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Massive Geo Update Now In Preview

We’ve just launched a host of new functionality for location and other related geo areas.
This includes adding heading/direction information to geo data, reverse geocoding address support for Location fields in Forms, and a new option to geo-stamp images captured with the app.
Plus we’ve also added new System (built-in) data sources for Active Users and Published Docs.

These changes are available on our Appenate Mobile Client (AMC) app as a preview ahead of rollout to all customer apps next week.
The AMC Android app is available right now for you to test with, with the IOS version expected to be approved by Apple later this week.

Geo Data Now Includes Heading, Altitude and Accuracy Info
We’ve upgraded our geo data fields to support more information when its available from the device.
This extra info is stored in the Location field, and is also available through new formula functions:

  • HEADING() provides the true north based direction that the device was facing at the time of GPS capture.
  • ALTITUDE() gives the number of meters above sea level that the device GPS detected it to be at.
  • ACCURACY() is the device provided accuracy rating for the geo data, measured in meters.

We expect this extra information will open up a range of new geo-based scenarios for our customers.

Lookup Addresses on Location Fields
We’ve added a new “Enable Address” option to the Location field in the Form designer.
Turning this option on will allow the user to find address information for a given location point, through a new “Find Address” button on the app.
Screen Shot 31 Aug 2015 1.48.14 pm Screen Shot 31 Aug 2015 1.48.19 pm

The app uses standard Android and iOS geocoding functionality to perform a reverse geocode lookup of the location coordinates.
Addresses are returned in data fields that correspond to the global OASIS address standard.
You can access these data fields through new formula functions (OASIS field equivalents in brackets):

  • STREETNUM() – The street number (“sub_thoroughfare” in OASIS)
  • STREET() – The street name (“thoroughfare” in OASIS)
  • CITY() – The city or locality (“locality” in OASIS)
  • COUNTY() – The county or district (“sub_admin_area” in OASIS)
  • STATE() – The state or province (“admin_area” in OASIS)
  • COUNTRY() – The ISO country code (“country” in OASIS)
  • POSTCODE() – The postal / zip code (“postal_code” in OASIS)

Having formula support means that you can dynamically assign address data into other form fields via the Dynamic Value option.
Use this for cases where you need to allow the user to edit the address found.
You can also use the address data in your data templates and anywhere else formula functions are supported.

Specify Map Type On Location Fields And User Interactions
There’s now a new “Display Map Type” option on the Location field in the Form designer which lets you specify the style of map to display when the user selects or views a location through the field.
We’ve also added parameter support for specifying the map type onto the “Open Address in Map” and “Open Coordinates on Map” user interaction type.
Simply add a “|” character followed by the type of map (Satellite, Hybrid or Standard).

Geo Metadata Can Now Be Captured On Image Fields
Photo images have the ability to embed GPS information into the file through the EXIF standard.
We’ve now added support for reading this EXIF data from existing images, as well as stamping GPS data into images captured with the app.
You can turn this on through the new “Include GPS Information” option found on Media fields in the Form designer.

This means that GPS data can now be stored in image fields, allowing you to track the individual GPS locations of each picture when it was taken.
The geo data is available through our location formula functions too, so you can again make dynamic use of this information in your apps.

For forms that require the user to walk around a large area while capturing images, this gives a new level of information to those pictures.
Coupled with the new Heading data, this means you can even tell the direction a user was facing when taking each picture 🙂

Copy Files To Device Gallery
Previously any media files captured using the app would be stored in the app’s private secure area on the device and as such were not available for use by other apps on the device.  The files could also not be copied off the device for external use and backup.
We’ve now added a “Copy to Gallery” option on the Media field type in the Form designer, which allows you to specify when a file should be copied to the public gallery / album area of the device.
The app will still keep the original file in it’s secure area, but this way you can enable cases where the files need to be more generally accessible to the user.

Improved Data Display
We’ve improved and standardised the display of GPS data on the app and the website, providing a consistent and easily readable display of geo data.
On the website particularly, this means that the geo data is now displayed inline on the Data page, allowing quick access to the GPS coordinate info.
The “View Map” and “View Entry” pages also now include improved geo data display.
Additionally, you can now play video and audio files directly from the “View Entry” page, instead of simply getting the file name displayed.

Log User Location During App Use
A new option is available on the App Setup page (App Builder -> App Setup), which lets you control whether or not the app should log the user’s location.
This option is turned off by default to avoid any possible issues with privacy or legal concerns – this is something each client must answer for themselves before turning on this feature.

If enabled, the app will send the user’s location every time the app performs a synchronisation with the web platform.
Location data is logged in a new Location History that can be viewed on the “Edit User” page (Menu -> Users -> Edit User).
The Location History contains the last 50 logged locations, along with the date/time of the record.
Our Users v2 API has also been updated with a new LocationHistory property, allowing external integration access to this information.

We’re planning to add visualisation options in the future to leverage this new user location information, and we also have designs on improving our Tasking area with this data to make for easier scheduling of Tasks.

New System Data Sources
With a system as dynamic as ours, often there arises a need to have access to an up to date list of Active users and currently published Docs.
For example in a Process Step scenario, where you want to show a list of the current app users in the Form screen for the user to choose from.
Or if you’re maintaining a lot of Docs on our platform, and you want to show a Listing screen of these for the user to view.

So we added two new built-in Data Sources that the system automatically maintains – Active Users and Published Docs.

Active Users is like the name says, an always up to date list of all active users on the organisation account.  This data source uses the user email as the unique key for each row, and includes a “Last Location” column that contains the user’s last known GPS coordinates, leveraging the new “Log User Location” option mentioned earlier.

Published Docs provides a listing of all Docs in published status, using the Doc’s key as the unique row identifier.
This makes it easy to create a Listing screen driven by the Published Docs data.  
Set the user interaction of the Listing rows to “Open Doc”, and you can pass in the Doc’s identifier as a parameter using our {{this[0]}} syntax.

Phew, that’s a lot of new stuff!
As mentioned at the beginning, this is available right now via the AMC Android app available in Google Play.
All client apps will be updated next week with the awesome new features.

We know the Android mapping screen is still MIA, but rest assured this is very close to being released.
All things going well, it may well make an appearance later this week 😀

Please do try out this preview and ensure that your customer apps do not have any issues with this new app version.
Remember, we run previews so that you can let us know if the new version causes problems with your customer apps.

As always, we love to hear what you think so please let us know through our support team or your preferred Appenate contact.