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How to Craft the Perfect Instagram Story Strategy to Promote Your Business


Instagram introduced the Story function to their platform in August 2016. Replicating Snapchat, the Instagram Story offers ephemeral visual content that disappears 24 hours after posting it.

As with the introduction of any new tool on social media, the first question a business must ask itself is: How can we leverage this new platform to promote our company, product or services?

Here are some tips to help you craft the perfect Instagram Story strategy:

GIVE A BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK

Instagram users expect the most touched-up and polished visual content to show up on the feed. Part of the appeal of the Instagram Story is that it offers a deeper, less polished look into the day-to-day life of the account.

Musicians take advantage of Instagram Stories by previewing snippets of new music on their stories. The fact that these stories will disappear activates a fan’s FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). If they see one of their favorite artists post to their story, they feel obligated to watch it or else they will miss out on exclusive music, otherwise they may have to wait months for an official release. Thus, it both offers a behind the scenes look and incites users to return to view more stories.

FOMO

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is a form of anxiety triggered by missing an opportunity. For example, when considering whether to go to an office party or a concert, one may be more driven to go because one doesn’t want to miss out on fun than wanting to enjoy the experience.

The ephemeral nature of the Instagram Story makes FOMO a major psychological factor determining whether a user elects to watch a story or not. If the user does not watch the story, they will never see the content. Businesses want to offer exclusive deals and content through their story that are not available anywhere else. Consumers who watch stories with exclusive deals and content are thereby rewarded and are more likely to watch them in the future to get more deals.

Incorporating exclusive deals will draw more users to watch your business’s Story because—well, it’ll make them afraid of missing out. Check out Psychology Today’s deep dive into FOMO.

KEEP IT FUN, KEEP IT LIGHT, KEEP IT MOVING

Take your Instagram Story on the road. Vary up the locations where you post and it will create more excitement as users will know to expect the unexpected when they view your story. Keep it light, give it some humor. Your Instagram Story should contain content that lightens the mood and makes viewers want to return.

MAKE IT A REAL STORY

Stories have a beginning, middle and end. Instagram Stories can conform to that structure as well! If an employee is going to a convention, have them document it in their story with an introduction post explaining their agenda for the day (beginning), videos of the most salient moments of the convention (middle), and a final post that wraps everything up and summarizes what they’ve gleaned (end).

Using storytelling techniques will keep users engaged in your feed and help Stories retain viewers from beginning to end.

ANALYTICS

Reviewing analytics and evaluating the metrics is a key process in evaluating your Story’s success. Use the Insights tab to see how many views your story received, how many shares, replies, profile visits, and how long users are watching your story to evaluate its success.

One of the key analytics is Completion Rate: what percentage of users watched your story from beginning to end? Evaluating completion rate, as well as Taps Forward, which shows when users tapped forward on a slide to see the next image, will help you determine whether your ideal posts per day are 2 or 12.

BE CONSISTENT

Consistency is key in social media. It takes time to develop a voice and even more time and effort to develop an audience. With a combination of a good strategy, solid content, and consistency, your business can leverage Instagram Stories to entice your customers and expand its reach.


Blog Cover Security

Protect Your Enterprise with the Top Mobile App Security Tips of 2019


A recent study conducted by AppKnox concluded that out of 100 top E-commerce apps, 95% failed basic security testing, 68% had four or more loopholes present in them, and 68% of apps were diagnosed with high severity threats.

Some of the most popular applications, including WhatsApp, Pokemon Go, and Facebook Messenger, are among the most frequently blacklisted among top enterprises due to the security risks they pose.

As a mobile app developer, security can lead to disaster for both your business and your consumers. Here are our top security tips for 2019:

TESTING AND CODE OPTIMIZATION

The two most important processes for building a secure app are extensive testing and constant refinement of code.

Disorganized code often causes data security risks. Minify code to ensure it is clean and concise and does not burden the application. When coding, think like an attacker and address any vulnerability a hacker could use to penetrate your application. Use libraries that show coding errors to ensure you catch security risks.

By budgeting for a rigorous testing and quality assurance process from the outset of the application development process, software developers ensure their applications will be thoroughly secure. Do not allow time-constraints getting a product to market to interfere with this crucial step. Test for functionality, usability, and security. Test, test, and test some more.

