Problems with Reader Widgets: Use Log Collector

One of things that came up whilst chatting with other devs at the Android Dev Lab was the anonymous and terse nature of user comments in the Android Market. Once a user has posted the developer can’t reply because there isn’t functionality to leave comments under an email address. Negative comments often lack detail making troubleshooting bugs impossible. So if anyone runs into problems with my Reader Widgets please use Log Collector just after the problem occurs to send the Android debug log to markst3v3ns at The log won’t contain any private information so it’s safe to send. Thanks.


Reader Widget Pro 2.0 is out

Reader Widget Pro 2.0 has just been uploaded to the Market. The big change is webviews and menus. Here’s the full change log:

  • Option to launch webview straight from each widget. This loads the Android Google Reader site in a large pop-up window with no login needed. If there is no network connection it falls back to the tag list.
  • Option to launch Greed straight from the widget (if it’s installed).
  • Pressing menu in webview, headline list or tag list windows brings up a menu to update the widget, launch Greed (if it’s installed) or change settings. The buttons in the tag list have been moved to this menu, freeing up space.
  • No loading dialogue for tag list window.
  • Bug fix: launching headline list when phone in landscape orientation caused a force close
  • Bug fix: time text and icons in large widget cut off slightly on QVGA phones (e.g. HTC Tattoo).

Here’s what the webview looks like:


I’ve got some big ideas for Reader Widget Small in the pipeline. I have also been experimenting with the text-to-speech API in Android 1.6/2.0 so watch this space.


Is Google Ditching Gears?

Google Gears has been conspicuous by its absence in two places recently. The Droid no longer has Google Gears geolocation built into its browser. Instead it uses HTML5. In the recent Chrome OS announcement it was also HTML5 all the way. I think perhaps Google was using Gears as a stop gap until HTML5 came on stream. Now its supported by the Firefox 3.5, iPhone 3.x, Palm Pre and Android 2.0 there’s not much reason to keep Gears going. This is probably a Good Thing as now developers can being to concentrate on using one geolocation implementation.
Update 1st Dec: Looks like I’m not the only one who has noticed this: Gizmodo: Is Google Gears Dead?


Motorola Droid/Milestone thoughts

I liked the Droid. It has a really solid, heavy feel to it. Android 2.0 certainly looks better than previous stock versions and the screen is gorgeous. Most operations were snappy but for some reason swiping from home screen to home screen was a bit laggy. The physical keyboard is not as good as the G1’s in my opinion. It feels odd with no spacing between the keys and no offset between the rows. The virtual one is not as good as the Hero’s in my opinion despite being larger and faster. Hopefully somebody will port HTC’s to it, although that could be difficult because of the higher screen resolution. I didn’t like the capacitive home, menu and back buttons on the front and found myself missing the trackball. There’s the D-pad to the right of the physical keyboard but no equivalent when the phone is shut. The camera felt much better than the Hero’s although I didn’t get much time with it. The examples we got to play with were from the US so no multitouch and they only worked on Wifi.

Overall it is probably the best Android phone to date but I’ll be sticking with my Hero for now. I’ll wait for Sony Ericsson’s X10 or HTC’s rumoured Dragon/Passion, to see how they turn out. Although the Acer Liquid looks interesting.

The other phones I got to play with were not as exciting as the Droid. The LG Eve was probably the worst as the replacement interface was just plain bad. The app drawer tab was replaced with four icons and it was hard to tell their functions. One launched the app drawer but the apps were categorized which actually made them more difficult to find! The resistive screen was horrible too.
The HTC Tattoo wasn’t too bad. It’s screen is resistive but it only required a little pressure compared with the Eve and didn’t feel as squishy. The virtual keyboard was actually quite useable. It’s the smallest Android phone to date as far as I know and it’s cheap so it might entice many more people to the platform. Quite how HTC managed to squeeze it’s Sense UI onto such a small screen and still make it look pretty is beyond me!
I didn’t get any time with the Samsung Behold II but impressions from the other devs were not good. Samsung’s TouchWiz UI did not go down favourably.


Back from Android Developer Lab

I had a good day at the Android Developer Lab. It was pretty freeform with a short presentation, lunch and then diving right into device testing. We got our hands on:

  • Motorola Droid
  • HTC Tattoo
  • LG Eve
  • Samsung Behold II

I concentrated on the Tattoo and Droid because of their non-standard screen resolutions. The Reader Widgets worked with only minor alignment issues on the large widget on the Tattoo. A fix is on its way.


Android Developer Lab London 19th Nov

I applied to go to the first Android Developer Lab in London but that filled up too quickly. They’re putting on a second one on Thursday this week which I am going to. If anyone also attending wants to say hello, I’ll be carrying a blue backpack and answering to the code word ‘Ubik’. Or the name Mark. Looking forward to getting my hands on some shiny new Android 2.0 hardware and meeting some fellow devs.


Minor Reader Widget updates

I have just uploaded new versions of the Reader Widgets to the market. There are only minor updates:

Reader Widget Small V1.8:

  • Bug fix: Landscape orientation time text and icon getting cut off
  • Explicitly stated supported screen sizes in manifest

Reader Widget Pro V1.81:

  • Bug fix: database code tidied up. There was an issue when docking the Motorola Droid causing a force close. This should be resolved now.
  • Bug fix: Small widget landscape orientation
  • Bug fix: Large widget landscape orientation time text and icons getting cut off
  • Bug fix: Large widget landscape orientation gap on the right on new large screen devices like the Droid

Reader Widget updates for large screens

I have just uploaded updates to both Reader Widget Small and Reader Widget Pro. Both have a tweaked layout which is tidier and supports large screens like the one in the new Motorola Droid. Here are the full change logs:

Reader Widget Small V1.7:

  • New layout using 9 patch PNG file
  • Built with Android 1.6 SDK
  • Supports larger screens e.g. WVGA 800×480
  • PNG files run through optipng to save space
  • zipaligned APK file to improve performance

Reader Widget Pro V1.8:

  • New layout using 9 patch PNG file. This saves space compared to the old separate backgrounds for each widget size.
  • Built with Android 1.6 SDK
  • Supports larger screens e.g. WVGA 800×480

This week in HTC Hero fanboyism

I moved house last week which of course left me with no broadband for a few days. It just got connected today but luckily I could use my HTC Hero’s built in USB tethering to keep me going. I know there’s Android Wi-fi tethering available too but that eats the battery for fun and only works if you have root. It might sound like I sing the Hero’s praises a lot but little things like this and being able to switch off the mobile data connection lift it above standard Android phones (if there is such a thing anymore).