves a history of your locations and GeoStrings, creates location groups (e.g. stores where you can buy DVDs), lets you search for businesses through Google, and more. Alarms can even be customized such that they only happen on specific days or within a specified radius of your locations. GeoStrings also will run in the background, periodically checking your location to find nearby GeoStrings.

It’s apps like this that truly leverage the unique features of webOS. GeoStrings will soon be entering closed beta testing and will later be available in the App Catalog.

[via: The MX Web]

Thanks to gizmo21 for the tip!

83 Comments

When it is running in the background, I assume that I need to turn on my GPS all the time to get the notification, right? man... this app better comes with an extra battery...

Honestly, I find no difference in battery life with GPS on or off, as long as I don't have Sprint Nav actually running in the background.

I agree with this. Battery Monitor is a useful tool to prove it to yourself if you're not convinced.

Yeah, I agree. Turning off GPS doesn't do anything extra over just not using it. Of course, actively using it with Google Maps or Sprint Nav or anything else will just absolutely destroy battery life, but if you have it on not being used I see no reason to turn it off.

(Though I suggest anonymous data collection off, just in case).

Battery conversation is one of my top priorities. I've started running some initial tests and things are looking good so far. I'm implementing smart logic to ensure no additional work is being performed where not necessary.

i dont understand this. does not everyone have a car charger for when they are using GPS enabled apps while driving? i know i had to have one for EVERY phone i used the sprint telenav app with or i would not make it to my destination. if your nice sprint will just give you an extra cord and you can get a usb cig-lighter plug in on amazon for .01 plus shipping.

Now THAT is awesome.

/Kevin

Sometimes people complain that the apps in the app catalog are stupid, and I would say they are mostly apps I will never waste my time on because they are $2 pre-versions of flash games that I wouldn't even waste time on for free.

But this is AN APP! Hurray for APPs! (I wasn't surprised to read that the same developer can out with the Music Player Homebrew that we all probably love.)

I love the concept of apps like this, that capitalize on the strengths & "connectedness) of the Pre - can't wait!

I have been waiting for something like this to come along! Now if there was some way to connect this to another task management system, like Remember the Milk...

was this the guy who got all pissed when his player was rejected?

if so, i'm glad he changed his mind about bailing on the webOS dev community.

No you're referring to the Nanplayer music app. I'm the developer of the Music Player (Remix) app.

The added functionality of your player should be integrated into Palm's own. Duplication of functionality is a terrible thing, I'm with Apple on that one.

I agree that the functionality should be integrated into the Palm app, but I disagree that duplication is terrible. The duplication creates competition. Competition pushes other producers. Things improve. And in the process users get to vote on which set of features they prefer most. Where as in Apple's world, users clearly prefer lots of different apps (e.g. google voice app) but have no say whatsoever in getting it.

Here's a good article discussing universal standards. Different standards, but IMHO applicable anyway.

No, that issue involved NaNPlayer, not Remix.

Lookin good. And, if H-Cubed is talking about what I think he's talking about, that may be the most clever idea yet.

You could just set the alerts FOR her on her phone! How funny would that be as she's pulling into the neighborhood... "New Alert: Give your husband __________." You guys can fill in the blank...

LMAO I wasnt I was talking about actual errands but shoot I like your idea a lot better!

...bagels?

Bagels and whatever else you can imagine...lol
I got it bad, the Mom in law lives less than 3 miles away... >:(


lmao!

Thanks for the article on my app. To keep up on the progress of my app visit the GeoStrings thread in the "webOS Development" section of the forum as well as my YouTube page (HedamiSoft) for more demonstration videos.

+1 on the extra battery! lol

But seriously tho, if I install this app my wife will excercise the crap out of it! I personally would love to get it but scared to because I know she LOVES to give me errands...lol

That brings up a good point. I actually want a way for my wife to share appointments with me. It'd be pretty darn cool if there were a cloud based mechanism for storing this data - perhaps in Remember The Milk, and store the location data in a notes field on RTM.

While this won't be in the initial release, I'm considering something like this for a future release if the app is successful and the demand is present.

I'd be interested Dan!

i really dont think that is going to be a problem. its too useful of a program. and if your married it would be a necessity. this way i would not have to listen to my wife, it would just come to my phone in an update on what i need to do.

"get milk" added to buzzard's geostring via (wife) or visa-versa if i added it for her to pick up.....hahahahahahahaahhaahhahaah! yea, that would go over well

Umm... YES PLEASE!!