SECURE YOUR APIs

Enterprise developers are relying on application programming interfaces (APIs) more than ever, posing additional security requirements. API development and mobile app development share security considerations. Any vulnerability in an API is a vulnerability in the applications that the API connects. Solve potential headaches with the following tips:

  • Ensure all APIs integrated in your app are optimized for security.
  • Monitor all add-on software carefully to ensure that they do not present any system vulnerabilities.
  • Budget time to test the security of your APIs as well.

Check out TechBeacon’s 8 essential best practices for API security for additional reading.

LIMIT DATA COLLECTION AND PERMISSIONS

By collecting as little data as possible and minimizing permissions, app developers limit vulnerable attack points on their app. If the app does not require access to the camera or contacts, don’t request it. The same sentiment can be applied to data: make sure  users are aware of what data your application is collecting from them and only collect user data that is vital to the application’s functionality.

INTEGRATE A SECURITY TEAM FROM DAY ONE

Incorporating a dedicated security team from the inception of the development process on will ensure that the application has a cohesive security strategy intertwined with app functionality. Bringing the security team in from day one will minimize vulnerabilities that otherwise may slip through the cracks if they are brought on later in the process.

PROTECT CONSUMER DATA

Consumer data is generally the most vulnerable element for any app. The higher the volume of consumer data, the more there is for hackers to steal. In addition to limiting data collections, app developers should look into new data encryption technologies and biometric authentication. Decentralized database technology like the blockchain cryptology are among the most high-tech data protection measures tech companies can undertake.

Learn more about the Blockchain for mobile development via Application Development Trends.

CONCLUSION

In order to maintain secure environments, app developers must stay constantly stay up-to-date on the latest security technologies. Reading tech publications and maintaining awareness of the latest trends will ensure your enterprise is ready to integrate with tomorrow’s tech.


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How Wearable Smart Clothing Will Revolutionize Health, Fitness, and Fashion


Wearables are in a nascent stage since coming into vogue through the advent of Samsung Galaxy Gear in 2013 and the Apple Watch in 2015. Smartwatches and fitness devices like Fitbit continue to reign supreme and help us make our lives more efficient while tracking vital health data and improving our workouts.

The next generation of wearables will be able to cultivate even more data and transmit that information to health professionals with the help of 5G. Machine learning algorithms will help predict potential health issues based on the data gathered. In order to cultivate this data, we predict that wearable clothes fitted with sensors will rise in popularity, yielding ground-breaking applications in Fitness, Healthcare, Emergency Services, and Fashion.

FITNESS

The release of Fitbit in 2009 marked the first consumer-grade wearable focused on activity tracking, precipitating the advent of the smartwatch by four years. Since then, Fitbit has designed and released a line of products focusing on activity tracking, including the Fitbit Versa, a health and fitness smartwatch, and the Fitbit Ace, an activity tracker for children 8+.

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Fitbit isn’t the only major player in the wearables game. Nadi X Yoga Pants use built-in haptic vibrations to encourage wearers to move and hold positions.

Sensoria’s second generation connected socks use textile pressure sensors to track the pressure put on the user’s foot when running and inform the user when it senses too much pressure on a particular body part to prevent injury. They also track time, cadence, pace, speed, and distance.

The Thin Ice smart vest cools your body using thermo receptors, activating the bodies brown fat pathways which effectively burns white fat (bad fat).

OMsignal’s OmBra measures heart rate and breathing rhythm in addition to time, distance, cadence pace, and impact for runners.

athos

The Athos Core is perhaps the most thorough and expansive application in smart clothes today. Athos Core collects data from a line of clothing embedded with micro-EMG sensors and analyzes it to help improve your workout. Athos shirts can evaluate electrical activity produced by your muscles to track the exertion of major upper-body muscle groups (pecs, bis, tris, delts, lats, and traps).

HEALTHCARE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES

As cited in our last blog on 5G and healthcare, 86% of doctors say wearables increase patient engagement with their own health.

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The second generation Owlet Smart Sock is a smart-sock made for babies which uses pulse oximetry technology to monitor heart rate and sleep patterns.

