Sunday, April 2, 2017

Dog Tech: Link AKC First Impressions

It took an entire week, but my Link AKC smart collar is finally working...ish. Probably. Really, the issue isn't so much the collar hardware as the smartphone app. It's buggy as hell, and when the app doesn't work the collar doesn't work. So far the only dog GPS tracker I have personal experience with is the Whistle 2. Whistle has browser-based option that allows users to log on from regular computers. This means that a bug in the app won't render to collar useless.

Bugs, Bugs, and More Bugs

The first software bug I ran into was the inability to set up a subscription plan, the app took me to a blank screen and nothing else ever loaded. The workaround for this was to talk to a support manager after several days of phone tag, give them my credit card number and all of my personal information over the phone, and have them set up my account from the back end.

This brings me to the second software bug, the inability to log in via email. First I tried logging in through Facebook, and when I hit that blank screen I tried logging in through email instead. The app said there was already an account with that email address, but not with any password I ever set up. Attempts to reset the password just got me the error message "Password reset failed". 

This is awesome, because my weirdass backdoor account set up by the support team was supposedly done with my email address. The app opened to the collar pairing screen after they did that, so I actually still have no idea what my account password is, or anything else about it.

Upon finally pairing my collar, I tried setting up a profile for Sisci Godzilla. So far I have been unable to upload a picture to her profile, I get a weird error message that I should probably copy down and send along to the support team. "There was an error communicating with the Link AKC server: Object version mismatch Dogld 878". (I'm sure they're tired of hearing from me by now.)

Battery Life

Link AKC must be removed from the collar and placed on the base station to charge. The company recommends you charge it every night, just in case you need to use the GPS tracking feature. This means no tracking, temperature alerts, or anything else at night. I'm surprised at this decision by the development team, it seems like all the other smartcollar companies are touting the battery ife of their products. Our Whistle 2 lasts about five days between charging, it's kind of weird for Link AKC to not be intended to last more than a day.

I had originally planned to use this GPS tracker for Zip, because she likes to range further than I'm comfortable with when exploring. However, due to my concerns about the reliability of the product, I'm leaving the Whistle 2 tracker on Zip for now. It may not have as many features or options, but right now I trust it a whole lot more than Link AKC.

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