Monthly Archives: August 2014

You Know You Are A Bad Programmer When…

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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There’s a world of difference between knowing bits and pieces of different programming languages, and being a qualified software programmer. We shall, in what follows, shed light on some traits and features that bad programmers tend to share.

According to a report published by the International Data Corporation (IDC), the total number of software development experts across the world is well in excess of 18,500,000. The Asia-Pacific region contributes over 37% of these programmers, while around 33% of the professionals are from either the United States or Canada. As you can very well imagine, not all software and mobile app developers are equally good at their jobs. If you are in this profession, you can find out that you are a bad programmer when:

You love to copy and paste

For a lousy software developer, the Ctrl-C and the Ctrl-V buttons are his/her best friends. If you spend too much time on looking for code snippets, or even complete programs, that have worked earlier – and simply try reusing them – it’s high time you changed your style. Open-source libraries are meant to be used, but lifting lines of program codes without understanding them is a big mistake.

You do not have a thorough knowledge about programming languages

Don’t get me wrong – even the best web or mobile app development expert can’t be expected to know ALL codes and tricks of C, or JavaScript, or Cocoa by heart. That, however, does not mean it’s okay to simply post “This is my problem. Can anyone send me the solution code?”-type posts in online technology forums. Inadequate knowledge would also make you write far more lines of code than what is necessary. Are you a ‘roundabout coder?’

The MAC address/IP address dilemma

If you do not know the difference between the two, hello and welcome to the ‘Bad Programmers’ Club.’ There are plenty of so called software wizards around, who take it that MAC addresses are invariably related to Apple iMACs. For them, there’s a whole lot wrong in the very basics!

You take pride in writing as much as you can

Great idea for a web content writer, and a horrible one for a professional programmer. Your focus should always be on judging each problem on a standalone basis, and solving it using as few coding lines as possible (without errors, of course). It is a hallmark of substandard programmers to hunt for common ‘patterns’ in all their coding assignments. Such patterns do not always exist, and you certainly won’t win any brownie points from writing line after line of redundant codes.

You are afraid of long programs

If you follow a rule of thumb of not trying to understand any program that has, say, 25 lines, you should probably start looking for another profession. There is no hard and fast rule as to what the ‘ideal length’ of a program should be – and for newbies in particular, studying a longer, detailed program is often a better option than simply mugging up an abridged, advanced version.

You are the most sincere worker at office

Nopes, I’m not advising you to be lazy. It’s just that, smart programmers tend to find ways in which they can tackle a coding assignment quickly and satisfactorily – and they generally face minimal troubles with code debugging. On the polar opposite, there are the ones who start to analyze their codes from 9AM, discovers about a hundred bugs by 12 noon, discover the solutions by 4PM, and by the time they are finished – it’s close to 10PM. The latter cannot be faulted for effort and hard work, but they simply do not have what it takes to be a good software developer.

You feel that programming is a black box

As has been already pointed out, coding has got nothing to do with either how much you copy and paste, or write on your own. There are procedural programming, object-oriented programming, imperative programming, functional programming and several other models – and if you do not know the difference between them, it won’t take long for you to land in a soup. Bad programmers rattle off fictitious phrases like ‘voodoo coding’ and ‘yo-yo coding’ – if you believe in them, you are one of them too!

You place blind faith on Java alone

This might be okay for amateur programmers – but for a professional web or Android developer, such a love-affair is the perfect recipe for disaster. Try to evaluate whether you are at all eager to look beyond Java – at languages like Python and Ruby – which might offer quicker and simpler solutions. For iOS developers, Objective-C is not the only language you need to be an expert in. Swift programming language is what the limelight is on now – and if do not learn it, you will fall behind soon.

You play the blame game with the compiler

The world is not fair – but if you can write a flawless program, there is no way the compiler can develop a mind of its own and mess it up. The most common symptom of this malady is the tendency to check the compiler switches, whenever your supposedly ‘correct’ program throws up a handful of errors. Look more closely, you will find that the fault lies in your codes.

You burn the midnight oil to learn new languages

A software or a mobile app company will hire you because you already know certain languages – and not because you promise to ‘learn them as soon as possible’. It is, of course, vital to stay updated with new languages – but you should not have to strain to learn the basics of coding AFTER you have successfully bragged, and bagged a job. Chances are high that a pink slip will come along soon!

You think program debugging is synonymous to error logging

Well, it’s not. Just because you are careful in entering every error/exception to the log, you should not think that you are handling them the right way. After logging the errors, you need to find out the causes behind them, and rectify the same. If you simply move on to the next project after recording the errors of the earlier one, you are basically shirking your responsibilities as a program debugger.

You cannot work with pointers and references

If the term ‘pointer’ means only the mouse cursor to you – you are not even a half-decent programmer. For mobile app development in particular, relatively complex APIs have to be developed – and if you won’t/can’t work with pointers, you’ll never be able to manage them. Simple tasks like array allocations and link-listing will forever remain a blur. If you are working with a managed language and do not have an idea about ‘references’, the situation will be similarly sticky.

You feel that a method/function MUST have a single return point

Lousy developers think so – and the excuse for it is laughably bad. According to them, such functions keep the overall program neat and easy-to-understand. The truth, in many cases, is just the opposite. Ask any proper programmer, and (s)he will tell you that functions with multiple return points are designed to simplify the coding structure, not to complicate it.

You get bogged down by the pressure of failures

Unless you are ready to take on the challenges that are associated with programming, you can never become good at it. There is no software or app developer in the world who has not made mistakes in his/her career. The trick lies in taking lessons from these mistakes, and becoming a more informed, efficient coder as a result. There is no point in feeling your program ‘should have been right’, when it isn’t so. Take failures in your stride, learn from other senior programmers, regularly follow coding-related case studies, and improvements will manifest themselves over time.

You cannot think beyond scalar data

Particularly if you are into SQL and relational database management (RDBMS)-related coding, such a shallow knowledge pool will not work. You can confidently classify yourself as a below-average programmer (at best!), if you cannot think and operate with ‘data sets’. From map-writing and data-fetching, to creating entity classes – ‘sets’ are the way in which most programming tasks should be managed.

A bad programmer would also have problems in understanding recursion, will tend to program everything in Unified Modeling Language (UML), and shall score poorly as a critical/analytical thinker. The general lack of confidence in coding skills tends to lead to the messy Collyer Brothers Syndrome in developers too. Every programmer feels that (s)he is the best in the world – although many of them still have plenty to learn!

AppBoard Tuesday – 18 Things Most Mobile App Companies Won’t Tell You

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 people! Hello and welcome to another edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT) – your weekly dosage of app-related information, and other related topics. This week, we will try to increase your awareness and make you…let’s say, streetsmart…while negotiating with mobile app development companies. Plenty of people, from tech and non-tech backgrounds have great concepts for apps, but their plans are regularly thwarted by shady companies and their underhand practices. Here are some things that many mobile app companies do not tend to reveal, at least at first:

  1. Price for providing quotes – If you wish to make an Android or iPhone app, you would need a detailed quote/cost estimate first. Almost all app agencies claim that they provide free app quotes to prospective clients. What they do not generally point out are the charges associated with each new update/upgrade of any application. This, in turn, nullifies the effect of ‘free app quotes’ somewhat, right?
  2. Mobile platforms worked on – Most businesses, mainly startups, are reluctant to reveal their relatively limited service portfolio. They would take any business that would come their way, without actually considering whether they would be able to handle it properly. For instance, if an agency is not into developing Blackberry apps, but a client contacts it for a BB project – the company might draw up an agreement. There are several startups who are mostly into web app development and/or Java projects only, but would happily take up mobile projects. A web app developer company may very well pose as an expert on mobile apps.
  3. ‘Too good to be true’ prices – An established app development agency in, say, Australia or the United States would charge more than double, than what a smaller firm in a developing nation would ask for. Even in India, a bit of research would help you discover significant discrepancies between the pricing norms of various companies. Keep in mind, if a company is quoting a ‘remarkably low’ price, there is usually some quality-compromise involved. There is nothing called ‘incredibly cheap mobile apps!’
  4. Degree of research involved – There are two ways of monitoring an app development business. The first is via researching and brainstorming for new and interesting app ideas, and placing maximum emphasis on buyer-satisfaction. The other is the short-cut method – treating app projects as mere ‘products’. Unfortunately, most companies follow the second strategy – which involves haphazardly making the apps, selling them, and moving on to the next project. In the long-run, an app that is not backed up by well-researched data would never be successful.
  5. Size of the company – Take any iOS app development agency at random, and ask about how big it is (in terms of, say, number of employers). There is every chance that the company representatives will be either reluctant to share such details, or simply rattle off a high-ish number (if everyone spoke the truth, every company in the world would have had 500+ workers!). It’s not that a small company will necessarily do a bad job – it’s just that most companies feel insecure about revealing their size.
  6. Qualification of the developers – When you contact a company for the creation of your first mobile application, making queries about the qualifications of its developers won’t be something at the top of your mind. What’s more – companies won’t be very forthcoming about disclosing the ‘relevant experience’ of the app developer/development team who would be in charge of your project. For instance, a person with a decade-long work experience might only be starting out with iOS projects. If you want to make an iPhone app, (s)he would not be the most suitable person. ‘Total experience’ counts for little, if there’s hardly any ‘relevant experience’.
  7. ‘We are a multinational company’ – A common refrain among many new mobile app companies who are desperate to impress clients. Its fairly easy to get a couple of foreign phone numbers, and show them off on business websites. If you come across a company claiming such ‘robust international presence’, kindly ask about its legally approved office addresses overseas, along with a contact name or two. It’s the job of marketers to brag – the onus is on you to find the truth behind the big claims of companies!
  8. Project continuity – If an Android or iPhone app development company promises to finish your project within 3-4 weeks, it’s not necessary that it will honor its word. ‘Our app developer went on a sick leave’, and ‘The person working on your job left’ are some of the most common excuses agencies come up with, to justify inordinate project completion delays. Before you delegate your project, ask in detail about the in-house continuity provisions that a company has. There should always be a backup team to handle responsibilities in case of emergencies. This, in fact, makes it inadvisable to go for a firm that is too small.
  9. Project outsourcing – Big companies, small companies – outsourcing is a common (and extremely troublesome) phenomenon among mobile app firms. You hire a reputed app developer, make the advance payments – and your project promptly gets outsourced to an obscure, third-party organization which, more often than not, comes up with substandard service. You need to ensure that the company you hire handles all the aspects of your project on its own.
  10. Keeping clients in the loop – Check out our ‘Request A Quote’ page, and you will find that we ask for app wireframes from you (if available), along with a brief idea about the exact nature of the application you wish us to work on. For many other companies, app development is more of an ‘open-and-shut’ case though. They will make you sign on the contract papers, and tell you that the app will be ready in, say, 4-6 weeks. You won’t get the chance to view mockups and app-prototypes in the interim. At the end of the time-span, you might be handed an app that is not even close to what you had been looking for. Mind you, payments will still have to be made!
  11. Genuineness of testimonials – Any self-respecting mobile application development firm will have a good-looking, optimized website. Chances are high that many of them will have hundreds of client testimonials – each of them gushing about how fantastic the company’s services are. Now, it’s not particularly difficult to publish fake testimonials on a website, and that’s precisely why you should not always believe them. Ask for the contact information of a couple of the company’s erstwhile clients, and find out the facts for yourself.
  12. Intellectual property rights – Before you hire an app developer, you need to have a basic idea about patents, copyrights and other aspects of an app’s intellectual property rights (IRP). Keep in mind that the rights stay with the developer, unless there is a pre-formed agreement that the rights would be transferred to you upon the app’s completion. If you wish to avail the services of freelance app developers, be extra careful about this. Make sure that the company/individual you hire provides legally approved non-disclosure and/or non-competing agreements. Unless the IRP issues are all sorted out, mobile app marketing might involve legal hassles.
  13. UI/UX design expertise – Tech wizards need not always have a creative streak in them. In the domain of mobile app development, there’s a common catchphrase – ‘Coders cannot design, and designers cannot code’ (the first portion is particularly true). A company might not be forthcoming about its graphics and UI/UX designing team, which would be a clear indication that it does not have one. Unless your app has an engaging, user-friendly UI, it will be a #fail – and that’s what makes it essential to contact a company with a team of experienced, creative designers.
  14. Focus on mobile app testing – Unfortunate but true – most small to medium mobile app companies do not have a dedicated mobile app testing team. All that they do is perform a hurried, stereotyped testing procedure over the cloud network (prior to an app’s release), and then hand it over to you. If you do not have a technology-based background, you will take charge of the app in good faith – and before you know it, it will start malfunctioning (owing to malware, bugs, etc.). Make sure that you know exactly how app testing takes place at the company of your choice.
  15. Presence on social media – Remember this one rule of thumb – a ‘good’ mobile app company would love to show off its works on Facebook, Behance, Twitter, and other social media channels. A ‘bad’ company, on the other hand, will remain as hush-hush about its projects as possible. Find out if the agency you are planning to zero in upon has a regularly updated presence on the various social media channels (having only a website is not enough). If it doesn’t, start looking for another company. There are plenty of mobile app agencies which have well-known companies, why settle for an agency which is not eager to showcase its own previous works?
  16. Feedback at stores – It is only natural that an app development firm will praise each of its apps like anything. A truer, clearer can be obtained if you check out the sort of reviews and ratings that those apps have got at iTunes and Google Play Store. If a company states that an application has been ‘unanimously appreciated’, but you find that it has been trashed at the stores – start looking for another, more truthful, company immediately!
  17. Payment structure – The moment an app company asks for the entire payment for a project in advance, run for cover. Be very wary of companies that do not have a well-specified payment schedule either (“make payments whenever it’s convenient for you”). Like in any other business, app agencies should let their clients know when and how payments are to be made. Generally, a pre-specified percentage of the overall fees has to be paid upfront, another portion midway through the project, and the rest AFTER the app has been completed and delivered.
  18. Promised completion vs Actual completion – There’s a popular saying related to software engineering (credits to Bell Labs’ Tom Cargill), which states – ‘The first 90% of coding takes 90% of the total assigned time for development. The remaining 10% of coding takes up the rest 90% of the development time.’ This ‘90-90’ rule is applicable for most mobile app development companies as well. These agencies deliver apps to clients that are ‘incomplete’, in some way or the other. Choose a company that can actually complete projects within the pre-stated deadlines.

The point is, you need to be able to read between the fine print and keep your wits about you, while dealing with an application development agency for the first time. Most of the reputed companies across the world deliver products of the highest standard (I think both Teknowledge Software and Teks Mobile Australia figure in that list – if the feedback of our 300-odd international clients are anything to go by!). However, there is no dearth of fraudulent ones either, and you need to avoid doing business with them.

 

That’s about that for this installment of AppBoard Tuesday. Let us know if there are any other issues regarding mobile app development that requires clarification at the very outset. If you have faced problems while interacting with other companies, share your experience with us.

 

ABT will be back next week, with a new topic to ponder on. Till then…you know what to do by now!

 

11 Essential Programming Languages For App Developers

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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Are you planning to take up coding for mobile and/or web apps as a profession? If yes, you need to be proficient in the following languages.

Coding expertise is something any aspiring mobile app development expert must possess. Even experienced developers need to constantly update themselves about new programming techniques and languages. The world of technology is dynamic, and if your coding skills are not up to scratch – your apps will remain buggy at best (that is, if you even manage to complete creating them). Over here, we have listed some of the programing languages that any good app developer should be comfortable working in:

 

  1. JavaScript – If you are creating apps that have web-based animated functions with interactive features, JavaScript is the language you need to have a proper hang of. Cross-browser compatibility is one of the biggest advantages of this Netscape-developed language. Professionals who are familiar with C-syntaxes generally find it easier to learn up JavaScript. Most Android app developers regularly use JavaScript in their program codes.
  2. Objective C – The go-to language for any iOS application development company in the world. Objective C allows coders to work in an environment that closely resembles the actual Apple ecosystem, which makes creation of native functions easier. It also comes in handy for making apps that would properly run on different devices (say, iPod Touch or iPad). On the flipside, Objective C can seem to be a trifle complicated for beginners. Unavailability of support on other operating systems is another issue.
  3. PHP – This one is primarily for web programmers. PHP facilitates the creation of dynamic, responsive websites – and is easily one of the simplest server-side programming languages to get a hang of. All that developers need to do is embed the code snippets in their HTML files. PHP is open-source, enabling users to tweak the modules and code lines according to their requirements.
  4. Python – Another relatively easy server-side language, that is useful for making web apps as well as mobile applications. Python is used in the web apps of Pinterest and Rdio, and has reportedly been used by Google and NASA executives too. The best thing about this language is its minimal and compact nature – ensuring that people only have to write a few lines of code (generally, lesser than in most other languages) for a particular function. Python offers high-end readability as well.
  5. C++ – C++ was initially developed as an improvement over the original C-language, and it currently enjoys widespread popularity – particularity due to the wide range of functions that it allows coders to perform. Right from apps and software system frameworks, to games – C++ can be used for almost every programming need. Both client and server-side applications can be created with this intermediate-level coding method. The object-oriented structure lends extra reliability and debugging options.
  6. Perl – Programmers and app developers often need to prepare reports from text file inputs, and Perl is often the program of choice for such requirements. Perl is not a ‘compiled’ language (instead, it is ‘interpreted’), and hence, it offers a speed-advantage over C. System programmers, in particular, should ideally be fluent in Perl. The programs that are created using this language are called Perl Scripts.
  7. Java – Developed in the ‘90s by Sun Microsystems, Java has retained its popularity as a preferred language for making Android apps, enterprise software and other web applications. The fact that Java can be seamlessly transported from Windows to Mac systems (and vice versa) contributes significantly towards its widespread acceptance among developers. It is an object-oriented language, and it efficiently handles data and objects embedded in codes. For newbies, it is advisable to start learning Java simultaneously with C-based languages – since there are several common features between the two.
  8. Ruby – Ruby is used by many techies for making dynamic and interactive smartphone applications, as well as for developing high-speed websites. It is also object-oriented, and is not at all complicated either. The Ruby for Rails framework is supported by this language, and it powers popular channels like Scribd and Shopify. On many occasions, Ruby is used to simply save time.
  9. C# – Are you interested in developing apps for the Windows Phone platform? If yes, you need to be an expert in C-Sharp. Since it is mostly based on other basic C languages, learning it should not take much time. It also has certain similarities with Java, making it even simpler for new programmers. For any .NET based coding, C# is easily the best programming language.
  10. SQL – Professionals from app development companies should be familiar with Structured Query Language, for addressing their relational database management systems (RDBMS) in an efficient manner. SQL is one of the oldest programming techniques for queries (it was standardised in the ‘80s, by ANSI and ISO). The language is particularly useful for managing informational databases.
  11. Swift – Apple’s new programming language (released at this year’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference) is making waves at present – thanks to its impressive set of features, speed and cool previews. Contrary to what many initially believed, Swift is NOT a substitute for Objective C. Instead, the two are meant to be used in collaboration with each other. Swift can also be seamlessly used with Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. Every iPhone app developer should start learning this language, if they have not done so already.

In addition to the above, those involved in app development should be able to use the Phonegap library as well. It allows programmers to create native codes for the different platforms with ease – and makes the task of deployment simple too. Appcelerator is yet another code library that is fast gaining in popularity. There is no dearth of programmers, and if you wish to stand out from the rest – in-depth awareness of as many of the above languages as possible is of essence.

 

How many of these do you know already?

 

iOS 8 vs Android L – The Mobile OS Big Fight

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 developer previews of Android L have captured the attention of developers all over the world. Apple is also ready with its iOS 8 platform, and is eyeing for an early-September release. We here present a comparative analysis of the two mobile OS biggies, based on early reports, rumors and previews.

As many as five beta versions of iOS 8 have already been tested by Apple Inc. A sixth update would reportedly be approved in the first week of September, only days before iPhone 6 (hopefully) hits the markets. It is, hence, being widely considered that the new phone model would be powered by iOS 8. Google’s Android L (yes, it still does not have a name, although ‘Lollipop’ seems to be the favorite) has pretty much impressed developers and analysts with its developer previews. How does the eagerly anticipated iOS 8 vs Android L battle stack up in terms of features and functionality? Let’s take a look:

 

  1. Notifications and alerts – Google has done a stellar job with the revamped notification system in Android L. The provision of pop-ups at the top-end of mobile screens is highly convenient, while people would also love the direct notification-view option from the lockscreen. The user-authentication framework for individuals using pattern locks is another cool addition. iOS 8 will also be going for a less-intrusive notification system – with popups and lockscreen alerts. There’s a chance that TouchID would include location awareness in the new Apple platform too.
  2. Speed – This is going to be a mighty close affair – with both Apple and Google shoring up their APIs and supported programming languages. Tim Cook and his team have hyped up the Metal Graphics API in particular – which is focused to make mobile gaming faster than ever before. The Swift programming language has also got the global iPhone app developer community interested. On the Android front, ART (Android Run Time) is in instead of Dalvik. Early reports suggest that the latter can push up device speeds by up to 4 times.
  3. Battery performance – iOS 8 is likely to finally have a dedicated screen for informing users about battery usage data. While this would enable people to adjust their phone settings (turn off wi-fi, for instance) to get a bit more battery juice – it is not quite as compact as Android L’s Project Volta. Couple it with Google’s innovative Battery Saving Mode and Battery Historian, and it seems clear that Android L will, depending on user-behavior, offer slightly better battery performance.
  4. Flat UI designs – Google calls it Material Design – and it has definitely caught the fancy of Android application development experts from all over. The layered flatness in Android L makes it seem that the installed apps are simply ‘floating’ above each other. This rules out the need for hard transitions. iOS 8, on the other hand, will be continuing with the transparent flat UI of iOS 7 (with a couple of subtle changes). The glassy designs were not initially very well-received, but people have gradually started liking them.
  5. Desktop/laptop integration – Apple fans will be able to keep iOS 8 and Mac OS X Yosemite in sync, just as Android users will be able to seamlessly shift from their Google Chromebooks and Android L-powered handsets. The Handoff feature of Yosemite probably gives Apple an edge in this round – although Android also has a series of apps (Vine, Evernote, Flipboard, etc.) which supports cross-device functionality. Both platforms are going to make transferring work from computer to mobile (and vice versa) extremely simple.
  6. New APIs – Android L’s SDK has more than 5000 new APIs – about a thousand more than the number that would be available on iOS 8. The 64-bit processor has also arrived on Android L (iOS 7 already had it). It would be premature to declare a winner based solely on API-count – but Google Android has an early lead on this. A qualitative comparison of the APIs on the two platforms will make things clearer.
  7. In-car OS – An important factor in the iOS 8 vs Android L fight would be how Apple Carplay and Android Auto fare in comparison with each other. Both have already garnered widespread interest among automotive companies (nearly 50 companies are reportedly already in talks with Android). Apart from navigation support, the in-car OS software would let people take calls and send texts, while managing the car controls efficiently.
  8. Multitasking features – Apple and Google have finally realized the need for enhanced multitasking provisions on their latest mobile platforms. The default app switcher on iOS 8 will have a special shortcut list of contacts. Android L has Chrome tabs along with apps – facilitating faster multitasking and more seamless app-navigation. In terms of integration with the World Wide Web, Android seems to have done a better job – since it has revived the functionality of Project Hera, for mobile applications and web items to be stacked together.
  9. Support for Wearable technology – The biggest difference in this count is, while Google has already done a good job with its Android Wear series (Samsung Gear Fit is a big hit), Apple is still mulling over the release of iWatch. However, iOS 8 is certain to come with a customized HealthKit API and a Healthbook application. Still, as long as there is no Apple smartwatch, Android would win the tussle over wearables in a canter.
  10. Security – Although Samsung and Google have probably parted ways for good, Android L is ‘inspired’ by the former’s high-end Knox mobile security features. The data encryption methods do away with all chances of unauthorized information access in the new line of Android devices. iOS app developers and experts are expecting enhanced security features in iOS 8 too – via TouchID and pre-tested third-party app support. Once again, more details would become available when iOS 8 actually debuts.
  11. Supported devices – Nexus 6 (also known as the Motorola Shamu) is likely to be the first handset with Android L. It will be interesting to see how Google manages the platform, in the absence of Samsung (which would be using its home-grown Tizen OS). Upcoming LG and HTC smartphones are likely to have Android L-compatibility – while the Sony Xperia series will probably be another partner as well. Apple, on its part, will be hoping for iPhone 6 to be a huge hit – for iOS 8 to really become popular. All that’s required is a non-repetition of the iPhone 5C fiasco.

 

This is the first time that Android has gone with a full-fledged preview of its new version – something that only Apple was known for till now. This clearly underlines the confidence that the Android developers have in the features of its new, redesigned platform. iOS 8 also has, understandably, generated considerable pre-release buzz. It won’t be that easy for Cupertino to stay ahead of Mountain View this time though!

 

AppBoard Tuesday – Legal Issues That Mobile App Developers Need to Be Wary Of

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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Tired bodies but happy minds and giggling faces – this is probably the perfect description of the Teks team this week. The Story Time Monsoon Camp that we were building up for over the last few weeks went ahead without a hitch, the participation figures were (let’s be frank here!) slightly beyond our expectations – and I would like to doff my hat (if I was wearing one, that is!) to the rain gods for staying away over the weekend too. Full event report and pictures are coming soon – right on this blog.

Anyway, let’s turn our attention back towards the nitty-gritty of mobile app development for the time being. Something that keeps bugging me – and I’m sure many of you are bothered by it as well – is the scant regard most mobile app developers have for legal issues and considerations. One of the biggest reasons behind app-rejection at iTunes is submission of plagiarized applications, while there are many other things that a professional developer needs to: a) be aware of, and b) abide by. Let’s take a quick look as to what these issues are, what say?:

 

  1. Intellectual property rights – You do all the hard work, and someone else simply saunters along and pinches your app concepts and designs. Not something you would like to happen, right? Be aware of the patents and copyrights that you should get on your app name, graphic designs, functions and other features. Of course, if you are developing apps for third-party clients, you will have to transfer these rights to them – once the app development projects are complete.
  2. You and your company need to be separate entities – I am the head of Teknowledge Software, but my company has a separate entity from mine. Ideally, your Android or iPhone application development company should be structured in the form of a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. If, God forbid, your business takes a nosedive – at least your personal belongings would remain safe.
  3. Collect only the data that matters – Representatives from any good mobile app agency are aware of the easy availability and the importance of app analytics (in other words, user-data). What’s often not emphasized is that, such data has to be handled extremely carefully. Do not keep collecting data for the heck of it – and preferably, let buyers know that the app is creating a database on their behavior, for providing better user-experience over time. Do not share user-data with any unauthorized person/company for purely commercial purposes. Violation of confidentiality can lead you to a legal soup, and damage your company’s goodwill forever.
  4. Think beyond boilerplate web pages – Mobile app companies need to have fast, easily accessible, detailed and informative websites. However, many developers feel that having a static ‘Terms & Conditions’/’Terms of Use’ page is all that’s required to protect the licence of their apps. This is a wrong, and potentially misleading approach to adopt. Each individual app should have its own license documents and manuals, explaining the functions it can and cannot perform (online and offline). A web page gives a macro-idea of your business policies – and you need to take care of the individual applications separately. Never overpromise and underdeliver!
  5. Be transparent in your financial transactions – Almost every company – be it in India, or in the United States or any other nation, offers free Android/iPhone app quotes to clients. Sadly, many of them have concealed fine print in their detailed service documents – which lead to hidden costs, and spiralling charges. You need to disclose your app development charges (at least, a fairly accurate estimate) at the very start. Remember, you can deceive a couple of customers and make good money from it – but the bad word-of-mouth publicity will ultimately ruin your business (let’s not even bring up the chances of penal actions here).
  6. Be aware of platform-specific regulations – The idea of offering handsome rewards/prizes to people who view and/or post fake reviews about your new app sounds pretty smart, right? The teeny-weeny li’l problem in this fraudulent practice is, your app will be banned/rejected at iTunes. Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone also have their own sets of regulations (although they are less stringent). Those who are into cross-platform mobile app development simply cannot afford to ignore these considerations.
  7. Agreements with freelancers – If your company hires mobile app developers on a freelance basis (in addition to those employed full-time), you need to be doubly careful about copyright issues. Ideally, you should draw up and get the freelancer(s) sign a detailed ‘Work-for-Hire Agreement’. This document would help you retain the intellectual property rights over the source codes and programs used for creating the apps. The agreement should be entered into before a freelancer starts working for you.
  8. Additional considerations while making kids’ apps – Making games and mobile apps for kids might seem easy at first – but they are, in fact, the trickiest. You should never ever include any in-app purchase/download options in a children’s app – without clearly mentioning it in the app documents. A kid is not supposed to know how and where money might be accidentally spent, and if parents find out that your app has such shady methods of earning money, your company might even be sued!
  9. Use of device resources – Some apps require access to mobile camera, others need to get data from contact lists, while there are many applications which need other resources of the users’ phones. This generally involves the inclusion of cookies by the apps on the smartphones/tablets on which they are installed. Make sure that your app is not accessing any user-data without asking for ‘permissions’ first. You should be aware of what app cookies are all about as well.
  10. Need for trademark for brand-creation – Our Story Time For Kids app is immensely popular – and we have recently started selling printed storybooks under the ‘Story Time’ brand name too. If you wish to leverage your app name as a brand for other products, you need to have a trademark on the former. Do not confuse the ‘trade name’ of your mobile software company with ‘trademarks’.

Before starting on any new app project, a thorough research is necessary – to ensure that similar apps do not already exist at the online stores (‘inspired’ apps, like the ones similar to ‘Flappy Bird’ might be successful, but you need not take such chances randomly). If you have a free app and wish to monetize it through in-app advertising, make sure that ads do not hamper user-experience. Staying transparent in your business policies and sticking to a strong code of ethics is an absolute must for any mobile application development agencies. Teknowledge Software values these principles above everything else.

 

Well then, that would be that for this week’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday. By the way, during the Independence Day weekend, our new iPhone app for kids – Kids’ Tiles – got accepted at iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kids-tiles/id898758246?ls=1&mt=8). Check it out and do give us your feedback. If you are in the app development business, please share any legal issues that your company might have faced in the past. We all learn from experiences.

 

AppBoard Tuesday will return next week – with another interesting aspect on mobile apps and their usage. Stay zapped with apps…and follow our blog for regular updates!

 

How Much Do You Know About Blackberry Phones?

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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In the United States alone, the total number of Blackberry users has slumped from 19 millions to less than 12 millions in the last five years. The scenario is pretty much similar in most other countries. As Blackberry gears up for a revival with Passport, we take a quick look at some information tidbits about the platform.

