Mobile app

What’s New in Android O, Arriving Summer 2017

Google I/O 2017 keynote is in the books, and as usual, Google showed us a preview of the latest version of Android. Codenamed O, the next iteration of Google’s mobile operating system is coming this summer, but you can get your hands on the beta right now. Here are the best features you’ll see when it drops.

Just like with Android N, Google is offering a formal beta program for Android O. Device support for this build is much smaller than it was for the N preview, however, with only a handful of units being eligible:

  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 5X
  • Google Pixel
  • Google Pixel XL
  • Nexus Player
  • Pixel C

If you have any of those devices, you can jump in on the beta here. A word of caution, however: I do not recommend using this if it’s your only phone. This is very much a beta and not meant for daily use. You have been warned.

Not so brave? Here’s a list of what you’ll get when Android O drops this summer.

Fluid Experiences

Google is bringing a new set of features to Android O that it calls “Fluid Experiences”. It includes Picture in Picture, Notification Dots, Autofill, and Smart Text Selection. Here’s a brief look at each one.

Picture in Picture Puts One App Above Another

In Android Nougat (7.x), we got the ability to run two apps on the screen at once with Multi-window. While a super useful feature in its own right, it’s not always best solution. So with O, Google is bringing Picture in Picture mode to the small screen. This will let users open an app in the foreground, while keeping something like a YouTube video running in a smaller window on top. The early implementation looks really solid so far.

Notification Dots Let You Know What Apps Have Notifications

If you’ve ever used something like Nova Launcher that has built-in notification “badges,” then you already know what Notification Dots are all about. Basically, this a quick way to see pending notifications (aside from using the notification bar, of course) on home screen icons. Unfortunately, they are exactly what the name suggests: dots. Not numbers or anything of the sort. It’s also unclear if these will work in the app drawer as well.

One cool thing about Notification Dots is the long-press action. With the long-press features introduced with Pixel Launcher, you are able to do more with home screen icons, and Notification Dots takes this a step further by allowing you to actually see the notification by long-pressing the icon. It’s rad.

Autofill Passwords in Apps

Chrome has had autofill features for a long time—be it passwords or form data. Now that feature is coming to Android apps as well. For example, if Chrome has your Twitter or Facebook login credentials saved, the app will autofill and login on your Android phone. This is a feature that’s way overdue, and I’m so glad to see it coming front and center in Android O.

Smart Text Selection Gives You Context-Aware Shortcuts

Google Assistant arrives on iPhone

At its I/O 2017 developer conference today, Google announced Google Assistant is coming to iOS today as a standalone app, rolling out to the U.S. first. Until now, the only way iPhone users could access Google Assistant was through Allo, the Google messaging app nobody uses.

Scott Huffman, vice president of Google Assistant engineering, made the announcement onstage. He also revealed that Google Assistant is already available on over 100 million Android devices. That’s Google’s way of hinting to developers that they should start building for the tool.

Huffman also added that Google Assistant is becoming available in more languages on both Android and iOS (it’s still English-only today). Support for French, German, Brazilian-Portuguese, and Japanese is coming later this summer while Italian, Spanish, and Korean will be available by the…

China’s Tencent overshoots Q1 estimates with 58% profit jump

Above: Visitors use their smartphones underneath the logo of Tencent at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing on May 6, 2014.

(Reuters) — Tencent Holdings Ltd, China’s biggest gaming and social media firm by revenue, overshot estimates to post a 58 percent rise in first quarter profit on Wednesday, aided by strong growth in gaming and digital payments.

The results represent Tencent’s highest quarterly profit growth in 2-1/2 years, reaching 14.3 billion yuan ($2.08 billion) for the quarter. That was above a median forecast for a 13.2 billion yuan profit from eight analysts polled by Reuters.

The firm, Asia’s most valuable company with a market value of $316 billion, has sought to boost profits this year by expanding the use of its payments app, WeChat Pay, among local and international merchants. It wants to provide services for every shop owner in China within two years.

It has also diversified its gaming portfolio and expanded new business lines, including cloud and artificial intelligence.

Quarterly revenue was 49.5 billion yuan,…

How to Set Up the Netgear Arlo Pro Camera System

If you like the idea of a security camera that’s completely wireless in every way, Netgear’s Arlo Pro system is one to consider. Here’s how to set it up and begin keeping tabs on your home while you’re away.

Wi-Fi cameras have their issues—at least when compared to wired cameras—but they certainly offer easier installation. One thing that separates the Arlo Pro from other Wi-Fi cameras is that it’s battery-powered, meaning you don’t need to plug it into an outlet to stream and record video. Most other Wi-Fi cams need to be connected to some kind of power source, even though they connect via Wi-Fi to transmit the data.

Arlo Pro also uses its own central hub (called the Base Station), to which all of your Arlo cameras connect. This is because the cameras use Z-Wave to communicate wirelessly, rather than Wi-Fi like most other consumer-based security cameras (such as the Nest Cam). Because of that, Arlo cameras need to connect to the Base Station, which in turn communicates with your home’s Wi-Fi network.

2017 “Top Home Security”
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Step One: Download and Set Up the Arlo App

Even though you have to use the Base Station, the setup process is pretty painless and only takes about 10 minutes. To start off, download the Arlo app to your smartphone. It’s a free app that’s available for iPhone and Android devices.

Next, open up the app and tap the “New to Arlo” button.

On the next screen, select which Arlo product you’re setting up. In this case, it’s the “Arlo Wire-Free.”

The app then tells you to install the Arlo Base Station hub. To do this, plug one end of the included Ethernet cable into the Base Station and the other end into a free Ethernet port on your router. Plug in the power cord, and then press the “On-Off button next to the power connector on the back of the hub.

Once you’ve got the Base Station set up, hit “Continue” in the app.

Wait for the hub to power up. The app automatically searches for the hub on your network.

Design with a mobile user in mind with this cross platform training — pay what you want

mobile user

It seems like a small issue, but when a website that looks fine on your laptop looks like a disjointed mess when viewed on a mobile device… well, the problems are obvious. Scalability is a major consideration for any web developer, so learn the ways of cleaning up your mobile presentation with a complete Mobile Cross Platform Development Bundle.

And right now, you can pick up this full 106 hours of instruction from TNW Deals for basically any price you want to pay.

When you commit to paying anything at all for this training, you’ll automatically get full access to the Learn Mobile App Development with Ionic Framework course, which introduces you to an open source library of mobile-friendly programming features that will look great and work great, regardless of your platform.

While Ionic Framework is worth the price alone, there’s still plenty more…

Stack Overflow launches apps to let you ask idiotic programming questions on the move

Stack Overflow launches apps to let you ask idiotic programming questions on the move

Stack Overflow is an incredible resource. I don’t know anyone who works as a developer — or has successfully passed their Computer Science degree — without faithfully consulting it. It doesn’t matter how obscure your problem is, or indeed, how obvious it is – Stack Overflow has your back.

This app analyses your text messages to tell if someone’s into you

Image: ambar del moral / mashable

Text messages are the currency of modern-day courtship. But, when the texts start to become scarce, many of us search for signs of a relationship’s demise.

Instead of passing around your phone over brunch with friends, how about getting an app to overthink and analyse your text messages for you? Crushh is an algorithm-driven app that reads your text messages and — according to its creator — can interpret how much the other person likes you and detect any possible shifts in a relationship.

Creator Es Lee says the idea for the app came when he was sitting in a park with a “confused” friend who was new to the New York City dating scene. “He’d gone on a date that he thought had gone really well, but the woman hadn’t responded to his last text,” says Lee.

“I flipped through the text exchange and I could tell that she liked him from the ‘body language’ displayed in the texts. But that hadn’t been too obvious to my friend,” he continued. This textual body language refers to the punctuation, emoji and language used in a text, as well as the frequency of the messages and the time it takes to respond.

Lee decided to convert this analysis into an algorithm that works in a similar way to a human brain, minus the memory problems. The app takes the role of a friend and decodes text message chains using data and algorithms developed from analyzing more than 200,000 relationships and consulting with sociologists, psychologists and dating experts, says Lee.

To use the app, you need to select a contact and specify your relationship to that person. It then analyses your text messages already in your phone.

Image: rachel thompson / mashable

The app analyses sentiment, punctuation, emoji usage as well as…

You can no longer download Netflix on rooted Android phones

Image: mashable / brittany herbert

If you’re an Android user with a rooted phone — there’s bad news for you.

Netflix may no longer work on your rooted or unlocked device, due to an update to the app. Netflix now fully relies on Google’s Widevine DRM, the company told Android Police. The change comes not long after Netflix enabled downloads for offline…

Microsoft’s Apps Problem Has Never Been More Dire

At Microsoft’s Build conference, the dorkiest of companies put on a big show, complete with fog machines and fancy lights, in order to show it’s a cool competitor to Apple and Google. The speakers who came on stage during keynotes had stylish hair. “Do they have dressers backstage?” an attendee asked a group of us when it was all over.

Build exists to get developers excited. The biggest devs blow upwards of $2000 for a three-day pass to the event, where they have unlimited drinks, plentiful meals, and access to Microsoft’s best and brightest. Part of Microsoft’s wooing process involves appearing “hip” to a group of developers who resemble the cast of Silicon Valley in all the worst ways. Hence the light show and Microsoft EVP Terry Myerson’s questionable hoodie and leather vest combo. It wants these devs so amped that they’ll rush back to their MacBook Airs and Surface Books to crank out brilliant software, hopefully for Microsoft’s Windows Store, which has just one third of the apps of much cooler stores from Google and Apple.

With the arrival of Windows 10 S, which can only use apps from the Windows Store, the app marketplace has never been more important than today. Yet time after time over the course of the event, Microsoft dropped the ball on its pitch to developers in favor of niche distractions.

Apple’s a monolith of money and users, and thanks to Android and Chrome OS, Google is right there with it. Both have OS platforms with heavily used app stores. They’ve built customer bases of hungry fans that enthusiastically embrace their hardware and software products, and consequently, developers want to build apps that work with Apple and Google platforms.

Microsoft, on the other hand, can’t seem to ditch the buttoned-up association it’s developed for making the work computer you don’t want to use. Its reputation is seemingly forever cemented by those old Mac vs PC commercials. Attempts to rewrite the script have been met with mixed success. On the hardware side, Microsoft has become a genuine player in the field of coveted kit. The Surface Pro and Studio are ambitious devices that are legitimately exciting. The Surface Laptop announced earlier this month is one of the most interesting products announced so far this year.

But Microsoft’s software landscape is still dorktown and one of the big ways Microsoft’s attempting to undorkify things is by leaning into the Windows Store. There’s a problem though. Microsoft’s app store in uncommonly small compared to the other guys. According to Microsoft, in 2015 there were just 669,000 apps available. (The company hasn’t officially updated that number since.) According to Statista Apple and Google both have more than three times that number of apps available in their stores.

The number of available apps alone doesn’t necessarily dictate the quality of someone’s computing experience, but…

What to consider when parsing through your Parse alternatives

What to consider when parsing through your Parse alternatives

At the conclusion of January, Facebook had officially shuttered Parse, disabling the API on an app by app basis.

As a Backend as a Service (BaaS) product, the development platform provided SDKs and APIs that allowed developers to quickly build their apps without having to build a backend from scratch. Facebook did’t present much insight into the motivation to shut down the platform. But Parse’s customers, following the 2013 acquisition, comprised heavily of small to medium sized developers that had a lower propensity to spend.

While Facebook was burdened with having to answer to post-IPO investor concerns about desktop growth plateauing and uncertain mobile revenue, the Parse acquisition was a quick fix, helping secure Facebook’s grasp on widespread mobile adoption.

Despite Parse being the backend backbone for 60,000+ apps at the time of the acquisition, Parse, like many low-cost BaaS solutions, had limitations for businesses and developers who wanted to scale their app. Amazon, Microsoft and Google, who acquired Firebase afterwards, all followed Facebook’s suit, but aggressively doubled down on maximizing the assets in their developer platforms, while Facebook stood pat with Parse after accomplishing what they needed to do to establish their mobile adoption.

Realizing the peak of “mBaas”

The resulting shutdown of Parse should be viewed as a wakeup call to developers that a BaaS solution alone cannot be a long-term choice for sustainable digital, mobile and progressive web businesses.

The 2016 announcement of the shutdown gave developers time to find alternative solutions to migrate their applications. While a BaaS solution facilitates a quick time to market, API-centric development, and innovation, the drawbacks have become more evident.

  • Business data is more likely to be exposed on a cloud-based shared database. Customers starting to value data privacy more will be turned off by a solution that can be exposed with the vulnerabilities of a shared database.
  • As a business grows, extending the backend will be difficult because of the limitations BaaS offers for individual solutions. This will become a concern if your business needs to extend the…