Monthly Archives: December 2014

‘Hey Siri’ Vs ‘Ok Google’ – War Of The Mobile Digital Assistants

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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Apple and Google Android are constantly at loggerheads, as far as their mobile business is concerned. The Siri vs Google Now is one of the most interesting mini-battles in this ongoing war. We here analyze how the two virtual assistants perform on the basis of several parameters.


Ever since the handsfree ‘Hey Siri’ feature was showcased during this year’s Apple World Wide Developers’ Conference (WWDC), iOS fans have been dying to check it out. A couple of other factors had bolstered the anticipation for this handsfree functionality of Siri. For starters, Android loyalists have long been mocking at the rather common mistakes that Siri is prone to commit. More importantly, while Google Now (unveiled during Google I/O 2013, and debuted on the Android Jellybean platform) recently crossed the magical 1 billion active users mark, the usage rate of Siri on iOS 7 has remained on the lower side. iOS 8 and Android 5.0 Lollipop are both out, and once again, it’s time for the next round of battle between the two mobile artificial intelligent (AI) assistants. Read on, and find out which among ‘Hey Siri’ and ‘Ok Google’ comes out on top:


  1. Response accuracy – Siri on iOS 8 has improved a lot in understanding queries and responding to them correctly, but it still has a long way to go, to catch up with Google Now. In a recently conducted survey by Stone Temple Consulting (comprising of 3086 common random questions), Android’s voice assistant came up with an impressive 88% correct responses. Apple’s Siri was a distant second, with only 53% correct answers. In fact, Siri’s performance was fairly close to that of Cortana – which got 40% of the answers right.
  2. Wake up/Activation time – Siri would edge this round. iOS analysts and mobile app developers have confirmed that voice commands can be given to Siri within seconds of bellowing the ‘Hey Siri’ wake-up call (there is hardly any time required for activation). Google Now can, however, take voice instructions only after the activation chime is generated. Not a big difference, but still a point that would delight sticklers for device speeds.
  3. Requirement of a power source – This one is a no-brainer. You can bellow ‘Hey Siri’ as loudly as you want, but your iOS 8-powered device won’t respond unless it is plugged in to a power source. Android users need not worry about this factor. They can chirp  ‘Ok Google’ to their handsets, and the latter would spring to action – irrespective of whether they are connected to a power source or not. There is a way to work around this problem for iDevice owners, but more on that later.
  4. Response Speed – There is not much to choose between Apple Siri and Google Now (particularly on the new iOS 8 and Android Lollipop platforms, respectively) regarding this. However, the ‘OK Google’ command, on average, does elicit slightly quicker responses than the ‘Hey Siri’ command (4.894 seconds vs 5.53 seconds). While the two are more or less at par for most types of voice queries, Siri takes significantly longer to respond to traffic-related queries (since Apple Maps has to be launched). Google Now responds to similar queries almost 3 seconds more quickly.
  5. Knowledge Base – First things first – what is a ‘knowledge base’ for mobile digital assistants? Simply put, these are the databases that allow ‘virtual helpers’ like Siri, Google Now and Cortana to come up with customized, informative, detailed results – instead of simply pulling up relevant results from the web. The ‘Ok Google’ command allows Google Now to scan through multiple knowledge bases to come up with the correct response, while Siri generally has only Wolfram Alpha to fall back on. This advantage of Now is principally derived from the built-in knowledge cards of After all, Google is by far the biggest online search engine – and it’s not surprising that its mobile assistant would have greater access to data on the web. Maybe it’s time for Apple to start a search engine too?
  6. Improvement over time – Google Now is still ahead of the mobile artificial intelligence (AI) game. However, Siri has witnessed the biggest improvements over the last couple of iOS versions, as per general iPhone users as well as iOS app development experts. The breakthrough has, of course, been the launch of the ‘Hey Siri’ functionality – which has facilitated handsfree awakening and conversation. Google Now already had this feature, and it has bolstered its overall capacity to help users.
  7. Ability to provide ‘enhanced results’ – ‘Enhanced results’ refer to the capability of mobile digital assistants to include useful links, reviews and other add-on stuff in the results they display to users. Neither of our two rivals perform exceptionally on this count, but once again, it is Google Now with the advantage. The percentage of queries for which the Android assistant could come up with enhanced results (during the Stone Temple Consulting survey) was exactly double (58% vs 29%) of what Siri was capable of. Once again, the performance of Siri was rather uncomfortably close to that of Windows Cortana, which offered enhanced results to 20% queries.

