Personal Cloud Desktop Apps on iPad, iPhone & Android

Posted by at 24 August , 2015

The Death of the Phone Call and the Re-Rebirth of Instant Messaging…again.

If you’re in you Mid 30′s to late 40′s you might remember AOL Instant Messenger, that ubiquitous chat app that came installed on your home PC running Windows 95 that allowed you to suddenly and without any concern for privacy connect with random people online. It was, for most of us, our first taste of what has become a mainstay of mobile devices, the ability to connect with anyone at anytime from anywhere.

Fast-forward to today and Messaging apps are everywhere. You don’t see any app that has a social component built in neglect the one element that users are craving and that is the ability to chat with other mobile users. The race to reach the most users is the goal of these messaging apps which is not surprise that big blue (not Twitter, sorry) the other big blue, Facebook is in a hardened battle with China’s WeChat for replacing email, phone and texting in Asia.

“According to a report, it is estimated that WeChat has more than 1 billion users around the world.”

This number is no surprise with many apps including LINE from Japan and WhatsApp, the mobile messaging market is getting very saturated and ultimately these companies are fighting for every user they can convert into paying customers in the ecosystems they are building. With the ability to send money to each other or even send gifts to friends and family, opening eCommerce abilities in markets like this has the potential to explode. Adweek has some numbers on the type of user base that is growing in places like SouthEast Asia, particularly in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. The chart below shows how many are using the platform to circumvent traditional forms of communication.

In the end no one really knows what type of platform will win out. Will users value security over convenience? This is the multi-billion dollar question everyone is trying to figure out.

And so the battle rages on.

About Xform Computing

Xform delivers the power of cloud-hosted desktops and applications to iPad, iPhone and Android phones and tablets. Xform has Cloud clusters deployed in the US and Europe. With over 1.5 million virtual desktops created and streamed to customer’s PC’s and mobile devices, Xform’s apps include VirtualBrowser for Firefox, VirtualBrowser for Chrome, Private Anonymous Browser and AlwaysOnPC. The apps are sold in the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Amazon Apps, and other marketplaces.

Learn more about our products here: http://www.xformcomputing.com or click on the app links on the right hand side.

 

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Posted by at 14 August , 2015

Weekend Reading

Jobs in Cloud Computing

 

Want to get ahead in the cloud? Docker and DevOps skills are what you need.

According to recent IT Jobs Watch figures, job roles involving container technology Docker have risen 317 places to number two in the 500 most sought after IT skills. With this in mind, recent research from Rackspace has shown a similar spike in Docker and DevOps-related skills in the UK technology industry.

 

The future of SEO: Apple vs. Google

Over the past few years, many top startups have elected to go mobile first and build app only experiences. While some have had success, mobile first companies such as Uber and Hotel Tonight have missed out on the large opportunity of SEO. Soon, pages within an app will be as easy to search for as pages on a website, and mobile-only companies will be able to compete directly with websites via search.

 

Designing Web Interfaces For Kids

Kids spend a lot of time online, and their cognitive and physical limitations present many challenges to them when they do so. Pair that with poorly designed content and dark patterns, and you have a bad mix.

 

The Hamburger Menu doesn’t work

It’s called a “hamburger” because it it looks roughly like a bun-meat-bun sandwich. Others have insisted that it looks much more like a triple hot-dog, but they’ve thus far been unsuccessful in winning the public’s hearts and minds. The idea behind the hamburger menu is that you can use it to hide site navigation on smaller screens, showing it only when the user clicks the icon instead of always showing it (which was the previous norm).

Run Flash & Java on iPad and iPhone with Virtual Chrome, Virtual Firefox and AlwaysOnPC in a secure streaming cloud computing environment. – To see more click on the link below:

 

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Posted by at 13 August , 2015

VirtualBrowser for Firefox with Flash and Java is the only app that allows you to play MMO games like Stormfall: Age of War on your iPad or iPhone.

