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

Wearable Tech Announcements In 2014 That Have Implications For Testers

Stephen

samsung_simband

There was a time not long ago where the idea of wearable tech really only existed in jokes and in 1950s science fiction films. It wasn’t uncommon to see Captain Kirk use some type of wearable technology on the bridge of the Enterprise, but as a concept it wasn’t necessarily something that people were actually expected to embrace – even in the advanced, tech-rich world of 2014. All of that changed with a few key wearable tech announcements in 2014, suddenly bringing both legitimacy and true excitement to the concept for the first time. Out of all of the wearable tech announcements that happened in 2014, there are a few in particular that have implications for testers.

The Apple Watch

Perhaps the biggest announcement regarding wearable tech in 2014 involves Apple’s foray into this particular section of the market, the Apple Watch. Scheduled to be released in 2015, the Apple Watch most notably features a “digital crown” that is designed to mimic the dial on a traditional watch but allow a user to scroll, zoom and even navigate the device’s touch screen interface. This digital crown also happens to have pretty significant implications for testers, as it is essentially a step in a bold new direction for Apple in general.

All Apple mobile devices released in the last few years have been controlled in the same way – the touch screen interface. Not only do apps and hardware accessories still need to be compatible with the larger iOS ecosystem, but they now have the “X-factor” of this digital crown. The crown is designed to be used in a different way depending on the context, which essentially means redefining core functionality on an as-needed basis.

Mobile Payments

When testers break out a new piece of wearable technology, they are essentially required to make sure that all aspects are functioning at peak efficiency. One of the main features that Apple and other wearable tech manufacturers emphasized in 2014 was the compatibility of these types of devices with mobile payments. Apple’s Watch natively supports Apple Pay, for example. As a result, just as the hardware itself is bravely moving forward into uncharted territory, so is the software that runs on it. Testers will need to not only familiarize themselves with new and unique wearable tech devices, but will also have to embrace dramatic new concepts like Apple Pay at the exact same time.

Testers Are About to Start Getting Fit

Apple and other wearables manufacturers made no secret in 2014 of the fact that many of their devices had an increased emphasis on the health and well being of the user. Apple’s Watch includes many health related features like a heart rate monitor, for example, and also includes functionality designed to complement the step tracker and other Health Kit features inherent in iOS 8.

These types of features are designed to turn wearable tech less into the personal assistant that something like a smartphone has become and more into a full fledged personal trainer. Have you been running for too long and desperately need a break? Your smart watch will be sure to let you know.

As a result, testing now requires people to put these new health related features through the ringer – which means getting out and getting fit themselves. Ideally, wearable tech is something that you could use to track your progress while you’re out on a morning jog, when you’re training for a marathon and in every situation in between. Perhaps the biggest implication for testers regarding wearable tech is that their job has just become as mobile as the hardware itself.

Android Wear

Another significant development to come along in 2014 for wearable technology can be summed up by two simple words: Android Wear. There are currently six unique watches in the Android Wear collection, each with dozens of different watch faces that users can choose from depending on their tastes.

Android Wear also has significant implications for developers, particularly with regards to location-based functionality. Android Wear devices are designed to be useful throughout all aspects of a person’s day, which essentially turns the testing process into a 24/7 experience. Users can do everything from book dinner reservations, get meeting notifications, see weather and traffic updates and even track fitness routines like running or jogging all from an Android Wear device with voice commands.

Stephen L

What You Need To Know About Mozilla’s Rust Programming Language

Stephen

rust_logoMozilla’s Rust is one of the many programming languages that is available for development professionals in today’s modern technological environment. First bursting onto the digital scene in 2012, Rust is heavily influenced by languages like Napier, C++, Common Lisp, Erlang and more. Rust is the brainchild of a Mozilla employee by the name of Graydon Hoare. In the years since it has been described as one of the most safe and practical programming languages currently available. The question of whether Rust is right for your next project, however, remains to be seen.

There are a few important factors regarding Mozilla’s Rust programming language that you’ll definitely want to consider before making a decision regarding your next big project.

Design and Core Functionality

Since its original inception, the goal of the Rust programming language has been to expedite the creation of both server programs and large client programs that run over the Internet. As a result, the design and core functionality of Rust emphasize both safety and control above all else. The Rust programming language is also designed to be memory safe, which means that by design it aims to completely eliminate the types of bugs that traditional lead to security vulnerabilities where RAM is concerned. Buffer overflows, dangling pointers and other issues that regularly plague other programming languages are under careful supervision with regards to Rust.

Syntax

One of the major considerations of any programming language has to do with the syntax being used. Syntax is a term that refers to the way that words, symbols and other characters must be arranged to create the sentences that make up the backbone of the language itself. By its very design, the syntax of Rust is incredibly similar to that of both C++ and C, meaning that anyone proficient in those languages should have no trouble adapting to the syntax of Rust. More specifically, blocks of code are delimited through the use of braces. Keywords like “if,” “while” and “for” also make appearances in Rust. Not all keywords that you might be familiar with from C++ are accounted for, however, like the “match” command.

