What Testers Need To Know About The Blackphone Bug Bounty Program

Edgar L

Silent Circle has implemented a bug bounty program for its Blackphone through the Bugcrowd platform. The project aims to root out vulnerability issues in the company’s proclaimed “surveillance-proof” device. The concept is simple: software testers work with the company’s PrivatOS and earn a $128 bounty for every bug found and reported.

What Is Blackphone?

Silent Circle’s Blackphone comes pre-installed with specialized apps and software design to protect users’ privacy. This includes silent communications technology that enables anonymous internet browsing and VPN connections, wireless network security, private cloud storage, and call and text message encryption.

Blackphone runs on PrivatOS, a heavily modded version of Android OS 4.4 “Kitkat” that includes Silent Circle’s own ‘silent’ features for keys, contacts, calls, and texts. The versatile services lets users send and receive calls and texts, move, store, and manage files, and make video calls under the premise that they will not be tracked, recorded, or otherwise breached.

The ‘silence’ works by establishing failsafe security lines between compatible phones. The service uses auto-generating and deleting encryption technology that creates and deletes keys. To ensure maximum protection, the keys are never stored on the phone or transferred to Silent Circle.

How Does The Bounty Program Work?

Launched by Silent Circle, the bug bounty program encourages security testers to unveil and discreetly report vulnerabilities in the Blackphone’s apps, network services, and cloud offerings. The program also includes Blackphone-related websites and web offerings. For the phone’s PrivatOS, the bounty program includes integrated apps, OS updates, server vulnerabilities, and issues with the web portal.

The Blackphone bug bounty program pays at least $128 to anyone who uncovers and reports new security issues or exploits affecting the phone. The company may adjust the amount depending on the severity of the vulnerability and other factors, and cannot be legally barred from issuing a reward. For someone to qualify, they must:

  • Be the first to report the vulnerability
  • Report a vulnerability that meets the program criteria
  • Not publicly announce the vulnerability before Blackphone’s decision
  • Not currently work for Blackphone or partner organizations

The program excludes descriptive error messages, 404 HTTP error codes, issues specific to clickjacking and self-XSS exploits, logout cross-site request forgery (CSRF) and other vulnerabilities found on the project page.

Reaching The Pinnacle Of Security

Former Blackphone CEO Toby Weir-Jones announced that the company aims chiefly to ensure user privacy and prioritize security. Through the Bugcrowd-based bug bounty program, the Blackphone’s weaknesses can be exposed – and patched. Current CEO Bill Conner, appointed in January, announced his intent to succeed where BlackBerry failed and knight Silent Circle as the new Apple.

The Silent giant may not conquer Apple anytime soon, but its bug bounty program is helping the Blackphone reach new heights of data security and privacy. The program came into being after hackers breached the Blackphone at the Las Vegas Def Con hacker conference in 2014.

While a truly invulnerable device probably won’t escape the dreams of a technophile, makers of the Blackphone hope to make their device the most secure on the market.

“Our belief is that you have to go to next generation architecture, like mobile, that is more secure in some ways, but still has its liabilities,” says Conner. “We are trying to intercept the next generation architectures from devices to application suites to the networking services to do that.”

Blackphone is the brainchild of Silent Circle, who bought out partner Geeksphone to gain full ownership of its former joint identity, SGP Technologies. Equipped with the latest version of PrivatOS, the Blackphone combines personalization with what Silent Circle deems “truly surveillance-proof” technology. For bug testers, the Blackphone represents a unique opportunity to gain insight into the latest security developments and earn some respectable spending money.

Edgar L

What You Need To Know To Test For Windows 10 Technical Preview

Allaire W

As Windows 10 becomes a reality, testing this software application is a priority. As a major upgrade to the current version, this application boasts a number of improvements and new features. Although Windows 10 is built on the same platform to be cohesive among PCs, tablets and phones, mobile app testing can be viewed as a standalone process.

A Few Things To Know About Testing Windows 10:

  • You must join the Windows Insider Program.
  • Your mobile device must be registered to receive builds through over the air updates.
  • Each new build will be distributed automatically after they are validated by Microsoft and used internally.
  • Any suggestions or bug reports must be sent via the Windows Feedback app, which is a built-in feature.
  • All updates will be continuous until the final build.
  • Mobile devices can be rolled back to the previous OS whenever you want.
  • Microsoft only supports phones for the preview that has a recovery image available. The Windows Phone Recovery Tool will restore image if needed.
  • There are limited devices on the first build: Lumia 630, 635, 636, 638, 730 and 830.

Features To Look For When Testing:

  • Start image should have a full-size, customizable background.
  • Interactive notifications such as images for maps, or dismissing an alarm.
  • The photos should be aggregated based on local and OneDrive photos.
  • Three rows of quick actions.
  • Enhanced speech-to-text with automatic punctuation, and distinctions between certain numbers and words that sound alike but are spelled differently.

In future builds, there will be universal apps in Word, Excel and PowerPoint but they are not in the first build release. Additionally, Mail and Calendar Universal Apps, and IP-based messaging from Skype will be directly integrated into Messaging. Cortina also looks different in the initial testing and is only available in the US and in English.

Issues That Have Already Been Identified

With every introduction of a new app, there are glitches. Here are a few that have been identified and workable solutions:

  • Wi-Fi settings don’t roam after upgrade.

Solution: Manually set Wi-Fi settings on Windows 10

  • VPN not available.

Solution: Will be included in future build.

  • Additional language keyboards absent and unable to install on US builds

Solution: Reopen Windows Insider app. Reselect Insider Fast/Slow.

  • Photo app fails when attaching to an email, OneNote, or Facebook.

Solution: Try again.

  • Lock screen picture will sometimes fail.

Solution: Try again.

  • Cellular data not working while roaming.

Solution: Turn off and on again

  • APNs in recovery images may fall out of date.

Solution: Record specific APN settings on phone before using Windows Mobile Recovery Tool. Set phone manually when restored.

  • Bluetooth headset usage when playing video will have low frame rate.

Solution: Used wired headset for listening to audio when playing videos.

These are just a few things you should know when testing the Windows 10 Technical Preview on a mobile device. There are always risks involved in testing, including bugs that may prevent access to core features and functionality. The support for additional phones will increase with each build, with an announcement on the new devices that have been added to the list. To speak with other testers and help in solving problems to make this release a success, the Windows Insider Community Forum is available.

It’s no secret that Windows 10 won’t fix every current issue, but it does have the promise of an enticing code that will close the existing application gap and advance testing to offer the same applications regardless of OS and phone.

Allaire W

3 Top Choices For Automated Testing

Marsha J

When it comes to precision in automated mobile app testing for 2015, there are at least three frontrunners that stand out for Android and iOS: Appium, Calabash, and MonkeyTalk. While these software test automation resources have some stiff competition, open source and automation opportunities make it easy for these tools to rise to the top. Like most great test automation tools, these tools are widely known for testing the code, graphical user interface (GUI), and application programming interface (API), including these necessary functions: improvements for product installs, appropriate test data, troubleshooting for problems or defects, GUI interactivity capabilities, and more. This features list is likely to be present with any good automated testing software, but the demand for user experience (UX) places the top three choices in a category of their own.

Appium Is All Inclusive

Appium is the open-source solution for automating native, mobile, or hybrid apps built for both Android and iOS platforms. While native apps use software development kits that are standard with Android or iOS, mobile apps are web apps users access from a mobile browser. Known as the “cross-browser mobile automation tool,” Appium is developed by Sauce Labs and relies on JSON wire protocol under Selenium WebDriver. The beauty with Appium for many developers is that it supports Chrome or another local browser on an Android platform and Safari on the iOS platform. Appium offers support for a hybrid app as well, for native and mobile web interactivity. The Appium tool, unlike its counterparts, does not require an extra compiling agent for app code for mobile app interaction. As well, Appium’s cross-platform capabilities make it a perfect choice for using the same tests across the board.

