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October 01, 2014

Sony to Extend its AOSP Program to Other Devices

AOSP

Sony will be offering its users the possibility to use AOSP ROMs as an alternative to the currently offered, skinned firmware. This is the result of agreement made with FXP group associated with both XDA and the CyanogenMod team, which took place a few years ago. One of the leaders of the project, XDA Senior Recognized Developer jerpelea, is heading this operation and was hired by Sony to lead the AOSP program.

AOSP support isn’t something new to Sony. Currently this Japanese OEM supports five devices—mainly flagship devices, but also the Xperia L, which is a popular mid-range device. Sony and Alin Jerpelea are planning to extend the program to other devices, which are yet to be released. Jerpelea expressed his pride in FXPs cooperation with developers from all around the world. Sony is offering its source code (device tree and kernel with a proper changelog) as a reference to other developers working on custom ROMs popular here at XDA.

Jerpelea emphasized the importance of the open source in the world of Android. Such an approach towards developers can bring only good things. FXP is a great example, since their developers made lots of contributions into the AOSP tree. Sony is willing to train more developers by releasing its source code and offering them resources to learn. One of Jerpelea’s responsibilities is creating guides and tutorials regarding Sony smartphones and tablets. Sony just released a SDK (Software Development Kit) for their “Smart Eyeglass”. However, some could claim that said openness would not be as important to Sony as it seems, as Alin Jerpelea is working alone in this section. However, as he emphasized in his interview at xda:devcon, he could always access the expertise of the entire Sony Group.

We are looking forward to seeing Sony working on open-sourced programs. As a developer community we would like to see other OEMs following the path made by Sony. Open-source friendly OEMs are something that Android in its current form craves the most. We wish Sony and its plans all the best.

[Big thanks to XDA Forum Moderator laufersteppenwolf for helping out with translation | via areamobile.de]

The post Sony to Extend its AOSP Program to Other Devices appeared first on xda-developers.

by Tomek Kondrat at October 01, 2014 09:00 AM

Project Ara Smartphone Will Run Modified Android L with Hot Swapping

google-project-ara-final

Project Ara is a very exciting topic–both for hardware and software enthusiasts. The modular smartphone idea looks like a mission impossible, but Google is determined to make it a reality pretty soon. Paul Eremenko from Project Ara team has shed some lights on the project’s status and we now know that Ara will have a modified version of Android L on board.

It was pretty easy to predict that Google would select Android as the operating system for Ara. The more interesting part is that users will be able to replace some elements of the device without powering off the phone (i.e. they will be hot swappable). The only exceptions are CPU and display, for obvious reasons. It remains unknown whether the RAM and storage will be replaceable as well. One word comes to mind to describe all this: craziness. If it’s true, this will be one of the most revolutionary piece(s) of hardware in the history of mobile technology.

Google (or rather ATAP) is working with Linaro to make a modified version of Android. This means that the project should be open-sourced as well as other projects by Google. The Ara smartphone is aspiring to get the most innovative idea of the year title and Google is pushing hard to make it happen.

We should expect a consumer launch of Ara in the first quarter of 2015. Other details remain yet to be seen, most likely to be uncovered during the dev conference scheduled for December.

[via Android Police]

The post Project Ara Smartphone Will Run Modified Android L with Hot Swapping appeared first on xda-developers.

by Tomek Kondrat at October 01, 2014 03:00 AM

Alpha Wave Review: Solid Classic Arcade Goodness, Just Missing Something Special

I’m a massive classic gaming fan and nerd, and my love of all things video games goes back to the very beginning. My connection to the arcade is so deep I actually worked with my father-in-law for 6 consecutive weekends to construct an arcade cabinet from plans that I then set up with multiple emulators, but the most important of them is absolutely MAME: the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. To give you an idea of the extent of my love, my gaming handle going back almost a decade is MAMEiac. It’s in my blood. I love that classic arcade feel, and I understand the notion of playing a game for its own sake, or getting a high score; I don’t need a compelling story or modern trappings to find joy.

The reason I relate this information is that, to me, it is important when sharing my conflicted feelings about Alpha Wave. Inspired by the early days Intellivision classic Astrosmash (right from one of the developer’s mouths) the game blends ideas and some looks from a handful of classic shooters (can’t give enough props for the one power-up that brings back tough memories of Raiden). There are a number of modes that change up both the scenery and the nature of the challenges, as well as multiple skill levels to accommodate a wide variety of levels of experience.

Getting into the pieces of the puzzle the game is probably one of the most attractive I’ve seen on the Shield tablet thus far. While its look isn’t terribly complex what is on-screen is attractive, fluid, and full of pizazz. Overall the specific scale of everything seems about right as well, though perhaps a little big, and this game will probably look great on a pretty wide variety of devices, never getting too small even on phones. Even with so many objects, projectiles, explosions, and random bursts of color everywhere from different enemies and effects everything remains silky smooth.

When it comes to sound a classic arcade shooter honestly doesn’t need much but I’d say Alpha Wave delivers a terrific ambient soundtrack that pulses along with the action and keeps things feeling exciting. On top of that a great deal of care has been put into making pretty well every sound in the game distinctive from the different power-up weapons to the wide variety of enemy types to cues for when your bombs and hyper weapons are ready.

Getting past the very solid foundation of how things look and sound there is absolutely a worthwhile game here, what you get out of it could be difficult to predict though. I think the game occupies an odd space (though some would say perhaps that’s a strength for a lack of competition) where I’d be happier with some added complexity heaped on in terms of movement and variety in power-ups, but for less experienced gamers it may seem a bit overwhelming.

Control is limited to moving back and forth, and then remembering to utilize your bomb and hyper weapons periodically. You will want to keep an eye out for falling power-ups (my god, especially speed, the initial movement rate kills me) as once they hit the ground they won’t last very long. Depending on your style of play and the mode you choose it is incredibly important that you get and then keep your preferred weapon. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses and depending on whether you’re just trying to survive or maximize your score you’ll probably tend to gravitate to different choices. In particular as you transition to focusing on your score the name of the game is all about not getting hit, and with many enemy types that can send projectiles in multiple directions at once you’ll need to establish a plan and then stick with it.

Scoring: (out of 5)

Graphics: 4.5 – While I’m positive it is possible to make a more gorgeous game for the platform I’ll say that this game is very attractive and appears to be making great use of the processing power Tegra brings to the table. It is hard to find any specific fault in the visuals for the game, but I wouldn’t say it has reached the limits of what the hardware can do either.

Sound: 4.5 – Again, very difficult to find any faults. The minimal soundtrack drives the action and keeps things pumping. Each enemy type has distinctive sounds associated with them, as do your power-ups. Combined with the visuals it all creates a very immersive experience.

Gameplay: 4 – Here’s an area where I see things splitting out based almost entirely on tastes. As stated above this game seems to occupy a very odd space overall, as it isn’t an aggravation survival shooter requiring that you maneuver your way through waves of carefully orchestrated enemy fire, but it also may be a bit overwhelming for people who aren’t shooter veterans. There are multiple skill levels, and those do help, but something in the experience still feels odd to me. Somehow I’m left wanting either more complexity (though that could minimize the potential audience) or for it to have a more whimsical “just for fun” quality. It being somewhere in the middle just sticks out as unusual to me, though I don’t doubt people could enjoy it greatly if it hits their sweet spot.

Control: 4 – The game actually works reasonably well even without the controller, mostly because the control scheme is very basic. All you end up with are controls for left, right, bomb, and hyper weapon. Though I always find on-screen controls to be a bit wonky the longer you play on them in a given session they are serviceable here as the on-screen button areas are pretty big but manage not to interfere with your seeing the action. If anything I was aching for more maneuverability as until I got the initial speed up power-ups the rate of movement for my craft was always frustrating me.

Lastability: 3.5 – Let’s be clear, this is an arcade shooting game and your motivation for playing all comes down to either getting the achievements from the game or in competing on the leaderboards for a top score. I will tell you, while I was able to complete normal mode pretty quickly, there are some people out there playing the game on an entirely different level with some pretty obscenely high scores. If you’re into that and enjoy the gameplay there’s probably a good amount of fun to be had here. For a casual gamer an average play session may run a little too long for it to be a good “play while you wait for your coffee” game, but with the visuals and sounds sucking you in there could be some value in it as a distraction.

Overall: 4 – Up against both arcade classics and some other remakes (Space Invaders Extreme remains a stand-out for me) Alpha Wave does well for not being based on something pre-existing that carries instant nostalgia with it. As a showcase title for the platform it represents everything pretty well, and depending on your tastes it may well be something you’ll love to return to. In the end its overall quality and reasonable price make it a fairly safe bet if you’re a shooter fan, I just can’t say it leaps out as an “instant classic” for me.

October 01, 2014 01:21 AM

Gamevil releases first teaser trailer for their upcoming RPG Darkness Reborn

Gamevil has begun teasing their next RPG release for Android called Darkness Reborn with its first teaser trailer. There isn't a whole lot of details available right now regarding this new game but the current belief is that this is technically the sequel to the company's Dark Avenger RPG that was released onto Android not too long ago.

