Monday, September 21, 2009

Running rings around donut Part 2 - What does the end user get?

I've been running Android 1.6 (donut) on my handset for a week now, so here is a quick guide of what to expect, tied to a little expectation management.

Android Market Updates
The most obvious update is the much needed revamp of the Android Market. The new UI provides a far more compelling end user experience, now including application screenshots.

Good job, well done. Although I'd still love to see a recommendation engine included so you get a 'you may like' section. It is still quite easy to miss decent apps/games in the 'Just In' section and the Featured apps list is quite limited.

Quick Search Widget:
A great little addition to the default Android widgets. This little puppy lets you search contacts, applications, bookmarks and web information without actually launching the browser. It is location sensitive and I've used it a lot, +1 for productivity.

Battery Monitor:
So the bad news is that my battery life isn't any better, but on the plus side I can now tell where it is all going. The handy Battery Monitor is very quick to point out the Wireless LAN is a great big battery hog.

VPN Connectivity:
If your home or office has a VPN then this will be a very pleasant little suprise, built in VPN connectivity.

Toggle Switches Widget:
Another nice little add-on, makes simple tasks that little bit easier by giving you instant access to Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, Sync and Brightness settings. Does a good job of making a lot of Market apps completely redundant.

Speech Synthesis:
So far only slightly interesting as all it can do is say its test phrase in multiple languages. Hopefully we'll see some apps using this soon.

General System Performance:
Always slightly subjective as every single machine on this rock we call Earth is faster after a wipe and clean operating system install. However I'd claim that it is still absolutely flying after a week of installing 50+ apps and using it more than a tortoise uses its shell.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Running rings around donut - Android 1.6 SDK Screen Sizes

Over the past couple of weeks Motorola, SonyEricsson, INQ, LG, GeekPhone ONE, Samsung, Archos and HTC have all make Android related announcements. For an Android fan like myself that is big. Now to top it all off the announcement of the Android 1.6 SDK makes it a pretty good week.

After a few hours hands on, here is what it means to us.

There are new screen sizes supported. In addtion to the regular 320x480px HVGA screen resolution there are now QVGA (240x320), WVGA800 (800x480) and WVGA854 (854x480). But what does that mean for applications? will developers have to update their apps to support the new sizes? Well I've tested all of our Android applications out and the news is good, here are the results:

News Buzz Widget Home Screen WVGA 480x856px:

News Buzz Widget Home Screen QVGA 240x320:

News Buzz Widget WVGA 480x856px:

News Buzz Widget QVGA 240x320px

Somehow Google/Android have managed to get the scaling algorithms to work like magic, they maintain aspect ratios where necessary and scale to fill as much of the screen as they can whenever possible. This knocks a big worry on the head for me, I was concerned about the fragmentation problems of different screen sizes. Of course there are still issues, but they are minimal and most importantly the apps are still perfectly useable and 100% functional.

Good job, well done.