Going Mobile (and first published Android App)

Hello dear readers, It has been about a month since I last wrote you, but that seems par for the course. A lot has changed in the last month; Shannon and I got married (I still need to update the “about me” on my main page), have moved to Flint, and both gotten jobs! It’s been a whirlwind ride but oh so satisfying.

One of the relatively minor changes I’ve made in the past month is getting a data plan and Android phone (and getting rid of the trusty Palm Treo 700wx). This has been awesome (although never as awesome as getting married) and the relatively constant plug into the internet has been a good thing but has definitely needed to be moderated a couple of times. The motivation to get a data plan was two-fold:

  1. Verizon was preparing to switch a new, tiered data package which is a significant loss in value. If I was going to want a data plan anytime in the next 2 years, I needed to get on the bus now.
  2. Verizon has launched 4G (LTE) service in Flint, giving low-end broadband speeds wirelessly. This may not be worth it on a tiered data plan, but combined with unlimited data for the next 2 years, certainly a good deal. I am considering buying the Motorola Bionic when it is released as I have loved the temporary Droid 1 I have been using.

One of the things that surprised me about having a smart phone is how useful apps can be to even such things as social networking. Before I had a smart phone, my mentality was that web applications are king because of their cross-platform capabilities and ultimate update-ability. However, I think that my experience with low-signal 3G has changed that a little.

Native applications (Apps that only run on a specific platform, e.g. iPhone, Android, x86/x64 PCs, etc.) have an advantage in the mobile market because only the data has to be transferred over the network, not the interface as in a web application. Also, mobile browsers are still not on par with desktop browsers so it is much more difficult to make smooth, quick web applications for mobile phones. I may be off here, but this is what I have observed.

Another interesting effect of getting a smart phone is that I have a new perspective on how to use the internet with a tiny screen. My mobile readers will recognize that I am now using a mobile theme on my blog; this is something I first noticed on hackaday.com and realized how the browsing experience changes so much from desktop to mobile.

Those of you who have read some of my past work will remember that I have a fondness for learning programming platforms almost just for the sake of exposure; well, that hasn’t changed here. Another consequence of going mobile is that I had to try my hand at developing a smart phone application. It has definitely been a good experience from learning the IDE (I use Eclipse for all its quirks), testing and troubleshooting on (albeit Java virtual) hardware, and navigating the Android Market.

The first result of my hard work can be found here. If you use it, please leave an honest review; that is very valuable to me as a developer and seller of Apps.

The inspiration of my app is pretty straight-foward: I was playing Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion with some friends and family one weekend and enjoying the use of Taunts in-game and in the waiting room and thought to myself “What if we could take these taunts out of the game and into real life?” Ha, what an absurd thought, right? Well, at the least I knew it would be a great entree to the app development world, an excellent starter project.

The app took about 2 weeks of coding on and off as I was still acclimating to the platform and I had a great deal of help from Tyson List as graphic design is his strong point and one of my weaknesses. As I mention on the App Market, this is a stable proof-of-concept but there are some features that I am still looking to implement. As always, feature requests/suggestions are a huge help to any developer so I would love to hear your feedback!

What has been your experience with a smart phone? Would you Age of Empires fans out there use my app? Please feed back below; I would love to hear what you think.



4 thoughts on “Going Mobile (and first published Android App)

  1. Nathaniel

    Nice job Dan. Still working on mine more off than on lol. UI design also is something that I am extremely weak in and struggling with.

    1. dantheman2865 Post author

      Thanks! When it comes to UI (or UX, User Experience) I take a lot of advice from Daniel Burka: http://sprouter.com/dburka
      He has some really good insights. Thankfully, this app runs in the background so there’s not much UI to be had.

  2. Charles

    It’s awesome you’ve learned how to get into Android development. I was just wondering what the copyright and IP implication’s are concerning your app. It’s likely AOE paid voice actors and sound editors to do the sound FX in the game. In media production, companies pay for certain licenses..like worldwide..DVD, website only. It’s a big mess, but it’s why media production companies get so bent out of shape concerning streaming, CD sales, and different types of distribution.

    Also the “Age of Empires” franchise must have some sort of IP protection. I have a feeling you may be unintentionally trudging in some shady waters.

    Just wanted to point that out I guess. I wish I had an Android phone so I could check it out.

    1. dantheman2865 Post author

      Charles, thanks for that insight. At this point, since this is a novelty app I am not entirely concerned about Ensemble Studios seeking legal action (or even royalties). If things were to get to that point, my backup strategy is to require each user of the app to load their own sound files onto the SD card while keeping the rest of the code intact.


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