Thursday, February 24, 2011

Locayta Search Mobile for iOS beta5

At Locayta we recently released beta5 of the Locayta Search Mobile full text search library for iOS.  This may be the last beta as we prepare for the 1.0 release soon.

Beta5 included the usual bugfixes and improvements to memory usage.  It also included a new feature that assists with search results display. The feature allows you to fetch the character ranges of all terms in a text field that were matched by a search result.

This feature isn't as simple as it sounds, due to the search engine's ability to infer relevant document terms by spell correcting, stemming or synonym expansion of query terms.  This means that terms matched in a document aren't necessarily the same as those in a query. The new character range fetching exposes this information so you can clearly highlight the term "test" in a document that matched the search term "testing", for example.

Here are some more examples.  Assume a note contains the line of text:

These notes are just for testing.

Each of these search queries would match this note by the highlighted terms:

  • "test note" : These notes are just for testing.
  • "test notr" : These notes are just for testing.
  • "I am not testing" : These notes are just for testing.
i.e. the same document terms were matched by each query, however in some cases stemming or spelling correction was required to get the match.

Another example: consider a note containing this line of text:

My Christmas list

With an explicit synonym defined to expand "xmas" as "christmas", a search for "xmas" would match the document on the term "christmas":
  • "xmas" : My Christmas list

Using the character range fetching feature for matching search terms gives you the information needed to highlight or find search terms in your documents.  This is demonstrated in Locayta Notes 2.0 (free in the App Store).  The screenshots above are from Locayta Notes, demonstrating the examples.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Locayta Notes 2.0

Locayta Notes on iPad
One of my primary projects for Locayta has been the development of the Locayta Search Mobile full text search library for iOS.  As part of that work I built a note taking / text editing app for iPad/iPhone that helped us show off embedded full text search on mobile devices. Recently I got the chance to add some significant functional enhancements to this app, which has now been released: Locayta Notes 2.0.

The biggest feature in Locayta Notes 2.0 is integration with Dropbox which will automatically sync all your notes across all your iOS devices.  Notes will also be accessible as plain text files in Dropbox on your linked computers. This feature has been extremely handy for me personally, which made Locayta Notes become my primary note taking app on my iPad & iPhone.

But that's not all, here's the full list of features in Locayta Notes 2.0:

 • Instantly search the contents of all notes using Locayta's embedded full text search engine, Locayta Search Mobile. Includes smart search features such as automatic spell correction, synonyms, stemming and context snippets.

 • Dropbox syncing to automatically sync notes between all your iPads, iPhones and computers.

Locayta Notes on iPhone
 • Customise the text colour, size & font per note. Change the default text style.

 • Full support for printing notes with AirPrint (iOS 4.2+).

 • Full iOS 4.0 multitasking. Search index updates and Dropbox syncing tasks will complete in the background if the app is closed.

 • Share notes via email without leaving the app.

 • Universal app for both iPad and iPhone.

 • Free and ad-free!

The last "feature" is important. Locayta Notes is and will remain free, as it helps Locayta promote the Locayta Search Mobile full text search library on iOS devices.

Get Locayta Search Mobile here. It is free to download and develop with.

btw, Locayta Notes 1.0 was open sourced on github, as a resource for Locayta Search Mobile developers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Janken Battle

Janken Battle: Paper beats Rock!
I recently released a novelty iPhone game to the App Store: Janken Battle.  It is a networked Rock Paper Scissors simulator. You connect to an opponent, either nearby with Bluetooth, or anywhere in the world by Game Center matchup. To play, simply shake the device 3 times, like the kids do in real life. The game handles the rest!  On the 3rd shake, a result is chosen for you and matched against your opponent's result to determine the winner.  The game keeps track of scoring until the end of 3 to 9 rounds.

The result (rock, paper or scissors) is chosen randomly, with equal waiting for the 3 choices by default as you would expect.  However, an option for "advanced" users (if you could call them that) allows you to change the percentages, skewing the result towards your preferred choice.  Or, select a result outright by swinging the percentage to 100% for that choice, leaving the others at 0%.

Janken Battle: Strategy control
This release of the game is really a prototype of an idea I had and a good excuse to play around with and learn the iOS Game Center & GameKit APIs. One of my goals is to see how many modern game features and technologies I can fit into a Rock Paper Scissors game!  It already has:

• Bluetooth wireless play
• Remote Internet play
• Live in-game voice chat
• Online Leaderboards
• Achievements

The graphics & sound (and let's face it, gameplay) are still fairly basic, just what I could put together to get a release out the door. I have a bunch of interesting ideas in mind which should really enhance the game and novelty factor, assuming I get a chance to implement them.  I will probably push them out incrementally as time permits. 

For now, Janken Battle is free, so no excuses not to grab it for a quick play. I have embedded iAds while I consider options for how best to monetize enhanced versions down the line.