mobile roundup

After a brief break from blogging, we’re back! Here’s more news from the industry that makes the mobile devices we can’t get enough of…

How to switch from iOS to Android Lollipop

android lollipop

Google has been naming successive iterations of its Android mobile operating system by going through the alphabet and assigning codenames to each. Starting with Android C or “Cupcake” in April 2009, every Android codename has been some kind of food. The currently released version, Android 4.4, is also known as KitKat, and the upcoming version, Android 5.0, is also Android L, whose codename has recently been revealed to be Lollipop. Lollipop promises to run well on a variety of form factors, from smartphones to tablets to smartwatches to cars to any other place one might see fit to run Android. Using a new approach to user interface called Material Design, it promises to deliver a great user experience no matter what sort of device you’re running Android on. Here’s The Verge’s overview of Material Design:

Material Design has been well received by developers and designers, and it looks like a pleasure to use, but it’ll still be an unfamiliar system to those people switching to Android. Google have anticipated this and released a guide for iOS users switching over to Android Lollipop that covers:

  • Moving photos and music from iOS to Android
  • Transferring your contacts
  • Setting up email and messaging
  • Finding the apps you loved on iOS on Android

How to switch from Android to iOS, and iOS 8.1 on iPhone 6

ios 8.1 on iphone 6 6 plus

Not to be outdone by Google, Apple have released their own switching guide which shows Android users how to get the most out of their new iPhone. It covers moving:

  • Email settings and messages, as well as the data from your contacts and calendars
  • Photos and videos
  • Music
  • Books and PDFs
  • Documents
  • Apps

iOS 8.0 had a number of issues when it was first released, and while fixes were provided in iOS 8.0.1 and 8.0.2, a number of issues remained. iOS 8.1 has now been released, and GottaBeMobile.com have tried it out on their iPhone 6 devices and posted a review.

NSA approves Samsung devices running Knox security software for government use

nsa okays knox

Samsung’s Knox is a “container” system that separates Samsung mobile devices into two separate workspaces: a personal one and a protected Knox workspace one, where data is protected through hardware- and software-integrated security measures to provide secure access to corporate resources and protection from unauthorized users. The NSA and Central Security Service have approved the following for government use as long as they’re using Knox:

  • Galaxy S4
  • Galaxy S5
  • Galaxy Note 3
  • Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 edition)

While these devices meet the NSA’s security standards, there’s no guarantee that this approval will translate into orders for these devices from the US government.

Tim Cook says that iPad has a bright future in spite of flat sales

tim cook on ipad's bright future

iPad sales may have seen their third straight quarter of decline is sales, but Tim Cook still appears to be bulling about the tablet’s future. “I know there’s a lot of negative commentary in the markets on this, but I have a little different perspective on it,” he said during Apple’s most recent earnings call.

He also says:

  • “Instead of looking at this thing each 90 days, if you back up and look at it, we’ve sold 237 million in just over four years. That’s about twice the number of iPhones that we sold over the first four years of iPhone.”
  • “If you look at the last 12 months of iPad, we sold 68 million, and in fiscal year [2013], we sold 71. So we were down, but we were down 4% on sell-in and the sell-through was a bit better than the -4, because we took down channel inventory some. I view it as a speed bump, not a huge issue. That said, we want to grow. We don’t like negative numbers on these things.”
  • “The last market research data is in the June quarter. If you look at our top six revenue countries, in the country that sold the lowest percentage of iPads to people who had never bought an iPad before, that number is 50%. And the range goes from 50% to over 70%. And so when I look at first-time buyer rates in that area, that’s not a saturated market.”
  • “What you do see is that people hold onto their iPads longer than they do a phone. And because we’ve only been in this business four years, we don’t really know what the upgrade cycle will be for people. So that’s a difficult thing to call.”
  • “We also know that the deeper the apps go in the enterprise, the more it opens up avenues in enterprise. That’s a key part of the IBM partnership and what I think customers will get out of that.”

