After much fanfare the Pebble smartwatch made the leap from fanciful concept to full-fledged product earlier this year, but now that units have started to ship and people have started to wear them, what’s Pebble’s next step?
Why, enticing developers, of course. Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky noted in a backer update video released earlier this morning that an early version of the smartwatch’s watchface SDK would be made available to would-be Pebble developers during the second week of April.
And when I say “early version,” I mean early version. At this stage it’s being looked at as more a proof-of-concept release than anything else, and Migicovsky points out that there’s a “99% chance” that the team will revamp some of the underlying APIs involved. What’s more, anyone expecting the ability to use the SDK preview to tap into the Pebble’s sensors and radios (like the accelerometer for tracking movement) will come away disappointed — the release is geared strictly toward new watchfaces, though Migicovsky says that games are also fair game as they rely mostly on button inputs.
The early SDK has been in testing with “hacker” backers — a group of about 100 people who pledged $ 235 or more for the privilege of early tinkering rights — for the past few months, and some of the apps they’ve created will be released alongside the SDK. The most notable new app? A low-res (and therefore faithful) reproduction of Snake that hearkens back to Nokia’s feature phone glory days.
Granted, new watchfaces may not seem like the most crucial addition even to Pebble buffs, but the impending release marks a pretty dramatic shift in scope for the Pebble team. What once started as a company whose daily operations were completely dictated by the need to manufacture and ship over $ 10 million worth of gadgets is now a company gearing up to focus on the next stage of the Pebble’s life cycle: building up the app ecosystem so the value of owning a Pebble extends beyond the wow factor of wearing a tiny e-paper display on your wrist. Migicovsky concedes that Pebble hasn’t “done the best job so far of communicating with developers,” but the team looks very willing to change that — hopefully a full-blown version of the SDK shows up sooner rather than later.
Mountain View’s mapping service is back on iOS, but Google’s cartography team isn’t content with launching a standalone app: it wants to worm its way into other developer’s apps, too. Leveraging a URL scheme, Google Maps’ iOS SDK allows developers to call up its own navigation application in favor of iOS 6′s offering. The SDK also demonstrates how to perform a quick check to make sure Google Maps is installed, allowing apps to default to Apple’s solution if it isn’t found. Developers looking for a more integrated solution can request access to API keys that will allow their apps to natively utilize Google’s cartography in 2D and 3D views. Its a subtle hand to play, but the update SDK gives developers more control over the experience they offer to users, a good thing, to be sure. Looking for access to the new API? Register your interest at Google’s developer site — its doling to access to qualified developers as API keys become available.
Editor’s note: Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research and writer for Engadget. Each column will look at crowdfunded products that have either met or missed their funding goals.
Like a Kickstarter campaign, Apple’s embrace of technologies tends to be an all-or-nothing affair. The company was early to support Wi-Fi and now supports Bluetooth throughout its product line. However, it has remained at an arm’s length from technologies, such as Blu-ray, DLNA, wireless charging and NFC. Apple VP Phil Schiller has said it’s not clear what NFC is good for. The answer: lots of things, mostly having to do with initiating different kinds of transactions, including payments and Wi-Fi transfers.
Some of those things should soon be possible with the aid of the Kickstarter project by Miami-based NFC wizards Flomio and its project FloJack. It’s not a device that enables you to track stolen boats with GPS. Rather, in the spirit of the Square credit card reader, it is a small white lollipop of a device that plugs into the headphone jack of mobile iOS or legacy Android mobile device and allows it to read and write data via NFC. The company has wisely avoided getting wrapped up in payments at this point, but it is supporting other NFC functionality, such as tag reading via Samsung’s TecTiles or its own similar Zapps.
The Flomio Kickstarter page includes a four-minute intro video that takes prospective backers through a cutesy “NFC party” in which iOS devices aren’t on the guest list, the standard CAD-drawing development segment and a concept “day in the life” where we see shoppers tapping FloJacks to access special deals. Still, the FloJack campaign started off slow, no doubt leading many backers to wistfully wonder, “Flomio, wherefore art thou?” The Kickstarter campaign has come down to the wire, with about $ 6,000 needed to reach the $ 80,0000 funding goal needed in the next 60 hours as of this writing.
When one breaks down the backers at this point, most have gone for either the $ 99 FloJack dev kit or the $ 49 FloJack pack for NFC enthusiasts. The real boost, though (half of the project’s funding), has come from three backers who have shelled out $ 10,000 each to have Flomio help them create NFC applications and a fourth who shelled out the same amount to have Flomio build them something while they take in a Miami Heat game and relax on the beach — nice work if you can get it done for you.
Like its longer-range radio brethren Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, NFC is best integrated not only into the casing of the phone, but into its operating system as well, which is exactly why Android and Windows Phone have taken that approach. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth USB sticks for laptops lacking those technologies proved that point, and the situation is even worse with a mobile phone, where a need for portability and personal style is at a premium.
