In the latest version of our Extension Development Kit (EDK 2.0), which will let you create app extensions for the Timescape and Music player apps in Sony Xperia™ phones, we’ve included some useful new API features. For example, you can now include the number of user reactions for your Timescape™ event. You can also make it possible for the end user to interact with an event object in the Timescape™ spline, without launching a detailed view. These updates will make it easier to create compelling app extensions that stand out. A bunch of developers have already created their own EDK extensions – learn more after the jump!
The EDK is great way for you as a developer to maximise the visibility and value of your app, by creating extensions to either the Timescape™ app or the Music player in Sony Xperia™ phones. By doing this, your app will be displayed when an end user searches for Timescape™ extensions on Google Play, or as an option when an end user taps the Infinite key in the Music player. You can read more about this in the EDK overview page on Developer World.
- Photo Timescape and Music Timescape – two useful Timescape™ extensions to display your latest photos and music tracks in the Timscape™ spline, published by Mobile Solution Works.
- News Timescape – a Timescape™ extension that displays the latest news from BBC, The Sun, Daily Mail, NY Times and ABC news in the Timescape™ app. It’s published by Pallavi Kalyanam, who has created a vast number of EDK extensions. Feel free to check out some of her other useful extensions.
- mora touch– a Music player extension for one of Japan’s biggest online video and music stores, published by Label Gate Co., Ltd., which is a joint venture of 17 major Japanese record companies. This is perhaps one of the most downloaded EDK extensions, as it has been downloaded between 1-5 million times.
Timescape™ developer spotlight – Pallavi Kalyanam
But what’s really the truth about these figures, and how’s it like to develop the extensions? We got in contact with Pallavi Kalyanam to hear what she thinks:
– The outcome has been awesome and overwhelming. I received a lot of mails thanking me and suggesting new extensions ideas. I didn’t know there are so many people who like and use Timescape on daily basis. Especially the “YouTube Timescape” and “SonyEricsson Blogs Timescape” were more appreciated.
Pallavi, who is actually still developing new extensions as she gets new ideas, means it’s quite convenient to develop them:
– It was easier than I thought to create the extensions. And the EDK was so helpful. The examples were very clear and easy to understand. The RSS extension sample was really helpful when I created my first Android app.
Right now Pallavi is working on two new extensions which will be called Weather Now Timescape, and 3DAY Weather Timescape, which will show weather updates every three hours and the weather for the next coming three days. If you’re interested in these, remember to check Google Play soon to download them.
So if you haven’t created a Timescape or Music player extension before, maybe now it’s the time? In EDK 2.0, the possibilities to create compelling extensions for Timescape or the Music player have increased a lot. Read on to learn more about the recently added features!
New API features
So what’s new in EDK 2.0 then? Well, we’ve strengthened the connection between Timescape™ and social network updates by adding and improving a number of “social” API features (in the Event Stream API, which is used by Timescape™ extended apps and services to feed data to into the Timescape™ app in Sony Xperia™ smartphones).
The new API features allow you to create unique Timescape™ presentations, which will make it easier for end users to respond to posts directly inside of the Timescape™ application. This means these new features are good tools to get an increased number of interactions to your service. These API features are also backwards compatibility with previous EDK releases, which means that existing Timescape™ or Music player-related apps work on newer Sony Xperia™ smartphones. The new API features include the option to:
- Provide more sender info – Ever since we introduced the EDK 1.0, it has been possible for EDK developers to indicate how an event is related to the end user. It could, for example, be a message directed to the logged-in user on a social network service. But there used to be no possibility to show the display name or profile image. In EDK 2.0, we have added the option to provide such information – for example display name, profile image link and so on. Please see the “MeColumns” section in the Event Stream API Javadoc the Timescape extensions code example & documentation kit for more information.
The Timescape™ Friends widget showing an aggregated view of events (from different sources) that are related to the end user.
- Perform actions on the event object directly – In EDK 2.0, it’s possible for developers to specify which user actions can be performed on an event object. This allows the end user to act on, or perform a particular action, in relation to the event object in Timescape™ without launching the Event detail view, which used to be the case before. This saves the user an extra step for performing the action, without having to launch a separate UI for the actual application.
For instance, if the event object is a status update message about a photo on a social network service, the possible user actions on this object might be Comment, Like, Favourite, Share and Tag. Now if you supply this user action information to the Event Stream API in your Timescape™ extended app, it may enable Timescape™ to show the Comment button in the same display area as the event object text.
As a developer, you then have an option to attach several user actions to the event object, although not all of them may be shown in Timescape™. It might be wise to only attach the most commonly used user actions to event objects, as the screen real estate is limited, and it’s not possible to display many user actions. If you want to know more on how to do this, check out the “SourceActionColumns” and “ActionColumns” section of the Event Stream API document in the Timescape extensions code example & documentation kit. The EDK 2.0 sample code, available in the same kit, also shows how to implement this.
- Show how many people have performed an action – as a developer, you may now also include the number of user reactions, such as the number of people who have Liked the event object, or the number of people who have made the event object a Favourite. This information may encourage users to interact with the event object more often, and thereby increase the engagement. Check out the “COUNT – ActionColumns” section of the Event Stream API document in the Timescape extensions code example & documentation kit for more information.
Introducing a new widget – Timescape™ Friends!
Besides the new API features in EDK 2.0, a nice new thing in our 2012 Xperia™ smartphones is the widget called Timescape™ Friends. This widget makes use of the new API features described above in a good way. With Timescape™ Friends, you can get all the information about your friends’ activities directed towards you – Facebook messages and images they’ve posted about you, tweets addressed to you, personal comments to posts, emails to you, and more – all from the widget. And with the “Me” slot, you will see a collection of events directed to you as the user – personal SMSs, personal Facebook messages, personal emails – whatever you want.
You can also use Timescape™ Friends to quickly interact with and respond quickly to posts, without having to launch each social media app.
The screenshot above shows the Timescape™ Friends widget in action. The best part is that if you’ve already implemented a Timescape™ extension to your social network app, you can easily add the functionalities of the “Me” collected data using the new API features listed above to the current implementation. The Friends widget can use all the functionalities your app extension comes with by using the API!
What do you say app developers, are you thinking of creating a Timescape™ estensions? Feel free to download the EDK and try it out. If you have any questions, check out the EDK FAQ section or the EDK forum thread on Google Groups. Happy developing!
Thanks to Whui Mei Yeo for contributing to this article.
- Learn how to download and install on the EDK 2.0 overview page.
- Check out the most common questions and answers on the EDK FAQ page.
- Download code examples and learn more about Timescape extensions.
- Download code examples and learn more about Music player extensions.
- Ask a question about the EDK in the EDK forum thread on Google Groups.