Tag: Cloud backend

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.

 

Tablets will outsell PCs by this time next year

Best_tablets

There’s no real secret about the state of the PC market these days. Gartner has found that the market has contracted by 14% for the last 5 years and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down or stopping. Sure they’re still the biggest selling types of tech, but it’s all relative. PC has had some 10 years head start on the Mobile market.

Having said that, the tablet market has been advancing at a fair clip over the last few years, and when looking at the trends, by Q2 next year tablets will be outselling PCs.

UPDATE 2017: In an interesting twist since this article was written, tablet sales began dropping as younger users preferred to use laptops for their computing needs.

The numbers behind this certainly support this view. In Q2 2012 tablets were selling 36.1 million, this year Q2 they sold 51.7 million units. That’s a jump of almost 20 million more units sold in only a year. In comparison, last estimates of PC sales put it at around 75-76 million units. If we assume that tablets will continue growing at the same rate as they have been and that PC shrinks as it has been, we could easily see tablet sales surpassing the home computer for the first time.

So what does this mean? Well that we’re probably looking at reaching the “post-PC” area sooner than we had predicted. But are we really surprised?

This has been coming for a while, essentially ever since the iPhone came along and proved that the world had been crying out for something new and different. Mobile is so successful because most people don’t need or want the sheer power and complexity that a full on PC offers. Most just want a device that they can watch videos on, play simple games, browse the internet and keep tabs on their various e-social circles. Tablets allow consumers to do that with the added benefit of a screen that doesn’t require you to squint so much when watching something small or reading something.

In comparison, PCs are likely to become a more and more niche market, but it’s highly unlikely they will ever properly disappear. Despite the huge advances in mobile power capability, if you want to do something that requires real computational power, or if you want to do any real work, the PC is still where it’s at.

It will be interesting to see where the PC and Mobile markets go after their respective sales lines cross over. Will we see new form factor tablets arriving hoping to coax the working PC users away? Will PCs continue their march into all-in-one form factors with touchscreens?

Whatever the case, this is a great time to be involved in the mobile market, and as an app developer, there’s no better time than now to be thinking about making an app for tablets. So if you’re an app developer looking to make an app for tablets, regardless of the OS, Kumulos have you covered with our Mobile backend as a Service that we can promise will make creating a Mobile Backend for your app the easiest thing you’ve done since dreaming up that app idea.

Fake Hacking – The new viral marketing trend

hacker

It seems like we can’t go a week without there being another story about how some big company has been hacked. Either they’ve lost thousands of users’ data, had their website defaced or they occasionally lose control of their social media, especially Twitter. It just goes to show that none of us are safe and that even big companies can’t keep themselves from being hacked.

Even from themselves, apparently.

Last Friday Chipotle’s Twitter account put up some strange tweets, including what looked like a password for something. Obviously this was a hack ongoing and they were spilling some of Chipotle’s secrets, right? Well… not really. Turns out the hackers were… Chipotle.

Yes, this was a fake-hack. A coldly planned pr stunt designed to get people talking about the fast food Mexican chain like they do about so many other hacks. It would seem that standard internet and viral marketing just isn’t holding the same kick that it once did.

Is this where things are going? Really?

Companies are now thinking that the best way to attract our attention is to pretend that some evil hacking group has taken over their stuff. You have to admit though, these hacks usually get a decent amount of press attention, especially if they’re creative or of an unusual level of malice. Well, that or they grab user data like it’s heroin at a drug addict’s convention. We all want to know where the hackers are going because first, schadenfreude (otherwise known as Nelson’s “ha ha” laugh), second because wherever the hackers are right now, means that you and your business are where they’re not. Much like a couple of camera men in Africa being chased by lions, all one of them has to do to survive is not outrun the lions, just his fellow man.

It is, however, an incredibly cynical move and one that seems doomed to fail. This is the internet we’re talking about here, being pedantic, nit picky and finding out information is essentially what the hive mind does in its spare time in between watching porn (although not for much longer in the UK if glorious people’s leader of freedom Cameron gets his way) and finding increasingly effective ways to procrastinate. Of course we were going to find out this is a fake hack, why did they think this would work?

Of course, maybe it was the plan all along to be found out and then we’d all be talking about Chipotle and they’d get even MORE viral marketing because the internet is really good at sharing outrage…

Surely not right?

 

Self-Driving cars, the future is right around the corner

self driving car

Watch any decent cyberpunk sci-fi and there’s a consistent but perhaps overlooked element present in most of them; the self-driving car. Blade Runner, Demolition Man, Fifth Element, iRobot, the list goes on and on. We’ve been looking at not having to drive ourselves for decades, but now it’s looking like we may be heading towards actually seeing it as a reality.

