Routes with turn by turn directions, even off-road.

At first I thought it wouldn’t be possible. Then I made some progress and think that it could work, sometimes! Now I’m obsessed about shipping it.

Here’s how it will work:

  1. Given an activity, Beacn will process it to find the places where you change direction
  2. You can edit the waypoint list and add notes for playback at certain places (such as, “mind the drop, slow down”)
  3. Upload and share the route with anyone on Beacn
  4. Before starting an activity, select a route
  5. Beacn will work the same way but add the turn and notes as voice feedback and will warn you if you get too off-course. 

Can be useful for training notes, reminders of sites of interest, or warnings if you’re new to a specific route.

ETA: August 2014

Bellow is a sample of work in progress. First, the route as captured by the app, and after that, the direction vectors detected. 

I can’t say much about the algorithm except that it works exclusively with your GPS data, as most of the time you will be riding off-road. It doesn’t aim to be 100% right, hence the route editor.


Usual activity GPS plot


This turn, auto detected 

No Man’s Sky

If you haven’t seen No Man’s Sky Gameplay Trailer | E3 2014 | PS4 please do so before reading any further.

Gigantic games are now becoming more common. Planet Annihilation is one of those where you zoom in on entire planets and command a vast army of robots against each other and although is not much different from say, Dune 2, the scale of these things is just mind boggling to say the least.

Even Notch - creator of Minecraft - wanted a space shooter where you lived and upgrade your ship, traveled through space and landed on planets - You usually get one of these sub-themes as an entire game - but has somehow abandoned the idea.

Enter No Man’s Sky with its procedural universe. Freaking awesome demo and I think the game will consume plenty of hours exploring, fighting, mining or just gazing dinosaurs.

Not many details have surface though, so I’ll take the chance and guess what we’ll get:

1) the universe is fixed. Everyone gets the same universe even though it’s generated. There won’t be a lot of network traffic because of this and I hope it’s true!

2) When you get to a planet or space region, significant changes made by others will be downloaded, this is where things get complicated as more and more people explore the universe but there’s a solution: The universe it so damn big that you won’t get tons of updates because not a whole lot of people have been there before you.

3) The demo looks like there’s no plot or story besides the in-game credits for upgrading your ship in order to make progress to the center of the galaxy (or universe) but the truth is you will be in a very dangerous world and you will probably need to survive first - inspired by the first night in Minecraft maybe? - and slowly build your ship later.

Technically, from what they shown on the video, I’m still scratching my head! At first it seemed like the transition between a planet’s surface and space used the atmosphere as fade out effect for going to space or vice versa, offloading all those polygons as you went from one place to the other but later you see the ship diving on a planet and it all seems to be continuous. Maybe only a PS4 class of device can cope with that but it looks fucking awesome!

Even more impressive is the fact that it’s all being done by a small group of people that can still be called an Indie studio - Hello games - and if you’re curious as to what they’ve done before, look for Joe Danger in the App Store:

I can’t wait for this game!

Swift and Golang

Remember why Google wanted Go? Faster builds, safety, better code quality and because that’s what new people fresh out of college could learn quickly.

Swift is like that as well, newcomers don’t have to deal with pointers or memory management and they even get a playground to fiddle with code until they get it right.

Real talent, problem solving and thinking habilities are being slowly eroded from the industry and soon enough, developers will become a commodity, with all their inefficiencies hidden by faster computers and smarter developer tools.

It’s like the stack overflow syndrome, people used to spend hours and days cracking problems and now all we have to do is type in a few search terms and boom: problem solved.

It seems we’re getting “better” apps but are we better developers? 

1.91 is to be released next week. Here is a quick look at how things work in Bikcon.

You sweat, we run the numbers :D

It’s code, sweat and bruises! What you see here is testing of an app that detects when you have an incident such as falling off a bike. If you don’t respond to cancel it, it sends an SMS to a friend or spouse.

There’s only one way to test this!

Epic ride, flawless tracking app.

Bikcon 1.9 Status Update

As I posted before, Bikcon 1.9 is about a security feature that tries to detect a fall in your sports activity that triggers an SMS and live tracking alert.

Progress has been made but the math is proving more difficult than initially thought. I’ve been simulating falls left and right and it’s frustrating because it hurts and often doesn’t work correctly!

The problem is complex. Even something like Fitbit - that operates with the same kind of sensors - gets it wrong sometimes. For instance, holding a shopping cart often triggers the sleep mode or riding a bicycle will also count a lot of steps.

The combination of vectors, standard deviations, GPS data and clever assumptions are in the mix, along with the fact that you might fall or get hit while running or riding a bicycle, with your iPhone strapped on your arm or on a back pocket.

To further delay things, in app purchases are needed to buy SMS credits and more web services are required which just takes time.

But there’s more:

  • Weather information is now pulled from Open Weather Map and spoken when the activity starts - This might seem strange but the key element is temperature. I’ve had one occasion where I was over dressed for an hour worth of exercise when I was expecting 10 degrees C and the actual temperature was over 18. I could have asked Siri of course but the context is unfavourable.
  • iPad version is in the works - That’s because the screen size is perfect to see your activities in detail - But this is for version 2.0 because it also involves sync, which BTW will be done with iCloud but in a more conservative way.
  • As always, refinements and bug corrections where needed.

Thanks to all the unknown users who bought the app!

Stay tuned!

WWDC14 forecast

Time flies… iOS 7 is almost a year old and here we are, again, preparing for the WWDC tsunami. A quick list of what I think will/won’t happen:

  • iOS gets an upgrade, but not as significant as last year’s
  • The big thing could be new iPhone screen size and resolutions. Wait a minute, this means they needed to announce the new iPhone, which they never done on a WWDC… So it won’t happen!
  • A new wearable platform that allows for some mini-apps? Highly unlikely! Apple moves in first, controls the experience and later allows for developers to join, if ever. Just look at Apple TV…  Also, a new product category will need a special event.
  • Apple TV apps, finally? Likely and I think this could be the main attraction this year, with the introduction of new HW.
  • Siri gets an API? I’m 50/50 on this but it would go well with the new Apple TV and probably a necessity for our apps.


Fall Detector

Bikcon 1.9 will feature a fall detector and here’s how it works:

  1. Detect larger than usual accelerations in short periods of time, raise the alarm to level 1.
  2. Watch for movement and speed. If the GPS keeps updating and your speed is active, reset the alarm.
  3. If no movement is detected, voice alarm is activated with instructions on how to stop it, alarm is at level 2.
  4. If the user fails to respond, the phone transmits a Fall code to the live tracking website. Alarm is at level 3.

This feature will be optional, as it decreases battery life and also because some activities don’t need this extra security.

Today I submitted 1.81 version of Bikcon from out here in Cape Verde! No matter how many years I code I won’t stop making bugs so 1.81 is about squashing most of them.