Phandroid » Interviews http://phandroid.com Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:03:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Flappy Bird dev says the game’s addictive qualities motivated its removal, but is that the whole story? http://phandroid.com/2014/02/11/flappy-bird-developer-interview-addiction/ http://phandroid.com/2014/02/11/flappy-bird-developer-interview-addiction/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 20:47:33 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=133799 Flappy Bird Developer Dong Nguyen

It was over the weekend that we told you guys about Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen’s sudden decision to remove his smash hit game from all app stores. In fact, there were those that didn’t think he’d do it, calling the threat of removal a low-cost marketing stunt from a developer with an insatiable lust for additional downloads.

Instead there seemed to be a cloud looming over the game developer’s head, tweeting messages like, “I cannot take this anymore.” Can’t do what exactly? You’d think the $50,000 a day Nguyen was making purely from Flappy Birds in-app ad revenue, his biggest stresses would be whether he wanted silver, or 4k gold plated rims on his new Mercedes.

This lead many to wonder if the game’s heavy use of  Super Mario inspired visuals sparked a C&D from Nintendo, but Nguyen addressed this in followup tweets mentioning that legal threats had nothing to do with the take down. So what gives? What could have possibly lead to the greatest indie success story since Angry Birds to suddenly crash and burn? According to Nguyen: addiction.

Flappy Birds Anonymous

In a rare interview with Forbes, Nguyen attributes Flappy Bird’s sheer addictive qualities as motivation for the take down. He created a monster, and it was up to him to right his wrongs. While this may sound downright bizarre to many of us in the western world, video game addiction is taken very serious in Asian countries. It’s so serious that government officials in South Korea have begun regulating video game use, blocking gamers younger than 18 years old from playing between midnight and 8am.

When it comes to Nguyen’s other titles still available for download, he mentions that if he felt people were becoming addicted, he’d remove those as well. Such empathy.

Pressure from the outside?

But aside from weighing heavy on Nguyen’s conscience, it is possible other factors may involved? Remember, Ngyuen’s DotGears game studio is located in Vietnam, where communists still run the government, despite having a capitalist-style economy. Now, we don’t want to accuse anyone of fowl play, but when Nguyen is tweeting messages that he can’t sleep, the game has ruined his “simple life,” and “my life has not been as comfortable as I was before,” — it begins to sound like outside sources may have been involved.

It’s worth noting that right before the Forbes interview took place — where cameras and picture taking were strictly prohibited — Nguyen, was paid a visit by Vietnam’s deputy prime minister Vu Duc Dam, delaying the interview by several hours. Forbes notes that Nguyen appeared “stressed” during their interview. Once again, another odd piece in the puzzle that has been Flappy Bird.

RIP Flappy Bird

It’s possible we’ll likely never know the true story behind the meteoric rise (and subsequent) fall of Flappy Bird, but we’ll always remember the pain, love, and joy it brought to our Androids. The time for mourning is over — I think it’s time we finally move on.

Flappy Birds gif

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2014/02/11/flappy-bird-developer-interview-addiction/feed/ 43 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/flappy-bird-150x150.jpg
Project Ara close to prototype status, and Motorola CEO suggests it could be sold through Moto Maker http://phandroid.com/2013/12/09/project-ara-prototype-moto-maker/ http://phandroid.com/2013/12/09/project-ara-prototype-moto-maker/#comments Mon, 09 Dec 2013 14:43:55 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=130535 When we first heard of Motorola’s Project Ara, a modular phone concept that would seemingly allow folks to upgrade different components of their phone independently of others, we were a little skeptical. It isn’t that we thought the idea wasn’t possible — technology proves that anything is possible as each year passes us by — but we didn’t wholly believe that we were close to seeing anything practical.

Thankfully, Dennis Woodside assures us that isn’t the case. In a Hangout session that the CEO did with prominent tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee, Woodside revealed that the team is close to producing its first prototype. The general public obviously won’t be able to get their hands on it, but a prototype means that we’d be one step closer to seeing this exciting idea become reality.

Of course, a prototype alone is no guarantee that the team is close to offering a consumer product, but what will happen when that time eventually comes? Woodside suggests Moto Maker could be the perfect destination for getting your phone made the way you want in more areas than design alone:

Ara is much further out, but you can see how those two things tie together and how, as we introduce new materials into Moto Maker, we’re going to pursue that theme across our product line going forward.

Imagine being able to craft your own smartphone. Perhaps the camera isn’t that important to you, so you opt for a cheaper 5 megapixel shooter instead of tricking it out with a 13 megapixel beast. And maybe that 32GB of storage isn’t enough, so you get a 64GB module that can also be expanded using a microSD card slot. And, well, who won’t want to spring for the most RAM and most powerful chipset they can get?

motorola-project-ara-featured-LARGE-2

Dreaming aside, it’s a future that could soon be very real, and it’ll be extremely exciting to see what Motorola ends up coming with after the exhausting research and development process eventually brings us something tangible. Watch the full Hangout above.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2013/12/09/project-ara-prototype-moto-maker/feed/ 19 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/motorola-project-ara-featured-LARGE-2-150x150.png
Google says Nexus program will continue, excited about Samsung’s success as much as Motorola’s potential http://phandroid.com/2013/05/30/sundar-pichai-d-interview/ http://phandroid.com/2013/05/30/sundar-pichai-d-interview/#comments Thu, 30 May 2013 17:39:32 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=121352 The big bombshell that most of you cared about was already dropped in Walt Mossberg’s onstage interview of Android chief Sundar Pichai at D: All Things Digital. There was a lot more talking to be done, though, and some interesting tidbits have come from the interview since then. Speaking on the Nexus program, Pichai assured us that we wouldn’t have to worry about that ending anytime soon.

He says the Nexus program has always been about wanting to shape the ecosystem. To Google’s credit, that was the line from day one and that will continue to be the focus throughout this endeavor (however long it may last).

sundar pichai atd

 

Indeed, Nexus devices have historically done their part in paving the way for bigger and better devices. Sales of Nexus handsets and tablets might not always be the greatest and the phones might not always be advertised like a high profile launch from Samsung or Apple, but they’re quite important to the Android world and Google realizes that.

We’re not sure what to expect from here on out aside from the obvious assumption that the Moto X will be billed as a Nexus Experience device, but we remain excited for the future of the Nexus program and can’t wait to see what else Google and friends have up their sleeves.

On a semi-related note, Pichai was asked about Samsung’s dominance in the world of Android. It’s true — Sammy has a very mean death grip on the market and it’s not willing to let go very easily. And it’s not just Android Samsung is dominating: the company is beginning to outrun even Apple, and they continue to be monumental in all facets of mobile. So is this an undesirable situation for Google?

According to Pichai, it isn’t. He was willing to pass a lot of credit for Android’s success over to Samsung despite Google-owned Motorola’s own important efforts in helping the platform skyrocket starting with the original DROID. Such credit is definitely warranted — Android grew very fast before Samsung, but many would argue that it was Samsung who made the OS mainstream and the reason why it’s kicking everyone in the teeth as hard as it is today.

sundar pichai

We’re sure Google doesn’t want Samsung to run everyone else out of business, but the company wasn’t shy about letting folks know that they were excited for the South Korean company’s success with Android. Of course, the company they own haven’t been doing too well in this space as of late, but Google believes Motorola is making some fantastic products (Moto X) and putting key emphasis on long-term goals (shifting manufacturing back to the United States).

