Tag Archives: mobile

Event Report: TechWeekend Pune 7 – Mobile Application Development

TechWeekend Pune 7, on Mobile Application Development was held on Saturday, 19th Feb. These are the live-tweets, collected here for your benefit. Remember, they are live-tweets that were being typed while the event was happening, so they’re not necessarily as coherent and as well-organized as a regular article.

Windows Phone 7 by Mayur Tendulkar

The first talk was by Mayur Tendulkar talking about Windows Phone 7

  • This talk is a basic overview of Windows Phone 7. Important now, because Nokia has now thrown its weight behind it.
  • “If windows is not behaving well, you format your drive and start again. MSFT did same with its Mobile OS. Win Phone 7 is completely new”
  • Mobile phone world suffers from large number of devices of different resolutions that behave differently. This is not true of Win Mobile 7. Windows Phone 7 insists on a standardized hardware & screen configuration. So your Win Phone 7 will always look and behave the same.
    • WinPhone7 screen config: 480×800 or 320×480. No other sizes allowed. S-LCD/AMOLED capacitive touchscreen. 4-point multi-touch
    • WinPhone7 will always have these sensors: A-GPS, proximity sensor, accelerometer, compass, light.
    • All WinPhone7 devices must have these three buttons: Start, Back, Search. (As usual, to shutdown, you press Start 🙂
  • App Development for WinPhone7: regular apps using Silverlight, and game apps using XNA.
    • “Silverlight is just like Flash”. Modern app UI framework. Apparently has 500,000 developers spanning windows, web (and now mobile)
    • Visit the Tata Nano site or the Hard Rock Cafe New York site to see some cool uses of Silverlight
    • The XNA framework for game development is mature and widely accepted – because it was in XBox 360, Windows and Zune.
  • WinPhone7 developers get all the goodness of Visual Studio for developing mobile apps with Visual Studio 2010 Express for WP.
  • Other developer tools: Silverlight Dev Kit. XNA Game Studio 4.0. Expression Blend 4.0. Also VB for WinPhone7.
  • All these development tools for WinPhone7 are free.

This was followed by a walk through of building a WinPhone7 app using Visual Studio 2010 and Silverlight.

Some interesting audience Q&A:

  • Q: What languages are supported for WinPhone7 development? A: At this point, only Visual Basic and C#
  • Q: Does WinPhone7 support multi-tasking. A: No. Some standard system services can run in the background; but apps don’t multitask.

Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development by Rohit Ghatol

Next up: Rohit Ghatol talking about cross-platform mobile app development using phonegap, titanium etc.

  • Two ways of developing cross-platform apps. 1. Develop html5 apps for webkit. 2. Use a translator that translates your app to native code.
  • For now, all major mobile platforms have a webkit based browser (except WinPhone7). So writing an app targeting webkit is “cross-platform”
  • Q: Will a webkit based app work with WinPhone7? A: No. But Mango release of WinPhone7 will support html5, so you should be close.
  • Translating common codebase to different native apps – Titanium. Write in JavaScript, and translate to Native.
  • PhoneGap = HTML5 + CSS3 + JavaScript + special ability to make calls to access phone sensors etc.
    • Note: HTML5/CSS3 development for mobile apps works because all phone browsers are much more advanced on this issue than desktop browsers
    • Features supported by phonegap: accelerometer, camera, compass, contacts, file io, geolocation, audio recording, sound, vibration, storage. Note: not all these features are supported on all mobile phone platforms
    • PhoneGap prerequisites: Need to be a html/javascript expert. Also, it doesn’t help you with UI, you need to be able to develop that
    • So with PhoneGap app development, you’ll probably be doing UIs by using JQueryUI or something like that.
    • Note: PhoneGap ultimately creates a native app that users install. Not just a website that they visit in the browser.
  • At this point, Rohit, showed actual PhoneGap code for a mobile app – to write an app that shows a google map of my current location.
  • Big challenge of PhoneGap is that you need to bring your own UI development framework. This is an advantage also! – PhoneGap allows you to have same UI framework for website as well as your mobile app.
  • Rohit’s suggestions for UI framework – 1. GWT 2. jQueryMobile
  • With Titanium, you write apps in Javascript. This is interpreted by MozillaRhino on Android, and by Webkit JavascriptCore on iOS
    • You have two different directories for images – one for Android, & one for iPhone, because they handle images differently.
    • iPhone requires just one size of images. Android allows different images for different screen sizes/resolutions/orientations.
    • Titanium problem – layout is absolute. For people used to the great layout capabilities of Android, this is a big step down
    • Titanium uses native UI (iPhone and Android), where are PhoneGap uses non-native (html/css) UI. Former gives better experience…
  • PhoneGap/Titanium both use Javascript Interpretation, so both can’t do multi-threaded apps
  • Building your own webkit based cross-platform framework makes sense if you want to overcome limitations of phonegap/titanium.
  • This won’t be as clean as phonegap/titanium, but might be good for your specific case. Steal phonegap/titanium code if required!
  • Comparison of PhoneGap vs Titanium. Titanium more proprietary, limited UI, …
    html5/css3/javascript is the future; but not there yet. Until then, write to webkit specs…

Android Performance Tuning by Anand Hariharan

Next speaker was Anand Hariharan talking about Android Performance tuning.

  • For app performance: first focus on what the user wants, don’t just improve performance for the sake of improving performance. Optimize only after measuring performance, and having specific performance goals. A lot of performance tuning, is really about managing user perception. When doing something that will take time, keep user engaged.
  • Don’t optimize everything for performance – you don’t have the time. Focus on the most important user visible features and fix those. In mobile world – reduce features and use the time saved on fixing performance.
  • Manage user perception better: e.g. Apple’s use of loading a bitmap image of app at beginning to give impression that app has loaded. At app startup time, load a bitmap that looks like your app without the latest data. Gives impression that app load is fast.
  • Performance tips: All platforms have a “recommended best practices” doc. Read that – many developers dont 🙂 e.g. Android best practice: for tasks that take time, use a background service (not an activity).
  • Anand talking about how to avoid an “Application Not Responding” (ANR) dialog for your app
    • An android app is single-threaded. So don’t do io (network or disk) synchronously. Use an async mechanism.
  • Keep activities small. Don’t overload activities. Use different activities to do different things.
  • Use the minimum number of views. Do not use a deeply nested view hierarchy. Your view hierarchy shouldn’t be more than 3 levels deep. If you’re views are getting complicated, consider writing custom views.
  • Track memory allocations. Garbage collection happening during user activity causes slowdowns.
  • Close your cursors. Otherwise garbage collector cannot reclaim memory. Then you get GC cycles, and slowdowns.
  • use onRetainNonConfigurationInstance() to retain large amounts of data between device orientation changes (landscape to portrait)
  • Use SoftReferences to cache data so that the garbage collector can reclaim the memory when required.
  • Avoid database writes as far as possible. Writes take 5ms to 200ms. And full SD card has slower writes.
  • Avoid using data from mutiple tables in a single list (AdapterView). First copy data from multiple tables to a single table and show that. e.g. in Email app, subject and body came from different tables. This really slowed down the inbox view (which shows first line of body).
  • Tools to help with android app optimization: Fix your views using: hierarchyviewer, layoutopt. Check flow & times using: traceview. Use zipalign to optimize your apk (improves app load time).
  • Above all, you must understand what you’re optimizing and why. Measure, measure, measure.

TechWeekend7 (#tw7): Mobile Application Development – 19 Feb

TechWeekend 7 (#tw7) will focus on Mobile Application Development, and we have these talks lined up:

  • Application Development for Windows Phone 7 & Marketplace – by Mayur Tendulkar. With Nokia throwing all its weight behind Windows Phone 7 for all its smartphones, Windows Phone 7 has suddenly become a much more important platform than it was before. Get an overview of what Windows Phone 7 is in this talk. Mayur works on various mobile and location aware technologies at Zevenseas India. Click here for Mayur’s full background
  • Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development – by Rohit Ghatol. With the smartphone market becoming increasingly fragmented, frameworks like PhoneGap and Titanium are becoming popular as means of writing an app just once and deploying it across different mobile platforms. Rohit will talk about his experiences with using PhoneGap/Titanium, and will also touch upon how you could create your own cross-platform framework. Rohit is an associated architect for QuickOffice – the mobile office software suite. Click here for Rohit’s full background
  • Performance Tuning for Android Applications – by Anand Hariharan. Performance is a very critical factor for success of a mobile app, since cellphones are still under-powered as compared to the desktops. This talk will cover Java/Android performance tips, best practices; benchmarking and tracing tools, and what areas to look at in your app for improving performance. Anand is Director of Engineering–Product Development at the India office of Android-based tablet software maker TapNTap. Click here for Anand’s full background
  • Using HTML5/CSS3 for Mobile App development – Arnab Chakraborty. HTML5 is fast becoming an alternative to native apps for mobile app development. This talk will cover the specific features of HTML5 and of CSS3 that make it appropriate for development of mobile apps. Arnab is a senior developer at Thoughtworks. Click here for Arnab’s full profile

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here

About Techweekend

TechWeekend Pune is a volunteer run activity. TechWeekend talks are held on the 3rd Saturday of every month from 10am to 2pm at Sumant Moolgaonkar Auditorium, Ground Floor, ICC Trade Center, SB Road. Each TechWeekend event features 3 or 4 talks on advanced technical topics. These events are free for all to attend. See PuneTech articles about past techweekends to get an idea of the events.

Join the techweekend mailing list to keep in touch with the latest TechWeekend activities.

About the Sponsor – Microsoft

Many thanks to Microsoft for sponsoring the venue for Techweekend. Microsoft wants to get more closely involved with the tech community in Pune, and particularly the open source enthusiasts – with the intention of making everybody aware that their cloud technologies (like Azure) actually play well with open source, and that you can deploy your php applications, your drupal/joomla installs on Azure.

Register

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here

Pune’s Webonise launches ‘AppBazar’ – Android Marketplace and Apps Contest for India

Webonise Lab, a Pune-based startup, is creating waves in the mobile apps space. Their mobile development arm Mobinise is set to launch an India specific mobile app store for Android phone users. This Android app store called “AppBazar” will have a strong ‘Indian’ flavour – right from Bollywood Masala apps to cricket and even religious apps. And to get the process of “Indian” Android Apps kickstarted, they’ve announced an Indian Android Developer Contest – where prizes worth Rs. 1.5 lakhs are up for grabs in 10 different categories.

Mobinise sees great opportunity in developing India specific content and intends to give the users a unique mobile experience and in different vernaculars too! AppBazar is expected to hit the market by the first week of April and they plan to target tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

The company’s logic behind the India centric focus – it believes that though Indians have a penchant for anything Western, they love to tinge it with – and in fact refuse to give up – their own Desi tastes and flavours. The Tandoori Pizza and Aloo Tikki Burger are just a few examples of products that have been fine-tuned for the Indian market. Hence the rationale to ‘Indianize’ a product that has become an integral part of our daily lives – our mobile devices.

