Monday, December 6, 2010

Some people still don't get it!

App reviews are fun to read. The reviews are a good indication of people's perception of your product. Even after 2 years on the App Store we are finding that some customers still don't understand what they have purchased or how it works.

Today I'd like to discuss the perception that the app is faulty because some of the cameras don't load. This is not true :) The software requests video from each camera and simply can't show the images if the camera does not respond. Keep in mind that your iPhone, iPod or iPad is connecting directly to the cameras and it is not reading a cached copy of the video from some server in-between.

There are numerous reasons why a camera may fail to respond:

  1. The owner pulls the plug and the device is powered off.
  2. The network connection at the camera is faulty.
  3. The owner has configured the camera to respond only during certain operational hours.
  4. Your device has requested the video over a slow connection and the request times out (over 60 secs)
  5. The owner has changed the IP address or port and our database is using the old address.
  6. Too many users are trying to use the device at the same time and it is overloaded.
The most common scenario is #6. The hardware that the cameras are based on is intended for private use and is generally not capable of scaling to large numbers of viewers at once. You are sharing the cameras with hundreds of thousands of other people using Live Cams in addition to people connecting from websites on the internet and users of other competing applications (at least 10 other companies have stolen our data in the past year and now offer similar products).

If your favorite camera is not responding, chances are good that it is a favorite for many people and it is simply busy. Try again later and hopefully the camera will respond.

Every few days we "scrub" the data for all 4500 cameras in the database. We disable those which fail to respond and re-enable any previously disabled cameras that are now working again. To obtain these updates your application must be launched on a Wifi network. We also add new cameras every week and you can find these by selecting the "Recent" category from the thumbnail screen.