Siren Smartsocks are designed to prevent diabetics from suffering from foot injuries. They have microsensors designed to continuously monitor temperature for inflammation and alert users through their smartphone app.

As wearable clothes become more popular, applications will automatically contact emergency services when the wearer’s health shows major warning signs.

Invisiwear offers wearable smart jewelry and other accessories with a panic button which gives the option to share your location with loved ones and 9-1-1.

The iBeat Heart Watch monitors health and notifies your loved ones and an EMT team in emergency situations.

FASHION

“Fashion tech” is gradually earning adoption.

On a mass consumer level, Levi’s teamed up with Google’s Project Jacquard to offer a smart trucker jacket designed for urban cyclists. Conducive yarn makes it easy for the user to tap, swipe, or hold the sleeve to fulfill simple tasks like changing music tracks, block or answer calls, or access navigation information.

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A London-based design firm THE UNSEEN created a line of luxury accessories including a backpack, phone case, scarf, and more which respond to air pressure, body temperature, wind, sunlight, and touch to change colors.

THE FUTURE OF WEARABLE CLOTHES

Recently, NBA commissioner Adam Silver unveiled the future of the NBA Jersey: a line of smart jerseys that allow you to customize the name and number on the jersey.

There’s no doubt that the future of wearable clothes is still unveiling itself to us as 5G receives mass adoption and programmers continue to uncover potential applications of machine learning. What is clear at this point is that wearable clothes will help make the human race smarter, stronger, healthier, and more efficient.


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How 5G Will Enable the Next Generation of Healthcare


In the past month, we’ve explored 5G, or fifth generation cellular technology, and how 5G will shape the future. In this piece, we’ll spotlight the many ways in which 5G will revolutionize the healthcare industry.

DATA TRANSMISSION

Many medical machines like MRIs and other imaging machines generate very large files that must then be sent to specialists for review. When operating on a network with low bandwidth, the transmission can take a long time or not send successfully. This means patients must wait even longer for treatment, inhibiting the efficiency of healthcare providers. 5G networks will vastly surpass current network speeds, enabling healthcare providers to quickly and reliably transport huge data files, allowing patients and doctors to get results fast.

EXPANDING TELEMEDICINE

why-use-telemedicine

A study by Market Research Future showed that the future of telemedicine is bright—an annual growth rate of 16.5% is expected from 2017 to 2023. 5G is among the primary reasons for that level of growth. In order to support the real-time high-quality video necessary for telemedicine to be effective, hospitals and healthcare providers will need 5G networks that can reliably provide high-speed connections. Telemedicine will result in higher quality healthcare in rural areas and increased access to specialists around the world. Additionally, 5G will enable growth in AR, adding a new dimension to the quality of telemedicine.

REMOTE MONITORING AND WEARABLES

It’s no secret that 5G will enable incredible innovation in the IoT space. One of the ways in which IoT will enable more personalized healthcare involves wearables. According to Anthem, 86% of doctors say wearables increase patient engagement with their own health and wearables are expected to reduce hospital costs by 16% in the next five years.

Wearables like Fitbit track health information that can be vital for doctors to monitor patient health and offer preventative care. While the impact may initially be negligible, as technology advances and more applications for gathering data through wearables emerge, 5G will enable the high-speed, low-latency, data-intensive transfers necessary to take health-focused wearables to the next level. Doctors with increased access to patient information and data will be able to monitor and ultimately predict potential risks to patient health and enact preventative measures to get ahead of health issues.

Companies like CommandWear are creating wearable technology that helps save lives by enabling first responders to be more efficient and more conveniently communicate with their teams.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

In the future, artificial intelligence will analyze data to determine potential diagnoses and help determine the best treatment for a patient. The large amounts of data needed for real-time rapid machine learning requires ultra-reliable and high-bandwidth networks—the type of networks only 5G can offer.

One potential use case for AI in healthcare will be Health Management Systems. Picture a system that combines the Internet of Things with cloud computing and big data technology to fully exploit health status change information. Through data-mining, potential diseases can be screened and alarmed in advance. Health Management Systems will gradually receive mass adoption as 5G enables the data-transmission speeds necessary for machine learning to operate in the cloud and develop algorithms to predict future outcomes.

MAJOR PLAYERS

Right now, the major players who serve to benefit from 5G are the telecom companies developing technology that will enable mass adoption. Companies like Huawei Technologies, Nokia, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Verizon, AT&T, and Cisco Systems are investing massive sums of money into research and development and patenting various technologies, some of which will no doubt become the cornerstones of the future of healthcare.

Qualcomm recently hosted a contest to create a tricoder—a real life device based on a machine in the Star Trek TV movie franchise. Tricoders are portable medical devices that would enable patients to diagnose 13 conditions and continuously monitor five vital signs.

For a full list of major players in the 5G game, check out this awesome list from GreyB.

CONCLUSION

With human lives at stake, healthcare is the sector in which 5G could have the most transformative impact on our society. As the Qualcomm Tricoder contest shows, we are gradually building toward the society previously only dreamed about in sci-fi fiction–and 5G will help pave the way.


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The Masterful Audio of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


The original Legend of Zelda came out in 1986 on the NES. Games were evolving from endurance tests to simple narratives in the Socratic tradition. Having recently stunned the world with Super Mario Bros in 1985, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto set-out to create a game with a world. Miyamoto grew up in Japan exploring the fields, woods, and caves of Kyoto. He designed the first Legend of Zelda to be “a miniature garden that players can put inside their drawer.” He combined Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and the Arthurian legend of the sword in the stone to create what would become one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises.

Zelda Creator Shigeru Miyamoto

Zelda Creator Shigeru Miyamoto

31 years and over 18 iterations later, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for Nintendo Switch to widespread critical acclaim—many publications have declared BOTW to be among the greatest games ever created.

As any game designer knows, audio is vital to providing an audience with feedback. As with every element of the game, Nintendo has taken Zelda’s audio to a new level with Breath of the Wild. Here is our review and breakdown of what makes the audio of BOTW so special:

MUSIC

Nintendo composer Koji Kondo initially intended to use Maurice Ravel’s Bolero as the theme music for the original Legend of Zelda in 1985, but upon learning the copyright was intact, he composed the legendary “Zelda Theme”. Nintendo has always dedicated a large amount of time and care to the music of Zelda, but with BOTW, they’ve taken things to the next level.

Acute Zelda-philes will recognize the integration of electronic and orchestral instrumentation as innovative to the franchise. Music has always been used to give the user feedback regarding the setting— Dungeon Theme, which plays when Link is in a dungeon level.

In music, this technique is called a leitmotif: a recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea, or situation.

In BOTW, music is used to delineate location, themes, characters, and even special enemies! While the combat theme plays fighting most baddies, anyone who has played BOTW will recognize the infamous Guardian Theme and of course the Hinox Theme.

The first time the player hears these songs come on, it is scary and immediately invests you with a bombastic sense of imminent danger.

Music changes by location and by time of day, as demonstrated by the Gerudo Town Day and Night songs.

In the Korok Forest, when entering uncharted territory, the user hears an eerie tune that gradually increases in volume until the user is transported back to the start of the forest, as demonstrated in this video:

Shards of stories are told through musical sequences sung by Kass, dispersing exposition about the world and clues to the puzzles the user must solve.

All told, The Legend of Zelda Soundtrack has about 211 songs! Dedicated players can easily invest hundreds of hours into an open-world RPG, so diversifying the music is vital to keeping players engaged and preventing  the game from feeling repetitive. Big, sweeping orchestral soundtracks like these are saving symphony orchestras, according to the Wall Street Journal.

SOUND DESIGN

Longtime composer and sound supervisor Hajime Wakai oversaw the sound of BOTW. While audio cues for sound effects in the Zelda series traditionally have had a very lo-fi electronic feel, BOTW uses fully orchestrated, live-performed instruments, investing the user with the feeling of watching a live performance. Wakai recorded over 10,000 different sounds for the game. In the Nintendo blog, he explains the many different types of footsteps.

“I mixed various kinds of sand so to get good footsteps. We searched for a combination of materials and how to apply them for the sound of the equipment. Ice boards melt and crack each time they walk and have to be replaced. The studio is full of stinky smells as you continue stepping on the grass. There were various hardships.”

Check out these photos from inside the sound studio:

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The intricacies of the sound design are on full display in BOTW, with different sounds for hitting flesh creatures, hitting bone creatures and the very notable sound of the Master Sword clashing against a Guardian:

The sound of BOTW enhance the experience and helps the user FEEL the game. Perhaps no better example of Sound Design doing this is the sound effect made when a user breaks their weapon:

Perhaps the biggest departure from the Zelda series is the use of voices. While Zelda games traditionally only represents dialogue with text and strange grunts, BOTW includes cut-scenes with fully-voiced Zelda, Daruth the Goron, Mipha the Zora, and more. BOTW incentivizes accruing these cut scenes or “Shattered Memories” by having them be collectable. Only after collecting all of the “Shattered Memories” can the user watch the story of the game in full from front to back.

OVERALL

Given the grand scale of BOTW, it’s no surprise that the game overdelivers when it comes to its soundscape. Nintendo’s first major entry into the Zelda series in 6 years is a masterpiece. Game designers take note of what is perhaps the best sound design ever created for a video game.


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How 5G Will Inspire a Technological Revolution


In our last blog 5G: Exploring the Fifth Generation of Cellular Mobile Communications, we explored an overview of what 5G is and when it will be rolling out in your city.

Now, it is time for the fun stuff! 5G will change the way we interact with technology on a daily basis. Here’s a rundown of some of the revelatory applications enabled by 5G which will shape the future of our world:

THE INTERNET OF THINGS

Via Toxsl Technologies

Via Toxsl Technologies

In 2016, we wrote about how the Internet of Things will eventually enable smart-worlds. 5G is necessary in order to facilitate those changes. Most of the biggest innovations enabled by 5G are related to the Internet of Things. The world currently has sensors that are embedded in devices and objects and can communicate with each other, but they require a great deal of resources and quickly deplete LTE’s data capacity. 5G will give these sensors the ability to transmit data at speeds necessary to operate more efficiently. It will save lives by enabling smart bridges to communicate with cities and municipalities about when they require maintenance, among many other potential applications.

AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

Via Seeking Alpha

Via Seeking Alpha

The world is at a cross-roads when it comes to autonomous vehicles. The demand is here, but in order to justify legislation, autonomous cars must be ostensibly fool-proof. 5G will enable the speed necessary for autonomous vehicles to communicate with other vehicles on the road, saving lives in the process. According to Joy Laskar, CTO of Maja Systems, self-driving cars of the future will generate an estimated two petabits of data—that’s two-million gigabits! When dealing with automotive vehicles, people’s lives will be dependent on the transmission of data. Put it simply, until 5G receives a mass roll-out, it’s unlikely that autonomous cars will become the primary vehicles on the road.

HEALTHCARE

Via Fortinet

Via Fortinet

Imagine remote diagnoses that enable people worldwide to have access to expert doctors. Imagine robot-assisted surgery that is more precise and cost-effective. Imagine 5G-powered Augmented Reality applications allowing physical therapists and patients to communicate remotely.

These are just a few of the innovations that 5G will enable within the healthcare space. 5G will eventually enable much more precise and efficient hospitals. It will give patients more personal care. Consulting firm IHS Markit reported that “5G-enabled” output between 2020 and 2035 will total at $12.3 trillion. Of that amount, roughly $1.1 trillion will encompass sales enablement in healthcare.

VIRTUAL REALITY AND AUGMENTED REALITY

Via Upload VR

Via Upload VR

Experts within the VR and AR industry believe 5G will unlock the full potential of VR and AR technology. 5G will enable VR devices to offload intensive computational work to the cloud, making VR devices smaller and increasing the fidelity of VR experiences. AR displays in autonomous cars will likely become the norm. 5G will enable VR live streaming of sporting events, creating a revolutionarily immersive viewing experience. As with autonomous cars, we will not see the full potential of VR until 5G receives mass adoption.

TAKEAWAYS

5G will permanently change the global economy. 5G will generate new revenue, facilitate new growth, and accelerate innovations beyond our wildest dreams. Dr. David Teece wrote that 5G will put mobile technology at the center of a global economy characterized by the Internet of Things turning into a true general-purpose technology. While each evolution of the cellular generation has brought amazing advancements to society, 5G promises to bring the most radical breakthroughs of any of previous generations. Ready or not, 5G is about to bring interconnectivity to a whole new level.


5G: Exploring the Fifth Generation of Cellular Mobile Communications


In December 2018, AT&T made history by becoming the first mobile carrier to roll out 5G service. The average person probably thinks that 5G is merely a high-speed cellular service, however, technology aficionados know it’s much more than that—5G has the potential to facilitate major technological shifts in the way our world works. In our two-part series, the Mystic Media Blog will take a look at what 5G is and how it could shift our society.

WHAT IS 5G?

Let’s start with the basics. The G in 5G stands for Generation. 5G is the 5th generation of wireless technology. 5G will bring exponentially faster download & upload speeds with reduced latency, enabling many practical high-tech innovations across many different industries, in addition to many new consumer applications.

SPEED

4G has been the prevailing cellular technology for the past 5-8 years. 4G is currently responsible for the high speeds powering your phone. While 4G speeds average about 16.9 megabits per second (Mbps), 5G promises to deliver speeds at the Gigabit level, greatly enhancing the things your devices can do. For example, while 4G allows for streaming in HD, 5G will make it possible to stream 4K HDR content.

ACCESS

The appeal of 5G is not just speed, but access as well. 5G will allow many more devices to connect to 5G networks at once. In order to facilitate this, carriers will have to use more cell sites. Currently, there are about 25,000 200-foot cellular towers blanketing large portions of the US with cellular service. 5G will change that, in fact, there will be far more 5G cell sites in the future, each covering a smaller region. These are called “Small Cells” and function differently from large cellular towers.

Check out Verizon’s awesome breakdown of what “Small Cells” are and their importance below.

LATENCY

5G will also greatly reduce latency, or the amount of time it takes for devices to communicate with each other’s wireless networks. For online gamers, reduced latency has a great deal of applications, as well as in healthcare, autonomous vehicles, and many other examples which we’ll cover in our next blog on what 5G can do for the future.

SPECTRUMS

Unlike 4G LTE, 5G operates on three different spectrum bands.

Low-band spectrum is a sub-1GHz spectrum. It is primarily used by carriers in the US for LTE and offers great coverage area, great building penetration, and peak data speeds of 100Mbps.

Mid-band spectrum provides faster coverage and lower latency than low-band, but fails to penetrate buildings as well as LTE. Peak speeds are up to 1Gbps on mid-band spectrum.

High-band spectrum, also known as mmWave, can offer peak speeds of up to 10Gbps with lower coverage area and weak building penetration.

The real innovations facilitated by 5G are happening at high spectrum bands which are less used by cellular companies. Frequencies of 28GHz and 39GHz have large sections of spectrum available to create big channels for high speeds. Those bands have been used for very advanced technologies previously, such as connecting base stations to remote internet links, but they have never been used for consumer devices.

WHEN IS IT ROLLING OUT?

5G’s roll out will be gradual. As mentioned earlier, until there are enough cellular cites for 5G to cover the entire nation, 5G will work together with 4G to augment connection speeds.

AT&T  officially become the first carrier to roll out 5G service earlier this month when the carrier began offering 5G in parts of Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Louisville, Jacksonville, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, New Orleans, Waco and San Antonio. AT&T will expand 5G in early 2019.

Verizon began offering 5G fixed in homes in October 2018. Verizon’s 5G is currently available in portions of Houston, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles, with plans to roll out standards-based mobile 5G in 2019.

T-Mobile expects to launch 5G in New York, LA, Dallas, and Las Vegas in 2019 with nationwide rollout in 2020.

Sprint will deploy 5G in early 2019 with additional markets in the future.

In our next blog, we’ll explore how 5G will enable innovations that will change the way our world works. Stay tuned!


Android Pie (Image Via XDA Developers)

App Developers Take a Bigger Slice of the Pie with Android P


App developers looking to witness what Machine Learning can do to improve UI should take note of Android 9.0 Pie. First announced in March 2018, Android P was made public in August 2018. Android 9.0 marks a major overhaul of the Android OS focusing on UI and integrating Artificial Intelligence to optimize user experience.

