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Ingress is a mobile game made for Android handsets that needs more physical strength to play than any other mobile game. It is a game not only for men but also for women. If you are a member of any Sri Lankan Ingress community, you may find how low the number of female appearances are and you will realize how important it is to have a good blend of men and women in a team since Ingress is not for lonely and male players.

Women too are as important as men in this society and so too in cyber world. As a result of the vast penetration of information technology to the masses, it made local women more powerful on par with equally skilled men here today. Sri Lankan Ingress community is a good stage to show off women’s power to the world, because Ingress is a globally recognized mobile game played by millions of people around the world.

It has now grown up with female players from both factions, say the Enlightened (Green) team and the Resistance (Blue) team. Two months after the International Women’s day, when one of the renowned Sri Lankan Ingress team was able to secure the Colombo cell in Interitus global anomaly, they have once again made a big leap by taking the initiative to gather all local female players of Enlightened faction together who have been individually playing Ingress to make the first ever ladies only Ingress portal in Sri Lanka on 23rd of May at Independence Square, Colombo. This attempt could clearly highlight the female power of Sri Lankan Enlightened team and it was a 100% Sri Lankan effort without the aid of any foreign players.

Eight ladies from Enlightened team who made the first female only portal in Sri Lanka.
Agents @anuRoX, @SuperNando, @lightwillow, @doomblastic, @unsalgado, @tizzyrubix, @Kveykva, @Zensus
(not shown in order) participated for this meetup.

First female only portal in Sri Lanka

First female only portal in Sri Lanka

 

In Ingress, portals are the main base of the game and they are described as statues, unique architectures, special outdoor buildings, historical places, monuments and places of worship. Therefore players have to physically travel near such portals. Hacking a portal provides beneficial items to players and the ownership of a portal can be claimed by attacking a portal owned by the enemy team. That is called capturing a portal. To capture, a player has to deploy up to eight resonators to give life to a portal. These eight resonators can either be placed by one player or a group of eight players.

Some chit chat during the Enlightened women’s meetup

Unlike in other countries, Sri Lankan Enlightened and Resistance teams are mostly male dominated and due to day-night traveling around the country and lack of understandability on first sight, there is a difficulty of attracting women towards Ingress. Having such a situation, the Enlightened team was able to recruit local female players to their faction and the final outcome was making the first ever female only portal following the aforementioned way by placing eight resonators by eight Sri Lankan ladies. This attempt has brought so much public recognition plus honor to Sri Lankan women and it was a better attempt of inviting more women to play Ingress.

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    Let’s be honest. We all love software updates on our smart devices. Be it Android, iOS or Windows Phone, we all love to run the latest OS version. It is surprising because, not so long ago when we were all using feature phones made by Nokia or Sony Ericsson (now Sony), we never bothered about any such OS updates. But the smartphone era has changed the way we see our handsets. We do a lot more than making a call or sending a text message on a smartphone.

    iOS distribution across devices

    iOS distribution across devices
    (source: https://developer.apple.com)

    OS features define which platform we choose. And new updates to the system software means new and improved features. But getting updated to the latest OS on your device is not fun always. Especially if you are on Android. Take for example Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of Android which debuted at the end of October 2013. As of May 2014, only around 8.5% of Android devices run KitKat (4.4.x). On the other hand, iOS 7, the latest version of Apple’s iOS, which saw public release in mid September, 2013, runs on at least 88% of iOS devices(7.x.x).

    Yes, Apple does have an advantage since they build their own hardware and software. On the other hand there are a number of manufacturers (or OEMs – Original Equipment Manufacturers) with 100s of Android devices under their brand name with varying hardware specifications. And providing the latest software to all those devices is harder than you might think. But lets focus on high end devices or flagships. You spend a good amount of money. But there are times you have to wait for months to receive your updates from the date Google announces a new version of Android. So why does this happen? Why does it take so long for your OEMs to provide software updates? Few months ago both Sony and HTC tried to shed some light into what actually goes behind the whole process. I’ll try to present a breakdown based on these reports:

    Android platform distribution across devices

    Android platform distribution across devices
    (source: http://developer.android.com/)

    Before we get into the process, note that android devices can be categorized into 4 main categories.

    1- Carrier Devices - Devices that are released for/by a particular carrier (like the Dialog branded devices in Sri Lanka). These devices are locked to the network, most of the time. They may be sold on a contract at subsidized prices. And the updates are pushed by the carriers with support from OEMs. (This category is not seen in our local market. Even Dialog’s self branded devices are not latest flagships)

    2- Unlocked Devices – the regular devices you get in the market. Sold by country dealers or distributors for the manufacturers. The OEMs are responsible for updating these devices.

    3- Nexus Devices – Sold directly by Google via Google Play (There were times before Google Play, when manufacturers sold it. Still some do in countries where Google Play is not present). Updates are pushed directly by Google. Updates usually arrive as soon as a new Android version is announced.

    4- Google Play Edition Devices – Once again, sold by Google via Google Play, These devices are based on manufacturer models (i.e flagships) except they run mostly pure Android. Updates are mainly pushed by Google, with help from the OEMs.

    Now to the process. Carrier edition devices go through a complex process to get updates. We are not going to talk much about them since they are not much relevant here. Also the carrier branded ones are locked to that particular network, so you can’t use them in a different country.

    The regular unlocked devices have the largest market here. Nexus devices too are catching up locally, as of late. Even though Google Play edition devices are not widely available, that does not mean they cannot be used here. They are basically unlocked flagships with a nexus feel.

    The update process can be divided into 5 phases.

    Phase 0 – Evaluation

    This is when Google releases the Platform Development Kit (PDK) to the OEMs or hardware partners. The PDK is usually released at least 2 months before a major android version is announced, enabling hardware manufacturers to come up with innovative ideas for their devices. This also means the hardware partners will actually know what’s in store for the next big OS release. And some time after (around two months) the PDK is released, Google announces the newest version of Android. Major android versions are usually released along with new Nexus hardware (smartphone/tablets). And Google also announces update to existing Nexus devices. This updates starts rolling out (via OTA) globally within few days of the announcement. This actually completes the update process for Nexus devices, which is pretty fast.

    Once the OS is announced, Google provides source codes to the OEMs and the chipset manufacturers (like Qualcomm). The OEM will evaluate the source code to see the requirements. The chipset manufacturer plays an important role here. they will evaluate and decide whether to support the newest version on their chipsets and if so which models will actually support. (In the case of Nexus devices, these are done in-house at Google before announcing the updates). The chipset manufacturer may take their time delaying the process.

    Phase 1 – Development.

    At the early stages of this phase the chipset manufacturer will announce (to the OEMs) which of their chipsets will support the new OS. If any of their chipsets are excluded from this support, then whichever the device that is powered by that chipset, will be excluded from the update. If the chipset manufacturer decides to support the OS, they will go ahead and release the necessary drivers along with optimizations. And the chipset manufacturer will release what is known as a Modified Board Support Package (MSP) to the OEM.

    Much of the work required to update the Google Play Edition devices ends here. Since they essentially run an unadulterated version of Android, the process is shorter, and goes directly to Phase 3.

    Phase 2 – Integration

    This phase involves the regular devices and the ones specially designed/modified for carriers. It is in this step that the OEMs decide whether to support  the new OS and if so on which devices. They also release a maintenance release (MR) and assign teams to work on integrating the OS with their own custom UI skins (i.e Sense by HTC, TouchWiz by Samsung). This is an important step since this defines how the OS will look and function on the device. If the OEM decides to exclude support for certain models, those devices will not get any update. They do it for various reasons, including that – continuous updates to older devices has a chance of affecting sales of newer models. It is also in his phase that OEM works with carriers to add any modifications to the OS to support carrier exclusive features (read: bloatware).

