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Android | Android and Burning Wheel thoughts


Jul 272011

Slightly long story here, please feel free to ignore – the important bit is that you can get a G+ invite if you download the Google Plus Inviter app.

The longer story:
I was lucky enough to snag a G+ invite from a good friend a couple of weeks ago. I joined, had a little look around and that was that. I never use facebook, never used myspace, rarely use twitter and don’t generally have a lot of time for that kind of thing.

G+ is a little different though. Firstly, it integrates into gmail rather well. I get notifications when I’m on gmail of important things happening on G+, which makes it so much easier to use. I don’t have to log into G+ just for the sake of logging into G+, but can get on with my life and get told when something has happened that I might be interested in, which is nice.

So I figured, why not share the love? I put together a really simple app in App Inventor (which does unfortunately make it rather large for what it does, but I’m still working on figuring out Java and all that) that just asks for an email address, then emails that address to me so that I can send an invite when I get time. I stuck a simple logo on it and put it in the market.

8 hours later, I had something like 400 requests for invites. There’s no way I could keep up with that, so I figured a good way to limit it would be to add a price. I took down the free app and replaced it with a £1 one, and labelled it clearly as a temporary measure while I dealt with the backlog. I also figured it might be nice to have some sort of payment for spending hours sending invites.

Over the next 3 days I dealt with the backlog. In all that time, a grand total of 17 people decided the app was worth paying for, and of those 6 promptly returned it for a refund. I made a little under £8, which works out to about half an hour’s work at my current rate. At about this time, Google suspended the app, claiming that it broke their rules. I emailed them requesting clarification of how it broke the rules – was it because people had to pay, or because it was sending invites? Neither of which were against the rules as far as I can see, but I figured it had to be one of them, as there was nothing else that it did. Google replied with a canned response that didn’t actually answer my email, instead saying “We appreciate the opportunity to review your appeal regarding the suspension of “Google Plus Invite (urgent)” from Android Market. After an
investigation, we affirm our initial decision and will not be reinstating your application at this time.”

Never mind. Deciding that it was safest to not antagonise them, I didn’t put the free version of the app back up right away, but have decided to do so now. I put it back on the market last night, and have sent nearly 150 invites this morning.

So anyone wanting an invite, go download it!

Apr 052011

Currently, according to the Google Developer Console, there are 101 people with the Android Offers (UK) app installed on their phone. In this post I’ll take a look at who exactly has it installed, based on what Google tell me:

The first thing they give me is a little chart saying how many installs I had on each day. There seem to have been a couple of periods of rapid uptake, as we went from 10 on the 17th of March to 32 on the 19th, then increased slower to 47th on the 31st, then we’ve increased all of a sudden to 69 on the 1st of April, 80 on the 2nd and 92 on the 3rd (with 101 on the 4th).

54% of people using the app have android 2.2. 33% have android 2.1, 5.4% each have android 1.5 and 1.6 and the remaining 2% or so is split between 2.3 and 2.3.3 (which I’d not heard of, but assume is some variant of 2.3).

The device type seems fairly well spread out. The top 2 devices are the Samsung Galaxy S and the HTC Desire HD, with about 15% each. The HTC Desire is next at 14%, then the Xperia X10 (X10i) with 11% followed by the Samsung Galaxy tab with 9%. Below that are the Samsung Galaxy 3 (4%), SEMC Xperia X10 (SonyEricssonX10i) (3%), SEMC Xperia X8 (3%), HTC Hero (3%), LG Optimus One (2%) with “others” having a healthy 20%.

Installations by country are interesting. As the app only shows offers for UK based retailers (or the UK arms of international retailers) we’d hope to see most of them in the UK. The Developer Console reports that 77% of people with the app installed are in the UK. That’s probably a little below what I’d expect, but seems reasonable. 6.5% are in the US, 3% in Germany, 2% in Saudi Arabia, then 1% each in a whole bunch of other places, including France, Morocco, Bahrain, Russia, Greece and Argentina.

The last piece of data that we have is language. As we’d expect, they largely tally up with the countries, with 77% being English (UK), 5% English (US), 4% German, 2% Arabic, 2% French, 2% Spanish (United States), then the rest at 1% including Greek, Russian, Spanish (Spain), Swedish.

I’ll probably look at the stats in another month or so and see what’s changed 🙂

Mar 212011

So, work and life have been fairly hectic recently and I’ve not had much of a chance to work on Java programming, but I have had a bit of time to mess around with app inventor. It’s really coming along in leaps and bounds, there’s so much you can do with it.

In the interests of laziness, I figured I’d try to make an app that I could update much easier than by constantly releasing new version. I wanted to be able to put the data on the web somewhere and have the app pick it up. Initially I wasn’t sure that this could be done, but a little playing around with the TinyWebDB component and a lot of tinkering with JSON and a PHP scraper and I have now created an app that can pick up the data on a twitter feed.

The App can be found at The Android Market and the twitter feed is at twitter.com/androidoffers (also displayed in the sidebar). I get sent so many offers in my email, I’ll pop the best ones up on there and see if they’re any use to anyone. They use a php redirect through my website so I get commission if anyone spends any money, and as a result I can offer the app for free and hope that it has some takeup. I put it out there on Friday and there were 32 installs over the weekend, only one of which was me 🙂

The app does contain a link to the twitter feed, so it’s likely that people who use twitter will just follow the feed, and then get rid of the app, so if there’s a lot of uninstalls, I’m going to try and take it philosophically… If anyone can think of a way to add value to the app to get people to keep it, let me know…

I’m really liking the synergy between TinyWebDB and PHP – it was a pain to get working in the first place, but it’s really neat to use once it’s up and running, and you can do so many things.

Anyway, if you’re interested, download it and let me know how I can improve it 🙂

Nov 182010

I’ve updated the roadmap – thought of another couple of things I wanted to add, so I’ve shoehorned them in. One of them is down as point 0.2 now, (“0.2 – Add edit note and add note to long press menu”). This I did last weekend, and uploaded the result to the android marketplace. The add note function was easy, as I could just copy the command from the menu item, but the edit note option took a little more thinking. Managed to get it in though, and updated to the market.

The next item on the list is a little more tricky (“0.3 – preserve notes after switch off, tickbox next to notes”). The notes are already preserved after switch off, it seems (I’m guessing that the database that the app creates is preserved somewhere on the SD card automatically – which is interesting as I don’t have permissions to write data).

On my current build at home, I’ve added the tickbox, but I want to get it to the right of the screen, rather than just after the text. Adding the tickbox seems to have broken the functionality of clicking or long clicking on the list items (possibly because rather than just a list item, there’s now a linear layout containing the list item and the tickbox), and if I want the tickbox to take on a value stored in the DB, I’m not too sure how to do it. I can get multiple values and use them to populate the list, but I think they need to be of the same type. The title is a string, and I don’t know if I can put a string and a boolean in an array together. I may need to store the current state of the tickbox as a string, and interpret when we come to display the list.

Planning on doing some more work on it on Sunday – with any luck, 0.3 will be released on time 🙂

Nov 102010

0.1 – take notes, delete notes
0.2 – Add edit note and add note to long press menu (14/11/10)
0.3 – preserve notes after switch off, tickbox next to notes (21/11/10)
0.4 – only show uncompleted notes (although leave a note showing if ticked this session) (05/12/10)
0.5 – add time function for reminder (19/12/10)
0.6 – send reminder to notification bar (02/01/11
0.7 – notification bar enhancements, item can be ticked or “snoozed” from notification bar (16/01/11)
0.8 – add widget to let you add notes from homescreen (23/01/11)
1.0 – UI upgrades? release (30/01/11)

Nov 102010


This is a new blog, it exists solely to document my process in learning to create apps for Android.

I’m completely new to Java, so this is all a little complicated for me right now. I have got some experience with languages like PHP, but Java is a very different kettle of fish.

I’m also enrolled in the App Inventor Beta. It’s a great tool, easy to use, but has some rather strict limitations, and the apks that it produces are rather large at present. As such, I think I’ll mostly be using Java.

So far I’ve done some of the Android tutorials, and have built a primitive notepad app. I want to develop it to the point that it functions more as a to-do list than a notepad. My roadmap is in the next post. You can find the app so far in the Android Marketplace as ZNotes. I’ve put a price of £1 on it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’ve seen a lot of comment-spam on some of the more popular apps out there from websites that claim to have all paid apps on the Marketplace – I thought I’d see if they just download everything. If they do, they might just copy it and then return within a day – but even so, that would be interesting to know. Secondly, to discourage people from buying it until it’s nearer ready.

I will put a free download up on this site for people to use for as long as I’m developing the app, any feedback would be gratefully received.

For those interested, I’m programming using Eclipse, and find a lot of it’s auto-complete functions very useful – but it can get dangerous if you rely on it too much. The initial version of the app caused a crash to desktop as soon as you tried to add a note, simply because one of the activities was not declared in the manifest. That may seem like an obvious mistake to some, but it took me a couple of days to figure it out…

Anyhow, I’ll put the free download up tonight, let me know what you think 🙂