Download Stormfall: Age of War for VirtualBrowser for Firefox

It’s true. Our VirtualBrowser for Firefox app available on the Appstore for both iPhone (Download Here) and iPad (Download Here) is the only place you can play Flash and Java games like Stormfall: Age of War.

Stormfall: Age of War is a competitive Massive Multiplayer Online game or MMO. If you do a search for Stormfall: Age of War on your iPad or iPhone it takes you to the Plarium hosted page which redirects you to the Appstore to download the iPhone app for another game Stormfall: Rise of Balur. Why would you want to download another app for a game that you could play online anytime with VirtualBrowser for Firefox?

Step 1: Attempt to Download Stormfall: Age of War for iOS (Screenshot from iPad)

Step 2: Download an entirely different app for iPhone only (Screenshot from Appstore on iPad)

Watch this video to see that playing Flash and Java games is as easy as downloading VirtualBrowser for Firefox!

virtualbrowser for Firefox App Store Button Download

 

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Posted by at 10 August , 2015

AlwaysOnPC and VirtualBrowser for Firefox has a solution for an interchangeable tablet to desktop ecosystem running Flash and Java on the iPad and iPhone.

A shiny new iPad at $499 or an expensive (and yes, shiny) new PC or Mac at $1000 dollars? You do the math. The price of consumer Personal Computers and Tablets is the deciding force behind what type of machine you will purchase. Although the “Overall shipments of tablets and 2-in-1 devices fell to 47.1 million in the quarter, a 5.9 percent decline from the same quarter a year ago according to preliminary research data, IDC said.”  - via TechCrunch. The demand for tablets is still significant at 47.1 million shipments. Yet many consumers are still left with the impression that a tablet can replace a PC.

How does AlwaysOnPC and VirtualBrowser for Firefox solve this issue?

In 2010 we saw the future (but more importantly the need) and came up with our own virtual PC cloud solution. Instead of having users connect remotely to a work server and launch your own windows desktop; we’ve given you the ability to have your own powerful Desktop PC solution that is hosted by our servers and maintained by us. In turn you can work from anywhere without worrying about if the connection to your work computer/server is up and running. The price is also a good deal at $8.99 for the year.

Since then there have been many attempts to create Virtual Cloud Desktops. Some have failed, others well the solution is still not quite as thought out. The facts are pretty clear With 64% of the average American household between the ages of 12 to 64 owning a tablet – Source Tabtimes.com  the need for a mobile tablet solution is already here. There are other competitors in this space that are attempting to “solve” this issue. Take a look at Paperspace, this is short description via TechCrunch on what Paperspace is trying to do, “Paperspace is different because it’s aiming to wrap up a similar service in terms of accessing a remote, cloud computer, but offering it through an easy-to-use console where everyday consumers can just click a button to log into their upgraded, more powerful remote machine.”

The caveat with Paperspace is the fact that you still have to buy a hockey pucked shaped disk that houses a small computer to connect to the machine. This does nothing to solve the portability issue and at $50 dollars is a no go for many consumers. There are countless other attempting to create a space for themselves in this market but for the time being we offer a great solution to the 64% of iPad owners looking for a person pc as an in between when carrying your laptop isn’t an option.

The Future of a “Post PC” World

There was an interesting article posted by tech media site The Verge on August 9, 2015. The title staunchly put it “There’s no such thing as post-PC” you can read more about it here. This article laid out the ground work as to how consumers and professionals use tablets and PC’s interchangeably with the claim that “You use your smartphone as much as your laptop because it’s just another PC”. 

If you think about it the argument could be held as true. Think about how you use your computer, tablet and mobile device? Do you use your tablet as a consumption device to browse websites, watch videos, send emails? What we are trying to continue to provide is the ability to access a virtual desktop from this device as an in between computer for when you don’t have access to your regular desktop.

We are just providing another flavor of Personal Computing to allow you to work uninterrupted.

