Tag Archives: Apps

Original image by Dean Terry

Improving the Social Network Analysis Methodology

We have been collecting data for just shy of a year now and have been developing the Twitter social network analysis methodology for a little longer than that. As you might recall, we have been following the Mobile Health conversation via the #mHealth conversation and have finalised the collection of those data. The processing is almost finished and we can now progress to the next stage of ethnography to further understand what we have collected.

We have been improving the methodology as we go and the last time we received some assistance was to write some code for the Gephi program. Recently, we have been talking with colleagues from the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure faculty, who have been developing the collection process of Twitter data. Their project is related to flooding information in Indonesia (CogniCity), however Tom Holderness has been kind enough to share his work on GitHub.

When we install this JavaScript, which uses NodeJS, we will have an automated version of the manual process we have been struggling with for the past year. Further, the code is customisable so the researcher can  query the Twitter Stream API for the specific data they require. You can read more about the CogniCity NodeJS application on GitHub.

If we can improve the processing speed further, we will have a research prototype that can be shared with other researchers who are interested in Twitter social network analysis – hopefully a post soonish will reveal this!

This week in apps – App Store turns 5

Original image available at http://upstart.bizjournals.com/news/technology/2013/07/10/5-facts-about-app-stores-5th-birthday.html

Original image available at http://upstart.bizjournals.com/news/technology/2013/07/10/5-facts-about-app-stores-5th-birthday.html

It has been a few weeks since we took a broad look at the app industry and made some sort of summary of it, but you may have noticed we have been busy with the social network analysis of the mobile health industry. That is not to mention the two conferences the entire research team have attended in Dublin (the International Association of Media and Communication Research IAMCR) and Perth (Australian and New Zealand Communication Association ANZCA) where we presented our work to date. We are happy to report our research was well received with many new connections being forged across the two week period. But! Back to app news…

The big news this week is the Apple App Store has turned five and to mark the event they have released a suite of apps for free. Given the enormous success of the platform and app generation, it is useful to historicise on the apps that made the store such a success. It is also worth mentioning that iOS7 has emerged amongst the development world, where some of the key developments include an improved Siri, more transparent Command Centre, transparent folders and the introduction of photo filters (interesting yet in no way a threat to Instagram).

As is always the case, privacy issues are rampant in the mobile communication world, especially given the recent hysteria surrounding the whistleblowing activities of former CIA IT consultant Edward Snowden. In the mobile world, we have seen Microsoft begin to pull apps from their platform that are deemed vulnerable. There is also some thinking emerging amongst practitioners, who are beginning to question, are social apps just a little too creepy in how they share your personal information? We are again reminded that free apps are the gateway to your personal privacy of information, where some are suggestions free apps are essentially a modern equivalent of spyware. However, as Kate Raynes-Goldie suggests, it is radical transparency.

If we switch our perspective to the economics of the app environment, there has been some fascinating research released into the app economy in Vietnam, proving an enormous long tail in the concept, development and marketplace relationship. One amazingly interesting website I stumbled across this week is created by b_willer as part of the Visual.ly suite of infographics. I highly recommend this fascinating interaction with some of the most prominent startups of the last ten years.

Once again, chat apps have dominated our communication habits, where the most recent figures indicate that WhatsApp has an active membership of 250 million users. That’s enormous compared with Twitter’s 200 million users. This Wall Street Journal article highlights some of the new movers in the chat app arena. Keeping with shifting cultural habits, interesting to note that apps are having an impact on youth who are rediscovering radio. TuneIn is a type of radio aggregator with more than 40 million users consuming more than 1 billion hours of radio!

Given the recent push for the FDA to finalise its recommendations on the regulation of health apps, it is interesting to read the other side of the debate, namely those attempting to monetize the experience. In the health apps world more broadly, there is a industry push for doctors to begin designing apps, governments to take a proactive approach towards designing health apps, and a reminder of which types of health apps to avoid. Given the advice on which types of apps to avoid, it is interesting to note the recent award won by the training app, Mobile Medic which is effectively using those ‘do nots’ in a positive and educational sense. For a quick wrap on the week in mobile health, check out his blog.

This week, we also turn our attention towards the increase of apps within cars. The emerging signs we are beginning to follow come from the BMW ConnectedDrive initiative, who have just released a new swag of apps for their prototype. And, if you have been following the taxi app sagas from around the world, you’ll be interested to read the taxi app saga has now spread to China.

Lastly, we leave this week with a look at two potentially useful apps yet a little strange in their approach. In keeping up with the wearables fashion, diapers are now notifying parents when they are full, while Japan has released new election apps for its upcoming election, encouraging users to engage in the gamification of the election process.

This week in apps – a summary of the mobile phone application ecology

Original image by Sean Macentee published under Creative Commons

Each week, the mobile application ecosystem presents new and exciting possibilities to entertain, share information and communicate. From apps that wake you, waste time, develop your communication or promote your productivity, we are witnessing an ever-increasing marketplace of apps that are published across several platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows etc). Alongside these possibilities of new media technologies are the emergent concerns of how to adequately manage and regulate the potential challenges of mobile applications. This is one area the Moving Media research project is exploring, presented through a weekly series of ‘this week in apps’ – a series that provides a quick snapshot of what has been happening in app development, publishing, privacy and policy. This week in apps will also include the most recent developments in mobile news diversity, mobile health apps (mHealth apps) and locative media.

As user habits shift across mobile media, for example one in four teenagers now access the internet via their mobile phones, a dynamic business environment emerges. Nokia has partnered with the Harvard Business School on an Indian based app incubator to “boost mobile app development on the Nokia Lumia and Windows platforms”. Facebook has bought Parse, to not as first thought develop a Facebook phone, but to boost the development of what will become the centre of Android phones, Facebook Home. Social gaming company King has overtaken Zynga to become the largest global social gaming organisation. In the business world, there are growing demands for enterprise apps as the bring your own device (BYOD) movement gains momentum.

There have been recent developments of apps in news diversity, mHealth and locative media. Four recent news apps continue to challenge the news aggregation market. Increased connectivity of households and their Internet of Things, presents an increase of apps to control IoT devices resulting in increased revenues for niche app developers. It is predicted that mobile health applications will increase by 70% annually, however there are concerns over the slow adoption rate of these technologies. And while some are touting that Apple has revolutionised mHealth, others are focussing on specific advancements in apps to improve disease management.

Chatty apps seem to be the flavour of the month, where for the first time chat apps messaging has overtaken SMS texting, with some potentially shady bug issues.

If you’ve ever wondered how to create your own Android app, here’s a fantastic 101. However, other developers are approaching app building from a holistic perspective by employing RAD Studio XE4 to produce apps for multiple platforms. Heroku (US cloud app platform) has emerged in the open data arena by providing tools and hardware resources for developers. Shifting from developing to publishing, have you ever wondered about the politics of publishing your app through an app store? Here’s a great article on how the politics of app publishing can be improved. And while Samsung has recently blocked access to its app store in Iran, Google have implemented new policy to disable developers bypassing Google’s Play Store when updating apps.

New app development and the code used to access them across various devices also gives rise to privacy concerns. As many users are still unaware of their personal details being shared by applications, the FTC have launched an enquiry that challenges the privacy policy of apps. Likewise, there is significant pressure for the FDA to start regulating mHealth apps.