The Real Problem with Android

25 10 2010

Hint:  It’s not fragmentation.  Yet.

It’s old news by now, but Steve Jobs in a recent earnings call tore into Android.  Specifically, he used TweetDeck’s recent blog post about the Android ecosystem and ‘massive fragmentation’ the developers had to contend with.  Though accurate, the argument is a bit disingenuous as TweetDeck’s CEO Iain Dodsworth tweeted:

(@iaindodsworth) Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn’t. It wasn’t.

Fragmentation is potentially a real issue because of Android’s rapid development cycle, handset makers’ custom skins, and carriers’ draconian upgrade schedules.  However, it has not crippled the OS yet.  The most disturbing aspect of this tiff is Android VP, Andy Rubin’s response:

(@arubin) the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git:// ; repo sync ; make

What?  For those of you that don’t know, essentially this is the code to download and build the latest version of Android.  Okay, I get it.  Android is “open”.  Anyone can get the source code.  Ironically, not only does this fail to counter the fragmentation argument, it encourages it.

This tweet epitomizes the real problem with Android.  The default response for any complaints against the Android platform is  to “root your phone.”  Carrier not updating your phone?  Root it.  Handset maker installing bloatware?  Root it.  Unfortunately, the average consumer has no interest in ‘rooting’ regardless of its simplicity.  They certainly aren’t going to download the source, compile it, and deploy it to their phone.

It would be unfair to say that Android is not a great operating system.  It is alluring because it gives consumers a superb experience at a competitive price.  However, unless the “root your phone” mindset changes, the doom-and-gloom prophecies of fragmentation will become a reality.  As time goes on and the feature gap widens, end users may grow frustrated being left behind with 9 months remaining on their contract.  They will jump ship as fast as they came.



Interesting Fact: According to Google’s own metrics, only 1/3 of Android users are on the latest version nearly six months after it’s release.  To be fair, 2/3 of Windows users are still on XP one year after Windows 7.

Anatomy of a Submission

24 10 2010

There is a certain aura of mystery surrounding the submission process, so here is a timeline of my experience.

Initial Submission – 10/12

I had been approved for early submission so I read all of the relevant documentation I could find to kill the time before I could submit.  Two great reads are the Windows Phone 7 Application Submission Walkthrough and the Windows Phone 7 Application Certification Requirements.

After a few opening day glitches on the app hub site, the submission was actually relatively painless.  However, I never received any type of confirmation email, leading me to obsessively check the site for updates.

Testing Failed – 10/14

My app sat at “Testing in Progress” for a few days before I noticed a change in the status to “Testing Failed”.  Once again, I never received an email and only discovered this due to my aforementioned neurotic refreshing of the dashboard.

When I reviewed the test results PDF, the failure was in section 4.6 – Application Screenshots.   It was accompanied with the rather cryptic comment "There screenshots are emulations of the application."  (copied verbatim)

From the testing Expected Result:

Test Process Required:

  1. Locate the application screenshot files for the submission.
  2. The submitted screenshots must be direct captures of the phone screen or the emulator with the application running.
  3. Screenshots must not be graphically-enhanced.
  4. Screenshots are 480×800 pixels PNG images.

I took great care to ensure the screenshots were 480×800 and not graphically enhanced.  I submitted a support ticket right away and posted in the forums as “emulations of the application” does not clearly describe the problem to me.  Isn’t that exactly what they would expect if the screenshot came from the emulator?

It turns out that the screenshots included the emulator itself.  Pro tip: don’t show the emulator chrome in your screenshots.

The only support communication I have received from Microsoft came in an email a day later (10/15):

Due to higher than anticipated submissions associated with the launch of the App Hub, we are currently delayed responding to support requests. Your request has now been assigned a ticket number (as noted in the subject line) and regular updates will be provided as we work to resolve your issue.

Thank you for your patience.

As of this writing, I still have not heard anything.  The forums, however, were very helpful.

