KitKat is Out, Party Time!

Android released KitKat (Android 4.4) last night, and as usual with a new major release of Android, we have fun with all the APKs while we’re waiting for AOSP to drop, and for ROM developers to get working on our favourite ROMs. Someone out there’s already taken a dump (mind out gutter) of KitKat and posted it in the wild, AOSP is building, and Git is ready for poking around to find NSA code and other FUD conspiracies;

With that said, let the fun begin!

I’m on CM10.2 (Android 4.3) on my device, so a lot of the apps on KitKat are working without any issues or force closes (remember to wipe app data if having issues!). I first got Hangouts 2.0 last night, which finally comes with SMS integration. One less app merged! Also got the clock app. Thank goodness they made the font standard.
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Then this morning I updated Play Services, Google Now and got the new Google Experience Launcher (think of the combination as the Fusion cannon transforming onto Megatron). The launcher looks great, but I’m sure that Android Police are busy with teardowns of all they can. I was using Aviate, but I think I’ll stick with the Google launcher for now.

The tech sites will be flooded with updates on what’s new, but as for me I’ll be patiently waiting for CM11 (surely they can’t call it 10.3?).
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TechCrunch Android App Fail

I love TechCrunch, they are a highly reputable source of info, especially on start-ups. WIth them having covered a multitude of start-ups, their app successes and failure; one would have expected a good Android app from them.

Last night TechCrunch released an Android app for tablets. I went on to the Play Store expecting to not be able to download the app, but there was no such restriction.The first thing I noticed was the 8 ‘5 stars’ and the 8 ‘1 stars’. It was an immediate sign that something had gone wrong.

They just built a tablet app and didn’t restrict downloading by phones on the Play Store … Which is what most people are saying, including my comment.

My comment on the app

 

No usability guidelines were considered it seems, as:

  • things I would expect to slide or press aren’t working
  • their ‘Trending’ post thing on the side just takes way too much space
  • and and and …

I won’t continue the little list above cos the app looks fine on tablets, which is the target audience anyways.

The most disappointing thing about the app though, is that looking at the itunes listing of the app, and comparing to Play Store screenshots, the Android app is *just* a port from iPad. The biggest fail is really that when I long-press on an article, a sort of ill-designed toast appears, with 4 options as below on the screenshot. The problem is that Android has intents, and thus native ‘systemwide’ sharing. On the phone that I was testing the app with, I only have EverNote installed, no Pocket, and I’ve never used InstaPaper. It was really disappointing that instead of opening EverNote for example, I was sent to a WebView page that lets me connect to EverNote. If I have an app installed, I don’t wanna waste more bandwidth sending content to the app’s server, only to get it back again.
This clearly means that there was no consideration for being able to do things offline (except to save an article for offline reading).

I wouldn’t have written this article if the app was developed by an independent developer who didn’t have access to TechCrunch’s data (thee actually is an app out there ‘TechCrunch Reader’ that is better than this one) [looks like it’s been removed from the Play Store]. The sad thing is that this app was developed by AOL Inc.

I’ve added more screenshots on the gallery of this post.

Google Maps Traffic vs Waze

I took a few minutes off studying this morning to find Moneyweb covering an interesting story. Google has enabled live traffic data in SA and a few other countries! Victory for users and local developers (as the overlay is available through the JavaScript API). Honestly I was sad at first, as I was looking at a way of providing such information on Google Maps (quite ambitious, but my early retirement plan is gone now). After a few more minutes of searching I discovered that Google Map Maker has also been activated in South Africa.

The latter is important because we can start adding walkways, and coincidentally my project relied on walkways, meaning that I don’t need to look at alternative mapping solutions yet. I added two walkways, and I’ll see how long approval takes.

Anyways, instead of covering the Google success, I decided to leave at a relatively busy time of the evening today, so I could compare Google Navigation with Waze Navigation. Particularly the level of detail and accuracy of each service. Of course Waze has the advantage of users sharing info on incidents, but disregarding that advantage; I had an interesting time comparing each. Even took some screenshots thanks to Ice Cream Sandwich (I didn’t record any screenclips as I am normally loud on the road [expressing anger to some of the stuff that happens in the news, while listening to 702]. Continue reading “Google Maps Traffic vs Waze”