As some of you know, my friend Alec Wojciechowski and I have been busting our humps for the last couple of months (while both of us are attending classes BTW – Alec for his masters, me for VLI) to turn out a prototype of an android app for a startup called Whooz Near.
The premise of this app is something called proximity networking. To break that down, the idea is that this app allows you to discover people you don’t know, who are in your immediate vicinity, while at the same time making yourself also available to be met.
It uses bluetooth to find the people near you, so it is limited by the 20-50ft range of most bluetooth devices. And it transmits the data over bluetooth, only storing it temporarily for display – the app does no permanent storage of the discovered devices or profile data – which helps it to not cross the ‘creepy line’ as Eric Schmidt so aptly put it.
As far as the development of this app goes, I have to say, Bluetooth in android is a fairly weak API, and hardware support is all over the map. We had some Samsung android 2.1 devices where the bluetooth wouldn’t discover anything around it. We were not getting any call-backs to our code after we started bluetooth discovery. Our phones could see those phones and make a connection, but not the other way around. And when the connection was made, it was flaky.
So, let that be a lesson to you, don’t buy cheap samsung phones stuck at android 2.1.
I don’t know exactly when this app will be available in the app store. That is up to the people at Whooz Near when they think it has been tested throughly enough. I’ll update this post with a market link when it comes out.
So, on to the picture gallery. Below you will see the Local Profile editing screen, and then the nearby screen without anyone near-by (because I didn’t get a chance to grab a screenshot last time Alec and I were working together). Eventually I’ll add some more pictures to show when two devices are connected – but the empty “Near By” screen will show a list with the name and tag-line (or status if you prefer) and a small picture. Then if you touch that, you get a screen that looks almost just like the Local Profile screen, but shows their extended profile information.
Watch for it in the next few weeks on the Android Marketplace, and then let WhoozNear know what you think.