Archive for the ‘iphone’ Category

Donate your iPhone location logs anonymously

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

[Editor’s note: Apple and the other big smart phone players have been harvesting your location data to help your phone’s GPS locate you faster. There was a big hubub a couple weeks ago about the insecure nature of the iPhone log database. A new website, CrowdFlow.net is crowd sourcing the federation of individual users location files so we get a complete picture. By pooling our logs, we can visualize patterns among these location beacons. Act now as the next update from Apple will remove this ‘functionality’. Image above shows the locations around the world so far. Want to view your own tracks without sharing them? Check out Pete Warden’s original iPhoneTracker.]

What’s the idea?

You probably know by now that your iPhone collects the position data of wifi and cell networks near by. Google Android devices as well. More background info herehere and here.

We would like to combine as many of these log files as possible, create an open database of wifi and cell networks and thus visualize how these networks are distributed all over the world.

So please contribute your iPhone log files and help us to create an open wifi und cell database.

You can find out more on this project on [their] blog.

How can I contribute?

We are starting with the iPhone.
If you would like to contribute your log file – and you can do that entirely anonymously -
follow these two simple steps:

Continue reading at CrowdFlow.net . . .

Review of Avenza’s PDF Maps app for iPhone and iPad

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

openwith processing maptools

This app gets the job done: PDF Maps introduces a strongly played set of basic features and later versions promise to add more advanced features like layer visibility and feature attribute query. Professional cartographers can use the app to deliver custom cartography maps that leverage GPS to locate the map-reading customer with the magic blue dot. It’s certainly not an ArcPad, but it works on the iPad and you’ll find it fun to use (and the app price is right).

I quite enjoy Avenza’s new free PDF Maps iOS app, free and available now on the iTunes App Store for iPhone and iPad. I’ve been testing it for several months using both the beta and  final release versions. I’ve used the app in my neighborhood, on a cross country road trip, and we’ve been using it to ground truth maps at at my day job. I’ve created my own GeoPDFs and used those from USGS and Avenza.

Besides myself, I setup two non-cartographers with an iPad (3g  with gps) and several GeoPDFs depicting neighborhood-level street maps to field check in the Washington DC metro area. They were amazed at how easy it was to locate themselves on the map and make notes by dropping markers they bring back to the office for me to review. Because these particular maps include street labels, they don’t need to switch back and forth to Apple’s provided Google Maps app as they navigate.

The inaugural version is iOS only but the company has had requests for Android, Symbian, Blackberry and even Windows 7 Mobile. Expect an Android version next. Future iterations of the app may introduce a two-tiered, free-basic feature and pay advanced feature parellel versions, which seems reasonable to me. I’m also excited to see if a white-label version becomes available (much like the Flash SWF export out of Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator) that cartographers can use to brand the experience and pre-bundle their maps.

PDF Maps offers the following capabilities:
  • View and load your own custom cartography maps and view them with GPS location
  • Supports both Adobe/ESRI geospatial PDF maps and TerraGo/USGS GeoPDF® files.
  • Access and interact with saved maps without the need for a live network connection
  • Standard GSP app features: Plot way-points, enter attribute data and notes, measure distances and areas
  • Standard iOS interface: Quickly view, zoom and pan maps using gestures (pinch, drag and flick, double tap)
  • HD version for iPad same app as the basic version for iPhone, slightly reworked interface
  • Does not currently support waypoint export, a key feature
  • Does not currently support import of KML and GPX files

To create a GeoPDF, you’ll need ArcGIS 9.3.1+ to export from ArcMap with preserve coordinate system checked. Or use Avenza’s MaPublisher plugin for Illustrator (version 8.2+). You can also download thousands of GeoPDFs from USGS. Even though the USGS files use the TerraGo GeoPDF format specification (versus Adobe + ESRI’s), it will open and render in PDF Maps.app. Avenza also offers dozens of sample GeoPDFs linked from within the app to get you started (click Maps, then +, then From Avenza PDF Maps Library and browse the list).

Adding maps is as simple as dragging them to iTunes or attaching to an email (making it easy to send map updates to your field checker). Clicking on a PDF link on the iPhone or iPad now prompts to open in the app, as seen in the first screenshot above . Once opened in the PDF Maps app, it will take a few seconds to minutes to render, second screenshot above. Once open, several tools are available, the most important of which is simply the “locate me” triangle button on the map map view.