Gamevil hasn't released much in the way of details regarding this game but we do know a couple of things. First, Darkness Reborn will have 3D visuals that look pretty solid for a mobile release. Secondly this will be a fully synchronous MORPG title. The only other bit of information we currently know right now is a bit of the storyline: Players will battle through a cursed land in an quest to defeat a powerful two-headed dragon and ultimately conquer evil.

Other than that, Gamevil has kept pretty quite about the features of Darkness Reborn although we are expected to get a lot more information soon as we near the game's release. In the meantime you can check out the teaser trailer for Darkness Reborn in the video above.

Developer Website: Gamevil

October 01, 2014 12:24 AM

September 30, 2014

Android UI Design Patterns & Anti-Patterns

There's often a communication gap between Android developers and designers. This talk introduces basic UI concepts and reveals the simple patterns that exist within well designed user experiences.

by Evan Davis at September 30, 2014 08:15 PM

September 29, 2014

Predictions of Play Store Fallout

The recent changes to the Play Store terms of service, requiring physical addresses and imposing a service-level agreement (SLA) on support questions are not terribly surprising moves. Google is basically trying to get developers of paid/in-app purchasing (IAP) apps to “raise their game” and provide better support to buyers.

That being said, I’m not sure that Google thought this all the way through. This has the whole “frog/boiling water” trope written all over it: while developers had been putting up with more and more hassle from Google, this particular change appears to be enough to get some developers to jump.

Tactically, the Play Store might well shrink in size over the next 60 days, as developers pull apps from the store, or Google kicks them out for failing to abide by the revised terms. If I’m Apple, I’m hoping that some independent service reports such an event, then using my press contacts to make sure the tech media trumpets how Android developers are leaving in droves.

Strategically, though, I expect to see several things arise in the coming years:

  • More emphasis on agents: There should be a rise in firms that will serve as agents for app developers. These agents would license apps from developers and sell those apps on the Play Store and elsewhere, in exchange for a cut of the proceeds. These agents, in turn, would provide the physical point-of-presence and front-line SLA handling, delegating any “real” support questions to the developers.

  • Formation of developer cooperatives: Some agents will likely be scum, if for no other reason than middlemen tend to run the gamut from sensational to scum in other places. Hence, I expect one or more developer cooperatives to form, to help ensure that there is at least one non-scum middleman. These would be registered as businesses or non-profits and would serve as an agent for their members, filling the middleman role while being a bit more transparent and friendly to the membership. Cooperatives with significant traction in specific countries might offer additional member benefits akin to what you might get from other forms of associations, such as group health insurance in the US, with an eye towards helping individual and small business developers. It is possible that existing groups, like the App Developers Alliance, might morph into this role.

  • Rise in interest in other distribution channels: Individual developers frequently skip other distribution channels (Amazon AppStore for Android, BlackBerry World, direct distribution, etc.) as they are a bit of a headache. Agents will be more interested in those channels, as they are “force multipliers” for their catalog of licensed apps. This in turn should spur development of Play Services replacement frameworks, better instructions for writing apps that can be deployed in multiple channels at once, and so on.

  • Greater consolidation of developer power: Agents, whether they are independent firms or are developer cooperatives, will wield more power than will the individual developers they represent, just due to sheer mass. Whether that concentration of power will be sufficient to cause Google to start behaving more transparently will depend largely upon…

  • Legal action: From the EU competition commission to class action suits, I expect Google’s legal team to be busy. Other markets may sue to break the “most-favored-nation” status that the Play Store has on Android devices, attempting to drive Google to create an “app installer” API that developers could support and users could opt into to allow apps to have Play Store-like ability to install and upgrade apps. Greater transparency around apps being kicked out of the Play Store, better support channels from Google to developers, and the like will also be part and parcel of what legal action might try to improve.

Now, my skills at predicting the future are modest at best, which is why I write Android books and do not tell fortunes. However, these seem like probable responses to the recent Play Store moves.

by Mark Murphy at September 29, 2014 09:43 PM

Gas sensor prototype explained

The "We know RFDuino" contest has not ended yet but its end is sufficiently close so that I can explain our prototype application. Our entry is a Bluetooth Low Energy-connected gas sensor and it is presented in the video below. Make sure that you watch it, you help us win the competition.



The prototype demonstrates a unique capability of Bluetooth Low Energy device advertisement messages: you can embed user data into these broadcasts. These come handy if you just want to send out some measurement data to whoever cares to listen without creating a session between the BLE client and server. This broadcast-type data transfer may support unlimited number of clients with very low energy consumption on the sensor side.

Click here to download the Android client application project.

Click here to download the RFDuino source code.

