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iPhone developers abandoning app model for HTML5? December 16, 2009

Posted by hruf in Mobile & Gadgets, Programming.
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Lots of iPhone application developers are frustrated with the process to get new apps into your hands. It takes about three weeks lately for an app to get approved and into the iTunes store.

Lately I’ve noticed that some developers are avoiding building apps and, instead, are building custom web pages that are designed specifically for the iPhone. I’m not the only one, Marshall Kirkpatrick, over at ReadWriteWeb is seeing the same trend and yesterday featured several services that are building iPhone web experiences but not apps.

Examples you might be already using are Twitter’s mobile site, or Techmeme’s mobile site.

But yesterday another one came along from Nextstop, which is a cool new app for sharing cool things to do near you (great for travelers to check out) and they, too, decided on HTML5 instead of doing an iPhone app. So, I visited them in their San Francisco offices and learned why they made the choices they did, got a demo of the new mobile site they built using HTML5, and also talked about what their view of what’s happening in the larger mobile industry is.

Some reasons Nextstop likes HTML5:

1. Rapid iteration. If they code a new feature tonight, you get it tonight. No waiting three weeks for you to get their latest.
2. It prepares their systems for building a native app. Why? Because apps can include a Safari browser instance inside, so all of this work is reusable, even if they do a native app.
3. It’s easier to build and debug because you don’t need to do a lot of specialized coding to make the native app work properly.
4. It fits into the greater web easier for users. In an iPhone app it can be jarring to take users out to a web browser, but if they already are in the browser they are used to going to other pages and back again using Safari’s navigation.

Anyway, if you want to learn more about the latest thinking of iPhone app developers, this is a good video to watch.

via iPhone developers abandoning app model for HTML5?.


Over half of Android developers dissatisfied with app profits – FierceDeveloper December 1, 2009

Posted by pannet in Mobile & Gadgets, Programming.
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Given mounting frustrations over Apple’s App Store standards and surging interest in writing for Google’s rival Android platform, you might think it’s all puppies and rainbows in Android developer circles, but tensions are simmering there as well. In a recent interview with About.com, id Software co-founder and technical director John Carmack (the lead programmer on bestselling titles including Doom and Quake) said he has no interest in Android, citing financial questions: “Android really has the support and the flexibility, but I’ve been talking with the Electronics Arts people (who publish some of id’s products) about Android, and many folks are saying the money isn’t there.” Carmack’s concerns are echoed by mobile games publisher Gameloft, which said it will slash investment in its Android efforts: “We have significantly cut our investment in Android platform, just like… many others,” Gameloft finance director Alexandre de Rochefort recently told an investor conference. “Google has not been very good to entice customers to actually buy products. On Android, nobody is making significant revenue.” Rochefort adds that Gameloft is selling 400 times the number of games via iPhone than on Android.

Even with Android games enjoying a 53 percent month-over-month gross revenue increase in October 2009 according to data issued by strategic market research and consulting firm Fade LLC, the numbers are still alarming–Fade indicates that October’s best-selling premium Android title, Lupis Labs Software’s Robo Defense, sold 7,600 units at $2.99 each, translating to gross monthly revenues of just $22,724. With developers retaining 70 percent of Android Market revenues, Lupis Labs took home about $15,907 in Robo Defense sales over the month in question. Now a new survey released by location system provider Skyhook Wireless indicates that 57 percent of Android developers express dissatisfaction with their Android profits, with 90 percent of respondents reporting individual app downloads of 10,000 or less. In fact, 52 percent of Android developers indicate their total app downloads fall below 5,000.

The Skyhook survey identifies a number of additional factors contributing to Android developer frustrations, including the Android Market storefront’s design and discovery options as well as the absence of an effective billing system. Eighty-two percent of respondents argue Android Market’s layout contributes to their application going unnoticed by consumers, and 43 percent of developers blame Google Checkout for their lackluster download volumes, believing they would sell more applications if Android switched to operator billing or adopted a simpler payment process. Fragmentation is another major concern among developers–with an increasing number of Android-based smartphones hitting the market, 46 percent of coders surveyed say they anticipate different versions of Android complicating their developmental efforts. The end result: Sixty-eight percent of respondents tell Skyhook they are somewhat or not likely to invest additional time and energy into their Android applications. Manufacturer announcements indicate there will be more than 50 Android smartphones available in the very near future, meaning there’s no time like the present for Google to make Android Market a more hospitable environment for software sellers and buyers alike.

via Over half of Android developers dissatisfied with app profits – FierceDeveloper.

