Well, it's finally here. After a year of development, over 10,000 beta users, and installations to more than 28,000 devices, Screebl Pro 3.0 finally hit the Google Play store today. You can download it here. Thanks to all of those that participated in the beta. It's taken a bit longer than I expected to get things ready for Pro, as features kept being added and I occasionally put the project on hold for other more urgent work, but I'm pleased with the overall result.
This is a ground-up rewrite of Screebl, with a focus on cool new features, hardware compatibility, battery consumption and simplification. Android is a shifting target lately for an app like Screebl, as Google and hardware manufactures make tweaks to Android builds to squeeze every little second possible out of battery life and improve the overall multitasking experience. Hardware varies dramatically, sensors work differently, and even end-user usage patterns for an app like Screebl vary widely. In the end though, I think that things have reached a point of stability with 3.0 that makes it a no brainer to replace the aging Screebl 2.x code line.
Last year I open-sourced a component that plays public videos off of YouTube on Android devices. The component has been used hundreds of times, but stopped working some time ago due to changes in the YouTube APIs. I don't use this activity myself anymore, but recently, a kind user sent me some patches that fixed the open problems, and I'm happy to say that the Activity is working again.
I've also added a sample activity to the project that demonstrates how to use the player. Given that roughly eighty people per day come to my web site in search of the player, I hope that this helps developers out!
Before I get started on this post, let me say that I love the users of my Android apps. I've gotten over 6,000 ratings on the Android Market for Screebl, and nearly 10,000 emails and forum postings over the past two years. The majority of my contact with users results in positive interactions, and I have a long list of requested feature enhancements, bug reports, and ideas from the hundreds-of-thousands of users that find my apps helpful. It really is fun interacting with a healthy community of users.
However, I particularly love hearing from those users that hate me, and there seem to be a lot of those too. Something about my personality makes it impossible to ignore the many creative insults that come my way. I'm pretty sure that my responses and the ensuing interactions are not productive (and sometimes downright unhealthy), but it entertains me. In the last few weeks I was the lucky recipient of a market ratings ambush by a competing app to CrazyCat HD, so some of this anger may be artificial, but I like to think that there are a fair number of people out there that genuinely dislike me and what I do.
So here's a list of the ten most amusing hate mails that I've received over the last two years. I've edited names and obscenities, but otherwise these are cut and pasted from my inbox...
A pet project that we've been working on for the past few months has finally matured enough to make it onto the major Android markets. CrazyCat HD is a simple Android game based on the very fine AndEngine gaming engine that has some pretty cool and innovative features.
The premise of the game is very simple. Your cat chases animated critters around on the screen and scores points based on how fast they are moving when her paw makes contact. Yeah that's right, it's an app for your cat. We're not the first ones to think of such a twisted thing, it's been done on the iPad, and in Flash form for Android, but we wanted to see what a native Android version could do while we played with AndEngine and explored some other ideas that we have around app marketing and advertising. We'll be getting into those last two in some other posts.
It's been a while since I've tried to market a new app. With the introduction of CrazyCat on the Android Market, I've started paying attention again, and things have changed significantly. While the new Android market looks really slick, I must say that Google has really kicked the small developer in the teeth with the format of the new market.
Most notably, there is absolutely no way for devs to get a paid app in front of customers using only the market. In the past, Google prominently promoted a "Just In" category on the market. If you released or updated an app, it would show up (with certain caveats) in this highly-visible place on the Market. If your app was good, lots of people would download it, it would start trending up in the market, and money would start showing up in your Google Checkout account. It's only been a couple of short years since the Android Market started allowing the sale of apps, but already those are the good old days...
On Jan 25, 2011, KeyesLabs conducted the first in a series of live experiments to determine how users interact with mobile devices while watching television. Our goal was simple and targeted - create an application that would enhance the experience of watching the 2011 State of the Union Address, and measure how users interacted with the app during the live address. Click here, to see an interactive replay of the experiment. You can also read the details about what we discovered...