With only a couple days in the year, wanted to take some time and reflect on a challenging but overall really good 2014 for Track Attack.
When we started out the year, we had finally launched Track Attack for Android officially out of the beta stage and were in the midst of moving Track Attack for Windows Phone out of Beta as well. By May, we had Track Attack commercially available across all three platforms (Windows, iOS and Android) with in large part the same features on each version.
Throughout the year we rolled out updates, just about once every other month for each platform. Most of the time our goal was to introduce one or two new features and fix bugs that cropped out. While we had a ton of bugs (and there are still some that exist, known and unknown) these are some of the features we are the most proud of:
We all know how nerve racking it can be when you’re at the hot pits, gridding up or pulling up to the start line for your race or session. The last thing you want to worry about is ‘hitting start’ before you get going, especially if you have gloves on or have positioned the phone behind you for a more complete video angle. With auto-start, you simply go into the Settings screen, enable Auto-Start, set the speed that you want video and timing to begin at and start your session. That’s it! The app will automatically start recording and timing as soon as you cross the speed threshold you set for more than one second. Here’s a quick video where we demonstrated how it works.
External GPS Compatibility
Related to the video above, making Track Attack compatible with external GPS systems that will sample at 5 and 10Hz was also huge. Smartphones, with their internal GPS systems sample at about 1Hz (or one reading per second) which for simple calculate of lap times, works perfectly fine. But for those who want to really dig into their data and figure out how to shave tenths of seconds or less, sampling at 5Hz is a minimum. Throughout the year, we took on this challenge and have made Track Attack on Windows Phone and Android compatible with the main external GPS system accessory, QSTARZ line of Bluetooth products. These products are well priced and have worked really well. For iOS, we are working on the compatibility but are constrained due to the iOS certification process but expect to have this out by the end of January. Below is a session recorded on an Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Qstarz 818XT, sampling at 5Hz.
Right Click the Image and Open in New Tab/Window
We know sharing is one of the top reasons people want an app like Track Attack and we spent a lot of time and efforts in enabling that through www.trackattackapp.com but thanks to your feedback, we realized that we needed to give our users options. This meant enabling you all to select a lap or full session and export the video with the data overlay at once so you can share wherever you want and create new videos. We heard you loud and clear and made efforts to make it happen. Unfortunately, this feature sounds a lot easier than it really is. In 2014 we made this happen for iOS, got 90% there with Android but hit some real roadblocks and have started exploring how to make it happen on Windows Phone. In 2015, we’ll get Android done and make it happen on Windows Phone, if it’s possible. Check out how it works on iOS below:
There’s a lot more that we did in 2014 but these are some of the highlights and we couldn’t have done it without your feedback and usage. We also couldn’t have done it without the great team of developers we’ve been able to assemble over the past year from all over the world. These guys are passionate and work tirelessly, usually in the evenings after their day jobs are done to make progress. Thank you to them in Canada, Italy and Ukraine!
Over the next week we’ll publish our plans for 2015 and hope you all will not just like them but give us feedback on how to make using Track Attack the must have app for when you hit the track, whether it be an oval, a drag strip, a road course, the cones or a dirt trail!
A few weeks ago our latest update to the iOS version of Track Attack was approved by the Apple App Store. Here’s what is included on both versions of Track Attack (Original Paid and Lite with In-App Purchase):
1. 100% offline mode
Starting with this version of Track Attack, we are shipping Track Attack with the full track database included in the application. This means you can download the app, lose data connection immediately and use Track Attack without any issues. This works well for users who cross international borders or go to race tracks with no data connection. A lot of times, they are lucky to get a hotspot to download the app but then have no other connection.
This also works for users who have data connection but want to make sure that an incoming call doesn’t disrupt their session so they take the SIM card out.
NOTE: Putting the phone in Airplane mode disables GPS completely.
This is one of our most requested features. It is annoying to have to hit start right before heading on the track, so with Auto-Start, you simply set at which speed you want Track Attack to start lap detection/session timing and recording video and it will go from there.
Once you select the track you are driving, no more buttons to press. Just hit the designated speed and it will start automatically. Note, you still have to hit stop at the end of the session.
Set your auto-start threshold in Settings
Auto-Start at pre-set speed threshold
3. Average Speeds and Distance Traveled
You may have seen the fields for these values in lap-based sessions below and most of the time they had zero values but we got that fixed. Now you will know the average speed and the distance you traveled in each session to help you dissect your performance and get faster!
Average Speed and Distances per Lap now displayed!
4. Bug Fixes
There were a number of areas that we fixed based on feedback and crash logs. You likely won’t see most of these but they will help the app run faster and smoother.
Earlier this week we released Track Attack Lite for iOS and it marks one of the last steps into a shift to what we think is a better model for our users: try before you buy.
Track Attack is focused on bringing functionality and experiences that can only be achieved with $1,000+ worth of hardware and software. In doing so we have to overcome hurdles in pushing smartphones to use most of their sensors, network connections and a good chunk of their horsepower. Sometimes a user’s device simply won’t run Track Attack well and we don’t want someone to pay money for something that can’t immediately use.
We also have to overcome believability hurdles with potential customers; can we actually pull these type of experiences off with just a smartphone and for such a low cost?
Try Before You Buy
This is why we are now going to universally have Track Attack and all future versions/SKU’s of Track Attack be free to download, try it out for three full functional sessions and then upgrade to the different levels of Track Attack. Each platform has different regulations around what can be submitted as a Free app and with Apple’s case, we’ll have only one SKU initially, PRO – the full function version of Track Attack. After a user uses up their 3 free trial sessions, they will still be able to record GPS based sessions and build their driver profile, without video.
Try before you buy!
Upgrading is super easy
To record video, upload video, store unlimited amounts of video sessions online and share instantly simply upgrade to Track Attack PRO.
Upgrade to PRO to continue recording video
I bought Track Attack before Lite was available, what do I do now?
In the next 2-3 months, we will retire Track Attack only paid version and have only Track Attack Lite (then it will be renamed simply, Track Attack). Before we retire Track Attack Paid Only, we will release an update that will include a functionality to identify all of the owners of that SKU in our database. We will ask all of those users to make sure they upload all of their videos they want to keep and delete Track Attack.
They will then download Track Attack Lite and sign in to their account on Track Attack. The app will confirm you are a paid account user and immediately unlock full feature functionality. Further, users will be able to go to Session History and synchronize their session history online with their device. From then on, you’ll be back up and running with all of our session history.
We expect to roll out this transition by the end of August and retire Track Attack Paid Only by the end of September 2014.
What else is new?
While the main change is big, we wanted to include some new cool functionality. Keeping on the theme of making it as easy as possible for a new user to try Track Attack out, we also changed our initial app launch process. Now users can simply download Track Attack and start using it immediately. No need to register an account first.
Use Track Attack instantly and register an account later!
In fact, users don’t need to register ever unless they want to upload their session videos or create a user-created track. The trade-off is that all of the session data (lap times, GPS data and video) will be on the phone only and if anything happens to the phone, all the data is lost. Translation – you still want to create an account!
You still want to register an account though – don’t lose awesome footage like this!
As always, let us know what you think and spread the word about Track Attack! We have some great things planned and they will be even more awesome with a large and vibrant community of users!
Earlier this week we got approval for a small but important update to the iOS version of Track Attack.
The big update and change is the optimization for iOS7 – we took time to make sure we understood what the changes in iOS7 would do to Track Attack. Thankfully, the last version of Track Attack worked well on iOS7 by default but when we build and develop specifically for iOS 7, it is a different story. The UI has been updated to blend smoothly with the general iOS7 UI and we’ve made sure Track Attack is functional for all core features.
