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Situation

goTenna initially commissioned App Partner to develop a straight Android port of their goTenna hardware’s iOS companion app. However when iOS production ran into issues and their needs evolved App Partner was able to step-up and become a critical partner helping drive and accelerate their mobile development initiatives.

Solution

With a deadline quickly approaching and it becoming increasingly clear that there were more hardware pairing issues than initially assumed, we took the initiative to recommend a change in approach. By switching from a fixed-scope engagement to a dedicated team engagement we could have experienced App Partner engineers helping design and work though complex technical solutions instead of simply translating the iOS work when it was done. The end result? Faster progress, better quality, and a partnership model so successful it’s still in place today.

Working with Hardware

The goTenna is a small cognitive digital radio. The companion mobile application we developed for it communicates with the goTenna’s firmware directly via Bluetooth Low-Energy, and utilizes a DLE-STX-ETX packet protocol to interface with and send commands to the goTenna. Once paired, the user’s smartphone essentially becomes a peer-to-peer, off-grid communication tool that allows users to send and receive text messages and share GPS locations on offline maps regardless of access to WiFi or cellular service.

Custom Complex Encryption

Since goTenna sends text-based packets over long-range, high-power VHF signals, theoretically someone with the correct equipment and enough effort could capture the messages that users were sending if they weren’t encrypted. goTenna contracted with an outside security firm to design the primary encryption architecture, but they still needed to turn it into proper code and implement.

To simplify and make the most efficient progress, the App Partner engineer took lead on the cross-platform encryption, creating solutions that would work for both Android and iOS simultaneously, implementing for Android, and helping goTenna’s team port it into iOS.

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