Android 11 Gripes

11

You have to make allowances for the fact that many people are working from home (where maybe it's harder to test code and you certainly can't do hallway usability testing). Things also improved somewhat with the October patch. But Android 11 was a Windows ME level disaster. Google says that they dropped the desserts to make Android 'more accessible to a global audience' but I think it's probably because they know that new updates are no longer sweet.

Multi-tasking is completely broken. In pandemic mode I'm on video calls all day, and dodging the 2-3 video calls that are usually going on elsewhere in my house. Being able to have Teams and notes running at the same time is pretty important right now and with 11 it's not possible.

Other than conference calls and Kindle the other main use I have for my phone is podcasts. Android 11 improved the media controls by moving them to the quick settings area of the notification shade, providing easy switching between playback devices and allowing you to swipe through recent playback apps. All good, except that none of it works. The controls are there but do nothing so I have to run the app to pause. Also, there is a weird ghost of a previous media playback that shows up and then disappears when pulling down the notification shade. And as for dismissing previous sessions that seems to require a reboot.

Multi-tasking and media were fixed in the most recent patch, but there is also some new notification system to separate out conversations. In practice this seems to mean I get multiple groups of Gmail and Teams notifications instead of a single cluster per app. This isn't what I want, gives me more work to do and so far I haven't found a way to turn it off. Notifications have steadily improved over the last few major Android releases so it's upsetting to see them becoming worse.

This is all on a Pixel 4XL which you would assume would get some level of testing love. It used to be that the main advantage of a Pixel was getting new versions of Android quickly. With 11 I'm for the first time wishing I was waiting a few months while the kinks were worked out.

Catfood: Earth for Android 1.10

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Catfood Earth for Android 1.10

I’ve just released Catfood Earth for Android 1.10. You can control the center of the screen manually (the most requested new feature) and also tweak the transparency of each layer and the width of the terminator between day and night. It also starts a lot faster and has fewer update glitches. Grab it from Google Play if this looks like your sort of live wallpaper.

Catfood: Earth for Android

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

EarthForAndroid

I’ve just released Catfood Earth for Android. It’s my second app created with Xamarin’s excellent toolkit. Being able to develop in C# allowed me to reuse a lot of code from the Windows version of Catfood Earth. The Android version doesn’t include all the same layers (yet) but it’s got the main ones – daytime (twelve different satellite images included, based on NASA’s Blue Marble Next Generation but with some special processing to make them look better), nighttime (city lights, shaded to show nighttime and the terminator between day and night) and a clouds layer that is downloaded every three hours.

My main worry had been that this would suck the phone battery dry, but after a fair amount of optimization it doesn’t even register on the battery consumption list. Grab it now from Google Play ($3.99, Android 2.2 or better).

Share a picture in MonoDroid

Updated on Sunday, September 30, 2018

Here’s how to share a picture to Facebook, Twitter and so forth from MonoDroid:

A fun mix of Java and C#. The directory got me to start with so check to see if the ExternalCacheDir is available and if not fall back to the internal CacheDir. Frustratingly Facebook doesn’t pick up on the text associated with an image regardless of the intent ExtraWhatever specified.

Catfood: WebCams for Android

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Catfood WebCams for Android

I’ve just released a WebCam app for Android. It’s based on WebCamSaver but allows you to control the webcam – you tap the edges of the screen to pan, pinch to zoom in and out. A fun little time waster.

This is the first app I’ve released using Xamarin’s MonoDroid framework. This integrates nicely into Visual Studio and allows you to program an Android app in C#. This is fantastic for productivity and code reuse and I enjoyed the process a lot more than previous work I’ve done in Java / Eclipse. The main drawback is that the framework adds around 5MB (significant for mobile) and the documentation isn’t always the best, especially when you search for something and find out you’ve been dumped into iOS reference material. Digging around the sample code and cross-referencing the official Android documentation helps a lot. I’m going to take a stab at something a little more ambitious next…