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August 23, 2014

Replace Your Stock Phone App with Reactiv Dialer

Reactiv Dialer

Your smartphone’s dialer app is obviously one of the most frequently used apps you have on your smartphone. We use it practically on a daily basis to call our family, friends, and co-workers. The truth is that without dialer, our smartphones would be just small, Internet-enabled PCs that are unable to make calls.

Google has already updated some of its applications to meet the Material Design requirements. Unfortunately the stock dialer isn’t one of them. If you are looking for a perfect alternative to Holo-based stock dialer, XDA Senior Member Phat7 has something that you may find interesting. Phat7 has created Reactiv Dialer, an application that offers everything that a good dialer should. It’s small, lightweight and can perfectly replace the stock Android application.

Reactiv Dialer doesn’t just have nice UI design; it’s also very functional. Searching contacts really fast by name or phone number are just a part of its vast functionality. You can also define favorites that are shown at the top of the screen so that you always have them readily accessible.

Reactiv Dialer works with every Android version starting with Ice Cream Sandwich. If you decide to buy the full version of the app, you will be able to change its theme and customize the colors.

If you are looking for a lightweight, fast, and good looking dialer application, Reactiv Dialer might be up your alley. You can get it from the Reactiv Dialer application thread.

The post Replace Your Stock Phone App with Reactiv Dialer appeared first on xda-developers.

by Tomek Kondrat at August 23, 2014 06:30 PM

How to Factory Reset your Samsung Gear Live Android Wear SmartWatch – XDA Developer TV

Samsung Gear Live

Do you want to Factory Reset your Samsung Gear Live Smartwatch? This can be either because you had a bad flash, you installed an app and now things just aren’t right, or because it’s just slowing down in general. There are many reasons to factory reset your device. The steps are quick and easy, but they are unique. The button combinations are different than most other devices because there really is only one button.

In today’s video, XDA Developer TV newcomer and XDA Recognized Contributor RootJunky shows off how to manually boot into the Samsung Gear Live’s bootloaders and factory reset the device. Grab your device and check out this video.

Samsung Gear Live Watch Restore Tool Link

Be sure to check out other great XDA Developer TV Videos.

Check out RootJunky’s (Tom’s) YouTube Channel.

The post How to Factory Reset your Samsung Gear Live Android Wear SmartWatch – XDA Developer TV appeared first on xda-developers.

by Jimmy McGee at August 23, 2014 02:00 PM

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

SNK Playmore puts all their games on sale for $0.99 for a limited time

SNK Playmore has been steadily releasing ports of some of their most popular franchises and games in their catalog onto Android for awhile now. This includes the King of Fighters franchise, the Meta Slug franchise, the Raiden franchise and so on. If you've missed picking any of these games up for whatever reason, you might want to consider grabbing the ones you want now.

Why is that you might ask? Because SNK Playmore has put all of their games on Android on sale for $0.99 in a sale dedicated to celebrating the 20th anniversary of the King of Fighters franchise. When we say all their games are on sale, we mean all of them. So even the newly released King of Fighters '98 which was released back last month.


King of Fighter '98

Since this sale is for a limited time only, you might not want to wait too long before trying to take advantage of it. You can check out SNK Playmore's Google Play listings to see which games you might want to grab while they are only $0.99.

Google Play: SNK Playmore

August 23, 2014 12:34 AM

August 22, 2014

Backflip Studios to release Spellfall Puzzle-RPG on Android

Spellfall is a puzzle RPG to be released on Android by Backflip Studios. For those not familiar with the relatively recent hybrid of match-three with RPGs or action games, picture the following: You're playing a Final Fantasy, or some other RPG with a spell casting mechanic, and you decide to cast a spell in battle. Only instead of selecting a spell from a list and paying for it out of your available MP, Candy Crush pops up on the screen and you attempt to match three or more tiles a row.

Whichever icon you end up matching is the spell you end up casting, or the action taken. So, if a player were to match three fire icons in a row, a fire spell would be cast. Seriously. Loosely speaking, that's how SpellFall will work, where you play a match-three game to determine what spell you'll cast in battle. Beyond that, there will also be opportunities to customize your character's costume and weapons.

SpellFall Features:

• Match 3+ Spell Tiles
• Cast Powerful Spells
• Defeat Wicked Monsters
• Equip Gear & Abilities

Backflip tends to release games for free with in-app purchases, as well as the fact that it's already out for iOS for free, so that trend is likely to continue with Spellfall on Android. You can check out the game in action through the trailer below. There's no release date on their website, so we just have to wait for "soon" to arrive.

August 22, 2014 11:41 PM

August 21, 2014

Piper Home Security Review

Piper Home Security Review

Introduction

The Piper Home security camera is a security device with a few smart extras in its arsenal. Using Z Wave technology the Piper doubles as a home automation hub along with its security skills.

Build & Aesthetics

The Piper is a really good looking security camera. It comes in either glossy black or glossy white and while the black is my favourite it is a finger magnet of the highest order, although once you have it set in place you really shouldn’t need to touch it again. While the motion sensor on the front is a little blatant the whole device including the solid metal stand, is top notch when it comes to build quality, although I did think the door sensors are a little flimsy.

Security

With a 1080p camera up front and a clever fish eye lens, the Piper security system is actually pretty neat. from the app you are able to see four separate parts of the room at the same time with a clever split system which allows you to zoom in on specific areas, such  as windows or doors. The package I received came with 1 window/door sensor which was run by 1 AA battery. Using Zwave to connect to the Piper it will notify you if the sensor is tripped.

Interestingly, as well as having the above mentioned motion sensor it will also inform you if there is a loud noise or a change in temperature. These things only happen if you tell it to of course. Don’t worry, you don’t get informed of loud noises or motion while you are sitting in the room, only when you turn on each section of the app. Speaking of loud noises the 105 db siren is, how can i put this, really effing loud. The piercing sound is almost painful, which is kind of the point I suppose. One of the benefits of the speakers is the ability to have two way sound. Someone robbing your house? you get to call them a dick and tell them they are being filmed. The Piper also has a battery backup so even if they pull the plug they will still get caught on camera.

The one niggle I have with the security system is the lack of night vision. Piper say that with the home automation side of the device available to turn lights on, a night vision light was not needed but as I didn’t get an home automation plug in the review device and it doesn’t seem to be in the retail version, i cant test that theory. A night camera is extremely important in my eyes and the guys at Piper did say they will be looking into accessories at a later date. At £119 the device is cheap enough that you could buy an extra light and it would still be a good deal.

