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Mobile Development

Google Developer Summit 2015

By | Android, Apps, Cape Town, Cobi News, development, Events, Mobile Development, Uncategorized | No Comments

Cobi attended the Google Developer Summit on Tuesday, 25th August 2015. The event was organised by the Google Developers Group for Sub-Saharan Africa and was divided into two tracks: Android and Web Development/Cloud. The team attended the Android track to gain more knowledge on this rapidly changing platform.

The first of the morning’s talks was called “Building for the next billion users” and was presented by Abodunrinwa Toki, a software engineer at Google focusing on Android UI Toolkit and Google Docs. The talk discussed the challenges that developers face when developing Android apps for users in emerging markets. These challenges include:

  1. Smart data usage
  2. Minimising APK size
  3. Smooth and responsive user interface
  4. Minimising memory usage
  5. Minimising battery usage
  6. Optimising app architecture

The following talk gave us deep insights into Material Design and was presented by Takuo Suzuki, Developer Relations Japan Lead at Google. Takuo explained that Material Design is a set of design principles that unifies apps across all platforms whether it be mobile, web etc. The talk explained the four tenets of Material Design: tangible surfaces, print like design, meaningful motion and adaptive design, followed by a discussion of the design support library.

The afternoon was devoted to a code lab that was coordinated by Alex Koller. This gave developers an opportunity to experiment with the new material design features available in the design support library. We implemented some of the most common features such as Toolbar, RecyclerView, CoordinatorLayout, SnackBars and the FloatingActionButton.

Google Drive

A Mobile Developers Guide

By | Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, Mobile Development, Uncategorized, Windows Phone 7

App design is a thorny problem for most people. This is doubly true on mobile devices, where maintaining a sleek, user-friendly interface is trickier than it looks. Thankfully, there is a wealth of information on this subject, making it just a bit easier to decide on what an app should look like.

First is the  iPhone and Android site http://www.mobile-patterns.com/. Consisting of a gallery of the most successful apps (including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc), this site contains a list of categories that may be giving you problems. This list contains a handy menu of the most common features in apps, such as Lists, Camera Controllers and the like. Each page contains images of examples in practice, providing guidance on how to achieve a similar effect in apps currently being worked on.

Second is the iPhone only site http://pttrns.com/, which provides a similar service to the above site, albeit focused on iPhone. Apart from the magnifying glass enabling your cursor to see up close to the images, it’s all pretty similar to the site above. Where it differs though is selecting an image that you like doesn’t just display the image in a fuller size. Instead it takes you to all images listed on the site under the same app, along with a link to the iTunes website and ratings for the app.

Apart from the above sites, there exists a host of other sites in a similar vein. These include dribbble.com, www.lovelyui.com and www.androidpatterns.com. Sadly, these are all related to Android and iPhone, and I have been unable to find a site for BlackBerry devices. Thankfully, the BlackBerry site contains tips on how to create a standardised UI across BlackBerry devices. How to implement these features in code is a whole different problem. Hopefully I will address that in a future update!

Johann Van den Bergh

Mobile Software Developer

Cobi Interactive

Latest releases- VW Team Assist, News24 Samsung Smart TV and Sticky Art

By | Android, iPad, iPhone, Mobile Development, Releases, Web

In addition to numerous application updates, Cobi has recently developed an Android, web and iPhone app for Volkswagen Team Assist (commissioned by Amsterdam based FONKmobile), a Samsung TV app for News24, and our internal product division has created an iPad app called Sticky Art.

Team Assist is a driving schedule application for amateur football players in the Netherlands. The app gives users an overview of current and future games directly from the KNVB. Players can access the latest information about the games; see which team members are playing, the location of the next game, who is driving and where and when to meet.

The News24 application is the first locally developed Smart TV application in Africa. It allows users to access news content on their Smart TVs and navigate to stories or sections of interest using the remote as a cursor.

Sticky Art lets you design sticky-note art using your iPad. You can either create the design manually, or use the trace feature to convert a regular image into a sticky art. The app allows users to customise the window size, zoom in and out to get perspective of how the design will look and email or print the design from your iPad. A design inventory is also shown on your design so that you know how many stickies you need.

Download the VW Team Assist iPhone app

Download theVW Team Assist Android app

Download the VW Team Assist web app

Download the Sticky Art iPad app

The News24 app is accessible from the Samsung Apps Store via the Smart TV UI

 

Mobile Developer’s Guide To The Galaxy

By | development, Mobile Development, Uncategorized | No Comments

Although I’m mainly on the Java dev side at Cobi, I’m always interested in reading about various cross-platform solutions.

Yesterday I stumbled across a very nicely built, but simple, payments app – bill payments in South Africa – called POCiT. What I found interesting about this app, is that it is written using the J2ME Polish platform (Enough Software), and it has come a long way since I last checked it out. And I really liked the speed of the app compared to PhoneGap apps which can be really slow. I’ll try to write more on Polish at a later date.

But the reason for this post is that I found a great introduction to development on mobile platforms on the site. They call it the Mobile Developer’s Guide To The Galaxy and I recommend anyone interested in the field to download and read it. It gives a brief overview of all mobile platforms & how to develop for them; introduces many of the cross-platform development kits & also gives a rundown on mobile web apps. All in all, it is what it says it is – the guide to our galaxy.

Quick and Easy iPhone Gradients

By | development, iPad, iPhone, Mobile Development

The market for iPhone and iPad apps is competitive and sometimes a bit of extra eye-candy goes a long way. For a couple of projects I have had to give various items a gradient shaded background. There are two ways to do this. Core Graphics or Core Animation. Gradients in Core Graphics give you more customization and more control, but are more complex to implement, while gradients in Core Animation are simple, but may not be able to do everything you need. Here we are going to look are the fast Core Animation approach.

