Why Mobile App Developers Turn to PaaS

, CMS Wire, 4/23/14

For better or worse, Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) will continue to pull business workflows into mobile and personal devices. Efforts to keep business functions in their traditional channels have largely failed and according to analysts, we should expect sharp double-digit growth to continue.

This paints a picture of a much more challenging application development environment. More applications must now be accessible, directly or through some intermediary, to a wider range of environments than ever before. Management and rank-and-file people now expect access to once sacrosanct information — inventory data or customer files, for example — no matter where they are or what time of day it is.

All these challenges point toward mobile application development, and ultimately almost all development moving to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) if it is to achieve needed productivity. The mosaic of functions, platforms and users, must be cemented into place and made more robust.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Why PaaS? Last year was an important, stake-in-the-ground time for the Platform-as-a-Service market, as vendors defined their vision and moved more actual capabilities to market. Although some suggest that PaaS will eventually get squeezed out of existence because it sits, implicitly, between infrastructure as a service (IaaS), a la Amazon AWS, and software as a services (SaaS), as exemplified by Salesforce, this is untrue. For many organizations PaaS will be indispensible as a tool for leveraging IaaS — providing the needed tools and controls — and delivering the organization- or market-specific SaaS capabilities that end-users need.

Although it will have competition among buzzwords from the “Year of the Internet of Things (IoT)” — a challenge that further reflects the growing complexities that IoT is creating for developers — I see 2014 as the “Year of PaaS.” Indeed, IBM’s and Cisco’s recent announcements that they will each invest a billion dollars in their cloud market is a sign that the pioneers have been on to something important.

More organizations are adopting PaaS. Gartner published in January of this year its first Gartner Magic Quadrant for aPaaS. What’s driving the interest? Developers and IT in general are dealing with stiffer competition and limited resources. PaaS can help them solve those problems by supporting better and faster development, agility, analytics and scalability, while offering more favorable cost structures.

In 2014, PaaS will begin to drive a wave of change, within IT and across organizations. It’s also a fit for the “do business anywhere, any time” trend. Here again, consumers have shown the way, with smaller, more focused and easy to deploy apps that are better tailored to the needs of roles and individuals than the giant, “monolithic” applications that have long dominated corporate life.

App Development and PaaS

PaaS is moving towards a more central position in IT — whether on-premises, in the cloud or in a hybrid situation. When developers turn to PaaS they do so to save time and increase productivity. This approach is rapidly moving to the mainstream.

To date, developers have generally had to pick separate tool sets, depending upon their target deployment platform — one choice for fat clients and something totally different for web apps, mobile and tablet. Developers learned to use different tools for each different platform. If you decided your “fat” app needed to work for a mobile device, you may have had to put up with delivering a problematic user experience based on that tooling. If something was optimized for the web or a fat client, it might work for mobile, but it wouldn’t work very well. The alternative was more or less starting over from scratch.

Developers will look to PaaS vendors to provide unified delivery of tools. When people choose to create an app they will increasingly look for a development environment that will have all of the required tools needed to easily create a mobile app, a web app or a fat client, from one tool set. That is why developers will turn to PaaS to provide wide tooling breadth and strong integration. It’s common sense.

Even within the specific requirements of mobile development there can be daunting complexities. If you choose to write a native app your testing complexity goes up considerably. You have different operating systems and different handsets. With a hybrid approach you can write the UI code once and deploy to multiple devices because you have a container that runs on top of all operating systems – so you don’t need to learn device-specific environments for development.

Looking Forward

By 2015 the choice to write a native app or a hybrid app will be increasingly dictated by tooling available through a PaaS, not just for deployment and runtime but also as the app dev tooling for creating the mobile front end.

And when developers look to create apps for the Internet of Things (IoT) and the next generation of mobility — wearable devices like Google Glass — they will want similar support. Application developers will have to think about picking tool sets not only to deliver for their already complex spectrum of choices but also for Glass, or some kind of smart sensor or a refrigerator.

To meet these expectations, application developers need to look at mobile development challenges in a broad context that includes traditional platforms as well as mobile and emerging IoT. It’s an overwhelming challenge, but increasingly capable PaaS providers will make it possible – and successful.

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Posted on April 23, 2014 at 1:26 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: ,

HTML5 components released as open source

Joab Jackson, IDG News Service, 4/23/14

Telerik has released a free package that includes all the features in the commercial Kendo UI Mobile package

Borrowing a page from the recently revised Microsoft playbook, development tools maker Telerik has released as open source the bulk of its Kendo software library of components for building Web and mobile applications

The Kendo UI Core is a collection of user interface widgets and framework features, built from JavaScript and HTML5. The collection includes all the features available in its commercial Kendo UI Mobile package.

Telerik created the collection to accompany its flagship AppBuilder cross-platform mobile application development software (formerly called Icenium). More than 40,000 organizations have used Telerik’s development products, according to the company.

The Kendo collection has been released under the Apache 2.0 license, allowing developers to freely use and modify the code in their own commercial and personal projects. Telerik hopes to use the best contributions to the code base for its own commercial editions, as well as contribute additional components back to the project as they are developed.

The package includes a total of 38 user interface widgets, including components for autocomplete, drop-down lists, panel bars and calendars. Framework functions include drag and drop capabilities and data validation.

The library has been integrated with other popular JavaScript libraries, such as Bootstrap and Google’s AngularJS.

“I’m impressed with the beauty and completeness of Telerik Kendo UI components,” said Brad Green, Google engineering director for AngularJS, in a statement. “I’m ecstatic that it has gone the open source route to enrich the world’s development community.”

The company has held back releasing a few key features that might be of particular value to the enterprise, such as stock charts, mapping and a data grid. Those will be available only through the commercial Professional Kendo distribution.

The company has indicated that it is following Microsoft’s lead in open sourcing the library. Earlier this Month, Microsoft open sourced its own core WinJS JavaScript library for building Windows and mobile application using JavaScript.

Like Microsoft, Telerik hopes that developers become acquainted with the library and come to regard the company’s commercial products as the best tools to use with the library.

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Posted on April 23, 2014 at 1:22 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: 

Why HTML5 will finally take over video and the Web this year

Erika Trautman, The Next Web, 4/23/14

Cassette tapes, 8-tracks, and … Flash. All three of these mediums need a player to work, and all three mediums are either dead or dying. Just as CDs replaced tapes as a more efficient means of playing music, and digital files replaced CDs to do the same, HTML5 is making Flash obsolete.

The HTML5 versus Flash debate has been a hot topic among Web developers for years – and even more so since Steve Jobs published his now infamous 2010 letter touting HTML5 as the future and Flash as “no longer necessary.” But whether you side with Flash or HTML5, there’s no denying that the implications of HTML5 on video and the Web are real.

For online video, HTML5 offers two things Flash does not: mobile capabilities and semantic markup. The growth of mobile engagement; the rise of Interactive Video for entertainment, advertising and shopping; and HTML5’s open structure all combine to create the future of an HTML5-based Web, leaving Flash to eventually shuffle into its place in the Retired Tech Hall of Fame (make some room Windows XP, Palm Treo).

Mobile killed the Flash star

Since HTML5’s introduction, mobile has been touted as one of the publishing language’s largest advantages. And since iOS and many Android devices don’t support Flash, Flash is bound to PCs – a market which, according to Gartner, saw a 10 percent decline in shipments in 2013 from 2012.

According to IAB.net, nearly half of the U.S. population has a mobile phone with Internet access, and one in five page views on the Web happen on a mobile device.

Those numbers will continue to grow each month, and companies making Flash-based Interactive Videos are missing out on a huge audience by not enabling their videos to run on mobile devices.

Let’s take Bob Dylan’s fantastically entertaining “Like a Rolling Stone” Interactive Video that launched in November. Millions of PC viewers clicked with joy within the video’s TV-like interface.

However, users trying to open the video on their phone or tablet had a less enjoyable experience: Android users got a video teaser and a message to experience the full video on their desktop computer, and the site directed iOS users to download an app – neither option allowing for playback on their phone or tablet’s Web browser.

If one in five page views are happening on mobile, that’s one out of five people having to deal with a broken user experience when they go to the video site on a mobile device.

Those in the advertising, shopping, and enterprise industries are also beginning to focus their attention on mobile’s importance, as well as on Flash’s limitations with online video.

A recent open letter to advertisers by the Interactive Advertising Bureau – and signed by several major publishers and ad firms, including AOL, Conde Nast, Forbes, Google, The New York Times, Time Inc. and the Wall Street Journal – urges marketers to implement the HTML5 standard for their mobile ads so that they can run on different platforms. The letter states that to guarantee the paid ads “actually appear and look great on all screens,” ads should be developed in a mobile-compatible format.

“And the one open, industry-standard, universal format for building mobile-ready creative is HTML5,” the letter says.

In Sizmek’s annual Global Benchmark Report, “Breaking Boundaries: Engagement Gone Global,” the shift towards more mobile friendly formats using HTML5 is emphasized as one of the most important changes in digital advertising during 2013.

The report, which reveals key trends in digital advertising from more than 913 billion ad impressions worldwide for 2013, says to “expect engagement rates for HTML5 to increase in 2014 as the industry adopts rigorous creative and publishing standards that ensure seamless multiscreen delivery.”

Not only is the ability to play ads on all platforms crucial for major publishers, it’s also imperative that once the viewer clicks on the ad, they’re able to actually buy the product without any issue. This isn’t always the case, however, because Flash-based sites limit what can be done on mobile devices.

In a recent frustrating online shopping experience, our VP of Marketing attempted to find a vacuum cleaner on Amazon using his iPad. Ready to spend upwards of $400, the product video he tried playing stopped him in his tracks when it wouldn’t open due to missing Flash plugins. This is a huge missed opportunity for Amazon.

So why aren’t all of Amazon’s videos using HTML5?

Sure, it might be that developers are still catching up to the new standard. There’s also no denying that it has historically been much easier for developers to build in Flash than in HTML5.

A digital shift

A recent Forrester report entitled “Improving Enterprise Mobility: Meeting Next-Generation Demands of Development, Delivery, and Engagement,” says building apps in HTML5 takes more time than planned 59 percent of the time. That’s largely due to testing and fixing issues in non-native responsive frameworks.

HTML5 isn’t perfect; it’s still in its early years. Fortunately, talented companies are focusing on solving those problems for you – doing the work with a SaaS platform so you can just concentrate on the creative.

However, that’s not stopping enterprise and game developers. In a recent report from Sencha, a provider of open-source Web application frameworks, more than 60 percent of business application developers have converted to HTML5 and hybrid development of their key projects, and more than 70 percent of HTML5/hybrid developers are using HTML5 more this year than last.

Mobile video isn’t the only culprit 

In the gaming industry, HTML5-based games are on the rise. Holland-based Spil Games is just one publisher taking the HTML5 path. The company plans to publish more than 1,000 HTML5 games by the end of the year.

Spil Games already has 5,000 Flash games published on the Web, but that’s 5,000 games in its library that won’t work on tablets or phones.

According to Digital Buzz Blog, 32 percent of time spent on iOS and Android devices is spent playing games. With HTML5, developers can create games that can work on all devices. Just look at some of the awesome stuff Google created with its Google Chrome Experiments (all built in HTML5 and JavaScript using open Web technologies such as Canvas, WebGL and WebRTC).

And the nail in the Flash coffin award goes to… SEO

While mobile is the most obvious advantage of HTML5 over Flash, there’s a feature that lies in semantic structure that’s just as important and especially powerful for Interactive Videos based on HTML5. Web crawlers and search engines can’t see inside of Flash, which is a completely closed container, and they’ll never be able to.

Why does that matter? With the semantic structure of Interactive Video, you can build projects using HTML5 that have multiple interrelated pieces that Web crawlers know how to understand. But with Flash, you’re getting a black box that, when crawled, shows up as just a Flash video without any extra information.

Let’s take a look at another recent interactive music video, the 24-hour-long, HTML5-based project for Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” The video, which allows viewers to interact and jump between 24 hours worth of footage of happy dancers lip-synching to Pharrell’s song, is a beautiful example of the powerful and immersive projects you can create with HTML5.

There’s a new dancer or group of dancers every four minutes, totaling 360 clips – 24 of which include Pharrell himself. In addition to Pharrell’s appearances, there are also cameos by the likes of Steve Carell, Jamie Foxx, Magic Johnson, Kelly Osborne and more.

The video is really impressive, but it missed an opportunity by not building on a semantic structure. Had it been built correctly, each of the 360 videos would refer to that single Web page, making it possible for viewers to do things like search on Google for the clip of Jamie Foxx and his family. Without watching the entire video, you might not find these “Easter eggs” without knowing their exact time stamps.

Building the video on a semantic structure would’ve allowed Web bots to crawl each distinctive video clip as its own page. The video could have title tags and all the information you’d expect from a standard Web page (H1 tags, meta info, etc.), which would allow bots to read the single video as 360 individual Web pages with discrete content, resulting in higher-ranking search results.

Content creators who aren’t building HTML5 videos are already behind, and they’ll soon be left completely in the dust if they don’t implement the HTML5 Web publishing language soon. However, the good news for brands and content creators is that there are companies focused on delivering all the benefits of HTML5 without any of the technical challenge or complication.

Those who still think Flash is the way to go for online video will likely be changing their tune in the near future as mobile usage continues to skyrocket and HTML5 gets closer to becoming the universal format for creating mobile-ready creative projects.

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Posted on April 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iPhone, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: ,

Ubuntu 14.04 will power “first commercially available Ubuntu tablets”

, ArsTechnica, 4/18/14

Canonical today is releasing Ubuntu 14.04, a Long Term Support (LTS) edition for desktops and servers and an update to the versions of Ubuntu for phones and tablets.

LTS editions are released once every two years and receive five years of support from Canonical and thus gain wider adoption in businesses than the less stable server and desktop editions that come out every six months.

Canonical eventually wants to create a single operating system that can be installed across desktops, phones, and tablets, with a different interface presented on each device. That convergence hasn’t been completed yet, so with 14.04 (codenamed “Trusty Tahr”) there will be separate downloads for the mobile editions. “Full convergence means that the same code for operating systems and applications will be running on all types of devices, from phones to tablets to desktops, and even both smaller and larger devices,” Ubuntu Engineering VP Rick Spencer told Ars in an e-mail. “Convergence is still a work in progress, and we will continue to move the code to the desktop as it is ready in each release.”

Version 1.0 of Ubuntu for phones came out last October in the 13.10 release, and Ubuntu for tablets is hitting version 1.0 with the 14.04 release. This will “form the basis of the first commercially available Ubuntu tablets from Canonical’s OEM partners,” Canonical said in a press release.

There’s no word yet on any specific tablet devices, but curious users can install the tablet code on the Nexus 10 and the 2013 version of the Nexus 7. The phone version can be run on the Nexus 4 or Galaxy Nexus. We described the process of installing Ubuntu on Nexus devices last year.

The first commercially available phones preinstalled with Ubuntu are coming from BQ in Spain and Meizu in China later this year. “While both companies have only sold into a few markets with their existing models—BQ focused on Europe and Meizu on China, Hong Kong, Israel, and Russia—the Ubuntu devices will be available globally when bought online,” we noted after a February announcement.

The tablet code to be released today “is a 1.0 release with basic tablet functionality, including Scopes, Applications, and Side Stage,” Spencer told Ars. “However, this is not an LTS release, and, in fact, users who install this version will receive frequent updates as development continues. Ubuntu for Tablets is very usable, but is currently directed at enthusiasts and developers.”

Scopes allows quick views of content types, like videos, pictures, contacts, or messages. Side Stage allows users to swipe from the right edge of the tablet to pull up a second application in an overlay or split-screen view.

While Canonical supports running the tablet code on the 2013 Nexus 7 and Nexus 10, “there may be ports available for other devices undertaken by community developers,” Spencer said.

Upgrade from Windows XP

Canonical CEO Jane Silber pitched Ubuntu 14.04 for desktops as a good option for businesses “considering a switch from Microsoft, and specifically those replacing XP or Windows 7 as they come to the end of life.” 14.04 comes with some new security features, including new AppArmor profiles and policies and “improvements for interprocess communications between confined applications.”

“Ubuntu 14.04 LTS provides a seamless migration path for organizations upgrading from the previous 12.04 LTS,” Canonical said. “Users will notice a slicker experience, with improvements to the Unity UI. The release also includes all the tools required for business use, including remote delivery of applications, compatibility with Windows file formats, browser-based cloud solutions, and the Microsoft Office-compatible LibreOffice suite.”

Additionally, “Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is optimized for desktops and laptops with multitouch trackpads and touchscreens, as well as support for high pixel density (DPI) screens. This means users can make the most out of the newest hardware on the market.”

Ubuntu’s Server edition is increasingly being used by service providers building cloud networks. “Global enterprises including AT&T, Bharti, Bouygues Telecom, British Telecom, China Telecom, China Unicom, Cogent Communications, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Korea Telecom, NEC, NTT, Numergy, Orange France, Time Warner Cable, Turk Telecom, Verizon, and Yandex, as well as leading Web scale services such as Netflix, Instagram, Hipchat, and Quora are all building next generation services on Ubuntu,” Canonical said.

Ubuntu is probably the most popular operating system on which to run the cloud-building software OpenStack. Although Canonical as a whole is unprofitable, in part because of its investment in building a phone and tablet platform, the company has built a nice business selling support to businesses using Ubuntu Server and OpenStack. Canonical also makes money selling Landscape, a proprietary systems management tool for controlling Ubuntu desktop, server, and cloud deployments. Red Hat and other companies are making a run at the OpenStack market, too.

Ubuntu 14.04 for servers “includes new versions of Juju and MAAS [Metal as a Service] to design, deploy, and scale services faster than any other platform available today, on cloud or bare metal. Juju meets the DevOps imperative for agility, continuous deployment, and integration, and MAAS provides scalable bare-metal deployment,” Canonical said. “Ubuntu 14.04 LTS also integrates the latest container technologies from Docker and LXC, OpenVSwitch for networking, and Ceph for storage.”

14.04 also brings support for IBM Power systems, which run Unix and Linux.

Daily builds of Ubuntu 14.04 are available for desktops here and servers here, while the final versions will hit the main Ubuntu download site sometime today. (UPDATE: It’s available here.) Instructions on using mobile versions are available on the Ubuntu wiki. Daily builds of Ubuntu Touch images are also available.

Ubuntu’s new display server, Mir, is being used on phones and tablets but hasn’t been turned on by default in the desktop yet due to compatibility problems in multi-monitor setups. 14.04 users will have the option of turning on Unity 8, the user interface powered by Mir, which “demonstrates applications that work across all Ubuntu devices,” Canonical said. The Ubuntu app store is starting to get applications that can run across phone, tablet, and desktop. “These apps automatically resize and adjust to make the best use of the space available while exposing the same core functionality, all from the same code-base,” Canonical said. This requires Unity 8, so desktop users running with default settings won’t see these apps.

While Ubuntu is based on Debian Linux, Ubuntu itself forms the basis of other operating systems including the popular Linux Mint desktop. Mint comes in versions based on either Ubuntu or Debian and comes out about a month after Ubuntu. As such, the next Ubuntu-based version of Mint will arrive in late May.

There is also a new version of Ubuntu Kylin, an OS designed for the Chinese market.

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Posted on April 18, 2014 at 6:47 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology

Kill-switch coming to smartphones

Mobile Tech News, 4/18/14

CTIA and participating wireless companies today announced the “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment,” which is the most recent effort by the industry to deter smartphone thefts in the U.S. The safety and security of wireless users remain the wireless industry’s top priority, and is why this commitment will continue to protect consumers while recognizing the companies’ need to retain flexibility so they may constantly innovate, which is key to stopping smartphone theft.

The “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” states:

Part I

Each device manufacturer and operating system signatory of Part I of this “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” agrees that new models of smartphones first manufactured after July 2015 for retail sale in the United States will offer, at no cost to consumers, a baseline anti-theft tool that is preloaded or downloadable on wireless smartphones that provides the connected capability to:

Remote wipe the authorized user’s data (i.e., erase personal info that is added after purchase such as contacts, photos, emails, etc.) that is on the smartphone in the event it is lost or stolen.

Render the smartphone inoperable to an unauthorized user (e.g., locking the smartphone so it cannot be used without a password or PIN), except in accordance with FCC rules for 911 emergency communications, and if available, emergency numbers programmed by the authorized user (e.g., “phone home”).

Prevent reactivation without authorized user’s permission (including unauthorized factory reset attempts) to the extent technologically feasible (e.g., locking the smartphone as in 2 above).

Reverse the inoperability if the smartphone is recovered by the authorized user and restore user data on the smartphone to the extent feasible (e.g., restored from the cloud).

In addition to this baseline anti-theft tool, consumers may use other technological solutions, if available for their smartphones.

Part II

Each network operator signatory of Part II to the “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” commits to permit the availability and full usability of a baseline anti-theft tool to be preloaded or downloadable on smartphones as specified in this commitment.

The following network operators, device manufacturers and operating system companies are participating in the voluntary commitment: Apple Inc.; Asurion; AT&T; Google Inc.; HTC America, Inc.; Huawei Device USA; Motorola Mobility LLC; Microsoft Corporation; Nokia, Inc.; Samsung Telecommunications America, L.P.; Sprint Corporation; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless.

“We appreciate the commitment made by these companies to protect wireless users in the event their smartphones are lost or stolen. This flexibility provides consumers with access to the best features and apps that fit their unique needs while protecting their smartphones and the valuable information they contain. At the same time, it’s important different technologies are available so that a ‘trap door’ isn’t created that could be exploited by hackers and criminals,” said Steve Largent, President and CEO, CTIA. “By working together with policymakers, law enforcement and consumers, we will deter theft and protect users’ personal information on smartphones.”

Oregon State Senator Bruce Starr, President of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), said, “The NCSL applauds today’s announcement unveiling the wireless industry’s commitment to reduce the number of smartphone thefts each year by providing anti-theft tools on future devices. This voluntary effort serves as another positive illustration of the wireless industry adapting to address consumer needs through self-regulation. The NCSL encourages your ongoing collaboration with consumers and the state lawmakers as we continue to work cooperatively to reduce the number of smartphone thefts annually.”

“While the Minnesota legislature is poised to pass the nation’s first ‘kill switch’ law as early as next week, I have said all along we would welcome the industry’s ideas and solutions to address this critical public safety issue. With today’s announcement, CTIA and its member companies have stepped up to protect customers and promote public safety, and I commend and support their efforts,” said Minnesota State Representative Joe Atkins.

“I am encouraged by these steps to deter smartphone thefts and hopeful that that these measures will bring much needed protections to Chicago consumers,” said Chicago Alderman Edward M. Burke. “As the sponsor of pending legislation that seeks to mandate ‘kill switch’ technology on all smartphones sold in Chicago, I commend the smartphone industry for its cooperative efforts, but will remain watchful that these commitments are both upheld and result in the shared goal of reducing smartphone thefts citywide.”

“We got the kill switch technology solution we wanted to protect Illinois consumers. The wireless industry has agreed to provide a free preloaded or downloadable anti-theft application for smartphones to help protect owners if their phones are stolen. This tool would allow smartphone owners to remotely wipe their personal data and remotely shut down a stolen phone so it is not valuable to thieves. Today’s announcement is a significant step to provide additional protections to Illinois consumers,” said Illinois State Senator Toi Hutchinson.

Rhode Island State Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio praised the voluntary commitment by saying, “I am grateful to the participating carriers, device manufacturers and operating system companies for voluntarily coming to this decision to improve public safety. This is a move which is good for consumers and good for business, in my opinion. It gives consumers peace of mind and protects them from the threat of having their personal information exposed. The ability to make the system inoperable also eliminates much of the incentive for theft in the first place.”

