Product Engineering // Blog

Google Android lab in the HQ

Today I was lucky enough to participate in the Android Developers Lab here in NYC. The lab was focused on changes to Honeycomb and focusing on bringing apps developed for the phones to tablets. The lab focused on the following areas:

• A Honeycomb overview (presented by the legend Romain Guy)

• Android market upcoming changes

• Google TV

• Peer evaluations

• A fragment lab

• General discussion



I am not going to bore all of you with a diatribe of everything that went on, but below is a list of the key points:

• Fragments. Fragments are here to stay and we should start using them across all apps (even current non tablet apps). The entire Android paradigm is changing and getting used to Fragments even on our current apps is a good thing. If you haven’t looked at the Fragment API you definitely should, we should replace most of our dialogs, listviews and preferences with it. Essentially Diane Hackburn and the rest of the Android team, took a step back, and assessed what they did wrong in the first implementation of Android, and used Honeycomb as a way to make what was wrong, right….

• There is a good example of using Fragments from Google I/O and from today that I checked into our Test repository (sorry! Applico only!)

• The loader class. I had no idea the loader class existed, but essentially they created it because everyone is using ManagedCursors on the UI thread. The Android team saw this as an issue and instead of using the AsyncTasks all over the place to take the cursors off the UI thread they introduced loaders. Not too shabby

• They STRESSED the use of dimensions for sizing of certain elements. There is a dimensions.xml file you can create to size “like” UI elements.

• Google TV is basically a large Android display with no native support and less resources. Best practices include making use of the Dpad, every google box is going to come with a dpad like remote control (unless we roll our own) so make use of it

• There is a new Android Market API that is coming out by the end of the year that will allow us to manually check for updates from the market (this is useful for preinstalled apps)

• The Android team escalated the known MediaPlayer and MediaRecorder bugs on 2.3.4 that deal with positioning and audio truncation issues.


Those are the big issues – other than that I got to participate in some peer reviews and saw the HBO and new US Open apps which are not optimized for tablets. I still think some Android developers don’t know how to design for a tablet nor how to handle it, but pretty interesting and certainly educational.


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