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The JIT of N: How Android’s ART Will Be Faster?

May 30, 2016 1:18 PM

If you’ve read some of my posts in the past, you know I have a near-obsession with mobile app start time. And I know I’m not alone there. It’s this generation “We can lend a man on the moon” most favorite complaint – It’s 2016, how can it be we’re still waiting for apps to launch?

Well, looks like indeed I’m not alone. I’m in good company with the nice folks over at Google / Android, who are doing some nice things to improve app start time.

One of the most interesting things I’ve heard in both keynote and sessions at Google I/O two weeks ago was how the ART virtual machine has improved and how well it’s going to affect both start time and system update time. Alongside the introduction of Android Instant Apps, it looks like Android is looking to dispose of any unnecessary waiting time.

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Key Notes from Google IO’s Keynote

May 19, 2016 7:17 AM

Google IO is the ComicCon of devs. Being there is being square and damn proud of it! The three-day hoopla was kicked off this morning with the much anticipated two hour keynote speech at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View and I am glad to say I was there for every syllable of it.

I’ll be honest – when Sundar Pichai took the stage, I was giddy as a schoolgirl, ready to throw my shirt on the stage like your common average groupie.

And then they proceeded to blow my mind. If you thought Google was seeing and hearing everything before, the announcement of Google Home, as well as the new messaging app Allo (or the counterpart video chat app Duo and its knock-knock feature to let you see the caller’s video before answering), emphasized that Natural Language Processing is the future and what Google is all about in 2016. This was definitely not one for the paranoids who worry machines are about to rise up against us J

The second hour of the keynote focused on advances regarding mobile, which is really what caught my attention. Those devices that have become the center of our universe are what drew me to IO in the first place, and there were some interesting notes to take from this particular keynote.

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What’s New with the New ‘Google Play Developer Policy’?

April 27, 2016 2:25 PM

Google have recently done an Extreme Makeover Edition of their Play Store developer policy, completely redesigning the policy website. If you hadn’t taken a look, you should. Starting March 1st, policies and regulations have been made much clearer, and the Google Play experience has been almost completely revamped to become much more developer friendly.

While it may be the facelift that draws you in (the new site is definitely an upgrade to the long list of bullet points it was in the past), it’s the context that should catch your eye. When you look deep down beneath the surface, you’ll see the change to policies themselves is relatively minor. It’s the overall attitude that changed.

If I have to summarize the new policy website in just one word, it would definitely be – transparency.

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The 3 Surprises Hidden in Your App’s Start Time

April 13, 2016 2:59 PM

What more is there to say about the mobile app start time? I’ve already written about it in the past, describing our research about what makes up the time from the moment you click on an app’s icon until you get a visual feedback.

But when Samsung’s Innovation Center in Tel-Aviv offered us the chance to record a podcast, we knew it had to be about the start time. After all, listening is better than reading, right? So Ronnie Sternberg, Maya Mograbi and myself headed over to Samsung offices to embark on a conversation about the mobile app start time. And what can I tell you? It was fun!

Some interesting points were made, not all of which were covered in my original post…

SafeDK is broadcasting from TLV Samsung’s innovation center , suppprting Israeli High Tech professionals, communities, entrepreneurs and startups.

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Don’t Crash the Party: How to Ensure Your App’s Stability?

March 30, 2016 4:13 PM

App crashes are a developer’s worst nightmare. Though it happens to everyone at one point or another (yes, including the top apps), it is still unbearable.

There’s no other way to say it: The cold harsh truth is that mobile apps’ quality and performance impact the bottom line. It’s what will make users decide to come back. Crashes, especially of the repeated kind, drive the uninstall numbers high and drive your users to run away.

Fortunately, it’s not solely up to the gods. There’s plenty you can do to minimize this phenomenon: from familiarizing yourself with the most known and common causes for mobile app crashes to making sure you’re even aware of your own crashes, you can make your app more stable with a relatively small investment.

A crittercism research has found that not only do 47% of apps crash over 1% of the time, but 32% also have a crash rate of over 2%. If that sounds excessive, it probably should.

Now let’s be honest: Everybody bugs. We know that for a fact. But statistically speaking, knowing almost half of the apps out there are so susceptible to unhandled bugs is somewhat daunting. And it also means that bugs aren’t unique to new-comers. No, they happen to old-timers, big and small, as well. So whether you’re established or brand new, a long-timer or a first-timer, you must make sure that your app does not only supply the content users crave, but also provides a frustration-free environment. Therefore, making it crash-free (or at least crash-low) should be at top of your priority list.

Crittercism Research Found that 47% of apps crash 1% of the timeImage source: Crittercism Continue Reading

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to StackOverflow

February 22, 2016 3:28 PM

A little less than a year ago, it finally happened to me too. I stumbled upon a question that even Dr. Google couldn’t answer. No search result seemed to fit. So after years of standing on the sidelines, I signed up to StackOverflow. What’s StackOverflow? Well, for those of you who are new here on Earth, it’s a brilliant question and answer site for programmers.

So I asked my question. And then, armed with my very own StackOverflow profile, I figured the next step should be to give a little back. After all, the community has always been there for me. Why not do the same for them?

