Google Store Page Restored

I have finally figured out how to satisfy Google that my use of device location meets their policy requirement, and they have restored my Google Play Store page for SASHA.

This has been a very frustrating experience for me. Firstly, it turns out that when they review an app for compliance, they review all the latest versions they can find, even if the version is in a disabled test track. This was not documented anywhere! One would have naively thought that they are reviewing just the latest submission….

Secondly, they seem to require that the app’s use of location services be coded a specific way, rather than accepting any coding which meets their requirements.

Finally, support for policy issues is non-existent! I struggled with this issue for over a month: countless chats with ‘regular’ support, emails, etc., and many promises that ‘policy support’ will get back to me. They never did, not once! They are like a black hole!

Google removed SASHA from app store!!

Users alerted me that SASHA is no longer visible in the Google Play Store.

Yes, Google took the app down!

I’ve been trying to implement a version which complies with their new “Location Policy” (they don’t want apps spying on users’ location). I submitted several versions which I think are compliant, but they keep on rejecting them saying they are not compliant (but not telling me why).

Then suddenly they took the app down for non-compliance last Thursday. I have appealed the decision, but getting through to a person who can explain what is really going on is nearly impossible. Hopefully, this will not last more than few days….

Please be patient….


SASHA gives results that seem too high

A user wrote:

Hello. I am wondering if the app takes into consideration buildings? My house faces west. I know the sun doesn’t shine on a good part of the beds in front until after lunch, even in the summer. So I stood on my front step, less than two feet from my house, faced east and used the app. It calculated 11.2 hours of sunlight. This cannot be right. The house blocks the morning sun. So then I went to the Northside of my house, that gets almost no sun; the house blocks the sun. The app said 9 house of sun. That is wrong. Does this work if a building is blocking the sun?
Am I doing something wrong?

Yes, the app should take into consideration buildings, trees, etc.

The first question that comes to mind is:  Was your device’s compass “calibrated”?  In other words, did the app have a correct idea of where the cardinal compass points are?  There are two ways you can check this:

  1. when you start the app, check to see if the ends of the red outline correspond to the sun’s rising and setting locations (at least approximately).
  2. A more accurate test is to go into the options menu (three vertical dots), select “advanced options” and then select “show angles”.  You will then see a green cross-hairs on the screen, and the Azimuth and Elevation angles corresponding to the cross-hairs will be shown in the “information panel” on the right of the screen.  Make sure these values are reasonable (within a few degrees). 

If either of these tests don’t seem right, google “Android compass calibration” and follow the instructions (you will have to wave the phone in a figure 8).

If none of this helps, next time you run the app,  please first go to “Advanced Options” again, and select “Send diagnostics when done”.   Then after the app is finished, it will create an email with diagnostic info, and ask you to send it to me.

Another possible reason for results that are too high is that the foliage on your trees is not fully leafed out. That means SASHA sees more sun getting through to your location and therefore gives a higher reading. This situation is easily remedies by turning on the “simulate foliage” feature found in “Option Menu -> enable foliage simulation”.

SASHA made it into TOP 5!!

SASHA has made it into the top 5 apps in the Google Play Stores category for “Paid Apps for House and Home”.  
I was caught completely by surprise!   This fact is displayed only in the Google Play Store App (which I almost never use) but not in the Web page for SASHA.  

SASHA has made it into the top 5 apps in the Google Play Stores category for “Paid Apps for House and Home”.
I was caught completely by surprise!   This fact is displayed only in the Google Play Store App (which I almost never use) but not in the Web page for SASHA.
 Screen Shot 

Screen Shot:

Where to stand when measuring sunlight?

A user asked the following:

“I really like the app. So easy to use! 
“My latest use case is that I have 2 rows of 4 raised garden beds and the perimeter area is surrounded by trees. I want a reading for each bed. Where should I stand? Consistently at the head or foot of each bed? In the center of the bed (difficult as I currently have crops in them)? In the general vicinity of the 8 bed footprint ( 30×25 feet)?
“I’m taking readings for this area as well as each area I plan to grow in. I never know where to stand.”


As far as your use case, here’s the story.   SASHA measures the direct sunlight at the location of the camera.  If you stand at the end of a row, it will be measuring the sunlight at the end of the row at the elevation you are holding the camera.  Likewise at the middle of the row, etc.  Therefore, the most accurate measurement for the end of a row of radishes, for example, would be taken at the end of the row at the level (elevation) where the radish foliage will be.  Needless to say, it would be awkward to do that, although it is possible (e.g. lie down on the ground and take a measurement, or place a mirror on the ground to see the screen as you scan).   The only time I would recommend doing something like that would be when another low plant or obstruction is the cause of shade.   In most cases, where shade is caused by trees or buildings, standing at the location of interest, or a step or 2 South of the location, would be close enough.  You can use your own shadow a rough guide for how far away to stand.

Your growing plot is large enough that a “shade map” would be valuable.  A primitive shade map can made by subdividing your plot into squares (about a yard on a side) and taking a measurement for each each square.  Plot your readings on graph paper, or enter into a spreadsheet and create a “surface” plot.  It may not be practical to do right now, as you mention that your cops make it difficult to get into the middle of the beds.

Given that the crops are in the way and you can’t get into the middle of a bed, you might consider interpolation:  take a measurement at each end of the bed, and assume that the amount of light changes steadily (linearly) from one end to the other.   So if you have 4 hours on one end, and 8 hours on the other, you can assume that you have 6 hours in the middle of the bed.  This is an approximation, of course, but it might be better than nothing.  You can do the same thing across the beds….

Before you do all of this, make sure your device’s compass is behaving well.   The device compass is the largest source of inaccuracy in the app (due to the fact that the device itself creates electromagnetic field which can confuse its compass).  If you have a case with a magnet, take the phone out of its case. Do a google search for “Android compass calibration” and follow the instructions (usually some version of a figure 8).  A sure sign that the compass needs calibration is that the “tiles” (or “cells”) on your screen drift relative to the background scenery.   This drift means the compass has not “locked in” on North.