Even though it’s all about the PDF map you’re looking at, the app makes it convenient to open the same view in Maps.app to see Google’s version of reality for cross checking, especially using the satellite map tiles there. This is possible for both the current map view using the tools menu, and to open a specific waypoint marker after clicking it’s location field.

I’ve loaded PDFs with the app that are more than 10 mb of vectors and performance has been good. When the map first loads it will process and prepare several zoom levels of precached tiles. This will make panning and zooming faster during actual map use and is worth the wait.

During precache rendering, you can still use the map, but the parts that will still be loading will be fuzzy for a while. Very large maps (larger than 20 mb, or more than 2000 sq. inches) are slower to render in this version (hey, it’s a mobile phone). For larger areas, I’ve been splitting the exported map into separate files. When multiple maps loaded in, there is a Maps table of contents listing.

I found a couple continuing quirks with the app and one major missing feature. The app really needs to export the map’s waypoints as CSV, KML, and GPX as an email attachment. I wish repositioning an existing pin was easier. The hit areas on some buttons is small, making it hard to use in a moving car. Sometimes it’s nice to have multiple marker icon labels open, but sometimes that is odd. At any rate, there’s no way to close them all en mass.

Quick and dirty test GeoPDF files:
(using Natural Earth, US Census, and other draft data)

Note: Because of USGS website quirks, it is not possible to directly download a USGS GeoPDF onto your iPhone/iPad in the field. The website doesn’t render properly (something about IE and cookies), and the resulting download file is ZIP format rather than PDF. Not sure why, since the PDF should already be optimized for file size (there’s only a 1.5% file size savings between ZIP and PDF in the Washington D.C. West quad sheet).

Check out more screenshots:

Flash and Standards: The Cold War of the Web (A List Apart)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

flashstandards

[Editor's note: A sane approach to the HTML versus Flash "war": ceasefire. Get on with designing great site around great content for your readers.]

Republished from A List Apart.
By Dan Mall.

You’ve probably heard that Apple recently announced the iPad. The absence of Flash Player on the device seems to have awakened the HTML5 vs. Flash debate. Apparently, it’s the final nail in the coffin for Flash.

The arguments run wide, strong, and legitimate on both sides. Apple CEO Steve Jobs calls Flash Player buggy. John Gruber of Daring Fireball says that Apple wants to maintain their own ecosystem—a formula Adobe’s software doesn’t easily fit into. On the other end, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch argues that Flash is a great content delivery vehicle. Mike Chambers, Principal Product Manager for Flash platform developer relations at Adobe, expresses his concerns over closed platforms. Interactive developer Grant Skinner reflects on the advantages of Flash.

However, the issue is larger than which one is better. It’s about preference and politics. It’s an arms race. This is the Cold War of the Web.

Ceasefire

Both the standards community and the Flash community are extremely good at sharing knowledge and supporting the people within their respective groups. The relationship across communities, however, isn’t nearly as cordial. Two things are happening: either the people within each camp stay to themselves, or one ignorantly hurls insults at the other.

As new technologies emerge, their following naturally starts small. An effective rallying cry is to find—or create—a common enemy. Huge strides such as Doug Bowman’s Wired redesign, Dave Shea’s CSS Zen Garden, and Jeffrey Zeldman’s Designing With Web Standards had a significant influence, not only on the standards community, but on the entire web design industry. They positioned standards as an alternative to Flash and table-based sites, not in conflict with them. However, less enlightened followers wrongly interpreted these champions’ examples as the first assault. As Adobe Photoshop Principal Product Manager John Nack says, “people want a certain ‘killer’ narrative.”

Continue reading at A List Apart . . .

Going Native: Using the Google Maps API v3 in Smartphone applications (Killingsworth via Google)

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

[Editor's note: Cut down on development time using the new Google Maps API v3 but creating a single mobile version of your map that can also be wrapped inside a native application for the iPhone or Android.]

Republished from Google Geo Developers Blog.
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Over the last couple of years, my office has been working on using the Google Maps API to display the Missouri State University campus map. The map is used by campus faculty, staff, students, and visitors and includes buildings, parking and transit system information. Beginning this summer, we started work on incorporating live GPS tracking of our campus buses into the map. Both the idea and GPS application on the buses came from one of our computer science students who wanted more information on the campus transit system.

