All you need to know about PWA and AMP

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Some learnings from GDD Bengaluru


Are you confused by the many changes that are going on in the world of mobile and web apps? How do we make sense of Progressive Web Apps (PWA), Instant Apps, Single Page Apps (SPA) or Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)? What are the differences and similarities among these and when to use what? I’d hoped that I would get answers to at least some of these questions at the Google Developer Days (GDD) event at Bangalore, happening on 1-2 December.

I attended the event yesterday. It was a busy day with a tight schedule of back-to-back sessions, so much so that I had rush through a five-minute lunch. I got to know recent updates to Google’s platforms and products. I learned about some of the hot topics of the day: Google Assistant, Android Things, TensorFlow, Firebase, Lighthouse… But a number of sessions looked at PWA and AMP.

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Edge Computing in a Telecom Network

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Powered by Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC)


Until a few years ago, for many decades, telecom operators had been claiming that all they provided was a “dumb pipe”. It was not their concern what those pipes carried; and they were not responsible for content that was served or consumed at both ends of the pipe. Their main goal was to ensure that the pipes had enough bandwidth to serve average and peak traffic requirements. All was well and good until over-the-top (OTT) content starting dominating the market. Such content bypassed legacy circuit-switched services and value-added services provided by the operators.

Indeed telecom operators started to lose both ends of the bargain. They now wanted control over the content and charge a premium but all they could collect from their customers was for bare bits and bytes. In a price-sensitive market, “unlimited plans” became the order of the day. When OTT content became predominant, operator revenues started to drop. Content also became rich in multimedia, particularly video that congested backhaul links. Operators couldn’t afford to upgrade these backhauls. Yes, operators were providing dumb pipes but apparently even these had a hard time keeping up with demand.

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IoT Project Day: Ideas, Reference Boards and Prototypes

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Plus an exciting quiz on IoT


IoT Project Day is our quarterly event. It’s an event for exchanging knowledge, inspiring others and networking with peers. It really doesn’t matter how trivial the project, we give chance to everyone to showcase what they have built, get feedback, learn and iterate. By having college students and industry folks on the same platform, students become aware of industry trends and project opportunities. As usual, we are happy to have it at Microsoft, Bangalore, and we thank them for opening up their venue for this purpose. We also thank all presenters who gave demos and withstood the barrage of tough questions from the audience!

In today’s event, a couple of students gave demo of an Arduino-based prototype. We had two industry folks presenting technical overviews of their products and their relevance to IoT. We had a short IoT quiz that brought out the latest developments in the world of IoT. Vikas and I presented some ideas for projects: interested folks can write to to know more and collaborate. As they say, there’s no better way to learn than by doing!

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Artificial Intelligence: The Time Is Now

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Takeaways from Intel AI Developer Workshop @ Bangalore

intel-aiImages in this article are copyright of Intel.

I just returned from a full-day developer workshop organized by Intel. The focus was on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how Intel is contributing in mankind’s best efforts to teach machines to sense, reason and decide. The event was a useful peek into what Intel is bringing to the table in terms of both hardware and software. Beyond that, it was not an event that I would call a developer workshop since there were no hands-on sessions, demos or even tips and tricks that developers can use. The event was structured as a line of talks in order to bring awareness of Intel’s involvement in AI and where the market is headed.

AI originated in the 1950s but it was only in the 1980s when Machine Learning (ML) came about that people started to think it might be possible to realize AI. Machines can be trained and then asked to solve problems. Their algorithms could be tweaked as they learn and relearn with more sets of data. Deep Learning (DL) came about as a sub-branch of ML, where neural networks became the basis of learning. DL has brought us closer to the dream of realizing AI but DL alone did not achieve this.

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Flurry, the Mobile Analytics Platform

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

Measure, analyze and optimize app experience


I come mostly from a web app background. I haven’t done much work in the mobile apps except for dabbling with some sample code in React Native. Mobile has come a long way. Yes, it’s built on the foundations of web app development but today it has a life and roadmap of its own. I was therefore glad to attend today’s event organized by Flurry, which is a platform for mobile analytics. Flurry was founded in 2005 and acquired by Yahoo in 2014. The event this afternoon was attended by entrepreneurs, developers and marketing executives. There was so much information packed into one afternoon that I’m sure everyone took away something useful from it, even if they were experienced in the mobile space.

The format was a mix of panel discussions and focused talks. It was nice to see representation from a spectrum of Indian start-ups. It happens sometimes that events organized by US or European companies feature speakers who know quite well their US or European markets but nothing much about the Indian market. Today’s event was quite different. With speakers and moderators from Paytm, Flipkart, CouponDunia, Wooplr, Bounty, YourStory and more, it was clearly and rightly focused on the Indian market. There were of course guys from Flurry, Truecaller and Branch Metrics who gave lot of additional insights.

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An Introduction to WebRTC

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

The future of real-time apps


This afternoon I got to attend an event organized by Kranky Geek at 91Springboard, Bangalore. The topic of the day was WebRTC, an API and protocol that enables real-time communications without the pain of installing plugins, configuring devices or worrying about security. The event was nicely structured: an overview, a detailed explanation of a typical call setup and its API calls, a live coding demo, a look at multiparty complexities, and finally an insight into how a startup PiOctave is using WebRTC in its IoT product.

Real-time communications has always been a challenge on the web, although I must point out that the birth of UDP/IP/VoIP owes a lot to Network Voice Protocol (NVP) of the 1970s, perhaps the first real-time protocol of the Internet. The problem was that back then we were handicapped by low bandwidths and modem speeds. This is not much of a problem these days but true many-to-many media streaming is hampered by the architecture of the web. WebRTC is trying to overcome that.

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RADAR Basics

Author: Arvind Padmanabhan

The use of pulsed RADAR for range and speed measurement


In college you study so many interesting subjects that it’s really a pity that you don’t have the opportunity to pursue most of them. You have only one life. You have to choose one discipline to focus on. In fact, to contribute most as an engineer, you have to concentrate on the important problems of your chosen discipline. But when you are starting your career, choosing a discipline is not easy. Often students will look at job availability, growth opportunities, pay scales, and so on. This is good strategy for the average student. But if you’ve proven yourself as among the best, it’s more important to make this choice based on your passion. The question is really not to ask which is a good job but rather what you are passionate about. With passion, and a willingness to learn and work smart, you can be good at any job you choose.

I have always been a communications engineer but most of my career has been about software protocols for wireless communication systems. I never got a chance to work on RADAR, which we may consider as the grand daddy of intelligent wireless communication systems. While radio broadcasting came earlier, it did not have the intelligence that RADAR brought. With RADAR, one could sense the world around without having a line of sight. RADAR was extensively used during the Second World War. Some even attribute the victory of the Allies more to RADAR than the atomic bomb. RADAR in turn contributed to the development of many other technologies in areas of astronomy, medical technology and meteorology. Today RADAR has branched into Electronic Warfare (EW) and to win the battle in the domain of EM waves is as important as winning it with physical assets.

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