App Store Optimization Checklist – ASO Tips

App Store Optimization is a way of ensuring your app meets app store ranking criteria and rises to the top of a search results page. But how does a marketer optimize for better discover-ability in an app store?

To help you boost your app marketing strategy and app store ranking, We have put together a list of 10 best App Store Optimization tips.

1. Understand your customer and your competition

How well do you know your customers and your competition? A well-formed App Store Optimization (ASO) strategy hinges on understanding how your customers use your app, along with a deep view of your competitive landscape.

To start, ask yourself the following:

  • What language do my customers naturally use?
  • How would they describe my app?
  • What are their top reasons for downloading and using my app?
  • What is my competitive advantage?
  • What keywords do my competitors target?
  • How easily can I compete against these apps on the same keywords?
  • Should I target the obvious keywords or the less obvious and less trafficked keywords that better speak to my unique offering and points of differentiation?

Your ASO strategy begins with putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Your goal is to improve discovery in app store searches and target those keywords that drive the most traffic. The best way to identify these optimal keywords is consumer research — finding out exactly what search queries brought your customers to your app and the natural language they use to describe it.

It’s equally important to survey your competition to identify which keywords are being targeted by apps similar to yours. You can then determine whether or not it makes sense to target these same keywords or a separate set of keywords unique to your individual value proposition. Similarly, you’ll have to decide if it makes more sense to rank in the top 10 for a few highly competitive keywords or to rank in the top spot for keywords with a lesser search volume. Kick off your research process with a tool like Keyword Explorer.

2. Choose the right app name

Coming up with a unique name for your app isn’t just a matter of branding. For best results with ASO, include relevant keywords within your title, as this text heavily factors into app store search results. In fact, our friends at TUNE recently conducted a study of the top 25 ranking positions and found that apps with a relevant keyword in their title ranked, on average, 10.3% higher than apps without a title keyword.

 

Titles in the App Store can be up to 255 characters, allowing for plenty of keywords or keyword phrases. However, don’t take this as an opportunity to stuff every keyword you can think of into your title; after all, your app’s name is, first and foremost, your first impression to a potential mobile customer. Longer titles, however, will be truncated on a search results or top chart page. Titles are typically truncated after the 23rd character (including spaces) in the App Store and the 30th character in Google Play. App titles for installed apps in a device’s navigation menu or home screen are truncated after 11 and 14 characters, respectively.

To ensure that your app can be clearly identified, keep the actual name short and sweet. You can augment this short title with nonessential keywords after the name, typically preceded by a dash or vertical bar, to associate your app with select keywords.

It’s also important to use only URL-friendly characters in your title, particularly in the App Store. Special characters or symbols will detract from your ASO strategy and cause iTunes to refer to your app’s numeric ID, rather than its name, to scan for relevant keywords.

3. Maximize your keywords

While many of these strategies apply across the board when it comes to the different app stores, the App Store and the Google Play Store have two very different approaches when it comes to ASO keywords.

The App Store

The App Store has a 100-character keyword field. It exclusively uses title and whatever keywords or keyword phrases you include in these 100 characters to determine which search strings your app will show up for. With this in mind, it’s important to use all of the allotted characters and carefully research your keywords to maximize your organic traffic.

Google Play

On the other hand, the Google Play Store takes an approach more similar to modern SEO. Google does away with the specified tags and scans your app’s description to extract relevant keywords. In this scenario, you’re given 4,000 characters to describe it in natural, customer-facing language. Without trying to jam as many keywords into this text as possible at the expense of your messaging strategy, try to sprinkle relevant keywords where they logically make sense. A recent Sensor Tower study showed that the optimal number of times to repeat a keyword in an app store product page is five, at which point you will maximize the likelihood of ranking prominently for that keyword. Additional mentions have little to no effect on ASO and may even turn off potential customers if your description appears intentionally repetitive.

With this in mind, everything consumer-facing in your app’s product page should be designed not for an algorithm but for the customer. If its description is a hodgepodge of contextually irrelevant keywords, that coveted rank will become meaningless, as your wordy description will struggle to entice customers to take the next step and download it. For best results, write for the customer first, and make small edits for keywords next — remember that the ranking algorithms take both keywords and conversion metrics into account.

4. Create a compelling description

With the exception of a few of the aforementioned strategically placed keywords, your app’s description should be targeted toward your customer base, rather than a search engine index. Your description should be viewed as a call-to-action for potential customers. Describe what it does in simple and concise language, list the unique benefits it offers, and compel the reader to download it. You’ve already convinced the app store that your app is relevant to a specific list of keywords, and now it’s time to convince your potential customers that it meets their needs.

We recommend focusing the bulk of your energy on the first three lines of your description to immediately grab your reader’s attention. Given the ever-growing number of apps in the marketplace, customers are sure to have a few — if not several — alternatives to consider when evaluating yours. Make their decision easy by immediately communicating what it does and why they should use it.

Your app’s description, as well as the rest of your product page, should be treated as a living document. As it changes with each new update, so should your description. Each time you submit an update, take the time to reflect the changes in your product page’s description and screenshots to call out new features and accurately portray it.

5. Stand out with a unique icon

As your potential customers browse a nearly endless list of apps, your visual icon is the first impression they’ll have of yours. It’s important to make it count!

When approaching your icon design, it’s important to note that the App Store and Google Play vary in their approach to, and rendering of, app icons. Both stores have preset standards for the ideal size, geometry, and color scheme of app icons, designed to match the rest of the OS.

For iOS icons, the most important thing to note is that icons should be sized to at least 1024×1024 pixels, the dimensions required by the App Store. From here, the Apple OS will resize your icon for any other applications, including app icons (180×180), navigation icons (66×66), and tab bar icons (75×75). Your image must therefore be designed with the meticulous detail of a 1024×1024 icon and the simplicity necessary to still look good scaled down to the smallest size.

Additional resources: iOS 9 Design Guidelines and iOS Icon Sizing Reference Chart

When designing an Android icon, the only difference is that Google Play requires a 512×512 icon, rather than 1024×1024. While not required, Google recommends designing app icons in accordance with its material design guidelines, which details everything from icon anatomy to lighting and shading.

Additional resources: Android Material Design Guidelines and Android Icon Sizing Reference Chart

Regardless of which OS you’re designing for, you need an icon capable of breaking through the clutter. Icons should be clear enough that they immediately convey what your app does, even in its scaled-down form within the apps menu. As such, don’t overcomplicate your icon with unnecessary words or logos that demand extra time from your customers.

To get an idea of what works historically, simply browse the top-rated apps in your category or Google/Apple’s top picks. Across the board, you’ll see a trend toward bright colors, unique shapes, and simple imagery. Few icons use words, and some will incorporate a border or drop shadow to make them pop, regardless of their background. And once again, it’s important to do a little competitive research to ensure that your icon is different enough to avoid having your app confused with a competitor’s.

