Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MissingLight 2.0 for BlackBerry

I released version 2.0 of my MissingLight BlackBerry app a few weeks ago. This blog entry provides the background for this release.

MissingLight was my first app, written to scratch a particular itch. Specifically, I was surprised that my BlackBerry, which blinks its famous LED for incoming SMS, email, voice mails etc, lacked a blinking alert for missed calls. So I wrote an app that provided exactly that missing light, except that I made it purple for fun. That was MissingLight 1.0. Over time, I discovered more "itches". Responding to those "itches" resulted in MissingLight 2.0.

The next little annoyance I discovered was when I finally got myself a charging cradle. The screen goes black while it sits there charging: since I could not see the battery indicator, how would I know when it is fully charged? I could find a way to force the screen to stay on (see the next feature), but that would increase the power consumption and charging time. I decided to once again use the LED: it would blink yellow when the battery is charging. When charged, it would either turn off or switch to the usual green network coverage blinker. If I missed a call while it is charging, the LED would alternatively blink purple (missed call) and yellow (charging). So now I had a charging light: another missing light added.

The third annoyance I noticed was the limited time that the screen would stay lit. I noticed this while reading an etext one day: I was using a really tiny font so I did not always finish reading a page before the screen went black on me. The maximum time my BlackBerry would let me leave the backlight on unattended was a miserly 2 minutes. Phooey. I decided to add a feature where you could force the backlight on in 15 min increments. Keyboard shortcuts made it easy to very quickly increase the time or cancel the backlight function. I wanted to be careful: this sort of behavior can quickly drain your battery. As a precaution, MissingLight will detect when the phone goes into standby, such as when you put the phone into its holster. Once the phone goes into standby, MissingLight cancels the remainder of the force backlight time.

I also added a few other enhancements to MissingLight in response to customer feedback:
  • People wanted the missed call alert to last longer than the standard BlackBerry limitation of 15 min. I made it last indefinitely (the LED does not use much power).
  • Lots of people wanted to modify the color of the LED, so I provided the ability to change the default purple and yellow colors. I even included a button to instantly blink-test the selected color. The BlackBerry's LED color rendering is not very accurate, so being able to test it is handy.
  • I've seen people complain about some runaway alert keeping the LED blinking. Adding a reset LED button was easy enough. 
All these new features have expanded MissingLight's feature set quite a bit. Ultimately though, it remains an app that adds "missing" functionality to your BlackBerry. The features are all light-related, so the original name of "MissingLight" still fits. I hope lots of people find these features as useful as I have.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! It’s an excellent app. Can it work on BlackBerry Storm 9550? I want to purchase it and tell me the price of this app. I want to get the genuine “Missinglight 2.0” app.