Monthly Archives: April 2014

Infowatch April – The Teks Newsletter

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hello and welcome to the inaugural edition of the Teknowledge newsletter. It would be brought out on the final working day of each month, and we will focus on updating general readers as well as our in-house mobile app developers about the going-ons in the tech world. In other words, the Teks newsletter is your monthly dose of all that you need to know!

 

Without further ado, let’s turn our attentions to the major highlights from the domain of technology that grabbed headlines in April:

 

The Apple-Samsung lawsuit

The fight between Apple Inc and Samsung over patent violations will be rolling over till next month. The $2.2 billion lawsuit has been referred for scrutiny under a California-based jury. 5 patents (each valued at around $40 million) are being disputed. As many as ten of Samsung’s flagship devices are under the scanner. Not the recently launched Galaxy S5 though.

Microsoft-Nokia deal completes

Months after the deal had been signed, the merger of Microsoft and Nokia was completed in the latter part of April. The financial reports for the first quarter of 2014 have been released, and the biggest point of note is that the figures on Microsoft Azure are on an upward trend. Satya Nadella would take heart from the reports.

The Heartbleed panic

It was panic station in the cyber world, as reports of the Heartbleed bug became public. It exposed the vulnerabilities of sites using OpenSSL technology, and millions of people had to change their mail/social media/e-banking and other passwords. What’s more – it was revealed that the bug stemmed from a programming error committed by Robin Seggelmann, way back in 2011!

Twitter continues to struggle

Microblogging site Twitter is not being able to make much headway in its fight to match up to Facebook’s growing reach. During this quarter, Twitter suffered a record drop in stock prices (over 10%) to touch $38.05 – a figure that’s even lower than it’s IPO level. Dick Costolo, the CEO, is hopeful that the upcoming redesigns on the Twitter platform would lead to change of fortunes.

Nokia before Apple in the tablet market?

At least that’s what David Cord, a noted journalist and a former employee of Nokia, indicates in his book – ‘The Decline and Fall of Nokia’. In 2001 (almost 9 years before the Apple iPad was launched) – Nokia had created the prototype for a Symbian-powered tablet, named Nokia 510 Web. Production was halted midway though, and at present, about 130 pieces of the device remain.

Android consolidates its stranglehold in the global tablet markets

Staying on the topic of tablets, it’s clear that Google Android is surging way ahead of Apple in this sector. During the last quarter, while the market share of Android tablets reached 65.8% (a jump of nearly 13%), that of the iPad was a disappointing 28.4% (a 16% drop). Even Windows tablets registered a rise in sales.

IPL comes on Nokia

It’s the IPL season – and professional mobile app development experts have made a custom app for Nokia Lumia and Nokia X handsets, for seamless live streaming of the matches. This cutting-edge mobile TV app has been named nexGTv (available for download at the Windows Store). Apart from free match coverage, cricket fans can catch highlights packages on the app as well.

Apple and Google go ‘Green’

April 22 was Earth Day, and both Apple and Google showed that they care for environmental wellness – via separate campaigns. Tim Cook’s company came up with the ‘Better’ campaign, focused to highlight how Apple products are instrumental in reducing the level of carbon footprints. Google, on the other hand, continued with its good work with ‘Nest’ – the thermostat it had acquired for a whopping $3.2 billion in January.

Statutory warning against Internet Explorer

With Chrome and Firefox being the preferred web browsers of most people, the number of regular Internet Explorer (IE) users have steadily dwindled. In April, the American government issued an official warning – stating that continued usage of IE could easily lead to hack attacks. This was particularly true for those using Internet Explorer on Windows XP, since the latter is no longer being maintained by Microsoft.

Founder of VKontakte refuses to return to Russia

Do you know who Pavel Durov is? The 29-year old is the founder of VKontakte – the most popular social networking site in Russia – and is often referred to as the ‘Russian Zuckerberg’. At present he is not in his home country, and has ruled out a return until his 7-point corruption removal demands are met. Incidentally, the user-base of VKontakte is nearly double of that of Facebook in Russia!

Google implements time-travel feature in Maps

Executives from almost every mobile apps company agree that Google Maps are way better than Apple Maps – and the former has now become more innovative than ever. Images of places, localities and even select neighborhoods – from as far back as 2007 – can be viewed on Google Maps. Night snaps, and pictures from different seasons are also available.

Finally, a battery with a really long life

The professional research experts at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (affiliated to the Department of Energy, US) have started working on a battery – that would reportedly last for over 10 years (you read that right!) without requiring a recharge. Prototypes of this CFx battery are already ready, although production and testing would take some time.

New smartphones continue to hit the markets

The launch of HTC Desire 816, Samsung Galaxy Beam 2 and Micromax Canvas Doodle 3 might have grabbed the most eyeballs in April – but they were far from being the only smartphone models to be released in April. We had the Spice Smart Flo Glam, the Lenovo 860, the Samsung Galaxy 3 Neo (promoted as ‘your best mate’), the Asus Zenfone 4/5/6, the Nokia Lumia 630/635/930, and a host of others. It remains to be seen which ones among these manages to sustain in the mobile markets.

Nexus 5 holds sway in India

With a device share of over 11.5%, Google Nexus 5 has emerged as the leading Android phone in India. MOTO XT1033 and Samsung SM-N900 take up the second and third positions. Internationally, Xiami MI 3 (a Chinese mobile brand) bagged the top spot among Android handsets, with Nexus 5 present in the 6th position.

Amazing pay hike for LinkedIn CEO

Jeffrey Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, was already a man with a more-than-handsome pay package. Following the professional network’s strong showing in 2013 and early-2014, Weiner has now been offered a 42-times increase in his annual compensation (along with a cash bonus and a free iPad). His yearly pay-package now? A shade over $49 million!

Nokia targets all selfie-fans with ‘Superman’

The Nokia Superman handset, with a 4.7-inch display and 5 MP rear camera, is being touted as the very first selfie-based smartphone. Currently in the development phase, Superman is likely to be launched during the third or fourth quarter of 2014.

Yahoo aims to overtake Google in mobile search

Marissa Mayer, the Yahoo CEO, is making a strong attempt to make Yahoo the default search engine on Apple iPhones. At present, Google, on the Safari web browser, is mostly used for accessing the web by iPhone/iPad-owners – but all that can change if Mayer indeed manages to get a toehold in the mobile app markets. Remember, Apple already uses the Yahoo Stocks app.

Start Menu returns on Windows 8

Much of the flak that Windows 8 received was due to the absence of the familiar ‘Start’ menu on the home screen. A Microsoft update, expected to roll out in August, will address this issue. The ‘Start’ menu will make a comeback – in the form it is present in Windows 7.

Banking malware threat keeps Android users worried

Just as the buzz over the Heartbleed bug was dying down, news of a Trojan banking malware started doing the rounds. According to Android application developers, this fake Facebook app, once installed in mobiles – could compromise the confidentiality of account and transaction information.

Rajeev Suri takes charge of Nokia

On the 29th of April, Rajeev Suri was named as the new CEO of Nokia Corporation. The 46-year old was earlier the head of the Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) department. Suri is an MIT-alumnus, and has been working with distinction at Nokia since 1995.

 

So much for what has been going around the world of technology in April. What were we up to during this month? Let’s do a brief roundup:

 

Several new apps were launched

April was a busy month for our developers – with several new additions to our mobile app portfolio. Among the ones released this month, Melhor Oferta and Smart Cert have already garnered positive reviews and high popularity levels. Version 2.0 of our well-received Gym King app was also released.

