More and more people are feeling short-changed after spending hundreds of dollars on device when there are no updates available after few months of their purchase.
In short that is simply a bad (existing) customer service on part of companies like Samsung, HTC, or Motorola and it will have to change in the near future as market will revolt against their products.
I use my DROID2 with Android 2.3.x on it and I did not feel that Ice Cream Sandwich is a must have for me at this time. All my app are written for backwards compatibility and after testing them positively on the newest Galaxy Nexus I decided not to buy it.
If Manufacturers start upgrading their devices I might start thinking about writing for the new features.
Me: "Harley Davidson"
Iris writes: "Harley Davidson"
Iris thinks and answers: "What color are my eyes?"
I have been using voice recognition successfully in the past, most of the time to set up my task reminders while driving and I can see some value in doing so.
Very often the text was right on if I used common words but good luck asking e.g. "What is XL1200S?" Which being a model of Harley-Davidson produced, um, forever, I would expect to recognize it.
In the past, I have used COPY, PASTE, CUT, SAVE, UNDO, BUILD voice recognized commands while coding and that works well if YOU ARE ALONE in the room. It can really save you a lot of wrist strain if you do a lot of it, since these particular commands require 2 finger key presses.
I don't see myself using voice commands around humans until the computer can really pick up MY OWN voice out of regular conversation e.g. "Iris, what is my 3PM looking like?"
For all of you ladies named Iris out there, well I would not be afraid you what to change your names.. yet.
Apple has lawsuits against Samsung that prevents selling Galaxy line devices in Europe yet they are building a $3.6 billion factory in Texas to produce Apple's flagship mobile processor A5.
Samsung is also a leader in cutting-edge mobile display manufacturing and almost all other aspects of technology which begs the question: if they really wanted they could always have a better Android mobile devices out before Apples iPhone and iPad updates. Of course they would have to put some originality in their design and not just copy Apple as they did with Galaxy Tab.
Overall the $8 billion dealings between these to giants remind me of fast forwarded clash between tectonics plates with a lot of tremors, I just don't know on which side the beautiful mountains will raise. I think it is up to Samsumg's product team, they need to infuse some creativity and sense of design in them. Looking at the latest and greatest Galaxy Nexus I was very disappointed and I would actually consider Motorola Bionic instead.
This reminds me of Apple and Microsoft love-hate relationship that allowed Microsoft to get of the ground, then dominate the world and then to give up the title of biggest and most profitable corporation to Apple in recent years.
New era of powerful graphical & computational machines running Android is starting.
Let me know what application you think will be running on this in the future? I think a huge interactive displays that will process a lot of external data and user's large screen touch-displays.
- Think retail stores.
- Think architectural studios.
- Think education.
Cost of buying hardware that is expensive because it is small will be less of an issue, the storage sizes could be in Tera bytes and graphical cards could be liquid cooled if you really need to run such single purpose systems.
"When I first met with Uki to tell him about my app idea he could not have been more supportive and full of energy to see it come to life. His creative input and the graphic design work of Natalia were amazing! Uki's most valuable insight to me was his philosophy not to wait, but to get the app into the market place as soon as possible and then improve upon it based upon actual user experience and feedback. To date, the app has been the subject of multiple radio, television and internet news stories and continues to grow new users every day! It has been wonderful to meet and work with the team at CyberWalkAbout!"
~ Daniel Fedor, Taxi Share co-founder, December 12, 2011
HP has announced that they will "open source" WebOS to let the community of developers continue improving it. This is the only sensible thing that the company could have done after failing to market and stopping the production of tablets earlier this year. HP said they will continue investment in this open source project. However, without a strong leadership, vision and centralized user interface design, as it is case with almost all open source products, I am not expecting miracles.
In the future, if WebOS can avoid legal complications, because of its open source nature and therefore free price tag, it could become the OS for masses, especially I see it as OS for EDUCATION, something that Android might be able to achieve if Microsoft and Apple will not raise the cost too far by litigation and fees per unit sold.
