The Road To Chameleon v1.1

  • October 5, 2012
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  • Posted by Tony Macdonell ( @tmtek )

It’s been two weeks since we officially launched Chameleon version 1.0, and although we’ve been spending much of that time working on improvements and new Widgets, we’ve also been thinking a lot about the future. The very near future…

Widgets

One of the core concepts that makes Chameleon unique is how it is a widget centric launcher. In Chameleon 1.0 we re-envisioned what a widget could be, and going forward we are going to focus on making as many as possible available to you.

Chameleon Widgets

Chameleon Widgets were designed to overcome most of the limitations that Android App Widgets suffer from, such as: extremely limited interactivity and poor adaptive layout. We also wanted them to be easy for anyone to create and deploy, so we designed them to be web-based. On top of the Widgets we have already released, we just released Google+ and Calendar – with many more to come, such as Reddit, and Music.

Google+

The Google+ widget was made available to everyone yesterday. Chameleon would have displayed a notification that the Google+ widget had been added – if you have not seen that, or you don’t have Google+ in your list of widget, force close and restart Chameleon and it should appear (you shouldn’t have to do that, but if you don’t like the waiting game you can force it).

The Google+ widget uses the available API from Google and with that, whatever it allows us to do. Currently the Google+ API has a lot of restrictions and we have put everthing into the widget that it will allow. We are only able to display your ‘public’ posts, as well as search query feeds. The Google+ API currently does not give us access to your ‘All Circles’ feed, or any of your non public circle feeds. We were disappointed about this as well. When Google opens up more access to Google+, we will add in more features.

Google Calendar

The Google Calendar widget was made live just a little while ago. Again, you should have seen a Chameleon notification saying that the Google Calendar widget had been added.

The calendar widget currently relies on the Google Calendar web service and will pull any calendar that you have up there  (though not shared calendars). For now. Once Chameleon v1.1 goes live, with the addition of a lot of new API services, the widget will be able to pull content from your device’s local Calendar App. The next version of the calendar widget will also have some extra views like an event/agenda view as well as an all calendars view.

We also intend to make a lot of small updates to the existing Widgets, based on your feedback. Some examples of this are:

  • News: Supporting multiple feeds, and allowing you to add a feed by URL.
  • Twitter: Replying, re-tweeting inline, list feeds
  • Facebook: Support for other feed types.

3rd Party Chameleon Widgets

The emerging community of Chameleon Widget developers are already making some really great stuff using our Chameleon Widget SDK! Here is a Home Screen with a few that have already been created:

We intend to add a Widget Catalogue to Chameleon that will allow users to browse the Widgets created by the community, and install them along with the default ones.

We are continuing to improve the Widget SDK and will be updating the documentation to show developers how to get their Chameleon Widget communicating with native Android services. This opens the door for Chameleon Widgets to do anything you can imagine.

Between the Widgets we are working on, and the upcoming 3rd party widget catalogue, there will soon be plenty of great Chameleon widgets to use on your Home Screens. But, we’re not going to leave it at that – we are going to open up all of the available possibilities for Chameleon users by introducing support for Android App Widgets.

Android App Widgets

That’s right, Chameleon 1.1 will come with full support for Android App Widgets!

There are thousands of existing Android App Widgets. While we think they’re lacking in many respects, we have received overwhelming demand for them so we will be adding them to Chameleon. Many of them do tap into valuable content housed within locally installed applications that we cannot access using Chameleon Widgets as a third party. You can see a preview of Chameleon using Android App Widgets by watching the video at the top of this post.

We hope you are as excited as we are about the future of Chameleon. We are just getting started!