Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Great UX boost brand loyalty -November 29th.

By Magnus Ingelsten

Consumer experiences are what make a difference, whether it’s is going to a restaurant, on holiday, driving a car, using your home media centre or your new tablet. It’s long been proven by Apple’s products and understood by also many restaurants. Steve Jobs once said “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” So we cannot assume that users will look past a poor user experience to see the quality beneath. Because they will certainly not.

UX includes the whole journey. It covers everything from the new product demo, how you enjoe the feel of the box, how you open it, the user documentation, the device in your hand, sensing the keys and the ease in which you switch it on & set it up. The user interface must be easy, logical, automatically localized and personalized. The visual impact must be compelling, attractive and so much fun that you don’t want to stop playing with the device.

Why and how has this trend become the single most important competitive factor? Can we blame Apple? Since their first Macintosh debuted 1984 based on its Natural User Interface (NUI), their devices have been selling on user experience, which includes industrial design and problem-free usage. In almost every product category where Jobs led Apple he upset the status quo. Before the iMac, people accepted that computers came in beige or grey, arrived in multiple pieces and took hours to set-up. Jobs’ product integrated everything into a single device. Set-up was so simple that users only had to plug in the power cord to a single unit which people were proud to display at their homes.

The iPhone swept away design conventions by being the first to omit all but one of the physical buttons from the face of the phone, abstracting the interface elements into a software UI. Crucially, Jobs team emphasized on delivering the best user experience for music, video, web browsing and email, allowing them to scrap the legacy rulebook created for standard voice phones. Yes, it was such a revoulution that the market for other MP3 players/media players was instantly gone. Almost.

And since 2008 there has been a 100% increase on Google Trends for "the User experience industry."

This has been fully recognised since a few years by us at Teleca and we can help you by applying creativity, experience, consumer behaviour and full execution of UX and UI projects. Anything on your mind? Our UX design teams will take on your challenge.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Qt Developer Days in Munich -Nov.15

By Toni Nikkanen

Qt Developer Days, hosted by Nokia Qt Development Frameworks 24.-26th of October 2011 in Munich, Germany, was an event packed with developers, exhibitors and expectations.

The Tuesday morning keynote session was hosted by Alexandra Leisse, Qt's Web Community Manager. The first keynote speaker was Marco Argenti, Nokia's SVP of Developer Experience. His main message was that despite the strategic shift to Windows Phone, Qt continues to be important for Nokia and Nokia developers: over 100 million Qt phones have been shipped (Symbian, N9) with millions more still going to ship, and 90M apps are downloaded from the Nokia Store every day. What I would have liked to hear is how much money developers are making with Qt apps on Nokia Store right now.

"Qt for the next billion" was given as the reason why Qt will continue to matter for Nokia in the future: Nokia will make affordable phones that will have apps, and Qt is at the centre of this plan. Unfortunately this was not further elaborated. For the credibility of Qt, Nokia should communicate their future Qt plans more clearly. With Qt 4.8 being the last version of Qt for Symbian, some people even asked does this mean Qt 5 will be irrelevant for the mobile device sector? The answer was that Qt 5 will be very important for Nokia's mobile device plans, but they simply can't speak openly about it for now. My guess is that the planned release schedule (first half of 2012) for Qt 5 will coincide with product releases from Nokia.

Argenti also said Nokia has finally addressed the lack of Qt on Windows Phones, having released porting guides both from Qt to Windows Phone, but also from Windows Phone to Qt.

The major next steps for Qt will be the 1H 2012 release of Qt 5, and the move to Open Governance. Qt 5 will introduce several new features and improvements, such as increased modularity, small footprint, major upgrade of Qt Quick to version 2.0 with 10 major new features, an all-new graphics stack, and moving all platforms to use the QPA (Qt Platform Abstraction) system. On platforms with OpenGL (ES) support, the new graphics stack will perform about 2.5x fast as Qt 4.x, which could enable apps written using Qt to perform well on less powerful devices than currently possible. Open Governance means Qt is now developed entirely in the open, with collaboration and contributions welcomed.
Picture: Jari Saarhelo at Teleca being interviewed on NFC solutions.

After the keynotes it was time to head for the technical sessions. I gained lots of useful information on topics such as optimizing Qt Quick apps, Qt Quick 3D, persistent object storage for Qt Quick, and Qt on Android. It was intriguing to see how far the Qt for Android project has gotten to and that it is actually quite easy to make and sell a Qt app on the Android Market. And I was glad to find out how little rocket science or college math you need to remember in order to take advantage of 3D graphics using Qt Quick 3D.

I also browsed through the exhibitions and noted that while a lot of the exhibitors were Nokia subcontractors or partners, there were also many companies that have no other tie to Nokia other than that they use Qt, or offer services related to Qt. Qt wasn't an all-Nokia show before Nokia's acquisition of Trolltech in 2008, and today it still isn't. Qt always was, and still is, first and foremost a high-quality cross-platform application development framework with Nokia platforms being just one out of many possible platforms you can target with it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Automotive - IVI, a focus item at Frankfurt motor show, September 19th

By Roger Hampel

The automotive industry presents itself in good mood at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. More than 1000 exhibitors from 32 different countries are displaying their latest developments. The number of visitors after just two days of public opening is 10% above reference figures from 2009 and a total of 800.000 visitors are expected this year. As our visit was limited to one day, we didn’t embark on a test ride with one of the 200+ models available for driving, though for sure it would have been a lot of fun to race along one of the short and narrow tracks that numerous manufacturers had prepared at the show.

Notably, a big topic at this year’s show is electromobility. As consumers are more and more looking for fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly cars, all major brands are showing either hybrid or electric models. Telematics services are considered to be of particular interest to owners of electric vehicles.

Next generation In-vehicle infotainment is also a big topic at the show and solutions range from fully integrated infotainment modules featuring internet access, maps, streaming media and innovative ways of interaction such as gesture control and head-up displays for the premium segment down to innovative solutions of using a tablet PC as center stack touch control and display, especially targeting the cost-sensitive IVI market for electric vehicles. Android is widely considered for aftermarket IVI solutions due to its superior functionality, but only plays a minor role for in-dash solutions.

Within our newly established Automotive Business Unit, Teleca is already engaged in building next generation In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems. Expect to see some of the products that have been enabled by Teleca at Frankfurt Motor Show 2013. See you there!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

We get our great articles in the press -September 7th

By Krishna Kumar

It is great to proudly announce that two of my articles have appeared today in The Economic Times, and Deccan Herald;

Article 1 - The new Telecom Policy lags practice [The Economic Times, Editorial page, page 16, Co-authored with Dr Sridhar]. The article discusses about issues of roaming in 3G and Broadband Wireless Access services for data services; benchmark initiatives in the European Union on data roaming regulation; recent market developments in this area; initiatives on spectrum re- farming and spectrum sharing without appropriate policies; hence the need to legitimize these initiatives. Link to article»

Article 2 - Take charge & go-ahead! It is your career [Deccan Herald, Avenues supplement]. This article tries to look at some of the beliefs and practical aspects of career planning. Organizations can only play a supportive role. Among other things, longevity in an organization and focusing on soft skills would certainly provide the right impetus for growth. Link to article»

I hope you enjoy reading!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Will mobile apps sing new tune? July 28th

By G Krishna Kumar

Not too far in the future, HTML5 could share platform space in the mobile apps market.

Remember the frenzy created by the mobile phone game “Angry Birds”, which was first launched on Apple's mobile operating system, iOS? Not only is the game available on leading mobile platforms now, thanks to its popularity, but also, the usage of words “Angry” or “Birds” in other application names has increased manifold over the past one year, states Distimo, a company that studies the mobile applications market.

