Category Archives: Wireless

What is really Yahoo!GO 3.0 SDK?

Finally, we had a chance yesterday to access to Yahoo!Go 3.0 SDK. As a frequent reader of this blog, you should know that Widgets is a favorite topic, so I was curious and excited about achivement of Yahoo!Go 3.0 and his SDK.

The home screen is really good, looks great. Very nice theme, with a background image and a caroussel of “widgets”. Things become bad you start to dig into the content. In fact, what is Yahoo!Go3.0 is very similar to Yahoo!Go 2.0: an enhanced browser to the yahoo content. All pages are similar to wap page, but with some improvment in the navigation. There is however some specific part that have some higher capacitities, like the “map” part which contains a GoogleMap type navigation.What really kills the experience is that the answer to every keypress (and I’ve tested this on an N95, which is usually a very fast phone) takes too much time!

So now , let’s look at the widget part and the SDK: in fact, what is promoted as “widgets” is in fact some enhanced xml/wap pages created with the “BluePrint” language. The good thing is that pages can be easily integrated within the Yahoo!Go content, and can also benefit from the integrated advertising feature.

So Yahoo!Go 3.0 is more or less an enhanced mobile browser without Ajax capacities, and these widget are XML component that can be part of the page. One of the benefit of such basic approach is that these “widgets”, can be deployed even on simple Wap/xHtml pages. The bad thing, is that it’s quite impossible to do “real widget”: very little interaction possible between the application and the user, no local caching, no access to phone features…. Seems like a step back in the times “before ajax”. Does it really make sens to build a download app if you just provides a browsing experience?

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Mobile Widget roundup

Last week was “LeWeb3” week, with several interesting announces around widgets.

First, Goojet, the last entrant in that space announced his beta at the event.

Orange also showed an iPhone version of there own portal, BubbleTop, and a preview of their mobile client. Nice UI but not yet available….

Also, some first info about the future iPhone Webwag version. Here is a short video (in French):



This version is in beta test, more to come soon!

Androïd and the iPhone?

Would it make sense for Google to provide an Androïd version for the iPhone? Of course, not the complete stack, but just the development framework. Most of the people and especially developers don’t really care about the full stack, but about the interesting part which is of the development framework, as long as it’s well integrated with the rest of the phone.
I am not an Androïd expert, but it seems possible for me to adapt this on the iPhone.

Why:

  • It could be the first Androïd platform
  • It could provide an easy way to develop applications for the iPhone
  • This would solve one of the fragmentation issue

Why not:

  • Because Apple don’t want it?
  • Because Google don’t want it?
  • The google and Apple gadget are not the same. They both choosen different look and feel for the UI (which is understandable). So which one should we choose for an Androïd on IPhone?
  • It might be not possible to reach the same level of integration between the application framework and the core system.

This seems possible to me from the technical point of view. First, google could do it. If it’s not Google, some external developer could do it. Of course, we don’t have detailled spec of Google Dalik VM, but it’s not a big issue: we could use an open source JavaVM, and just run some plain Java Code with the Android Framework? It seems that people already started to work on standard VM  porting, with this VM porting on iPhone. A good first step, but Androïd on an iPhone could be the toy of 2008 for developprs…

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Webwag Mobile V1 announced

Might be already old news for some of you, but I’ve forgot to put it on my blog, so here it is: we have released Webwag V1 version. The official news is here: Webwag mobile V1 release, API is open!

Here is a non exhaustive list of new features you will find in this release . And we are heavily working on other improvment on other part (web and…?), that will be out very soon!

  • End user space
    • Faster: We increased start speed, network accesses, widgets opening by a factor from 5 to 10
    • Automagic widgets arrangement: Now widgets can be automatically arranged while you move them with no need for pixel adjustment (the old free mode remains availab
    • 140 handset models: We’ve grown the handsets compatibility from around 10 to 150 over many new brands. We’ll showcase some of them on this blog in the coming weeks
    • Parlez-vous Français? You’ll be happy to learn that Webwag mobile now detects your language and is available in French. Many other languages will come.
    • Link to original article in Blog posts: You can now view a mobile adapted version of the web site’s article page for any information (RSS) feed.
    • More room for Widgets. The bottom bar has been replaced by two elegant soft keys, giving even more room to widgets.
    • New widgets including eBay, French Traffic conditions (very useful these days), a new discovery from mobile…
    • Many many bug fixes…
  • Developers: A new shiny Javascript API is available at api.webwag.com that makes it easier than ever for any web and mobile developer to create widgets using a standard subset of Javascript, XML and other standard oriented tools.
  • Brands and content owners: Webwag mobile is a very addictive and simple way to create a positive relationship with end users by giving them a useful service linked to a brand or a specific content. You can contact us at partnerships@webwag.com for more information on how to mobilize and monetize your brand and content in the Webwag mobile ecosystem