The prototype works like the following. The microcontroller presented in the video measures the Lower Explosion Limit and sends this value to the RFDuino microcontroller over a super-simpe serial protocol. A message of this protocol looks like this:

0xA5 <seq_no> <LEL%>

where seq_no is an increasing value and LEL% is the measured Lower Explosion Limit value. The microcontroller code is not shared here but you can get the idea. The RFDuino code receives the LEL% value over the serial port it creates on GPIO pins 3 and 4, creates a custom data structure for BLE advertisements consisting of the site ID and the LEL% value then starts advertising. This is performed cyclically so the LEL% value is updated in the sensor's BLE advertisement every second.

Now let's see what happens on the Android side. This is a non-trivial application with multiple activities but the Real Thing (TM) happens in the MapScreenActivity, in the onLeScan method. This method is called every time the Android device's BLE stack discovers a device. In this case we check whether the device's name is "g" (this is how we identify our sensor) and we retrieve the LEL% data from the advertisement packet.  We also handle the Received Signal Strenght Indicator (rssi) value for proximity indication. Bluetooth device discovery is restarted in every 2 seconds so that we can retrieve the latest LEL% value. The rest is just Plain Old Android Programming.

The identification of the sensor and the encoding of the sensor data is obviously very naive but this is not really the point. You can make it as complex as you like, e.g. you can protect the sensor data with a hash and place that hash also into the advertisement so that the receiver can make sure that it gets data from an authorized sensor and not a fake one. The important thing is that the entire framework is sufficiently flexible so that relatively complex functionality can be implemented and RFDuino really simplifies sensor programming a lot.

If you enjoyed the example application, make sure you watch the video (many times if possible :-)) and if you happen to be in London on 2014 November 19, you might as well come to the Londroid meetup where I present this and another BLE project (a connection-oriented one, called MotorBoat).

by Gabor Paller (noreply@blogger.com) at September 29, 2014 07:22 PM

The car of the future doesn’t fly, it fixes your flat

We have, once again, been led astray by Hollywood. Back to the Future filled our heads with visions of soaring Deloreans, but in reality, the automobile industry has some pretty glaring flaws it needs to address before we can attempt flight.

It seems like everything in our daily lives is becoming connected. But very often the car is left out of this conversation, and it would benefit greatly from a healthy dose of mobile connectivity.

The product lifecycle for the car makes it incredibly hard for the automobile industry to keep up with the rapid pace of consumer technology.

An excellent example is the touchscreen console systems that can be found in many 2012 models. While tablet and smartphone makers are improving touchscreen technology all the time, car console displays use, at best, technology developed in 2010.

Even with a three-to-five year product cycle, there is plenty of room for the car of the future to pop up today. Here are three connected features that could and should already be available for your ride.

Owner’s Manual

Perhaps the most antiquated part of buying a new car is the massive book of instructions the dealership hands you along with your new keys. These manuals then just occupy space in your glove box for the next few years, getting pulled out if you have to change a fuse or check your warranty information.

A connected, mobile owner’s manual could give manufacturers a built-in way to reach out to customers to ensure they know about important product information, updates, and product recall information.

A mobile owner’s manual coupled with the car’s sensors could detect and interpret early stage problems before they evolve into a more expensive and daunting repair. The potential here is endless.

Some manufacturers are already embracing this. But this is first generation and can always be improved upon.

Scheduled Maintenance

Do you have a pile of receipts in your glove box detailing the services you’ve had performed on your car? That should become a thing of the past. There are opportunities to digitally document maintenance performed, as well as remind you when your next scheduled service should be. In fact, a mobile product could schedule it for you and then send you the scheduling information.

In addition to being able to provide users with a better service experience, the data collected would give manufacturers a unique look at when their models need specific repairs. Dealerships could alert users before they see a problem, based on crowdsourced information.

Or, imagine how valuable a digital history of a car’s maintenance records would be for used-car sales. The records could easily be transferred with the title of the car, taking the guesswork out of how well a car was maintained.

Non-essential Monitoring

Sensors have opened up a world of possibilities for monitoring the inanimate. Tire pressure. Gas levels. Security (doors locked, windows up). Location. Using apps like Find My Car Smarter, you don’t have to wait for the technology to be built into the car in order to take advantage of it.

A sensor attached to, or inside, your gas tank could connect with your GPS to know how far you are planning on going and the route you will be taking, and alert you to the last gas station on your route prior to you running out of gas.

Tire sensors could not only alert the driver to low tire pressure. They could tie into a driver’s AAA account, sending a notice that a flat needs to be fixed, along with the location of the car. Once services are rendered, the app could even finalize payment, all with very minimal involvement from the driver.

Once the product cycle catches up with the Internet of Things, the car of the future becomes reality. Sensors built into every nook and cranny inside the car will give the driver and the manufacturer incredible insight into the way the car is used, and will inform the features of tomorrow.

