Today, we’re releasing TPE for Android 1.1.
This is a significant update that adds some great new map features. We’ve made use of Google’s Android Maps API v2, which has allowed us to add a bunch of new features, including:
- Terrain maps – long awaited!
- Map rotation – twist with two fingers to rotate, tap the compass needle to return to north
- Map tilt – push up on the map with two fingers to tilt it, pull down again to restore to an overhead view
In addition, the new maps are vector-based, meaning all map captions rotate to stay aligned with the viewer – no more hard to read upside map labels.
We’ve also worked the compass function in this release. Instead of the tap on/tap off compass that was formerly shown at the top left of the map, you can now tap the current location button a second time to enable auto-rotation. With this mode enabled, the map will automatically adjust to stay aligned to true north as you rotate your device.
This makes alignment planning when you’re out and about on shoot much easier. (That said, if you want to do it like the pros, use a field compass and align using the numbers! The built-in compasses in mobile phones and tablets can’t begin to compete with the accuracy of a quality instrument.)
Google Play Services and Google Maps
Now that TPE is using the Android Map API v2, we have a couple of new dependencies in the app: Google Play Services and Google Maps.
Google Play Services is what allows the new maps API to function.
If you’re running an older Android device, it’s just possible that you didn’t get updated to Google Play from the old Android Market app. In that case, and if you don’t have Google Play Services already installed on your device, you might have trouble getting it installed.
That was the case on one of my test devices – an old HTC Desire that I had upgraded from 2.2.2 to a developer build of 2.3.3. Getting this sorted out was a bit of trouble. In the end, I sucked a copy of Google Play Services off one device (an even older original Droid running 2.2) and pushed it onto the Desire manually via USB (using the Android SDK). Once that was done, all was well.
If you have any similar trouble, drop us a line (see the support page for contact details), and we’ll try to get you up and running.
We hope you like the updates in TPE for Android 1.1. The new maps are a great a improvement, we hope – especially the addition of Terrain maps, which are so useful for landscape photographers.
(A quick aside: I spent a significant chunk of time last year trying to make Open Street Map tile overlays work in the Android app, which would have allowed us to include a topographic map. Sadly, it never ended up stable enough to ship – we constantly had “out of memory” issues, which was something many people saw with OSMDroid at the time.)
This is a pretty significant update for TPE under the hood. Moreover, the Google Maps for Android API v2 is relatively new and there are a few issues with that technology still being worked out (at least one of which was discovered while doing the TPE update). However, the upside of the new API seems to far outweigh any minor problems. And our pre-release testing (for which a big thank you to our beta test group) has not revealed any major (or minor) remaining problems.
That said, the Android universe of devices is a big one and we can’t test on every device (very far from it), so, if you do run into any issues, please let us know – we’ll be straight on it.
If you have any problems, comments or questions on the new version – please do get in touch via email, Twitter, FB, G+ etc.