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Why PBS Won't Do Android

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the it's-a-gateway-operating-system dept.

Android 331

bogaboga writes "You might be wondering why the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service doesn't have a compelling Android footprint. I was wondering too; until they provided the answer. They say, 'Simply put, it’s too complicated for us to even consider an Android app for the first version; we’ll continue to support those viewers with mobile web. ... As we’re focused on the tablet for this project, we’re only designing for the larger screen sizes. But even there, there are a wide range of sizes and aspect ratios. It’s possible to build flexible sizing for these screen layouts, just as we do for the range of desktop web screen sizes. But the flip side to these wide variations is that in a touch experience, ergonomics plays an important role in the design. Navigational elements need to be within easy reach of the edges of the screens since people often are holding their tablets. If the experience is not fine-tuned to each variation the experience would suffer.' They also cite fragmentation. I'm left wondering whether they didn't find support for various screen sizes on Android developer website. Their budget is undoubtedly limited; are their concerns legit? What companies and organizations have developed Android applications that are good to work with on various screen sizes?"

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331 comments

The ipad app is superb (0)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 9 months ago | (#44466571)

It's one of a few that allows airplay streaming in the background, allowing me to freely indulge my ADHD.

Re:The ipad app is superb (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466835)

Android is crap is what they really meant to say...

Re:The ipad app is superb (2, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 9 months ago | (#44466947)

Android is, well, inconsistent and fragmented. There are android phones that are rock solid and phones that are absolute shit (lockups, random reboots. etc). Now mix that with all the various versions of Android OS and it becomes a real problem ensuring quality control for your entire PBS audience. With the iPhone, development and expected results via testing are easier to manage.

Mobile apps and screen sizes, legit problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466581)

It definitely requires more man hours to visually verify things "look like they should" and this is very real with 50+ configurations of OS/screen size.

Re:Mobile apps and screen sizes, legit problem (5, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#44466771)

It definitely requires more man hours to visually verify things "look like they should" and this is very real with 50+ configurations of OS/screen size.

yes but they shouldn't need to - after 3 it becomes irrelevant if the number is 30, 50 or 2000. their mobile webview certainly isn't tested on 1000 screens - their web version certainly isn't tested on all screen sizes and resolutions(let's just say 20 possible screen sizes and 20 possible different resolutions and 30 possible viewing distances .. you should get the point, you just don't design things in pixel perfect fashion).

it's more of a problem of wanting it too perfect or having designers unable to think in flexible terms - as if they were designing a desktop app with a scaleable window. btw those ui designers are rapidly becoming useless on apple as well, but maybe they'll have few years still on windows phone(why do you think ios7 is flat design and no longer imitations of things draw for that single screen size.. flat design is easier to make flexible, so they went with that, same with metros just text elements floating around style..)...

Re: Mobile apps and screen sizes, legit problem (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466789)

Elitist management at PBS probably don't know anybody with a plebian android phone. That's the real problem.

Re:Mobile apps and screen sizes, legit problem (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 9 months ago | (#44466813)

I think PBS needs to define a standard user with standard sized hands and beedy little eyes to use their tablet application since they use such meticulate placement of widgets.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 9 months ago | (#44466585)

This mentality is not uncommon. Someone will see that there might be a problem somewhere and conclude that because they cannot have their vision of perfection, that they simply won't try at all. Consider this a victory for all of those screetching fanboys. They have achieved their desired result: FUD.

It doesn't have to be perfect. It needs to be useful.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (4, Insightful)

extra88 (1003) | about 9 months ago | (#44466637)

In that case their mobile web presence has the Android devices covered. It's not perfect but it is useful so why make a native app?

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 9 months ago | (#44466655)

It's not just that they are favoring one proprietary platform vendor over everyone else but that they are also repeating their FUD too.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466827)

It's not just that they are favoring one proprietary platform vendor over everyone else but that they are also repeating their FUD too.

Is it really FUD to say that all the varying screen sizes, etc, make it harder to code a well designed solution? The same issues were raised when the iPhone 5 changed the screen size.

Not to give MS & Windows any credit they don't deserve, but it is a small miracle to be able to support a clusterfuck of hardware combinations & video resolutions. We've all seen the problems Linux has with getting vendors to supply quality drivers. As the mix of possible hardware components & software versions increases so does the complexity of coding a good solution for all of them. The possibility of less than desirable user experiences increases too.

Apple has a long history of limited versions of hardware & software (Macs & iDevices) so it's easier to provide a consistent user experience.

As far as Android apps, make it a good experience for most, a good enough experience for others and some will just have to wait until the first round of app updates. Don't exclude the lot of them just because you can't get them all at the same level at the same time. This is the same issue we see when developing browser specific solutions. Some browsers are not going to get perfect solutions right out of the gate.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 9 months ago | (#44466927)

they are also repeating their FUD too.

Information isn't "FUD" just because you don't want to hear it.

Reality is not FUD (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#44466941)

they are also repeating their FUD

No, it's that after actually examining real technical issues they found the FUD was not FUD at all, but a reality based concern where web apps on Android was the only feasible approach given the funds they had.

I am surprised more companies don't go the web route to support android - responsive design helps address the broad scale with many small increments, and Google has focused a ton on Chrome speed improvements over the ability to update older systems with newer development frameworks.

Re:Reality is not FUD (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466975)

Personally, I wish more places stayed with websites instead of apps. I don't want to download an app for every place I could just visit on the web.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (1)

ncr100 (126783) | about 9 months ago | (#44466885)

Because having a poor experience results in poor engagement which results in a less than compelling reason to access all the publicly-funded PBS content. In short, because it wastes an opportunity.

Lots of individuals and organizations can make a good mobile app.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 9 months ago | (#44466887)

In that case their mobile web presence has the Android devices covered. It's not perfect but it is useful so why make a native app?

How come that the "mobile web presence" doesn't suffer from the same problem on the same range of devices? So they *can* have a flexible-size layout that's they consider adequate in HTML5, but not in native code? How does that *not* sound like a lame excuse?

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (4, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 9 months ago | (#44466961)

Because user expectations of native apps are higher than those of web apps.

Users accept when top level UI elements of a web app scroll. They don't accept that with a native app. When was the last time you saw a native app scroll it's primary menu off the top of the screen for example. Most web apps do.

That is actually very true (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#44466965)

So they *can* have a flexible-size layout that's they consider adequate in HTML5, but not in native code?

Yes, exactly!! That is exactly true. I don't think you understand how different layout is between a web vs.a native app. Some things that are very easy on the web are much harder in a native app. In fact this causes a lot of headaches for native developers who have clients that expect some things are easy because of web development...

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (1, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 9 months ago | (#44466639)

As I've said repeatedly, a public organization choosing a platform with a single hardware and software source when there are options available that give you choice should be considered criminal. This is especially true when that platform has a penchant for censorship.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466905)

Yes, public organizations should never choose winners and losers! That is a criminal offense! And they should never spend a signel cent that they don't have to! That is a criminal offense!

Well, guess we can never win. Better just pack up and go home. Have fun with anarchy.

(Side note... what do you mean, single software source? Is the Android for iPhone project dead?)

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (1)

MrEdofCourse (2670081) | about 9 months ago | (#44466909)

But that's not exactly what PBS did. They provide an open/standards way of accessing the content via the Web. They've then looked at developing native apps, and saw that it was easy enough on iOS, but not so much on Android.

Should a public organization not do any platform unless it does them all? While that may sound "fair", it's potentially restricting them in ways that would be unreasonable. For example, if they could do Android and iOS, would the same rule apply for people complaining about Windows Phone, Blackberry, Symbian, WebOS?

To me, it makes sense for public organizations to go with open/standards where applicable and not do proprietary solutions until afterwards, but once they have the open/standards solution done, it makes sense to work on proprietary solutions based on reaching the most amount of people per dollar spent on the project.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466911)

As I've said repeatedly, a public organization choosing a platform with a single hardware and software source when there are options available that give you choice should be considered criminal. This is especially true when that platform has a penchant for censorship.

The problem is that there is too much choice.

And this isn't unique to PBS: the BBC's Android team is three times larger then their iOS team because of the same fragmentation issue.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/internet/posts/Video-on-Android-Devices-Update

If you only have a fixed amount of resources then you have to decide where to put them, and it's easier and faster for them get something out with iOS. Also, if they're targeting tablets, the iPad owns over two-thirds of the market, and so that's where the most people are.

The PBS made a sound engineering decision IMHO. If you want to blame someone blame Google.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (1)

Coppit (2441) | about 9 months ago | (#44466933)

So what's your answer? They shouldn't have any app at all? If they added an Android kickstarter campaign to their next funding drive, would *you* contribute?

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 9 months ago | (#44466977)

You can't have individuality without individual choice. That includes all the heterogeneous problems that go along with it.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (5, Interesting)

TomGreenhaw (929233) | about 9 months ago | (#44466781)

...and the 1 star flame review is the enemy of good. We tried android apps and although they worked fine on most devices, we were rewarded with a chorus of whiny complaints and horrible reviews about how the UI wasn't perfect in all orientations and sizes.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466793)

Math (scaling) is hard.

Money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466809)

This mentality is not uncommon. Someone will see that there might be a problem somewhere and conclude that because they cannot have their vision of perfection, that they simply won't try at all. Consider this a victory for all of those screetching fanboys. They have achieved their desired result: FUD.

It doesn't have to be perfect. It needs to be useful.

I see this a lot here on Slashdot: folks assume trying costs nothing.

When an organization, or a person for that matter, has limited resources, one analyzes the situation to see if it's worth the risk to pursue an opportunity.

As an example that I know - In my case, it's app development. I don't have ANY Apple or Android products and to start app development, I would have to purchase those devices and in the case of Apple, an Apple computer also. ($1500 total: iPad and MacMini with montor - more if using iMac or MacBook Pro) And I would have to use a credit card to finance it - got it? So I MUST break even!

I don't have the $hundreds to $1500 to "just try and see". I would need to sell $1,500 worth of apps to just break even in the case of developing an iPad app, and looking at the market, there are very few apps that sell that much.

And I'm competing with folks who are giving their work away for free.. And EVERY idea I have has a FREE alternative - an excellent one at that.

I think of this as a business because I have no desire or use for an iOS or Android device. I would be buying that equipment for the sole reason of making money. And I see no opportunities to make a living as an independent developer and judging by the download figures for apps that cost money, very few folks are making enough to live off of independent app development.

Now there are some who like this stuff and spent the money and decided to develop apps and made a few bucks. But they are really just subsiding a hobby. Made enough for a MacBOok pro? Good for you? But you have a hobby - NOT a business.

tl;dr it's not worth it to me.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 9 months ago | (#44466913)

It doesn't have to be perfect. It needs to be useful.

Truly Android has taken the position in the phone market that Windows took in the personal computer market. Feature count rather than quality.

Corollary. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466931)

Good is the enemy of great.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44467013)

You have failed to elucidate the "upside" to serving this niche.

Re:The perfect is the enemy of the good. (0)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 9 months ago | (#44467069)

It's not even impossible to get their version of perfection, it just actually requires a little work.

Whenever someone complains about fragmentation or device-specific size issues, all I hear is

Waaaaah, they're making me write adaptable code! I have to know real math and understand the OS instead of having some mail-order cookie-cutter-app development training and GUI-only development! Waaah!

Android completely provides polling for features and screen sizes, rather easily in fact. If it's too much work to poll and scale according to the results, then you have no business being an app developer.

800x600 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466591)

That's why all desktop application has fixed window sizes... my safari browser is set to 800x600 for backward compatibility.. and how dare thet make hardware with different resolutions... tss... ....what a load of crap.

Re:800x600 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466623)

Not to mention I had to reencode all my movies when I bought a new monitor to "fix" the aspect ratio problem... also I have to recompile my video player so it would take the new aspect ratio... ...yeah technology is still like in the eighties :-)

would it be more in the region of copyright? Apple being a more walled garden which is "save" to broadcast to (maybe making some many of it) instead of the more "open" (in some ways) garden android?

Youtube? (2)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 9 months ago | (#44466597)

I was under the impression that youtube had a nice app for all Android platforms? Or does PBS do something more than tv?

Back up... Why would PBS write an app? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466601)

Why would PBS write an app? Not trying to be snarky, I just have no idea why a producer of TV programming would make one. Is it for showing TV schedules?

Re:Back up... Why would PBS write an app? (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | about 9 months ago | (#44466679)

Why would PBS write an app? Not trying to be snarky, I just have no idea why a producer of TV programming would make one. Is it for showing TV schedules?

It's an app. You've got to write apps.

Just like, a few years ago, you had to replace local applications with web pages because everything was going to 'web apps'. Fads come, fads go.

Re:Back up... Why would PBS write an app? (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 9 months ago | (#44466753)

You can write a useful android app just using html 5 & javascript. And that removes the need to worry about ascpect ratios as well.

Re:Back up... Why would PBS write an app? (1)

Columcille (88542) | about 9 months ago | (#44466785)

Those are called "websites" and they already have one that works fine on any platform.

Re:Back up... Why would PBS write an app? (1)

segin (883667) | about 9 months ago | (#44466811)

Except that websites tends to require more local system resources than their "native" equivalents while getting less done.

Facebook and YouTube wouldn't suck nearly as much if they provided a C/C++ client application that used native OS interface elements and used system-installed codecs for decoding video, and used little if any web content to put things on screen at all. If they need to do fancy stuff like with CSS, Windows has had this wonderful thing called "GDI" since 1985; no need to make web interfaces.

Re:Back up... Why would PBS write an app? (2)

Columcille (88542) | about 9 months ago | (#44466869)

Except now instead of maintaining one website, you're maintaining one app for Windows, one for Mac, three (or four or five...) for Linux, one for iPhone, one for Android, one for...

Re:Back up... Why would PBS write an app? (1)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about 9 months ago | (#44467019)

You can write a useful android app just using html 5 & javascript. And that removes the need to worry about ascpect ratios as well.

Facebook tried that on iOS. Google around to find out how much THAT blew chunks.

Re:Back up... Why would PBS write an app? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466873)

Why would PBS write an app? Not trying to be snarky, I just have no idea why a producer of TV programming would make one. Is it for showing TV schedules?

Fundraising. Anyone who uses the app will be nagged to death during each and every fundraising week.
Do you like this app? Do you like PBS? None of it is possible without donors like you. What, you're not a donor? Here's a link just in case you're enjoying that documentary, or music special, or history show, or whatever else you're getting out of PBS. Thanks for clicking!

[next time you launch the app]

Do you like this app? Do you like PBS? None of it is possible without donors like you...

Re:Back up... Why would PBS write an app? (4, Insightful)

pspahn (1175617) | about 9 months ago | (#44467017)

Oh, nonsense. I've been watching PBS shows online for what, eight years now? The quality of their programs are top notch.

If you watch, for instance, a recent episode of Nature, there will be a quick 15 second ad at the beginning, and another 15 second ad somewhere around the halfway point. That's it. That's a hell of a deal considering the amount of ads that are played on Hulu (a paid-for service) dwarf what are shown on PBS, and they're all for Viagra to boot.

Does PBS nag a little bit sometimes to try and persuade users to donate? Sure, of course they do, but the best persuasion is the quality of their programming. Frontline, Nova, and Nature are probably three of the best programs in the world.

They *will* do Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466609)

This isn't a cop out. They are planning to support Android. Just not yet.

So, rolling their own, with no experience then... (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#44466611)

This sounds like they have zero experience in application design, much less for mobile devices, and never learned a thing about hardware abstraction, and are trying to micromanage the interface. Sounds like they even skipped web design, and are coming directly from the printed page mind-set.

My god, people, go out and hire an app developer, they are a dime a dozen, and every two bit Newspaper, TV station, TV-Network, football team, Grocery Chain, Department store, and gossip site has an app. They can be cookie cutter-ed from existing apps in less than a couple weeks by people who do this for a living. Stop hiring, and write a contract. Apps like these aren't that hard.

Re:So, rolling their own, with no experience then. (3, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 9 months ago | (#44466669)

This sounds like they have zero experience in application design, much less for mobile devices, and never learned a thing about hardware abstraction, and are trying to micromanage the interface. Sounds like they even skipped web design, and are coming directly from the printed page mind-set.

Sounds like most of the people for whom I've done web projects. They always try to tell me what it should look like, what drop down menus they think they'll need, etc... but when you try to pin them down on specifics regarding what it actually should do, it turns out they haven't spent much time thinking about that.

Re:So, rolling their own, with no experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466713)

Yeah, who would have thought that the people who are making television don't know jack about computer programming! Sheesh.

Re:So, rolling their own, with no experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466999)

Yeah, who would have thought that the people who are making television don't know jack about computer programming! Sheesh.

Maybe if they'd done a series on mobile application development they'd know something about it ;-)

Re:So, rolling their own, with no experience then. (5, Insightful)

formfeed (703859) | about 9 months ago | (#44466735)

This sounds like they have zero experience in application design,
... and are trying to micromanage the interface. .

Most likely:
no
and yes

Sounds to me like designers talking. People who come from graphic design or ad-agencies and now do web design / interface design.

They usually want to micromanage the rendering. Because it has to look exactly as designed. Not just an interface with four buttons, but four buttons spaced in a perfectly pleasing way, perfect white space to text ratio, and please no substitute font! (Oh no, just the idea of that makes my black turtleneck crinkle.)

Re:So, rolling their own, with no experience then. (1)

CanadianMacFan (1900244) | about 9 months ago | (#44466755)

And look at the some of the crap applications that those two bit Newspaper, TV station, TV-Network, football team, Grocery Chain, Department store, and gossip site distribute!

Re:So, rolling their own, with no experience then. (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about 9 months ago | (#44466803)

This sounds like they have zero experience in application design, much less for mobile devices....

I read TFA and it sounds more like an MBA made the decision.

Re:So, rolling their own, with no experience then. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 9 months ago | (#44466879)

Their kids site is almost entirely done in Flash. I assume they're comfortable with doing fixed-layout stuff - kinda like TV, I guess.

Re:So, rolling their own, with no experience then. (5, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 9 months ago | (#44467037)

My god, people, go out and hire an app developer

I'm a mobile app developer of 16 years standing, and programmer for more than 30 years. And I'm with him and not you. You don't know what you are talking about.

Sure it's easy to make a good desktop app with a arbitrarily resizable interface. And it's easy to make a poor mobile app with a arbitrarily resizable interface.

But the best mobile apps ARE designed for fixed size screens. That's because the screen size is small compared to the size of the minimum UI element (dictated by the size of a fingertip. Quite simply screen space is at a premium. Not only does the optimum specific arrangement of UI elements vary, the optimum UI hierarchy varies. Screen designs are best when a designer considers the specific sizes. Auto layout is a always a compromise, and one that gets worse the smaller the screens in question,

They can be cookie cutter-ed from existing apps in less than a couple weeks by people who do this for a living. Apps like these aren't that hard.

The answer here is that your standards are low. That's why you think auto-layout is good enough. His opinion differs not because he knows less than you, but because his standards are higher.

Re:So, rolling their own, with no experience then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44467065)

Congratulations on having an attitude of superiority because your UIs don't use the available space on a device nearly as well as they could.

Desktop/web programmers are weeping for you (0)

ElForesto (763160) | about 9 months ago | (#44466633)

Oh, wait, no they aren't. They put on their big boy pants and DEAL WITH IT. Why is it that mobile designers are a bunch of crybabies about a problem that has existed since roughly forever ago?

Re:Desktop/web programmers are weeping for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466721)

the same way desktop developers have been dealing with Linux forever: recognize its limitations, and make a conscious choice to develop for other platforms? The variance of Android is on the order of thousands of different devices, with their limitations and quirks, and no unifying abstraction layer. Similar to Linux, really, or, in the web space, minority market-share browsers.

Re:Desktop/web programmers are weeping for you (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 9 months ago | (#44466791)

... Perhaps you could read the summary, and then maybe the article. They articulated a very specific and valid reason. You may put different value on how important what they said is, but that doesn't make it any less true.

No, I'm not. (3, Insightful)

DanTheManMS (1039636) | about 9 months ago | (#44466645)

"You might be wondering why the U.S. Public Broadcasting Service doesn't have a compelling Android footprint." This... this is a thing people spend their time wondering about? What a pointless thing to start an article with. Guess the editors are running out of good ways to spark another iPhone vs Android debate.

Re:No, I'm not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466701)

Whether you like it or not, Android is the biggest player today. Apple's share is big, but declining month after month. PBS decision makers often show Apple products, they are Apple fans. That's the only reason why Android is being black listed.

Re:No, I'm not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466795)

First world problems?

Re:No, I'm not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466817)

Guess the editors are running out of good ways to spark another iPhone vs Android debate.

Because Mac vs. PC is too threadbare and vi vs. emacs is too geeky.

And because nobody cares.

What is hard about it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466651)

Left or right sided navigation, have a button at the top in the middle to flip what side it goes to.
Now you can have flexible out the ass with the fixed-size navigation bar up until it gets wider to a point where you can increase the size of that as well.

All mobile platforms support these features as far as I am aware and have done for years.
This including CSS @rules where you can set context-sensitive website rules very easily and is probably the most useful thing added besides CSS flexbox. (the very thing CSS positioning should have been from day1 instead of all the bullshit we got with broken positioning for years using about 10 different hacks or more just to make sure it looked good "so we weren't one of those tables for layout plebs")
Seriously, what the hell is the deal with that? It took over a decade and 3 major versions to add the one thing that every single person that has ever existed would have wanted, flexible positioning in every direction. Was it really that hard? Instead, all these useless things like display:table and about 50 other variants of other rules just so we can replicate 100% what Tables for Layout was like?
Still, at least the CSS working group isn't as bad as W3C. W3C is a whole higher level of terrible, that have transcended the meaning of terrible.

fuck apps that wrap websites (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466659)

I'm sorry, but you don't need an app for viewing websites on a tablet, or a phone for that matter. What you need is for websites to properly support browser standards...but good luck with that.

get taxpayer help! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466667)

this is exactly why projects like this should make portions of it available to the public. Think about how many programmers would donate their time to work on an Android version and satisfy their concerns!! And feed it back to them!

because they're doing it wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466671)

There's only a need for 5 formats for even the most ergonomically fine-grained design. This is regardless of manufacturer/os, it is based on form-factor only. Actual resolution shouldn't matter. Its called vector graphics and dpi-aware css... for fucks sake, what is this 1992?

Does every web site have to be an app? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466683)

Jesus, give us a break. You can't go to a blog or any other site without being nagged to download their special app, usually via an annoying popup.

How to make money of resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466685)

How to cheat your client.

Write a normal application on platform x (with resizable gui design)
Fix screen size
Tell client about the "difficulties" of different screen sizes and the "extra" costs
Carge extra!

Howmany developers developing for iphone did charge extra for the ("bigger resolution") ipad version of the app...

And article dude resizable apps are NOT uncommen, and any good GUI design book is a good starting point.

I understand their pain (5, Insightful)

Shifty0x88 (1732980) | about 9 months ago | (#44466687)

As an Android and iOS developer, it is tough to support all possible screen sizes, aspect ratios, hardware specs and versions of Android. Sometimes not having a newer version of Android(>= 4.0) you miss a lot of features that people come to expect and your code is riddle with backwards compatibility stuff just to support Gingerbread, or worse(ie: Donut).

Of course, it doesn't help that Google just made the Action Bar part of the backwards compatibility package, after all of this time not supporting it and saying just use the Sherlock library, which has it's own share of complications and headaches.

With videos it's even harder, my new phone only records in *.3gp files(for video, Razr Maxx HD), which means you have to have more transcoding on the backend to make it available to others.

And then you have the Note and Note 2 which are just mini-tablets and not really phone sized anymore. And the lack of support in Android(which iOS has btw) to figure out if you are on a phone or not, really hurts the user experience.

The cost is great, and the hassle is hard to justify, so with a fixed budget I am not surprised they aren't developing for it just yet.

And think even with the fragmentation going on the iOS land, they still only have like 5 screen sizes to worry about (in the tablet area), so you can really tweak the user-experience on each version of the iPad/iPad mini to make the most of the real estate and hardware. Plus they all share a common base with most of the features already there, so it makes it easier to program for, and less backwards-compatibility stuff in your code to mess with and support

Re:I understand their pain (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about 9 months ago | (#44466747)

It is always a hoot to read these type of stories. You have the "zomg it isn't that hard" folk come in and tell us all how easy it is. write once, run everywhere! - it is painfully obvious they haven't written an Android App beyond "Hello World."

Weren't we all promised that back when Java was up and coming and how well did that work?

But, those like you that have done both (and myself) realize how much of a fricking pain Android is to develop on. You can even have the same exact phone with different carriers and experience different issues. I don't know why Google doesn't restrict the rights to license the Android name more, to only phones that implement the APIs exactly as they should on the phone.. It is an absolute pain to debug Android issues.

Writing Android Apps is a breeze, I enjoy it. It is an issue when you go to QA them that you run into issues...

Re:I understand their pain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466797)

Weren't we all promised that back when Java was up and coming and how well did that work?

I don't remember anyone saying that Java would solve screen resolution problems like this?

3GP == MP4 (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#44466783)

With videos it's even harder, my new phone only records in *.3gp files

Wikipedia says 3GP, 3G2, and MP4 are essentially the same thing as MOV (the ISO base media file format), and video can be ASP or AVC. Did you try just renaming it to .mov or .mp4? Or do you need to transcode because your camera records ASP and browsers expect AVC?

Perhaps Android is "below" the PBS (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466697)

Its possible that the demographic of Android users is not what PBS wants to attract.

All those iApp consumers MUST have more money than sense, they're the ones PBS want!!!

Re:Perhaps Android is "below" the PBS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466923)

Bogus. I'm a President's Council PBS donor, and I just got an Android.

Legit, but part of the trade (2)

Beamboom (2692671) | about 9 months ago | (#44466699)

Their arguments are legit, but rooted in the old-fashioned way of designing/thinking user interfaces. In todays world professional designers *must* learn to build dynamic interfaces. There's simply no way around it any more. It comes with the trade. To say "we skip this platform cause we don't have fixed pixel measurements to design within" is another way of saying "we have got designers who simply refuse to learn modern design work." In a few years time we need to design interfaces that works both on tablets, car stereos, fridges and friggin' GLASSES, ffs. Tell the world then that you don't want to relate to dynamic interfaces in your work... :D

Just one thing to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466705)

Bull Sh!t! Shame on you, PBS. I give you hundred$ every year, and this is the best "excuse" you can come up with? BS I say!

It...it could take time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466723)

Designing an app like this could.....could take time. An experienced developer would likely have to spend minutes, maybe even hours developing an app that can both read the resolution (perhaps based on the architecture) and then would have to use --oh God!-- a lookup table to determine the resolution. Then, they would have to use that resolution --from the lookup table-- as, as a... as a variable, to set the optimal screen size. But you would have to have someone who has done this once before, you couldn't just hire the local high school kid who has only written his own html web page, the one that says "Billys Web Page" in blinking green and blue neon colors. You might have to actually find someone (like someone who did it for the local tv station, or sports team, or business, or charity, or hire a kid from the local college where they teach them how do do this on the second day. NPR would have to do that. They would have to find someone who has maybe done at least one before (someone who has done two would be even better).

Re:It...it could take time (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 9 months ago | (#44466907)

Yep ... thats how you do it ... except you left out the part they were complaining about ... having to tweak it for god knows how many devices of different sizes to make it so that its done properly rather than 'almost'.

Thats the thing they are complaining about. They don't want to be the typical android app, where everything is 'almost' as good as it is on the iStuff.

It's easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466759)

Wealthy elitist liberals only use iPhone.

Consider if you will (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 9 months ago | (#44466773)

That by pure volume, there are WAY more Android devices out there than IOS devices. So the PBS arguments are bovine effluent. Look, YouTube works fine on my Android phone. Why not PBS?

Re:Consider if you will (1)

sessamoid (165542) | about 9 months ago | (#44466847)

That by pure volume, there are WAY more Android devices out there than IOS devices. So the PBS arguments are bovine effluent. Look, YouTube works fine on my Android phone. Why not PBS?

Maybe because Youtube is owned by Google, who also makes Android, so they have a huge vested interest in making it work NO MATTER WHAT. Also, Google makes more in profit in a single quarter than PBS generates in revenue for several years. Google has essentially limitless resources to work with. PBS is always cash-strapped.

Either you're trolling or you have little experience with the real world to ask that kind of question.

iIdiots (2)

markhahn (122033) | about 9 months ago | (#44466821)

in the apple world, it's normal to tune for particular screen pixel-counts. in all of the rest of the world, mobile and not, from the mists of time forward, people simply treat screen size as a parameter. it's called "responsive", and all it means is that your app adjusts parametrically, so you don't have to customize it for every possible screen pixel dimension.

in otherwords, BOFH. PBS thinks it has competent computer people, but doesn't.

Re:iIdiots (2)

SilenceBE (1439827) | about 9 months ago | (#44467009)

and all it means is that your app adjusts parametrically, so you don't have to customize it for every possible screen pixel dimension.

Yeah with android it just some parameters that you need to adjust and everything works fine. You really don't have any real world experience with Android haven't you ?

I develop Android Apps as a part of my job (I don't even do the iOS ports) and there doesn't go a day by without being faced with some problems. Fragmentation, low quality dev tools, bugs , ... it all adds up. Android is the Windows of the mobile world in my book. Yes it has the biggest marketshare, but it doesn't tell a lot of the quality of the platform as a whole.

The notion that developers/companies would rather prefer to be apple fanatics instead of making money is ridiculous. The problem is that for some apps Android has an extremely low ROI. I sometimes see really cool stuff being developed on the other side where the client doesn't want to invest in an Android version.

Reviews on iPhone (1, Interesting)

onix (990980) | about 9 months ago | (#44466831)

The reviews on the iPhone app (PBS by PBS Entertainment) are telling. They get barely more than 1-star. Most complaints are due to incompatibility. PBS is not in the app business, although it does need to reconsider its strategy. They could outsource the development, but I suspect they want careful control over the content and how it is delivered. Give them time.

Android is a poorly managed ad and content discove (0)

StandardCell (589682) | about 9 months ago | (#44466865)

I work with all sorts of developers of media apps in the big media companies, and I can tell you that Android media player fragmentation across versions is utterly horrific. The support just for media stacks across versions has changed so much, and the DRM so utterly buggered up, that companies such as VisualOn and Nexstreaming have essentially stepped in and built an entire media stack in software that bolts into any built-in decoders in the hardware, and provides streaming media frameworks as well as optional DRM. PBS, being publicly run, can't afford licensing these frameworks wide-scale app deployment at the app level nor afford the development cost of dealing with every version of Android. Using HTML5 is even worse due to lack of full screen playback standardization and codec chaos. Remember that Android is ultimately an OS that is best for ramming ads and redirecting you to Google and friends content properties. That's the mantra over at Google corporate, just like Windows is at MS. Developers have enough to do their silly pop games and social apps and bringing people into the Google App Store and Google Play with well-integrated Google ad network support. Sadly, I'm too cynical to be surprised about PBS' problems here. iOS is much better - HLS encode the content, send to the CDN origin server, point the API at the m3u8 URL, and you're basically done.

3/4 the apps of the Kindle Fire apps I use suck... (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 9 months ago | (#44466867)

...due to screen sizing problems. The typical problem is that the font size and touch-sensitive areas are far too small, and don't respond to the "pinch" gesture.

In almost ALL applications, text entry of more than a word or phrase is close to unusable the text-selection cursors are too small to manipulate accurately; if you don't type it perfectly the first time, seeing and backspacing every error as you type it, your ability to make a correction in the middle of a block of text is close to nil.

If you read app reviews, you'll see that maybe 1/4 of all hidden-picture-adventure type games will be reported as unusable because something about the fit of the game to the physical screen ends up a required object, needed for future progress, unselectable.

So maybe the Android environment has solutions to all such problems, but on the evidence of actual applications, a LOT of developers either don't know the solutions or don't care about the user experience.

PBS at least shows that they care about the user experience.

Just another reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466901)

... PBS won't be getting any donations from me.

In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44466939)

They're too dumb.

have you tried apportable? (1)

Michael Haney (3007383) | about 9 months ago | (#44466971)

i've commented on their original article, but i'll restate it here: this is a (pretty hard) technical problem we could probably help you with. we automatically port iOS apps to android--allowing you develop for iOS whilst targeting android using the same code base. if anyone has questions about our technology, look at our website www.apportable.com or reach out to us on twitter: @apportable

Not uncommon (1)

rabtech (223758) | about 9 months ago | (#44466993)

It's pretty simple. If you target iPad you have two form factors and retina/non-retina, though you can really just do retina and let it downscale if you want. There are only 2-3 CPU/GPU profiles. That covers over half the tablet market, depending on who's numbers you believe.

On Android, you have to target 20 different devices, maybe more, just to get the majority of Android tablets. If you want 90% then the list gets much longer.

So... (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | about 9 months ago | (#44466997)

So if I wanted to make a PBS app for them, would PBS work with me? Give me access to their API? Their video streams? If not... why not? We're helping to pay for it, right?

They don't have time to make it "perfect" for everyone, but I can guarantee you enough of us nerds grew up on Mr. Rogers that we could find a sufficiently skilled team of volunteers to do it.

Sounds like a bunch of lazy to me. (1)

Gadget27 (1931378) | about 9 months ago | (#44467005)

Desktop developers have handled these issues for 25+ years now just fine. Nothing new.

Why the hell do they they need an "app"? (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 9 months ago | (#44467011)

The web is a flexible, universal and adaptable medium. Why the hell anyone would want an "app" solely to offer content that could just as easily (more easily, actually) be offered through a web browser is just needlessly jumping on the bandwagon.

I understand the why they might want to offload the graphics and UI to the system to reduce throughput and improve performance, but that's what AJAX and caching are supposed to be for, but they aren't always implemented correctly and almost nobody uses them properly.

Cocos2d-x (3, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 9 months ago | (#44467025)

I use cocos2d-x, and am waiting for QT to mature for iOS and Android, and am always keeping my eyes open for new and better multi-device architectures.

Using cocos2d-x as an example, I have little trouble programming away in C++ on my desktop at full speed, then checking to make sure that I haven't broken anything on iOS or android. By programming on my desktop I can change screen ratios and whatnot very quickly to make sure everything looks good. My code for iOS and Android has a minimal number of #ifdefs to tweek the very occasional platform specific bits. I love keeping things C++ as it is so wonderfully multi-platform while being able to access the finer bits of the various OSs. Only once have I even run into a tiny bit of trouble with endianness.

The real trick is to make sure that compiling in iOS and Android is kept as simple as possible. For example I keep the android part all command-line. I run a tiny script that compiles and installs the App while awaiting debug data. This then keeps me out of eclipse. The crazy thing is that if there are any android problems I don't even need to close my desktop IDE; just make the changes there and re-run the script.

The final deployment isn't that hard either. I don't presently even distribute desktop versions of the apps. Development is desktop based as it is just so much faster.

So I don't know what exactly the problem is. Personally I was looking into blasting out a Blackberry version of my latest app just to see how easy it would be. My suspicions are that getting any code running on the BB and then uploading it to the BB store will actually be the hardest bits.

Message me if you have any questions about this setup.
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