Potential concerns with the odd resolution of the Z3

After spending months refusing to be honest with developers about the specs for the Z3, it has finally been revealed that the phone has a 540×960 resolution. For developers the phone presents itself as 720×1280 device and then downscales the content to 75% of the size, which is exactly what I predicted two months ago.

While BlackBerry claims that this will work flawlessly and magically, that is not exactly the case. Downscalling content such as this has some issues, mainly that any UI elements that are only a single pixel wide have a one in four chance of disappearing completely. Scaling can work, but it is best when you are scaling up and are doing so by a power of two. This is why iOS devices doubled their horizontal and vertical resolutions when they switched to a higher res format.

In fact, any element with a size less than 4 pixels has the possibility of looking to be a bit off. The images below show the result of scaling a 1×1 pixel grid (in pink), a 2×2 pixel grid (in blue), and a 4×4 pixel grid (in orange).

1x1

2x2

4x4

Grids are kindof a worst case scenario, so most apps actually won’t look too bad. But nothing is going to look great.

What is worse is that the device really believes itself to be a different resolution than it is. As such developers have no simulator, and screenshots are the same 720×1280 resolution that the Z30 produces. This also implies that all text (which is full of the thin strokes that are susceptible to issues) also goes through this identical scaling process.

At $190 the BlackBerry Z3 is not significantly cheaper than the Z10, so there is no reason that this should be your smartphone of choice. Pay a little extra and get something better.

Xploding Boxes gets 10 new levels

Nexus4Xploding Boxes has been updated for BlackBerry, Android, Nook, and Windows 8. Version 4.10 adds ten new levels to the game, bringing the total number of levels up to 440.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game for BlackBerry, Android, Nook, Windows 8, and BlackBerry 10 where the goal of the game is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level gives you a different number of touches, and requires a different strategy to solve.

The game itself, and the first 25 levels are available for free, while a one time in-app purchase can be used to access the rest of the levels for just $2.99 while maintaining your progress from the free levels.

Links & Information

How to generate a release .apk file from a Cordova project

The following batch file takes a Cordova project and builds, signs, and deploys a .apk file. I had found this script to be helpful for myself, so hopefully it will help others as well. Just replace keystore_file and alias_name with your own keystore information.

cordova build --release android

for /f "delims=" %%x in ('dir /od /a-d /b platforms\android\ant-build\*.apk') do set recent=%%x

set recentShort=%recent:-release-unsigned.apk=.apk%

ECHO Y | DEL %recentShort%

jarsigner -verbose -sigalg SHA1withRSA -digestalg SHA1 -storepass transitKey -keystore keystore_file platforms\android\ant-build\%recent% alias_name

zipalign -v 4 platforms\android\ant-build\%recent% %recentShort%

adb install -r %recentShort%

March showed no change in BBOS market

A look at the OS distribution on BBOS, showed no change in March, and for the most part almost nothing has changed in the last six months.

StatsMar2014

While BlackBerry 10 has shown rapid adoption of the newest operating systems, on the classic BBOS only 48.6% of users are running OS 7 (which itself is almost three years old at this point). And despite being launched half a decade ago, OS 5.0 still continues to account for a significant percentage of the market.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of March 2013 through the end of March 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

Stuff I Need updated to version 2.4

CampingListCropThe Stuff I Need app has been updated to version 2.4 in BlackBerry World. This update displays an additional 60 pixels worth of text for each item, prevents the app from trying to open to a deleted list, and also includes a 1.2% reduction in the overall file size of the app.

About Stuff I Need

Originally conceived as a grocery list app, this minimalistic checklist app can be used to keep track of the stuff you need to get, or the stuff that you need to do. New items can be added to list with the ‘Add’ button on the bottom of the screen. Items on the list can be edited (or deleted) by giving them a long press. Lists can be switched by pulling down on the tab at the top of the screen. This will expose a spinner that shows all of your current lists. New lists can be added by using the “+” button on the right side of the expanded tab. Making use of three or more lists requires the use on a one time in-app purchase. Lists are automatically deleted if you delete all items in a list and restart the app.

Links & Information

Farkle updated for BlackBerry 10

Q10-device10,000 Farkle has been updated to version 2.4 in BlackBerry World. This new version improves the overall responsiveness of the app, and improves the efficiency with which the app runs.

How to Play Farkle

Farkle gives you six dice to roll and awards points for a straight, three pairs or three or more of the same number. Fewer points ares also awarded for each individual 1 and 5. Any dice that do not score can be re-rolled for additional points. If all 6 dice can be scored, then all of the dice can be re-rolled on the same turn.

The skill in this game comes from knowing how far to push your luck, and which scoring combinations to take, and when to re-roll.

The default game mode gives you 10 turns to score as many points as you can. The 10,000 point mode gives you unlimited turns to reach 10,000 points. The two competitive game modes both use the traditional format of racing to 10,000 points.

Links & Information

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Erie Canal app released

NexusSThe Erie Canal app has been released as a free download for Android and BlackBerry users. The app is designed to help out those traveling along the Erie Canal by showing the Boat Launches, Locks, Lift Bridges, and Guard Gates along the canal’s path.

The primary view of the app shows a list of all the landmarks along the canal, with their distance along the canal along with a phone number that the app can dial in order to contact the marinas, and locks on the route. In addition to this, there is also a map view that precisely shows the location of everything along the canal’s path. An options page allows you to filter out the types of landmarks that the app shows (on both the list and the map), as well as allowing you to switch the list to an east to west orientation.

This app has been created as part of the AT&T Rochester Civic App Challenge, and is believed to be the first app in BlackBerry World that makes use of the Ionic Framework.

Links & Information

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BlackBerry 10 OS distribution

March saw more users continue to adopt OS 10.2.1 which now accounts for 73.7% of Pixelated users and 79.2% of Stuff I Need users. Despite these increases, a disturbing number of users continue to run OS 10.1 which is proving slow to go away. At least part of the blame for this falls on AT&T which has not yet approved any of the 10.2.x updates.

2014Mar-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2014Mar-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

The user base continues to be dominated by the BlackBerry Z10 which accounts for the majority of the market at 59.2% of all devices.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of March 2013 through the end of March 2014.