Altabel Group's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Google

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 How can Samsung (or any manufacturer) or AT&T (or any carrier) sell a device with an out of date OS?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 The second you release a piece of hardware, it could quickly become out of date.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

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

When people want to start up a company they dream of having something like such global giants as Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc. but it isn’t easy and a lot of factors should be taken into account, including the country traditions, the government general policy in the field of entrepreneurship, the public attitude towards the innovative ideas, the existence of the precise set of tools to stimulate innovation, human capital and research, infrastructure and many others. Why is it easy to set up new companies in one country and difficult in another? To answer this question I investigated the experience of Scandinavian states in this field. Why precisely Scandinavia?

Nordic countries seem to be in the forefront of this development. Having given us Ericsson, Skype and Spotify Scandinavia has become a global leader in IT, mobile and multimedia development, and the pace of innovation shows no sign of slowing. The list of prosperous start – up companies itself is inspiring: Spotify, iZettle, SoundCloud, Klarna, Uber, Fishbrain, Sticky Wrapp in Sweden.  I needn’t even mention such giants from Denmark as the app developer Podio and Unwire, a mobile platform provider which enables the hosting of TV content on mobile phone. Or let’s take Bird Step from Norway which continues to bring a raft of leading-edge mobile connectivity products to market. By the way, Sweden is currently No.1 in the world for IT, according to the latest Global Information Technology Report. In fact, all three Scandinavian countries are among the top 10.

I think, the reasons why start ups are so popular in Scandinavia are the following:

-political and economic factors play a key role.  Scandinavian strong welfare system makes people feel safer and enables them to take risk to start their own company. Government support for tech innovation is evident in basic conveniences such as free Wi-Fi, and each administration has introduced specific measures to encourage tech development;

-clustering– the pooling of ideas by a group of organisations for common gain. Vivid example of this is creation of the Movation innovation partnership by 7 Norwegian tech companies in 2006 and the Nordic Tech Five linking universities in Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. It has become possible due to the compact nature of the region which encourages a shared sense of purpose and a willingness to help each other out.

 - tech culture and general positive attitude of Scandinavians to innovation is the biggest factor in Scandinavian supremacy.  Scandinavian people pick up trends quickly. The same goes for new markets and technology. Common people are willing to embrace new technology, specifically regarding IT and communication. In 2009, a survey in Denmark found 72% of the population used the internet every day, people are not afraid of the internet in Scandinavia, everyone buys online. Isn’t it a dream for any country when old Nordic grannies surf the net, school children use laptops in exams and parents allow their kids online without fearing for their safety? It is a nation embracing IT.

- history and tradition play a crucial part in start-up trends, too. This enthusiasm for innovation, particularly mobile innovation, goes back decades. Sweden, for example, is very strong in engineering, from building the first telephones, to the global expansion of Nokia. Engineering has always been sought after, and tech is just the latest manifestation of that.

- strong support of tech talents and fierce competition for talents. All top-ranked Nordic universities enclose student incubators that offer everything from free working space to specific courses and mentor programs to encourage and foster virtuous entrepreneurship. To start a company Scandinavian entrepreneurs could find world class engineers and designers.

 - scale advantage. The small scale of the Scandinavian market is used by Nordic start-ups to their advantage. They are more organized, disciplined and mobile.

- nation’s infrastructure – telecommunications, education and institutions – has helped deliver high broadband and mobile penetration and a tech-savvy population. The Internet in Scandinavian countries is pretty ubiquitous, affordable, and the average speed for both down- and upload is good.

- rapid globalization of Scandinavian start-ups. Nordic people have got more international quickly which makes it an advantage. Moreover, most Swedes, Norwegians and Danes are skilled English speakers which is a big advantage for start-ups to become international.

- great informal network which unites experienced and new entrepreneurs. The amount of knowledge sharing among community members is huge. The advice websites for start-up businesses are really popular. People help each other and share best practice information.

- availability of Venture capital helps start-ups make a good start, too. The amount of Venture capital available in relation to the GDP is higher in Scandinavia than in the rest of Europe. 

-  accelerator programmes for startups developed in Scandinavian countries are a relatively new, ‘modern’ breed of business incubators which attract small teams and provide a number of technology companies with seed funding, mentoring, training like SICS and Bonnier’s Accelerator in Sweden, beta FACTORY in Norway, Startup boot camp Mobility and Accelerace in Denmark.

-  long, dark, and cold Scandinavian  winters encourage people to stay inside and noodle away at creative endeavors, such as programming or gaming. So, when Scandinavians don’t chop wood they sit in front of the internet and consume. :)

As a conclusion, I’d like to say that there are probably many more aspects. And we don’t deny that Scandinavia has its challenges as well. Not everything is perfect, and there are exceptions to every rule. But simply judging from the quantity (and quality) of its entrepreneurial outcome the climate for starting your own company seems to be pretty good there in the north. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s why Scandinavia is winning. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments!

 

Katerina Kviatkovskaya

Katerina Kviatkovskaya
Kate.Kviatkovskaya@altabel.com
Skype ID: kate.kviatkovskaya
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

There is no doubt that mobile industry is one of the most intensely growing nowadays. Any product that earlier used to be desktop or web is moving towards going mobile. Everyone is taking designing experiences for smaller screens seriously. As for the web, we’re seeing swarms of recently updated sites that are employing responsive design or more mobile-friendly layouts. This is quite critical, especially when you consider that accessing the web from mobile devices is on track to surpass desktop usage in a just a year or two.

With so many mobile apps/sites out there you have to do all it takes to deliver a good mobile product that will be competitive on the market. The key input for success here often is conditioned by the convenience of mobile services. You have to start predicting what the customer wants to see when they try a mobile application or website. The use of mobile context in delivering mobile experience is just one of the big challenges that application developers face. Here’s a number of the most important challenges we see.

1. Mobile Context

There has always been emphasis on context – the idea of being sensitive to where users might be and what they might be doing at the same time that they’re using your app/site. Is a user in line at the grocery store or on the living-room couch? Is a user connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi access, with fast page loads, or an infuriatingly weak Internet connection? Are both of the user’s hands holding the device in landscape orientation, or is the user using only the right thumb to navigate the interface in portrait mode? We have to think about all of this. Basically the customer’s mobile context consists of:

Preferences: the history and personal decisions the customer has shared with you or with social networks.
Situation: the current location, of course, but other relevant factors could include the altitude, environmental conditions and even speed the customer is experiencing.
Attitude: the feelings or emotions implied by the customer’s actions and logistics.

Getting a good contextual awareness will require collecting information from many sources. For instance it could be mobile device itself, the local context of devices and sensors around them an extended network of things they care about and the historical context of their preferences. Gathering this data is a major challenge because it will be stored on multiple systems of record to which your app will need to connect.

2. Device Proliferation

Another challenge facing mobile developers is device proliferation. It looked like mobile app development process was pretty well defined: build your app, make sure it looks pretty on a 4-inch smartphone and a 10-inch tablet, then submit it to an app store. Most app developers prioritized a few popular devices, such as the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S III and the iPad.

It’s not quite that easy now, and it’ll be much tougher in the near future. Picking the most popular devices will become more of a challenge as device types and platforms proliferate. Google and Apple already support tablets of different sizes and, with Windows 8 now shipping, developers can expect to find a whole range of larger touch-sensitive devices, such as Hewlett-Packard’s Envy series.

3. Voice rather than Touch

There are a lot of situations where you would want to build voice input into your app today. For a running or fitness app, a phone is likely to be strapped to a person’s sweaty arm. The same is true while driving. Modern applications are to let people use their devices while keeping their eyes and hands off it.

4. Hybrid Applications

With each release, popular mobile operating systems get better at supporting HTML5 and its attendant APIs. That capability will let companies reuse more code across multiple devices, which will be important in keeping app development costs down taking into account the proliferation of connected devices and form factors.

As a result we could expect that more companies will turn to web technologies with a centralized code base for core components of their connected applications. That centralized code is likely to be a combination of HTML, JavaScript and CSS, because the vast majority of devices will support it. Much of this HTML5 will be delivered as hybrid apps, which mix HTML code into a native container and use native code for navigation and platform specific integration. These hybrid apps will get more sophisticated and capable as a result. We’re already seeing compelling enterprise applications built with the hybrid approach.

5. Cloud Powered Mobile Applications

With the power of the cloud, the mobile application market is about to change radically. Several industry analysts predict that mobile applications will gradually move to the cloud and move away from being installed and run directly from the handsets themselves. Instead, cloud powered mobile applications are accessed and executed directly from the cloud through a mobile web browser interface and several technologies facilitating this change are already available. HTML5, for example, is necessary for enabling caching on the handset, so that users will experience uninterrupted service levels despite fluctuations in network service delivery.

Cloud powered mobile applications are not limiting their choice to one platform. Application developers also have real advantages from mobile cloud computing. The largest benefit is that it allows them to have access to a larger market. This means developers will have a much wider market which means they can bypass the restrictions created by mobile operating systems. But with greater developers’ power comes greater responsibility for security and performance. Expect more developers to be on call for application support in the new model, using triage to handle defects and investigate degradation to production services. Those tasks have traditional been the domain of systems administrators. Expect IT operations personnel to become integrated into development teams and to start their work at the inception of an idea.

I think the challenges mentioned are some of the most important ones. What are the challenges you have already faced in the mobile development? Even more interesting to hear about the challenges you are envisaging for the near future! As usual 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

When planning the application you have to choose the right programming language to make your application work appropriate. The choice depends on many factors you need to consider. Such as but not limited: you need to think over on what platform the application will run, how easily new features would be added to the existing platform, the code size, performance, support and community etc.

There are various web programming languages and selecting the right one makes a website function properly. In my article I would like to focus on three of them, so called three “P”: PHP, Perl and Python to answer which of these languages is the best one.

Let’s have a look at them and try to make a comparison analysis

PHP – is free of charge open source scripting language and widely used in web environment. The best advantage of PHP is that it is easy to learn and easy to use. It is flexible and used for developing from small websites to giant business and organizational websites. Most common are informative forums, chatting platforms, CRM solutions, e-commerce shopping carts, community websites, e-business, shopping carts.

In terms of efficiency it is executed by the server and server parses the code at its source, executes and send properly formatted html to the client computer. Therefore it increases the speed of PHP applications.
What concerns the advantage of running, PHP is multiplatform language and compatible with all operating systems and platforms.

Being open source language, a large group of PHP developers help in creating a support community, so it’s maintained and when bugs are found, it can be quickly fixed.
A lot of websites including such giants as Wikipedia, Yahoo!, Facebiook, Digg, WordPress and Youtube are written in PHP. The popularity of PHP is based on its simplicity and coding style that is quiet easy to understand.

Nevertheless, the simplicity in developing, precisely principle so called «structure is not important» in PHP has its reverse side, precisely it’s hard to maintain for large applications since it is not very modular.

Also it’s weak in terms of security since its open source, all people can see the source code, and if there are any bugs it could be used to explore the weakness. About 30% of all vulnerabilities listed on the National Vulnerability Database are linked to PHP. The last summary on vulnerabilities you may find following the link: http://web.nvd.nist.gov/view/vuln/detail?vulnId=CVE-2013-0427

Perl –refer to all purpose languages. Perl was developed as a text editor for converting or processing large amounts of data for tasks such as creating reports. Nowadays it intended improvements and suited for web development, game programming, GUI development, popular among system administrators etc.
The Perl reusable code structure provides flexibility in apps development and at the same time creates the problem of code reading after. As there are so many ways to do, there are a lot more ways to mess up in what you’ve done. If the code was written without proper care, the reading could even take 6 months.

So from one hand Perl is a good language for small programs because of its messy syntax structure it’s hard to write and maintain large programs. On the other hand if you’re planning to develop big web application you need to consider good coordination between developers work on discussing the code stile, mentoring and managing work in the team.

In terms of portability Perl code doesn’t use system specific features, so can be run on any platform.
Among popular websites created on Perl could be named bbc.co.uk, Amazon.com, LiveJournal.

In respect of vulnerability Perl takes the second place – 9.4%. I assume that it’s not bad taking into consideration its complexity and its long history.

It has fallen out of popularity lately a bit because of the slow development of Perl 6. Most people still use Perl 5.

Python – is considered to be very elegant programming language. It’s general purpose, high level programming language. On the one hand Python’s syntax and semantics are minimal; on the other it has complex standard libraries.

Python supports multiple paradigms: object-oriented, imperative and functional programming styles and has features including fully dynamic type system and automatic memory management.

In comparison with Perl Python is easy to read language. And its key idea is vice versa “there should be one—and preferably only one—obvious way to do it”. It means that the code written by one developer could be easily developed and supported by the others. Besides to delimit blocks Python uses whitespace indentation, rather than curly braces (C, C++, ….) or keywords (Delphi).

Python is often used as a scripting language, but is also used in 3D animation (Maya, Softimage XSI, Blender) and image editors (GIMP, Inkscape, Scribus, Paint Shop Pro). It was also used for writing several video games.

Python is actively used by Google, Yahoo!, CERN and NASA. But it has problems with popularity, precisely with spreading. The reason is that it’s less simple than PHP. Working with Python you need to learn numerical libraries. So that’s why some people prefer choosing PHP instead of Python. But only the betrayed ones could explain why they choose Python, the answer is easy the development on Python is faster on 30% and his vulnerability consists only 0.67% against 36% of PHP.

Conclusion

PHP at first sight seems to be a leader in this so called comparison race. It’s simple, easy to learn and efficient for building small and middle size websites. Going further with analysis in terms of scalable large system it turns out that here Python will perform better than PHP. The reason is in readability that makes Python easier to maintain and extend. Besides, Python is object-oriented. PHP is not. Moreover, Google supports Python with its Google App Engine where web sites can be hosted on Google’s server for free. What concerns Perl, analysis showed that it’s simple programming language with cross platform running and open source modular architecture that provides to develop interesting things. If the task is to perform administration scripts Perl is much better to use here than PHP.

After the analysis it follows that the choice any of three P is a good choice. Also it means that for a certain purpose there is a right tool to choose. Besides the analysis showed that all three “P” have in common the following:

• are cross platform;
• have open source code;
• have well written documentation;
• have large user communities;
• extend libraries and big amount of code written;
• have high-level frameworks (PHP – Symfony, php.MVC; Python-Django, CherryPy, Pylons; Perl -Catalyst, CGI::Application, Gantry);

So I hope that summary based on technical analysis we made could help to make a right decision in future web projects you might have.

Thank you for your attention and if you have anything to add, please feel free to leave a comment.

Katerina Bulavskaya

Katerina Bulavskaya
Katerina.Bulavskaya@altabel.com
Skype ID: katy.bulavskaya
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


%d bloggers like this: