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Situation in hand

Situations is a Symbian app for making your smartphone a bit more intelligent. At the core of the app is the ability to define situations that change your phone’s settings depending on the context. To give two examples:

  • If I am at home (which the phone knows from its GPS co-ordinates) and it’s after 11pm, then switch all the ringtones to silent until 6am.
  • When I arrive at the office, switch on the WiFi and start my News Reader app.

The app was originally created as a Nokia Beta Labs experiment, but has now been spun off and continues to be developed as a commercial application by Pastilli Labs, founded by Roope Tassberg and Heikki Haveri.

We spoke to Roope to find out more.

“We’re a very small development company based in Tampere in Finland. At the moment, Situations is a spare time project.

“But it seems very important to us. We call these things smartphones, but why don’t they do things for us? We want to let people get more out of their phones.”

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The relaunch of Situations called for a complete rewrite of the app.

“We’ve made it much easier to define Situations, which govern how your phone behaves. The interface is a lot slicker and we’ve been able to introduce some very useful new features. For example, you can now select places from a map: so you don’t have to be physically present at a place in order to create a Situation for it.”

So where next for Situations? What’s the next big step?

“To be honest, we need a lot more innovation before the basic functionality of Situations can take a big step forward. To take an example, it would be nice if we could define a jogging Situation, where it automatically switches on your music when you go for a run.

“But how does the app know you’re not just running for the bus?

“Getting round that sort of problem needs some major breakthroughs in sensor technology and artificial intelligence.

What to do

“We think the main improvements in the shorter term will be around making the app easier to use. People like the idea of creating Situations, but doing it in a way they can understand is tricky.

“It’s easy to create a nerdy app: it’s a lot harder to create one that’s usable.”

But the future is looking bright for Pastilli Labs.

“Since relaunching Situations we’ve been astonished by the positivity that’s come from the community, especially through our Twitter account and Facebook page.

“People really like the idea of the app and have offered lots of support and ideas for new features. That’s really energising and makes us want to work hard to deliver what they want.”

Best of luck to Roope and Heikki. If you’d like to get hold of Situations for Symbian smartphones, then head over to the Nokia Store. It costs €0.99.