Tag Archives: Apple

Apple and Google Announcements Point To The Same Horizon

 

apple-android-hero
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.

Filed under Technology

What Swift Means for iOS Development in 2014

Unknown

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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Filed under Technology

Apple to Developers at WWDC: Your Chance to Learn a New Language – Swift

If you are a software developer for Apple’s iOS platform you are still recovering from the latest announcements about the future of iOS. There is a lot to digest in regards to the big news for developers and we discuss a few notable highlights.  Read more

Filed under Technology

Long-time listeners, first-time Soundset mobile App makers

Several Nerds will enjoy what’s become a traditional Memorial Day weekend at Soundset this Sunday, but for the first time there’s an app for that fine festival – and that’s because we built it for our friends at Rhymesayers. Read more

Filed under Design, Events, The UX Files

iBeacon: Radio Radio

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KTWIN Logo 96.3

The Nerdery’s Ryan Carlson tells K-TWIN’s Cane & Co about iBeacon and the internet of things. Barely mentioned by Apple at WWDC, iBeacon has flown under the radar among all things iOS, but devs took notice – and Nerds experimented.

Must-hear radio like this can be heard at 8 a.m. Monday mornings on K-TWIN (96.3 FM, Twin Cities). Or, hear our rebroadcast, here.

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NerdCast #43: iOS Developer Reaction to Apple’s New iPhone

NerdCast iOS

In this episode of the NerdCast we talk with two iOS developers here at The Nerdery about today’s announcements at Apple Headquarters, in which they announced two new iPhone models and gave some insights into the final build of iOS 7 that is being released on September 18th. Find out what this means for App development and what these new hardware specs can do for the next generation of Apps.

HostRyan Carlson

Guests: Jon Rexeisen & Jay Peyer, iOS Developers at The Nerdery

Listen Now:
Running Time: 0:21:42 / Subscribe on iTunes

Play
Filed under NerdCast

NerdCast #29: There And Back Again – A Developers Tale

WWDC NerdCast Coverage Album ArtIn this episode of The NerdCast we follow up with Jon Rexeisen, a principle software engineer from the nerdery that has been at WWDC all week. We have an in depth discussion about the challenges that will arise in updating old apps and the design implications of iOS7. This discussion will be insightful for business owners, mobile designers, and app developers alike.

Host: Ryan Carlson

Guests: Jon Rexeisen, Senior Developer at The Nerdery

Have an App or Want to Build an App?

Do you have an iOS development project or do you want to discuss being iOS 7-ready? Submit your project details.

Listen Now:
Running Time: 0:22:28 / Subscribe on iTunes

Play
Filed under NerdCast

Businesses That Ignore iOS 7 Risk Loss of App Standing and Marketshare

iOS 7 New Visual DesignsAs we look back over the many sessions attended the week, the biggest takeaway by far is that iOS 7 is a design overhaul. With iOS 7, Apple is removing superfluous UI (goodbye skeuomorphism!) and refocusing on the user’s content. A preview on some of the new iOS 7 designs can be seen on their website.

In one session, Apple said they started over with a blank slate for each built-in app, with the goal to determine the focus of each app. As painful as it will be, this is something app designers and owners will want to do as well.

iOS 7 tells us that that the focus needs to shift back to the user’s content — the UI should be “unobtrusive and deferential”.

  • Do you have too many buttons?
  • Multiple ways to do the same thing?
  • Features that aren’t commonly used?
  • UI that distracts?

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3 Things iOS Nerds Took Away From The WWDC 2013 Keynote

wwdc13-about-mainEvery year thousands of software developers wait for the coveted tickets for Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) to go on sale. This year it sold out in 71 seconds. Of those lucky shopping-cart jockeys, two Nerdery employees got golden tickets to attend the conference in California. Follow these Nerds on Twitter by following the #wwdcnerds hashtag.

For the rest of us watching from home, we streamed of the keynote on the big screen from the comfort of our bean bags in The Luke J Bucklin Memorial Nerditorium. Our Nerdery audience cheered on the praise-worthy features and announcements, made snarky comments about iCloud (so did they fix it this time?), and had insightful side conversations about what the future holds for developers – and how the features might be integrated into future projects.

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Filed under Tech News

Tech Talk: Learning New Tricks, My Mac Experience (Developer Edition)

Developers at The Nerdery have a lot of choices to make when they start their new job. Although having a dozen different types of cereal in the cafeteria to choose from seems like a big decision to make, it rarely impacts their work performance. Each employee has a decision to make over their choice of workstation and development tools.

Scott Carpenter shares his experience when he joined the ranks of code-ninjas here at The Nerdery and how he made a very adventurous choice to “try something new”.

Learning New Tricks, My Mac Experience
by Scott Carpenter

An email from The Nerdery after I accepted the job:

“Let us know what you want to use, Mac or PC, and what software you’ll need so we can have everything ready when you start.”

Not entirely unexpected, and this is as it should be, but, what a refreshing statement! It told me, you’ll have some freedom of choice here. (Unlike the scenario where you’re not even allowed to set your browser’s home page, which has happened to me and was less than empowering.)

Well, what did I want to use? I’ve used Windows since slightly before Win 95 launched, and at home, exlusively GNU/Linux since 2008. I’m comfortable and productive with both, and was aware that Ubuntu might even have been a valid choice, but I thought: maybe it’s time to see what this Mac business is all about. Macs have good hardware and are pretty. And they have Unix under the hood, right? Okay then.

I had some doubts on my first day when I realized, I don’t know how to use this computer. This is a building full of smart people, and I’m new, and I don’t even know how to use my machine. But a computer is a computer. You know what you should be able to do; you just have to find out how to do it on this weird fruity machine. Luckily there is this thing called The Google, and there were my fellow Mac-using newbs to help me with things like finding the power button.

So what happens when you start using a Mac? I’m going to focus on a couple of keyboard-related problems you’ll run into immediately, especially if you’re a developer that uses the keyboard a lot, and you spend a lot of time in various editing windows. I’ll give you a couple of sanity-saving and life-improving tips.

But first we should talk about balance. In particular, when configuring a machine, whether hardware or software. I’ve learned there’s something to be said for accepting the defaults when possible. It simplifies your life and saves time by reducing the endless customization you’ll tend to do.

But then again, tinkering is fun. And we’re all different. It’s not just about how Steve wanted you to use a computer. It’s also about your needs, and your feelings. Instead of saying, “You shouldn’t want to do that,” or asking, “If you want it to work like Windows, why don’t you use windows?”, let’s fix the glitch.

The first thing is fairly simple, having to do with this strange “command” key. There is a control key on the outside left and right positions on a Mac keyboard, as is proper, but it’s not like the control key you know. Instead, the peculiar “command” button has usurped most of its power.

This turns out to be okay. Many of the key combos you’re used to work just fine with command. But. It’s in the wrong place. So the first thing you’ll want to do is swap the command and control buttons in “System Preferences… > Keyboard > Modifier Keys…”

It may be helpful at first to re-label the keys to remind you of the change:

mac keyboard with labels on alt and cntrl keys

This developer’s properly configured and labeled Mac keyboard.

(We’ll pause for a moment to allow for weeping from native Mac users.)

The next thing we’ll fix is the atrocious behavior of the “home” and “end” keys.

By default, the home key will scroll to the top of your document, but leave the cursor wherever it’s at. End will likewise scroll to the end. This is completely unacceptable. Here is what our fingers have been trained to use:

Home Move cursor to beginning of current line.
End Move cursor to end of current line.
Shift + Home Select text from cursor to beginning of line.
Shift + End Select text from cursor to end of line.
Ctrl + Home Move cursor to beginning of document.
Ctrl + End Move cursor to end of document.
Shift + Ctrl + Home Select text from cursor to beginning of document.
Shift + Ctrl + End Select text from cursor to end of document.

I found a nice solution, which I’ve extended after a bit more research. I like this method because it doesn’t require a third-party program, and it can be set per user.

You’ll need to edit the default key bindings file:

~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict

On my machine, the KeyBindings dir and the DefaultKeyBinding.dict didn’t exist, so I just created them. Add the entries below:

{
    /* Remap Home / End to Appropriate Behavior */
    /* Home */
    "\UF729"   = "moveToBeginningOfLine:";
    /* End  */
    "\UF72B"   = "moveToEndOfLine:";
    /* Shift + Home */
    "$\UF729"  = "moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:";
    /* Shift + End  */
    "$\UF72B"  = "moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:";
    /* Cmd + Home */
    "@\UF729"  = "moveToBeginningOfDocument:";
    /* Cmd + End  */
    "@\UF72B"  = "moveToEndOfDocument:";
    /* Shift + Cmd + Home */
    "@$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfDocumentAndModifySelection:";
    /* Shift + Cmd + End  */
    "@$\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfDocumentAndModifySelection:";
}

(Note that we’re using the command key in place of control, since we moved it to the correct position on the outside.)

You’ll need to restart an open application to use the new bindings in that app, and it doesn’t work in all applications. For example, it doesn’t work in the built-in Terminal program, but in there, you can go to “Preferences > Settings > Keyboard” and set home = \\033OH and end = \\033OF. (Make action = “send string to shell:”)

Side note: In Terminal, the command key doesn’t assume the control key’s duties. Your fingers will often forget this, pressing Command (AKA pseudo-Control) + C or D, and you’ll wonder why your program doesn’t stop.

Bonus tip: Your fingers also may want to use Ctrl + arrow keys to move left and right one word at a time, and also to use “shift” to select the words. For that:

    /* Cmd + Left */
    "@\UF702"  = "moveWordBackward:";
    /* Cmd + Right */
    "@\UF703"  = "moveWordForward:";
    /* Shift + Cmd + Left */
    "@$\UF702" = "moveWordBackwardAndModifySelection:";
    /* Shift + Cmd + Right */
    "@$\UF703" = "moveWordForwardAndModifySelection:";

(Again with Cmd because we’ve moved it into the Ctrl spot.)

More useful info here.

I also spent time learning new habits and adjusting to “what is,” but these changes to “what should be” helped me feel much more comfortable in the new environment, along with getting a proper ergonomic keyboard and trackball:

Complete computer setup with dual monitor

Now we're iComputing!

It’s been a lot of fun. OS X is built on Unix, and you can be happy “doing it wrong” by hanging out in the ugly and gross command line underworld. I found myself wanting to keep learning and playing with my new toy at home over the weekend. I missed it. It’s a beautiful machine, and I love to learn and explore new things. I suddenly realized I was looking at the price of new iMacs. I kinda want one for home, too.

Steve’s revenge!

Scott Carpenter was first introduced to programming in 1981 when Scott’s dad, an electrical engineer, gave him his first computer to encourage his interest in programming. It worked – in 1998 Scott graduated from St. Cloud State University with his Bachelor of Science in business computer information systems. Scott went on to work for Cargill for 15 years as a software developer where he focused on application integration, integration design and development. In 2013, Scott’s journey brought him to The Nerdery where he puts his technical expertise to use as a PHP, WordPress and Java developer.

Filed under Tech Talk, Technology