Android Expert Profiles

How I Use Android: Pujie Black creator Paul Ivan

A pioneer in Android Wear development steps into the spotlight to show us how he uses Android himself -- from the wrist to the pocket and beyond.

How I Use Android: Paul Ivan

Android Wear may still be in its infancy, but Paul Ivan is what you might call a veteran of the platform.

Ivan is the designer and developer behind Pujie Black -- one of the most polished and powerful Android Wear watch faces in the Google Play Store. Pujie has stood out since Wear's earliest days of third-party face support, and the app has only continued to grow over time and push the boundaries of what a watch's home screen can be.

For the uninitiated, Pujie gives you a (relatively) simple interface for creating your own custom smartwatch setup -- with options for everything from the presence or absence of hands to the size and style of numbers, on-screen text, and minute markings. You can add tappable indicators to show things like the weather, your watch and/or phone battery levels, and info about upcoming events. You can even draw your own watch hands and backgrounds, if you're feeling especially artistic.

Pujie Black Watch Face - JR

A minimalist Pujie Black design I made a year ago and still enjoy today. (You can try it out for yourself here.)

The possibilities are practically endless -- and that's why Pujie has been one of my long-standing personal Android Wear favorites. So I figured it was high time to get to know the guy behind the app and see how he likes to use Android -- both with Wear and with regular ol' rectangular devices -- in his own life.

In his own words, this is how Paul Ivan uses Android.

The basics

Your current primary phone: My current primary phone is a Nexus 5X (carbon colored). I have been using Nexus phones since the Nexus 4, which I thought was amazing. After that, I had a red Nexus 5, and a couple of months ago, I bought the Nexus 5X. (I actually also had the G1 -- does that count as a Nexus 1?)

I do love the design of the Nexus 6P a lot as well, but phablets are just too big for me. I must say, though, that I really easily got used to every size increase over my last three phones, so never say never.

The Nexus 5X is really great; I love that the camera is so much better with this generation of Nexii. I did not even miss my camera during my last vacation!

I really have enjoyed all the Nexus phones by LG. They all have this understated design that I think is really gorgeous. Sometimes I wonder why they don’t seem to be able to make the same good-looking phones outside of the Nexus brand.

What case is on your phone (if any): I never use cases. I think they really ruin the design of a phone.

Your current tablet (if any): I just bought the Pixel C when Google released the Android N developer preview (yes, with the developer discount). It has a really nice build quality to it, and it's great for testing Pujie Black on a Android Nougat device (I have kept my Nexus 5X on Marshmallow until now, to make sure I'm also testing on a more relevant Android version).

But since phones have gotten so big lately, the tablets in our home now are mostly used by my son and wife. The tablet I used the most is my good old first-generation Nexus 7. Seven inches is still a really good size for a tablet, I think, especially if you don’t own a phablet. My son also proves that it can suffer some hard loving.

Your current smartwatch (if any): Of course I have a couple of Android Wear smartwatches lying around for testing Pujie Black. For wearing, I switch between the original Moto 360 and the Huawei Watch.

The design of the original Moto 360 is still the best of all the Android Wear watches. The lugless body is really gorgeous if you ask me. I really like the resemblance to the Braun watch designs. However, the screen on the Huawei Watch is so much better. AMOLED really works well for watches, and I do appreciate a screen without a flat tire!

I’m really looking forward to the next generation of Android Wear watches. I’m hoping for speedy processors with high resolution screens in a slim and well designed body! Maybe a Nexus watch!

What face you're using on your watch right now: I do wear Pujie Black a lot for testing purposes, but when I'm actively developing it, it is often not installed on my watch (because the debug version does not install the Wear app).

Whenever I'm not using Pujie Black, I almost always use Odyssey by Zuhanden. I really love the colors and futuristic design of that watch face. It blends very nicely with the edges of the Moto 360.

Odyssey Watch Face

The Odyssey watch face, as seen on a Moto 360

The home screen

A quick walk-through of your phone's home screen setup: I keep my home screen quite simple these days. In the end, there are only a handful of apps I really use. Most of them are the obvious Google apps like Maps, Gmail, Google+, and YouTube. I keep them on a Google folder on the main home screen. The dock holds Camera, Chrome, Hangouts, and the Phone app. All very important! Beside those, I keep Messenger, Whatsapp, and Gmail close on the right bottom corner.

Paul Ivan Home Screen (1)

On the screen to the right, I have some extra app icons for apps I use often. Translate, for when I need to translate an angry review. IMDb, for looking up movies and series to watch. Snapseed, for playing with those great and easy to use filters. Photos, to look at and manage my pictures. And since recently, the Play Console app, for checking how things are going in the Play Store.

On that same screen, I also keep a Pujie Black widget, mainly to test if it’s working properly.

Paul Ivan Home Screen (2)

What launcher you're using: I used to be a lot into the extremely modified launch screens from the Themer community, but lately I have been switching between Nova Launcher and the Google Now Launcher.

The Google Now launcher is really great; I love the look of stock Android, and it’s great to have that search bar as a built-in part of the launcher.

I use Nova whenever I have encountered an icon pack I really like. It’s so flexible, and it makes it very easy to make something slightly more special but still close to stock Android.

What wallpaper you're using: There are many great wallpaper apps (I love Backdrops!). But as I’m a dad, my three-year-old son has been the center of my home screen for some time now. And although he hates to be photographed and seems to be faster than the speed of light, every now and then I manage to make some nice wallpaper pics of him (praise double-power-button to launch the camera!).

Anything else of note (interesting customizations, special icons, etc): I’m currently using the ARto Icon Pack. I love the look and concept of it. It uses a very limited palette of colors to create a uniform look. I think it looks great; even the app that comes with it is very well designed. (It could use an icon for Pujie Black, though!)

Paul Ivan Home Screen (3)

The experience and the apps

What's one of your favorite Android-related tips or tricks?

My favorite shortcut lately is the double-power-button tap to launch the camera. It really helps me launch my camera a lot faster. And the slow motion video capabilities of the new Nexus generation are really cool as well. You can make some really nice videos with that. Especially when your kid moves fast, it helps bring things down to a more earthly speed!

Beyond the obvious stock Google programs, a few apps you can't live without right now (and a quick word about why):

Snapseed. The filters in this app are really amazing. These days, it’s really so much easier to edit photos on your phone than on the PC using Photoshop. I always use it to tweak my pictures a bit before I put them on my home screen.

Plaid. Plaid by Nick Butcher is a demonstration app for Material Design (besides bringing a stream of design news). It’s really a great source of inspiration and because it’s open source, you can even see how everything is made.

Isotope. Isotope is a periodic table app developed by Jack Underwood, with a truly stunning design (by Anders Bjarne). It has the most amazing animations, together with some really crisp images. It’s not that I need my periodic table close at any moment, but you never know when you might need it -- right?

AZ Screen Recorder. I have been using this a lot lately to make demo videos. Its latest version has a very handy interaction model. Because of the feature that lets you double-tap the right corner of the screen to stop recording, I don’t have to cut the last part of my videos anymore!

Play Newsstand. I use Play Newsstand to read all the big tech blogs. It’s great to have all of them in one place. I really could not live without this app (well, almost could not live without...).

Google Keep. I use Google Keep a lot, both for personal usage (grocery lists, mainly) and professional. I keep (!) all of my to-do lists in Google Keep. I like the fact that they are just lists and that you don’t have to attach any dates or special meaning to them. And they sync perfectly across all platforms.

Check out more Android expert profiles below or in the official Google+ collection -- and stay tuned for even more entries in the weeks to come!

Icons in title image courtesy of Freepik at flaticon.com.

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