In general, every time ‘a cool application' is available on Apple's application store, the immediate response from a non-Apple smartphone or tablet user is to check whether the same application is available with the Android Market Place, OVI store or Windows Market Place.

Wouldn't it be great to see an application on all platforms at once? But before we look for answers, let's first take a quick look at the global business opportunity for mobile applications.

Is the market Big enough?

According to Gartner, globally, mobile application store revenue is projected to surpass $15.1 billion in 2011, both from end-users buying applications, and applications themselves generating advertising revenue for their developers. By 2014, the revenue is expected to touch over $58 billion.

Worldwide, mobile application store downloads are forecast to reach 17.7 billion downloads in 2011 and by the end of 2014, Gartner forecasts that over 185 billion applications will have been downloaded from mobile application stores. Free downloads are forecast to account for 81 per cent of total mobile application store downloads in 2011.

A study by Zokem, provider of mobile analytics, reveals that in smartphones, the share of application usage is overwhelming — it achieves almost six times more face time than web browsing.

In tablets, however, the difference is not so significant with 39 per cent of face time allocated to web browser and 61 per cent to applications. Studies have revealed that two-thirds of smartphone usage go into non-voice call-related activities.

With tablets gaining momentum and device users willing to pay for high-quality applications, the applications market will remain upbeat over the foreseeable future. Due to the opportunity size, developers and application stores are under pressure to create the best user experience and to provide quickest time-to-market.

Native Applications route

As of now, the traditional approach to application development for smartphones and tablet devices is to use the native Application Development route. This means applications are developed separately for iPhone, or on Google's Android platform.

Such custom-built applications utilise all the functionalities and capabilities of the device and provide excellent user experience. However, the biggest drawback is the cost involved due to extremely low reusability of software code.

Just imagine trying to develop the same application from scratch for four different platforms.

Zokem's March 2011 report indicates that email, gaming and music content are consumed more using native applications.

There are quite a few cloud-based application builders or application-creators that enable developers to create applications on multiple platforms/devices at once.

However, these app-creators don't exploit the platform-specific functionalities and are unable to match the rich user experience as compared with the native applications.

The app creator/builder market is nascent with many more trying to tap this space. This generic ‘create-once and run anywhere' is not hugely successful as yet. Is this going to change dramatically with the advent of HTML5?


HTML5 is the fifth generation of Hyper Text Markup Language, the popular web standard. Technology industry leaders such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and hardware manufacturers support it. There is expectation that HTML5 will be the “true” multi-platform application development technology.

HTML5 would enable browser-based applications and also stand-alone applications, including off-line applications. It supports multimedia content through video and audio tag, location-based information using Geo Location APIs (application program interface) and can also access the native platform.

With browser being the core of HTML5, applications can work on “any” platform or device, including PC, smartphone or tablet, with minimal device-specific changes for stand-alone applications. That would mean a huge cost saving, compared with the native applications.

Currently, Flash is the undisputed leader for multimedia support on browsers. However, the HTML5 ecosystem is gaining momentum.

For example, WebM, an open source project, has been created to provide rich multimedia user experience on the Web. YouTube supports WebM in addition to its existing formats as part of its HTML5 experiment. Among other aspects, WebM is aimed at supporting low computational footprint to enable playback on hand-held devices.

HTML5 would be welcomed by publishing companies. Financial Times, for instance, recently announced an HTML5-based application to attract digital subscribers.

Though, there are not many mobile applications based on it as yet, HTML5 is an evolving technology. McKinsey estimates that more than 50 per cent of all mobile applications will switch to HTML5 within three to five years.

HTML5 would be a clear winner in the web/cloud intensive mobile application space, while native applications would lead the computation-intensive contexts. Essentially, HTML5 and native applications are poised to co-exist over the foreseeable future!

(The author is Director – Engineering, Teleca Software Solutions India. Views are personal.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mobile commerce awaits a rural destiny in India July 21st

By G Krishna Kumar

How do you like the idea of paying bus fare by just flashing your mobile phone before the Conductor? The mobile phone, using a technology called Near field communication (NFC), communicates with a device in the bus and the amount is debited from your bank account.

NFC is gaining popularity across the world and is set to revolutionise mobile commerce. Though NFC is in nascent stages in India, it may hold the key to make mobile commerce popular in the country.

Early this year Bharti Airtel launched prepaid cash cards in India, the Airtel Money service. The service, which allows customers to use their mobile phones to make payments, is now available in Gurgaon and Airtel plans to launch it across the country.

Mobile commerce is quite popular in the West and research shows that 91 per cent of UK consumers use it. But in India it is yet to take off. Debit cards, which the mobile money can potentially replace, are easier to carry and help you draw cash. Mobile money providers typically charge transaction and subscription fee and face the challenging task of ensuring universal acceptability of their ‘money’. The law also limits the amount of money which can be transacted through mobiles.

A recent Forrester report expects global m-commerce to reach $31 billion by 2016. For that to happen rural areas may have to step in, in a big way.

Approximately 72 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to be “unbanked”. The mobile phone, which is becoming ubiquitous even in the developing countries, offers an excellent platform to take banking to them. Studies suggest that an increase in the banked population has a direct correlation to increased GDP and reduced poverty.

Kenya has emerged as a leader in mobile banking system with M-PESA, which was launched in 2007 by Safaricom, a mobile Operator. M-PESA is an SMS based, branch-less system that allows individuals to deposit, send and withdraw money using their mobile phone. M-PESA has over 14 Million customers, representing 60 per cent of the adult population.

Pakistan’s Easy Paisa, Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank’s Mobile money are among other initiatives trying to replicate M-PESA’s success.

In India, regulators like RBI and TRAI, several banks, mobile service providers and phone makers are joining hands to take m-commerce to the “unbanked” population.

Eko, a mobile banking technology provider, has tied up with SBI and ICICI banks. It helps people create a bank account and perform basic transactions at local Kirana shops.

Idea Cellular has a similar partnership with Axis Bank. Subscribers would be able to open ‘No-frills savings bank accounts’ at Idea’s retail outlets and avail basic banking services such as cash deposit, withdrawal and transfer. Idea is currently offering the remittance facility in the Dharavi-Allahabad corridor. There have been similar initiatives from Vodafone and Bharti Airtel as well.

Fifty-two per cent of India’s adult population does not have access to any form of formal financial services. With the rising tele-density there is good potential for business.

According to the latest BCG report, the projected fee-based revenue from mobile commerce could exceed $4.5 billion by 2015 in India. This revenue would be shared by banks, mobile service providers and device manufacturers.

A major bottle-neck in mobile commerce in rural areas lies in meeting the Know-your-customer (KYC) norms. Kenya’s National ID system, eliminated the need for KYC norms and played a key role in M-PESA’s success. That is precisely the role India’s Aadhar project is planning to play. If it succeeds, mobile commerce would get a big boost. But to really make it happen banks and telcos have to build awareness among people by promoting it aggressively.

(The writer is Director-Engineering at Teleca Software Solutions India. Views expressed are personal)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Microsoft Partner conf -Is cloud the answer? July 14th

By Jari Saarhelo

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference Los Angeles – July 10th – 14th

The conference this year gathered a huge audience of 15 000 visitors to listen to the latest and greatest developments from Microsoft. A great line-up of executives from Microsoft, their partners and customers was present. It was all about cloud computing with Azure and succeeding together with the partners.

