Thursday, February 16, 2012

Google's Android Market and Apple's App Store (part2)

Some days ago I wrote about a comparison between Google's Android Market and Apple's App Store.
In this blogpost I will describe what happened after the first blogpost.

Valve response

We got the following email from Valve.

Valve recently filed a takedown notice with Google’s Android Market based on infringement of the trademark Steam by Nasa Trained Monkey’s “Steam Mobile” app. Valve is the owner of trademarks in Steam and the Steam logo. The Steam mark is registered in many countries.

We are happy for developers to use the Steam APIs, but we are concerned about confusion with your use of Valve’s trademarks. Unfortunately, Google’s infringement notice is very generic and does not allow us to explain what we want from the app author. Both of the following changes are required to remedy the trademark issues:

1. Change the name of your app in the title and/or icon to not contain “Steam” first, such as “Nasa Trained Monkey’s Chat for Steam” or some other name that does not confuse the public into thinking Valve created the app.
2. Use an application icon (and any other associated imagery) which does not include Valve’s Steam logo.

If you can make these changes, we’d be happy to see your app going back up. We do appreciate your support of the Steam community. Please respond with any questions. Thank you.

Google response

My blogpost was read by Matias Sulzberger @sulzberger. I studied with him in the university and he now works in Google Argentina. He contacted me and told me he was going to show it to someone inside Google.

Thanks to Matias, I met Nicolas Bortolotti @nickbortolotti.
Nicolas is a Developer Relations Program Manager in Google. He took the time to come to our offices to talk about the Android Ecosystem in Argentina.

We explained him our issues with the Android market and how different it is in relation with the AppStore. He told us that he will use our case to find a way to improve the experience.

For now, the situation stays the same but I am happy that someone is doing something about this.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Global Android Dev Camp desde Argentina!

Ayer el GTUG La Plata envió un comunicado sobre su participación en el Global Android dev Camp. Les dejo la información.

El fin de semana del 18 y 19 de Febrero hay un evento mundial de programación en Android, el Android Dev Camp. El evento es una competencia de programación en la que se desarrolla un aplicación durante las horas que dura, y se realiza en muchas ciudades al mismo tiempo.

Luego del evento se va a votar la mejor aplicación y van a haber varios premios, entre los sponsors globales están o'reilly, paypal y sony. Y se pueden sumar algunos más esta semana.

El evento en La Plata se hace en las oficinas de devsAr y durante el evento se dará ayuda con el desarrollo, y va a haber video-conferencias (hangouts) de 15 minutos cada 2 horas sobre distintas APIs de Android.

Los que estén interesados llenen este formulario para participar:

Para información del evento global visiten:


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Porting android apps to the Playbook

Last night I tried to port two android applications I have in the Android market to the Playbook. This is my experience so far.

With the Playbook and BB10 supporting the Java Android Runtime, RIM opened the door to android developers. You can basically repack your android app to work inside the Playbook and BB10 powered devices.

After installing the Eclipse plugin and started working to get this done.

Super simple app
My first app to repack was a simple sound bank app called TanoPasman.
I opened the project in Eclipse,

Right click on the project => Blackberry tools => Add Blackberry Nature to the project.
Right click on the project => Run as... => Blackberry Android Launch.
That's it. First application repacked!

More complex app
The second app I repacked was a bit more complex.
It's called EstadoDelTransito and it's a traffic status application for Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Source code is available here.

I did the same process but this time it failed. Google maps are not allowed.
What!? Which are the limitations again?

Here's the full list.
Inside that we can read:

The following Java software packages:
Vending (In App Payments):
Cloud To Device Messaging (Push):
Google Maps:
Text to Speech:

I ended up removing the google maps dependency and every call to the map library.
After up the launched without any issue but another problem appeared. ACTION_SEND is not supported :(

Looking for alternatives
Honestly I was quite pissed that I couldn't use maps inside the Playbook.
A traffic status application without a map sounds kind of lame. That's when I remember an open source project for maps existed, osmdroid.
I didn't port EstadoDelTransito code to that yet but I did test it out with an app called bikeroute and it did work!

Here you can see a screenshot:

Big thanks to Bryan Tafel and Mariano KIWO Carrizo who help me testing this apps in their Playbook.

Interesting facts
Becoming a Vendor
I tried to become a vendor on October. The confirmation mail never arrived.
I ended up registering with some other email three days ago. I will see what happens.

You just need the apk
The funny thing about repacking is that you don't need the source code!
If you get an apk, you just need to get the command line tools and you are ready to upload someone else work as your own! I don't know how RIM is dealing with that but it's kind of scary.

Both of my apps use Admob. No ads were shown while running in the Playbook.
I am not sure how I am supposed to port that.

Free Playbook!
RIM provide one free 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook tablet to every registered BlackBerry App World™ vendor who converts their Android app for use on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and submits it to BlackBerry App World between February 2, 2012 and February 13, 2012. Link.

I am quite sourprised how easy it was to port an android application to Playbook.
I hope I can get a Playbook so I can start testing some stuff.
I can think of:
  • Testing cocos2d-x with the native SDK. (It was ported by RIM themselves!)
  • Finding out if it's possible to mix an HTML5 with Android
  • Looking for a way to support admob.
If you have an android application in the market, port it. There is no excuse.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Porting Unity3d's coroutines to Android/iOS

I have been quite away from Android development.
I have been coding a game for iOS: Shaman Doctor and now I am testing Unity3d.
This blog describes my wish to port that coroutines to other platforms.


In Unity3d I am coding in C# and I learned about coroutines.
To give you an idea of how they work, check this blog posts:

Unity3d implementation for coroutines is somehow different.
To understand what I am saying, read the first link.
It gives an explanation of how it should be working inside Unity3d.

In the code where I use Unity3d coroutines is where I need to do a state machine code.
A super simple example would be:

Imagine you need to add a button but you can only click it once every two seconds.
I can imagine two possible implementations. Bare in mind that I didn't test this code.

Using time. objective-c code:

@synthesize lastTimeUsed;

@implementation PotionController

- (id)init {
self = [super init];
if (self) {
self.lastTimeUsed = 0;

return self;

- (void)click {

NSTimeInterval now = [[NSDate date] timeIntervalSince1970];
NSTimeInterval difference = fabs(self.lastTimeUsed - now);

// if two seconds haven't pass, return.
if ( difference < SECONDS_TO_ENABLE ) {

self.lastTimeUsed = now;

// Click logic here.

Disabling and sending an enable msg to be run after 2 seconds. Android code.

In this case it's a done with the View's postDelayed() method. It could be done
with a Handler as well.

public void click(final View view) {

// Send a postDelayed to turn it on again.
view.postDelayed(new Runnable() {

public void run() {

}, 2000L);

// Click logic here.

The same thing done with C# inside Unity3d would be:

void OnMouseDown() {

private IEnumerator ClickLogic() {
// Click Logic
yield return new WaitForSeconds(2.0f);

What happens when you click more than once in a two seconds time frame?
Honestly, I am not sure what happens when you call StartCoroutine() when
a previous coroutine was started, but it works.
I hope that someone can clarify this.

Now try to port this code from Unity3d to android or iOS.

IEnumerator TellMeASecret()
yield return null;

Say("I stole the cookie from the cookie jar!");
yield return null;

yield return null;

How can this be used in Android/iOS

Ordinary coroutines
Although Unity3d's coroutines are different from the ordinary, I wanted to know if it was possible to implement them in Android/iOS.

My first google search about this was "java coroutines" and I learned that ordinary coroutines would need one of this options:
  • Modified JVMs (Can't be used in Android)
  • Modified Bytecode (Can't be used in Android)
  • Platform-specific JNI mechanisms (Not sure if it would work in Android)
  • Thread abstractions (Not sure how performant would work inside Android)
I feel this is a dead end for Android.


I didn't research a lot about iOS.
Here is a list of links that look interesting:

Unity3d implementation alike

After reading Richard Fine's blog post I thought it would be interesting to achieve something similar to that in the different platforms.
My big doubt is finding a way to implement something similar to an IEnumerator.

Using scala

Inside cocos2d-iphone
I am not sure if cocos2d's internal would support something like this.

Inside cocos2d-x
This is the real challenge.
Finding a way to implement Unity3d's coroutines but keeping it multiplatform.
Perhaps finding a way of doing it in C++.

What do you guys think?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Google's Android Market vs Apple's App Store

Two years ago we created an app for ios and Android called SteamMobile.
One of our devs from NASA Trained Monkeys is a Steam user and wanted to have a Steam application in his device. There were a lot of forum post asking Steam to create one but there was no official response saying they would, so we made our own.

Yesterday, the official Steam app was released in the App Store and in the Android Market.
I would like to share with you guys what happened to our applications.

Application prices

  • Steam Mobile for iOS was released as a paid app (2.00 U$s)

Android had two versions.
  • Free with ads
  • Pro version with no ads (1.00 U$s).

When we released the application we felt that selling an app in the Android market was harder so we opted for a free version.

Getting paid

This is how you we set everything up.
Remember we are from Argentina so it might be different for you.

  • The AppStore allows you to configure a bank account and Apple makes a deposit when you reach certain amount.
  • If you need to change your bank account you can do it without any issue.


  • The Android Market lets you set up your account with a credit card from your country of origin.
  • You CAN'T change the credit card associated with your account once configured.
  • You get paid through Western Union.
  • Western Union limit on transactions per month is USD 8500.00
  • Western Union pays in ARS and the exchange rate is lower than the official.

Even though USD 8500 might be plenty for an indie it's a big limitation.
I would hope that if you make a big release, Google will do something different for you but it's a risk you might need to take.

When we learned about Western Union not paying in american dollars we wanted to find another way of getting the money. The only possible solution is to get a different country credit card to use a different way of payment. BUT you can't change your credit card. You would need to create a new one losing your stats. We also didn't find a way to deal with our taxes correctly since we can't make an invoice for a transfer via WU.

On the other hand, Apple pays in a bank account allowing you to clear your tax issues easily. We needed to change the bank account and there were no issues at all.

This really made us think over releasing stuff in the Android Market.
Although Apple has stricter rules, it's less risky.

Copyright issues

As you might have noticed, Steam Mobile comes with a copyright infringement.
It was clear that our application was going to be reviewed by Valve sooner or later.

That day has come and this is how Apple and Google worked it out.

On 10/3/11 Apple sent an email saying:

On 9/27/2011, we received a notice from Valve Corporation that Valve Corporation believes your application named "Steam Mobile" infringes Valve Corporation's intellectual property rights. In particular, Valve Corporation states that "...All images in (your application) are owned by Valve Corporation".

You can reach Valve Corporation through XXXXXXX (phone: XXXXXX, email: XXXXXX). Please exchange correspondence directly with Valve Corporation.

We look forward to receiving written assurance that your application does not infringe Valve Corporation's rights, or that you are taking steps to promptly resolve the matter. Written assurance may include confirmation that your application does not infringe Valve Corporation's rights, an express authorization from Valve Corporation, or other evidence acceptable to Apple.

Under our terms of agreement, Apple may remove your application from the App Store at any time. You may remove your application using the steps provided below, for example, while you make any necessary changes to your application.

Visit iTunes Connect at

1) Access your app in the Manage Your Applications module.
2) Click on the "Rights and Pricing" button from the App Summary Page.
3) Click on the "Deselect All" button to uncheck all App Store territories.
4) Click on the "Save Changes" button.

We look forward to receiving confirmation from you within 5 days.

Thank you for your immediate attention.

This ended in an exchange of emails with Valve and Apple and we modified the application to meet every copyright issue. We needed to change the name and place a text saying that the application was powered by the Steam API. You can see it here.

Yesterday Valve released their official Android and iOS app and Steam Mobile was removed from the Android Market. We got an email from removals at google saying:


Google has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that your application, SteamMobile Pro, package ID com.nasatrainedmonkeys.steamMobilePro, allegedly infringes upon the copyrights of others, and has been removed from Android Market. Please review the Content Policies and Business and Program Policies before you create or upload additional applications. Please note that violations may result in a suspension of your Android Market Publisher account, and may also result in actions, including possible suspension, taken against any associated Android Market publisher, AdSense, Google Checkout, or AdMob accounts.

Please note that we have included a text copy of the Infringement Notice we received for your reference.

The DMCA is a United States copyright law that provides guidelines for online service provider liability in case of copyright infringement. See for more information about the DMCA, and see for the process that Google requires in order to make a DMCA complaint.

Google may reinstate these materials into Android Market upon receipt of a counter notification pursuant to sections 512(g)(2) and (3) of the DMCA. For more information about the requirements of a counter notification, and a link to a sample counter notification, see

If you have legal questions about this notification, you should retain your own legal counsel.

The Android Market Team.

Text copy of DMCA complain:
AutoDetectedBrowser: Internet Explorer 8
AutoDetectedOS: Windows 7
IIILanguage: en
IssueType: lr_dmca
Language: en
agree1: checked
agree: checked
android_app_developer_10: xxxx
android_app_developer_11: xxxx
android_app_developer_12: xxxx
android_app_developer_13: Nasa Trained Monkeys
android_app_developer_14: xxxx
android_app_developer_15: xxxx
android_app_developer_1: xxxx
android_app_developer_2: xxxx
android_app_developer_3: Nasa Trained Monkeys
android_app_developer_4: xxxx


android_app_name_10: xxxx
android_app_name_11: xxxx
android_app_name_12: xxxx
android_app_name_13: SteamMobile Pro
android_app_name_14: xxxx
android_app_name_15: xxxx
android_app_name_1: xxxx
android_app_name_2: xxxx
android_app_name_3: SteamMobile
android_app_name_4: xxxx


android_app_url_10: xxxx
android_app_url_11: xxxx
android_app_url_12: xxxx
android_app_url_14: xxxx
android_app_url_15: xxxx
android_app_url_1: xxxx
android_app_url_2: xxxx
android_app_url_4: xxxx


companyname: Valve Corporation
country_residence: US
description_of_copyrighted_work: Steam logo and/or Steam name
dmca_signature: xxxx
dmca_signature_date_day: 26
dmca_signature_date_month: 1
dmca_signature_date_year: 2012
full_name: xxxx
hidden_dmca_category: text
hidden_product: androidmarket
represented_copyright_holder: Valve Corporation


Apple has shown that it has a more mature market and it has solved the issue way better than Google. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer coding for Android but this type of things makes me wonder.

Google, don't be evil!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roboinstaller: Install roboguice dependencies in your device

Yesterday I wrote about a crazy idea of installing your application dependencies in the device to make the builds faster. This is just an example of what's possible.

After yesterday's idea I decided to give it a try and install in my rooted nexus one all the roboguice dependencies to see if my build times improved. To test it out I Manfred Moser's roboguice sample code called: roboguice-calculator.

Mike: I was going to test with the Astroboy roboguice's demo, but I didn't feel like dealing with hg. Plz move roboguice to git :)

To do this I have separated the whole process in steps.

Pre-dexing step

First of all, you need to get a pre-dexed jar files of all the dependencies. You can pre-dex your jar files with the following line:

dx -JXmx1024M -JXms1024M -JXss4M --no-optimize --debug --dex --output=./my_dep_dex.jar my_dep.jar

Creating the permissions XMLs
Once you get all your dependencies pre-dexed, you need to create the permissions XMLs which looks like this:

<library name="my.dependency"
file="/data/data/com.nasatrainedmonkeys.roboinstaller/files/my_dependency_dex.jar" />

Installing the dependencies
After some hacking to the scala-android-libs src code I had the code ready to install dependencies on the device.

Modifying the AndroidManifest
Inside the tag you need to add all your dependencies with the <uses-library> tag. It should look like this:

<uses-library name="my.dependency"/>

Modifying the pom.xml
The last step is setting the scope to provided using provided tag.

Building the ordinary app: Total time: 22.212s

With this hack: Total time: 10.431s

Since mvn doesn't create a jar file with all the dependencies inside, I failed on my first try because the guice dependency needed the javax.inject jar file. I guess there should be a way to create a "fat-jar" with every dependency inside. If that's possible pre-dexing a dependency would be much more easier.

Future work
This has shown the approach is totally useful. Next step is to create an android app that can install pre-dexed files and create the xml without needing to recompile the whole application. This approach would also take me to separate my application into different libraries to develop as fast as possible :)

Source code
I have placed the installer code and the sample application with the modifications in this github repo: Roboinstaller

Installing dependencies on the device

This last two weeks I have been giving it a try to Scala on Android. While learning how to do it, I found something interesting I would like to share.

Developing Android apps using scala

The big problem of developing in Scala is that Android doesn't provide a way to install dependencies on the device. So, if you want to use Scala you need to place the scala's jar in your apk.

Placing the scala jar inside the apk bring another problem, apk size. To fix this, scala developers use proguard to remove all unused classes from the scala jar.

Using proguard to remove unused classes works like charm but it brings a third problem. Compilation time. For me, it takes a whole minute to compile an application with a single Activity coded in scala.

Coding scala in Android is as frustrating as testing android apps :)

While looking for a solution for this, I asked a question in stackoverflow and it was answered by @jberkel. He pointed me to a project called scala-android-libs created by Johannes Rudolph.

What this project does is very interesting. It installs the scala's jars in a rooted device and allows the application to use it through the AndroidManifest tag uses-library.

How does it work?

It creates a serie of XMLs in /system/etc/permissions that look like this:

file="/data/data/" />

This means that if inside the AndroidManifest the app says:

It will be able to use the scala_actors.jar file inside the /data/data/ folder as a dependency.

Since now we have the jar installed in our device, we can avoid the proguard step and the build times are very similar to build an ordinary java app.

Taking it further
Every time I develop an android application I start creating a maven project because I know that I will use certain dependencies. After learning about this approach I thought about leaving my dependencies inside the device.

Why don't extending scala-android-libs approach to provide a way to manage dependencies inside the device to make the build times faster?
Perhaps having an android app that allows to install/remove jar files and automatically generate this XMLs with the proper permissions.

What do you think?
Would you use it?