Of course everyone knows about Google’s self driving cars which recently just passed the 300,000 mile mark in terms of distance travelled between the dozen or so vehicles that Google has on the road at any one time. When you divide that down that’s about 20,000 miles that each car has travelled, so far without an incident caused by the automatic systems. In both cases that the Google Driverless cars were involved in accidents, humans were involved. To maintain overwatch on the cars, they have a driver and a Google engineer in them as they drive, with the driver able to take control of the car at any time. In one of the incidents the car was being driven manually; in the other it was rear-ended by another driver.

Volvo have also just announced their own program of automated cars recently as well. Whilst not as immediately as ambitious as Google’s work, Volvo’s seems to be much more immediately applicable. They’ve announced a range of different features such as Cruise Control with steering, which is essentially smart cruise that allows the car to not only maintain a safe distance from the car in front of it, it also helps the driver steer with the road and can actively prevent lane drift and other issues that are common on highway driving. They’ve also got pedestrian and large animal collision detection, which uses radar and camera technology to detect people and animals at the side of the road, to warn drivers if they look like they will present a problem and even brake the car if the driver takes no action.

The final, and potentially coolest feature Volvo have been looking into is automated parking. Whilst in its infancy right now, the idea is that you get out of your car at your office and then, using your phone, tell your car to go park itself and it will toddle off to do just that. Then when you need it, you just use your phone to tell it to come to you and it’ll be waiting for you when you get out from work. The idea that in the future parking lots will be filled with driverless cars gliding around looking for spaces is perhaps a little creepy, but also rather awesome in another way. How these automated cars will deal with space snatching bastards is a question they’ve yet to answer.

What they will do though is open up yet another avenue for app developers. There are already multiple in car app development opportunities, but how cool would it be to be writing something that helps a car drive itself?

UPDATE 2017: Want to see how far self-driving cars have come since this article was written? Just take a look at Waymo, the Google car project. 

Jelly Bean 4.3 accidentally arrives in the wild

jellybean

In the tech world, were all just waiting for the next, newest thing to come around. Sometimes that comes predictably with a scheduled announcement by a big company, sometimes a surprise release, and sometimes someone at one of these big tech companies does something silly.

There were of course, the now infamous cases of Apple employees who kept leaving then unreleased models of the iPhone at bars, which allowed us all to see these devices before their appointed times. And now a Google employee has gone and done something very similar (although the creeping dread that must have instilled the Apple employees at the thought of the then alive Jobs’ fury will likely be absent).

According to reports, a yet unnamed Google employee sold on their Nexus 4 to a member of the public, one Jeff Williams, but forgot that they were running Jelly Bean’s next iteration version 4.3 on the handset. After some confusion,Williams posted a screenshot from the phone showing the apparent upgrade to the OS:

After some debate it was decided by the internet that this seemed to be the real deal and since then Williams has extracted the code and released it to the wider Android community, with Nexus 4 users claiming to have got the new update working sans radio.

If you’re curious you can go download the update right now, although with a Google event upcoming on the 24th it could be worth just waiting until then as it is very likely to be an announcement of the new version, along with a possible reveal of the new Nexus 7.

So apparently being a Google Intern is pretty awesome

intern

In the recent film The Internship, Google Internship is portrayed as an endless party full of young, smart people living in swanky apartments and having everything they need provided for by Google as they live the high life. Turns out that it’s not really that far from the truth. Until recently the interns were essentially told by Google to find their own place and make their own way to work. This year however, the company rented a swathe of apartments in Crescent Valley, San Jose and offered interns a rent paid for summer in these apartments together. Just to point out, these apartments have pools, gyms and Google even pays for the intern’s laundry.

And of course, they’re making the other resident’s lives… difficult. Regular complaints are apparently filed of noise, loud music, hot tub parties and whatever else you could probably expect of a bunch of highly paid, high flying 20 something’s who’ve all been put together under one roof. You have to bear in mind that this neighbourhood was a quiet, family orientated place before Google moved in.

Of course, Google doesn’t have the monopoly on interns misbehaving, although they all misbehave in different ways.

Apple fired Apple hacking whizz kid “Comex” after he failed to reply to an e-mail asking whether he wanted to stay in employment with them. Seems a little harsh, but then, Apple have always had something of a no nonsense approach to employees.

From the outside, Silicon Valley has a slightly mystical air about it. It’s New Mecca for techheads around the world, where the magic happens and some of the greatest minds of our generation sit puzzling out how to push things past where they sit now. If most of us were offered a place at one of the big companies (Google, Apple, Quora etc) we’d leap so hard at the chance we’d probably hurt ourselves in the process. All we ever hear are stories of that strange land where not having wi-fi is a nightmare only joked about, where the campuses of the biggest companies in the world have no fences or gates and you can apparently blag your way through (if you look the part that it).

It does, however, make it easy to understand why those who aren’t part of the Tech bubble see it as, well, exactly what the Google interns do. An endless party full of young, smart, people earning way more than you and looking better as they do it. Only, it’s not really that is it? These are people who are working exceptionally hard to get where they are.

Bill Gate reportedly only slept for 4 hours a day and an employee who tried to match his way of living could only manage a week before bowing out. Steve Jobs was so driven by his desire to make the world around him the way he wanted it he made an Apple technician make new prototypes of the oxygen mask he had in the hospital because he hated the design.

Having said that though, even if you’re not a technophile, if someone offered you a job with $6000 a month salary, rent free living, pools, hot tubs, gym membership, free bus transport to work, free food and all of that as you’re surrounded by those in a similar situation to yourself? As one Billy Connolly said, there isn’t a “herd of wild horses” that could stop you going.

Interships aren’t for everyone though, some of us like to work for ourselves and many app developers out there do just that. And even if you’re part of a bigger team, you’re still going to need a Mobile Backend for your latest and greatest app. And we at Kumulos have a solution for you with our Mobile Backend as a Service designed from the ground up to support your every app development need.

So why not get in touch with us today?

 

Mobile gaming, the only way forward?

mobile-gaming

Mobile gaming is big, really big.

But then we all knew that right?

Well, apparently Zynga didn’t, and they are somewhat unsurprisingly going straight down the toilet. To give you an example, two mobile gaming companies Supercell and Gung-Ho have made something in the region of $250 million in revenue over the last year, and Supercell alone took in some $100 million inprofit. Zynga made about $250 million in revenue and made about $4 million in profit. That’s a number most would call unsettlingly low and it appears that Zynga agrees because they’ve now hired Microsoft’s Don Mattrick is taking over as CEO to try to bring the ship back on course and away from disaster.

Which in itself is a bit of an interesting choice as Mattrick’s previous position at Microsoft was heading up the team who managed to quite spectacularly destroy a large portion of the Xbox One’s market through a series of terrible decisions related to features and marketing. The accusations leveled at him and Microsoft were that they were out of touch with the consumer and that they had no idea what the people on the ground wanted from a games console.

So his departure from Microsoft may appear like he’s decided to move to greener pastures, but as to how much of that decision was made for him may never be known.

In other areas of the mobile world, it would appear that Facebook wants to move into becoming a mobile games publisher. For a good while it seemed a little odd that Facebook had acquired Parse (UPDATE 2017: We all know what happened there.), what did a social network want with a Backend as a Service? But now it seems that question may be answered by looking at where the money is at in gaming. It might appear to be the developers who are making a killing, but you just have to compare those amounts with what the average publisher makes and you’ll see who’s really raking it it. As Facebook continues to struggle to monetise itself, setting up what could essentially be a money printer for them is a smart move, and it will engrain them heavily into mobile culture in a way that they’ve not been before.

So it seems that it’s still all systems go for mobile game development, and if you need a Mobile Backend to go with your development project, look no further than Kumulos. We’ve got a Mobile Backend as a Service that can help get your app, whether it’s a game or not, straight through development and launched out into the world faster than you ever thought possible. So why not talk to us today?

 

Why App Developers Should Be Paying Attention To The Middle East

dubai-photo

Here at Kumulos we talk a lot about trends in mobile and in particular back end as a service. The markets in the US, Europe and Asia and how they’re driving the mobile world. Emerging markets in India and China are the next wave, ready to break on us at any moment. But there’s another market in the middle of all this that’s got huge potential and numbers. Where? The Middle East of course.

You may or may not know it, but the Middle East is a hotbed for mobile right now. The United Arab Emirates has one of the highest smartphone penetration percentages in the world at 62%:

mobile back end as a service trends

If you look at the graph you’ll see that that’s a substantial amount more than the US and Europe, whilst a little better, isn’t doing much better.  There’s also some interesting numbers that show that mobile users in Egypt use their smartphones for shopping much more than those in the west. How much  more? 80% of smartphone owners say that they’ve used their phone for shopping, compared to 62% in the US and 56% in the UK. Google also have noted that mobile advertising is more effective, with 90% of users surveyed saying that they have noticed adverts and many had also clicked on them.

