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Anyone have any status/info on MTH R&D in Michigan? I've searched the web/OGR and haven't found much.

I ask because both the iOS and Android app versions (3.2.1) are 4+ years old which in software time is the Jurassic era. I'm wondering about:

  • Support for newer iOS/Android features
  • Functionality improvements:
    • Use the phone Bluetooth to control Lionchief+ stuff
    • Usability improvements (takes me 5 tries to click the upper left/right refresh icons)
    • Other capabilities, e.g. link to new parts website; social features; lots more I can think of
  • What happens when (inevitably) iOS or Android breaks the current version

I'm a long time software engineer with iOS, Android, big data, web and Raspberry Pi experience. If you are out there MTH R&D, I have availability having just finished a Pi project.

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Interesting you would mention this. App updates were just mentioned in a Legacy thread. Those updates will important as we go along with less physical remotes and rely more on smart devices.

I hope they'll move the 120MPH speed selection away from the direction selector haha I had some exciting times with that back in the day.

It was my understanding that DCS was going to spinoff into its own thing and keep going.

@Tim B posted:

Anyone have any status/info on MTH R&D in Michigan? I've searched the web/OGR and haven't found much.

I ask because both the iOS and Android app versions (3.2.1) are 4+ years old which in software time is the Jurassic era. I'm wondering about:

  • Functionality improvements:
    • Use the phone Bluetooth to control Lionchief+ stuff
    • Usability improvements (takes me 5 tries to click the upper left/right refresh icons)
    • Other capabilities, e.g. link to new parts website; social features; lots more I can think of
  • What happens when (inevitably) iOS or Android breaks the current version

I'm a long time software engineer with iOS, Android, big data, web and Raspberry Pi experience. If you are out there MTH R&D, I have availability having just finished a Pi project.

I ask because both the iOS and Android app versions (3.2.1) are 4+ years old which in software time is the Jurassic era.
The latest update was 11/6/2018 so 4+ years is actually less than 3.5 years. The Lionel iCab app is even older, should MTH release a new fluff version with no updates just so that the version and release date are newer? My dad still uses a DOS based spreadsheet program, because it work reliably and does exactly what he needs it to do, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Support for newer iOS/Android features
What features? Maybe some form of voice control...

Use the phone Bluetooth to control Lionchief+ stuff
This would need licensing from Lionel, good luck getting that...

Usability improvements (takes me 5 tries to click the upper left/right refresh icons)
I don't have this problem, maybe an issue with your phone/touch sensitivity? Anyway, I usually go to the engine list screen and swipe down to refresh the engine list.

Other capabilities, e.g. link to new parts website; social features; lots more I can think of
My preference would be to remove the links to online content as those who use the WIU in MTH Mode will not have internet access anyway. I would like to see an API added to the app to allow interfacing a Bluetooth gaming controller to control app functions.

What happens when (inevitably) iOS or Android breaks the current version
Cross that bridge when we get to it, right now the current app still supports Android going back to version 4 and a fair number of older iOS version as well and the app also supports the latest versions of both Android and iOS. The bigger issue here is making sure that MTH remains in compliance with the licensing agreements set forth by Apple and Google so the app remains active on the stores. The Lionel camera app on the Google Play store is still MIA and Lionel won't respond as to why this happened or when it will return.

Last edited by H1000
@BillYo414 posted:

Interesting you would mention this. App updates were just mentioned in a Legacy thread. Those updates will important as we go along with less physical remotes and rely more on smart devices.

I hope they'll move the 120MPH speed selection away from the direction selector haha I had some exciting times with that back in the day.

It was my understanding that DCS was going to spinoff into its own thing and keep going.

Change the maximum speed to something 100. It will grey out the speedometer near the + icon and you won't be able to set it to "rocket" speed.

I designed my layout wiring to work both in analogue mode using the MTH hand held controllers, and computer wifi mode using Ipads and Iphones. I did this just in case I ran into technology issues, which I seem to do from time to time. I updated my computer that controls everything, and now cannot use the computer wifi system. This is solvable, however I have yet to figure it out. Will get things going again eventually with some help from others.

Then there is the issue of updating software (on any device) and running into unexpected compatibility problems. Or does this only happen to me? I believe I need to update my MTH DCS version, which I will do in the spring. This is easy and works well, the problem is I only do it every few years and keep forgetting the little details in the steps. I have all the chords in a separate labelled bag, so I don't get frustrated using the wrong connectors.

My biggest concerns are "if the app stops functioning" either due to iOS/Android API or legal changes and exactly what Landsteiner said. So both concern and disappointment. As for removing links/content from the app, there's no reason an update couldn't provide access to this while "offline" from the WIU/MTH-mode; I was just thinking that making the app more "fun" (sharing videos, pics, viewing schematics, buying stuff, ordering parts and lots of other ideas) would help grow the hobby (kids and their Tik-grams and such...) now excuse me I have to fire up Word Perfect to finish my in person account of the Hungarian Independence

What motivated me to post was I'm beginning Trainwreck V2 work (cleanup of V1) and planning V3 (expansion).

As for removing links/content from the app, there's no reason an update couldn't provide access to this while "offline" from the WIU/MTH-mode;
I don't know if I would try to make that much information available offline, the data storage requirement for it would be pretty massive especially if you are to include Parts diagrams, item descriptions. I scrapped the MTH website about a year ago and there is a lot of data on it.

I like the idea of integrating some of the online social media elements to help entice a younger generation but also I'm also weary of bloating an app with too much stuff that can cause other problems or unexplained crashes.  The KISS method has always been a good approach.

No don't be ripping on Wordperfect! I think dad has mastered the 1989 DOS version 5.1and now I'm thinking he's ready for a jump to a Windows version!

"the data storage requirement for it would be pretty massive" Here's how I'd do it (I agree that it is debatable what new/social/etc. features should go into an enhanced app) but if you did go this route, some ideas:

  • Add REST/JSON api to existing parts website (requires cooperation between Parts/R&D) and the app would use that data (no local storage)
  • Take a video using existing camera on phone => upload to cloud; MTH R&D could use S3, self-hosted or other storage provider; limit uploads to one/two videos or a handful of pictures and charge $ for anything beyond that
  • Make any video uploads "transient" and they get deleted after a day or a week or...
  • Integrate to existing social platforms, i.e. upload to The Facebork/Instagram/TikTok/etc so no storage on the MTH app back-end

It might actually be a whole new app. There really isn't anything extant that provides app-level train socialization (well, other than this mighty forum, but it's not an app unless I missed something).

In any event, here's hoping that MTH R&D has the ability to produce updates, if and when required; or back to the (no longer available?) handheld remote.

@Tim B posted:
It might actually be a whole new app. There really isn't anything extant that provides app-level train socialization (well, other than this mighty forum, but it's not an app unless I missed something).

In any event, here's hoping that MTH R&D has the ability to produce updates, if and when required; or back to the (no longer available?) handheld remote.

I was thinking they should also make the visual interface of APP customizable to the end user. If you don't like the big speedometer, change it to a simple + & - symbol with a digital speed readout or if you change the locations of buttons and functions on the home screen. I'd even add the ability to move sound & function shortcuts from other screens to the engine home screen per engine.

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