Big in Japan

Cupcake is catastrophe, claims Big in Japan dev

Everyone's looking forward to Cupcake, right?  Not so fast, says Big in Japan - the team behind the popular ShopSavvy application - Android 1.5 presents more than a few problems for developers.  According to Alexander Muse, applications currently running on Android won't necessarily be compatible with Cupcake 1.5; that means a mad rush to download the new firmware and rebuild their software. Compounding the problem is the fact that the Android Market won't allow more than one version of an app, which means developers aren't able to simply create a new, 1.5-friendly update and leave the existing version in place for those without Cupcake.  Instead, Big in Japan face creating a new build that's also backward compatible with earlier versions of Android, something they conservatively estimate should normally take around two to three weeks of development. However according to some reports, Cupcake will be pushed as an over-the-air to Android device owners in just two days, and it's already live in Spain.  That means three weeks of development needs to be squashed into two days, never-mind any time for testing:
"The good news is that we will release our new version whenever Cupcake is pushed OTA to users.  The bad news it will be untested.  It will have bugs, bugs that we will fix.  Please bear with us and realize that we don’t have much choice in the matter" Alexander Muse, Big in Japan
As Alexander notes, the Big in Japan team are likely more prepared for the coding challenge ahead than many others, particularly those part-time developers who have been cooking up Android apps in their spare time.  The public perception of Android as a platform depends in no small part on the success and stability of its third-party software; have Google shot themselves in the foot by allowing carriers to rush out Cupcake 1.5? [Image via]

Help ShopSavvy Win the Crunchies 2008 Best Mobile App award

The Crunchies 2008 awards are coming up and our friends over at Big In Japan are in the running for Best Mobile App of 2008. ShopSavvy is not only an award winning application, but one of our favorite applications and is going to need the communities help in order to stand up against some of the iPhone’s apps. If you wouldn’t mind taking a trip over to the Crunchies Awards page and casting a vote for them it would be fantastic. They really have a shot at winning this award and we feel they deserve it more than anything. The developers over at Big In Japan have put countless hours of support into making sure Shopsavvy is as up to date as possible. All it takes is 5 seconds of your time and two clicks of a button to cast the vote. On a side note tell us what you think of the application. Where does it exceed expectations and where can it use a bit of improvement. Your input helps this application get better every day.

aTrackDog flawed and deceiving

The new applications aTrackDog is designed to help users make sure that their applications are up to date. This application in theory would be a perfect solution to a flawed update system on Android. aTrackDog works by sending information about your currently installed apps over to the a0soft.com servers then checks all available applications for updates and notifies you if there are any. aTrackDog though has a “MAJOR” design flaw, if a beta tester is also an aTrackDog users then all users of aTrackDog will get a notification that there is an update when in reality the application is up to date.  The guys over at Big In Japan learned this first hand when they received plenty of email stating that users could not download the newest version of ShopSavvy.
“Starting on Friday we began getting emails from aTrackDog users who complained that they could not download the latest release of our software.  Our current version is 3.0.0, but aTrackDog showed that our most recent version was 3.0.5 (an internal alpha version).  We DO have a public beta running at 3.0.4, but the most recent public/stable release (i.e. the one in the Market) is 3.0.0.  aTrackDog is listing 3.0.5 as our latest release so each aTrackDog user receives an alert that they need to update their version of ShopSavvy.  Our users are becoming more and more frustrated as their emails reveal.”
aTrackDog’s only suggestion to developers at Big In Japan was to suggest users to select ‘Not Track this version’ in the aTrackDog settings. aTrackDog needs to really step it up a notch here because developers should not have disclaimers and notes for each conflicting application that is later released. Developers do not have any control over what their beta testers use on their phones. Rylan went on to say in an email to aTrackDog developers:
“I think your method of version tracking is very clever.  You managed to let your users’ phones do the difficult data-collection for you.  Unfortunately your strategy is not 100%, it’s not sustainable.  When there are 10,000 applications in the Market and half of them are releasing private versions how will you handle the flood of support emails and admin emails coming your way? I recommend that you change your model such that it includes some sort of review process first.  When a new version is submitted to your database, before you notify the world, you should go verify its existence first.  This would include either finding it in the Market or updating the URL for manual download.”
Big In Japan believes the real purpose of this application is for gaining data market intelligence. With this application they are able to see how many people are using which applications. Data such as this is “VERY valuable” and should compensate those giving the data in some way rather than give false information to users about current versions. Big In Japan, as do I suggest that you uninstall this application as it isn’t useful and will likely cause confusion. [Via BigInJapan]

ShopSavvy reportedly does not work with unlocked handsets

We just found out that users who unlock their G1 will not be able to use the ShopSavvy application on their Android-powered handset. For the time being ShopSavvy is only available if you have a SIM card for a country that they currently support (US, UK, Germany, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Holland, Japan and China). This issue was first reported when A Phoenix user phoned ShopSavvy developers, Big In Japan, reporting that the application was not in the Android market.  Turns out the user did not have a compatible SIM card in their G1; this creates a problem with the application being “internalized” for each market. By not having a SIM card your location cannot be found resulting in the application not showing up. Developers say that if more users go the unlocked route they may adapt accordingly to fit the overall needs of customers, but until then users with an unlocked G1 are simply out of look.

AndroidDevCamp 1 being held in Dallas

Today an event called AndroidDevCamp is being held in Dallas Texas to help developers prepare for further developing for the Android platform. Developers will be able to learn from not one but two of the Android Developers Challenge winners.

Jason Hudgins, developer that worked on Tunewiki (and that is now a part of ShopSavvy), along with Rylan Barnes, the original developer of GoCart (now known as ShopSavvy) will be demonstrating their applications and sharing development experience on Google’s Android platform. Basic points that will be covered during the camp are: How to get started on Android, Google’s Android Developers I and II, lessons learned in the development of ShopSavvy and understanding Android fundamentals. The event will include breakout sessions where developers can share ideas and form working groups to begin building Android apps. AndroidDevCamp 1 in Dalas is being sponsored by SpringStage and hosted in the Big in Japan/Architel offices located in the Dallas INFOMART. They can support around 75 'campers' for the day. AndroidDevCamp is organized by Anuj Bhatia, Alexander Muse, Rylan Barnes and Jason Hudgins. If you are interested in sponsoring, helping, organizing or hosting an event please email Alexander Muse at amuse 'at' m-ven.com. Event location: Infomart 1950 Stemmons Fwy Suite 2022 Dallas, TX 75207 Photo courtesy of Android Community member heyitsnan. [Via Upcoming - Yahoo]

T-Mobile G1 hands-on: Award-Winning Android App feature ShopSavvy

We had a little bit of time today to get an exclusive one on one time with the G1 for our Android Community members, at a special developers event held in Dallas. The company behind Google Application Challenge award winning app ShopSavvy, Big In Japan - were there, demonstrating the software in action on a G1.

The G1 phone was quick and responsive as when we played with it at the launch event last week. We were able to get hands on time with the full version of ShopSavvy. We scanned a barcode (for demonstration purposes, a Logitech webcam) and were able to compare prices online as well as at many stores in the area. No word on when the application will be released, or if it will be a free application or one in which you must purchase. We can imagine it would be particularly useful for all the Christmas shopping coming up over the next few months.  One particularly useful feature is price alert, allowing you to save products to a wish-list that updates you when the product is discounted into your pre-set price range. Check out the video interview we did with Big In Japan here. [gallery]

Big in Japan Exclusive Video Interview

Android Community had an invite to spend some time with developers Big in Japan, the team behind GoCart which was one of the ten apps to win $275,000 in Google's Android Developer Challenge.  Ewdison Then, our resident Linux expert, made the trip over to their Dallas offices to ask them about the motivation behind GoCart, why the team decided to focus on Android, and what most excites them about the platform and its future.
"Finally people are going to think of their phones as something more than a way to talk to their friends" Rylan Barnes, Big in Japan
GoCart is a mobile shopping comparison app, that uses the camera on an Android device to scan a product's barcode. Once recognized, the app checks pricing for the product in online stores; however, it also uses GPS to find local stores and query their inventory, offering alternative places to shop if you're not willing to wait for delivery. Alternatively, users can set a price band they'd be willing to pay, and choose to be alerted when the product drops to that price.
"The Android platform, being open, really creates a lot of opportunities for us, where you can decide what you want the phone to look like: is it a phone or an internet device? Really that line becomes blurred with the Android platform. With the iPhone platform, it's a really closed environment that's really neat - it's a phone, and it does really neat things - but you have to play by Apple's rules, and Apple's rules say "right now, you can't touch the camera", the SDK doesn't let you manipulate that. There're all sorts of things that you can't necessarily do with the iPhone platform" Alexander Muse, Big in Japan
In the interview, Ewdi and the Big in Japan team discuss Android versus Apple SDKs, how they see the platform benefiting from having Google behind it, and the problems an open-source, multi-device OS faces in trying to stand up to a more managed environment like the iPhone. They also touch on the possibility of carriers and device manufacturers creating their own custom Android builds, and what impact that could have on code development. Our thanks again to the Big in Japan team for the invite. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWngmkwXaAM[/youtube]