Blog updates

Saturday, 11 December 2010

ChromeMarks updated 2010.12.10 - Two way Android browser bookmark sync

A new release for ChromeMarks.

You can now sync your device's bookmarks to a new folder in Chrome and then maintain them on both the device and your desktop. Each time you sync, the bookmarks will be synced both ways. At the moment, the *only* browser I can find on Android that will allow another app to amend their bookmarks in the Stock Android Browser. If I can find more, then I'll see about integrating them as well. I've mailed the Dolphin devs to ask about their app, but had no response yet.

** HOWEVER ** I had to push another release to temporarily remove this functionality. One of the users noticed that Chrome would crash if they deleted this new folder. This is annoying as it seems to depend on your release of Chrome - older releases seem to work fine, newer ones are being more tetchy. This indicates that the Chrome devs have broken something that was working fine before. I'm currently building Chromium so I can debug it and work out what's broken. Once I know, I'll either raise a Chrome bug or find some other way around it.

** UPDATED ** I have indeed tracked this down to a bug in Chrome. I've raised a bug report for it (number 66609) but don't expected it to be fixed anytime soon. Even if it was fixed, I'd have to wait for it to get to the stable channel and then wait a bit more to ensure as many people as possible have the fix. So I'm working on another solution that is a bit less elegant behind the scenes, but should work just as well for the user.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

ChromeMarks Lite released

A new app on the market today.

A free version of ChromeMarks that provides the core functionality, but the best extras are still reserved for the paid version. The following features are in the paid version but NOT in the new free version:

  1. Create, edit, delete bookmarks.
  2. Automatic syncing (e.g. like Mail and Calendar).
  3. Bookmark Icon update.
  4. Desktop Shortcuts.
The "Lite" version also includes ads and a link to "Feed the developer" via PayPal.

I'll still continue to develop the Full version first and foremost (the next feature will be syncing of the local bookmarks into a Chrome folder) so don't think you are being neglected!

Hopefully this free flavour should get some action on the market (the first person who downloaded it upgraded straight away and kindly left a 5 star comment to say so) and further promote the app.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.11.13 - now with search

An update to ChromeMarks.

You can now search your bookmarks, from within the ap and also from the Google Search widget on your homescreen.

From within the app, simply press your search button or click search on the menu. The usual rules apply with the search results - clicking on a bookmark will launch it and clicking on a folder will navigate to it.

If you click on the magnifying glass/arrow to the right of the search box then you'll get the results inside ChromeMarks where you can additionally long press and edit as normal.

To enable the widget search, you have to enable ChromeMarks as a search provider. Either click on the search widget, click on the menu and open it's settings then go into the "Searchable items" menu. From there, click on ChromeMarks and enjoy. Alternatively, in ChromeMarks, go into the settings menu and there is a new option there to take you most of the way:

A couple of bug fixes along the way - thanks again for reporting the bugs.


Sunday, 7 November 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.11.07 - create folder shortcuts

An update for ChromeMarks tonight.

The major change is the ability to create a shortcut to a folder. Clicking on the shortcut simply launches ChromeMarks in that folder. Each shortcut will need an icon, so ChromeMarks gives you four default icons to choose from and then we append the icons of all the browsers you have installed on your phone:

NOTE: Please don't ask for the Google Chrome logo - it's copyrighted by Google and not for use in a commercial app. To be honest, I don't even think the ChromeMarks icon itself is entirely legal due to the usage of a very small Chrome logo..

A sprinkling of minor fixes. Several of you have been kind enough to click the "send" button when you get the new Crash Report Dialog. That's allowed me to fix a few bugs - but most bugs seems to be coming when the app wants to issue a popup but the user has already closed the app/launched something else/gone to the home screen.

A reminder to goto the community website (link top left corner of the blog) to vote for or request new features.


Sunday, 31 October 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.10.30 - Better folder browser

Another update to ChromeMarks

  1. Improved the folder browser used when creating a new bookmark or amending an existing one. Previously it was a standard "Spinner" widget which meant it was a list of all folder, but a flattened alphabetical list. The new widget gives a hierarchical view of your folders retaining their existing order(*) and structure.
(*) order is the same order folders display in the app - i.e. currently alphabetical.

A screenshot of the new dialog:

This new dialog is still a work in progress and I want to improve the styling and indenting a smidge, but the core of it is now in place.


ChromeMarks Community

I've create a community website available here

On this website, you can see my to-do list of work. You can vote for the features you want, and tell me the ones you don't want. You can also raise new suggestions for features I haven't thought of.

You can also use this to raise bugs or ask general questions. Hopefully, over time, people can come here and find existing answers to their issues. I'll try and enter a sprinkling of recently asked questions as well.

There is a permanent link on this blog - top left corner of the left hand pane. Click on it and you'll get a popup with the most popular items on the list and the ability to search/create directly.

Hope this helps.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.10.30

A mild upgrade for ChromeMarks tonight.

  1. Fix a couple of Exceptions being reported by the new CrashReportingDialog.
  2. One person has been reporting constant "no network found" errors. I've tweaked the code a smidge (though I can't see how it would make any difference). But if the app thinks there is no network connection, it will now display back the status of the connections so at least you can see why.
  3. I've finally Googled the solution for getting the bookmark and folder list to be sorted case insensitive. I got so annoyed with the "Other bookmarks" and the "Bookmark Bar" swapping places.. :-) This has also been requested by a few users as well.
  4. I noticed in the analytics that some of the stranger errors were coming out. One as part of the sync where Google was saying your auth token was invalid. Trouble is, my app retrieved a fresh one a few milliseconds earlier.. I've tweaked a bit around here to see if this helps, but I doubt it. I suspect that Google's server that give Android users new tokens doesn't always talk to the Google server that deals with Chrome and Bookmark sync users. Grrr.
That's is for now.


Friday, 29 October 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.10.29

An update to ChromeMarks.

  1. If you refreshed an icon (or created a new bookmark with an icon) and the icon had less than 4 colours on it, This caused a crash in chrome when it next sync'd. It appears that Chrome has a sensitive spot with low color depth icons. Internally, I suspect it keeps them at >256 color depth so can't handle the lower depth icons. I've fixed this by grabbing the icon from another provider if the first is not suitable.
  2. A user has sent me logs with regular SocketTimeout exceptions on it. I've never been able to experience any myself and no other users have mentioned it, but I've changed the http classes a bit anyway. I've increased the timeout, changed the buffer size and if you get another of these, the app will retry the request once more just to be sure.
  3. I've included a Crash Reporting Dialog courtesy of the ACRA project. If the app now experiences an unexpected error, you'll get a notification of the error. Clicking on it will pop up a dialog and ask if you would like to send to a report. You get an opportunity to add some text and your email address if you like. If you press cancel, any data collected is discarded. This should help me fix anything unexpected. Please do enter your email address as without the context, it may be hard to fix.
  4. Noticed a bug whereby a user could try to launch one of their shortcuts that isn't a valid web address or requires software not on their phone. This is now reported with a nice dialog should you try and click on one of these.
Some screenshots of the Crash Reporting Dialog:

I was half way through the fancy new folder browser, but I've commented that out so I can fix these bugs.

More later!

ChromeMarks explodes!

Well, not literally... :-)

On Thursday, Android Central posted a very kind review of ChromeMarks. With phrases like "It's really that easy" and "It'll be the best $2.37 you spend today", I've seen an explosion in purchases of the app. The number of purchases has literally doubled in the last 24 hours. I've also made it into the "top 10 hottest apps" on AppBrain which is most likely due to the review, but I'm not complaining at all!

Analytics for the app showed that on Wednesday the app was opened 233 times. But on Thursday it was opened 830 times. I take these numbers with a pinch of salt as a lot of people use Adblock which stops all analytics, but it gives an idea of the relative increase.

But this has made me think more about the levels of support I can provide to you, my customers. I'm more than happy to respond to emails but I'm finding I'm responding to the same feature requests day after day, or explaining to another person why it's the Android Market that can't install my app and nothing to do with me.

I'd like to try and set-up some kind of forum where people can post questions and a - hopefully - helpful community can assist me with the answers. At the very least, people would be able to search for an answer. Let me be clear, I'm not asking for everyone else to do my support, I'll still be firmly at the reins answering every email within a few hours. But I'd like to stop the one-to-one communication and make it visible to more people.

Does anyone know of a decent free (or relatively cheap) forum website out there..? An ability to have polls or voting would be an additional bonus, but not essential. Ideally one where you need to register or use credentials  as well as I don't want a forum full of spam!

I've also decided that I'll try and use this blog more like a real blog instead of a simple "release notes" page. I'll try and update more frequently with details of stuff I'm working on or issues.


Saturday, 23 October 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.10.23 - now with added edit!

A major upgrade for ChromeMarks today.

You can now create new bookmarks, edit and delete existing ones. You can also edit and delete folders (Create folders may come in a later release).

Some juicier details:
  1. From your favourite browser, try and "share" a url.
  2. You'll get a list of applications that can accept this share, and ChromeMarks should now be in that list.
  3. Simply select ChromeMarks and you'll get a dialog where you can amend the name, url, icon and location to save it. NOTE: Stock browser doesn't send a name and rarely sends an icon by default.
  4. Click "create".
  5. ChromeMarks will sync your change and update it's database immediately.
  6. In your Google Chrome browser, the update is available immediately. Note that Google Chrome checks for updates at set intervals, so you may have to leave it for a few minutes or restart the browser to force a check.
Alternatively, in ChromeMarks you can open the menu in any folder (except the very top-most) and you'll have an option to create a new bookmark from there.

Similarly, long click on any existing bookmark or folder and you can edit their details. This includes fetching the icon, if you wish. Any changes are committed immediately.

You can also delete any bookmark or folder by long clicking on it, choosing "edit" and then clicking on "delete". Any changes are committed immediately. There are some folders you can't delete, such as the Bookmark Bar.

Some screenshots:

Editing an existing bookmarkShare a bookmark from the browser. Either long click on a web link or long click on the url in the address barChromeMarks receiving a request to create a new bookmark from a "share"d link.

There are a sprinkling of bug fixes along the way. Again, the database needs to be dropped and recreated. Hopefully we've got most of the bugs sorted so I'm not expecting another need to drop and recreate the database.

I've been playing for a while, but if you do find any bugs, please don't hesitate to contact me: chromemarks at and I'll happily help.

To celebrate this major upgrade, ChromeMarks will be 1/3rd free for the next 48 hours.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.10.05

Another update today. The normal list of tweaks:

  1. One of my users was having a problems with bookmarks/folders never appearing. The last release bought in the debugging option and he kindly mailed me the log file. This highlighted an error in some of the processing. Basically Google always sends data back in chunks of 250. But for this user, the first batch had no bookmarks in it (they may have been long deleted entries). Unfortunately, the app was coded to say "if the batch is empty, then exit the sync". This is now fixed (fingers crossed!). But I've had to empty the database to be sure that no-one else has missed a chunk of bookmarks along the way. Sorry!
  2. A requested option was to specify to auto-sync only over wifi. This is now in place.
  3. Some tweaks to the settings screen - the text by some of the settings will change to make it clearer what that setting is currently set to. Comments?
  4. The Create Shortcut seemed to be broken. That is now fixed. Plus, I spotted it would have failed if your bookmark had no icon anyway. Also fixed. People have asked to create a shortcut to a folder - it's on the list!
  5. Some Timeout handling if a network connection takes too long to respond. Hopefully this shouldn't happen often, but I notice it frequently with T-Mobile UK screwing up all my web traffic. There isn't a "restart sync" button, so I thought I'd try to catch these errors and handle them. The last release made the batches more transactional - so now if a sync fails during batch 3, when you restart the sync it will continue from where it failed at batch 3.
I've also had to add in Analytics code. Yeah - I hate it too. But I need to put them in to find out which parts/settings of the app people are actually using. I also need to get some *anonymous* and *averaged* numbers of bookmarks and folders so I can determine if I need to optimise those bits of code. As normal, no personally identify-able info is sent to Google or analytics - honest! Once I've got a better user base, I'll stick in an option to disable the stats.

