Posts Tagged ‘API’

The term ‘Cloud Computing’ has been creating a buzz in the Information Technology space for a couple of years. There are so many articles, blogs, pod-casts and web-casts available in the Internet about Cloud Computing. More and more companies are moving to tap the opportunity in it to stay competitive. Merrill Lynch predicts that Cloud Computing will be $95 billion industry in 5 years and 12% of the software industry would be pulled into it. So what’s Cloud Computing all about? Why is it considered as an unprecedented solution to reduce the IT costs?

According to Wikipedia, Cloud Computing is “Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are used by computers and other devices on-demand, like a traditional utility.” In simple words, we can say that, “The delivering of services that is hosted in the Internet”. Google Apps, Sales-force.com, Zoho web applications are all examples of services hosted in the Cloud. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is another example of a web service that provides re-sizable computing capacity in the Cloud. The Internet is often represented in diagrams and flow charts by the Cloud symbol and from that the name has been derived.

Cloud Computing is broadly classified into three categories – 1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) 2. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) 3. Platform as a Service (PaaS).

1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – In Software-as-a-Service model, the vendor hosts applications on the server and it is distributed to the customers over the Internet. The price will be based on the usage of a subscription. It has been estimated that this model will be worth $15 billion by 2011 and take way more than 30% of the software market. Salesforce.com is a good example.

2. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – In this model, the vendor owns the infrastructure like storage, networking devices, hardware etc and will be responsible for facilitating and maintaining it. The user will pay for the service on the basis of the usage. This model is often helpful for web 2.0 start-ups who are keen on reducing their IT costs. IaaS model also helps companies to reduce their expenses in creating and maintaining data centers, which contributes heavily to the capital expenditure of the IT companies. Amazon web services is an example of IaaS model.

3. Platform as a Service (PaaS) – In PaaS, the vendor will host a set of software and product development tools on a provided space. The biggest advantage is that the user needs just a computer and internet connection to start building applications and he doesn’t have to worry about the infrastructure. Some vendors even provide pre-built business applications, which helps developers to build applications from the scratch. Google Apps is a perfect example for this model.

We have seen the different types of services offered in Cloud Computing. Now, the Cloud itself can be classified into three – Private, Public and Hybrid Clouds. In Public Clouds, the vendors offer services ranging from storage, servers and other services to different customers within the Cloud. The vendor can achieve ‘economies of scale’ through this endeavour and is considered as an effective pricing model even in recession. Data Security is an issue, which the vendors have to deal with and that is the only disadvantage these type of Clouds possess.

Private Clouds are often used by individual companies, who deal with service level issues and want data security. In Private Clouds, the particular company controls the access, the applications that run on the Cloud and the complete administration. They own all the facilities including networks and servers.

Hybrid Clouds are the combination of Private and Public Clouds, i.e., in a controlled way, the vendors use some part of the Cloud and share other parts. Hybrid Clouds are useful for customers who own simple applications that will not require any synchronization or have complex databases.

There is no doubt that Cloud Computing will revolutionize the entire IT Industry and it is just a matter of time before majority of the players move to this platform. By 2020, at least 40-50% of the entire software providers will embrace cloud computing.

Over the years since Apple released its iPhone, many other manufacturers have come up with handsets that were supposed to become ‘iPhone Killers’. None has succeeded so far to say the least. From what we have seen so far, the Motorola DROID can be a serious contender to the crown of the iPhone 3GS. Both phones are available from their respective carriers at $199 with contracts. So the battle will be fought not in terms of price, but in terms of specs and overall usability of the devices.

Internals

The DROID runs on Arm Cortex A8 CPU 550 MHZ processor, 256MB of RAM, and 512MB of ROM. The CPU is actually 600 MHZ but it has been under-clocked at 550 MHZ. Reason for this could be battery life and over heating. There are system level applications available to clock it out at 800 MHZ but it will compromise the battery life heavily.  From the initial responses it seems the Android 2.0 OS will help DROID utilize the full potential of this processor.  One of the features of the DROID being hyped by Verizon is in fact its ability to switch between multiple applications at run-time – true multitasking. With this processor, there are reports that the DROID will be the fastest Android device on the market.

One important difference between the iPhone and DROID is that the iPhone comes with internal memory of 8GB, 16GB and 32GB variants with no provision of adding a SD card. The DROID has a standard internal memory but supports SD cards up to 32GB. One drawback compared to iPhone is that DROID provides only a meager 256 MB for application storage. Google does not support directly installing apps into the SD card, which largely limits the developers while deploying their products. This is a problem when it comes to graphics / game development which typically takes up a lot of space.  It is also like a paradox because Google has introduced APIs for 3-D graphics and OpenGL libraries with the release of Android 2.0. Developers can however store app resources in the SD card similar to Windows Mobile development.

Touch and Feel

The screen on the DROID is a 3.7-inch capacitive touch screen (unlike the resistive iPhone / Blackberry screens) that showcases a full glass display with WVGA resolution at a handsome 480 x 854 pixels. The responsiveness on the DROID due to the capacitive touch is better than most of the other smart phone counterparts. For example gestures and flicks are registered with little to no lag. Whether that can be attributed to Moto’s screen technology, Android 2.0 improvements, or just the speedy CPU inside the DROID is anyone’s guess, but that certainly won’t let the phone down. Another advantage to having that big screen is seeing webpages how they’re meant to be viewed, and browsing on the DROID is certainly a solid experience.

The phone comes with a huge touchscreen with multi-touch but still has space for an actual hardware keyboard. It is just slightly thicker than the iPhone at 0.5 inches but manages to pack a full QWERTY keyboard, which makes it the thinnest QWERTY keyboard  mobile available in the market. The only comparison that can come in its way is the Nokia N97 but it too can’t match up with its huge screen and its interface offered by Motorola and Google.

Camera

Google has made some pretty major improvements to the camera application in Android 2.0. This includes more control over white balance, focal length, flash settings, and effects. To complement this Motorola has smartly outfitted the DROID with a 5 megapixel camera coupled with an LED flash. However many initial users claim that the camera is painfully slow to focus and take a snap.

Video

The performance of video capture and playback, on the other hand, is astounding.  The DROID is capable of shooting at a 720 x 480 resolution, producing viewable if not totally shake-free video. The phone definitely proves to be better in this department than with stills. The phone also comes with a HDMI port for High Definition Video. However with a resolution of 720 x 480 pixels, the full exploitation of the HDMI support is worth questionable.

Software

Android 2.0 addresses some important changes to the smart phone scene including Google Navigator, voice improvements and more.  Google is in fact taking a pro-active approach at improving the platform, along with the opportunity to sync multiple Exchange and/or Google Accounts. The DROID is the first phone to come with Google Maps Navigation, which provides free, turn-by-turn, spoken driving directions.Verizon will sell a car mount for the DROID, as well completely eliminating the need of third party navigation devices like Garmin.  The combination may make the DROID the best GPS phone on the market.  But what really makes the software a complete win is something completely invisible – APIs.  Google has added account/contact/sync APIs that will greatly improve the platform, and inherently the phone’s capabilities over time.

Browser

Mobile internet browsing is another interesting feature of this handset. The browser is of top quality supporting Flash and HTML 5. Google has promised to support Flash 10 from 2010.

Connectivity

DROID comes with a EVDO rev A on-board card for super fast 3G connectivity on Verizon Wireless. There is support for GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and a USB 2.0 port. The speed of connectivity is observed to be a notch higher than the iPhone 3GS.

Battery

The system comes with a 1400 mAh removable battery which is not bad at all but we expect that it won’t deliver the rated 270 hours standby time or 6 hrs 25 min talktime, especially comparing it to the previous CLIQ. However Motorola has managed to provide a decent talktime of around 5 hrs 30 min, thanks to the somewhat ironic under-clocked CPU!

Final Word

Overall, the DROID is a nice phone and joins the ranks of one of the best smartphones that are available in the market today. However, it’s a mixed bag on whether this handset could really usurp the iPhone as the best performing smartphone on the market. Nonetheless, DROID is a formidable competitor of the current top performing smartphones on the market, and there is a serious competition just getting under way between the different supported mobile OS’s.

Articles on Google waves is flooding the web, trying to bring out a deeper understanding on this wave renaissance. There is so much of expectation generated now as people are anxiously looking forward to get their hands on it. With the little information revealed by Google, let us try to figure out something more on how this is going to work. In Google wave 1 we discussed about Google waves as a product. This time let us view Google waves in the perspective of a developer, that is, Google waves as a platform.

What is a platform?

Platform in software realms can be understood as an entity on which software can be made to function. A platform provider will provide APIs (Application Programming Interface) for software to be developed in his platform. Let’s take a few examples: Java, the product of Sun Microsystems serves as a platform and it comes with APIs like AWT, JDBC, JMF and so on. These APIs are also provided by Sun Microsystems. Apple Inc, owner of iphone had APIs confidential until October 2008 when the company open sourced and made it license free to develop software applications to be run on iphone. Lately, there is facebook API which is both powerful and popular.

What about Google API?

Google has promised to come up with a public API which can be used by any developer to create applications that run on the wave platform. There are 2 ways by which a developer can make his presence felt in Google waves. The first method is by building robots or creating gadgets. The other method is by embedding waves on third party websites. Let’s try to get some insight on these new terminologies.

Robots, Gadgets and Embed API

Robots are automated participants in a wave. Remember the robot in ‘Lost in Space’. It is a similar kind of simulation except that these robots will function inside the computer. A robot created inside a wave will be able to read, modify and delete blips and wavelets. A wavelet is a smaller wave that is resident inside a wave and a blip resides inside a wavelet. The diagram below will give you better picture.

The developer can create robots and perform interactive operations within a wave. What are the interactive operations? Well, that is left to the creativity of the developer. Learn more about robots here. Wave Gadgets are similar to the ordinary gadgets in its mechanism to get embedded as third party development applications. But there is more offered. A wave gadget can function within a live wave. An example Google gives to explain this is one which lets participants of a wave to vote on where to go for lunch. Learn more about gadgets here.

The second method using Embed API enables to bring waves into third party websites. There will be simultaneous updates in websites as and when an update is made inside a wave. Google has already come up with a few embeds. ‘You tube playlist discuss’ is one among them and is sure to gain so much popularity.  Learn more about embed APIs here.

As Facebook is dominating now with so much integration, it is certain that we can expect even more from Google waves. So if you are a developer, be informed about what is going on in Google waves and get ready to play with the tools as soon as you get them.

Links for further study:

http://code.google.com/apis/wave/

http://googlewavedev.blogspot.com/

When it comes to web then it’s all the way Google. Right from search engine to browser to email, they are now providing API for Google Analytics. Google Analytics is their free service for tracking and analyzing website traffic and usage.

It was a much-awaited release from Google. “Large organizations and agencies now have a standardized platform for integrating Analytics data with their own business data,” says Google’s Nick Mihailovski.

Google was blamed of storing the browsing history of a user. Now they are willing to share this data. So it is really an interesting move from Google.

One can access Aoogle Analytics from phone using Android application and from desktop using Desktop-Reporting. For more details about how the API works, you can read this blog post from Google about it.

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