Tag Archives: Continuity

Sink or Swim: Why Google Needs Andromeda to Compete with Apple

Andromeda summed up in a graphic (Via thehackernews.com)

App developers commonly cite device fragmentation as one of their biggest peeves about the Android platform. While Apple keeps a stronghold on all iOS devices, Android allows third-party developers to create hardware for the platform. With a number of different devices all with different screen sizes, tech specs and OS capabilities, developers cannot efficiently optimize the end user experience of their apps for all devices as they can with iOS. However, Google is making a major move to create a more streamlined app ecosystem with Andromeda.

Rumors of Andromeda began when multiple independent sources revealed it would be announced at Google’s October 4th announcement. When October 4th turned out to be hardware-focused, the heat died down on Andromeda. However, in the big picture, Andromeda represents a necessary move in order to prevent Google from losing potentially billions of dollars to Apple in the years and decades to come.

WHAT IS ANDROMEDA?

The idea of Andromeda is to combine Google’s laptop OS (Chrome OS) and their mobile and tablet OS (Android). Chrome OS is not Google Chrome, the web browser you may or may not use every day, but their desktop operating system which works with Chromebooks. For the skinny on Chrome, check out this awesome breakdown:

Rather than integrate Android features on Chrome OS, Andromeda will do the opposite and enable mobile devices with Chrome OS features. Mobile devices will begin to feel like an extension of one’s desktop. Rumored features include file organization, multi-modal windowing and compatibility between mobile and desktop apps. While the details have yet to be revealed, the concept behind Andromeda makes it a huge, necessary step for Google’s long-term future in the OS market.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Andromeda will put Google in direct competition with the Mac OS X and Windows platforms. Apple has long been focused on device Continuity, the interchangeability between iOS devices. Their mobile (iOS) & desktop (OS X) operating systems are optimized to work together. By merging Google’s mobile platform with their desktop OS, Google increases cross-device functionality  and creates a strong incentive for consumers to keep all their devices within the Google brand.

THE INTERNET OF THINGS MAKES THIS SINK OR SWIM FOR GOOGLE 

The good news for app developers is in Andromeda’s long-term potential. Andromeda will enable developers to create apps which seamlessly function across devices: smartphones, tablets and desktops. As the IoT becomes domesticated, having a unified OS will mean big bucks for software companies looking to capitalize on home automation and commercial IoT products. In 10 years, consumers will be incredulous if they can’t control their coffee machine, change the channel on their TV and lock their doors on any of their devices. They want cohesive simplicity. If Google loses the OS battle with a less cohesive strategy than Apple, they will also lose the smartphone, tablet, TV and laptop.

CONCLUSION

Dennis Jones, CEO of payments technology company Judopay, put it this way for Developer-Tech: “Andromeda will be the foundation for omnipresence for Google-powered hardware, similar to Apple’s ecosystem… Andromeda is the foundation to enable this omnichannel world.”

Without Andromeda, Google would be dead in the water against the future omnichannel world Apple has been developing over the years. Who will execute better? Until the public sees Andromeda in action, the answer remains to be seen.

Rise to the Top of Google SEO with Responsive Design

When designing a website, web developers have both practical and aesthetic concerns. From a practical standpoint, a website must reach and connect with its core audience. Due to the rise of mobile technology, it’s important for a site to have mobile functionality so that it can reach the multitudes surfing the web on their mobile devices. The most efficient, cost-effective & effective way is to develop a responsive website. Responsive design not only helps reach a mobile audience, it also increases overall SEO so that the website will rank higher in search engines.

For those unfamiliar with responsive design, check out this quick 60-second review:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snQp757_Rr0

When it comes to SEO, Google is king. As of October 2015, studies show the massive tech titan owns about 63.9% of the search engine market share. In February 2015, Google announced they will be emphasizing mobile-friendly search results. In their own words: “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.”

In accordance with their announcement, Google Adwords charges less for a keyword when the landing page is optimized for mobile. Responsive websites represent a major incentive for advertising on Google since responsive design guarantees presentation will accommodate the device regardless of whether it’s a mobile device or a computer.

Responsively designed sites offer a common landing page for all devices, consolidating the amount of links and improving the SEO. If a desktop or laptop user iMessages the link to an iPhone, they can click on it and immediately prompt the same web page rather than a different page optimized for mobile. Instead of duplicating content with separate sites for mobile and desktop mediums, responsive design ensures brand and information continuity with a singular master site.

According to Sociomantic, over half of online shoppers use more than one device. A responsive website not only ensures a consistent UI and brand experience, it eliminates maintenance cost by reducing the amount of websites one is required to maintain. The better a site is, the lower the bounce rate is, and the higher it will rank in Google. For businesses looking to succeed, responsive is almost always the best form of web design.

Mystic Media is a web design and application development company based in Salt Lake City, Utah and specializes in responsive design. For more information, click here or contact us by phone at 801.994.6815.

Android Lollipop Vs. iOS 8: The Battle of the Operating Systems

It’s been a good year for operating systems.

Back in June, Google announced their new operating system “Android L,” which has since been dubbed Android Lollipop. In our post  Android L Beta Preview: First Impressions of the Latest OS, we covered what we knew about the OS based on the announcement at the Google I/O 2014.

On the iOS side of the equation, this year saw Apple release iOS 8, which Apple hailed as the biggest iOS release ever. iOS 8 didn’t reinvent iOS aesthetics, rather it pushed forth the flat design introduced with iOS 7 and added a host of new features, including Apple Pay, Touch ID, and Device Continuity.

Both platforms represent dramatic technological advancements. The question now becomes: iOS 8 or Lollipop?

AESTHETICS

Steve Jobs majored in calligraphy at Reed College before dropping out. Jobs always held aesthetic design to be among the top priorities in his vision of Apple products, and Apple has always held a strong edge over Android in the aesthetic department.

iOS 7 saw Apple straying from Jobs’ skeuomorphic ideology in favor of Flat Design: a more stylized, minimal, bright look. iOS 8 refines Flat Design with more consistent iconography and UI. It also makes better use of gestures including swiping left to go back and double tapping the home screen to slide the screen down, allowing for better reachability on the large screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

While Apple refined their current look, Android elected to enact a complete aesthetic overhaul. They may have shaken up the OS aesthetic game with Material Design.

Material Design is not an easy concept to grasp and can better be explored in practice. The idea is that the digital world should have its own intuitive physical rules. Buttons must react specifically to the touch, there must be multiple easily decipherable UI layers, animations must trigger and unfold in a specific, consistent manner. All Material Design aesthetics are in favor of creating the most intuitive, easily understood experience for the user.

Material Design is much more intricate than Flat Design. It’s both showier and more practical. It’s a more evolved, complex version of Flat Design. Thus, Android has taken the crown with regard to aesthetics. It’s likely Apple will follow suit and copy Material Design aesthetics for their next iOS overhaul.

Check out this video demonstrating the ideas of Material Design posted by Google Developers Youtube account.

FEATURES

Both Lollipop and iOS 8 offer new features, in addition to minor UI tweaks, for their devices. Most of these features either mirror their competitor’s counterpart, or replicate a past feature of their competitor.

Lollipop and iOS 8 both push to integrate with cars with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Both offer integrated navigation systems, hands-free calling and texting, and control of entertainment; however, neither will have a major impact until they are adopted by a greater number of cars.

Lollipop and iOS 8 both feature health apps (Google Fit and Health respectively). Both function similarly with certain apps offering exclusive partnerships. The big factor could be whether/which major health apps make the commitment to either Lollipop or iOS 8. The anticipated forthcoming popularity surge in wearables could be a game-changing variable in health apps. At the moment, neither app has a major edge over the other.

iOS 8 now offers Apple Pay combined with Touch ID, a replication of Google Wallet which was introduced in 2011. While Google Wallet is the older system, Apple Pay currently has the momentum. Both offer touch payments via Near Field Communications, but Apple Pay refuses to store physical credit card details, making it the safer system. The popularity of Pay could cause a resurgence of Google Wallet, but at the moment, Apple Pay has a definite edge.

Aside from the aesthetics, perhaps the biggest differentiator between iOS 8 and Lollipop is Apple’s push for the concept of device continuity embodied in Handoff. We covered device continuity in both Climbing Yosemite and Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition. Handoff allows the user to easily complete tasks while transitioning  between Apple devices seamlessly. Instant Hotspot, one of the coolest features of iOS 8, allows users to connect to their iPhone’s cellular network when no other Wi-Fi networks are available. Lollipop comes up empty in this department and Android will surely be playing catch-up when they release their next OS.

BATTERY

iOS bolsters a reputation for retaining a more efficient battery than Android. With Project Volta, Android has made a strong attempt to optimize their OS to defeat this notion.

Lollipop features a built-in task manager designed to prevent unnecessary operations from waking the phone up, running app house-cleaning necessities in batches when plugged in, and preventing network requests from Android and third party apps in spots without network connectivity. Lollipop also has “Battery Historian,” an analytics tool designed to track and tweak battery consumption.

iOS 8 did not make any dramatic attempts to improve it’s battery life, but still competes with Android with an extremely efficient standby mode: leaving an iPhone 6 or 6 plus unplugged overnight will only lose 1-2% charge.

Overall, the OS battery competition is fairly neck-and-neck, which is a big improvement for Android considering in the past they have gotten smoked in this department.

Check out this video Introduction to Project Volta from Google I/O 2014 for more information.

AVAILABILITY

One of the major factors which elevates iOS 8 over Lollipop is the limited availability of the OS due to device fragmentation.

Google allows third-party developers to build hardware for the Android OS. This causes device fragmentation, in which the variety of hardware makes it harder to optimize software for each device. As a result, different devices will have access to Lollipop at different times. Lollipop is currently available on Google’s Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 phones with a staggered launch planned for other Android phones.

