Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Silent Timer Released

I have just yesterday released a (very) small app and widget called "Silent Timer". This a simple app to disable the silent mode after a certain time. I made it because I regularly forget to turn off silent mode after movies and meetings. There are plans to add some more features in the next few weeks.

There is a free ad supported version and a paid version. The free version has had 300 downloads so far - which isn't too shabby for absolutely no announcements or marketing (well, except this post).

OTA Update 2.2.1

Just received an OTA update today to 2.2.1 - looks to be mostly security stuff, blocking one touch rooting and some WIFI issues. There are also some nice little improvements to Gmail, easier replying and forwarding buttons. Some people reported maps changes but they must be slight, as I can't see them.

The only issue being that Swype has the be re-installed (it works as keyboard but the Swype feature disables - I can only assume this is intentional as it happened on my 2.2 update as well). But who can can live without Swype?

Nexus one users have got the update first as usual, other are coming soon (Droid X tomorrow?).

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

HTC launch event - Desire HD and Z

HTC got friendly last week having a launch party for their yet unreleased Desire HD and Dersire Z phones. The phones are nice and light (maybe slightly too light) models with WVGA screens (the desire HD has a larger screen at 4.3").

The event was a bit misguided - the phones were in a separate room, in which only a few people were allowed to view them at a time. I think a better marketing technique would've been to have more phones so everyone that went could get a better look at them. It was quite annoying going to see new phones and not really being able to get a sense of what they feel like to use for a while. If you're going to spend all that money on marketing, then more actual phones definitely couldn't hurt, but who would say no to free food and beer anyway ...

The Desire HD borders on a mini-tablet device with such a large screen, though it is still very much a (big) phone. It also has the very nice feature of a built in DNLA server, which I am looking very forward to. Hopefully it will play nicely with MyPOD so you can easily have videocasts on your main TV. It is certainly a nice feature to have for a media device though, videos can be viewed without cables. I'm guessing more recent TVs have this DNLA client functionality built in, but I use my PlayStation which works fine (I haven't had a chance to test it with the device unfortunately).

The desire Z is slightly lower power (800MHz), and has a nice looking slide out keyboard.

The phone specs are available here:
HTC Desire HD

HTC Desire Z

Thursday, 16 September 2010

DroidCon London 28-29 Oct, 2010

The upcoming London DroidCon conference looks very promising, the people at Novoda (and others I'm sure ..) have put together an excellent programme of speakers and topics, especially in the user experience and business marketing side. I would highly recommend it for people who are looking to develop their ideas on Android.

These events are very important for the Android community to meet face-to-face and discuss ideas and strategies, and the Barcamp on the first day is a good way to incubate such ideas.

DroidCon events have been held in London and Berlin for the past two years and with the quickening pace of Android development and market penetration, it looks to continue as a premier event for the Android community.


Saturday, 11 September 2010

Android vs Oracle contradictions

There has been a lot of talk in the tech world about Oracle's patent infringement claims against the Android operating system. Oracle have not disclosed the details of the claims, and are highly unlikely to do so before the case goes to court. While I respect the right of Oracle to protect it's intellectual property, it seems this non-disclosure is more aimed at scaring people away from Android, even though ultimately they will be seeking some form of licensing arrangement for whatever patents/copyrights have been infringed in Android.

The best thing Oracle can do at the moment is to disclose the basis of their claims, not only are they hurting Android but they are also hurting the open-source Java community in its entirety, and in doing so the value of arguably the biggest asset they acquired in their takeover of Sun (i.e. Java). One wonders how they can't see this, possibly they think Java is too big to fail now (sound familiar?).

The whole thing rings of the IBM vs SCO case of a few years ago. They made claims Linux infringed their patents, would not disclose any information about it and then when the case came to court, they didn't really have much to stand on. SCO eventually filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and looks like it will go out of business. The lesson that could have been learnt is that these frivolous patent claims cost everyone money and to proceed you would want to be quite sure of wining, even though the lack of disclosure indicates they aren't really that sure.

It all adds a lot of weight to the argument that the patents system needs drastic reformation for use with software, which is re-used as a general development practice. Until this happens patents will be used as a tools for revenue generation and most likely result in mutually assured destruction for businesses looking to (mis)use them for revenue generation purposes.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

MSc Project presentation

I have recently completed a MSc in Digital Music Processing at Queen Mary University in London. My final masters project was a implementation of beat detection and mixing on Android, which included a thorough analysis on onset detection, tempo analysis and beat recognition, as well as a custom Phase Vocoder implementation. The project went quite well and a good result was achieved, though in 2 months it is quite hard to complete a large implementation. The project had a healthy proportion of NDK programming in it, which was really interesting and my first use of JNI, definitely a necessity for apps needing a DSP component on Android.

The project was presented as part of the university evaluation process and is even being considered for inclusion as part of a new project to make mobile technology @ Queen Mary available to all.

For anyone interested in the gory details - I have included the final project report and presentation.