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

The Difference Between Apple Health, Microsoft Health and Google Fit

Edgar

tourists

It’s the information age, and more people are learning how to live healthier lives. Those seeking to improve their diet, lose weight, or just get into the habit of exercising can find help from three leaders in the information technology space: Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Each company has launched its own version of a health suite that lets users gather data about their lifestyle and find ways to improve. For app developers, these new projects present exciting opportunities to break into the health and fitness market. Read on to learn about the features and differences between these health apps.

Apple Health

Apple’s new Health app lets you view and manage your personal health and fitness information. You can input data about yourself, such as age, weight, measurements, and underlying medical conditions. All your data is encryped when your phone is locked and can be backed up to your iCloud account.

Apple Health also lets you:

  • View graphical displays of your weight, calories burned, and other information.
  • Access multiple categories such as sleep, nutrition, vital signs, and heart rate.
  • Create an emergency card with information for doctors and parademics.
  • Determine which third-party apps are allowed to access your health information.

Apple Health includes a developer toolkit, HealthKit, that allows other app designers to integrate their fitness apps with the data stored in your Apple Health dashboard. You can also easily share information with your doctor, helping streamline checkups. It helps create a more expansive network of information that keeps you focused on your goals.

Microsoft Health

Like Apple Health, Microsoft’s Health app offers cloud support and the ability to keep track of your health and fitness data. However, Microsoft’s new project uses data gathered from external devices such as smart watches, Microsoft Band, and integrated apps like MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness. When you use these devices while running or working out at the gym, data such as calories burned and heart rate are sent to Microsoft Health via the cloud. While it sounds promising, the project is still in its early stages. Microsoft claims that in time their Health app will be able to pull and analyze information from an array of sources to help you live healthier.

Google Fit

Google Fit isn’t a health app by itself, but a platform to help developers build their own apps and sports equipment companies manufacture smarter gear. It this regard, it’s similar to Apple’s HealthKit.

  • View data transmitted through sensors from integrated apps and equipment.
  • Integrate sensors and apps with Google Fit.
  • Manage current and historical data stored in Google Fit.

Google Fit has support from over a dozen multinational companies including Adidas, Asus, Intel, LG, Nike, and Strava.

Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all aiming to create a full-featured health suite that connects to other apps and health monitoring devices. Apple Health stands as the most complete app, while Microsoft’s variation is in its infant stages. Google Fit boasts the most integration of the three, and can help developers reach a huge market. Where app quality is concerned, all three projects are by no means complete, and we’ll likely see improvements in functionality and compatibility in the future.

 

Edgar L

Head to Head App Testing

Head to HeadWhen you’re testing a mobile app, you’re looking for things like functionality, usability and security. You probably form your own opinion of the app and maybe even compare it in your head to other, similar apps – but that’s not an official, reportable part of testing. Well, today we’re going to satisfy that human need to compare things.

Let’s start with PCWorld‘s comparison of mobile search apps from Google, Bing and Yahoo on Android. Here’s what they came up with:

Interface, Tools, and Navigation

Bing’s Beauty
Bing’s appeal is obvious from the moment you launch the app: Its full-screen interface is gorgeous. The app highlights the same image of the day on the desktop version of Bing. A list of search options runs down the screen, allowing you to choose from among images, videos, maps, local, deals, movies, news, shopping, and directions. …

Every Bing screen includes a search query bar at the top. You can enter a query by typing it, or you can press the microphone icon and then enter the query by voice. Bing’s voice recognition software worked flawlessly (as it did on the Google and Yahoo apps as well). Once you begin typing, Bing automatically pushes you to its search page, which displays suggestions as you type. This text-heavy page lacks the visual grace notes that Bing sports on its other pages. …

Overall Bing was most notable for delivering a slick, intuitive mobile search interface.

Favorite interface: Bing. With its mix of beauty and intuitive navigation, Bing looks great and is easy to use, too.

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Word on The Street: 75% of Apps Not Tested

There’s an obvious reason why that app you just downloaded doesn’t work: it wasn’t tested! In fact, according to a recent article on The Street, that’s the case for 75% of all mobile applications. As you might imagine, that stat makes us want to grab a rifle and head to the nearest clock tower. Kidding, kidding (sort of).

Lucky for the mobile world, the article also highlights several mobile app testing solutions. Take a look:

A new group of start-ups is hoping to address this problem by developing testing solutions for companies and brands looking to try out their mobile apps in real-world conditions prior to launch.

uTest, based in Southborough, Mass., provides so-called crowd-sourced mobile app testing. Companies ranging from Google (GOOG) and Groupon (GRPN) to small start-ups submit their apps to uTest which are then tested for kinks by its community of over 50,000 professional testers.

uTest offers several types of testing, including functional (ensuring features such as log-in and installation work properly), load and performance testing (making sure the app is prepared for peak usage times) and security testing (keeping the app safe from hackers).

Apps are also tested across a variety of platforms, including iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian, as well as a handful of carriers and geographies to ensure they can perform under different conditions.

“Especially in the Android environment there’s no such thing as a single platform,” said Carlos Montero-Luque, SVP of Engineering at Boston-based Apperian, which helps customers like NetApp (NTAP) and Estee Lauder (EL) distribute and manage their own custom-made mobile apps. “uTest allows us to do more than 90 combinations of different phones, networks, carriers, and versions of the operating system.”

Read the rest >>>

Update on Android’s In-App Billing

From AcurraCastNews.com:

Mobile payments have become the hottest topic of the month. Orange first announced their offering in the UK. Google followed suit with the announcement of a partnership with Mastercard and now another announcement about the launch of In-app Billing for the Android market.

Android developers will now be able to publish their apps on the Android market with the ability for users to purchase them directly when they wish to do so.

While this facility will give users the ability to try-and-buy the app and also get upgrades when required, developers will be able to better monetise their apps.

A good number of apps are already available with the In-app Billing facility. Some of them are Tap Tap Revenge by Disney Mobile, Comics by Comixology and WSOP3 by Glu Mobile.

Google had first announced this In-app Billing facility in January at the Inside Mobile conference in San Francisco and had allowed users to start developing and testing these apps. To begin with, developers will have to fill out a detailed documentation form and will then be provided with a sample app to demonstrate how the feature works.

It will be imperative for users to follow the prescribed security guidelines, in order to prevent the inadvertent purchase of unwanted apps and also to prevent misuse of the facility by miscreants, as this could result in excess billing.

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Bank On It: Bugs in Mobile Payment Systems To Continue

Note to hackers: Set up a Google Alert for “mobile payment bugs”, wait for companies to announce serious flaws in their payment apps, and then proceed to steal their customers’ info and money.

Kidding of course, but with stories like this, you start to realize that mobile app testing is still far behind its web testing counterparts – especially in the ever critical realm of mobile payments. Expect this to be a recurring problem for the century or two.

InformationWeek’s Matthew Schwartz explains:

Smartphone banking applications from Bank of America, Chase, PayPal, TD Ameritrade, USAA, Wells Fargo, and Vanguard have bugs which an attacker could exploit to steal people’s personal financial information. So said digital forensics firm viaForensics in a security warning released Thursday.

“We encountered a surprising and increasing amount of highly sensitive financial and identity information on smartphones,” said Andrew Hoog, CIO of viaForensics. “This information, uncovered on both Apple iPhones and Google Android devices, would only benefit cyber criminals and identity thieves. While Google and Apple each approach the app review process differently, neither approach has prevented insecure applications from being installed.”

Major vulnerabilities encountered included some applications failing to validate security certificates, leaving them vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. Such attacks could recover “full user name, password, and account data,” said Hoog. Other applications failed to encrypt transmitted passwords, sending them as clear text. Others inappropriately “saved your data to the smartphone, allowing recovery of all financial information viewed in the application.”

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The Nexus 2 Running Gingerbread, OS Listed as v2.3

Venture Beat jumped on the story, and as a mobile nerd I had to post about it.

Google had previously indicated they are not creating a “Nexus 2/Second Google Phone,” but something tells me they were deflecting your attention away, because no software companies bend the truth anymore right?

Well Samsung has invited Android Media folks (according to Cnet among others) to a special event on November 8th unveiling a “new Android device.” What else would be so big for Samsung to release after they just were finished launching an incredible line of Galaxy S phones running Android?

All this news ties in with the question I posed in my last blog post about which version number would be assigned to the Gingerbread OS. It appears to be confirmed from many sources that Gingerbread will indeed be 2.3. What really seals the deal for me on this version number? Android Central’s post yesterday which displays the Google analytics that have v2.3 listed as an official OS version.

Now we must all speculate that the 3.0.1 OS that is listed is clearly Honeycomb. Speculate! Now!

All Your Mobile Search Are Belong To Us (Google)

Meet the mobile search boss, same as the web search boss:

So what makes Google such an unstoppable force in mobile search? It likely comes down to mobile website performance: According to the Yankee Group’s third annual mobile site survey, Google beats all rivals across a host of usability metrics including page loading speeds, the volume of data downloaded, access reliability and the frequency and types of mobile ads served. Google scored 81 points in the Yankee Group mobile website trial, followed by Bing at 70 points and AOL at 69–Google owes its top ranking to factors like support for location-based services, reduced advertising and voice-enabled search functionality as well as its user-friendly interface and speedy response times. (from FierceMobileContent.com)

There you have it. Google performs best where it matters most, and it shows up across the board. You’ll notice that the criteria employed by the Yankee Group is also the criteria used by companies when testing their mobile applications.

Update: Before the grammar police arrest me over the title of the post, I would like to point out that it is a spoof of this famous incident.