Friday, February 24, 2012


Change is in the air; or more rightly said in the airwaves. A desktop has been replaced by light laptops; single colored phones are replaced by touch screen phones and tablets. Today’s mobility world is entirely user centric and multitude of Smartphone devices enables not only access to information on the go but also quick decision making capability.  
With the devices becoming user centric; the mobile applications are becoming more and more User experience driven.

User Experience

In simple words, User experience (abbreviated as UX) is how a person feels when interfacing/interacting with a system. User experience highlights the experiential, effective, meaningful & valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership, but it also includes a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system. User experience is subjective in nature, because it is about an individual’s persona & user behavior. User experience is dynamic, because it changes over time as the circumstances change.

User experience design won’t work in every situation for every user because, as human beings, we are all different. What works for one person might have the opposite effect on another. The best we can do is design for specific experiences and promote certain behaviors, but we can’t manufacture, impose or predict the actual experience itself.
And just as we can’t design a user experience, we can’t replicate the user experience for one application exactly on another application. User experience is the differentiator or unique selling proposition (popularly known as USP) for today’s mobile applications. A design must be tailored to achieve the vision, goals, and values of the final app.
Endeavour’s definition of UX can be summed up as a combination of Utility, Desirability & Usability.

Here is a check list of some of the aspect of UX that should be considered while developing a successful UX mobile solution:
  • Usability– How easy to understand and operate does the product need to be?
  • Appeal– How professional does the product need to appear? How much does the audience need to enjoy using it?
  • Accessibility– What audiences need to access the product? On which devices?
  • Performance– How well does the application need to perform? How fast does it need to load and respond to input?
  • User Assistance & Help– How easy does it need to be for the audience to get assistance when they get stuck?

Intrigued?  Want to know more?
Join us in a free webinar to take a deep dive into UX and its importance in mobility. During this webinar organized by UX Lab, Endeavour; we will take you through the trends, opportunities and horizons that UX can unlock for your organization’s mobility landscape.
Endeavour recently hosted a Webinar on “Role of UX in Mobility Landscape” which provided insight into the Importance of UX in Enterprise Mobility, perceptions about UX and the approach to User Experience in Mobility. The recording of the same is available here:

Endeavour is a specialist Mobility Company, providing strategic consulting and product development for Mobile enabling businesses in the Manufacturing, Media, Print, Healthcare, Consumer solutions, Telecom and Business Intelligence verticals. Endeavour has a strong mobile application development team on all mobile platforms in the market today, including, RIM, Apple, Symbian, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre, micro Linux, Brew. Endeavour is based out of Austin, Texas, Bangalore India and London, UK. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Android 4.0 – The Ice Cream Sandwich

The yummier the name; the more powerful and astounding are the features and new improvements. And yes it is Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich we’re talking about. With the Google team wishing us Happy Holidays came the revealing of the Android 4.0. Let’s take a dive into the world of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Android 4.0, the Ice Cream Sandwich, marks the start of a new era for Google’s mobile platform. The release has brought in some of the biggest changes and new features since the launch of Froyo in 2010.

Expert Speak
Basavraj Birajdar, Endeavour’s Android expert comments on Ice Cream Sandwich, “Two features that will help Android ICS to take lead on other mobile platforms are NFC (Beam app) and face unlock. Android already has first mover advantage in NFC but with the introduction of Beam, it will definitely become leader in NFC technology. By just tapping on each other, Beam app allows Android devices to share data like contacts, URLs, web pages, maps and many more. Another distinguishing feature of ICS is face unlock which was introduced for first time on any mobile platform. You can make your device more personal by securing it with your face.
He further adds, “Moreover, Android Ice Cream Sandwich has amplified the focus on you i.e. the user; giving the user richer profile information, large profile picture, phone numbers, addresses and accounts, status updates, events, and a new button for connecting to integrated social networks.
Ice Cream Sandwich is all about you!!

Let us dive a little deeper & look at the key features offered by Ice Cream Sandwich.

Simple, Beautiful and it s all about the User (WOW) Experience.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich has a vibrant, sophisticated and more visible (with the resizing feature for widgets) UI. With gestures coming into picture and enhancements to the new magazine style interface, swipe navigation, virtual button, high native resolution the user will just be happy and a speedy swiping navigator.  
We are listening!

The addition of the new keyboard that was in the pipeline since a long time and it’s here now; all new and improved!  With features to enhance the users messaging experience the smart word predictions are not only pretty accurate and quick; but also to add to the benefits it brings along, an auto correct options that underlines potentially wrong words.

The voice input or speech to text function that has been revamped and you don’t have to wait for the phone to finish typing word; cause it’s real time now!  Hands free typing is what I’d like to call it.
At your fingertips!
Your incoming messages, voice transcriptions, and audio files from one or more providers are integrated together in the phone app, as Visual Voicemail. You can easily playback voicemails right from the list and also manage the playback speed.
Third-party applications can integrate with the Phone app to help you add your own voice messages, transcriptions, and more to the visual voicemail inbox. So now you can wake your loved ones with a smiley recorded message!!

An updated Calendar app brings together personal, work, school, and social agendas. With user permission, other applications can contribute events to the calendar and manage reminders, for an integrated view across multiple calendar providers. The app is redesigned to let users manage events more easily.
All what you need at your fingertips!
Android 4.0 offers an improved multi-tasking or switching between open apps with a long press on the home button. A list of active applications will be displayed with a small thumbnail of the window, similar to the feature in Honeycomb. Holding the dedicated button on the System bar brings you with this scrollable list of running application and allows you to easily switch between them with a single tap.

Rich and Versatile!
The Camera app includes many new features such as; after capturing images, they can edit and share them easily with friends. When taking pictures, continuous focus, zero shutter lag exposure, and decreased shot-to-shot speed help capture clear, precise images. Stabilized image zoom lets users compose photos and video in the way they want, including while video is recording. For new flexibility and convenience while shooting video, users can now take snapshots at full video resolution just by tapping the screen as video continues to record. An improved Picture Gallery widget lets users look at pictures directly on their home screen.
Also now your camera will work just as any other digital camera with added advantages of face recognition, tap to focus and the best part – single motion –panorama mode.

Cloud Access!
Android has always been cloud-connected, letting users browse the web and sync photos, apps, games, email, and contacts — wherever they are and across all of their devices. Android 4.0 adds new browsing and email capabilities to let users take even more with them and keep communication organized.
And for the Finale..
Android Beam is an innovative, convenient feature for sharing across two NFC-enabled devices. It lets people instantly exchange favorite apps, contacts, music, videos — almost anything; just tap to send.
For sharing apps, Android Beam pushes a link to the app's details page in Android Market. On the other device, the Market app launches and loads the details page, for easy downloading of the app. Individual apps can build on android Beam to add other types of interactions, such as passing game scores, initiating a multiplayer game or chat, and more.
AND Last but not the least …
Your Face is the KEY.. ohh literally!!
Android 4.0 introduces a completely new approach to securing a device, making each person's device even more personal — Face Unlock is a new screen-lock option that lets users unlock their devices with their faces. It takes advantage of the device front-facing camera and state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to register a face during setup and then to recognize it again when unlocking the device. Users just hold their devices in front of their faces to unlock, or use a backup PIN or pattern.

So What does Android ICS offers from a MOBILE DEVELOPER’S PERSPECTIVE!

Early returns on the Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” software development kit have mobile developers praising the unified perspective and capabilities of the Google mobile OS — but their ability to test new apps is constrained by the lack of Android 4 devices, which also limits the market for apps that use the new OS. Android 4 unifies the OS and the SDK for both smartphones and tablets, replacing the Android 2.x OS for smartphones and the Android 3.x OS for tablets.  The mobile developers are in complete praise of the UI for Android 4.0. The API changes in Android 4 seem more evolutionary than revolutionary, which is a good thing for mobile developers. In addition to the Beam and Wi-Fi Direct APIs, Android adopts the “Honeycomb” security and device management APIs. Two new APIs that mobile developers are eager to try out are ShareActionProvider and Calendar Intents. “The ShareActionProvider is an abstraction around the very common desire for sharing a piece of data. For example, sharing a photo via SMS or sharing a URL via email.


With the clash of titles for the best OS Android Ice cream Sandwich appeals to the usability not only because of it s ease of use features and maneuverability but because it’s power, features, usability and security has attained new heights. This could definitely be a massive game changer in the clash of the OS. But as of now the users and the mobile developers are simply impressed by the enhancements and additions of the Android 4.0.

Looking forward to what Android has to surprise us in future!!

Endeavour is a specialist Mobility Company, providing strategic consulting and product development for Mobile enabling businesses in the Manufacturing, Media, Print, Healthcare, Consumer solutions, Telecom and Business Intelligence verticals. Endeavour has a strong mobile application development team on all mobile platforms in the market today, including, RIM, Apple, Symbian, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm Pre, micro Linux, Brew. Endeavour is based out of Austin, Texas, Bangalore India and London, UK. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

NFC, the buzzword everywhere, but what is the hype all about!!

NFC, short for Near Field Communication is a short-range wireless RFID technology that makes use of interacting electromagnetic radio fields instead of typical direct radio transmissions used by technologies such as Bluetooth. It is being predicted that gradually this technology will transform our mobile phones into a wallet loaded with payment cards from multiple sources including credit cards, health cards, loyalty cards and many more. As compared to its prior technologies such as RFID and Bluetooth, NFC is considered to be more intuitive, versatile and security ready, both with respect to technology as well as standards.

The NFC Ecosystem – Key Stakeholders
The kind of stakeholders involved in successful adoption of NFC are disparate & have to ideally come together to make this dream a reality. The diagram represents key stakeholders for successful implementation of NFC:
Some of the key challenges worth mentioning here include: consumer adoption, merchant adoption, standardization, and interoperability and last but not the least, the evolving business models such that the players/stakeholders are working with and not against one another.
The year 2011 was indeed pivotal for advancements in NFC. We saw the launch of Google wallet, the commitment of handset manufacturers and credit card companies behind ISIS and the cooperation of NFC reader manufacturers like VeriFone, which started building NFC into all of its new payment terminals. Payment gateway players such as Visa are also getting involved & taking the lead to explore NFC. Though currently there are only two cards that are NFC enabled, Citibank Master Card and a prepaid card issued by Google, but others are expected to follow soon.

NFC beyond Mobile Payments
NFC is way beyond mobile Payments. The general association of NFC with mobile payments is perhaps due to the fact that solutions from large players such as Google, Verizon came with solutions primarily focused around financial payments. This is however now true. NFC is way beyond Mobile Payments and has business opportunities across verticals, industries & domains. Some of the popular use cases could be:
-     In healthcare wherein the users have a health card which enables storing information about the patient’s health, billing & payment of insurance premium and many more use cases; 
-        In retail with smart shopping card;
-        Features such as exchanging personal information, virtual fingerprinting strengthening security
-        Mobile marketing; and many more

Challenges for NFC in 2012
The key challenges which we foresee for NFC in the year 2012 are:
1.     Lack of clarity to consumer
The consumers are still lost and confused about the complete concept. For NFC to be successful a comfort level needs to be created for the consumers and they have to be convinced about security of contact less payments via NFC. Also there are variety of devices enabled with NFC technology with no standards to set interoperability across devices & merchant kiosks. This will pose as the biggest challenge and the ecosystem will have to derive standards to see NFC in the year of 2012. The biggest concern currently is “All Wallets may not work on all Devices, all Networks & all Merchants”!!

2.     Market Battles
The market battle is ON! Mobile Platform’s are competing to leverage the first mover advantage, while service providers & merchants are competing to jump a leap ahead of their competitors.

3.     Merchant’s Dilemma
Merchant’s dilemma is “Which Wallet to Support”! Also they will need to make a huge investment in terms of upgrading their POS systems & kiosks to enable leveraging full capability of NFC technology.

4.     Profit Issue
Who is making the money, is the billion dollar question? Every stakeholder is trying to leverage as much as possible and be on the winning end. The point all the stakeholder’s are missing is, we all need to work with and not against one another to make this a win-win situation for all of us.
Future of NFC
We predict the future of NFC in years to come is extremely promising. This will however depend on how the relationship between stakeholders of NFC ecosystem evolves but all said and done, the key players involved will use all possible carrot-and-stick approaches to convince merchants to adopt NFC.
Irrespective of the challenges NFC will face, the industry will evolve with new standards to embed NFC chips into SD or Micro SD cards. We expect new type of NFC tags to store more data, NFC enabled SIM cards and SIM based NFC payment solution.

Endeavour recently hosted a Webinar on “Insider’s Insight into NFC” which provided much more details about NFC, its future & trends. The recording of the same is available here:

Also Read our previous post