Google Starts Testing Android Instant Apps

Paul Ballard

26 Jan , 2017  

Android Instant Apps, the lightweight versions of Android apps that can be run without downloading, are now available in a limited run.

Google first shared the idea for Instant Apps at its I/O developer conference last year. The concept is that users can quickly and easily experience an app by simply clicking on a url associated with the app, without going through the hassle of downloading it.

“Instant Apps is an important part of our effort to help users discover and run apps with minimal friction,” reads a post on the Android developer blog.

Instant Apps from BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope and Viki are available to Android users as of this week, and Google says it will be expanding the experiment to more apps going forward. An SDK for building Instant Apps will be available “in the coming months.”

In the meantime, Google has outlined some steps Android developers can take to prepare their apps for Instant App adaptation, including removing unnecessary bulk and adding support for url-based navigation.

So are Instant Apps just a gimmick or do they provide value for users and developers? What are the lessons for other platforms? Sound off in the comments.… Read more

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What’s New in Android Studio 2.0

Paul Ballard

11 Apr , 2016  

Google has released a new version of its Android Studio aimed at helping developers build apps more quickly and efficiently for the wide variety of Android devices on the market.

Android Studio 2.0 previewed last November, with product manager Stephanie Cuthbertson saying at the time that the new version would respond to developers’ requests for a faster Integrated Development Environment.

That focus on speed is apparent in the version released Thursday, starting with the new Instant Run feature, which allows you to quickly see the effect of changes you make to code on a device or emulator, without necessarily having to reinstall the APK. Simply click the Instant Run button, and it analyzes how to most quickly deploy your changes. It works with any Android Device or emulator running API 14 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher.

Speaking of emulators, Google is providing a new, speedier one. “The new emulator runs ~3x faster than Android’s previous emulator, and with ADB enhancements you can now push apps and data 10x faster to the emulator than to a physical device,” product manager Jamal Eason wrote in a post on the Android Developer Blog. That’s good news, considering how much developers complained about emulator speed in the past.… Read more

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Six Things to Know About the Android N Developer Preview

Paul Ballard

10 Mar , 2016  

Does the N stand for Nutella, as Google SVP for Android Hiroshi Lockheimer hinted on Medium? We’re not sure. But the Android N Developer Preview, which Google unexpectedly dropped on us earlier this week, is getting positive reviews for a few of its new features. Here are some things to know about Android N:

  1. The early drop date has a purpose. Rather than waiting for May’s I/O developer conference to reveal Android N, Google wanted to gather developer feedback now so it can deliver the final version to device makers by summer. That gives developers time to start playing with the OS now, and will likely mean a more advanced discussion of N at I/O.
  2. It’s fast, according to those who have previewed it. “Everything is zipping around the screen much faster than we’re used to,” writes The Verge’s Dieter Bohn after installing the preview on a Nexus P.

  3. It supports multitasking within and between apps. There’s both a split-screen mode and a picture-within-a-picture mode for Android TV devices, and the elegance of the user interface is earning favorable comparisons to iOS. You can also enable drag-and-drop so users can drop content into your app. This feature should be especially useful on tablets.

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Google Abandons Oracle Java for OpenJDK

Paul Ballard

30 Dec , 2015  

The legal battle between Google and Oracle over Java APIs just took a new turn—and it could be good news for developers.

Google has opted to use OpenJDK, the open-source APIs for Java, in its new version of Android, VentureBeat reports. That’s a change from current versions, which are based on Oracle’s proprietary Java Development Kit.

“As an open-source platform, Android is built upon the collaboration of the open-source community,” VentureBeat quotes a Google spokesperson as saying. “We look forward to making even more contributions to the OpenJDK project in the future.”

The move comes in the wake of a copyright dispute between Oracle and Google that’s several years old. Oracle sued the search-engine giant in 2010, claiming copyright infringement for Google’s use of the Java APIs. Google has argued that it’s impossible to copyright APIs—they’re key to innovation, and therefore a public good—and that even if they are copyrighted, the fair use doctrine protects their use. The case is still making its way through the courts.

In the meantime, Android N developers can now look forward to a simpler app development process based on a common codebase for Java.

But as VentureBeat points out, the final outcome of the case could have implications far more wide-ranging than Google’s changes to Android.… Read more

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What is Windows-as-a-Service, and Why Should You Care?

Paul Ballard

28 Dec , 2015  

On December 8th, owners of the Lumia 950 received and Over-The-Air update to the Windows 10 running on their phones.  While updates like this may seem common place, this one was special because the software came directly from Microsoft with no intervention by the mobile service carriers.  While iOS users are able to update their phone OS directly from Apple with iTunes, an OTA update has long required carrier approval.  What’s more, carriers have usually wanted to add their own mix of utilities and spyware into the updates and as such are slower to roll out new versions which often include security and bug fixes.

Android is the perfect example.  This image from shows that as of December 7th, 2015 the most common version of Android is KitKat (aka Android 4.4) which was released in October of 2014.   What’s more alarming is that more than a third of handsets in use are using a version that is even older than that.  The problem is that with the widespread use of Android across thousands of devices, Google has lost control of the ability to keep devices running it’s mobile OS updated.  This month’s update of Windows 10 for Mobile is Microsoft’s first success in taking back some amount of control of its OS from the carriers.… Read more

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Top 7 Tweets from @IAmDeveloper

Paul Ballard

23 Oct , 2015  

If you haven’t seen the humor tweets from this parody Twitter account, here are seven of my favorites.   You can read all the posts at

IAmDeveloperRead more



Amazon Releases New Developer Web Services

Paul Ballard

14 Jul , 2015  

At the Amazon Web Services Summit in New York City last week, Amazon announced the availability of several new developer focused services.  These services include a hosted private Git repository service, a continuous deployment automation service, and a device testing farm service.

Amazon API Gateway


Amazon API Gateway handles all the tasks involved in accepting and processing up to hundreds of thousands of concurrent API calls, including traffic management, authorization and access control, monitoring, and API version management.

Amazon API Gateway is a service that allows developers to create a managed wrapper for APIs.  The service includes the ability to create a REST API mapping to non REST interfaces.  You can also connect the API Gateway services to Amazon Lambda to host services on shared resources.

AWS Device Farm

ha_hero_device-farmThe AWS Device Farm is a testing service for FireOS and Android apps that will run either a set of built-in tests or you can customize the tests you want to run on multiple devices including Galaxy phones, LG phones, Galaxy Tablets, and dozens more.  These are not virtualized devices but the actual hardware from various manufacturers.

Unlike emulators, physical devices provide a more accurate understanding of how users interact with your app, by taking into account factors such as memory, CPU usage, location, and modifications done by manufactures and carriers to the firmware and software.

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Developer Lifestyle

Wintellect’s Jeff Prosise Interviewed on!

Paul Ballard

17 Jun , 2015  

Wintellect Co-Founder Jeff Prosise was recently a guest on the latest episode of Coding 101 on  Father Robert Ballecer who calls himself the “Digital Jesuit” interviewed Jeff with Lou Maresca from Microsoft and they covered many topics starting with how Jeff got started with computer science having come from an engineering background before getting caught up in PC programming on the Commodore 64.  They also discussed some of the challenges faced by developers in Jeff’s experience including how process or more precisely the lack of appropriate process is often the biggest impedence to success.

The discussion turned to building cross platform applications and Jeff discussed how he moved to Xamarin and Xamarin Forms development.   While taking questions from the audience, he give this excellent advice for developers who are wondering whether they should follow the money to iOS or Android.

 Go where your passion is, because at the end of the day you’re going to have the greatest chance of success if you are doing something you’re passionate about.

For more nuggets of wisdom from one of the most experienced software experts in the industry, check out the full interview at… Read more

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Microsoft Details Bridges to Windows Universal Apps

Paul Ballard

30 Apr , 2015  

The rather lackluster Day 2 keynote from Build 2015 was short on big announcements as they looked to drive home the message of the power of the Windows Universal Platform including a few more details on the bridges they are building for Web, Android, and iOS developers to move their apps to Windows.

Day 2 started out with Steve Guggenheimer and John Shewchuck on stage highlighting apps built for Windows 10 including accelerometer equipped air drum sticks being built by Muzik with help from Questlove.  After several video testimonials that crossed the  “meaningless hype” barrier about halfway through, the audience was eager to “change gears”.  David Treadwell came on stage for a more in-depth look at building Windows Universal apps and started by getting the audience rolling by letting them in on a bit of an inside joke about how Windows 10 is bringing back overlapping windowed apps all the way from 1986.

The last release should have been called Window 8.1 — David Treadwell

Kevin Gallo then proceeded to walk through building a single app which supported the features of every Windows 10 device including the 84″ Surface Hub, desktop PC, Surface Tablet, Windows Phone, Raspberry Pi, XBox 360, and HoloLens.  … Read more

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Microsoft Continues Push To Win Over Developers at Build 2015

Paul Ballard

29 Apr , 2015  

Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella took the stage at Build 2015 today and with a little help from his Microsoft colleagues made the strongest pitch yet for why all developers should build apps for Windows 10.

Build 2015 kicked off with a bang today as the three hour long keynote showcased Microsoft’s continued emphasis on empowering developers to build apps for any OS or device as well as how Windows 10 will fulfill the promise of a unified experience across devices.

Satya Nadella started the keynote with a description of his vision for Microsoft and the three areas of focus for the Build 2015 keynote which were Azure, Office, and Windows.

Azure Adoption

First up was Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform.  Scott Guthrie provided some updated statistic for the adoption of Azure including the fact that Microsoft has Azure data centers in 19 regions around the globe, more than AWS and Google combined.  Azure has 90 thousand new subscribers each month and hosts 50 Trillion objects in their cloud storage, and have passed 425 million tenants in their Azure Active Directory service.  They’re also up to 3 million developers using the Visual Studio Online service to host their code and manage their development projects.… Read more

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