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Mobile Development Archives - Cobi Interactive

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.

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?

BlackBerry Developer Day – Johannesburg 2010

By | Apps, BlackBerry, development | No Comments

I was fortunate enough to attend the BlackBerry developers day conference in Johannesburg yesterday. The basic idea behind these conference days is to allow RIM to meet up with the local community of BlackBerry developers and to discuss new features and future prospects of the BlackBerry platform.

Despite a recent spate of negativity and pessimism surrounding RIM’s decision for an evolutionary  – rather than a revolutionary – approach to its OS in order to compete with the likes of iOS, Android, etc. it was immediately clear from the day’s agenda and the initial overview that RIM is genuinely excited and 100% behind the BlackBerry 6.0 OS release. Whether or not the excitement is completely justified or not, one very important signal coming from all of this is that RIM is putting in a substantial effort to improve conditions for its developers, not only from a new features and APIs point of view but also technical documentation and online code samples; this can only be a good thing going forward.

As part of the agenda, BlackBerry covered a wide array of new improvements coming from their latest OS releases. Of the topics discussed, I found the following most interesting:

  • RIM is making a big push to encourage developers to forget about targetting pre 5.0 releases with new development and to rather focus on 5 and 6 releases onwards. Their main argument for this comes from OS statistics showing that the OS 5 release alone is being used by more subscribers (around 38%; see pie chart below) when compared to the previous OS versions individually. RIM also argue that subscribers are upgrading (software and devices) rapidly and the 5.0 slice will continue to grow from day to day. I also think that this push by RIM reflects in some way as a self-acknowledgement of the unfriendly environment that pre OS 5.0 releases have provided its developers. I found this quite interesting being in South Africa and I’m not sure if I entirely agree with RIM here. Yes, the 5 OS update is a significant improvement, however, I’m not sure if it is in the best interests of developers to neglect pre 5 OS releases,  considering the following: 1) the combined subscriber count of the 4.5 – 4.6.1 releases still outnumbers that of the 5.0 release; 2) OS updates reaching the end user are carrier dependent; and 3) the BlackBerry Curve 8520 – which has been mega in South Africa – still runs a pre 5.0 BlackBerry OS.

  • BlackBerry are set to release APIs for use with their BlackBerry Messenger Service (BBM). The APIs will allow applications to build functionality on top of the already extremely popular IM service. Some of the functionality includes embedding chat within an application and sharing content amongst users. Essentially, this will allow developers to integrate the social platform provided by BBM into their applications.
  • New APIs and components available to BlackBerry OS 6.0. Without going into too much detail here, several new APIs, UI components, and the ability to tightly integrate an application with the OS (something referred to as a “Super App”) were explained at the conference.
  • Fragmentation. The issue of fragmentation amongst the BlackBerry OS versions and devices was flagged as a concern for the future prospects of the platform. I’m not really certain how BlackBerry are going to get around this, particularly as their devices cover such a wide range of the market audience. It also doesn’t help that their new tablet – the BlackBerry PlayBook –  will be running an entirely different operating system in QNX.

All in all, the conference day was a success and a first step towards growing a stronger local developer community. RIM is putting a tremendous amount of faith in their OS 6.0 release to help them grow their smartphone market share against some stiff competition. Let’s wait and see…. time will tell 🙂

Symbian: Going nowhere fast?

By | Rant, Smartphones, Symbian | No Comments

Research companies Gartner and IDC predict that the smartphone operating system market will remain dominated by Symbian in 2014, followed by Android in the No. 2 spot. AllAboutSymbian.com provides a summary – along with some unreasonable Symbian enthusiasm – of these predictions with some graphics relating to the future growth of the different platforms.

So, the bad good news is – that is if Gartner and IDC are correct – is that we have at least 3 uplifting years of  unobscure, well-documented, Symbian development to look forward to. I’m pumped. Not.

BlackBerry is Horrible: Reasons 2 and 3

By | BlackBerry, Mobile Development, Rant | No Comments

These two go hand in hand so thought I’d post them together:

2: BlackBerry’s almost always seem to require a restart when you update or install over an app or library. BlackBerry’s take possibly the longest of all devices to restart. As one forum poster put it: “If I have to reboot mine I go and take a nap or read War and Peace.” This makes testing on the device a wonderful experience.

3: BlackBerrys seem to have a single class loader, but no unique namespace assigned to each app. This means that you can’t have two classes of the same name loaded at once. So if two apps use the same package / class name or if you want to build seperate instances of a shared library for multiple apps…well…you can’t without the pain of refactoring. If you try to load multiple classes of the same name, the device doesn’t complain, it just seems load the first class and quietly forgets about the 2nd one. In practice this can make developing, testing and releasing apps for BlackBerry a nightmare in certain but fairly commen circumstances.

These issues were pointed out as far back as 2006 by worried developers; and now 4 years on, the problem’s still seem to exist.

Go BlackBerry.

BlackBerry Development is Horrible in So Many Ways: Part 1

By | BlackBerry, Mobile Development, Rant | No Comments

As much as BlackBerrys are reasonably sturdy devices when it comes to simple access to various communication channels (albeit doing it with the most profoundly boring interfaces ever); their weak attempts to lure developers away from iPhone and Android are extremely frustrating; as is their development environment. After developing for BlackBerry for a year now, I’ve come across one too many flaws in the BlackBerry dev environment and programs and need to vent – this could be a long series of posts…

First up is a look at their very average website – I’ve only ever had this error happen on the BlackBerry website…numerous times…and yes I have cookies enabled.

OS 4.0 Breaks the Compass?

By | iPhone, Releases | One Comment

Ever since upgrading one of our iPhones to OS 4.0 we’ve been having a tough time getting the compass to work again. With 3.1.2 installed it worked amazingly well; but since updating it either constantly showed the message that it requires calibration, or gave an inaccurate account of where North is.

I was a bit skeptical that the update could’ve caused the issue but nevertheless as a last resort we rolled back to 3.1.2 and…it amazingly did the trick. Gripping stuff…haven’t seen any other accounts of people having this issue as a result of 4.0; but hopefully its something thats resolved in due course.