Thursday 23 May 2013 08:14 UTC
This forum is for anything to do with light aviation
Depending on where you sit, from a developer perspective, Android either is, or is going to become, a ghastly nightmare.
The vast profusion of devices, infinite variations in screen sizes and resolution, umpteen different software versions, and no structured way to keep anything under control will make it hard to write reliable software and virtually impossible to support. (Go and look at the Garmin Pilot reviews on Google Play to get a flavour https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... igcy.pilot).
iOS won't suffer from most of the problems above, but there are other issues with the closed environment. As an aside, the inability to access any time data from the GPS output on iOS devices drives us mad with our applications.
I'm very glad I'm a specifier and buyer of enterprise Apps, not a writer of them. We chose to go with the Apple platform (and only Apple) and took a view that we would just buy an iPad or iPhone for members of our team who already owned other platforms. Much cheaper and easier than writing for multiple platforms.
That sounds like Windows, which has been a complete commercial flop. Microsoft never made it work and nobody has managed to write any working apps for it.
If I was a relatively inexperienced developer and was hoping to sell 10,000,000 apps at 50p each, whose considerable functionality is to tell me the day of the week (but to get the day of the month I have to buy another 50p app from somebody else - does this remind anybody of the Apple app shop?) then IOS is indeed the logical choice.
The commercial reality, however, is that Apple is only going to go one way from here which is down. Everybody is nibbling around the edges of their cake now, and firms like Samsung have the resources to see it through. Android is most likely not the whole future but is going to be a growing part of it.
Currently Apple has the edge on "nice" hardware but that will change soon too.
Dountless this will prompt yet another vile response.
I found that quite amusing, however, I think it is a bit of a red herring, technologically.
If you had asked an experienced programmer in 1990 for which platform they wished to develop they would probably have said "OS/2". Windows was a success mainly because of business, not technology. Microsoft had the DOS market and was able to push Windows onto machines, making it the de-facto platform.
You didn't "choose" Windows - that was what you got.
In addition, the alternative at the time was
a) Write a DOS application and hand-roll every single driver. Massive pain. Huge, unimaginable pain. Think of the worst experience you could have and double it.
b) Target the tiny Macintosh market and with a limited set of tools suffer the brain-dead MacOS (using Virtual Memory before using RAM and other hilarious decisions which stick with me to this day).
So Windows succeeded against a backdrop of "best of a bad bunch" and a bit of clever manoeuvring to shut out OS/2.
Microsoft did, however, make things relatively straightforward for their developers - at the time they were a tools company more than an OS company. You were given a standardised, stable API. You wrote to the API, not to the hardware. There was one release every 3-4 years, not every 3-4 months. Microsoft insulated you from the hardware.
Although it might seem like there was a wild proliferation of devices, in reality you targeted 640x480 and might later on add support for 800x600 - but if you only wanted to support 640x480 that wasn't an issue; CRTs could display any resolution without scaling artefacts. In any event, Windows hid that problem for you.
Hardware acceleration of things was generally non-existent; you might choose to offer it as a special add-on, but end-users of the time were prepared to put the effort in to know what hardware they had and install any special drivers as required.
So, it wasn't really like developing for the ever-mutating Android where an application written for 800x480 doesn't work on 1280x720 or vice versa and most end-users are only capable of jabbing their stubby little finger at the "download app" button and then crying when it doesn't work.
It's a different world now.
I do think you are correct that Apple will decline, however. But primarily because their market share, like Microsoft's used to be, was so large it had only one way to go. Microsoft are also declining fast too and Android doesn't really have a "leader" so is unlikely to dominate in the same way.
Interesting times lie ahead. Unsettling and concerning times too.
Apple products are primarily a Western niche market, go anywhere else in the world and they are unaffordable. Apple has around 5% of the PC market, and all the growth in smartphones has been in Android. Although Apple sell a lot in a growing market (and to be fair pretty much invented it) their market share is flatlining. They still make a good living though!
I'd go along with the two posts above, but would add that I still don't see different size screens as a rocket science - assuming the developer has an ounce of competence!
I have 100-200 apps installed on my PC. And that's just the GUI apps. I have loads of old DOS command like apps, and some win32 command line apps which didn't need a GUI so they don't have one. The GUI apps date from c. 1991. I have a 1992 PCB design app (win3.x i.e. win16) called Protel PCB which is worth £ thousands and still works perfectly. And a ton of other stuff. All this stuff works fine on 1024x768 (the desktop baseline for many years) and every other combination up from there. Here I am on 1600x1200, at work 1920x1080, etc. All of it works. It even works in win7 but I am sticking with XP because some of the apps keep data in c:\program files\ and win7 breaks this in some cases.
So supporting different screen resolutions, 800x600 and above, is a non-event if one goes about it intelligently. Obviously it limits the amount of fixed-size cr*p which you can litter the screen with (well, you have to make sure the fixed size cr*p works at 800x600). Also I think most users don't want the screen cluttered with fixed cr*p. Most want a moving map which covers most of the screen, with very little fixed furniture around the periphery.
You need to offer a few font sizes (like the windows "large fonts" option) and, yes, a lot of people don't do this, but you actually have to test the app to check the different font options don't **** it up. But this is really quite easy.
Fancy graphics acceleration is not an issue on a GPS moving map app. You don't need it. You need it for HD movie playback, etc. The ~1GHz+ CPUs in most "tablet" devices can render a moving map easily. Even my Nokia 700 can run a nice moving map (AFtrack app).
I haven't written windoze GUI apps for many years (do mostly embedded programming, Atmel/Hitachi etc, assembler+C) but have supervised many such projects and it's easy to make them work right across the board.
Android programmers just have to be a bit more clever and have to do a lot more of that activity which everybody in the software business hates (testing the app before it is sold). You go for a few market leading gizmos, buy them, and test it on them. If you then get 1000 people email you about Gizmo X, you buy that and test it on that. You publish a compatibility list... it's not hard.
One of the best features of a moving map app is to totally DISABLE the touch screen. This cannot be done under IOS, but can be done under Android. It's vital for aviation, IMHO.
If one is lazy, IOS is the way to go, and sadly IOS is the way a lot of cr*p software has gone. I have bought a number of apps, not cheap ones, in which whole sections barely work. The problem is that if one is lazy enough, one ends up with an app which runs across all the different Ipads but IOS didn't help you with writing it properly.
Anyway, back to Navbox/IOS or whatever...
I don't think writing a fancy app is at all hard. What is really hard is getting hold of the databases. Everything "quality assured" is copyright and costs money, and you can easily price yourself out. AFAICT, Navbox is not paying anybody for data (they get it from the AIPs, and maybe other sources).
Last edited by peterh337 on Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Interesting, and possibly a tad extreme. Operating systems are like aeroplanes - they gather aficionados (tifosi-like).
Windows is certainly not a commercial flop from where I sit. There are several thousand copies in the building where I used to work. It does what most customers want of it, and it does it well. Those who like to delve deep into the workings of their machine, or who need designer software for their purposes may or may not like it. Joe Public does. I fix PC problems for neighbours: all are using Windows, their problems are almost always hardware or virus - the fact that viruses target Windows shows where the volume lies.
I went along with the received wisdom, ten years ago, that Linux was where it was going to be. I converted a desktop machine to run a range of flavours of Linux - but kept Windows XP on it, just in case. The Linuxes were faster than Windows, quite clever, but quirky in what they would or would not let me do (a bit like Apple).
I was sort-of settling on the Linux I thought fitted best, but then the developer (one man, I found out!) decided he was bored and was going off to do something else. End of flavour! Then the graphics card in that PC died. I bought a new card, same manufacturer but different (later) model. Just one of the Linuxes worked after that - the rest dropped me with a screenful of geekspeak that no doubt told aficionados all they needed to know but was meaningless for me. The working Linux told me the list of things I had to do (starting with apt-get and continuing through a litany of machine-code-like stuff). The Windows on the machine just carried on working, after a short pause for "Downloading updated driver". End of Linux in this house. I'm told it's better now, but since Win 7 "just works" and does all I need, I don't plan to spend a few weeks doing all the geeky stuff to set it up.
Daughter 2 uses a Mac for her work. It won't run several of the software programmes I use (unless they run in a sandbox-type programme). Hers went wrong - apparently a minor fault with the hard drive, but the repair bill was eye-watering. Nice for Apple, not so good for the user. My jailbroken iPhone and iPad do the job I ask of them, and do it well. I'm still at OS5.1.1 because the jailbreakers haven't cracked the later ones yet - but they still work so I don't mind.
A simple thing: I can print from any device on my network, to the printer in the study - with any OS except Apple. I had to pay another £20 for an Apple-foxer to allow me to print without buying an Air Printer. I suppose Apple is on a nice commission for the "Air Printer" tag on the favoured printers.
None is perfect, each does some good stuff and has some sillies, and different folks will want different systems. None is a flop, although I don't plan to rush out to buy anything Android.
Moderatio in omnibus
Those who enjoy delving into the background of this stuff do seem to forget that the vast majority of end users just like their stuff to work. Without messing about or breaking it out of jail. Windows and iProducts are very good at that ease of use thing. I've just gone for an iPad purely because the android market seems extremely confused with many conflicting products.
Imagine what you might try if you thought you could not fail...
There certainly has been a lot of growth in cheap smartphones made by cheap manufacturers who don't have the resources to develop their own operating system. If it wasn't for Android, where would Samsung, LG and HTC be right now? Still on Windows mobile?
Sent from my high horse
I'm using Pocketfms on my Windows 7 and XP pcs as well as 3 android devices. They all "just work". I can use pfms in vitually any country am likely to go to. And recently installed the database and maps for Melbourne area FIR wheni went to Australia.
The 3 android devices I use are a Samsung Galaxy 5inch wifi (v3.22), Motorola phone (v3.23) and a chinese 7inch tablet (v4.01)
I'm a very happy android user.
The Sky is a beautiful place
FFS!! Just like every PC manufacturer has been for the last 20 years. It is called 'competition'. I used to sell disk drives for £28,000 a pop because there was no competition in those days. Now £40 gives you the choice of half a dozen makes and something infinity more reliable. Why do you suppose Apple produce non standard interfaces? To improve your friggin choice??
You know I'm starting to think there has been some brainwashing going on. It is almost as though a spell has been cast stopping normally intelligent people thinking this through. Apparently competition is now bad and people are put off an operating system as they have too much choice of hardware
Evidently Jobs was considering an "iCAR". Can you imagine what that would have been like? One design costing £100,000. It could be driven by a moron but they could only buy petrol from an "igarage" cuz normal pumps woudn't fit the filler and you would have to throw it away when the battery died. BUT it would be so COOOOOOOL!
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