We are now on Behance

Teknowledge on Behance

We wish to reach out to peers, clients, and experts from the field of mobile app development – and our new Behance profile is the latest step in that regard. Viewers can take a look at the creative work of our UI/UX developers – and send in their valuable feedback. With nearly 220 appreciations already, we feel that we are on the right path!

Client visit from Down Under

One of our many esteemed international clients paid us a weeklong visit in April – all the way from Australia. Apart from finetuning the details about the project he had delegated to us, he was an eager participant in our monthly birthday bash. In fact, he even offered to become the photographer, for a group snap of the Teks Family. We happily obliged!

Off-site fun

Winner of our sand-castle competition

The entire team of our mobile app company headed to Mandarmani during the first weekend of the month, for a 2-day trip. From watching the sunrise and seeing red crabs, to candid photo sessions, gorging on lip-smacking delicacies, and dance music (with a bit of belly-dancing thrown in the mix!) – the tour had it all!

 

That about sums up what April was all about, for the world of technology as well as for our company. We promise a funnier, livelier, more informative newsletter next month…

 

Till then, stay zapped with apps!

15 iPhone-Related Myths – Busted!

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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High-end mobile gadgets often spawn many thoroughly unfounded myths about them. The Apple iPhone is no exception to this. In what follows, we will shed light on the truth behind a few common misplaced beliefs about the iPhone.

It’s understandable when a person has misconceptions about a pricey, high-end gadget that (s)he does not own. Surprisingly, when it comes to mobile handsets – such myths are common even among those who have been using popular smartphone models for relatively long periods. A case in point would be the Apple iPhone – about which plenty of such baseless beliefs clout the minds of owners. We will here debunk some of these iPhone-related myths:

 

“iPhone Is The Most Popular Smartphone Model”

 

Apple would like iPhone-buyers to believe that iOS is the undisputed leader in the worldwide mobile handset markets, but the figures reveal quite the opposite story. In most countries, Android enjoys the dominant position in the smartphone sector, with hefty leads over iPhones. What’s more – the gap between Android handsets and iPhones in most of these nations is increasing over time. Apple has a very strong presence in UK, US and, to a lesser extent, China – but that’s about it.

 

“Using A Screen Protector For The iPhone Is An Absolute Must”

 

Nothing of the sort. Try scratching the Gorilla Glass screen of iPhone 5 – and the only thing you will end up with is a sharp pain in your fingernails. The iPhone screen is, on average, nearly thirty times tougher than plastic. That, in turn, makes it virtually scratch-resistant. However, iPhone app developers do recommend putting on a light screen cover – to prevent the screen from getting soiled.

 

“The Fingerprint Sensor Has Been Key For The Success Of iPhone 5”

 

Fingerprint detection is an important security feature on iPhone 5, it was hyped up to the skies before the model’s launch – but it can’t take all the credit for the success of the phone. There are cell phone contracts that Apple get into, which make the older phones no longer available in certain markets. iPhone 5 becomes the only viable option for Apple fans – and surveys have shown that buyers opt for it due to many of its other cool features, instead of only the built-in fingerprint sensor. The feature ain’t strong enough to lure customers on its own!

 

“It’s Difficult To Earn Profits By Making iPhone Apps”

 

Apple has a 30% share on all the proceeds from the downloads of mobile applications from iTunes. That, however, does not mean leading iPhone app development companies cannot make hefty profits from the app-making business. Makers of gaming apps like Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga have made quite a fortune, even after paying Apple its share.

 

“The Notes App On iPhones Has A Single Font Option”

 

If you believe this, you have not explored the features of your handset properly yet. Comic Sans is the default font on the Notes app – but you can easily change it from the Settings of your device. There are several fonts to choose from – ranging from outright formal ones, to the more casual writing styles. Simply select the one that would be the most appropriate.

 

“iPhone 5C Showed That Apple Could Reach Out To the Lower-End Of The Market”

 

Hardcore Apple fanboys/girls might disagree, but iPhone 5C was nothing more than a poor concept (that too, clumsily implemented) by the company. The plastic-body, colorful phones have performed poorly in the markets till date, and most researchers have felt that it is not cheap enough either (to be the preferred choice of average users). iPhone 5C showed that Apple is not afraid to experiment, but this was an experiment gone horribly bad.

 

“iPhone Does Not Allow Printing”

 

There are plenty of applications developed by third-party mobile app companies to enable seamless printing over the wireless network. In case you are using the latest version of iOS, you will also find AirPrint – an in-built printing tool, that enables users to give print commands directly from your iPhone. The only thing that might be a problem is – there are not too many printers that are compatible with the iOS Airprint feature.

 

“Tim Cook Has Stepped In Well Into Steve Jobs’ Shoes”

 

Try telling this to Yukari Iwatani Kane (author of ‘Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs’), and you’ll face a mighty strong reaction. In general too, Cook cannot be said to have built on anything significant to Jobs’ well-laid empire – at least till date. The two major gadgets that might shape Cook’s fortunes at Apple Inc. are the iWatch and the iPhone 6 (albeit, to a lesser degree). If either of them bombs, Tim Cook is going to face further flak.

 

“Users must NEVER Touch The Antennae Of iPhone”

 

This myth stems from some reports about reception-loss that came in from early iPhone 4-users. Whenever the antennae area – near the lower left side of the device was touched – there were network connectivity problems. However, Apple has fixed this issue quite some time ago. No longer do you have to be careful about how you hold your iPhone – it would remain properly functional at all times!

 

“iPhone Is Being Ably Backed Up By iPad In Terms Of Sales”

 

This used to be the case, but there have been telltale signs during the past few quarters that people’s interest in the Apple iPad is steadily waning. Last quarter, the sale of iPad dropped by over 16% compared to the corresponding period last year – while iPhone sales shot up by nearly 19%. It’s won’t be wrong to state that the iPad is no longer one of the most important money-earners for Apple. The company has become rather too dependent on the iPhone.

 

“Overcharging Can Permanently Damage iPhones”

 

Let alone iPhones, overcharging does not pose any risks for handsets that use lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. Once your device gets fully charged, the ‘trickle charging’ starts – which basically means, the charge automatically drops by 1%, and is made up again, in a loop. You cannot, technically, ‘overcharge’ an iPhone. So, you can keep the mobile on charge for the whole night, without worrying about it!

 

“Performing An iOS Jailbreak Is A Punishable Offence”

 

Of course Apple does not encourage buyers to do a jailbreak on their iPhones – but considering it to be a crime would be stretching the imagination too much. Leading mobile app developers highlight that, doing a jailbreak to install third-party apps does not violate any copyright regulations, and hence, cannot be a legal offence. The official warranty on the iPhone would be rendered void, and that’s the only risk you have to be prepared to face. If jailbreak had been illegal, the demand for Cydia would not have been so high!

 

“Siri For iPhone Is An Amazingly Efficient Voice Assistant”

 

This is a myth that is more common among people who do not own an iPhone. Siri, the digital voice assistant for iPhone, is not a bad application – but it’s not the most efficient either. There are language and accent-related problems, that lead Siri to misunderstand/ignore several commands. Many iPhone-users even consider Siri to be more of a distraction. Siri is supposedly witty, but for having a laugh – few people turn to their phones.

 

“Getting Apps Approved at iTunes Is A Long-Drawn, Tough Process”

 

Sure, Apple has a set of guidelines that every mobile app developer has to follow. Provided that is done, apps can get approved at iTunes within a matter of a few days. There are certain naming conventions, apps have to be pre-tested for bugs, and there should not be any sexual connotation in the name/features of the mobile applications submitted to iTunes. There are plenty of rather useless apps showcased at the store too – which got approved simply because they adhered to the guidelines.

 

“The Chief Cause Of Battery Drain In iPhones Is The Set Of Installed Apps”

 

Again, incorrect. How quickly the battery of your iPhone gets drained out of juice depends on how you use mobile apps on it – and not by the number of them installed. Most iPhone applications do not keep running in the background, which rules out probabilities of excess battery power wastage. Closing the apps that are not being used is easy too. In fact, battery drainage gets accelerated if you set up frequent push notifications for emails, repeatedly open certain apps (e.g., Facebook), and other such ways in which the applications are utilized on an iPhone.

Several of these iPhone-related myths show Apple in a more favorable light than it deserves (the market share case, for instance). Many of them lead to incorrect use of the device as well, leading to shorter life-span for the handset. If you are planning to get an iPhone anytime soon, it’s high time you stopped being shrouded by any of the above myths!

 

Apple iPad: Problems Cropping Up?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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No longer is the Apple iPad in an overwhelmingly dominant position in the international tablet market. The sales and revenue figures have tapered off, and growing discontent among users about the many glitches in the device has been the main cause for that. We will here take you through some of the problems that add to iPad owners’ woes.

Even a couple of years ago, anyone questioning the dominance of the iPad in the tablet markets worldwide would have been laughed at. Apple was enjoying amazing sales growth figures on the device (in the range of 75-80%), reviews were more than decent, and competitors like Amazon looked far off the pace. The flop show of the iPad Mini Retina has turned the tables quite a bit though – and Apple is currently not being able to sustain the earlier heady revenues on overall iPad sales. Complaints about unsatisfactory features of the Apple iPad have also become more common, particularly regarding the following issues:

 

  1. Frequent drops in wi-fi connectivity – The moment an iPad is moved from its optimal distance from its router – the wireless internet coverage on the former tends to weaken. There are cases of the connections getting terminated completely as well. You can try tapping on the Airplane Mode or simply reset the network settings, to get the device reconnected to the wireless environment (provided that the positioning of the router is correct). In certain cases, you might have to go for the Renew Lease option.
  2. Problems in getting the iPad switched on – Interesting applications are launched in large numbers every year, by iPhone/iPad app development companies every year. Users who have installed too many apps often face difficulties in turning on the device. Of course, not regularly charging the iPad would further add to the problem. Pressing the Home and Sleep buttons might bring back that Apple logo on the screen. This troubleshooting trick does not always work though, and people have to rush to a technician. This, understandably, does not please them.
  3. iPads can get overheated soon – And that’s even when they are not placed in protective cases. A malfunctioning battery and/or selection of an unnecessarily high display resolution option generally leads to this problem. There have been many instances of the device showing a brief warning and then automatically shutting down, much to the chagrin of users. Overheating is hardly ever a problem on Apple iPhones. It’s surprising why the iPad’s performance is not equally good in this regard.
  4. Appearance of ‘ghost applications’ – Nopes, iPads are not susceptible to attacks from the supernatural – but ‘ghost apps’ appear pretty regularly on them. People who often sync their devices over non-secure wireless networks are most likely to face this issue. A lot of apps – which have never been downloaded by a particular user – would appear on the home screen of his/her iPad. Their icons are faded, and tapping on them has no effects whatsoever. The only solution is to connect the device to iTunes, and delete these ‘ghost apps’. In other words, extra hassles!
  5. Abrupt screen freezes – All iPad-users have faced the problem of frozen screens – but for some, the problem simply keeps resurfacing too frequently. If you are in the habit of downloading and installing non-verified applications from any obscure mobile apps company, that can be the prime cause for such screen freezes. You need to restart/reset the iPad, look for the offending app, and permanently get rid of it (and not keep it running in the background!). According to many reports, this does not get the iPad back up though – and doing a complete System Restore remains the only other option.
  6. Performing data restore is a pain – Talking about system restores, we should highlight that it is not as easy a task as it might seem at first. Reports of the system restore process stalling midway (inexplicably) is far from being uncommon. Many users often complain that doing a data backup restore over a wireless network takes a frustratingly long time. Most of these problems are faced by users looking to restore data from iCloud. Switching over to iTunes and/or restarting the router might be a temporary remedy. Chances are high that the internal settings of the iPad have become damaged though.
  7. Stop-start charging – Apple iPads come with adapter cables for charging – but theoretically, you should be able to charge it by connecting the device with a Mac computer too. In fact, mobile app development experts recommend the latter process for iPod Touch as well as iPhones too. In truth though, there have been plenty of instances when iPads refuse to start getting charged (or, the charging stops after a few minutes) – when they have been connected to a Mac. This occurs even when the Mac in question is of the latest version. The battery life of the iPad is nothing to make a song and dance about – and if charging it becomes a worry, users can’t be held at fault for feeling disgruntled.
  8. Where is the iPad on iTunes? – A question that quite a few henpecked iPad-users have had to wonder about, in the recent past. Contrary to general belief, just deleting and reinstalling iTunes on the computer is not a sureshot solution to the issue. The problem might crop up if you have not opted for the updated version of iTunes, or (more seriously) there is something wrong in the setup files of your device. In case this occurs only because a port or a cable is faulty, you can consider yourself fortunate!
  9. Yellowish shades on the display screen – This is a problem exclusively for owners of the iPad Air – if we go by the complaints. Most users say that the color on their device screen is not uniform – with the left side often appearing more yellow than the right panel. Blackened lines can appear at or near the edges of the screen too, within weeks of the purchase. If you are indeed facing such problems, take the problematic device to an Apple dealer as soon as possible. It’s a production defect, and you cannot repair it manually.
  10. The app store icon is no longer visible – A shocker for iPad-addicts, and a potential source of business loss for iOS app developers as well! While doing a search using Spotlight generally helps users locate the sought-after icon, it might be necessary to navigate to the ‘Restrictions’ tab (under ‘General’), and switch on the ‘Installing apps’ option. There might well be a broken feature/bug in the iPad’s sync settings. A System Restore (from the last known good backup) should help. Make sure that you do not have too many apps on your iPad – locating the App Store icon in a crowd of other icons might be tricky!
  11. Drops in network coverage – We are here not talking about remote places, where getting network connectivity is practically impossible on any mobile device. It might well be that there is full cellular coverage on your handset, while the iPad keeps happily ‘searching for network’. The problem generally stems from faulty carrier services or snags in the software/network settings. Disabling the LTE connection option might also lead to the restoration of network services. Remember, if such cellular data drops are rather common on your iPad, it is probably nearing the end of its lifetime.

While the responsiveness of the iPhone touchscreen is one of the device’s high points, the same cannot be said about the iPad’s touch features. Accessing app data and syncing data via iCloud often prove to be rather troublesome processes too. If Apple does not remove all these glitches from its next iPad model, the device might cease to be a major source of the company’s revenue. Samsung and Amazon are already in hot pursuit, and it’s not impossible for either of them to emerge as the leader in the tablet markets in the foreseeable future.

 

12 Features That The Amazon Smartphone Might Have

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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Will Amazon be launching a smartphone device later this year? Leaked images and talks in mobile forums indicate that this might indeed be the case. We here highlight some features that the Amazon phone (if it indeed makes an appearance!) would probably boast of.

It’s all in the state of rumors and conjecture till date – but there have been telltale signs that Amazon is working on a smartphone device. The mobile market across the globe is dominated by Google and Apple to a large extent – making it rather tough for any new entrant being able to garner decent sales figures. However, Amazon has already hit the bull’s eye with the Kindle Fire, the Amazon Appstore (opened in 2011) is relatively popular too – and the company can find a way to grab a niche for its handset device. If an Amazon smartphone is indeed on its way, here are some features that would probably be present on it:

  1. Amazon Dash and Amazon Fresh – Several mobile app companies have already released barcode scanning applications – but Amazon Dash promises to be a cut above all of them. It is powered by reliable, high-strength wi-fi connectivity, and is likely to be one of the key features in Amazon’s handset. Couple that with Amazon Fresh – the same-day shopping resource – and the smartphone would be just the perfect tool for quick and easy grocery marketing. No more having to stand in long queues at shops…so let’s hope these two features are present!
  2. A new rival for Siri – The feedback on Siri for iPhone have been mixed, and Amazon would probably be turning on the pressure on Apple a bit more by launching an all-new digital virtual assistant on its smartphone. It is widely tipped to share quite a few features with Siri as well as Google Now. With Cortana also set to debut on Windows Phone, the race for the best mobile voice assistant is bound to hot up.
  3. Multiple price options – This would be an ideal strategy to get an initial toehold in the already crowded mobile markets. Amazon is, in all likelihood, looking at a two-pronged pricing policy. There would be a monthly payment plan for the phone – with all the mobile apps and other services that users might wish to have. Alternatively, people will also have the option of making a one-time down payment for the Amazon smartphone, and get a set of standard (although slightly limited) features. It might turn out to be a smart strategy to tackle the pricey iPhones.
  4. Two versions of the phone to be launched? – Apple’s strategy of simultaneously releasing iPhone 5S and the lower-end iPhone 5C might not have worked – but that does not mean that the idea is, in essence, a bad one. There’s every chance that Amazon would follow suit too, with a low-end, basic-feature phone (probably with a limited period free-contract), and a higher end device, with 4.7-inch screen and a sparkling 3D display. Offering more options almost always translates to better chances of success!
  5. Visual shopping option – This is one of the likeliest features on the Amazon smartphone, as per researchers, techies, and mobile app developers. The device will come with three-dimensional visual shopping aid, enabling shoppers to get a detailed 3D view of the items that they wish to purchase. The 3D rendering would be done on a real-time basis, so that people can get an idea about the quality as well as the need of anything that catches their fancy. If you like to become a smarter shopper, the Amazon phone might turn out to be your best buddy!
  6. Compatibility with Fire TV – While there is no room for doubting the quality and sophistication of Amazon’s Fire TV set-top box, its saleability over the long-run might be an issue. To tackle this factor, the company should make its smartphone have easy integration features with Fire TV. Users would be able to seamlessly transfer video content from their handsets to the set-top box. The integration can either be via voice commands, or with the help of a remote control.
  7. Large screen size – Apple has already announced that the iPhone 6 would have a larger screen than any of its predecessors – and Amazon would, of course, need to keep up with it. The efforts would surely be to create a smartphone with a 4.7-inch display (at least for the higher-end device, as already mentioned earlier) – available at a competitive price-level. An iPhone 6-lookalike at a significantly lower price – enough reason for the initial response to be positive enough!
  8. Better gaming options – If the Amazon smartphone indeed comes with complete integration with Fire TV, streaming video games on the handset would become easier than ever before. What’s more – the upcoming mobile device would probably have integration features with the Amazon Game Studio as well. The higher-end version is likely to have a 3D interface, which would make gaming on the device a whole lot of fun. Are mobile gamers listening?
  9. Full Fire OS functionality – There have been some talks about Amazon adopting the Windows Phone operating system, since Google Android would be a direct competitor. It does not appear likely though – and it would be a wiser decision on the part of Amazon to go with the well-reviewed Fire OS for its ‘rumored-to-release-soon’ smartphone. Mobile application development experts would surely find a way to fit in the default app icons on the Fire OS display on the screen size of the phone. A robust Android support would bolster the reliability factor of Amazon’s offering.
  10. Free instant video – Full members of Amazon Prime have to shell out an annual fee of $99, to access videos of their choice. Amazon is reportedly planning to bring this high-quality instant video service for free on its very first smartphone. As per rumors, the free video content would be available on Fire TV as well (given that the latter would be integrated with the phone). If this actually happens, it could well become the biggest USP of the Amazon phone.
  11. Additional Amazon service features – Video-streaming is not the only bonus feature that Amazon can bring on its smartphone. iPhone and Android app developers are expecting that the device would have the Amazon appstore as its default online app-destination (probably with direct download options from the Play Store as well). In direct competition with iTunes would be the Amazon MP3 store. Easy access to Prime Video and Kindle ebooks would rev up the attractions of the handset further.
  12. Sleek design features – Having a large screen is not the only thing that the in-house mobile developers at Amazon need to concentrate upon. In the past, most of Amazon’s products have scored high on the usability front – which has acted as a buffer for their rather plain (read: boring) appearances. This strategy won’t work with a smartphone though – since there are already plenty of visually appealing, affordable handsets in the market. It would be reasonable to expect that the Amazon phone would be a treat for the eyes too, apart from offering good value for money.

 

To add further value to its very first smartphone, Amazon is likely to integrate its much-appreciated Kindle Free Time Unlimited feature on the device as well. Even if all of these features are present in the phone, it won’t be easy to put up a decent fight to the Google and Apple clout in the worldwide mobile sector. Much would depend on how Amazon promotes and markets its product – and whether the initial word-of-mouth publicity is good enough.

 

Looking Back: Why Did Tim Cook Fire Scott Forstall From Apple?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Tim Cook’s position as the Apple CEO was not always as unstable as it currently is. In October 2012, he had the backing and the courage to fire Scott Forstall, the celebrated designer of iOS. While the precise reasons for the sacking were never quite made public, we here try to zero in on a few probable causes.

Tim Cook ousted Scott Forstall from Apple in 2012

Apple Inc. is not enjoying the greatest of times at present. Opinions about the success about the iPhone 5 remain polarized, the iPhone 5C – the company’s attempt to get into the low-end market segment – is a certified failure, and there is still a lingering uncertainty about the launch date of iPhone 6. Company CEO Tim Cook is being severely derided from many quarters for his apparent lack of ability to drive the company forward – something that Steve Jobs did so successfully, for multiple decades. Things, in fact, have come to such a pass that if the upcoming iWatch fails, Cook might even face the sack. It’s interesting to note how the tables have turned on Tim Cook – who had, within a year of his appointment as Apple CEO, fired Scott Forstall, the man who created the iOS platform. What really transpired between Cook and Forstall, leading to the latter being axed from the company? Let’s take a look:

 

  1. Refusal to take the blame for the Apple Maps fiasco – The official Apple Maps app for iPhones is still far from being perfect – but they were unmitigated disasters at the time of their initial release. To calm down enraged buyers of iOS 6 devices, Apple had to issue a public apology letter. Forstall, however, refused to sign the letter – and the whole in-fighting was brought to light at a press conference. After that, Apple and Forstall could not coexist.
  2. Alleged lack of collaborative abilities – Tim Cook has repeatedly emphasized on seamless software-hardware collaboration as a key element for coming up with innovative mobile solutions. It was said that Forestall did not quite fit the bill in this regard. At the time of the sacking (in October 2012), Cook compared Forstall unfavorably with Jonathan Ive, Bob Mansfield and Craig Federighi – three of Apple’s all-time greats. Officially, Scott Forstall’s lack of finesse as a team-player led to his doom.
  3. Attitude problems – It’s not only the current Apple CEO who has been downsized in comparison with Steve Jobs. Similar comparisons were done between Jobs and Forstall too, with unflattering remarks being hurled towards the latter. The problem was, Forstall took all these brickbrats too personally, and grew increasingly gruff and rude-behaved with his colleagues. Ironically, Tim Cook often had to oversee Forstall’s meetings with other Apple executives. Finally, Cook decided that enough was enough!
  4. Unflinching loyalty to skeuomorphic designs – Many general iPhone-users as well as experts from mobile app companies have opined that the appearance of iOS 7 is a tad too flat – compared to its predecessors. The prime reason behind this is the departure of Scott Forstall, who, much like Jobs, believed that mobile OS designs needed to have a touch of skeuomorphism (additional design elements and visual cues) – for them to appeal to users. Tim Cook was dead against the concept, and had already expressed his desire to take Apple out from Jobs’ influence. Hence, Forestall was ousted – and the ideas of Steve Jobs received an unpleasant farewell too.
  5. Forstall’s bullying tactics were not tolerated – Make no mistake – Scott Forstall was a genius in his own right, but he was also a big bully at the Apple headquarters. His co-workers often complained about being sidelined in projects headed by him – or worse, getting publicly rebuked by him. Reportedly, Forstall had a tendency to claim credit for others’ achievements too. No one can be bigger than a $160 billion company – and the ouster of Forstall was a reminder of that fact.
  6. The Siri disappointment – Every iPhone enthusiast was intrigued when Scott Forstall initiated the concept of Siri, for iPhone 4S. It was supposed to be a flawless digital assistant, providing quick, useful and insightful answers to every question that users might have. Things, unfortunately, did not quite go according to plan – and many felt that Siri, which had been hyped up to the skies, was actually an error-ridden, limited-feature application. It might be okay for an iPhone app developer to deliver two consecutive flop applications – but Forstall messed up with two biggies like Apple Maps and Siri. The past reputation of the man was waning fast, and he was no longer considered ‘good enough’ for the company.
  7. The Cook vs Forstall fight – Sadly for Apple, there was no love lost between Tim Cook and Scott Forstall from the very outset. If anything, the appointment of Cook as the company CEO arrived as a shocker for the latter, who firmly believed that he was the most deserving candidate to take over the coveted mantle. Not surprisingly, Forstall invariably looked for opportunities to find flaws in Cook’s strategies. If Tim Cook had to work in peace without someone constantly watching over his actions, he had to make Forstall leave. That’s precisely what he did.
  8. Temper tantrums – Forstall probably believed that his efficiency and ability to ‘think-out-of-box’ would let him get away with his extreme mood swings and temper tantrums at office. Even an usually agreeable person like Jonathan Ive started to hate the sight of Forstall – and often refused to get into one-on-one discussions with him. There were differences in opinions and heated exchange of words with other senior personnel at Apple too. Now Steve Jobs got into plenty of tussles at workplace too, but his was a one-off case – and he was guiding Apple out of a mire. Forstall should not have tried to replicate Jobs in this regard – he was far more dispensable than the great man!
  9. Were iOS 5 and 6 good enough? – Talking about innovative thinking abilities, Forstall started losing a bit of that too – during the latter phases of his career at Apple. There were no big technical glitch in iOS 5 or iOS 6 – but they did not have much ‘newness’ about them either. The skeuomorphic designs looked all too familiar with those present in the earlier versions of the platform. This, in turn, opened up the opportunity for competitor firms (like Google) to step in and eat into Apple’s worldwide client-base. Apple Inc. has always prided itself over its premium tech gadgets with volumes of innovative features (think of how the first line of iPhones revolutionized the smartphone sector – and you will get an idea). Mediocrity was slightly creeping into Forstall’s concepts and designs, and that was, of course, unacceptable.
  10. Jealousy of co-workers – Scott Forstall was, once, one of the most highly regarded Apple personnel – and he had his fair share of green-eyed colleagues, all too eager to badmouth him whenever possible. To be frank, Forstall compounded this problem further, by angering practically everyone with his words and general demeanor. People started to feel (and often say it aloud) that they could manage Forstall’s projects in a much better manner than him, the feeling of despise hung heavy at Apple – and it became a scenario of ‘Forstall vs All Others’ at the company. No matter how big a genius you are, you cannot alienate everyone at office and still hope to stay there. When the time came, Forstall had to make way.
  11. Forstall and his workplace politics – Tim Cook categorically stated that no form of workplace politics would be withstood at Apple under his watch. Forstall, predictably, could not care less – as he carried on his merry way of making use of political tactics for his own advantage. Cook got air of Forstall’s anti-organizational practices – the animosity between the two increased, and at the first chance, the latter was got rid of from the company.

Scott Forstall and John Browett parted ways with Apple in October 2012

Interestingly, most iOS software experts and app developers feel that, even if Scott Forstall had signed the apology letter for the Apple Maps embarrassment – he would still have had to leave the company. John Browett, a relatively new recruit at Apple, was also sacked, along with Forstall. The scenario has completely changed now, and it’s Tim Cook who is in the firing line. Can iWatch turn out to be a rip-roaring success, and save Cook’s career at Apple?

 

We have to wait a few months to get an answer to that!

 

Compare Each Cocoa UI Element In iOS and Android With PortKit

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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PortKit is increasingly becoming a popular resource for mobile app developers across the globe. It serves as an accurate UI/UX metaphor equivalent between the iOS and Android platforms. While porting a mobile application across platforms, this is just the tool we almost always rely on!

It is handy to use PortKit while working on iPhone/iPad and Android app development. Each and every Cocoa UI element of Android 4 and iOS 6/iOS 7 can be visually compared on the display window. For finding the correct equivalent while working on mobile app portability, PortKit’s definitely a great help.

 

Apart from UI comparisons between iOS and Android widgets, PortKit also makes the task of general app visualization and referencing much simpler too. The tool facilitates the process of keeping a track over all the documentation and naming protocols during app development processes.

 

 

PortKit is an invaluable resource for all multi-platform mobile app development experts out there. It’s easy to learn, and can make your apps flawless indeed!

 

Improvements in Blackberry 10 Features That Are Required…Urgently!

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Blackberry CEO John Chen has put on a brave front about turning around the company’s fortunes – but whether BB can indeed survive in the handset business remains open to speculation. For starters, Blackberry needs to implement quite a few improvements in its loss-making BB 10 platform, to regain some of its popularity.

Sadly, hardly anyone takes a Blackberry phone seriously these days. In fact, a Blackberry-owner often has to hear taunts from friends and colleagues, about how (s)he should upgrade to a ‘real smartphone’ soon. The sagging fortunes of BB were expected to receive a big boost with the arrival of the Blackberry 10 mobile OS, on the Z10 handset. In hindsight, coming up with a shoddy touch-based iPhone-lookalike was not a smart move on the company’s part at all. The first quarterly sales figures of Blackberry’s new and ultra-hyped flagship device were way short of projections, and losses mounted to almost $85 million. While the 10.1 and 10.2 updates have been relatively better, they are still not a patch on the latest iOS and Android platforms. Here are some key improvements in Blackberry 10 that we would love to see:

 

  1. Better camera options – At a time when smartphones regularly double up as cameras, the imaging features present on BB 10 are distinctly ho-hum. Developers should definitely consider including a panorama mode and better resolution adjustment options in the camera settings – in the devices that would follow the disastrous Z10. People who love to snap about with their phones would appreciate the presence of a HDR (high-definition) camera mode as well.
  2. More efficient voice control – Google Now is not perfect, Siri has plenty of shortcomings – but they at least make using Android devices and iPhones rather easy. Blackberry 10 does not yet have any decent ‘answer’ (no pun intended) to its competitors’ voice applications. And while the Blackberry app developers are working on this, how about a wearable BB 10-powered device too? Users might be intrigued!
  3. Better data usage – According to mobile app developers as well as general handset-users, the push-mail notification feature of Blackberry phones has always been one of the latter’s high points. It would be great if there was an upgrade to BB10, letting people customize the intervals at which email checks should be done, and monitor/manage the amount of data/bandwidth used up in the process. That, in turn, might add a bit to the battery life of the phones too.
  4. Presence of a podcast app – Listening to music on the move is a lousy experience on a Blackberry phone. The difference seems all the more stark, if you consider the seamless iTunes music that you can enjoy on iOS devices – thanks to the latest technologies in iPhone application development. Blackberry 10 (or its rumored successor, BES 12) should have a podcast app (native), which would be able to link directly with the built-in music player in devices. The Blackberry Radio features could also do with a makeover (particularly on GSM phones).
  5. Skype on Blackberry – Having Blackberry Messenger and installing WhatsApp can no longer serve as substitutes for a dedicated Skype app. There are more than 300 million Skype users worldwide, and both iTunes and Google Play Store has the mobile app version of this voice and video-calling software. Just like Facebook and Twitter, Blackberry officials should seriously start thinking about pre-installing Skype in all their forthcoming BB 10 phones.
  6. Why has Blackberry Protect become rather useless? – Yet another standout Blackberry feature, which the company somehow managed to mess up on the new platform. The data backup options present on Protect in BB 10 are not even close to being as holistic as they were in the initial version of the feature. There have been complaints from certain users about Blackberry Protect on their handsets not functioning properly either. With an improvement in this regard, people would be able to switch to new BB devices, without losing any of the important data stored on their older phones.
  7. Faster display change options – You rotate the screen of a supposedly ‘cutting-edge’ Blackberry touch-based phone, and it takes its own sweet time to alter the display from portrait to landscape (or the other way round). This, understandably, makes both gaming as well as reading long documents bit of a hassle on such a handset. Handsets powered by the new mobile OS platform would become much more user-friendly, if the rotation speed was higher (take a cue from iPhone 5 for this!). Using Blackberry apps will become much more easy too.
  8. Number of compatible apps – The sheer paucity of mobile applications in Blackberry App World (in comparison to Play Store and iTunes) have pegged back the RIM company for years now. Given how apps for practically every purpose can be downloaded on iPhones and Android phones, it’s not surprising that few people felt the need to actually switch to a Blackberry 10 device. If the later upgraded versions of the OS is compatible with more, varied, pre-tested apps, enhanced popularity would almost be a given!
  9. Availability of APKs in App World – It’s would be too naive to imagine that professionals from mobile app development companies would become interested in creating BB apps overnight. The process would take time – and during this span, Blackberry can try to make Android apps available on its native store. On the Blackberry 10 platform at present, all Android application packages (APKs) have to be converted into BAR format, before they can be installed (from Google Play Store). Getting into some sort of agreement with Android and having these apps uploaded in Blackberry App World shouldn’t be much of a problem.
  10. Support for OpenVPN – Blackberry has always positioned itself as a mobile platform that attaches prime importance to the users’ data security. The Virtual Private Network (VPN) features on BB 10, however, come across as distinctly half-baked. There is no support for OpenVPN, something that many mobile users rely on – while conducting confidential transactions/data exchanges over their phones. IPSEC/L2TP is not supported either. Blackberry is already facing a lot of troubles over its sub-par features – it does not want its one standout point (security) getting muddled too.
  11. Better folder management – Blackberry 10 is simply crying out for more space in its folders. It appears strange that while iPhones and Android devices (the latter, with third-party launchers) offer unlimited folder space, only 16 applications (!) can be stored in a folder of a Blackberry phone.  There are no options to create additional folders/pages within a folder either. There will always be people who love having a host of apps on their phone – and for them, Blackberry Z10, is far from an ideal device. An upgrade is required, urgently!
  12. Improvements in Blackberry Maps – Opinions are divided as to which one among Apple Maps and Blackberry Maps is worse. While becoming as accurate and user-friendly as Google Maps seems to be a pipe dream at the moment – app developers can certainly make the maps on Blackberry 10 phones more granular, with built-in walking instructions. A three-dimensional (3D) viewing option would be nice too. Users would love to be able to see the locational details of nearby businesses on the phone maps as well.

 

The option of getting a preview of all notifications (also known as ‘toast notifications’) is a nice touch on Blackberry 10 – but the lack of any customization feature on it sticks out like a sore thumb. The interface and task manager on the platform also appear static and rather cluttered – and the designers would do well to follow a Playbook-like style in future OS versions. BB 10 is not essentially a ‘bad’ mobile platform – but it has considerable rooms for improvement!

 

Behance For Business – Are You On This All-New Social Platform Yet?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Once considered to be a hub for artists only, Behance is increasingly becoming popular as a viable medium to promote business activities in the online space. We recently included Behance in our overall social media marketing strategies, and we suggest you do the same too. The benefits over the long-run can be enormous.

The importance of having a strong online social presence can hardly be overemphasized, for any business. Till even a couple of years back, Facebook and Twitter were the only two channels that most professional companies targeted to gain a decent level of exposure on the web. Pinterest and Tumblr, for sharing images and infographics respectively, came into prominence soon after. At present, the buzzword in the world of business is about Behance – a social platform launched in 2006, and acquired by Adobe six years later. While this channel was initially meant for artists and creative experts to showcase their work, you can use Behance for business promotions effectively too. Here’s how you go about it:

  1. Get an Adobe ID – Since Behance is currently owned by Adobe, you’ll need to have an Adobe ID to sign up for an account. The process is simple enough – all that you need to specify is your email (which doubles up as your username) and a secure password. Fill up the ‘My Profile’ section carefully – and make sure that you have mentioned your area of expertise. For instance, if you are a UI/UX developer or a graphic designer, write that in the designated box. Link up your other social media accounts with Behance too.

  2. Start posting – And make sure that you are posting only the finest of your works. As is the case on Facebook, it’s all about generating virality on each of your posts – and unless your posts appeal to viewers, they would not ‘appreciate’ the same (more on that later). Apart from completed projects, you can also add the ones that you are working on at present (work-in-progress, or WIP). People love to get an insiders’ view of the products/creations of companies!

  3. Follow others’ work – Unless you have an extended network on Behance, you can pretty much forget about making it to the first page of the site (which is important, for grabbing the eyeballs of potential clients). Start ‘following’ the works of people/corporate houses which are in the same line of business as yours. When an account for our mobile apps company was opened on Behance three months back, we spent quite some time looking for other app developers and designers – whose work we could follow. There are two benefits of getting in touch with others on this site. When you follow someone, chances are high that (s)he/it will reciprocate the action. Also, you can get valuable information, ideas and pointers from what others are posting.

  4. Keep an eye out for curated galleries – Becoming popular on Behance is not an overnight task – but you can definitely speed up the process by doing this. Search for the dedicated curated accounts that many leading business houses as well as academic/non-profit organizations maintain, and find out how you can get your work ‘featured’ on them. Ideally, include images, videos and wireframes in your project. A well-organized ‘work’ has greater chance of getting accepted at a curated gallery, than a haphazardly presented one.

  5. Customize your profile interface – You wish to stand out from the thousands of other people who use Behance for business, right? Give your profile a personalized touch, by changing up the display of your project covers, panels and profile headers. Both the color as well as the overall layout of your account can be changed. Choose a display option that would be user-friendly (pay attention to navigation), and would suit the general theme of your business. Unless you are an artist, don’t go for a splash of bright colors!

  6. Upload images and videos of optimal quality – This is vital. Many software developers and mobile app development experts make the mistake of not cropping their work-related images properly, and/or not checking the resolution and playback of videos, before uploading them. This, in turn, not only reduces the chances of your work getting liked by others – but also creates a negative impression about your company in general. It’s important to add a creative touch to each of your work. It should never appear that you have a fixed template, and are simply altering the details in the various projects. An optimal blend of quality and variety – that’s what matters on Behance.

  7. Keep track of the insights – Behance offers two key insight figures on every project you add – the number of ‘views’ and the count of ‘appreciations’. The latter is, in essence, similar to getting Facebook ‘likes’. Once your business is on this platform, your aim should be on gradually increasing both of these figures – through guest blogging, networking, press releases, and other such valid activities. Our iPhone app development company already has over 150 ‘appreciations’ in all – and before you consider that as impressive, check this: there are featured projects of others which have almost 50000 ‘views’, with proportionate ‘appreciation’ counts. If you strategize properly, the potential for generating a positive buzz about your business is indeed huge. For projects that are doing better than others, consider doing a re-post on them, including more details.

  8. Use Behance on the move – You don’t need to always be in front of a computer, to access your Behance account. There are two official mobile applications, which can help you monitor your uploaded projects on a real-time basis, simply by tapping on your smartphone. In case you need to display a presentation of your projects, make use of the Creative Portfolio app. The more frequently used Behance Mobile App would be instrumental for letting you get notifications (about followers as well as appreciations/comments), and other activities within your community on the platform. Download both the apps on your iPhone/iPad, and use them as and when required.

  9. Give your account a little extra push – You need to remember that on Behance, you are jostling with more than 2 million other account-holders, to get proper visibility for your projects. When we started out on the website, we shared our Behance account details on Facebook (both on our company page, as well as the personal pages of our in-house mobile app developers). You should follow our suit, and can ask reliable friends and professional peers to ‘appreciate’ your work as well. Getting a generous amount of ‘appreciations’ within a relatively short time-span would increase chances of more organic views coming in later on. Link up your Behance account with Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flickr, Dribble, and other social media profiles too. You can also upload the same images on Instagram, and link them back to your Behance page.

  10. Start earning money from your Behance presence – That’s right – Behance is not only about generating awareness about your work on the World Wide Web. Once your account starts generating a steady flow of views, appreciations and comments – you can start getting fruitful sales leads through it too. Behance has a custom ‘Work For Sale’ page, where you can upload your best projects, in a free e-commerce setup. Viewers would have the option of directly linking through and purchasing your offerings, and your revenue figures will start spiralling up. Don’t be in a tearing hurry to earn money from Behance though, a new account with hardly a couple of projects won’t generate much attention.

Screenshot of our Behance for business page

If you work in collaboration with any other person/partner company for a project, do not forget to give the necessary credits in your Behance profile. Review your portfolio at regular intervals, and, implement viewers’ feedback/recommendations (whenever relevant and necessary). You can even launch an email marketing campaign to give some early exposure to your new Behance account. Matias Corea and Scott Belsky’s social platform might still have a long way to catch up with FB and Twitter as a medium of social media marketing – but it is certainly catching up fast!

 

Ready to promote your business on Behance yet?

 

12 Factors That Turned Microsoft Zune Into An Absolute Dud

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Touted to be the digital media player that would entirely eclipse the iPod, Microsoft Zune ultimately turned out to be one of the biggest tech failures ever. In the following piece, we have pinpointed some of the key causes behind the flop show of Zune.

 

Apple iPod is no longer as popular as it used to be in the mid-2000s. Quarterly sales figures started petering off over the last few years – presumably due to the launch of several competing, and cheaper, digital media player applications and devices. In fact, when Microsoft released Zune in November 2006, the latter was widely tipped to make iPod practically obsolete. The excessive hype, however, did not work out in Zune’s favor – and within five years, production (of the Zune hardware) had to be stopped. Here are some of the reasons why Microsoft Zune could not even come close to giving the iPod (which still generates steady, if slightly low, revenue figures) a tough fight:

  1. Late arrival – Being a ‘me-too’ product never helps, and unfortunately, Zune was precisely that. The first line of iPods were out by 2001, and by the time Microsoft’s ‘next big thing’ arrived, a considerable percentage of the worldwide markets had already been captured. Zune did not have any such compelling feature which would have influenced people to switch over from iPod. Initial demands were low, and the figures never really picked up.

  2. Music-sharing feature did not catch on – Seamless sharing of music files was the top-billed standout feature of Microsoft Zune – and it appealed to precious few. At the time, general users as well as professional software and mobile app developers were wary of the legal aspect of sharing music, without getting proper legal permits. There had even been cases of music companies suing individuals over this issue. The very factor that was supposed to boost Zune’s popularity fell flat on its face.

  3. Poor reach – The people who indeed liked the music-sharing feature of Zune faced one critical problem. They had to find another Zune-user (maybe a friend, a colleague, or a neighbor) to send/receive files. Given the low-key response to the digital media player, it was almost always problematic to form a network of Zune-owners. As a result, many individuals simply had no one to share music with. And no, Zune did not support music from iTunes.

  4. The heavier build – Microsoft Zune was larger, and heavier, than the iPod. While people did not quite have problems in holding the device in their hands, the convenience-factor that it offered was way less than that provided by Apple’s already-popular product. Ideally, the size of the Zune device should have been similar to that of iPod Nano. Size wasn’t the chief factor that contributed to Zune’s downfall, but it certainly played its part!

  5. Limited customization options – Executives from any software or mobile apps company would agree that customized digital products are the ones that tend to do well in the market. Microsoft practically overlooked this necessity while designing Zune. Users could toggle between three alternative background display colors/themes – and that was all the personalization that could be done on it. To compete with the ‘cool’ iPod, Zune needed to have customizable fonts and definitely a better picture gallery. To put it plainly, Zune was boring.

  6. Too standalone for its own good – It came as something of a shocker when it was found that Zune was not compatible with Microsoft’s very own Windows operating system (OS). Music purchased from MSN Music, or present in Windows Media Player could not be played on the device. The idea was probably to make a digital media player that did not have to be paired with any other computer application or mobile apps. As things turned out, Zune as a standalone product did not have a chance of surviving.

  7. The advertising campaign was all wrong – As a former senior official of Microsoft Mobile & Home Entertainment later admitted, the promotional strategy adopted for Zune was not good enough. The ads were either too intellectual and artsy to connect with average viewers, or were downright misleading. The Zune-to-Zune squirting feature was excessively harped upon, and the visuals (with skulls and bugs!) gave off the impression that the player might have virus issues. Even average iPhone app development companies dedicate considerable time to think up smart taglines and ads for their products – it begs belief that Microsoft messed up so bad on this.

  8. Zune was too pricey – And when it was brought to the same price bracket as the iPod, it did not find too many takers either. The introductory price of Zune ($284) practically ruled it out as a casual buying item for music lovers – given that the iPod (30 GB) was available for less than $250). When the price levels of the two products became similar, new buyers still opted for iPod, which had considerable positive word-of-mouth publicity, and no DRM-related problems (unlike Zune).

  9. Buying songs on Zune was confusing – You had to have a certain amount of money (in cents) to earn a particular number of Zune points. Then, these points could be used to buy music – but you were not allowed to spend all the points that you had earned. The pricing strategy that those up top at Microsoft had framed surely had some logic about it – but it went way above the head of general users. At 79 points, Zune tunes were publicised to be ‘cheaper’ than iTunes music, but no one could quite fathom how the math worked out.

  10. The store display strategy was a disaster – At any store for Apple Products, buyers can actually touch and feel the iPod in their hands, before deciding whether to buy it or not. There is a free feel about the device, which was totally absent in how Microsoft Zune was displayed in stores. The usual custom was to strap it down on the display table, with potential buyers only having the chance to poke and prod it a bit through the narrow openings. A new product has to capture the attention of people at once, and Zune could not do that…not by a long shot.

  11. Targeting the wrong target-segment – Quality-wise, Microsoft Zune was not the worst tech product ever to be launched, but it turned out to be one of the biggest turkeys. One of the key reasons for that must be Microsoft’s decision to target the higher-end of the market – where Apple iPod already enjoyed an almost monopoly-like position. What’s more, owning an iPod was (for some, it still is!) considered to be some sort of a status symbol. Zune had no unique brand identity of its own to compete in this segment. Instead, if it had come up with a product specifically targeted towards the lower-end of the market, chances of success would have been higher. The desperate attempt to project itself as a premium product did not work out for Zune.

  12. No wi-fi support – Yes, it was only 2006 – and even then, the absence of wireless internet coverage on Microsoft’s so-called cutting-edge digital media player rankled. Over time, as almost every Android and iPhone apps started offering seamless wi-fi and social media integration, Zune gradually began to be perceived as an outdated device. If you wanted to download tunes on Zune on the go – you had to stay disappointed, for that was not possible!

The lower-than-average battery life of Zune and the unsatisfactory quality of its earplugs (admittedly, those of the iPod aren’t excellent either) did not help matters too. Even the music squirting feature had strict restrictions (from company authorities) – lowering its value further. The Microsoft Zune software can still be downloaded on Windows 7-powered gadgets – but there’s no denying that the product, set out to be iPod’s replacement, had flopped big-time in the worldwide markets!

 

Is Apple iWatch Destined To Be The Next Big Tech Failure?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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The iPhone 6 might be the most-talked -about upcoming device from Apple, but rumors are rife that the company has plans to launch a smartwatch pretty soon too. We here analyze why launching such a wearable gadget, which would be known as iWatch, won’t be a profitable idea for the company.

 

At the very outset, let’s be very clear about one thing. Apple has not yet officially confirmed that it is indeed working on a cutting-edge smartwatch. However, if the reports from generally authentic sources like The New York Times are to be believed, a wearable watch – dubbed as the iWatch – is likely to hit the markets sometime towards the end of this year. With Google Glass generating rather ho-hum response among techies, all eyes are on the rumored iWatch – with many feeling that it won’t be a big hit among targeted users. Here are a few reasons why Apple iWatch, if it sees the light of day, might flop:

  1. The product is likely to appeal to fitness fanatics only – Which makes the iWatch a rather niche product (in fact, most Apple products are – but that’s from a price perspective). Users would probably get all types of high-end stopwatch and countdown timer functions on the wearable device. It might even be possible to ‘talk’ to the iWatch. The rumors, however, do not single out even one feature about the device that general users would find to be really useful.

  2. For iPhone-users, the iWatch would be practically redundant – Would the iWatch be able to perform any function that the latest iPhone can’t? Highly unlikely (note-taking, time-keeping, GPS navigation, texts and emails – the iPhone does everything). On the other hand, the iWatch won’t be able to take photos, stream videos, and probably won’t come with a mini-keypad either. Most iPhone app development experts agree that, in the end, the iWatch would be viewed as just another ‘cool-n-gimmicky’ device.

  3. Where would be the profit? – Let’s just say that Tim Cook and his technical designing team does a really good job of making the iWatch. Even then, it is hardly likely that the device would help the company to earn hefty margins. The price of the iWatch would probably be somewhere in the range of $175 to $199 – and, on average, (in a best-case scenario), it can add to Apple’s Earnings-per-share (EPS) figure by a shade over 1%. Not really worth the time and effort, it seems!

  4. Wristwatches have somewhat gone out of fashion – Maybe not the glitzy Rolex-es or the ladies’ watches which double up as fashion accessories – but in general, a large percentage of contemporary young people can’t be bothered about putting on a wristwatch everyday. Once again, this can be attributed to the fact that, a glance at one’s smartphone offers more information than a wristwatch can ever do. If Apple iWatch does not have any standout features, it’s ‘coolness’ won’t be enough to convince people to buy it.

  5. Having a built-in media player won’t help – There are indications that the iWatch might have quite a lot of features in common with the iPod. The problem though, is, Apple iPod, an instant hit when released by Steve Jobs, is in a state of decline at present – as per market sales figures. Strapping on watch features on what would be, in effect, a customizable iPod Nano will not make prospective buyers crave for it.

  6. The short battery life will stunt its popularity further – Even the otherwise well-reviewed iPhone 5 has a common complaint against it – it’s battery life is short (as is the case with practically every smartphone). It would be rather too naive to think that Apple would come out with an all-new technology for the iWatch, which would make its battery juices last for a week or so. At a time when individuals are wary of installing new iPhone apps because of the extra strain they might put on the batteries – is it really likely that they would clamour for a smartwatch which, once again, has a disappointing battery backup?

  7. No first-mover advantage – The arrival of the Apple iPhone is regarded as a breakthrough in the domain of smartphone development. To a lesser extent, Apple enjoyed a first-mover’s advantage for its iPod too – since Sony Walkman was no longer a strong competitor at the time. Conditions are likely to be way more competitive for the iWatch though – with the main fight coming from Pebble’s Kickstarter, an already established smartwatch for Android as well as iOS device users. Making a mark as a new-age fitness accessory won’t be easy either – thanks to the strong market presence of FitBit and FuelBand (from Nike). Interestingly, Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, is on the Nike Board of Directors too – and a case of professional conflict of interest might also arise.

  8. Will the iWatch have to be paired with smartphone handsets? – If yes, that would further inconvenience users. If such pairing is indeed necessary, the iWatch won’t be able to hold its ground as a standalone smartwatch. What’s more, getting connectivity permissions with the various mobile carriers might be a rather costly proposition as well.

  9. The touchscreen of the device won’t make much impact – For the simple reason that a wristwatch is a small, wearable device – with the dial (screen) size being much smaller than that of an average iPhone or, of course, an iMac. Apple might surprise us all by incorporating a slew of high-utility features in the iWatch, but tapping on the various icons to activate them is likely to be rather tricky. Mobile app developers would also find it extremely challenging to come up with applications precisely optimized for a smartwatch. While wearing, you can’t protect the watch dial with a case – and that increases risks of accidental scratches (unless, of course, sapphire glass used on it!).

  10. No 4G LTE support – Even if the iWatch allows internet access (even that’s not certain at this point), the strength and quality of such connectivity will not be anything to go ga-ga about. In particular, 4G LTE features would almost surely not be present on the device. For accessing the web on the go, iPhone would still be the most-relied upon device – and iWatch will not have the web-based features to even compete in this regard.

 

One of the positive rumors about the iWatch doing the rounds in Apple forums and discussion panels is that – the device might offer direct connectivity with mobile networks. In general though, it comes across as more of a product targeted to only the Apple fanboys/girls across the globe, and would probably be nothing more than a hobby item. If Apple indeed goes ahead with the release of the iWatch, and the product bombs, Tim Cook might start feeling the heat like never before!