Sweetening the deal and taking advantage of a Kickstarter campaign that enables owners to change rewards midstream, the clever Flomio team added a new option, the FloCase. This wraps a FloJack-style NFC reader/writer into an iPhone case. It makes for a far better solution in which you don’t have to be as concerned about the FloJack slipping out of or even breaking off in the headphone jack, which remains free for audio output.
Not only has Flomio been smart about its Kickstarter rules, but it’s also recognized that, for NFC to do anything, it must be supported with an SDK. Flomio’s works across platforms. However, at some point Apple will no doubt support NFC or something like it for transactions, and at that point Flomio will likely have to focus more on its own custom development work. Unil that time, though, developers may be willing to deal with a little protrusion from their iDevices in order to get a taste of at least some of the promise of NFC.Related Posts:
Microsoft put on a show for 2,500 developers at its Seattle headquarters last week, with a focus on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. It was the culmination of a huge launch period for the software giant, the biggest since Windows 95. After wooing crowds in New York with its Surface and Windows 8 launch, it was time to talk all things code and development at Build.
A massive outdoor tent, with an area equal to around 12 NBA basketball courts, set the stage for a week of developer sessions and a focus on what will be a crucial area for Microsoft: apps. CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the conference with a smile and free Surface and Windows Phone 8 devices for developers. “This is a lot of fun,” he remarked before joking about the weather in…
It’s no secret that Facebook saw FarmVille for iOS as writing on the wall: it had to either tap into mobile app revenue or risk losing income (and marketing-savvy developers) whenever someone left the web. Following a beta this summer, the company’s solution to its dilemma is now open to everyone. All developers on the social network can build ads that link from Facebook’s Android and iOS apps to either Google Play or the App Store — offering both an easy plug for their native apps and that all-important ad revenue for Facebook. The system currently takes a shotgun approach and may pitch social networkers for apps they already have or don’t want, but it should be refined in the next few months to where some curious purchasers won’t even have to leave Facebook to load that hot new title. Hopefully the increased recognition for mobile developers is worth sullying our once pristine news feeds.
As we approach the consumer release of Windows 8, Microsoft has made one final push to bring in developers by opening the Windows Store in 82 additional markets, including Argentina and Vietnam. Now developers from a total of 120 markets can submit and publish “Modern UI” apps created for the soon-to-be-released operating system. The company also introduced additional subscription programs: eligible MSDN members will get their Windows Store developer account fee waived for a year, students can enroll in the free Dreamspark program, while businesses are able to sign up for a BizSpark account.
With the release of Windows 8 set for October 26th, time is running short for developers who want to get in on the ground level. For those looking…
You’ve already got plenty of options if you’re in the market for a developer board, but it might be worth taking a look at the new $ 49 Cubieboard, which packs quite the specs given its price point. The board hosts a 1GHz AllWinner A10 Cortex A8 CPU with Mali-400 GPU, 1GB of RAM and 4 gigs of onboard storage. For ins and outs, you’re looking at 1080p HDMI, Ethernet, one MultiMediaCard (MMC) slot, a SATA port, two USB hosts, an IR sensor and 96 extender pins for solder junkies. Cubieboard’s Wiki page lists an additional MMC slot and USB OTG, but as this doesn’t check out in the pictures, we assume they’ve either been scrapped, or they’ll be added on for later production runs. As you would expect, several versions of Linux and Android are supported by the Raspberry Pi bully, which is expected to start shipping to select developers sometime this week. There’s no word on when it may be available for general consumption, but by then you’ll hopefully have a better product anyway — if the pros have done their job, that is.
Filed under: Misc
Microsoft is openly courting developers dumped in mass layoffs by cloud gaming service OnLive, hosting a mixer for potential hires at its Mountain View campus. “We are eager to speak to individuals and teams affected by the OnLive transition,” reads a description on events site EventBrite. “With the stunning success of Xbox/Kinect and the accelerated growth of this business, we are looking to add key players who want to make a real impact in creating groundbreaking new products and services.”
According to the company, positions are available both in Mountain View and at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington. The open call for talent is particularly interesting given Microsoft’s history with OnLive — an alleged company…
It’s taken just over a month for Nokia to get everything in place, but its now announced that around 50 “world-class imaging specialists” have joined Espoo’s already substantial mobile imaging department, alongside a stack of Scalado’s technologies and intellectual property. The imaging specialist’s co-founder, Sami Niemi, who will now head up the Capture and Relive section of Smart Devices at Nokia, said: “The technologies and competences we’ve developed should help move from taking photos to capturing memories and emotions.” (We’re sure those hulking PureView sensors will help too.) Take a look at Nokia’s brief statement on its future in mobile imaging after the break.