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Archive for December 2012

The Web as we know it have been born and matured on computers, but as it turns out now, computers no longer have dominance in it. According to a recent report by analyst Mary Meeker, mobile devices running iOS and Android now account for 45 percent of browsing, compared to just 35 percent for Windows machines. Moreover, Android and iOS have essentially achieved their share in just five years and their share is getting tremendously larger.

According to some forecasts their worldwide number of mobile devices users should overtake the worldwide number of PC users next year. If forecasts come true, this shift will not only continue, but accelerate. Based on data from Morgan Stanley, Meeker estimates roughly 2.9 billion people around the world will be using smartphones and tablets by 2015.

What does it mean now that more people are accessing the Web through tablets and smartphones rather than laptops and desktops? And is it really a big deal? Anyway, Internet is intended to be accessed from anywhere and thus from any device. Well, it is quite a change at least in terms most people consider the Web and how it gradually adapts to be used on mobile devices.

Apps-like sites
As mobile devices take over, the use of today’s desktop browsers like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari will decline. Mobile browsers are already very capable and will increasingly adopt HTML5 and leading-edge Web technologies. As mobile devices naturally have less screen area, the sites need to function more like mobile apps and less like collections of links. So the sites are likely to look like apps.

Apps may rule
Native apps for smartphones and tablets almost always surpass websites designed for mobile devices because they can tap into devices’ native capabilities for a more responsive and seamless experience. This is most likely to change in the nearest future – most experts agree HTML5 is eventually the way of the future. This is already the status quo in social gaming: for example Angry Birds and Words with Friends. Some services won’t be available at all to traditional PCs — they won’t be worth developers’ time.

Less information at once
Web sites and publishers will no longer be able to display everything new for users and hoping something will catch the user’s eye. Smaller screens and lower information density means sites will need to adjust to user preferences and profiles to customize the information they present. Increasingly, the Internet will become unusable unless sites believe they know who you are. Some services will handle these tasks themselves, but the most likely contenders for supplying digital identity credentials are Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Twitter, and mobile carriers.

Sharing by default
In a mobile-focused Internet, anonymity becomes rare. Virtually every mobile device can be definitively associated with a single person (or small group of people). Defaults to share information and experiences with social circles and followers will be increasingly common, along with increasing reliance on disclosure of personal information (like location, status, and activities, and social connections) to drive key functionality. As the Internet re-orients around mobile, opting out of sharing will increasingly mean opting out of the Internet.

Emphasis on destination
Internet-based sites and services will increasingly function as a combination of content and functionality reluctant to link out to other sites or drive traffic (and potential advertising revenue) elsewhere. These have long been factors in many sites’ designs but mobile devices amplify these considerations by making traditional Web navigation awkward and difficult. Still URLs are not going to die – people will still send links to their friends and Web search will remain most users primary means of finding information online.

Going light weight
As people rely on mobile, cloud, and broadband services, the necessity to do things like commute, store large volumes of records or media, or patronize physical businesses will decline. Businesses won’t need to save years of invoices, statements, and paperwork in file boxes and storage facilities – cloud storage comes as their rescue. Banks will become purely virtual institutions consumers deal with online via their phones. Distance learning and collaborative tools will let students take their coursework with them anywhere — and eliminate the need to worry about reselling enormous textbooks.

Going mobile is an obvious trend today. Experts envisage that nearly every service, business, and person who wants to use the Internet will be thinking mobile first and PC second, if they think about PCs at all. Do you agree? And what other related changes can you imagine?

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

Aliona Kavalevich

Aliona Kavalevich
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Skype ID: aliona_kavalevich
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

WHAT

In today’s business and technology world you can’t have a conversation without touching upon the issue of big data. Some would say big data is a buzzword and the topic is not new at all. Still from my point of view recently, for the last two-three years, the reality around the data has been changing considerably and so it makes sense to discuss big data so hotly. And the figures prove it.

IBM reports we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. In 2011 our global output of data was estimated at 1.8 billion terabytes. What impresses it that 90 percent of the data in the world today was created in the past two years according to Big Blue. In the information century those who own the data and can analyze it properly and then use it for decision-making purpose will definitely rule the world. But if you don’t have the tools to manage and perform analytics on that never-ending flood of data, it’s essentially garbage.

Big data is not really a new technology, but a term used for a handful of technologies: analytics, in-memory databases, NoSQL databases, Hadoop. They are sometimes used together, sometimes not. While some of these technologies have been around for a decade or more, a lot of pieces are coming together to make big data the hot thing.

Big data is so hot and is changing things for the following reasons:
- It can handle massive amounts of all sorts of information, from structured, machine-friendly information in rows and columns toward the more human-friendly, unstructured data from sensors, transaction records, images, audios and videos, social media posts, logs, wikis, e-mails and documents,
- It works fast, almost instantly,
- It is affordable because it uses ordinary low-cost hardware.

WHY NOW

Big data is possible now because other technologies are fueling it:
-Cloud provides affordable access to a massive amount of computing power and to loads of storage: you don’t have to buy a mainframe and a data center, and pay just for what you use.
-Social media allows everyone to create and consume a lot of interesting data.
-Smartphones with GPS offer lots of new insights into what people are doing and where.
-Broadband wireless networks mean people can stay connected almost everywhere and all the time.

HOW

The majority of organizations today are making the transition to a data-driven culture that leverages data and analytics to increase revenue and improve efficiency. For this a complex approach should be taken, so called MORE approach as Avanade recommends:
-Merge: to squeeze the value out of your data, you need to merge data from multiple sources, like structured data from your CRM and unstructured data from social news feeds to gain a more holistic view on the point. The challenge here is in understanding which data to bring together to provide the actionable intelligence.
-Optimize: not all data is good data, and if you start with bad data, with data-driven approach you’ll just be making bad decisions faster. You should identify, select and capture the optimal data set to make the decisions. This involves framing the right questions and utilizing the right tools and processes.
-Respond: just having data does mean acting on it. You need to have the proper reporting tools in place to surface the right information to the people who need it, and those people then need the processes and tools to take action on their insights.
-Empower: data can’t be locked in silos, and you need to train your staff to recognize and act on big data insights.

And what is big data for your company? Why do you use it? And how do you approach a data-driven decision-making model in your organization?

Would be interesting to hear your point.

Helen Boyarchuk

Helen Boyarchuk
Helen.Boyarchuk@altabel.com
Skype ID: helen_boyarchuk
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

One of my latest articles was about the android app advertizing networks, where I tried to enumerate one of the best and most popular networks existing at the moment. And what about iPhone networks ? – I thought. Developers and publishers can certainly make money with iPhone apps as well as with Android ones and receive quite good money. So in order not to be accused of being a “mobile platform racist” I`ve tried to prepare the list of some interesting ad networks that iphone app and game developers may use :) You could pick the one you like and use it to monetize your iPhone app. Let`s get into the list….

iAd – iAd is considered to be one of the best Ad network that is directly owned by Apple and it is serving the most number of iPhone Apps already available in the market. iAd claims that currently every 100′s of their publishers are earning $50,000 per quarter in average. iAd shares the owners of the apps 60% of the income generated by the iPhone App.

Similar to AdMob, iAd facilitates integrating advertisements into applications sold on the iOS App Store. If the user taps on an iAd banner, a full-screen advertisement appears within the application.

LeadBolt App Advertising – With this Mobile App network, you could integrate their SDK to monetize your Apps. They support different formats of advertisements like Text Ads, Banner Ads, Video Ads etc. You could customize the Ad placements like entry Ads, exit Ads, Menu Ads and test around to maximize your earnings.

Smatto App Advertising Network – This is one of the highest paying Ad network which gives 90% of Ad earnings to developers and publishers and keeps only the remaining 10%. It has simple APIs which gives access to multiple Ad networks around the countries and you could pick the required Ad networks. However, to join Smatto you must generate 30+ million page impressions per month . It is compatible with iPhone iOS, Android, Nokia OVI, windows, blackberry.

iPhoneAlliance – Alliance represents about 50 million page views delivered from 10 million App users around the world specialized in iPhone App advertising. They are providing an end-to-end Ad solution which helps to configure, manage and to optimize ad performance so that you could maximize the earnings from iPhone Apps.

Mobclix App Advertising – This is one of the ad network which supports real-time bidding for advertisers and hence there are more possibilities to maximize your earnings. They have impression based earnings and your App gets the power to earn from each Ad impression it makes. Like other programs, it connects with multiple ad networks and gives single payment.

MobFox – MobFox is world’s highest-paying mobile advertising network for US & EU Traffic on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7 applications and mobile websites. Instead of working with hundreds of different advertisers and networks, they concentrate on placing the most engaging and most paying premium ads on users applications or mobile websites.

Here you see a short list of interesting iPhone add networks available and I hope this list will be of interest and use to you :) Have you ever tried to promote your iPhone apps and games through some ad network? It will be great if you could share your experience.

Anna Kozik

Anna Kozik
Anna.Kozik@altabel.com
Skype ID: kozik_anna
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Nowadays, more and more people use their mobile devices for the majority of their computer needs. That’s why mobile web application frameworks are in high demand for developers. There are several great mobile web frameworks that allow you to create an application with a native “look and feel” interface. Among them are jQuery Mobile, Sencha Touch, iWebKit, DHTMLX Touch, etc. If you have decided to develop a web application for mobile devices and you want to use a client-side framework to achieve this, Sencha Touch (ST) and JQueryMobile (JQM) seem to be the most serious options. What are their strong and weak points? Let’s see.

Sencha Touch

ST is a mobile web app development framework, which is compatible with HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. It is really a sensational framework widely used by mobile web developers. With it building web apps for mobile platforms which feel more like native apps is not a problem for a developer.

ST comes with a MVC framework which leads to a well structured code base. It is really a big plus, especially for large projects. Using ST you will likely not have to write a lot of HTML as the DOM (Document Object Model )is generated out of the objects models / widgets that you use. Besides, a wide range of UI widgets to choose from, as well as robust data, layout and component models are at your disposal.

Speaking of device support, ST website actually supports iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. It works really good on iOS. As for Android, it can be slow on large lists. Some problems may occur with Blackberry, so it may be better to choose another framework for this device.

ST also has enhanced support for touch events such as double tap, swipe, hold, pinch and rotate.

Developing on your desktop you should keep in mind that ST does not support all browser engines. You are required to use a browser based on Webkit (like Google Chrome or Safari). You are not able to view Sencha Touch apps in Firefox, Internet Explorer, or any other browser not using the Webkit engine.

ST provides great API documentation and sample demos. But the ST API uses a fairly large (120kb) JavaScript library that is much larger than the jQuery Mobile library.

ST is not easy to get running on the fly. It is almost a purely programmatic model, as you don’t design pages in HTML, but programmatically add elements to a page. So sometimes it’s difficult to make web design separately in HTML.

As for converting sites to work with the framework, it may involve a full front-end rewrite and it is very hard to debug and fix errors in ST.

Pros: MVC codebase; good support of iOS; enhanced support for touch events; great API documentation and sample demos

Cons: is not easy to get running on the fly; a large JavaScript library; problems with converting sites to work with the framework; very hard to debug and fix errors; may be slow on Android; not working properly on Blackberry

jQuery Mobile

JQM is Touch-Optimized Web Framework for Smartphones & Tablets. It is a unified user interface system across all popular mobile device platforms, built on the rock-solid jQuery and jQuery UI foundation.

JQM is really quick to develop with. You can just start with clean HTML markup and then apply “progressive enhancement techniques” or extra HTML element attributes to integrate mobile features into an existing semantic structure.

As for MVC, JQM doesn’t have it. So lot of care has to be taken while organizing the code.

The framework claims to offer a broad level of support across a wide range of platforms, and progressive enhancement for older devices and operating systems. Instead of writing unique apps for each mobile device or OS, the jQuery mobile framework will allow you to design a single highly branded and customized web application that will work on all popular smartphone and tablet platforms.

JQM includes a great AJAX-powered navigation system which enables animated page transitions while maintaining back button, bookmarking and clean URLs.

The framework comes with a CSS theme styling system that enables a simple project to get off the ground very quickly. Then this can be easily extended with your own custom styles. But the CSS theme styling system has limited options so sites built can look similar.

The bad thing is that page transitions and animations don’t feel ‘native’ enough and can be sluggish sometimes.

Pros: JQM is quick to develop with; supports all major browsers and platforms; has a great AJAX-powered navigation system; CSS theme styling system enables a simple project start very quickly

Cons: no given code structure (MVC); CSS theme styling system has limited options (sites may look similar); page transitions and animations don’t feel ‘native’ enough

So after comparing these two frameworks on some points, we see that ST has a given code structure and feels more like coding in Java/C# while jQuery Mobile is more like web with the HTML you write. So it’s better to use ST if you are used to Java/C# and only want to support such devices as iPhone and Android. And if you are a webdeveloper, used to jQuery and HTML and want to support the majority of devices and browsers, using jQuery Mobile seems to be more sound.

And what are your thoughts? I’m eager to know which mobile web application framework will you define as the best solution for developing a web app for a mobile device? Will it be Sencha Touch or jQuery mobile or some other great framework? Thanks and looking forward to your comments!

Yuliya Tolkach

Yuliya Tolkach
Yulia.Tolkach@altabel.com
Skype ID: yuliya_tolkach
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Unity as a company has one mission: help games developers be more successful. Unity is one of the top game development platforms, routinely seen powering the biggest games on a multitude of platforms such as Castle Warriors, Battle Bears, Max & the Magic Marker, CSR Racing, Temple Run and Shadowgun and now it is the turn of Windows Phone to get in on the Unity action!

The decision to bring Unity to Windows Phone was driven by an upwelling of requests from developers and gamers alike. Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason has announced during the opening keynote of the Unite 12 in Amsterdam the 6th Annual Developer Conference that its game creation platform Unity will be supporting Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 after the update to Unity 4 version.

“Our mission at Unity has always been to provide solutions for developers to effortlessly bring their work to as many different platforms as possible,” said David Helgason.
Microsft senior director of Windows app marketing John Richards added: “We are excited that the Unity community will now be given the opportunity to develop world class titles for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

Let’s try to see why it is a big deal for game development world to support and bring game development on windows 8 and windows phone 8 !

Helgason claims that 53 per cent of mobile developers have made use of the Unity engine, with 300,000 of them active on a monthly basis.
Unity licenses are available for almost all other modern gaming platforms — including iOS, Android, Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3 — and the engine has been used to create popular mobile games such as Shadowgun.
Now the developers community is ready and willing to bring their games to the new versions of Windows. While do we have guarantee that developers will do it painless and not taking too much time and efforts?

It is the known fact that Windows Phone 7 never really got off the ground as a gaming platform, but its successor got an early boost today in the shape of Unity support. Windows Phone (like iOS and Android) has some heavy and understandable restrictions on how things can be done. Helgason previously said that Unity didn’t support Windows Phone 7 due to its “relatively closed” nature, but expressed hope that Windows 8 would prove easier to work with. David was keen to point out that it’s no more a problem of Windows Phone 8 than any other mobile OS. Only in the last few months has the project reached the level where they are confident they are able to deliver the goods.

Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 are to share the same core so it was of interest to hear David’s thoughts on just how similar the two are platforms really are. He thinks that the two resemble more closely how Apples iOS and OSX look in terms of game development. The desktop OS naturally gives up huge amounts of resources whilst the mobile OS is far more restricted. Whilst the cores are the same, the amount that can be achieved on each platform varies greatly.

When it comes to Windows Phone 8, we’re going to see an entirely new base specification, improved GFX handling and dual core CPU. David’s feeling is that Microsoft are putting out sensible guidelines for their next gen hardware. It’s a well-known problem with Android that often times the superior hardware can’t be utilized properly or devices simply aren’t capable of rendering 3D at all. In this regard, Microsoft is making the right move by ensuring the spec of the devices remains a known constant.
But to my point of view it is hard to say either way if Microsoft have done enough with their next OS to ensure it’s a rock solid gaming platform, it’s still too early to tell.

Personally me along with many developers and just game lovers have a really good sense that Windows Phone 8 is going to work really well as a gaming platform.

There had been invested so much into the platform and to be honest it is designed very well. The Unity lovers have a good feeling that Windows Phone 8 is going to be big.
For developers using Unity and the company itself, the prospects for mobile games sales are huge. Even if the platform remains the third of fourth eco system, it will still present a valuable extra market for developers to target. For a game developer, once they have made a game in Unity, porting it to another platform is very straightforward. The economics of porting the games to other platforms like Windows Phone are actually very attractive. That should bode very well for future games releases on WP8. With little or no work in actually porting, there is almost nothing to lose in releasing to the Marketplace.

To show a positive perspective I would give the example of Microsoft’s Build developer conference held at the company’s campus in Redmond, WA, where Tony Garcia, Unity EVP of Business Development, took the stage during the mobile keynote to talk about Unity’s commitment to Windows Phone 8 by demonstrating just how empowering development for the platform can be for new and existing Unity-authored games and apps.
Tony spoke while Field Engineer Corey Johnson toured the Unity development environment, using a level from Madfinger’s Shadowgun as the example project. The short demonstration provided onlookers (both on-site and online) unfamiliar with Unity a good idea of the power, versatility, and efficiency of the tools. As Tony talked, Corey demonstrated how easily projects can be changed between platforms and built for Windows Phone 8 in Unity.

Shadowgun was then demonstrated running on a Windows Phone 8 mobile device and it looked mighty fantastic.
It’s clear that Unity is going to play a big role in the early months of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 device availability with games like Shadowgun, Ski Safari, and Temple Run headlining a number of other amazing Unity-authored titles. And as the Shadowgun level demonstrates, things are looking good!
“The number of high-quality Unity-authored games for the PC, Xbox, and mobile devices already created is staggering and we’re looking forward to seeing these products appear in the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Marketplace,” senior director of Windows app marketing at Microsoft John Richards said.

To summarize all said above I would say that I am both excited and positive about Windows Phone 8′s gaming future. Unity should help light up Windows Phone 8 as a gaming platform. With Unity, Porting games to and from Windows Phone should take only a couple of days isn’t it great?!
While we couldn’t learn about future games coming to Windows Phone 8, I were assured that we are going to be very excited to see what’s coming. It is really interesting to observe who and how many developers are switching to developing for Windows Phone now that Unity is coming to the platform? How quickly people will be following it? What thoughts and “forecast” do you have in mind? I have a strong feeling that Things are about to change :) .. And you?

Polina Mikhan

Polina Mikhan
Polina.Mikhan@altabel.com
Skype ID: poly1020
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


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