Posts on May 2017

Android Developers: 3 latest new features in Android

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Many new updates happened for Android developers lately after Google I/O. Initially there was no restriction on some features but now they have updated them with some restrictions.

We have covered new features and the old features as well with new restrictions.

Here are the old features with new restrictions:

• Background Execution Limits

Whenever an app runs in the background, it consumes some of the device’s limited resources, like RAM. This can result in an impaired user experience, especially if the user is using a resource-intensive app, such as playing a game or watching a video.
To lower the chance of these problems, Android O places limitations on what apps can do while users aren’t directly interacting with them. Apps are restricted in two ways:

Background Service Limitations: When an app’s service is running in the background might consume device resources which may lead to bad user experience, to avoid these type of issues Android system applies a number of limitations on background services, this does not apply to foreground services, which are more noticeable to the user.
Broadcast Limitations: Apps targeted Android O can not use their manifest to register for implicit broadcasts. They can still register for these broadcasts at runtime, and they can use the manifest to register for explicit broadcasts targeted specifically at their app.

Note: The restrictions are applied by default applied to apps which are targeting Android O and in terms of other applications users can enable these restrictions from the Settings screen even if the app has not targeted Android O.

• Android Background Location Limits

Considering battery usage and user experience , background apps which are using Android locations APIs to fetch the user’s location will receive location updates less frequently when the app is being used in a device running Android O, developers who are using Fused Location Provider (FLP), Geofencing, GNSS Measurements, Location Manager, Wi-Fi Manager will get affected by this change.

• Notifications

  1. Notification Badges

    Notification Badges are the new way of notifying users regarding the new notifications arrived for a particular app, this will display badges on app icons in supported launchers which show notifications associated with one or more notification channels in an app, which the user has not yet dismissed or acted on.

  2. Notification Channels

    Using Notification channels developers can group their application’s notifications by category so that the user can apply few characteristics basing on the notification category. When you target Android O, you must implement one or more notification channels to display notifications to your users. If you don’t target Android O, your apps behave the same as they do on Android 7.0 when running on Android O devices.

Google says that the following characteristics can be applied to notification channels and that when the user assigns one of these, it will be applied channel- wide and they are as follows

  • Importance
  • Sound
  • Lights
  • Vibration
  • Show on lock screen
  • Override do not disturb

Here are some new features:

• New in UI and Styling

There are bunch of new features of UI and Styling are introduced in Android O and are as follows

1. Fonts

Android introduced fonts in XML through which we can use custom fonts as resources, You can add your custom font file in res/font/ folder to bundle fonts as resources and can access as a normal resource file and Android Support Library 26 introduce support for APIs to request fonts from a provider application instead of bundling files into your project which helps in reducing your application size
To use these font features on devices running Android API version 14 and higher, a developer needs to use the Support Library 26.

2. Auto Sizing Textviews

By using Support Library 26 Beta developers can now instruct to their app’s Textview to automatically increase or decrease the size to fit perfectly within the boundaries of the Textview.

3. Adaptive Icons

Adaptive icons can display app’s launcher icons in a variety of shapes across different devices for instance in Google Nexus the launcher icon might be in circular and in some Samsung device it might be squircle. Google says that with Android O, each device can provide a mask for the icon, which the OS can use to render all icons with the same shape. This will likely be embraced by OEMs(Original Equipment Manufacturer) who would like to have some unique looking home screens.

4. Autofill Framework

This framework will help the user by pre-filling the user information and user can save time as Filling out forms is a time-consuming and error-prone task. Users can easily get frustrated with apps that require these type of tasks. The Autofill Framework improves the user experience by providing the following benefits:

Less time spent in filling fields Autofill saves users from re-typing information.
Minimize user input errors Typing is prone to errors, especially on mobile devices. Removing the necessity of typing information also removes the errors that come with it.

• Picture in Picture Mode

In Android 7.0, Android TV users can now watch a video in a pinned window in a corner of the screen when navigating within or between apps whereas it was not available to other devices whereas from Android O Picture in Picture is available to all the devices, not just the Android TV.

• Kotlin For Android

Java is the mostly used programming language for the development of Android, When you run a Java application, the app is compiled into a set of instructions called Bytecode and runs in a virtual machine. Many alternative Languages has been introduced to also run on the JVM through which the resulting app looks the same for the JVM
JetBrains, known for IntelliJ IDEA (Android Studio is based on IntelliJ), has introduced the Kotlin language.Kotlin is a statically-typed programming language that runs on the JVM. It can also be compiled to JavaScript source code.

Why Kotlin For Android?

  • Interoperability with Java
  • Intuitive and easy to read
  • Good Android Studio Support
  • Safe to avoid entire classes of errors such as null pointer exceptions.
  • Less to write compared to Java
  • Safe to avoid entire classes of errors such as null pointer exceptions.
  • Versatile for building server-side applications, Android apps or frontend code running in the browser.

Stay tuned for more new updates on Android.

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