Migrating to cloud can bring huge productivity gains, whether it is Microsoft’s Azure or Amazon cloud or something else. Some of the key benefits are:

Instant access to a worldwide back-end infrastructure. Cloud computing removes the lead time required to setup a back-end system. The infrastructure is there and you can start leveraging that as soon as your software is ready to do that. A traditional up-front investment is replaced with operating costs, which occur only when you are already running a billable service.

Pay only for capacity used. There is no need to commit to a certain amount of back-end capacity in advance. Instead, you can instantly expand the capacity, if the need should occur, which means that you can respond much better to the real needs of your customers. The whole capacity planning problem of the traditional back-end systems is removed – before cloud if you reserved too much capacity you had an extra cost, if you reserved too little, you had dissatisfied customers.

Availability and scalability. You don’t need to organize and manage hosting and worry about availability and scalability of your system – it is there and works.

Cloud services reduce the barrier of entry and the cost for offering a global service, which means that there will be lots of new cloud enabled applications coming to the market. The small and medium sized enterprises will be able to enter a market, which was practically closed for them before.

And you? If you are not using cloud right now, I bet you are in a year from now.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Inside to tablets and new technologies; QNX and more -July 1st

By Sergey Priporov

There was a “silent” event in Q1 2011 which was almost missed in press releases.
RIM announced the start of shipment of the Tablet device based on new Tablet OS (based on QNX). You can say that there are many new tablet devices are coming from different manufactures each quarter and this device is small part of this world. Of course in terms of numbers it's a small part. However I would like you to pay much more attention on this event.

The reason is that this tablet device introduces completely new technologies on mobile devices horizon. The new technologies are not new in IT domain in embedded systems but they are new for mobile devices. New staff is derived from QNX core OS components which can change mobile devices capabilities dramatically. It will not be applied to Tablet devices only. As we can guess RIM will move all mobile devices portfolio to this new core OS since RIM acquired QNX.

The key new QNX technologies for mobile devices are as follows:

- Micro-kernel design targeted for hard real-time execution environment support
- Transparent task to task communications based on universal SW messaging bus
- Fault tolerance support, embedded into the system based on address space isolation on threads level
- Real Time multitasking
- Incredible Scalability (from simple controllers to entire Airport Control system (London Heathrow Airport LHR)
- Transparent embedded SMP support for multi-core solutions
- Certified POSIX PSE52 Real-time Controller 1003.13-2003
- Certified IEC 61508 Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL 3)
Let’s try to understand how it may impact future of mobile devices world.
- Micro kernel architecture and messaging bus provide very good scalability of core components and allow creating products in all diapasons of costs such as low-end, mid-tier cell phones, smart phones, and tablet devices.

- Hard Real-time support capabilities of QNX OS allow platform to provide real multitasking.

- Transparent task to task communications and SMP allow developers to create product for multi-core HW variants without code changes in system components

- Since QNX supports transparent task to task communications on kernel level, all devices under QNX can be considered as one cluster if devices has any type of connection into some network (cell network for example or Wi-Fi network or Ethernet)

- Transparent task to task communications allows developers to create new type of connectivity between devices when resources of one device can be shared with another one device transparently without code changes and extra protocol stacks using for communications.

- Real multitasking and resource management will allow developers to create devices with multiple displays, cameras without heroic efforts to do it (such as present in Android / Linux space)

- Any SW component in QNX can be replaced on fly, includes drivers. (No changes and rebuild for kernel procedures required). It allows simplifying SW update procedures and new components adding in production devices shipped on the market already. New external peripherals support can be added easy. It means that device capabilities can be incrementally increased during life cycle. This process can be planned by marketing teams

- QNX can execute few Applications execution environment frameworks such as Android, AIR, QT, and QNX native Apps. It means that device can be as chameleon device with dynamic UI change on fly by user demand. It can be downloadable as a UI packages.

- QNX is certified to support critical Applications in many areas such as Medicine, Automotive, and Military etc. It means that QNX allows developers to cross reuse services. For example Android Apps can work safely in car controllers. The exercises with boot time optimization are not necessary for QNX as it is for Linux.

- SW development process and H/W bring up phases for manufactories can be simplified.
Target board can be shared between few developers to work on SW debugging. QNX deployed on PC work station, and PC will communicate with QNX deployed on Target board transparently in multi – user mode. Derivers can be reloaded on Target board as necessary on fly. QNX on target board will not have crashes due to SW component failure because it’s designed this way.

- No fragmentation on platform level

The list of new capabilities of the mobile devices under QNX is not limited by bullets above.

In case if RIM makes smooth transition of SW development environment from legacy
Technology to QNX for all devices in portfolio, it gives RIM huge advantage to become a winner in long term. The process of SW Development environment transition from legacy platform to the new one is not easy and it is not quick process. Main hidden stopper here from my point of view is the mind of SW development community at RIM to understand advantages of new capabilities. The direct reuse of legacy code from old platform will not give good result.
Architect team need to apply appropriate approach to SW Architecture redesign to use advantages of new technologies.

There is one more technology acquired by RIM is new UI conception and execution environment from TAT. The size of this blog is limited to discuss this component and its advantages for new platform

No one from big players list can support the capabilities of QNX going forward. I mean Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola etc. They missed this platform when selection.

The main task for RIM is to smartly map QNX capabilities to product portfolio creation in long term. If they do, than RIM will be a winner, no doubts!

What do you think?

P. S.

a) Teleca as service company has to help in eliminating the hidden stopper (defined above) to help to deploy new powerful RIM services based on QNX. It looks that the Android framework execution optimization on top of QNX is very promising thing for a start.

b) Apple will try to keep market and grow ecosystem but the company will do it different way which is not really innovation. It’s reuse of initial innovation and attempt to make stopper for competitors. Some indication is below.

Apple picks up key smart phone patent; cleared for Nortel bid
PCMag.com reports that Apple has been granted a “long sought-after patent” which was said to be “so broad and far-reaching that the iPhone maker may be able to bully other smartphone manufacturers out of the US entirely.” While the details of the patent are complex, PCMag said that one legal source had said that it “essentially gives it ownership of the capacitive multitouch interface the company pioneered with its iPhone.” This could lead to lawsuits involving a range of smartphone vendors including HTC, Samsung, Motorola, RIM and Nokia. But it also cited Florian Mueller, an intellectual property activist, who said that an Apple action would only be successful if the alleged infringement implemented Apple’s patented technology wholesale – not if rivals are able to show demonstrable differences between user interfaces. The validity of the patent could also be challenged.
Separately, it was reported that the US Department of Justice has given approval to Apple to bid on the patent portfolio of failed networking giant Nortel Networks. The company is set to come up against tough competition for the intellectual property, which is set to take place next week, with Google, Ericsson and Intel also believed to be in the race.

c) Mobile devices core components were based on proprietary OSs. Since ~2005 Open Source conception started to change world here. But in reality Open Source conception didn’t introduce new technologies related to embedded systems such as configurability, reliability, real-time critical applications support, performance, fault tolerance. Open Source conception just introduced new technology to make money by Service companies to tailor “Free of cost” software for Manufactories to reach product quality in particular variant of (fragmented) platform.

So, the race is not over, it i more dynamic than ever and we will se innovation continue to be the competitive factor in this war.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Open Mobile Summit London -June 27th

By Robert Kempf

The hope for the 3rd ecosystem and partnering for success.

This year’s Open Mobile Summit in London at June 10th was an exciting event with a great line-up of executives from the mobile devices, operator, publishing, banking and content industry. It was again all about the very dynamic changes in the value chain and the implications on monetization points and strategies.

