Friday, April 30, 2010

Android Developer Console Implements Error Tracking

It's been a while since I've praised an Android Market feature, especially from the developer side, but I have to give them props today.

They've implemented what they're calling a "Feedback Experiment" in the developer portal, where developers upload and maintain their apps. At first, I thought this was referring to market comments, but when I launched the feature, I saw that it was an error tracking console, indicating freezes and crashes from each app. The information includes the date, device model, error, and a stack trace!

I had put in manual error tracking in my more popular apps because none of the analytics packages I've tried handle error tracking worth a squat. But my implementation is pretty clunky. Basically, if the app crashes, the next time the user opens it, they're prompted to send an email with the stack trace and some device information. Now I can take that code out of those apps.

Very nice, Android Team. Thanks.

EDIT (5/1/10): And today it's gone. That was a short experiment. Hopefully it will be up again soon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Announcing the Polyclef Software May Giveaway!




During the month of May we're giving away lots of cool stuff.

Starting May 2nd, every week we're going to give away a vinyl Android figurine to three customers. And at the end of the month, one lucky customer will win a brand new Motorola DROIDTM!

The Android figurines are sturdy vinyl toys and measure approximately 3.5"x2"x2". Here are some pictures:

Winners will be announced per the schedule listed below, via our blog:

And our Twitter feed:

If you win, we pay the shipping costs!

Official Rules:

To qualify for the weekly and monthly drawings, purchase an app published by Polyclef Software through the Android Market. Each purchase qualifies as one (1) entry. So if you purchase 10 apps that week, you have 10 chances to win. Purchases must be valid, i.e., valid purchases do not include returns, payment denied, or disputed transactions.

Purchase a paid app from us between:

May 2-8, 2010 (drawing on May 9th; winners announced May 10th)
May 9-15, 2010 (drawing on May 16th; winners announced May 17th)
May 16-22, 2010 (drawing on May 23rd; winners announced May 24th)
May 23-29, 2010 (drawing on May 30th; winners announced May 31st)

A purchase within any week range above qualifies for that week's drawing for a free Android figurine. Any purchase that falls within any of the dates above qualifies for the Grand Prize, a brand new Motorola DroidTM. The winner of the DroidTM will be announced on May 31st.

You must be 18 or over and live in the the continental US to be eligible for this promotion. Those announced as winners must contact Polyclef Software within 2 weeks to claim their prize.

Polyclef Apps on the Android Market (link only works from Android devices)

Website Links:

Polyclef Apps

Polyclef Games

AndroidTM and the robot character design are copyright Google, Inc. and used under the terms of the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License. DROIDTM is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. and its related companies.

Friday, April 23, 2010

WordWise Preview

Here are some screen shots from our upcoming 2-player crossword game for Android. It's called WordWise. There will be a free version with ads, limited to 3 concurrent games, and a full version with no ads and unlimited games. We haven't made a decision yet on pricing for the full version.

We're going to try to get it in good shape to release in about a week. At that point it may still be a little rough around the edges, so we'd like to get feedback about the interface and game play.

I'm pretty excited about this game. I think there's going to be huge demand for it on Android.

Say Hello to My Little Friend

The Android robot character design is licensed under the Creative Commons License, which means anybody can use the likeness in any design or product as long as they give proper attribution.

I was inspired by other Android-related products to commission the production of a run of Android vinyl toys. Production took a while, but the shipment finally came in today. Here's a pic of one of these little dudes:

They stand about 3 inches tall, and the vinyl is one solid piece, so you won't have to worry about parts popping off.

Very soon Polyclef will be running a promotion to give some away. Stay tuned!

AndroidTM and the robot character design are copyright Google, Inc. and used under the terms of the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution License.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Languishing Android OS Versions

Google has a nice page here showing the ratios of the various versions of the Android OS running on existing devices. As you can see (if you visit the link), only about 30% of current users are on devices running 2.0 or higher.

This is sad. What's even sadder is that manufacturers are releasing new devices that are running versions earlier than 2.0.

This is particularly sad because Philip and I are working on a shiny new game that's going to be very, very awesome, and it only runs on 2.0. Why? Because we're using Google App Engine as the server, and to log in and authenticate to GAE, you have to have a Google Account. Android devices require a Google Account, and allow developers to write code that allows the user to login and authenticate Google services (such as Reader, Calendar, Gmail, and GAE) without have to enter their account information.

Sounds great, huh? It is, but the AccountManager API that allows this is only included in Android 2.0 on. We started working on an Android/GAE framework last year, and in that time I'd hoped that at least 1.5 would have been phased out and that the majority of users would by now be on 2.0. Alas, such is not the case.

The game is coming along very nicely, and hopefully will be ready for prime time within a few weeks. At that point we'll go ahead and release it, even though it will only work on a third of Android devices. Another option is to either release another version that will allow the user to manually enter their credentials. But then we'd have two versions of the app on the market, which would suck. Right now we're just going to plow ahead with the current version. When the time comes, it might be worthwhile to release two versions, though I hope we don't have to do that. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


This week I saw an app request for a virtual receipt booklet on one of the Android Forums and I thought "Hm, I wonder how hard that would be to do?" The post pointed out that there are a lot of apps that let you take pictures of physical receipts, but what he wanted was a template that was editable, and more importantly, that the recipient of funds could sign with their finger. I started out trying to figure out how to accomplish that last bit, and ended up cranking out the app in just a few hours. Here's a screen shot:

The app lets you edit any field enclosed in a box just by tapping on the field, then typing a new value. The signature field is signable with your finger. Menu options let you save the receipt as a .jpg to your SD card and/or email it as an attachment to an email straight from the app. So you can write out a receipt virtually, have someone sign it on your device, and immediately email it to yourself and the recipient with a click.

If you have an Android device and need to write receipts on the fly, check it out.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Polyclef Has a Twitter Feed

Yes, I've joined the hive mind. Still not creating a personal feed, but a business feed for Twitter makes sense as a way to announce new apps, updates, price changes, and promotions.

I've also added a Twitter module to the blog (see it over there to the right?). You can follow Polyclef's feed just by clicking the Follow link.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's Raining Android Phones!

Earlier this year I registered for Google I/O, their big annual developer conference. Last year, participants got a free Android phone. Well, this year they got them, too, a bit early.

Everyone who registered for Google I/O is apparently getting either a new Nexus One or a Droid...looks like all US attendees get a Droid. Sounds like they want devs unfamiliar with the platform to get their hands dirty before they come to conference, so they're possibly in a better position to get more out of the talks. Sounds like a good plan, only it doesn't do a whole lot for me. I already have a Droid (it's my primary phone), and I'm already fairly experienced with developing for Android.

Still, it's a cool gift. I don't have any friends or family who could use the phone, so I was thinking of either selling it (boring), or possibly running a promotional giveaway. The device still probably won't get here for 2 or three weeks, so I've got a bit of time to decide.