An update on AroundMe

By @jmwai (James Mwai)

For the last several months, I have been working on several new versions of AroundMe app for Nokia devices. This being a part time project, it takes quite long to come up with something worth writing home about.

I have had many people ask me about the status of AroundMe so I thought it would be good to write about it.

The first version of AroundMe has been quite successful achieving over 180,000 downloads. To some people/companies, that figure could be like a grain of sand in the ocean. But to an indie developer who just got started the other day, that means I can at least do something people find useful. And that’s all that matters.

Having said that, I am proud to add that version 2 of AroundMe for Symbian phones has passed QA in ovi store and is now available for download.

Version 2 of AroundMe was completely rewritten from scratch using QML and Qt Mobility API’s.

You will definitely like the user experience if you have a Symbian/Meego phone.

The new version introduces a Favorites feature which allows you to save places you like on your phone. You don’t even have to go online to access your favorite places since they are saved on the phone using the offline API. You can at any point know how far you are from your saved places and if possible plot a route on the map to that place. The number of places you can save is only limited by your phones memory.

Previous features such as distance between places, Street View, maps, routes, directions and dialing have been improved and the app is now pretty faster and even more enjoyable to use.

This Demo was done using the Qt simulator but the app more or less runs the same way on a mobile device.

This update comes with a lot of bug fixes to the initial release which I will not go into details here.

The new release comes in two versions; a lite version and a pro version. If you go with the lite version, which is labeled AroundMe v2 on Ovi store, you will occasionally see some unobtrusive ads on the app but the Pro version is crisp clean. The Pro version is labeled AroundMe Pro.

AroundMe v2 was written from scratch in a different environment than the initial release. This new version utilizes Qt Mobility API’s for geolocation unlike version 1 which used Nokia’s platform Services API. The UI in the version 2 is written in QML while the first version was primarily done in JavaScript. So version 2 is not just an update to version 1 it’s like a complete overhaul.

However, whereas version 2 is basically much more improved, it may prompt the user to download a large binary of Qt libraries which are required before installation if they are not already installed on the device. This is just a few MBs of Qt files and it affects users running earlier versions of Symbian devices. That is mostly devices running versions’s of Symbian older than S60. And since most users don’t like downloading large files using their phones, I decided to update the initial version with another version 1.2 as a bug fix and ui improvements release instead of dropping support for old devices altogether. So there are two versions of AroundMe in the store but they are clearly labeled to avoid any confusion. The two could probably merge in a future revision.

In both new releases, 1.2 and 2.0, users have a chance to upgrade to the pro version of AroundMe which costs approximately 1USD. I say approximately because I realized that varies, sometimes greatly, depending on a user’s country and mode of payment. There are two modes of payment on Ovi store; operator billing and credit card payments.

Ovi store alerts users using Symbian^3 devices once an app gets updated so I hope to have version 1 user’s upgrade to a new version smoothly.

I am very excited about this new release and I hope it will even be more successful than the previous version.

Nokia has promised to ship 150 million more Symbian devices. It’s also expected that Qt will be powering Nokia’s next billion users meaning the target audience for Qt is growing and will get larger as we go along.

So in short, AroundMe for Nokia devices has been update with versions 1.2, 2 and Pro for Symbian devices while s40 and N9/meego versions are in the works.

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