Solar Explorer 2.6.9: Gimbal lock fix, Blackberry BB10 and more
The gimbal lock problem has finally been fixed. This bug intermittently caused the camera’s Y axis to come into alignment with its X axis. When it happened, it would appear as if the camera became trapped in a narrow band around the equator of a planet.
I eventually found that it was caused by three different bugs. Two of them were introduced during the rewrite. Amazingly, the third actually originated in the old Shiva code. It was present in the old version going back to the very first ever release of the app, several years ago. It took the combined power of all three bugs to lock the gimbal.
Camera control is now almost as silky and buttery as buttered silk. Perhaps margarine on nylon?
The Feedback and FAQ buttons from the old version are back in the app. Clicking these will take you to the corresponding pages on my blog, which incidentally has been completely re-worked over the last month. It should be a lot faster and more user friendly on mobile devices.
When the app starts there’s a new welcome screen which shows the last 10 posts from my blog’s “Space Exploration” category. This is similar to the old version of the app which showed a hard-coded list of release notes. The RSS feed is a lot more flexible because I can also include posts about any interesting space-related news that I read.
The “More Apps” function has been changed to show a small selection of my other apps. This is instead of taking you directly to Google Play’s cluttered list of apps.
FInally, I’ve removed the sharing and rating buttons from the main toolbar. I’m going to need the space in future updates of Solar Explorer.
What is the new in-app purchase permission for?
Currently the Pro version of the app (with more spacecraft, no ads, etc) is another download on Google Play. I will be adding an in-app purchase to allow upgrading directly to the Pro version, without needing to download the separate app.
This permission should have been active in the first release of the app. I don’t know how it ended up getting disabled.
Blackberry BB10 update
It has been a while since I released an update for Blackberry. Part of the problem is that I’ve had to learn a completely new development tool. The rest of the problem is that Unity can’t compile apps for the old Playbook OS.
When I originally switched to Shiva, I had intended to port all my rewrites to BB10. At the time Blackberry was saying that they’d be releasing BB10 OS for their mighty tablet. Awesome!
After lengthy delays, we were eventually informed that Blackberry had decided to drop support for the Playbook. Disappointing to say the least. Their decision left me in an awkward position.
Time has passed and the Solar Explorer is looking better than ever. I’m happy with the new version, so I’m going to start working towards a release for Blackberry BB10. Just as the Google Play version was an upgrade, the BB10 version will also be free to existing owners.