Monthly Archives: July 2014

Infowatch July – 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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As curtains come down on the month of July, it’s showtime for Infowatch – the monthly newsletter that keeps you in touch with all the news, views and going-ons in the world of technology. Without too much of further ado, let’s just dive into the news bytes that captured our attention this month, what say? So, here are the tech highlights of July 2014:

 

Facebook Gifts Ends Its Run

 

It had been coming for some time, and the official announcement from Facebook finally arrived this month – that Gifts on Facebook would be shut down from the 12th of August. Mark Zuckerberg’s insanely popular social media platform is already experimenting with other ways to offer users a platform to buy/sell products on FB. Incidentally, Facebook Gifts had been offering only Gift Cards from mid-2013.

 

NASA Brings Mars Closer

 

Not literally, of course – but NASA has made sure that researchers now know more about the ‘red planet’ than ever before. Its Opportunity Rover, which landed on Mars in 2004, has covered over 40 kilometers on the planet, which is a new record. The previous record was held by Lunokhod 2 (a Russian rover) – which covered about 39 kilometers on the moon.

 

Cortana Comes To India

 

Something that every software and mobile app developers had been waiting for. Cortana – Microsoft’s mobile digital assistant (a potential competitor to iPhone’s Siri and Android phone’s Google Now) – is now available in India. Users of Nokia Lumia 630 in India can avail Cortana services, along with those who have the developer build of Windows Phone 8.1 on their handsets. This won’t be the latest version of Cortana (currently available in the United Kingdom and India) though.

 

Blackberry Shores Up Mobile Security Features

 

As of now, chances of Blackberry being able to catch up with Android or Apple Inc. is pretty much slim. That, however, is not keeping CEO John Chen from trying. In July, Blackberry acquired SecuSmart GmbH – a German mobile data encryption company. The firm also specializes in cyber anti-eavesdropping services. According to official sources, this acquisition has been made to increase the reliability factor of Blackberry, particularly for users from statutory government bodies.

 

The Wait Is Still On For The World’s First Tizen Smartphone

 

Announced in June, the world is still waiting for Samsung Z to arrive at the markets. When it does, it would be the very first smartphone to be powered by the Tizen operating system. Sources from Samsung have revealed that the company plans to strengthen the collection of mobile apps at the Tizen Store. Not surprising really, since Samsung has to directly compete with Google now!

 

Google Hangout Becomes Part Of Business Suite

 

Taking a cue from the immensely popular Microsoft Office suite, Hangouts has also been made a part of the business apps package offered by Google. The director of Chrome product management for business, Mr. Rajen Seth, has stated that people actually preferred a full business suite – instead of standalone applications. The addition of Google Hangouts to the business package is expected to give ‘Chromebox For Meetings’ a big boost.

 

Unemployment – The After Effect Of The Apple-Beats Deal?

 

Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine would remain employees of Apple, but many other erstwhile employees of Beats music have to search for new jobs. In particular, personnel from the HR, finance and support departments are being laid off. When Apple acquired Beats in the last week of May, industry experts had felt that a mass loss of employment would be an offshoot of this high-profile acquisition.

 

December Date For 5.5” iPhone 6 and iWatch

 

The 4.7” inch iPhone 6 will probably be launched on the 19th of September, but we will have to wait till December to get the first look of the 5.5” inch model. According to rumors at online iOS forums and mobile app companies, the much awaited Apple iWatch would also be released at the same time. Initial reports suggest that iOS 8 would be commercially released on another date.

 

OKCupid Lands Up In Trouble

 

Just when the furore over Facebook’s ‘experiment’ with the news feeds of users was dying down, another controversy of a similar nature has cropped up. This time, the offender is OKCupid, a popular online dating website. Site president John Rudder admitted that they had paired up non-compatible couples, as the part of a study. Although not many complaints have poured in after this declaration, OKCupid might still face punishment doled out by the American Federal Trade Commission.

 

Twitter Is Flying High

 

All those predicting that the end of Twitter is near have been proved wrong. In the last week of July, the overall market value of the company jumped by a cool $7 billion – thanks to the huge spurt in the number of worldwide users (nearly 25%). Twitter’s shares, as a result, have grown in value too, by almost 35%.

 

Microsoft Promises A Strong Nokia Comeback

 

There have been losses of nearly $700 million last quarter, the Nokia X series of phones have flopped – but Microsoft remains buoyant about Nokia’s chances of making a turnaround. By the end of 2016, over a billion dollars will be taken out of the Nokia project costs – which would plug all the losses. Within two years, Nokia is expected to generate profits. That would be a win-win scenario for Microsoft!

 

Galaxy S5 Fails To Improve Samsung’s Global Market Share

As per the quarterly reports released this month by Samsung, its share in the global smartphone market has slumped to 25% – nearly 5% lower than what it was at the same time in 2013. The rapid growth and popularity of Chinese mobile brands (like Huawei) is posing a serious challenge to Samsung, and Galaxy S5 has not quite been the standout device in terms of market adoption. The share of iPhones also witnessed a marginal fall during the same quarter.

 

Microsoft Unveils Its New ‘Selfie’-Phone

 

That’s right, 2013’s Oxford word-of-the-year now has a smartphone based on it! The head of Microsoft devices, Stephen Elop, unveiled a new 4.7” ‘Selfie’ phone, which has a high-quality 1.2 MP front camera. The phone would be a direct competitor of Samsung Galaxy K Zoom – another selfie-based smartphone. Let’s just hope that the selfie-fad does not taper off anytime soon!

 

The Amazon vs Flipkart Tussle Heats Up in India

 

It has boiled down to a game of financial muscle, as far as Amazon and Flipkart’s attempts to capture the maximum of India’s online retailing market share are concerned. In July, Flipkart pumped in a whopping $1 billion of fresh funds, to strengthen its presence in the country’s ecommerce sector. And how did Amazon respond? By coolly making an investment of $2 billion on its India operations – on the very next day.

 

Medical Technology Goes Up To The Next Level

 

Are you familiar with the name of Alex Pring? He is a six-year old kid from Florida, United States – whose entire right arm was missing. Well, Alex’s troubles are now behind him – thanks to prosthetics created by using 3D printers (yep, you read that right!). Although the artificial forearm and hand cost the boys family more than $355, it is indeed a big leap in the context of medical technology.

 

A New Malware Can Grab Your Credit Card Information!

 

BrutPoS is the name of this new malware, and it has reportedly already attacked around 750 retail outlets in India. Windows systems that have relatively ‘weak’ usernames and/or passwords are particularly susceptible to this malware. Interestingly, while the number of devices that have been hacked by BrutPos can be estimated, the individual systems that are under attack cannot be identified.

 

Google Can Now Protect Share Market Investors

 

Movements in the share markets are uncertain, and many investors have lost millions in single-day huge crashes. Google would, hopefully, minimize such risks – by predicting when (and the probable reasons for) a market crash is likely to happen. Experts from Boston University and Warwick Business School collaborated to add this functionality to Google. The algorithm has been prepared by mining data from Google Trends.

 

Zuckerberg Surges Ahead Of Larry Page and Sergey Brin

 

In other words, the ‘father of Facebook’ is now a wealthier person than the co-founders of Google. With a net worth of a shade under $33.5 billion, Mark Zuckerberg currently occupies the 16th position in the Billionaires’ Index (created by Bloomberg), with Page and Brin coming in at the next two positions. Bill Gates has held on as the richest person on the the planet.

 

Xiaomi Mi 3 Is A Huge Hit

 

 

So much so that, Flipkart ran out of stock of this new handset – within less than half an hour of it being listed on the portal. Although the exclusive partnership with Flipkart leaves room for doubt as far as the long-run sales of Mi 3 are concerned – there is no doubting that Indian buyers have taken to it in a big way. It’s not for nothing that Xiaomi is reputed as the ‘Apple of China’, after all!

 

How ‘Confidential’ Is Your iPhone Data?

 

Jonathan Zdziarski, a mobile research analyst, has shown that Apple can easily extract data stored on iPhones – without needing to seek consent from users. What’s more, iPhone-owners have no option to prevent such extraction (except for, of course, erasing all data). Representatives from Apple have admitted that unpublicized methods are indeed used for such data extraction.  The announcement has startled general users and mobile app development experts alike.

In a new ad campaign, Microsoft has taken a dig at Siri’s intelligence – and that has also grabbed many eyeballs. Snapchat got a new rival this July, in form of Bolt Messaging (by Instagram). A study conducted by Strategy Analytics has revealed that the total count of smartphone-users would cross 2.5 billion by next year. That, in turn, would mean, bigger markets for mobile application development companies like us!

 

July 2014 (like practically every month nowadays) witnessed the arrival of many new, high-end smartphones. Apart from the Mi 3, Xiaomi released the Redmi Note and the Redmi 1S phones. The six-inch Asus phablet, also released this month, has won favorable reviews from analysts and experts. Karbonn brought the Opium N7 and Opium N9 handsets to the market as well.

Story Time Monsoon Camp

That about wraps up our bird’s eye-view of what has been happening in the world of technology in July. On a more personal front, our mobile apps company celebrated the burgeoning success of the paperback/hardcover Story Time books for kids this month. If you are a regular on our blog, you are probably already aware that we are organizing a ‘Story Time Monsoon Camp’ in Kolkata – on the 15th, 16th and 17th of August (http://storytimeforkids.info/). Wish us luck for our preparations.

 

Infowatch will be back on the 1st of September (the last day of August is a Sunday, so…). Till then, do write in about any happening in the world of technology that captures your attention. If you feel any other news should have figured in our July-list, we would be happy to listen to your suggestions.

 

Here’s wishing a prosperous, rewarding August to all of you out there. We are looking for another really successful month too.

 

By the way, did you know that www.teksmobile.com.au is now live?

 

AppBoard Tuesday – The Importance Of Milestones In App Development

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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A fortnight remains from the start of the Story Time Monsoon Camp – and it’s all ‘make the last-ditch preparations and send along the invites’ time for us at Teknowledge. But hey, that does not mean you need to miss out on our weekly bit of chitchat, about mobile app development…and, well, all other things tech. In today’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday (it’s already the 11th edition), we will be discussing the need for maintaining milestones during any mobile application development project. We follow this work-pattern at Teknowledge, and it’s basically something any other company in the same line of business should follow:

  1. Milestones keep work processes systematic – A recent infographic, published by Kinvey, showed that the average time required for building an iOS/Android app is 18 weeks. This entire period would, of course, be divided into different stages (say, concept development, wireframe-making, prototype development, mobile app testing, etc.). If you are not maintaining milestones, it’s more than likely that confusions will crop up over time. The human brain is not meant to memorize everything!
  2. Milestones facilitate effective teamwork – Let alone only app development companies – at any professional organization, productive teamwork is what’s required for success. At Teknowledge Software, we maintain milestones so that each developer working on a new app stays updated about the progress that has been made on the project. That, in turn, makes query-resolution easy, and also fosters division of responsibilities (for instance, a UI/UX designer can start working only after (s)he finds out that the app-screens are ready).
  3. Milestones help in client interaction – If you do not have a rough idea about milestones, providing app quotes (even if they are free) would be pure guesswork. Chances would be high that you will make promises that won’t be possible to live up to – which would put a frown on your client’s face and give your mobile apps company a bad name. Once someone gets in touch with us, we find out the type of app (s)he wants, and frame milestones accordingly. That way, we can provide realistic deadlines.
  4. Milestones are great for cost-management – Make no mistake – in most cases, the overall mobile app development costs are not particularly low. The onus lies on companies to ensure that the total expenses figure do not exceed the amount specified in the app quote. At every stage, milestones help in keeping a tab on the cost figures, and plugging the channels of unnecessary expenditure. To put it another way, by maintaining milestones you can abide by the budgetary preferences of customers.
  5. Milestones make the overall payment scheme more transparent – Our company has this policy of asking for only 30% of the total estimated costs upfront, with another 30% being payable midway through the project, and the rest when the app is completed and delivered. Now, what does a generic term like ‘midway’ mean? That’s something we determine on the basis of the number of milestones achieved, and the number that remains to be attained. If your company takes payments in multiple installments (which is the most common way), you need to SHOW how much of the work has been completed at any stage, before asking for a pre-specified percentage of your fees. Milestones build the trust-factor between app companies and clients.
  6. Milestones make fault-rectification easier – Errors happen, oversights are not uncommon, a line of code might go missing – when mobile app developers are working on a project. In a haphazard work framework, looking for a small mistake can be a thoroughly frustrating, time-consuming task. Provided that you are recording every milestone, you can quickly zero in on the stages where the error might have happened – and rectify it. Even the best app development companies make mistakes – the thing that makes them stand out is that, they are quick to fix them.
  7. Milestones are helpful if work is being transferred – At Teknowledge, attrition rates are very low, so we do not really get this benefit (we don’t want this one, anyway!). However, at any standard mobile software company, it might well happen that a coder/designer/developer leaves, or is transferred to another project/branch. The person(s) taking his/her place has to spend days studying what the earlier guy had done, before continuing with the job. If there is an updated logbook of milestones to refer to, the new person can start working almost immediately.
  8. Milestones give a boost to accountability of developers – This works at two levels. Firstly, while reporting to seniors (well, I ask for work-updates from my employees from time to time, and am sure most other bosses out there do the same), it is absolutely essential for a developer to show a detailed report to his/her boss. It’s basically the same when you are delivering a work-progress report to clients. Bosses love objectivity, customers hate lots of technical jargon – and milestones are the common solution.
  9. Milestones bring to light the unique nature of every app project – One iPhone app differs from another, no two Android applications are exactly the same – and if your company is into cross-platform mobile app development, the discrepancies between two projects become all the more prominent. Milestones are instrumental in providing a logical explanation for why one app can be developed in, say, 6 weeks, while another takes nearly 6 months. For customized service providers, this proves to be really handy.
  10. Milestones are great for training – Most software and mobile companies rely on on-the-job training for new recruits, and milestones play an integral part in that. Right from the brainstorming and conceptualization stages, to app testing and submission at iTunes/Google Store – the entire process can be broken up into small blocks, and explained thoroughly to newbies. Consider this: which one would be easier for a student – learning an entire book at once, or going through short, in-depth modules?
  11. Milestones lends focus to app development activities – Now, every developer worth his/her salt would know that a mobile app has to be developed within a certain deadline. That, however, does not give him/her an immediate sense of urgency (and not every good app developer are workaholics!). Milestones serve as flags that have to reached within a relatively short span of time. As soon as one milestone is attained, the focus is automatically turned on the next one.
  12. Milestones ensure high quality of service – At Teknowledge, we have software analysts checking the quality of work being done by developers at every stage. This practically does away with the chance of someone attaining a milestone in a hurried/casual manner – compromising on the quality aspect. Only when everything is tested to be up to the mark, clearance is given to move on to the next stage. Imagine what a mess a quality analyst would be in, if (s)he had to check an entire project from scratch!

To put it in a nutshell, milestones make sure that work-hours are being optimally utilized at any company. There is the additional psychological factor of being able to complete a milestone while developing an app, before moving on to the next one. A good mobile company invariably adopts systematic operational procedures, and framing/maintenance of milestones are absolutely key for that.

 

And that, folks, is about all in this edition of AppBoard Tuesday (as a footnote, publication of our weekly newsletter is also milestone for us!). We do hope that ABT is being of some help to all of you out there, in some way or the other. It would be great to hear your suggestions, comments, or even counter-arguments.

 

By the way, do you have a kid in the 5-12 age group (your own, among your relatives, maybe someone from the neighborhood) – on whose face you want to put a smile? If yes, just give us a ring at 9433193640/9433138173 and/or visit www.storytimeforkids.info to register for our ‘Story Time Monsoon Camp. We promise it would be great fun.
Till next week then, take care, stay good…and of course, remain zapped with apps!

Samsung Z: Features To Look Forward To

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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After the latest postponement of the launch of Samsung Z, no official announcement has been made regarding its release date. We might not even see the Tizen-phone in the market in the third quarter of this year. As we await more updates from Samsung, a preview of the main features of the eagerly-anticipated handset would be in order.

It continues to be a tale of ‘so near yet so far’ for the world’s first Tizen OS-powered smartphone – Samsung Z. The Mobile World Congress (MWC) has come and gone, the Tizen Developers’ Conference is behind us, and the much-hyped competitor to Android is yet to hit the markets. It was announced that Samsung Z would finally make its debut during a Samsung event in Moscow, on July 11. Well, that has not happened either. Given that there are plenty of prototypes on show, it seems to be a matter of time though, before Z is officially launched. It has every chance of becoming popular too – thanks to these features:

 

  1. Display screen – Although the display of Samsung Z (at 4.8 inches) will not be the biggest, it will have several other factors going for it. For instance, it would have a resolution level of 1280×720 – ensuring a high degree of visual clarity. As many as 16M colors will be supported on the capacitive touchscreen of the phone. The pixel density, at over 300 ppi, is impressive too. The display will also have Super AMOLED properties.
  2. Internal memory – Analysts from mobile software and app development companies agree with the Samsung officials that Z would offer ‘efficient device memory management’. The handset has a default memory space of 16 GB. By using an external microSD card, the memory can be expanded to a maximum of 64 GB. What that means is, you can store games, songs and even movies on your handset – without having to worry about the device becoming slow. Samsung Z will have a 2 GB RAM.
  3.  Data support – Samsung Z is billed as a high-speed handset by Samsung – and its data features seem to live up to the early promises. The phone would be operable in both EDGE and GPRS environments. With LTE and HSPA+ features, the phone has the potential to edge ahead of existing Nexus devices.
  4. Connectivity – Near-field communications is one of the high points of the soon-to-launch Samsung Z. It will have Wi-Fi Hotspot, with the WLAN support being of 802.11 a/b/g/n. The device has an infrared port, and comes with powerful Bluetooth connectivity options as well. You will also get microUSB 2.0 features on Samsung Z (the phone is chargeable via USB) too.
  5. Network Compatibility – 2G, 3G and 4G – the new Tizen-powered phone would deliver seamless performance in all telecom networks. 3G users, in particular, would be convenienced by the high-end HSDPA support. The LTE properties for 4G subscribers is also geared to compete with the best.
  6. Internet browsing – Top-notch mobile web browsing experience is what Samsung Z is expected to deliver to potential users. While specs regarding the built-in web browser (it will be HTML5) of the phone have not yet been confirmed, professional app developers feel that it would not be too resource-heavy. That way, the new phone would have minimal chances of crashing.
  7. Battery backup – No one expects a smartphone to provide excellent battery back-up – but Samsung Z won’t at least be a major disappointment in this regard. It will come with 2600 mAh battery, allowing users a more than average talk-time as well as standby period. You won’t have to tag along the phone charger along at all times – that much is pretty much certain.
  8. Operating system – This is easily the factor which brought Samsung Z in the news, in the first place. After successfully experimenting with the Gear 2 smartwatch, Samsung has finally brought the Tizen platform to this eagerly-anticipated smartphone. Z will run on Tizen v. 2.2.1, and will be further bolstered by full Java support.The only issue that the phone is likely to face is the paucity of mobile apps, particularly in comparison with the Android and iOS app stores.
  9. Camera features – The built-in rear camera of Samsung Z would be of 8MP (nothing remarkable, particularly when you consider that the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 16 MP camera), but there are other redeeming features. LED flash and geo-tagging are two properties that might be instrumental in helping users take steady, high-clarity photos. The images will be of 3264×2448 pixels. What’s more, the phone will also have a powerful rear camera (2.1 MP).
  10. Processor – The 2.3 GHz quad-core processor would be adding to both the speed and reliability aspects of Samsung Z. GLONASS-powered GPS support will also be available. The overall performance of the device is likely to be at par with any standard Snapdragon 800 handset.
  11. Sensors – iPhone 6, which would probably be launched in September, would have the dedicated Healthbook application. Samsung Z will be directly competing with it, through its default heart-tracking sensor. In fact, Samsung has gone really big with sensors in its first Tizen phone – with proximity, gyrometer, accelerometer and barometer sensors all being present on the device. For ensuring greater user-security, fingerprint-sensor features have also been implemented in Z.
  12. Body colors – You won’t, to start off with, have too many color options of Samsung Z to choose from. The gold-colored model has generated quite a bit of buzz among mobile enthusiasts across the world – but apart from that, Samsung Z will be available in black (and probably a brown) form. If the phone proves to be a success, Samsung might launch a few more color-variants.
  13. Additional features – If you have already used the Galaxy S5, these features won’t be anything new for you. However, for everyone else – the Download Booster of Samsung Z should prove to be a really handy option. In addition, there will be an Ultra Power-Saving Mode in the phone – which would let people get the maximum from the battery. The predictive text input feature would make typing on the device easy. The SNS integration and noise cancellation properties of Samsung Z are also worth a mention.

 

As is rather evident, Samsung Z won’t be short on advanced features and functionality. However, on the hardware front, it won’t bring anything really new to the table. Like iPhones, the HTML5 browser of Z will not support Flash either. A lot depends on how Samsung Z SM-Z910F is received – if is a success, Tizen might be on its way towards becoming a worthy challenger of Google Android. Let’s hope it is released soon though!

Top 20 Trends & Insights From The Australian Mobile Sector

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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Our Australian chapter – Teks Mobile Australia – is off to a grand start. We have here presented some of the key findings from our month-long analysis of the mobile and app markets in Australia.

In terms of total mobile users’ count, Australia occupies the 38th position in the world. The country’s mobile communications industry has advanced at a rapid rate over the last 4-5 years. Currently, there are well over 16 million smartphone users Down Under, and it has been projected that by 2016, 8 out of every 10 Australian mobile user would have smartphones and/or tablets. Let’s here do a roundup of the other interesting trends in the Australian mobile sector:

 

