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Mobilesketch/field Sketching

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RNMOVR

Sophomore Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Louisiana
I figured it has been long enough since I asked this in a previous post, but what options are out there for appraisers that want a more compact field sketcher. I am currently using a Samsung Galaxy Tab4 7.0 and still am not thrilled about the cumbersome nature of this tablet while trying to hold a tape, crawl in bushes, fight off wasps, jump fences, etc. I refuse to use any non-apex products as they are all extremely inferior (imo) given the way measure. I loathe the size of my Tab4 so much that I have regressed to using my ancient Windows Mobile device running MobileSketch. It fits in my pocket, easily held in one hand and the battery last a hell of a lot longer than any tablet I've owned. Unfortunately today I had to put my WMD to rest. I have a backup WMD but can't seem to get Mobilesketch to load correctly and it is no longer supported. Given the ever growing size of cell phone screens, I still can't help but see a market for an all in one device (i.e. phone, email, MLS, Supra, Total, Mobilesketch, etc.). With screens close to 6", a Samsung Note 5 or iPhone 7 Plus would be ideal.
 

Randall Garrett

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Professional Status
IT Professional-Appraisal Related
State
Texas
I figured it has been long enough since I asked this in a previous post, but what options are out there for appraisers that want a more compact field sketcher. I am currently using a Samsung Galaxy Tab4 7.0 and still am not thrilled about the cumbersome nature of this tablet while trying to hold a tape, crawl in bushes, fight off wasps, jump fences, etc. I refuse to use any non-apex products as they are all extremely inferior (imo) given the way measure. I loathe the size of my Tab4 so much that I have regressed to using my ancient Windows Mobile device running MobileSketch. It fits in my pocket, easily held in one hand and the battery last a hell of a lot longer than any tablet I've owned. Unfortunately today I had to put my WMD to rest. I have a backup WMD but can't seem to get Mobilesketch to load correctly and it is no longer supported. Given the ever growing size of cell phone screens, I still can't help but see a market for an all in one device (i.e. phone, email, MLS, Supra, Total, Mobilesketch, etc.). With screens close to 6", a Samsung Note 5 or iPhone 7 Plus would be ideal.
Hi RNMOVR,

Sorry for the delay in replying - busy week for me and am just getting back on my feet after a lingering cold-type thing.

Some answers to some basic/generic questions will help me with giving you a more timely and accurate/germane reply regarding products.
I take it from your comments that you are looking for a software solution from us which runs on a phone vs. a tablet and that something in the near-6 inch screen size would fit the bill. I have personally observed in the past that 7 inches was about the minimum screen size for MY personal use but each person has their own take on that. As of today, there are no commonly available to the regular consumer in the 7 inch size, but there are several examples of ~6 inch phones which are readily available. FWIW, most of our development work today is in Windows and Android is a distant second. We may release another iOS product later this year, but note that it is a much less robust product and based on what I have observed with feedback from customers, users are not a fan of learning something new, even if it is a more efficient (IMHO) method.

Since you mention your Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, I am assuming that you are familiar with Apex MobileSketch for Android ("MSA") As it stands today, MSA would need a GUI tweak to fit properly on a 6 inch screen (phone screens are not only smaller but have a different aspect ratio than your tablet.) Generally speaking, even with said tweaks to the UI, it is unlikely that it would work well on smaller phones, thus generating discontent. MSA has not been bumped in quite a while, but I'll bring it up at our next meeting on Thursday and see what sort of reaction I get. FWIW, I am currently running "MS10" which is MobileSketch for Windows 10 on my personal devices - desktop, tablets and phone. This product has not been released to the public yet and is currently in "Field Trial" status within our Enterprise customer base. Compared to the older MSA product, it is more robust but still need to be signed off on before I can put in the necessary Fee Appraiser tweaks. I don't anticipate this user base requiring anything that a Fee Appraiser wouldn't want with the exception of their unique Area Definitions and special database integration hooks. Almost all of these customers are concentrating on the 10" - 12" tablet experience because their larger apps are built for that class of device. Along with a few others, though, I am also using it on my personal ~6 inch phone, the HP Elite X3, which is a business class phone. While I find this device suits MY needs quite nicely, I suspect that you'd prefer an Android phone over MY device of choice. I had planned on testing on a Note 7 but we all know how the battery thing killed that opportunity, so I am waiting for the S8 as a test device with the target device being the expected "Note 8."

Please let me know your thoughts and I will be happy to reply with hopefully more germane information.


Regards,


-Randall Garrett-
+Apex Software+

/end/
 

RNMOVR

Sophomore Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2007
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Louisiana
Hi RNMOVR,

Sorry for the delay in replying - busy week for me and am just getting back on my feet after a lingering cold-type thing.

Some answers to some basic/generic questions will help me with giving you a more timely and accurate/germane reply regarding products.
I take it from your comments that you are looking for a software solution from us which runs on a phone vs. a tablet and that something in the near-6 inch screen size would fit the bill. I have personally observed in the past that 7 inches was about the minimum screen size for MY personal use but each person has their own take on that. As of today, there are no commonly available to the regular consumer in the 7 inch size, but there are several examples of ~6 inch phones which are readily available. FWIW, most of our development work today is in Windows and Android is a distant second. We may release another iOS product later this year, but note that it is a much less robust product and based on what I have observed with feedback from customers, users are not a fan of learning something new, even if it is a more efficient (IMHO) method.

Since you mention your Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, I am assuming that you are familiar with Apex MobileSketch for Android ("MSA") As it stands today, MSA would need a GUI tweak to fit properly on a 6 inch screen (phone screens are not only smaller but have a different aspect ratio than your tablet.) Generally speaking, even with said tweaks to the UI, it is unlikely that it would work well on smaller phones, thus generating discontent. MSA has not been bumped in quite a while, but I'll bring it up at our next meeting on Thursday and see what sort of reaction I get. FWIW, I am currently running "MS10" which is MobileSketch for Windows 10 on my personal devices - desktop, tablets and phone. This product has not been released to the public yet and is currently in "Field Trial" status within our Enterprise customer base. Compared to the older MSA product, it is more robust but still need to be signed off on before I can put in the necessary Fee Appraiser tweaks. I don't anticipate this user base requiring anything that a Fee Appraiser wouldn't want with the exception of their unique Area Definitions and special database integration hooks. Almost all of these customers are concentrating on the 10" - 12" tablet experience because their larger apps are built for that class of device. Along with a few others, though, I am also using it on my personal ~6 inch phone, the HP Elite X3, which is a business class phone. While I find this device suits MY needs quite nicely, I suspect that you'd prefer an Android phone over MY device of choice. I had planned on testing on a Note 7 but we all know how the battery thing killed that opportunity, so I am waiting for the S8 as a test device with the target device being the expected "Note 8."

Please let me know your thoughts and I will be happy to reply with hopefully more germane information.


Regards,


-Randall Garrett-
+Apex Software+

/end/
Randall,
Thanks for your response. If you look further down in the Apex posts you will see a closed post I started back in 2014 where we went through the custom apk for a Note 2 but was put on hold due to your resources being tied up developing MS 8. Anyway, I would really like to pick up where we left off. Please re-visit that post and let me know what we could get going on. Also, I can forward you the emails/messages from Brian that may refresh you on progress that was made. Thanks again and want to say that I think it is amazing that both you and Brian take the time to listen to your customers wants and needs...
 

Mike Ault

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2004
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Texas
Thanks again and want to say that I think it is amazing that both you and Brian take the time to listen to your customers wants and needs...
+1
 

Randall Garrett

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Professional Status
IT Professional-Appraisal Related
State
Texas
Randall,
Thanks for your response. If you look further down in the Apex posts you will see a closed post I started back in 2014 where we went through the custom apk for a Note 2 but was put on hold due to your resources being tied up developing MS 8. Anyway, I would really like to pick up where we left off. Please re-visit that post and let me know what we could get going on. Also, I can forward you the emails/messages from Brian that may refresh you on progress that was made. Thanks again and want to say that I think it is amazing that both you and Brian take the time to listen to your customers wants and needs...

Glad to try and help, RNMOVR.

Coincidentally, I spoke with the lead coder for MSA (and MS10, BTW) on Wednesday about that very thing - i.e. looking at a refresh for MSA and perhaps doing a GUI overhaul so it would be more usable on smaller screens. He was to take a look at the various items over the next week and follow up with me this next Wednesday to go over the different possible approaches. Our primary goal would be a revamp of MSA for more modern tablets, but I've asked for some consideration toward the larger phones, too. My experience lately has been that about 6" is about as small as one would want to go for sketching needs using the current (i.e. MS10) interface design(s) - anything much smaller quickly leads to difficulties in common activities. That said, my newer designs allow for a more efficient use of screen space, so I don't think devices with (say) a +5.5" screen size would be totally out of reach, either. (As I mentioned earlier, I have been using MS10 on an HP Elite X3, which has a 5.96" screen @ 1440x2560 and even with the current design, it works fine. Brian has a Lumia 950 XL with a 5.7" screen with the same pixel count which he uses for testing.)

I had hoped to put some effort into MSA in conjunction with the Note 7, but since their battery issue caused the massive recall, that effort was put on hold while we continued on other fronts. Now that we've seen reliable(enough) specs for the upcoming stunning S8 variants, we have a good idea where the presumed Note 8 will fall, so we have something to shoot for. I imagine I'll use an S8 as the baseline device but it should work OK on other, devices with similar (enough) screen specs. I'll have to find a way to limit use on devices that are just unsuitable, but that is another matter altogether.

All that said, there is no guarantee that I'll go forward with a new version of MSA, but FWIW, it IS something that interests me again and so (depending on what the primary coder says), it seems likely at this point since there are several factors which influence me to put in the effort :)

Hope this helps! I'll post again when I know something more definite. In the meantime, feel free to PM me with any suggestions on improvements to the old MSA based on your experience(s) and we can discuss how to make things work better for you.

Regards,


-Randall Garrett-
+Apex Software+

/end/
 
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