Monthly Archives: April 2016

Top 16 Mobile Educational Apps For Kids

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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According to a Statista report, games were by far the most popular category of apps at the Apple App Store (March 2016). It had a download share of a shade under 23% (more than double of the share of business apps (10.3%) – the second-most popular category). At the Google Play Store too, games and apps for kids are hugely in demand. With education technology advancing at a rapid clip and learning processes becoming more sophisticated than ever before, parents and teachers generally recommend the use of mobile educational apps/games for children – of which there are many on both the iOS and Android platforms. Here are some of the best of such apps:

 

  1. Disney Story Central – Developing a healthy reading habit is a great thing for kids, and what better to capture the attention of the little ones than the cute, timeless Disney characters? This innovatively created iPhone/iPad storytelling app for kids offers a large stack of ebooks, with several of the most popular Disney characters. A bit of gaming fun is also blended in, with the reader’s bookworm gaining trophies and rewards over time. The voice narration feature is excellent too, and the app also gives custom book recommendations.
  2. DragonBox Algebra 5+ – The name says it all. Available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone, DragonBox Algebra is the perfect mobile learning app for kids who are terrified of mathematical equations (and there’s plenty of them!). To progress, the young learners have to balance algebraic equations – which, obviously, become more and more challenging. The best thing about this maths app is that, it helps in bolstering the critical thinking capacity of kids, apart from improving their problem-solving skills. The smooth in-app navigation further heightens the app’s attractions.
  3. Zoo Alphabet – How about getting your child acquainted with all the animals seen in zoos, in a fun and interactive way? This colorful picture app for kids allows you to do just that! There are a host of lovely illustrations, accompanied with fairly realistic animal sounds and nice background music. The lively animations, in particular, deserve a special mention – and there are puzzles too, which kids can solve. Zoo Alphabet helps the little ones to correctly spell the names of different animals as well.
  4. Fish School HD – Probably the most innovative iPad educational app for kids on this list. In the application, children can view many brightly coloured fish, all combining to teach shapes and colours and letters and even numbers to the young ones. The controls are simple and kid-friendly, and although it is a paid app ($1.99) – it is more than worth its price as a handly mobile learning tool for preschoolers.
  5. Story Time For Kids – Multiple prestigious app awards (Adobe Design Award, GMASA 2015, etc.) bear testimony to the sheer brilliance of this engaging mobile storytelling app for kids (available on iOS and Android). Many classic fairytales as well as original short stories are available for free in the app, while additional books can be downloaded via in-app purchase. The parental control feature ensures that there are no accidental downloads. Right from the top-notch illustrations, audio narrations and text-highlighting, to the host of games, puzzles and other activities – this mobile app has what it takes, to keep kids happily reading along!
  6. Kids ABC Letters – Another alphabet-learning app for children, that makes recognizing the English letters a whole lot of fun. The actual learning process takes place in two alternative ways – kids can either see and learn alphabets from their usage in words, or join puzzle pieces to trace out the shape of the letters. The ‘lite’ version of Kids ABC letters allow children to learn up to the letter ‘H’. For gaining full access to all the letters, parents have to get the complete version of the app, at $3.99.
  7. Habitat The Game – Instead of conventional learning, this iPhone/Android game for kids focuses more on the basic, essential life skills. An absolutely adorable polar bear has to be adopted by children using this app, and apparently tricky tasks have to be performed. The aim of the mobile app developers behind Habitat is to help kids realize the importance of things like saving water, conserving electricity, and keeping the overall environment clean. Now, parents can imbibe healthy habits in their little ones without being preachy!
  8. Handwriting Without Tears – A spinoff of the hugely popular handwriting game of the same name, Handwriting Without Tears allows kids learn how to write English alphabets in the easiest possible manner. The makers of this wonderful app have included a virtual board on the app, on which learners can write the letters with their virtual chalks. Every letter has to be traced thrice – and there are detailed visual and voice instructions to guide the kids along (the support decreases as kids start to make less errors while writing). Successfully completing a letter three times generates a cool letter card as reward. The built-in progress bar also allows parents to keep a tab on how much their children have learnt and whether they are facing problems with any particular letter(s).
  9. Dexteria Dots 2 – At first glance, this might seem like just another dots game for kids – but a closer inspection would reveal its considerable educational benefits. In this iOS app for children, every dot is a number, and kids have to work with these dots to solve questions. The animations are simplistic, and the use of vibrant colours in the app works in its favour as well. A cool app to start learning numbers!
  10. What’s The Sound/My First Sounds – These two apps are equally good in familiarizing young ones with everyday sounds of the world (although My First Sounds has a larger database of sounds than What’s The Sound). Different high-quality sounds of animals, transports, musical instruments, nursery rhymes, and a whole lot more are neatly categorized in these apps. Every sound is associated with the picture of the thing that generates it – helping kids relate the sounds with their sources.
  11. Alien Assignment – Great reviews and high user-ratings – this unique mobile problem-solving app for kids has it all, and deservedly so. The app flows in the form of a story, where children have to join up with a cute alien family and solve a series of challenging problems and adventures. The reward for this? A return to their home planet!
  12. Plants by Tinybop – Knowing about the wildlife and the variety of flora & fauna therein becomes easier and more fun than ever before with this beautifully designed kids’ mobile application. The app serves as an interactive game, where children can do stuff like quicken up the passage of time – and see the effect of the different seasons on the plants. The cloud shapes can be brought together to generate amazing lightning effects too. Plants by TinyBop offers extensive learning resources and great adventure fun – all rolled into one!
  13. Kids Tiles – Another engrossing mobile application that helps children get familiar with the shapes and pictures of a whole lot of things – right from gadgets and animals, to transports, colours and even parts of the human body. The gameplay involves the child reading the instructions on the device screen (say, ‘herbivores’ under ‘Animals’) and tapping on the correct pictures. There are three different gameplays (‘Rise’, ‘Sink’, ‘Play & Rise’), and the objective of the game is to tap correctly and prevent the pictures from reaching the other end of the screen. Learning while playing – that’s what Kids Tiles is all about.
  14. Thinkrolls 2 – Think that toddlers cannot understand the basics of physics? If yes, chances are that you have not yet tried the Thinkrolls 2 mobile app. The mobile app development team behind this app has made it available for both Android and iOS (along with Kindle Fire). As many as 6 separate accounts can be set up in the app, and kids can take their pick between the ‘easy’ and the ‘hard’ game settings. Simple physics-related problems are presented in the app (with delightfully designed characters), which will get the young ones thinking. Successfully solving a problem unlocks new ball characters.
  15. Read Me Stories – Yet another extremely user-friendly and well-stacked mobile storytelling application for kids. Just like the Story Time For Kids app (listed above), Read Me Stories also comes with useful text-highlighting and voice-narration options. Adding to the charms of this Android/iPhone reading app is the fact that one new book is added every day to it. Even if your child is not a big fan of reading, Read Me Stories will transform him/her into one.
  16. Balloony Word – This has to be one of the funniest and most engaging spelling and word-making mobile game going around (a smart spin-off from Hangman?). A lovely little gorilla, holding a few colourful letter balloons in hand, is seen floating on the app screen, and kids have to solve spelling challenges to prevent it from falling. The cool illustrations and sheer simplicity of the app add brownie points to it. Balloony Word is indeed a great vocabulary-enhancer for preschoolers.

 

‘Marble Math Junior’ and ‘Math On The Farm’ are two other well-reviewed number-learning apps for kids available in stores. If your son/daughter has a creative bent of mind, (s)he would like apps like ‘Pixie’ and ‘Colouring Pages For Kids’. Mobile educational apps are not, and nor are they supposed to be, substitutes of classroom teaching. However, apps like these can certainly give toddlers a headstart in their learning endeavours!

 

AppBoard Tuesday – How Do Successful Mobile App Entrepreneurs Go About Their Job?

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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Mobile app development is great as a career option – only if you know what you are doing. Success stories of popular apps are splashed about in the media, but there is no dearth of startup companies which go bust within a few quarters. According to a Fueled report, only 1 out of every 4 iOS app developers have a monthly earning figure in excess of $5000. The stats are even more damning on the Android platform, where a mere 16% of all developers manage to hit the same monthly income mark. In this week’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT), we will do a round-up of some day-to-day habits of successful app entrepreneurs. We follow these, and we hope they will be of use to you too:

 

  1. Start simple – It’s always great to land big app projects, and it’s a wonderful achievement to do a good job on them (trust me, I’d know!). However, to kickstart things – mobile app entrepreneurs need to focus on relatively small, simple apps, which can be completed in 6 to 8 weeks flat. This strategy helps in building a decent portfolio within a short span of time, and puts an app agency in a good position to take up more challenging projects later on.
  2. Managing remote teams – For app development agencies with overseas branches, this is vital. The onus is on the CEO or the entrepreneur of a mobile app company to keep a tab on the day-to-day operations at the other branches/chapters of his/her organization. It has to be ensured that the teams at the different branches are working in sync, and the entire organization is progressing as a result of their efforts.
  3. Learn to let go of ideas – Well…ideas are the stepping stones for making mobile apps, so this might seem just a tad strange. The fact, however, remains that top mobile app entrepreneurs are always aware that all of their ideas will not be viable – and neither are they naive enough to still cling on to, and waste money, time and effort on, these ideas. Always study the competition and analyze whether it would be worth trying to transform your idea to an actual application (for instance, with the zillions of chat apps in the stores, making ‘just another’ IM app won’t make much sense). At times, you will have to let go of some ideas you are passionate about…for the greater good.
  4. Study the app store everyday – Without proper research and analysis, mobile app development (like any other field of activity, for that matter) is akin to running into a blind lane. App entrepreneurs who wish to make a mark invariably keep some time aside everyday to study the iTunes store as well as the Google Play Store (let’s not bring in the Blackberry and Windows platforms in the discussion here). Apart from monitoring the download count of their own apps, an eye has to be kept on the app reviews that users leave. These give a fair idea about how people feel about the applications, and whether they have any particular grievances or advice. In addition, the trends in the ‘top free apps’ and the ‘top paid apps’ lists have to be tracked regularly. This helps senior developers take an informed decision on the type of apps their company should concentrate on making in the foreseeable future.
  5. Build for the non-geeks – You are a mobile app developer…and absolute programming wizard. So, brimming with confidence, you and your team make a complex, highly advanced application (with all sorts of Objective-C and/or Swift codes) – an app that has many features. Will it be a hit among users? 9 out of 10 times, the answer will be ‘NO’ – simply because the poor souls – being non-software experts like yourself – won’t have any idea what your app is all about, how it should be used, and what its advantages are. At the end of the day, you are making apps for general users – and it’s their preferences that have to be given prerogative.
  6. Flop apps make for good case studies – Remember the time when we had talked about the so-called ‘zombie apps’ – the ones that have zero visibility and languish at the bottom of the charts? Experienced mobile app entrepreneurs advise not to ignore such flop applications altogether. Ideally, app-makers should study such unsuccessful applications closely, jot down the mistakes/bugs/user-problems they have, and make sure that these are not replicated in their own apps. There’s a lot to learn from apps that fail too!
  7. Design matters – On this blog, we have repeated time and again that developers should never try to double up as mobile app designers as well. It’s up to the CEOs of app companies to appreciate the fact that graphic designing is a specialized field of work – and to be successful, they need to recruit separate teams of such creative experts (graphic artists, animators, etc.). Neat, flat, uncomplicated designs work on two counts – a) they make a good first impression on users who download the apps, and b) they enhance the chances of the apps getting featured at the stores. If you are trying to get the coding and the designing done by the same group of people (in a bid to cut costs), you are barking up the wrong tree.
  8. The importance of documentation - Underrated, but very, very important. The top experts from the fields of iOS and Android app development generally have the habit of maintaining journals, where they jot down everything – right from app ideas and rough wireframe sketches, to app marketing strategies and corporate roadmaps. Regular documentation serves as a self-addressed memos to entrepreneurs – and, if and when required, the facts written down can be arranged in the form of presentations as well.
  9. Underpromise. Overdeliver – A time-tested, surefire way to make clients go ‘wow’. A nuanced mobile app entrepreneur would never commit the folly of making false promises to the clients – promises that they will not be able to live up to. Assess how long an app project is going to take, the approximate expenses that would be involved, and the quality of the app your team will be able to make (given the time-frame and the funds). Mark down a deadline for the completion of the project, and finish off the job about a week early (whenever possible) – without, of course, compromising the project in any way. Prompt, quality service is always lauded…empty promises reek of unprofessionalism.
  10. Know all that there is to know about app store optimization - All the hard work of your app developers can go down the drain, if your ASO (app store optimization) techniques are not good enough. Before submitting an app at the store, make sure that the name, logo and screenshots have been chosen and presented well, and the app descriptions are well-written and optimized with relevant keywords. Simply making a ‘good app’ no longer cuts it – you need to market it well.
  11. Stay in touch with users – Ask yourself something – when you face a problem with your mobile, would you like to approach a ‘faceless’ support team for help, or an actual individual? The answer is a no-brainer, and that’s precisely why CEOs of leading mobile app companies across the world constantly endeavour to maintain a connection with the users of their apps. Personally replying to support emails and phone calls doubles up as a ‘delight factor’ for people as well - after all, they do not always expect the CEO him/herself to respond to their queries.
  12. Get started, be confident and brush off failures – Even the best mobile app agency in the world cannot boast of a 100% success record. Nor is it possible for a startup to make big money on the first set of applications it releases. The key here is to not procrastinate too much and get started with the development process as quickly as possible (create and release minimum-viable-products (MVPs)). Believe in what you are doing, stay clear-sighted, and be prepared to face roadblocks – in the form of app failures. Learn from your mistakes, and move on. The top app entrepreneurs have one quality in common – they are very, very persistent with what they do.
  13. Stay inspired. Inspire others – One of the most important duties of an entrepreneur is to motivate and inspire his/her team of app-makers to perform at the best of their abilities. For this, (s)he himself has to constantly inspire him/herself – and there is no better way to do that, than attending workshops, listening to lectures, reading motivational books (not necessarily on mobile app development) and the like. Share your learnings with your co-workers. It will do them a world of good.
  14. Be honest – The corporate world has more than its fair share of sham companies and fraudsters, out to make quick bucks. It is only natural that a client will be wary of discussing an app idea with a third-party mobile app developer company. This is where the business transparency and code of ethics followed by an app entrepreneur comes into the picture. Make sure that the free app quote you provide is detailed and properly customized, be prepared to sign non-disclosure agreements (if required), respect the intellectual property rights of your clients, and make the app just the way they want. Earn your fees…don’t just look to make money.

 

Following the release of an iPhone/Android app, it is on the entrepreneur to monitor the app analytics and the initial reviews coming in. Constant testing of mobile apps, on new platforms, is also essential. To stay in the news, you also have to release updated versions of your app (apart from bug-fixes, if needed) at regular intervals. An app that remains static for too long is an app that fails.

This brings us to the conclusion of yet another edition of AppBoard Tuesday. Let us know if you have any other tip or suggestion for aspiring mobile app entrepreneurs. We love to constantly learn, and learning from our readers is something we really look forward too.

AppBoard Tuesday will return next week, with another issue related to making mobile apps. Till that time then…love thy apps!

 

Make An iOS App With Xamarin: Steps & Tips

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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How to use Xamarin to make iOS applications?

 

Even before it was acquired by Microsoft in February this year, Xamarin was a fairly popular framework for cross-platform mobile app development. The total number of developers worldwide using the tool had touched the 1 million mark last year itself (from almost 125 countries). The fact that Microsoft plans to make the coding tools and resources of Xamarin open-source (as announced at the Build Conference) is almost certain to pull up its popularity even further. The framework uses C# for coding and compiling applications, and in today’s discussion, we will highlight how you can make an iOS app with Xamarin:

  1. Prepare your system – Before downloading Xamarin.iOS, iPhone app developers need to get the latest iOS SDK and the Xcode IDE (Xcode 7.3) on their Mac systems. To serve as the build host, the system needs to be upgraded to OS X 10.10 Yosemite or later versions. Coders have the option of getting the newest Xcode version from the Mac app store or the official iOS Developer Center.
  2. Install Xamarin.iOS – Once the system components are ready, you can now proceed to the installation of the Xamarin Unified Installer. It is available for download at http://xamarin.com/download – and the installer has the property of detecting all the components required for building apps with it. Double-clicking the logo of Xamarin installer starts the actual download process. A pop-up alert message might appear at the start (select ‘Open’), and the license agreements have to be accepted. Next up, select the components of Xamarin you wish to download. For iOS app development, developers need Xamarin.iOS and Mac (the third component is Xamarin.Android, required for making custom Android applications). You also have to download Xamarin Studio.
  3. Activate your Xamarin account – First-time users of the Xamarin tool need to register themselves first, at store.xamarin.com and then log in to their accounts. Once the correct sign in credentials are provided, the Xamarin account will become active (a message – ‘Your license has been activated on this machine’ – appears). That’s it, you are now ready to make a sample iOS app with the framework.

Note: Xamarin can also be installed on Windows PCs (Windows 7 or later). A Mac OS system has to be networked with it, for installing Visual Studio and making the components function properly.

  1. Launch Xamarin Studio and get to work – On the Xamarin Studio window (launch it from Spotlight or the Applications folder), you will find a ‘New Solution’ tab on the top left corner. Click on it, and select the app template on the pop-up window that appears next. Experts from the domain of mobile app development generally advise new Xamarin users to start off with a Single-View app (select this after choosing ‘App’ under ‘iOS’ in the left column). You will also see that there are options to build OpenGL, SpriteKit, Metal and SceneKit games with Xamarin.
  2. Move to app configuration – Beside the ‘Single View App’ option you had selected in the previous step, you will find a drop-down list of programming languages. Check whether C# is selected there (if not, select it). Leave the default values of ‘Target’, ‘Identifiers’ and ‘Device’ as they are. Don’t forget to name your app at this stage (let’s say, ‘Projecta_ios’).

Note: The ‘Target’ option here refers to the minimum version of iOS that you want your app to support. For instance, if you wish to make the app compatible with only iOS 8 and above platforms, select ‘iOS 8’ from ‘Target’.

