Thursday, July 19, 2012

Android Tablets

It appears that the only way to have a ghost of a chance of a private sector job anymore is to write software for the toys that 20s and 30s play with.  I am thinking of teaching myself to write Android applications, since I already know Java pretty darn well, and it appears that there might actually be jobs in the Android market segment.  (Although who knows if that will be the case in six months.)  Especially interesting is that there seem to be telecommuting jobs in the Android space, which is important, because Boise has a vast swarm of available developers, in spite of employers whining about a shortage of workers, and thus requiring more H1B visas.

It would help to have an actual tablet that runs Android apps, although I know that the development kit includes a simulator that runs under Linux.  Is there a small, inexpensive tablet that you can recommend?


  1. Well, compared to PC's, most tablets are "inexpensive." I have, and like, the ASUS PAD Transformer. But by the time you buy the keyboard, it is the price of a modest laptop. I do not know if the keyboard is essential to you or not. I would imagine you would do most of your development on a standard PC (or laptop) with a full sized keyboard. I don't know about all Android tablets, but the ASUS Transformer, especially with the keyboard, has lots of options for file transfer. The tablet itself has an SD slot, and then the keyboard has USB. (The keyboard has its own battery pack, which is nice, making it something of a backup battery in case you are traveling an run low on the tablet battery.) I would imagine that at some point, a developer has to master the way apps get downloaded over the internet to a tablet, so that these kinds of file transfer choices are not as meaningful. Still, the ASUS Transformer may be one of the most versatile Android tablets out there. But by the time I got all the bells and whistles I wanted for road warrior use, it was ~$600. A basic Samsung tablet, which might suffice for your use, is maybe a third of that. But I don't have personal experience with them.

  2. The B&N Nook color can be reflashed with a full fesatured android ROM, and is available for as little as $100 refurbished online.

    My wife and I both have them, an we love ours.

  3. This might be more like working within a simulator, but I bought a used Nook Color from eBay (your awesome supplier!) for $91 shipped, and it has been hacked to run a version of the Android OS.

  4. I don't know how good it would be as a self-teaching platform, but I have an Archos 5 'droid tablet. (See I think its a French company.)

    The Archos 5 available on Amazon in the $150-200 range. It's not a full-sized tablet. They make a range of sizes, if you want a full-sized unit.

    I haven't tried doing any development on Android, so take this suggestion FWIW.

  5. I don't think you'll do better than the Google Nexus tablets as far as cheap at $199 (8GB) and $249 (16GB). They're being sold at cost according to ASUS, who actually built he hardware for Google.

    The other big point is support down the line. It's rare that tablets get updated, but with Google you're pretty much certain that you'll get updates promptly.

  6. Kindle Fire is available new for $199

  7. Google Nexus tablet. You won't find it refurbished yet, but at $200 MSRP you get a full-up, modern (running the very latest version of the OS), google-supported tablet, at the same price point as a nook or kindle "Android"that doesn't require flashing a new ROM.

  8. Google just released the Nexus 7 for $200. You can order it in the Google Play store.

    Since it's sold/endorsed by Google it will probably get the most recent Android OS updates for at least a little while, unlike most other tablets and phones that seem to be out there.

    Its received relatively good reviews, if you care about actually using it. You can look at Arstechnica for an in depth review. Link below:

  9. At $100, a used (via craigslist) or refurbished Nook Color is hard to beat after flashing with a third party ROM (e.g. CyanogenMod). You don't get a camera, microphone, GPS, and only limited orientation & motion sensors, but there is Bluetooth so you can use a keyboard if you'd like (and an external GPS device).

    At $200, the new Google Nexus tablet looks very good (I have no experience with it)

    Also, the vast majority of Android devices are phones, so buying a new or used phone should be strongly considered.

  10. I own a first-gen transformer, BTW, and ASUS makes some good hardware. One of the points of theNexus series of devices is tha t they are supposed to be "developer" machines - clean and "standard."

    I would advise steering clear of Samsung if someone brings it up- they have a history of abandoning their hardware without timely updates. Not that their tablets are anything like cheap.

  11. If I were to buy an Android tablet for development today, I would (and probably will) buy the Nexus 7. However, the first question would by: why a tablet?

    Android has not done well, so far, in the tablet market (I hope the Nexus will change that). Android phones, on the other hand, are taking over the world.

    I'm the developer of a successful Android App ( Radar Alive Pro - weather radar) and I used a Droid-X as the primary development platform. I have a Motorola Xoom (10" table) but rarely even power it on.

    There is a good chance that the 7" form factor will improve Android's position in the tablet market, as it will open up a new, and I think important category. Beware the Kindle Fire, which is only sort-of Android - but it does demonstrate the power of the 7" form factor.

    A general comment... I've done Java work since the Alpha release of Java, but Android development is a lot more than Java development. I recommend studying the Android platform and the ideology of it (I didn't do enough of this), because your app will be living inside of it - the same way an enterprise Java application usually lives inside of, and is ruled by an application server.

    Good luck!

  12. Linus Torvalds on Nexus tablet: