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September 18, 2014

New puzzle game Birzzle Fever from HalfBrick is now available on Android

If you're a fan of match three styled games (Bejeweled and Candy Crush are the big ones in that genre), Halfbrick Studios (makers of Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride) has released a new game called Brizzle Fever that you might want to take a look at. This avian themed game is (in some respects) like many other games of that genre: players are given a board and asked to clear pieces by matching three or more of a single kind.

Unlike the more well known and conventional match three (where players move a given piece horizontally or vertically to complete three in a row), players are simply tasked with touching a cluster of three or more, and this can be done with the "birds of a feather" being in any formation, strait or bent like a Tetris piece, so long as the number meets or exceeds three.

Birrzle Fever Features:

• Level up to unlock new items, such as paint bombs, boosters and the mystery box
• Complete challenging missions to unlock new powers such as the devastating dark powerbird
• Choose a superbird companion and level them up - Each one grants a different bonus
• Collect and level up all the superbirds for huge bonuses in the game
• Trade hearts with friends and compete on the weekly leaderboard
• Find the hidden bonus keys to unlock the bonus mode and earn a ton of coins With thresholds to meet before time runs out, players will begin frenetically tapping on formations of birds that are placed on the board.

There are 200 levels for players to complete, and players are able to compete with their Facebook friends. The game includes In-App Purchases, and is otherwise free and available now on Google Play

 

 

September 18, 2014 12:23 AM

Schedule is up for xda:devcon ’14

XDA_Articles-devcon

With xda:devcon ’14 just around the corner, and the venue close to selling out, there is a lot of excitement building here at XDA. We have some amazing things lined up, from over $10,000 in giveaways to an amazing group of sponsors. Add to that a fantastic line up of speakers presenting on everything from Wearables and IoT to Android OS Development to Alternative OS’s (like Jolla, Firefox and Ubuntu Touch), and WOW do have we a lot in store for you!

Our event staff have been working tirelessly to make sure that those attending get the most out of the event. With that in mind, we wanted to unveil our schedule for xda:devcon ’14.

Check-in at the Conference Center is available early on Friday, September 26 from 3PM to 5PM, or 8AM to 10AM on Saturday. Friday evening there will be a Welcome Reception from 7PM to 9PM in the hotel lobby. The sessions on Saturday begin at 10AM and will run until 6PM, and will be capped off with an After Hours event and panel discussion sponsored by NVIDIA. Sunday’s sessions begin at 9AM and end at 3:30PM, with final giveaways ending an excellent weekend.

If you have not got your ticket for xda:devcon ’14, and you don’t want to miss out on all of the fun, just head over to the site (first come, first served, limited availability). The conference takes place September 26-28 at the Park Inn Manchester City Centre.

 

The post Schedule is up for xda:devcon ’14 appeared first on xda-developers.

by jerdog at September 18, 2014 12:00 AM

September 17, 2014

aLogcat Returns Thanks to XDA Love

image

The developers of Android, that is Google, gave users several great debugging tools that can be used in development. The most basic (yet still quite powerful) of these is undoubtedly Android Debug Bridge, otherwise known as ADB. It’s a very handy tool that can be used by developers and regular users through USB, WiFi, or even directly on the phone.

One of the most popular ADB-based utilities for Android is aLogcat Free. This app was originally released way back in 2011. Unfortunately the developer who created the app, Jeffrey Blattman, decided to abandon his project and aLogcat Free wasn’t updated since 2012. XDA Recognized Developer pedja1 decided to give this application a second life and created a new version of the app keeping the initial open-source spirit. Now, the application has been seriously reworked and offers multiple functions that were unavailable back in the 2012 version. And as such, the list of new features is quite long.

With the new version of the app, you can search for various phrases in the log and filter the results by level and buffer. If you prefer to keep the text big or small, you can change its size really easy. The core features are also available, so you can save your logs and share them with developers later on.

The new version of the great aLogcat tool can be found in the aLogcat utility thread. Help your favorite developers squash all the bugs in your ROM or daily use applications. Send them logs collected with aLogcat!

The post aLogcat Returns Thanks to XDA Love appeared first on xda-developers.

by Tomek Kondrat at September 17, 2014 10:00 PM

Goat Simulator is Out Now on Android

The breakout joke game, Goat Simulator, from Coffee Stain Studios is out now on the Google Play Store for $4.99. Released on Steam on April 1st 2014, yes that date was intended, Goat Simulator has sold well enough to spawn a mobile version along with and upcoming Xbox One release.

If you are looking for a game that accurately simulates the life of a goat, this is not the title for you. Instead it is a game where you score points in a open world sandbox by breaking stuff. The entire game is littered with bugs, that were purposely kept in because why not? Personally I'm not sure how much fun playing a bad game by yourself on your phone or tablet now is compared to back in April when the idea of Goat Simulator was new and still funny. But, hey if this looks like a good time to you, go ahead and enjoy!

Key Features:

  • You can be a goat 
  • Get points for wrecking stuff - brag to your friends that you're the alpha goat 
  • MILLIONS OF BUGS! We're only eliminating the crash-bugs, everything else is hilarious and we're keeping it 
  • In-game physics that spazz out all the time 
  • Seriously look at that goat's neck
  • You can be a goat

Site Referenced: Google Play

 

September 17, 2014 09:29 PM

Mutual Mobile Hacks the Connected Home

Post_20140917_ConnectedHome_HEader

The entertainment industry has been tempting us with the dream of connected homes since before The Jetsons first aired in 1962, and although we don’t have teeth-brushing robots or meal-preparing tables just yet, the tech industry is making great strides in bringing our homes to life with technology. It’s all thanks to the Internet, smart devices, and the ingenuity of strategists, developers, and designers, like the ones we have here at Mutual Mobile.

To help support our connected home hobbyists, we held a special event called Blend Day, where teams of employees got together to find creative ways to tackle the problems of the future. Although the topics ranged from amusement parks to ping pong tables, the connected homes category received the lion’s share of participants. After a day of Design Studios and API hacking, the teams emerged with several solutions that would fit perfectly in any 21st century home (the time period, not the realtor).

There was a shower head that allows users to create personal showering profiles to regulate the temperature and duration of their bathing session. There was a security system that adjusts its alertness according to your day-to-day routine. There was an easy-to-install, yet highly-sophisticated vent that regulates temperatures and air quality in your home or office. And that was all a result of one eight-hour session. As we continue to devote more time to developing the connected home, the possibilities are endless. Mutual Mobile Director of iOS Engineering Ron Lisle has his eyes set on an appliance we all use (and misuse) multiple times a day—our refrigerator.

“I’d love to have my refrigerator notify me of any temperature problems (door left open, etc), but my dream solution would be to have it help me with my shopping,” says Ron. “I believe that clever use of technology could simplify this process: optical recognition of products, barcodes, maybe even “low” states for common groceries. I have heard that there are products out there that try to do this, but I’m not familiar with any that take advantage of mobile technology. It should be possible to open the refrigerator door, take a couple of pictures with a smartphone, and let a self-learning app identify which products need to be replaced.”

We may have to wait a few years before this dream refrigerator pops up in your nearest hardware store, but that hasn’t stopped Ron from biding his time with other smart appliances. As a matter of fact, he recently debunked the myth that you can only connect new devices to Apple’s HomeKit by using a “little known and scarcely documented” accessories bridge to turn on a Philips Hue lightbulb with a Siri command.

Ron’s lighting wizardry may be a small victory for the connected home, but a war wages on for total control over all your connected devices. As Android Engineer James Avyaz explains, “The industry needs organization, centralization, and simplification. Currently, I have to learn every manufacturer’s UI, API, company web site, etc. If I had a connected home with 100 different devices, that’s 100 different manufacturers to deal with. Ideally, these things would work holistically.”

For Apple enthusiasts, there’s hope. According to iOS Consulting Architect Kevin Harwood, “HomeKit has a chance of bringing all of these devices under one umbrella, but it’s limited to iOS/Mac. There are some other initiatives out there, but will they carry the weight of an Apple? We’ll have to wait and see.”

As if the connected home landscape wasn’t complex enough, wearables platforms like Android Wear and the recently announced Apple Watch give developers and hardware manufacturers even more to think about. Android Engineer and Android Wear user Justin Holmes is optimistic about the marriage between wearables and connected home devices. “With If This Then That, or IFTTT recipes, it’s already possible to control things like lights and electrical sockets from your smartwatch, but the manufacturer’s app has to be IFTTT compliant. Whether it’s IFTTT or some other framework, it won’t be long before everything in your house can be controlled by saying a few simple voice commands to your wrist.”

Although the future of the connected home is still uncertain, there’s no doubt that it will become as commonplace as your smartphone or tablet. Today it’s voice-controlled light bulbs and thermostats, tomorrow it’s inventory-recording refrigerators, and if the industry keeps growing at this rate, we may be giving George Jetson a run for his money by the 22nd Century. That is, unless one of Stephen Hawking’s doomsday predictions beats us to it.

The post Mutual Mobile Hacks the Connected Home appeared first on Mutual Mobile.

by Mutual Mobile at September 17, 2014 08:15 PM

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet Review

Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet Review

Introduction

With many posts popping up today about Sony’s Xperia line failing to meet expectations, it seemed fitting to finally get my review of the Xperia Z2 tablet out that’s been sitting on my to-do list for way too long. I think it’s important for consumers pay less attention to a company’s financials and more to the hardware and software they are shipping. This does not always correlate, as is the case with HTC and now Sony. The Z3 line will be better, but let’s look at the Z2 for Verizon.

 

Build and Aesthetics

The Xperia Z2 tablet comes in feeling much thinner (only a quarter-inch thick) and lighter (15.5 ounces) than the iPad Air. Usually I feel a device this thin feels cheap and fragile, however this is not the case here. I also have a hard time holding thinner devices in my hand, but the Z2 somehow avoids what’s usual. A lot of that probably comes from being extremely light as to not fatigue my hands and arms.

The 10 inch tablet has the usual sheet of glass for the front. The bezels are thick enough to give you room to hold on to the device, but not so big as to make the tablet larger than it needs to be. I feel it’s a perfect balance of utility and design here. Sony’s logo in reflective silver adorns the top left corner. On the rear, construction is of soft touch plastic which feels more premium than cheap. A camera up in the top right corner with an NFC logo below that. The typical Verizon branding is plastered dead center.

The Xperia Z2 tablet doesn’t feel cheap at all. It has a minimal amount of flex. With most 10 inch tablets, they’re usually too bulky and have a lot of flex to them. Sony has managed to hit everything I like as far as build quality and design. This is strange as their devices are not something I typically want to use.

 

Hardware

The Sony Xperia Z2 tablet is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 processor. 2.3 GHz quad-core processors are more than enough for me to do anything I would need out of a device. I’m sure the 3GB RAM doesn’t hurt anything either. I never noticed a stutter while doing anything in the week I had it.

The screen is a 10.1 inch IPS display with a resolution of 1920X1200. Everything viewed is crisp and sharp, as one would expect with IPS technology. Sony has also included some of their home-brewed display technology which promises to increase color depth and gradation, while decreasing jagged edges. It was bright enough and crisp enough for me, but didn’t really hold a candle to the display on my HTC M8 when viewed side by side. Overall the display isn’t bad, it’s just not amazing.

Two speakers are embedded on either lower side on the front of the Xperia 2 tablet. They give ample volume and serviceable audio. With S-Force front surround capability and digital noise cancellation, I would have expected better. Audio isn’t bad, but it ain’t Boomsound.

The 8 megapixel camera on the rear of the camera with Exmor RS really isn’t much to talk about. Photos are what you would expect out of any tablet these days. It is not as good as the current flagship phones and produces noticeably grainy photos in low light. The 2 megapixel camera up front is fine for Hangouts, Skype or whatever sort of video calling you enjoy. It’s no selfie cam, though.

Last but not least, this guy is waterproof. If you play Ingress at all you know how valuable this is. Tether this thing up to your phone and you can play for quite a few hours in the rain.

 

Battery Life

In the week I tested the Z2 tablet, I charged it once. My unit had ample battery life for everyday use. I did not do the typical test where an activity is performed until the battery died, but charging once a week seems fine to me. I do feel Sony could have probably optimized the software for better longevity, but this is not a bad showing by any means.

 

Software

The Xperia Z2 tablet ships with Android Kit Kat. Anytime an OEM ships a device with the latest version of the OS, that’s a good thing. This is especially true here as Sony isn’t the best with keeping their devices current with updates.

As far as their take on Android, I am no fan. That is not to say Sony’s UI is unusable. I never really found myself wanting to install a launcher on it but improvements can be made there. Five home screens with the app drawer button in the upper right and the typical mess of icons and widgets is not what I desire in a UI. To be honest, I prefer one home screen with organized folders and no widgets. Many of the Sony apps are utterly annoying to use. As such, I didn’t use them aside from a first test.

 

Conclusion

Sony’s Xperia Z2 tablet is a great tablet for a lot of people. Amidst the news today, it’s easy to forget they do make a good piece of hardware that is certainly worth buying. I feel that most of their trouble is coming from pricing and lack of US carrier support. The Z2 tablet is something I wouldn’t mind having laying around the house and for the occasional Ingress outing. This is not a “must buy”, though, and that is where Sony could improve.

 

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Land of Droid -

by Scott Kenyon at September 17, 2014 06:21 PM

Messaging on Android Wear

By Timothy Jordan, Developer Advocate

Sending messages on Android Wear feels as easy as it was to pass notes back in school. Remember when your friends always felt nearby? That feeling is why I love staying in touch with friends and family using my wearable.

Your messaging app likely already works on Android Wear. With just a few more lines of code you can unlock simple but powerful features that let your users communicate even more effortlessly.

Message notifications for free

If your Android app uses notifications to let the user know about new messages, these will work automatically on their wearable. That is, when you build notifications with the NotificationCompat.Builder class, the system takes care of displaying them properly, whether they appear on a handheld or wearable. Also, an "Open on phone" action will be added so it's easy for the user to reply via the app on their handheld.

Google+ Hangouts message.

Reply like a champ

Messages on Wear get really exciting when you can reply directly from the watch with your voice. In addition to being super convenient, this always gives me a Dick Tracy thrill… but maybe that's just me. =]

To add this functionality, it's as simple as adding an action to the notification via WearableExtender that includes a RemoteInput to your notification. After the user replies, you'll just grab their voice input as a string from the RemoteInput included in the Intent. You can even include text responses the user can easily select from a list by passing an array of them to the setChoices method of the RemoteInput. More details and code can be found here.

WhatsApp message with the reply by voice action.

See who is texting

Messages are more meaningful when you are connected to the sender. That's why we recommend you include the photo of the sender as the background of the notification. As soon as the user taps into the message, they also see who it's from, which will make it matter more (or maybe that other thing, depending on who it is).

You should add a photo with a resolution of at least 400x400, but we recommend 640x400. With the larger size, the background will be given parallax scrolling. If the background is to be included in the apk, place it in the res/drawable-nodpi directory. Then call setBackground() on your WearableExtender and add it to your notification. More details and code can be found here.

Path Talk message with a clear picture of the sender.

Custom actions

Basic notifications with reply by voice and a good background image are the most important parts to get done right away. But why stop there? It's easy to extend the unique parts of your service to the wearable. A simple first step is adding in a custom action the way Omlet does. These are just actions defined with the WearableExtender that raise an intent on the handheld.

Omlet includes two extra actions with every message: Like and Check-In. Check-In sends along the user's current location.

Custom Layouts

Custom interaction on the wearable, like the following example from TextMe, is straightforward to implement. They have what appears to be a simple notification with an action that allows the user to select an emoticon. However, to show this emoticon picker, they are actually issuing a notification from the wearable. The round trip looks something like this:

  1. The handheld gets a new message, issues a notification setLocalOnly(True), and sends a message to the wearable using the Data Layer API
  2. The wearable receives that message using the WearableListenerService and issues a custom notification with a PendingIntent to launch an activity when the user views the notification
  3. That activity has a custom layout defined with the Wearable UI Library
  4. Once the user selects an emoticon, the wearable sends a message back to the handheld
  5. The handheld receives that message and sends it along to the server

Custom layouts are documented in more depth here.

TextMe allows users to reply with a quick emoticon.

Next steps

Make your messaging service awesome by providing rich functionality on the user's wearable. It's easy to get started and easy to go further. It all starts at developer.android.com/wear.

by Android Developers (noreply@blogger.com) at September 17, 2014 05:29 PM

September 16, 2014

Google Play Services 6.1

gps

Today, we’re excited to introduce the latest version of Google Play services to help you easily build on the newest features from Google and optimize your apps.

Google Play services 6.1 adds Enhanced Ecommerce analytics support from Google Tag Manager and offers new improvements to the Google Drive Android API. With the latest release, we’re also including a refresh of the Google Fit developer preview, so that you can test your fitness apps on any Android device.

Analytics

Launched in Google Play services 5.0, Enhanced Ecommerce is an analytics extension designed to provide richer insights into pre-purchase shopping behavior and into product performance. It’s a great way to gain visibility into the full customer journey, helping you understand how different user acquisition campaigns are performing at a granular level. By including support for Enhanced Ecommerce in Google Tag Manager with the latest release of Google Play services, we are supercharging your ability to regularly update and manage tags on mobile apps more easily, so that you can consistently measure product impressions, shopping funnel events, and more.

Drive

To make it easier to use Drive, we added enhancements to the Google Drive Android API. With the new Completion Events feature, you can see when actions are committed to the server and improve the response time to conflicts. Material design elements have been incorporated into the File Picker UI, along with the addition of Recent and Starred views. A new setParents() method enables you to organize files and folders, while the previous Contents class has been replaced with a simpler DriveContents class.

Google Fit

Initially introduced in August, the Google Fit Developer Preview has been refreshed to enable you to test your new fitness apps on any Android device. We expect to make additional changes to the APIs, so please check back with us on new developments.

Stay tuned!

We will be rolling out Google Play services 6.1 over the next few days, after which we will publish the documentation and make the SDK available.

To learn more about Google Play services and the APIs available to you through it, visit the Google Services section on the Android Developers site.

by Android Developers (noreply@blogger.com) at September 16, 2014 09:34 PM

September 15, 2014

Tutorial: Enhancing Android UI with Custom Views

Building custom View components is a necessary part of embracing creative UI design. This tutorial walks you through the process of building custom Views and ViewGroups on Android.

by Dave Smith at September 15, 2014 10:52 AM

September 10, 2014

Mutual Mobile took a bite out of TechCrunch Disrupt

TechCrunch Disrupt Sf 2014

From September 8th through the 10th, six of our brightest minds descended upon San Francisco’s annual TechCrunch Disrupt to help Clover shake up the grocery shopping experience. The Mutual Mobile team consisted of Android Director Ajay Pall, Visual Designer Ryan Considine, Android Engineers Justin Holmes, Chung-Yi Cho, Nainesh Desai, and the developer at the mic, Elliott Chenger. After many eye-straining hours of staring directly at their computer screens, the Mutual Mobile team emerged with an app they’re calling GrabBag.

Post_20140908_TCDisrupt_Group

As Elliott quickly demonstrated (in just over a minute), GrabBag is a time-saving app for the Clover platform that “helps ease the pain of getting groceries.” For those of you who have always wanted a personal shopper and/or chef, GrabBag creates grocery lists according to preferred recipes and the inventory available at Clover affiliated markets. Once you’ve picked the most delicious dish, decided the number of servings, and ruled out the ingredients you already have in your pantry, GrabBag will send your list to a store runner at a Clover-enabled grocer so he or she can gather your goods before you even get in your car.

Since everything from the planning to the payment takes place on your phone, all you’ll have to do is hop in your car and retrieve your goods. Or, if you live in Central Austin or Boston, you can call in a Favor and have someone pick them up for you. It’s a surefire way to disrupt the retail sector without disturbing your already-too-busy schedule.

Although the grand prize at this year’s event went to an app that’s fixated on getting you naked, the Mutual Mobile team did not come home empty handed. In addition to the slew of new contacts and employee applications, our fearless hackers returned with a ton of experience and invaluable insights.

Post_20140908_TCDisrupt_Hall

“TechCrunch Disrupt was HUGE,” recalls Chenger. “There were over a thousand people in attendance. It was pretty intimidating at first.” Despite the initial shock from the size and scope of TechCrunch Disrupt, the team leaned on the experience gained from our own hackathons and Design Studios to maintain their focus and get down to business.

“We knew the first thing we had to do was set up a fast, nimble process to ensure we weren’t wasting time on any individual task,” Elliott noted. “We only spent thirty minutes investigating each solution, encouraging us to spend more time looking forward than we did retracing our steps. If something was lagging, we’d scrap it and move on to the next item. We will definitely be using this methodology during our Austin hackathons from now on.”

Strong time-management wasn’t Team Mutual Mobile’s only vital asset. “Having a designer there was a lifesaver,” says Chenger. “We were probably one of only five teams that took the appearance of their app that seriously. Ryan was crucial to the overall story and flow of our final product. The judges gave us really high marks on the polish and professionalism of our app. We probably would’ve won the UI contest, but we didn’t realize you had to submit it separately. Rookie mistake.”

Post_20140908_TCDisrupt_Design

When asked if the team would be interested in partaking in next year’s Disrupt, Elliott was quick to say yes. “I think everyone would agree it was a great experience. It really challenged us to work faster and smarter, while giving us a lot of exposure to the rest of the tech industry. We should definitely take advantage of more opportunities like these down the road.”

Just because Team Mutual Mobile didn’t bring that 5,000 dollar check back to Austin, it doesn’t mean they’re giving up on this project. As Elliott said, “We hate wasting time in grocery stores,” and our TechCrunch Disrupt participants are still very interested in helping Clover make trips to the market as painless as possible (after they’ve caught up on some well-deserved sleep).

Post_20140908_TCDisrupt_Sleepy

The post Mutual Mobile took a bite out of TechCrunch Disrupt appeared first on Mutual Mobile.

by Mutual Mobile at September 10, 2014 09:00 PM

September 07, 2014

How does Galaxy Tab 4 Nook tablet performs in Sun

The post How does Galaxy Tab 4 Nook tablet performs in Sun appeared first on galaxytabreview.

People love 7 inch tablets because they are so easy to transport around. You can easily through them in your backpack and use them while commuting or sitting outside in the sun.

In this test, you will find Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook performs in direct sun.

As you can see in the video above it is hard to see any thing in the direct sunlight. The screen behaves like a mirror instead.

by Galaxy Tab Review at September 07, 2014 06:56 AM

Stock Deodexed Rooted ROM for Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 tablets

The post Stock Deodexed Rooted ROM for Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 tablets appeared first on galaxytabreview.

Folks at XDA have churned out a stock ROM that is deodexed and pre rooted. The developer has also pre installed Busybox and zipaligned it.

There is no bloatware on this ROM. While it is based on Samsung Galaxy Tab 3’s Italy T211XXBNH2 ROM, all languages including English are available to the user.

To get root privileges, install SuperSu from play store to get root access. Features of this galaxy tab 3 7.0 ROM:

-Deodexed
-Zipaligned
-Init d support
-Busybox

Stock Deodexed Rooted ROM for Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 tablets

You can download the ROM from here and it may take a while to finish flashing due to the compression.

by Galaxy Tab Review at September 07, 2014 06:35 AM

September 06, 2014

Camera shot on charger connection

Somebody came to me with an idea whether a cheap Android phone can be turned into an automatic camera. Some external sensor would send a signal to the phone and the phone would take a picture automatically. We started to discuss the possible connection of the external sensor and an interesting idea came up: the charger connection.

Android delivers an event whenever the charging power is connected or disconnected: can it be used to send a binary signal to an application in a very simple way, without fiddling with Bluetooth or USB?

Click here to download the example application.

You have to start the application once. Then whenever you connect the charger, it takes a picture. When the application is in the foreground, a preview is shown but as long as the application is active (not destroyed) it works from the background too.

Here are the experiences:

  • On my high-end device the application reacted quickly to charger connection, the reaction time from connecting the charger to the camera shot was less than a second. But when the application was tested on the very low-end Android target device, the picture was much less rosy: the delay increased to 3-4 seconds, effectively making the solution unusable.
  • In order for this application to work, it has to be started at least once manually. This pretty much kills all unattended use cases.
  • The shutter sound is almost impossible to remove. Update: on certain devices (Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 confirmed) there is no shutter sound in silent mode.
The takeaway for us was to reject the idea. But I share the example program anyway, maybe it can be useful for somebody.


by Gabor Paller (noreply@blogger.com) at September 06, 2014 10:08 AM

September 05, 2014

Material Design - Activity Transition Animations

One of the key features of the Google's new Material Design is introduction of more animations than we have seen before in the guidelines. Material Design is all about bringing tactile materials to our UIs. Things in real life move and interact with our touch in a certain way. With the new guidelines Google is bringing that familiar feeling and interaction to Android apps.

Read more from the Google's guidelines for animations here:
http://www.google.com/design/spec/animation/

Animations can be both one of the most powerful tools in your UI design and the most destructive. A well designed animation can be both helpful and delightful. A bad animation is annoying and counter productive.

Android L release and the Material Design guidelines are adding a lot of options to designers and developers for using animations in their apps. Personally, I'm willing to bet that we're going to see an explosion of animation exploitation. As with everything new people get over excited and tend to overuse the new (and flashy) techniques. This will most likely be met by disapproval from users and the animation will be stripped out from many apps. It will take time until we'll find the right way to use these new tools.


In this article I want to take a look at one of the most important types of animations in Android apps. Activity transitions.

In Android apps activities are construct that can often be seen as screens in design. More often than not an activity is a screen in an Android app. Users navigate in the app by moving from activity to activity (from screen to screen).

Until lately now, most apps use Android default transitions between activities. The default transition is usually a sliding animation of some sort (depending on device and Android version). Here's an example of an app using default activity transition.


The transition animation is simple and subtle but important. It indicates to the user that a new entry has been added to the user's back stack. A similar, but reversed, transition is played when user taps the back button.

The back button interaction is why I have been advising against overriding the default transitions without a good reason to do so. Android's back button interaction is already difficult to grasp and changing the subtle indicators might make users hesitate.

However, there is a downside to the default transition. User is now teleporting between completely detached screens even when the screen content is clearly related. In the above example the user is pressing an apartment image to get details of the that item. There is a disconnect. That is what Google is trying to fix with the set of new tools and guidelines for developers and designers.
In future Android apps should be a continuous experience and not a disconnected sequence of jumps from one screen to another.
There has been ways to make clearer connection between the content between activity boundaries already in the previous Android versions.

The Android launcher as well as the Google Now launcher already animate launched apps from the launch icon and the multitasking UI animates the selected app from the thumbnail.


All this was made possible by APIs that allowed developers to define the source view for launched activity. Some apps have been using that feature for some time already.

Let's take a look at Wally app. The app has a list of images and when user selects one of them the details activity is launched from the image.

This is still a form of teleporting between screens but the teleportation is more pleasant. User has better feel of continuum but it could still be much better.

(this video is slowed down to better show the animation effect)

Android L Activity Transitions

This is where the next level of Android activity transitions come in. The Android L release (preview) gives developers shortcuts to create extremely powerful transitions without having to spend a lot of time writing fragile and hacky code (as we had to do before when we wanted to achieve the same effect).

The keyword here is continuum. These activity transitions allow us to design apps where screens are connected to each other with hero elements. By hero elements I mean elements that are central to the content and are present on both screens.

Let's look at an example.

A common case in many, many apps is that there is a list of items and tapping one of them user moves to another page for more information about that item. Traditionally we have relied on having a clear title and images confirming users that they're seeing the correct item and tapped what they intended. This has worked well but it can improved.

What if we can have the main elements of the item on screen all the time and just rearrange the screen to show more information? That is exactly what the Material Design L transitions allow us to do.

Take a look at this video of a quick demo app to see how it looks in practice. The change in feeling of the app is massive. We're no longer teleporting to another screen but we're transitioning to a details screen without any confusion of what is happening.

It's worth noting that using text elements as hero views is not without problems if the text element size changes (as you can see in the video). Images are probably more suited for these transitions anyways.

(this video is slowed down to better show the animation effect)

Activity transition layout effects

The additional tools for activity transitions are not limited just to hero elements. Google added more tools to the developers' kit.  Developers can now define define how elements are removed and added to the screens. By default all components other than the hero elements fade away in the source activity and fade in in the target activity. This is what you can see in the previous video.

The default can be overridden (as is case with most things in Android). Changing the fading effect to an explode animation is a simple one line command in the source activity:
getWindow().setExitTransition(new Explode());

This is all that is needed to change the transition to look like this:

(this video is slowed down to better show the animation effect)

In this slowed down video it becomes very clear that there are a lot of disconnected movement on the screen. The components move out and in and the hero element movement gets obfuscated.

Human eye is very good in detecting movement but if every element on the screen is moving at once our brains won't automatically lock on to the key component. I would argue that using additional layout animations will hinder the benefits of the hero element transition.

Let's look at another example. This is from a pre-release version of the awesome Android Twitter client Talon. In this version they have gone overboard with the L-transitions and created a very destructive user experience. Before we move on I want to make absolutely clear that I'm not picking on the Talon team on trying these things. This is from a pre-release version and I'm sure they will be corrected in the final release!



Every transition is now distractive and there's no purpose for using them.

Use animations for a purpose! 

Like every tool when used incorrectly they can cause more harm than good. Animations are no exception. While the L-release is going to make it extremely easy for us to create all sort of animations, transitions etc I'd advise all of us to use caution when deciding to use them.

Make sure that every animation and every part of your transition has a purpose. Thinks about the implications to users. Use animations to help users figure out what is going on and be aware of how human eye reacts to movement.

The explosion transitions and other similar animations might look great in a tech demo to your customer but they will become tiresome in the long run for actual users. Be aware of the flashy demo effect. You can wow your customer by showing these in a meeting but you'll be giving bad advice to them. Be considerate and emphasise meaning in transitions!

Animations with purpose can make a huge difference in your app feel to the positive direction!

Technical implementation for hero elements

I don't usually write much about technical implementation in this blog but I'm making an exception this time as the official documentation is still fairly poor (will probably be better at the time of L-release). Here are few implementation tips to get similar transition working on your L-preview apps.

Style definitions
Enable transitions in your app style file in values-v21 folder. This is the style you're using throughout your app.

<style name="AppTheme" parent="android:Theme.Material.Light">
        <item name="android:windowContentTransitions">true</item>
        <item name="android:windowAllowEnterTransitionOverlap">true</item>
        <item name="android:windowAllowExitTransitionOverlap">true</item>
</style>

This can also be done in the Java code as explained in this SO question answer.

View names
Make sure you're using view names with your hero elements. The names must match in the source layout as well as in the target layout. You can use either the XML attribute to do that or do it in Java code:

mAvatar.setViewName("avatar");
mTextView.setViewName("title");


To launch the new activity add ActivityOptions object to the call to tell the system to run the transition.

ActivityOptions options = ActivityOptions.makeSceneTransitionAnimation(getActivity(),
Pair.create((View) mAvatar, "avatar"),
Pair.create((View) mTextView, "title"));

getActivity().startActivity(DetailsActivity.newIntent(getActivity(), this.id), options.toBundle());

Rest is handled automatically by the system!

Read more about L-animations from the Android documentation here: https://developer.android.com/preview/material/animations.html

Additional resources for animations


by Juhani Lehtimäki (noreply@blogger.com) at September 05, 2014 11:12 AM

September 03, 2014

The Busy Coder's Guide to Android Development Version 6.0 Released

Subscribers now have access to the latest release of The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development, known as Version 6.0, in all formats. Just log into your Warescription page and download away, or set up an account and subscribe!

This largely completes the Big Book Pivot of 2014, adding Android Studio coverage to all of the core chapters (including the tutorials) and some of the trails.

Along the way, this includes:

  • Adding build.gradle files for all projects

  • De-Sherlocking all projects, except those that are specifically demonstrating ActionBarSherlock

  • Removing the chapter on IntelliJ IDEA and replacing it with material more specific to Android Studio

This book update also:

  • Adds a chapter on the manifest merger process, with particular emphasis on Gradle for Android and how manifests from different sourcesets plus libraries combine to create the generated manifest for the app itself

  • Adds a number of small improvements to the core chapters, as part of a more thorough review of that material

  • Tweaks the tutorials, partly to deal with Android Studio issues, and other minor changes to improve the instructions

  • Various errata fixes

Updates should now return to their normal every-four-to-six-weeks cycle, emphasizing new APIs, tools, and the like. I am planning on three updates yet in 2014, with Version 6.1 due out in early October.

If you are not a subscriber, you may wish to learn what the Warescription has to offer. The book, plus a year’s updates and other Warescription benefits, costs $45 (credit card/debit card/PayPal) or its equivalent in Bitcoin.

by Mark Murphy at September 03, 2014 01:48 PM

HTC gives their users 100GB of Google Drive Storage

HTC gives their users 100GB of Google Drive Storage

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 10.30.12 PM

HTC has just given many of their handset owners 100GB of free Google Drive storage for two years. If you have a semi-current HTC phone, chances are good you’ve been given a boost to your cloud storage total.

This offer is a part of HTC Advantage, which encompasses many things. When you buy a HTC device, you already get cracked screen replacement, a promise to update the platform to the most current version of Android for two years from launch, excellent customer service and now a boost to your Google Drive storage. HTC seems to be supporting their customers like no other OEM can.

As far as eligible devices go, mostly everything current gets some bump. The M8 is the hottest new device, and as such it gets 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years. The two newest editions to the Desire series, the 816 and 610, both get 100GB for two years as well. HTC’s One Max gets the same 100GB treatment.

Another grouping of phones get a boost for +25GB of Google Drive storage as well. The classification of “certain 2013 models” that meet the requirement of “When upgrade to HTC Sense 5+ and Sense 6 becomes available” is fairly ambiguous. HTC has stated that the following models will receive the bonus:

  • HTC One (assuming M7)
  • HTC Butterfly S
  • HTC One Mini
  • HTC Desire 601

As far as I am concerned, it is crystal clear that HTC is offering as much as they can to every customer. There is no other OEM I’m aware of that offers this sort of experience to their customers. Most are happy to give you something with a purchase. To give Google Drive storage after you have already bought into their phone shows appreciation for your business and desire (no pun intended) to continue to keep you as such.

I’m interested to see how many end users actually care about an OEM who supports their products in this way. We, as enthusiasts, already know we care about continued support and bonuses for buying a phone we already decided on. The average end user may not even know these types of things exist.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been impressed with the M8 and continue to use it as my daily driver. Getting some bonus storage was a very nice surprise that I didn’t expect. For these reasons, when it comes time to pony up my dollars for a device, anything HTC brings to the table in the future will be something I’ll consider.

Do you agree or disagree with my feelings? Do you wish your OEM would provide you with a similar level of service, or are you happy with what you have? Shout it out in the comments, as it’s your opinion that matters more than mine.

Land of Droid -

by Scott Kenyon at September 03, 2014 03:01 AM

September 02, 2014

Android gas sensor application with Bluetooth Low Energy/RFDuino

I have always had a fascination with sensors linked up with mobile devices so it seemed just a good opportunity to try out the latest fashionable technology in the area, Bluetooth Low Energy in the context of a competition. SemiconductorStore.com announced the "We know RFDuino" competition for applications of the RFDuino module. RFDuino is an Arduino module with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) support. It is ideal to act as an interface between a sensor and a BLE-enabled mobile device like the Nexus 7.

Eventually I will publish the entire source code of this prototype application on this blog. But as this is a contest, I will wait until the contest ends (Sept. 30). Till then, watch the (very amateurish) video we have prepared about our sensor and the Android application. The entry with the most views wins the contest so if you like the concept, share the video with others! Thanks in advance. :-)


by Gabor Paller (noreply@blogger.com) at September 02, 2014 08:33 PM

Android In App Purchased Demo V3.

Hi all,

This demo shows how to do in app purchase for managed products in Android using Version 3 in-app Billing API.

Please Go through this before trying out this Demo

http://developer.android.com/google/play/billing/index.html

inapp

in app

in app

in app

These are the important steps in to remember for doing in app purchase.

1. You have to download the Google In App Billing Library from Google.

For that you have to open the Android SDK Manager and Look for “Google Play Billing Library”.

2. You have to make changes in the Android Manifest first.

Add this permission.

The above permission will detect that your app contains “In App Purchases” in Google Play Store.

3. Now add the .aidl file that you get while downloading the library from Google.

[You can find this library in the Sample Project at the end of this post].

4. Now let’s assume that we have done the coding part by giving a demo in_app item.

5. You can test the application in two ways either using STATIC RESPONSES from Google Play

OR real purchases with users but without using any money.

STATIC TESTING :

READ THIS LINK : http://developer.android.com/google/play/billing/billing_testing.html#billing-testing-static

REAL TESTING AFTER UPLOADING TO GOOGLE PLAY (IN ALPHA OR BETA MODE)

READ THIS LINK : http://developer.android.com/google/play/billing/billing_testing.html#testing-purchases.

NOTE : If you publish your application through Alpha or Beta mode, the users who are downloading from Google Play will not see it or get it. In that way Google ensures that it is not published before testing.

For REAL TESTING AFTER UPLOADING TO GOOGLE PLAY you must be adding some users as Test Users who can test this app that you have
You can add test users while you upload the apk with in app Billing in Alpha or Beta Mode.

For adding test users you can see a link in the APK page of the particular app in Alpha or Beta Mode.[This is usually a Google community or Groups]

For a user to be a Test account you have to go to Settings > Gmail accounts with testing access > add the Gmail account to test.

This means that these users can buy this in app Item without loosing any money in alpha or Beta Mode.

Important Note :

In Google In App Billing V3, all purchases are managed that means you can even consume managed products.

PRODUCTS ONCE CONSUMED WILL BE A AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AGAIN.

THAT MEANS IF YOU PURCHASE A MANAGED PRODUCT AND IF THE USER CONSUMES IT, THEN IT WILL BE AGAIN AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE.

IF THE USER CONSUMES IT GOOGLE WILL REMOVE THAT PURCHASED ITEM FROM IT’S SEVER AND MARK IT AS ‘UN-OWNED’.

SO WHEN YOU QUERY THE PURCHASED ITEMS YOU WILL NOT BE GETTING THE PURCHASED ITEM.

SO IF YOU WANT THE USER TO PURCHASE THE ITEM ONLY ONCE AND AVAILABLE ALL THE TIME DON’T CONSUME IT

THAT MEANS YOU HAVE TO COMMENT OUT THIS CODE FROM THE SAMPLE CODE PROVIDED.

   	mHelper.consumeAsync(purchase, mConsumeFinishedListener);
   

That is you can directly write your code inside this if the purchase is sucessful

   if (purchase.getSku().equals(SKU_INAPPITEM)) {
   }
   

OK Done.

You can download the sample application from this link

Download

by James at September 02, 2014 09:42 AM

August 26, 2014

Defending Against "Camera Peeking" Attacks

Yesterday, I blogged about a research paper describing various attacks. In yesterday’s post, I covered defending against another activity popping up and masquerading one of your critical activities.

Another attack outlined by the paper is easier for an attacker to use… but is also easier to defend against. The paper’s authors refer to it as the “camera peeking” attack.

A camera, as identified by an instance of android.hardware.Camera, can only be used by one app at a time. The attack is simple:

  • monitor for when an app that might use the camera for something important comes to the foreground

  • at that point, start watching for the Camera object to become unavailable

  • once the Camera is unavailable, then available again, grab the Camera and take a picture, in hopes that the camera is still pointing at the confidential information

The example cited by the paper’s authors is to watch for a banking app taking a photo of a check, to try to take another photo of the check to send to those who might use the information for various types of fraud.

Polling for camera availability is slow, simply because the primary way to see if the camera is available is to open() it, and that takes hundreds of milliseconds. The paper’s specific technique helped to minimize the polling, by knowing when the right activity was in the foreground and therefore the camera was probably already in use. Then, it would be a matter of polling until the camera is available again and taking a picture. Even without the paper’s specific attack techniques, this general attack is possible, and it would not surprise me if there are more efficient ways to see if the camera is in use.

On the other hand, the defense is simple: if your app is taking pictures, and those pictures may be of sensitive documents, ask the user to point the camera somewhere else before you release the Camera object. So long as you have exclusive control over the camera, nothing else can use it, including any attackers.

A sophisticated implementation of this might use image-recognition techniques to see, based upon preview frames plus the taken picture, if the camera is pointing somewhere else. For example, a banking app offering check-scanning might determine if the dominant color in the camera field significantly changes, as that would suggest that the camera is no longer pointed at a check, since checks are typically fairly monochromatic.

Or, just ask the user to point the camera somewhere else, then release the Camera object after some random number of seconds.

General-purpose camera apps might offer an “enhanced security” mode that does this sort of thing, but having that on by default might annoy the user trying to take pictures at the zoo, or at a sporting event. However, document-scanning apps might want to have this mode on by default, and check-scanning apps might simply always use this mode.

by Mark Murphy at August 26, 2014 09:52 PM

August 23, 2014

I hate missions! What’s in this update for me?

All is on track for the release of the tech mine expansion pack tomorrow. Even if you don’t play the missions, there are plenty of changes to look forward to in the update (these affect the whole game, not just the new levels):

  • much quicker level generation and startup
  • you can now check objectives when outside of the camp by tapping on the stars in the corner
  • subtle character animations added, such as blinking
  • the cracks created when digging have been redrawn and have more stages, so you get more feedback when digging tough ground
  • lots of sprites retouched or redrawn
  • added a small element of randomness to the digging, so it doesn’t always take the same number of hits for a particular ore
  • less memory usage, less battery usage, better performance
  • removed annoying bat poop sound
  • lifts arrive slightly faster
  • added more detail to the map screen
  • silenced the low health warning when on the surface
  • fixed restart logo sometimes appearing in wrong ratio
  • fixed character “running on the spot” when returning to the game
  • fixed the characters in a conversation sometimes disappearing rather than sliding in/out
  • fixed a bug where the map markers could appear in the wrong location
  • fixed the saving spinner hanging around when it shouldn’t when in the shop or camp
  • fixed progress on hidden objectives animating when it shouldn’t
  • fixed an odd fade effect when stepping up a block that causing colour wierdness

by Psym at August 23, 2014 10:36 AM

August 19, 2014

Better Code Review

Software peer review is essential on a modern development team. Learn how to keep your code healthy, and your people happy in this 15 minute talk from Forward JS.

by Max Walker at August 19, 2014 11:57 PM

August 18, 2014

Read This: Designer's Guide to DPI


Sebastien Gabriel from Google's UX team has written a comprehensive article about designing for different screen densities.

This article is worth reading if you're a designer and worth sharing to your designers if you're a developer. This post will help designers (even without Android understanding) to understand how to create assets supporting different screen densities.

Read the full article here:
http://sebastien-gabriel.com/designers-guide-to-dpi/home

by Juhani Lehtimäki (noreply@blogger.com) at August 18, 2014 09:24 AM

August 08, 2014

Tridroid Presentation: In-App Purchases for an Android Game

I gave a presentation on August 7 to my local Android developers' Meetup group, Tridroid. The presentation was on in-app purchases. The following topics were covered. ... In-App Purchases example: Trivial Drive ... Different revenue models for apps ... In-App Billing for Android ... What you should consider for in-app purchases ... How in-app purchases are handled in other apps (Angry Birds, Temple Run, Candy Crush Saga) ... In-app purchases in Double Star ... How many in-app items should you have? ... How do you call the player's attention to them? ... Pricing considerations ... How to implement In-App Billing ... TrivialDrive example app ... Adapting example to your own app ... Download. If you'd like to download the presentation, the link is in the full article. Continue reading

by Bill Lahti at August 08, 2014 11:47 AM

August 03, 2014

Further update on the new mission pack progress

Another season, another mission pack update…

Once again apologies for the continued delay of the new mission pack. I have been finding it hard to find free time to put into the game, but in the last 3 months a lot has been done and this is definitely the last sprint.

All missions are in place now, there is just some tidying up to do around the storyline, tweaking of difficulty, and the end cut-scene to implement. I am aiming for a release on the 23rd August.


by Psym at August 03, 2014 11:34 PM

August 02, 2014

Double Star Android Game – Beta Version

Double Star is a turn-based, single player, space war game for Android. The app is now available for prerelease testing on Android phones and tablets. If you join the Double Star Beta community on Google+, you will be able to install the app from the Google Play store. ... Storyline - Our world is under attack from an invading alien force. You want to join the fight. So you join StarFleet Academy to learn to command a starship. When training completes, you are given command of a very powerful starship. You must stop the invasion now. Multiple battles later, you stop the invaders. ... After the invasion is over, you learn that our world is safe, but the threat is still out there somewhere.Your mission then is to discover a path through the galaxy that takes you to the alien home world. You must destroy them and stop the threat once and for all. Continue reading

by Bill Lahti at August 02, 2014 03:29 PM

July 17, 2014

Freesat Android app launched

Freesat, the vague organisation behind those TV tuners that let you get satellite TV without paying Sky any money, now has an official Android app. On a basic level it’s an EPG to tell you what’s on over the next seven days, although viewers with one of the more recent Freetime set-top boxes can pair it with their tuners and use their phones and tablets as remote controls — also triggering recordings from afar.

freesat-android-app-1

freesat-android-app-2

It is therefore quite useful if you can get it to sync and work. Check out the Freesat app here.

by Gary_C at July 17, 2014 10:41 AM

July 05, 2014

July 04, 2014

The 1st SWIFT Compliant Ad Network – StartApp

Swift Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference unveiled a new C-based programming language known as Swift. This application will be able to restructure the Mac OS and iOS app development process. Swift takes high level coding language, combines it with C and provides the flexibility of Python and Node.js to create a world of applications to the developers.

The iOS developers can now enjoy the benefits of memory management system which is automated in swift and syntax which is simplified to allow less room for error. The developers will also be able to provide far better quality apps which perform exceptionally as compared to the bug-prone and time consuming ones created by Objective-C.

The Swift, as the name suggests, will be able to help the developers make apps quickly and easily by using this development process. It is not just the developers but also the users who can feel the difference between apps built on Swift and Objective-C. The graphics are much better, the applications are smoother and not to mention the annoying bugs that plague the apps from Objective-C have also been eliminated. Consumers will be able to get access to much cheaper apps that are not only helpful but also readily available.

Swift has been gaining a lot of attention even though it is a new programming language because of being endorsed by Apple.  Apple is known for the quality of their products so the developers know they have a reliable language in their hands. They not only have a trustworthy product but also ready support available from the Apple Developer Team. The Swift experience will bring a paradigm shift in the Apple Development environment being moved from Objective-C to Swift.startapp

The one thing that propels Swift in the application development is bad experience of using Objective-C. The language is not only difficult and time consuming, but there are only just a handful of highly skilled developers that are able to use it. With the coming of Swift, more developers will be able to create good quality apps which can be distributed freely or at a low cost.

Even though Swift is a fairly new language which has not been tested extensively, it already has support from one of the best ad platforms – StartApp. The iOS software development kit is now compatible with StartApp which is an ad platform supporting Apple’s new language. The one thing that made it possible was that the integration of StartApp’s iOS SDK is very simple.

It comes with the same superior banner ads and full page interstitials that are the USPs of StartApp. You can also get the additional OfferWall which provides both 2D and 3D graphic options. All the ads, regardless of the type, are optimised to suit the iOS interface which enhances the user experience. The graphics are crisp and the distortion of image has been eliminated.  The ads are available in both landscape and portrait modes.

StartApp is the only ad network that has taken the Swift language under their wings. They are 100,000 partners strong and more than 1 billion SDK’s have been downloaded because of their relentless efforts at marketing and advertising. This definitely puts Swift in good hands, despite being newly born in the iOS developer sector.

The post The 1st SWIFT Compliant Ad Network – StartApp appeared first on Android Apps.

by Gigi Fenomen at July 04, 2014 12:51 PM

June 27, 2014

Google I/O 2014: Rehash

All of the videos have been posted from the various sessions I was in this year. Here they are, along with links to the slides.

What's new in Android

A presentation with +Dan Sandler that provides a quick overview of some of the larger features and new APIs in the L Developer Preview release and other new bits in the recent Androidosphere. There's also a really good deep-dive into Notifications, since Dan's the non-local expert on the subject.



Slides (PDF)


Material science

This session, presented with +Adam Powell, provides an overview of the engineering side of the Material design system. Many of the other sessions at Google I/O this year discussed the design side; this presentation covers the technical details of the APIs and the capabilities exposed by the framework for Android developers.



Slides (PDF)


Material witness

I was happy to be joined once again by former Android developer and UI Toolkit team lead +Romain Guy for this talk on some of the new Material design elements in the L Developer Preview release. The idea behind this talk was to go a bit deeper into using and explaining the new APIs, as well as explaining how some of the features, like realtime soft shadows, work.



For slides as well as demo code, check out Romain's blog at curious-creature.org.


Android fireside chat

This session, organized and moderated by +Reto Meier, I found to be more interesting than other such panels I've seen. Often, these things tend to have a lot of awkward silences as the panelists try to figure out the most interesting way of saying "No comment" since there's a general policy on Android of not talking about future development plans. This time, there was a lot of discussion around how and why some parts of the system work, which I enjoyed as an audience member that just happened to be sitting somewhat closer to the panel.

by Chet Haase (noreply@blogger.com) at June 27, 2014 05:08 PM

Google I/O 2014 Slides and Demo

Chet and I gave a talk entitled “Material Witness” at Google I/O today. I am happy to announce that the entire talk is now available on YouTube. I have also published the following resources:

Google I/O 2014 demo

by Romain Guy at June 27, 2014 06:39 AM

June 17, 2014

Moto Maker for Moto X hitting Germany on July 1st

After way too much time as a US-only exclusive and with the phone it pimps to the extreme already starting to show its age, Motorola’s finally ready to launch the Moto Maker customisation service for the Moto X in Europe.

According to Motorola Germany, the case modding service will launch exclusively for those who buy a phone through Phone House in the country. Phone House is the German wing of Carphone Warehouse, so here’s hoping CPW picks up the deal and launches the custom phone option here in the UK too.

moto-maker-uk

This could be the answer to the tricky “eccentric summer phone” problem we currently face. As long as it’s cheap.

Link via Androidsis.

by Gary_C at June 17, 2014 07:30 PM

June 04, 2014

Mobile Carrier Payments - Now Available via SlideME


SlideME & Fortumo









SlideME now supports the option for users to pay via Mobile carrier through our partnership with Fortumo. This is an important milestone for SlideME to bring such a payment option at the store level, as opposed to developers having to implement intruding commerce options within each of their apps. Unfortunately Mobile carrier payments, unlike traditional payment options, have different price points for each country. Such price points do not accommodate the exact set price of an app, nor is it fair to users for such an app price to be fixed to the carriers’ price points per country. This means the same app could be more expensive in one country than another. For this reason SlideME has implemented a feature where any overpayment is credited to the user’s SlideME Wallet balance, which can be used to purchase other apps (or in-app items if the app is using the recently released SlideME In-App-Payments SDK or supported Open In-App Billing).


“3rd party Android app stores are becoming increasingly popular and we are excited to work together with SlideME, one of the leaders in this space. By adding mobile payments to their apps published on SlideME, developers can now earn more revenue from almost 5 billion people who do not have or do not want to use a credit card. With carrier billing, they can now conveniently charge purchases directly to their phone bill”

- Gerri Kodres, SVP of Business Development and Carrier Relations, Fortumo


List of countries supported currently for Mobile Payments http://slideme.org/payment-methods/operator-billing-coverage New SlideME Market (SAM) ver 6 app was also released this May 2014. As always, you can download from http://slideme.org/sam.apk

read more

by SlideME at June 04, 2014 07:26 PM

June 02, 2014

May 18, 2014

April 29, 2014

The Android and iOS Rivalry – Cosmetic and Functional

Android and iOS Rivalry

Bias throws any hint of fair assessment out the window. Even with independent reviews in consideration, there’s the suspicion that not all ground has been covered, not enough to justify the verdict at the end of a review. This has been the challenge in comparisons, especially in consumer electronics. For the longest time, Sony and Nintendo were caught in a bitter console war, until Microsoft stepped into the picture and redefined the playing field. The same is true with the ongoing rivalry between Android and iOS, both with technical merits and lapses of their own. So how do you evaluate these without siding for the OS installed in your portable device? Many favor either without even giving the competition a chance to prove its worth.

Crash Test

The competing OS are only as good as their latest updates, even though many users consider earlier versions as comfort zones that will do, at least for the moment. The initial test is in the upgrade, if it fares better than its predecessors did. This is often calibrated with a crash test, maximizing use of the OS until it tanks or underperforms. The iOS 7.1 has improved over iOS 6 at a 1.7% crash rate, but this is still at a significant disadvantage to the Android Kitkat, with only 0.7% crashes (figures are based on activity logs from over a billion users).

Adoption and Upgrade Preferences

In a matter of preference, the Android and iOS camps are bitterly divided, but there’s an ongoing consensus against the Android Kitkat and its incompatibility with many third-party applications. This is understandable, though, given the plethora of Android apps available, both in their beta and final versions. An 85% adoption rate for the iOS, in comparison to Android’s 8%, is indicative of the reception for both OS, although subject to change.

android and ios

Seamless and Efficient Design

The iOS interface has been overhauled in favor of simplicity, to ensure efficient and convenient navigation. You can pull up a Control Center menu to tweak utilities and connection options, and you can always customize the icons and font to improve readability and navigation. Most of the improvements are cosmetic, but these serve the purpose of having an interface that’s more user-friendly.

In contrast, Android’s menus (settings and prompts) are still seamless and merged, allowing you to swipe towards each with ease. The home screen is still customizable, but there’s a sense that the entire setup is a bit clunky, if not strained. Android’s Kitkat offers better autocorrect functions, with several suggestions placed above the text field. iOS presents these with bubbles on top of words, but somewhat gets in the way of proper input.

Android and iOS Navigation

There’s nothing to complain about in terms of scrolling and zooming, the response is great for both the Android and iOS. There are features ported over from previous versions, though, such as the Android’s Apps Drawer and the iOS’s jump-to-top-of-page status bar. The highlight, copy, and paste commands still need tweaking, but don’t set back the improvements. You could say the changes were superficial instead of functional, but it’s a big leap just the same, and it’s possible these are market tests for compatibility, in preparation for the next wave of revolutionary devices set to roll out in the coming months.

Lionel Luigi Lopez is a business writer, entrepreneur and a musician. He is also an active blogger and marketing strategist. He runs a small business in Manila and still active in music.
Follow him on twitter @lionelluigi

The post The Android and iOS Rivalry – Cosmetic and Functional appeared first on Android Apps.

by Gigi Fenomen at April 29, 2014 02:37 AM

April 05, 2014

CyanogenMod Installer Removed from Google Play Store

Why do you hate me?

Why do you hate me?

A bit of news sure to disappoint fans of Cid, the CyanogenMod team recently took to their blog to explain the removal of the exceptionally popular “CyanogenMod Installer” from the Google Play Store. Despite being installed on more than 100,000 devices and maintaining a 4.2 star average rating, Google has decided this particular little blue guy isn’t up to snuff.

Cordial Ejection

It’s worth noting that Google didn’t pull the CM Installer from the Play Store, rather they contacted the team and asked that they voluntarily remove the application before Google themselves had to intervene.

This strikes us as a relatively classy way to tell somebody you don’t want them publishing their software in your marketplace, and it’s certainly a step up from the treatment most developers are given: your application get’s thrown out on its ass like the drunk guy who keeps making trouble.

When the CM team asked Google for clarification as to why they were being escorted out the door, they actually sent them a proper response rather than pointing them to the TOS with a canned message:

After reaching out to the Play team, their feedback was that though application itself is harmless, and not actually in violation of their Terms of Service, since it ‘encourages users to void their warranty’, it would not be allowed to remain in the store.

CM Blog

Looking Ahead

It’s hard to argue with Google’s point. While the CM installer is undoubtedly an excellent gateway to get new users in to the world of custom Android ROMs, there’s absolutely a concern about less knowledgeable users getting themselves into a bad situation with this type of software.

Of course, in the end, the Play Store is Google’s domain and they can do whatever the hell they please. It seems pretty unlikely that the CM Installer will be returning to the official Android ecosystem anytime soon, but the CM team says they’ll be looking into getting onto alternative Android repositories such as the ones offered by Amazon and Samsung, so those looking for a one-click installation of the world’s most popular community Android ROM hopefully won’t be out in the cold for too long.

by Tom Nardi at April 05, 2014 03:30 PM

Win a Free Android Game Console Courtesy of PlayMG!

Free Console???  Yep!

PlayMG, a company dedicated to Android game consoles and safety online, wants to give one lucky Powerbase reader a PlayMG Android game console.  What is a PlayMG?  Well, we spent some time with the device several months ago.  You can read our impressions here.

So, how do you win?  Easy! 

1.) Find us on Google+ or Facebook.  Share the post!

2.) Like us on Facebook or give us a +1 on Google Plus.

3.) Come back here and leave a comment stating why you should win a PlayMG game console!

That’s it!

The winner will be chosen on Nov. 26th, so make sure to keep checking back! 

 

mgspecs

PlayMG Specifications

Check out Olivia Holt and Kyrie Irving enjoying the PlayMG below.

 

Powerbase Review | PlayMG

Powerbase Interview | PlayMG’s Taylor Cavanah

 

 

by admin at April 05, 2014 03:30 PM

March 30, 2014

Maverick 2.6

Maverick 2.6 is just released with map tiles downloader. You can “paint” areas to download with one finger or select a rectangle block using multi-touch. Select on the left all zoom levels you want to download. Tap and hold to select at once all zoom levels up to the selected level.

Downloader

Download: Pro versionLite version

Related posts:

  1. MX Video Player: best AVI/MKV player for Android
  2. Neat Calendar Widget
  3. Adobe Flash Player 10.1 on Droid X

by Jeff at March 30, 2014 01:18 PM

February 28, 2014

Publishing an Android book in the vogella book series

Since a few months I’m working on an Android book based on the popular Android online tutorials from my website.

Selection_017

On thing I learned in the past about book writing is that the process is extremely painful. Creating a consistent and almost error free description is much more work than publishing a good online tutorial. Fortunately I already have a great team of reviewer for the book, so I have high hopes that this book will be of great quality.

I plan to release early access versions of the book via Kindle and Google Play. This release process should start soon.

I want to add every month a new chapter and people which purchases the early access version can update their books. This process will continue until I finish the electronic book. The final book will be available as paper book and as ebook.

by Lars Vogel at February 28, 2014 10:17 AM

February 24, 2014

The Galaxy S5

Photos of the galaxy S5 leaked today, and let me tell you, I am not very impressed as far as the visuals go. This is a link to an album someone leaked today. The device itself doesn't look very impressive. The bezels are bigger than the S4, although the screen is bigger. A 2800mah battery with a rumored 2K screen is going to be a battery killer. The LG G2, came out 6 months ago and has a bigger battery than that, come on Samsung. I fear Samsung is falling into the same boat as Apple. Small subtle improvements each year, knowing that people will buy it because its "The Galaxy S5". I don't want that. I want something I pull out of my pocket, and people say "wow what's that!!!" Not, oh you have a galaxy? We're entering a time where phone manufacturers are all trying to make the next new fad (watches, fitbits, glasses) and unfortunately I don't see this being one of them, even though it will be. comment below on what you think about the S5!

by Captain Clyde (noreply@blogger.com) at February 24, 2014 07:21 PM

SlideME announces In-App-Payments SDK, Payouts in bitcoins, and new payment methods


SlideME has several key announcements:  

  1. Availability of the SlideME In-App-Payments (IAP) SDK
  2. Developer Payouts in bitcoins
  3. Mobile billing with many more payment methods to come
  4. Users can earn virtual currency to pay for apps or purchase in-app-items
With the release of the SlideME IAP SDK, developers can monetize their freemium apps (i.e., free to download but include the option for users to purchase in-app-items) distributed via SlideME to the many Android Open Source Project (AOSP) based devices without Google Play Services. In-app purchases for users is seamless as they can continue to use our current or new payment options, including purchasing in-app items through their existing SlideME Wallet.


The sheer volume of non-Google Play enabled devices can no longer be ignored by app publishers as more device vendors are leveraging the AOSP, which does not include the closed-source apps and services like Google Play and Google Maps. Developers should have a distribution strategy for apps being distributed to these AOSP based devices .


Today at MWC, we’re seeing Nokia releasing the Nokia X device based on the AOSP, and therefore without Google Play. SlideME as of today is present on the Nokia X, and many other device manufacturers have preloaded SlideME as a respected alternative to Google Play.





Good news for developers today from SlideME.  Developers have the option to be paid out in Bitcoins or to their Coinbase Wallet instantly.


read more

by SlideME at February 24, 2014 05:21 PM

February 08, 2014

Grails based survey system, the android app

Some time back I wrote an article describing the roosearch system I developed using grails. This is the second part, the android client, please checkout the previous article otherwise this might not make much sense! After completing the grails component, I had a RESTful API available to me, and I just needed to build an […]

by James Elsey at February 08, 2014 09:56 AM

January 21, 2014

Dragging Images When Scaling Must Be Restricted

I recently retired, but I have one more little tip to blog about. While I have a few ideas for some apps, I doubt that I’ll have to do the kind of intensive problem solving required during my job. Therefore this might be the last post.

I was involved with a suite of clients for business intelligence. The primary clients were created with Adobe Flex and ran in the browser. They provided for creating and viewing reports. The iOS and Android clients provided for viewing reports. Thus features were implemented in the Flex product first, and we who supported the mobile clients had to cope with adding them. The feature relevant to this blog entry was the ability to specify numerous scaling options for images (e.g. photos) that could be incorporated into reports. Some of these scaling options had no natural analog to the Android scaling options for images.

To support the requirement for panning and zooming images I took full advantage of the PhotoView library provided by Chris Banes. This library was a great solution for all but two of the required scaling options. Our product allowed for two rather silly options of fitting an image to the width or to the height of the viewport that the report designer drew on screen. If the other dimension of the image was greater, then part of the image would be invisible. I had to provide support for letting the user drag the image around in the viewport so that all of it could be seen.

The PhotoView library would have handled this except for the fact that we needed to set the scale type on the ImageView class to MATRIX, and PhotoView does not allow that. With no natural analogous scaling type to our “fit width” and “fit height”, I had to create a new subclass of ImageView to handle just the images requiring those types. The ReportImageView class has some code for doing the scaling needed to fit height or fit width, but I am leaving that out here so as to concentrate on the drag support.

import uk.co.senab.photoview.VersionedGestureDetector;
public class ReportImageView extends ImageView implements VersionedGestureDetector.OnGestureListener {

private VersionedGestureDetector mScaleDragDetector;

 public ReportImageView (Context context, AttributeSet attrs){
    super(context, attrs);
    mScaleDragDetector = VersionedGestureDetector.newInstance(context, this);
  }

  @Override
  public void onDrag(float dx, float dy){
     Matrix matrix = getImageMatrix();
     Matrix copy = new Matrix(matrix);
     copy.postTranslate(dx, dy);
     setImageMatrix(copy);
  }
  @Override
  public void onFling(blah, blah...){
    //no op
  }
  @Override
  public void onScale(blah, blah...){
    //no op
  }
}

The salient features are 1) make a new VersionedGestureDetector using the class provided in the PhotoView library, 2) implement the onDrag() method of the OnGestureListener interface. In onDrag() make a new matrix and post-translate it to the coordinates supplied, then set that as the image matrix.

When the scale type is “fit width” the user can drag the image up and down if the height is greater than the width. When the scale type is “fit height” the user can drag the image left or right. If you get such oddball requirements for images, try this solution.


by Todd Folsom at January 21, 2014 08:48 PM

January 05, 2014

Yota Phone – The Android Smartphone From Russia With Two Screens

Yota Phone

Let’s start with the underlying hardware. Compared to some of the flagship and high-end Android devices launched in 2013, the Yota Phone is decidedly mid-range. The Dual-Core 1.7 GHz Krait CPU has the speed and capability to run Android comfortably, but the handset doesn’t stretch the specs in the current market. It’s nice to see it comes with 2 GB of RAM, and when it was announced at CES 2013 these were cutting-edge specs, but the Android world has moved on since then.

The handset comes in just one storage memory configuration (32 GB) and unfortunately there is no SD card expansion port. Given 16 GB feels a bit tight on Android handsets today, the 32 GB option should be good for the life of the handset, and with smart use of cloud based services for storage and streaming it should suffice for the majority of use cases.

Read More from here.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2014/01/04/yota-phone-review-the-android-smartphone-from-russia-with-two-screens/

by James at January 05, 2014 05:13 PM

December 07, 2013

Robots! Part 2, the android client

Continuing on from my previous post, I’ve created an android client that I can use to send commands to my python server. Ultimately I want to be able to control the robot remotely, the best way to do this would be to control the robot from a tablet or a phone which communicates wirelessly with […]

by James Elsey at December 07, 2013 11:01 AM

November 15, 2013

Moving An Android View By Dragging It

Yes, here is another article about moving or dragging a view with a finger, but I think I can give a complete example in one place. Most of what I read while developing a movable component did not give a fully working result. I started with the article on making sense of multitouch at the Android developers’ blog. Then I had to go search at Stackoverflow. I give some of those references in the code comments.

I had a requirement to provide a magnifier view, or jeweler’s loupe, which would provide a magnified view of a graph as the user dragged the view over the graph. The magnifier would become visible on a long press and stay visible while the user dragged it over the graph. The frame of the magnifier would display the magnified contents as provided by a helper method (not described here). Here’s a rough example from my testing app.

magnifier example

magnifier example

It shows a small bitmap (unmagnified in this test) and some bogus tooltip values to the right of the image. When this magnifier is dragged over the image (i.e. a real graph), the magnified area will update as will the tooltip information.

Let’s look at the code. Here’s the touch listener for the magnifier. It requires that the magnifier (a RelativeLayout) be passed in on the constructor.

private class TouchListener implements View.OnTouchListener{
   public TouchListener(RelativeLayout frame) {
     super();
     this.frame = frame;
   }
private float aPosX;
private float aPosY;
private float aLastTouchX;
private float aLastTouchY;
private static final int INVALID_POINTER_ID = -1;

// The active pointer is the one currently moving our object.
private int mActivePointerId = INVALID_POINTER_ID;
private RelativeLayout frame =null;

public boolean onTouch(View view, MotionEvent event) {

switch (event.getAction() &amp; MotionEvent.ACTION_MASK) {
   case MotionEvent.ACTION_DOWN:
     //from http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2010/06/making-sense-of-multitouch.html
     Log.d(TAG, "action down");
     // Save the ID of this pointer
     mActivePointerId = event.getPointerId(0);
     final float x = event.getX(mActivePointerId);
     final float y = event.getY(mActivePointerId);
     // Remember where we started
     aLastTouchX = x;
     aLastTouchY = y;
//to prevent an initial jump of the magnifier, aposX and aPosY must
//have the values from the magnifier frame
     if (aPosX == 0){
         aPosX = frame.getX();
      }
      if (aPosY == 0){
          aPosY = frame.getY();
       }
    break;

    case MotionEvent.ACTION_UP:
      Log.d(TAG, "action up");
      reset();
    break;

    case MotionEvent.ACTION_POINTER_DOWN:
    break;

    case MotionEvent.ACTION_POINTER_UP:
      // Extract the index of the pointer that left the touch sensor
       final int pointerIndex = (event.getAction() &amp; MotionEvent.ACTION_POINTER_INDEX_MASK) &gt;&gt; MotionEvent.ACTION_POINTER_INDEX_SHIFT;
      final int pointerId = event.getPointerId(pointerIndex);
      if (pointerId == mActivePointerId) {
         // This was our active pointer going up. Choose a new
         // active pointer and adjust accordingly.
         final int newPointerIndex = pointerIndex == 0 ? 1 : 0;
          mActivePointerId = event.getPointerId(newPointerIndex);
       }
  break;
  case MotionEvent.ACTION_MOVE:

     // Find the index of the active pointer and fetch its position
     final int pointerIndexMove = event.findPointerIndex(mActivePointerId);
     Log.d(TAG, "action move");
     float xMove = event.getX(pointerIndexMove);
     float yMove = event.getY(pointerIndexMove);

//from http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2010/06/making-sense-of-multitouch.html
     // Calculate the distance moved
     final float dx = xMove - aLastTouchX;
     final float dy = yMove - aLastTouchY;

     if ( Math.abs(dx) &gt; mTouchSlop || Math.abs(dy) &gt; mTouchSlop){
        // Move the frame
        aPosX += dx;
        aPosY += dy;

// Remember this touch position for the next move event
//no! see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/17530589/jumping-imageview-while-dragging-getx-and-gety-values-are-jumping?rq=1 and
// last comment in http://stackoverflow.com/questions/16676097/android-getx-gety-interleaves-relative-absolute-coordinates?rq=1
//aLastTouchX = xMove;
//aLastTouchY = yMove;
Log.d(TAG, "we moved");

//in this area would be code for doing something with the magnified view as the frame moves.
       frame.setX(aPosX);
       frame.setY(aPosY);
    }
    break;

    case MotionEvent.ACTION_CANCEL: {
      mActivePointerId = INVALID_POINTER_ID;
    break;
   }
  }

    return true;
}

 private void reset(){
   aPosX = 0;
   aPosY = 0;
   aLastTouchX = 0;
   aLastTouchY = 0;
   frame.setVisibility(View.INVISIBLE);

  }
}

Here is the first important point. At line 29, we see that the magnifier will initially jump from the touch point because the touch event streams relative and absolute coordinates. Prevent this by setting the aPosX and aPosY fields to the initial X and Y coordinates of the frame.

Next, look at line 76 in the case for ACTION_MOVE. The multitouch example from the Android developers’ blog would have us remember the touch position. However that causes problems, as described in the citations from Stackoverflow, so don’t remember the last touch point. If the distance moved is greater than the touchSlop (line 71), just go ahead and move the frame (lines 85 and 86).

With these two modifications to the code shown in the multitouch example you should be able to happily drag a view around to your heart’s content.


by Todd Folsom at November 15, 2013 08:08 PM

October 25, 2013

MicroConf Europe

I don't envy conference organizers these days - most of what's being said can be read the next day, for free, on line, at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home, and without spending a bundle of time and money to sleep in a far away hotel.

Competing with that is not easy, but the guys at MicroConf managed to.  I would sum up the weekend by saying that it was a "very high bandwidth experience".  Every day, from breakfast until I turned in, I was chatting with people or listening to speakers during the conference itself.  That's aproximately  16 hours of being "on", and by the time I got home to Padova, I was exhausted!  But at the end of the day, I felt like it was worth it being there in person, because of all the interaction with other people.  The speakers' talks all ended up on line, more or less, but all the chatting and discussion and getting to know everyone is the human element that is tough to replicate on line, and one of the most important reasons to attend a conference in person.  Prague is also a beautiful city - I wish I had had more time there to check it out.

