Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monkey Write won Grand Prize in Galaxy Note App Challenge!

When Samsung announced the Galaxy Note S Pen App Challenge in February, not one, not two, but five of my friends send me the link to make sure that I enter Monkey Write into the contest. It's such a natural fit that I got to work right away.


I studied the S Pen SDK to see what I can do with it. The core of the API is the CanvasView, which is a canvas that accepts and renders touch events. It comes with a SettingsView to change the pen style. Another interesting feature is the animation mode for replaying the whole stroke sequence.

To minimize code change, I layer the CanvasView on top of my stroke sketching area, and pass all the touch events down for grading purposes. The CanvasView handles all the drawing, which means that I can take advantage of the nice pen styles provided by Samsung. Once the character is finished, I animate all the strokes again, so you can review the stroke sequence and direction before moving to the next character.

These enhancements made Monkey Write quite a bit nicer, but I was hesitant to release them, for the S Pen SDK adds 1MB to my binary, which is quite a lot since the base apk is only 1.9MB. I was not sure if it was a good idea to force everyone to download an extra 1MB that only benefits the Galaxy Note users. Turns out the S Pen SDK is enabled for all Samsung devices, not just the Galaxy Note, so a lot more people ended up using Monkey Write with beautiful pen styles and engaging animation.


A few days before the contest winners were announced, I got an email from ChallengePost, asking me to verify my name and my company. I was thinking, hey, looks like I would be on some kind of list, and nobody keeps a losers' list, right? I tried not to think too much about it, but needless to say I was rather excited.

April 23 was announcement day. I was on vacation with my family in Hong Kong, and we went for a short trip to Macau. When I woke up on April 24, I went down to the hotel lobby and checked email on one of the public machines. I was staring at my inbox for quite a long time to make sure I read it right, and yes, Monkey Write won Grand Prize!

Monkey Write has been such an amazing experience for me. Both HTC and AT&T have been really supportive, from hackathon to launch. Users have told me time and again that they really enjoyed the app, some by writing 5-star reviews, others by buying extra workbooks. On top of all that I now have the great honor of being the winner of the Samsung Galaxy Note Contest. This is simply amazing.

Thank you so much for showering Monkey Write with love!

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