Monday, January 21, 2013

Find: Verifying ID on android backends

Verifying Back-End Calls from Android Apps

Posted by Tim Bray

Most Android apps have some sort of server-side back end, to persist and share data. Even the most basic game needs to remember its players’ high scores. When you’re building your back end, one problem you have to solve is how the back-end code knows what app it’s talking to and who the person using it is.

You probably have HTTP endpoints for communicating with your client apps, but how can the server-side code be sure who’s sending messages to it? After all, anyone can send HTTP POST requests from anywhere; could they impersonate your users if they could guess their identities?

It’s really user-unfriendly to ask people to type in usernames and passwords on mobile devices. In particular, if someone has installed your app and given it permission to use the Internet and know your identity, they shouldn’t be pestered any more.

It turns out that Google Play services, now available on every compatible device running Android release 2.2 or higher, offers a good solution to this problem, based on the use of Google Accounts.


Doing this is a multi-step process, which I’ll outline in full, but here’s the short version: You use the GoogleAuthUtil class, available through Google Play services, to retrieve a string called an “ID Token”. You send the token to your back end and your back end can use it to quickly and cheaply verify which app sent it and who was using the app.

This capability is built into Google facilities such as App Engine’s new Cloud Endpoints feature, which bakes app/back-end identity into a simple programming model.

Now let’s get to the details.

App Registration

You’re going to have to use the Google API Console quite a bit in this process. You’ll need to make a new project for this purpose; while you can give it a nice human-readable name and graphical branding, it turns out that those resources aren’t used in this particular scenario.

You can also authorize this project to access a large number of different Google APIs; but once again, you don’t need to in this scenario.

You should give serious thought to the people you autho...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Find: Ford AppLink opens floodgates to in-car iOS, Android, and BlackBerry apps

Ford AppLink opens floodgates to in-car iOS, Android, and BlackBerry apps

"It's open, it's global, it's live, let's hack!" says Ford's John Eliss, global technologist for connected services. Ford has been leading the way in networking its cars and encouraging app developers to give Ford vehicles an edge in the increasingly technology-obsessed motor industry. So travelled to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to try them out.

Pandora, Amazon Cloud Player, BeCouply, and Kaliki are four of the 63 in-car apps that currently make use of the microphones, speakers, control panels and smartphone connectivity found in Ford dashboards. With the free SDK kits available, they're the first of a flood of apps that will provide useful content and services that help the driver without causing distraction—they use voice commands to avoid fiddly keypad text entry.

By 2014 there will be 14 million app-capable Fords on the road, and with no cost for the SDK or a royalty fee and free advice at, there's plenty of incentive for novice developers to get busy. All new Fords will be compatible, and the apps themselves can be downloaded onto Android or iOS devices, explained Eliss.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Find: Draft bill would make mobile developers delete your stored data

Draft bill would make mobile developers delete your stored data

hank johnson (official)

US Representative Hank Johnson (D, GA) is unveiling a new draft bill that would require app developers to disclose their information-gathering practices, and allow users to request their stored information to be deleted. The Application Privacy, Protection, and Security (APPS) Act of 2013 is the culmination of a six-month web-based initiative called AppRights, and according to Johnson, incorporates three provisions championed by the project’s participants — user control, transparency, and security.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Find: RIM’s BlackBerry 10 bets on gestures for its saving grace

I don't think it's enough to save rim. 


RIM’s BlackBerry 10 bets on gestures for its saving grace

Later this month, RIM will officially pull the cover off its revamped mobile operating system, dubbed BlackBerry 10. Finally, consumers will be able to decide for themselves whether it's worth giving the BlackBerry ecosystem another shot. The Canada-based company has been working hard on the software for about 15 months, even while it was drastically losing market share to companies like Samsung and Apple (who have both practically dominated the smartphone scene). However, if what we saw of BlackBerry 10 is any indication, RIM could have a second wave up its sleeve, or at the very least entice its 80 million-strong customer base to stick with it. This all depends on whether or not users can learn to love its gestures—if they can even learn them at all.

(Before you delve into the preview, we apologize for the caliber of the photography. Taking photos of mobile screens on prototype devices is difficult in a dimly lit room, and we appreciate your understanding.)

Gestures, gestures, gestures!

