It’s almost exactly a month since we launched. We’d have had a party but it’s crept up on us fast. In that time we’ve had 17 releases, which is a frequency even we’ve been surprised by. It’s been awesome hearing, this week and last, from some of the January 17 cohort about how much they’ve seen the app improve since day zero.
Fixing the cracks
Our 0.3.9 and 0.3.10 releases (Monday and Thursday respectively) were entirely bug fix releases. There had been a handful of annoying little bugs hanging around since launch that really needed squashing. If you’re interested in all of them the releases page is your friend. My personal favourites:
You can no longer record 100m world records
GPS is the most incredible piece of technology that hurts my head whenever I think of it. The idea that a chip can track a satellite and from that understand it’s position on the planet is 🤯 It sometimes goes wrong though. Running along the Avonmouth Gorge in Bristol for example is guaranteed to see you “swimming” across the river a few times as the GPS gets confused. For people running with Byrd we’ve reduced the chances of that by sanitising any distances that are greater than 10m in one second. That’ll mean you can’t use Byrd to record your 100m world record attempt but think that’s probably an edge case.
The totals now actual total all the things in all the places
A notification now gets sent when Byrd has actually processed the run
When a run gets imported to Byrd it goes through a number of different processes. We import, parse, statically analyse and then dynamically analyse each run. Each step is slightly longer than the one before it and takes about 30 seconds to get through all of them. We were sending out notifications after we’d parsed the run, which meant that you could land in the app and not see your run, which was well confusing. It’s fixed now and the notification gets sent once all the processing has been done.
And the new things?
Our velocity slowed this week as we worked on some new pieces of work that we’ve struggled to small-batch. That’s probably something for us to unpack in more detail in later posts but in the background this week we’ve also been working on a number of enhancements to the app. Below’s a quick sneak-peek of them.
A new duration service
Durations for activities are currently generated at the point at which an activity is generated. This reduces the amount of fidelity we can have for the duration being given to each user. To take an example of two users who:
Run one hour a week
Run three times a week
On the surface - for a computer - this is a simple calculation. 60 minutes / 3 = 20 minutes. Byrd does something a little bit more sophisticated considering the user’s longest run, shortest run and median run duration but we use those at the end of the process to check that the value Byrd has initially given isn’t out of bounds.
This has meant a number of users have been being recommended durations that don’t match their reality of running. Especially for those who don’t run the “classic” training patterns.
We have kept it simple in this way because of how tightly coupled duration generation is with activity generation.
The new work we’re doing moves the generation of durations to a different process meaning that we can be much more curated with the durations individuals are being given for their activities. It should allow Byrd to give much better recommendations based on your actual lived experience rather than Byrd’s expectation of your running.
Currently when you register or subscribe to Byrd you just get silence from Byrd. No thank you, no hello, no “Hi, I’m Edd (or Ellis, or Nina, or etc.) it’s super awesome to have you…” That’s not very user-centred and not really ok. Not least since it’s meant a lot of people have had to hunt for our email either on the website or within the App/Play store. This feature fixes that and gets a proper mail server up and running for Byrd.
Nudge push notifications
Another frequent request has been to have “nudge” notifications to check in with Byrd and see what activity is recommended for the day. This will be a feature you need to turn on (we don’t want to send notifications without people opting in) but has been a heavily requested item so are hoping it’ll add a lot to your experience using Byrd.
We’ll be releasing these in a 0.4.0 release early next week. In the meantime happy running and see you back here for another update next week.