Tag Archives: webapps

A Big Thank You

Yesterday I received a free Nexus One from Google as part of their Android Developer Seeding Program. Reader Widget Free qualified for this so I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who downloaded, rated and provided feedback on it. It has been downloaded over 22000 times. Also thanks to those who bought the Pro version too and my other app, SMS Bot Widget. Of course a massive thank you must go out to Google for supporting Android developers like myself.
I first registered this domain on 9th April 2009 so this blog is just over a year old. I have enjoyed running it and developing it’s associated applications immensely. They are some things I have lined up which should make ubikapps.net’s second year even better than the first!

PubCrawler updated to Google Maps API V3

Good old PubCrawler. I have somewhat neglected my duties in maintaining this web app. However, I recently completed the migration to Google Maps API V3 for it. Advantages of this include:

  • Automatic display of controls based on device. For example zoom buttons are displayed on Android devices but not on the iPhone (because it has multitouch built in). This means that I have done away with the buttons below the map.
  • Built in map type buttons (Map, Hybrid, Satellite, Terrain) so I got rid of the button to do this at the top
  • Speed: it uses less data and therefore loads maps faster. They built it with mobile devices in mind.

There’s more but Google themselves can explain it better than I can. PubCrawler running on Maps API V2 (or PubCrawler Classic as it might become known) is still available here. I actually started this process of migration to V3 not long after it was announced. However, at first the full feature set wasn’t there so I parked it for a while. I’m not sure when the API became complete enough for PubCrawler’s needs but everything is there now.

Revisiting PubCrawler after such a long break means that the iPhone-esque look and feel is starting to look a little dated to me. At some point its going to need revising to something more unique and suited to the application’s purpose.

Is Google Ditching Gears?

Google Gears has been conspicuous by its absence in two places recently. The Droid no longer has Google Gears geolocation built into its browser. Instead it uses HTML5. In the recent Chrome OS announcement it was also HTML5 all the way. I think perhaps Google was using Gears as a stop gap until HTML5 came on stream. Now its supported by the Firefox 3.5, iPhone 3.x, Palm Pre and Android 2.0 there’s not much reason to keep Gears going. This is probably a Good Thing as now developers can being to concentrate on using one geolocation implementation.
Update 1st Dec: Looks like I’m not the only one who has noticed this: Gizmodo: Is Google Gears Dead?

Touch screen implementations and browser size

I have noticed something not mentioned much elsewhere when testing the PubCrawler on various devices. It is how much screen space is devoted to a web page. This is not a simply dependent on screen size as these screenshots show:

iPod Touch/iPhone 3.0 HTC Dream/T-mobile G1 Android 1.5 HTC Hero
iPhone Dream Hero

All the devices have the same resolution at 320×480 but the iPhone has the larger screen at 3.5 inches. The other two have 3.2 inch screens. It is obvious that the iPhone is showing less of the page, chopping off the bottom of the map. This is an important thing to remember for a single page web app like PubCrawler. The map should resize dynamically for each device which is something I might look into. Luckily the iPhone does not need the controls at the bottom thanks to multitouch pinch and zoom. The reason for the lack of browser room is the absence of physical buttons on the iPhone. This means it has to show more buttons on the screen which take up valuable space. Some people have wandered why there are so many physical buttons on Android devices but they are there for a reason: freeing up screen space and providing more options.
As mentioned before the Hero turns the entire screen over to the browser window forsaking even the notification bar. This leaves a big gap between the map and the controls at the bottom. Space for an ad perhaps? Maybe but you wouldn’t see that ad on the other devices!

PubCrawler HTML5 geolocation

I’ve been neglecting the PubCrawler a bit recently because of my current widget fetish. I made one quick change to it last night though. It now has HTML5 geolocation for browsers that support it. I tested it in Firefox 3.5 beta 4 which is a bit flakey when it comes to the geolocation stuff even on other peoples’ sites. Ideally I need someone to test it with a new Palm Pre which it should work for. Please contact me on webmaster at ubikapps.net if you do. Either that or I will have to wait until iPhone OS 3.0 comes out and try it on my iPod Touch.

I have lots of changes I want to make to PubCrawler. One thing that is high on my list is updating it for Google Maps API V3 which has a much improved mobile experience. I may have to create a separate version though because V3 is not fully featured yet.

Update: just installed OS 3.0 on my iPod touch and it works.

PubCrawler HTML 5 DB – Save crawls on iPhones

I have updated PubCrawler to use HTML 5 client side storage. This is supported by iPhones and iPod Touches with firmware 2.0 and above. It means that these devices can now save crawls. For Android phones a Google Gears database is still used.
It took me a while to get the HTML 5 DB working properly. The fact that it works asynchronously (rather than synchronously like Gears) made it difficult to implement all the functionality. Also the created tables don’t have a built in ROWID column (like Gears) so I had to create my own. I’ll probably revisit it later to tidy up the code.

PubCrawler now has manual location

PubCrawler now has manual location functionality. When Google Gears is not installed it falls back to asking for location in a JavaScript prompt(). With or without Gears on the map screen the location can be changed with a new button. Another minor change is the removal of the map buttons at the bottom for everything but Android devices. iPhones can use multitouch gestures to zoom and drag the map (Google’s functionality not mine!). For Android 1.5 I have added drag functionality myself though.

Coming soon: HTML5 database to save crawls on iPhone (instead of Google Gears DB which Android uses).

PubCrawler Web App

My first mobile web app is PubCrawler. It finds pubs in your location automatically and can show you a route around them. Navigate from pub to pub and save the number of pints drunk in each. Crawls are saved for viewing later.
Its being developed in HTML, CSS 3.0 and JavaScript using Google Gears GeoLocation, Maps API, Local Search and dojo Toolkit. Google Gears is required. It works on:

  • Android phones like the T-mobile G1
  • Windows Mobile 6 with Opera Mobile 9.5 technology preview build (go to gears.google.com in the browser to install Gears)
  • Firefox 3 with Google Gears installed (although the CSS 3.0 elements won’t look right)
  • Google Chrome

On first visit a prompt will pop-up asking you if you trust the site to use Gears. If you don’t click the accept button it won’t work.