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Archive for February 2011

Android Ecosystem - Honeycomb Tablets

With the recent release of the Motorola Xoom, we wanted to add some more details about the state of Android currently. This past weekend, we experimented with the Xoom, and we can say that's it's by far the best Android tablet experience we've had.

With the recent release of the Motorola Xoom, Android has finally matured into the tablet space. Android 3.0 (also known as Honeycomb) has been designed with tablets in mind and takes advantage of the increased screen size to provide new experiences, while maintaining the Android ecosystem that millions have come to know and love. There have been several parts of the Android experience that have been modified for the tablet environment, including:

Bottom-Edge Status Bar

Found at the top of every Android phone, the Status Bar shows the time, your current network connection, and any notifications that you have outstanding. For tablets, this has been moved to the bottom of the screen and notifications have been made a much richer experience with larger graphics and more customizable text.

On-Screen Buttons for Home, Back and Multitasking

The basic navigation buttons provided on every phone are now made part of the bottom-edge status bar, leaving the front of the device without any hardware buttons at all. A new Multitasking button makes it easy to see which apps you've used recently, with thumbnails provided to make it even easier to spot the app you just left.

Context-Aware Action Bar

The top of the screen is still used on tablets, but now it provides actions based on your current activity. Removing the need for the menu button; this makes all interfaces more intuitive for the new tablet user.

Tablet Optimized Google Apps

Google has set the proper example by making it's own apps look and function great on the tablet form factor. Apps can function differently based on orientation, taking advantage of real estate without making the screen feel crowded.

Clearly Google is taking the tablet market seriously with Android 3.0, and there are already more tablets announced for this year. The G-slate by LG will be coming to T-mobile's 4G network later this year and it is certain many more will be announced in the next few months. So far no manufacturer has announced that they will be changing the standard Android 3.0 User Interface, which comes at a great relief to consumers and developers alike. This helps guarantee a consistent experience between tablets, and allows for updates to come quicker when newer versions of Android are released.

Other Recent Changes to Android

But tablets aren't the only recent changes to Android. Google has also improved their Application delivery mechanism with some big improvements to the Android Market.  It's now completely accessible through any web browser at http://market.android.com. Once an app is selected, it can be sent to your device from the browser, no cables required. And there are lots of new ways for publishers to engage consumers, with more screenshots, more descriptive text and even a link to a YouTube video. In-app purchase support has also been announced for apps, with an SDK coming soon.

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National Foundation for Cancer Research – February 2011 Charity of the Month

This month, Bottle Rocket is honoring a very special member of our extended family by donating to National Foundation for Cancer Research. One of our team members recently had a close family member pass away due to cancer so we decided to honor his life by giving to the cause this month.

The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) was founded in 1973 to support cancer research and public education relating to prevention, earlier diagnosis, better treatments and ultimately, a cure for cancer. NFCR promotes and facilitates collaboration among scientists to accelerate the pace of discovery from bench to bedside. NFCR is committed to Research for a Cure – cures for all types of cancer.

We extend our condolences to the Lawson family. Erich W. Lawson was always devoted to his mother and younger sister, aiding both in many ways over the course of their lives. His business activities took him all over the world, especially in South America. He made many friends from a myriad of countries over the course of his life. He enjoyed golf, dining and the company of his family and friends.

Erich never backed down from the harsh realities of life and always enjoyed the blessings of life. He was a steadfast son, brother, father and friend.

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NPR News Wins Best eReader App in Appscars Awards

For many people, apps have become the preferred method for getting the latest news and updates. According to the Appscars nominations, NPR News is described as the must-have app for the lover and supporter of National Public Radio because it includes the following features and more...

  • Free
  • Local and national news
  • Search for NPR stations nearby
  • Download stories for reading offline
  • Listen to popular programs
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry

The NPR News app has deserved this nomination. As developers of the iPhone and iPad apps, Bottle Rocket is proud that the NPR News app has won the Best eReader App in the Appcars awards!

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PBS for iPhone Featured in The Daily

PBS for iPhone is featured in The Daily as an app "aimed at folks who like to watch TV shows on the fly". The growth of high-speed 3G and Wi-Fi that allows you to stream TV shows on your mobile phone is why this app received a 3 1/2-star rating. Some other great things about PBS for iPhone are:

  • Hours of quality public television
  • Fascinating online-only offerings
  • View full episodes and excerpt clips of any program

These features and more make PBS for iPhone "the best way to get your public television fix".

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NPR for iPad Featured on The Daily

NPR for iPad is featured on The Daily as an app for "iPad owners who know what they like". Many public radio stations are not syndicated nationwide and the ease and accessibility of a mobile app can be more convenient than visiting a website, which is why this app received a 4-star rating. Some other great things about NPR for iPad are:

  • Live video feeds from around the country
  • Streaming shows on-demand
  • Ability to save your favorite songs
  • Create playlists

These features and more make NPR for iPad "the most customizable" of all the public radio apps.

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Judy Johnson, director of product innovation for Dallas-based app developer Bottle Rocket, thinks a lot of people are approaching the idea of the second screen completely wrong.

“Up until now, [second screen] has been mobile,” she said Oct. 20, speaking during a second screen panel at the Digital Hollywood conference. “Now, we’re seeing any screen can be the second screen.”

Read More