Monthly Archives: January 2017

iOS 10.3: What’s New?

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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(For an updated post-launch report on iOS 10.3, please click here)

 iOS 10.3 new features

Last week, Apple launched the first beta of iOS 10.3. According to an official January report, the adoption rate of iOS 10 has jumped by nearly 21% between January 2017 and November 2016 (76% vs 63%) – and the arrival of iOS 10.3 is expected to bolster this figure further. Interestingly, there have been reports of troublesome bugs in the recently-launched iOS 10.2.1 and the Cupertino company will be looking forward to resolving them all in the upcoming version of its mobile platform. In today’s discussion, we will take a look at the most interesting new features in the first preview of iOS 10.3:

  1. Detailed iCloud Storage information

    In the third major update on iOS 10, storing data on iCloud will be more systematic than ever before. From the profile, users can easily tap on the iCloud tab, to check out a detailed breakdown of the devices and the programs that are using the storage space at any time. The information is graphically represented, and it allows people to optimize iCloud. What’s more, users will be provided with useful tips and suggestions on the all-new ‘Suggestions’ tab on the Settings screen.

  2. Change in app animation

    This one is a very subtle change. As confirmed by professional iPhone app developers worldwide, there is a definite change in the animation scheme – when an app is launched/closed. While the change is rather difficult to discern in fast-working applications, it is fairly easy to see the more rounded edges on apps that take some time to launch. Not a tweak that will affect app-usage in any way, but an interesting one nonetheless.

  3. Arrival of APFS file system

    As soon as you update your iPhone/iPad to iOS 10.3, you will be bidding farewell to the HFS+ file system on your phone. The more secure Apple File System (APFS), with stronger encryption support, will be automatically installed on the device. As per reports from app-makers and testers, APFS also performs better than HFS+, when it comes to supporting NAND file storage.

  4. Find My Airpods

    Easily the most talked-about feature enhancement in iOS 10.3. Ever since Airpods – the Bluetooth-powered Apple earbuds – debuted last year (on iPhone 7), there have been multiple reports of users losing/misplacing them. iOS 10.3 offers a great solution to stay away from such problems. It has a built-in ‘Find My Airpods’ feature, that tracks the Airpods to their last-known location (i.e., the location when the earbuds were paired with an iPhone most recently). The feature becomes visible as soon as a user logs in to his/her ‘Find My iPhone’ application. People can also send pings to the Airpods with this new feature.

  5. Analytics in Settings

    In the default Settings application, there used to be a section called ‘Documentation & Usage’ option (under Privacy) – through which people could specify whether they wanted to share data with Apple. That section has been renamed to ‘Analytics’ and retains all its original features. There is a new tool in this section as well, in the form of ‘Share iCloud analytics’. It can be used to share analytics data from iCloud accounts. Apple keeps things secure with its differential privacy regulations.

  6. Apple Settings Profile

    On iDevices running on iOS 10.3, it is no longer necessary for users to separately check out personal profile information from App Store, iCloud and iTunes. Right at the head of the ‘Settings’ menu, there is an all-new ‘Profile’ section – which allows iPhone-owners to view all information associated with iCloud, iTunes, App Store and even Family Sharing, summarized on the same screen. The iDevices linked with each of these accounts can be viewed through this ‘Apple ID Profile’. All that the users have to do to access the information is sign into their ‘Find My iPhone’ account.

  7. Floating keypad for iPads

    One of the several cool new features of iOS 10.3 that are ‘hidden’ in the preview version (i.e., not provided to mobile app developers yet). iPad-users, after upgrading, will get an option to replace the default keyboard on their device with a one-handed keypad that can be easily dragged and placed anywhere on the screen. The ‘floating keyboard’ idea seems just a trifle weird at present, but it can well prove to be a handy tool for users.

  8. Multiple SiriKit enhancements

    Right from the status of mobile payments and digital wallet security, to scheduling taxi-rides – everything can be done with SiriKit, in the updated iOS 10.3 platform. The mobile digital assistant can work in collaboration with Lyft and Uber to schedule rides, people can pay bills directly through SiriKit, and the status of m-payments can be monitored safely. There’s good news for all the cricket-fans out there as well – with SiriKit on iOS 10.3 offering real-time scores and updates from international games and IPL matches.

  9. App icon updates

    This is going to be a mighty useful feature for iOS app developers. Instead of having to publish an update every time the icon of the application was tweaked, the changed app icons can now be pushed out at any time. This, understandably, makes it easier for developers to showcase updated icons – without having to worry about full updates.