That's about it for now. A reminder that the next major release will be attempting to add the update functionality to the local phone. This may take a couple of weeks to write - unless there are any other reported bugs, it may go quiet for a short bit. But I'll still be furiously tapping away, so feel free to keep sending emails to


Saturday, 2 October 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.10.02

A timely update to Chromemarks today. As usual, the highlights:

  1. A new SyncAdapter. This means that your device can periodically sync for you in the same way as gmail/contacts/etc. Note that this is does not use network tickles, so your device will stick closely to this schedule and won't be real time, unlike gmail who keeps an active network connection and receives changes almost instantly. The default update schedule is 24 hours. In the next release, I'll bring in options to allow customisation of this schedule.
  2. Some UI improvements. Got rid of the old ".." folder entry and we now have an "up" button and a dedicated "home" button, as well as a header showing the name of the folder you are in. the back button can go up a folder or exit the app - you can change that in the settings.
  3. An info dialog showing the number of syncs and the amount of data in/out as well as a count of bookmarks and folders.
  4. The ability to create a desktop/home shortcut to a bookmark of your choice. Once done, this will simply fire up your default browser with the specified url. The icons don't look too pretty as website icons aren't hi-def and are only about 16 pixels in size. Note that if you have uninstalled the default Android Launcher completely then you can't create these shortcuts. Grrr.
  5. The app can now remember the folder you are in, so the next time you fire the app up, it can start in the same place.
  6. The usual mild bugfixes and some extra exception handling - the app now checks for a working network connection before each chunk of code. It also uses some transactionality to help ensure the database integrity.
  7. The ability to enable full debugging to a file on the sdcard. Just go into the settings and enable it, but only for the duration of the current usage - the next time you go into the app, this will be reset. Since the sdcard is public, the debugging file is encrypted as it may contain your bookmarks. Obviously this file is only of use to me to try and help solve and problems users may be having. It can output a large amount of data, so I don't recommend turning this on unless you really need the output.
Lots more changes behind the scenes, though. The main one being an almost full rewrite of the main sync engine. Originally, this was coupled directly to the progress popup. But the progress popup is not useable/active during an automated sync. It took a while, but the sync engine is now a "black box" and sends messages to anyone who wants to hear them - this allowed a behind-the-scenes usage for automated syncing. The core of the logic is the same, but there may be the odd message on the progress popup who isn't accurate or up-to date - I'll keep my eye out in case there are any. Also some tweaks in the sql for performance.

On the horizon, I'd like to make the next release have some form of "update" functionality. I'd like to make all folders and bookmarks in ChromeMarks be updateable and syncable back to the cloud. After that, I'd like to try and make a special folder in your chrome bookmarks that will be a mirror of your device's bookmarks. Then you can create/amend bookmarks in your stock android browser and ChromeMarks will sync them to the cloud and you can change them on your PC in the Chrome Browser. And I also want to make the bookmarks/folders searchable.

ALSO: the next release will include Market Licensing Verification. So if you are using an unlicensed copy, this will be the last update that you can use. Sorry! I may also have to include some usage of analytics so I can find out the average number of bookmarks/folders to see if I need to optimise some of the code.

