What App Testers Need To Know About Tizen OS

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Built from scratch, Tizen OS marks Samsung’s break from Google’s Android OS. Tizen OS powers the Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch, and with open source licensing, offers a unique opportunity for app testers and developers. Tizen OS caters to a variety of app environments with mobile, TV, smartwatch, and in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) support. The latest 3.0 version simplifies development with the unified Tizen Common infrastructure. The Linux-based OS comes with several promising features listed below.

Open Source Development

Rooted in Linux, Tizen OS is the product of collaboration between Samsung and Intel. Using Nokia’s scrapped MeeGo technology, Tizen’s open source governance lets app testers play with the design, flow, and other interface properties to offer users a unique experience. The Tizen Common base lets developers construct new profiles to adapt to the processing power of various devices. The latest 3.0 version of the OS introduces a speedy UI framework with a dynamic action library and powerful 3D rendering engine. Tizen also contains a few unique tidbits from Bada, the company’s first venture into OS development.

HTML5 Support

Tizen’s HTML5 engine shortens development cycles for app testers and streamlines web experience. Testers can expect noticeable savings compared to non-HTML5 environments. The flexibility allows developers to design apps for anything from a smartwatch to a smart car. On the other hand, users will enjoy faster, less bloated mobile apps, and integrated support for the most common video formats, meaning fewer ‘missing plug-in’ prompts.

Seamless Transition For Android Developers

The familiarity of Tizen’s interface will be the determining factor for many app testers thinking about making the switch. At first glance, Tizen looks like an Android-TouchWiz hybrid. It relies heavily on Dynamic boxes, which users can resize to view more info. Tizen’s TouchWiz component offers a familiar swipe-able notification bar and toggle bar, and offers several familiar Samsung smartphone features including a firewall with customizable settings, energy saver, and multitasking options. It also includes a Samsung App store.

Beyond Smartphones

Seamless cross-platform functionality is perhaps Tizen’s most attractive feature. The OS runs on computers, tablets, and TVs, with Samsung CEO J.K. Shin excited about its prospects in the bank and car markets. In fact, app testers have already played with Tizen in vehicle entertainment systems. Intel has also announced built-in Google Maps support and live information output. Tizen made its official debut with Samsung’s NX300M camera in late 2013, and has since expanded its reach exponentially. Consumers may soon see Tizen technology in their refrigerators.

Samsung Apps

In this age of mobility and convenience, apps are all the rage. App testers can seamlessly transition their Bada apps to Tizen, and enjoy the same native and web app support offered by Samsung’s previous OS iteration. The game market looks promising, with titles like Asphalt 7 and Cut the Rope making waves in the Tizen Store. Savvy developers will have no problem reaching this market with their own unique content.

Looking To The Future

Samsung has no doubt made great strides with Tizen, but there remains much room for improvement. Tizen OS 3.0 is now publicly available and brings 64-bit support and a variety of graphical and processing enhancements. With Google unveiling 64-bit Android devices, it’s up in the air how well Tizen will fare. For app testers, it’s certainly an OS worth looking into. More information on Tizen is available on the Tizen Association website. Developers looking to break into the Tizen environment can start with Tizen’s own beginner guides.

Edgar L

Wearable Tech Announcements In 2014 That Have Implications For Testers

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There was a time not long ago where the idea of wearable tech really only existed in jokes and in 1950s science fiction films. It wasn’t uncommon to see Captain Kirk use some type of wearable technology on the bridge of the Enterprise, but as a concept it wasn’t necessarily something that people were actually expected to embrace – even in the advanced, tech-rich world of 2014. All of that changed with a few key wearable tech announcements in 2014, suddenly bringing both legitimacy and true excitement to the concept for the first time. Out of all of the wearable tech announcements that happened in 2014, there are a few in particular that have implications for testers.

The Apple Watch

Perhaps the biggest announcement regarding wearable tech in 2014 involves Apple’s foray into this particular section of the market, the Apple Watch. Scheduled to be released in 2015, the Apple Watch most notably features a “digital crown” that is designed to mimic the dial on a traditional watch but allow a user to scroll, zoom and even navigate the device’s touch screen interface. This digital crown also happens to have pretty significant implications for testers, as it is essentially a step in a bold new direction for Apple in general.

All Apple mobile devices released in the last few years have been controlled in the same way – the touch screen interface. Not only do apps and hardware accessories still need to be compatible with the larger iOS ecosystem, but they now have the “X-factor” of this digital crown. The crown is designed to be used in a different way depending on the context, which essentially means redefining core functionality on an as-needed basis.

Mobile Payments

When testers break out a new piece of wearable technology, they are essentially required to make sure that all aspects are functioning at peak efficiency. One of the main features that Apple and other wearable tech manufacturers emphasized in 2014 was the compatibility of these types of devices with mobile payments. Apple’s Watch natively supports Apple Pay, for example. As a result, just as the hardware itself is bravely moving forward into uncharted territory, so is the software that runs on it. Testers will need to not only familiarize themselves with new and unique wearable tech devices, but will also have to embrace dramatic new concepts like Apple Pay at the exact same time.

Testers Are About to Start Getting Fit

Apple and other wearables manufacturers made no secret in 2014 of the fact that many of their devices had an increased emphasis on the health and well being of the user. Apple’s Watch includes many health related features like a heart rate monitor, for example, and also includes functionality designed to complement the step tracker and other Health Kit features inherent in iOS 8.

These types of features are designed to turn wearable tech less into the personal assistant that something like a smartphone has become and more into a full fledged personal trainer. Have you been running for too long and desperately need a break? Your smart watch will be sure to let you know.

As a result, testing now requires people to put these new health related features through the ringer – which means getting out and getting fit themselves. Ideally, wearable tech is something that you could use to track your progress while you’re out on a morning jog, when you’re training for a marathon and in every situation in between. Perhaps the biggest implication for testers regarding wearable tech is that their job has just become as mobile as the hardware itself.

Android Wear

Another significant development to come along in 2014 for wearable technology can be summed up by two simple words: Android Wear. There are currently six unique watches in the Android Wear collection, each with dozens of different watch faces that users can choose from depending on their tastes.

Android Wear also has significant implications for developers, particularly with regards to location-based functionality. Android Wear devices are designed to be useful throughout all aspects of a person’s day, which essentially turns the testing process into a 24/7 experience. Users can do everything from book dinner reservations, get meeting notifications, see weather and traffic updates and even track fitness routines like running or jogging all from an Android Wear device with voice commands.

Stephen L

What You Need To Know About Mozilla’s Rust Programming Language

rust_logoMozilla’s Rust is one of the many programming languages that is available for development professionals in today’s modern technological environment. First bursting onto the digital scene in 2012, Rust is heavily influenced by languages like Napier, C++, Common Lisp, Erlang and more. Rust is the brainchild of a Mozilla employee by the name of Graydon Hoare. In the years since it has been described as one of the most safe and practical programming languages currently available. The question of whether Rust is right for your next project, however, remains to be seen.

There are a few important factors regarding Mozilla’s Rust programming language that you’ll definitely want to consider before making a decision regarding your next big project.

Design and Core Functionality

Since its original inception, the goal of the Rust programming language has been to expedite the creation of both server programs and large client programs that run over the Internet. As a result, the design and core functionality of Rust emphasize both safety and control above all else. The Rust programming language is also designed to be memory safe, which means that by design it aims to completely eliminate the types of bugs that traditional lead to security vulnerabilities where RAM is concerned. Buffer overflows, dangling pointers and other issues that regularly plague other programming languages are under careful supervision with regards to Rust.

Syntax

One of the major considerations of any programming language has to do with the syntax being used. Syntax is a term that refers to the way that words, symbols and other characters must be arranged to create the sentences that make up the backbone of the language itself. By its very design, the syntax of Rust is incredibly similar to that of both C++ and C, meaning that anyone proficient in those languages should have no trouble adapting to the syntax of Rust. More specifically, blocks of code are delimited through the use of braces. Keywords like “if,” “while” and “for” also make appearances in Rust. Not all keywords that you might be familiar with from C++ are accounted for, however, like the “match” command.

The Type System

One of the biggest attributes of Rust is its type system, which it refers to as “traits.” The Rust developers have made no secret of the fact that these traits were directly inspired by the Haskell programming language. Variables that are used with Rust don’t necessarily have to be assigned a value to determine their type, though a compile-time error will occur if code fails to assign a value to the variable in question when it is in use.

Update Frequency and Type

Because Rust is still a relatively new programming language, it is still readily supported by its original developers. If you’re planning on using Rust for your next big project, however, you’ll soon find out that this means both “good news” and “bad news.” The good news is that new versions of Rust have been released several times a year since 2012. 2014 alone saw the release of versions 0.10, 0.11 and 0.12 in April, July and October, respectively. The “bad news” as some will no doubt interpret it is that Rust is still evolving in a pretty dramatic way, which can mean significant changes every time a new version rolls around.

The style of the object system that Rust uses changed significantly between versions 0.2 to 0.4, for example. Classes were first introduced in version 0.2, though by the time 0.4 was released traits were now added to provide inheritance and classes were removed completely.

Stephen L

Top Tools For Cross-Platform App Development

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Because the cost of developing native applications is still high, cross platform app development is more important than ever. If you’re going to invest the time, energy and resources into developing a high quality piece of software, you always want to make sure that it works on as many platforms as possible. Though Apple’s iPhone and its iOS environment is still the proverbial “king of the hill” with regards to mobile devices, Apple is not the only game in town. You still need to think about the ever-popular Android, for example, along with classic operating system environments like BlackBerry and Windows Phone.

There are a few key tools for cross-platform web apps in particular that are definitely worth exploring.

Apache Cordova

A variety of different open source, cross-platform app development tools are based on Apache Cordova. The most famous of these is likely PhoneGap, which allows you to develop your mobile apps natively in eight different platforms – including both of today’s “top dogs,” iOS and Android. The key to Apache Cordova and related tools is that they let you develop mobile apps using all of the latest web technologies. Cordova is also one of the most trusted tools currently available thanks to the fact that it is also one of the oldest and most well-respected.

GWT

Pronounced “Gwit,” GWT is an open source development project that aims to both increase productivity for developers and performance for users. GWT is specifically designed to both build and optimize browser-based applications on a wide variety of different platforms. To put things into perspective, Google regularly uses GWT for many of its projects – some that you may not even realize. Good AdWords and Google Wallet, for example, are just two of the many Google projects that have been developed using the GWT toolkit.

J2ObjC

J2ObjC is an objective C translation tool and runtime environment that is designed to make development from Java to the Apple iOS architecture as easy as possible. It’s an open source command line tool that was created by Google to help developers include Java code in applications built for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch iOS platforms. Data access, application logic and other important parameters can be written in an app’s non user interface code, at which point it can be shared via a variety of web apps using additional development tools like GWT. Support for Android apps is also available in addition to iOS applications, enabling true cross platform development in a fraction of the time. J2ObjC requires JDK 1.7 or higher, Xcode 5 or higher and is specifically designed to be used on the Mac OS X 10.9 or higher operating systems.

Xamarin

Xamarin is a lightweight tool designed with a simple yet lofty goal – to make the development of mobile apps written in C# as easy as possible. The apps that developers are creating with Xamarin are native, which means that both the interface and the performance of the app will see significant boosts. Windows Phone, Android, iOS and a huge range of other platforms are also natively supported thanks to an extensive selection of built-in APIs.

Appcelerator Titanium

To say that Appcelerator Titanium is a popular platform is something of an understatement. More than 50,000 mobile apps have been built with it since its original release. Its major benefit is that it offers an open source SDK based on JavaScript. It also has an inventory of more than 5000 APIS for nearly any type of platform that you may need like HTML5, iOS and everything in between.

Stephen L

What You Need To Know About Google’s Dart Programming Language

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Picking out programming languages is a lot like picking out a car – you need to make sure that you’re making the right decision because whichever product you decide on you’ll be spending a huge amount of time with. One of the more recent programming languages to gain prominence is an open source platform from search engine giant Google called Dart. It’s both object oriented and class based and first appeared in early November of 2014. It’s  heavily influenced by JavaScript, Strongtalk, C# and other languages that most developers already have a certain degree of familiarity with.

There are a few key factors about Google’s Dart programming language that you’re definitely going to want to know as much about as possible.

The Intention of Dart

One of the most important things to understand about the Dart programming language is exactly why it exists in the first place. Since originally announcing the project in 2011, Google engineers have made it very clear that Dart is designed to eventually completely replace JavaScript as the default bridge language on the Internet. According to the project’s leaders, doing so would allow for the general expansion of the open web platform and would lead to a much easier development environment for everyone involved.

Despite those admittedly lofty goals, however, Dart has not yet reached that point. Until widespread support of Dart is adopted, source-to-source compilers for JavaScript are required in order to run Dart code in mainstream browsers like Mozilla Firefox or Apple’s Safari, among others.

Using Dart

Because Dart is still a relatively new programming language, there are three main methods that developers will have to use in order to run code written using it. The first is to compile that code as JavaScript using the compiler dart2js. This is probably the best method for using Dart, as it extends compatibility to all major browsers. This allows developers to use whichever browser they feel the most comfortable in, rather than relying on one required browser as is the case with other programming languages.

The second main way to run Dart is using the Dartium Web browser. This is a version of the Chromium Web browser that has been specifically adjusted to include a Dart VM (virtual machine) environment. It is intended as the primary development tool for all applications written in Dart and is not designed to be used as a standalone web browsing environment.

The third main way to run Dart code is through the use of a stand-alone Dart virtual machine, which is included in the Dart SDK.

Dart Editors

Google released its official Dart Editor way back in November of 2011. Based on components most commonly recognized from Eclipse, Dart Editor is an open-source editing environment that is compatible with the Mac OS X and Windows operating systems, as well as all major distributions of Linux like Ubuntu. Dart Editor supports a wide variety of different functions that developers will find particularly useful like JavaScript compilation, syntax highlighting and more.

Since late 2013, the team behind Chromium has also been working on a Chrome app development environment specifically for working with Dart. Though the product was designed under the code name “Spark,” it was later officially named the Chrome Dev Editor. Chromium is the open sourced Web browser that the Chrome browser is built on. Chrome Dev Editor contains a number of important features that will be of particular use to people coding in Dart, like a graphical user interface widgets library. It is currently available to download as a “Developer Preview” in the Chrome Web Store.

Stephen L

Why Dominos Pizza Is Winning In Mobile

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When you start to think about all of the businesses that are effectively utilizing the smartphone, tablet and Web apps, Dominos Pizza may not necessarily be at the top of that list … if it’s on the list at all. It’s not uncommon to look at a company like Dominos and think, “They may be great at making pizzas, but what could they possibly know about mobile technology?”

Despite conventional wisdom pointing to the contrary, the reality of the situation is actually the exact opposite of that idea: Dominos is not only excelling across the board when it comes to mobile, they’re actually doing better than just about every large organization out there. There are national technology businesses that aren’t utilizing smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices as effectively as Dominos. When you take a closer look at the types of activities that the company is up to and the overall app quality that they’ve been able to achieve, it’s easy to see why.

User Involvement

One of the major reasons why Dominos is seeing such success in the mobile environment has to do with the level of user involvement that they now provide. If you wanted to order a pizza ten years ago, for example, you would pick up your phone and call the nearest location. After a brief communication with an employee, the role the customer played in the equation essentially ended. All they could do is wait patiently for their food to arrive and that would be that.

Thanks to the Dominos mobile app, however, the user is now involved in every step of the way. You can design your own pizza right from the app using a great custom interface filled with graphics representing every last topping. You can include special instructions regarding where you want your pepperoni, or how many olives you can stand before you’ve reached the point of “too many.”

More importantly than that, the customers knows exactly where their pizza is in real-time until the moment it arrives at their door. You get regular status updates regarding when your pizza goes into the oven, when it’s been prepared for delivery, when it’s out for delivery and more. The Dominos mobile experience provides a constant stream of all relevant information right to the user, keeping them engaged in the experience at all times.

Ease of Use

Along the same lines, Dominos understands what so many large organizations fail to consider: the idea of keeping it simple. Even though the Dominos mobile app allows you to do so much, it’s still a sleek, streamlined and basic interface that is never difficult to use, regardless of how complicated your order may be.

Fun

Perhaps the biggest reason for Dominos Pizza’s success in the mobile landscape, however, has to do with the concept of fun. They’ve taken the traditionally mundane idea of ordering and receiving something to eat and have essentially turned it into a fun game from start to finish. Not only that, but it’s also dramatically easier and more convenient than even picking up the phone and calling the local store yourself.

Dominos has been able to accomplish this by taking advantage of every last bit of technology that mobile devices have to offer. Not only do they offer users a stylish app with a properly formatted and engaging graphical user interface, but they’re also using GPS and other location services to allow users to literally track a pizza from start to finish.

Even if you don’t make pizzas or even deliver products directly to customers in 30 minutes or less, there is still quite a bit that you can learn from Dominos regarding properly adapting to new and exciting segments of technology like mobile.

Stephen L

Lead image: Pizza! by Flickr user Paul Tichonczuk, Creative Commons.

Pros & Cons: In-App Purchasing Vs. Mobile Ads

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With smartphones bursting into homes across the world at an astronomical rate, it is only natural that companies of all types should attempt the monetization of that landscape. The same types of techniques for making money in the digital age that work exceptionally well on desktop or laptop computers (pop up advertisements, for example) don’t fit the architecture of a smartphone at all. Businesses have looked to two different methods to make the most of their money in this environment: in-app purchasing and mobile ads. Both methods have their fair share of benefits and disadvantages that can’t be ignored.

In-App Purchasing: The Pros

One of the major benefits of in-app purchasing is just how easy it is to do. When you set up an app with in-app purchasing on the iOS operating system, for example, all a user has to do to purchase whatever they’d like is tap a few quick buttons with their finger. Depending on their device settings they may also have to enter their password – that’s really it. They don’t even have to enter their debit or credit card information, as the price of the content will be automatically charged to the associated iTunes account automatically.

In-app purchasing is also a great way to pursue the monetization of the mobile landscape in the most unobtrusive way possible. Users don’t have to deal with advertisements at all – businesses are simply making additional features available for a price that users can choose to purchase if they deem it necessary. Users are more likely to initially download the app because it’s free, which means that you’ll have a greater opportunity to increase your conversion rate by offering up enticing additional content for your desired price.

In-App Purchasing: The Cons

The major disadvantage of in-app purchasing is that it is essentially a business model that many people question the ultimate sustainability of. Studies have shown that the vast majority of in-app purchases are made by a very small percentage of the user base of a particular application. Software developers who use this method essentially depend on a very small number of people who spend a large amount of money within the app. If that small group of people should suddenly move onto the “next big thing,” the app will dramatically lose profitability almost instantly.

Mobile Ads: The Pros

The major benefit of mobile ads is that they have a massive penetration rate. Instead of quietly making additional content available through in-app purchases and hoping that a certain segment of your user base will offer up additional money, you’re essentially putting an ad in front of the eyes of every user of that app on the planet. You can also more easily track the total number of ad views based on the size of your user base. If you know 100,000 people downloaded an app, you can also reasonably guarantee that almost all of those people will see the mobile ad when it loads.

Mobile Ads: The Cons

The major disadvantage of mobile ads is that they generally disrupt the user experience in a significant way. If a user is using a particular app to look up movie times, a mobile ad needs to go in one specific place for maximum effectiveness: after the user has requested information but before that information has actually been provided to them. That is essentially the best place to guarantee that the user will view the ad at all. However, doing so disrupts the user experience and may make them look for other apps with less ads in the future.