I think a new, celebrity-backed venture might be able able to pick up WebOS and do miracles if they:
1) are small and nimble with a strong visionary at the helm
2) have a brilliant graphical user design person leading the way
3) develop relationships with major educational text-book publishers
4) have relationship with at least one manufacturer to develop 7 inch tablet for education industry.
The tablet would have to be bullet proof and inexpensive very much like Amazon Fire and Barnes or Noble Nook Tablet. I have been using two 7 inch tablets for a year now and I am convinced that it is the best form factor. Motorola is making such tablet for retail and medical industries, I have seen a pre-production prototype, but it felt a little too bulky to imagine students liking it. The tablet could be limited to WiFi only and skip on GPS and gyroscope, however it would have to feature gorilla glass and very solid casing not unlike Moto Android Razr or iPhone 4. The 7 inch screen with 1024x600 resolution would be plenty. I also believe that bluetooth for HID keyboard and other periferials would be a must. On software side in addition to great textbook reading and "margin" note-taking and quick highlighter marking applications I believe the apps should be residing on the device so the need for WiFi would be necessary only at the beginning of the semester and to submit the papers. The could be solved with as little as one hot spot per school. The security of student-server-teacher exchanges and DRM of materials would have to be considered as it is a case with any test-taking solution today, I have been part of such Houghton Mifflin project in the past.
While I am not quite there rounding up celebrities, investors, manufacturers and textbook publishers, I am however sure that the tablet revolution is coming to the educational institution near you.
Please post, or send me your comments.
1. Download and install SIMBL for OS version Snow Leopard and Leopard or Tiger
2. Download the ColorfulSidebar SIMBL plugin and mount the DMG file
3. Move the ColorfulSidebar.bundle into the following SIMBL plugin folder:
4. Restart the computer
5. Kill the Finder through the Terminal: killall Finder
'With three touches to your phone, you'll get to where you need to be with fellow passengers.'
Taxi Share Chicago App
When we used 1000000 instead of 1E6 the coordinates were rounded off and therefore up to one degree (110 km) off from the true location.
In Terminal execute below to get your MD5 fingerprint:
~ uki$ keytool -list -alias androiddebugkey -keystore ~/.android/debug.keystore -storepass android -keypass androidandroiddebugkey, Jun 29, 2011, PrivateKeyEntry,
Certificate fingerprint (MD5): 65:4D:21:AA...
Go to the site:
Copy the fingerprint: 65:4D:21:AA...
<com.google.android.maps.MapView android:layout_width="fill_parent" android:layout_height="fill_parent" android:apiKey="0wbj..." />
- open Photoshop, create a file with canvas size 72x72 (Notice: always start from the larger size)
- create your shape using Pen tool (P), or if you have it ready in some vector format paste it as a shape into your document. For the sake of sharpness it is important to use the shape tool and to adjust it, by moving its nods so that the margins fit to the pixel grid.
- scale it to 48x48 and center it. Keep this size for more square icons but make them a little bigger in case you have a custom shape icon so they will appear visually approximately the same size
- apply the following layer styles
- save it as *.png
- scale and save the icon for mdpi (48x38) and ldpi (36x36).
When an application is downloaded on the device, the app performs a check of the screen size and density and runs using the graphics from the appropriate folder. If graphics for a given device is not found, or it deals with an element shared with all the screen sizes, then the app is looking for it in the default folder .../drawable/.
To import the icons in the project just drag and drop them in the specific folders.
Note: The icon should have exactly the same file name for all the screen densities. After importing you should get the following structure:
For the menu icons we will not consider screen sizes, only screen densities.
Note: Having an existing project with at least one menu item you should be able to add as many of them as you need to test. Just make copies of the <item> inside the <menu> in the xml menu file, and make sure to copy and create strings for the item title as well. As for android:id, you can copy the same value in all of them as our goal is to test the look of the icons and we do not care about the activity that follows, just be careful not to commit your experiments. If you want to temporally remove an item from the menu you can comment it out by selecting it in xml file and pressing command+shift+C.