They’re not Nokia Lumia phones anymore, they’re Microsoft Lumia phones

theyre called microsoft lumia now

While the company bearing the name Nokia is no longer in the smartphone business, it still goes on as a maker of mapping systems and network infrastructure. The phone part of the business now belongs to Microsoft, and as one might have expected, the Nokia name will be taken off the phone division (which was bought by Microsoft), and the products are expected to be branded Microsoft, Lumia, or — if Microsoft stays true to its predilection for long names, Microsoft Lumia.

BlackBerry moves 200,000 Passports in two days, attracts Lenovo

blackberry passport 200000

Based on their reputation as the gold standard in secure mobile communications and a new marketing approach focused specifically on the “30% of the smartphone market who use their phones as a business tool, not an ‘entertainment portal’, BlackBerry have managed to move 200,000 of their new BlackBerry Passport devices in their 2-day opening sale. The large screen, large battery, and mechanical keyboard are selling points not just to those people who remember BlackBerry during their heyday, but is said to be winning over people who are keeping their iPhone and Android devices for the rest of their life but planning to use the BlackBerry to get work done.

BlackBerry’s recent wins are adding fuel to the rumors that Lenovo, who purchased Motorola from Google earlier this year, will try to acquire BlackBerry — possibly even this week.

this article also appears in the GSG blog

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Your Windows 10 joke of the day

by Joey deVilla on October 20, 2014

windows 10 - we finally fixed everything

This one’s been floating about the ‘net for the past few days, and it gave me a chuckle.

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On vacation

by Joey deVilla on October 15, 2014

smartphone vacation

I’m taking a week off work and blogging, and Global Nerdy will be back to regular articles on Monday, October 20th.

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Your Satya Nadella demotivational poster of the day

by Joey deVilla on October 11, 2014

640 karma points

Don’t get the reference? It’s about a quote popularly attributed to Bill Gates.

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“I have the second toughest mobile evangelist job,” I used to say when I was a Windows Phone champ. “The toughest job…that’s Alec’s.

Anybody can promote the Android and iOS platforms to developers. Taking on the job of being the head of BlackBerry’s developer relations team in late 2011, in the era of iOS 5 and the beginnings of Android 4 called for a rock star, ninja, and Jedi master all rolled up into one person. Luckily, Alec Saunders fits that description, and for three years he worked tirelessly to bring developers to the BlackBerry platform.

Yesterday, he announced that his last day at BlackBerry/QNX would be “sometime between now and November 3″. I don’t know what his plans are, but from one tech evangelist to another, I wish him the best in whatever challenge he takes on next, and thank him for honoring the profession through his hard work, and his fearlessness in taking on a cheesy ’80s hit in a “rally the BlackBerry troops” music video. You know the one I’m talking about…

I can’t think of a more fitting way to send him a tribute than with the same song:

I’m wishing you the best of luck, Alec, but I know you’ll kick ass wherever you go.

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I was taking a trip down memory lane, flipping through an old Bloom County collection when I saw this classic strip…

just wing that mother

Click on the comic strip to see the source.

…and it occurred to me: this is how a lot of so-called “agile” software projects are run.

On second thought, make that software projects, period.

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xamarin.forms in visual studio magazine

enlightened lazinessIt’s a sign of the times when Visual Studio Magazine covers a development tool that’s neither Visual Studio nor even made by Microsoft. Lately, they’ve been giving a lot of love to Xamarin, which lets you code with C# and the .NET Framework to create native Android, iOS, MacOS, and Windows apps, with particular attention paid to Xamarin.Forms, their new cross-platform UI API that lets you target Android, iOS, and Windows Phone with a single code base.

With Xamarin.Forms, you build mobile UIs using an API that abstracts away each mobile OS’s particular features as far as the developer is concerned. When you create a Button in Xamarin forms, it becomes an Android Button instance on Android devices and a UIButton view on iOS devices. I’ve been noodling with Xamarin.Forms for the past few weeks and it looks like it’s the tool I’ll use to build sales, marketing, and training apps for partner organizations of GSG, the company I work for.

Why use Xamarin.Forms?

