Review: Mobile Development with C#: Building Native iOS, Android, and Windows Phone Applications

Mobile Development with C# is yet another book that I was motivated to purchase by one of O’Reilly’s free webcasts.  The title, Cross-Platform Mobile Development with C#, grabbed my attention, and the presentation itself was one of the most impressive I have seen from O’Reilly’s or any other series.  The webcast is no longer available in its original format, but it is available on YouTube, and I have uploaded the companion slideshow here since it does not appear to be available on the author’s site.  Greg Shackles is emphatic about the fact that he is neither employed nor compensated by Xamarin, the developers of MonoTouch and Mono for Android, which are the tools at the heart of the Cross-Platform Mobile Development strategy – but his proponence of these products is so effective that I hope they at least buy him a craft beer at some point!(^_-)  The book advocates a technique of developing native user interfaces for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7, adhering to each platform’s idioms, yet binding each to a common C# codebase – a codebase which could also be leveraged Read More…

O’Reilly Everywhere: Safari to Go for Android

My dream of cloud-based reading came a step closer today when availability of the Safari To Go Android app was announced on Safari Books Online’s Official Blog.  The Android app was noticeably absent on the July 18th launch date quoted in their July 2012 newsletter (the online version of which appears to have changed to “Later this month”!); Safari Books Online CEO, Andrew Savikas explained the delay in a comment on our earlier post, saying “we uncovered some nasty regression bugs and just couldn’t put it out without fixing them.”  But the bugs appear to have been fixed, since the app is now available for download!

Safari to go for Android is pleasant to use on both phone and tablet form factors; in each case the amount of data being transmitted and displayed seems appropriate, resulting in a snappy, uncluttered UI.  The reading experience on the phone is vastly improved as compared to the mobile version of the site; movement between pages is fluid, with no scrolling required, though a rather disruptive “Retrieving Content…” message pops up on a regular basis – seemingly between sections – which seems like it could be obviated with a logical pre-fetch given the linear nature of reading…i.e. chances are I’m going to be needing that page soon…especially if progress Read More…

Safari Books Online (and off!): Safari to Go for Android, iPhone and iPad

I know that this is not the first post that I have opened with a reference to my O’Reilly addiction.  Yet for some reason, I can’t seem to love Safari like it seems that I should – and I’ve tried numerous times.  First I tried reading a book on my phone with the mobile site – because the content was not constrained by browser height, I found myself scrolling down the page, then advancing to the next page, then having to scroll back up – and given how few words can fit on a phone’s diminutive screen, this action had to be repeated so frequently that it took over focus from the book’s content (oh, and if you get your login wrong, it bounces you to the full site to retry, and doesn’t bounce back after, I just discovered).  I downloaded Safari To Go for iPad the moment it was released – I do not think the iPad makes a very good eReader, but it’s easier to lug around than my desktop, so I gave it a shot.  The videos I tried to watch got stuck, and the book I tried to read worked to a certain point, and then caused the app to crash every time I opened it, at which point I gave up and went back to my ePubs on my Nook Color.  Despite owning most titles that I am interested in as eBooks, I still maintain a Safari subscription – mostly as a way to search across titles that are likely also in my own private collection, and maintain wishlists and to-read lists which the main O’Reilly shop Read More…

O’Reilly Media Dropbox Sync! (Beta)

I am a massive O’Reilly fan, and a serious consumer of eBooks – but one of the greatest hassles with my ever-burgeoning collection is organizing my library and syncing it to my various devices.  O’Reilly is currently beta testing a feature that allows you to sync any or all of your eBooks with your Dropbox account, in whichever format(s) you prefer; I think they chose me since I own an absurd quantity of their publications (I basically have my own personally Safari!) – so having my purchases automatically downloaded onto my desktop machine, and one click away on my NOOK Color, iPad, or phone, is huge! (♥o♥)  The NOOK Simple Touch, since it lacks a Dropbox app (or any apps, without rooting) is now the only remaining device which will be seeing a USB cable any time soon!

WordPress for NOOK Color!

In addition to the great apps I mentioned recently, I just discovered (in what may be the first documented case of “Customers Also Bought…” displaying something useful) that the superb WordPress app is also now available for NOOK Color! The built-in NOOK App browser is somewhat limited, so apparently I just missed it during my most recent combing-through-for-new-apps session – in fact, I inadvertently discovered it while browsing the web-based app list with my iPad!

I really like the functionality of the mobile client – it seems truly optimized for the quick tasks you’re likely to want to do from a small screen with no physical keyboard; though the entire web-based Dashboard is one click away (and can of course be accessed from any browser without app installation), the app is just great for jotting down a quick idea or making a quick edit.  I wrote the bulk of this post on my NOOK, though came back to the laptop before publishing in order to spell check and add links.  The lack of spell check, as well as the inferior stock Android keyboard (vs. e.g. Swype on my Droid X or the easier-to-use stock iOS keyboard) will likely discourage use for publishing extensive dissertations, but for what I want it for: just jotting down a quick idea while reading, or putting together an outline for a book review, it’s perfect!  ̄ー ̄

New For NOOK Color: Dolphin Browser, Twitter

I bought my NOOK Color with one purpose in mind: reading eBooks.  I was also intrigued by the fact that it was inherently an Android tablet, but, I’d not really anticipated using it for much more than browsing – especially given the limited apps and lack of marketplace at the time.  Numerous firmware updates have improved the device by leaps and bounds, improving performance, enhancing the UI significantly, and adding NOOK Apps, including Netflix, Evernote, and of course Angry Birds!  The selection of apps has been rounded out nicely with the recent addition of the official Twitter app, and Dolphin Browser HD.  The stock browser is competent enough for basic browsing, but curiously has been crippled by Barnes & Noble to prevent basic features such as copying and pasting.  The Dolphin browser has none of these restrictions, and moreover includes unique gestural navigation that takes advantage of the NOOK Color’s multitouch capabilities.  Since this is an Android system, Dolphin can be set as the default browser, unlike the iPad where Dolphin exists in Safari’s shadow, with no way to usurp the handling of links throughout applications.  My NOOK is still my eReader, but with extremely powerful browsing and convenient tweeting added to the mix, the NOOK Color just gets better and better!

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