Monday, 7 May 2012

7 days of Android - Day 1

The idea of 7 days of Android is to bring you the best outdoors software for your Android smartphone, saving you the hassle of trawling through endless apps on the Play Store.

The first piece of software is Angexis Outdoor - an automated SOS app that alerts base when either; you trigger an SOS alert, or when you have been stationary for too long. Essentially turning your phone into a SPOT GPS messenger.....for free!

Options screen
How does it work: So what actually happens? Well an alert contains my location (using the phone's GPS), and my phone number, as well as a short message saying I may be in trouble. The only drawback of this system is the alert is sent to an email address NOT as an SMS (see later). There are 3 ways alerts are sent;

Manual Alert: I trigger a manual alarm if I am injured and in signal range.

Immobility Alert: I injure myself, am unconscious and not moving. The phone alarms me that an alert is about to be sent, if I don't respond to the alarm the alerts are sent.

Web alert: If I am out of signal range for too long an alert is sent by the Angexis website, saying my last known location and that I haven't checked in.

The timings for each alert can be set by the user (see below), so setting the out of server reach field higher is advised.

Menu screen
How to use: The app is remarkably easy to use. You turn the app on and connect your Google Account. You then allocate contacts from your phone book to be your emergency points of contact (not sure how many you can have but I have 4...).  You then set the timings for your alerts (see screenshot), mine are currently set at 60 minutes, meaning after 60 minutes of no movement or no connection my points of contact will be notified (the server connection one should be higher than it is). Once you are ready to start your trip click "start". There is then a small icon in the task bar indicating that "Angexis is watching over you". And that's it, do you trip, if something bad happens then alerts will be sent. An example of an alert can be seen below. The system uses the phones mobile internet and GPS signals to gain a location and email it through the Google account you set up earlier.

An alert from Angexis
Limitations: Ok so there is a free, effective, SOS tool, that can really add an extra layer of security to any trip...what's the catch. Well unfortunately there are a couple. Firstly the system uses emails as an alert means, I don't know about you guys but my email is not always to hand, and I don't sit in front of it all day. SMS would be a much more effective tool, and would also avoid the phone having to have the Mobile Internet on the whole time. This would also alleviate the drain on battery resulting from the mobile internet being on. Whilst the app seems to manage GPS use intelligently (turning it on and off after each fix), it doesn't seem to do the same with the Mobile Internet. SMS would be a much more effective way of sending the alerts; people always have their phones near them, but rarely on their emails.

Conclusion: I like it, it's free, it works, it's not buggy and unreliable, it IS good. It could be better if it utilised SMS meaning the phone didn't need mobile internet, by all means use mobile internet to connect to the server every so often (for the web alert), but not the primary means of alerting contacts. Well worth noting this is only the BETA version at the moment and has only around 500 downloads, so it is still improving. I will be offering my feedback to the app developers, who have done a great job building a free safety tool that will help turn a smartphone into a SPOT unit. Great job guys!

Other information:

Angexis Outdoor is available for free in the Play Store:

Website is here with a bit of information:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris,

    Glad you liked that app... and hope you'll like it even more now that alerts can be sent by SMS.

    Just one comment though : even with the SMS feature now, the app still needs (and will need) the mobile network.

    The reason is that it is necessary for the app to regularly tell the web site the user's position. If it did not work this way, it would not be very reliable because if an accident occurred out of mobile coverage, it would not be able to send any alert any longer, and the web site would have no clue where the user could well be...

    The drawback is the impact on the battery of course...

    Hope this clarifies !