Note: All three of them were found to bungle up simple grocery store searches!

8. Voice recognition – Another round that ‘Ok Google’ will comfortably take home. While Google Now can easily understand relatively difficult words in foreign language (say, the name of a rare Italian cuisine), Siri can – at times – struggle with names of even common things. This makes the accent of the users while giving voice commands a big factor. In addition, Google Now is more secure, since it is practically impossible for anyone other than the authorized owner(s) of the handset to wake Now up with ‘Ok Google’. ‘Hey Siri’ cannot quite give the same assurance against voice-imitations. Yet.

9. Number of languages supported – Check out discussions on Google Now and Siri at any active mobile app development forum – and the first thing that will strike you is the rapid strides that both Apple and Google have taken on the language support count. The total number of languages currently ‘understood’ by Google Now is an impressive 52. What’s more – it can take instructions in as many as 7 languages simultaneously. Siri on iOS 8 has become better than ever too, with support extended for 24 new dictation languages. Let’s just say that this round is a tie.

10. Ability to relate follow-up questions – Surprisingly, neither Google Now on Lollipop nor Siri on iOS 8 is much good regarding this. Search for ‘Chinese restaurants’ after the ‘Hey Siri’ command, and you will get names and reviews of the top eating joints in the locality. However, if you try to follow up that query with a question about the distance to these places – Siri would treat it as a totally new question. Google Now disappoints as well, since it would return plenty of results – whatever it can find with the word ‘restaurants’. In fact, for contextual, follow-up searches, Cortana performs better than either. Finally, some ‘yay’ for the Windows Phone assistant!

11. Overall user-convenience – ‘Hey Siri’ and ‘Ok Google’ have separate fields where they excel. Mobile analysts and app developers unanimously agree that for everyday tasks like setting reminders, wake-up calls, sending texts and placing calls – Siri is the smarter AI agent. However, for voice queries that involve extensive information searching, Google Now comes up trumps. Comparing the two on the usefulness count would be akin to comparing apples and oranges. The precise requirements of a user determines whether (s)he finds Siri or Google Now more useful.

12. The fun factor – Google Now might be more efficient and ‘knowledgeable’, but it lacks the ready wit that has become a hallmark of Apple Siri. Try asking her ‘Who let the dogs out?’, and she will get back with an innocent ‘Wasn’t Me’, which will get you doubling over with laughter (there are many even funnier Siri repartees – listed right here). On the other hand, Google Now is more like the old-fashioned, obedient English butler – focusing on the tasks given to it, and not bothering much about being a ‘friend’ to the device-owner.

13. Dependency on browsing history – A lot of sheen goes off ‘Ok Google’, if a user is in the habit of regularly deleting the web browsing history on his/her phone. Android app developers state that, just as depends on previous searches to come up with more relevant, useful results over time, Google Now also can ‘keep learning’ only when earlier browsing data is available. Siri does not have any such dependency, and is more of an ‘independent’ digital assistant. In addition, Google Now often functions in collaboration with other mobile apps. Deletion of such applications can affect the performance of Now.

14. Frequency of crashes – Neither iOS 8 nor Android 5.0 Lollipop are bug-free yet (far from it, in fact). It’s hardly surprising that Siri and Google Now on these platforms are prone to sudden crashes from time to time. Overall tests have shown that instances of Google Now crashing is slightly more than that of Siri – but this difference is statistically not significant (and Android fanboys have the opposite opinion, anyway!). As the new platforms become more stable, both Siri and Google Now are expected to gain on the reliability front.

15. Memory usage – On new Samsung Galaxy S3 handsets, Google Now takes up 55 MB of RAM space. This figure is nothing to be concerned about for most people, but for those who are fast running out of memory space on their Android devices – keeping Now might require deleting few other mobile apps. Siri steals a march over its arch-rival over here – since it takes up next to no memory space. Apple’s digital assistant needs memory only for the notes and queries it has to handle.


With the arrival of ‘Hey Siri’ on iOS 8, iPhone-users no longer have to hold down the ‘Home’ button on their devices, to use Siri services. However, from the above discussion, it is pretty clear that ‘Ok Google’ still holds most of the aces. iOS app developers and analysts feel, correctly, that Siri has improved a lot – but a lot of work remains to be done before it becomes nearly as good as Google Now.

Bonus #1: 5 Cool Tips To Get The Most From Siri on iOS 8

  1. Activation without plugging to power source – Charging an iPhone while using Siri is not an absolute must. You can work around this by activating the ‘Hey Siri’ feature, and then extending the auto-lock period to anything more than 1 minute. After that, keep saying ‘Hey Siri’ every time the digital assistant times out, and it will wake up again.
  2. Live music identification – Integration of Shazam has brought forth this additional functionality. Now, you can simply let Siri ‘listen’ to a song, and then ask about the latter’s details. The assistant will display song information, links for paid downloads, and even a tab to access the Shazam app.
  3. Training Siri about the nicknames of your contacts – If you have a lot of ‘John’-s in your contact, the command ‘Call John’ would only add to the confusions of Siri. You can, of course, mention full names every time – but there is an easier way out. On iOS 8 devices, after ‘Hey Siri’ activation, you can simply say ‘John is my so-and-so’ – and Siri will look that person up. Make sure you have properly labeled your contacts first though.
  4. Live voice streaming – Professionals from iPhone app development agencies feel that this has been a big step up for Siri. No longer do users have to spell out their entire commands, for Siri to spring into action. Siri on iOS 8 has a built-in speech-to-text feature, which allows streaming voice recognition. That, in turn, lets Siri start working earlier than before.
  5. Option to create better ‘Reminders’ – You can make the ‘Reminders’ app on your iOS 8 device more customized with the help of Siri too. Through the Apple mobile digital assistant, you can add items to different pre-created fields in Reminders (say, Shopping, Meetings, etc.), without having to make any manual entry.


Bonus #2: 5 Cool Tips To Get The Most From Google Now on Android Lollipop

  1. Location and Commute Sharing – Google Plus might have a lot of ‘meh’ features, but it combines wonderfully with Google Now for this. You can update your precise location and commute details on G+, and share it with your friends/family members. Particularly useful if you wish to alert (or be alerted) about a serious traffic jam!
  2. Hotword Detection – What ‘Hey Siri’ is for iOS, ‘Google’ is for Android. Check the ‘Hotword Detection’ option at Google Now → Menu → Settings → Voice. This will enable you to ‘wake up’ now simply by saying ‘Google’. It doesn’t get much easier than this.
  3. Using TV Cards – For Android phone-owners who are movie/TV show-addicts as well, Google Now serves up further wonders. Provided that the phone and the smart TV are connected to the same wireless network, people can check out program details, show information, and even interesting tidbits about the actors, right on their mobile screen.
  4. Collaboration with Gmail – Everyone uses Gmail, and Google Now can make the mail service provider more informative than ever before. Android app developers have confirmed that Now has the capacity to scan mailboxes of users, and bring to them a host of additional information accordingly. Right from restaurant reservation details, to airport boarding passes – almost all relevant info can be obtained via the Gmail+Google Now combo.
  5. Personalized image search – Okay, this one is available only for users from the United States. If you are in the habit of clicking many photos – you no longer have to bother searching for specific pictures later on. Simply log on to G+, activate Google Now, and tell it to search for, say, ‘my photos at coffee shop’. The image(s) that you were looking for will be displayed in an instant.


Which one among ‘Hey Siri’ and ‘Ok Google’ is your favorite command at present? Have your say!


Teks Offsite 2014 (Installment I) – When IT Professionals Turned Cricketers

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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‘Edged, and taken!’


‘Need a couple of boundaries this over…’


‘That went like a tracer bullet!’

Hipsters vs Geeks

You do not associate sentences like these with a mobile app company, right? Well, it was that kind of a day – when the developers and designers of Teknowledge Mobile Studio forgot about their iMacs and Android projects, and donned their cricketing whites. The result? A match to remember!


In a bid to encourage the off-the-job bonding among the Teks employees, a 12-over-per-side cricket match was organized on last Saturday, the 29th of November. Each side had 10 players – and each of us was raring to go on the day (to be frank, from a week in advance!). The admin head of our mobile app agency had already checked out the ground space at Kolkata Maidan (we like doing EVERYTHING efficiently!). Everything was sorted out, balls and bats and bails and wickets were arranged, and the teams were all set to show off their cricketing skills on the field.


A bit about the teams that faced off on that winter morning. The first team were called ‘Hipsters’ – and comprised of our graphic designers, animators, PHP experts, content and PR executives, and the chief admin/project coordinator (that’s right, they had landed the big fish!). The team name had been selected after due deliberation – and was apt enough, considering the creative nature of the team-members.

Team Geeks

And what about the quite formidable opposition? They were the ‘Geeks’ – and don’t run away with the assumption that they were typical nerds who would be mere pushovers on a sports field. They were the team of Android and iPhone app developers of Teknowledge – and at least half of their team were fit enough to…well maybe not take on the Kohli-s and the Raina-s…at least hold their own. A couple of them were not over the moon with the ‘Team Geeks’ name, and were eager to prove that their brains were not the only agile part in their bodies!

A slight nip in the air, the prospect of an exciting cricket match to kickstart the weekend, and a full Sunday to follow – what could have been a more enjoyable package for us Teksians? Well, there was one point to ponder on. Barring a couple of players from either side, all the others had last touched cricketing gears 5, 7, even 10 years ago. Match-practice and fitness levels were not the highest for most…but hey, enthusiasm can conquer all! It might have been just another fun outdoor session organized by our mobile app development company, but we were determined to make it one of the most exciting intra-company corporate cricket matches of the year. And boy, did we succeed or what?

Now we all know that women’s cricket is neglected in our country and all that – and letting our lady colleagues a chance to get involved in the game was a priority of ours. There was one snag though – we did not have enough females in our ranks to make a cricket team (let alone two!). The way out? The ladies took up the responsibility of being the umpires for this all-important match. In case you were wondering, there was a third umpire too – Yours truly!

Teams lining up for the match

Proceedings started sharp at 8:15 am at the Maidan, with the toss – presided over by the umpires and the two captains. The ‘Geeks’ called correctly, and somewhat surprisingly, elected to field first. Perhaps it was their confidence in their fast bowlers (okay, medium-pacers – but you get the point!), perhaps they did not want to bat first on an unknown surface – any which way, they were ultimately left to rue this decision. After all, there is a golden rule in limited overs cricket – ‘always try to put runs on the board first.


The openers of ‘Team Hipsters’ took the field after 10 minutes, and they put the team off to a mini-flyer. 12 runs came off the first over, with a couple of boundaries. The ‘Geeks’ hit back soon enough though, with a wicket-maiden next up. Runs were nicely choked up in the middle overs, and it was a quickfire 17 from our chief UI/UX designer (who knew he could wield the long handle so effectively too?) that propelled the ‘Hipsters’ to a somewhat respectable score of 7/106 off their allotted 12 overs. The general feeling was, it was a slightly below-par score. What happened next was somewhat unprecedented.

V. Prakash - opener - Team Hipsters

After a decent enough start, the mobile app developers (a.k.a ‘Team Geeks’) started losing wickets at regular intervals. The fielding standard of the ‘Hipsters’ was not the greatest – misfields and byes were rather frequent – but the overall tight line and length of the bowlers did the trick quite nicely. The icing on the cake was our UI/UX designer (yes, once again), who chipped in with 3 quick wickets. A valiant rearguard effort from a couple of the senior developers ultimately came to no avail – as the ‘Geeks’ finally ended up a good 29 runs short. One of the iOS app developers, playing for the ‘Hipsters’ hit a frantic 34 – the highest score of the match.

Team Huddle after the 1st innings

Okay, you might by now be wondering which team I played for in this Hipsters vs Geeks mega match. Oh well, I turned out for neither – and instead, donned the mantle of official scorer-cum-commentator. During the match, I had to attend a couple of calls from clients asking for free app quotes – but overall, I ensured that I did not miss out on any action. Yes, we had a (manually-created) official scorecard too!


After the match was over, we had a proper presentation ceremony too. The winning and the defeated captains came up with short speeches – and both of them lauded the efforts put in by their respective team-members. Given the number of…let’s call them ‘silly mistakes’…that happened on the field – a bit of leg-pulling was in order. That bit was reserved for Monday though, we don’t make fun of each other in front of others!


The best thing about this Geeks vs Hipsters match was the spirit in which it was played (I would have loved to say competency, but that would be a stretch!). A minute’s silence was held before the toss, in memory of recently deceased Australian cricketer, Phillip Hughes. There was plenty of…ah…wild, wayward bowling (c’mon, we did not have any match parctice), but no sustained, short-pitched stuff was dished out.

UI/UX designer

And what about sledging – that integral part of modern-day cricket? We did have more than our fair share of friendly banter. Our mobile app designing head (the man with runs and wickets) was at the thick of things regarding this as well. He constantly chirped away at the ‘Geek’ batsmen – which made the latter thoroughly irritated. The other ‘Hipsters’ were, of course, doubling up with laughter at the man’s wacky offers and verbal music to get the opposition batsmen out.


Last but certainly not the least, our lady umpires carried out their responsibilities beautifully. Yes, there were wides and no-balls missed, and a couple of times they did lose the ball-count – but on the whole, they presided over the proceedings efficiently enough. Let’s be fair here too – players from either team kept playfully pressurizing them into adjusting the scores marginally in their favor – but they stood firm!

PHP Developer at Teknowledge Mobile Studio

A full morning’s cricket can make you ravenously hungry – and our mobile app development experts, designers, and the others were living proof of that on that day. After a bit of on-field euphoria from the ‘Hipsters’, we headed to Arsalan – that Park Street haven for biryani-lovers – for a grand Saturday lunch. All of us filled ourselves as much as we could. I do have a sneaky feeling that the food seemed tastier to the ‘Hipsters’ than the ‘Geeks’ though!


All is not lost for ‘Team Geeks’ though. Last Saturday’s match was the first in a three-match series. The next couple of matches would be held over the coming weekends – and everyone is confident of putting up an even better show the next time round. It’s high time we proved that Cricinfo blogs and armchair discussions are not the only things about cricket we are really comfortable with.

Team Hipsters

This was the first installment of the series of year-ending Teks Offsite tours in the offing. Apart from the 2nd and 3rd cricket matches, we have a office tour to Piyali Island, Sunderbans, lined up. Reports on those will be coming up in the next installments of Teks Offsite 2014.


Most of us – me included – are in the habit of checking match scoreboards first on Cricinfo, before reading the full match report. Why should the first unofficial ODI between ‘Team Hipsters’ and ‘Team Geeks’ be any exception? Here’s the scorecard from saturday’s match:


Teks’ Tour Of Maidan

The Geeks Vs The Hipsters Cup 2014 – 1st ODI

(Hipsters won by 29 runs)


Hipsters Innings (12 Overs Maximum)

Batsman Mode of Dismissal RS (BF) Strike Rate
V. Prakash c: J.Rout+ b: J.Agarwal 10 (5) (2×4, 0x6) 200.00
K.K. Dipak b: G. Srivastav 8 (5) (1×4, 0x6) 160.00
S.Ghosh+ b: A.Saha 34 (14) (3×4, 2×6) 242.86
Z.Ahmed b: G. Srivastav 14 (13) (1×4, 0x6) 107.69
S.Goswami* c: G. Srivastav b: J.Agarwal 8 (6) (1×4, 0x6) 133.33
P.Poddar b: A.Saha 12 (7) (2×4, 0x6) 171.43
A.Manna not out 17* (8) (2×4, 0x6) 212.50
D.Nandi run out 1 (2) (0x4, 0x6) 50.00
A.Karak not out 2*(1) (0x4, 0x6) 200.00
Total (12 overs)        7/106 (RR → 8.83)


Geeks Innings (12 Overs Maximum)

(Target: 107 runs off 72 balls)         

Batsman Mode of Dismissal RS (BF) Strike Rate
M.Agarwal c: S.Ghosh+  b: A. Manna 2 (3) (0x4, 0x6) 66.33
R.Kolli c: A.Karak b: V.Prakash 1 (2) (0x4, 0x6) 50.00
G.Srivastav c: S.Ghosh+  b: A. Manna 19 (13) (2×4, 0x6) 146.15
J.Rout c: S.Ghosh+ b: S.Goswami 3 (4) (0x4, 0x6) 75.00
J.Agarwal  run out 16 (8) (2×4, 1×6) 200.00
A.Saha* b: S.Goswami 9 (7) (1×4, 0x6) 128.57
A.Roy Chowdhury not out 16* (11) (2×4, 0x6) 145.45
S.K.Jhunjhunwala run out 9 (7) (1×4, 0x6) 128.57
P.Das run out 0(1) (0x4, 0x6) 0.00
K.Reddy b: S.Goswami 0(1) (0x4, 0x6) 0.00
Total (11.2 overs)     77 (RR → 6.75)



Toss: Geeks, who chose to field


Umpires: D. Banerjee & D. Chatterjee

TV Umpire/Reserve Umpire/Match Referee: H. Fakhruddin


MOTM: A. Manna (17*, 3 wickets, and plenty of friendly sledging!)


Hipsters lead 3-match series 1-0.

AppBoard Tuesday – How To Keep Your Mobile Apps Secure?

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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Every mobile app company in the world claims that its applications come with ‘100% security assurance’. To be fair, most of them do perform rigorous app testing (on devices, in the cloud, etc.) procedures, to detect and delete bugs. Considering that it takes close to $5000 to identify and fix a major bug/malware after an app has been released, such precautions on the part of app companies are hardly surprising. Unfortunately, the awareness levels among general users regarding mobile app security is rather low. That, in essence, is the topic under the scanner in this week’s edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT).


