[aprssig] Andorid APRS

Jeffrey Johnson ortelius at gmail.com
Wed Dec 23 20:06:45 CST 2009

> Exactly.   How likely are networks like ATT and T-Mobile to sell you a SIM
> for a phone that not "theirs"?   [I'm well aware that this issue of carrier
> "lock-in" is far less of an issue outside the U.S.]

The telcos could care less about what 'phone' you use, they care about
APRU as in Average Revenue Per User. So, if you are willing to pay
full (unsubsidized) price for some gee-whiz phone and then pay them to
use their network with said phone, they are happy to let you do it ...
these are pre-paid plans, which usually cost more than a plan with a
subsidized device.

> And what do you do about CDMA networks that don't use SIMs???  Beg for mercy
> from Verizon or Sprint?

Not sure what you are getting at? These telcos sell android phones,
you use the app store to download apps and use them and then use the
network, send your check to the telco every month. Whats the issue

> I have found the quality and accuracy of the OpenStreetMap maps to be rather
> underwhelming.

OpenStreetMap in the US is based on TIGER from the US Census. If you
don't like the quality, you are welcome to fix it.

> Is there anything that can/could be loaded locally onto such a device with a
> comprehensiveness similar to MapPoint, Delorme Street Atlas, or the NavTeq
> database used by Garmin GPSs that would provide an up-to-date seamless
> street-level map of all of North America?

Yes, its called google maps, or bing (microsoft) maps or yahoo maps
which are by and large based on NavTeq or teleatlas.

> I.e.  produce an experience similar to UIview with Precision Mapping  or
> APRSpoint using MS MapPoint running on a laptop, without having to endlessly
> download additional snippets of maps as you travel across the US or Canada?
> [All three of these mapping systems cover all of North America down to
> street level with numerous other outline overlays (parks, hydrographic
> features, campuses, malls, National Parks, military bases, etc) and millions
> of point objects of interest in a total file size of about 1.5 GB.]

I find the user experience in both of these programs to be inferior to
tile based map services and applications, and I use mapping apps all
day long every day for a living.

>>> a)   You are potentially going to run up huge airtime charges for data
>>> acccess.  Most so-called unlimited data plans have monthly bandwidth
>>> caps;
>>> i.e. download quotas of "x" megabytes.  [Currently the iPhone users
>>> tethered
>>> to ATT's network are screaming and howling about ATT's plan to do away
>>> with
>>> unlimited data access and start charging by the amount of monthly
>>> bandwidth
>>> used. ]
>> Monthly bandwidth caps on Verizon and other carriers are measured in
>> the Gigabytes of data which constrains usage like video and audio
>> streaming. AT&T currently does not have bandwidth caps, but is
>> considering going to tiered pricing.
> It seems to me to be obvious that as the number of data-gobbling non-voice
> gadgets (especially Web browsers) on wireless networks explodes (as ATT is
> now experiencing with the hordes of iPhone users),  that flat rate (or quasi
> flat rate) plans will go by the wayside.

So? Then download the maps to your phone when you are at home on your
home internet connection.

> Further, when devices have "real" web browsers that can view normal "uncut"
> webpages like a normal PC (such as the iPhone can), even gigabytes of
> bandwidth/month go fast,  if you do much web browsing at all, given the
> ever-increasing bloat of inefficiently-coded web pages loaded with
> meaningless graphics, Java applets, Flash animations,etc.

What does this have to do with APRS?

>> In any case, maps are actually
>> quite small in size. unless you want to cache a huge chunk of maps
>> down to your phone in which case, you could use an android based
>> device like the Archos 5 Internet tablet
>> http://www.archos.com/products/imt/archos_5it/index.html?country=ru&lang=en
>> which is WiFi only and doesnt even work on the cell phone networks.
> Hmm....   Looks conceptually somewhat like an iPod Touch; i.e. an iPhone
> without the phone.     Tying a device like this to an APRS radio would be
> essentially the same as tying any other laptop or netbook to an APRS radio,
> except that you would be re-inventing the wheel creating an APRS app for a
> different operating system.     I was assuming the whole point of an
> Android-enabled application WAS to use it on a cell-phone-type device that
> could use wireless networks with longer range than WiFi.

What I am saying is that your all your arguments against an android
based APRS app based on dislike of telcos and cell phone plans are
irrelevant because there are several android based devices out there
which NOT telephones, but do the exact same thing except get on the
net over a 3G connection.

>>> b)     Once again, if you are out of the cell carrier's coverage foot
>>> print
>>> -- NO MAPS!!
>> There are a plethora of apps for the iPhone that allow you to download
>> maps to your phone while on a WiFi connection and then use them out in
>> the field without an internet connection. Many/Most of these are based
>> on the Route-Me library which can be used with various map tile
>> sources including OpenStreetMap, Bing (Microsoft Maps), Yahoo Maps and
>> even google maps if you don't mind violating the Terms of Service. I
>> have also developed several apps based on this library and have been
>> able to use my phone with GPS AND Maps in the absence of cell coverage
>> or WiFi.
> Again, how much space would it take to cache/store/archive (whatever you
> want to call it) coverage of the entire US?   Would most devices have the
> local storage available to do this?      [I ask since I was shocked to see
> the immense size of the full US database for the U.S Government "Tiger
> Files" map database for example, compared to commercial products like Street
> Atlas, MapPoint, etc.]
> Note that I am thinking in terms of smoothly-zoomable/scrollable
> vector-based mapping, not tiled arrays of bitmaps that have to be stored
> repeatedly at different resolutions.

In any case, none of this matters. What we are talking about building
is a APRS app for android that works similar to iBCNU http://ibcnu.us/
on iPhone, but also allows you to interface with your radio over
Bluetooth using a bluetooth to serial dongle. All that said, I fail to
see what your point is ... if you are happy to use your garmin device,
by all means, keep using it.


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