  1. The growth rate – The annual growth rate of the smartphone industry in Australia has been in excess of 85% (annualized, from 2008-09 to 2013-14). The total value of the sector is inching towards $400 million, with overall revenues rising at a rate of almost 20%.
  2. The degree of smartphone penetration – Australia became only the second country (after South Korea) to have more than 50% penetration of smartphones in the national mobile market. Although United States and the United Kingdom has more mobile users, they do not have similarly high smartphone penetration.
  3. Growing popularity of apps – The Australian market has kept pace with the burgeoning worldwide popularity of mobile applications. The monthly app download figure among adults (users over 18 years) stands at an impressive 5 million – and this figure has been growing at 85%-90%, on average. As a direct result, the demands for and earning potentials of mobile app development companies have increased.
  4. Mobile phone recycling – This is a trend that is gradually picking up momentum in Australia. The average duration for which a person uses a handset varies from 18 to 25 months, after which the devices are either upgraded, exchanged or recycled. MobileMuster alone has nearly 4500 public drop-off points, where old phones can be deposited for recycling.
  5. Telstra is consolidating its position as the leading service provider – With just a shade under 16 million subscribers, Telstra is comfortably the top mobile services company in Australia. Optus takes up second spot, with 9.5 million subscribers. Vodafone Australia (once the market leader) has been losing users over the last few quarters, and currently has around 5.3 million subscribers.
  6. Presence of mobile apps on devices – Yet another factor where Australia holds an edge over the UK and the US markets. General smartphone users have around 25-30 mobile apps installed in their devices – which is higher than the average number in both America and Britain. Not surprisingly, Australian mobile app developers are encouraged by the growing size of the app market (particularly, the mobile gaming sector).
  7. Android is the most popular mobile platform – More than 56% of all smartphones in Australia are Android devices, underlining the latter’s position as the top mobile platform here. Although iOS is in the second spot (with a 36% market share), its growth has become rather flat in recent times. Windows Phone takes up the third spot (comfortably ahead of Blackberry) – but remarkably, it has the highest growth rate among the top platforms in the country.
  8. Phablets likely to become the first-choice smart device – Survey reports have revealed that most mobile users in Australia prefer having devices with relatively larger screens (which explains the dominance of Google Android handsets over Apple iPhones). Phablets, in fact, make up almost 45% of all mobile shipments to the APAC region. According to a recent Business Insider report, there is every chance of phablets leaving smartphones behind in terms of popularity, by 2017.
  9. Mobile commerce is booming in Australia – Sophistication and smart usage is the name of the game among Australian mobile users. Between 2010 and the end of 2013, m-commerce grew at a rate of a stunning 448%, and the trend is expected to sustain (maybe at a slightly lower rate) in the next few quarters. Over 40% of mobile internet users regularly do mobile payments. Financial transactions on the mobile platform is the most popular among people in the 25-34 age group.
  10. The love affair with mobile phones – Australians are remarkably attached to their personal handsets. A recent consumer survey had over 65% respondents saying that carrying their phones made them feel ‘more secure’. Around 7 out of every 10 people ruled out the idea of stepping out of home without their handsets.
  11. Nearly three-quarters of Australian adults own smartphones – In the 15-70 age bracket, almost 74% people have their own smartphones. This figure is projected to go up to 95% by the end of 2018. In other words, almost all mobile phones in Australia will have smartphone functionality by that time.
  12. The growth of the tablet market – The tablet segment is also on a fast lane of growth Down Under. By 2018, 8 out 10 households (on average) will own at least one tablet – a massive rise over the current tablet penetration rate of 49%. iPad, with a 60% market share, dominates the tablet sector – but there are many new challengers as well.
  13. Accessing the web on the go – 90% of all Australians have regular access to the World Wide Web. More remarkably, more than 70% people use their mobile phones for browsing the internet. Sending and receiving emails is the most common activity among mobile internet users, while reading news and searching for information on specific products/services are also common. As a result, marketing campaigns via mobile apps are increasingly becoming popular in the country.
  14. Mobile over television – That’s right, an average Aussie can live without a television, but not without his/her mobile handset. Google recently conducted a survey (in association with IPSOS Media – which revealed that nearly 25% people were prepared to give up their TVs rather than their smartphones.
  15. Proliferation of mobile app companies – Half a decade back, there were only a handful of mobile app development agencies in the entire country. The scenario has undergone a sea-change, with Australia currently having almost 460 app development companies. The employability of the mobile sector has also jumped up over the last 3-4 years.
  16. The behavioral aspects – Mobile usage among Australians might have become more common than ever before, but people have not forgotten about the correct mobile etiquettes. 86% of all Australians feel that talking loudly on mobile in a public place amounts to rudeness. Nearly 75% people think that taking calls in the middle of a conversation is impolite too.
  17. Effect of mobile shopping on brick-and-mortar stores – The degree to which people in Australia have taken to mobile shopping can be best understood by this – more than 800 physical stores are likely to close down in 2013-14 (as per a Future Laboratory report), simply because customers are becoming more and more comfortable with buying on the move. Professional Android and iOS app developers have launched many shopping-based applications as well.
  18. Growing need for fast, responsive business websites – According to researches by StewArt Media, 90% of smartphone users look up local business websites on their phones. What’s more important – 80% of these people base their buying decisions on the basis of the information they get on their mobile. Hence, Australian businesses can no longer gloss over the importance of responsive, mobile-friendly websites.
  19. Smartphones vs Computer usage – In February, smartphones overtook personal computers as the most popular medium for accessing the internet in America. In Australia too, such a scenario does not seem to be too far away. Interestingly, it has been found that smartphones are mostly used during mornings, while PCs have a greater usage percentage during official business hours.
  20. Mobile advertising figures are on a rise – Given how important mobile marketing has become in Australia in the past few years, it is hardly surprising to note that the overall value of mobile advertising is also on an upward spiral. By 2015, total expenses on mobile advertisements would be in the vicinity of $80 million (if the present annual growth rate of 46% holds). That would be an almost nine-fold increase over what the mobile ad figures were in 2010 ($9 million).

There has also been a significant surge in the popularity of mobile apps for kids in the last 2-3 years – in sync with the global advancements in education technology. Australia is at the top of the pile in terms of per capita usage of smartphones – well ahead of European and North American countries. The market is, most importantly, not saturated, and has every potential to grow further over time.

AppBoard Tuesday – Time For A Monsoon Camp!

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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It’s another Tuesday, and AppBoard Tuesday is back, folks. And this week, we won’t be sharing little bits of wisdom about mobile app development-related topics. Oh c’mon, monsoon is in – and it’s time to have some fun in this lovely weather, right? We are gearing up for just that!

stlogo2

On the 17th of August (mark the date, ladies and gentlemen!), the Story Time book publication department of our company will be organizing a fun-filled monsoon camp in Kolkata. Our book fairs at leading city schools have been grand successes – and it’s high time we made the smile on the faces of kids that much broader with a grand event like this. We will be hosting similar seasonal camps throughout the year – so that little ones can have the time of their lives, repeatedly!

 

For the inaugural ‘Story Time Monsoon Camp’, we already have a series of fun activities lined up. Our mobile app developers, UI/UX designers, other senior personnel – everyone teamed up to chalk out the itinerary of the day-long event. There will be digital interactive storytelling sessions and book fairs (of course!) – along with many other surprises.

 

Have any of you ever met a sweet little kid who does not like magic shows? Well, we don’t believe such a combination exists! That’s precisely why magic show will be one of the main attractions at our monsoon camp. A Sunday morning with an hour-long magic fun – things are already sounding interesting, aren’t they?

 

But wait, there’s a lot more to the activities that would be held on the D-Day. To let kids express their creative side, there will be painting and coloring contests, and a pottery show. We have made plans for an art & craft exhibition too. Most of you are already familiar with the creative features of the Story Time mobile app for kids – and we’ll be taking that theme forward in the monsoon camp.

 

Next up, we will have the interactive storytelling session. Kids at schools have been enthralled by the tale of ‘Naughty Ninja’ and such other cute li’l story presentations – and we are confident of getting a similar response at the camp. There will be fun Q&A sessions too, with nice little goodies to be won. The session will be followed by a Book Fair – where all our paperback and hardcover storybooks will be displayed to the attendees. From ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Jungle Book’, to ‘Simon In Space’ and ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ – you’ll see them all (and many more titles!) at the camp.

 

What if the book your kid is looking for is out of stock? Don’t worry! We’ll note down his/her name, contact number and email id – and intimate you whenever fresh stocks arrive. If you leave your address with us, we can courier the book(s), right to your doorstep. After the event – children will finally be able to say: ‘Have Good Books. Will Read Them!’

 

The ‘Story Time Monsoon Camp’ will double up as ice-breaking sessions for our little guests as well. We will conduct a jam session, where kids can groove to foot-tapping tunes – freestyle! There will also be extempore public speaking sessions. It’s all about making children smarter, more social and savvy – and Teknowledge will be contributing in its own way towards that. By the time the one-day camp draws to a close, your child will have many new friends. That’s a promise!

 

There’s one thing everyone at our mobile apps company believe – ‘A healthy kid is a happy kid.’ At the monsoon camp, there will be provisions for complete health checkups for kids – absolutely FREE! Do remember to collect the health certificate before leaving the event.

The timings for ‘Story Time Monsoon Camp’ have been tentatively fixed from 10:00 am to 07:00 pm (in other words, one full day of unadulterated fun!). The registration fee is only Rs. 500 (per kid). Tickets are already available…and we suggest you register your child for the event soon. Stay tuned for the details of the venue and the site from where you can purchase online tickets.

 

On the mobile apps front, this week we started working on ‘Sting’ – an image-sharing application with a difference. More on that later.

Sting mobile app

That more or less wraps up the 10th edition of AppBoard Tuesday. Last-minute preparations are on for the grand monsoon camp on the 17th of August – and we hope to catch each of you, with at least one kid in tow. We promise that the little guest you bring will be delighted.

 

Next Tuesday, ABT will be back with further details of the ‘Story Time Monsoon Camp’, along with tidbits related to app development processes/strategies. Till then, don’t stay zapped….Spread the word, get your tickets, and fix your kid’s date with Story Time on the 17th!

Issues That Satya Nadella Needs To Urgently Address At Microsoft

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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Five months have passed since the appointment of Satya Nadella as the new Microsoft CEO. The company, however, has not yet shown any strong signs of growth under his leadership. We have here presented a few issues that Nadella has to focus on, to make Microsoft a force to reckon with once again.



The fortunes of Microsoft Corporation had been sagging for some time now – with things coming to a head exactly a year ago. The company shares fell by a whopping 12.2%, the biggest drop for Microsoft since 2000 (on NASDAQ). Although the share prices have shored up to a relatively impressive $45 now – Satya Nadella, the man who succeeded Steve Ballmer as the CEO of Microsoft, clearly has a serious challenge ahead, to revive the once-influential tech giant again. Here are certain things that Nadella needs to pay attention to right away:

 

  1. Finding an alternative to Windows 8 tiles – The Metro interface was created on the Windows platform to enhance user-convenience, but it has done nothing of the sort. Among the many criticisms that Windows 8 has faced, this tile-based display has been one of the worst-received. People, evidently, love the earlier Windows interface that they were familiar with – and Nadella and his team would do well to think up a solution for the Windows 9 platform. The challenge is made all the stiffer by the fact that, there is still a significant percentage of Windows XP-users worldwide.
  2. Forging partnerships with startups – Microsoft’s position is, yet, not dire enough for it to go Yahoo’s way of an acquisition frenzy. In fact, the cloud business of Microsoft with established players have been a decent success during the last 3-4 quarters. That said, it also needs to be highlighted that a large number of startups are entering the markets – and Satya Nadella has to start scouting for small and medium-scale businesses (which are based on cloud networking) to do business with. The way in which Google does this would give Nadella a handy cue.
  3. Managing the legacy of Steve Ballmer – Ballmer placed Microsoft on relatively stable grounds in February this year, before he left. Satya Nadella has to live up (in fact, improve upon) Ballmer’s performance – which is no easy task. Apart from working in collaboration with senior personnel like John Thompson (Chairman of the Board of Directors), the CEO needs to ensure that his other team members are working in sync with his strategies and plans. The focus needs to be on making everyone get a hang of the ‘Microsoft way of working’. Simply giving directives and demanding reports is not going to be enough.
  4. Winning over shareholders’ confidence – Market analysts from software organizations, mobile app companies, and other firms from the tech domain feel that Nadella is yet to prove his worth to Microsoft’s shareholders. This belief stems from the fact that when he was appointed as the new CEO, the company’s shares went up by a measly 6 cents (!). Nadella faces the task of proving that Microsoft has embarked on a new and revolutionary way of doing business – and is not going to remain static (which, unfortunately, has been the indication till date). If shareholders start believing, the sunny days of Microsoft will gradually return.
  5. Thinking beyond Microsoft Office – Microsoft Office has been a roaring success in the 2000s, and it still remains one of the most profitable offerings from the company. However, Nadella has to start considering the idea of developing virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) – a framework that many new-age companies are in favor of. In other words, Microsoft needs to become a reliable provider of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). After all, retaining a strong presence in the enterprise sector is absolutely crucial for the company’s fortunes.
  6. Shoring up Windows Phone – Overall, 2013 was a good year for Windows Phone – but a closer analysis would reveal cracks. Particularly during the final quarter of the year, sales figures tapered off, and the gap between Windows Phone and market leaders like iOS and Android showed no signs of decreasing. More seriously, mobile app developers across the globe are no longer particularly interested in making applications for the Windows platform (much like the situation with RIM Blackberry). Microsoft has also acquired Nokia, but Satya Nadella needs to stabilize Windows Phone first.
  7. Improving Microsoft Sharepoint – Yet another enterprise-related puzzle that Microsoft needs to solve. In an age where real-time customer interactions and and user-orientation are must-have qualities for web architecture systems, Sharepoint falls woefully short of the mark. Provided that Nadella is able to mastermind an improvement in Microsoft Sharepoint, he will get a first-mover’s advantage too – since no other tech vendor has been, till now, able to deliver platforms that serve as great ‘customer-engagement systems’.
  8. Holding on to Windows loyalists – Windows XP is done and dusted, Windows 7 has performed okay, and Windows 8 has been (let’s face it) an unmitigated disaster. As a result, many Windows-users have been forced to switch over to Mac, Ubuntu, or other desktop operating systems. Satya Nadella has to arrest this drainage of user-base – and the best way he can do this is to announce Windows 9 as quickly as possible. Of course, he will have to make sure that Windows 9 is indeed a huge improvement from its predecessor. Microsoft cannot afford another overhyped failure.
  9. Adopting a more transparent way of working – There have been many cases over the last few years when Microsoft has released new software, without making their interfaces and codes accessible to users. As a result, software crashes have become a much more serious issue than they should have been in the first place. Microsoft has to realize that staying tight-lipped about codes can bring back the dark days of Y2K pretty soon. Instead, people should be encouraged to know more about the backend of the MS-software they are using.
  10. Preventing the loss of talented human resource – Tami Reller and Tony Bates are two high-profile executives who have left Microsoft after Satya Nadella became the CEO. While it’s important that Nadella builds and manages his own team – the loss of such senior personnel does not augur well for the company. He needs to find out why the attrition rate among the higher-level workers at Microsoft is high, and frame a way to lower it. Nadella is a man of pleasant demeanor – but a smiling face is not enough to retain your best co-workers!
  11. Handling the Windows and Office platforms separately – Microsoft has, over the years, clubbed Office with Windows, with great results. However, the new company CEO needs to start thinking beyond those days of healthy in-house collaboration. Monitoring business would become much easier for Satya Nadella if he demarcates the Office and Windows platforms – and manages them separately. After all, even in smaller technology firms, hardware companies and even mobile application development agencies, business diversification are being emphasized upon.
  12. Deciding whether Bing is worth the investment – Google is the kingpin of online search services, and Microsoft’s Bing (while not bad in itself) has not even come close to challenging its supremacy. Nadella needs to take a stand on whether Microsoft indeed feels that it can overtake Google at the latter’s own game. If present trends are anything to go by, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Microsoft might be better off if it puts the development of Bing on the backburner for the time being – and concentrate more on its hardware/software services.

In addition, Microsoft has to either develop a tablet that is several notches better than the Surface RT, or stop trying to compete in the tablet market altogether. OneDrive and Office 365 have to be enhanced, to make Microsoft a stronger provider of cloud-based services. Problems with the Xbox One also have to be resolved. Seeking the advice of Bill Gates is obviously a good idea, but Satya Nadella would do well to stamp his own authority on the company. After all, Microsoft is his to helm now, and the onus is on him to decide how to tackle the above issues.

Mobile Technology: 12 Hottest Trends

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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Since the arrival of iPhone in 2007 and the first Android-powered handset (HTC Dream) a year later, mobile technology has come a long way. In today’s discussion, some interesting trends and facts related to this field have been highlighted.

According to projections, the total number of smartphone users is expected to cross 2 billion by the end of 2015. Within two more years, well over 5 billion people will have mobile devices of their own. Even more remarkably, nearly 85% of all web access will take place via smartphones and handsets. We will here focus on some of the most significant trends in the domain of mobile technology at present:

 

  1. Android devices are ruling the market – Apple devices are targeted to premium users in any case, and Android has taken this opportunity to take over the lion’s share of the mobile market worldwide. The total share of Google’s mobile platform is close to a stunning 77% – thanks to the availability of a large number of medium to low-range phones. Blackberry has slacked off following the flop-show of BB Z10, and is struggling to keep pace with Windows Mobile (both register single-digit market share (in percentage)).
  2. Popularity of mobile apps – As the adoption of smartphones and tablets have grown, so has the demand for apps. In the United States, researchers from the field of mobile app marketing reveal that at least 1 out of every 4 US citizens use apps on a regular basis. One or more mobile applications can be found in the devices of around 16% of all cell phone users in the country. Apps are no longer used as a necessity, people have taken a deep liking for fun gaming apps too!
  3. Mobile commerce in on the rise – Shopping on the go is the new in-thing, and making mobile payments has become more secure than ever before. Several leading banks and other financial institutions also have dedicated applications, encouraging people to transact more over mobile networks. Convenience and security are the two key factors that are hauling up m-commerce, and within a few years, its volume might surpass that of debit/credit card transactions too.
  4. Browsing the web – Back in 2008, when the first-generation iPhone had only just made its debut – a measly 1% of worldwide internet usage originated from mobile devices. That figure jumped up to 12% within three years, and is on a further upward spiral at present. As already stated above, software and app developers feel that mobile internet usage would be somewhere around 85% by 2017.
  5. Burgeoning revenues from app development – Not all of the revenues turn out to be clean profits for mobile app companies – but even so, the rapidly rising returns from this line of business is worth a mention. Overall revenues from Android , Blackberry and iPhone app development jumped by over 70% between 2012 to 2013 – with a similar rise last year as well. In figures, the returns are in touching distance of a whopping $30 million.
  6. The app download race is hotting up – iOS apps had a healthy lead over Android applications even at the start of 2013. Things have got a lot closer in the last 12-15 months though, with Android in fact inching ahead of Apple ever so slightly (the gap is 2 million currently). Blackberry apps are a distant third – and are not really making any headway.
  7. Operating on the cloud network – Staying connected while on the move has grown in importance in recent times – so much so that Apple has included high-end iCloud Drive features in its soon-to-release iOS 8. Apps like Dropbox and Evernote, along with default mobile email applications, have made it possible for professionals to monitor their businesses via their mobile handsets. The concept of corporate executives having to sit in front of a desktop computer is gone for good.
  8. Mobile advertising is witnessing a boom – There was a jump from around $2 billion to nearly $6 billion between 2011 and 2012, in international mobile advertising figures. According to a recent Gartner report, this figure is likely to move beyond $14 billion in 2015. Marketers have started using the mobile platform to promote their products/services in a big way.
  9. Number of people with mobile handsets – Finding a person without a mobile phone is already a rarity, and it would become even more so over the next couple of years or so. About 7 out of every 10 people in the world will own one or more handsets by the end of 2017. There will be close to 2.5 billion smartphone users at the time – which would be roughly 50% of the total number of mobile-owners.
  10. Availability of apps on different platforms – Once again, it is a two-horse race between iOS and Android – as far as availability of mobile apps is concerned. Both iTunes and Google Play Store have in excess of 1.3 million applications. Of course, since the approval process is more rigorous for iTunes, the quality of iOS apps is, on average, higher than that of Android apps. It will be interesting to see whether Samsung’s new Tizen platform can mount a serious challenge on either of these two leaders (Blackberry could not, and Windows Phone won’t).
  11. Asia leads the way in mobile web usage – In terms of mobile advertising figures alone, America might be the market leader – but it is well behind Asia in terms of the volume of internet usage on mobile devices. Smaato reports that the total number of people in the sub-continent accessing mobile web is around 5 times more than that in the United States. Europe, with close to 120 million mobile owners, is yet another big geographical market for mobile marketing.
  12. Volume of 4G subscribers is expanding fast – The total number of 4G users already stands at over 180 million, and by 2017, one billion individuals will have subscribed to this high-speed network. GSMA Intelligence undertook a survey recently, which showed that 1 out of every 5 people has access to 4G – and this figure would go up significantly too. Asian countries are currently lagging well behind the US and Europe, in terms of presence on the mobile 4G platform.

The overall app download figure from stores is expected to touch 108 billion by the start of 2016 – a welcome piece of news for mobile app developers across the globe. eMarketer studies indicate that the total value of mobile ads would be in the vicinity of $12 billion before this year is out. Mobile technology is on a fast track on the growth path, and it is going to become an even more integral part of our lives in the foreseeable future.

Tizen OS: Top 14 Features Explained

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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The Gear 2 smartwatch, launched in February this year, confirmed all speculations about Samsung ditching Android in favor of its native Tizen OS. As we wait for the arrival of the first Tizen smartphone, here’s an overview of the new platform’s main properties.

There had been rumors for months now, that Samsung was gradually distancing itself from Google Android. Last month, the company unveiled its new flagship handset – the Samsung Z – which was powered by the new Tizen operating system (developed by Samsung itself). Although the commercial launch of Samsung Z has been delayed, there’s little doubt that Tizen would soon start vying with Android for share in the worldwide smart devices market. In this discourse, we take a look at some key features of Samsung’s home-grown potential rival of Android:

 