Using the Google Maps API v3, I was able to create a mobile version of our map for use on smartphones. After showing it to my users, one of the first responses I got was, “Are you going to make this available as an application?”. After spending many hours developing a feature-rich mobile web version, the thought of investing a large amount of time to code the same experience on multiple platforms was overwhelming. Then I began thinking of the maintenance headaches; even simple changes, such as adding a new sets of icons for custom markers, would be time consuming. All of a sudden the idea sounded much less appealing. I’d spent all this time on the mobile web version of my map, why couldn’t I just use that?

All Wrapped Up

So instead of writing the maps application using the SDK of each phone platform, I wrapped my v3 Maps API site into a WebView inside a stub application. Now all the work spent on the web version automatically applies to the “native” application and my users never even know the difference. The Google Maps API team have even provided some great reference articles for Android and iPhone which help get the process started.

Continue reading at Google Geo Developers Blog. . . .

Building iPad Applications with Flash (Adobe)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

[Editor’s note: No, there is no Flash player on the iPhone or the new iPad in Safari. But, just like AIR on the desktop, Adobe has figured out a way to wrap Flash SWFs in an app runtime so they’ll work on the new devices. Apparently part of Flash CS5, Packager for iPhone, announced at MAX 2009 conference, will be interesting to watch (or multi-touch).]

Republished from Adobe.

Today Apple announced the Apple iPad and like many of you, we at Adobe are looking forward to getting our hands on one of these devices. This is an exciting time to be a software designer with an explosion of new devices and we look forward to helping Flash developers and designers bring innovative applications to these devices using our tools and frameworks.

We announced the Packager for iPhone at MAX 2009 which will allow Flash developers to create native iPhone applications and will be available in the upcoming version of Flash Pro CS5. This technology enables developers to create applications for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (though applications will not initially take direct advantage of iPad’s new screen resolution). It is our intent to make it possible for Flash developers to build applications that can take advantage of the increased screen size and resolution of the iPad.

Continue reading at Adobe . . .

Color Oracle Review + The Economist’s Red-Green Fixation

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Hisham Abboud over at the Curious Chap blog promo’d Color Oracle, the software that the talented Bernhard Jenny programmed (with my sometimes helpful nagging) for simulating color blindness.

No self-respecting programmer, UX practitioner, or web site designer should be without [Color Oracle]

Nice endorsement, thanks! Hisham uses an Apple iPhone website chart to emphasize his point: “My first brush with what one can do for color blind persons was a 2007 post by Greg Raiz. Greg described how Apple was using red and green circles (same shape) to illustrate which stores had iPhone availability, and how they later switched to using different shapes”:

redgreen

By using shape to reinforce (overload) the color difference, green and red can still be used to take advantage of those hue’s strong cultural significance (green = go, red = stop). The Economist, on the other hand, persists in NOT using shape to amplify the color differences in their charts and maps. Not only does this make it hard to read on my evening subway commute, they are completely illegible for color blind readers. The January 16th, 2010 edition has a particularly egregious example:

cfn742

‘Augmented reality’ fuses the Web and the world around you (Wash Post)

Friday, November 27th, 2009
yelpwikitude

[Editor's note: Yelp and Wikitude apps are bringing annotated camera view to newer smartphone that have both GPS and compass built in.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
By Rob Pegoraro. Sunday, November 22, 2009

The cameras on some new phones don’t show the world as you’ve known it.

Instead of just viewing the usual landscape of people, places and things on their screens, you see circles, rectangles and icons floating on top of the scenery. Tap one to display a snippet of Internet data about whatever lies behind that tag. As you look around, the view on the phone’s display shifts accordingly, presenting new shortcuts to whatever the Web knows about your surroundings.

The concept goes by the name augmented reality, and it’s been quietly bringing one of the Internet’s hokiest promises to a mainstream audience.

Remember all the hype about virtual reality, in which we’d don headsets to immerse ourselves in some version of the Star Trek holodeck? Augmented reality turns this from a science-fiction idea into something you can experience just by holding a smartphone in front of you at eye level — no goofy goggles or helmets needed.

For that to happen, though, mobile phones had to acquire a few prerequisite capabilities: a fast Internet connection, a high-resolution screen, Global Positioning System reception and a compass. In other words, first the phone had to be able to look up things on the Internet, then it had to be able to show them to you, then it had to find itself on a map, then it had to orient itself in 3-D space.

As a result, “AR” programs didn’t begin to appear on consumer hardware until last year, and many otherwise brainy smartphones still cannot run them — for example, the original iPhone and iPhone 3G and Palm’s Pre and Pixi devices lack compasses.

Continue reading at The Washington Post . . .

Google details Maps Navigation for Android, iPhone (Electronista)

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

[Editor's note: As this YouTube video shows, Google's self-branded map navigation app for their Android series of phones includes some first-for-free features like natural voice search, turn-by-turn using a street view overlay, and instant rerouting. First for the 'droids, next for the iPhones.]

Republished from electronista.

Google today provided added details of the turn-by-turn mapping service found on the Motorola Droid. Google Maps Navigation adds many of the features that would normally exist in a dedicated GPS unit, such as a bird’s-eye view and spoken directions, but takes advantage of Google’s existing Maps features. Traffic is free in those areas where Google provides service, and Street View can show directions overlaid on top of in-location photos.

Search is naturally rolled into Navigation and lets drivers use voice or typed commands to navigate to a location by search criteria rather than a specific address. Long-distance travelers can launch a search in mid-drive and find just the points of interest close to the already planned route.

Google Maps Navigation ships first on the Droid as a beta but will be available for all Android 2.0 devices. The company also says it’s cooperating with Apple to bring the feature to the iPhone through its built-in Maps tool but hasn’t given a timetable for when it expects the feature to be ready.

The unveiling is a potential coup for Google. Although RIM’s BlackBerry line and most GPS-aware Nokia phones include company-made turn-by-turn apps, these either have limited functionality or require a paid subscription to work properly. Google Maps requires an active Internet connection to download map data but is otherwise free to use where most stand-alone apps, including for the iPhone, often carry a significant initial fee and often charge extra for future map updates.

FXG: Illustrator and Dreamweaver Integration!?

Friday, October 16th, 2009

[Editor's note: I've known about the FXG format for exchanging content between Illustrator and Flash via Flash Catalyst for a while now but have never been excited about it until seeing this video from Adobe's MAX Sneaks session last week. It previews how FXG might one day (CS5?) allow live data binding (read automatically updating charting, etc) based on a design mocked up in Illustrator but deployed via Dreamweaver as HTML 5 (and iPhone compatible) or Flash via SWF.]

Republished from Mordy’s Real World Illustrator blog.
Another take at: //commentedout and video source at YouTube.

So take a look at this video that someone captured from this year’s Adobe MAX Sneaks session — a demo of technology showing integration between Illustrator and Dreamweaver. If it isn’t clear in the video clip below what is happening, I’ll spell it out for you: He starts by taking art drawn in Illustrator and copies it to the clipboard. Then he goes into Dreamweaver, selects a DIV and chooses a function called Smart Paste. Dreamweaver then pastes an FXG conversion of the Illustrator art directly into the page. If you aren’t familiar with FXG, it’s basically a better SVG (you can get more information on the open source FXG spec here). In other words, you draw in Illustrator, copy and paste into Dreamweaver (which converts it to code), and the art displays as vector art in a web browser. What’s more, the engineer proceed to actually bind XML data to the chart.

As I mentioned, I think this is probably something that is way way off in the future, but it’s still quite incredible. Maybe there’s some hope for us all, after all :)

Continue reading at Mordy’s Real World Illustrator . . .

First Augmented Reality App Reaches App Store (MacNN)

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

[Editor's note: The future is here. Not quite immersive, but at least augmented by overlaying points-of-interest icons over a live video feed from your iPhone's camera (YouTube video above). Makes use of iPhone 3.0 OS features to push route disruption notices and in-app purchases of bus routes and additional points of interest.]

Republished from MacNN.
Wednesday, August 26th

Beating out acrossair’s Nearest Tube, French company Presselite has released the first augmented reality app for the iPhone, Metro Paris Subway 3.0. Previous versions have relied on 2D maps as users navigate the Paris subway system, identifying routes and points of interest. Version 3.0 allows users to find POIs using a live video mode, on top of which the app overlays icons and distance markers.

As a user walks through Paris, icons shift relative to a phone’s position, judged according to compass and GPS data. Because of the function’s dependence on compass headings, augmented reality can only be used with an iPhone 3GS. The app costs $1; other changes in v3.0 include Google Maps integration, push notifications for route disruptions, and in-app purchase options for bus routes and different POI categories.

Check it out on iTunes . . .