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5 key points from day 3, Google I/O 2017

In continuation of the last two days the IO event became more detail oriented with deep dive technical sessions covering various aspects of the improvements in Google products and enhanced capabilities that developer can access.

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Here is our summary of some important discussions.

1.Improved sign-in, payments and forms in Apps

Google is trying to tackle the challenges of critical flows like login, payments and forms by using new APIs. Android now has Autofill, Google Smart Lock, and Backup and Restore APIs for your apps. These new APIs will help users

1) The login and payment experience,

2) Seamlessly syncing logins between your website and mobile app, and

3) Preventing users from getting locked out when they switch devices.

Watch the complete video here Link

2. Android meets TensorFlow

TensorFlow is powering google AI. A detailed session on AI technology for production Android apps was conducted. One of the main benefits of TensorFlow is Portability. You can easily move the neural network model to Android and run the prediction inside mobile phones, to do many AI tricks things like image recognition, motion recognition and etc.

Google provided the tips and tricks to overcome the challenges of the model size and CPU consumption for neural network prediction.

Watch the complete video here Link

3. Performance and Memory improvements in Android Run Time

Android Run Time (ART) is getting major improvements like the new concurrent copying garbage collector (GC) based on read barriers, and improvements to the ahead-of-time (AOT) and just-in-time (JIT) compiler. The new GC will reduce pause times and heap sizes compared to its predecessor.

Watch full video here Link

4. Kotlin

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Kotlin is now an officially supported language for Android. Kotlin is a language that runs on the JVM (Java Virtual Machine), and it’s already possible to use Kotlin and many other JVM languages for Android development.  This is the Link https://youtu.be/X1RVYt2QKQE to know the tips for developers to get started with it.

5. Machine Learning APIs

Google has introduced new machine earning APIs that provide access to pre-trained machine learning models with a single API call. Now you can make use of Google’s machine learning expertise to power your applications. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) offers five APIs that provide : Google Cloud Vision API, Cloud Speech API, Cloud Natural Language API, Cloud Translation API and Cloud Video API. Using these APIs, you can focus on adding new features to your app rather than building and training your own custom models.

watch full video here Link

Google I/O day 2 highlights: 3 latest technologies for VR and AR

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Day 2 of Google I/O 2017 has completed. We’ve got all of the details on day 2 rounded up just in case you happened to miss anything. Mostly  Keynote speech and bigger announcements happened on the first day.

There were multiple tracks on the second Day of I/O and we chose to focus on the AR/VR related topics.

Google is working on the whole spectrum on Reality as we know. From Real world problem solutions to using AR for enhancing real world environments and VR to complete virtual experience of the real world.

Google Tango

This is a very interesting project building on the AR capabilities for Smartphones. Google calls it WorldSense. It uses SLAM( Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping). The smartphone AR powered by Tango has Depth sensing, wide angle tracking camera and relocalisation capabilities. This allows greater capabilities for AR/VR developers. This technology can provide you with directions indoors and combined with AR, it can also create things which aren’t there.

Expeditions AR

This is the new version of the earlier Expeditions VR experience Google launched a few years ago. It is powered by the virtual positioning system. The VPS you to navigate through a store with the help of Tango — combined with image recognition systems that can track where you are. It enhances the interaction with the real world with low latencies. Developers can also build these AR Expeditions.

Daydream

Google calls its VR program, Daydream. Daydream 2.0, Euphrates, comes with support for standalone headsets.
In Euphrates, the focus is on standalone support and sharing the VR experience. Three important features showcased are
  • Software support for standalone headsets
  • Making VR content front and centre
  • Making it easy to share your VR exp
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Some Google VR capable devices are already available in the market from ASUS, Motrola with some more slated to come from Samsung.

 VR/AR developer tools

Google announced new tools to take advantage of the new platforms.

Instant Preview –

Allows Faster iteration — Google wants to speed up iteration times for building VR apps. With Instant Preview, which is deeply integrated into the editor and mobile device, developers can now make changes and see them in VR right away. No need to wait minutes to recompile an application.

Immersive web —

WebVR , brings the full Chrome browser to VR, using the Daydream controller. Google is also building WebAR into the browser. That way, you can preview what a new coffee table would look like on your phone — and it would know what actually fits between your couch and table.

Seurat for High fidelity graphics—

What you can render in real time depends on the amount of power you have available.” On mobile, you can’t get desktop-quality graphics.  A new tool for simplifying 3D scenes so they still look great but only need a little bit of rendering power compared to the full scene. It will bring cinema level quality to desktop graphics.

 For more updates, stay tuned for Day 3.

Google I/O 2017 highlights – Day 1

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Do you want to know the big announcements at Google’s annual I/O developer conference.? We have covered few main take aways from the event, in case you missed it. Right from Google Lens to Android Go, everything has been beautified and advanced.

Here is the brief summary from day 1 of Google I/O:

Google Lens

This is a set of vision based computing capabilities for the Camera that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take actions based on that information. Machine learning system that can tell you things about what your camera is seeing — is also coming into Google Photos, allowing you to ask questions about pictures you’ve already taken.

  • Now you can remove the abstraction from the image and enhance them.
  • You will be able to point your camera at an item and learn things about it.

Google Assistant

Assistant is becoming more conversational and it can pick up your voice accurately even from the noise.  The voice recognition is getting smart recognise each person of the family with their voice.

It’s awkward talking to your phone when you are in crowd so now you’ll be able to type to Google Assistant. Knowing about real world around you would be easier when google assistant is used with the lens, then, you’ll be able to ask Assistant about real world. The is not only available to android but iOS as well so you can enjoy convenience of Google Assistant on iPhone.

Google Home

Home is even more powerful with Proactive Assistance. It will gauge your needs before you need them. It can provide even more services like hands-free calling, Visual Responses and providing more control over your favourite entertainment by support of more music/video services to your chromecast or TV.

Google Photos

Google Photos will identify your best photos and offer them up as physical, printed photo books. It allows Shared Libraries so you can select to automatically share photos of specific people with specific friends.

Google AI

Google is focusing on three areas: Research, Tools, and Applied AI. This is being powered by a new computational architecture called CTPU (Cloud Tensor Processing Units). Machine Learning powered algorithms would help solve multiple use cases like identifying cancer, learning about new molecules and helping you draw.

Android O and Go

The new version of Android is O. This is currently in developer preview mode. It will speed up Android boot time, the Pixel, for example, will start up 2x as faster. O will now support the Kotlin programming language.

For Affordability, limited network connection and multilingual capability, a lighter version on O is available and Google calls it Go.They are introducing Android Go. It will be complete with lightweight versions of Google’s own apps and a Play store that focuses on apps that play friendly with lower-spec devices  (under 1GB of memory).

 

Stay tuned for more updates from Day 2 and Day 3.

Why We Love Workplace Culture (And You Should, Too!)

We understand that the workplace should not be something that people dread every day. Employees should look forward to going to their jobs. In fact, they should have a hard time leaving because they enjoy their work, their co-workers, and the environment. Jobs shouldn’t provoke stress in employees. While the work may be difficult, the culture shouldn’t add to the stress of the work. Because culture sustains employee enthusiasm.
 

“Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.” – Brian Kristofek, CEO, Upshot

 These are some elements which make our workplace awesome.

            We are a TEAM and not a bunch of Individuals

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Our work place is FUN

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   We believe in improving Employee Engagement

Boring office culture is one of the reason for employee attrition. There are many ways where your employees can take a break from their stressful work. Small events can be arranged such as having small monthly get- together in office, dress day or playing foosball or Table Tennis. Having fun together not only breaks up the routine but also encourages creativity and collaboration.

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We celebrate each and every moment

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Festivals are fun when they are celebrated with your friends and colleagues. We shall not miss the fun of the festivals and celebrations of important occasions. This comes about by beautifully decorated office or a party to celebrate an occasion.

A celebration after the completion of a major work project gives the team a chance to bond and reminisce on the project’s successes.

