Important update for the NativeMaps ANE

As of today, we've released an important update to the NativeMaps ANE.

Summary of features

  • Android 4.4 (KitKat) visibility problems fixed (see below for information)
  • Added functionality to get BitmapData of map view in Android
  • Android NativeMapEvent.MAP_CREATED event should now be more reliable
  • Important: New meta tag required for Android descriptor (see below)

Android 4.4 fixes
The main addition is a fix to resolve problems with the map visibility on devices running Android 4.4 (KitKat). Using the new version of the Android NativeMaps ANE (version 2.0), maps should now be visible on KitKat devices.

Unfortunately there is a downside to this, because of the change in z-order rendering required, the UI buttons on the map will not be visible in KitKat. This includes the zoom controls and the user location control buttons which normally appear above the map. It's recommended to provide additional UI controls in your application if these buttons are required.

Android BitmapData now available!
Retrieving a BitmapData object of the map view is now possible in Android. The old method (for iOS) drawMapToBitmapData() is now deprecated in favour of the new method requestMapBitmapData().

You should now listen for the new event type NativeMapBitmapEvent.READY, and retrieve the BitmapData object from the event payload. This is standard across iOS and Android now.

AIR SDK
It's strongly recommended to use the AIR 4.0 SDK or newer for your application. The fixes for the NativeMaps ANE on Android may not work correctly for older versions of the AIR SDK.

New meta tag required for Android descriptor
As of this version, you must now include an additional meta tag in your descriptor XML. The following entry should be added inside the section of your Android manifest. You can place it below the google maps API key entry.

<meta-data android:name="com.google.android.gms.version" android:value="4030500"/>

Also, you must ensure that your Android manifest permissions include android.permission.ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE

As always, please let us know if you encounter any problems!

Using the NativeMaps ANE with Starling/Feathers

We generally use Starling & Feathers to build most of our iOS and Android apps these days. The performance of Starling is great, and while Feathers is mostly aimed at game development, it's an awesome framework for building regular apps as well.

Recently we were building an app which also used our NativeMaps native extension (check it out here: labs.distriqt.com/native-extensions)

One issue with this, however, is that because of the way Starling runs on the GPU, it severely affected the interaction and performance of the native maps interface on iOS. (I'm not sure of the effects on Android, but we used the same technique here across platforms.)

This post is a rough guide to the way we worked around the problem in order to get better performance from the map UI.

Continue reading Using the NativeMaps ANE with Starling/Feathers

Open House Melbourne 2013

Open House Melbourne is a not-for-profit association that runs annual events providing the public a free and rare opportunity to discover a hidden wealth of architectural, engineering and historic buildings nestled around the city.

As part of a sponsorship for Open House Melbourne 2013, distriqt developed an iPhone and Android mobile app to support the event.

As we are partly based in Melbourne, this was a great opportunity to show our support and love for the city, and help give this great not-for-profit event a new way to reach over 100,000 of the public who will attend this year.

The app features a full list of over 100 buildings which are open for tours, an interactive map, a personal itinerary plus social integration with Twitter and Instagram and more.

We'd like to thank Cornwell (http://cornwell.com.au) for the visual design, and efront (http://efront.com.au) for their support.

If you're in Melbourne on July 27-28, grab the app or a printed program and check out some of the great buildings and architecture in Melbourne.

Visit the OHM 2013 Website

You can also find the Android version on the Google Play Store

Native Maps ANE – New features and changes

We've released another update to the NativeMaps ANE, which includes some new features and changes.

Getting BitmapData of the map view (iOS only)
Firstly, we've added a new method to allow you to draw the current map view to a BitmapData object on iOS. Unfortunately due to the way Android renders maps internally, it is currently not possibly to do this in the Android version.

Example:

var bmd:BitmapData = NativeMaps.service.drawMapToBitmapData();

Custom marker icon changes
This is a breaking change to the way custom marker icons are used. This new method should make it easier and less memory intensive when using a lot of custom icons.

This example shows how you should create and use custom markers now:

var icon:CustomMarkerIcon = new CustomMarkerIcon("myCustomIcon", someBitmap.bitmapData);
NativeMaps.service.addCustomMarkerIcon( icon );

var marker:MapMarker = new MapMarker("someMarker");
marker.customIconId = "myCustomIcon";

This new change also fixes a possible bug that could have occurred when using many different custom markers on a map.

As always we'd love to hear feedback about our ANEs, so feel free to get in touch.

Bollé Lap of Oz

distriqt was recently brought on to develop the mobile and Facebook applications for the Bolle "Lap of Oz" campaign.

