Writing, or should I say tracing this post on AndroidwpToGo app. Since i moved from G1 to N1, only thing I miss is the fast typing physical keyboard. Soft keys are not cutting it for me.
When I say physical, I mean full qwerty keyboard in comfortable landscape model. Small squeezed keys found on some devices are even worse then the soft ones.
But, a friend suggested Swype to me, and I was amazed from the creative approach by the developers, implementing an oldish but valuable IBM research introducing new way of typing by tracing your words on the soft keyboard. Writing the post with this input method I’m more then impressed with its usability. The learning curve is very short, just after writing two tweets you get familiar with it. Word accuracy is excellent, offering choice of suggested words if your trace was a bit crazy.
Small downturn is you have to switch off autosuggestion if you want to type in different language then English. There are many users like myself using English as first language but with need to communicate with second language without switching keyboard layouts, although if your language is supported on the device, Swype offers very easy switch between the available keyboard layouts.
Turning your device to landscape mode will give you an error, but this is still trial version and not official release, so this iI completely forgivable. Having said that, I’m thinking how tracing can be implemented with two thumbs combination when turning the device in landscape mode. I leave that challenge to creative developers of the very usable Swype keyboard.
This input method is also a good accessibility potential. Adding TTS and speaking out selected keys while tracing and speaking out the word to be inserted, can make this keyboard a good companion to apps designed to utilize assisting technology available on the latest Android releases.
The new SVG-Edit 2.4 release candidate, codenamed Arbelos, sports great improvements and brings this web app very close to standard vector graphics editing desktop software like Flash (drawing only) and looks like it will have features like path-finding and FX effects (shadows) found in more mature apps like Illustrator very soon.
Almost all features designers need to create vector artwork are there: Layers, Raster Images, Bézier Curves, Transform positioning and re-size with pointer or forms, Arrow keys nudge, Align, Grouping, Transparency… to name a few. Using Flash or SVG-Edit to produce the image above made no difference to me. There are few bugs like; you can’t see gradients when you hit Save, or you can’t start multi-select or resize objects when your pointer is outside the canvas, but this is only alpha release and all this will be fixed soon I believe. Double-clicking to reset Zoom tool to 1:1 ratio or entering curves edit mode is very intuitive. Colour pickers are working good. Maybe live preview missing when you try to fiddle your colours and transparency, but this is minor bug comparing to the great usability the SVG-Edit already achieved with this release.
You can learn more and see release notes on the SVG-Edit developer’s YouTube Channel.
So, you never have enough time to record a new tune? You have millions ideas in your head and they all go unrecorded because you are not in front of laptop or desktop box with your favorite editing software? If you are lucky enough to have Android Phone with this really simple work-flow you can start capturing your ideas and turn them into songs.
You will need to install only two free apps from the Market, SoundTrail and Robotic Guitarist and with the native Android Music Player you can start composing new songs whenever a new idea strikes you anywhere. You can also use any notepad (my favorite is AK Notepad) to write the lyrics starting to circle around your melodies so you don’t forget them.
Start by tuning your guitar with the excellent tuner featured in Robotic Guitarist, or layout few chords in the same app to make your chord base for your new idea, test how it sounds when you are away form your instrument . Robotic Guitarist is offering you all possible guitar chords with option to have 7 chords to play with in same session. Once you have your basic idea, record it with SoundTrail with your guitar, piano or just whistle or sing.
You can play your base in the music player and launch the SoundTrail on top of it. This is one of the great advantages of Android, running up to six apps in the same time and they can all share device I/O sound capabilities. You can’t do this on iPhone yet.
Since you will need some sort of mix/edit software to hear all your separately recorded files/tracks, you can use the excellent and free indabamusic.com collaboration app, to upload your tracks (small downside is you will need to convert AMR SoundTrail file format in to MP3) and mix them in their free Java based mixing console. Works really well on both Mac and PC. In the same time you can start sharing your ideas with your collaborators and download their takes and mixes on your phone and meditate on top of them in infinite iterations until you are sure you nailed that song down.
You can use all this apps and services for free. Free Indaba account limits you to only six sessions, but that is more then enough for idea capturing. What’s not free is your mobile data plan and of course you will need to end up in pro recording studio to turn your drafts in to everlasting recordings.