iPhone, iPad & Android App Developers UK with offices in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

0207 993 4594
0161 870 2578
0121 270 7144
London
Manchester
Birmingham
iphone, ipad mobile application development android mobile application development

Mobile Technology News, April 18, 2014

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • Analysts: Low iPhone growth now, but good times ahead in 2014
    Historically, investment and Wall Street analysts have had a poor track record predicting Apple’s fortunes ahead of time. However, as Apple’s guidance has gotten more accurate, and as supplier leaks and blatant manipulation of the market grow, predictions are getting more accurate. As it traditionally does, Fortune magazine has rounded up the predictions of various investment houses and independent analysts, which show slow growth in iPhones this quarter, but expectations of boosts ahead.



  • The Trust Gap: Heartbleed, Virus Shield, and the Growing Challenge for Android App Developers
    Recently I was speaking on a panel at an app developer event, when the moderator asked us why most app developers continue to develop apps for iOS first (or sometimes exclusively) despite the fact that Android has a far larger market share and expects to expand the gap with iOS over the coming years.

    In my experience, the question has a very simple answer: iOS remains the most profitable ecosystem for app developers. Despite Google’s widening lead in device sales and installed base, developers earn twice as much money on Apple. It also requires more time and money to develop for Android due to the fragmentation of the operating system. Emu founder Dave Feldman famously tested the obstacles of pursuing an Android-first strategy. His experiment didn’t last long.

    To me, the more interesting question is, “Why do developers make twice as much money on iOS?”

    During the same panel, one of my fellow Android-wielding panelists offered some insight into the issue when explaining she “doesn’t pay for apps on principle.” Her response suggests that part of the challenge for developers on Android is a cultural one. The revenue numbers and research from Distimo, Statista, and Flurry all provide unconditional support for that theory. Many Android users look at their devices and apps much like they look at the Web, where the idea of paying to access a website or service is simply a non-starter.

    Higher levels of piracy and lower income levels among Android users also play a role, but many are concerned that things are about to get even worse for developers on the Android platform.

    The Trust Gap

    Most developers I’ve talked to recently also express concern about the growing “Trust Gap” between Android and other mobile operating systems. We already know that 97 percent of all mobile malware targets Android, but recent revelations could make Android users even more wary of buying or even downloading apps for their devices.

    Last week, CNET called Android a “toxic hell stew of vulnerabilities” following revelations about how devastating the Heartbleed bug was for Google’s mobile operating system. While CNET’s headline is obviously hyperbolic, it effectively outlines how the fragmentation of Android prevents or delays critical security patches from reaching Android users. In addition to the Heartbleed bug, in the past couple weeks the number one paid app in the Google Play Store proved to be a complete sham, and now security researchers are reporting that incredibly dangerous malware made it onto the Play Store.

    Regardless of their business model, the success of the app developers requires consumer trust. Users must trust that the developer is who she says she is, that the app does not include malware, and that the app, device, and developers are protecting their security and privacy. And customers are far more attuned to this that you might think. Last year a Pew study showed that 54 percent of customers had deleted or chosen not to download an application because of privacy and security concerns. The need for trust in devices and apps is even more critical as our industry moves into the incredible opportunities available in the enterprise, health, and educational markets.

    Closing the Trust Gap

    Originally viewed as a strength by app developers, the ease of getting apps into the Google Play Store is fast becoming a weakness, even for smaller players. If Android users become even more concerned the potential harm of downloading apps, it is the startups and small developers who will be harmed the most. While consumers will likely continue to trust apps from major brands like Nike, Walmart, and Facebook, they will likely avoid apps from companies they don’t know yet.

    Google recently took the long-needed step of expanding the use of its Verify Apps service to scan all apps downloaded to Android devices, including those that come from the Google Play store. Previously, the service only scanned apps that were downloaded from alternate app stores. But, the move only confirms the problem that we were already seeing… far too many nefarious apps are making it into the Google Play store.

    For developers to succeed in the long term, Google must take action to clean up the Google Play store. Changes may slow down the app approval process, but most developers would welcome it if it also created an environment where consumers were more comfortable paying for apps.

    Additionally, Google needs to find a way iron out the kinks in its distribution of updates and patches for Android. Until they do, far too many Android devices will remain susceptible to viruses and malware and enterprises, hospitals, and schools will become increasingly wary of adopting Android without a workable solution.

  • Deals: RadioShack dropping price on iPhone 5s, Pixelmator price drop
    Although there have been a number of good deals in recent months on both the iPhone 5c and 5s, a new deal kicking off tomorrow from RadioShack may be the one iPhone 4S holdouts have been waiting for. Starting April 18, new or upgrading customers using AT&T, Verizon or Sprint can buy the 16GB version of the iPhone 5s for $99, half of its usual $199 up-front cost. The deal, which is available both online and in stores, gets sweeter if users trade in a working iPhone 4S or newer.



  • Selling globally is child's play
    The tech making e-commerce easier for small firms
  • Google Glass: I Have Better Things to Do With $1,500
    I didn’t apply to be one of the early “explorers” when Google first made its “Glass” wearable computing device available last year, and I didn’t opt-in when they sold them online to anyone willing to pay $1,500.

    Although I don’t own Google Glass, I have tried it.

    Part of the reason, of course, is the price. I have better things to do with $1,500 and, besides, if I wait a while, the price is sure to come down. If Google is serious about providing wearable access to the Internet and to its mapping service, to the general public, it will have to find a way to price them for $600 or less.

    But price isn’t the only reason. For one thing, they are not yet ready for prime-time, and I’m not sure they ever will be. I’m not against wearable technology. I just want the technology to solve a real problem or enhance my life in a meaningful way. That’s why I’m not excited about most current smartwatches, though I do wear a Lifetrak exercise watch because it’s affordable ($50), it doesn’t require being recharged (has a one-year coin battery) and it does solve a real problem — incentivizing me to walk more.