  10. Weather information (in Maps)

    After upgrading your Apple device to iOS 10.3, you will find a small tab on the bottom-right corner of the ‘Maps’ screen. On tapping it, detailed weather information (at your detected location) is displayed. In addition, users can also apply 3D Touch on the tab, to view weekly weather info breakdowns. Apple Maps have been getting a lot better over the last couple of years, and this is yet another interesting addition.

  11. Shortcuts for CarPlay applications

    With ‘connected cars’ increasingly coming into focus, it was expected that the latest version of iOS will have some new feature related to the proprietary CarPlay system. iOS 10.3 brings app shortcuts for CarPlay on the table. People can now browse through shortcuts of all their recently used CarPlay applications, instead of having to head back to the ‘Home’ screen to launch every new app.

Note: iOS 10.3 also has HomeKit enhancements, primarily in the form of integrated support for programmable switch accessories.

   12. Verizon gets iCloud calling support

T-Mobile and AT&T already had this functionality, and with iOS 10.3, Verizon is going to have it too. With seamless iCloud call support, users on the Verizon network can now place/receive calls on any of their Apple Devices (iPad, 

Mac system, iPod Touch, in addition to, of course, the iPhone). Users have to enable the feature to get started with iCloud calling.

   13. Safari motion reduction and Podcasts widget

Many iPhone users across the globe have highlighted the motion effects on the Safari browser to be more than a bit off-putting. iOS 10.3 looks to relieve users of this particular inconvenience. In Safari, the update offers a ‘Reduce Motion preference’ option for users, that enhances the web-browsing experience. The Apple Podcasts application will also have its very own iPhone/iPad widget, on the final version of iOS 10.3.

Plenty of app developers as well as general users were expecting a dark, ‘theater mode’ (for iPhone/iPad) to arrive on the iOS 10.3 platform. However, iOS 10.3 beta 1 has no news about such a feature. As is customary, the next couple of months should see more beta releases of iOS 10.3, with a final release likely in late-March. It remains to be seen whether Apple adds more features, and what changes it makes to the existing ones, in the next developer previews of the platform.

 

 

Smart Lighting Solutions – Trends To Watch Out For

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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Smart lights are an important part of global IoT

 

Smart lighting is easily one of the fastest growing sectors in the field of Internet of Things. According to analysts, this sector is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 22% over the next 7-8 years, making the value of the smart light market zoom up to $48 billion by 2020, and a whopping $65 billion by 2025. The commercial smart lights sub-domain alone will touch $8.2 billion by the end of this decade (residential smart lights will be growing at an even faster rate). In what follows, we will highlight some fascinating trends in smart lighting to keep an eye out for:

 

  1. Surge in the popularity of LED lights 

    A key driver behind the rapid growth in smart lighting has been the increase in people switching over to LED lights globally. On average, at least 7 out of every 10 customers have bought at least one LED light, with nearly 50% people reporting that they have purchased LED lights in the last year (2015-16). In 2016, the total number of LED customers was a healthy 27% more than the figure in 2015, underlining the fact that LEDs are the preferred light replacement options in homes/offices. Interestingly, around 62% first-time users of smart lighting are already LED-users. Experts have found that the LED technology can save up to 60% more energy (compared to traditional lighting). The switch to LED, hence, hardly comes as a surprise.

  2. Awareness on an upswing

    For all its rapid growth and huge buzz among mobile developers and other tech enthusiasts, Internet of things (IoT) is still a niche field. A study in 2014 found that nearly 87% of people worldwide had not heard about the technology ever. While that figure is gradually coming down, IoT is still far from being a ‘massy’ thing. However, smart lighting (along with home automation, and to a lesser extent, smart car technologies) are bolstering the IoT sector. At present, 66% of all people know about smart lighting solutions, and close to 80% among them opine that smart lights would indeed replace traditional lighting in the foreseeable future.

  3. Different elements of smart lighting

    With this being a relatively ‘new’ sector, companies are focusing on the separate categories under which smart light elements can be classified under. Broadly speaking, more innovations are expected in 2017 – in smart light bulbs, fixtures and controls. Apart from LED bulbs, fluorescent lights and  high-intensity discharge (HID) lights are also steadily making their way in the smart lighting domain. It’s a much-varied field, and OEMs are doing their best to stay ahead of competitors by giving their products an edge.

  4. The many advantages of smart lights

    Over the last couple of years or so, the benefits of adopting smart lighting solutions have become increasingly clear to both general customers as well as authorities/industry experts. Apart from their energy-efficiency, smart lights can bring down average crime rates (in areas that previously had insufficient light) by more than 20%. What’s more – thanks to the real-time data sharing options that these lights have, their maintenance costs are a lot lower too (around 30%). Customized brightness options and adjustable voltage add to the plus points of smart lights further.