As usual, hope you all like the udpate. Let me know if any problems or feature suggestions!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

DroidEssentials - update 2010.09.21

A well deserved update to DroidEssentials today. Here's the usual list of changes:

  1. The main front screen has been changed into a standard Android Preferences Activity. This makes it look more familiar and also provides more flexibility for future improvements/changes.
  2. You can now choose the notification ringtones for the low battery and/or the high battery alerts. the default is to use your phone's default ringtone for each.
  3. I've spotted a mention of this on an xda forum - you can now choose if you want the insistent (e.g ongoing!) alert when the battery is full, or a simple once-only notification.
  4. You can choose the percentages to alert for low battery. I haven't listed every number from 1 to 100, just a sprinkling - please let me know if you want more numbers.
  5. You can choose to show the standard android "low battery" alert when the battery hits one of the specified levels.
That's it for now. As normal, do let me know if you can think of any feature requests, or you experience any problems.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.09.12

An update to ChromeMarks has just been publish to the Market. Here are the highlights:

  1. We now use the credentials on your device to connect to your Google account. I've therefore removed the userid and password from the preferences completely. If you have only one Google account on your phone, the app will use that automatically. If you have more than one account, you'll have to choose which one to use. This meant quite a lot of changes, but ultimately is more secure and requires a bit less data to sync.
  2. As requested by a user, I've removed all the fixed pixel sizings and replaced them with density relative sizings. This means all the text should look significantly better - the urls for each bookmark were almost impossible to read!
  3. You can also long-press your "Search" button on your device to start the application. This gives another way into the app instead or always going back to the launcher. If anyone can think of other ways to open the app (e.g. a permanent notification?) then let me know.
  4. Another request - you can change the behaviour of the "back" button in the preferences - it will now go back/up a folder instead of closing the application. Until there are no more folders to go up, in which case it closes the app as normal.
  5. Some bugfixes - the method of working out the root of the bookmarks was amended. Chrome uses some hardcoded values to signal the "root" and I was trying to avoid the hardcoding and attempted to work it out automagically. I guess the only solution was to put back in the hardcoding as I got a report of it not working. Another fix was to ensure the ".." was always at the top of the page - if you had a folder with non-alpha characters in it's name, then it may have changed the ordering.
The change to use your device's Google account means I no longer need your password, but you do need to authorise ChromeMarks to ask the AccountManager to authenticate on your behalf. Again, no passwords are passed around and you have to authorise each service my app wants to connect to. Luckily, my app is only interested in one service - bookmarks. So this means I can't access your mail or calendar as you'll get a security warning if I were to try. This again makes the app more secure.

Another flipside - to use the device's credentials, this requires android 2.1 and above. So unfortunately users with 1.5 or 1.6 (or other more obscure versions) will no longer receive updates. I'm sorry about that, but I wanted to make this app more secure as a priority.

When you do your first sync with this version, you'll be prompted to confirm ChromeMarks as having access - you'll see this screen:

Click ok to continue. The next screen depends on your version of Android. If you have Froyo (2.2) then you'll see this screen - where the name of the application, your own email account and the name of the service it wants to access is listed [chromiumsync is the name for the "bookmarks" service]:

If you have Eclair (2.1) then you'll see the same information, but with less colours, less polish and a bit more wordy (!)

Once confirmed, the sync will continue as normal.

This change has meant the app now requires more permissions: GET_ACCOUNTS, USE_CREDENTIALS, MANAGE_ACCOUNTS and ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE.

The first three are require to get a list of your accounts, retrieve an authentication token and to invalidate an old authentication token if you haven't used the app for more than 2 weeks (ish). The last one is so I can check to see if there is an internet connection before you attempt a sync.

That's it for now. Do enjoy this release and continue to let me know if you have any problems or suggestions. There are a few more things on the TODO list as requested by you and they should get looked into within the next fortnight.


Monday, 30 August 2010

ChromeMarks - update 2010.08.30

Just published an update to ChromeMarks.

I discovered a nasty bug during the update process where a change to certain folders wasn't being applied to the database properly and then the folder was in limbo and no longer visible or updateable. This was annoying as I thought I checked for it before. This new release fixes this, but does require any users to refresh all their bookmarks from scratch - sorry.

