Flutter Expands OS Support to Include Windows

Flutter made a name for itself by delivering an open-source framework that allows developers to build apps once, and distribute that app across multiple ecosystems (e.g. Android, iOS, etc.). One of the missing operating systems from Flutter’s support portfolio has been Windows. Last week, Flutter introduced an alpha release for Windows.

“Windows remains a popular choice for desktop and laptop devices, with Microsoft reporting over one billion active devices running Windows 10,” Flutter’s Chris Sells commented in a blog post announcement. “Our own statistics show that over half of all Flutter developers use Windows, so it’s a natural target for Flutter. Native desktop support opens up a variety of exciting possibilities for Flutter, including improved developer tooling, reduced friction for new users, and of course apps that can reach any device a user might have from a single codebase.”

Expanding the reach of Flutter to desktop-based operating systems comes with a host of challenges. Mobile device applications need not worry about keyboards, mice, mouse wheels, controllers, and more. But that’s just the beginning. Screen size, toolchain updates, shell, runner, plugins, and much more were all needed to expand Flutter to support Windows.

To help developers get started on Flutter for Windows, Flutter has published some sample apps. For example, Flokk is available on GitHub, including a guide to how it was built with Flutter. Check out more apps built with Flutter at its app gallery.

Flutter expects to release a stable version in the next few months. Currently, Flutter supports Windows 7 and above. To learn more, visit the Flutter architectural overview.

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Author: <a href="">ecarter</a>


apilayer’s mediastack Offers Real-Time News Data via API

apilayer, a provider of APIs and SaaS applications for developers, has launched a new product called mediastackTrack this API that provides API access to news data that can be integrated into live news feeds, data analytics platforms, and trend analysis applications. The platform aims for affordability and includes a free option, as well as paid options that provide real-time data access and increased bandwidth. 

mediastack sources news content every minute from an aggregate of over 7,500 news sources and blogs across the world. The API then provides this data to developers via JSON, with the documentation noting that “The API comes with a single news HTTP GET endpoint along with a series of parameters and options you can use to narrow down your news data results. Among other options, you can filter by dates and timeframes, countries, languages, sources, and search keywords.”

ProgrammableWeb reached out to Paul Zehetmayr, apilayer’s CEO, to discuss the motivation for the company to expand mediastack, a resource that began as an internal sports news aggregation feed, into a standalone product. Zehetmayr noted that:

“Essentially, we have felt that the market lacks an easy-to-use and affordable solution for real-time news data. We wanted to build a simple and JSON-based REST API that delivers news data from a large number of sources, but all standardized, lightweight, and without too much fuss. Integrations take only a few minutes and you’re good to go. This will be interesting to anybody who #1 wants to display live news feeds on websites or apps, #2 is looking to analyze news articles both live and historically, etc.”

In regards to affordability, the API launches with the inclusion of a free option that is limited to 500 calls per month, and the news feed is delayed by 15 minutes. Beyond that, the company is providing paid tiers that range from $24.99 to $249.99 per month and up to 250,000 calls per month. Additionally, all paid tiers include real-time access to news data and HTTPS encryption, access to historical data, and technical support.

The onboarding process for developers seems aimed at simplicity with mediastack providing developers with a 3-step quick-start guide. Additionally, the documentation includes code samples for PHP, Python, Nodejs, jQuery, Go, and Ruby. 

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Author: <a href="">KevinSundstrom</a>


5 Top APIs for Podcasts

Podcasts have never been more popular, and developers wanting take advantage of this hot content trend need to find suitable Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, to create applications.

What is a Podcast API?

A Podcast API in an interface that developers can use to connect applications to various podcast services.

ProgrammableWeb‘s Podcasts category is the best place to discover these APIs. Here are 5 popular choices.

1. Listen Notes

ListenNotes is a podcast search engine. The ListenNotes APITrack this API allows applications to search the metadata of more than 1.5 million podcasts and 80 million episodes categorized by people, places, or topics. Search (almost) all podcasts & episodes that are found on the Internet via this API.

2. Audioboom API

AudioBoom provides audio content from major sports and media outlets, as well as smaller podcasters. Content hosted on audioBoom can be shared via the website, embeddable players, mobile applications, and social media websites. The audioBoom APITrack this API provides users with access to almost every function the site offers. Full documentation for the API is available on GitHub.

3. Audiogum API

Audiogum provides smart audio visual experiences for businesses and their customers. The platform offers a way to create personalized, voice controlled podcasts, streaming services, internet radio, audio books, and video content. The Audiogum APITrack this API enables audio content aggregation, intelligent personalization, analytics, and natural language understanding in business applications.

4. Voicepods API

Voicepod provides automated human-like text-to-speech (TTS) services. The Voicepods APITrack this API returns JSON responses with voice and text-to-speech narrations features. Projects and clips available as resources.

5. Rev API

Rev provides transcription, caption and translation services. Rev’s captioning work is done by humans for accuracy. The Rev Human Transcription APITrack this API enables developers to add human transcription services to applications.

Head over to the Podcasts category for more APIs, plus SDKs and Source Code samples.

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Author: <a href="">joyc</a>


Top 10 Countries APIs

Developers wishing to create applications supplied with data about individual countries and other international data may be interested in these APIs found in the Countries category of ProgrammableWeb.

What is a Countries API?

A Countries API, or Application Programming Interface, is an interface that connects developers to software featuring data concerning countries around the world.

APIs in the Countries category may provide data about demographics, geography, culture, flags, airport codes, postal codes, capital cities, universities, natural history, currency and financial markets, environment and any number of regional features.

This article focuses on the 10 favorite Countries APIs of ProgrammableWeb readers.

1. REST Countries API

REST Countries APITrack this API provides information about the world’s nations via REST calls. These calls allow users to retrieve all available countries or to retrieve a given country’s currency, capital city, calling code, region, sub-region, ISO 639-1 language, name, or country code.

2. Nutritics API

Nutritics APITrack this API supports the extraction and manipulation of nutrition and food-related data from the official national databases of countries around the world. It operates as a multilingual gateway portal to country-specific nutrition and dietetics data. The API is useful for developing analytical addons applications for recipes, diets, and meal planning, in addition to customizing access to academic research and collaboration resources.

Nutritics API provides nutrition of products from specific countries. Image: Nutritics

3. University Domains and Names Data List API

The University Domains and Names Data List APITrack this API from Hipo Labs retrieves JSON files with domains, names, and countries of national and international universities.

4. Open AQ API

OpenAQ uses a combination of open data and open source tools as well as a global, grassroots community to fight air inequality in different locations across the world. Use the Open AQ APITrack this API to build apps that power a variety of air quality measurement tools. The API convey responses in JSON format.

5. Numbeo Cost of Living API

The Numbeo Cost of Living APITrack this API integrates living conditions comparisons between two cities or countries. Methods include cities, price items, currency exchange, hotel prices, indices, crime, healthcare, pollution, traffic, and climate.

6. GeoDataSource Neighbouring Countries API

The GeoDataSource Neighbouring Countries Web ServiceTrack this API enables users to get the associated land border countries (the neighboring countries) based on the input of country code in ISO3166-2 format.

7. World Bank Country API

The World Bank Country APITrack this API returns country data including region, income level, ISO codes, lending type, capital city, longitude, and latitude. Data is provides in JSON or XML formats.

8. Graph Countries GraphQL API

The Graph Countries APITrack this API is a free GraphQL API to query country-related data like currencies, languages, flags, regions+subregions, bordering countries, and distance to other countries.

9. The Basetrip API

The Basetrip APITrack this API offers a variety of travel information by country including currency information, electricity (sockets & plugs), ATM locations, credit and debit cards information, driving data, dial codes, health related information, and emergency numbers. Additionally, Basetrip offers GeoJSON formatted data.

Add travel information about various countries to apps via this API

Add travel information about various countries to apps via this API. Image: The Basetrip

10. Tuxx EU Country API

The Tuxx EU Country APITrack this API checks whether a given country is a country in the European Union. A country in the European Union is a country that belongs to the economic and political union of 28 member states which are primarily located in Europe.

Head over to the Countries category for more than 40 APIs, SDKs, and Source Code Samples.

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Author: <a href="">joyc</a>


Kubernetes to Establish Lifecycle Duration Standards

Starting with version 1.19 of Kubernetes, developers will be required to advance APIs that they are developing into a stable state within 9 months. These changes are intended to encourage follow-through on feature development and avoid APIs getting stuck in beta.

Kubernetes follows a three-stage lifecycle with features moving from Alpha to Beta to Stable. These updated standards would not impact the amount of time that projects could stay in alpha, but would fast track development through the beta phase. It was noticed that there was far less incentive for developers to move products beyond beta, creating a choke point of sorts in the lifecycle. 

Tim Bannister of The Scale Factory noted in a blog post the value of these restrictions:

“In my opinion, these harsh-seeming measures make a lot of sense, and are going to be good for Kubernetes. Deprecating existing APIs, through a rule that applies across all the different Special Interest Groups (SIGs), helps avoid stagnation and encourages fixes.”

Make sure to check out the full blog post for additional details. 

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Author: <a href="">KevinSundstrom</a>


Android 11 Reaches Final Beta

Android 11 Beta 3 is here and with it, Google is calling upon all developers to update their apps accordingly. The official Android 11 release is only weeks away at this point, and it is important for apps to be compatible with the new features in Android 11. Here’s what you need to know.

This is the last beta before the final release, according to Google. In years past there have been one or two more betas during the preview process, but this year three appears to be the magic number. The beta reached platform stability in Beta 2, which means all app-facing behaviors are final. That includes the SDK and NDK APIs, system behaviors, and restrictions on non-SDK interfaces. What’s in Beta 3? An important API change. 

Google says Android 11 Beta 3 sees an update to the Exposure Notifications System and associated API. Once the beta is installed, users will be able to fully interact with Exposure Notification apps without the previously necessary device location consent. Google says it is making an exception on the location consent for this use case only, “given that it has been designed in such a way that apps using it can’t infer device location through Bluetooth scanning.” In order to further protect end-user privacy, all other apps installed on the device will continue to be prevented from performing Bluetooth scans unless previously given permission by the user. More information is available here

Many of Android 11’s new features are meant to help developers manage experiences around people, controls, and privacy. All the Android 11 details for developers are available here, and API-specific changes are noted here. Some include device controls, media controls, support for waterfall displays and foldables, as well as chat bubbles, conversations, privacy, and security. 

Android studio has been revised with new features as well. For example, the ADB incremental workflow should help with installs of larger APIs Moreover, platform APIs ensure additional nullability annotations. These are showcased in the latest Android Studio Beta.

Developers already enrolled in the beta program should see the beta arrive via an over-the-air update. Developers not yet signed up can enroll and download the beta to get going. Android 11 Beta 3 is available to the Google Pixel 2, 3, 3a, and 4. 

Google strongly recommends developers test their apps against the new APIs with the newest SDKs to ensure total app compatibility with Android 11. Google says the public release will be sometime in the next few weeks.

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Author: <a href="">EricZeman</a>


Cloudflare Introduces Cloudflare Workers Unbound

Cloudflare has announced Cloudflare Workers Unbound. Workers Unbound is a serverless platform for developers with a specific focus on flexibility, performance, security, ease of use, and pricing. With Workers Unbound, users can run complicated workloads across the Cloudflare network and pay only for what’s used.

“I challenged our team to build a platform that didn’t just compete with niche edge computing solutions, but would provide developers the fastest, most secure, most flexible, and most cost-effective general-purpose serverless offering — period,” Matthew Prince, Cloudflare co-founder, and CEO, commented in a press release. “I’m incredibly proud of Cloudflare Workers Unbound and can’t wait to see what developers will build with it.”

Cloudflare Workers Unbound is the next progression beyond Cloudflare Workers, which came out in 2017. The company pitches Workers Unbound as a platform that serves more use cases with more flexibility and better cost. Specific benefits the company points to include:

  • Limitless: Limited CPU restraints and only pay for what you use.
  • Cost-Effective: Very competitive pricing when compared to the industry
  • No Hidden Fees
  • No Cold Starts: Out of the box support for 0 nanosecond cold start times.
  • Unthrottled CPU:  Isolated architecture lets Cloudflare run CPUs unthrottled so users can get more done per second of compute time.
  • Fast Globally: Workloads run across the Cloudflare network, spanning more than 200 cities in more than 100 countries, reducing average network latency for users everywhere in the world.
  • Instant Updates: Developers can update their code and have it live globally in 15 seconds.
  • Broad Language Support: JavaScript, C, C++, Python, Go, Rust, Scala, Kotlin, and even COBOL.
  • Automatic Scaling: Cloudflare Workers Unbound automatically scale to meet demand without developers needing to spinning up new instances.
  • Robust Debugging Tools: Simplified debugging and diagnosing problems.
  • Secure By Design: Built to withstand the latest security threats, including sophisticated timing attacks, and was reviewed by the team that discovered the Spectre class of vulnerabilities.

Cloudflare Workers will now be known as Cloudflare Workers Bundled. Cloudflare Workers Unbound is currently in private beta. Those interested can learn more here.

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Author: <a href="">ecarter</a>


GameAnalytics Releases Metrics API to Support Custom Game Dashboards and Analytics

GameAnalytics, a data resource for game developers and publishers, has announced a new Metrics APITrack this API that the company intends to simplify the extraction of game data for use in the development of customized portfolio views. This is especially useful for publishers that are managing a large collection of games.

GameAnalytics noted that the API will provide developers with granular access to essential data based on filter options. Users will now be able to query the API to analyze new users not only by the game but also by country, or a combination of the two. Additionally, the API is intended to help customers easily build custom dashboards based on the needs of individual teams. 

Another important consideration is the ability to monitor the health of game titles, both individually and collectively. GameAnalytics is hoping that customers will be able to easily spot struggling titles based on an analysis of user retention.

Game Analytics has provided documentation for the API that is available now and interested developers should reach out to them to hear about pricing. 

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Author: <a href="">KevinSundstrom</a>


How Municipalities Across the United States Are Approaching Contact Tracing

Developers, companies, and governments are working collaboratively and individually to bring out their best efforts at contact tracking and tracing. The mechanism for tracing varies from country to country, and even region to region. This article takes a closer look at tracing tools and apps used in the United States.

The most powerful API currently on offer is a collaborative effort from Apple and Google. The Apple Exposure Notification APITrack this API and Android Exposure Notification APITrack this API was launched as a qualified open-access tool, with the proviso that any developers must pass a rigorous screening process to qualify for use. Coronavirus/Covid-19 apps not using the Apple-Google API must pass an equally rigorous screening process to make it onto the app store for either platform, as well as providing proof that the app is a release from an official health organization or government.

Alternative tracing tools in use include GPS, Bluetooth, and voluntary logging of data (such as location, symptoms, and test results). As of today, the majority of states are opting for these alternatives, with the idea that centralized data from these tools is a more secure option than the globally available Apple/Google API.

The information provided in this article is current as of July 2020. However, tracker apps are a moving target: this means that apps are evolving daily, sometimes rolling back, and sometimes never making it out of beta. Meanwhile, before most states have so much as agreed upon how to begin work on an app, the U.S. Senate is working on a bipartisan bill called the Exposure Notification Privacy Act. We’ll check back in with updates to this information whenever possible.

While no states have active apps using the Apple/Google API, two states have apps in production where developers have announced publicly their plan to use the API: Washington and North Dakota.

The app in development for the state of Washington is a collaboration between academics, doctors, and private sector developers, where “doctors and researchers at the University of Washington with Microsoft volunteers have built a tool to alert you about highly relevant public health announcements, potential exposure to COVID-19.” The development team is also working in collaboration with the Apple/Google effort. This tool is in transition to full open-source availability.

The other app in development planned for use with the Apple/Google Exposure Notification System API is in development for North Dakota. The state of North Dakota already has a tracking app called Care19, launched in April of this year. Care19 was developed in collaboration with the North Dakota Department of Health, and Tim Brookins, a Principal Engineer at Microsoft, by repurposing his NDSU sports fan tracking site “ProwdCrowd.”  The Care19 app has since been licensed for use in South Dakota and another undisclosed state.

With the first Care19 app live, North Dakota has the bandwidth to explore the use of a second app built with the Apple/Google API. While the second, decentralized app is still in development, the first app is doing a bit of housekeeping, per the Washington Post. “Care19’s maker, Tim Brookins of ProudCrowd, told me the app uses a Foursquare service called Pilgrim SDK to convert the location data it collects as latitude and longitude into the names of recognizable places. “The Care19 application user interface clearly calls out the usage of Foursquare on our ‘Nearby Places’ screen, per the terms of our Foursquare agreement,” Brookins wrote in an email. “We will be working with our state partners to be more explicit in our privacy policy.” Brookins also said they would clarify privacy policy language about how it shares data to conduct diagnostics.

States with pending launches are slowly taking public stances about their plans for contact tracing apps. Alabama and South Carolina have confirmed that they have agreements in place to use the Apple/Google framework.

Most states currently not participating in the use of the Apple/Google framework are making a broad effort to keep an open dialogue about the possible future use. In a letter from two Maryland attorneys general to the CEOs of Apple and Google, “while digital contact tracing and exposure notification tools are valuable in understanding the spread of COVID-19 and assisting public health authorities, these same technologies pose a risk to consumers’ privacy.” The letter was co-signed by attorneys general from 38 other U.S. states and provinces.

There is a state-by-state effort underway to develop individual contact tracing apps. Virginia has leveraged a framework originally designed to track opioid use and abuse to include an expansion to contact tracing. Rhode Island has launched a GPS-based tracker called CRUSH Covid RI. Utah has launched Healthy Together, which already has 45,000 users (2% of the states total population).

Most recently underway is the extremely ambitious project from the Association of Public Health Laboratories, where they plan to build a national COVID-19 exposure notification server, which will run securely on Apple and Google’s API and be hosted by Microsoft. Another sprawling plan comes from the Linux Foundation Public Health (LFPH), where development is underway to build globally available open-source tech to provide access to testing, tracing, and isolation activities, all with open source technology. LFPH has also debuted two hosted exposure notification projects dubbed COVID Shield and COVID Green.

Progress with contact tracing apps is ongoing, with new apps launching, rolling back, and entering development regularly. We encourage our readers to engage in the comments section below with any new or updated information.

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Author: <a href="">Katherine-Harrison-Adcock</a>


Xilinx Adaptive Computing Contest

Attention, AI nerds! Xilinx and Hackster are challenging developers to combine the power of Xilinx adaptive computing platforms with the Vitis development environment and Vitis AI to solve real-world problems.

There are some heavy-duty hardware platforms involved in this one, so you can apply for one of 60 loaner development kits. Win a prize, and you keep the kit – AND take home a cash award!

// Follow-up note: "ADAS" stands for vehicular "Advanced Driver Assistance Systems". 🙂