Monday, October 4, 2010

New version & custom icon set preview

I released a series of updates for KeitaiMail last night and earlier today. I apologize for any inconvenience those many updates might have caused. A few new imperfection-bugs popped up and I thought I'd just fix them while I'm free.

There are two noteworthy changes:

  • KeitaiMail has been translated to Japanese. If you set your locale to Japanese KeitaiMail will show you explanations and menus in Japanese.
  • Gmail settings are entered by default. One big hurdle for using KeitaiMail is certainly the setup part. Most Android users will most likely use at least one Gmail address so Gmail's IMAP and SMTP settings are now present by default. You can of course enter different settings if you like. These settings will only appear for new installations. So if you had trouble setting up KeitaiMail, try to uninstall and install again (or erase the application settings).
The next thing I want to talk about is custom emoji. Custom emoji means that instead of the default emoji bundled with KeitaiMail other, more complete icon sets can be used with the full version of KeitaiMail:

On the left you can see custom emoji, in this case the emoji as they would actually appear on Japanese cell phones by SoftBank (top), DoCoMo (middle) and au by KDDI (bottom). The image on the right shows the default icons, which are shared for emoji display by the three carriers when no custom emoji are in use.

If you want to know more about original emoji and how they appear accross Japanese cell phone carriers  please refer to Emoji Symbols: Background Data. This document includes symbols (the monochrome icons on the left) that already appear in some unicode fonts and some that might do so soon. I compiled them into a custom icon set:

You can download it here. To use it, extract the archive to a directory on your SD card (e.g. F:/keitaimail/unicode) and in the application settings on emoji display enter this path for the carrier it should be used with. The path is to be entered relative to the SD card's root directory (e.g. keitaimail/unicode). Don't forget to check the reload checkbox and save. The application will restart and load the new icons.

The default emoji are used as fallback icons. This means that for every emoji that can not be found in the custom icon set but in the default icon set... the default is used. So unless your emoji set is complete (refer to the emoji table I linked to above) you might see default icons pop up somewhere. Please tell me if you want to be able to disable this fallback feature.

I compiled several other emoji sets I will not release today. First the original DoCoMo emoji:

The original au by KDDI emoji:

The au by KDDI emoji as they appear on Google Labs' Gmail emoji:

The original SoftBank emoji:

The SoftBank emoji as they appear in Apple's iOS:

I'm probably going to offer some of these for download here soon and if enough people are interested I will also write a tutorial on how to create your own icon sets. Feedback is always welcome.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Some information & release of "Lite" version

First there's a few things I have to set straight:

  1. I have received a few confused emails asking what IMAP or SMTP is. I won't go into detail here but simply speaking these are messaging/email protocols used by email clients. If you wonder what the respective in KeitaiMail mean and what to put into the entry fields... you have to find these settings for your email account! If you want to use KeitaiMail with Gmail you first have to enable IMAP in your Gmail settings and then in KeitaiMail enter the data you can find here. If KeitaiMail fails to connect to your email account try using only the part before @ as your username.
  2. As with any other email client you will have to supply a password. There's no way around it. The only servers your account data is transmitted are the email servers you specify in the account settings. So... I am not stealing your account data ;)
  3. KeitaiMail is not intended for reading/sending SMS text messages from/to the iPhone. At this point I have no intention to develop an app for that. This has two reasons: a) I don't own an iPhone and cannot find out the yet undocumented encoding the iPhone uses for these SMS. It might be compatible/equal to the encodings I already have in my app but it might as well not be; b) The SMS content provider in Android is not really part of the Android SDK. It is there and can be accessed but it's not designed for general purpose access (e.g. might differ across future Android versions etc.). If it become part of a future Android SDK version I might consider writing such an app.

Today I released the free ad-supported Lite version of KeitaiMail. It lacks the following features of the full version:

  • Copy & paste from emails
  • Viewing emoji descriptions (for now only in Japanese)
  • Custom emoji/icon sets.
Other than that it's "fully" functional regarding sending/receiving emails, i.e. it's not a sandbox like the first "Lite" version I released.

KeitaiMail Lite on Market

I hope you are able to set the application up and test it without issues. As usual contact me any time if you have questions or if you run into problems. I might just take a little longer to answer from tomorrow since I'll be quite busy during the next few weeks.

The "Lite" version is only intended for countries in which paid applications are not offered yet.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's release time

I have been working on KeitaiMail on and off since I had bought my first Android smart phone. I never intended to release it or even try to make money with it. I merely wanted to enable myself to send and receive emoji, making communication with Japanese cell phones easier and more effective. I took the lack of such application as an incentive to get into Android development. Having worked on this for some time I now believe KeitaiMail can really fill a feature gap, albeit a gap that affects only a small niche of Android users.

Today I finally released the paid version. It still is in a somewhat experimental state since I was unable to find many testers. Keep that in mind when you buy the app. Consider the payment a donation for continued development. As soon as my Google AdSense registration is finalized I will release an advertisement-supported "Lite" version with most of the features found in the paid one. If that takes longer than expected I might release a sandbox "Lite" version that only works offline until the real "Lite" version can be released.

This is what the inbox looks like. KeitaiMail only receives email that either has been sent via KeitaiMail itself (on your own or a different phone) or from a Japanese cell phone email address (looking like etc.). Likewise you can only use KeitaiMail to send email to those compatible groups. That's not entirely correct. You can send emails to any address. They will just not be able to view emoji contained in them without KeitaiMail. Currently KeitaiMail is not meant to replace your default Android mail clients since it does not support notifications, automatic fetching and many other features commonly found in "proper" email apps like Gmail, Email or K-9 Mail. Maybe in a future release...

Since I am not legally allowed to package the original emoji of DoCoMo, au by KDDI and SoftBank with my application I use an icon set provided by Six Apart Ltd. that I have additionally modified. I plan on continuing the extension of this icon/emoji set in order to provide a nearly complete fallback emoji set. The full version allows for importation of custom emoji sets. I will go into this in more detail in a future post. By assembling the correct icons and importing them you can have all the major icon sets in their original on your single device and use them simultaneously unlike on "real" Japanese cell phones (keitai-denwa 携帯電話). Speaking of which... I am currently working on a Japanese translation. There already is some Japanese to be found in the current app, that is: in the emoji descriptions.

KeitaiMail on Android Market

If you are living in a country that has no access to paid apps on the Android Market please contact me and we can try to find a way to deliver the app to you. In general, please do not shy away from contacting me on questions, bugs or feature requests. You can do so either in the comments to my posts or via email to