  1. Tizen is open-source – Samsung has been projecting Tizen OS as a ‘universal operating system’. The OS is based on Linux, and is open-source – just like Android. Software and mobile app development experts can make changes in the UI codes, to make Tizen customized for non-Samsung devices. Several functionalities of MeeGo and Nokia have been blended in Tizen.
  2. Tizen builds on the features of Bada – Bada was Samsung’s first attempt at creating a standalone operating system. It did not work out – but the company has used Bada as an underlying reference for developing Tizen. Most of the Bada software have been seamlessly integrated in the new platform.
  3. Tizen is not optimized for smartphones only – This is in stark contrast with what the initial rumors and forum updates indicated. To ensure a wide coverage and device share, Samsung has made Tizen customized for usage in smart televisions, notebook computers and even as vehicle operating system – in addition to, of course, in smartphones and tablets.
  4. Tizen would offer top-notch personalization – Well, we will have to wait till the release of Samsung Z – but a look through the specs of Tizen suggests that it might be at par with Android in this regard. The ARM x86 processor ensures high device speeds and a relatively glitch-free performance. There are no significant limitations on the type of personalization that can be done on Tizen’s interface. It ranks ahead of iOS at least on this count!
  5. Tizen has the support of Intel – Samsung has an ally in Intel, for the continuous upgradation of the Tizen OS platform. In fact, MeeGo – from which Tizen generously borrows many of its features – was a property of Intel (it was discontinued in 2011) earlier. If the new Samsung platform becomes a hit, it can very well get the backing of several other big players in the market.
  6. Tizen is gearing up for the app challenge – Presence of a well-stacked app store is critical to the success of any new mobile platform, and Samsung is aware of the challenge. All Bada apps can be easily ported to the Tizen platform. Both web-based as well as native mobile applications would be present in the store as well. Understandably, the range of Tizen apps is nowhere close to rivaling that of Apple or Google yet – but expect a closer fight over time. Samsung even conducted a well-publicized app challenge for developers (for the Tizen platform) – and handed out $4 million as the prize money to winners.
  7. Tizen has built-in HTML5 support – Yet another point that has caught the attention of professional app developers worldwide. With HTML5 support, Tizen would offer faster video rendering (from YouTube) on devices, and the need for external plug-ins will be done away with. From the developers’ perspective, the cost of creating mobile apps would be lowered – and the entire development cycle will get shorter.
  8. Tizen will not be a ‘side project’ for Samsung – J.K. Shin, the head of the mobile department at Samsung, has already gone on record saying that Tizen would be a simpler and more viable alternative to Google Android. This spirit explains why Samsung is not taking any chances with Tizen by going for a premature release. For instance, if it had gone with Tizen for the recently launched Galaxy S5, the move might have backfired. Tizen will come only when the Samsung developers feel it is completely ready.
  9. Tizen supports all basic touch gestures – Tizen delivers the needful as far as user-interaction with devices is concerned. Right from sliding and flicking, to swiping – all common mobile/tablet touch gestures are supported on it. The screen of a Tizen device will have to be pinched, to zoom the display. There are no touch features on Tizen that Android does not already have – but at least the former is staying with its chief rival.
  10. Tizen would offer multiple display window options – This one can play a role in bolstering Tizen’s popularity levels over the next few years. According to the previews available from the Tizen developer page, users will be able to work with either a ‘mini window’ or a ‘full window’ on their handsets. If the former option is chosen, a ‘floating browser’ effect would be generated. The Q-Slide will be an interesting addition too (users of LG handsets are probably already familiar with it).
  11. Tizen’s design seems too similar with that of Android – And that can hurt its prospects, for users might not feel motivated enough to switch from from the Google OS to Tizen. The gray-themed drop-down menus and app bars do not have much difference from the ones present on the Android UI. The notification panel also seems inspired from Google. Thankfully, the home screen of the Tizen OS does not resemble that of Android – and it can be expected that there will be more changes to the initial design overview of Tizen (presented at MWC Barcelona).
  12. There’s little to choose between TouchWiz and Tizen – This is, in essence, an extension of the previous point. The dynamic boxes present on an Android device with a TouchWiz layer are present on the Tizen interface too. From multitasking and firewall blocking, to power-saving features – Tizen has them all, but they are way too similar to those already present on most Android devices.
  13. Tizen debuted on a smart camera – Before implementing it in the soon-to-release Samsung Z smartphone, developers had already tested the platform on other devices. The Samsung NX300M camera was the first ever device (launched in the second half of 2013) to be powered by Tizen. Samsung’s Gear 2 smartwatch also uses Tizen instead of Android.
  14. Tizen has the support of top automotive brands – Only time will tell whether Tizen succeeds in the smartphone and tablet sector, but as an in-car OS, it already has quite a few takers. Chris Coteau, the director of Tizen foundation, has already announced that top vehicle companies like Land Rover, Toyota and Jaguar have expressed their willingness to collaborate with the platform. There’s every chance that Tizen would become a worthy challenger to Apple CarPlay over the next few months.

 

Konami, Fujitsu and NTT Docomo are some of the other companies that have extended their support for the Tizen OS. At present, it seems much more well-placed than the Firefox OS or the Ubuntu Touch as a proper challenger to Google Android. The wait is now for the launch of Samsung Z – which would give us a first-hand feel of how good (or otherwise) Tizen actually is!

 

AppBoard Tuesday – How To Promote Mobile Apps Through Online Social Media?

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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Howdy everyone…how are all you guys doing? Most of you must be knowing that our mobile applications have already received close to 850 appreciations on Behance (combined figure – https://www.behance.net/teknowledge). The great thing is, we started out on this channel only four months and a bit back – which makes our present popularity that bit more significant. In today’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT), we will do a round-up of how mobile apps can be promoted via social media channels in an optimal fashion. At the end of the day, great apps must have great online visibility – or else, they might underperform. This is how you should go about your promotions:

  1. Create accounts on the major social networking sites – Facebook, yes…Twitter, of course…Google Plus, absolutely. You may or may not link up your FB account with your Twitter profile (that’s what our mobile app company has). Post regular updates about your apps – both launched and works-in-progress (WIP) – on Facebook. If you have not linked your Facebook and Twitter profiles, you will need to post regular tweets as well. Remember the value of posting detailed pictures, and (less frequently) videos too.
  2. Join forums, communities and groups – You will need to invest a bit of time on this – but the rewards can be potentially immense. There are literally hundreds of forums and groups on Facebook related to mobile technology in general, and Android/iPhone app developers in particular. Join the ones which are active (the post dates should give you a hint) and have a healthy number of members (what’s the point of joining a community with 5 members, anyway?). Participate in discussions, post replies (no spam please!) on others’ queries, and promote your own apps – one at a time. Ideally, avoid promoting more than 3-4 apps every week. A FB group can serve as, but is not only, an advertisement channel!
  3. Exchange app reviews – Be wary on this one though. DO NOT ever purchase reviews or any sort of backlinks to your website/app page on iTunes or Google Play Store. After you get in touch with others willing to exchange app reviews, take a look at the quality of their mobile applications – before providing a rating. If general people find that you have given a 5-star review to a lousy app – it’s your goodwill and integrity that would be on the line. Authentic reviews can generate considerable positive buzz about the standard of your apps though.
  4. Post on others’ walls – Once again, do this with moderation. It’s not feasible (or a great idea, in any case) to join all the forums related to mobile app development on Facebook. On the ones you don’t join, post your app-related updates on the walls of a few members. A look through a member’s profile will give you an idea about the type of mobile applications that person is interested in. Post accordingly – and do not post the same thing on a mass scale to everyone. Mark Zuckerberg and his team will not take kindly to such indiscriminate copying and pasting – and you might soon find your account to be temporarily blocked.
  5. Promotions via Pinterest – Okay, now let’s turn our attentions from Facebook, shall we? Your apps will have interesting UI/UX design themes and frameworks (ours do!) – and Pinterest is one of the best platforms to showcase how visually delightful the works of your in-house mobile app developers are. Create separate boards for each of your applications, and upload 10-15 ‘pins’ on each of them. Make sure that the main display screens of your apps are well-presented in the ‘pins’. While writing the description for each ‘pin’, use hashtags (#) to highlight the key terms and features of your app. You will need to start following the Pinterest profiles of others in the same line of business too. That way, you will start getting ‘repins’ over time.
  6. Make use of Google Plus – This one works in two ways. Firstly, create a dedicated G+ account for your iPhone/Android application development company. Over there, you can post the latest news, feedback, testimonials and all other pertinent information related to your apps. Share every post to ‘Public’ – to ensure maximum visibility. Secondly, do utilize your personal G+ account as well (if you do not have a Google account yet, it’s high time you got one!). Post the same updates on your own profile, and share them with ‘Friends’ and ‘Public’. To make sure that most people actually view your updates, select the option to send email to friends. Post images, little bits of texts and the like, instead of long, boring articles.
  7. A strong Behance presence will help – As we started out by saying, Behance has helped Teknowledge a great deal to grab eyeballs of the international graphic designing/mobile app development community. It is no longer a platform meant ONLY FOR ARTISTS, and in any case, good mobile apps invariably have genuinely creative elements. Use images that are of optimal quality (resolution-wise, properly cropped etc.), and accompany each upload with a short description of the corresponding app (do not make it a hardcore sales copy). Shake things up from time to time, by changing the way in which you upload the images. In addition, join select curative galleries and follow other creatives. The additional publicity would come in handy.
  8. Share infographics on Tumblr – You can post images and videos of your apps on Tumblr – but the focus should be on highlighting how well your applications are doing at the stores. Monitor your mobile app analytics (it’s hardly difficult – even Google Analytics provides that option (http://www.google.co.in/analytics/mobile/)). Prepare infographics on the basis of the reports, and share them on your Tumblr profile. In case any of your project has flopped (no mobile app company has a 100% success record), don’t bother putting up details about it. Instead, you can share its UI/UX designing details on Behance.
  9. Create videos for YouTube – This is where the human touch comes in. We are creating a series of videos where several topics related to mobile apps (development, testing, marketing, etc.) will be deliberated upon. Depending on the response, we will take it a step further – and start uploading videos for every new app (something like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNmYQK_M-no – something we did for a mobile app for kids). Ideally, an individual or a team should talk in an informal manner about the apps. Do not sound too well-rehearsed, that would be a dead giveaway that you are not speaking in an impromptu manner. Keep the videos short (never more than 4-5 minutes). On the web, people tend to get bored very soon!
  10. Don’t forget your LinkedIn profile – Yeah, okay, LinkedIn is not the place to upload loads of photos of the apps you have developed. However, in your profile summary and experience section you can definitely highlight the best of your app development projects. Notice how Amber Blumanis, the COO of Teks Mobile Australia, has done this on her LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/pub/amber-blumanis/96/638/978). Publishing such details will help you in getting more endorsements, and that would surely help.

