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Posts Tagged ‘mobile

The mobile world is continuing its rapid growth while we are becoming more and more reliant on our mobile devices in everyday life.

By 2016, it’s expected that there will be more than 10 billion mobile Internet devices in use, so the mobile application industry will grow tremendously to match the demand and keep up with ever evolving technologies.

Let’s have a look at obvious technologies trends continuing to influence the mobile world nowadays.

Three main platforms and architectures

In a short period of time a majority of big companies will need a special set of development tools to support three key platforms – iOS, Android, Windows and three application architectures – native, hybrid and mobile Web. Tool selection won’t be that easy, rising up technical issues and nontechnical ones such as productivity versus vendor stability. Undoubtedly most big organizations will need several tools to deliver to the architectures and platforms they require.

HTML5

Being fragmented, immature and thus possessing many implementation and security risks, HTML5 won’t be a simple solution for mobile application portability. However as it matures, the mobile Web and hybrid applications will become more and more popular. So despite many challenges HTML5 faces, we could expect that it will be rather essential for organizations delivering applications across multiple platforms.

Advanced mobile user experience design

A vast majority of new techniques and methodologies such as motivational design, “quiet” design and “playful” interfaces contribute to exceptional user experiences most leading mobile apps have. Designers are also creating apps that can accommodate mobile challenges, such as partial user attention and interruption, or that can exploit technologies with novel features or “wow” factors, such as augmented reality. Leading consumer apps are setting high standards for user interface design, and all organizations must master new skills and work with new partners to meet growing user expectations.

High-precision location sensing

Knowing the location of a person to within a few meters is a key factor in the delivery of highly relevant contextual information and services. Applications that use the precise indoor location currently exploit such technologies Wi-Fi, imaging, ultrasonic beacons and geomagnetics. Such technologies as smart lighting will also become important. Precise indoor location sensing  in combination with mobile applications will create a new generation of highly personalized services and information.

Mobile phone as a universal remote

Some time ago we had to stay in front of TV in order to turn channels. Later remote controls were sold with every TV and stereo on the market. Nowadays, our homes have become smarter and many people manage their homes with the help of a smart phone. In 2015, mobile applications are expected to move to the next level, becoming a universal remote control for your life. Air conditioner controls and alarm systems are heading the list with cars and door locks to go behind soon. With all the different data including financial, electronic, home and automotive deeply embedded in your phone, the general remote seems to be a usual extension.

Apps will start thinking for you

Artificial intelligence is going to influence mobile applications in 2015, initially with smarter apps that think for you. The ability of apps to forecast behavior and lessen manual work is amazing. In the year 2015, apps will begin to foresee where you are going, what thoughts you are having and the types of information you might require. Imagine future applications less of a tool and more of an associate.

Wearable Devices

The smartphone will become the center of personal-computer network consisting of wearable devices such as on-body healthcare sensors, smart jewelry, smart watches, display devices such as Google Glass and different sensors embedded in clothing and shoes. These gadgets will communicate with mobile applications to deliver information in new ways and include a wide range of products and services in such areas as sports, fitness, fashion, hobbies and health.

What are your predictions on mobile technologies trends for the upcoming time? Eager to hear your thoughts :)

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

People are increasingly making use of their mobile terminals (tablet and smartphones) to connect to the internet and it is important to adapt websites to the new browsing habits. Each terminal has its own features and limitations (such as the screen size) which will determine how a website will be displayed. The Responsive Design is a compelling solution if you want to have your website smoothly displayed on multiple screen sizes.

Responsive web design (RWD), is an important evolution in an increasingly on-demand world. RWD is a design approach that lets you view content in a way that is optimized for the screen size that you are viewing it on. For example, if I access a RWD website on my laptop, I will see the content formatted in a way that is optimal for a larger screen. And if I access that same website on my smart phone, I will see the same content reformatted to fit that screen size. The important thing about this is that it is showing me the same content whether it is on a large screen or small screen, only the layout is different.

It wasn’t long ago that the prevailing practice, when considering how to make your website mobile friendly, was to create a separate website for mobile devices along with separate content. The content would be pulled from the existing site and edited down for brevity with some sections being omitted entirely. All of this was based on the assumption that visitors to the mobile site would only want certain kinds of information and not others. Specifically information that would be consumed while “on the go,” and therefore needed to be short, to the point, and informative. Anything less, wouldn’t make it into the mobile site. The implications are that some of the content on the non-mobile site may be potentially long, pointless, and ultimately not very valuable.

One interesting aspect of responsive website design is that it forces us to think about the value of content. If it’s going to be shared across all devices, then anything other than short, to the point, and informative, doesn’t make the cut.  This is a great filter because it helps us focus on the purpose of the information.

