Altabel Group's Blog

Archive for July 2015

The long awaited Windows 10 OS has been just released. The launch of the new OS, Microsoft`s revenge on unsuccessful Windows 8, will become one of the most important launches in Microsoft’s history.

With Windows 10, Microsoft is trying to keep some of the touch and tablet features it created for Windows 8, combine them with the familiar Start menu and desktop, and run it all on top of an improved operating system. To decide whether to switch to Windows 10 or not, let`s have a closer look at new cool features offered by Windows 10:

1. New and Improved Start Menu

Microsoft brings back the Start Menu. Absence of which, Windows 8 has been blamed for. Now, when you click on the Start button at the bottom left of the screen, you get two panels side by side, with the left column showing pinned, recently and most-used apps.

Now it’s a more familiar place where you can view regularly used apps, have the ability to use universal search (including web search) and even have the ability to shut down or restart a Windows 10 laptop or tablet.

2. Cortana for desktop

Microsoft is bringing its mobile digital assistant, Cortana, to the desktop. It will be the central location for searching your local machine and the Web, either by voice or typing in your query.

“Hey Cortana” – you say and the assistant opens.

Another interesting feature of Cortana is its Notebook that you can customize to fit your interests, which helps Cortana get “smarter” over time. You can add interests from Bing news, sports, weather, and more.

3. New web browser: Microsoft Edge

Forget about Internet Explorer, that annoyed most of users. Microsoft Edge is leaner, meaner, and faster. However their icons look exactly the same.

Edge is the new default web browser for Windows 10. It features a host of built-in features such as a screen grab tool with touchscreen doodling abilities, a note pad and reading mode.

4. Continuum

With the rise of hybrid laptop-tablet devices, Microsoft wants to make it easier to switch between either mode. It`s one of the greatest new features in Windows 10, now the system will detect if you’ve plugged in a keyboard or mouse and switch modes for more convenient interaction. If you remove the keyboard/mouse, a notification will pop up from the task bar at the bottom, asking if you want to activate Tablet mode.

5. Improved Multitasking

A new Multiple Desktops feature lets you run another set of windows as if on another screen, but without the physical monitor. This is similar to Apple’s Spaces feature on OS X, and helps you manage your multitude of open windows and apps. Instead of having multiple windows open on top of each other on one desktop, you can set up a whole other virtual desktop for those programs to reside in. Set up one specifically for home and leave your apps such as Netflix and Amazon open, and create another desktop for work on which you keep Word, Excel and Internet Explorer open.

6. Action Center

One of the more annoying features in Windows 8 is the Charms bar. It’s hidden and pops up annoyingly when your mouse pointer is at the edge of your screen. That annoyance is gone, replaced by a notification center that Microsoft calls “Action Center”, which gives you notifications and quick access to common actions like Wi-Fi or Airplane Mode. Plus, on the desktop, you need to click a button on the taskbar to bring it up, which means it won’t be popping up arbitrarily as you’re getting things done.

7. Universal apps and Unified Windows Store

Previously called “modern” or “metro-style apps”, now will be called “Universal apps” as they’ll look and function virtually the same on different Windows 10 devices.

With a new Windows Store in Windows 10, users can buy apps once that work across their computers, smartphones, and tablets.

8. Control Panel – Settings app

Instead of having two apps to control your device settings in Control Panel and PC Settings, Microsoft is making things less confusing by bringing them together in one. You’ll be able to manage your device from one place.

9. Touch support for office apps

A new version of Office apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook will provide a touch-first interface across phones, tablets and PCs. The apps will look and perform the same way on a PC as they do on a mobile device for a more coherent experience.

10. Windows 10 is free

One of the biggest new developments in the Windows 10 story is that it will be completely free to upgrade. It will be available at no charge for the first year for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users. It will also be free if you’re still running Windows 7.

The article covers only some of the new things you’ll see in Windows 10, and I`m sure, you will reveal more great features offered by Windows 10. But we can say for sure that Windows 10 is a big improvement over Windows 8 and worth trying it. And will you upgrade for Windows 10?

 

Anna Kozik

Anna Kozik
Anna.Kozik@altabel.com 
Skype ID: kozik_anna
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Staying in shape is hard work. As the tech savvy community that we are, we spend most of our time working in front of our computers and mobile devices. As a result, we often let our health take the back seat, never really finding the time to go to the gym or a fitness class and more often than not choosing fast food over much healthier options.

In the past, finding out the answer to these sorts of fitness or nutrition-related queries required going to an expert for advice or trawling the internet in the hope of finding an answer. Nowadays, things are a lot easier thanks to the health and fitness apps available on the App Store or Google Play. Because our smartphones and apps are always with us, they become constant reminders to check your progress, stay the course, and keep your willpower strong.

Here are the top 10 hand-selected health and fitness apps proven to be the most effective in terms of execution and, of course, results.

1. RunKeeper

RunKeeper is a workout-tracking program that offers detailed stats about things like pace, distance, time, and calories burned. Features include detailed fitness plans to help you achieve a variety of goals (lose weight, improve endurance, run a race, etc.); real-time audio coaching to keep you encouraged; and built-in social sharing tools (so you can brag about those workouts with ease).
Cost: Free. Available on iOS, Android

1. Runkeeper

2. Cyclemeter

Cyclemeter may very well be one of the most feature complete cycling apps you’re going to find, on any platform. Not only can you track every statistic you can possibly thing of, you can customize over 120 audio alerts to let you know exactly where you are during a certain ride. Cyclemeter also lets you share your workouts online as well as notify friends and family of exactly where you are, whether during a race or just for safety reasons. Cyclemeter has built-in training assistance to help you get ready for any kind of race you may be prepping for.
Cost: Free; $4.99 Elite Upgrade optional. Available on iOS

2. cyclemeter

3. MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a mobile app and website that gives you a wealth of tools for tracking what and how much you eat, and how many calories you burn through activity. Of all the existing calorie counters, MyFitnessPal is by far the easiest one to manage, and it comes with the largest database of foods and drinks. With the MyFitnessPal app you can fastidiously watch what you eat 24/7, no matter where you are.
Cost: Free. Available on: Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone, Web

3. MyFitnessPal

4. Pocket Yoga

Pocket Yoga is a self-guided yoga practice that you can customize to fit your schedule and experience level. Features include detailed voice and visual instructions that guide you through every pose, 150 illustrated pose images including correct posture and positioning, and a workout log that tracks your progress to encourage consistency.
Cost: Android ($2.99), iOS ($1.99). Available on: Android, iOS

4. pocket yoga

5. Fooducate

Fooducate helps you eat healthier by scanning barcodes of products and providing a nutrition grade instantly, ranging from A to D. You can read unbiased information of a product, such as the controversy behind food coloring and make better, educated choices for your food intake. To help Fooducate, you can also submit products for analysis and write your own review.
Cost: Free. Available on: Android, iOS

5. fooducate

6. iDrated

No matter how much water you drink now, you’d probably be recommended by your GP to drink more. Drinking water is a key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle by keeping our skin looking younger, improving natural digestion and removing bodily toxins.
With intuitive gesture-based interaction, iDrated will help keep track of your water intake throughout the day and remind you should you forget to drink in a while.
Cost: $0.99. Available on: iOS

6. idrated

7. Smoke Free

We all know the effects smoking has on our health but giving up the habit can require a lot of willpower that some of us just don’t have.
Having visual feedback from your progress like how much money you’ve saved so far can be used as a big incentive to help us keep going.
Downloading Smoke Free can be the first step to becoming healthier.
Cost: Free. Available on: iOS

7. Smoke free

8. Workout Trainer

Workout Trainer is a fitness training app that comes equipped with thousands of free workouts designed for a wide variety of fitness goals, experience levels, and personal preferences. Features include a virtual fitness consultation to personalize and improve your experience; instructional photos, videos, and audio cues that illustrate every exercise; online support community; and a built-in music player.
Cost: Free. Available on: iOS, Android

8. workout trainer

9. Fitocracy

Fitocracy is an RPG (role playing game)- like app that allows you to earn points and level up during your fitness journey. New friends and accountability buddies will cheer you on in an online social community that’s like Facebook but for fitness.
Cost: Free. Available on: iOS, Android

9. fitocracy

10. iTriage Health

Here’s an app that takes the concept of a medical dictionary to a whole new level. iTriage not only allows you to search symptoms and find potential causes, it suggests treatments and finds qualified facilities and doctors in your area. If you’re having a medical emergency and need to head to the ER or urgent care, this app can provide average wait times.
It also includes numbers for emergency hotlines and physician and nurse advice lines, so you can be connected easily to a real person who will give you feedback on your condition. All of this information can be saved on the app for your convenience.
Cost: Free. Available on: iOS, Android

10. iTriage

Did you have a chance to try these helpful applications? Which of them did you like most? Let us know using the comments below.

