Monday, June 2, 2014

Google Play Books 3.1.49

I saw a Google Play Books update was available and decided to do a quick teardown.  The most interesting thing I saw was a new Offers activity.  I'm not sure exactly where it will show up, but here is roughly what it will look like:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Every. Single. Time.

The Play Store app is somewhat special among Android apps, in that it is updated silently.  Google recently updated their Play Store app to use the new drawer layout.  It has been rolling out over a several-week span.

When I got it a couple of weeks ago, I realized it only because the menu went from around six items, down to just two.  Fortunately, I had read that this update was coming, so I figured out pretty quickly that the other menu items had been moved to a drawer and all was well.

A few days later, my son couldn't find the 'installed apps' section.  I showed him the new drawer and all was well.

More recently, my elder daughter couldn't find the 'my wishlist' section.  I showed her the new drawer and all was well.

I know other cases of people encountering this little bump in the road.  On Google's Android development site, there is discussion about the relatively-new drawer pattern.  There is even discussion of how to introduce users to your app's drawer, so they won't be confused.  Too bad the Google Play Store app developers couldn't have paid a little closer attention to Google's developer suggestions.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I'll Get Started, After My MTE...

C'mon Jon, I'm just starting chapter three and you're really pulling the rug out from under one of my stand-by excuses.  What do you mean I can start living with purpose today, without having 'found my purpose'?  See here's the deal as I've figured it to this point...

First you're supposed to plan out an extended weekend where you can get away by yourself.  Preferably it should be some rustic cabin in the middle of nowhere, so there are no distractions and you can be alone with God and His creation.  While you're there you spend a ton of time resting and praying.  You have a Mountain-Top Experience (MTE1) with Him, and somewhere in there he gives you a vision revealing your One True Purpose (OTP2) in this life.  Then you can start living life to its fullest.

I'm running out of excuses here Mr. Acuff.  Give me a break, will you?

1. MTE - I don't plan to actually use that acronym again, but the term is thrown around so much in Christian circles that it seemed to deserve an acronym.
2. OTP - Alright, you caught me. I just like acronyms.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Improving Android App Tear-downs

Every now and then, I've done app tear-downs a la Ron Amadeo (unpublished though).  My primary tools have been apktool and meld.  I noticed that sometimes there was a lot of noise in the smali folder from changing 0x7f...... literals.  I determined that this was happening because of changes in the resource ID mapping.  For instance might map to 0x7f010001 in one version of an app, but map to 0x7f010003 in the next version.

So a few months ago, I wrote a small Java program that parsed the ID's in res/values/public.xml and inserted comments in the smali files where matches were found.  I could then add rules in meld to filter this noise out.  I wrote the program in Java with the thought of eventually merging it with apktool.  However, it has just set there.

A few days ago I decided to push it forward.  I contacted the apktool developers on IRC and decided that it should really be integrated with baksmali.  By putting it there, the comments could be generated as the smali files are generated, rather than inserted in a post-process.

Making the changes to baksmali was harder than I expected, but I finally got it working.  It is still a bit rough, but this morning I made a pull request via github.  If it makes it in, there will still be some work to do on apktool, but I believe the hardest part of the coding is past.  Hopefully app tear-down will soon be just a tiny bit easier for everyone.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wishlists in Google Play getting close?

A few days ago, a new version of the Google Play store app (3.9.16) started being pushed to Android devices.

I decided to dig into the APK, and discovered that work on the wishlist feature appears to be pretty far along.  I dug deeper and found a setting that could be modified to enable the feature.  I did so and here is what it looks like now:

Bringing up the menu/actions now includes a "My Wishlist" entry. Which is pretty sparse initially.

When you go to the page of an app (or movie, or music album, ...) that you don't own, a bookmark-like icon now appears in the action bar. Clicking that action bar icon changes the icon and pops up a toast message.

Now when you go to "My Wishlist", there is something to see there.

Update: After a little more testing I did find that upon clicking the app from "My Wishlist", de-wishlisting it, then hitting back, the app still appears.  Exiting and re-entering "My Wishlist" does update the list.

As far as the app goes, the feature looks nearly ready to go.  I have no insight into any back-end server or web site pieces that may be in the works.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day Against DRM

While I don't have the desire to rant at length about DRM right now, I do feel compelled to make some mention of it on this "Day Against DRM". Others have explained very well the reasons to avoid DRM. This post, however, is a call to the big book-sellers to ditch the DRM.

Once upon a time, all songs in the iTunes store were clad in DRM. So I continued buying CDs. Eventually, Amazon started becoming a major player in digital music, providing DRM-free MP3's. While I would have preferred something other than MP3, I have purchased digital music from them. Around the time Amazon finally arranged deals with most of major labels, Apple started taking steps toward making the iTunes store DRM-free.

I recently purchased a NookColor eReader from Barnes & Noble. I am running a full version of Android on my NC, so I have access to the OverDrive app (for borrowing eBooks from the local library), the Nook app, the Borders eBooks app, and the Kindle app. However, I have yet to buy/borrow a single eBook from any of these. Make no mistake, I have bought eBooks, but only ones that are DRM-free. For now, it must be DRM-free or I will just look for a used dead-tree version.

Barnes&Noble, Amazon, and Borders: treat me like a responsible adult by offering the books I want DRM-free and I will buy them.

BTW, I have not yet bought any books from, but I intend to. They have a good selection of books, both DRM-free and DRM-clad. You can refine your search to only show those that are DRM-free, which is what I do.

Friday, February 18, 2011


In reading Seth Godin's Linchpin I ran across several thoughts that really resonated with me.

In the chapter "The Resistance" Seth discusses many of the ways we sabotage our own success. In the section "This Might Work" he points out that often our problem is not fear of failure, but rather success. "Consider the argument that it's just as likely you hold back out of fear that something might work." As bizarre as this may sound to some, I admit that I have sometimes found myself captive to this very fear. Change is uncomfortable, even if it is for the better.

In the chapter "The Powerful Culture of Gifts" Seth compares giving gifts without v. with the expectation of getting. One statement really hit home with me, because I have thought much the same thing myself: "Consider the the family that exchanges cash at Christmas. If everyone is giving and getting the same amount, there's not much happening, is there?" I am getting more and more uncomfortable with the "I got you something so you owe me"/"You got me something so I owe you" way of doing things.

After finishing the book, I was considering how to summarize the book. My first thought was something along the lines of 'how to be a valuable commodity to whoever your employer may be.' Then I had to laugh at myself at how totally wrong that summary was. The very fact that I would use the word 'commodity' in the description bears witness to Seth's premise that we have marginalized employees to mere cogs in a factory. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say the point is to be 'invaluable' and NOT just another 'valuable commodity.'