Brookville-based AGLogic releases Android version of its popular ‘swackett’ app
BROOKVILLE — Nearly two years after its debut, swackett, the popular weather app produced by the Brookville-based company AGLogic, has been made available to Android users.
"If you google 'swackett,' the first word that comes up in the auto-suggest is 'swackett Android,' which means a lot of people were looking for it," said C. Scott Gilbert, the founder and director of AGLogic.
The app — whose name stands for sweater, jacket or coat? — is a visual weather app that features little people referred to as "peeps" whose style of dress will change based on the weather anticipated for that day.
It also comes in a number of editions allowing users to change the peeps' dress based on age group or even historical era.
"Weather reports up until now have been clouds and a bunch of numbers, and it's hard to get a sense of it," Gilbert said. "We distilled all that down into a peep with a jacket. It's a visual presentation of complex data."
Typically, the app comes in two varieties: swackett and swackett X.
Ordinarily, swackett is available as a free download, whereas swackett X is a paid one featuring a number of extras. Both are available for Mac and the iPhone, with swackett now making the transition to Android.
The iPad has a different but related app called Peepometer, a spin-off of sorts from the original swackett.
"It's swackett in that it still has peeps and stuff because it's an AGLogic product, but it's basically weather gauges and stuff like that ... It was just something different," Gilbert said, adding that the Peepometer app was also well received, being featured in a tweet sent out by Apple to millions of people.
A version of swackett for the iPad is currently in the works. Gilbert said that all of the swackett releases to date have been part of what AGLogic calls the swackett 1.0 series.
The iPad app that's under development will be the first of version 2.0, with the other devices to follow.
Gilbert said that users can expect to see a lot of changes to swackett with the advent of the new version.
"From our point of view, it's the best work we've ever done in terms of human interface," he said. "It's a completely re-imagined take on swackett."
In the meantime, the newly released Android version of swackett continues the wave of the 1.0 series.
"We kept it as close as we could to the iPhone version, but we implemented some standard things that, if you're an Android user, you're expecting to see — certain behaviors that are specific to the Android," said Bill Hubauer, the senior systems architect at AGLogic. "We tried to make it feel as comfortable as possible to an Android user, but otherwise, it's virtually identical to the iPhone app."
Gilbert added, "We tried to keep them the same as much as possible."
He cited some differences in screen sizes, navigation and a few other areas but said that, in the end, "Basically, it's the same app."
Gilbert said that the idea for swackett came about while he was serving as the director of information technology at a company called AGI, which primarily sells computer parts.
Talk of the potential to be found in the growing mobile app market was prevalent in the technology industry at the time, and Gilbert was hoping to be involved in it.
"We thought that, because we deal with computer parts or small boxes, let's do home automations," Gilbert said.
They started working on home automations apps — for example, an app allowing the user to turn off the lights in a house from the screen of an iPhone. None of those apps were released, existing only as pilot programs.
"And in order to do home automation, you need to know — what time is the sun coming up? Is it going to rain? ... Do we need to run the sprinklers? That kind of thing," Gilbert said.
Because of these needs, they contracted with Accuweather in order to obtain weather data to facilitate the home automation apps they were developing. During the process, Gilbert had an idea for a visual weather app.
"And I thought, 'You know what? Let's just do a weather app, just for the heck of it, just to get something out there,'" he said. "Didn't expect it to make a big splash, didn't expect to make any money on it."
Gilbert learned that Apple would be launching its Mac App Store on Jan. 6, 2011, which would serve as a new store for purchasing software.
"And I thought, 'You know, if we could release this weather app in that store, because it's new, that would help us get ahead of the competition,'" he said. "So, that's what we did, and lo and behold, the day it launched, Apple put us on the homepage of this brand-new store. We had 30,000 customers on the first day. In the first 10 days, we had 100,000 customers ... And that changed everything."
They put the home automation app projects on hold and devoted themselves full-time to swackett.
Now, two years later, swackett has about 1.5 million users around the world.
Since then, the app has been featured on a number of major journalistic
outlets. At one point, CNN named swackett one of "50 new tech tools you should know about."
It also appeared on “The Today Show;” was named one of "10 better alternatives to your iPhone's native apps" by mashable.com and a "top app for road warriors" by CNBC; was selected for inclusion in App Store Rewind 2011; and was named a finalist in the 2011 Design, Art and Technology (DATA) Awards.
Other versions of it have drawn attention as well: Mashable.com named the Peepometer one of "15 weather apps for the iPad," and swackett X was named a "Best of Mac App Store 2011" app.
Gilbert said that such media exposure frequently precedes large spikes in swackett downloads.
"Those bumps are important to us, because they drive new downloads ... And in our business, it's all about how many users you have, how many new users you're getting, how many page views you're generating," Gilbert said.
Outside of swackett, AGLogic also does some work for hire, including projects for McDonald's and UPMC in the past.
The company also has a few ideas for future projects.
"We're looking at a new project right now that would be a big multimedia presentation system for a large facility," Hubauer said.
He said it would take the form of a system designed for leading tours of a building, through different video presentations and interactive exhibits.
However, he said that particular project has not started yet and is only in the "proposal phase."
Hubauer also said AGLogic has some interest in mobile gaming but is currently occupied in continuing to develop swackett.
Gilbert said, "swackett 2.0 is a big endeavor, because it's going to force us to upgrade all of our apps, so that's going to keep us busy for the foreseeable future."
On the notion of AGLogic's future and the potential for expansion, Gilbert said, "We do want to grow as a high technology company right here in small-town Brookville. These kinds of jobs that we offer here, I think are really good jobs."
"Brookville is an interesting community. Over the last couple of years, there's been a real renaissance of creativity," Hubauer said, citing some of the work groups like CREATE Brookville have begun doing in the area.
He added that both he and Gilbert had grown up in this part of Pennsylvania, after which they moved away to cities for a while.
"This area is special to us," Hubauer said, "and we're excited about growing something here ... It's not just that we're doing it, but that we're doing it here."