Friday, 4 May 2012

4/5: London Pins Goes Mobile

I've been playing around with ideas for a mobile or light version of the catalogue. I've looked at creating an iPhone app, but I never seem to have the time to learn the tools enough to do it.

I've come up with a good alternative though I think - a web app. For those that do not know what these are, think of them as a normal website but scaled and formatted for a mobile device and then added as an icon to your phone so that it looks and functions like a normal app, but is in fact accessing a website.

The downside is that the app requires access to the internet to work, so you won't have the pin catalogue in your pocket as such - you can't use it on the underground to check as your trading!

It will allow you to access the catalogue which I've divided it up in line with the main version, so you should find it relatively easy to navigate. You can list the pins in the same categories as on the main site and then click on any pin to see a larger image and details of the backstamp.

You can also check the news blog, see details and maps of upcoming pin meets, send me an email and run the full site when you need to.

I will endeavour to keep the mobile catalogue as up to date as the website one and plan to update them both at the same time.

To install it on an iPhone, do this...
  1. On your phone, launch a web browser as usual and type in
  2. When the site launches, you should see the screen above,
  3. Tap on the middle icon on the bottom bar (the one that looks like an arrow coming out of a box)
  4. Tap 'Add to Home Screen'
  5. In the text entry box, type in London Pins and tap 'Add' in the top right corner
  6. The London Pins icon should now appear on your homepage and when you tap the new icon, you should launch London Pins without any browser bars, so it looks like a real iPhone app.
  7. When you click the new icon, you may see a 'splash' screen with the London Pins logo or a blank white screen (I can't tell why it's not consistent) - this just means the phone is launching the app, please be patient.
Sorry I haven't got instructions for an Android phone, but you can still access the mobile URL as above and then add a bookmark. You will still get the same functionality but without the icon.

There are a few limitations...

  • The size of the screen means that it's not always possible to see the complete description of the pin when viewing a list. Click on the picture however and all should be revealed.
  • Sometimes when you click a picture, rather than open the details page within the web app, the phone launches a new Safari browser and displays the details there. This seems random and may have something to do with buffering. It seems the more you use the app, the less of a problem this becomes.
  • It's not the quickest response in the world, but it's easier than trying to view the catalogue from the main site on a phone. I hope you think it's a good (and free) compromise.
Please try it out and let me know if you find any problems. I'll try and help out where I can.
If you think of anything that would make it better, let me know, I can't promise to do it, but I may be able to try.

Thanks to Robert for planting the seeds of an idea and for keeping this on my agenda. Thanks too to those that tested the early prototype - I hope you think it's progressed.


Pippin said...

Brilliant as ever. Just how do you find the time to do all this?

Matt said...

Good work Paul, already in my London 2012 Folder on my front screen :-)

Anonymous said...

That's is what I need ! Thanks . Think will be good at the games for a short look

Mikeyboy said...

Time for me to get a smartphone!

Timo said...

What a great idea - thanks a lot Paul.