Public Lab Research note

Sky Cam Enhancement; In-App User guide + App icon added

by mercyorangi | August 10, 2014 21:46 10 Aug 21:46 | #11028 | #11028

The user guide..

An elaborate user-guide has been added to Sky Cam. Under Homepage >> 'Guide' menu >> Sky cam guide

My aim here was to try and pull more users to explore and use this amazing app, hence the need for breaking down the application and its go-abouts.

Any ideas to further make Sky Cam as open-ended as possible for the user are highly welcomed..

Link to .apk file

Please test the app and all feedback is highly welcomed :) .. .apk file here

So far, I have tested the app on a Samsung Galaxy S2, Android version 4.1

Will be interesting to see how the app responds on other phones + Android versions

The app icon..

A new app icon has been designed for Sky Cam too.. takes the app's theme color + a rough sketch of a bird flying with a camera.

Any views on improving it are highly welcomed!

Work-plan for remaining GSoC2014 days

  • Work on app behavior when screen orientation changes
  • Create a technical guide for future collaborators of Sky Cam
  • Finish on code documentation, in terms of inline code commenting/elaboration


Hi Mercy - Thanks for the update. It's great to read about the progress. I tried to run Sky Cam on my Samsung Tab 2.0 and after the app starts I get an error "Unfortunately, Sky Cam has stopped". Is there anything I can do to help debug this problem? My tablet does not have phone access. Could that be a problem? I checked the GPS and it seems to be working ok. I'm running Android 4.2.2

Is the guide only available using the app? I wasn't sure where to look for the "Homepage >> 'Guide' menu >> Sky cam guide" menu items.

It would be great to see if other people are able to get the app working. I'm not very familiar with Android app so it's possible I'm doing something wrong.

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Hi, Mercy - Cool! It installed fine for me on a Nexus 5.

A few comments:

  • What is "threshold value" -- is it how much the camera can be moving for it to take a photo? A tiny bit more info on that menu would be great. Ah, - i see it's in the guide, but maybe even saying "see guide" in the menu itself would be helpful?
  • Is the "s" necessary in the Time Period setting?
  • can we put a fake email in the email id field? I don't think we want to distribute Mohit's email to everyone :-)
  • also the emails say "Mercy's Email" -- maybe we say "Photo from Sky Camera"?
  • can the "source code" link to go ?
  • the longitude and latitude are oddly formatted -- they seem almost right but: Latitude: 42/1,23/1,13321/1000 Longitude -71/1,-5/1,-33608/1000 I am at something close to 42 latitude, -71 longitude, but the slashes are weird?
  • where do the photos get saved? I don't see them in my photo album; maybe we should tell the user where they are saved once you press "Stop"? Ah, i see they're in "SkyCameraFolder" - we should say that.
  • I also noticed that when I shook the phone, and it was blurry, photos did not take, which is great -- it's supposed to not take blurry photos. But there was no indication to the user that the photo did not save -- maybe we can show a notification that says "Photo saved" or "Photo discarded -- too much motion"?

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Also -- here's the image from my phone:


And the metadata:


It seems the GPS is not quite right. Also, is it possible to get a compass reading in there, or is it there and I'm just not seeing it?

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@Ned, thanks for the pointer on the error and the device you testing on. If your GPS is still on, then the app should still work, even without phone access, only thing in this case is that the photos will not be emailed, just stored on your SD card. (tested this flight mode on, and GPS on). Unfortunately, the best way to successfully debug the error will need to have an Android editor, so will try get a Samsung Tab 2.0 at a tech hub here at home, and see where the app crashes.. I think I should have the User Guide as a research note too? At least so that it's available even when not in the app (because the path: "Homepage >> 'Guide' menu >> Sky cam guide" is in the app)..

@Jeff, much appreciated feedback! Will be looking into the issues today, and will have a new .apk for testing tonight. Was a little bit hesitant to merging my source code branch with the master branch at before but now that the .apk is well on, I will merge my branch with the master at publabs after every successful code test.

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Hi Mercy - I think posting the user guide as a research note is a good idea. That way people can comment and also get a better idea what the Sky Cam does.

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Super to hear, thanks Mercy. You don't have to merge to the master every time, necessarily, but it'd be great if the link went there. Thanks!

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Hi! Updates made on the 80% pointers given in comments above, mainly;

  • Added a date tag to the email subject, because I realized all photos, regardless of when the photo(s) were taken, go to the same email thread, so adding the date tag will have photos taken on different days on different email strings, probably help with email sorting
  • Formatted the latitude and longitude values sent to your email address
  • Better in-app notifications, like, where the photos are saved on your phone and infor on how to redirect to the "Guide" menu whenever something is too technical or not so clear


New research note coming up, fully on the User Guide for SkyCam.

Give SkyCam a new test run again here, and I definitely do appreciate more feedback coming along :-)

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Super... I'll check the photo metadata in a bit, but a couple more suggestions:

  • p2 of the guide looks a bit odd on my phone-- see below
  • is there any way to open the folder of images in the gallery app? Using "intents" or something?
  • some indicator for whether GPS, compass, and tilt are being recorded, like three icons that show or are Xed out?

This is looking great. Thanks!


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Also, i checked again and I think the latitude/longitude are getting written incorrectly to the exif data -- on the attached image, see that the latitude (42 deg) seems right, but the longitude is the latitude value, and also offset by some digits (degrees are in minutes area). Are you seeing similar issues when you use the app?



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Hi warren , I realized too that tab2 overlaps with another page, still looking at why this is so. I am also currently working on implementing the GPS/Compass indicator and the lat lon tags on the photo (might be due to wrong formatting of received values). Will update next how this is coming along. Yes it is possible to use an Intent to open the SkyCamFolder while still inside the app, this will be available in my next code update.

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Super, post when you have a new update and I'll try it out!


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Hi @mercyorangi! You are doing an excellent work on the app! :)

I was trying it on my MOTO X (1st model), and realize that the pictures wasn't send to my e-mail... I believe I configured it correctly (by typing the e-mail adress), and the cellphone was on WiFi. Bellow you will find the screenshot.


Also, the camera isn't get focus. It does for the first shot, and only for that. On this way, if the kite/ballon flies up or down, the pics gets blured! =/

For last, the app is telling me that I am on LAT and LONG 0.0, but I'm not! Anothers apps can locate me correctly (around S22º W043º), so I don't think it's an internal problem... =/ (update: after some minutes using it, the Sky Cam located me)

many thanks for the app, and for the help! :)

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Hi @mercyorangi thanks for your great work on this app! I have it installed on my HTC One S that is running Android 4.3.1

I see there have been some updates in your personal fork on GitHub, but they have not been merged into the publiclab repo and there is no .APK to download. Do you have plans to do that?

I am headed to Kauai with a balloon kit on Saturday and might try compile your more recent version before then.

Also @ives I have luck getting better Lat & Long values when I open up Google Maps and let it resolve my location for 30-60 seconds. Then when I go back to SkyCam the location is not 0,0

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Hi @mihow, I figure this out through a different App, named "GPS Test". Looks like both Google Maps and GPS Test "warm up" the location, and then SkyCam use that information. Tks for the help!

How SkyCam is going on your HTC One? Is it sending the pics by email?

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Hi @ives, the GPS Test app is even better! Thanks for the tip.

Unfortunately though, the SkyCam app is not working well on my phone. It does not send emails or even display an error message like in your screenshot. It also is only saves one image to the SD Card every session (the last image, right before I click Stop Timer)

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