Apple and Google Announcements Point To The Same Horizon

 

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It’s striking how closely Apple’s and Google’s recent slate of announcements parallel each other. Their respective developer conferences both focused on platform integration. Both iOS and Android are moving outside of the phone. The nature of that integration will have lasting effects on the way people interact with the world around them.

“…If you look at the strategy that each company is pursuing regarding their mobile operating systems, you can see mobile devices sitting at the center of a connected web of devices and services – from cars to televisions to wearables.”

In the late nineties, Apple was pushing the idea that your computer was the digital hub of your life. All your other gadgets (e.g. digital camera, iPod, video camera, etc.) were to be managed and coordinated by your computer. Today, if you look at the strategy that each company is pursuing regarding their mobile operating systems, you can see mobile devices sitting at the center of a connected web of devices and services – from cars to televisions to wearables.

If these other initiatives develop traction, expect to see their impact on each platform’s growth and consumers’ buying decisions in the years to come.

Cars: Car Play and Android Auto

Many cars ship with onboard navigation or entertainment systems; Apple and Google both seem to believe they can provide a better experience for users than the current manufacturers do. They’ve adopted similar strategies.

“Apple and Google have both shown themselves to be better at designing user-facing software than most of the car manufacturers. So, you should expect an all-around more polished experience…”

In contrast to electronics manufacturers who create hardware installed in cars, Apple and Google have each created a protocol for allowing a person’s phone to become the brains behind the in-car screen. By separating the device and software running the screen, from the device installed in the car, several significant economies can be realized.

First, people generally upgrade their phones more frequently than their cars or in-car entertainment systems – so the computing power driving the experience will increase significantly faster.

Second, Apple and Google have both shown themselves to be better at designing user-facing software than most of the car manufacturers. So, you should expect an all-around more polished experience and – based on the available demonstrations, both companies appear to have succeeded in that regard.

Third, Apple and Google have significant existing developer communities and the infrastructure to support those communities. Users are diverse and it is very difficult for a single company to fill every niche in a market. By opening the door to third-party developers, Apple and Google create the opportunity for companies like Pandora, Spotify, or MLB to create their own high-quality offering based on existing codebases and assets. Both companies expose a limited sub-set of the power of the operating system to third-party developers.

Most of the constraints in the programming interface are designed to prevent developers from creating apps that will lead to distracted drivers. There are some differences between the two offerings, but they are minor. Many major car manufacturers have announced support for both platforms. In this space, Google’s vision and Apple’s vision seem particularly aligned.

Television: Apple TV and Android TV

Apple debuted the hockey-puck attached to your TV in 2007. The first version looked a lot more like a Mac mini than the current hockey puck which wasn’t introduced until 2010; however, the core offering over that time has remained stable and grown. Today Apple, Roku, and Amazon are shipping products in the space.

“Feature-for-feature, it can be difficult to tell the platforms apart. Some provide voice controls. Some don’t, but core features are very similar.”

As of Google I/O 2014, Google is moving into that space as well with it’s Android TV product. The core of the offering is the ability to purchase or rent movies or television shows from the vendor’s online store. On top of that is layered apps that provide integration with streaming video services, streaming audio services and photo libraries. Control of the ecosystem can be managed from the user’s phone.

Alternately, a phone, tablet, or computer can wirelessly send a signal to directly take over the television as a second screen. Feature-for-feature, it can be difficult to tell the platforms apart. Some provide voice controls. Some don’t, but core features are very similar.

Google has announced support for playing video games stored and powered by Android devices and controlled with traditional-style video game controllers. Apple has all of the pieces in place to make a similar announcement (i.e. controller support and operating system support) – however, Apple has not made an official announcement. Both Google and Apple announced updates to their 3D graphics-programming APIs that appear to be directly targeted significantly at improving the gaming experience on their devices.

Computer: Mac OS and ChromeBooks

Apple has an approximate 7% market share for their OS X operating system. Google’s Chrome books have a minisicule market adoption, however, Google’s apps (e.g. mail, drive, and maps) have significant adoption rates. Both companies spent a portion of their dev-conference keynotes focusing on ways to make platform integration tighter.

From answering phone calls on the computer to automatically authenticating a user based on proximity or automatically synchronizing scroll-position when sharing the same document between two devices, the companies are experimenting with how to make the tranisitions between computer and mobile device seamless.

Health: HealthKit and Google Fit

Both Apple and Google have also announced support for centralized health-tracking applications. The initial feature-set is relatively limited. However, it is clear that both companies see a market here – likely driven by the success of Nike+ and Fitbit.

Not all of these initiatives will bear fruit, and not all of the initiatives will be equally effective for each company. However, given the close parallels between each company’s approach and announcements, it certainly appears that Apple and Google share a very similar vision for the technology that will shape our lives for the next few years.

