Anfacto, a startup in the mobile device management sphere seeks to create single-purpose Android systems for a number of purposes. By removing functionality from the Android platform at the OS level, Anfacto’s systems can head off security holes and unnecessary distractions. Their solution is called FleetOS, and allows customers to select what applications and features can be run on each device, creating custom solutions easily, down to minute details like wallpapers and other graphical resources.
At its event today, Apple announced the long suspected division of the iPhone line to include the new iPhone 5C as a budget alternative to the existing iPhone lineage, carried on by the new iPhone 5S. The 5C is offered starting at $99, has a polycarbonate back, and comes in 5 bright colors. The 5S is offered starting at $199, is aluminum, and comes in 3 metallic colors: gold, silver, and slate gray.
The 5S has a full set of improvements including a new processor, 64-bit architecture, an improved camera (it shoots 720p video at 120 fps to allow for some impressive slo-mo shots), and possibly most exciting, “Touch ID” fingerprint authentication. The iPhone 5S is a veritable media machine, but what could be most intriguing about the device is the new security peripheral: the Touch ID sensor.
While the fingerprint reading is never made available to other apps, the end of the password could be near, as services could issue “trusted device” status to a user’s phone, given the greater security of a fingerprint scanner. Soon we’ll know if the nuts and bolts of the technology will allow for extended permissions chains to link the device’s master unlock function, driven by a thumbprint, could be used with third party applications without actually revealing the thumbprint to the app as a form of primary authentication.
Many computing elite find Apple’s tight hardware standards and highly controlled ecosystem constricting, even if it is in the interest of system stability. Google’s Android exists with a very different outlook, supporting hardware from a variety of manufacturers, multiple versions of the OS, and a wide open development environment. This fragmentation comes at a cost, what some developers have come to call the Android Matrix of Pain. Developing for iOS has been a relatively straightforward process since the mobile platform’s launch, but the process of porting popular iOS apps to Android compliments has caused developers to make some compromises including supporting only recent Android versions, leaving out large chunks of the user base. A handful of companies have cropped up to offer comprehensive testing on a variety of Android hardware, but Android’s market dominance could suffer if greater standardization doesn’t allow wider app compatibility.
GoPro released an update to it’s iOS and Android companion apps, which allows GoPro owners to view, edit, and share content from their smartphone or tablet. The app connects to the camera over WiFi, giving owners a deep set of editing and sharing tools that control the camera from the phone or tablet. The update demonstrates GoPro’s dominance in an increasingly competitive camera market, and how it manages to constantly stay ahead of its competitors’ curves. Expect to see social feeds start to fill with action-packed videos in the near future.
Imgur, known to most people as a simple but popular photo-sharing website favored mostly by Reddit users, officially launched its first mobile application today. Fitting with its off-kilter ways, the app is, as of yet, Android only. Its Beta app was tested in the wild, which is why its rating is so poor in the Google Play store – many users had issues with the beta builds. The official, public app allows viewers to view and upload pictures, but it also supports sharing, commenting, and engaging within the broader Imgur community. There will also be updates in the coming months that guide content creation and personalization. Whether this becomes a major player in the photo-app landscape remains to be seen, but for now it remains an important addition, and a profoundly new way to interact with one of the most popular photo-sharing websites on the web.
The Facebook Phone has arrived…sort of. Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Home, an Android-compatible integration that replaces the Android home screen with a Facebook-branded experience dedicated to providing easier personal communication than the current app model does. Apps are still easily accessible via an app launcher. Facebook’s clever move relieves them of the hassle of producing a hardware piece, while gaining them deeper hardware integration. The question remains: Will other companies create similar top-level integration packages for Android devices to promote their brands?
As if it wasn’t easy enough to find tech savvy people in public by following their trails of tweets and cast-aside year-old Apply products, Swarmly now geolocates packs of them and delivers the information directly to iOS and Android phones. After a quiet iOS launch last September, the Android version launched today on Android to increase its effectiveness and potential user base. Swarmly doesn’t require check-ins. Instead, users enable the app to use their location data to contribute to “swarms” of people nearby, linked to specific locations where groups are likely to congregate. The app is designed to work instantly, instead of relying on historical data patterns like many check-in based applications. Swarmly could be a darling of SXSW 2013, and it will be interesting to see its guerrilla marketing implications.