Tag

iOS

Reconciling iOS, Android & Windows Mobile Apps

By | Android, iOS, Mobile, Windows | No Comments

Android, iOS, and Windows mobile app developers alike are always on the lookout for the latest tools to simplify their workload, especially on multi-platform apps. Whether it’s a more organized way to produce code or creating a friendlier UI experience, our App Experts went on the hunt to look for possible solutions.

With the amount of training that developers go through to hone a native language, it’s dumbfounding to ask them to write code from another language. So, how can they transform their skills and transition seamlessly to another platform?

apple, android, windows, mobile

Our App Experts can code for any device.

The Popular Solution

Introducing PhoneGap, a developmental open source tool created by Nitobi. PhoneGap allows you to take your acquired knowledge from HTML, Javascript and CSS and use it to write for any mobile platform (iOS, Android, Windows). As a bonus, a developer can link your app to any of the main device features, such as a file system, camera, accelerometer or GPS. This allows your app to communicate effectively with the phone.

Alternative Solution

One of our App Experts also uses an open-source library called Scaloid, which enables Scala developers to create Android apps without migrating to Java. It uses many of Scala’s features including creating Domain Specific Languages (DSLs). The goal of Scaloid is to help reduce the cluster of codes as well as any type errors.

Scaloid Code

This example shows you how Scaloid reduces the amount of code that a developer needs to write.

Which Program Works Better?

Although developers can debate about which approach works better, most companies that want to create apps for all devices tend to lean towards PhoneGap. On the other hand, if a company is looking to break in to the Android market, then Scaloid may be the way to go.

What are your thoughts? Let us know below which open source tools you prefer to use and why.

Android vs iPhone: Is marketing influencing mobile loyalty?

By | Android, iOS, Mobile | No Comments

Android or Apple? This debate is something that developers have been talking about for years and countless articles have argued the merits of one over the other. Our App Experts were discussing the two competitors recently, and an intriguing question came up to try and explain Apple’s success:  Can a good marketing strategy beat a cheaper product that’s similar in nature?

Apple completely changed the mobile world when they released the first iPhone. It was a remarkable moment. Blackberry was already in existence by that time, but Apple showed us that smartphones could be more than just a tool for work. They managed to expand from a phone previously used only for calling and texting to the preeminent key to unlocking the web on the go. Someone had to follow.

Android – The New Kids On The Block

When Android first appeared on the market, it was seen as a cheap alternative to having an iPhone. But Android grew in popularity thanks to having an open source policy which allowed developers to code freely. Today, Android captures the spirit of individuality and nonconformity. If you compare Apple’s iOS 7 with Android 4.4 (Kit Kat), you can see huge differences among them, but many functionalities mirror one another. So one has to wonder, if there’s such a massive gap in pricing, surely iPhones must deliver additional features? The answer is a resounding no. 

In fact, Apple is copying some things from Android. The new Apple iOS recently added some features that were around in Android for a long time, like disabling WiFi from the notification screen or the new task manager which is just an Apple version of the existing one in Android. 

Additionally, iOS 7 becomes problematic when you are using an old iPhone, like iPhone 4. Battery life lasts for a shorter time and some features are not available because the hardware is not ready for them. Some would argue this is a way to force people to buy a new phone every two years in order to be able to use the latest features.

So what about Android? They’ve added some interesting features like the new interface with a design that’s very clean and simple. They’ve incorporated some components from the flat iOS design, but it shows the elements in a clear way — not to mention the colour palette is appropriate for a device that the user is going to be looking at for a long period of time.

The question Android fans are puzzled with is why anyone would pay £500 for an iPhone when they can have a Samsung or a Motorola phone which provides the exact same functions for less than half the price of an iPhone? Sure, Apple products are beautiful and easy to use. But at the end of the day, Android gives more freedom to the user with customization capabilities. We’re going to suggest one possible answer for many Apple aficionados is in a genius marketing strategy. 

Power of Brand Awareness

The cult-like following of Apple’s products may be attributed to the hype Apple is able to generate for its consumers year after year. Nobody is able to build buzz and speculation on upcoming products and announcements like Apple. Their brand following is built on creating the ultimate user experience — from the packaging, design, to the products themselves, Apple has capitalized on fans looking to have the latest in gadgets. Just one look at the massive queues outside an Apple store during a new product launch summarizes the incredible demand these products generate.

Having all of this in mind, one must wonder the powerful effects of successful marketing efforts.  If most people aren’t moved by features or specifications, some other channels must be contributing to user preferences. Sometimes, a name seals the deal and you can see that every day in the tube or on the bus.

In a city like London, iPhones and iPads are more widely seen than Android devices. Why? That answer will vary user to user, but there’s no denying Apple’s global brand awareness and more importantly, loyalty. After all, Apple’s cool and sleek designs outsells a product that works on par and is significantly cheaper, so there is a sense of established value with the Apple community. Wherever your personal preferences lay, the war between Apple and Android continues…

We want to know: which operating system do you prefer and why? Comment below and join the debate.

3rd Party Technologies Every iOS Developer Should Use – Part 1- Appledoc

By | iOS, Mobile | 2 Comments

As part of a new series, we’re going to be looking at various tools that our App Experts have encountered during our mobile app experience that we feel no iOS developer should be without. To get the ball rolling, we have the solution to every developers most dreaded task, documentation. So what is this remarkable tool? The answer is Appledoc.

What is it?

Appledoc is a tool for building and maintaining documentation for your apps/libraries. After a quick setup, it compiles together your code-comments into a fully Apple-styled docset that can be kept up-to-date with a simple press of a button. For hassle free documentation on the fly, it’s the best option around for iOS developers.

Setup

Appledoc has a quick and easy installation process. First things first, you’ll need to download it:

You can download it manually from the developers’ github or just run this simple command in the terminal:

git clone git://github.com/tomaz/appledoc.git

Next up, install. To install appledoc use the following command:

sudo sh install-appledoc.sh

Add the build script to your project:

Once Appledoc is installed, you’ll need to add it into your project (note: you’ll need to repeat this step for every new project you start if you want to use Appledoc with it).

Select your project in the Project Navigator and select the plus icon at the bottom left of the view window to add a new target. We’re going to add our script as an ‘Aggregate’ target, which can be found in the ‘Other’ tab. For this new target, go to the ‘Build Phases’ tab and add a new ‘Run Script Build Phase’ by selecting the plus sign in the top left of the view window. Paste the following script into this new phase’s script window:

#appledoc Xcode script
 # Start constants
 company="YOURCOMPANYHERE";
 companyID="com.YOURCOMPANYHERE";
 companyURL="http://YOURCOMPANYHERE.com";
 target="iphoneos";
 outputPath="~/help";
 # End constants
 /usr/local/bin/appledoc \
 --project-name "${PROJECT_NAME}" \
 --project-company "${company}" \
 --company-id "${companyID}" \
 --docset-atom-filename "${company}.atom" \
 --docset-feed-url "${companyURL}/${company}/%DOCSETATOMFILENAME" \
 --docset-package-url "${companyURL}/${company}/%DOCSETPACKAGEFILENAME" \
 --docset-fallback-url "${companyURL}/${company}" \
 --output "${outputPath}" \
 --publish-docset \
 --docset-platform-family "${target}" \
 --logformat xcode \
 --keep-intermediate-files \
 --no-repeat-first-par \
 --no-warn-invalid-crossref \
 --exit-threshold 2 \
 "${PROJECT_DIR}"

Utilization

With all of that done, all that’s remaining is to build your new target and your Docset will be created.

Appledoc has it’s own commenting syntax to distinguish between code comments and documentation. So if we want to add a comment to our documentation, we’ll use either /// or /** as opposed to the usual // or /*.

When writing the documentation for class methods, we’re going to get prompted to provide documentation for any parameters and returned objects. We can do this using @param <parameterName> and @return. For example:

/**Provides functionality to do stuff with a string
@param input String value passed into our method to do stuff with
@return Returns the result of the stuff we did to our string */
-(NSString *)doStuffWithString:(NSString *)input

That’s the basics of Appledocs! There’s a lot more to the syntax — Part 1 of this series is meant to show developers enough to get started. If you’re looking for additional information,  you can find a comprehensive document here. What are some of the major challenges you’ve faced with documentation as an iOS mobile app developer? Give us a shout in the comments section below and be sure to check back for our next post in this series!

How I Learned to Stop Fighting and Love (well… like) the iPhone

By | Android, iOS, Mobile | No Comments

When I started as an iOS developer, it was largely by accident. I was looking for work as an Android developer and ended up in a situation that will be familiar to most mobile developers out there. I was called by a recruiter one day, and the conversation went like this:

 Recruiter: Hi, I have a mobile development role, I’ve read on your CV that you’re experienced with mobile development.

Me: Yessir, I have very strong skills in Android development.

Recruiter: Well I’ve sent you over a job spec, this sounds perfect for you.

Me: Ah, yeah, this job spec is for an iOS role, I’m an Android developer.

Recruiter: It’s fine, it’s just a boilerplate job spec, I assure you it’s 100% an Android role.

And so I ended up in my first iOS role…

Some background on me, up until this point I’d held a dislike for Apple so vocally and for so long that it had become ridiculous. It was a standing joke in my social circle, when forced to develop on Macs I’d wear gloves, when answering phone calls from iPhones, I’d cover my mouthpiece with a tissue to prevent contamination. I was the anti-Apple guy.iphone side

So I started working with the iOS SDK and, to my horror, it was great. Android at the time was a very messy SDK, everything you tried to do was an uphill struggle, but iOS was showing itself to be very straight-forward and simple. Because of Apple’s tight grip on what can be done with iOS and how, the SDK is a lot more comprehensive. Android’s buggy process of linking interface controls through an XML layer and then to the code was replaced with a single click-and-drag, the process of passing information to a new view through intent flags and intercepting it on the other end was replaced by the much easier process of creating a view with the information it needed and then just presenting it.

As I work more and more with iOS and its technologies I see more of what it is that makes it such a popular platform, elegant simplicity from interface to code. Back in my days of Android-fanaticism, I imagined iOS to be a claustrophobically restrictive platform, informed by horror stories of apples widget prohibition and restrictions on access to information on the device, but these restrictions have affected me probably twice in my career. In my day-to-day development it does everything I need in the simplest of ways.

How about you? Have you had your “come to Apple” moment, or have you always been keen to work with it? Love to hear from you in the comments section below.

The Ongoing Contest for Mobile Device Market Share Control

By | Android, iOS, Mobile | No Comments

Reports touting Apple mobile product features and functionalities seem to be everywhere these days, but it’s important to recognize that the iPad and iPhone are not the dominate devices out there in terms of market share.  That honor goes to Android.

Industry analysts at International Data Corporation report that Google’s Android now controls 80% of the market.  Also noteworthy, despite Apple’s sales volumes increasing and earning new records, iOS market share actually went down.

Equally important is the uptick with Windows Phone.  That platform saw impressive gains after the Nokia deal was announced in September. Nokia accounts for more than 90% of all the Windows Phone devices sold to date.

This isn’t to say that Apple is going the way of the dying Blackberry.  Some of the declining demand in 2013 Q3 can be attributed to the worst kept annual secret – that new iPhone and iPad devices tend to be released in the waning months of each year.  Likewise, while sales numbers are up, market share can decline due to the greater numbers of people that are adopting their first smart phone or tablet.

So how does a business best leverage mobile?  Our mobile app developers recommend developing a comprehensive mobile strategy that encompasses iOS, Android and Windows Mobile. The jury is still out on the possibility for a rebirth of RIM’s Blackberry.

Want to learn more about how your organization can benefit from mobile apps that span all of the major mobile platforms, contact the App Experts at 0208 591 9330.