Here are some highlights and notes, in no particular order:

  • Rob Walling talked about actual, concrete numbers when discussing his current project's revenues.  There's a ton of handwavy stuff out there on the internet, but real numbers are tough to beat.  What makes it especially nice is that they also felt "real": they're good numbers, no doubt about it, but not stratospheric, science fiction numbers that leave you feeling like "ok, whatever, but that's not the planet I live on".  They're numbers that make you think "maybe, if things go well, I could do that too".
  • The number of "I'm from X, but live in Y" people at the conference was high.  Irish but live in Spain, American but live in Japan.  Or maybe just noticeable because I'm in that category myself.  There were people attending from the US, Europe, Japan, South Africa, and even Australia.  Impressive!
  • Almost all of the speakers had very specific, concrete advice that I can and will apply to LiberWriter, time permitting.  I read, and have read, a lot of business books.  Most of them are kind of fluffy, truth be told, in that they've got one decent idea, and a lot of filler to turn what could have been a tight, ten-page article into a book.  This was quite different in that there were a whole lot of tips and tricks being thrown out.
  • Rob's wife Sherry gave a talk about life with an entrepreneur.  Having two kids and a wonderful wife myself, it's a point of view that I was very interested in hearing about.  Judging from the people I chatted with, this was not your typical "startup" conference with a bunch of 20-somethings with no family and no ties - a lot of the other people attending had kids to think about as they launch their ventures.  A question I asked of Rob was how much of a leap he took from consulting to working on his own products, with the answer being that he's actually pretty risk adverse.  No Silicon Valley story about betting the house and everything else on the company - apparently, revenues from the web sites and products were good enough that there wasn't even really a leap to make when he quit consulting.
  • The size of the conference was just right: enough people that I didn't quite manage to meet everyone, but not so many that it was overwhelming.  In downtime between talks, and during dinners, breakfasts, lunch and so on, the speakers were very available to chat with.
  • Patrick McKenzie seems to have stumbled into his life's calling as someone working at the border of software and marketing.  The amount of advice, anecdotes, and data that he was continually spinning off was incredible.  He comes across as being a down-to-earth, approachable, friendly person.
  • Part of the balancing act the organizers have to work with is where people are at: some people had an idea but no concrete business.  Some of us (me) make some money but not too much.  Others have viable businesses that they make enough to live off of, and then there are those who seem pretty much 'set'.  It's difficult to find people to speak to each audience without losing some of the others.
  • The thing I liked the most about a lot of what was discussed was that it seems realistic.  Few people at the conference were from Silicon Valley, and yet... they're successful!  I like hearing about success stories that work out really well for the people involved, but still feel like something attainable.  People should be looking to emulate the successful guys here, not looking at extreme outliers like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.
  • I'm used to tech conferences, where it's all about the technology.  There was very little actual tech talk at MicroConf - it seems like everyone knows their stuff and was interested in learning about marketing, sales, and so on.

However, since it was a business conference, I also have to put on my cold, hard accountant hat.  Will the conference pay for itself?  Only time will tell.  I learned a variety of interesting and useful things, many of which I think I can put into practice.  The problem is finding the time between consulting work and family, but that was a bottleneck before, too - I had, and have, more things to do than time.  Also, to be very direct about it, how much of what I learned could not have been learned by carefully reading accounts of the conference, slides, and other material published on the internet?  A lot of it.  I'm not sure I would have paid attention to all of it though, so the conference was definitely nice in that it exposed me to some talks and ideas that otherwise I might have brushed off before giving them a chance.  In terms of dollars and cents, I won't be able to say for a while whether it was a sensible investment or not.

Would I go again?  I'd like to - it was a lot of fun and the people were great.

Like I said, it's tough doing conferences because your competition is the internet!

by David N. Welton at October 25, 2013 10:21 PM

September 30, 2013

The Google LG Nexus 5, and why you should it should be your next smartphone

If you're like me, you are sitting on an upgrade, and not really sure what to do as far as picking a phone goes. I'm here too tell you, buy an iPhone 5C. Just kidding. Don't waste your money on Apple garbage that's 3 years behind every android device on the planet. I suggest to everyone, to wait for the Nexus 5 to come out in the next few months, and let me give you a few reasons why.

1. PRICE (pretty obvious)

The beautiful thing about buying Nexus devices, is you are getting top of the line hardware and specs, for almost half the cost as anyone else. The Galaxy S4 is around 700 dollars off contract, which is absolutely insane. The Nexus 5 will cost (this is an educated guess) around 300-350 dollars, which is half the price of anything else, with the same (in my opinion better) user experience.

2. UPDATES (real catch)

Buying a Nexus phone has one simple bonus. You will always (except for you Gnex verizon people) get the latest version of android, before everyone else. Who doesn't like new software as fast as possible?

3. Everything else

The Nexus 5 is going to be a 5inch 1080p screen with a snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of ram and a 8mp shooter. Now for those of you who have no idea what I just said, I can break it down for you. Let's imagine that the phone you have in your hand right now (which im guessing is close to 1-2 years old) is the car you had when you were 16. Probably an old beater that had 200,000 miles on it that you didn't care about. The Nexus 5, is an Audi A8 with all the little extras like leather seats and air condition and the fancy GPS that you brag about to all your friends, but never really use it, because you would have your Nexus 5 navigating you around with Google Maps ;)

when it doubt, wait it out, and buy Nexus 5

by Captain Clyde (noreply@blogger.com) at September 30, 2013 10:41 PM

September 18, 2013

Wallpaper Wednesday – Schwangau

Wallpaper Wednesday - Schwangau

This week’s wallpaper is called Schwangau after the place where it was taken. I always use the wallpapers that I put up, and I hope you like it enough to use it too.

This wallpaper will work great on any Galaxy Tab or Galaxy Note. Click here to download.

by Kyle Dornblaser at September 18, 2013 07:23 PM

September 11, 2013

Wallpaper Wednesday – Prague

Wallpaper Wednesday - Prague

This week’s wallpaper is called Prague. I always use the wallpapers that I put up, and I hope you like it enough to use it too.

This wallpaper will work great on any Galaxy Tab or Galaxy Note. Click here to download.

by Kyle Dornblaser at September 11, 2013 02:37 PM

August 06, 2013

Try Some Old School Fun With 3D Snake

The old snake game has gotten a facelift and a new name. 3D Snake for Android is just what its name implies. The old school game has gone 3 dimensional, and it has never been so much fun. The premise is still the same. You are a snake eating as you crawl along in a box getting bigger and bigger as you go. If you are not fast enough to stay away from the edges, you die. It gets harder the bigger the snake gets, of course. In this newer version, you are a cute little grass snake eating bugs and growing as you go along, but if you get too big and lose control you are in trouble.

It is an analogy for life really, if you think about it. We go along our lives and our triumphs can make our pride grow and grow until we can no longer fit in the constraints of our lives or around the people in it. We can't get out of our own lives, therefore if we grow so large as to bust out, we lose it. Maybe we don't literally lose a life, but we very well could lose much of what makes up our lives as we know it.


No one wants to think about that though. The goal here is to get as big as possible and stay away from the edge, which is not as easy as it sounds. Do it well thought and watch your score climb on the Swarm leaderboards.

by Beti (noreply@blogger.com) at August 06, 2013 09:07 PM

July 30, 2013

Avoid The Mines In Minesweeper ++ Lite


Minesweeper is the classic game of "can you figure it out before you die." It is the perfect way to kill time or rest your brain with some mindless activity for just a few minutes without anyone knowing.  Countless execs over the years have utilized the game to take a break while looking busy, and now with Minesweeper ++ Lite for Android the same technique can be used by anyone anywhere on their android mobile device.

While it may take a second to catch on, once you do you will be hooked. You must "guess" where the mines are and stay away from them. This becomes easier to reduce with time and guessing is no longer necessary once you figure out what you are doing. 


What makes it even better is the ability to post scores to the Swarm leaderboards. Compare your progress and rank with players from around the world, but be certain you change your name lest anyone else lurking around the boards catch on to your sneaky break time routine. Of course, be wary of who you share your gaming name with also, but a little inner office camaraderie never hurt anyone.   Enjoy free time, or use it as a cover to make you look busy when you are not. Either way you will love the fun that Minesweeper offers.

by Beti (noreply@blogger.com) at July 30, 2013 04:48 PM

June 26, 2013

T-Mobile To Announce “Simple Choice with no credit check” plans

It seems that T-Mobile always does this. They introduce something fairly interesting, and then follow it up with something also kind of interesting, but also a little confusing. It got bad a few years ago, when they had multiple tiers of plans and it was difficult to tell the differences between them in many cases. Their latest foray piggybacks their Uncarrier campaign. “Simple Choice with no credit check” will provide the credit-challenged with access to those same Uncarrier plans.

There are many catches, of course, and the confusion of the plan might turn off consumers before they get a chance to see how it can work for them. For starters, this is advertised as, and mostly effective as, a family plan. Individual users with bad credit are better off examining T-Mobile’s traditional prepaid plans, which are pretty close to the Simple Choice plans, but with no deposit.

Yes, a deposit is required for the no credit check plans. That starts at $60 for the first line, followed by a $40 deposit for the second line, and $20 each for the next two lines. A fifth line is also a $20 deposit, but that has to be a non-phone internet device (tablet, for example). The deposit is refundable, so presumably it covers you for potential non-payment.

The biggest loss here is the lack of automatic payments. Why T-Mobile would take that away I don’t understand. Companies absolutely love autobill features, and it’s pretty standard in prepaid. (Virgin Mobile offers a $5 per month discount if you sign up for automatic payments.) Maybe it will be available in the future, but for now it’s off the table.

Combine all that with the necessity of paying for a device in full, up front, and you have a not so attractive plan. There will be many customers, for sure, who will want an option like this. But given the ease of T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plans, it seems as though this appeals only to those who absolutely cannot pass a credit check. In which case, they’re stuck with what T-Mobile offers.

Via TmoNews.com.

The post T-Mobile To Announce “Simple Choice with no credit check” plans appeared first on MobileMoo.

by Joe Pawlikowski at June 26, 2013 12:30 PM

June 21, 2013

Beat on Broken Hearts in Springloaded’s Heart Beaten for Android

heart.beaten-android

Beat on Broken Hearts in Springloaded’s Heart Beaten for Android

Most people that have been in love have had their heart broken at some point, and it always sucks. The folks at Springloaded agree, and Heart Beaten is their retro tribute to lost love and heartbreak.

Android Games

by Adam Field at June 21, 2013 02:58 PM

Monoprice 8320 Earbuds Deliver at a Low Price

20130620_180008

Earbud headphones almost always suck. At least for me, and I know plenty of others who simply cannot stand them. I remember seeing everyone walking around with the signature white iPod earbuds as I walked around New York City in the mid-00s, wondering how they found them at all comfortable. For me they alway fell out, so I had to readjust them every 30 or so seconds while walking.

A recent trend in earbuds is including three different size buds with each pair. If the default buds are too big or too small, you can change it to one of the other included sizes. This is nice in many ways — I actually have a pair rigged up with two different sized buds on each ear — but I still can’t seem to find a pair that stays in my ear while walking.

Recently I connected with Troy Redington of FatWallet, who raved about the Monoprice 8320 earbuds. At first he went on about the sound quality, how they all but eliminated outside sound. Then he went on about the price, around $8, which just blows away the cheap earbud competition. When I asked about comfort he said he had dozens of earbuds lying around, but these fit far better. So sure, send me a pair for review.

I’m not going to say that these earbuds stayed in my ear like a dream. I’m not going to say that they’re superior to the Bose over-ear headphones I have. But I will say that in terms of earbuds, they are the most comfortable I’ve worn and they do deliver on sound quality. While they’re not great for spoken-word audio, such as podcasts, they do a real good job with all styles of music I tried.

As you can see in the picture atop this post, they’re not exactly normal looking earbuds. They have something of a hook on top, which is actually great. The hook helps the buds fit snugly in your ear. It takes a little twisting, but I got them to fit very well without moving too much. The cords also wrap around your ear, rather than hanging straight down. This probably makes the greatest difference. Since using these, I started wrapping all of my earbuds around my ear like that, and it honestly does make all of them more comfortable.

Yet what stood out to me about the Monoprice buds is that they’re made of nylon, rather than the cheap plasticky, rubbery substance you see with most headphones. It’s strange, because the buds are so cheap, yet the material feels anything but. They just feel more durable, which is nice. When I buy headphones under $10 I expect to replace them pretty quickly. These feel like they’re last for a while.

You can check out the FatWallet site to get these earbuds at an insanely cheap price. They do offer cash back if you register, which is nice. Again, it’s tough to do better for $8. It’s probably tough to do better for triple that.

