Widgets – the explanation

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.

6 Comments

  1. I would prefer this kind of widget since going through all the movies of the current widget is too difficult, sometimes the touch and swipe event is not triggered and you need to do it again and again until it works and swipes the movie up or down. This way we’d have a widget with a button to refresh the content.

    One suggestion, since you are looking at a refresh button to randomly select 5 to 7 images, maybe also put in two buttons at each side of the widget to go through your collection without shuffling the movies, but go through them in order (alphabetically or however they are ordered). Hope that makes sense?

    Reply
    • I like the idea, but I do see a problem. If the widget is initially created with five random cover arts, and you were to press a button to go through to the next five movies, where should it continue from? Which one of the five random movies? I don’t think that’ll work very well.

      Reply
      • I love the idea of random for the Movie widget. Would it also be possible for you to place a favourite button onto the widget so it pulls out your favourite movies if labelled as so.

        Reply
        • I’m planning on creating a configuration screen just before adding the widget, which should allow you to pick what you want it to show 🙂

          Reply
      • If moving on from 5-7 random movies I’d start from the beginning… All other times you can start from the last movie on. This is how I would implement it anyways. Still have the refresh button for random posters too cause it is a brilliant way to get a movie to watch by a random chance =) but as a cataloger version it would be good to have the next and previous buttons.

        Reply
        • I’ll see what I can do 🙂

          Reply

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