To to jumpstart the process of creating Indianized apps for AppBazar, Mobinise has started the Indian Android Developer Contest(IADC) and is inviting developers to build apps around android for the Indian user. The developer contest is targeted at students, platform enthusiasts, freelancers, and the Android application development community.

We asked Shardul Mohite, CEO of Webonise, about the response to the contest so far and he said:

“The response we’ve got is very positive. We even went to Hyderabad to meet Google and get permission to run the contest. They were supportive and excited as well. The most unexpected response we got was when CNBC TechGuru showed interest in promoting the contest actively, and they’re coming to meet us next week.”

The registration for the contest is already open, and individuals or teams interested can start registering now. From 26th Feb, contestants can start uploading their apps, and the contest will remain open until March 26, 2010. Apps shortlisted for the second round (voting) will be announced on 1st April, and the final prize winners will be announced on 22th April. Prizes are: Rs. 25000 for the grand prize winner, Rs. 15000 for the best Indian app, Rs. 10000 for the best designed app, and a Rs. 10000 prize for the best app in each of 10 categories. The different categories include entertainment (or Masala Apps), Games, Travel, Lifestyle and Health related applications. Apart from this there are also some interesting non-cash rewards.

The only eligibility criteria that they set is for the application to be Indian in nature claiming that the ‘Indian-ness’ of the app is what matters most.

There would be two rounds of judging and parameters like design, usability, innovative idea, popularity (for instance likes on Facebook, votes on the contest site) and of course the votes of jury members will together decide the winners of the contest.

Check out the rules, the full list of categories, and the about page of the contest for more information.

Event Report: “Amplify Mobility” event on Mobile Tech at Bharati Vidyapeeth

This Saturday, there was a day-long event on mobile technology organized by Amplify Mindware, a group of educational institutions housed at Bharati Vidyapeeth. This is a live-blog of three of the talks at the event; (which is unfortunately being posted with a 2-day delay because my internet connection did not work at the venue.) There were other talks which haven’t been captured either because I missed the talk (as I had to leave early), or it wasn’t interesting enough, or they were student presentations that were appropriate for the audience but not for this blog (and my own presentation on “Mobile Technology Trends” that I couldn’t blog).

Anyway, here are my notes on 3 of the talks:

Enhance Education’s talk about MyOpenCampus portal and the e-Pad tablet

Lots of people have lots of ideas on how to improve education. And most of them will not work because that’s not what the students want. Amit Sharma of Enhance Education claims that the right approach is to ask the students what they want. And his research indicates that students just want answers to their questions without having to ask the question in highly public forums.

Enhance Education’s MyOpenCampus product tries to fill this requirement. It is an educational social network and content portal that provides content specifically for your degree, your discipline, your year. Basically it is a general educational social network, but it has groups for the specific classes your taking, information about your curriculum, notes, and other study material, and groups of your classmates for interaction. The difference between a general repository of such information from the internet and this repository is that this is found and uploaded by your teacher or fellow-students and validated by the teacher. This is further supported by question & answer forums and discussion forums.

All of this is delivered to the students via the e-pad, a 7-inch resistive touchscreen Android tablet, which is smaller than a book, is always on, is always connected to the internet, and is cheap. It’s portable, can be used for accessing all the data from MyOpenCampus, all the documents, the study material, audio/video lectures, and it can also be used as an entertainment device. It will cost about Rs. 6000, and the first batch will go to Amplify Mindware students in June 2011.

Binoy Samuel from Digital Spice:

Media companies, design companies, publishing companies, gaming companies are all moving to mobile platforms from their usual medium. This is a huge market opportunity.

He gave a few examples of apps that have come through this route. One of the interesting example was of a book called “Bio-replenishment” on Bone Health, which has lots of information about the health of your bones, and what causes problems, and how it effects you. The book was expensive, at $50, and still not compelling enough for readers. They converted it to an iPad app with a lot of 3-D animations to explain the issues, and that is a much better format for this material.

In this space, there are opportunities in healthcare, animation, wildlife, e-Publishing, e-Learning, and retail design.

Anthony Hsiao from Sapna Solutions:

On why becoming a mobile developer is cool:

  • Because it is new and exciting and unknown
  • Because it is a completely new way to try and benefit the bottom of the pyramid
  • Because you can develop things and immediately try them on yourself
  • Because you can use maths and science along with computer science when developing for mobiles (e.g. accelerometer, gps, etc.)
  • Because you want to build things for users. Real users. Non-techies. Kids. And cats.

Mobile development is fast, always moving, high pressure. It’s a lot of hard work. It is not for everyone. Choose wisely.

What will be big in mobile:

  • Money transfer
  • Location based services
  • Mobile search
  • Mobile browsing
  • Mobile health monitoring
  • Mobile payment
  • Near field communication services
  • Mobile advertising
  • Mobile instant messaging
  • Mobile music

Anuj Tandon from Rolocule Games:

Quote: “I was a techie first. Then Infosys made me a donkey. Then I quit to join Rolocule and became a techie again”

Mobile Gaming is a hot area.

In Asia, mobile gaming industry will grown at 73% CAGR.

The biggest entertainment launch this year was not a movie, it was a mobile game. Consumers are willing to pay for quality mobile games ($9.99 per game). There is already good M&A activity in amongst mobile games development companies since 3 years of the launch of the Apple AppStore. e.g. Ngmoco acquired by DeNA, Tapolous acquired by Disney. Freeverse acquired by NGmoco. VCs have already made investments of over $100 in iPhone gaming related companies.

India, gaming industry is worth $7.9B in 2009 and will grow to $32B by 2014. Globally, gaming industry will grow 18%, but in India it will grow 32%.

Overview of mobile products/services startup Omni-Bridge – makers of Pune’s TraffiCop system

If you’ve been paying attention, you no doubt have seen the newspaper articles about the fact that Pune Traffic Police have been using BlackBerrys to instantly look up information about traffic offenders via the internet. This project has been done by a small Pune startup called Omni-Bridge, and a few months back, PuneTech caught up with founders Amit Shitole and Pritam Hasabnis and found that they have a story that many other tech startups will find interesting.

Like many other tech startups in Pune, Omni-Bridge is a startup that wants to really have their own products, but since that takes a lot of time and investment, they started off doing services in their area of expertise, and slowly started using the revenues from services to fund their product business. Their core expertise is in building mobile apps (mainly BlackBerry, and Symbian, but now branching into Android and iPhone too) for their customers (which are other product companies). They are now building their own mobile apps to market and sell using AppStores/marketplaces.

About Trafficop

This is a product developed by Omni-Bridge Systems which essentially involves digitization of vehicle & license holder’s data, traffic police records and putting them on a server so that it’s accessible from internet, and then building a BlackBerry app that can access the server from anywhere. The idea is that each officer will carry a BlackBerry with him/her and when booking someone for a traffic violation uses the BlackBerry it to instantly look up the records to see if the offender has committed any traffic violations in the past.

Usually, when I see newspaper reports that giddily announce the use of some fancy technology by some government body in India, I am very sceptical. My general impression is that these are usually projects that somebody is using to get visibility or to appear cool, but when you really check, you’ll find that nobody is really using the system.

Due to this scepticism, I approached a few traffic constables and officers (at different times and places) and asked them about Trafficop system. I was surprised (and happy) to find out that:

  • The system is actually being used on a day-to-day basis,
  • The rank-and-file are actually happy with the system, and even impressed with it,
  • The system has been useful in actually catching criminals – once constable told me about how a routine traffic violation stop resulted in them finding out that the vehicle was wanted in connection with a robbery from a few years ago.

Everything hasn’t gone according to plan. Not enough BlackBerrys were procured to give one to every officer, but that hasn’t stopped them from using the system. Those who don’t have BlackBerrys still go and enter all the information into the system at the end of the day when they get to the office.

How to approach a government body as a customer

I asked Omni-Bridge whether it was easy or difficult to deal with the traffic police department, and how did they even approach them. There I found another interesting story that would be instructive to Pune Start-ups.

Omni-Bridge did not approach the Traffic Police directly. Instead they first went to the Science and Technology Park (STP). STP is a central government body, housed in University of Pune, whose mission is to help out science and technology start-ups that can help India in some way. (We will write a more detailed article about STP, hopefully sometime soon.)

So, STP helped Omni-Bridge approach Pune Traffic Police. And one of the advantages of working with STP is that since STP is a government body, other government bodies trust it more than if a start-up were to directly approach them. In this respect, Omni-Bridge found their relationship with STP very helpful.

As for actually working with the traffic police department, they found that the officials there were quite helpful, and worked with them to define and fine-tune the product. Specifically, they found, DCP Manoj Patil and PI Surendranath Deshmukh to be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the whole process.

I think the takeaway message for Pune start-ups is that they shouldn’t shy away from considering government bodies as customers, and they should approach the STP for help.

Right now Trafficop is being used in Pune, and a subset of their software is being used in Bangalore. After the success of the Pune program, Omni-Bridge hopes to be able to convince a bunch of other cities to go for it.

About balancing services and products

Many start-ups have the idea of using services to bootstrap their product businesses, and I have not seen too many successful examples of that model. Persistent, which did have hopes of doing this has not managed to pull this off so far. GSLab, after 5 years of doing services, is now in the market with their own product kPoint – whether they’ll succeed remains to be seen. The biggest success in ootstrapping a product company through a services company in Pune is one that most Punekars don’t really know about – Kenati. Kenati was founded as a network software services company about 10 years ago and after 2/3 years of doing that they switched over to their own products (in the home networking space). Kenati was acquired by 2Wire a couple of years back.

So, coming back to the point, I wondered how has Omni-Bridge’s experience been in this regard? Last year Omni-Bridge reached a stage where their services business could fund their own products, and they do have a few products (mobile apps) in addition to Trafficop. I asked MD Amit Shitole what advice he would give to other start-ups who are planning on doing this and he said that his biggest learning was that the most important aspect that needs to be managed is the cash-flow. The founders need to sit and very carefully figure out how much cash is needed on a month-to-month basis to keep the product business running, and then to figure out where that money is going to come from – on a regular, sustainable basis. The product business cannot really be put on a “pause” once it is started, and becomes a permanent cash-flow sink, so this calculation needs to be tackled upfront.

Co-founders Amit Shitole and Pritam Hasabnis, have indicated that they would be happy to provide guidance to early-stage first-time entrepreneurs who find themselves in a situation similar to what Omni-Bridge was in. You can get in touch with them via their website.