Hi! at least you got a choice,your wife or the Pre?I chose the later, just joking,lol'

hi! at least, you got a choice the wife or the Pre? I chose the later,just joking lol'

This sounds fantastic. I'm not normally craving MORE advertisements in my life (100,000+ per day is sufficient, thank you), but I think some ads/offers could make sense with this app. For instance, wouldn't it be nice to know that you could get a discount on the Star Trek DVD at one store vs. another? Or even a data feed that shows what's in stock and the price. Could help save a trip and money. Gee, talk about scope creep. Anyway, can't wait to try this out. Thanks.

I looked at a couple of your other clips I have a great idea for a feature you could add in!

When you do a notification, theres no way to delay it. Aka, I have a report due at work...but I dont have it done, when I show up, I want that notification. However, if I swipe it away, it disables it, if I click on it...i can only edit it. But i dont want this geostring disabled, because I need to get that report done. If i could tell it, "disable until tomorrow" or "disable for 4 hours", that would be perfect.

Also, maybe just disable it for the current location for a time period. Example, i need to pick up that star trek dvd, but target is out, i can tell it, disable target for 3 days, so if im by best buy, i will get reminded. and in 3 days (hopefully) target has more, and i will be alerted by then if i havnt picked it up yet

Actually you already have this ability. Let's say you reach a location at 2pm and want to disable for 4 hours, when the reminder pops up, you would tap the GeoString to bring up the detail screen. In GeoStrings, you can specify start and end times for a GeoString. So in this example, you would set the start time to 6pm. At 6pm if you were still within the radius of the target, you would be reminded again.

The "disable until tomorrow" ability is also available. Let's say it was a Saturday when you received the reminder popup, you could delay the next reminder until the next day by un-checking "Saturday" on the GeoString detail screen. That way it would only remind you again when it was Sunday.

You could do that...but it would be nice to see it implemented right in the notification. basically a snooze button. If im driving along, and i get a notification, i dont want to have to open up the program and change settings with the drop down while im driving.

Also, lets say i did have to pick something up at the grocery store, but i dont have time...if i drive by, get notified and ignore it, does it stop notifying me when i leave the notification radius and then continue being enabled? or does it have to be addressed?

I like it

I am considering a snooze option on the notification popup actually.

If you ignore the reminder and you leave the target radius, it'll stop reminding you. You're only reminded when you're within the target radius.

That would be perfect, I look forward to picking this app up off the app catalog

Looks very promising! What I'd really like to see is a notification when you are near 'any' store such as a Walmart. Example: I need to pick up an item from a chain store (Walmart, Best Buy, etc) and am driving on the highway on my way to another city. I'd love to be able to set it for a notification to come up when I am near a Walmart or Best Buy (whatever company I chose for an alert), instead of only being able to choose from specific favorites. Perhaps I'm looking waaaay beyond the capabilities of the mobile mapping services for the Pre. But it would be great. Tonight I have to drive to another city and need to stop to pick up a gift on the way. I know what store I need to stop at, but don't know where any of them are on the way. If the application could pop up a notification as I'm driving along to alert me that I'm near one of the stores I'm on the look-out for, it would be a new instant favorite application for me!!

Nice concept so far though :)

Great idea, but I'm way ahead of you. :) In one of the other videos I posted (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhmvvIa1duI), I demonstrate this capability.

You can search for a particular store (Walmart, Best Buy) and then select the locations you want and add them all to your GeoString. Anytime you get near any one of the locations, it'll pop up with a reminder.

You can also search for a general category (like "department store") and it'll find all the department stores in the city/state you choose.

I think what he was asking for was more dynamic than what you demonstrated. E.g. if I have a reminder that I need to stop by a "Best Buy". But at the last minute, I have to go to a different town and I forget to update the geostring.

I think he's asking if it can dynamically tell that you're near a best buy - one that you didn't specifically list as a location - and then give you a reminder.

Or, I could be wrong about what he's asking for. Either way, it's something I'm curious about. I suspect this feature is possible, but at the cost of very heavy battery drain.

Yes while this is a cool idea, it would require internet access during the periodic background checks which may be a battery drainer.

Also this type of dynamic search may result in false positives. For instance, let's say I want to be reminded when I reach any Lowes hardware store. If I type "Lowes" as my search parameter, it'll pick up Lowes hardware stores, but it will also pick up Lowes grocery stores. I just tried searching for "Lowes" on maps.google.com in New York City and it came up with a Caribbean restaurant.

Wouldn't the search string contain Lowes Hardware after you've selected it from the options presented from just "Lowes"??

If the user-entered string is too vague, then get them to be more specific!

:D

Not necessarily. Sometimes the results may come back as "Lowes" and sometimes it may come back as "Lowes Hardware". That's why I think the decision of which target location to add to a GeoString should be up to the user.

Yes, that was exactly what I was trying to get at - a more dynamic reminder as the other poster noted and tried to clarify for me. I wouldn't care if the internet would cause a drain on the battery because I (as most) use a car charger when driving. Having the ability to have the unit dynamically remind me of a Best Buy location I'm driving by in a different town would be ideal.

