Building a Better Android [Opinion]

Twitter on Android

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.

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Hate to Admit This, But I’m a Fan of Lock Screen Widgets in Android 4.2 [Opinion]

lockscreen widgets1

It took me a while to come around to the idea, but I’m ready to admit that I’m a fan of lock screen widgets in Android 4.2. Introduced back in October, I originally thought, “What’s the point? Can’t you just unlock your device and then get to home screen widgets? This seems redundant.” And now, I’m utilizing at least five of them, some of which I use regularly. I’m also using more widgets on lock screens than I am on home screens. Weird, right? Let’s talk about why.  (more…)

The Hell With Nexus Phones on Carriers, It’s Time to Leave Subsidies and Contracts Behind [Opinion]

galaxy nexus lte gsm

If you asked me back in late 2011, how I felt about a Nexus coming to Verizon, I’d probably have thrown out phrases like “greatest day in smartphone history” or “Verizon finally woke up!” Boy, how things have changed in just over a year. After over a month of delays before the launch of that phone, a lack of support on a software front from the get-go, and what seems to be a constant neglect of what one would assume to be one of the easiest phones on the planet to update, I no longer feel the same way. It’s been a painful ride since, one that has led me into hoping that Verizon never sees another one. Actually, I could probably take that a step further and say definitively that Nexus phones should no longer be tied to any carrier and that you should all think about your future beyond subsidies and 2-year contracts.  (more…)

Improving Google Now [Opinion]

Google Now

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…)

An Open Letter to Google: It’s Time to Take Gaming Seriously [Opinion]

google gaming android

This is a guest post written by DL reader Karl Ludwinski, a gaming enthusiast that wants to see Google and Android fully invest in the gaming movement, something they have so far, barely attempted to do.

First, let me say that I am not a developer or programmer of any kind, nor am I a writer. I am merely a tech and gaming enthusiast and a big fan of Android. I believe that by embracing gaming in a few key ways, both the Android platform and gaming as a whole can go further than they ever could by themselves.

To be clear, I’m not looking for any kind of credit for any of this. Most of these ideas (possibly all) have been discussed before in one way or another. I merely want to consolidate them into one list and increase awareness. I’d also love to hear other ideas that people have, any thoughts about these ideas I list, and any explanations of why they would not work as I have explained them or ways to improve them.  (more…)

Google Apps on iOS and Android [Opinion]

Google Apps on iOS

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.

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Instagram is Not at War with Twitter [Opinion]

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.

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Likes, Retweets, Double Taps and Smiley Faces: The Economy of Social Networks [Off Topic]

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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.

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