I just posted the latest beta release, #4, of Gas Up to the Android Market. This version should end the crashes that no one’s been mentioning, but that I myself have been experiencing in the emulator as well as on my Nexus One when exiting the app. While this version of the application may not appear to be any different from the last release, it should be more stable, perhaps a bit quicker, and update more frequently. In addition, there’s a new feature for Android 2.0.1 users or above: when you tap a gas station, you will have the ability to use Google Maps or Navigate (depending on which you have installed) to navigate to the tapped gas station. Android 1.6 and 2.0 users will not have this option.

Just a short while ago, I posted beta release 2, quickly followed by 3, of Gas Up. Beta 2 features a few important, if relatively insignificant issues:

  • Tapping an overlay icon no longer produces multiple copies of the same dialog window.
  • And $0.00 gas prices can no longer be submitted to the server.

There were a number of other changes that should improve overall performance significantly as well. Gas Up will now automatically check the server every 30 seconds for new data in the map viewable area. Right now, this is excessive considering the small user base, but as user and data entry numbers increase, this should provide fairly up to date information.

I also got a complaint that Gas Up crashed an EVO phone during the submission process. While I didn’t spot anything in particular that would cause a complete meltdown, I have made a few changes in that area, and will be keeping a close eye on it. Please report any similar occurances!

All of that applied to beta 2. Beta 2 also featured a crash when exiting the app, which I quickly fixed and released beta 3. Or so I hope. If you see a crash on backing out of Gas Up, please either send me feedback via Android Market or file a bug at http://bugsy.badlucksoft.com .

First, I would like to extend a thank you to the 100+ individuals that have downloaded Gas Up, and especially to the 98 or so that still have it installed as of this moment. Thank you for giving it a try, thank you to those that have submitted gas prices, and most especially, thank you for not hunting me down and hurting me… 🙂

Second, I’ve looked at the data that has been submitted so far, and I’ve noticed a couple of things:

Most of the data submitted has not been submitted at a gas station. Not that I’m complaining about your efforts and enthusiasm, but please submit gas prices only when you’re at a gas station! I don’t have any means of automatically determining what gas station you were thinking of when you submitted the price, and with the exception of one individual that submitted a gas price at “Loaf & Jug” in Wyoming, I couldn’t begin to guess where that gas station you meant actually is.

Next, a few of you helped me discover that entries can be successfully submitted with a price of $0.00. This issue has been corrected already, and the fix will appear in the next release which I hope to make in the next 24-48 hours.

Finally, you may or may not have noticed that when you tap on a gas station icon, you get multiple boxes telling you the gas price. This bug too has been squashed, and the fix will be in the next release.

Now, I had hoped to make that second release last evening, but a recurring crash has plagued my efforts all evening. I’m going to spend some time today (Monday June 28th) doing some research, and hopefully I’ll have this issue fixed and out of the way of the next release by the end of the day.

Once again, thank you for giving me a chance!

About 30 seconds ago, I made 1.00 Beta of Gas Up available in the Android Market. Needless to say I’m near to having a heart attack  at the moment, and I hope things go well, and I get a few users. Any and all bugs should be reported at http://bugsy.badlucksoft.com, and feedback can be sent from within the application.

This is a first release, and seems to work well on both my G1 and my Nexus One… Hopefully it works well elsewhere as well.

This is just a quick status update on Gas Up…

The basic application concept is nearing completion, and I’ve managed to get server data to the app and properly processed once there. I’ve still got a lot of server-app communication code to work out and implement, but everything is going pretty smoothly. The biggest headache I’ve had so far was getting a spinner (drop down menu) control to get data from a content provider (database access point more or less) and display it properly. With the exception of one line of code, my code was correct. The problem was that I was under the impression that the spinner needed me to provide a text view which it would use to write data; it turns out it already has one, and I had to specify it in just the right place… Needless to say, that wasted about two days of my development time…

Nonetheless, I’ll post a pair of screen shots here later.

Oh, and I’m having trouble finding people to test the application and be early adopters… Maybe it’s just that I’m not drawing much attention to this site (as in none at the moment), or perhaps it’s that I’m not using the proper marketing methods. I’d hate for this app to get uploaded to the Android Market with absolutely no data but that little amount I can put in myself… The comments and ratings will be brutal, but ultimately I don’t really care about those right now. Once the app is live, and people are hopefully entering data on a regular basis, then I’ll care.

Screen shots as promised. The first is a screen shot from my Nexus One. It’s showing an overlay icon somewhere over Mexico, but that’s beside the point. Th

e screen shot is merely to give an idea of what to expect… 🙂 With this screen shot, you see two of the three tabs that are present in the application; the third one, Donate, is currently disabled despite being complete. (There’s just no point in having the donations system enabled when the application has no data and no users.)

The application starts up on the Stations tab and theoretically will display gas stations within the viewing range of the map. Scroll the map around or zoom in and out, and the results will change. Eventually.

The second tab, Submit Price, is shown in this screen shot from the emulator. (I don’t have that screenshot app on my phone, yet, and I didn’t want to take a screen shot that would include my home address, so I used the emulator and the longitude & latitude of a gas station known to me.) This tab includes everything you need to submit a gas price back to the system. ALWAYS SUBMIT THE PRICE WHILE YOU ARE AT THE GAS STATION! Note the address listed for “Associated Address”. This is submitted to the server as the recorded location of the gas station being entered. Unless you want to share your address with everyone, submit at the gas station! (Admittedly, no one will know it’s your particular address, but I won’t be held responsible for angry and confused gas seekers showing up at your house in the middle of the night.)

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.