Timer, Tweet Lanes, and the Importance of Holo

Timer, Tweet Lanes, and the Importance of Holo

Aug 27, 2012

I recently found out about an app called Timer, which is extremely simple: it’s a timer app, restoring some functionality that isn’t present in the stock Jelly Bean clock, and also featuring expanded notifiaction support for start/stop and restarting the timer. It’s a simple app, yet it feels like a great fit with Android 4.x devices.

However, we’re seeing a few more apps taking advantage of the Holo theme and Android 4.x design themes. Tweet Lanes is probably the most popular example, having seen a great number of downloads for 4.x phones and even for the Nexus 7. Flipster integrates some Holo theme and 4.x design elements in it as well.

Android needs apps like these, with consistent design themes. Apps that have a distinct look and feel to them that screams Android, that represent the platform and look good while running smoothly, they will strengthen the platform. When users can expect some apps to have familiar looks and feels, then the platform feels more legitimate.

The problem is that thanks to all the Android variants out there, there’s no consistent look to the platform. Phone manufacturers have generally tried to prevent this for their own benefit by applying their own look to the platform. Google is trying their best to keep the stock look, though. The Galaxy Nexus may be the most widely-spread Nexus phone yet thanks to it being on multiple carriers, and as one of the best values as an unlocked phone. The Nexus 7 is estimated to sell 8 million units this year. There’s plenty of value to Holo.

So, while there’s the challenge of getting developers to accept this style for their apps, especially when iOS and its design principles are still dominant, the rise of Android devices out there leads to the hope that developers for the platform will accept it and adopt it. The apps that are using Holo themes and Android design standards are impressively smooth. They are great examples of how Android apps should be working. More developers that take advantage of this, the more likely that Android can develop that consistent look and feel that it needs.

Flipster Tries to Improve on the Facebook App Experience

Flipster Tries to Improve on the Facebook App Experience

Aug 22, 2012

Flipster is a light shining through the darkness for Facebook users. Let’s be honest, the default Facebook app kinda blows. The HTML core and interface just are not designed to work well on Android. Even on new devices, it goes from awful to barely tolerable. However, that is where Flipster comes in. Similar to Tweet Lanes, Flipster is built around Android 4.x design standards for a smoother experience on newer devices. Many if not all of the features of the official app are here: the ability to view the main news feed, friends, events, messages, notifications and more.

The app is still a work in progress: on the Nexus 7, link and comment views below a post take up a lot of space. Also, while there were sme issues with disappearing posts, these appear to be a general Facebook problem. Not something with the app itself. Flipster is available in an ad-free version from Google Play, and an ad-supported free version that can have ads removed through completing Tapjoy offers. Seriously.