Laurel DevotoMarketing Specialist at Zco Corporation
You’ve read about the rise of HTML5 in mobile application development and maybe it made you wonder why people still design apps for specific platforms. After all, if your app can go out to Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and iOS users through the power of HTML5, why bother with other application development methods? HTML5 is fantastic, but there are plenty of good reasons to design apps for specific platforms.
First, HTML5 is still not a formal standard. It’s a great update to HyperText Markup Language, but it’s not 100 percent consistent between browsers and runtimes; it’s also not 100 percent understood how it can be used yet. It’s good to push the boundaries of web and application design, but when you’re working on an app you may have other priorities.
Concerns like excellent 3D animation, application design, and marketing should take top billing over exploring the limits of HTML5 (at least while you’re designing your app). Focusing on the cool new features present in HTML5 isn’t going to make your app better; if anything, focusing on HTML5 instead of your app will split your focus. You’re not hoping to see HTML5 go viral– you want to see your app on every smartphone and tablet.
Next, HTML5 is less able to take advantage of platform or device-specific features. This means that the user experience may suffer somewhat, since native apps will be designed with one kind of user in mind while an HTML5 app must be generic to cater to everyone.
In other words, you can only use features that every platform supports if you use HTML5 to deploy your app to every user. If an iOS user is familiar with iOS interface and apps, then your app may feel strange or unwieldy to that user when it is released via HTML5. An app that doesn’t resonate with a user may be one that is rarely opened or, worse, uninstalled.
While HTML5 apps are less expensive than creating the same program to run as a native app on multiple platforms, your mileage may vary. A well-designed app is going to generate more buzz than an app that doesn’t satisfy customers. It may be difficult to reach those customers with an HTML5 app because, at this time, the top app stores are iOS, Amazon and Google Play – none of which are HTML5 app stores.
While many are positive about the rise of HTML5 apps, there’s no reason to think native apps will go the way of the dinosaur anytime soon. HTML5 brings a lot of great things to the table and will provide lots of benefits for mobile device users. It’s new, it’s exciting, but it just isn’t the only fish in the sea.
A Scottish company in Edinburgh, a politician in Florida and patents being filed by the Xbox 720 team are all creating new examples of augmented reality technology.
Zappar, an apparel company based in Edinburgh, sells t-shirts that “come alive” when a viewer looks at one through a mobile device, according to the Daily Record. More than a million shirts have already been purchased; the company recently signed a deal with Wal-Mart to bring their augmented reality t-shirts into US stores.
Kirk Ewing, a developer at Zappar, said “AR will merge the real world with the computer world. It sounds scary but it will become second nature and we’re the first people to be doing things with it commercially. In the future, you will be able to wear special glasses and see ads coming out of shops and get the football scores off a stranger’s chest as you walk down the street.”
Jim Ronecker, the mayor of Oldsmar, Florida, is using augmented reality to reach people, too. He recently sent out postcards to show his support for his party’s candidates. The postcards show videos of the candidates through a QR code, instead of only printed text and images. Ronecker owns a print shop, in addition to his mayoral duties.
Ronecker released a statement, saying, “This technology will change, forever, the way political campaigns use printed campaign material, and could be a lifeline to the print industry in the U.S., which is seeing companies close down daily.”
The upcoming Xbox 720 may also be taking advantage of augmented reality technology. Microsoft recently filed a patent showing images being displayed on furniture and other surfaces in the gaming area. Tell Me News indicates the images may immerse the player more deeply in the gaming environment. The “116” device, referenced in the patent application, may also include both headgear and colored glasses to make the gaming area even more lifelike.
Though the Xbox 720 hasn’t been officially announced yet, rumors point to a possible fall 2013 introduction.
Augmented reality glasses were the stuff of science fiction only ten years ago. Now they’re in—or more accurately on—people’s faces. Google Glasses were in attendance at 2012′s New York Fashion Week; the models at Diane Von Furstenburg’s show wore the glasses, but they weren’t the only ones. Von Furstenburg’s documentary, filmed on Google Glasses, shows passersby and audience members in the glasses, too.
Vuzix, for example, announced their Star 1200 XL wide field augmented reality glasses on September 18. The 35 degree view is designed to work in a number of industrial and commercial applications, according to Herald Online. They will use 3DOF motion tracking sensors and a built in camera to interact with the environment. The glass’s display is native 16:9 format with full color WVGA.
A prototype by the Technology Department in Cambridge, UK takes a different approach to augmented reality. The glasses look normal, with full frames and lenses, but feature a tiny projector in one of the arms. The image is reflected onto the glasses and into the eyes, allowing a user to view the AR content on top of the environment the user sees when looking ahead.
The Guardian reported that the same company created a technology that allows users to control the glasses with eye movements alone.
There is also a possibility that Sony will introduce its own augmented reality glasses at the Tokyo Game Show later this year. The rumors come from a Japanese advertisement released by Sony that showcases its newest headset, complete with a mounted front-facing camera. The headset would be more likely used in video games than while walking around on the streets or working, showcasing yet another use for augmented reality glasses.
When augmented reality glasses make their way into retail stores, there’ll be more than one brand on the shelves. The only real question will be which offer the features you want—and look good on your face.
The gaming industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Steam, one of the premiere companies for online games, recently crossed the 500 million user mark. New consoles, new games and the sequels to incredibly popular games are already on the way. Where gaming consoles and services were once just part of a larger multimedia system, they’re increasingly becoming a hub for movies, music, communications, and television.
To celebrate ever-expanding user base, Steam launched Big Picture Mode last week. It integrates Steam games into your television with an Xbox-live like menu that opens at the press of a button. All the capabilities of a normal Steam account are there, but the layout is different.
More importantly, though, Steam’s Big Picture Mode lets users play the games with controllers instead of a keyboard and mouse. As Kotaku points out, it doesn’t mean the end of console gaming, but it will definitely entice new users to try PC gaming.
TV integration takes another step
Nintendo has gone a step further with TV integration. The newly announced TVii brings video streaming to the WiiU in a way that hasn’t been seen on consoles before. Instead of just connecting users to services like Netflix and Amazon Streaming Video, it brings cable onto your console. The gamepad will act as a universal remote, as well as connecting a user to content like commentary.
The TVii service may also include a TV Guide of sorts and TiVo-like functionality.
And speaking of screens…
Now that mobile gamers outnumber traditional computer and console gamers, it’s no surprise that Minecraft, a popular game on both PC and Xbox, is now available on Kindle Fire. Minecraft: Pocket Edition has been available for both iOS and Android for some time now; the app being released to the Kindle Fire not only shows how important it is for apps to be released to all possible platforms, but just how many people are playing games on any type of tablet.
Most adults remember childhood 3D being defined by paper glasses with blue and red lenses. They were usually disposable, the shows were rare and some – like “Haunts of the Olde Country,” shown at Busch Gardens between 1993 and 1998 – even had effects like misting water or dropping confetti. It helped immerse viewers even more deeply in the experience.
3D films and movies aren’t rare anymore, especially in the United States. For the first time, the Olympics are even being broadcast in 3D. According to CNET, more than 80 percent of households in the US have access to the channel dedicated to broadcasting 242 hours of Olympic 3D action. The channel is cosponsored by NBC and Panasonic, and is being hosted on major cable providers like Comcast, DirecTV and Verizon. Viewers have to own 3D equipment, including glasses, to join in on the fun.
3D is going global, too. India’s first animated stereoscopic 3D film, “Krishna and Kans,” was released worldwide on August 3. It’s a family friendly story about the first ten years of Krishna’s life. According to the executive producer, the film involved more than 1,200 animators working for more than five years to complete. It’s being released first in Indian schools and theaters, as well as theaters in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. “Krishna and Kans” should be released in the United States about two weeks after its initial premiere.
Of course, 3D movies are already incredibly popular in the United States. Roy Taylor, writing for Mashable, points out that the top 50 3D movies before December of 2011 made $8 billion. The top ten 3D movies between September and December of the same year made more than $480 million. Despite limited content, the sales of 3D LCD televisions were up in 2011. As more content is made available and hardware prices drop, sales of 3D-compatible devices will undoubtedly rise even more.
It doesn’t seem like the desire for 3D films or television is going away anytime soon. Looking to the future, the highly anticipated trilogy follow-up to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “The Hobbit,” will be shown in 3D when it’s released in 2014.
Many childhood gamers who’ve grown into working professionals remember their parents telling them to stop playing video games. “They’ll rot your brain,” was a popular reason given by adults who turned off the Nintendo and opened the front door. While it’s true that no one should spend an entire lifetime with hands on a mobile device or controller, eyes locked on the screen, studies are finding more benefits to gaming every year – both for children and adults.
Take a 2009 study done by Deakin University medical researchers, for example. They determined that preschoolers who played interactive games performed better on tests of mobility like kicking, catching and throwing than did children who did not play interactive electronic games. The study wasn’t set up to determine whether the use of games actually increased the children’s functional mobility, but the head researcher, Dr. Lisa Barnett, said the results were interesting enough to warrant further research.