Other highlights:

  1. A Progress window on startup. Previously, if you had a lot of bookmarks, it could take a few seconds to open while it leaves you staring at a black screen.
  2. An initial page with instructions if you have no bookmarks in the database.
  3. Some reporting for various errors during the sync process. I'll add more in the next release.
  4. Larger favicons for each bookmark. Also a larger folder icon.
  5. Long press on bookmarks and folders for more info.
  6. Some updates to the main Sync Progress dialog - the numbers and progress bar weren't working properly. It's much better now, but a bit laggy especially when reading a successive batch. Will try and fix it next release.

PS. Next I'm off to look at the google auth processes to see if I can use the credentials already on the phone or (*shock*) find a way to use the phone's connection to gtalk instead of making my own.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

ChromeMarks - sync your Google Chrome bookmarks to your Android

Use Google Chrome or a Chromium browser..?
Like the way that the bookmarks are stored in the "cloud"..?
Want to use one of those bookmarks on your Android device..?

Well, as luck would have it - I've just released a new Android application to the market called ChromeMarks:

Here's a shot of some bookmarks in my browser

Here's a shot of the same bookmarks synced to my phone
This program will connect to the Google Sync service, retrieve your bookmarks and store them on your phone. Press any bookmark to fire it up in your browser of choice. Click on a folder to navigate through your list. A mere click of a button and any recent updates will be retrieved and merged.

The program works by communicating with Google 100% the same way as Google Chrome does - I do not do anything differently to your browser. The same with each update - they are performed exactly the same.

This is the first release - I suspect there are a few bugs, and there is even a big list of new features to add.


  1. The stock Android browser does not understand Folders - so it is unlikely I could ever find a way to merge these so they work in the default browser.
  2. Other android browsers tend to store bookmarks in their own custom database. I'd like to see if I could merge with them, but I don't want to tie myself down to individual programs.
  3. This is a ONE-WAY process *currently* - all updates are synced to your phone, but at the moment, there is no way to make updates on your phone and sync them back to the cloud. Yet.
  4. Bookmark data can take a significant amount of space. With 900 bookmarks and folders, the database is almost 0.5mb in size. In a later release, I'll flick the flag to allow Froyo users to stored it on the sd card.
  5. Similarly, the amount of data returned from the Google Sync service can be heavy - especially for the very first sync. If you have a lot of bookmarks and are on a limited data plan, I recommend doing the first sync on wi-fi. For example, my 900 bookmarks and folders was a 473k download. There is nothing I can do to make this smaller - I'm using the exact same messages that your browser uses when first setting up a sync.
  6. Very little error trapping and handling of problems. For example - if you enter the wrong password, you may get problems. If Google prompt for a captcha, you may get problems. If you don't have bookmarks stored, you may get problems. These are on the list to fix soon.


  1. Performance improvements. The code to retrieve data from the sync is using the java libraries provided by Google. But they are a bit heavy and do trigger a significant amount of garbage collection each time you do a sync. For that reason, the sync process can be a bit slow. I'd like to make it slicker.
  2. Updates. I'm not quite sure how as I imagine it would be fiddly to have to note a url, fire up a new app and then press buttons to add it in another app. I'll try to see if I can hook into various places - one idea is to catch the request ot save the url to the local stock browser and then automatically fire up my app and say "would you like to sync this to the cloud?" and ask you to choose a folder.
  3. Favicon fixes. A large number of my bookmarks in Google Chrome appear to be missing favicons. Maybe this app could retrieve the missing ones..? And then maybe it could sync them back to Google..?
  4. Automated sync. Obviously it would be nice to make it instantly update from the cloud. But that would require a permanent data connection, and could be costly on your data plans. So maybe a timed sync to go off at a time of your choosing..?
  5. Better error trapping - especially if Google prompt for a captcha or you get your id/password wrong.
  6. I don't like storing the user's id and password. Rest assured they are not abused by me in any way and are stored with all the other private data in the application. I'd like to try to use something like OAuth, but would prefer to merely "ask" the phone to authenticate using the details you've already supplied it, and return me a key to use for the sync.
  7. Search/Filter. Could be nice to be able to press the search button, enter some text and get a list of bookmarks and folders that match.
  8. Integration of some kind with other android browsers. Would love to find a way to get the bookmarks and folders visible in some of the browsers. Dolphin looks to be promising especially since GoMarks appears to work with it.

