Mobile Me(dia) Final: Spontaneous

My first Android app is just about ready to go! Tentatively entitled Spontaneous, my final project in Shawn Van Every’s Mobile Me(dia) class is an app designed to encourage users to make the most out of their free time by doing the things that they have been meaning to do but haven’t quite gotten around to.

Currently, Spontaneous allows the user to:

  • Add a Spontaneous activity to their list. This part of the app allows users to enter the thing they’d like to do, e.g. go to MoMA, and the amount of time they expect the activity will take. The activity and amount of time entered by the user are then written to a SharedPreferences file on their Android device for later retrieval by the app.
  • Do a Spontaneous activity from their list. When a user has some time available, this part of the app allows them to select from a dropdown menu the amount of time that they have available, then brings up the activities on their list that fit into the amount of time they have available.
  • View the full list of Spontaneous activities. This view allows the user to see all of the activities on their list. Currently, the activities come up as buttons; when the user hits the button, they are given the opportunity to cross the activity on their list, or leave it on the list.

Here are some screenshots – just click on the thumbnails to see the full image.

There are a few things I plan to do before putting Spontaneous in the Android Market. I want to make the interface more aesthetically pleasing, make navigation a little more straightforward, and figure out how to limit the results in the ‘Do a Spontaneous Activity’ section solely to the activities that fit within the time that a user has available.

Mobile Me(dia) Final Proposal

There are so many fun things that I want to do, that I “sort of” plan to do in the future, but I never get around to doing many of these things. Going to the Cloisters, for example. I keep meaning to do it, but I never get around to it.

These aren’t the kinds of activities that belong in my Tasks or To Do list. These are the kinds of things that I can do spontaneously when I have some time available.

To this end, I’m planning to make a mobile app for the Mobile Me(dia) final that allows me to enter these types of activities and the time needed to do them. When I have some free time available, I can consult this app, input the amount of time I have and allow the phone to suggest what I can do with the time.

Here’s the draft wireframe.


Android SMS app

I’ve been getting cosy with Java, Eclipse and the Android development platform in recent days. After making the Hello World application, I played around with the xml file where the Android layouts reside and made some buttons (with different brightly colored text on each!) that change the screen color when clicked on.

I was glad to learn of the existence of Android intents, which enables applications to pass requests along to other apps to handle tasks. We can leverage intents to get other applications to send emails, SMS, use the camera, etc. as part of our app without writing a new and separate client to do so.

I used an SMS intent to get my app, InstantSMStoFriends, to send pre-written SMS messages to my friends when I click on their names.

Here's the landing page for InstantSMStoFriends. There are four buttons. The user clicks on any of the four buttons to send a text message.

SMS intent has been launched! Here's the screen that appears after I click the "Text Amy" button.

In doing this, I also learned how to take these awesome Android screenshots using DDMS in Eclipse!

ITP411: an SMS-based phone directory

It’s often lamented around ITP that there isn’t a master phone directory that allows students to contact each other easily via phone. Email addresses are usually simple to find, but sometimes email is neither the fastest nor easiest way to reach other students directly.

In the past, students have attempted to create a Google Doc, or master list, to which all students can add their phone numbers, but this solution has proved ineffective in terms of participation because such web-based solutions make the phone numbers both accessible and inaccessible at the same time. When one is using a computer to access the Google Doc, all the numbers are easily accessible in an open-book format, making it easy for someone to sit down and copy all the numbers at the same time. However, such documents prove inaccessible when people are on the go, accessing the web from their phone. It can be difficult and time-consuming to dig up a web-based document, let alone trawl through it, when all you’re looking for is a single phone number.

With this in mind, Noah King and I created an SMS-based ITP phone directory that allows students to search for specific names and phone numbers via text message.

We called our service ITP411 and launched it last night. ITP411 utilizes PHP, MySql and TextMarks, and enables users to do the following:

  • Add their name and phone number to the directory.
  • Search for names in the directory. They can do this by putting the “@” symbol in front of the name they are searching for.
  • Edit their listing in the directory. To edit a listing, users put the “!” symbol in front of the new name.

About 25 out of 230 ITP students have already signed up for ITP411 – not bad for the first 24 hours! We’ll continue to improve the service as we receive feedback.