How to get a free tablet for your existing Android app

February 12th, 2012

Developing for mobile device is not easy. It doesn’t matter which platform (Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone, etc.) one is developing for, there are simulators / emulators out there that help you run tests and debug your app right on your computer. However, it is always a big difference of what happens on a real device.

Such ‘real’ devices are expensive and we small developers can’t afford to buy all of them. To be frank, almost all smartphone and tablet vendors do provide such developer devices for testing. Some give them away for free, some sell them very cheap, some loan them to you, and so on; but that’s a topic for a different article.

Today I want to talk about RIM and their BlackBerry Tablet OS platform. I am not sure whether the Android community is actually aware of the fact that you can just take your Android APK file, run it through a “repackaging” process and suddenly you have a brand new BlackBerry PlayBook app binary (.BAR extension). Now, we all know that RIM wants to regain market share which besides other initiatives is demonstrated in their goal of getting more Android developers to treat the BlackBerry as a real target platform. Therefore, every BlackBerry PlayBook as well as those new and shiny BlackBerry 10 phones will come with an Android runtime that allows to run those repackaged Android apps right on BlackBerry devices.

So if you run your Android through that repackager, submit the app to BlackBerry App World, you can apply for a free PlayBook — which you can keep. Repackaging takes about 10 minutes (including the time you need to figure out how it works); so let’s just say “it is easy”. I just got my PlayBook approved today :)

Hurry up!
Deadline for this offer is February 13th, 2012!

These links you will need:

How to get more than 100% active installs on Android Market

June 24th, 2011

Well, having a percentage of more than 100% of active installs on the Android Market seems a bit unrealistic to me. However, this is what it shows in my Android Market app listing. The one shown on the right is a paid application that had just been launched, so I guess the Android Market didn’t update its internal statistics properly yet.

The mix of ingredients to get a high percentage of active installs is fairly easy:

  1. Have a good app with as less bugs as possible.
  2. Provide a good app / user experience.
  3. Have a good presentation of your app on the Android Market (or other stores).
  4. Establish a relationship with your users (connect to them via Twitter, ask then to sign up for your newsletter, reply to their emails addressing their issues, questions and suggestions, etc.)
  5. Tell your existing users you have a new app available.

Though, I consider it common sense, I know that there are a lot of developers out there who don’t do that. Of course, there is a lot more you can do, but at least that’s a start. Most developers write an app, put it up there on a market (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry all the same) and then lean back and see. Folks, that’s not how the world works. App users are like you and me, if we buy a car we want to hear from dealer how good the car and what features it has. Once we bought it, we want to be sure, it does not break down at the first overland trip and we want to have an exciting experience every time we start the engine. Same counts for apps – as a user I need to love it and I need to be told to try it!

Android Diversity and its Disadvantages

June 3rd, 2011


The fragmentation of the Android market (no, not the store) is an advantage and disadvantage at the same time. Despite all those different OS versions out there (see image on the right) there are a lot of devices on the market. This massive diversity of Android phones, produced by dozens of different manufacturers worldwide, each of them having their own target user, their own distribution system and their own target country — allowed Android to become as big as it is right now.

Some people always compare the Android approach with the way Microsoft went with Windows about 20 years ago — just that Android is a lot more open, but they both chose the way of providing an operating system for a very general set of hardware components. Combining this with the openess and especially “freeness” of the Android OS – the advantage of that is obvious: Imagine you are a Chinese handset manufacturer who used to build phones for Nokia or SonyEricsson for a decade; you know how to assemble the right hardware into a tiny little piece of awesomeness. The only thing you were missing was a good operating system. Yes, 10 years those two companies were doing well with their Symbian-based phones and Symbian was a good OS back then.

Nowadays we see that despite the huge success of the Android platform, developers have problems monetizing their applications. Yes, it is possible to push out free aps with mobile ads in there and it is also possible to publish paid applications which users can get for a one-off fee (e.g. $0.99). However, based on the above mentioned approach of Android, the device diversity is so huge that nearly every day it gets harder and harder for developers to write an application that works the same on all devices running Android – say OS 2.3. A very simple example the device’s LED lamp. There are some methods in the API to control the device LED, but it is required for an Android phone to have such a LED. Some phones have a trackball that can light up in different colors, though — others have both. Just when I am with the LED: Google removed the possibility to directly control that LED a while back claiming it would be using too much battery power when the LED is used heavily. They added that weird glow effect at scrolling without the option to switch it off though — I doubt that takes less battery.

There are a lot more examples where the “openess” of the Android platform actually hinders developers of creating applications with the same features and the same user experience on all devices the app is compatible with. I would like to see Google addressing this issue. In one way or the other.

Lenovo U1 Pad – Android 2.2 based LePhone OS – Specs Revealed

May 24th, 2011


Lenovo has pre-launched their U1 Pad Android-2.2-based tablet back in March and will launch the final version probably around June or July this year. We have found out the actual technical specifications of that device which are listed below.

U1 Pad Technical Spec
1 Hardware
Application Processors & System
Processor: QualComm Snapdragon 8650A (1.3GHz, 1.5W, 256K L2 cache, DDR2-266)
OS: based on Android 2.2

Memory & Storage
ROM: DDR2 -667/800MHz,1GB
SLC flash: 512M
iNAND: 16G/32G
SDCard: No

Embedded Peripherals
Screen: 10.1″ 16:10, 1280×800, 24bit
Touch Panel: Multi-touch Panel (not more than four point)
Camera: 2M pixels – Fixed Focus CMOS camera
Keyboard: Docking QWERT Keyboard
Acceleration Sensor: Yes
Light Sensor: Yes
Proximity Sensor GPS: Yes
Control Button: back, menu, home, navigation, volume up/volume down, power
Wireless: 802.11b/g/n,BT2.1(ERD),WCDMA/EVDO

2 Software:
Key Features
Video Player: .rm, .rmvb, .ra, .rv, .wma, .wmv, .asf, .mp3, .mp4,.3gp,.m4a,.m4v , .avi, .mov, .mpg/.mpeg, .wav, .au
Music Player: wma, mp3, wav, aac, amr, ra, ogg, ape
Image Viewer: jpg, png, bmp 和 gif(静态) – Zoom in/out – Full screen
Camera application: Image and video take & playback – Send via mail, mms etc – Save as contact’s portrait
3D: OpenGL ES 2.0

Performance
Video Playback: >6h
MP3 Playback: >16h

Language
Chinese: Supported
English: Supported

3 Android
Download Android 2.2 from: http://androidappdocs.appspot.com/sdk/index.html

Android Stand at Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona

March 17th, 2011

Though, I am not very active on this blog, I am very busy in the mobile industry. Therefore, I was in Barcelona about a month ago and attended the Mobile World Congress. A lot of stuff was going on there and it was very exciting to see the industry moving so fast!

Google itself wasn’t there “directly”, but they built up a massive Android playground with loads of apps developers to showcase their applications. It was very exciting to see what was going on there and how all of us developers approach our projects differently and yet with interesting similarities. Here are some photos from the stand:

Android Stand at Mobile World Congress 2011 - Photo 1

Android Stand at Mobile World Congress 2011 - Photo 2

Android Stand at Mobile World Congress 2011 - Photo 3

I was even sitting in the first row at Eric Schmidt’s Keynote at MWC. That was exciting – especially when the Google engineer showcased the new Motorola Xoom Android tablet.

Mobile World Congress - Keynote by Eric Schmidt

Mobile World Congress - Keynote by Eric Schmidt

And no, I didn’t get a free Xoom tablet or Nexus S smartphone like a year ago at the Android Developer Labs :(

Android Developers can now sell their Apps on Verizon VCAST

October 16th, 2010


VerizonWireless will soon launch the Android 2.2 powered 7″ Tablet from Samsung called Galaxy S Tablet. How do I know that? Well … Verizon just sent an email to all developers in their VCAST Apps Program. The VCAST Apps store currently only supports BlackBerry applications, you can browse it on your desktop here: http://mediastore.verizonwireless.com/

I quoted the email below, but Verizon basically asks developers to upload their Android apps to their storefront for the Galaxy S Tablet by Samsung. On Samsung’s website that device is called Galaxy Tab, though. Here are some pictures for those of you who don’t know how it looks like:

Looks nice, huh? Even the back is kind of pretty; but as usual with such Asian gadgets, they look very much like style-copies of Apple products similar to other known western brands.

Still, the technical specs are promising and the tablet provides more features than Apple’s iPad. However, from a professional point of view, I don’t believe Android OS in version 2.2 is ready for full tablet usage yet. Users just expect a bit different of an experience from a tablet compared to a smartphone. Though the Galaxy S Tablet does only have a 7″ display it comes with pretty much the same resolution as the iPad and therefore you get as many Apps icons on your screen as you can see on an iPad (if those icons are the same resolution). Anyway, Android 3.0 will hopefully be a big step forward to better tablet usage and richer API’s for us developers. Meanwhile, you guys can join Verizon’s developer program and sell your Android apps in their VCAST store. I reckon there is quite some potential in here!

Dear Developer,

We are happy to let you know that V CAST Apps is now accepting submissions for the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tablet! As you may know this will be the first tablet form factor to release with internal access to America’s largest wireless network, and V CAST Apps will be the featured app delivery channel.

In most cases applications built for Android 2.2 will work without modification, but we want to make sure you have the opportunity to optimize your experience. Here are some notes to remember:

  • 7” LCD Screen
  • Android 2.2 (FroYo)
  • 2GB Internal Memory
  • 16GB SD Card included
  • Data Only
  • GPS and aGPS Supported

Click here for more detailed information: http://developer.verizon.com/downloads/OEM_PDF/SamsungTab.pdf

If you have already submitted a binary for your application concept, you can add a new edition for the Samsung Tablet. After uploading your new binary, you will select the supported device SCH-i800 on the Content Descriptions page.

New Edition Quick Reference Guide: http://developer.verizon.com/jsps/devCenters/Smart_Phone/Landing_Pages/sp_gtm_vcastapps_binr_edit.jsp

If you have not yet submitted a concept, you can get started now through the developer portal.

Concept Submission Quick Reference Guide: http://developer.verizon.com/jsps/devCenters/Smart_Phone/Landing_Pages/sp_gtm_vcastapps_conc.jsp

If you have any questions, please check out the forums and FAQ’s at http://developer.verizon.com.

Thank you for being part of the Verizon Developer Community. You applications help our subscribers Rule the Air!

Regards,

Verizon Developer Relations
http://developer.verizon.com

Final Note: I am wondering whether Verizon will also sell the BlackBerry PlayBook? What do you think?

Android Smartphones are all over Hong Kong and even on Mini-Buses

September 24th, 2010

Yesterday night I was walking around Kowloon site of Hong Kong and saw a couple of so called “Mini Buses” that were showing hundreds of Android smartphones on an ad that was obviously promoting just Android. Check it out:

Zoomed in a bit further, you can see that there are loads of little droids on the banner. Though, I don’t quite understand what the app is talking about (my Cantonese / Chinese reading is nearly not existing) I reckon that ad is there to just advertise for Android.

With a smartphone penetration of 58% (if I remember correctly), every second mobile in Hong Kong is a smartphone. While the iPhone is still the main smartphone used for personal and the BlackBerry for business life, Android phones are getting more and more popular – like everywhere in the world. Most of those new Android phones are built in Asia anyway and therefore, they hit Hong Kong very early after being released publicly.

If you have a nice Android picture in real life, let me know. I might put it up as well ;)

71% of all Android Users want to keep their Robot!

August 6th, 2010

Folks, check out these new stats from Nielsen Wire!

It tells us, that 71% of all Android users want to have an Android phone as their next phone. Though the iPhone users are even more loyal, their 89% number is quite normal for Apple users in General. However, there is not just one phone with an Android OS – there are a lot by now! Therefore, it is hard for Google / Android to provide the very same user experience on every Android phone.

More about their iPhone / BlackBerry / Android report can be found here: Android Soars, but iPhone Still Most Desired as Smartphones Grab 25% of U.S. Mobile Market

The G1 and Dev Phone 2 got replaced by the Nexus One as the Official Android Developer Phone

August 6th, 2010

Well, I actually knew it from the beginning. Google just replaced the official Android developer phone G1 and Dev Phone 2 with their very own Nexus One. This is what Tim just posted:

We’ve always offered unlocked phones for direct sale to registered Android Developers. As of today, the Developer Phone is the Nexus One, at a price of $529. To see the details or order a phone, you need to sign in to your Android developer account and click on the “Development Phones” link.

The Nexus One is a far more advanced phone anyway and therefore, it more suitable for Android app development. I got mine quite a while back and then (unexpectedly) I got a second one at the Android Developer Labs 2010 HK. Anyway, if you are thinking about getting a real phone for app development, I can definitely recommend the Nexus One.

Get it here:

Protect Android Apps with the License Server via Android Market

July 29th, 2010

I am not a big fan of copy protection, DRM or anything that prevents the freedom me and how I handle products I bought in future. Is it an app I bought with the G1 and copying it onto my Nexus One, or an old LP that I want to use on my new LP player. Therefore, I am always kind of skeptical when it comes to copy-protection mechanisms. Of course, as a mobile application developer for about 6 years (that’s longer than people know the word iPhone) I have to admit that I thought about those kind of thing a bit in the past. However, IMHO my time is better invested in adding new features to apps, create new apps and hook up with all the users to figure out what the heck they actually want – rather than trying to punish them with copy-protection mechanisms that are just annoying.

With Google recent announcement of the License Server for Android I have to say, they put out a good piece for developers and for users. I haven’t used the License Server yet, but from what I read in the blog article and Android docs (see links below) it looks like a solid mechanism that allows developers some basic protection via verifying whether an app has been bought or not. And to be honest, that’s all you need!

Here is what it does:

Developers can now easily verify whether the current user (more specifically the current GMail account) purchased an app. Developers can implement such verification methods in a jiffy into their apps and after getting verification (or not) they can decide what to do after that. IMHO, this is a very open, very free approach to this delicate topic and I love it! Here is the official chart of how the procedure works:

License Server via Android Market

License Server via Android Market

By leveraging the Android Market infrastructure this library actually puts more value to developers if they use the Android Market. Honestly, the Android Market could use a major round-up upgrade of features and usability. However, it works so far and it gets better. Step-by-step, but hey, it gets better!

My conclusion:

Well done Google. I like this approach and I will definitely use it in future apps as well as in exsiting apps. It’s time for an app update week!