It has taken me a significant amount of time to get this app to work, hence, it is a priced app in the market. Sorry if you are in a zone where you cannot access priced applications - you need to contact Google about that.

Enjoy! H.

Updated: 02 Oct to strikethrough out of date stuff.

Monday, 9 August 2010

DroidEssentials - update 2010.08.09

Another publish today. Just some optimisation of the app to stop it trying to start the service if it was already running. I know Android won't do much if the service is already running, but I wanted to avoid even the Toast message appearing as well. Also had a play with the "About" page and added a link to this blog. Also added a "Release Notes" popup as well to detail the changes since the last release. For both these dialogs, I used the techniques detailed in the NetCounter app, which I've found to be a great source of knowledge!


Sunday, 1 August 2010

DroidEssentials updated

Another update to DroidEssentials today. This was due to a request in the market comments, but was something I'd already looked at last week.

The idea was to try and get different coloured icons depending on the theme the user had installed on their device. For example, vanilla eclair has a white status bar, so the icons are black. But some users have a theme that has a black notification bar (like Sense) and the black icons don't come out well.. :-)

I tried several fancy ways of working out the colour of the notification bar dynamically, but gave up (for now?) and added a tick box in the main app page. If you tick the box, you'll get white icons which work better on a back blackground.

Don't have any screenshots as I couldn't get any custom roms to run in the emulator and I had some trouble with nandroid so didn't want to reflash my phone.


Saturday, 31 July 2010

DroidEssentials updated

Updated DroidEssentials today.

  1. Removed some redundant classes to make it a bit leaner.
  2. When you start the app, it will only start the service if you have ticked the box - previouslyit always started the service.
  3. When you start the service, it no longer tries to start the same service several times (oops!). This had no effect other than wasting some time.
  4. Touched up some of the notification icons - the low battery looked a bit weak and the full battery had no transparent background.
  5. The app used to wait a minute after a boot had finished before it the service was started. I've removed the 1 minute pause as the starting of the service doesn't take much time or cpu so no need to wait.
Hope you like the updates.

Friday, 30 July 2010

First Android App published - DroidEssentials

One of the best custom ROMs for the HTC Hero is VanillaEclair. It's an Eclair build and is much lighter than the standard HTC Sense build. unfortunately, there are some part of Sense that are actually quite good - and they don't come as standard with stock Eclair.

One of these is the simple concept of an icon to highlight when a headphone is plugged in. Looking in the eclair framework, I can see it being spotted, but it does nothing with that. I was also getting a bit annoyed with my battery getting down to zero and not enough notifications. I also dislike leaving the phone on charge all night - I know the hero probably stops accepting current, but the charger is still plugged into the mains and sucking power.

So I built an android app to try and solve some of these issues. The app is called DroidEssentials and is is available now in the market for free.

It involves a simple service that registers for battery changes and headset changes.

  • When a headset is plugged in, an icon shows and stays there until the headset is unplugged. If it has a mic attached, you get a slightly different icon.
  • When the battery reaches 10%, you get an audible notification with a vibrate and an icon. You will get another at 5% and all the way down to 0%.
  • When the battery is being charged and reaches 100%, you get an audible notification and an icon. It stays there until you acknowledge the notification, or unplug the charger.
I've only tested this with my GSM Hero running VanillaEclair5 (based on android 2.1). It may work on other phones or android levels - but I have no way of knowing. if anyone installs on something else, please do let me know if it works or not!

Some screenshots:

shot showing the headphone icon on the status bar
The settings screen - shows that you can enable/disable all of the notifications

So, if you are missing some of these Sense tweaks and you would like to get a fix for them, plus a couple of new additions, feel free to download and let me know what you think.

Comments, suggestions and features greatly received!

UPDATE: Comments on the Market indicate that this works well on Froyo and also on a Desire running Eclair. Thanks for the comments.