Second Android phone, Agora, follows G1

It has been less than two months after G1, the first Android phone, was launch that the second one is announced by Kogan.  It is the Agora, a phone looking more like a Blackberry than an iPhone.  The great thing about this new phone is that it is not locked.  However, it does not have as many features as the G1.

Here is what Howard Wong has to say about the Agora vs G1.

This is more blackberry-ish in style, slimmer and so in a way its a bit more “humble” and makes you wanna compare it to a blackberry.. which sort of allows Agora to scale back on memory features (256 meg, 128 meg flash, no WIFI).  Also I think they were smarter about battery life by supplying a 1300mAh battery as opposed to G1’s 1150mAh.. G1 most prolly uses more power anyway.  Clearly Agora’s niche is to bridge mainstream PDA users to Android.. a very smart move because quite frankly, most people don’t know or care about where mobile applications come from. I believe this phone to be a much more humbler/accessible stage to feature android apps.

Looking back, I think Tmobile should’ve released something like this and steared clear of IPhone envy.  One of the first things I said to myself when I first played with the G1 was, “I can’t believe google allowed this to be the first phone.”

I still think the 4 buttons should be electro-sensitive like the touchscreen.  For such mainstay controls, they deserve to be on par with the touchscreen.  At least with this new Agora phone I won’t complain because interaction through the touchscreen seems more like a bonus whereas on the G1, it seems required.

Getting Android emulator working with Google Maps API Key

I was trying to get an Android app that uses Google Maps API to display a MapView running on the emulator.  It took quite a bit of hair pulling to finally get it working.

First, I tried using a self-signed keystore instead of the the debug.keystore provided through the Android SDK.  I created my keystore using keytool -genkey from JDK.  Then I switch the app from using the default, debug.keystore, to my-new-self-signed.keystore.  Using keytool -list, I got the MD5 of the certificate that is needed to obtain a Google Map API key.  Then the API key was put into the MapView android:apikey attribute.  When I brought up the app in the emulator, I got a blank map grid screen.  The reason I wanted to use the self-signed keystore instead of the debug keystore is so I don’t have to obtain a new Map API key and change the code to reflect this upon releasing the app.

So, I decided to go with the debug.keystore and that worked fine.  Here is what I had to do.

  1. $ keytool -list -alias androiddebugkey -keystore <path_to_debug_keystore>.keystore -storepass android -keypass android
  2. Copy that MD5 and goto http://code.google.com/android/maps-api-signup.html
  3. Signup for an API key
  4. In my xml file that has the views for the activity, add
    <com.google.android.maps.MapView
     android:layout_width="fill_parent"
     android:layout_height="fill_parent"
     android:enabled="true"
     android:clickable="true"
     android:apiKey="example_Maps_ApiKey_String"
     />
  5. In the Manifest.xml file, add the permissions needed
    <uses-permission android:name=”android.permission.INTERNET”></uses-permission>
    <uses-permission android:name=”android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION”></uses-permission>
  6. In the Manifest.xml file, add the maps library
    <uses-library android:name=”com.google.android.maps” />
    within the application tag
  7. The entire Manifest.xml looks like this
    <?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″?>
    <manifest xmlns:android=”http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android”
    package=”com.informationideas.mapapp”
    android:versionCode=”1″
    android:versionName=”1.0.0″>
    <uses-permission android:name=”android.permission.INTERNET”></uses-permission>
    <uses-permission android:name=”android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION”></uses-permission>
    <application android:icon=”@drawable/icon” android:label=”@string/app_name”>
    <uses-library android:name=”com.google.android.maps” />
    <activity android:name=”.ShowDesktop”
    android:label=”@string/app_name”>
    <intent-filter>
    <action android:name=”android.intent.action.MAIN” />
    <category android:name=”android.intent.category.LAUNCHER” />
    </intent-filter>
    </activity>
    </application>
    </manifest>
  8. The default activity file should look like this

    package com.informationideas.mapapp;
    import android.os.Bundle;
    import com.google.android.maps.MapActivity;

    public class ShowDesktop extends MapActivity {

    /** Called when the activity is first created. */
    @Override
    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
    setContentView(R.layout.main);

    }

    @Override
    protected boolean isRouteDisplayed() {
    // TODO Auto-generated method stub
    return false;
    }
    }

Now off to building cool things with the map!

G1 Android Phone

I just received my G1 phone in the mail as it is spectacular.  The touch screen works very well and the built-in GPS, wi-fi, and 3G network/ functionalities will allow developers build some very exciting new applications for these phones.  It also has a compass that is demonstrated using the Street View of Google Maps.  When viewing Street View, if you start spinning in one spot the image will rotate according to the direction the back of the phone is facing.  It probably has a built-in level also that allows the Street View to pan up to the sky or down to the ground when the phone is moved in those directions.

The Android Market is where users can download application that runs on the phone built by developers (Google and other developers).  It currently has about 50 applications from their Android Developer Challenge.  On October 27, 2008, they will open up the Android Market to all developers to submit their applications.  Currently, all applications in the market must be free of charge, but in the first quarter 2009 they will allow applications that charge a fee.  It is interesting that Google has made the Android Market totally open and policed/ ranked by users.  They will not require approval for any application and anyone can put applications on the market.  That is very different form Apple’s iPhone App Store where they are gatekeepers to every application sold to iPhone users by using a review process.  We will see how this pans out, but so far it seems promising.

Well, I’m going to start building Android Apps so that’s it for now.