Discussion in 'Apex' started by CGgonnabee, Dec 8, 2011.
Thanks for the kind words CG. Robert tells me that he has more videos on his slate to do, so I believe there will be a series of more focused "How to..." videos on-line in the near future. Right now, I think he is focusing on getting requested features & tweaks done before doing videos, but I also know he put up a summary User's Guide in PDF format on our site for those interested. Once those tweaks are done, they will get rolled into the Android version.
Apex is definitely the best sketching software out there. Once you use Apex, it's hard to use anything else.
When is Apex coming to Android?
Thanks for the kind words! I aim to keep improving things so let us know how we can do better . Constructive criticism is always welcomed. BTW, I reviewed an update to the iPad app on Friday and I imagine it will be pushed out very soon - maybe this week (?)
I know, I know... ;-)
Here is where I stand on an Android version. While the app is built around Android 3.x (aka Honeycomb), I feel it is short-sighted to release a "new" product on the cusp of a major OS release - i.e. Android 4, aka Ice Cream Sandwich. The new OS is just out on a few phone devices and not at all on any Pad/Tablets - not even the newest über-cool ones*. I absolutely insist on testing the app on a full retail release (vs. root/mounted generic) on devices known to officially support ICS from/through the manufacturer. So, while I understand that folks are anxious to get something for the new devices they are buying for (say) Christmas, it looks like it will be a little bit longer before I give the OK to release it. As a developer, I'd like to design it for only Android 4.x and above, but I realize that many people have older devices, so the thought is to release it for Android 3 after verifying (and tweaking, if necessary) that it runs without issue on Android 4. I may, or may not, support earlier versions like Gingerbread/Honeycomb, depending on feedback. I know it runs, but supporting older versions seems "iffy" to me in the long run - too many flaky devices out there with rogue versions of Android, questionable hardware, etc. - have a "few" of those myself, LOL. Anyway, nobody wants it out more than me ;-) but I feel that this is the best course for all.
BTW, I have NO plans to support "phone" platforms, nor phone-level devices masquerading as tablet/pads - at least not initially. I think most of us already know the issues with trying to sketch effectively on a 3.5” – 4” device, but maybe a few of the “tweeners” are a better fit for some, so I am not completely ruling out non-Pad/Tablet form factors.**
I will definitely let you know when I have news to share. As we know, I am not in sales or marketing, but my feeling is that we won't be as tight-lipped on the Android version as we were with the iPad version. FWIW, I happen to like the Android version more than the iPad version - it is simply more robust and the platform is a better fit for most of our users. This is my personal feeling, not a "Company Statement" but I can say that the core engine in the Android version is far more powerful than any of the iPad sketchers out ATM, including our own. It was originally built for a market segment who has demanding CAD functionality requirements, so most of the work is around effectively "de-featuring" it and then "re-featuring" for appraiser type sketching, all without breaking the underlying core, keeping things simple and easy, etc. I hope you will like it and will appreciate that I held it from release for valid reasons. The angst from the wait will fade once it is out and these new devices are all over the place. It seems reasonable to me that things should be all in place well before the typical “Spring rush” and my thought it to push for release in time for folks to make appropriate hardware choices, get used to the app, etc. before they get super busy.
*My full retail TFP just shipped yesterday, but due to Christmas shipping-related issues, is not expected here until after Christmas, even though it was marked for 2nd-day delivery. Arghhh… Like all other Pad/Tablets, it is shipping with Honeycomb, not ICS, but this recommended device does officially get ICS Still, who knows when ASUS will announce the ICS upgrade? Soon, I hope, but once it is out, I imagine I’ll be OK’ing the posting of screen shots, videos, etc.
** I seem to remember (?) that you prefer 7” devices (also a favorite of mine) so I am on the lookout for actual availability of a decent 7” ICS device. So far, my fave is still the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, but I’ll be checking out the Motorola 8.2” as well as a couple of the smaller (i.e. 5”+ devices) on a case-by-case basis. As I mentioned, I will NOT be supporting “phones” at first. That does not mean the app will not run on phones – it does now. I just don’t like our current GUI on “phones” from an ease of use/functionality perspective. Performance-wise, things are just fine… There is a “small device GUI” project in progress now, but this is secondary to the focus on proper Pad/Tablets. So, IF/WHEN there is sufficient demand, we can/will do a “phone version” but I imagine we’ll only officially support a certain number of specific devices, not ALL.
Sigh, I have four $99 HP Touchpads sitting here waiting for a stable version of Android to put on them. That is one for the field and three spares. Looks like I am going to have to sell them, buy ONE iPad and hope I never drop it!
Now for the PC, do you sell a version of Apex that integrates with Total2011, or is there one I can buy from Alamode?
FWIW, I would hope you can get some decent money for your TouchPads. They are sort of viewed as collector's items in some circles. That thought had to go through your mind when getting four of them. Man, I love redundancy, but four is a bit over the top, even for someone like me, LOL.
