Happy holidays from everyone at Mobiata. If you are traveling, best of luck out there. If you are staying put, we hope you have a cozy holiday weekend.
We’re closing up the office for a few days to spend time with our families and loved ones. We’ll be traveling, too, so maybe we’ll see you in the security line.
As some of you know, FlightTrack turned 2 last week. It first went live on the iTunes App Store on November 17, 2008. What an amazing two years! You might also have caught that we recently released our biggest update ever as well: FlightTrack 4 and FlightTrack Pro 4 for the iTunes App Store and the Android Market. We refreshed the UI and added several new features, and we think it looks pretty amazing. We’re really excited to hear what you think.
To celebrate the success of FlightTrack over the past two years, we’re donating 20% of profits from FlightTrack and FlightTrack Pro on sales through November 23 to mercymedical.org. They’re a great organization and we’re happy to be working with them right before the holidays.
Another great part of the last two years is that our hard work brought lots of interest. People from the press wanted to write about us. Travel companies wanted to work with us to bring their brands to mobile. And one company asked us not only to work with them, but to become a part of their family. When we thought about it, it made perfect sense. We think Expedia has always been dedicated to giving travelers the best tools to help them travel and that’s our goal, too. As we talked more with them, we realized that our goals were aligned and that joining them would help us do exactly what we set out to do every day: help you travel smarter.
And so we’re incredibly excited to announce that we are becoming part of the Expedia family. Don’t worry, Mobiata will remain a separate brand and our team will continue working tirelessly to make apps that delight you. And yes, we’re staying in Ann Arbor.
Thanks again for your support over the past two years.
A FlightTrack user in Australia pointed out that the time zone info we show for Coolangatta Airport (OOL), also known as Gold Coast Airport, might be incorrect. The take off and landing times were correct, but the actual GMT time zone we show for reference had a potential issue. Since we are perfectionists at Mobiata, we looked into it and found something interesting. The problem is that the boundary between the State of Queensland and New South Wales runs directly through the middle of the runways so that one side of the airport is in daylight saving time and the other isn’t. The Coolangatta OOL terminals are on the Queensland side of the border and so have the GMT+10 time zone. We currently show GMT+11.
Image: Google Maps
It’s really a toss up about which time zone to show, but more importantly, we love hearing about these great facts of travel info from around the world. And we love getting emails from FlightTrack users about things that come up as they are using the app.
Keep the emails coming and travel safe!
The buzz around FlightBoard’s launch yesterday was amazing and we are really excited at the initial success. I wanted to give a little background on the app because it’s a cool story. Last Spring, when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano grounded flights in Europe, the New York Times ran some pics showing the effects on travelers. One pic really stood out to us. It showed the Arrivals and Departures board at Charles de Gaulle Airport with all the flights reading “cancelled.” While the news was tragic, the board had this beautiful look about it that conveyed so much about the romance of travel. We were a bit mesmerized by the pic.
Photo: The New York Times
The thing is, flight boards are such an iconic part of the travel experience. At their best, they are exceedingly functional and really well designed at the same time. Since that combination is the essential goal of everything we make, we decided to make an app that turned the iPhone and iPad screen into an actual flight board. It’s a simple idea but the goal was to craft the app in such a way that it had the elegance of the board at Charles de Gaulle and the functionality of a really great mobile app. Two of our engineers, Ben A. and Sebastian, spent a lot of time getting it just right. They obsessed over the details – the way the text flips, getting the glow on the font just right, making sure that the sharing features were easy to use but didn’t immediately detract from the design and so many more things. And the result is an app that we were really excited to release.
The more we play with FlightBoard, we find that we search for our favorite cities and start to daydream a bit looking at the all the flights taking off and landing at the airport. We think the app will be a great addition to your travel apps because it will not only help you easily monitor flights but it might also let you daydream a bit about your favorite travel spots.
We’ve launched some amazing iPhone apps over the past few weeks with some great companies. This is something you will see from us from time to time. We are dedicated to bringing you the best travel tools for your phone and sometimes that means working with incredible companies who have created really cool services for travelers.
The app that just came out last week is called FareCompare When-to-Fly Airfare Alerts and utilizes the FareCompare service to get you the best airfare travel deals possible. You can set alerts and get real-time info as airline prices drop on your favorite routes. It’s such a cool app because it lets people get instant access to amazing deals. To quote FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney, “You can’t carry your desktop in your pocket.” And that’s why the app is so amazing – it takes advantage of mobile. We’ve all signed up for alerts for our favorite routes and we hope you do, too. If you see us fumbling with our phones, we might not be checking emails – we might be booking a flight to Italy.