 

Kate Kviatkovskaya

Kate Kviatkovskaya

Business Development Manager

E-mail: Kate.Kviatkovskaya@altabel.com
Skype: kate.kviatkovskaya
LI Profile: Kate Kviatkovskaya

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Front-end development frameworks are handy tools to save time and effort when it comes to designing web sites or applications. The choice of them is extremely wide nowadays, they can be either small or big and rich in features. One can be big enough to provide a fully functional responsive website template.

Each framework has its own strengths and weaknesses, specific areas of application, allowing you to choose based on the needs of a specific project. Here is the list of the most popular frontend development frameworks:

1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is the most used frontend web development framework in the world. Created and maintained by Twitter, it is described as “a sleek, intuitive, and powerful mobile first front-end framework for faster and easier web development.” The best thing about Bootstrap is that it is continuously upgraded by the bootstrap developers with latest technological advancements. For instance, when recently Google released material design guidelines, material design based bootstrap themes became available just under less than a month. This is the speed with which bootstrap follows and adapts any new web design trend.

Technically, bootstrap might not be necessarily better than the other frameworks, but it offers many resources (articles and tutorials, third-party plug-ins and extensions, theme builders, and so on). And you can see it basically everywhere. And this is perhaps the main reason why it’s framework #1 by popularity.

2. Foundation

Foundation is a truly professional lightweight front-end framework from Zurb. This framework enables the user to create complicated layouts without the need to create a large number of custom elements. Some key features that Foundation comes up with for building lightning fast websites are: data-interchange – using it you can load light weight html sections for mobile usage and heavier html for desktop or big screen devices; Fastclick.js – for ultra-fast mobile experience; off Canvas Navigation– almost default navigation style, you can create off canvas navigation out of the box using foundation; GPU Acceleration – helps smooth and faster animations.

This is one framework that gives a close competition to Bootstrap in terms of popularity, use and features.

3. Semantic UI

Semantic-UI is quite new yet already very competitive framework to the likes of Bootstrap and Foundation. It takes quite a different approach making websites building much more semantic. It utilizes natural language principles, thus making the code much more readable and understandable. Instead of learning complex CSS class naming conventions, Semantic classes are easier to remember. The other plus of Semantic is that most of its UI components come with real-time debug, making it easier to trace JavaScript behaviors.

Semantic is one of the most innovative and full-featured frameworks. It comes integrated with many third party libraries like Angular, Ember and Meteor and you hardly need to use any additional library even in the big and complex web projects.

4. Gumby

Gumby has become popular in very short time. It is a responsive CSS framework that is extremely customizable. Few of the key features of this framework are – an extensive and beautiful UI Kit and templates that give designers a head start in the design life cycle and a responsive grid system that adapts to any device and viewport. The framework also comes with a large number of components including responsive images (for serving images based on device size) and parallax for creating parallax effect like a breeze.

5. Pure

Pure is a light weight package of CSS modules that can be utilized in any web project.
It was created by the design house of Yahoo. Pure doesn’t come with additional JS or jQuery plugins, it is pure CSS.

The best thing about Pure is its exceptional small size. It offers only bare-bones styles for a clean start to your project. It’s ideal for people who don’t need a full-featured framework but only specific components to include in their work.

6. Susy

Susy doesn’t come as a jumbo sized package like Bootstrap or Foundation to cover all aspects of web design, but it brings out the best in what it is meant to do, building grids. So basically you have to understand the complexities of how grids are built. When you do that, some people say that then there is nothing better than Susy as you are able to create any kind of grid layout.

7. And the last in my list but not least – Material UI

Material design is rocking at the moment and promises to continue for the coming years. So CSS frontend development frameworks around material design are inevitable and Material UI is the pioneer in that direction and is the most comprehensive framework that implements Google material design. It is built on top of LESS CSS preprocessor and comes packed with React Components.

This framework provides CSS and material design compliant ready to use components that can be used in your web project. What you get with Material UI– Google Material Design Color Palette, Typography, Customization Option, etc.

