Tag: Android Mobile Backend

The top five tips for recruiting app developers

Congratulations! Through hard work and too many all-nighters, you and your small app development team have managed to start turning a real profit. You can see your small company already rising through the ranks of competitors – and then someone tells you that you need to expand your team if you want to keep rising. In order to deliver your next project, you’re going to need to start recruiting app developersto get things done on time. Remember it’s only natural that as your app development business income grows, so too will your costs and hopefully you’re retainable profit.

It’s one thing starting out with friends when you start out after university. But when it comes to the real world and developing apps for paying customers, it becomes less about camaraderie and more to do with cold, hard execution. You’re going to need people you can trust, people who are hardworking, dedicated to the cause, highly motivated, creative and have the ability to do the job you need. Chances are if you’re a small app development studio, you’re not going to have a huge amount of time for training. In actual fact, spending your time trying to teach noobs app development can be counter-productive, if it’s keeping you from doing the important stuff in the business. You need people you can trust to do the job and learn the ropes quickly.

Nobody will tell you when it’s time to scale up and add more staff. This is something you need to work out for yourself and you have to be able to judge the warning signs. Similarly, you have to be able to judge if the person you’ve hired is a winner or a turkey. Again, you have to do this quickly before said individual is capable of doing more harm than good.

Well, having gone through the growing pains of being a small start-up ourselves, Kumulos  thought we could lay out just why recruitment is so important, and a few tips on how to nab yourself that next app dev superstar.

Why recruit?

It seems like a question with an obvious answer, but when looked at a little closer it’s a bit more complicated than just expansion. If your project is late, over budget or your customer is screaming down the phone for answers, chances are you’re under-resourced and under-delivering. You should plan your recruitment at the start of any project. You need to develop a scope of work, a timeline to complete the project and make some assumptions about the resources required. This should take the form of a resource plan, and whilst they are assumptions, you need to be as accurate as possible in determining your overall resource requirements to complete the project. Take the project as a whole and subdivide the overall scope into a series of manageable milestones and delivery dates. This will help to inform your timeline for completion. You can then work out based on your current level of resource who can do what and identify any potential gaps in the project team. Where there are gaps, you have to fill them and there are a number of ways you can do this.

If you’re a small app dev team, it’s likely that you’ll have had the same team for a while. You’ll have worked on a couple of projects together and there will be a real “gang-hut” mentality going on. You know each other’s working habits, strengths and weaknesses and probably also what happens when everyone has too much to drink. The idea of bringing someone in, regardless of whether you actually need them or not, can feel like adopting a stranger into a family; that they’ll somehow disrupt your gang’s dynamic and work flow.

The first thing that you need to do is shake this mindset completely. If you follow our tips and find a great dev to add to the team, all you’re going to get is a bigger and better gang than before. On a business and project level, if your team is lacking a certain set of programming skills, or they’re just too stretched to take on any more work, having another person, or people, around to plug those gaps makes sense.

Also on the business side, as we said before, the base answer for recruiting is usually to expand. Maybe you want to develop two apps side by side, or you’re starting to take commissions from clients. Either way, you’re team is just not big enough to keep all those plates spinning, and you’ll need more people to spin more plates.

Whatever the reason for recruiting, the most important thing to bear in mind that you should always be trying to find the absolute best person that you can find for the job. Ideally that means you want someone who knows their stuff, has experience working within the app industry and will also fit right in with your team. By finding someone like this, you can only improve your development work, and by extension, your profits.

So how do you go about finding that “superstar”?

1. Know what you’re looking for and what you want out of them

It’s always better to be prepared, and with developer recruitment it’s no different. Take some time before you start to advertise the position to work out exactly what their job will entail. On the surface you’re looking for an app developer yes, but do your apps frequently need knowledge of other programming areas? What about your general work environment? If you’re a small developer you and your team may be “doing a bit of everything” and always able to jump into someone else’s work, so also take into account flexibility and ability to learn new things.

As Joel Spolnsky over at joelonsoftware.com says, ultimately you’re looking for someone who
“[is] Smart, and gets things done.”

So always bear that in mind before you start your search. You are looking for a good app developer who is going to fit into your workplace. That means that you have to be willing to go the extra mile, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

2. Know where to look for developers

This is a mistake many businesses make, even large and established ones. Instead of targeting their job adverts for developers to places good developers will see it, they put it up on places like Craigslist and then wonder why they are inundated with CVs from people who don’t even know what an app development kit is, let alone what to do with it.

As a small developer, or even if you’re larger, you don’t want to be trawling through hundreds of CVs to find the diamond in the rough. It’s a waste of your time and it’s definitely not the most efficient way to go about finding your developer.

Instead target places that app developers are going to be. Attend app development and technology conventions, especially if they’re related to the kind of apps or technology you’re working with. The devs that are attending there are much more likely to already know about and be familiar with a similar environment that you’re working with.

When San Francisco based Getaround was first getting off the ground, co-founders Sam Zaid and Jessica Scorpio found their superstar developer at a convention and never looked back. Never underestimate the power aggressive networking in the correct environment.

Outside of that, and for more general job advert placement, ask yourself, if you as an app developer were looking for work, where would you go? Would you go to websites like Monster where every add has a thousand applicants? Or would you look for something more specific? Go to websites and forums where app developers come together to talk shop, target tech specific job boards and make sure to advertise clearly on your own website as well.

3. Whittle it down

Even when you’ve found a group of potential hires, you know that you only have room for one. So it’s time to start cutting away people from the total.

Obviously, this depends entirely on how you’ve gone about your recruitment and how you have arrived with your potential candidates. If, like GetAround, you’ve found a group of developers at a convention, continuing to follow their example is not a bad idea. Zaid and Scorpio used a series of 2 minute interviews to cut the initial numbers down, and then with their final choices they presented them with an unpaid “prototyping” challenge which essentially asked the app developers to create a mock-up of their app-in-the-making. In the end they settled on one dev who’s results they liked so much they made them technological director.

The same finalisation process of presenting your applicants with an app development challenge can be used in more traditional settings, but first you’re going to have to get through the initial stages.

If you have a mountain of CVs, you’re going to have to get really harsh with your elimination process. First, and easiest, get rid of anyone with no programming and especially no app development background (there will be more of these than you’d think possible). Next up it starts to become more of a personal game, but targeting things like good English makes sense. If someone has barely understandable English on their CV, what makes you think that their ability to communicate effectively with you and your team is going to be any better? The same can be said of untidy and terribly formatted CVs, it shows laziness and a disorganised mind, two things you don’t want to bring to your team.

Every business goes about sorting CVs slightly differently, but if you keeping bearing in mind exactly what you want from your potential hire then you’ll likely find it easier than you think. Always remember, if you’re not sure, it’s safer to decide to put a CV in the “no” pile. All you’re doing is saving yourself time later.

As for interviews, again it comes down to what exactly it is that you’re looking for from your new team member, and there are whole series of books written on interview techniques, so we won’t go too in depth here. It helps if you have a plan of how you’re going to interview someone before you start, and it’s even better if you tailor it to their CV. Being able to ask a developer about their background is a quick way to gauge whether they are engaged and interested in app development, which is a good sign. No one wants to work with a passionless developer.

4. Remember to make your job the best job

This is something that, again, many businesses fail on. As you’re the one who’s put up the ad, you feel like you are the one who can make all the demands. But remember, a good app developer is always going to be in demand, and they’re likely to know it. That’s not to say that they’ll be making outrageous demands (although some may well do that), it’s just to remind you that the best talent, the ones that you want for your team, are likely to have a few offers waiting for them. So make sure to sell your app studio, your team, your apps and your vision for the future to them. Let them see that you are just as passionate about this work as they are and that if they work for you, they’ll be working with people who they share common ground with and can respect.
It’s no guarantee, but it certainly helps when you’re fishing for the best talent, which is exactly what you should be doing.

5. Knowing the ropes

Ultimately, recruitment is an art in and of itself. Large companies have entire departments dedicated to it, or even outsource the job to agencies who’s only goal is to find the best and brightest talent. There are libraries of books written about it, and yet plenty of businesses still don’t manage to find the people they are looking for.

When you’re looking for your next superstar, always remember that ultimately, this person is going to become part of your development family; and if you want them and your current family to be happy, it’s always better to take your time and make sure you’ve got just the right person for the job.

The Unstoppable Rise of Backend as a Service (BaaS)

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For any of you skeptics doubting the commercial feasibility of Backend as a Service (BaaS), you should check out Facebook’s acquisition of Parse for a rumoured $85 million (And then the subsequent fallout in 2017). The acquisition enables Facebook to provide their own proprietary backend solution for app and game developers. The integration between Facebook and Parse will enable the social networking company to provide a superior user experience through enhanced responsiveness and reduced latency.

Parse has been described as BaaS (backend as a service) and XaaS (everything as a service). If you’re an app developer, this means you can focus on the front-end design and development of your apps and games, without having to worry about setting up a server. This can enable app developers to manage messages between users, push notifications and storage of apps and games.

Kumulos is neatly listed as a BaaS provider on both Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backend_as_a_service) and the Developer Economics website (http://www.developereconomics.com/sector/baas/). These various BaaS platforms have been emerging now for nearly 7 years and here at Kumulos we’re proud to say we were one of the first. Kumulos was actually launched before the term ‘backend as a service’ had ever been created.

Find out more about mBaaS and Kumulos here.

Pavlov Poke: The painful way to wean yourself off Facebook

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Are you a Facebook addict? If you’re online, it’s at least probable that you check it once a day, probably more like multiple times a day. Do you even know how much time you waste on it? Probably not, but it’s a good bet that it’s way more than you think, or would be comfortable with. Afterall, just exactly what are you doing there? Unless you’re actively talking to someone, is not the case that you’re essentially people watching, but online, on your own?

 This video is food for thought.

Anyways, two P.H.D.s at MIT tallied up how many hours a week between them they were wasting on FB a week. Turns out, a lot. How much is a lot? 50 hours. 25 hours hours a week they were wasting each. That’s a part time job right there, just on Facebook. They realise they had to do something, but what?

Well that’s where the Pavlov Poke comes in.

They hooked up a metal plate to their keyboards that, every time they went on Facebook, would give them a painful (but not dangerous) electric shock. It’s essentially aversion therapy 101, and it’s a hilarious way to go about trying to aid your productivity. We all could probably use that for our own keyboards; even if we’re not Facebook users. We’ve all got our little vices online, websites that we sink hours into because they give us our daily hits of information. Imagine how much more we could get done if we weren’t always alt-tabbing out of whatever we’re supposed to be doing in order to watch stupid videos of animals failing or to follow a link train and end up reading up about how Taylor Swift only wants to be in a relationship to get new material to write about (seriously, this happened and that is true, look it up).

A little aversion therapy may go some way to curing us of our crippling need to read that one little bit more information. Or just make our offices really funny.

Whatever the case, Kumulos is here to provide you with a non-addictive but oh-so-useful Mobile Backend as a Service to cure your app development woes. So get in touch today, if you can tear yourself away from Facebook long enough that is.

 

iPhone 5S’ fingerprint scanner; real or no?

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We talked yesterday about the iPhone 5C and how, despite being the “ugly sister” of the 5S, it’s the one getting all the attention, mainly cause it’s new. Apple have never done budget before, so we’re all curious to see what it can do with the 5C.

Having said that though, we do still have the 5s on the way, and from what scant details we’ve had, there is highly likely to be a dual LED flash there, as well as; potentially, a fingerprint scanner. Now we’ve been hearing about fingerprint scanning tech in smartphones for years. The way we interact with them it seems almost like a done deal to the imagination.

We’re always putting our fingers on the screens, we don’t need to let anyone else use our phones so we don’t need multiple user accounts and also, it’s some mission impossible style stuff. Having a biometric lock, or using biometrics in general is something that makes perfect sense in a smartphone. Google are already doing it with Face Unlock (not that it works very well, but the sentiment is there) and the Moto X has its “always listening” voice activation.