- right click on the project and choose Refresh
- connect the device to the computer or set up your emulator
- right click on the project, select Run and choose as Android Project
Let me guess - MOST OF THE TIME.
In this new series of articles I will try to share my experience on how to improve and adjust your UI designs for Android mobile apps. We will learn how to change colors, adjust margins, add shadows and at a higher level - how to create beautiful and flexible layouts for different screen sizes. So let's get started.
For the start let's make sure we have everything we need for our little journey into programming.
Software Installation and set up for Android Development
(find step by step instructions on http://chicago-gtug.com supported by ChicagoAndroid.com)
- Install a development environment. On the Android platform most of the native apps are developed in Eclipse IDE
- In order to be able to import projects from the team's repository and to be able to share your changes in the code you need to install Install SVN plugin - Subclipse. (video by Uki D. Lucas http://youtu.be/pVBXfjc7QV4)
- install Android Development Tools (ADT) plugin. (video by Uki D. Lucas http://youtu.be/0JhkL8QhWBU)
- install Android SDK.
- Android SDK and AVD Manager - updates - as for updates, you will see plenty, you will never go wrong by installing all of them
- Create a virtual device - AVD - the virtual devices are very annoying and they load forever but they are very useful especially for testing your designs on various screen sizes.
Ever popular, cute cats that sing, zombie booths, mindless attention grabbers, full of glitter -- there is a constant flow of products designed to amuse you, to make you want to get them now, instant gratification candies. They don't serve any particular need, more or less like glass beads in colonization era, they offer a cheap thrill for few minutes, maybe weeks if you are a rare person on inflicted with ADD, than they are left unused for what they really are, rubbish.
Whole industries work hard to create a products that are meant to be replaced as soon as the next wave of fad arrives.
On the other side of the spectrum are the products that are beautifully designed, fulfilling their purpose for a need that is long lasting and deeply entrenched in our psychology. These are like classic cars with are as pleasing today as they were in their heyday, there are like beautiful houses, scuptures and master crasftsmen furniture, or small items like a pocket knife, or a fountain pen. Things you cherish and use, and keep on using for generations.
Sometimes, it is important for us, designers of modern products to go back and think - do I provide a lasting value?
The full-size, mobile safe, site would work quite nice on the tablet, especially with ability to pinch and pan to get to the particular section.
Going a step further, which is actually not that much extra work, is to provide the comfortable experience taking advantage of the vaste real estate of the tablet.
The other day I was comparing Android Gmail applications between 4, 7, and 10 inch screens. The 10 inch was done in nice 2 column layout with small fonts which made easy to view my email content. The 7 inch was nothing, but blown up small phone app, with huge fonts as if Google was assuming all Galaxy Tab 7 users were vision impaired.
The small screen Gmail app wasted a lot of screen with big buttons in editing mode, buttons that should have been in menu with better, more beautiful iconography, I am sure users would learn to press menu really quickly.
Even the Blogger app I am using now has several buttons that take screen space. I assume that Blogger app is used very frequently, so it should be designed for frequent users, too.
I tried voice commands for a while but honestly I never liked the idea -- it annoys people around you, and it is as difficult as selecting by hand while driving - which of course I never do.
More and more manufactures are not including the physical SEARCH button, and it looks like Google gave up on the idea in apps like Market where the search magnifying-glass icon is prominently on top. Also, the Android 3+ tablets are missing all the physical buttons, which I personally miss a lot. Samsung Galaxy 7 tablet has all 4 buttons, but Galaxy 10.1 already does not have any.
I think as the voice recognition improves the button may come back, but for now only simple commands work and Google Voice mailbox is sometimes comical, everyone call me and says "Hello Auntie!"
Having over a dozen apps out on the market, we noticed that every time we release an update, we have a spike in downloads. The reason is that, when publishing an update, the app market gives you a bust of ranking so you get more often in the search results and may be listed on the first page of rating within the category in which your app belongs to. In addition, surprising users with improvements (hopefully), either its some new features or a holiday re-skining of the UI, works as a gentle reminder and can increase the number of active users which is very important..
