Some have been asking why the latest version of Mizuu doesn’t come with a widget for TV shows and some have been asking why there’s a 20 movie limit on the current widget. The explanation is a bit technical, but I’ll do my best:
All tablet devices are equipped with RAM – some may have more or less than others, but it’s usually around 1 GB. RAM is also known as ‘work memory’, as it’s used for the operating system and the applications currently running. In Android 3.0, applications – by default – can access a maximum of 48 megabytes RAM. This may sound like a lot, but when you’re dealing with lots of bitmap files (i.e. the cover art work in Mizuu), that’ll quickly run up. There are ways to access more memory, but this is not recommended and will slow down the app. That’s why it’s very important that developers manage the available memory in the best possible ways. I’m far from an expert Android developer, and I’ve still got areas that can be improved, and I think widgets is one of them.
The current Mizuu widget loads up to 20 images at launch, and keeps all the images in memory. This takes up quite a bit of the available memory for Mizuu – roughly 20 percent. This means that the application itself is now down to 80 percent of the available RAM. If I were to add a TV show widget based on the same widget format, Mizuu would potentially be down to 60 percent of the available memory. That’s not a whole lot.
That’s why I’ve been thinking about various sorts of widgets, that can improve the memory issues and hopefully provide users with the functionality they want.
One of the widgets I’ve been thinking about creating is one that shows a total of 5 or 7 covers at a time and continuously swaps out cover art every 10 or 15 seconds. There’ll also be a refresh button to manually update all the covers with some new ones. This option will be good for performance, and should allow users to get a cool widget that’s capable of showing all the content with only minimal user interaction – it’s easier than having to go through lots of movies in the style of the current widget.
Above you’ll find a mockup of the widget I am likely going to create. Your thoughts are very welcome. I’ve also added a screenshot of the widget on a tablet device at the very top of this post. The left widget is the current one, and the one on the right is the concept one.