Twice a year I get moments where design work has to take a break. I took one of those for 3 weeks to enjoy the weather and family as summer gets going in a primarily wet and cold Pacific Northwest. While I was away, the build up of great new devices and content has not slowed, as weve had three major technology shows in the past 5 weeks. Ive added quite a few new devices to my list of to do so Ill have a busy few months as the new devices are announced and released. Lets talk about a few issues I have in developing before I get into that list.
Android UI Fragmentation Continues (Honeycomb UI Ditched, Sorta):
I mentioned that I would be developing an entire Android Honeycomb tablet UI that would go along with the Samsung Tab 10.1. Well that was based on the assumption that I would be able to ditch Samsungs interface via root and grab the stock tablet components I needed in the SystemUI.apk to start designing in Photoshop. Samsung beat me to it. By eliminating the stock Honeycomb backup UI all together, I cant find the stock elements I need to achieve a complete Honeycomb UI for the Tab 10.1...
I then went looking into other manufacturers practices in saving stock UI elements and found that all tablets currently available has done the same in favor of implementing their own UIs with no way to convert to true stock tablet UI. This leaves me with only a few options. Design a full Honeycomb tablet UI based on each manufacturers shell or design a preliminary desktop UI for each tablet and call it good. Because of how fast these devices come out and how fast Honeycomb changes are made on each system, Ive decided to stick with the latter of the two. In fact, I would be hard pressed to think that any designer will be able to come up with a true complete stock Android Honeycomb interface simply because manufactures wont allow it to exist on the current set of tablets. Sorry folks, Google hasnt enforced complete unification just yet so dont expect a complete UI on any one tablet I design for the time being.
PSDs In Development (Updated):
I hope you guys like the latest two devices I've added:
Ive gotten so many new device references from my friends in the community that I dont know if I can do them all. Heres the updated list of what Ive got planned though. There are so many others waiting in the wings though so if you dont see the device you want theres a good chance I have it on the next round of devices in development .
Samsung Droid Charge LTE (Done)
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Done)
LG G-Slate Tablet (Done)
Motorola Droid Milestone 3 (Done)
Samsung Galaxy S 2 (Done)
LG Optimus X2
Acer Iconia Tab a500 Tablet
Projects put on back burner:
Samsung Infuse 4G
HTC Flyer Tablet
Thoughts, Observations and Mobile Tyranny:
Apple is STILL the king of mobile computing and heres why. And just so we dont get ahead of ourselves, Googles touted 400,000 Android activations per day and Apples tapering 250,000 iPhone activations does not mean anything when it comes to explaining how well both operating systems are doing. I asked these questions in a previous blog entry back in Nov. 2010 that I felt would set the tone for 2011 and would answer whether or not Apple would be dethroned as the king of mobile.
Android Says Apples Are Good:
Can Google answer the fragmentation concerns, mature it's OS and develop a real application Market for consumers and developers and will will it be lucrative enough for those developers convert over?
The answer is yes and no. While Google accomplished a lot in the way of OS and app market improvements, they still havent swayed the iOS dedicated developers to start developing for Android at a high level. To Googles credit, theyve acknowledged that fragmentation is an issue and they will be implementing new standards and restrictions on how Android device manufactures can implement Googles operating system. Weve seen this take effect subtly but, almost immediately in how OS and market app updates work and how often updates must take place. Even though this doesnt sit well with device makers, they realize that its the only way to keep their phones and tablets selling. Expect this trend to continue. Developers who would only develop on iOS are now considering or even planning their Android ports and developments.
Apple Looks Forward:
So you think you know everything about how Apples devices work, huh? Not pizazzed or fanboyd into the one system fits all mentality that theyve decided for their users? Well maybe this will convince you. Your iPhone, iTouch, iPod, iMac and Apple TV all work seamlessly. You can now play your mobile device games, watch video, browse the internet or listen to music wirelessly on that nifty HDTV you have sitting in your living room. You can video conference call on all four major devices with anyone who has an Apple device with a camera and you can do it seamlessly from one device to another without having to close an app, hang up a call or press pause on your media. Something Microsoft and Google have been trying to perfect is available on Apples devices as I type this. In the near future, your entire Apple computing profile; Games, Apps, Contacts, Docs, Images and Videos will be accessible from any Apple device terminal that supports Apples new iCloud service, which is all of them. No need to carry much more than your iPad around. How does that sound?
With any new industry in demand like the mobile industry, comes the obvious question. Who is in control? Owning a mobile device is like any energy or communication provision. Prices are inflated, services are over populated and you dont have control over what you pay for. When this all got started, it seemed like a great deal. Unlimited talk time, text, bandwidth and decent service to boot, on most major carriers. Times are changing rapidly as the grid fills up with users, carriers vie for exclusivity and the costumer gets locked into longer, more expensive contract commitments. The average user spends $130 a month in smartphone unlimited standard services. At just over $1500 a year without exceeding normal services, thats a lot for talking to mom and playing online poker. Only the most dedicated users seem to be willing to fork that kind of currency over.