Tag Archives: mobile development

  • Should Mobile Devs Focus Only on iOS?

    Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 10.55.11 AM

    Financial-news websites are aflutter this week over news that Apple has seized 92 percent of the mobile-device industry’s total operating income; that’s up from 65 percent in 2014. According to financial-services firm Canaccord Genuity, which generated the data, Samsung and Apple pretty much divide the entirety of the mobile world’s profits between them.

    Those estimates are great for Apple, but what does it mean for the mobile developers and app builders out there? First, Apple clearly has quite a bit of momentum behind it; if anyone ever doubted the long-term viability of iOS, numbers like these should settle that issue once and for all.

    Check out the latest iOS-developer jobs.

    Second, the overall picture for third-party operating systems—including Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS—is bleaker than ever; manufacturers won’t build what isn’t profitable, and clearly iOS and Android are the only platforms at the moment capable of generating significant amounts of cash. Any developers who devoted time to building Windows Phone and BlackBerry apps will likely need to think very hard about whether they want to continue iterating on those products.

    But third, Apple and iOS haven’t outright won the mobile-device wars. Although it swept up the vast majority of the profits, Apple sold less than 20 percent of the actual smartphones on the market. Even if most manufacturers aren’t making very much money off Android, there are millions of people using the OS, which means a massive market for app-builders. The idea of building apps for both iOS and Android remains a powerful one for many developers.

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  • For Mobile Apps, 2014 Was a Very Good Year

    App Annie Screenshot 1

    App Annie has posted a helpful retrospective of the mobile-app ecosystem in 2014, and some of the data points are interesting.

    For starters, Google Play outpaced Apple’s App Store in terms of total downloads, although Apple remained well ahead with regard to total revenue generated by mobile apps.

    Check out the latest app-developer jobs.

    Second, multiple categories of apps enjoyed explosive growth, with messaging apps (WhatsApp, etc.), mobile video, travel and transportation apps leading that charge. “Super casual gaming,” as defined by games such as Flappy Bird (remember that one?), also had a superb year, with one or more apps in that category ending up in the top 10 downloads for both Apple’s App Store and Google Play for 10 months last year.

    For social networking, photo and video apps, user demographics skewed more female, while gaming remained slightly more male:

    App Annie Screenshot 2

    Worldwide, the top apps of 2014 on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play included Facebook Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp Messenger, Instagram, and Skype; top games included Candy Crush Saga, Subway Surfers, My Talking Tom, Farm Heroes Saga, and Clash of Clans.

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    Images: App Annie

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  • Why App Developers Need to Understand HIPAA

    The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is complicated, and comes with hefty penalties for violations. As developers build more and more apps that leverage users’ personal and health data, they need to understand how this law works.

    Apple Health AppHIPAA protects personal health data during transactions between entities such as insurance companies, hospitals and doctors. It was amended last year to require those covered entities to also vouch for the privacy and security practices of their business associates: companies that also handle their healthcare data, such as billing subcontractors, data analysts, vendors, and, yes, mobile app developers.

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    The Office for Civil Rights, which enforces HIPAA compliance within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been levying hefty fines for HIPAA violations: nine settlements since June 2013 have totaled more than $10 million. And an HHS attorney has recently said those high-profile cases will “pale in comparison” to the fines coming in the next year.

    So healthcare organizations are pretty leery of exposing themselves to risk from startup partners who don’t take privacy and security seriously.

    HIPAA’s one-size-fits-all approach, however, is one of app developers’ biggest frustrations, according to Chas Ballew, co-founder of Aptible, a private-cloud deployment platform to automate HIPAA compliance for developers. “It’s designed for the smallest doctor’s office all the way up to the biggest insurance companies,” he said. “So for one regulation to cover all of them, it needs to be flexible and scalable. And HHS has done that. But it’s also ambiguous; it can be confusing. The guidance, especially for technical implementation, is non-existent.”

    That has ACT | The App Association, which represents more than 5,000 mobile app companies, pressing for updated HIPAA guidance. It notes that HHS last updated its HIPAA document “Remote Use” in 2006, while the first iPhone came out in 2007.

    But the regulation isn’t necessarily focused on the type of personal information collected by your smartphone, smartwatch, or other mobile device. “You personally can, every day, check your blood pressure, check your own glucose—you can do all sorts of things with your medical data, but if you’re not giving it to a covered entity, this is not about HIPAA,” said Morgan Reed, executive director of The App Association.

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    There’s a difference between data on a device that a doctor sends home with you to help him better monitor your health and data that you, as a consumer, input into an app you’ve downloaded from the Internet and then offer to share with your doctor, explained Deven McGraw, a partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and longtime member of the Health IT Policy Committee within HHS: “It’s really about who’s in control of the data on that device, on whose behalf is the device operating?”

    If the consumer device sends data into the doctor’s electronic medical record system, the information is covered by HIPAA; if the data stays on the consumer’s watch or phone, it’s not. In most cases, data used with the Apple Watch or other consumer products will not be covered by HIPAA, McGraw added.

    Or as Reed put it: “If all you’re doing is taking data from somebody’s scale and combining it with how many steps they walked and a calorie tracker, that doesn’t need HIPAA, there’s no covered entity involved.”

    At the same time, however, other consumer-privacy regulations covering the data might apply.

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    Image: Apple

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  • Amazon Offers Developers Better Cross-Platform Tools

    Amazon wants integration with its services to be easy for developers and consumers alike, so it’s enticing developers to create better cross-platform experiences by opening GameCircle, Whispersync, Analytics and in-app purchasing to new platforms. So now developers can take advantage of Amazon services on mobile ( Android , iOS ) and desktop apps ( Mac , Windows ). iOS is limited to GameCircle, Whispersync and Analytics. The hoped-for result: Developers have a stable back-end platform while Amazon consumers get a frictionless buying process. Extending Amazon’s application services beyond Android satisfies consumer desire to save game data across devices. Developers can utilize the GameCircle API on all device types. (iOS has offered game status and leader boards ( Game Center ) on its devices for ages. Google introduced a similar cloud-based service called Cloud Save last year.) Cross-Platform Gaming Amazon’s cross-platform gaming solution is accomplished with the Unity game engine and a set of plugins for connecting to the GameCircle and in-app payments API. Unity is an integrated game engine for creating feature-rich interactive content. It provides a toolset for creating interactive worlds with texture, lighting, special effects, physics and more. It offers out-of-the-box functionality for quick deployment. It also offers a marketplace of pre-fabricated game assets that can be customized. Game developers offering multiple game versions (e.g. Android, iOS and desktop) can connect them to a single leaderboard and save scores across devices with Whispersync. GameCircle can track scores and leaderboard activity across multiple versions across multiple platforms. GameCircle was designed as a complement to Apple Game Center rather than a replacement, and can seamlessly cross-post game play status to Game Center. Whispersync handles syncing, offline and simultaneous play. Unlike other back-end data management services for games, Whispersync is free. Both GameCircle and Whispersync are included in the Amazon SDK. Analytics Currently in beta, Amazon Analytics is available for desktop and mobile apps. Reporting includes information about users and devices beyond downloads and total revenue. Detailed reports show how long users are engaged with your app and how often it’s accessed. Purchase events are tracked to help you better understand in-app purchasing behavior and determine the best method for enticing users to buy. The Analytics service is being offered free. Amazon’s developer program appears to be a major revenue driver for Kindle. In terms of content — not hardware — the Kindle is known to be a major source of Amazon’s sales. Here again, the company has built out a full suite of free tools and back-end services to support applications across platforms. Like Google and Apple , Amazon offers a 70 percent revenue split per paid download. Advertising dollars and in-app purchases are paid out separately. Amazon’s developer program is free to join. Listing and selling apps is also free. Although GameCircle, Whispersync and Analytics are available for iOS apps, iTunes remains the exclusive distributor of iOS software. But with so many services offered free, it’s difficult to ignore the Amazon digital marketplace for mobile apps. The post Amazon Offers Developers Better Cross-Platform Tools appeared first on Dice News .