Category: Mobile apps

Cyanogen wants to break Android grip with Microsoft

CyanogenCyanogen, which wants to break Android’s dependence on Google, has signed a partnership with Microsoft.

The big idea is to bundle Microsoft services into the Cyanogen OS including “Bing services, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Microsoft Office.”

Cyanogen started as an aftermarket Android ROM maker, but then It got an outside CEO, Kirk McMaster, who wanted to “take Android away from Google.”

Cyanogen want to supply its Android distribution to OEMs as a kind of outsourced software house, and currently Cyanogen OS powers the OnePlus One.

Vole was going to invest in Cyanogen, but the deal fell through at some point, apparently in favour of this partnership.

For Cyanogen to create a Googleless Android, it will need to provide alternatives to Google’s services, and this Microsoft deal is a good start.

Microsoft can provide alternatives for Search (Bing), Google Drive (OneDrive and Office), and Gmail (Outlook) but it is still missing alternatives to Google Play, Google Maps, and Google Play Services.

Cyanogen has said it will develop an app store in-house, but so far there is no mapping deal in the works..

Lacking Google Play Services is also a nightmare as many apps depend on it to push notifications, in-app purchases, Ads, Google Cast, Google Play Games, location APIs, and a ton of other features. Amazon gets around this by offering drop-in replacement APIs for Google Play Services, and if Cyanogen wants a serious app ecosystem it will need to do the same.

Microsoft has been seeing it as a platform it should expand to. The company brought Office over to Android tablets and will reportedly bring its voice assistant, Cortana, to Android as well.

IBM strikes deal with China Telecom

IBM logoLast week IBM said that it would work closer with Chinese companies to make its intellectual property easier for them to use.

And today it has signed a deal with China Telecom aimed at using its partnership with Apple and iOS to create business enterprise apps.

The apps will be hosted on China Telecom’s cloud, said IBM – which added that it’s the biggest cloud service provider in mainland China. It hosts over 70 percent of domestic internet content and services.

The aim is to promote the development of mobile apps in Chinese enterprises.

The deal will mean that China Telecom will use IBM’s Mobile First Platform for iOS. That lets organisations build secure native apps for large companies. Apps built using the software are easily customisable for any organisation, Big Blue claims.

IBM said it has over 4,300 patents in mobile, social networking and security. It is working with Apple to build enterprise apps. Apple hopes that its partnership with IBM will let it sell more tablets to large organisations.

* IBM also said today that it has introduced IBM Verse – a social messaging product that uses built in analytics.

D-Link net cam covers all the angles

Want to keep an eye on your yard while you’re down at the Dog and Duck? D-Links wireless pan tilt network camera could be just the job for you.

The DCS-5222L comes with an installation CD, a remote control, a metal camera base and mounting kit, a power cable and an Ethernet cable.  Optionally, you can buy a micro SD card to record what’s going on while hopefully not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.

The camera is a dumpy little creature that stands about six inches high, and is equipped with an array of LEDs on its working end and an antenna to pick up your wi-fi.

It works with PCs, Macs, and Linux and supports a number of browsers including IE, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. It’s got a built in microphone too, if you want to record the spiders having their mysterious conversations while you’re out of sight and site.

Installation is a bit of a doddle. You plug the Internet cable into the back of Mr Dumpy, kick off the installation CD and off you jolly well go. Once you’re up and running, you can use your PC, your smartphone or your tablet to view what’s going on in your den across the internet, using mydrink.com to tune in and turn on It has both a night and day mode, which you can set to auto.

From the web interface you can choose the live view, playback recording – provided you have that micro SD card in the slot – and alter the settings of the camera remotely, too. From the browser, again, you can perform an automatic 360 degree scan, zoom in and out,  tilt the camera up and down, left and right, and take a photo.

D-Link

From the settings menu can switch on motion detection and if the said rodent makes an appearance it will send you an email alert.  You can also create scheduled notifications.

So how did it all work out in practice? Well, it certainly works when you’re down the Dog and Duck – that’s the Kite in Oxford in my case. I’ve used my iPad, my smartphone and several PCs to check out that all is well at Chez Moi.

The camera supports H.264/MPEG/MJPEG multistreaming and H.264/MPEG4 mulitcast streaming.  Image resolution is HD720 and a maximum of 1280/720 at 30 frames per second. It weighs 540 grams and its dimensions are 114x114x125. An additional sensor can be attached to a door or a window via the standard IO port that’s built in.

The night vision works well, even in complete darkness but don’t have it gazing out of a window at night – the array of LEDs at the front reflect back into the lens.  

This is a fun and functional piece of kit, easy to set up and easy to use.   Prices range from £159 to £186, when we searched on the web for the unit.

We take a dekko at Youtube Mobile

Google has launched an updated form of its Youtube Mobile website, which it claims is faster than using a Youtube app. We decided to test that theory.

Using an Android phone, the HTC Desire, we loaded the official Youtube app which took around two and a half seconds to open. In comparison, the Youtube Mobile site took around three seconds, so it was slightly longer. That doesn’t count the time it takes to open the web browser and open bookmarks, nor to type the address in if you haven’t already saved it to your favourites before.

So, perhaps it’s not quite as fast as the app, but it’s fairly similar, which is a big improvement on previous incarnations which were usually several times slower.

The biggest difference we noticed, however, is in the appearance. The default Youtube app on an Android phone is a little garish. It’s black and just displays a list of videos. To find information and comments you need to hit the tiny information button at the side, which can be difficult to hit. Buttons are in different places, or nowhere to be found. It all feels very counter-intuitive, particularly if you’re used to using the website on a PC.

Youtube Mobile gives a more genuine experience. It looks and feels like the standard Youtube page, except things are organised in a way that makes it feel user friendly on a smartphone.

When you click a video it displays the whole page for that video rather than just the video itself, so you can see the description, comments and so forth. It also includes the like and dislike buttons, Save To, Share, and an HQ button for higher quality (or lower if you want faster loading). If you scroll down you get Related Videos or Comments on seperate tabs.

 

youtube mobile

Screenshots from Youtube mobile, here

This does not mean that you watch a video with all of that on the screen. As soon as you press the video to play it brings it up full-screen, which you can then rotate for the proper widescreen experience. This is fairly similar to the Youtube app.

The search feature ran much more smoothly on the mobile site than on the Youtube app. Results displayed quicker and retained the search bar, along with the home page button and the menu button, whereas the Youtube app only listed the videos.

One thing the website lacks over the app is an appropriate menu. If you hit the Menu button on your phone it brings up your browser menu, but of course the app has Search, Upload, Home, My account, Categories, and a Time filter. 

This can be overcome to some degree via a Menu button built into the website itself which always features on every page. It looks like nine squares and is directly opposite the Youtube logo itself.

It also gives a wider range of options, including: Home, Browse, Favorites, Playlists, Subscriptions, My videos, and Settings. There’s a Sign In button at the top or Sign Out among the options if you’re already signed in.

 

youtube mobile

Much of the speed improvement of the new version is down to HTML5, but the complete overhaul of the interface is what makes this such an appealing alternative to an app. The share button is particularly interesting, as it lets you share the video on Buzz, Twitter, Facebook, or send through email, without having to mess around with separate websites.

While the applications may be a second or two faster, YouTube Mobile is a richer and more genuine experience. We wouldn’t be surprised, if the trend toward HTML5 continues, more people flock to official HTML5 websites rather than applications.