Sunday, June 5, 2016

Benefits of Awareness

Today apps are more and more bound to the users context and developers seek for the way to provide a unique experience for each and every user.

One of the first apps that were designed to do so was Google Now a Google's smart mobile assistant that was meant to provide the user with information like weather, traffic, flight delays even before the user needs it.

To make this kind of apps, you need to be aware of user context. What is around him? Is it raining? What is he doing?

To answer these questions, you need to use sensors, a bunch of APIs and do it all in the background. It means that your app will drain the battery and affect the system health even if it's not accessed at the moment.

Bad influence on the battery life can be the cause of your app deletion from user's smartphone.

But these battery and performance optimizations can be a cause of pain for the developer. You need to develop the main idea of your app to make it clear and straight.

And here comes Awareness API.

As was said in my previous post I will tell you about what it is and how you can use it.

It didn't come out yet, but you can sign up for early access today and try it for your app.

What it is

As I said Awareness API was made to provide your app with information about the user's context.

It can give 7 different types of context like location, place, activity, time, weather, beacons nearby, and headphones status.

The nicest thing about the API that it manages its' impact on battery life automatically. So you only need to request the data about context and you can almost forget about managing system health when doing so.

The API itself consist of two distinct APIs that your app can use depending on how you want to use context information.

The first one is the Fence API

Fence API is like a watcher that will tell you when the event that you need to react to is happening. 

Generally, it looks like this, your app telling the API "hey, I need to know whenever my user is walking near a Whole Foods store", in this case, you use two types of context: activity and place. When the user's context match this conditions your app will be notified about it even if it's not running at the moment.

Using this information you can send a notification, for example, about a planned shopping trip.

And the Snapshot API

This API lets your app get information about the context that surrounds user at the moment.

In this case, your app is already performing some operations and then request the API, "Hey, I need to know what user is doing now and where he is". It can be useful for apps that store some kind of data produced by the user such as photos, videos, audio records etc. 

For example, you can request weather conditions and location for your photo app to make your gallery more convenient, classify photos by location or weather or kind of places (work, home, coffee shops etc.) they made at.

It also can be useful for analytics. You may want to know if what conditions your users use your app more often to make it better for this certain situations.

Types of context

Here are 7 types of context and what information they can provide
  • Time - this will provide you with current local time.
  • Location - this is the pure location on the map. Latitude and longitude.
  • Place - place and the kind of place (if can be identified).
  • Activity - accurately detected user activity like running, walking, riding a bicycle etc.
  • Weather - current weather conditions at the user's location.
  • Headphones - are headphones plugged in?
  • Beacons - namespace, type, and content of nearby beacons.

Using these you can build extraordinary apps and provide your users with content based on their current context and all this with minimalized impact on battery life and system health.

Share your use-cases in the comment section below.

This is all for today, see you next week, peace!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great Post!!
    That is a great API indeed. We can change our apps backgrounds matching to the weather conditions, eg. Rainy background for rains etc. Just like some weather apps do.

    I would really love to hear from you about other such wonderful APIs from google/ other players --APIs that help creativity of a dev touch heights.
    For eg. One such I know is Miscrosoft Emotion API ..

    1. First of all, Thank You!

      You are the first person who posted a comment on my blog.

      I'm glad that you liked this post and I hope I'm able to write something that you will like again.

      And your use-casе is great, I think it would improve the user experience and give your users emotions that will make them visit your app again and again.

      I'll do my best highlighting tools, techniques, and APIs that can make your and your user's experience better.

      And thank you for a suggestion, Emotion API looks interesting. I definitely will write about it after some investigation ;)

      Thank you, again!