Author Archives: Pradeep Kumar

Pradeep Kumar
VP - Technology Innovations. He is a geek by nature, loves to code and write tech articles.
Mobile Opinion

iOS 12 and other announcements at WWDC 18: what it means for enterprises

WWDC is a much-awaited event not just for the Apple developer community but also for the tech world, business enterprises and tech savvy consumers. There is always some pre-event buzz round WWDC, but this year was marked by relative quiet on the rumor mill. Apple WWDC event kick started on June 4th. In this article we discuss a few critical announcements made and their implications for enterprises.

iOS 12: focus on performances

iOS 12: focus on performances

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The next version of iOS focuses largely on delivering better performance rather than charming users with newer features. It promises faster app launches, smoother gestures while bringing in some breakthrough features in technologies such as ARKit, Siri and Core ML. iOS 12 maintains backward compatibility too, supporting a lot of the older devices. In fact, every device that runs iOS 11 can run iOS 12. Product parity is common in hardware and revolutionary new features are virtually impossible on that front. Hence the only way to keep the users glued on is to improve the performance of the existing software significantly.

The Implication:

For enterprises it could simply mean improved performance of their apps by getting them ‘iOS 12 ready’. Since adoption rates of latest iOS releases are high thanks to a centralized update system, support for iOS 10 and lower can perhaps be dropped.

Augmented Reality: catalyst for more use cases

Augmented Reality: catalyst for more use cases

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In recent times AR has become a buzzword and a sought-after technology. However, one can’t but help feel that the use-cases baked into apps did not really lend themselves for repeated usage. AR-enabled apps have largely novelty value and hence the benefits of the technology have not been exploited yet. ARKit 2 hopes to change all that with improvements like multi-user support. It means that several users can view the same AR scene from their own device’s perspective. This opens up for a lot of opportunities for game developers and even brands considering bespoke games. With features like persistent and shared AR experiences, Apple is also bringing social element into AR world.

Entirely new experiences could be created using these technologies. For e.g. a group of people can get together every day to build ‘AR worlds’ of their own and persist the AR world between sessions so that they can rebuild from where they left off. Persistent experience could also allow people to engage with AR world for a longer duration.

With 3D object detection one could bring real world objects to the AR world and manipulate them. In a way it is a marriage of the physical world with the virtual world. I wonder if one could save this model into the new USDZ file format for later manipulation using Adobe software. Currently it sounds like it supports known objects such as sculptures, toys and furniture.

The Implication:

Being able to share the same AR world between multiple users will open up a new mode of experience design for Gaming and Education industries. Earlier all engagement had to be done with a single session and hence it was not so appealing to the customers. But now with persistent experience the engagement can be real and hence more people can engage with AR experiences. Two chess players could play a game of chess in AR without an actual chess board during a coffee break and continue the game later on. Aside from games, Augmented Reality could enrich the experience in the content of news apps. An article showcasing a new car model could be accompanied with 3D model of the car or travel related content can showcase a destination or landmark like never before.

Apple also demonstrated that ARKit 2 could reveal the interior of the physical set but may be it can do so only for known structures. If it works in a universal fashion then this could also be used to show the interior of vehicles, engines etc. – a feature that automotive industry or maybe the real estate industry can explore.

Siri gets better

Siri gets better

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Siri shortcuts can be a useful feature if used smartly – it looks like any app can add a shortcut to Siri, enabling the app to complete a sequence of events.

Also, it appears that you can combine shortcuts from different apps to create a workflow that will be executed in the specified order as defined during the shortcut creation. With Siri opening up for other apps and support for creating workflows by combining Siri actions from multiple apps this creates a whole new way of automating common use cases that involves multiple apps.

The implication:
Apps with repetitive tasks – e.g. utility payments can make use of such a feature.

The Apple differentiator and privacy

The Apple differentiator and privacy

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Not ‘selling’ consumer data and not relying on advertising as a major source of revenue has been a priority for Apple. Apple once again affirmed their position with respect to user’s privacy. They already provide protection for lot of data such as location, contacts, photos, camera, microphone etc. Now they are taking the privacy one step further by blocking software based approaches of identification. With additional confirmation dialogs when browsing in places like when adding comments that requires login to social media they are putting users in control of their privacy. Also techniques like Fingerprinting are also not going to work reliably as their access to algorithms they used to generate will be blocked.

Recently, iPhone’s co-creator and Apple investors also highlighted concerns about growing mobile phone addiction among teens and kids. They had urged Apple to own up the responsibility of controlling phone usage. It looks like Apple heard them and hence the new features like Screen Time and App Limits. These two provide features such as Reports, Summary, Time limits, Allowances to enable better control over yours and your kids’ phone usage.

Ironically, soon after announcing features which enable some sort of discipline to phone usage, Apple announced the addictive Memoji feature. The ability to blend Memojis in FaceTime or messages on top of your face is something that’s fun. I can see people trying this out along with the new camera filters. So I guess wherever there is Camera integration you can get this feature as well.

Core ML 2

Apple’s Machine Learning framework Core ML got a significant upgrade both in terms of speed and model size. With improved performance I think app developers might now be able to integrate Core ML in their apps since it does not bloat app sizes. Create ML tool brings machine learning training and modelling to the Mac. With native support on the Mac, Create ML can significantly improve training times for custom models. With Core ML 2 if the app developers see a significant drop in the model size, then I think people might experiment with it and start integrating it in their apps.

WatchOS 5

WatchOS 5

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Although targeted at sports and fitness enthusiasts, Apple Watch is soon proving to be a lifesaver device and not just a fitness tracking device. Of late the device is strongly linked as a health monitor and even a life saver

WatchOS 5 is adding a Competition feature using which you can challenge your friend for a fitness activity and monitor the progress. Better tracking of your activity such as workout alerts allows you to track your activities more accurately. Walkie Talkie feature is a cool feature that enables watch-to-watch connection, which when established, allows you to walkie-talkie each other. And this works over Cellular and WiFi, making it very usable. It could be a replacement for quick chats.

WatchOS 5 allows you to view web content on the Watch. This is cool because you now can reuse some of your content as is without having to create native version of the content for the Watch. Does this mean a new form of responsive web pages that supports Watches? Replacement for Student ID cards is another cool new feature that WatchOS 5 brings to you using which you can add your ID to the Wallet and use it in places where a student ID card would be accepted.


At the beginning of the Keynote, Apple reiterated their commitment to put the ‘customer at the center of the experience’. The slew of new features seem to live up to the promise – aimed at better app performance with emphasis on privacy and safety.

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Mobile Opinion

GDPR and its implications for app developers

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is going to be effective from 25th May 2018 and enterprises across the globe are already geared up to update their data privacy rules in compliance with the GDPR regulations.

In this article, we will outline what GDPR means for app owners and how they can ensure that their app is GDPR compliant.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is a set of regulations that every enterprise collecting user data should comply with. The primary objective of GDPR is to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for businesses by unifying the regulation within the EU (European Union).

Although most European countries have their individual data privacy laws, GDPR aims to standardize these rules and make safeguarding users’ data stronger, easier, and more uniform across the EU, unifying existing data protection regulations across its 28 member states.

What are the aspects that come under GDPR?

Besides the data collected by enterprises through their digital interactions with the customers on websites, apps, etc., GDPR also protects user-generated data such as social media posts, personal images uploaded to any website including those which might not have been uploaded by the individuals themselves. Additionally, any other uniquely personal information commonly uploaded or found online about the user will come under the purview of GDPR.

Essentially, GDPR is aimed to protect all personal user data across every online platform

Here are some of the key changes to come into effect with GDPR:

  • Expanded rights for individuals: The GDPR grants users the right to be forgotten and the right to request a copy of any personal data stored in their regard.
  • Compliance obligations: GDPR requires organizations to implement appropriate policies and security protocols, privacy impact assessments, maintain detailed records on data activities and have written agreements with vendors.
  • Data breach notification and security: Under GDPR organizations will have to report certain data breaches to data protection authorities, and under certain circumstances, to the affected data subjects.
  • New requirements for profiling and monitoring: The GDPR places additional obligations on organizations engaged in profiling or monitoring behavior of EU individuals.
  • Increased Enforcement: In case of failure to abide by GDPR regulations, authorities can fine organizations up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of a company’s annual global revenue.

What does GDPR mean for enterprises?

It means for enterprises across the globe interacting with customers in the EU region will have to ensure stringent compliance with GDPR. Even if a business doesn’t operate in the EU, they will still have to be GDPR compliant if the business holds data of EU citizens.

This means businesses will need to provide and be accountable for information like:

  • How was the data collected?
  • How will the data be used?
  • Have users given approval to use their data?
  • How long will the business hold the user-data?
  • Did businesses give users a chance to opt out?
  • Ensuring that users are able to access all the data businesses have on them if they want.

It will also imply that businesses will have to shift from an ‘opt-out’ approach for collecting user data, to an ‘opt-in’ approach. Which means enterprises will have to ensure that users have the option to opt-out of sharing the data they do not want to share, beforehand.

While right now this approach will only become a mandate when it comes to EU based customers, adopting such approach at a global scale will be helpful for enterprises in a long run, in the light of the recent data fiasco of Facebook.

How will GDPR affect app owners?

GDPR is one of the most significant data protection legislation that has been introduced in the European Union. Apps will be one of the platforms which will be most affected. While GDPR will also apply to websites, for websites it will be a lot easier to comply with the changed regulations. However, in case of apps, it will be a bit complex since they will have to be updated with the new SDKs that are used by apps for analytics.

As mentioned earlier, GDPR fundamentally ensures that no data is collected about a user and the device to which the user is associated with, unless the user specifically opts in. While it might be possible that that app owners might by default continue to collect the data, it will be mandatory for them to give users an opt-out option.

Role of the mobile app ecosystem in the purview of GDPR

To understand GDPR it’s important to first understand the three roles in the mobile app ecosystem.

  • Data Subjects – This is you, me and everybody else who uses a mobile app
  • Data Controller – This is the app developer or the company that develops the app.
  • Data processor – This is the company whose SDK is integrated into the app. E.g. Localytics, CleverTap, Amplitude, MixPanel, Firebase analytics etc.

The revised definition of personal data

With the introduction of GDPR, the definition of personal data has changed. It goes beyond traditional personally identifiable information – name, email address, etc., it will now include identifiers such as device sensors, IP address etc, which when combined with other data, can identify an individual. This is a huge change in the way we think about personal data.

Impact of GDPR on the app ecosystem

The impact of the GDPR, although is limited to the EU region it will have a widespread impact on the entire app and analytics ecosystem. If a business has an app that uses an analytics SDK of any kind to track the user or a device then they are affected by this regulation. If the app is available in the EU region then they have to update it with the latest version of the analytics SDK that complies with the GDPR.

What can app owners do to ensure GDPR compliance?

Just updating the SDK is not enough. Even if an app owner doesn’t operate in the EU region, if the app is available in this region then it is mandatory to comply with the GDPR.

Here is what enterprises and app owners would need to do:

  • Businesses will have to ask for explicit consent from the user of the digital asset such as a website or an app whether the user would like to opt-in to collecting the data. This can be done via a custom screen in your app or some SDKs provide their own default messaging dialogue asking the user’s consent.
  • Based on the user’s consent they can use the methods in the SDK to enable or disable data collection for that user.
  • Businesses will also have to take care of conditions where the user might be using multiple devices in which case they have to cascade the consent setting across multiple devices based on whether he has opted out from the first device or not.
  • If a single device is used by multiple users they also need to take care of that situation wherein the data still continues to be collected for a user who has opted-in as opposed to a user who has opted-out even though they are using the same device.

How will GDPR impact targeting options

GDPR will have a huge impact on reaching the customers via targeted communication. At this moment it is a bit ambiguous whether GDPR requires the data processors to delete the existing user profile data by default or will the users have to explicitly do it after this regulation comes into effect. So, at present, we can assume that app owners will be able to reach out to users whose data might still be there with data processors unless they are also deleted.

Nonetheless, moving forward, user segmentation, targeted push notifications and marketing communications based on user demographics may become things of the past as businesses will not be able to segment users. App owners and marketers will need to find other ways of segmenting their users. For e.g. Interest areas.

Further, while using any Google products such as Google Analytics, Tag Manager Adwords to personalize the ads served to customers and track their on-site actions adhering to GDPR guidelines and getting user consent is a must.

According to Google:

“Advertisers using AdWords will be required to obtain consent for the use of cookies where legally required, and for the collection, sharing, and use of personal data for personalized ads for users in the EEA. This includes the use of remarketing tags and conversion tags. Where legally required, advertisers must also clearly identify each party that may collect, receive, or use end-users’ personal data.”

GDPR might also imply that in the coming days, marketers will no longer be able to share additional content assets with users, other than what they have opted for; for e.g. while doing a lead-generation campaign if the user downloads an ebook, marketers will not be able to send additional emails, newsletters etc. to them, unless these users opt-in for additional resources from these brands. Hence, marketers will have to devise newer ways to engage with their target audience.

In conclusion:

GDPR by far is known to be one of the most ambitious consumer data protection regulations that have been devised globally. While GDPR right now is limited to the EU, it will pave the way for more secure and stringent data protection laws for consumers globally.

Though initially the implementation and compliance with this regulation might cause some difficulty for businesses, it’s important to remember that this legislation is being introduced to protect users’ rights. And while it isn’t required for businesses to follow such regulations elsewhere, it will help businesses in a long-run to alleviate the privacy-related concerns the users have from apps and other such digital platforms.

Note: This is an opinion piece and enterprises must seek legal advice to ensure full compliance with GDPR regulations.

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Mobile Opinion

Augmented Reality and #ARKit: the coming revolution

The world of mobile and technology is abuzz with news about Apple’s ARKit. It is anticipated that ARKit is set to revolutionise the way people engage with their smartphones and possibly, also with their wearable devices in the future. Further, ARKit also presents vistas of opportunities for enterprises to engage with their customers through value-added and delightful AR based experiences.

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Mobile Opinion

JioPhone: a mobile ecosystem in the making?

Image source: Reliance Jio

The upcoming launch of JioPhone (announced last week) is likely to be a game changer not just for the telecom industry but the larger digital and mobile landscape as well.

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Featured Mobile

App Store reviews: Apple implements it differently

Android developers could respond to user reviews on Play Store for years now. They could even share their contact information to provide additional support. iOS developers have been asking for a similar, if not better, option for apps on the App Store too. Our prayers seem have answered with iOS10.3, which is in beta currently. However, in typical Apple style, the problem has been tackled differently.

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Mobile Tech Talk

What next after Parse passes on: some observations #TechTalk

Parse’s announcement that it will be winding down has surely come down as an unfortunate surprise to a lot of app developers especially indie developers who found the holy grail in Parse. Lot of well known apps have been written with Parse as a backend and there are still quite a few apps with millions of installations that are using Parse as the backend. It appears that Facebook has mercilessly pulled the rug from under these app developers.

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Mobile Opinion Tech Talk

#Techtalk: Swift Recipes: Optionals Not knowing Optionals is not an option!

Why was a Swift developer arrested on the beach?
Because he thought clothing was optional.

Traditionally, we have all dealt with variables as having some value at any point in time during the execution of the program and use them assuming they will contain some value.

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Mobile Opinion Tech Talk

#Techtalk: Swift Recipes: Error Handling – it’s an error, not an exception!

Error handling is one of the fundamental concepts of programming. A program without error handling is like a country without a justice system. Your app will behave in an unruly manner with no one to bring order to the program.Any programmer worth his salt should handle errors in his/her code.

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Mobile Tech Talk

Using xcconfig files in Xcode to Manage signing identities

Often times we find ourselves in a situation wherein the project has to be configured to make use of different provisioning profile and signing certificates and also with different bundle identifiers. The source code is maintained in a distributed and the vendor and the client make their own builds using their respective profiles, certificates and app ids.

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How to deal with multiple server configurations in a mobile app

This article explains the strategy that an app developer can adopt for working with different server configurations, without having to create multiple builds of the app pointing to different servers.

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