Category Archives: Mobile Development

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Avoiding Mobile App Store Rejection

What to do if your mobile app is rejected by App Store.

What to do if your mobile app is rejected by App Store.

The dreaded rejection – you’ve commissioned your mobile app, developed it, tested it, then Apple rejects your creation – because you inadvertently violated one of their rules.

It happens – rejection is never pleasant. I’ve personally dealt with mobile app rejection on several occasions, in all cases at no additional cost to the client. A lot of the time the rejection occurs because the reviewer misunderstood app functionality – on more than one occasion I’ve negotiated a solution which did not require any change to the app functionality. In other cases, a minor change to functionality is required, to bring the app into compliance. Sometimes an app is rejected because of a malfunction – in which case the reviewer is doing you a favour, helping you to discover and correct a mistake, before your app receives negative reviews from the public.

Venture Beat News has written an excellent article providing 5 tips to avoid rejection.

1. Test, test, and test.
In every scenario for successful app submission, it all boils down to testing app performance and user experience. From bugs to crashes, the list of app rejection reasons is ridiculously long. The recent Forrester report on mobile app testing confirms that “successful app testing requires real devices rather than emulators; many development teams have learned this the hard way.” Engaging, high-quality apps can do wonders for your brand reputation, while poor-quality apps turn off even the most loyal customers. So do yourself a big favor. When you have built and tested your app to absolute perfection… test it again!

2. Plan for patience
Possibly the most frustrating aspect of app store submission is the time it takes to review. The inconsistency can be particularly maddening. The Apple App Store review process can take as few as 4 days, as many as 14, or anywhere in between. And that’s if your app gets accepted the first time. Google Play doesn’t take as long, but patience is still a virtue here. Unless you have an app store reviewer on your payroll, it’s a very good idea to plan for a lengthy review process, and hope for the best.

3. Understand the submission fields ahead of time
Submitting your app requires you to fill out a lot of information, and neglecting this step until the last minute has caused a review delay for many an app. Be sure to research all the fields you’ll fill out (app description, categories, keywords, copyright, screen shots, etc.) and get a good head start before you’re ready to submit, and eliminate this avoidable delay.

4. Monitor the latest app store updates
Apple has an annoying habit of changing their acceptance rules frequently, especially after new OS releases. This can easily lead to a lot of app rejection headaches, so it is important to have someone keep on top of the latest updates. Ensure that someone on your team is continually familiar with the Apple Store and Google Play submission rules, and save yourself some hair.

5. Create your own app store
Unlike individual developers, companies don’t necessarily have to subject themselves to the verdicts of the mobile elite. Enterprise app stores are a growing trend in today’s mobile world, as companies are finding the capability to host and distribute their apps internally. If you have the right cloud platform, this is a great way to make life easier, both for yourself and your end users.

Read More…

If you would like more information on how to avoid having your newly developed mobile app rejected by mobile app store review, and what to do about it if your receive the dreaded rejection notice, please Contact Me.

Apple iPhone overtakes Android

Apple iPhone has taken the lead in new handset shipments.

Apple iPhone has taken the lead in new handset shipments.

The release of Apple iPhone 6, a substantial improvement on previous models, has for now given Apple the edge in the mobile handset wars, for the first time since 2012.

According to AppAdvice:

Apple is now the top smartphone provider in the United States for the first time since the end of 2012. During the holiday quarter, Apple was responsible for 47.7 percent of all smartphones shipped. This compared to 47.6 percent for Android-based devices, 3.8 percent for Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and just 0.3 percent for BlackBerry, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Between October and December 2014, the iPhone 6 was the top selling smartphone in the U.S., and also the most popular smartphone to give as a gift. Though not specifically addressed, we assume that Kantar included both iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus shipments in the company’s analysis. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 was ranked No. 2.

One year ago, Android-based devices accounted for 50.6 percent of smartphone shipments in the U.S. At the time, iOS took 43.9 percent.

It is regularly claimed that iPhone apps make more revenue than Android apps, despite the fact there are more Android handsets in circulation. This seems to match my experience – perhaps on average, if you can afford an iPhone, you have more disposable income to spend on mobile apps. If Apple can maintain their lead over Android, this will also give them a handset advantage – an utterly compelling lead in the mobile handset world.

If you would like to discuss strategies for multi-platform mobile app development, the best order in which to deploy your multi-platform mobile product, please Contact me now

Trivia Crack – One of the most profitable mobile apps

Trivia Crack - a simple idea which has taken the mobile app game world by storm.

Trivia Crack – a simple idea which has taken the mobile app game world by storm.