AI HELPS ANDROID PIE HELP YOU

Android’s latest OS takes a big step forward integrating AI into the UI. The Android website advertises that “Android 9 Pie harnesses the power of AI for a truly intuitive experience”.

One of the major implementations of AI in Pie is called App Actions. Android 9.0 monitors your routines, processes data, and offers predicted actions directly in the phone’s app launcher when appropriate. For example, it can recommend a song to you on Spotify when you’re on your morning commute. Android has focused on quality over quantity with regard to App Actions and they are startlingly accurate—when it has enough data collected on how you use your phone, often it predicts exactly what you do next.

In addition to App Actions, Android Pie also offers Adaptive Battery and Adaptive Brightness. Android teamed up with the AI company DeepMind to create Adaptive Battery, an AI-based program that learns how you use your phone and optimizes usage so that inactive apps and services don’t drain the battery. Adaptive Brightness learns your preferred brightness settings and automatically adjusts them to your liking.

Those concerned with privacy should note that Android has stated that all machine learning is happening on the device rather than in the cloud.

ANDROID ADOPTS GESTURES OVER BUTTONS

Perhaps the biggest UI overhaul is the transition from buttons to gestures. Android P is following the  iPhone X’s lead in using gestures rather than buttons. This means UI is very home-screen button centric. The overhaul may be jarring to some. Luckily, app users can have it both ways as gesture navigation is adjustable in the phone’s settings.

Check out the video breakdown of the differences between Apple iPhone X and Android P gestures below.

THIS PIE’S GONNA HAVE SLICES

Android has announced App Slices in Android Pie, but has yet to unveil them at this time. When you search for an app on Android,  the app icon comes up. With App Slices, Android will not only pull up the icon, but will pull up actual information within apps and allow you to interact with the app directly within the search results. For example, if you search for Uber, it may bring up time & price estimates to go to commonly frequented locations and allow you to set a pick-up without having to open the app directly.

Android Slices present a great opportunity for app developers to create shortcuts to functions in their app. They also constitute the beginnings of Google’s approach to “remote content.” Learn more about Slices below:

APP LIMITS FOR ENCOURAGING HEALTHY USE

Addicted to your phone? Android P not only tracks the amount of time you spend on your phone, it allows users to set time limits for how long an app can be used for a day. App Time Limits prevent you from opening apps when you’ve gone over your limit with no option to ignore—the only way to access them again for the day is to turn the time limit off from the Settings page.

HUNGRY FOR PIE?

As with all Android OS’s, Android Pie will have a staggered release across devices. As of November 2018, it is available on Pixel phones as well as The Essential Phone.

Meanwhile, Android Pie is anticipated to be rolled out on many other phones by December 21st. For a comprehensive, frequently updated breakdown, check out Android Central’s list of the expected roll out dates for each phone manufacturer.


Android Oreo

How to Optimize GPS and Background Processes for Android Oreo


As our past article Android Oreo Serves Up the Sweets will show, Android Oreo lived up to expectations upon release and gave both consumers and app developers plenty of enhancements to enjoy.

However, for app developers, enhancements to the UI aimed to conserve battery life affect GPS services and require changes to the code in order to optimize pre-existing apps for the new OS. Specifically, Android Oreo restricts apps that are running in the background with limited access to background services. Additionally, apps can no longer use their manifests to register for most implicit broadcasts. When an app is in the background, it is given several minutes to create and use services, but at the end of that time slot, the app is considered idle and the OS will stop running background services.

These changes directly affect apps with geolocation functionality. Android Oreo limits how frequently apps can gather location in the background. Background apps can only receive location updates a few times each hour. The APIs affected due to these limits include Fused Location Provider, Geofencing, Location Manager, Wifi Manager, GNSS Measurements and GNSS Navigation Messages.

Apps that currently use location services in previous Android OS’s will require an update to optimize for Android Oreo. Apps that use location services range anywhere from navigational apps like Waze and Google Maps to social media apps like Twitter, and food apps like Yelp and Seamless.

For apps that require frequent location updates, increasing the usage of the app in the foreground will ensure that the app gets frequent access to location information. In order to program this, developers must implement startServiceinForeground() instead of startService() in Activity class.

In Service class in onStartCommand(), developers can use the following code:

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Via StackOverflow

When foreground services running in the background consume high energy, Oreo fires an automatic push notification to the user informing them of the battery-consuming service. With the push notification in place, app users are more likely to uninstall apps that track location without conserving battery life, putting the onus on software developers to deliver battery-efficient apps. One of the biggest issues facing some app developers is ensuring that battery life is not sucked as a result of tracking location in apps. Check out our full rundown of how to build battery-efficient geolocation apps for supplementary reading.

The results of the limits put in place with Android O are increased battery life for the user and the necessity for app owners to consider how their apps interact with location information. Retaining a thorough understanding of how location information will be retrieved and used through out the development process ultimately benefits both software developers and consumers with better UI and more energy efficient processes.


Data Encryption

How to Safely Encrypt Sensitive Data in Your Mobile App


In November 2014, cybercriminals perpetrated one of the biggest cybercrimes of the decade. They hacked into Sony’s computer systems, stole sensitive data, paralyzed the company’s operations, and gradually leaked embarrassing information to the media. The hackers threatened to continue until Sony agreed to pull the controversial comedy The Interview from its theatrical release.

As the headlines will tell you, the encryption of sensitive data is one of the most important investments a company can make. Facebook is currently under heat for data protection practices. The UK National Crime Agency called WannaCry a signal moment for awareness of cyberattacks and their real world impact. With the stakes higher than ever, the encryption of sensitive data in apps has never been more important.

Here are our top tips on how to safely encrypt sensitive data in your mobile app.

TIP #1: Coding and Testing

Writing secure code is fundemental to creating a secure app. Obfuscating and minifying code so that it cannot be reverse engineered is critical to keeping a secure environment. Testing and fixing bugs when they are exposed should be an ongoing investment of resources as it will pay off in the long run.

Tip #2: Scramble Data

Sometimes, the best method of encrypting data is scrambling. Software and web developers often become obsessed with storing every bit of data in databases and logs, assuming it may be useful later, but doing so can create a target for cybercriminals.

Cunning developers will only store a scrambled version of the data, making it unreadable to the outside eye, but still useful for those who know how to query it correctly.

For an in-depth dive into scrambling data, check out this awesome essay on how Amazon does it.

Tip #3: In Transit Vs. At Rest Encryption

There are two types of data to be encrypted: in transit data and at rest data. In transit data is moving data, be it in transit via email, in apps, or through browsers and other web connections. At rest data is stored in databases, the cloud, computer hard drives, or mobile devices. In transit data can be protected through the implementation of robust network security controls and firewalls. At rest data can be protected through systematically categorizing and classifying data with data protection measures in mind.

Tip #4: Secret Vs. Public Key Algorithms

Secret Key Algorithms are algorithms that use the same key for encryption and decryption. Public-key algorithms us two different encryption keys, one for encryption and the other for decryption. The public key is how the data is sent and the private key decodes it. Public-key algorithms are more secure, but require more computer processing power.

Tip #5: Blockchain Cryptography

We’ve covered the Blockchain in our past article on The Revolutionary Mechanics of the Blockchain. Blockchain cryptography has been on the rise because blockchain databases are distributed and thus more resilient in the face of a DOS attack.

Tip #6: Apps that Clean Up after Themselves 

Apps that collect sensitive information don’t necessarily need to store it. It is wise to delete sensitive data from mobile apps when the data is no longer in active use.

Tip #7 Choose the Right Algorithm

There are several popular pre-existing algorithms in existence that can be used to encrypt sensitive data in mobile apps. Check out UpWork’s awesome rundown:

  1. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
  2. RSA
  3. IDEA
  4. Signal
  5. Blowfish and Two Fish
  6. Ring Learning With Errors or Ring-LWE

Over the last 10 years, enterprise-wide use of encryption has jumped by 22 percent according to the Ponemon Institute. When building a mobile app, investing in encrypting sensitive data will pay off in the long run and haunt those that short-change it.