With companies who made a winning bet given the changing industry dynamics, through emerging players trying to find their spot and highly challenged established players a broad range of different perspectives were given. Some of the highlights and trends are summarized below:

Operators: success through partnering. Though there is still high focus on a branded service experience, leveraging and customizing existing solutions including the content is seen as the most promising route forward. This partnering model will allow for a better risk and reward model creating a win:win for operators and service/content providers and will at the same time increase the ability to not only act as a bit pipe for operators .

Nokia: It is all about creating the 3rd ecosystem. Stephen Elop was evangelizing that besides Apple and Android, Nokia sees space for a 3rd major ecosystem called Windows Phone. Though the presentation was excellent and all key ingredients for creating a successful ecosystem where addressed, the analyst community present at Open Mobile Summit was quite pessimistic about the success changes given the planned timing for the first phone launches and the trends in the other major ecosystems around Apple and Android. Also the rumors of Nokia being acquired by Microsoft, Samsung or other players was a discussion point again.

Mobile Payment: Mobile wallet is coming. There was no doubt about mobile wallet being now adopted on a larger scale though there were different estimations in terms of adoption rate. With major operators, financial institutions and core technology providers backing and pushing mobile payment using NFC and other technologies the year 2012 is seen as the inflection point of mass adoption.

Multiscreen: Content portability across screens. The evolution of modern user interface and application frameworks, not only limited to Flash technology or HTML5, will make multi-screen experience a commodity in the near futures. Content will not be optimized for a single screen size, but will support all types of screens and form factors. Support of different MMI methodologies for different types of devices and specifics on screen layout to adopt for the multitude of form factors will required education of developers and further invest in the operating systems.

Mobile Advertising: Going to the next level. As for private TV, advertising is and will remain one of the main monetization points in the connected devices space. The key trend is from a rather dumb placement of ads in applications and web to an increasingly tailored and customized approach of placing ads meeting end user demand. Besides preferences, behavior and position also the dimension of time will be used more and more to trigger commerce.

Operating systems: Apple, Android – that’s it? Surprisingly the discussions outside the Apple camp did focus only on Android and there was not much discussion around QNX/RIM, Symbian, WebOS or Windows Phone. OEMs seem to be quite satisfied with the freedom they have with Android based on the panel discussion with SonyEricsson, Motorola and LGE participation. There was no sense of fears in the OEM community that Google will significantly change the Android licensing model or will restrict OEMs in their freedom to differentiate. Also interesting to note that no other rising star in the mobile operating space was identified – so seems Android will be around for some time still.

Applications: Native versus WebApps again. The native versus Web application discussion will be ongoing forever, as there are many pros and cons for both which should lead to the conclusion that both are needed. Also at the Open Mobile Summit the discussions were along these lines. Though HTML5 and other technologies enrich the capabilities for Web applications and extend the number of native applications that can now be implemented as Web applications, there is still a large space for native implementations especially when it comes to performance and security critical use cases. The trend towards WebApps will continue at the cost of native applications, but there is no sign that native apps will go away soon.

Outside of these main trends the Angry Birds success story presented by their Mighty Eagle Peter Vesterbacka was an entertaining as well as very insightful experience. Besides the very long way they had to go before coding this number one hit, their ability to monetize on Angry Birds outside the mobile games field got quite some attention. Besides t-shirts and toys we will see other gadgets, comics and animated movies for the Angry Birds fans. So it is all about building and monetizing on a brand…

Thursday, June 23, 2011

NFC Technology all set for take off -June 23rd

By Sonali Mishra

The Near Field Communications (NFC) market is just beginning to gain traction and is set to expand rapidly as more and more firms start to embrace this solution. Ignited by support from key wireless players, such as Nokia, Google and mobile operators, global usage of near field communication (NFC) technology in mobile devices is expected to begin an explosive growth phase.

NFC In the Real World- Moving Beyond Payments
Now the question arises what use cases can this technology provide us beyond payments? NFC , puts a chip in devices, like cell phones, that makes it possible to, not only use your phone to make purchases in a store, but ultimately replace a lot of other things you normally carry around in your wallet. NFC-enabled phones have the potential to replace the card for getting into your hotel room, your business card, your public transportation (i.e bus, train) card, concert, sports or other event tickets, your boarding pass for getting on a plane.

NFC tags have already reached a price point where it is feasible to print off batches of NFC stickers that enable users to create special ‘short cuts’ that make their lives easier. For example, when a child gets home from school, he or she could touch an NFC sticker just inside the door that sends an ‘I’m home from school’ message to a parent. Older people with poor sight or suffering from arthritis could have NFC stickers containing friends’ and family members’ phone numbers saved on them – these could be stuck to the corners of photographs of these people and, when touched with an NFC-enabled phone, would initiate a phone call to the right person, without the need to look up phone numbers or use the keypad.

Another key use case is setting up secure connections between devices. For example at Google IO there was a demonstration of using NFC for mobile gaming. When one Android device has launched a game if it touches another NFC Android device it will establish a Bluetooth link and launch the game on the second device thus removing a lot of complexity for the user.

Using a peer to peer scenario, NFC can also be used to sync devices, share mobile apps with your friends (e.g gifting the latest must have game) and transfer photos between cameras, smartphones or tablets.

Another key aspect for NFC is speed. Using NFC simplifies data exchange and for payments can significantly reduce waiting times. This aspect alone is likely to be a key driver of consumer adoption in many markets.

NFC-enabled handset shipments to boom, says IHS iSuppli
The decision by three major US wireless carriers to partner with leading credit card companies on a mobile commerce initiative will boost the market for embedded payment technology in cell phones,helping global shipments of handsets with near field communication (NFC) technology to rise to nearly 550 million units by 2015,according to IHS iSuppli. AT&T,Verizon and T-Mobile recently announced that they would work with Visa and MasterCard on their Isis joint venture,which was established to form a nationwide infrastructure for NFC-enabled mobile payments using mobile handsets in the US. The original Isis JV did not include the two largest US credit card companies.

NFC deployment will be service driven, not a technology push
NFC is a broad and complex ecosystem –new services, new opportunities, intersection of multiple industries. Google is working on both ends of the NFC ecosystem. As highlighted above it has already implemented NFc in it’s mobile OS and plans for further use cases to be developed. Payment, P2P sharing, access and ticketing via NFC phones are the first applications; others, especially for consumer electronics, will follow. Building the NFC ecosystem requires cooperation among the stakeholders and that’s the purpose of NFC forum founded by Philips,Nokia and Sony.
UK's four leading mobile networks Orange, O2, T Mobile and Vodafone have announced plans to create a joint venture company that will deliver the technology required for the speedy adoption of mobile wallet and payments. Currently people take their mobile, wallet and keys when they leave home. In the near future, it is expected that people will start leaving their wallet at home, and in the midterm their keys may also be integrated into their mobile as NFC allows the mobile to act as a digital access card. The joint venture is the next phase in realizing that ambition.

