Posts tagged developers

Atlassian’s Geeky Software Carves Out A Big Home With Developers

f you’re not a developer, you’re not going to understand Atlassian’s success. Atlassian employs no salespeople, yet it’s doing over $200 million in annual sales, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal.

While enterprise software companies struggle to make their wares more consumer-friendly, Atlassian builds software that only a developer could love: It’s geeky, not super intuitive and frankly somewhat unpleasant to use for a business user like myself.

Yet it’s now worth $3.3 billion. How’s that?

Of The Developer, For The Developer

Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar told The Wall Street Journal that “These days, people are making decisions based on how good the products are.” The definition of “good” may not be the same for developers as it is for the average business user, however.

Wikis, issue tracking systems, Git code hosting, etc.—these are not tools your head of marketing really wants to use. I should know: Every time I have to fill out a JIRA request to get content changed on my company’s website, a little part of me dies inside.

Then again, I’m not Atlassian’s target market. The developer is. And developers love Atlassian.

In the world of developers, the definition of “ease of use” differs. This is a world that still thinks fondly on the command line. Even among this crowd, however, Twitter’s Chris Aniszczyk posits that Atlassian’s software may not be the best, but rather the best of a bad lot:

I’ll take Chris’ word since I’m not much of a developer tools power user myself, but it’s his latter argument that I find so compelling: Atlassian succeeds, in part, because it treats its developer audience with serious respect.

Giving Tribute To Developers

This reason behind Atlassian’s success is echoed by Fintan Ryan of Strand Weaving, who suggests Atlassian tools are “the best of a limited bunch, and relatively configurable.”

While the first part of Ryan’s comment suggests Atlassian doesn’t deserve much credit, it’s the second half that really sets Atlassian apart. Developers don’t want unnecessary frills that get in the way of productivity. This same desire is what has driven GitHub, AWS and other developer-focused software to succeed. 

That group of tools developers love is a very small club. As it turns out, it’s very hard to develop tools a wide array of developers want to use. 

Not only does Atlassian support the things developers already do, but as Operational Results web developer Cody Nolden notes, Atlassian’s tools may actually expose problems in team workflows:

They’re very configurable and can match whatever workflow your team uses. I’ve found that when I struggle to use Atlassian tools it’s because of more underlying struggles as a team not knowing what process we follow and we haven’t configured accordingly.

Ultimately, Atlassian succeeds not because it’s the best tool among a bad bunch, but because it respects developers’ time and concerns. Tools like JIRA are intentionally not flashy. They’re utilitarian, not because Atlassian lacks creativity, but because the company cares more about what developers want than what marketing or sales or other groups within a company may want. This shows not only in the software itself, but also in how it’s sold: Atlassian is salesperson-free, over-the-web, and costs a reasonable amount of money.

That’s a great strategy for appealing to developers.

View full post on ReadWrite

Developers, Check Your Amazon Bills For Bitcoin Miners

Amazon Web Services gives developers access to massive computing capability. Now hackers have found ways to hijack some accounts and use that power to make money on someone else’s dime.

Joe Moreno’s bill for Amazon Web Services is usually about $5 a month. But last Thursday, he learned his AWS credentials had been compromised. An unknown person started renting computing power from Amazon on his account, racking up more than $5,300 in charges on servers in Amazon data centers as far away as Tokyo, São Paulo, Sydney, and Singapore.

It appeared that he was running processes that “mined” Bitcoin—creating units of the digital currency in exchange for processing transactions.

We Have Met The Enemy, And He Is Us

Given the timing of the attack, Moreno initially thought the Heartbleed bug was to blame, until he tracked down the breach and realized it was his own error.

In addition to developers’ usernames and passwords for their accounts, AWS uses “access keys” which are easier to include in software. And that’s the problem—developers include them in software, including copies of the software they store in public source-code repositories like GitHub.

Moreno had uploaded code to a GitHub repository, inadvertently including his Amazon credentials. 

You might think this is an isolated case, but a security expert in Australia discovered almost 10,000 AWS credentials in a search of GitHub last month.

Ty Miller, founder of security testing firm Threat Intelligence, found exposed credentials for Amazon, Google’s Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure in GitHub repositories, but the largest number were for Amazon.

“These credentials are likely to provide full access to the AWS account,” Miller told ReadWrite. That’s mean hackers could delete data or add data and start new computing processes which could perform just about any task.

Amazon appears to be aware of the problem. The company specifically warns developers against including their credentials in code that they upload. But it’s not clear how Amazon can police the problem.

Amazon For Nothing And Your Servers For Free

Moreno discovered the breach to his account after receiving email from Amazon asking him to update his credit-card information. Moreno, a former software developer at Apple, logged in and noticed the charges. He immediately contacted Amazon.

“Your AWS credentials have been compromised,” the Amazon representative said. Bitcoin mining was a common goal of these hackers, though the AWS computing resources could be used for all kinds of money-making schemes.

When software consultant Ted Howard learned of Moreno’s experience, he commiserated. On April 5, he had learned that his Amazon account had been hacked.

“I immediately changed my password, disabled my access key and created a new key,” he told ReadWrite.

Howard also believes the breach was likely his fault. After checking his GitHub repository, he found that he had committed a file that contained his AWS access key.

“I seem to be incapable of escaping my own stupidity,” he said. But the unintentional publication of AWS credentials appears to be a common problem. It even happened to security researcher Rich Mogull in January.

Keys To The Computing Kingdom

Howard thought his immediate problem was over, though he still had the bill to settle with Amazon.

But on Friday, after communicating with Moreno, he discovered yet another security breach on his AWS account, despite the steps he had already taken to secure it.  

After Moreno’s Amazon troubles came to light, Howard logged back into his own Amazon account and saw that 13 new EC2 instances in Oregon had been started—on April 9, days after he learned of $6,000 in fraudulent charges on his account.

“Of course I changed my password and disabled my new access key,” he said. “This time I didn’t even bother creating a new one.”

Since he hadn’t used the new access key anywhere, or uploaded or shared it anywhere, he was worried.

“Whether it’s related to Heartbleed is anyone’s guess,” Howard said. “It’s possible that they still accepted requests with the old access key after I killed it. Perhaps the attacker was notified of the new key somehow. I really have no idea.”

Amazon: “We’ve Been Seeing More And More Of This”

Later on Friday, Amazon told Howard that the hacker may have used a feature called “Spot Requests” on his account before he reset his credentials. He checked out his account and found many of them.

As an Amazon developer, you can bid on unused computing resources via Spot Requests, and when Amazon accepts the price you set, it automatically starts using the designated computing resources. Amazon told Howard he had to check each of Amazon’s geographical region for such requests, as deleting one would not affect instances in any other region.

“The nefarious way to use this to to set up a ton of requests with a high max price,” Howard said. “Even once all the credentials are changed, this request is still present, so new instances continue to be spun up and down over time. This is apparently what happened to me.”

That’s what an Amazon representative told Moreno the day he discovered the breach. The Amazon employee also told Moreno to check his EC2 spot instances in other regions, and predicted he would see high end instances running. Which he did.

Like Howard, Moreno changed his password, but took the extra precaution of removing his code from GitHub. That’s not a trivial process: Because the way repositories are backed up, his old keys may still be discoverable.

A helpful GitHub tutorial explains how to purge files from your repositories permanently and avoid accidental commits in the future.

Plugging The Holes

Recently, Amazon has changed the way it generates credentials, Moreno and Howard both said. To allow programs to access AWS resources, you used to need an access key ID and a secret access key—strings of characters generated by Amazon. In the past, you could log into your account and retrieve the secret key at any time. That’s no longer the case.

“If you lose [the secret key], you must disable and generate a new access key,” Howard said.

An Amazon guide for managing AWS credentials suggests removing, or not generating, an access key for your root account; and using AWS Identity Access Management (IAM) to create temporary security credentials for applications that interact with AWS resources. It also explains how to manage IAM access keys.