Calabash Uses Object-Oriented Languages

When you seek an automated acceptance-testing option for a mobile app, Calabash is the popular answer to your quest. Also using open source, Calabash provides an application programming interface (API) specifically for native apps that run on touch screens. Keep in mind the huge difference between the interactivity possible on a web app from a desktop versus the native touch screen options on a mobile device. Calabash uses Cucumber and Ruby for writing tests, which comes with some accolades for being easily understood by those in the non-technical community. While Calabash succeeds best in building a diverse open source community, testing the precise app, writing tests in any language, and using standard automation and APIs are not at seamless. Calabash is backed and developed by Xamarin.

MonkeyTalk Wins In Popularity

MonkeyTalk by Cloud Monkey has a reputation for a broad range of basic to advanced tests for Android and iOS apps that are real-time, functional, and interactive. Also using open source (community edition) for its automated testing, MonkeyTalk is described as a powerful cross-platform tool providing, “a seamless workflow, high productivity, and minimum hassle.” It will record and play test scripts for Android and iOS apps as well as hybrids. According to an article by Stu Stern, Gorilla Logic, in Monkeytalk Alternatives—Which Automation Tool is the best, “While many automation engineers have mastered the available tools for automating web application testing, mobile applications require new kinds of tools that understand the richer palette of user interface components and gestures that comprise modern mobile application interfaces.” Stern introduces MonkeyTalk as a popular mobile app test tool for native Android, iOS, HTML5, and Adobe Flex apps.

The choices for automated mobile app testing are expanding rapidly, but for now these top choices are holding their own in the development community. With the daily research and expansion in mobile and web app development, automated app testing software is one of the most key components to the success of a business app for expanding companies.

Marsha J

What App Testers Need To Know About Tizen OS

Edgar L

samsung_simband

Built from scratch, Tizen OS marks Samsung’s break from Google’s Android OS. Tizen OS powers the Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch, and with open source licensing, offers a unique opportunity for app testers and developers. Tizen OS caters to a variety of app environments with mobile, TV, smartwatch, and in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) support. The latest 3.0 version simplifies development with the unified Tizen Common infrastructure. The Linux-based OS comes with several promising features listed below.

Open Source Development

Rooted in Linux, Tizen OS is the product of collaboration between Samsung and Intel. Using Nokia’s scrapped MeeGo technology, Tizen’s open source governance lets app testers play with the design, flow, and other interface properties to offer users a unique experience. The Tizen Common base lets developers construct new profiles to adapt to the processing power of various devices. The latest 3.0 version of the OS introduces a speedy UI framework with a dynamic action library and powerful 3D rendering engine. Tizen also contains a few unique tidbits from Bada, the company’s first venture into OS development.

HTML5 Support

Tizen’s HTML5 engine shortens development cycles for app testers and streamlines web experience. Testers can expect noticeable savings compared to non-HTML5 environments. The flexibility allows developers to design apps for anything from a smartwatch to a smart car. On the other hand, users will enjoy faster, less bloated mobile apps, and integrated support for the most common video formats, meaning fewer ‘missing plug-in’ prompts.

Seamless Transition For Android Developers

The familiarity of Tizen’s interface will be the determining factor for many app testers thinking about making the switch. At first glance, Tizen looks like an Android-TouchWiz hybrid. It relies heavily on Dynamic boxes, which users can resize to view more info. Tizen’s TouchWiz component offers a familiar swipe-able notification bar and toggle bar, and offers several familiar Samsung smartphone features including a firewall with customizable settings, energy saver, and multitasking options. It also includes a Samsung App store.

