Monday, July 27, 2009

Android, European Developers and ADC 2

My new role at Google hasn't left me with much time for bogging lately, which is a shame because there's a lot going on that's worthy of note.

The good news is that blogging is now a bigger part of my job role -- albeit not on this blog.

As part of Google's developer relations team I'll be writing regularly for the EMEA Developer Blog (like last week's post calling for European entries for the second Android Developer Challenge). We aim to include plenty of content with a local flavour for developers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Rather than do all the work ourselves, we're also hoping to reach out to the community and get regular guest posts from EMEAs developer community. Comments are open, so let us know what you think and what you want to hear about.

While I'm here, some Android updates:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Android News

So it seems today is a day for Android announcements.

HTC has made the Android 1.5 (cupcake) system image available for the downloading and device flashing pleasure of ADP1 (developer phone) owners everywhere. This is an excellent opportunity to test your SDK 1.5 targeted applications on real hardware before it hits consumers, so get to it.

Speaking of consumers, O2 Germany just announced the June release of the first non-HTC device to hit the market, the Samsung I7500.

With more SDK features, more countries, more carriers, and more devices coming thick and fast, the potential audience for your kick-ass Android app is getting bigger by the second. Download the 1.5 preview SDK now and get started.

The Calls are Coming from Inside the House

By now it should be pretty clear that I'm a fan of Android. It's a platform exciting enough to have driven me from my comfortable niche writing Windows desktop software into the world of mobile application development.

Now, I'm (extremely) happy to say that Google have let me turn my part-time amateur Android developer support and evangelism into a full time role as an Android Developer Advocate. I'll be based in Google's London office helping developers in EMEA produce the sort of awesome mobile applications I've always known are possible. It's a particularly exciting time in Android with version 1.5 of the SDK (now available in preview) featuring home-screen widgets, live folders, and video recording.

So what exactly is a developer advocate?

It's an opportunity to work on the inside, helping the developer community on two fronts: first by working with development teams to improve and perfect their apps, and secondly as a conduit back to the Android development team - helping to guide future Android development in a way that makes it even easier for developers to create great apps.

What does that mean for this blog?

I'll continue to blog about my own projects, as well as taking some close looks at the Android SDK as it grows and evolves. I'll also continue to feature new Google developer products as they're released, as well as my own projects and 'how-to guides'. What you won't see here, for obvious reasons, is speculation on future Google products, Google secrets, or new product announcements. As a member of the Developer Relations team in EMEA, I'll also take on some of the responsibility for Google's UK Developers Blog, so expect to see some more Android content from me there soon.

Over the past year I've found myself using Twitter (@retomeier) when I spot cool new products, and will probably continue to do that rather than dedicate whole blog posts to track every new product announcement.

Google I/O - Should I Come?

Yes! I'm really excited about Google I/O this year. There's going to be a ridiculous amount of useful information for people doing development with Google's developer offerings. Android developers in particular won't go away disappointed. I really hope to see some of you there - particularly if your based in any of the EMEA countries - so if you come along, be sure to come over and say 'Hi!'.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Earthquake! for Android

A couple of years ago, the real-time earthquake display on display at the Natural History Museum in New York impressed me so much I stole copied created my own version of their concentric circle filled goodness.

Lately I've been focussing on mobile applications, so I figured why not move the same compelling UI to my Android handset?

Like the exhibit that inspired it, Earthquake! (Applications > News & Weather) shows not just the epicentres, but also an approximated 'damage zone' (inner circle, dark shading) and 'rumble zone' (outer circle, lighter shading) to give an impression of the areas likely to be affected by each earthquake. Zoom in to see which cities and suburbs will feel the tremor, and which are at risk for property damage.

Being a mobile app invites some personalization features not possible on a web site or museum display. Earthquake! lets you configure notification for new earthquakes that cause the phone to vibrate in proportion to the size of the detected quake. Small, magnitude 3 quakes barely shake your phone, but Big One's at 8 or 9 on the Richter scale will vibrate for up to 20 seconds.

Using My Location you can filter notifications to only alert you to earthquakes nearby, or for which you're within the expected 'rumble zone'.

So now if you've got an Android powered phone, you can have you own mobile real-time earthquake display. Then if you wake up in the deserted ruins of a post-apocalyptic nightmare you won't have to wonder whether or not the damage was caused by a magnitude nine earthquake splitting the Earth's crust in two.
The code used to create Earthquake! is a polished version of the ongoing example code shown in Professional Android Application Development, so if you like the idea pick up a copy and see how it's done.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

eBooks, Kindles, and Mobiles

A couple of weeks ago Chris Webb (of publisher John Wiley & Sons) wondered if Amazon's decision to make Kindle titles available on a variety of mobile phones might be especially game changing.

Being an eBook skeptic I wasn't entirely convinced. A spirited discussion on Twitter (@retomeier / @chriswebb) followed, which eventually led to Chris putting my response up in full on his blog as 'Digital Books: Digital FAIL?'.