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Location & Search Assist — 2016

With so many apps for so many different things, we often forget the ones that might be most helpful throughout the day. “Ah, I forgot to pay with my Starbucks app to get points”. “Oh, there’s an online coupon for that?” Or, when arriving in a new country at the airport, “How do I get around?”, or “Where’s my hotel?”.

Location and search based suggestions

Concept
Create a mobile service that anticipates the apps and information you might need based on your location, and surface them in a useful manner. We also explored ways to predict what you might search for at any time of day. If I go surfing every Saturday morning at the same spot, it would be nice if the surf report was super easy to access. Stepping out for lunch, restaurant suggestions similar to ones I already frequent could be helpful.

Location aware & search assist prototype

Team and my role
This project began with just a few people exploring how we could actually enable this type of thing, and to learn what our limitations would be. I was part of initial conversations and lead design from early concepts, to prototypes, and an internal release of the product.

Early Android & iOS builds to test functionality & gather data to train the system

Constraints
We initially wanted to create this service for both Android and iOS but ended up focussing on Android only because we could scale through our OEM (device manufacturer) partnerships that were already in place. We were also very aware of the annoyance factor that this type of product could have. Send a notification too early or late, and our service could go from being helpful to annoying very quickly.

Possible notification types

What we learned
We started seeing this same functionality on clean Android installs. It was clear that we could not scale as quickly as Android could on their own platform, so we decided to move on to other things. The engineering team learned a tremendous amount around mobile location, using a combination of GPS + SSID data to very accurately determine where you are.

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© Bryan Sleiter & SweetLabs Inc. 2018