Archive for 6 October 2014

Panoramio viewer

App icon

Nearby Photos is my open source weekend project. It’s a location-aware Android app showing photos from Panoramio taken nearby.

The app fetches images from Panoramio API based on user location and continues to download more images as user scrolls down the list until all images in the area have been shown. Gson library is used to parse response from panoramio, and Volley for network requests.

It uses KitKat’s immersive mode to show photos in full screen, and allows user to swipe between photos and toggle map view to get an idea where the photo was taken.

Main screenImage ScreenImage screen with map

The source code is available on GitHub.

Android Wear

LG G watch

I don’t normally review hardware and this isn’t meant to be a review, or a sponsored ad, but a short note about my experience with the LG G watch that I purchased about two weeks ago.

I was curious about the Android Wear devices since they were announced during Google I/O 2014. When I learned about the price, I immediately wanted one, but was sceptical about the battery life, and wanted to wait for the Moto 360, so I held off. I even considered the Pebble, because it lasts longer due to different display technology being used – but it wasn’t Android Wear.

Once Moto 360 came out, it received a mixed reviews, and reportedly the battery life wasn’t much greater than the other smartwatches. I was still undecided, but seeing as it wasn’t available in Ireland, my choice was narrowed to Samsung’s Gear Live, and LG’s G Watch, each €199, and since I already loved LG’s Nexus 5, my choice was easy. I went with LG G Watch.

The device comes in two colours

The device comes in two colours

Initially I intended to use the watch sporadically; maybe if i’m really in a hurry and don’t want to take out my phone, or to see my notifications while driving. I didn’t want an extra device that I would have to remember to charge every night, and I wanted to see what the fuss is all about, maybe develop for it or add Android Wear features to my existing apps.

But when I received my G Watch, it was beautiful. And I was very surprised how long it lasted on the first day – I wanted it to last through the full day of heavy use (after all, it was the first day), so I turned off Always-on, and by the end of the day was amazed that I still had 75% battery left. So naturally, I kept the screen on for the rest of my use, sometimes disabling it for the night.

Some report that they noticed battery life getting better since using a smartwatch, due to using the phone less. I also noticed that I take out my phone much less when I use my watch, but I can’t confirm battery life, because as an Android developer, I my phone is often plugged in for debugging, and thus the battery life is hard to evaluate.

Battery life:

  • 2 days with screen Always-on
  • 4 days without Always-on

I don’t see battery technology getting better anytime soon, so we will be probably seeing the same results for the next few generations of smartwatches, but it can only get better if anything.

I charge my watch every day regardless, but I did leave it on for one night and it lasted until evening the next day! Using the charging cradle is as easy as dropping the device in it, and it’s always on my computer desk – I don’t wear it in bed, and I don’t want to keep it on my bedside table, because with screen always on, it would be too bright at night.

I was also pleasantly surprised how convenient it is to receive notifications on the watch. It supports all apps using system notifications out of the box, and unwanted apps can be muted from displaying on the watch. This allows me to read my messages right away while on a bike or in public transport, without having to take my phone out. And most importantly, I get notified of incoming calls, which are easy to miss when out and about. Of course, notifications on the watch can be muted with a simple swipe down, and the smart watch becomes just a watch, which is very convenient while in lecture and you don’t want to be distracted.

Another important feature of the watch is voice commands. Unfortunately it doesn’t support all Google Now commands, like “what’s this song”, or “Navigate home”, and I was disappointed when I tried sending a text in Polish, but it’s very convenient when you just need to set a reminder while away from your phone.

Since getting my watch I have been using it every day.

To sum up:

  • Battery life is actually pretty good
  • Receiving notifications on the watch is very convenient, especially when outside, or when the phone is in another room
  • Not as distracting as smartphone
  • Very elegant design
  • Voice commands are useful, but limited
  • There’s microphone, vibrations, but no speaker, so Google Now answers aren’t read out loud as they are on the phone.
  • Supports only one language at a time

File Manager

ic_launcher

This app is my response to a number of overcomplicated file managers in Google Play that are often outdated and disregard new APIs and design guidelines.

I created this app with simplicity of use and convenience in mind. It allows users to add bookmarks to slide-out drawer, and it comes with preset bookmarks to default media directories that can be easily modified by user by starring/unstarring folders.

It will also automatically detect media directories, and display media content using cards with preview of the image/video/album cover.

The feature set of this app is limited to viewing content and basic file operations, but also sharing files, but also sports unique features like creating shortcuts to files and folders in the homescreen. Another interesting feature is displaying file icons in a similar fashion as MS windows, by superimposing an app icon over the file, signifying which app will open the file when clicked.

I’ve planned more features for this app, like built-in media player, gallery viewer, file chooser, but due to other projects, college, and my internship, I do not have the time to actively maintain this project at the moment.

File list File info dialog Media cards

File manager is available in Google Play, and source code is available on GitHub.