    2014-04-17-glass.jpg

    One issue with Glass is the user interface. There is a touch-pad that lets you use hand-gestures to activate Glass or navigate to a different web page, and you can use head movements, but the main interface is voice, which is great when it works, but still not 100 percent reliable.

    Some are waiting till Glass gets more stylish. The fact that they’re quite geeky looking wouldn’t stop me, but I can see how many would prefer more fashionable eyewear. Google has signed a deal with an eyeglass company, so we can expect better-looking versions, including some with prescription lenses.

    There are some who worry about distracted driving and walking. Indeed, having a computer monitor just above your eye could be distracting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you look straight ahead, you see what’s in front of you, not what’s on the tiny monitor. Still, there is the temptation to look at the screen at inappropriate times, just as some are tempted to look at or touch their phones when they shouldn’t.

    My biggest concern about Glass is that I’m not convinced it’s the best form of wearable technology. I like the idea of having the Internet accessible all the time, but I’m not so sure I want to be wearing a monitor on my forehead.

    Another issue is lack of social acceptance. There has been quite a backlash against Google Glass. Some is probably unfair, but there are those who worry that they can be used to surreptitiously take pictures or video. But to be fair, there are plenty of other ways to do that with digital cameras and smartphones, including plenty of wearable cameras. For some, Google Glass is simply symbolic of the growing number of well-heeled techies who are flaunting expensive technology that many can’t afford. There is even a pejorative term that starts with “glass” and ends with “hole.” The word in the middle is a synonym for donkey.

  • See What It's Like To Be Six Years Old And Steering A Harley Davidson (VIDEO)
    Would you let your six-year old drive a motorcycle?

    That’s the question going around after the YouTube user jacob hughes posted the video above on April 13 of his helmeted child at the handlebars of their Harley Davidson.

    A fierce debate is raging about the dangers of their trip down a two-lane road in an arid landscape. Some commenters insist the dad, by his weight alone, is still in control. Others say it’s too risky to ride like that with a kid.

    What do you guys think? Good old American fun or a disaster waiting to happen? Let us know in the comments.

  • BBC and Sky experience fault on iOS
    The BBC and Sky’s video-on-demand apps simultaneously experience a fault on iPhones and iPads that prevents TV shows from streaming.
  • How to Lie With Data Visualization

    Data visualization is one of the most important tools we have to analyze data. But it’s just as easy to mislead as it is to educate using charts and graphs. In this article we’ll take a look at 3 of the most common ways in which visualizations can be misleading.

    Truncated Y-Axis

    One of the easiest ways to misrepresent your data is by messing with the y-axis of a bar graph, line graph, or scatter plot. In most cases, the y-axis ranges from 0 to a maximum value that encompasses the range of the data. However, sometimes we change the range to better highlight the differences. Taken to an extreme, this technique can make differences in data seem much larger than they are.

    Let’s see how this works in practice. The two graphs below show the exact same data, but use different scales for the y-axis:

    2014-04-17-111misleading1_yaxis.png

    On the left, we’ve constrained the y-axis to range from 3.140 percent to 3.154 percent. Doing so makes it look like interest rates are skyrocketing! At a glance, the bar sizes imply that rates in 2012 are several times higher than those in 2008. But displaying the data with a zero-baseline y-axis tells a more accurate picture, where interest rates are staying static.

    If this example seems exaggerated, here are some real-world examples of truncated y-axes:

    2014-04-17-222misleading1_fox.jpg

    2014-04-17-333misleading1_baseball.jpg

    Cumulative graphs

    Many people opt to create cumulative graphs of things like number of users, revenue, downloads, or other important metrics. For example, instead of showing a graph of our quarterly revenue, we might choose to display a running total of revenue earned to date. Let’s see how this might look:

    2014-04-17-444misleading2_cumulative.png

    We can’t tell much from this graph. It’s moving up and to the right, so things must be going well! But the non-cumulative graph paints a different picture:

    2014-04-17-555misleading2_normal.png

    Now things are a lot clearer. Revenues have been declining for the past ten years! If we scrutinize the cumulative graph, it’s possible to tell that the slope is decreasing as time goes on, indicating shrinking revenue. However, it’s not immediately obvious, and the graph is incredibly misleading.

    There are lots of real-world cases of cumulative graphs that make things seem a lot more positive than they are. A prominent example is Apple’s usage of a cumulative graph to show iPhone sales.

    Ignoring conventions

    One of the most insidious tactics people use in constructing misleading data visualizations is to violate standard practices. We’re used to the fact that pie charts represent parts of a whole or that timelines progress from left to right. So when those rules get violated, we have a difficult time seeing what’s actually going on. We’re wired to misinterpret the data, due to our reliance on these conventions.

    Here’s an example of a pie chart that Fox Chicago aired during the 2012 primaries:

    2014-04-17-123misleading3_pie.png

    The three slices of the pie don’t add up to 100 percent. The survey presumably allowed for multiple responses, in which case a bar chart would be more appropriate. Instead, we get the impression that each of the three candidates have about a third of the support, which isn’t the case.

    Another example is this visualization published by Business Insider, which seems to show the opposite of what’s really going on:

    2014-04-17-777misleading3_deaths.jpg

    At first glance, it looks like gun deaths are on the decline in Florida. But a closer look shows that the y-axis is upside-down, with zero at the top and the maximum value at the bottom. As gun deaths increase, the line slopes downward, violating a well established convention that y-values increase as we move up the page.

    There’s a simple takeaway from all this: be careful when designing visualizations, and be extra careful when interpreting graphs created by others. We’ve covered three common techniques, but it’s just the surface of how people use data visualization to mislead.

    Ravi is co-founder of Heap, a data analytics company.

    Do you have an example of a particularly poorly built visualization? Let us know on Twitter.

