Gas Up: Gas Prices Crowd Sourced

Despite having had the Android SDK installed on my various computers for more than a year and a half, and purchasing a book on Android development almost as long ago, I haven’t really done anything with the platform. The big thing that’s stopped me from doing anything seriously has been my lack of GUI design skills: on one hand, I’ve had some decent tech demos that communicate with a web site, pull GPS information, and even encrypt data, but all of my demos have had the “Hello World, <App>” UI in common or at most used the Google Maps activity. All in all, nothing special.

Well, I’ve been working with someone on their idea for a social networking application, and I got an itch about two weeks ago to do something more than I had previously done with Android, and go down to business working on the user interface to get a simple app that showcased what I had in mind for app’s user interface. I did it, and it looked ok… It wasn’t great, and was very simplistic, but it got the basic idea across. Since that time, I’ve been thinking about doing something else on my own, hopefully something that could possibly earn me a few dollars here or there, since I’m not working a full time job right now and have spent the better part of a year out of money.

I’ve thought about working on some of my other app ideas, like my lottery number picker, and perhaps I’ll get around to working on them. But for now, I’m headed in another direction, which I hope will get a lot of people working with and for each other. As just about any one will tell you, almost everyone needs gas for their car, and people are always looking for the best gas prices. So why not make an app that simplifies that?

I’m doing precisely that: writing an app that allows people to enter gas prices at their local gas stations, and will display the lowest gas prices within a certain range based on the prices others have entered. Once the project gets a certain number of users, this should help everyone find the lowest gas prices in their area. Right now, I’m primarily focusing on the United States and perhaps Canada as the target audience, but this could potentially be opened to other regions as well. There’s no real limitation on it because I’m not going to be selling the application, though I have already added code that will allow interested parties donate money via PayPal. (Currently I have it disabled because the app will be utterly useless in the initial days.)

What I want and need from the public at large are people willing to 1) be beta testers as I develop the app, 2) to actively use it any input gas prices, and 3) give me ideas and suggestions on how to improve the app.

My focus on development is on privacy and simplicity. The application doesn’t collect any personally identifiable information at all, but it does collect the GPS or cell network location at the time that entries are made, so I suggest that entries are made before leaving the gas station rather than when you get home at night. That is, of course, unless you want people coming to your home in the middle of the light trying to buy gas. There are no memberships or accounts, no passwords, no phone type, name, number or identifiers are collected. Even when I enable the PayPal donation, if any information is collected, it will be by PayPal, and recorded in their system, not mine.

So, what can you do right now? Not a whole lot until I get Gas Up together. While waiting, however, you can send me a note to express your interest.

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