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If you’re just learning the Android ropes, you might get tangled up in a mistake or two. Here are 10 ways to avoid problems and get the maximum benefit from your Android device.

Android is the most widely used platform on the planet. That means it is being used by a variety of skill levels. If you exist on the newbie end of the scale (or if you have to support a group of newbies running Android), know that there are some common mistakes made with this Google-centric platform. Some mistakes come from the adjustments you have to make when migrating from another platform. But others are a bit more grievous and could even cause some form of data loss. All these mistakes can be easily avoided with just a bit of knowledge. So that’s what I’m going to give to you — in the form of 10 preventable newbie mistakes.

1. Don’t expect it to act like an iPhone

Many users who migrate from the iOS platform expect Android to behave the same way. Sure, fundamentally it does. It will make and receive phone calls, check email, and view web pages. But once you get beyond the basic functionality, the Android and iOS platforms have little in common. If you assume that Android and iPhone smartphones are the same, you are in for a frustrating experience. Each platform approaches tasks differently, and if you assume your Android device is similar to an iPhone, you’ll miss out on a lot of features.

2. Secure it now

You have plenty of data on that smartphone… data you do not want getting into to the hands of other users. To that end, you must secure your smartphone with a password, or a pattern, a fingerprint, or whatever your device offers. No matter how you approach it, don’t leave your data open for all to see. In the case of your Google account, consider two-step authentication. You want your device as secure as possible.

3. Avoid that POP

The single most common question I get is, “Why are emails disappearing from my phone or desktop?” It’s because you set up your email as a POP account and didn’t configure your phone or desktop to retain messages on the server. The best way around this is to avoid configuring your email account as a POP account. With Android you can set up many types of accounts… but just avoid POP as much as you can.

4. Don’t drown yourself in widgets

I’ve seen Android homescreens so dense with launchers and widgets, it looked like the app drawer vomited up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unfortunately, the more widgets you have on your homescreen (especially those that display data from online accounts) the more battery you will use. If you really want a few widgets on your homescreen, choose wisely and don’t overdo it.

5. Don’t overlook Gmail

Android and Gmail are like peanut butter and chocolate — they work perfectly together. If you get an Android device and don’t have a Gmail account, create one. Why? You’re missing out on a LOT of features (the Google Play Store, backups, and more). Make sure you create your Gmail account before you set up your phone. It’ll make things far easier in the long run.

6. Be smart about permissions

When you install an app, you’ll be warned about what permissions that app requires for use. Do not ignore those permissions, as they can give you insight into the app’s nature. If you’re installing an app that will serve as a mirror and it requires permission to use your location and your email, don’t install it! There are certain permissions that should be given only to certain apps. Do not ignore the permissions warning. Period. Learn what it means and how it works. Know when to stop installing an app based on the permissions it requires.

7. Red-light that Bluetooth

If you don’t use Bluetooth for anything, why leave it on? It’s only going to drain your battery (and Android does that well enough by itself). Shut off Bluetooth from within the Settings app and you won’t have to worry about added battery drain. The same can be said of shutting off Wi-Fi when it is not in use.

8. Stop hoarding those apps

Open up your app drawer. Do you see a veritable cornucopia of unused apps? If so, uninstall them. Your Android device is not a dumping ground for cutesy apps of the day. If you know you’re done flapping angry birds get rid of the app. Those unused apps take up precious space, and in some cases, they could be helping to drain your battery (even if they’re unused). It’s not that those apps are going to suck your battery dry. But why take the chance that they are even draining it in the slightest? If you don’t use it, lose it.

9. Tap into all that power

One of the biggest differences between Android and iOS is the degree of flexibility and control. You have much more control over what your phone can do on Android — so much so, that many new users are overwhelmed or intimidated by all the bells and whistles. Don’t be. If you turn your back on all the possibilities, you miss out on a lot of features that could make your mobile life far easier. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should just start randomly tapping buttons. Use that power with intelligence and understanding.

10. Don’t neglect updates

There are reasons why you get warnings about updates: because they are often necessary for device security or efficiency. Apple pushes out only major updates and does so as a whole package. But there are instances when Android pieces can be updated. Many times these updates will occur without your assistance. However, you should still go into the Application Manager to find out whether there are updates for certain apps or elements of Android (the Play Store is a good example). Make sure you are updating on a regular basis. And be sure to install (and use) Secure Update Scanner so you don’t fall victim to the pileup flaw.

Reap the benefits, avoid the pitfalls

Android is a powerhouse of a platform and has eclipsed all other mobile platforms in global usage. That means there are a lot of first-time users. Don’t fall prey to any of these beginner mistakes and you’ll enjoy a long and productive life with Android.

Have you made some newbie mistakes on Android? Do you think there are just as many mistakes to be made by iOS novices? Share your thoughts bellow.

 

Lina Deveikyte Lina Deveikyte
Lina.Deveikyte@altabel.com 
Skype ID: lina_deveikyte
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

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Quick, grab all of your devices and check what release of Android they are using. Are they all the same? If so, consider yourself one in a million. The Android platform is plagued with numerous releases on numerous devices — even the same devices from different carriers can suffer from different iterations of Android!

Because of what I do, I have numerous Android devices. The different releases are:

  • 4.0.4
  • 4.1.2
  • 4.3
  • 4.4.2

All of the above are on devices ranging from a Samsung Galaxy Tab to an HTC One Max (and just about everything in between). As I work with one of the various devices, I have to bounce back and forth to remember where something is located on a certain release. Although this isn’t a deal breaker for me, imagine having to support hundreds of devices, all with varying releases. Now, we’re talking about the breaking of deals.

But this issue goes deeper than that. It’s common knowledge that certain providers and certain device manufacturers are quicker to update than others. Motorola, for one, has always been at the top of the heap for updates. My Moto X always has the latest version of Android (almost immediately upon release). Samsung devices? Not so much. And if you’re with AT&T — good luck.

At one point, Google created the Android Update Alliance. That failed, but not because of Google. The blame here lies at the feet of the carriers and hardware manufacturers, including:

  • AT&T
  • Verizon
  • T-Mobile
  • HTC
  • Motorola
  • Samsung
  • Kyocera

This update issue isn’t only widespread, it’s also very counter to rolling out new devices. How can Samsung (or any manufacturer) or AT&T (or any carrier) sell a device with an out of date OS? And with KitKat showing off how much more efficient it is at memory management, it’s become imperative that Android devices are released with the latest version.

I know this is a challenge for all involved. The second you release a piece of hardware, it could quickly become out of date. And each manufacturer has a different spin on the UI:

  • Motorola Motoblur
  • HTC Sense
  • Samsung Touchwiz

When a new release of Android hits, each company has to integrate the underlying platform with its UI, so there’s another slowdown.

Here’s my beef with this — I can go to the Google Play Store and install any number of home screen launchers, nearly all of which play well with whatever version of Android I’m using (with a rare exception). In some cases, these home screen launchers are developed by a single person who must constantly keep up with changes made to the kernel and various stacks that make up the Android platform. And they do it with aplomb and efficiency.

So, how is it that a single developer can manage this, yet a large company cannot? It truly baffles the mind.

Well, I’ve come up with some ideas that might help this along. Some of them are unlikely, and some of them just might actually work. Let’s take a look:

  • All hardware manufacturers drop their in-house home screen launchers and go with vanilla Android (they can offer their versions on the Google Play Store).
  • Google develops a set of standards for all hardware manufacturers to use for developing their home screen.
  • Set up an OS upgrade check during the first run wizard? Out of date? Update.
  • Carriers stop selling out-of-date Android devices that won’t run any version of Android other than the most recent two major releases.

I know it’s a lose-lose scenario. The carriers, the manufacturers, and Google are not going to see eye-to-eye on this issue. But they need to lose their egos and stranglehold on their devices and come to some sort of unified structure that allows Android updates to roll out in a universal fashion. Having carriers selling devices with out-of-date operating systems does no favors to Android. And users not getting the best possible experience, because a carrier or a manufacturer can’t seem to get the upgrade process refined, does nothing but frustrate users.

KitKat is a substantial improvement over an already solid release. Every Android user should be enjoying the speed and features brought about by the latest iteration of the platform. Every entity involved needs to step up and make this happen… soon!

What do you think? Are you one of those suffering from an out of date release of Android? What do you think needs to be done to resolve this problem? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

 

Kristina Kozlova Kristina Kozlova
Kristina.Kozlova@altabel.com
Skype ID: kristinakozlova
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

There have been esimates that when Microsoft releases Office for the iPad, likely later this month, it could end up bringing in billions of additional dollars to Microsoft’s coffers. Is that hype and overkill, it will it really add that much to Microsoft’s bottom line?

It’s widely expected that on March 27, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will announce Office for the iPad. If that’s true, that will finally put an end to the “will-they-won’t-they” speculation that has swirled around the fate of the suite for years.

How much additional revenue will Microsoft bring in when it releases the suite? Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt says that Microsoft could get $2.5 billion in new Office revenue by releasing Office for the iPad. And Gerry Purdy, principal of MobileTrax, offers even bigger numbers. He believe that Microsoft could gain an additional $1.25 billion in revenue in the first year Microsoft releases Office for the iPad and Android tablets, and $6 billion in annual revenue by 2017.

I think both numbers are wildly inflated. Take a look at Purdy’s reasoning,which is based on Microsoft releasing Office for both Android and the iPad.

He assumes that 25% of iOS and Android tablet users would buy Office and that Microsoft would net $50 per copy sold. He believes that Microsoft will sell Office for the tablets as standalones, rather than include it as part of a subscription to Office 365.

Purdy is likely wrong on both counts. It’s hard to imagine a quarter of all iPad and tablet users buying Office, especially because there are so many free or very low-cost alternatives, including the free Google Docs and Google’s Quickoffice. I’m sure that the percentage of people willing to pay for Office is far, far under 25 percent.

In addition, it’s quite likely that Office will be sold as part of an Office 365 subscription, not as a standalone piece of software. Microsoft has made clear that subscription-based Office is the future, and standalone Office is the past. As just one piece of evidence, Microsoft recently announced a cheaper Office 365 subscription, called Office 365 Personal, that appears to be aimed at those with iPads. It will cost $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for a year for one PC or Mac and one tablet compared to $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year for five devices for the normal subscription version of Office. That means that only some part of additional Office revenue shoud be attributed to the iPad, not all of it.

But that doesn’t really matter. Releasing Office for the iPad is not only about additional revenue. It’s also being done to protect existing revenue and market share. Microsoft needs to fend off Google Docs, which is free and works on all platforms. Releasing Office for the iPad is an important way to do that.

That will be even more important in future years. Rumors are that a 12-inch iPad may eventually come down the pike. If true, that would put it at the screen size of a laptop, and make it more likely that iPad owners will want a productivity suite. If Microsoft wants to keep its hold on the office productivity market, Office needs to be available for the iPad, and at some point, Android tablets as well.

Lina Deveikyte Lina Deveikyte
Lina.Deveikyte@altabel.com 
Skype ID: lina_deveikyte
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Every business starts from the question: ”Which direction to take, how to choose the right niche…”. Most start-ups choose software development as the direction to start with because of quite low launching costs, easiness to start the business, high popularity of IT and the well-known postulate “software will eat the world”. But when choosing IT sphere it is quite important to understand this market and find new perspective areas in it. As investors and business angels are much more eager to invest not in what is popular today, but what will be the future of tomorrow.

In my article I would like to draw your attention to some trends that seem promising in my opinion

The Internet of things

The Internet of Things is likely to have a staggering impact on our daily life and become an inherent part of such areas as electricity, transportation, industrial control, retail, utilities management, healthcare, petroleum etc. For example, GE predicts that the oil and gas industry will be able to save more than $90 billion a year thanks to the reduced operating costs and fuel consumption that smart components will deliver. The health care sector may save more than $63 billion because of improved resource usage and modern equipment.

Also the Industrial Internet will make transport more economical, and safer too. Jumbo jets, loaded with sensors that record every detail of their flights, will help engineers to design safer aero-planes and know which parts need to be replaced. On the road, fleets of trucks and even ordinary drivers will be able to tap into the web, monitoring traffic in real time, with automated programs suggesting alternative routes in case of accidents/traffic congestion.