Plenty of gadgets use gestures. Apple's MultiTouch TrackPad uses two- and three-finger swipes for navigating back and forth between webpages or switching between Spaces. Microsoft's Surface tablet features the ability to set up a custom gesture for unlocking the device. Even RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook utilized a few gestures of its own, and that's actually where the company has taken its inspiration for gestures in BlackBerry 10.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Find: Nvidia unveils Tegra 4, 'world's fastest mobile processor'

Nvidias latest mobile graphics chip. Still without integrated lte, so still requiring too much power. 


Nvidia unveils Tegra 4, 'world's fastest mobile processor'


Nvidia has just announced its next-generation Tegra 4 processor for smartphones, tablets, and notebooks. The Tegra 4, like its predecessor, features a quad-core processor along with a fifth, low power, core to save battery life. Although it retains the 4-plus-1 setup of Tegra 3, Nvidia's fourth-generation chip is built on an all-new architecture. The company's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang says that Tegra 4 is the world's fastest mobile processor, surpassing everything currently on the market. Nvidia hasn't revealed the clock speed of the Tegra 4's processor yet, but it does say that it has 72 GPU cores — we imagine its referring to CUDA cores here. Although it hasn't been confirmed, it's been rumored that Tegra 4 is produced using a new 28nm...

Find: Nvidia Shield handheld streams users' PC games, connects to Steam and Big Picture Mode

Pretty cool. Full graphics capabilities streamed to your mobile. Nu what is the latency?


Nvidia Shield handheld streams users' PC games, connects to Steam and Big Picture Mode


Nvidia has just announced at its CES press conference that its new Shield handheld gaming device can connect to users' home PCs to stream and play games. To work, users need an Nvidia Kepler-based graphics card (GTX 650 or GTX 660M or higher), which utilizes a piece of software in GeForce Experience. Games streamed to the device must also support controller input, though Nvidia says some games without controller support can be played by mapping control buttons to the Shield's inputs. The move will allow PC gamers to extend their game sessions to the handheld or through Shield to their TVs without having to lug their computer towers or gaming laptops over to the living room.

In a demo on stage, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang played Assassin's...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Find: IndyState of Android - Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean get a big bump from the holidays

40 % ics or newer. 


Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean get a big bump from the holidays

There's still a long road ahead, but Gingerbread is slowly loosening its grip on the Android ecosystem.

Android market share numbers for the end of December have just gone up on the Android Developers site, and the story is much the same as it was last month: Android 4.0, 4.1, and 4.2 continue to gain ground over older versions of the software. Version 2.3, codenamed Gingerbread, still powers more of the Android devices that accessed Google Play in the last two weeks of December than any other version, but its share has finally fallen below 50 percent (it now sits at 47.4 percent, down from 50.7 percent last month).

Now, 39.3 percent of all Android users are running Ice Cream Sandwich or newer, with 10.2 percent of those users running one of the two Jelly Bean versions. Some of this sizable uptick—up from 34.2 percent just last month—doubtlessly reflects the number of Android phones and tablets given as gifts over the holidays. Though Android 4.2 is still confined largely to Google's Nexus devices, it's rare to find a new device that isn't at least running Ice Cream Sandwich.

Some of the increase, especially Android 4.1's 3.1 percent jump, can also be attributed to Samsung's Galaxy S III, which began receiving its Android 4.1 updates in earnest in the middle of December. Samsung's flagship is one of the most popular Android handsets with consumers. The Verizon version of the handset likely accounts for a good deal of the upgraded phones given Verizon's status as the United States' largest wireless carrier.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Find: Conflict-free - FairPhone struggles for more ethical smartphones in 2013

Good idea: not sure I'll pay more for these though because phones are already overpriced. 

Conflict-free: FairPhone struggles for more ethical smartphones in 2013

Credit: Fairphone via Flickr

Here’s something interesting you might find on a holiday wish list as early as next year: a fair-trade smartphone.

It’s an idea that’s been floating around for a while, a phone designed to have minimal impact on humans and the environment — and under FairPhone, a Dutch initiative for responsible tech, it’s quickly taking form. It’s a reminder that beneath the sleek shells of metal and plastic many will discover in their holiday stockings this year is a far less cheerful story. One increasingly familiar part of that story is the unethical treatment of factory workers, an issue which seems to arise again and again within even the most progressive sections of China's colossal manufacturing sector.

The full picture, of course,...