The demographic in the Middle East that are using smartphones are overwhelmingly young, more than 72% of smartphone users are under 34 and more than 60% are male. When surveyed over half of respondents said that they wanted a smartphone as their primary electronic device, citing the portability and flexibility of the devices as their main reasons.

It’s also reported that in many of the more affluent countries in the area, having more than one smartphone is so common that phones outnumber people; this is an especially prevalent thing in Saudi Arabia apparently.

So with all this evidence out there, why are app developers ignoring this location? Get out there and start bringing your app development skills to the table and tap into this under reported but eager market.

Google Enters the mBaaS Space with Mobile Backend Starter, Mountain View

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Google are a company that seem to be on an ever expanding quest outward in the tech world. They are slowly bringing together a host of disparate but connected services under the one multi-coloured banner of Mountain View. For some this may seem like a slowly growing monopoly attempt, but for the majority of us it only spells good things. Gmail has long established itself as one of the best email clients out there, and Google’s cloud services have managed to separate themselves from the herd of other providers by being as useful as they are simple to use, mostly.

With that in mind, Google have recently announced that they are moving into the Mobile Backend as a Service market. The logic here makes sense, Google make Android, so why not also use the tools they’ve made to support app development on the OS? This move also manages to put Google into competition with Facebook, who recently acquired mBaaS providers Parse (UPDATE 2017: We all know what happened there.) in a move that continues to fuel rumours Facebook wants its own app-space and maybe even its own phone. Although after the dismal fail that Facebook Home has been, those rumours are sounding less and less likely.

Google have described their mBaaS solution as: “a one-click deployable, complete mobile backend that allows you to reap the benefits of a cloud backend with none of the headaches. It provides a ready-to-deploy, general purpose cloud backend and a general purpose client-side framework for Android.”

Alongside the new Android Developer Studio IDE that Google also announced at I/O, it seems that Mountain View is wanting to capture app developers and get them sitting firmly inside the Google camp by providing them with a range of services that are, usefully, all in the one place and can talk to each other well. They want to make the Android app development eco-system developer friendly and, in some ways, nurture them so that the next generation of high quality apps can be on Android and not iOS.

They’re not alone in this space though, mBaaS is becoming big business, and at the moment Google’s foray into the space is not exactly as well equipped as some of the big players in the area and if they want to stay competitive, they’re going to have to push some new features out there, and fast.

iOS and Android Are Not In Competition Says New Flurry Report

google_vs_apple

It’s one of the biggest business battles of the modern mobile age. iOS versus Android, the two mobile titans in a constant struggle for dominance over the market, their power so absolute that other competitors are relegated to picking up the scraps of whatever they leave behind and occasionally nipping at their ankles. And it seemed like recently Android was making tracks towards becoming the winner in this battle.

At 70% market share in device numbers, Android has become a powerhouse in terms of user numbers. The numbers are difficult to track exactly, but the most recent reports point to Android having some 564 million active devices across the globe now. iOS has also grown, but Android’s growth has just outstripped it in recent years But the latest report from Flurry paints a slightly different, and more complex picture of the competition between the mobile market’s two horses.

For one, Android may lead with pure active devices, but iOS is still leading with App Market Share. What that means is that whilst there are more Android users, iOS users are using more apps and spending more time inside them than Android. At one point Android and iOS were closely matched in this aspect but the iPad 3rd gen pushed iOS back out in front and it has stayed there ever since.

So there’s a certain disparity between device share and app share. Flurry reckon that this is due to a couple of different factors:

“One is that at least up until now the two dominant operating systems have tended to attract different types of users… A second possible reason for why Android’s share of the app market lags its share in the device market is that the fragmented nature of the Android ecosystem creates greater obstacles to app development and therefore limits availability of app content.”

Essentially it boils down to iOS users went out and bought their iPhones because they wanted to run apps, and the apps are given pride of place on iOS. The whole reason they own the phone is to run apps, so it makes sense that they would use more apps. The other of course is the big stumbling block for Android, fragmentation. Due to the split nature of the platform, Android developers find it hard to push their apps to the entire Android customer base, even if it is bigger than iOS. iOS on the other hand, is relatively streamlined and gives developers a greater chance to reach a wider audience and earn more revenue.

The conclusion here is that both OS are no longer competing for the same crown. Android is likely to keep winning on pure device numbers, but iOS is likely to continue to be the strongest in terms of apps and generating revenue for its developers.

Whichever OS you develop for though, Kumulos have you covered with our Mobile Backend as a Service that we can guarantee will make your app development easier, faster and more efficient. If that sounds good to you, get in touch with us and see what we can do for you today.