10 things about Microsoft’s PDC 2009: The good, the bad and the ugly | Betanews November 21, 2009

Posted by hruf in Internet & Communities, Multimedia, Programming.
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Microsoft’s 2009 developer conference wrapped up yesterday in Los Angeles. Not since PDC 2003 has Microsoft talked so much and said so little. As I listened to the keynotes and have reviewed the sessions, words “series finale” repeatedly popped into my head — like a TV show coming to its end after a long run. Good or bad for Microsoft, a computing era is ending. Perhaps PDC 2009 demarcates the transition.

PDC 2003 was memorable for demos that wooed but seemed insubstantial. Within weeks after that developer conference, I began telling my clients (I was a senior analyst for JupiterResearch then) to expect Microsoft to delay Windows Longhorn sometime in early 2004. The delay came, followed by several others, as Microsoft dumped features to get Windows Vista out the door — late — missing holiday 2006.

PDC 2009 had a quality that reminds me of the event six years earlier. Much of the big new stuff came off a bit airy, and there are gapping pot holes in the product strategy — mobile being the biggest — that Microsoft executives tried to walk around or jump over. Ignoring these holes doesn’t make them go away, unless perhaps sticking one’s head in them like an ostrich might.

Windows is no longer the satellite around which trendy development projects revolve. Windows gravity remains strong in the enterprise, for which switching costs to competing platforms hold tight the orbit. Increasingly, Web development and the mobile device capture pull developers away from Windows. Microsoft didn’t increase enough the gravity to pull them back. For example, Internet Explorer 9 demos were laughable in context of continued and aggressive Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox development. Meanwhile, Microsoft had virtually nothing to say about Windows Mobile/Phone.

With that introduction, I’ve compiled my thoughts about PDC 2009 — and related announcements this week, such as the Office 2010 public beta — into a list of 10 things. The things are in no particular order of importance.


Adobe Releases Flash Player 10.1 And AIR 2.0 – Both Include Multi-touch Support November 17, 2009

Posted by pannet in Multimedia, Programming.
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A mere week after Adobe Systems reported that it would be shedding nearly 700 employees or 9% of its total worldwide workforce, the company is releasing two highly anticipated new products that have been in the works for a while: Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.0.

Both of the products are being released with a ‘beta’ label at the same time for all 3 major operating systems (Windows, Mac and Linux) and x86-based netbooks, and are available now via Adobe Labs.

The links to the products are now live: Flash Player and AIR.

People who were still hoping for a beta release of the new Flash Player for mobile will be somewhat disappointed by the fact that they’ll have to exercise even more patience.

But first things first.

Both the new Flash Player for desktop browsers and the latest iteration of the rather popular cross-platform runtime environment for desktop apps were announced in the beginning of October and previewed at the recent Adobe MAX 2009 event (see video below). That means there aren’t too many surprises left with regards to what the upgraded versions bring, so we’ll just give you a quick run-down.

Both Adobe AIR 2 and Flash Player 10.1:

– boast support for multi-touch and gestures (yes, you’d need a machine with a touch screen)
– include a global error handler, which enables devs to write a single handler to process all runtime errors
– (finally) support local microphone access, so you’ll no longer need to first pass through a server in order to record audio locally on both Flash Platform runtimes

Adobe Flash Player 10.1 now also leverages hardware decoding of H.264 video on Windows PCs, netbooks and mobile devices.

Want all that goodness on your mobile phone, too? Hold your horses: while a public beta of Adobe Flash Player 10.1 for Palm webOS is expected later this year, Google Android support is expected no sooner than early 2010, and support for Blackberry smartphones will likely take even more time to be added.

