Application development

Even Palantir can’t ignore the cult of simplicity

Palantir has a customer base that pays for results, but the company nonetheless attributes puts a lot of effort into user experience. In June, it re-architected its database simplicity in mind; on Thursday, it acquired a startup doing drag-and-drop mobile app development.

How BitDeli thinks it can bring analytics to the people

A startup called BitDeli is trying to democratize analytics by letting developers create custom metrics and dashboards using Python scripts instead of having to try Hadoop. What frameworks like Rails were to web development, Co-founder and CEO Ville Tuulos says, BitDeli is to analytics.

Netflix open sources tool for making cloud services play nice

Netflix has forged a cottage industry building tools to fill gaps in Amazon’s cloud infrastructure or otherwise add value to it. Now the company is open sourcing its Hystrix libraries, which manage interactions between the myriad distributed services that power its applications.

PlayHaven raises $8M to make mobile developers money

PlayHaven, a monetization and customer management platform for mobile game developers, has raised $8 million led by GGV Capital. The company is working to build out its service by adding more customer insights. And it’s looking to expand to Europe and Asia.

Ex-Yahoo, Facebook big data vets do Hadoop for developers

Former Yahoo cloud VP Todd Papaioannou and Facebook engineer Jonathan Gray are trying to big data for programmers with a new platform service called Continuuity. It’s a development environment and runtime layer that sits atop a company’s Hadoop infrastructure and abstracts the complexity of writing apps.

Icenium taps the cloud for cross-platform hybrid app development

Mobile developers are getting a new cloud-based development tool called Icenium that allows them to build cross-platform hybrid apps without having to download a traditional integrated development environment. With Icenium, developers can build for iOS or Android from any computer.

So you’ve created an app; now why hasn’t anyone discovered it?

Most developers underestimate how hard it is to be successful in Apple’s App Store. And even if Apple improves things, it’s not going to be enough. Ouriel Ohayon, cofounder of Appsfire, looks at why this problem is so hard to solve.

Mark Cuban leads $1M investment in app seller Apptopia

Three months after launching, Apptopia, which allows developers to sell their entire app, is doing solid business facilitating a growing number of sales. And that attracted the attention of investors including Mark Cuban, who is putting in half of Apptopia’s $1 million seed round.

Apps get better at retaining users, iOS more than Android

App users are a flaky group, easily discarding apps in favor of the hot new thing. But new data suggests they are developing more loyal toward apps, abandoning them less frequently and visiting their favorite apps more often, according to app analytics firm Localytics.

If you can code, Mortar Data promises Hadoop in an hour

If you have a lot of unstructured data, don’t have (or want) a Hadoop cluster and can write Python jobs, Mortar Data has got the service for you. The New York-based startup is jumping into the fray with possibly the most lightweight Hadoop service yet.

EMC gets it: big data needs apps, too

EMC’s acquisition of Pivotal Labs proves the company really understands the big data market. Namely, that big data won’t go anywhere without great applications, and EMC isn’t the company to help customers figure out how to build theirs.

Why Google needs to fix Android’s image problem

One of Google’s core principles for Android was that app developers couldn’t access personal information unless they asked permission before the user installed the app. Turns out that Android doesn’t extend that protection to some of the most personal data on a phone: photos.

Ex-Yahoo cloud chief gets $2.5M for stealthy data startup

Former Yahoo VP and chief cloud architect Todd Papaioannou is working on a stealth-mode startup called Continuuity, which aims to make it easier for developers to create data-focused cloud applications. The company has raised a $2.5 million seed round from Battery Ventures and Andreessen-Horowitz.

Google gets serious about improving Android apps

Google is getting serious about improving apps on Android, which are sometimes less polished and usable as their counterparts on other platforms. It’s introducing the first Android Design style guide, which is aimed at helping developers learn the principles and best practices for building awesome apps.

IOS, Android app advantage keeps rivals at bay

A Nielsen study found among smartphone users who downloaded an app in the last 30 days, 83 percent used an iPhone or Android devices. That app advantage will help keep those two at the top ahead of other smartphone challengers.

Why Google gets no respect (from developers)

Google may be a giant in Internet search, but it’s still a 98-pound weakling in business-oriented application development tools. That doesn’t stop it from trying to bulk up: This week Google opened up its revamped BigQuery data analysis service to more users.

Is the app economy killing online publishers?

Though the number of iOS and Android apps continues to grow by leaps and bounds, Yaron Galai bets that the trend of developing native apps is a short-term fad. Here’s why he thinks companies should reexamine their app strategy.

Appcelerator opens a market for mobile back-end services

Appcelerator has built up a community of 1.5 million developers that have used its cross-platform development tool to build more than 25,000 apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry. Now it’s looking to turn that community into a selling opportunity by launching a marketplace for software modules.

Xignite gets big money for big data applications

Xignite, which is offering financial data that’s hosted on Amazon’s cloud to its clients, has raised $10 million to become the big data repository for financial market information. The company, which was formed in 2004, is betting on the trends of mobile, cloud and big data.

What’s better: Pricier Google App Engine, or nothing?

Google App Engine is growing up by changing both its service model and its pricing, and many developers who have been using the service under the old model are none too happy about it. Perhaps they should just be happy that App Engine is sticking around.

API market Mashape raises $1.5M seed from mega investors

Mashape, an API marketplace catering to both application developers and providers, has raised a $1.5 million seed round from a who’s who of technology investors, including Index Ventures, Charles River Ventures, Ignition Partners, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors.

Cloud breakup: Why CloudSpokes chose Database.com over Azure

CloudSpokes, an Appirio-led community that hosts contests in which developers compete on projects for cloud companies with the goal of winning a monetary prize, recently re-architected the site from Microsoft Windows Azure to Database.com, and its team couldn’t be happier with the results.

Urban Airship hits 5B notifications as engagement reigns

For mobile developers looking to engage their users, push notifications have become a key tool in drawing users back into apps. Notification provider Urban Airship told me it has hit 5 billion push notifications since it delivered its first message a little over two years ago.

How Parse wants to make mobile backends easy

It’s been a busy summer for the founders of Parse, a new startup making a software platform that adds a cloud component to any mobile app. Part of Y Combinator’s summer 2011 class, Parse has already launched in beta and is quickly gaining steam with developers.

GetJar intros free apps, Android client

UPDATED: GetJar just passed 2 billion downloads and has been pushing its independent app market hard, specifically on the Android front. It has recently started giving out free apps, similar to Amazon’s App of the Day and has also pushed out an Android client.

As mobile games boom, opportunities abound

With mobile games booming beyond iOS, there are a new set of opportunities opening up for a host of enablers like Seattle-based Zipline Games, which is offering a multi-platform SDK for game development as well as a back-end cloud service for mobile games.

As app user acquisition challenges loom, Fiksu offers a fix

Finding new users for apps has grown increasingly complicated with the number of apps exploding and app store owners like Apple cracking down on some download tools like pay-per-install campaigns. That has forced some publishers and developers to look at third-party companies such as Fiksu, a Boston startup, in order to wrangle new users.

Asia booms for mobile app downloads

Mobile developers should consider turning their attention to Asia, which is booming with mobile app downloads, according to a new report from app analytics firm Distimo. The region now boasts the second-largest app market — in China — and has a fast riser in South Korea.

Zwapp builds a social network for app discovery

Appsfire and others have helped tackle the issue of app discovery by bringing new social and sharing tools to bear on the task. Now, Zwapp, a new start-up is trying to go one step further by building essentially a social network around app discovery.

WildTangent plans rental service for Android games

Gaming service WildTangent is opening a rental service later this year that will allow Android users to rent games and apply their fees toward purchases. It could be another tool for developers to unlock dollars from games on the Android platform.

StackMob Grabs $7.5M to Offer Backend Support for Mobile Devs

StackMob, a cloud platform for mobile developers, has raised $7.5 million in a Series A round as it ramps up its offering for mobile developers. The new money, led by Trinity Ventures, will help the company expand and push toward a public launch later this year.

Freemium Apps Boom, but New Hurdles Emerge

Freemium game apps have an outsized influence in the Apple App Store, making up 40 percent of all free game downloads in the App Store in March. But with the recent crackdown by Apple on incentivized installs, freemium app makers are having to adjust.

RightScale, Zend Team on PHP Platform as a Service

RightScale and Zend are now offering a platform-as-a-service offering for developing PHP applications in the cloud. RightScale and Zend are targeting their joint RightScale Zend PHP Solution Pack for enterprise applications that require advanced development tools and high service levels.

Couchbase Revamps NoSQL Lineup for Mac OS X Developers

NoSQL vendor Couchbase is targeting developers using Mac OS X with a new version of its Membase Server and an upgraded Couchbase Server designed specifically for that platform. Mac is hardly the most popular choice among developers, but its popularity appears to be picking up.

Q&A: How to Make TV Apps Work

We can’t wait for a standard for TV apps to evolve, believes Prisa Digital’s Javier Lasa. It’s time to experiment now, give the consumers what they want, and learn from our mistakes. Lasa shares some of the things he learned developing TV apps in this Q&A.

Apple’s App Store Ecosystem Grows With Mac Sales

The latest report covering app store sales from research firm Distimo is out, and it offers revealing insights into the early success to the Mac App Store, and how that most recent extension of Apple’s digital software sales compares to the iPhone, iPad and competitor marketplaces.

One in a Million: 3 New Ways to Get Your App Noticed

Mobile apps, across all platforms, are already approaching the millions. So once you create a great app and figure out how to monetize it, how do get your app noticed and downloaded? These three services offer smart solutions to the app discovery problem.

VMware Buys WaveMaker, Extends Developer Reach

VMware has expanded its cloud computing reach once again by acquiring WaveMaker, a startup focused on letting users build cloud applications without having to write code. It’s just the latest move by VMware to grow its platform business by bringing in all the developers it can.

How App Stores Can Compete With Android Market

Amazon last week launched a developer program in advance of its opening of a store for Android apps. The move underscores the opportunities for third parties looking to distribute apps to users of Google’s mobile operating system. But first they must meet a few key challenges.

5 Predictions for APIs in 2011

In 2010, the rapid growth of the application and mobile-driven internet pushed APIs into the spotlight. Fueled by new device platforms and cloud computing, 2010 saw a two-fold increase in new APIs per month over 2009, with more than 2,600 APIs counted in ProgrammableWeb’s API directory.

Dec. 7: What We’re Reading About the Cloud

There’s a lot to talk about today if you’re a cloud developer. Aside from Database.com, we have Amazon Web Services achieving PCI compliance, a rundown of developer-centric cloud strategies, an argument that services trumps APIs and a question on whether PaaS providers should publicize their shortcomings.

What Platforms Will Have Mobile App Devs in 12 Mos?

A few weeks ago, we conducted a survey of app developers in partnership with analytics company Distimo and across our own network of sites. We asked developers which platforms they’re developing apps for, what types they’re making and plans for the future. Here are the results.