Squashing Bugs in the Android App

We made some pretty major changes under the hood in Android 1.5.7.5, which resulted in a few more bugs than usual. This week we have released 2 minor updates to fix some of the most reported bugs.

The app was crashing when:

1)  trying to load responders’ info into the map view,

2) opening the alert report, backgrounding the app, and then reopening the app in quick succession,

3) the background location update restarted after other apps used up all the resources on the device.

These crashes have been fixed, as well as, the permissions bug. We also received feedback about wanting the responders view sorting feature to stay sorted across all alerts. We have made that improvement with the latest version. You can find the update in the Play Store on your Android device.

Thank you for all your feedback and stay safe!

Webview Update

For some time now, a bug has been reported on Webview where it will not automatically reconnect without refreshing the page. It has been very difficult to figure out where the problem lies, whether it’s the devices internet connection or a problem with webview connecting to our servers. Being unable to successfully reproduce the issues on our machines, we needed to take a shotgun approach to at least narrow down the problem. Today we rolled some changes that will detect when webview cannot stay successfully reconnected and automatically reload the page for you. We believe this should fix the problem for most of our webview devices that disconnect sporadically, but have a relatively stable connection. For webview devices with an erratic and unstable connection, a warning will populate after reloading 20 times in a 48 hour period, indicating that webview’s has lost its internet connection at least 20 times in the past 2 days. If you see this warning, please follow the instructions shown on the error and, if you require additional assistance diagnosing internet connectivity, contact us at support@active911.com.

Backend Update – Bugfix: The app taking a long time to load recent alerts

We made a change to the access server this week that will help people who have multiple agencies with the same device code. There was a bug that could introduce long load times for alerts when you opened the app after a certain period of time.

Basically, whenever our app is opened it calls our access server for all of the unread alerts for that device, then attempts to download the alerts that have been sent while the app was closed. When devices did this, they did it for all the agencies they had ever been a part of. If you were part of a department a year ago, we were still trying to get all the messages sent to that department since you had left. Depending on how busy that department was, it could add anything from seconds to minutes to the message downloading process.

To fix this issue, the initial call for what alerts your device needs to download longer try to get ones that belong to agencies you are no longer a part of. We still keep those alerts in the database, so if you accidentally remove yourself from an agency and then add yourself back, your device will be able to fetch those unread alerts.

It took us a long time to recognize the problem, but we fixed it as soon as we figured it out. For everyone impacted by this bug, we thank you for your patience and apologize for not finding it sooner.

Android Version 1.5.7.5

Features

Background Location

This main feature for this release is the Background Location reporting feature.

It works in much the same way as the iOS feature,  but a key difference is that Android has no indication when apps are using background GPS.

To turn the setting on, go to your setting in the app, and select the “Background GPS Mode” setting.  This will show you the 3 options for the Background GPS.

Screenshot_20170704-160537  Screenshot_20170704-154304

The top option, “High Accuracy”, will update the location of the device in the background at the same frequency it would while the app is opened.  This will likely increase battery usage by a fair amount, but will give the most accurate position and update the most frequently.

The middle option, “Battery Saving”, will use update the location of the device  at most once per 5 seconds. This will use less battery, but also update less frequently.

The bottom option is “Off”, which is selected by default, means the app will not report your position after you have backgrounded it.

Important Notes:

This new setting only applies when Active911 is in the background, it has no effect on the position reporting when the App is open, the Foreground GPS setting still controls that.

If you reboot your device, the Active911 app must be opened at least once before Background GPS will start working again.

Also, if you are ever stationary for more than a few minutes, the app will stop reporting your position until you start moving again. Therefore, you may disappear from the map, but then reappear when you start moving again.

 

Drag and Drop Map Markers

Long-pressing on a Map Marker will now allow you to drag the marker to a new location on the map.

Screenshot_20170704-154556

You can drag multiple markers, and then press “Save” to save the location of all the markers.

Important Notes:

If you drag multiple markers and press “Edit”, the edit screen will still be for the first marker you started dragging.  The same holds true for the “Delete” button.

This Drag and Drop control, as well as editing map markers, is being redesigned in an upcoming Android release to make it easier to use.

Sorting Responders View

In the responders view for an alert, you can now tap the button at the top of the view to toggle between sorting by the device name and sorting by the response type.

