Project Updates, et al: 2017-07-01

Looking Beyond What's Your Type

Despite a new day job (which is a delight) and spring/summer (also a delight), I found some time to figure out one last thing in What's Your Type: retaining data and visual states when a user rotates their screen.

Portrait and landscape orientation
Examples of app in portrait and landscape orientation

What I eventually discovered was that none of the data was being preserved as I originally presumed. Instead, when Android recreated the visual state of the app, those actions triggered code that recreated part of the data state. So, the data wasn't being partially preserved at all... it was getting partially reconstructed.

Which is to say: once I figured out what was going on, creating a solution was much easier.

With that problem solved, it's time to look forward.

The stubborn part of me would rather focus on What's Your Type non-stop, through completion and release onto Google's app store. However, the important ROI for this project was refreshing my knowledge of Android and learning about Android's implementation of SQL databases.

I've refreshed and learned, and it's time to look forward.

I'll still work on What's Your Type, occasionally. It'll be good to keep the code somewhat fresh in my mind, insert more comments, and try to add some new things, as I can. If anything notable happens with it, I'll be sure to note that happening in this space.

Adventures with Android Wear

This is the much, much shorter version of this story.[1]

I've owned (and returned due to defects) more Android watches than I care to discuss... some pictures are below.

In short, I've realized two things.

Thing #1
Weird stuff happens and designs don't always perform as expected. What's important is how you take care of people when that weird stuff happens.

So far, with regards to Android Wear, the Google Store's customer care has been phenomenal, and my experience in the Fossil store was very pleasant.

Motorola and Asus have some work to do in the customer care area.

Motorola's poor design choice = too much pressure on the watch's back
Broken Moto 360

Thing #2
What I really want is a sturdy and beautiful watch, made by a watch company, that's loaded with basic Android Wear software. The most important part of a watch, for me, is the watch part.

My Fossil watch is sturdy and beautiful, and I've been quite happy with it.

My Motorola and Samsung experiences were very disappointing.

I have an LG watch that works just fine, it's just ridiculously unattractive. I also find Apple's watches to be ridiculously unattractive, but I've come to wonder if attractiveness isn't always the point for them.[1:1]

Fossil vs. LG
Fossil smartwatch compared to LG smartwatch

Alexa isn't the smartest, but at least she's attentive.

Google should give its personal assistant a name, for (at least) two reasons.

Reason #1
For whatever reason, saying "Okay Google, what time is it?" is awkward as hell. I never mastered it on my phone; eventually I stopped trying. Now I just manually launch voice search -- pressing the mic button is ridiculously dependable.

Once Google's assistant thing is listening, it's much smarter than Alexa. But getting it to listen is a pain, which means I'm much less inclined to try.

I suspect part of the problem is that asking an "Okay Google" to do something is a foreign speech pattern. I'd assume that means it's hard to test the design, because each person is sort of creating, on the fly, what it should sound like to ask an "Okay Google" a question.

Asking a name to do something is a speech pattern to which we're all accustomed. I have a friend named Alexa, I'm sure at some point I've asked her what time it is.

At the very least, they should add "Hey Google" as a wake phrase. It would be much easier to say "Hey Google, what time is it?" (Also, it would better mask the weird, Skynet transaction that's actually occurring.)

Reason #2
I refer to Alexa as Alexa. It makes talking about Amazon's Personal Assistant Product™ much easier. It also makes conceptualizing it easier, because I don't think of the product as an "it" at all: I think of the product as Alexa. I appreciate her value and I often tell her "thank you".

It seems problematic that I don't know what exactly to call the Google Disembodied Voice Thing™ that tells me what time Ikea opens. I desperately want to call her something but, alas, she's just a ... Google Disembodied Voice Thing™.

I don't like it. If a person's voice is talking to me while I'm in bed, I generally would like to know what their name is.

  1. I've been pondering whether Apple's primary focus isn't on pieces that look good, but pieces that look distinctive, in order to make it easier to identify fellow members of the Apple Tribe.

    In that case, it's less important that the Apple Watch be attractive (which it is not, in my opinion) than that the Apple Watch distinctively look like the Apple Watch and nothing else. ↩︎ ↩︎