Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Web location uploads, better iPhone support, and favourite stations
The system now supports uploading positions directly to aprs.fi using a web browser which supports the W3C Geolocation API. In practice this means that you can update your location using a mobile phone which has a GPS and a modern web browser. No native application or purchase is required. I have only tested this with the iPhone (OS 3.0 and newer), but there is a good chance that Android phones will work, too. To try this out, create an user account on aprs.fi, log in from the phone, and click on the transmitting tower button to upload your position.
You can also click on the crosshair button to center the map on your current GPS coordinates. Naturally, your web browser will ask you whether your position can be revealed to aprs.fi before either of these functions are enabled.
The positions are not transmitted to or via the APRS-IS, so it is OK for users without amateur radio licenses to upload their positions, too. The stations are identified as web stations on aprs.fi, for example: oh7lzb föni (my iPhone). Web stations names are not restricted by AX.25 / APRS limitations, and can contain spaces and international characters.
The names of the web stations live in a separate namespace from APRS and AIS stations. There can be a 'N0CALL' phone as well as a 'N0CALL' APRS station, and a 'N0CALL' AIS ship. When names overlap, the web site will let you pick the right station from a list. Multiple web stations may also share the same name, which should help avoid collisions.
The mobile version of the map has been improved to better support the iPhone. With some luck, these improvements should also help on Android and other new powerful mobile devices, but I haven't tested it on one yet. I really haven't used anything iPhone-specific which would intentionally break on other devices (I have tested the mobile version of the site on Firefox to validate this), but only testing will tell. Feedback is welcome.
I've also added a favourite stations list. The 'star' button to show the bookmark list is visible, but the editing functionality has not been published yet. Stay tuned for more!