6. Include screenshots and videos

Like icons, screenshots in your description may not have a direct effect on search rankings, but they do drive downloads. Images convey more about what it actually is and bring your descriptive text to life, allowing potential customers to visualize using your app before they make the download.

While you can upload up to five screenshots for an iOS app and up to eight for an Android app, only your first 2–3 screenshots will show in the gallery on page load. Take special care in ensuring that these screenshots speak to your biggest customer benefits and are strong enough to convince the reader to browse your additional screenshots or download it.

While the app stores prefer images that are representative of the customer’s experience in your app, you can technically upload any graphic into the screenshot field — including concept or character art. Commonly, publishers will blend graphic design with their screenshots to incorporate a text overlay describing key elements or new features. For example, Candy Crush Saga adds a graphic overlay to its screenshots to promote its new update.

Whatever your approach, your screenshots should show off your app’s most pivotal features, latest updates, and the pages on which your customers will spend most of their time. Skip the pretty splash pages and show the customer what they can expect during everyday use. For best results, A/B test different screenshot sets to determine which screenshots drive the most downloads.

7. Localize your app listing

When it comes to global marketing, a “one-size-fits-all” approach simply won’t cut it. Today, only 31% of app revenue is generated by North American consumers. And of those consumers outside the English-speaking world, 72% prefer to use their native language when shopping, even if they’re fluent in English. These two statistics speak to the massive opportunity available to app publishers. That is, those app publishers who are able to tap into this market by catering to the unique preferences of its customer segments.

In other words, if your audience goes beyond the English-speaking world, consider adapting your brand communication and language to the wants and needs of each audience segment.

At the most basic level, speak to your customers in the language they use at home. There are myriad solutions for low-cost translation or localization services that can translate your app’s title, keywords, description, and screenshots to the languages of your largest segments.

Both the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store allow you to localize your listing to make both discoverability and readability easier for customers in different countries. By doing so, you can increase both adoption and conversion, as more customers find your app using keywords in their language and as more customer download it after seeing a welcoming product page in their language. Together, these two effects can add up to as much as a 767% increase in downloads.

For example, Clash of Clans publisher Supercell translated its app description and screenshots to capture the Chinese market:

8. Increase traffic with outside promotion

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that on-page optimization is just one tool in your mobile marketing kit. And this is where your SEO knowledge really comes in. It is widely believed that both Google and Apple factor in your app’s total page visits and product page backlinks when determining your search and overall ranks.

Simply put, the more traffic you drive to your listing, the higher it will rank in search results. To drive traffic, build an online presence around your app with social media and content, soliciting press and reviews, and investing in online advertising.

For many publishers, app indexing has proven the most effective strategy for driving traffic to an app’s product page. A relatively new concept, app indexing is the process of making Android or iOS app content searchable and linkable from a web or mobile web search. Customers who see you indexed in a search result can click on your link and be deep-linked to either it’s product page (if they don’t have it installed) or to the page in your app from which that content is indexed (if they have it installed). Indexing, therefore, helps with both re-engagement and acquisition by promoting your content in new channels.

App indexing allows you to drive downloads and app store traffic directly from a search engine results page.

App indexing has quickly shaken up the world of search, with 40% of searches now returning app indexed results. The world is going mobile, and those apps ahead of the curve in ASO and app indexing trends will be those that nab market share from traditionally web-dominated search results. (For more ways to move beyond the app store with your marketing strategy, check out our guide The 2016 Guide to App Marketing Channels.)

Additional resources: How to Get Your App Content Indexed by Google

9. Update frequently

Mobile customers are looking for apps that are constantly improving, with regular updates based on customer feedback. Apps that are frequently updated are seen, by both the app store and the customer, to be of a higher value and more customer-centric. Consequently, app updates highly correspond to better reviews as each new and improved version of the app should naturally receive higher ratings than the version before.

Of course, releasing the update is only half the battle. The next step is to encourage existing customers to download the update. To help sell your next update, try these three strategies:

  1. Entice customers within your app (such as a note prompted at login, a push notification, or an update link prominently displayed in the main navigation) notifying them of the new update and what improvements they have to look forward to.
  2. Update the app description and the “What’s New” field in your app store product page to outline new/improved features with a compelling call-to-action.
  3. Maintain a large volume of five-star reviews for your app, and especially its latest version. Our 2015 Consumer Survey revealed that one-third of existing customers check an app’s ratings before downloading an update. Maintain a positive rating for an easy win.

To come up with a general recommendation for update frequency, we scoured the 500 top-ranked apps and found that the average update frequency was between 30 and 40 days. Keep in mind, however, that each time you update an iOS app, your ratings reset — and with that, your rank temporarily plummets. As a result, frequently updated iOS apps experience slightly higher app store rank volatility, while frequently updated Android apps experience reduced volatility.

10. Encourage ratings and feedback

Last but certainly not least, a consistent flow of positive reviews serves as the highest possible validation of your app’s quality and one of the highest determinants of rank. In our analysis of the 500 top-ranked apps posted last year on the Moz blog, we found the highest correlation between ratings (both average rating and rating count) and ranks than any of the other factors we tested. Across the board, apps with a large volume of positive ratings dominate the top charts.

We also found that rating volume almost always trumps rating sentiment when it comes to determining rank. The app stores are looking to recognize apps that have the largest fan community — and the best proxy for determining that is the rating count.

The apps with the highest rating counts are those that keep their customers engaged and proactively solicit customer feedback to shape their product roadmap and future updates. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that app store ratings provide just a myopic view of customer satisfaction. Typically, only your vocal minority — those who either love or hate your app — will take the time to write a review. In reality, most of your customers lie somewhere between these two extremes and require that extra engagement or prompt to give their feedback. With intelligent rating prompts, you can boost your rating — and ultimately, your rank — by prompting only those customers most likely to give you a 5-star review.

Wrapping it up

Backed by an understanding of the data and science behind app store ranking algorithms and these top tips for App Store Optimization, you’re well on your way to a bullet-proof ASO strategy. With careful measurement and a little trial and error, you’ll soon catapult past your competitors in the app store top charts.

Of course, App Store Optimization is an ongoing process, thanks both to the continually evolving ranking algorithms and to the competitive nature of the app stores. A successful ASO strategy requires a keen eye, a penchant for analytics, and regular check-ins. Manage this, and your investment will pay off many times over.

See you on the top charts!

Ref: Moz

Best Android Apps – Part 2

We have pick out some of the best Android apps to download on your new phone, including free apps, popular Android apps and some apps you might not know.

Read Part 1 of this list

AirDroid

What is AirDroid?

For those Android users feeling left out by Apple’s Continuity feature, which allows you to integrate your iPhone with your tablet and Mac, AirDroid has the answer. It’s more than just a wireless file transfer and notification tool. AirDroid also allows you to share your phone’s screen with your laptop, create a Wi-Fi hotspot, clear out RAM space, and access your phone via a desktop web browser. Basically, the developers have provided you with every type of sharing and maintenance facility you need.

What’s good?

As mentioned, AirDroid packs in a load of features beyond the usual sharing tools. Rather than making it feel overloaded, the extra stuff, such as the virus scanner and RAM optimisation, are nice features which don’t clutter the home menu and make AirDroid feel like a well-thought out and comprehensive tool.

When it comes to the main features, such as file sharing and notifications, AirDroid is incredibly easy to use, as all good apps should be. You can log in using Facebook, Google, or Twitter, or create an account in seconds by adding your email address and a password. Once I’d signed up on my phone, it was simply a case of downloading the desktop version of the app on my laptop and logging in using the email and password I’d set up through my phone.

As soon as I’d done that, my handset was detected by the desktop AirDroid app and I was sharing files and receiving notifications on my laptop instantly. There was almost no lag between notifications popping up on my phone and them appearing on my desktop and you also have the option to reply to messages and calls through your computer.

There’s versions of AirDroid for Windows, Mac and a web extension, so there’s no limitations depending on which platform you prefer. And you can add friends who also use AirDroid to quickly transfer files.

What’s bad?

The obvious drawback with any wireless sharing platform is that, depending on how speedy your Wi-Fi is, it’s not going to be as fast as plugging a cable in and transferring files that way. But that’s not a specific criticism of AirDroid and I had no issues with files not transferring or notifications not showing. Still, if I wanted to transfer a lot of larger files, I would still go for the cable method.

Other than that there’s a couple of ads included by way of extra icons on the homescreen and you have to upgrade to the premium version to get extra features such as bigger file transfers and the ability to link more than two devices. From what I can tell, upgrading to the premium edition is done by sharing the app with your friends, as I couldn’t find any way to pay for the upgrade.

Verdict

AirDroid is a polished and easy to use file transfer app with a range of extra features that are actually useful. The fact that both Windows and Mac are catered for, plus the ability to use the web extension, allowing you to sync your phone with pretty much any computer you use, also makes it incredibly versatile. AirDroid almost feels like it should be an official standard Android feature.

Score: 9/10 | Price: Free | In-app purchases? No | Download AirDroid

Adobe Premiere Clip

What is Adobe Premiere Clip?

Adobe has provided Android users with an easy to use yet fairly in-depth video editor in the form of Adobe Premiere Clip. The app allows you to create video edits easily and quickly while providing a range of editing options that other video editors for smartphones don’t have. What’s more, you can open any project you make using Clip in Adobe’s full desktop video editor Premiere Pro.

What’s good?

Premiere Clip makes good on its promise of easy usability. The layout is simple enough to figure out intuitively, with a Google-like ‘plus’ icon in the bottom right for making a new edit.

Once you hit the plus you can choose to import video from your device, the Creative Cloud, or shoot new video or photos. After selecting the clips you want to use, Premiere Clip will give you the option to make your own edit or create a random one with the ‘Automatic’ feature. This option will cut your video together by matching the beats of whichever soundtrack you choose. It works well, and adds a nice feature for those looking to create a quick montage edit without delving into the deeper customisation options.

When it comes to the ‘Freeform’ option, things are similarly straightforward. You get a simple layout showing your imported clips, which acts as the final edit timeline, with a video display at the top to check your full edit. The interface makes it easy to add effects, play with the exposure, highlights, and shadows of your clips, and add music.

One drawback I found was when adding filters or effects to individual clips, the app would apply it to all the clips in my timeline, which was disappointing. But that was a minor drawback to what is a nice and clean editing interface. The options at the top of the screen make it incredibly easy to tweak the clips and add standard effects such as crossfades and fade-ins.

Once you’re finished with the edit, you can share or publish the video in a variety of ways, including exporting to the Creative Cloud, direct to YouTube, or saving the exported video to your device’s memory. You can also save the project to be opened in Premiere Pro, which is a nice feature to include, allowing for further and more advanced editing on the desktop programme.

All in all, the experience is startlingly pain-free, and I was able to figure out how to use the various features and start editing in minutes.

What’s bad?

Unfortunately, the app will upload your created video timelines to the Adobe Creative Cloud automatically when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. There doesn’t seem to be any way to turn the feature off, and you don’t even have to have shared or published the video in order for the cloud to start syncing your projects.

It also seems that Adobe doesn’t want you exporting clips with any higher resolution than 720p. The app will scale down higher-res shots to 720p before publishing your video edits, which for the casual user won’t matter too much, but for those looking to make and upload high-quality videos, this could pose a problem.

What’s more, I often encountered an issue with importing my own tracks to use as backing music. The app crashed several times and would often just not load the music. This is something that needs to be fixed urgently.

Verdict

Adobe’s video editor for handheld devices manages to combine an array of features with a refined and easy to use interface. Despite the syncing and downgrading issues, most will find all they need in Adobe Premiere Clip. A further update to address the music importing issue will make this one of, if not the best video editor for Android devices.

Score: 8/10 | Price: Free | In-app purchases? No | Download Adobe Premiere Clip

Sleep Partner

What is Sleep Partner?

Sleep assistance apps seem to be springing up in bewildering abundance recently, while stories about the effects of ‘blue light’ on sleep cycles become similarly ubiquitous. From apps that wake you up at the right point in a sleep cycle, to those that play white noise to aid your slumber, app developers seem to really care about the many different ways in which you can hit the sack.

Enter Sleep Partner. Currently in beta mode, the sleep management app helps you to get to bed at your target time by using several features including filtering out blue light and reminding you to get to bed in a particularly novel way involving cartoon sheep. It also includes an alarm feature, which uses the sounds of birds chirping to help rouse you in as gentle a way as possible.

What’s good?

Sleep Partner is simplicity defined. The app opens with a screen where you set your desired bed and wake-up time. Once you set your target bedtime, the app will filter out 83% of the blue light from your screen three hours before you are due to hit the hay. It basically makes your screen take on a kind of sepia tone, but actually feels quite nice to reduce the glare as the day winds down.

Amazon has just released a new software upgrade which does the same for its Amazon Fire tablet range, and experts have long been warning against the effects of staring at a screen blasting blue light at you before going to sleep. Sleep Partner makes it incredibly easy to ensure you remember to turn your blue light filter on by doing it automatically based on your target bedtime.

It’s also quite nice to wake up to an alarm that doesn’t use one of the stock alarm tones which come with your phone. The standard options seem to always be based on lively and vaguely ethnic-sounding music, which aren’t exactly conducive to a gentle awakening in the mornings. Thankfully, Sleep Partner will stir you with the mellifluous sounds of chirping birds – a nice change from SAMBA_MADNESS_01.

Cartoon sheep will also appear on-screen if you miss your target bedtime, and what’s more, they change depending on how good you are at sticking to your targets. Miss a few bedtimes in a row and they will increase in number. It’s clever, if a bit annoying.

