Category Archives: Going Mobile

Should you stop building on web and just build on mobile?

I recently came across a quote from a friend:

Stop building on web, start building on mobile.

If you’re a big fan of the web,  it could rage spark. But if you think deeply, and analyze the quote and the current situation of the web. The ‘web’ and ‘mobile’ is actually asynchronous. If mobile will evolve, so is the web.

Remember the Symbian phones?

Forget about Smartphones! Let’s go back to the days where Nokia rules the world. I can remember that i have been using a web browser to download Java games from a telco website.

As far as i remember, the website that i have been browsing on is not the same site that you will stumble upon these days using a smartphone. It’s responsive. It’s finger friendly. And it’s expensive because back then, there is no such thing as “unlimited” internet. It’s all KB charge, baby!

It’s the iPhone that changed the web

When the first iPhone was launched, it promised to carry a full blown browser on your fingertips. Steve Jobs once said that developers doesn’t need an SDK to build apps on the iPhone. Just use Safari, and you’re good to go.

But things got different when Apple introduced the App Store. And i believe that the unified application store is the only reason why the platform took off.

The web back then has no offline support

Back when the web was young and ‘unlimited’ internet was a dream, users wanted to use apps offline. The iPhone offers safari and developers then can build web apps. But developers aren’t happy. Users aren’t also happy. So Apple took the opportunity to revive the old symbian way on using your app. Get it from an ‘application platform’ and use it offline.

But things are different now.

Firefox OS is here.

Firefox OS is a great example of Web and Mobile working together in harmony. It’s not a dream, nor a beta project. But it’s a real open product. It exist. It’s a living proof that the Web is dead.

In fact, Firefox OS offers an Application Marketplace that is available on both Firefox OS and Firefox for Android, you are not tied to one platform. Firefox OS also offers offline capabilities for your apps. WebGL is also an interesting technology that works on Firefox OS when making advanced graphics. Firefox OS also offers cross platform notification that works on all platform.

And if you really want to monetize your ‘web app’ you can simply use Apache Cordova to port it to other platforms.

The web is matured and it keeps getting better

The web is accessible for all. It keeps getting better and better. It’s an open platform that everyone can dive in and contribute.

Instead of choosing and comparing Apple and Oranges, wouldn’t be nice if we just use the right tools for the right job?

The beauty and art of ensuring quality – The lessons learned about RaincheckPH

“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” – Aristotle

The christmas day is almost near and i’m actually writing this blogpost, the day after we had our christmas party at Voyager Innovations Inc. But in my case, it’s my first christmas party in a corporate world.

And that has nothing to do with quality. But in the last few weeks, the whole team behind RaincheckPH is hard at work ensuring that the app will NOT just work, but the goal here is to ensure that the app has to be stable, information displayed are accurate and should delight the user when they use it.

It might be easy to say that, specially on a blogpost like this but it’s really not. Delivering high quality software is a matter of working harmoniously with different people who shares the same vision with the whole team. I’ve learned a lot since then and i would love to share you the lessons learned while doing Q.A at RaincheckPH.

Don’t settle for less, do what it is right.

Doing Q.A needs a lot of patience. I mean it A LOT. The task itself is repetitive, and you don’t end with just one try. If you think that there is something wrong, report it. Don’t assume that the user will not notice it because eventually, they will.

It’s easy to discuss the smallest things discovered by YOU, rather than discussing the fault with the team coming from the END USER. Because what you will ship today will be judged according to “stars” coming from different users all over the country – or even the whole world.

Be the first user, over and over again.

I’ve been testing RaincheckPH on my personal test devices. In my case, i have two Android phones with one running Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and one running Jelly Bean (4.1) and i can say that ever since i’ve been involved on this project, i’ve been carrying two phones. My BlackBerry Z10 and my Jelly Bean phone (that was actually intended for testing apps but ended up as my second phone).

Why?

Because i wanted to “Feel” that i am the user, even if i am aware of what to do from the first place. I always wanted to experience that amazing feeling of excitement and curiosity, the way a user feels when he downloaded a new app. And i always wanted to feel that way over and over again when testing a certain app.

Be inspired

My inspiration would be the future. It may sounds funny, but think about it. You are working on app that will touch the lives of a million user. Who knows? It may change the way they look at technology. It may change their lifestyle. The way they navigate from day to day – and it all starts with YOU.

There are other ways to get inspired. But it’s only you who will discover it.

And lastly,

Enjoy

Because being inspired alone will not work. Because in reality, what you enjoy today will be your hobby tomorrow.

I hope you learned something new today! Go ship great apps and change the world!

Mozilla PH Dev Team at UE Manila for Firefox OS Workshop

The Mozilla Philippines Dev Team conducted a Firefox OS Workshop at UE Manila last Friday, September 27 2013. It was attended by Computer Engineering students and most of them are members of Society of Computer Engineering Students (SCpeS) an official student organisation at the University of the East – College of Engineering.


This event is somewhat unique to the team because this time we are teaching Firefox OS development to non-Information Technology and Computer Science students. The event was smooth because majority of the students knows how to make a web app using Web Technologies, so kristian lugtu, my co-speaker focused on making these web apps responsive and be adaptive to Firefox OS.


The event started at 10am as i was the first to discuss about the Mozilla Philippines Community and to be followed by Firefox OS Overview which discusses about the philosophy of Firefox OS and why it’s the start of the Open Web revolution on mobile.

Followed by Kemuel Joseph Domanog where he discussed about the Firefox Students Ambassadors program in the Philippines.


Then Kristian Lugtu discusses about making your first Web App with Mobile First in mind. He also made a template for students to follow and hack on while he demonstrates how to make a simple web app responsive.

After an hour of hacking, i came back to talk about using that web app and optimise it to Firefox OS. This time before i showed them how to write a manifest file and using that to test their apps on the Firefox OS Simulator, it was my first time to let my audience install the simulator. I did that because we were at the university’s computer lab and they have to experience how easy it is to install the simulator, so when they reach home after the workshop, i am confident enough that they know how to replicate it again on their own machines. Lastly, i also discussed about the benefits of Firefox Marketplace.


After the talks, we have a 2 hour app hacking session where they will have to use that template and make a new app out of it. It’s nice to have Ryan Ermita and Marcus Ang present at this workshop as they are both dedicated Mozilla Volunteers and act as Firefox OS mentors to help students with their first open web app. It was truly an interactive workshop! At the end of apps hacking session, there were 6 apps demoed in front of the audience.

And those who have presented received a Firefox string bag and Firefox phone case. Not only that but we also gave Firefox and Mozilla stickers to all attendees!

Over 40 student attendees. Truly it was an awesome experience for everyone! I can’t wait for the next Firefox OS events and open apps coming from my own alma matter! :)

I would like to thank Prof. Errol Antonio and Prof. Mary Ann L. Limkian for making this event possible! Kudos to everyone!

Check out our Flickr set for this event here.

Bored at the current Mobile Ecosystem Wars? Here are some new contenders…

Geeksphone Keon running Firefox OS. Image from TheNextWeb.com.

Yeah, there’s a lot of buzz happening right now in the mobile ecosystem, and everyone just want to have a slice of the marketshare. When you say “Mobile Wars” some people think it’s about Apple vs. Google doing legal battles, but in the mere fact, it’s not. It’s all about how people are adopting to a certain platform and use it in the long run.

But in the case of application development, some developers are moving from the big players into newer mobile platforms. They believe that there is a lot of opportunity in these emerging platforms, because first of all, there are small or even no app players to cater the needs of the user of a new platform, thus giving them a large audience impact when a certain platform launches on a specific country.

If you’re interested to know what these emerging platforms are, here’s a quick list.

BlackBerry 10 – BlackBerry’s second coming to the smartphone battle, based on QNX (The same technology that has been used in different industries). Developers can run Native Apps using the Cascades Framework or port games that has been written on C++. HTML5 is also an option for making an app. Got an existing app? Port your Adobe Air and Android apps to the platform! To learn more about these stuff, you can visit BlackBerry’s official website here.

Firefox OS – Mozilla’s official entry to the Mobile wars, but this time it’s about opening the mobile ecosystem to the web and cater current web developers to the platform. There are no native apps, which means if you want to make an app in Firefox OS, you can use your existing site (If your site is responsive to adapt the mobile screen, that is) or make one from scratch using Web Technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. To learn more about Firefox OS Development, you can visit Firefox Marketplace Developer Hub here.

Nokia Asha Platform – The Nokia Asha OS is made to cater low end devices, the first phone to have this operating system is the Nokia Asha 501. You can make native apps using Java ME but you can also write an app using HTML5. Learn more about Nokia Asha development here.

Ubuntu Touch – Based from WikipediaUbuntu Touch is a mobile interface for Ubuntu developed by Canonical Ltd. The interface is designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. The first consumer phone to have this operating system, is Ubuntu Edge (If you want one, you can actually join the growing list of pledgers). You can develop an app using native C++/QML or by using HTML5. Learn more about here.

Tizen – Based from WikipediaTizen is an operating system for devices including smartphones, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) devices, and smart TVs. It is an open source system that aims to offer a consistent user experience across devices. Tizen’s main components are the Linux kernel and the WebKit runtime. The Tizen project resides within the Linux Foundation and is governed by a Technical Steering Group (TSG) composed of Intel and Samsung. Learn more about Tizen App Development here.

Sailfish OS – Again, based from WikipediaSailfish is a Linux-based mobile operating system developed by Jolla in cooperation with the Mer project and supported by the Sailfish Alliance. It is to be used in upcoming smartphones by Jolla and other licences. Although it is primarily targeted at mobile phones, it is also intended to support other categories of devices. The first phone to have Sailfish OS is from Jolla. Learn more about it here.

The list doesn’t end there and there will always be a new challenger awaits as time unfolds. Developers, be quick to adopt. The revolution has just started.

Answering some Firefox OS Questions

(Photo from the Mozilla Philippines Community Facebook Page)

There’s been a lot of questions around Firefox OS development and that’s okay because a lot of developers are interested to build or port their apps on the platform. Also, not only developers are excited, but also consumers who believe that Firefox OS is the next big thing. This post aims to help you find answers, it may not be complete but i think the most essential things are covered.

If you’re a consumer, this is the best site to know more about Firefox OS: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/os/faq/

And if you’re a developer seeking for answers about the platform based on my own experience with the platform:

What IDE or SDK do i need in order for me to make a Firefox OS app?

You don’t need to install heavy IDEs or SDKs just to make a Firefox OS app. Just use Firefox now and install the Firefox OS Simulator (Surprisingly, it’s a browser add-on!) and use your favourite text editor and you’re good to go!

What programming language do i need to use in order for me to develop a Firefox OS app?

If you know how to make  a website and you’re familiar to HTML, CSS and JavaScript, then you are good to go on exploring the platform! But if not, you have to get a good knowledge and the right foundation by learning first the trinity of web development.

Also, by making your site/apps running on multiple screen, you have to make it responsive.

How do i get started on making apps for Firefox OS?

I made a list of useful articles you can explore and read on: http://www.aaroncajes.com/?p=387

How can i monetize my Firefox OS app?

You can set your app as a paid app or use the in-app payments API and sell your app for free. It really depends on your app’s business model.

 Where can i get support?

Join the Mozilla Philippines Development Group on Facebook.

Subscribe to the B2G Mailing List.

Follow and ask @MozHacks on Twitter.

 

More FAQS! Here’s one quoting from: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Firefox_OS/Firefox_OS_FAQ

What is Firefox OS?