Stephen L

What You Need To Know About Mozilla’s Firefox Developer Edition Browser

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Mozilla Firefox is turning ten years old and to mark the occasion the company has designed a special present for the people who essentially run the Internet on a daily basis: developers. Originally released in 2004, Mozilla Firefox quickly rose to prominence as a reliable, secure and lightweight alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Though its user base was initially small in comparison to Internet Explorer (thanks largely to the fact that Microsoft bundles its browser with every copy of the Windows operating system), its support has grown astronomically in only a decade. Mozilla has recently released the Firefox Developer Edition, which has a wide variety of different benefits that can’t be ignored.

For Developers, By Developers

Mozilla is touting the Developer Edition as the world’s first web browser that was designed specifically with other developers in mind. It’s graphical user interface has been created from the ground up to support the types of activities and the workflow processes that these individuals go through on a daily basis. It’s a browser that allows developers to build sites and apps, test their work, scale to specific requirements and complete other types of activities all from the same application. Though these components were possible before the release of the Firefox Developer Edition, it usually required a great deal of multitasking and moving back and forth from separate programs.

Debugging

One of the major benefits of the Firefox Developer Edition has to do with the wide range of different options it provides to developers with regards to debugging. Many of these features are possible thanks to a single built-in extension called Valance. Valance allows developers to both inspect and debug an app or site across any type of browser or device that a user may be viewing it on. When a user views an app on the iOS operating system (which is found on all Apple devices), for example, it should naturally respond differently than if the user were viewing the same app on Android. Valance natively has support for these types of systems and more, allowing developers to complete all work from a single point of access.

Another major benefit of Valance is that it includes compatibility for all of the major operating systems in use by users today. Support is extended for Chrome for Android, for example, as well as the mobile version of the Apple Safari browser that is currently installed on every iOS device in existence.

Coding

Another major benefit of the Firefox Developer Edition is the great deal of different options that it provides users with regards to coding. The Developer Edition is capable of allowing everything from simple Javascript to Responsive Web Design and more thanks to a built-in Style Editor. Also commonly referred to as RWD, Responsive Web Design is the concept that the needs of users will change based on the device they are using an app on, which means that the app itself needs to automatically adapt to provide for the best possible experience.

If a user is browsing a site on a desktop computer, for example, they are both using a mouse for navigation and using a large format browser on a large screen monitor. The layout of the page should automatically change when the same content is viewed on a touch screen device like an iPhone or iPad. The built-in Style Editor allows developers to automatically account for these types of changes. Additionally, they can experience the way their content will look and feel in different environments automatically to make sure that they’re always putting their best foot forward.

Stephen L

What Is The Difference Between Bluetooth Low Energy And Wi-Fi Direct?

When people think about file sharing, they often thing of piracy and intellectual property theft. As a concept, however, it’s much more than that. File sharing can be as simple as sharing a document, a video clip or any other type of digital media between two different devices in the same home. For many years, the “easiest” way to do that was sharing the file on your home network. However, the obvious drawback to that method is that not only is it time consuming to set up, but it also makes that file available to any other device on the same network – which is a very serious privacy concern if you’re in public.

As we draw closer to the age of “The Internet of Things,” two different methods for close quarters personal file sharing have emerged: Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi Direct. Both are similar in concept but are fundamentally different in a number of important ways.

Bluetooth Low Energy

Bluetooth Low Energy is the natural evolution of basic Bluetooth technology. In essence, a short range, wireless connection between two different points is created using the basic Bluetooth protocol. This connection can be between a desktop computer and a laptop computer, a laptop computer and a mobile phone, a mobile phone and a tablet or any other combination of devices that you may require. Once the two devices are connected with one another, any file can be shared wirelessly over that connection at any time.

Wi-Fi Direct

Wi-Fi Direct is a relatively new entry in the world of close quarters file sharing, but it is already making significant progress. It operates conceptually in much the same way that a standard wireless router does, but with a few very important differences. For starters, you don’t need a Wi-Fi router to act as an “access point” for two devices to connect with one another. In that regard, it actually operates in much the same way that Bluetooth does by creating a network connection that only goes between two points. The major difference is that it uses a separate type of wireless technology.

Perhaps the most important difference between Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth Low Energy is exactly how they were designed to work. By its very nature, Bluetooth has a very limited range that both devices can use to connect with one another. Using earlier versions of the Bluetooth protocol, the two devices needed to be very close to one another (usually no more than a few feet) for the connection to be recognized at all. The 4.0 version of the Bluetooth protocol extended this range up to around 200 feet, though that is still impractical in certain situations.

Wi-Fi Direct, thanks to the fact that it uses the standard Wi-Fi protocol, can broadcast a strong signal between two points at a range of up to 600 feet.

Another major difference between the two types of wireless services has to do with speed. Even the Bluetooth 4.0 protocol is only capable of data transfer speeds of around 25 megabytes per second. While this will likely be more than enough for casual users, it still means that large files will take several hours to complete. Wi-Fi Direct, on the other hand, is capable at transferring data at speeds of up to 250 megabytes per second.

For many people, this will represent a data transfer rate that is several times faster than the commercial Internet connection in their home is capable of providing for them. Any device that is capable of receiving Wi-Fi signals is capable of using Wi-Fi Direct.

Stephen L

The Difference Between Apple Health, Microsoft Health and Google Fit

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It’s the information age, and more people are learning how to live healthier lives. Those seeking to improve their diet, lose weight, or just get into the habit of exercising can find help from three leaders in the information technology space: Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Each company has launched its own version of a health suite that lets users gather data about their lifestyle and find ways to improve. For app developers, these new projects present exciting opportunities to break into the health and fitness market. Read on to learn about the features and differences between these health apps.

Apple Health

Apple’s new Health app lets you view and manage your personal health and fitness information. You can input data about yourself, such as age, weight, measurements, and underlying medical conditions. All your data is encryped when your phone is locked and can be backed up to your iCloud account.

Apple Health also lets you:

  • View graphical displays of your weight, calories burned, and other information.
  • Access multiple categories such as sleep, nutrition, vital signs, and heart rate.
  • Create an emergency card with information for doctors and parademics.
  • Determine which third-party apps are allowed to access your health information.

Apple Health includes a developer toolkit, HealthKit, that allows other app designers to integrate their fitness apps with the data stored in your Apple Health dashboard. You can also easily share information with your doctor, helping streamline checkups. It helps create a more expansive network of information that keeps you focused on your goals.

Microsoft Health

Like Apple Health, Microsoft’s Health app offers cloud support and the ability to keep track of your health and fitness data. However, Microsoft’s new project uses data gathered from external devices such as smart watches, Microsoft Band, and integrated apps like MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness. When you use these devices while running or working out at the gym, data such as calories burned and heart rate are sent to Microsoft Health via the cloud. While it sounds promising, the project is still in its early stages. Microsoft claims that in time their Health app will be able to pull and analyze information from an array of sources to help you live healthier.

Google Fit

Google Fit isn’t a health app by itself, but a platform to help developers build their own apps and sports equipment companies manufacture smarter gear. It this regard, it’s similar to Apple’s HealthKit.

  • View data transmitted through sensors from integrated apps and equipment.
  • Integrate sensors and apps with Google Fit.
  • Manage current and historical data stored in Google Fit.

Google Fit has support from over a dozen multinational companies including Adidas, Asus, Intel, LG, Nike, and Strava.

Apple, Microsoft, and Google are all aiming to create a full-featured health suite that connects to other apps and health monitoring devices. Apple Health stands as the most complete app, while Microsoft’s variation is in its infant stages. Google Fit boasts the most integration of the three, and can help developers reach a huge market. Where app quality is concerned, all three projects are by no means complete, and we’ll likely see improvements in functionality and compatibility in the future.

 

Edgar L