I’ll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes. (Or eight months…)
― Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

It’s here, it’s finally here, after months and months of work and a few blog posts Andromo 3.0 has been released. There have been a lot of changes, I won’t go over all of them, but if you are interested I suggest you read our changelog.

But what do these new changes really mean to you, the Andromo developer? In my opinion it means the following:

  • You can make your apps look different.
  • You can make your apps look better.
  • You can customize your dashboard.
  • You can achieve looks and functionality that were impossible before.
  • Your app will look much more modern and fit into the Holo theme.

In a nutshell: you can do more and your apps will look better than they did before. I think it’s a pretty big change. This blog post will show you some examples of what is possible with the new version of Andromo and hopefully spark some ideas for you to use in your own apps.

Glossary

Before going on I wanted to highlight some of the terms that I will be using in this blog post. Rather than describe what these terms mean, I decided to let some screen shots do the talking:

All of the above screenshots are from our knowledge base, if you want any more information on any of the terms, you should find your answer there.

Examples

Here is an example of a dashboard that makes use of the Gallery dashboard type for a fictitious Pablo Picasso app:

“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”
― Pablo Picasso

The dashboard settings are pretty straight forward:

  • A full background meant to resemble a paint canvas.
  • Large square activity icons all close to the 256×256 limit.
  • Short activity titles.
  • Transparent image for the banner image.
  • Panel alignment set to middle.
  • Panel background visibility set to transparent.

Here is the same app in landscape mode:

The landscape look is achieved with the same settings as above except that the landscape banner image has been rotated vertically.

One improvement to the dashboards that I am quite proud of was implemented after version 3.0 of the dashboards was released, and wasn’t available to the public until version 3.0.3. The change I’m referring to was a change to the font style used for the Button Grid and List style dashboard. The change isn’t massive but I think that the results look a lot better.

After releasing we realized that when using both the List and Dashboard dashboard types there was some extra room for the activity title text, especially when the subtitles were disabled. Here’s a screen shot that shows the changes we made:

As you can see there is quite a difference between the three looks, which is why one of my favourite dashboard looks is to use is either the Button Grid or List type, over a photo background, with a transparent panel, and disabled subtitles:

“As long as there are games to play it is not over.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson

Settings:

  • Button Grid dashboard type.
  • Photo background, no frosting and not tiled.
  • Panel background invisible.
  • Show Subtitle Text panel setting unchecked.

Of course that isn’t to say that I don’t like the new subtitle feature, in fact I think that it can be very useful, but the use case really depends on the app that you are making. Here’s an example that uses the subtitle to what I think is good effect:

“Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Settings:

  • Dashboard type List.
  • Banner image in portrait mode, size: fit to image.
  • Panel background solid with custom colours.
  • Custom logo image in action bar.
  • Action bar display mode: No text or activity navigation.

Of course it’s still alright to have a little fun with your dashboard:

“Oh, you’re a candy maker who lives with short, orange men and never goes outside? Please share with me your criticisms on the nuances of modern society.”
― Condescending Wonka

Settings:

  • ‘Feel Like a Sir’ banner image.
  • Nyan cat background.
  • Panel background invisible.
  • Custom logo image in action bar.
  • Action bar display mode: No text or activity navigation.

Here’s one last idea that I was toying around with as well that I think could be used to good effect:

The pump don’t work
’Cause the vandals took the handles
― Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

As you can see, you can do a lot more with the new dashboard then you could before, and with a little bit of creativity, and some basic graphic skills, the results can be quite beautiful. Rather than simply forgetting about the dashboard and hitting build once you’ve added your activities, spend some time on the dashboard I think your users and your install numbers will thank you.

And now for the weekend…

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
― Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream