Occasionally, I speak at developer conferences, and recently have talked about how to add printing as feature into Android applications. As an example, I take a pretty simple application with only a few Android Activities and then show how a print intent can be integrated for mime types like image/* or application/pdf. After such a talk I have always a couple people come up that seem to be more interested in my demo app than the concept of adding printing to their own apps and they ask me where they can download the app.
Well, about three weeks ago, I decided to make my little demo app available in the Android Market. It’s a well known simple finger painting application, the display is the canvas and your finger becomes a paint brush.
Simply use your finger to create beautiful paintings. Use the Menu to change color or brush styles and also to print or share your artwork via Email etc. Become an Artist on Android and print some of your best creations. Using HP Advanced Photo Paper has produced stunning results, worth framing.
I have recently added some code, allowing the artwork to be directly uploaded to a group on Flickr: Artist on Android – and WOW, check out the results; there really are Artists on Android. I have also integrated Google’s Analytics library to get a better idea about how the app is being used.
Google Analytics is really a great tool, every Android app should make use of. There is a lot to learn about usage patterns and while my little app is currently installed on only about 1,200 devices, I still know a lot about how it’s used.
For instance, I know that 70 times an finger-painted image has been printed and that on average it took 89 seconds to draw the picture before it was printed.
In total, 16,534 times the color of a brush was changed and 12,973 times the canvas was cleared and the artist was starting over.
The brush type (blur, emboss, etc. ) was changed 12,533 times, blur being the most popular 3,403 times.
Users can print via Google Cloud-print or HP iPrint, requiring an HP Printer as well as HP’s iPrint for Android app being installed. Anyway, if not on the device already, I guide the user through the install process of HP iPrint which can result in some stunning prints. In total, 53 users (4.6%) went that route and installed HP iPrint on their phones.
There are more numbers that need to be interpreted and analyzed. However, just this little adventure into usage tracking with Google Analytics can help you understand your user base so much better, going from “I think our users want ..” to “I know exactly what our users want ..”.
A very concrete result for this application could be to make brush color changes easier, e.g. pulling it up in the menu tree, or to make choosing the blur brush easier.
Considering how often Android applications are being updated, we might be at the verge of a new area of customer driven User Experience Design, not relying on small groups of test users anymore, but observing real usage behavior and adjusting the user experience almost interactively.