When you think of blockbuster mobile app games, you normally think of huge hollywood budgets, million dollar special effects and 10s of thousands of hours of mobile app development effort.

The reality is, some of the biggest iPhone Apps and Android Apps are nothing of the sort – they are simple ideas which caught on, earning a fortune for their creators.

One of the biggest games to date is Trivia Crack – a mobile app based on the old favourite Trivial Pursuit.

According to Venture Beat

After catching on big time in the U.S. and Canada, Trivia Crack has expanded to countries like U.K. — and this is helping fuel its domination of the mobile app markets.

Trivia Crack is the top downloaded game on mobile in the world, according to developer Etermax and industry-tracking firm App Annie. Since its debut, this app has racked up more than 125 million downloads worldwide. It has also managed to reach the No. 1 spot on the overall app download chart in important countries like the United States and Canada. With mobile gaming revenue reaching $25 billion in 2014, Etermax carved out a piece of that for itself by appealing to casual players with a trivia app that hooks heavily into social media.

Trivia Crack pits players against their friends in a Trivial Pursuit-style quest of knowledge. It already has over 200,000 unique questions, and — thanks to its players — it gets 2,000 new questions every day.

Important Lessons

There are some important lessons we can learn from the success of the Trivia Crack game.

  1. The use of social media – friends challenge each other via social media, which helps to propel the explosive growth of app users
  2. The enlistment of users to supply new questions – these guys don’t even have to think up new questions themselves, they get their users to do it for free.
  3. Simplicity – the game doesn’t pack in every imaginable feature, or heavy servings of Hollywood Glitz, it is just Trivial Pursuit, with a few adaptions to make it more attractive in a mobile app environment.

If you have an idea for developing an iPhone App Game or Android App Game, and you are worried that your idea is too simple to work – please don’t let that stop you. Because when appealing to mobile users who are snatching a few few seconds from their busy schedule, simple is good. And if users like your idea, you could have a runaway success on your hands.

Contact Me to discuss your mobile app development idea now.

Why Mobile App Developers avoid Adobe Flash

Another week, another gaping security hole in Adobe Flash.

Up until a few years ago, if you wanted to animate a website, and create a slick dynamic presentation, you used Adobe Flash. Flash even made inroads into mobile app development – for a time it seemed likely that Adobe Flash would become the defacto cross platform environment for mobile app development.

A relentless string of security embarrassments, defects which allow malicious websites to plant viruses on the computers of users who view the websites, has dramatically damaged the popularity of Flash. The seeming inability of Adobe to secure their Flash product is an ongoing disaster, which will almost certainly lead to the demise of Adobe Flash as a web standard.

The downfall of Adobe Flash, in my opinion, began in 2009. Steve Jobs, the legendary CEO of Apple Corporation who oversaw the birth of iPhone, published an open letter, explaining why Apple would not allow Adobe Flash to run on iPhone.

In April 2010, Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. published an open letter explaining why Apple wouldn’t allow Flash on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. In the letter he cited the rapid energy consumption, poor performance on mobile devices, abysmal security, lack of touch support, and desire to avoid “a third party layer of software coming between the platform and the developer”. He also touched on the idea of Flash being “Open”, claiming that “By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system”.

Jobs also tried to dismiss the idea that Apple customers are missing out by being sold devices without Flash compatibility. He quoted a number of statistics and concluded with “Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content.”

At the time Steve Jobs’ decision was highly controversial. Critics suggested that Steve Jobs was exaggerating the problems with Flash, to try to steer developers into using his proprietary iPhone development environment, rather than allowing iPhone Apps to be developed using Adobe Flash.

Since 2009, ongoing and very public problems with Adobe Flash security have vindicated Jobs’ decision in the eyes of most observers. Adobe’s apparent inability to secure their product has provoked fury amongst developers and Adobe Flash users.

According to The Register

Enough is ENOUGH: It’s time to flush Flash back to where it came from – Hell

If you patched Adobe’s screen door of the internet – its Flash plugin – last week, and thought you were safe, even for a few weeks, you were sadly mistaken.

The Photoshop goliath is warning that yet another programming blunder in its code is being exploited in the wild, and says it won’t have a patch ready to deploy until later this week. Buckle up, in other words.

This latest security vulnerability is, as always, triggered when the plugin tries to play a malicious Flash file – allowing hackers to download malware onto PCs and effectively hijack the computers so passwords and more can be stolen.

According to Trend Micro, the Angler exploit kit was updated to leverage this particular flaw, and used to inject malware into PCs visiting web video site dailymotion.com via a dodgy ad network.

Read more…

For now Adobe Flash continues to be used. A lot of legacy websites, and some mobile Apps, still use Adobe Flash – so completely removing support for Adobe Flash from all systems would potentially annoy users, by preventing them from accessing websites and mobile apps they rely on.

But Jobs’ early decision to ban Flash on iPhones, combined with the rise of alternatives such as Javascript / CSS animations, which provide comparable functionality without the security problems, has had an impact. Flash is now very much seen as a legacy system – something you have to consider supporting, because some old websites and mobile apps still require Flash, but not a system which you would use for creating new code or web content.

If you would like to know more about Adobe Flash, and options for upgrading or replacing Flash, please Contact Me

Mobile App Development: Native or Web?

Web App vs Native Mobile App - a Big Development Decision

Web App vs Native Mobile App – an Important Development Decision

Software Development Times has written an excellent article about one of the important early development decisions which needs to be made when developing a mobile app – should you use native mobile app development tools, or should you present your app functionality using web technology – HTML, CSS and Javascript?

According to SDT:

Native apps maximize performance and user experience

Native development is, on average, the most widely adopted approach. Forrester’s latest Business Technographics Global Developer Survey found that, overall, developers build native apps 38% of the time, hybrid apps 22% of the time, and Web apps 27% of the time. That’s not surprising: Native apps offer a great combination of performance and user experience. And when done right, they deliver a high level of customer satisfaction compared to Web applications, as well as enable superior offline processing and storage capability.

But regardless of these benefits, native apps are a challenge to maintain. Developers we’ve worked with report porting costs of 50% to 70% of the cost of the original app for every new mobile operating system the app needs to run on. Plan to support iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows? That’s an increase in development costs of 150% to 210%.

Web apps minimize costs and improve agility

While developers on average spend more time building native apps, at least 74% spend time building with a Web-based approach. But with native’s advantages in performance and user satisfaction, why would anyone want to use Web technologies?

Unless an unlimited development budget is available, taking a native-only approach exceeds the reach of many development teams. A good rule of thumb is to estimate 20% to 25% in additional porting costs when using Web technologies, significantly less than the cost of an all-native approach.

Web Apps vs Native Apps

Web Apps, at least for some types of apps, offer a cost advantage if you plan to target a large number of mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Microsoft, etc.).

HOWEVER, web apps in my experience present a challenge if you want to create an app which appears to be native – you can spend a lot of time and effort making web buttons look exactly like native buttons, only to have all the rules change next time Apple or Android upgrade their operating system.

In addition, there are many types of app functionality which would perform poorly if implemented using web app technology. For example, if your app presents a long list of database entries, particularly if you want the contents of the database list to update automatically as the user types text into a search field, the inferior performance of web app technology very quickly becomes an issue – if your database contains more than a 50 entries, it is very difficult to make a web app provide acceptable search performance, without developing native mobile app components to augment the search – which kindof defeats the purpose of using web app technology.

In general I advise clients NOT to opt for the web app approach, unless the functionality of their mobile app is simple and not computationally demanding. While the lure of being able to port the bulk of your app to different mobile platforms with minimal changes might seem attractive, in my experience the risk of unsatisfactory mobile app performance, and the difficulty of achieving that vital last 1% of polish to make the web app into a compelling user experience, more than outweighs any benefits.

The Facebook Web App Experience

I’m not alone in my assessment of the significant challenges associated with creating high quality web apps. Facebook chose to redevelop their web app into a native iPhone app, because of the stability and performance issues their team encountered during development of their web app.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-engineering/under-the-hood-rebuilding-facebook-for-ios/10151036091753920

Scaling up with HTML5

As mobile usage exploded over the last few years, our priority was to ensure that regardless of device, platform, network, or region, Facebook users had a good experience on their mobile devices. To support thousands of devices and multiple mobile platforms, we leveraged HTML5 to build and distribute Facebook mobile experiences across iOS and other platforms.

By allowing us to write once and ship across multiple platforms, HTML5 has historically allowed us to keep the Facebook mobile experience current and widely available, and has been instrumental in getting us to where we are today. We chose to use HTML5 because not only did it let us leverage much of the same code for iOS, Android, and the mobile web, but it also allowed us to iterate on experiences quickly by launching and testing new features without having to release new versions of our apps.

So while utilizing web technology has allowed us to support more than 500 million people using Facebook on more than 7000 supported devices, we realized that when it comes to platforms like iOS, people expect a fast, reliable experience and our iOS app was falling short. Now that our mobile services had breadth, we wanted depth. So, we rewrote Facebook for iOS from the ground up (I really did open up Xcode and click “New Project”) with a focus on quality and leveraging the advances that have been made in iOS development.

(Re-)Building for speed

One of the biggest advantages we’ve gained from building on native iOS has been the ability to make the app fast. Now, when you scroll through your news feed on the new Facebook for iOS, you’ll notice that it feels much faster than before. One way we have achieved this is by re-balancing where we perform certain tasks. For example, in iOS, the main thread drives the UI and handles touch events, so the more work we do on the main thread, the slower the app feels. Instead, we take care to perform computationally expensive tasks in the background. This means all our networking activity, JSON parsing, NSManagedObject creation, and saving to disk never touches the main thread.

To give another example, we use Core Text to lay out many of our strings, but layout calculations can quickly become a bottleneck. With our new iOS app, when we download new content, we asynchronously calculate the sizes for all these strings, cache our CTFramesetters (which can be expensive to create), and then use all these calculations later when we present the story into our UITableView.

If you would like advice on whether your proposed iPhone App or Android App is a good fit for being developed as a web app, or whether you should choose the native mobile app development option, please Contact Me

Mobile App Revenue Model – Paid or Advertised?

The rise of App Advertising Revenue

The rise of Mobile App Advertising Revenue

Business Insider Australia has published a story about the rise of mobile app install advertisements, popup advertisements which encourage users to install other mobile apps.

According to Business Insider Australia, install advertisements are popular because it is easy to calculate the return on investment.

New and exclusive data from BI Intelligence finds that US mobile app-install ad revenue will top $US4.6 billion this year and grow to $US6.8 billion by the end of 2019, increasing by a compound annual growth rate of 14% from 2014. We believe mobile app install ads accounted for about 30% of mobile ad revenue last year.

The published revenue figures conclusively demonstrate that advertising is a serious option for monetising mobile apps, especially mobile app install advertisements.

Free apps definitely get more installs – convincing someone to click a button is much easier than convincing someone to spend some cash.

Both models have their advantages – for example, if your target audience is a specialist market, if your mobile app will be very useful to a small number of people, then it makes more sense to charge and upfront fee for your mobile app – generating revenue from advertising requires a large audience.

However, if your target audience is the general public, especially if you are competing with free mobile apps, there is a strong case for adopting an advertising model. It is difficult to convince people to pay for your iPhone app or Android app, if a competitor offers a very similar service for free, even if your app provides more features.

Then of course there is the Freemium model – a free app with optional feature upgrades which can be purchased. My advice, if you are building a Freemium mobile app, is make sure the user can perform all the basic functions of the app without paying. If you give users the impression you are being “greedy”, by asking for money every time they click a button, this can be a major turnoff, and can lead to users leaving negative reviews in App Store or Google Play Store.

If you would like to discuss the monetisation options for an iPhone app or Android App which you are developing, please Contact me for more information.

iOS App Development – More Revenue than Hollywood

Apps vs Holly - the rapid growth of mobile app development.

iOS App Development vs Hollywood – the rapid growth of mobile app development.

Last year, software development – iOS app development – generated 14.3 billion dollars, more revenue than Hollywood.

According to ReadWrite:

As analyst Horace Dediu pointed out on his Asymco blog, iOS apps drew in more bucks last year than the movie business. Earlier this month, Apple announced iPhone and iPad developers raked in as much as $10 billion in 2014. Tack on the 30% or so that Apple itself made on top, and the roughly $14.3 billion exceeds the $10 billion or so Hollywood made at the U.S. box office.

Its not just the numbers which are astounding, its the meteoric pace at which mobile app development has overtaken the movie business which has shocked observers. As the graph above shows, just 2 years ago the app business was half the size of today. The rapid growth trend shows no sign of slowing down.

The interesting question in my mind is – just how long will Hollywood stay in the movie business, given that the skills required for mobile app development and movie production overlap in so many ways?

Will we see a slow “brain drain”, as the best Hollywood film engineers are tempted by the fabulous rewards of mobile app development? Or will we see a great convergence, as Hollywood and mobile app developers join forces to ensure that every movie has an app, or apps become more movie like? Or movies become more app like?

What is clear is there is still potential to make a lot of money developing Android apps and developing iPhone apps. And, just as it is in Hollywood, its not always the big production houses which take the prize – there is plenty of room for newcomers to make their mark, and cash in on the multi-billion dollar mobile app development market.

How to hire a mobile app developer

How to hire a developer to build an app for your small business

How to hire a developer to build an app for your small business

Lifehacker has published a great article about how to hire a mobile app developer, and how and when you should do so.

The two most important points they make, in my opinion:

Australians are in love with mobile phones and mobile apps. In that context, it can seem like developing a mobile app for your business is an essential step. With online sales in Australia topping $246 billion in 2012-2013 (according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics) and more than 76 per cent of Australians accessing online services via their mobile phone (according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority), some sort of mobile strategy seems essential. However, careful planning is required to make sure you can get value from your investment.

A slice of a $246 billion dollar pie is an attractive proposition – but maximising your return on investment on an app, as with any endeavour, requires careful planning and preparation.

Make sure you really need (and can afford) an app

Make sure you can answer the most basic question: Why does my business need a mobile app? If the only answer is “Because I think it would be cool”, that’s not sufficient justification. If the main answer is “because everyone else is building one”, you also need to think carefully. While it’s true that if everyone else in your sector has an app and you don’t you might look sluggish, it’s also true that there may be more effective ways of differentiating yourself from rivals.

My most successful clients know exactly why they want an app, have a clear idea of what they want to achieve, and they know how they plan to market their app.

I cannot overemphasise the importance of having a marketing plan. Very occasionally, an app will shoot up the charts with no marketing whatsoever, but this is rare. Even legendary apps like Angry Birds got their start through vigorous marketing.

I strongly recommend if you are thinking of commissioning an iPhone app or Android App that you read the Lifehacker article. Once you have read the Lifehacker article, contact me if you have any questions, or would like to discuss your mobile app requirements.

Unrealistic Boobs – a mobile app animation failure

The Guardian has a fascinating writeup of the way mobile app and desktop app games developers neglect the boobs of animated characters. We’ve all heard the Lara Croft story – how an accidental slip of the mouse created a female hero of truly heroic frontal proportions. But its one thing to give your female character a generous endowment – its quite another to make their endowment behave in a lifelike manner.

Consider the following:

I mean, you can see what the mobile game developer *attempted* to do – but its not really working, is it? The boobs bounce around quite independently of the movement of the character, making them look like they are demonically possessed.

The article is well worth a read, it has other examples of hilarious slip-ups in the boob animation department. Its certainly an eye opener, and a cautionary tale when it comes to your own animation content.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jan/21/boobs-breasts-physics-video-game

Blackberry to force YOU to pay for their app mistakes

The failed mobile app platform that wants to force you to help

The failed mobile app platform that wants to force you to help

Blackberry has outrageously demanded that app developers be forced to support their platform, at the developer’s expense – that whenever a mobile app is released, app developers should be forced by law to also release a version of their app for the Blackberry platform.

In the late 90s, Blackberry was a popular platform. But they lost their crown to Apple and Google Android, because there was one crucially important aspect of their business which Blackberry neglected – their app developers.

Developing for Blackberry was difficult and expensive – from memory, you had to pay thousands of dollars for the Blackberry development environment, then you had to pay hundreds of dollars when you submitted a mobile app, for Blackberry to evaluate it. As a result, hardly anyone developed mobile apps for the Blackberry platform.

When Apple iPhone exploded onto the scene, Apple’s focus on encouraging mobile app development gave their iPhone platform an unprecedented level of versatility – and swept previous incumbents like Blackberry from the field.

If you were CEO of a company which had just been so soundly outcompeted, what would you do?

The obvious solution, you could attempt some product innovation, you could try to find a way to tempt consumers back to your brand, by addressing its shortcomings.

Or you could do what Blackberry has just done – run to Washington, to try to force mobile developers to support your platform, by convincing politicians that your proposed anti-freedom law should be passed in the name of ensuring “equality”.

If Blackberry gets away with this audacious attempt to force others to prop up their business, to pay for their mistakes, this madness won’t stop with Blackberry – the law will apply to any mobile app platform, no matter how obscure.

Where do you draw the line? If some mom and pop business releases 500 phones, do you have to support their platform as well? If a Taiwanese manufacturer creates a new mobile OS, which has no presence whatsoever in English speaking markets, could they sue you if you fail to support their mobile app platform?

And of course, it won’t be long before other industries take notice, and start clamouring for “neutrality” laws of their own, to secure market share through government fiat rather than product innovation.

This madness must be stopped. The potential for this proposal to stifle innovation and crush startup businesses is breathtaking, but Blackberry doesn’t care. All they can see is a possible opportunity to convince legislators to force developers, anyone who commissions an app, to give Blackberry’s business a boost, without Blackberry having to pay a penny. Given Blackberry’s dismal market share, none of the effort devoted to creating blackberry apps is likely to yield a profit – but the “Blackberry Law” would still force you to provide an app for their system, at your own expense.