Category Archives: Mobile App Development

Face ID vs Touch ID

Face ID vs Touch ID

In 2013, Apple introduced iPhone 5S with a new finger print recognition system –Touch ID. Apple subsequently made Touch ID available on iPad Air 2 in 2015. Hence, all iPhone launched model since 2013 and all iPad models launched since 2015 feature Touch ID. Touch ID is designed to scan, read, and recognize fingerprint through a fingerprint sensor embedded into the Home button. While using his iPhone or iPad, a user can take advantage of Touch ID to unlock his device, authenticate Apple Pay payments, and purchase digital content simply by touching the home button. Continue reading Face ID vs Touch ID

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10 Mobile App Development Trends for 2018

10 Mobile App Development Trends for 2018
10 Mobile App Development Trends for 2018

Recently, Google revealed the list of most downloaded Android apps for 2017. Surprisingly, the most downloaded apps list for Android platform does not include popular mobile apps like Facebook and WhatsApp. The list includes a number of apps that many Android device users have not heard of. The list will encourage many app developers to launch new mobile apps with out-of-box features and outstanding user experience in 2018. However, the developers also need to adopt the emerging mobile app development trends to accomplish more downloads and generate revenue. Continue reading 10 Mobile App Development Trends for 2018

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Important Enterprise Mobile App Development Facts

Enterprise Mobile App Development Facts
Enterprise Mobile App Development Facts

An enterprise mobile app will help you to solve specific business problems, improve business processes, and make employees productive. But enterprise mobile app development is more complex that consumer centric app development. In addition to identifying and defining your business requirements, you need to explore ways to make the app accessible across devices, platforms, and networks. Also, you have to ensure that the app allows employees to access and store corporate data securely, while being compatible with the existing software systems and solutions.  At the same time, you also need to keep in mind a number of facts to simplify and accelerate enterprise mobile app development. Continue reading Important Enterprise Mobile App Development Facts

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New Features and Enhancements in iOS 11.1

New Features and Enhancements in iOS 11.1
New Features and Enhancements in iOS 11.1

Apple unveiled iOS 11 at its Worldwide Developer Conference 2017. It subsequently rolled out iOS 11 officially in September for iOS, iPad, and iPod Touch. In addition to providing a number of new features and enhancements, the 11th edition of iOS also facilitates multitasking. It even comes with an upgraded Siri with the capability to translate the same sentences into multiple languages without any error. At the same time, the version 11 of Apple’s mobile operating system also brings augmented reality (AR) to iPhone and iPad through a new framework called ARKit. Apple subsequently rolled out several beta versions of iOS 11.1 for testing and evaluation. The company recently rolled iOS 11.1 as a major iOS 11 update. The version 11.1 of iOS comes with several new features, enhancements and bug fixes, along with 70 new emojis.

Overview of New Features and Enhancements in iOS 11.1

Improved Photos

The version 11.1 of iOS resolves some of the problems related to photo apps caused by iOS 11. It resolves the issues that made certain photos appear blurred and slowed down playback effect of Live Photo. Likewise, iOS 11.1 also resolves the issues that impact performance when a user swipes screen shots. It even comes with fixes for an issue that prevented the photos display as part of People album while being restored from the iCloud Backup.

Refined Accessibility Features

IOS 11 comes with several enhancements to improve accessibility of Apple devices. It even provides a number of new Accessibility functions including improved Braille support, improved VoiceOver rotor actions for announcing incoming notifications, and improved VoiceOver access to multi-page PDFs. Many users are expected to install iOS 11.1 to improve accessibility of their iPhones and iPads.

Enhanced Battery Life

Many Apple device users experienced battery problem after upgrading to iOS 11. The version 11.1 of the mobile operating system addresses and resolves the battery problem. It comes with enhancements to fix the battery problem caused by iOS 11. Hence, a user can easily extend the battery life of his device by upgrading to the major iOS 11 update.

Fixes for Key Reinstallation Attack (KRACK)

IOS 11.1 comes with fixes for a Wi-Fi vulnerability called Key Reinstallation Attack (CRACK). KRACK affects the security of iOS devices by cracking the widely used Wi-Fi standard –WPA2. WPA2 is used by most device manufacturers to protect Wi-Fi passwords. The updated version of iOS 11 comes with fixes for KRACK. Hence, users can easily enhance the security of their iPhones and iPads by installing iOS 11.1.

Restored 3D Touch App Switcher

After installing iOS 11 on their 3D touch equipped devices, users noticed the absence of 3D Touch App Switcher gesture. Apple intentionally removed the gesture during beta testing of iOS 11. It even released iOS 11 without implementing the 3D Touch App Switcher gesture. But Apple has restored 3D Touch App Switcher gesture with iOS 11.1. A user can avail the gesture on his 3D touch equipped device after installing iOS 11.1.

Changed Reachability Behavior

While using iOS 11, users lack the option to access Cover Sheet or Notification Center after enabling Reachability. IOS 11.1 allows users to access Cover Sheet even when Reachability is enabled. A user can access the Cover Sheet simply by swiping down from the top half of the screen. The Plus model users are expected to upgrade to iOS 11.1 to take advantage of the restored Cover Sheet access option.

Over 70 New Emoji Characters

Most mobile device users nowadays look for new and appealing emoji characters. IOS 11.1 enables users to avail over 70 new emoji characters. The new Apple emoji characters provided by the updated version of 11 includes expressive smiley faces, gender-neutral characters, mythical creatures, animals, food items and clothing options. The largest batch of emoji icons provided by iOS 11.1 will definitely appeal young users.

Multiple Emoji Suggestions

In addition to providing over 70 new emojis, iOS 11.1 further allows users to avail multiple emoji suggestions while using the QuickType keyboard in the Messages app. The updated QuickType keyboard displays and suggests multiple emoji characters at its end. Hence, it becomes easier for the user to pick and send the most relevant emoji characters almost instantaneously.

Several Bug Fixes

In addition to the new features and enhancements, iOS 11.1 also comes with a number of bug fixes. It comes with fixes for issues that caused cleared Mail notifications to reappear on Lock screen, affected movement of data between managed apps in an enterprise environment, and prevented the VoiceOver rotor to perform precisely. At the same time, iOS 11.1 also comes with a number of bug fixes related to Apple Watch app notifications.

Apple enables users to install and update iOS 11.1 by sending automatic notifications. A user even has option to upgrade to iOS 11.1 manually. But the size of the iOS 11 update differs from one device to another. Also, Apple has already started testing iOS 11.2. It has made first beta of iOS 11.2 available to select iOS app developers for testing and evaluation. Hence, there are chances that many users may update to iOS 11.2 directly instead of installing iOS 11.1.

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What do Android App Developers need to know about Alexa Skills?

What Do Android App Developers need to know about Alexa Skills

Amazon has developed Alexa as an intelligent personal assistant for a variety of devices. Alexa enables users to accomplish a number of tasks – play music, get information, access news, manage shopping lists and operate smart home devices – simply using their voice. At present, Alexa supports several mobile platforms including Android. The users have option to download Alexa app for Android from both Google Play Store and Amazon Appstore. They can even use the Alexa App to manage their devices more efficiently with voice commands.

The latest version of the mobile app further enables users to communicate with their Echo devices by making calls or sending text messages. Amazon currently allows users to choose from over 15000 skills or voice experiences. The users even have option to install specific skills to interact with specific smart appliances or access specific apps, websites, or services. Amazon further allows developers to create and upload new Alexa skills using Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).

The tools, APIs, code snippets, and documentation provided by ASK help programmers to simplify and accelerate Alexa skill development. The Android app developers also have option to develop a variety of skills for Alexa. However, it is important for the Android App Developers to understand various aspects of Alexa skill development.

Understanding Important Aspects of Alexa Skill Development

Types of Alexa Skills

An Android app developer has option to develop a variety of skills for Alexa – custom skills, smart home skills, flash briefing skills and video skills. A custom skill must have the capability to handle any user request, whereas a smart home skill must enable users to operate/control cloud-enabled smart-home devices. A flash briefing skill needs to provide original content for a user’s flash briefings, while a video skill must enable users to find and access video content without invoking any specific skill.

Specific APIs

Alexa Skills Kit allows developers to choose from a wide range of self-service APIs. The Android app developer needs to use specific APIs according to the type of Alexa skill he wants to develop. For instance, while developing a smart home skill, the developer must use the Smart Home Skill API. The Smart Home Skill API defines the requests to be handled by the skill and the voice commands required to invoke the skills. The Android app developer must use the Video Skill API to develop video skills and the Flash Briefing Skill API to create flash briefing skills.

