So earlier in the year I tried to switch to Android full time and failed. The reason was that we needed to get our Plane Finder for Android application up to scratch. The last update was over 2 years ago and it had fallen far behind the iOS version in terms of features and just a lovely look and feel.
This new version uses V2 of the Google Maps API for Android and looks stunning on the newer Android handsets!
It is well overdue and thanks to all those involved in developing and testing the app!
You can grab it from here at a lovely discounted price for the next week!
I’ll admit that on Friday I lost it with my Android phone.
It was just crap! I tried, I really did!
Back to my iPhone on Saturday and sanity with it also!
End of message….
So I’ve had a weekend and a New Year to keep hold of my new Android device. It is not out of the window yet but has been close many times, literally!
Here is a brief update:
THINGS I HATE
- No decent Twitter client – I’ll admit I am pretty spoilt with Tweetbot on iOS/mac and am just not feeling the same sort of love. At the moment I am finding the official Twitter client the best of the bad bunch.
- The Lock Screen – Sorry I just don’t get this. Feels much slower to unlock my device that my iPhone despite the same sort of passcode system. Not sure why yet!
- Scrolling – A lot of the apps I use have scrolling table views but they feel so sluggish. Almost like treacle.
- Speed – Everything actually feels slower. The Sonos app takes longer to open. Facebook takes longer to update. All just feels slow!
- Google Play – This is the app store. To all those devs complaining about discoverability in the iOS store: You need to keep quiet as this place is a mess!
- Same app on Android – a lot of the time the same app I had on iOS is available for Android. Every time it feels like the poorer cousin! Plane Finder included!
THINGS I LOVE (Yes there are actually some!)
- Auto Logon to BTOpenzone – I have a BTOpenzone account and one amazing thing is that the app sits in the background and if it finds one it logs you on! AMAZING! iOS has a similar app but you have to open it up after joining the network.
- RSS – I still use RSS for a lot of my news and finding an RSS client was top of my lists. I ended up finding Press. This app feels very iOS and I fell in love with it.
- Screen – The Galaxy S3 does have a gorgeous screen. Slightly bigger than an iPhone but the clarity of the OLED is amazing!
- Sharing – I am so used to copying and pasting content around iOS this felt alien at first. The sharing between apps in Android is fantastic. Have a URL? Why not open in anything that will accept it. Have a photo? Again open in something else. iOS does have something similar but it is not as fully featured as this due to the isolation.
- Google Now – As the Galaxy S3 runs 4.1 it is an addon rather than baked into the OS. It is great though. The other day I was out and it kept an eye on traffic for me and also told me how the NFL games were going too!
THINGS I AM NOT SURE OF
- Web Browsing – I am using Chrome as this does seem the best but things like the double tap zoom aren’t quite as nice as iOS. This may be just one of those things that is different and will have to learn to love it!
- Full customisation – I have widgets and apps and custom lock screens available. Again this is different to what I am used to and I haven’t made up my mind if it is actually useful yet.
- NFC – I ordered some programmable NFC tags and they arrived today. If I get time I will play with them. The idea is you put one in the office for example and you can tell the phone to go into loud mode and join a certain wifi network or start a VPN maybe. Potential here but maybe just a gimmick?
I think I will stick to it for a little longer, I may make the 2 months I set myself yet but I find myself on my iPad quite a lot now
I NEVER do New Year’s Resolutions as I never stick to them. So I thought what better than to do one and see if it really would stick this time! So this year it is to switch to an Android handset AND do so for 2 months (at least).
For those that don’t know me, I am primarily an iOS developer and love Apple products, not just a little bit but a LOT. I’ve always had an iPhone in my hand in recent years and it is how I now earn a living. I’ve always had issues with Android, both the handsets and the OS. They always felt rushed, slow and a little bit like they ripped off iOS, but badly! Personally though I have loved the customisation side of Android and think for certain techie users (and not the general public) that this is good!
My reason for doing this experiment is that we have Plane Finder for Android and it sucks. We are getting a lot of flack for this as we are seeing more of a trend of users switching to Android. So we are in the process right now of rewriting it and thought what better than to embrace the platform as a whole!
I decided to set myself some ground rules for the experiment:
- Buy a decent Android phone
- No rooting/custom kernel allowed
- Not allowed to write my own app to solve a problem
- Blog about my experiences from a user “switching”
I also decided to write down my core apps that I use and that I would have to find Android versions of or replacements. There are not many core apps but here is the list…..
- Delivery Status Touch
So….as the Nexus 4 is out of stock everywhere I decided to get a Samsung Galaxy S3 and it arrived this morning! First impressions are that the screen is VERY nice. It is a big phone but very plasticy! At £399 so was not a cheap phone by any stretch.
Android 4.1.2 is much nicer than the 2.3 I last tried on a phone handset but it is no smooth as butter iOS! My overall first few hours feeling is that I hate it, not as much as I thought I would but I keep wanting to get my iPhone 5 back out of the drawer!
I will continue to blog my thoughts over the coming weeks but I sure am looking forward to giving this a proper go!
Yet again at Plane Finder we decided it would be fun to see if we could track Santa again.
We sent one of our ADS-B receivers to the North Pole and it appears they agreed for it to be fitted to the sleigh again for 2012!
Anyway, go and enjoy him at http://santafinder.co and have a great Christmas!
My last post detailed how we were increasing our efforts to help crowdsource the fixing of Apple Maps in Plane Finder
This was essentially getting our users to help us out in reporting errors to Apple within the maps app on the device! Well….after a quick check after installing 6.0.1 I can confirm it has worked! Whether or not our bug reports were what did it or not is not 100% clear, but still it is a good feeling to now see some airports there that weren’t before!
This is the case for Birmingham (below) and Southampton Airports.
Apple have come under a lot of flack for the Apple maps recently and in a lot of cases this is a fair comment and is a step back in some areas.
Our biggest app is Plane Finder and it is heavily MapKit based and the main issue we have is missing airports! We are getting around 50 e-mails a week and that is not forgetting some of the slating reviews we had too as a result.
The iOS developers reading this will know we don’t have a huge choice for mapping API’s and at the end of the day except some data quality issues, Apple have produced a lovely mapping system that I have really grown to love. It is fast and looks very pretty too! 3D is a bit of gimmick for me right now but I can see some impressive stuff coming from all of this!
Apple WILL fix the data issue as they have to. They don’t have a choice. Seeing the recent article on Apple mobilising their retail workforce to fix the maps issue got us thinking….what if we did the same?
So we created a forum post and told all our users to help us out! How to Report Errors with Apple Maps has already been a great success and late last week we saw East Midlands airport appear on the maps in the apps! We are going to continue pushing and getting this data to Apple as it can only help us all in the long run.
If you have a lot of users and instead of whining about the maps including your users, get them to help out! We can’t say for sure that it works but it is better than complaining all the time!
Following on from the other day we made our iOS versions of the apps live this morning!
We’ve been busy and there are more releases just behind this one too!!!!
Highlights from this include…
- Near real time tracking of ALL scheduled traffic across North America!
- Huge increase in general aviation tracking in the USA and Canada
- Beautiful new icons with accurate detailing
- New white aircraft icon set – this looks great in the satellite map view
- Added flight number to all views
- New unified search – Flight number, registration or callsign
- Various performance and visual enhancements
We’ve been working hard at pinkfroot! Myself and our new hire (@NialGiacomelli) have been SUPER busy! Some of my close friends know I was super busy planning some of this when we were all over at WWDC! Well it has now started to come to fruition.
Instead of tracking only 10-20% of planes in the US we now track around 95-100% of them! This is great news and looks great on a map. However this does present some technical challenges!
This is the start of a new master plan going forward and this is a small bit of it!!!
The work can be found at http://planefinder.net so please go check it out. There is loads more to come from us now but this is just a start!
So it is 3 years (almost….18th June 2009) since our first app Ship Finder hit the app store. It pretty much coincided with the 3.0 release of iOS which included MapKit. It was an exciting time and was purely a hobby project for just myself, Jodie and Mark. Today we now have a suite of apps on the app store with our most famous being Plane Finder which we all work on full time! We now have a diverse set of apps, websites and platforms so it never gets boring!
So first of all Happy Birthday to Ship Finder which is where it all began!
I’ve been at WWDC 2012 for the week now absorbing all of the new shiny tech and tools out there, if you are an Apple developer you will need to read yourself as I can’t stand people breaking the NDA. There is certainly a lot for us to do! Those here will know the stuff I am talking about. Also back in the UK some exciting stuff has been going on which means we have even more fun work to get on with! It could’t have been better timing with some of the new iOS6 features!
So we have been casually advertising a post on our website here and had a few responses so far. Up till now we thought the right thing may just come along but it hasn’t so we are now going out on a mission to find someone great!
We are after someone that is great with iOS, this is the primary focus and the area we have too much work to do. Work will be on our already great iOS apps, making them better with features we already have in the pipeline and a couple of apps we need to get going too! Due to the complexities of the data and some of the things we have found that working closely is a massive benefit in the things we do. Therefore we really need someone quite close to the Portsmouth area. There are a few great cities around there so don’t think it is too limiting.
I would rather not go to job agencies to find you guys, as it is much easier direct (We ALL hate dealing with them right??)! So if you are interested, or know someone that is please get in touch. Either with me direct @lesmond, firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are here at WWDC please come and find me and we can go for a coffee!
I would also appreciate if any of you that do know me could spread the word or recommend someone. I know a lot of great people in the industry but they already have their own great things out there!