Khamosh Pathak, a Vadodara-based technology writer, spends more than 10GB of Internet data per month on his iPhone for simply downloading new apps and updates. He says the amount of data he ends up consuming with this “less essential” chore has increased significantly over the years.
Pathak’s views represent a growing concern among many iPhone and iPad users who say that apps on the App Storeare getting bulkier by day. You can see, for instance, that both the Facebook app and Uber app, are listed at over 250MB. Update sizes, as listed on the App Store Updates tab, are often worse, with Facebook standing north of 300MB.
In contrast, downloading Facebook on Android uses under 70MB data, and the update files are usually not more than 30MB. Uber’s app is another 30MB download. On the App Store, Microsoft Excel is listed at 219MB, but it’s under 60MB download from Google Play.
Similarly, according to the listing on App Store, Pokémon Go app is 244MB, while its listing on Google Play is under 100MB. Gadgets 360 confirmed the sizes on several different Android smartphone models.
Apple remains tight-lipped on the matter, and hence we’re not sure if Apple is working to address this problem, or if it even sees it as a problem at all, though it does offer developers tips to reduce app sizes.
But do these claims actually hold water? Gadgets 360 spoke to several developers to find out.
Why does this matter?
Larger apps means more data consumption and less space on your device. This could make it challenging for Apple to market its products in emerging places such as India, which the Cupertino-headquartered company is increasingly hoping to develop as the next major iPhone market.
Part of the problem, as we realised when downloading and checking the sizes of apps, is that Google Play lists the size of the download. If you look in the information about an app, you’ll see a heading for Download Size. On the App Store however, the section is called Size, and it seems to refer to the amount of space that app will take on your device. The files that you download from these stores are unpacked on your phone or tablet and end up taking up more space than just the download. There are pros and cons to both approaches.
Google’s showing you how much data you’ll use to get the app on your phone, which is an important factor in countries like India, which are still sensitive to data costs. On the other hand, Apple’s figure tells you how much space is needed on your device, which matters if you’re worried about running out of storage.
Even beyond this though, there’s a real problem of app sizes, several developers told Gadgets 360. Apps are getting bigger in size, they say, in part because developers add new features, something their users obviously appreciate.
“Apps are getting bigger because iOS devices are more powerful, and developers are building more and more complex things for them without considering the impact the size will have around the world,” developer Stephen Troughton-Smith tells Gadgets 360. Smith is one of the most high-profile iOS developers, perhaps best known for digging into Apple devices’ firmware and unearthing facts before Apple announces them to the world, most recently spotting a wireframe for the upcoming iPhone in HomePod firmware.
But in part, it is also happening because developers are being careless, and adding more than one instance of files, Troughton-Smith added. “So Facebook, Twitter, and other large companies have perhaps tens or hundreds of people building their iOS apps. A lot of the components for these apps are developed independently as components, or frameworks. For each additional component you glue together into an app, there is some overhead,” he explained. “Some of the teams will duplicate functionality some other team wrote. Images and other resources end up being duplicated.”
The high-resolution image assets that developers are required to add also contributes to the size of an app, two India-based developers (who didn’t want to be identified), and Peter Steinberger, founder and CEO of PSPDFKit, a dev kit that is used by several popular PDF apps, told Gadgets 360.
Apple can itself take some blame, too. Developers using Apple’s Swift language, which the company introduced in 2014, are required to add several components to their apps that make them heavier.
“Apple’s new Swift language, for example, requires a bunch of components to be embedded each time it’s used, because it’s not yet ‘ABI stable’,” Troughton-Smith explained. This means developers need to embed the versions of libraries they’ve developed against, and not count on the one available on the system.
Another developer who didn’t want to be identified said a typical app built with Swift language requires as many as 30 Swift runtime libraries to be stuffed within the app. On top of this, he added, “you will be surprised at just how many apps use common code found at places like GitHub.”
“Developers often don’t care about removing the bits that wasn’t relevant to their app,” he added.
Sunil Gandham, a Washington-based developer who works at Amtrak, reiterated claims made by the other developer.
Apps have grown in size by 1,100 percent
In a blog post published in June, marketing and research firm Sensor Tower wrote, “The total space required by the top 10 most installed US iPhone apps has grown from 164 MB in May 2013 to about 1.9 GB last month, a 12x or approximately 1,100 percent increase in just four years.” The phones’ storage capacity has not changed at anything close to the same rate, with the base iPhone version only recently going up from 16GB to 32GB of storage.
Speaking to Gadgets 360, Randy Nelson, the head of mobile insights at Sensor Tower said iOS apps continue to “contain multiple versions of assets [images, buttons, etc.] built to look their best on different screen sizes [iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone SE, for example] or for iPhone vs. iPad, which greatly impacts their storage footprint.”
This is different from how things work in the Android world where, even as there are far more different kind of devices, varying on specs and screen sizes, one set of assets is commonly scaled up or down, Nelson explained.
“Another contributor is the number and type of libraries and SDKs necessary for these apps on iOS vs. Android,” he added. “Another is that the app code on iOS is encrypted, and results in binaries that are considerably larger than on Android. Ultimately, there are just so many different aspects to engineering an app for iOS vs. Android that it’s impossible to point a finger at one reason for the size differences, but those are three major reasons.”
Big apps – with large app download sizes and storage on the phone – might be a minor annoyance to people like Pathak, or be a complete non-issue to the users residing in Western markets, but it is certainly a pain in places like India, where much of the population still gets by with patchy networks and limited data plans, and where the 16GB iPhone 5s was the most popular iPhone model last year, according to marketing research firm Counterpoint.
San Francisco-based developer Ben Sandofsky, who was part of the team that made Twitter’s iOS app and has served as a consultant on HBO’s Silicon Valley show, resonated our concerns and said often “employees at these [Western] companies live in an ‘early adopter bubble’. They have LTE connections, fast Wi-Fi at home, and phones with 64 gigs of storage. This creates a huge blind spot around your average user.”
Sandofsky, who recently developed popular third-party Halide camera app for iPhone, added, “another issue is advances that have made the lives of engineers and managers easier, without understanding the burden on users. It’s gotten easier than ever to reuse code between iPhone apps. With a few keystrokes, an engineer can add thousands of lines of code to an app. In theory that’s good, because engineers shouldn’t reinvent the wheel. Unfortunately things have gotten crazy in the last few years, with engineers pulling gigantic libraries that add megabytes to their app’s size, when they could build something much smaller to solve the task at hand in under an hour.”
But that’s not all. Companies, Sandofsky said, often add A/B tests to drive product development. “That means they put small, experimental changes in an app- like changing the colour of a button – and then watch analytics to see if more people click on it. This leads to a bunch of tracking code that delivers no value to end-users. The real problem is the abandoned experiments often languish in the code, unused. Many companies fail to remove them, and so the codebase grows with unused code every day.”
“Too many companies use metrics to drive all decision,” he added. “You can measure when more people click on a button. It’s hard to measure why a user gave up on an app, or why a user never downloaded an app in the first place.”
Game developer Activision Blizzard’s international city-based franchise, Overwatch League, is full-steam ahead, with teams reportedly selling for up to US$20 million.
Chinese internet giant Tencent has announced plans to invest US$15 billion into Chinese e-sports in the next five years. And the Hong Kong Tourism Board is presenting its HK$35 million e-sports gambit – the e-sports and K-pop music festival– this weekend in the Coliseum.
They are all part of a broader trend sweeping the worlds of sports, business and media from Los Angeles to Shanghai.
Announcements are made weekly of million-dollar prize pools, celebrity team owners (Shaq, Ashton Kutcher), massive team sponsorship deals (Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Vodafone) and serious investments from major media companies (Modern Times Group, Facebook).
The business world is giddy at the prospect of tapping into that most lucrative but tricky of demographics: millennials.
With 385 million e-sports fans around the world it’s easy to see why they’re so fired up.
In the e-sports community, many are delighted to finally get investment that could elevate the scene to the heights of traditional sports.
However, just as many are sounding the alarm at the glut of money that’s flooding the scene. They fear a crash is on it’s way that will set the scene back another 10 years.
Given the eye-watering sums of money being thrown around and the sometimes shocking lack of knowledge of those involved, it’s not hard to see why people are worried.
Even if the trend continues, the future will not be rosy for most of those involved. E-sports joining the big leagues means a repeat of the history of sports. The real history of sports is the business of sports. And that business was brutal. The backroom deals which built global powers like Fifa, the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL had no space for sportsmanship.
E-sports may yet prove itself a different beast. Endemic organisations, professional players, and the massive e-sports fan base regularly captivate with the kind of stories that we’ve come to expect from the socially conscious millennial generation.
E-sports fans are building passionate communities that may yet temper corporate ambitions.
We will introduce you to the world of e-sports, tell some of the most interesting stories, and guess (roughly) what the future may hold.
The business world sees e-sports as a massive opportunity. Major players – game developers, traditional sports, media and advertising – see it fitting nicely into the well-defined and immensely lucrative existing framework. Endemics on the other hand, see it as a cultural movement that can forge its own path, upending the sports and business worlds in the process. We’ll take a look at the biggest deals and their impact on the business landscape.
2 People & Society
For those seeking to build a career in e-sports, the business is a roller coaster of heartbreak and elation. Players are betting their future on a place at the top of the professional scene. The scene is a window into the world of a new generation.
Fans see e-sports and participation in the scene as the evolution of competitive spirit. For those born in the age of the internet, traditional sport fails to deliver on the levels of engagement they enjoy in e-sports. Many are capitalising on this, making a living – and in some cases huge incomes – on Twitch and other platforms where they can connect with like-minded individuals. The mainstream rolls its eyes or shakes its head in disbelief.
E-sports isn’t just a dream for individuals. Governments are shaping legislation around it, and others, such as the Hong Kong Tourism Board are even staking the future of entire sectors on it.
E-sports was born in the arcade, and brought up in the era of social media. As a natural partner to technology, e-sports has amazing potential. New businesses are being founded all the time with the aim of meeting the needs of the scene. And many believe e-sports could be the area where the promise of augmented reality and virtual reality comes true.
4 What is it?
E-sports is many different things to many different people. For the mainstream it’s an exciting new phenomenon. For e-sports fans it’s the evolution of a scene that traces its roots back to the competitive gaming and arcade scene of the ’70s and ’80s. E-sports is complicated and frequently misunderstood. The development is also not always viewed positively by those involved in the wider gaming community. We’ll take a closer look at the different games and their cultures, the different aspects of the scene, and we talk to those involved to get their perspectives on what e-sports is to them.
5 The Future
Lastly, we’ll take a stab at where e-sports might be going, the factors at play that will determine which road the scene will go down, and the potential impact it could have on those involved, business, and society as a whole. We’ll discuss some possibilities, and get opinions of those who really understand the scene.
The only thing that’s certain is that it’s here to stay, in some form or another.
If you’ve been thinking about going the cord-cutter route, consider this a sign. Best Buy is selling the SiliconDust HDHomeRun Connect for $70 right now. This external TV tuner features two tuners, allowing you to watch over-the-air (OTA) broadcast TV on two sets or to record one show while watching the other.
The Connect’s specifications say it supports up to 1080p, but broadcast TV is usually 1080i. That’s still 1920-by-1080 resolution, however. The one extra thing you will need in addition to the tuner is a digital antenna.
Once you’re all set up the Connect allows you to pause, rewind, and record broadcast TV. It also works with “most DLNA TVs,” allowing you to hook the device into your router for a multi-room setup.
When we reviewed the Connect back in 2015, we really liked this box. It’s a solid tool for cord cutters who still want to pick up local broadcasts for live sports and the like. You can also use it in concert with Plex and a PC as a heavy-duty DVR.
The one thing the Connect lacked when we reviewed it two years ago was any kind of first-party software to access the tuner on devices. That has since changed, with apps available for Windows 10, Mac, Linux, and Android.
[ Today’s deal: SiliconDust HDHomeRun for $70 at Best Buy. ]
Carrying around the Aadhaar card, the biometrics-based unique identifier, recently became a lot easier when the supervisory agency UIDAI launched the mAadhaar app for Android devices. The app enables you to store all your Aadhaar details, such as name, date of birth, gender, address, etc. on your smartphone, instead of having to keep the physical card with you anymore. But the UIDAI clarified, the mAadhaar app is still in beta testing stage, and we quickly realised this to be true when we checked it out. Here we take a look at the mAadhaar app, its features, and areas where it can do with some improvements.
mAadhaar app: What is it?
For one thing, the features present in the mAadhaar app are still pretty limited. Using the app, you can download you Aadhaar details to your device, which can be used in place of the Aadhaar card itself. The downloaded details include your photo, name, date of birth, Aadhaar number, and a QR code that people can scan to get your Aadhaar information.
Beyond that, you can use the mAadhaar app for Android to see if your biometrics are locked or unlocked, and you can change this status. Of course, it was already fairly simple to lock and unlock your biometrics, via the UIDAI website, but having it available through an app on your phone should simplify things.
One more thing that you can do with the app is generate a time-based OTP (TOTP) through the app, which can be used instead of the SMS-based OTP. This is a useful feature given how unreliable SMS networks can be – if you’ve tried to authenticate anything (such as e-verifying your tax filings, perhaps) with your Aadhaar number, then you know how much of a delayed response this can lead to at times. Having a TOTP option should, hopefully, be much more reliable and faster.
In fact, the mAadhaar app itself is a great example of why SMS OTP does not really work. That’s because, in order to use the app, when you enter your Aadhaar details, you’re verified via SMS OTP. Except of course, when we tried to use it, there were a huge number of issues. The SMS did not come and it took multiple attempts before we finally got it. The app tries reading the SMS automatically, except the app would freeze automatically, and we had to start over from the beginning.
This went on multiple times, with the app crashing rather than being willing to add us, until finally, with no real explanation, it worked and we were in.
mAadhaar app: Areas of improvement
Another issue with the way SMS OTP has been implemented with this app is that you can’t manually enter the OTP. You have to give the app access to your SMS inbox, and if you were thinking that you could keep the app on your tablet while getting the OTP on your phone – that’s not going to work. This also means that you can’t store your family members’ Aadhaar details using the Aadhaar app, as the number that’s linked to your Aadhaar should match with the SIM card in your phone. That’s quite likely intended as a security precaution, and thus not likely to change over time.
On the other hand, the mAadhaar app is expected to add new features over time, which would be great, because right now it’s of limited use. TOTP is one reason why we would want to have this app; unlocking biometrics quickly is another area which could be useful. But unless you’re using the Aadhaar for a lot of authentications, it’s not clear why you’d need to have these features on your phone.
5 things you should know about the mAadhaar app
Watch the video below to check out the five things you need to know about the new mAadhaar app, such as checking out the updated look of the Aadhaar card if you update some details, among others.
Due to rapid urbanisation, construction, vehicular pollution and dust, India is home to 13 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities. A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that 1.3 million people in India die as a result of indoor air pollution. Moreover, one third of the world’s asthma patients are from India. That makes staying healthy outdoors and at home more important than ever.
Not many people in India are aware of the fact the air pollution is abysmal especially in the metros. But people are now slowly waking up to the need to invest in an air purifier for their homes and cars.
While most people understand that the air outside is harmful due to visible pollution, many don’t realise how deadly the inside air is. We spend the maximum amount of our time indoors – at home, in a car, inside a public building and at a workplace. Pollutants and allergens such as residues, fungal spores, cleaning agents, cooking smoke, paint fumes, varnishes, pet dander, and accumulated dust can make your indoor air even more deadly than outdoor pollution.
However, with the lack of knowledge and industry standards being haywire in India, buying an air purifier can be tricky. There are many factors to be kept in mind before making an informed purchase decision. It is not only important for a consumer to be aware of certain specifications while buying in an air purifier but also not to be influenced by the sales executives.
The below guide will help you identify with what to look for while buying an air purifier –
1. Room size
This is the most important factor to consider while shopping for an air purifier. The room size will determine as to what kind of air purifier you need (ranging from compact to bigger ones). It is advisable to go for a product that is designed bigger as compared to the size of the room. Also, just don’t go by the room area mentioned on the product, consider the room height as well while choosing an air purifier. For example, it will be effective to buy an air purifier which can cater to a 450-500 sq feet room if the size of the room is 300 sq feet with room height of 9ft.
a. Delivery Rate (CADR): CADR stands for clean air delivery rate which means the CADR level will show you how much clean air is coming out of the purifier and how quickly the product functions. Higher the CADR, better is the air filtration capacity of the air purifier. Depending on the type of room space, go for a product that has the highest CADR rating.
b. Air Changes Per Hour (ACH): ACH determines how quickly and often the air purifier can clean the room in an hour. Given the level of pollution we have in cities like Delhi, opt for a product which offers four ACH as the air purifier needs to constantly clean the air every 15 minutes (4 times in an hour).
Considering the fierce competition in the market, brands will boast about their CADR but will not say much about the ACH rating. So even if the product has a high coverage area capacity but shows a low level of ACH, please re-think on the air cleaning capacity and overall quality of the product and chose accordingly.
Technology is a critical parameter to look at while selecting an air purifier. There are products available with both Active and Passive filtration technology. It is important to understand this difference in technology. An air purifier using Active technology releases elements into the air to ionize pollutants that might lead to ozone generation. On the other hand, an air purifier using passive technology are media based filters that arrests and absorbs the pollutants without releasing any ozone making them a better option to consider while buying the product.
We all know that filters are the main components of an air purifier. Hence, the type and quality of the filter determines the effectiveness of the product (just like the battery life of a smartphone). The filter must be equipped to remove pollutants like pollen, dust, smoke, odour and other harmful substances from the air. The air purifier should have a pre-filter that can remove large particles from the air at the initial filtration stage. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are most effective as they are tested and certified. One should consider that the cost of replacing the filter is huge so the product should have optimum number of filters that lasts for a considerable amount of time before needing a replacement (roughly four-five months). Having said that, one should change the filters regularly to increase the lifespan of the purifier.
Another important factor while buying an air purifier is the “Filter replacement” indicator which indicates the health of filters for timely replacement.
Portability of the air purifier and weight plays an important role. A small air purifier can also have the ability to clean a big room effectively. Don’t go by the size and weight as a big air purifier will be costlier and can take up a lot of room.
6. Noise and energy consumption
It is recommended to go for an air purifier which produces less noise so that it doesn’t disturb your sleep. Also, it should go easy on energy consumption so that it is light on the pocket.
General points to keep in mind –
1. Air Purifiers don’t work effectively when doors and windows of the room are kept open
2. One size does not fit all i.e. a portable air purifier will only cater to one room
3. Considering electricity costs, go for an air purifier with energy saving options/ratings
4. Make sure that the air purifier comes with a warranty, and offers good customer service and easy replacement of filters
5. For best results, air purifiers should be kept running always
A new update has started hitting the Gionee A1 smartphone that brings changes related to the device’s selfie camera. Specifically, the update includes the ability to capture panoramic selfies as well as Full HD selfie videos.
The Chinese company says users will now also get visual guidance aimed at enhancing their photography experience.
This is the third update the A1 has received ever since the handset launched earlier this year. Given that a detailed change-log isn’t accessible, it’s difficult to say what other changes (if any) are included in the update.
Dell’s new 2-in-1 laptop just went on sale. But what’s most interesting about it is that it’s the first 2-in-1 computer to support wireless charging. That is, if you shell out the extra $550 it costs to get the 7285’s wireless charging keyboard accessory and the charging mat that goes along with it (keyboard only will set you back $380, the charging mat is $200). Mind you, the tablet computer is already pretty steep starting at $1200.
While the tablet itself doesn’t actually charge wirelessly, you’ll need to have the 2-in-1 docked to the wireless-compatible keyboard. In addition, Dell says that the charging pad is not designed to be used on metal surfaces.
In fact, if you want to use the computer on a metal surface, you’ll need to use a non-metal stand that would raise the base at least 50mm (almost 2 inches). Perhaps wireless charging isn’t the most practical (or cost effective) method of charging on the Latitude 7285 2-in-1.
The Dell Latitude 7285 starts at $1200 with a Core-i5-7Y54 and 128GB of internal storage. 8GB of RAM and a 12-inch display really push the entry-level specs. Check out Source 1 for the press release or Source 2 for Dell’s product site.