What Are Some Of The Best Apps For The Apple Watch?

Stephen L

apple_watch_close_up

Even though it’s only been in release for a short period of time, the verdict is in: the Apple Watch is NOT the disaster that many predicted it to be. Though it is hardly selling at the same volume as Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices, company insiders recently revealed that the wearable device is performing “well above” their initial expectations. One of the primary reasons for this is because the Apple Watch is already backed by a large number of high quality apps that users around the world are finding deep value in. Make no mistake: even the most powerful piece of hardware will eventually fail if it doesn’t have equally powerful software to power it. If you’re a new Apple Watch owner and are looking to get the most out of your device, there are a number of key apps that you’ll definitely want to download.

Weather Nerd

At its core, the Apple Watch is a device that is designed to simplify your life and put all relevant information that you need throughout the day within reach at all times. This is one of the reasons why the Weather Nerd app is so important – it takes detailed forecast information and condenses it down into a level of detail that the user has complete control over at all times. If you’re just looking for a quick daily forecast, you can get it with a finger tap. If you’re looking for something more like the hourly rainfall details, a six day upcoming forecast, temperature estimates for the next hour, week or longer, Weather Nerd will deliver this data, too.

Shazam

One of the most intuitive apps on the Apple Watch is actually a new version of an old classic – Shazam. For those unfamiliar, Shazam is an app that will use your device’s microphone to “listen” to a song that is playing somewhere in the area. If you don’t know the name of the song, the artist who recorded it or the album that it originally appeared on, Shazam will tell you in just a few quick seconds. What makes the Apple Watch version of Shazam so valuable, however, is that an already easy process is somehow even more straightforward thanks to the Watch’s prominence on your wrist. You don’t have to even think about taking your phone out of your pocket to learn more about a song that you’re hearing – you can just wave your wrist in a very specific motion and Shazam will discreetly take care of the rest. You can also use Shazam to quickly look up lyrics and other relevant information and more.

Clear

Though iOS devices have long made Apple’s first-party “Reminders” app a baked in part of the operating system, the Apple Watch ships with no such equivalent. If you’re looking for a powerful yet straightforward to-do list application for your new device, Clear is certainly the best option available on the market today. Clear provides you fast and easy access to all of your responsibilities for the day in a level of detail that would feel cumbersome in the built-in “Calendar” application. You can create or clear a task with the swipe of your finger and can get a quick, detailed breakdown of your upcoming tasks just by raising your wrist.

ProCamera

One of the strengths of the Apple Watch involves the many different ways that it interacts with the iPhone you already have. Case in point: the ProCamera application is designed to use your Apple Watch to add a variety of integral features to your iPhone’s camera. You can use ProCamera as a remote for the camera, for example, or as a secondary viewfinder whenever you’d like.

Stephen L

Google’s Eddystone Beacons: Integrating Technology into the Real World

Danielle R

estimote-beacon

Early this month, Google announced the launch of its Eddystone project.  Eddystone is a platform designed to manage Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon devices, which allow physical locations to passively transmit information to smartphones and other handheld devices.  The Internet of Things continues to grow, and Eddystone beacons are a huge step.  Best of all: much like other Google initiatives, Eddystone is both open source and cross-platform.

Better than Apple?

Before Eddystone, Apple’s iBeacon was pretty much the only kid on the beacon playground. Like most things Apple, iBeacon is a great resource for iPhones, iPads, and various iDevices, but Android users are left in the cold. iBeacon does have some limited Android integration, but for the most part lacks the interaction that iUsers achieve.

Since Eddystone is cross-platform, it conveniently bypasses this issue. All smartphones will be able to interact with Eddystone beacons.

Additionally, iBeacon is Bluetooth specific. Since Bluetooth beacons only allow one-way communication, they generally are only capable of sending some type of notification which the user must negotiate with into a platform more suited to transferring data (such as a web browser). Eddystone supports multiple data payloads or frame types, which allow Eddystone beacons increased functionality in the internet of things.

Last, but certainly not least, Eddystone will be available open source on GitHub so that developers can create customizations to fit their precise needs. iBeacon, just like most Apple software, is jealously guarded behind the Apple wall of secrecy.

How Does Eddystone Work?

A BLE beacon is attached to some area of interest in the world; perhaps a coffee shop, or a big conference hotel. These beacons send out information about the point of interest.  A smartphone or tablet device listens for the beacon’s cry.  When in range of the BLE transmitter, the device displays the information for the consumer.  In this way, things like store promotions, conference details, or information blasts about museum exhibits can be displayed to users in real time precisely when they would find this information useful.

