Friday 16 January 2015

The Better By Bicycle Android app

Summary: If you have an Android phone you can now download the free Better By Bicycle app, which is intended to provide useful smartphone-targeted content for transport cyclists. It is only available for Android as the app maker I used (Andromo) is Android-only. This post will be updated with details of what I've currently incorporated into the mobile app and any ideas for new features. Please also use the comments to suggest any content for the app, such as links to the most outstanding articles, websites, videos, books, apps and Facebook Groups/Pages.

Related Posts:
> See the mobile and web apps category of this blog.

1. Details about the Better By Bicycle Android app
- My aim was to use my Andromo subscription (a no-code Android app maker) to publish a free utility cycling app that demonstrated some valuable uses for smartphone access. In other words, what info and capabilities are most useful when a utility cyclist is out and about? (Not necessarily riding but often just using spare time reading). This initial app is intended to be useful for any utility cyclist, so I have limited the extent of Melbourne-specific app elements (e.g. Melbourne cycling destinations, activities, events and news).

- The limitations of a no-code app are that it isn't going to be highly functional and more about content consumption. You can see the current version of the app below.
Google Play - Better By Bicycle app

2. What can a no-code, smartphone app offer utility cyclists?
- The simple no-code, app activities (elements) are limited to mostly content display (static or dynamic feeds) or integration with common web apps like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

- However, the potential use of social apps like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube means that it is possible to use such apps to share crowdsourced content. E.g. Any app user can share content directly with other app users by including the #BetterByBicycle hashtag in their tweet. If there's interest, I'll integrate other social features.

- Most of the elements of my app leverage RSS Feed activities to display posts from a blog - either this one or the one I set up especially as the content source for the app: Better By Bicycle App. I simply create a discrete RSS feed for a blog category (e.g. Top Web Articles) and use that in an app activity (Top web articles).

3. Current Better By Bicycle app activities and ideas for new ones
- Below are the activities I've included in the current app. Other feasible suggestions on elements (activities) to add to the app are welcome via the comments.

Current app activities
(a) Better By Bicycle recent posts
- The most recent posts from this blog.

(b) Better By Bicycle top posts
- Selected older posts that are popular or very useful.

(c) Top web articles
- Selected articles on cycling, transport and urban life that I've found most interesting.

(d) Recommended sites
- The main websites that I read for articles on cycling, transport and urban life.

(e) Useful apps
- Suggested smartphone or web apps that may be useful for cyclists.

(f) Videos and media
- Selected videos and media (e.g. podcasts) that are worth checking out.

(g) Recommended books
- Reviews and summaries of books relevant to urban cycling, transport and cities.

(h) Facebook Groups & Pages
- Selected Facebook groups or pages of most relevance to transport cycling.

(i) Melbourne Grid Map
- My custom Google Map of a recommended network of cycling routes in Melbourne.

(j) #BetterByBicycle Twitter hashtag
- Displays all tweets including this hashtag, allowing any user to share information and links with other users.

Potential new app activities
(k) Idea: Melbourne Commute Ninja
- I'm considering adding an activity that would let Melbourne residents, interested in commuting to work by bike, request in-person assistance from an experienced cyclist (preferably in their area). In particular, to identify a route that meets their safety and convenience needs. This activity is of interest to me as I need more wide-ranging trips to build out my Melbourne Grid Map into areas I don't typically ride.

4. Suggest content to be added to existing Better By Bicycle app activities
- App users or those with similar interests can use the comments on this post or the in-app email to suggest articles, links and content to be added to the app. In particular, the below sections may be of interest to contribute to:
> Top web articles
> Recommended sites
> Useful apps (phone or web)
> Recommended videos and podcasts
> Recommended books
> Facebook Groups & Pages
> Melbourne Grid Map - additions or desired extensions to the area covered

Further Info: