Problems with Early Android Tablets

A full range of tablets have been developed using the Android operating system. The new 3.x Honeycomb versions such as the Motorola Xoom (below) represented a major change for tablets. This is an operating system with many features to help provide a base for a powerful and highly interactive solutions. Initially Android was not built for tablets, only smaller devices such as phones. Eventually support for large screens was added but it was really minor changes and the Ui was not built for tablets. I have several android applications, which later I will have honeycomb specific versions which will make use of the new user interface features. In the mean time I was working on support for the older larger screen devices like the Samsung Galaxy tab (left), which is a non-standard aspect ratio 600 x 1024 dpi, people have reported problems with applications on this device. A developer can rework a layout for specific Android software versions or device features such as aspect ratio. One still is relying on the operating system scaling the layout to fill the space. Android has predefined screen sizes, which one can use and the emulator knows how to use these predefined sizes, but when device manufacturers built tablets from the older, the sizes didn’t exist. A developer dealing with this situation may say, skip the older tablets and spend the energy on the newer tablets, which may be the best solution.

More about the limitations of Mobile devices.

I had been working on an Android app that would work with a popular professional photography site Smug Mug which I have been using to promote my photography. Smug Mug has a nice REST layer with a number of different formats including json, XML, php, and other formats. It works well and is reliable. One of the biggest challenge is the limited bandwidth and power of these devices. The app is nice, allowing to browse from an account. Later I had been planing a photo uploader feature, which is definitely a good idea and could work. My account, which I was using for testing has a lot of photos, and surfaced real challenges in terms of performance. Building a persistence layer with sqlite has promise, along with background threads loading resources, but with a heavily loaded account, the devices don’t keep up. Given some of the newer devices available for instance the Droid Bionic, which will have dual cores, and making available 4G capabilities such as Verizon’s LTE and Sprint’s Wimax, and HSPA+ on T-Mobile and later on AT&T will definitely help.

Published Celebrity Astrology Android App

I have been working on an android application to work with my http://celebrityastrology.net site. It is now in alpha and can be downloaded from the android marketplace. Built a json service into the celebrity astrology site, after doing mobile/webkit optimized version. Application works with this service to display lists and show content. I needed to downgrade the chartwheel activity to a webview until the image viewer can be perfected.

Mobile Apps from a Shareware Lens

Being involved with mobile development, including web, applications, etc and having developed and successfully sold applications  in the shareware market for many years, has given me an interesting perspective into the Android, iPod, iPhone and iPad applications market. One of the challenges with these markets has been that many applications are sold for little or no cost, nor with an expectation of payment. People used to complain about shareware that you’d never get paid, but those with successful, compelling products did develop substantial businesses, for instance WinZip. Many of those who didn’t do well, didn’t consider market issues and demand for propsed products and consider what it would take to develop a full featured product competitive with commercial products. I had always producted numbers including a shareware version, and several different commercial versions, and the strategy basically worked until the market got saturated. A saturated market is also a problem for mobile applications, consider the number of iphone applications for sale, and the typical prices. There is more space in the Android marketplace, but more challenges including different hardware and software versions. If the android user base continues to grow at a quick pace, which i suspect it will, a significant market could arise, if developers find a way to get paid for their work.

Challenges with Android Development

Been working on several applications for Android, along with supporting Crisp Wireless‘s efforts and expanding mobile advertising opportunities, have discovered a number of issues working on applications with android. First many of the devices have been highly customized, creating significant amounts of fragmentation, which is complicated by the number of active api verstions 1.1 – 2.1, and varying features, for instance input types and navigation controls. Another challenge discovered has been a bug in the browser, that makes work with layers using z-index difficult in that the browser does not respect z-index when doing hit testing, so clicking on a top most level, could wind up activating controls or links on a lower layer. Developing image related applications revealed other issues, including differences between phones such as the Motorola Droid and Emulators. For instance in work with a scrolling, dragging, image browser works fine with the emulator and allows using the application as viewport into a larger image, but the Droid support for Image Views and Scroll Views causes the view to resize to fit, regardless of the settings

SmugMug Api

I have been working on an android app to work with SmugMug and their api. Getting started with their JSON api is good and works as advertised. It’s fast and reliable. Parsing using the org.json libraries (http://json.org) works well. For working on small footprint applications some changes to their api would be appreciated, particularly being able to work with a smaller result set or a paged result set from the usertree and albums interfaces would be good. In a larger footpring this isn’t a real problem.

The New photobycnoyes.com

I talked about smugmug.com earlier. I had earlier used gallery2 for my photography. If you want to host your own and use an existing package, it’s actually one of the best. When I started working with smugmug.com, I discovered they have a lot of facilities, like a slide show object, and sharing and feed support, so I decided to use those to build a front page system to front my smugmug gallery. Using their flash objects, 1 php file, a couple of flash text images, courtesy dreamweaver, and I built a cool starting point in an afternoon. http://photobycnoyes.com

Moving to Support Vista is a Bitch

Astro for Windows had been working well with Windows XP. Windows Vista adds a lot of challenges, particularly files that users modify that under XP could live under Program Files, have to be moved either to Public or the users directories. Security has become much more challenging, things that worked before now have to change. Moving from Earlier versions of Windows to support XP had fewer challenges and fewer issues surface, than supporting Vista