on Android

The software described here runs on the Android beta from May 2008. It will probably not run on the G1 phone; if you try it, please let us know what happens. Sign up for our mailing list to be notified when we've ported the code to the G1.

You hike to the top of a mountain or pull off at a scenic overlook. You see mountains in the distance. Which mountains are they? HeyWhatsThat will tell you, providing a 360° panoramic sketch labeled with the names of the peaks you're looking at. From almost anywhere in the world.

HeyWhatsThat. It's a compelling question — we've all asked it — and no one else on the web answers it.

HeyWhatsThat has been available on the web for about a year, and if you knew where you were going ahead of time, or if you had a laptop and connectivity, you could learn the names of those distant mountains. Now this unique application will be available when you most want it: when you're out on the trail or parked at that scenic overlook with only your mobile phone in hand.

Quick Start
Download our Android code file hwt1.apk here and install it on the emulator with adb install hwt1.apk

(As of this writing, there's apparently no way to download and install using the emulator's browser. If anyone has an easy way to load apps from the net, please drop us a line.)

Ask to see the view from ...where I'm standing right now. When the computation finishes, you'll see a schematic drawing of the horizon, with named summits marked by red triangles. Click and drag the panorama and use the right and left arrow keys to move around. Menu choices will bring you the summits overlaid on a map and in a list.

Other menu choices on the first screen let you see panoramas that have already been computed, including those you've requested yourself and nearby spots that others have requested and made public.

The application checks for your location when you start, and whenever you hit the Update location menu item. Some of the Android SDKs are configured to simulate travel around the Bay Area, but for those without location simulation, the application will default to Bar Harbor, Maine. For demonstration purposes, you can force a few sample locations by selecting the Demo locations menu item.

Coming Attractions
Future development will bring more of the functionality of the web site — viewsheds, profiles and contours — to the mobile platform, and enable the linking of web accounts to your mobile phone, so you can build a portfolio of views and load them on the phone before you travel.

The bearings we show are magnetic. Go to the Details screen to learn the correction for true bearings.

Views are currently limited to latitudes between 60°N and 54°S. We use the United States Geological Survey's compilation of elevation data taken by during the November 2000 Shuttle Radar Tomography Mission (SRTM).

You'll always get a panoramic view of the horizon, but it may not include any visible peaks. This could be because our elevation data puts your location a bit below your surroundings, so the software thinks your view is occluded by the surrounding terrain. Within a city, you may get shadowy bumps and gaps in the panorama; this happens because the elevation data we use includes building rooftops. It's also possible that our database simply doesn't have accurate names and locations for the visible mountain peaks. This is often the case outside of the United States, and we're always looking for better data.

To try HeyWhatsThat on the web, go to www.heywhatsthat.com and click on New Panorama. Enter an address, or pan, zoom and click on the map to mark your location, and hit Submit. Once your panorama is ready, you'll see a 360° sketch of your horizon, a list of visible summits, and a map of those summits. Click on visibility cloak and contours to add viewshed and elevation visualizations to the map. Hit Show profile to open a window with elevation cross-sections. With other controls you can export your panorama to Google Earth and overlay your horizon on the night sky. Be sure to hit Sign up to receive occasional emails about the site.

For more information, see our FAQ at www.heywhatsthat.com/faq.html, contact us at and sign up for our occasional email announcements.