“Smartphone theft is a growing concern around the country. That’s why we introduced legislation to try to stop the secondhand market for stolen smartphones. This agreement will go a long way towards reducing the secondhand market for phones that are stolen, and I commend the industry for taking these steps,” said Minnesota State Senator Katie Sieben.

The “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” furthers the multi-layered approach previously announced to protect consumers and aid law enforcement. This proactive initiative includes blacklist databases, consumer education and federal legislation (S. 1070), sponsored by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, to impose tough penalties against those caught stealing devices or modifying them illegally.

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Posted on April 18, 2014 at 6:39 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Google Launches Chrome Remote Desktop On Android, Allowing Mobile Access To Your PC

, Tech Crunch, 4/17/14

Google this morning launched a mobile client application called “Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android” (whew!) which allows for remote access to your Mac or PC from your Android device, whether smartphone or tablet. The new app is an extension of Google’s previously launched Chrome Remote Desktop screen-sharing service, which allows you to share your desktop’s screen with other Chrome browser or Chromebook users.

As with its big-screen counterpart, to use the Android application you first have to install a helper application on your desktop or laptop computer. That app is here in the Chrome Web Store and works on Windows (XP and above), Mac (OS X 10.6 and above) and Linux computers. The helper app installs as an extension to Google Chrome or the Chrome-based OS that powers Google’s Chromebooks.

Once installed, however, you’ll be able to open the app and connect to any of your computers with just a tap, manage them, and navigate through their files and folders from afar — like a modern version of GoToMyPC, for example.

We’ve known an Android client was in the works for some time, as there was even a functional version of the Android client available back in January, though it required that you compile the app from source in order to use it. An iOS version is also in the works, but its development is said to be further behind.

The move comes at a time when competitor Amazon is targeting enterprise users with its own version of remote access software, Amazon Workspaces. Officially launched to the public in March, this service similarly lets company employees access their work computers from any device, including Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad, Android or Kindle Fire HDX tablets. Of course, in Amazon’s case, the goal is to make its tablets appear more business-friendly.

Google’s Remote Desktop, on the other hand, has a more consumer-focused vibe, which even had the company once touting the service as a way to be the family hero by “adjusting printer settings on your mom’s computer to finding a lost file on your dad’s laptop,” for example.

The official Chrome Remote Desktop Android app is available here on Google Play.

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Posted on April 17, 2014 at 8:42 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, Mobile Technology

Boomerang for Android adds support for Microsoft Exchange accounts

, The Next Web, 4/17/14

Baydin, the company behind the Boomerang for Gmail apps, has announced today that its native Android app now offers support for Microsoft Exchange accounts.

Available since June last year, the Android build has always been pretty handy at helping users deal with their inbox, but the omission of Exchange support on mobile devices would have ruled it out for people that wanted to manage work and personal accounts. Now, that’s not a problem any more.

The company said the app will support customizable gestures and features like snooze, send later and response tracking. Users can also search Microsoft Exchange accounts, and there’s support for conversation view, flagging emails, folders, notifications and more.

Baydin said that as it uses Exchange Web Services to communicate with Exchange servers “the experience is much more feature ­rich than other third-party clients that connect via IMAP or WebDAV”, which could be music to the ears of mobile Exchange users.

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Posted on April 17, 2014 at 8:38 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, Mobile Technology

Heartbleed flaw affects mobile apps, too

, ComputerWorld, 4/11/14

Many banking, mobile payment apps connect to servers vulnerable to OpenSSL flaw, says Trend Micro

Android and IOS mobile applications are just as vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug as websites are, security vendor Trend Micro warned in a blog post on Thursday.

Because of the threat, consumers should avoid making in-app purchases via their mobile devices until permanent fixes are available for Heartbleed, the company said.

According to Trend Micro, a scan of about 390,000 applications on Google Play uncovered about 1,300 apps that connect to servers vulnerable to Heartbleed.

Among those at risk are more than a dozen banking apps, about 40 payment apps and 10 online shopping apps.

The company said it also found several popular apps to be vulnerable. because they connect to servers likely compromised. “Mobile apps, like it or not, are just as vulnerable to the Heartbleed Bug as websites are because apps often connect to servers and web services to complete various functions.”

A significant number of those servers are affected by the vulnerability, Trend Micro noted.

“We also found several popular apps that many users would use on a daily basis, like instant messaging apps, health care apps, keyboard input apps — and most concerning, even mobile payment apps,” Trend Micro said. “These apps use sensitive personal and financial information — data mines just ripe for the cybercriminal’s picking.”

JD Sherry, vice president of technology and solutions at Trend Micro, said the company did not perform a similar scan of applications available via Apple Store. But there is no doubt many of them are also at risk, he said.

Many view the Heartbleed vulnerability as one of the most serious Internet threats in a long time. The vulnerability stems from a basic programming error in OpenSSL versions 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f that is used to encrypt data by various browsers, operating systems and mobile applications. The flaw lets attacks grab confidential data like passwords and session keys from systems using the vulnerable software.

According to Trend Micro, mobile applications that support in-app purchases can connect to servers that use affected versions of the OpenSSL software. “As such, cybercriminals can take advantage of the Heartbleed bug to target that server and milk it of information (like your credit card number). It’s as simple and easy as that.”

Even applications that do not support in-app purchases are at risk if the application connects to an online server that is vulnerable. “For example, your app could ask you to ‘like’ them on a social network, or ‘follow’ them on yet another for free rewards” and eventually lead users to a vulnerable server.

“Heartbleed further complicates the BYOD conversation that many organizations are struggling with,” Sherry said. “This raises more questions and further exacerbates the challenge.”

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Posted on April 11, 2014 at 5:18 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: 

Android to Scan Installed Apps for Misbehavior

Tom’s Guide / Jill Scharr, Yahoo News, 4/11/14

Google yesterday (April 11) announced plans to increase security on its Android mobile operating system by continuously monitoring installed apps for malicious or otherwise problematic behavior. This update is an addition to Google’s “Verify apps” feature, which already checks all apps for potentially harmful code before installing them on a device.

Why is this necessary? An app might start off as perfectly benign, but then receive updates that change its code, turning it into something other than what you installed, especially if that app comes from somewhere other than the Google Play store.

The post-installation monitoring feature is being pushed out to all devices running Android Gingerbread 2.3 and later with Google Play installed. (Users will not have to wait for a carrier software update.) To disable the feature, you can simply turn off “Verify apps” in an Android device’s security-settings menu, but doing so would also disable the device’s ability to screen apps upon installation.

Android owners will be able to perform manual scans of installed apps, or schedule regular scans. If the scanner finds something problematic, users will see messages such as “Google recommends that you immediately uninstall this app” or “To protect you, Google uninstalled this app.” These will look similar to the other messages that the “Verify apps” feature sends out when it encounters a problem.

“Verify apps” is part of the “service layer” of the Android operating system, which Google compares to a home alarm system. Adding constant on-device monitoring to its service layer brings the Android operating system a step closer to the security found on Apple’s iOS platform, which blocks most installed apps from changing code after installation.

Google thinks most people won’t need this new feature, as “potentially harmful applications are very rare,” it said in a post on the Official Android blog. “But we do expect a small number of people to see warnings…as a result of this new capability.”

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Posted on April 11, 2014 at 5:13 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Comcast Wi-Fi hotspots reach 1M milestone

, FierceWireless, 4/11/14

Comcast announced that it now has 1 million U.S. Wi-Fi hotspots. The news was released amid rumors that the cable MSO is thinking of launching a Wi-Fi-centric wireless service. The operator noted it has deployed its Xfinity-brand Wi-Fi hotspots in a vast array of public venues across major cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta as well as areas of New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware. In addition, most Comcast Business Internet customers, including cafes and retailers, are eligible to receive an Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspot for no additional charge when they order service. Comcast also provides its residential customers with Xfinity Wireless Gateways that have a second “xfinitywifi” SSID for use by other Xfinity Internet subscribers without the need to know a homeowner’s private network password. For more, see this Comcast release.

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Posted on April 11, 2014 at 5:09 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: