New Android App Navigates You Through the Universe

Google Shows Off New App at Searchology

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Google Unleashed the Sky Map for Android today at the company’s Searchology event. This is an application that is available for download at the Android Market, and will let you find planets and constellations in the sky.

What will they think of next?

A post on the Google Mobile Blog talks a little bit about how this app came to fruition. Orbiting Software Engineer Kevin Serafini shows us a "prototype" consisting of a phone, a compass, a level, and a map. This is how others were convinced to get on board for the app’s development.

Skymap Prototype

"We were able to play around with a T-Mobile G1 test device in the office and were intrigued by all of the sensors that were available," explains Serafini. "The GPS and clock allowed us to generate maps for the exact time and location, but the compass and accelerometer were what made Sky Map truly interesting. Using these two sensors, the app can determine the exact direction that your phone is facing and display the stars that are visible. If you want to identify that bright star in the west, all you have to do is point the device in that direction and you’ll see ‘Venus’ appear on your screen."

"Because we do work for Google, it was perfectly natural for us to add a search feature," he adds.

Android Sky Map

To use the search feature, just enter the name of an object of interest (like Saturn as used in this example) and the phone will display an arrow pointing to it. The arrow will actually change from blue to red, the closer you get to it.

Attendees of the Searchology event were directed to find the constellation Orion, apparently the favorite of Google’s Marissa Mayer. An engineer reportedly told the crowd, "This is an Android phone, so it can do more."

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