Cypher Cove

D’Keesto Software is now Cypher Cove.  See you on the other side!

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Digital Flux reviewed

Android Central posted a great review for Digital Flux today!

The review mentioned the unusual name for the app, so here’s an explanation. :)  I actually had three other names in mind first, but they were all too similar to names of existing apps when I searched for them in Google Play.

I chose the word flux because it’s short and memorable, and the tiles in this wallpaper are in a state of constant motion which fits the meaning. The word digital helps tie it to the theme of Digital Hive and Digital Embers–these are all based on  images that have only the faintest hint of the elements of nature that they represent.  This was originally going to be called Digital Waves, but I thought the name might get drowned out among the many wallpapers that feature rippling water effects.

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Digital Flux live wallpaper is out!

Just released this week! I decided to make the default color red–I think more people will prefer it that way.

Available on Google Play:
Free Version
Full Version

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GSP reviewed

Gift Shopper Pro has been reviewed over at HollywoodFrodo. This is a neat site for app reviews, because the reviews show a detailed video of the apps’ features. Also, there is a short, sped-up version of each review video so you can quickly see all the features the apps offer.

Thanks for the review, HollywoodFrodo!

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Coming up next…

A few weeks ago, I came across a CG image that looks a lot like a colored-in skyline diffuser. A Google search turned up all kinds of CG images with the same theme. After imagining what a skyline diffuser might look like in motion, I was inspired to make a live wallpaper out of the idea. I’m really excited about how this one turned out. Unfortunately, this week I saw a new live wallpaper on Google Play that seems to have also been inspired by skyline diffusers.

I’ve already put way too many hours into mine to scrap it, but I also think it’s sufficiently different that the two won’t be direct competitors. In mine, the tiles are smaller, beveled in the middle, and cast shadows; touch affects tile height rather than color; and it uses a simpler lighting model. All these factors create a very different look. My new live wallpaper is basically done, but I want to put in a little more testing before release.

One of the really cool features of this wallpaper is the dynamic shadows, and it runs smoothly on the good old HTC Incredible. Here’s a sneak peak:

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Digital Embers reviews

A couple of reviews have gone up for Digital Embers.

The first is over at Android Police, a hugely popular Android news blog.

And another is from QbKing77′s YouTube channel here. I found out about it from the customer reviews on Google Play, and watched a few episodes. QbKing’s show is has a variety of info about new Android devices, and tips for getting the most out of your phone.

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Digital Embers

New live wallpaper! :)

Available on Google Play:
Free Version
Full Version

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Digital Hive 1.5.0

I put this update up to help Galaxy Nexus users with the stuttering issue. See the previous post for an explanation of the issue with the phone.

The new smooth scrolling setting helps to reduce the appearance of stuttering by both limiting the camera movement speed and controlling the scroll velocity directly instead of letting the launcher handle it. I recommend that Galaxy Nexus users set the Max scroll speed to Low and set the “Restrict camera rotation” setting to 60%.  This should be a good starting place to keep the camera from moving so quickly that the low frame rate is very noticeable.

Upon request, I also added a new color option for swapping between two colors depending on whether it’s plugged in. (Good idea, Peer-Eric!) I think it looks pretty cool when you set Second Color Source to “blend from left” and then use the new “Plugged/unplugged color” for either main or second color source.

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About performance on Galaxy Nexus

I’ve had several customers write in to ask why Digital Hive stutters on the Galaxy Nexus and if it will be fixed. The short answer is not one you’ll like to hear: it’s a problem with the phone hardware.

Basically, the GPU (graphics processing unit) in the Galaxy Nexus is underpowered for its high-resolution screen.  Read on for a detailed explanation and a tip for improving the look of the wallpaper.

On mobile devices, the most common bottleneck for graphics performance is the fillrate (how fast the GPU can draw pixels to the screen).  That’s especially true for live wallpapers, which must share the GPU with the launcher, which draws all the icons and UI on top of the wallpaper. So for each frame of animation, each pixel in the live wallpaper must be drawn, and then each pixel in the launcher UI must be drawn. Any pixel that is covered by something in the UI is drawn twice each frame, so it adds up.

The Galaxy Nexus GPU is the SGX 540, the same as the Samsung Infuse 4G’s, and one that is a little less powerful than the Galaxy S II’s Mali 400.

The Infuse and the Galaxy S II are 800 x 480, for a total of 384K pixels on screen. The Galaxy Nexus is 1280 x 720 for a total of 921K pixels on screen. So basically, the GPU on the Galaxy Nexus has to draw 2.4 times as many pixels per frame as the it does on the Infuse or S II. For a live wallpaper that is bottlenecked by the fillrate, the potential frame rate can be expected to be roughly 2.4 times worse on the Galaxy Nexus as it can on the Infuse or Galaxy S II.

Granted, that is a rough estimation. Even the same GPU can perform more efficiently with a different OS and different circuit board. AnandTech did a comparison that showed that the Galaxy Nexus outperformed the Infuse with both outputting to the same external display. Also, Digital Hive and Neon Microcosm are frame rate limited to 30fps, regardless of the capability of the GPU. This is to prevent the live wallpaper from making the launcher sluggish.

Digital Hive is especially affected by this problem for two reasons: 1. It has high contrast between the shapes and background. 2. The camera has a significant range of motion when swiping between screens. So although the frame rate hit isn’t really any worse than it is for other wallpapers, it’s a lot more noticeable.

As for solutions, my recommendation to users is to adjust the setting in Digital Hive that limits the range of camera motion. This will help mask the stuttering when swiping across screens, because low frame rate is more noticeable when objects are moving fast across the screen. I also believe the frame rate drops during screen swipes because the launcher is drawing some invisible pixels to screen as part of its rotation effects in Ice Cream Sandwich.  I also speculate that this is the reason the built-in Phase Beam live wallpaper in Android 4.0 does not scroll left and right. They may be using the same trick to mask low frame rate!

I think I will add a setting to the next release of Digital Hive that lets you adjust the frame rate limit yourself. On certain phones, users may find that the wallpaper actually looks smoother when there’s a lower frame rate limit, as it will help the wallpaper be more accommodating to the launcher.

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Gift Shopper Pro permissions

Here’s an explanation of the permissions used by Gift Shopper Pro. I thought I’d clarify this, since a customer review expressed concerns about the read contacts permission.

The Read Contact Data permission is used to get a list of names for you to copy into the list of gift recipients so you won’t have to type them. The contacts information is not stored or sent anywhere. I’m considering a future update that will remove this permission by sending you to the phone’s Contacts app instead of accessing them directly from within Gift Shopper Pro. The app will appear a little less integrated, but the plus side is that thumbnail images will be seen with the list of names, which could make it easier for you to pick names off the list.

The Internet Access permission is used exclusively to send barcode numbers to Google Search to retrieve product names.

Take Pictures/Video is used for barcode scanning.

Modify/Delete SD Card Data is used if you back up your gift list data to transfer it to another phone.

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