me the most impressive feature of the Android operating system is
Android intents. Looking at competing mobile operating systems trying to
figure out how to integrate Twitter and Facebook to their platforms
makes me smile. Android got it right. The integration is not too tight
and it is fair. No social network is endorsed by the platform. Everyone
is standing on equal ground.
But intents can be much more than just social network sharing or Google Play URL opening!
I've been an Android user for a long time already. Still, sometimes the
OS and some apps surprise me and impress me about the capabilities of
the OS. I want to share few of them here hopefully to inspire more
developers to think how they could integrate their apps more tightly to
Let's say that I have agreed to meet with my friend in a coffee shop and
I have typed in the meeting into my Google Calendar. (Side note: I love
how easy to use the Google Calendar is as the cloud service keeps
everything up-to-date on all of my devices.)
I can tap the address to see selection of apps that can give me more
info about the address. I know where the coffee shop is but what I want
to know is when do I have to leave home to be there on time. I open Öffi - Public Transport Buddy
an app that know everything about public transportation timetables at
least in some parts of Europe. The app does not open from an empty
screen but instead has both fields, start point and end point,
prefilled. The app know where I am and it knows that I very likely
opened the address with this app because I want to get there. Literally
all I need to do to see all public transportation connections is to tap
It is noteworthy that neither of these apps (the Google Calendar or
Öffi) need to have any specific functionality implemented in them. The
Android platform takes care of everything.
Second example of an app that impressed me lately is Evernote
Let's say that I arrived to the meeting with my friend and I want to
make a note. I open Evernote and tap "New note". Evernote realises that I
have a calendar event that is currently ongoing. It prefills the note
header with the calendar event title and location. Brilliant!
Knowing What Else Is Going On
is one of my favourite apps. Not only have they done brilliant work
with their design (especially in the upcoming new version) but the app
is aware of what else is going on in the device.
The app knows where I am and it pays attention to what I'm playing on my
music player (Google Music in my case). If I happen to play a song of
an artist that is coming to near me the app notifies me. Again,
Users still hate writing on their mobile devices. The above examples all
demonstrate that utilising the system tools correctly you can help your
users to achieve their goals in the best case without any writing.
Integrating to other apps via the amazing intent system can make your
app stand up in the crowd of app!