Apple have always been trend setters and disruptors. If they release a phone with fingerprint scanning tech, it will only be a matter of time before the major Android manufacturers are out in force doing the same thing. Although there is even a rumour that the 5s may even sport NFC, despite Jobs having said that he didn’t see any point in the technology (yeah, cause Apple have been doing a great job of listening to those mantras).

As always, the “s” models of the iPhone are only a stepped upgrade rather than a leap and a bound, but we hope that fingerprint scanning tech isn’t the only thing the 5s brings to the table. After a fairly stale 5 launch and nothing exciting all year, Apple needs something to knock it out of the park. So now all eyes turn to Sept. 10th. We shall see what Apple brings to the fore.

Until then, if you’re an iOS app developer that wants to grab the new 5s excitement but need a Mobile Backend, talk to us at Kumulos. We’ve got you covered with a Mobile Backend as a Service that’s powerful, customisable and there for you in whatever form you need it to be. So why not talk to us today?

The iPhone 5C, Apple’s salvation or poison?

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The rumour mill has been turning in overdrive since Apple’s announced September 10th 2013 conference date. We all speculating exactly what Cupertino are going to bring to the table after what feels like a long hiatus.

The 5C has had a lot of attention in the leaks circuit. Photos are cropping up daily, but we’ve not had an official yay or nay from Apple (not that’d we expect one, honestly).

The question, and we’ve looked at this a little bit before, is just what the 5C is going to do for Apple upon its release.

Apple is built on a premium branding, it’s whole design ethos is aesthetics, user experience and quality based. Releasing a budget handset seems like a step in the wrong direction when you take all that into account. It seems like it will cheapen the brand, add that plasticy tinge to an otherwise shiny metallic logo.

But then, the 5C isn’t for the premium crowd to begin with.

It’s for the emerging markets in India and China, and it’s for those of us who like our SIM only packages and aren’t as fussed as to whether we have the latest and greatest piece of hardware. After all, and it’s sometimes hard to believe when your daily existence is to keep yourself up to date with the cutting edge, but not everyone wants to be running a 2 month old handset that can run half the stock market on its own. A good majority of customers just want a handset that’s capable, reliable and of good quality; and the 5C will likely provide all that in spades.

It also makes business sense for Apple because their only budget offerings right now are the 4 and 4S, and they’re still being manufactured with aluminium and glass, which is expensive. The margins are low on these handsets now, and their 3.5inch form factor just doesn’t really cut it these days. The 5C will have the same size and shape as the 5 but will be much cheaper for Apple to produce.

When thought of that way, it looks like we could be onto a winner. What it may also do is inspire a whole new range of iOS app opportunities as those who couldn’t afford an iPhone before now suddenly have one in their grasp.

Whatever the case, Kumulos will be here to support your app development project from its initial conception all the way through to its launch and beyond. Our Mobile Backend as a Service is designed by app developers, for app developers. So why not contact us today?

 

Amazon.com goes down as well, not to be alarmist but…

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Almost seems like there’s a pattern here doesn’t there?

In the last week; Facebook’s ban bot went mental and kicked a whole bunch of users, Google went down for a few minutes and took 40% of the internet with it, and finally Amazon.com went down for half an hour yesterday, dragging the Canadian site down with it.

Then there’s the fact that the NYT went down, and CNN and the Washington Post were hacked.

All these big bastions of the internet seems to be dropping like flies right now, and although paranoia is what the internet does best, it seems interesting to the casually observant eye that all of these big services have suffered glitches so close together.

“It’s very unusual to see such a number of high-profile websites all suffering peak-time outages within the course of a few days of each other,” said Chris Green, principal technology analyst at the Davies Murphy Group consultancy.

“People are going to be very interested to know exactly what the reasons were for the incidents that are still unexplained because the implications are huge: we’ve seen everything from users being unable to see their email to visitors and third-party retailers who use Amazon’s marketplace being unable to buy and sell goods – all happening seemingly with no warning.”

(source: BBC news)

So what are the explanations?

Hacking groups getting uppity? China or Iranian military trying to steal some more data? Could it be Skynet flexing its online muscles for the coming apocalypse?

Let’s hope it’s not the latter.

What’s interesting is that there’s been no press release from the major companies stating the causes of these faults. We shall have to see.

Until we find out, you can rely on Kumulos’s Mobile Backend as a Service to be reliable, and not associated with any apocalyptic machines. Promise. So why not get in touch?

So, Google apparently owns 40% of the internet

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On Saturday here at Kumulos we noticed Google’s services simultaneously dropped and took roughly 40% of worldwide internet traffic with them. They were only down for a few minutes, but in that time many internet users world’s stopped altogether.

Can we all just take a step back here and think about the mind boggling implication of that statistic?

FORTY percent?

In the internet world owning more than about 10% of anything is considered a win; so Google going down for a couple of minutes hamstringing more than a third of global traffic is downright disturbing. It shows just how much Mountain View’s services have managed to integrate themselves into our lives. Think for a moment, if ALL of Google’s services went away, just how many things would you lose that you use daily? Your email, free cloud storage of files and music, search, most of what makes Android worth using and of course Youtube. And that’s just the most used parts of Google’s cake, there’s so much more there.

Should we be worried that one company has managed to so heavily embed itself in our online lives that Google is now somewhat synonymous with the internet as a general thing?

But then, that’s where the internet is going these days isn’t it?

Civilisation is starting to catch up to the lawless frontiers of old, the small towns like Google and Facebook are now sprawling mega-cities. This is the age of the “stack” where most of the internet is controlled by a few massive, vertically integrated corporations. Amazon, Google, Facebook, they all do the same thing. They want our money, they want our loyalty and they want our data and in return we get our lives entirely catered for online.

Should we be worried? Perhaps, but what’s the other option? Cobble together our services from smaller, specialised companies who don’t talk to each other and have no way of integrating? Sorry, but tabbed Google services beat that headache any day.

And speaking of headache solving services, Kumulos’ Mobile Backend as a Service is meant to do just that. It’s our own problem solver to keep your app development world ticking over smoothly, so why not talk to us today?

Unbuntu Edge crowdfunding breaks record, but that won’t save it

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At Kumulos, reported a little while ago about the Ubuntu Edge, the Linux powered smartphone that, if it gets funding, will be easily the most powerful phone on the market for a good while. The company behind it, Canonical (which also created the Ubuntu Mobile OS), started a crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo, to the somewhat absurd tune of $32 million.

There was a lot of skepticism surrounding the crowdfunding project, and understandably. $32 million is 3 times the highest crowdfunding record ever recorded by Pebble on Kickstarter of $10 million. But the makers of the edge continued undaunted and now, they have officially broken the crowdfunding record set by Pebble, pulling in over $10 million.

However, with only a week to go, it seems increasingly unlikely that anyone is going to see their Edge.

This is quite a sad case of too much hope being put in the generosity of strangers, but also an interesting study of where the potential limits of crowdfunding lie. With Pebble and now the Edge topping out at around 10 Million, is it a sign that crowdfunding can only potentially take you perhaps as far as say, $15 million before people’s interest wanes. We all only have so much money after all.

What has been said to Canonical is that they should have been seeking more traditional funding as well, VC, Angel Investors and the likes; which makes sense. These rounds of funding can push a project’s budget up immensely in a short space of time.

This isn’t to say that Canonical have had no interest, they’ve been in talks with large manufacturers and have been praised for going straight to the buyers to find the project; as they are the ones who will ultimately be the users.

With a week left to go, it will be interesting to see if Canonical can pull something out the bag that pushes their successful, but not successful enough campaign over the edge (pun intended).

For now though, we’ll just have to see if the all powerful dual boot Android/Ubuntu monster phone see the light of day. Until that time, if you’re an app developer looking for a Mobile Backend as a Service, we at Kumulos have got you covered with a powerful, customisable Mobile Backed as a Service that’s designed to let you the user, get exactly what you want from it.

So why not get in touch today?

UPDATE 2017: If you stumbled on this article and want to know a little more about the whole Ubuntu Edge episode, here’s the Wikipedia page.

The future of Apple, is it really that uncertain?

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There’s been a lot of speculation in recent days about the future of Apple. They have been quiet essentially all year, with the biggest update to any of their products being the the MacBook Pro. Not that that was any slouch, the jet-engine looking computer promising to be a mid-range server instead of a computer in terms of power.

And it’s not like they haven’t got things in the pipeline, the iPhone 5s is almost certainly coming, and the budget iPhone has been heavily rumoured to be in the works; oh and there’s probably some kind of iPad update coming too. So lots of stuff on the horizon, but it’s being met with an overwhelming “meh”.

Don’t get us wrong, there will still be people lined up around the block to get their latest iCrack; a good number of us at Kumulos will be right there with them. Apple isn’t one of the biggest companies in the world for no reason after all. The trouble is that we all want more.

And that “we” happens to include the company’s board of directors, who are getting increasingly antsy with Tim Cook, claiming that the company isn’t “innovating fast enough”. Aside from the somewhat questionable untone that innovation is somehow something you can just control the pace of rather than something that comes in unpredictable fits and starts, there’s also the issue of whether Apple is really doing badly.

The answer is no.

Of course it is, they have more money than half of the developing world. Even if they start to bleed money for a couple of years whilst they look for that next big thing; they’ll still be doing better than Microsoft or Google in terms of pure profit. And if money is the goal, then why is everyone worried?

The unlying issue here is of course, that Apple showed absurd growth during the end of the 00s and they kept doing it for years. Whereas most company growth is only in spurts, Apple kept a consistent push going all the way through from the release of the iPhone to around Jobs’ death. And now they’re still growing, but they’re not growing fast enough. Wall St wants them to be pushing that 80% growth mark still, but since when has any company ever managed to do that? The answer is not one (that we know of at least).

Like an athelete who, due to a perfect storm of events, sets a near unbeatable record during one Olympics, Apple have raised the bar so high that they themselves can’t measure up in the long run. But that doesn’t mean they’re doomed, just returning to a more sustainable pattern of growth. Sure, it’s anti-climactic and a little disappointed, but what do you want? A flash in the pan, or a slow burn that lasts as long as you want it to?

You’re doing it wrong LG

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Marketing is tricky, we all get that. In this all connected world, where we know what everyone is doing, all the time, it’s difficult to stand out from the crowd. Which is why companies are turning to more and more… interesting ways to put their product out there. So, in that vein, LG decided the best way to attract attention was to tie 100 vouchers for a free, brand new, G2 to helium balloons and then tell people when and where they were releasing them.

The results were, in a word, predictable.

The crowds turned up with BB guns, knives tied to sticks and essentially any kind of weapon that was likely to bring down a balloon; and then they surged when the balloons were released resulting in 20 people being injured. LG have offered to cover all the medical bills of those injured and that they take “full responsibility” and that other events have been called off for “safety concerns”

You can see the reasoning behind LG’s idea. Get people hyped up about getting a new smartphone, and then gamify it so people don’t get all sore (no pun intended) when they don’t get the phone. But really, someone somewhere should have probably been able to predict that telling people they can get a £600 smartphone for free if they bring down a balloon with a voucher attached would result in a situation like this.

Of course, this event puts LG front and centre in the public eye, but it doesn’t paint LG in the best light. This is the really tricky thing about good marketing, attracting attention is not that difficult, but you want it to be the right kind of attention. The Russian tampon advert was good because it had a sense of humour, was edgy and turned heads. The Marmite ad linked earlier has got a lot of negative reactions from people claiming it to be trivialising the plight of real animal abuse cases and the people who deal with them and despite 400,000 views, has had no appreciable increase in sales.

LG will go home and lick their wounds and their next publicity stunt will probably be quite safe and tame, but it will be interesting to see what the ultimate fallout from this event will be for them.

Luckily, Kumulos won’t be asking you to chase balloons through the streets; we just offer a solid Mobile Backend as a Service that promises to make your app development life that much easier.