Last Sunday I headed out for a 3-day business trip to Southern California. So as any good Palm Pre/Pixi owner would do, I checked out the travel apps available on the Palm App Catalog as well as the Homebrew apps on PreCentral.net.
With the half-price sale on the App Catalog, I just couldn’t turn down buying and testing out a few of the available apps (such as FlightPredictor and FlightView). One app that I couldn’t find, was one that would tell me how much longer it would be before I’d arrive at my destination while in flight. Of course, I can’t use Google maps or any of the other navigation apps since I’m not suppose to have the cellular signal on my phone turned on (and thus can’t make an Internet connection to download maps). What I wanted was an app that would take my current GPS coordinates from my phone and calculate the remaining distance to my destination coordinates, and also roughly tell me how longer it would be before landing.
So I decided to create one myself! I started up the Eclipse IDE on my Windows 7 machine and created a new project, then proceeded to build up my new app. It was very simple to create, as it only contained a single page (scene) with one button labeled “Update Data”. I then tied the click event to that button to a function that called the GPS Service API to get some GPS data (velocity, coordinates, time) and display the data on the screen. Very simple, and easy to create.
To test it, I hard-coded the coordinates of my destination airport and drove around in my car to view the output. I also turned on “Airplane Mode” on my phone just to make sure the GPS data wasn’t coming through the cellular connection. Sure enough, it seemed to calculate my speed and distance accurately. Cool!
However, during the real test on the airplane it didn’t perform so well. It seemed that even though I was in the air, my Pixi’s GPS receiver couldn’t pick up any GPS signals raining down from the satellites above. I suppose the plane may be shielded enough from the GPS signals for my Pixi to read (it would be an interesting test to take a real GPS navigation device on the plane and see if it can receive the GPS signals).
So, my grand plan of using a simple WebOS app for tracking my flight location was a bust. But that’s ok, as I’m sure I’ll find other possible uses for the Pixi’s GPS receiver… 🙂