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November 25, 2015

MarshallOfSound – Google Play Music Desktop Player


We love Google Play Music given it has excelllent song selection and is relatively cheap. But it still has one big drawback — lack of PC client. Luckily, the community decided to give it an open-source client that will work on Windows machines making it Chrome independent. Definitely a project to try out.

by Tomek Kondrat at November 25, 2015 07:35 AM

Google Says Their AMP Project Should Debut Early 2016

Google Says Their AMP Project Should Debut Early 2016

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and it can be likened to Facebook’s Instant Articles feature. Google initially announced the project last month and today we get some new information about how much progress they have made so far. Along with the number of publishers and advertisers that are on board, we’re told that it should be ready for release “early next year”.

by Doug Lynch at November 25, 2015 07:33 AM

Love Archery? Then you might want to check out Core Archery, now on Google Play

Released by Aleksi Rantonen, Core Archery is a new sim available for Android. They game utilizes a one touch system, where the drawing, aiming, and anchoring of them arm are all accomplished with a single gesture. There are completions among the leader boards, to see who scores the best at the variety of distances within the game.

Core Archery has a total of nine levels to be mastered, and emphasizes the mastery of the drawing-, aiming- and release-techniques through practice. So there is a level of skill you'll need to develop to end up being successful at this game.

Core Archery Features:

- Unique single touch controls
- Realistic archery experience
- 9 levels with lots of challenge
- Smooth 3D graphics
- Ad Sponsored: completely free to play

On a note of interest, I was reading some of the comments for the game in Google Play, and saw that one of the players had unseated the developer as the best archer in a particular distance, and the developer replied back that he'd strive to retake the top spot. I think this speaks well of the developer for being a good sport at losing the top spot of the game he created, so feel free to take him on. Your very well could achieve top spot.

 Core Archery is available for download off of Google Play for free with ads supporting the game. You can get rid of the ads through a single IAP for $1.10. You can check out the game in action with the trailer below.

November 25, 2015 03:37 AM

DroidGamers Daily Deals: Unity3D Game Developer Course Bundle for 91% off

It's time for another DroidGamers Deal and this time it is for another development bundle. This particular bundle is another Unity3D game development bundle that comes with seven different courses to work your way through, all of which is geared towards developing games for multiple platforms including mobile.

This particular deal is the same one that we featured back in the beginning of November for a couple of days. Well it is back for those of you who missed getting it back then, now is another chance to take advantage of this deal. This bundle goes over everything from making your FPS game with Unity3D and Playmaker, to a few different courses on making mobile games as well. In total there is over 40 hours on training and content to go through.

If you have purchased some of the other bundles in the past, combining those with this one will give you a lot of material to learn, not just with mobile game development but with game development as a whole. Usually all of this put together costs $573 but for the next 24 hours it will be on sale for 91% off, which means it will only cost $49 instead. You can check out more detailed information about each course within this bundle over at the bundle's listing on our store.

DroidGamers Deals: Unity3D Game Development Bundle

November 25, 2015 02:48 AM

November 24, 2015

Tech Table: Connected Kitchen

Our Tech Table panelists sit down with John Kestner of Supermechanical to talk about all things connected kitchen. They’ll cover smart appliances, software requirements, refillment services, and every other ingredient we’ll need to bring the IoT to our kitchens. Bon Apetit.


Player not loading? Listen from Soundcloud.

Show Notes

  • 00:57 – Who is Supermechanical?
  • 02:22 – What’s cooking in the connected kitchen?
  • 04:00 – Friction points with kitchen apps
  • 05:04 – Smart Kitchen Summit Recap
  • 07:45 – Chaos of Best Buy’s IoT section
  • 09:30 – Who’s currently winning the connected home?
  • 12:03 – The perfect smart kitchen
  • 15:56 – What is a smart fridge?
  • 19:49 – Smart ovens
  • 23:13 – Smart refillment services
  • 26:31 – What do smart kitchens look like in 2016?


Tech Table is where we throw Android, iOS, and Web experts into a room and lock the doors until we’ve recorded a rigorous discussion about the latest and greatest technological innovations. If you’re looking for passionate discourses regarding smartphones, wearables, and emerging tech that hasn’t even been conceived yet, take a seat and listen to our panelists verbally duke it out in hi-fi sound.

You can subscribe to our podcast RSS feed here or via FeedBurner.

The post Tech Table: Connected Kitchen appeared first on Mutual Mobile.

by Tech Table at November 24, 2015 07:15 PM

SecurityExceptions, Runtime Permissions, and "Reset app preferences"

Maksim Dmitriev, in a Stack Overflow question, pointed out an obscure but unpleasant bug in Android 6.0 and its runtime permission system.

Most of the time, you will handle permissions yourself within your app: you call requestPermissions(), dialogs appear, users grant permissions, and everyone walks away happy.

Users can go into Settings > Apps > (your app name) > Permissions and revoke permissions that the user previously granted. However, when this happens, Android terminates your process. This will force you to call checkSelfPermission() again, when your code next runs, and you will find out about the lost permission.

However, there is also Settings > Apps > “Reset app preferences”, where “Reset app preferences” is found in the action bar overflow. Tapping that brings up a dialog that tells the user about wide-ranging effects of resetting app preferences, such as re-enabling disabled apps. One of those effects is to revoke all granted permissions. If the user proceeds with the operation, your app loses its permissions.

However, in this case, Android does not terminate your process.

As a result, if you call some protected method after “Reset app preferences”, relying on some previous call to checkSelfPermission(), you will fail with a SecurityException or similar sort of error.

This is not good.

The one saving grace is that “Reset app preferences” is obscure and comes with a fairly scary-looking warning dialog. Few, if any, of your users will elect to reset those preferences. And, while Android will not terminate your process due to those reset permissions, it’s entirely possible that your process will die of “natural causes” while it is in the background anyway.

Personally, while this particular problem should be addressed in Android, it’s not the sort of thing that will keep me awake nights worrying about at the SDK level. However, it is something you should keep in the back of your mind.

If you really want to try to minimize the risk, use checkSelfPermission() at two levels in your app:

  1. Check if you hold the permission at the point in time where you would need to call requestPermissions() to get the permission from the user. This could be anywhere from on first run of your app to when the user taps some action bar item that triggers work that will need a dangerous permission.

  2. Check right before you call APIs that require that dangerous permission. Or, wrap those APIs in try/catch blocks to catch SecurityException, though it’s not guaranteed that SecurityException will be the specific exception thrown from all such APIs. In these cases, you know that your permission was revoked behind your back, and you can treat it as you would other sorts of error cases (e.g., IOException when you can’t reach the REST server) that your app encounters.

by Mark Murphy at November 24, 2015 06:20 PM

November 23, 2015

iOS Bug Fixing: Getting Rid of Programming Pests


Developers make great software for us to use and enjoy. Line by line, they craft a growing product with tons of new and exciting features. Unfortunately, something else is hiding in all those lines of code, something we don’t enjoy as much: Bugs. Here’s a quick guide to how we go about iOS bug fixing.

Bugs in software are flaws that can cause unexpected behavior or even errors and application crashes. Bugs can destroy a product if they are not fixed before releasing. They break the user experience and can even make a user stop using a product or in the worst case, even incentivize other users to stop using the product by spreading bad reviews.

As a developer, our goal is to release a product with all the expected features with the minimum number of bugs as possible. There are three steps to remove bugs from software: Detect, Reproduce and Fix.

Step One: Detect

Identifying a bug is not as simple as one would think. Most of the bugs are not visible at plain sight and require careful testing and observation. A Quality Assurance (QA) team usually help identify incorrect behavior, missing functionality and bugs. They can help by creating tickets on the discovered issues that usually include description and reproduction steps.

Common places for bugs are:

  • Third-party frameworks
  • Untested code
  • Complex logic

Step Two: Reproduce

If you are lucky enough to have a ticket with reproduction steps, you are done for this step and can continue to Fix it. If the ticket doesn’t include reproduction steps, you are in for a nice challenge. It is time for what I call: Detective mode.

Understanding the problem is the main objective. Know why it’s happening and you can head in the right direction and fix it.

  • Get as much information as you can from the person who identified the problem
  • Check for related issues
  • Debug the code
  • Return to a previous version of the code and check for differences

An important thing to mention is that without reproduction steps one should not attempt to fix a bug. It is tempting to do some work related to the issue, but if you don’t have the correct reproduction steps it will be impossible to verify the fix.

No reproduction steps = Do not attempt to fix

Obtaining reproduction steps can be very challenging, but knowing tools and where to start can make a difference in both time and quality. The next tips are exemplified using iOS but they can be applied to other platforms.

Fake it

A complex issue is usually caused by a single condition that went wrong and crashed the application. Just like a snowball that became an avalanche. While it may not be easy to reproduce a bug as a user, as a developer you can make changes on individual pieces of code to modify a value when the application is running and force the issue to appear.

For example, a crash could only happen if a value is outside a certain range. Change the value and observe if that triggers the problem. Once it is reproduced artificially, it will be easier to check where as a user you can create that same problem.

In Xcode the debugger uses LLDB which allows changing values in real-time.


Another alternative is to change values using breakpoints by adding a Debugger Command


By using breakpoints you can run a debugger command multiple times without having to stop to change your values and speed up the whole process.


Use older devices

It is not uncommon to have everything work perfectly in the latest hardware and operating system, but fail in older devices. In iOS, older models run slower and animations and actions can perform slower. In the latest OS, a user may not be able to press a button repeated times, but with an older model it may take longer to complete an operation and it could be possible.

Musical debugging

Printing output to the console is the usual way to get information, but what if you are running a real-time application that dumps thousands of lines. Use breakpoints instead and assign a sound. You can even assign different sounds to each breakpoint and check the Automatically continue option.


It is incredibly helpful for tracking connections/disconnections or methods that should only be called once. If you hear the frog twice, you know the problem.

The Anchor

With a complex codebase you may sometimes find conditions that should never happen, but if they do, it could lead you to failure. Drop a breakpoint in the problematic condition and if it is triggered, you will hit the breakpoint and will have a stack trace to follow and possibly fix.

Increasing output speed

Once I worked with an audio real-time application and having breakpoints was not an option. Using NSLogs for output was also causing problems and the solution was the old printf. It has almost the same printing capabilities, but is much faster.


Exception breakpoint

This is the one breakpoint I run with about 99% of the time. When debugging, it will force you to stop the app at the exact time you crashed, and it will give you a chance to check the stack trace and view the state of the program.


Step Three: Fix

Having the correct reproduction steps are most of the challenge. You can now go into the code section that is causing the problem and fix it. Use your reproduction steps to verify that after the change, the bug no longer happens.

Final Recommendations

While coding without introducing bugs is complicated, it is possible to reduce their quantity and complexity.

Unit tests

The best way to avoid bugs is to create unit tests at least for the most complex pieces with failing and success cases. By having unit tests once you get the reproduction steps, you can modify your unit tests to handle the problematic case. Your unit tests will become more robust each time.

Smart people make smart bugs

Don’t be too clever when coding. Writing code is a lot easier than reading something you or someone else wrote several weeks ago. Give descriptive names to variables and methods. Add comments when required. Add code reviews to your development process and if something is not clear to the reviewer, improve it.

The post iOS Bug Fixing: Getting Rid of Programming Pests appeared first on Mutual Mobile.

by Mutual Mobile at November 23, 2015 07:49 PM

Android Studio 2.0 Preview

Posted by, Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

One the most requested features we receive is to make app builds and deployment faster in Android Studio. Today at the Android Developer Summit, we’re announcing a preview of Android Studio 2.0 featuring Instant Run that will dramatically improve your development workflow. With Android Studio 2.0, we are also including a preview of a new GPU Profiler.

All these updates are available now in the canary release channel, so we can get your feedback. Since this initial release is a preview, you may want to download and run an additional copy of Android Studio in parallel with your current version.

New Features in Android Studio 2.0

Instant Run: Faster Build & Deploy

Android Studio’s instant run feature allows you to to quickly see your changes running on your device or emulator.

Getting started is easy. If you create a new project with Android Studio 2.0 then your projects are already setup. If you have a pre-existing app open Settings/Preferences, the go to Build, Execution, Deployment → Instant Run. Click on Enable Instant Run... This will ensure you have the correct gradle plugin for your project to work with Instant Run.

Enable Instant Run for Android Studio projects

Select Run as normal and Android Studio will perform normal compilation, packaging and install steps and run your app on your device or emulator. After you make edits to your source code or resources, pressing Run again will deploy your changes directly into the running app.

New Run & Stop Actions in Android Studio for Instant Run

For a more detailed guide setup and try Instant Run, click here.

GPU Profiler

Profiling your OpenGL ES Android code is now even easier with the GPU Profiler in Android Studio. The tool is in early preview, but is very powerful and not only shows details about the GL State and Commands, you can record entire sessions and walk through the GL Framebuffer and Textures as your app is running OpenGL ES Code.

Android Studio GPU Profiler

To get started, first download the GPU Debugging Tools package from the Android Studio SDK Manager. Click here for more details about the GPU Profiler tool and how to set up your Android app project for profiling.

Whats Next

This is just a taste of some of the bigger updates in this latest release of Android Studio. We'll be going through the full release in more detail at the Android Developer Summit (livestreamed on Monday and Tuesday). Over the next few weeks, we'll be showing how to take advantage of even more features in Android Studio 2.0, so be sure to check back in.

If you're interested in more Android deep technical content, we will be streaming over 16 hours of content from the inaugural Android Developer Summit over the next two days, and together with Codelabs, all of this content will be available online after the Summit concludes.

Android Studio 2.0 is available today on the Android Studio canary channel. Let us know what you think of these new features by connecting with the Android Studio development team on Google+.

by Reto Meier ( at November 23, 2015 04:00 PM

November 22, 2015

Download Galaxy Note 5 ROM for Tab 3 P5200

The post Download Galaxy Note 5 ROM for Tab 3 P5200 appeared first on galaxytabreview.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is the phablet flagship from Korean giant and folks at XDA developers have ported it for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 P5200 android tablet. To flash this Galaxy Note 5 ROM on the Tab 3, you will need latest version of TWRP and make you backup your data before flashing it. […]

by Galaxy Tab Review at November 22, 2015 10:58 AM

Latest Tab 3 10.1 P5200 TWRP Custom Recovery

The post Latest Tab 3 10.1 P5200 TWRP Custom Recovery appeared first on galaxytabreview.

For flashing custom firmwares a k a ROMs on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 P5200 model, you will need TWRP which is a type of custom recovery. To flash this recovery, you will need ODIN application on your desktop computer, downloadable from links given below. Flashing process is very simple, select the TWRP file […]

by Galaxy Tab Review at November 22, 2015 10:57 AM

November 19, 2015

Android Studio 1.5

Posted by, Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Android Studio 1.5 is now available in the stable release channel. The latest release is focused on delivering more stability, with most of the enhancements being made under the hood (along with addressing several bugs).

Some of the specific bug fixes, include the ability to use short names when code-completing custom views.

In addition to the stability improvements and bug fixes, we’ve added a new feature to the memory profiler. It can now assist you in detecting some of the most commonly known causes of leaked activities.

There are also several new lint checks. Here's one below which warns you if you are attempting to override resources referenced from the manifest.

If you’re already using Android Studio, you can check for updates from the navigation menu (Help → Check for Update [Windows/Linux] , Android Studio → Check for Updates [OS X]). For new users, you can learn more about Android Studio, or download the stable version from the Android Studio site.

As always, we welcome your feedback on how we can help you. You can also connect with the Android developer tools team via Google+. And don’t worry about what’s in the box from the video. It’s nothing. Really. Forget I mentioned it.

by Reto Meier ( at November 19, 2015 06:14 PM

Why The Play Store Thinks Your App Has Ads... When It Doesn't

The Play Store is rolling out mandatory declarations of whether or not your app has ads. As part of this, they are running some automatic ad-SDK detection algorithms on your app. According to this Stack Overflow question, those algorithms may be a bit over-aggressive, reporting that you have AdMob when you are not using AdMob.

As a tiger-striped rabbit named Tanis.7x points out in an answer, the problem in this case comes from Play Services and transitive dependencies.

If your app depends upon, you are pulling in vast swaths of the Play Services SDK, including play-services-ads, the portion of the SDK that ties into AdMob. Switching to more granular dependencies may help here. In the case of the person who wrote the original Stack Overflow question, they really only needed play-services-maps, and by switching to depend upon that instead of play-services, the AdMob detection problem cleared up.

However, bear in mind that even some finer-grained Play Services artifacts will depend on play-services-ads. play-services-all-wear definitely depends upon play-services-ads. Tanis.7x reports that play-services-analytics depends upon play-services-ads, though that seems to be limited to version 8.1.0. Others may crop up in the future.

(and if you think that play-services-analytics case was just some random bug, play-services-location even today depends upon play-services-maps, which is a clear case of the tail wagging the dog)

It is also possible that the right ProGuard and other minification settings for your release build would help here, as perhaps something is being left behind that the Play Store algorithm is detecting. Alas, we have no great way of telling exactly what the Play Store is looking for.

Another Stack Overflow user, in a separate answer on the question, indicates that Play Store support staff said to leave the ads switch on “no”, despite the detected SDK. That makes sense, as you are declaring whether your app shows ads, not whether your app has code that might relate to ads. However, I still encourage you to try to clean this up, as future automated takedowns might sweep up your app, if they don’t improve their algorithms by then.

by Mark Murphy at November 19, 2015 01:20 PM

November 15, 2015

Fix to Double Star, Level 6

The latest update of Double Star fixes Level 6. For fun, for those of you who already finished that level, you might want to go back and try again. You can get to some of the alien starships, but not all of them. So you have that to figure out. And watch out if the tractor beam gets you and pulls you into the the cluster of alien ships. Certain death awaits. Continue reading

by Bill Lahti at November 15, 2015 05:19 PM

November 06, 2015

Fully automated wireless timing system using Android

Check out the new video for Wylas Timing. Doesn't it just eek the pared down Android form factor. Commodity hardware delivering superior and affordable functionality. All through the power of software delivered on an open framework like Android.

This is where mankind is getting great value for dollar now. Well considered open systems that provide clear integration points for others to connect to and build on top of. Reinventing the wheel each time is a sure road to obsolescence.

If you are associated with a swimming or athletics club you can sign up for a free trial at

by William Ferguson ( at November 06, 2015 12:27 AM

November 05, 2015

Android Example of a Zoomable Game Board

In this article, I describe how I built a simple game board in Android. The sample app shows a grid of squares that represents a game board. The squares on the game board come from an array of image tiles. The grid can be zoomed in or out and moved. Touch events are triggered when squares are touched. Regular and long press are handled. With this sample as a starting point, it should be easy to build a game that uses a board of squares. Continue reading

by Bill Lahti at November 05, 2015 08:34 PM

October 29, 2015

Measuring Activity Startup Time

In recent talks I've given, as well as the Developing for Android series, I talk about the need to launch quickly, and about how to ensure that you're testing the right launch speed (cold start, like after reboot and (mostly) after killing a task, vs. warm start, which is way faster because the activity just has to be brought to the foreground).

Then someone asked me, quite reasonably, "So how do I get my app's launch time?"

Then I paused and wondered the same thing...

Whenever I've done this kind of benchmarking on framework code, I've had the ability to instrument exactly the bits I needed to. But how can non-framework developers get the information they need from just running the normal build?

Fortunately, this information exists, and has since API 19. So if you're running on any release later than 4.4 (Kitkat), you should be set.

All you have to do is launch your activity and look in logcat for something like this:

ActivityManager: Displayed +768ms

This information is output whenever an activity window is first drawn, after it goes through all of the startup stuff. This time includes the entire time that it took to launch the process, until the application ran layout and drew for the first time. This is basically the main information you need. It doesn't include the amount of time it took between the user clicking your app icon and the system getting ready to launch your activity, which is fine, because you cannot (as an app developer) affect that time, so there's no need to measure it. Instead, it includes all of the time it took to load your code, initialize your classes that are used at start time, run layout, and draw your app that first time. All of which is really what you want to measure, because that's what you can and should try to optimize.

There's an additional option to be aware of. The 'Displayed' time is automatically reported, to give you a quick measure of how long that initial launch took. But what if you are also loading in some other content asynchronously and want to know how long it took for everything to be loaded, drawn, and ready to go? In that case, you'll want to additionally call Activity.onReportFullyDrawn(), which will then report, in the log, the time between that initial apk start (the same time as that used for the Displayed time) and the time when you call the reportFullyDrawn() method. This secondary time is a superset of the initial one (assuming you call it after the initial launch time, which is preferred), giving you the additional information about how long it took to do everything, including the follow-on work after the app was first displayed.

There is another way of measuring startup time which is worth mentioning for completeness, especially since it uses my favorite device tool, screenrecord. This technique involves recording the entire experience of tapping on your app's icon to launch it and waiting until your app window is up and ready to go.

First, start screenrecord with the --bugreport option (which adds timestamps to the frames - this was a feature added in L. I think):
$ adb shell screenrecord --bugreport /sdcard/launch.mp4

Then tap your app icon, wait until your app is displayed, ctrl-C screenrecord, and pull the file up onto your host system with adb pull:
$ adb pull /sdcard/launch.mp4

Now you can open the resulting video and see what's happening when. To do this effectively, you'll need to have a video player that allows you to step frame-by-frame (Quicktime does this, not sure what the best player with this feature is on other OSs). Now step through the frames, noticing that there's a frame timestamp at the top of the video window.

Step forward until you see the app icon highlighted - this happens after the system has processed the click event on the icon and has started to launch the app. Note the frame time when this happened. Now frame-step forward until you see the first frame that your application's full UI begins to be visible. Depending on your launch experience (whether you have a starting window, a splash screen, etc.), the exact sequence of events and windows may vary. For a simple application you'll see the starting window come up first, then a cross-fade with the real UI in your application when it's ready. You want to note the first frame where you see any of the real UI content of your app. This happens when your app has finished layout and drawn itself, and is now ready to be shown. Note the time at this frame as well.

Now subtract the two times ((UI displayed) - (icon tapped)); this is the full time that it took for your app to go all the way from the initial user tap to being drawn and ready. It is a superset of the "Displayed" log described above, since it includes time before the process launches and after that first rendering (when the system starts the cross-fade animation), but it is at least something that you can use for comparison purposes with other launches after you make things faster and want to see how much better it is.

As with any performance testing, it's good to try to run your tests in similar situations multiple times (including making sure you're testing 'cold start' as noted above), as various things can happen to vary the results on any one run.

Now that you know how to figure out your launch times, whichever approach you use, go make it faster.

by Chet Haase ( at October 29, 2015 04:45 PM

October 09, 2015

Telecom and the Mobile Movement

It’s not a stretch to say that nearly everyone has a mobile phone today. In the US alone, nearly two-thirds of the population, own a mobile phone going into 2015. In less than five years, this number has jumped from the only thirty-five percent that was reported in 2011. Advances in technology mean that over sixty percent of Americans alone are carrying around as much computing power as the average desktop or laptop in their pockets. So it’s no surprise that technology has shifted gears to ensure that these mobile powerhouses are being put to use not only for the consumer, but for business professionals on the go.


All Shapes and Sizes

Because devices with significant computing power now come in all shapes and sizes, software solutions have to be designed to take advantage of everything from pocket-sized powerhouse cellphones to personal laptops and business desktop computers. Scaling telecommunication apps for desktop computers was a challenge when they first hit the mainstream for personal use, but as more businesses jumped on the teleconferencing, emailing, video conferencing bandwagons, the push to develop newer, better software and hardware to make these innovations better, faster, clearer and more easily accessible also skyrocketed.

Adjusting technology for mobile devices has also become easier as the technology to make smartphones more powerful in a more compact form factor means that more consumers, both professional and personal, are adopting the devices into their lives. As more people choose to carry a smartphone, the options that the telecommunication field offers for getting and staying in touch continue to expand. Not only are voice and email communications easily made with just a few commands, but video calls, Near-Field Communications and Bluetooth offer further accessibility and accessory options to adjust the technology for nearly any user.


Office On The Go

Today, it’s not just a stereotype that business professionals need to always be connected. Time sensitive information, potentially industry shifting emergencies and partnerships that span the globe mean that in order for companies to be at the head of their industries, they must be connected when it counts, instantly. That’s where today’s mobile phones move from just another communications device to a portable all-in-one office, always connected and ready to go.

Being connected can mean the difference between staying ahead of the pack or falling behind. Swiftly changing business markets and challenging competitors mean that a momentary lapse can spell disaster when these markets are already flooded with ideas, products, services and information. As technology becomes smaller, more powerful and battery life continues to expand seemingly indefinitely, more professionals are relying on their instantly connected, easily portable cellphones to provide those connections where a computer would be inconvenient or even impossible to work with.

Mobile operating systems and applications that take advantage of telecom advances have a huge impact on how professionals connect to their work when they aren’t in an office environment and how quickly and easily they can work when not in front of a computer. Apps for video conferencing, file-sharing, collaboration and even advertisement are available by the dozens on mobile operating systems like the Android OS. These apps mimic the accessibility of larger programs meant for laptops and PCs or offer convenient access to office files, contact lists, remote office assistants on the go and more.


Connected Everywhere

The promise of a cellphone is that it will be connected to the internet almost anywhere. When you add in the functionality that today’s smartphones are build with, consumers today are walking around with a promise of not just connection, but communication on a variety of levels. Sending a file by email, where once the possibility was groundbreaking, now seems inconvenient, slow and obsolete when compared to the myriad assortment of video conferencing applications and file sharing servers available on the consumer and business levels.

Being connected everywhere means that the morning commute can also be the morning meeting. Business partners in different time zones have an easier time of being connected when and where is most convenient for their professional and personal lives. Last minute offers, clarifications and meetings to finalize plans can happen whenever and wherever they need to. Business markets don’t and can’t wait for someone to be in the office in today’s age of connectedness and instant gratification, so professionals and consumers alike depend on this technology to keep up with the demand.


Mobility and the App

Operating systems like Android, with its open-source code and multitude of innovative developers have changed the way that not just mobile commuting, but telecommunications are used and accessed in profound ways. These apps have created a level of accessibility for business professionals and consumers that was previously thought impossible, and companies like BlueJeans and other telecom hosting services are developing new protocols all the time to keep telecommunications on the cutting edge of business and personal use.

by Matty Selbst at October 09, 2015 05:56 AM

October 07, 2015

The Rise Of Mobile Gambling

The world’s first online casino was launched in 1996 and mobile gambling wasn’t even a consideration at that point in time. However, mobile gambling has taken the industry by storm in the last several years.

android oneOnce the first iPhone launched in 2007, it created a mobile gambling boom. Online casinos started focusing on developing mobile web-apps and native apps immediately and haven’t stopped since.

The Apple iPad was launched in 2010 and helped contribute to the growth of mobile gambling. Players could now play on bigger screens with touchscreen capabilities, 3D graphics and better technology.

A study in 2010 by Gartner revealed mobile gambling revenues exceeded $4,500,000,000 the year prior (2009) and were forecasted to exceed $5,500,000,000 in 2010. Since then, the industry has seen a huge rise.

It didn’t take long for mobile gambling revenues to nearly double.

According to data presented to us on the RightCasino history of online casinos infographic – $10,000,000,000 was wagered through mobile devices in 2010. Those numbers are small compared to today’s forecasts.

Juniper Research estimates mobile gambling revenues will exceed $40,000,000,000 in 2015.

Growth isn’t expected to stop in the next five years either. As more emerging markets penetrate the market due to the increase in smartphone penetration – mobile gambling revenues are only going to go up.

China and India are two markets mobile gambling operators want to enter in the next five years.

Africa is another relatively untapped market and the continent is already ripe with opportunity. More and more Africans are acquiring smartphones and there are already a lot of mobile payment options in Africa.

Google has estimated roughly 50% of searches are done on a mobile device now.

Websites that aren’t mobile or “responsive” are now encountering lower rankings on major search engines, such as Google. Google announced in 2015 that non-mobile websites would be ranked lower than mobile sites.

Why has mobile gambling seen such a rise in recent years?

Part of the reason is because of international growth in emerging markets where mobile devices are way more prevalent than computers. These new users are coming online through mobile phones and not computers.

Smartphone and tablet usage is also a growing trend in established markets like North America and the UK.

More people are now investing in tablets to use around the house because they’re just as powerful and way less clunky. You can easily use a tablet while laying on the sofa, but that’s not the case with a big laptop.

Apple announced in January 2015 that they sold the billionth iOS device. Recent research has shown that the company is likely to sell the billionth iPhone in Q2 or Q3 2016 as well.

Want to learn more about the rise of mobile gambling, plus information on mobile casinos and games?

Make sure you read this mobile guide by RightCasino – it includes reviews on the top mobile casinos, a list of available mobile games with rules and information on platform compatibility.

Mobile gambling is already worth billions and the industry still has lots of room for growth.

by Matty Selbst at October 07, 2015 05:41 AM

September 19, 2015

Starting with Material Design in Android – Volume 1

1. To create apps with material design:

  • Review the material design specification.
  • Apply the material theme to your app.
  • Create your layouts following material design guidelines.
  • Specify the elevation of your views to cast shadows.
  • Use system widgets for lists and cards.
  • Customize the animations in your app.

2. Apply the Material Theme

To apply the material theme in your app, specify a style that inherits from android:Theme.Material:

<!-- res/values/styles.xml -->
  <!-- your theme inherits from the material theme -->
  <style name="AppTheme" parent="android:Theme.Material">
    <!-- theme customizations -->

Now we will start with a simple application which shows how to apply Elevation to Views and Activity Transitions.

Below is a sample layout.

<RelativeLayout xmlns:android=""
    tools:context="com.coderzheaven.meterialdesigndemo.MainActivity" >

        android:text="Hello" />

        android:text="Click" />


Now we will add this layout to the Activity and apply some transitions.

package com.coderzheaven.meterialdesigndemo;

import android.content.Intent;
import android.os.Bundle;
import android.transition.Explode;
import android.view.View;
import android.view.View.OnClickListener;
import android.widget.Button;

public class MainActivity extends Activity {

	protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

		Button btn = (Button) findViewById(;
		btn.setOnClickListener(new OnClickListener() {

			public void onClick(View v) {

	public void onButtonClicked() {
		getWindow().setExitTransition(new Explode());
		Intent intent = new Intent(this, MainActivity.class);
		startActivity(intent, ActivityOptions.makeSceneTransitionAnimation(this).toBundle());

by James at September 19, 2015 05:09 PM

September 14, 2015

Faster Downlading a file and saving in SDCARD or storage in Android.

Here is a simple and faster way to download a file from the internet in Android.

package com.coderzheaven.downloadfile;


import android.os.Bundle;
import android.os.Environment;
import android.util.Log;

public class MainActivity extends ActionBarActivity {

	protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

		new Thread(new Runnable() {
			public void run() {
				downloadFile("", new File(Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory() + File.separator
						+ "test.png"));


	private static void downloadFile(String url, File outputFile) {
		Log.i("ACT", "Path : " + outputFile.getAbsolutePath());
		try {
			URL u = new URL(url);
			URLConnection conn = u.openConnection();
			int contentLength = conn.getContentLength();

			DataInputStream stream = new DataInputStream(u.openStream());

			byte[] buffer = new byte[contentLength];

			DataOutputStream fos = new DataOutputStream(new FileOutputStream(outputFile));
		} catch (FileNotFoundException e) {
			return; // swallow a 404
		} catch (IOException e) {
			return; // swallow a 404


by James at September 14, 2015 04:52 PM

September 01, 2015

Another Oneplus 2 update rolls out from today

Another Oneplus 2 update rolls out from today

I guess one of the advantages of having a handset made by a company with so few products is that their developers get to spend a whole heap of time fixing any bugs. Today Oneplus have started rolling out a second incremental update for their latest device with a promise of a more substantial update to come mid September.


In OxygenOS 2.0.2, you’ll find the following:

  • Improvements to fingerprint recognition accuracy
  • Resolves a bug that could cause volume to be muted unexpectedly
  • Stability improvements to the front facing camera
  • Camera preview UX improvements

A 2.1 update with more significant improvements is on its way and currently scheduled for mid-September.

As well as today’s update the company has started working through the invite backlog with a bit of vigor this week, with 24 account linked invites hitting ordinary customers emails.

Land of Droid -

by UbuntuBhoy at September 01, 2015 03:15 PM

Kazam Trooper 450L Review

Kazam Trooper 450L Review

The Kazam Trouper 450L is not so much a phone as a package. You don’t buy just a handset, but rather you are buying a service that comes with a handset. I will cover the ins and outs of the service later but for now lets look at the phone.

In the last year or so budget handsets have started to become a real alternative for those not wanting to break the bank on a flagship. No longer are they small slow units that exasperate more than they please. Kazam however have managed to let all that pass over them. To say the Trouper 450L is disappointing would be like saying losing a league title on the last day of the season to your bitterest rivals is only mildly upsetting. The Trouper is like a mid range handset from three years ago, not a device trying to be better than the sum of it’s specification sheet. The main specifications are below and they are as underwhelming in the hand as they are to read.

Specifications aside, how does the Trouper perform?

The Trouper runs a slightly skinned version of AOSP 4.4.4 so isn’t too far behind the curve in that respect, but the skin ‘enhancements’ are very dated looking, making the whole OS look more akin to Ice Cream Sandwich, and even Ginger Bread at times. Pull down the navigation bar and there are quick settings reminiscent of Touch Wiz of old with a sickly green colour by default. The whole effect with the default wallpaper is dull and dank, yet the settings panel is a far more pleasant white and light green, if only they had carried this through to the whole theme. Luckily Android is a versatile beast so by installing your favourite launcher from the Play Store some of these ills can be quickly remedied.

wpid-screenshot_2014-01-01-00-05-20.png wpid-screenshot_2015-07-07-18-46-17.png wpid-screenshot_2015-07-07-18-46-47.png wpid-screenshot_2015-07-07-18-45-57.png wpid-screenshot_2015-07-07-19-01-15.png wpid-screenshot_2015-06-15-18-42-15.png wpid-screenshot_2015-06-15-13-17-59.png wpid-screenshot_2015-07-01-15-16-54.png wpid-screenshot_2015-07-07-19-01-24.png wpid-screenshot_2015-06-29-20-23-39.png wpid-screenshot_2015-06-15-14-08-58.png wpid-screenshot_2015-06-15-12-13-02.png wpid-screenshot_2015-06-15-12-12-55.png

In use you pretty much get what you would expect, a phone that can easily handle everyday tasks like calling, messaging and emailing but takes a little more time with slightly heavier tasks such as web page loading or playing YouTube video. Audio is muted and tinny sounding through the internal speaker and not recommended for more than little snippets. The screen I found to be the biggest disappointment and probably the source of my feeling for the device as a whole. There is little that an average user uses their smartphone for that doesn’t require more than an odd flick or press of the screen, so when it bombs, the phone bombs. The Trouper 450L has a very low resolution for a 5” display, a lot lower than we have become accustomed to. 240 dpi no longer cuts the mustard, and to make things worse I found it to either look washed out, or over saturated. The bottom edge always seemed to look duller than the rest of the screen to me, possibly to do with the way the back lighting is implemented.

Neither the front or back camera’s offer anything to shout about with the paltry 0.3 MP FFC being a step back in time that doesn’t glow with nostalgia. In the modern world of selfies and Snapchat I predict a lot more mirror shots from 450L users. The main camera isn’t as disappointing, with its budget standard 5.0 MP sensor, and shots don’t look too bad when viewed on a device that isn’t the 450L (the screen kills everything), just don’t expect a fast focus or great low light images. Overall the front camera is a waste of time and budget with the rear camera being more than adequate for gran or grandpa to snap the odd shot of little Tim.

wpid-img_20150806_202611.jpg wpid-img_20150701_134823.jpg wpid-img_20150701_135900-nopm-.jpg wpid-img_20150615_161249.jpg wpid-img_20150615_140558-nopm-.jpg wpid-screenshot_2015-07-01-13-57-49.png

Everything about the design of the Kazam is cheap and it shows. The back and sides are encased in a metallic silver piece of plastic that would not look out of place on a pound shop kids toy, but at least it has grip thanks to a slightly ribbed effect. On top sits the audio jack just left of centre, with the USB port slightly to the right of centre on the bottom edge. A Volume rocker slightly protrudes on the upper left leaving the power button to sit alone of the upper right edge, just slightly too high for my thumb to comfortably reach while resting the phone on my pinkie (we all hold phones like that, right?). the front face is all glass with capacitive recent/menu, home and back keys on the bottom and a speaker grill, camera and light sensor at the top. The back cover pops off to give access to the SIM tray, an SD card slot and removable battery. Maybe their will be an option to buy a cover that’s not so cheap looking as well.

wpid-p_20150807_125441.jpg wpid-p_20150807_125556.jpg wpid-p_20150807_125541.jpg wpid-p_20150807_125504.jpg wpid-p_20150807_125518.jpg wpid-p_20150807_125419.jpg wpid-p_20150807_125405.jpg wpid-p_20150807_125521.jpg

Now to part 2 of the Trouper 450L package, the interesting bit. I said earlier that Kazam were not so much selling a phone as giving you a phone and selling you a service, and this is where the package comes into it’s own. Kazam have looked at the Android market and decided that in the UK nobody is catering for the technophobe or the clumsy oaf. We all see HTC offering free screen replacement in the US and ask why we can’t cut the same deal, well Kazam are offering free screen replacement on the 450L for accidental damage within the first year. As standard Kazam offer a 2 year warranty package but this can be extended by another year if the user installs 5 partner apps from the likes of Kindle, Amazon and McAfee (watch out for that last one). But rather than just rest on their laurels with the screen they are also offering technical support as well.

One of the few apps that Kazam have added is the Rescue app, which will allow a Kazam technician to take control of your device and sort any settings that may need adjusted (secured with a 6 digit pin that the user must enter to grant access). Kazam are effectively stepping into the role of the family/friend ‘technical’ person, the poor sod who gets a phone call every time Internet Explorer shows more tool bars than web content. Think of it, no more calls from your mum or dad asking how to change their wallpaper. For those tech savvy folk out their it may seem pointless, but the Trouper 450L isn’t aimed at them, it’s for the grandpa’s and grannies I mentioned earlier who still look for a pull dial on a phone and think a video call is sci-fi fantasy. For them, they just call Kazam and if the technician on the other end needs to change something he takes control of the phone and does what needs doing. Other OEM’s have support apps installed as standard, but none that I have come across offer anything near this level.

The big pity with the Trouper 450L is that Kazam didn’t up the price a little to make the handset a little better. A better screen and a little work on the default theme could make this a cracking package to recommend to it’s target audience but even with the exceptional support I could not, in all honesty tell a family member or friend to buy one. If this is the first step in bring this level of service to more capable units then it will definitely be worth watching.

Land of Droid -

by John McKenzie at September 01, 2015 12:46 PM

August 30, 2015

Fully FINA and US Swimming compliant wireless timing system on Android released by XandarMob

XandarMob have just released Wylas Timing® 1.7.0, their wireless timing system for swimming and athletics and have added the ability to record, display and export split times.

This now brings Wylas Timing into full compliance will all FINA and US Swimming regulations.

If you are looking for an affordable and efficient wireless timing and display system for your swimming or athletics club, then Wylas Timing® is your number one choice.

Full details at Wylas Timing 1.7.0 Release Notes

by William Ferguson ( at August 30, 2015 02:48 PM

August 16, 2015

Large update to Gem Miner 2 arriving tonight

The main features are new levels and the hard difficulty added for the Rainforest expansion.

Complete change list:

  • Added 3 new expeditions
  • Added hard difficulty to Rainforest pack
  • Fixed tech mine freeplay not loading
  • Improved stamina display – it now extends to better indicate additional stamina from upgrades
  • All expedition difficulties are unlocked from start
  • Retouched UI – thinner borders
  • Added a page turn animation in menus
  • Various menu pages rearranged slightly
  • New loading screen
  • Fixed bug where dirt chips from digging would sometimes appear above you
  • Fixed spelling mistake on rainforest level
  • Fixed conversation icon for Jimjam/Tiktok
  • Fixed various bugs in Rainforest level 9 (Lost)
  • Fixed a bug at the end of Rainforest temple 1
  • Fixed lift and crane sound bug in tech mine
  • Fixed bug where mosquitos could be captured
  • Fixed objective sparkles in the wrong place
  • Fixed star overlay in camp menu
  • Ladders now destroy very quickly in lava to encourage walkway use
  • Fixed the ability to destroy the scientist!

by Psym at August 16, 2015 07:12 AM

August 10, 2015

Splash screen with any other name is still a splash screen - and they suck!

For some unfathomable reason Google decided to add Splash Screens to their design guidelines. While they now call it a "Launch screen" it's the same thing. A screen that is shown to the user while the app is loading.

Unsurprisingly, this started a lot of (unhappy) discussion in the Android community. I recently added my opinion as well. In all the discussions there's a common theme. Overwhelming majority of people seems to be against the use of splash screens. Then again truth is not democratic so paying attention to the arguments for usage of splash screen makes sense as well. In almost all of the discussions the same arguments arise. Until now I've not seen a single argument that I'd completely agree with.

As the discussion in G+ has been spread into multiple separate threads already instead of trying to reply to them separately I'm writing my answers to the common arguments here.

Argument: Splash screen is better than staring at an empty screen.
This is one of the most common arguments what I've seen posted in the comments. If your app's landing screen takes a long time to load your app is broken. While arguably Android has become slower over years Activity startup times are still very fast. Inflating the main layout and showing a UI without any dynamic data should be very fast. If that's not the case in your app you should fix it by making it fast to load instead of adding a splash screen that will then guarantee that your app is always launching slow.

We have to remember that mobile apps are used in short bursts. Sometimes a use session might last only for few seconds as user checks something or searches for an answer. If your app uses 3-5 sec to even show a UI to your user you're already wasting user's time.

Argument: Splash screen is better than not having any information if the app is launching other than the launcher button getting pressed.
While technically this argument is true the root cause of the issue is not solved by adding a splash screen. Some apps do indeed take ages to even show up and lock the UI while they're trying to do everything to show user something. These apps need to be fixed! The app is running something in the UI thread that it shouldn't. The app developer needs to take care of the threading to fix the app. "Fixing" it with a splash screen is like adding gaffer tape over a leak hoping it'll go away.

Argument: My app's data takes a long time to load. A splash screen is better than a loading indicator. This especially with slow internet speeds.
This argument is also very common but I feel that there's a fundamental flaw in it. This argument assumes that the users always want to start with the data that is being shown on the app's landing screen.

The reason I argue against splash screens in this case is twofold:

  1. If you show your app's UI to the user first and then load the data into it you allow user to orient to the UI and they're immediately ready to go when the data comes in.
  2. Users don't always want to interact with the data on the app's landing screen. Let the user get on with their task without forcing them to load the first screen's data. This is very important especially on a slow internet connection. Let user interact with your app while the data is loading. In many cases they might not care about the data you're loading by default.

Argument: Splash screen is needed to help brand presence.
If the design can't display the brand without an extra screen the design sucks. You can't rely on a screen that is shown to the user once in the start of an app to convey an important message.

Argument: Splash Screen can be implemented correctly.

I'm saving the big one to the last. This is the argument Google's Dev Advocates keep brining up (I love you guys but in this one, you're wrong).

To me this boils down to three main things:

This is a slippery slope. 
Yep, a slippery slope argument is a logical fallacy. Unfortunately, I believe this being actually a slippery slope in our industry. I've been part of many software teams and seen many from far. The problem is that a lot of uninformed decisions get made in the teams. It is unfortunate situation but happens more often than we'd like to believe that people without knowledge or understanding to make a decision make decisions about things they shouldn't even be part of discussing. Brand design in an app is one of these. A product owner often want the brand more visible without understanding the impact to the users. While they selfishly simply want their logo to be visible everywhere they don't understand the harm they cause to the app's UX this way directly harming the brand image. 

Previously we, as the devs and designers who want to create the best possible app, have had another logical fallacy in our toolbelt to fight this. The Authority Fallacy. We have been able to argue that Google says that splash screens should not be used. That usually convinced these decision makers who would ignore arguments from their own experts. What will happen now? In the same discussion they can pull out any Google app and point to it and say that "Google is doing this, so will we".

The big problems will come once the decision is made and all the sudden there's one extra screen for people to add junk on. Nearly an empty screen to play with. At this point it doesn't matter if we, the devs, start explaining how it is just a theme background image and not an actual screen. The battle is already over. I know this will happen. I've been in these meetings. I've worked with these people. Google has stripped us from our weapons in this battle. 

Dear Google Dev Advocates, you live in a different world than we do... Say hello to ads on splash screens...

Trying to do a splash screen right is like polishing a turd.
The pattern is flawed. Fundamentally flawed. When you premise is wrong it doesn't matter how well you do something it'll still end up being wrong.

Google's version of splash screen is just a themed background shown while the app inflates it's UI. While it sounds like a nice idea it really isn't. A small graphical component certainly loads so fast that it doesn't slow down the UI inflation but why would you do that. If your app's UI inflation takes seconds you're already doing something wrong. If it doesn't take seconds only thing you're doing is flashing some graphic to the user that they don't really catch. Quickly flashing graphic is worse than no graphic at all.

Then there's the problem of this kind of splash screen not being able to convey any progress. It's just a static screen. If something takes longer how do I communicate that to the user? You know that the first thing any designer wants to add to this is a loading indicator and a nice transition out of the splash, right? This leads into a situation where we now have to use an Activity instead of the screen background. Should we then use a splash screen while we're loading our splash screen?

Showing splash only on "cold launch" exposes users to OS internals.
Android OS was designed to hide OS functionality from users and developers work hard on making the users feel like the app is always there and they can continue from where they left off whenever they come back. We do this because users shouldn't have to understand what happens when the phone runs out of memory and the apps are cleaned from the memory.

Now we introduce different functionality on "cold launch". It makes perfect sense to us, the devs, but it doesn't for regular users. To a regular user this functionality will only be confusing. The app sometimes shows this strange logo screen and sometimes it doesn't. What's the difference? Do I need to do something different?

This is such a bad idea. Consistent and predictable behaviour is important! Let's not force users to start figuring out what's going on under the hood.

So. NO. Do not add splash screens to your app. Simply make sure your app launches to the main UI fast and let users get on with what they want to do.

by Juhani Lehtimäki ( at August 10, 2015 10:30 AM

June 24, 2015

Beato Bezel Adds an Extra Control Method to the Moto 360


One of the most popular choices in the world of the smartwatch is last year’s Moto 360, although with a successor expected sometime this year, it’s starting to feel a little long in the tooth. However, a project by Michael Lo over on Kickstarter has its sights set on breathing some new life into this aging wearable by adding an entirely new control method.


Lo’s Beato Bezel adds an extra stainless-steel bezel on top of the existing one, like a case, which the user can rotate to select different areas of the display. It uses a transparent conductive film to transfer touch information to the watch’s display, without adding significant bulk to the device. The page itself shows renders and images of the bezel, and a video of it in action, showing at least that a prototype exists and does seem to function as described. No battery is required, and importantly no SDK is either, due to the simple nature of the design. The other advantage here is that the Beato Bezel isn’t too expensive when you consider that it could add a whole raft of functionality to your Moto 360, coming in at $29 for one bezel as part of ‘Early Bird Special’, $39 once the campaign has ended, or $59 for a package of both black and silver versions.




Unfortunately however, this all boils down to what use you can actually get out of this device. Do you really need a new way of interacting with your smartwatch? Android Wear of course isn’t designed to work properly with a rotational selection method, and annoyingly, something like scrolling through lists is the kind of situation where this sort of functionality could be useful. There is potentially influence from the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch here (along with more traditional timepieces), but without the benefit of an operating system that expects that kind of control, we are struggling to think of any immediate benefit from this new control layer.




Although Michael’s own point about being able to choose something on-screen without covering it with your finger is a good one, we left physical scroll-controls behind in the HTC Desire-era, and generally with good reason. Once again, this success of the Beato Bezel will entirely depend on developers dreaming up and implementing a compelling reason to use this $29 control method beyond the vague ‘games’ possibilities that are highlighted in the pitch. As much as the absence of an SDK is useful for quick adoption, perhaps an accompanying app or two to demonstrate its possible uses would be beneficial to those who are on the fence.



Don’t be put off though, you might have thought of something that we haven’t! Head on over to the Kickstarter page to check out all the details and decide for yourself.

What do you think of the Beato Bezel?  Let us know in the comments!

The post Beato Bezel Adds an Extra Control Method to the Moto 360 appeared first on xda-developers.

by Jack Jennings at June 24, 2015 12:00 PM

June 18, 2015

Where are the vogella example projects at Github?

On a regular basis I get the question where people can find the example code of our tutorials. There are on Github but Github is big, so we created this vogella Source code page to make it easier to find the correct repository.

Lets the Pull Request be coming. :-)

by Lars Vogel at June 18, 2015 04:03 PM

June 09, 2015

Developing for Android

A series of articles have been posted on the Google Developers publication on that explain the constraints of mobile applications and a set of rules to keep in mind in order to develop good, well-performing Android applications.

I: Understanding the Mobile Context
II: Memory
III: Performance
IV: Networking
V: Language & Libraries
VI: Storage
VII: Framework
VIII: The Rules: User Interface
IX: Tools

by Chet Haase ( at June 09, 2015 04:02 PM

May 29, 2015

Android Design Support Library

Posted by Ian Lake, Developer Advocate

Android 5.0 Lollipop was one of the most significant Android releases ever, in no small part due to the introduction of material design, a new design language that refreshed the entire Android experience. Our detailed spec is a great place to start to adopt material design, but we understand that it can be a challenge for developers, particularly ones concerned with backward compatibility. With a little help from the new Android Design Support Library, we’re bringing a number of important material design components to all developers and to all Android 2.1 or higher devices. You’ll find a navigation drawer view, floating labels for editing text, a floating action button, snackbar, tabs, and a motion and scroll framework to tie them together.

Navigation View

The navigation drawer can be an important focal point for identity and navigation within your app and consistency in the design here can make a considerable difference in how easy your app is to navigate, particularly for first time users. NavigationView makes this easier by providing the framework you need for the navigation drawer as well as the ability to inflate your navigation items through a menu resource.

You use NavigationView as DrawerLayout’s drawer content view with a layout such as:


    <!-- your content layout -->


You’ll note two attributes for NavigationView: app:headerLayout controls the (optional) layout used for the header. app:menu is the menu resource inflated for the navigation items (which can also be updated at runtime). NavigationView takes care of the scrim protection of the status bar for you, ensuring that your NavigationView interacts with the status bar appropriately on API21+ devices.

The simplest drawer menus will be a collection of checkable menu items:

<group android:checkableBehavior="single">

The checked item will appear highlighted in the navigation drawer, ensuring the user knows which navigation item is currently selected.

You can also use subheaders in your menu to separate groups of items:


You’ll get callbacks on selected items by setting a OnNavigationItemSelectedListener using setNavigationItemSelectedListener(). This provides you with the MenuItem that was clicked, allowing you to handle selection events, changed the checked status, load new content, programmatically close the drawer, or any other actions you may want.

Floating labels for editing text

Even the humble EditText has room to improve in material design. While an EditText alone will hide the hint text after the first character is typed, you can now wrap it in a TextInputLayout, causing the hint text to become a floating label above the EditText, ensuring that users never lose context in what they are entering.

In addition to showing hints, you can also display an error message below the EditText by calling setError().

Floating Action Button

A floating action button is a round button denoting a primary action on your interface. The Design library’s FloatingActionButton gives you a single consistent implementation, by default colored using the colorAccent from your theme.

In addition to the normal size floating action button, it also supports the mini size (fabSize="mini") when visual continuity with other elements is critical. As FloatingActionButton extends ImageView, you’ll use android:src or any of the methods such as setImageDrawable() to control the icon shown within the FloatingActionButton.


Providing lightweight, quick feedback about an operation is a perfect opportunity to use a snackbar. Snackbars are shown on the bottom of the screen and contain text with an optional single action. They automatically time out after the given time length by animating off the screen. In addition, users can swipe them away before the timeout.

By including the ability to interact with the Snackbar through swiping it away or actions, these are considerably more powerful than toasts, another lightweight feedback mechanism. However, you’ll find the API very familiar:

  .make(parentLayout, R.string.snackbar_text, Snackbar.LENGTH_LONG)
  .setAction(R.string.snackbar_action, myOnClickListener)
  .show(); // Don’t forget to show!

You’ll note the use of a View as the first parameter to make() - Snackbar will attempt to find an appropriate parent of the Snackbar’s view to ensure that it is anchored to the bottom.


Switching between different views in your app via tabs is not a new concept to material design and they are equally at home as a top level navigation pattern or for organizing different groupings of content within your app (say, different genres of music).

The Design library’s TabLayout implements both fixed tabs, where the view’s width is divided equally between all of the tabs, as well as scrollable tabs, where the tabs are not a uniform size and can scroll horizontally. Tabs can be added programmatically:

TabLayout tabLayout = ...;
tabLayout.addTab(tabLayout.newTab().setText("Tab 1"));

However, if you are using a ViewPager for horizontal paging between tabs, you can create tabs directly from your PagerAdapter’s getPageTitle() and then connect the two together using setupWithViewPager(). This ensures that tab selection events update the ViewPager and page changes update the selected tab.

CoordinatorLayout, motion, and scrolling

Distinctive visuals are only one part of material design: motion is also an important part of making a great material designed app. While there are a lot of parts of motion in material design including touch ripples and meaningful transitions, the Design library introduces CoordinatorLayout, a layout which provides an additional level of control over touch events between child views, something which many of the components in the Design library take advantage of.

CoordinatorLayout and floating action buttons

A great example of this is when you add a FloatingActionButton as a child of your CoordinatorLayout and then pass that CoordinatorLayout to your Snackbar.make() call - instead of the snackbar displaying over the floating action button, the FloatingActionButton takes advantage of additional callbacks provided by CoordinatorLayout to automatically move upward as the snackbar animates in and returns to its position when the snackbar animates out on Android 3.0 and higher devices - no extra code required.

CoordinatorLayout also provides an layout_anchor attribute which, along with layout_anchorGravity, can be used to place floating views, such as the FloatingActionButton, relative to other views.

CoordinatorLayout and the app bar

The other main use case for the CoordinatorLayout concerns the app bar (formerly action bar) and scrolling techniques. You may already be using a Toolbar in your layout, allowing you to more easily customize the look and integration of that iconic part of an app with the rest of your layout. The Design library takes this to the next level: using an AppBarLayout allows your Toolbar and other views (such as tabs provided by TabLayout) to react to scroll events in a sibling view marked with a ScrollingViewBehavior. Therefore you can create a layout such as:

     <! -- Your Scrollable View -->
            app:layout_behavior="@string/appbar_scrolling_view_behavior" />



Now, as the user scrolls the RecyclerView, the AppBarLayout can respond to those events by using the children’s scroll flags to control how they enter (scroll on screen) and exit (scroll off screen). Flags include:

  • scroll: this flag should be set for all views that want to scroll off the screen - for views that do not use this flag, they’ll remain pinned to the top of the screen
  • enterAlways: this flag ensures that any downward scroll will cause this view to become visible, enabling the ‘quick return’ pattern
  • enterAlwaysCollapsed: When your view has declared a minHeight and you use this flag, your View will only enter at its minimum height (i.e., ‘collapsed’), only re-expanding to its full height when the scrolling view has reached it’s top.
  • exitUntilCollapsed: this flag causes the view to scroll off until it is ‘collapsed’ (its minHeight) before exiting

One note: all views using the scroll flag must be declared before views that do not use the flag. This ensures that all views exit from the top, leaving the fixed elements behind.

Collapsing Toolbars

Adding a Toolbar directly to an AppBarLayout gives you access to the enterAlwaysCollapsed and exitUntilCollapsed scroll flags, but not the detailed control on how different elements react to collapsing. For that, you can use CollapsingToolbarLayout:


This setup uses CollapsingToolbarLayout’s app:layout_collapseMode="pin" to ensure that the Toolbar itself remains pinned to the top of the screen while the view collapses. Even better, when you use CollapsingToolbarLayout and Toolbar together, the title will automatically appear larger when the layout is fully visible, then transition to its default size as it is collapsed. Note that in those cases, you should call setTitle() on the CollapsingToolbarLayout, rather than on the Toolbar itself.

In addition to pinning a view, you can use app:layout_collapseMode="parallax" (and optionally app:layout_collapseParallaxMultiplier="0.7" to set the parallax multiplier) to implement parallax scrolling (say of a sibling ImageView within the CollapsingToolbarLayout). This use case pairs nicely with the app:contentScrim="?attr/colorPrimary" attribute for CollapsingToolbarLayout, adding a full bleed scrim when the view is collapsed.

CoordinatorLayout and custom views

One thing that is important to note is that CoordinatorLayout doesn’t have any innate understanding of a FloatingActionButton or AppBarLayout work - it just provides an additional API in the form of a Coordinator.Behavior, which allows child views to better control touch events and gestures as well as declare dependencies between each other and receive callbacks via onDependentViewChanged().

Views can declare a default Behavior by using the CoordinatorLayout.DefaultBehavior(YourView.Behavior.class) annotation,or set it in your layout files by with the app:layout_behavior="$Behavior" attribute. This framework makes it possible for any view to integrate with CoordinatorLayout.

Available now!

The Design library is available now, so make sure to update the Android Support Repository in the SDK Manager. You can then start using the Design library with a single new dependency:

 compile ''

Note that as the Design library depends on the Support v4 and AppCompat Support Libraries, those will be included automatically when you add the Design library dependency. We also took care that these new widgets are usable in the Android Studio Layout Editor’s Design view (find them under CustomView), giving you an easier way to preview some of these new components.

The Design library, AppCompat, and all of the Android Support Library are important tools in providing the building blocks needed to build a modern, great looking Android app without building everything from scratch.

by Reto Meier ( at May 29, 2015 05:43 PM

May 05, 2015

Thoughts on Designing for Smartwatches

There's been more and more discussion about wearable tech and especially smartwatches lately. Apple's Apple Watch certainly threw some more fuel to the fire when many tech journalists rushed out their reviews of the device. Many of the reviews of the Apple's device made a big deal about notifications and how irritating and disturbing they were. I believe this to be a symptom of bad journalism and lack of understanding and experience with the device.

While I can't make many claims about the Apple Watch I can, however, talk about the effects of smartwatch use in my life. I have been using Android Wear devices daily since the last year's Google I/O. While the things I'm writing in this article are very much anecdotal I've heard others expressing very similar thoughts during the last year.

At the start, I was extremely sceptical about wearing a smartwatch. Firstly, I abandoned wristwatches years ago. Last time I wore one was when serving in the army in -99. Going back to having something on my wrist was not an easy thing to do. But then again, I'm an Android developer and when something new arrives to my domain I feel that I have to give it a try so I can talk about it to our customers. Second, I really didn't see the point of the watch. Why would I use the small screen when I have a perfectly fine screen in my pocket.

So I did. At the morning of June 26th 2014 I wrapped an LG G Watch to my wrist, jumped through few hoops to get it running with the pre-release software, and I haven't looked back since.

The Watch Extends Your Phone

One thing people (and tech bloggers) keep asking about smartwatches is: "what does it do?". The answer currently is: "not much" and that is good.

Let's first accept few facts. The smartwatch screen is tiny. The currently available watches also have fairly poor hardware behind the tiny screen. Both of these factors limit what you actually want to do on the watch.

A good thought experiment to do is to see how long the task you're thinking about doing on the watch takes. If it takes longer than 5 seconds from start to end you probably don't want to use your watch for it. Think about it. You already have a perfectly fine larger screen in your pocket. taking the phone out and turning on the screen and focusing to the task takes only few seconds.

Apps - not so important - yet

The way Google kickstarted the Wear ecosystem was well thought out. Your Wear device directly hooks into the already powerful Android notification system. Actions on notifications are available on the watch without developers having to update their apps. This is why one could argue that Wear had millions of apps available on the launch day.

The Wear devices can, however, run much more complex apps than just glorified notifications. In fact, your Wear device runs nearly full Android OS. Building complex apps for Wear is easy and fast but that doesn't mean you should.

I already referred to the 5-second thought experiment. Would you actually want to reply to a text message on the tiny wrist screen or would you rather pull out your phone and use the comfortable keyboard on it? I know I would just use my phone.

Interaction is a big problem when it comes to building apps for smartwatches. How do you do user input? There are few attempts trying to implement keyboards for Android Wear but all of them fall short in comfort of use. If the user input you expect is any longer than two words users there's no point trying to get the task done on the wearable.

There is voice, of course, but voice has a very limited use for multitude of reasons. Privacy in crowded places, voice recognition issues in loud areas and so on.

There are limited use cases for apps running on the watch fitting these limitations. Apps running on the watch must behave like extension to their mobile counterparts. Fully standalone Wear apps are unlikely to ever become very useful.

All configuration and data input must happen either via a web client or a mobile app. Never ask user input on the wearable beyond a very simple one-tap interaction.

Let’s look at an app I find really good: Bring! Shopping List which also happens to be pretty much the only app I'm currently using on my watch beyond notifications.

Bring! is a shared shopping list app. The app itself is nicely made and I can recommend to everyone (I just wish they would add Google login to the app). In this context it's the Wear extension that we're interested about.

The Bring Wear extension shows you the current shopping list. From feature point of view it is very limited. You cannot, for example, add new items to your shopping list or send notifications to your partner. For someone who is not a Wear user this might seem to be limited but it is, in fact, very well thought out approach. The only actions you can take on the Wear app is to mark items done. That's all. Any more complex tasks the mobile app is better anyways and your phone is in your pocket anyways.

The simple approach of Bring! Wear app design allows them to keep the UI clean and usable. Shopping list is also a use case where it makes sense for users not to have their phone out all the time and making the shopping list available to your wrists is actually very useful. I use this app when shopping all the time!

In short. Bring! on your wrist makes sense while most apps don't because of:

  • It is used in a situation where users hands might not be available for holding a phone.
  • It seamlessly maintains the shopping list based on what you add on your phone.
  • The interactions are designed to be very simple and straightforward.
  • Only a very limited and therefore focused use cases are supported on the wear. Because of this small focus the UI can be highly optimised for completing the task.

Bring! might not be the killer app that sells the smartwatch use to the general public but their app design approach most certainly is spot on. When you're thinking about extending your app to a wearable think first. Is it needed? Why would users use the wearable instead of their phone? What kind of situations it is for? If you can't answer these questions maybe your time is better spent polishing your mobile app.

This is still a new area for apps. The apps that we're celebrating year or two from now are probably something we don't even think about yet. So keep trying! Just remember to keep thinking about the use context. Instagram feed on your wrists doesn't make sense in any context...

Notifications, notifications, notifications

While we're waiting for the killer apps to emerge let's focus on what is currently the killer feature of smartwatches. Notifications. The way smartwatches help you to handle the constant notification stream is great. To me, personally, this is the reason I wear mine every day. But this is also the place where people are going to be split into two groups: smartwatch users and non-smartwatch users.

Let's start with a screenshot:

If you're a type of person who is annoyed by the flood of notifications in the screenshot smartwatch is probably for you. If you, on the other hand, don't really mind a smartwatch might no really help you.

To me, Android notifications represent a todo list. As long as I have notifications up there I need to do something. Often the "do something" is simply reading the notification and swiping it away. Sometimes it is more like reading an email, replying to G+ comment and so on.

The power of Wear, to me, is that I can filter my notifications (my todo) without taking out my phone every time I receive a notification. Firstly, with a quick glance I can determine the priority of a notification.

The latest notification shows key aspects of the events immediately (depending on the app). In case of G+, GMail and Hangouts I always know which app notified me and who did something to cause the notification. Usually that's enough information to device what to do with the notification. Sometimes it's OK to ignore the notifications while sometimes I want to react to it immediately.

But  this is just the first step. Second, and the most powerful one, is the gestures that allow me to put the notification to its right category.

I can:

  • Pull out my phone, act on the notification immediately. For example, in case of a hangout message from someone I'm waiting to meet.
  • Swipe the notification down. This way the notification is going to stay on my phone. These are the things I want to react to soon but not right now. Maybe a hangout message from a friend but when I'm currently in a situation I can't talk right now. Next time I pull my phone out the notification is going to be there to remind me.
  • Swipe the notification away. These are cases where I get all the info I needed from the notification and I don't wish to react to it on my phone at all. This could be a notification from Swarm, for example. The notification already told me everything there's to know about it. Done.
    Other case for this is an email that is something I want to read but there's no hurry. Swiping the notification away will dismiss it from my phone as well but the email itself stays in the inbox unread and will be waiting for me when I'm in front of my computer the next time.
  • I can perform actions to the notifications. Most useful of all of these is the GMail notifications. If I get an email I can either directly archive it from my watch with one swipe & tap or tap the email to read a bit more before making the decision. I do this A LOT. When I get promo emails which I don't really care so much about I tend to glance at them and archive directly if there's no interesting topics. This way the notification is gone and the email with it.

I keep hearing people (and reviewers) saying that they hate notifications and the last thing they want is more notifications on their wrist. I think this is a misconception. A Wear device doesn't add more notifications to your life. It allows you to get rid of the ones you don't want much more easily. THAT is the best thing about Android Wear in its current form.

Notification on the wrist are not annoying. They do not interrupt you (at least on Wear). You can keep ignoring the subtle vibration on your wrist if you want but it's there if you need it and you don't need to pull out your phone. And of course you can prevent apps you never want to see on your wrists from posting notifications to the Wear.

This is, however, something that takes time to get used to. That's also why I feel that almost all of the Apple Watch reviews were posted too soon and the reviewer didn't actually have any idea of the impact of the wearable. For me, it took more than a month to get used to not pulling out my phone every chance I got to check if I had missed something. Also, when waiting for a message from someone I no-longer was holding the phone on my hand to make sure I don't miss it. My Wear device takes care of that.

It takes time to change your habits but once you do wearables starts to make sense.

Importance of the watch face

As I already said apps don't make much sense on smartwatches. Watch faces, however, do! It's still a watch and users do use it to tell time. On Android Wear watch face is the most persistent part of the user experience. Watch face is the part user sees every time they look at their wrist.

Watch faces also allow personalisation of the device. Different people like different style. Watch faces are going to be one of the key selling points of future smart watches, I'm sure.

On Android Wear the watch faces API was recently opened to devs. Even before there already was a flood of custom watch faces in the Play Store. Today we're spoiled for options.

There are two basic approaches to watch faces on Android Wear at the time of writing this: 1) customisable watch face platforms 2) masterfully designed preset watch faces with little or no customisation options.

When building a customisable watch face there are couple of things to think about. Firstly, if your configuration has a lot of options don't expose them on the watch, do it on the phone.

Probably the best example of doing things right is the Puije Black watch face. Their phone configuration app is easy to use and also follows Android design guidelines. Their preview is live rendering of the watch face available for round and square screens.

If your watch face is highly configurable take more time designing your configuration app. All normal app design guidelines apply here. Think about users. Use Android components and patterns.  Your users will give up if they can't figure out how to make the watch face theirs.

Smartwatches are not for everyone

Wearing a watch is a personal choice and so is spending hundreds of euros for yet another tech device you'll be upgrading in a year or two. Smartwatches are definitely not for everyone. I don't think the potential market for Android Wear in its current form is more than 15% of all Android phone users. How many of them will get one is an even more difficult question.

Even with those limited numbers it makes sense to think about Wear when you're building your app. Making sure you handle notifications correctly is an easy way to please Wear users. Building a Wear app is also very easy as Wear is just Android. But take a minute thinking if building one for your app makes sense.

I like my watch so much that if I accidentally leave it home I really miss it and find it annoying to use my phone. But I completely understand people who don't think they need one. Android Wear is great but not for everyone!

by Juhani Lehtimäki ( at May 05, 2015 01:32 PM

May 04, 2015

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 to be announced in June

According to SamMobile, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 will be announced this coming June. There will apparently be four variants of the tablet. There will be an 8-inch model and a 9.7-inch model, with both having WiFi and WiFi + LTE respectively, for a total of 4 variants.

They will apparently be released worldwide, including the US, Canada, European markets, China, Latin America, Hong Kong, Korea, and India, though this information seems to be unconfirmed.

The Galaxy Tab S2 will have a 4:3 aspect ratio and will be even more thin than the iPad Air.

The post Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 to be announced in June appeared first on Galaxy Tabs.

by Jordan Smith at May 04, 2015 03:39 PM

April 29, 2015

Wallpaper Wednesday – Foggy Mountain Pass

This week’s wallpaper is called Foggy Mountain Pass.

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

The post Wallpaper Wednesday – Foggy Mountain Pass appeared first on Galaxy Tabs.

by Kyle Dornblaser at April 29, 2015 03:50 PM

April 22, 2015

Infared imaging with Android devices

One of the most evident sensors of Android devices is the camera. An ordinary smartphone's camera is able to capture a lot of interesting information but has its limitations too. Most evidently, its viewing angle depends on the position of the device (so it is not fixed and hard to measure) and its bandwidth is (mostly) restricted to the visible light. It is therefore an exciting idea to connect special cameras to Android devices.

In this post, I will present an integration of FLIR Lepton Long-wavelength Infrared Camera to an Android application over Bluetooth Low Energy connection. Long-wavelength IR (LWIR) cameras are not new. Previously, however, they were priced in the thousands of dollars range (if not higher). Lepton is still pricey (currently about 300 USD) but its price is low enough so that mere mortals can play with it. FLIR sells a smartphone integration product (called FLIR One) but it is currently only available for iPhone and locks the camera to one device. Our prototype allows any device with BLE connection to access this very special camera.

The prototype system presented here needs a relatively long list of external hardware components and it is also not trivial to prepare these components. This list is the following:

  • An Android phone with Bluetooth 4.0 capability. I used Nexus 5 for these experiments.
  • An FLIR Lepton module. My recommendation is the FLIR Dev Kit from Sparkfun that has the camera module mounted on a breakout panel that is much easier to handle than the original FLIR socket.
  • A BeagleBone Black card with an SD Card >4GB.
  • A BLED112 BLE dongle from Silicon Labs (formerly Bluegiga).
The software for the prototype can be downloaded in two packages.

Once you got all these, prepare the ingredients.

1. Hook up the FLIR camera with the BeagleBone Black

Fortunately the BBB's SPI interface is completely compatible with the Lepton's so the "hardware" just needs a couple of wires. Do the following connections (P9 refers to the BBB's P9 extension port).

CS P9/28 (SPI1_CS0)
MOSI P9/30 (SPI1_D1)
MISO P9/29 (SPI1_D0)
GND P9/1 (GND)
VIN P9/4 (DC, 3.3V)

2. Prepare the BBB environment

I use Snappy Ubuntu. Grab the SD card and download the image as documented here. Before flashing the SD card, we have to update the device tree in the image so that the SPI port is correctly enabled. Unpack that you have just downloaded and go to the dt subdirectory. There you find a device tree file that I used for this project. Beside the SPI1 port, it also enables some serial ports. These are not necessary for this project but may come handy.

Compile the device tree:

dtc -O dtb -o am335x-boneblack.dtb am335x-boneblack.dts

The output is the binary device tree (am335x-boneblack.dtb) that needs to be put into the kernel image file. Let's suppose that the downloaded image file is ubuntu-15.04-snappy-armhf-bbb.img and you have an empty directory at /mnt/img. Then do the following:

fdisk -l ubuntu-15.04-snappy-armhf-bbb.img

Look for the first partition and note the partition image name and the offset:

ubuntu-15.04-snappy-armhf-bbb.img1   *        8192      139263       65536    c  W95 FAT32 (LBA)

Note that the actual partition image name may differ depending on the Snappy image you downloaded. Calculate the offset as 8192*512=4194304
Now mount the partition:

mount -o loop,offset=4194304 ubuntu-15.04-snappy-armhf-bbb.img /mnt/img

Then copy the dtb into the image, unmount and write the image to SD card (on my computer the SD card interface is /dev/sdc, check before you issue the dd command!):

cp am335x-boneblack.dtb /mnt/img/a/dtbs
umount /mnt/img
dd if=ubuntu-15.04-snappy-armhf-bbb.img of=/dev/sdc bs=32M

Now you have an SD card that you can insert into the BBB and boot from it. Once you reached the Ubuntu prompt and logged in (ubuntu/ubuntu), there's one thing more: the Snappy prototype application depends on the libpng package which is not part of the default Snappy image. But before you do it, check whether the SPI device was enabled correctly:
root@localhost:~# ls /dev/spidev1.0                                            

Now about the png library. Download the armhf image from this location:


Copy it to the BBB (update your card's IP address according to your network policies):
scp libpng12-0_1.2.50-1ubuntu2_armhf.deb ubuntu@

Then go to the BBB console and install the deb package:
sudo mount -o remount,rw /
sudo dpkg -i libpng12-0_1.2.50-1ubuntu2_armhf.deb
sudo mount -o remount,ro /

3. Prepare the BLE dongle

The BLED112 stores the GATT tree in its firmware, hence in order to provide the GATT services that connect the BBB with the Android device, a new firmware needs to be generated and installed in the dongle. The config files are located in the config subdirectory in the archive. Follow the steps in this post to generate and install the new firmware. Once you are done, you can simply plug the dongle into the USB port of the BBB.

4. Install the prototype applications

The prototype system has two parts. The application running on the BBB acts as BLE server, fetches images from the FLIR camera and transmits them over BLE. The Android application acts as BLE client, fetches images from the BLE server and displays them. The BBB part is located in and the Android part is in The latter is just the source part of the Android Studio project tree - I omitted all the garbage that Android Studio generates into the project folders. For the BBB installation, follow the instructions in this blog post. Launch the BBB application like this as root:
/apps/ircamera.sideload/1.0.0/bin/ircamera /dev/ttyACM0
and you are ready to go. On the Android side, select the BLE node with the name "test", connect, click the "Take picture" button, wait for the image to download and there you are. Note that the images are saved on the SD card, which means that they also appear in the stock "Photos" application.

Now at last we can get to the technical issues with this prototype. One interesting aspect is that there is no standard BLE service that provides the functionalities - image capture triggering, image fetching - our system needs. That's not a problem, we defined our own BLE service. It is easiest to follow this service in irc_gattBLED112.xml (, config subdirectory).

The service has a custom UUID, generated randomly:

<service uuid="274b15a3-b9cd-4e5e-94c4-1248b42b82f8" advertise="true">

Also, its 3 GATT characteristics are in the non-standard UUID domain:

<characteristic uuid="00000000-b9cd-4e5e-94c4-1248b42b82f8" id="irc_len">
<characteristic uuid="00000001-b9cd-4e5e-94c4-1248b42b82f8" id="irc_offs">
<characteristic uuid="00000002-b9cd-4e5e-94c4-1248b42b82f8" id="irc_pic">

The interaction goes like the following. The BLE client connects and reads the irc_len characteristic. This characteristic is tagged as "user" on the BLE server side meaning that the BLE application must generate the value on the fly, when the attribute is read. In our case, reading this attribute fetches an image from the FLIR camera, converts it into PNG format and stores it in the apps' data folder, returning only the PNG file size. The Android application now can fetch the image piece by piece. First the Android application writes the irc_offs characteristic to inform the BLE server, what is the starting location of the fragment it wants to fetch. Then it reads the irc_pic characteristic which returns a maximum of 20 bytes of image data. This makes the image download very slow (takes about 10-20 second to download a general 5-6 Kbyte image to the Android application) but the restriction comes from a BLE protocol layer. Maybe the old RFCOMM from Bluetooth Classic would have been actually a better option for this application.

Update: I updated the client/server application to make the download faster (it is still quite slow). In order to speed up, I removed the explicit setting of the file offset (so the irc_offs characteristic is not used anymore). This made the download faster but there's still room for improvement.

Other than the issue with fragment size, both applications are pretty straighforward. Maybe the colors of the IR image are worth discussing a bit. The FLIR camera returns a matrix of 80x60 pixels, each pixel has a depth of 12 bit. Grayscale presentation is the most evident option but most displays have only 256 gray colors. In order to make the IR shades more visible, I used fake coloring. The algorithm is very simple: after the image is fetched, the maximum and the minimum IR intensity is calculated and the range between the two are mapped into a rainbow gradient of 400 colors.

by Gabor Paller ( at April 22, 2015 03:01 PM

March 30, 2015

Building and Distributing Android SDK Add-Ons

Since Google Play Services took much of the thunder away from the Google APIs SDK targets, SDK Add-ons have fallen a bit out of the mainstream thought of Android developers. However, if you are an OEM of an Android-based product (especially one that may not be in the consumer space), then SDK Add-ons are worth another look.

by Dave Smith at March 30, 2015 09:16 PM

March 25, 2015

Android Performance Case Study Follow-up

Two years ago, I published an articled titled Android Performance Case Study to help Android developers understand what tools and technique can be used to identify, track down, and fix performance issues.

This article focused on Falcon Pro, a Twitter client designed and developed by Joaquim Vergès. Joaquim was kind enough to let me use his application in my article and quickly addressed all the issues I found. All was well until Joaquim started working on Falcon Pro 3, written from scratch. Shortly before releasing his new application, Joaquim contacted me because he needed help figuring out a performance problem that was affecting scrolling (and once again, I did not have access to the source code).

Joaquim used all the right tools and was able to quickly determine what was not causing the issue. For instance, he found that overdraw was not an issue. He was however able to narrow down the problem to the use of a ViewPager. He sent me the following screenshots:

Falcon Pro 3

Joaquim used the system’s on-screen GPU profiling tool to detect framerate drops. The screenshot on the left shows the performance of scrolling a timeline without a ViewPager and the screenshot on the right shows performance with a ViewPager (he used a 2014 Moto X to capture this data). The root cause seems pretty obvious.

My first idea was to see whether the ViewPager was somehow misusing hardware layers. The performance issue we observed could have been caused by a hardware layer updated on every frame by the list’s scroll. The system’s hardware layers updates debugging tool did not reveal anything. I double checked with HierarchyViewer and I was satisfied that the ViewPager was behaving correctly (the contrary was unlikely anyway and would have been troublesome).

I then turned to another powerful, seldom used, tool called Tracer for OpenGL. My previous article explains how the tool works in more details. All you need to know is that this tool collects all the drawing commands sent by the UI toolkit to the GPU.

Android 4.3 and up: Tracer has unfortunately become a little more difficult to use since Android 4.3 when we introduced reordering and merging of drawing commands. It’s an amazingly useful optimization but it prevents Tracer from grouping drawing commands by view. You can restore the old behavior by disabling display lists optimization using the following command (before you start your application):

adb shell setprop debug.hwui.disable_draw_reorder true

Reading OpenGL traces: Commands shown in blue are GL operations that draw pixels on screen. All other commands are used to transfer data or set state and can easily be ignored. Every time you click on one of the blue commands, Tracer will update the Details tab and show you the content of the current render target right after the command you clicked is executed. You can thus reconstruct a frame by clicking on each blue command one after another. It’s pretty much how I analyze performance issues with Tracer. Seeing how a frame is rendered gives a lot of insight on what the application is doing.

While perusing the traces collected during a scroll in Falcon Pro I was surprised to see a series of SaveLayer/ComposeLayer blocks of commands (click the picture to enlarge):

Tracer for OpenGL

These blocks indicate the creation and composition of a temporary hardware layer. These temporary layers are created by the different variants of Canvas.saveLayer(). The UI toolkit uses Canvas.saveLayer() to draw Views with an alpha < 1 (see View.setAlpha()) when specific conditions are met:

Chet and I explained in several presentations why you should use alpha with care. Every time the UI toolkit has to use a temporary layer, drawing commands are sent to a different render target, and switching render target is an expensive operation for the GPU. GPUs using a tiling/deferred architecture (ImaginationTech’s SGX, Qualcomm’s Adreno, etc.) are particularly hurt by this behavior. Direct rendering architectures such as Nvidia’s fare better. Since the Moto X 2014 devices Joaquim and I were working with use a Qualcomm Adreno GPU, the use of multiple temporary hardware layers was most likely the root cause of our performance problem.

The big question thus become: what is creating all these temporary layers? Tracer gave us the answer. If you look at the screenshot of Tracer you can see that the only drawing command in the SaveLayer group of OpenGL operations renders what appears to be a circle in a small render target (the tool magnifies the result). Now let’s look at a screenshot of the application:

Falcon Pro 3

Do you see these little circles at the top? That’s a ViewPager indicator, used to show the user her position. Joaquim was using a third party library (I don’t remember which one) to draw these indicators. What’s interesting is how that library draws the indicator: the current page is indicated by a white circle, the other pages with what appears to be a gray circle. I say “what appears to be a gray” because the circles are actually translucent white circles. The library uses a View for each circle (which is in itself wasteful) and calls setAlpha() to change their color.

There are several solutions to fix this problem:

  • Use a customizable “inactive” color instead of setting an opacity on the View
  • Return false from hasOverlappingRendering() and the framework will set the proper alpha on the Paint for you
  • Return true from onSetAlpha() and set an alpha on the Paint used to draw the “gray” circles

The easiest solution is the second one but it is only available from API level 16. If you must support older versions of Android, use one of the other two solutions. I believe Joaquim simply ditched the third party library and used his own indicator.

I hope this article makes it clear that performance issues can arise from what appears to be innocent and harmless operations. So remember: don’t make assumptions, measure!

by Romain Guy at March 25, 2015 06:32 PM

AOSP Sources in the IDE

We get asked a lot about the proper way to integrate the AOSP sources into an integrated development environment (IDE). This tutorial shows you how to use the integrated IDEGen scripts to do the job.

by Dave Smith at March 25, 2015 02:24 AM

February 24, 2015

AcDisplay and HeadsUp: Better Notification Handling

AcDisplay & HeadsUp

We’ve featured both HeadsUp and AcDisplay by XDA Recognized Developer AChep in the past. Both have been constantly improved since they were released, and with the recent updates for better Lollipop support and material design, we figured it would be a good time for a double feature.

The two apps are excellent for handling your notifications, each in their own and distinct manner.


AcDisplay informs you of new notifications you receive while your screen is off, by showing you a minimal overview allowing you to view, clear or action the notification.

Many customization options are provided: you can set the minimum and maximum priority of notifications to be shown (this is useful so that your screen doesn’t wake up for weather updates, for example) or even configure AcDisplay on a per app basis, choosing a custom wallpaper (or dynamically picking the notification’s icon/artwork), using the system font (as opposed to Roboto) and more. Inactive hours can also be defined to disable AcDisplay entirely during your sleep.

Two additional modes are also available, giving you the choice to use AcDisplay as your lockscreen, or automatically activating it when you pick your device up. Both of these options can also be dynamically disabled when no notifications are available.


HeadsUp, on the other hand, is more comparable to the feature introduced in Lollipop, though it adds many needed features and customization options to it.

When it comes to looks, you can select from two themes (dark and light). That’s not all, though: you also have the option to configure the heads up’s position, having it show at the top or bottom of the screen, and optionally overlaying the status bar. Emoji can also be enabled, as well as using the system font (mostly useful for non AOSP ROMs).

Swiping to the right or left can either dismiss the notification or hide the heads up — this is configurable by the user. Swiping up always hides all heads up notifications. Naturally, you can disable or enable HeadsUp for each app individually. A neat addition over the stock heads up system is that multiple notifications can be displayed at once, instead of replacing the previous one.

(If you’re on Lollipop and your ROM doesn’t allow you to disable the stock heads up system, you may want to try the Restore notification ticker on Lollipop Xposed module by XDA Recognized Developer MohammadAG.)

Both are compatible with all devices running Android 4.1 or later, though 4.3+ is recommended as it introduces notification listeners (giving third-party apps the ability to clear notifications and letting them know when one is cleared).

What’s New?

Versions 3.x have been out for a few weeks (with the latest releases coming out just yesterday), with bugs being squashed along the way and some features making it in. They should be fully usable now, with many changes since the 2.x releases.

For those who haven’t been following their development, here’s what’s new in 3.x for AcDisplay:

  • Material design!
  • Basic JellyBean (4.1&4.2) support.
  • Options to show emoji instead of text smileys, for overriding system fonts and better privacy features when Android’s secure lock is enabled.
  • Many other improvements, bug fixes and translation updates.

… and for HeadsUp:

  • Material design!
  • Options to make heads up overlap the status bar, show at the bottom of the screen or on the lockscreen, and to disable the timeout entirely. The behavior when swiping to the left or right can also be customized.
  • Users can swipe up to hide all heads up.
  • Many other improvements, bug fixes and translation updates.

(You can view the full changelog for HeadsUp here, and for AcDisplay here.)




Get Them Now!

AcDisplay and HeadsUp are both open source and published under the GPLv2+. You’re welcome to check them out or contribute: HeadsUp GitHub repo, AcDisplay GitHub repo.

Interested? Make sure to visit the HeadsUp forum thread and AcDisplay forum thread for more info, downloads and support!

The post AcDisplay and HeadsUp: Better Notification Handling appeared first on xda-developers.

by GermainZ at February 24, 2015 05:50 PM

February 06, 2015

BLED112 on BeagleBone

In the previous post I demonstrated, how a Bluetooth Low Energy dongle can be used to connect a PC and an Android device. While this is sort of project is appealing, connecting PCs and smartphones is not such an interesting use case. It is much more interesting, however, to transfer the PC-side program directly to an embedded device and that's what I will demonstrate in this post.

The Android application used in this post did not change, you can download it here. The BLE server application was updated according to the embedded platform's requirement, you can download the new version here.

There are two baskets of embedded platforms out there. One of them is optimized for low power consumption. They are too limited to run a full-scale operating system therefore their system is often proprietary. Arduino (of which we have seen the RFDuino variant) is one of them but there are many more, e.g. Bluegiga modules also have a proprietary application model. We can typically expect power consumption in the 1-10 mA range with some platforms offering even lower standby consumption.

The other basket contains scaled-down computers and they are able to run stripped down versions of a real operating system. Their power consumption is in the 100-500 mA range and they often sport 100s of megabytes of RAM and gigabytes of flash memory. They are of course not comparable to low power platforms when it comes to power consumption but their much higher performance (which can be relevant for computation-intensive tasks) and compatibility with mainstream operating systems make them very attractive for certain tasks. The card I chose is BeagleBoard Black and my main motivation was that Ubuntu chose this card as a reference platform for its Ubuntu Core variant.

The point I try to make in this post is how easy it is to port an application developed for desktop PC to these embedded computers. Therefore let's just port the BLE server part of the CTS example demo to BeagleBone Black.

There are a handful of operating systems available for this card. I chose Snappy Ubuntu - well, because my own desktop is Ubuntu. Grab an SD card and prepare a Snappy Ubuntu boot media according to this description. It worked for me out of the box. You can also start with this video - it is really that easy. Once you hooked up the card with your PC, let's prepare the development environment.

First fetch the ARM cross-compiler with this command (assuming you are on Ubuntu or Debian):

sudo apt-get install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf

Then install snappy developer tools according to this guide.

Then unpack the BLE server application into a directory and set up these environment variables.

export CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf-; export ARCH=arm

Enter the beagle_conn_example directory that you unpacked from the ZIP package and execute:


This should re-generate cts_1.0.0_all.snap which is already present in the ZIP archive in case you run into problems with building the app. The snap is the new package format for snappy. Then you can install this package on the card.

snappy-remote --url=ssh:// install ./cts_1.0.0_all.snap

You have to update the IP address according to what your card obtained on your network. The upload tool will prompt you for username/password, it is ubuntu/ubuntu by default.

Update the GATT tree in the BLED112 firmware as described in the previous post. Plug the BLED112 dongle into the BeagleBoard's USB port. Then open a command prompt on the BeagleBoard either using the serial debug interface or by connecting to the instance with ssh and execute the following command:

sudo /apps/cts.sideload/1.0.0/bin/cts /dev/ttyACM0

The familiar console messages appear and you can connect with the Android app as depicted in the image below.

One thing you can notice here is that Snappy's shiny new package system is not ready yet. In order for this package to access the /dev/ttyACM0 device (to which the BLED112 is mapped without problem), it has to run as root. This is something that the Snappy team is yet to figure out. The experience, however, is smooth enough that application development can be started now.

by Gabor Paller ( at February 06, 2015 06:46 PM

February 05, 2015

Guide: In-Depth Look at the Best Android Keyboards


Many keyboards are available on Android, but not all of them are equal. Some try to be the best keyboard for all users, others target a niche market – whatever you’re looking for, you’re likely to find one that suits your needs.

To help you find the keyboard you want, we’re going to review a dozen (based on your comments here, plus some popular choices) by taking a look at several aspects:

  • Input:
    • Input modes (e.g. typing and swiping) and accuracy.
    • Input related gestures, if any.
    • Ease of use for numbers/symbols input.
    • Gestures, if any.
    • Text shortcuts and emoji.
  • Multiple languages:
    • Ease of switching between languages and dual language input.
    • Custom layouts for languages.
  • Correcting input and predictions:
    • Suggestions/auto-corrections.
    • Correcting input (undoing mistakes, controlling the cursor for precision, etc).
    • Custom dictionaries.
    • Next word predictions.
  • Themes/Customizability.
  • Other features.
  • Privacy. (Note: We’ll only link to the keyboard’s privacy policy for reference, and note if an Internet connection is necessary for some features. The choice is up to you.)

A short screencast will also be shown for each, to give you a quick idea of how easy it is to use (we’ll use an unknown word and punctuation by typing “Hello,!”).

Here’s the list of keyboards we’ll check. You can use it to quickly jump to those you’re interested in, or check the summary table at the end and come back for additional details:



Fleksy looks like your average keyboard, but it’s got some neat features to set it apart. It comes with some intuitive gestures you can use to quickly perform common actions. You can swipe to the right to insert a space, or to the left to delete the last word. Other gestures are also present, which we’ll discuss later.

Inputting numbers and symbols is usually done by switching to the secondary pane (they’re not shown at all in the primary pane). This can be done in multiple ways: you can press the “123” button, swipe from it, or long press any key. However, you can also activate “extensions” for additional functionality, such as adding a numbers row. Common punctuation marks are also offered as suggestions after every word, and you can cycle through them by swiping up and down.

Another extension allows you to define text shortcuts, which can come in handy for typing common phrases, emails or phone numbers quickly. Emoji and text emoticons input is also present, and can even be extended to insert GIFs (which is especially useful in Hangouts) using another extension.

One of the few annoyances with Fleksy is that it has a tendency to insert a space after every word or punctuation when smart spaces are enabled (even when returning to a new line — the previous one will end with a space). This could probably be made smarter, but you can fortunately turn it off if it bothers you.

Multiple languages

If you regularly type in more than one language, switching between them is easy enough — you just need to swipe the space bar left or right. You’re also able to change the layout of the keyboard for any language, and choose from the usual layouts as well as Colemak and Dvorak.

Fans of dual language input will be slightly disappointed, however, as there is no way to get corrections in another language without switching to it.

Correcting input and predictions

Fleksy heavily relies on its auto-correction. The goal is to provide reliable corrections without requiring a high level of accuracy, and it seems to work most of the time. When it doesn’t, you can just swipe up to undo the last correction (you can also swipe up or down to go through the list of corrections, if the first one isn’t accurate). This also makes typing foreign, technical or swear words easier, and makes auto-correction slightly less frustrating when you don’t need it.

The “Editor” extension allows you to move the cursor left and right by dragging a bar at the top of your screen. It also adds buttons to quickly cut, copy, select and paste content, although you’ll still have to select the text the usual way.

Another plus is that this keyboard is able to import your contacts’ names, as well as words you use in your social accounts, emails and SMS messages. Unfortunately, Fleksy doesn’t seem to respect the system wide personal dictionaries, which can make switching from/between some keyboards a bit of a hassle. On the other hand, adding and removing words is pretty easy — you just need to swipe up once more after undoing a correction.

Themes and customizability

You are able to choose from a variety of themes: some will change the colors, others will also set an image background for the keyboard. While you’re not able to create your own themes, the available selection covers a wide range. Some extensions also provide additional eye candy, like “Rainbow Pops” which makes key pops colored.

The keyboard’s size can also be reduced to free up some screen space, if you find it too big. You can also hide the bottom bar (which contains the space bar, emoji and return button — the other buttons’ functions can be accessed using alternate methods) on the go by swiping down with two fingers (to show it again, you just need to do the opposite).

Other features

The “Launcher” extension might prove to be useful to some users. It basically acts like a mini launcher, allowing you to switch apps (e.g. messaging apps) easily from your keyboard.

Another neat extension is “Invisible Keyboard”. Not only does it turn your keyboard invisible, as its name applies, it also makes all of the screen available to the foreground app (with the keyboard acting as an overlay). This allows you to type without sacrificing any screen estate (although it will obviously block any clickable content below the keyboard), assuming you can get used to it.


You can find Fleksy’s privacy policy here. You’ll need to have an Internet connection in order to download new languages or use cloud related features.



Google Keyboard


(Note that Google Keyboard and the AOSP keyboard are very similar, with the exception of some features that aren’t available in the AOSP keyboard, such as gesture typing and learning from Google services.)

Google Keyboard is a fairly traditional keyboard at first glance, but it actually comes with quite a bit of additional functionality. You can either type normally or enable gesture typing to swipe words (both can be used at the same time). The latter is quite accurate, and can even be used without lifting your finger at all by gliding over the space bar between words (although that often comes at the cost of accuracy).

To type numbers, you can either long press the top row or switch to the secondary pane. For symbols, you have the choice between switching panes and long pressing the “.” key instead, though the layout being slightly different from the secondary pane can cause some confusion. (You can also swipe from the “?123″ key, which instantly switches to the secondary pane.) If you prefer having a numbers row and more easily accessible symbols, you can enable the PC layout in the settings (unfortunately, this doesn’t provide arrow keys).

Emoji and text emoticons are easily accessible by long pressing the Enter key. Recently used emoji are also saved in the first tab. Additionally, a special dictionary can be installed to suggest emoji in some (very limited) cases.

You can also define text shortcuts through the system’s personal dictionaries, by adding or editing a word/phrase then specifying the shortcut. This allows you to type emails, phone numbers or common phrases more quickly.

Multiple languages

Multiple languages can be easily installed, after which you can switch between them by pressing the language key (if enabled), or long pressing the space bar. Dual language input isn’t supported by Google Keyboard.

Custom layouts can be defined for each language. You can choose from QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, Colemak, Dvorak and PC layouts.

Correcting input and predictions

Corrections seem fairly accurate, and the aggressiveness with which your mistakes get automatically corrected can be customized. The position of the letters is taken into consideration and saved, which is useful if you complete a phrase then want to go back to correct a word. However, it tends to forget those once you start editing the word, which in turn has the effect of turning slightly inaccurate suggestions into completely unrelated ones. You can press the backspace key to undo a correction right after it is made, but Google Keyboard doesn’t provide you with any additional tricks for editing past input.

The system wide custom dictionaries are used and respected. This can be handy if you switch between multiple keyboards that make use of them. Adding a word to the custom dictionary is as easy as tapping it.

Options are provided to add contacts’ names to the list of suggestions, using data from other Google services to learn words you commonly use, and to allow potentially offensive words. That last option still seems to give a higher priority to other words, though, so adding them to your dictionary can also come in handy.

Google Keyboard can offer next word predictions, if the option is enabled, but those seem rather dumb and only take the last word into consideration.

Themes and customizability

Holo and material themes are provided. They each come in two flavors: dark and light. That’s about it for customizing how your keyboard looks, although the material themes do look pretty good.


The standard Google privacy policy applies. You can also opt out of usage statistics if you wish to do so. You need an Internet connection to download additional language packs.



Hacker’s Keyboard


Hacker’s Keyboard is mainly aimed at power users or those who want a PC-like experience. It comes in really handy when you’re in an SSH session thanks to the arrow and function keys (by default, the full PC layout is only used in landscape; you can change this in the settings).

When using the 4-row layout, numbers/symbols input is comparable to the Gingerbread keyboard — you can either long press keys or switch to the secondary pane. If you’re using the full 5-rows layout, however, you basically get your computer’s keyboard: numbers row, arrow keys, symbols that are accessible by long pressing keys or pressing Shift, etc. You can also use a numpad at any time by pressing the “Fn” key, which is very useful when you need to type lots of numbers.

Text shortcuts and emoji input are not supported.

Multiple languages

You can enable multiple languages from the keyboard’s settings, after which you’re able to switch between them by swiping the space bar left or right. Many languages do not have a dictionary available, though — you’ll get the layout and keys, but not the corrections. However, Some additional dictionaries can be downloaded from the Google Play store. Dual language input isn’t possible.

Custom layouts can be chosen for some languages (for example, English supports QWERTY and Dvorak), but not all.

Correcting input and predictions

Corrections are accurate, though they’re not automatic by default. Similarly to Google Keyboard, you can press the backspace key to undo a correction right after it is made.

Fixing past mistakes is a bit trickier than most keyboards, as tapping a misspelt word to correct it will not bring back the list of corrections. You’ll either have to correct the mistake manually, remove the word and type it again, or rely on the Android built-in spell checker (available since ICS).

Hacker’s Keyboard offers no predictions, which might make it less attractive to people who rely on them but would like to have the same fully fledged keyboard for both power and casual use.

Themes and customizability

Hacker’s Keyboard comes with a few themes: Gingerbread, ICS, Stone and Transparent. The keyboard’s size is very customizable, and so are most of its features (to list a few: sent key codes, suggested punctuation, long press pop-up keys; some of these can be very useful when using a terminal or coding on the go). You can also define custom gestures, although the available actions are a bit limited.

Other features

You’ll find all the keys you’d expect to see on your PC’s keyboard (arrows, function keys (F1-F12), Esc key, etc). These are extremely useful when using a terminal app or coding.


Minimal permissions are required. Hacker’s Keyboard does not connect to the Internet at all.



Hodor Keyboard


Hodor. Hodor Hodor Hodor HODOR HODOR.

Multiple languages


Correcting input and predictions








Minuum is designed to take the least amount of screen space possible, but you can switch between the full keyboard and the minimized version with ease by dragging the suggestions bar up or down (or by pressing and holding the keyboard with two fingers).

In the full layout, you can type the letters or swipe up from any letter to input its corresponding secondary key (for example, you can swipe up from the “T” key to type “5”, or from the “V” key for “?”). Common punctuation characters can also be chosen quickly by swiping to the left/right from the “.” key, or by double tapping the space bar — all of this makes typing numbers and symbols pretty fast. You can also access a numpad and more symbols by switching to the secondary pane.

When minimized, Minuum only shows you one row of letters, saving a lot of screen estate. All of the above still applies, with the exception of the numpad. Swiping up can also be used to increased accuracy, as it “zooms” the letters in.

Gestures allow you to delete words by swiping to the left, inserting spaces (and completing the current word) by swiping to the right and going to a new line by swiping up and right. Swiping up and left can either activate voice recognition or change languages, depending on your settings.

Auto-spacing is optional and seems to work well in most cases.

Emoji input is supported, although there isn’t a pane for recently/frequently used emoji (however, if you use the experimental emoji bonus panel, recently used ones are displayed first; this adds an extra row to your keyboard but can be toggled dynamically). If you’re using a vendor themed ROM, there is an option to have Minuum use the Noto font for emoji (the default typeface used by Google). Text shortcuts cannot be defined.

Multiple languages

Only a dozen languages are supported at the moment. You can freely change each language’s layout between QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, Colemak, Dvorak and alphabetical layouts.

Switching languages is easy: you can either long press the space bar, or swipe up and left if you’ve replaced the voice button by the language button. You don’t need to, though, since you can use multiple languages simultaneously and Minuum will guess which language you need rather accurately (and if not, you can always force the language you want).

Correcting input and predictions

Minuum heavily relies on auto-correction, especially when the keyboard is minimized. It’s surprisingly accurate, too. If you want to correct a word, you can go back to it (the experimental cursor bonus panel helps with that) and select another suggestion. Auto-correction can also be turned off with the tap of a button (“sloppy typing”), allowing you to type whatever your heart desires, be it a series of abbreviations or your special lingo.

While you can import words from the Android user dictionary, there doesn’t seem to be a way to view, edit or remove learned words easily. You can make Minuum forget words by long pressing them in the suggestions pane, though. An option is also provided to learn the names of your contacts.

As for predictions, they seem to be very simplistic.

Themes and customizability

Minuum is very customizable — you can choose from a dozen of themes (some even change depending on the app or time of day), or make your own (however, you can’t specify a background image, only colors).

Other than that, you’re able to modify several features. To list a few, you can enable or disable gestures, get rid of the space bar row when Minuum is minimized and customize the keyboard’s height.

Other features

Other than the ones mentioned above, you can also enable bonus panels to edit the clipboard or to share/search for text you’ve typed.

Compact and floating modes are also available, which respectively let you dock the keyboard to the right or left, or freely move it around the screen and resize it. Unfortunately, there is no quick way to switch between the modes.


You can review Minuum’s privacy policy here. An Internet connection is required to download language packs.



Multiling O Keyboard


Typing and swiping are both supported. The tolerance can be configured for each, though they still require more precision compared to other keyboard (especially swiping). Swiping to the space bar between words for continuous input is possible, though it doesn’t seem to work for more than two consecutive words.

Symbols are shown on the main keyboard. You can long press a button or swipe down from it to insert the symbol you want (this works for all secondary characters, not only punctuation), or swipe from the “.” or “,” keys (each shows a different set of symbols; you can customize these symbols as you wish). Typing capitals is done by swiping up instead. The keyboard really makes good use of gestures for quick input.

Several layouts are available (you can even make your own from scratch), and you can easily switch between them at any time by swiping from the space bar. Some of them include a row for numbers, others include arrow keys, etc.

Emoji and text shortcuts are both supported. Add-ons are required for this, and can be installed from the Google Play store or the website. Text shortcuts are defined from the settings screen (a shortcut is to swipe from the gear key to “autotext” on the keyboard). Emoji are separated into several categories (around 30), which can take some time to get used to, but generally makes finding emoji easier. Text emoji and many rarely used symbols are also listed (e.g. ♜ ♘ ♞ ✔ ✓ ✘).

Multiple languages

Language packs are installed from the Google Play store or the website. Switching between them is a breeze, even when you’ve got half a dozen — simply swiping from the space bar can list up to half a dozen languages, allowing you to select any of them easily.

Switching layouts is done in a similar manner, and you can even make your own. Pre-made layouts include QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, Dvorak, Colemak, Neo, Bépo, several variations of QWERTY, a phone keypad and then some.

Correcting input and predictions

Undoing a correction is done by pressing the backspace button after it is made. To learn a word, you can touch it in the suggestions bar. You can also increase or decrease the rank of any word by long pressing it in the suggestions bar then tapping on the option you want.

Selecting previous words to correct them always moves the cursor to the end of the word the first time you try it. This makes going to a certain character harder than it needs to be.

Arrow keys and cursor control keys are easily accessible in any layout by swiping from the gear button, and might be on the main pane in certain layouts as well.

Predictions are non existent at first, but learn from your typing habits as you go. You can also paste any text you want and have the keyboard learn from it, by swiping from the gear key to “Learn”. Default predictions are customizable and can be used for punctuation, dates, copying and pasting from the clipboard and more.

Themes and customizability

Let’s get this out of the way: this keyboard is ridiculously customizable. Pretty much every aspect of it is: fonts and colors, wallpapers, key layouts, long press contents, and a lot more. Don’t like the available layouts? Make your own, from scratch. Many themes can be downloaded from the website, and you’re able to share the ones you make easily.

This can be overwhelming for many users, but the defaults are very usable and many pre-made themes and layouts are available. The help document also covers most of the keyboard’s aspects.

Let’s say it one more time: ridiculously customizable.

Other features

Transformations can be applied to selected text, allowing you to easily quote text or put it between parentheses. Funky text transformations can also be used to translate text, use full width, exotic or emoji characters, change the case of the selection and more.

Using the phonepad can be used to make and input calculations with ease.

Transliteration is available for some languages. Useful dictionaries such as Linux commands and Hinglish can also be downloaded.

Several other features are also available, but many fall within the “crazy customization” category.


Multiling O Keyboard does not have Internet access. Additional languages and add-ons are installed as separate packages.



MyScript Stylus


MyScript Stylus understands your handwriting, and it really is accurate (even without a stylus). Using it is intuitive and works for letters, numbers and symbols, and several gestures are provided to make usage easier (for example, you can go to a new line by swiping down then left).

Unfortunately, that is the only input mode available. It is very useful for language layouts you might not be familiar with (e.g. Arabic) even though you have no problem writing it, but using a traditional keyboard is much faster otherwise.

Text shortcuts and emoji are not supported.

Multiple languages

Several languages are supported, and dictionaries help by providing accurate corrections and suggestions. Switching between languages can be done by tapping the language button, but dual language input is not possible. The layout adapts correctly to RTL languages.

Correcting input and predictions

Correcting input is rather easy — to remove text, you can just scribble it. If you want to replace something, all you need to do is write over it. You can even split words by literally splitting it with your finger, giving you space to write between the two parts, or join them by drawing a bridge between the letters.

Predictions are not supported, and there doesn’t seem to be a custom dictionary for user defined words.

Themes and customizability

Options are provided to modify the text size, color, ink thickness, scrolling speed and baseline position. This allows you to adjust the keyboard for better results, although the looks can’t be heavily customized.


You can read MyScript’s privacy policy here. Full Internet access is required to download additional language data.



NextApp Keyboard


If Hacker’s Keyboard and the AOSP Keyboard had a baby, it would probably look like this. It’s actually based on the AOSP Keyboard (which means it’s also similar to Google Keyboard in many aspects).

NextApp Keyboard supports both normal typing and gesture typing. The latter requires a compatible binary library, which you can usually find as /system/lib/ if you have Google Keyboard installed. Gesture typing is quite accurate. Note that gliding over the space bar cannot be used to separate words.

You can access numbers and symbols by long pressing the top row or tapping the “(+%” button (you can also swipe from this button, which directly switches to the secondary pane). You can also enable a row for numbers from the settings screen or the “mini” configuration pane, without leaving the current application. A pleasing surprise is that doing so actually removes the numbers from the secondary pane completely, and makes all symbols fit on the same page.

You can use emoji and text emoticons by long pressing the Enter key. Emoji you’ve used recently are saved in the first tab. Custom text shortcuts can be defined in the system’s personal dictionaries, as NextApp Keyboard respects that.

Multiple languages

Additional languages can be enabled from the settings menu. Switching between them is done using the language key, or by long pressing the space bar. Simultaneous language input isn’t supported.

Custom layouts can be defined for each language. You can choose from QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, Colemak and Dvorak. The PC layout can be toggled at any time from the mini configuration pane.

Correcting input and predictions

Offered corrections are usually accurate, and you can modify the aggressiveness for automatic correction in the settings. If you want to undo a correction, you can press the backspace key right after it is made. The arrow keys also come in handy to move the cursor when correcting mistakes or trying to select text.

The system user dictionaries are used and respected. The transition from the AOSP keyboard and Google Keyboard are seamless, as defined text shortcuts also work out of the box. Adding a word to the user dictionary only requires a tap.

Contact names can be taken into consideration for corrections, if the option is enabled in the keyboard’s settings. Another option allows offensive words, though adding these to your dictionary might have a better effect.

Next word predictions are offered as an option, though they’re not very smart.

Themes and customizability

You can select one of several themes for the keyboard: Holo, Material Design, Flat and seven more. Other customization options are also available, allowing you to modify the keyboard’s size, typeface, behavior for some terminal apps and then some.

Other features

All keys you’d expect to see on your PC’s keyboard (arrows, function keys (F1-F12), Esc key, etc) and Ctrl- combinations are provided. These are extremely useful when using a terminal app or coding.


NextApp Keyboard can only download files (for language packs), and does not have full Internet access.


NextApp Keyboard is currently in beta, during which paid features can be tried for free.




SwiftKey supports both typing and gesture typing (called “Flow”) — the latter is optional and can be disabled in the settings. Flow is very accurate, even when used to input entire phrases without lifting your finger (this is done by passing by the space bar between words).

Numbers and symbols can be seen on the main keyboard and are accessed by long pressing the corresponding key, or by switching to the secondary pane (which offers a numpad for inputting numbers). The secondary pane’s layout is entirely different from the primary pane’s, which may take some time to get used to. Additionally, a numbers row can be enabled in the settings. Common punctuation can also be quickly inputted by swiping left or right from the “.” button.

If Flow is disabled, two gestures can be used: swiping left deletes the previous word, and swiping down hides the keyboard. Otherwise, long pressing the back space key removes the words one by one.

The keyboard supports emoji and offers a tab for recently used ones, although the emoji pane’s scrolling lags noticeably and doesn’t integrate very well with themes. Emoji predictions can also be enabled in the settings screen, which suggests emoji relevant to the word you’re typing (e.g. typing “smile” suggests the smiling face). It is not possible to define text shortcuts.

SwiftKey inserts a space after every word or punctuation. This behavior cannot be modified, and could be annoying to some users.

Multiple languages

You can install and enable additional languages from the settings activity. SwiftKey lets you type simultaneously in up to three languages (you don’t need to switch manually between them).

You can modify this behavior by changing one of the languages’ layout, but it’s not possible to separate the different languages while having them use the same layout.

Available custom layouts are: QWERTY, QWERTZ, QZERTY, AZERTY, Bépo, Colemak and Dvorak.

Correcting input and predictions

Corrections and predictions are excellent, and are what made SwiftKey so popular in the first place. New words are learned automatically. While you can’t turn this off, long pressing a suggestion is enough to make SwiftKey forget it.

Selecting previous words is a bit wonky — pressing the middle of a word to correct it, for example, will move the cursor to its end the first time you do it (tapping again works as intended). This can make correcting a letter slightly more frustrating that it needs to be, but you can get used to it.

An additional row for arrows keys can be added, which can help with positioning the cursor and correcting mistakes.

The Android user dictionary is not used, and contact names don’t appear to be imported.

Themes and customizability

Fifteen free themes come pre-installed with the keyboard. Additional themes, paid and free, can be downloaded from the SwiftKey Store. A few themes put the designers’ skills into serious doubt, but you can also find some good choices.

Other features

SwiftKey Cloud allows you to import new words from sent emails and social networking posts. It also backs your data up and sync it across multiple devices. Finally, it enables “Trending Phrases”, which makes SwiftKey aware of trending expressions for predictions.

You can also choose from three different keyboard modes without leaving the current application, by long pressing the “123” key: “Full” is the traditional mode, “Thumb” splits the keyboard for easier typing with your thumbs, and “Compact” shifts the key to the left or right to make one finger typing easier.

You can also undock and resize the keyboard with the same method as above.


You can find SwiftKey’s privacy policy here. An Internet connection is required to download additional languages, themes, and to access cloud related features.





Swype’s intended input method is, as you might have guessed, swiping, which is pretty accurate. You can also type normally or use handwriting, although handwriting recognition is lacking in accuracy.

Several gestures are available and make swiping much easier. For punctuation, simply swipe from the one you want to the space bar (though this starts inserting spaces before punctuation when you’re trying to input more than one). You can also capitalize any letter by swiping over the keyboard after reaching it.

Swiping from the Swype key to the numbers row also switches to the numpad, allowing you to type numbers with ease. Alternatively, you can long press keys to access secondary characters, or switch to the symbols pane.

Swype does not support emoji or text shortcuts, but there’s a pop-up for text emoticons. You can also swipe over the relevant keys (e.g. “:”, “-” and “(“) and Swype will suggest the correct text emoticon.

Multiple languages

Several languages are supported (but not all can be used for handwriting). Switching between languages is done by long pressing the space bar, but switching back to the last language is as easy as swiping from the Swype key to the space bar. Dual language support is also supported.

You can change each language’s layout to one of the following: QWERTY, QWERTZ and AZERTY.

Correcting input and predictions

A pane with cursor keys and extra buttons for cursor and clipboard control can be used (Swype-“?123″) to make editing and correcting input easier. Swype also tries to suggest smarter corrections when you go back to a word, by looking at the word before and after it.

To learn a new word, you have to tap it in the suggestions bar then tap “Add to dictionary” (you can also set the keyboard to automatically learn new words). Forgetting words is done by long pressing a suggestion. You can also edit the Swype’s dictionary from the settings menu. Importing the Android user dictionary or contact names is not possible.

Next word predictions are optional but fairly simple.

Themes and customizability

A dozen themes can be used with Swype, but you cannot create your own. There are also a few customization options, such as changing the keyboard’s height

Other features

Swype uses its own engine for voice dictation, “Dragon Dictation”.

Optional cloud features allow you to backup and sync learned words, automatically update Swype with trending words, or learn from social networks (Facebook and Twitter) and sent emails.

Additional gestures are provided to select all text (Swype-A), and to copy (Swype-C), cut (Swype-X) or paste (Swype-P) text, as well as launching Google Maps (Swype-G-M) for some reason and searching for the highlighted text (Swype-S). Tapping the Swype symbol also selects the current word, which can be used to easily replace it. Automatic spacing can be disabled by swiping from the Swype symbol to the backspace key — this is useful for compound words.


You can find Nuance’s privacy policy here (Nuance is the company behind Swype). An Internet connection is required to download additional languages, to use Dragon dictation, and to access cloud related features. Data collection is optional and you must opt-in for it.



Thumb Keyboard


Typing with Thumb Keyboard is quite comfortable, and the different layouts and key spacing settings can be used to make it fit your needs.

Swiping up, down, left or right can be assigned to custom actions such as deleting words, moving the cursor or bringing up text shortcuts. Sensitivity is configurable as well, should you keep activating gestures by mistake.

Numbers and symbols are shown as secondary keys on the main keyboard, or even as primary keys depending on the used layout. Either long press the relevant key or switch to the secondary pane (“?123″) to input them. An additional row can be toggled at any time from the keyboard, and can be configured to contain special characters and shortcuts (e.g. arrow keys, copy/paste, etc) as you desire.

Text shortcuts can be defined and used from the keyboard. Custom labels can be assigned for each for easy identification. Text substitutions are separate, but also available from the settings screen.

Emoji aren’t supported at the moment. Typing quickly sometimes confuses the keyboard (for example, “kekeyboard” is typed instead of “keyboard”).

Multiple languages

Switching between installed languages is done by sliding the space bar, after you’ve installed them from the settings activity. Dual language input is not possible.

Available alternative keyboard layouts are QWERTY, QWERTZ and AZERTY.

Correcting input and predictions

Corrections are pretty good. Corrected words are subtly underlined, and the original word you typed is saved and can be easily restored. Backspacing after a correction is made also undoes it.

To teach the keyboard new words, you can tap it twice in the suggestions bar. Removing words from the dictionary can only be done from the settings.

Words from the Android user dictionary and contact names are automatically imported, although text substitutions are not and must be redefined manually.

Next word predictions are sort of available — your typing habits are learned, but only used once you start typing the next word (for example, if you often type “XDA developers”, “developers” will be the first suggestion after you type “XDA d”.

Themes and customizability

Around 25 themes are available (some are built-in, others need to be downloaded). Custom colors, fonts and backgrounds can also be used to modify parts or all of the theme.

Many other customization options are also offered, such as the ability to modify the keyboard’s size, edit secondary symbols, pick different layouts for portrait and landscape, etc.

Other features

Several different layouts can be used: other than the standard layout, you can dynamically switch to large and compact split layouts, giving you direct access to numbers, punctuation or arrow keys. Tablets and phones each have specifically designed layouts.


An Internet connection is required to download additional languages and themes.





TouchPal supports both typing and gesture typing (called “Curve”). The latter is optional and fairly accurate.

To input secondary characters (numbers and symbols), you can either long press the primary key or swipe it up or down for the top and bottom rows. Inputting numbers and punctuation is made much quicker by this feature. You can also switch to the secondary pane, which also has a numpad.

The keyboard supports emoji (recently used ones are also stored in a separate tab), “emoji art” (similar to ASCII art, but uses emoji) and text emoticons. You can access the emoji screen by either tapping the emoji button, or by flicking the space bar up. Emoji suggestions can also be enabled, making them come up when relevant keywords are typed (for example, typing “smile” suggests the smiling face). Text shortcuts are not supported.

Multiple languages

You can install extra languages in the settings screen. Switching languages is usually done by swiping the space bar, but this can be configured if you prefer having an extra key for it.

Mixed language input allows each language to have a secondary language for which words are also predicted/corrected from (for example, you could use English and French, and then English and Spanish, as two different layouts).

Correcting input and predictions

Adding a word to the custom dictionary is done by tapping it in the suggestions bar (you can also enable auto saving). To edit or remove a word, you can long press it when it comes up in the suggestions or via the settings screen. The Android user dictionary is automatically imported when you first use the keyboard, and you can also import contact names and have TouchPal learn from messages and Twitter.

You can also access the “Edit” screen, which offers arrow keys and buttons to select text more accurately.

Prediction is optional. It learns from what you type and gets better… if you’re predictable. “Wave” is an interesting feature that puts predictions directly on the keyboard (e.g. “next” appear next to the “n”), and lets you swipe from it to the space bar for faster input.

Themes and customizability

TouchPal comes with two built-in themes and an option to set a custom image as the keyboard’s background. You can download more themes from the TouchPal store (paid and free themes are available).

Additional options can be used to customize the keyboard’s size and font, as well as other minor settings.

Other features

TouchPal lets you choose from three main layouts: PhonePad (T9), Full and T+ (which combines two letters and one symbol on each key). You can do this without leaving the currently opened app. For the Full layout, you can also choose between QWERTY, QWERTZ and AZERTY.

You can pin several buttons to the top bar, which also acts as a suggestions bar once you start typing. These include buttons to quickly access: layouts, the edit screen (offers cursor and clipboard control), themes and more.

Add-ons (currently limited to a custom emoji skin) and sub dictionaries can be downloaded from the TouchPal store. Sub dictionaries add or prioritize jargon (e.g. words related to computers or to the World Cup) or place names (such as Chicago locations).

Word trends are enabled by default, and make your keyboard aware of trending words automatically.

TouchPal Premium ($2.99/year) gives you access to backup and sync features, as well as cloud predictions — smarter predictions from the Internet. A 7-days trial is available.


You can find TouchPal’s privacy policy here. An Internet connection is required to download additional languages, dictionaries, themes, addons, and to access cloud related features.



Summary Table

Note that this table oversimplifies some aspects and completely omits others. It is not meant as a means to compare the different keyboards, but to provide you with a quick idea to see if a keyboard might be suitable for you (for example, if you only want a keyboard that supports emoji, you’ll be able to see which keyboards to check quickly).

For additional details, refer to the in-depth review.

Gesture input Numbers row Text shortcuts Emoji Multiple language input Predictions Themes
Google Keyboard
Hacker’s Keyboard
Hodor Keyboard
Multiling O Keyboard
MyScript Stylus Handwriting
NextApp Keyboard
Swype Swiping & Handwriting
Thumb Keyboard

The post Guide: In-Depth Look at the Best Android Keyboards appeared first on xda-developers.

by GermainZ at February 05, 2015 04:55 PM

January 31, 2015

Send Links to Any Nearby Device with CaastMe


There already are many solutions on the Google Play store if you want to send a link to one of your devices — but what if you wanted to do it quickly without having to install any software or logging in to a website on the recipient end? Most apps require you to do either or both, which can be a hassle (or even a security risk) in some cases.

Luckily, XDA Forum Member wyemun has developed CaastMe. Inspired by how WeChat and WhatsApp use QR codes, the developer took it up as a challenge to code the website and Android app in less than a day. Don’t be fooled by the short time it took, though, as CaastMe is actually very polished and simple to use.

You probably want to know how it works at this point. After you’ve installed CaastMe, only two steps are actually required:

  • First, go to (this works on desktop browsers as well as some mobile browsers, although you may need to enable the “View desktop site” option if you have any display problems). A QR code will appear on your screen.
  • From your mobile, share the link you want to CaastMe. This will instantly open your camera, allowing you to scan the QR code. As soon as you do that, you’ll be redirected to the link you just shared.

You can also view the screencast below if you’d like to see it in action. If that’s not enough, you’ll be pleased to know that sharing other data (such as images) is planned for the future.

If you’re looking for a hassle free way to share links that doesn’t involve installing software everywhere or dealing with logins, head over to the CaastMe forum thread now to grab it and give it a try.

The post Send Links to Any Nearby Device with CaastMe appeared first on xda-developers.

by GermainZ at January 31, 2015 02:29 AM

November 20, 2014

Droid Turbo Review

Let me tell you that first of all the Droid Turbo's definitely amazing phone. I personally was going to hold up the Nexus 6 but then I got cold feet and decided to pull the trigger on this phone and have not been disappointed. So far the battery is definitely the most impressive feature. Basically the Nexus and the Turbo are basically the same they have the same processor the Nexus has the ISO camera clocking in at 13 megapixels and the turbo has a 20 megapixel camera with no ISO however coming from a G2 the pictures are definitely fine and dandy. The screen is extremely awesome except that YouTube for some god awful reason doesn't have 1440p or 1080p support which is super annoying. Another thing that I would like to point out about the turbo is it the battery literally is incredible I would definitely consider myself a power user in this phone easily and I mean easily last a day and a half to two days there have been several times where I fell asleep without charging my phone woke up with 20 percent and it got me through about 10 hours or so but that's with me probably only being on it for about an hour but even still that's impressive. The battery is good now so we can only imagine what kind of improvements will see when lollipop rolls out which I'm hoping will be soon the camera should also improve with that considering google rolling out their new API for photography. Overall I'd say that between the Nexus and the turbo its more of just if you want a 6 screen or 5.2 inch screen. If you have any questions or concerns please feel add comment on this post and I will get back to you soon as possible thank you for reading

by Captain Clyde ( at November 20, 2014 03:37 AM

November 16, 2014

HTC Re first look

HTC Re first look

I’ve put off the real first look post on this camera until I had the finished product in my hands. I did have a video and post ready to go after the Double Exposure event. I didn’t post it, not because the hardware and software were bad, but because they weren’t finished. Seeing an unfinished product doesn’t help anyone decide to buy said product.

Before I continue, it should be noted this is only after a few hours of owning it and a bunch of sampling. A full review will be forthcoming. I’m having some fun with it so far, so let’s see what this little thing is all about.


I felt it was my duty to pick up the blue Re. I am a Maple Leafs fan after all! It almost matches my Reimer sweater. It measures a hair under four inches tall, an inch and a half between the edge of the lens and the edge of the capture button and the barrel diameter is 3/4 of an inch wide (Metric: ~10 x 3.81 x 1.905cm). There are only two buttons, a shutter button and a slow motion button. The micro-USB for charging and micro-SD slot are both on the bottom.

I purchased a 32GB card for the Re, as 8GB isn’t a hell of a lot for video. I’m not sure yet how I’ll be using this, but there are some truths that always apply: You can never have enough SD cards and it’s better safe than sorry. Changing the card involves removing the waterproof cover, giving the card a push and pulling it out. In practice this isn’t a lot of fun. The cover is continually in the way as it’s tethered to the bottom of the camera and the card doesn’t eject far enough for me. Tweezers would have helped, but I got it eventually.

Sample Photos

Rather than make a usual gallery I’m going to post a couple and talk about them a bit. Context is important in this part.

Normal Stills

RE CameraRE Camera


It seems a little hit and miss here. The first photo is the Re taking a picture of the live view on my HTC M8. That one came out a bit fuzzy and off. The latter, however, is of acceptable quality. If you’re expecting full frame or APS-C quality out of a camera with a f/2.8 16 megapixel sensor, prepare to be disappointed.

Ultra Wide Angle

RE Camera RE Camera RE Camera


Of the last two photos, one is with wide angle and one isn’t. Can you guess which one? This ultra wide angle setting was something I was eager to test and left me wanting in the end. All my test shots leave a huge fisheye effect on the photo. The picture of the bench seat shows just how exacerbated it can be. In the Re app, it is possible to turn a wide angle shot into a regular shot, but something curious happens there:

Screenshot (01_27PM, Nov 16, 2014)

It is actually named “defisheye”. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I’m saying know what’s going on here with the wide angle shots. There are surely some really creative people out there who could use this to their artistic advantage. That or make every iPhone bend…




I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t admit my stupidity here. I never turned ultra wide angle off before I shot this video. I’ll do a proper comparison for the full review, but the big takeaway here (aside from dat fisheye) is the audio is actually quite good. The microphone is essentially a pinhole affair atop the camera. As I walked through those crisp New York Autumn leaves, you can hear the crunch really well. I’m not disappointed at all with the Re video functionality.

I realize there is a lot missing here. It is important to remember this is not the full review. This is playtime for us, and in a week or so of actually using the Re properly there will be much much more to say. Stay tuned for that fun!

Land of Droid -

by Scott Kenyon at November 16, 2014 07:37 PM

October 31, 2014

Chrome Beta easter egg game

Chrome Beta easter egg game

Ever wanted to see a dinosaur jump over a cactus? No, well me either but Google has made it into a game of sorts. The new easter egg in chrome beta allows you to play that game. Just turn on airplane mode, go to the chrome beta, type in, and click on that dinosaur.

Warning: My phone opens chrome beta in quite a weird way I am using a oneplus one with mahdi rom but I wanted to show off the easter egg anyways. 


Land of Droid -

by Tyler Maciaszek at October 31, 2014 12:06 PM

October 07, 2014

New Tech mine hard difficulty

Another update went live in the market last night. This one fixes various issues introduced in the last update, but the biggest change is to add a hard difficulty to the tech mine.

Hard levels are variations on the normal set, but… harder. In some cases this just means that there are fewer ores, but in others there are subtle differences, large layout changes or even objective changes in place. If it is popular I’ll try and do the same for the rainforest pack.

You can also now play tech mine in freeplay mode (although there is a bug that means you need to go into the mission pack level select screen first, otherwise you’ll get a crash when starting the level – this will be fixed in the net update).

Other changes:

– Fixed visibility beaneath miner when near an edge (the tile beneath you now reveals where approaching an edge)
– Fixed pro/extreme difficulty mix up
– Made objective stars harder to click accidentally
– Improved some menu layouts
– Fixed some bugs in the map screen
– Fixed signs not appearing
– Fixed harold short changing you when he buys multiple items
– Fixed various bugs with photography in tech mine
– Performance improvements

by Psym at October 07, 2014 11:06 PM

September 28, 2014

Reimagining Play: Interview with PlayMG’s Taylor Cavanah

Last month, we brought you a review of the MG, an Android powered handheld gaming system designed for casual games. The combination of vanilla Android and the MG’s custom parental controls made the device a compelling option for gamers young and old alike, and its comparatively low price combined with the vast Android software library offered an unbeatable value.

The team behind the MG had obviously done their homework and targeted the product to a very specific market which was otherwise being ignored. Rather than throwing out a half-realized device that didn’t resonate with any particular use case, the team engineered the hardware and software experience to their target audience to great effect.

Taylor Cavanah

Taylor Cavanah

To learn more about the focus and vision which made the device a reality, we got in touch with MG’s physicist turned meta-gamer Taylor Cavanah.

Creating the MG

The Powerbase: Taylor, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Can you start by telling our readers a bit about yourself and your background?

Taylor: I’m a physicist and started my career in Nanotechnology at Zyvex.  After finding some success in developing the nanoprobing market for the semiconductor industry I decided to strike out on my own.  My buddies and I started our own software company – Locai – and a year ago we combined forces with the hardware and business guys from ACTScom to launch PlayMG.

The Powerbase: What exactly is your role at PlayMG? What are your day to day responsibilities like?

Taylor: My specific role involves game/app design, platformsoftware design, business development, innovation, and as is the case with all start ups – many more roles.  Day to day I was either talking with game houses, working with the hardware guys to design the user experience, writing the story behind our game within the gaming device app Origins, looking for interesting apps to work with, working with marketing to craft the messaging behind these features we were building, and testing devices in every possible way.

The Powerbase: PlayMG has no qualms about the fact it has targeted the MG to younger gamers. Why do you think the younger gamer is so important? What makes the MG a better option than, say, mom’s old smartphone?

Taylor: Every one has a slightly different opinion on this but for me the younger gamers make the most sense because they can’t have phones.  Whether their parents don’t want them or can’t afford the data plans, there are a lor of younger gamers who love apps but can’t get access to them.  The “hand me down” argument is definitely valid.  I can hand down my phone and just remove the plan and then they have a smart device.  That’s where our added benefits factor in to the equation.  You can’t get Family Collaboration, SpendSmart, or the Origins game in a hand me down.  And sometimes more importantly, you can’t get that “awe” moment when your son or daughter opens up your repackaged device from 2 years ago.

Android and the MG

The Powerbase: Its differences aside, the majority of the MG’s software is straight Android. Would it be safe to say that, if it wasn’t for the open nature of Android, the MG wouldn’t exist in its current form? Would have putting this same hardware out with a proprietary operating system have gotten you as far as Android has?

Taylor: There is no way we would exist without Android.  The barrier of entry previously was just too high.  We got a solid and awe inspiring product to market in 9 months.  Core to that was not having to build an entire OS.  Not just in terms of getting something to market but that greatly helped us focus our time and money where it mattered – on the added benefits like Family Collaboration and Origins.  This is what I love about open source – you get to make products with extremely well designed experiences where it matters.

The Powerbase: One of the biggest selling points early on was that the MG would be a vanilla Android device, meaning it would be as close to AOSP as possible. In the end the MG delivered on that promise, and is one of the few non-Nexus devices available running stock Android. Why was running stock Android so important for the MG?

Taylor: Part of that answer has to do with my previous answer – it’s just easier to not build stuff you don’t need.  I think everyone can point to some larger companies that have large engineering staffs that have to build stuff because those salaries are being spent no matter what.  Then you get a lot of customization away from stock.  But most of that is useless and provides no value to the customer experience.  A lot of engineers also like the job security that building all of this custom stuff gives them.  They will always be needed because only they know how this version of flavored Android operates.  For us it was exactly that overhead that we didn’t want.  If we build our own flavor of Android then every new app or platform we create down the road has to take that into account.  We had to keep our focus on what mattered for the end user.

The Powerbase: From a development perspective, stock Android is generally preferable to manufacturer modified builds, but what about the end user? It’s no secret that the most popular Android devices (such as Samsung’s Galaxy line) make use of manufacturer modifications to their interface and applications, so the public doesn’t seem to mind. Do you ever worry that shipping with stock Android rather than a build with more visual flair and streamlined functionality pleases the developers at the expense of the end users?

Taylor: I have never believed that popularity of a device has anything to do with how well it is designed or received by customers.  The large software guys have proven time and again that being big in a space and having a ton of money can make up for a lot of deficiencies.  I say this because I don’t believe customers buy the Galaxy line because of the manufacturer improvements – most customers have never seen stock Android so they don’t know any better.  My guess is the commercial bashing the iPhone (hilariously with the parents in line) did a lot more than the user experience.  From what I’ve seen all of the added modifications make little difference to the real end users (not us tech types who are too deep in the space).  We found you could do an amazing amount of things just using the widget system in Android to change the user experience – without huge teams to build and then manage modifications.

The Powerbase:  Some would say that shipping the device with vanilla Android only makes sense if it’s kept up to date with AOSP (such as the Nexus line), but the MG is still on 4.0.4. Why hold the MG back? Are there plans on updating to Jelly Bean (and beyond)?

Taylor: We will update to Jelly Bean.  But with such a low saturation of Jelly Bean and many apps still not upgraded for the experience it doesn’t make sense to expend the effort.  Again we’ve got to focus on that end user experience and the only people ever asking for Jelly Bean are analysts or the random parent who just saw some article that mentioned the new Jelly Bean thingy for Android.

Expanding Android Gaming

The Powerbase: One of the best features of the MG, at least for parents, is unquestionably the Family Collaboration System. While it currently sets the MG apart from the competition, would PlayMG consider bringing it to generic Android devices? Perhaps charging a monthly subscription fee when used on non-MG hardware?

Taylor: We are always weighing the pros and cons of releasing some of the proprietary apps to the Play Store.  Right now we only have to manage one device, we get to ignore fragmentation, and we have a competitive advantage.  I don’t see us releasing the apps until we are much more established.

The Powerbase: An advantage of putting out an Android based gaming system is, of course, that you aren’t responsible for developing or publishing games for it (unlike traditional game consoles). That said, are there plans to talk to developers about MG optimized games? Is that already happening?

Taylor: Nothing that I can talk about but we definitely have plans and some preliminary talks about using our PlayMG IP to create games.  Any game developers interested (especially if they want to do something outside of the normal bounds of gaming) should get in touch with us.

The Powerbase: You can’t talk about Android gaming anymore without mentioning the OUYA; while it’s aiming for a completely different market than the MG, are there any parallels you draw between them? Do you see families owning both devices in the future?

Taylor: Mine arrives in 3 weeks (if I had more time and money I would have gotten a developer version).  I would love to work with OUYA in the future and I do believe that console gaming and portable gaming will always be with us.  Where the hardware, software, and interfaces end up who knows but for now there are many opportunities that could be explored between the two companies.  For the next year though I’m guessing both of us will be too busy to pursue them.

Looking Ahead

The Powerbase: A common criticism of the MG is that it lacks physical controls. This was a design decision based on the intended userbase for the MG, but it’s also undeniable that there are hardcore gamers out there that would appreciate an MG-like device with physical input. Is this a challenge PlayMG might take up in the future? Perhaps a device like the Sony Xperia Play, but in a non-contract form like the MG?

Taylor: I don’t see that happening.  Our target user is not hardcore and in fact probably did not grow up with a game system that had controllers.  But at an even deeper philosophical level (get ready for the fan boy to come out) I think the portable gaming systems with controls aren’t just missing the mark but don’t really have a mark to hit.  Portable gaming is about the casual experience on the go or that little block of entertainment that you carry around in your pocket.  I have so many different serious game devices where I can have mind blowingly immersive experiences – but that’s not what you want in a portable gaming device.  At the end of the day we talked to a bunch of “gamers” in our demographic and they wanted a device they could put in their pocket versus a device that let them play games designed for pre-touch devices.

The Powerbase: If it’s not giving too much away, what can you say about the future of PlayMG and the MG itself? Anything current or future owners should be looking out for?

Taylor: We have some great plans for the Family Collaboration System – making it much more collaborative.  A lot of parents and even kids have asked for expanded features here.  I’m most excited about expanding the portable fun in the device.  The entire industry as a whole is barely scratching the surface of what you can do with portable gaming.  We have some very interesting things planned for making shared portable gaming experiences like no one has seen before.  Unfortunately I can’t say much more than that.

Thanks to Taylor and the entire PlayMG team for their assistance and professionalism while we worked on the original hardware review and this interview. We’re very interested in seeing where the future takes PlayMG, keep an eye out here on The Powerbase for future coverage of this unique company and its products.

by Tom Nardi at September 28, 2014 06:47 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! 



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 September 28, 2014 06:47 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.



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

by eur0b0t at July 17, 2014 10:41 AM

June 27, 2014

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.


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 eur0b0t at June 17, 2014 07:30 PM

June 02, 2014

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.


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 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 ( at February 24, 2014 07:21 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 ... Read more

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.

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);

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

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 ... Read more

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) {
     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:
     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();

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

    case MotionEvent.ACTION_POINTER_DOWN:

    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);
  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);

     // 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 and
// last comment in
//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.

    case MotionEvent.ACTION_CANCEL: {
      mActivePointerId = INVALID_POINTER_ID;

    return true;

 private void reset(){
   aPosX = 0;
   aPosY = 0;
   aLastTouchX = 0;
   aLastTouchY = 0;


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

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 ( 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 ( at July 30, 2013 04:48 PM

July 08, 2013

Disney’s The Lone Ranger Game Limps onto Google Play

lone ranger gameAnother week passes, and another movie tie-in game gets released. This week it’s The Lone Ranger game, and it’s from Disney, so it’s certainly something that grabbed our attention. The Long Ranger game takes place in a world full of outlaws, and you’ll help the Lone Ranger out by taking out bad guys and completing simple quests. The game bills itself as a “3D Role Playing Adventure” and while they got the 3D part right, I would hesitate to call the game adventurous. The Lone Ranger game is energy/time based, and you’ll spend most of your time tapping to search for objects or shoot bad guys. There are duels, but they aren’t much fun and get repetitive quick. It’s also a ‘freemium’ game so be prepared to drop some dough if you run out of juice and want to keep playing.The reviews for the new Lone Ranger movie have been less than kind, and the same can be said for the reviews of The Lone Ranger game. It’s looks good, but there’s not a lot of fun to be had unfortunately. Disney has put out some outstanding Android games, so I’m going to give them a pass on this one, and suggest you do the same as well as the Lone Ranger game is definitely a dud. If you’re in the mood to play a game on autopilot you can pick up Disney’s The Lone Ranger game for free on Google Play. The Lone Ranger

by Adam Field at July 08, 2013 10:35 PM

June 30, 2013

Chocolate Liberation Front releases Figaro Pho Fear Factory for Android

figaro.pho.fear.factory-androidSome people are scared of things like spiders while others have a horrible fear of clowns or thick moustaches. Figaro Pho is just that type of person, and he’s even got a popular ABC show to prove it. He also has his own Android game with the recently released Figaro Pho Fear Factory.

by Adam Field at June 30, 2013 10:13 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.


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

Monoprice 8320 Earbuds Deliver at a Low Price


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

April 08, 2013

Switch The Party On with Native Union’s Bluetooth Speaker

With Native Union’s SWITCH Bluetooth wireless speaker, you’ll be able to share your favorite music with everyone in the room. It’s also a great way to amplify games and movies from Bluetooth-enabled devices, and it can be used as a professional conference call solution with its full duplex microphone.

amwiblog nativeunion switch beach sm Switch The Party On with Native Unions Bluetooth SpeakerDesigned by professional sound engineers to ensure exceptional sound and optimal clarity throughout the frequency range, the SWITCH features three powerful speakers — including an active sub-woofer and has an enhanced bass-reflex system. Featuring an intuitive volume control the SWITCH also enables you to effortlessly alternate between music and calls for up to 14 hours at a time. The battery is so powerful, the SWITCH can also function as a power bank for your mobile devices.

The SWITCH can be used either vertically or horizontally, and it features a soft touch exterior that’s available in multiple colors. Check it out today, and get your party started.

April 08, 2013 01:00 AM

March 26, 2013

Jabra Adds a New Dimension of Sound

Delivering state-of-the-art design, ease-of-use, and outstanding sound quality, Jabra’s newest corded and wireless stereo headphones are perfect for hard-wearing, everyday use and portability. The lineup includes the over-the-head Jabra Revo — available in corded and Wireless versions — and the small but tough in-ear Jabra Vox.

amwiblog jabra revowireless sm Jabra Adds a New Dimension of Sound

The Jabra Revo Wireless

Jabra has upped the ante sonically with the addition of Dolby Digital Plus technology for all three models. With Jabra’s exclusive Sound App for iOS and Android devices, you’ll enjoy a richer and fuller sound that is often missing in digitally compressed audio, breathing new life into your favorite music while giving it extra depth and dimension.

Jabra Revo Corded and Wireless

Both the Jabra Revo Wireless (a 2013 red dot design award winner) and Jabra Revo corded headphones (the latter available in gray and white) are solidly constructed using an aluminium frame, steel hinges, and a shatter-proof headband for extreme flexibility. Both the corded and Wireless versions are super comfortable with a padded headband and plush, memory foam ear cups. They feature a foldable design for quick, compact storage and come with a detachable cord and USB charging for convenience.

Play or pause music, skip tracks, and take calls with ease by using in-line controls on the corded version instead of searching around for your phone. The Revo Wireless utilizes both Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC) technologies to pair with your device, and its Turntable Touch Control allows you to easily play, skip, or pause your music while also managing calls.

amwiblog jabra vox sm Jabra Adds a New Dimension of Sound

The corded Jabra Vox

Jabra Vox

Size matters… especially when earphones so small command massive sound like Jabra Vox. Optimized for superior sound and performance with portable devices, the Jabra Vox really packs a punch. Get the perfect fit with specially designed ColorCore EarGels for enhanced comfort and deep sound. Vox’s earbuds are engineered to rest comfortably for extended use. The Vox also includes in-line controls for playing or pausing music as well as taking calls.

Dolby Digital Plus

With Jabra’s exclusive Sound App (available for iOS and Android devices), Dolby Digital Plus adds that extra depth and dimension to your music — extending bass performance and enhancing high frequencies so your music retains its clarity.

The Jabra Sound App automatically identifies your music files so it’s easy to get started. Simply download the App, and you’re ready to go. Use the App to create and browse through playlists, share music on Facebook or Twitter and adjust the graphic equalizer so you can play your tracks as you want to hear them.

Find the right headphone for your needs today, whether it be the corded in-ear Vox, corded over-the-head Revo (in gray and white), or the Revo Wireless for the ultimate in freedom.

March 26, 2013 03:56 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:

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:

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.

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, 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 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 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”);

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 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);
                      //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 ( at July 04, 2012 03:00 AM

June 26, 2012

Kikoriki: The Beginning

Kikoriki: The Beginning [by HeroCraft] is yet another arcade adventure android game from the people that brought you Dragon and Dracula. The game is based on the Russian cartoon series “Smeshariki”, but the show is known by different names in other countries.

Kikoriki - GameplayKikoriki - Gameplay

The characters of the animated series become superheroes in this adventure, which is always fun for kids and adults. Children will probably enjoy it more than adults due to the excruciatingly child friendly atmosphere of the game. However, some grown-ups might give it a go just to try out the various super powers each hero possesses.

Kikoriki - GameplayKikoriki - Gameplay

Your mission is to vanquish evil and thus save the boring grown up world from destruction. How does one do that? Well, by working together of course, just like best friends should! The power of friendship is demonstrated in the game by allowing the player to switch between two characters during gameplay and use their individual super powers to solve puzzles, defeat bosses and do anything to complete the level.

Kikoriki - GameplayKikoriki - Gameplay

The three chapters of the story take you from the happy land of Kikoriki to the boring grey Megapolis. Each chapter tells a different story and allows you to play various characters. The game has brightly colored, simple and yet well drawn cartoon style graphics with smooth animation. The controls might take a bit of getting used to, the joystick in particular. I do like the soundtrack, which reminded me of the music from good old cartoons like Tom & Jerry. Kikoriki will only set you back $1, unless you don’t really love your children that much, in which case you can opt for the lite version. Either way, the game will help keep your kids preoccupied and will not only help them learn about friendship and growing up, but will also teach them that if you touch purple butterflies it will make you sneeze stars.

by Gamer-K at June 26, 2012 04:44 PM

Dragon and Dracula

Dragon and Dracula [by HeroCraft] is a fun and challenging arcade android game that is sure to touch the hearts of the Mario and Spyro the Dragon generation. It takes the jumping, coin collecting and shrooms – the inspiration for many 90’s games – from Mario, giving the role of the hero to an increasingly awesome dragon, whose job is to defeat Dracula.

Dragon and Dracula - GameplayDragon and Dracula - Gameplay

The fact that you start the game with just a little baby dragon that jumps can be disappointing, at first. However, as you progress through the 25 levels of the game, learning new skills, collecting artifacts and battling enemies, you will see the little guy go through three stages of evolution. With every new form the dragon grows, acquiring fire breathing, flying, climbing and head bashing abilities, not to mention a mean look.

Dragon and Dracula - GameplayDragon and Dracula - Gameplay

The dragon’s natural abilities are enhanced with the always popular temporary perks such as invulnerability, increased speed, regeneration and many more. They will be of great help on the quest to destroy the Dark Lord’s minions and defeat the legendary vampire that is Dracula. Gamers who find the adventure to be unfulfilling can enjoy some mini games that are unlocked during gameplay.

Dragon and Dracula - Gameplay

Controls might take a couple of deaths to get used to and actually made me play with my tongue out, which I have not done in a while. The menu is very well thought through, easy to navigate and has all the information on game controls, settings, stats and sharing options. Thanks to the simple yet visually pleasing and familiar graphics, the gameplay is smooth. Not a fan of the soundtrack though, which sounds like old Japanese game techno music. For only $1 Dragon and Dracula has a lot to offer with tricky levels, epic boss fights, addictive mini games and main character customizations. If you are just looking for a fun adventure or want to prove yourself on a global scale, this is the bargain to go for.

by Gamer-K at June 26, 2012 04:33 PM

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 ( 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