Anyway, on an Android-related front, with regards to the limited availability situation, my full retail TF-201 (ASUS Transformer Prime, aka "TFP") has finally arrived, although the keyboard dock is hung up due to "inclement weather" issues. I will begin testing the code base on it immediately and be anxiously awaiting the Android 4 OTA update. ASUS has a great track record on timely updates, so I expect it will come in January, maybe ebruary. for now, Honeycomb runs as expected, which is "good enough" though we all really want ICS. Initial results are that the core product runs fine and Android 3.x, as expected, though I am now encouraging some work be done to properly leverage the (currently) unique aspects of the Tegra 3 in the TFP. The engine is already more than capable of running through sketches considerably more complex than any of the other products in this segment, but since the program from which MobileSketch for Android is derived is designed for folks with this need, I cannot help but push for better performance while we wait for ICS to become available. These performance items will not delay the release of MSP (internal acronym) - the major "delaying" element is common availability of ICS and suitable devices, with allowance for some balancing for supporting both HoneyComb and Ice Cream Sandwich. Any delay is strictly for performance, reliability and special features, not some twisted plot to torture you, LOL.
On the device itself, initial thoughts on the TFP are very positive. Build quality is, as expected, better than the sample unit I had used - on par with or better than the iPad 2 IMHO. Of course, it totally smokes the iPad in every way that is important to me (and I think most appraisers), and IMHO is THE device to get for those interested in the "10 inch" form factor... thinner, lighter, faster, better cameras, etc. FWIW, I am still NOT a fan of the 16:9 aspect ratio found on (almost) all non-iPads, but I can say that the actual display quality of the TFP is much superior to the iPads and all other competitors, especially outdoors. Of course, they are "over-driving" an already excellent panel to combat the sun's effects, but it works reasonably well in lieu of more advanced tech like my beloved 3Qi <sigh>...
In any case, if it were me, I would gladly trade several TouchPads for a single TFP and rely on a modest "bump case" for protection, and move on a happy camper... . One decent device is better than several mediocre ones IMHO. These things are not that expensive anyway. Some folks feel otherwise, but have you ever tried to get a contemporary smartphone "off contract" (unsubsidized by a carrier)? Most of them are as much as a TFP, or more, and outside of the obvious "phone" aspects, they are arguably a bigger aid to one's productivity. BTW, while I (personally) favor devices with 3G/4G built-in, I have had success with "tethering" the TFP to my Titan WP7 phone, as well as a couple of retail and sample phones I had handy. This is, of course, more of an individual phone device issue (not all phones are easily set up to be personal "hot spots") but I am happy to report that getting the device to pair up was straightforward/painless enough that I will be re-examining my preference for wireless broadband in the future.
I am sure that the TFP is not the be-all, end-all device for all time. Technology marches on and we can look forward to better devices in the future, but from my limited experience with the TFP so far I am happy to say that this device is one that most appraisers could put to good use and be happy with for some time. As mentioned, the retail availability is just now coming on-line, so they are quite difficult to get. If one is truly interested in something like this, I suggest getting it ordered ASAP and be prepared to wait for the supply channel to catch up. I favor Amazon for reliability and decent pricing, buy YMMV on that… I also highly recommend the optional keyboard dock for the additional battery, connections, basic everyday protection and, of course, that “typing thing” LOL. As mentioned, my retail unit has not arrived, but I did use a sample unit and found it to be worthy of consideration. I use the keyboard dock on my 1st-gen ASUS Transformer (TF-101) all the time...
I'll post some comp shots after the Christmas break.
Hope this helps!
FWIW, I posted some quick shots of my TFP next to my primary iPad 2 and my TF-101 (slate sections only) here: http://appraisersforum.com/showthread.php?t=184531
As before, these are just quick snaps from a cell phone camera, meant to show basic size comparisons. As mentioned in my post on the other thread, I will do better shots with more appropriate (?) comparisons using a better camera and get some direct sun shots if the sunshine holds up this weekend.
Hope this helps!
[Edit] - And, just for OSUB (and other interested persons) the Android version of MobileSketch will be considerably better than the iPad version, and I will be tweaking the UI/GUI for the 1024 x 600 resolution found on most sub-10" Tabs. We already have the CAD product running on these devices (and phones) but this product is a real CAD product, so the UI/GUI is understandably different. Tweaking the UI/GUI usually happens toward the end of the process and I need to strike a balance between allowing for an adequate area to draw/display on and a convenient/usable set of buttons/controls. Higher resolutions like the increasingly popular 1280 x 800 help fit more stuff in on a given screen size, but you gotta pay attention to the eventual actual size of things, too, so that things like buttons are not too small to easily distinguish and press (cutting down on "fat-fingering"), fonts are large enough to easily see while in the field, etc. The smaller the screen, the more work it takes to strike the right balance, but I am a believer in the smaller "one-handed" form factor, so I will be spending some time on this aspect. I will also (likely) be orientating the "sub-10 inch" version for portrait orientation vs. Landscape for the larger Tabs. It may end up that either size will run both ways, but you will surely see a preference for one over the other, depending on your device's physical characteristics. Anyway, OSUB, I got your back - if not in timing, at least in form factor ;-) Oh, and just like the iPad version, the Android version can be integrated into form software, but this requires the forms software company to actually do it - we cannot "force" our stuff into another application. Even without proper integration, the sketch can easily be put into a running copy of Apex v5, so if the user is already using that with their forms software, it is an easy "Import" thing as the iPad users are doing now. Still, if you want your forms software company to add MobileSketch into their Android fieldware, we are happy to assist them when the time comes. As far Android fieldware outside of ALM's, as far as I can tell, only NCV is actually moving that way at present. We've worked with JDB in the past and he is certainly more than "just" a competent programmer/developer, so I would think that integration/embedding would be a likely prospect and IF they want to do it, I am happy to work with him to make it "drop-in simple."
Apex for the Ipad
Can the Disto D8 connect to the Ipad via bluetooth?
Gary Wade, MAI