Tag Archives: Device

The Real Power of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial

Technological innovations expand the possibilities of our world, but they can also shake-up society in a disorienting manner. Periods of major technological advancement are often marked by alienation. While our generation has seen the boon of the Internet, the path to a new world may be paved with Artificial Intelligence.

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Artificial intelligence is defined as the development of computer systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, including speech recognition, visual perception, and decision-making. As recently as a decade ago, artificial intelligence evoked the image of robots, but AI is software not hardware. For app developers, the modern-day realization of artificial intelligence takes on a more amorphous form. AI is on all of your favorite platforms, matching the names and faces of your friends. It’s planning the playlist when you hit shuffle on Apple Music. It’s curating the best Twitter content from you based on data-driven logic that is often too complex even for the humans who programmed the AI to decipher.

MACHINE LEARNING

Currently, Machine Learning is the primary means of achieving artificial intelligence. Machine Learning is the ability for a machine to continuously improve its performance without humans having to explain exactly how to accomplish all of the tasks it has been given. Web and Software programmers create algorithms capable of recognizing patterns in data imperceptible to the human eye and alter their behavior based on them.

For example, Google’s autonomous cars view the road through a camera that streams the footage to a database that centralizes the information of all cars. In other words, when one car learns something—like an image or a flaw in the system—then all the cars learn it.

For the past 50 years, computer programming has focused on codifying existing knowledge and procedures and embedding them in machines. Now, computers can learn from examples to generate knowledge. Thus, Artificial Intelligence has already permanently disrupted the standard flow of knowledge from human to computer and vice versa.

PERCEPTION AND COGNITION

Machine learning has enabled the two biggest advances in artificial intelligence:  perception and cognition. Perception is the ability to sense, while cognition is the ability to reason. In a machine’s case, perception refers to the ability to detect objects without being explicitly told and cognition refers to the ability to identify patterns to form new knowledge.

Perception allows machines to understand aspects of the world in which they are situated and lays the groundwork for their ability to interact with the world. Advancements in voice recognition have been some of the most useful. In 2007, despite its incredibly limited functionality, Siri was an anomaly that immediately generated comparisons to HAL, the Artificial Intelligence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. 10 years later, the fact that iOS 11 enables Siri to translate French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish is a passing story in our media lifecycle.

Image recognition has also advanced dramatically. Facebook and iOS both can recognize your friends’ faces and help you tag them appropriately. Vision systems (like the ones used in autonomous cars) formerly made a mistake when identifying a pedestrian once in every 30 frames. Today, the same systems err less than once in 30 million frames.

EXPANSION

AI has already made become a staple of mainstream technology products. Across every industry, decision-making executives are looking to capitalize on what AI can do for their business. No doubt whoever answers those questions first will have a major edge on their competitors.

Next week, we will explore the impact of AI on the Digital Marketing industry in the next installment of our blog series on AI.

Securing Your IoT Devices Must Become a Top Priority

The Internet of Things has seen unprecedented growth the past few years. With an explosion of commercial products arriving on the marketplace, the Internet of Things has entered the public lexicon. However,  companies rushing to provide IoT devices to consumers often cut corners with regard to security, causing major IoT security issues nationwide.

In 2015, hackers proved to Wired they could remotely hack a smartcar on the highway, kill the engine and control key functions. Dick Cheney’s cardiologist disabled WiFi capabilities on his pacemaker, fearing an attack by a hacker.  Most recently, the October 21st cyber attack on Dyn brought internet browsing to a halt for hours while Dyn struggled to restore service.

Although the attack on Dyn seems to be independent of a nation-state, it has caused a ruckus in the tech community. A millions-strong army of IoT devices, including webcams and DVRs, were conscripted with a botnet which launched the historically large denial-of-service attack. Little effort has been made to make common consumers aware of the security threats posed by IoT devices. A toy Barbie can become the back door to the home network, providing access to PCs, televisions, refrigerators and more. Given the disturbing frequency of hacks in the past year, IoT security has come to the forefront of top concerns for IoT developers.

SECURING CURRENT DEVICES

The amount of insecure devices already in the market complicates the Internet of Things security problem. IoT hacks will continue to happen until the industry can shrink vulnerable devices. Securing current devices is a top priority for app developers. Apple has made an effort to combat this problem by creating very rigorous security requirements for HomeKit compatible apps.

The European Union is currently considering laws to force compliance with security standards. The plan would be for secure devices to have a label which ensures consumers the internet-connected device complies with security standards. The current EU labeling system which rates devices based on energy consumption could prove an effective template for this new cybersecurity rating system.

ISPs COULD BE THE KEY

Internet service providers could be a major part of the solution when it comes to IoT Security. Providers can block or filter malicious traffic driven by malware through recognizing patterns. Many ISPs use BCP38, a standard which reduces the process hackers use to transmit network packets with fake sender addresses.

ISPs can also notify customers, both corporate and individuals, if they find a device on their network sending or receiving malicious traffic. ISPs already comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which requires internet providers to warn customers if they detect possible illegal file sharing.

With the smarthome and over 1.9 billion devices predicted to be shipped in 2019, IoT security has never been a more important issue. Cyber attacks within the US frequently claim the front page of the mainstream media. CIO describes the Dyn attacks as a wake-up call for retailers. The combination of a mass adoption of IoT and an environment fraught with security concerns means there will be big money in IoT security R & D and a potential slow-down in time-to-market pipeline for IoT products.

Will the federal government get involved in instituting security regulations on IoT devices, or will it be up to tech companies and consumers to demand security? Whatever the outcome, this past year has proved IoT security should be a major concern for developers.

Mind Over Matter: Why Apple Downsized with the iPhone SE

On March 21st, Apple announced a smaller 9.7 inch iPad Pro modela price drop for Apple Watch and new nylon bands, and most importantly, their latest smartphone: the iPhone SE. While the iPhone 6 and 6+ represented the largest phones in Apple history, Apple elected to go smaller with their latest release. The iPhone SE is the size of an iPhone 5 with the processor of an iPhone 6, essentially recycling the aesthetic design of the iPhone with the speed of an iPhone 6.

When it comes to smartphones, screen size matters. Statistics show over half of YouTube views come from mobile devices and the average YouTube session lasts for over 40 minutes. Although people are watching more video than ever on their phones, it doesn’t mean bigger is always better. Many scorned the iPhone 6+ for being too large and clunky. The iPhone SE represents a more affordable option with all the processing power of an iPhone 6 on a smaller screen.

iPhone SE vs. iPhone 6s (via 9 to 5 Mac)

When it comes to specs, the iPhone SE is no slouch. The iPhone SE screen measures at 4.87 x 2.31 x .30 inches, the exact same dimensions as the iPhone 5. Like the iPhone 6, the iPhone SE has retina display. The phone has an A8 chip with 64-bit architecture and an M8 motion coprocessor, like the iPhone 6. While the iPhone 6 has 1334 x 750 pixels (326 PPI), iPhone SE has slightly fewer with 1136 x 640 pixels. The SE’s rear camera is identical to the iPhone 6. The one area in which the SE exceeds the iPhone 6 is in battery life: iPhone SE has 1642 mAh while iPhone 6S has 1715. The SE’s smaller, lower-resolution display ensures users will receive 20% longer 3G internet surfing time on the SE, 30% more 4G, and 20% longer when watching video.

Check out this awesome video review of the iPhone SE by The Verge:

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 in 2017. Techies expect the iPhone 7 to be a major advancement in the Apple lineage. With a large announcement looming, the iPhone SE is designed to diversify their product line with a cost-friendly option to hold Apple lovers over and combat the probability that iPhone sales will decline for the first time in company history in 2016.

At $399 without a contract, Apple seems to be aiming to take a bite out of the cost-friendly Android market. Although the average price for an Android smartphone was about $215 at the end of 2015, the difference may entice those drawn by the allure of Apple products.

Last year, Apple took a big bite out of China. In the 4th Quarter of 2015, iPhone sales grew 33% in China. Having recently lost their crown as largest smartphone vendor in China to Xiaomi, the Chinese market represents a major area of potential growth for Apple. Affordable options with premium processing power have the potential to eat into Android’s sales in rural and urban Chinese markets.

The move to more affordable iPhones began with the iPhone 5c; however, supply chain problems taught Apple that using new material can produce unforeseen difficulties. Foxconn announced that the iPhone 5 was the most difficult device they have ever assembled. By recycling iPhone 5 design, materials, and supply chain, iPhone SE is a much cheaper product to create and manufacture.

Some argue that smartphone UX has not advanced with screen-size and few phones have UX features specifically designed for large-screen devices. Whether or not this influenced Apple’s decision to downsize, the affordability, overseas sales potential, and diversified design certainly make the iPhone SE an attractive device for the company. The question now becomes: will Apple unveil a larger iPhone 7 in 2017 with groundbreaking large-screen UX? We’ll have to wait and see.