Before jumping headlong in the discussion on mobile app security, a myth needs to be cleared. There is a popular misconception that, while malware is a pretty common feature in Android apps, iOS applications are more-or-less bug-free. Stats, however, suggest otherwise. 4 out of every 10 free iPhone apps (on average) are hacked every quarter – making them vulnerable to attacks as well. For the record, close to 80% of the featured free Android apps can be hacked.


So, how to ensure that the apps you download are indeed bug-free AND their chances of getting hacked are minimal? The following tips should come in handy:


  1. Download with care – Do not rush to download and install every new app that arrives at the stores. Get apps only from official online stores (i.e., Apple iTunes and Google Play Store). Do not make the folly of not reading the user-reviews of the app before downloading. The privacy policy clauses and official terms & conditions are worth going through as well. In short, know everything about the piece of mobile software you wish to have on your smart device.
  2. Filter all inputs – For most data-driven mobile applications, SQL Injection is a major security threat. Expert iOS and Android app developers generally advise people to filter all inputs (at the device level) to counter this risk. All types of potentially corrupt/malicious data will be blocked out.
  3. Know the unique security layers of your device – The security features (and similarly, the vulnerabilities) of the iOS platform is different from those on the Android platform. Blackberry and Windows platforms have their own security frameworks as well. Do some research about these platform and device-specific mobile security features. Security across all mobile platforms is not standardized – and knowledge on this would help you select suitable apps for your device.
  4. Are you hiring a mobile app agency? – If yes, kindly be very careful while making your choice. Avoid getting lured in by the tall promises of free app quotes and ‘too good to be true’ testimonials showcased by shady companies. Check out app portfolios, talk with the company representatives, find out about the mobile app testing standards maintained, and other such pertinent information. Hire a company which has a decent track record of creating successful apps for third-party clients.
  5. Perform static and dynamic verification of apps – Or if you can’t, get someone familiar with mobile technology to do the tests. A thoroughly performed static verification would make sure that bad/corrupt APIs have not wormed their way into the build of an app. Dynamic verification, on the other hand, requires the involvement of all the backend systems in a live IT environment. Neither static nor dynamic verification of apps is yet very popular – but as mobile security concerns grow, they are likely to become integral parts of mobile application testing.
  6. Choose VPN over public, unprotected wi-fi networks – Everyone uses mobile internet services on the go. However, precious few people have any idea about how their favorite web-enabled apps are getting connected to the web. More often than not, apps access the network via non-encrypted, public wi-fi systems. That can be disastrous from a security perspective, since unauthorized access of mobile data becomes a distinct possibility (in fact, easy for any hacker logged on to the same network). It is always preferable to connect apps to the web (if required) via a secure virtual private network (VPN).
  7. Know the importance of passcodes and app locks – Whenever you are not near your smartphone/tablet, do spend a few extra seconds to lock your device with a unique, secure passcode. This would rule out the chances of someone else messing about with your apps in your absence. Many mobile app development companies create applications that have locking options as well. Activate these app locks, whenever you do not intend to use an app for an extended period of time. Of course, try not to hand over your handset to other people. It’s your personal device, after all!
  8. The importance of ‘https://’ in mobile CMS – Agencies that create iPhone/Android apps emphasize on this factor. When you are using any app to pull content from the web, it is of essence that secure browsing (https://) is on in the mobile content management system (CMS). Avoid storing any data to ‘NSUserDefaults’. Ideally, do not store too much of confidential, sensitive information in an app at all – whatever the security attributes of the latter might be. Who knows when a hack attack might come calling?
  9. Having an antivirus application is important – Particularly for Android users. You might mistakenly download a buggy app from the store (Google Play Store, in particular, has plenty of them). A reliable anti-malware app like McAfee, Avast or 360 Mobile Security would make sure that a faulty app would not infect your device. It would be advisable for iPhone/iPad users to install a mobile antivirus too, before going on an app-downloading spree. As pointed out above, iOS apps need not necessarily be ‘bug-free’.
  10. Protect your data during transit – Every quarter, hundreds of new instant messaging (IM), photo-sharing and file-sharing apps are released. Most of them are properly tested, but there can be the occasional ‘black sheep’ (read: the ones that flout app security guidelines). Hence, while using any new app to share data, you need to encrypt all the important information. In this context, it should also be stated that your app login information must be private and secure.
  11. Delete hoax messages and meaningless chain mails – The ‘forward this message to 10 of your friends NOW’ messages on WhatsApp and WeChat seem like a whole lot of fun – but they can be security threats too. Many such chain mails contain a link, which, if clicked (rest assured, there will be a ‘call-to-action’), can lead to serious malware attacks. Many people do not forward such messages, but do not delete them either. That can also be dangerous. Get rid of every hoax message as soon as possible – there’s no saying which of them might be a virus file.
  12. Do not keep Bluetooth or Wi-fi on unnecessarily – Device-to-device and device-to network connectivity are supposed to be used only when such functionality is required. Many users do not bother turning off their phone bluetooth, after file transfer(s) are complete. The same goes for the device wi-fi settings, which remain on even when browsing can be done using mobile data. Remember, the more ‘open’ you keep your smart device, the greater is the scope for a hacker to target your apps.

Rooting Android devices and performing iOS jailbreak is a common activity among smartphone-owners. Most people do not bother to consider that the latter, in particular, can be very risky (since it renders all warranties on iDevices null and void). Near-field communication (NFC) is coming with Apple Pay – and those who wish to make mobile payments via it have to be doubly cautious. Mobile app developers and security analysts also advise activating the remote data wiping feature of applications, whenever available.


With that, we come to the end of this week’s AppBoard Tuesday (ABT). Do share with us the mobile security measures you use, and whether there are any other ways for safer usage of mobile applications. You can also suggest other app-related topics that you would like to be covered in future editions of ABT.


An update on what our in-house app developers are working on now. Doo’l (, an image-based social networking app, is in the final stages of testing, and would be launched soon. We have also started working on 3 other new apps – myBabySitter, iChatty and 1Cloud2. Wish us luck for those.


Till next Tuesday, ABT will take your leave. Don’t forget to…stay zapped with apps!

Busted! 16 Myths About Mobile App Development

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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The popularity of mobile apps has gone up by leaps and bounds in the recent past. As the potential profitability (for developers) and benefits (for end-users) of apps have increased, several myths about them have also surfaced. We have here busted some of these myths.


The progress of mobile technology over the last half a decade or so has been nothing short of remarkable. The total number of app downloads from the Apple Store has gone beyond 75 billion, and the worldwide mobile app industry has hit the $25 billion mark (a rise of over 60% compared to last year) earlier in 2014. As app development companies have started sprouting in cities all across the globe, several myths and misconceptions about this line of business have also started doing the rounds. In the following piece, we will be debunking some of these myths:


Mobile Apps Create Their Own Demand


Let’s just say it’s not easy as that. If you create an Android or iPhone application, there is no guarantee that hefty revenues will start flowing from it. Both Google Play Store and Apple iTunes have more than 1.3 million apps each, and your promotional campaigns have to be robust enough – to make your products stand out in the competition. It would be too naive to expect that people will rush to get every new app that is launched at the stores.


Mobile App Developers Need To Know Every Programming Language


Greater programming knowledge is always good for developers, but it’s far from true that they need to know every coding technique that exists. For iOS app developers, in-depth knowledge of Objective-C and Swift is necessary, while Android developers need to be really proficient in Java. Having said that, most mobile app agencies prefer to hire developers with knowledge of around 8-10 languages, for creating enterprise apps.


App Ideas Have To Be As Unique As Possible


This is a tricky one. Run-of-the-mill ideas for apps are hardly of any worth, even if the technological expertise at your disposal is of the highest order. However, you should not strive to think up ideas that are too unique, bordering on weird. If no one has ever thought up the idea you intend to work on – chances are high that your target buyers won’t get the point of the app either. Your focus has to be on IMPROVING the type of apps already present, and not on making a breakthrough.


Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Is Too Difficult


Far from it. Most leading mobile app companies go for the ‘configure once, run anywhere’ coding method – which does away with the need for developing separate versions of applications for each device. You will be wasting time, money and of course, a whole lot of extra man-hours – if you plan to develop customized app versions for every platform (iOS, Android, Blackberry, etc.) separately. All that is required is a proper mobility platform.


Native Apps Are The Way To Go, Since Making Them Is Easier


In the professional world of mobile technology, not having an integrated mobile app development strategy is akin to inviting technical issues in future. Using readymade manufacturer SDKs might seem more convenient to start with – but the absence of app analytics, management and back-end support will come back to haunt you later on. In fact, opting for native apps only can pose problems during the testing phase as well.


Mobile Apps Are Invariably Very Cheap


Many smartphone-owners have this misconception. Their rationale is simple (and thoroughly wrong!) enough – mobile applications are smaller in size than web applications, and hence, the former should cost less. This is, unfortunately, not true. Significant costs have to be incurred to hire the services of a mobile app agency, and get an application developed. The only things that is generally available for free are the app quotes.


It Takes Several Months To Create A Mobile App


If this were to be true, hardly any corporate firm would have been able to use dedicated apps for promotional purposes. Thanks to reusability of codes, anything between 6-8 weeks is enough for making a relatively straightforward Android or iPhone app (the time span can get extended by a week or so for complex apps). It’s all about backend integration and the efficiency/reliability of developers. If they are good at their job, there is no question of waiting half a year for an app!


Funds Are The First Thing Startup Companies Should Think About


Think about it like this – unless your app ideas are viable enough, or if you do not have capble app developers/graphic designers at your disposal, why would anyone invest in your company? A smart mobile app entrepreneur always emphasizes on coming up with apps that would bring in customers. This initial success would get venture capitalists interested, and from there on, funding won’t be a problem. If Steve Jobs had waited to become rich, Apple Inc. would have remained a pipe dream till now.


Making Changes To App Codes Is Not Possible


Nearly all sophisticated mobile app development frameworks offer real-time preview and editing options to developers (think SpriteKit or Cocoa Touch). Even experienced programmers can make errors while coding for an app – and rectifying these is extremely easy. You can tweak the code snippets as much as you want, without having to recode the entire program. Creating an app can be a real exciting assignment indeed.


Only The Best-Looking Apps Get Featured At Stores


Interesting UI/UX designs and an overall ‘nice’ appearance is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for a successful app. Focusing solely on the mobile app designing aspects (in-app navigation, color schemes, splash screen, etc.) and neglecting the functionality aspect in the process would be a grave folly. Few people would be interested in downloading a beautiful app that is not of much practical use. Even those who do would also uninstall it soon enough.


Having An App Development Team Is Necessary


Preferable, yes. Necessary, not quite. There are plenty of freelance mobile app developers plying their trade across the world – most of them having large clientele. However, it is true that many corporate clients prefer hiring the services of a full-fledged app development team. Presence of a team ensures that unforeseen delays would not crop up during the app development stage. Freelancers cannot offer this assurance.


Making An App Is A One-Shot Game


Well, it’s not. After your app has been approved and released at app stores, you have to keep track of download figures, user feedback, plan future upgrades, and perform other related tasks – on an ongoing basis. Except when working for a third-party client, a mobile app developer has to think as the ‘owner’ of the application as well. And of course, the total ownership costs are more than the one-time app development expenses.


Business Apps Tend To Slow Down Devices


It has been projected that by the end of 2017, the monthly data usage on 4G smartphones and tablets would both be well in excess of 5000 MB. That, in turn, gives rise to the suspicion that installing multiple apps (especially enterprise apps) would result in too much of mobile bandwidth consumption. However, business applications need not always be heavy. In fact, contemporary app developers make it a point to create apps that do not hamper the performance of devices in any way.


No Technological Expertise = Cannot Create Apps


Technology, programming knowledge, coding expertise – call it what you will – is only a medium for mobile app development. The focal point is always the potential and viability of your app idea. Provided that you have done your research well and have brainstormed a good app idea, you can always hire a company to convert it into an app. Anyone can make an app – technology need not be a barrier for this. After all, there are thousands of mobile app companies to take care of that.


Cross-Platform Apps Often Compromise On Functionality


At a time when developers are increasingly blending in native and hybrid app development techniques, believing this myth would be downright silly. Yes, the opportunities and challenges of developing for the Android platform differ from those on the iOS platform – but making customized multi-platform, fully functional apps is far from impossible. Cross-platform mobile app development has evolved a great deal over the last couple of years.


Paid Promotions Are An Absolute Must


Once again, paid mobile app marketing campaigns can be great – but they are certainly not the only form of promotions mobile companies are concerned about. The prime emphasis has to be on meeting the expectations (and delivering ‘wow-factors’) of the early adopters of a mobile application. This, over time, leads to positive word-of-mouth publicity – which keeps pushing up app download figures (or, if your app has a glitch, it is revealed soon). There are many app review channels on Facebook and other social media channels, where you can promote your app for free. There are many online portals as well, where apps can be submitted for appraisals.

Yet another point that clients often overlook is the importance of intellectual property rights of mobile apps. If the legal owner is not on his/her guard, a shady company can bypass the need for signing non-competing agreements – and that can lead to hassles in future. Mobile app development is arguably the most booming business in the tech domain – and it’s high time the above myths are dispelled.