I think you're assuming that most everyone uses a charger in their cars at all times. I don't think that's true. I know I don't use mine unless my battery is getting low because the charging cord makes using the phone a bit more difficult. I recently got a car mount which makes it a bit better; however, it's still one more cord to plug in so I usually don't do it.

But that aside, the other main issue is the false positives that I discussed in my previous post. If you search for a business name, in many cases it's going to pick up places that are not actually the business you're thinking of. I don't think users would appreciate having an alert go off indicating a store is nearby when in fact there isn't.

Those two issues would be detriments to the user experience and that's not acceptable in my book. So I'm not going to be able to include dynamic business searching. It's a really cool idea, but the technical limitations of mobile batteries and the Google service make it less than ideal to implement.

this looks fantastic and I want it! My only suggestion is to create some smaller alert radii options for city dwellers like myself. I'm in NYC and a one mile radius would encompass most of manhattan so like a .25mi and .5mi might be a help.

Someone else suggested this in the GeoStrings forum thread. I'll do some testing to see if this is feasible. However my hunch is that it will work; however only at slow speeds. So for people driving at normal road speeds, it would probably miss the reminder. But for city commuters, it may work.

I was looking at developing an app similar to this and my thought was to keep a last dozen positions for a vector, to point towards the direction of travel. This may allow you to create a corridor of travel, rather than specific distance based on current fix. Then distance check is variation from a best fit line.

I'm not sure that would work considering I'm only polling for the current position every minute. Within 12 minutes (12 points of data), a person could go in a variety of directions. Just because they're going straight one minute, it doesn't mean they'll keep going straight.

If you are going fairly slow, you don't need to predict. If you aren't going slow, then it is more likely you will be moving more linearly. I figured I would do slow polling, like one per minute, until I got closer to target points. Then ramp up the polling if needed, due to speed relative to detection radius.

So if you're going fast, you don't make any turns? If a car comes across an intersection, they could go one of 3 directions (straight, left, or right). If your app tries to predict that the car is going to go straight because it went straight for the past X miles, it may give a false positive if the driver decides to turn.

+1 I too live in New York. Who drives? ;-) We do a lot of walking here and use the subway a lot. So popping up out of the subway and having a geostring alert pop up would work really well with a shorter radius.

Wonderful App.
First I've seen that I'd actually pay for!

couldn't agree more. that app is among the few I'd actually spend money on.

is it possible to post a video of it working on a Pre while driving?

Yes definitely...I'm going to be doing that. I have a car mount, so while I'm driving I'll get someone to film the Pre.

(removed duplicate post)

nice idea DanPLC, love the Music player remix app, and this is a good app for me, im a forgetful person, so i can set this app to set off 10 miles from my college as reminders for home work lol, so if i happen to leave it at my house i at least dont have to go all the way back to my place, only half the distance :P. good app keep it up man!!

I like the app as well. Completely unrelated, but how did he make the video? what is he running the webOS on?

I'm running the app on the Pre emulator which is basically a virtual machine. The emulator is provided as part of the SDK.

I recorded the screen using CamStudio.

KILLER APP!
I have been waiting for this application ever since I got my first Palm Pilot 10 years ago.

One tweak though, for the future. having a way to set a waypoint alarm would be good. Like say the destination is off the road a bit, enough that a big radius is just too clumsy. So you set an geo-alarm/waypoint alarm that goes off when you near the freeway exit you need to take.

So are you saying you'd like to be able to enter in GPS coordinates as a GeoString location? Or is there some type of waypoint database you're referring to?

not referring to a waypoint database.

I guess what I am saying is that it might be useful to allow more than one geo-alarm location for a particular to-do item.

For example... lets say I set a geo-alarm to buy a jersey at the basketball stadium. But, that stadium is 8 miles east of the freeway that I normally drive on. I could just set the alarm location as the freeway exit I need to take, instead of the actual location... But, it would be better if I could set the alarm for the actual location of the stadium, (in case I got to the area via a different route.) PLUS a second reminder location for the freeway exit I would take.

I could just make two geostring entries one for the exit and one for the actual location... but it would be nice if I could do one to-do entry with two location reminders.

also, yes, I am assuming we would be able to enter straight up lat-long or touch a place on the map, to make a location entry, even if it is not a search-able location. (did I see that in the video, or is my imagination filling in the blanks?)

Another thing, I put the big double size sedio battery in my phone so I can leave everything on and not worry about it. So for me... if your app uses a bit extra battery, no worries.

when you release this thing, I am going to buy it twice, In fact, I am going to donate to your music application even though I don't listen to music much. I just want you to do well with this project.
This is the kind of application Palm should throw money and people at you to help you and then run commercials to brag about the wicked cool "life changing" "paradigm shift..." etc... application. I am just totally geeking out about this dude. 10 years I have waited for a phone/pda and software that could do this for me.