They feel all those things will help Motorola pull through in the long run. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you’re backed by the biggest technology company there is. Having that sort of safety net will allow Motorola to take a lot of much-needed risks to get back into the ring and go toe-to-toe with the likes of Samsung. Full video interview below.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2013/05/30/sundar-pichai-d-interview/feed/ 22 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/sundar-pichai-atd-150x150.jpg
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop might pee pants, launch Android phone http://phandroid.com/2013/01/07/nokia-ceo-stephen-elop-might-pee-pants-launch-android-phone/ http://phandroid.com/2013/01/07/nokia-ceo-stephen-elop-might-pee-pants-launch-android-phone/#comments Mon, 07 Jan 2013 21:25:51 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=114706 A couple years ago, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said they wouldn’t use Android because it was like being a Finnish boy that pees in his pants to stay warm throughout the winter. The latest rumors suggest the company might do exactly that and now further speculation is being made based on a comment Elop made himself that apparently leave the Android door open (and zipper down?).

“In the current ecosystem wars we are using Windows Phone as our weapon. But we are always thinking about what’s coming next, what will be the role of HTML 5, Android… Today we are committed and satisfied with Microsoft, but anything is possible.”

It was one of our 12 predictions for Android in 2013: Nokia ends Microsoft partnership and embraces Android. Sure it sounded like a long shot — what with Nokia CEO Stephen Elop’s harsh words about the Android platform. But it seems lackluster sales and a not-so-bright future could signal the end of their exclusivity agreement with Microsoft.

Nokia’s sword is definitely getting duller and turning to Android may be their last hope at giving the company their edge back. The Nokia 920 running stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is a mighty fine proposition and Android could always use another player entering the market. It’s no fun having Samsung dominate the industry.

Naysayers will point to the comment and say a Nokia Android phone is hogwash, claiming a high profile company exec needs to maintain neutrality to some degree; playing it safe is a classic PR move. That luxury would normally be granted, but when you’ve likened an operating system to pants peeing, and then later to decry said pants peeing platform, you’ve got to wonder if that Microsoft Gerber 8 did something to baby Nokia’s belly.

If Stephen Elop and Nokia do enter the Android space, I’ll welcome them with open arms. After all, I am a huge Billy Madison fan:

And if peeing in your pants is cool… I hope to consider Nokia as Miles Davis.

[via WinSource]

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2013/01/07/nokia-ceo-stephen-elop-might-pee-pants-launch-android-phone/feed/ 80 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Stephen_Elop_Nokia-150x150.jpg
AdBlock founder says the goal is to promote better online advertising for all http://phandroid.com/2012/11/29/adblock-plus-founder-interview/ http://phandroid.com/2012/11/29/adblock-plus-founder-interview/#comments Fri, 30 Nov 2012 00:03:08 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=113238 Yesterday we reported exciting news that AdBlock Plus is available for mobile devices running Android. Tablet, smartphone or anything in between, you can bust all those website ads that you don’t want to see. The great thing is that the app is fairly browser agnostic, so you won’t need separate plugins for each browser (a godsend considering not all browsers support plugins to begin with).

There are still some exceptions to take heed to, though, and we were curious to know why such limitations were placed on an otherwise straightforward experience. Speaking with AdBlock’s Till Faida, we learned that Android 3.0+ devices had to be rooted to use automatic blocking because of limitations in Android beyond their control.

If they had a choice in the matter they’d give everyone the easiest and quickest route possible toward an ad-free device, but some users will have to do some minor proxy work on their side if they find themselves on the less fortunate side of the street. More information about how to set AdBlock Plus up on your particular configuration can be had upon downloading the app.

Blocking ads is not about hurting the bottom line…

But the more interesting bits of this conversation came when we asked Faida what the company’s goals were. On the outside looking in there doesn’t appear to be many revenue generating opportunities for AdBlock Plus. For starters, it’s completely free and open-source, and they don’t ask their users to pay anything to use it. There’s no “premium” unlock, and not even as much as a donation link on its site: it’s just free.

So what do they want out of all this? Well, believe it or not, they just want to help people. First on their list are users — they want to help the everyday, average Joe block all the ads in existence if that’s what they truly want.

It’s even deeper than that, though. The AdBlock Plus team wants to help the web as a whole. They’re on the side of content publishers just as much as they are users. It may seem strange and counter-effective to take this stance with an app that could kill most sites’ source of income, but it really does make sense when it’s broken down.

Faida says they want content providers to be able to make money off of their work. Ads help provide services and content at no out-of-pocket cost to users. Us Android users know all too well how Google’s ad-driven business allows them to provide tons of great services for no initial cost to anyone who wants to use them. Still, much of the online advertising industry is broken and ad providers and publishers tend to go overboard.

…but rather helping users and publishers alike

Simply put, they want to kill obtrusive ads. Users can’t really “vote with their wallets” in a traditional sense for free services, so blocking ads on sites which abused advertisement is the only effective voice they have outside of those feedback forms tucked away inside obscure, hidden links (which many sites probably won’t pay attention to in the first place).

It’s one of the many reasons why AdBlock started “Acceptable Ads,” a program that allows them to outline which ads users are more likely to consider “acceptable.” A certain list of criteria is still being worked out, but so far it’s believed that static, text-only ads with sensible placement (ie, not breaking up the main text of an article or making users scroll unnecessarily to get to the page’s main content) fit the bill most accurately.

With this, they’ve started a partnership program with ad publishers who want to ensure their sites have “acceptable ads.” Sites that sign up will be reviewed by the AdBlock team, and if they maintain their status AdBlock will whitelist the site in a list they maintain. Users can enable this list if they want to applaud and encourage those who approach online advertising with sense, style and class. AdBlock monitors the sites in this list regularly, and should they find one of their partners violating the “acceptable ads” movement they will be removed with no hesitation — total win, I’d say.

This feature isn’t yet available on Android, but we’re told that it will be one of the main new features they’re looking to bring in future upgrades. A general user-maintained whitelist setting wouldn’t go unappreciated, either.

Are publishers hurt by blocked ads?

Interestingly enough, though, Faida believes content providers’ pockets aren’t hurt by those who wish to block their ads, stating “the real loss is happening because many websites are sticking to the old approach of annoying their visitors with intrusive ads instead of offering real value to them which would be a much more profitable approach in the long run.”

The idea is that a user doesn’t care to click on the ads anyway, so that revenue was never going to be generated in the first place. You could argue that other revenue models, such as CPM, will be affected, but considering how many variables there are to figuring these numbers out in the first place it’s difficult to know what might really be happening. Long-term frustration could set in, as well, as intrusive ads could drive a user away from your site for good.

Those are all very good points, but we must maintain a degree of objectivity here. After speaking with AdBlock’s co-founder, though, it’s clear to us that their motives and ambitions are as genuine as anyone’s, and we don’t mind supporting a better future for online advertising one bit. Try AdBlock Plus for Android in the Google Play Store.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/11/29/adblock-plus-founder-interview/feed/ 20 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/adblock-plus-150x150.png
10 Burning Questions with Michael from Cloud.TV, developer of HD Widgets http://phandroid.com/2012/06/29/10-burning-questions-with-michael-from-cloud-tv-developer-of-hd-widgets/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/29/10-burning-questions-with-michael-from-cloud-tv-developer-of-hd-widgets/#comments Fri, 29 Jun 2012 14:00:12 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=99602 Those that believe an idea can not be re-invented need to see Cloud.TV’s work. With HD Widgets, this developer was able to push aside well-established competitors like Fancy Widgets and Beautiful Widgets to become one of the most popular and acclaimed Android apps in its category.

This was accomplished by mixing variety, aesthetics, customization and flexibility. HD Widgets offers a flurry of clock, weather and settings widgets in different sizes, colors and looks. It is definitely one of those must-see applications for every Android user. We could not pass up the chance to sit with one of the Cloud.TV developers with our 10 Burning Questions, so let’s dive in!

Phandroid: How did you get started with Android Development?

Michael: We started because we wanted to build a music player and android was the only viable platform to build a 3rd party music player.

