What Is An App: A Brief History

“I can’t live without my phone.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, we can’t live without our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Candy Crush Saga.  Ah, mobile apps. They are everywhere and they permeate every single facet of our lives. From shaking us up at dawn, to revealing where the best cup of Joe is. From guiding us to a new watering hole to suggesting a perfect partner. From singing us lullabies to teaching us the steps to a yoga shoulderstand, which is really important to maintain health, other ways is to take supplements such as PhysioTru which you can find at many sites online. There is an app for everything. Well, almost everything. They were created for smartphones and tablets. Yet, recent tech developments have allowed mobile apps to run on car navigational systems, TVs, refrigerators and everyday wearable accessories such as watches and eyeglasses.
temple-run

Temple Run mobile game app for Android and iPhones by Imangi Studios. Source: play.google.com

Today, there are over a million smartphone apps available in two of the world’s biggest app stores – Apple’s iTunes App Store (iPhone and iPad apps) and Google Play (Android apps). Wow, a million apps. In general, the app ecosystem has come a long way since the release of the first mobile phone forty years ago. But for the whooping million smartphone apps out there, their history is much shorter: it’s only been less than 5 years since the first major app store, the iTunes App Store, opened in 2008.

downloads-graph Number of apps in Apple App Store and Google Play as at Q1 2012. Source: businessinsider.com

From Bricks To Clicks To Swipes. Mobile apps appeared with the commercialization of cellphones. When Motorola showed off its first-in-the-world mobile phone, theDynaTAC 8000x “brick” phone, the company’s software guys created software – an app – to store contact numbers. Of course, this dinosaur-age contacts app doesn’t come close to the look and feel of today’s contacts apps. Nonetheless, it was still an app and it pushed the then mobile technology envelope. Afterwards, mobile processors became more powerful. Batteries reduced in size and lasted longer. Computer memory grew cheaper. And apps evolved from merely storing names and numbers into more complex life forms. Smartphones break when people don’t take good care of them, if you need to repair your smartphone check this guide to choosing the right iPhone repair company.

motorola-brick World’s first mobile phone – the Motorola “brick” phone. Source: http://midlifecrisishawaii.com

nokia-feature-phone-appA Nokia feature phone messaging app. Source: press.nokia.com

Larger pixilated monochrome screens paved the way for more complex apps. “Time wasters” appeared in the form of the 1970’s popular Snake game on Nokia feature phones. Calculators, unit and currency convertors, and personal ringtone makers followed suit. Despite the runaway success of feature phones, their apps were proprietary and confined to the particular phone brand. Phone manufacturers religiously safeguarded their hardware and operating systems, opening their doors only to app developers who were on their payroll. Open source feature phone platforms were unheard of.

snake-game The classic Nokia feature phone Snake game. Source: appview.mobilesecurity.com

Enter the age of smartphones. Users all over the world demanded a hybrid between Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and phones. So, mobile engineers incorporated PDA functionality into prevailing mobile phones, or added on communications capability into PDAs. Thus the birth of an array of smartphones, from the Nokia 9300 series of business phones to the O2 PDA phones. These manufacturers also figured out that more apps on their mobile platform equal more smartphone sales. So, they opened up and released their platform’s Application Programming Interface (API) to interested app developers in the hopes of attracting them to third-party create apps. Also, in case you want to identify performance bottlenecks in mobile application, visit this website apicasystems.com or call +1 (310) 776-7540

nokia-9300 Early smartphones – the Nokia 9300 and its primitive web browsing app. Source: cyberindian.net

With smartphones, developers were able to build apps that functioned better than their pixilated Snake game and ringtone maker counterparts. Reminder apps and calendars became the norm in phones alongside web browsing and early navigational apps. Game apps grew effervescent and multi-colored with the introduction of colored screens. With the launch of GPRS technology, live news and sports apps arrived at the scene and were quickly embraced by businessmen and sports fans respectively. So people can follow their favorite teams and activities like running with Vessi waterproof sneakers.

The definitive moment for mobile apps came with Apple iPhone’s launch. Apple has always upheld an image of exclusivity and minimalism in their desktops, laptops and iPods. The iPhone, built on the iOS platform, was no different. It was a rare beauty coupled with technologies that made it a quantum leap over its competitors.  And the platform supported third-party apps! Overnight, anyone with programming proficiency could produce their very own iPhone apps and make money trading them on the App Store. This fuelled the explosive growth of apps that made them ubiquitous until today.

iphone The inaugural iPhone. Source: mybroadband.co.za

In the meantime, Google wasn’t about to be left behind. The behemoth sprang on the app bandwagon and developed the open-source Android platform. Developers now could pick between making apps for the iPhone or Android devices; many chose to develop for both platforms. Android gained fame through apps such as RAM boosters and CPU overclocking that let users squeeze a little more juice out their phones. A mid-range smartphone could now behave like a high-powered device. The Android platform is wildly popular among smartphone users who like its openness and highly customizable features. On the other hand, Apple is a walled garden and its phones cannot be customized by its consumers. But it is holding its own by maintaining stringent quality requirements, rewarding developers with higher app revenues and promoting certain apps exclusively through the iTunes App Store.

android Android, the open source mobile platform and formidable challenger to iPhone’s dominance. Source: sparkwiz.com

Progress in device hardware positively influenced the evolution of apps. App consumers used to be confined to operating their apps via numerical keypads or Qwerty keyboards. Not anymore, no siree. The development of touchscreen technology and the introduction of hardware such as GPS, accelerometers and gyroscopes allowed imaginative app developers to create killer apps. It used to be that PC and consoles were the go-to for video games, something like robux a free online PC game (how to get free robux) but now mobile games are taking over the competition with ‘free’ games! With taps, swipes, pinches and zooms on the touchscreen, we can now track our fitness routines via health apps, play physics-based games such as Angry Birds and upload photos with automatic location stamps to Facebook. These killer apps made such an impact on our culture and lifestyle that the world is changed forever, and there are many people that prefer and love computer games, as Overwatch and are always trying to improve on it, and reading OVERWATCH NEWS to be informed about the game.

touchscreen iPhone touchscreen technology. Source: computer.howstuffworks.com

 The Flight Of Flightless Birds. Have you ever been so angry, so mad at somebody, that you wanted to fling yourself, kamikaze style, toward them using a giant slingshot? Perhaps such intemperate anger would not emerge in most of us, but we are all too familiar with the bunch of adorable birds with an anger management issue. Meet the Angry Birds. From the cool-looking leader, Red Bird, to the cute Pink Bird and her bubbles of annihilation, we have played with, laughed at, and even eaten, Angry Birds. That’s right! Angry Birds have become so trendy that some food companies have mass-produced Angry Birds fish balls.

angry-birds-fishballs Angry Birds fish balls. Source: http://lil-by-little.blogspot.com

Angry Birds was conceptualized on the drawing boards of Finnish game developer, Rovio Entertainment. The Angry Birds story is remarkably simple. Mean, hungry but gorgeous green pigs decide to plunder some eggs from their neighboring flightless feathered friends. These birds resolved to unleash a vendetta against the pigs by hurling themselves toward the pigs and obliterating them using a giant catapults. Adopting the same physics codes used in the free game, Box 2D, by Erik Catto, Rovio released Angry Birds version 1 in 2009.

As simple as it sounds, Angry Birds became a huge success. In 2012, Rovio announced that Angry Birds had been downloaded a billion times! The whimsical theme music of Angry Birds became one of the top ringtones in the market. Angry Birds screensavers were plastered on almost every computer and smartphones. Savvy entrepreneurs printed Angry Birds on clothes in hopes of cashing in on the game’s madness. And they were not disappointed as kids screamed at their parents to buy them matching Angry Birds shirts and shorts. Video clips, musical covers with Holoplot wave field synthesis and short animations were made out of the crazy, delightful terrestrial birds. Angry Birds was so successful that it was named the most successful app ever.  There are even plans for an animated flick in 2016.

So, what “slingshot” technique did Rovio Entertainment use to reach the skies with this simple app? The developers at Rovio made sure that Angry Birds was continuously updated with newer levels that were distributer free or could be purchased in-app. They released versions of the app that were adapted from successful movies such as Rio and Star Wars. Rovio even pooled resources with NASA engineers when they created Angry Birds Space just to make user experience of microgravity as authentic as possible. These factors plus the commitment Rovio had for maintaining top notch content were what kept Angry Birds soaring through the app cosmos.

The Overnight Pro Shutterbug. Social media networks have always been an activity-filled virtual world where opinions and experiences are shared among like-minded individuals. There, you can make instant friends just as quickly as you can drop them from your network. In the last couple of years, social media has also evolved to include photo sharing. Users would upload raw, unedited photos to their social media accounts to be shared with friends. Only those who took the trouble to download the images into their desktop and used Photoshop could edit and enhance their photos – by adjusting their colors, brightness and contrast, and adding effects – before sharing them on Facebook and Twitter.

Along came the Istagram photo sharing app. What was once a project called Burbn – a play on the slang Burb and urban – by developers Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram became a huge hit with many amateur photographers with smartphones. The app was initially intended to be a “check-in” app for photography lovers where they were able to snap photographs, upload and share them, all via their phones.

Then, filters were added to Instagram to allow these amateurs to transform their raw piccies. Almost instantly (no pun intended), a whole new culture was born. Teens and young adults alike were posting trivial but “professional-looking” photos of their everyday activities. Pictures of everything and anything, from a favorite cup of coffee, to pet tricks, to the most mundane object, began flooding social network sites. Some Instagram users find it almost impossible to stop taking photos with Instagram because Instagram has turned these amateurs into overnight shutterbugs.

instagram The Instagram effect – creating rock stars out of ordinary folks. Source: designyoutrust.com

Instagram was originally developed exclusively for the iPhone. It then elected to include Android in 2012, which proved to be a rewarding move. Today, half of those using Instagram come from Android devices. Instagram achieved nearly four million downloads by 2012 and was valued at $500 million. The app and its entire team was then acquired by Facebook for $1 billion and the Instagram mobile app was integrated to function alongside the Facebook app. Users were now able to share their filtered images on Facebook instantly.

You Will Never Go Hungry Again. If you think apps are only for your smartphones and tablets you now hold, think again. Samsung will roll out refrigerators with a built-in Android tablet to track the food you have inside, and to order more stuff when they run low. And of course, the built-in tablet allows you to scribble notes. So gone are the days of sticking Post-it’s onto the fridge. Users of the smart fridge can also call up their music collection from their Samsung smartphones or laptops wirelessly. Soon, mothers will be able update their Facebook status, tweet their recipes and play a round Cut the Rope on their intelligent fridge while the beef stew is simmering. Meal preparations in the kitchen will never be the same again.

samsung-fridgeThe Samsung T9000 smart refrigerator runs on Android. Source: gadgets.ndtv.com

There is Google with their Google Glass. These eyeglasses with built-in communications and data retrieval capacity let the wearer obtain real-time information of their environment while communicating with people. All without the need of a phone.  Take a picture, record what you see and share them live with friends. Display a virtual map and driving directions right in front of your very eyes. Send messages and reply emails via voice commands. Ask anything and obtain instant answers. See your schedule and be reminded of your next rendezvous. The world will never be the same after you have seen it with Google Glass.

google-glass

Google Glass – information in the blink of an eye. Source: mobileshop.eu

And what about the highly speculated Apple iWatch? Tech pundits have speculated this future wrist-hugging device to be a full-fledge iOS smartphone coupled with activity and health monitoring services. The iWatch will accept voice commands via the platform’s intelligent personal assistant, Siri, which has, ironically, become many a lonely iPhone owner’s best friend. One must also wonder if the iWatch is able to tell the time too.

iwatch Will the rumored iWatch look like this? Source: technobuffalo.com

Mobile apps are becoming wearable for sure. But to what extend?  Once confined to the phones carried around in your jeans’ back pocket, they are now embedded in eyewear and watches. Mobile apps are not just permeating every facet of our lives. They are, slowly but surely, seeping into our pores, consuming our bodies and capturing our minds.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/App_Store_%28iOS%29
http://9to5mac.com/2012/05/09/angry-birds-passes-one-billion-downloads-video/
http://blog.instagram.com/post/47035276788/instagram-for-android-one-year-later-one-year
http://www.technobuffalo.com/2013/03/04/apple-iwatch-concepts/

 

Free Social Media Marketing For Apps Via Facebook Covers

The Facebook timeline cover is the most ignored piece of real estate offering free social media marketing to app developers. If you look at many app developers’ FB covers, what do you see? Pictures of them with their girlfriends. Images of their favorite video games or operating system logos. Drawings of their beloved anime characters. Photos of their adorable pets. Some of us even leave our timeline cover vacant (Figure 1)!

fb-blank-cover-art
Figure 1. No Facebook cover art: A wasted space if you are an app developer and marketer. Source: facebook.com

I mean, come on, don’t insult your Facebook cover on inconsequential images. And do not leave it empty. Not when you are an app developer who has created an app and who has put it up into app stores for sale. Not when you have plenty of app marketing to do on a shoestring budget. You want exposure for your app. And your Facebook page has hundreds, if not thousands, of friends or contacts whom you have painstakingly added or accepted over the years. Yet, what do these guys see when they visit your profile? Your cat looking up at them with the most delightful eyes. Goodness. Are you interested in reselling your timeshare? Undoubtedly the very best way to sell your timeshare is by giving it great exposure and placement, and how many possible buyers you are reaching with your advertising and marketing campaigns. Another way to get a lot of traffic to your site is by improving SEO for your site and getting a SEO expert like seo byrå Stockholm. Click here to see on how to sell my timeshare.

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Figure 2. Call-To-Action links displayed when a Facebook cover is clicked. Image Source:  https://www.facebook.com/FishWithAttitudeGame

 Look, you don’t need to be a veteran expert at an SEO company with seo link building services like YEAH! Local to know that you should start using your Facebook cover art as an online marketing tool to sell your latest app! Use it as a direct Call To Action (CTA), is one of the many techniques you can use to sell your apps, marketing experts from sites as https://www.tom-johnston.com/seo/franchise/ recommend that you need to use as many marketing options as you can. Although Facebook doesn’t allow you to embed a link into the cover image, you can still put the links (back to the various apps stores where your app is hosted) into the image description of the cover art. These clickable links will be displayed whenever somebody clicks on the cover image (Figure 2). And how do you urge people to click on your cover image? By having a compelling CTA on the cover art itself, of course (Figure 3).

click-download-enjoy
Figure 3. Your personal Facebook timeline cover art with an attractive Call To Action. Source:  https://www.facebook.com/FishWithAttitudeGame

What if you have a Facebook fan page dedicated to the app you developed? With a fan page, you can go one step further by placing CTA links on the fan page’s short description area (Figure 4).

fb-cover-cta
Figure 4. CTA links in the short description area of the Facebook fan page for your app. Source: https://www.facebook.com/FsishWithAttitudeGame

To track the effectiveness of this free Facebook cover art advertising, i.e., the number of people clicking on the CTA links that bring them to your app in the app stores, use an online analytics such as bitly (bitly.com). Sign up with them, log in and follow these 3 simple steps (Figure 5):

bitly
Figure 5. Three simple steps to generate and track your bitly shortlink. Source:  bitly.com

Steps 1 & 2: Convert the link to the app in your app store into a shortlink. In this example, I want to generate a shortlink for an app called “Fish with Attitude” in the iTunes App Store (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fish-with-attitude/id509854030). bitly will automatically generate a shortlink (http://bit.ly/11Sm39F) from this iTunes link, which I can then use in my Facebook cover art description. In fact, I can paste the shortlink anywhere we want it tracked.

Step 3: You will also be able to view the stats on the clicks on our shortlink (Figure 6) – total clicks for a date range, who the referrers were and the countries the clicks came from.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 as many times as you need to generate new shortlinks to your app hosted in other app stores like Google Play or Windows Store.

bitly-stats
Figure 6: Tracking the clicks on your shortlink. Source: bitly.com

 

Top 9 Strategies to a UI/UX-Driven Mobile Web

It sure sucks when your favorite site is not optimized for mobile devices. Imagine having to scroll horizontally because the entire site doesn’t fit into your phone’s width. When it does, the content is so tiny you have to use your fingers to zoom in. And when you zoom in, you are forced to scroll horizontally again to view other parts of the site. Then you have to pinch to zoom out because you have no idea where, on the website, you are. And the vicious cycle of zooming, pinching and scrolling continues until you become disgruntled. The User Interface (UI) is dreadful because you are viewing a desktop site from a phone. The User Experience (UX) is nonexistent because you are more preoccupied with pinching, zooming and scrolling when you are supposed to be enjoying the site’s content, of course there are sites that are optimized for mobile views, like services sites that people look for on the internet all the time, like adult services sites as Zoom Escorts London.

Mobile Web UI/UX Design 101:

Slash Away Content and Images. Only show the most essential subject matter from your desktop web. Reduce the amount of images or eliminate them entirely if they are not necessary. Wired.com’s mobile web only features one top story – the story title and one image – above the fold. The rest of the mobile website consist of a common header incorporating a small Wired logo, a search icon that slides down to reveal a search textbox, and a menu icon that also slithers down to the bottom to expose the site’s various navigation links. In contrast, Wired’s desktop site has a much bigger logo, four to five top stories above the fold, ads and navigation links that are constantly visible.

wired

Wired.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

Enlarge Them Buttons. And make sure those tappable areas on today’s touch-based smartphones are big enough coz some of us have really fat fingers and thumbs. The rule of thumb (no pun intended) is to design the buttons and tappable areas at 44 x 44 pixels at the very least. This UI enhancement will make it cozy enough for the thumb and the rest of your fingers to tap on without missing its target. Check out University of Alabama’s mobile homepage. It contains big and well-labeled links to various segments of the university’s content.

uni-alabama  The University of Alabama’s (ua.edu) mobile vs. desktop web

A Conspicuous Search Box on the Homepage. You need to reduce the amount of content published on your mobile web. You will also need to reduce the number of links that, on the desktop website, help your users navigate the site. To compensate for the reduced navigation links and retain the user experience (UX), a search box is crucial in a mobile website. And this search box should sit in a prominent location on the mobile web’s homepage. Agoda.com’s mobile site allows its users to search for hotels based on destinations – be it country (America), city (Georgetown), airport (Heathrow), area (Sukhumvit Bangkok) or landmark (Great Wall). That’s it. Whereas, Agoda’s desktop site, in addition to having a search, has a full set of navigational links to help users easily browse and sort through various hotels via destination, price, star rating, facilities and etc.

agoda Agoda.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

White Space, White Space, White Space. White space is NOT wasted space. It is a significant design consideration on both mobile and desktop websites because it helps an element in the site stand out from the next. It makes it easy for the user to differentiate a piece of content from another. And if used correctly, white space creates elegance in the site. CNN.com is very good in using white space to separate its content-rich desktop and mobile websites. Content, links and advertisements are clearly and nicely separated and easily distinguishable.

cnn

CNN.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

Color Contrast for Crystal Clear Visuals. Foreground and background colors must have good contrast with each other so users can view your content without needing to squint their eyes. Of course both colors must complement each other. Use your favorite online color contrast checker to see if your colors provide enough contrast when seen by a person with color deficiencies. I love the color contrast shown in ProductiveDreams.com’s mobile web. The white text on dark brown background offers a very clear visual of the content. Their social media buttons are bordered by the same dark brown hue before being plugged into an orange background, while the white search textbox on the same orange background provides a solid-enough color contrast.

productive-dreams

ProductiveDreams.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

High-Speed Page Loading. Let’s face it; users want their mobile sites to load fast. The majority is on a limited data plan, so your mobile web app had better load fast and not drain their limited and precious bytes. The culprit behind slow and large page loads is images. If diminishes the UX. If you can’t get rid of all the images, at least limit it to the homepage and headers only. A great example is VirginAustralia’s mobile web. The homepage contains only a series of eye-catching images in a slider, as well as their logo in the header. The rest of the pages are just relevant text-only content that are beautifully laid out and does not contain a single image.

virgin-aust

 VirginAustralia.com’s mobile vs. desktop web

Minimize Text Entries If You Can. Again, the problem with fat fingers. Typos that lead to frustrations, and the eventual fear of using the mobile website. Minimizing text entries doesn’t only apply to mobile sites. Desktop web apps also benefit from a good UI design that minimizes the amount of typing. Look at VirginAustralia.com’s mobile and desktop booking sites that use dropdowns, checkboxes and number spinners – a no brainer but you still see a lot of designers overlooking this design criterion.

virgin-aust-book VirginAustralia.com’s mobile web booking vs. that of the desktop web

Minimizing text entries does not apply to every site. If you are designing a salesforce app, no matter what you do, somebody’s got to key in a new customer profile and that’s really a pain in the neck to perform with a smartphone. These kinds of text-entry-intensive apps will do a lot better on tablets or phablets with a bigger screen.

Device Orientation Matters. Design your mobile app for portrait mode. Otherwise, users will have a hard time holding on to the phone. You wouldn’t want them to drop the phone into the toilet bowl while trying to surf your landscape-oriented site, would you? But of course, no web designer worth their salt is senseless enough to design a portrait-based mobile web, unless it’s a game.

Test on Different Platforms and Screen Sizes. Test your mobile web design on major mobile platforms, brands and screen sizes. Test your mobile website on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry 10. For iOS, test your design on the iPhone and iPad. For Android, get at least two different brands of Android smartphones, one Android phablet and one Android tablet. And for each phone, phablet and tablet, test the design on different browsers – Chrome, Firefox, Opera – in addition to testing on the native browser that comes with the phone platform.  You will be surprised to find your mobile web not showing well or breaking on some browsers simply because each browser brand has a different level of HTML5 support as of today.

Sources for this article:
http://techtwitt.com/10-guidelines-for-user-friendly-mobile-website-design/2239

 

2 Reasons Tizen is Crucial to Samsung’s Continued Success

Samsung may be selling its Galaxy S phones and Galaxy tabs to the world, but it is making zilch in China and the company is not happy about it.

Differentiation in China. China wants Internet censorship. Google doesn’t want to be evil. So, Google’s trouble with China ended up with the former’s celebrated mobile platform – Android – being out of control in the country.

Lots of phone manufacturers in China use Android because it’s open source and free. However, most of Google’s services like Search, Gmail and YouTube are blocked there. So, China’s device makers have removed most, if not all, of Google’s apps and features from the Android platform, and replaced them with apps from Chinese software companies, the most common being Baidu’s search engine that took the place of Google Search.

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Enterprise Apps and HTML5: A Marriage Made in Heaven

HTML5 is now set for prime time, at least to enterprises wanting to build B2B mobile apps for their employees and business associates. Organizations eager to develop rich, mobile apps do not have to agonize over investing heavily on resources needed to build these apps natively on the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone. The current state of HTML5 is ideal for the mobile web, and companies can tap their existing pool of talent to build rich, web-based mobile apps based on this technology.

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How to Color Your In-App Purchase Button for Your Target Users

An effective Call-to-Action (CTA) button relies on four crucial criteria – Placement, Shape, Message and Color. Assuming we have great button placement, the perfect button shape and a hard-to-resist CTA message embedded in our button. How should we color the button? In this article, we consider an app’s CTA button – the in-app purchase button – and how we can customize its color to charm your target users, be it mainly men, mainly women, both genders, or kids.

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2013: The Year Mobile Apps Surpass That Of Desktop Apps

Software developers are fast turning from desktop applications to mobile apps. A survey conducted by Appcelerator indicates that smaller companies find investing in mobile app development to be financially more feasible than investing in developing desktop apps. Furthermore, investing in stock market is also recommended for the growth of your money. Visit Share Prices Australia now to have an investment. Out of all the software enterprise leaders who took part in the survey, 87% opined that software development priorities are shifting over to the mobile sector.
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5 Reasons Why Your App Needs A Sexy Icon

Should we judge a book by its cover? Of course not, but we app users are fond of doing just that. Apps with stunning icons secure a second or third glance from us. They gain clicks and are downloaded. Call us shallow, but we equate a great-looking app icon with an equally wonderful app. That’s why app developers should give each of their apps a professional-looking icon.
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