Welcome to This Week in Modern Software, or TWiMS, our weekly analysis of the most interesting and important news, stories, and events in the world of modern software and analytics.
This week, we focus on mobile’s ever-growing dominance and Windows 10’s continued growth—and, no, they’re not mutually exclusive.
Mobile’s Having Another Moment—But Are U.S. Users Missing Out?
What it’s about: The mobile market keeps achieving new milestones. The latest: As the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics get underway with today’s (August 5) Opening Ceremony, a new survey says that for the first time ever smartphones and tablets will be the screen of choice for live coverage and related content for most viewers. The Phunware survey found that 70% of respondents plan to watch the Games on a mobile device, while just 23% said they will primarily view TV coverage of the events. Mobile is no longer a complementary experience; it’s the experience.
Yet mobile innovation is not evenly distributed. The New York Times reports this week that China gets the gold for its mobile technology—with the United States a runner-up at best. In fact, as Paul Mozur writes, many of the “innovations” coming out of Silicon Valley—including live-streaming video on services like Facebook and Twitter—are simply following the lead of Chinese firms like YY.com, WeChat, and others.
Why it matters: If consumers are mobile first—not just for the Olympics but for almost everything—then developers must be, too. Treating mobile as an afterthought—or even as a complementary experience—simply won’t hack it anymore in consumer or business contexts. It’s also clear that U.S.-based software developers and companies can learn a thing or three from their counterparts in China. And here’s why: In China, a phone is often not just a “first” screen, it’s the only screen. As Mozur writes, “Many Chinese also never bought a personal computer, meaning smartphones are the primary—and often first—computing device for the more than 600 million who have them in China.” That reality has driven Chinese companies and their customers far ahead of other countries in areas like messaging, mobile commerce, and mobile payments.
- Mobile Expected to Be the First Screen for Rio 2016 Summer Olympics—VentureBeat
- China, Not Silicon Valley, Is Cutting Edge in Mobile Tech—The New York Times
- 15 Low-Code Tools for Building Mobile Apps Fast—InfoWorld
Windows Continues to Grow and Evolve
What it’s about: Microsoft has begun rolling out its much-anticipated “anniversary update” for Windows 10, coinciding with the OS’ first birthday. While not everyone is happy—which tends to be true in any major release or update—the reception is generally positive, as it has been for Windows 10 overall, with reviewers touting new uses for Cortana, new app integrations for Windows Hello’s biometric authentication, and better multi-desktop management. Developers get a corresponding Windows 10 Anniversary Update SDK, with 2,700 updates to the Windows Universal Platform. And command-line devotees get the previously announced bash shell on Windows, downloadable directly from the Windows Store.
Why it matters: Declining PC sales may have dulled its sheen, but Windows remains the dominant OS on desktops and laptops—and a slew of other devices. Windows 10 recently passed 20% market share among desktop OSes. That still lags behind Windows 7, which isn’t surprising as large enterprises are often slow to sort out their migration plans. In other words: Windows remains an important platform for developers, especially those focused on enterprise apps. Windows 10 is also increasingly integrated with other platforms—the anniversary update, for example, enables multi-platform support for Cortana, including on Android devices. For instance, you can now mirror Android notifications on a Windows 10 machine. Give credit where credit is due: Windows is not just your parents’ desktop OS.
- Microsoft’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update Begins Rolling Out—ZDNet
- All the Coolest Features of Windows 10’s Anniversary Update—Lifehacker
- Windows 10 Anniversary Update SDK Is Here With More Than 2700 Enhancements—TWCN
- Windows 10 Anniversary Update: New Features for the Enterprise—MSPoweruser.com
- Windows 10’s Anniversary Update Makes a Great OS Better—Engadget
- Windows 10 Update: The Good, The Bad, and The ‘Meh’—Computerworld
What it’s about: VisionMobile released its quarterly “State of the Developer Nation” report. As usual, it’s chock-full of fascinating and insightful data and insights on modern software, including plenty of stuff developers and other software pros should be paying attention to.
Why it matters: Here are some of the major highlights:
- As mobile continues its march into first-screen status, Android appears to be winning the platform wars. According to the report, nearly half (47%) of professional devs consider Android their primary platform, a 7% increase during the previous six months. Meanwhile, the number of devs who consider iOS their primary platform has declined 8%, and Android now has 79% “mindshare” among mobile developers.
- Microsoft is (finally) attracting a greater number of Windows developers to more modern technologies such as C# and .NET, with some 36% of devs now saying they prefer C# on the server (versus 13% that still prefer C/C++).
- Almost one in four respondents say they’re working on a virtual reality or augmented reality project, but most remain side projects or hobbies.
What it’s about: In spite of the popularity among developers of newer languages like Swift and Scala, a new study says that businesses posting “Help Wanted” signs outside their software shops still prioritize skills in foundational languages like Java and C. Yet InfoWorld’s Paul Krill notes that Python, one of the trendiest languages of all, “bucks the trend altogether.”
Why it matters: Smart developers should always be learning: new languages, new tools, and so on. But the stalwarts are stalwarts for a reason. Java and C certainly fit the bill, and Python may be moving from trendy to must-have, especially in FinTech and related fields: “Python could be the common ground between business and developer,” Krill writes.
The Uber Engineering Tech Stack (Part I: The Foundation)—Uber
What it’s about: Uber’s giving a guided tour of its engineering stack, a two-part series posted on the Uber Engineering site that offers a detailed, bottom-up breakdown of how it keeps the wildly popular app up and running.
Why it matters: It’s no small task. As Lucie Lozinksi writes, while the app itself may appear super-simple, the complex tech behind it is compounded by the fact that Uber very much operates in the real, physical world. A good read for devs, ops, and anyone who wants a technical breakdown of what one of Silicon Valley’s favorite words—“scale”—really means to an actual engineering team responsible for an app used by millions of people.
What it’s about: Game of Thrones can satisfy your bloodlust and teach you something about online security, according to CSO’s Vincenzo Marsden, who shares “seven lessons for security managers pulled straight out of Westeros.”
Why it matters: Sure, it’s a gimmick, but there’s plenty of good advice here. For instance, don’t forget that the stoutest perimeter defenses—such as The Wall—don’t matter much if an attacker knows the magic words. That’s your password, Crow, and in the real-world, wildlings and White Walkers can’t compare to the threats from criminal hackers and state-sponsored espionage.
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Tune In to the Future
Can’t get enough modern software news and commentary? Be sure to check out our Modern Software Podcast. New Relic Editor-in-Chief Fredric Paul and guests discuss the most important things happening in the world of software analytics, cloud computing, application monitoring, development methodologies, programming languages, and more. Listen to episode 13 or subscribe on iTunes.