V2.0 of Text Engine Released
We just pushed out the first major update of Text Engine since our official launch in 2014, just in time for the holidays. With the v2.0 release, we've hopefully made some significant improvements to the user experience.
First ... Bug Fixes
Before we get into the coolest update, we want to tell you about some bug fixes to the WHAT TIME, MENU, driving directions and DEFINE commands.
- World Clock ("What Time" command): Some users reported that Text Engine would hold old time in cache. For example, if you queried, "What time in Accra, Ghana"; then, if you came back 30 minutes later to do the same query, then Text Engine would give you the previous timestamp. This has been fixed. Now, latest time up to the second is available for repeated queries, no matter how often you submit them.
- MENU: Some users told us that, while they like to get a list of all commands they can use at any given point, the MENU command just delivers too many text messages. The beauty of text messaging is that it is short and not a lot to read. So, we tried our best to bring brevity to the MENU results. Now, fewer messages are returned when you do a MENU query. We were able to condense and collapse some of the messages and make this more readable.
- Driving Directions: Many of our users absolutely love our non-GPS, text-only driving directions. However, some of you reported that, if you use uppercase characters for the "Origin" or "Destination" words; or, if you use spaces in between the "=" and "&" signs, then Text Engine would sometimes not work properly. We spent a lot of hours troubleshooting this glitch. Now, the engine should work regardless of whether you use upper or lowercase characters or spaces.
- DEFINE: Other users mentioned that non-ASCII characters made it difficult to read definitions. The dictionary APIs we pull from try to include the pronunciation symbols with the definition. Unfortunately, the SMS gateway cannot always translate or understand these strange characters and symbols. This is why you see all those weird characters prefacing the definition. We cleaned this up significantly. Although there still remain some non-ASCII characters, most of the non-natural language characters have been removed.
Now for the Big Update ...
The most significant update in v2 comes to the Wikipedia command (the "Wiki" command). Previously, when you performed a Wikipedia query, we couldn't actually tap into the Wikipedia article directly. After much troubleshooting and research, we discovered that the version of Java used by our telecom carrier was not compatible with the latest version of the Wikipedia API.
As a compromise, what we did was pull the results from Google snippets about the Wikipedia entry you queried. While this worked fairly well, it had limitations. Occasionally, the snippets would be incomplete, and you couldn't really read more of a particular entry.
We've greatly improved the Wikipedia function. Now when you do a "wiki" query, you'll get the actual text from the Wikipedia article. Additionally, you now have the ability to read more of an article.
We're always thinking of ways to make Text Engine better for our users. We hope that these bug fixes and UX improvements will make your experience using Text Engine even more awesome! If you have any suggestions, always feel free to drop us a line and let us know!
Shari Sloane & Eric Bryant / Cofounders