The post Monoprice 8320 Earbuds Deliver at a Low Price appeared first on MobileMoo.

by Joe Pawlikowski at June 21, 2013 12:30 PM

June 20, 2013

Aquaria comes to Android via the Humble Bundle 6

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Aquaria comes to Android via the Humble Bundle 6

Aquaria is another awesome Indie that’s just arrived on Android courtesy of the Humble Android Bundle 6. It's the second Bundle game we've covered so far, and it's unlike any platformer you've ever played.

Android Games

by Adam Field at June 20, 2013 03:48 PM

January 14, 2013

The Software Millionaire Next Door

I've been reading "The Millionaire Next Door" and have so far found it to be a pleasant book with a good message: don't waste your money on silly things and appearance (fancy suits, fancy cars, expensive boats, etc...), save what you do earn consistently and constantly, invest wisely, and so on.   Wikipedia has a good summary:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Millionaire_Next_Door

One of the things I like about it is that it focuses on "ordinary" wealthy people, those with a million or more in the bank, but not the Warren Buffets or Bill Gates types that are extreme statistical outliers.  There are plenty of people in the US who have done well by themselves by slowly but surely putting together enough money to be financially independent, without, however, being in the spotlight.   As the book says, these are the kind of people who maybe own a local chain of businesses doing something fairly ordinary, but doing it well enough to succeed.  They may very well not live in a fancy house, nor drive an expensive car, or otherwise outwardly draw much attention to themselves.

The world of software does not revolve around "dressing for success" (you noticed?), but we do tend to focus on the "big winners".  Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Larry & Sergey, Larry Ellison, and so on are the stars of the show.  Of course, the economics of software being what they are, instances of winner-take-all markets with one big fish and a lot of also-rans are not uncommon.   However, that is not the only story, and I think it'd be interesting to know more about those in our industry who have accumulated significant wealth, yet are not the guys with more money than they could possibly ever spend on things that aren't, say, country-sized chunks of real-estate.

I'm guessing they'd fall into these categories:

  • Highly paid workers who have consistently saved over the years.  There are examples in the aforementioned book about people with relatively low salaries who happened to be very frugal and invest well (and have had some luck in their investments too).  These people would probably tend to be older, as it takes a while to save up that kind of money, and since this industry is so young with so much turnover, I would not think there would be a lot of people out there like this, but who knows, maybe there are a bunch of IBMers with this kind of story.
  • Those who got in on the right IPO, like Google or Facebook or something like that.  These events not only generate billions for those at the top of the heap, but for the right person at the right place at the right time, can mean significant wealth even without being in the upper echelons of the company.  My suspicion is that this kind of IPO, where everyone cashes out, is not common enough to have a lot of people in this category, but who knows, maybe it adds up over the years.
  • Those who own or started software firms that do something that's not very visible, but nonetheless dominates some particular niche.  This is where I'd guess most of them would be, but I certainly have no data or even anecdotes to back this up.

It'd be very interesting to gather some actual data on this, although I'm not in a position to do so myself - I wouldn't even really know where to start. 

As I age, I think the third category has begun to seem appealing in many ways - I'm simply not cut out for the Big Company life, and I'm not interested in living in Silicon Valley and going "all in" on the latest startup - I already did that, and while it was fun and I don't regret it, it's not the kind of thing I'd want to do now that I'm married and have kids.   Incidentally, this more relaxed, under the radar approach is exactly what is expoused in one of my favorite books of the past few years, Start Small, Stay Small.

Edit : I finished reading the book and reviewed it here: http://davids-book-reviews.blogspot.com/

by David N. Welton at January 14, 2013 10:23 PM

December 22, 2012

InDrive: Custom Car Home 1.0

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new Android application that may appeal to everyone who uses their phone while driving.

InDrive is a GPS-enabled application that combines the standard car home functionality with a trip computer and Poweramp support. The app makes it very easy to launch your favorite applications, directly dial numbers, view your trip information and control music playback*. It will auto launch when placed in a compatible car dock. If you don’t have a physical car dock, InDrive provides an option to force the phone into car mode, in which it will override the Home button.

  

* The music screen is designed to work in conjunction with Poweramp. Without Poweramp installed, you will only be able to do very basic controls such as switching to the next song in the default Android music player. Support for other media players is not guaranteed.

Please download the app from Google Play and tell us what you think. Your feedback is much appreciated.

Related posts:

  1. TAT Home: 3D home screen
  2. Nexus One desktop dock now available
  3. Video: Flash 10.1 and a new home screen

by Jeff at December 22, 2012 01:59 PM

July 23, 2012

Transfer of data using Intents (Part 2)

Hi everyone!

In spite of trying hard, I couldn’t prevent the delay. I am again sorry for that. Let’s move on. In the last post, I introduced the concept of transfer of data between activities. I also described the code for declaring an Intent which could help us in accomplishing the task.

Now, it’s time to look at the code of SecondActivity.java, the second activity which will help us in adding new tasks to the list. As mentioned earlier, this activity will have an EditText to allow the user to input the task name and a Button, which when clicked, will take the user back to HelloWorldActivity.java and add the task to the List. The code for the click listener for this button looks as follows:

  1. String taskName = taskEdit.getText().toString();
  2. Intent intent = this.getIntent();
  3. intent.putExtra(“task”, taskName);
  4. setResult(RESULT_OK, intent);
  5. finish();

Here, taskEdit is an object of class EditText. The first line extracts the data input to the taskEdit, converts it into string and stores it in a variable. Second line is used to grab access to the intent which called this activity. The third line is the one which actually does the job of putting the data onto the intent. intent.putExtra function used in this line basically adds the information contained in the second parameter to the intent and the first parameter provides a way to access it. We will see the use of the first parameter in a greater detail later, when we will try to access this information in HelloWorldActivity.java. I hope that the fourth and fifth lines will be pretty easy to understand. If not, please refer to the last three posts on Intents.

The above code ensures that the clicking of the button takes us back to the initial activity with an intent which contains the name of the new task that is to be added to the list.

Clearly, the callback function described in Part 1 of this post will be used to access the information carried by the intent since this function will be automatically called when the control is given back to this activity via an intent. Straight away, let’s look at the code!

String extraData=data.getStringExtra(“task”);
taskText.append(extraData+”\n”);

I think it is self-explanatory. We are extracting the information from the variable data using the value of the first parameter of the function in Line 4 above, and saving it in a variable called extraData. The second line just appends this value to the list (referred by taskText).

In this way, we received the name of the task from a different activity and display it in our main activity. This provides a clean and user-friendly interface which is the basis of a useful app.

But here, we have not taken care of the situation when the user calls the intent to SecondActivity.java but wants to cancel it later. This is not perfect programming, though it can be dealt very easily. How?

In the next post, we will finish our discussion on intent and move on to explore some new concepts in Android App Development.

Till then, BYE!


by Nikhil Gupta at July 23, 2012 12:44 PM

July 11, 2012

Transfer of data using Intents (Part 1)

Hi all!

Last time, we had looked at the most basic communication which can be achieved among activities. It allowed us to switch between activities back and forth, which is an important concept used in almost all the android apps these days.

Moving on, it’s time to look at the data transfer using Intents. Consider the case of a simple Task application, in which a To-do list is shown in one activity while another activity performs the task of adding new items to the list. So, what’s happening here?

Basically, we need to create a new task in the second Activity and somehow transfer it to the first activity so that it could add it in the existing list. Note that we are not using any database. If we do so which is done most of the times, this app will be useless in itself. But, I am still discussing this app because I feel that it’s the best in order to understand the concept of transfer of data which you may need in various other apps.

In this post, I will not go through the layout or the entire code of the app. I may go through it later. But, I hope that you will be able to do so after going through the previous posts. As a hint, we will be using a TextView (to display the list) and a Button while making the first activity, while the second Activity will have an EditText and a Button.

Assuming that we have an EditText in the second Activity and when the user presses enter, the string in the EditText is captured in a string variable called NewTask, we need to simply tranfer the contents of NewTask to the first activity.

To achieve this, we need to call the intent when the button in pressed in the first activity in such a way that the Android platform knows that some data will be coming back to this activity. Continuing with the app from the previous post by replacing the startActivity(intent); by

startActivityForResult(intent, 1);

as a parameter acts as a unique code used to distinguish data received by this intent from the data received by other intents if more intents are used. Using the above functin, we have been able to call the intent, but we have not yet accessed the data which comes back with this intent.

To achieve this, we need to use a callback function which will called automatically when the intent returns. Let’s look at the code for this function:

public void onActivityResult(int requestCode,int resultCode,Intent data)
{
          super.onActivityResult(requestCode, resultCode, data);
          if(resultCode==RESULT_OK)
          {
                      //Code to extract the required information from the variable data
          }
}

In our case, requestCode is 1. resultCode is a variable which is set to value RESULT_OK if the intent was successfully handled. data is the variable which contains the data received from the other activity.

In the next post, we will look at the code to extract the information as well as the code for the second Activity which puts the information in the intent.

Till then, BYE!


by Nikhil Gupta at July 11, 2012 05:36 AM

July 04, 2012

Planet Android summer cleaning

Blogs come and blogs go, and nowhere is this more apparent than in a fast changing technology area such as Android. Today I removed 12 feeds from PlanetAndroid that haven't had updates in a while (some since 2010). If you feel your feed was removed in error, let me know.

In a reply to a recent post, one reader said they'd like to see fewer app reviews and news articles here, and more development diaries, tutorials, and community activities. What do you think? What are your most favorite and least favorite feeds? Let me know in the comments.

by Ed Burnette (noreply@blogger.com) at July 04, 2012 03:00 AM

June 14, 2012

New PlanetAndroid feed policy

Starting today I'll be removing most feeds that include embedded ads. Currently, I pay for PlanetAndroid's upkeep out of my own pocket, with no revenue coming in from ads or donations at all. When an ad appears in one of our feeds, it takes space away from the other articles and gets clicks based on the drawing power of the whole site, including feeds with no ads. That didn't seem fair.

I grandfathered in a handful of feeds for various reasons including new sites that need the extra juice that PlanetAndroid brings to help them get started. Some sites report that being listed on PlanetAndroid has doubled their traffic! If you feel your feed was unfairly removed, or if you make a new feed without the ads and want to re-join, just let me know. Thanks for your support.

by Ed Burnette (noreply@blogger.com) at June 14, 2012 12:48 AM

June 12, 2011

Android and openness

On Thursday I gave a talk at TriLUG. The slides I used are available but will probably be rather cryptic without my accompanying commentary.

Although I understand that Google has had to contend with both the open source zealots and the closed-everything carriers, upon looking at the trend, I find Google’s actions getting more disturbing. Just as Android seems to be coming into its own and Google should have more power than ever to twist arms, Google seems to be wimping out – or turning evil. I hope I’m wrong and they’re just waiting for the right time.

One thing I completely forgot to talk about is the abandoning of the Nexus One. When it came out, it was supposed to herald a new age of cross-carrier, stock-Android phones (with a built-in connection-sharing capability, no less). Only T-Mobile really picked it up – you could use it on AT&T but without 3G. Verizon and Sprint were supposed to be coming out with support for the same concept and just a different radio, but instead they released their own phones, with the usual modifications and constraints. So why did Google let them? They didn’t have to; the Skyhook case shows that Google can essentially pull their blessing from any phone for any reason. An Android phone without the Google apps isn’t going to be very attractive to consumers. Why didn’t Google force Verizon and Sprint to kowtow to the Nexus One before allowing them to release any more Android phones?


by Luke Meyer at June 12, 2011 12:59 AM

April 01, 2011

Is this thing on? ::feedback:: ouch…

Well – I don’t want to let the *entire* month of March go by without a post. I just haven’t done much with tech this month, though. It sucked. But evidently my absence has caused a surge in popularity, according to my stats. Less is more?

If I remember correctly – is Honeycomb the first version of Android where we actually saw a preview, got to fiddle with the SDK platform preview before it was actually embodied in a device? If so, better late than never, and let’s hope it means we’re on the way to seeing more of a community effort. Hey, it took a while for Red Hat to learn with Fedora, too, and they didn’t have voracious proprietary partners to contend with.

I have a meetup or two to arrange, but I hope I get some time to work further with ORMlite shortly.

Happy April Fools Day tomorrow!


by Luke Meyer at April 01, 2011 01:01 AM