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01 September 2008

Locatable roadmap and feature planning

I thought I'd give an update on where I'm going with Locatable and I'd love to hear feedback or suggestions for new functionality. I've just tested a better technique for saving data to the client-side database from the Locatable application which means that the app itself should not need any network connectivity. This is good news as there's a risk of settings becoming unsynchronized between the app and the database the way it's working right now (e.g. if the connection fails). This means rewriting all the preferences-saving and preferences-loading code and won't have any visible effect on the UI. Preferences anyway are about to get more complex. Now that Locatable is tracking per-site preferences (so you can choose to only be prompted once or twice per site to share location), there needs to be a UI to see what sites are currently in the list and manage their individual settings. I'm thinking of it a lot like the cookie manager in Firefox — you should be able to blacklist and whitelist individual sites that you visit, as well as alter their settings individually. So that's the task for Locatable 0.4. The other item on the TODO list requires a schema upgrade, which is why I've been procrastinating on it. It would be good to store the horizontal accuracy of the reading so this can be shared (via the W3C API and redirector). It would be nice to have altitude and vertical accuracy as well, though I'm not sure if these even work (certainly not on an iPod Touch!). Once those are in there, the plan is to submit to the AppStore. If accepted, the only difference between the jailbroken version and the AppStore one will be the inclusion of Relocatable, which of course won't work. (I won't be discontinuing development on it, but it may become its own package in Cydia.) In the meantime I'm open to suggestions on other functionality that should be included. Primarily what I've been hearing about is people using Relocatable to do their own lojack-type apps. I'd really like to get some feedback on using Locatable on your web sites to integrate positioning data, do maps mash-ups, and so on. Private feedback is fine, public is even better (and I'll be happy to put links on the Featured Sites page).

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15 August 2008

Sneak peek

I'm close to a beta release for Locatable, and I'm excited enough about it that I wanted to give a quick preview, from a tech-centric point of view. Locatable is an application and geolocation federation service that let you share your location (GPS coordinates, or any decent facsimile thereof) from your iPhone or iPod Touch to any web site, via the built-in Safari browser. It takes advantage of the new client-side storage capabilities of Safari to allow some very nice anonymity and privacy features -- notably, the user's location is never stored on the server side, with the service at lbs.tralfamadore.com acting as a gateway to storage on the device. There's a lot to say about this and its relationship to similar services such as MyLoki (Skyhook) and FireEagle (Yahoo!). Both of those could be integrated, as can just about any existing location-based service. Anyway, check out the concept and check back for more updates soon.

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