The app also gives you the ability to tweak the various features, from blue screen filter tone to alarm volume.

What’s bad?

As mentioned, if you stay up past your target bedtime, the screen will start filling with sheep to stop you using your phone. This is intended as a reminder to get you to turn off Facebook and go to bed, but it’s pretty annoying really. You can fix it really easily though, by just going into the app and turning target bedtime off. It would also be nice to have a white noise feature, as this would mean all aspects of sleep aid would be contained within Sleep Partner.

Verdict

Sleep Partner is as easy to use as it is good for your health. It contains genuinely useful tools for helping you sleep and if it had a white noise option it would have everything you need for a good night’s rest. As it is, it’s still worth trying to see if you feel better after a week of no blue light in the evenings.

Score: 9/10 | Price: Free | In-app purchases? No | Download Sleep Partner

Ref : Trusted Reviews

Best Android Apps

We have pick out some of the best Android apps to download on your new phone, including free apps, popular Android apps and some apps you might not know.

World Around Me (WAM)

What is it?

World Around Me, or WAM, is a tool for finding out about places of interest around you. Winner of the Google Play Awards ‘Early Adopter’ category, this app uses your phone’s camera to highlight local restaurants, parks, museums, cinemas, and other interesting places in your immediate area.

What’s good?

So what exactly is the ‘Early Adopter; award? Well, according to Google it rewards adopters of a nascent technology or platform – in this case the use of a very basic augmented reality. The main feature of WAM is the ability to point your phone’s camera at the surrounding area and see small cards appear next to places of interest. The cards will include the name of the place, a review rating, and the distance to that particular location.

In the top left of the screen there’s a small radar icon, with dots representing the location of nearby attractions. Point the camera in the direction of a dot, tap the card that appears on-screen, and you’ll get more information and options.

Taking the app for a spin in central London, I tapped on the card for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for example, which would give me more information, the option to call the venue or visit its website, read reviews, or view the location on Google Maps.

And it works straight away. You just download the app, choose from a list of categories such as ‘Eat’, ‘Money’, ‘Enjoy’, and more, and the app will load up your camera viewfinder. That’s it, you’re ready to start finding interesting places around you. There’s also a list view for those that don’t want to use the camera, which will simply show a list of the nearest places of interest, and a map view.

One of the cool features is the real-time distance indicator that appears on the various cards and which decreases the closer you get to the location. The other great thing about WAM is the sheer amount of places you’re able to search for. Pretty much anything you can search for on Google Maps is searchable within the app.

What’s bad?

There’s no question that there’s a novelty factor to WAM that some will find wears off fairly quickly. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat nearby, WAM isn’t going to offer any more suggestions than Google Maps.

It’s cool to see the augmented reality view in practice at first, and for many it might prove to be more usable. But it’s essentially the same functionality you get from any map app, just implemented in a more visually striking way.

You also have to pay if you want the Pro version, which gets rid of the ads and includes higher-quality photos of the many places of interest.

Verdict

WAM is something a bit different. It’s no more useful than a decent map app when it comes to finding local services and places of interest, but it’s undeniably cool to see even this very basic form of augmented reality working, and may even prove to be a more intuitive way to discover local hot spots for many.

Score: 8/10 | Price: Free | In-app purchases? No | Download WAM

 

Younity

What is Younity?

If you’re looking to access media stored on your computer through your smartphone, Younity might just be the app for you. Much like the popular Plex app, Younity turns your computer into a home media server, allowing you to stream movies, view photos, and listen to music through your handset without having to transfer all the files to your phone.

What’s good?

In order to use Younity, you’ll need to install the app on both your handset and your computer. The setup process on both is incredibly simple. You can download, install, and set up the app on both your computer and tablet or phone within 10 minutes. The Android app is available through the Play Store, and you can visit the Younity website to download the desktop version. You can also download Younity on as many devices as you like.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll be asked to sign in with a Facebook or Google account, or sign up using an email address. I opted for the latter. After you’ve clicked the right button in the standard verification email, Younity will immediately start scanning your computer for files.

Considering I have quite a large amount of music and pictures on my Macbook’s internal storage, the time it took for Younity to scan and index everything was remarkably quick. I was browsing and streaming photos and music on my phone within 2 or 3 minutes of setting the app up on my computer.

The interface is incredibly clean, while the material design elements make the whole experience distinctly familiar. Browsing through your various files is made easy with the inclusion of a menu that slides out from the side of the screen and breaks down your files into Music, Videos, Photos, and Files. You also have the option to search, which makes things a lot easier if you have a lot of files and can’t quite remember where they’re all stored.

Everything is just incredibly straight forward, which is exactly what you want from any app such as this. I had absolutely no problems during setup or use.

What’s more, the service is very secure. Nothing ever gets uploaded to the cloud, rather, a personal cloud is created using only the devices you sign up with, and the whole thing is encrypted. Younity also works with AirPlay, so you can stream media to your TV or stereo, plus you can upload photos to social media direct from your computer through your phone.

What’s bad?

We’re struggling to find anything wrong with this one. Not only does it deliver on its promise to allow you access to your stored media from anywhere, the whole thing is completely free and there’s not an ad in sight. The one thing that would have been nice is Chromecast support, but according to the developers, that’s on its way.

Verdict

A simple, easy to use service that does everything it promises. Airplay integration is great, and with Chromecast support on the way, plus the fact that the whole thing is completely free, Younity is a must-have app for anyone wanting on-the-go access to their stored files and media.

Score: 9/10 | Price: Free | In-app purchases? No | Download Younity

Trello

What is Trello?

When it comes to organisation apps, you’re beyond spoilt for choice. It seems like new apps offering to help simplify your life appear on the Play Store every day. Among the hordes of organisation apps however, Trello stands out as a powerful yet simple tool for planning projects.

The whole thing is based around boards, on which you can make lists. You then populate these lists with cards. For instance, you might have a ‘to do’ list with several cards for each job, a ‘working on’ list for jobs you plan to work on that day, and a ‘done’ list for when you finish a job. You can then drag the cards between lists depending on their status.

What’s good?

Trello makes it incredibly easy to start using different boards. It works best in its full desktop browser setup, but the mobile app is just as useful, if slightly more difficult to use. If you have a Trello account, you can simply sign in when you download the app and your existing boards will be synced to your phone.

What’s great about Trello is that it can be used for so many things. If you want to use it simply as a ‘to do’ list with extra features, it’s great for that. If you want to use it to visualise a personal project it’s great for that too. And if you want to use it as a way of organising your team at work it’s range of collaborative working options make it the perfect tool.

Despite the fact that a smartphone screen somewhat detracts from the experience by limiting your view of a board, the mobile experience is still very fluid and accessible. Tap a board, tap a list to add a card, and tap and hold to drag a card between lists. Easy stuff.

 

You can do all the things that the desktop browser version offers, such as adding other members to a board, assigning them to cards, or tagging certain cards with colours. There’s also the option to attach files to cards from Google Drive or Dropbox. The app also encourages collaborative working by allowing you and other members to comment on specific cards. All of this is incredibly easy to do, and Trello has been designed in line with Google’s Material Design, so the user interface feels familiar.

I used Trello to organise my work tasks, personal ‘to do’ items, and plan projects and found it very easy to use. I was never looking through menus for a particular option or wishing I could do something that Trello doesn’t allow. It all just works well.

What’s bad?

Not a lot really. Some reviewers have asked for better widgets, and it would certainly be nice to have a widget which shows you the status of a particular card you’ve assigned someone to. But on the whole Trello works incredibly well, and I have never encountered any issues other than when my phone has lost data connection.

Verdict

Trello combines ease of use with a range of extra features, making it an adaptable tool which you can use to organise any type of project you want. With a clean and intuitive UI, plus the fact that the whole thing is entirely free, there’s no reason not to at least investigate it for yourself.

Score: 10/10 | Price: Free | In-app purchases? No | Download Trello

Launchify

What is Launchify?

Any smartphone user knows that slight reductions in the amount of time it takes to carry out a task can make all the difference to the mobile experience. Launchify allows you to quickly launch your favourite apps without having to return to your homescreen or app menu.

A constant notification provides you with a line of your most used apps which you can set to change based on your location. And there’s also lock screen and home screen widgets, allowing you to get quick access to your favourite apps from anywhere. It’s a very simple but incredibly useful service.

What’s good?

Launchify begins working as soon as you download it and tap the app icon. Once you’ve given Launchify access to your apps, you’ll be taken to the home screen where you can start customising. As mentioned, a constant notification, featuring your most-used apps, will appear in your notifications shade. You can customise this notification very easily by tapping on ‘custom apps’ from the Launchify’s home screen and selecting the apps you want to appear.

Alternatively you can set a Home and Work address which allows Launchify to change the line up of apps in the notification based upon where you are and which apps you mostly use in those locations. It can also tell when you’re driving and recommend apps you might need, such as Google Maps. Simple but clever.

And it works well. I found that Launchify did a good job of anticipating the apps I needed, although you’ll need to use it for a few days before the location service learns your habits properly. And even though the time it takes to go to one of your home screens and tap an app wasn’t ever a huge problem, the small reduction does make a difference. Swiping down from the top and then tapping an app feels intuitive and speedy.

What’s bad?

The constant notification is slightly irritating. Every now and then you’ll think you have a message, only to realise you’ve got Launchify turned on. It’s a small issue though, and you can always use the app’s lock screen and home screen widgets instead.

If you want to add more than six apps to the notification, you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version, which also allows you to manually add contacts to the notification. It’ll cost you £1.50, so it’s not the most expensive upgrade, but you might find that six apps is all you need anyway, making the upgrade somewhat unnecessary.

Verdict

Launchify is easy to use and allows you to access your favourite apps from anywhere. Its interface is also simple enough that you’ll be using Launchify confidently within minutes of downloading it. It’s not going to revolutionise the smartphone experience, but it’s a handy tool for anyone looking for quick access to their favourite apps.

Score: 8/10 | Price: Free (£1.50 for Pro version) | In-app purchases? No | Download Launchify

BeyondPod

What is BeyondPod?

BeyondPod is a podcast player and manager with some cool extra features such as the ability to integrate with Feedly. The app contains content from both small and big publishers so you should be able to find pretty much any podcast you search for. It’s been around for a while now, but has seen a number of improvements which make it one of the best podcast apps you’ll find on the Play Store.

What’s good?

Like any good app, BeyondPod makes it easy to get set up. Once you open it for the first time you’ll be asked to choose your favourite categories, from Comedy to News, and the app will suggest some feeds to start following.

Within minutes of downloading it, I found several of my favourite podcasts and was downloading new episodes. In fact, there wasn’t any podcast which BeyondPod failed to find, from Serial to WTF.

The app also creates ‘smart playlists’ based on your listening habits, although I found it easier to just navigate through my downloaded content myself. You can also easily create playlists by tapping the ‘plus’ symbol below each podcast episode, which I found more useful than trusting BeyondPod to guess my listening schedule.

BeyondPod is also compatible with Android Auto and comes with playback features such as volume boost and the ability to adjust playback speed. You can also use the configurable skip buttons to quickly go back 10 or 30 seconds, or whatever you choose as the standard skip options. This is a very useful feature as the timeline indicator can often be difficult to use on a small phone screen and I found myself using the custom skip buttons a lot instead of trying to manually go back to re-hear something I missed.

With the Pro version you also get Chromecast support, so you can cast video and audio content from the app direct to your TV or speaker system. When you first download the app you will be given seven days of the Pro version as a trial. That means you’ll get the Chromecast support, device synchronisation (which means you can pick up where you left off across multiple devices), and automatic downloads where BeyondPod will download new episodes overnight.

What’s bad?

After the seven day trial you’ll have to pay a pretty hefty £5.56 for an unlock key if you do decide to go Pro. There’s no obligation to do so, but considering there are other podcast apps which supply some of the Pro features as standard the price seems quite high. Still, many will find the price reasonable having got used to BeyondPod’s simple and easy playback interface and extra features.

A recent update caused controversy among Play Store reviewers who say BeyondPod was easier to use before the update rolled out. The app does seem to have a lot of extra settings hidden away in various menus and at first it’s unclear whether the suggested feeds that result from your category preferences are feeds you are subscribed to or are simply there as recommendations.

Verdict

BeyondPod is a great way to manage and listen to podcasts. The player is simple and easy to use, there’s tonnes of content, and the extra features are genuinely useful. While the price for the Pro version is fairly steep and the home screen layout could be a little clearer, BeyondPod will not disappoint anyone looking for a comprehensive podcast manager.

Score: 8/10 | Price: Free (£5.56 for Pro version) | In-app purchases? No | Download BeyondPod

 

Ref: Trusted Reviews

DNS firewall – Its time to try DNS firewall

[vsw id=”1xWSU4DCNZ4″ source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

 

https://www.isc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/RPZ-webinar7.ppt.pdf

Webinars and other Presentations given by ISC

http://www.securityzones.net/images/downloads/Rackspace-RPZ-Case-Study.pdf

https://kb.isc.org/article/AA-00525/110/%20Building-DNS-Firewalls-with-Response-Policy-Zones-RPZ.html

http://www.securityzones.net/images/downloads/BIND_RPZ_Installation_Guide.pdf

 

5 Reasons your social media marketing isn’t working

Social media is a key component of effective online marketing. Unless you’re selling arrowheads to cavemen, odds are that your target demographic is on social media every day—and most businesses know that. So if you’re on social media already and you’re posting regularly, but you’re not seeing any results from your efforts, you might wonder what you’re doing wrong. Here are 5 common mistakes that social media marketing novices make, and how you can correct the problems.

Always Talking about Yourself

Everybody knows somebody who seems to love talking about themselves. Every conversation with the person is “me, me, me” until you tune them out or just walk away. You know that you don’t like that person, and yet, too many people become that person when they’re marketing on social media. They share only their own blog posts, talk only about their business, and self-promote endlessly. Who wants to engage with someone like that?

So if you’re noticing very little engagement with your posts, take a look and ask yourself how many of them are just about you. If it’s the vast majority, tone down the promotion and try sharing content from other people, or talking about general industry topics instead of just talking about your business.

 Not Having a Strategy

You can’t just be on social media and expect it to work for you. You need to have a strategy in place. Who is your audience? What are your goals? What tactics will you use to engage your audience? How frequently do you intend to post to each platform? What platforms will you use?

All of these questions are vital in determining the direction of your social media marketing strategy, and each one needs to be carefully answered before you begin posting.

Ignoring Negative Feedback

It seems like a lot of people online are just there to spread negativity. In your personal life, it’s okay to ignore those people. But in your professional life, if you see any negativity directed at your business, you need to respond to it—and quickly. Ignoring negative posts or messages can quickly snowball into a crisis for your online reputation.

So when you see a post or message with criticism for your company, answer it as quickly as possible in a polite manner. But don’t just give a blanket apology. Your online audience wants to see you taking actions to rectify a bad situation. So engage with the person, and ask how you can fix the problem for them.

Spreading Yourself Too Thin

When you’re just starting out with social media marketing, you might feel like you have to jump on every platform out there. This isn’t true. Ask yourself where your target audience is likely engaging the most and start there. For B2C businesses, Twitter is a good platform to use. For B2B companies, LinkedIn is more effective. Facebook is a tried-and-true platform that works well for most companies.

Start out on just one or two platforms, and offer consistent, quality content there. Once you’re sure you can offer the same high-quality content elsewhere, you can begin to branch out.

 

Not Having a Voice Elsewhere

Your social media profile can’t be the only online voice your company has. You need to have a presence elsewhere, even if it’s just on your own blog. Look for opportunities to engage, write, and speak about your area of expertise in other places on the internet.

For example, look at social media influencer and business advisor Tai Lopez. His internet presence is widespread. Not only is he active on virtually every social media platform, but he also writes for websites like Fortune.com, has his own online blog, and hosts a daily podcast. This type of widespread influence allows you to establish your online voice and gives you fresh content to share on social media every day.

So if your social media marketing isn’t paying off, ask yourself if you’re making any of the mistakes described above, and take measures to correct it.

 Courtesy by  http://smashinghub.com/

Solve one of these problems to become a billionaire

What to become a billionaire?

Your best bet could be solving a problem that’s eluded engineers for decades. Here are the leading problems waiting to be solved. By solving any of these you may become a billionaire easily.

want-to-become-a-billionaire-wireless-power

Wireless Power

Forget about better batteries. the future of longer-lasting phones, tablets, and other technology is wireless power.

figure out how to turn your TV or cellular transmission into a power source.

want-to-become-a-billionaire-rural-remote-internet

Rural, Remote Internet

Internet dead zones are still a problem, especially in rural areas and developing countries. but solving them is a difficult challenge, one that Google and Facebook are tackling head on. If you can find a faster, cheaper approach than Google. You could make billions.

want-to-become-a-billionaire-cheap-scalable-solar-power

Cheap, Scalable Solar Power

Today, solar panels are all the rage in upscale neighborhoods. But that are highly expensive to install, which makes them inaccessible to the middle and lower class.

Design a cheap, highly efficient solar cell and you will have to holy grail of electricity on you hands.

want-to-become-a-billionaire-affordable-water-desalination

Affordable water desalination

Drought and water shortage is a huge problem. But what if we could turn ocean water into drinking water through desalination?

so far no one has designed a desalination plant that’s economically viable. you could be the firt to solve one of these world’s most pressing issues.

want-to-become-a-billionaire-improve-major-forecast

Improve major weather forecasts

predicting the weather is hard. but major weather events like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons cost billions of dollars each year in damage.

develop a better forecast model and you could save the world billions while reaping some of your own

Ref: Business Insider

iPhone hidden features

iphone hidden features

Here’s are iPhone hidden features which you didn’t even know existed

The iPhone is a multimedia enabled smart phone designed, manufactured and marketed by Apple Inc. The first of its kind was introduced in early 2007 and since then it has gained great popularity among its users. The smartphone has a variety of complex and advanced functionalities and its use has always left the users delighted. It can function as a camera phone, portable media player, visual voicemail and can be used for text messaging. The device has been used on several occasions as an internet client in web browsing, email and Wi-Fi connectivity. Just like the iPad, navigation through the device’s capabilities is through its wide multi-touch screen enhanced with a visual keyboard. Through the App Store launched in the year 2008, users can be able to search and install applications on the device to enhance some capabilities. The applications may range from social networking, reference, games, GPS navigation and advertisement features.

At the moment, there are approximately four iPhone model generations that have been accompanied by four major IOS releases. Each release has embraced more features in terms of storage capacity, installable applications, visual and audio media and the camera capabilities. However, the original Iphone has shaped the screen size and keyboard placement which has persisted throughout in the later models. The iPhone 3G has 3G network capabilities as well as A-GPS location. A compass, higher resolution camera for photos and video and faster processor were integrated in the iPhone 3GS model. The coming of the iPhone 4 introduced better features. The device has higher resolution display and dual cameras which can be used for face time video calling. The user interface is enhanced with graphical features to demonstrate the functionalities that can be achieved.

In this article, we are going to bring to you 25 “iPhone hidden features” that are really, truly hidden and mainly hidden in the Settings app that basically we would not look into unless required.

Let’s take a look at iPhone hidden features

Redial: To make the last dialed number appear, press the green call button on the keypad screen in the phone app.

Clear cache: Using a secret trick, you can make your iPhone run faster by clearing out the cache in numerous Apple’s apps. Tap on any single tab icon at the bottom of the screen 10 times in a row in the App Store, Podcasts, Music, Game Center and Phone apps.

Make TouchID work faster: TouchID will work much faster if you the same fingerprint multiple times as different entries. This is particulary useful on older phones like the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6.

Spotlight conversions: For easy conversions, just open Spotlight and type something like “50 euros in GBP,” and it will immediately carry out the conversion.

Spotlight math: No need to open the Calculator app to do a quick math problem. Just pull down to open Spotlight and type it right there.

Delete numbers in the Calculator: You can delete single digits when you tap the wrong number by swiping left or right on the screen where the numbers appear.

Clear RAM to make your phone run faster: Until you see “Slide to power off”, hold down the power button and then let go. Later, hold down the home button until the screen goes blank and your home screen reappears.

Burst mode: To shoot in burst mode, hold down the camera’s shutter button.

Remote shutter: To snap a photo in the Camera app, use the volume up or down button on your headphones.

Turn the flashlight off: To turn off the flashlight, you need to simply swipe up on the camera icon on your lock screen.

3D Touch while drawing: All of the drawing tools and the eraser are pressure sensitive in the Notes app.

Close multiple apps at once: To open the app switcher, double-tap the home button and then you can use two, even three fingers to slide multiple apps closed with one swipe.

Recently closed tabs: To open a screen that lists all of your recently closed tabs, simply tap and hold on the + symbol in Safari on the tab carousel view.

Desktop version of a site: Just hold down the reload button in the URL bar to request for the desktop version of a site.

Peek at tabs: A 3D Touch will let you peek at the tabs that you wish to open in the Safari tab carousel.

Peek at bookmarks: You can use 3D Touch to Peek at bookmarks before you open them.

Edit reminders: To edit the time or add a location, 3D Touch an item in your Reminders app.

View only unread emails: To see only unread emails in your inbox, tap the Mailboxes link in the top right corner of the Mail app and then tap Edit. Tap the circle next to “Unread” and you will get a new folder that comprises only your unread emails.

Save a draft with one swipe: To save a draft, tap on the subject line and swipe down to the bottom of the screen in the Mail app.

Quick Reply: Without leaving the screen you are on, pull the notification that indicates you have a new iMessage or SMS at the top of the screen downward for quick reply.

Hidden level(s): Open the level by sliding to the left in the Compass app. Then with the screen facing away from the ground, place your phone flat to reveal a bubble level.

Artist Peek: 3D Touch an artist in the Music app to Peek at their music.

Renewable Low Power Mode: You will receive a notification on your lock screen that Low Power Mode has been disabled, as it automatically shuts off when you charge. To turn it back on, swipe left on that notification.

Find an iPhone’s owner: To return a lost iPhone to its owner, you just need to simply ask Siri, “whose phone is this?” and it will show you so you can get in touch with him or her.

Reachability: One of the best new feature of iPhone, you need to double-touch (don’t tap, touch) on the home button and the entire screen will shift down so you can reach the top without shifting your grip.

Ref: Techworm

Reasons to Stick with MySQL

mysql update

MySQL’s founder is encouraging people to steer away from his creation. Here’s why he’s wrong.

Schism between the worlds of open source and proprietary software is never going to go away as long as open source remains viable and competitive. Eventually, you have a meeting of both worlds. In the case of MySQL, it was when Sun Microsystems purchased the open source database for $1 billion in 2008, a significant multiple given MySQL was about a $50 million business at the time.

MySQL was the cause of the significant hang-up when Oracle tried to acquire Sun in 2009, as MySQL founder Michael “Monty” Widenius staunchly opposed the deal and complained to the European Commission. The whole $7.5 billion deal was held up almost a year because of this one product, which Oracle made major promises to support in return for getting the European Commission off its back.

Monty hasn’t given up his assaults on MySQL, even though he took the entire code base circa the Oracle acquisition, forked it, and made a new product calledMariaDB. Monty is welcome to his own opinion, even if he has been on this charge now for four years and looks a little obsessed for it. He’s a successful, respected developer whose complaints can’t be merely dismissed as sour grapes. After all, he got $1 billion out of Sun. He can argue he’s fighting on principle.

Monty has his say, now we have ours. Here are five reasons why you should stick with the open source database. (And for balance, see Rikki Endsley’s article on thereasons you should leave MySQL behind.)

1. There is more MySQL investment and innovation than ever before.

The conventional wisdom in the open-source community is that Oracle wanted MySQL so it could throttle the threat to its RDBMS business. This accusation would make sense if Microsoft was the accused firm, but not Oracle. Its flagship database is far and away more advanced and MySQL was at best going to nibble around the edges.

Since the acquisition, Oracle has increased the MySQL staff and given it a more mature engineering process. Rather than the typical open-source project with people scattered around the planet, engineering and planning is driven from Oracle.

In this time, one developer notes, the company has been making the code more modular. That means short-term work but long-term payback. In MySQL 5.6, they split one of the crucial locks in the MySQL Server, the LOCK_open, which could improve top performance by more than 100%.

Plus, the major storage engine for MySQL is InnoDB, and Oracle acquired InnoDB back in 2005. The InnoDB developers, also located within Oracle, work with the MySQL and Oracle database teams for even better integration.

2. MySQL products remain solid.

MariaDB and open-source advocates complain that new code in MySQL 5.5 doesn’t have test cases and that some of the enterprise features in version 5.5 are closed source. That is a matter of open source purity, of course, and one for any customer to take into consideration.

Still, when it came out in February, MySQL 5.6 was well-received as a solid, well-performing product with a number of new features. Oracle spent two years releasing Development Milestone Releases (DMR) to the MySQL Community for testing and feedback.

MySQL 5.6 went from 4 CPU threads in prior versions to 64 CPU threads, nearly tripled the number of concurrent connections from the prior version, and saw a four-fold improvement in read speed. There are many more improvements that would take too long to list.

Robert Hodges, president of the database clustering and replication firm, said he has no doubt of the viability of MySQL and has yet to meet a manager who fears MySQL will be ruined by Oracle. The bottom line is that Oracle is growing MySQL into an enterprise-class DBMS.

3. MySQL is designed with a focus on the Web, Cloud, and Big Data

Oracle was not deaf to the trends in computing and put emphasis on the Web, cloud computing, and big data projects. The focus was on both MySQL and MySQL cluster to provide improvements in scale-up and scale-out performance, high availability, self-healing and data integrity, provisioning, monitoring and resource management, developer agility, and security.

To support cloud services, MySQL replication has been greatly enhanced to include a new feature, Global Transaction Identifiers (GTIDs). GTIDs make it simple to track and compare replication progress between the master and slave servers. This makes it easier to recover from failures while offering flexibility in the provisioning and on-going management of multi-tier replication.

In April 2013,  Oracle announced the MySQL Applier for Hadoop. The Applier enables the replication of events from MySQL to Hadoop / Hive / HDFS as they happen and complements existing batch-based Apache Sqoop connectivity.

One of the first firms to embrace MySQL in a Big Data environment is Nokia, which consists of a centralized, petabyte-scale Hadoop cluster that is interconnected with a 100TB Teradata enterprise data warehouse (EDW), numerous Oracle and MySQL data marts, and visualization technologies that allow Nokia’s 60,000+ users around the world tap into the massive data store. And MariaDB? Good luck finding anything related to Big Data there.

4. MySQL Enterprise

MySQL Enterprise was introduced before the Oracle purchase, but Oracle has significantly improved the product. Version 5.6 added High Availability features like Replication, Oracle VM Templates for MySQL, DRBD, Oracle Solaris Clustering, and Windows Failover Clustering for MySQL. It also introduced Enterprise Audit to perform policy-based auditing compliance on new and existing applications.

There’s also the Enterprise Monitor, which continuously monitors your database and advises you of best practices to implement. It also offers Query Analyzer to monitor application performance and Workbench, which offers data modeling, SQL development, and comprehensive administration tools for server configuration and user administration.

5. There are more MySQL projects than before.

Before the acquisition, MySQL AB had 400 employees in 25 countries, with 70% working from home offices. That’s a remarkable bit of juggling, but there are arguments to be had for working together. But as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer noted when she put an end to the extensive remote workforce at Yahoo, to get things done, you need to collaborate. That means being in the same building.

A MySQL Architect at Oracle said in his blog that Oracle has new, whole teams working together, some in its giant towers in Redwood Shores, California and other based elsewhere, working on special projects for MySQL. A whole group is working on the clustering software. There is another group working on manageability, a whole optimization team working on database algorithms, another team working on replication (vital for cloud and Big Data), and a whole team making it more scalable.

None of the anti-MySQL arguments are against the product’s performance. Most of Monty’s arguments stem from open source purity, and he has the right to make that complaint. But MySQL was a $75 million company when Sun bought it. Oracle is a $37 billion company. It knows a few things about professional software development and it’s going to do things its own way. It has turned over the basic MySQL code to the GPL, but its own extensions, like Enterprise Edition, are not obliged to be open source.

Monty more or less held up the Sun acquisition for months with his protests to the European Commission. Now he’s throwing stones from the outside. There comes a point when an advocate can become a nuisance and his actions can backfire.

Ref: Blog SmartBear

CyberSecurity Tips for Small Businesses

Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

Broadband and information technology are powerful factors in small businesses reaching new markets and increasing productivity and efficiency. However, businesses need a cybersecurity strategy to protect their own business, their customers, and their data from growing cybersecurity threats. Here are ten key cybersecurity tips for businesses to protect themselves:

1. Train employees in security principles
Establish basic security practices and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords, and establish appropriate Internet use guidelines that detail penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.

2. Protect information, computers and networks from cyber attacks
Keep clean machines: having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available.

3. Provide firewall security for your Internet connection
A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system’s firewall is enabled or install free firewall software available online. If employees work from home, ensure that their home system(s) are protected by a firewall.

4. Create a mobile device action plan
Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.

5. Make backup copies of important business data and information
Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.

6. Control physical access to your computers and create user accounts for each employee
Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.

7. Secure your Wi-Fi networks
If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Password protect access to the router.

8. Employ best practices on payment cards
Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and don’t use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.

9. Limit employee access to data and information, limit authority to install software
Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs, and should not be able to install any software without permission.

10. Passwords and authentication
Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication that requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multi-factor authentication for your account.

The FCC’s CyberSecurity Hub at www.fcc.gov/cyberforsmallbiz has more information, including links to free and low-cost security tools.

Why did Google choose Java as programming language for Android

Here are a few reasons why Google chose Java for its Android operating system

Google hit a bullseye with smartphone users when it brought out the first version Android operating system. At that time when Nokia and its proprietary Symbian operating system, ruled the roost in smartphone market, Google brought out the first version of Android in 2007. Today Android smartphones rule the world with over 85 percent of the smartphones in the world running on various versions of Android operating system.

Android’s source code is released by Google under open source licenses, although most Android devices ultimately ship with a combination of open source and proprietary software, including proprietary software required for accessing Google services.

Android

Android is based on the Linux kernel and designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Android’s user interface is mainly based on direct manipulation, using touch gestures that loosely correspond to real-world actions, such as swiping, tapping and pinching, to manipulate on-screen objects, along with a virtual keyboard for text input.

The Android Apps and games, which are so popular among smartphone users are compiled by developers using the Android software development kit (SDK). This Android SDK is compiled using Java programming language. So, why Java?

So why did Google choose Java over other programming languages

The basic advantages of having Java programming language for Android SDKs is given below :

  1. Java is a known language, developers know it and don’t have to learn it. Java has yet again emerged as the world’s most popular programming language. Also there are lots of engineers who specialise in Java making it easier for them to compile Apps and Games.
  2. It’s harder to shoot yourself with Java than with C/C++ code since it has no pointer arithmetic.
  3. It runs in a VM, so no need to recompile it for every phone out there and Java is easy to secure. This is Java’s very important feature. Running on a VM (thus no recompiling) is a huge plus. Also, it easily separates processes from each other, preventing a rogue application from destroying your phone or interfering with other applications. Every App has assigned its own address. All addresses are translated by MMU. This provides base level security to the App and the Android ecosystem by preventing leakages.
  4. As said in point number 1 above, since Java is the most popular programming language, a large number of development tools are available for developers. Java has huge open source support, with many libraries and tools are available to make developers life easier.
  5. Several mobile phones already used Java ME, so Java was known in the mobile industry and the engineers.
  6. The speed difference is not an issue for most applications; if it was you should code in low-level language
  7. Also Android as a operating system runs on many different hardware platforms including smart TVs, Android wear etc. Given that almost all VMs JIT compile down to native code, raw code speed is often comparable with native speed. A lot of delays attributed to higher-level languages are less to do with the VM overhead than other factors (a complex object runtime, ‘safety’ checking memory access by doing bounds checking, etc).
  8. Java allows developers to create sandbox applications, and create a better security model so that one bad App can’t take down your entire OS.

In addition to above points, at the time of development of first version of Android, the available languages like Go and Rust werent exactly popular and quite niche programming languages, so prioritising native languages would’ve meant the Android development team going with C or C++.

Go was used in the earlier versions of Android and found to have its limitations. Rust was smaller still, so betting Android’s whole OS’s development ecosystem on such a niche language would’ve been a bad idea.

Even the most diehard of programmers and coders will agree that C and C++ are notoriously difficult to work with, and even very senior engineers make dangerous mistakes very often. This is the reason, Microsoft chose to develop its on .NET architecture, however developing a separate language for Android would not have been feasible for Google at that time.

Also during the time the first Android version was being worked on, the JVM/CLR languages (i.e. the Java family and the C#/.NET family) were under ownership of Sun and Microsoft respectively. So it would not have been feasible for Google to use its ‘enemies’ programming language. Only after Oracle bought out Java and Google reached an understanding with Oracle that all proprietary issues were resolved.

Java is an absolutely massive ecosystem, and you have an embarrassing wealth of both libraries and tooling available for it, which mitigates how mediocre the language itself is. Where Apple had home field advantage by using Objective C in iOS (with Obj-C being the primary language for OS X development), Google’s choice of Java meant not having to build that ecosystem from scratch.

As seen above, Java was simply the best choice available at the time. Google has never officially commented on why it is using Java for Android SDKs but the above reasons are enough for Google and the Android team to back Java all the way.

Ref: Techworm