Phandroid: What phone do you personally use?

Michael: I use HTC One X and Radley uses a Samsung Galaxy S3 (both white). We change every few months though to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Phandroid: What was your biggest challenge in developing HD Widgets and Cloudskipper?

Michael: The biggest challenge developing HD Widgets and Cloudskipper is fragmentation. Thousands of different devices with vastly different specs, different android versions, custom ui layers, and screen sizes from tiny mdpi screens to 10″ tablets is not easy,. HD Widgets has the additional challenge of dealing with making things look great on all the different manufacturer created and 3rd party launchers (see http://cloud.tv/blog/2012/why-do-my-widgets-look-so/). After the HD Widgets 3.0 launch it took us about 2 weeks to get a handle on most of the fragmentation issues.

Cloudskipper has it’s own challenges. Dealing with all the different media types and the weirdness of android media management sucks up a lot of time.

Phandroid: Cloud.tv is very well known for its great support team. How did you manage to get such reputation? Do you spend much of your time responding to your users’ e-mails?

Michael: User feedback is integral in making our products what they are. We read and try to respond to all feedback ourselves. Lately, we’ve had a large influx in email because of the HDW3 release. We get about 100 emails a day. It takes us a few hours to get through them.

Phandroid: Monetization – In terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential?

Michael: The advice I would give to those looking to make money on Android is to understand what users pay for on Android. Beyond games, most of the top paid apps take advantage of features unique to android or offer a large amount of customization (or both in our case). The paid market is full of early adopters. We’re seeing 45% ICS adoption of HD Widgets, while the market average is 7%. Take advantage of that.

Phandroid: What do you want to see in future versions of Android?

Michael: ICS was a huge improvement, but I still think Android could use more polish. There are certain details like a decent dialer that iOS users take for granted, but Google and the manufacturers still haven’t figured out how to get right.

Phandroid: Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?

Michael: Just Android ATM.

Phandroid: If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?

Michael: Listen to your users.

Phandroid: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

Michael: I got a D in handwriting when I was in 3rd grade.

Phandroid: On your sidebar, do you use weather or power control toggles? ;)

Michael: Both! We both have a dozen device in front of us with various configurations =)

We know you guys love all these awesome widgets, so please support Cloud.TV by checking out its apps in the Google Play Store. These are very good applications, so you might end up being one of the many fans. HD Widgets continues to be my go-to widget app, so we definitely recommend it.

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us and start your message with “Developer Appreciation Month”.

Don’t miss your chance to win! Sign up for our Developer Newsletter: it’s required to win most of our contests and it’ll feature some huge announcements that you won’t want to miss.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/29/10-burning-questions-with-michael-from-cloud-tv-developer-of-hd-widgets/feed/ 1 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/DSC00679-150x150.jpg
10 Burning Questions with Kevin from TeslaCoil, developer of Nova Launcher and WidgetLocker http://phandroid.com/2012/06/28/10-burning-questions-with-kevin-from-teslacoil-developer-of-nova-launcher-and-widgetlocker/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/28/10-burning-questions-with-kevin-from-teslacoil-developer-of-nova-launcher-and-widgetlocker/#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2012 14:00:35 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=99590
We have to give it to developers like TeslaCoil, for they have molded (and allowed us to mold) Android. This developer focuses on Android customizing, allowing us to make android what we want it to be, and make it do what we want it to do. After creating highly-popular applications and tools like Nova Launcher and WidgetLocker, TeslaCoil has gained its respect in the Android community, as well as the tech industry.

But behind all the codes that make our devices behave like they do, there is always a developer (or team) that we have much to learn from. One has to wonder how a developer is and how that reflects in his work. We can see that just like his apps, Kevin is a very strong, goal-oriented individual with an open mind. Without further ado, let’s jump into the interview and see what TeslaCoil is all about!

Phandroid: How did you get started with Android Development?

Kevin: I needed a project and mobile is the really exciting field right now. I debated between Android and iPhone. Android’s advantage was openness while iPhone’s advantage was my wife (then fiancée) using one and potentially being a loyal user of any app I made. Perhaps for the best, her iPhone was stolen out of her pocket, while I was standing next to her. We didn’t even notice until someone ran up to us with the license plate of the taxi that drove off with the thief, but it was too late. Though upsetting at the time, it meant I went with Android which is the right place for me and my wife now uses an SGS2, with WidgetLocker and Nova Launcher, and loves it.

Phandroid: What phone do you personally use?

Kevin: I switch phones pretty frequently. I prefer unlocked GSM devices as even if I’m not using them personally I can easily move a SIM to test phone calls or SMS. That said my primary device lately has been a Galaxy Nexus running AOKP. My personal preference is against vendor skins (especially on ICS). For development/testing reasons I prefer devices to be stock-rooted rather than running a full custom rom. I probably wouldn’t be running AOKP on my GN if I didn’t have another running stock.

Phandroid: What was your biggest challenge in developing your apps?

Kevin: Both WidgetLocker and Nova Launcher have had lots of challenges and I’ve grown a lot working on them.

On the technical side, WidgetLocker makes use of many things not guaranteed by the Android SDK, meaning that it’s hit extra hard by fragmentation (and I accept that responsibility by choosing to go outside the SDK). Part of the issue can just be identifying the problem, users will email me but it’s not always clear it’s related to a certain device or type of device. Once it’s identified and I can reproduce then it’s not just a matter of working around it, but also potentially needing to accurately detect if a system is affected. Model numbers are a poor indicator as often the same bug effects multiple models and doesn’t effect custom AOSP roms on such devices.

On the business side, running a business is challenging! Time management is especially hard. I’m self motivated and love programming, so I find time to write code, but there’s a lot more than code that goes into apps. I need to prioritize features and fixes for a release date. Work with translators. Network with blog sites like Phandroid :). Work with other developers, companies or freelancers. There’s a lot of user email to get through as well. I’ve debating hiring another developer but managing another person is a big challenge as well.

Phandroid: Nova Launcher and Widget Locker are some of the most popular Android apps in their categories. We are witnesses of their birth and evolution, and can’t wait to see what you have prepared for the future. Can you give us any hints or news of what is to come from TeslaCoil in the future, whether it be related to current apps or any new/upcoming projects?

Kevin: I don’t have anything to announce at this time. There’s a lot I want to do with both WidgetLocker and Nova Launcher. Having both is nice as some ideas fit well for both, like more customization of widgets. But I also have some specific ideas for each I want to explore. I have plenty of ideas for new apps, one in particular that I hope to be my next app, but it could easily be a year or more before I’d have time to really work on it.

Phandroid: Monetization: In terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential?

Kevin: I’ve been very fortunate. I started making around $10/day pretty early and was thrilled. I used the money to buy more phones off craigslist. I kind of fantasized about making real money from apps and being able to quit my day job, but I figured even if it somehow happened I’d take a pay cut in exchange for the freedom. I was wrong. After getting some blog attention, WidgetLocker was making more money than my day job and I was able to quit and focus on TeslaCoil. Day to day there are ups and downs, but overall sales have steadily been increasing since then.

Personally, I use the forums heavily. I can do market research by reading what users are looking for or complaining about, then by giving those users something awesome to talk about apps can market themselves. The personalization niche is working well for me, I think because it’s small enough that I can be a big player in it, big enough that it can support development, and vocal enough to virally market the apps.

Phandroid: What do you want to see in future versions of Android?

Kevin: I’d love to see more ability to integrate with the system. The big two in my mind are proper lockscreen APIs, including for security, and proper notification APIs.

For the lockscreen, the existing APIs are inconsistent between vendor skins and don’t actually have anything to set an app as a replacement. Security can also be a big challenge to deal and impractical to modify without compromising security.