Will Blackberry survive the constant onslaught from Apple and Android (in particular), and be able to overcome its own recent debacles (read: the flop show of Z 10) – to become a force to reckon with in the global smartphone market once again? The answer depends a lot on the strategies that are being implemented by new company CEO John Chen. One thing is, however, beyond doubt – there is, still, no dearth of Blackberry fanboys/girls out there. For them, we present some fun and interesting facts about Blackberry phones:

 

  1. The debut – Blackberry announced itself in the handheld devices market with BB 850 – a 2-way pager – way back in 1999. The initial Blackberry handsets had somewhat boring monochrome displays. Devices with color screens were launched later. The focus was primarily on push-email functions – which is still the biggest USP of Blackberry.
  2. The lead over iPhones – Till 2009, Blackberry had a healthy 10%+ lead over Apple iPhone – as far as the battle between the smartphone biggies were concerned (34% against just a touch under 24%). Of course, things have undergone a sea-change over the last half a decade. Blackberry is now nowhere near the top, either in terms of market share (Android rules the roost) or profitability (iOS wins this round hands down).
  3. The Canadian origin – Professional mobile OS analysts and app development experts attribute the early popularity of Blackberry to the proficiency of its parent company ‘Research-in-Motion’ (RIM), based in Canada. RIM has been working on Blackberry projects since 1996, and for many years, did witness great success with its gadgets.
  4. The ‘Blackberry Thumb’ phenomenon – This one is for the really hardcore BB fans. From the mid to late 2000s, a new concept emerged in medical science – known as ‘Blackberry Thumb’. It referred to the pain/injury caused to the thumb of people, due to prolonged usage of mobiles and PDAs with QWERTY keyboards. Of course, as the popularity of Blackberry waned, this phenomenon started tapering off too.
  5. The story behind the name – It will always remain a mystery why Google names its Android versions after tasty desserts, or the reason behind Mac naming desktop OS editions after ‘big cats’. The motive behind naming RIM-devices ‘Blackberry’ is much more easily explainable. Almost all initial handsets were black, and the keyboards looked a lot like bunches of fruit seeds. Black and with seeds – that pointed to Blackberry!
  6. The Blackberry Internet Service user-base – Blackberry Internet Service, or BIS, has one of the most widespread presence among mobile web service providers. People from more than 90 different nations regularly subscribe to BIS plans. Blackberry internet is supported by around 510 mobile operators – a clear indication of its popularity.
  7. The biggest flops – While Blackberry totally aced with Pearl and Curve (arguably, the most successful line of BB phones) – the company has a fairly long tryst with flop products. Blackberry Playbook, which was hyped to be the next big thing in the tablet market, turned out to be a damp squib. The company’s first rival product to iPhone – Blackberry Storm – came in for scathing criticism due to built-in software glitches. Blackberry’s relatively recent decision to go the touchscreen way with Q10 and Z10 has not wowed anyone either.
  8. The meaning of Crackberry – If you happen to be a Blackberry-lover or even a general smartphone enthusiast, you must have come across the Crackberry website and/or seen several Crackberry forums and panels online. This term is derived from the capability of Blackberry phones to retrieve emails on a real-time basis anywhere, provided wi-fi is available. The ‘crack’ bit comes from the fact that this functionality of Blackberry is rather addictive!
  9. The app store – Apple has iTunes, Google has Play Store – and RIM has Blackberry App World for mobile app downloads. Recently rebranded as Blackberry World, it does not even come close to giving the the other two stores a fight. Both Play Store and iTunes have well over one million apps each, while the number of Blackberry apps (till April 2014) is less than 235000. Talks are on about Amazon applications being showcased in Blackberry World from this year – but it will be too naive to think that BB will get a massive boost from that.
  10. The Blackberry terminology – How many offshoots of the current worldwide buzzword ‘selfie’ are you familiar with? Well Blackberry too (during its heydey) had a number of phrases which referred to the actions/emotions of the device owners. Back in the 2000s, things like ‘Gasp-berrying’, ‘Aack-berrying’, and ‘Whiplash-berrying’ were pretty frequently heard. Oh, and if you forgot to carry your Blackberry phone outdoors, you were likely feel ‘Brax-berries’ (referring to the device’s vibrations)!
  11. The efficiency – There might be a thousand other problems with RIM Blackberry, but mobile app analysts are still convinced about the general efficiency features of its internet services. On average, BIS subscribers require around 1/3rd less of mobile data for browsing the internet (compared to most other mobile platforms). The browsing speed might not be the fastest, but it is good enough for most users.
  12. The change in market leadership – 2010 was the year when Blackberry shipped the most units in its history. Unfortunately, it was also the year when  Apple iPhone overtook it in terms of revenues and market share. Since then, iOS has galloped ahead, while BB has fallen further and further behind.
  13. The JavaScript and HTML support – First generation Blackberry phones had top-class messaging features and email support, but they did not support HTML or JavaScript. Users had to download and install third-party software to use such applications. Over time though, the usability features of Blackberry got enhanced significantly.
  14. The Academy Award – Nopes, no one bagged an Academy Award for designing a Blackberry device. However, the developer company did get an Academy Award in 1998, for a digital bar code scanner they had created as well. It made, justifiably, quite a bit of splash at the time.

Blackberry Passport, for which pre-bookings are now open, is being looked upon as the device that pulls BB out of its current mire. It is pretty difficult to point out a single factor behind Blackberry’s downward spiral over the last 3-4 years – although the relative paucity of Blackberry apps and the decision to focus more on touchscreen phones (a sector in which Android and iPhone already had healthy presence) would be strong contenders. None of the Blackberry 10 devices have done well till now – but we would love to see a revival from this heavily beleaguered company.

 

AppBoard Tuesday – 12 Lessons From Flappy Bird

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 that day of the week again! Hello everyone – and welcome to yet another edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT). Today, we’ll deliberate on a few insights that every professional mobile app developer needs to keep in sight, at all times. But hey, this is not going to be a ‘oh-God-that’s-so-boring’ tutorial for all our dear readers. We will be making our points with reference to that mobile game that went viral in early 2014 – Flappy Bird! Interesting, right? Read on.

A bit on what Flappy Bird is all about to start off with, what say? The game was launched in May last year, and witnessed a massive spurt in popularity in the first couple of months of 2014. Developed by Don Nguyen (a Vietnam-based developer), the game topped the download charts at both iTunes and Google Play Store in February. And then, the unthinkable happened – it was pulled out of stores by Nguyen, and the officially cited reason was that it was ‘too addictive’. From last week, Flappy Bird has become available on Amazon Fire TV though – so that’s a bit of good news for hardcore gamers.

 

Anyhow, time to find what the entire hullabaloo over Flappy Bird teaches us. Quite a lot actually:

  1. You don’t need to spend months to create a successful app – Don Nguyen developed Flappy Bird in the matter of a few weeks, that too, working on a part-time basis. All that he needed was an idea about what would appeal to the end-users, and he was definitely not wrong in his estimates. Similarly, if you are working on a really ambitious Android or iPhone app development project – it is not necessary that you spend months on end on it. Concepts that come to you spontaneously are often the best ones.
  2. You need to make engaging apps – It’s one thing to generate a lot of pre-release hype about your app, and actually managing to retain the users’ interest levels over a long time. Flappy Bird does (at least, used to do!) this in a very simple manner – there was no finish to the game. People could play on and on, manoeuvring the improbable looking birds across pipes and tubes. There was no chance of anyone feeling: ‘Okay, Game Over. Now I can uninstall this app.’
  3. Being patient is important – Flappy Bird is often looked upon as an overnight success. The truth, however, is it took quite a few months for gamers to actually warm up to it. The game debuted in May 2013, and only after 8-9 months did it really start becoming popular. Take a cue from this – and don’t get disheartened if your new app does not get massive download figures initially. It is always possible that things will pick up over time.
  4. Don’t be too finicky about mobile app designing – Well, this is not to say that you should just release boringly designed mobile applications. The point is, not all of your projects require the same level of nuanced of UI/UX designing. Flappy Bird, arguably, has some of the most tacky interface designs and gameplay options. The colors are pixelated, the app development graphics are strictly ho-hum – and there is nothing really ‘new’ about it. And still, it became the apple of most gamers’ eyes!
  5. Pose a challenge to your targeted users – Flappy Bird, upon release – drew quite a bit of flak, simply because it was an extremely tough game. It was well nigh impossible for a regular player to frequently surpass his/her previous high scores. Bird-crashes were common. Few realized that this was a deliberate ploy on the part of Nguyen, to get people hooked to the game. A gaming enthusiast would hear about how difficult Flappy Bird was, and would immediately try his/her hand on it. As the weeks proceeded, the worldwide user base of Flappy Bird burgeoned. Your app needs to be intriguing, and word-of-mouth (provided that it’s not too negative) publicity always helps.
  6. Make your app user-friendly – We do not ‘learn’ this from Flappy Bird – but the game definitely reiterates the importance of keeping the mobile app controls user-friendly. All that people had to do was tap on the screen, to keep the ‘flappy’ birds happily flapping along. You tap at the right times – and you will keep clearing challenges and obstacles. If anything, it was even simpler than Angry Birds (which is almost the benchmark for all gaming apps). Flappy Bird could, hence, even serve as a fun mobile apps for kids/toddlers. A free app which is very, very easy to operate – why wouldn’t people fall in love with it?
  7. Successful apps can be ‘heavily inspired’ from earlier applications – There can hardly be a better example than Flappy Bird for this. We have already mentioned that its UI was tacky and average at best. It also needs to be mentioned that the game was considerably inspired from Super Mario Bros (remember that delightfully retro Nintendo offering?). The old-fashioned 8-bit graphics were nothing to write home about – except, perhaps, bringing in a feel of nostalgia among users. Flappy Bird wasn’t plagiarized on anything, but its appearance was definitely not built from scratch. If you are working on a new mobile app project, and there are already popular apps that offer similar services – there is nothing wrong in ‘borrowing’ a few design pointers from them. Just make sure that you do not submit a blatantly copy-pasted job!
  8. That little guy called Luck – Trust us, that guy really matters in all types of information technology and software development projects (some would say luck plays a key role in all walks of life). Flappy Bird was a tough game, it had old-fashioned display screens, the game had no endings – and let’s face it, not much of technical genius had gone into its development. But luck (in the form of gamers) decided that this was the game that would receive adulation all across the globe. Never dismiss any app idea as ‘impossible’ or ‘too far-fetched’. Even if a project is ‘remotely feasible’, try to make it work. It might turn out to be a big winner – like Don Nguyen’s brainchild.
  9. You need not have loads of financial resources to make a hit app – Flappy Bird, published by .Gears Studios, did not have the backing of a big mobile apps company, like Supercell or Rovio (the creator of Angry Birds). Even so, the former managed to trump all its potential competitors – including the ones which had required considerably more monetary investment.  Nguyen learnt from the market, from his potential clients, from repeated app iterations, and ultimately, produced a great app on a shoestring budget.
  10. A free app can help you earn big money – If iTunes and Play Store still had Flappy Bird, Mr. Nguyen would have become a multi-millionaire by now. He really aced the mobile app monetization game, by making it free to download and depending solely on in-app advertisements. According to reports, Flappy Bird brought in daily revenues in the vicinity of $52000 – laying to rest all doubts about the wisdom of the adopted policy. Don’t be in a tearing hurry to make a paid app if you wish to make money – a free app with a smart advertising strategy, can, in fact, help you earn more.
  11. Don’t worry too much if others release apps that look like yours – Instead, take this as a compliment – and a sureshot sign that your app has indeed become a roaring success. Flappy Bird is no longer available now, but it has spawned (and is still spawning!) games like Fatty Bird and Gooing Up – which are pretty close to being absolute rip-offs (there are subtle differences though). If someone plagiarizes completely from you, take steps – but if others are launching mobile apps that are ‘almost similar’ to yours, feel happy!
  12. You are as successful as how well or badly your last app does – Rovio had close to 60 mobile gaming apps, before it shot to prominence with Angry Birds. Don Nguyen himself released several game-based applications prior to Flappy Bird – none of which tasted any significant success. This brings to light the importance of perseverance, learning from previous mistakes, and staying focused. Willingness to stay in the game is always a virtue for app developers.

All things said, remember that Flappy Bird was a one-off case – and simply making and releasing a clone of that game is not likely to be rewarding. What’s more, if you are not into mobile application development on a professional basis, you would do well to stay away from making such ‘addictive’, ‘tough’ apps (Nguyen could not handle the often hostile feedback he received from Flappy Bird users). As we have here pointed out, there are things to learn from the unexpected rise and the sudden disappearance of Flappy Bird from the stores. They should serve as reference points for mobile app experts – but they do not assure sureshot success. It all boils down to whether people love what you have offered to them.

 

And that, readers, brings us to the end of this week’s AppBoard Tuesday. If you have played Flappy Bird (most people have, at least once!), do write in to let us know how your experience with the game was. We keep learning from your feedback, suggestions and helpful tips.

Story Time Monsoon Camp - Poster 3

As you are almost surely aware, the Story Time Monsoon Camp kicks off in 9 days from now. If you have not registered your kid for the camp yet – do so by visiting www.storytimeforkids.info, and leaving your contact details there. There’s a lot of fun waiting for your little one!

 

There will be a one-week gap before ABT returns (that’s right, no edition will be published on August 12). Until we are back on the 19th, stay zapped with….what else…apps!

 

Android 5.0: 14 Features We Would Love To See

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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Google faces a two-fold challenge regarding its new mobile OS – Android 5.0 (or, as the developer preview has been named, Android L). For starters, it has to make sure that the version remains much more attractive than Tizen – Samsung’s home-grown operating system. Android 5.0 needs to be at par with Apple’s iOS 8 – also set to make its commercial debut soon – as well. Here are a few features that should ideally be present on the new OS from Google.

Will it be ‘Lollipop’? Will it be ‘Key Lime Pie’? Well, the successor to Android KitKat (unveiled on the 25th of June) is yet to get a final name – although it is practically certain that the selection would be between these two options. For the time being, it is simply being referred to as Android L, and its developer previews have won appreciation from mobile software analysts and testers worldwide. Before Android 5.0 becomes commercially available in a few months’ time, here is a list of features we wish to see in it:

 

  1. A smarter Google Now: Make no mistake – when it comes to internet-related searches, Android’s Google Now mobile digital assistant is still streets ahead of its iOS rival, Siri. However, the latter trumps Google Now, when it comes to more intuitive tasks and queries. In the soon-to-release edition of the Android platform, it would be great to see Google Now having the capability of understanding and completing native tasks, just as Siri does.
  2. A new Google Notes application: App development experts feel that the popularity of Android would get a huge fillip among users – if Lollipop/Key Lime Pie comes with a dedicated notes app. It should be something on the lines of Evernote. The developers at Google should make it compatible with the Calendar application. If someone has multiple Gmail accounts, all of them have to be brought under the same hood.
  3. A card-based interface: Initial previews indicate that flat designs are going to be among the chief highlights of the upcoming version of Android. Let’s just hope that the Google developers persist with it when the platform finally hits the markets. With iOS 8 also reportedly going for a flatter user-interface, Android cannot afford to lose out on the design game!
  4. Lockscreen with third-party widget compatibility: Lockscreen widgets made their debut on Android JellyBean (4.2), and it’s high time they got an upgrade. In particular, mobile users would be highly convenienced if the default lockscreen of Android 5.0 was compatible with third party widgets and external mobile apps. Of course, native apps like Gmail, Photos, Sound Search and other native applications of Google should continue to be supported.
  5. More efficient contact lookups: No one likes to browse through scores of names, to find and call a person. If a smart dialer is present on the new Android version, finding a specific contact number would become a matter of a few taps. In addition, mobile software development experts feel that Google should consider including a T9 dialer in the upcoming Android platform.
  6. Personalized themes: Tweaking root-level codes/files is required to provide customized themes – and that’s not likely to happen in Android 5.0. But hey, this is a wishlist, so we’ll just cram in this one as well. Customized themes, if and when they come along, would allow people to add their own widgets, sounds, colors and other personalized elements to their smartphones. Are the technicians at Google listening?
  7. More standardized hardware across devices: This probably is another pipe dream, but it is something Google should look into pretty soon. General Android fans as well as mobile application developers have often highlighted the discrepancies in the display properties of apps on standard smartphones and phablets. Google should provide original equipment manufacturers (OEM) a standard set of hardware and resolution levels to work with. More uniformity across devices would surely help.
  8. Handsfree recognition: Google acquired Viewadle way back in October 2012. This gives it a fair chance to be able to include touch-free gesture recognition features for pictures and videos in the new Android version. In addition, users would love it if new Android devices can be unlocked without actually handling them. Since Google has already experimented with Blink and similar recognition software, handsfree features might be integrated for mobile games as well.
  9. Video chatting during calls: To make Key Lime Pie/Lollipop a success, Google can very well take a few cues from its biggest rival, Apple Inc. For instance, the latest version of the Android platform should have a video chatting facility (via Google Hangouts) which can be used during a voice call. iOS app developers highlight that such integration is one of the best points about iPhones – and there is no earthly reason why Android cannot replicate it.
  10. Improved photo effects and editing: There’s very little to complain about the 16MP camera of Samsung Galaxy S5 phones – but the same cannot be said about the Google Nexus handsets. With Samsung going the Tizen way for its next series of phones (Samsung Z has already been formally announced), the onus is on the Android developers to shore up the camera features on the platform. Jelly Bean and KitKat do offer select photo editing options, but there is a lot of scope for bolstering these features.
  11. Continued focus on better battery performance: Android 4.1 introduced us to Project Butter, the 4.3 update came with sensor features and seamless wi-fi scanning – and people would definitely like to see more such battery-saving software add-ons in Android 5.0. There has to be a way in which people can install as many mobile apps as they want, without causing excessive battery drain. Time for the Google experts to figure out the ‘smartphone battery’ puzzle!
  12. A better Swype keyboard: Yet another feature that is already present on existing Android versions, but is crying out for improvement. For instance, it is not possible to edit words from earlier sentences – without having to rewrite those words completely. The touch features are okay on the Swype keyboard, but it can certainly do with a dash of more user-friendliness.
  13. Option to control automatic updates: Many Android fans love the automatic updates feature – but there are plenty of people who prefer having more control. It would be nice on the part of Google to make sure that users get the option to pick which updates they would like to receive on their phones. That way, the phones would remain faster too.
  14. Looking beyond Google Plus: Well, it would be naive to expect Google not promoting Plus on the soon-to-release version of Android. However, the platform should offer enhanced compatibility with Twitter and Facebook (both the mobile site and the messenger) as well. Smartphone-users almost invariably look for a rich social media experience, and a myopic concentration on Google Plus is not going to be enough.

 

Android L won’t be, in all likelihood, released before the launch of Samsung Z – since the Google technicians would definitely like to check out the features of the much-hyped Tizen OS first. The device penetration shares of KitKat have not been as impressive as that of Jelly Bean – another issue that needs to be looked into. Android 5.0 will probably be debuting (with a finalized name!) sometime in the fourth quarter of 2014. We would love to see as many of the above features in it as possible.