  1.  Choose project name and location – A straightforward step, where you need to a) name your project, and b) choose where it would be stored. A common mistake that many iPhone app development experts make over here is adding special characters (which are not supported) in the project name. You cannot include spaces either. Ideally, leave the location path as default, and click the ‘Create’ button below.
  2. Move on to the Storyboard – App developers working with Xamarin have to navigate to Solution Pad section of the framework. The Main.Storyboard file is located here. Double click on the file to start working on the visual features of your app’s user interface. Make sure that the size classes are already activated.

Note: Developers making iOS apps with Xamarin will also have to uncheck Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin Insights.

  1. Add labels and modify text property – On the design surface, iOS developers can drag and drop new text labels (generated by typing the word ‘label’ in the search area of Toolbox). The label can be resized by changing its ‘Dragging Handles’, i.e., the circles that are visible around it. Once the correct size is chosen, coders can alter the Text Property from the ‘Properties Pad’.
  2. Make use of the Component Store – For app-makers working on iOS applications with Xamarin, the Component Store comes in really handy. It can be accessed from Xamarin Studio as well as Visual Studio – and does not depend on the type/template of app you had initially chosen. There is a separate Xamarin Components Manager, which stores all the downloaded components (for new users, this will be blank). Developers have to log on to their Xamarin accounts to access the Component Store.
  3. Add button(s) – For the very first iOS app built with Xamarin, a couple of buttons should be enough. For this, you have to select a Button from ‘Toolbox’, drag it to the design area, and change its ‘Title’ property and ‘Name’ property (from ‘Properties Pad’). Adjust the height and width of the button so that it matches the label(s) you have created earlier. Avoid adding too many buttons, since that can make matters confusing.
  4. View your app – Okay then – now it’s time to check out how your app is looking like. On the design toolbar, you will find a ‘View As’ option. Select your target iOS version here, and change the ‘Generic’ option (selected by default) to the device you wish to see your application on (say, iPhone 6). If any feature seems out of place, make the necessary changes at this stage.
  5. Create an empty C# class – While coding for iPhone apps with Xamarin, a blank C# class is required for replacing the template codes. The class can be created by clicking on General → Empty Class (do not forget to name the file). Remove the template code and paste your own app code in its place, and save the .cs file. Wire up all the components (for example, buttons) to ensure that they are working properly.
  6. Build your app – Things are now set for you to compile your code. Select ‘Build → Build All’ to start the compilation. If there are any errors, you will be prompted about them – and will have to go back to the concerned section(s) to rectify the problems. If everything is okay and code compiles successfully, a ‘Build Successful’ message is generated.
  7. Fill up the iOS Application Target section – Over here, developers have to put in the name of their apps as well as the ‘Bundle Identifier’. Since we have created a test app over here, the ‘Build’ and ‘Version’ can both be set to 1.0. Specify the correct value for the ‘Deployment Target’as well. From the drop down list next to ‘Devices’, select ‘iPhone/iPad’.
  8. Use the simulator to test your app – The importance of thorough mobile app testing cannot be overemphasized. In the Xamarin IDE, testing an app is easy enough – thanks to the presence of a built-in simulator. From the drop down menu near the top of the window, choose ‘Debug’, select the device simulator you want to test your app on (say, iPhone 6 iOS 8.3), and click ‘Start’ (the arrow button).

That’s it – your first Xamarin.iOS app is now ready. The framework also allows developers create apps for Apple Watch with WatchKit and the Xamarin.iOS SDK. One of the biggest advantages of the tool is that it depends only on C# – providing coders with a way out from learning Obj-C, Swift and Java (for Android). Even though native app development has certain extra benefits, working with Xamarin is something that mobile developers should learn well.

 

Android N: 14 New Features And Highlights

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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Most important features of Android N

 

The adoption rates of the latest Android versions (unlike the iOS releases) are never anything to write home about. According to a Forbes report, Android 6.0 MarshMallow currently has a device share of a measly 4.6% – and that’s after coming off an extremely slow start. Android Lollipop and KitKat remain the two most popular versions of the platform (with 36% and 33% shares respectively). Interestingly, in the first year of their release, the adoption rates of these versions were also low.

 Google sprung a surprise last month, by announcing the first developer preview of Android N (yep, the name is still undecided). This is the first time an Android version has been announced so early in its ‘active development’ cycle. In today’s discussion, we will take a look at some of the new features and points of note about Android N:

 

  1. Availability on devices – The first developer preview of Android 7.0 has, understandably, limited compatibility. Android app developers can download and test the build on select Nexus devices – like Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, along with Pixel C, Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. Following the final release, Android N will gradually be rolled out to other manufacturers and carriers. Sundar Pichai will obviously be showcasing the new Android version at this year’s Google I/O event (18-20 May) – but the earlier-than-expected announcement has given developers the chance to get a first-hand feel right now.
  2. Revamped Notifications – The notifications panel in Android N has been almost entirely overhauled. Users can now reply to a message from the notification itself – thanks to the presence of the RemoteInput API (which is also there on Android Wear). In addition, a convenient dropdown toggle bar has been added to the right of the screen, which lets people expand the panel when required. All notifications from the same app can now be ‘bundled’ in a single line – ensuring smarter use of the screen real estate. On top of the notifications shade, the tabs and icons have also been highlighted more.
  3. All-new Battery Saver Mode – With smartphones being notoriously troublesome with their battery performance (particularly for heavy users and gamers), wouldn’t it be just great if it was possible to keep track of the pace at which the battery of a phone is getting drained? Well, the Android N version allows users to do just that, with the help of a chart. More importantly, the extremely useful Battery Saver Mode can now be activated directly from the Notifications section, by tapping the icon and then toggling the battery saver to ‘On’.
  4. The next level of multitasking – Google calls this the ‘Multi-Window Support’ – and the feature is, according to general users and Android developers alike, one of the most exciting features of the new platform. Apart from using two applications side-by-side on phone/tablet screens simultaneously, people are also given the opportunity to drag-and-drop either to or from any application(s). A divider is placed between the apps, which can be used to resize the space taken up by each active application. The feature gets even more innovative on Android TV, where people can now view stuff while using other apps (the Picture-in-Picture mode). Of course, if the split-screen feature is disabled, single apps can be viewed in full-screen mode.
  5. Arrival of the Night Mode – Lots of (mostly positive) reports are coming in about the ‘Night Shift’ feature in iOS 9.3. The ‘Night Mode’ feature in Android 7.0 – which was, incidentally, first announced with the first preview of Marshmallow – is not the same thing, but it is a mighty useful feature in its own right. Present in the system UI tuner of the platform, Night Mode in Android N has three different options – for toggling to a dark aesthetic, adding orange-coloured shades to remove blue wavelengths, and for tweaking the screen brightness features. The fact that Night Mode is accessible from Quick Settings makes it all the more easy to use.
  6. Call screening and number block – For the first time, Android N has brought the Number-Blocking option as a core/native feature of the platform. The support for number block and screening of apps will be extensive – covering all native applications as well as most third-party apps (reading/writing to and from such apps will be possible). If a user does a ‘Backup and Restore’ on his/her Android device, the blocked numbers will remain as such after the system restore. The feature also opens up the opportunity for Android app developers to create apps for a larger range of devices.
  7. Project Svelte – There are no two ways of saying this – Android’s Project Volta (to save battery life of phones) was a flop show. Google has come up with another new project on Android N – called Project Svelte – which also aims at adding some extra battery juice, by significantly reducing background activities of apps. For this, three broadcasts have been done away with. Previously, each time the camera application on an Android phone was launched, apps requested for Action_New_Video and Action_New_Picture. These are no longer necessary – and neither is the Connectivity_Action broadcast (apps called it when there was a change of network connectivity, i.e., mobile data to wifi). Project Svelte, if properly implemented, can indeed help users cut down on battery drainage quite a bit. It should not turn out to be a turkey like Project Volta.
  8. Doze gets a facelift – Software testers and those who make custom Android apps have given the thumbs-up to the improvements in the Doze Mode which Google is rolling in with Android N. Unlike on previous Android versions, this battery-saving feature will get activated not only when a device is STATIONARY, but every time the screen goes to sleep. For instance, a phone is in the user’s pocket, is not being used, but is still not completely stationary (say, (s)he is traveling). The Doze Mode will work in such cases too, to preserve phone battery.
  9. Redesigned Settings – Just like the Notifications, the Settings menu of Android N has been changed quite a bit. Of particular note is the re-arrival of the hamburger menu – which, according to users and mobile app developers, is particularly useful when someone has moved down several sub-menus while navigating (no need to constantly tap the ‘Back’ button now). Most important information and notifications have been stacked in the top-level of the Settings menu (for example, available wifi networks). A separate Suggestions menu – which works in a drop-down format – has also been added. Notifications and Sounds have been given separate sections. This is yet another improvement over Android 6.0 Marshmallow – where these are all clubbed together.
  10. App drawer and the Camera app – Rumors had been rife on many online Android app development forums, regarding how Google was planning to remove the app drawer in the latest version of its mobile platform. That, thankfully, has not happened – and users can still pull down and use the app drawer. Also, you can now go to the Quick Settings drawer and press the Flashlight icon, to launch the Camera application. The absence of a dedicated Camera tab here seems a trick missed – but this arrangement is not bad either.
  11. Just-In-Time compiler – An extremely useful new feature in Android 7.0 N. To bolster the Ahead-Of-Time compiler in ART, Google has brought in a Just-In-Time compiler in the system. The JIT and AOT will complement each other, to provide profile-guided compilation services. This, in turn, promises a host of advantages for final users – right from better (and faster) app performance and enhanced battery efficiency, to quicker app & system updates and elimination of addition footprint (of apps) in devices.  The best methods of each app gets cached for optimal performance every time.
  12. Additional discounts for developers using Pixel C – As already stated above, Android N is still in ‘active development’, and Google has only released a developer preview (and not a test version for general Android users) of the platform. A $150 discount has been announced on the Pixel C tablet, to motivate Android app-makers check out the build on the device. Beta versions of Android N for consumers will be released as the final launch date of the version (in the third quarter of the year) draws near.
  13. DPI Scaling feature – A font size-changing option that was present in earlier Android versions, and has been significantly improved in the upcoming Android 7.0 platform. App developers have confirmed that DPI Scaling works right across the entire interface of devices – allowing users to make the text on screen smaller (to fit more information in the display) or larger (ideal for those who have sight-related problems). Changing font-size dynamically is a great new addition to the platform.
  14. No more factory images – Google has built in the Android Beta Program with the new version of its mobile platform. Instead of having to do with flashing factory images of the preview, developers can directly get the beta version over-the-air (OTA) by signing up for the program and mentioning the device(s) they need the beta for. With more than five months to go before the launch of the final version of Android N, this offers the opportunity to identify and report bugs at an early stage, so that they can be sorted out quickly. The Android Beta Program also brings more developers into the fold.

 

With Google moving over to OpenJDK (Java APIs and libraries were used in earlier versions) in Android N, mobile app development for this platform should become considerably easier. To improve device startup and booting times, Google has added a handy ‘Direct Boot’ option. The new platform also supports several new variants for the popular languages.

 

The second developer preview of Android N was released a few days back. Unicode 9.0 emoji support is one of its biggest highlights, while the tweaks in the camera interface and the ‘Clear All’ tab (under ‘Recent Apps’) are also worth a mention. The adoption rate of Android N upon release would, like its predecessors, suffer from the extreme fragmentation – but the version does have the legs to become popular over time.

