Author: Keval Padia

Beginners guide to JSON Web Tokens(JWT) in 2020

I am sure you must have googled JSON web tokens (JWT) and skimmed through numerous articles before coming to our space. With the information available online, you would have a perception that JWT is a key element of modern authentication and authorization frameworks like OAuth and OpenID. Though JWT is used in OAuth and OpenID, it is not a part of these frame works. Secondly, its applications exceed authorization and authentication workflows. In this feature, we are going to give you a brief yet well-rounded overview of JWT and its features.

What is JWT?

A JSON web token(JWT) is a JSON object primarily used for secure data transfer over the web. It is ideally suited for information exchange and also an authentication system. The JWT token mainly comprises a header, payload and a signature. All three parts are separated by dots (.). JWT identifies the architecture of information we are transferring between two parties and it comes in two types – Serialized and Deserialized. 

A serialized method is principally used to exchange data through a network with each request and response. Whereas, the deserialized method is used to read/write data to the web token. A JWT in the deserialized type contains a header and payload only and both are plain JSON objects.

Why should you be using JWTs?

JSON web token(JWT) is a fabulous technology for API authentication and server to server authorization. However, it may not be good for sessions. For better understanding, it is important to compare JWT with Simple Web Tokens (SWT) and Security Assertion Markup Language Tokens (SAML).

JSON is less tedious than XML and hence its size is smaller and makes JWT compact than SAML. Hence, JWT is a better choice to be passed in HTML and HTTP environments.

In terms of Security, Single Web Token(SWT) can only be signed by a common secret using the HMAC algorithm. Moreover,  JWT and SAML tokens can use a public/private key pair for signing. Signing XML with XML digital signature with security gaps is extremely difficult compared to the ease of signing using JSON.

JSON parsers is a familiar concept in most programming languages as they map directly to objects. Alternatively, XML doesn’t have a natural document-to-object mapping which makes it easier to work with JWT over SAML assertions.

When we talk about usage, JWT is used mostly at the Internet scale. This emphasizes the ease of client-side processing of the JSON web token on various platforms, particularly mobile.

How should you use JWT?

In this section, let us discuss the cases in which JWTs can be your best bet. When you are building API services which require a server-to-server or client-to-server (imagine a mobile app or single page app (SPA)) communication, JWTs can be used as your API tokens. 

By doing that :

  • You will get an authentication API which a client authenticates against to get a JWT in return.
  • Clients will use this JWT to send authenticated requests to other API services.
  • The rest API services use the client’s JWT to validate and verify the client and can perform a task without having to perform a network validation.

It is advisable to use JWTs when using these types of API services as clients would make frequent requests with a limited scope and authentication data can be persisted without creating a dependency on user data.

When you are building a service where there will be three or more parties, JWTs can come handy. In this peculiar case, the requesting party will get a token to verify their identity and can pass it forward without requiring a real-time validation at each stage.

JWTs enable cryptographic signing and hence make a remarkable addition to federated user protocols. The concept is that when you are using federation (an example – Sign-on and OpenID Connect), JWTs will be important since you require a way to validate a user’s identity through a third party.

Wrapping Up

While building your next website, you can simply rely on your web framework’s default authentication tools and libraries and stop trying to facilitate JWTs unreasonably. However, if your goal is web security and everything else in the authentication spectrum, you are better off to partner with Nimblechapps. Do let us know if you would like to read more content on network security.

6 Best Learning Management Systems in 2020

The online learning model is going through tremendous growth, expected to pass a value of $325 billion by 2025. Due to Covid-19 pandemic and people staying at home, online learning is becoming a go to solution for educational institutions. Online learning has resulted in flexibility and ease of learning/training for faculty and students alike. Educators can now teach curriculum from around the world and students can learn anywhere in the world at any time. For this, it is important to have an efficient Learning Management System (LMS).

Companies around the world are now utilising the benefits of online learning to allocate work to remote teams, train employees for different functions, monitoring, compliance and much more. Moreover, vloggers and Youtubers are using digital learning platforms to impart knowledge to users globally. We know it is difficult to find the best LMS for your business. However, we have done all the hard work for you and made a list of best LMS for you. Let us check out some of the best Learning Management Systems in the world:

Moodle

Moodle is a free software to assist you in creating your online learning platform in a short time. The software is powered with different attributes, instructions, examination and reporting modules. The LMS platform can accommodate both totally online and mixed learning environments. It is very simple to access course material globally as Moodle comes with a cloud hosted solution. You can easily get a free version of Moodle for your first online learning platform. There are multiple communities for support and bug fixes, however you can also buy a paid version of $80 per year to get complete assistance. It is easy to customise user roles and processes as per your requirements and private server hosting to ensure security. Moodle supports only Android and Windows, so you might miss out on iOS users.

JoomlaLMS

JoomlaLMS is a great option for businesses looking for an economically viable and capable LMS. It is powered with a multi-language platform and can be customized for ease of use. Joomla provides multiple in-built user groups, roles and group management, plus personalised learner profiles. Moreover, you can import/export user lists and have access to features for enrollment and registration. The best part, you can get a 30 day free trial to enable you to make an informed choice. The paid plan starts from as low as $37/month and you can also opt for the Enterprise plan which can be customised as per your needs.                                            

TalentLMS

If you are looking for an unambiguous and user-friendly software, TalentLMS is the perfect choice for your business. To enable online learning, TalentLMS offers you a ready-made solution where you can sign-up and add courses instantly. Moreover, you can also add video-conferencing tools like Zoom to add to your program to enable virtual learning. The best feature is the Assessment Engine as it allows you to evaluate the progress of students with multiple exams and analyse results through different data reports.What this means, you have full control of content and management. Also, it is great to monetise your courses via Paypal. It is best to go for a free trial to get used to the system. In future, you can also get customisable pricing plans as per your business requirements.

Blackboard

Blackboard is one of the most premium LMS in the world, best for customisation. With Blackboard, you are able to design and manage elearning. It is easy to deliver exams and results and enhance the system based on your requirements using Blackboard Building Blocks. Additionally, you can also use Blackboard’s analytics, collaboration tools and broadcast notification system. Blackboard also offers you an option to have self hosted, managed hosted or cloud based SaaS configuration for your program. It is extremely useful to provide a Student Information System where students can access all information at once. The best part, Blackboard enables an excellent user experience without the requirement of taking the system down for maintenance. Unfortunately, there are no free trials and pricing plans are available on request tailored to your needs.

Mindflash

During COVID-19 global crisis, many organisations are working remotely and Mindflash is the best LMS for managing a remote workplace. Mindflash has a lot of big clients in their kitty, like Microsoft and Apple Inc. The cloud based setup allows businesses to train employees, managers, customers and partners. Mindflash has the simplest user interface beneficial for users to enter/ exit the system seamlessly. The dashboard is equipped with a huge white space, fairly visible tabs and super functional search bar. However, the drawback lies in the lack of social media features and gamification. Mindflash doesn’t come with a free plan and pricing is given on request basis only.

LearnDash

LearnDash is the best bet for businesses with a WordPress website as it has a dedicated WordPress LMS plugin. It is relatively easy to publish an online curriculum with LearnDash LMS. The LearnDash LMS enables businesses to offer paid courses to access online learning in multiple ways. Also, you can use the extensive library of official and third party add-ons with other integration options to use extra features. LearnDash being a cloud software, enables businesses to upload unlimited courses online. For beginners it is extremely easy to use the drag and drop feature to create and manage your online course content. The LearnDash LMS software starts from $159/year to $329/year which is quite reasonable.

In conclusion, we would like to say that the features of LMS may be different but most softwares work in the same way. It is best to use an LMS Software that serves your business requirements and future goals. If you wish to get more information or need to develop your online learning platform, you can contact Nimblechapps Ltd – a mobile app development company. We will keep writing more interesting articles every week to engage and educate our readers.

Amazfit T-Rex by Huami: The Smartwatch with a rugged look

We have to confess the fact that a watch being called the “T-Rex” was a deciding factor to check it out. Who wouldn’t want to say they have a T-Rex on their hand? Pretty cool, right? Even better, was Huami’s assertion about its battery life and the T-Rex doesn’t disappoint. The Amazfit watches and wearables are made by Huami, the company responsible for making Mi bands. With products like Amazfit T-Rex, the future of wearables is looking bright.

The Amazfit T-Rex is Huami’s first sturdy smartwatch at under $140, a perfect reply to competitors like Garmin. However, this comes with a couple of advanced features. The look and feel of the Amazfit T-Rex is pretty similar to Casio’s G Shock, only this is a smartwatch. 

Amazfit T-Rex Design

The Amazfit T-Rex is a rugged smartwatch, staying true to its name. This smartwatch is not for anyone with a small wrist, but it gives that macho feeling at this price. It comes with enormous bezels and stark lines across the case and its strap. The T-Rex is a relatively lightweight smartwatch at 56.7 grams. However, smartwatch weight is just a relative concept.

The watch case is plastic and boasts four buttons: up, down, back and select. This particular watch case design enables an excellent battery life. The Amazfit T-Rex can run for 20 full days on single charge with normal use and full 20 hours with GPS use.

Amazfit T-Rex Specifications

The display of Amazfit T-Rex has made up for the lacking slightly cheap hardware. The T-Rex has a 1.3 inch AMOLED display panel covered in Gorilla Glass 3, amazing right? It is best to have an automatic brightness turned on with this smartwatch and it will adapt accordingly. The Amazfit T-Rex has got a MIL-STD-810G durability rating and 5 ATM water resistance capacity, enabling it to endure anything thrown at it with relatable ease. 

Usually, smartwatches and fitness trackers above $200 level have IP67 or 68 rating, while many don’t have a durability rating. Huami mentioned that it has 12 military certifications which allows the watch to work between minus 40 to 70 degree celsius. The Colours reflect the rugged exterior too. This Amazfit smartwatch is available in Army Green, Khaki, Camouflage green, Rock Black and Gun Gray. 

Amazfit T-Rex : The Good and Bad

The Amazfit T-Rex has features like GPS, optical heart rate monitor and almost everything that you might expect from a smartwatch. The battery capacity of 390mAh isn’t noteworthy and is charged with a magnetic pogo-pin cable like other smartwatches. If you are buying the Amazfit T-Rex, you will just need to charge once or twice a month depending on usage. It is so convenient that you don’t have to take it off often, it feels great not to think about charging one more device.

The Amazfit T- Rex uses its own Amazfit OS, rather than using battery sucking WearOS.  If you have been using the Apple Watch or a smartwatch with WearOS, it will be difficult to adjust to the Amazfit T-Rex. As, you are stuck with 20 plus preloaded watch faces which are non customizable and only a few watch faces include important updates like Weather.

The software of Amazfit T-Rex is pretty basic. It has trackable activities like walking, running, cycling, swimming, climbing, elliptical etc. It is easy to access your workouts but it will take a whole lot of button presses. The major drawback is that you will have to depend on the Android or iOS app to configure with limited options on the watch itself. It would be a crime to call Amazfit’s software an advanced smartwatch OS, however it does the job in terms of excellent battery life. This is a noteworthy feature for some people though it would be a disappointment  for Apple or Samsung smartwatch users. 

Who should buy Amazfit T-Rex?

It is worth noting that if you are looking to get a decent smartwatch with G-Shock like design a very appealing battery life and not dependent on WearOS then the Amazfit T-Rex is your best bet. It is available on Amazon for $139.99 and is made available in India starting from INR 9,999. If you would like to read more about technology and gadgets, please subscribe to our blog for latest updates.

 

Top 5 Smart Speakers to lookout for in 2020

The top smart speakers of 2020 are the most hard working gadget ever as it not only plays our favourite music, it also helps to control our smart home devices and comes with our favourite virtual assistant always ready to solve our questions. These voice assistants have literally taken over our homes by playing our music, ready to answer our questions, tell us about the news and weather updates etc. 

Apple, Google and Amazon all make efficient smart speakers and their rivalry has made this segment quite appealing. Amazon has been a pioneer in smart speakers with the advent of the original Echo and virtual assistant Alexa. Today there is a diverse range of smart speakers available from different companies each with their own set of pros and cons. If you are confused about making the best choice, allow us to lead you to the right choice.

Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation)

It is insanely difficult to choose the best speaker these days as customers are spoilt with the number of choices available. Amazon and Google both have proficient smart speakers that are economically viable. If you do not wish to deal with the humdrum of the category and just wish to try out your first smart speaker, you should go for 3rd generation Amazon Echo Dot. It has been noted that Amazon’s voice assistant has more abilities than Siri or Google Assistant. You would be pleasantly surprised that the third generation Amazon smart speaker looks and sounds much better than its predecessors and yet costs only 50 USD. That being said, you do sacrifice some sound quality for this price. However, it can easily add value as it plugs into your own speakers.

Sonos One

Sonos one priced at USD 200 enables you to pair two play stereo sound but even one speaker sounds good to play a wide range of music categories and costs much less than premium quality smart speakers like Google Home Max and Apple HomePod. Sonos One comes with both Alexa and Google Voice Assistant built in which you can simply choose during set up or you can control with Siri. You can choose between top three voice assistants from Apple, Amazon and Google at this price which is tough to beat.

Apple HomePod

If you are looking for the best sound quality overall, Apple HomePod is your best bet to play your favourite music. The sound quality is at par with similarly priced Google Home Max and way better than that of Sonos One. There are some limitations to using an Apple HomePod as you can only play music from Apple Music using a voice command. Unfortunately, you will not have the option to stream your Spotify playlist. This shouldn’t be news to Apple users who have already spent a good chunk of money in Apple products and are just looking for premium sound quality. 

Google Nest Mini

Amazon was the undisputed leader in the smart speaker segment however, Google has done a remarkable job with its digital assistant sound. The Google Assistant is now at par with Alexa and hence 50 USD for a Google Nest Mini is a steal. The Google Nest Mini also works better with your other smart home devices if you are unable to remember the exact name of the devices. Moreover, Google Assistant can distinguish different voices and hence it is a good choice if used by multiple people. Google has the expertise in assistant intelligence and hence Google Nest Mini is an ultimate option at a giveaway price.

Amazon Echo Plus

Alexa and Google Assistant are compatible with most of the devices and help you command them easily. As mentioned above, Google Assistant is better than Alexa but Alexa works with more smart home devices. Alexa is actually smart at sending you notifications if your smart speaker hears glass breaking or detects smoke. The Echo Plus has a great sound and smart-home hub built in so it is easy to sync other devices rather than buying new ones.

Finally, these are the five best smart speakers of 2020 according to us. There are other smart speakers available in the market with built in Alexa or Google Assistant. If you are still confused, we would recommend you to figure out which platforms and functionalities you like. This will enable you to make your choice easy. 

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