Meet Exaud’s Project ExaudOnPlug: An Interview with the Team Behind the Android App Simplifying Electric Vehicle Charging
In this interview, we delve into ExaudOnPlug, an internal project by Exaud, which encompasses a mobile app designed to simplify the charging experience for electric vehicle owners. Developed exclusively for Android devices, ExaudOnPlug seamlessly connects users to convenient charging stations along their routes and at their destinations. Join us as we sit down with the talented team behind this innovative mobile app, as we explore its development process and discover the remarkable features that set ExaudOnPlug apart.
What inspired the team to create ExaudOnPlug?
I think it was mainly the need to be more comfortable and to learn more about Android development while also practicing the industry’s best practices. In the beginning, we searched for APIs that included login management, and we chose an API that provides charging station locations for electric cars, hence the name OnPlug. The decision to make the app about car charging stations was a mix of the team’s need to increase their competences, the well-structured API, and the emerging use case of electric vehicles becoming more prevalent, with no widely available and easy-to-use way of accessing this information, regardless of the car brand or model used.
How would you describe the solution you’ve developed and who is the intended audience that will benefit from it?
The app is currently designed for Android devices and aims to help electric vehicle owners locate convenient charging stations along their route or at their destination. Our goal is to provide a native mobile experience while also expanding it to a convenient in-car use case. To achieve this, we plan to leverage existing frameworks and standards in the automotive industry. The app has the potential to assist any user who drives an electric car and needs to charge their vehicle away from home or make a longer trip that requires planning charging stops and durations. Besides that, the app supports dark mode and currently offers two languages: English and Portuguese. However, we have the capability to add more languages in the future, so we are not limited in terms of i18n (internationalization).
What are the main features and functionalities of ExaudOnPlug, and how do they benefit the user?
The app displays charging stations for electric cars, providing details such as the connection type, voltage, and quantity of available connections. It consists of two main screens: one presents a list of charging stations, sorted by distance as the default view, while the other displays the same charging stations on a map, centered around the user’s position. Additionally, the app features a search function that enables users to input an address, city, or point of interest, along with relevant filters. We offer a login-free access option with essential functionality, as well as an offline mode. One of our key advantages is providing users with multiple ways to access information on charging stations. Users can obtain information by utilizing their current location, conducting a search for a specific address, city, or point of interest, or simply by driving and viewing the map while navigating.
What were the toughest challenges you faced during the project, and how did the team managed to overcome them?
João Pereira – One of the significant challenges I encountered in this project was determining the most effective way to structure it while following the best practices of Android development.
Carlos Pinto – In terms of project structure, my primary challenge revolved around clearly defining the appropriate placement of various components. When it comes to software structuring principles, not everything is universally objective, and different sources present differing opinions. Consequently, agreeing upon the most suitable location for specific functionalities proved challenging at times.
Samuel Mota – One of the most significant challenges I faced was comprehending the interactions within the project structure while developing new features or functionalities. However, over time, I dedicated myself to studying and becoming familiar with the design pattern we are using. This proved invaluable in preventing confusion as the project expanded and added more layers of complexity.
Nuno Aguiar – My greatest challenge involved ensuring that everyone was aligned with the desired implementation of new features and the code structure. This was particularly challenging because we adopted a development architecture that none of us had prior experience with. Additionally, a notable roadblock we encountered was the scarcity of electric cars available for real-life testing, which impeded our ability to validate certain functionalities.
Cátia Azevedo – Since joining the project during a stage where the majority of the main features were already developed and the code was structured, one of the main challenges I encountered and continue to face is integrating myself into the project to gain a comprehensive understanding of the codebase, its architecture, and the overall structure.
What is the current status of the project, and what are the upcoming steps for its development and implementation? Additionally, is there anything specific that the team is eagerly looking forward to in the project’s future?
Looking ahead, we have exciting ideas to implement, such as route planning with features like considering stops, selecting specific points, adding alerts for nearby points of interest (POIs), and utilizing waypoints. Additionally, we plan to introduce car profiles, allowing users to define multiple car specifications and easily switch between different profiles based on their specific needs and preferences.
We are enthusiastic about the prospect of automatically detecting a car’s properties and showing users relevant charging stations without manual input. Additionally, we plan to add a feature that allows users to submit reviews and ratings for electric car stations, providing valuable information for others seeking charging options.
Preview ExaudOnPlug’s interface with these screenshots of the app:
A sincere thank you goes out to the team, including Nuno Aguiar, José Cruz, João Pereira, Samuel Mota, Carlos Pinto, Cátia Azevedo, and Tiago Borba, for graciously providing their insights in this interview.
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