You’ll expect your car to recognize you upon entering, and the car will do more than just adjusting your seat to your preferred position. It will adjust to your driving style. It will know where you are most likely to go, which playlist/podcast/book you want to hear, how you want your A/C set, when you last serviced your vehicle, and much more.

The more we know about our cars makes them increasingly more valuable to us as drivers. Certainly more valuable than hovering off the ground.

The post The car of the future doesn’t fly, it fixes your flat appeared first on Mutual Mobile.

by Mutual Mobile at September 29, 2014 03:48 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! 

 

mgspecs

PlayMG Specifications

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

 

Powerbase Review | PlayMG

Powerbase Interview | PlayMG’s Taylor Cavanah

 

 

by admin at September 28, 2014 06:47 PM

September 26, 2014

The Connected Home

We’d all love a smart home with appliances that play well together, how far off is this from being reality? Tech giants are embracing the Internet of Things, but consumers continue waiting for home automation that can efficiently solve everyday problems. Here’s a glimpse of how our home of the future might look.

Monthly Spotlight

We Took a Bite Out of TechCrunch Disrupt

We sent six of our brightest minds to the annual TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon to help Clover shake up grocery shopping. In two quick days, the team built and pitched an app called GrabBag, which creates grocery lists from preferred recipes and inventory at Clover-enabled markets. You simply pick your dish, set the servings, and GrabBag sends your list to a store runner to grab your goods.

CLIENT SPOTLIGHT

Leading The Economist in Digital Delivery

Over several years, Mutual Mobile has collaborated on the mobile experience for The Economist, one of the world’s leading publications. The award-winning iPad app captures the “lean back” style of traditional print, giving readers a comfortable way to consume commentary and analysis through new issues, archived editions, and on-the-go audio. Get the recently updated iPad app here.

The post The Connected Home appeared first on Mutual Mobile.

by Kaely Coon at September 26, 2014 03:50 PM

September 25, 2014

Upcoming Conference Presentations: Samsung Developer Conference

I have one more event scheduled for this fall: the Samsung Developer Conference. I will be delivering a couple of presentations there, on optimizing memory and power usage within your apps. These presentations should be on November 14th, though the exact schedule has not yet been announced.


I don’t speak at many vendor-specific events. Where I do, I make sure that I speak on general Android development topics (albeit ones of relevance to developers targeting that vendor’s specific environment). My presentations at the Samsung DevCon are valid for all Android devices, not just the Samsung line.

Also note that I don’t accept speaker fees or other significant compensation for speaking at events. At most, I might ask for the event to pick up the cost of a hotel or flight, but not always, and in particular I am not receiving any expense reimbursement from Samsung for speaking at their event. I am simply serving as a freelance Android developer evangelist, to help Android developers be efficient and effective in their app development.

by Mark Murphy at September 25, 2014 02:11 PM

September 24, 2014

Allthecooks on Android Wear

By Hoi Lam, Developer Advocate, Android Wear

The best cooking companion since the apron?

Android Wear is designed for serving up useful information at just the right time and in the right place. A neat example of this is Allthecooks Recipes. It gives you the right recipe, right when you need it.

This app is a great illustration of the four creative visions for Android Wear:

  1. Launched automatically
  2. Glanceable
  3. Suggest and demand
  4. Zero or low interaction

Allthecooks also shows what developers can do by combining both the power of the mobile device and the convenience of Android Wear.

Pick the best tool for the job

One particularly well-designed aspect of Allthecooks is their approach to the multi-device experience. Allthecooks lets the user search and browse the different recipes on their Android phone or tablet. When the user is ready, there is a clearly labelled blue action link to send the recipe to the watch.

The integration is natural. Using the on-screen keyboard and the larger screen real estate, Allthecooks is using the best screen to browse through the recipes. On the wearables side, the recipe is synchronised by using the DataApi and is launched automatically, fulfilling one of the key creative visions for Android Wear.

The end result? The mobile / Wear integration is seamless.

Thoughtful navigation

Once the recipe has been sent to the Android Wear device, Allthecooks splits the steps into easily glanceable pages. At the end of that list of steps, it allows the user to jump back to the beginning with a clearly marked button.

This means if you would like to browse through the steps before starting to cook, you can effortlessly get to the beginning again without swiping through all the pages. This is a great example of two other points in the vision: glanceable and zero or low interaction.

A great (cooking) assistant

One of the key ingredients of great cooking is timing, and Allthecooks is always on hand to do all the inputs for you when you are ready to start the clock. A simple tap on the blue “1” and Allthecooks will automatically set the timer to one hour. It is a gentle suggestion that Allthecooks can set the timer for you if you want.