In their article, Simplifying Cross-Platform Mobile App Development with Xamarin.Forms, Visual Studio Magazine’s Wallace McClure suggests that you ask these questions when considering adopting Xamarin.Forms as your development platform:

  • What type of expertise do you currently have? A company that has invested heavily in C# and the Microsoft .NET Framework would have a significant burden taking on Objective-C for iOS and Java for Android.
  • How much do you want to invest for the application you’re developing? Web applications tend to be lower cost to get started. As customers ask for more features, the cost to continually add platform-specific features tends to cost more money than merely adding features to a platform-specific application. Will the application fit within a Web application forever, or will end users ask for features that will result in a dead-end Web interface? What happens when an application needs to use the image processing capabilities in iOS? Will the time, effort, and money spent building a Web application end up being a sunk cost?
  • What’s your end-customer expectation? End customers want apps that look like all of the other apps with which they work. Giving iOS users an application that looks like some generic platform (think jQuery Mobile default themes) results in some strange looks from those users. While they won’t hate the application, they won’t love the application as much as if they’d been presented with a platform-looking application.
  • Increasing the productivity of end users tends to be much more valuable than increasing the productivity of developers. End users outnumber developers by many times. I have a client with approximately 3,000 end users using an application I’ve written. A simple 5 percent increase in end-user productivity would greatly offset a 50 percent increase in developer productivity gained by using a cross-platform framework.

Xamarin.Forms in action

The article also features a sample app, which takes JSON data from a remote source via .NET’s HttpClient and displays it in list form as shown below:

xamarin data binding example

It’s worth noting that they don’t show a Windows Phone screenshot — just Android and iOS. You can download the code here.

What do developers make of Xamarin.Forms?

Another Visual Studio Magazine article, Xamarin.Forms: What Developers Make of It, has McClure talking to developers who participated in the Xamarin.Forms beta program as well as Xamarin evangelist Craig Dunn. Some quotes:

  • I really like Xamarin.Forms for creating simple and complex UIs for cross-platform (mobile) apps. I’m currently working on a video catalog app for a local telco, which I’ll be building the app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. The user will scroll through a list of categories and TV shows and pick a video to watch on the handset. The data (menu structure) comes from a JSON feed and is perfect for Xamarin.Forms. Instead of creating a separate UI for each platform I can use one code base to cover all three platforms. I’m very excited about that.”
  • One of the most useful things in XAML is the DataBinding platform and this saves a lot of time in tracking properties and changes. Now it’s in Xamarin via XF [Xamarin.Forms]. Also, you can now separate your UI code from your business/logic code and have a clearer separation of concerns.”
  • The main benefit is that if you have a .NET background or know how to write C# code or F# and want to start building mobile apps, you can start immediately with Xamarin. You won’t need to learn a new programming language, and you can reuse all of your .NET skills building mobile apps. At the same time you are saving precious time by reusing your business logic between platforms, and even your UI if you are using Xamarin.Forms. You should use Xamarin.Forms if your main goal is to develop for all three platforms and share some UI between them.”
  • “The project has great traction because Xamarin.Forms is being widely adopted by many developers. We have around 10 contributors, almost 350 commits and we have NuGet packages with around 600 downloads — all this in less than two months of Xamarin.Forms being publicly available.”

Xamarin Test Cloud

xamarin test cloud

Xamarin isn’t just doing their part for cross-platform coding, but cross-platform testing as well, with Xamarin Test Cloud. Xamarin Test Cloud lets you test your apps on thousands on devices with your having to acquire them all. According to the Visual Studio Magazine article Xamarin Test Cloud Now Available:

Xamarin Test Cloud can provide simulated testing environments for more than 1,000 devices, from desktops to mobile devices and includes the various OS versions on a number of platforms.

Xamarin Test Cloud can be used to automate testing of apps through its Calabash cross-platform test automation framework whether developers are working in any C# or Ruby supported tool suite, and can report back on memory and CPU usage performance and test durations. Automated testing can be integrated into Team Foundation Server and other continuous integrations systems like Jenkins and TeamCity.

Xamarin Test Cloud is able to gain access and collect diagnostics information from device logs, stack traces and through hardware data to generate performance reports for more accuracy.

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