The Type System

One of the biggest attributes of Rust is its type system, which it refers to as “traits.” The Rust developers have made no secret of the fact that these traits were directly inspired by the Haskell programming language. Variables that are used with Rust don’t necessarily have to be assigned a value to determine their type, though a compile-time error will occur if code fails to assign a value to the variable in question when it is in use.

Update Frequency and Type

Because Rust is still a relatively new programming language, it is still readily supported by its original developers. If you’re planning on using Rust for your next big project, however, you’ll soon find out that this means both “good news” and “bad news.” The good news is that new versions of Rust have been released several times a year since 2012. 2014 alone saw the release of versions 0.10, 0.11 and 0.12 in April, July and October, respectively. The “bad news” as some will no doubt interpret it is that Rust is still evolving in a pretty dramatic way, which can mean significant changes every time a new version rolls around.

The style of the object system that Rust uses changed significantly between versions 0.2 to 0.4, for example. Classes were first introduced in version 0.2, though by the time 0.4 was released traits were now added to provide inheritance and classes were removed completely.

Stephen L

Top Tools For Cross-Platform App Development

Stephen

iOS Android Windows Phone

Because the cost of developing native applications is still high, cross platform app development is more important than ever. If you’re going to invest the time, energy and resources into developing a high quality piece of software, you always want to make sure that it works on as many platforms as possible. Though Apple’s iPhone and its iOS environment is still the proverbial “king of the hill” with regards to mobile devices, Apple is not the only game in town. You still need to think about the ever-popular Android, for example, along with classic operating system environments like BlackBerry and Windows Phone.

There are a few key tools for cross-platform web apps in particular that are definitely worth exploring.

Apache Cordova

A variety of different open source, cross-platform app development tools are based on Apache Cordova. The most famous of these is likely PhoneGap, which allows you to develop your mobile apps natively in eight different platforms – including both of today’s “top dogs,” iOS and Android. The key to Apache Cordova and related tools is that they let you develop mobile apps using all of the latest web technologies. Cordova is also one of the most trusted tools currently available thanks to the fact that it is also one of the oldest and most well-respected.

GWT

Pronounced “Gwit,” GWT is an open source development project that aims to both increase productivity for developers and performance for users. GWT is specifically designed to both build and optimize browser-based applications on a wide variety of different platforms. To put things into perspective, Google regularly uses GWT for many of its projects – some that you may not even realize. Good AdWords and Google Wallet, for example, are just two of the many Google projects that have been developed using the GWT toolkit.

J2ObjC

J2ObjC is an objective C translation tool and runtime environment that is designed to make development from Java to the Apple iOS architecture as easy as possible. It’s an open source command line tool that was created by Google to help developers include Java code in applications built for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch iOS platforms. Data access, application logic and other important parameters can be written in an app’s non user interface code, at which point it can be shared via a variety of web apps using additional development tools like GWT. Support for Android apps is also available in addition to iOS applications, enabling true cross platform development in a fraction of the time. J2ObjC requires JDK 1.7 or higher, Xcode 5 or higher and is specifically designed to be used on the Mac OS X 10.9 or higher operating systems.

Xamarin

Xamarin is a lightweight tool designed with a simple yet lofty goal – to make the development of mobile apps written in C# as easy as possible. The apps that developers are creating with Xamarin are native, which means that both the interface and the performance of the app will see significant boosts. Windows Phone, Android, iOS and a huge range of other platforms are also natively supported thanks to an extensive selection of built-in APIs.

Appcelerator Titanium

To say that Appcelerator Titanium is a popular platform is something of an understatement. More than 50,000 mobile apps have been built with it since its original release. Its major benefit is that it offers an open source SDK based on JavaScript. It also has an inventory of more than 5000 APIS for nearly any type of platform that you may need like HTML5, iOS and everything in between.

Stephen L

What You Need To Know About Google’s Dart Programming Language

Stephen

google_dart

Picking out programming languages is a lot like picking out a car – you need to make sure that you’re making the right decision because whichever product you decide on you’ll be spending a huge amount of time with. One of the more recent programming languages to gain prominence is an open source platform from search engine giant Google called Dart. It’s both object oriented and class based and first appeared in early November of 2014. It’s  heavily influenced by JavaScript, Strongtalk, C# and other languages that most developers already have a certain degree of familiarity with.

There are a few key factors about Google’s Dart programming language that you’re definitely going to want to know as much about as possible.

The Intention of Dart

One of the most important things to understand about the Dart programming language is exactly why it exists in the first place. Since originally announcing the project in 2011, Google engineers have made it very clear that Dart is designed to eventually completely replace JavaScript as the default bridge language on the Internet. According to the project’s leaders, doing so would allow for the general expansion of the open web platform and would lead to a much easier development environment for everyone involved.

Despite those admittedly lofty goals, however, Dart has not yet reached that point. Until widespread support of Dart is adopted, source-to-source compilers for JavaScript are required in order to run Dart code in mainstream browsers like Mozilla Firefox or Apple’s Safari, among others.

Using Dart

Because Dart is still a relatively new programming language, there are three main methods that developers will have to use in order to run code written using it. The first is to compile that code as JavaScript using the compiler dart2js. This is probably the best method for using Dart, as it extends compatibility to all major browsers. This allows developers to use whichever browser they feel the most comfortable in, rather than relying on one required browser as is the case with other programming languages.

The second main way to run Dart is using the Dartium Web browser. This is a version of the Chromium Web browser that has been specifically adjusted to include a Dart VM (virtual machine) environment. It is intended as the primary development tool for all applications written in Dart and is not designed to be used as a standalone web browsing environment.

The third main way to run Dart code is through the use of a stand-alone Dart virtual machine, which is included in the Dart SDK.

Dart Editors

Google released its official Dart Editor way back in November of 2011. Based on components most commonly recognized from Eclipse, Dart Editor is an open-source editing environment that is compatible with the Mac OS X and Windows operating systems, as well as all major distributions of Linux like Ubuntu. Dart Editor supports a wide variety of different functions that developers will find particularly useful like JavaScript compilation, syntax highlighting and more.

Since late 2013, the team behind Chromium has also been working on a Chrome app development environment specifically for working with Dart. Though the product was designed under the code name “Spark,” it was later officially named the Chrome Dev Editor. Chromium is the open sourced Web browser that the Chrome browser is built on. Chrome Dev Editor contains a number of important features that will be of particular use to people coding in Dart, like a graphical user interface widgets library. It is currently available to download as a “Developer Preview” in the Chrome Web Store.

Stephen L

Why Dominos Pizza Is Winning In Mobile

Stephen

pizza_flickr_cc

When you start to think about all of the businesses that are effectively utilizing the smartphone, tablet and Web apps, Dominos Pizza may not necessarily be at the top of that list … if it’s on the list at all. It’s not uncommon to look at a company like Dominos and think, “They may be great at making pizzas, but what could they possibly know about mobile technology?”

Despite conventional wisdom pointing to the contrary, the reality of the situation is actually the exact opposite of that idea: Dominos is not only excelling across the board when it comes to mobile, they’re actually doing better than just about every large organization out there. There are national technology businesses that aren’t utilizing smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices as effectively as Dominos. When you take a closer look at the types of activities that the company is up to and the overall app quality that they’ve been able to achieve, it’s easy to see why.

User Involvement

One of the major reasons why Dominos is seeing such success in the mobile environment has to do with the level of user involvement that they now provide. If you wanted to order a pizza ten years ago, for example, you would pick up your phone and call the nearest location. After a brief communication with an employee, the role the customer played in the equation essentially ended. All they could do is wait patiently for their food to arrive and that would be that.

Thanks to the Dominos mobile app, however, the user is now involved in every step of the way. You can design your own pizza right from the app using a great custom interface filled with graphics representing every last topping. You can include special instructions regarding where you want your pepperoni, or how many olives you can stand before you’ve reached the point of “too many.”

More importantly than that, the customers knows exactly where their pizza is in real-time until the moment it arrives at their door. You get regular status updates regarding when your pizza goes into the oven, when it’s been prepared for delivery, when it’s out for delivery and more. The Dominos mobile experience provides a constant stream of all relevant information right to the user, keeping them engaged in the experience at all times.

Ease of Use

Along the same lines, Dominos understands what so many large organizations fail to consider: the idea of keeping it simple. Even though the Dominos mobile app allows you to do so much, it’s still a sleek, streamlined and basic interface that is never difficult to use, regardless of how complicated your order may be.

Fun

Perhaps the biggest reason for Dominos Pizza’s success in the mobile landscape, however, has to do with the concept of fun. They’ve taken the traditionally mundane idea of ordering and receiving something to eat and have essentially turned it into a fun game from start to finish. Not only that, but it’s also dramatically easier and more convenient than even picking up the phone and calling the local store yourself.

Dominos has been able to accomplish this by taking advantage of every last bit of technology that mobile devices have to offer. Not only do they offer users a stylish app with a properly formatted and engaging graphical user interface, but they’re also using GPS and other location services to allow users to literally track a pizza from start to finish.

Even if you don’t make pizzas or even deliver products directly to customers in 30 minutes or less, there is still quite a bit that you can learn from Dominos regarding properly adapting to new and exciting segments of technology like mobile.

Stephen L

Lead image: Pizza! by Flickr user Paul Tichonczuk, Creative Commons.