Smart Phones Rule the World.

smartphoneSmart Phones rule the World. Or at least they do in the world of mobile telecommunications. Smart Phones sales in  2012 outnumbered sales of the alternative Feature phones for the first time . For some observers it’s surprising that it took so long! These days the ability to personalize this most personal of items gives the mobile phone a social and economic significance beyond merely a means of communication. In decades to come the current explosion of social networking sites, together with communications on the move will be seen as a key period of transition from desktop communication  to  pocket and mobile communication. The picture is however complicated because there remain many areas of the globe which do not have the appropriate levels of infrastructure which are needed to support the data rich services enjoyed by Smart Phone users. In these developing regions the feature phone remains dominant and extremely important aspect of the communications network.

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Indeed as is increasingly touted, the mobile phone is now more accurately described as a pocket computer that just happens to have a phone built in. The computing capability of these Smart Phones has increased at such a fast rate that the expectation for a mobile phone to achieve ever more complex and high quality functions has hardly shown signs of slowing. Apps enable personal fine tuning of the device and crate enormous revenues for the app platforms as well as for the developers. Its almost a perfect synergy between manufacturer, developer and consumer need.

With this in mind its not surprise that Smart Phones finally hold the bigger slice of the mobile phone market across the globe. Of all phones purchased throughout 2012, 51.6% were Smart Phones.  According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly mobile Phone Tracker the total sales for all phones shipped during the first quarter of 2013 has reached 418.6 million phones. So annually just shy of 2 billion mobile phones were shipped in 2012 and a billion of these were Smart Phones.

Amongst the big hitters in the Smart Phone world the competition is fierce as each strives for increased market share. So far this has helped bring us fantastic styling, great features and an increasingly robust range of devices. Samsung, Apple, HTC, Nokia to name but a few are already household names in the West and making increasing inroads into the relatively new but rapidly emerging markets in the rest of the world. There’s a long way to go before certain developing nations are able to benefit from the data rich services carried by Smart Phones and until networks are strengthened throughout these economies the Feature phone will retain its place as an important communications tool.

Cloud Computing, what is it?

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Buying servers for your business is an absolute no brainer,right? Well not really.

As soon as you want to host something such as website or online service, you need a server. The server hosts the website which hosts the databases or whatever else you are storing or distributing. The amount of access, the amount of data the speed required and the resilience needed all add into the mix to determine how many servers you will need to buy or rent. The server’s then need to be “housed” somewhere, in a specially designed secure and air-conditioned area. The point being, it’s not a back of the envelope job to estimate the amounts of all these aspects of the server resource that’s required and an overestimate means that you are spending money unnecessarily, an underestimate could make the services unstable, subject to crashes and eventual re build costs.

So far so bad.  So how does Cloud computing help?

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When the Cloud computing approach arrived on the scene, the job of estimating, managing your business computing and server resources changed for the better. In the world of cloud you can add resources and remove resources quickly so that you only pay for what you need and you may never need to worry about not having enough capacity. A surge in business can be met in a matter of minutes by an expansion of server space. This is made possible because all those individual servers, ring-fenced for specific traffic and businesses are pooled as single resource, in other words connected to each other to get them working together so that the free space in each becomes a large free space across the whole pool of servers. Most of the time, servers don’t run at full capacity. Servers rarely run at maximum capacity which means that unused processing power is being wasted. In cloud computing, the servers are monitored and controlled by a central server. It’s possible to fool a physical server into thinking it’s actually multiple servers, each running with its own independent operating system. This technique is called server virtualization and it allows the maximisation of the output of individual servers thereby reducing the need for more actual physical servers.

The big advantage for those using cloud hosting services is that it’s very scalable, reliable and you can be sure that you are only going to pay for what you actually need.  But beyond this your business will benefit from freeing up your IT team from the chores of server management, troubleshooting so that they can start putting their skills to use on strategic and other value adding types of activity. It may even put a smile on their faces!

BirdTrack App Well Received

BirdTrack App Well Received - App Developers UKBirdTrack organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has maintained its high placing in the reference app category.

The iOS version of this fantastic resource, created by App Developers UK and featured on this blog recently, has been used by thousands of bird enthusiasts to watch the movements and track the sightings of hundreds of species of birds visiting the UK. Ratings from the app store show how well received the app has been.  As of Saturday 20th April the app was ranked 66th in the reference category. Considering the tens of thousands of reference apps on the market that’s a very impressive position.

With an estimated 5,000 downloads since its recent release. The app has been garnering some very positive feedback, for instance:  I was aware that this App was imminent and was eagerly awaiting its arrival. I wasn’t”t disappointed. This App was obviously created by someone who’d put some thought into its use. Once downloaded and synched to my BTO account I was able to enter data within seconds. Excellent App, highly recommended”

The chances are that more and more will begin to enjoy BirdTrack. If you are interested to learn about the development of this app then drop us a line here at App Developers UK.

MWC 2013 Mobile Security: Key Points

mobile world congressSecurity was a big theme at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Every major name was in attendance, touting their latest innovations for smartphones and tablets. But aside from promoting their products there were some very interesting points being made about the current state of mobile security around the world.

 Users don’t understand mobile security

This was one point made over and over by everyone we spoke to: a lack of awareness is allowing mobile viruses to propagate and opening users up to dangerous security breaches.

It took years for computer owners to understand that they needed to have anti-virus and that you shouldn’t just go clicking every attachment found in an email, and unfortunately mobile security right now is in the same state as PCs in the mid-90s.

Too many people are surprised to discover that anti-virus is even a possibility on a mobile phone, and users will blindly trust apps without taking the time to check permissions. Many don’t even have a PIN code or password protecting their phone – Norton Antivirus thinks this could be around 35% of users, but McAfee estimates it might be as high as 50%.

Security companies are trying to educate (of course, they want to sell software) but manufacturers could do a lot more to raise awareness.

 Android is the most popular target for viruses

Android is, unfortunately, the mobile platform most under threat from viruses and hackers.  There are two main reasons for this.Android is, unfortunately, the mobile platform most under threat from viruses and hac

First is popularity. Last year alone 144 million Android-powered devices were sold all over the world (compared to 43 million iPhones). That’s a huge, tempting target for nefarious types who want to create the biggest impact. And with so many of these Android phones being sold in developing countries or to kids and smartphone newcomers, the victims are more likely to fall prey to their tricks.

Secondly, Android is a much easier target. It’s not that it has a significantly higher number of exploits than other platforms, but its focus on openness and freedom means virus writers have other options for getting their malware onto an Android phone. Which leads to our next point…

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Piracy and unofficial app stores pose a huge threat

These are two of the major avenues for distributing Android viruses.

By default an Android device will not allow you to install software from somewhere other than an official source, however this is simply an option in the settings menu. Disable that and you can ‘sideload’ by copying .APK installations to the device memory.

That’s why Android piracy is such an issue, but it doesn’t just pose a problem for developers having their hard work used for free – virus writers like to attach their code to pirated apps then send them out into the wild where they’ll be available on forums, file sharing networks and even pirate app stores. Users just think they’re getting something for free, not realising that there’s an unpleasant surprise hiding in the background.

App stores are another trouble spot. Google Play is the standard app store but there is nothing stopping third parties setting up their own, which is often what happens in places such as India and China where they do not fulfil the requirements for carrying Google Play.

Unfortunately these sources are often poorly curated so it’s very easy for viruses to slip in and end up on the phones and tablets of unwitting users who think they can trust the outlet.

Now this isn’t to say that viruses never appear on the iPhone, but with nothing other than the Apple App Store (and no way to install software) on unmodified iPhones this is not the issue it is with Android.

Author Bio: Matt Powell is the editor for the broadband, smartphone and tablet information site Broadband Genie. You can follow him on Twitter @broadbandgenie

Google Glass Developers

If you are about to spend a chunk of money on the very exciting seeming Google Glass device I think its to be expected that you expect and want to be able to experience the best and most amazing apps through the device. Google Glass developers, read on.

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Last week’s release of the developer documentation for Google Glass has been a bit like opening a gift and finding that it contained only half of what you had hoped for. The “Mirror” API through which any developer output can be connected to the Google Glass device is lacking the punch and whizz bang possibilities hoped for.

The apps  written for Google glass will need to be web based and cannot be run directly on the Glasses and there are other restricting aspects, in particular around the styling and design of compatible apps.

What’s more, by making the content web based, Google are able to monitor what’s being delivered. Presumably if they don’t like it they will intervene. The small print may inform us more on this detail but surely the principal is a break with the “tradition” of app development for mobile devices.

diagrams of google glassDevelopers may also wince at the limitations set elsewhere in the API. For starters the styling of pages is restricted and heavily leaning towards pre-defined (by Google) template styles. The inability to make augmented reality apps which would seem to be the ideal stable mate for the device, is restricted at the moment.

Certainly there are a number of restrictions for this first release but let’s face it, this is a radical product so to a degree there are concepts, opportunities as yet untested and unknown which will emerge once this new device gains a place in our day to day lives whether you are a wearer or not. Google Glass is a ground breaking wearable device delivering content in a way that hitherto has been available only in the minds of Star Trek writers. It is very impressive to think of walking around and talking to the device and receiving feedback and content in a seemingly seamless manner. Its cutting edge, but at first there is bound to be some rough and tumble as we live through the early dawn of what will surely be a new era or wearable  communication devices.

