iPhone Testing: 2G
C. Christian and A. Conti, December 2009.
The intent for the original iPhone procurement and use was primarily
testing of applications relevant to astronomy and any other productivity tools
to support STScI personnel in their functional work in support of Hubble Space Telescope (HST), James Web Space Telescope (JWST),
Community Missions Office (CMO), and outreach. At the time, the Blackberry Pearl was being favored
by JWST. The comparitive functionality was in question especially since
many individuals at STScI were unfamiliar with the iPhone and had not been
exposed to the power of the applications suite.
We intended to gain experience with new technologies, and
in the case of the iPhone, with publicly available applications, giving us particular expertise relevant to use of mobile devices for astronomy and
outreach. We then are in a good position to make recommendations to various interested parties regarding applicable technologies, in concert with commentary from STScI's computer support personnel. A secondary goal was to understand if we could develop applications
for the iPhone if resources could be allocated
to us to accomplish such work.
It should be noted that this was the first phase of our work. Many of the applications we found useful are superceded by the new operating systems and new models of the iPhone as well as greater capability with the camera, GPS and other features.
- Tested applications with the newer (at the time) operating systems (version 2 and 3) that
made applications development more feasible and reduced the necessity to
jailbreak the OS.
- Initially tested applications available from Apple (early operating system) and also applications that only ran on the "jailbroken" device. All these were superceded when Apple opened the architecture and the applications migrated to the newer operating system for the iPhone, making jailbreaking less necessary.
report of inventory of iPhone capabilities and comparison to Blackberry
"Pearl" (in use on JWST ~2007). Capabilities specific to astronomy and technical
productivity were highlighted (such as support of JWST change control requests).
A recommendation was produced. The paper was circulated, and in particular,
provided to JWST management.
- Tested camera for acquisition of sky images. Purpose - to test feasibility of "point,
shoot, and identify" with iPhone and sky applications. (original iPhone had
insufficient positioning and resolution. Newer iPhones have much improved camera
and actual GPS locator. Accelerometer for positioning has been improved.
- Tested Starmap application (pocket planetarium type software. Only 4G version
has point and identify feature)
- Tested StarWalk application (works fairly with original iPhone, requires 4G for full
functionality - new versin has Star Spotter capability and Wikipedia links) Integrates real imagery into the interface. Visually stunning.
- Tested SkyVoyager (planetarium software. Application now works with 4G and
improved GPS accelerometer to locate position in sky for field identification. 4G
version now has links to ADS, Tycho and other catalogs).
- Tested MoonMap (Moon exploration) Basic data interesting, higher resolution copies require
- Tested Google Sky browser. Works
- Tested Google Mars browser. Works
- Tested NASA App (links to missions, events, news. Very basic links to NASA features.
- Tested APOD viewer. Simple, works fine.
- Testing pocket VO Event app. Works, needs some technical expertise.
- Testing LSST event server app. Application in Beta testing before general release.
- Testing accessing astronomical video/audio podcasts
- Testing twitter, facebook, other social networking tools (to advice HST and JWST
offices on use)
- Tested HubbleNewsFeed twitter feed. Successful
- Tested mobile scheduling software (productivity)
- Tested various location and mapping tools (productivity). Many extremely helpful applications exit for
identifying locations, finding specific items. GPS mapping apps available for paperless travel - work better on 4G.
- Tested various travel support tools. Invaluable for travel - airlines schedules, maps, metro maps,
bus routes, online check in, boarding pass flight status, car finding, etc.
- Tested timecard entry (productivity). Works.
- Tested using iPhone as remote computer control device (productivity). Works great.
- Applications for the original iPhone with the original operating system could only
be developed for "jailbroken" devices. This is with the knowledge of both AT&T and Apple
and in no way violated any contracts or agreements regarding these devices.. Tested "jailbroken"
iPhones and the plethora of new applications made available by developers for jailbroken devices.
These applications were quickly converted to Apple supported applications once Apple
opened the developer space with version 2 of the operating system.
- Prototype applications to browse sky images (DSS, SDSS, HST) using the iPhone API.
This application prototype work started when there was no map available for the iPhone.
Complex (more than week-ends) development stopped the process
- Developed proposal to Google and to Apple regarding support of application
development (interested, but no funding)
- Initiated migration of "Pocket VO" from full browser to mobile support -
developer reassigned midstream
iPrize to obtain grass roots development support