Clearly NFC is just at the beginning of a journey but it will be a journey that further enriches the consumer experience and one that will also quicken the convergence between the mobile, consumer electronics and automotive industries.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Telematics Update – An Exciting Glimpse In To the Future Of In-Car Entertainment -June 13th

By Andrew Till

Last week I attended the Telematics Update Detroit event focused on the latest developments and trends in the automotive market. It was a great place to take the pulse of the market and to see just how quickly the automotive market is now evolving. Here are a few of my key highlights and takeaways from the event:

The pace of change is accelerating rapidly as the industry moves from talking about connected services to implementing them.
The Human Machine Interface (HMI) challenge is significant and will probably be the biggest challenge for companies bring next generation IVI systems to market. The challenge of delivering a wide range of services without overly complicating the user experience is far from trivial.
Bringing applications in to the in car environment will be a major challenge if driver distraction is to be avoided. Expect controlled / managed “wall gardens” for application deployment certainly to the main in-dash display.
The OS landscape will continue to evolve rapidly with GenIVI, the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and Windows Auto 7 all seeking to challenge QNX. However it’s clear QNX has no intent of surrendering it’s market lead and is aggressively driving forward with the development of its OS and the implementation of many new innovations (The next generation experience being demonstrated in a very nice Corvette clearly shows that QNX is not being complacent).
Advances in processor technology and the ability to support multiple independent displays will drive a whole new set, of as yet undefined, services in the car.
While Infotainment is important the traditional telematics solutions for Driver Assistance remain highly important for consumers and amongst the most desired feature – certainly according to data presented in the opening keynote by GartnerGroup.
On-Board navigation solutions are likely to experience a revival, if price points can be managed down, if they are fully integrated with other services within the car.
Expect cloud services to also play a key role moving forwards as they will provide a bridge between in car and out of car experiences for consumers.
It was certainly an exciting show and one appears the rapid changes taking place in the industry. It’s not just the technology that is changing but also the development cycles and the structure of the value chain in order to enable greater innovation and faster times to market (for example QNX highlighted an IVI development that had taken little over a year from start to final delivery). With most of the discussion being about model years 2013 and 2014 it certainly appears that within the next 3-4 years the vast majority of cars will be enabled with both connectivity and advanced entertainment options.

So aside from keeping my children happy this should present a compelling and new market opportunity for application and content vendors to further expand their addressable market as well as ISV who will find new opportunities to leverage developments from other industries in to the automotive market especially as the market starts to embrace the concept of rear screens supporting live connected services that are independent from the main in-dash display.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Do you know bitcoin? -June 10th

By Markus Gausling

Today’s blog is maybe a little bit off-topic but seems to be a quite interesting topic anyway. Have you ever heard of bitcoin?
Bitcoin is the „first decentralized digital currency“ [2]) which implements a Peer-to-Peer electronic cash system. It was proposed and initially implemented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 ([3]) and was designed as a system which is based on cryptographic proof rather than on trust. As such there is no need for intermediate trusted third parties and as such transactions are free of charge.
A bitcoin itself is a digital coin that is a created by solving complex mathematical issues. Those problems are solved by a network of computers that have the open source bitcoin software installed. You should not expect to be able to generate bitcoins with a standard PC using the bitcoin software.
Newly generated bitcoins are distributed randomly among the contributors of CPU power in the network, depending on how much CPU power and processing time a network node contributed. The amount of bitcoins that is distributed among the contributors is limited and decreases over time which should prevent inflation and furthermore lead to deflation if bitcoins become more popular. In May 2011 more than 6 million bitcoins exist and it is expected that in 2033 the maximum number of bitcoins is generated.
The process of generating bitcoins itself is called “mining”.

Users can have their bitcoins stored on a computer in a “wallet file” or can have them stored at a “wallet service” provided by a 3rd party. The wallet contains a public and a private key which is used to sign the bitcoin and identify who owns the bitcoin. Personal user data are not stored in the bitcoins and as such transactions with bitcoin are anonymous.
A transactions with a bitcoin is executed between two peers (hence P2P) that have the bitcoin software installed. In the process of a transaction the digital signature of the new owner of the bitcoin is added to the bitcoin and the formerly store signature is removed which means that the bitcoin has changed ownership. Additionally the timestamp of the transaction is added as hash value to the bitcoin.
The transaction is validated by the network and the bitcoin is then stored in the network. Adding the transaction data to a bitcoin and storing this information in the network guarantees that bitcoins cannot be spent multiple times or by users who don’t own them.

Where can I use bitcoins?
Bitcoins are already in use today and are accepted by some organizations such as the Free Software Foundation. Also there are already shops available in the internet that accept bitcoins, e.g. to buy online games, gifts, server space or the like.
There are even web pages available today that exchange bitcoins into real money. The current market value of a bitcoin can be seen at [5].

So what is bitcoin then? Is it just a used nice idea used by some hackers or is this the new ideal global currency which makes transactions more secure, truly global and independent from the influence of banks and governments? Is it even dangerous and will allow anonymous, untraceable and free transactions also for illegal purposes?
Well I don’t know but maybe it is a little bit of all. A number of security experts have analyzed the bitcoin concept and have found no vulnerabilities. Googling for bitcoin results in more than 3.5 million hits and the fact that you can exchange bitcoins into real money shows that this topic has already some focus.

[1] bitcoin.org - http://www.bitcoin.org/
[2] weusecoins - http://www.weusecoins.com/
[3] Satoshi Nakamoto - Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System - http://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
[4] Wikipedia on bitcoins - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin
[5] Bitcoin Charts - http://bitcoincharts.com/markets/

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Skype and the future of Voice Calling on Windows Phone -May 31st

By Harsha Bagur

The hottest news item doing the rounds for the past couple of weeks has been the acquisition of Skype by Microsoft. There have been quite a few suitors and after a lot of speculations, Skype has finally a new home in Microsoft.

Most of the concerns raised by the users about this acquisition have been about what Microsoft is going to do with Skype in future. Skype has, for long, embodied the ethos of the free communication by allowing free voice and video calls, which has benefitted quite a few small-medium sized business setups as well. The future of Skype at the hands of Microsoft is indeed a story worth following over the next few months to come. Another concern has been the multi-platform support of Skype in the coming days to come. Skype has for long been providing regular updates for the Windows, MAC and the Linux platforms. Windows has been the preferred platform to receive the latest updates which would then be provide to the MAC and the Linux platforms. It would be interesting to see whether we would see as active a support as we were used to for the MAC and Linux platforms in the days to come.

Google has been one of the suitors vying for Skype even though it already had Google voice. Facebook was also one of the suitors but was not considered as a serious buyer. Facebook would have indeed benefitted with an integrated Voice and Video service to its more than 600 million users. A conventional approach to provide such an integrated service to such an overwhelming number of users would have incurred a huge cost and an overhead of operating infrastructure.

Microsoft has its own reasons in aggressively pursuing Skype. Starting from the Gingerbread versions of Android, Google has been supporting SIP enabled Voice and Video telephony and moreover, Google has Google Voice at its disposal which can be brought over to the Mobile OS space as well. Apple has Facetime. Microsoft desperately wanted Skype to bridge this gap in its Mobile OS Windows Phone 7. We could also see Microsoft going the Android way and announcing a minimum set of hardware specifications for the Windows Phone 7 devices. We could see the front facing cameras becoming a norm in the coming future for the Smart phones. Windows Phone 7 does definitely seem to hold the potential of pole vaulting the MS mobile OS towards the top of the heap and this deal will definitely give a firm push towards that direction.

Skype deal will also give Microsoft a more direct tie-in to the operator for both the Packet switched voice and video calls. There were early indications already last year with the operators approaching Skype for the Voice calls and we could see more of such deals with the widespread adoption of LTE in the coming future. This would definitely be a revenue generator as well as value add services for both the company as well as the operator. There can also be a flip side with Microsoft beginning to eliminate support for the other mobile platforms and target the future features and value-add services exclusively only for the Windows Phone platform.

Nevertheless, the future of Skype with Microsoft is worth following!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Can we get a Indian Huawei? - May 26

By Krishna Kumar

Eight of the world’s top 10 most innovative companies of 2011 are in the ICT domain, reports a US based magazine Fast Company. Not surprisingly, all of these are product companies. While India is the largest exporter of ICT services, generating revenue of $76 billion from the IT sector, but products contribute to less than 2%. India’s contribution to technology innovation is negligible.The product companies witness non-linear growth (not proportionate to the head count)—the revenue per employee or profit per employee of Google or Microsoft is over 20 times that of India’s top services companies. Also, these technology giants serve as a beacon and are the undisputed trendsetters on the world technology road map.

Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE are the world’s leading telecom equipment providers. A report states that 45 of the world’s top 50 telecom companies use Huawei products. What more recognition is needed? These companies have full backing from the Chinese government and the government also supports R&D initiatives—for example, the TD-SCDMA technology that competes with the global wireless 3G standards. Is there an Indian company that can compete with Huawei/ZTE? India has lagged behind China and Taiwan in the capital-intensive electronics hardware manufacturing industry also. But the recent policy push from the department of IT to encourage semiconductor wafer fabrication, electronics and telecom product manufacturing is a welcome move. Also, Trai recently made a recommendation for promoting domestic manufacturing of telecom products.

The loss-making PSU Indian Telephone Industries, once the flagship telecom switch and telephone maker in the country, failed miserably during the telecom boom due to lack of vision from the government. But the case is different with ISRO, whose success could be attributed to the autonomy it enjoys. Another example of a tech-savvy initiative is the UID programme Aadhar, which, though far from fully implemented, has proved that India can implement large-scale technological projects.

Although the domestic demand for IT products is increasing, most Indian product companies are yet to penetrate the market. The only exception is the banking software industry where India has emerged as a leader in core banking solutions offered by Infosys and Oracle-India. Yet Infosys’s products business generates only about 5% of the overall revenue. In general, Indian companies are risk averse and prefer to enjoy the safety of services business, hence have not been able to succeed in creating product offerings.

But some Indian IT companies are successful in the outsourced product development (OPD) model, a pseudo ownership model, wherein the independent software vendors (ISVs) are involved in end-to-end product development for the customer but the ISV does not ‘own’ the product. Cloud computing can be a cost-effective and disruptive technology for further growth in OPD and pure-play product development companies. Nasscom indicates that delivery model innovations such as SaaS and innovative revenue models could fuel IT product adoption in future.

BERD (business expenditure on R&D) and patents/IP management are key indicators of a country’s technology innovation capability. An EU commission report on ICT 2011 indicates that India lags behind China and other emerging economies in terms of BERD/GDP. While China has seen a 10-fold increase in the number of patent applications over the past decade, India’s contribution is insignificant. Generating IPs and protecting them is just one part of the story. Realising value from the IP is a different ball game. Appropriateness of the solution is the key.

It must be said that Indian education system lacks an environment that fosters active partnerships between industry and universities. In the advanced countries, research in universities is given high priority and is supported by industry in the form of grants. As per the recent Anil Kakodkar Committee report, India lags way behind China in terms of university research in engineering and technology. The report also emphasises the need for improvement needed in research infrastructure. An OECD report indicates that India has less than one researcher per thousand employed, much below the global average.

Availability of risk capital is a key constraint for product companies to flourish but Nasscom sees an improving trend. Venture capital/angel investor ecosystem has improved significantly. There are 38 incubation centres across the country aimed at encouraging product development initiatives. India has seen 30% CAGR in start-ups over the past 10 years. The product market in India is expected to touch over $15 billion by 2015. The government’s plan to invest R25,000 crore for setting up semiconductor fabs will provide an impetus for hardware-oriented product development.

The government can play a key role in helping start-ups and other companies engaged in software or hardware product development. There are many examples of how government intervention has yielded good results. Tax benefits for software export revolutionised IT industry in India. Israel supported companies working on networking technologies that helped Israel take a leading position in security. Taiwan supported electronic hardware that resulted in the emergence of the original design manufacturer market.

India has been a ‘follower’ in the ICT space and its product development capability has been patchy. It needs to move towards full-fledged product development in order to be a dominant player in the ICT arena. India’s domestic market by itself will offer sizeable opportunities. However, for made-in-India to be a reality, it is imperative that the government aggressively drives a clear road map for technology innovation, encourages product initiatives, supports hardware and semiconductor industry and, most importantly, inculcates ‘product culture’ right at the universities.

Contributed by G Krishna Kumar, Director – Engineering, Teleca Software Solutions India. These are his personal views and published in Financial Express Thursday 26th.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mobile Norhtwest Conf -Teleca presented on UI/UX -May 19th

By Scott Muske

Yesterday's Mobile Northwest UI panel

At yesterday's Mobile Northwest conference I had the priviledge of presenting on a panel on UI/UX with experts from Frog Design, AT&T, UI Evolution, Blink Interactive and Zaaz. Combined, we touch most of the major brands and media companies deploying, building and researching mobile applictions today. Unlike many panels which meet on-stage or moments before the panel starts, we also had the opportunity to have dinner together the night before and really discuss our differing perspectives. Blink Interactive is purely research and Frog design does research and industrial as well as UI design so there was some additional information represented.

As expected, the press had an article up that afternoon quoting Frog Design and AT&T's conclusions that HTML5 "ain't all that". (Duh!!!) They seized on it because it had a big buzzword (HTML5) and it was uttered by two big names. Anyone who's worked with HTML5 knows this, yet the debate on HTML5 replacing applications rages on. I also find it humorous when customers ask me if we have "HTML5 experts." Um, did you ask web designers before if they had HTML3 "experts" or HTML4 "experts?". I think that Ted Woodburry of AT&T said it best when he said that "We'll look back and realize that HTML5 was a step and not a panacea."

There was a divided and healthy debate over whether tablets are "mobile devices". There was no consensus and my summary is that it depends on how you define a "mobile device". What I paid attention to but that most missed was that every company had its own reasons for saying a device was or was not "mobile". One of the more persistent, cross-panel ideas was that after Starbucks said that people will forget their wallet at home and not return to get it but will always return to get their mobile phone, others extrapolated that theme and said that one would not "lend" their phone to a family member or friend for several days but they would a tablet, which says that it's not a mobile device. Hmmmm... I'm not a big fan of trying to define everything into specific "buckets" unless you have a business or technical reason to do so. All of the panel's comments on the topic can be found Here:


I found Hans Gerwitz from Frog Design to be an exceptionally intelligent and insightful expert. When we were asked about "predictions," he made an interesting prediction that some major provider will fork Android (I had to replay that in my mind several times to make sure I heard him right and it made sense once he finished his thought) much in the way that IBM wrested control of Java from Sun and became the leading proponent and developer of Java. I made a more far reaching prediction. I am always perplexed at how technology companies shove technology down users' throats, when all they want is cool, easy and useful. I asked, "why do I, as a user have to know that I'm in an application, on the web or on my desktop? Why do I have to see windows spawn all over the place and "launch" applications?" I predicted that the OS will be a hybrid of "launchers". Users will, some day, be able to choose content, an address or a function or tool and the best experience will be presented to them for their device. No longer will a user have to "launch a browser" or "launch an application" and then go from there.

Some of the questions seemed non-UI related but definitely were. Should designers still consider feature phones, was one? Heck yeah!!!! Once we get out of our bubble and stop drinking our own Kool-Aide we have to realize that most of the world still uses feature phones and even here in the US, most people use feature phones. However, it depends on your target audience. Gilt Group and Blue Nile don't need to worry about feature phones. We also discussed the role that the "Cloud" will play in mobile. There were many insightful and technical analysis provided of the role cloud plays and Hans pointed out the "Cloud-Network". I pointed out that the "Cloud" has always existed and it's another example of marketing people trying to turn technical jargon or slang into a marketing term and it's yet another example of the perennial "Year's Most Over-Used, Over-Hyped Terms" that we'll be sick of next year. At the end of the day, what people care about with regards to the "Cloud" is the ability to get THEIR content and services anywhere, anytiime on any device.

As a panel, we were all in agreement that 3D, Augmented Reality and other new user experiences were coming and that there would be a market for them. However, the hardware is still not quite there and (more importantly) the system as a whole must be improved to make sure that all of the back-end components (the data, the feeds, the quantity of information) are up to speed with the device and application as it is the entire user experience and not just the device or application that determine success or irritation. More importantly, we (as designers) must take care not to shock our users and to "nudge" them into new experiences.

Unfortunately, we did not have time to reall dig deep into User Interface and so some that may have attended the panel looking for design ideas came away disappointed. Heck, initally I was hoping we'd dig into my recent design philosophy of using the "Z" axis and active screens to provide more information to users without sacraficing readability. However, in hindsight I think that this was a good thing. We in technology have a tendancy to focus on the small components. Designers will always come up with cool looking designs....but NEVER is that what makes an application successful. One must always consider the entire experience and that's what the panel focused on. Steve Jobs has a single rule, "If it requires an instruction manual, it's too complicated". Jobs and his disciples (like Guy Kawasaki) always preach simplicity and usefulness. They adhere to user paradigms and performance standards that make up an advanced, yet familiar and useful product. Analyze all of their business and complex, moving parts and you can boil Apple's success to that. Above all, successful UI and UX achieves those same goals.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Goggle I/O day 2 - Chrome is in the air! May 13

By Robert Kempf

Today is the second day of the 4th annual Google I/O developer event which opened with another fact filled keynote focusing on the progress of Chrome and HTML5.

With more than 100% YoY growth, new releases every 6 weeks, a user base exceeding 160M worldwide, 70M+ installed apps, Chrome Web store availability globally and in 41 languages the traction for Chrome is continuously increasing bringing the possibilities of HTML5 to a fastly growing community.

At Google I/O we experienced some impressive examples of the Chrome capabilities showcasing speech support, hardware acceleration support, high performance 2D Canvas rendering for sprites as well as high performance WebGL rendering and 3D CAD modeling capabilities using HTML5 based web applications.

It was nice to hear that application purchases are now a simple one click solution, but much more important for developers was the announcement that Google will only take a flat fee of 5% transaction cost for application purchases on the web. This was a key talking point outside the keynote and certainly seems be a move that resonates well with developers and lays down a marker to industry that Google is serious about Chrome.

However, there were more important things to announce – at least for the Angry Birds fans amongst us: Angry Birds is now available as a Web App!

Though it is not the game with the richest and most demanding graphical experience it shows nonetheless the new possibilities enabled with HTML5. The experience showcased was very smooth and I’m looking forward to trying out the Chrome specific levels soon…

That’s it about the Chrome browser and HTML5, but wasn’t there something else planned beyond the browser? Yes, there was and in fact the Chrome OS was the next big topic of the keynote. Finally the first commercial Chromebooks a ready to launch offering an web centric, instant on, automatically updated and all day battery life experience. It was nice to see what improvements were made in terms of file browser support, media player and web services but the big wow effect was missing. With the first Chromebooks from Acer and Samsung being priced in the range of $350-$450 there was not a real unique selling point presented that would motivate people to go with Chromebooks instead of a standard Netbook that are equally priced. Moreover the ability of Android to support Notebooks as depicted in the day one keynote leaves a big question mark on the Chrome OS future. Having said that I’m very keen to try them out and I hope that the actual hands-on experience will provide that spark of excitement.

Talking about Chrome OS I was surprised to see that Google will enter a new business area by offering an enterprise and educational use managed service for $28 and $20 per month and user respectively which covers hardware, software support and device replacement services. Google stated that their research indicated that up to 75% of existing enterprise users could be switched to Chromebooks without reducing their productivity. Given that more and more of the enterprise applications are cloud based and knowing about the still horrendous IT cost for enterprises this might turn into a successful business moving forward. In announcing this Google stated that the average PC support cost is $3,000-5,000 per year so this is clearly a very aggressive move and one that could for many companies provide significant cost savings.

Some interesting technical sessions also took place after the keynote covering the comparison of HTML5 and native applications, game development, Android for enterprise use, updates on Android market, … But as one might expect, no further groundbreaking news were presented in these – though I’m still a bit disappointed that I did not know about the game development session after which every participant got a Xperia Play for free. Better luck next time ;-)

Overall Google I/O was again a great conference to be at and when I’m looking back it is incredible to see what happened in the last 2 years – the evolution of HTML5, the global success of Android and its shiny future, new Google services like movie and music and many more make this an very exciting journey to be part of. Will be back in 2012….

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Google I/O reflections from day 1 -May 11

By Andrew Till

Yesterday was the first day of the 4th annual Google I/O developer event and what a day it was. Google opened the event with a fact filled keynote showing the progress of Android such as:

· 36 OEMs

· 312 device models

· 100M devices activated

· 200,000 apps now available

· 4.5 b apps downloads

· 500m apps downloaded per month

· 112 countries shipping Android devices

And when they had let us pause for breath they hit us with news of the new upcoming releases. The first was the announcement of Honeycomb 3.1 which will be shipping in a few weeks time and includes a number of much sought after features such as a more advanced task switcher, USB Host support so that you will be able to connect standard USB peripherals to you Android device, Scalable widgets and support for GoogleTV (2.0) with a free upgrade for existing Google TV subscribers. And just to be clear Google also confirmed that Honeycomb will not be open sourced but this is not standard policy for future releases.

Following this was the formal announcement of IceCream Sandwich (ICS) which included, to loud applause, the unveiling of a new logo and confirmation of key features such as new apps framework APIs, significant improvements to the video and camera functionality including face tracking and speaker recognition for video conferencing. But perhaps the most significant announcement was that ICS will be used as the single OS and UI platform for all Android device form factors moving forwards.

This was followed up by two key service announcements the availability of Google Movies for Movie Rentals and Music Beta. Both are full cloud based solutions and underline the importance of the GMS services as a platform differentiator for Android. With a similar announcement expected from Apple on cloud based Music services in June Google was clearly laying down a marker that it fully intends to take on Apple and iOS head to head (which was also clear from much of the artwork used in the keynote).

While much of the above had been expected the next announcement was much more of a surprise. This was the news that ICS will support a new set of APIs for supporting HW accessories what can be controlled by your Android device or can interact intelligently with your Android device. Thus this brings in to the Android community a whole new development community that is much more familiar with building HW than SW. Google is also providing an open source reference HW design for developers and for those of us who went to the breakout sessions we were able to get our hands on the first version. Full Android source and firmware for the reference HW will be made available from Android.accessories.com from today.

Google demonstrated a couple of interesting use cases the first being intelligent control of the home lighting system while playing a game to really enhance the mood and the second being a smart exercise bike that when you connect your Android phone was able to control a game on the phone (the speed of the rider controlled the higher of a character in the game). This is certainly an exciting development especially when combined with the USB Host support and will open up a lot of new use cases and vertical markets to the benefit of Android. It also has the potential to position Google strong in the home and work environments in a much broader way with your device able to fully interact with its surroundings.

Of course there were then many more updates and announcements in the break out groups but for the ask of brevity I will focus on just one here NFC. NFC was pushed as a key enabling technology that further builds on theme of interacting with your surrounds (via NFC tags) as well as enabling new consumer use cases around content sharing. Of particular focus was using NFC to set up Bluetooth connectivity between devices by just touching them together and thus removing the need for complex BT pairing sessions. Google also disclosed that ICS will focus strongly on leveraging NFC to deliver Zero Click sharing of contact information, URLs and Youtube/web videos with some very nice features such as call back support (so when you share a web video you can also share the play point) and ground dispatch to enable an application to capture all incoming NFC tags.

