Archives / Search ›

NCIDpop 0.9.16 released

NCIDpop is a client for the NCID (Network Caller ID) server. See previous posts for more information on my work with NCIDpop.

New in this version:

  • Optional Growl notification support.
  • Formats phone numbers using Address Book preferences.
  • Skip leading 0s for Address Book lookup (useful outside the US/Canada).
  • Fixed saving of reverse lookup URL when you click the “Set” button (was broken due to this Cocoa misfeature).
  • Made networking code significantly more robust. One side effect: you should see much less log spam when the NCID server is unavailable, because the connection process is now interruptible.

There’s now an active Windows maintainer and with the source code moved all the way from CVS to Mercurial, collboration should be significantly easier in future. The settings trigger is a bit tricky so I do plan on providing an easier alternative in a later version; that said, I’ve also got another 4–5 open source projects clamoring for my attention.

Android thoughts, part 2

I was going to write a longer Android post, but really, just go read this. Android might be a bit more tolerable if I hadn’t actually used better handheld devices, in the form of the hiptop, iPod touch/iPhone, early Palm OS and the Newton.

If you really do want to read what I was going to write, here are my notes. (Everything up to “Six months later:” refers to my experience with the G1 in July; afterward, with the Nexus One.)

Android thoughts

The rather anticlimactic conclusion to my mobile phone dilemma in June was the G1. I didn’t like it at the time and still don’t; however, the writing was on the wall for the hiptop, finally drained of life by Microsoft, and it was the only viable choice for smartphone-with-keyboard at the time. (Have you tried typing on a Palm Pre?)

Since I started using the G1, it’s received one minor OS update (1.5→1.6) and a few truly useful apps (Google Voice and Google Maps Navigation). The phone is still slow and unwieldy, with such poor battery life that I must carry multiple batteries and sometimes a charger around with me.

Today Google introduced their new phone, the Nexus One, running Android 2.1. It’s not bad, but I doubt I’ll be buying one.

The Nexus One fixes the biggest problems with the G1: speed, storage, battery life and the lack of a real headphone jack. It adds a decent design and beautiful screen. For me, however, it also removes a major reason to use Android over the iPhone: a physical keyboard with a decent layout. I’m able to work around the awful Android Gmail app by using Mutt in a SSH client; I couldn’t do that on the Nexus One. (Soft keyboards are fine for typing text, not so much for interacting with a Unix system.)

The largest remaining problem with Android is the navigational UI. It:

  1. hides most options behind the context-sensitive Menu button
  2. fails to adequately expose hierarchy and the behavior of the Back button
  3. fails to adequately expose multiple running applications (“activities”)

The first two aren’t issues with the iPhone UI, and the last has been adequately addressed by webOS’s card model. It still surprises me, for a company whose Web applications are known for speed and efficiency, that the Android UI came out so badly.

Applications that try to innovate with UI on Android, of which the two that stick out most in my mind are the otherwise-terrific Locale and the Android 2.1 Gallery, tend to confuse more than they help. For example, Gallery uses a double-tap on the Menu button for multiple selection, then arbitrarily checks the bottom center photo to start. If you uncheck the photo as (not surprisingly) you may not want to do anything with it, Gallery exits multiple selection mode; instead, you have to check another photo before unchecking the bottom center one. In Gallery, the presence of a single selection is necessary to maintain multiple-selection mode; the iPhone’s ubiquitous “Edit” toggle button doesn’t have this problem.

So after six months, my situation is much the same: wait for a future Android device or a future iPhone. I doubt Palm is going to produce a device with the capabilities I want any time soon. Palm’s application ecosystem is much smaller than even Android, so it’s right out.

(I have a much longer Android post in preparation…if the above doesn’t make sense in places, let me know so I can clarify.)