Category Archives: Android

I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

I hope that you had a Merry Christmas (if you celebrate). Our home just received a new influx of gadgets – our four-year-old daughter received a Nook HD – mainly for books that can read to her and my wife can also record her voice and have that read along with her as well. It’s pretty cute. In terms of hardware, it’s okay. The operating system is pretty smelly, but it’s a cheap device – hence the cheap (free) OS on it. The case we got for it is very nice however. :-) To be honest, this Nook is WAY better than my wife’s abandoned Kindle Fire. Yes, we have a lot of devices in this house… way too many. The Android on the Fire is utter shit. At least the version on the Nook is better in my opinion. Still not great, but better.

I received an iPad mini and the thing rocks hard. It’s superior to the Nook, but our daughter isn’t getting an iPad just yet. We have so much Apple in this house; the only thing missing really is wallpaper and framed photographs of Jony and the Steves. I gave away my iPad to someone who will use it now that I have the mini. I am happy about that. Apple eco-system is complete. Awaiting an upgraded Apple TV or set proper. However that works out.

The Mobile Book by Smashing Magazine

The ePub version – glorious.

Smashing Magazine has produced a really amazing read: The Mobile Book. While I generally look past books on mobile topics because the mobile space is one that moves and gyrates so frequently and with such large, unpredictable steps. I usually opt to read blog posts on technology/design related sites.

Continue reading

Android hardware. It’s difficult to pay attention.

There are so many Android phones. Some support this, other support that. Some run this X version of Android, some can’t, some aren’t allowed to. Some come skinned, some don’t. There are tablets and now there are phablets. So many look like Apple hardware or are trying to that it’s hard to distinguish them. It’s a mess and it’s a lot of work to keep paying attention to the landscape of it all. It’s the visual of the running conveyor belt of crap and the worker at the end can’t keep up. It all ends up on the floor. Perhaps this will change some day. And I still need to generically develop for Android.

Not adding fuel to the Flash fire

Image of tree branches

I’m not going to add any flames or speculation for what the recent choices Adobe has made in regards to mobile Flash, Flex, AIR, or JavaScript/HTML5. There is already plenty of that out there and it’s hard to know what is FUD, what the Adobe FAQ answers truly mean moving forward, or if some people just like taking shots at Flash because they think it sucks. Go read that at your leisure and make of it what you will.

If you’re at all concerned with Flash falling by the wayside, you have a few options that I can think of

 

  • Hope that nothing changes for you and you can keep putting Flash-assisted cash in your bank account. Assume that nothing is changing or that it won’t affect you.
  • Start to learn some JavaScript techniques and general HTML5 approaches to make up for any Flash application drop off. Start branching your toolbox just a little bit in case a client starts harping about HTML5 because it’s in the news more lately.
  • Start jamming on AIR for Android and iOS so you can offer something up to those platforms in a round-about way without committing to hunkering down and learning totally new stuff.
  • Start jamming on Android Java and iOS Objective-C so you can offer up some native goodness to those platforms. Leave the optimization headaches and late-adopter OS-version capabilities to other developers.

I am always in favor of rounding out your capabilities as broadly as you can. Push yourself a bit more. Flash has been a mainstay technology for a great many of us for quite a long time. Some of us got our start and remain profitable (employable) being one-trick Flash ponies. Some of us have branched out and used Flash as a springboard to other languages and platforms.

Things change in this technology field, and you have to be open to that change if you want to stay on top of the game. And remain in high demand. It’s my personal belief that if you haven’t started to branch out yet because you’ve got AS3 nailed and you love it, I’d suggest you start branching now. It will only help you as a developer anyway… when you pick up bits of other languages you’ll improve all around in how you approach coding projects in any language. You’ll start to think more broadly about what you’re doing.

I’ve been tooling with Android and iOS (both natively) for some time now and I can almost pump out apps in the same amount of time that they took in AS3/Flex. So now I can offer native Android, native iOS, Mac OS X, Flex, AS3, and AIR as options. I haven’t done the AIR for mobile yet because I don’t like having some magic sauce do magic things underneath me. I do value the superior portability of platform it can bring though.

Once you branch you’ll see how similar many languages are to one another. Same ideas just different syntax and approaches – so having AS3 under your belt will get you a jump start on other languages.

Branch out… it’s a ton of fun!

iOS.Android.WP7 poll results

After having received enough responses to the poll I put up a while ago gauging where readers here were at in regards to iOS(iPhone) versus Android versus WP7, I’ll let you know what I’ve seen so far.

  • Android is the overall preferred platform (41%) compared to iOS (34%) with WP7 at 17% and Other coming in at 7%. I expected Android to be high given the readers here are usually Flash designers and developers and Android makes that possible in a better way than iOS. I was surprised by the WP7 responses, but it’s an interesting UI paradigm for sure.
  • Adoption of the iPhone 4 for Verizon gathered a low response (7%). Most were happy with Android (38%) and were set. Contracts and other considerations probably factor heavily into the question, so perhaps this wasn’t a very good question to have asked.
  • Verizon easily beat the other carriers for signal acquisition. Pricing went to Sprint. Coverage very easily went to Verizon. AT&T and Verizon tied for travelling. Verizon beat Sprint fairly handily for best data plans. We’ll see if that changes :)
  • The iPhone (no surprise) came in with the best apps, best user experience & best accessories. Android came in easily with the best features. WP7 didn’t really factor much in the device/operating system matrix at all.

Interaction design and mobile computing

mobile image

 

There is coming a time when potentially most of those who interact with connected devices will have never owned a traditional personal computer (ie. desktop or even laptop). Trends are already leading this direction.

The future may allow for Flash and HTML 5 or other interactive technologies to exist in order to guide those users through their day-to-day tasks using mobile computing devices. People may soon forget what a cable modem or even what a router is. It’s our job as designers and developers to provide and guide their interactions with application data in interesting and unique ways.

Desktop operating systems are adding more and more “connected” technologies into them because the writing is on the wall. Devices are now out-selling PCs and if they can train users into certain ways of interacting with machines that you find usable and satisfying, you may decide on a new device with their mobile OS for your use.

What will be the fate of the mouse? Will it die? Will keyboards be replaced via listening devices that convert your vocal commands as input? Will devices watch you with their camera(s) (think Kinect+)? What sort of gestures will win and which will lose favor? Will the desktop die a slow and painful death, or will it hang around for certain applications?

There is a lot of really interesting technological things going on, even in this rotten economy. There is this notion of a Flash versus HTML 5 battle being waged… and for now there does seem to be a battle, but only by large companies fighting for mindshare. In the end, whatever works best for users will matter. It is for this reason I feel that Flash and different but related technologies will co-exist until eventually one of them dies out in favor of the other. Who is to say something brand new won’t replace both options?

It’s amazing to think about legions of people going through their daily lives who will never own a traditional PC or use home WIFI in their lives. It is happening now. As time marches on, it will continue to happen to larger counts of people. Users. Clients. Try to keep all of this in mind when you are deciding on what next to pursue in your profession. Just keep an eye on the user experience and how less mouse-driven it’s all becoming. It’s about touch, gestures, surfaces, movements, frameworks, memory, media, and of course hardware.

These are exciting times we find ourselves living in. I am happy to be around while all of this takes place and while I am able to interact with and perhaps even drive a little tiny bit of it one way or the other. I won’t call this a rant… I choose to call it my 10 minutes of positive and dreaming blog authoring.

Is WP7 gaining traction?

It’s been reported that Microsoft says 93% of WP7 customers are satisfied with their device and that 90% would recommend the platform to others. No specific details were given in regards to how those numbers were ascertained, but those sound like decent numbers coming so late (with something decent) to the mobile arena.

Those numbers do not match up with the poll that I posted recently, but I don’t get oodles of tech traffic compared to the probable data set Microsoft evaluated. I’ve gotten one poll that has responded with WP7 details (very positive) out of over 25 I have received.

The report from Microsoft also states that an average of 100 new apps hit the Marketplace every day, placing them over 6,500 applications. That’s pretty decent, and I’m sure it will grow at a quicker rate than it stands today. It pales in the face of the App Store for iOS, but let’s give things a little time. For how late they are coming around with these things, there is room to be hopeful.

Over 2,000,000 licenses sold to OEMs around the world. That means nothing to mean and is probably crypto-speak trying to hide their true sales numbers. License to OEMs doesn’t mean devices activated in people’s hands. I haven’t played with WP7 yet. The UI is intriguing to me for one simple reason: it brings social networking to the face. I’ve seen Android stuff that does similar things and it’s very compelling.

The allure of social networking for the lazy

When you have an iPhone, you have tiled groups or applications to look at. Simple but not immediately compelling. I’m lazy… I don’t want to have to launch my Twitter app and then my Facebook app and then flip between them just to see what new things are going on in my social spider web. WP7 brings that stuff front and center. I like that a lot.

iOS notifications aren’t as clever as Android. I haven’t seen them for WP7 yet. I haven’t decided on Android or iOS at this point… and I am not willing to hitch any cash to WP7 just yet.  My decision will all swing on if/when the iPhone 5 becomes available. I am a current Verizon customer and I am very happy with their service.

If Verizon’s iPhone 5 can do data/voice at the same time, that will put me over the top. If there are honestly compelling features of iPhone 5, that will sway me away from Android. I’m not 100% sold on Android either, leaving a 10% chance that I might consider WP7. Being a heavy Mac user, I don’t even know if that 10% should rather be demoted since I’d guess that WP7 is a gazillion times more friendly for those running Windows PCs.

We’ll see what happens.

The freshness of os and ux

The iPhone is a wonderful bit of technology. When it arrived, it ushered in a new take on what a phone could be. Improving on what was already done and leading the way for what could be.

The iPhone on a Verizon 3G network is currently a reality. An option I have been waiting to go with for over two years. Now that it’s here, I find myself wondering about the freshness and direction of iOS and it’s user experience.

The applications for iOS are superior in my opinion. The ecosystem for iOS is tight (and some argue too closed) and elegant. I’ve become very comfortable with iOS development and much prefer it to Android development.

But it feels stale in comparison to Android. There are some different controls in Android that I haven’t seen in iOS that I enjoy… running on a beefy enough device to make things snappy.

Perhaps it might be due to the fact that because Android is a newer take on what a portable device experience could be, it feels and looks fresher to me. The iOS experience is excellent… but have I seen basically incremental changes to it over time that have grown a bit… boring?

When the XBox 360 changed it’s UI for a more square presentation, I immediately took to it as fresh and different. How much longer do we need to suffer pointless rounded corners? It was cool years ago when it was actually hard to implement.

Now that it’s so easy for designers and developers to deploy, it’s over-used. It looks tired and old. TIghter radius corners or square now look fresh, clean, and organized. Funny how that stuff can come full-circle.

I mention the 360 because they shook things up a bit. I’m not so sure that Apple will do that any time soon. The fact that I can adjust the visual settings for Android allows me to change the feel of the experience. Apple got it right, but allowing some level of customization for such a personal device is something they should tackle. Or else… it starts to feel polished but bland. I want my device to stand out a little bit.

Would I root an Android device? Nope. I wouldn’t jailbreak or root anything to be honest. Do I care about tons of apps on my cell phone? No. A few really useful ones are all I require. Social networking integration is pretty awesome. Weather, time, and all that on a single screen is welcome.

I’m losing sleep on whether to jump on the Verizon iPhone 4 train (either early February or wait until this summer for a new iPhone version), or go with a really sweet Android device instead.

What to do? What to do…

Reader Poll: iOS vs Android vs WP7

I’m curious to view the opinions of the mostly technically savvy readers here in regards to the ever-changing device landscape. I’ve crafted a quick poll to collect your anonymous data to feed the collective’s curiosity and to perhaps sway my thinking regarding which direction I may take in the near future.

What I mean to say bluntly is that I’m on the fence in regards to which device to purchase next and your opinions matter. If you have a minute, please fill out the poll which consists of three easy questions: