Built my first Android app. Flashlight by Joe. No ads. No stolen data. Open source. Free.

After learning some of the basics of Android I decided I wanted to go through the process of building an Android app and getting it into the app store. I’m at the point with learning programming that learning alone is no longer sufficient for my development. I have to start applying my knowledge and building some simple apps and websites. I’m not focused on making money at the moment, just applying my knowledge and gaining experience with developing.

With that motive, I had to pick something to build. I read an article about how many of the Android flashlight apps that are available secretly steal user data. Many flashlight apps also have ads on them. And yes, for all you iPhone users who have a flashlight installed with your operating system, many Android users do not have this luxury. So I figured stolen data and ads and charging people for premium versions of something that seems simple enough to implement is pretty lame. And while this app is meant to be a learning exercise for me and not intended to create a better flashlight, I figured maybe I could provide a little value to someone who downloads the app.

So I built Flashlight for Joe and put it into the Google Play store. The selling points being no ads, no stolen data, open source and free.

I wanted to build a simple looking interface, no need to complicate anything. Ended up with this design.

Keeping it simple
Keeping it simple

Nothing too complicated here. The big challenge that I realized from this project was that I would have to work with the Android camera, which is configured very differently depending upon the phone manufacturer. And given I would be supporting over 3,000 devices and 15 operating systems it was not feasible to track down all of those configurations to test. I was definitely a little bummed with how complicated it was to access such a simple functionality of the Android camera. Eventually I got it working on my Samsung Galaxy Note II and my mom’s OG droid and figured that would cover a good amount of users.

When I was happy with it I posted it to the Google Play store.

My first app
My first app

You can download the app at Flashlight by Joe – Google Play

You can find the source code used to make this app at Flashlight by Joe – GitHub

Camping at Stokes

Got together for our annual camping trip (this was the 12th annual) at Stokes State Forest in New Jersey for a weekend of hanging in the woods. In addition to the usual steaks, shrimp, burgers and links, oysters were a new addition to this year’s menu. They made appearances as grilled, raw, and shooters.

Grilled oysters were a nice addition
Grilled oysters were a nice addition

As always we got some good hiking in. It’s fun to venture off into the woods and just chill with the homies.

Into the wild
Into the wild

This year was the first year we went up to Sunrise Mountain at Stokes. It’s not much compared to some of the mountains out there, and some people probably would classify it as more of a hill, but 1,653 feet gets you second highest point in New Jersey. It’s worth the short drive to the top. The lookout from the top is amazing, and not just for New Jersey standards.

Sunset on top of Sunrise Mountain
Sunset on top of Sunrise Mountain

It’s always a fun time when everyone gets together and goes camping. There’s been some discussion of switching things up a little for next year’s trip, as the format of the trip has stayed mostly unchanged for 12 years. But it’s hard to beat the pure simplicity of grabbing your best mates and heading camping in New Jersey.

Pines at Stokes
Pines at Stokes