  • Jayne County, Transgender Icon, Allegedly Banned From Facebook For 'Transphobic Slurs'
    Following a week of controversy surrounding language and its use against and in the transgender and drag communities, transgender icon Jayne County claims to have found herself banned from Facebook for using words that some activists have stated are transphobic.

    Jayne County, hailed as one of rock n’ roll’s first gender variant icons and a fixture in the Andy Warhol factory scene, posted a Facebook status on Tuesday that contained the words “shemale” and “tranny.”

    In response, Facebook reportedly banned the icon for 24 hours. County did not take the regulation of her word choice lightly.

    Over the course of the past week, conversations surrounding the words “tranny” and “shemale” — and if they should ever be used and if so, by whom — have rocketed into the mainstream. This occurred after popular reality show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” announced it would be removing a long-standing portion of their show that used the phrase “she-mail” when it came under fire from some transgender activists who claimed the word is derogatory. Several former “Drag Race” contestants who identify as trans also spoke out against the use of the words on the show.

    However, as evidenced by County’s statement and responses from other trans women, including singer-songwriter Our Lady J and musician and New York City nightlife icon Justin Vivian Bond, the transgender community has many differing opinions regarding the use and policing of these words.

    (h/t Nerve)

  • Why the Future Belongs to Google — Part II

    If you have read the first part of this series, I have written about the strengths and foibles of two enormous tech giants — Apple and Microsoft. In the final part of this series, I am turning my attention to another giant and delving deep into the big G.

    Big as a Galaxy

    They’re responsible for a sixth of Korea’s economy, played the protagonist in the Miracle on the Han River, tower above giants in an elite group of conglomerates called chaebols; and if you happen to visit Seoul, the name ‘Samsung’ is a leitmotif and its influence, epic.

    Most people do a double take when they’re told that a brand we associate most with phones and televisions was also the primary contractor for the world’s tallest building, are the second largest shipbuilder around, fancy aeronautics and weaponry and own a theme park to round it off. Reminds you of some sovereign ruler? This is Samsung, and its $288 billion empire is huge, multifarious and flourishing.

    Samsung electronics is the crowning jewel of the Samsung group, a powerful arm which has earned it high praise, immense recognition and multiple billions. It employs more than 370,000 people and prides itself on being the world’s largest maker of LCD screens and mobile phones. Founded as a trading company, Samsung forged its legend through the Korean War and a prolonged period of economic turmoil to become the titan that it is today.

    Their rise to prominence in the consumer electronics segment has been accentuated by some stellar mobile devices they’ve produced. When no smartphone could hold a candle to the mighty iPhone, Samsung’s Galaxy SII got heads turning with its brilliant execution of an Android OS which was still nascent. It was fast, bright and asserted that the world will not be dominated by just one company’s ideas. Following it up with an even more imperious Galaxy SIII a year later, Samsung really took the bull by its horns. While the competition was still learning the ropes of creating truly great devices, Apple, dented by Samsung’s increasing prowess, took the Koreans to the courtroom to ban handsets, dictate interfaces and allege theft. It wound up to be a vicious, protracted battle fought with such ferocity that at one point, the judge held up an iPad and a Galaxy Tab above her head for a Samsung attorney to tell them apart. He couldn’t.

    Yes Samsung’s devices changed their profile radically in the wake of the iPhone because they had to compete with an entirely new animal. The iPhone fired everyone’s imagination when it came out and continues to inspire designs even today, but that’s perfectly alright; they’re inspired, not ripped off. Samsung’s Galaxy line is their interpretation of the smartphone, just like the iPhone is Apple’s. If Apple wants to blur the line between inspiration and copying, well I am afraid, they themselves owe the court an explanation for a few new iOS 7 features then.

    Samsung has already paid Apple more than a billion dollars in ‘damages’ and if Apple has their way, Samsung will have to shell out a couple more billions. Notwithstanding the steady courtroom, jibes, Apple still continues to ink deals with Samsung in the boardroom. Irony abounds!

    Still, Samsung has its own problems, and they’re not about the megapixels in their next camera.

    People inside Samsung describe a state of crisis, abetted by a persistent fear that the company might lose everything at any moment. There are no breaks to celebrate wins; there’s only what’s next. The workplace is run by martinets. It’s normal to see employees bow to their superiors. With little power vested in small teams, innovation entails going through a labyrinthine hierarchy to get approvals, and yet being coerced into rushing a product to the market, even if it’s not truly first-rate, just like the unwieldy Galaxy Gear.

    Never known for producing top-tier applications, Samsung has lately been panned for choking phones with slipshod apps that are, at best, show boats. Truly well designed, practical interfaces have been regular fair in organizations like Apple and Google. Samsung though is either yet to hire those developers or give them the laissez-faire to write elegant code. While an iPhone 5s or a Nexus 5 will never be manufactured ingenuously in Apple or Google, their operating system is coded to the T by the Americans. It’s an open secret the installed software creates experiences; hardware is just a vessel to host it. Samsung puts together probably the best hardware available but the same can’t be said for the software they push. Looking into the crystal ball, they want to ship devices with a home-grown operating system, creating a seamless experience for the user and maybe forgoing Google’s Android in time. It is a far-fetched idea, one that is still a reverie, but first Bada and now Tizen are determined to get a foot in the door.

    One of the people behind Samsung’s new-fangled focus is David Eun, a Korean-American executive who has worked at AOL and Google. In a stroke of genius, he suggested that some top Samsung executives go round Silicon Valley and explore software’s polestar.

    The road trip proved illuminating. Samsung decided a base in Silicon Valley was in order if it truly wanted to compete with software giants.

    Lee Kun-hee did not take long to execute perhaps his most ambitious move yet; trying to bring a bit of the Silicon Valley culture to Samsung. A 10-story building geared towards research, sprouting in the tony San Jose, a bold accelerator program and a little startup ethos are signs of things to come. They welcome the fading puritanism in the Korean powerhouse, and underpins that Samsung could really be onto what they’ve painted on a wall in their upcoming 1.1 million square feet office — “The Next Big Thing.”

    “OK Google!”

    This company has a canny knack of knowing where you are, what you’re about to do next, when you leave for that meeting and for the club later in the evening.

    It’s extraordinary that a service which occupies so much mind share uses a an absolutely stark homepage. What seems like brilliant design now was actually born out of its creator’s thirst for express searches and some ineptitude at HTML. Early tests on the website had users gawking at their screens, waiting for the page to load, which it already had, seconds ago. Simplicity is a feature and limited knowledge, a latent advantage.

    What this spawned, over the next few years, was the true democratization of the Internet. As with most things, we did not know we needed better search before it became indispensable. We did not know that threaded conversations were better than disjointed emails. We wished for, but never knew that cars might seriously be driven by computers in a not so distant future.

    This is Google. By their own proclamation, they do “cool stuff that matters” and prefer not being evil, a claim validated when they rent goats instead of lawn mowers to trim weed at the Googleplex, in an activity they say is both “cute” and “low-carbon.”

    It might not be best product possible when Google releases it, but they will iterate and hone it so quickly that version 1.0 would soon become a relic. The sheer speed and tenacity with which Google moves to augment functionalities and simplify interfaces is a study in itself. Every now and then, when you open Gmail, YouTube or Search itself, a revised look or a fresh feature appears, dissolves without a trace and cumulatively improves the quality of the service. Gmail was infact famously kept in beta even after it had been widely adopted. Chrome too, has quietly been through thirty-four iterations. Its innards have been tweaked and fine-tuned for an experience which Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox aren’t capable of, despite a huge head start.

    With Google, change is constant and happens fast; within two years Android has gone from clunky to elegant, Maps have been redesigned from the ground up, Drive, with peerless pricing has truly arrived, and good old search just keeps getting smarter.

    Continuous improvement is precisely what separates the companies that stay relevant from those which don’t. There’s hardly any room for slack in organizations which are truly committed to their cause. People ask, ‘Why fix it if it isn’t broken?’ To which I say, ‘Why wait for it to break?’ Why can’t we honestly assess ourselves and work on our weaknesses? Didn’t we learn that prevention is better than cure?

    Design — changing it before it breaks

    Traditionally, Google was never known for excellent software or hardware design. That honour was always Apple’s to enjoy. The summer of 2011 however, was going to wreck the status quo. Within a week of taking over as CEO, Larry Page got together the people in command and presented a vision of a revamped Google which is so delightful that searching for something seemed more like doing magic than using technology, one where all apps look consistent and speak the same design language. He called it “One Beautiful Google.” They did not appoint a Jony Ive. Instead, they gave free rein to design leads and their teams to collaborate and concoct what they feel would appeal to the user. There were no design ‘standards’ to conform to. There was just an appeal — to make it great.

    Google’s designers employed an enduring design trend called the card. These little white boxes of information are designed to serve up nuggets of information, display items of importance and strip away distracting gradients. Carrying neat typography and sharp icons, cards soon became a dominant design motif and made their way to Google+, Google Now and even Google Glass.

    Always strutting its data-driven efforts, Google has been known to examine traffic logs to find out which of its 41 shades of blue garner the most clicks on the search results page. A rather progressive analysis of user data was carried out to design Gmail’s new compose window which was going to sit in a corner instead of overlaying the inbox view. Designers burrowed into logs to grasp the average length of sentences and arrive at the right size of the window. They also realized that most people never used to format text, so they hid all those buttons for formatting inside one single button. Neat.

    That Google really empowered its designers to create something new came to the fore during the inception of the intelligent mobile assistant Google Now. The key technologies for accomplishing this were well in place. What wasn’t, was a way to articulate the reams of dynamic information. Here for the first time in Google’s history, designers determined how a product would work. Teams from search, mapping and the likes worked together, prototyped and polished what turned out to be a truly remarkable interface for providing answers when you need them.

    Google’s approach to beautiful design is a company-wide thrust which is also rubbing off on Android and Chrome OS. The Chromebook Pixel is a another shining example of stellar industrial design with a price to match. The immensely popular Nexus family of devices on the other hand, is proof that good-looking, cutting edge devices can be sold at very attractive prices.

    The design revolution at Google is real. There was never a better time to be a designer at Google.

    Android — it came, it saw, it conquered

    The world’s most used mobile operating system, loved by millions and the sole reason why a certain fruit company is bleeding. When Larry Page and Sergey Brin set out to acquire Android, Eric Schmidt wasn’t even in the know. Andy Rubin sold it off at a price so low that it has never been revealed.

    It was one of those acquisitions which Google makes every week and would have probably gone unnoticed had it not made it big. The earliest version of Android was an experiment, a callow project, whose potential no one fully understood. HTC Hero, the first Android powered smartphone looked exactly like one of those devices from the time which stood up to the mighty iPhone only to be humiliated. Only a few sagacious minds said that Android could at least make a mark if not a crater. What Android did- created a crater, invited everyone to contribute to the party and presented free desserts to the rest of the world. Android advanced at breakneck speed, its features multiplying with every release and optimizations coming in thick and fast. Geeks loved its openness, Symbian users went gaga over the fluidity, iPhone users were hard to convert, but secretly admired the ability to customize a phone. Google knew it needed a Herculean effort to match the eloquence of iOS, let alone surpass it. Eventually, Android dethroned iOS in spectacular manner. The fledgling software, came of age; from a frail 1.5 Cupcake to the now mature 4.4.2 KitKat, and the difference between the two is like night and day.

    Yes, the fragmentation issue is unsettling. It hurt the Android of yore terribly. Moving forward, a bit more benevolence from device manufacturers in issuing timely updates has greatly mellowed the din against the biggest F word for Android. Moreover, the latest version of Android is designed to run smoothly even on lower-end devices, bolstering its endeavor to have everyone on the same page and ease development.