It is a new mobile operating system built entirely using open web standards. It allows for every device function (calling, messaging, browsing, etc.) to be developed as an HTML5 application which can access the underlying capabilities of a phone (only available to native apps on other ecosystems).

How do I get a developer preview phone?

You can buy one on the Geeksphone website or if you are a Mozilla Rep you can request a Keon.

If I don’t want to buy a phone, can I still develop an app for Firefox OS?

Absolutely! You can test out your app on Android (using Marketplace for Firefox) or on your desktop using the Firefox OS simulator.

How does it compare to the final phone?

We are working with several partners to bring the phone to the general consumer market. We’ll have more information about those devices later.

Where can I download Firefox OS to try on my own phone?

See Building and installing Firefox OS.

How can I test my app on Firefox OS?

On Android or using the Firefox OS simulator.

What is the full list of device APIs?

Are you looking to standardize then?A large number of device APIs will be supported in the initial implementation of Firefox OS. A complete list can be found at https://wiki.mozilla.org/WebAPI#APIs.Standardisation is ongoing.

Are your device APIs being standardized for cross-platform use?

Yes, the APIs are the result of working with several partners and vendors and a few of them have already ended up in other platforms. Almost every technology company has the problem of enabling Web Apps to access the hardware that end users have and our implementations are a good starting point to make this happen for more platforms.

 

A Battle of Ecosystems: The Smartphone war has just begun

The real war has begun. It’s not all about OEM A vs. OEM B, it’s really all about the operating system that your phone runs. It amazes me that consumers today asks for what Operating System powers a certain smartphone and some of them are really meticulous when it comes to that.

One day i was in a mall in Makati, i was inside this cellphone shop that offers different kind sof smartphones. And i was eavesdropping on one customer nearby asking her friend if this certain android phone runs “Jellybean” or it’s still stuck with “Gingerbread” or “Ice Cream Sandwich” ! Back in the Nokia days, you could only hear those kinds of conversation with die hard phone fanatics! But now, you can hear the same type of conversation almost everywhere!

I totally agree that Marketing from OEM has a lot to do with this and why consumers today are really into technical specifications. People are sensitive enough to judge a certain phone if it’s fast or not, if it’s worthy of a buck or just a dump in the trash.

If that’s the case, i’m not really shocked when Samsung is funding Tizen, even though they already dominate the Android Marketshare. One couldn’t blame Samsung, even Google bought Motorola and even though they already have the Android platform, they are also investing their resources on ChromeOS. Nokia chose Windows Phone because CEO Stephen Elop believes this O.S was untapped and no OEM dominates it back then. They also released an updated Nokia Asha for their line of lower end smartphones. BlackBerry rejected the idea of using an existing mobile O.S and continued to develop and invest with BlackBerry 10. Mozilla believes that the web should be unlocked on Smartphones and there is a really big market in the lower end segment of smartphones, they are now developing Firefox OS, that runs apps on pure HTML5. Jolla, the finnish start-up releases a Sailfish OS smartphone. iOS on the other hand, only powers Apple products like the iPhone, iPad and the iPod touch but still counts an ecosystem for different Apple hardware.

I’m really excited about the outcome of the next generation of Smartphones, as i believe that the only way we could achieve true innovation is when there is competition. Looking forward, we will enjoy a more advanced technology that will help us with our daily lives and that will simplify the things we do today.

2013: A New Era for Mobile Computing

The year 2013 will be an amazing year for the mobile industry. New set of phones. New OS updates. New Platforms, and the next breed of mobile developers.

In the year 2013, we’ll see

Apple releasing iOS 7

Google releasing the next version of Android (Rumored: Key Lime Pie)

Microsoft releasing an update for the Windows platform (Codename: Blue) and the Windows Phone 7.8 update

 BlackBerry will launch BlackBerry 10

 and

Mozilla will be releasing Firefox OS.

It’s really awesome to know that we are truly living in the Post-PC era. :)