Altabel Group's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Windows Phone

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

Lots of companies think about developing mobile clients for their services for Widows Phone and Windows 8. In most cases mobile clients for iOS/Android have already been created and company’s objective is to port them to Windows mobile platforms. In this article I’d like to talk about questions/problems/peculiarities companies and developers can face porting their apps to WP and Win8.

What’s important to know about Modern UI interface?

Windows Phone and Windows 8, unlike iOS for instance, are authentically digital platforms. What it means can be easily explained on the example of a bookshelf for iOS, where human’s behavior while reading a magazine or a book is imitated from the real life – we go to the bookshelf, take a magazine, open it and flip it through. The same process for Windows Phone looks absolutely separated from the real life and is initially oriented to the digital world, where the concept of “bookshelf” is missing at all.

A second distinction from iOS/Android is an emphasis on content and action orientation. In Windows Phone and Windows 8 phone numbers and e-mail addresses are written in small fonts, while actions like “call” or” “send e-mail” in the big ones. Large fonts and shifts is another Metro feature. It should be definitely taken into account while designing interfaces.

Other peculiarities of the platforms

1) Mostly, Android is tied to Google eco-system, iOS – to Apple, Windows Phone and Windows 8 – to Microsoft eco-system accordingly. This can be both an advantage and a drawback. For example, it will be easier to work with office documents, but instead of tight integration with Dropbox you will be proposed to use SkyDrive.

2) Platform limitations. Windows Phone is a rather strict platform. There are clear limits for application start time, sizes of downloaded files depending on the kind of Internet connection, quantity of background operations etc. Due to such limitations even “native” for Windows Phone Skype doesn’t always work as it is expected from a proper messenger.

3) Specific requirements for Windows 8 scenarios. There are so called contracts in Windows 8 – Search, Share etc., with the help of which such scenarios as “search in application”, “repost smth in social networks” or “open the file in another application” are performed. It should be separately said about Settings and Share – in Windows 8 they should be only in the sidebar. Duplication of functionality inside the application is highly undesirable.

Navigation bar in Windows Phone and Windows 8 differ. Windows Phone has mostly linear navigation (non-linear navigation is allowed only in exceptional cases and thoroughly tested), while Windows 8 is more loyal to the navigation model. Moreover, you will have to think over the possibility of a quick access to the application main screens from any screen.

4) Windows Phone 7.5 vs. Widows Phone 8. You should remember that at the moment there are several main Windows Phone versions:

• Mango — Windows Phone 7.5 (512 MB of memory);
• Mango — Windows Phone 7.8 (512 MB of memory) — the update has not been released yet;
• Tango — Windows Phone 7.5 (256 MB of memory);
• Apollo — Windows Phone 8.

If you’ve decided to support 7.x platform, you need to think whether the application will support Tango devices (budget ones) that are more sensitive to the memory used by the applications. In case you need NFC or in-app purchases (IAP), you should straightway focus on Windows Phone 8.0 or support two versions of the application (7.x and 8.x).

Thanks for consideration. In case you have some thoughts to add on the topic or even have already ported some app from iOS/Android to WP or Win8, I’d be glad to see your comments here.

Thank you,

Nadya Klim

Nadya Klim
Nadya.Klim@altabel.com
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Blackberry, iOS, Android, Windows Phone… the number of existing mobile platforms exceeds all reasonable limits while the developers can hardly choke down their moaning hearing cheery management appeals about supporting another platform…

I think when another mental eclipse caused by progressing deadline occurs, every person who is connected with software development has this banal thought – why is it not possible to make one project that would magically deploy on all the platforms in the native predictable view basing on one source code? There are a few frameworks that make this dream real.

In fact they use 3 approaches: interfaces generation based on

– javascript/HTML5
– C-like languages
– mixing these two approaches above

In some cases device-dependent things are boxed up into one package (in this respect AppCelerator upsets greatly, although the developers swear that do their best to optimize the resultant applications), or at the compilation moment there is a painful choice of the specific platform and device the package should fit (MoSync impressed with endless checkbox list sorted by brands and phones models). Commitment to flexibility constrains available functionality and productivity just because every platform has its own standard set of controls and its own view on optimum UX. In short, everything is not as rosy as we would like it to be, but these projects develop, lofty Partners sections on their sites pepper with sounding names, so we will not throw back this idea determinately – in the end everything depends on project aims and frames.

Below are the results of the experiments, when for the project realization a tool needed to be chosen. The criteria were simple: single code base, cross-platform (iOS, Android was enough), a possibility of creating own GUI elements, connection with web-services.

http://www.appcelerator.com – initially it was planned as development environment in javascript based on its own framework in the specially prepared Eclipse build for mobile development. At the moment HTML5, CSS3 support has been added, critical code parts can be written in ‘native’ languages for the target platform – Java or Objective-C. Nice IDE. To write for iOS you will need MacOS. Basic version is free, although the distributors assure that all this platform capacity consists in usage of additional commercial extensions (50 USD per month).

http://phonegap.com/ – they were among the first who decided to forget about native “look and feel” and turn to the universal tool – web-interfaces. Hence, the major language is HTML. JavaScript, jQuery, CSS can be used as well. Potentially all the major platforms are supported (iOS, Android, WebOs, Bada, Windows Phone, Symbian),practically– to develop for iOS safely, again you will need Mac workstation. It is required to download sdk for every platform. Range of additional libraries for application development is supported; I’d like to highlight Sencha Touch in particular. The process of building final packages is quite interesting-you prepare the project code, upload it to the special service – https://build.phonegap.com/ and geta package ready to install on the target platform in return. Supported features list is here – http://phonegap.com/about/features. Phonegap for open source projects is free, as the status of build-services is still beta – they do not take money from other developers, but the situation can change with the release. Devices support features upset.

http://www.mosync.com/ – the main language is C++. JavaScript and HTML5 can be used. Development environment – specially prepared Eclipse build.The options of integration into Visual studio are described on the site. Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 are not supported, but you can write for everything else – Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, Symbian, JavaMW. You can’t write with Windows for iOS – in this case MacOS is strictly required. There is a detailed description of support status of platform-dependent elements – http://www.mosync.com/documentation/manualpages/featureplatform-matrix. If you write something for GPL – mosyncsdk can be used for free, otherwise the license costs 200 EUR.

http://www.madewithmarmalade.com/ – the main language is C++ (code is written in Visual Studio or Xcode). It was mentioned about a possibility of using insertions written in native languages for the target platform. You can write for iOS with Windows. It has its own devices simulator. There were heard some complaints for resources voracity and the size of binaries in the output. The licence costs 500 USD.

http://xamarin.com/monotouch and http://xamarin.com/monoforandroid – The creators of the free Sharp version have been leading a very interesting project – Mono. They suggest commercial versions of the libraries for development in C# for Windows Phone, Android and iOs. If needed, it is possible to resort to C++, objective-C and work with the ready libraries that are specific for both platforms. A module for each platform costs 400 USD. The development processes in MonoDevelop IDE.

Embarcadero RAD Studio (a modern reincarnation of Delphi and C++ builder). Although their specialization is not mobile development, they provide very promising tools for developing applications for iOS based devices basing on Fire Monkey. They also say about forthcoming support of Android and Blackberry devices. For a single developer the price is a way too expensive (more than 3500 USD). There is no version for mobile development only, and it’s not worth considering until there is no support of additional mobile OS. At the same time it makes sense to keep a look out which side it develops.

If you know some similar tools, it would be interesting to read about them and your experience of using them-both successful and not.

Kind regards,

Nadya Klim

Nadya Klim
Nadya.Klim@altabel.com
Business Development Manager
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Microsoft may gain a powerful set of partners to help Windows 8 become a success – AT&T and Verizon Wireless, who need leverage against Apple’s onerous demands for subsidies for every iPhone the carriers sell.

AT&T and Verizon are both eying Windows Phone as the Smartphone platform they can promote to push back against Apple demands for high subsidies and royalties. Mobile operators are sick of taking orders from Apple…iPhones are occupying an increasingly dangerous share of mobile operators’ Smartphone sales. In 2011, iPhones represented half of AT&T’s Smartphone sales, and now that Verizon has recently voiced a similar shift in sales, the companies’ fears of an Apple takeover are growing stronger.
There clearly is a danger now that iPhone is going to get a stranglehold of the U.S. Smartphone market, and I don’t think operators are crazy about that. The larger the share of the market that Apple owns, the higher the subsidies it can demand from carriers. Those subsidies eat into carrier profits and fatten Apple’s bottom line.
Apple’s demands for subsidies in order for a carrier to sell an iPhone are legendary. U.S. carriers heavily subsidize all Smartphone hardware, primarily to entice new customers to buy a two-year service contract that costs more than $1,700 over that period. The iPhone 4S with 16GB sells unlocked from Apple for $649 (useful on many GSM carriers with a separate contract), but Verizon, AT&T and Sprint sell it for $199.99 with a two-year contract.
Beyond that, Apple also gets a portion of the monthly revenue that carriers get from each customer who buys an iPhone, and it’s a hefty cut, as much as $600. And that number is on top of the subsidies for the phone itself.

Given all that, it’s no surprise that AT&T and Verizon would see Windows Phone as a possible savior. Microsoft badly needs Windows Phone to succeed, and it also doesn’t have the same leverage to demand high subsidies and monthly royalties. Verizon is particularly interested in pushing Windows 8 phones when they hit. Verizon CFO Fran Shammo hopes to use Windows 8 phones as leverage against Apple:
“We’re really looking at the Windows Phone 8.0 platform because that’s a differentiator. We’re working with Microsoft on it.”

If Verizon and AT&T do make a concerted effort to push Windows Phone, it may finally breathe life into the struggling operating system. As the release of the Lumia 900 shows, Windows Phone devices are just as good as iPhones and Android phones – but by itself, that’s not enough.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

As shipments of Android phones reached 206 million in 2011, Google’s mobile OS captured 46 percent of the global market, easily making it the largest Smartphone platform, according to Taiwan’sMarket Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC).

Such growth paves the way for Android to carve out a 50 percent slice of the market in 2012, says MIC. Though Android will retain its firm lead, the market will also be dominated this year by Apple’s iOS with a 19 percent share and Microsoft’s Windows Phone with a 13 percent share.

Looking at the major Smartphone makers, MIC sees Samsung in the lead with a 21.7 percent share, followed by Apple with 18.7 percent. HTC share will rise to 10.9 percent. But Nokia and RIM will face a rough climate with their shares dropping to 15.6 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.

Overall, Smartphone shipments could hit 614 million this year, a 36 percent jump from the 452 million shipped last year, estimates MIC. For now, Smartphone owners account for only around 14 percent of all mobile subscribers around the globe. But as lower-priced smartphones reach consumers, especially in emerging markets, that percentage will grow to 17 percent this year and 40 percent in 2016.

Looking to eke out more global business, the major Smartphone vendors focused on emerging markets last year. With a varied lineup of smartphones, Samsung has gained strong traction among emerging nations. Apple expanded its sales channels in more emerging countries, capturing healthy sales in China but also targeting South American markets such as Brazil.
Though HTC’s core consumer is in North America and Europe, the company had also grabbed more business in China. RIM has been doing well in areas such as Indonesia, which rely heavily on text messaging. And Nokia is hoping for success with Windows Phone launches in India and China during the first quarter of the year. Still, North America remains the most lucrative market. North America may only represent 15 percent of feature and Smartphone units shipped globally, but due to the high proportion of high-end Smartphone sales, it constitutes 40 percent of total smartphones sold by value.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


%d bloggers like this: