Monday, March 24, 2008

What's (not) on my Blackjack: FindMe

I first heard about FindMe on one of the popular Windows Mobile blog sites (sorry, forget which one).  It's a free applet from Electric Pocket that runs on your phone and lets you tag your location to specific cell tower IDs.  Then, it will ping a central server and/or Facebook to let the world know where you are.  It promised to be a great option for people like me whose phone doesn't have built-in GPS. 

Unfortunately, stability was not one of the main features of this app, so I was forced to remove it from my phone.  Besides just crashing all the time, I found that my battery life was significantly lower whenever I had the app running.  Another thing that really annoyed me about the Facebook integration was that the locations didn't flow like a sentence when pushed to your status field.  For example, rather than using your tag called "work" and saying "Joe is at work", it would just say: "Joe: Work".  Note it always capitalizes the first letter of your tags so you can't even "fake" a sentence by calling your tag "is at work" - it'd come out as "Joe: Is at work". 

Here's my wishlist for a future version:

  1. Let me customize the message for when I'm "at an unknown location"
  2. When I leave a "known" location, display "has left XYZ" (where XYZ was the location) for some period of time.  For example, if I leave work and I'm driving home, my wife might want to know that I've left work, but it's not realistic for me to program in tags for all the celltowers between home and work.
  3. Provide an API to allow me to get a list of my locations over time
  4. Provide a widget to show my location mashed up on the map of my choice on my website
  5. Notify me when one of my friends is near me, especially if I'm not in a normal location like "work"
  6. Allow me to let my friends get notified whenever I arrive or leave certain locations
  7. Build in a few "standard" locations like "home", "work", "school"
  8. Twitter integration

So, if Electric Pocket reads this and issues an updated version with some bugfixes, drop me a line and I'll check it out again.

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