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(Archived) ASUS Padfone support

Rob Fisher

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This is a massively premature post because the ASUS Padfone is only just available in Taiwan so far, but it's expected in Europe soon and the US...maybe after that. The unique thing about this device is that it's a phone that docks into a tablet which then docks into a keyboard (like the ASUS Transformer). The key point being that it has two screen resolutions (one for phone and one for tablet) and apps need to support being switched between the two resolutions.

This should work particularly well with the Evernote Android app because 1) it's one app for both phone and tablet and 2) the Evernote Android app looks gorgeous in tablet mode. At least the screenshots do; I don't have a tablet yet.

Now I would have thought that for Android apps switching display resolutions is easy. After all, it already happens when you turn your phone on its side and the screen orientation changes. A 480x800 display becomes an 800x480 display and the app must re-do its layout. The way this works is that Android tells the app to save its state, then it closes and re-opens the current activity in the new display orientation. My first thought is that switching to the bigger screen is just the same thing.

But ASUS are making a big deal about something they call "Dynamic Display" and currently only some apps "support" it. So clearly stock Android can't do this and they have needed to extend the API somehow. This is discussed in the CNET Asia review of the device. When docking the phone in the tablet an unsupported app just gets closed and an error message pops up. Which is a bit sub-optimal to say the least. You can see it in

. Only a few apps support it.

So the hope is that ASUS will make available some way for third party apps to support Dynamic Display. So far I have not found any tech notes from them about how to do this, though I did meet one person online who claims to have spoken to ASUS about this and he thinks that an API spec will be released in June. Maybe.

Anyway, I plan to post more information here when I get it in the hope that we might eventually see Evernote support this device. I can understand if they do not because it is likely to be a niche device for geeks -- but then I suspect a lot of Evernote users fall into that category.

I'd be interested to hear from people here if they care about this device and also would want to see Evernote support it.


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  • 2 months later...

Ok, I now have the Padfone and the situation is better than I feared. Remember the device is a phone with a QVGA screen and it docks into a tablet which changes the screen size to 1200x800. At the same time the ICS tablet UI is activated.

I have tested Evernote at switching between the screen sizes*. It works very well. Even if I am half-way through editing a note, the interface gets resized and the edited text and cursor position are preserved.

However - Evernote does not switch between its phone and tablet UI modes. So it is possible to be stuck with the phone UI on a big screen, or (worse) the tablet UI on the small screen. The only way to get Evernote to switch UI is to force close it and reopen it.

So, feature request: when Evernote detects a screen size change, it should query the device to find out whether the Android tablet UI or phone UI is active and update the display accordingly. Of course, if we are half way through editing a note the unsaved content and cursor position need to be preserved. I don't know how easy this would be.

*Padfone users need to visit settings -> ASUS Customised Setting -> Dynamic display switch list and check Evernote for this to work; otherwise the Padfone will close the app when the display is switched.

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  • 3 weeks later...

ASUS recently released a developers' guide for the Padfone Dynamic Display Switching. You can get it from http://www.asus.com/Mobile/PadFone/#download under "Utilities". Look for "Dynamic Display Switch(DDS) Technical Support". This is a RAR file containing an emulator and also the document Dynamic+Display+Switch+Developer+Guide 0709.pdf.

As far as I can see there is nothing in there that a well written app following Android guidelines for multiple screen apps shouldn't be doing as a matter of course. The part Evernote seems to be missing is this:

"You might need to get resolution in onCreate() of your activity to properly restore the application state."

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