Sunday, December 21, 2008

PinPoint Me New Style Map Emailer for iPhone

jTribe has submitted a new iPhone app to the AppStore. "PinPoint Me" is part of the firepin application family. This little helper application sends a Google Map Image as an email attachment. 

Based on user feedback we re-designed the app to offer a larger map and still offer the simple "two-button" approach.

Enough talk. Here are the screen shots. If you like it please stay tuned and we will announce here once Apple has approved PinPoint Me for sales in the AppStore.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Enable your Location Services on iPhone

PinPoint and Firepin are not working without the iPhone Location Services enabled.

To enable the Location Services go to your iPhone Settings

Then check that Location Services are switched on. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

1 Million Geo Locations in Firepin

Wow, we are very impressed with the speed and volume of Geo Locations hitting our server. 

Yesterday the 1 Million mark was reached. Yes, more than 1,000,000 locations are now stored on the firepin server within just over a month.

This is very encouraging for us and we will see how we can keep this service free for our loyal users.

Thanks to all our users out there using Firepin Trip Tracker on the iPhone or Android G1 phone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

PinPoint for iPhone now on AppStore

PinPoint is the latest app in the Firepin family.

It's an easy to use app that lets you find & share the Address of your current location.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Questions around PinPoint on the iPhone?

PinPoint on the iPhone answers the question: 

"What is the address of my current location?"

Here are some questions and answers around PinPoint on the iPhone you might find useful:

Why is it asking for my name?
This is so it can personalize your email text. It will use your name and make the email read like this: "John is currently near..."  (replace John with your name).
You will only asked for your name the first time you press the "Share" button. From then on it will use your name each time you share your current address via email. 

How can I change my name?
Click the information button (tiny "i") on the button bar. The info screen displays a button with the label "Edit your name".

Why is the address not correct?
This could be because you try to use in a location where the iPhone GPS cannot get a signal. Usually this is happening in a building (e.g your office or home) or when you in a narrow street. To get the most accurate result you need to ensure that you are outdoors with clear view to the sky. Even without GPS signal we try to get an address. However, this address might not be very accurate or might only contain the suburb without street.

What does the message mean: "(weak signal)"?
It means your iPhone is not getting a GPS signal. Your phone will still be able to find your location based on "cell tower triangulation". However, this will return only vague address information. Usually this will return only the suburb you are in. A message will indicated that the result has only "low accuracy". This happens if you are indoors or in narrow streets.

What does the message mean: "(some signal)"?
It means your iPhone is not getting a GPS signal. Your phone will still be able to find your location based on "Wifi triangulation". The address that will appear is most likely not accurate.  After PinPoint has finished locating you it will show you a message telling you that this result has only "medium accuracy". This happens if you are indoors or in narrow streets.

What does the message mean: "(good signal)"?
Your iPhone's GPS is working fine and you can expect an accurate address result.
This is what you can expect when you are outdoors with clear view to the sky.
Why is this message popping up "Traveling? Try Firepin trip tracker"?
Finding a location can take up to 30 seconds. So we thought you might want to get some information about other applications form us. Firepin is a trip tracker and as a PinPoint user you might be interested in this free app. (Firepin download informationHow to use Firepin Trip Tracker)

Monday, November 17, 2008

PinPoint on iPhone is coming

When you want to let someone know what your current address is then PinPoint has the answer.

PinPoint locates you, shows a map and the current ADDRESS. Within seconds you can tell or email someone your address along with an image of the map and the link to Google maps.

PinPoint for iPhone extends the Firepin product family and offers useful features that are different.

PinPoint is non-technical: No need to deal with longitude and latitude

PinPoint returns real ADDRESS: Converts the location into a readable address

PinPoint is not a map application: But includes a small map for fast response

PinPoint gives visual, textual and vibration feedback after it finished finding the address.

You can use PinPoint to:
- Let someone know where to meet
- Email an address to yourself to keep a record
- Let your partner know how far you are away from home
- Find out the Post Code of your current location

So, PinPoint should be ready for download from the AppStore in a couple a days. We are currently waiting for Apple to review the app.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to keep GPS on while iPhone is on standby

Your iPhone is switching off GPS as soon as you put your phone in standby mode. This is a measure by Apple to conserve battery. As a side effect users of GPS trackers like Firepin Trip Tracker will not be able to record accurate locations when in standby mode.

Using a car charger will keep the GPS on even in standby mode. An extended battery pack will keep the GPS running too. But what if you are walking or running and want to use Firepin to record your trip in best possible accuracy?

Here is a trick we found to keep your GPS running even when your iPhone is in standby mode.
  1. Launch Firepin Trip Tracker on the iPhone
  2. Start tracking
  3. Lock the screen
  4. double press Home button on your iPhone
    (iPod player control will pop up. Did you know that?)
  5. Press play
  6. Reduce volume if you don't want to listen to music
  7. Lock the screen again
Voila, now GPS is working even your phone is locked.
Chuck your iPhone in your pocket and Firepin will record your trip with best accuracy.

Sounds complicated? Once you are used to the little trick it is easy to use. The result is worth the effort.

Here is the how you enable background GPS in pictures:

Friday, October 31, 2008

FirePin Android can see where it's going

When we originally ported FirePin from iPhone to Android we made it look and feel essentially the same. However there is no real benefit to this consistently as not many users are going to be lucky enough to have both an iPhone and a G1. It also meant we weren't making the full use of the Android platform's strengths.

Therefore we have just uploaded an update of FirePin to the Android market place that now includes a fully working map view. You can scroll around and zoom in and out just as you do in the map application that comes with your G1. However when you start tracking your location, a pin of fire marks your current location and will move as you move.

This is great when you want to be able to look around the map of your current location but maintain the tracking for friends or family watching at home. Hope you enjoy the update. Let us know what you think!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PinPoint - A simple way to send someone your current location

PinPoint is the latest addition to the FirePin family currently now on the Android platform.

It is a simple way to send someone your current location.

- PinPoint finds your current location and shows you on a map

- You select an email address from your contact list

- They receive your approximate address and a map which they can click to take them to google maps

Get it now from the Android Market Place!

Firepin now available for Android G1 phone

Did we mention that FirePin Trip Tracker is now available for the Android phone.

FirePin uses integrated GPS location services to record any trips you make with your Android G1 phone. Share trips easily and instantly from the G1 phone, allowing friends and family to monitor your progress on their home computer.

US based users can now download it for free from the Android Marketplace. UK users will also be able to use FirePin on the G1 phone from next week. Happy trip tracking!

Monday, October 27, 2008

FirePin v1.1 now available in AppStore

The new version of FirePin for the iPhone is now available in the Apple AppStore and can be downloaded via iTunes. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Submitted new version of FirePin

Today, we have submitted an updated version of FirePin Trip Tracker to the Apple AppStore. In version 1.1 we have focused on simplicity.

make GPS tracking with the iPhone as easy as the iPhone itself

...this was our primary goal. V1.0 is already the simplest online GPS tracker on the iPhone but we wanted to make it even more accessible to non-technical iPhone users. 

In less than 5 seconds the user can start recording to our online database

...was our secondary goal. This is great for users who have not used online GPS trackers before. 

Changes and Featured of FirePin Trip Tracker v1.1
  1. We removed the Terms of Service screen. Now you can use the app one click earlier.
  2. No need to type in a trip name. 
  3. After installing FirePin you can instantly press the "Start" button.
  4. Online recording starts straight away so you can send a link to a online map earlier.
  5. User account gets automatically created for you. 
  6. FirePin can now be launched from Safari.
Why are we going through all this effort?

Non-technical users tell us that they want to share their trips with friends and family in a simple and intuitive way without being exposed to any complicated GPS terms. The problem with most online GPS trackers today is that they are not user friendly.  User needs to register online (yet another account to remember) then punch in some long and cryptic device ID. After fiddling around for 5 minutes or longer user finally can record a trip or they are so frustrated that they have given up. These users may stay away from any application that has GPS in it's name because you have to be a geek to set it up.
We think we can fix that!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Follow Firepin on Twitter

We noticed that a large number of firepin users also uses twitter and thought it would be useful to see our latest features announcements and tweet-worthy information on twitter. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Post your trips on your website

Google Maps have enabled websites and blogs to embed maps for quite a while and we've noticed users starting to embed their FirePin trips. We've
just updated FirePin so it's a lot cleaner to put maps of your trips into your blog or website.

