Tag: App Development Startup

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

facebook-poke

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?

fingerprint-scanning_iphone

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?

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.

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.

 

Why Window’s failings may be Google’s winnings

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Google have always been ones to slip into any market that looks like its got some wiggle room. They did it with mobile, they did it with browsers, they’re doing it with wearable tech, and they’re also doing it in the PC market. That self same PC market that has been on the blink for years, shrinking and slowly spiralling down as Microsoft see their profits and margins go with it.

The result of this has of course been that Windows OEMs are getting twitchy. Acer has been seeing dropping profits recently, their Windows 8 tablets and computers really not doing well at all. So how can OEMs like Acer recover their loses?

Well, if Google has anything to say about it, it’ll be through Chromebook and Android.

Already Acer make the C7 Chromebook that sells for $199, riding on the back of the netbooks of old. Running Chrome OS, these Chromebooks aren’t the biggest players in the PC market by far, but they’re a strong indication of where things are headed. Acer are predicted to have some 12% of their revenue come from either Android or Chrome based devices by the end of the year, and Chromebooks alone are looking to be 3% of their sales. A small number perhaps, but when you take into account that these Chromebooks are essentially running experimental software and are largely cloud based in their storage, it’s quite an impressive number in such an entrenched market.

Windows 8 and especially Windows RT seem to be increasing the rate of the market move away from PC. ASUS have come right out and said that RT is killing their windows tablet sales, whereas the Nexus 7 is doing rather well for itself in comparison. If this becomes a trend, where Windows won’t sell but Android and Chrome will, Microsoft will be likely to see Mountain View take more and more of their customers.

Google have been very savvy in how they are managing their move into the PC market; by using OS that can all talk to each other across multiple different devices, we could easily see the day where your phone, tablet and laptop all sport the same OS and even the same homescreens as Google creates the “One account to rule them all” style mindset.

2013 has so far been the year of Android and Google, and as we approach fall, we can only wait and see if Apple can bring the magic and capture us all back from the little green robot.

 

Is technology making us less human?

cyborg

As you’re reading this, where are you? In front of a computer probably, or maybe on your mobile device. Are you alone? Or at least, are you currently not talking to your fellow workers? Perhaps you’re at home on your own, or maybe on public transport, are you also talking to your fellow passengers? Probably not.

There is now a very real condition called “Digital Dementia” that is starting to appear in hyper connected countries like Korea where young people are suffering a deterioration of cognitive abilities more associated with brain damaged or dementia patients. They can’t remember simple everyday details like their phone numbers because they are so reliant on technology and the internet to do it for them. Now at the same time, the research behind this is perhaps sketchy, but if you think about it, you know that feeling. Things you’d force yourself to learn and to recall you no longer bother because, why should you? One quick Google search will give you answer in seconds.

We all know, underneath, that creeping buzz of technology in our minds. It’s always there, it’s always around us, and it’s possibly making us less human, or so it seems. Our interactions with our fellow humans have definitely become more stunted in some ways, messaging technology makes it very easy to talk to people without ever actually seeing them. There are even tech detox camps that force you to get away from the internet and your technology.

But on the other side, technology is allowing us to connect to people we would otherwise never meet, it has sparked world changing debate, and we know that our friends and family are only just a message away.

And at Kumulos, we think that as much as it can occasionally seem detrimental, our technology is helping us become better than ever. App developers are key to this, and Kumulos want to help app developers make the best app they can.

The trouble with internet journalism

journalism

Internet journalism. It’s pretty big business these days, everyone’s doing it. Hell, we’re doing it right now. It’s come to the point where the scales have definitely tipped away from print being the bastion of journalistic power, and this is especially true in the tech world. If a company wants to get its product out there and heard of thee days, they know that they have to get in with the tech journalists. If they blogs are saying good things, we’re all more likely to consider the product on offer.

This is where sponsored blog posts come from, companies offering cash for blogs to look at their products. Now, there’s a difference between a sponsored post and a paid review. Sponsored reviews and posts are the company offering the blog money in return for their opinion on the product, regardless of whether they say it’s any good or not. That’s the risk the company takes, that the blog may take their money and then end up not liking what they’re reviewing. The paid review on the other hand, is more of the slip the cash under the table and get a good review regardless of whether the product is any good.

The line between the two is hazy at best, and even then, some are of the opinion sponsored content is akin to paid review, some think they are separate entities.

The article, posted yesterday, details an email he received from LG:

“So enjoy this, LG. The G2 is now tainted and will probably sink. I’m no crusader nor am I innocent of past crimes but this is terrible form.

Hi TechCrunch team,

This is REDACTED from Burson Marsteller Korea and we currently represent LG Mobile as its PR agency, handling the global PR for LG Mobile.

I’d like to inquire possible options on media tie-up opportunities with TechCrunch as LG is launching its new smartphone, the LG G2 in August.

To briefly explain, what kind of topics we are looking to put out:

1. Overall product review on the LG G2 (Display, Design, UX, etc): This can be a series of feature articles

2. In-depth review on a specific feature of the phone (For example – Battery or Display)

3. Product review of the LG G2 in comparison with competitor’s products: 1:1 comparison or 1 against many, including a torching test

It would be great if you can propose the types of sponsored packages as well as a rough pricing information on them.

Please let us know if you have any questions!

Thanks,

REDACTED

REDACTED

Senior Associate”

The comments section on the article is, predictably, riven somewhere down the middle, but the whole thing just brings to light a certain trouble with internet journalism. It’s such an open forum, and now has so much real power over the zeitgeist, that it’s becoming difficult to work out where the hack journalism stops and the real journalism begins. Like we said, everyone and their dog is blogging these days, the internet is awash with usually well written, but unidentifiably researched articles.

The question remains, we all know that companies want coverage, and are willing to pay for it, so where is the line? If an article is clearly labeled “sponsored” is it still a “paid review”? Is the writer of the above mentioned article practicing his own form of internet policing, or is he actually breaking his own journalistic integrity because he’s posting what are probably assumed to be private emails in public to name and shame the company he feels has done things wrong?

It’s tricky, but at Kumulos we’re going to have to come down on LG’s side. Asking for content for your new product, paid, is not wrong. It smacks a little of wanting a cheap ad, which is essentially what a review is, but there doesn’t seem to be anything in that e-mail that stipulates that the writer do any more than they normally do with new products anyway.

The big irony here is of course, if TC want to be current, they’re going to post a review of the new LG phone anyway.

Moto X, a second opinion

MotoX

We talked last week about the new Moto X. This is Motorola’s entry into the high end smartphone market, the Big One. The new contender that we all hoped would shake everything up. But looking at the specs, looking at the questionable release schedule and the very gimmicky customisation options, we’re left with an overall feeling of “Meh”.

The Moto X looks like it’ll be a decent phone, it does, but it’s a phone that arrived about 6 months too late. In the Android world, the S4 and the HTC One are great examples of what high end Android smartphones can be if the manufacturers put their minds to it. They have ridiculously fast computational power (for phones), slick interfaces, more features than you can shake a stick at and the One also has incredibly high construction standards.

In comparison, the X only has mediocre specs, some mostly inconsequential visual customisation and a set of sensors that are cool, but an always on mic during the ongoing PRISM and NSA spying debacle is probably not what people want in a phone.

It’s doubly disappointing that this phone came out of a manufacturer that is, essentially, under the flag of Google; who gave us the continually excellent Nexus line of hardware. The Nexi balance specs, build quality and price to make for almost irresistible offers if you’re an Android user. But Motorola don’t seem to be following the same path. Instead they’ve given us a middling to high end phone with gimmicky customisation and a price tag that rivals the One’s, except with none of the benefits that the HTC brings.

The fact that Motorola seem to be trying a different strategy than “Make it faster and give it a bigger screen!” which has been the high tier Android race to the top for the past few years, is interesting and admirable; but they just didn’t bring the goods with the hardware. They are rumoured to be bringing out a budget handset next, but budget isn’t how you make it big in the current mobile hardware business; Apple has proven that. Unless this is all some kind of bait and switch game, we’re going to call it and say that Motorola have missed the boat.

It’s sad really, after years of being silent, we all hoped that the original mobile phone maker could come up with something more, but legacy does not equal success.