[Update: The patches have been merged into the AOSP master branch, so as of the 22nd of December AOSP master should compile on OS X 10.7 with Xcode 4 straight from checkout] My company has worked on some Android firmware projects in the past, but, due to the closed source nature of Honeycomb, that work pretty much dried up. Recently though Google released Android 4.0 to the masses and we’ve had a few enquiries about firmware work again, so I thought I’d see what the current state of building Android was for our default machine configuration.
If been playing with the Xbox360 and its voice control using the Kinect and it’s sparked an idea in my head which I thought I’d post here for comments; What would people think if there was a setting in Android which took you straight into a voice control screen from an unlock? This would allow users to do things like unlock their device with facial recognition then speak to their phone to get it to do things like dialling home, sending texts, emailing, etc.
Yesterday Jean-Baptiste Queru announced that Android 4.0.3 had been open sourced via the Android Open Source Project, which is bigger news than you might think. Versions before 4.0.3 were focused on the Galaxy Nexus and its hardware. 4.0.3 is a multi-device release which supports the Nexus S, Xoom, and should be used as the basis for other ports. So if you see an Ice Cream Sandwich / Android 4.0 device you should look at the specific version it’s running, if it’s not a Galaxy Nexus and it’s running something before 4.
Over the course of a week I compared the Lumia 800, iPhone, and Galaxy Nexus. The following are my opinions of each which I hope will be useful to other people thinking about buying a new smartphone; Size I’m going to say straight off that the Galaxy Nexus is too big to become my daily ‘phone. I thought it would be when the specs started floating around, and, having had it a while now and travelled a bit with it, I still think it’s true.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m impressed with the iPhone. Given the tests I’ve been doing over the last week I can see why it is an aspirational device. Apps have a consistent feel and are wide ranging, the device is easily portable, it has a pretty decent camera, and it just comes together in a pretty simple to use package. I’m also pleasantly surprised by Lumia. It falls short in terms of the variety of apps available, but Windows Phone 7 is only a year or so away from it’s public launch, so that’s to be expected.
I’d be interested to hear peoples thoughts on going to IO next year. Last year was the first year I went and, although it was a fantastic experience, I’m in two minds about going this year. Basically my thinking is; Sessions; Useful but streamed so I could see them anyway People; Largely thought provoking, but I could meet most of them at more local events. Giveaways; They have monetary value, but aren’t enough of a reason for me to go (I hardly use the giveaways from IO2011).
I know some of the people who follow me work for companies who make/brand/sell Android devices, so I’m going to put this out there and hope it’s useful to them. There are a number of developers (me included) who see the Nexus One as the pinnacle of current Android devices. It’s size, solid construction, and reliability made it a device we could carry knowing that it’d work when we need it.
Some tips about the ICS emulator; Don’t expect it to run well on any machine with less than 3GB of RAM. It can be done, but don’t rely on it :). There is a list of know issues in the emulator at http://tools.android.com/knownissues (from @ediTLJ on twitter) Increase the default RAM for your AVDs to 1024MB (yup, 1GB) If the emulator has crashed try deleting the AVD you used.
We all know social networking is only as useful as the people you socialise with. We all know that every now and again you’ll come across someone either on the Internet or in real life whose behaviour makes you want to steer clear of them. Fortunately most social network owners also know this and so they provide facilities to stop those people becoming a serious problem to you. And today I had the first situation where I felt it made sense to use that feature on Google+.
Yesterday I went to the Microsoft/Nokia Windows Phone 7 development event so I could get a feel for the platform from a developer perspective, and I came away a lot less positive about WinPhone 7. There were two speakers who presented the 4 or 5 sessions, neither was from Microsoft or Nokia, and both made glaring mistakes, one to the extent they had to start a session by apologising for what they’d said in a previous session because it was wrong (it was about how WinPhone7 manages application instances to service requests to start the same application from different live tiles, so it wasn’t exactly an obscure feature).