Beyond Smartphones

Seamless cross-platform functionality is perhaps Tizen’s most attractive feature. The OS runs on computers, tablets, and TVs, with Samsung CEO J.K. Shin excited about its prospects in the bank and car markets. In fact, app testers have already played with Tizen in vehicle entertainment systems. Intel has also announced built-in Google Maps support and live information output. Tizen made its official debut with Samsung’s NX300M camera in late 2013, and has since expanded its reach exponentially. Consumers may soon see Tizen technology in their refrigerators.

Samsung Apps

In this age of mobility and convenience, apps are all the rage. App testers can seamlessly transition their Bada apps to Tizen, and enjoy the same native and web app support offered by Samsung’s previous OS iteration. The game market looks promising, with titles like Asphalt 7 and Cut the Rope making waves in the Tizen Store. Savvy developers will have no problem reaching this market with their own unique content.

Looking To The Future

Samsung has no doubt made great strides with Tizen, but there remains much room for improvement. Tizen OS 3.0 is now publicly available and brings 64-bit support and a variety of graphical and processing enhancements. With Google unveiling 64-bit Android devices, it’s up in the air how well Tizen will fare. For app testers, it’s certainly an OS worth looking into. More information on Tizen is available on the Tizen Association website. Developers looking to break into the Tizen environment can start with Tizen’s own beginner guides.

Edgar L

6 Things You Need To Know About Android 5.1 Lollipop

Susan B

galaxy_edge

On Monday, March 9, 2015, Google announced it would be rolling out the newest update to the current Lollipop 5.0 operating system. The latest version includes improvements to device performance and stability. The upgrade also adds features that give users greater control over settings, and the ability to customize devices to fit their needs. Google has always stressed that the original concept behind the Android operating system, was the development of an interface to sweeten the life of those that use the Android-powered devices. That is the reason for naming every version of the Android operating system, after a dessert or sweet treat.

Ability to Use Two SIM Cards Simultaneously

A SIM card is a great feature to have on any phone. It means that a user can purchase a new phone without disrupting their service. On SIM card compatible phones using older operating systems, the phone owner didn’t have the option of using two cards at the same time. This feature is an excellent upgrade for frequent international travelers. It means that they can purchase a second SIM card for overseas calling without having to worry about incurring hefty charges on their main plan card. This feature is a huge bonus for heavy data users.

Faster and Easier Access to Settings – Even When Screen is Locked

Before Android’s newest update, users had to jump through hoops to get to the phone settings. Thanks to this upgrade, a user has access to all the quick settings just by dragging the pull-down  feature at the top of the screen.  Now device users can turn Wi-Fi on or off, or sync their phones to Bluetooth devices without having to open settings to get to the area where Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controls are.

Increased Ability to Customize Notification Features

Android 5.0 gave users the ability to see notifications as they come in. Getting rid of them or getting them off the status bar wasn’t very convenient. Android 5.1 improves on this feature by letting users swipe upwards to get rid of the list. An alert still appears in the menu bar, so there is no need to worry about forgetting to respond. Another upgrade gives users control over turning priority notifications on and off, and even switching the device to priority mode so audible notifications don’t wake them all night. This enhancement makes it possible to silence notifications more easily.

Simplified Interface for Multitasking Capabilities

For people who are used to older versions of the Android operating system, this is a welcome change. Google refers to the changes in the material design that totally transform multitasking capabilities and efficiency in Android 5.1, as Overview, a system of organizing everything into card stacks. Talk to two people using the same app, simply by creating separate cards for each conversation. This change makes it possible for users to go back and forth between apps. Send someone an e-mail while texting someone else. Chat with someone while surfing the Internet. These are all possible in Overview.

Smarter Wi-Fi

On other platforms, devices would keep trying to connect to Wi-Fi networks when access was limited or unavailable. This upgrade means that the device will remember those instances where attempts to connect to Wi-Fi service failed.

It is worth noting that Google is releasing this update less than six months after the release of the original version of the Lollipop operating system. Improvements to everything from RAM management to excessive battery consumption will thrill Android customers. The upgrades to this operating system, pave the way for huge advances in app development.

Susan B

Virtual Reality Headsets You Need To Know In 2015

Edgar L

samsung_gear_vr

Virtual reality (VR) may sound like an incomplete relic of the 90s, but modern technology is set to bring a whole new level of immersion to gaming. VR tracks head movement in three dimensions, allowing users to feel like they’re inside a game or movie. A variety of VR headsets, some futuristic, others quaint as cardboard, will hit store shelves in the next couple of years. Read about some of the most anticipated ones below.

Oculus Rift

The seed that grew into a phenomenon, Oculus Rift set the gaming world ablaze when it was first announced. The Kickstarter-funded VR headset connects to a computer via DVI and USB peripherals and tracks head movement to output three-dimensional images to its display. Facebook was quick to snatch up the device for $2 billion. Recent updates to Oculus Rift, codenamed ‘Crescent Bay’, introduces a literally revolutionary 360-degree perspective, stunning 1080i graphics, and refined movement tracking to catch even the most subtle head twitches. The current price for Oculus Rift sits at $350.

Avegant Glyph

While most VR headsets go for the all-out, bulky futuristic look, the Avegant Glyph offers a more modest profile. The sleek, lightweight headset shuns the use of large touch screens to display images, instead leveraging micro mirrors to reflect images straight into a user’s retina. The Glyph wears like a snug pair of headphones to start. Upon unsheathing the screen, users can enjoy crisp 720p graphics in each eye, with a modest 45-degree field of vision. Avegant has stated that the limited scope helps mitigate visual fatigue and motion sickness. Set for release in autumn 2015, the Avegant Glyph sports a hefty price tag for its humble size at $499.

Samsung Gear VR

Design-wise, the Samsung Gear VR looks like a polished 90s device. The headset blends form and function to offer a balanced, user-friendly experience with traditional overtones. Powered by the lauded Oculus Rift, the Gear VR has a lens slot and Micro USB dock where users simply insert their Samung Galaxy phone and immerse themselves in the Super AMOLED screen. The Gear VR already sports an attractive selection of games and a diverse library of VR videos on its Milk VR storefront.

Carl Zeiss VR One

The Carl Zeiss headset takes its inspiration from Samsung’s Gear VR, but takes its approach a step further. Users can attach any 4.7 to 5.2-inch Android or iOS smartphone to enter the Zeiss VR One’s 3D world. The device includes a media player that lets users browse images and watch online videos and an augmented reality (AR) app to up the VR ante. At $99, the VR One offers incredible value, and with lens maestro Carl Zeiss at the optical helm, this headset is sure to exceed expectations.

Microsoft HoloLens

With a release date of somewhere in the abyss of 2016, the Microsoft HoloLens is a half-and-half blend of VR and AR. The headset adds holographic VR images to real world elements. Users can project a video game world onto a kitchen counter, or explore futuristic worlds while playing with the dog in the backyard. The battery-powered headset runs on Windows 10, offers a 120-degree dual-axis field of view, and understands an array of voice commands and gestures.

Google Cardboard

Following talk of Google Glass, all eyes have been on the innovation giant. Google’s answer: a strappable cardboard box with a smartphone slot. No, it’s not a joke; in fact, its the most affordable ($25) and perhaps the most savvy option to hit the market. With other options such as the Archos VR and Durovis Dive offer similar (non-cardboard) designs, fans are waiting to see the true potential of Google Cardboard.

HTC Vive

A Mobile World Congress, smartphone maker HTC got into the virtual reality game with the Vive, coming later in 2015. HTC has partnered with game-making engine Steam to build apps and games for the Vive, making it on of the more intriguing VR platforms to be announced to date.