Screenshot_20170704-154354

Location Following

The last change made to the Android app is the way our “Follow My Location” feature works on the map.

Screenshot_20170704-161821

Previously, whenever you long-pressed on the “My Location” button on the map, it would pan and zoom to your location at a default zoom level, then pan to keep you location centered on the map.

This caused some frustration for users who wanted to be zoomed in to a specific level while having it follow them.

We’ve now changed it so that, upon entering “Follow My Location” mode, the map only pans to your location without zooming.

We know that some people do like the zooming functionality of the button, so we have left single-tapping on the “My Location” button the same.

To zoom to your location and have it follow you, you just need to single tap on the “My Location” button, wait a second for it to zoom to you, and then long-press on the button.

PC App Version 1.1.6 is Now Live!

We have just released version 1.1.6 of our application for desktop PCs! There have been some bug fixes including fixes to position reporting and issues with GPS logging. The GPS system has also been overhauled for improved accuracy when using external GPS devices. Now the PC app should have as good of an idea where you are as your phone does!

In addition to the bug fixes, we have added some new features. You can now clear all alerts easily from the settings window, and you can toggle the debug mode on in order to collect logs from the settings window.

If you have further questions about this version, please send them to our support team at support@active911.com.

Stay Safe!

iOS Version 1.5.15 – Background Location Reporting

Hey everyone, we just released iOS Version 1.5.15 to the App Store and I want to give you an overview of our latest feature, Background Location Reporting.

This new setting, “Background GPS” can be selected below the old GPS setting, which we have renamed “Foreground GPS”.

IMG_0001

There are 3 options available for this setting.

By default, this option is set to “Off”, so the app will behave as it always has unless a new option is selected.

IMG_0002

The first option that can be selected is “Precise Accuracy”.  This will likely increase battery usage by a fair amount, but will give the most accurate position and update the most frequently.

While “Precise Accuracy” is on, a blue bar will appear when Active911 is backgrounded, showing that Active911 is still broadcasting your position updates.

IMG_0007

The other option that can be selected is “Reduced Accuracy”.  This will use less battery, but also update less frequently, only triggering a position update if you have moved 500+ meters.

(For more technical information on the iOS feature we use for “Reduced Accuracy”, see this page)

While “Reduced Accuracy” is on, there will not be any indication to the user while the app is backgrounded since we are only accepting passive updates from iOS.

Important Notes:

This new setting only applies when Active911 is in the background, it has no effect on the position reporting when the App is open, the Foreground GPS setting still controls that.

Because of strict controls in iOS, the app must be opened once in order to initialize this kind of background reporting. This means that, if you reboot your device, the Active911 app must be opened at least once before Background GPS will start working again.

Also, if you are ever stationary for more than a few minutes, the app will stop reporting your position until you start moving again. Therefore, you may disappear from the map, but then reappear when you start moving again.

Website Improvements – Add a device to pagegroups from the device tab

Hello everyone!

Today we pushed an update to the website that should help with device administration. After talking with a few administrators, a source of pain was adding new devices and setting them up with the appropriate page groups. Previously, that required adding each device, then going to the groups tab, finding each group they needed to be in, and adding them.

With the updated website, you will be able to add/remove groups from the device when creating or editing it from the device tab.

PC App Version 1.1.3 Released

We have released Active911 for PCs version 1.1.3 today which contains the following improvements.

  1. Bug fix for the a disconnect issue causing the app to stop receiving alerts on some PCs.
  2. Bug fix for missing initial location.
  3. Bug fix for losing data when the app exits incorrectly via a force quit or crash.
  4. Bug fix for inaccuracies when using the ruler to measure distances.
  5. Removed everyone from list of pagegroups that can be joined.
  6. Added feedback when attempting to join or leave a locked pagegroup.
  7. Added improved logging in order to improve user experience. (We only receive logs when you manually sends them to us.)

Product Manager: March News and Updates

Hello everyone!

This month we have been working on a couple of cool features that we are not quite ready to announce yet. One of them is an integration and the other is infrastructure work that will make Active911 more stable and performant. I’ll go into more detail about the benefits and reasons for this infrastructure work in a future post, but we are investing much of our development effort into making our service able to survive anything short of a global catastrophe (and stay fast doing it).

While working on those two projects, we have also been working on squashing bugs, bringing the Windows apps up to speed, and giving the idea portal some much needed attention.
– We have a Windows PC release lined up for tomorrow, with another beta coming shortly thereafter. There will be a post about the new release once it is released.
– We have an Android Beta nearing release that has some bug fixes related to: switching device codes in the app, GCM registration errors, the alert title being stored as a response, and difficulty reading some pages in dark theme.
– We identified and fixed a bug in our current iteration of map data sharing where pre-plans and resources you should have been able to see were returning errors instead.

We have significantly upgraded our idea portal. It is directly linked to my workflow (making Active911 the best it can be through feedback and prioritization) and the steps we take to define features and requirements. As we proceed through the steps of making ideas and features reality, the portal will stay up to date and email you if anything you care about changes. It is fully searchable, has extensive filtering, and content suggestions to reduce duplicate entries. For an idea you choose to follow or vote on, you can see comments and receive updates as the idea flows through idea generation, planning, scheduling, and delivering. You will also be able to tell how likely an idea is to be picked up or offer suggestions when you think our assessment is wrong.

The portal has been set up to accept your Active911 username and password. It can currently be found at ideas.active911.com. For a few weeks, I would like our more involved community (twitter, forum, and blog readers) to give constructive feedback before we integrate it into the idea tab of the website.

In this initial stage, I’ve upped the number of votes each person has, from 2 to 10. The max a person can vote up an idea is 5 votes, so you can choose to vote heavily on two ideas or dabble with many different ideas. If you think any of this should be adjusted or tweaked, please leave feedback on the forum.

Upcoming:
Windows PC: In the upcoming beta we addressed difficulty in obtaining logs, poor GPS reporting while moving, and added a clear alerts button. We’ll also be working on adding a view for directions like the other clients have, which should make it into the beta after this one.
Windows Phone: Our Windows Phone is sluggish and overall not where it needs to be. We are correcting that and it is getting a lot of much needed work.
iOS: We’ve found a couple of bugs we are fixing for the next release, as well as reporting location while the app is backgrounded:
– Google Maps can cause the iOS app to crash when too many devices are present on the map at the same time. (If you are encountering this, apple maps will not crash)
– Responses are not properly saved when the app is starting up from being force closed OR background app refresh has been turned off. (If you are encountering this, leaving your app open in the background with background refresh on will resolve the problem until the next release)

Emergency Reporting: Thank you for all the feedback on the forums. We are still talking and figuring things out, but it looks promising.
Misc: After reading through all of the current ideas, there was a lot of feedback for additional icons and colors, as well as non emergency messages and custom ringtones/sounds. We’ll be thinking about how to do these. Feel strongly about which one should be first? Go vote!

CM Security AppLock AntiVirus disabling Android Notification tones

Within the last couple of months our Support staff has had numerous Android users contact them about their phones receiving Active911 alerts without audible notification. A majority of those users had an app called “CM Security AppLock AntiVirus” installed on their device.

Within the settings menu of that app is a “Notification Manager” option. One of the features of that option is titled “Notification Cleaner”, which you can use to set notifications for apps on your phone to “Don’t disturb”. If Active911 is on the “Don’t disturb” list, your phone won’t ring when you receive an alert through Active911. Android users not getting sounds on notifications should check to see if they have CM Security installed on their phone, and if they do, they should make sure that Active911 isn’t set to “Don’t disturb” within the “Notification Cleaner” feature of the app.

There are other security and anti-virus apps available for Android devices that might function in similar ways. If you have other security/anti-virus apps installed, we recommend checking the settings within those apps to make sure they aren’t blocking notifications from Active911.

Here is how to take Active911 off of the “Don’t disturb list”.
Here is a screen shot of the main CM Security menu. Use the icon on the top right with three horizontal lines to access the settings:
CMSecurity1

Here is a screenshot of the settings menu within the app, where you can find the “Notification Manager” option:CMSecurity2

Once you’ve selected “Notification Manager”, you will be taken to the following screen. Choose the gear icon near the top right:
CMSecurity3

On the following screen, make sure the “Don’t disturb” option isn’t turned on for Active911:
CMSecurity4