Voice User Interface

Amazon requires developers to focus extensively on voice user interface (VUI) while developing a new Alexa skill. The VUI creates custom voice experiences and enables users to interact with devices through voice input. While developing a new Alexa skill, the Android app developer must keep in mind the latest trends in VUI development – natural language understanding (NLU), automatic speech recognition (ASR), text to speech (TTS), machine learning, and Internet of Things (IoT). Also, he must refer to the Amazon Alexa Voice Design Guide to create skills that deliver voice experience based on human conversation.

Interaction Model

While developing an Alexa skill, the Android app developers must keep in mind the differences between voice user interface (VUIs) and conventional graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Unlike Android apps, the Alexa skill will require users to make requests using their voice and respond to the user requests by voice. Hence, the Android app developers have to learn how to make the Alexa skill interactive without including buttons, display boxes, and select options. They can use specific APIs to make the skills avail built-in interaction models. But the developers have to define their own interaction models while developing custom skills.

Steps to Create a New Alexa Skill

The Android app developers also need to learn and remember the steps in Alexa skill development. The steps may vary according to the type of Alexa skill. But the developer must follow the steps exactly to accelerate Alexa skill development. For instance, while developing a custom skill, the developers has to follow six important steps – design a VUI, set up the skill in developer portal, build interaction model using the voice design, write and test the source code of the skill, beta test the skill, and submit the skill for certification. The Android app developer must take advantage of the Alexa Skills Kit to follow the most appropriate skill building process.

Recently, Amazon announced its plan to reward skill developers based on the customer usage. It has already started rewarding game skill developers. Hence, the Android app developers can earn money by developing new Alexa skills. They can even measure the customer usage of a skill based on a number of parameters – number of new customers and average minutes of usage.

 

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Gearing up for an “App”y Shopping

On Monday when I tried to open Myntra website on my laptop, I was in for a big surprise. In bold letters it said,

DOWNLOAD THE MYNTRA APP NOW
Your choice. Your taste. Your style.
All on your most personal device.

Obviously, I hadn’t followed up on the news and was oblivious to the fact that Myntra had shut down its website on 15th May 2015 and became an App only platform. It is rumored that Flipkart the parent company of Myntra would also follow suit in almost a year. Buoyed by the fact that almost 95% of the traffic at Myntra takes the mobile route and mobile commerce contributes to 70% of their sales, Myntra is all set for the metamorphosis. Recent proliferation of smartphones and tablets (especially in tier II and III cities) and greater access to the internet via broadband, 3G, 4G etc helped build the foundation of an ever growing online consumer base in India.
According to a recent Morgan Stanley report, eCommerce penetration in India is set to grow from 9% in 2013 to 36% by 2020 and most of it being contributed by mobile users. Indeed, I remember, one of my friends was busy adding items to the shopping on a popular eCommerce site on his iPhone coz he would get X% discount more for shopping via the mobile app. Agreed, most of us are deal hunters and we swim with the current but who wouldn’t like a bit of a personalization. With eCommerce companies with a serious eCommerce mobile strategy, encouraging customers to download and use the mobile app, it certainly means that app only culture is in the offing. Only Myntra is the first eCommerce company in the world to implement this bold step.
Needless to say, shopping is a personal experience and Myntra is trying to cash in on this. However, personalizing this experience to a level that it is only available on your personal device could actually make or mar the profits of the company. Not all users are of the same composition. While some would feel irritated of the constant notifications indicated by a beeping handheld device, there would be others who would feel neglected with very few notifications. It all depends upon Myntra now to hold and keep its customers on its mobile because we all know that an app can be deleted with greater ease than what was required to download it. Also, there is a fine line that separates engagement from intrusion.
I have shopped on Myntra a good number of times in the past and I was happy with the experience. I may even download the app for now. But whether I will shop only from Myntra is a matter of “choice”. This is because I cannot change my shopping habit. I love to browse through various eCommerce sites when I look forward to buy something, compare prices, add items to the cart and depending upon the urgency, proceed to check out which could be from a handheld device in case I did not complete the action on my desktop.
What would be the repercussions of app only platform for eCommerce application developers. Well more work possibly; demand for flawless work undoubtedly, greater attention to incorporate better UI/UX into the app definitely and increasingly better career opportunities for mobile app developers. In fact if this step leads to success, Myntra will have a first mover advantage for sure but there will be many other eCommerce sites and boutique online shops that will follow suit with varying degrees of success.
I keep my fingers crossed. At this point of time I am left to wonder how relevant that small icon on my mobile phone would be in the times to come. Only time will tell…

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