I was just thinking about a case y’all have probably considered, so I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. What if you’re in a situation where you need to get someone talking right away but internet is unavailable and won’t be back for some time? Can you side-load the app from memory on the antenna? Maybe an android only Instant App? Or a text only (no map) webapp via browser?
I think downloading one via USB port locally is potentially a good idea down the line if there’s enough demand!
Add one to that demand. I think it is important for people to be able to load the app outside the app stores and without providing any identifying information. If journalist or activist are going to use this in hostile environments, they need to do so anonymously.
When the internet is out, Having the ability to load the app without using the store, Would be necessary to form ad hoc groups. It only takes 3% of users on a cell tower to over load it for Voice communications. 15% for data.
Agree, good idea. Local web server is even better (but more hassle to deliver, but would work for iOS).
When you say local Web server, do you mean in the form of a web app/mobile site so that nothing needs downloaded? If so, I love the idea, as that makes using GoTenna almost agnostic to hardware and OS (as long as it can do USB or Bluetooth and browse the internet, it should work). As for iOS devices, I just tested it, and they do support Bluetooth PAN (at least between an iPod Touch and a MacBook), so if GT Mesh can support the PAN profile and has the resources, then an on-board chat webpage would most certainly work, and it won’t need an app to be functional in emergency situations. Simply sign into the Mesh unit with your GID and start communicating. If you are first-time using GT Mesh, then the GID would be your phone number (would have to be honor system, as internet/cellular connectivity would likely be unavailable in this instance. Serval Mesh currently uses the honor system, but the phone number is basically for easy ID by other users).
Obviously, if you want/need more functionality such as maps, then you’ll need the app. However, if that won’t work/isn’t possible on current rev. hardware, then could the GT Mesh behave as a flash drive when plugged into USB and have the Android app available as a .apk file?
windows sees the gotenna as a unknown device. so usb communication is just a matter of a driver.
We have a USB SDK coming out late this year due to everyone’s demand
APK’s are not hard to find, google “gotenna apk” download it and share to other android devices over direct bluetooth file sharing. Easy.
For iOS, it’s much more complicated due to security, but you can compile and deploy “ad-hoc” applications directly from a Mac over USB to iPhones with no internet connection. However, you have to have the source code to compile, and there are some other limitations. Fortunately the API is available, so you can create and compile your own apps for iOS deployment pretty easily.
That said, Android phones are basically free compared to iPhones, so it makes more sense to just bring them with you and hand those out with gotenna’s. I could see Gotenna partnering with aid organizations to package together a pair of gotennas, small solar chargers, and $20 android phones with the app pre-installed to ship where communications are needed.
That’s why I recommended having a way to store the APK file on the GT unit itself, no internet access required (which is likely not a possibility anyway in a disaster situation) and it can be sideloaded easy. The Serval Project is looking into doing something similar with their mesh extenders.
iPhones, though, don’t have a similarly easy way if you don’t have internet access other than syncing them with a computer that has the app downloaded. I have a stack of iPhone 4s devices that I’m testing deployment on. A web app hosted by the mesh unit would bypass any issues with apps and could also allow computers (and phones like the upcoming Librem 5) to participate.
@MrTSolar a web app hosted by Mesh is a good idea. However, we have to evaluate performance trade-offs with this approach. Here are a couple to think about:
- BTLE bandwidth is too slow for a web hosted app. We will have to add WiFi – more expensive, uses atleast 3x more power.
- On smartphones, web based app user experience is inferior. This is the reason why almost all texting, mapping apps on mobile phones are still native applications.
What is the data throughput possible on the frequency used by the goTenna Mesh? Would a USB direct link be an option for higher data rates from the GT unit and the user’s device?
Data throughput with the Mesh protocol we currently use is pretty low - under 10 kbps, with latency >1 s. We are working on increasing this.
Between the Mesh unit and the phone, USB would offer much faster data rates (compared to Bluetooth). This approach would be better suited for stationary applications. Maintaining a wired connection can be painful, when a user is mobile.
Although I’ll need to do more testing, I just loaded the GoTenna V1 page on my iPod over a shared Bluetooth PAN connection from my MacBook in 2 minutes. Nintendo.com loaded in 40 seconds. The sites will also cache some items once a page is loaded (2nd attempt at loading Gotenna V1 took 40 seconds, and Nintendo took 3 seconds on 2nd attempt). Once that page is loaded, then it’s only the conversation data that is being transmitted over the Bluetooth connection.
I realize that yes, the experience isn’t as good, but my thinking is that even a slow-loading web interface beats not being able to communicate at all when the app can’t be downloaded. The iPhone is likely the most popular phone in terms of units sold, but it suffers a fatal flaw for off-grid use in that side loading apps are a real pain and almost impossible without an internet connection. Android, on the other hand, can easily side load an app as long as one copy of the APK file is available, as that file can be shared between phones and installed as-needed. The web app would serve as redundancy for the native app when the native app can’t be downloaded or installed.
@MrTSolar I think I can solve your quest very simply!
Gotenna can add to their online store three new offgrid setup options (paging @danielagotenna)
- A $5 microSD card with the Android APK. Boom, offline installation on any android phone in seconds.
- A pair of $19 android phones
- A solar panel and battery that can recharge one phone+gotenna in one day, allowing continuous use.
Then you can order from Gotenna a complete offline com setup delivered anywhere in the world and have it work out of the box. Pretty neat, huh? And zero new software/hardware development time required, so that the gotenna team can focus resources on improving existing mesh protocol, firmware, software, etc.
I am planning to use a DigiLand tablet which runs Android 6.0.1 but doesn’t support the GoTenna app officially from the Playstore. I have copy of the beta software that I was able to side-load without issue.
Is there a way we can get the current version of the software so I can side load it in?
I like the idea of being able to install the app directly from the Mesh. I think via USB might be the fastest setup or include an SD card like mentioned above. On some computer equipment I have installed, they had USB interface that has flash storage. Others had USB NIC with static IP’s and access via SSH (like the rPi). Flash would be a friendlier method for most users.
Now that iTunes no longer support Apps and Ringtones, iPhones now can copy offline apps & media from the computer using 3rd party apps (no jailbreak required). I have used WALTR for copying media, but don’t think it supports copying apps. There is an app entitled iMazing for copying apps and everything else, but I have not tried that one out yet. For media, WALTR works great. I’ll try out iMazing soon and let you know. If all goes well, both Android and iOS can install offline (well almost since iOS users will already need the iMazing app, unless that app is included on the goTenna).
Well, Apple just made offline app installs impossible with the latest iTunes update. They removed the apps functionality of iTunes completely.
Is the file signed? I’d prefer GoTenna have the app available for direct download and signed for verification.