Event Report: IndicThreads Conference on Mobile Application Development

(This is an event update about the IndicThreads Conference on Mobile Application Development that was held in Pune last week. We already published one article related to a couple of the the talks at that conference. This article, a more comprehensive update, was posted by Atul Nene on his blog, and is re-published here with permission.)

The good folks at IndicThreadsHarshad Oak and Sangeeta Oak, organized the IndicMobile conference. The venue and arrangements were very good and the set of speakers top notch. The choice of topics was varied enough to be comprehensive and yet very relevant and amenable for deep enough dives. Overall, a great interaction and learning opportunity that I and my colleagues enjoyed. I also enjoyed live tweeting along with SaurabhPuneLiveMukundVishvesh. Here are my notes from the conference. They are longish, but then it was a two day affair, and I have tried to be brief.

Anand Deshpande, Persistent, Keynote Address
As expected, there was deeply thought out articulation from Anand on the future of the software space. Mobile + cloud is ‘it’, he said. Economic sense is driving everything on the cloud and that, combined with the all pervasive mobile technology will rewrite the software world, as we develop and use it today. He referred to the Harvard Business Review C.K. Pralhad and R. A. Mashelkar paper and pondered that more will be made available for less, for the many – elucidiating Gandhian principles. He made a core point about the data being separated from the App.

I like Anand’s ‘cows and milk’ analogy: focus on milk, why care about tending cows ? Applied to software, focus on developing and using software (App), not building the cloud. But – to take the analogy further – what control one has on chemically adulterated milk ? Its very difficult to even identify that. And, what about reliability and security and so on on the cloud ? Or is there a business case for the ‘organic software experience’ ? We as software product developers will have to figure it all out.

Rohit Nayak, Cross-platform mobile development: choices and limitations
Nice coverage of cross platform mobile development tools. I didnt know there was no garbage collector on the iPhone while there was one on the desktop. Titanium can be used for building cross compiled native apps on various platforms. It also has a good reference application that can be used to test all kinds of interfaces of the device you are building for, as well as sample code ready to be used. MoSync and PhoneGap were also covered. All three were demoed. He warned that tools can be out of step with device styles and new devices. He also suggested that a mobile web app could be the route of choice for maximum platform coverage. I noticed mere mention of MeeGo, but after all, its too new as of this writing. [See MeeGo related previous post on this blog.

Romin Irani, Mobile Web Applications using HTML5
Romin went over the new stuff in HTML5 – semantic elements, forms, audio video embedding, location, and so on. He pointed out that ‘native app like’ experience was possibly via use of local storage, graphic functions and media support. Is it possible that webkit advances render native app development obsolete ? After all, lot of commonly used JavaScript functionality were being included in HTML5. He mentioned that HTML5 would reach ‘recommended’ status by 2022! I’m sure, Holy Photons will guide us there through the paradigm shifts of 2012 et al. 🙂 I believed that an HTML app won’t give a native experience on the device but much to my delight, he demoed HTML5 features in a cool looking app with really nice look and feel. An engaging session with great examples of varied browser support.

Hemanth Sharma, Adobe Flash Platform for Mobile Development
Hemanth covered the various Adobe tools. Interestingly, none of the attendees present had developed for the platform so far. He pointed out that while designing for multiple screens, especially small, knowing the screen resolution was not enough and that the physical dimensions, the orientation and pixels-per-inch (PPI) were crucial. Amongst many other things, he mentioned DeviceCentral as a useful tool to test for devices that support flash. While iOS does not support flash, its cool that Adobe has ActionSript3 cross-compilation for iOS – it generates a native iOS application. He demoed real fast development of an app that gets twitter trending topics. His live demo broke by a whisker – must have kicked himself, mentally – he then showed us previously built code. Still cool. I would have loved stats (performance and so on) comparing native apps with similar functionality. All-in-all, a compelling write-once-run-anywhere-on-air story by this Adobe evangelist. Need to seriously evaluate the platform.

Balagopal K S, Deep dive into Application development for Nokia Technology Platforms
Bala had the difficult task of keeping us awake after lunch. He spoke all about the various platforms one can develop for, for Nokia devices, including the Symbian, Maemo and MeeGo. And of course all about Qt. I wasn’t expecting a Nokia representative to pronounce Qt as ‘quetee’. Everyone knows its ‘cute’, pun not intentionally intended 🙂 He revealed that 83% of users downloaded apps rated 4 and 5 (of 5). Shows how crucial it is, to build a high quality app that includes a great user experience. He advised to design for the user, not the technology, and consider the emotional engagement of the user with your app. And some more tidbits and tools and resources. Given that Qt is the development platform of choice on MeeGo, and a lot of Qt development is done in Python, I wonder why C++ is the language of choice for Qt/Meego. Its like going retro, no?

Pradeep Rao and Dilip Sridhar, BlackBerry Development Platform
BlackBerry just released the Torch and that has the BB6 platform. They have tieups with advertisers and an API that developoers can use in their apps. RIM does 60% revenue share with the app developers. BB SuperApps are native apps that are always on and connected, proactive and notification driven, highly contextualised, designed for efficiency in terms of network usage, battery life and so on. The Theme Studio and Theme Builder lets you make themes easily. The Playbook is coming. This platform is one to watch out for. Lately, BlackBerry devices have started delighting more and more number of users, notwithstanding their funny ads, and they have a powerful development platform plus increasing marketshare to entice developers.

