Designing Android apps can be a monstrous challenge. Between multiple screen sizes, resolutions, Android versions, and manufacturer skins, developers have enough variables to make it nearly impossible to make an app that both looks like it fits the design language of your phone and is enjoyable to use on the devices you own. While Google has taken steps to try and guide developers in the right direction to solve these problems, many Android apps still are not optimized for modern devices, especially tablets. Worse still, Android apps have historically been static and boring. Many Android apps still have the old Android 2.x or below design, which forces users to peck around the app to access content.
Twitter apps have been especially representative of the need to have adaptable, scalable, and natural design. In particular, the official Twitter app for Android has been derided by users, journalists, and Apple executives as an example of an app that does not scale up to higher resolutions and larger screen sizes. Through the lens of Twitter apps for Android one can see how Android app design has had to evolve since 2008, pushing Android to become a more fluid, scalable, and fun to use platform.
Google Now is great at putting certain pieces of information in front of you before you realize you need it. A traffic report for your drive home is there just before you leave work. You’re notified about a package’s location after you’re emailed about it. Recent searches appear to remind you about your bad decision to try and understand what happened in the Clone Saga.
Google wants to continue to empower our cell phones and turn them into truly useful person assistants. I believe Google Now is the best way to do that, but I also believe Google Now needs to get a lot better. In particular, Now needs improve its use of contextual information, have more of a personality, and display information better. (more…)
In the past few months it has become abundantly clear that Google intends to support three platforms: the web, Android, and iOS. Google’s support for the web and Android should not come as a surprise; Google has always been a web company and Google bought Android to fight Microsoft in the mobile space. Even Google’s support of iOS is not all that surprising since the iPhone was essentially the Google phone before the G1. What is surprising, however, is that Google isn’t just making apps for iOS; they’re making really good apps for iOS.
For the past week I’ve been spending a lot of time with the HTC 8X on Verizon. The 8X is considered a signature Windows Phone, sporting a 4.3″ 720×1280 display, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, NFC, dual band WiFi, LTE, Beats Audio, and an 8 MP 1080p shooter in back with a wide-angle 2.1 MP front camera. In short, Windows Phone has reached parity with Android and iOS in terms of specs.
When I last looked at Windows Phone I argued that while the operating system looks good and is certainly an improvement over Windows Mobile, the lack of apps, disappointing multi-tasking, and poor notification system kept Windows Phone from reaching feature parity with iOS and Android. Since then Android and iOS have propelled smartphone ownership to unprecedented levels while Windows Phone has remained a niche product in terms of market share. Read on to find out how Microsoft has changed Windows Phone for the better, what has stayed the same, and what Microsoft still needs to do to make Windows Phone succeed. (more…)
Instagram’s move to no longer support Twitter cards was not an act of war. More importantly, according to Instagram’s CEO, it was not a move influenced by Instagram’s new owner, Facebook. You can choose to buy into the hype that Instagram is fighting against Twitter so that Facebook will win a numbers war it has already won, or you can consider what Instagram is accomplishing by doing this.
Last night on the DL Show I mentioned a weather app called Eye in Sky Weather. Read on to see what makes this app good enough to be on two of my home screens.
Lately I have been trying to be more conscious of the reasons behind why I post something on a social network. As I near 19,000 tweets I am keenly aware that I share my thoughts more than most people. I am certainly not anywhere near having the most tweets, but as I have participated in social networks like MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Path, Instagram, and others over the past few years I have adjusted how much I share and how I share it.
Like many in my generation, I started listening to music on CDs. I used to sit in a rocking chair with my “skip free” portable CD player (I can’t remember if it was a Walkman or not) listening to Now 4 or No Doubt. Around the age of 16 or 17 I was given my first iPod: a 30 GB 5th generation iPod Classic (although at that point it wasn’t called “Classic”). I can vividly remember sitting down at my computer and slowly importing dozens of CDs into iTunes and syncing my iPod. I remember when Tri-tone meant that my CD had been imported, not that I had a new message. I began buying music straight from iTunes instead of visiting the then large, now non-existent CD section at my local Best Buy.