Google I/O 2013 is entering day two in San Francisco and a Google Glass developer session is happening right now. The focus is on the current Mirror API, which allows for online, web services-based apps that push simple content to the headset. This enables current apps like the New York Times. But, the Mirror API is quite limited, allowing only online apps and not providing any direct access to the Glass hardware. That’s changing, though, with Google announcing the Glass Developer Kit, or GDK. This will allow for Android apps that run directly on the Glass hardware, providing much greater functionality and offline access. When is it coming? “Sometime in the future” is the best we’re able to get.
Microsoft’s efforts to build out the app ecosystem for Windows Phone 8 appear to be reaching a plateau. Buried in today’s announcement of the Nokia Lumia 928 for Verizon was the fact that the Windows Phone Store now has 145,000 apps, up only slightly from the 120,000 apps announced in October. The figures suggest momentum has slowed after the Windows Phone catalog doubled in size over the first half of last year. And it raises the question of whether developers are shying away from a platform that is still struggling to catch on in North America.
Nokia has given its Series 40-based range of touchscreen Asha smartphones another push to try to keep up with the low end reach of Google’s Android platform today. The mobile maker has announced a new addition to the range — the Asha 501 (pictured left & below) — which also ushers in a new version of the Asha touch UI that’s designed to be quicker and slicker, and has a focus on swiping gestures to make it feel more fluid.
The three-inch capacitive screen Asha 501, which has Wi-Fi but no 3G and costs $ 99 before taxes & subsidies, is expected to start shipping in June, via some 60 carriers in more than 90 countries worldwide. Nokia’s Asha range typically targets emerging markets in Africa, Asia and South America but Asha devices have also been ranged in Europe.
Although Nokia has retired its other in-house platform Symbian, to concentrate its smartphone efforts on Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, it has continued to expand its portfolio of low end Android alternative S40-based devices — adding in a variety of new hardware and software features to devices in the range, including full Qwerty keyboards; dedicated keys for Facebook/WhatsApp; refreshed industrial design; its Bluetooth sharing technology Slam; its Xpress browser to lighten the data consumption load; preloaded social networking apps; free games downloads; and a focus on long battery life.
But keeping up with low end Androids also means improving Asha’s usability — and that’s what its latest platform refresh is all about. The Asha 501 is in fact the first fruit of Nokia’s 2012 acquisition of Smarterphone, a Norwegian company that made mobile OSes for feature phones designed to give them smartphone looks and capabilities.
Nokia said the new Asha platform is faster and more responsive. It also introduces a touchscreen UI refresh — with a dual homescreen view: the Home screen is a “traditional icon-based view for launching individual apps or accessing a specific feature”, while the new Fastlane view changes based on device usage, showing things like “recently accessed contacts, social networks and apps”.
Fastlane “provides a record of how the phone is used, giving people a glimpse of their past, present and future activity, and helping them multi-task by providing easy access to their favorite features”, according to Nokia’s press release. The feature sounds a lot like certain portions of Motorola’s Android skinning software — such as the widgets deployed on 2012 devices like the Motorola Motosmart.
The overall idea of the design refresh is to make it easier for Asha users to get to the apps and features they’re after, according to Nokia – with the two main screens accessible by a “simple swipe”. ”Fastlane is integral to the whole Nokia Asha 501 experience, but so is the ‘swipe’ motion,” a spokeswoman told TechCrunch. “With swipe as you experience it on the device, we were able to make optimal use of screen space, so you see just what you need. You swipe to everything else, including pull-down menus and of course, Fastlane. The whole user experience is faster and more responsive.”New Asha, New Apps
So what about apps? The new Asha platform does require developers to rework apps for it — either by writing them afresh or porting them over. Which does mean Nokia is pushing the reset button yet again, but the company would probably argue that at this price point with these price-conscious consumers, users aren’t expecting hoards of apps — just select key apps. It’s also added in-app purchases to the new Asha platform, offering developers a new way to monetise Asha apps, along with its Nokia Advertising Exchange and carrier billing network.
“A good percentage of existing apps can be ported to the new platform,” said Nokia’s spokeswoman. “We already have many developers working on this. Going forward and with the new Nokia Asha Software Development Kit, developers can write an app once, and it will be compatible with future devices also built on the new Asha platform, with no need to re-write code.”
Apps that are already available for the new Nokia Asha platform include CNN, eBuddy, ESPN, Facebook, Foursquare, Line, LinkedIn, Nimbuzz, Pictelligent, The Weather Channel, Twitter, WeChat, World of Red Bull and games from Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Indiagames, Namco Bandai and Reliance Games. Nokia said its HERE location software will also be available as a download, starting in Q3 this year — and will “initially include basic mapping services”.
Messaging giant WhatsApp is noticeably absent from the list but Nokia’s spokeswoman suggested that may change in future, noting: “WhatsApp and other key partners continue to explore new Asha.”
In select markets, certain carriers are also offering data-free access to apps including the Facebook app and mobile website on the 501 for a limited time, offering another hook for the target cost-conscious consumers.
The 501 comes preloaded with Nokia’s cloud-based data compressing Xpress browser. Nokia has also created a new web app, called Nokia Xpress Now, which ”recommends content based on location, preferences and trending topics”. It said this will be available via the Browser homepage or as a download from the Nokia Store.
“Nokia has surpassed expectations of what’s achievable in the sub-100 USD phone category with a new Asha handset that is unlike any other, with design cues from Lumia and a mix of features, services and affordability that is valued by price-conscious buyers,” said Neil Mawston, executive director, Global Wireless Practice, Strategy Analytics, in a supporting statement.
Commenting on the launch via Twitter, Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi added: “Asha 501 shows what you can achieve when you design bottom up rather than strip down features to hit the right price point.
“Asha 501 Dual SIM with hot swap very important to users but what is most striking on this device is the user interface.”
The full device specifications for the Asha 501 are as follows:
Dimensions: 99.2 x 58 x 12.1 mm; 98 grams
Camera: 3.2 MP
Single SIM standby time: up to 48 days
Dual SIM standby time: up to 26 days
Talk time: up to 17 hours
Additional memory of 4GB (card included in box), expandable up to 32GB
Forty free EA Games worth €75 downloadable from Nokia Store
Available colours: Bright Red, Bright Green, Cyan, Yellow, White and Black
Suggested pricing is 99 USD before taxes and subsidies.
Question by Allan: Can android apps easily be transformed into Iphone adds and the other way around? I’m wondering if I made an android app.. would it be easy to transform it to work on Iphones.. or would I need to program it from the ground again?
Answer by TimGenerally speaking – No, it’s not easy unless you planned from the start for portability.
iOS and Android do a lot of the same stuff in similar sort of ways, but the fundamentals of the languages and interface design structure is different enough the porting native apps has to basically be done from scratch. Lots of projects online have tried to find ways around this, for example you can code a simpler app as a web app and use cross-platform frameworks like PhoneGap. And note that different types of app pose different problems for porting, for example OpenGL ES is basically the same libraries in C and Java but the differences in language and objects will change how you organize things.
The best approach is to plan ahead. For new app projects it often makes sense to scale down and focus on one platform initially (iOS usually has the greatest potential for return), but you want to keep portability an option in how you choose to organize and code the app from the initial architectural and design stages.
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Get ready to say goodbye to another another batch of Yahoo products at the end of this month. As the company continues to streamline and focus its services, March 31st will be the last day of stand-alone existence for Upcoming, Yahoo Deals, Yahoo Kids, Yahoo SMS Alerts, Yahoo Mail and Messages for feature phones. Noting an aim to slim down to roughly 15 offerings from 75, as The Register points out, this follows a few weeks after the company nixed other services like its BlackBerry app. Additionally, if you’ve been hanging onto the old version of Yahoo! mail, you’ll have no choice but to switch to the new version by June 3rd. Yahoo! There’s not word on what we can expect next, although EVP of Platforms Jay Rossiter notes that cuts like these are needed so it can focus on the likes of its new Mail and Weather apps. You’ll find the details for each cut at the source link.
Filed under: Internet
Via: The Register
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Question by Anonymous: Everyone says android has more free apps then the app store is this true? I checked some apps and the prices are the same or more expensive on android. Trying to decide between iPhone and android, and don’t feel like paying for new apps, especialy ones I own with the app store… Does android suck?
Answer by TomIf you have enough money to purchase a iPhone with a contract you have enough dollars to waste on some apps. Android operating system is far more interesting than Apple and no updating your PC every two weeks. Stop window shopping and make a commitment.
What do you think? Answer below!Related Posts:
Recent moves by LinkedIn — including its acquisition of Pulse — suggested its eye was towards becoming a center of its users universe for much more than simple networking or job hunting, and its latest mobile updates continue on that path. Updates arriving today on the iOS and Android platforms are redesigned for more “delightful interactions” throughout the app. That means a shift of focus to the news stream, including conversations, updates from your network and of course, advertisements. Check after the break for a quick video demo of the new features or hit the blog for a description — whether it’s enough to overtake Twitter, Facebook or something else for your social dashboard remains to be decided.
Question by William: How Java much do you need to know in order to start developing Android Apps? I am currently learning Java ( started 2 months ago) and I am wondering how much Java knowledge do you need to get in order to start developing Android Apps using Eclipse ? Do I need to give myself 6 months or maybe 1 year studying java before staring Android? Thanks for your suggestions.
Answer by BobDepends on what you are creating.
Eclipse is free, so I suggest is that you download it and see. If you know how to write the app and put it in a class/jar, you don’t have far to go.
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While there are a number of unofficial BBC News apps, one in particular has caught the attention of the British broadcaster. Lawrence Gripper, a technical account manager at Microsoft, has been forced to remove his BBC News app from the Windows Phone and Windows 8 app stores. Describing the apps as a “labor of love,” Gripper revealed the removal of the apps on his personal blog. “It is with great sadness today that I removed both applications from the store.”
Gripper developed both of the applications, that provide access to BBC News articles, before joining Microsoft — although the company encourages employees to build apps. They’re still available temporarily, and a number of other unofficial BBC apps remain listed in the Windows…