Home Automation

The Piper has a neat party favour, home automation. Because the Piper uses Zwave, a popular wireless protocol, it is compatible with a lot of home automation gadgets. The device I saw at the launch was a plug that lets you turn any socket into a smart socket. The robust app and a clever scheduling system these devices can use the onboard sensors from the piper to turn things on automagically. For example you can set the piper to turn on a fan when the temperature reaches a certain height or, as the Piper team said, turn on a light when the the window sensor is broken.

There a lot of opportunities to make the piper the centre of your connected home and I hope to see a lot more accessories in the future. We all want to live in Bill Gates house after all.

The App

The Piper app is a very helpful and pretty app. Even though it takes its design cues from iOS it still looks clean and fresh. The dashboard gives you at a glance info as well as four schedule choice buttons which let you turn them on and off very easily. The Home Vitals screen is probably my favourite in the app. It shows you the internal and external temperature as well the humidity, loudness, motion, and even the brightness of the room. All of these stats can be used in the rules tab to make specific scenarios for when the piper should record or when it should use some of its home automation skills.

The live feed tab is really where the magic happens though. From here you can pan and zoom on the four different quadrants of the room or have it on one big screen as well as use the two-way speaker system to scare people. There is also a quick Zwave accessory button which allows you to turn on a device straight from that screen. The video feed is very good on WiFi and you can set the quality on 3g/4g to conserve bandwidth while still getting a good quality picture.

Conclusion

Overall, the Piper Home Security device is great. Starting at £119 for the base model, the Piper offers a low price entry point into home security and home automation. Along with beautiful curves and a professional finish, the Piper offers a solid product with room to expand it into a central Hub for all your connected needs.

If you are considering home security I can certainly recommend this as a place to start.

piperapp piperzwave pipersplit _MG_2171 piperstart

 

Land of Droid -

by James Bricknell at August 21, 2014 09:37 PM

Mutual Mobile Named to Inc. 500 | 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies

Mutual Mobile, an emerging tech agency that builds breakthrough products for a more connected world, today announced it has been named to the annual Inc. 500 | 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. This is Mutual Mobile’s first appearance on the Inc. 500 | 5000 lists, ranked at number 814. Previously, Inc. has recognized Mutual Mobile’s founding team in its 2013 ‘30 under 30’ awards.

“Since we opened our doors in 2009, we’ve experienced tremendous growth,” said Tarun Nimmagadda, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Mutual Mobile. “In 2014 we extended our focus beyond mobile into emerging technology. Today, we’re uniquely positioned to handle some of the most exciting and challenging work including quantified self to the connected home and beyond. Our increased investment in R&D is already resulting in new business growth, and I cannot wait to see where we are next year.”

Focusing on innovation allows Mutual Mobile to put working prototypes in front of clients and prospective clients, showing them what is possible rather than just proposing ideas. This new direction makes it possible for Mutual Mobile to have collaborative relationships with their clients, building breakthrough products that delight customers and drive value for brands.

Mutual Mobile signed on its first client, PeopleFinders.com June, 2009. Since then, the company has built products for hundreds of brands, ranging from Audi to Google. Mutual Mobile has recently expanded its footprint in downtown Austin by remodeling its space to encourage collaboration.

About Inc. 500 | 5000

The Inc. 500 | 5000 is a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Started in 1982, this prestigious list of the nation’s most successful private companies has become the hallmark of entrepreneurial success. The 2014 Inc. 500 | 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing FY 2010 to FY 2013. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2010. All companies must be US-based, privately held, for profit, and independent as of December 31, 2013.

About Mutual Mobile

Mutual Mobile is an emerging tech agency that builds breakthrough products for a more connected world. By finding the sweet spot between technologies, people, and brands, Mutual Mobile unleashes previously impossible value. For more information, visit mutualmobile.com.

The post Mutual Mobile Named to Inc. 500 | 5000 List of Fastest Growing Companies appeared first on Mutual Mobile.

by Mutual Mobile at August 21, 2014 09:26 PM

August 20, 2014

Delight your clients with a Design Studio

Post_20140820_DesignStudio_Header

“Everyone can think. Everyone can draw.”

Those are the core beliefs behind the Design Studio Methodology. I am happy to report that they are spot on. Over the last several months, Mutual Mobile has leaned on Design Studios to solve all sorts of problems for our clients; everything from UX improvements to new product ideation and everything in between. However, the biggest problem the Design Studio Methodology has solved at Mutual Mobile is underutilized talent.

Before we discovered the power of Design Studios, we would gather a team of developers and designers in a room and wait for a solution to emerge. It served us well for our first five years as a company, but then we took the “everyone can think, everyone can draw” approach, and the walls of our office were literally covered in doodles and ideas. Our collective creative output quadrupled, clients were blown away, and the vibe around the workplace was happier than Disney World.

Post_20140820_DesignStudio_ideawall.png

I’m interested. Tell me more.

There are three main reasons why a company may want to adopt the Design Studio Methodology:

1) Leveling the Playing Field

With time and supply constraints (i.e. pen and paper), participants are forced to use low fidelity ways to convey ideas. No one will be at an advantage or disadvantage based on their computer prowess.

2) Collaboration

Because technical ability is thrown out the window, more people within your organization can participate and prosper. Design Studio brings together a group of diverse talent, expertise and points of view to generate many ideas around a problem or project. The more, the merrier.

3) So … Many … IDEAS

What really makes Design Studios worth the time and personnel investment is the quantity and quality of ideas that come out of it. One two-hour session we held generated around 130 valid concepts, and thanks to the Design Studio Methodology, we were able to quickly sift through all the great thinking and find the strongest solutions. At the end of the day, you can rest assured that the surviving concepts are battle tested and ready to push forward.

I’m sold! Now, how do I get started?

Prepping the studio

First thing’s first, you have to recruit the people. The key is gathering participants from every discipline and distinction within your organization. You may also want to get some people from the client side involved, depending on how close they are to the project. If a client is hands off and caught up in a bunch of other stuff, it might be best to just present the results once the Design Studio is complete.

The second thing to take into account is numbers. We’ve successfully ran Design Studios with as few as nine employees (three teams of three) to as many as thirty, taking anywhere from an hour to a few. The question you’ve got to ask yourself is how much time do you have to spare. The greater the number of participants, the greater the time investments.

Post_20140820_DesignStudio_group

Sparking the creativity

Once you’ve corralled your recruits into the “studio” space, get their creative juices flowing with a quick warm-up assignment. For example, hand everyone a Post-It Note and tell them they have a minute to draw a shoe that represents them as a person. You may get some confused faces at first, but by the time that timer goes off, everyone will be better acquainted and ready to do more thinking.

Let the designing commence

Now that all the participants are in the right state of mind, it’s time to get things underway. Start by presenting the problem you’re trying to solve. Be sure to give plenty of background, like who you are targeting with this solution and any other limitations participants should keep in mind while doodling.

Post_20140820_DesignStudio_brief

Next, hand everyone a copy of the brief and an eight-up (a piece of paper with eight boxes for drawing), set a timer for five-ish minutes, and have everyone fill their eight-up with visual solutions to the problem. A few words for clarity are fine, but remember, “everyone can draw.”

From there, you begin a cycle of sketching, presenting, receiving feedback, and polishing your best thoughts. You do this twice, resulting in the melding of all the sharpest ideas from your group into one super-awesome concept.

Post_20140820_DesignStudio_presintation/p>

Once the individual groups have a concept, you do a similar cycle between all the groups in your Design Studio—present the idea, receive the feedback, adjust your idea accordingly. You do this twice, ending in a final presentation where each group pitches their polished concept to the room. No more feedback. No blue ribbons. Just a collection of great ways to solve your client’s problem.

PARTY!!!

Design Studios take a lot out of the participants. After all that brainstorming and drawing, the last thing they’re going to want to do is go back to work. That’s why we usually schedule our Design Studios towards the end of the day, concluding with a happy hour or pizza party. It’s the perfect way to reward your employees for all their hard work, while you prepare to be praised at the client presentation.

The post Delight your clients with a Design Studio appeared first on Mutual Mobile.

by Mobile Minute at August 20, 2014 09:37 PM

The Return of "Gradle for Android... and You!"

“Gradle for Android… and You!” is back!

Earlier this year, I offered a 30-minute free webinar on Gradle for Android: what it is and why it will be important for you, here in 2014 and beyond.

I am running “Gradle for Android… and You!” again in September and early October, with two changes:

  1. It is now a 45-minute webinar, getting into more about how Android Studio and Gradle for Android are related, how Gradle for Android relates to the larger Android development ecosystem, and more.

  2. To register, you need to make a donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Proceeds from these webinars — minus Eventbrite processing fees — will be contributed to the EFF once the webinars are done. Eventbrite’s minimum donation is $1.

So, if you have been hearing about Gradle for Android and are trying to determine what it gives you and why you should be considering it, sign up for the webinar!

Note that this is not a deep technical dive into how to use Gradle for Android. Gradleware and I have an online training course for that, plus the material in my book on the subject.

by Mark Murphy at August 20, 2014 12:09 PM

PWC Going With Google Apps – Ipad Probably to Blame

PWC Going With Google Apps – Ipad Probably to Blame

PWC (PWC:NYSEARCA) one of the most successful and well known financial institutions in the country is switching to Google (GOOG:NASDAQ) Apps for business for their Enterprise needs.  Why, you ask?  Look no further than Apple Inc’s (AAPL:NASDAQ) Ipad.

In 2012 I was working at PWC manning the help desk. While there they initiated an Ipad program for the Managing Partners. That meant issuing well over 9000 Ipads including a few spares.  How well would this work in practice?  Well, the red flags came early and often. From top to bottom no one in the IT department could tell you why these particular individuals needed these particular devices (“The New IPAD” 128GB Model were the first ordered, they’ve since started handing out 16GB models) .  The asset manager informed the technicians that the partners would be expected to do work from the road.  My first thought was “expected by who?”  My team lead told us that they wouldn’t actually be expected to increase productivity, and to put it bluntly a few partners had one and the others wanted to be part of the club.

It was starting to look like a mandate with no purpose, and all know how those turn out.  Eventually you’ll realize you’re not getting what you pay for, but by then it may be too late.  In a few months PWC will switch to Google Apps for business.  More than two years after all they people who knew what they were talking about said, “this isn’t a good idea.” Lets examine what finally lead to this change, and try to give small business owners some insight into why google is eventually going to win in Enterprise.

Initial Setup - Initial Setup of a device is actually very important for the user.  Many people are surprised that a lot of Android Phones don’t come with manuals.  The initial setup is part of the learning curve.  Without going through it the user is at a great disadvantage.  Couple this with most Partners Intense fear of looking uninformed around subordinates, and you’ll get Executive Assistants Coming to the Help desk like “Um this is a partners’s phone, he doesn’t know how to turn it on.”

Guess What? Not one of them did the initial setup.  The help desk did the initial unpacking and setup, including entering email credentials and wifi setup. We then downloaded all of the company and third party apps that the users would need (another huge mistake). Let’s be clear, as soon as these people walked out of the building they would need to know how to setup wifi at their next location.  Why would the help desk want to contribute to the learning curve when initial wifi setup teaches you the basics of….wifi setup.  Another huge mistake that management made was the assumption that owning an iphone meant you would have no problems with an ipad.  Unfortunately in this case initial setup included a suite of apps not designed or maintained by Apple Inc. (AAPL).  The proper amount of time and resources needed to train users on new applications on top of their normal work load was never allocated.  A packet was handed out during the one and only training session. This included directions and screen shots, but nothing to do with best practices or troubleshooting. I understand that roll-outs designed like this are systemic and originate from a lack of communication with the IT department, but as an organization you should give your top earners more in-depth support. To make matters worse, some of the Partners sent their executive assistants to the single training session that was held.  I wasn’t aware that being a technology trainer was part of an EA’s job description…

With Google Apps for Business The setup time for the team would have been significantly less.  With Google Apps for Business the Administrator account can push applications to specific devices at any time.  As soon as you’re finished entering your credentials the apps you want are automatically downloaded.  The Admin account can also control whether or not those apps automatically update.  As of a few months ago, even wifi settings can be included in the data that is pushed to devices.

When doing a device roll-out it is as much about accuracy as it is about speed.  From the lack of a gesture keyboard to the inability to share data through NFC the ipad proved to be a much more tedious process in setup than the average android device.  Here is a video of some young persons  setting up a suite of Nexus 7′s.  Full Discloser the average setup time for the Ipads was at least 4 minutes each.

210 Seconds: 2nd graders Set Up 25 Nexus Tablets in 3 minutes

The App Suite The biggest problem we ran into was getting the apps/systems to talk to each other.  PWC used a number of different apps to try to cover their bases but it never really worked because the apps didn’t talk to each other. They had substitutes for PowerPoint, Word, and Excel, but these applications each had their own file saving and sharing system.  As we all know its only been very recently that Apple has looked into an improved sharing mechanism.  In fact PWC had to pay a separate company to manage an application that allowed for file transfers from the Ipad to the Partner’s PCs.  Since many of the files the Partners dealt with were too large to be emailed, it became necessary for the user to connect to a PC in order to share large documents.  Needless to say very little work was done on the devices because the users saw the entire process as a convoluted.  The Ipads ended up being used to watch video, surf the web and check email.

With Google Apps for Business Everything talks to everything else (unless you dont want it to). It literally just works.  On any device with a browser you can do just about everything. Any device.  See for yourself.

Google Apps Suite

In light of this..

The Math It just doesn’t add up.  Today every new PWC Partner is given a new 16GB Ipad Retina Display with cellular data. We’ll do the math based on these models even though if they are lost or stolen they’re replaced with the 32GB Model (um…ok).  We’re also going to assume that PWC is receiving a discount of over 25% and pays $400 USD per Unit.  Remember this does not include the monthly cost of cell service.  At this rate at least 3.6 Million Dollars has been spent to date.  This does not include the overtime provided to the IT staff for the actual unpacking and setup.  This does not include peripherals of which there were an abundance of.  This also doesn’t include the spares and replacements.  A reminder that the initial batch actually included the 128GB version.  I’m not sure when,  but at some point they realized their target user almost never use all that space for work.

After a few months the users readily admitted that their mobile work habits had changed very little. Those individuals who already owned an Ipad with the dock that included the keyboard were the only ones who did any serious document creation and editing.  Don’t get me wrong, people loved those things.  It just strikes me as odd that an institution known for squeezing every dollar out of every transaction wouldn’t want to save $900,000.  Yup, if PWC had initially gone with the Google Nexus 10 (and by default Google Apps), and the same 25% discount is applied, the company only pays 2.7 Million to better assist its Partners in watching movies, surfing the internet, and checking email.  This would have gotten them the 32GB Nexus 10. I’ll admit that not having cell service included with the device would have been a negative, if each partner wasn’t issued a company cellphone that included tethering in the data package.

There is a very real reason Apple is working so hard to improve its position in Enterprise.  Just like in the mobile space five years ago Google is showing signs it’s ready to start eating Apple’s lunch.  After enjoying an almost un-challenged position when Blackberry shit the bed apple seems to have fallen behind on Enterprise Innovation.  When I left PWC there was one member of the Help Desk that used an Iphone, but all of us used Google Apps.  The beauty of Google’s latest innovations is in the lack of restriction.  As long as you have a browser you can get things done.  After two years of “Enterprise by Apple” PWC’s partners might actually be expected to do some work on those ipads in the near future. At least they’ll finally have the tools.

 

Land of Droid -

by Obi Onyeador (thenewmalcolm) at August 20, 2014 11:33 AM

August 19, 2014

Better Code Review

Software peer review is essential on a modern development team. Learn how to keep your code healthy, and your people happy in this 15 minute talk from Forward JS.

by Max Walker at August 19, 2014 11:57 PM

August 18, 2014

Want to Review a Beta Book?

UPDATE: This program is now closed – thanks to all who responded!

Version 6.0 of The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development should be released around September 4th. At the suggestion of a subscriber, I am offering early access to a draft of the book to 10 active subscribers who are interested in reviewing the new Android Studio coverage. I should be delivering this draft late this week, so reviewers would have a bit over a week to examine the draft and provide any feedback.

Besides the cap of 10 reviewers, there are some limits on this program:

  • It is open to active subscribers only, not to former subscribers or the general public.

  • The draft will only be published in PDF form. In particular, I am testing smallpdf’s PDF compression service, which so far has worked remarkably well in reducing the PDF file size while not seeming to wreck images and whatnot.

  • I will offer a limited version of the Book Bug Bounty program, where any reviewer who reports bugs in the draft gets a six-month Warescription extension. The normal bounty program offers six months per emailed bug report, but as I will not have completed my own review of the changes by the time I deliver the draft, I am capping the bounty for the draft to one bounty per reviewer.

  • This is a one-time program, to help with the extensive changes going into this book update. If this program is a success, I may do it for future changes of similar scope, but there will be a fresh call for reviewers at that point.

  • I reserve the right to cancel the program, though I have no idea why I would.

If you are interested in reviewing the draft of Version 6.0 of my book, please send me an email, stating that you are interested in this program, along with your Warescription user ID. I will reply to let you know if you successfully qualified. I will update the blog post once I have 10 reviewers to indicate that the program is not accepting new candidates.

Thanks in advance to everyone who reviews the draft!

by Mark Murphy at August 18, 2014 12:00 PM

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 11, 2014

Read this: androiduiux.com - Crafting the Unclouded Experience

Taylor Ling has written yet another post that is absolutely worth your time. In the latest post Taylor describes the process behind crafting the user experience for the Unclouded app.


Read the full post here:
http://androiduiux.com/2014/08/12/crafting-the-unclouded-experience/

by Juhani Lehtimäki (noreply@blogger.com) at August 11, 2014 09:04 PM

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 05, 2014

Material design in the 2014 Google I/O app

By Roman Nurik, lead designer for the Google I/O Android App

Every year for Google I/O, we publish an Android app for the conference that serves two purposes. First, it serves as a companion for conference attendees and those tuning in from home, with a personalized schedule, a browsing interface for talks, and more. Second, and arguably more importantly, it serves as a reference demo for Android design and development best practices.

Last week, we announced that the Google I/O 2014 app source code is now available, so you can go check out how we implemented some of the features and design details you got to play with during the conference. In this post, I’ll share a glimpse into some of our design thinking for this year’s app.

On the design front, this year’s I/O app uses the new material design approach and features of the Android L Developer Preview to present content in a rational, consistent, adaptive and beautiful way. Let’s take a look at some of the design decisions and outcomes that informed the design of the app.

Surfaces and shadows

In material design, surfaces and shadows play an important role in conveying the structure of your app. The material design spec outlines a set of layout principles that helps guide decisions like when and where shadows should appear. As an example, here are some of the iterations we went through for the schedule screen:

First iteration
Second iteration
Third iteration

The first iteration was problematic for a number of reasons. First, the single shadow below the app bar conveyed that there were two “sheets” of paper: one for the app bar and another for the tabs and screen contents. The bottom sheet was too complex: the “ink” that represents the contents of a sheet should be pretty simple; here ink was doing too much work, and the result was visual noise. An alternative could be to make the tabs a third sheet, sitting between the app bar and content, but too much layering can also be distracting.

The second and third iterations were stronger, creating a clear separation between chrome and content, and letting the ink focus on painting text, icons, and accent strips.

Another area where the concept of “surfaces” played a role was in our details page. In our first release, as you scroll the details screen, the top banner fades from the session image to the session color, and the photo scrolls at half the speed beneath the session title, producing a parallax effect. Our concern was that this design bent the physics of material design too far. It’s as if the text was sliding along a piece of paper whose transparency changed throughout the animation.

A better approach, which we introduced in the app update on June 25th, was to introduce a new, shorter surface on which the title text was printed. This surface has a consistent color and opacity. Before scrolling, it’s adjacent to the sheet containing the body text, forming a seam. As you scroll, this surface (and the floating action button attached to it) rises above the body text sheet, allowing the body text to scroll beneath it.

This aligns much better with the physics in the world of material design, and the end result is a more coherent visual, interaction and motion story for users. (See the code: Fragment, Layout XML)

Color

A key principle of material design is also that interfaces should be “bold, graphic, intentional” and that the foundational elements of print-based design should guide visual treatments. Let’s take a look at two such elements: color and margins.

In material design, UI element color palettes generally consist of one primary and one accent color. Large color fields (like the app bar background) take on the main 500 shade of the primary color, while smaller areas like the status bar use a darker shade, e.g. 700.

The accent color is used more subtly throughout the app, to call attention to key elements. The resulting juxtaposition of a tamer primary color and a brighter accent, gives apps a bold, colorful look without overwhelming the app’s actual content.

In the I/O app, we chose two accents, used in various situations. Most accents were Pink 500, while the more conservative Light Blue 500 was a better fit for the Add to Schedule button, which was often adjacent to session colors. (See the code: XML color definitions, Theme XML)

And speaking of session colors, we color each session’s detail screen based on the session’s primary topic. We used the base material design color palette with minor tweaks to ensure consistent brightness and optimal contrast with the floating action button and session images.

Below is an excerpt from our final session color palette exploration file.

Session colors, with floating action button juxtaposed to evaluate contrast
Desaturated session colors, to evaluate brightness consistency across the palette

Margins

Another important “traditional print design” element that we thought about was margins, and more specifically keylines. While we’d already been accustomed to using a 4dp grid for vertical sizing (buttons and simple list items were 48dp, the standard action bar was 56dp, etc.), guidance on keylines was new in material design. Particularly, aligning titles and other textual items to keyline 2 (72dp on phones and 80dp on tablets) immediately instilled a clean, print-like rhythm to our screens, and allowed for very fast scanning of information on a screen. Gestalt principles, for the win!

Grids

Another key principle in material design is “one adaptive design”:

A single underlying design system organizes interactions and space. Each device reflects a different view of the same underlying system. Each view is tailored to the size and interaction appropriate for that device. Colors, iconography, hierarchy, and spatial relationships remain constant.

Now, many of the screens in the I/O app represent collections of sessions. For presenting collections, material design offers a number of containers: cards, lists, and grids. We originally thought to use cards to represent session items, but since we’re mostly showing homogenous content, we deemed cards inappropriate for our use case. The shadows and rounded edges of the cards would add too much visual clutter, and wouldn’t aid in visually grouping content. An adaptive grid was a better choice here; we could vary the number of columns on screen size (see the code), and we were free to integrate text and images in places where we needed to conserve space.

Delightful details

Two of the little details we spent a lot of time perfecting in the app, especially with the L Developer Preview, were touch ripples and the Add to Schedule floating action button.

We used both the clipped and unclipped ripple styles throughout the app, and made sure to customize the ripple color to ensure the ripples were visible (but still subtle) regardless of the background. (See the code: Light ripples, Dark ripples)

But one of our favorite details in the app is the floating action button that toggles whether a session shows up in your personalized schedule or not:

We used a number of new API methods in the L preview (along with a fallback implementation) to ensure this felt right:

  1. View.setOutline and setClipToOutline for circle-clipping and dynamic shadow rendering.
  2. android:stateListAnimator to lift the button toward your finger on press (increase the drop shadow)
  3. RippleDrawable for ink touch feedback on press
  4. ViewAnimationUtils.createCircularReveal for the blue/white background state reveal
  5. AnimatedStateListDrawable to define the frame animations for changes to icon states (from checked to unchecked)

The end result is a delightful and whimsical UI element that we’re really proud of, and hope that you can draw inspiration from or simply drop into your own apps.

What’s next?

And speaking of dropping code into your own apps, remember that all the source behind the app, including L Developer Preview features and fallback code paths, is now available, so go check it out to see how we implemented these designs.

We hope this post has given you some ideas for how you can use material design to build beautiful Android apps that make the most of the platform. Stay tuned for more posts related to this year’s I/O app open source release over the coming weeks to get even more great ideas for ways to deliver the best experience to your users.

by Android Developers (noreply@blogger.com) at August 05, 2014 03:30 PM

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

August 02, 2014

Double Star Android Game – Beta Version

Double Star is a turn-based, single player, space war game for Android. The app is now available for prerelease testing on Android phones and tablets. If you join the Double Star Beta community on Google+, you will be able to install the app from the Google Play store. ... Storyline - Our world is under attack from an invading alien force. You want to join the fight. So you join StarFleet Academy to learn to command a starship. When training completes, you are given command of a very powerful starship. You must stop the invasion now. Multiple battles later, you stop the invaders. ... After the invasion is over, you learn that our world is safe, but the threat is still out there somewhere.Your mission then is to discover a path through the galaxy that takes you to the alien home world. You must destroy them and stop the threat once and for all. Continue reading

by Bill Lahti at August 02, 2014 03:29 PM

July 31, 2014

Learn How UX Design can Make Your App More Successful

By Nazmul Idris, a Developer Advocate at Google who's passionate about Android and UX design

As a mobile developer, how do you create 5-star apps that your users will not just download, but love to use every single day? How do you get your app noticed, and how do you drive engagement? One way is to focus on excellence in design — from visual and interaction design to user research, in other words: UX design.

If you’re new to the world of UX design but want to embrace it to improve your apps, we've created a new online course just for you. The UX Design for Mobile Developers course teaches you how to put your designer hat on, in addition to your developer hat, as you think about your apps' ideal user and how to meet their needs.

The course is divided into a series of lessons, each of which gives you practical takeaways that you can apply immediately to start seeing the benefits of good UX design.

Without jargon or buzzwords, the course teaches you where you should focus your attention, to bring in new users, keep existing users engaged, and increase your app's ratings. You'll learn how to optimize your app, rather than optimizing login/signup forms, and how to use low-resolution wireframing.

After you take the course, you'll "level up" from being an excellent developer to becoming an excellent design-minded developer.

Check out the video below to get a taste of what the course is like, and click through this short deck for an overview of the learning plan.

The full course materials — all the videos, quizzes, and forums — are available for free for all students by selecting “View Courseware”. Personalized ongoing feedback and guidance from Coaches is also available to anyone who chooses to enroll in Udacity’s guided program.

If that’s not enough, for even more about UX design from a developer's perspective, check out our YouTube UXD series, on the AndroidDevelopers channel: http://bit.ly/uxdplaylist.


by Android Developers (noreply@blogger.com) at July 31, 2014 07:32 PM

July 28, 2014

Download TWRP Recovery for the Galaxy Tab S

The post Download TWRP Recovery for the Galaxy Tab S appeared first on galaxytabreview.

TWRP is a recovery that can be used to flash firmwares on to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S. It can also be used for rooting the Tab S.

Here are the steps on how to download and install it on your tablet.

Play Store Link
1) Install TWRP Manager from the Play Store
2) Open TWRP Manager and provide root permissions
3) Hit Advanced->Install Recovery
4) Verify the correct device name on your screen then press Install Recovery if the correct device is showing

If you are not comfortable with the play store method, you can do a manual installation by using ODIN application. For that download the required TAR file from here.

Download TWRP Recovery galaxy tab s

Then in ODIN select the file by clicking on PDA button and flash it. Make sure you have your Tab S in recovery mode before pressing the START button. For getting your Tab into recovery, press volume up and power button down together as soon as the screen blinks blank so that it goes into recovery.

by Galaxy Tab Review at July 28, 2014 08:01 AM

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 07, 2014

Things you should know about the Galaxy Tab S

The post Things you should know about the Galaxy Tab S appeared first on galaxytabreview.

The latest tablet from Samsung is here and it is being touted as the best Android tablet out tehre. It gives you access to loads of applications and optional 4G connectivity.

So what should you know about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S.

1. One of the best tablet screens

There is no point in getting a tablet if it does not have a crisp display. Samsung is calling it the "the industry’s best display" thanks to amazing combination of super high resolution and advanced color reproduction. It can automatically adjusts the screen mode based on whether you’re watching a film, flicking through photos or just browsing the web.

2. Thinnest and Lightest Sammy’s tablet

The Tab S comes in two sizes – 8.4 inches and 10.5 inches and both tablets are very light. The 10.5 inch tablet weighs just 465 grams. This makes it lighter than all the Android tablets out there. Also it is just 6.6mm thin and thus you will barely notice it in your bag.

3. Fingerprint reader

The Tab S comes with a fingerprint scanner built into the screen and not only does it feel cool to unlock your tablet, it also means that your private data will beas you safe and sound even if the tablet ever falls into the wrong hands.

4. Split screen multitasking

If you love split screen multitasking you will adore the Galaxy Tab S. This will allow you to be more productive as you will able to work on two windows at a time.

Things you should know about the Galaxy Tab S

5. Productivity booster

You can easily and wirelessly transfer files and information between the Tab S and a Galaxy smartphone thanks to SideSync 3.0.

6. Freebies

With the Tab S you get three months of Sky Movies from NOW TV for free, as well as 1,500 Marvel Comics and access to news and magazines through Paper garden.

by Galaxy Tab Review at July 07, 2014 08:56 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: Rehash

All of the videos have been posted from the various sessions I was in this year. Here they are, along with links to the slides.

What's new in Android

A presentation with +Dan Sandler that provides a quick overview of some of the larger features and new APIs in the L Developer Preview release and other new bits in the recent Androidosphere. There's also a really good deep-dive into Notifications, since Dan's the non-local expert on the subject.



Slides (PDF)


Material science

This session, presented with +Adam Powell, provides an overview of the engineering side of the Material design system. Many of the other sessions at Google I/O this year discussed the design side; this presentation covers the technical details of the APIs and the capabilities exposed by the framework for Android developers.



Slides (PDF)


Material witness

I was happy to be joined once again by former Android developer and UI Toolkit team lead +Romain Guy for this talk on some of the new Material design elements in the L Developer Preview release. The idea behind this talk was to go a bit deeper into using and explaining the new APIs, as well as explaining how some of the features, like realtime soft shadows, work.



For slides as well as demo code, check out Romain's blog at curious-creature.org.


Android fireside chat

This session, organized and moderated by +Reto Meier, I found to be more interesting than other such panels I've seen. Often, these things tend to have a lot of awkward silences as the panelists try to figure out the most interesting way of saying "No comment" since there's a general policy on Android of not talking about future development plans. This time, there was a lot of discussion around how and why some parts of the system work, which I enjoyed as an audience member that just happened to be sitting somewhat closer to the panel.

by Chet Haase (noreply@blogger.com) at June 27, 2014 05:08 PM

Talk to Your Toaster: Bluetooth & USB for Android

The Android framework provides options for connecting external accessory devices to applications via technologies like Bluetooth and USB. Learn how to expand the reach of your Android devices.

by Evan Davis at June 27, 2014 12:07 PM

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 04, 2014

Mobile Carrier Payments - Now Available via SlideME


SlideME & Fortumo









SlideME now supports the option for users to pay via Mobile carrier through our partnership with Fortumo. This is an important milestone for SlideME to bring such a payment option at the store level, as opposed to developers having to implement intruding commerce options within each of their apps. Unfortunately Mobile carrier payments, unlike traditional payment options, have different price points for each country. Such price points do not accommodate the exact set price of an app, nor is it fair to users for such an app price to be fixed to the carriers’ price points per country. This means the same app could be more expensive in one country than another. For this reason SlideME has implemented a feature where any overpayment is credited to the user’s SlideME Wallet balance, which can be used to purchase other apps (or in-app items if the app is using the recently released SlideME In-App-Payments SDK or supported Open In-App Billing).


“3rd party Android app stores are becoming increasingly popular and we are excited to work together with SlideME, one of the leaders in this space. By adding mobile payments to their apps published on SlideME, developers can now earn more revenue from almost 5 billion people who do not have or do not want to use a credit card. With carrier billing, they can now conveniently charge purchases directly to their phone bill”

- Gerri Kodres, SVP of Business Development and Carrier Relations, Fortumo


List of countries supported currently for Mobile Payments http://slideme.org/payment-methods/operator-billing-coverage New SlideME Market (SAM) ver 6 app was also released this May 2014. As always, you can download from http://slideme.org/sam.apk

read more

by SlideME at June 04, 2014 07:26 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

April 05, 2014

CyanogenMod Installer Removed from Google Play Store

Why do you hate me?

Why do you hate me?

A bit of news sure to disappoint fans of Cid, the CyanogenMod team recently took to their blog to explain the removal of the exceptionally popular “CyanogenMod Installer” from the Google Play Store. Despite being installed on more than 100,000 devices and maintaining a 4.2 star average rating, Google has decided this particular little blue guy isn’t up to snuff.

Cordial Ejection

It’s worth noting that Google didn’t pull the CM Installer from the Play Store, rather they contacted the team and asked that they voluntarily remove the application before Google themselves had to intervene.

This strikes us as a relatively classy way to tell somebody you don’t want them publishing their software in your marketplace, and it’s certainly a step up from the treatment most developers are given: your application get’s thrown out on its ass like the drunk guy who keeps making trouble.

When the CM team asked Google for clarification as to why they were being escorted out the door, they actually sent them a proper response rather than pointing them to the TOS with a canned message:

After reaching out to the Play team, their feedback was that though application itself is harmless, and not actually in violation of their Terms of Service, since it ‘encourages users to void their warranty’, it would not be allowed to remain in the store.

CM Blog

Looking Ahead

It’s hard to argue with Google’s point. While the CM installer is undoubtedly an excellent gateway to get new users in to the world of custom Android ROMs, there’s absolutely a concern about less knowledgeable users getting themselves into a bad situation with this type of software.

Of course, in the end, the Play Store is Google’s domain and they can do whatever the hell they please. It seems pretty unlikely that the CM Installer will be returning to the official Android ecosystem anytime soon, but the CM team says they’ll be looking into getting onto alternative Android repositories such as the ones offered by Amazon and Samsung, so those looking for a one-click installation of the world’s most popular community Android ROM hopefully won’t be out in the cold for too long.

by Tom Nardi at April 05, 2014 03:30 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 April 05, 2014 03:30 PM

March 11, 2014

Beyond RenderScript - parallelism with NEON


My last post about the parallel implementation of Distributed Time Warping (DTW) algorithm was a disappointment. The RenderScript runtime executed the parallel implementation significantly slower than the single-core implementation (also implemented with RenderScript). It turned out that parallelizing the processing of 10000-50000 element vectors on multiple cores were not worth the cost of the multi-thread processing and all the overhead that comes with it (threads, semaphores, etc.). One core must be allocated a significantly larger workload but our DTW algorithm is not able to generate such a large, independent workload because rows of the DTW matrix depend on each other. So in order to exploit RenderScript multi-core support, it is best to have an algorithm where the output depends on only the input and not on some intermediate result because this type of algorithm can be sliced up easily to multiple cores.

It would have been such a waste to discard our quite complicated parallel processing DTW algorithm so I turned to other means of parallel execution. Multi-core is one option but the ARM processors in popular Android devices have another parallel execution engine, internal to the core, the NEON execution engine. One NEON instruction is able to process 4 32-bit integers in parallel (see picture below). Can we speed up DTW fourfold with this option?



NEON is actually quite an old technology, even Nexus One was equipped with it. It is much more widely deployed therefore than multi-core CPUs. While ordinary applications can take advantage of multi-core CPUs (e.g. two processes can execute in parallel on two cores), NEON programs are difficult to write. Although some compilers claim the ability to generate NEON code and template libraries are available, the experience is that the potential performance benefits cannot be exploited without hand-coding in assembly and that's not for the faint hearted.

The example program is attached at the end of this post. You have to be logged to the Sfonge site to access it.

The relevant functions are in jni/cpucore.c. There are 3 implementations, processNativeSlow, processNative and processNativeNEON, each is progressively more optimized than the previous one. The processNativeSlow and processNative functions are in C, in processNativeNEON the most time-critical loop ("tight loop") is entirely implemented in mixed ARM/NEON assembly. This tight loop produces 4 result elements in parallel so we expect huge performance gain over the single-core RenderScript implementation (dtw.rs).

The experience is completely different. While the NEON implementation is significantly faster on small datasets, one second of voice is 8000 samples so data sizes grow quickly. On 10 second data sets (80000 samples, 6.4 billion element DTW matrix) the simple nested loop C99 implementation and the complex, hard to understand NEON implementation produces about the same execution time.

How is this possible? Let's take an example of 10 second reference and evaluation samples. This means 80000 elements, 80000*80000=6.4 billion values to calculate. Calculating each value takes 20 bytes to access (2 input samples (2 bytes each), 3 neighbor cells (4 bytes each) and storing the result (4 bytes)). A1 SD Bench measures 800 Mbyte/sec copying performance on my Galaxy Nexus (and similar values on the two cheap Android tablets that the family has), that obviously means 2 accesses (one read and one write). For simplicity, let's assume that reads and writes take about the same time. This means that according to this very rough calculation, the memory accesses themselves take about 80 sec. The real execution time is about 120 sec, the difference can be explained by the simplifications. Cache does not really help because of the large data size. The performance is determined by the RAM speed and the simplest single-core implementation already reaches the bottleneck. All the wizardry with parallelism is futile.

Obviously the case was not helped by the selection of the DTW algorithm as benchmark which intentionally does not fit into the class of algorithms normally used to demonstrate the benefits of parallel processing. Grayscale conversion would be better (one read, one write and 3 multiplications per pixel). But this means that you actually have to be really lucky with your algorithms for these parallel options to speed up your code significantly. Even then, it is worth looking at the parallel options inside the core before going multi-core. And you definitely should not forget the auxiliary costs of parallel computation, e.g. distributing/gathering the data to/from the parallel processing units or whether other hardware (e.g. memory) is able to keep the pace with the CPU.

One wild idea at the end. Could RenderScript computation model be used to generate NEON code? With some limitations, the answer is probably yes.

by Gabor Paller (noreply@blogger.com) at March 11, 2014 08:42 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

SlideME announces In-App-Payments SDK, Payouts in bitcoins, and new payment methods


SlideME has several key announcements:  

  1. Availability of the SlideME In-App-Payments (IAP) SDK
  2. Developer Payouts in bitcoins
  3. Mobile billing with many more payment methods to come
  4. Users can earn virtual currency to pay for apps or purchase in-app-items
With the release of the SlideME IAP SDK, developers can monetize their freemium apps (i.e., free to download but include the option for users to purchase in-app-items) distributed via SlideME to the many Android Open Source Project (AOSP) based devices without Google Play Services. In-app purchases for users is seamless as they can continue to use our current or new payment options, including purchasing in-app items through their existing SlideME Wallet.


The sheer volume of non-Google Play enabled devices can no longer be ignored by app publishers as more device vendors are leveraging the AOSP, which does not include the closed-source apps and services like Google Play and Google Maps. Developers should have a distribution strategy for apps being distributed to these AOSP based devices .


Today at MWC, we’re seeing Nokia releasing the Nokia X device based on the AOSP, and therefore without Google Play. SlideME as of today is present on the Nokia X, and many other device manufacturers have preloaded SlideME as a respected alternative to Google Play.





Good news for developers today from SlideME.  Developers have the option to be paid out in Bitcoins or to their Coinbase Wallet instantly.


read more

by SlideME at February 24, 2014 05:21 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

February 07, 2014

RenderScript in Android - the parallel version

In the previous post I promised to revisit the parallel case. The big promise of RenderScript is to exploit parallelism among different CPUs, GPUs and DSPs in the device at no additional cost. Once the algorithm is properly transformed into parallel version, the RenderScript runtime grabs whatever computing devices are available and schedules the subtask automatically.

The problem with DTW is that it is not so trivial to parallelize. Each cell in the matrix depends on cells at (x-1,y), (x-1,y-1) and (x,y-1) (provided that the cell to calculate is at (x,y)). By traversing the matrix horizontally or vertically, only two rows (one horizontal and one vertical) can be evaluated in parallel.

Michael Leahy recommended a paper that solves this problem. This algorithm traverses the matrix diagonally. Each diagonal row depends on the two previous diagonal rows but cells in one diagonal row don't depend on each other. One diagonal row can be then fed to RenderScript to iterate over it. The picture below illustrates the concept.



The example program can be downloaded at the end of this post. You have to be logged to Sfonge site to access it.

You will notice that there are two parallel implementations. The findReferenceSignalC99Parallel() is the "proper" implementation that follows closely the RenderScript tutorial. Here the diagonal rows are iterated in Java and only the parallel kernel is implemented in RenderScript. This version - even though it is functional - is not invoked by default because it delivers completely inacceptable performance on my 2-core Galaxy Nexus. By looking closely at the execution times, I concluded that even though RenderScript runtime invocations ( copying into Allocations and invoking forEach) are normally fast, sometimes very innocent-looking invocations (like copying 5 integers into an Allocation) can take about a second. This completely ruined this implementation's performance.

The other parallel implementation which is actually invoked and whose performance is compared to the 1-core RenderScript implementation (the fastest one) is findReferenceSignalC99ParallelRSOnly(). This version is implemented entirely in RenderScript. Unfortunately its performance is 2-2.5 times slower than the 1-core implementation. How can it be?

First, if you compare dtw.rs and dtwparallel2.rs, you will notice that the parallel implementation is considerably more complex. Indexing out those varying-length diagonal rows takes a bit of fiddling while the 1-core implementation can take the advantage of fast pointer arithmetic to move from cell to cell sequentially. So the parallel implementation starts with a handicap. This handicap is not compensated by the 2 cores of the Galaxy Nexus.

OK, Galaxy Nexus is the stone age but what happens on a 4-core processor like on a Nexus 4? The runtime does launch with 4 cores but then the Adreno driver kicks in and the result is that the parallel implementation is about 3 times slower than the serial one. What happens in the driver, I don't know, as far as I can see, the source code is not available.

Jasons Sams recommended to disable the GPU driver with
adb shell setprop debug.rs.default-CPU-driver 1
but I decided to stop my adventures here. The conclusion I drew for myself is that RenderScript in its present form is not ready for parallel programming. Clang-LLVM is a very promising compilation technology but the parallel runtime suffers from a number of problems. IMHO, there should be a way to programmatically control the way the workloads are allocated to CPUs/GPUs. Until then, if you want to harness the power of your multicore processor, code the parallel runtime yourself. Using RenderScript for the serial code if you wish.

by Gabor Paller (noreply@blogger.com) at February 07, 2014 08:35 PM

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 18, 2013

App Translation Service Now Available to All Developers

To help developers reach users in other languages, Google launched the App Translation Service, which allows developers to purchase professional app translations through the Google Play Developer Console. This is part of a toolbox of localization features you can (and should!) take advantage of as you distribute your app around the world through Google Play.

You’ll find the App Translation Service in the Developer Console at the bottom of the APK section — you can start a new translation or manage an existing translation here. You’ll be able to upload your app’s file of string resources, select the languages you want to translate into, select a professional translation vendor, and place your order. Pro tip: you can put your store listing text into the file you upload to the App Translation Service. You’ll be able to communicate with your translator to be sure you get a great result, and download your translated string files. After you do some localization testing, you’ll be ready to publish your newly translated app update on Google Play — with localized store listing text and graphics. Be sure to check back to see the results on your user base, and track the results of marketing campaigns in your new languages using Google Analytics integration.

You can read more from here

by James at December 18, 2013 05:24 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() & 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() & MotionEvent.ACTION_POINTER_INDEX_MASK) >> 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) > mTouchSlop || Math.abs(dy) > 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

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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

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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

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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

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

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 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