[aprssig] Generic Smartphone APRS aps!

Keith VE7GDH ve7gdh at rac.ca
Tue Jan 25 01:38:40 EST 2011

Bob WB4APR wrote...

> To all aspiring smart-phone authors  I offer the following thoughts:
> 1) Hopefully someone has already written a standard APRS web page that will
> show any map of local activity as needed on any device. So no one needs to
> develop map stuff for each new toy. If such a web source does not exist
> then we need one person writing the killer site.

Most smart phones have maps built in, or at least retrieve the mapping data
in near real time as needed. The iPhone can display a street map or a "satellite"
view or a hybrid with streets overlaid on the satellite view.
> 2) Instead, for each new wireless toy, concentrate on APRS in the following
> priority order. Every electronic device that might be in the hand of a ham
> radio operator should be able to do these things in this order of priority.

I'm using (mostly) OpenAPRS on an iPhone. While improvements can be
made, it is already pretty good.
> a) TXing current status (& position if the device knows it)

The iPhone has A GPS built in. If the sky isn't visible, it still knows
roughly where it is if there is cellular coverage, but it can be off quite
a bit for perhaps some tens of seconds. Outside or near a window, it is
very accurate. If you are indoors, you can always manually enter a
position, but the GPS has always worked for me.

> b) Includes monitoring FREQuency if available

Like any other APRS client or device, just enter it in the beacon comment.

> c) Receiving any APRS messages
> d) Sending APRS messages

It can send and receive APRS messages.

> e) Sending OBJECTS (based on current position)

It can generate multiple objects.

> f) Text Display of other nearby APRS-IS stations:

I can search for VE7* and get a list of most the stations around
me, but there are some VA7s and W7s etc. It's easier to just look 
at the map to see the closest stations. 

>   * Their STATUS text (or position text)

I have to tap on the station (touch screen) to see their status text.

>   * Their contact frequency

It would be visible after I tap on the station, if they had entered it.

>   * Their symbol

Visible on the map or if I tap on the station. I find it no more onerous
to view the map or tap on a station than to scroll a text list.

>   * Their direction and distance

That isn't shown, but it would be a nice addition. However, I can see
on the map where they are... and where I am. 

>   * Their PHG, or WX or CSE/SPD

Visible if I tap on the station.

>   * Their Path

The path isn't shown. It would be nice to know, but because I'm not
trying to get anything to them on RF, it isn't really important.

> Notice, that NO map is required.  The path may or may not show much of
> value, since only the shortest path to the nearest IGate is captured by the
> APRS-IS, but it is a start.

Sorry. Maps included. For everywhere. Street maps or a gorgeous satellite view.

> All of the above to me is how APRS fulfills its primary objective of
> facilitating ham radio communications. For the purpose of communications,
> the map is just not that important, yet is the biggest 95% of most APRS
> clients. Authors can waste a few years of their life on developing a new
> mapping interface, or they can just settle for the above and be done in a
> week.

Hmmm... the map is quite important to me. While I could see distance and
bearing on e.g. a HamHUD, on a map I can see where they are, and have
a pretty good idea of distance, and see where other stations are in relation
to them, and see where repeater objects and IRLP nodes are. I suspect that
integrating a map that is already included on the device is one of the smallest
parts of the project.

> Good luck!

Well, good luck in getting authors to drop map support. With the mapping 
available on the phone, displaying a text list only would be a bit of a step
backwards, and I would suspect most users would look for a different app
to use.

73 es cul - Keith VE7GDH
"I may be lost, but I know exactly where I am!"

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