  5. DOB technology to become more mainstream

    A separate driver is required to transform AC current (alternating) to DC current (direct) – before the latter can be used in smart bulbs and tubes. However, mobile app developers in charge of designing smart lighting solutions have often reported that creating this driver and the LED board separately makes the final product a lot more complicated and buggy than what’s desirable. The Driver on Board (DOB) technology comes across as a viable solution to this problem. With DOB, the LED chipsets and the driver(s) can be placed on the same board (functioning as a single component). The number of IoT developers working with DOB technology is fairly low at present, but the number would surely go up in 2017 and beyond.

Note: There is one downside of the otherwise effective driver-on-board technology, however. It can result in LED lights underperforming – as a result of which more LED bulbs become necessary to build the unit.

  1. In the top three smart products in the US

    Between 2017 and 2020, smart lighting would consolidate its position as one of the top three ‘connected’ technologies adopted by people in the United States (the other two being home security and smart thermostats). Over the last 6-8 quarters, the volume of adopters of smart light technologies has grown by more than 40%. The popularity of smart lighting in US extends to both the residential and the commercial sectors. Close to 57% of buyers in the country have stated that the new lights they buy would be LED bulbs, while 80% of home-owners feel that smart lighting can enhance the productivity of their houses, in some way or the other. All things considered, there are ample opportunities for smart lighting solutions to grow over here.

  2. Smart light installations

    Hybrid and proprietary technologies were the two most important methods for installing smart light systems, at the start of 2016 (apart from the wireless solutions provided by DALI Wireless). Other, more advanced installation techniques are expected to gain momentum this year. Developers will start to work with Bluetooth-powered smart lights, Power over Ethernet (PoE), and Power Line methods – gradually making the installation procedures faster, efficient and more customizable than ever before. Solutions by ZigBee and EnOcean are also likely to gain more acceptance.

  3. All segments of the smart lighting market to grow together

    We had earlier made a broad classification of smart lights under two heads – residential and commercial. Let us now look into the other sectors of the market where smart lighting solutions are finding increasing acceptance. Office and industrial lighting, malls and plexes, public lighting (street lighting) are all sectors in which the presence of smart lights will grow stronger in the next few years. There is already high levels of demand for smart lights from the hospitality sector as well. The challenge now lies with the manufacturers and app developers to match the smart light supply levels to their burgeoning demand volume.

  4. Biggest markets

    Europe leads the way as the biggest consumer of smart lighting solutions in the world. The Asia Pacific and Latin America take up the second and third spots respectively. However, when it comes to the fastest growing geographical sectors in this domain, Asia Pacific (with a CAGR of 21%+) is right at the top. North America is also witnessing accelerated growth in the adoption rates of smart lighting solutions. As more advancements happen related to smart homes and smart cities, the usage of ‘connected lights’ will soar even higher.

  5. Backend and frontend elements

    Smart lighting solutions are not exactly cheap to design, and developers would (understandably) be pulling out all the stops to ensure the success of their products. In 2017 and later, cloud-based development platforms (like Kii) will be used more and more, to ease out the overall integration process. End-users will have completely personalized control and visibility on the front-end. Real-time data from the smart lights can be tracked, monitored and analysed from the back-end support (with the help of custom APIs). The smart light fixtures will have advanced sensors built-in, for data tracking and syncing.

  6. Controls growing at a higher rate than Fixtures

    This is far from being surprising. According to experts from the field of software and mobile app development, customers like to get a proper, in-depth idea about how one particular gadget/device/solution works – before deciding to try out another one. Till 2020, smart light controls will grow at a CAGR of 18%, with fixtures following at a significantly lower rate. People are still getting acquainted with the technology – and it can be reasonably expected that controls with outpace fixtures in the next decade as well.

  7. From halogen to LED

    As already pointed out earlier, the so-called ‘LED surge’ has been an important catalyst for the recent accelerated growth of smart lighting. Halogens, however, remain the most popular lighting technology, with incandescent bulbs and LED lights coming in after them. The point to be noted here is, these halogens are being gradually replaced by the light-emitting diodes. High-intensity discharge (HID) lights have a small market share, as do fluorescent (linear and compact) lights.

Phillips, with its diverse range of smart lighting products and platforms – from DALI and BACnet, to EnOcean and Zigbee – is easily the market leader in this sector. General Electronics and Acuity Lighting Systems (both from US) have also emerged as major players. The opportunities for innovation are immense in the field of smart lighting, and it remains to be seen what new solutions developers worldwide can come up with this year.