Make sure you #import <QuartzCore/QuartzCore.h>

To make a simple rectangular gradient all we need is to add a CAGradientLayer:

CAGradientLayer * gradientLayer = [CAGradientLayer layer];
gradientLayer.frame = CGRectMake(0, 0, 80, 60);
gradientLayer.colors = [NSArray arrayWithObjects:(id)[[UIColor redColor] CGColor],(id)[[UIColor greenColor] CGColor], nil];
[self.window.layer addSublayer:gradientLayer];

This produces a rectangle that can be used in any view:

We can give the layer rounded corners by adding:

gradientLayer.cornerRadius = 10;

For more complex shapes we can set a mask for the gradient layer using a CAShapeLayer:
//Make shape – Triangle
CGMutablePathRef path = CGPathCreateMutable();
CGPathMoveToPoint(path, NULL,40.0f, 0.0f);
CGPathAddLineToPoint (path, NULL,80.0f, 60.0f);
CGPathAddLineToPoint (path, NULL,0.0f, 60.0f);
CGPathCloseSubpath(path);

//Shape layer
CAShapeLayer * mask = [CAShapeLayer layer];
mask.path = path;
[gradientLayer setMask:mask];

//release path
CGPathRelease(path);

UIButton with a gradient:

 

The graph I made for a project using Core Animation layers:

Objective-C: Blurry UIView

By | development, iPad, iPhone, Mobile Development | No Comments

If you’ve been coding Objective-C interfaces for a while you will know that you set the position of a view using it’s frame property. This property is a CGRect which is made up of four float values.  newView.frame = CGRectMake(0.0, 0.0, 100.0, 100.0);

At first these floats were quite an annoyance because when debugging using NSLog() to check if frames were set correctly you have to use NSLog(@"%f",newView.frame.origin.x); and this is printed as a decimal number i.e. 0.00000

After getting used to this and starting a project that required 3 columns down the screen I thought that I could finally use the floats to their full effect. So I divided the space neatly by three and drew UILabels. UILabel *firstLabel = [[UILabel alloc] initWithFrame:CGRectMake(0.0, 0.0, 1024/3, 768.0)];

Unfortunately this caused my UILabels to become fuzzy or blurry. After an extensive google search I found out that you should NOT be setting your frames using float values. Although CGRects take float values, when a UIView gets drawn and it has a decimal value in the frame it will blur that value to the nearest integer. This makes sense when you remember that the value you are giving is meant to represent a pixel value and a view cannot end halfway through a pixel.

So you should ensure that your frame does not contain any decimal values. An easy way to do this is to use the roundf() function. If placed around all 4 values in your frame you will always have an integer value, however this is a lot of extra code and you only have to do it where there is a possibility of having a decimal value. So my above label example became
UILabel *firstLabel = [[UILabel alloc] initWithFrame:CGRectMake(0.0, 0.0, roundf(1024/3), 768.0)];

Using a view’s center property it is possible to get a point with a .5 value (any view with a width or height that is odd will give you a .5 value). Using a view’s center to position another view should therefore be done using roundf(). For example say you have a white view and you want to cover it from the middle to the bottom right corner with red:

UIView *bigView = [[UIView alloc] initWithFrame:CGRectMake(30.0, 30.0, 67.0, 71.0)];
bigView.backgroundColor = [UIColor whiteColor];
[self addSubview:bigView];

UIView *smallView = [[UIView alloc] initWithFrame:CGRectMake(
                                roundf(bigView.center.x),
                                roundf(bigView.center.y),
                                roundf(bigView.frame.size.width/2),
                                roundf(bigView.frame.size.height/2)
                                                                                                )];
smallView.backgroundColor = [UIColor redColor];
[self addSubview:smallView];

[bigView release];
[smallView release];

BlackBerry Dev is Horrible: reason 4

By | BlackBerry, Mobile Development, Rant | No Comments

Take a look at the BlackBerry API reference tool-tip above – the descriptions of the url and cookie parameters have just been left blank. Fortunately in this case the parameter names make their use self-explanatory, but in other areas of the API reference this kind of incomplete or often poorly described documentation makes development more difficult than it needs to be. How hard can it be to ensure that the API reference docs are complete?

Jobs..

By | Mobile Development | No Comments

Cobi’s currently looking for a new developer to join our team. I’ve been looking around the net and see that there are a couple of job posts our there of companies looking for mobile developers. What I’ve noticed about job posts is that they are full of silly requests. Some that I’ve seen so far..

– 5 years iPhone development experience (the iPhone sdk is only about 2 or 3 years old)
– Mastery of iOS API’s (these api’s change all the time)
– Expertise in device partitioning and code signing (What’s device partitioning?)
– Navigation-based and Tab-bar application development (That’s what almost every iPhone application uses)

We’ve also received a couple of CV’s. I personally think you can tell a lot from a CV just by what people include and how they include it. What I don’t like to see is matric results and random technology people use. I’ve seen some people put “internet” as a skill. I also don’t care how well you can use Microsoft Word or Excel. Some skills that I also think are irrelevant are html, xml, or any other technologies that can be picked up in 5min.

Anyway, mobile software development is a very young field, and it’s almost impossible to find and experienced mobile software developer. We’re just looking for someone with the potential and that has the passion for creating mobile applications. If that’s you, please mail us at info@cobiinteractive.com