All items about Android


Apps without Programming

The new App Inventor takes Google’s “do what you like with your gadgets” approach one step further, by enabling anyone – even those who have never programmed before – to create their own apps with drag and drop ease.

App Inventor is a simple user interface for creating applications for the Android mobile platform, working in a similar way to Visual Basic – you drag buttons onto your screen and attach actions to them.

It’s interesting because in an age where there is fierce debate over whether you have the right to reprogram your device and customize it for your own use (consider Apple’s iOS vs Google’s Android), this presents a third option – by equipping ordinary people to develop exactly the functionality they need, without having to go outside the bounds of a controlled environment. Might we see Apple offer something similar for iPhones soon?

It’s also interesting to consider that if MySpace, Facebook and blogs took the idea of people creating websites and web content into the mainstream, what could happen if the capability to create software became equally mainstream? It would be sure to spark a total revolution in the way we think about computers…

Read more at CNET.


Is Zynga’s break with Facebook a sign that software developers, feeling trapped by the platforms on which they grew, want to down the garden wall?

The biggest app maker on Facebook may want to break up with the social network site. Flash and Apple have divorced, citing irreconcilable differences. We’re moving past the days of net neutrality, into those of app neutrality. Are the garden walls of social networks and mobile devices ready to crumble, just as rigidly controlled online services gave way to the Web fifteen years ago?

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rogersfail-wIn an effort to force users of its HTC Dream to do a software update that fixes a 911 call bug, Rogers has disconnected Internet from all its Android customers. Here’s the full text I just received on my phone:

Rogers/Fido Safety Message: URGENT Reminder 911 Calls HTC Dream software update: Mandatory software update is now available to help ensure 911 calls are completed from your phone. Please go immediately to on your PC to download.

In order to help ensure 911 calls are completed internet access was temporarily disabled on your phone at 01/24/10 6:00AM EST. To reactivate internet service, please complete your software update immediately. Upon completion, internet access will be re enabled within 24 hours.

For users of Macintosh and Windows 7, please call 1- 888-764-3771(1-888-ROGERS1) for update instructions.

We apologize for the inconvenience but we prioritize customer safety above all.

Read more »


There’s such a thing as TOO open

From the Register, by way of Broadsight, it seems that Google has patched an issue with Android that interpreted text you type as commands. So you can type “reboot” and reboot the phone.

Really? Really?

I mean, I’ve heard Android is supposed to be an open platform. But if the tale is true — and there isn’t some kind of double-backflip configuration knob you have to fiddle with to make this work — it’s a big deal.

Consumer electronics don’t like to be open. Openness breeds complexity. The iPhone is criticized for being closed, but it’s usable (despite this post to the contrary) in part because it’s locked down. The button-bar iPhone resembles nothing so much as the old Compuserve menu. It took us years to move from consumer adoption of buttons to comfort with the open web.

If you let humans play with the guts of things, they tend to break in new and creative ways. Social engineering is the new hacking; now that many operating systems are patched and scanned, hackers exploit human weaknesses to send drive-by malware links to Facebook users. (Good thing the bad guys are after Warcraft passwords, then.)

But back to Android. Apple locks it down; Google opens it up. One approach delivers a seamless experience, the other so much flexibility you can hurt yourself. Apple assumes people will use its devices on a busy New York subway, jostling for handholds and bouncing in purses. Google assumes people will hack together scripts and plug-ins, finding new ways to use tag clouds and APIs. Apple partners with monopoly-scale carriers; Google lobbies for free spectrum.

The two philosophies couldn’t be more different. It’ll be fascinating to see whether integration trumps flexibility, or vice-versa.

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