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Bridging the Gap between Social Enterprises and Social Impact Investors

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Recently, I got the opportunity to participate in Bangalore CSR Roundtable hosted by Brillio & Equal Innovation in partnership with India CSR on May 3rd 2017.

Some key points from this event I want to share with you all. Before that let me put some light on what is Social Entrepreneurs and Enterprises (SEE) and how this is related to this event.

Social Entrepreneurs and Enterprises (SEE)

It is an initiative of IITK AA, organised and now carried forward in association with IITKGP AA and supported by PAN IIT, IIMA, PAN IIM and ACB.

SEE started as an event and the first SEE focused primarily on awareness and scaling models for Successful Social enterprises. It had speakers and participants from all sectors. During the first edition of SEE one message came out very clearly that there is an increasing gap between social enterprises (not-for-profit or for-profit) and CSR funds/investors.

Second edition of SEE focused on Healthcare and Education. This edition also looked at setting up the framework so that Alumni from IIT’s can effectively engage and contribute to the critical sector.

It brought various social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, thinkers and enthusiasts under one roof. The event allowed great interactive sessions where on one hand the participants got inspired by conviction-led work by speakers and on the other hand various corporate discussed the challenges and their insights. Mr. Paritosh Segal, Co-Founder Sahyog Foundation, led the curation for the event.

After intensive research on challenges faced by social enterprises and impact investors, a framework was launched during the event by Mr. Pradeep Bhargava, President, IITK AA & IITK AA BLR.  Core objectives of the framework is to identify sectors that may be relevant and that may produce visible outcome, list the key impact areas and the key measures, understand and share the feasibility and impact data, build the stakeholders connect as part of SEE ecosystem which comprises financial institutions, CSR, Angel investors, VC’s, mentors, incubation with IIT and partners and entrepreneurs in the impact space.

We discussed on various aspects of CSR funding and pain-points of corporates as well as social enterprises. It was very enthralling for me to know that all these common problems faced by both entities can be resolved through SEE platform.

I would like to highlight a few key challenges and would like to emphasise on the role of SEE framework in resolving these issues:

Lack of trust between corporates and social enterprise world:

It was evident that corporates are willing to release CSR funds for social enterprises, but whom to trust for measurable impact has become a challenge for them. I strongly believe that SEE body can recognise and validate shortlisted social enterprises who genuinely have good model and thus help them sustain and scale. Corporates can have concurrence and decide where to invest.

Impact assessment of social enterprises by corporates:

Second evident challenge for all corporates is to measure the impact created by the social enterprise. One of the solution which was proposed is to have a set template by corporates where social enterprise can fill their outcomes. But the problem with such template is that there are several different enterprises all cannot be measured with the same template. SEE framework can play a crucial role in impact assessment by providing customised template.

Industry standard reporting by social enterprises:

Another point which was brought into discussion was reporting structure and the quality of report. Corporates feel that there is a need for social enterprises to improve on reporting but the fact that social enterprises many a times are not trained to publish their reports in a professional way. It becomes really challenging for corporates to go through the document and validate the report. We at SEE aim to create a pool of identified experts in different domains with social sector background as mentors. These mentors shall bring guidance to social enterprises and shall organize hands-on training sessions on impact measurement, impact assessment and impact reporting. This shall have positive outcome by reducing frustrations for both corporates and social enterprises.

Identifying the key focus area of corporates by social enterprises:

One of the biggest challenge which almost all social enterprises face invariably is to find out the corporates who have same focus area as their own. I recently faced a problem in identifying a CSR who invest in healthcare area. There is no common platform where corporates list their focus areas and social enterprises list their work.

Participation as SEE evangelist

SEE platform has planned to create a database on SEE website for all participants. This is going to ease the very first step of corporate and social enterprise to find the best match.

Social Enterprises

All these and many more benefits can be obtained by signing up for SEE Framework. SEE as a part of Alumni framework is not chargeable. Please register to be part of the SEE ecosystem and all benefits.

Investment community and CSR support from Corporates

They can leverage the curated social enterprises. Investors and CSR teams may share the success stories, the impact areas of their interest and the measures they use in identifying the right enterprise to support.

Accelerators, Incubators, and Mentors ( AIM)

AIM participants work together with the SEE team to ensure high probability of success for the individual enterprise but also contribute to ensure a higher percentage of successful SE. Commercial engagements are also possible after the initial success is registered.

Look forward to you all being part of SEE

 

 

 

F8 Developer Conference 2017 : Big on Augmented Reality

 

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If you are wondering what happened at the F8 2017 and missed the whole conference, do not worry, we have it covered here.

Facebook announced that is going big on the Augmented Reality applications. The Camera, yes the camera in all the FB apps is the start of that journey. The camera, again, is an open platform for developers around the world to contribute to AR based applications using it.

The basic use cases laid out in F8 were about mixing the physical and digital reality by:

  • Overlaying Information – maps, directions, weather information
  • Digital Objects – Create new digital object based on context.
  • Enhancement – Enhance the images and videos based on context.

These basic use cases pose a variety of great applications that can be made using the Open AR platform the FB is providing.

A huge amount of AI is going to be used to make all this a reality. The future according to Mark is about helping people sharing anything and everything on the platform with ease. Some of the applications using the above mentioned use cases are already in beta testing and may see the light of the day soon.

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The AR applications showcased at the F8 were

1) Using Precise location – Build 3D objects in mapping using AI technique (SLAM) for localisation and mapping.

2) Create 3D effects from 2D photos – 3D scene created from photos can be managed to give it a panoramic effect, or change the lighting or any effect that allows your to express more.

3) Real time visual understanding using object recognition.

There are updates on Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, Facebook for Work, Facebook Lite, and the rest of the company’s portfolio.

The vision for FB going forward is bringing the communities together with use of Augmented Reality, AI and Virtual Reality technologies.

Create IOT products and solutions – Part 2

In my last article, I have talked about the challenges and oppurtunities of IOT industry. Now let’s talk about building an IOT product and  benefits of it in the market.

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How about building an IOT device?

Now let me also talk a bit about the process of building an IOT product. If you are thinking of building an air purifier, or a thermostat, or some smart lighting solutions for home, you are very likely to hit the first stumbling block as to how to go about the whole process. How to get a 3D design for the device, where to go for a prototype design, and how to get the electronics (the PCB part) done, and how to make the device talk and interact with various other devices like your mobile phone, etc.
 What you need is professional expertise in not one particular field, but many diverse fields. If you are a software engineer with some experience with coding, you will know writing software is not that difficult as all you need is a computer, and you could create wonders just sitting in home or office. Building a real, physical thing can be really tough & challenging. Not only it requires varied set of skill set, but also can cost much more to prototype, and test it out.

Steps to follow before going ahead

For the benefit of newbies to the field, I have listed down the steps generally followed in any IOT product development process.

  • Market Research
  • Conceptualization/Ideation
  • Design
  • Prototype (Schematic Design, Layout)
  • PCB Manufacturing
  • Procuring components & assembly of electronic circuitry
  • 3D printing of casing & outer facade of the product
  • Field Trials
  • Redesign & trials if needed
  • Marketing & Mass manufacturing

Loads of data is generated, but what to do with it?

Due to the large number of IOT devices around, it is quite as well expected that they will generate a huge volume of data. Question is how to make best use of the data captured, or how to make your device react to events triggered by actions of other users, or may be from the device owner himself through a mobile application.

Standards like the MQTT, AMQP, etc are the general protocols used for an IOT device or the cloud to communicate with each other. Both of them work on basic principle of publish/subscribe. The two parties subscribe to events, and whenever there is an update, or an occurrence of the event, the subscribing parties are notified.

Providers like Microsoft Azure, ABM, and AWS have all come up with their IOT platforms making it easy to monitor and control remote devices from click of a button. Being on the cloud, it gives IOT the ability to scale. The data being captured in the cloud can be analysed, and trends studied using Machine Learning algorithms and Artificial Intelligence.

Today it is possible to auto update the firmware of an IOT device without requiring any intervention from the customer.

How IOT will drive benefits for users?

Data generated from IOT devices are being continuously analysed and machine learning models are built to help in predictive analytics. Earlier emphasis was on preventive maintenance in industries, and anywhere else where machines were deployed. We used to ensure regular and timely checkups to ensure our machines are always in healthy state. But now with advancements in technology, based on the data captured, our machine learning prediction models can warn us in advance of a possible impending breakdown. A corrective action can be immediately triggered, and the machine is restored to good health much before breakdown.

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Today IOT driven processes paves the way for improvements in existing processes leading to higher customer satisfaction & safety leading to better profits for businesses. Customers delight and an increasing affiliation are invaluable assets to any business, and when IOT is able to help the business achieve that, its relevance will never be in doubt. No wonder Gartner Research predicts there will be more than 20 billion IOT devices by the year 2020.

Create IOT products and solutions – Part 1

It’s very interesting to see and understand how things are really working at the level of bytes and bits. In software, we rarely think about those details, as most of these things are abstracted so a software programmer can focus on just his piece while the hardware engineers and embedded programmers take care of making those intricate and complex circuit boards.

 

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Sometime back when we decided to do something in the space of IOT, we were complete newbies with absolutely no background, academic, or professional. But we learnt many things the hard way by trying, failing, and correcting. But perhaps as many people say, that may also be the best approach towards learning anything new.

Today with an experience of building an actual physical thing that listens, I feel more confident about the space, and our ability to replicate our success story for our clients as well. But what is that we build, and now a question of great debate, and subjectivity. I can perhaps think of some rules that an IOT product or initiative should bear in mind.

Before going forward, give it a thought

Does the device really help its customer? This is a very basic and moot question that every innovator and maker should ask themselves.

Does the product makes our life more safer, convenient, healthier, and happier? If the answer is yes for these questions, the product may find takers in the market.

A product must have a clear cut value proposition for its intended buyers. If the product is just a cool gadget, it will find utility only with a handful of users who will be very quick to move onto something more cooler as and when it’s available in market.

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Just having built something and pushing it off to the supply chain may not be of great help in building a sustainable business that will have a long term impact. One should think of constantly reinventing the product to make it better & more useful for its customers. Timely service, and a great customer support will go a long way in winning the confidence of the current active users, and the word of mouth publicity will help in winning more users till the product reaches a critical mass.

There are some challenges too

The challenge that we face today in IOT, especially industrial IOT is that existing chips that help the sensors transmit the data directly into cloud, consume a lot more power than what would be practical for widespread adoption in industries. But recent advancements in technology with the Qualcomm Cat M1 modules, and Verizon’s upgrading its infrastructure to allow ultra low band transmission at really affordable rates can be the right steps in the direction of making IOT really ubiquitous.

Security is another big challenge for mass adoption of IOT. Seeds of doubt about the device being sufficiently protected against hacking is one big reason why customers are still not able to fully give in to the idea of leaving their critical functions to a device. What if my smart locking system is hacked, and an intruder is able to hack his way inside my house?

An intrusion into house, or the smart lighting solution being hacked are still something not as much threatening as a possibility of a smart glucometer or a pacemaker being hacked. Risk of this nature can have life threatening consequences, and cannot be taken lightly.

These are valid questions which the IOT community will have to tackle head on. But I believe these questions or challenges are always there with any new technology. It takes time for ecosystem to mature to a level where issues of security are addressed, questions of viability, feasibility, and usability are addressed, and then mass adoption follows. The stage in which the current IOT development possibly is where developers and engineers worldwide are working in the direction of making IOT safer, and more useful for everyone. Soon it will be IOT for everyone.

Stay tuned for next article about some specific steps and questions to create an IOT Product.

XAVI : Your new smart home

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In this world of technologies you can imagine almost anything. Let’s take your home for example. After coming from your hectic day at work, home is the place where you want to spend your time in front of TV, watching your favourite channel peacefully without any distraction. On this very moment what if you need to move to switch on/off the light? Turn on the AC or check the time. What would you possibly think? Oh I wish i had a genie. Yes!! here is the genie to take away your pain and to make your life easy and simple.

Xavi is Mantra Labs’s proprietary software and hardware smart-home platform, letting you control many of your smart-home devices, including lights, TV, Air-conditioner and thermostats. It can be controlled not only via an app but also with your voice.

It is a device which makes for a much smarter TV viewing experience with the consumer querying the mobile app for things to watch or switch to a certain serial.

Currently, you can simply talk to Xavi via your app and ask it “Show me a list of English Action movies starting in next 15 minutes” and it will automatically list it down. Be it switching to your favorite show or watching yet another Friends rerun – just talk to the App and it will do the rest.

XAVI brings smart remote, smart bulb and smart clock for an automated home.

Xavi Remote: Xavi Remote can control TV’s, Air Conditioners and Bulbs for now. It gives you the three way pleasure that you might have only dreamt of, with a single gesture you can adjust your home’s temperature and switch off the lights to enjoy a peaceful movie. Yes! That’s how simple it becomes, when you have a Smart Remote.

Xavi Bulb: Xavi Bulb offers, dimming the light through buttons/sliders built within the application that controls it. Changing colors of the lights according to your mood is another thing a Smart Bulb is usually capable of.

Xavi Clock: Xavi clock could read your notification alerts and check other daily tasks. For example at evening, if you are coming from office, as soon as you are near your home- around 200-400 metres away, the clock would notify that your are about to reach home.

XAVI is in Prototype state however it won’t be long when it will be unleashed for consumers with an overall improved functionality.

Apart from these there are many other smart devices available in the market. See these 10 smart devices to make your home more smarter.

Latest Javascript frameworks in 2017

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Java script evolution continues

If you have been using Javascript you probably are aware but if you are picking it up again for another project of yours this article will help you know the best things that have happened to the technology recently.
Javascript has been constantly evolving to meet the challenges of the newer applications that use it. Listed below are some of the most important technologies to know this year.

JavaScript fundamentals

ES6:

Is a major update to JavaScript that includes several of new features. The current version of JavaScript is ES7 .

Built-in methods:

The beauty of these function are, you can use these functions with any Javascript built in object such as String , Number, Date, RegExp, Array.

Callbacks:

The functions are used to send messages about task completion to take further actions, for further processing based on the task.

Most popular javascript Frameworks

React

React makes it painless to create interactive UIs. React is based on component logic so you can easily pass rich data through your app and keep state out of the DOM. React can also render on the server using Node and power mobile apps using React Native.

Here are some of the React tools that are going to stay relevant for at least another year

Chrome dev tool:

Set of web authoring and debugging tools built into Google Chrome. Use the DevTools to debug and profile your site.

Babel:

This compiler used to compile ES6 and writing next generation javascript

Webpack:

Webpack is a module builder for latest JavaScript applications. It’s a project builder, Used to build React web app and angular projects also.

                                                        Angular2+

AngularJS has become one of the most popular open source JavaScript frameworks of web application development. Angular 2+ is the successor to the Angular framework.

Yoemon:

Angular project generator

Grunt:

Runs angular project in local server and compiles angular project

Bower:

Download required libraries for angular project throw Bower.

                                             

Node.js

Modernizing systems and processes has become a top priority for businesses across all verticals. In simplest terms, digital transformation is “the use of technology to radically improve performance or (business) reach.” Node.js is emerging as the de facto choice for companies looking to build the apps to achieve greater agility and drive Digital Transformation.
There are many great reasons to use Node.js. Here are two main of them, why you should love Node.js

  • If you are already a javascript developer or you know a javascript then you should start writing an API’s using Node.Js.
  • Node.Js is fast. It’s a JavaScript runtime that uses the V8 engine which allows you to build fast.

Keep checking back for more information on tech trends in Javascript, PHP and AI on http://www.mantralabsglobal.com/