Does this mean you should convert your website to a Responsive design? Let’s consider the Advantages of Responsive web design:

  • The advantages of Responsive Design are numerous. This technique allows a website to automatically adapt itself to the different screen resolutions.
  • Columns and images are automatically adjusted, resized and moved automatically according to the screen resolution. This technique allows optimum ergonomics in preserving the layout and the display of the information from the website.
  • The Responsive Design is a strategic long-term solution and you don’t have to worry about redirecting users to another version of your website. Once deployed, there is very little maintenance to perform and the cost of development could be often lower than creating and maintaining a dedicated mobile site.
  • Responsive Design also implies having a unique URL: perfect for promotional campaigns.

There are certainly some Disadvantages to Responsive web design so I thought I would list these along with pros for RWD:

  • If there are many benefits, there are still some drawbacks to Responsive Design. These include a longer loading time. Most of the time, users (browsers) are obliged to download useless a HTML/CSS codes. Similarly, the images are often stretched and not simply resized causing a negative impact on the loading time.
  • Responsive Design won’t allow you to easily adjust the titles, descriptions and other content on mobile phones. In addition, the development of Responsive Design websites takes more time.
  • The Initial Cost. It is obviously takes longer to code and test a website that is to work on a wide variety of screen sizes and devices so the initial cost of having a website designed is usually could be higher than having a non responsive site designed.

The Responsive Design is definitely an effective solution to provide an optimal user experience. This is a major evolution of web design inviting designers to take a new challenge. Disadvantages and limitations of using this technique are easily overcome by putting more emphasis on the design and development stages of your website. But still I have added the advantages and disadvantages above so that people can make their own mind up about the responsive approach, whether you might be an individual looking for a new web site or a designer considering the expansion of your own design services, it is always nice to know the pros and cons of any concept.

What are your thoughts on Responsive web design?

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

There exist a lot of mobile app development frameworks. Cross-platform tools reduce barriers to entry and democratise app development, by allowing developers from any language (HTML, Java, C++), any background (hobbyist, pros, agencies, corporates) and any skill level (visual designer to hard-core developer) to build mobile apps. Just imagine that by using a cross-platform tool and covering just two platforms such as Android and iOS, you will cover 91% of the whole smartphone market. Sounds appealing:)

PhoneGap and Sencha are the most widespread: they are used by 32% and 30% of cross-platform developers, irrespective of their primary tools. I`m suggesting to have a closer look at PhoneGap which turns to be the most popular tool.

How it works

The cross-platform capabilities of PhoneGap are reached this way: a native project is generated, distinctive for each platform, which includes a browser (a native webView component) as the main component. This browser is able to display HTML/JavaScript code as a usual web page. The file system of this project acts the part of a file server, which gives access to the page. Also there is an object that allows PhoneGap to standardize the access to native features of mobile devices running the supported operating systems, such as camera, compass, accelerometer, contacts etc.

Good moments

-The most obvious one is cross-platform capabilities. Currently PhoneGap supports the following platforms: iOS, Android, webOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian OS, Tizen.

-PhoneGap app is written upon HTML, JavaScript and CSS, with the opportunities of using numerous external libraries;

-Adjustments can be performed via browser; remote adjustments can be performed on a mobile device via “weinre”.

A blot on the landscape:)

-Many users complain of the irresponsiveness of PhoneGap apps. Here I`m talking about one of the specifics of the PhoneGap development: the 300 millisecond lag between touch and click event on touchscreens. The solution to this problem can be easily found around the Internet. There are several JavaScript libraries, and their work principle is the same – tracking such events as TouchStart and TouchEnd – and at the moment when the latter is done, runs a click event.

- Users feel uncomfortable when touching a button and it doesn`t work. This is one of the most widespread bugs in PhoneGap apps. This bug appears due to improperly created interface, and it raises the problem of touching. The fact is that we look at the touchscreen at an angle and the visual contact area between the finger and the screen differs from the real contact area. This can be corrected quite simply – proper layout of the app page. For example, the area of response can be made bigger than the button itself.

- On average, an app has 5 to 15 pages. But unfortunately, JavaScript apps have no mechanism to store and transmit data between the pages. One of the simplest ways to solve this problem is using one-page apps. These are apps that display the same page, which has changing content. This approach however causes lags in the app.

-Nevertheless this is a cross-platform tool, UI should be optimized for different platforms. But it’s much faster, than creating another native app from scratch;

As you can see, these drawbacks are not quite ‘drawbacks’ in their nature, but rather technical conditions of PhoneGap, which you should consider, like in a usual development process for any other platform.

Certainly, PhoneGap is not a “miracle cure” but can be a good way out if wisely used. And what are your thoughts on PhoneGap?

 

Anna Kozik

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

WHY DO YOU NEED A MOBILE FRIENDLY WEBSITE
There is no secret to anyone that people are browsing the web more from their smartphones and tablets rather than from traditional computers. So having a mobile-friendly site for business nowadays is more important than ever. This is both a big problem and a big opportunity for businesses seeking to engage with new customers.

