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I/O 2014 app source code shows developers how it’s done

Posted by wicked July - 31 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Last month, Google released its fancy new I/O 2014 app in preparation for its annual conference. Now it’s announcing that the source code for the app is now available from Google‘s GitHub repository. While end-users might have no use for this, unless they happen to be knowledgeable about and/or like reading Java code, Google is inviting developers to take a look inside and learn about current best practices of creating an Android app and using Google’s API.

Aside from giving users a window into the world of Google I/O, the I/O 2014 app also showcases many of the staples of Android app development, whether it be components and featuers like Fragments, receivers, and notifications or design considerations like toolbars and themes. It also shows newer and better ways to use Google’s own services, like using Google Cloud Messaging (GSM) to keep devices up to date with the latest content and using Google Drive API to store users’ preferences and sync it with all connected devices. It even shows how to make an Android Wear companion app.

But aside from just hard, cold code, the app also gives developers a preview into Material Design. The app uses the design principles of tactile surfaces, animated feedback, colors, imagery, and the metaphor of paper, to give developers an idea how to theme their apps in preparation for Android L. The app also uses API found in the Android L Preview and has a separate APK for those already running it on their Nexus 5 or 7, or on the Android emulator. The video below, summarizes some of those key design points.

The source code for the I/O 2014 app is being released under an open source license. This means that more than just a reference, developers will be able to use code snippets to kickstart their own apps. Those interested in learning more about the different API and features in this app should keep tabs on the Android Developers Blog, source link below, as Google will be sharing more details about the app in the coming weeks.

SOURCE: Google (1), (2)

Google offers I/O 2014 app source code as Material Design sample code

Posted by wicked July - 31 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Google I/O 2014 app

The Google I/O 2014 app has successfully lived up to its initial purpose of providing scheduling for Google I/O attendees and allowing us at home to check in and watch the keynote presentation, as well as other live-streamed sessions. But what happens to the app now?

Instead of leaving the app to be forgotten in the Google Play Store, Google has decided to use the app as a shining light for developers. Google updated the I/O 2014 app with Material Design and the Android L developer preview before making the full source code free and available for developers to download and utilize as a template for their own apps.

Although the majority of actual benefits of the Google I/O 2014 app were only good during the two days of conference back in June, the app now offers developers examples of a number of features and techniques. Developers can look forward to sample code for:

  • Google Drive API
  • Google Cloud Messaging
  • Android L developer preview
  • Android Wear
  • Video streaming
  • Reminders and alarms
  • NFC scanning and beaming
  • Feedback mechanisms

In addition to simply just dropping the code on developers, there is also some reference material available on the project git page, expect also to see video tutorials coming soon through the developer channel.

Once you’ve got your Android L device or emulator up and rolling, grab the source code for the Google I/O 2014 app from the GitHub page and get on building your own Material Design apps.

What is the best Material Design app you’ve seen so far?


Via: Google;
Source: GitHub;

Google Play Developer Publishing API now open to all developers

Posted by wicked July - 29 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Google_Play_Logo_2855

Google has opened up their Google Play Developer Publishing API to all developers on the Play Store, which is great news for anyone looking to add some extra functionality to managing their apps. The new API makes it easier to manage in-app purchases and subscriptions, upload new APKs for beta testing or staged rollouts, and create and modify Play Store listings.

Overall, this Publishing API will make it significantly easier for developers to handle the management of their apps and listing, which should, in turn, create a better end user experience. If you’re interested, you can check out the full details of what the new API can do below.

source: Google Play Developers

Come comment on this article: Google Play Developer Publishing API now open to all developers

Android TV ADT-1 dev kits start shipping to developers

Posted by wicked July - 29 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

To prepare the new Android sub-platform for its first actual launch later this year, Google has started sending the ADT-1 Android TV preview kit to would-be app developers. This will hopefully ensure that by the time Android finally makes its way to the living room, there won’t be a dearth of apps, games and content that could steal the thunder from this new device category.

When Google announced Android’s new thrusts at Google I/O last month, it didn’t unveil actual finished products, except for Android Wear and smartwatches, of course. Both Android TV and Android Auto didn’t exist in shrink wrapped packages or final 1.0 versions but they came with promises of development tools later on to get things rolling. Development on Android TV might soon be kicking into high gear now that Google is delivering on its promise and is delivering a reference hardware for developers to play with, figuratively and literally.

Android TV is a potentially interesting new venture, because of its broad reach, at least compared to Android Auto, and new interface design challenges. An app designed for what Google terms as a “lean back” interface should not only be readable on a large screen from a distance but also usable without the use of conventional and more precise input methods like a finger, keyboard, or mouse. But as far as input devices go, Android TV won’t be boring either, as the dev kit comes with the wireless gamepad demoed at Google I/O as well. This will give game developers a chance to try out the new game pad standard in Android and adjust their games accordingly.

This batch of ADT-1 dev kits is just the first wave that is going out to developers. Google still has its online registration up so there’s a chance that there will be more coming in the near future. While the form to request a dev kit is open to anyone, it does require the applicant to have at least one app available on Google Play Store, with the implication that said applicant is both interested and capable of developing an app for Android TV.

SOURCE: Android Police

Meet the Devs – Prince Studios

Posted by wicked July - 29 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Developer interviews
Welcome back to our Meet the Devs segment! In this piece we take a little time to get to know the people who really make Android what it is today and that is the app developers. In this week’s developer interview, we are talking to Prince Studios.

Name: Kirk Prince

Developer Name: Prince Studios

Country: South Africa

Website: N/A

Google + Profile/Page: Kirk Prince Google+ page

How many people on your team? 1

developer interview

Apps

Flappy Revival

Tell us about your company

We are a small company at the moment, consisting of just one developer. But hopefully with a little interest we can grow to include more developers and/or graphic designers in order to be a force in the market.

What level of experience do you have with coding and development?

Around about 5 years worth of teaching VB, but as far as app development is concerned, I currently only have one published android app.

What languages do you know? How and where did you learn them?

Delphi, Java, and Visual Basic. Delphi was the first language I learned back at varsity (NMMU, South Africa), with Java to follow a year later at the same institue. VB was self-taught.

What level of experience do you have with design?

Not much at all, did a multimedia course back at varsity, .but other than that basically just playing around photo editing software.

What apps have you made?

Just one so far, called Flappy Revival and no, it’s not just another clone lol. It’s more of a sequel than anything else.

How do you monetize your apps?

Currently the only way I can monetize is by using advertising, as I am not allowed to create a merchant account in South Africa as yet.

Flappy Revival screenshot

Do you consider yourself successful?

In terms of financial success? Probably not yet. Well not even close as yet. But as far as accomplishing the goals I set for myself in the time periods given, to certain extent, yes.

How difficult is it to make money as a developer?

Very difficult at the moment. If you’re just starting out and you don’t have much connections or reputation, it’s very difficult to be noticed. But I’m sure things the better the longer you stick with it (hopefully).

What can Android do to improve?

Well not to sound like a know it all or anything, but perhaps if they could be a little more streamlined and standardized, it could be a little easier to develop on the platform. I know they’ve come leaps and bounds since the days of Froyo and Gingerbread, so I’m sure it will only get better.

Why did you choose Android? Do you develop for other platforms? What are the differences between them?

I chose Android because I started using android not long after the first android phones were released, so it was a natural platform to choose when I started. Hopefully in the future, if my apps/games do well, I’ll start to think about porting them over to iOS and Windows.

What are your thoughts on iOS and Windows 8

Well, just a random Google search would still suggest that iOS developers make a lot more money than Android, even though Android has a lot more users worldwide, so they must be doing something right over there. As for Windows, their still relatively new on the mobile OS market, but things are looking promising for them for the future.

What are your favorite apps?

Apps:

Games

What has been your experience working with Google?

It’s been good. Help is easy to find, and someone always has an answer for most things.

What does the future of development look like?

Well it can only grow to major heights. With new hardware coming along like VR headsets connected to your phones, the development opportunities will be vast. And with new platforms like Ubuntu and Firefox etc coming up there’ll always be something to do somewhere.

What tips do you have for aspiring developers?

Well I don’t know how valuable any of my tips would be since I’m very much a beginner still, but I would say just go for it. You have nothing to lose my time. And at the end of the day, whether you’re successful or not, you’d still have a good character building experience under your belt. Just don’t give up until you’re done with whatever it is you’re doing. If there’s a problem that seems insurmountable, just back going, you WILL find a solution, trust me, I’ve had more than I can count.

Good Luck!! You will need it ;)

developer interview

Say hello to Kirk Prince of Prince Studios!

Anything else you’d like to share?

A programmer’s wife sends him to the grocery store with the instructions, “get a loaf of bread, and if they have eggs, get a dozen.” He comes home with a dozen loaf of bread and tells her, “they had eggs.”

Huehuehuehue

Ok, I’m done.


We want to thank Prince Studios for chatting with us in this week’s developer interviews! If you’re a developer and this looks like something you’d like to do, check out our Meet the Devs form! We look forward to hearing from you.


Source: Flappy Revival (Google Play Store);

5 Things to Love and Hate in the Android L Dev Preview

Posted by wicked July - 28 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

It’s been a little more than a month since Google let the cat out of the bag and gave out the developer preview of Android L for developers to test and curious but daring onlookers to try. While the preview wasn’t made for end users to enjoy, it does bare a few markings of what awaits us in the next Android release. So what have we liked so far and what do we hope Google will get to fix before that expected day?

5 Things We Loved

1. Battery Life. The improvements that Project Volta brought is nothing to belittle. On a dosage of mobile data, browsing, and multimedia, the battery lasted longer than a day on the same amount of use when using KitKat. Crossing our fingers that Google has already been working on even making it better by the time Android L rolls out.

2. Do Not Disturb. A much needed feature that adds a bit of smartness to our notifications, now finally built into Android itself. It’s quite basic but for majority of the cases, basic is more than enough. No more need to be jealous of similar OEM features or custom ROMs.

android-l-10

3. Search in Settings. Yet another OEM idea that has thankfully made its way to the core Android experience. Granted, a vanilla Android on the Nexus doesn’t have much settings to wade through, but it’s still a lifesaver if you don’t know the exact path to a particular seldom tweaked option. The one caveat, it currently doesn’t work well, sometimes not finding settings you already know do exist.

4. Material Design. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but at least in our eyes, Material Design is refreshingly beautiful. As a design language and guiding principle, it seems to be much more consistent and well-thought. The only problem, at least in this developer preview, is that it isn’t yet applied consistently to Android’s core. We expect things to be more seamless later this year.

5. ART. The new Android Runtime. Perhaps it is only subjective, but apps do start faster, run smoother, take up less space. They do install slower though. Most of the promised benefits, and drawbacks of ART. The true litmus test will be when everyone jumps into the pool, whether they like it or not, and there are times when they won’t.

5 Things We Did not Love

1. ART. Yes, ART appears twice. This is more of a growing pains issue and not entirely Google’s fault. App developers will have to work double time to make sure their wares will work once Android L is released, otherwise expect a less than painless transition, with crashes or incompatible apps. Plus the ever looming threat of non-working root apps and methods make us await this new feature with a bit of anxiety.

2. Still no “Clear All” button. It’s 2014 and Google still won’t give us a convenient way to banish all notifications or clear the recent apps list. Perhaps it is a bit more debatable on the Recents view, but in this day and age where users get notifications left and right throughout the day, it boggles the mind why such a feature does not exist by default.

android-l-3

3. Recents redesign. No doubt it is pretty, but is it the most efficient way to present these recent apps? The app thumbnails take up majority of the screen, instead of being herded to one side in a line, but as far as practical information density goes, nothing has changed. You practically really see only three, at most four, of those most current apps, and can only swipe away those. Perhaps a more compressed tickler visualization would be better. But, still, it really looks nice.

android-l-7

4. Still no battery percentage in status bar. Maybe it’s considered a power user feature, but is it really? Considering how small the battery indicator is, it is not so easy to determine from a quick glance really how much battery is left. And since that sometimes crucial information takes a few taps to reach, it is quite strange that it wouldn’t be there to greet you, optionally at least if not by default. Not even in the expanded notification panel.

5. Inconsistent Material Design. Again, growing pains. Or to be exact, half-baked pains. The Android L Preview wasn’t really meant for end users anyway, so it’s not surprising that even core pieces of the Android UI don’t adhere to it yet. It should, however, not be an excuse for app developers not to ensure that their apps will be Materialized when the time comes.

android-l-8-9

Ready to Jump to L?

Nothing in these two lists are set in stone and things are bound to change, hopefully for the better, by the time Android L, whose real name still remains a mystery, gets released later this year. Google is undoubtedly already working on addressing many of these issues, and might finally be giving into some of the most requested features. Unfortunately, neither developers nor adventurous users will be able to taste those changes like this again, as Google might not be releasing an updated preview image anymore..

Have you tried out Android L for yourself? Is there any feature that stands out to you, either in a good way or not? Let us know your thoughts on the next major Android version in the comments below!

Meet the Devs – LunarCannon

Posted by wicked July - 22 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Developer interviews
Welcome back to our Meet the Devs segment! In this piece we take a little time to get to know the people who really make Android what it is today and that is the app developers. In this week’s developer interviews, we are talking to LunarCannon.

Ti Kawamoto developer interviews

Here is the dev photo we were given.

Name: Ti Kawamoto

Developer Name: LunarCannon

Country: United States

Website: http://www.lunarcannon.com/games

Google + Profile/Page: N/A

How many people on your team? 1

developer interviews

Apps

Nano the Cat

Tell us about your company

LunarCannon is a startup marketing / video production company and operates as sort of a node in a larger network of local marketing and production professionals in Vermont. I started LunarCannon Games as the official banner under which I will pursue my dream of developing games and interactive software for Android and other platforms.

What level of experience do you have with coding and development?

I come from a design and marketing background, but I’ve always been fascinated by (and likely envious of) people who can code. I’ve worked with, and as part of, startup teams and I’ve always wanted to understand and contribute to the bigger picture in a more meaningful way. The only way to do that is to learn code and I decided to do just that at the beginning of this year (2014).

I did have some baseline knowledge of concepts like conditionals and loops and tinkered with PHP and ActionScript over the years out of necessity for client projects, but for all intents and purposes, I was a noob. And I am still a noob, but way less of one than when I started.

What languages do you know? How and where did you learn them?

While I’m comfortable with Java, I know there is still much to learn. I started off with the foundational basics of computer science doing the Harvard CS50 course and making my way to Java in late February after some deliberation as to which language I should pursue first. Java was the obvious pick because I want to develop for Android and use Unreal Engine for Oculus Rift development (UnrealScript being a close cousin to Java). By April, I embarked on my first project, Nano the Cat, which I released May 21st.

There are a lot of Java game development resources out there, but when I started to implement Google Play Games Services and other APIs, I was forced to get creative. I am so thankful for Stack Overflow.

What level of experience do you have with design?

I’ve been doing digital art in some form or another for the last 20 years or more. As part of my marketing company, I do video production with a heavy emphasis on motion design and animation. I also do the occasional 3D animation as well. On top of that, I’m a huge fan of UI / UX design.

You can probably guess how happy I was when Matias Duarte unveiled a cohesive design language for Android that continues to evolve and permeate all of Google’s offerings to this day. I’m ranting now, but I take design seriously. It’s more than icing on the cake – it’s visual communication. Good design equals good communication. If your app has poor design, you might as well translate everything into Klingon for the full effect.

What apps have you made?

Nano the Cat is my first app. It is a simple side-scrolling platform jumping game with a few unique gameplay mechanics that I let the user figure out for themselves. Things like double-jumping and jump distance correlating to how long you hold down a tap are things that make the game a bit more nuanced, but I don’t spell it out for people.

How do you monetize your apps?

I have ads on the menu and gameover screens. Obviously monetization would be nice, but in all honesty, I just wanted to see if I could figure out the API and get it to work. Same with in-app billing. Yes, I include in-app purchases, but I am extremely sensitive to peoples’ objections against it so any “premium” features are purely aesthetic and do not affect core gameplay at all. Again, I just wanted to see if I could make it work.

Do you consider yourself successful?

Yes. A million times, yes. Even if I make no money off of this game.. I made a game! And people seem to really like it! When I started my dev quest, I had originally set a deadline for end of year to release my first game or app on Android. I delivered half a year early so I am successful by that metric.

How difficult is it to make money as a developer?

No idea, but I imagine it’s tough. There’s a lot of noise out there and a lot of companies using just awful, shady monetization practices. As I continue to develop my skills and hopefully make this a viable arm of my business, I will do everything I can to operate ethically.

What can Android do to improve?

I am currently using Eclipse with ADT, which works well enough, but it isn’t the most elegant thing in the world. I tinkered with Android Studio a bit and there is a lot of functionality that is still missing, but it does show promise. So more intuitive, Android-centric development tools need to happen. Also the device emulators are super-slow compared to their iOS counterpart. I’ve used the iOS Simulator before for video production and it is extremely fluid.

Nano the Cat developer interviews

Why did you choose Android? Do you develop for other platforms? What are the differences between them?

I’ve always been a huge fan of Android ever since my first OG Droid (Milestone). I have done UI/UX work for iOS before, so I’m familiar with its design conventions, but I’ve never touched any code on those projects.

What are your thoughts on iOS and Windows 8

While I do respect other platforms and my fanboyism for Android does not keep me from appreciating what they have to offer, Android’s openness and tweakability appeal to me on a fundamental level. I am the guy who swaps the motor out on his car and builds his own PC from components, so having a walled garden is antithetical to my personality.

What are your favorite apps?

Pushbullet is wonderful and the devs are extremely active. I wish I could figure out more creative ways to use Tasker because that is one of those apps that really sets Android apart. And out of left field, I really like Allthecooks. It’s the best community-driven cookbook app and the design is superb.

What has been your experience working with Google?

They really do have some great documentation. It was almost easy getting the Play Services API to work. I wish their Developer Console had an app, but that’s a minor detail. In comparison, I had a disastrous time trying to figure out Facebook’s Open Graph API. Almost didn’t include that feature.

What does the future of development look like?

It seems every day people are coming out with projects that are so creative and revolutionary. It’s really amazing and the pace of it will only increase as development tools improve, costs of hardware trend to zero, and more smart people from developing countries get involved. This is only the beginning.

What tips do you have for aspiring developers?

What are you waiting for? Code is the language and skill set of the future. At times I thought I was “over the hill” at 30, watching kids less than two-thirds my age learning how to code in their diapers, but I didn’t let that discourage me. If you’re 30, it’s not too late. If you’re 60, it’s not too late. Do it, it is fun and rewarding.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Code is important. Design is important. If you’re a developer who thinks they don’t need a designer, please reconsider. If you’re a designer or non-technical founder, for the sake of your success and better relations with your team, please learn some code. It’ll really help you talk to your devs in the same language and they will seriously respect you for the initiative.


We want to thank LunarCannon for chatting with us in this week’s developer interviews! If you’re a developer and this looks like something you’d like to do, check out our Meet the Devs form! We look forward to hearing from you.

No new Android L preview images will be coming

Posted by wicked July - 22 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Perhaps you are a developer eager to get the next blockbuster app or game completely ready for Android L. Or maybe you’re a power user testing the waters of the next Android release. Whether or not you fall into either of these categories, if you’ve been waiting for an announcement for an Android L Developer Preview version 2.0, don’t hold your breath. A Google developer has practically confirmed what you probably didn’t want to hear: no updated images are planned for the pipeline.

To understand the context, we have to take a few steps back, actually a few days. Last week, Google published one of its Dev.Bytes videos on YouTube that focused on the Android L Preview. The four and a half minute long video, hosted by Googler Rich Hyndman, who was somewhat ironically wearing a KitKat shirt, delved into some of the things developers might want to take note of when trying out the preview image on a Nexus 5 or a Nexus 7. Later, a developer named Michael Panzer re-shared the video on Google+ and asked Hyndman whether there will be updates to the preview before final release. The gist of Hyndman’s answer is that there will be extras coming but no updated preview image.

The reason, according to the Google developer, is that the Android L preview is primarily to help developers test and prepare their apps against the upcoming release. At the very least, developers will be able to test if things run well, or hopefully even better, on the new ART runtime, if theming needs to be adjusted for the new Material Design, and other such considerations. The implications seems to be that the Preview isn’t meant for bug hunting, testing, and squashing. It sounds as if Google is expecting developers to just wait for the final Android L release to address those concerns.

For the casual observer or brave tester, this might be a disappointment at best. But it might be a bit disheartening, if not inconvenient, for app developers, especially those whose efforts have been foiled by Android L bugs. Some of those might have already been fixed on Google’s side, but developers won’t be able to enjoy those fixes and test their apps again without an updated image to try it on. That said, this is the first time Google ever provided a developer preview of an Android release and it is admittedly doing things a bit differently. One can only hope that they will reconsider and put out even just one more preview image before Android L, whatever its name will be by then, rolls out this fall.

SOURCE: +Michael Panzer
VIA: Smartdroid.de, BGR

Most developers are not making it in the app business… but Android is still king!

Posted by wicked July - 21 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

android-development

We often hear the success stories from triumphant app developers. Some of these applications generate tens of thousands a month, and sometimes per day! The developing craze builds up as more and more programmers learn to make apps, but it turns out the road to success in the app business can have more than just a single fork.

The latest Developer Economics survey proves most developers live under what is called the “app poverty line”. An app is considered below this line if it makes $500 or less a month. As it turns out, 50% of iOS developers and 64% of Android developers fall under this infamous category.

The business looks even less forgiving when you notice games generate the most revenue. Out of the 33% of the developer population that make games, about 57% are making less than $500 a month per app. As you can see, it’s not that easy to make it in the app developing world, but this doesn’t mean you can’t earn some cash either.

android developer apple mac Ryanne Lai

Even after all this years, the industry continues to expand and the Android platform is doing better than ever. In fact, most developers do utilize Java, Android’s programming language, over other options. 38% of developers seem to prefer using Java, as opposed to Objective-C (iOS’ language) at 24% and C# at 23%.

These numbers only make sense. After all, Android is the biggest platform, also having availability for the most apps. As we can see in this investigation, though, more doesn’t always mean better. It seems our developers are the first to suffer in this equation – as iOS is making developers more money.

Those struggling in this business should look into third-party tools. According to this same study, the use of these tools and a developer’s success are very strongly correlated. Of course, creativity and hard work can trump any numbers or statistics, and we know we have an amazing developer community out there!

Android Wear to get API for making custom watch faces

Posted by wicked July - 18 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Despite having its official release and even official devices, Android Wear might still be a bit raw, untested in the wild at the very least. So it isn’t surprising to learn that not everything is set in stone yet, even when it comes to the tools that developers need. The Android Wear team has just revealed that they are working on API that will make it easy for developers to create their own custom watch faces.

Google might be a little too late to the party. Ever since the Android Wear smartwatches launched, Android Wear apps started raining down, including watch faces, just like the Star Trek and Matrix themed designs we saw earlier. That said, making said smartwatch faces isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It’s almost akin to making your own homescreen launcher, except you need to have more considerations to keep in mind due to the special way Android Wear functions, like its information stream, battery and mute notifications, and always-on ambient mode.

It is even harder when you consider that the current API available are marked as unofficial, unreleased, and are therefore subject to change. The Android Wear dev team, however, is already hard at work in polishing up the API for a final release. And the benefits might be well worth waiting for, as the API would bring features like support for multiple form factors (think, both square and round faces), lower battery consumption, and generally a more reliable way to make faces.

To that end, Google is exhorting developers and designers to hold off from publishing their fancy sci-fi or fantasy design on Google Play Store, the reason being that the final version of the API might be totally incompatible with the experimental ones everyone seems to be using right now. Unfortunately, they also note that some of the promises of the Watch Face API won’t be fulfilled until after Android Wear has been migrated to Android L, which means sometime later this year. Of course, that won’t probably stop any of the current and future watch faces from coming out, both on Google Play Store or from other sources, but hopefully their developers know what they will be in for once the final API comes out.

SOURCE: +Wayne Piekarski