The new home screen on Track Attack for iOS 7
Session History Screen
New and Clean Session Details
Optimized Playback Screen for iPhone 5 and newer screens
Secondly, we made a number of small bug fixes and stabilization improvements. Most of these will go unnoticed but here are two which were reported by users:
Upload Hang Up – for some users, when initially starting an upload of a video, upload progress would stop after 1% of progress. The fix was to hard kill the app and re-launch it, of which upon re-launch and connection to Wi-Fi, the app would immediately start uploading.
Crashes associated with unique time zone/language settings. For very few users, there are unique and non-standard formats for time zone and language settings which would not allow the app to properly display session history.
Let us know what you think and look out for more updates this summer for Track Attack on iOS and across the other platforms!
Last year was so much fun, why not do it again? I got to drive some amazing tracks, met some awesome people and even got on Top Gear UK’s website when I took part in the last episode of Tuerck’d. Going into this Formula Drift season I was really looking to keep things consistent and not try to drastically change the car. The plan was to perfect what we had instead of changing for sake of change. The focus was to make the car lighter and get some more power while still overall trying to keep our program similar. With the idea of keeping things the same I thought we’d be able to get a lot of practice in.
However it always seems to come down to the final days before we finish. Yes, we had not as much on our plate and yes, we should have been ready months ago but it just didn’t happen. But we had a realistic plan along with great partners and we made it happen.
Changes for 2014
During the Tuerck’d Oregon Trail video we ended up breaking our Gforce GSR transmission. PSI was great and managed the process for getting the transmission fixed.
Turbo By Garrett was awesome to us this year by getting us the new Garrett GTX4088R turbo.
Ray from Garage Autohero worked his fabrication magic and re-did the entire rear end of my car and added in a fuel cell.
My father took on the task of removing all the factory windows and replacing them with lighter/stronger lexan.
These changes reduced the weight of the car by 130lbs and the Turbo change netted us an additional 65 horsepower.
Of course Factory 83 also worked his magic and re-did the vinyl on the car.
The all up final product was the coolest and most race ready car I have ever owned and the entire team was ready for action!
As far as the FD season, I spoke to one of my great partners, Achilles and was offered the opportunity to join their program on the big rigs. But after some long deliberation I chose against it due to a multitude of reasons. Therefore we planned to just run the same 4 events. Round 1, 5 ,6 and 7
We officially finished the car the Sunday before Long Beach. Cutting it far too close however we were 2 days a head of last year so that says something “cough” Bad planning “cough”. Taking advantage of an open drift day at Evergreen Speedway we chose to bring the car back from PSI into Washington where we would test, then my team would load up and head down mid-week for Long Beach.
It was a long winter that’s for sure. I missed driving so much, but I’m honest when I say I was pushing the car and doing things I never had done to that point in my drifting career. Still far from where I want to be but very happy thus far and great for a shakedown day. I gave a number of ride-alongs that day on the FD course and even took part in a Landslide fundraiser to raise some funds for the people who tragically lost loved ones in the Oso Landslide. Was a great day overall.
Here are a few of my runs using Track Attack for Drifting. Track Attack is one of my new partners for 2014 and excited to share video with data with you all and leverage to help me become a better driver.
Going into Long Beach I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t having anxiety like I was when thinking about drifting the hills with Tuerck in Oregon Trail. However I was a bit nervous. Last year I came to Long Beach just hoping to leave with my car in one piece. Certainly not the mindset you want going into a place like Long Beach. This year I knew my skills were much better however I still wasn’t overly confident as this place is a challenging course.
Check out our new team shirts!
I spent Thursday going through Tech and assisting my team in getting the car ready for Friday. There was one thing I didn’t do this year and in fact I didn’t do last year. WALKTHE TRACK! This will surface its head later but once we had the car prepped we all went back to the hotel and got some much needed sleep.
Friday came and we were ready as ever. Final preparations were being made by the team as I was in the drivers meeting. I’m going to take this time and discuss one more big change to the 2014 team. We actually have a team. Ray Stonehocker, the man behind Garage Autohero is on board as much as his busy future father filled schedule will allow. He brings a ton of knowledge and ability to the team.
Additionally he really helps me calm down and focus in. Brian Kirk, who is one of the skilled hands from PSI is joining us to aid in prepping the car and making sure we are ready to go. My father is still loving this hobby and has even stepped up further by taking on the responsibility along with Brian, of driving the car to the west coast events. We also have my girlfriend, Lindsey, who is managing and will act as a spotter for a number of rounds when my spotter from last year, Lucas Perez, can’t make it.
Time to Drive (or Crash)
Remember when I mentioned the track walk and how I forgot to do that? Well first run out of the gate. I jam down the straight really calm and collected (not focused at all) and decide I’m going to look for tire marks to use as an approximation for initiating my drift. This caused me to completely overshoot the initiation point and go into the tire wall square on my driver’s side. There I sat, brand new awesome car with all the good stuff and I put it in the wall on run 1 in turn 1. I thought about waiting for the Aid car or tow truck but when I turned the wheel, the car seemed to move ok. I saw the tow truck turn the corner but I moved the car forward and proceeded to call off the tow truck as I drove the car into the pits.
My Team did a quick check of the car. I didn’t get out of the car as the door was caved in and I had concerns we would not be able to shut the door again. So after quickly removing the bumpers which were hanging off I was told to go right back to the front.
The cool thing was that I wasn’t shaken at all. I knew I had the ability to drive this track and that I made a miscalculation and didn’t realize how fast the car was in its new form. I warmed up the tires and proceeded to lay down run after run. Each getting better and better. I hot lapped the course as much as possible until my run group was done.
Once back in the pits my team proceeded to rebuild my car before qualifying. Hammers, zip-ties, cut off wheels, and tape were put to use and soon enough the car looked almost as good as it did before the hit. All that remained were a few dents and some scuffs. I actually liked the look. The car had some character.
Getting better and better.
Leading into qualifying I wasn’t nervous or thinking what could be? I was excited and ready. I lined up and launched the car. In the latter half of my run I actually thought “This is a good run!” But I spoke too soon and lost focus. On the final hairpin I pushed the final clipping cone and there went my good score.
I was disappointed but didn’t feel the pressure. I was ready for my second run.
I would need to wait awhile before I gota second run at the track. Leading up to my second run I started to think about Texas last year where I qualified for Top 32 and got to run the awesome Texas track over and over. I kept thinking about how awesome that was and how much I want to keep driving the Long Beach track. I didn’t want Top32 for glory or Facebook likes. I wanted top 32 simply to keep driving and having fun.
So leading up to my run I had a mindset that I never had before. I was willing to wreck my car if that’s what it took to qualify for this event. The car I had owned since 2002. The car I truly cared about. I’d write it off if need be. I was finally ready for Formula Drift.
I launched into my second run however it was over before I knew it. I got too much angle to start my run and I was moved off-line. I kept on the gas as hard as I could and was able to pull out the run and even bettered my first run with a very whacky line. However it wasn’t good enough. Honestly, my first run was much better and if I didn’t hit the cone in my first run I would have likely qualified.
But of course I would let it go right!? Just accept defeat and move on for the weekend? Yeah, that’s not happening. I watched the videos of my runs over and over. Nitpicking mistakes and being hypercritical. I could accept defeat for Long Beach but I HATED the idea of waiting until Formula D round 5 in Seattle as I wasn’t planning on running the east coast events.
So I talked with my team and ran a few ideas by everyone. We wanted to go east. I reached out to a driver I really respect and have known for a while. He just so happened to have a spot available. So my trailer ended up coming back to the NW empty as my S14 headed east. This is my whacky way of saying we are running 6 or possibly all 7 rounds. We may by pass Jersey, as most of the team won’t be there and the track honestly doesn’t look fun. But that is a call we will make in a few months.
Right now myself, Ray from Garage Autohero, and my father are working together to get my S13 practice car running. Some brand new Rays Gram Lights wheels are on the way along with some sticky Achilles 123s tires. I’m excited to get to drive my SR20engine again and hope to get some great practice before Formula D Atlanta.
There’s different phones with different storage sizes and not all sessions are created equally. So with Track Attack for iOS and Android, you have the option to record in three different video qualities. As of this post (December 23, 2013), video quality settings are supported on iOS (iPhone) and Android versions of Track Attack, for the phones which support
480p: Lowest video quality and will take up the smallest amount of storage on your device. Generally, we’ve seen a 25 minute session take about 120MB’s of space (~10-12 song equivalent). Think of this as standard TV definition. Will look fine on your phone, ok on a web browser but not that great if you blow it up.
1080p: Boom! High definition, well technically, for phones that support video quality above 720p, we make this the highest video quality available on the particular phone. In most phones, this video will look amazing and have you wondering why you did or ever wanted to buy a GoPro camera.
Off-season. What off-season?We’ve been hard at work squashing bugs and making the iOS version of Track Attack on par with the Android version. Here are the coolest things about the latest update:
Track Database Download: You ever been to a race track that had no data connection or better yet, you didn’t want a pesky text message or notification to pop up in the middle of your session? With Track Database Download you can shut off the world and have Track Attack work 100%! Go to Settings > Download Track Database and a small file which contains all 600+ race tracks in the database will be available to you with no data connection.
Session History Sync: A lot of things can happen with our smartphones and inevitably, at some point they get wiped or we get a new one. With Session History Sync, go ahead and lose, give away or just buy a bunch of different phones. Log in with your Track Attack credentials and you’ll have your entire session history at your finger tips. If you have uploaded session videos, those session videos will automatically stream directly to your phone with a data connection.
Improved reliability with ‘Auto-Delete’ functionality – when enabled, this option will automatically delete locally stored video files from your phone when they are uploaded and successfully processed/edited for streaming online.
Improved quality of Session Replay – makes sure the video shows up correctly regardless of changing the phones orientation while playing video back.
We’ve been busy over the past couple months, finishing up features available via the Android beta version and getting as many of those as possible on the iPhone version. We’re happy to report that v2 is now live! Here are the top new features you can expect from v2:
New User Interface: We’ve moved from having a hierarchical system, where you start from one screen to a main menu navigation at the bottom of the app screen. Here you can easily navigate between starting new sessions, reviewing your session history, upload status, profile information and settings. We’ve also created landscape support for all the screens!
Session Types: While our roots are in road racing, where we have start/finish line and ideally do lap, after lap, after lap, we know there’s many other types of motorsports, where point to point is the name of the game. So drag racers, rally drivers and auto-x’s, we got you covered! We’re actively working to get as many drag race circuits and hill climb routes on the database as possible but the great thing is that each of you can create tracks on the fly and have everyone else use them immediately!
Lap Based Sessions: Road Course, Rally-Cross, Oval
This means the start line and finish line are at the same location. Timing calculation is for each lap.
Point to Point Based Sessions: Rally Stage, Auto-X, Drag, Hill Climb and Drift
This means the start line location is different from the finish line location. Timing calculation is from when the driver crosses the start line to when they cross the finish line.
Creating Point to Point Based Circuits: This applies to drag racing, rally stages, Auto-X, Hill Climb and Drifting. Creating a track is pretty straight forward:
Select the session type of racing you are running.
Select the ‘Create Track’ button
By default, the ‘Start’ pin is dropped at the center of your current location. You can touch the pin and drag to where you want to establish the start line. If you need to view the hybrid view of the map (aerial with streets), simply select the ‘layers’ button on the top right of the screen.
Tap the ‘Add Finish Line’ button to drop the finish line. Note, the finish line pin will be dropped in the current location of where you are, so if you deviated a bit from that location, it will move you back.
After you’ve established the start and finish line, hit ‘NEXT’
Provide the name of the circuit, track or stage and hit Finish.
That’s it! If you have a data connection, that track is saved on the database and is available to all users immediately.
An example on how to create an Auto-X course at my local Costco parking lot
We’re excited to have everyone try out V2, which incorporates a lot of what we’ve developed on the Android version and providing feedback so we can make it better.
We’ve had a busy last couple weeks doing final testing and going through the approval process for Track Attack 1.1.2 on iOS. As of this afternoon, it is approved and ready for download. Here are the main changes with the build:
Registration Bug: In some cases, new users would register via the app but not all profile information would make it to our servers. The issue that would come up is that the app would through an error when looking at the Driver Profile and Race Car Profile page. This issue is now fully resolved.
Video Upload: Uploading large files over the internet is always tough no matter what the purpose or file type and we had our fair share of challenges. The bug was primarily found when users would record 30 minute+ sessions in HD which would result in video files 2.5GB+. The upload would sometimes get stuck at certain %, primarily because a packet would get lost in the process. Well, we revamped the entire upload management process and made it bullet proof. Two months and 100+ hours of testing later, we have an almost bullet proof upload manager. We also updated upload performance management where the app will dynamically adapt and make the most of all available bandwidth to get your video uploaded ASAP. In many cases we saw 3GB files uploaded in 1.5 hours using standard Comcast Cable Internet!
General App Performance Improvements: Since we spent two weeks on testing after race weekends, we also took time and made several improvements to the code base to make the app generally faster and more bullet proof. Most users should see responsiveness improvements across most screens.
As always, let us know what you think and we look forward to sharing updates on our V2 of Track Attack which is well underway! So what are you waiting for? Get on a track this weekend, drive smart, upload and share!
This blog entry for now will be used to publish the known issues we have and status for getting them fixed. Feel free to post comments on here to add new items or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Track Attack on iOS: Updated 8/6/2014
Current Versions: 2.0.8 (Full Paid Version) 1.0.2 (Lite – enables free download and trial with in-app upgrade option)
Users who had 2.0.5 or older versions and upgraded to 2.0.6 may experience an issue where their session history is not showing in the history page. This was reported by 2 users and 2.0.8 resolved the issue. Note, if you recorded new sessions successfully but they did not show up in your history, they are not lost. They are simply not showing in the UI. The 2.0.8 update fixed this problem but contact us at email@example.com if you are still having issues.
Track Attack on Android: Updated 8/6/2014
Current Versions: 1.1.7
Inconsistent lap detection when recording at 1080p and sampling at 10Hz using an external GPS accessory. The issue is that the application is doing too many things at once and most phones, even with quad core processors cannot detect the lap times in real time. Status: Fix is being developed. ETA: August 29, 2014. Note: Recording at 1080p with only the internal GPS sensor works 100%. Recording at 1080p with 5Hz works 100%. It is only recording at 1080p at 10Hz which is creating problems.
For users who have purchased PRO, sometimes when internet connection is lost, the app believes the user is still in trial mode. Status: Fix is being developed. ETA: August 29, 2014. Workaround: Make sure you have an internet connection, hard kill the application, launch the Google Play store (confirm it is connecting to the store) and then relaunch Track Attack. Make sure you are signed into Track Attack as well and it should detect you are a PRO customer. The combination that is needed is validation from the Google Play store as a PRO purchaser and logged in with your account on Track Attack.
Track Attack on Windows Phone: Updated 8/6/2014
Current Versions: 1.0.2
Website Processing Errors: HD video uploads are being corrupted during the upload process and causing web site processing errors. This means that during the upload, at least one block is lost and thus is not a complete file for the server to process. This can be caused by trying to upload a large video file on a weak or intermittent internet connection. Ideally, users should connect to the strongest/fastest Wi-Fi connection available and use that to upload a video. Status: Fix is being developed. ETA: August 10, 2014. Note: This will not impact any of the sessions on your phone. Once the fix is released, users will have to re-upload their session videos.
Fun Run Bug: Fun run currently has lap-detection logic built into the session type which means that for auto-crossers who do a Fun Run session, if they go over the same place twice, it will detect that as a lap and not play full session from beginning to end during replay. Status: Fix is being developed. ETA: August 10, 2014. Workaround: None. Once the fix is released, the sessions will play back correctly and future Fun Run recordings will not have any laps detected.