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Show HN: Spacetime locates a contact on a map by texting them a link to click on
89 points by aaroniba on Apr 20, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 20 comments
I find myself often texting people, "where are you?" so I wrote this little iPhone app that lets me text them a special link. When they click the link, it uses the HTML5 geolocation API to report their location and shows it on a map.


It's only as accurate as the HTML5 geolocation API, but I've been finding it pretty useful. What do you think?

Very clever! I think this is a great idea. There's a startup here in the Seattle area (http://www.glympse.com/) that's doing something similar, but—frankly—I think I feel a lot more comfortable with your model, especially since I think usage is a lot more likely (and abuse far less likely) in a 'pull' scenario like this one.

Good job!

Also, I have some 'constructive' feedback. Please note that I really do think your app is cool, and I'm only trying to help you make it better:

- whru.at should give me the option of typing in my location, or manually locating myself on the map.

- whru.at and Space-time are very different names. Which one do you want to use? (personally I like the 'texty' domain name better)

- It looks like you're using Titanium or something similar to build the UI. Kill this, and move to Objective C. The selection highlights on your table view are weird.

- Please only use system fonts.

- Only use pull to refresh or a refresh button, and not both.

- The color scheme seems to be all over the place: black, white, orange, blue, gray... Check out appdesignvault.com, or other similar resources for pre-built iOS app themes.

Thanks for the feedback! The UI is just a webview that refreshes from a server. This is so I can iterate on the UI without going through the app store, but I agree native would be better. I'm thinking of actually using clutch.io in the next version.

I agree with the rest of your feedback as well. Good stuff.

> The UI is just a webview that refreshes from a server. This is so I can iterate on the UI without going through the app store

Smart :) Good luck with this, I dig it!

Hey Aaron,

I built a POC site a long time ago called FindFacetime (before Apple started using the Facetime name) that was focused on geolocation within a person's forage area, then connected the space on that person's forage map to their available time.

The goal was to find facetime, or spacetime, or the portmanteau (sfacetime) or (spfacetime).

Facebook optimizes on screentime. What service exists to match calendars and offer you a menu of possible options for real-world facetime? Noonhat was the last most interesting entry I saw (and part of the inspiration for Find Facetime), if only there were user account management, and I could invite all my friends to sign-up, and optionally invite strangers.

I hope someone out there runs on this idea and builds a free site that outcompetes Facebook on connecting me face-to-face with my friends, helping us match up our respective forage areas or radii and black out all but our mutually available time blocks.

I'd be happy to invest in the business myself.

I really like the ping-pong model here and I think it's the only one acceptable by the privacy concerned masses. I hope I'll remember to use the app every time I'll be curious where ppl are. All I'd wished for is auto refresh.

Thanks, you actually hit on my #1 question: whether people will remember to use the app. I guess we'll see now that it's out there.

Also it should auto-refresh whenever it gets an Apple Push Notification. If the push notification is delayed, then your clicking refresh could show new data.

If the purpose of texting "where are you?" is null: This is an excellent way to find out the location of your friend(s) without them giving much effort.

If the purpose of texting "where are you?" is to meet up: Sure, bearing in mind that your friends will eventually need to call/text each other to confirm that they are going to meet in front of some building.

In addition to Latitude, the built-in "Find your Friends" seems to already do this, without the user needing to explicitly provide consent every time after the first.

You should clearly state why your app is better.

Also, I know this is hard to do on iOS, but it would really be nice if it could use Google Voice, or email/gmail, or some method other than texting. A lot of people still don't have unlimited SMS plans.

I tried those and other location-sharing apps but I couldn't find any that didn't suffer from two problems:

1. They force my contacts to go through many steps, like downloading an app, registering an account, etc. It's hard to get someone to download and setup an app. It's easier to get them to click a link.

2. They force my contacts to share their location 24/7, which I don't need and they don't want. Having users "explicitly provide consent every time" is a feature.

You're right that I should put this in the app description.

At least with Latitude, it doesn't force you to share your location 24/7. You can turn it off at will, so you can effectively only share it when you want your contacts to see where you are.

Very cool. FYI, there's a startup in Portland (https://geoloqi.com/) that lets you do the same in reverse - you can send a link to your friends and show them your location; the link automatically expires after a set time.

Yeah, there are many apps that do this in reverse. I was surprised at this, because I find it so much more useful to get someone's location than to share my location.

The Marauder's Map! Awesome.

Clickable: http://whru.at/

old trick - Where Are You Now: http://servletsuite.blogspot.com/2010/10/where-are-you-now.h... Send link to Geo Mail

This is the entire point of Google Latitude existing.

(But I like your idea too! Very useful)

Awesome - I've just used it with a few buddies and love the simplicity! My only concern is that I'll have to send an additional msg to new friends to get them to click on the link as the msg sent via the app may seem a bit spammy. I wonder if you can somehow solve that.

Why is OPs text greyed out?

It is to prevent/reduce the posting of large amounts of text. Big blocks of grey text are hard to read, so it discourages people from posting them.

Apparently it is preferred that if you have that much to say, then you should create a blog post and then submit that.

Text posts are always grayed out here. If you check out the Ask[1] portion of the site, you'll see that all of those are as well. There's no meaning to it, unlike when a comment gets grayed out due to downvotes. It seems like a silly design choice to me, but all of them are that way.

[1] Clickable: http://news.ycombinator.com/ask

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