Teknowledge Software on Pinterest

You should also be present on other popular social networking channels of the geographical regions you wish to specifically target. For your mobile audience, promote your apps via Instagram as well. You can also consider having an active Flickr profile. One thing you will have to keep in mind is that – you will have to regularly monitor each of your social media accounts, simply creating a host of profiles will not be enough. A the risk of sounding repetitive, let me caution you once again against getting into any sort of black-hat strategies for social media marketing of your apps. Making good apps and promoting them well – that should be your objective.

 

That brings us to the end of the ninth edition of AppBoard Tuesday. Did you notice that there was no issue last week? Another extremely important project had come along, and that made us give ABT a miss last Tuesday. Oh, and talking about important projects, our ‘Talk Nah’ application will soon be launched at the stores. Check that one out!

 

AppBoard Tuesday will be back on next…that’s right…Tuesday. Stay zapped with apps, till we meet again!

 

Check Out The Best Features Of OS X Yosemite

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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Among the announcements at WWDC 2014, the unveiling of OS X Yosemite probably made the most noise. The open beta version is available for free now, and we here take you through some of Yosemite’s key new features.

A week back, the third Developer Preview of Mac OS X Yosemite was seeded by Apple. Since the initial version was unveiled at the WWDC event, the latest Mac OS platform has been in the news – garnering plenty of applause from techies worldwide for its host of new, upgraded features. In what follows, we will do a round-up of the best features of OS X Yosemite:

 

  1. Near Networking option – The new platform will integrate iOS and Mac desktop systems more closely than ever before. Mobile handsets can be paired (and their functionality shared) with OS X Yosemite-powered systems, either via wi-fi or through Bluetooth. The seamless networking would enhance the usability of iPhone/iPad apps as well.
  2. Notification Center – Yes, it sort of looks like the side panel on that horror show called Windows Vista – but its utility is nothing to scoff at. You will get real-time app notifications, messages and other important data from it. The Today view in the notification center is yet another feature that makes Yosemite seem an extension of the iOS platform.
  3. More powerful Spotlight – Not a new Mac feature, but the developers at Apple Inc. have definitely given it a facelift. A vast range of stuff related to the topic being searched (ranging from Wiki articles and relevant links to even local place details) will be displayed via Spotlight – ensuring greater convenience to users. The inline preview option is cool, and reviews published on Yelp can also be viewed.
  4. Finally, a font change – That’s right, Lucia Grande will no longer be the default font on OS X Yosemite. Instead, we will see Helvetica Neue being used on the platform. Of course, those who use iOS 7-powered smartphones or tablets would already be familiar with the new font. Interestingly, this is the first ever font change since the launch of the initial OS X version.
  5. Continuity – iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite were the two biggest announcements at WWDC ‘14 (particularly since there was no mention of the iPhone 6 or iWatch). Software developers and experts from mobile app development companies have given their thumbs-up to the ‘Handoff’ feature, which would allow users to keep their mobiles and Mac systems in sync. In addition to being able to start a task on an iPhone and completing it on an iMac (and the other way round), you can take calls from the latter too – provided that it is paired with your mobile device.
  6. Flatter, translucent interface –  Jonathan Ive and his team have given an interesting makeover to the interface of OS X Yosemite. Since the sidebar and the toolbars are translucent, users will be able to view the programs that are running under the active window. The two-dimension (2D) styled Dock is also geared for a richer Mac-experience. The overall design theme has a fairly close resemblance to that of iOS 7.
  7. iCloud accessibility – You will no longer need to provide your user-account credentials to log on to the iCloud network  on the Mac OS. On Yosemite, you get the option of using a separate, unique iCloud password. In essence, this means that you can access iCloud from practically any device, anywhere.
  8. Mail Markup – Another lingering problem that Apple has addressed in Yosemite is the email setup on Mac systems. The all-new Markup feature would let people make sketches and draw doodles in their emails, put their signature on PDF documents, and organize other drawing options. In case you are sending heavy attachments (size in excess of 5 GB), recipients would get a download link – which would make the entire process faster.
  9. Airdrop – With OS X Yosemite, you can think beyond sharing files and folders between Mac systems and between iOS devices only. By activating Airdrop, you have the option of pairing your mobile device with desktop system(s), and transfer files seamlessly across them. In case you do not have wi-fi access at any place, all that you will have to do is activate the Instant Hotspot feature on your phone.
  10. Faster Safari browser – If Yosemite indeed allows Javascript to load 5-6 times quicker than Mozilla Firefox and Chrome, that would make web browsing on iMacs an absolute breeze. The ‘Favorites’ tab will be present – but users would probably find the new ‘Smart Search’ option to be more useful. iOS app developers feel that the Safari browser on Yosemite is more or less similarly-styled as that on the latest iPhones. The overall slimmer designs look nifty.
  11. iCloud Drive with cross-platform compatibility – It’s a welcome alternative to Dropbox – particularly since it is compatible with iOS 8 and even Windows. iCloud Drive will be a paid feature – and users can opt for the monthly-20GB or the monthly-200 GB option, depending on their data storage and sharing requirements. A note of disappointment for Android fans though – iCloud Drive won’t be supporting that platform.
  12. Energy saving – OS X 10.10 places greater emphasis on energy conservation than its predecessor, OS X Mavericks. Gone is the fluorescent bulb in the ‘System Preferences’ – and a small LED bulb has been included in its place. The new energy saver icon would let you derive a bit more juice from your Apple desktop.
  13. Setting the transparency level – Any experienced mobile app developer would tell you that Apple has not cared much for customization features till now. However, things are changing – and the option of personalizing system transparency on Yosemite is a classic example of that. From the Display tab under System Preferences, users can set the transparency level to what they are most comfortable working with. It’s your Mac, you get to decide how it would look like!
  14. Short Messaging Service support – Not only receiving calls on Mac, OS X Yosemite will have enhanced support for SMSes being sent to your iPhone as well. All messages can be synced real-time between iOS 8 and Yosemite systems. People will be able to send images and/or video clips with the messages sent via iMacs.
  15. Additional space-saving – One of the best things about Apple’s new desktop platform is that it cares about how your disk space is being used. For instance, the installer can detect whether you are a regular user of the Dashboard feature. If you are not, it would be automatically removed – to save unnecessary consumption of space.

Contrary to rumors, Siri – the digital voice assistant on iPhones – will not be making its debut on OS X Yosemite. Surveys among early testers have revealed that the new platform is about 4 times faster than OS X Mavericks. Yosemite will be commercially released this fall, and it should offer a superior Mac-experience to users than ever before.