For many businesses, the blockchain technology is something that has to do with cryptocurrency. Sure, it’s something backed by the likes of Bitcoin and other IPO-backed cryptocurrencies but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Blockchain is considered one of the most remarkable technologies in modern times with a potential to revolutionize digital security.

Its capacity to securely combine complex data streams and its general mobile-friendly traits make blockchain ideal for a wide array of mobile apps.

That said, here are three ways how blockchain is positively impacting mobile app development.

Digital ledger system with blockchain

This particular facet of blockchain makes it easier for one to understand the technology better. Blockchain is essentially a digital ledger on a vast, expansive computer network. The machines in the network drive the ledger by collaboratively sending and parsing data. Even the smallest changes are transmitted to the machines on the network holding the same ledger.

Such an approach can be beneficial to mobile technology considering the fact the mobile networks also use a client and server side system. With millions of users flooding various mobile channels to get data wirelessly, it won’t be wrong to assume that there would be loss of data in some form. Blockchain can do something about such data loss with its systematic approach to accommodating changes.

Enhanced security

There is great transparency associated with blockchain technology i.e. users can track information much easier with blockchain. The overall setup makes it impossible to falsify information or generate fake transactions. The system cannot be tampered with in order to benefit one party alone in a transaction.

Users would be able to see everything involved in a process recorded in the ledger. In addition, they can track, verify, secure, and add information. The blockchain’s expansive capabilities and its transparency can enhance mobile security to a great extent.

Encryption capabilities

Blockchain encryptions are arguably more sophisticated than the technology itself. It’s so complex that no one can break or fool the system without a decryption key. This aspect can be particularly useful in a scenario where there are multiple users requesting the system for verification and access.

For example, consider a mobile app designed to handle contracts for the legal or financial sectors. It’s common for contracts or other documents to require multiple signatures. With blockchain technology, these signatures can be added and accessed all at once by multiple users individually without having to communicate with each other. The only verification necessary would be to analyze the blockchain and verify the adjustments made.

Conclusion

The technology is expected to propagate further by itself in the mobile app development industry once it matures and mobile technologies evolve. Its ease of use and minimal resource utilization makes blockchain too good an offer to ignore. At present, enterprises seem to be observing blockchain’s influence on cryptocurrency. But considering its growth, we can expect blockchain to truly make a difference in various other industries as well.

If you want to explore blockchain’s application in mobile apps and the potential of this combination, get in touch with the experts at AOT today.

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AOT Technologies, Victoria BC, Canada (AOT) and Trenser Technology Solutions (P) Ltd., Trivandrum, India (Trenser) have signed a strategic partnership on 27th September 2017. This five-year agreement combines the strengths of both companies and is aimed to bring out a “one-stop solution” for software development needs of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada. This partnership offers best value to customers in Canada by providing custom business application development and product engineering capabilities together, with the help of talented engineers onsite in Canada and offshore in India.

“We have been operating in Canada for the past six years and we understand the technology needs and challenges of small and medium-sized businesses here. While we have our strengths in custom-built Enterprise Applications, this partnership adds Embedded and Software product engineering capabilities, making a more complete offering. We strongly believe this will benefit our customers in Canada”, Praveen Ramachandran, Director – Consulting Services at AOT said about this new partnership.

“We share a common vision to address the engineering needs of customers in small and medium-sized business segment. Combining our complementary skills enable us to offer services across application layers which is key to success in this era of IT and OT convergence. With Automation, IoT and, Deep Learning becomes mainstream, we are very excited about the opportunities in front of us.” said Anil Chandran, CTO of Trenser in his statement.

About AOT
AOT is an Enterprise Software services company helping organizations to rapidly scale up their software development capabilities by providing high quality distributed teams that work seamlessly with their own engineering team, to create exceptional products. AOT work with clients from vision, to deployment, operation and maintenance phases of product lifecycle.
AOT is strategically positioned as a software services company for small-to-medium size enterprises, Government Agencies as well as the vibrant startup community in Canada. AOT, a British Columbia incorporated company has its operations in British Columbia in Canada, Orlando in USA and Technopark, Trivandrum in India.

About Trenser
Trenser is a product engineering specialist company providing software development services to fulfil the technology needs of companies in the small and medium-size businesses segment. Trenser specializes in developing software products that require IoT, Device Analytics, Deep Learning, High Performance Computing and Cloud technologies. Company has its business focus in Healthcare, Industrial and Retail domains.
Operating from Technopark, Trivandrum, India, Trenser is a registered private limited company under Government of India. Company provides offshore engineering services for customers in North America and Europe.

Contacts
Trenser contact info: trenser@trenser.com
AOT contact info: info@aot-technologies.com


A company designed to be scalable to grow without geographical constraints.

This is what a startup is in a nutshell, and this is why it’s fundamentally different from small businesses. Back in the days, a business owner had to set up a team, formulate a development plan, develop applications, and then implement them. Now, it’s all about failing more and failing fast, Agile, and swift iterations.

This ‘haste’ that startups are capable of, can be attributed to the remarkable technologies they use. This practice transforms their business, and significantly influences others. So essentially, the technologies they use play a key role in the success of a startup.

Let’s take a look at a few technologies that startups can benefit from.

Progressive web apps (PWA)

Apps that incorporate the best from web and mobile worlds, PWA is essentially a website that functions similar to an application in terms of performance, design, and user experience.

According to Statista, the number of app downloads will cross 350 billion by 2021.

Smartphone users spend more time on mobile apps than on mobile websites. However, app installation is a multi-step process, where the user begins by finding the right app, downloading it, accepting user agreements, giving the app permissions etc. before actually using the app. Many studies show that about 20% of users decide not to use the app at each step of installation.

Meanwhile, a PWA doesn’t have to be installed. They are reliable, secure, immersive, and responsive. All of its benefits make it a great tool for startups. A testament to this is Housing’s (India’s top real estate startup) decision to create a PWA which ended up increasing their conversions by almost 40%.

Node.js

Built on top of Chrome’s JavaScript Runtime engine, V8, Node is a lightweight, event-driven platform ideal for applications across distributed services. Node.js makes it easier for developers to add immersive features and other impressive stuff in an application that happens in real time, ensuring a wonderful user experience.

One of the worst kind of challenges an application developer may face involves real time data processing and display. AJAX requests can be considered a solution albeit an expensive one that drains server power. With Node, they can come up with an efficient cross-browser solution that can do the job.

Other great advantages of using Node.js for startups include:

  • Improved performance for I/O bound apps
  • Main Node.js framework will have the same language on front and backend
  • Supports Microservices architecture
  • Effortless deployment leading to faster time to market
  • Readiness for scalability

Its many benefits encouraged not just startups but also big players like Uber and Paypal to adopt Node.js.

Paypal’s stats show that Node.js helped reduce response time by at least 50% while doubling the number of requests with negligibly low calamities.

Cloud

The single, most important technology today, Cloud is one of the main reasons why tech companies grow faster than ever. Many big companies like Instagram, Pinterest, Dropbox etc. leveraged the cloud to reach out to millions of users and grow seamlessly.

For startups, cloud computing options generally tend to be either AWS or Azure. AWS, according to Gartner research, reigns over the cloud space with the right tools and better execution that can benefit startups, SMBs and large businesses alike. The same research states that Azure and Google Cloud follow AWS.

In short, AWS offers multiple functionalities, is more mature, and offers enterprise-friendly features. It generated over $12 billion in revenue last year.

Microsoft’s Azure holds the second market position in the Cloud IaaS sector, and is the ideal choice for hybrid approach which is preferable for startups. Though Microsoft’s only recently moved to IaaS, Morgan Stanley’s survey of 100 CIOs predicted that Azure would lead as the largest IaaS vendor by 2019.

Many startups adopted Azure last year, which seems to have influenced Microsoft’s market share growth as a cloud-service provider.

According to Q4 2017 Earnings Report, Microsoft’s revenue from Azure grew at more than 97% compared to Q4 2016.

However, Azure still holds only 10% of the market. Microsoft’s openness to open source platforms like the Linux operating system has contributed heavily to this growth. Considering the fact that startups prefer open source technologies to grow their business, Azure seems to be a more practical option for them.

Microservices

Best defined as a style of software architecture that allows you to build components as self-confined, small (‘micro’) services, before stacking them to deliver functionalities comparable to a customary monolithic application.

A few years back, startups had to rely on monolith architecture when they started. But today, considering the advancements in cloud infrastructure services and the accessibility to a matured and advanced support of distributed applications, startups can adopt microservices from the get go.

Lightbend’s survey of 2151 respondents working on Java Virtual Machine (JVM) last year found that about 30% of the respondents already run microservices in production, and another 20% of the respondents are considering the trend for production deployment.

Scalability and agility are vital for disruptive startups. And this is the reason why microservices are rising in popularity these days. The rise of Netflix and Uber and their adoption of microservice architecture to adapt to their growth emphasizes the significance of microservices as an emerging trend.

API Gateway

API Gateways are particularly useful for startups running microservices. API gateway can orchestrate how the microservice architecture processes requests, and considerably simplifies Client implementations.

Startups with microservices-oriented architecture generally use API gateways to abstract complexities while creating end-points that can be used by the Client. The gateway is also responsible for but not limited to load balancing, security, batching, authorization, authentication, caching, logging, and monitoring.

Zion Market Research’s research on API Management Market showed that the global market accounted for close to USD 610 million in 2016.

If anything, this indicates that API gateway and other API solutions are becoming more important for businesses, including startups.

Conclusion

Though there are still many more technologies worth mentioning, we hand-picked the most popular ones from our list. We have seen how each aforementioned technology can benefit startups. Considering that, it’s safe to assume that emerging technologies may give even more and much better opportunities for startups to grow in innovative ways.

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Startups focusing on emerging markets need solutions that can be progressively enhanced to provide better performance while significantly improving accessibility, user retention, and user experience. Until recently, businesses relied on native apps. But with the advent of progressive web apps, businesses now get the same rich capabilities with added benefits.

PWA was first observed as a sign that indicated a slow, steady shift from ‘mobile-friendly’ to ‘mobile-first’, and now also plays a key role in mobile marketing.

2016 Salesforce statistics show that 68% of companies integrated mobile marketing into their overall marketing strategy.

It evidently made a dramatic positive impact for businesses that adopted it.

With PWA, TwitterLite loads in under 3 seconds for repeat visits, and also had a 65% increase in pages per session, and a 20% decrease in bounce rate.

Forbes’ PWA loads in 2.5 seconds on mobile, with Impressions per visit going up by 10%.

All this reiterates the fact that mobile optimization is no longer secondary, and something businesses ‘should’ do. It’s a ‘must’ do now.

From mobile apps to PWA

Statista estimates that the number of app downloads will cross 350 billion by 2021.

Smartphone users spend more time on apps rather than websites. However, installing an app requires users to go through many steps – finding the top app with similar features, downloading it, accepting agreements, giving permissions etc. About 20% of the users drop the idea of using the app at each step of the installation, according to many studies.

This could explain business’ aggressive shift to PWA.

Progressive web apps need not be installed, but incorporates the best from both the mobile and web worlds.

Why it’s important for startups

According to Forbes, over 70% of world economic growth over the next few years will be from emerging markets.

As mobile design and mobile builds drive emerging markets, this also provides PWAs with a decent window to drive business growth in such markets.

Another point to consider is that not all internet users in emerging markets have access to fast networks. Many are remanded to slower ones even though mobile cellular networks are growing. PWAs score here as well, as they are connectivity independent i.e. they are designed to work with bad networks.

In many regions, cellular data costs a lot forcing mobile users to rely on apps that do not consume a lot of data. Even though this cost is steadily dropping due to technological advancements, the market is still ripe for PWAs to make an impact among such users.

Even with various other issues like device fragmentation and how it makes things complicated for app developers, there is still a huge opportunity for growth, especially for startups, in emerging markets. There are people who still haven’t come online. When they get the device and network capabilities, they would go online expecting apps that are properly configured to work with their network conditions.

From a business perspective, these facts shed light on the many ways startups can leverage PWAs to build and grow their business in emerging markets. From a technical standpoint, progressive web apps offer many benefits that help boost business growth while providing customers with an immersive user experience.

It’s progressive – A product owner or a CEO or CTO would prefer to have all their customers served. Because PWAs are progressive, they indeed cater to every user on any browser, and at relatively low cost and maintenance unlike a mobile application.

It’s responsive – Fits any form factor.

It’s safe & secure –PWAs are served over HTTPS, ensuring customers that the information they provide and their transactions using the app would be secure.

It’s discoverable – Despite being different from an application and a website, PWAs can still be search engine optimized, and are easily discoverable by search engines as an application.

It can be added to the home screen – PWAs are easily accessible as they can be installed on the user’s home screen.

High conversion & retention – Though a lot of data aren’t available on PWAs unlike other emerging technologies, statistics still indicate that they can increase conversion and user retention rates.

Flipkart, an Indian eCommerce giant, saw a 70% increase in their conversion and retention rates after releasing their progressive web app.

Downsides?

  • PWAs are not exactly applications, which means they can’t be found over app stores. For startups, this takes away, to an extent, some of their potential traffic.
  • PWAs, as of now, are not capable of providing re-engagement for iOS users due to platform limitations, but this would most likely be addressed in no time.
  • It also doesn’t support all device hardware components yet like GPS, camera, fingerprint scanners etc.

Conclusion

At present, only the newer versions of Chrome, Opera, and Samsung’s Android browser support progressive web apps. Other popular browsers including Safari and Edge might get updates to support PWAs in the foreseeable future considering the present growth of PWAs as an emerging technology.

How AOT Technologies can help 

AOT Technologies is a Canadian software development company who can can design, develop and maintain progressive web apps for your start up in Victoria and Vancouver regions.  We will be excited to hear about your project. You can contact us to chat about your project and see if progressive apps is the right fit for your project.

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The Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (PIPEDA) is the single law that covers privacy and data security in Canada. PIPEDA covers any and all commercial organizations in Canada. However, Alberta and British Columbia adopted their own private sector laws, known as Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).

For PIPA in British Columbia, businesses can be fined up to $100,000. If the Privacy Commissioner has issued an order against a company, individuals can sue that company for damages.

Here are 10 things BC startups should know about PIPA.

  1. The control of personal information should be expressly addressed in the contract

 This applies especially when startups work under contract for a public body. They should be clear whether the client (here, the public body) has control of personal information generated or provided under the contract. The state of control should be specifically laid out in the contract.

  1. PIPA overrides other Acts of BC

 If any other Act or Regulation of British Columbia comes in conflict with a section of PIPA, the section in PIPA overrides that Act unless the ‘Act’ states that PIPA does not apply.

  1. Using personal information without consent from or on behalf of another organization

PIPA allows your businesses to use personal information from or on behalf of another organizationwithout consent, so as to carry out work for that organization. However, the concerned individual should have already consented to the use of his/her personal information. The use of information should be consistent with the purpose for which it was collected in the first place [Section 15(2)].

  1. Disclosing and receiving information for business transaction purposes

 According to PIPA Section 20(7), the business must obtain consent if the personal information is an asset that is subject to business transaction. There are many conditions involved. But the best practice suggests that in order to disclose or receive personal information for business transaction purposes, it should be in accordance with a written agreement that includes every rule associated with the section.

  1. Access to information

 PIPA gives individuals the right to know what a business does with their personal information, how the information is being used, and to whom and when the information was disclosed despite getting consent. However, there are circumstances that allows businesses to refuse access to personal information.

If the individual is not satisfied with what the business disclosed, he/she can approach the OIPC to review the business’ response. PIPA also allows the organization to charge individuals a minimal fee for giving access to their personal information (Section 32(2)). However, an organization cannot charge employees for access to their employee personal information.

  1. Safeguarding personal information

 PIPA recommends organizations to use physical, administrative, and technical safeguards to secure and protect personal information from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, collection, copying, modification or disposal (section 34).

Businesses can implement appropriate safeguards depending on the sensitivity of the personal information, the likelihood of a breach in privacy, the potential damage in case of a breach, the security cost etc.

  1. The Commissioner has the power to initiate audits

 The Commissioner can review the actions and decisions of organizations under PIPA if necessary, and also has the power to initiate audits and investigations if there are reasons to believe that an organization doesn’t comply with PIPA (section 36(1) (a)). The OIPC can also keep the name of the person who reported a possible contravention confidential.

  1. Canceling or changing consent

 PIPA allows individuals who provided an organization with their personal information to either cancel or change his/her consent by giving reasonable notice to the organization. In addition, this decision should not break a legal duty or promise between the organization and the individual.

The organization is also responsible for letting the individual know of the consequences of withdrawing or changing consent.

  1. Conditions on consent

 PIPA allows individuals to put terms and conditions on his/her consent as long as they are reasonable. The individual may choose to allow the organization to use his/her personal information for marketing purposes or not allow them to use the information to supply a specific product or service.

  1. Using personal information without consent

Under specific circumstances, PIPA allows an organization to use personal information provided to them by an individual without consent (section 15). The circumstances are listed and explained in PIPA guidance documents.

PIPA also allows the following usage of information without consent.

  1. A credit reporting agency can collect personal information without consent but only to create a credit report and for no other purpose.
  2. An organization can use personal information during emergencies that threatens the life, health, or security of an individual or the public (section 15(1)).

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