For notifications, I’d like two things. One would be the ability to replace the notification bar. The other is for apps to be able to get unread counts and notification text. Currently notification text can only be gathered by abusing the Accessibility APIs and unread counts are app dependent. Gmail supports them but the stock email app
doesn’t. Some third party apps do, but each one must be supported individually by the third party app that wishes to know the unread counts.

Phandroid: Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?

Kevin: My previous job was Perl/Web programming and at school I majored in Electrical Engineering which meant I programmed embedded systems and robots rather than Java. Currently I’m just doing Android development.

I love that Android is open source. I dig through the AOSP code, git history and commit messages all the time. Google has some really smart people working on it and I learn a lot by studying their design and methods. Some of the problems I need to solve in my apps have already been solved in AOSP that I can reuse. Sometimes it’s just interesting to follow the history of some chunk of code or find the easter eggs left behind.

Phandroid: If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?

Kevin: Use multiple devices from different manufactures. Did you know that TouchWiz devices are notably slower at creating hardware layers? Or HTC Sense 4.0 removes the overscroll glow in Theme.Holo? The emulator can help you out with a stock android version you don’t have or a different size screen, but it can’t help with performance tuning or vendor skin differences.

Phandroid: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

Kevin: People sometimes refer to me as “Tesla” which I get a kick out of because that’s the name of my cat. But he’s usually in the office with me when I’m working so it’s understandable people would confuse us.

Phandroid: You develop software that revolves around customization and we are curious to see how your device looks. Would it be possible to see some pictures or screenshots of your personal device’s homepage/lockscreen?

Kevin: It’s kind of funny, the nature of my work gets in the way of truly personalizing my device. More than anything else, I use my device for testing. I also use several devices every day so consistency is preferable. The test devices have WidgetLocker and Nova Launcher uninstalled/reinstalled frequently so they tend to be relatively close to defaults. My personal device is customized but not so heavily that switching between it and a test device will slow me down. My setup in Nova Launcher should just require three pages, but I keep a fourth, ideally blank, page for testing. Likewise with drawer tabs and folders. I like the ICS blue, but am using a red color theme (which is also nice) right now to make sure any of my recent changes don’t conflict. I use Beautiful Widgets because I like it, but also because it’s popular with my users. Though I heavily use the Gmail and Google Reader apps themselves, their widgets earn a place on my desktop more because they’re popular and scrollable. I used to keep the Calendar widget on my desktop hoping to reproduce the crash reports from it I’d seen, but I ended up figuring out the bug analytically and fixing it that way.

For WidgetLocker I used to have all the space filled, but frequently had to delete items to test something else so now I intentionally keep some empty space.

Those that have used these apps can attest to the great convenience and fun they can add to your smartphone experience. Please do support TeslaCoil by checking out its apps at the Google Play Store!

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us and start your message with “Developer Appreciation Month”.

Don’t miss your chance to win! Sign up for our Developer Newsletter: it’s required to win most of our contests and it’ll feature some huge announcements that you won’t want to miss.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/28/10-burning-questions-with-kevin-from-teslacoil-developer-of-nova-launcher-and-widgetlocker/feed/ 6 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/NOVA-Launcher-150x150.jpg
We Interview Mediocre, Developers of “Sprinkle” – New Title “Granny Smith” Announced [Video] http://phandroid.com/2012/06/20/we-interview-mediocre-developers-of-the-smash-hit-game-sprinkle-new-title-granny-smith-announced-video/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/20/we-interview-mediocre-developers-of-the-smash-hit-game-sprinkle-new-title-granny-smith-announced-video/#comments Wed, 20 Jun 2012 13:00:12 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=96792

Last year, we ran into the 2-man team that is Mediocre at E3 2011. We were able to bring you guys an early look at Sprinkle, their hit game being ported over to Android, courtesy of Nvidia. After a brief time as an Nvidia Tegra exclusive, Sprinkle was finally made available to all in the Google Play Store (then, Android Market) and the title ended up as one of our Top 20 Games of 2011. For good reason, it was a blast to play. After all this time, we’ve finally been able to sit down with the developers at Mediocre and talk about where they came from, what they’re up to, and where they’re going.

Phandroid: Tell us a little bit about Mediocre. Are you guys a big development company? Or small group of indie devs?

Mediocre: Mediocre is a small studio made up of only Henrik and myself. We use an external contractor for sound effects and music. For our new project, we brought in a contractor for level design. Otherwise, we do everything ourselves. Henrik does all the graphics and I do all the programming. The game design is something we both contribute to equally. We have known each other for a long time and used to make games together back in the old days on Amiga computers.

Phandroid: Amiga, huh? That predates my beginnings with PC’s. How did you guys get started in developing for Android?

Mediocre: I have former colleagues working for Nvidia and they basically convinced us to release Sprinkle on Android. They also supported us with hardware for the port and technical support, so overall it was a very smooth process. Sprinkle was already running on iOS, MacOS and Windows at the time, so, supporting another platform wasn’t that complicated.

Phandroid: That’s right. I remember meeting you and Henrik at the Nvidia/T-Mobile’s booth inside E3 last year. Now it’s coming together. Seeing as how you’re newest to Android, what do you love most about developing for Google’s mobile OS?

Mediocre: Android has a much more active community than iOS. Most of the activity on our Twitter and Facebook fan pages, as well as through email, comes from Android users, even though the install base is substantially bigger on iOS. We also like the openness around Android.

Phandroid: Funny. That’s something we’ve been hearing a lot of from developers. Android users certainly love to voice their opinions whether positive or negative. Sometimes we read negative feedback from devs who no longer want to support the Android platform. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in developing for Android?

Mediocre: There is a fair share of technical support, of which most is related to Google Play and not the game itself, which is rather frustrating. Also the fragmented Android Market with dozens of different app stores makes it really hard to reach out to the widest audience.

Phandroid: Given you guys develop for more than just Android, which platform do you prefer developing for the most, and why?

Mediocre: We develop for iOS and Android. We will not release on Windows Phone until they allow native C++ code running on the device. We have released on Amazon App Store recently, but Google Play is still our main marketplace for Android. It is hard for a small team to cope with all the different app stores. We rather spend our time developing new games.

Phandroid: Sounds good to us. The more games, the better. Going back to your frustrations with Android, what are some of the ways you think Google could do to make things easier on developers?

Mediocre: Our biggest issue is billing and delivery on Google Play. Almost all of our support is related to Google Play and not the game itself. On iOS for instance, Apple handles all of this, which of course is much more convenient for the developer.

Phandroid: I can totally understand a developer not wanting to deal with billing issues. Anything to make publishing apps to the Play Store, Google should be taking notes on. Okay, moving on. Give us a list of the Android devices you’ve personally owned, and what device (even if it isn’t Android) is currently in your pocket.

Mediocre: My main phone is an iPhone 4S, but I sometimes use the Samsung Galaxy S2 for traveling. Henrik uses a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. I have a bunch of tablets and other phones for testing, but I’m not using them extensively. I think the Eee Pad Transformer is quite an interesting piece of hardware, but we don’t have one ourselves yet.

Phandroid: Henrik sounds like my kinda guy. Is he single? Wait – don’t answer that. Before you leave Any future projects you’re working on that you can clue us in on?

Mediocre: We are just finishing up our second title “Granny Smith”. It is a physics-heavy platform racer where you play an old lady, racing apples thieves to collect apples through a series of stages. Our original ambition was that our next project would be smaller than Sprinkle, but it turned out much more ambitious in the end. We’ve switched to full 3D rendering, integrated a 3D physics and fracture system. The variety and details in the graphics is much greater than we first anticipated. Preview trailer of this project is below!

Phandroid: ZOMG! That looks amazing. It’s easy to see the Sprinkle-flavore design, mixed with a whole new genre. You guys really are a talented bunch. Before we leave, tell us a random/fun fact about yourself or some kind of personal or business achievement you’ve accomplished.

Mediocre: When we first started working on Sprinkle, our goal was to sell 1.000 copies and then go on a vacation. The game to date has been downloaded over four million times (that also includes the free version).

Phandroid: That’s awesome. I knew the game was a hit from the start. I have special eyes… Alright, lightning round. Favorite food or dish. Go!

Mediocre: Both Henrik and I are interested in food and every time we meet (we live in different cities) we do two things: make games and go to nice restaurants. My personal favorite would be fresh seafood in any form, but raw seafood in particular. Henrik is crazy for Galician octopus and the traditional Swedish dish known as “kropppkakor.”

Phandroid: Favorite cartoon you watched as a kid?
There was a bunch of local Swedish cartoons I enjoyed, but of the more internationally known I’d say Dr Snuggles and Donald Duck. Henrik’s favorite was the Italian “La Linea”.

That concludes our interview with one of my personal favorite developers, Mediocre. I want to wish Mediocre continued success in their future. Granny Smith is shaping up to be yet another feather in the hat for the Swedish devs. You can keep up with all the happenings at Mediocre by following them on their social networks linked below.

Mediocre Company blog
Dennis’ technical blog
Sprinkle Facebook fan page

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us and start your message with “Developer Appreciation Month”.

Don’t miss your chance to win! Sign up for our Developer Newsletter: it’s required to win most of our contests and it’ll feature some huge announcements that you won’t want to miss.

 

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/20/we-interview-mediocre-developers-of-the-smash-hit-game-sprinkle-new-title-granny-smith-announced-video/feed/ 1
10 Burning Questions with Vlad from Minimax, developers of Tagy Cloud UI http://phandroid.com/2012/06/18/10-burning-questions-with-vlad-from-minimax/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/18/10-burning-questions-with-vlad-from-minimax/#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2012 20:21:05 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=98307 We sat down with Vlad from Tagy, a new app that brings an interesting new idea for launchers and widgets to the Google Play Store. Tagy Cloud UI uses text instead of traditional buttons and icons to open apps.

It sizes the names of the apps based on how much you use them, not unlike the “popular tags” feature you’ll find on some blogs.

I’ve been using it for a few days, and while it’s not necessarily my cup of tea I do find it functional for those who’d want a widget like this.

From time traveling snail mail to the impact of ads on the user experience, Vlad takes us deeper into Tagy, what went behind its development, and what he believed Tagy would deliver to the Android software ecosystem. Take a look at this great read below.

Phandroid: How did you get started with Android Development?

Vlad: I’ve started my journey with Android mainly for two reasons. First, I wanted to take a look at mobile development, since it offers some new concepts and programming practices. Second, Java is a popular language for modeling and research, which is of my interest, so it came naturally as a language to learn next. Not to mention, the initial app idea, Tagy widgets, could only be implemented in Android, since iOS and Windows Phone don’t allow for widgets yet.

Phandroid: What phone do you personally use?

Vlad: An old Samsung Galaxy S. It’s good for testing, since it has a quite medium hardware compared to modern phones and should in theory reflect how smooth the app runs for most users. In practice this is not always the case, unfortunately, since some custom roms or running apps can affect the performance of even the fastest devices. Nevertheless, I believe that this phone shows a typical responsiveness the user will experience and I try to maximize it.

Phandroid: What was your biggest challenge in developing Tagy?

Vlad: Tagy is a widget and widgets in Android are quite limited in what they can do. There are lots of restrictions in API and you need to take a long path sometimes to achieve what you intended. Also, widgets creation is non-intuitive for many users, hence many “App not working” reviews even for the most popular widgets. So the problems here are mainly technical.

Phandroid: Why did you see the need for Tagy?

Vlad: It was a design-driven idea. One day I saw a text art sign at some place and it reminded me about how the text itself could be artistic. Words of different sizes and colors form multiple patterns, transforming when viewing the picture as a whole or as parts. All this brought me to an idea of a pure text interface. Text is universal, since it can convey the name of an app, contact, bookmark or settings item. And tag cloud visualization adds a usage statistics perspective to it, allowing text to change its size and color. At this time the limitation of a traditional 4×4 smartphone icon grid became apparent, since it requires more and more scrolling as the amount of data grows. Not the least reason for going with this idea was that there were no similar apps and it’s always interesting to make something new.

Phandroid: Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential? (We know this is a touchy subject and confidential issue, but we appreciate any details you’re willing to share)

Vlad: First of all, I didn’t want to use ads, since I believe that user experience would seriously suffer in this case. I guess that free trial and paid unlocker should provide a combination of a low entry barrier for new users and a potential for monetization. However, since Tagy launched just a week ago, there’s no data yet to make any conclusions. I’ve seen some data presented by developers about how their apps are doing financially and they vary considerably, so it’s hard to make predictions and set goals in terms of revenue.

Phandroid: What do you want to see in future versions of Android?

Vlad: In the first place, I’d like to see some improvements in Google support service. It’s practically impossible to get support, even in some urgent cases like app removal from the market. One of the Tagy widgets – Tagy Google Services, which contains links for Google apps and services, a pretty common functionality, was removed a week ago and still I can’t get any info about how should I bring it back. Technologically, I think, Google is moving pretty fast and probably with a new version of Android it’s time to move to other device types, PCs especially (fragmentation issues aside).

Phandroid: Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?

Vlad: I have another app, which runs under Windows, which shares similar philosophy with Tagy. It’s also “the only game in town” app, XLnotes, which allows to turn Microsoft Excel into a notetaking application. Although comparing these two development worlds is difficult, Android offers a fresh and often an easy to work with environment compared to desktop applications. And centralized distribution through Google Play really helps.

Phandroid: If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?

Vlad: Well, I’m a fellow Android dev myself, and all the good advices were probably already given, but I can point out Tagy as an example of market segmentation. Should a new app target every single user on the market in order to be successful? I hope no. Tagy is a love it or hate it app and there is already a decent group of people who textualized their home screens as well as people who would never agree to try it. This means finding and working with your loyal users to determine your apps look and feel and paths for improvement.

Phandroid: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you or your company.

Vlad: Not particularly about me, but about my company name in the market. I think that Minimax, an optimization and operations research term is a perfect metaphor for a text interface: minimum visual means, but maximum content capacity.

Phandroid: If you had to build an instant transportation portal to one place in the world, where would it be an

Vlad: 37.422°N 122.084°W If I can’t know what happened with my app by mail, should I teleport there and ask?

You can find Tagy on the Google Play Store for free here. You can unlock more features for $1.29 using this unlocker app, and there’s also a companion “settings” app for your perusal.

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us and start your message with “Developer Appreciation Month”.

Don’t miss your chance to win! Sign up for our Developer Newsletter: it’s required to win most of our contests and it’ll feature some huge announcements that you won’t want to miss.

 

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/18/10-burning-questions-with-vlad-from-minimax/feed/ 4 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/tagy-icon.png
Join us tomorrow for a hangout with Any.Do’s Omer Perchik http://phandroid.com/2012/06/16/join-us-tomorrow-for-a-hangout-with-any-dos-omer-perchik/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/16/join-us-tomorrow-for-a-hangout-with-any-dos-omer-perchik/#comments Sat, 16 Jun 2012 10:53:03 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=97663  If you’ve been following my posts, you would probably know I’m a pretty big fan of Any.Do, the much heralded to-do list app. Despite not being my of a list making guy, the app is one of my favorites because of the intense focus on UX, and because it was Android-first.

And I’m really, really delighted to announce that on tomorrow (i.e., Sunday, 17th June), we’ll be conducting a Google+ Hangout with Omer Perchik, the Co-founder of Any.Do. The local times it’s been scheduled for is mentioned below. Do add Phandroid (and/or me) to your Circles for any updates. Also, if you’ve got any questions you’d like us to put to Omer, just mention them in the comments down below.

Hangout scheduled time:

1 PM GMT

11 PM in Sydney (EST, GMT + 10 Hrs)

2 PM in London (BST, GMT + 1 Hr)

9 AM in New York (EDT, GMT – 4 Hrs)

8 AM in Dallas (CDT, GMT -5 Hrs)

6 AM in San Francisco (PDT, GMT – 7 Hrs)

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/16/join-us-tomorrow-for-a-hangout-with-any-dos-omer-perchik/feed/ 3
10 Burning Questions with Amit Aggarwal from Mangobird http://phandroid.com/2012/06/12/10-burning-questions-with-amit-aggarwal-from-mangobird/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/12/10-burning-questions-with-amit-aggarwal-from-mangobird/#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2012 20:53:58 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=97467
Independent developer Amit Aggarwal happens to be a very unique case. While other developers usually focus on a specific niche, he has decided to venture out to other pastures with a very diverse variety of apps. Otherwise known as Mangobird in the Google Play Store, Amit has developed social games, entertainment apps, informative apps and even productivity tools.

This makes Mangobird a very “human” developer. Some of his applications display a playful and even flirtatious nature, while others focus solely in functionality. There is time for work and time for play.

He is most popular for his Truth or Dare game (which comes in a flurry of versions), as well as the now iconic application Find My Phone. The latter happens to be a pioneer of its kind. As Amit mentions during our interview, this has even become a form of lingo in the Android platform. We often refer to this category of apps as “Find My Phone style applications,” or something along the lines.

Developer Appreciation Month is a great chance to learn more from our favorite developers, and we definitely had to take the opportunity to sit with personalities like Amit from Mangobird. Here are our 10 Burning Questions with him, and make sure to check out his applications; the full list will be provided after the interview.

Phandroid: How did you get started with Android Development?

Amit: I got started with Android back in 2009 when I made Find My Phone, the first and original “find my phone” app for Android. Android had just come out and I thought it had a great chance of competing with the iPhone. Also, at the time, the iPhone did not have the necessary “openness” to make a device recovery tool based on SMS (like Find My Phone), so I decided to give Android a shot, and luckily it worked out.

Phandroid: What phone do you personally use?

Amit: I use a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, because I wanted a “vanilla” Android phone with minimal manufacturer tweaks and carrier bloatware. Also, the Nexus series is apparently the only series that gets regularly updated when it comes to over-the-air updates of the Android OS.

Phandroid: What was your biggest challenge in developing your apps and games?

Amit: First of all, I have to give kudos to Apple and Google for making it easier than ever to make an instantly global product with huge potential. The biggest difficulty for apps now, and has been for some time, is getting traction on a new app.

Phandroid: Your portfolio of apps is very diverse in nature. Which applications are you most proud of, and which are your personal favorites?

Amit: Truth or Dare has a large number of users and is a really fun game, but my favorite is probably Find My Phone because it is such a useful tool and has inspired countless copy-cat apps and products. Even the name Find My Phone has now become standard lingo in the mobile world, so it is something I will always be proud of.

Phandroid: Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential?

Amit: The general consensus is that, if possible, making your app free with in-app purchases is usually best, and I would agree.

Phandroid: What do you want to see in future versions of Android?

Amit: Fragmentation is an issue on Android, and I think it would be great if Google made a push to get most devices to certain versions of Android. Also, I would like to see more user-granted permissions that would be useful for security apps. For instance, currently apps are not allowed to turn on GPS by themselves, but some apps have a legitimate need for this. Users should be able to grant this permission on a per-app basis.

Phandroid: Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?

Amit: I personally do not develop for other platforms but I would say that from a testing and support point of view, it is hard to beat the iOS with its relatively small set of devices compared to Android. From what I’ve heard, iOS requires more lines of code to do a task, and Windows Phones need less.

Phandroid: If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?

Amit: This is a lesson that has been well-established on the Web but is worth repeating: don’t underestimate the power of free. Users are a very valuable currency.

Phandroid: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

Amit: One word: Golden State Warriors, baby. I know those are four words, but who’s counting?

Phandroid: What are your favorite Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne quotes? ;)

Amit: Both are incredible artists. Here’s one by Lil Wayne:

“I bought a brand new attitude.
The hate is music to my ears,
I got my dancin’ shoes.”

Whether you are taking care of work or just having some good fun (or both), developers like Amit make your smartphone what it is. He has told us that a very good application for parents and kids is on its way. He couldn’t say much, but it is an education-related app. For now, here is a list of his apps, so please check them out and support him!

Mangobird Applications

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us and start your message with “Developer Appreciation Month”.

Don’t miss your chance to win! Sign up for our Developer Newsletter: it’s required to win most of our contests and it’ll feature some huge announcements that you won’t want to miss.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/12/10-burning-questions-with-amit-aggarwal-from-mangobird/feed/ 0
10 Burning Questions with Marek Wyszynski of Infinite Dreams, developers of Jelly Defense http://phandroid.com/2012/06/11/10-burning-questions-with-marek-wyszynski-of-infinite-dreams-developers-of-jelly-defense/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/11/10-burning-questions-with-marek-wyszynski-of-infinite-dreams-developers-of-jelly-defense/#comments Mon, 11 Jun 2012 16:15:46 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=97506

Infinite Dreams has a knack for making great games. Perhaps best known for the tower defense title Jelly Defense, the independent development house has over a dozen top-rated games available from Google Play and has recently unleashed their latest, Shoot The Zombirds. While they have seen plenty of success on iOS, Infinite Dreams took an early adopter approach with Android. Unlike some of the bigger developers who decided to wait out the first couple of years of Android before diving into development, founder Marek Wyszynski and crew jumped right in, though it hasn’t always been easy.

We pitted Wyszynski against our “10 Burning Questions” to get his take on the Android platform and experiences developing fun and addictive games. Read on for the full text!

Phandroid: How did you get started with Android Development?

Marek Wyzsynski: Our strategy was always to create games that could be played on multiple systems. In case of Android we had to wait until the platform started supporting native applications (via NDK). We released our first Android game as early as December 2009 and it was our classic, historical shooter Sky Force.

P: What phone do you personally use?

MW: Currently I use Galaxy Nexus and I’m really happy with it! I’m gonna try Galaxy S3 soon and decide whether I should upgrade or not.

P: What was your biggest challenge in developing games for Android?

MW: I’m not going to be original when I say that the most challenging thing is fragmentation. It’s really difficult to design and develop a game that works great on both low-end and high-end devices. On high-end devices you always want to push its hardware to the limits but on the other hand you need to maintain the compatibility with older devices. It’s always a matter of having a good balance between those two worlds.

P: What has been your favorite game to work on and why?

MW: I believe that my most favourite game that we’ve developed is Jelly Defense. I love the style, graphics, gameplay and music. It’s also very challenging and fun – great to see how many people are enjoying that game!

P: Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential?

MW: Currently we still get most of our revenues using traditional paid model but we definitely see the potential in freemium and in-apps. Actually our latest game called Shoot The Zombirds was released for free and is using full potential of in-apps. In my opinion both models are here to stay – it just depends on how the game design fits into one of the strategies. It’s worth noting that if your game has been downloaded in big numbers you can also get pretty decent revenues from ads. In our case Can Knockdown for Android was downloaded almost 2M times and it’s generating about the same money from ads as it’s paid successor Can Knockdown 2.

P: What do you want to see in future versions of Android?

MW: For at least few years I see Android as the most dominant OS in mobile space. It’s a choice of mass market where people can choose between cheap low-end phones and expensive power monsters.

P: Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?

MW: We develop for multiple platforms but our current focus is set on iOS and Android. In terms of revenues iOS is still a big winner as it generates a big chunk of our incomes. On the other hand we see a trend that our Android sales are increasing. We definitely need to understand that demographics on iOS and Android are a bit different and address that in our games. This is what we are working on!

P: If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?

MW: Keep in mind that you have an opportunity to present your application to hundreds of millions of people. The market is very competitive so don’t be surprised if your first app turns not to be a great success. Work hard, listen to your customers, focus and quality and eventually you will be noticed!

P: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

MW: Did you know that our games were downloaded more than 25 million times already? :)

P: Which game that you have worked on would you like to see ported to the Google Project Glass concept?

MW: It’s a very interesting question. If Google makes those glasses right then it enables endless opportunities for game developers. For me it just opens the gates to completely new genres using for example a mix of social, geolocation and augmented reality. In case of our games I would really like to play Let’s Create! Pottery and alter the shape of my pot using hands in virtual reality.

Here’s hoping Marek and crew will be around to create such next-gen concepts for Project Glass. If their past success is any indication, we suspect we’ll be seeing awesome games from the group for years to come. If you haven’t checked out some of Infinite Dreams great titles for Android, there’s no better time than now.

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us and start your message with “Developer Appreciation Month”.

Don’t miss your chance to win! Sign up for our Developer Newsletter: it’s required to win most of our contests and it’ll feature some huge announcements that you won’t want to miss.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/11/10-burning-questions-with-marek-wyszynski-of-infinite-dreams-developers-of-jelly-defense/feed/ 6 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/marek-wyszynski-150x150.jpg
10 Burning Questions with Edward Kim, developer of Smarter Alarm and Car Locator http://phandroid.com/2012/06/06/10-burning-questions-with-edward-kim-developer-of-smarter-alarm-and-car-locator/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/06/10-burning-questions-with-edward-kim-developer-of-smarter-alarm-and-car-locator/#comments Wed, 06 Jun 2012 16:28:17 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=97127

Edward Kim is a bit of an anomaly in the Android developer world. He has managed to maintain a selection of popular apps in the Google Play Store while admittedly only focusing on Android as a hobby. Developer of Smarter Alarm and Android Developer Challenge 2 finalist Car Locator, Kim has managed to turn his hobby into a profitable enterprise. For Kim the key to success has always been about focusing on turning quality code into a quality product. As he reveals, he has learned there is no “silver bullet” when it comes to publishing top-ranked Android applications. His story is a testament to the results of putting in the work in order to reap the benefits.

We caught up with Edward as part of our Developer Appreciation Month and asked him our “10 Burning Questions.” Read on for the full transcript.

Phandroid: How did you get started with Android Development?

Edward Kim: Way back in May 2009, Google announced the Android Developer Challenge 2, which was a contest for developers to create and submit new Android apps. At the time, I was about to leave for vacation with my family and knew I would have some free time on the plane and in hotels, so I decided to buy a book on Android development and start development on an app idea I had called “Car Locator”. My intention and expectation was not to win the contest — it was all about setting a deadline for myself to learn Android and write my first app.

Much to my surprise, “Car Locator” actually ended up winning 3rd place in the travel category, which came with a $25,000 cash prize. Motivated, I started writing more apps and improving existing ones. The rest is pretty much history from there.

P: What phone do you personally use (or what is your favorite Android phone)?

EK: I bought the Galaxy Nexus the day it came out. This is the phone I still use today. I have to say though, my favorite Android phone of all time was the Nexus One. Something about that phone felt so good to hold in your hand. It was the perfect size and weight.

P: What was your biggest challenge in developing Smarter Alarm?

EK: Smarter Alarm is essentially a personalized news feed reader. It aggregates personalized information from various feeds and web services, compiles the information into human-understandable sentences, and then actually reads the sentences to you aloud. Smarter Alarm can read you lots of different types of information, including weather, sports scores, stock quotes, Facebook birthdays, news stories, Google Calendar events, famous quotes, and much more. To pull all this off, the app has to gather personalized information from a LOT of different feeds and APIs, including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, FanFeedr, and much more. Maintaining all this in a scalable and robust way is definitely the biggest challenge in developing and maintaining Smarter Alarm.

P: As an independent developer without the benefit of a huge team backing you, how do you balance time between developing for multiple apps on the Android platform?

EK: I believe the most important thing is to write good, maintainable code, and never ever use undocumented APIs. Once you have that down, maintaining multiple apps becomes very simple and straightforward. It’s very rare for my apps to break on new phones and new versions of Android, and when they do, it’s usually very simple to fix.

P: Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential?

EK: My strategy for driving revenue has been surprisingly straightforward — simply try to get the highest ranking possible on the Google Play store. In my opinion, focusing my attention on getting high user ratings is the best way in my power to improve my rankings. And the best way to get high user ratings is to just write a great app. Sorry, there’s no silver bullet or “hack” here.

I also use AndroidLicenser to boost revenue on my apps. AndroidLicenser can boost revenue through a variety of different strategies (i.e. letting your users pay for your app through Paypal, automatically emailing your users to leave a positive rating on the Android market, reducing piracy, and automatically contacting users who tried to purchase you app on the Google Play market but were unable to for whatever reason). In full disclosure, I originally wrote AndroidLicenser for my own apps, but later opened it up to other developers for a fee.

P: What do you want to see in future versions of Android?

EK: I think I’d love to see improvements in general speed and smoothness, even at the cost of new features. Even on my Galaxy Nexus, Ice Cream Sandwich can feel laggy at times.

P: Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?

EK: I do not. I only develop for Android. Always have and always will.

P: If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?

EK: Apps are a hits-based based business. Don’t be discouraged if the first app you release isn’t an overnight success. I’ve seen many friends become discouraged when, after spending a lot of time developing an app, they find it goes unnoticed by the smartphone masses. I’ve seen some developers give up, and some keep at it. I’ve also seen that those who kept at it eventually stumbled upon success. Keep on coding.

P: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

EK: Android development is actually just a hobby for me right now. I’m spending the vast majority of my time working on a new startup called ZenPayroll.

P: If you could only download and use one app for the rest of your life (excluding your own), which would it be?

EK: I have a terrible sense of direction and Google Maps saves me from getting lost multiple times per day.

We’ll have more with Edward throughout the day, including a special opportunity grab one of his popular apps at a discounted price, all as part of our Developer Appreciation Month. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t yet, be sure to take a look at a few of Kim’s apps in the meantime, particularly Car Locator, which recently received a major refresh.

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us and start your message with “Developer Appreciation Month”.

Don’t miss your chance to win! Sign up for our Developer Newsletter: it’s required to win most of our contests and it’ll feature some huge announcements that you won’t want to miss.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/06/10-burning-questions-with-edward-kim-developer-of-smarter-alarm-and-car-locator/feed/ 0 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/edward-kim-150x150.png
10 Burning Questions with Steve Albright from Neverstill Media http://phandroid.com/2012/06/05/10-burning-questions-with-steve-albright-from-neverstill-media/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/05/10-burning-questions-with-steve-albright-from-neverstill-media/#comments Tue, 05 Jun 2012 19:56:54 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=97092 In this Developer Appreciation Month Interview we chat with Steve Albright from Neverstill Media (Phandroid’s parent company). Not only is Steve responsible for the most recent Phandroid News and GameFans Android Apps, but he’s also been the lead developer for Carrier Coverage, Football Pickem, Football Schedule 2012, and ClutchPad.

In the video below, Steve and I sit down to talk about his experiences developing for Android. For those who think the 40+ minute video is tl;dw… skip down to the 10 Burning Questions below.

(Pictured Left: Steve and his relatively new addition to the family: Addy.)

(1) How did you get started with Android Development?

As I said in our long boring video that Rob fast forwards through… I originally started out with an iPhone. I have built a few OS X apps but nothing to brag about. Surprisingly this experience with the Cocoa framework did not lead into iPhone mobile development. I spent a year or two trying to hack every aspect my my iPhones but never built an app.

Since the beginning of the rumors that were floating around the internet I have been following the early news for Android. Well, at the early times Android was not Android and the articles I were following referred to a Linux powered phone. Linux on a phone really caught my interest which gave me the courage to turn my iPhones into nice paper weights. Over time, Android development became a hobby and I developed and released my first application called Clutch Pad. The Android Developer Community is the only reason that I am where I am today!

(2) What phone do you personally use?

I am a phone whore and will always purchase the latest and greatest… even if I have to eat rice for a week. Right now, I am using my Galaxy Nexus on Verizon but now that I think about it.. I should be looking for a new phone that Rob should buy me!

(3) What was your biggest challenge in developing Clutch Pad?

Truly the hardest aspect of developing this app was fighting the SDK. I recommend, especially if you’re going to be writing your first ever Android application or game, make sure it’s an easy project and follow the documented SDK. On your first app you don’t want to try to figure out non public API or to hack something together to get your app to work but rather learn from good code examples to learn the framework the way it’s intended to be used.

(4) What app was the most fun to develop?

Hands down I would have to say the recent Phandroid News app we just released. I personally love Phandroid and the community behind this site. Creating a news app was just awesome and felt like more play than work. I love to hear user feedback and it’s a great feeling when you get positive responses back from a community your largely involved with! Oh, and updates are coming… I managed to get off conference calls ;)

(5) Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential? (We know this is a touchy subject and confidential issue, but we appreciate any details you’re willing to share)

Bottom line: I do not have experience with Ads and users are cheap. I get complaints and refund requests for an app that is .99 cents on the market. You can find .99 cents on the ground. I’m not trying to insult any users or anyone in general but 99% of the time that same user would spend over 5 dollars at McDonalds or a $1.25 on a Pepsi. Most of the time lots of mobile apps are under priced with the amount of effort that goes into them. I personally don’t know the best way to make money off of apps but it seems like if you want to make a living off of your applications, you need to offer constant updates and great support or you won’t be around for long.

(6)What do you want to see in future versions of Android?

As phone hardware continues to get more processing power and ram the obvious future I see is more animations, smoother transitions and more eye candy. From a user standpoint I hope to see Google constantly improving their own apps to show off the latest and greatest UI designs as they do today. From a developer standpoint I hope to see better support libraries for past versions of Android. There is nothing I hate more than to try to make code adjustments to accommodate older versions of Android.

(7) Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?

I currently do not develop in any other mobile platforms but I could see Android being more difficult than for example iOS due to the large amount of unique devices we have to support. Although, there are pros and cons to everything and I think it comes down to more of a personal level and what language you like to develop in.

(8) If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?

Get more involved with the community for early builds. It seems if you build an early on user base they will later support you down the road. Make sure you give good application support as well. Sending email responses back to users goes a long way.

(9) Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you.

My computer career really began from getting suspended from high-school for a few months and I had nothing better to do then become a 1337 AOL hax0r.

(10) De Niro or Pacino?

This is hard but I have to give it to De Niro because of the movie Taxi Driver. Good shit.

BONUS FOOTAGE:
This is Steve in the CES 2012 Press Lounge, making fun of tech writers and their “device reviews” and “unboxings” by doing an impromptu, off-the-top-of-the-dome review of a Pepsi bottle. Yes… a Pepsi bottle.

Pretty hilarious if you ask me.

And that wraps up our interview… thanks, Steve!

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us and start your message with “Developer Appreciation Month”.

Don’t miss your chance to win! Sign up for our Developer Newsletter: it’s required to win most of our contests and it’ll feature some huge announcements that you won’t want to miss.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/05/10-burning-questions-with-steve-albright-from-neverstill-media/feed/ 13 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/steve-addy-150x150.jpg
10 Burning Questions with Alec Shobin of Subatomic Studios http://phandroid.com/2012/06/03/96932/ http://phandroid.com/2012/06/03/96932/#comments Sun, 03 Jun 2012 15:45:37 +0000 http://phandroid.com/?p=96932 We’ve caught up with Alec Shobin, a figurehead at Subatomic Studios who make the highly-acclaimed and successful defender series Fieldrunners! On the verge of bringing out a sequel, Alec takes time to chat with us about many things related to Android, including their monetization strategy (theirs makes a TON of sense), the challenges of developing Fieldrunners for a fragmented platform like Android. It’s a great read so kick your feet up and dig in. PS: stay along past the break for a donut anthem. Yup, a donut anthem. Pure awesomeness.

Phandroid: How did you get started with Android Development?

Alec:When we launched Fieldrunners HD for Android in 2011, Fieldrunners had already been out for around 3 years on other platforms.  We’d brought the game to mobile platforms like the Nintendo DSi, PlayStation Minis, and even a few “dumb-phones,” so it made a lot of sense for us to bring the game to Android as well.

Phandroid: What phone do you personally use?

Alec: Our team personally uses a good mix of phones, ranging from the Samsung Galaxy S2 to, of course, a variety of iPhones.

Phandroid: What was your biggest challenge in developing Fieldrunners HD?

Alec: Android is unique compared to other mobile platforms because of the massive variety of different devices Android apps need to support. Learning the ins and outs of all these devices necessitated an adapted approach to development, but in the end, our superstar engineering and QA teams did a fantastic job!

4. Are you going to keep the Fieldrunners series going? As you may have heard, we just announced Fieldrunners 2!  You can learn more about the game by going to Fieldrunners2.com.  We’re previewing the game to folks at E3, so keep your eyes on the web for more info and other updates!

Phandroid: Monetization: in terms of driving revenue, can you tell us about your experience, your strategy, and the overall potential?

Alec: Our monetization strategy was pretty simple – make an awesome game!

Phandroid: What do you want to see in future versions of Android?

Alec: Simultaneous time travel and microwave oven features!  Seriously though, as a platform, Android really has so much potential.  More than anything, we want to be surprised by totally new features we’ve never even considered but subconsciously always wanted.

Phandroid: Do you develop for other platforms and how does Android compare to those platforms?

Alec: As we said above, we develop for a variety of mobile platforms, and the biggest difference was the huge volume of different devices Android apps need to support.

Phandroid: If you could give one tip to fellow Android Developers, what would it be?

Alec: Make sure you’ve got a good selection of different Android devices standing by when you go to QA your apps.

Phandroid: Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you or Subatomic as a whole.

Alec: Little known fact: We developed a game with Autodesk called “Tinkerbox.”  Definitely check it out if you’re in to physics based puzzle games!

Phandroid: Beignets or donuts?

Alec: Everybody loves donuts!

If you want to see what’s so great about Fieldrunners, check it out in the Google Play Store! It’s only $1.99 and I guarantee you that the game earns every cent of it. Stay tuned for news from E3 regarding the second installment of Fieldrunners, and be sure to follow the Fieldrunners Twitter account or like their Facebook page for all sorts of updates.

Finally, visit their site to check out more cool stuff, including a store where you can buy Fieldrunners merchandise. We want to give a big thank you to Alec for taking his time to participate in Phandroid’s Developer Appreciation Month!

Want to get involved in Developer Appreciation Month? Contact us and start your message with “Developer Appreciation Month”.

Don’t miss your chance to win! Sign up for our Developer Newsletter: it’s required to win most of our contests and it’ll feature some huge announcements that you won’t want to miss.

]]>
http://phandroid.com/2012/06/03/96932/feed/ 10 http://phandroid.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Subatomic_LogoSquare-150x150.png