Device fragmentation is also troublesome for app developers as it means there’s no way to optimize directly for all the hardware considering the diversity.

iOS’s iPhone exclusivity means it runs well across devices and updates are immediately accessible on Apple hardware. The user is guaranteed at least three years of upgrades. App developers can optimize for each platform which remains relevant.

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, iOS 8 is the more practical operating system. While Material Design represents an exciting leap forward in software aesthetics, iOS 8’s device continuity features trump all of Lollipop’s functional additions. The widespread availability of iOS 8 and lack of device fragmentation makes it the better optimized package.

While iOS 8 wins this battle, it will be exciting to see how the platforms influence one another in the next round of OS updates. Expect Apple to adopt Material Design aesthetics and Android to begin a push for their own version of device continuity.

At Mystic Media, we’re constantly engaged in various app design projects. Our expertise reaches across all facets of the industry, be it iOS design, Android design, web design, strategic marketing and beyond. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Climbing Yosemite: Apple’s New OS Reaches New Heights

Apple recently released the long awaited OS X Yosemite. In Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition  and Tilting the Playing Field: iPhone 6 Technology Expands Possibilities for iOS App Developers, we covered  some of the highly-anticipated features in Yosemite, including a host of opportunities for cross-device Continuity. This week, we take an in-depth look at OS X  Yosemite and what it means for developers.

AESTHETICS

You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but when it comes to operating systems, aesthetics matter (check out our article Impervious Appeal: How to Design Jaw-Dropping iOS Apps). Yosemite’s UI remains consistent with Apple aesthetics and makes an effort to push the concept of flat design further. It’s even more minimal; the icons are flatter; the windows are more translucent. A great example of the evolution from Mavericks to Yosemite is a comparison between their Calendar icons:

Yosemite Calendar Icon

Mavericks Calender Icon

 

 

(left is Yosemite, right is Mavericks)

via Apple Developer Library

Whereas Mavericks had a more skeuomorphic design on its Calendar icon, Yosemite is flat. The texture seems impossibly smooth. There’s a minor depth and shadow, but no effort to enumerate the pages, nor a two-hole binder holding the pages together. The Yosemite icon represents the calendar as a digital block. The colors are brighter and the text is crisper and more symmetrical throughout the Yosemite UI. The font is an optimized version of Helvetica Neue used throughout Yosemite, a big switch over from Lucida Grande of the past. Developers, take note and utilize these aesthetics to create apps which integrate seamlessly into the Yosemite environment.

SWIFT

iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 arrived with Metal, a graphics layer for iOS development. Yosemite launches with Swift, a multi-paradigm, compiled programming language optimized for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite app design. Swift has been in development over the past four years and may replace Objective-C as the main language for app design on Apple’s OS X and iOS platforms. Several apps have already been built with Swift, including LinkedIn and Yahoo Weather.

Programmers, learn more about Swift over at The Guardian.

CONTINUITY

OS X Yosemite begins Apple’s push toward complete device Continuity. The concept of Continuity entails one should be able to switch devices and complete the same tasks on any Apple device without hassle. So if I’m writing an email on my MacBook, I should be able to go into another room and seamlessly finish it on my iPad without having to save or close the message. One of the simpler, but more effective ways in which Apple introduces this concept is allowing users to answer calls on their MacBooks when their phones are within a certain radius.

Another major push for Continuity in Yosemite is the Instant Hotspot feature. Instant Hotspot allows MacBooks to connect with the cellular network on their iPhones when no other Wi-Fi network is available. It also conveniently shuts down inactive iPhones when in-use. The big advancement for Continuity, however, is the application Handoff.

Handoff is among the most exciting new features of Yosemite and the major aspect of Apple’s push for Continuity. Once you get through the confusing set-up, Handoff proves to be a practical application of the concept. When you’re working on a task on your MacBook, an icon appears on your iPhone/iPad lock screen which allows you to immediately pick up whatever task you were working on using the MacBook without losing a beat. It also works the other way, with the Handoff icon appearing to the left of the Dock on your MacBook when you’re switching over from an iPhone/iPad. With Continuity, devices are constantly communicating to better serve the user. Continuity represents a major advancement designed to get users completely consumed in the world of Apple devices. Although Handoff has its kinks, it effectively executes the Continuity concept and ultimately proves to be the biggest, most exciting advancement in OS X Yosemite.

CONCLUSION

Overall, OS X Yosemite is a major step forward for Apple products and aesthetics. It retains a cool look, intuitive functionality, and its steps toward complete device Continuity are clearly indicative of technology of the future. Apple has already put together a featured list on their App Store of Great Apps for OS X Yosemite, it will be exciting to see how app developers follow Apple’s lead and take advantage of the latest OS to enhance their apps.

Mystic Media is an app development and marketing firm specializing in both iOS & Android development, and more. Learn more by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815.