By Ryan M. Hoffman | 2016-12-20
Friends Android App
Friends is an Android app I am currently developing with a planned release in early January 2017. The app is a short-list version of the stock contacts app. Friends pulls in only your starred contacts and gives you easy access to call or text them. It is supposed to be sort of like a speed dial, but for all your favorites instead of just one, and all in one place.
I originally began building this app as a generic replacement to the stock contacts app on Android. As I was building it I began wondering what feature I would have that would set it apart. I thought about the idea of somehow highlighting friends and those you talk to most to make it easiest to contact them.
That is when I decided to dedicate the app to only those favorites that you contact the most. Instead of having the whole muddled mess of contacts, probably over half of them you used exactly one time and will never use again, Friends puts the people most important to you at your fingertips instantly.
From the beginning I wanted to keep the app small and simple. I didn’t want anything slow and clunky with a million unnecessary features that just ruin the user experience. I wanted the list of contacts as the main screen, and when you click on one it will bring up their details and allow you to contact them.
The main feature is that it collects all your favorite contacts and puts them in a very simple list on the main screen. It isn’t cluttered or messy, and it is very easy to glance through to find the person you are looking for in a couple seconds.
Once you find the person you are looking for you can click on them to open up the details screen. This screen has their name, of course, in a very simple material designed way. It will also have a card containing the last text message you received from them as a reminder to what you were last talking about.
The last thing you can do on the details screen is either call or text your friend. There is a Floating Action Button on the screen, and when you click on it, it will expand showing a couple of options. You can click the option on the left to call this person, or the option on the left to open your default messaging app and text them.
Currently that is all you can do, but there are plans to add new features in the future, as long as it doesn’t complicate the feel. Something I’m already planning to implement is a long press to call from the main contact list screen. Things like that are neat and useful tricks that don’t have any effect on UI or performance but still positively improve the utility.
As I mentioned previously, I plan to have the first version of this released within the first week or two of January. As with all software, it is never finished, but it is very nearly ready to be released in the initial version. All of the features for the first version are already implemented and seem to be working, but I might need to make a few tweaks here or there and I’m still heavily testing to make sure it goes well on release.
I’ll update this post frequently with news on the release schedule and probably continue to update it after it is released to announce improvements and future features.
Friends has officially been published to the Play Store. Of course it is a bare bones version, but there will be more updates down the line. I did end up adding the long press to call from the main screen since that was a very quick edit to the code. I also added a sorting function to put your friends in alphabetical order. That was relatively simple to implement and makes it much easier to scroll and find the person you are looking for. If you want to check it out please download it from the Play Store and leave me a review letting me know what you think!