Mobile SDKs are, for most publishers, a necessary evil. Whether you’re trying to integrate analytics, cross-promotion, tracking, monetization or payments, your first step is most often to inject a third-party SDK into your codebase. This much-maligned piece of software drives developers, operations and marketers alike up the wall. Are SDKs quite the dirty word, though? Read More
Activity tracking and wellness startup Misfit continues to diversify its operation away from being a straightforward hardware play, with a new software development kit announced today. The Misfit Developer Toolkit lets third-party devs incorporate activity and sleep tracking abilities using Misfit’s data intelligence and Shine hardware. At launch, some 30+ partners are working with… Read More
Payments gateway Braintree is making its first significant product announcement since its acquisition by PayPal last year, with the launch of a jointly developed Braintree SDK (software development kit) for developers, which now features PayPal integration. The new toolset is being called the “Braintree v.zero SDK” to indicate how it’s been rebuilt from the ground up, and is… Read More
Google has announced some new updates for its Google Play Games cross-platform SDK for game devs, and they should make it a lot easier for developers working on titles aimed at iOS, Android and the web to build experiences that span all of the above. First, Google has expanded its multiplayer support to include iOS, which means that turn-based and real-time combat and play can take place on both… Read More
San Francisco-based Fleksy has launched its in-app SDK integration for iOS via four new partners who implement the software in their own apps today. These include Launch Center Pro, Wordbox, GV Connect and BlindSquare, and were chosen from a number of potential partners to help Fleksy demonstrate the power and range of its virtual keyboard.
Operating on iOS as a replacement for a default system component like the keyboard is not an easy task; Apple will not allow third-party devs to replace some system features like the keyboard, browser, messaging or calling app in the same way that users can do so on Android. Fleksy is attempting to get around this limitation by providing an SDK that third-party devs can use to build Fleksy into their own apps one at a time, in much the same way that Google makes it possible for devs to build in an option to have their software open links in Chrome on iOS.
These four launch partner apps are all available right now in the App Store, and take advantage of Fleksy’s unique ability to interpret a user’s intended input regardless of where they strike on the screen to different ends. Fleksy co-founder and COO Ioannis Verdelis explained to me the selection process for this first batch of apps in an interview.
“We’ve had a lot of interest [from third-party devs] really since our first release of the app on iOS,” he said. “We’ve picked four partners who worked with us through the beta process of the SDK, and we’ve tried to have one app that addresses the accessibility market, BlindSquare, and then we picked other popular apps that we think have meaningful use of text input in their design.”
GV Connect is a Google voice client where you can use Fleksy to send SMS messages; Wordbox is a text editor; and Launch Center Pro is “a bit of everything,” says Verdelis, with shortcuts that help people navigate iOS and get things done quicker. For these first four partners, he notes that it was important not just to get partners who would use the keyboard in interesting ways, to help showcase the possibilities for others, but to use people who helped define the product, too.
From here, Fleksy intends to continue to be selective about SDK partners and work with third-party devs to launch their integrations for a little while, but eventually the plan is to open it up for anyone to use independent of Fleksy’s involvement. Revenue for Fleksy differs depending on how each dev makes their revenue, Verdelis says, with some like Launch Center Pro trying things like offering it up as an in-app purchase and then sharing revenue from those sales, and others going for a more straightforward licensing fee.
Fleksy launched as a standalone third-party keyboard on Android out of beta last week, and Verdelis says they’ve racked up over 100,000 downloads since then. On iOS, they’ve had over 500,000 since launching their standalone app, but the SDK is the focus here in terms of business targets, so watching to see how the stable of Fleksy-using apps grows from here will be key.
Samsung kicked off its first Developer Conference in San Francisco today, and the Korean tech juggernaut is eager to show just how much it cares about the devs building apps and services for its hardware ecosystem. And really, what better way to prove it than to unleash five (yes, five) brand-new SDKs for those developers to sink their teeth into?
“We have products at every segment and every price point,” said Gregory Lee, president of Samsung Telecommunications America, in his DevCon keynote. “Your applications, your work can be reached all over the world and across all those products.”
As you can imagine, there’s plenty to dig into here, but some of these development toolsets are more straightforward than others. Samsung’s revamped Mobile SDK, for instance, consolidates a handful of existing Samsung mobile dev tools so coders and engineers can more easily create apps that take advantage of the company’s S Pen, gesture controls, and audio features (to name just a few). And the Smart TV 5.0 SDK does exactly what it promises, allowing developers to build apps for Samsung’s connected televisions, with a big focus on optimizing those apps for the company’s 2014 class of displays.
And considering the general market zeal for devices that connect and interact with each other, it should surprise absolutely no one that Samsung is trying to drive home the value of its vast portfolio of gadgetry by giving devs a way to make all of it play nice together. Consider its new Multiscreen SDK, which packs APIs that should ultimately allow users to quickly sync up smartphones and screens for simple media sharing across displays – GigaOm’s Janko Roettgers has a great take on it here.
Built on top of that is a Multiscreen Gaming SDK which Samsung developed in tandem with Unity. It’ll allow developers to craft games that functionally turn Samsung smartphones into consoles that output all the action to (what else) a connected Samsung TV. Throw in a new Knox SDK meant to help developers build secure, enterprise-friendly apps that can silo work information from personal data and you’ve got a pretty well-rounded slew of tools for coders and entrepreneurs.
Now the general thrust of these releases is to get people more invested into Samsung’s hardware web, and naturally the most prominent vector is Samsung’s huge portfolio of smartphones. You can’t really overstate the importance of smart software to Samsung’s mobile strategy. In a market where nearly every OEM is trying to push the limits of hardware innovation in parallel, fleshing out the all-important software user experience is crucial to gaining an edge over a pack of hungry competitors.
And like it or not, Samsung is damned good at loading up its devices with software. Some (myself included) would argue, though, that the company has a tendency to go overboard. There’s a distinct subsection of the Android community that prefers their Android builds to be as clean and as free of cruft as possible, but there are plenty of others who love to lord their whiz-bang features over others. But it has become clearer than ever that Samsung is using its mobile gadgetry as a Trojan Horse to make developers aware of and get them excited about the full breadth of Samsung’s hardware. Now the big question is how many developers will rise to Samsung’s challenge.
Back in July Dish Network announced plans to open its Hopper DVR platform to mobile app developers, and today at CEDIA we saw the results of that initiative. Thanks to SDK access that can mirror the functionality of Dish’s own Explorer iPad app, home automation systems like Control4 can now directly access the DVRs. That means users with those systems (or others, we saw demos of integration with a few other systems although they haven’t been officially announced yet) can control their DVR with the same controls used to adjust their lighting, security and other services. So far, access is limited to simple remote control commands over IP while everything gets certified and secured, but eventually it will include full two-way communication, including guide data and more.
While that’s enough to make anyone who orders or builds custom systems drool, what could it mean for the rest of us? We’ll have to wait and see, but if Control4 can build in access, we can certainly imagine what the Xbox One, Google TV, Samsung’s Smart TV or any other rumored devices (*cough*) might be able to offer. We’ll probably have to wait until CES to hear more on that front, but we did get a quick preview of a feature in testing that’s coming to all Hopper DVRs: HDMI-CEC control. The ability to send and receive commands is something we’ve wanted on cable / satellite set-top boxes for some time, and Dish Network may well be the first to make it happen.