Sunday, December 4, 2011

my android tablet experience

a couple of years ago, i checked out an ipad from the library to test it out and hated the experience. the device was slow and unresponsive, heavier than i anticipated and couldn't do much in the area of productivity and communication. i could browse the internet, but couldn't see any sites with flash. e-commerce sites were out due to the cumbersome on-screen keyboard (i could make a purchase at least twice as fast using a laptop). email was out as well since typing was a chore. so what's left? games? not for me. e-book reading? no comparison to my kindle, which was lighter and easier on the eyes (no glare). so i returned the device rather disappointed.

after testing the acer android tablet, i feel exactly the same way. the acer was slightly faster than the ipad, but so what? it did have a USB port, so i was able to transfer a movie from my laptop to the acer. but i had to convert the DVD to MPEG before i could watch it on the acer (which took more time than you can imagine). and the quality of the image was not nearly as good as on my laptop. so once again, i ask myself: why bother?

next, i went hunting for apps that could have educational value for graphic designers or visual artists. the shopping experience was not a pleasant one as many of the free apps i tried were amateur creations. also, many apps are designed for phones (with small screens) not tablets. and it wasn't clear in the market place which is which, so i wasted a lot time downloading useless stuff.

"white board" was one such app. at first glance, it looks like an excellent sketchbook app, but it was obviously designed for phones. i never could figure out how to expand the menu area without exiting the application. of course, there was no instructions to help me out.

next i tried "sketch notes", a simple sketch book with 3 paper choices plus the ability to save sketches. but the icons were impossible to "click" on and changing tools was painful. once again, no instructions to help out.

"tab notes" has some possibilities. it's a simple sketch book that seems to function quite well, but there was no option for blank paper (only paper with lines). i also couldn't figure out how to delete or organize saved pages. of course the trial version has "trial version" in big bold type across the app, which prevented full enjoyment of the experience.

"color buddy" is a color harmony selector app with ability to save palettes. it's a nice idea, but with a very clumsy interface and no interactivity (as in adjusting base color with a slider). color harmony rules could have been designed with visual examples instead of labels to make learning color theory easier.

i would not recommended any of these apps to any of my students.

as for possible projects for dave bock's class, i would like to see a simple color harmony app created with a visual interface. it would be the same general idea as "color buddy" but less complicated than adobe's "kuler" which is a desktop app built into adobe illustrator (there is an android version but it costs $10). the entire goal would be to help beginner artists choose harmonious color schemes using pre-programmed rules. color theory needs to be taught visually and through trial and error, so an interactive digital color wheel with sliders seems like the obvious choice.

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