Edgar L

What App Testers Need To Know About iOS 8.2

Edgar L

apple_watch_close_up

Give a warm welcome to iOS 8.2. Apple’s most anticipated operating system update since iOS 8 burst onto the scene in September 2014 fixes mistakes and sets the stage for the not-too-distant future.

The release solves a plethora of issues that plagued previous iOS 8 versions and provides support for Apple’s upcoming device, the highly anticipated Apple Watch. iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch can download and install iOS 8.2 for free and enjoy more optimized apps and bug fixes, as well as expanded app compatibility. Users who plan to purchase an Apple Watch (which hits stores on April 24) will definitely want this update.

New Features For A New Device

While the bug fixes are a breath of fresh air for many jaunted users, iOS 8.2’s trumpeted feature is support for the Apple Watch. Upon installing the update, users can sync their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to the Apple Watch. They can then customize their settings in the Watch app and track workout data with the Activity app.

Owners of an iPhone 4S or older who plan to buy an Apple Watch will be out of luck, as the Watch only supports iPhones of version 5 and later.

In short: if you want an Apple Watch, you have to get iOS 8.2. Unfortunately that doesn’t extend to iPhone 4S owners as the Apple Watch only works with the iPhone 5 and newer.

HealthKit Gets A Makeover

Also noteworthy are the massive improvements to Apple HealthKit. iOS 8.2 revamps the user interface and allows users to choose between imperial and metric units to measure height, weight, distance, body temperature, blood sugar, and more.

The update also expands HealthKit’s compatibility with third party apps, which offer users deeper insight into their exercise performance and physical data. New privacy controls allow users to disable tracking distance, steps, and stairs climbed.

Bug Fixes Galore

The true selling point of iOS 8.2 lies in its repair work. Since the release of iOS 8, users have flooded message boards with various issues ranging from app crashes to Bluetooth issues to the infamous time zone bug. iOS 8.2 brings a wave of fixes to these and other problems, especially for users on older devices.

  • HealthKit Bug – Users can now add a medical identification photo without issues and experience fewer crashes and slowdowns when importing or managing large quantities of data. Additional fixes include proper display of vitamin and mineral measurement units.
  • Time Zone Bug – Termed the ‘GMT Bug,’ this widespread problem switched users’ Calendar appointments to GMT time, wreaking havoc on scheduling and time management. The bug has plagued users since iOS 8’s initial release and is one of the top issues on Apple’s support threads. With iOS 8.2, users can breathe a sigh of relief that this long-standing issue is no more.
  • Silent Bluetooth Calls – Yet another prominent issue present since iOS 8’s inception, this bug prevented callers from hearing audio until the recipient answered. iOS 8.2 casts this problem into the trash.
  • Miscellaneous Fixes – While Apple has provided few details on these fixes, it has improved apps including Music, Mail, Maps, and VoiceOver. The changes also improve the performance of various iPhone hearing aids.

So, should Apple device users download the iOS 8.2 update? Even those who don’t plan to get an Apple Watch should definitely install the update, which comes free of charge and addresses multiple issues. For Apple Watch enthusiasts, the download is a must-have that takes exercise technology to a whole new level.

Edgar L

Top 10 Testing And Quality Assurance Fails of 2014

Stephen

Mobile app security

Technologically speaking, it’s hard to think of a year that was more exciting in recent memory than 2014. We saw a huge wave of new products like the iPhone 6, as well as were treated to upcoming glimpses of products in development like the Apple Watch and the BlackBerry Classic. Unfortunately, 2014 was also a fairly big year in terms of technology-related fails. From quality assurance to testing to security, issues seemed to crop up on an almost daily basis to embarrass some of the biggest tech companies in the world. Even Apple wasn’t immune to large scale fails this year.

The iCloud Scandal

The iCloud Scandal was a perfect storm of “fail” that left the sensitive information, including personal information and even nude photographs, of dozens of celebrities exposed to the world at large. Apple insists that they did nothing wrong and that the issue resulted from celebrities embracing weak passwords and other security-related flaws. Despite that, the iCloud Scandal was still able to embarrass the company and cast a pretty large shadow of doubt over the entire iCloud platform.

The BlackBerry Passport

The BlackBerry Passport is a quality assurance fail at its finest. In theory, the device should have been a success – in a world where mobile device screens are getting larger, it would probably be awhile before a company hit that “too large” area and customers rebelled. BlackBerry found out it was a scenario that would happen sooner rather than later by releasing a mobile device that was essentially unusable with only one hand.

The Sony Hack

The Sony Hack makes the list of the top 10 tech fails of 2014 not due to the fact that it happened, but due to the astonishingly poor security-related practices that it exposed. For one of the biggest technology-related companies on the planet, you would think that they would store passwords and other sensitive information in encrypted files. If they did have to store them in an unencrypted location, you would hope that it wouldn’t be in a folder labeled “Passwords.”

The Amazon Fire Phone

The Amazon Fire Phone makes the list of top 2014 fails due to a huge number of quality assurance fails. Amazon was so excited to rush the phone to market that they didn’t perfect many of the features that it depended on. From sub-par battery life to a 3D screen with a resolution so low it would feel outdated even five years ago, the product was one big fail after another.

Google Glass

Google made a bold step in the direction of wearable technology with Google Glass. The reason it makes the “fail” list is for something that should have been handled during the testing phase – longtime users of the device report everything from awful headaches to vision problems and essentially everything in between.

Android Wear

Android Wear included some of the first true smart watches and other wearable devices to hit the market in a big way. It’s too bad that nearly every aspect of them, including the built-in heart rate monitors, failed to work properly.

The Aereo

No list of 2014 fails would be complete without the Aereo and the unfortunate fact that it turned out to be a revolutionary new product with a business model that even the Supreme Court said was copyright infringement.

Cannibalizing the Tablet Market

Tech companies accidentally cannibalized the tablet market in 2014 by releasing “bigger and better” smartphones with large screens that rivaled devices like the iPad.

Streaming Sony TV

The PlayStation TV initially seemed to be Sony’s answer to the Apple TV set top box. By launching without support for even basic streaming services like Netflix or YouTube, it turned out to be Sony’s answer to essentially nothing.

Microsoft Kinect

Microsoft Kinect 2.0 shipped with the Xbox One gaming console and relied heavily on voice commands that were supposed to revolutionize the in-home entertainment experience – if, that is, they worked the way they were supposed to even half of the time.

Stephen L

What’s New In Android Studio 1.0

Stephen

google_rocksSometimes first party tools really are the best in terms of mobile development, as is the case with Android Studio. Android Studio was designed and released by Google to be the be all, end all official IDE solution for developing apps in the Android ecosystem. It offers code templates to help you build features, an incredibly rich layout editor, app-signing capabilities and more. Android Studio officially moved into version 1.0 recently, bringing with it a wide range of features that are designed to both address some of the most common issues with the platform and make sure that you’re able to release the best apps possible.

Project View

One of the most notable additions to Android Studio 1.0 is an increased emphasis on the “Project View” capabilities of the software, Simply put, it is designed to act as a completely new project and directory structure that completely breaks an entire project down into a series of easy to manage folders based on application modules. Each folder contains the entire source code set for the application module in question, as well as specifications regarding directories and even the build file itself.

Also improved with 1.0 is the ease at which users can create new files within this redesigned Project View system. To do so, users only need to use the “ALT + INSERT” command on a computer running the Microsoft Windows operating system to create a new code and resource file within the selected directory. If the user is on a computer running Mac OS X, they can accomplish the same task using the “COMMAND + INSERT” keyboard shortcut.

An Updated AVD Manager

The AVD Manager, which is short for Android Virtual Device, is a tool built into Android Studio 1.0 that allows users to debug and check the performance of the apps that they’re building. The 1.0 release of Android Studio provides a completely updated graphical user interface, allowing developers to select the most popular mobile and tablet device configurations through which to test their apps easier than ever before. Users can now use the GUI to select an ideal resolution for testing and other qualities that go into the “Quality Control” aspect of an app’s release.

One of the core components of the AVD Manager is the Memory Monitor, which allows developers to easily see the memory usage of a particular app. This tool is easily used to locate sources of potential memory leaks, perform deallocation of objects and more.

Brand New Lint Inspections

Other additions to Android Studio 1.0 involve an entirely new set of Lint inspections that developers can use to aid them throughout the debugging process. One new addition is used to check safe values during application development, for example. Another is designed specifically in situations where a property assignment is no longer working in the way it was intended, but no clear reason is immediately available. Other new Lint inspections focus on right to left validation, API version requirements, fragment injection security checks and more.

Bug Fixes and Other Updates

As with any new stable release of a platform like Android Studio, the 1.0 version also provides a series of new bug fixes that users of release candidates have reported over the last few months. One of these problems involved an issue where patch update warnings where experienced any time two key .properties and .plist files were edited. Android Studio 1.0 has also redesigned the component that is used to customize launchers for apps designed for all three major Android platforms, meaning that you no longer need to edit any of the files contained within IDE directories.
Stephen L

The New Tools You Need To Know From Google Play Services In 2014

Stephen

android_kitkat

If you’re trying to give your Android users more features and increased compatibility with a wide range of different devices, Google Play Services is your key to doing just that. Originally designed to provide Android app developers with a simplified way to access features like the Google+ API, the service has long since expanded to cover a huge range of Google’s services. It was designed to allow applications an easier way to communicate with all of the online services that millions of users around the world are already using. Google Play Services continued that evolution across 2014, adding a wide range of new tools that you’ll definitely want to know more about.

Google Wallet

One of the most interesting new forms of technology to be embraced by the public at large in 2014 is the concept of the virtual wallet. Though the technology to use a mobile phone or other electronic device to pay for goods and services at stores in your neighborhood is nothing new, Apple brought it to the forefront of the discussion by making it a standard feature in both iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones. Google Play Services added a new feature in 2014 to respond to that discussion in the form of increased support with Google’s own mobile payment service, Google Wallet.

Google Wallet support, also sometimes referred to as “Google Pay” in a clear allusion to Apple’s “Apple Pay” offering, gives app developers to build a convenient “Save to Wallet” button into their app should they so choose. The user can then use the app to split a Google Wallet balance, receive in-store notifications that are based on geography, scan digital gift cards or coupons and more.

Wearables

Another new tool to make its debut in Google Play Services in 2014 includes increased support for wearable devices that are powered on Android technology. Though the Apple iWatch seems to be capturing the majority of wearable-related headlines, especially as it draws closer and closer to release, there are already a wide range of different wearable technology devices powered on Android. Increased compatibility for these devices in Google Play Services allows developers to create apps that can sync with code on these wearables automatically. They can also store huge amounts of data and even provide the end user with a convenient messaging interface.

Games Services

Another notable tool in Google Play Services in 2014 allows developers to easily create varied and significant gaming experiences for apps running android. “Quests” is a feature that allows developers to create event-based challenges that players can use to compete with each other for a variety of different types of rewards. The “Game Profile” functionality allows users to take game data with them as they go, allowing points earned in games to be leveraged against their profile that resembles a character sheet from a role playing game. As a user completes more games, points are added to their overall profile and “Levels” are earned. The higher the level, the more cachet the gamer carries.

Google Drive Support

Finally, Google Play Services has dramatically increased its overall level of compatibility with Google Drive services in 2014. App developers can now add in functionality to apps like the ability to sort search results based on a wide variety of different factors, the ability for users to create offline folders to access files when no Internet connection is present and more. Developers can now also select any MIME type in the “File Picket” by default, saving a great deal of time moving forward.

Stephen L