Tag: mobile backend services

So, Google apparently owns 40% of the internet

google-logo

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?

The future of Apple, is it really that uncertain?

Tim-Cook-Steve-Jobs-300x2

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?

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.

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.

 

Backend as a Service: The Latest Market Trends & Drivers

kumulos-cloud

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.

Google’s just done an Apple

7-google-new-nexus-7-240713-300x200

So yesterday Google had the breakfast meeting that it had announced a couple of weeks ago. It was heavily rumoured going into the meeting that we’d be seeing the new Nexus 7, and lo and behold, there it was for the whole world to see. Sleek, sexy and a strong upgrade to the older model 7.

New 7

The new Nexus 7 has had a modest upgrade to its processing power, now sporting the exact same Snapdragon S4 Quad core and 2 Gb of RAM set up that the Nexus 4 has; which anyone who’s used an N4 will tell you, is more than enough for today’s current app demands. The most notable upgrade however has to be the screen. Moving from a fairly “meh” 1280×800 to a stunning 1920×1200 and keeping the same 7” form factor means that you have one of the highest pixel densities of any tablet screen, including the retina displays in the iPad. The colour capability of the screen has been upgraded which has given the screen a much more vibrant look, something that was a small problem in the old Nexii which tended towards looking a little dulled and greyed out. Connectivity wise, there’s a wifi version and a 4G LTE version, although currently the 4G is only available in the US (here’s hoping it comes over here soon), and there’s also NFC to back it all up and Wireless charging to boot.

 

The basic 16Gb version will go on sale in the US on the 30th of July priced at $229 (£149).

chromecast_dongle

 

Bait and Switch

The other announcement though, took us all by surprise. The Google Chromecast dongle seems like a fairly innocuous piece of tech, but it’s been making big waves. For just $35 you buy the Chromecast, connected it to an HDMI port on your TV and then you have instant access to Netflix, Youtube and Google’s Play services (in the US they also have access to Pandora). It runs Google’s own Chrome OS and you control the dongle with your phone. Google announced that for a limited time, buyers would get 3 months free Netflix, even if they already had a subscription. So obviously they were selling like hotcakes, so fast in fact that Google had to pull the deal because people were buying the ever loving crap out of it.

The most interesting thing about these two releases is how… Apple like they are. Here’s a premium upgrade to an already great product, and a little piece of innovative tech that people want. In a year where Apple have been almost suspiciously silent, Google have clearly been watching Cupertino’s moves and then are looking to copy them. With Google Glass on its way and with rumoured upgrades to more of the Nexus line, this could be an interesting year if you’re an Android fan.

The non-Nexus S4 and HTC One Are Almost Here

htc-one-nexus-backend-as-a-service-300x162

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.

Urban Airship Is Waving Goodbye To Its IAP And Subscription Based Services

Urban_Airship_Logo

Urban Airship, the enterprise push notification service has decided to sunset their IAP (in app purchase) and subscription based services as of the 1st of July. This means that if you track your IAPs or subscriptions through Urban Airship, you’ve got less than a month until you have to either migrate out or cancel these services in your app.

The reason, according to UA, for this is due to their messaging products taking off in such a big way that they have been unable to support these services and have now decided that it is better to sunset them rather than have an effectively unsupported product sitting there. This is sadly often the case for companies providing services, one section takes off and the rest gets left behind.

An interesting question is whether this trend is likely to continue throughout the mBaaS industry. After all it’s not unusual to see a business slowly streamline itself over time until they are providing a specialised service that they have been guided to by the market. Could this mean that this may be the start of a migration into more specific service based products for mobile app development? Urban Airship are moving into messaging, but there are plenty of other areas for mBaaS providers to supply a service.

This, on the other hand, seems to be a reverse from the major trend in tech where companies start off specialised and then slowly start absorbing other companies and services until they can provide users with a cross platform and cross service experience. UA’s decision points to them growing faster than they can actually handle at the moment, which shows us an interesting dilemma of modern business, growing too fast.

Like anything, too much growth can cause a business to become overstretched and implode rather than expanding to meet demand. Whilst they didn’t lose control and have instead only folded away a small part of their service in response, it’s worthwhile noting that this could have gone much worse for them.

Meanwhile, here at Kumulos, we’re still offering push notification services that include powerful features such as channels and segments that gives you the power to laser target your app user base.

So if you’re not using Kumulos yet, get started with a FREE trial today!

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.