Category Archives: iPhone App

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Integrating SharePoint, iPhone Apps and Android Apps

Microsoft SharePoint Logo

Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is a popular content and data management system, which integrates easily with non-microsoft technology, such as iPhone Apps and Android Apps.

The functionality of SharePoint I have experience integrating is SharePoint Lists.

A SharePoint List is a cross between a web document and a database. It provides means for quickly building and maintaining structured data, and defining relationships between different elements of that data.

For example, you can define a Microsoft SharePoint list which holds details of assets which your company manages, such as factories, shops, or other inventory, then define a second list, which provides a maintenance history for each asset. The second list can be linked to the first list, so for example you can enforce that one of the fields in the second list must be the identity of an asset in the first list.

SharePoint takes care of the complexity of handling collaborative updates to list documents, such as versioning of each change.

There is even an attractive web interface, which is compatible with most mobile devices, and several excellent iPhone Apps and Android Apps, for accessing your SharePoint portal.

So why would you ever need a bespoke iPhone App or Android App, to interact with SharePoint?

The reason clients ask me for help with SharePoint integration is because standard, off the shelf apps do not deliver a specific feature or set of features they require.

For example, what do you do if you want to take SharePoint offline? A client had a requirement that mobile apps be able to be used at sites with poor Internet coverage, so they needed an app which could populate the fields of new SharePoint list instances, and save the new instances in the internal storage of their iPad device, so all the saved changes could be applied to the server once the user had access to the Internet.

Another scenario, a client wanted to extend SharePoint functionality with app device capabilities, to create the ability to upload mobile camera photos to SharePoint list instances, and to upload GPS readings.

Finally, since the apps are interacting with SharePoint as a data store, the Apps are free to implement their own front end – they can guide users through the data acquisition or data delivery process, by imposing a specific workflow on the users – by granting users a limited view of the underlying SharePoint data, and by ensuring all necessary steps of a workflow are executed in the correct order.

A bespoke SharePoint iPhone App or Android App can preserve SharePoint flexibility. It is entirely possible for mobile Apps to apply the bespoke SharePoint functionality extensions on a list field by field basis, to allow the list structure to be changed, to allow new fields to be exposed to users without having to release a new version of the bespoke iPhone or Android SharePoint App.

Bespoke Customisation of the SharePoint experience can help with delivering acceptance and enthusiastic adoption of the underlying SharePoint implementation, by painlessly integrating user requirements which are not best handled by the standard toolset.

Contact me now, if you have or are interested in creating a Microsoft SharePoint based user experience, but have requirements which go beyond what the standard tools can deliver.

The Mobile App Revolution

The App Revolution Screenshot

The App Revolution

Back in 2012 Channel Nine (Australia) presented “The App Revolution” as a segment of the popular “60 Minutes”.

The video of the presentation is now available online.

I strongly recommend anyone interested in developing an iPhone App or Android App watch the presentation. It communicates how apps have changed the world, and how lives have been transformed by people with a simple idea, and a burning desire to make it happen.

If you are interested in learning more about mobile app development, Contact Me.

Apple announces iPhone 6, iPhone 6+ and new iWatch

The long anticipated announcement from Apple has arrived – two new iPhones, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, and a new iWatch, to be released early next year.

Pre-ordering is available from the 12th in Australia.

iOS 8, the new Apple Operating System, will also be released on the 17th September.

All I can say is – WOW. New operating systems bring both challenges and opportunities.

The challenge is that some apps will inevitably break – if you have any concerns about your iPhone app, Contact me now for advice on how to proof your app against the new upgrade.

The opportunity is the new capabilities that iOS 8 will bring to iPhone Apps, and the new possibilities the faster A8 processor will open.

For more information on how your iPhone app can benefit from iOS 8, or how this transforms the landscape of what is possible, Contact

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.

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


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, to discuss your requirements.