Phoenix Android Meetup

phxmeetup.jpeg

In coordination with the Phoenix Google Developer Group, we have started a local Android Meetup. The intention of our meetings is to get local developers together to hack, and talk about our favorite green robot, and mobile development.

It is completely informal, and people of all abilities are welcome to attend.

We had a terrific turnout at the first one, and expect this will grow into a great community event.

Event Details:

Date & Time:  4th Wed of every month (starts around 6:30p)

Location: CoHoots Coworking

RSVP and More Details: http://www.meetup.com/PHX-Android/

 

Android NULL Pointers (why can't people on StackOverflow read a StackTrace)

95% of the Android questions on StackOverflow can be solved by:

1.  running Logcat (adb logcat)
2.  Looking for NullPointerException (which points to the line in your code with issue).

It is amazing to me how many people actually put their logcat output into the question, when the NullPointer is so obvious.  It seems so basic to me.

Manually updating Nexus One (for multitouch update)

As an early adopter, I find it hard to wait for Google to pick me, to push out the Over the Air (OTA) update for the Nexus One.   I found a quick and easy way to update the phone, with some super simple steps.  I found these directions at http://mobile-news.tungtram.com/2010/02/why-wait-for-nexus-one-android-ota.html , and I think he originally found them at: Android Forums. I previously used a similair procedure to update my G1, with minimal risk, and success.

I have used these steps, and verified they work.

The process is quick an easy, just follow the directions.

  1. Grab the update from Google: here.
  2. Move the zip file to your sd card, and rename it: update.zip
  3. Boot your device (holding down the trackball and power button at the same time)
  4. Go to bootloader > recovery
  5. When you see the image of the droid with triangle, press the power button and volume up
  6. Select: Apply sdcard:update.zip
  7. Wowza, your phone should be updating
  8. Select Reboot
  9. Wait patiently, and you will be rewarded with multi-touch goodness (and hopefully a better 3G radio).

If something goes wrong, simply restart the phone (the normal way - don't do any of the special key presses) to restart your phone without the update.

Of course, if you are worried about this sort of thing, just wait for the OTA update to be pushed to you, which is less risky.

Essential (or just plain cool) Android Applications

Do you want more cool app recommendations?  Download my App, and get them delivered daily:

http://mswolfson.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/droid-of-the-day-available-now-in-android-market/

My list of indispensable apps:

I don’t remember all of the cool Android apps I have downloaded, but here is a rundown of the ones I find most useful. I intend to keep this post updated when I find cool new apps. If you know of an Android app, that is really cool, or that you can't live without, please list it in the comments!

Linda – file manager Google Voice (but only if you have a GV account – which I have invites) – look online for what this does, it basically allows you to control all your communication (works on Verizon too!);  Now allows you to use GV for all your voicemails - so you get transcription, and visual voice mail - this is a must have, even if you don't use a GV number. ACast – podcast aggregator (I am sticking with this over Google Listen, as it is more straightforward, and finds updated feeds quicker) SavvyShoppper - comparison shop products by bar code MissedCall – changes LED based on type of notification (SMS, VoiceMail); fully configurable (this doesn't work on my Nexus One - I miss it) Barcode Scanner – read all sorts of different barcodes (including 2D) MyTracks – good for running or hiking; keeps track of distance traveled, speed, elevation gain etc; good for keeping track of workouts (From Google) Scoreboard – for sports fans, gives you notifications of sports scores (From Google - doesn't reliably give my updates on my N1 unfortunately) USA Today – news Facebook – they have an official app Twidroid – my favorite Twitter App (but I don’t use Twitter that much, so I may not be the person to endorse this).  People like Seesmic too. Shazam – identify any song by “listening” to it; tells you song information Pandora – internet radio Layar – augmented reality puts information on top of the map (or streetview) with tons of different information; This is just the beginning of this sort of app, this sort of functionality will be huge in the future Locale - change phone settings based on location; kind of buggy but when it works, it is great.  When going to download this to my N1, they are now charging for this - $9.99, this is too expensive, as this app doesn't work reliably.  I am willing to put up with bugginess on a cheap app, but not if I am paying for it. 3Banana – list manager (integrated with website to keep lists on phone and web) TuneWiki - alternative Media player, with the coolest feature that is downloads lyrics, and displays them in sync with the music;  Also will link out to music video of songs if it knows of them - Ad Supported. Dolphin Browser - alternative browser with some cool features.  I like the way it handles tabs, and it uses some great getures, to allow easier navigation.  Also includes multi-touch, for all phones, which is pretty cool.

Some apps I am playing with, but can't endorse yet:

Pro Paint Camera - replacement for stock camera, with enhanced functionality (photo effects, advanced white balance, etc) http://www.popcrowd.com

Geogad Tours - audio and video clips that create tours of specific locations. Web site: http://www.geogad.com Download link: http://market.android.com/search?q=pname:com.geogad

ShapeWriter - different on-screen keyboard that allows you to link words by holding down on keyboard to make work (with predictive text correction). http://www.shapewriter.com

Swype - another alternative keyboard.  Didn't work great on my N1, kept giving me screen resolution errors.  But I liked the idea, thought it worked pretty well.  Here is a link to a site with a link to a beta copy of it.  Not sure if it will always be available.  http://www.androidcentral.com/download-beta-version-swype-android

First Impressions of Samsung Moment (Android Phone)

I attended CTIA last week, and was at the Sprint event, where they announced their first Android phone.  It is made by Samsung, and will be called the "Moment".  I was very impressed with my initial impressions of it. At the event, they were not allowing people to handle the phone, and hired pretty women to demo the phones.  The women clearly didn't know anything about the phones, but were accommodating to the attendees, and would press any buttons, and show us whatever we wanted.  I apologize for the poor quality of the images, I took them with my G1, which has less than stellar photo performance.

Samsung Moment at CTIA

The form factor of this phone is the classic slider design.  I found it well executed.  The phone was large enough to be useful, but still thin enough to easily fit in a pocket.  There were also some nice chrome accents on the phone, for a little bling.

I made sure to test the keyboard, as this is super important to me.  I did some typing on it (again, while the pretty girl made sure she kept an iron grip on the device), and found the keyboard great.  The keys were spaced well, and had good response.  An interesting feature that the Moment had, was haptic feedback when keys were pressed (ie. the phone vibrated slightly when keys were activated).  While I personally would probably turn this off, this is an innovation.

Another interesting feature of the Moment, is that it is the first Android phone to use a different a chip than the Qualcomm MSM7201A.  Samsung is using their own ARM11 chipset clocked at 800 MHz.  I would expect this will result in improved performance.

The phone does have an AMOLED screen, but quite frankly, it didn't look any better to me than the screen on my G1 (maybe the lighting in the hall was bad or something).

Samsung and Sprint are releasing the phone without any custom skinning, or other significant features on top of Android.  I asked the girl to navigate to the about screen, and noticed that the demo phone was running the 1.5 release of the OS (even though Eclair - ie. 1.6, had dropped already).   Following up on this on the intrawebs, it does sound like they will be updating this before they officially release the phone.

The last compelling feature of this phone worth mentioning, is that the camera has a flash (which you may be able to see in my blurry picture).  This is a great inclusion, and not something I have seen on any of the other currently released Android phones (but a feature I think should be on all phones).

Samsung Moment Flash

Overall, on first impression, I really liked this phone.  The form factor and keyboard were great.  Samsung has included some advanced features (AMOLED screen, faster processor, camera flash, haptic feedback)  that should make this phone standout from the other Android phones.  It is a compelling device, and a great first Android phone for both Samsung and Sprint.

G1 likes & dislikes

Feb 8, 2009

Likes: -Openness of platform (especially that I can easily install my own applications - not only from 1 heavily monitored store) -Variety of applications available for the phone (there are some real innovative ideas emerging) -Extra Camera functionality (especially the barcode reading functionality). -Size, and form factor.  I love the keyboard, big screen, and think the phone is small enough to fit in my pocket comfortably. -Durable screen -Internet integration (including  GMail and GCalendar);  This is the first phone I have ever had that sync's well with the world.

Dislikes -Becomes sluggish at times, requiring frequent reboots. -GPS reliability (my phone is very unreliable when it comes to location-based services). -Camera isn't very good (doesn't take great pictures even in good light, with a perfectly still hand) -Integration with non-Gmail email providers (the email app is awful when trying to use other services - YMail, etc)

Things I want -A2DP -sudo (or some kind of extra access so I can kill rogue applications, or look a little deeper into the system - especially the data folder). -G2, or G3, or G4 (next android phones which will be faster and more polished and even better) -Peace in the Middle East