So let’s talk a little bit about the developer part: yes, now the scripting languge is a subset of JavaScript. So need to learn a new language. So new, you can have an object orientation for the script, this will simplyfy some form, especially for callback, as function can be associated to objects:

var myObj=new Object();
myObj.showMe=function(){
alert("Hello World:");
}

myObj.showMe();
is now a valid code. So check the api.webwag.com for more info (and do not forget to register to have access).

We also added a lot of functionalities for developer, like the ability to create “form” for better input parameter.

We will prepare some tutorial and samples in the coming weeks….

Update: The http://api.webwag.com does not require anymore you to register…

Two extraordinay iPhone apps…

Just played with these two great apps, showing the potential of the iPhone and especially the multitouch screen and the accelerators.
The first one is in fact a multi touch demo, quite simple, from cedsoft: it allows to play with a satellite picture and zoom it, move it and rotate it. You could say that GoogleMap is already doing it on the iPhone, but the rotation add a lot of novelty. It pave the way to more complex application, like photo editing tools, or productivity tools with a different UI.

To install it, use the http://prog.cedsoft.free.fr/ repository

The second one is iPhysics (a port of CrayonPhysics). It’s a very simple idea, but hard to describe. The objective is to push a ball to a certain place, but based on physics interaction. You can not move the ball directly, but you can create object by just drawing them on screen, and then these object interacts with the world. Very addictive and innovative
.

To add it, just add this repository in the installer: http://iphone.r4m0n.net/repos

Some remarks:

  • Hopefully the iPhone has been unlocked, and will be soon officially. Without this, I think that such app would have been really hard to exist
  • Sometime, it’s good to exit from the “Ajax” reign. It would have been if not impossible quite difficult to create these app with a browser only.
  • The development chain for iPhone is -in my view- way too complicated! So I give full respect to these early pionner, but I would like to see an easy way to develop complex app for iPHone. I think that Java would have been the best candidate for this. I am dreaming of an Androïd port for iPhone…

There is a lot of potential for iPhone games, thanks to the combination of nice things:

  • multi touch screen
  • portable device
  • High surface screen
  • Connectivity
  • Sensor
  • Camera

For instance, I am dreaming (or hoping that people will port it) some of this games:

  • Catapult , a game originally created for the Gizmondo, a cool augmented reality game
  • Some nice billard game
  • A marble madness port with acclerometer


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First thought on Android

So Google finally released not a gPhone, but a development platform: Androïd. I’ve spent some – little – time to play with it, and here are my thougt:

- As a user it’s obviously much better and polished UI than Symbian or Windows Mobile. But in the iPhone days, it’s quite poor. The most annoying thing is the usage of menus, on a touch screen. The menus are not visible once closed, and does not seem to have a way to open them just with the touch screen.

- As a developer, it’s both very cool, and a nightmare: very cool, because the Java API seems quite complete and useable, there are some nice UI effects and it facilitate the integration of applications within the phone, and a nightmare because this is now a new platform to support. It’s not J2ME compatible, but supports partially some JSR.
Let me summarize the development landscape these days. We have:

  • XHTML/Wap family
  • the iPhone mobile browsing familiy
  • the iPhone native/ObjectiveC
  • Symbian
  • Windows Mobile
  • FlashLite
  • and of course J2ME

and now we can add Androïd with probably native/C++ Androïd and Java Androïd. Not sure that we should thank Google for this one!

What are Androïd chances of being successful?

Can the OpenHandsetAlliance make the difference? In the mobile industry, we probably have more consortium than an any other industry. Consortium for handsets, for platforms, for games,…. But usually, once a consortium is created, it’s the beginning of the end: most of them never released something interesting.

Can the applications make the difference? I am sure that you can easily create very cool and powerful application with Androïd. But I also see many great application on windows mobile or Symbian (and it’s probably 10 times more difficult to create them on these devices) but very few of them reach a critical mass.

Can Google make the difference? Of course, it’s backed up by Google but this could be a good or a bad thing. More and more people in the mobile industry are afraid of Google power. Third tier manufacturer, some Taiwanese and Korean will probably deliver a few Androïd devices, but is it enough to capture the market?

So, let’s wait and see. This sounds more the equivalent of Microsoft first attempts on mobile: not as good as it should be, but with deep pockets, you can afford several attempts before being succesful.

You can also check Fred post on Android 

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iPhone ‘not so open’ SDK?

So Apple announced the availability of the iPhone SDK for February next year.

Seems to be a good news, but a few sentences makes me feel unconfortable: there is a big paragraph about virus, malware and so on :

“There have been serious viruses on other mobile phones already, including some that silently spread from phone to phone over the cell network.”

I don’t think that there are such virus yet (I know that on Symbian phones, there are some Bluetooth viruses), so why are they putting so much empathis on this? It seems the “good reason” to block third party developpers:

We are working on an advanced system which will offer developers broad access to natively program the iPhone’s amazing software platform while at the same time protecting users from malicious programs.

Let me guess: if you want to deploy on an IPhone, you will have to be “Apple Certified” developper? Or may be “Operator Certified”? We are back to the good old security issue on mobile, where independent third party application will be so restricted that it will be impossible to make it run on a mobile.
 May be I’m wrong, but wait and see…
On the same topic, read Russel Beatties “Third Party Applications on the iPhone…Translated

Lua, Java and a little bit of history

Browsing the web I’ve discovered that LUA reached a popularity of 15 in tiobe rank. This is incredible, but also very interesting. Lua is a very simple but smart language that was designed to extend existing applications. Typically, to add scripting capacities in existing programs. This is a not a new idea, and a lot of technologies where available at that time, but most of them where not easy to implement.

The key differentiator of LUA was the integration simplicity. LUA is now very popular, but when I’ve first discovered it, it was not the case. I’ll do an “historical post” of what happened in the early days of In-Fusio regarding LUA, mobile, and Java.

In 1999, when we started In-Fusio, I’ve created the first connected game embedded in Mitsubishi device. At that time, the most advanced mobile game was snake (V1!) and we were delivering console quality game on mobile, but even more, we introduced connectivity with SMS. User was able to download new game levels each week through SMS….These games (BrainDrain, Push, Crazy Pet) also contained some hidden part, but obviously very hidden as not so many found them: there was the first 3D real time demo on a mobile phone, done using Vector Ball, a reminder of my early Amiga days


Some snapshots of Push, a Sokoban clone, embedded in Mitsubishi phones

But the issue was that the game where embedded, and not downloaded. User was not able to change his game. We started then to think to a way to download games.
Technically, it seems that it was possible, even with limited resources of the phone. We could expect around 16 to 32kb of available writeable flash memory for game. But due to security reasons and cross platform issues we needed to find either a scripting language, or a VM based engine.

So I started to evaluate the various technical solutions for this: from Python, Tcl/Tk, Java, JavaScript and of course Lua. Even Perl! I also looked at some alternative solution, mainly used in SetTopBox.

Rapidly , it appears that Python, Tcl/TK, JavaScript where really too heavy in terms of code size to fit into a mobile. Perl…no, definitvely not Perl for game!

So the remaining two where Java, and Lua. Remember, it was in 99 and MIDP was not yet even discussed. I’ve evaluated a couple of the “light java “implementation, like Waba, and another one that has been used in some lego engine.
But Lua looked great also, and was compliant with our requirement:

  • small footprint
  • easy integration
  • simple to understand and to use

I made a prototype of an integration with a “kind of” R-Type game on a Mitshubishi phone that worked well.But my godfeeling was that Java will be here for long time, and strategically speaking, it was better to follow the Java path. The KVM on Palm was also presented in JavaOne’99, the first JavaOne I’ve attended!
So we look deeper on the Java side, and found a nice JavaCard implementation by Schlumberger. It was really an amazing implementation, tailored for highly constrained JavaCard, so it could feet easily in mobile.
At that time we also discussed with Sun about Java licensing, but fee were really beyond expectations (Sun started by talking of a 10$ per handset license!). We decided to choose the VM implementation, a clean room implementation so no fee for Sun as long as we did not put any Java logo on the mobile. So we decided to use Java instead of LUA.

The first implementation took some time, but when we had the first real handsets, we had a big surprise: it was ssoooooo slow, and unusable for games! Was hard to go beyond a simple minesweeper game. So we decided two things:

  • improve the speed of the VM, by working with Schlumberger
  • create high level game API

So we created Sprite, Layer component, animation, etc…to speed up things, a complete game api. We also added a raycast engine that could be used to create 3D effects with processing power of mobile of that time. In fact, all the rendering and the animation was done natively, while Java was used more as a scripting engine. And that’s where the MIDP2 game API came. Here are a few snapshot of the first black and white created for the platform:


Some of the early Exen games….

The first prototype was demonstrated in September 2000. Even internally, the game developer team was not convinced with the ability to create arcade quality game on mobile. But the first game produced externally on this platform, by Kalisto, “Tinies Farter” (yes!) was a great and really playable arcade games, and gave us confidence in the ability to create more cool games.

With a launch early 2001 with D2 in Germany, closely followed by Orange in France, and more operators later on.
Since day one, the system has been conceived with an ecosystem for game developer, operators, and us, so we started to make revenue from day1, while it took years for J2me to reach maturity. We thought that we had a 6 to 12 month windows of opportunity with Exen, but it appears that the window was more 24 to 36 months, with a total deployment of more than 50 millions of handsets….Not bad for a small window of opportunity.

The story is not yet ended, but we will write this another time….
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Creating your own mobile widget: part 1

As discussed earlier, our SDK is open to third party developers. To get it, just drop us an email at feedback@webwag.com .

It’s very easy to create your own mobile widget, with very little code. If you are a web widget developer, you will be familiar rapidely with mobile widget.

So let’s dig into a widget, and let’s see how we can create one very easily

A widget is made of two main part:

  • an XML description of the UI
  • a script, which contains the behavior of the widget.

Let’s start with the clock, which is one of the easiest one, and let’s jump directly into the source of the widget (source code is here ):

The widget is enclosed into a “widget” tag, and the first part contains the UI description:
- image tells the engine that there is an image to display, and the url of the image is “clock.png”. By default, URL will be relative to the source file of the widget itself.
- then, to “poly‘ elements. Poly are polygons (but limited to three points for now) that are displayed on screen. cx and cy define the center of the polygon relative to the origin of the widget, and poly contains the x,y pair of points that define the login. Here we have three point (p1={0,0},p2={0,0],p3={20,0}) which is basically a line.
borderColor define the border color of that polygon.
The last item, is a non visible one: timer, and this element will just call a callback at a specified interval , in that case, at every 200/10 seconds, so every 20 seconds….


the script is quite easy:
- a function (onTimerFired) and a “main” part which just call that function.

Note that onTimerFired will be the default function called by the timer element. The content of the function is simple:
time() return the current time in the form DD/MM/YY ss:mm, like 07/07/2007 13:12
then explode will convert this string in an array, using the space as a spearator.
So timeArr[3] will contains 13:12
Next line, 13:12 is then exploded once again and put in another array, so hour[0] will contains 13 while
hour[1] whil contains 12.

The next two line, just set the angle properties of the two polygons created earlier. nameCl and hourCl are
the name used in the definition of these polygons, so now the script can refer to them directly.

We could access to most of the attributes of the UI elements directly, like hourCl.cx=13 our minCl.borderColor=”0xFF0000″

So as you see, with less then 10 lines of code, we have created a nice looking analog clock running on most of the mobile devices….

More tutorial and full documentation are availables on our devleoper pages…..

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Webwag new look and mobile launch

Great news with the new look of the web site, and the official launch of the mobile version (in fact, since a couple of days, but we were too busy putting everything up to blog it!).

So, go and try webwag.com to experiment the new WebWab look. Flashy colors are avalaible, as well as more relaxing green or grey.

This is also the launch of the long awaited Webwag mobile version! >Now everybody with a recent J2me phone can experiment true mobile widgets.

Webwag mobile perspective

Just go to the website, register and open the small “phone” icon and follow the steps…

This is the first major milestone in the Webwag vision of the “Personnal Digital Hub”, allowing access to all your content from various devices, whatever are the technologies.

Mobile is only the first step, and you will see others in that direction.

The SDK will be released later on but we will select a few motivated developper if they want to experiment it earlier.
Widgets use an XML description for UI, and a simple scripting language for behavior. Every JavaScript developper will be familiar with these technologies in a few hours, even if more complex widgets require more work: we don’t deal with the same issues as in the browser world!

Webwag mobile Beta open: experiment true mobile widgets today!

Want to test the new Webwag mobile extension? Then go to http://beta.webwag.com and use your webwag account (or create one!).

There only are few handsets officially supported (N70, K750, K800, LG Chocolote, Sagem My800x) but should work on more handsets, just try it, and let us know the results.

  1. Register and create your webwag account
  2. Add the widgets you like in your page
  3. Add them into your “mobile screen”. To open your mobile screen, click on the “mobile” icon on the top left, or click on the “mobile” icon on the existing box.
  4. “save and install” will send you an installation SMS that you should receive within minutes with a link to download it on your mobile. On most of the handsets, the link will be selectable within the SMS. On some handsets (like the LG, Motorola) you can use this link from a specific menu from the SMS message.

If you have problems receiving the SMS, let us now

Feedback, issue, just email us at: feedback@webwag.com

Faq:

* Are all widgets available from Web and mobile?

No, only a subset of existing widgets are today available on mobile:

  • RSS
  • Flickr
  • Email
  • Note
  • Weather
  • Clock
  • Background

* Is it the same widget running on web wand mobile?

The widgets use the same data, but are different, because of size issue.

* But why not having just a web browser running these mobile widgets?

Because first, technically very few handset have the capacities to run complex widgets within browser, and also because we think that usage are different from web and mobile.

* Do you plan to support more handsets?

Of course, we are already working on this.

* Waow, sounds so cool, how can I participate and create my own widget?

The SDK is not yet public, but just email us and we will notify you when ready (feedback@webwag.com)

JavaFX : the missed opportunity from Sun

Sun officially launched today “JavaFX” (previously know as F3). It’s a scripting language that could be used to easily create rich content application for Java powered device.
This seems to be the Sun’s answer to Apollo and SilverLight, from Microsoft. Honestly, the answer is a little bit disapointing

  • One more language! The language itself, is nothing really fancy. No major killing feature, not as dynamic as Ruby for instance, and not close enough to other “standards” like Javascript or Java. So why create another language, while there are so many?
  • Integration, deployment: I take a look at the first sample and libraries. The library is something between 1 and 2 meg, on top of a standard JavaVM (JavaSE!). So, it’s huge. That’s one of the big weaknesses of Java today: the runtime is already so big, the installation so long, but worst, the starting time once everything has been installed.
  • Target: mobile. Sun claims that it’s a good candidate for mobile application. Of course, it’s the next battlefield. But honestly, JavaFX is way too big to fit on existing mass market devices or any existing J2me implementation, so it needs to be embedded natively probably. I do not beleive that JavaFX mobile will be a serious candidate in the next 18 months, too early.
  • Why not pushing further SVG? SVG is the current standard in vector graphics (and Flash is the de-facto standard). So why not push more SVG, by creating a better binding with SVG and Java, and/or Javascript?

So I do not believe that JavaFX will be big. It’s another missed opportunity from Sun to reinvent themselves. They had a widely deployed VM, that had the “network is the computer vision”, and now they desperately trying to follow on the RIA…Ajax is an intermediate technology, soit’s a fantastic opportunity to create something really new, Microsoft and Adobe are on the train, and Sun still trying to jump in…

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Mobile Widgets: soon a reality!

Here are the first screenshots of the first result of the Mobease/Webwag acquisition: Webwag mobile, a full mobile widget engine….Beta just started on a small number of handsets, but more to come.
This engine haves mobile Ajax capacities, scripting, OTA update, and much more…..


I will soon write more about the technical details of the engines, as the API will be totally free and open, so developper can write real mobile and web widgets, that can be accessed from anywhere…

S60 Widgets

Nokia just announced Seris 60 mobile Widgets. Obviously an hot topic for Nokia which is supporting also Widsets. Unfortunatly, there is no real demo available, just some animation right now, but the site claims:

“Widgets are lightweight Web applications developed using familiar,
standards-based Web technologies used to create Web pages: HTML, CSS,
JavaScript, and even advanced AJAX. They give S60 users a full Web
experience with instant access to the most essential Web 2.0 services
and Internet content. With widgets, people can personalize the content
and services that matter most to them.

No availibility date has been announced.

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