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Okay, I just published this blog post. What I'd like to do in this thread is cover some slightly more advanced stuff, and give you guys a spot to contribute contexts that you find helpful.

The first thing that's helpful to know is that all of Google's search operators are supported. You can use those to restrict your results to things that are actually relevant.

Example, which actually came from a customer:
Home Improvement context which does this business search:
"Lowes" OR "Home Depot" OR hardware -"Restoration Hardware"

This finds results from either of the two big home improvement chains; failing that, it falls back on a general search for a hardware store, but specifically excludes the chain that's not really a hardware store. :-)

Anyone got any other handy ones they use?

Last edited by Brian; 2009-06-11 at 06:18 PM..
 
Since you already listed the most important contexts (I could only add specialty stores), there are some improvements to the Nearby view I'd love to see, to avoid getting shown irrelevant stuff:
1. limit distance, i.e. show only stuff in a distance of max 3 miles (or some other configurable value). I frequently get shown stuff for contexts I definitely cannot reach right now.
2. limit time (i.e. I'd like to add opening hours for stores. I live in Europe, 24/7 store availability does not exist here, not even for the biggest chains :-)
3. add Nearby to OmniFocus Mac (isn't there location-awareness in Snow Leopard?) My favorite way to have this would be a "Sort by distance" option for the sorting field in the list view. Then I could add my own Nearby perspective.

tib.
 
I really like the location-aware context feature of OF and I use it a lot. I live in a rural area, about 30+ miles from a larger city, and there are some errands that I can complete only when in the city. Many of these errands may not pressing when I enter them in OF, so I can put them off to whenever I am in the area next. These tasks do not clutter my daily radar, but when I am in the city and do a location search, these tasks are now in my radar and I can act on them accordingly. This lets me complete the tasks when convenient, and I seldom need to make special trips to complete the errands. I'm not sure if this explanation is making complete sense, but bottom line is that this feature does save me much time and resources when running errands. I'm really looking forward to using maps within OF with the iPhone 3.0 update.
 
ok, what am i doing wrong? I setup a context called 'grocery". i set a business search to "grocery." When I tell it to find, it picks the closes one and sets a route in maps to this. Turns out this is some cheesy convenience store. What I want to be able to do is the equivalent of typing "grocery" into google maps and getting a picture of all the pins nearby that meet the tag "grocery." I can then select the pin and get directions if I don't know how to get there already.

I don't need to have it jump to the directions to the closest one. That means I need to back it all up and retype the search.

Make sense?

J.
 
It makes some sense, but it isn't what is provided. The current implementation just gives you the closest one (not sure off the top of my head if that is closest by distance to travel or closest by straight-line distance, though I believe it is the latter). Being somewhat choosy about my groceries, I built up a search based on the names of the various grocery stores I patronize, on the theory that I probably am not going to be doing that errand far afield. It would be quite a bit easier to construct such a search with a real keyboard and maybe a bit of cut and paste!

Not immediately obvious to me that Omni really has the right pieces available to display a list of nearby choices and let you choose one. Have you seen any apps not provided by Apple or Google that do so? And how would this work when you have multiple location contexts with actionable items? It shows the closest one, as it does now, but you have some button to tell it you want to override the Location Services choice for a given context?
 
Speaking personally, I believe that using a generic search term for OF's context-based Location Service is next to worthless, yet is one of the most common examples given to demonstrate the technology. Your example of the grocery store search demonstrates this well. OF will suggest the closest store that sells anything grocery related, even if it is a gas station that sells milk (what I might need to pick up) for $5.00 a gallon. The store may also be 5 miles in the other direction that I am headed, but since it is the closest to where I am at the time, it's the one that gets displayed.

I've found the utility of this feature much more useful to me using more specific search criteria, for a few contexts only. Assigning a location to a grocery store context-I don't need. For me, going to the grocery is a planned errand and I don't need to know where the closest one is as I already know where I want to go. If I do need to pick up, say a gallon of milk, I also can pretty easily find a store along my route that sells milk. Where I find the feature useful is to either a) use the physical address or GPS coordinates for the location or b) use more specific business search terms. As example, I use the 'Home Depot' or 'Lowe's' search for home improvement store errands, an 'OfficeMax' or 'Office Depot' for office supplies, and a 'mybankname' to search for the closest ATM machine of my bank so I'm not charged an ATM fee. This approach works much better for me than using the more generic search terms.

Last edited by Greg Jones; 2009-06-14 at 04:39 AM..
 
Well, so far, the capability exists for all of these in the choices that can be selected for the location of the context. Unfortunately, all choices resolve to only the direction to the closest one.

I travel a lot. I can see making a list of items I need and then needing to find them when I get there (I stay for usually a week at a time so groceries are needed). If I had done this, using the example above, I would have gone to the wrong place and had no information as to where the right choice was. Not exactly a great way to help me "get things done."

I don't need to know the location of things around my home area. I know where all the Home Depots, Lowes, and hardware stores are. I know where to stop on the way home from work etc... It's when I'm somewhere that is not familiar that matters.

Where it really matters is when I'm not home and not in familiar surroundings.

So, when the context is set as "business search" then it ought to go as a straight set of search terms to google maps. When it is location, use the GPS coordinates. Do not put it in "directions" mode but "search" mode and I can pick the pin that makes sense for me. I can then get direction there if I need it.

Google Maps also need to be carefully sanity checked. It's wrong a not insignificant percentage of the time even when given a fully specified address.

Right now, as set, this feature looks to be poor utility in my estimation. Just changing it to "search" instead of "directions" will work much better and be much more flexible regardless of the location method selected for the context. Hard setting "directions" is overreaching and maybe the choice between "search" and "directions" should be a preference. K.I.S.S. applies.



J.
 
Why not just use the Maps application, then? You can type in your search, click on a red pin selected from the results, click a button to add it to your contacts, then update your location context with that contact.
 
then what's the purpose of having location based services in OF? The object is to make it easy to solve your problem. Sending you to the wrong location doesn't do that.

Otherwise this looks to me like a solution looking for a problem.

J.
 
We really need a push alert / alarm for when we are near a location where we have a task to do..
 
 


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