    Today Android represents the wide gamut of opportunities present in gadgets that had long been accepted as being far removed from computing. With Android Wear, Google is making a serious foray into wearable computers. Moto 360, running on Wear, looks like someone has finally cracked the smartwatch after several failed attempts. Expect to be notified of heavy traffic, unaccomplished fitness goals or cab reservations at a flick of the wrist. It won’t take long to erect a sizable app selection for wearable tech given Google’s affinity for open-source development. More importantly, unlike with Android, Google wouldn’t have to work its tail off to stay ahead of the curve; it just created the curve. Android Wear gives it a real shot at transforming more electric gadgets into electronic ones.

    What Google has created from Android is unmatched. They have shaped a malleable operating system which is free for all and can be installed on everything from refrigerators to game consoles. Everything is tied into one giant ecosystem and controlled from simple gestures or voice commands. That is one big inroad into obtaining the keys to the future.

    Having their cake and eating it too

    While Google strives to sharpen existing products, it never loses the foresight to work on some completely offbeat projects which might have no connection with their current line of businesses. Called ‘moonshot’ projects by Page and conceived at the clandestine Google X Labs, this is where Google aims to generate truly disruptive ideas. Google Glass, driver-less cars, robots and internet delivery via balloons are dogged about creating reality from fiction. They are harbingers of tomorrow. Thermostats, drones, watches — seemingly humble devices are being thrown into the web of boundless power. They are a peek into the future — crazy ideas which could be called brilliant inventions in hindsight. As Internet companies like Amazon and Google start infiltrating markets with tangible products, it is becoming clear that they want to interact with customers at a more personal level. This isn’t just organizing information and making it easily accessible, it’s much more.

    When the air conditioners and ovens in our households finally start talking to our mobile devices, it wouldn’t be a battle for supremacy between a Hitachi or a Siemens but instead between companies whose customers are connected to the Internet. It is an opportunity for anyone to grab, yet very few tech companies seem genuinely interested. Imagine asking your self-driven car to open the door to your house, ignite the fireplace, set off ambient lighting and park itself in the garage when you return home from a busy day at work. Sounds like a ton of convenience, but in Google’s world, we’re barely scratching the surface of technological dexterity.

    Google knows when to acquire a company and when to retire an existing service. The Nest acquisition was perfectly timed. Motorola’s acquisition did not exactly turn out to be a money-spinner, but it did give them rights to an enviable dossier of patents which won’t be leaving their hands even after Lenovo overtakes Motorola. Likewise, it is swift when it comes to shutting down services which never really took off or are no longer relevant, allowing them to focus on stuff that really matters.

    For a company whose revenues have grown multiple folds on the back of targeted advertising across all its services, it is but natural that at some point, these had to begin feeling intrusive. The adage goes ‘If you’re not paying for a product, you are the product being sold’. Truth is, ads have been here since before the dawn of electronic media and are here to stay. Commercial breaks have been fed to us since time immemorial. Brands pay millions every year for a few seconds of presence at the Superbowl. The only difference between online and offline advertising is that the former can be made relevant to each user. Therein, lies the key to making ads likable. An example — if a search for a ‘Blue striped polo’ throws up sponsored results from e-commerce websites where I have a history of making purchases and am inclined to again, ads are helping me out and I am all in. However, if the sponsored results are sprinkled with bleak, obscure websites which I’ve never heard of and which can’t guarantee good service, the chorus against advertising will just get shriller. Tailor ads to really be helpful, make them more personal and meaningful, and attitudes will change.

    At the moment, Google is hard at work to make our lives easier, more connected and rather enjoyable. This has always been a company with a proclivity towards the human touch to keep its customers smiling. This becomes evident with those clever easter eggs, well-timed doodles for very occasion and impassioned product videos; the one which tells the story of a reunion of two childhood friends separated during the partition of India and Pakistan really warms the cockles of the heart.

    There are many things which sets Google apart from its contemporaries. Beneath it’s facade of a crusading Silicon Valley giant, it has got happy (and well-fed) employees which make it happen. It fosters innovation and has been continuously rated as one of the best places to work for. Despite an enviable suite of services Google is more than just a sum of its parts. It understands the power in people and their potential impact on technology like no one else.

    It is often said that on the Internet, nothing is too big. Everything eventually crumbles and makes way for new order. But what if one held the keys to the future and the resources to start working on it today. That is Google, and the future belongs to them.

    Mudit is an engineer, analyst and writer. Register for the soon to be launched ProsePot.com

  • Facebook to roll out Nearby Friends option for iOS, Android apps
    Facebook has announced an upcoming feature for its iOS and Android apps, Nearby Friends. The function will notify users when friends are within a certain radius, giving a chance to meet up. For security purposes the feature will be off by default, only work if both parties have it enabled, and allow restricting notifications to specific groups — close friends, for example, or a custom list.



  • One In Three Americans Think We'll Develop Space Colonies And More By 2064
    What will the world be like in 2064?

    Just imagine: Will we have robot caregivers, like in the freaky sci-fi flick “I, Robot?” Will we be able to teleport using a transporter just like on the TV show “Star Trek?”

    Those may be things only seen in Hollywood productions… for now. Many Americans think they will be a part of our future in mere decades, according to a new Pew Research Center study.

    Story continues below.

    scientists-control-the-weather

    space-colonization

    scientists-develop-teleportation-future

    time-machine-interest

    For the study, 1,001 men and women across the U.S. were asked over the phone whether five different scientific advancements will come about in the next 50 years — lab-grown organs; teleportation; computers that can create art just like human artists; space colonies; and human-controlled weather. Which advancement are Americans most optimistic about, and which was deemed the most unrealistic? Just check out the study results:

    Percent of U.S. adults who feel that the following will/won’t happen in the next 50 years

    “Most Americans envision huge scientific developments in the foreseeable future—even if they themselves might not want to be the first on their block to own a driverless car or go to the store to buy meat that was grown in a lab,” study author Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, said in a written statement. “And when asked to envision a future of their own, many jump immediately to big, paradigm-shifting notions straight from the world of science fiction.”

    Attitudes toward near-term changes

    Most Americans surveyed in the study said that these scientific developments would be a good thing. Around 59 percent said they were optimistic that coming technological and scientific changes will make life in the future better. But one in three said that these changes will lead to a future in which people are worse off than they are now… Yikes.

    What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

  • Disruption of Privacy: Ladar Levison and Lavabit
    Ladar Levison has lost in the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. We’ve all read Orwell, and casually discussed the notion of “Big Brother,” but there are some people that have experienced the disruption of privacy firsthand. Friday at 5 p.m. is usually a great time of day. It’s the end of the week. Maybe you cut out of work early to get a start on the weekend. Ladar Levison was doing just that — checking his email before heading out for the evening — when the knock came. When Levison opened the door, he found two FBI agents.

    In our latest episode for A TOTAL DISRUPTION, we sit down with Levison, founder of Lavabit, an encrypted email service that he created to keep emails completely private and protected. If you haven’t heard of Lavabit or Levison, then you’ve certainly heard of Lavabit’s most famous user — Edward Snowden. America’s notorious whistleblower used Lavabit to invite reporters to Moscow, which caught the attention of the Feds. Within six weeks, Levison, who’d been working on Lavabit for nearly a decade, shut the service down because the American Government wanted him to hand over the SSL key — essentially pulling the veil back on his 400,000 customers’ data.

    We first met Ladar on his way to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to challenge a decision that forced him to turn over the SSL key. Levison believes the demand to turn over encryption keys exceeds the government’s authority, no matter what their so-called “trap and trace” statutes say. Levison has argued the government placed an incredible burden on his business by forcing him to hand over the SSL encryption keys. Levison closed down Lavabit shortly after turning them over and has argued the government “violated his fourth amendment right prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures.” Levison’s appeal was rejected, which means he will be held in contempt of court. At this point, it’s unlikely the broader legal issues he was fighting against and rights he was fighting for will be resolved.

    When Levison expressed concern over the scope of the warrant, they replied, “Trust us. We’re the American government.” A political science major, Levison knows well the full history of this country and the intentions of its founders: “Our constitution was designed to protect the people from its leaders.” This made Levison very apprehensive about his role. As he states firmly, he would become “complicit in crimes against the American People.”

    “They wanted to collect content, they wanted to collect passwords, presumably so that they could decrypt the messages that had already been stored on the servers, and that they were going to install a device on my network to do this,” Levison recalls. When Levison relayed to them that all of the information would be useless without the SSL key, which would decrypt the messages, they told him he would have to hand that over too.

    Levison, a proud American who comes from a long line of small business owners, felt turning over the key would be a betrayal to his customers. “I really understood that your email address was at the heart of your online identity, and if it became compromised, then anything that was linked to it could also become compromised,” Levison says. He created Lavabit specifically to protect people’s privacy: “I used my own service, and therefore I created one that I was comfortable using, that I felt was secure enough to tie to my bank account.”

    And so he refused Uncle Sam. “If I had turned over these SSL keys to the FBI, from a security perspective it would have been game over,” he says. Levison took a principled stance: “[the question is] whether or not the government has the right to access everyone’s communications without any kind of oversight or any kind of control.” The magistrate judge sided with the government, and Levison was forced to turn over the key. He obliged by printing out the code across hundreds of pages, knowing full well it would take the FBI weeks to sort through the information and manually enter the code on there end, which would allow him time to safely transfer all of the data to a more secure location.

    “The definition of privacy [is] the ability to control what others know about you,” says Levison. Though Snowden put Levison in the crosshairs of the American government, his views on Snowden are complicated. “How do yo have a debate about mass surveillance when you have no idea whether or not mass surveillance is going on? Until recently, it was more of a fear than a reality,” says Levison.

    Levison appealed the decision, both as a concerned business owner, and because of his belief in why this country was founded. Says Levison, “Freedom is the ability to do something that somebody else disagrees with. To make a choice that somebody else wouldn’t make.” He sees far reaching implications for the government’s intervention, “The problem with disrupting our right to privacy is that at the same time we do that, we disrupt our right to free speech. And without the ability to speak freely, a democracy is no longer a democracy.” Levison certainly feels the weight of our flagging democracy today. This is a dark day for this entrepreneur, whose integrity and passion were palpable when I met with him. I imagine we’ll see even greater protection protocols from Levison with Dark Mail, as he has witnessed firsthand just how quickly our right to privacy can be obliterated.

  • Twitter Pegs the 'Awesome Meter' — Site Changes You'll Love and What They Mean
    I love Twitter! It is my favorite social media site, just the way it is, for lots of reasons. Twitter has been the single most valuable driver of my business. So, when Twitter, in their official blog, says they are going to be making massive changes over the next few weeks, I worry. Well, I have researched the changes they are proposing and have come to a conclusion: Twitter is soon going to become even more awesome.

    These changes will affect not only the aesthetics of the platform, which make it look strangely Facebook-esque, but will also offer some pretty cool added functionalities.

    First I will tell you what the changes are. Then I will tell you why each is important. Here are the changes you can expect over the coming weeks.

    New Twitter Layout

    In their April 8 announcement, Twitter stated: “Moment by moment, your Twitter profile shows the world who you are. Starting today, it will be even easier (and, we think, more fun) to express yourself through a new and improved web profile.”

    So, what can we expect as Twitter rolls out the new layout?

    Customizable Header: Think Facebook cover photo. Use your header to reinforce your brand message, promote your website or showcase your products.

    The recommended dimensions for this new header image are 1500px (width) x 500px (height).

    I’ll be writing in more detail about the new Twitter headers in the near future, but in the meantime here are 9 Creative Ways to Use Your Facebook Cover Photo. Since the two will become very similar, my tips in this post will apply.

    Larger Profile Photo: The new profile photo will be 400×400 pixels. This will give you significantly more space than Facebook’s 160×160 pixels.

    Pinned Tweet: Pin your most important tweet to the top of your page. This will increase the visibility of key, business-driving (products, services, events, etc.) tweets.

    Best Tweets: Tweets with the most engagement will appear slightly larger so you can see the most popular tweets at a glance.

    Filtered Tweets: You can now sort tweets by: Tweets, tweets with photos/videos, and tweets with replies.

    3-Column Layout: The left-hand column will display profile info like name, website URL, date you joined Twitter (new) and photos and videos you’ve tweeted (new); the middle column will display your tweets; and the right-hand column will include follow suggestions and trends.

    It also appears profiles may include a ‘tweet to’ button that will allow you to quickly @ mention the user (the Twitter profile used an example on the Twitter blog shows this feature, however live examples do not appear to include it).

    It’s important to note that at least for now, these changes will be web-only; meaning when you access Twitter from your mobile device, you’ll see the old, standard layout.

    These changes haven’t yet been implemented for the general public, but you can expect to see your profile page change over to the new layout in the coming weeks.

    But wait! There’s more! Real-Time Notifications Coming.

    In addition to the redesign, Twitter will also be implementing real-time notifications when someone engages with your tweets. This means then when you’re using the Twitter web interface you’ll see live notifications when someone replies, favorites or retweets your tweets, or when they direct message or follow you.

    You’ll also have the ability to directly respond to these actions right from within the notification box (see below).

    To customize your real-time notification settings, simply go to ‘Settings’ and then ‘Web notifications’. Here you can select whether you’d like to be notified when:

    • Your tweets are retweeted
    • Your tweets are favorited
    • Your tweets get a reply
    • You’re mentioned in a tweet
    • You’re followed by someone new
    • You’re sent a direct message.

    Why are real-time notifications important? They act as an immediate filter and shorten the communication cycle that hopefully leads to some business supporting result. Customer service issues get solved quicker and business opportunities get moved down the pipeline faster.

    All in all, I’m excited about these changes, as I believe they’ll ultimately lead to more effective branding, increased engagement, and a more efficient use of time spent on the platform. I’ll write more about how to make the best use of these new features in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

    What do you think of these changes? Do you think they’ll make a significant impact on how we use Twitter? Share with us below!

  • Yes, Netflix And Hulu Are Starting To Kill Cable
    Cable companies, you’ve been put on notice.

    Cord cutting — ditching your steep monthly cable or satellite bill and instead watching video online — is on the rise, according to a new report from Experian Marketing Services.

    In fact, some young adults may never even pay for cable TV in their lifetimes.

    The percentage of cord-cutters, which Experian considers people with high-speed Internet who’ve either never subscribed to or stopped subscribing to cable or satellite, has risen by 44 percent in just three years.

    In 2013, 6.5 percent of households in the U.S. had cut the cord, Experian found, up from 4.5 percent in 2010.

    cable companies hulu netflix

    What’s more interesting, though, is that number goes way up for households that use Netflix or Hulu, the subscription services that stream movies and TV shows online. Nearly a fifth of Americans who use Netflix or Hulu don’t subscribe to cable TV.

    And that number gets even higher if you look at a younger segment of the population. Almost a quarter of young adults between 18 and 34 who subscribe to Netflix or Hulu don’t pay for TV, Experian found.

    And who can blame them? TV is pricey. The average cable TV bill, not including fees, promotions or taxes, has increased by a whopping 97 percent over the past 14 years, according to the media research firm SNL Kagan. That bill could reach a whopping $200 per month by 2020, one study found.

    That could spell trouble for cable companies like Comcast and Charter down the line.

    “The young millennials who are just getting started on their own may never pay for television,” said John Fetto, a senior analyst at Experian Marketing Services. “Pay TV is definitely declining.”

    Fetto said that cable companies, which of course are often also the gatekeepers to the Internet, will have to get more creative with their billing to make up for the revenue lost by people who are cutting the cord.

    So-called “data caps” — which limit the amount of data a person can download each month before they’re charged overage fees — are already in place in more than 60 percent of homes in the U.S., according to GigaOm.

    We may also see more tiered pricing models, which would charge more to people who stream more, Fetto said.

    (H/T Business Insider)

  • Facebook Will Now Tell Your 'Friends' When You Are Nearby
    Facebook has always been creepy. But now it’s allowing you to be creepy, too!

    The site started rolling out an “optional” new mobile feature Thursday called Nearby Friends, which alerts you when your friends are nearby (and vice versa.) But if you fear weirdos, don’t worry: The feature will only load if you opt-in and turn it on.

    Facebook also lets you decide which of your friends can view your location, and those friends can only do so if they allow you to view them too.

    The feature was announced in a blog post by Facebook Product Manager Andrea Vaccari. Here’s what the feature looks like, according to the post:

    facebook nearby friends

    You can use Nearby Friends however you want. Want to only be visible to certain groups (like “family” or “close friends”) or specific friends? That’s cool. Want to be visible to your entire friends list? That’s fine too. Want to turn it off completely? Chill.

    facebook nearby friends

    You can also share your specific location with someone for a short time period, setting it so your friend can only see your location for an hour or two. For example, say you’re meeting up with a friend in a big park. You can share your location with your friend via Facebook and he or she will be able to find you on a map, like so:

    facebook nearby friends

    Since Facebook is notorious for having confusing privacy settings, and because everyone has Facebook “friends” who really aren’t friends at all, this new feature might raise some eyebrows. So here’s to hoping Nearby Friends will be more straightforward than, say, everything else about the site.

