Thursday, May 26, 2011

Picasa Bug Affecting Our Mobile App (Picasa Mobile for Android)

Update: The issue has been fixed by Google.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Picasa Mobile - Other Platforms

Yes, we were thinking big and we named it Picasa Mobile, but so far, it only runs on Android phones and tablets.
Do we intend to make it available on other mobile platforms, like iPhone and Blackberry? Of course we do! But there are some challenges...
While the Android SDK and its tools make mobile development a breeze, the same cannot be said about other platforms. Here's why.

1. iPhone / iPad
Developing apps for iPhone makes sense from a market share standpoint. The iPhone's market share is estimated at about 30% (slightly below Android's) and it would make business sense developing for its platform.
However, developing for iPhone is highly restrictive.

First off, you absolutely have to develop on an Apple device. Since a Mac laptop sells for about 1,200 CAD, this begs the question: do I really want to spend that kind of money to develop 99 cent apps?

Secondly, publishing on Apple's App Store seems quite painful. The apps are subject to a review process and only the approved apps make it to the App Store. And when it's finally published, if a user asks for a refund, Apple gets to keep its 30% and the developer has to refund the whole cost out of her pocket.

In terms of coding, Objective-C (the development language for iOS and most things Apple), although arguably faster, seems somewhat antiquated (think header files) and uses non-mainstream development paradigms (ex.: messages instead of method calls).
In my opinion, Java seems a lot more natural, intuitive and productive.

2. Blackberry / PlayBook
The transition from Android to Blackberry development seems less steep, since both of them are Java-based. Also, with RIM (the creator of Blackberry) being a Canadian company, it gives us even more incentive to try it out.

There's a big downside, though: the Blackberry development tools only run on Windows! Yes, you heard it right, although it is Java-based and in the form of an Eclipse plug-in, you need Windows to run it...
This presents a big challenge for us, since all our development is done on Ubuntu.

The PlayBook development seems a bit more accessible and it is available for Linux; however its market share has to pick up and RIM has to fix some of the problems with its tablet before it becomes really interesting for developers.
On the bright side, RIM has gotten the message that it cannot survive without a thriving development community. Although it may be a bit late for the existing Blackberry devices, the new direction seems to favor Adobe's Air platform for app development - in my opinion, a very good step forward.
Another good step: apparently RIM has waived the developer fee. (I'm using the word apparently since the said fee is still mentioned a few times on their website, I guess they haven't updated their whole site yet.)

Rumor has it that they also intend to support Android apps, which kind of begs the question: why build a different OS to run Android apps, when you can use the Android OS?

3. Windows Phone
At this time, we find developing for Windows Phone very unlikely. As mentioned before, all our development is done on Ubuntu.
Moreover, Windows Phone's market share and prospects are quite dim and we don't like betting on a loosing horse.
But, while we're on the subject, I can't stop wondering, what was in Nokia executives' heads when they forged an alliance with Microsoft? I understand that their Symbian OS had become quite outdated, but they could easily have adopted the Android platform without any strings attached.

For the foreseeable future, I think we'll stick with the Android framework. Although not perfect, it is, in our opinion, the best mobile framework available.
And you cannot help but be amazed at the stroke of genius Google showed here: release an open-source framework to be used and improved by the most handset manufacturers out there. And, while at it, trying to keep the mobile universe free...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Picasa Mobile - Initial Relase

At long last, on May 1st 2011, we released our first Android application dubbed Picasa Mobile.
It can be downloaded from the Android Market and more details, including a comprehensive online help can be accessed on the Imprologic's main site.

We felt there was a need on the market for such an application. The built-in Gallery app doesn't offer a lot of features in terms of interacting with Picasa while other similar applications seemed kind of incomplete or presented security concerns.

The intention was to allow the user to easily browse through her Picasa web albums, manage them and upload new photos, even directly from the camera. We are really proud of this last feature since no other Android app on the market seems to offer it. As the cherry on the cake, Picasa Mobile also uploads your current coordinates along with your pictures when you use its Camera option.

We also believe that the best place for your photos is on the web, you can easily share them with your friends and you can never loose them. Your phone may break or get stolen, you don't want to loose your precious vacation or family pictures if that happens. Bottom line, at any given moment, storing your photos online is the safest alternative.

Finally, here's a summary list of features, at the time of writing this post:
  • Direct camera upload including GPS coordinates - it will upload your photos the moment you take them. The photos will appear in your default Picasa album and they will include the location where you were at the time.
  • Fast Picasa album and photo browsing - you can use this app as a virtual wallet photo, you can show your Picasa albums to friends and brag about the places you visited.
  • Manage your Picasa albums: create new albums or update existing ones.
  • Local photo browsing and upload: review the pictures on your phone's SD card and upload them to the album of your choice.
  • Multiple accounts: you can easily switch between all your Picasa accounts. Starting with version 1.0.5, you can choose to use your phone's built-in Google account(s).
  • Secure connections: all the communication with Google Picasa is over https.
  • Free and continuous software updates: we will be releasing new features often, based on user feedback.
And because a picture is worth a thousand words, you may also want to see some Picasa Mobile screenshots, or  a video demo of the app.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mission Statement

Imprologic is a software startup focusing on mobile and web software development. Our goal is to offer innovative, user friendly applications in an interconnected world. We intend to have a global presence, while maintaining a distinct Canadian character.