Monday, December 10, 2007

First shots at an android application

I've decided to record my exploits with Android platform in blog form, hopefully giving back a bit to the community and getting feedback at the same time. I've actually already completed my first major Android application, and have a few classes I need to clean an publish. I still have plenty I want to accomplish with it as well, so it's best to get the blog started, and catch up the code, so to speak.

So, the goal - Build an Android application that does the following:

1. Display a map, and tracks you using GPS as you move around
2. Display a custom icon/graphic for "you"
3. Display a custom icon/graphic for what you are looking for (more on that in a second)
4. Store the possible sites (and site detail) in the on-board database
5. Click on/Select place on the map to view it's data from said database
6. Call the phone number of the place selected

Reasonable goal, eh?

I've accomplished 1, 2 and 3 using some fake data, so I decided to create a version that tracked all of the local coffee shops (Peets and Starbucks), and used their logos as the site markers. Since I already had done the tracking, IconOverlay classes, and custom images, this seemed like a very reasonable goal.

However, have you ever looked at Starbucks on-line store locator? It's really well done. It's a little slow, but it has built in mapping and route planning to find the closest shops, using the Live Search Maps from Microsoft. I can't complain. Therefore, it's a lot less motivating. I realize I'm not solving world peace here, but it would be nice to do something that has not been solved already, or at least not done so well. (Heck, Starbucks is even looking at the user-agent in the browser request and determining if they should return you a mobile-friendly page, similar to Google and the iPhone. Well played Seattle Siren, well played.)

So, I've decided to do this with just Peets Coffee data. Not that they haven't done a great job with their site, either. They are using Google Maps in their Store Finder, and it's well done overall.

In other words, maybe I should be doing a 7-11 locator or something other than the coffee shops, who seem to be using the collective free-WiFi as a breeding ground for map-mash-up-dudes and dudettes.

For the record, I've got no stake in either company, and frankly, my addiction to caffeine knows no bounds. Next post - the weekend work to bring the GPS tracking, Maps, and IconOverlay classes into being.