Compass by – The biggest location checkin app on Android, still under the radar

Just behind Twitter and ahead Foursquare, Compass by is one of the most widely installed and highly rated apps on Android. Until now it’s been under the radar.

The point of Compass is to help you find your way. Yes, it starts with a variety of actual compass designs to choose from that point North with as much accuracy as your phone’s magnetometer will allow.

The real power of Compass, however, is to make it easy to save and retrieve places that are important to you together with your geo-tagged notes.

Compass was developed by, and it integrates seamlessly with the Catch Notes application on Android to enable you to attach notes to locations. When you take a note from Compass, the note is automatically populated with your current address and other data gathered from the phone’s sensors.

After you attach a note to a location, you can also add photos and soon a voice note.

Use Compass to annotate your world. Then when you want to find your way back to your important places and recall what you were thinking at the time, Compass points you toward them.

Compass ranks in the top 25 apps on Android, out of over 100,000 apps in the market. As of today, Compass has been downloaded over 8 million times, and is installed on nearly 5 million Android phones according to the Developer Console where Google reports Android Market data to developers. Most Android developers keep this data a secret, but we decided to let you in on how we track installs and usage of our app.

But just being installed on a phone doesn’t mean that people actually use it. That’s why we use Google Analytics Mobile to understand how many people actually use Compass and which features get used the most. Google Analytics shows aggregate usage data that cannot be linked with users. We use this summary data to help understand and prioritize our development tasks.

In December 2010, Compass had 1,762,328 Absolute Unique Visitors according to Google Analytics Mobile. This makes Compass one of the biggest location checkin apps in the world. Despite the many Compass users, the app has been under the radar because Compass helps you track your private places and notes, and there is no push to share your location or geo-tagged content as there is in most other checkin apps. No one can see your checkins and notes unless you decide to share them.

If you use Compass and you have any thoughts and ideas for the product, or if you would like to share a story about how you use it on your Android phone, please leave a comment. If you don’t have Compass, why not give it a try?

Health 2.0 Developer Challenge — Move Your App!

Great innovation starts with great problems, and there is no shortage of great problems in healthcare.

One of those problems is couch potatodom.

Earlier this year Jamie Oliver challenged us to help him create a movement to fight obesity. We responded by partnering with HopeLab to challenge mobile software developers: Can you build an Android app that burns calories?

We called the developer challenge “Move Your App!”

In Phase 1, Peter Ma was selected by a panel of judges for “Pickup Sports” among a very competitive field with some great finalists. Peter was invited to TED Oxford where he showed his app.

We then expanded the challenge with Health 2.0 to allow teams of developers who missed the first round to enter their ideas. The winner was just announced this week at Health 2.0.

When Anthony Lai and James Yang got an email about Move Your App from the Stanford Computer Science department, they responded by dropping the class project the were working on, and started building Happy Feet, location-based exercise tracker with built in incentives and social connections.

To download and try out Happy Feet, the Health 2.0 challenge winning app, click here.

Snaptic at SF New Tech

At the SF New Tech Mobile event in San Francisco on May 5, Andreas Schobel and I had another chance to present the Snaptic notes technology and some of the developers we are working with in the Android market.

When we presented at SF New Tech the first time in 2009, we were a simple notepad app for Android smartphones. Then we found a way to add value to dozens of other Android apps as a note-taking function that developers easily could call and integrate using three lines of code. We used our 15 minute presentation at SXSW 2010 to highlight some of the top developers in the Android market that are working with us.

Three million active installs later, we have published our API and are becoming a notes platform, in the cloud and on smartphones, designed to make it easy to capture information that is important to you personally. Where Twitter is for content you want to promote to the world, Snaptic is a more personal space for information and data that you want use to improve yourself in some way. We make easy to capture what matters and make that information more useful by innovating in how we use context and semantics.

At SF New Tech this time around, we introduced our Move Your App! Android Developer Challenge. We brought together partners like the TED Prize, HopeLab, and KidsHealth to make it really worthwhile for developers to come up with Android apps that promote and track physical activity. The developer who can convince the judges that his or her app will get people off the couch and burn the most calories could win a trip to TED Global 2010 in Oxford.

Augmenting Your Brain With Android — Steve Brown's Presentation at SXSW

Last month, I had the chance to speak at South By Southwest 2010 — 15 minutes of fame in the Future 15 mobile track of the world’s hippest interactive conference. I was invited to talk about the Android ecosystem, where Snaptic is a leading developer with over 2 million active installs of our note-taking and geo-tagging applications. Here’s my presentation, entitled “Augmenting Your Brain With Android.”

SXSW started as a music and film festival, but has emerged as one of the biggest affairs for the Internet and new interactive technology. Since tech turned the music industry on its head and is in the process of disrupting the film business as well, it makes sense to combine tech with film and music. 2010 also was the first year SXSW had a track dedicated to mobile, which also makes sense as we enter another phase shift with the next billion connections to the internet coming through smart mobile devices.

With such powerful, always on, always connected technology in our hands around the clock, we posed the question of what this means for our brain. How can we use smart mobile technology to become smarter in managing the increased flow of information? With the flood of content generated by others people and important to other people, what is happening to the content that is most important to us?

Snaptic is developing technology to augment your brain, and we are looking to the brain for design inspiration. There are no database schemas, no tables with rows and columns, in your brain. Instead, your brain is a vast network of synaptically connected notes that grows and evolves as you capture and connect information that is important to you.

The information model for Snaptic note-taking applications is a network of interconnected elements of data, retaining and using context so that your notes make more sense and are easier to find with less effort. We have opened our notes platform to developers, making it easy to capture and connect information from any app.

We can’t do it alone, which is why we are open-sourcing more of our technology every day and inviting more developers to work with us to create a new information space designed like the brain and for the brain. Check out to follow our open source projects, and check out for information on our upcoming developer challenge and developer conference.

3banana for Android: Private Notes & Lifestreaming Online and On The Go

3banana Notes has been nominated as one of the best Organization & Productivity applications for the new Google Android smartphone!

3banana is a notebook that you can keep on your phone and on the web at On your computer, clip stuff from the web or jot stuff down on your private 3banana page, and you also have it handy on your phone. Take a note or tag a photo on your phone, and you also have it organized on your computer. Your notebook is private, but you can selectively share and discuss pages from your 3banana notebook with your friends, like notes about books, restaurants, or wine.

3banana is free and simple to use. It functions like a private blog or private Twitter. We have been adding lots of new features to the Android smartphone app, like hashtags for organizing your ideas, barcode scanning and printing so you can connect virtual notes to physical objects, and easy sharing with Twitter and Facebook.

For a little more detail on 3banana, here’s my presentation from our launch at the Dow Jones Wireless Innovations conference on March 17, 2009. I presented some examples of how you can use 3banana to organize information and notes around the home and attach virtual notes to objects using your own personalized scannable QR Codes, or two dimensional barcodes.

Next up, I will be speaking at CTIA, the International Association of the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, at the Wireless I.T. & Entertainment conference in San Diego, October 7-9, 2009. My talk is in the Mobile Healthcare Track. An easy to use mobile journal comes in very handy if you are tracking your health, especially when you make it less work, more useful, and easier to share with services on the web. Look for some special new features at CTIA on October 7, 2009!