Navin Kabra, Understanding the Touch Interface
Have you noticed how, the moment you start discussing something related to design, that hovers closer to art and makes the audience remember their most delightful and very frustrating moments with technology, everyone just tunes up their attention to the level of communion. Holy Photons ! This is exactly what happened in Navin’s session. He declared: “Touch will take over the world”. He made many excellent points, one being that using a mouse is a learned skill while touch comes naturally and that every app developer irrespective of whether he will develop for the mobile platform or not, will need to care about touch, simply because touch based devices will be the most commonly used devices going forward.

Also, a piece of text that is large enough for you to read is not necessarily large enough to touch – you will know this if you browse the web on your touch phone. Touch can be so easy that our spinal cord should be enough to do processing and give our brain some rest – everyone could do with that, I suppose. He showed a very interesting design of a touch keypad that can be used singlehandedly to browse the web because it has most of the frequently used functions on convenience buttons. He also touched upon – pun intended – the problems with touch, user perception of what is good and bad response time, caution of not overdoing it and perhaps most importantly, that developers wanting to design for touch must use a touch only device for a sufficient period of time !

I really liked the mindmap style (including the navigation) for the presentation. Made a mental note to make one this way at the next oppurtunity. Abhinav (an attendee) made an excellent point about designing in such a way that, with all the touch he can get, the user is still able to efficiently ‘blind type’, assuming he also has a physical on-device keyboard at his disposal – touch and type should not go out of sync. Really interactive and great talk on how to design for touch. And some informative follow-on interactions around stylus vs. fingers, resistive and capacitive touches, and handwriting recognition, the Palm (now Access) Graffiti et. al.

I personally feel there is huge potential for handwriting recognition or at least the Graffiti on the mobile platform – too many potential users who know native, local languages are currently ignored and can be empowered to communicate for low costs, in ways that come naturally to them.

Venkata Ratnam V, Introduction to bada platform & Samsung’s multi-platform strategy
Venkata explained Samsungs dual strategy with Bada (means the ocean, and does not have roots in the Hindi ‘baDaa’ i.e. big, as someone said to me) being for the low end devices while the other mobile OSes that they sell devices with, are for the high end devices. Looks like a large set of attendees were Android lovers and didn’t buy the Bada story but Venkata said ‘Dont grudge us our own mobile OS’. Its difficult to argue with that! He also made a wonderful observation: Customer (end users) expectations are very, very high. They want features on the phone that they may not use, but if the device doesn’t have them, they feel its handicapped.

One can develop for Bada with the combination of C++ and Eclipse, plus a web toolkit. There is also a memory leak checker bundled along with the developer toolset. As others, Samsung has a lot of other pieces of the mobile puzzle being put together in their own way. ‘In-App Purchase’ – is this new ubercool feature being bandied about. IIRC, Apple, Nokia, Samsung have it, others will want to catchup. Venkat also made a great point about user psychology – it’s easier to have an app in the store that is installed by the user and which then stays on the device and tends to be used more. This app can then of course use the web as needed. But its very difficult to have the user point his browser to a website from his device. Point to be taken ! Good session by this evangelist: funny slides, cheerful demeanour, solid defence.

Vikram Pendse V, Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Platform
Vikram Pendse’s overview of Win Phone 7 platform, architecture, development tools, demos and quirks was nice. He did a good job of explaining the Microsoft perspective for WP7. MS wants a consistent hardware strategy across vendors: ARMv7 Cortex/Scorpion or better, and decent combination of GPU, memory, display, capacitive touch, and sensors (GPS, accelerometer, proximity). There will be 3 buttons – Start, Search, Back. For developers, there is .NET compact framework and Silverlight. The OS supports ‘prioritised’ (not concurrent) multitasking of Apps. Libraries include cloud integration for Azure. He demoed apps to showcase various capabilities – graphics, app bar, music, UI navigation. As also a profiler. And pretty pictures of devices: Dell Venu Pro, HTC HD7, HTC Surround, LG Quantum, Samsung Focus. And some game screens.

MS story looks sketchy at best, and we tweeters had fun ! So WP7 won’t copy and paste. Surprised ? You shouldn’t. Remember C&P has moved to the iPhone last year?! There is no migration plan for apps written for WinCE 5/6. You gotta rewrite, in a different language! Romin noted: what Android calls “Intents” …. Microsoft calls “Launchers and Choosers”. Saurabh noted that WP7 is a fancy looking toy, but only for end user, developers will have to wait for more support and perfection. I agree – the UI looks really cool for end usage. Vishwesh: MS was dead after WM6.5 and now, with limited support for everything on WP7, they are … a zombie? The marketplace seems to be the weakest (non-existent yet ?) link. Too many restrictions imposed by the OS. The audience was wondering if all MS wanted to sell was under-USD-30 devices! Good fun 🙂

Rohit Ghatol, Getting Started With Android Application Development
Rohit began well. He gave some background on the platform, showed a list of devices in the market and asked: Do I really have to sell Android? The audience didn’t think so anyway. He also was the first person to do a live device demo in the conference. He covered stuff efficiently – Building Blocks of Android (Activity, Service, Content Provider, Broadcast Receiver, Notification Mgr, Alarm Mgr), the Dalvik VM, the DEXs and the APKs. He was swift through building an App and covered lot of details in short time. Froyo (API v8) brings the much needed enterprise security features to Android, while GingerBread and Honeycomb come later to focus on tablet features.Developer.Android.Com is a very well documented site and a great resource to learn at. We also discussed some could-be-better stuff – one is tablet support, another is that Android market does not provide flexible payment options, sometimes you can make more money by making the app free and include Google ads! Rohit had a nice conversational style, good use cases, employed simple stepping through the development process on a well done deck.

