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Cross-Platform Smartphone Apps Still Difficult

Too many platforms create challenges for smartphone developers

5 min read
Cross-Platform Smartphone Apps Still Difficult

smartphones display

Photos: ProOnGo
Prêt-à-porter: Moving an app from one smartphone platform to another is no easy feat.

Desktop programmers have it easy. Most can still program for 90 percent of the market—Windows—and ignore the Mac OS and all the flavors of Linux. For smartphones, though, things are different. Globally, almost half the 175 million smartphones purchased in 2009 ran the Symbian operating system, and one-fifth were BlackBerries. Most of the rest, about 14 percent, run Windows Mobile, according to a February 2010 report from the IT research analysis firm Gartner. Developers who want to target the large and rapidly growing U.S. market, however, need to consider that the BlackBerry is by far the leading platform there with 42 percent, followed by Apple with 25 percent, while Symbian has less than 5 percent, according to research firm comScore.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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