In the end of 2012, Google conducted an independent survey to learn what users want most from mobile sites today. And the numbers are striking! In fact mobile-friendly site can turn users into customers, according to a survey about 67 percent indicated they would be more likely to purchase a product or service from a business that built a mobile-friendly website. On the contrary not having a mobile-friendly site helps your competitors , for example, 61 percent of users indicated that they’d leave a site that’s not optimized for mobile. Actually non-mobile friendly sites can hurt a company’s reputation: about 52% of users said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company and 48% said that if a site didn’t work well on their smartphones, it made them feel like the company didn’t care about their business

HOW TO MAKE YOUR SITE MOBILE
Just shrinking your text into the device’s screen won’t give good impression about your business to the customer. The development of your mobile site should be determined by the kinds of products and services your business provides.
There are several options how to optimize your website for mobile, free and paid, having their own pros and cons. Here are a few strategies how to make your site mobile friendly:

- Mobile Website Conversion Service

There is a number of services on the web, that will convert your existing website and provide a script that will direct mobile users to your newly created mobile site from the main website. Among these services are Duda Mobile, bMobilized, and Mobify

- Separate Native Mobile Site

Some businesses want to keep their desktop and mobile websites separate. By creating a mobile website, you maintain control: its design, maintenance, hosting, and security. A script will be added to the main website that will determine if the visitor is using a mobile device and if so, it will automatically direct the visitor to the mobile version.

- Responsive Design

Responsive design is becoming more and more popular. It allows having one website that will display correctly on all devices — desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. It takes advantage of CSS “media queries” to style pages based on the width of the device being used. To determine if your website is responsive, just resize the browser window. If it adjusts — so that the images and text are readable with a narrower browser window — it’s responsive.

-Mobile Version from the Main Site

Some e-commerce providers are heading for mobile. For example, Magento has taken its way to mobile commerce! Magento Mobile introduces exciting Free of cost Magento Mobile extension which allows store owners to manage multiple native applications across various mobile devices from a single Magento interface and provides support for iPhone, iPad and Android base mobile devices. The beauty of Magento Mobile is that it integrates just seamlessly with your account management, product catalog and checkout functions and facilitates your users to experience the same functionality of web store on their mobile devices.

In this article I wanted to draw your attention to the importance of optimizing your website to mobile. Is having a mobile friendly website important for you?

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

With the growing popularity of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices the living has become more comfortable. The different types of apps help us to wake up in time, to entertain reading books, booking tickets, listening to favorite music and just chat with friends without extra expenses. Among the challenges in mobile app market stands also the developing of effective web browsing solutions.

In this article I would like to take a look at DHTMLX Touch framework that helps to create nice-looking and easy-to-use mobile web apps oriented to touchscreen devices.

DHTMLX Touch is a free open source Javascript framework/library for building HTML5-based mobile web apps.
DHTMLX was originally designed to work in traditional mouse-driven web browsers, however since the web moved to mobile devices, it was important to have all parts of the web interface touch-ready and looking good on small screens. After some tests made were approved that DHTMLX library will definitely work in mobile environments with Javascript support too. So the planned mouse was replaced with touch events to provide touch-based user interactions.

Let’s see what the characteristics of DHTMLX Touch are:

-compatible with the main web browsers for mobile platforms that support HTML5;

-free under both GNU GPL and commercial Licenses;

-lots of technical samples with the source code that simplify studying how the UI elements work;

- expanded builder tools:
Skin Builder – an online tool that allows you to build mobile web apps through a user-friendly, drag-and-drop interface. Since v.1.2, you can save your design or share it by sending an URL.
Visual Designer - a simple online tool that provides an easy way to choose the skin for you app and customize the skin colors. A set of predefined skins is included.
Touch UI Inspector – a free extension for Google Chrome that provides a handy visual tool for monitoring the inner state of DHTMLX Touch JavaScript components on a web page.

-server side is based on the on dhtmlxConnectors (the same that used for DHTMLX Ajax library) that simplifies client –server communication;

- simplified scheme of CSS editing.

The current version of DHTMLX Touch framework took a long way from the release of its first components dhtmlxTree and dhtmlxGrid in 2005-2006 to become a complete tool that covers the most required aspects of modern application interface. Three months ago in September, 2012 was presented the updated version 1.2. And now we will see what are the new features and improvements were added:

* Bug fixing – more stable and faster performance, better compatibility with the latest iOS and Android platforms;
* Updated visual designer tool: new Unitlist component, new charts, and the ability to share and save your design;
* Auto-complete for IDEs: Microsoft Visual Studio, PHPStorm, WebStorm, NetBeans, Aptana Studio, Eclipse, and others
* Multiple fixes in form validation logic
* Better memory management: automatic destructors clean up the memory, which helps to prevent memory leaks if the app has a complicated inheritance structure
* Better support of full-screen mode

Many companies around the world make the preference towards DHTMLX saying that it’s very simple, flexible and easy-to-use with a live support forum.

If you have already an experience working with DHTMLX Touch framework or heard something about using it, feel free to share your thoughts/experience by leaving a comment.

You can also have a look at new features of DHTMLX Touch framework and the samples of apps already implemented following the link to the official website http://dhtmlx.com.

Thank you for your attention.

Katerina Bulavskaya

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


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