AppBoard Tuesday – A Sneak Peek Into The Wide World Of Internet Of Things (IoT)

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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Industry 4.0 is upon us. It’s the age of connectivity, with more and more gadgets of daily use (phones and watches, to televisions and even cars) getting connected to the internet. According to a recent study by IDC, the worldwide spending on Internet of Things (IoT) – the phenomenon of growing number of gadgets and services under the same hood – is likely to jump by nearly 260% from 2014 to 2020 (the actual and projected figures for the two years are $655 billion and $1.7 trillion respectively). Considering the huge potential for growth in this field currently (not even 1 out of every 10 devices are actually connected to the web), it would be only appropriate if we dedicate this week’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT) to get you up-to-date with all that there is to know about Internet of Things:

  1. What is this IoT? – While a stereotypical short definition is hard to come by (and would probably not do justice to the vast gamut of things that IoT is), most companies do with the concept of ‘intelligent connectivity of smart devices’. Several German institutions – companies, colleges and varsities, governmental bodies – have come up with the notion of Industry 4.0/Industrie 4.0 – which also deals with Internet of Things in Germany in particular, and across the globe in general.
  2. How many ‘smartly connected’ things? – The number hovered around 7 billion at the end of 2014. The number of devices getting connected is expected to grow at exponential rates over the next few years. Software and professional mobile app developers estimate that the total count of ‘connected things’ would comfortably surpass 25 billion by 2020. The market value of Internet of Things is expected to show a corresponding steep rise, from less than $2.7 trillion in 2014 to well over $14.5 trillion in 2020. At this point of time, it is pretty difficult to put a cap on what the maximum number of connected devices would be.
  3. Are wearables a part of IoT? – Yes, and how! The first-generation Google Glass might not have found many takers, but most smartwatches have been uber successful – with Apple Watch leading the way. The Fitbit trackers and the wide range of Android Wear gadgets are also very popular. Wearable technology is steadily stepping into new domains of activities – and can currently be used to switch home lights on/off, open smart locks, and even for powering cars. The overall shipments of wearables has been projected to spike from 75.9 million in 2015 to a shade under 175 million in 2019. That’s a rise of over 230%.
  4. How fast is the concept of ‘Smart Homes’ growing? – Not surprisingly, smart homes have emerged as a key component of Internet of Things. From household security, to the usage of home appliances – the effects of Industry 4.0 is becoming increasingly apparent on practically everything, making the lives of the average smart-gadgets user more convenient than ever before. The Nest thermostat system from Google and HomeKit from Apple are the leaders as far as smart home solution providers are concerned, with Windows 10 IoT Core and Samsung SmartThings not far behind. The goal is make as many home devices and appliances as possible interact with each other, minimizing fragmented usage and wastage of time and resources.
  5. Are Smart Lights and Smart Cars really growing fast? – Let’s call it ‘very fast’. From a measly 2 million ‘smartly connected lights’ in 2014, there will be at least 110 million such lights by the end of 2020. The growth of ‘connected cars’ is expected to be similarly robust over the 2014-2020 time frame (around 1100%). The focus of tech giants like Apple and Google will increasingly be on making such smart cars and lights. The adoption rate of these gadgets is also expected to be fairly high.
  6. How important is IoT in business? – Very. By 2015, more than 2 million corporate houses - with a large number of mobile app companies thrown in the mix – were connected to the Internet of Things. The figure is all set to grow rapidly in the near future, as awareness about the benefits of IoT spreads. Interestingly, at present, almost 88% people do not really know what IoT is all about. That’s going to change soon, and a Forbes study suggests that a whopping 2.3 billion people will be using smart home technology alone. Now that’s some growth!
  7. Are sensors vital in the overall IoT setup? – The success of ‘connected devices’ will critically hinge on how well the new-age sensors function. From detecting vibrations and moisture levels and electricity (ampere) usage, to pressure and active/inactive states of a service – ‘intelligent sensors’ are geared to perform a lot of tasks. Experts from the fields of hardware and mobile app development have also reported the usage of sensors that can convert data from the analog to the digital format, before analysing and processing the same. Things as simple as wifi services will get a huge lift with the help of smart sensors.
  8. How many cars are likely to get connected over the next 5 years? – Surveys and business forecasts suggest that, on average, 9 out of every 10 cars will come under the hood of Internet of Things by 2020. Most iOS app developers feel that the Apple CarPlay would arrive in 2019, while driverless cars have already been test-driven by Google. These ‘smart cars’ will have full-fledged digital cockpits, and the Tegra chips by NVIDIA have been used to power cars like Bentley and Mercedes. Intel and Qualcomm are also reportedly coming up with chips for ‘connected cars’. Back in 2012, less than 2% cars were connected to the internet. 8 years on, that figure will probably touch 90%.
  9. Which industries are using IoT the most? – The Industry 4.0 revolution has been an all-encompassing one. On the professional front, it offers various advantages – and hence, it is being gradually adopted by many different industries. The manufacturing and automobile sectors would probably be the front-runners as far as IoT-usage is concerned, with the retail, telecom and healthcare industries also benefitting from the increasing ‘connectivity’ of devices and services. Product performance monitoring (62%) is the main purpose for which businesses are relying on IoT, with maintenance/repairing (49%), usage analysis (30%), and performing system upgrades (27%) also being important uses of the technology. Municipal bodies have also started using IoT to create ‘smart cities’.
  10. Does more connections mean more cybersecurity threats? – That, unfortunately, is true. Unauthorized data access and modification, theft of intellectual property and process control denials are already fairly common, and threats of such malicious cyber attacks will only grow as IoT becomes more and more popular. The onus is on users – businesses as well as individuals – to be aware of probable network infrastructure, security and privacy threats – and make sure that their data is, in no way, compromised. Like all new technology, Internet of Things brings with it a fair share of challenges – but they are not going to prevent Industry 4.0 from growing.

Innovation is the name of the game, when we talk about the trends and prospects of IoT. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags will grow by almost 98% by 2020, and internet-connected clothing will also grow in popularity. The concept of ‘Connected Cows’ (use of IoT to track the health of the animal) is another much-talked about thing. According to projections by leading device analysts and mobile app entrepreneurs, the aggregate number of smartphone-users will jump by more than 4 times (6.1 million vs 1.4 million) from its present figure. With the help of Internet of Things, the contribution of ‘smartly connected industrial machinery’ to the worldwide GDP will be around 15 trillion by the next two decades – at par with the projected GDP of USA and China.

IoT has only started gaining momentum, and we can all look forward to a truly ‘connected world’ in the near future. Move aside, Internet of Things – it’s going to be the ‘Internet of Everything.’

And that’s a wrap for this week’s edition of the Teks weekly newsletter – AppBoard Tuesday. We will be back next week, with yet another fascinating tech and mobile-app related topic. Do send in topic suggestions, and let us know if you have anything to add regarding the growth of Internet of Things. Till the next time…love thy apps!

