Reducing power consumption of connected apps

This post covers a few important guidelines on how reduce power consumption of polling Android applications, i.e. applications that regularly connect to the internet. Attached is a small sample project that puts all of the tricks into practice by setting up a background service that polls Twitter trends regularly and logs them to a file. By downloading the sample app and applying these guidelines, you will reduce the power consumption of your app by magnitudes, if you haven’t before.
We will cover four guidelines:
1. Synchronize you polls with other apps
2. Make polls short
3. Manage your connections
4. Stop your services

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Three questions to Henrik Lindau, visiting the Game Developers Conference™ Europe

Today is the last day of the Game Developers Conference™ Europe in Cologne, Germany. To get a hint of the hot topics I called my colleague Henrik Lindau, Partner manager at Sony Ericsson, who’s visiting this conference.

What are you doing at the Game Developers Conference™ Europe?
- I’m are here to check out the latest trends, to learn more about the industry, to learn more on how people are making money on games, and to see what games are best suited to include in our future phones. I’m also meeting a number of interesting partners in the industry, to see if there are any interesting collaboration opportunities, Henrik says.

What‘s in focus at this conference?
- I must say social games. Games where you combine classic game elements, your friends and social networks, and put it in a massive multiplayer environment. Many people and companies are focusing on this growing segment. Related to this, there is also a lot of focus on what games will be big in the future. For example, how casual games that you just play for a few minutes at a time will evolve and co-exist with the classic hardcore games that you play concentrated for a longer period of time. Some people say that casual games are already the new hardcore games.  The million dollar question is however how to make money out of your game. And there seems to be many different answers to that question. Many people seem to be looking at ads as a growing source of income for games though, at least when it comes to social games. 

What’s your biggest impression?
-
The one thing that strikes me the most is the fact that everyone is interested in games now. Success stories like Farmville, with up to 40 million daily users, has really opened a lot people’s eyes. But still some people say that we have only seen the tip of an iceberg. That’s where I see Sony Ericsson playing a big part. For example, by including a really interesting game in a phone, we can elevate new exciting cross platform game propositions. Users can play parts of the same game on the phone, on the computer and maybe on other platforms too, for example Facebook. Cross platform games will be an important part of the game industry in the coming years, Henrik sums it up.

Visit the Game Developers Conference™ Europe web site to find out more on this event.

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The Xperia™ X10 now available in the U.S. market

The greatly anticipated Sony Ericsson Xperia™ X10 is now available to U.S. customers, as you might have seen in the announcement from AT&T and Sony Ericsson.  This surely is welcome news if you’re in the U.S. and keen to get your hands on the Xperia™ X10. What’s especially interesting with AT&T’s offer is the price – $149.99 on a two contract and minimum data plan. Sounds like a fair deal, right?

For developers, Sony Ericsson has put together an add-on for the Android™ SDK, including the splash screen, backgrounds, an Xperia™ X10 skin and some other stuff.

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When geolocation tries too hard

Disclaimer: Some of the information in this post is speculation from my part on how the Foursquare system works. I’d be happy to include any necessary corrections.

I’ve been a somewhat avid user of the two competing location check-in services Gowalla and Foursquare for quite some time. They’re similar enough for me to be able to pretty much use them both in the same way.

Until last week, while on vacation in Protaras, Cyprus. When I was visiting different establishments in Protaras town and couldn’t find them in one or either of the services, I – as usual – added them myself. Oddly enough, Foursquare kept telling me after I had added some of the places that I was too far from them to be able to check in (or, get the points and badges for the check-ins at least).

Being of an investigative mind, I started thinking about what could be the cause, and came upon the following explanation. In their effort to curb cheating, Foursquare matches my geo coordinates to street addresses, and then does a reverse lookup on the address they got and match it back to my coordinates when I try to check in.

That system likely works well where the service they use to match coordinates to street addresses is of high enough granularity, but causes the problem I experienced in areas less detailed. In Protaras, the main street is a mile or so long and all locations are matched to “Protaras Main St”. The reverse geo lookup for that main street results in coordinates placed in the middle of its full length – and thus whenever you’re at an establishment at the beginning or end of the street, Foursquare’s cheat detection system kicks in.

This, then, becomes somewhat funny when you’re the one that just created the venue seconds before – as my recent tweet on the subject tried to capture:

While this specific example has a simple solution – anyone who just created a venue at a certain geographic location is likely at that certain geographic location no matter what the street address reverse lookup says – the point I’m trying to make is that while our automated systems keep getting smarter there are instances where we’re sometimes trying too hard. When we do, if there’s no possibility for the user of the system to correct the automation we cause frustration. Since we’re increasingly relying on crowd sourcing in mapping the world around us there’s very little room for frustrated users.

When context awareness and expert systems work, we seldomly notice them. When they fail, the result is often worse compared to not having tried at all.

It looks like you’re writing a letter. Would you like help?

More information:

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Android one finger zoom tutorial – Part 4

Welcome to the fourth and final part of the Android tutorial on how to make your own zoom control like the one used in Sony Ericsson X10 Mini in the Camera and Album applications. Click here to go to the prevoius part of this tutorial. As usual the source code is included, see below. Don’t forgett to download ‘Sony Ericsson Tutorials’ from Android market to see demos of this and other tutorials in action.

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Discover the new Xperia™ devices

Get the facts about the latest smartphones, tablets and wearables from Sony.

Making your own 3D list – Part 3 (final part)

Introduction

This is the third and final article in the series of how to make your own list view. Right now we have a basic working list with some nice graphics. Click here to go to the previus part of this tutorial. In this article we will add some behavior to our list and add the fling and bounce/snap effects. Fling support is in my view mandatory for any list where you navigate by touch. As a user I wouldn’t expect that the list simply stops when I lift my finger from the touch screen. If I give the list a velocity, I expect it to continue scrolling for a while, and gradually slow down until it comes to a halt. Fortunately, supporting fling is no big deal. In fact it’s very simple. Below is the source code for this part of the tutorial ready to be set up in e.g. Eclipse. And as usual: Don’t forget to download the ‘Sony Ericsson Tutorials’ app from Android market where all sample apps for this and other tutorials are collected.

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Xperia™ news!

As many of you probably saw yesterday Sony Ericsson announced a new product in the Xperia™ product line called X8. X8 brings together features from both X10 and X10 mini and will retail for under €200 in most markets. The X8 comes with a HVGA screen and a 3.2 mega pixel camera. Below is a short video showing what the X8 looks like.

More info on X8 and the Q3 update to Android 2.1 for X10 and X10 mini/pro can be found on our sister blog, the Sony Ericsson Product Blog

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Thoughts from Nordic Mobile Developers Summit 2010

Last Thursday I attended the first Nordic Mobile Developers Summit in Stockholm arranged by the Swedish magazine mobile.se. I gave a presentation with the highly innovative title “Android for Developers” where I gave some tips and insights into successful Android application development. It was a very well received session that I will mostly likely repeat in updated forms at later events. All the slides from the event can be found online.

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Sony Ericsson speaking at the Nordic Mobile Developers Summit

Tomorrow, the 10th of June, Erik Hellman from Sony Ericsson will be speaking at the Nordic Mobile Developers Summit in Stockholm where he will be talking about how to make a successful Android application. At Sony Ericsson Erik works as an architect for Android software and has been involved in the X10 mini project from the start. Erik has long experience from Sony Ericsson and is a well known speaker at conferences all over the world.

Erik will be blogging from the event so keep your eyes open for blog posts from Erik in the next few days.

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