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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

Under the Sam(e)sung
Jun 23rd, 2010 by miki

A quick note about my feelings and observations after using my new Samsung N210 (white) netbook for a couple of hours during the last 2 days.

The new fellow was bought at danish netshop Proshop.dk (product page) for DKK 2551 (~342.75 EUR ~420.50 USD). Delivery was DKK 59 and took from order at thursday 17th until delivered monday 21st (danish mail is not to blame, I expected it to arrive friday, on stock and all but Proshop decided to wait until sunday 20th before processing the order).

Even though I’m a software junkie, I’m by no means a commercial hardware junkie (software is the enabler anyway, ya ‘now!). I don’t buy off-the-shelf  systems every other day, or have a job where I try out a horde of different netbooks/notebooks. Bear that in mind; these observations come from a newbie netbook user, with experience from larger more gfx capable laptops.

All of the below are under the overall judgement that says: I like this machine very much, it will indeed fellow me  in many a journey in the time to come.

List’o’Niceness

  • battery time (just keeps on running, after 7.5 hour still 25% left)
  • multitouch pad (pinch zoom, two-finger scroll (didn’t know I needed this!))
  • light and easy to handle, battery acts as a kind of handle bar
  • screen is crisp and clear
  • soo silent (put ear to chassis to hear hdd, haven’t heard fan yet)
  • very snappy feeling, in both Linux (Phoenix HyperspaceUbuntu 10.4 NE) and Windows 7 Starter (first encounter, but positively surprised)
  • pgup/pgdn keys are just above cursor keys, nice!
  • no heat

List’o’Annoyness

  • no internal mobile broadband (slot present behind battery)
  • all usb is in front = mobile broadband adapter is always annoying
  • right shift key squeezed too much, keep hitting <> when shifting (might be DK keyboard specific)
  • home/end keys with Fn qualifier requires getting used to (didn’t know I used these so much)
  • alfa keys a bit offset to the left, keep writing 2 (argh…) 1 more than I need
  • no space/mark between f4 & f5, f8 & f9
  • caps lock indicator is hidden with other system leds (why isn’t it purple or something to stand out from power/wireless/hdd led?)
  • num lock and scroll lock is indicated using osd from windows app, could be problematic in non standard environment
  • no multitouch out-of-the-box on Ubuntu 10.4 (will be looking into this)

Oh, and of course, it needs a name! My N210 is named khandro, after a tibetian deity, meaning “cloud fairy” or “she who traverses the sky’.

Let the fairytales begin…

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