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Micro:bit – Official Android mobile application maturity and future
Jan 31st, 2019 by miki

Posted as #20427 at Micro:bit support on 2019-01-31 22:19 CET spawned by discussion in F-Droid RFP #662 about inclusion of the official Micro:bit Android Companion application in the free software application store F-Droid.

Hi at Micro:bit Educational Foundation.

We are wondering a bit in the F-Droid free software community (https://gitlab.com/fdroid/rfp/issues/662) whether it is worthwhile for us to try to loosen the official Android companion application (https://microbit.org/guide/mobile/#og-app) from its non-free dependencies to make it available in the free software application store F-Droid (https://f-droid.org/).

This leads to a couple of questions you can hopefully help answering;

1) Do you regard the application as alive and supported?

The latest release of the application was v2.0 2017-01-17 (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.samsung.microbit) and the publicly available code base (https://github.com/Samsung/microbit/) seems to have been completely abandoned. Only two commits were ever made by Samsung and no involvement with the community has been seen at all.

2) How come the big difference in maturity between the iOS and Android mobile applications?

It seems like the iOS application has received some more attention seeing regular updates through to v3.0.2 released 2018-11-01 (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/micro-bit/id1092687276?mt=8). Also it appears to have a much wider fetaureset (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.samsung.microbit&reviewId=gp%3AAOqpTOGpgo4CF2qrry4qWqLXyj0TZaEEJcrTB-yZ61o4nJbqhq-2mBojlYQJP7BzdkAzseGaLD1sVO9fBv1R3sY) developed along the way by Insight Resources (http://www.insightresources.co.uk/microbit/index.html).

The Android application appears to have been more of a one-off project from Samsung having all sorts of issues especially with Bluetooth that has never been attended to (http://www.suppertime.co.uk/blogmywiki/2016/04/mobile-microbit/, https://support.microbit.org/support/solutions/articles/19000041104-diagnosing-bluetooth-problems-android).

3) Is there a plan to bring the application in better shape?

Some activity can be seen in repository forks and branches from the original Samsung committer ailrohit (https://github.com/Samsung/microbit/compare/master…ailrohit:school_project) and microbit-sam (https://github.com/Samsung/microbit/compare/master…microbit-sam:partial-flash) identifying as being from the foundation but none of this work seem to be included in releases yet.

4) If a freed fork is made for inclusion in F-Droid would you be willing and able to integrate the changes into the official sources?

F-Droid prefers an upstream source which can be directly built without non-free dependencies using an appropriate set of build options. This greatly simplifies maintenance and build efforts. A forked repository is already in place at the foundation’s Github organization (https://github.com/microbit-foundation/microbit-android) but is at the moment even with the stale Samsung repository.

Thanks for any clarifications you can provide.

Regards,
Mikkel

Itches to Scratch
Mar 30th, 2014 by miki

“Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch.”

The above sentence quotes the first lesson from Eric S. Raymond‘s essay/book “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”, which has become a kind of bible within the FOSS ecosystem. In his text Eric investigates motivations and social organisation of free and open source software projects. Itches are known initiators of many both large projects and minor changes to FOSS software. Itches, and the scratching of those by developers in the FOSS community, highlights a FOSS software user’s right to access, modify and redistribute the source codes behind FOSS software. With access to the underlying source code of FOSS software, a developer is able to scratch an itch, and is usually very motivated by this, because it often is a very personal itch.

I’ve long been trying to keep a list of itches I want to scratch in free software projects/products. Realizing that most of these were lost in transit in the chaotic neuron mess of my brain, my intention now is to, also,  keep track of them textually using this site.

This effort will be an ongoing, and probably ever expanding, mix of my private personal itches and itches related to and spun-off from my software development work done as a professional embedded developer, but still personal itches.

You can head over to the static page at mikini.dk/index.php/what/itches and take a look at my past and present itches.

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