Go to FirePin and click on a previously shared trip (or create a new share). You will now see (as below) both a link to the shared trip as well as some HTML code you can copy and paste into your blog.

This is a trip I recorded this morning and have copy/pasted into this blog

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sending a Trip Map to Twitter from your iPhone

Are you using Twitterrific on the iPhone? It's a great twitter app. Besides twitter browsing and posting, it allows you to send your current location to twitter. But how about putting a whole trip into twitter

Here in the office we like twitter. That's why we came up with the simplest possible solution to send any trip ever made with FirePin to twitter conveniently from the iPhone. 

Check out the new twitterrific button in FirePin.

Twitter a FirePin trip:
Until now it was too hard! "Select a trip, share it via email to yourself, copy the link, create a tinyurl, open twitter and paste the link."
From today it's easy to share a trip on twitter from your iPhone. We have released a brand new FirePin feature that does all the work for you and integrates nicely with twitterrific.
  1. On your iPhone click the "Maps" button in FirePin.

  2. Select a trip you want to add to twitter.

  3. Press the twitterrific button.

  4. Twitterrific app launches with a tinyurl link to your shared trip. -: Done!

You can download twitterrific for free from the AppStore so you can enjoy this new feature.

Where are you now?

No one was ever described me as being punctual. I'm often on the phone 5 mins before an appointment letting people know when I might actually arrive. In fact I make good use of sharing FirePin tracks to let others know where I actually am. 

Today we released an update to the website that makes this even easier. Firepin now allows you to view and share your most recent location, regardless of the trip you are recording. Go to and you'll see a map showing your last location. You can create a shared link to this map which you can share with anyone. 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How to use Firepin on the iPhone 3G

Now that the Firepin iPhone app is available to download for free via iTunes we thought it is time to explain how the application works.

Getting started:
  1. download Firepin from the Apple AppStore
  2. Start the app and type the name of the trip you want to record and press "Done".
  3. In the main screen press the "Start" button to record your trip.
  4. Now, this is where you need some patience until the iPhone location service has determined your location.
  5. Start moving around outdoors so the GPS can track some locations.
  6. If you to see something like "Accuracy: 74 m". Then the GPS is working nicely.
So, now you are recording your first trip. Not very spectacular - but wait.

Share the trip:
After 4-5 minutes you should have recorded enough locations pins to start "sharing"
  1. Press "Share" button and the app will start the email app in the iPhone with a link to your current trip.
  2. Send the email to a friend.
  3. Quit the Mail app and start FirePin to continue recording.
  4. Your friend can click on the link and see your trip on a Google map (either on the iPhone or in a web browser)
Record another trip:
  1. You need to create a new trip. Press "Config" and change the trip name.
  2. Don't worry about your previous trip. It is safely and securely stored on our server so you can access it any time.
  3. Press "Done" and "Start" to record the new trip.
To see your trip on the iPhone Map app:
  1. Press "Maps" button.
  2. The first time you need to type in the letters shown and submit.
  3. A list of your trips will be displayed.
  4. Select the trip you want to see on the map
  5. iPhone Map app will start and display your location pins
Manage your trips:
Once you have more than one trip you can manage them. You need to use a web browser from your computer to manage your trips.
  1. Go to ""
  2. When prompted you need to type in an access code.
  3. On your iPhone go to "Config" and press "Request New Access Code"
  4. An code will be displayed and you need to type that in your web browser.
  5. A list of your trips will be displayed.
That's it. The next article will explain how you can use Firepin to track your friends or family in "real time" as they move.

Friday, October 10, 2008

An iPhone 3G app that is different

jTribe has finished its first iPhone application. It's called FirePin and is a simple iPhone app that allows a user to track trips. 

