August 2020 Development Blog
Welcome to our August 2020 DEV (Development) Blog. Our goal with these is to keep you informed on what the product development team is doing here at Go Connect. I know you are excited to see the line of products that we will began releasing later this year. We are too.
Hundreds of hours a week go into developing products like these. While we can’t get too deep into the details, it will give you some insight into what we are doing. You’ll see a development blog at least once a month but likely more frequently as we make more progress.
The reality is most hotspots and routers are designed for ideal conditions. We are building ours for the not-ideal. When traveling you generally will experience “not ideal” a lot more often.Go Connect Development Team Lead
Features, Features, Features
Since our last development blog the vast majority of the teams time has been spent on our unique feature set. If you haven’t read about them yet we’ve branded them as “SmartConnect“, “SmartTraffic” and “SmartSecurity“. They are simply how we brand our ease of use, our ability to optimize the performance of the internet connection and our ability to secure the connection.
While previous work by our software team focused on the core functionality you’d expect from a travel router – being able to broadcast a WiFi network, password, listing WiFI networks to connect to. All of the basics you’d expect in any travel router or hotspot.
What makes Go Connect’s devices so different are our additional features. While we’ve been testing them for some time, a lot of the work recently has been on finalizing them. We have a roadmap for our MVP (minimum viable product) versions of each of these, and another our product is unique is our ability to release constant updates.
There will be a lot more news around these features in the coming weeks. As we approach our pre-sale you’ll hear more details about what we are doing. However, we did want to use this opportunity to dive a little further into the types improvements we are able to make.
Last month we previewed and showed our SmartConnect interface. While there is plenty more coming with that feature, it alone illustrates how much easier our interface is than existing products on the market. This month however, we want to highlight some of the improvements we are making with traffic optimization.
One thing everyone who has used internet on the go has experienced is unreliable WiFi. Hotels, airports and Airbnb WiFI are notoriously bad but lets be honest – bad WiFi can be found at home, at the office, in coffee shops and just about anywhere else as well.
Even cellular hotspots are not immune. They can provide an alternative to more traditional travel WiFi, there are plenty of dead spots you’ll experience with them. Not to mention the fastest versions of mobile don’t work well inside many commercial buildings, conference centers and especially interior hotel rooms. And it seems like the more urban the area the more potential for congestion and interference.
At Go Connect, from the earliest phases, our engineering team knew our goal wasn’t just to build hardware, but also to create software that made these experience better. Even as the providers of these services work to improve things year after year, we knew we wanted to see results now. In addition we didn’t feel the nature of most products on the market took full advantage of the physical remedies available.
What will truly make our product standout is the work our engineers have done optimizing all types of internet traffic. You can see an example of some of the improvements we are seeing during testing with a charts of some of the improvements below.
SmartTraffic Test Example
What you are seeing is a 60 second traffic test. We started the test by generating a download and user activity. As we proceeded to add more and more load, noise and loss on the connection you can see the download speed (top line) steadily decrease to almost 0. While upload speed performs relatively well and continues it finally hits a wall. Finally you can see latency (delay) continues to increase with large jumps. Anything over 100ms is considered “bad”, and it was hitting 2 to 3 times that.
However, around the 55 second mark you can see where we then “enabled’ SmartTraffic. Immediately you can see the increases in download speed, upload speed and the substantial drop on latency. In each case the overall traffic was the same, we simply optimized the performance enough to take average trending to bad, making it ideal.
While every situation will be different and this was just one test, you can clear see the improvements we are making. These improvements are holding up during real world usage when we put the devices in the hands of users. We feel there is substantial opportunity to make improvements the norm. The reality is most hotspots and routers are designed for ideal conditions. We are building ours for the not-ideal. When traveling you generally will experience “not ideal” a lot more often. And when you do, you generally have a lot less control.
What Else Are We Working On
Hardware (Device) Engineering
Our hardware team has been finalizing our PCB (printer computer board) designs and components. We’ve been working with our final manufacturer and prototyping our final designs before “cranking up the presses”. In addition our hardware team has been working on finalizing the specs and beginning testing on the cellular modules we will be using. Finally, for the Go Travel Pro variation we are working on the final battery module design.
In each of these cases there is still plenty left to do. When we get a small batch order of potential board candidates we must test them out. Not only for bugs, but to understand how each tweak and change impacts performance and reliability. In the case of things like the battery hardware changes also impact how long the battery works for.
With cellular we are also still trying to finalize which carrier(s) we ultimately work with. While there is minimal impact on the hardware, there are different modules that have benefits or ease of working with different carriers. So until that is locked down it is harder to call that decision final. From a technology and even user experience standpoint we have our favorites.
Software (App) Engineering
Our mobile app team continues refactoring and improvement on the mobile app. Since the app itself is stable, and most of the work implementing software changes is on the device, the mobile app team has been able to take advante of the time to make user expeirence improvements. In the last month we’ve completely written the way the mobile app detects the device for the initial connection. We’ve also dramatically speed up the refresh time when you make a configuration change in the app.
We’ve also done other things which are less noticeable and exciting, but equally important. That has included improving the error messaging display in the mobile app. We’ve also resolved a number of bugs reported during the Alpha testing.
In our next development blog we expect to discuss the next phase of our user testing. We also expect some significant news on the hardware front that will be exciting.
Don’t forget to join our mailing list to stay up to date on the latest. In addition to the latest news you’ll get special offers and exclusive behind the scenes look at our progress. Also, it’s the only way to have a chance to join our beta program.