Google launches certification program to recognize app development agencies

As we reported on the eve of I/O, Google has launched a certification program to recognize development agencies that have demonstrated great competence in building apps and services. Any developer can sign up for the Agency Program and get access to dedicated training and the latest products and APIs, but the certification provides an extra step of recognition.

The Google Developers Agency Program was announced last year to help software development agencies that work with Google products. It is not limited to just firms that work on Android apps. These agencies are important to the global app ecosystem, designing and publishing dozens of the top apps every year. Many are located around the world and employ many talented developers

Apple announces app development accelerator in Bengaluru to start Tim Cook's India visit

As part of Apple CEO Time Cook's first visit to India, the company has announced that it will open a new iOS app design and development accelerator in India's Silicon Valley Bengaluru by early 2017. 

The new centre is a major step towards Apple's attempt to expands its share in the world's fastest-growing smartphone market. The new centre will attract and encourage the country's developers to make apps for iOS.  

“India is home to one of the most vibrant and entrepreneurial iOS development communities in the world,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With the opening of this new facility in Bengaluru, we’re giving developers access to tools which will help them create innovative apps for customers around the world.”

The centre will provide support to Indian developers in the form of weekly briefings by Apple experts and one-on-one app reviews. It will also offer guidance on Swift, Apple's programming language for developing apps for iOS, Apple TV, Mac OS and Apple Watch. Earlier this year Apple had announced an iOS app development centre in Naples, Italy.

During his maiden visit, Cook is also expected to focus on increasing Apple's revenues from India, after the company posted its first-ever decline in global iPhone sales in the last quarter. With slowing demand in the West and even China, India had acquired greater importance for the technology giant. While Apple has recorded brisk iPhone sales in the last year,  it still has only a 2% share in the country's price-sensitive smartphone market.

Open source framework enables native mobile app development

Although HTML5 has allowed apps to work across platforms, there's still demand for companies to develop native apps for the major mobile platforms.

Progress Software is launching the latest version of NativeScript, an open source framework on the Telerik platform, enabling developers to use JavaScript to build native mobile apps running on the major mobile systems.

With the release of NativeScript 2.0, developers using Google's Angular 2 JavaScript framework can now write native mobile applications for iOS and Android. They can reuse existing skills and code from the web and achieving time and cost-efficiencies.

"Angular integration first shipped with our popular Kendo UI library nearly two years ago, and we continue to see high demand for Angular from our community," says Todd Anglin, chief evangelist and VP technology at Progress. "For the more than one million developers using the Angular framework to write interactive web applications, the NativeScript 2.0 framework represents a giant leap forward -- they can finally create zero-compromise mobile apps with Angular featuring truly native UI and performance".

Swapping shifts with Shyft mobile app

The Seattle startup tries to lift a burden a lot of workers carry these days: swapping shifts. Its mobile app is intended to replace more cumbersome methods.

What: Shyft, a Seattle startup that has created a mobile app aiming to make it easier for workers to swap shifts.

 Who: Co-founders Brett Patrontasch, Daniel Chen, Chris Pitchford, and Kyle Liu. Patrontasch is chief executive, Chen is chief technology officer, Pitchford is director of growth, and Liu is lead mobile developer.

Birth of an idea:Patrontasch had founded another company, Scholars at Your Service, which employs student painters. He saw the difficulties the student painters had trying to coordinate their schedules.


Shift swapping: Currently, shift workers typically swap shifts using a variety of methods, including text messaging each other, posting on a group Facebook page or calling each other. Shyft aims to simplify that.



DHS releases government guide for mobile app development

The Department of Homeland Security released its Mobile Applications Playbook Monday, giving federal agencies a roadmap for creating, testing and deploying apps that will be shared across the government.

The 39-page guide can be used anywhere along an application’s development lifecycle, giving development teams a path forward when they are stuck on an issue related to an application’s progress.

The playbook leans on the agency’s “car wash” process, a continuous cycle that allows teams to build, manage and test source code that has caught on across the government.

Development teams can weigh whether their application would be better on mobile web versus a native app, the difference in user experience between a smartphone and a laptop, what programming language to use, what security and compliance metrics need to be accounted for, and how to test for software bugs.

Invensense vs. Himax Technologies: Which is the Better Wearable Tech Play?

Fitness trackers, smartwatches, and virtually reality have dominated the tech headlines as of late, and with the global wearable tech market expected to ship north of 155 million devices by 2019, there's little question why. 

Apple and Fitbit get most of the attention right now, but investors looking for smaller wearable tech plays have plenty of stocks to choose from. 

Invensense (NYSE:INVN) and Himax Technologies (NASDAQ:HIMX) are two stocks making big bets on wearable tech, but I think only one has the potential right now to come out a winner. 

Himax Technologies' pros and cons
Himax isn't a pure wearable tech play, but the company's stock is up over 30% this year on news that some of its technology will be inside of Microsoft's Hololens augmented reality headset. 

The Hololens isn't yet available to the public, but Himax's micro-display technology is likely to hold a spot in the headset, as could the company's wafter level optics (WLO). Himax's WLO's are essentially small camera lenses built on top of semiconductor processors. According to Chardan

Learning to Love Virtual Reality

At Nvidia's GTC, GPU Technology Conference last week, I saw a variety of new technologies showcased. From deep learning systems -- computers that arguably are smarter than we are -- to self-driving cars that can drive better than we can, the technological advances on display made me feel just a tad inadequate. 

One way to get over my sudden concern over obsolescence was to check out the virtual reality showcase. With the realization of all the free time I'm likely to get, the prospect of computers doing what I used to do suddenly didn't look so bad.

This year is the true birth year of consumer VR, and while I worry that the technology is not yet ready for consumers, I have to admit I want a VR headset.

I'll walk you through the current state of VR and close with my product of the week: a new hands-free smartphone headset to rule them all from Plantronics.

VR for Business

I have some doubts about consumer VR at the moment, largely because the state of the hardware, which I'll get to in a minute. That said, I have no doubts about VR for business. 

One of the showcases at the Nvidia event was an Audi implementation of a virtual showroom experience. It was pretty impressive. The prospective buyer puts on a headset, selects the desired car and options, and then can walk around and view a fully photorealistic image of it.

Facebook launched Development Kit for Apple TV – Salinas Tech Zone

Facebook Inc. has just announced support for Apple Inc.’s tvOS and the new software development kit (SDK) is the perfect tool for developers to create better social experiences on tvOS. The new SDK offers features like login support, share to Facebook, and Facebook Analytics for Apps. The new SDK from Facebook is one of the first efforts from a tech company to develop for tvOS.

The new SDK works similar to the login feature found in the Facebook app for iOS

Users won’t need to create multiple accounts to log into their devices. Facebook understands that typing on the TV remote would be a hassle, and thus has adopted a different authentication method to log in, such as a confirmation code. Social media giant says that it has developed an app that will deliver a more personalized user experience. It says users will have the option to get recommendations for movies and music based on their social experiences.

The new SDK is capable to log into third party apps like Spotify and Pandora, which makes the authentication process a breeze. However, apps like HBO Go, which require all the credentials via the remote, will use the same authentication method as Facebook to log in. The new SDK allows developers to have real time feedback on their apps through Facebook analytics, which can further help improve user experience. Developers also have the ability to share their posts via the tvOS app so that they can improve user experience while sharing posts.

Reviews for Apple’s fourth-generation Apple TV were generally positive, but many pointed out an apparent shortcoming in the way tvOS handles app logins. Also noted in AppleInsider’s review, tvOS does not support universal authentication, meaning users have to enter account credentials into non-Apple apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO and more.

Apple’s Safari Technology Preview is a stable test platform for users and devs

Over the last two or three years, Apple has put an increasingly large amount of its software development out in the open. Early betas of OS X and iOS updates, once locked behind a developer paywall and a bunch of nondisclosure agreements, are now released for the public to download and try out. Swift, Apple's new programming language, is now open source. And today, the company is releasing the first of many Safari Technology Preview builds, a new development snapshot of the browser designed to show off more features while offering more reliability and stability than the nightly WebKit browser builds.