Another observation, more obvious this time, is that people tend to download and explore new apps on weekends.
Here is an example of the downloads statistics on ChildrenTV, on the right side you see the number of downloads on the left I showed the weekend days.
Another advise would be - Know your users.
Try to analyze and put yourself in your user's shoes. Imagine his life cycle and try to understand at what point you (your app) can be useful. When is your user more willing to use your product.
Here is an example from the same app, Children TV. Take a guess which is the reason of a massive increase in downloads on this statistics.
If you pay attention to the dates you will see that on vacation the downloads are considerably higher, parents are happy to get their kids busy, kids are happy to watch their favorite cartoons. Boom, mission accomplished.
I will keep updating this article as I notice new external factors influencing downloads, full moon for example :).
First of all UI is much more sharp and pleasant. In the old version we had 2 buttons doubling themselves like call and contacts which were opening the same functionality, just different tabs:
The last OS update has a much better UX, where the "Apps" is mandatory, and you can add another 3 apps on your choice, either its a call button or your favorite mobile games.
Another nice touch is that you can set and choose profiles, so for the week days you set all you need for work like calendars, TODO apps, sticky notes etc., whereas on weekends you can set home profile or create a Sunday one and choose your sailing, hiking restaurants apps on the home screen.
On the Application screen, the new system displays the market icon and provides a wide range of options on the long press like: add to home, add to group, share, uninstall. Another big improvement concerning app management is that now you can check to allow installation of non-market applications, a restriction that created a lot of trouble for mobile developers before, for me as well.
As minor minuses I would list for now a less recognizable and less attractive icons for browser, camera, voice commands and the worse one - text messaging
I keep discovering my new phone OS and I love it. Now I really feel that I am the OWNER of this phone and not the carrier.
On the collaboration site you post screenshots of the newest versions and graphical assets for the next iterations of the product. Also, you include the documentation, use cases and problem descriptions.
- you can store hundreds of books. You can read more books at a time and don't have to carry a back-pack for this
- you can make notes, selections and share the best quotes with friends.
- you can look up for unknown words in the dictionary or internet if available.
- you can read as well as write book reviews
- you can load and read *.pdf files.
- you can adjust the reader to different light conditions
- you can become your own author, as publishing yours thought, poetry or even recipe book is relatively simple
- by choosing eBook reader over paper book you contribute improving or at least sparing our ecology as publishing industry is very polluting.
- considering that this technology is relatively new, not all the books have been converted to eBooks yet, especially old editions.
- even if you can read for weeks on a battery charge you still have to take care to charge your eBook reader (an often issue for me).
Secondly, the pair, when indoctrinated well cuts much less corners and the product quality increases.
Thirdly, when you loose a developer, and it is not always by "got hit by a bus" but sometimes a happy "got married and went for a honeymoon", then the other developer understands nuances of the project and can continue.
Finally, when you have a nice team, it is simply more fun to get together and solve the problems.
I have build very smart and effective teams in the past composed of senior and very junior members that did great work, enjoyed coming to work and did tours on local microbreweries together -- now, that is priceless.
Not all people like to work in pairs, my answer to that is, try to build teams composed of people who do. You will not regret loosing one loner mad scientist whose work might worked brilliantly, but whose code had to be re-writen anyway once he left.
Talking from experience. Good programers like to share and have fun while doing an awesome job.
When you hire different people to do a project for you, make sure they literally work together. Throwing the work over-the-fence always results in a mediocre product. Let me exlain.
You hire the best design team and they indeed do a stellar work. You are happy so you give the designs to some brilliant development team. They start working with the design and realize that you are missing the crucial data to fillout parts of the design, now the product is not as good. To make things worse you start testing the app and learn that the customer interaction flows are slightly different then envisioned which is always the case as customers are not able to tell you what the like and dislike before they see and touch it. Your development team is pressed by the timeline, no desinger around, so they photo-chop the original desing to fit the new needs. The monster is born with the intention of fixing it later. Fixing it later never happens.
Get design and technology people in the same room from beginning to the end of the development, or fail.