Duncan Wilcock


e-Bikes: No Traffic.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

HeadsUp Drive: New Website!

HeadsUp Drive
HeadsUp Drive - the simple driving app - has a new website - www.headsupdrive.com

Check it out for all you want to know about HeadsUp Drive (and perhaps a bit more.)

There are details on my favourite Windscreen Mount, a video of the app in action, and an explanation of why it is Google Maps, but better.

I made HeadsUp Drive because I found Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, and the rest of the competition I tested to be to cluttered for everyday use.

You can download HeadsUp Drive here now -  I hope you enjoy it & please recommend it to your friends!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Airplay Delay

Inspired by Allan Pike's naming and describing of Schrodinger's Shift Key, I'm writing this is to document my second most disliked change in iOS7 that regrettably has not improved in iOS8.

In a nut:  It used to be a lot quicker to flip music to Airplay speakers.  Prior to iOS7, Airplay used to engage with 2 quick taps.  Now it takes a full 5 taps & swipes to achieve the same result.

Two Taps on iOS6

Remember these two screens?

The airplay button automatically appeared if airplay speakers were available.

1. Tap the Airplay Button
2. Tap the Output you want

The screen dismissed automatically & you were on your way.

Five Taps on iOS7 and iOS8 

These three screenshots depict the five taps & swipe process of getting music to airplay speakers since iOS7.  The steps are:

1. Swipe up to access the Control Center.
2. Look for Airplay button and Tap
3. Tap the Output (Apple TV)
4. Tap Done (and wait...)
5. Tap the top of the screen to dismiss Control Center.

It's substantially slower, and I'm disappointed they didn't improve this on iOS 8.  I have submitted this feedback to Apple through iPhone Feedback, and I encourage you to do the same.

Monday, October 06, 2014

HeadsUp Drive

HeadsUp Drive is the driving companion app that I have been wanting, and have now successfully made for myself.  If you are looking for a simple, minimally distracting app to use on your daily commute or on roads where you don't need a route calculated for you -  I think you will like it.  Want to try it out?   You can download it from the app store for iPhone & iPad.

On first launch, most people notice that it's not very complicated.   That is entirely on purpose.  I have been wanting a simple app that I can just launch as I leave work and not have to do too much to use it.

I've tried  Apple Maps, Google Maps, Waze, and a few others.  My principal complaint with them all is that they take too much fiddling to use them day in & day out.    Often with those apps, they require  adjusting the view so that I can see the sections I need to (the same ones every day) and Waze too often prompts me for input, when all I want to do is just drive home efficiently.

HeadsUp Drive is a simple driving companion, designed to let you see the road ahead.  I think it's the the best, simplest app for everyday commuting.  It shows you Google Maps traffic and a chase-plane view so you can see what's coming, and plan ahead to avoid traffic jams.

There is very little interaction, and that's on purpose, because we should all keep our eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. The view adjusts automatically to show the traffic and roads in your direction of travel.

+ and - to zoom in and out, and a "?" button to remind you why the app is so simple.  It's designed to be simple!

I use it daily on my commute to & from work.  Below is a picture of it in action.  I hope you find it useful too.

Feedback and comments are welcome at: duncan@wilcock.ca

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A Better Bike Computer: My Ideal Biking App & Sensor System

I bike a fair bit around Vancouver. I'm not in to wearing spandex, and would classify myself as somewhere around the casual-commuter biker.   I don't really care about all my speed, cadence, and heart-rate stats, although that could be interesting, and I refrain from thumping the hoods of cars in anger - except maybe if I was actually hit by one.

I am however a bit of a geek - especially when it comes to my iPhone & tracking things in general. Unfortunately my many attempts at using XCode to write iPhone apps have not been very successful, and I find myself being able to conceive of what I want, but unable to implement it.  (Update:  I spoke too soon, and have now built an app that is on the app store - HeadsUp Drive)

Since I believe that ideas themselves are not worth nearly as much as good execution, I've decided to offer these ideas to the inter-tubes and hope that if anyone finds them of benefit, they let me know (duncan@wilcock.ca) - especially if this biking device & app I want to buy ever gets made - by you or anyone else.

With that pre-amble, I'm going to launch into what I'm looking for.

A Better Bike Computer

Principally, I'm looking for a better bike computer.  A hardware device that is quite simplistic.  It can look similar to the $30 one I bought from MEC.  In fact, it should cost much more than between $50 to $100, because anything that I am going to strap to my handlebars can't be worth much more than that or it becomes more & more of a problem when I wipe-out and it gets damaged, or forget to remove it when I nip into a coffee shop and it gets nicked.

So that's price.  I'll leave promotion to you, place is clearly where I live (Canada please!) and now on to product.   (Four Ps of marketing reference for all you geeky business-school types)

Interactionless Tracking

The key attribute I'm looking for is Bluetooth LE connectivity to talk to my iPhone.   For inspiration, I'm looking at Automatic - a simple device that plugs into your car,  and an app that doesn't need launching, but that tracks your driving for you whenever you start driving.   It has other features and looks like a very cool product that I would already have if it were available in Canada.

That's it in a nut.  I don't want to have my iPhone attached to my handlebars, it's too expensive to put there, and more importantly - too much trouble to do every time.  Even launching an app is too much trouble to do every time - I just want to get on my bike and get to work, or wherever else I'm going.   But if the data was collected automatically - how far I went, what routes, and how fast.  It would be fun to sit down in the evening and look at it from time to time.

I think this is the key for tracking apps.  I'm interested to record & look at the information, but as soon as it becomes an additional thing to remember to do, the likely hood of me (or many others) using it regularly falls off a cliff.

Yes - I've seen the Wahoo Fitness Computer, but it gets the solution backwards, to my taste.  The data is collected by your phone first, and this Wahoo display is more like a second screen for the app, and I believe the app has to be actually running.    I'm saying that the bike-computer should record the information and be the principal interface with the sensors, and the app should connect to the bike computer automatically (Automatic uses iBeacon for this) & store the information long term for later review.  For the record - I don't care about wireless sensors (wired are cheaper & in general more reliable), and reliability is key.  If it adds a bit of weight or wind resistance - so be it, I'll get more exercise.

Bonus - Power my Lights

 A great added value or upsell feature for the commuter like me, would be some extra battery capacity and wiring to power my bike lights.    Then I would only have one thing to remove from my bike, take inside and charge up from time to time.

So that's it - my wishlist, the product I would like to buy, but have not yet seen on the market.  If you like the idea, and want to make it real - please do so.  I'd be more than happy to help.  I've got circuit-card layout skills, basic app making skills, and marketing skills - here's an example:  www.headsupdrive.com