AUSTRALIANS LOVE TO LAP THINGS. BOLLÉ'S LAP OF OZ IS THE FIRST VIRTUAL LAP OF AUSTRALIA EVER RECORDED. EVERY TIME YOU WALK, RIDE OR CYCLE USING THE LAP APP, WE'LL ADD YOUR DISTANCE TO A LONG CONTINUOUS LINE AROUND OZ, OVER 15,000 KILOMETRES IN TOTAL.

The campaign involved a competition run through the specially developed mobile application, where users would activate the Lap of Oz app while walking, running or cycling and have their distances contribute to a communal lap of Australia. Users' entries were displayed through an interactive map on the Facebook application page, and plotted along the total route of the lap of Australia along with the user's profile image and the distance they contributed.

Working with Melbourne creative studio Marilyn & Sons, we built and managed the implementation of mobile apps for iPhone and Android, along with the web-based Facebook application. The back-end system runs on Ruby on Rails through the Heroku platform. Rails + Heroku was a great fit for what we required to power the application as it allowed us to quickly develop a REST style API and easily manage scaling of the server requirements we needed.

Check out the Facebook app here, or search the App Store or Play Store for "Lap of Oz"!

The Latest from distriqt

Here's a rundown of what we've been up to lately here at distriqt!

New Website!

First off - we've launched our new website. The new site includes a section displaying some featured work which shows off some of the projects we're proud of creating.

As always, we are offering a full range of digital development services for projects ranging from websites, applications, games, digital installations and everything in between.

distriqt Goes Mobile

The web and mobile industry is moving at an incredible pace these days. Given the latest trends, we are now proud to offer complete mobile development services for mobile sites and applications on iPhone, iPad and Android platforms.

We've been working hard over the past year and have already created and deployed mobile apps for some of Australia's biggest bands, including The Living End, Angus & Julia Stone and many more. We also repurposed our Flash website for the fantastic Marija Ivkovic into an iPhone and iPad portfolio app.

Flash and HTML5

We'd also like to clarify that we still love Flash! The web industry has been moving away from Flash and Flex technology in many areas. Traditional web sites and microsites are no longer suited to using Flash, however Adobe is focusing the Flash runtime in exciting new directions, such as 3D gaming for desktop and mobile, and high-quality video streaming.

distriqt will continue to offer standard HTML, CSS and Javascript development for suitable projects in place of Flash, while focusing our Flash development services on new and emerging areas that fully utilise its potential.

While we're also excited about the future of HTML5 and CSS3, these technologies are not yet viable as a solution to reach a mass audience. We do love playing with shiny new things, however, so we can always offer HTML5 development for a suitable project!

 

That's all from us for now - we hope you're having a cracking year.

Feel free to drop us a line if you have an idea you'd like us to help you create.

- the distriqt boys

ZAPPP – Mobile Apps

Distriqt has recently entered into a new relationship with One Meaning Communicated Differently. The new entity called ZAPPP will develop a mobile application platform for musicians in Australia.

This represents an exciting new direction for distriqt, and defines new areas of digital development we are now focused on.

We have developed apps for some of Australia's biggest bands, including The Living End, Angus & Julia Stone, Grinspoon, Josh Pyke, and The Getaway Plan - just to name a few.

Says co-founder Jai Al-Attas...

The whole point of starting ZAPPP was that we didn’t want to just create mobile versions of band websites and call them an App. We think that Apps are useless unless they provide value to both the user and the Artist, so we created the ZAPPP feature which allows the Artist to have a direct & meaningful relationship with the User by offering them exclusive incentives and rewards through the functionality of our Apps.

ABC Black Saturday

Developed for the ABC Innovation department, we developed this interactive website after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria.

The project received a fantastic response, and won two AIMIA awards in both categories it was nominated for, including:
Best Online Video
Best Classifieds, News, Media or Reference

From the press release:
"It pulls together hundreds of pieces of media – professionally produced media, official documents and records and the best user generated content – to provide a stunning insight into the fires and the people who lived through them. An interactive map and timeline allow you to explore the events through time and location, and a series of dramatic video portraits provide a moving insight into the personal experiences of some survivors."

ABC Black Saturday Interactive

This project was a great experience, and distriqt's first major project. We are incredibly happy with the end product. The site pulls together a heap of media data such as video, audio, imagery and news content from a multitude of sources and combines it into a great interactive experience. The Google Maps API also provided us with a really interesting way of exploring the data visually based on the time and location of every media item and story.

Thanks to:
Priscilla Davies - Producer
Bec Smith & Sarah Fawcett - Designers

The website is still up and running, however due to the transient nature of the internets, some of the content is no longer available.

Black Saturday Interactive