06 Dec

Ars Technica – Google Earth, other mobile apps leave door open for scripting attacks

In the rush to create mobile apps that work across the leading smartphones and tablets, many developers have leaned heavily on web development tools and use embedded browsers as part of their packaged applications. But security researchers have shown that relying on browser technology in mobile apps—and even some desktop apps—can result in hidden vulnerabilities in those applications that can give an attacker access to local data and device features through cross-site scripting.

via Ars Technica – Google Earth, other mobile apps leave door open for scripting attacks. Oops, just because it doesn’t look like a browser doesn’t mean it doesn’t suffer the same security holes.

17 Oct

My Dinner With Android – Four months with Android: reflections, grievances and some tenuous metaphors bundled up into a weighty tome

If I could simultaneously re-experience my first time using iOS and my first time using Android, I don’t know how the two instances could ever reconcile. iOS feels like technology that’s years ahead of Android just through polish and design. And while a lot of Android users have told me that stuff doesn’t bother them, I can’t get over it. Why choose the tool that feels worse?

via My Dinner With Android – Four months with Android: reflections, grievances and some tenuous metaphors bundled up into a weighty tome. That pretty much sums up every bit of experience of Android I’ve ever heard.

19 Sep

Ars Technica – Google Wallet now available for a select group of users

As of today, Google’s Wallet service is officially available, according to a post on the official Google blog. Now that the program is live, owners of Sprint’s Nexus S 4G and a Citi Mastercard will be able to process payments through Google with a tap of plastic on plastic. It’s a small audience, but one Google plans to quickly expand.

Google Wallet works through near-field communications (NFC), a system that uses RFID tags to communicate between two capable devices. Once logged into the system, users who have connected their Citi Mastercard to their Nexus S 4G phone will be able to pay for items by tapping their phone to a card reader at participating stores.

The launch is not only limited to certain customers, but also to specific retail partners. The primary base of retail stores includes pharmacy chains like Rite Aid, CVS, and Duane Reade, with some representation in stores like New York and Company, Footlocker, Best Buy, and Home Depot.

The release of Google Wallet is more a signal of intent than a real step into a payment processing arena that contains a number of competitors that haven’t yet tangled themselves with NFC, including Square and PayPal. What Google’s NFC and Google account integration will bring to the fight is not only convenience, but also the opportunity to track customers even more closely.

With a program like Google Wallet, Google can track the offline spending and shopping habits of its users as closely as those online. While outlets often try to target customers by doing things like collecting e-mail addresses to send coupons and ads, Google could offer even more seamless ad integration by connecting the offline retail outlets consumers favor with their Google profiles, even affording competing outlets positional advantages. This has been referred to as the “closed loop,” where no consumer purchase escapes the eye of the banner ad, to the delight of retailers, market researchers, and everyone in between.

While the launch is extremely limited, Google states that Wallet will eventually “hold many if not all of the cards you keep in your leather wallet today.” The page goes on to say that Google Wallet will also replace loyalty cards, gift cards, receipts, boarding passes, tickets, and “even your keys.” Hopefully you don’t keep your own address in your phone, or if you do, you at least keep the screen locked.

via Ars Technica – Google Wallet now available for a select group of users. I’m a fan of anything that possibly limit the amount of stuff I need to carry especially in my wallet. That all being said there are definite privacy implications as Google stretches itself more from the digital world into the physical world.

26 Aug

QuirksBlog – Twelve steps for saving webOS

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of webOS, and have decided it does have one, maybe even a glorious one, provided the new owner or licensee reaches out to web developers, as Palm should have done back in 2009.

So here are twelve steps the new owner should take in order to get webOS to thrive.

via QuirksBlog – Twelve steps for saving webOS. Pretty good plan to take a webOS into a top tier platform for developers, though not much to get in the hands of consumers which would beat every other factor and practically guarantee bringing developers.

01 Aug

Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox – Defer Secondary Content When Writing for Mobile Users

Mobile devices require a tight focus in content presentation, with the first screen limited to only the most essential information.

via Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox – Defer Secondary Content When Writing for Mobile Users. Wikipedia’s mobile version while typically not known for it’s usability is used as a good example of hiding information until needed.

30 Jul

Silicon Alley 2.0 – Why my Mom Bought an Android, Returned It, and Got an iPhone

The other day I bought the newest, fanciest flagship Android phone for my mother and it was an unmitigated disaster. She has an iPhone now, which she loves, and when I read that 30-40 percent of Android devices are being returned, I honestly wasn’t surprised.

With a user experience as bad as I saw on a brand new Android device, I’m considering an iOS device for my next phone, and I’m a big Android fanboy and proud PC owner. Of course, that 40 percent number is very hard to verify and I’d guess that it’s a bit of an exaggeration – but still, something is rotten in Android town.

So my mom needed a new phone and she was game for an Android – she had been envying my HTC Incredible for about a year and was tired of her aging feature phone. She’s pretty tech savvy –uses Gmail, has a Tumblr, does most of her emailing on an iPad– so after some discussion we decided that Android was the way to go. The integrated Google search, Gmail, gChat, and much richer maps functionality seemed to trump the UI functionality and app selection of the iPhone 4 for her needs. A trip to the Verizon store later, we came home with a Samsung Charge. The giant screen was brilliant. The 4G was blisteringly fast. The camera had more megapixels than was reasonable. The phone was an absolute nightmare to use.

From the second we turned it on, the user experience was astonishingly bad. Want to activate your phone? Take the battery out, write down a series of minuscule numbers that you find on the phone and on the SIM card, then enter them into Verizon’s barely-functional site. Once you’ve got it hooked up, navigate the opaque first time setup, if it doesn’t crash while you’re entering your information (it did – twice). Once you’re done with the setup, enjoy the apps that Verizon and Samsung think you should use: a terrible golf game, a Samsung branded Twitter client, Verizon’s half-baked navigation app.

via Silicon Alley 2.0 – Why my Mom Bought an Android, Returned It, and Got an iPhone. His proposed solution is one that Google should really think about, though even that may not be right. For instance do you really want to split the Android market into these are the “approved” phones and these are “not approved”?

19 Jun

Mika Mobile – Android

With Battleheart having been on sale for a few weeks, I feel I’m equipped to offer up some impressions of the android market from a developer’s perspective.

Still, despite those disclaimers, Battleheart for Android has become a meaningful source of revenue, and has proven that the platform isn’t a waste of time. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that a polished, high quality product is more likely to be embraced on Android than on iOS because the quality bar on the android market is so pathetically low. Here’s some interesting data: on iOS, user reviews for Battleheart average 4.5 stars (4000 total ratings), which is quite good. On Android it’s a stunning 4.8, with 1000 ratings. So not only is it reviewed more highly, it’s also reviewed more often, with a huge percentage of android users taking the time to rate the app. I think the lack of competition makes quality apps really stand out, and generates a lot of enthusiasm from app-starved android users.

The technical side of supporting android isn’t so bad, but it is a bit of a nuisance. 95% of the heavy lifting is handled by Unity, the game development engine we use to develop our apps. Actually porting the game only took about a day. Still, some devices don’t handle our shaders in a consistent way, some devices just plain crash for no apparent reason. These kinds of issues are few and far between though – the main thing I had to concern myself with was simply making the game work properly at various screen sizes and aspect ratios, which I had been doing all along, so it was trivial to get it up and running.

The most frustrating part about developing for android is actually just dealing with the deluge of support e-mail, most of which is related to download and installation problems which have nothing to do with the app itself, and everything to do with the android OS and market having innate technical problems. Do some googling for “can’t download apps from android market” or similar wording, and you’ll see that this is a widespread chronic issue for all devices and all OS versions. There are numerous possible causes, and there’s nothing I can really do about it as a developer, since its essentially just a problem with the market itself. Based on the amount of e-mails I get every day, download problems effect 1-2% of all buyers, or in more practical terms, somewhere between two and three shit-loads. I have an FAQ posted which offers solutions for the most common problems, but lots of people can’t be troubled to read it before sending off an e-mail demanding a refund.

Mika Mobile – Android. It’s nice to see that Android has the potential to support developers, though the download and market problems really need work. Probably the most common complaint I hear about across any phone or any maker.

26 Mar

The League of Paul – I’m Regretting Going WP7

You could be forgiven for thinking I’m enjoying WP7, given now I have one app on the market, another submitted for certification and working on another two. But at the same time, you could be forgiven for thinking I hate it given the very rocky start the experience has been for me.

In truth, I usually fall somewhere in between – the pros generally outweighing the cons, but as of late Microsoft seems to be going out of their way to make it a miserable experience.

via The League of Paul – I’m Regretting Going WP7. Windows Phone 7 right now looks like a big ball of hurt for app developers.

21 Mar

Bloomberg – Apple Sues Amazon.com, Seeks Order to Stop Use of ‘App Store’ Trademark

Apple Inc. (AAPL) sued Amazon.com Inc., saying the online retailer is improperly using Apple’s “App Store” trademark for a mobile software developer program.

Apple, in a complaint filed March 18 in California, accused Amazon.com of trademark infringement and unfair competition and asked for a court order to prevent the company from using the “App Store” name, as well as for unspecified damages.

“Amazon has begun improperly using Apple’s App Store mark in connection with Amazon’s mobile software developer program,” Apple said in the complaint. Amazon also plans to use the name with a mobile software download service, the complaint states.

via Bloomberg – Apple Sues Amazon.com, Seeks Order to Stop Use of ‘App Store’ Trademark. Ughh when does it ever end.

24 Feb

BBC News – Microsoft says phone update failed 1 in 10 users

Microsoft has revealed that 1 in 10 users who tried to install a software update on their Windows mobile experienced problems.

The company had previously said that only a "small number" of handsets were affected.

Owners have reported a range of issues following the download, from phones crashing, to becoming completely unusable.

Microsoft pulled the update soon after the problem came to light.

via BBC News – Microsoft says phone update failed 1 in 10 users. That’s pretty poor.