Selfad logo

What is the SelfAd app?

SelfAd application is the next generation social networking app whereby local people get to know each other in a novel manner. SelfAd stands for Self Advertise. We all know Facebook, Linkedin and other first-generation social networking services. Have you ever though of what might be coming up next? Let's investigate what this SelfAd app can do for you.

Are we observing a turning point in social networking?

You can advertise your Facebook profile wirelessly to the nearby people. We're talking about a hundred meter range or less in practice. The people using this app can see your profile. In addition, they may visit your profile as well - and vice versa! Now it gets exciting! Are we observing a turning point in social networking - in which people simply see who they are without saying a word - or something else? Only time will tell. So far it seems that these services complement each other. Nevertheless, let's get back to the app introduction.


Advertising yourself

Facebook login button is integrated into the SelfAd app. Assuming your Facebook profile picture is public, you log into your Facebook via the Facebook login button as seen in the screenshot below.

Screenshot of login button
Login Screen

Once you log into your Facebook account, the system fetches your first name and the required data in order to get a reference to your FB profile picture. If it happens to be private, don't worry! A question mark will be in place of your personal image. All others will also see a question mark rather than your profile picture. This data is stored locally so if it happens that the network goes down, you can still advertise your profile.

The communication is based on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). This is why you're still able to advertise even if the data network is down. Practically your phone advertises as a Bluetooth Beacon. This a one-way broadcast in which no one may connect to your phone via the BLE. There's absolutely no Bluetooth pairing and entering of endless PIN codes.

By turning the switch on, the system starts advertising your profile. Even if the app is closed or killed, it will continue to advertise. The app launches a process that is kept in the background. It advertises your profile once every second. This process is in charge of the advertising. Turning off using the switch will surely end the process and thus the advertising.


Scanning for others

Screenshot of scan results
Scan Results

It's possible to scan only for people without advertising itself at all. The scan results may be ordered according to location, closest people being the first ones. The default ordering adds people at the end of the list without paying attention to the location. It may be difficult to touch people and visit their profiles if the results keep changing. That's why no ordering is carried out by default. However, the list is ordered only once in every 10 seconds.

As people come and go, they all have limited lifetimes. If the app has detected no advertising for 3 minutes for an entry, the image disappears in two steps: first it goes semi-blank and then after a short duration, it disappears completely.

Scanning is stopped automatically if the user switches to another app. The scan switch turns itself off noticeably when an app switch is performed. This saves the battery life. There are no considerable benefits leaving the scan operation in the background. Advertising is always on when the advertising switch is on, though.



Miscellaneous

There's plenty of options how to adjust your profile through the settings. If the low power mode is selected, your advertising range will reduce dramatically. What happens is that the BLE will transmit with less power. In this mode, your visibility is some tens of meters. People behind the corners will unlikely see you at all.

One great capability of BLE is that it may observe the received signal strength (known as RSSI). To be honest, it's a vital parameter in all wireless systems, not just in BLE. This may be used to detect how far the people are. The app settings provide a switch, and if it's enabled, the app orders the people (search results) according to their proximity. When facing larger crowds, this may be a valuable option.

It often happens that while you're scanning for people you find something you wish to know more in detail. By clicking a search result (Facebook picture thumbnail) the app pops up a dialog asking whether to visit the profile owner. If you have your Facebook app installed, the app redirects to the found profile. Perhaps you could make a friend request? Your browser will be used for entering the profile if the FB app is missing. Actually, if you wish, you can set the default way of entering the profiles (browser or FB app) through the app settings.

Screenshot of navigation bar
Navigation bar
Screenshot of settings
Settings
Screenshot of visit profile
Visit Profile?
Screenshot of about
About

This was a short introduction what SelfAd app is all about. Find yours from the Google Play store. Unfortunately no iOS support is available yet, as of June the 15th, 2017. Only Android is supported. You need to have at least Android 5.1 in order to get the app up and running.

When checking out the technical details we may discover that the app uses BLE Eddystone URL technology to advertise the profile URLs. This is quite a new technology area which isn't supported by the older Android devices. Still, it's one of the fields in which Android has advanced and matured during the past few years. Eddystone is based on the Bluetooth Low Energy. Perhaps we'll see more of this kind of activity promoting the BLE technology! Some Android engineering aspects are discussed here.