Alternatively, if you want to use your egg timer, why not? It is a small detail but it really demonstrates the last and final element of Android Wear’s vision of suggest and demand. It is an ever ready assistant when the user wants it. At the same time, it is respectful and does not force the user to go down a route that the user does not want.

It’s about the details

Great design is about being user-centric and paying attention to details. Allthecooks could have just shrunk their mobile app for wear. Instead the Allthecooks team put a lot of thoughts into the design and leveraged all four points of the Android Wear creative vision. The end result is that the user can get the best experience out of both their Android mobile device and their Android Wear device. So developers, what will you be cooking next on Android Wear?

For more inspiring Android Wear user experiences, check out the Android Wear collection on Google Play!

by Android Developers (noreply@blogger.com) at September 24, 2014 08:43 PM

Devoxx 2013 Presentations

All of the talks from Devoxx 2013 are now freely available on the parleys.com website. This includes all of the talks that I did with Romain Guy on Android:
Filthy Rich [Android] Clients
What's New in Android
Android Performance Workshop Part 1
Android Performance Workshop Part 2

There's also an interview about the new features in KitKat.

Then there's this somewhat less relevant Patterns, Shmatterns talk I did about software design patterns.

All of the slides from the Android talks are posted on Romain's blog.

by Chet Haase (noreply@blogger.com) at September 24, 2014 01:37 PM

Latest Double Star Release

The latest Double Star release provides the full game experience: (1) training at the academy; (2) saving our planet from the alien invasion; (3) searching the galaxy for the enemy home world. Twenty levels are available for play. There are mysteries, challenges, and rewards along the way. ... If you have not moved over to the new Double Star community, here is the link: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/113741436953313178716 ... For more about the app, see the earlier blog article on Double Star. Continue reading

by Bill Lahti at September 24, 2014 12:30 PM

September 23, 2014

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0

Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0

Flash drives used to be a thing of the past, with the invent of blue tooth transfer and cloud storage on mobile devices there really wasn’t a need for them anymore. Government agencies stopped using them due to security threats, and they really weren’t being used in the public market. Ten plus years ago you would see everyone from corporate business to tech junkies carrying flash drives. Flash forward to today and flash drives are making a comeback. Mobile flash drives are pretty new but the technology is there and it is amazing. That is what we have today, the Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0, a USB flash drive for both your computer and your Android smartphone.

Small size fits on a keychain microUSB port with plastic cover Kingston DataTraveler microDUO 3.0 Actual Storage Available

The smartphones of today although amazingly fast and sporting some amazing Quad HD displays are mostly coming stock with about 16GB of storage. Most of these devices do not come with removable storage options either, so you are stuck with 16GB the entire time you own the device. If you use your mobile phone as much as we at Land of Droid do, you quickly realize that photos, movies and apps take up that space fairly quick. Enter the Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3.0, with its tiny size and awesome capabilities, you no longer have to worry about storage space again. On one side it sports the full-sized USB connection, which connects just like your normal USB flash drive when connected to your computer. The other side has a plastic cover protecting the unit’s microUSB connection which connects to your mobile device just like your normal charging cable as long as you have Android 4.0+ with USB OTG support. Once you connect the Kingston DataTraveler microDuo it is recognized by your device as external storage – where you can use whichever file manager you have installed and swap/copy data from your Android smartphone to the USB device.

Hey Jeff, with these connections will it charge my device as well? Well, unfortunately it won’t charge your device while both connections are in use which is a bummer, however the amount of uses this device has outweigh that small negative. The Kingston DataTraveler microDuo is available in three sizes currently, 16Gb, 32GB, and 64GB. The 64GB model appears a little pricey but depending on your storage needs you can find a great price for an amazing little device.

In my two weeks of use this little device has been a true performer, with no issues at all. Although I received the 64GB model, upon inspection there was really only 58GB available after connection which still isn’t bad. The website lists the OTG and compatible devices for the device, which funny enough didn’t list my LG G2 VS980 as compatible but worked amazingly when used. Transferring photos and videos to the device was a breeze, and pulling them onto my laptop from the device worked exactly as a USB flash drive should. This is not a HAVE TO HAVE item, rather a handy item to have in a pinch if you need storage. With my job as an accident investigator, the ability to pull photos immediately on scene without having to sync to Dropbox or anything is amazing. I can easily take 200+ photos on one accident and transfer them over instantly. I played around with downloading movies onto my laptop and then putting them on the USB device. This is hands down my favorite part, I can store up to 58GB of movies on the device and carry it on my key chain. Then when the mood strikes, just plug it in and play the movie from the flash drive streaming to my Chromecast. For the Android photographer traveling or doing an event taking photos, the Kingston DataTraveler microDuo is a definite life saver. You don’t want to run out of room while snapping away at your event, so carry this baby and you are all set to keep snapping away.