 

 

 

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Posted by at 7 August , 2015

Weekend Reading

Outspoken Investor Chris Sacca Backs Jack Dorsey As Next Twitter CEO

As Twitter marches closer to selecting its next CEO, outspoken early investor in the company Chris Sacca has made his personal choice known.

In a multi-part tweet storm, Sacca backs up his reasoning for wanting Dorsey back in the saddle. First and foremost is his product vision. Twitter’s previous CEO, Dick Costolo, stepped down in July after announcing his departure in June.

Why do so many people love Material Design?

I have been reading and studying about Material Design for some time. I haven’t done a design or development following the guideline, so probably you’re wondering how I write about it, well… I’m actually familiar with it.

 

 

Two Charts That Prove Why Amazon Is Now Worth More Than Walmart

After their last earnings report, Amazon surpassed Walmart’s market valuation.  Despite the obvious fact that one company is focused on offline while the other is largely online, the two businesses are remarkably similar.  Let’s take a deeper look to understand the uncanny similarities.

 

Designing Custom Images For Your Online Content, Faster!

Visual elements are a huge part of online publishing. Whether you are creating social media updates, blog posts, eBooks or slide decks on SlideShare, if your post contains images, then you’ll get exponentially better engagement.

 


Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by at 5 August , 2015

Consider this, we’re all engaged with our smartphones. Wether we are checking our Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Kik (insert your favorite social app here) to see what our friends are up to the need to communicate and connect is engrained in our DNA. We are completely and utterly hooked on the ephemeral moment.

Snapchat message screen

1. Connecting Instantly

Why do we feel that compelling urge to connect instantly? There is a good read on Techcrunch on the debate of Ephemeral vs. Perpetual Messaging. One of the points that stood out was this, “This desire for these apps comes from the unnatural state of current online social communication. In real life, all communication happens within a context and people only have a limited identity in that context.” So what does this mean? In the setting of all these social apps the goal is to create an extension of your personality to continually exist wether you are present or not. Your digital persona is alive and present in the digital context of the app.

2. Oversharing of the moment.

Another topic that is currently centered around this category of apps is the element of oversharing. Teens have a much higher propensity to overshare without realizing that in the future, an employer will find out what they did in high school. These apps leave a digital footprint that while claims of the traces of your kick ass summer party are gone this may not always be the case. That fleeting moment that disappears gives a false sense of privacy and security on the users end. Compound that by friends who screen-grab and post to other social sites and you’ve got a good chance that your ephemeral moment isn’t going to be only seen by those closest to you.

3. You can be who you want to be Online…

Take a look at the chart below on this post about how messaging app Kik is claiming higher engagment than Snapchat at 200 million registered users. The numbers are skewed towards a younger demographic of high school aged students. But really look at that the key metric here which is the amount of time spent within the app at 39 minutes (on Kik). On average between the 3 major messaging apps presented you have users spending on average 27 minutes sharing pictures, videos, gifs, links and silly doodles.

Graphic on app usage by age group

This is more than enough time to curate an outward facing person that will show people what you want them to know about you. This creates a narrative that not only engages but creates that value to you as a brand. The minute we don’t want to use it or grow out of that demographic you can easily delete your traces and start fresh on another social network of your choosing.

In essence you are creating an illusion that you can always get out of whenever the moment strikes.

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Posted by at 3 August , 2015

I recently stumbled upon a couple interesting articles on Medium on how niche messaging apps are currently flooding the market. This made me wonder about how our own recent efforts to introduce PicsCast a private picture app fits into this whole ecosystem.

Screenshot of iPhone Messaging Apps

Let’s face it this is a tough market to tackle. Your are fighting with a lot competitors in this space. You have a whole slew of use cases, all focused on the single goal of a dominant communication platform. Everyone’s heard of Slack’s meteoric rise to the top of the B2B internal messaging ecosystem unseating such popular work messaging systems such as Microsoft Lync, Skype, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger for Business, etc. The underlying theme is users are craving away to with each other in the simplest way possible and it all starts with sending a message. This means removing complex and unproductive user interfaces and growing as mobile first products.

So Why Does it Matter?

Good question! Messaging as a platform is here to stay. I wouldn’t be surprised if many companies start to move in this direction to create more integrated ecosystems that begin with the chat experience. The need to communicate and show your life to others is a basic human need. That’s why you see so many people glued to their phones. The need to connect is there and these platforms provide the instant ability connect with others regardless of what the platform the content is delivered on.

Messaging is becoming its own operating system.

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Posted by at 20 February , 2015

Steve Jobs famously put Adobe and Flash on notice in 2007 when he said Apple would never support Adobe Flash Player on any of its iOS devices including the iPhone and iPad. This was the shot heard across the tech world as Adobe Flash Player has long been the standard for multimedia content on the web.

Heck, when I was in school it was all that was taught in media design classes. Adobe Flash this, Adobe Flash that. I guess Steve Jobs had the last laugh as Adobe killed its mobile Flash product development in 2011.

“Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash, he says. The world is moving to HTML5.” – Steve Jobs

Fast forward to the present, 2015. The web is marching on towards an open alternative, as Mozilla drops support for Flash in its latest release of the nightly builds of Firefox. Is Adobe Flash really on it’s last legs?

Maybe, but not anytime soon.

On a typical day here at Xform Computing, we receive anywhere from 100-250 support tickets from our users of AlwaysOnPC, Virtual Browser for Chrome, Virtual Browser for Firefox and Private Anonymous Browser with Adobe Flash and Java support.

Usually these tickets range from “Good job, I like your app! 5 Stars!” to “I need help! My app doesn’t work. I want to download Flash Player on my iPad.” On occasion we get asked questions that don’t fall into any pre-defined support category. The average user doesn’t care about the war going on against Adobe Flash on the web and mobile.

These are the questions many mobile device users on iOS and Android are trying to understand. Why doesn’t their current device support Adobe Flash Player or Java? Will support ever exist?

“Why doesn’t my iPad or iPhone offer support for Adobe Flash Player or support for Java right out of the box?” – Virtual Browser for Chrome User

This is the question that was posed to us by a user the other day “How come my iPad doesn’t come with Adobe Flash Player already installed? I paid good money for this device.”

With iPads being as ubiquitous as cars on the road, many folks use their iOS devices for more leisurely activities that would be considered passive usage such as gaming, surfing the web or checking the occasional email.

Little has been made of the large number of use cases in which iPads and iPhones are being used as full productivity devices for enterprise work. As this article for appstechnews.com mentions that a Citrix Mobile report shows the continued dominance of iOS in Enterprise. Support for Java and Flash is still heavily needed and our apps fill that void through a virtual service. By allowing your iOS device either iPhone or iPad to connect to our servers we are allowing users to access Flash and Java supported sites such as Pogo.com, BNSF, Runescape and Pearson Learning among others.

This isn’t to say that in 5 years the roadmap to a newer web standard won’t exist but for the foreseeable future Flash is still King. That means that while the usage of mobile devices that support Apple and Android keeps going up and up, the demand for Flash is going to be high.

Our apps VirtualBrowser for Firefox and VirtualBrowser for Chrome offer the best solution for users still seeking to use Flash and Java programs on an iPad or iPhone. By allowing a virtual connection on your iOS device you get a “desktop” class browsing experience with the ability to customize your browser with Add-ons, apps and extensions. Also by allowing users to connect with Firefox Sync or Sign in with a Google Account, you can enjoy the seamless integration of your saved bookmarks and history. All with the ability to still use Flash.

While the web may be writing off Adobe Flash we’re not setting it off into the sunset just yet. Adobe Flash is not dead, not by a long shot.

If you want to find out more about our apps click on the links to the right. Drop us a line via social media, we can be found on Facebook here, here and here.

For those twitter users, you can tweet at us at @AlwaysOnApps

Or if you prefer good old fashioned email communications, send us an email at support@xformcomputing.com

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Posted by at 13 February , 2015

Weekend Reading

 

 

Apple Doubles The Size Of iOS Apps

Times, they are a-changin’. Storage is getting cheaper, bandwidth is less tightly restricted and, as such, the apps we use are getting bigger.

For the first time since the launch of the App Store, Apple has increased the maximum size allowed for apps and games distributed through its App Store…read more

 

 

Watching People Code Could Be The Next Big Thing

Twitch made streaming video games into a hugely popular phenomenon, so what could be the next big live-streaming thing? Perhaps it’s watching other people code…read more

 

 

How to Research Good Blog Topics

Conducting research is an essential part of writing quality blog content. To be a credible industry expert, you need facts, stats, figures, and examples at your disposal — all external validation that shows you know your stuff…read more

Have a great weekend!

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Posted by at 13 February , 2015

Every so often we get that gut wrenching review when a user decides to unload all over us in the App Store. Needless to say it is a painful experience for any small app developer.

There are lot of ups and downs in the day to day support of apps for iPad, iPhone and Android devices. The difficulty lies in how the reviewer states their positive or negative experience. These comments can not only be detrimental to our review ratings, but many times it does not give us the proper context into why the user had a bad experience with the app in the first place.

Here is an example of a bad review left in the App Store that does not help us in determining what exactly the user was experiencing. Could the user have been in a slow WiFi location? Were they on at peak hours? Was a certain website not loading properly? Did they read the app description or access the help guide? It is hard to tell from this users review:

bad_review_screen_grab

How do you make sense of this type of information? In the Google Play Store we can respond to comments and make sure that users are being clear about the issue they are experiencing. Sometimes you do have to do some detective work to figure out what exactly is going on?

looking for clues in the app store

Then you have users that write reviews that are clear and concise. They write a review stating the exact experience they had with our apps and how it helped them:

One thing that jumps out is that 3 out of 3 customers found this review helpful. Potential customers are always looking at existing users ratings and reviews as the first indicator if they will download the app? They are already here they just want to see how others found the product useful.

Or you have the user who took the time to state simply how our app helped him out in his day to day use.

Needless to say, there is a way to write an effective review that is either positive or negative. This can actually help App Developer fix an issue that they may not even be aware of. Take a look at this score card that Airbnb uses to rate a customer reviews it creates a good methodology into how a user should rate an experience.

airbnb_scorecard

Seems like a reasonable way to score an app in the App Store, right? This is how the anatomy of a good or bad review can work in the users favor. There are several factors that play into this way of objectively reviewing an app on iOS or Android. Both are different platforms with their fair of good and bad applications and users should learn how to praise good efforts and apply constructive critiques of negative experiences. Telling us “Hey, your Apps sucks!” is not constructive as we may not know what it actually “sucking” in our App.

As App Developers we should also consider what users want in a mobile application? It is after all a two way street two way street. Ask yourself a few questions? Does it fill a need? Does it provide a solution to an existing problem? Does it work as advertised? Will it become a day-to-day app or an app that you use for enterprise purposes? There are so many questions that go into the utility an app provides like our Virtual Browser apps that can run Flash and Java; that we should be able to answer those questions.

Also consider this; What do people really want in good apps? This image below gives us a good indicator of the consideration that goes into downloading an app onto a mobile device.

What people are looking for in good apps

The biggest factor is if the user sees that the apps does exactly what they need it for. How does the user get there? By going into app reviews and ratings to see if it is worth the time and money to use any application. This why it is important to have positive and clear reviews by users.

Users in the App Store are looking at solving an existing problem on their given device. This is the best form of window shopping available. We need to provide the best reviews possible to encourage an app download. This is why a good or bad review can make or break your app. We need to guide users into giving us constructive critiques that will improve their overall experience.

In the end this is a two way street between App Developers and users.

Did you find this article useful? Let us know in the comments or by emailing us at support@xformcomputing.com

 

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