Sunday, January 22, 2012
Galaxy projects, applications - report
Thanks to the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablets donation I was able to start several projects with our students at CTU FEE. I would like to review our applications, give the status report and explain further plans in this blog.
I used the tablets to support the students in two different directions: degree thesis projects and education.
The 3C is a home for 20 PhD, master and bachelor students. They all work on various aspects of cloud computing and SaaS application design with the emphasis on the mobile applications. The work is organized as described in the "How to organize web project". Here are the major mobile applications:
Weather forecast widget project implements Android widget displaying the weather forecast using the ALADIN model for the Czech Republic. It installs on Galaxy tablets and Android phones too. The presentation layer development still continues. The application is fully functional available through the Android market and gaining popularity.
Browser Guru is an application helping the user to select the best browser for current type of connectivity. For example for the 2G, 3G/4G connectivity the Opera browser is faster than the default browser. On the other hand when on Wi-Fi the default browser provides higher comfort. Browser Guru is also compatible with the voice search (Most browsers are not). It can be used for tablets as well as for phones. Application is fully functional and available through the Android market. It has almost 24 000 downloads up today.
Menzy CVUT application has been designed for students of Czech universities. Currently it lists the CTU students canteens everyday menus. It enables students to quickly find the menu of choice and rate the foods. The application has more than 700 downloads and more than 500 active users. Application itself is built as a platform allowing to import other canteens menus. Get in touch with us, if interested. Application is fully functional available through the Android Market.
Cloudcardz is an application aiming at business cards exchange. While networking, at conferences or events we exchange business cards. They are then piling on our desks and we do not remember what was the occasion, whom we met and and how to quickly convert them to a computer. This application allows quick exchange of business card data using NFC or QR code. The app contains only pointers to personal data. Change of a phone number or other data is automatically updated. Some more development is required. The pilot will be available soon.
We started developing a simple helpdesk application more or less as an educational demo. It allows sending a request ticket to an operator from a mobile device including photo and the location information. After sending the request to the helpdesk, the application creates a ticket, which is handled by an operator. The conversation continues between the operator and the user till the ticket is resolved. We continue working on it and it will be finished in May 2012. It is more interesting, that we have derived other two apps from the original code.
The helpdesk functionality will serve to businesses getting orders through a job search portal. The business to customer interaction is very similar to helpdesk. Typically, craftsman communicate with customers after working hours when they get to the office. This application will enable them to give offers to customers by smartphone. This app is also scheduled to be piloted with customers in the May framework.
The next app derived from helpdesk code was competing in this year eClub. It is focusing on supporting sales. The scenario: shoppers in the store download an app by scanning QR code. After garment selection the shopper takes a photo and saves it on a store portal. Information about the picture will be send to customer's friends to comment. This application is in the development and the first working pilot version is planned for end of May.
czSMS is an application enabling sending free SMS messages using the free Internet SMS gateways. The app is developed for multiple mobile platforms using the Phonegap platform. It is in the early development stage. All the technological and supporting issues has been solved and the design is beginning with the UI and wireframe design. The pilot application will be available end of May 2012.
Total of 60 students took the Internet Application Development course. The goal of the course was to teach students to develop web Android applications. Students learned how to use the standard Eclipse IDE and the Google plugins for Android and App Engine. They were organized in teams of four persons. Each team came with their own app proposal. All together the class was working on fourteen applications. Teams had to maintain a web page for the project and track the development. I have organized two demo classes where students were presenting their progress to get class comments and suggestions. The semester was concluded with working pilot applications.
Three months are too short to create full featured app, nevertheless I expect, that some of the students will further working to finish their projects.
What are the benefits of the development? Three applications already on the Android market and several other applications are scheduled for May. The current activity and the mobile applications development created awareness and high visibility at our university and in media too. I am hoping that the development experience will attract more students to pursue their projects. Most of the university staff is aware of the development too and became interested. Some of the department want to join us. Currently we are designing new course for students in the first year of study.
There are also things we need to improve. The biggest weakness is the graphical quality. Great graphics and usability are very important for the customer perception. We are actively looking for a partner who will help us. We are ready to support these groups with tablets to enable their creative powers and motivate them to cooperate.
It is quite difficult to develop a new application. Many different skills are required and it will still take us some time to develop really successful with hundred thousands of downloads and clear benefit for users. The weather widget is probably the most advanced, also the Menzy and Browser Guru apps are finding users. There are many other applications in the development with the targeted date end of May. Stay in touch and help us improve.