Safety First: Mobile Security Is More Than Worth the Investment

Having established the top mobile app trends for 2016 with our blog App to the Future, the Mystic Media blog is currently exploring each of the top trends in greater detail with a five-part series. This week, in Part 3 of our Top Mobile App Development Trends series, we will be examining security.

2015 saw several major data breaches, including 87 million patient records from Anthem and 21.5 million security clearance apps from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The European Union is currently crafting a General Data Protection Regulation designed to strengthen and unify data protection.

Gartner correctly predicted that over 75% of mobile applications would fail basic security tests in 2015. Many mobile companies are sacrificing security to attain quicker turn-around on smaller budgets, and the result has been disastrous for many. Even Apple hasn’t been safe from mobile app hacks.

Mobile application security is an integral part of the app development process worthy of the same level of attention as app creators give to design, marketing and functionality. With that in mind, here are some of the top app security trends for 2016:

DevOps Protocol on the Rise

In a recent RackSpace Survey of 700 IT manager and business leaders, 66% of respondents had implemented DevOps practices and 79% of those who had yet to implement DevOps planned to by the end of 2015.

DevOps is an approach to app development that emphasizes collaboration between software development, IT operations, security and quality assurance through all stages of the app development process under one automated umbrella. Utilizing a DevOps protocol improves app security by bringing the IT security team in at an early stage to guide the development process away from potential security threats. App Developers gravitate toward DevOps since it speeds up the time to market while increasing innovation. Like a conveyer belt, DevOps puts a system of checks and balances in place at all stages to ensure that the product will be sufficient for delivery.

By opening up the app development process, security team members can inject security into the code early in the development process and eliminate vulnerabilities before they become threats.

Security Risks In Wearable Tech

Wearable technology is on the rise not only in the marketplace, but as a major security vulnerability for businesses. With the technology in nascent stages, developers have been more concerned with creating a functional strategy for the wearable platform than they have been with improving security. Health and Fitness apps leave users the most vulnerable by constantly monitoring the user’s heartbeat, movement and location. With limited UI and an emphasis on usability, wearables severely lack in security features. App developers looking to create safe apps for this platform will have to innovate and dictate the trends in order to create apps that don’t put the user at risk.

IoT (Internet of Things) & BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device)

With the workplace increasingly becoming virtual, malicious hackers acting through the Internet of Things are targeting personal mobile devices in order to find vulnerabilities in businesses.

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) has increased in popularity in work cultures, each of which represents a potential vulnerability . Smartphone owners generally don’t invest in security on their personal devices with the same thoroughness as a business would when issuing work devices. Due to the boon of mobile work apps, many app developers are cutting corners to meet demand by sacrificing security in service of quicker turnover.

Wise and experienced app developers know you can’t put a price on safety, and they take the necessary precautions to protect the integrity of the app for its users and the app owner.

Major organizations must understand IoT and how it can improve or threaten their business through their employees’ mobile devices. By encouraging a culture of collaboration and welcoming unique expertise into the app development process at an early stage, DevOps practices help ingrain necessary knowledge about IoT and mobile security into organizations.

That’s it for app security! Be on the lookout for part 4 of our series on the top mobile app development trends for 2016 next week when we explore the Internet of Things.

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.

Best Sleep Apps: Get Better Rest Using your iPhone

25% of people in the US report trouble with sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause decreased performance and alertness, impaired memory, stress, depression and more. Luckily, we live in a golden age of technology. App developers are actively working to develop iOS and Android apps which will help you get better sleep using your iPhone or Android smartphone. Below find some of the best iOS & Android sleep apps on the market.

BEDDIT

Beddit has made a name for itself as one of the consensus top sleep apps on iOS and Android. Beddit measures cardiorespiratory functions by detecting movements caused by respiration and heartbeats. The app uses an ultra-thin film sensor which goes under your sheet in order to  measure sleep time, sleep latency, awakenings, resting heart rate and snoring. While the Beddit app is free, the sleep monitor ranges from $99.99 – $149.99.

Beddit is available for iOS (iPhone and Apple Watch) via iTunes, as well as Android devices via Google Play.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak3ireBUEnw

SLEEP CYCLE

For those looking for a more cost-friendly sleep app, Sleep Cycle is another of the top Android and iOS sleep apps—and it’s only $0.99. Developed by Northcube, Sleep Cycle uses the iPhone’s accelerometer to track sleep phases. When we sleep, we go through multiple states in our sleep cycle, the deepest of which is REM sleep where dreams occur. Sleep Cycle monitors movements using sound analysis and wakes users up during light sleep to ensure users feel naturally rested.

Sleep Cycle is currently available for Android and iOS for free with in-app purchases.

SLEEP GENIUS

If you’re searching for the most high-tech sleep app, look no further than Sleep Genius. Designed with the help of research by NASA, Sleep Genius helps you determine the perfect bedtime, revives you with a soothing alarm, and even helps you make the most of your naps with psychoacoustic music scientifically designed to trigger a relaxation response. NASA’s magazine, SPINOFF, recently celebrated the app for its use of NASA technology to create a better world.

At $4.99, the app is moderately priced in iTunes and Google Play. It’s a steal considering the level of high tech utilized to make it work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COo0qiJHEqc

Looking for more great sleep apps? Check out these awesome curated lists from HealthLine and Tom’s Guide.

Mystic Media is an Android & iOS app development, web design and strategic marketing firm located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Samsung and Microsoft Team Up for Galaxy S6–What It Means for Apple, Android, and Windows

Samsung is looking to step up its smartphone game.

Recently, there have been reports that the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge devices will come pre-packaged with Microsoft apps despite running on the Android OS. Coming only a few weeks after the two tech titans settled a royalty dispute out of court, the move is sure to raise eyebrows–especially those at Android.

At the Mobile World Congress, Samsung revealed the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will come bundled with Skype, OneDrive, and OneNote applications preinstalled in a “Microsoft Apps” folder. The Galaxy S6 also comes with 115GB of free OneDrive storage for two years as part of a new partnership with Microsoft. It’s possible Samsung may also include Microsoft Office mobile with their phones, but they did not reveal this during the demo.

Windows Central alleges Samsung is looking to make more phones on the Windows OS in 2015. They have had limited success doing so in the past, but perhaps the reputation for efficiency of the Windows OS is drawing them to expand their repertoire, or perhaps they intend to create more affordable hardware on Windows.

Samsung has been attempting to reduce their reliance on the Android OS for some time now. They created Tizen, their own operating system, back in with the intent of competing with Android, iOS, and Windows. After several delays, Samsung recently launched their first smartphone utilizing Tizen: Samsung Z1, to middling results.

For Apple, the move certainly increases stock in Samsung’s direct iPhone 6 and 6 Plus competitor, but regardless, there’s no denying Samsung is shamelessly playing catch-up. The S6 features an updated fingerprint scanner and Samsung has recently announced their Apple Pay competitor: Samsung Pay.

For Microsoft, this is a huge win. The move represents Microsoft’s first time striking a deal with a non-Windows phone to preload any of its apps.

If you’re an Android fanboy, this cannot be pleasing. Although plenty of iPhones receive installs of Google Maps and other Google apps, they do not come prepackaged. Microsoft effectively poached a major Android device, and there’s virtually nothing Google can do about it.

Of course, we won’t know the ultimate impact until the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are released in April. Until then, we’ll chock it up to a win for Microsoft.

Mystic Media is an app development, web design, and strategic marketing firm located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Shaken Not Stirred: Apple Watch’s Anticipated Impact on Wearable Platform

Last year was huge for Apple products. The company announced and released a number of very important advancements, including iPhone 6, iOS 8, OS Yosemite, and Swift. The one product Apple announced but didn’t release could prove to have the most significant impact: Apple Watch.

Wearables are the next big platform for app development. While they’ve already caught on in Toronto, wearables aren’t predicted to receive mass adoption in the US until Apple Watch begins shipping in April. The function of wearables in the user’s daily life isn’t widely understood by the public. As with tablets, until consumers have the opportunity to use the devices and experience first-hand what the fuss is about, they will remain skeptical and the technological and market potential of wearables will remain untapped.

With the release and impact of Apple Watch looming, a surge in relevancy for wearable devices is imminent. As an app developer, wearables present a major opportunity upon which to capitalize: a brand new platform with new rules and plenty of room for innovation.

While the iPad acted as a bridge between the laptop and the smartphone, Apple Watch will have the smallest screen, functional for receiving information and sending out responses via voice memo and dictated text. The screen-size and lack of keyboard mean the controls are extremely simple. One would imagine very few practical applications which would work, however, this summary of the Apple Watch announcement shows how much app developers can do within the simple control scheme: The Verge Apple Watch Announcement in 6 minutes

The Honeywell application allows you to control the temperature of your home. Lutron allows you to control the lighting. Keep up to date on the latest sports scores, check text messages on the go without losing your train of thought. One of the cliche jokes about smartphones revolves around how we use them to avoid eye-contact. They disintegrate our social interactions because we’re constantly getting pulled away from conversations and sucked into the digital world. Apple Watch represents an intermediary device which will allows us to complete the bare essentials of digital communication without losing a step. The user can subtly process information sent to them without appearing rude for pulling out his/her phone.

The simplicity of Apple Watch weeds out overly-complicated unproductive applications to emphasize ways in which technology can aid the user in their day-to-day. The purpose of a watch is to help its owner have a better sense of time and time management. Apple Watch will no doubt see a host of new productivity apps released exclusive to the platform. The ability to set reminders with subtle notifications will allow professionals with busy schedules to stay focused on the task at hand without missing a beat.

Apple Watch presents a potential breakthrough for healthcare apps. Fitness tracks your daily movements and Workout allows users the ability to set goals for themselves and change their habits. Apple Watch will track glucose levels for diabetics. The ability to track heart-rate and movement also offers a host of uses for clinical applications detailed in this report.

About 35 million people reportedly want to buy an Apple Watch within a year of its release, according to Business Insider. It’s expected to be the biggest Apple release of the year and will likely initiate the widespread adoption of wearable devices. With its release looming, we can only speculate and await anxiously the future of wearable devices.

Mystic Media is an app development, web design, and strategic marketing firm located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Contact us today by clicking here or 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

Android L Beta Preview: First Impressions of the Latest OS

As the year winds down, the developer community can look forward to new operating systems from Apple, Android, and Microsoft. We’ve covered the forthcoming IOS 8 upgrade and Windows has taken a different approach, updating their Windows 8.1 consistently without renaming the OS. This leaves the upcoming Android L. Android recently released the Android L Developer preview, a sneak peak at the latest version of the OS, available for the Nexus 5 and the 2013 Wi-Fi Nexus 7. We took a look to assess the ins and outs of the platform.

The biggest development in the Android L is an aesthetic: the shift from the recommended Holo visual theme to Material Design. Like flat design, Material Design involves a simple, vibrant, non-skeuomorphic visual scheme. Unlike flat design, Material Design is about creating a realistic cyber universe. Material is a metaphor. The idea of space within the user interface which is “inspired by the study of paper and ink yet technology advanced and open to imagination and magic.” (via Google) In other words, it’s an interface which is realistic and has intuitive rules within its own world, but still makes things easier when it can with creative gestures and transitions. The key to creating a realistic digital-space is to have consistent, fundamental rules of light, surface and movement. For more on Material Design, check out Google’s introduction to the concept.

The notification tray received a major renovation. Rather than keeping two trays for alerts and quick settings, the two are now presented in one unified notification tray. Dragging down from the top of the screen pulls out notifications, then dragging down on the notifications screen reveals a layer of quick settings.

The lock screen also received an update, displaying notifications front and center, allowing easy access directly from the lock screen. The updated lock screen also makes access to functions easier through gesture:  a swipe up unlocks the device, a swipe left opens the camera, a swipe right (on phones) opens the dialer.

Android’s Project Volta was designed to optimize the OS’s performance on smartphones to improve battery life. Project Volta follows a pattern of projects run by Google focused on addressing weaknesses of the previous platform, such as Project Butter, which aimed to make Android’s UI animations run at 60 fps, and Project Svelte, an effort to get the OS to run on 512MB of RAM. In previous versions, when the OS is engaged in a process for one second, it burns two minutes of standby time. To address this, Project Volta includes the development of a “JobScheduler” API which allows the OS to batch unimportant app requests, and gives developers the option to delay housekeeping functions on their apps until the device is plugged in. ArsTechnica did a study of the Android L Preview battery life versus Android 4.4 KitKat and found that Android L Preview had 36% more battery life.

 androidL

Via Ars Technica

Another major move in the Android L Preview is the transition of the default run-time from Dalvik to ART, which aims to save battery life and yield a faster, more efficient performance. Animations and scrolling felt both faster and smoother, but there were some bugs with the multitasking view and notification tray which one can imagine will be fixed in the final version of the OS.

App compatibility with the new OS fluctuates, some work fine in the Android L Beta, while others don’t work at all, including Twitter, Dropbox, and Google Docs. Of course, we expect much of this to be ironed out in the final version of the OS. The bottom line for Android developers is that Android L represents a major improvement in battery life, aesthetics and performance, which is good for business.

At Mystic Media, we’re highly experienced in the Android app development field, with a thorough and continually evolving perspective on the ins and outs of the platform. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815