Sorry, Apple Photos, but I'm leaving you for Google Photos

 
 
Image: bob al-greene/mashable

When Google Photos launched two years ago, I installed it for one very simple reason: to backup all of my photos and videos to the cloud. It was a second home screen app on my iPhone, not yet worthy of being on my main home screen with Apple Photos.

Sometime in the last few months it snuck its way onto my main home screen. I'm not sure when it happened, but it did. And lately as I've fallen more in love with its growing features and intelligence, I've been wondering why I even need two photos apps on my home screen.

I don't.

One is enough and I'm finally ready to make it my default photos app. And here's why you should too.

I have a long list of reasons for why Google Photos is superior to Apple Photos.

Let's start with storage, because that's one of its most attractive features. Right off the bat, for the cost of zero dollars, Google Photos offers unlimited photo and video storage in the cloud. Pay for iCloud storage? No thanks, I'm too cheap.

Sure, you've gotta be OK with photos being saved at a maximum of 16 megapixels and videos at full HD, but I'm fine with that. My iPhone 7 only takes 12-megapixel photos and I almost never record videos in 4K, anyway. If you really want to save your photos and videos at full resolution you can always pay for premium storage.

Search is another reason I'm head over heels for Google Photos. By applying machine learning and advanced image recognition, Google Photos is able to intelligently and accurately identify people, places, and things.

I'm constantly impressed by how spot-on the face detection is. It's by no means perfect, but it's really, really good — way better than face detection in Apple Photos which ID's me as five different people, for some reason:

Yo Apple, that's me, me, me, me, and ME again. Different haircut, but still me.
Image: screenshot: raymond wong/mashable

Other reasons Google Photos is the bomb-diggity? Here's a list:

  • It automatically makes really cheesy, but fun-to-watch mini movies for me. 
  • It knows how to turn a batch of burst photos into a GIF. 
  • Sometimes its Assistant (not to be confused with the Google Assistant) delights me by magically turning a turd photo into an beautiful one.
  • It can automatically make collages. 
  • It loves moms 
  • It has more granular editing features, including an auto-enhance feature that always makes my photos pop more than Apple Photos. 
  • On Android it fixes your stupid shaky videos .

These are all kick-ass features that embarrass the crap out of Apple Photos, and yet weren't enough to force me to move the app to home screen four where my folder of non-removable Apple iPhone apps lives.

Thinking hard on why, I can only come up with one reason: Apple Photos connects directly to the iPhone's camera app. If Apple let me pick which photos app to save photos and videos directly — and it'll never give iOS users that kinda control — I probably would left Apple Photos a long time ago.

But, it's not enough anymore. At its I/O developer conference, Google showed off several Google Photos features that are too impressive to pass on.

The first is Google Lens, which makes use of computer vision to understand what's happening in a photo and then provide useful contextual actions.

Google Lens working its magic at ID'ing the Willis Tower.
Image: raymond wong/mashable

For example, Google Lens could identify Chicago's Willis Tower in a photo, and then display some quick facts about it from Wikipedia, reviews, and operating hours. Additionally, Google Lens will give you options to get search results, Google Maps directions, and call the place up.

Another example of Google Lens's AI skills: identifying a painting in a photo.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

In a nutshell, Google Lens is like Google Image Search, but for your photos. It's insane, and when Google Photos gets Google Lens later this year, it's gonna change the very way we think of photos. Years from now we're gonna wonder how we ever lived without Google Lens.

The other two new Google Photos features — Suggested Sharing and Shared Libraries— aren't quite as magical as Google Lens, but still solve very real problems.

Suggested Sharing helps automate the tedious process of sharing photos by looking at who you share certain photos with, and then suggesting them as potential people to share with in the future. Not only that, but Suggested Sharing can also identify the people in your photos and then suggest sharing those photos to them — because why wouldn't they want that group selfie they're in?

Sharing Libraries lets you share select photos from your library automatically to another approved person's library. The example Google Photos chief Anil Sabharwal used to demonstrate Share Libraries at I/O was that of a husband and wife. With the feature turned on and his wife approved, any photos he takes that has their son in it would automatically get shared to her library. It's powerful stuff.

As compelling as these three new Google Photos features are, they're only scratching the surface of what Google's AI can do for Google Photos.

Though Google didn't explicitly say the ability to remove obstructions like the fence in the photo below would be a feature coming to Google Photos, the fact that the company showed it could do it demonstrates it's usefulness. It's not hard to imagine a one-tap feature in Google Photos that effectively removes objects (there are many apps that already do this, but none of them with such impressive results).

Image: google

Google's right that your photos app shouldn't just be a place to see all of your photos and videos in reverse chronological order. It should be smart and help you do shit and know shit that's relevant to your media. Apple Photos dabbles a little with AI, but Google Photos embraces it fully, and the end result is magic.

It was a hard decision to make, but I finally pulled the trigger and moved Apple Photos from my main home screen and into my "Apple Crap" folder on home screen four. Sayonara!

I don't want to pretend like I won't ever use it again (I know I will), but Google Photos is the future (for me at least). Maybe Apple will win me back at WWDC next month, but until it happens, Google Photos is my new photos app bae. Now... to find an app worthy enough to fill the vacancy left by Apple Photos.

Mobile Development Platform Comparisons – IONIC VS PHONEGAP VS XAMARIN VS TITANIUM

Developing apps that are compatible on versatile platforms and devices is the real pain, which by no means allowed persistence. Until now, it was believed that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to mobile app development. With the evolution and matured HTML5 platform, the mobile app development industry is seeing a stiff rise in cross-platform app development. Taking advantage of the newly available tools and technologies, developing hybrid mobile apps that work well across different platforms and devices is the rising trend.

The Rise of Cross-Platform (Hybrid) Apps

rise-of-hybrid-apps

Mobile devices of all sorts, all sizes, and all configurations are pouring into the market across the globe with the barrage showing no optimistic signs of stopping. It is not at all feasible for businesses to build applications for different platforms or operating systems by learning different coding languages. Cross-platform, mobile app development tools have significantly simplified the mobile app development process, allowing developers to code once and use the same application on a variety of platforms.

A company in need of delivering apps fast must find a comprehensive cross-platform mobile app development tool. A tool having necessary templates that would take away all the travails right from the efforts necessary to lay the groundwork of the app. The foundation is already there as companies interested in cross-platform app development can utilize different open source frameworks.

Review of Different Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks

Here we will take into account four major cross-app development tools – Ionic, PhoneGap, Xamarin and Titanium. Comparing advantages and disadvantages of different frameworks will help you make an informed decision about a specific platform that suits best with your hybrid mobile app development project.

Ionic Framework:

ionic_logo-svg Ionic is an open-source SDK for hybrid app development, built on top of Angular JS and Apache Cordova. The tools and services required for cross-platform app development are provided using known web technologies like CSS, HTML5, and SaaS.

 

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  •   Single source for all supported platforms, especially Android and OSX.
  •   The majority of app development is carried out using HTML, CSS, and JS, which is not new to many developers
  •   With Ionic, you avail a chance to use distinctive framework of Angular JS that is embedded in it by default
  • Good and versatile availability of plugins.
  • Nicely covered UI patterns like tabs, header, bars, lists and cards.
  • Use of CSS to override styles offers an extravagant experience
  • As the learning curve for Angular JS is stiff, Ionic is not a better option for developers not acquainted with Angular JS
  • Risk of early adoption as Ionic is presumed to be still in its infancy stage, Support, standards keep on changing, and at any unknown moment, even the libraries are completely rewritten
  • While you can easily create, Interface and Database type of apps, it is harder to create graphic games and high-end apps using Ionic.

PhoneGap:

phonegap_1024 Amongst all cross-platform app development tools, PhoneGap is one of the most popular platforms used to create hybrid apps. PhoneGap is an open source platform and is often known as Apache Cordova, which brings the amazing support of JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3. Developers simply love to create cross-platform apps using PhoneGap along with Foreign Function Interfaces.

 

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Reduced learning curve as it utilizes JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3 languages, already known to developers
  • Apps developed using PhoneGap can be installed similar to native apps by leveraging easy app store discoverability
  • PhoneGap follows plug-in architecture increasing the chances of extending native device APIS in modular ways
  • PhoneGap allows distribution and integration of payment through the app store.
  •  It is free and open source saving you the licensing costs
  • It is easier to seek assistance from tons of libraries for further enhancing the functionality and flexibility of PhoneGap

 

  • Performance issues might arise if too many graphic elements are induced in the app architecture.
  • Not clear information, user guidelines or directions are available that could enhance the performance and quality of cross-platform app developed using PhoneGap
  • The PhoneGap’s API still does not support a large number of native APIs
  • As there is not much control over hardware, apps might become slower with frequent render updates
  • Possibility of memory leakage as it does not have cache/memory management

 

Xamarin

xamarin-logo Launched in 2011, Xamarin is a mono framework used for cross-platform app development. It is widely used for communicating with the Application Program Interface (API) of common mobile device functions like contacts, camera, and geolocation for android, iOS, and Windows operating systems. It allows developers to use almost 100% native libraries of both Android and iOS, Xamarin is best for building applications using C# programming language running on .NET Common Language Infrastructure (CLI).

 

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Xamarin re-uses business logic layers, codes and data access across platforms to develop effective offline applications.
  • At first, the license costs might seem higher, but with MSDN subscription discounts for a sizeable team and projects, you ought to receive higher returns.
  • Xamarin is a native platform wrapping native libraries with a .NET layer with C# making it highly customizable and open to all third party libraries written for Android and iOS environments.
  • The cross-platform apps developed with Xamarin can do anything a native app does as it helps in implementing very performing code underneath resulting in improved overall performance of the app.
  •  Xamarin Forms, is a very simple API, allows developers to build very beautiful native UI for all the platforms.

 

  • Either the .NET developer must understand the mobile development or a mobile developer should learn .NET for using Xamarin. It is necessary to have knowledge of some platform-specific app architecture or framework that has Objective-C or Java flavor.
  • Due to framework libraries in Xamarin, an issue of unreasonable app size might arise to be downloaded from Google Play or iOS App Store.
  • Xamarin Forms offer about more than 40 UI controls (still growing); however, a developer is not able to access all the other Android specific UI controls, requiring him/her to write platform specific codes for such controls.

 

 

Titanium:

titanium-logo Licensed under Apache, Titanium is an open–source, cross-platform mobile app development framework by Appcelerator. The framework is coded in such a way that it offers an integrated environment to the developers for developing an extensive range of mobile applications. Based on JavaScript, it also entails HTML5, CSS3, and JQuery. Cross-platform mobile apps developed with Titanium are lightweight and of high quality, delivering a heart-stopping experience across all mobile platforms.

 

Advantages: Disadvantages:
  • Comprising of HTML5, CSS5, JQuery, JavaScript and Ajax it becomes easier for mobile developers to learn the heart and soul aspect of titanium.
  • The platform-independent API can access the advanced features of modern devices such as touch screen, camera, GPS navigation, and much more to develop feature rich applications.
  • Build quick prototypes using the integrated environment and get instant user feedback.
  • 200,000+ developers and 35,000+ apps developed, Titanium is a large community offering access to its Open Mobile Marketplace.
  • It recently acquired ‘Cocoafish’ for implementing cloud service and functionality in its platform to develop performance-oriented applications.
  • Titanium increases development as well as cost complexities more than proportional to increased application complexity.
  • Due to the version and build, Titanium might give rise to SDK related issues, leading to loss of time and efforts, which is not good, especially when you are constrained to the delivery of products and features.
  • It offers ‘StoreKit’ a module enabling in-app purchases to Apple’s App Store, which is slightly painful and complex.
  • It was better with Titanium Developer. Since the introduction of Titanium Studio (Eclipse based IDE built on modified version of Aptana), it has increased the learning curve making it unstable and uncomfortable at times.

 

Conclusion:

Frameworks used for cross-platform mobile app development are, is widely accepted as an important ingredient to make a winning recipe reaching out wider user base across different mobile platforms. Nevertheless, overcoming numerous challenges as if security, performance, lack of standardization, quality and compatibility are still some of the unsolicited issues. Depending on the enterprise requirement like Native UI, reduced code, cost-efficiency, flexibility, code re-usability and more above-mentioned factors will definitely help an enterprise to select the best framework for cross-platform mobile app development.

Contact Neocom to help you and your business to create modern mobile apps.

Does your club want to earn more money while.....

Does your club want to earn more money while.....

• Giving updated news and information to players, supporters and sponsors

• Instantly advising cancellations – No More Phone Trees!!

• Publishing game schedules and results

• Building Club Spirit

Announcing the pending release of the NeocomSports application. Contact us today to see how we can help your club.

Powerful HTML5

HTML5 is the thing to talk about these days. Today, we have a collection of some ridiculously impressive HTML5 canvas-based experiments that will make you say, "Wow!" Let's take a peek at some of the latest, cutting edge examples out there.

Contact Neocom to help you build exactly what you want.

 

This is one of the best canvas-based experiments.

This is one of my favorites -- absolutely amazing!

This example generates beautiful fractals, like the ones generated by Apophysis. Be sure to tick the composite :) .

This is a really fun game; is it not as easy as it looks!

This incredible example depicts real world physics in action.

Try to guess the word. :P

This is a beautiful example which demonstrates audio and canvas in action.

So what do you think? Getting your own ideas for a neat canvas application? 

How to protect yourself from the global ransomware attack

The WannaCry ransomware worm hits governments and businesses across Asia and experts warn of a wider impact to come globally.
 

Security experts are bracing for more fallout from Friday's worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack, which has so far affected more than 150 countries and major businesses and organisations, including FedEx, Renault and Britain's National Health Service. But if you're just hearing about this attack - or waking up to an unresponsive computer of your own - here's what you need to understand about what law enforcement officials have called the biggest such attack in history.

What's ransomware?

Ransomware is a kind of malicious software that, as its name implies, takes a computer hostage and holds it for ransom. In this case, the attackers are asking for at least $435 (US$300) in bitcoins for each computer affected by the attack.

US and European officials scrambled to catch the culprits behind a  ransomware worm that caused damage across the globe ...
 

US and European officials scrambled to catch the culprits behind a ransomware worm that caused damage across the globe over the weekend.

 

With ransomware attacks, the malware locks down a target machine, encrypting its data and preventing the owner from accessing it until he or she agrees to pay up.

READ MORE:
CERT NZ receives 'unconfirmed' reports WannaCry ransomware has struck NZ
Cyber attack: what you need to know
Worse cyber attacks to come  
Global cyberattack: A (short, jargon-free) beginner's guide
New Zealand on watch as cyberattack hits 100 countries
UK hospitals turn away patients after cyberattack cripples computers worldwide 

How many people have been affected by the current strain, WannaCry?

The attackers who shut down Britain's National Health Service demanded $300 worth of the online currency Bitcoin.
TWITTER

The attackers who shut down Britain's National Health Service demanded $300 worth of the online currency Bitcoin.

 

Over the weekend, Europol officials said that some 200,000 computers have been hit by the malware. But that number has almost certainly risen as people in Asia - who had logged off for the workweek before WannaCry began spreading - have returned to work. On Monday, the Japanese electronics maker Hitachi, a prominent Korean theatre chain and the Chinese government said their systems had been affected. Chinese state media reported that 40,000 businesses and institutions have been hit, according to NPR, including universities, gas stations and city services.

And that's just a measure of the electronic consequences of WannaCry. The software attack has taken a toll on many people in the real world. Health care providers in Britain's National Health Service (NHS), for example, were forced to turn ambulances away and cancel or delay cancer treatments for patients over the weekend, though officials say 80 per cent of the NHS's systems were unaffected and that the disruption is easing.

Are victims paying the ransom?

Some are. The news site Quartz has set up a Twitter bot to track the bitcoin wallets linked to the attack, which are growing fatter by the minute.

The three bitcoin wallets tied to ransomware have received 194 payments totaling 31.38971127 BTC ($53,453.58 USD).

 

The three bitcoin wallets tied to WannaCry ransomware have received 194 payments totaling 31.38971127 BTC ($53,453.58 USD).

Businesses and organisations seem to have been hit pretty hard, particularly overseas. Why?

It's largely a question of resources and attention. Security experts say the attack could have been prevented if many businesses had simply kept their machines up to date with the latest software. In reality, doing that may be more difficult than it sounds, either because of corporate cultures that don't prioritise security or because of a lack of funding to upgrade to the latest and greatest.

That raises questions about inequality in technology, said Stewart Baker, a former general counsel at the National Security Agency. Many people, he said, run pirated versions of Microsoft operating systems because they feel they cannot afford the real thing. Those people "are at risk - they're probably not getting updates," he said.

Other organisations, he said, may have stuck with legacy software because it worked and paying to upgrade to new versions of Windows didn't seem necessary.

But after the highly public spread of WannaCry, companies around the globe no longer have an excuse to forgo system updates, said one former Obama administration official.

"It's no longer a cost of doing business," said R David Edelman, who advised US President Barack Obama on technology. "It's going to be a cost of staying in business."

I've been hit by WannaCry. Should I pay?

Some of those who have paid the WannaCry ransom have regained control of their computers, security researchers say. Still, many are urging consumers not to pay the ransom if they can avoid it because giving in simply encourages attackers to pump out more ransomware, and victims may not get their data back even if they do pay.

Analysts have noticed an uptick of ransomware attacks in recent years, with most predicting an even bigger increase in 2017.

The ransomtrojan is just the latest in a long list of similar trojans. Our ransomtrojan map 2010-2017.

 

What if I don't have the luxury of fighting the ransomware?

The bad news is, you might be stuck with paying or wiping your machine and starting over from a clean install. But the next best thing you can do is help reduce the odds of being hit next time. We'll get to some tips in a minute.

Who's being targeted? Am I safe?

The WannaCry ransomware targets Windows computers, particularly those running Windows XP, an aging operating system that Microsoft largely stopped supporting in 2014. If you're running the most recent version of Windows, or XP with the appropriate security patches, you should be okay (though you should really stop using XP right away).

What about Apple and Android devices?

Apple computers appear not to be affected by WannaCry, but that does not mean that Macs or iPhones are immune to malware in general. As Apple has gained more marketshare, its products have become a much bigger target for attackers. And Android phones are notoriously susceptible to malware, in part because many Android phones run outdated versions of the system and it's incumbent on cellphone carriers to push updates. If you prefer using Android, consider switching to one of Google's proprietary handsets, such as the Pixel, which tend to receive Google's software patches as soon as they're released.

Who's behind the WannaCry attack?

It's unclear who the attackers are, but we do somewhat know about the origins of the ransomware. The vulnerability in Windows that WannaCry takes advantage of was discovered by the NSA for its surveillance toolkit. But word got out when a hacker group known as the Shadow Brokers dumped a bunch of leaked NSA information onto the Internet in April. Microsoft, however, had already issued a software update the month before; those that downloaded and installed the patch were protected from WannaCry, but many others lagged behind and became victims.

Microsoft is now warning that the government practice of "stockpiling" software vulnerabilities so that they can be used as weapons is a misguided tactic that weakens security for everybody.

"An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen," the company said Sunday.

How can I protect myself?

Bottom line: Make sure your device's software is up to date. Software updates often contain lots of patches that fix bugs and close security loopholes; regularly using Windows Update or the Software Update feature on a Mac will help insulate you from problems. But you can also set your devices to install those updates automatically so you don't even have to think about it. Hackers prey on complacency.

In addition, you can:

* Create backups of your most important files, either by downloading them to an external hard drive or by storing them in a cloud-based storage service.

* Use a password manager to create and keep track of unique, hard-to-remember (and thus hard-to-break) passwords for each of your services. It's a little counterintuitive, but experts say it's much more secure than the alternative, which is reusing the same password across multiple websites.

* Check your medical and credit reports for evidence of fraudulent activity.

* At work, check with your IT administrator to make sure your organisation's devices are protected from WannaCry.

* Remember to treat unexpected emails with caution, and read up on phishing - one of the most common types of social engineering attacks used by attackers to compromise machines.

"Ransomware is following the same trajectory as phishing," said Phillip Hallam-Baker, an expert at the digital security firm Comodo.

"The criminals have worked out how to monetise the crime, and they know which types of businesses are likely to pay up - and how to collect the money without being caught."

 - The Washington Post