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Old 23-11-2015, 15:35   #1
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New Satellite Internet Apps

I'd like to discuss new satellite Internet apps. There are apps for voice calls, SMS, email and weather. I think there could be more.

This is my list of ideas for apps that I'm considering implementing:

  • Facebook for Satellite
    • A Facebook client optimized for satellite links with low bandwidth and long delays. Post and read, upload and download images.
  • Chat
    • Group chat for friends and families. Optimized for very low bandwidth, long delays and intermittent connections.
  • Push to talk
    • Send and receive audio messages using a very low bitrate. For when you want something more personal than an SMS.
  • Forum browser
    • An efficient text only browser for discussion forums like this.
  • Picture uploader
    • Upload and download pictures faster, more efficiently and with better quality than via email. Pause and resume transfers, batch transfer for multiple files.
  • News reader
    • Catch up on your favorite news sources. Read articles and optionally download pictures and illustrations.
Please feel free to add your own ideas.
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Old 23-11-2015, 18:12   #2
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

I think the iridium GO does most of that in its standard app. Although any interweb browsing using opera mini is still slow as hell and since Facebook stopped the posting via email address FB doesn't work as planned. It would be interesting if other apps could also use the iridium go connection. Weather 4D pro handles weather very well with the go or other satcom via email requests.
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Old 24-11-2015, 05:44   #3
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

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I think the iridium GO does most of that in its standard app.
That's news to me. Would you like to elaborate on that? As far as I can tell the standard app only does email, text messages, voice calls and web browsing (very poorly).

Voice calls are billed separately out of plan and there is no push to talk functionality.

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Although any interweb browsing using opera mini is still slow as hell and since Facebook stopped the posting via email address FB doesn't work as planned.
Exactly. Browsing works in theory, but not in practice. FB doesn't work at all. Hence the need for specialized apps that *do* work.

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It would be interesting if other apps could also use the iridium go connection.
Other apps can use the Iridium connection, it's just that they are not suitable for low bandwidth, long latency connections. They simply time out or are unbearably slow.

I want apps that can accomplish things in seconds, not pages that load for minutes on end.
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Old 24-11-2015, 05:52   #4
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

I don't know a thing about the limits of satellite communications. What someone should develop is a way to connect to the WWW via satellite... upload and down load. Obviously this will be done through a designated device... a modem of sorts and a PC etc can then access all the capabilities on the www... cloud, news, web sites, VOIP and so on.

I suspect the problem is the "modem" and managing and accessing / communicating with satellites... a sort of wi fi in orbit.

We can enjoy the www via cell phone signals in coastal areas ... limited range of course. Now make that happen for satellites!
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Old 24-11-2015, 06:05   #5
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

Internet access via satellite already exist. Google for Iridium, BGAN or iSatHub. The problem is that they are either slow and/or expensive.

The solution is trying to make do with what there is, despite the limitations.
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Old 24-11-2015, 07:32   #6
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

Obviously I meant at reasonable speeds... I am aware that it is available, expensive and slow.
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Old 24-11-2015, 08:15   #7
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

Speed isn't the issue, costs are. Rockets are expensive.
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Old 24-11-2015, 08:41   #8
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

Most online services and websites are built assuming high bandwidth low latency connections. Which is why they are useless on cheap satcom data plans.

The only services that offer any form of potentially usable functionally on cheap satcom data connections are lightweight text based services. Irc is a potential, sms is still the gold standard. I used sms with mandatory replies to transmit remote test data 15 years ago.

Evernote sort of works on tmobiles 2g global data service. Operamax doesnt compress much although they advertise themselves as doing so.

Facebook supposedly now require their developers to build and test apps using low bandwidth connections. This is to align with their push into the third world. Its not evident using their services.

If you want fast data connections it will cost you.

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Old 24-11-2015, 09:26   #9
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

I've had a pipe dream of an Iridium browser that drives a headless browser on a server. Which OCR's the window and sends the plain text with some 'where it is on the screen' metadata to the Iridium browser. In this way even complex JavaScript sites would work over limited bandwidth.

But that's a heck of a lot of work for a limited market. There are much easier ways to make money in software.

In the past I was a huge fan of doing email with UUPlus, with all the ways it was highly efficient and resilient to spotty Internet connections. And could be so completely configured by the end user.
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Old 24-11-2015, 10:45   #10
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

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Most online services and websites are built assuming high bandwidth low latency connections. Which is why they are useless on cheap satcom data plans.
Which is exactly why I'm thinking of developing my own specialized apps to make major online services work on satellite.
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Old 24-11-2015, 10:50   #11
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

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I've had a pipe dream of an Iridium browser that drives a headless browser on a server. Which OCR's the window and sends the plain text with some 'where it is on the screen' metadata to the Iridium browser. In this way even complex JavaScript sites would work over limited bandwidth.
Yeah, a usable general purpose browser for Iridium is a tall order. That's why I'm focusing on purpose built apps, it's less of an uphill battle.
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Old 24-11-2015, 11:05   #12
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

Predict Wind has a weather app for the Irridium Go that does GRB files and weather overlays on charts via Apple or Android phones or tablets.
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Old 24-11-2015, 12:04   #13
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

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Yeah, a usable general purpose browser for Iridium is a tall order. That's why I'm focusing on purpose built apps, it's less of an uphill battle.
Good idea. But I thought Facebook's API is pretty limited these days? Or would you make a kind of intelligent proxy, so they don't have to know about it? It would be neat to abstract it so that you can update and add websites on the server, without changing the client.

But don't listen to me-- architecture is one of those things I get easily excited about. Sometimes there's a way to cheat and flip everything around to make it a lot easier.
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Old 24-11-2015, 12:40   #14
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

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But I thought Facebook's API is pretty limited these days?
Yes, the Facebook API is quite limited, but I have found a few solutions.

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Or would you make a kind of intelligent proxy, so they don't have to know about it?
An intelligent proxy is nice in theory, but it's not so nice to have to maintain it and constantly update the rules.
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Old 24-11-2015, 13:19   #15
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Re: New Satellite Internet Apps

I am sailing up the east coast of Australia and work from my yacht so I can pay for my dream trip. Next year after the cyclone season I am planning going around Australia. I would be glad to have the apps you are looking at. I will have a satphone for safety reasons & voice calls to my clients. It seems there is internet/cell phone coverage wherever there is Aboriginal communities.
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