Land of Droid -

by Jeff Jessie at September 23, 2014 04:08 PM

September 19, 2014

LG Wireless Charger for the LG G3

LG Wireless Charger for the LG G3

As you should all now be aware, the G3 is the current flagship phone from LG.  It was released in June and includes a 5.5 inch screen with what can only be described as the thinnest bezel on any android phone to date.

Most of the variants include Wireless charging as standard, the unlucky few that don’t have one of these variants can buy a replacement case that includes wireless charging.

So how do you go and use your G3 with its wireless charging? Just pick up any wireless charger?  It might not be so simple, the G3 is highly picky about wireless chargers and if you use the wrong one you will get a very slow charge, or worse still, no charge at all! (but with the wake-locks still kicking in, so in effect it drains your battery instead of charging!!).  But surely LG have a solution for this?  Yes, the LG Wireless Charger is here to save the day.

Aesthetics

The LG Wireless Charger is nice to look at, simple and effective.  It folds flat when not in use and is a stand when in use.  You can easily use the phone screen while charging, without issues (some other phones have sensitive screens whilst charging wireless, the G3 doesn’t appear to have this issue).

Materials

Hopefully people know what to expect from wireless chargers, but if you don’t, expect a lot of plastic.  Plastic, plastic everywhere!  But this is not a bad thing, it makes the product super light weight for travel.

Build Quality

Although it is plastic, and light weight it feels very solid at the same time, I don’t think it would break easily, even during transportation, which is great for charging on the move.

Port Accessibility

The USB and Headphone port are both on the bottom of the G3 so you cannot access these while using the LG Wireless Charger.  Likewise, the buttons are all on the back, so you will also be unable to access these (but that is not a huge issue as you can do everything from the touch screen anyway).

Fitting and Removing

The theory with wireless chargers is you just drop the phone on it and walk off knowing that it will be charging for you, when you want it back you just pick it up.  However, as I eluded to at the start, the G3 is quite fussy about its chargers, in-fact most chargers I tried failed to establish a full speed connection, with the phone regularly beeping at me to move it to the hotspot (only it never found it!).

The LG Wireless Charger went some way to fix this, in that it is possible to establish ha full connection, but you still need to be slightly careful with how you place the phone, it needs to be dead centre on the stand otherwise you only get a slow charge (and the aforementioned warnings…), after a little practice this is quite easy to achieve and is not a deal-breaker.

What it does mean is that you will only get a slow or no charge at all if you use another (probably far cheaper) wireless charging alternative.

And of course, it goes without saying (after-al it is 2014!) that it stops charging at 100% so you will not be overcharging your phone.  If, like me, you use the LG Wireless Charger overnight you will be on 100% in the morning as it maintains a 100% level perfectly.

It is worth noting that it might be fussy with the quality of USB cable you use with the product, it recommends you use the USB cable that you get with the G3, which, of course, works fine – but other cables might not give the same results.

Price

I don’t usually mention price in reviews, unless it is an important point, and in this case it definitely is.

The LG Wireless Charger is not cheap!  At £59.99 it is definitely one of the more expensive wireless chargers you can buy, but as I said above it may be the only charger (certainly the only one of about 10 different models I tried) that can give you a full speed charge.  And for this reason, and this reason alone it is worth the money.

lg g3 wireless charger

Land of Droid -

by Glenn Blair at September 19, 2014 01:12 PM

September 17, 2014

Messaging on Android Wear

By Timothy Jordan, Developer Advocate

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

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

Message notifications for free

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

Google+ Hangouts message.

Reply like a champ

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

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

WhatsApp message with the reply by voice action.

See who is texting

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

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

Path Talk message with a clear picture of the sender.

Custom actions

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

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

Custom Layouts

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

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

Custom layouts are documented in more depth here.

TextMe allows users to reply with a quick emoticon.

Next steps

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

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

September 15, 2014

Tutorial: Enhancing Android UI with Custom Views

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

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

September 07, 2014

How does Galaxy Tab 4 Nook tablet performs in Sun

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

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

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

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

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

Stock Deodexed Rooted ROM for Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 tablets

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

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

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

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

-Deodexed
-Zipaligned
-Init d support
-Busybox

Stock Deodexed Rooted ROM for Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 tablets

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

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

September 06, 2014

Camera shot on charger connection

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

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

Click here to download the example application.

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

Here are the experiences:

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


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

September 05, 2014

Material Design - Activity Transition Animations

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Android L Activity Transitions

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

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

Let's look at an example.

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

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

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

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

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

Activity transition layout effects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Use animations for a purpose! 

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

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

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

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

Technical implementation for hero elements

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Rest is handled automatically by the system!

