I meant to post this a bit sooner, but anyway here is a link to a talk I did last week about Google App Inventor for Android for the Vital programme. It was my first time giving a presentation online so forgive my possibly frequent use of the words "um" and "err"! It was a great experience and I enjoyed giving the presentation to a great bunch of people.
I am a big fan of Delicious the online bookmarking site. It has proved very useful to me as a way to find information and build a collection of links that are useful to me. Delicious also has a really good mobile site and can be a good way to retrieve links from earlier research while out and about. One issue that is always a bit fiddly with mobile devices though is text entry, so wouldn't it be great if we could just say out loud what terms we would like to search for and populate the search box with that? Interestingly this is quite an easy facility to build with the new Android App Inventor. In just a few clicks we can build an application that takes voice input, processes it and then launches a web page with a search box populated with those terms.
Google's Android App Inventor is great fun to play with and I think represents a fascinating leap forward in mobile application development. It provides a whole toolbox of ready to go functionality, but sadly missing from this toolbox are facilities to interact with web sites and services (with the exception of Twitter of course). However there is one component that provides a glimmer of hope and if you want to publish data in a way that can be used by Android App Inventor developers then you can use this component with a PHP script to easily pass data to the mobile device.
Google have now announced that they are to move into the Internet TV market with a platform named “Google TV”. This will aim to bring the world of web content to your TV screen in an easy to use way making video podcasts as easy to find and watch as regular TV programmes. It will not be a single product, but will be available in various products from set top boxes to televisions with the functionality built in. The announcement also came with the news that Google is working with big name partners such as Sony, Intel, Logitech and Adobe to make the product a reality. Engadget has a pretty good round up of the news in its article: Google TV: Everything you ever wanted to know. I believe that this is a very significant announcement and here is why.
Despite the idea of "being in Cyberspace" and the power of the Internet to connect us to people all over the world regardless of our location, we often use a browser to find out about people and services close to us. These might be queries such as finding the opening times of a local store, the time of a train or local expertise. Each time we do this it is often necessary to tell the website where we are, typcially by providing a post code, but what if you don't know the postcode? Fortunately browsers and becoming much more clever, and some can even work out where you are.
Smartphones are computers that happen to be able to make phone calls, and that leads to some interesting possibilities. I've been trying out the new HTC Hero thanks to the lovely folk at 3MobileBuzz who sent me one to have a look at for a week. The Hero uses Google's open source operating system Android, which is based on Linux and is optimised for smaller devices. HTC mobiles are available on many of the mobile phone networks, and they are not alone in using the Android operating system on certain models, manufacturers such as Motorola have recently joined them. The Hero is 3's first Android device and the model I looked at also has a bundled Spotify subscription (worth £9.99 per month), it currently costs £97.86 upfront with a two year contract that will cost you £35 per month, so this is toward the premium end of their range. Quite a bit of cash to hand over, but what do you get for your money?
Fun? Video chat? Google Wave? That's right, the Wave is not just about collaborative Wikis and seeing what the other person is typing. A really interesting feature of the platform is the ability to add extensions, one of the first of these is 6rounds, an extension that plugs in a full video chat facility to the platform, but not just that, it also provides the ability to perform tasks together. Interestingly, the extension has its roots in Speed Dating, but it looks like it has a great deal of potential, and like many Web 2.0 applications is built using open source technology.
Today I got my Google Wave invite and was able to activate my account. There has been a lot of hype about this product (to say the least) so it was interesting to be able to finally have a go at using it, so I thought I would type up my first impressions based on only a few hours use, so treat it as a raw first impression rather than a highly considered opinion! This is a tool that I think has great potential for people collaborating on projects, especially if they are located in different time zones and cannot meet face to face very easily, but to use it effectively though does mean climbing a learning curve.
Twitter is a never ending stream of information, some of it useful, some maybe not so, but one bit of useful information that did come to my attention today was a tweet from @IanEHarris mentioning that a Live CD image of Google Android has been developed that will enable you to try this new operating system in a virtual machine environment such as VirtualBox, or any other computer that could be booted of a CD or a USB stick. It's been known for some time that it is possible to run Android on x86 hardware with a port for the Asus EEE PC appearing earlier this year, but it was very difficult until now to get Android running on other hardware or virtual machines.