 

Material Design Update: Android Apps To Resemble iOS Apps More Closely

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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As far as in-app navigation is concerned, the norm till now has always been bottom-bar navigation for iOS and the good ol’ hamburger menu (noticed the three parallel lines that reside on the top corner of your app screen, from where you can pull down other screens?) for Android. Well, this difference is going to get considerably blurred in future, thanks to the changes in the Material Design guidelines that Google published in mid-March. Android app developers have been advised to move to the bottom navigation bar in their applications (in place of the hamburger menu) whenever possible, for greater convenience of users. This, in turn, is likely to make the overall navigation scheme of Android apps a lot more like that on iOS apps. Over here, we focus on this material design update by Google:

 

  1. The need for bottom bar navigation – Android users have lived with the hamburger menu till now, and it’s not particularly confusing or anything. However, it is a static navigational tool. The menu actually has to be tapped, to see what other important screens an application has. A bottom navigation bar would provide dynamic, top-level navigation options – just like it does in iPhone apps. People will be able to see at a glance the main screens of apps.
  2. Only for mobile devices – Most Android app development experts would agree with Google’s contention that a bottom navigation bar would not be necessary for devices with larger screens (think: tablets, laptops, PCs). On such devices, navigation icons that follow the conventional ‘rail’ treatment (i.e., side navigation scheme) would be more user-friendly. Smartphones have, in comparison, much smaller screen real estate – and hence, bottom bar navigation would be most suitable on them.
  3. Not an entirely new concept – The concept of bottom navigation is new within the Android ecosystem, but it’s far from being a breakthrough idea. As already stated above, most iOS applications use this scheme to facilitate smooth in-app navigation. Google has also tried its hands with bottom bar navigation, first on Google Plus, and now on Google Photos. It now remains to be seen how well Android developers manage to implement this navigation scheme in their apps.
  4. Difference from iOS navigation – The jury is still out on whether the idea of using bottom navigation bar on Android applications is a rip-off from iOS applications – but there is one significant difference between how the navigation will work on the two platforms. On iPhone apps, the navigation bar remains static/ever-present (‘always-ON’) at the bottom of the app screen. Those who make Android apps can, however, make the bar disappear when the user is scrolling down (upward swipe will make the navigation bar reappear). This frees up even more screen area on handsets, and is definitely an interesting feature.
  5. Focused action on tap – The bottom navigation bar on Android apps will not be a place where developers can cram in ads, messages to rate their applications, and the like. According to Google, no type of additional menus and/or popups are supposed to appear, when a user taps on any of the icons on the bar. Either the same page of the app should be refreshed, or the user has to be taken to the page/destination as indicated on the icon.
  6. How many icons on the bar? – The revamped Material Design guidelines from Google instructs mobile app developers and UI/UX designers to use the bottom navigation bar ONLY when there are three to five (max.) top-level screens/destinations/pages in an app. The destinations have to be of equal importance, i.e., a user might need to access them from anywhere within the app. In case an application has six or more of such destinations (and many apps indeed have more), app makers should include an additional navigation drawer or stick with the old hamburger menu style.
  7. Highlighting – When the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen of a new Android app has 4 or 5 icons, the icon tapped upon will get highlighted (with the other icons still viewable, but pushed slightly out of focus). However, for apps with only 3 icons in their bottom navigation bars, all the icons – along with their text labels – will remain highlighted at all times.
  8. Using text labels with icons – Text labels are important, for helping the users understand what each of the icons present on the bottom navigation bar would do, when tapped upon. However, Google has cautioned Android app developers against using long text labels, since they would not get automatically wrapped or truncated (and a portion would remain unviewable). The colour and tint of the current icon and text label should be the same as the primary colour of the concerned app. In cases where developers have gone with a coloured navigation bar, the highlighted icon and text should be in white or black. Developers must not put the different icons in different colours.
  9. Using tabs for apps with lesser number of top-level destinations – While creating Android applications with less than three primary screens/destinations, developers need not go for the bottom navigation bar. Instead, having tabs for those destinations would be a smarter and much more user-friendly option. App-makers can also, of course, have tabs as well as navigation bar in their apps. In such cases, they have to make sure that users do not face any problems while interacting with the tap targets.
  10. Size specifications of the navigation bar – Google has also spelt out size specs of the bottom navigation bar that will soon be seen in most new Android apps as well. With padding, the minimum and maximum permissible width are 120dp and 168dp. Ideally, app designers should divide the total width of the bar by the number of icons placed on it. That would give a clear idea as to how much space needs to be allotted to each icon/text label.
  11. Will be adopted gradually by developers – Using the bottom navigation bar is (at least not yet) not mandatory for Android app developers. Most of Google’s own applications still do not have this navigational scheme. Only after this year’s Google I/O event (May 18-20) happens, can we expect developers to start using the bottom bar in their apps more regularly.

 

While the multi-window feature in the upcoming Android N platform is probably the bigger update in Google’s Material Design, the arrival of bottom navigation bar on Android has also generated quite a bit of buzz amongst developers worldwide. iOS has played the catch-up game to Android regarding many features, but on this one – it seems that Android is the ‘inspired one’!

iPhone SE – The Good And The Not-So-Good Features

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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Analysis of iPhone SE features

 

The shipment of iPhone SE – the much-discussed new 4” iPhone model from Apple – started last week. Announced on March 21, the handset has received mostly positive reviews from general techies and mobile app developers alike. However, while the phone does pack in a host of powerful features, there are several things about iPhone SE that can leave users slightly disappointed. In today’s discussion, we will take a look at the best and the slightly off-the-mark features of iPhone SE:

  1. (Good) A9 Processor Chip – Performance speed is definitely one of the high points of the new iPhone model. It has the latest A9 processor chip (which debuted in last year’s iPhone 6S). The 2GB RAM and the cutting-edge dual core processor (1.8 GHz) add to the performance efficiency. In terms of chipset performance, iPhone SE is at par with iPhone 6S – and considering that the latter is the latest flagship Apple phone – this is a big thing.
  2. (Not-So-Good) Dated design – Yes, the form-factor of the iPhone SE is nice, and it is certainly a new smartphone – but most software and iOS app developers agree that, the look and feel strongly resembles that of iPhone 5. Now, that phone released four years back, and what’s more, it had only a couple of major differences (notably, screen size) from iPhone 4. It’s rather odd to see Apple sticking with an old-looking design, instead of coming up with something that actually ‘feels new’.
  3. (Good) Excellent iSight camera – Rumors had been rife on various online mobile app development forums that the Cupertino company would compromise on the camera features of iPhone SE, to make it available at a budget price. Thankfully, that has not happened – and the new handset has the same 12 MP rear camera (with aperture f/2.2) as iPhone 6S. From slo-mo videos and Focus Pixel autofocus, to Time Lapse – the camera of iPhone SE has all the high-end capabilities. Suffice to say that the handset will receive a lot of love from those who love to click along with their phones!
  4. (Not-So-Good) Not as good for the selfie-lovers – If there’s one downside to the iPhone SE camera, it has to be its selfie-capture options. The latest addition to the assembly-line of iPhones has FaceTime camera/front camera of 1.2 MP – a measly figure when you compare it with the 5 MP selfie camera of iPhone 6S. Selfies won’t still be bad per se, but they won’t be extremely high-clarity either. A certain disappointment for selfie-lovers who have already used iPhone 6/6S.
  5. (Good) Apple Pay support – With iPhone SE having complete Apple Pay integration (through NFC, or near-field communications, technology), iPhone 5S is now the only iPhone to not have this tap-to-pay feature, for which the NFC chip is required. There have been unconfirmed reports about Apple planning to phase out the 5S in the near future – and if that indeed happens – all the other models will have Apple Pay with Touch ID. Those who make iPhone apps also feel that users will find that the sensor of iPhone SE is significantly faster than that of iPhone 5S.
  1. (Not-so-good) Screen real estate – Oh well, this is not much of a surprise – given that iPhone SE had always been publicized as a new ‘ 4” iPhone ‘. There are, however, certain additional disadvantages that come with the smaller screen size, when compared with the display of iPhone 6S (4.7”) and iPhone 6S Plus (5.5”). For instance, the screen resolutions of both the iPhone 6S (1334×750) and 6S Plus (1920×1080) are way higher than that of iPhone SE (1136×640). The pixel-per-inch (PPI) of the new phone – Retina Display – is also much lower than the PPI of iPhone 6S Plus (326 PPI vs 401 PPI).
  2. (Good) Fast network connectivity – Although not quite as fast as the iPhone 6S, the iPhone SE more than holds its own when it comes to network performance. With a maximum cellular data speed of 150Mbps (with as many as 19 LTE bands) and 802.11ac wi-fi functionality, the handset comfortably outstrips iPhone 5S. The presence of Bluetooth 4.2 in iPhone SE is yet another welcome addition.
  3. (Not-so-good) First generation Touch ID – iOS app developers and analysts feel that this can be a bone of concern for people who have already used iPhone 6S. In an understandable bid to cut costs, Apple has gone with the first generation Touch ID feature on iPhone SE, instead of the 2nd gen version – which is considerably faster. The performance of the NFC module, and in turn, Apple Pay, can remain just a tad sub-par because of this factor.
  4. (Good) Hey Siri – iPhone 5S brought the motion coprocessor (M7) into the iPhone setup for the first time, and all the later models have had it. The latest in this line is iPhone SE, which has the powerful and untethered M9 motion coprocessor (just like iPhone 6S). This ensures ‘always-on Hey Siri’ support. In other words, users do not have to tap on their phone screens to activate and seek help from Siri. Voice commands to the mobile digital assistant – which is already smarter than before, would be enough.
  5. (Not-so-good) Less storage capacity options – Most experts from the field of mobile software and app development had predicted that the iPhone SE would be made available in 3 different models. They have, however, been proved wrong – with Apple deciding to release 16GB and 64GB variants of the phone. There is no 128 GB version, unlike the iPhone 6S/6S Plus models. For people who store lots of photos and music and other stuff on their devices, this might just prove to be a problem in the long-run.
  6. (Good) Live Photos and 4K Video Recording – Apple has definitely not held back with the camera capabilities of iPhone SE. We have already talked about the top-notch iSight camera, and the handset also has the new ‘Live Photos‘ feature (for newbies, this feature allows users to make short videos with every photo they take – 1.5 seconds before the actual click and 1.5 seconds after). In addition, 4K video recording is also possible on the new ‘small‘ iPhone. These features contributed quite a bit towards the popularity of iPhone 6S, and they should work in favour of iPhone SE too.
  7. (Not-so-good) Where is the 3D Touch? – Given how many features iPhone SE shares with iPhone 6S, it would not have been out of place to expect 3D Touch to be present on the former as well. However, Apple has kept this breakthrough feature only on iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus. The new handset will not be able to use pressure-sensitivity to detect between different types of taps, and there will be, of course, no ‘peek-and-pop‘ previews.
  8. (Good) Pricing – The entry level price (16GB model) of iPhone 6S is $649. The 16GB version of iPhone SE, which shares several features with the flagship device, is $399 – a whopping $250 less. Even the 64GB model of iPhone SE is priced at an extremely competitive $499 (off-contract price). Yes, the phone is more expensive than iPhone 5S (the 16GB model is available for $199 on a two-year contract) – but it still offers a lot of bang for the buck.
  9. (Not-so-good) No wireless charging option – For all their high-end features, battery performance has never been a highlight of iPhones. Initially, general users as well as Apple app developers felt that the lesser space on iPhone SE would compromise battery efficiency further. However, initial tests have proved that the reverse is, in fact true – and the smaller screen size of iPhone SE makes it less power-hungry than the larger iPhone models. Even so, the unavailability of wireless charging option is a drawback. The idea of tagging along the charger is not a pleasant one. This is not a deal-breaker, but Apple has probably missed a trick here.

After iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone SE is only the third Apple phone to be available in the popular rose gold body colour. The RAM of the handset is double of iPhone 5S (2 GB vs 1GB). The FaceTime camera has Retina Flash, and the brighter flash slightly makes up for the overall sub-par selfie-taking option.

Even after the launch of the ‘bigger iPhones‘, Apple managed to sell nearly 31 million 4” handsets in 2015. This clearly shows that there is a market for smaller phones, and as per early predictions, nearly 5 million units of iPhone SE will be sold in this quarter itself. The sales of iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus tapered off remarkably last quarter, and it remains to be seen whether iPhone SE manages to somewhat make up for that.