And perhaps the most important question that was answered during the day was “will Google still provide us with great giveaways” which was the source of much debate before the show opened. The simple answer is YES and I think Samsung for my pre-release Galaxy Tab 10.1 and am eagerly looking forward to the 3.1 upgrade due in a couple of weeks.

That’s all for day one. Come back tomorrow for another update.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Future of Automotive From the Motor City -April 19th

By James Salter

Teleca wrapped up an interesting week in Detroit for the annual SAE 2011 World Congress (Society of Automotive Engineers) conference April 12-14. While the automotive industry and the Detroit area have both taken their lumps in the past few years, there is renewed optimism on all fronts. SAE 2011 was better attended than last year and most of the big automakers were present with large booths.

The main focus of the event was on new technologies: hybrid and electric vehicles and new dashboard displays dominated many of the booths. Most of the big automakers will be releasing pure electric cars in the next year or so if they already don’t offer one. A good number of engineers who visited the Teleca booth were very interested in our talents with the Android platform as proprietary closed systems are getting replaced. This will pose some interesting opportunities for the industry as it demands a set of standards for in-vehicle technologies.

How will start-up times be met with increasing functionalities added over time for these dashboard systems? Will the OEMs allow for mobile applications onto their own infotainment units or set up their own Android storefronts? Whatever the answers, it is clear that the industry requires partnering with new players that understand the industry, the hardware to software connectivity issues and the different open source or standardized platforms to choose from.

A final thanks to the GENIVI Alliance. Teleca team members had a great time at the dinner networking event hosted by GENIVI on April 13th. The event allowed members to showcase their demos and discuss the alliance's achievements and membership benefits. Teleca was able to demonstrate Meego on a Freescale unit with touchscreen functionality. Look for more exciting demonstrations of Teleca’s expertise in automotive at the upcoming GENIVI all members meeting in Dublin, Ireland on May 4-6 and at the Telematics Update 2011 on June 8-9 in Novi, MI.

Monday, April 18, 2011

IST, Incremental Scenario Testing, story continues -April 18th

By Matthias Ratert

In October 2010 I have announced within this blog that the Incremental Scenario Testing Tool (ISTT) will be published as Open Source.

Since November the IST tool can be downloaded on SourceForge: http://sourceforge.net/projects/istt.

To advertise this great methodology I have published an article in the Testing Experience magazine (http://www.testingexperience.com) in the December issue about Open Source projects. Listing IST on opensourcetesting.org pushed the public interest even more. And the results are amazing: Almost 500 downloads from 57 countries so far! Almost every day ISTT is downloaded. India seems to be most interested in the tool – 113 downloads until now means rank #1. US (52 downloads), Germany (46 downloads) and UK (24 downloads) are following. Even some people from New Zealand, South Africa and Panama have tried it!

However the feedback could be more verbose: 9 users on SourceForge like the project, but unfortunately nobody has written a review so far.

On the other hand the recognition of IST in Teleca is increasing. Couple of projects are investigating the usage or are already testing with the IST approach.

And the community is growing, I’m not the only one anymore developing ISTT further. Some colleagues from Lodz are implementing features needed in their project!

As you see, the methodology and the tool are continuously improved, we have published already 6 updates and the 7th including cool new features is in preparation.

So just stay tuned or try it, use it, love it ;-)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

for Flash digital creators -did you visit FITC? April 4th

by Peter Buth (UI Architect)

What started out as Canada’s Flash event about 9 years ago has become a world-wide event around Flash and related design technologies with around 50 events so far.

For the 4th time FITC (abbreviation comes from its origin title “Flash In The Canada”) is also held in Europe, namely Amsterdam. All kinds of Digital Creators meet here to learn about new technologies and to get inspired. This year’s FITC Amsterdam took place March 8th and 9th plus option for an additional full day workshop on March 7th. About 350 participants took the chance to meet each other - some maybe merely came for the 2 evening parties...

Flash Developer Evangelist Paul Trani and Flash Senior Product Manager Tom Barclay (both Adobe) presented a lot of hot stuff around what's up and coming to the Flash Platform. "Flash on devices" was the name of the ~6 h workshop showing how to design for multiple screens - meaning for different screen resolutions and even different platforms.
One part of it was Adobe AIR 2.6 for Android, which was just recently released for Froyo, Gingerbread and Honeycomb. Besides some performance improvements related to scrolling, H.264 video and GPU accelerated animations also additional Android gestures, Bitmap Capture for StageWebView and support for iOS/iPad have been added, just to name a few enhancements. [Now even AIR 2.7 beta is available]

The second FITC day started with "HTMLArraaagh!" presentation by Doug Winnie (Principle Product Manager, Interactive Design, Adobe).
Recognizing that there is a shift in mobile technology towards HTML 5 & CSS3 he recently started to experiment with HTML5 which is often used as an acronym for using a bunch of new technologies like HTML5 Canvas (originally from Apple for dashboard widgets), CSS3 (especially Transitions, Transforms, Animations) and JavaScript. As mobile browsers already now quite well support them "they will be an important part of tablet and mobile web design today and in the future."
Adobe is also investing in new HTML5-related tools – see e.g. the Wallyby tool on Adobe Labs.
When talking about games Flash technology is a key player: Many know Flash based games like Farmville by Zynga. More than 65 million daily users on the Zynga gaming platform - with 14 million Farmville users per day - that's really impressive!
With 3D in Flash games it's getting even more impressive - currently many developed using Papervision3D. But there is more: Away3D (recently 4.0 alpha announced), Sophie 3D, CopperCube, Flare3D - just to name a few tools and engines.
Just recently Adobe also made a preview of "Molehill" available on Adobe Labs which is a bunch of low-level 3D APIs for Flash and AIR that use GPU-acceleration. Molehill shall be released within this year!

A separate session with Andrew Shorten (Senior Product Manager for Flash Builder) and Deepa Subramaniam (Senior Product Manager for the Flex SDK) was dedicated to the new and upcoming features in the Flex framework, the Flash Builder as well as the Flash Catalyst tool also enhancing the designer-developer workflow. Now also rapidly building RIAs for mobile devices – either using Flash Player or AIR runtime – will be better supported e.g. by offering special templates for mobile. Same as with the latest AIR release also Flash Player 10.3 comes with a lot of performance optimizations for iOS and Android platform.

Another device that Flash tools can be used to develop for is the BlackBerry Playbook - the 7" tablet device RIM announced last fall. As it's not yet available I chose to get first hand information by attend the session about "Building BlackBerry PlayBook Applications with Adobe AIR" by Sanyu Kiruluta (Team Lead for Developer Relations, EMEA at Research In Motion).
Taking into account the BlackBerry community with more than 55 million global subscribers and 300.000 registered developers (as of October 2010; mainly Java, some for web development) it seem sensible to also take BlackBerry devices into account when developing mobile applications.

The PlayBook uses a Webkit browser and fully supports Flash Player 10.1 and AIR 2.5. Besides HTML5 Audio and Video also Adobe Flash Stage Video as well as SQLite can be used.
RIM offers the BlackBerry® Tablet OS SDK for Adobe® AIR® as well as the Playbook Simulator and a lot of documentation for free.
Interested in developing for the PlayBook? Then go ahead and download the tools. I already did.

If you like to read even more – e.g. about multiscreen development – the entire report can be found here: http://www.teleca.com/FITC