The study looked at children who played interactive games like those on the Wii, non-interactive games like those on the Gameboy, both types of game and no games. More than half of the children in the study were girls and the average skill increase was about 12 percent for interactive gamers.
It isn’t only children who benefit from games, though.
Another 2009 study found that doctors who spent three hours a week playing games (whether PC, Xbox, Playstation or another system) were both more skilled and quicker to finish a laparoscopic surgery than doctors who did not play games. On average, gamer surgeons made 37 percent fewer errors and finished 27 percent more quickly. Dr. James Rosser explained that the same hand-eye skills used in video games can be used at the operation table. Laparoscopic surgery uses small cameras and remote control tools to perform surgeries with minimal scarring or cutting.
The study was done at Iowa State University with researchers from Beth Israel hospital in New York City and the National Institute on Media and the Family. 33 doctors’ gaming habits and surgery records were examined. The study also found that the skill level of the gamers correlated to their success as a surgeon.
Not only do video games have many benefits for children and adults, but many claims made against video games – that they can cause negative side effects like depression, for example – have been proven mostly false. If you need an extra boost in your mental awareness, try playing a game or two. After all, even the even the Office of Naval Research has found that adults who game process information more quickly and improve their problem-solving and reasoning capabilities.
Ask a group of friends to see a 3D movie and you might get some divided opinions. Headaches and higher costs are concerns for movie-goers interested in 3D cinema. Ask a group of friends to play a video game that comes in 3D online on different displays and another result occurs. Each player can decide whether to view the game in 3D and, so far, games with 3D support are no more expensive than normal new releases.
Some Xbox, Playstation and PC games come with 3D capabilities built-in. PC gaming was the frontrunner in the field, integrating Nvidia’s 3D platform long before the technology was available on consoles. 3D gaming does require other special hardware, which adds to the initial cost. Monitors and televisions that can display 3D content can be a bit pricier than ones without 3D support. Many of the displays that support 3D require users to purchase glasses separately. Active 3D glasses can cost up to $100 for two pairs. Passive ones are less expensive.
Even if you’re not a fan of 3D cinema, try out 3D games. Erik Sofge of Popular Mechanics admitted to being unimpressed by Avatar in theaters and Avatar: the Game, but got a kick out of “Super Stardust HD,” which can be downloaded from the Playstation Network. (He also said that 3D works better in games than in movies because games are meant to be fun and gimmicky.) If the first time playing through a 3D game is underwhelming, try a different title and see if it’s more to your taste.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few games that take advantage of 3D technology and do it well:
If you’re a gamer and haven’t played 3D games yet, why wait? Some excellent titles are already on the market and both console and PC games with 3D support are only improving every year. Slip on your glasses, pick up your controller and give it a try!
The company went from 0 to 2 million in two days.
OUYA, a hot new gaming console that will run Android 4.0, went on Kickstarter with a goal of $950,000. In two days, it has already earned more than $2.5 million. Its popularity stems from its inexpensive hardware, open-source game model and free trials of all games. Anyone capable of Android development will be able to develop for the platform, CEO Julie Uhrman says, without paying for expensive SDK kits that traditional console gaming requires.
It also means game developers can avoid expensive licensing, retail and publishing fees.
OUYA offered rewards like reserved gamertags, early consoles, engraved consoles and early SKD kits for different pledge levels. The 2000 $90 OUYA consoles are already sold out, though some are still available for $99. The lowest pledge level, $10, lets donors reserve a gamertag before the launch. The highest pledge gift comes with a $10,000 pledge and includes a private, pre-launch dinner with developers and designers. The donors username and donor ID will also be engraved into every first-run console produced.
Gamers and developers can take the console apart easily without voiding their hardware. It’s held together with basic screws. Once inside, users are free to play with the hardware. Peripheral devices can be connected via USB or Bluetooth LE 4.0. The console itself is based on a Tegra3 quad-core processor and includes:
All consoles will ship with a wireless controller that features two analog sticks, a d-pad, eight action buttons, a system button and a touchpad. Donors can pledge an extra $30 to receive an additional controller with the OUYA console.
The team at OUYA is excited about the potential that comes from the extra donations. Uhrman says the team in the office was hitting the refresh button on the Kickstarter campaign every few seconds, watching the donations climb. According to an article in Business Insider, OUYA developers plan to listen to the community and see what they want from the additional money, as well as work with game developers to have more games ready at launch.
If you have an idea for an Android game, remember that Zco offers exceptional Android game development services. Give us a call at 603-881-3000 to learn more.
Mobile apps are lots of fun, but they’re more than just games, alarms, timers, and social media platforms. More and more, medical professionals are using mobile apps to meet the needs of patients; certain mobile apps make documentation and patient reporting more simple and effective. Medical applications can help eliminate misunderstandings about medications, catch errors on patient charts, and clear up a doctor’s instructions for a patient who has returned home.
Even Harvard Medical School, arguably one of the finest schools of medicine in the United States, is taking advantage of mobile apps. Students are instructed to bring their own mobile device and the school itself holds licenses on apps it finds useful. The most popular app for students at HMS is Dynamed, which offers an evidence-based clinical reference to be used at the point-of-care, which means with or near patients.
Harvard’s doctors aren’t the only ones taking advantage of this mobile technology. A 2011 report from MobiHealth News showed that pharma companies’ investments in medical mobile apps and websites were up 78 percent from 2009 to 2010. As of 2012, there are over 40,000 medical mobile apps available for download.
In 2011, the FDA decided that as-yet unregulated medical apps needed oversight. It drafted a set of guidelines requiring medical apps that made health claims to be tested and approved. The problem is, approval for traditional healthcare devices is a difficult process that costs millions of dollars. The market for medical mobile apps is still growing and doesn’t yet earn as much money as that of traditional medical devices. A Stanford University report showed that the cost of device approval through the FDA is between $24 million and $75 million. The entire worth of the medical mobile application market is only $718 million, but is expected to double before the end of 2012, according to Research2Guidance.
Regulation is important, as is protecting users of medical apps – but innovation may be stifled by the long, expensive approval process. If the FDA finds a way to streamline the process so that the mobile apps can be processed more quickly and effectively, it will be on the right track. Medical mobile apps, like the rest of the mobile industry, are updated regularly and can be released with a low initial cost. These attributes make medical apps extremely valuable in a field where knowledge grows by leaps and bounds every week – and where the right app can be the difference between a well patient and an unwell patient.
Bring your medical organization into the 21st century with a state-of-the-art mobile app. Email us to get started.
Fireworks, barbecues, sweet tea, and swimming – Independence Day is all about celebrating America and spending some downtime with the people you care about. Celebrated since 1777 – when 13 rifle shots marked the occasion in Rhode Island and a larger celebration with food and fireworks took place in Pennsylvania – Independence Day is a time for fun and frolic. Mobile technology offers even more ways to send greetings, invite people over, plan meals and enjoy fireworks. Whether you’re roasting under the sun or stuck inside thanks to some ill-timed rain, iOS mobile apps will put a little extra holiday smile on your face.
Vintage Fourth of July Cards is an iOS app that has graphic representations of old-fashioned Independence Day cards. There are one hundred cards to choose from for only $1.99; download as many as your heart desires without paying extra. Once you’ve found one that strikes your fancy, send it out to relatives you aren’t going to see or to friends coming to your cookout as a precursor to the event. They’re sent right to an email account, so your friends and family don’t need to have the app to view the card. If you’re feeling especially patriotic, you can even set your favorite as your mobile wallpaper.
Speaking of your cookout, check out Fourth of July Recipes if you aren’t quite sure what to serve your guests. For only $0.99 you get access to more than 200 recipes. Move quickly, though, because the app is on sale (and it’s usually $14.99!) Try out Lemon Firecrackers, Star Spangled Pie or Aunt Carol’s July 4th Kosher Cole Slaw and who knows, maybe you’ll end up with a new family favorite. Most recipes in the cookbook stem from Independence Day favorites like baked beans, potato salad, various types of pie and hamburgers. There are also a few surprises — like the red, white and blue ice cream cake. Most of the recipes are fairly simple. Even if you aren’t a gourmet chef, Fourth of July Recipes is the perfect app to help you decide what to put on the menu at the last minute.
Stuck inside due to some very unfriendly storm clouds? Worried you’ll miss fireworks? Let your mobile device create the next best thing. Fireworks Arcade not only lets you design your own fireworks show, but it includes realistic sounds to dazzle your audience. It’s free, but you can choose to pay $0.99 to remove the ads. Once you’re done creating your fireworks show, save it and share it with friends right in the app. Even if you’re planning on spending the night outside and the skies are clear, Fireworks Arcade can still work to entertain your children when you get caught in the post-fireworks traffic.
So load up your iOS device with Independence Day apps and make the most of your holiday!