  • TDK: Built to Record Every Lifestyle
    I recently sat down to chat with TDK Corp executive director, Toshihide (“Toshi”) Hokari about the evolution of this blast from the past company. TDK Corp started in Japan as TDK Electronics in 1935 as a manufacturer of cassette tapes and later videotapes, CD-R’s, and an extensive collection of recording products. TDK became the largest shareholder in the audio and recording industry. Over the last couple decades while cassettes have disappeared from the market, TDK took a break. After being acquired in 2007 by Imation, an American technology corporation, TDK is back with new gadgets and a brand personality built for the 21st century.

    Toshi had joined Imation to do product development and saw first-hand the evolution of TDK. His expertise in primary market research helped drive decisions about manufacturing and design of speakers, which are now some of TDK’s hottest products. His findings put Toshi and TDK on the path to be one of the first companies to dapple in creating waterproof speakers. Consumers want their technology to fit their lives, says Toshi, which is why TDK has branded its products as supporting an active lifestyle. Durability, high quality sound, and mobile convenience are what TDK strives for in its products — and these attributes are expanding its consumer audience to a younger generation.

    Fitting any lifestyle and preserving memories are what the updated TDK brand stands for. TDK Life on Record products focus on performance, portability, and usability. Toshi credits the dynamic, collaborative, and multi-perspective culture of TDK for the success of their new brand. With the success of their new recordable media, headphones and audio products, TDK’s evolution is a great comeback story. Don’t think the company has forgotten its humble roots, though.

    Toshi has an emotional investment in all of the products that are being developed. However, his favorite is the original wireless speaker, the one that started it all for TDK’s new success: the A33. “It’s the foundation of our products – it’s the root. Without that root, we can’t do anything. If all I have are leaves and branches, we can’t grow anything. But with the root, we can grow.” said Toshi.

    2014-04-16-Photo_TDKTREKFamilyShot_A12_A26_A360.jpg

  • Newfound Earth-Like Planet, Kepler-186f, Is 'Best Case' For Hosting Life, Astronomers Say
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.

    The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system. “This is the best case for a habitable planet yet found. The results are absolutely rock solid,” University of California, Berkeley astronomer Geoff Marcy, who had no role in the discovery, said in an email.

    The planet was detected by NASA’s orbiting Kepler telescope, which studies the heavens for subtle changes in brightness that indicate an orbiting planet is crossing in front of a star. From those changes, scientists can calculate a planet’s size and make certain inferences about its makeup.

    The newfound object, dubbed Kepler-186f, circles a red dwarf star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. A light-year is almost 6 trillion miles.

    The planet is about 10 percent larger than Earth and may very well have liquid water — a key ingredient for life — on its surface, scientists said. That is because it resides at the outer edge of the habitable temperature zone around its star — the sweet spot where lakes, rivers or oceans can exist without freezing solid or boiling away.

    The find “is special because we already know that a planet of this size and in the habitable zone is capable of supporting life as we know it,” lead researcher Elisa Quintana of NASA’s Ames Research Center said at a news conference.

    The discovery was detailed in Friday’s issue of the journal Science. It was based on observations that were made before the Kepler telescope was crippled by a mechanical failure last year.

    The planet probably basks in an orange-red glow from its star and is most likely cooler than Earth, with an average temperature slightly above freezing, “similar to dawn or dusk on a spring day,” Marcy said.

    Quintana said she considers the planet to be more of an “Earth cousin” than a twin because it circles a star that is smaller and dimmer than our sun. While Earth revolves around the sun in 365 days, this planet completes an orbit of its star every 130 days.

    Scientists cannot say for certain whether it has an atmosphere, but if it does, it probably contains a lot of carbon dioxide, outside experts said.

    “Don’t take off your breathing mask if you ever land there,” said Lisa Kaltenegger, a Harvard and Max Planck Institute astronomer who had no connection to the research.

    Despite the differences, “now we can point to a star and know that there really is a planet very similar to the Earth, at least in size and temperature,” Harvard scientist David Charbonneau, who was not part of the team, said in an email.

    If the planet is habitable, photosynthesis may be possible, said astronomer Victoria Meadows of the University of Washington, Seattle.

    “There are Earth plants that would be quite happy with that,” she said.

    Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has confirmed 961 planets, but only a few dozen are in the habitable zone. Most are giant gas balls like Jupiter and Saturn, and not ideal places for life. Scientists in recent years have also found planets slightly larger than Earth in the Goldilocks zone called “super Earths,” but it is unclear if they are rocky.

    The latest discovery is the closest in size to Earth than any other known world in the habitable region.

    Astronomers may never know for certain whether Kepler-186f can sustain life. The planet is too far away even for next-generation space telescopes like NASA’s James Webb, set for launch in 2018, to study it in detail.

    NASA has not yet decided whether to keep using the crippled Kepler telescope on a scaled-back basis. While the instrument may never detect another planet, scientists have a backlog of observations to wade through.

    ___

    AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.

    ___

    Follow Alicia Chang at http://twitter.com/SciWriAlicia

  • This GIF Will Make You Never Text While Driving Again
    Can’t wait to get home to your loved one so you can give him or her a squeeze? If you’re the one behind the wheel, this is yet another reminder: Do. Not. Text. While. Driving.

    Unlike other poignant distracted driving ads, this PSA that Honda put out on YouTube shows no bloodied victims or totaled cars. Instead, this simple, flirtatious exchange is a conversation anyone can relate to.

    The message is perhaps most effective in GIF-form:

    A powerful message
    GIF made by Imgur user EndiSky.

    Honda’s ad rolled out in April as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, an effort by the National Safety Council to publicize the dangers of cell phone use while driving.

    Watch the video version of the ad here.

iPhone Application Development

iphone/ipad apps

custom iphone / ipad apps development

Android Application Development

android apps

custom android app
development

Windows Mobile Development

windows apps

windows mobile application development

Blackberry Application development

blackberry apps

Blackberry application development

follow us
follow mobile phone developers Digital Workshed on facebook
follow iPhone, iPad & android app developers Digital Workshed on twitter
connect with iOS & android developers Digital Workshed on LinkedIn