Tag: mobile app security

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.

 

Backend as a Service: The Latest Market Trends & Drivers

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The global backend as a service (BaaS) market is set for phenomenal growth between now and 2016. The key driver in the adoption of BaaS technologies is the need to make app development less complex. Today we want to explore some of the factors that are creating this demand, such as the vast influx of smartphone and tablet devices. As consumers increasingly shift from desktop PC’s (sales have been down 15% on average, every year for the past 5 years) to mobile, the demand for mobile apps has skyrocketed.

As the demand for mobile apps and devices continues to explode, so too does the demand for BaaS technologies like Kumulos that make the whole app development process so much more intuitive and quick. When running a comparison of backend as a service companies, you’ll find the market has been flooded since 2009 with all types of offerings. With Kumulos, the pricing for using backend as a service is simple, scalable and you only pay a tiny amount when your app actually goes live. We’re tried and trusted by indie developers and app development studios from across the world.

One of the key things to look for when conducting a review of backend as a service technologies, is understanding how quickly and easily you can access your data. With Kumulos, there’s no minimum tie-in and you can access and retrieve your data whenever you like. But what will the backend as a service market look like by 2016? The mobile landscape and the demand for mobile technologies is growing at an astonishing rate. As the demand for mobile services, apps and devices becomes more vigorous, so too will the need for flexible, scalable and affordable backend as a service platforms.

Kumulos has been developed by app developers, for real app developers. We’re not VC backed and bloated – we’re profitable. Kumulos has been developed in a real world app development studio, helping a dedicated team of app developers to ace their projects, whilst enabling us to test and deploy lots of cool new features. What’s more, is that we have over 2000 app developers and app development studios using the platform across the globe. We’ve been doing this now since 2007, so we understand a whole bunch about successful app development and what’s going on in the backend as a service ecosystem.

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. 

The non-Nexus S4 and HTC One Are Almost Here

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So a short while ago at I/O, we all waited in tense anticipation of a new set of Nexus devices, and the blossoming of demand for Android Backend as a Service. With Apple announcing big things at the end of the year, could we perhaps see a Nexus device arrive early to snap up the (relatively) bored tech loving hordes? Well, turns out no. I/O came and went and we exactly squat to satisfy our Nexus lust. However, all wasn’t lost, as we did instead, get the announcement of the Galaxy SIV Google Play edition. An SIV, with all the power that that allows, without the piles of stuff that Samsung likes to pile in on top of Android. Shortly after that, HTC announced they were also doing a Google Play edition of the One.

Android fans rejoiced.

Now, it’s important to note that it isn’t a Nexus edition. Why is that? Well, aside from being Google’s own brand of phones, the Google Play editions aren’t running pure stock Android because these phones have features that won’t really work without the specialist manufacturer software. So, it’s almost stock, with a couple of little additions to keep the gears turning. That said though, both of these phones are big hitters in terms of performance and feature lists, and being able to grab them unlocked means that you can have them without ever worrying about getting tied into long and/or expensive carrier contracts.

So how much are these super phones up for sale for?

Well, the SIV is going for $649 and the One is just behind it at $599. So Nexus prices these are not, however if you’re planning on keeping the phone for a while they could very well still be the best deal in terms of long term value for money. There’s also some speculation that as these phones won’t be running the *ahem* “Manufacturer software” (read mostly bloatware), their already impressive performance will improve even more.

That remains to be seen however, as they’re not out yet but they’re set to ship starting July 9th.

Until then, well, there are always pictures.

Google’s New Android Studio Promises Lots Of Extra Features For App Developers

android-studio

Is it us, or does it kind of feel like the tools, such as Android mBaaS, we’ve been working with to create apps in the last few years haven’t really changed all that much? Sure there are open source or independent IDEs out there if you really want to change how you operate as an app developer, but the bread and butter of development is choosing either XCode or Eclipse and creating apps in those environments. Now, we’ve done articles before on the supposed benefits or lack of, of both of these IDEs, but overall, they are both kind of just industry standard.

That’s changed recently though. Google’s I/O conference went down recently, and whilst a lot of interesting stuff was announced (like we’re going to get a Nexus version of the Galaxy SIV, hold your techgasms if you can people), the most interesting thing for app developers was the reveal of Google Android Studio.

Essentially this is Android development 2.0 and it’s looking like, if you’re an Android developer, it’s time to get quite excited about amongst other things Android mBaaS and all the other things that Android Studio promises.

It’s got a whole suite of useful tools that Eclipse doesn’t, with one of the coolest being “live layout”, which renders your apps in real time onto a virtual mobile screen so you can see what it looks like as you work rather than having to create, test, and then return to editing. We can already hear developers getting themselves worked up over this because finally gone will be the days of the much maligned Eclipse Emulator and also vastly improved options for on-the-fly testing which should make more experimental or off the wall ideas much more viable.

Also included is the ability to change layouts and screen sizes of the virtual devices you can see, enabling you to get a good idea of what your apps is going to look like on anything from a 3.7” screen to a full 10” tablet. With Android having so many different screen sizes, being able to see these different sizes and test different layouts as you go is, again, something that Android developers are going to really appreciate.

Included in this Christmas package from Google was a fairly substantial update to the developer console for Google Play. This has been primarily targeted towards the beta phase of an app and helping developers get their beta app into the hands of testers. This has been tricky in the past for developers but this new system hopes to really help along the process of getting your app out there to be tested as thoroughly as it can be. The console also lets you manage a staged roll out process, which will be very useful to many developers who are looking to regulate how quickly features and versions of their apps go public. After all, extra control of your apps reveal to the world can mean that you run less risk of putting out unfinished or bugged versions.

Lastly in this box of tricks is the integration of translation services into the tools.

What this does is give you an option to say that you want, perhaps, your app to be translated into Spanish for that particular market. Google will then bring up a list of companies who offer app translation services and once you’ve chosen one, will act as a middle-man to get your app translated, with the results arriving directly into your console.

More than anything else this will be a great step forward for Android development because it’s finally bringing a proper IDE for the OS onto the market. Reading comments around the net about this, it seems that developers are very excited and eager to test it out. And why not, it’s available for download right now from this link right here.

Introducing Talkz, The Messaging App That Wants To Do It All

talkz

It’s hard sometimes, as an app developer, to see where certain markets in the app market can go past a certain point. For example, you may want to create an app that finds local bus times for users, but there are hundreds of those already in existence; heck even Google Now does that these days. Is there a way to innovate such a niche and already cornered market? What about an image taking/sharing app that isn’t Instagram? Where can those apps go that hasn’t already been done before? What can you as an app developer do that will get people interested in what you’re creating when they’re likely already quite happy in their own little app worlds that they’ve made for themselves.

It’s the same in the instant messaging world. With Facebook, Whatsapp, Vine, MessageMe, Poke and all the others all vying for attention in various different ways, how do you as an app developer even begin to create something that’s useful, familiar and innovative in the messenger market?

(UPDATE 2017: The Talkz website redirects to an app on the Google store which lets you make Facebook stickers talk and hasn’t been updated in two years. Also notice how there’s mention of Snapchat.)

Well, Talkz, an app that’s just recently been announced at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY conference, is wanting to change how we message forever.

How is it going to do that?

Well, it wants us to stop typing and start talking. What does that mean? Well, the app allows for every type of sharing you can imagine, so messaging, pictures, video, voice etc, but it’s the voice messaging that’s really putting them on the map as something to watch out for. Every textual message sent is accompanied by a voice message of the same text. At the moment the only voices available are Obama, W.Bush and Romney, but there are apparently big plans for getting celebrity endorsements.

But how does this actually work? What are the “voice clones”?

Talkz uses a very clever piece of voice recognition software that, over time, as you send voice messages, learns your voice. It learns your inflections, your tone and the overall character of your voice until it can create a fairly close replica of your spoken voice. That’s the voice clone in action; where eventually, you can send a text message and it can be read out as a voice message, in your voice, using your own little nuances and inflections as it does so.

Of course, there’s a major market here for celebrity voices and the creators of Talkz are already in negotiations with various, currently unnamed, celebs to get clones of their voices to sell to those using the app. Just as celebrity and other specialised ringtones were the biggest thing in the late 90’s and the start of the 2000’s, Talkz is looking to become the next wave of that particular area of the mobile world.

Combining with that the ability to send videos, doodles, pictures and even arrange chat hangouts (welcome, the chatrooms of the 21st century), Talkz has essentially got every base in the messenger market covered, and by the looks of things, has it covered well.

The sticking point in the whole operation is of course the voice cloning and whether it takes off or not. But having seen the massive viral success of the game Moon Lab Alpha, where users have created hundreds of hours worth of videos on Youtube of weird and wonderful sounding conversations created by the text-to-voice in the game; it could be the Talkz with its celebrity voices could generate a good amount of traction, if even for people to have ridiculous sounding conversations with.

Ultimately Talkz is an example that with enough creativity, an app developer can create a solid app even in markets that are seen to be pretty well full. The key here is, as always, having a good idea and a solid app design plan and implementing that plan properly.

Kantar Just Released Its Q1 Smartphone Sales Figures, Android Still Leads Globally

android-phone

As the first business quarter of the year ends, in the mobile world there’s a clear trend appearing. Android, powered largely by Samsung and other top tier OEMs, is still increasing its power. In their first big release of the year, Kantar have found that Android accounted for roughly 64% of all handset sales in Q1 2013, across nine different markets consisting of the UK, China, US, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.

(UPDATE 2017: Still holds true in 2017, with Android’s share growing even more.) 

Whilst we all know that Android has managed to have an overall global lead in terms of handsets shipped, this is a clear indication that the shipped handsets aren’t just languishing in stores, they’re moving at a fair clip straight back out of them again. Android has a dominating lead in Spain, for example, where 93.5% of all handsets sold are Android. In fact, the only country that Android isn’t leading in out of those 9 is Japan, where iOS pulled ahead slightly to secure a 49.5% overall percentage, whereas Android is making do with 45%.

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As you can see above though, overall Android is doing incredibly well, and Kantar think that this will only continue further into 2013:

“We expect to see a further spike in [Android’s] share in the coming months, as sales from the HTC One start coming through and the Samsung Galaxy S4 is launched,” writes Dominic Sunnebo, global consumer insight director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “This will pile pressure on Apple, BlackBerry and Nokia to keep their products front of consumers’ minds in the midst of a Samsung and HTC marketing blitz.”

Speaking of Apple, is it us or has Cupertino been very quiet this year so far? It is only early days of course, and the hype machine has already started to get the gears turning, if very slowly, with promises from Tim Cook of “big things” at the end of the year. But at the moment, without a new phone or even other product launch on the near horizon, Apple seem to be slipping from the public consciousness as Samsung pushes its latest and greatest Galaxy SIV and HTC stands shoulder to shoulder with Facebook to promote the “Facebook Phone” and of course, this spills over onto the One as well.

Android is now at the forefront of public consciousness, and despite Blackberry’s best efforts, it just can’t seem to make any kind of dent in the Android ship, with only 0.9% of sales globally last month. There is a surprising winner in all of this though, and that is Windows Phone, which has seen a small but steady amount of growth to 5.6% of global sales. Now that might not sound like a lot, but when you consider that Android has 64% and iOS has around 35% of sales, there’s not a lot of pie left to take; so 5.6% is quite respectable.

It is interesting that WP has managed to keep momentum up, and the main reason behind it could be that Nokia know how to make easy to use and good looking smartphones, and Windows Phone is less complex to use than Android or iOS if you’re coming from an older feature phone. WP is becoming the opening of the funnel into the smartphone world, and if they can keep their place their, they won’t get the ridiculous sales numbers of the two giants, but they will manage to gain and likely hold a place in the mobile market.

What will be very interesting is seeing what happens when Google inevitably announce some new shiny tech at I/O and Apple start pushing the hype machine up a few gears. An announcement, or even teaser, of a new iPhone will probably be enough to get Cupertino back in the spotlight. The telling results will likely come in Q4, so we’ll be back then to give you the next run down most likely.

Apps Are Now Holding The Same Number Of People As PCs And Laptops In The U.S.

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Despite phenomenal growth in the last few years, the Mobile industry has remained, in some areas, quite marginalised. As much as mobile ad revenue, for example, has expanded at a crazy rate; it still only accounts for less than 10% of the total ad revenue takings across all advertising properties. This has confused more than one app user, where it seems to be standard issue to have ads floating around every free app you own. How can something as common as that not generate massive income? Well, it was largely about a numbers game, and for the first time, mobile apps aren’t just a big part of where audiences are going to, it’s becoming the place where audiences go.

(UPDATE 2017: Looks like the tipping point was right around when this article was written.)

Aside from also challenging TV veiwership numbers, app useage numbers are now roughly equal to those who are using laptops and PCs. This is something of an amazing statistic when you realise how common it is for households to have 3 or more computers that are regularly used. But the data doesn’t lie, and according to the mobile market researchers Flurry, there are now 224 million app users to 221 laptop and pc users out there.

App usage is also starting to dwarf more traditional types of media consumption options. Flurry found that during the “prime-time” hours of 7-10pm, there were on average 52 million people using ap

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As the above graph shows, app usage is strong throughout the day, with the gradient going up until about 9-10pm where it starts to tail off. Interestingly, unlike other forms of media, weekday and weekend usage didn’t change an awful lot, with weekdays still getting 75% of the usage of the weekends. This points to the flexibility and portability of smartphones and mobile devices being a key component of their success. You can use any app you have, any time, anywhere. This causes much more consistent usage than say, TV, where you’ll get massive spikes and troughs, and maybe newspapers, where you get probably big spikes of use around breakfast and lunch, then a steady trail off into nothing by the evening.

But to even hit the number of 52 million simultaneous users, you’d have to combine the prime time viewing numbers of the 3 top TV shows and the top 200 in circulation newspapers.

So clearly, apps are becoming the thing when it comes to grabbing an audience, which means there’s no better time to be an app developer. Your app could be part of the 500 “prime” apps used across smartphones and tablets in that 52 million person spread. And the only way to make that happen is to get down to business and develop that app.

Sometimes that can be tricky though, especially if you need a Mobile Backend and don’t know how to program one effectively. Well, fear not, because that’s where we at Kumulos step in with our Mobile Backend as a Service. Made by app developers, for app developers, it’s designed to make creating a Mobile Backend for your app that much easier.

So why not talk to us today and see what Kumulos can do for you?