Smartphone Features that Impact Developers
I have been with the Developer Program awhile. In the past, it was quite common that I would write about guidance on new features and functionality that might be of interest to developers. As we have made a shift to APIs and ARO and as developers have gotten more used to just going to platform sites for information, we have gotten away from that. But some intriguing new technology has emerged so I thought I would write an article to cover a few devices and the features that impact developers.
Nokia Lumia 1020: Everyone probably knows this has 41 megapixel (MP) camera, which is remarkable. The growth in camera power has been staggering. I remember it was just a few years ago when device makers were racing to get to 1 MP (and then 2 MP) cameras.
How can developers make use of this? Nokia released an imaging SDK. This is what Nokia uses for its own imaging applications like Creative Studio and is quite good. The APIs are available for native (C++) and manage code (VB and C#) and they included a WinPRT library. This also includes over 50 filters, effects, and enhancements. They have included a few example apps such as Filter Effects and Filter Explorer.
Moto X: This is another new device that should be of great interest to developers. One of the most interesting new features is Active Notifications (which is being introduced with Moto X, but can be installed on other devices with Google Play). The ability to display notifications with user interaction can really help keep users engaged (but developers should be careful not to abuse). Related to this, but only on the Moto X, is an enhancement that periodically lights up the screen if the user has not responded.
Another enhancement is Quick Capture. When a Moto rep was demonstrating the phone to me, they really highlighted the fact that you could take a good photo with just one hand. Given how many apps have integrated camera functionality, this support is worth looking at.
It also comes with Miracast support, allowing users to display what is on their phones on a TV. Developers now have access to a larger screen using this wireless display. This should make for some very interesting apps in the near future.
Finally, speech recognition continues to gain acceptance. The voice sensor for the Moto X is always on and you can activate it by saying “OK Google Now.” If you have not speech-enabled your app, you should consider it soon.
BlackBerry Q10: It is odd to think about how many devices had physical keyboards even just a few years ago but how rare it is now. Developers may not be as familiar with BlackBerry, but they offer many options depending on your preferred coding language. Whether you go native, HTML5, Adobe Air, or just use the Android Runtime it will impact what functionality can be used, so for the purposes of this blog I will focus on native development.
There are a few unique features to BlackBerry 10. First is the Blackberry UI System that includes interaction (like peek and flow) that you will want to integrate into your app to provide a nice UI. Flow in BlackBerry 10 allows users to glide between applications without navigation tools. Peek allows users to check notifications of other apps without leaving the app they are currently in and it includes some nice libraries.
For game developers, they made major improvements from past versions. From a device perspective, it includes the QNX Neutrino RTOS and they included support from gaming engines like Unity and Marmalade to make it easier for devs.
One popular feature they have maintained is BlackBerry Messenger. Developers can connect to the BBM Social Platform to help with discoverability of their app. Then additionally, BlackBerry has a lot of guidance on how to preserve battery life.
Please share any feedback below and let me know if you’d like us to cover something more detailed or discuss the features of other devices.