Of course, all of these benefits mean plenty of business opportunities for those who are brave enough to make the first step. Profits will grow exponentially as the Internet of Things itself matures. Today, there’s around 1.3 billion connected devices in the world, but by 2020 this could well exceed 12.5 billion devices. Similarly, the M2M (machine-2-machine) industry is said to be worth around $121 billion a year today. By 2020, that value will grow to almost $950 billion, according to the Carbon War Room. Don’t lose your chance!

Computer Science health

This sphere suit startups that plan to develop software to diagnose and treat diseases (i’m not taking about Biotech, but about Information Technology). As a rule it is a noninvasive methodology. The technology will help to avoid costly and dangerous procedures: instead of an operation it will be enough to use  a specialized device Different kinds of fitness applications have already filled the market. Apps that evaluate sleep state and help to wake up at the most opportune moment, that evaluate quality, caloric value and allergenicity of food are not a rarity anymore. More and more people keep track of their daily activity: number of steps made, calories burned, heart rate etc by using bracelets and kardiosensors. But the real revolution will produce a system that will combine sensor data and sensor condition of the body with genetic information. The Apps will give an opportunity to influence the physical state, recommending an appropriate lifestyle and a specific diet, supplements and medicines.

Security

In 2012 and 2013 we saw significant data breaches across multiple industries and governments impacting millions of users. For instance, according to a recent study conducted by Ponemon Institute, nearly 1.5 million Americans have been victims of medical identity theft. Individuals whose medical information has been stolen often deal with erroneous medical expenses, insurance issues and incorrect data on medical records that can lead to fatal medical errors. And data security issues compromise more than patient privacy and personal data.

Is this an uncertain future we will have to live with? Can we accept degraded privacy and security and billions of dollars in lost revenue, damage, reduction in brand value and remediation costs?

Such issues will become the concern of more and more enterprise leaders. Thus, Data Security could be the biggest challenge for startups.

“Green Energy” field

We live in the world of limited subsoil resources. We may experience and in fact we do already experience their shortage. The time of “users” is close to the end and the era of “creators” is coming instead. The “creators” are sure, that the potential of the “Green Energy” is huge… and they are right. Every fifth kWh is got from renewable energy sources in the developed countries. Let’s see what is happening in the world:

Elon Musk, the creator of PayPal, has opened a company that produces electric cars Tesla. For three years they have produced quite expansive super-cars and rectified technologies …btw the technologies are still being improved ( hope you understand what I’m driving at…). Also the super-cars require refueling …with the help of solar batteries, which are quite widespread in the USA and Western Europe. By the way it is predicted that America, South Canada and most of Europe will be covered with solar stations by the end of 2015 year (another niche ;) ) and the solar batteries will be used not only for the refueling).

What I’m driving at …want to say that there will be need in different applications (including mobile apps as well) for its ordering, managing etc.

In conclusion I would like to wish you to find your niche and not be afraid of  putting your ideas out and trying them. Good luck and thanks for the reading :)

Elvira Golyak Elvira Golyak
Elvira.Golyak@altabel.com
Skype ID: elviragolyak
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Fear of surrendering control is probably the main factor holding many IT directors back from realizing the benefits of outsourcing IT services. But if you can find an IT services supplier who will work with you in a genuine partnership, understanding the specific needs of your business, it soon becomes clear that this fear is misplaced. It is perfectly possible to retain your strategic power while outsourcing the fundamental and mundane elements of your IT service and support. By opening the door to outsourcing some niche services or even your entire application or database management infrastructure, you can generate a host of business benefits.

The top 10 benefits of outsourcing

  1. Reduced service and support costs within a managed and predictable budget
  2. Better quality of service, fewer IT failures and less downtime thanks to well-defined service level agreements
  3. Access to the latest applications without high up-front license costs
  4. Access to accredited engineers, skills and technical expertise without having to train your own staff
  5. Reduced risk of employees leaving and taking their knowledge with them
  6. Round-the-clock access to a help desk primed to resolve problems remotely and rapidly
  7. Compliance with the latest regulations
  8. Guaranteed data security at remote, hosted data centers
  9. Real accountability via contracted commitments from a third party supplier partner that wants to keep your business rather than reliance on an in-house group that is hard to pin down
  10. Remove high IT staff costs from your balance sheet and shift to an opex budget

For some time, there have been signs that IT directors in smaller enterprises are increasingly receptive to these benefits and are even embracing them with greater agility than their global counterparts. A survey from Computer Economics suggested that 27% of businesses now outsource applications management, while 21% outsource database management.

According to Information Week, as this level of outsourcing gains credibility the benefits quickly accumulate in terms of greater flexibility (particularly for companies that are growing rapidly); access to cost-effective expertise, techniques and programs; access to third-party resources such as the help desk, which liberates IT staff to focus on more productive business-focused activities; and the wider savings achieved by not having to invest in infrastructure and licenses.

Take email services as one example: Gartner estimates that outsourcing just this one application could save businesses with fewer than 300 employees a significant amount because an outsourcing partner has the dedicated infrastructure to manage it at a much lower cost.

Five reasons to outsource

Here are five good reasons why you should think about outsourcing your IT services:

1.       You could save significant staff costs.
Not just on the recruitment and hiring front.  Skilled people with strong application-based credentials don’t come cheap and have long-term costs. Why spend time and money training somebody to support a core business application, only to see them poached by another employer and taking their expensively-acquired skills with them? Or send them to costly training to keep their skills current? And why not liberate your in-house IT staff to focus on projects that add value to the business rather than spending their precious time on firefighting duty?

2.       An outsourced call center/help desk frees your resources.

Providing round-the-clock support for your users in-house is expensive. Depending on the size of your business, you might need a dedicated facility that is operated by key IT support staff and is a significant cost center in terms of facilities management overheads. Even in a smaller IT operation, somebody—it might even be you—has to be on call outside office hours to provide IT support for an increasingly mobile workforce. Thanks to greater economies of scale, a dynamic IT services partner should provide a superior help desk at a greatly reduced cost.

3.       You can save money all around – with the right outsourcing strategy and partner.

A good IT services partner will work with you to identify the pressure points that make sense for you to outsource. These can vary tremendously from one business to another.  Toolbox.com points out that cost savings vary with the number of employees who need support and to what degree, the number of devices involved, the types of applications that you use, the ratio of employees using office space to remote workers, and even your geographic location when it comes to the price of on-site support. These are complex calculations that deserve patient analysis.

4.       Your business will be more flexible in its use and consumption of IT services.

Infrastructure is expensive. Why invest in servers, complex networks and other hardware just to deliver vital but everyday applications to your users when you can have those applications managed and distributed as a service direct to the desktop without the expense of hardware maintenance? Because your applications are being managed and hosted by a third party, they can be scaled up or down to meet fluctuating demand, and your costs will be more tightly controlled as a result.

5.       Peace of mind.

Why let worries about more complex issues such as data security or disaster recovery keep you awake at night when they can be managed and supported by a third party who has all the necessary expertise and infrastructure to meet your security and business continuity requirements? Yes, they are important, but by choosing the right partner to provide relevant support services, you are prioritizing them rather than allowing them to become distractions that need constant attention from your in-house IT team.

Getting Started

Negotiation is the key to getting your relationship with your IT services supplier off to the best start and making sure you realize the business benefits that you expect. And it starts long before the contract is signed. It should be more profitable if you decide what you want from your contract before you choose your supplier.

Partnership Approach

Select an IT service partner who demonstrates they understand your business and clearly articulates the value they can bring to your operations. By combining and matching your goals with an IT service partner who has the vision to match them and deliver the latest service desk technologies to provide you with complete service performance visibility, including measurable indications of performance quality, you’ll soon become part of the rising tide of SMEs that are living proof of the benefits of outsourcing.

And remember,

  • Outsourcing IT services does not mean all or nothing.
  • You can deliver genuine benefits to your business by outsourcing IT services if you negotiate service levels that are customized to your company.
  • Fear of surrendering control is the main factor holding many IT directors back from outsourcing IT services—but you can keep control if you select the right partner.

Feel free to share your thoughts.

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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