29 January 2021

Deep-Sky Planner Mobile Edition: Project Update

Users of Deep-Sky Planner Mobile Edition (DSPME) haven't seen an update to the Android app in many months while users of the iOS/iPadOS app have. The changes made in the past year have affected only the iOS/iPadOS app so the Android app didn't require updating.

That situation has changed recently. Both mobile apps provide access to Cloud Storage services Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive. These services have changed authentication for their services which have required changes to the apps. Updating the apps has been complicated by the fact that the development tool used to produce the apps (Embarcadero C++ Builder) has not updated its Android app support 1. I can still develop the app for Android but I can no longer distribute it through the Google Play Store. I can still develop and distribute the iOS/iPadOS app through the Apple App Store. There is no issue there.

After months of research, I have decided to make the Android app available to the astronomy community directly from the Knightware website. I have also decided to make the app free of charge. The downside of this for users is that they are not notified by the Google Play Store when an update is available. Furthermore, the app also must be 'sideloaded' onto Android phones and tablets. This presents several warning messages about installing an app from an unknown source. In this case, this means that the app is digitally signed by Knightware but NOT delivered through the Play Store.

What about the Apple (iOS/iPadOS) app?

The iOS/iPadOS app is not affected by the change in distribution - you can still get the iOS/iPadOS app from the App Store and it will continue to have a small price. (There are ongoing expenses required for distributing an app through the App Store.)

Each app will continue to be available and will be updated as necessary. Learn about the Android and iOS apps at https://knightware.biz/dspme/index.htm

1 The the Google Play Store requires that all apps be compiled for 64-bit hardware. Embarcadero does not ship a 64-bit C++ compiler for Android at this time. A 32-bit C++ compiler for Android is shipped and has always been used to produce DSPME for Android. Note that a 32-bit app runs on a 64-bit phone for example. The Apple App Store also requires 64-bit apps and Embarcadero ships a 64-bit C++ compiler for iOS/iPadOS.