Barnes and Noble, You Could Do Better

Let’s give Barnes and Noble some credit. The Nook color is a nice device as a reader with some tablet stuff. At the time they came out with it, the android honeycomb code base was not available, so one can see why they went with the older code base when they designed their device. The Honeycomb source has been available for a while now. Why not upgrade your device to the new Android codebase so you can run better more modern apps which can be those optimized for a tablet versus a phone. Now Barnes and Noble comes out with the Nook Tablet and they are still in the old android code base. What gives, the honeycomb code has been around for a while now. Why use an aging code base that isn’t even intended for tablet use?

Built new Celebrity Astrology Tablet App

I just built a new version of my Celebrity Astrology App for Honeycomb tablets with a new design. It turned out very nice, much better than the standard phone modal designs. Using the new Fragment architecture allows multiple views to be placed on screen, each with separate code, so user isn’t switching as often to new Activities and the user flow is far more natural and easy to work with. This is a real aspect where the 2.2 android devices fall short. I am sure there are those who will try to emulate them for devices like Kindle Fire, but Honeycomb and later devices are far superior and are designed for tablets.

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.

Motorola Droid Review

Having been a Blackberry user before, I had waited for Verizon to do the Droid. I have been happy with their service and didn’t want to move to another carrier. I had been considering a better Blackberry, but made the leap to the Droid. It is easy to get started with and user interface good and it is enjoyable to use. It’s a little heavy and clunky. Ordering a case is a good thing, the finish is not as durable as many would like. The battery life span is not the best but given the features it is worth it. The camera sensitivity could be better. Other reviewers have noted issues on the keyboard, and there are with the pull out, working with the top row on the keyboard takes practice. On the other hand the on screen keyboard is good enough that you don’t really need the pull out keyboard much. The standard usable SD Card that comes with the device is more than adequate and works well with the usb cable. Voice quality is also very good. The screen resolution is also very good compared to other phones, and the photo and video quality is far superior to other phones I have used.