Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mobile screens : the next step ?

Have you ever action play games with buttons on your smartphone ?
One of biggest grief I have against these games is that you don't _feel_ the buttons. So it's very easy to move your fingers out of the button position, and to loose some control. And the experience then become incredibly frustrating !

So I really think some tactile feedback for our mobile will be an tremeduous boost in the user experience !

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sooooo Cute !!

The korean ads for Android were really nice, and now the mascot is available !

(Found on Romain Guy's twitter...)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to improve your application - the ultimate crash reporter : ACRA

I've already introduce some way to create a crash reporter ( here and here ).
But now, I've found what I think is the ultimate crash reporter for Android !

Remember : 
My solution was, when a crash occured, to collect the callstack, some potentially interesting other var, some custom data for the application, and to form a email with all these informations, give them to gmail, so the user could send this email with some data on the current crash !
That was a nice first step, but a lot of people just didn't wanted to send the mail, fearing that it would be used for spams.
A better solution would have been to have my own web server with a special page to receive and treat bug reports, but I didn't have time to make the server part, so I was still using my mail solution !

Here's come Nivek !
Then, 6 month ago, on a french Android developer forum ( FrAndroid ), someone asked how people were dealing with crashes. So I presented my solution. Some people found it interesting, and then Nivek has THE idea ! Nivek ( whose real name is Kevin Gaudin and who is the creator of Email Album ) is a smart guy, that was quite active on the forum, and whose interventions are always interesting ( and it's quite rare on developers forums... ).
He proposed to send the crash report to  a google doc form !
Then he took my code, added this possibility, and make a nice open Source project from it.
ACRA was born !

The advantages of ACRA are :
* You don't have to develop your own server side solution, it's all done by google. You don't even need a web server. A google login is enough !
* All crash reports are sent. Nivek made it modular so you can choose how you inform the user that a crash was send ( no feedback, toast feedback, feedback as a notification )
* it's soooo easy to use !
* It's working with every Android version
* You still can add your own custom informations
* You can use it to send information even when there is no crash ( for instance if your code is in a strange state, but you manage to catch the problem, and put it back in a stable state. You may still be interested by what bring this strange state in the first place ).
* You can receive a mail each time the google doc has changed ( so each time a new bug arrived ), or in a daily digest form (that's what I'm using ).
* Lastly, and this is something I didn't have time to investigate, but I'm sure is _really_ powerful, you can use all the power of Google doc to use the information and present it in any useful way you want.

I really think the last point is very important !
If you have your own web server solution, you can get the crash data and insert them in a database. But then you still need some tools ( ie some developments ) to interpret the data.
Here, Google doc can really help you. For instance, creating graphics is a easy task.
As I said, I didn't take time to investigate, but I think it would be really easy to have :
* A graph with the number of daily bugs
* A graph with the number of daily bugs for each different versions
* A top of the most seens bug in the last X days.
* A link between the crashes and the phone model

If you find some interesting way to use google Doc to present the crash information, please inform the community !!

Are there any cons ?
Not really.
-You obvioulsy need the internet permission to use it.
-With the new license server introduced by google to fight agains piracy, it is highly recommanded to obfuscate your code. Obfuscated call stacks will be hard to understand in the google doc !
- it won't catch Application Not Responding issues.

And that's all I can see...
To be honest, if you can leave with the internet permission, I just see no reason not to use it.

Here is once again the link to the google code project.
Make a better code, use ACRA !!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spy My Apps : an application for developers to improve the Android Market

Hi all,

The Android market developer page is nice, but I always feel like some important tools were missing !

I wanted in peculiar to have some graphs with the download, or the ratings of your application, so I can see whether things were getting better. Seing what web tools google can do like analytics, or adsense, it's strange so it is not (already) in the developer page !
For a long time, I also wanted to have the comments : it was really strange that you couldn't read the comments on your own application ! Google finally fixed that and comments are now included in the developer page !

So I developed my owned application to create these graphs : Spy My Apps !

* Launch the application everyday, log in and get the data. It really launch the developer web page, and get the data from it.
* Then you can see the graph of
  => your downloads and active downloads
  => The application rating
  => The daily rating mean
* You can also have the comments on your applications

Some screens :

 The graphs :

I used this application for several months now  (or at least was was to be this application ), and it's really nice to see all this graphs days after days...

Note : the application is not completely finished !
In particular, the error dealing is not done, so it should be easy to have it crash.
But still, it's very useful !

Here the QR :

Sunday, October 3, 2010

50 000 Downloads reached !!!

Youpee !!!

'Word Prospector' has reached this week 50 000 donwloads !

The first version of the game was released in April 2009, and it's been a long way from the first version to this one !

The first version was done entirely on the emulator ( no real phone existed in France at this time ), and was far from perfect. The controls were not easy, its was way bigger than it should have been, and there were bugs.
So the first rating were quite low...

I constantly improved the version, and now the rating are quite good  ( a 3.84 mean rating, still suffering from the start low ratings ! ), so improving a version really has an effect on the ratings and on the downloads !!

Now the next step will be 250 000 downloads ? It looks a little big at this point, but who knows ?