Archive for the ‘dev’ tag
Developer James Rundquist has just unveiled Glass Nest, an app for Google Glass that will let you control your Nest home thermostat directly from your nerdy, nerdy face.
The future is here, and it belongs to white, male dorks. You heard it first here.
Nest is a highly automated “smart” thermostat made by the same folks who created the iPod.
And, in case you’ve been on a silent yoga retreat for the past year, Google Glass is the eponymous search company’s latest attempt to penetrate every aspect of your waking life. It’s a visor-shaped bit of hardware that places a small, clear screen at eyeball-level. You interact with it primarily via voice.
Using the Nest app, you can tell your Glass unit to change the temperature to N degrees and tell Nest when you’re going away or coming home, all the better to put your home temperature control system into or out of away mode.
Rundquist, a Georgia Institute of Technology student who warns this is not an official Nest or Google app, has opened the kimono on Github; feel free to fork the heck out of it.
Image credit: Jolie O’Dell/VentureBeat
Filed under: Dev
Foursquare and Gnip have entered into a partnership to fork over your checkin data to developers and big brands. Gnip will get access to Foursquare’s full firehose — every checkin, everywhere, everyone, and in real time.
Of course, the companies tell us all the data will be totally anonymized. And we have no reason not to believe that’s the case. After all, from a business point of view, it’s very expensive and not too profitable to spy on inidividuals; it may be vastly profitable to be able to predict crowd behavior, define mass trends, and measure what kinds of location-based offers have historically performed well.
“Location is one of the most interesting ways to view data and no one understands the power of location like Foursquare,” writes Gnip product manager Steve Perella on the company blog.
“With more than 35 million registered users, nearly 4 billion total check-ins, and over 75 million API calls a day, Foursquare is the location layer for the Internet, helping to connect people with places around the world.”
Realtime firehose access will give Gnip data about every checkin that happens on Foursquare. Gnip, which bundles and re-sells the data (mostly to big brands), will get the checkin information only (time, date, location); no user data (username, name) will be provided.
So, for example, Red Lobster could use Gnip’s Foursquare firehose to find out how many checkins happen at Red Lobster locations in San Francisco during Lobsterfest, but they couldn’t see who exactly was checking in. (This is so sadly hypothetical, if only because there are no Red Lobster locations in San Francisco. We oughta have a petition. Those biscuits, man.)
Foursquare data scientist Blake Shaw said in a statement, “We are capturing this amazing signal about what millions of people are doing in the real world at every moment of the day in cities all around the globe. We have seen that when we aggregate checkin patterns across many individuals, we can measure features of cities at a higher resolution than was ever possible before. I think this data can act almost like a microscope for cities.”
Image credit: jswaby/Flickr
Scott Forstall and his love of user interface elements that mimic the “real world” is long gone. Jony Ive, the design genius behind the iMac, iPhone, iPad, and pretty much everything Apple in the last decade, was appointed to overhaul and comprehensively redo Apple’s most important crown jewel in October of last year.
Now, it appears, he’s close to complete.
Ive has been leading a thorough revamp of the iPhone UI in preparation for the upcoming iOS 7 release, and according to 9to5 Mac, he’s also most done. The changes are significant, described as “black, white, and flat all over.”
That’s a massive change from the original colorful, shiny, semi-transparent iOS development language, which tries hard to make virtual controls and objects look and feel and act like real controls and objects. You see that today in the drop shadows behind icons, the compass interface of Find My iPhone, and the physical button-like Apple toggle controls:
Forstall, the former iPhone chief who was cut from the Apple team after refusing to apologize for the Apple Maps disaster, was a big fan of skeuomorphic design: design that connects the new to the old with decorative but — some might say — unnecessary elements.
Those “some” would include Ive.
Apple’s Notes app is an example of skeuomorphic design, with faux leather at the top and the virtual remnants of virtual torn-off pages at the top. On iPhone, iBooks, Find My Friends, and Newstand are examples, with with fake bookshelves, fake stitching, fake leather, and fake shadows.
For a designer like Jony Ive, who has spent his life stripping away excess, simplifying relentlessly, there is something inherently dishonest about skeuomorphic design. It’s something of a lie … because there is no wood in your iPhone, no dead animal skin on the screen, and no paper to be torn off. And, he’s been quoted as saying that software designs built with physical metaphors do not stand the test of time.
There are design elements in the iPhone’s user interface language that are already trending away from the original color and connection to material controls.
Safari and Mail, for instance, have no parchment, no leather, no torn-off page remnants:
There are no images yet of iOS7, which will be one of Apple’s most closely-guarded secrets up to WWDC. Changes reportedly include dropping the textured, cloth-like background of Notifications Center in favor of a flat grey, and the shiny, transparent lock screen will lose its luster for a flatter, less evocative interface. You would have to think that a detail-oriented design-obsessed Ive will have comprehensively altered the appearance of almost everything in the iOS design language, but we’ll know more on June 10 when Apple reveals it.
In all this rush to get rid of skeuomorphic design, there’s one thing to remember.
Perhaps the iPhone was so transformative, so new, and so different, that skeuomorphism was a necessary first step in the evolution of its design language. And perhaps the virtual has now become so real … that now we don’t need it anymore.
App recommendation engines are getting booted from Apple’s app store because they suck, according to a new player in the app-finding business. But Hooked Media has come up with an entirely new take on app recommendation that has two unique qualities.
One, it doesn’t suck. And two, it can’t be rejected by Apple.
“Obviously, app discovery is a problem on iOS and Android,” Hooked Media CEO Prita Uppal told me, thinking of the hundreds of thousands of apps on both platforms. “The key problem from Apple’s perspective was that no-one was solving the problem … they were just looking at opportunities to make money.”
Which is why Hooked Media chose to avoid simply relying on manual curation or social discovery, which is what most app recommendation engines use. Instead, Uppal says, Hooked Media generates app recommendations for its users that rely on no fewer than 46 independent factors, including time of day, day of the week, what apps you’ve installed, which you’re deleting, the sequence in which you use them, your demographic factors, and yes, some social factors as well.
A 30 percent uptick in installs based on Hooked Media recommendations … and 33 percent more play time on games downloaded in response to a recommendation.
And most of that is without the typical app-recommendation app that shows you the free games, highlighted apps, and deals of the day. Because instead of just being an app, Hooked Media provides an in-app app recommendation service that helps mobile developers monetize and get distribution.
In other words, a large part of Hooked Media’s app recommendations happen in other apps, in that moment you’ve just finished a level or played a game, and the app flashes up suggestions on other apps to download. But these are just paid ads, they’re personalized recommendations.
“We’ve built a partnership on both platforms,” Uppal says. “We’re helping companies that are already doing this do it better smart and more personal … and increasing conversion rates over 20 percent.”
In other words, because the app suggestions are more accurate, users who see them are more likely to actually download and use the suggested apps — and app developers are more likely to be able to monetize their app via other developers’ marketing incentives.
“We can dynamically pick the right set of apps for the right user,” says Uppal. “And the minute you add that predictive rating for users, it totally transforms it from being an ad unit to something that’s personal to me, which totally changes that experience.”
It also changes the definition of an app recommendation engine from an app to a cross-platform service that developers can embed in their own apps via an API. And therefore makes it virtually impossible for Apple to take action against Hooked Media, because it’s in thousands of apps — not just an easily isolated and targeted one.
Hooked Media, which has been making online game recommendation engines for years, spent a dedicated two and a half years building the technology behind the recommendations for mobile apps. That’s partly due to the many, many factors in Hooked’s complex algorithm, and partly due to the need to provide customized recommendations based on huge numbers of criteria in literally milliseconds.
The service won 25 million users in beta on Android, and app recommendation app that it built — partially as a proof of concept — was promoted by Google twice. That’s a far cry from Apple, which has been busy kicking app suggestion apps out of the store.
And while there’s good opportunity on iOS which Hooked Media is happy to serve via its API, Android is where there’s a “bigger opportunity,” according to Uppal.
That’s not really due to the fact that Android has more users and now has or shortly will have more apps. Rather, it’s due to the fact that the “app store” functionality is fractured on Android, with more than 200 Android app stores in existence, according to Hooked Media.
“The app discovery problem becomes even more challenging on Android — users don’t even know where to go,” Uppal says. “In the U.S., Google Play is definitely dominant, but outside the U.S., Google Play is very small.”
In Korea, Uppal told me, Google Play is only used by a fraction of Android smartphone owners. (That seems a little extreme, given the fact that Korea ranks number two in the country list for downloads on Google Play.) And, she pointed out, Verizon is soon coming out with its own store. Regardless of Korea’s status, the reality is that there is more diversity of app stores on Android, even in the U.S. (Amazon, anyone). Hooked Media, however, will seamlessly find the right app store to download the right app, dynamically.
The core point?
Hooked Media has build a platform, app store, and app agnostic app recommendation engine. It’s one that can’t be banned by Apple. And it’s one that benefits developers who are seeking monetization as well as those who are seeking distribution.
MENLO PARK, Calif. — Facebook is becoming a mobile app platform — and you’ll be able to use it even if you have no interest in building Facebook apps.
That’s driven partly by Facebook’s recent acquisition of Parse, a company that helps app developers by providing backend services such as database management, sync protocols, data serialization, and other technical issues.
But it also reflects Facebook’s changing view of itself as a platform spanning platforms of all kinds: mobile phones, tablets, the Web, and even Windows 8.
“We live in this world of heterogeneous devices. We’re trying to build a platform where third-party developers can create applications that span across all of those devices so they can really focus on people,” said Doug Purdy, an engineer who works on the Facebook platform, during a press briefing today.
Facebook acquired Parse on April 25 to bring its “mobile backend-as-a-service” (mBaaS, believe it or not) into Facebook’s developer platform.
One of the questions raised at the time was whether Parse would continue operating independently. It’s a mobile development tool, not a Facebook development tool, so some of its customers may be creating iOS or Android apps that don’t link into Facebook at all — and that’s OK, according to Facebook.
“Parse is not going away,” said Ilya Sukhar, Parse’s founder [above]. It is his fourth day working on the Facebook campus, so he acknowledged that he was still learning his way around the company. But he was quite clear on the future of Parse.
For instance, Parse currently supports Twitter for user authentication, and it will continue to support that, Sukhar said. “That’s not going away,” he said.
Additionally, all Parse services currently run on Amazon Web Services, and that’s not changing, either, despite that Facebook owns huge data centers of its own. And the pricing model won’t change: Parse will still offer a free tier, a $200/month tier for more serious users, and an enterprise tier for high-traffic customers.
All this should be quite reassuring to Parse’s current 80,000 developer customers, whose apps run on 200 million different devices, Sukhar said.
Naturally, Facebook hopes that mobile app developers integrate their apps with its platform, and many of them do. According to Purdy, 80 percent of the top-grossing iOS apps integrate with Facebook, and 70 percent of the top-grossing Android apps do, too.
The company is also encouraging developers to utilize Facebook as an app discovery tool. With 800,000 apps in each of the major mobile app stores, just getting noticed is a major challenge for devs. Facebook is building tools to help with that, starting with Facebook ads. Currently, if you click on an ad for an app within the Facebook iOS app, it takes you directly to the Apple App Store — without leaving the Facebook app — so you can install the advertised app.
Facebook has also made some tweaks to other parts of its platform. It’s splitting the “read and write” permissions that apps have to ask users for — so each app now has to get separate permissions from the end-user for reading their Facebook profile and friends list, and for posting to Facebook on their behalf. The change has been well received by end-users, according to Purdy.
And the company will soon enable Facebook apps to show up in Facebook Open Graph search results, something they don’t currently do.
“One of the things Parse does really well, and does it better than anyone in the world, is that it makes it really easy to create an iOS app and then move that to Android, move it to Windows Phone, and so on,” said Mike Vernal, another senior Facebook platform engineer (he was the lead engineer on the Facebook Connect project in 2008).
“We want it to be about people, and not the devices that they’re on.”
Photo: Ilya Sukhar, the founder of Parse, at the Facebook campus. Credit: Dylan Tweney/VentureBeat
All that’s missing are the streamers, balloons, and cheesy Best Price Ev-ah signs. Because the price competition between Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Rackspace is heating up so fast, the cloud market could be a massive virtual used car lot.
Google announced today that it is reducing the cost of its Google App Engine storage from $0.24/GB/month to $0.18 per gigabyte. App Engine operations pricing is also going down: Google is dropping database writes from $0.10 to $0.09 per 100,000 operations and reads from $0.07 to $0.06.
Google App Engine is a relative newcomer to the cloud market, having just recently started to get serious about supporting non-Google-used languages such as PHP – the programming language that runs 75 percent of the web.
But it’s already in massive use, with 4.5 trillion monthly transactions at 99.95 percent uptime.
Google is in bitter competition with Amazon Web Services, which reduced prices by about 28 percent a month ago, and Microsoft’s Azure, which just entered full public availability but is already a billion-dollar business and also just reduced prices by 21 to 33 percent. Rackspace, also a big cloud competitor, recently chopped its prices as well.
This new price decrease appears to match those from Amazon and Microsoft. The challenge, however, when evaluating cloud costs from multiple providers is that each vendor calculates costs somewhat differently, so it’s hard to get an apples to apples comparison.
Essentially, it’s become fairly obvious that cloud is a commodity, and the cheapest provider will win. The question is, can companies maintain excellent service levels while cutting pricing to the bone.
Days after finalizing a $1.1 billion Tumblr acquisition, Yahoo has bought yet another company.
PlayerScale, a cross-platform game infrastructure startup that provides tools for games played by 150 million users on platforms such as iOS and Android, announced the acquisition on its site today. And — unlike recent Yahoo acquisitions like Astrid, CEO Jesper Jensen said that the company would continue to operate as it has, supporting over 2,600 developers and 4,000 games.
In fact, he added, PlayerScale is adding 400,000 users a day.
“With Yahoo’s backing, we can crank out awesome products and improvements to our platform faster than ever before,” Jensen said.
That would be a major change from recent Yahoo acquisitions such as Stamped, OnTheAir, Snip.it, Alike, Summly, Jybe, and Astrid, all of which have been shuttered or put on notice. But it makes sense, given PlayerScale’s volume of business and growth rates.
And, presumably it makes sense given Yahoo has now signaled a move into casual gaming on iOS, Android, Facebook, the web, and even Xbox.
PlayerScale’s platform helps game developers with pretty much everything they need to make their game platform work, except the game itself. It includes payments, chat, analytics, virtual currencies, distributed caching, authentication, social sign-on, leaderboards, localization, and more.
Here’s CEO Jesper Jensen’s announcement in full:
Today is a great day — both in our journey with PlayerScale and for users of our Player.IO product. We are happy to announce the next big step toward our goal of building the best possible gaming infrastructure platform: we have been acquired by Yahoo!. And don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere. Our platform will continue to support the same great games that you love playing today … and in fact, it will only get better from here!
Our goal has always been to help developers build the best possible games, without having to worry about building and scaling the infrastructure required to operate today’s biggest successes. In working with the folks at Yahoo!, it has become clear that we share this passion.
We have spent the past four years growing a three-person startup into a product that powers games played by over 150 million people worldwide and we are adding over 400,000 new users every day. In the last four months alone, we have increased our daily user growth rate by almost sixty percent. With Yahoo!’s backing, we can crank out awesome products and improvements to our platform faster than ever before. We will continue to support our existing product and deliver new services to help you grow and manage your success in cross-platform gaming — whether it’s casual, social or mobile.
Today marks a milestone for PlayerScale and I want to sincerely thank the team, our developers and millions of users for the adventure so far and can promise there will be more to come.
- Jesper Jensen
Image credit: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat
PHP company Zend has just released the results of its annual developer survey. The exhaustive poll of 5,000 developers highlights a few interesting trends and one particularly heartening mobile web factoid.
Clearly, everyone and their dog is thinking mobile first these days. But what’s more interesting in the survey is that the majority of developers aren’t looking to iOS or Android to do so.
From a release on the report:
When asked how they intend to deliver content and services to their mobile audience, 79% of developers identified their intent to leverage web apps and open standards such as HTML5.
Of course, the devops trend marches onward with the increased need for efficiency in deployment. Zend’s results shows 87 percent of developers experience delays in moving their app from development to production, and a full 90 percent have worked weekends, vacations and holidays because of production emergencies.
Here are the results in a handy infographic form:
Image credit: Based on photo from ostill/Shutterstock
Filed under: Dev
The newborn was diagnosed with tracheobronchomalacia, a condition in which the airways collapse, not allowing oxygen to enter the lungs. That, tragically, caused repeated heart attacks … or, as the doctors said when writing up the case study for the New England Journal of Medicine, “ventilation that was sufficient to prevent recurring cardiopulmonary arrests could not be maintained.”
Doctors then printed a splint that is completely customized to the baby’s tracheal tubes, based on a “computed tomographic image of the patient’s airway.” It’s bioresorbable, made out of a material called polycaprolactone, so it will never need to be withdrawn and the baby’s body will just naturally absorb and discard the splint within three years.
But by that time, doctors say, the baby’s lungs and airways will have developed enough strength to stay open by themselves.
According to LiveScience, prior to 3-D printing lung splints were carved by hand. 3-D printed splints can be fabricated in a single day, however, and cost about a third as much.
After inserting the device, doctors kept the baby on a ventilator for 21 days, until the child was discharged from hospital. One year after the surgery, no “unforeseen problems related to the splint have arisen.”
“This case shows that high-resolution imaging, computer-aided design, and biomaterial three-dimensional printing together can facilitate the creation of implantable devices for conditions that are anatomically specific for a given patient.”
Worlds are shaking as the father of the Graphics Interchange Format, ye trusty old bitmap image standby for animated images on Cheezburger and Reddit and every where geeks wanna have fun, says it’s pronounced JIF, not GIF.
“It’s pronounced JIF, not GIF.” ~ Steve Wilhite, the father of GIFs. Well that’s settled. #Webbys
— Brian A. Hernandez (@BAHjournalist) May 22, 2013
Steve Wilhite invented the venerable image format in 1987 for CompuServe, the first commercial online service in the United States. It supports a not-very-staggering 8-bit color palette, although it can go higher, and uses a loss-less data compression algorithm to reduce file size without degrading quality.
And according to Wikipidia, the creator’s “intended pronunciation deliberately echoes the American peanut butter brand, Jif … although an “alternative pronunciation with a hard ‘G’ … is in widespread usage.”
Response has been varying, but true believers on the side of right and justice and the American way have bravely stepped up to the plate to correct this horrific wrong:
@bahjournalist i don’t want to hear these communist lies
— Trevor Harmon (@maelstrommusics) May 22, 2013
@bahjournalist totally still disagree…even if he did make it. Graphic. Not jraphic. If I made apple and called it ahpple…no dice.
— Jarred Rowe (@JarredRowe) May 22, 2013
Unfortunately, the forces of evil are strong, and they have music on their side. Jonathan Mann, who has been making a “song of the day” for an astonishing 1,602 days, has made a song about the controversy which is mildly amusing, even if completely wrong-headed:
Take it back, Wilhite … or give back the award!