Also new in Adobe AIR 2.0 and worthy of a mention:

– Native process API: enables apps to communicate with native applications on local machines
– Mass storage device detection: plug in your Flip camera or that USB stick you got as a gift at the last conference you attended, and AIR 2 applications will be able to detect them
– Open document API: with it, AIR apps can ‘ask’ the OS what the default application is associated with files and function accordingly
– Improved socket support: think AIR-powered local servers and P2P apps
– Speedier WebKit: updated version that includes a faster JavaScript engine and new HTML5/CSS3 capabilities

via Adobe Releases Flash Player 10.1 And AIR 2.0 – Both Include Multi-touch Support.

HTC release Hero kernel source code: modders rub hands with glee – SlashGear October 23, 2009

Posted by hruf in Mobile & Gadgets, Programming.
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HTC have quietly answered many Android developer’s prayers, and pushed out the kernel source code for the Hero smartphone.  Available to download now – though admittedly of little use to most of us – it opens up the potential for much more modification of the Hero with custom ROMs.

htc hero kernel source code 540x170

Since the Hero’s launch, Android developers have been pestering HTC for full access to its code. The release will likely mean we’ll see some of the more popular custom ROMs – which have in the past tweaked the GUI, brought elements of another manufacturers customization (such as MOTOBLUR) to rival devices, and increased stability faster than manufacturers themselves have been able to – showing up optimized for the Hero now.

via HTC release Hero kernel source code: modders rub hands with glee – SlashGear.

Twitter API getting location data August 21, 2009

Posted by andre in Internet & Communities, Programming.
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https://i1.wp.com/a0.twimg.com/a/1250809294/images/twitter_logo_header.pngBiz Stone from Twitter has announced that the service will soon get a new feature in its API: the capability to optionally put geolocation data into tweets.

Currently, geo-focused apps like Foursquare must hack location data into updates by linking them to Web pages. Once Twitter lets developers embed geo into tweets themselves, a new and interesting world for developers will likely open up.

As Stone says in his post, “For example, with accurate, tweet-level location data you could switch from reading the tweets of accounts you follow to reading tweets from anyone in your neighborhood or city–whether you follow them or not. It’s easy to imagine how this might be interesting at an event like a concert or even something more dramatic like an earthquake.”

By having the geodata available only to developers, though, and not via the general Twitter.com user interface, the company may also shift the economics of Twitter a bit. If geodata in tweets can only be written and read by apps and third-party Web services, those services will become even more valuable, possibly kicking off yet another round of Twitter client battles. […]

via Twitter API getting location data | Rafe’s Radar – CNET News

Make Your Own URL Shortening Service – url shorteners August 19, 2009

Posted by hruf in Internet & Communities, Programming.
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URL shortening services are ubiquitous on Twitter and other cramped online spaces. They won’t all last, as tr.im has demonstrated, and their shutdowns could annihilate your linking history. If you own a domain, though, you can host your own service.

Even if you consider the links you’ve shortened for Facebook, Twitter, IMs and other services to be just of-the-moment, nothing-serious items that aren’t worth backing up, leaving a host of dead links lingering around the net isn’t good for anybody, or anybody’s searches. There’s not a lot you can do about your already-posted social network links, but anyone who’s got $10 for a domain name registration, and a creative short URL idea, can host, monitor, and control their shortened links.

We’re going to run through a basic installation of Yourls, a server-based webapp that can run pretty much anywhere a WordPress installation can. There are lots of other options, which we’ll get to as well, but Yourls is a fairly smart and fast way to get up and running with your own URL shortener.


Will HTML 5 Break Apple’s Stranglehold on Apps? August 16, 2009

Posted by pannet in Mobile & Gadgets, Programming.
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It’s no secret that the iPhone App Store is a walled garden. Mobile platform developers like Apple have several ways to control what can run on their devices: Prohibit plug-ins like Flash, cripple the Java they run, or simply limit the installation process. But HTML 5, the next big standard for the web, will dramatically reduce this control by creating a new generation of web sites that look and feel like they’re iPhone apps.

Limiting what can run on a phone requires some degree of collusion among the device maker Nokia, HTC, the phone operator T-Mobile, Canada’s Rogers, and the application store itself. Many other mobile device makers have policies that are similar to, though less obvious than, Apple’s: Android doesn’t support Flash but it’s coming, for example, and has a special application for YouTube videos; and some carriers block Skype, location functions and streaming TV. The problem becomes much more noticeable when one company, like Apple, is both a platform and a service provider and co-develops features like Visual Voicemail with a single carrier.

HTML 5 is poised to change this. It’s rich enough to do all kinds of things within a browser that once required dedicated applications or plug-ins. Available in Firefox 3.5, and soon many other browsers, it allows advanced graphics (to rival Flash), real-time two-way streaming (including binary data) and audio. Every new feature in browsers chips away at the walled nature of the App Store because it makes web sites behave more and more like dedicated iPhone applications.

So when Apple removes an application, the affected company can rebuild on a web site using HTML 5, and deliver similar functionality. Just look at what Google said it would do when Voice was pulled from the App Store. This is one reason why the search giant is a strong proponent of HTML 5: As browsers get more powerful, mobile platform developers lose their stranglehold on the application market.

Apple and others face a difficult choice. They can embrace HTML 5 on mobile browsers, and lose their ability to constrain what applications can do. Or they can cripple their browsers, controlling what runs on their devices but delivering a second-rate surfing experience.

To keep up with the resulting arms race, mobile devices will have to inspect web page content or blacklist specific sites — rather than just blocking a plug-in or removing an app — in order to exclude certain applications. That’s a net neutrality nightmare: If the iPhone blocks voice.google.com, the Federal Trade Commission is sure to come calling. As a result, richer browsers may well tear down the garden walls — and chip at the enviable revenues — of companies like Apple.

Google releases Wave protocol implementation source code – Ars Technica July 28, 2009

Posted by pannet in Internet & Communities, Programming.
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[…] Google intends to open the source code of its own implementation in order to encourage widespread adoption of the protocol. The company took its first major steps in that direction on Friday by releasing the source code of its Operational Transform (OT) code and a simple client/server reference implementation that is built on top of the protocol. This code, which is available under the open source Apache Software License, will give developers a way to start experimenting with the protocol and potentially even building their own Wave-compatible services.

“To kickoff Federation Day, we open sourced two components: 1) the Operational Transform (OT) code and the underlying wave model, and 2) a basic client/server prototype that uses the wave protocol,” says an announcement in the official Google Wave developer blog. “The OT code is the heart and soul of the collaborative experience in Google Wave and we plan that code will evolve into the production-quality reference implementation,”[…]

Because of the complexity of Wave’s concurrency model, Google is concerned that third-party implementations of the underlying OT framework will not be able to interoperate correctly with each other. Google aims to provide a standard production-quality reference implementation that all adopters will be able to use in order to minimize the risk of inconsistent behavior. The company says that it will also provide comprehensive testing frameworks to help guarantee the compatibility of third-party implementations. […]

Wave is highly exciting technology with enormous potential. As the platform opens further, it’s likely that we will see Google’s Wave protocol reference implementation code repurposed in innovative ways and integrated with other independent services.

via Google releases Wave protocol implementation source code – Ars Technica.

Motorola launches MOTODEV studio for Android developers July 26, 2009

Posted by hruf in Mobile & Gadgets, Programming.
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Motorola really wants you to develop for Android handsets. More specifically, they really want you to develop for Motorola-made Android handsets. That’s why they’ve launched MOTODEV, an Android development resource for crackin’ out apps purposed for Motorola handsets.

It’s a two-part initiative, one seemingly a bit more exclusive than the other. If you can get into Motorola’s “App Accelerator Program”, they’ll set you up with early access to the tools and specs, pre-release handsets (for testing purposes), direct private access to Motorola’s Android crew, and some level of assistance in marketing your app. You’ll presumably have to prove you’re up to snuff – and, unless Moto is feelin’ lucky, sign an NDA.

The other, more accessible half of the program is the release of MOTODEV Studio, a development environment specifically tuned for development on Moto Android handsets.

Of course, this is all a bit null until Motorola actually releases an Android handset – but headstarts are always welcome. Plus, it gave Motorola a reason to draw a bunch of sweet-ass Android graphics like the ones above, not to mention this next one:


For more information on anything related to Motorola/Android dev, check out http://developer.motorola.com/

via Motorola launches MOTODEV studio for Android developers.