UI Gem: Android Calendar Time Picker

It’s been available for a while now, but every time I use the new Android calendar app’s time controls, I’m so impressed by their elegance.

Previously, setting the time for a calendar event involved some simple numeric up/down spinners. Setting the hour worked reasonably well, but if your event happened to be on the half hour, you’d have to spin and spin and spin the minutes to get to 30. My first thought was that maybe they should constrain appointments to start on 5 minute intervals rather than being able to pick any arbitrary minute. Who has appointments at 3:27 PM after all? The fewer available intervals (3:25 or 3:30, for example) would mean less spinning.

Instead, the Android UI designers introduced a clock control that looks like this:

Hour Picker

After picking the hour, you’re moved automatically to pick the minute:

Minute Picker

This interaction has three huge benefits:

  1. It’s very natural to pick a time using a clock.
  2. It’s really fast to pick the desired time regardless of when it is.
  3. You can still pick an exact minute, so there’s no sacrifice of time “resolution”.


A word is worth a thousand pictures

I found this sticker inside one of a pair of new shoes:



I didn’t have any idea what this was saying. My wife suggested it meant that I ought to watch out for diamonds… and maybe nets.

I found this sticker in the other shoe. I think it means the same thing:


Amazon Glacier and CloudBerry Online Backup

checkbox-0 Offsite backup for critical files

This task has been lingering undone on my to-do list for months. I imagined that I’d figure out some way to use Dropbox, Google Drive, Sky Drive, or something to keep my data safe in case something catastrophic happened at the house. All those solutions seem so expensive, though. When Amazon Web Services announced Amazon Glacier not long ago, with storage rates at 1 cent per gigabyte per month, I figured I’d found my storage location, but it is just an API. Finding CloudBerry Backup completed the solution.

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Three Suggestions for the Android Calendar App

1. Two reminders

I want a reminder at the specified reminder time, and another one at the appointment start time. This is how it typically goes for me:

PHONE: Ding!
ME: Oh yeah, I’ve got that meeting in 10 minutes. Let me just finish this little bit of code in the meantime…

(15 minutes later)

CO-WORKER VIA IM: Hey, you coming to this meeting?
ME: Shoot! Sorry! Be right there.

The lack of this feature has created a market for tons of reminder “nag” apps that try to make up for it. I don’t really want a whole other app that piles on inane features in an attempt to justify its existence, though.

2. Current month is white

OK, this is kind of picky, but shouldn’t the current month be white while the previous and next months are gray? The current scheme is opposite that and my brain struggled with it.

3. Combined day and agenda view

The webOS calendar has a brilliant combination of an agenda and day view. It lets you see all of your appointments without huge swaths of blank screen pushing them out of view, but still makes it easy to add a new appointment at any time of day by tapping the accordion section.