    Phase 3 – Testing/ Certification

    During this phase all versions of devices (including GPE) go through internal testing. If any issues or critical bugs are found, a newer version is created and tested again. Once done,more testing and certifications are done by Google and other players like regulators. If this process is a success, then Google issues a Technical Acceptance (TA). For carrier versions, a TA is issued by the carrier too.

    Phase 4 – Push to end users

    And now it is time to roll out the update! Updates are mostly done as OTA (Over The Air) and carrier updates are handled by carriers along with OEM. OEMs handle the updates for the regular devices while Google come into play when GPE devices are updated.

    So, now you get an idea as to how the update process works in the background. It is obvious such a lengthy process requires time, since it involves multiple parties. And there is no surprise that the OEMs take a long time to release updates. Sometimes Google might actually release another version of android by the time this process comes to an end. All hail Nexus!

    Check out the detailed infographic by HTC, describing the process, here.

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    Young Sri Lankan duo,  Mihil and Ruvin Suriyappreuma who are nine and twelve may have become the youngest Android Apps developer siblings in the world. They have released their first two apps based on Android OS for Android mobile devices and are now available to be downloaded from Google Play Store free of charge.

    According to Daily FT they have taken over the record from two brothers who were ten and twelve years old, when together publishing one iOS app for Apple devices. Mihil and Ruvin are studying at Gateway College Colombo and their apps are branded  ‘RAMPS’ in Google Play Store, which is the acronym for ‘Ruvin and Mihil – Play Smart.’ Their apps Cool Times : A fun way of learning multiplication for kids and Family Photo : A fun album for the whole family are now available to be downloaded from Play Store.

    We wish the young App Developers all the very best and we await to hear some ground breaking feats from them in future.

    Source: Daily FT

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    Android holds more than three times the market share of iOS when it comes to smartphones. Well, Android has been leading the race for some time now. Availability and affordability have played a huge part in this development. But market share is not everything. Take ‘mobile Ad traffic’ – Apple’s iOS has been generating much more Ad traffic than Android for a long time. And thus more and more advertisers preferred iOS over Android, to market their products and services, which ensured that Apple earned more advertising revenue from iOS than Google from Android. But times appear to have changed in favor of Android lately.

    Smart-device Ad Traffic - Q1 2014 (Source: Opera Mediaworks)

    Smart-device Ad Traffic – Q1 2014 (Source: Opera Mediaworks)

    According to the latest quarterly report from the leading Ad network, Opera Mediaworks, Android has finally become the top smart-device platform with highest share of mobile Ad traffic. Android smartphones and tablets have managed to capture 42.83% of total smart-device mobile Ad traffic in Q1 of 2014, up from 37.71% during Q4 of 2013. Android was leading the ‘mobile phone’ Ad traffic volume during the 4th quarter of last year, but Apple’s tablet traffic made sure Android didn’t reach the top in overall volume. This is the first time Android has grabbed the top slot for ‘smart-device’ (phones+tablets) Ad traffic volume. Apple managed to capture 38.17% of the mobile Ad traffic, down from 43.39% in Q4 of 2013.

    Traffic Share vs Revenue Share - Q1 2014 (Source: Opera Mediaworks)

    Traffic Share vs Revenue Share – Q1 2014 (Source: Opera Mediaworks)

    Apple may not be worrying much with these numbers, though, since they are still leading the race when it comes to the total revenue earned from the Ad traffic. Apple is continuing to get more than 50% of the total revenue (through iPhones and iPads), despite drop in traffic. iPads make around 10.6% of the revenue while Android tablets make only around 1.64%.  Overall Android made around  33.46% of the Ad revenue. It is also notable that Android has seen some steady growth during the last few quarters. It is expected that this change will attract more advertisers and developers towards Android OS.

    Samsung, unsurprisingly, remains the leading device maker with more than 60% of the Android Ad traffic coming from their devices. The report also notes that Social networking services attract more ‘Ad traffic volume’, than any other app categories. But most of the ‘Ad revenue’ comes from the Arts and Entertainment category. When comparing traffic from different geographical areas, Asia Pacific region continues to hold a steady second place behind US market. For those who are interested in learning more on the ‘Mobile Advertising Traffic’, you can check the quarterly reports at the source here.

     

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    As usual, Google has published the updated data on Android platform distribution numbers. The latest report, available on the Android Developer Dashboard, is based on data collected during a 7 day period ending on 1st of April, according to Google. The latest version of Google’s mobile OS, Android 4.4 (KitKat) now hold 5.3% of the share. This may sound like an underwhelming number for an OS version that was released around 5 months ago. But as many of us know, Android updates are affected by multiple factors. There are various parties including the device manufacturers and service providers, apart from Google, who control these software releases. The good news is that KitKat has actually seen a growth of more than 50% within a month, compared to the 2.5% share it held a month ago.

    Android Platform Distribution Numbers - April 2014

    Android Platform Distribution Numbers – April 2014

    Overall Jelly Bean versions (4.1.x, 4.2.x, 4.3) control around 61.4% of the total share, which is a very slight decline from the 62% share they held a month ago. From the older versions, Ice Cream Sandwich holds 14.3% of the share while “more than three year old” Gingerbread still holds 17.8% of the share (down from 19%, a month ago).

    What is important to note about this data is that it reflects only the devices that run the latest Play Store App, which is compatible with Android 2.2 and above. So, devices that still run Android versions older than Android 2.2 (less than 1% as of August 2013 according to Google) and devices that doesn’t come with support to Google Play Store (Amazon’s Kindle Devices, Latest Nokia X series and many more devices coming from China etc.) are not reflected in this data.

    For developers who are interested, the dashboard provides more data on screen sizes and Open GL Version among Android devices too.

     

    Source: Android Developer Dashboards

    Hi guys, this time I’ll write about the new Android Wear, which was announced last week. So what is it all about?

    Its a new approach by Google to bring a new concept by creating a new development area with targeting only wearable devices.

    It’s not a completely new OS, its the same android but made specifically for wearable device software development.

    ‘Google Says that the Android Extends to Android Wear. Richer Experience for the Wearable devices’ -


    So this time, there are 2 types of designs unlike the galaxy gear and smart watch 1 and 2. You can see a circle one and a traditional square screen. As I have heard the square one is going to be manufactured by LG, which has less spec and smaller price tag, whereas the circle one will be made by Motorola with high specs.

    For developers, Android wear SDK developer preview has been released, so you guys can download and try it out. Which will be a great experience in the future when the device is out in the market.

    So with the help of the official article I managed to find out that you can do the below shown basic functionality.

    functionalities

    It does not mean that you have to learn anything new, you also can use the old APIs

    ‘You can also trigger your notifications contextually using existing Android APIs. For example, use geofences to provide glance able information to your users when they are at home, or use the activity detection APIs to send messages to your users’ wrists while they are bicycling.’

    So what are you waiting for, register for developer preview, download the sdk and start developing.

    :)

    Reference : Android Wear|Path of a Coder.com

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    Lahiru, a Java Tech lead with over 8 years of experience in enterprise software development, currently is working as a lead Android Developer at Exilesoft.

    More info is accessible here.

    Stay tuned with the Live Blog for detailed and Live updates.

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    Nokia, prominent for its Windows phone series today unveiled its first Android phone, Nokia X. This was unveiled in the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and is said to be the first of several Android products from Nokia. Nokia X will cost around $12o and will be mainly targeting the emerging markets.

    Nokia Android phones will not run the typical Android that needs Google’s services as an integral part. They are running an open source version of Android which is said have zero ‘Googleness’, and which allows integration of Microsoft services.

    Nokia-X-Dual-SIM-front

    Mashable quotes:

    “Nokia X is a new affordable smartphone family from Nokia,” explains Jussi Nevanlinna, vice president of marketing for Nokia’s phones. “X stands for ‘crossover’ between Microsoft cloud, Android apps and Nokia. When we say family, we really mean it. During 2014 you’ll see a number of products arriving in this family.”

    Nokia-X-Dual-SIM-Fastlane

    Everything looks exciting and planned from Nokia’s end. We will publish a full review of Nokia X in the near future.

    Source: Mashable | Images: Nokia

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      It’s been more than three months since the Nexus 5 has made an official public appearance, to be precise its release on October 31st last year, allowing people to place orders directly from Google’s play store and the pure Google experience that is stuffed inside this gorgeous flagship device has dramatically changed the way people look at mobile devices.

      The Nexus story was quite a little bit old by now but when you look back how it has changed over time was pretty amazing. We have come a long way since the first Nexus device suitably named to the Nexus One announced in 2010. Now we are in the new generation of apparently, ultra powerful, ever evolving smartphones at this point. Nevertheless for whatever reason, when Google was going to release their new version of the Nexus device along with their sweetest version of Android layered around it into this new era, they didn’t make a big deal about it with announcements and subsequent releases. For this search engine giant, publicity was never needed to be sought and still their recent Nexus devices sold out in minutes like hot dogs out of the stove.

      Nexus-5-Press-Image-005-1280x874

      The Nexus 5, with its sleek and smooth look managed to captivate the prospective users even before it hit the market officially.

      After the successful Nexus 4, it’s clear that Google has built up a relationship with LG for the following Nexus, which made both devices sold out in first few minutes as it was first released for placing orders. Unlike other flagship contenders like Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, everybody was quite anticipated to see how would it look, what features would it sport and who would take the challenge to cater the demand by manufacturing it for Google. Speculations twirled around the tech savvy people letting them wait for the successor to the previous Nexus, the 5th of its kind.

      Nexus 5 was made after LG’s own flagship smartphone named LG G2, designed with a minimal yet more premium and sophisticated look and feel, having almost of all its features trimmed a little bit down to match the Google’s low price point starting at 350 dollars for the 16GB version. It first came with two color choices say black and white and now it’s available in bright red too. The competitive specifications of Nexus 5 were good enough to bring a great smartphone experience as a reference device for the industry and for developers or general consumers, bundled with pure and powerful updated Android experience currently available unlike the predecessors. Most importantly the main advantage in Nexus devices is quick over the air Android updates.

      nexus-evolution-video

      Evolution of Nexus series has been extraordinary. The look and feel as well as the hardware specification have improved over a short period of time.

      Google uses their Nexus line to introduce the latest version of Android operating system and this time they released the tastiest Android experience they have ever made Android 4.4 KitKat with new user interface improvements and other eye-catching features that comes only available for the Nexus 5 at the moment. The new Google Experience launcher provides translucent notification and navigation bars with a second home screen fully dedicated to ‘Google Now’ with the ability to initiate voice searches by simply saying “Okay Google” when you are in any home screen. The updated camera was improved to produce better image quality with clear and saturated colors as a result of optical image stabilization plus incremental updates to Android KitKat in order to make the imaging experience more serviceable. Initially the downside of the Nexus 5 was its battery life and it’s not as pathetic as it seems on average usage, but someone would feel like reaching for the charging cable earlier than any probably it should compared to competitors.

      With the Nexus 5, you are getting exactly what you are needed without having any bloatware or heavy applications that provides sky high features. It is a phone that suits the daily drive, because it is simple and it does what you need to do without giving any fuss. A rumor which started circulating a few weeks back stated that we might have to rely on much expensive Google Play edition devices to get our hands on pure Android experience, as it seems the Nexus line might come to an end this year, which surely is not a good news for many consumers. So let’s have our fingers crossed until 2015 to see these rumors to get some backing. Till then enjoy pure Android on Nexus.
      Image Courtesy: Smart Droid and Techno Buffalo