Android: A Beginning

Well, it seems I have finally done it! Amidst a busy senior year schedule, I have finally managed to dabble a bit in mobile computing and Android specifically. It wasn’t clean, it wasn’t straightforward. Reason: Maybe it was the book I was reading, but the paradigms of mobile computing are significantly different from your normal desktop power machines. I actually spent more time reading up on how the new limitations of mobile devices impose unique restrictions on us that prompt us to look at solutions differently. Kinda like parallel programming (more on that soon!).

You could say that my foray into this field started very dryly, like studying theoretical computer science even before you can write a single line of code. While the inverse is abundant (many programmers aren’t even aware of the subject), this approach is good and bad. Good, because I understand the philosophy I need to follow to write good apps for these devices without resorting to premature optimization – the root of all evil. Bad, because it was boring and delayed my explorations significantly. Yes, I said boring as in drab, dull, bugging! I had way more fun making the app rather than reading on why Android is a great software platform. The only reason I continued reading that book is because it was highly recommended and covered almost all aspect of Android, including location-based services. Well, enough of the cynicism now, eh?
My first app was a real goody! I had an idea for an app way back in 2010, but never got around to coding it up – till now that is! A simple friend arrival notification system that uses your and your friend’s location to help you co-ordinate better, it is by no means trivial and I am still far away from a release version (blame my final year college schedule 😛 ). The basic structure is up and running both on the emulator as well as my Android phone, so it seems that the app is heading the right way. Will definitely keep you posted on any new insights.

Better was the next day, when I had a free afternoon and decided to do a quick hack! I had promised a girl an app for playing the famous Name-Place-Animal-Thing game, and that is exactly what I ended up making. A simple app, it displays a new character each time you press a button. Not spectacular, I know (what can you expect from a noob in just 1.5 hours?), but I have a tower of improvements for that app as well and it will hopefully see the light of day soon.

Finally, what I really want to put across is that Android is cool and it is fun. Being free (as in free beer), it was a cinch to setup and the integration with Eclipse is the icing! The best part now is, I can not only skip some pages in the book I was reading, but I now have a new platform to experiment on and the possibilities are currently limitless. My Senior project on Facial Expression Analysis could become a mobile app for all you know! 😀

Till next time then, eat-sleep-code! Eviva!!

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