As many of you know we released our first app recently, Here You Go for Windows Phone 8. As I write this, we’re up to about 70 downloads and a half dozen reviews. Of course we’re hoping for even more of both, and that’s where customer feedback comes in. There’s not much to go on just yet, but two customers have provided comments that tie in with our future app update plans.
The Windows Phone store doesn’t show all of the reviews just yet, so I’m pulling the quotes below from the Dev Center page. I’ll address the feedback by explaining our development decisions so far and what/why we intend to do next.
First, a rehash of the app’s purpose for those unfamiliar. Here You Go is intended as a location-sharing app with an emphasis on routing. The essential idea is that the user will share their location with a recipient, and the recipient will receive an email of links that are designed to launch a routing app on their device. One important goal was to support any platform and form factor, as I’ll explain later. Now to the feedback.
App is useful for people who need to remember where they were for appointments and further meetings, or maybe for sharing where a cafe is for example.
That’s an interesting comment and is actually an extension of the intended use. The original goal was to focus on sharing the location with others, but Michael raises a good point: it can of course be used to mark locations for future routing by the user. We’ll have to give some thought to how we can better support that. It might make more sense in such a case to save the location information as a Task instead of using email. We had intended to add Task support anyway.
Michael says further:
However lacks functionality in share method (email only)…
Yep, that’s a sticking point. His assessment is supported by another customer, Ilia:
No SMS support? Emmm.
Michael and Ilia, we hear you! Email was definitely not our preferred mode of sharing. The decision to focus on email was driven by the following factors:
- Limited messaging options. SMS (text) would be ideal, but its message size is limited. To accomplish what we’re trying to do, we needed support for far more characters than a single SMS message can offer… and we didn’t want to spam recipients with numerous messages per incident.
- The desire to support multiple platforms. While the app itself currently only runs on Windows Phone 8, we didn’t want to limit the recipients to just that platform. It’s important to us that the output be useful to anyone, on any operating system, any device. Since there’s no easy way to determine the recipient’s platform, we elected to send a message that has links for all.
- Microsoft’s messaging approach. Microsoft has chosen to separate the various Windows Phone messaging services, and make their interfaces modal. This means that each one needs to be launched separately, and require direct user input for each service. This reduces the ability of programmers to integrate and automate messaging. Microsoft had good intentions for their requirements, but they can be an impediment for developers and even users.
That said, we think we have a useful solution: Microsoft Azure Mobile Services. We’re going to try hosting the output on a website, and sending an SMS to the recipient with a single link to their full message. Ideally, we would even be able to detect the recipient’s device type and tailor the ultimate message accordingly. We’ll see!
Michael had a final comment regarding our choice of an app name:
…has a misleading name, linking to HERE which a quality app should not need to do.
We’re going to disagree with you there, Michael. Our intention was to focus on Nokia’s HERE Maps as the primary routing solution, and believe that there’s no harm in using the name to show that relationship. In addition, there are several similar apps with “here” in their name (“Here I Am” was our original name, but was already taken). Finally, we included a disclaimer in the app to explain that we’re not actually affiliated with HERE, and use mixed case to further drive the point home. However, we can make that even more clear by including that disclaimer on the app’s store page, so thanks for prodding us there!
So far we have not seen any feedback via email, so I want to encourage customers to take advantage of that channel to open up a dialog with us. The email address is included in the app. And please provide details with your rating!
Thanks to those who have taken the time to download and use Here You Go. If you haven’t tried it yet, get it here. It’s free!