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

Additional resources for animations


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

September 02, 2014

Android In App Purchased Demo V3.

Hi all,

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

Please Go through this before trying out this Demo

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

inapp

in app

in app

in app

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

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

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

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

Add this permission.

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

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

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

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

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

OR real purchases with users but without using any money.

STATIC TESTING :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Note :

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

PRODUCTS ONCE CONSUMED WILL BE A AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AGAIN.

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

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

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

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

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

   	mHelper.consumeAsync(purchase, mConsumeFinishedListener);
   

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

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

OK Done.

You can download the sample application from this link

Download

by James at September 02, 2014 09:42 AM

August 23, 2014

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

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

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

by Psym at August 23, 2014 10:36 AM

August 18, 2014

Read This: Designer's Guide to DPI


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

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

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

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

August 08, 2014

Tridroid Presentation: In-App Purchases for an Android Game

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

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

August 03, 2014

Further update on the new mission pack progress

Another season, another mission pack update…

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

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


by Psym at August 03, 2014 11:34 PM

July 17, 2014

Freesat Android app launched

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

freesat-android-app-1

freesat-android-app-2

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

by Gary_C at July 17, 2014 10:41 AM

July 05, 2014

July 04, 2014

The 1st SWIFT Compliant Ad Network – StartApp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 27, 2014

Google I/O 2014 Slides and Demo

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

Google I/O 2014 demo

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

June 17, 2014

Moto Maker for Moto X hitting Germany on July 1st

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

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

moto-maker-uk

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

Link via Androidsis.

by Gary_C at June 17, 2014 07:30 PM

June 02, 2014

May 18, 2014

April 29, 2014

The Android and iOS Rivalry – Cosmetic and Functional

Android and iOS Rivalry

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

Crash Test

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

Adoption and Upgrade Preferences

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

android and ios

Seamless and Efficient Design

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

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

Android and iOS Navigation

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

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

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

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

March 30, 2014

Maverick 2.6

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

Downloader

Download: Pro versionLite version

Related posts:

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

by Jeff at March 30, 2014 01:18 PM

February 28, 2014

Publishing an Android book in the vogella book series

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

Selection_017

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

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

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

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

February 24, 2014

The Galaxy S5

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

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

February 08, 2014

Grails based survey system, the android app

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

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

January 21, 2014

Dragging Images When Scaling Must Be Restricted

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

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

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

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

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

private VersionedGestureDetector mScaleDragDetector;

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

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

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

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


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

January 05, 2014

Yota Phone – The Android Smartphone From Russia With Two Screens

Yota Phone

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

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

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

by James at January 05, 2014 05:13 PM

December 07, 2013

Robots! Part 2, the android client

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

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

November 15, 2013

Moving An Android View By Dragging It

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

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

magnifier example

magnifier example

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

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

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

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

public boolean onTouch(View view, MotionEvent event) {

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

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

    case MotionEvent.ACTION_POINTER_DOWN:
    break;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    return true;
}

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

  }
}

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

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

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


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

October 25, 2013

MicroConf Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 30, 2013

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

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

1. PRICE (pretty obvious)

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

2. UPDATES (real catch)

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

3. Everything else

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

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

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

September 18, 2013

Wallpaper Wednesday – Schwangau

Wallpaper Wednesday - Schwangau

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

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

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

September 11, 2013

Wallpaper Wednesday – Prague

Wallpaper Wednesday - Prague

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

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

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

August 06, 2013

Try Some Old School Fun With 3D Snake

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

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


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

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

July 30, 2013

Avoid The Mines In Minesweeper ++ Lite


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

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


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

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

June 26, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via TmoNews.com.

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

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

June 21, 2013

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

heart.beaten-android

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

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

Android Games

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

Monoprice 8320 Earbuds Deliver at a Low Price

20130620_180008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 20, 2013

Aquaria comes to Android via the Humble Bundle 6

Screenshot_2013-06-20-01-39-00

Aquaria comes to Android via the Humble Bundle 6

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

Android Games

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

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:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 22, 2012

InDrive: Custom Car Home 1.0

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

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

  

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

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

Related posts:

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

by Jeff at December 22, 2012 01:59 PM

July 23, 2012

Transfer of data using Intents (Part 2)

Hi everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till then, BYE!


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

July 11, 2012

Transfer of data using Intents (Part 1)

Hi all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

startActivityForResult(intent, 1);

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

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

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

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

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

Till then, BYE!


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

July 04, 2012

Planet Android summer cleaning

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

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

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

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

June 12, 2011

Android and openness

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

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

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


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

April 01, 2011

Is this thing on? ::feedback:: ouch…

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

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

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

Happy April Fools Day tomorrow!


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