Category Archives: archived

Native apps in their infancy

In the face of the popular, simplified, ideas about HTML5 as the saviour of mobile development, it is begininning to feel hard to defend the definitely old-school-style of native development for iOS and Android.

The steps in development seem not to have really progressed that much since the dawn of time ; Want a User Interface ? Code, comment, compile, link, test, check-in … same as its ever been. Eclipse and other IDE’s are great tools, no doubt, but they are still hard-core programmer tools, requiring complex setup and requiring deep understanding of the tool itself to make them really hum. Xcode meanwhile faces few of the issues that Eclipse does, but the creation of a UI for an app, and the tying of that UI to the code is no less complex.

Where are the tools that allow the really easy visual design of native User Interfaces with integration to visual design tools ? Why is it so complex to just get started – particularly with iOS developer certificates, provisioning profiles and the rest – and why is the process of pushing an app out to through the app stores a pain ?

My hypothesis is that the processes and tools are at the end of their very first iteration (or errortation as a a colleague used to say), however I’m worried that a closed shop such as Apple will be slow to see or address the shortcomings of their toolset while they are reaping the rewards from the iTunes store. There might be a high technical hurdle to iOS coding, but it is still resulting in many thousands of apps being created on a daily basis.

I don’t have a specific view on what the next iteration of tools might bring, but frameworks with a generative nature like rails, and languages/environments like Scratch hint at a different way of doing things. Nothing particularly new about either of these, but I would like to see more smart tools that take away the drudgery and bring a new accessibility that means the number of apps will multiply exponentially from where it is now. Tools that will support the coming boom in DIY devices and 3D models from maker-land.

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Back to Nokia

For my upcoming holiday I’ve decided I need to have a phone with a decent camera, that is capable of taking HD video. Investigating this, it seems that there are many phones around that purport to do HD video, but there are few that are highly rated.

The phone-geeks here in the office say that there is still only one that stands head and shoulders above the rest, in terms of image quality, flash and lens … the Nokia N8.

Surprise !

So while Nokia have chosen to compromise the ID of the phone in favour of high quality images/video (the Carl Zeiss lens is so big that it forms an fairly unattractive bump on the outside of the phone which they’ve tried their best to disguised) – they obviously have their principles – and I’ll be taking an N8 to the US with me instead of an iPhone/HTC/Blackberry/ …

[UPDATE] Well, the N8 didn’t work out as expected. It was so complex to get around the camera functions that I decided not to take it on holiday. The image quality is good, but not so good that I’d swap out my iPhone. So, my holiday equipment was an iPhone for the snaps and opportunistic shots, and a Sony DSLR for the serious ones.

More on the Nokia and Microsoft tie up

The Nokia and Microsoft tie up is starting to permeate through the industry, and with it is more general confusion about how this will play out. Particularly this is being seen as just another change of direction for Nokia, and more fragmentation of their interests and software platforms.

How will Symbian continue to rollout, and what really is the future of Meego are the 2 main questions.

My guesses are that :

  • Even the die-hard Symbian developer community will now stop working on the platform, slowing their interest in Qt down to see if it stays the course. Talk of WinMo having support for Qt is a furfy in my opinion.
  • Symbian will continue its downward move through the device portfolio, effectively frozen – in much the same way that Series 40 was initially frozen (only to be somewhat revived recently as its life has been extended over and over again). At the same rate, Symbian could still be appearing on phones out into 2016.
  • Meego will never make it beyond the single device slated for 2011, which is most likely a minimum commitment that Nokia made to Intel. This device is most likely in the very late stages of production and so there is no point in stopping it now. Meego may reemerge on some future Intel or Nokia device, but not for several years if at all.
  • Windows Mobile 7 will go through an update to fix some of the outstanding areas of poor experience (e.g. web browsing is painfully slow), and to ready it properly for the Nokia platforms.
  • Nokia will rollout an already beefed up platform to suit Windows Mobile (7.5 ?)
  • Nokia will engage a new Industrial design team to update their increasingly outdated look, and engage very different internal UI and app designers to put a Finnish-spin on OVI for Windows Marketplace and other key services.
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