Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Native Android Tablet Apps?

I noticed that we are starting to see the expected "iPad fighter" articles regarding the new Galaxy Tab. I like the form factor of the Tab. A seven inch screen, to me, strikes the right balance between portability and larger-than-phone screens. In my experience, the iPad is just too big and heavy for me to hold for more than a few minutes. That said, developers are cranking out iPad versions of apps and are taking advantage of the new real estate instead of just copying their iPhone apps. I think this is going to be a problem for early Android Tablet adopters. I haven't heard anything about Android developers re-creating their apps for Tablets--let alone specifically for 1024x600 screens. This means that early android adopters-- outside of built-in apps--are going to be running mostly phone apps that either won't use the full screen or will be very pixelated with small buttons. I hope I am wrong and that we see tablet specific apps for Android, but until we can get a definite standard resolution, I think they will be few and far between.

Monday, August 30, 2010

1024x600: The new Android tablet standard resolution?

The specs for new Toshiba 10" Android tablet, the Folio just leaked and the resolution is 1024 x 600(the name is a bit unfortunate). This is good and bad news. The good news is that this is the same resolution as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and, therefore, a standard resolution for Android tablets could be emerging. This resolution also has the advantage of being about 1.2x the lines of resolution of most new Android phones for easy scaling of applications. The bad news is that this resolution, especially for 10" tablets, is a little low. The iPad at 1024x768 is a little pixelated for my taste and these tablets come in short of that. You can read my recommendations for a standard Android tablet resolution here. Hopefully the second generation of Android Tablets will have a higher resolution.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Some Random Android Thoughts

Here are a few things about Android that I have been wondering about.

1. Android 3.0 Leaks. Where are they?
  • Why haven't there been any Android 3.0 "Gingerbread" leaks. Android's new OS is due by the end of the year, but we know next to nothing about it. I can't remember the last time there were no leaks of information about a major product that was due in a few months. Google is certainly keeping this one close to the vest.

2. Android resolution scaling.

  • I mentioned in my post below that I am worried about resolution fragmentation in the Android tablet market. But, why is it so difficult to write programs that have different resolutions. It is a given that any Windows program will run in a dozen resolutions. Why is this so difficult in Android?

3. Mobile Digital Television Tuners.

  • When will we see the first mobile digital television receivers built into an Android phone? This will be a huge advantage for Android as I do not see Jobs throwing this into an iPhone.

4. Snap-on Game Controllers.

  • For Droid 1 users (and now others), the Game Gripper, which turns your keyboard into a Nintendo-like controller, is a good alternative. But, when will we see Android phones that snap into game controllers (to look like a PSP). Frankly, touch screen controlls on most action oriented games suck--they are inaccurate and your fingers are covering part of the screen. We know that Sony is building a controller into an upcoming Android phone, but why not make accessory controllers that phones snap into? This would make playing android games a much better experience and give Android another leg up on the iPhone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Gameloft Business Model Controversy

Gameloft, knockoff king, and creator of some of the best games for the iPhone and Android has decided to sell it's Android games (except Asphalt 5 for some reason) directly through it's website because of how easy it is to bootleg Android apps. I don't blame them as they are a business and out to make money. My major gripe with them is that if you have to do a system reset, want to install a new ROM, or switch phones, you can not re-download the games after six months. I bought Dungeon Hunter (Diablo clone) and will not be able to play it on my next phone unless I want to pay for it again(it's replay value is low though). Even before six months, you have to contact customer service to get a new download link, which is not difficult, but a bit of a pain. Many customer have also had problems downloading the games after paying for them.

Recently Gameloft has decided to offer demos of it's games free. For example, you get two holes of Let's Golf (Hot shots Golf Clone), and a short level of Nova (Halo Clone). It is certainly nice to be able to try out the games first. Personally, I think this is great and Gameloft is trying to find a compromise with its customers. Not content to get FREE demos commenters at Phandroid still have to complain. Hopefully, after the new Android market copy protection is up and running we will see Gameloft games in the market and this issue will be moot.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Review Pet Peve

Reading over a ZDNet review of the Samsung EPIC 4G for Sprint, I noticed that author dinged the Epic for not have Android 2.2 yet. Is this really a legitimate criticism when it will have 2.2 shortly and all rooted Epics have 2.2 available? If the Epic were never getting 2.2 then fine, but it is silly to knock a phone that will have 2.2 in a few weeks.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Reviewers That Lower Scores Because of Pre-installed Custom Interfaces