So let me stop here, although one can for sure make this list longer (and you are welcome to!). There are many frameworks out there, so what one can advice you is to choose a popular framework that is under active development, but has reached some maturity. But the most important thing is to select a framework that fits you project needs. And finally, if you are willing to, you can adopt a mix-and-match approach. If a particular framework doesn’t satisfy your needs, you can mix components from two or more projects.
 

Aliona Kavalevich

Aliona Kavalevich
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Skype ID: aliona_kavalevich
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

 

Custom software is intended for particular organizations and users. As opposed to software developed for mass market, custom software is made and used by only one company. Businesses build custom software solutions to meet their unique business requirements. Leading companies use custom solutions for supporting their new initiatives in order to keep on being a leader in the market and enhance their performance.

Benefits for organizations

When it comes to making a major investment in software, company has to decide between buying ‘off-the-shelf’ software and getting custom software developed. Since every business has different requirements, it is very difficult for packaged software to comply with all the needs. Custom business software is designed to cater to your exact needs, the way you want it to be, which can simplify and improve your business process and enhance return on investment.

How choosing the custom software development path can help your business:

• Custom software development makes it possible to incorporate into software all the features you need and want. You don’t have to wait for vendor’s release schedule to deliver new features. This surely quickens time-to-market and positively influences your return on investment.

• By building software tailored to your specifications you won’t put your business into difficulty in case the purchased software doesn’t prove to be suitable later. Bespoke software is developed taking into account the current as well as future business requirements.

• When you choose custom software development, no modifications are required as it is the best-fit application. In case of readymade software, you may have to bring changes to fit its functions, which usually turns out to be very costly.

• Before starting bespoke software development, the programmers have a very clear understanding of what your business needs to receive in the end. Your business objectives, requirements, needs and vision are understood and the software is created accordingly.

• When you are getting tailored software developed, you can pick the project management methodology that best fits your business and the development team will put you in the loop of the entire development process. This guarantees cost-efficiency and proper usage of your resources.

• Bespoke software can even be customized to integrate to your existing as well as future systems, thus automating and simplifying your business operations. They are flexible and scalable enough for improvements, changes and future growth.

Most important things to consider when choosing a custom software development company

• Understanding Your Needs
Before you choosing a company, identify your business needs, the problems you are facing and trying to solve and the kind of software that will help you to meet your objectives.

• Cost Factor
Cost is always one of the most important deciding factors. Analyze the cost that will be involved in the project and whether it fits your budget or not.

• Portfolio & Experience
It is crucial to consider the past projects undertaken by the company to know its efficiency and get an idea about the different kind of custom software developed by them. A company that has already worked on various custom projects have tried and tested methodologies to successfully complete the project.

• Client References
One of the best ways to know about the company is to get in touch with its clients. Get the clients’ references from the company and gather the feedback. You can know about the type of projects the company has handled, its ability to meet the deadlines and the quality of the applications it has delivered.

• Size of the Project
Not all software development companies take all the sizes of projects. Some companies are small and have the capacity to take up only small and medium projects. Some companies target large and multi-enterprise projects. Whereas some companies take multi-year projects. You need to determine which company will rightly fit your project.

• Team
A company should have professional and motivated teams to work on the development projects. The developers should show the readiness to work on your project and be ready to take suggestions and inputs for improvements.

• Technology-Expertise
You should know whether the company has an expertise in the technology, which is going to be used in building your software. Different companies have proficiency in different technologies. So consider the technology expertise of the company before finalizing the project.

• Timeline
A very important consideration is the timeline of your project. A software project may take months or years to get completed. You might have a deadline or would want the software, for quickly launching your product in the market. But you just can’t expect the software to be readily developed; it is always wise to trade features for time. A good custom software development company will work with you the way you want, ensure you on-time delivery and even help you make a wise trade-off between the features and time frame of the project, in case of tight deadlines.

• Technical Support
Make sure you have the information about the technical support services of the company. Your software might face issues after the delivery, bringing your work to standstill. So discuss about the after-development support services provided by the company.

Choosing the right custom software development company is the first stage of your development process. And if you choose a wrong path here, you have to face devastating results, leading to the failure of your project. So doing proper research and study, and capturing detailed information about the company is of high importance. The best company will be the one that delivers you custom software matching your business needs within the stipulated time and cost, without compromising with the quality.

What is your experience with custom software development? Would you prefer custom or off-the-shelf solutions for your business? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment below 🙂

Yuliya Tolkach

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


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