Mobile App satisfaction vs Monetisation

A cauldron with money

Monetising Apps with Advertising

According to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index, Facebook has suffered a significant drop in customer satisfaction, and is now close to the bottom of the heap, along with Linked in.

The drop in satisfaction ratings may be related to the level of advertising on the sites. Google+ for example, lost ground last year, but appears to have recovered some ground;

“A sharp increase in search engine advertising contributed to a drop in user satisfaction last year, but Google’s latest change to the way ads are labeled, along with its focus on the mobile user experience, may be steps in the right direction,” said [ACSI director] VanAmburg

If there is no in-app or web site advertising, sites and iPhone apps and Android apps which rely on advertising for revenue wouldn’t make any money – but the satisfaction surveys are a warning to businesses which rely on advertising revenue, not to push the envelope too hard. Because there is always a competitor eager to offer your customers a better user experience.

Who wants their picture in iPhone App Store?

Mirror Mirror Logo

Mirror Mirror – new iPhone App

Who wants their picture in iPhone App Store?

I’m about to release a new iPhone app – Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror is an incredibly simple app – all it does is turn the iPhone into a makeup mirror.

Unlike the iPhone selfie camera, which swaps left and right, Mirror Mirror behaves like a real mirror – left is left, and right is right.

I need to create 4 screenshots to promote the app. But this is a challenge – the app is so simple, its just a mirror.

So here’s my idea – if anyone wants to volunteer a selfie, and it isn’t too outrageous, it goes into the app. First 4 selfies I like.
Please hold the phone at arms length, with a simple background (like a white plaster wall) – I need to resize the image to fit all the different formats app store requires.

Please post selfie pictures to Queensland Mobile App Developers – I should be able to use the Facebook copy of your selfie image, but if this doesn’t work out, I’ll send you an address so you can email me a copy.

When (hopefully!) Apple approves Mirror Mirror, I’ll post a link to the app store listing, so you can show your friends a picture of yourself, in app store, on the promotion page of a real iPhone app.

Amazon Cognito – A New Server for iPhone and Android Apps

Amazon have just announced Amazon Cognito – a new server technology for rapid development of Mobile App Servers.

Servers are a common feature of iPhone Apps and Android Apps. In its simplest form, a mobile app server allows apps to share data. Although iPhone Apps and Android Apps have access to the internet, they can’t talk directly to another copy of the same app on a different phone, except in special circumstances (e.g. if both apps are on the same WIFI network). There are various technical reasons for this, though one of the most important is the apps simply can’t find each other.

Instead, iPhone Apps and Android Apps use their internet access to contact a server, at a known internet address, which relays messages between different phones.

Amazon Cognito aims to simplify this process, by reducing the effort required to create new app servers. Instead of having to write variations of the same server code again and again, apps which need to share data can link up to Amazon Cognito, with minimal bespoke server code and server configuration.

Contact me if you would like to find out more about how Amazon Cognito could simplify the design and cut the cost of your next iPhone App or Android App.

iPhone 6 – Tougher than Ever?

According to The Register, a science and technology news site, the upcoming iPhone 6 display screen will be almost unbreakable.

The article features a video of someone trying to damage an iPhone 6 screen with a large knife – with no success.

This effort to make the new iPhone indestructible is welcome news for techies like me, whose pockets are always overstuffed with phones, keys, and various technological marvels grinding against each other like rocks in an industrial crushing machine.

I’ll still probably get a shock proof case for my new iPhone 6 though, when I finally get my hands on a new iPhone 6 – its one thing to be impressed by claims of durability, quite another to take risks with my precious new tech toy.

An Amazingly Simple, Successful iPhone App

Yo Author Or Arbel

Yo Author Or Arbel

Yo, an iPhone App which was written in 8 hours, has changed the life of its creator.

Yo allows the user to send a single word “Yo” to a recipient who also has the Yo iPhone app installed.

Thats it. I mean, how simple can an iPhone app be?

Yet this insanely simple app has taken the world by storm. 100s of reviews, thousands of downloads, an app phenomenon.