I have recently read a lot of reviews disparaging the inclusion of the new Motorola Ninjablur and Samsung Touchwiz home screen interfaces. From lag to longing for the stock interface, reviewers lower the score of phones because of these additions. To me this evidences that the reviewer does not use an Android phone. When one can replace any home screen launcher with Launcher Pro and ADW launcher, there is no reason not to take the 30 seconds to install them if you do not like Ninjablur or Touchwiz. In fact, reviewers should always mention that one of the great advantages to Android is the fact that it's interface is so customizeable. You can even use the Sweeter Home app to create your own interface or download another user's interface.** The bottom line is that reviewers should never lower a revue score because they do not like the custom pre-installed interface.

**Here are some pictures of the one I made (I use launcher pro now). Start from the bottom picture for the interface and each picture above is what the phone looks like when the buttons on the bottom or the clock are pushed. Pushing the clock shows the 5 day weather widget (not pictured).

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The Android Advantage

So you may be asking yourself, is this blog written by some iPhone fanboy who only wants to criticize Android? Well, of course not, but I do want to write down my thoughts on how to make Android better. I think the iPhone is a very nice mix of elegant hardware and software, but here is my list of Android Advantages over the iPhone.

1. 1.5ghz dual core CPUs coming soon.
2. GPUs with three times the power.
3. Free wireless tethering with root--usb tethering without.
4. Flash video.
5. Ability to use any size font in browser. The iPhone will only fit to page on double tap.
6. Kinetic browser scrolling. The iPhone scrolls one screen at a time.
7. Swype keyboard. The easiest one handed typing method in portrait mode. Even faster than two handed in portrait.
8. Customizable home screens.
9. Widgets
10. Free turn by turn GPS
11. Automatic google apps integration.
12. Tabbed browsing with Dolphin and xScope browsers.
13. Desktop direct dial shortcuts.
14. Built in voice dictation, voice app control.
15. Super AMOLED screens.
16. 4" and larger screens
17. Removable batteries to easily double or triple battery life.
18. Removable SD cards for unlimited storage.
19. Open marketplace.
20. Side loading apps and additional marketplaces.

Android Forums User Additions
21. No licensing fee for Developers (added by Necosino)
22. Open advertising network, not limited to JUST apple advertisers. (added by Necosino)
23. Adobe Air. (viva.fidel)
24. Live wallpapers.(viva.fidel)
25. Custom and highly modified ROMs.(viva.fidel)
26. Real multitasking & intelligent handling of background memory process to save ram.(viva.fidel)
27. Companies are required to release the source code of their Android OS build. (Vmanisme)
28. You aren't forced to use the default 'core function apps'. (mickeymop)
29. You can install apps in the background. (Holden Caufield)
30. More free apps in market than apple's app store. (Holden Caufield)

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Android Tablets: Resolution Fragmentation--Why I am scared.

A slew of new Android tablets are comming out this fall and winter. What scares me the most is the resolution choices of manufactuers which will lead to app developers having to write their apps for several resolutions. I have never bought the fragmentation argument for Android phones as almost all new phones use 848x 480--a very good (if not ideal) resolution. Android app developers are not going to want to create separate versions for 10 different android resolutions. The Galaxy Tab is going to be 1024 x 600, for example.

Here are my thoughts on tablet resolution:

  • 848 x 480 in both 7" and 10" models. This is a huge mistake. The Droid X and HTC Evo are already pushing the acceptable limits for this resolution.

  • 960 x 540 This is the let's copy apple resolution and it makes no sense. Existing 848 x 480 apps will not look good at this resolution and it is still too small. The iPad at 1024 x 768 looks a bit pixelated.

My suggestions:

1696 x 960:

  • Android tablets need to have a standard resolution to avoid fragmentation. This should be double the lines of 848 x 480 (1696 x 960) so that apps can scale easily. Or how about having four android phone apps open at once on the same screen!

1280 x 720

  • Use the industry standard for HD--720p. This wont be great for scaling Android phone apps, but it will be great for watching HD television and movies.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

4G: The Future or a Waste of Money?

4G is "the next big thing," but with carriers moving to download caps, does it really affect any of us? Sure web pages might load a little faster, but are we really going to use it to stream video or download a rental from Blockbuster if we have a 2GB download cap. Worst of all, we will be charged more for it and possibly be required to have it on each carriers best Phones such as the Sprint HTC EVO.

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