Submission in Progress – 10/14

I updated my screenshots and submitted a few hours later.  If you have Windows 7, use the Snipping Tool.  Mike Ormond has an excellent blog entry about this.

Unfortunately, I did not notice that my submission did not go through.  I assumed that a status of “Submission in Progress” meant that it had been submitted but they had not started testing it.  You would think that my compulsive behavior would have caught this right away.  Oops.

Testing In Progress – 10/19

After 5 days of “Submission in Progress” I suspected something was awry.  Since I had received no emails or support from Microsoft up to this point, I decided to check the forums again where I discovered that “Submission in Progress” meant that I had not submitted yet.  The fix was simply to edit the submission and submit it.  Didn’t I already do that?  This time the status changed to “Testing in Progress”.  Once again, we wait.  Grrr.

Testing in Progress – 10/21

I noticed that, though my app was still “Testing in Progress”, it had a last updated value of 10/21.  Were they actually doing something with it or had I accidentally clicked something to force myself to the back of the queue again?  Ugh, more waiting.

None – 10/22

In the early morning hours of 10/22 my status had changed to “None”.  Despite my gut reaction, this is actually a good thing that means the app has passed the testing phase and is getting ready to be published.  That makes sense, right?

Published to Marketplace – 10/23

Saturday morning, I woke up to a status of “Published to Marketplace”.  For this, I did finally receive an email from Microsoft (typos and all):

Congratulations [MY NAME] of  [PUBLISHER NAME]!  [APP NAME] has successfully passed certification for Windows Phone Marketplace! You may now publish your application to the Marketplace.

Your application [APP NAME] [APP VERSION] is ready to be published to the Marketplace. If you chose to automatically publish your application during the submission process, you will receive an additional email once the application has been published. If you did not chose to automatically publish your application after certification, you can do so now by going to your application listing at
You will need your Windows Live ID to access this application. Clicking the link above will redirect you to your Windows Phone dashboard where you can view the status of the application and publish it!

Microsoft respects your privacy. To learn more, read our privacy statement at
Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052
To ensure reliable delivery of future communications from the Windows Phone team, please add to your safe senders list.

This does not actually mean it is published to the marketplace.  At this point, I have still refrained from my victory dance because it still isn’t available for download.

Published to Marketplace (this time for real) – 10/23

Around 4 pm, Boozazzl was actually available on the Zune Marketplace.  Despite not yet receiving the aforementioned “additional email”,  dancing commenced.

I am curious if it would be published faster if I had chosen manual instead of automatic.  My guess is no.


The submission process is a little rough around the edges, but pretty smooth overall.  Okay, it’s a lot rough around the edges, but that is the risk you take being an early submitter.  I am confident that they will improve quickly.

My number one request would be status change emails.  It’s possible that these already exist and the high volume of submissions may be causing issues.

My best advice is be patient and when in doubt, check the forums.  Now that several people have made it through, there is a substantial knowledge base and they are very eager to help. 

Good luck.

Be safe. Boozazzl.

23 10 2010

Boozazzl, the fun yet robust blood alcohol concentration (BAC) estimator for Windows Phone 7 is now live on the Zune Marketplace!  (Download Now).  Though calculating BAC is a complex task, Boozazzl’s intuitive interface and intelligent defaults makes this simple.

How much water is in your body?  How fast does your body process alcohol?  How long does it take you to finish a drink?  All of these items and many more are factored in for estimating your BAC. 

Already been drinking?  Boozazzl makes it easy to add past drinks.  Feeling adventurous?  Add drinks from the future to see where you might end up.  Boozazzl doesn’t just show your current BAC, it’s a record of where you’re going and where you’ve been.

At the end of the day, it is never safe to drink and drive.  Have fun, but be safe.


Hello World

12 10 2010

Yesterday was an extremely busy day for Azzl as Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 was officially announced and we submitted our first app, Boozazzl, to the Windows Phone 7 marketplace.  This begins what will hopefully be a long and illustrious journey in the world of mobile application development.

Hello world.