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What Owners Need to Know Before Rebuilding a Website or App

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“The pressure is on and you need to decide whether you can move forward with [your current software] or if it’s more efficient to start over.”

bad-app-reviewsIt’s never fun to spend money and get less than you expected. Consider a business owner with a website or app that either needs emergency updates or long-due feature enhancements. Perhaps it was built without much concern for scalability or future feature-needs. Maybe its developer moved to Timbuktu before completion. Or worse, the app was live and users were peppering the App Store with 1 star reviews. Whatever the reason, the business owners and stakeholders are left wondering: “What are my options? How do I evaluate those options? Do I have to start from scratch? Will all my previous effort/time/money just go to waste?” Read more

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Apache Configuration for Testing WordPress REST API on Secured Sites

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It’s not uncommon to encounter a few roadblocks during a project and the typical next-step might involve doing a quick Google search for the answer. Unfortunately there are occasions in which we are on own with a unique problem. In this case we had to roll up our sleeves and discover the answer that works. We hope this helps the next person looking for this answer.

“I spent a bit of time reading documentation and testing and getting increasingly frustrated.”

I ran into an interesting problem this week. I have a staging site in active development that needs to remain behind a firewall, but we plan to use the WordPress REST API to serve content from the site to iOS and Android Apps. Unfortunately, for the API to work Read more

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How Google’s I/O Announcements Will Impact Future Product Development

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Google’s message is clear: Android isn’t just for phones and tablets anymore

We learned a lot about what will excite developers and product managers at our Google IO Extended event – and what it all means for your app development plans. We had a room full of developers, product managers, and user experience designers in the audience. Their collective claps, murmurs of delight, and excited chatter helped to highlight some of the most exciting announcements.

“Let’s look at all of the places we are putting the Android brand and where you can work with it… On your walk, in your work, in your car, and on your TV, or in your living room. It’s a push for Android to become the focus of what Google is talking about.” – Ben Dolmar

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What will Google do? A view from The Nerdery: Google I/O Extended coming June 25

Tech watchers not bound for San Francisco for Google I/O are welcome to experience Google’s annual developer conference at The Nerdery, an official Twin Cities host of Google I/O Extended.

Nerdery guests (clients, students, passersby, you?) for this free Google I/O Extended event will watch the keynote (11am-1pm, lunch served) and select portions of the Google I/O livestream on the Nerditorium’s big screen and engage with a panel of Twin Cities tech experts who’ll decode Google’s announcements.

Post-keynote, we’ll analyze Google I/O’s key takeaways, which will essentially be new marching orders for developers – and put context around what it all mean for users. Nerdery devs will present talks of their own on new Google tech, including Glass and other wearables. The Nerds who helped build Chrome Cube Lab in partnership with Google in support of their Rubik’s Cube Doodle will also give a talk.

What to expect when expecting Google I/O

Will Google release the hounds? Since they’re not in the hound business (that we know of) it’s more likely they’ll announce the release of the next Nexus phone and/or tablet, or a smartwatch or some other Android-Wear gadget that works with Google Fit, or a new version of Android, or maybe more apps for Chromecast – or all of the above. We’ll be watching/reacting. Join us? Full schedule and RSVP on our Google+ page.

 

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Security BSides MSP 2014 Conference

 

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In preface, I’m a Nerdery QA Engineer, an unabashed security nerd, and – for the purpose of this post – an evangelist for a security-focused un-conference we’re hosting in August called Security BSidesMSP.

What is BSides MSP?

Each BSides is a free community-driven framework for building events for and by information security community members. Security BSides is the mothership organization, as a reference to the “B” Side of a Cassette Tape. BSides is a worldwide series of “unconferences” typically attached to other conferences, with no cost to attendees. As an example, 612Sides was an alternate down the street from Secure360Security BSides MSP, LLC is the local not-for-profit chapter of Security BSides.

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Hackers Using Public Data to Serve The Community at Hack for MN

HackforMNLogo3-320While we’re best known within hackathon circles for The Nerdery Overnight Website Challenge, we look forward to hosting another supportable initiative: Hack for MN, coming to The Nerdery’s Bloomington HQ the weekend of June 21-22.

Organized by Open Twin Cities in partnership with MN.IT Services, and E-Democracy.org, Hack for MN’s focus is solving local issues by leveraging public data sets – so, collaborating with other problem solvers to find ways to make public data serve the public.

“Begin plotting ways to make otherwise unused data soon useful in your community”

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Your Money is Buying More Than Just Software Testing, It’s Quality Assurance

 

NQA-screens-galoreIf we were only concerned with testing software we would need to think of a different name for our Quality Assurance department. There isn’t anybody applying stickers on widgets from an assembly line stamped “Inspected by No. 2177.” We do things a bit differently here at The Nerdery and it’s earned us the respect of our partners by putting the right engineers on the right projects. The investment our partners make on Quality Assurance for their project ensures that they have smart people providing real solutions throughout their projects to save them time, reduce overall effort, and ensure project success.

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Features Most Likely to Break When Upgrading to iOS8 and What to Plan For

imagesAn experienced quality assurance (QA) engineer will have their spidey-senses tingling with every announcement of a new OS version, hardware refresh, or browser update. These are all good things for innovation, it just means we all need to be ready for launch day by starting to plan today. Read more

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What Swift Means for iOS Development in 2014

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With nary a whisper of new hardware, this was still easily one of the most exciting WWDC Keynotes in memory.

On Monday Apple announced Mac OS X Yosemite, iOS 8, a raft of new developer APIs and a new programming language. Some of the initial reaction to the new language has included a bit of “Sturm und Drang.” It’s worth taking a deep breath, slowing down, and looking at what Apple actually did and did not say during the keynote.

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