I just uploaded my first Android app to the market, Facebook Sync for Android. It is very simple – it just copies your friends photos into your address book, so you see their faces when they call you. Right now that’s about all it does, but I’m hoping I can make it significantly more useful in future.
So, how was my first time?
Mostly, writing Android apps is easy and fun. Occasionally, it’s frustrating and annoying. The biggest problems I had were caused by bad documentation, buggy tools and inconsistent UI in the included apps making it hard to know what to aim for. I also wasted significant time on the RPC framework which turned out to be unnecessary – hopefully I’ll be able to submit a documentation patch soon that clarifies when you need to use it and when you don’t.
That said, Android is about a million times nicer than J2ME. How it compares to the iPhone is the real question, and I haven’t written an iPhone app so can’t do a real comparison there. I will say that I’ll put up with significant pain to get Java over Objective-C, which as far as I can tell is a stupid language with no merits at all. And I’m not a Java fan, so that’s a pretty strong statement for me.
I’ll be interested to see how much the app is used. Right now the only place contact photos are used in Android is the incoming call screen. Once you pick up, it’s gone. If you call them, it doesn’t appear. The text messaging app doesn’t use photos at all, and so on. I think this is a chicken and egg situation …. nobody is going to devote precious screen space in their app to a photo box when most people won’t have any contact photos. If syncing from social networks becomes widespread, it’ll suddenly become worthwhile to use photos more often, which I think will result in a much nicer experience.