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Posts Tagged ‘iPhone

For years Microsoft has been the de facto desktop operating system. Now Apple is using its mobile devices to steal market and mindshare.

Pundits have long expected Apple to integrate its desktop and mobile operating systems; however, recent announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) show that the company is doing far more than borrowing user interface elements. After some tentative starts, Apple has embarked on a full-scale integration between the company’s phone and desktop devices. With new releases of the software powering each, your laptop will soon be answering phone calls, and your phone will share text messages with your desktop, allowing you to fire off a missive from your MacBook to a colleague’s Android smartphone using standard text messaging. While not totally unexpected, the depth of integration is fairly impressive, and doubly so since I couldn’t help wondering during the announcements: why hadn’t Microsoft done this?

A constantly unfinished puzzle

By nearly any metric, Microsoft was years ahead of Apple in the smartphone and tablet space. While Apple was restructuring a fractured business and “playing” with handheld devices in the form of the Newton, Microsoft had produced several generations of its own PDA, and eventually a full-fledged smartphone that was feature rich, but failed to build a compelling user interface around its advanced feature set. Over half a decade before the iPhone launched, a lifetime in mobile technology, Microsoft was introducing tablets, only to be wiped off the face of the map by the iPad. Microsoft’s most obvious advantage in the mobile space was its dominance of the desktop.

If anyone built a mobile device that integrated tightly with the desktop, it should have been Microsoft.

Technology versus usability

While Microsoft may have missed a historic opportunity, more recently the company has been touting its merging of significant portions of its mobile and desktop code. Even user interface elements have begun to cross-pollinate, with the “modern” user interface that first appeared in Windows Phone featuring prominently on desktops and tablets. However, this technical integration is indicative of Microsoft’s larger problem.

As a company, Microsoft’s Achilles’ heel has been an inability to fully integrate different elements of its computing empire, and to present a user experience tailored to the task at hand, not pounded into a contrived, pre-existing Windows metaphor. From the Start button and stylus on a mobile phone, to its most recent technical integration of its environments that completely lacks in end-user benefit, Microsoft is missing the boat on developing a holistic computing experience. Frankly, I don’t care if my desktop and smartphone are running completely incompatible code from totally different vendors, as long as they’ll share information and work seamlessly together.

The Switzerland of computing?

While Microsoft may have missed this opportunity for its own devices, it still represents a key player in the overall computing landscape, and the long-predicted “demise of Windows” is likely several years away, if it occurs at all. An integrated experience between Microsoft smartphones and Windows desktops won’t meet with much excitement, primarily due to the limited market penetration of Windows phones. What would be interesting, however, is if Microsoft were to use its desktop dominance to integrate tightly with devices from Apple, Google, and others.

Such integration might seem far-fetched, but Microsoft already does this to an extent, with its Exchange server happily sharing mail, contacts, and calendars between everything from phones and tablets to laptops and web apps. Microsoft also has decades of experience integrating diverse hardware, and producing operating systems that run well on millions of combinations of hardware is no small feat. Just as Apple’s original iPod hit its stride when the company made it available for PCs, Microsoft could accelerate its cloud services and desktop OS, and ultimately make a compelling case for Windows Phone by providing tight integration with several mobile vendors.

In the mid and long terms, “winning” the mobility wars is not going to be about who sells the most devices, especially as computing transitions away from single devices and into a multi-platform, multi-device world. Microsoft has a chance to regain lost ground by tightly integrating its desktop and cloud services with today’s devices, allowing it to define tomorrow’s computing experience.

 

Kristina Kozlova

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

iOS7 has been the greatest change to Apple`s iOS almost since its introduction. And iOS 7 differs quite a lot from its previous version. It`s easier, brighter, bolder and flows better than its predecessors. It has not only the updated user interface but also it`s packed with a great deal of new features.Let`s take a look at iOS7 and compare its major changes to iOS6.

Lock screen: One of the nicest features of iOS 7 is parallax effect: when you move the phone, wallpaper appears to move as well. iOS 7 gets rid of the black bars and becomes lighter. At first this may seem unusual but you get used to it quickly and won`t move back to the old look and feel. Also iOS 7 has four swipeable bits: unlocking, Camera, swiping down from the top of the screen to see notifications, and swiping up from the bottom to bring up Control Center.

Control Center: iOS users have been waiting for it for agesJ now there is no need to jump through endless Settings screen. Control Center is the answer: it provides quick access to the most important key features: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, Rotation Lock and Do Not Disturb. It also provides media playback controls, Airdrop file sharing, and quick access to the phone’s LED light and the Clock, Calculator and Camera apps.

Notification Center:  Last year iOS 6 introduced the Notification Centre – offering little gobbets of information from your email, or stocks, or Twitter, or games. It was pretty basic. Now it’s split into three elements – Today (a calendar and weather update), All (the things you used to find in the old Notifications) and Missed (appointments, calls). The calendar element is like Windows Phone, though more useful (you get a day view). You can decide what is visible in the lock screen – it won’t show all your notifications if you don’t want.

AirDrop: Thanks to AirDrop it became easier to share files from iOS devices. Now a “sharing” icon in an app lets you send your data to those willing to receive it. You choose AirDrop and you get a list of people in the vicinity. Press their icon, and it’s done. Nice, isn`t it?

If you don’t plan to use this feature in iOS 7 then turn it off to safe battery life.

Camera and Photos : Have also experienced great changes. Camera app now four kinds of shooting: video, photo, square (for Instagram-style shots) and Pano (for panoramas) and a number of pleasant new features.. As for Photos app, it`s became easier to search for photos as they are organized into collections. Your photos can be sorted by date or by location (when using GPS)

Safari/Search: It has also been updated: interface became simpler : it disappears completely when scrolling through pages, and the interface for switching tabs became more visual.

Mail: Mail application got some great new features: mail management became easier. There appeared gesture control for messages and smart mailboxes

Multitasking:  Now you can double-click the home button in iOS to get you to a number of recently used apps. What is more iOS 7  learns when you like to use your apps and can update your content before you launch them. So if you tend to check your favorite social app at 9:00 every morning, your feed will be ready and waiting for you.

That was an overview of the main updates  that experienced iOS7. Many things have changed and many users that updated to iOS 7 say that they will never return to iOS 6 :)

And what about you: have you already updated to iOS 7 and can share your experience?

Interesting to know your thoughts.

Anna Kozik

Anna Kozik
Anna.Kozik@altabel.com 
Skype ID: kozik_anna
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

All of these mobile devices were supposed to make our jobs easier. On a flight? Edit your presentation from your tablet at 10,000 feet. Working from home? Review a time-sensitive document on your smartphone. This was the popular narrative on-the-go workers told themselves, and it was a good story – but it was a fictitious one.

Editing a Word document on an Android phone was not easy, nor was editing an Excel spreadsheet on an iPad. The Microsoft Office that workers know today is still stuck in its original design meant for a desktop computer. And when mobile users tried to download workaround applications, they often found so-called solutions that failed to live up to their promises. That, finally, is changing.

The market is now producing tools that offer a true fix to the mobile workflow challenge, with functionality to address every pain point that has throbbed in recent years. We have entered an era of all-in-one mobile productivity, although the difficulties of the recent past have left mobile enterprises skeptical of a brighter present and future.

That skepticism is understandable. Because Microsoft doesn’t offer an Office version for iPads, Android phones or any of the other popular mobile devices or operating systems that today’s workforce uses to stay connected, those workers had to build their own connectivity to their offices, coworkers and clients. For example, if a mobile worker wanted to revise a Word document on an iPad, he might have a complex recipe in place to make a few simple edits, and now IT solutions have arisen to fill each gap:

Step one: gain access. To even open the file, the mobile worker had to email the attachment to himself or open an account with a cloud storage service like Box.

Step two: view the file. Next, he might have downloaded an operating system-agnostic productivity app like Open Office to open the file on his mobile device and see whatever text, tables or graphics it contained.

Step three: edit or annotate. This can be the most difficult step, since some viewing apps don’t offer editing capabilities. At this stage, an additional annotation app comes into play for writing notes or changing the Word file.

Step four: save and share. To share an edited, annotated file from his mobile device, the user might have opted for Box or Dropbox. Enterprises should use more stringent criteria to leverage combined file access, viewing, editing and sharing on one interface for mobile enterprise workers. There are several mobile-friendly apps that aim to replicate the editing control you have from your desktop, while also building the cloud’s accessibility into their DNA.

Step five: secure. While it’s important that mobile workers can access files from anywhere, risk-averse enterprise users also have to ensure that unauthorised parties can’t access those files. Dropbox and Box have begun building security controls to accommodate enterprise security needs, such as permissions in Dropbox for Teams; however, these controls pale in comparison to security applied directly to a file, rather than the cloud compartment it lives in, for the inevitable point when that file is shared offline, outside the cloud.

IT department concerns with compatibility are no longer limited to “dumb” phones that are solely used for calls or simple text emails. The next generation of enterprise IT problems involve ensuring file compatibility and security across operating systems. Some organisations will even limit employees’ bring-your-own-device (BYOD) practices to one OS (like an iPhone) altogether just to avoid the issues that stem from this type of segmentation. The result has been frustration among on-the-go employees, suppressed productivity, and company fear regarding mobile access.

This trend will only continue to grow. By 2017, according to several forecasts by Gartner and Forrester, tablet sales will outnumber desktop sales. In addition, we’re likely to see mobile phone shipments (mostly smartphones) grow to more than 2 billion in 2017, according to Gartner.

To keep pace with the growing employee demand for mobile access and collaboration solutions, businesses must rely on technologies that keep information safe and increase mobile productivity, which is a combination rarely seen in today’s market. This means scrapping piecemeal solutions that only address one aspect of the mobile-user experience and implementing an all-in-one solution that facilitates secure access, editing and collaboration, and control over a file’s complete lifecycle in order to track recipients and revoke access at anytime if needed.

The future belongs to computing on the move. That future is now for enterprises and employees that select secure, native Microsoft Office functionality and collaboration tools for their mobile devices.

To conduct everyday business, mobile users have been forced to download multiple apps to help them access, edit and annotate Microsoft Office files. They have settled for insecure cloud file services for sharing. The time for settling is over. Enterprise IT needs to deliver instant access to any file from anywhere, and companies can now achieve this. Mobile devices were supposed to make our jobs easier. With the recent evolution in mobile collaboration tools, they do.

Kristina Kozlova

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

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


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