A tool for all Android UI Developers

A blog post at The Serval Project

العربية: Android logo

on what one of our incredibly talented engineers has come up with to help me in my major reworking of the Serval UI for our upcoming major release.

Android UI Tool

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Why Androids UI Is Laggy…

I have been wondering about this (and grumbling while developing) for sometime….

“Interesting technical look at the design of Android’s graphics and event processing by Andrew Munn, trying to explain why it feels so laggy compared to iOS and Windows Phone:?\”

via Daring Fireball Linked List: Why Androids UI Is Laggy Compared to iOS and Windows Phone.

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Google – can it compete with Facebook? Or anyone besides search engines?


Image via Wikipedia

Farhad Manjoo has this article running atm : Google+ had a chance to compete with Facebook. Not anymore. – Slate Magazine.

It got me thinking. Look, i love Google+. It is the same rush of intense gratitude for a service I had when first using Facebook, before it becoame so big and monstrous (all things to all people works for some, not me, and that’s ok). Google+ combines that with the integration of its other services. Wonderful. And blessed shock, for once, the interface is good. Not great, but good. Damning with faint praise.

I have written often on how, from a developer pov (and a user who wants so much to embrace their products), their UI is woeful, and they could benefit hugely from feedback from both developers and users there. I have an iPhone4. My husband has the Samsung Galaxy 2. I look at it, and admire it, but I wouldn’t swap for the world, and he is NOT enjoying Android – but I can see how much the iOS would suit him. I have tried living in Android world, I have had Android handsets, and always gone back to iOS. And I WANT to live in a Googleverse. But Apple UI beats them hands down – and I know of others working in Android who regretfully feel the same way. (Often they are people who care about UI and the user experience too).

But being a developer in Android, I know how hard it is to get Google to take feedback. By hard, I mean damn impossible. They are like a black box – feedback goes in, their own ideas come out. And we at the Serval Project want to work with them – they have teams working on similar ideas to us in mesh networking.It has been interesting at the IEEE 802 PLenary how many people say the same thing about Google being hard to connect to, to work with. And that is a pity. Because we get technical genius that misses the need – Wave, Buzz. They brush it off as learning, and integrate useful bits. But that is expensive, and alienates users. The more they do that, the more cynical people are about their products, and the further behind they are.

So in reading Farhad’s article, I so want to disagree with him, I really do. But he is probably right, because Google hasn’t learned that lesson yet.

But if you ever are Google – let’s talk.

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Off to see the wizard…

I am presenting at :

I am nervous about this pretty important presentation – more about this next post. This is being done with the support and encouragement of many projects besides ours, so I feel a lot of weight on shoulders. I want to represent everybody as well as i can.

I am nervous about the flight, i loathe flying, and with a disability, for this distance, how will evil back hold up? And how will the trip erode my ability to cope with in, away from the support i have set up for myself?

Have we organised enough money in foreign currency? How hard will taxis etc be with wheelchair – i can’t ust do the hop on a bus thing. How about my heavy medications, will all the supporting documentation be sufficient? Thieves, a real problem, how to avoid? SO a mix of normal traveller apprehension mixed with disability concerns.

But i am going with my spouse, my joy knows no limits there. He and i know each other so well, and he is so supportive and encouraging, his excitement lifts me when my nerves threaten me. We are calling this the honeymoon we never have, a seal on the new life we are thoroughly committed to, to each other. I am old married and new married to him, and it, along with kids and project, is a delightful consumption:)

Ahh well, an adventure i am going on, and i will be all the better for it. The kids are excited for some grandpa and big sister time. And souvenirs, thre is definitely souvenirs requesting going on:) I will take many pictures, ads will himself, and it will be wonderful. I will live blog as i find access.

When i get back, it is UI revamp major release, and writing my thesis proposal for uni. And putting the next draft of my Linux Conf Au 2012 presentation together – January is exciting trip for  many Serval types, as we all head to th conference, where Corey and I wll be presenting, but all of us will be interacting and demonstrating. Serval Roadtrip!!!!

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The difference between Design and Development matters.

Android robot logo.

Image via Wikipedia

A post from me in my incarnation as serious developer type in my project mode: The Difference between Design vs Development

One in which i grumble about the state of Android development, in particular, UI design which is finally being recognised as a actually a different thing to development – which iOS has known form the beginning. Also contains a link to the first set of Guidelines to designing for Android that treats it as proper design (well, that i have found).

Android, i love you to bits and all, but honestly, iOS has everything in one set of documents because they recognise how vital both elements are.

And until you get it, dear Android, iOS will continue to offer a (mostly) superior user experience (notifications suck, iOS, you can’t boast yet).

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Android UI Development

Android robot logo.

Image via Wikipedia

I found this article, The Curious Case of Android UI Development, while getting my head around moving from iOS UI development to Android, as I am now doing UI work on the upcoming Alpha release of Serval Batphone. My favourite quote is :

“Though a bit of a well-worn topic, it is worth mentioning the development “culture shock” experienced by those coming from the iPhone world armed with tools like Interface Builder for all its shortcomings to Android-land where we are left with the technological equivalent of sharpened sticks and smooth stones. “

He isn’t wrong. I have come to the conclusion the underlying Android code is easier to work in than iOS (that may be my open source fan girl speaking, Objective C isn’t my favourite after all), but the tools available for UI development, which is my area of interest, are ‘teh suck’. Which is geek speak for they suck. I do like Balsamiq for general wireframing (I use iMockup on my iPad, and love that too. DroidDraw is incredibly dated feeling. If anyone has any other tips, I am open to them!

A couple of good links, btw :

Android vs IPhone development
Android UI development tools
Android UI Development: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

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Mesh Networks in Authoritarian Regimes

Social networking may have a reputation for pointless trivia, however it is rapidly emerging as the most pressing threat to authoritarian dictatorships. The same social networks we use to plan a night out are being used to overthrow unpopular governments. Unfortunately the means to access the Internet is centrally managed corporations – it’s easy for an embattled government to simply disconnect an entire city or country from the Internet. As we have seen in Egypt… the Internet as we know it can be shut down at the whim of government.

Paul Gardner Stephen is a fellow of Flinders University in Southern Australia. He is the founder of the Serval project, an open-source project which aims to turn every-day mobile phones into nodes of an indestructible mesh network.

And the Serval Project is something i happen to be, very proudly, co-founder of.
Mesh Networks in Authoritarian Regimes, with Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen, founder of the Serval Project by salimfadhley

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Need to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow

MBP inside

Image via Wikipedia

Le sigh. Fan on MBP is intermittently attempting to spin, so sounds like controller on motherboard, or fan itself is borked. The wonderful and necessary SMC fan control is not helping it, so thinking is hardware rather than software. Fortunately, a dear friend (hi Corey!) is rescuing me with his studio 27″ iMac (spoilt!), as my under warranty repair has to wait 5 days before even being looked at – and two days if parts not to hand.

Thank the small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri that i have a good friend to bail me…as much as I love my iPad, a desktop/laptop/full on machine work replacement for a developer it is most definitely not.

Of course, taking my first small class of students at the University tomorrow as part of Serval…will let Tardis the 13″Macbook Pro settle down for a while before restarting him, and seeing if i can finish what i was doing in Eclipse with the Android SDK to get ready…

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