 

Sat Nav Overkill?


l_20745401Commuters generally take a similar if not identical route every working day of the week.  The fact is that they grow to know the route intimately and could probably do it whilst reading the Times and eating a piece of toast. What do they need a sat nav for? Isn’t this a case of Sat Nav Overkill?

Well according to TomTom it’s an added value to their experience…by adding traffic data enabling them to avoid pinch points, jams and the other joys of commuting. Like others, here at App Developers UK we have our doubts as to the actual need for this extra data.  And what happens if everyone on the same commute gets the same information and takes the same avoiding actions, diversions? Logic would suggest that they create a jam elsewhere on the route and hence generate more data for their device and hence and so on in a never ending jamtastic journey to work. Seriously though isn’t it time to put the brakes on technology for technology’s sake? This is just one example of delivering data just because we can.

But according to TomTom the whole point is to get this auto piloted journeys into the TomTom gambit. Then again the customer is going to drive this concept and in our opinion leave it parked on the hard shoulder. Don’t do it Mr TomTom, instead develop something useful like a live parking data feed so we can find a car park without having to tour the vicinity searching for SPACES.

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In fact that would be a great idea, wonder if there’s an app for that? Probably. If you know of one, that works, really works…. please let us know, we all want one of those!

Free Apps under OFT investigation.

Free Apps are great. Free Apps are a pain. It depends on your point of view. For many device owners the majority of the apps they download are free. At App Developers UK we create and publish numerous so called free apps. The world knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch, someone has to pay.

Apps allow the users access to software developed carefully and considerately and at considerable costs. The cost to develop an app has not really changed up or down over the recent years and the use of skilled developers is absolutely at the core of it all. So a Free app makes no sense. However the free app can make great sense if the content is organised carefully. In the business many refer to this as the Freemium model.

Many of the Apps are of this type. The free app contains limited but useful or enjoyable content and the user is allowed access to more content at a cost, clearly marked within the app. The OFT investigation revolves around some gaming apps, free to download and containing additional aspects or content, in the form of virtual money, coins, fruit or levels of interaction. It’s a way to monetise a free app and in the context of apps seems to us to be perfectly reasonable.  Correctly, we feel, OFT wants to ensure transparency in these in app purchases. As reported on the OFT website:

The OFT investigation is exploring whether these games are misleading, commercially aggressive or otherwise unfair. In particular, the OFT is looking into whether these games include ‘direct exhortations’ to children – a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them. This is unlawful under the Consumer Protection (from Unfair Trading) Regulations 2008.

Its key though that a parent or responsible adult takes it upon themselves to monitor use of these apps and to ensure that any password is not made available to any minor who may not fully understand the implications of buying more content. In adult speak its quickly understood that when you buy £60.00 of digital gold coins to enable you to “buy” your way into the next “room of doom” or whatever it is, that the credit card bill will reflect this in real and actual money. That’s definitely not the sort of experience a parent may be anticipating as they go about their daily lives whilst their offspring (presumably!) borrow the iPad for a few hours.

Seriously though, get with the program, as our North American cousins may say. The responsibility is with the responsible adult.

Here’s a quick reminder of preventative measures for anyone fearing that their next credit card bill will be loaded with purchases of virtual goodies.(or even actual goodies delivered to your front door !).

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Do not assume that all children understand that virtual money costs real money in these game environments.

 

 

 

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Turn off “in app purchasing” options on the device.

 

 

 

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Talk to your children and…………explain. It’s called “parenting”.

 

 

 

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If you still find yourself in the unfortunate position of not trusting your children….the fail safe measure is: Do not provide the relevant pass codes to your children.

Malware on Mobile Devices rockets by 163% in 2012.

malware A recent report on malware from mobile service provider NQ Mobile highlights that in 2012 malware threats on mobile platforms grew 163%.  This comprised of more than 65,000 identified distinct forms of app repackaging, malicious URLs and SMS phishing. 95% of all the attacks were geared towards Android devices which is normally seen as the platform of choice for malware.

Malware threats and more elaborate attacks are only likely to increase according to NQ. One of the more concerning malware attacks uses an Android device as a launch platform when connected to a computer via USB, enabling it to infect a far greater number of hosts. In a recent release, NQ Mobile co-CEO Omar Khans said that what’s needed is a system that can detect threats in advance of infection and prevent them, something that so far hasn’t really been widely available.

According to NQ Mobile’s report in excess of 32.8 million Android devices were infected in 2012, this is an increase of over 200% on 2012.  This figure does need to be put in to context in relation to the explosion in mobile devices over the course of the last year.  According to ABI Research there will be in excess of 798 million active Android devices by the end of 2013 compared to 300 million from early 2012.

The iOS platform does suffer from infection but on a much lower scale mainly due to the strict review process that all apps have to pass through before being allowed in to the App Store.  Some still do get through but mainly these are apps that are leaking more personal data than is strictly required for the app to operate.

www.appdevelopersuk.com have put together some handy tips that will help to protect your mobile devices from unwanted malware.

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  • Before downloading apps make sure that they are from a reputable source.
  • Always be wary of downloading an app that has no user rating or poor user ratings.
  • Read the user reviews before downloading.
  • Popular apps are frequently cloned so make sure you are installing the app that originates from the company that developed the app in the first place.  If in doubt Google.
  • Be suspicious of tapping links in emails even if they are from friends.
  • Never click links from that are sent from unknown SMS senders.
  • If running an Android device look in to installing an anti virus app like AVG Mobile or Norton.

Google Glass. Excitement Mounts.

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Google Glass. Excitement Mounts.The heat is being turned up on the Google Glass front. This week Google has been dropping hints and appetizers about what the Google Glass product will actually deliver in terms of specification.

On Monday the news concerned an exciting sounding Explorer edition for starters. These will include a 5 mega pixel camera with ability to capture up to 720p video as well as an impressive 16gb on board storage.

In terms of the usefulness or desirability we have already aired some doubts here at App Developers UK but it has to be said that with a marketing budget and brand such as Google we are expecting a significant interest from the buying public. Will you be amongst the early adopters or will you wait for subsequent iterations? Its fun to be in on a product early doors but the fun may be reduced by cost factors. As yet we are not sure what the price of these little Goggle, er,…. Google Glasses will be but rumour has it you will need to part with “serious dollar” to get hold of a pair.

The idea of having a stream of images in front of your eyes may get your juices going, and according to insiders the effect is going to be a little bit like looking at a medium sized TV from a distance of 8 feet away. That’s amazing. How the deuce does this impact on normal daily function’s like walking? I mean in a crowd, you have a high def. TV image in front of you, aren’t you in danger of walking into traffic?  The sound moreover is to be delivered by “bone conduction”. Wow!

Back to basics, there will be a decent Wi Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and a micro usb for charging and data transfers. The MyGlassApp which is already available on the Google Play store, will enable interactivity between the Glasses and any Ice Cream 4.0.3 loaded Android mobile.

In all of this the one fact we cannot ignore is that the availability of this product in the Google stable is important because its a clear differentiator between Android and its biggest rival handset producer, Apple.  Will Apple devotees now consider a cheaper Android device as a second device so that they can run the Google Glass device? Willl this allow Google to tempt these cross platform users to further treats via their Glasses?The future is Clear, the future is Glass. Or not?

Advertising on Apps

imagesSpend on digital advertising has grown past the 5 billion dollars during 2012. Advertising on Apps is big buisness, infact the mobile element of this growth accounts for over 50% of the growth. That’s even more impressive against falling or stagnating Ad spend in other sectors.  Mobile adverts, so often carried in apps are right there at the forefront of the advertising business.

What does this mean for apps? The exciting aspect of this growth is that it gives additional weight to the view that apps can generate significant advertising income. If even a small share of the huge advertising spend is being channelled via the app world then this should give inspiration to those looking to develop an app.

The numbers show an increase in the mobile sector of 323 million pounds in 2012. Not forgetting this is an austerity phase of economic activity adds even more weight to the significance of these figures.

In the UK  the high take-up of broadband and the continuing rise of smartphones and tablet computers have helped establish this improvement in sales into the mobile sector and helping the advertising community see mobile as just as important as any other digital platform. In Britain the market has 2/3 penetration in terms of smart phone ownership. That’s a very large section of the population and gives advertises confidence that their message will be seen and heard. Further segmentation by platform naturally follows.

“Advertisers are increasingly buying integrated campaigns across online and mobile rather than regarding mobile as an afterthought,” director of research and strategy at the IAB Tim Elkington said.

And what of the future. Analysts think that when 4G is established the power and potential will leap further as speeds of delivery of data will enhance the experience for users. Better muliti- tasking, faster downloads, higher resolutions all add value to this already burgeoning sector. Here at App Developers UK we are expecting a maturation of the market as the tail begins to wag the dog. In other words the ads may become the prime motivator for the creation of an app rather than the other way around. Watch this space.