Is Lokki reporting your location wrong in your Android device?
Several of us in the Lokki team have started to notice that Lokki is reporting our locations wrong or with a delay in our Android phones. We are also getting feedback from you, the Lokki users about the same thing. We have been investigating the cause to this and we are working on a fix. The reason is a glitch in the Google Play Services framework, the technology underlying Google Maps and their other services. The Lokki app in Android phones is relying on this technology to tell where the phone is going (we do this in Google Android, and use a similar technology in Apple iOS, and also in the soon-to-be-released Windows Phone version of Lokki) because the operating system can decide what is the most battery-friendly way to get the most accurate location when the phone is connected to WiFi or cellular network or when it needs to use the GPS satellites for positioning. GPS is highly accurate especially outdoors, but it is eating more battery than WiFi and WiFi is not always available. Well, neither is GPS. If there’s neither GPS nor WiFi, then we use the cellular towers to detect where the phone is.
After a recent Google Play Services update, the operating system is no longer reporting the location in an accurate manner. We now understand the reason, also some other location app providers have noticed this, and Google is aware of the situation. Meanwhile, we are developing a workaround to this issue.
If you believe that Lokki is reporting your location somehow wrong, please start Google Maps in your phone, and see if it is showing your location to be equally wrong. If it is, then the current version of Lokki unfortunately cannot do anything about it.
A quick fix is to reboot your Android device and restart Lokki, but the Google service may stop working again after some days or weeks. So you need to reboot again! :-/
We apologize for the inconvenience and we are right now developing a new Android release of Lokki to fix this, overriding the platform functionality with our own code. Stay tuned!
Harri & the Lokki team at F-Secure, 17th of October 2013
Lokki welcomes iOS7 … about location accuracy … Windows Phone … and a glimpse into the future of “People and Places”
Wow. The Lokki team has been busy recently. We’ve got a new version out for the iPhone and we’ve submitted the first version of Lokki to the Microsoft Windows Phone Store for approval. During last weekend we had about one thousand new people joining Lokki in the Netherlands. We’ve been listening to users’ feedback from across the planet and working hard to make Lokki better. A big massive thank you all!
1. Lokki welcomes iOS7
Apple recently released the new iOS7 operating system version for the iPhone and iPad and more than half of Apple users have already upgraded to this new version. Some underlying functionalities in iOS7 changed substantially from the previous versions and Lokki was not able to run reliably in the background, and many Lokki users have been seeing Lokki to complain about this. A new version of Lokki is now out and these annoying messages are finally history!. This version works both in iOS7 and in the older Apple operating system versions. We are eager to hear your feedback on how it works in your iPhone.
Tip of the day for iPhone users: after you start your phone, you should start the Lokki app manually. In the iPhone there is no way to make an app like Lokki to start automatically after you start the phone.
2. Location accuracy … and what does it cost
Sharing accurate location information is key for Lokki. The value of the app goes down if it’s telling me that my family members or friends are in the wrong places or if the locations are updated with a long delay. Lokki works by asking the smartphone operating system the current location — this takes place about every 10 minutes or less frequently if the phone knows that it has not been moving around. The phone itself will get its location from GPS satellites, from the neighboring WiFi networks, or from the cell phone towers around you. GPS is the most accurate way to position the phone, especially when the phone is outdoors, but it does consume quite a lot of battery. WiFi is more energy-efficient and works usually quite well in indoors. By the way, did you know that the mobile operating systems of Google, Apple and Microsoft actually know and collect the locations of the WiFi networks around us… If GPS or WiFi is not available, then the phone can calculate its approximate location by knowing the locations of the neighboring cell phone towers.
When we started to build Lokki, we had a number of people using early test versions of the app, and we got a lot of feedback of the battery consumption being too high. Now we have been improving this side of the app, and at the same time we have started to hear some people to complain about the location accuracy getting worse. This is actually a real challenge for us — or for any mobile app developer — since we cannot change the laws of physics. Knowing your accurate location will consume more battery. We are actually right now working on a new functionality to Lokki that will allow you to switch between better location accuracy (but somewhat higher battery consumption) and lower battery consumption (but somewhat lower location accuracy too).
We are continuously working to improve both but with this new functionality you will be able to balance the Lokki behavior yourself. How would you feel about this — just let us know!
