Strava Improves User Safety with New Beacon Feature

Strava Improves User Safety with New Beacon Feature

Aug 4, 2016

Strava, the fitness social network which allows folks to make and maintain connections while working on being healthier, is adding an interesting feature which should allow its users to feel safer.

Named “Beacon,” the new feature is available for Premium subscribers, and allows users to share location information with select contacts.

Directly from the informational:

Beacon is an easy-to-use in-app experience. Athletes can access and set up this feature via the new Beacon icon on the record screen. After enabling Beacon, athletes can select up to three safety contacts, who will receive a text message with a unique URL when the activity begins. Safety contacts can click the URL to track the athlete on a map in real time, as well as view the athlete’s remaining battery power. Contacts do not need a Strava account to view real-time information. Beacon also saves contact settings, allowing athletes to use Beacon during future activities with one tap.

Strava Product Chief Aaron Forth talks about the value of the new feature. “Every athlete wants to be safe, and we felt we could help,” he says. “We’re so proud to introduce Beacon, not only because our community and their loved ones have been asking for it, but also because Beacon adds a new dimension to Strava Premium. Whether you are training regularly, commuting back and forth, or heading out for the occasional workout, all types of athletes will find Beacon valuable.”

Strava remains free on Google Play; the premium subset can be unlocked from within.

strava Review Review

Oct 10, 2012

What is Why, it’s an incredibly powerful tool for remotely accessing an Android device, one that provides useful features, but at the cost of battery life. A lot of it.

Start by downloading the app and running it on the phone, setting up a unique passphrase required to access the phone. The app can be remotely accessed from any web browser in one of three ways: by connecting a Google account, connecting a Facebook account, or by scanning a custom QR code on the phone itself in order to authorize the app. Then, the five features can be accessed. Text messages can be read from the web and responded to. New messages can be sent, and it’s possible to export lists of messages to a computer.

Need to remotely access contacts that are on the device? That’s posssible with Pictures can be uploaded to the app and made accessible. Granted, these are both functions that other apps like Dropbox have also done, and have done them very well, so this may not serve much use.

Now come the fun things. Location allows for a device to be found based on its current map location. It can also be tracked to see where it is going. Need it to make an alarm sound? That’s possible through the map function as well. Great for finding that phone. It may serve as a rudimentary anti-theft feature, though turning off is pretty simple. It also would make for a very poor spying utility.

Also, there’s a Spy-Cam feature, which opens the camera and takes photos every 2.5 seconds. Flash can be enabled, and torch mode for illuminating what’s around. Note that the photos do seem distorted on a 16:9 device, there’s no actual video capture, and only the front-facing camera can be used with it.

The downside to as a tool for regularly checking SMS from the web is quite simple: it uses up too much battery life. I noticed at least a 15% drain in about 45 minutes on the Galaxy S III; not something for leaving around with the phone unplugged. As well, it sent about 35 MB of data over cellular at the time; if on a tiered data plan with wifi unavailable, that could be problematic. A low-power mode for just sending/receiving messages would be a great addition! Until then, this app serves as an interesting diversion, but maybe not quite the useful tool that it really could be.

NavigationPro+ Review

NavigationPro+ Review

Oct 4, 2012

Navigation on smartphones is no longer a novelty. I have long since forgone standalone GPS units for the simplicity of Android-powered solutions. Having my navigation unit on my Android-powered device just makes sense.

At the root of it all, Google Maps is the software that sets the pace.

NavigationPro+ from jWhiteRabbit Software works to be the ultimate accessory to the ultimate accessory: a bridge to Google Maps and (as I soon discovered) even more.

I found NavigationPro+ seemed to revel in its simplicity. From the unassuming splashscreen to the minimalist settings screen, I felt NavigationPro+ just seemed tp want to get me out on the road. I appreciated the UI and the easy feel of the menu. And that pretty much brought me to what THE feature: it served to organize my contacts and travel locations.

As soon as I tapped one of the locations or travel destinations, NavPro+ invoked Google Navigation (or whatever program you have installed as default navigation app) with the address pre-populated. Now, where this is useful is for, say, a trip with several stops out of the way, or multiple stops. I found this to be insanely useful as a soccer coach that frequently goes to tournaments. Having the ability to have program to type or search locations in that worked with my navigation program was priceless.

I found the program did well with searching. It gave me the option of pulling info from the web and from the address book on my phone, and it worked well with Google Navigation and TeleNav Scout.

My biggest fuss is that because at least some of the features of NavPro+ are built into some navigation programs, some folks will find a reason to forgo it, especially if device never is an issue. Still, it is a great companion app, particularly for folks like me who want to keep navigation apps clear of one-time data. For the truly curious, there is a free trial that drops some premium features like cloud backup and which has ads.

For pre-planning trips (especially with Google Maps), it is a viable add-on.

Google Maps for Android Updated – Location History and more…

Google Maps for Android Updated – Location History and more…

Apr 5, 2011

Google Maps for Android received another “Latitude” update bringing it to version 5.3. This updated version brings users a “Location History Dashboard,” “Home Check-In,” and personalized aspects to the places rating system. These social centric features seem to be dominating the Google Maps updates as of late, which I find a tad disappointing. Especially when I’m waiting on features such as multiple destination routing, speed limits, and other “travel” related items. Am I asking too much? Probably.