locate

Locate, the people locator application launched today by MapMyIndia is quite buggy, and needs to work on improving its user experience. We tried it and found that it isn’t working. But first, here’s what it is meant to do:

– Locate three users: MapmyIndia Locate allows users to locate three people both in terms of their location on check-in’s and on the map. Automatically locating them every 500 meters as an auto check-in).
– Track themselves on the map
– Detailed reports: check detailed reports on movement of people (with users either manually checking in. The movement reports are available for up to five days, and include details like date, time and address.
– Custom Settings: Users can also set custom locate settings for being located, in terms of day of the week
– Web enabled: Reports are accessible not just in the app but also through a web/mobile web dashboard at http://locate.mapmyindia.com

Issues with the app

– Enabling tracking is buggy: for a service that is about mobility, we can’t understand why location needs to be approved via email and then via the web. For example, I signed up for the service via the app. However, when my colleague Vikas tried to add me to the service, I received an SMS asking me to check my email. I had to log into the service on the web in order to approve his request to track me. My first reaction was that that service should ask for tracking being allowed from within the app, not the web or email. Around 20 minutes after approving tracking (via the web), I got a request for approval within the app, and with the same settings that I had already approved. It’s been over an hour, and the request for approval remains, despite having been approved both on the web and app. There appear to be some issues with redundancy here that MapMyIndia needs to sort out.

Screenshot_2013-07-01-18-28-13
– Check-in’s not showing: Even after Vikas had allowed me to track his location, it just wouldn’t show up on the app. For some inexplicable reason, the date shown in the app was 01 Jan 1970. In case of another attempt, it showed the date as 01 July 2013 (today), but didn’t show the check-in. Vikas isn’t able to see my check-in’s either. It’s been over an hour since the approvals, and the check-in’s still aren’t visible on either side.

Screenshot_2013-07-01-18-27-31    Screenshot_2013-07-01-17-43-31
– After I approved Vikas’s request to see my check-in’s many many times, the screen for approval still remains.

– Vikas had issues adding me initially. A user comment on the Play store points towards a similar issue.

This is all really irritating, and quite frustrating. If we weren’t reviewing it, we would have given up on it a long time ago.

What we did like, is the detailing of permissions – at some level, the idea is right, and I suppose MapMyIndia would have been hard pressed to differentiate their offering from Google Latitude. The approach of only allowing users to control when others can see them – in terms of days of the week and time of day – is useful, especially in what is a master-slave relationship (parent-child, wife-husband, girlfriend-boyfriend, manager-sales exec), where one wants to constantly keep tabs on the other.

Screenshot_2013-07-01-17-45-15

 

The other really good thing about this is that a user cannot fake check-in’s.

Still, it is a little creepy, in the sense that it’s a consumer app that automatically checks location if the app is on, and adds it to a report. The person being tracked should have the freedom to disable auto check-in, and only track voluntary check-in’s.

This is also not taking into account the impact on battery life if GPS is kept on, but MapMyIndia also uses cell-tower triangulation, which is useful.