UnConference
I liked this flexible approach. The audience identified pertinent topics for an open discussion and we had scintillating set of discussions on 4 topics. Difficult to capture all learning and speakers, but I hope I’ve got the gist.

Abhinav, Mobile Virtualization: Can we run multiple logical phones on one physical phone ? There are multiple applications. 3 years ago, you ran your PC at 1GHz, today you run your handset at that speed. In terms of device capability, virtualization seems plausible. Clouds will only separate the data from the device. What if you want to use your corporate mobile and your personal mobile on the same physical handset, for convenience ?

Saurabh, OpenGL: Useful for graphics and game development. Optimal use of hardware resources. Common library across platforms, however, support varies across platform. Simple games like ‘Bejeweled’ are being used more over serious games that need a console, simply because they are more available, like while waiting for the doctors appointment.

Vishwesh, Apps for the Indian Market: Firstly, is there an Indian Market? Consumers have to use apps developed for the western market. Where’s the Indian Content ? Pricing is a challenge. Prices are converted from USD to Rupees, needs to be thought differently. Rural market, huge but not addressed. Difficult to monetise. We don’t even SMS in local language yet. Amar Chitra Katha – available on one provider when it needs to be ubiquitious. Cash-On-Delivery is the preferred payment option for Indian Consumers, and this needs to be used for selling Apps. Microfinance has the potential to be in top-ten-app charts, but there aren’t any apps! And then there are too many platforms! Mobile Apps should connect to the physical, real world of the End User. It’s only then that they will be used

Dr.Lavania, Tele-Health: What is the best way to reach 24×7 touch and feel health services to rural areas, given that mobility is the only ubiquitious technology in villages! Apps that degrade from smart to dumb phones are needed. What low cost solution can we have for villages that are ‘over the horizon’ of connectivity?

Anand Hariharan, Performance in Android: Tips and Techniques
“Good Design is the practice of Subtraction” – Mark Anderson from the Good Design blog. Anand suggested we keep performance in mind right when you are desiging the App. Design, Measure, Identify, Improve : thats the mantra he gave us for performance extraction on mobile platforms. Speed, responsiveness, robustness, good behaviour (wrt battery usage and working well with other Apps) – all these done together make an App with good performance. Intensive CPU/battery usage, UI freeze (jankiness), long periods of percieved inactivity, actions that are not cancellable – any of these make an App bad, and it runs the risk of uninstallation from the users device! Apps should be designed to work well over varying net speeds. Recommended practices and style guides of respective platforms are important also for performance aspects. Like on the iPhone, its a good idea to show the image of your App, during startup, while the App loads – this improves user perception on response time. Android has a useful guide called Designing for Performance

Anand had specific advice – dos, donts – for Android apps in particular and Java apps in general. Do lookup his presentation on the conference site, it has a lot of depth and coverage – a handy reference for all developers, I’d say. Fluent talk, and I thought, Holy Photons – worth emulating!

Romin Irani, Power Your Mobile Applications On The Cloud
Romin has written a book on Google App Engine and you can download it for free. GAE is feature rich and free, has enough resources for trying out apps. He did a quick run through basics, and did a live demo – write, test, deploy! Simple, klaar, not cloudy at all. 🙂 You can code in Python or Java. Cloud in general and GAE in particular has great potential for mobile space. You could have the same cloud app serve multiple phone apps or even multiple kinds of clients (thick, thin, remote, local, and so on …). Romin mentioned a handy resource for information on about 15,000+ devices ! Checkout WURFL.

All presentations uploaded to the conference page as the talks got over. Pleasant green behaviour on part of organizers – free saplings were on offer for those who care. See the Press Report in DNA. An intense and thoroughly enjoyable conference with a lot of take-aways for me. Hope you have enjoyed reading about it.

About the Author – Atul Nene

Atul has a Masters in Computer Science from the University of Pune. His areas of interest are Technology in general and Software in particular. He studies Indian classical music, is a nature lover. He builds embedded products and Mobile Applications for the iPhone, Android, Symbian and BlackBerry platforms. Atul was 2008 Employee-of-the-Year at his workplace, and recipient of “Project Management Excellence Award” (for his team) by PMI, Pune Chapter.

Startup Saturday Pune “Mobile Startups”

Pune has a burgeoning number of mobile application developer
community. Some of them have been caught the eye of the top people in
the industry in India and abroad. The 13th Nov. 2010 edition of
Startup Saturday Pune is focused on celebrating their success.

3:00 – 3:15 Over view by Jignesh Jain (www.xercestechnologies.com)
3:15 – 3:30 Samir Khadepaun (www.mobikontech.com)
3:30 – 3:45 Sachin Murgunde (www.savvyinfocenter.com)
3:45 – 4:00 Sagar Bedmutha (www.optinno.com)
4:00 – 4:15 Shardul Mohite (www.weboniselab.com)
4:15 – 4:30 Surojit Nandy (www.incucapital.com)
4:30 – 5:00 Samir Patel from iPIN (world’s first open scalable mobile
payments platform)
5:00 onwards … Networking

Please register and Mark your calendars for:

Date: 13th Nov. 2010, 3:00 – 6:00 pm. See you at:
Venue: Centre for Management Research & Development (CMRD), Near
Patrakar Nagar, Off Senapati Bapat Road, Map

For more information, contact Arpit (99207 20764) or Vishwa (9766-243-789)

This event is free for all to attend. Register at:
http://startupsaturday.headstart.in/event.php?eid=68

Call for speakers for two conferences: Mobile Tech (Nov ’10) and Java (Dec ’10)

Pune’s IndicThreads, which organizes a number of tech conferences in Pune, put out a call for speakers for its next two conferences – their flagship Java conference, whose 5th edition will be held in December 2010, and a new conference on mobile technologies, whose first edition will be in November 2010. The call for speakers for both conferences is still open (until 31st August) and represents a good opportunity for techies in Pune to get visibility for their work, and a chance for networking with like-minded people without having to pay the hefty conference fees.

Why bother? Here are the reasons:

IndicThreads Logo
IndicThreads organizes a numbers of good conferences in Pune every year. The call for speakers is a good opportunity for techies to highlight their achievements, get some visibility, and networking. The call for speakers is open until 31 August. Click on the logo for more PuneTech articles about IndicThreads

IndicThreads organizes good conferences. To get an idea of the quality of the conference, see Dhananjay Nene‘s report of last year’s Java conference, where he writes:

The annual indicthreads.com java technology conference is Pune’s best and possibly one of India’s finest conferences on matters related to Java technologies. I looked forward to attending the same and was not disappointed a bit.

He has written a fairly detailed post, including overviews of the sessions he attended, which is worth reading.

Here is a PuneTech article about the IndicThreads Java conference 2 years ago.

Earlier this month, IndicThreads had the first edition of their new conference on upcoming technologies, this one being focused on cloud computing. You can see PuneTech’s coverage (also see this article), the report by Janakiram, a senior technical architect at Microsoft, and this one by Arun Gupta, a technical evangelist at Sun (aka Oracle). That should give you an idea of the kinds of talks that go into IndicThreads’ conferences.

Here are some other reasons I had given earlier as to why you should apply for a speaker spot. The reasons are still valid today, so I’ll simply cut-n-paste here:

  • If you’re accepted as a speaker, you get a free pass to the conference.
  • Become famous: being a speaker at a national conference is good for visibility, and all engineers should strive for visibility. It’s very important. Almost as important as being a good programmer. (Maybe more?)
  • Help out a good Pune initiative. More submissions will improve the quality of the conference, and having a high quality conference in Pune improves the overall stature of Pune as an emerging IT powerhouse.

And finally, I also said this:

I’m willing to bet that many people reading this will think – but I am not an expert. Not true. If you’ve spend a couple of years working on some specific aspect of testing, chances are that you’ve acquired expertise that you can present and add value to the understanding of others. You don’t have to have done groundbreaking research. Have you adopted a new tool that came out recently? Talk about it, because others will not have experience with its use. Have you used an old tool in a new way? Definitely submit a proposal. The others in this field would love to hear of this new wine in an old bottle.

To submit a proposal to the Mobile conference click here and to submit a proposal for the java conference, click here. You have 5 days.

(Disclaimer: In the past, a couple of times, PuneTech has received a complimentary pass from IndicThreads (sort of a “press pass”) for attending their conferences. There are no strings attached to this – and we try to be objective in our coverage of the conference. As per PuneTech policy, we don’t promote the actual conference on the PuneTech blog, since it’s a paid event, but we do promote the call for speakers, since that’s free, and we do reporting of the event itself whenever possible, since a significant fraction of it ends up highlighting technology work being done in Pune.)

Startup Saturday Pune: Mobile & VAS – 9th Jan

What: Startup Saturday Pune featuring Pune’s mobile startups pitching to a Panel of Experts
When: Saturday, 9th January, 3pm-5:30pm
Where: Pravara Centre for Management Research & Development, Off Senapati Bapat Road, Near Patrakar Nagar
Registration and Fees: This event is free for all to attend. Register here.

Details

Click on the logo to see all PuneTech posts about Startup Saturday
Click on the logo to see all PuneTech posts about Startup Saturday

Startup Saturday Pune 3 is dedicated to Mobile vas and apps. We have selected companies building products for the mobile space, sms, value added services, voice recognition, apps for iphone and android.

The startups that are presenting are

  1. Mobikon Technologies (Samir Khadepaun)
  2. SMSONE (Ravi Ghate)

And we are discussing with a few interesting startups in the same
space. Nominations and suggestions are welcome.

These startups will make 5 minute lightening pitches followed by questions, suggestions, feedback, ideas and encouragement from our expert panel. Our panel of experts will include people from telecom, mobile handset companies, investors, IT companies, media and marketing experts. As said earlier, nominations, suggestions are welcome.

Send your nominations, suggestions, feedback to sandeep@actonbiotech.com. +91 98900 42670.

PuneGTUG: Android Jumpstart Seminar – Nov 21

What: Pune Google Technology Users Group (Pune GTUG) presents a jumpstart seminar on Android
When: Saturday, Nov 21, 10am to 1pm
Where: Orbett Hotel, 123/2 Apte Road (Opposite Shreyas Hotel), Deccan Gymkhana, Map.
Registration and Fees: The event is free for all, no registration required.

Pune Google Technologies User Group GTUG logo
Click on the logo to find all punetech articles about the Pune GTUG

Details

Pune GTUG presents Android Jumpstart Seminar. A seminar where we would get people excited, thrilled and ready on Android Platform.

The objectives of this seminar are as follows: introduce Android, introduce the building blocks and architecture, talk on building an Application on Android comprising of all the building blocks.

Lucky draw winner wins an HTC phone from the sponsors of this event Quick Office and Synerzip Softech.