September 1, 2014

Getting to Know Locale and the MIT Team Behind It

The application Locale is one that has to be admired for its simplicity.  It’s one of those programs that you wonder why it hadn’t been invented long ago.

We’ve seen programs that change ringtones, sound profiles, and turn on features like WiFi or Bluetooth before, but they’re all time-based.  If you have anything but a Monday-Friday 9-5 job, you know that this can be hectic and more of a hassle in your daily life. Sure, you can set your phone to go to loud rings at 5:01PM since that’s when you’re supposed to be off work, but what happens if you leave work early, or have to stay late?  Did you WiFi start searching 2 hours before you got home, unnecessarily draining your battery?

Locale offers a very compelling alternative by basing your profiles and more around your location.  Let’s say you work at random times because you’re in retail.  You never have the same shift from week to week, but you want your handset to go silent as soon as you get near work.  Once you’re out of the building, you’d prefer a loud tone with vibration alert.  With Locale, this is no problem.  Even if you left for an hour over lunch, it would adjust for you during that time.

There’s a great read over on xconomy that profiles the team of MIT students who helped create Locale.  They talk about the ideas that birthed it as well as where it can help to improve our lives.  It’s a 3 page read that’s somewhat detailed.  If you’re like me, you’re a fan of the behind-the-scenes stuff that this article has.

Other location based handset changes include, wallpapers, WiFi, GPS, and call forwarding and more.  Imagine being able to tell your phone to automatically silence itself at theaters, hospitals, funerals, and other places.  Such a small task, yet incredibly useful.  Locale can also be integrated with other programs to help those around you.

“We wrote a Twitter client that posts updates to your Twitter account based on whatever is going on with your phone.  Say you’re on a trip to San Francisco, and you want your family back home to know that you got there safely and you want your friends in San Francisco to know that you’ve arrived. As soon as you land and your phone detects that it’s in San Francisco, it can automatically post that fact to Twitter.”

The Locale team is asked whether or not they plan to make this app for the iPhone and it’s here where we find one of the fundamental differences between Android and Apple’s operating system.   Until that gets changed, look for programs like this, and many others, to draw interest to Android.