Tag Archives: Developer

How Zigbee Pro Makes Life Easier for IoT Developers

The IoT has proliferated our everyday lives in a growing variety of ways. In 2021, there were more than 10 billion active IoT devices. That number is expected to grow past 25.4 billion by 2030. IoT solutions will generate $4-11 trillion in economic value by 2025.

Hundreds of manufacturers create IoT devices of all varieties—interoperability is necessity. In order to facilitate this, IoT developers generally adhere to a communications protocol known as Zigbee Pro.

WHAT IS ZIGBEE PRO?

 

Zigbee Pro is a low power, low data rate Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) protocol which streamlines device connections. The goal of the protocol is to deliver a single communications standard that simplifies the nauseating array of proprietary APIs and wireless technologies used by IoT manufacturers.

Zigbee Pro is the latest in a line of protocols. The certification process is facilitated by the Zigbee Alliance—now commonly known as the Connectivity Standards Alliance—which formed in 2002. The Connectivity Standards developed the first version of Zigbee in 2004 and gradually rolled out improved versions until the most current version in 2014.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Zigbee is composed of a number of layers that form a protocol stack. Each layer contributes functionality to the ones below it, making it easier for developers to deploy these functions without explicitly having to write them. The layers include a radio communication layer based on the IEEE standard 802.15.4, a network layer (Zigbee Pro), the application layer known as Dotdot, and the certification layer which is compliant with the Connectivity Standards Alliance.

One of the focuses of the Zigbee standard is to deliver low-power requirements. Battery powered devices must have a 2 year battery life in order to be certified.

ZIGBEE DEVICES

Mesh networking enables Zigbee networks to operate consistently across WiFi and Bluetooth. Each device on the network becomes a repeater, which ensures that losing one device won’t affect the other devices in the mesh.

There are three classes of Zigbee devices:

Zigbee Coordinator – The coordinator forms the root of the network tree, storing information about the network and functioning as a repository for security keys. This is generally the hub, bridge, or smart home controller—such as the app from which you control your smart home.

Zigbee Router – The router can run application functions as well as act as an intermediate router to pass data on to other devices. The router is generally a typical IoT device, such as a powered lightbulb.

Zigbee End Device – This is the simplest type of device—requiring the least power and memory to perform the most basic functions. It cannot relay data and its simplicity enables it to be asleep the majority of the time. An example of an end device would be a smart switch or a sensor that only sends a notification when a specific event occurs.

The Zigbee Pro protocol has become the gold standard for IoT developers. Many commercial IoT apps and smart home controllers function under the Zigbee Pro protocol. Examples include: Samsung SmartThings Hub, Amazon Echo, and the Philips Hue Bridge.

How Apple & Google Are Enhancing Battery Life and What We as App Developers Can Do to Help

In 1799, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta created the first electrical battery, disproving the theory that electricity could only be created by human beings. Fast forward 250 years, brands like Duracell and Energizer popularized alkaline batteries—which are effective, inexpensive and soon become the key to powering household devices. In 1991, Sony released the first commercial rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Although lithium-ion batteries have come a long way since the 90s, to this day they power most smartphones and many other modern devices.

While batteries have come a long way, so have the capabilities of the devices which need them. For consumers, battery life is one of the most important features when purchasing hardware. Applications which drain a device’s battery are less likely to retain their users. Software developers are wise to understand the latest trends in battery optimization in order to build more efficient and user-friendly applications.

HARDWARE

Lithium-ion batteries remain the most prevalent battery technology, but a new technology lies on the horizon. Graphene batteries are similar to traditional batteries, however, the composition of one or both electrodes differ. Graphene batteries increase electrode density and lead to faster cycle times as well as the ability to improve a battery’s lifespan. Samsung is allegedly developing a smartphone powered by a graphene battery that could fully charge its device within 30 minutes. Although the technology is thinner, lighter, and more efficient, production of pure graphene batteries can be incredibly expensive, which may inhibit its proliferation in the short-term.

Hardware companies are also coming up with less technologically innovative solutions to improve battery life. Many companies are simply attempting to cram larger batteries into devices. A more elegant solution is the inclusion of multiple batteries. The OnePlus 9 has a dual cell battery. Employing multiple smaller batteries means both batteries charge faster than a single cell battery.

SOFTWARE

Apple and Google are eager to please their end-users by employing techniques to help optimize battery life. In addition, they take care to keep app developers updated with the latest techniques via their respective developer sites.

Android 11 includes a feature that allows users to freeze apps when they are cached to prevent their execution. Android 10 introduced a “SystemHealthManager” that resets battery usage statistics whenever the device is unplugged, after a device is fully charged or goes from being mostly empty to mostly charged—what the OS considers a “Major charging event”.

Apple has a better track record of consuming less battery than Android. iOS 13 and later introduced Optimized Battery Charging, enabling iPhones to learn from your daily charging routine to improve battery lifespan. The new feature prevents iPhones from charging up to 100% to reduce the amount of time the battery remains fully charged. On-site machine learning then ensures that your battery is fully charged by the time the user wakes up based on their daily routines.

Apple also offers a comprehensive graph for users to understand how much battery is being used by which apps, off screen and on screen, under the Battery tab of each devices Settings.

WHAT APPLICATION DEVELOPERS CAN DO

App developers see a 73% churn rate within the first 90 days of downloading an app, leaving very little room for errors or negative factors like battery drainage. There are a number of techniques application developers can employ in their design to reduce and optimize battery-intensive processes.

It’s vital to review each respective app store’s battery saving standards. Both Android and Apple offer a variety of simple yet vital tips for reducing battery drain—such as limiting the frequency that an app asks for a device’s location and inter-app broadcasting.

One of the most important tips is to reduce the frequency of network refreshes. Identify redundant operations and cut them out. For instance, can downloaded data be cached rather than using the radio repeatedly to re-download it? Are there tasks that can be deferred by the app until the device is charging? Backing up data to the cloud can consume a lot of battery on a task that is not always time sensitive.

Wake locks keep the phone’s screen on when using an app. There was a time where wake locks were frequently employed—but now it is frowned upon. Use wake locks only when absolutely necessary—if at all.

CONCLUSION

Software developers need to be attentive to battery drain throughout the process of building their application. This begins at conception, through programming, all the way into a robust testing process to identify potential battery drainage pitfalls. Attention to the details of battery optimization will lead to better, more user-friendly applications.

HL7 Protocol Enhances Medical Data Transmissions–But Is It Secure?

In our last blog, we examined how DICOM became the standard format for transmitting files in medical imaging technology. As software developers, we frequently find ourselves working in the medical technology field navigating new formats and devices which require specialized attention.

This week, we will jump into one of the standards all medical technology developers should understand: the HL7 protocol.

The HL7 protocol is a set of international standards for the transfer of clinical and administrative data between hospital information systems. It refers to a number of flexible standards, guidelines, and methodologies by which various healthcare systems communicate with each other. HL7 connects a family of technologies, providing a universal framework for the interoperability of healthcare data and software.

Founded in 1987, Health Level Seven International (HL7) is a non-profit, ANSI-accredited standards developing organization that manages updates of the HL7 protocol. With over 1,600 members from over 50 countries, HL7 International represents brain trust incorporating the expertise of healthcare providers, government stakeholders, payers, pharmaceutical companies, vendors/suppliers, and consulting firms.

HL7 has primary and secondary standards. The primary standards are the most popular and integral for system integrations, interoperability, and compliance. Primary standards include the following:

  • Version 2.x Messaging Standard–an interoperability specification for health and medical transactions
  • Version 3 Messaging Standard–an interoperability specification for health and medical transactions
  • Clinical Document Architecture (CDA)–an exchange model for clinical documents, based on HL7 Version 3
  • Continuity of Care Document (CCD)–a US specification for the exchange of medical summaries, based on CDA.
  • Structured Product Labeling (SPL)–the published information that accompanies a medicine based on HL7 Version 3
  • Clinical Context Object Workgroup (CCOW)–an interoperability specification for the visual integration of user applications

While HL7 may enjoy employment worldwide, it’s also the subject of controversy due to underlying security issues. Researchers from the University of California conducted an experiment to simulate an HL7 cyber attack in 2019, which revealed a number of encryption and authentication vulnerabilities. By simulating a main-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, the experiment proved a bad actor could potentially modify medical lab results, which may result in any number of catastrophic medical miscues—from misdiagnosis to prescription of ineffective medications and more.

As software developers, we advise employing advanced security technology to protect patient data. Medical professionals are urged to consider the following additional safety protocols:

  • A strictly enforced password policy with multi-factor authentication
  • Third-party applications which offer encrypted and authenticated messaging
  • Network segmentation, virtual LAN, and firewall controls

While HL7 provides unparalleled interoperability for health care data, it does not provide ample security given the level of sensitivity of medical data—transmissions are unauthenticated and unvalidated and subject to security vulnerabilities. Additional security measures can help medical providers retain that interoperability across systems while protecting themselves and their patients from having their data exploited.

Cloud-Powered Microdroid Expands Possibilities for Android App Developers

Android developers have a lot to look forward to in 2021, 2022, and beyond. Blockchain may decentralize how Android apps are developed, Flutter will see increased adoption for cross-platform development, and we expect big strides in AR and VR for the platform. Among the top trends in Android development, one potential innovation has caught the attention of savvy app developers: Microdroid.

Android developers and blogs were astir earlier this year when Google engineer Jiyong Park announced via the Android Open Source Project that they are working on a new, minimal Android-based Linux image called Microdroid.

Details about the project are scant, but it’s widely believed that Microdroid will essentially be a lighter version of the Android system image designed to function on virtual machines. Google is preparing for a world in which even smartphone OS’s require a stripped-down version that can be run through the cloud.

Working from a truncated Linux, Microdroid will pull the system image from the device (tablet or phone), creating a simulated environment accessible from any remote device. It has the ability to enable a world in which users can access Google Play and any Android app using any device.

What does this mean for developers?

Microdroid will open up new possibilities for Android apps in embedded and IoT spaces which require potentially automated management and a contained virtual machine which can mitigate security risks. Cloud gaming, cloud computing—even smartphones with all features stored in the cloudare possible. Although we will have to wait and see what big plans Google has for Microdroid and how Android developers capitalize on it, at this juncture, it’s looking like the shift to the cloud may entail major changes in how we interact with our devices. App developers are keen to keep their eyes and heads in the cloud.

Although no timeline for release has been revealed yet, we expect more on Microdroid with the announcement of Android 12.

LiDAR: The Next Revolutionary Technology and What You Need to Know

In an era of rapid technological growth, certain technologies, such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things, have received mass adoption and become household names. One up-and-coming technology that has the potential to reach that level of adoption is LiDAR.

WHAT IS LIDAR?

LiDAR, or light detection and ranging, is a popular remote sensing method for measuring the exact distance of an object on the earth’s surface. Initially used in the 1960s, LiDAR has gradually received increasing adoption, particularly after the creation of GPS in the 1980s. It became a common technology for deriving precise geospatial measurements.

LiDAR requires three components: the scanner, laser, and GPS receiver. The scanner sends a pulsed laser to the GPS receiver to calculate an object’s variable distances from the earth surface. The laser emits light which travels to the ground and reflects off things like buildings, tree branches and more. The reflected light energy then returns to the LiDAR sensor where the associated information is recorded. In combination with photodetector and optics, it allows for an ultra-precise distance detection and topographical data.

WHY IS LIDAR IMPORTANT?

As we covered in our rundown of the iPhone 12, new iOS devices come equipped with a brand new LiDAR scanner. LiDAR now enters the hands of consumers who have Apple’s new generation of devices, enabling enhanced functionality and major opportunities for app developers. The proliferation of LiDAR signals toward the technology finding mass adoption and household name status.

There are two different types of LiDAR systems: Terrestrial and Airborne. Airborne LiDAR are installed on drones or helicopters for deriving an exact measurement of distance, while Terrestrial LiDAR systems are installed on moving vehicles to collect pinpoints. Terrestrial LiDAR systems are often used to monitor highways and have been employed by autonomous cars for years, while airborne LiDAR are commonly used in environmental applications and gathering topographical data.

With the future in mind, here are the top LiDAR trends to look out for moving forward:

SUPERCHARGING APPLE DEVICES

LiDAR enhances the camera on Apple devices significantly. Auto-focus is quicker and more effective on those devices. Moreover, it supercharges AR applications by greatly enhancing the speed and quality of a camera’s ability to track the location of people as well as place objects.

One of the major apps that received a functionality boost from LiDAR is Apple’s free Measure app, which can measure distance, dimensions, and even whether an object is level. The measurements determined by the app are significantly more accurate with the new LiDAR scanner, capable of replacing physical rulers, tape measures, and spirit levels.

Microsoft’s Seeing AI application is designed for the visually impaired to navigate their environment, however, LiDAR takes it to the next level. In conjunction with artificial intelligence, LiDAR enables the application to read text, identify products and colors, and describe people, scenes, and objects that appear in the viewfinder.

BIG INVESTMENTS BY AUTOMOTIVE COMPANIES

LiDAR plays a major role in autonomous vehicles, relying on a terrestrial LiDAR system to help them self-navigate. In 2018, reports suggest that the automotive segment acquired a business share of 90 percent. With self-driving cars inching toward mass adoption, expect to see major investments in LiDAR by automotive companies in 2021 and beyond.

As automotive companies look to make major investments in LiDAR, including Volkswagen’s recent investment in Aeva, many LiDAR companies are competing to create the go-to LiDAR system for automotive companies. Check out this great article by Wired detailing the potential for this bubble to burst.

LIDAR DRIVING ENVIRONMENTAL APPLICATIONS

Beyond commercial applications and the automotive industry, LiDAR is gradually seeing increased adoption for geoscience applications. The environmental segment of the LiDAR market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 32% through 2025. LiDAR is vital to geoscience applications for creating accurate and high-quality 3D data to study ecosystems of various wildlife species.

One of the main environmental uses of LiDAR is for soliciting topographic information on landscapes. Topographic LiDAR is expected to see a growth rate of over 25% over the coming years. These systems can see through forest canopy to produce accurate 3D models of landscapes necessary to create contours, digital terrain models, digital surface models and more.

CONCLUSION

In March 2020, after the first LiDAR scanner became available in the iPad Pro, The Verge put it perfectly when they said that the new LiDAR sensor is an AR hardware solution in search of software. While LiDAR has gradually found increasing usage, it is still a powerful new technology with burgeoning commercial usage. Enterprising app developers are looking for new ways to use it to empower consumers and businesses alike.

For supplementary viewing on the inner workings of the technology, check out this great introduction below, courtesy of Neon Science.

How App Developers Can Leverage the iPhone 12 to Maximize Their Apps

On October 23rd, four brand new iPhone 12 models were released to retailers. As the manufacturer of the most popular smartphone model in the world, whenever Apple delivers a new device its front-page news. Mobile app developers looking to capitalize on new devices must stay abreast of the latest technologies, how they empower applications, and what they signal about where the future of app development is headed.

With that in mind, here is everything app developers need to know about the latest iPhone models.

BIG DEVELOPMENTS FOR AUGMENTED REALITY

LiDAR is a method for measuring distances (ranging) by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor

LiDAR is a method for measuring distances (ranging) by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor

On a camera level, the iPhone 12 includes significant advancements. It is the first phone to record and edit Dolby Vision with HDR. What’s more, Apple has enhanced the iPhone’s LiDAR sensor capabilities with a third telephoto lens.

The opportunities for app developers are significant. For AR developers, this is a breakthrough—enhanced LiDAR on the iPhone 12 means a broad market will have access to enhanced depth perception, enabling smoother AR object placement. The LIDAR sensor produces a 6x increase in autofocus speed in low light settings.

The potential use cases are vast. An enterprise-level application could leverage the enhanced camera to show the inner workings of a complex machine and provide solutions. Dimly lit rooms can now house AR objects, such as Christmas decorations. The iPhone 12 provides a platform for AR developers to count on a growing market of app users to do much more with less light, and scan rooms with more detail.

The iPhone 12’s enhanced LiDAR Scanner will enable iOS app developers to employ Apple’s ARKit 4 to attain enhanced depth information through a brand-new Depth API. ARKit 4 also introduces location anchors, which enable developers to place AR experiences at a specific point in the world in their iPhone and iPad apps.

With iPhone 12, Apple sends a clear message to app developers: AR is on the rise.

ALL IPHONE 12 MODELS SUPPORT 5G

5G 2

The entire iPhone 12 family of devices supports 5G with both sub-6GHz and mmWave networks. When iPhone 12 devices leverage 5G with the Apple A14 bionic chip, it enables them to integrate with IoT devices, and perform on ML algorithms at a much higher level.

5G poses an endless array of possibilities for app developers—from enhanced UX, more accurate GPS, improved video apps, and more. 5G will reduce dependency on hardware as app data is stored in the cloud with faster transfer speeds. In addition, it will enable even more potential innovation for AR applications.

5G represents a new frontier for app developers, IoT, and much more. Major carriers have been rolling out 5G networks over the past few years, but access points remain primarily in major cities. Regardless, 5G will gradually become the norm over the course of the next few years and this will expand the playing field for app developers.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Beyond the bells and whistles, the iPhone 12 sends a very clear message about what app developers can anticipate will have the biggest impact on the future of app development: AR and 5G. Applications employing these technologies will have massive potential to evolve as the iPhone 12 and its successors become the norm and older devices are phased out.

Maximize Profits with the Top Freemium Tactics of 2020

The global gaming market is estimated at $152 billion, with 45% derived from mobile games. The mobile game market is constantly evolving, new tactics and even platforms, like Apple Arcade, are being introduced. As a mobile game developer, being dynamic and staying up on the latest trends is of the utmost importance. Staying on top of these trends will help make a more engaging and profitable mobile game.

Keeping this in mind, below are the top freemium tactics of 2020:

RETENTION IS (STILL) KING

Mobile game developers must remember that freemium games begin and end with a good retention strategy that keeps users engaged.

Daily Tasks: Set-up daily tasks that pass the Starbucks Test. One of them can be opening the app on a daily basis. These should be fairly simple to complete and offer a reward, encouraging users to integrate gameplay into their daily lives.

Rewards Pack on User Birthdays: Give users some kind of bonus on their birthday to enrich their personal relationship with the game.

Challenge Dormant Users: After 3 days, give users a special, temporary challenge to reengage them with the app. Temporary promotions can be an effective way to instill a sense of urgency in the call-to-action and trigger users to open the app.

Promotion Before Subscription/Free Trial Ends: Tempt the user to sign-up or to extend their subscription by offering a temporary promotion 24-48 hours before their free trial/subscription ends.

When it comes to measuring retention, check out the model retention rates below from The Tool (Performance-Based Mobile ASO):

  • Day 1 Retention – 40%
  • Day 7 Retention – 20%
  • Day 28 Retention – 10%

Retention can also be tracked hourly instead of daily where Day 1 Retention will be the percentage of users who returned within 24-48 hours from the install. Here’s how it might look in analytics systems such as devtodev (via The Tool):

Retention-Analytics

OUTSTREAM VIDEO ADS

Outstream Video is a new type of video ad unit, referred to sometimes as “native video”, designed for targeting mobile users.

Outstream Video ads do not require placement within a Youtube video. They play with the sound off on mobile screens when more than 70% of the ad is visible. The user can tap the ad to turn the sound on and restart the video from the beginning, or they can continue scrolling. When less than 70% of the ad is visible, the video pauses.

Advertisers such as the Hong Kong tourism board have had great success using Outstream Video ads, delivering 30% incremental reach with a 40% lower cost per completed video and 85% lower CPM.

REWARDED ADS PAY OFF

When it comes to monetizing a mobile game through advertising, rewarded ads remain at the top of the food chain. A recent survey of app publishers asked what their most successful monetization method was. Rewarded Video Ads won with 75% of the vote.

By offering users some kind of in-game reward, such as an extra life, a bonus item, or a new avatar, app developers can improve UI and engagement while encouraging ad views without bothering the user. Rewarded ads remain the ad unit with the highest earning potential.

LOOT BOXES

A loot box is a randomized box of in-game prizes. Users pay for an in-app purchase, but there is no guarantee of whether it will contain gold or pennies, the user has to make the decision to purchase in exchange a random reward. While this tactic is somewhat controversial in Europe where Belgium and the Netherlands have cracked down and labeled it gambling, it remains a popular tactic. Loot boxes are particularly effective for  Whales, wealthy mobile game users who will readily pay to improve their performance in the game.

SELL YOUR DATA

The collection and sale of data is a massive industry. If your app offers the technical means to collect user-generated data such as geolocation, it may be worth it to acquire user consent to license that data.

Applications like Waze & Foursquare receive community-generated data from their users and effectively leverage it to monetize their applications. Waze licenses data to businesses placing location-based ads, whereas Foursquare licenses point of interest geolocation data to Google & Apple for their first party GPS apps Apple Maps & Google Maps.

CONCLUSION

It is important to keep in mind that monetization is the icing on the cake—without an engaging game that hooks users, there will be nothing to monetize. However, making key decisions in the development process with the monetization strategy in mind will *literally* pay off in the long run.

Check out our previous blogs on Mobile Game Monetization for an overview of the fundamentals.

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.

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.

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:

Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 12.46.57 PM

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.