The other app we put out with a partner is the HomeAway – Vacation Rental Search app. HomeAway has over 230,000 properties in their database including properties all over the world. Vacation rentals are a great alternative for travelers who want more amenities and space for their money. We’re really excited by how easy it is to browse the properties, look at the pics, check out reviews and read detailed descriptions about the place. As we were developing the app, we would show each other pics and say things like, “Check out that hot tub!” We love how the app has a way of getting people excited about travel. We’re eyeing a few properties in the app – especially the beach ones. We think a big house by the beach with Wi-Fi might be a good way to get Team Mobiata together for a Q4 meeting.
We also put out an app with TRAVELCLICK™, the leading provider for ecommerce solutions for hotels, a few months ago. The app, StayHIP, has done really well and was even picked as one of the best travel apps of the year by Travel + Leisure magazine. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s a free search and book app for boutique hotels. The hotels are chic, swanky and the full screen pics shows them off in all their glory
We hope you’ll have a chance to download these apps and use them to book your next trip. We think they are pretty awesome and should give you more tools to make traveling easy and fun.
Let us know what you think and stay tuned for some really cool new apps in the very near future as well as some pretty amazing new features in FlightTrack, Flighttrack Pro, HotelPal and TripDeck. We’ve got a lot in store for you.
As always, there are lots of things happening at Mobiata, including one really big change – we’ve moved offices! Right now, we’re in the process of moving to the amazing, historic Nickels Arcade. If you are not familiar with Ann Arbor, Nickels Arcade is an 261-foot-long arcade built in 1918 and has a beautiful gallery roofed with a gable skylight with metal and glass panels. It’s been a key part of Ann Arbor since its completion, and we’re really excited to call it our new home. For those of you who keep asking about iPad versions of our apps and new features to our existing apps, you’ll be happy to know that Comet Coffee is near our office and with help from their amazing coffee, we’ll probably be up coding half the night. It’s so good, and it’s that strong. So watch out for a healthy dose of caffeine-fueled app updates!
One of the coolest parts of the new space is the decorations we’ve been able to get from our friends at the Detroit Metro Airport. We were allowed in to the old Smith Terminal of the airport to salvage some pieces for our new space. It was amazingly hot since there was no air conditioning — plus the occasional dead bird made the scavenge interesting — but Team Mobiata came away with some amazing objects for our new space. Here are some pictures of the mission.
So let us know if you are headed to Ann Arbor and maybe we can meet you for a cup of coffee at Comet, and we’ll show off Nickels Arcade.
As always, thanks for being part of the Mobiata community and for your continued support.
Thanks for reading our new blog! We’re having lots of fun and doing lots of awesome things here at Mobiata. We’ve just launched the FlightTrack FlightBoard add-on, which brings a beautiful Charles de Gaulle-style flight board to your iPad, and we’re working on some new partner apps as well.
In between making great apps, we do also take some time for fun. Check out this recent masterpiece from our summer engineering intern, Ben Asher. After hearing from our engineer Eric Garcia about CSS border hacks that let one do all sorts of vector drawing in CSS, Ben thought it would be cool to see if he could make the Mobiata logo in pure CSS — no images. Check out what he came up with!
First, I started with circle background. I used two divs with different background colors, one inside of the other, and they both have border-radii of half of the width and height (which are the same) to make the circles. I found a great tutorial on how to make css border-radius work in all the major browsers without images here: http://jonraasch.com/blog/css-rounded-corners-in-all-browsers. I used the same technique for the humps on the m, using one circle to punch-out another, and I added another rectangular div to hide the bottom half of the humps.
The vertical lines for the m are just rectangular divs. Keep in mind that everything you see here has the position property set to absolute.
Next are the arrows, which are a bit tricky. There are two triangles, which I made using the css border property. You can see how this works here: http://www.howtocreate.co.uk/tutorials/css/slopes. There is an outer triangle and a smaller inner triangle, which punches-out a hole in the outer triangle to create the arrow shape (similar to how I punched out the m hump shapes and the background circle shape). Then, I added two more triangles, one to each end of the arrow shape, which made the ends flat at a 45º angle. Basically, I’m using triangles to hide the ends of the arrow by making them the same color as the background.
Nice work! You can see the logo here: mobiata.com/m-test.html