Sunday, July 10, 2011

Serenity Carb Counter Released on Android

The Serenity Carb Counter was released on Android four weeks ago. It is available here. I am currently working on additional features and the Windows Phone 7 version. My friend is currently writing the iPhone version as well.

I am happy to see the installation count approach 250 installs after one month. The Android Market rating system has been having issues, and I have received emails from users saying their reviews are not posting. The sales also originally slowed early on due to an initial two-star negative review. I am happy with the first version, but I look forward to adding additional features to improve the ratings. Please answer the poll on this blog to let me know what I should focus on for the next version. Also feel free to send me  any feedback.

Here is what I am currently focused on:

Improve the Foods Database
The database is hosted in the Windows Azure Cloud, so it is reliable hosting. Microsoft guarantees 99.95% availability which amounts to approximately 5 minutes of maximum downtime a week. To host it in this cloud, it is more expensive, but I think it is worth it. I want the users to always be able to look up foods without an issue. The initial negative review pointed out that the database is lacking a lot foods, specifically the Atkins branded products.

I am already preparing to update the back end to support the additional foods; however, the Android application will also have to receive an update. Atkins products heavily rely on Sugar Alcohols. The current database I use is published by the US Department of Agriculture, and it does not track sugars alcohols, so I had to add a column to the database. I will also have to propagate this change to the web service and Android application.

Allow Users to Submit Foods to the Global Database
I have decided to utilize a Web 2.0 style architecture, and allow the users to grow the global database. The Manual Entry activity will include a "Submit to Global Database" check box. Selecting the check box will enable additional fields, allowing you to submit the entry to the global database. This will also improve the size of the Foods Database.

OCR (Optical Character Resolution) Food Input
I will explain why I don't want to do UPC scanning in another post, and why I like OCR better. Microsoft Research has a hosted OCR service already. I would like users to be able to take a picture of the Nutrition Facts label on their phone, and then the application would read the carbohydrate information from it automatically. I am currently investigating this solution; let me know if this feature sounds particularly awesome.

Your feedback keeps me motivated to continue adding features, so please let me know what you would like to see added.

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