“We take security very seriously at AWS, and we provide many resources, guidelines and mechanisms to help customers configure AWS services and develop applications using security best practices,” an AWS spokesperson said. “When we become aware of potentially exposed credentials, we proactively notify the affected customers and provide guidance on how to secure their access keys.”

It seems that Amazon could do more, however. If security researchers can easily scan public sites like GitHub and find access keys, couldn’t Amazon do the same, and save itself and its customers from these incidents by immediately deactivating the keys?

How To Protect Yourself

It may go without saying, but if you’ve uploaded code to GitHub, you might want to check whether you inadvertently included your credentials for anyone, including hackers, to access.

“I’m sure many developers have made the mistake I’ve made,” Moreno said. He and Howard offer the following advice.

  • Use two-factor authentication. Although this would not have helped either Howard or Moreno, additional security through a second type of authentication helps protect email and other accounts which might also hold your cloud keys. Take advantage of it.
  • Never hardcode your cloud computing credentials. Even if you’re using a private source-code repository, that may change in the future. You may decide to contribute code to an open-source project, for example. ”After looking through my code, I see that I had hardcoded my credentials and then commented out that code, later, when I moved the credentials to a preferences file,” Moreno said. But, even that isn’t good enough since preferences files are usually checked into repositories with code.
  • Use Identity Access Management. This feature from Amazon lets you create individual accounts that have limited privileges. If you wanted to create an applications that stores its data in S3, you can create an account that only has access to one S3 bucket. “If that app got compromised or those credentials got accidentally checked in to GitHub, then only that particular S3 bucket would be exposed,” Howard said.

And if that doesn’t stop a hack, you’ll still want to gather information about what happened. Mogull explained in a post how to take a snapshot and apply forensic analysis to a hack.

The most important advice Howard offers?

“Don’t put your Amazon credentials into source code and then share that source code in a public place like GitHub!”

It seems obvious. But it’s clear that thousands of developers haven’t taken this obvious step.

Photo courtesy of Joe Moreno

View full post on ReadWrite

With Azure And Visual Studio, Microsoft Hugs Cloud And Mobile Developers A Little More Tightly

If you don’t do Windows, Microsoft still wants to talk to you.

One proof point there: Windows Azure, its answer to Amazon Web Services, is now called Microsoft Azure. The name change may be superficial, but there are deeper changes afoot, including a host of announcements the company made at its Build conference for developers in San Francisco on Thursday.

Visual Studio Goes Online

The core of how Microsoft has catered to software creators over the year is Visual Studio, a desktop program that offers an integrated development environment, or IDE—in other words, all the tools you need to write, test, and fix software. It was, naturally, only available on Windows.

At Build, Microsoft executive Scott Guthrie announced that Visual Studio Online, a Web-based version of Visual Studio, had exited a period of testing and was now available to all comers. For groups of more than 5 users, it requires a paid subscription, and it still lacks some of the features of the desktop version, but it is a way developers who prefer Mac or Linux machines can get a taste of Microsoft’s code-building tools. 

Another way Microsoft is courting those developers is through the partnership it unveiled last November with Xamarin, a San Francisco-based software company which offers code-building software compatible with Microsoft’s tools and frameworks, including the C# programming language and the .Net framework. Xamarin Studio is available for both Mac and Windows, making it another way Microsoft can broaden its reach among developers it has not traditionally courted. Xamarin cofounder Miguel de Icaza demonstrated Xamarin on stage at Build on Thursday.

Azure Skies

At the same time, it is also clear that Visual Studio will also be more and more tightly integrated with Azure. For example, Microsoft  now lets Visual Studio users increase or decrease the amount of computing power they wish to rent on Azure right within the program. This integration is meant to let developers move more quickly by adding extra servers or instances without having to leave their coding environment.

Ironically, Microsoft is catching up on its own turf. Amazon, Microsoft’s archrival in Web-based computing services, recognized the opportunity to court Microsoft developers and already offers a Visual Studio extension for managing the full range of Amazon Web Services offerings within the program.

Microsoft is now talking to developers beyond the Windows world.

Microsoft is now talking to developers beyond the Windows world.

MIcrosoft also added to its mobile back-end offerings, which allow app developers to focus more on designing an app’s user interface and worry less about how it will store data and run code.

A key back-end service is Azure Active Directory, a Web-based version of Microsoft’s authentication system for corporate networks. An executive from DocuSign, a document-management service, showed how its mobile app used Azure Active Directory to let users log in with the same credentials they might use for their company email—on an iPhone, no less.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory works on iOS devices, too.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory works on iOS devices, too.


At the same time it’s making Visual Studio more attractive—or at least a plausible option—for non-Windows developers, its also letting developers use a wide variety of programming languages to access Azures computing services. And it’s letting them use Visual Studio and Azure to create apps that run on Apple’s iOS, Googles Android, and the Web, not just Windows.

This doesn’t represent a whole new strategy for Microsoft, which has been building towards this for years. But the collection of products and features Microsoft highlighted at Build shows that it now has a serious portfolio for developers of all stripes.

Photo of Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s executive vice president, cloud and enterprise group, by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite

View full post on ReadWrite

Open Source Isn’t Just For Developers Anymore

Ten years ago, open source was a developer movement for developers. Not so anymore.

As a new Linux Foundation survey suggests, “business managers recognize open source software as a business imperative and are taking the lead in initiating open source participation.” This, in turn, refashions open source as a critical business driver, not merely an efficient way to write code. 

Business Inmates Running The Open Source Asylum?

Once an imitator of proprietary innovation, open source has set the agenda on industry innovation for years. The biggest trends in computing—from cloud to Big Data to mobile—are all powered by open source. And business users have taken notice.

Developers used to be able to get away with delivering on business requirements by leveraging open-source software, but today’s business managers are openly asking for more open-source software. 

The business reasons for getting started with open source, while different from those of developers, are compelling, according to the survey of 686 software developers and business managers:

 

From the Linux Foundation survey, other interesting facts arise, each of which points to a future filled with even greater business influence and involvement in open source:

  • 35% of software developers get started with open source and collaborative development by contributing to an open source project in their free time;
  • 44% of software developers surveyed indicate that job requirements are the top reason they started contributing;
  • Interestingly, software developers with 10 or more years of experience were more likely to have started in their free time, whereas developers with fewer than 10 years of experience were more likely to start due to job requirements.

The subtext in these results is clear: Business is driving more open-source development. In fact, among business managers, 44% indicated they would increase their investments in collaborative software development over the next six months, with another 42% said they planned on sustaining their current investment. No respondents said they had plans to decrease their investment.

The Business Of Open Source

While some of this heady optimism for open collaborative development is fueled by specific projects like Hadoop or Android, much of it comes down to collaboration with industry peers and even competitors to solve hard technology problems. OpenStack, OpenDaylight, Eclipse and Linux are all exemplars of industry collaboration; for some companies like IBM, collaborative foundations are the new default for development entirely. 

But the purpose behind collaborative software development has little to do with holding hands and singing “kumbaya” around a campfire. Rather, organizations look to collaborative software development to drive tangible business benefits:

This shouldn’t be shocking news. As the free and open source software movement has matured, it has tended to embrace less dogmatic licensing approaches, favoring Apache over the GNU General Public License (GPL), and to generally err on the side of adoption rather than religion. Things have moved so far, in fact, that the GitHub generation often eschews formal licensing of any kind (which, in turn, creates business problems of its own).

In every industry, organizations are pressed to do more with less and deliver software on far tighter timeframes than ever before. Google, for one, has said it couldn’t exist as it does today without open source and open standards. Other organizations are discovering that they can’t, either.

View full post on ReadWrite

Facebook Releases Tool So Developers Can Move Fast And Break Things

Today Facebook open-sourced Tweaks, an application framework that lets iOS developers test changes to an app in real time, simply by using an iDevice, 9to5Mac reported. Incorporating Tweaks into an app provides a new settings menu by which developers can change parameters that affect how the app looks and feels—as it’s running on an iDevice.

Changing such parameters usually requires a developer to “recompile” an app, which can be time-consuming for repeated testing of different combinations. Some of the adjustments developers can make affect animation timings, colors and motion speed.

 

Facebook says it relied on Tweaks while building Paper, Facebook’s news reader application. You can find Tweaks on Github

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As Box Goes Public, It Must Lean On Developers

With the filing of documents with the SEC, Box is officially on its way to becoming a publicly traded company. The maker of online file-storage and collaboration tools has seen dramatic growth over the last few years, driven by enormous marketing and sales spending.

That model doesn’t seem to be sustainable: Box lost $158.8 million on revenues of $124 million in the most recent fiscal year. Commissions alone accounted for a tenth of that loss. Sales and marketing activities accounted for the bulk of the company’s expenditures and headcount. It has recorded a loss every year it has operated.

That strategy catapulted Box’s sales upwards and made it a credible force in selling to businesses. But to close the gap between earning and spending, Box will have to find a cheaper way to sell.

Developers, Developers, Developers (Repeat As Necessary)

The good news: It may already have one, clearly telegraphed in the IPO prospectus it filed Monday.

Box mentions the word “developers” 50 times in its S-1 filing, and “platform” 120 times. Its best hope for breaking its dependency on sales and marketing spending lies in those words.

Already, Box partners with companies like NetSuite and Salesforce, providing an underlying cloud-storage service for files and documents. For example, joint customers of Box and Salesforce use Box to embed contracts and sales presentations in a Salesforce customer record.

One way Box could help break this cycle is by working more closely with the companies it partners with such as NetSuite and Salesforce. Turning Box into a so called platform with which other businesses could then build off of is a stated part of the company’s growth strategy as laid out in its S-1 SEC filing. For NetSuite’s accounting service, Box stores invoices.

Getting Vertical In San Francisco

Right now, there are about 20 companies Box integrates with off the shelf. That’s a well-cultivated developer ecosystem, but arguably just the beginning for Box. At the South By Southwest Interactive conference earlier this month, Box CEO Aaron Levie talked about his ambitions for Box to enter vertical markets like healthcare and hospitality through third-party developers who will build specialized apps on top of Box.

The role model here is Microsoft, which has a large salesforce but whose efforts are magnified by the vast number of developers who build on top of Windows, Office, and Exchange. Those services and apps make Microsoft’s core products a far easier sell, since they’re all but required to run other business apps that interoperate with them.

These efforts will be on display at the Box Dev conference, which takes place this Wednesday in San Francisco. It’s hard to see how Levie could have timed this better. Now he just has to get up on stage and say “developers” fifty times.

Photo by E2 Conference

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Twitter’s Crashlytics Helps App Developers Abandoned By Apple

Twitter’s Crashlytics is working on a new beta distribution tool for both iOS and Android that will make mobile app testing easier.

This is great news for developers who used TestFlight, as the company discontinued support for Android after Apple acquired TestFlight maker Burstly last week.

Crashlytics privately tested the distribution tool with a handful of app developers, and is now making the tool available for more users. Interested developers can sign up here

Twitter acquired Crashlytics in January of last year. 

Image via Crashlytics. 

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How Developers And Consumers Can Get Android Apps On The Nokia X

The Nokia X Android smartphone won’t come with access to the Google Play store and its million-plus apps. So how is Nokia going to woo developers to build apps for its shiny new Android device after going whole hog on Windows Phone with Microsoft over the last few years?

Nokia’s short answer: It won’t have to, as it should be relatively straightforward for consumers to load a variety of Android apps on Nokia’s latest handset. 

The Nokia X is built on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), version 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. Nokia has made very few alterations to the AOSP for its new smartphone, and so says that most existing Android apps should work on the Nokia X without modification.

Nokia’s Android-app strategy embraces the global nature of the Android ecosystem. While U.S. users are accustomed to getting Android apps through the Google Play store, that’s not the case in many other parts of the world, where consumers use third-party app stores to get Android apps and often “sideload” Android apps directly from app developers.

“Same code base, new consumer base,” Nokia’s head of developer relations Amit Patel said in an interview with ReadWrite, describing the slogan Nokia will pitch to developers. “We are looking for Android developers that already have an app and are after a boatload of new consumers.”

Here’s what consumers and developers need to know about getting apps on the Nokia X.

Three Ways To Download Apps

Patel described three different ways developers can distribute apps for the Nokia X, which are also the same ways consumers can download them:

  • The Nokia store: This will feature Nokia’s own selection array of apps. Nokia says developers can use their standard Android Application Package Files (APKs)—which are sort of zipped-up software “suitcases” for transporting app and related software—and basically drag and drop them into the Nokia Store. Nokia has a tool that will scan the app for compatibility, and says that most apps won’t need to change a thing. 
  • Third-party app stores: As noted above, these are already common app sources in many countries. For instance, Yandex in Russia is one of the biggest providers of Android apps for users there. Third-party app stores will be available as links through the Nokia store, allowing users to download just about any app from anywhere.
  • Sideloaded apps: Android allows the ability to directly download an APK from any source, which means that all users will have to do is find the file and install it. (Though it’s worth noting that this can be a risky proposition, depending on where users are finding their apps.)

Three New APIs

Nokia didn’t attempt to get a Google Mobile Services (GMS) license from Google to use the Google Play store or any of Google’s Android core apps. So Nokia had to create its own application programming interfaces (APIs) to handle basic functions on the Nokia X that support consumers and developers.

While most developers will be able to simply drag and drop their apps into the Nokia Store to make them work, some will have to change certain features to tie them into Nokia/Microsoft services instead of Google’s. Here are the three APIs that Nokia is giving developers to work with in the Nokia X:

  • Location: Nokia will provide developers with a new location API to replace Google Maps. The Nokia X’s location service API will be the Nokia HERE Maps.
  • Notifications: Nokia uses the classic drop-down notification bar in Android, but app notifications have to run through Nokia, not Google. As such, Nokia has its own custom-made notifications API that will also integrate into the phone’s home screen.
  • In-app payments: Nokia couldn’t use Google’s robust international payments system to help app developers get paid, so it built its own. The Nokia X will support payments in every country that the phone is distributed to, often using direct-carrier billing with cellular partners across the world. 

Patel says that the tools and website for Nokia developers are ready for developers this week. Developers won’t need to rewrite their source code for the Nokia X or repackage their APKs to publish to the Nokia Store, the company says; at worst, they’ll only have to make slight modifications involving these three APIs. Patel claims that the developer time to publish even with the modifications is eight hours or less.

Three Messages To Developers

If Nokia does one thing really well these days, it is sell low-cost smartphones to emerging markets across the globe. The Nokia X is designed precisely to fit into this strategy.

“Overall, what we are saying is that we will provide developers reach and a low time to market,” Patel said. 

Nokia’s big sales pitch to developers goes like this:

  • Massive reach: The Nokia X will launch the week of March 3 in markets around the world, including China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. With a budget-friendly price, attractive design and access to apps, Nokia thinks its smartphone will be a huge hit. That, in turn, would offer developers that work with Nokia access to big new markets.
  • Money: Nokia will make sure that developers can get paid by offering its own payment service in lieu of Google’s. Nokia also believes that the pay-per-download model is not effective (it is what the iOS App Store and Google Play use in the United States) and instead will use a “try-and-buy” approach to let users download the apps and pay for them if they want to keep them. Nokia claims that users are five times likelier to pay for apps with the try-and-buy approach.
  • Time to market: Nokia seems eager to make sure that developers have to do very little work to get into the Nokia Store. Most APKs that work with Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 will work just fine in the Nokia Store, the company insists.

“Developers can use their existing Android developer environment and just use a plugin to edit and modify the existing source code [to implement for the Nokia Store],” Patel said.

Nokia Not Restricting Google Apps

Nokia is taking a very egalitarian approach to app distribution for the Nokia X. As long as an app has a functional APK, it will work on top of just about any version of AOSP. And unlike some other non-standard Android smartphone makers, Nokia won’t go out of its way to block Google apps like Gmail, Maps and so forth.

Its approach is a departure from Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Android Appstore approach. The e-commerce king goes well out of its way to make sure that users of its devices can’t touch Google properties in any way, shape or form (at least without rooting their devices and reinstalling Android functions that Amazon purposely left out).

Amazon doesn’t allow users to visit the Google Play store or use the Chrome browser or the native Gmail app for Android. Nokia hasn’t bothered fencing Google out of its device. Technically, a savvy user or developer could easily load Google’s apps into the Nokia Store or sideload them onto the Nokia X.

That comes with a caveat: The only restriction on app downloads are those that require root access on the device. If an app needs root access, it cannot be downloaded to the Nokia X unless the user actually roots their device. Many of Google’s Android apps do require root access for hardware integration—Maps, for instance, does—and hence will be blocked from the Nokia X.

The key differentiator for Nokia is allowing local markets to use their own third-party Android app stores. For instance, Yandex is Russia is the de facto app store for Android in the country, not Google Play. In this way, Nokia can localize experiences without needing developers to port to the Nokia Store. The scenario is similar in countries like China and India, where local app stores are more prevalent on Android devices than Google Play. 

View full post on ReadWrite

PayPal Opens Up Mobile SDK To Developers Across The World

PayPal is opening up its mobile software developer kit to the global community today, enabling app makers everywhere to more easily integrate the company’s payment solutions. 

The PayPal mobile SDK will enable app developers to integrate PayPal in much the same way they already do on the Web. User accounts will be saved so they don’t have to log in every time they want to pay through and app and the interaction flow is simplified so users are not taken to a new page when they want to make a transaction. The new mobile SDK will allow developers to accept both credit card and PayPal accounts for payment.

The first company to integrate the PayPal mobile SDK was Uber last November. The trial must have gone well as PayPal is opening up the SDK today to more than 30 markets across the world. 

PayPal has made a big move into making itself not just a plugin service for developers but a platform to build upon in the last year. PayPal acquired payments portal Braintree last year for $800 million and has shifted its developer relations and resources to the Braintree wing of the company. PayPal also acquired mobile backend-as-a-service company StackMob in December to fill out its developer platform and team. PayPal will be shuttering StackMob’s service later this year.

Top image: PayPal’s David Marcus and Braintree’s Bill Ready via David Marcus

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Facebook Updates Its Analytics Dashboard To Further Court App Developers

Developers can now better understand how their Facebook-integrated apps perform.

Facebook announced an update to its App Insights product to improve upon its analytics dashboard that features a clean interface and visualized data. The App Insights 2.0 Beta update has been redesigned to integrate all Facebook app data into a clean and simple individual dashboard, enabling developers to track traffic sources such as Open Graph stories or referrals. 

Facebook engineer Daniel Tomko explains the blog post announcing App Insights Beta 2.0:

We realize that it’s difficult to make decisions in a vacuum. Now, you can compare key metrics for your app to those for other apps. For example, if you see an abnormal spike in the mark-as-spam rate for your app’s stories, you can see if the spike is isolated to your app or if other apps also see the spike.

Facebook also said that the App Insights dashboard will be more reliable about where traffic sources are coming from and the actions users take, especially coming from iOS and Android apps.

Facebook: We Want All Your Apps

In what’s becoming a familiar theme: Facebook wants developers to build on its platform and is busy building out all the tools necessary for developers to create on top of its platform.

Facebook has made a concerted effort to court developers. It acquired “backend-as-a-service” platform Parse to build developer tools and cloud integration. In September, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise appearance at Parse’s developer conference, which underscored the push Facebook is making to appeal to developers. 

In the last few months, the company has ramped up its push to please developers by introducing simpler gaming integration through a partnership with game engine Unity, testing a mobile ad network to engage mobile developers, and publicly announcing its desire to enable other companies to build great social apps. 

Facebook’s own attempts to build stand-alone applications have largely failed. Facebook Home, an launcher skin for Android designed to emulate the Facebook was largely unsuccessful, as was Poke, its attempt to copy Snapchat.

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