Galaxy Nexus & Android 4.0

Google Android 4.0 LogoI watched the live Google/Samsung announcement of the Galaxy Nexus yesterday. The event was held in Hong Kong, and streamed live to the Android Developers YouTube channel. I wasn’t completely blown away by the hardware – seems pretty run-of-the-mill after being spoiled with the Galaxy S II. But I was impressed to see how much thought Google has put into the user experience for Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”).

I get the impression that this time, Google’s focused on the little things. Like zero shutter lag for the camera, rather than the megapixel count. Or streamlining the voice-to-text capabilities, as well as copy & paste. These “little things” are really the things that matter for consumers. Apple’s known this for a long time, and one of the selling points for Apple’s phones is the great user experience (even if the flexibility isn’t there). I think Google’s trying to take a leaf from Apple’s book here, and start building an engaging, “love-able” (their words, not mine!) user interface. An admirable goal, and from what I’ve seen, they have taken big steps in this direction with the latest version of Android.

But that’s the consumer side of things. For developers, Android 4.0 introduces a number of new concepts, including:

  • Unified UI toolkit – “A single set of UI components, styles, and capabilities for phones, tablets, and other devices”. So Android 4.0 has finally pulled together the Gingerbread & Honeycomb releases.
  • Rich communication and sharing – A bunch of new APIs, most significantly Android Beam, which enables NFC-based instant sharing between smartphones.
  • New lock screen – Not sure how much opportunity there is for developers to plug in here, but Google has introduced a new set of instant actions which can be accessed directly from the lock screen (camera & music controls).

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Tap That! Number v4.0

I’ve just released a new version of Tap That! Number for Android – version 4.0. It’s a major revamp, as I’ve completely re-written the high scores component. Instead of using ScoreNinja (a lightweight high scores library), I’ve opted for Scoreloop, one of the big social gaming platforms. This basically means the whole interface looks a lot … Read more…

Should I Write Sponsored Posts?

I’ve had quite a few offers lately from people who would like to sponsor articles on this blog. The basic understanding being, they pay me to write about a particular topic, or include a link to their product. It’s not an unusual situation in web publishing, but I know a lot of people have strong opinions on the ethics of this practice.

I’m not a big fan of blogs that post a “Message from our Sponsor” every week, with a blatantly promotional article full of links back to the sponsor’s website. I see this as a kind of intrusive advertising, that only takes readers’ time and offers nothing in return.

However, I do see benefits in writing a sponsored post which is of genuine interest to the blog’s target audience – in this case, Android developers. For example, say a mobile advertising company such as AdMob were to contact me, and offer to pay me in exchange for writing an article about their company. Obviously the company itself is of interest to this blog’s readers. In this situation, I think it would be appropriate to write the article, and accept payment for the time I spent researching and writing the post.

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Steve Jobs is Dead

Wow. Today the technology industry farewells one of the greatest visionaries we’ve ever seen. Apple has confirmed that Steve Jobs, ex-CEO of Apple, passed away today: We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today. Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of … Read more…

Apple iPhone 4S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II

iPhone vs AndroidOk, so maybe the title’s just a little bit of a linkbait. 😉 But I got a very strong sense of déjà vu when I woke up this morning and first read the specs for the new iPhone 4S. Dual-core processor, 8MP camera, world phone…. hang on a sec, that’s describing my phone! My Samsung Galaxy S II that is. The one I’ve had in my pocket for months already.

This feeling of “been there, done that” only increased when I read on further to the details of iOS 5 (A̶n̶d̶r̶o̶i̶d̶ ̶s̶t̶y̶l̶e̶ improved notifications, anyone?) When the iPhone 4 was announced, it seemed to blow away all the competition. It was simply better than anything else out there. But I can hardly say the same about yesterday’s announcement. In my opinion, it was the most unimpressive iPhone release yet. Sure, the iPhone 4S is obviously an incremental upgrade to the iPhone 4. And many of the improvements are welcome. But they’re also long overdue – and suspiciously familiar to long-time Android users.

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