Go for Android!!!

driftwork

秀才
I just wanted to congratulate Mike and the PLECO team for choosing to develop the software for Android.

I think its absolutely the right move.

I've been using PLECO since I had my PALM 3e and then onto my TREO 750v.

I have been in something of a 'holding pattern' for some time as I do not want to make the switch to the iphone.

I think there are perhaps many in my same boat.

That you are choosing to develop for Android means a lot.

There are heaps of expats -learning Chinese- here in Taiwan who feel the same way and will be counting the days.

Thank you!
 

ciaocibai

进士
I must say, I recently gave in and got an iPhone 4, but love the idea of having an Android option as well (part of the reason I ended up getting iPhone over android was Pleco), and especially since it sounds like it will lead to a desktop version in the near future as well.

I'm very hopeful it will be easy to port to mac as well, have to wait and see what Mikes word is on that. Luckily I have a couple of spare PCs laying about just in case it's not...

BTW, how do you find the Chinese input system on your Android?
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
driftwork said:
I just wanted to congratulate Mike and the PLECO team for choosing to develop the software for Android.
Thanks! Glad to finally have something to say to Android users other than "get an iPod."

ciaocibai said:
I must say, I recently gave in and got an iPhone 4, but love the idea of having an Android option as well (part of the reason I ended up getting iPhone over android was Pleco), and especially since it sounds like it will lead to a desktop version in the near future as well.

I'm very hopeful it will be easy to port to mac as well, have to wait and see what Mikes word is on that. Luckily I have a couple of spare PCs laying about just in case it's not...
It should work on both; basically you'd just be running an X86 version of Android in a virtual machine (there's a free open-source one that's fine for this, no need to shell out for Parallels or VMWare). The only problem is that since Pleco's an NDK app, it's compiled specifically for ARM processors (so it isn't just cross-platform Java bytecodes), but now that Android's officially supporting X86 along with ARM processors (or is about to, anyway) it should be easy for us to build it to run on both types of processor. There's also been some talk about closer OS integration between Android apps and Windows / Mac, a la Cygwin, so in a year or two you might be able to run it without even needing a VM.
 

v0rt

秀才
I picked up the iPhone 4 recently, too, but I'm eagerly anticipating the maturation of Android and Pleco on Android. The choices when my contract is up should be great.

Bravo to Mike for starting development on Android. I know all the smartphone lovers are ecstatic. I hope you make lots of money from the decision. :)
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
Not at the point where we've got cool-looking screenshots yet as with OCR, but just as a sort of "proof of life," here's a photo of fullscreen handwriting (not the full interface for it, just a test screen) on a Motorola Droid. Which has a less-than-stellar touchscreen, unfortunately, but if you press down hard it works pretty well.
 

Attachments

sfrrr

状元
Mike--this makes my ... decade! And I'm so relieved. I was going to have to carry around a WinMo 6/6.5 gizmo along with my Streak just because of PD. I'm so happy! Do you like roses? I'll send you roses. I'll talk Android PD up on every damn Chinese forum I can find. I'll, I'll, I'll...

Say thank you!!
 

Attachments

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
sfrrr - thanks! Though I should add (as if my numerous other posts don't make this clear) that personally I still loathe Android (everything about it - programming interfaces, Java in general, UI design, hardware, Google... even the Android trolls in discussion forums are far more annoying than the Apple ones) and I can't really understand why people are so excited about it; however, since we can now develop for Android relatively painlessly there's not really any excuse other than my personal aesthetic preferences for not supporting it, and I do like doing things that bring joy to our customers, so there we go :)
 

sfrrr

状元
You've hit on some of my reservations too--I like well-engineered stuff. So far I haven't seen much of that in Android hardware or software. But I just don't like iPhones. I've tried, lord knows I've tried, but I just can't stand the interface. The hardware does feel good in the hand, though. But, as far as PD is concerned, I'm trying to hedge my bets by buying a cheapo iPod Touch--if there is such a thing.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
sfrrr said:
But, as far as PD is concerned, I'm trying to hedge my bets by buying a cheapo iPod Touch--if there is such a thing.
Wait for September - even if the new models aren't that big a leap, they should drive prices of the old ones down a good bit. (actually even now they can be had for $100 on eBay, which is around what most people paid for their used Palms back in the day) Though I really really hope the new iPod Touch has a camera, since that could massively expand the market for our OCR feature.

BTW, why did you choose the Dell Streak? It seems like kind of an odd mix to me - too big to be pocketable like a phone (though if you carry a handbag I guess you might not mind that so much), but too small to provide the text-reading / web-browsing advantages of an iPad-like device; I've been assuming that the real Android tablet boom would come from devices similar in size to the iPad but cheaper or with extra features (bright-sunlight-friendly screens, e.g.).
 

character

状元
mikelove said:
BTW, why did you choose the Dell Streak? It seems like kind of an odd mix to me - too big to be pocketable like a phone (though if you carry a handbag I guess you might not mind that so much), but too small to provide the text-reading / web-browsing advantages of an iPad-like device; [...]
I can't speak for sfrrr, but reviewers have found the Streak to be pocketable because it is so thin. From reading about it, the value comes in as it is a phone and the screen size makes it more comfortable for browsing the web when compared to smaller devices. While, like everything else Android, :) all these different models annoy you, I think it's great Android is leading the way finding the right form factor for what in reality are now internet-enabled app computers sometimes used as phones. CNet review: http://cnettv.cnet.com/dell-streak/9742 ... picStories
 

ciaocibai

进士
mikelove said:
It should work on both; basically you'd just be running an X86 version of Android in a virtual machine (there's a free open-source one that's fine for this, no need to shell out for Parallels or VMWare). The only problem is that since Pleco's an NDK app, it's compiled specifically for ARM processors (so it isn't just cross-platform Java bytecodes), but now that Android's officially supporting X86 along with ARM processors (or is about to, anyway) it should be easy for us to build it to run on both types of processor. There's also been some talk about closer OS integration between Android apps and Windows / Mac, a la Cygwin, so in a year or two you might be able to run it without even needing a VM.
That sounds great to me. I guess there might be a few different quirks running across different systems/virtual machines like that, but you're almost killing three birds with one stone by creating an android version that will run on other OS's/VMs.

Seeing as you had that picture of it running on a Droid, have you tried running it on a PC or Mac at all? What is the performance like when running in a virtual machine? Wonder if you could even use a webcam/iSight for OCR at all... Although that's neither here nor there.

My feeling from playing with a lot of different android devices is that it isn't nearly as polished, but I've read numerous posts explaining that the next major android releases are going to be largely focused on refining the UI and developing a better UX. Fingers crossed it all works out that way. I'm quite curious to see what you are going to do with the Pleco UI on the android actually...

Anyway, very excited about the whole prospect. I wouldn't mind an iPad with a camera built in either... Hehe.
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
character said:
I can't speak for sfrrr, but reviewers have found the Streak to be pocketable because it is so thin. From reading about it, the value comes in as it is a phone and the screen size makes it more comfortable for browsing the web when compared to smaller devices.
Interesting... I still have a hard time thinking that would be enough to make up for the high cost / AT&T lock-in, though.

ciaocibai said:
Seeing as you had that picture of it running on a Droid, have you tried running it on a PC or Mac at all? What is the performance like when running in a virtual machine? Wonder if you could even use a webcam/iSight for OCR at all... Although that's neither here nor there.
We don't actually have a good performance profile for it even running on a Droid yet - we know the things that need to be fast are fast enough, but there are a few parts of the dictionary search/rendering stack that still aren't fully implemented, so we're not really in a position to compare desktop to handheld performance - should be quite solid, though.

I don't quite believe all of the talk about a revamped Android UI in 3.0 - perhaps in some areas like the home screen they'll add on a few more features to try to keep mainline Android comparable to HTC / Motorola / Samsung's versions feature-wise, but a major UI revamp would pretty much necessitate rewriting every Android app too to make them work with it, and with the Market gaining ground on App Store lately I imagine the last thing Google wants to do is obsolete every app in it. There'd also be the problem of carrier- and manufacturer-specific apps needing to be updated, and hence manufacturer-specific Android builds - they've finally got something like a plurality of Android phones using 2.x, a total revamp of the UI in 3.0 would mean another year plus of manufacturers releasing brand new phones running an out-of-date OS.

The possibility that those rumors are correct, however, is one of the reasons we're holding off on promising compatibility with 2.2 - if 3.0 does introduce a totally new UI framework we might end up only supporting that and not bothering with 2.2 compatibility.
 

ciaocibai

进士
Fair enough. I can't say I've read that much on a 3.0 release of Android - although I've got a bit more reason to look into it now I guess. I'll be curious to see what the do in terms of UI, and I've even heard rumours that they are going to come out with something iTunes like to compliment it - wonder if a doubletwist acquisition might be on the horizon?

Anyway, looking forward to seeing how all this develops. When it comes time for a desktop beta (alpha even - I'm keen), be sure to count me in.
 
mikelove said:
Not at the point where we've got cool-looking screenshots yet as with OCR, but just as a sort of "proof of life," here's a photo of fullscreen handwriting (not the full interface for it, just a test screen) on a Motorola Droid.
I assume it's holding August 13's NYTs front page in another process...

Honestly I'm a little shocked. I fully anticipated you'd start dev'ing android once the NDK had everything you needed. Glad to hear SWIG came through. Now I really have to start finding a satisfactory successor to my TP2 :eek: These days even HTC is taken with 4 line keyboards. Pretty much only the Samsung Galaxy Pro comes close to my standards, and I think it's only for Sprint (not on my top 3 list).

As far as release dates, while I'd rather not discuss them at all, since I know I'm going to get 50 emails a week about this if I don't: we're hoping to have a public beta-test version of Pleco for Android by the end of this year.
I've been a customer for so long I can't even remember when I first bought it, and pleco is hilarious about release dates. I remember the traditional small developer's overly optimistic release date scandals, the we won't do release date scandals (but then we can't resist so we redo the overly optimistic release date scandal), and the darned if you don't scandal. I mean hilarious in a good way. Your approach has always been very customer responsive, even to the detriment of your own hair growth/coloration (you have to completely bald by now, right?). That's part of the reason I'll be looking for yet more content to buy once the Android version comes out with (potentially) another generous platform transfer policy. The Classical Chinese dictionary is right up my alley. For the record, example-heavy tech and engineering lexicons or legal lexicons would grab my attention too.

I love the fact that you're selling it through your store! For those devices, including some tablets that don't qualify hardware-wise to run the market, that's great news, and I hope more developers start at least cross-selling from their own location. I want to pay my carrier a percentage on the sale for your hard work like I want a hole in my head. Kudos on attracting engadget's (moth-like) attention (span) too, I hope it translates into some serious sales.

mikelove said:
sfrrr - thanks! Though I should add (as if my numerous other posts don't make this clear) that personally I still loathe Android
I'd rather be hated and served than loved and abandoned. :D
 

Sarevok

进士
sui.generis said:
For the record, example-heavy tech and engineering lexicons or legal lexicons would grab my attention too.
I second that...

Otherwise, this new announcement, especially the Android part, really made my day. The thought of a platform change in the future is more bearable now, knowing that I won't be forced to buy an Apple product.

There is a new Android-based SmartQ tablet device (http://www.smartdevices.com.cn/product/ ... -1089.html), which caught my attention. Hope the support regarding OS upgrades will be as good as with their older devices. I'll be going to China soon, and I want to wait until I see the real thing, but this might be a hot candidate for an Android tablet for me. Having Pleco running on it would certainly be welcome. Possible or not, you have sparked some interest for Android devices in me (I have almost completely ignored that platform until now, as Pleco is my primary interest on almost every mobile device).
 

mikelove

皇帝
Staff member
ciaocibai said:
Fair enough. I can't say I've read that much on a 3.0 release of Android - although I've got a bit more reason to look into it now I guess. I'll be curious to see what the do in terms of UI, and I've even heard rumours that they are going to come out with something iTunes like to compliment it - wonder if a doubletwist acquisition might be on the horizon?
I think that would be foolish at this point - it's technically possible to do everything cloud-based nowadays, and there are tremendous philosophical and business reasons for Google to do so; the last thing they want to do is tether Android devices to desktops more when Apple's moving in precisely the opposite direction (if rumors of their offering a cloud-based iTunes are true, and honestly there's not much else that could explain that enormous new data center they're building).

sui.generis said:
Honestly I'm a little shocked. I fully anticipated you'd start dev'ing android once the NDK had everything you needed. Glad to hear SWIG came through. Now I really have to start finding a satisfactory successor to my TP2 These days even HTC is taken with 4 line keyboards. Pretty much only the Samsung Galaxy Pro comes close to my standards, and I think it's only for Sprint (not on my top 3 list).
There might be others soon - I think I've seen a few pictures of something from HTC; the main worry is that Android apps aren't really tested / optimized around square screens yet, so even if the resizable interface layout engines might theoretically accommodate them it's likely that a lot of apps won't work. And may not be updated if square-screen devices don't take off; that exact same thing happened on Windows Mobile and many apps were actually never optimized for square screens (Pleco's doing so made us something of an anomaly, in fact).

sui.generis said:
I've been a customer for so long I can't even remember when I first bought it, and pleco is hilarious about release dates. I remember the traditional small developer's overly optimistic release date scandals, the we won't do release date scandals (but then we can't resist so we redo the overly optimistic release date scandal), and the darned if you don't scandal. I mean hilarious in a good way. Your approach has always been very customer responsive, even to the detriment of your own hair growth/coloration (you have to completely bald by now, right?). That's part of the reason I'll be looking for yet more content to buy once the Android version comes out with (potentially) another generous platform transfer policy. The Classical Chinese dictionary is right up my alley.
The free platform transfers are almost a lock, we're just hedging a bit because 1) Apple could do something that makes iPhone-to-Android transfers impossible (such as, say, updating their distribution agreement to expressly forbid them), 2) Google could do something that makes them impossible (locking down more phones to be Android-Market-only with stricter rules on activation of outside purchases than apple has), or 3) a licensor could complicate transfers for their particular licensed content (as happened with Oxford on iPhone). None of those things have happened yet, and none are very likely, but we need to leave ourselves a little wiggle room just in case.

sui.generis said:
For the record, example-heavy tech and engineering lexicons or legal lexicons would grab my attention too.
Any specific recommendations on those?

sui.generis said:
I love the fact that you're selling it through your store! For those devices, including some tablets that don't qualify hardware-wise to run the market, that's great news, and I hope more developers start at least cross-selling from their own location. I want to pay my carrier a percentage on the sale for your hard work like I want a hole in my head. Kudos on attracting engadget's (moth-like) attention (span) too, I hope it translates into some serious sales.
Oh absolutely - I'd like to believe / hope that interest in Android would evaporate rapidly in the event that Google took a less permissive stance towards non-Market apps, so hopefully we can get back to the good old days of keeping the whole price (minus 3-4% or so in credit card fees) for all of our Android sales. And certainly there seem to be quite a lot of Android devices that don't support the Market too. Heck, that might even include one of ours; once our Android software is finished we plan to reach out to hardware manufacturers in China and see what it would cost to make some simple non-phone Android devices that were Pleco-branded / preloaded with a custom Pleco Android ROM; we explored that years ago on WM, but when WM started to go into its death spiral we abandoned the idea.
 

ciaocibai

进士
mikelove said:
Heck, that might even include one of ours; once our Android software is finished we plan to reach out to hardware manufacturers in China and see what it would cost to make some simple non-phone Android devices that were Pleco-branded / preloaded with a custom Pleco Android ROM; we explored that years ago on WM, but when WM started to go into its death spiral we abandoned the idea.
That’s quite an exciting idea - all of the other electronic dictionaries I've had over there are of a pretty terrible standard - a lot of my Chinese friends were so impressed by Pleco that they wanted to get rid of them and find a device to run Pleco. I think it would really appeal to these kind of people if there was a stand alone device.

That said, I've been playing with Pleco on the iPad lately, and now I've had it on a bigger screen, I think I'd much prefer something of a larger size. It really is a great experience on the iPad.

Still, I'd love to see the day where you could ship your own branded device, quite cool to think about. Maybe we should start calling you future Steve Jobs - first an electronic dictionary, and then, the world.
 
mikelove said:
sui.generis said:
Now I really have to start finding a satisfactory successor to my TP2 These days even HTC is taken with 4 line keyboards. Pretty much only the Samsung Galaxy Pro comes close to my standards, and I think it's only for Sprint (not on my top 3 list).
There might be others soon - I think I've seen a few pictures of something from HTC; the main worry is that Android apps aren't really tested / optimized around square screens yet, so even if the resizable interface layout engines might theoretically accommodate them it's likely that a lot of apps won't work. And may not be updated if square-screen devices don't take off; that exact same thing happened on Windows Mobile and many apps were actually never optimized for square screens (Pleco's doing so made us something of an anomaly, in fact).
My main interest is in high end landscape sliders, but I have very stringent standards on keyboards. Looking at the Droid's keyboard, for example, I'd rather just use the screen, and I've heard the same from users with my standards who've tried it. HTC has two fairly high end qwertys coming, the HTC Vision (3.7ish inches) and one yet unnamed 4ish inch monster that's started showing up in photos. Both use 4 line keyboards which are a turn off for me. I like a dedicated number row. They do maintain the same nice key offsetting and spacing as the Touch Pro2 though, so maybe I'll learn to live with it.

mikelove said:
sui.generis said:
For the record, example-heavy tech and engineering lexicons or legal lexicons would grab my attention too.
Any specific recommendations on those?
None. Not very helpful, I know. :(

mikelove said:
Oh absolutely - I'd like to believe / hope that interest in Android would evaporate rapidly in the event that Google took a less permissive stance towards non-Market apps, so hopefully we can get back to the good old days of keeping the whole price (minus 3-4% or so in credit card fees) for all of our Android sales.
I think it would at least hurt Android and definitely violate longstanding Google tradition if Google nixed it. Even though it's a largely unused fringe advanced feature, it's also part of a narrative Google weaves about Android vs. the competition: while being friendly to casual users that it isn't simultaneously hostile to -- and in fact caters to -- advanced users. And I really believe it's been advanced users driving Google products from the getgo. First time I heard of Google (search) as a site in itself and not just some weird thing that powered yahoo! was in my college's Astronomy department -- from the biggest geeks and professors. Google started from a base of power users (who think CLI should be in renaissance) and then sucked up all the people (who don't know what CLI is but would be horrified by the thought if they did) who do whatever those power users say because they can't really evaluate tech on their own. GMail and other products have progressed similarly with labs and advanced features just out of sight and used by <1%. But the <1% have been good marketers for Google.

That said, carriers and manufacturers increasingly cutting off the feature on their own to protect their app percentage is a danger. Google seems content to not force them into any particular configuration of Android, and I think they're a little gunshy about changing the industry after their Nexus One experiment, so who knows. When they do try to revolutionize again, I hope it's with user-driven updates so I can screw my carrier's build and get the latest version straight from Google (rather than from some anonymous hacker, a la xda devs ROMs) without delays. Not possible today, but Apple's proven repeatedly that once your branding gets powerful enough, you can bend awfully big foes who've never bent before.
 

character

状元
sui.generis said:
My main interest is in high end landscape sliders, but I have very stringent standards on keyboards. Looking at the Droid's keyboard, for example, I'd rather just use the screen, and I've heard the same from users with my standards who've tried it. HTC has two fairly high end qwertys coming, the HTC Vision (3.7ish inches) and one yet unnamed 4ish inch monster that's started showing up in photos. Both use 4 line keyboards which are a turn off for me. I like a dedicated number row. They do maintain the same nice key offsetting and spacing as the Touch Pro2 though, so maybe I'll learn to live with it.
The Droid's keyboard is awful (I've read the Droid 2's keyboard is better). The original Android phone, the HTC G1, had a good keyboard, so I would also look to HTC first. The other possibility is a BT keyboard such as the Logitech diNovo Mini which should pair with whichever Android you get.
 
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