eQuake Earthquake App Review

eQuake App logoSept. 2017, Bali, Indonesia: Mt. Agung Eruption

So I’m sitting within 50 miles (~80 kilometers) of Mount Agung, a volcano that’s about to erupt, probably, on the island of Bali, Indonesia in the Indian Ocean. How’s your day going?

They’ve evacuated thousands of people living within a radius of roughly 6 miles (10 km) of Mt. Agung to shelters elsewhere in Bali.

Most of the people living in the area are farmers, just getting by. They’re already experiencing a lot of anguish over having to leave their animals behind, and some apparently refuse to go. It’s sad.

Other volcanoes in Java and Sumatra have erupted in recent years and these eruptions sometimes displace people for many weeks. It’s impossible to know what’s going to happen here.

The last time Mt. Agung erupted was 1963. Over 1000 people were killed by that eruption, but in theory our monitoring today is good enough that we should be able to give everyone at least a chance to leave.

Today I was pointed to an amazing free app for iOS that could make people a little safer if the earth starts shaking, as happens during volcanic eruptions, and as is already happening in much of Bali.

The app is eQuake, for iOS and for Android. From the App store:

…uses a network of seismic sensors to detect earthquakes. When an earthquake occurs, the Zizmos servers send the user an early-warning notification that alerts the user of expected shaking in the area. The ability to detect earthquakes and provide alerts is dependent on the number of sensors in the Zizmos network.

Another feature of eQuake® is its capability to use your phone as a sensor which contributes to the Zizmos earthquake warning system improving the coverage of seismic detection. The sensor mode only works when the device is charging and connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Here are the current sensors in Bali. My phone should be one of them now, and for this I’m definitely OK with turning on my location. (Where’s my charger?)

equake app
eQuake Current Sensors in Bali


The early warning notifications come in the form of an audio human voice countdown of the seconds until the ground at your location will start shaking.

Assuming it works as advertised, this is huge. I know from plenty of experience in California and Indonesia how hard it can be to get outside as fast as you’d like during an earthquake.

According to Wikipedia, re. seismic waves:

Velocity tends to increase with depth and ranges from approximately 2 to 8 km/s in the Earth’s crust, up to 13 km/s in the deep mantle.

Living as we do here in Bali on the 3rd floor of a 5-story building, even 10 or 15 seconds could be the difference between whether we can get to the ground floor before a possible building collapse, or not. For a shallow earthquake say 80 kms away, 10 to 40 seconds warning is a lot better than being woken up by shaking, as we have been many times.

For people who live in earthquake-prone parts of the world, I see no downside in installing the free eQuake app.



IPad Apps For Seniors And Non-Geeks

I have a friend who is 55 years old and no dummy, but he’s really not a tech guy at all. I took a look at his iPad about a week after he got it and it had almost nothing on it except the preloaded apps. It made me wonder how many millions of people-not just seniors-who will get an iPad soon or for a holiday gift don’t know what to load it up with, and might even be a bit intimidated to dive into the App Store.

Here’s a list of apps to suggest to a person in your life who needs a little nudge to turn his device into something wonderful. Provide that nudge! These apps run the gamut between social media, media consumption, productivity and games, and at the very least once your friend has downloaded these apps he should have enough confidence to buzz around the App Store looking for further apps that will interest him. (I’d add Instapaper to the list in the link btw.)

(h/t Dave Millar)

Android Scanner Application: Create PDFs With Your Android Device

In my never-ending quest to point readers toward first-rate mobile device applications for platforms other than iPhone, take a look at this very handy app for Android users that enables you to take a quick photo (maybe misleadingly referred to as a “scan”) and save it on your device as a PDF file ready to be emailed. Unless you’re in the habit of carrying a scanner around with you, you can probably put up with the reduced image quality vis-à-vis an actual scanner, as it looks quite clear anyway. People have been doing this for a while now with photographs but I have no doubt this app will help you create much better quality/more legible images than most cameras.

IPad Children’s Book Apps-The Curious Adventures Of Pickle Bob

You have probably heard how children’s books are a particularly strong seller in the App Store, with their possibilities for immersive artwork, audio and other interface features that are well beyond what books can offer.

Writers aren’t the only people interested in creating books-as-apps for mobile platforms. It can’t be a surprise that a new kind of hybrid between children’s storybook and commercial promotional vehicle is on the rise. Even extreme niche products have a chance to compete with established brands in the pregnant chaos that is the App Store, as evidenced by the Bob’s Pickle Pop App now available in the app store.

Keeping Track of Tasks

Tasktoy is a new web application that might get you on track to becoming more organized. It’s kind of a personalized homepage that contains your tasks and a Google Search box and customizable links. The theory being that in order for online task lists to work, you need to look at them often – so why not build them into a customized homepage? The execution here is quite nice and the application seems very functional, it will be interesting to see if this concept really takes off.

We have seen other examples of in-browser apps that are handy–often relating to web design or search engine optimization–and there is a lot to be said for having tools directly within a browser, as either an icon or a separate window.