Monday, June 28, 2010

Mobile Apps or Mobile Web or both? -June 28th

By Andrew Frost

There’ve been some discussions recently about the relative benefits of applications that are created as native mobile apps (e.g. for iTunes, Ovi Store, Android Market etc) or applications that are deployed via the mobile web. Andrew Till commented on this discussion recently on our blog following the Open Mobile Summit conference at the end of May.

The obvious benefit to a web-based deployment is that anyone with an internet-connected device can access it. No longer are you bound to application stores or particular brands of device, you can create something that anyone (maybe even desktop users) can access. The downside though is that you’re unlikely to be able to leverage the full power and integration of each individual device, due to a number of factors such as the underlying browser engine (i.e. Webkit or something else), the data models implemented by the device vendor and any unique interaction models implemented on the device that you need to consider in order to deliver a consistent user experience. So while web-deployment will certainly remove a lot of challenges it will not, as yet, be able to address all the challenges and hence your application will be inherently limited.

A new development in this area (on mobile devices at least) is the release of Adobe’s Integrated Runtime (AIR) 2 which is going to be available on a number of different platforms, initially on Google Android. AIR 2 brings a number of benefits:

  • Includes the Flash Player 10.1 with the new developer features and enhancements, so it is simpler to create an application that runs both as a web-based application and as a native application on a disconnected mobile phone

  • Applications appear as native – so despite being created using Flash/MXML, they can be deployed from application portals and installed on a device as a native application.

  • Potential for extended integration. AIR 2 has APIs for accessing a device accelerometer as well as supporting gestures and multi-touch, and the likely integration is going to expand further.

This last area is one in which Teleca has a great deal of experience, extending the capability of the Flash Lite player on mobile and embedded devices to allow OEMs to use Flash content for much more than just games and utilities – enabling tight device integration and using Flash content for the whole device UI, for example. Using Flash and AIR 2 capabilities to provide home screens and UIs on platforms such as Android may help companies to quickly and easily differentiate their products.
Teleca are heavily involved in projects using Adobe’s new Flash Platform run-times including Flash Player 10.1 and Flash Lite 4 and have also created some demos using AIR 2. This is an area we are seeing a growing level of interest in from developers and we can expect more growth over the coming quarters.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

bada - Application interface, Part 3 (3) - June 17th

by Markus Gausling

The bada application interface
The interfaces for the native C++ applications are provided by the Framework Layer. Most of the interfaces provide quite standard functionality that you would expect on a modern platform. This includes support for messaging, 2D and 3D graphics (OpenGL ES 1.1, OpenGL ES 2.0 and EGL) or media playback and media capturing. Additionally UI controls to embed flash content, web content and maps are available. Those are based on the integrated Adobe Flash player and the WebKit browser.
Common device sensors are supported as well.

The interesting thing here is maybe that weather information is also provided as a special kind of sensor. The actual data is retrieved from an online weather service.Additionally bada provides build in face detection support for still images and movies.

One interesting group of interfaces is defined by the Social APIs which provides interfaces for social networks such as Twitter, Facebook or Flickr which are seamlessly integrated with the platforms PIM implementation.

The bada platform doesn’t directly communicate with those social networks but through an SNS gateway hosted by Samsung. This ensures that the client-side interface doesn’t depend on the actual interfaces provided by the Social Networks and that new services can be easily integrated. On the other hand this introduces Samsung as an additional intermediate entity.

Publishing application
Samsung bada applications are sold through the "Samsung Apps" store. Applications for bada devices can only be downloaded from the Samsung application store. They need to be approved by Samsung before. Application developers need to register at the Samsung App Seller Office. The App Seller Office verifies and validates the application prior to certification. Once the application was certified it can be sold through the Samsung Store.
According to Gartner ( Samsung is currently the number two mobile phone manufacturer in the world. Samsung claims to have sold 40,000,000 mobile phones with touch support and that a number of new models in 2010 will be shipped with bada. Based on these numbers it is clear that bada will gain a reasonable market share in the near future even with strong competitors such as Android, iPhone OS, Blackberry OS and not to forget Window Mobile and Symbian.
From a technical point of view bada seems to be a quite stable and mature platform with powerful and well designed interfaces for application developers. Especially the tight integration with social networks makes application development for such applications quite comfortable.

- Samsung Bada -
- Bada Developers pages
- Samsung S8500Wave -

Monday, June 14, 2010

bada - The new kid on the block, Part 2 (3) - June 14th

By Markus Gausling

Developing native C++ bada applications
An application is described by an application profile. The application profile is an XML manifest file that describes the application, the system requirements the application has towards the platform (like display resolution, memory etc.) and the API groups the applications uses.
Developers are divided into two levels of membership (Basic and Partner) and based on this level the access to platform interfaces will be granted. Developers of the category Basic e.g. cannot access interfaces which require system privileges.

Samsung provides an online tool, the Application Manager, to fill in the information about the application. The Application Manager will then generate a manifest file based on the given information. The manifest will also contain a unique ID for the application. Using the Application Manager requires a registration which is free.
Once the manifest file is available the actual application development can start. Native C++ applications can be developed using the SDK which was recently released as a beta version (1.0.0b2).

The SDK is based on Eclipse with the C/C++ Development Tools (CDT).
It contains an emulator, sample applications and tutorials and also a UI builder.
The SDK is only available for Microsoft Windows and can be downloaded at

Thursday, June 10, 2010

bada – The new kid on the block, part1(3) -June 10th

By Markus Gausling

On the World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona this year Samsung has announced the Samsung Wave (also known as Samsung S8500). The device is a new smartphone with a 3.3 inch Super AMOLED WVGA capacitive touch display that has a 5 megapixel camera. It can playback and record HD video with 1280x720 pixels and it supports the latest WLAN-n and Bluetooth 3.0 standards. The device is about to be available in stores any time now.

While this is already quite impressive the more interesting thing –for me as a developer- is that it is based on Samsungs new bada platform which was announced in Q4 of 2009 and where an application development SDK was released these days.

So what is bada then? bada is Korean and stands for ocean. It is a closed platform in the sense that Samsung owns and controls it. bada is not an open source platform and only intended to be shipped with Samsung devices. It has open interfaces for application developers though.

According to Samsung ( bada is already available for nearly 10 years and was shipped in a number of devices during that time. Designating it bada means it was enhanced with new features such as multi-touch, social APIs and a new UI.

The figure shows the four layers of the bada platform and the different types of applications that can run on bada.

The platform supports four kinds of applications:

  • Native C++ applications based on the interfaces provided by the Framework layer.
  • J2ME applications (MIPD 2.0)
  • Widgets based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript and executed by the platforms WebKit.
  • Flash app´s executed by an integrated Adobe Flash player or embedded into native applications.

The bada platform was designed to run on smartphone devices as well as on cheaper feature phones. To make this possible bada has a configurable kernel architecture which can be based on Linux as underlying OS or some other RTOS.

Follow this bada educational blog. Next chapter 2(3) is about Developing bada C++ apps.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ending of flat rate era? -June 2nd

By Andrew Till
Are we seeing the end of flat rate data or a More balanced Approach to Network Congestion?

Recently AT&T announced that it was ending it’s flat rate data plan in North America. No longer will consumer be able to user mobile internet services without concern for their month end bill. As of 7th June AT&T will offer 2 new pricing schemes to replace the flat rate data plan with $15 for 200MB and $30 for 2GBs.

Could this signal a trend away from flat rate data plans with a number of global operators adding more stringent Fair usage policies to their tariff offerings.
However it’s not all bad news as AT&T also recently announced free public WiFi access in New York in what maybe the start of a broader trend.
With new tablet devices like the iPad from Apple and Dell’s Streak device launching around the world this maybe a glimpse of the future with operators offering combined cellular and WiFi packages designed to address the issue of network congestion on the traditional mobile networks. This has been driven by the growth of smartphones but with many new device formats now also launching this issue is no longer one that can be ignored.

It’s going to be interesting to see if other operators follow AT&Ts lead and if this brings in a new age of connectivity management for mobile users. After all free WiFi services provided in conjunction with cellular data services will solve many users issues as trying to surf the internet on a congested HSDPA network is not a lot of fun.