3. The future of “People and Places”
We’ve been calling Lokki the “People and Places” application. It’s not your traditional “family tracker” app because family tracking is not something many people want to do — just ask yourself, would you like to feel you are tracked by someone? A year ago we started to envision a mobile app you could enjoy using as part of your daily life, an app that would let you know that things are fine with your closest people, be it your family members or close friends. An app that helps you to juggle your day, when you are communicating and coordinating the daily schedules with your kids or spouse or friends. We talked with people and learned that friends are really important — hey, even people working at F-Secure have friends! — so we added support for friends in Lokki. The app works now so that you can share your current place with your family members and you can see when your friends are nearby.
What we have now heard is that many people would prefer more flexibility in Lokki; they may have parents-in-law they’d like to add to Lokki, but often you don’t want to share everything with your parents-in-law, or they would like to have a separate group for friends they are seeing every Friday night to sing karaoke with, or they belong to a floorball team and they’d like to have a chat group with the other players to coordinate schedules.
After some design exploration we have developed a plan to revise the Lokki functionality so that instead of having one group called “Family” and another limited-functionality group called “Friends”, we will be giving all Lokki users in the future the capability to create separate groups that will all have the places-sharing capabilities of today’s “Family” group. We are currently thinking that all users could create three groups maximum, and perhaps some day you could buy additional storage from F-Secure to have even more groups. We plan to roll out this functionality in November for Lokki users and we will be telling more about this in a couple of weeks.
Out of the current Lokki users, only a fraction have more than one friend invited, and we felt that we can make this change without annoying you too much. This change will simplify the usage of Lokki while giving more power to all users. To prepare for this change we have now removed the “+” button from the Friends dock so that new friends cannot be added any more. We decided to block the new friends invitations because in the new Lokki version we probably should not automatically create a group for these friends — you may have invited people who are your friends but perhaps not friends with each other, and we should not place them in the same group where they would automatically see each other’s whereabouts. The November release of Lokki will allow you to invite friends again and place them in groups, as you wish, and the functionality will be richer than today, yet easier to use.
We would be happy to hear your thoughts so please let us know how you feel about this — email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
4. Tip of the day: How to check if your kids are safely playing somewhere in the neighborhood
How do you know if your kids are nearby? You can create a place around your house or park or some other place, and increase the default size of the place. Just select the place in your Lokki home screen, press the Edit button (it looks like a pen), and scroll down to see the “Size of the place” button. Press the button to change the radius (or diameter?) of the place until it feels right. Now when your kids are within that area and they have Lokki running in their phone, you can see them in that place on your Lokki home screen.
5. Last but not least: Lokki for Nokia Lumia and other Windows Phones
We have submitted the first Lokki app version for Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store approval and hopefully we will get the app approved and released in the very near future. When it is out, we will make appropriate noise about it. The availability of Lokki for the Windows Phone platform has been the #1 question we’ve heard of users. Windows Phones have a sizable and growing market share e.g. in Finland where a big number of the early phase Lokki users reside, so it is highly understandable that people are asking for Lokki for that platform. The first version of Lokki will run on Windows Phone 8 devices. There were substantial changes by Microsoft between WP7 and WP8 and the current Lokki app will only work on WP8.
6. One more thing: Finland
F-Secure Lokki is designed and developed in Finland, in the F-Secure offices in Helsinki and Oulu. Finland is a cool country that in 2012 topped the list of the world’s least corrupt nations and this year it topped the Reader’s Digest list of most honest cities in the world. Association for Finnish Work who promote the appreciation of Finnish work in Finland and globally recently awarded F-Secure Lokki with their “Design from Finland” symbol. How cool is that?
Thank you all!
Harri and the Lokki team, 11th of October 2013
New version of Lokki published!
Hello friends of Lokki!
And thank you! F-Secure Lokki went live a week ago and after the weekend we had more than thousand users in Lokki, the first personal location sharing and messaging app for family and friends. When writing this blog post Lokki is the number two free iPhone app in iTunes Finland in the Lifestyle category. Move over, Big Mac… So thank you, friends of Lokki!
We’ve received a lot of feedback from all over the world and many of the things that have been bugging some of you are already fixed in this new release. Constructive criticism is always useful but we must say we are also very happy to read messages like:
“Lokki solves the problem of balancing between collaboration and control in very easy to use manner, providing me the pulse of my family members without anyone feeling spied on. I had no problems to sell the concept to my teenage son, as it reduces the need to send text messages while he shuttling between the school, home and hobbies. Lokki was incredible easy to take into use and for such a young product it does it’s job surprisingly well.”
It makes you feel kind of humble to read this, knowing that this was not a paid advertisement but that person really means this.
Anyway, about the key new things in this week’s release:
1. Lokki now supports Family and Friends, and not only Family
Our original idea for Lokki had two groups of people: the inner circle and the outer circle. We decided to call them Family and Friends, for simplicity. Family is to many people the group of the very dearest people, and Friends are often a bit less intimate. We know that last week many early users were struggling because they had invited both their real family members and their friends or colleagues to Lokki, and all these people showed up in the same list. Well, now it is fixed. Your Family members won’t see your Friends, and your Friends won’t see your Family members. By default you don’t share your detailed location with your Friends, but we have added a special Place called “Nearby” that will show you the Friends who are within 500 meters from where you happen to be, unless they have decided to go undercover. You can share your detailed location to them if you want, of course. In Lokki you can have 10 Friends maximum, you can chat with one of them, or with all of them as a group, and all this is free for you this year and also after this year!
2. It is now more convenient to add places
We heard from several people that it would be nice to be able the set up the Places in Lokki when you are conveniently at home or in the office. Last week you had to be in the exact location to create a new Place. Now in this new version you can type in an address and Lokki will create the new Place in that address.
3. “Put aside logic. Do what feels right.” — Mr. Spock
What we saw and heard is that many people did not really understand the logic behind invitations to a family. Many people understood that inviting people is the same as requesting membership in a family. Consequently, we received a number of bug reports from people who thought that they had invited their spouse into Lokki and the end result was that they had lost the Places they had already created in the system! Friends of Lokki, we feel so sorry because our logical design managed to confuse you! Now we have fixed the problem so that if a single person invites or accepts invitation from another single person to a Family, we make them into a Family of two, and show all the created Places in the new Family. However, if you are already a member of a family, you first have to leave the current Family before you can join a new one. In this case you lose the places you have created in your previous family.
4. Silence is golden
We decided to hide notifications of your own movements by default. You can still switch them on if you want, but now there’s less noise coming from Lokki when you are moving from one place to another. You don’t need a mobile app to tell you that you have just arrived home, right?
What else? We have also fixed some real software bugs, usability glitches, terminology hick-ups, and redesigned some graphical elements to look more pleasant and be easier to understand.
So what happens next? As we got so many requests from you guys, we are now working on a Windows Phone 8 version of Lokki. We are also adding new languages for the Lokki app. Now we support English, Finnish, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. We are also working to make the messaging more beautiful and more secret. Soon it will also be possible to share from Lokki to Facebook, but do not worry, we will never share your whereabouts or your data to any third parties behind your back.
Enjoy Lokki with your Family and Friends, and stay tuned.
Harri and the Lokki team, 26th of August 2013
Has Julia arrived home?
Welcome to the Lokki blog! This is the first blog post from the Lokki team and we wanted to tell you a bit about our new application and why we created it.
Our lifestyle has become more hectic than ever. Luckily, our mobile devices have made it easier to keep in touch with people around us. However, most of the communication with the closest circle is still about asking people where they are. As smartphones are constantly updating our location it seems a bit old-fashioned that we still need to call others to know where they are. Sometimes we may be in a meeting and we cannot call our children but would still like to know that they are in the right place at the right time.
That is why we created F-Secure Lokki. We wanted to offer people the possibility to have a quick view into the whereabouts of their family members. And when we say family, we do not restrict the term to the traditional families with parents and children but it can mean just any small group of people who consider each other as the closest circle. And when we say whereabouts we do not mean the actual location on a map but the real-world places where they are, such as home, school, work, beach or the favorite restaurant. We thought that it is more relevant in real life to offer people the possibility to create their own personal places and show their most important people in those places. If your children are at school, you might not call them as you already know that they are not able to pick up the phone. However, when they have left school it might be a good time to give them a call. And yes, Lokki lets you know when they have left school and have arrived home without them to need to check in or check out. Unless they decided to go undercover, of course. We know that nobody wants to be spied on. That is why we built Lokki primarily around people and places but also offered people the possibility to hide their whereabouts whenever they want to do that.
Harri and the Lokki team, 14th of August 2013