New Tally App

We have just announced our new Tally app that can be used to monitor people or things that have beacons attached to them. It’s suitable for counting groups of people, for example, tour groups and educational classes or finding the wareabouts of things such as stock items, machines or vehicles. It’s also suitable for lone workers and evidence based working.

The app is csv driven in that you can import and export beacons of interest with given names and groups. You can then start/stop monitoring sessions on all beacons, all beacons declared in the app or just beacons in a named group. The results make up sessions of detected beacons that can, again, be exported to csv files. You can also choose to add arbitrary (prompted for) information to a session, for example a description of the location, that you might later use for analysis.

seeking

The power of the app comes from the fact it works in background and can also work unattended, stopping and starting sessions automatically during idle time when detected the beacons haven’t changed. The resulting session csv files can be automatically sent via email or ftp, with queuing for failed sends.

configuration

Here are some examples of how Tally can be used:

Managing Tour Groups: You might set up an Excel file with named grouped members that’s imported into the app. Give each a beacon and set the app to show those beacons that are missing. Start a session and the app will give you the names of those people missing.

Class Registration: Give each student a beacon. Import the student names from Excel and/or dynamically add the named students one by one by allowing the app to add the nearest beacon. Set the app to automatic sessions and email sending. The app will regularly report who is in the room. The app will also send the group if this has been set for the student.

Managing Stock: Put beacons on large or valuable stock items. Import the items from Excel or add manually in the app auto-filling the beacon uuid, major and minor for the closest beacon. Set the app to prompt for extra information at the start of a session. When you need to do a stock check, start a session, enter the room name or area and walk around the room. Stop the session and export the detected beacons. You might also set the minimum signal strength for detection so as to filter out beacons in adjacent rooms.

Evidence Based Working: Some jobs require workers to prove they have been at a particular place at a particular time. Site beacons at the places that need to be visited. Import the named place details and/or set them manually in the app (you can also export this data). Set the app to unattended use and FTP upload and give to the worker. You will receive where the worker has been, with named locations via FTP.

Testing Beacons: Some rollouts, for example at museums, need to regularly walk-test the routes to make sure the beacons are working and battery strength is sufficient. Set the app to detect all beacons and enable the battery monitoring. Walk the museum and all the beacons, with their battery levels will be recorded for the session. Export to Excel, send via email or share the output session file.

Learn more about Tally

Beacons, Google Instant Apps and Nearby Notifications

There have been some interesting announcements from Google I/O 2016. The first is Instant Apps that will allow apps to be run from a URL without installation. Once they have been used, they will disappear and not appear in the usual applications list.

This should integrate well with Eddystone URLs/The Physical Web where a place/item might advertise a URL that runs an Instant app. This gives more possibilities than just providing a fixed landing page, possibilities that particularly make use of things a web page can’t – for example deeper things on the phone such as sensors, contact information and calendar information.

The other interesting announcement is Google Nearby Notifications. This is where you can associate a URL, App intent (with URL fallback) or direct app install with an Eddystone beacon. This is different and separate to Eddystone-URL. You use the Tools app and/or the Web Based admin to set up attachments for your beacon that describe the URL, App intent or install. Anyone can see that data and act on it when they use an API or component, for example Place Picker, that uses Google Nearby. The key thing here is that Google trying to sell the one beacon, many uses idea. Many people, not just yourself (as developer) can act on your beacons and that can enable new scenarios and possibilities.

Why Doesn’t Chrome Detect My Physical Web/Eddystone Beacon?

We have a lot of enquiries asking why Chrome on Android doesn’t pick up some beacons. This is often despite enabling the Physical web in Chrome.
Even mobiforge had problems.

The reason is almost always because the pointed to URL doesn’t use https. For some reason, probably as a defence against Man in the Middle attacks, Chrome on Android needs the URL to be secure otherwise it won’t be triggered. Note that the Android Physical Web app and also Chrome on iOS don’t have this limitation.

The fact that so many people are confused and it’s inconsistent with Chrome on iOS suggests that the Google hasn’t thought through or communicated this aspect well enough.

UPDATE: As of October 2017, Google removed Eddystone detection from Chrome on iOS and Android. Only Android can provide notifications.