10 Excellent Platforms for Building Mobile Apps

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Source: http://mashable.com/2013/12/03/build-mobile-apps/

If you’ve ever wanted to build an app for your business, blog, product or service, but the heavy investment of both time and money put you off, you’re not alone.

The good news is that entering the mobile market no longer necessarily requires thousands of dollars and months of work. There are many mobile platforms available to help you build an app on a budget — quickly, and with no coding knowledge required.

With a small investment, you can create and manage your mobile site or application using one of the platforms listed below, and start reaping the advantages of offering your customers a dedicated mobile experience, including increased awareness, engagement and revenue.

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iPhone Development Bits

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Source: http://iphonedevelopmentbits.com/

6 Steps to Building a Better iPhone App

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Brian LeRoux is Nitobi‘s Software Architect, and is involved in shepherding the PhoneGap open source project. You can read his blog, or find him on Twitter.

Thanks to increasingly powerful devices and cheaper data plans, the mobile app space is growing faster every year. Apple has been at the forefront of that growth with the iPhone, by both partnering with telecom companies to provide near-unlimited web access, and redefining application distribution with the App Store, which created a new industry and market for smartphone applications.

The App Store has created a gold rush for developers, and there are now over 50,000 applications for sale, making it harder to get a newly released app noticed by users. It has become especially necessary for developers to reduce development time and put their product on the market as quickly as possible.

Here’s a list of steps which should be considered when getting into the iPhone app game:


Step 1: Narrow your focus


A mobile application has precious little screen real estate, so be sure to focus on reducing screen clutter. Your application should be as simple as possible without sacrificing usability and completeness. If it has to do multiple tasks to achieve its goal, then these should be performed one at a time.


Step 2: Build a better user experience


All software depends on a great user experience to succeed. You can maximize your chances of success by experimenting with different approaches to your user interface. Quickly discard what doesn’t work and build on what does work.

The design process can be as simple as drawing on a whiteboard, but if you are pitching ideas to your colleagues or clients, using a mockup tool will give your designs more polish. For the Mac, the OmniGrafflediagramming software has iPhone stencils, or for Photoshop design firm teehan+lax has created an iPhone GUI PSD file. However, for web applications, the easiest solution may be to create the mockup in HTML.

graffletopia image

Whether you decide to paper prototype or take the 37signals approach of skipping the mockup step completely, you need to respect your audience and their goals. You’ve decided on a focus for the application in Step 1 and now it’s time to make sure that your app is not just useful but usable. If you’re unclear on the definition of usable, Apple has done a lot of this thinking for you with their Safari Dev Center (which requires the free Apple Developer Connection membership to access).


Step 3: Choose your approach


The development framework you choose will determine the speed and ease of creating the application, as well as what iPhone features are accessible from your application. You have three options: web technology, Objective-C or a combination of the two.

gmail-iphoneBuild in the browser: The easiest option for creating an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android application is to build it in the browser using web development languages like HTML and JavaScript. Web developers already familiar with HTML and JavaScript can build iPhone applications that run in the browser, without having to learn Objective-C, the native iPhone app development language. On the whole, browser-built apps are easier to build and distribute. They’re portable and accessible from multiple devices, which helps them spread. Further, browser-built apps update instantly, generally load faster, are easier to read and update and offer more flexibility for future feature updates. Popular browser-built iPhone apps include mobile versions of Gmail and Facebook.

Create a native app: Native applications built in Objective-C make full use of all the iPhone features: GPS, accelerometer, local storage, camera, and more. This approach works especially well for robust applications, like 3D games. If your goal is to sell a complex, full-featured application, building a native application is your best bet.

Take the hybrid approach: If you’re not ready to take the plunge and learn Objective-C, there’s another option that combines the browser-built approach with the benefits of native development. Hybrid development tools, like the open source PhoneGap or RhoMobile frameworks, provide a set of tools and libraries that enable web developers to build iPhone applications with HTML and JavaScript, but also provide access to many of the native iPhone features. The obvious benefit here is that there’s no need to learn yet another programming language. You can build apps using the technologies you already know.


Step 4: Use the right tools for the job


To build native iPhone apps you need to have a Mac OS X computer and obtain an Apple Developer Connection membership (which is free, but to submit to the App Store there’s a $99 fee) in order to download the latest version of Xcode and the iPhone SDK.

If you’re taking the web application or hybrid development route, then WebKit is a great resource. jQTouch andXUI are JavaScript frameworks for WebKit specifically designed for creating iPhone interfaces. You can also use Dashcode (bundled with the iPhone SDK), which has iPhone app templates.

No matter which approach you’ve chosen for product development, you must be able to test your application on real iPhones (and iPod Touches), because the iPhone emulator in Apple’s iPhone SDK doesn’t exactly mimic the hardware’s performance.


Step 5: Test first, test again, test some more. Also: test


While it is always important to thoroughly test software before releasing it to the public, the App Store’s format has made the need for bug-free code a make or break situation. Users who have downloaded your iPhone app can rate it using Apple’s 5-star rating system and write reviews. Your application’s average rating and review count will appear alongside the title and developer name in searches and the app’s listing, and the reviews are accessible from your application’s page in the store.

A major bug will inevitably result in a number of poor reviews and ratings from current users, which will discourage some new users even after the bug has been fixed. In addition, the App Store has a thorough submission system and submitting a bug fix often takes several days to be processed and get your application updated, further exacerbating any problems.

It is better to spend extra time testing your application than to publish it early and risk saddling it with a bad reputation from the start.


Step 6: Real artists ship: submitting to the App Store


How long does it take to get an app into the iTunes App Store? While we’ve seen some estimates of up to 20 days to have your app approved, we’ve had apps accepted in as few as five. The app review process is notoriously fastidious. Readers will recall, for example, how the Eucalyptus ebook reader was initially rejectedbecause phone users could use it to read the Kama Sutra.

Both Niall Kennedy and Adeem Basraa have written great reports and instructions about the submission process to the App Store.

Source: http://mashable.com/2009/06/10/build-iphone-app/

How would you like to offer an iPhone application for your website or blog? Check out AppMakr if you do. It allows you to make an iPhone app for your website or blog without any programming skills in a few minutes. The cost to create an app is as little as a one-time $199 fee. The process is that you go to AppMakr.com, provide some graphics and RSS feed information, and then the site builds your app and submits it to the iTunes App Store. You can monetize your app with ads and sponsorships or by charging for it via iTunes.

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How would you like to offer an iPhone application for your website or blog? Check out AppMakr if you do. It allows you to make an iPhone app for your website or blog without any programming skills in a few minutes. The cost to create an app is as little as a one-time $199 fee.

Holy Kaw-1.jpg

The process is that you go to AppMakr.com, provide some graphics and RSS feed information, and then the site builds your app and submits it to the iTunes App Store. You can monetize your app with ads and sponsorships or by charging for it via iTunes. This is what you what you need to get started:

  • RSS or Atom feed. (If you have multiple feeds for your website, you can also add them to your app.)
  • 320 x 480 pixel splash screen
  • 320 x 46 pixel header
  • 512 x 512 pixel icon for itunes

Here are examples of apps built from Alltop topics. All of these are free apps that people can use to stay on top of popular topics.

In other words, I can now offer custom iPhone apps for each of the 800 Alltop topics. How cool is that? And anyone can build a custom iPhone app for their personalized MyAlltop page too. The Atlantic, U. S. Army, PRWed, Inc, and Seth Godin are also using it to provide iPhone apps for their sites.

If you’d like to try the service, go to AppMakr.com and use coupon code “GUYK” to pay $49 instead of $199. This offer expires on January 18, 2010.

Source: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2010/01/how-to-make-an-iphone-app.html#ixzz0y1IrNf78

How To: Easily Tether Your iPhone (3G) to your Mac, Windows, or Linux Laptop

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`Jailbreaking’ of IPhones to Add Apps Backed by U.S.

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Owners of Apple Inc.’s iPhone can unlock the device to use applications not authorized by the company, the U.S. Library of Congress said.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington added the practice, described in the ruling as “jailbreaking,” to a list of actions that don’t violate copyright protections. The decision affecting iPhones and other smartphones was posted today on the agency’s website.

The library acted as part of a periodic review by its copyright office, called for under a 1998 law, into whether legal uses of technology were being blocked. The ruling was a victory for Apple critics led by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based privacy-rights group that petitioned the library.

“Now people can go ahead and fix their phones and jailbreak them so they can run all sorts of different applications,” Corynne McSherry, the group’s senior staff attorney, said in an interview. “They can make full use of the phone they bought without some kind of legal liability hanging over their head.”

Apple has sold almost 60 million iPhones since its 2007 debut. The company’s App Store has more than 225,000 applications available for download. The process for inclusion in the App Store has drawn criticism from some developers whose material was rejected by the company.

The company based in Cupertino, California, says it typically withholds approval of applications because they have technical bugs or contain material such as pornography that the company considers inappropriate.

‘Great Experience’

“Apple’s goal has always been to ensure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience,” Natalie Harrison, an Apple spokeswoman, said today in an interview. “As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.”

The Library of Congress also said in the filing posted today that people don’t violate the law when they circumvent copy protection on DVDs and extract short excerpts to create new, noncommercial works.

The decision “unnecessarily blurs the bright line established” in copyright law against circumventing technical protection measures, said Elizabeth Kaltman, a vice president with the Motion Picture Association of America, in an e-mailed statement. The Washington-based organization represents film studios.

‘Means Nothing’

The ruling affecting iPhones “absolutely means nothing as a practical business matter” in part because it doesn’t require any action by handset makers such as Apple, Motorola Inc. and Nokia Corp., Daniel Ernst, an analyst at Hudson Square Research in New York who doesn’t own Apple shares, said in an interview. The Library of Congress findings don’t affect AT&T Inc., the iPhone’s U.S. carrier, Ernst said.

Apple can update the iPhone’s systems to make it harder for unauthorized applications to work on the device, Ernst said.

Apple may also use other laws to keep iPhones from being modified, said Jason Schultz, co-director of the Samuelson Law Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Having the copyright office side with the jailbreakers doesn’t look good in court for Apple,” Schultz said in an interview. “They will have to explain why the copyright office is wrong.”

Making Margaritas

Jonathan Handel, an attorney for TroyGould in Los Angeles specializing in entertainment and technology, said the decision could open Apple to lawsuits against its practice of preventing the use of certain software on its devices.

“When someone buys a kitchen blender, they don’t expect it to refuse to make a margarita,” Handel said in an interview. “And when they buy an iPhone, they don’t expect it to not run reasonable software.”

In a filing with the Library of Congress during consideration of the issue, Apple said exempting jailbreaking would “destroy the technological protection of Apple’s key copyrighted computer programs in the iPhone device itself and of copyrighted content owned by Apple that plays on the iPhone.”

Apple fell 66 cents to $259.28 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading.

To contact the reporters on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net; Adam Satariano in San Francisco at asatariano1@bloomberg.net

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-26/apple-iphone-users-have-u-s-blessing-to-jailbreak-add-own-applications.html

Turn an iPod into a poor man’s iPhone

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I try to keep a stiff upper lip about not having an iPhone. Just couldn’t afford it – not with the minimum £44.05 a month it costs for a monthly contract.

I could, however, afford the £165 iPod Touch – and got it as a gift, as it happened. It has most of the same goodies: a web browser, email, YouTube. And it stores way more music than the iPhone.

Plus, the other day I used it to call China.

Yup, a call around the world – on a device that doesn’t have a phone. A handful of applications on Apple Inc.’s iTunes store will let you do this, as long as you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot.

My iPhone complex hasn’t disappeared, but at least now I have a device that looks just like it, has no monthly service fees, and lets me make free or cheap phone calls.

The best part of these applications – which require the second-generation iPod Touch that came out last year – is that they are free to download, and calls to other people using the same app won’t cost you anything.

Two of the services I’ve tried, Truphone and Fring, will also let you make free calls to Google Talk users and type instant messages to friends online. Both automatically queue up a list of buddies from different services you might have, including Gmail chat, AIM and MSN Messenger, once you log in.

But it’s Truphone’s pay feature that puts it ahead of the others. TruPhone charges you to make calls to landlines or regular cell phones, but generally at better rates than most wireless carriers. And it’s upfront about what you pay.

Your balance – which you can add to with a credit card, either on the device or on your computer browser – pops up with the dial screen. Calls in the US are all 5 cents per minute (2 cents if you sign up to pay a $4 monthly fee).

Rates outside the US vary wildly but you can check in the application before you dial. To call cell phones in China, for instance, is only 5 cents per minute, while France is 25 cents. Antarctica? A whopping $2.25.

You can make regular calls with Fring using a Skype account, but that’s another layer to deal with.

The calls on these services sound pretty good, a little tinny but clearer than my regular cell phone connection. iPod Touch users will need Apple’s ear buds that have a tiny microphone on the back of the volume control along the cord, or any iPhone compatible headphones like Ultimate Ears.

The most serious drawback is the most obvious: While the iPhone uses 3G networks to provide internet access anywhere, on the iPod Touch you’ll need to stick to Wi-Fi hot spots.

For rural or suburban dwellers who don’t encounter lots of free Wi-Fi zones, that may very well mean limiting yourself to your house, or other places where there’s a computer with the same internet phone call capabilities anyway.

That means these apps probably won’t replace your cell phone. But they can moderate your iPhone envy.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/turn-an-ipod-into-a-poor-mans-iphone-1649927.html 

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