Airport Simulator on Android

Dont rise your expectation to high on this topic for now. Before jumping into the serious use cases for airport process and environment simulations, as well the gamification of enterprise environments, I will review some simulator apps available on Android and PC in a rather humorous way.

I just love simulators, it is amazing to see how current 3D and physic engines running on today’s powerful and affordable hardware can execute real-time simulations that were only possible in well equipped research labs 2 decades ago. I am experimenting with various 3D engines like Unity and CryEngine, both freely available as personal or educational version or for indie games.

OK, lets have a look at simulators available for the Android mobile platform. If you search for the term simulator you will get thousands of apps, and there is a simulator for almost everything and anything you never heard of before, though the majority is plain crap and only exists because Unity makes it so easy to create a game by clicking-together some assets and adjusting some properties, almost without the need to code. Most of them are just badly made and often only serve the purpose to bombard you with ads once installed or running.

We find 100’s of car, truck, train simulation apps, plus dozens of somewhat strange apps to simulate dogs, cats, dinosaurs, Fishing, Fork Lifts, shark attacks, Miami Crime, swimming trains, flying boats and tuk tuk’s and endless more objects.

Finetuning our search towards the term airport (vehicle) simulator we still reveal dozens of results. Here we have a selection of flying, airport construction and all kind of driving around the airport tasks. The majority is made with Unity engine and the free assets, one reason why most of these apps display the same assets like cars, trucks and planes.

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Selection of simulator apps

Most of them have in common: Well rendered icons and preview images in the play store to catch your interest, generous with requested permissions and truckloads of ads.
Surprisingly all of them have downloads of well beyond 100.000 ! Guess we don’t know the uninstall-rate though, but if you look at the user comments you know.

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Permissions galore inclusive to run as service during startup, snooping accounts and location, downloading files.

Here some actual screenshots of the often weird gameplay or scenery I found.

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Factory Airport ? Not much room to maneuver. Where are taxiways, positions, gates ? But 3 Towers !

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If your are short of pushbacks, go for a regular truck as fallback !

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Personal pickup service for MIB passengers in Area 51 ?

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Taking off from a construction site with speed limits and stop signs. Here the tower also a bit too close to the runway maybe.

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Disembarking Zombie passengers walking down from the service staircase to the waiting Cobus(?)

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Driving a heavy duty tow truck between the planes parked on the grass. Nothing else to do. Maybe one of these defunc airline desert airplane parking grounds ?

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This time we drive an airport security car in a totally static airport. Someone forgot to add tarmac lines here ?

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This plane looks like the airport fire brigade drill setup. But in this app all planes look like this model (front part is mocking a war train from the 1930’s). Not so standard cargo handling either.

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Interesting, floating mobile stairs supported by a RC wreck. Walls at the tarmac ?

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Winter wonderland. Random assets like palms, lamp posts and others stuff thrown at the scene. Big Christmas trees at the end of the runway… Walls again.

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Gives the term Greenfield Airport a more genuine meaning ! Randomly appearing zombie passengers again. Leave the boarding gate through the window ?

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Oh yes, that is a smart way to avoid a potential IP conflict with a famous airline ! Bonus: Floating bridge and you fly with a 1:5 scale plane ?

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Smart parking, what to say ? Smart as in stacking cars on the back of a truck or smart as in placing this thing at the end of the runway ?

Conclusion: Dont expect anything when downloading these simulators, other than uninstalling it again and potentially being spied or bombarded with ads. None of the app I tried even remotely comes close to any real operations. These are games – confirmed – nothing else.

In the next blog entry we will look at Simulator Software available for Windows PC’s.

Stay tuned.

 

Dynamics of the Play Store

The first time I saw an Android Phone was in 2008 during the OSDC Conference in Sydney where one of the presenter from Google had a development phone with him that he showed to some of us. I remember people saying “sure Google making a mobile phone, dont waste my time…”. Guess I don’t need to tell the rest of the story almost 10 years later.

Soon after the conference in early 2009 the HTC Dream (or called G1 in some countries) was launched to public as first developer phone, I ordered one from Google because I was excited about a platform that you could develop for without buying in into a commercial platform. At that time the coding was possible with Netbeans or some Eclipse plugins and some manual tinkering and configuration, in 2010 I created the first application for the so-called Android Market to play with the physics of the release process.

I still have the HTC Dream, unfortunately not in a working condition anymore,  I bought the next developer phone in 2010, the Google Nexus One which was running Android Eclaire.

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Android HTC Dream 2009

The Android Market was still in its infancy, a mix of hello-world, irrelevant apps and spam all over the place. The whole platform was dominated by individual developers and not by major players. Below a 3 day statistics screenshot I made in 2010, you can see the numbers did not change significantly, in 1 day 40 apps where added, now it around 2000 to 4000 new apps a day. My app did show up in the “new app” section, something impossible to achieve today.

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Android Market 2010

Anyway, it was and it continues to be an interesting experience, though I find it a pity it is so hard to get an independent created app get noticed.

Bck to today, I did some experiments with a new app that I just released. Getting my hands dirty with NFC development, I released a simple app, it it supposed to read NFC tags, the early version does nothing but checking if the hardware supports NFC, that’s a Java/Android no-brainer, a one method call. I invented an app name that did not exist in Google Search, I call it “NFCheckR” for the sake of finding out how fast it appears in the market and in Search. The first release is public within 2 hours on the Google Play, a day later it can be searched in both Google Play and Google Search. The search rank no. 1 is a link to the Google Play followed by dozens of links to dodgy third party sites offering the apps for download, obviously mirroring the Google Play site. Some of them offering weird descriptions as well. It claims it got 90 votes and 5 ratings, despite having only a single (1) download so far (which is no wonder, there are at least a 100 NFC tools).

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Google Search

 

The sites claim the app would run on Windows, Mac and other platforms. I recommend NOT to download from any of these sites !

2017-11-26 17_45_43-Download NFCheckR For PC Windows and Mac APK 0.1 - Free Tools Apps for Android

NFCheckR at third party website


History Lane

One of the first emails from Android Market:

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Android Market 2009