You can add more than one location to a single GeoString. But currently you can't tap on a map to select a location. I wanted to add this feature, but it requires referencing the Google Ajax API. I actually did this and implemented the maps successfully; however I found that it added 6-7 seconds to the app start time which was ridiculous. Also there were times when the API would fail to load even with a strong internet connection which resulted in errors when trying to reference calls in the API.

Commercials for the app would be great! Considering an app like this is not even possible on the iPhone, I think it would be a good opportunity for Palm to take a shot at Apple with a play on the "there's an app for that" theme.

one word ... coodoes

Lol -- is that the same as Kudos? Either way, you are right -- it is well deserved.

Dan and MobileMitch, I believe an I have an alternative solution. When the notification come up, you have the option of letting the app copy the target's address onto your clipboard. Then you could manually open Sprint Navigation or Google Maps and paste the address into it.

Ya, I like that.
It wouldn't really solve the "problem" i am thinking about but I think that a button to put the location into the clipboard could be useful.

on the other hand... that would be quite a bit of messing around with the phone when you are driving. more than two or three clicks to go from one thing to the other and I would get in a wreck.

I think DanLc is right about this being most useful for areas that you are already familiar with. If you try to use it for places you have never been to before and don't know how to get there... hmmmm... I guess its all academic until we get this in our hands.

Bottom line, just release this sucker as is! I want to try it! I would pay for the chance to pay for and troubleshoot this idea even if it isn't 100% finished.

The app looks good and please continue to add improvements. I'm interested in backgrounds, I am a girlie girl and I like to have the option to change backgrounds. This app would be great for prescriptions, grocery shopping or little things such as a reminder of picking up the newspaper or the latest issue of my favorite magazine. Is there a sound alarm or alert? Too bad you can't take it a step further and also make it a call alert. That's another reason I would put a string on my finger. Say for instance, customer service is only open on mon-fri bet 8 - 5 pm. and its Sunday. And I have the option of being reminded when I am at my job or when I return home in the evening for whatever reason when I punch in my address of choice. Its far fetched I know, but I think it would be cool.

If your phone is not in silent mode, an audible beep is issued. Otherwise it vibrates.

If I'm understanding you correctly, you can do what you're wishing for. You can set a certain location (or locations) for your GeoString (like home, work, etc.) and then set the days of the week and time range you want the reminders enabled.

If I'm not understanding your request, let me know.

While I'm really happy to see this application developed (it's got to be in the top 1% of applications for the Pre), I would like to remind people that this concept is nothing new.

Simply doing a Google search for "location reminders" (http://www.google.com/search?q=location+reminders) comes up with a number companies that do it for other platforms. Of course the first result looks to be the patent for it (though it's so full of legalese, I can't tell if it's actually the same idea).

well ya
the idea has been out there for at least 10 years
there are some similar applications for blackberry and iphone though I have not heard wonderful things about them.

ideas are cheap.
good implementation is priceless.
I am hoping this one is the good implementation.

From the looks of Music Player (Remix)... I'd say "good implementation" is the norm for Dan. ;^]

I actually thought of the idea myself. There have been many times when I forgot to do something and a reminder when I was at a particular location would have helped me out.

But yes when I do a google search I see that other people have thought of this idea as well. However, I don't think the iPhone has anything like this considering they don't allow 3rd party apps to run in the background. But maybe there's something like this for jailbroken iPhones.

Dan, you are incredible! You've seemingly put this together in such a short amount of time, and also while developing Music Player (Remix). I don't know if you are the kind of person who enjoys praise, yet I sure hope so. I am shouting it out from the rooftops. :)

Nice!! When can we expect to see it out there?

Either by the end of this month or January.

I just want to say thanks DanPLC for your time in the development of such a "USEFUL" app, there are (as others have eluded to) few and far between, keep up the great work!

Dan, this is simply brilliant! So much functionality in a such a polished package. Can't wait to see it in the catalog!

Dan - that integrated help feature is a really nice touch. I believe its called 'context sensitive help' on desktop platforms. Palm should consider building in support for it at the SDK level so all apps could have a version of their screens with the question marks generated automativally by the OS.

That's a really good idea.

When is this going to be in the app. store?
I really want this app.

Either this month or next month.

I just wanted everyone to know that GeoStrings has been submitted to the app catalog. Hopefully it'll get in there shortly!

You can check out GeoStrings in the app catalog by clicking here: GeoStrings

This will allow you to view GeoStrings in the app catalog on your phone.