So I did. And man, ho man, the things I’ve learned once I crossed the threshold.  Two things in particular surprised me the most: The first was the engagement. Every answer I gave was almost immediately followed by additional people commenting and relating to my answer; the second was the fact that so many people worldwide got completely chastised, immediately after posting their first question ever. Their questions were muted or deleted, and their entire first step in the big vast stack exchange universe left them with a bad aftertaste.

In fact, ‘newbies’ common mistakes inspired me to write down my thoughts, talk about these little pitfalls that have surely frustrated anyone who’s been hanging around the StackOverflow watercooler long enough.

So allow me to share with you some of the things I’ve seen, once past the velvet ropes.

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6 New Year’s Resolutions for Mobile App Developers

December 31, 2015 4:16 PM

Welcome 2016! The new year is finally here.

For some, the Gregorian’s calendar birthday is an event worth celebrating as much (if not more so) than their own, while others may dismiss it as nothing more than a simple change of digits. But let’s admit something – when a new year arrives, it doesn’t go unnoticed. With everyone around rating the past year’s best and worst in numerous categories, I too find the occasional thought popping in, asking myself “what can I do different, better, from now on?”

So it got me thinking. I’ve been enthralled in the world of mobile development for quite some time now. I’ve seen things; I’ve done some; I’ve been around the mobile block.

Thinking of programming in general, and mobile programming in specific, I’ve gathered these 6 New Year’s resolutions that are not only how I wish to better myself, but also how I hope my fellow app developers are nicer to one another, code-wise.

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Using SDKs? Here’s How They Could Slow Your Start Time

October 19, 2015 7:39 PM

Time’s a funny concept. In my everyday life, I hardly ever notice when individual seconds go by. I have to be really anxious that I’m late, drawing a blank during a test or sitting in a dentist’s waiting room in order to feel the seconds slipping through my fingers.

Or I could be using a smartphone. If there’s one thing that can cause the ordinary calm person to lose his temper, is waiting for his phone to respond. Yes, me too… The longest moments of my day are spent waiting for an app to launch once I clicked on its icon. If I need to check when the next bus is or order a taxi, for instance, my foot begins to stomp and my fingers start fidgeting.

In Android, for instance, the launch timeframe is the interval between the application class’s onCreate and the launcher activity’s onStart. Only once onStart has been completed, will the lucky user view the opening screen. This timeframe can span from a mere couple of milliseconds to several, noticeable seconds.

 

Android sdk tools – onCreate and onStart

The user first views a visual response from the app only once onStart has completed
At SafeDK we’re very much aware of the fact that app developers dread these long seconds until their app gives the faintest sign of responsiveness. It’s why we placed the “app start distribution” at the top of our live data features menu. We measure the above interval and provide information about the extent to which third-party SDKs prolong this waiting period. And boy, we discovered some surprises…

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Android Developer? Here is what to pay attention to when using Google Play Services

September 21, 2015 8:09 PM

Most Android developers use Google Play Services. In a survey we run at SafeDK, we found that nearly 70% of all Android apps have at least one package of Google Play implemented, and often even more than that. From ads to analytics, through support of social media, cloud and push notifications, Google Play Services offer app developers a variety of capabilities, and it’s great. Having said that…there is also a downside to all this goodness.

In order to offer such rich support, Google Play Services module is comprised of many individual packages, and contains a whopping 29,000 method count which is problematic due to the 65K limit issue.

The Unbearable Lightness of Multidexing

Interestingly enough, based on SafeDK’s big data, we found that approximately half of the Android apps out there integrate the full module of Google Play Services, but actually use very few of the packages it contains. Naturally, Android developers would want to optimize their Google Play Services selection…

I’ve written about how to deal with this issue, in a previous post where I provided some insights on how to identify the packages that are right for you. I also touched on the number of methods each package adds to your app. 

But now, Google has released a new version of Google Play Services. And while some things have changed, the bottom line has barely shifted:

  • It still adds a large number of methods to your app.
  • You still must use the large “base” package in order to use any package.
  • You still have to use the entire play services (can’t pick-and-choose) to continue using the deprecated appstate package.

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The Marshmallows Are Coming: New Permissions Model is Almost Here

August 19, 2015 7:35 PM

Earlier this week, Google ended months of speculations and announced Android M will be decorated with fluffs of Marshmallow. And with the big name revealed, the official version has been released and it’s time for app developers to make the necessary adjustments towards the new version, set to hit mobile devices late this fall.

What adjustments are those? Well, perhaps the biggest and most exciting one is the new permissions model.

Since its’ inception, Android has employed a then innovative permissions approach. Each sensitive component was wrapped with its’ own set of permissions and each application had to both inform the user of what it will access, as well as request his approval for such accesses. Sensitive data like user’s personal information or location, as well access to the user’s own files or phone records, were no longer done in secret behind the scenes. This was certainly a big important step up from the way things used to be (and still are) with computer applications.

However, Android’s permissions model also had a few stings:

  1. It bombarded the user upon app installation with the often long and daunting list of permissions.
  2. It was a package deal – an ‘all or nothing’ situation.
  3. It was an ever-growing mayhem – Many actions were split into several permissions (for instance, read vs. write) and as features and capabilities continued to grow, so did the complex permissions model.
  4. Android displayed its’ own description of the permissions, a description that sometime sounded scarier than it was for the casual user.

With Marshmallow, that’s all about to change. Let’s see what it’s all about…

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