Well, it's finally here. After a year of development, over 10,000 beta users, and installations to more than 28,000 devices, Screebl Pro 3.0 finally hit the Google Play store today. You can download it here. Thanks to all of those that participated in the beta. It's taken a bit longer than I expected to get things ready for Pro, as features kept being added and I occasionally put the project on hold for other more urgent work, but I'm pleased with the overall result.
This is a ground-up rewrite of Screebl, with a focus on cool new features, hardware compatibility, battery consumption and simplification. Android is a shifting target lately for an app like Screebl, as Google and hardware manufactures make tweaks to Android builds to squeeze every little second possible out of battery life and improve the overall multitasking experience. Hardware varies dramatically, sensors work differently, and even end-user usage patterns for an app like Screebl vary widely. In the end though, I think that things have reached a point of stability with 3.0 that makes it a no brainer to replace the aging Screebl 2.x code line.
As of version 2.2.0 of Screebl Pro, a new licensing mechanism called Automatic Application Licensing (AAL) has been bundled with the app. The purpose of AAL is to allow painless verification that the user of Screebl Pro actually purchased the app from the Android Market. We've taken this step to attempt to put a stop to the insane levels of piracy that Screebl has seen, and so far, things seem to be working out nicely.
I've received a number of questions over the course of the last few days asking me how AAL works, why we chose to include it in Screebl Pro, and what the implications are for users. This article will cover the details, and describe why we finally decided to pull the trigger on licensing in our mobile apps...
Screebl Pro continues to recieve good reviews. It is now ranked in the top 20 on the Android Market in the Tools category, and in the top 50 overall! Thanks to everyone that has tweeted, emailed, or otherwise shared your love of Screebl. Please keep sharing!
It is generally a very challenging and time-consuming endeavor to review a sophisticated piece of software like Screebl, particularly when it involves changing and evaluating phone usage patterns. The new review site AppRoasters.com recently "roasted" (that's what they call their reviews) Screebl Pro as their first review. It is a very thorough and accurate review, making some good observations about ways that we can improve the product. I was also happy to see that the review has decent coverage of the Locale integration.
Screebl Lite has been cranking along for over three months now. Since it's release a lot has happened, and we've learned a lot about what it takes to nurse a little utility application into a product. Before I go into what is contained in the next major release of Screebl (it's some pretty cool stuff), let me hit on the highlights of what Screebl Lite has done so far...
Screebl Lite has been downloaded over 20,000 times, and thousands of you use it every day.
I've received hundreds of questions, high-fives, suggestions, and death threats. Much of that feedback has made its way directly back in to the product.
Screebl has been localized by native speakers of five different languages.
Screebl Lite has been cranking along for quite some time now. From coming in 5th in its category in ADC2 to the hundreds-of-thousands of times that the app has been downloaded, it's been really fun watching this innovative little utility spread throughout the Android community.
We often get the question "why should I upgrade to Screebl Pro?". We think that there are lots of great reasons, including supporting continued enhancement and bug fixes.
In a nutshell, you get the following Pro-only features:
o Locale/Tasker Integration - Include Screebl detection capabilities as you configure your phone. Your imagination is the limit!
o Screen Timeout Control - You are in control of how fast your screen times out after your phone is moved out of a configured Screebl range.
o Icon Customization - Choose how you want your icons to look in the notification bar.
o Improved Detection Algorithm - Bed reading, lying on your right side, and other tricky detection scenarios work better in Screebl Pro. You have move control over Axis Variance, the key parameter that makes these work.
Here's a detailed description of the enhanced features that you will get ONLY in Screebl Pro...
Well, the Android Developer Challenge is over, and unfortunately Screebl was not in the money this year. We were close, coming in at 5th (prizes were awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each category). That at least puts us on the first page of rank ordered finalists.
Google chose to not put a link from the contest results to the developers' web sites, so placing well hasn't helped much in promoting Screebl. It was a fun ride though, and a lot was learned. Thanks for all of your votes!
Recently, the Android Guys published a review of Screebl. At the end of that review they mentioned that they planned to do an evaluation of my claim that Screebl can save power under common usage patterns. Well, Android Guys have yet to follow through on their evaluation, but I've been meaning to do a study myself for some time now, and I've finally gotten around to it. Here are the results...
Screebl is an application that was written to do exactly one thing: keep my phone's screen from locking (turning off) when I'm using it.
I loved my T-Mobile G1 when I got it, with a few very annoying exceptions. Most of all I hated the short battery life, so I did everything that I could to increase it. This included dropping the screen timeout as low as it could go: 15 seconds. For those of you that have done this in the interest of conserving battery, you know that the result is repetetive screen timeouts whenever you're doing something that doesn't involve touching the screen. Things like looking at or showing someone a picture, watching a web page load over a slow connection, reading a long email, etc. I disliked the interruptions enough that I usually ended up raising the timeout back to a higher value, and that wasn't good for battery life.
It occured to me one day that I always held the phone in the same position when using it. This observation was the basis for Screebl. Screebl is a background service that monitors the phone's orientation, and based on that orientation decides when to allow the phone's power-saving features to operate.