As mentioned above, Eddystone does this using several frame types:

  • Universal Unique Identifier (or UUID):  This 128-bit value uniquely identifies every individual beacon in the world.  Individual apps can be programmed to listen for specific UUIDs (so if a user has downloaded a store’s app, that app can interact with the user in the retail location).  Since UUIDs are specifically tied to individual developers, they require these apps in order to interact with a user.  This is the only type of information that iBeacon can send.  Eddystone, on the other hand, has a few additional tricks…
  • URL: Eddystone can also send a URL which will open in a user’s web browser, allowing the user to interact without the necessity of an app.  URLs from BLE beacons plug directly into the concept of the internet of things, and allows versatile applications for Eddystone.  Essentially the real world can become a web-interface and objects touch points for virtual portals.
  • Ephemeral Identifiers (or EIDs): Specifically designed as a secure frame type, Google has designed EIDs to allow authorization via BLE.  Not many details are available about this new feature yet, but it is anticipated to be very much akin to Motorola’s Keylink and other similar services.
  • Telemetry: Since Beacons generally require batteries, Telemetry data will allow a company that manages a Beacon fleet to receive feedback on individual Beacons.  Diagnostic data can be sent via Telemetry back to IT departments such that the Beacons can be easily maintained, even if there’s a large network on hand.

Eddystone is exciting; and we can’t wait to hear more.  Thanks once again, Google, for your devotion to innovation.

Danielle R

What You Need To Know About Amazon Echo

Danielle R

amazon_echo

Amazon’s not-quite-new hybrid wireless device has been made available to the market at large. The Echo, a speaker/home assistant/voice-activated automation hub device, was initially only available to Amazon prime members for a “beta test” discount of $99. Starting July 14th, Amazon Echo is available to all for the much less pithy price of $179.99. But is this device worth the dive? Here are the features of Amazon Echo that you need to know about to determine whether it is a “must have” or a “can miss”.

Meet Alexa

Alexa is Amazon’s Siri equivalent.  A female voice (unable to be changed at this present time), she is your key to Echo’s voice-activated features.  Her voice is described as less robotic than Siri’s and unassumingly pleasant.  Alexa begins to listen when she hears her name (and a volume ring located on top of the 9.25″ canister speaker will light up to indicate this).  Alexa seems to be fairly good at listening and most users report no problems with her understanding their commands.  The only hitch is that the commands cannot always be worded in a grammatically correct way; for instance asking Alexa to look up information on Wikipedia means saying: “Alexa, Wikipedia: Computer” instead of saying “Alexa, what is a computer?”  Still, Alexa has proven to be getting better over the period of her beta test; and since Amazon has opened Echo to third-party developers she should be getting much smarter much faster.

Echo’s Current Features

While Alexa learns new tricks every day, her current roster is rather impressive.  She plays music, and can be asked to run the basic gamut of abilities that a music player will need.  Voice commands like “repeat,” “stop”and “play” are standard for her repertoire.  She integrates completely with Amazon Prime Music, Pandora, Audible, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio, and has some limited integration with Spotify and iTunes.

She can tell you your schedule via Google calendar plugin, but she can’t yet add appointments.  She can also add items to a proprietary to-do list, but does not yet know how to remove items from this list.

She can tell you the weather or the traffic expected for your commute once you acquaint her with the places you most frequently visit via Amazon’s Echo app.

When paired with Philips Hue or Belkin WeMo devices, she can control compatible devices within your home.  She isn’t yet compatible with all Hue or WeMo products, so ensure that you look into each separately before assuming she knows how to deal with them.

The Drawbacks

While the Echo is definitely sized for portability, it does not have its own portable battery and must be plugged in when powered on.  Because of this, the device generally remains stationary which could limit its functionality.

Limited interaction with Spotify and iTunes mean that users who prefer these music systems can only use their most basic functionality and will not have access to things like artist look-up when using them.

As a speaker, the Echo falls short of the mark.  Bass tones are nearly impossible to hear on the device without distortion.  While music without heavy bass tends to be perfectly fine, the device doesn’t compare to other speakers in its price range purely based on sound quality.

Summing it Up

Despite a few drawbacks, we’re excited to see where Alexa goes in the next year or so.  Look for some really astounding features; if not directly from Amazon, then from third-party resources who know how to make home automation work for them.

Danielle R

What’s New In iOS 8.4?

Stephen L

iphone-4

For a person who prides themselves on always staying with the cutting edge of technology, there are few days more exciting than when a major operating system update is released for your device. Oftentimes it brings with it so many new features that it can feel like you’ve gotten an entirely new phone without spending even a dime of your hard-earned money. That is certainly the approach that tech giant Apple seems to be taking with the release of iOS 8.4, the first major operating system update for iPhone and iPad devices since iOS 8.0 in September of 2014. iOS 8.4 brings with it a surprisingly large amount of new functionality that has millions of people around the world rushing to download and install as quickly as possible.

Apple Music

Perhaps the most important new feature that iOS 8.4 brings to the table takes the form of Apple Music, the tech giant’s answer to popular subscription streaming music services like Spotify and Pandora. Anyone who has ever used a subscription service will find Apple Music delightfully familiar: in exchange for a small monthly fee, you get access to every last song in the iTunes Music Store at your beck and call.

When a user launches Apple Music for the first time, they are asked to identify certain genres, artists and even albums that they like. This information is then fed into an algorithm that is used to suggest customized playlists and full albums on a regular basis. The major benefit of Apple Music is that it becomes more intuitive as time goes on. When a user “loves” a certain artist or album, for example, that is taken into account when future suggestions are made.

Playlists and albums identified via Apple Music can also be saved to be played offline, which is a feature that many other streaming services lack. Those offline items will then be accessible on any iOS or OS X device that the user has for the duration of either their free three month trial or their Apple Music account.

Content Relocation

One of the changes that iOS 8.4 brings to the table that is causing a fair amount of controversy for both users and developers, however, has come in the form of content re-location. Perhaps the biggest shift is the fact that audio books and other types of audio-based content are no longer found within the “Music” app, as has been the case for much of iOS’s existence. Instead, these items are now found within the “iBooks” app, which has shifted from an optional download to a pre-installed item in the last few years. All print and audio books are now accessible in this location.

CarPlay Functionality Expands

Apple has placed significant emphasis on the CarPlay functionality of iOS for the last several iterations, which is a trend that continues to expand with iOS 8.4. The newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system has introduced an “Audiobooks for CarPlay” app, for example, giving drivers a new, dedicated interface to use when playing their audiobooks while driving in a car. CarPlay in general is designed to allow users to control more of iOS’s many functions using Siri voice commands as opposed to the touch of their fingers, attempting to keep their hands on the wheel of their car at all times.

In that regard, a “Audiobooks for CarPlay” dedicated app does make a fair amount of sense – especially considering that the “Music” app is no longer the home to this type of content, nor is this content likely to return there at any point in the future.

Stephen L

What You Need To Know About The Latest Adobe Flash Vulnerabilities

Stephen L

Mobile app security

To say that Adobe Flash has been mired in controversy for much of its existence is something of an understatement. For millions of computer users around the world, Adobe Flash represents a catch-22 of the highest order. While it is necessary to play many of the streaming videos that users have come to enjoy on a daily basis, it also brings with it a large number of disadvantages that are difficult to ignore. Not only is Flash a huge burden on the resources of older computers, but it also opens a machine up to a huge number of potentially devastating vulnerabilities, as the news of the last week has so expertly illustrated.

Adobe Flash and Security: What Happened Now?

Last week, a new series of catastrophic Adobe Flash vulnerabilities were uncovered during some routine testing by Alex Stamos. For those unaware, Stamos acts as the chief security officer for social media giant Facebook. Not only could these new vulnerabilities potentially be used to overload a system’s resources, but they could also likely be used as a “backdoor” into the system that would allow a hacker to compromise the sensitive information stored inside. As a result of his findings, Stamos publicly stated that he hoped Adobe would finally use this as an excuse to discontinue the antiquated software once and for all.

The backlash of this news was swift and immediate. Both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, the two most popular Web browsers on planet Earth, released new versions that specifically disabled Adobe Flash functionality by default as a result of these security issues. Developers for both Mozilla and Google indicated that Flash would continue to remain disabled indefinitely until the security issues were properly addressed by Adobe. Users could still opt into the use of Flash on their systems if they wanted to, but the process can be difficult for someone without at least an intermediate level of computer knowledge. All current and past versions of Flash were blocked by both of these browsers.

Many people took this as a sign that the winds of streaming content are truly changing and that Google and Mozilla were teaming up in an attempt to “kill” Flash once and for all. They are hardly the only two companies to attempt to do so in the last several years for these very reasons. Streaming video site YouTube has been steadily moving away from its dependence on Flash, allowing users to opt into the use of HTML5 for all streaming video needs for some time now.

What Is Adobe Doing?

To its credit, Adobe has quickly taken a number of steps in order to improve the security capabilities of Flash and address the issues of the past week as wholly as possible. Three new defenses were released in the latest version of Flash, for example, that were designed by developers at Adobe and Google working in conjunction with one anther.

One of these fixes included a new vector unit buffer heap partitioning system, which keeps arrays separated from other heap objects. An attempt by a hacker to overflow a vector’s length is therefore much more difficult than it had been in the past. Stronger randomization for Flash heaps was also released, closing off one channel that was previously used by hackers in the past. In order to properly exploit Flash, a hacker needs to know the way that Flash is laying out memory on a particular system. Thanks to this new, higher level of randomization, the aforementioned process has become exponentially more difficult.

Stephen L

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