On the strength of this 8 hour effort, the inventor has moved halfway round the world to America, raised a million dollars in venture capital project funding, and is now hiring staff to progress his ideas.

Yo was apparently inspired by the author’s old boss, who wanted a push button app to summon employees to his office.

The first version of the app was released on April Fools Day.

The first attempt by the author to release “Yo” was rejected by App Store – they thought the app was unfinished.

As an app developer, its a serious kicking myself moment – I could have written this iPhone app in my sleep. But it never occurred to me to write it.

And thats the point – the author, Or Arbel, thought of it first. He didn’t sit on his idea, he got on with it. And thanks to that, he’s now a million dollars better off.

Perhaps Yo iPhone App is a fad. I mean, how often can people send the word “Yo” to each other before it gets boring? But this fad has given the author a million dollars worth of opportunities to change his life. And who knows – by the time people get tired of “Yo”, Mr Arbel may have written the “Hey” iPhone app…

Apple Announces new mobile OS for iPhone Apps

Apple has just announced iOS 8 – a feature rich upgrade to their mobile device operating system.

For mobile app development, iOS 8 provides exciting new features which can be incorporated into new or upgraded app.

The most interesting changes appear to be to iPhone app camera and photo editing capabilities – Apple have announced a new framework called “PhotoKit”, which allows apps to use built-in and third party photo editing filters, with minimal effort.

In addition, Apple appear to be embracing third party provision of iPhone App extensions.

Up until now, iPhone Apps, unlike Android Apps, have mostly lived in a world of their own. While in theory apps can call each other and pass information via Apple’s Custom URL Scheme, in practice very few iPhone Apps have taken full advantage of this feature, except for apps in the same suite, produced by the same developer or app client.

Apple’s iPhone App document scheme, which allows iPhone Apps to advertise that they have the capability to open specific types of document, has seen more use, but this feature, while very useful, requires that an iPhone App surrender control to another iPhone App – not a paradigm which is conducive to a smooth, seamless user experience.

Apple also have a little known method of advertising social media sharing capability – if you have a brand new social media site, and you want your system to appear in the list, when someone clicks the “share” button, Apple provides a means by which your iPhone App can advertise its availability. But this is a fairly esoteric feature, which I have rarely seen in the wild.

With iOS 8, Apple appears to be experimenting with third party provision of seamless iPhone App extensions, specifically third party photo filters, functionality which can be embedded inside an app, without the need for surrendering control to other apps in order to use it.

We look forward to development of this new and exciting feature set in the Apple iPhone App space.

Apple have also announced a new iPhone app development language called “Swift”. As a developer, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this new language, and having a play, but at this stage I don’t think the new language will have much impact on app development, from a client perspective.

Why Create iPhone, Android Apps on the Fraser Coast?

Working hard on iPhone apps and Android Apps

Developing Mobile Apps in Paradise

This post is a little different to what I normally write.

Every country wants to create its own answer to Silicon Valley – an amazingly small area of America in which is the source of much of the world’s creative technology.

Desirable Apps and The Apps Nursery thinks we have found a place which has the potential to be Australia’s Silicon Valley – Australia’s Fraser Coast.

The advantages of developing iPhone apps and Android apps on the Fraser Coast are:

  • A beach – anywhere which wants to attract talent has to have an awesome amenity. The Fraser Coast has one of the best beaches in Australia.
  • Year round warm weather – “winter” here is a few cold weeks in July.
  • A major University. The locals worry that their children who attend University have to relocate to pursue their profession. A local technology hub could change all that.
  • Affordable housing and business conference spaces – very important for startup business working on a shoestring
  • Adequate internet infrastructure. OK, this could be better – but you can get a decent mobile internet signal on the esplanade, and home WIFI is good enough to have a Skype video chat.
  • A terrific environment for children and young families – great schools, lots of parks, a safe, child friendly environment.
  • Excellent transport links to the rest of Australia, thanks to the Fraser Coast’s existing tourist industry.

The Fraser Coast, as far as we can tell, has all the essential ingredients to be a world class technology hub. The one thing missing is the spark – the belief that it can be done. We are hoping Desirable Apps can change all that.

Fraser Coast Opportunities created a write up of our business recently, in which we mentioned our vision of the potential of the Fraser Coast. Hopefully this is an idea which will take root and flourish.

Talking to your Android and iPhone Mobile Apps

talkingToPhone


Apple iPhone App Developers are all waiting with baited breath for Apple to allow open access to their SIRI engine, Apple’s engine for understanding spoken communication. As of the last time I checked (about 5 minutes ago), Apple does not allow Apps to start SIRI – so users can choose to say fill a text field with SIRI, but the app cannot start SIRI on behalf of the user.

Android has a voice recognition window which an app can open – but it is not really under the control of the app. The Android app can request that the Android phone or tablet present a window which accepts voice, then when the user indicates they have finished speaking, Android passes control back to the app, which can analyse the result of the voice recognition effort.

Neither of these options is “natural” – both the iPhone and Android option are in my opinion clunky, they require the user to take positive action to restore control back to the app.

If your iPhone app or Android app needs hands free voice control, the app needs to be able to initiate voice recognition, detect when someone is speaking, and process the voice to determine what was said, independent of whether the user presses a button.

Thankfully, third party service providers have filled this gap.

My favourite is Dragon Mobile. Dragon Mobile SDK is provided by the same company which publishes Dragon Speech, the legendary desktop PC speech recognition application, Nuance. Nuance has been in the game for over a decade – from somewhat humble beginnings, their product has developed into a sophisticated and reliable speech recognition system, a remarkable achievement in artificial intelligence.

The only downside of Dragon is it relies on an Internet connection. The processing power required to recognise and interpret normal spoken sentences is far greater than an Android App or iPhone app can deploy, so Dragon SDK ships the compressed sound files via the Internet to their servers.

What is the Internet bandwidth is an issue? There are still options. An Android App or iPhone app does not have the processing power to interpret any arbitrary spoken sentence, but it does have the processing power to recognise individual words. So if your iPhone app or Android app only has to recognise a handful of words, such as “yes”, “no”, and “maybe”, then the processing power for this simplified task can be comfortably accommodated without an internet connection to an external server.

If you are interested in Android Apps or iPhone Apps which can recognise speech, or which can read text from images (optical character recognition), please email eworrall1@gmail.com, to discuss your requirements.

Announcing PDF Write

Announcing PDF Write – a new FREE iPhone app which allows users to easily create simple single page PDF documents using photos, text and a library of funny cartoon pics.

PDF Write was designed with ease of use in mind – so while it lacks some of the features of more advanced PDF editors, It makes up for it by being really easy to use. Double tap the screen to add new text of images, or touch one of the buttons. Then when you are ready to share the PDF, simply press the send button, to see a simple list of options.

Give it a try, let me know what you think – either leave a comment, or send me an email.

Can my iPhone app or Android app run Microsoft .NET Components?

The answer, surprisingly, is a qualified “yes”.

iPhone Apps and Android Apps execute in a Unix like environment – both are based on BSD Unix.

BSD is very like its better known cousin Linux, except that the license terms for BSD make it easier to customise – unlike Linux, with BSD you don’t have to make your modified source code public domain.

And .NET components can run on Unix (i.e. iPhone app and Android app environments), by using the Mono framework.

There are a few gotchas. Mono components will run slower than native components, and consume more memory – which can be an issue on memory constrained devices like mobile phones. So I would recommend against writing an entire app in Microsoft C#. In addition, some features won’t be wired up out of the box, so if you want to display a .NET XAML component on your iPhone app screen, you can look forward to a great deal of work.

But if you want to say create a native iPhone App or Android App, but embed a Microsoft .NET communication client component for talking to your backend system, then an embedded Mono system could provide a labour saving solution to your needs.

Mono also works on Linux servers – ASP.NET components can in many cases be run immediately after a Mono environment is installed on an Apache Linux system.

If you would like to know more about running Microsoft components in an iPhone app or Android app, please leave a comment, or contact Eric Worrall.