Android: A barren wasteland for pressure sensitive pen hardware and apps...

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by Shogmaster, Apr 2, 2016.

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  1. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    With arrival of iPad Pro, Apple users now finally have a few very good options for pressure sensitive hardware and apps. And Windows hardware has been enjoying golden age of pen hardware and software for a while, with new $600 Core M 12" devices giving great hardware and value for mobile art creation.

    But what about Android? Most of us probably carry at least one Android device (e.g. phones), yet for Android artists, the situation is dire. Worse than dire. It's pure crap. What exactly happened? Was it lack of support from Google? Or lack of general hardware power in the devices? Or that no one likes to pay for Android apps driving app developers to iOS?

    Also is it too late to turn the ship around? Has Surface Pros and iPad Pros taken all the air out of Google's stylus sails? Google don't care about digital ink?

    I use to have a Samsung Note 10.1 (1st gen) from when it first came out, but lack of good art apps and progress of art app development made me give the tablet to my mom. She now uses it to Skype with the grand kids mostly, the S-Pen forever docked in the silo. It's really kinda depressing. Did Samsung drop the ball with the whole "Pro" device push few years back making the devices too expensive for what they are? Ironically Apple has taken that "Pro" ARM device mantle from Samsung and ran with it. But it's only really working IMO because of all the people who have been waiting patiently for a penabled iOS tablet.

    Curiosity almost got the best of me and I almost bought a Dell Venue 10 5050 from eBay. It would be nice again to carry a nice penabled Android tablet as support device for my Windows 2 in 1 and tablets. But then I remembered that all the Android art apps (including Sketchbook Pro) are SH*T. Wacom AES wasn't gonna fix that in the Venue 10 5050.

    Anyone else curious or longing for a decent Android penabled tablets and apps?
     
  2. Mr. Boosh

    Mr. Boosh Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    My use for pennabled tech is academics. I tried to make a Note 10.1 2014 work in school, but OneNote for Android is so incredibly ****ty that I had to remote in to my desktop so I could print PDFs to OneNote if the professor didn't provide us notes until 5 minutes before class started. Then I'd have to wait, resync, and let everything load on the Note.

    That got old real quick, and I switched back. For me, it's purely the apps. I would love to have an Android pennable tablet with good OneNote, simply for the battery life and weight.
     
  3. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yes, the Android apps do suck.

    No one want to pay for ****ty apps and no devs want to create apps when no one pays. It's a vicious catch 22.

    Who give a crap if there are 100x more apps in Play store than Windows store when 99% of them are utter pile? I'd rather pay full price for few proper apps I can count on in Windows.
     
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  4. violajack

    violajack Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I use an HP Pro Slate 12 for my sheet music reading. It's based on the Qualcomm ultrasonic pen, which is....interesting. I had been using an iPad for a lot of years (and windows slates prior to that) but got tired of waiting for the long rumored big iPad and switched to a Surface Pro 3 when the right deal came along. The iPad Pro is way more than I want to pay for something that's going to balance on a music stand at outdoor wedding gigs on occasion. Also, my iPad was basically only a sheet music reader. I don't have much use for one otherwise. $1k is a lot to drop on a single purpose slate. I found a refurb HP Pro Slate 12 on ebay for under $300 and went for it. It gives me a nice big 4:3 12" screen and an active digitizer.

    I learned and was okay with Forscore on the iPad. It had its quirks, but it worked. Mobilesheets Pro (the only real sheet music solution on Android) is quirky in a different way. It's like coming from mac to linux. It's not as pretty, has a million bazillion options all over an incredibly cluttered interface so it can do so many things. And it's all developed by one guy in his free time. It works very well, just doesn't look as pretty, and I had to RTFM to figure out some stuff. So yeah, the Android app basically sucks compared to the several really good apps on the iOS platform at first glace. It can be wrangled into submission (and is actually more flexible once you learn it), but it wasn't as easy as Forscore.

    I also find the pen and OneNote combo to be good enough for me. I don't draw or mark up much stuff. I mostly just handwrite notes on occasion and it works. But the pen is quirky and not as intuitive or easy to pick up and write as even something like the synaptics solution on my dell venue 11 pro. But when I just want an easy OneNote box, I carry my Samsung GN8 instead, but more for the form factor than the pen solution. The HP is just ungainly. It's fine to plop down on a music stand and leave there, but during the pick up/put down of writing notes during lessons, the GN8 is much easier to work with.

    The other biggie is SmartMusic. I just have to carry a Windows slate on days I want to use that. There's an iPad app for it, but it's not nearly as full featured as the desktop windows version and not really worth keeping an iPad around just for that when I have several Windows slates floating around that can do it much better.
     
  5. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    Yes, I long mostly for new android hardware with wacom/equivalent that will actually catch in popularity. I think so long as you get enough people using devices with a good pen, the apps will follow. At least one app has me still painting on my NotePro 12: Infinite Painter (new updates overhauled the app) has won me over as the best of the best on Android right now. Seriously useful perspective features, really cool brushes and a decent blending engine. Every layer and transformation tool/feature you would expect out of a mobile app too. I consider it on par with apples "procreate".
    Corel painter is decent too, but still feels a little too simple in contrast to windows apps. Same with sketchbook.

    so yeah, I long for better apps and more pen support in general out of manufacturers for android. Really, we just need it to catch with the general public so there is revenue incentive for creators.
     
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  6. YVerloc

    YVerloc Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Had a Galaxy Note 10.1, loved it. Art apps limited to Sketcbook Pro but I liked that just fine. Upgraded to the Note Pro 12.1 Love love loved it. Maybe my favourite digital device ever. If they could get it to run in Cintiq mode when tethered to another system, it'd still be my workhorse - and I think the lack of a Cintiq mode was the beginning of the end, really. Without it, there's a natural limit to how pro you can go, so everyone who is excited about the idea of doing pro work on mobile hardware moved on to the actual cintiqs or surfaces. I did too. So I blame Samsung for dropping the ball. They failed to keep the momentum toward pro level utility going. Where's the 12.1 replacement? Better yet, where's the 15 inch 4K machine with Cintiq mode? All we've got from Sammy is a bunch of small screen midrange ******** for the last few years. Screw them. I'm diddling around with the iPad Pro while I wait for Wacom or Microsoft to release a 15 incher. Samsung and Android are dead to me.
     
  7. AveSharia

    AveSharia Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I have been using LayerPaint on my Note5, and I guess it has a tablet version (LayerPaint HD) as well. As for hardware, I just assumed nobody was trying to compete with Samsung in that arena since they had such a long head-start; but then I've never tried a Note tablet, either.

    Ignore my squiggles, this was from last night in the recliner (couldn't sleep).

    Since that video (which noted no free version) they added LayerPaint Zero, which is obviously heavily gimped, and looks to be mobile-only (no tablet UI or features).

    LayerPaint HD ($8)
    LayerPaint ($2.99)
    LayerPaint Zero (zero)

    The biggest gripe that comes to mind is that the max airbrush size (200px) is a bit small for the resolution I draw at (3840x2160). I don't think there are custom brushes, or any textured brushes at all. LayerPaint HD looks like it might support custom brushes from a bitmap, but I'm inferring that from the Play Store screenshots and the machine-translated manual ("Bitmap: Specify the material, it is a brush paste the material"). There are some little annoyances as well... you can't get rid of that bottom toolbar, for example.

    It does check a lot of boxes for me: full brush size/opacity sliders, layers (obviously) with a roundabout solution to layer masks ("clipping" layers), undo/redo by volume key, full-screen (mostly) drawing, pinch to zoom (but no multi-touch rotate), export to PSD (huge for me).

    It even had one feature I didn't know I needed until I tried it: a perspective/parallel lines tool, which confines the lines you draw to either parallel lines, or to a vanishing point:

    What that looks like. The only annoying thing is you can only place one at a time, and it doesn't save the position with the file (so if I draw two separate images with vanishing points, it doesn't remember the location of the first).

    I would actually be interested if anybody has tried the tablet version. It's a pretty steep buy-in though, with no trial.
     
  8. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    I played around with Layer Paint and Layer Paint HD few years ago. Looks like they haven't improved much. The brush engine back then was too complex for the Quad core A9 in the OG Note 10.1, so I could only use a tiny brush on a big canvas without slowing waaay down. Also the brushes were too damn simple. No textures, no pressure curve adjustments, no nothing. Just bare bones. And they were charging I think $6 back then. I said NO THANK YOU. I'm a cheap bastard with taste.
     
  9. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Actually with LayerPaint HD, you can Max the Airbrush out to 500px at that Res (or any other res really)....but at that size it is laggy mess.

    However I found the small brush size to be quite a general problem amongst the android art apps on a small note phone. Packing such a huge res in a tiny screen, this issue is really almost unavoidable.

    Artrage, Corel Painter Mobile, & ArtFlow seem to suffer from this issue the worst since they have relatively low max brush sizes.

    Layerpaint HD, and the newer....more Desktop like build of Sketchbook I find more useful.....but MediBang Paint I'm finding is kind of the sweet spot for me. The Brush engine maxes at 300px and seems to preform fairly well even at that size.
     
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  10. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    MediBang Paint, eh? Are you going to make me buy that Venue 10 5050 to try this thing out? lol
     
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