Don’t let “edition” in the title mislead you into believing I’ve had a lot of fun trip to Bangalore before. But I’m hoping I will going forward.
Nishith and I went on an official trip to attend Microsoft’s March 16-17 Tech Summit event. I have nothing much to say about the event other than it was mostly Microsoft’s product advertisement carnival, and that the only high point was the session on cross-platform mobile app development using Xamarin. Having created both native (Android and iOS) and hybrid (Ionic and Sencha Touch) mobile apps, I was instantly sold on the idea of using C# to create 100% native apps. IMHO, hybrid apps suck! They suck much less with Ionic 2, but I have found the overall UX to be still behind what native apps offer. I have made a pledge to develop my next mobile app POC using Xamarin.
Since there is not much else to talk about the summit, I’ll share a few memories of my trip.
Before leaving, we celebrated Shivam’s birthday with a cake and team lunch.
We had dinner at a very happening place Koramangala Social on 7th Street in Koramangala. These jalapeño cheese croquettes were so delicious we ordered them twice.
On day 2, our lunch was Andhra meal. We had this amazing Andhra thali at Bheema’s on Church Street. It was my first Andhra food experience.
On our return flight, we hung out at the Priority Pass lounge in Bangalore airport. It was my first lounge experience. Freebies are always good 🙂
P.S.: I have nothing against Ionic/Angular. I have always absolutely loved the development experience that they offer, it’s just the end result that is most of the times not to my liking. I’d blame the WebView more than the SDK!
Everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Recent times have seen a big surge in AI research and huge investments in that direction by corporates and academia. Major IT and consulting players have even declared AI as an emerging trend, and have started offering AI-based services to their clients.
Working at Accenture Labs, it’s a privilege to play with the latest and the greatest trends. All cutting edge work at Accenture begins at Labs. My team was tasked with creating a Skype for Business bot: a virtual agent – just like a Facebook chat bot – to intelligently understand and respond to user’s queries, in a way a human does. As some people would guess, this required some sort of natural language processing (NLP) capabilities to be added to the bot.
With the recent explosion of cognitive offerings from the “biggies”, we didn’t have to start from scratch in order to implement such a profound functionality. We relied on Microsoft’s LUIS for our bot’s language understanding capability. Although working with LUIS was fun, the curious keeda (bug) in me had me looking for alternatives. I soon found out that the concept of intents and entities was common across NLU frameworks. Google’s API.ai and Facebook’s Wit.ai both work on similar models, except they have a slight edge over LUIS in their ability to keep track of context.
It’s been a great learning experience so far, and I intend to delve deeper into NLU. And, maybe, explore other AI-based cognitive technologies, such as speech recognition and computer vision (I have dabbled in both in the past).
P.S.: On this topic, check out Mark Zuckerberg’s attempt at building Jarvis, his home automation AI.
You have no doubt heard of Progressive Web Apps by now, PWA for short, haven’t you? No? That’s okay. The thing is still pretty new.
Although the concept is not entirely unique, recent advances in web standards & technologies have now made it possible to create mobile-first web apps that work equally well on desktops web apps that look good & consistent on different devices and that can “progressively” use additional underlying features in a device. Still don’t get what’s new?
Google presented the concept in its I/O developers’ conference earlier this year. As per Google:
A Progressive Web App uses modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience.
I had been hearing about the hype since a few months but didn’t care much to explore it in detail. Up until Ionic, my favorite mobile app SDK, made their PWA support official.
I think it’s a smart move by Ionic to include PWA support. Until now, Ionic apps were too mobile-ish to be used as web apps. PWA support is an important update to an already great mobile SDK, and I hope this changes many things for the good.
Today, creating a new app essentially means (a) creating a solid backend API (b) creating client apps for various popular platforms (Android, iOS, etc.), and (c) optionally, creating a complementary web app for the desktop. PWA could be a game changer as it takes care of both (b) and (c) in a single development cycle.
While browsing the Google developer website, I stumbled across a very interesting case study for PWA.
Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce site, decided to combine their web presence and native app into a Progressive Web Application that has resulted in a 70% increase in conversions.
In 2015, Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce site, adopted an app-only strategy and temporarily shut down their mobile website. The company found it harder and harder to provide a user experience that was as fast and engaging as that of their mobile app. But then, Flipkart decided to rethink their development approach. They were drawn back to the mobile web by the introduction of features that made the mobile web run instantly, work offline, and re-engage users.
Yep, going app-only was a really stupid move by Flipkart. Thank God sense prevailed.
SO is something I visit almost everyday. I know you do that too, so keep that condescending smirk to yourself will ya? I think time has come to start contributing constructively to this vibrant community.
I am taking a pledge today. Actually two:
Visit SO homepage everyday
Answer a question a day
You learn so much just by scanning the “interesting” questions section on the homepage. For example, today I came across something called Web Speech API. I’m going to learn more about it soon.
Finally the time has come. I had been avoiding it for years. I cannot escape it anymore. Finally the time has come to learn and embrace TypeScript.
The opportunistic monkey inside me is making me do this. I am on a deadline, and my common sense begs me not to break out of routine. But I am helpless. It’s the year of the monkey.