First Android App… Coming Soon!



So today I decided to take some initiative and stop procrastinating any longer about getting a half-decent Android app done (in the Market hopefully). Since I have some free time coming up, I will try to accelerate the development process (a bit like agile development except with myself rather than a team…) and improvise stuff I need to do as they come. So what is the app?


I'm not sure of what to call it yet, but it will basically be an app that relies on the API of a VoIP provider to perform actions allowed by the API. Right now, in my mind is an app with 3 tabs. The first tab will show the user their account balance with a refresh button for the sake of information freshness. The next tab will incorporate the SMS functionality I have built already (a very raw build) which will allow people to send cheap SMS (rate to Bahrain is $0.0403 ~ 15 fils/message, cheaper than some local companies). I will see if I can get numbers from the local contact list, if not then it might have its own little phonebook (since numbers must be internationally formatted). Finally, the last tab will allow people to make cheap calls by using the VoIP provider's callback feature (it calls you first, you pick up, then it calls the number you want to call and connects both lines). I was thinking of adding a popup right after the user hits call to calculate the rate (this is also API based since users can choose between standard, premium and PSTN routes), basically rate1+rate2=total rate.

So far I am getting the hang of creating a tabbed interface, thankfully Google and the dev section of Android is great :-D! If it turns out good enough I just might develop a Blackberry version, but for now its Android. I am keeping the VoIP provider's name withheld, until I get something up ;-).


8 thoughts on “First Android App… Coming Soon!”

  1. There are contacts API’s: http://developer.android.com/resources/articles/contacts.html

    As for formatting them internationally, that’s pretty simple. Have a setting that asks the users what is their default country (make sure the dropdown shows the country their SIM card originates as the pre-selected item) and make them choose this setting upon launching the app for the first time. So if they choose Bahrain and the number they have in their contacts is 39876543, you make it +9739876543. On a similar note, you need to keep in mind some countries have some numbers starting with 0, like in the States, the UK and even your next door neighbors, Saudi. You need to remove that 0 when adding the country code, ex: 0598765432 + Saudi = +966598765432.

  2. Hmm… Good thing you reminded me about the trailing 0 some countries have.

    I’ll have to think about the country code setting part. I might make it as simple as getting the number from contacts (whatever format it is) and ensuring people add the country code in front (or remove the trailing 0).

    I just remembered that some countries (like Brazil) have carrier digits added to the number, so that you can choose the carrier of your choice when you want to call that number etc…

    It’s all still a work in progress :-P, I’ll most likely be adding/improving it as I go along.

  3. Of course. Once it’s published, you’ll be getting a lot of feedback. Some countries will tell you the unique scenarios that they have and you, presumably, would be patching up all these issues as they arise. There’s no way you’d cover every country’s scenarios from the beginning anyways. There’s no way for you to even know all of these without wasting A LOT of time and effort.

    3 questions:
    Is it going to be open source? I’d love to dig into it and maybe make some enhancements and optimization.

    Is it going to be free on the market?

    Are you dealing with people adding money to the VoIP provider account? Adding credit card numbers, etc? That’s going to be a pain with all the security required around that.

  4. Open source:

    I’m not sure yet. Since I am planning to publish it in the Android Market I’m not sure if their terms mentions anything about source code. The other thing is that Android is the worst platform malware wise, mostly from people downloading apps outside of the market (aka untrusted sources). If I were to make it open source to the public I’m worried others end up using the same app name and details plus their evil code.

    Edited to add: Code will probably be available on request.

    Price:

    Definitely free, Bahrain can’t receive money through Google Checkout. Plus given the app’s functionality I don’t think it can carry a price tag. I thought about adding ads (Google’s AdMob platform), but will keep it free in price and ads.

    VoIP credit / security:

    The app will not be used to make any payment. If you need to recharge your account you will need to visit the VoIP provider’s site and pay through it (they accept PayPal and Google Checkout). The connection between the app and VoIP provider can be done only through SSL. So data will be encrypted during transport.

  5. You really think Google, of all people, would have terms that wouldn’t allow open source software? The entire Android OS is open source! In any case, if you’re worried about people editting your app and re-uploading it with the same name, that’ll be impossible. Your developer account will be the owner of the name of that app. No one will be able to publish over your app without your login credentials. As for people re-publishing a malware-ridden version of your app, that’s an issue all open source apps on all OS’s could face. All you can do is hope no one does do that.

    That’s the pricing scheme I’m going for with my WP7 apps. I plan on releasing all of them free, but with ads. I’m thinking of making my apps open source too, but primarily doing so to get feedback on my coding itself rather than to help beginners out. 😛

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