Category Archives: Android

Ebscer highlights of 2015

With 2016 just beginning, I thought it was worth looking at some of the highlights of 2015.

Overall 4 apps were added for BlackBerry, 3 apps for Windows Phone, and 4 apps for Android.

App for Buffalo’s Metro Rail updated

IMG_20141110_114110The app for the Buffalo Metro Rail has been updated to version 1.2 for both Android and BlackBerry 10. This new version involves a significant reduction in the app’s file size (93% reduction for BlackBerry, and 74% for Android). This results in an app that is also quicker to launch.

About the Buffalo Metro Rail app

This app shows the departure times for trains along Buffalo’s Metro route. The app automatically selects the proper schedule for the day, allows for sorting options, and also shows a map of the full light rail line. Additionally the app only needs to be synced once a month, and can otherwise be used without an active internet connection.

Links & Information

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Update released for Xploding Boxes

Nexus4Xploding Boxes has been updated to version 5.6 in BlackBerry World, Google Play, the Amazon app store, the Nook app store, the Windows 8 app store, and the Windows Phone app store. This update adds 10 new levels to the game, giving the game a total of 520 levels.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game where the goal is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level presents a different look and number of touches, requiring 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 still maintaining your progress from the free levels.

Links & Information

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Weather Beautiful updated

Q10cropThe Weather Beautiful app has been updated to version 2.2 for both Android and BlackBerry users. This update makes the app launch quicker. Additionally the app’s install size is 37% smaller on BlackBerry, and 23% smaller on Android.

About Weather Beautiful

This is a simple weather app that displays stunning photography of your surrounding area. In addition to the current temperature and weather conditions, the app also allows you to scroll for a full weekly forecast.

Links & Information

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More Levels for Xploding Boxes

ShapeItAppXploding Boxes has been updated to version 5.5 in BlackBerry World, Google Play, the Amazon app store, the Nook app store, the Windows 8 app store, and the Windows Phone app store. This update adds 10 new levels to the game, giving Xploding Boxes 510 levels overall.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game where the goal is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level presents a different look and number of touches, requiring 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 still maintaining your progress from the free levels.

Links & Information

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Coloring a ProgressBar on Android

On newer versions of Android (such as Lollipop and Marshmallow) the activity indicator now has a distinct color instead of just being a shade of gray. While this is neat, it brings up the potential for the color of the activity indicator to clash with your design.

Fortunately it is possible to change the color of these controls. Starting with the xml in the layout, your progress bar will look as follows…

<ProgressBar
    android:layout_height="wrap_content"
    android:layout_width="wrap_content"
    android:id="@+id/activityIndicator"
    android:progressDrawable="@drawable/colorProgress"
    android:indeterminateOnly="true"/>

The relevant part of this code is the setting of progressDrawable to a custom drawable object. While this custom object must exist, it doesn’t actually have to do anything. The full source of colorProgress.xml is below and is essentially blank.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<selector xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android">
</selector>

Finally we will get to the Java code that actually sets the color of the progress bar. This is done as the program starts up and consists of three steps. First, you filter out the older Android OS versions to avoid crashing the app on Android 4.x phones. Next you get a reference to the ProgressBar object, and then finally you set the object to the color you want.

protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState)
{
super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
setContentView(R.layout.activity_main);
if (android.os.Build.VERSION.SDK_INT >= Build.VERSION_CODES.LOLLIPOP)
{
ProgressBar progressbar = (ProgressBar) findViewById(R.id.activityIndicator);
int color = 0xFF2980b9;
progressbar.getIndeterminateDrawable().setColorFilter(color, PorterDuff.Mode.SRC_IN);
progressbar.getProgressDrawable().setColorFilter(color, PorterDuff.Mode.SRC_IN);
}
}

Monkeys and Whales added to Animal Sounds App

ShapeItAppThe Animal Sounds app has been updated to version 2.0 adding support for two new animals, and now supports users of both BlackBerry 10 and Android.

This is a simple app that plays back the sound made by various animals. From horses to dogs to cows, this app includes a variety of animals that will make a sound when you tap on their picture. Version 2.0 of the app adds both a monkey and a whale to the list of recordings that the app can play back.

Links & Information

Niagara Border Crossing app released for Android

ShapeItAppThe Niagara Border Crossing app has been released for Android phones in Google Play and the Amazon App Store. The app shows wait times for border crossings over the Niagara River between the United States and Canada, and is also available for BlackBerry and Windows users.

Wait times are shown for all four of the bridges between Western New York and Southern Ontario. These include the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge, and the Peace Bridge. Separate times are shown for cars, trucks, and also for those using the Nexus lanes.

Links & Information

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Update to Weather Beautiful app

Z10cropThe Weather Beautiful app has been updated to version 2.1 for both Android and BlackBerry users.

This is a simple weather app that displays stunning photography of your surrounding area. In addition to the current temperature and weather conditions, the app also allows you to scroll down for a full weekly forecast.

New in version 2.1 is the ability to swipe right in order to advance to the next background image, or to swipe left return to previous background image. Also the overall file size of the app has been greatly reduced, with the BlackBerry version 70% smaller and the Android version 61% smaller. Additionally on BlackBerry 10 the app now shows a custom splash screen while loading.

Links & Information

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Twinkle update adds support for Android

AndroidTwinkle has been updated to version 6.0, adding new features, new colors, and Android support.

About Twinkle

This app allows you to set and keep track of upcoming and past events. Twinkle will tell you how far away an event is, and share it with a friends through social networks. The app includes an number of options for sorting or filtering your views in order to allow you to easily be able to manage and share a large number of different events.

New in version 6.0

The biggest new feature is the added support for Android phones. Designed to conform with Google’s material design guidelines, the fully native android app has been completely rethought for the platform.

BlackBerry 10 users will get two new background colors (Brown and Teal), in addition to fixing a bug that previously prevented changes to the filters to last between app restarts. Also, the details line is now hidden when the event doesn’t have any details.

Users of traditional BBOS phones have not been left out either, as that version of Twinkle has been updated to version 4.3 to give access to the two new colors.

Links & Information

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Theming ListPreference Dialogs on Android Lollipop

ListPreferenceSetting a custom theme color for your Android app is as simple as setting a colorAccent color in the app’s styles.xml file. Yet while this will theme most of the app, oddly ListPreference pop-ups and other dialogs do not naturally inherit the theme used by the rest of the app.

In order to fix this both a dialogTheme and an alertDialogTheme need to be explicitly added to the app’s styles.xml file. The result should look similar to this…

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<resources>
    <style name="AppTheme" parent="android:Theme.Material.Light">
        <item name="android:colorPrimary">@color/primary
        <item name="android:colorPrimaryDark">@color/accent
        <item name="android:colorAccent">@color/accent
        <item name="android:dialogTheme">@style/DialogStyle
        <item name="android:alertDialogTheme">@style/DialogStyle
    </style>
    <style name="DialogStyle" parent="android:Theme.Material.Light.Dialog">
        <item name="android:colorAccent">@color/accent
    </style>
</resources>

How to treat Android’s up button like a back button

When opening up a child screen on most android apps an arrow will appear on the upper left corner of the screen indicating that you can go back to the previous screen. Android’s documentation refers to this as an “up” button (despite the fact that it clearly points left). While at first glance it appears to similar to the back button it is subtly different.

More complex apps may have a use for the difference in this button’s behavior, but for simple apps the up button acts like a back button that additionally blows away minor state information (such as scroll position) on the parent screen. Fortunately there is a simple way to force the up button to act the same as your standard back button.

In the child activity find the onOptionsItemSelected() method…

public boolean onOptionsItemSelected(MenuItem item) {
    int id = item.getItemId();
    if (id == android.R.id.home) {
        NavUtils.navigateUpFromSameTask(this);
        return true;
    }
    return super.onOptionsItemSelected(item);
}

and replace NavUtils.navigateUpFromSameTask(this); with finish(); so that your new code now looks like...

public boolean onOptionsItemSelected(MenuItem item) {
    int id = item.getItemId();
    if (id == android.R.id.home) {
        finish();
        return true;
    }
    return super.onOptionsItemSelected(item);
}

Now the back button on your action bar will work just as well as the back button at the bottom of the screen.

Weather Beautiful now on Android

IMG_20150504_132524The Weather Beautiful app has now added support for Android phones. The app can be downloaded from either Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

This is a simple weather app that displays stunning photography of your surrounding area. In addition to the current temperature and weather conditions, the app also allows you to scroll down for a full weekly forecast.

The background images for the app feature landscapes taken in the area surrounding your current location. These pictures update every fifteen seconds in order to show you more views.

Links & Information

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Xploding Boxes reaches 500 levels

Z10Xploding Boxes has been expanded to a total of 500 levels. Version 5.4 in now available in BlackBerry World, Google Play, the Amazon app store, the Nook app store, the Windows 8 app store, and the Windows Phone app store. In addition to the new levels, this update also improves the touch sensitivity on BlackBerry 10 phones, and adds additional menu options to the game play screen on Windows Phone.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game where the goal is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level presents a different look and number of touches, requiring 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 still maintaining your progress from the free levels.

Links & Information

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