We feel there is a demand for a platform that combines exercise and keeping up with the state of the world, especially in the age of COVID-19.
What it does
Using Steps4News is intuitive. You simply enter a keyword and press start. Immediately, the app will start tracking your workout by counting the number of steps you've taken. In the background, you’ll hear a Text-To-Speech reader dictating the latest headlines and a short description for related news articles. After the workout, exercise sessions are then securely backed up to the cloud and stored in your account.
How we built it
Our tech stack consists of Firebase for authentication and database service. The application is written in Java and currently only supports Android. Information on the latest news is harnessed using the NewsAPI.
Challenges we ran into
Android's ecosystem is particularly hard to manage and test quickly. Some versions of Android do not implement newer APIs and we have to choose a version that made a compromise between market compatibility and features. Collaboration required the use of third-party plugs which frequently went out of sync.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Successfully implementing Firebase Firestore and Authentication API in Android. Sucessfully creating an Android ListView and integrating it with Firestore
What we learned
- Integrating Android apps with Firebase's complement of services
- Creating a ListView in Android to display a list of data (workout sessions in our case)
- Retrieving data from firestore, firebase authentication and using it in the app
- Creating sensor listeners to listen for android device's step counter sensors
- Using Android's built in Text-To-Speech API to make it speak out news
- Using Gson to parse API endpoint response data and displaying it to our app
- No network activity on main thread! (caused us quite a bit of trouble) Threading is required to access network
- Android development isn't as easy as we imagined
- Zoom is actually quite a nice piece of recording software
- Firebase has a ton of cool tools that we've never heard of before
What's next for Steps4News
Eventually, we want to be able to support listening to other forms of media such as podcasts in groups, leaderboards to allow friends to share and compete for total steps with one other, as well as integration with popular equipment providers and services such as Peloton or Google Fit. Monetization is viable using an advertising and subscription model.