We have chosen a minimalist approach and tried to avoid things that we found annoying on other iPhone apps.

Yes it is yet another tracking app. But this one is different. This is not a hard core GPS tracking system. It is about letting other people know where you are on a trip. Sharing and protection were the key design goals of the app.

Introducing our "no sign-up"approach

When the iPhone came out I ended up with 5 new user accounts on the Internet and stopped using apps that ask me to sign-up. Our app does not required the user to sign-up. Install and use it straight away.

"no sign-up" and still protected

The location data that is send to our FirePin location store is kept anonymous. It is impossible (even for us) to conclude who has submitted locations.

Power to the iPhone user

The user can manage and control all data from the iPhone. 
  1. Creating new trips, 
  2. sharing trips with friends and family, 
  3. accessing trip history and 
  4. displaying trips in the iPhone Map application.
However, access through  a non-iPhone web browser is also possible and supported and offers some more advanced feature such as post-editing trips interactively in our integrated Google Maps application. 

We are using it too

The jTribe folks (who are owners of an iPhone) are using FirePin too. Our first-time users thought: "Why should I use this app?" But then we found heaps of useful things we could do with it and it became kind of addictive. 

Things to do with FirePin
  1. Letting our partners know how far we away from home.
  2. Sharing our holiday trips.
  3. Letting coworkers know how far we away (when stuck in traffic and running late for a meeting).
  4. Record outdoor activities such as running, bike riding, hiking (not swimming).
  5. Mark a fishing trip and keep it for later reference.
  6. Share a trip with family members so they can track you on your way to a family gathering.
We hope that other iPhone users find it as useful as we do.

Ah yes, and it's actually free!

Friday, October 3, 2008

FirePin v1.0 ready for Apple AppStore.

After weeks of team discussions, heaps of trips to get test data by driving around in cars, trains, bikes, and on rollerblades. After weeks walking around in the office or around the office building - annoying our co-workers at the OpenHub. After visiting remote areas of Australia. After a lot of fun developing the FirePin service and iPhone Application we decided that it is time to show FirePin to the rest of the world by putting it in the Apple AppStore. 

Here is what you will see in the AppStore Description:

FirePin uses integrated location services to record any trips you make with your iPhone.

Your path is shown as a series of pins on the iPhone’s built-in google map, and is also accessible on the web.

Why is FirePin different?

1: FirePin is simple, non-technical and does exactly what it claims to do.

2: Quick start: just name your trip and press go.

3: Trips are stored online and securely web accessible but NO registration is required, providing complete anonymity.

4: Share trips easily and instantly from the iPhone, allowing a friend and family to monitor your progress.

5: This app and all updates will remain free until iPhone’s ‘push’ functionality is enabled by Apple. Even then we will look after our early users.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What others see when you share

In case you are wondering what other people see when you are sharing a trip we have published a "real" trip here that was shared and sent to 30 friends so they could see me traveling (live) and arriving (alive) at a campsite 500km from Melbourne.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Yahoo Fire Eagle vs Google Location API

Yahoo's fire eagle is bringing some movement into the location-based application and platform space. Long anticipated I got my Fire Eagle login today. So I could not wait trying it and playing around with location-based applications.

So far I was exclusively using Google Maps and Google APIs to do location tracking and Map visualization. Google Maps for mobile has it spot on in terms of providing a map of your current location. Install the app, hit a button and BAM you have a map.

I guess I have to rethink. Fire Eagle seems to go into the right direction. Although the applications that work with Fire Eagle are limited. The apps I checked out are Zonetag on my Nokia N95 and Firebot on twitter .

Unfortunately, both apps did not impress me.

Zonetag is updating my location in Fire Eagle. But when I check my location on my Fire Eagle account it is very rough (telling me that I am in Australia - yeah Australia is LAAARGE where the hell am I exactly)

Firebot on twitter was disabled due to some IM problems in twitter.

I guess Fire Eagle needs to improve its data and accuracy before it useful (in Australia).
Happy to hear from other users on the globe how Fire Eagle works for them.