Device Ids

As of Android 12, Device Ids are now the only way that Google allows developers to identify individual devices. EMI/IIE numbers MAC addresses are no longer available. This means that some self hosting licences may have to be reissued.

Android version 7.4.0

Introduction

This release is the first attempt to replace the use of Dropbox with a proprietary solution using standard Android methods. The motivation for this the frequency with which Dropbox publishes new APIs, and their extremely poor documentation.

Method

The layout of the old Dropbox screen has been modified as follows:

Files screen
  1. The title has changed to Files.
  2. The Authorise option has been removed.
  3. The database Upload and Download options have also been removed. This makes the Save and Restore options pretty useless as things stand, but hopefully all is not lost.
  4. The images Download option now downloads the product images from a location specified by the system administrator (see below).

Profile

Profile page
Profile page

A number of changes have been made to the Profile page of the Hosting Service (see above):

  1. The title has been changed from Edit Profile to Profile.
  2. There is a new Help option on the toolbar. Clicking it will display a help page. This is how all help text will be delivered in future.
  3. A field called Files has been added. This should be the web address of a directory that your site has access to, and where you place tour company images.zip file.
  4. The site has been given a slightly more modern look.

Notes

  1. The proposed solution does not allow the user to save and restore his database. Android still allows apps to access external storage, by means of a file picker type interface. This is usually NOT the SD card, but a picker may allow the user to access that as well. Even if the device does not have an SD card, it may still be possible to export the database, and then upload it to Dropbox or Google Drive. Clearly more work needs to be done on this.
  2. The solution assumes that all users have the same product images. Workarounds are possible, but tedious.
  3. The solution has been implemented as a service, which makes it easy to support self hosted servers. All that the administrator has to do is modify the new dump script. I will add a sample of this to the scripts available for download.

Android v7.2.0

Version 7.2.0 contains a fix for the Store screen, which stopped working soon after version 7 was released. It uses the code from version 6, combined with the improved user interface of version 7.

The billing library has been rolled back to version 3, but there was no deadline for version 4 anyway. This will give me more time to focus on the new Dropbox API.

The new release also uses a permanent SSL certificate provided by the web host, rather than the temporary one provided by Apache. This may help with some devices.

Summary of Changes

Introduction

This post summaries recent changes made to the Android client. These are currently in the beta channel, but are due to go live in April.

Major Changes

Sending Mail

Emails can now be sent using a Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo account. They can also be sent manually, instead of by JavaMail. This avoids authentication issues, but only works with the Outlook app. Other email apps do not support HTML.

Dropbox Support

This is necessary, as external storage is deprecated. Dropbox stores its files in a different area, and is not compatible with older Files screen. Support for Google Drive may also be added, though this is problematic.

Lines Screen

The blue plus buttons have been moved slightly to the left, to avoid clashing with the scroll bar. A proposal for a more radical change was rejected.

Other Changes

HTML Help

Online help will now be delivered in HTML format. This is work in progress.

App Icon

The app icon has been updated.

Features Withdrawn

GPS and Maps

All GPS and mapping features have been withdrawn.

ZXing

Scanning barcodes using the built in camera on a phone has been withdrawn.

Lines Screen

Problem

The Lines screen (shown above) is used to add products to an order. Tapping the plus buttons increment the quantity ordered. Tapping anywhere else displays the details for an item, which allows the user to edit the quantity.

But the buttons are difficult to tap, and the details screen can be a distraction. The target area extends either side of the buttons, but they are too close to the scrollbar for that to help.

Solution

The proposed solution is to use a long press or ‘touch & hold’ gesture, to access the details screen. This is in line with Android design principles, and it frees up the tap gesture as a way to increment the quantity.

Minus buttons could be added to decrement the quantity. These would be in a different colour to the existing ones, and moved slightly to the left.

Survey

I will be conducting a survey of user preferences, and any solution will be pushed out to the beta channel, in the first instance.