Tech Gift Guide 2016

Hippest Tech Gifts for the 2016 Holidays

The holiday season has arrived, which means that many of us are excitedly (or is it anxiously?!) on the hunt for the perfect gift. We may be biased, but we think tech gifts are the best for anyone on your list! While virtual reality and wearables are always fun, we want to offer some new ideas for great holiday gifts beyond these beloved items. The recommendations in our Hippest Tech Gifts guide are sure to please your gadget-loving friends and family – and hopefully even convince the technology laggards you know that new tech will enhance their new year.

Prices listed are MSRP, but some items may be on sale for lower prices. Follow the links below or try a browser extension like Honey to help ensure you have the best deal. Read More

NewCo Boulder Logo

#NewCoBoulder 2016 Inspires Us

Boulder had the privilege of hosting its third NewCo festival last Friday, and we were thrilled to be able to participate. With a mission to “identify, celebrate, and connect the engines of positive change in our society,” NewCo provides an opportunity for purpose-driven businesses to share their stories with entrepreneurs, job applicants, and potential customers that want to learn from them. Thanks to the efforts of Engage Colorado, around fifty innovative Boulder companies opened their doors and invited participants to come see for themselves how passion and purpose change “work” from simply a job to an endeavor that can change the world. Read More

Watch App Development

When to Develop a Watch App (or Not)

With the recent release of Apple Watch 2 and new versions of Android Wear smartwatches introduced regularly, the idea of building a watch app is front of mind for many clients. A watch app seems cool and timely (couldn’t resist), fun to use, and super convenient. While a watch app is all those things, it may not be the right choice for your business.

Although some watch apps (like fitness tracking, Apple Pay, music) do still offer some functionality without a phone nearby, watch apps do not stand alone at this point in time. As a result, one doesn’t build a watch app instead of a phone/tablet app, but rather alongside these devices. The best watch apps do not mimic the features of the phone app, but act as a companion app that takes advantage of the unique features of the watch in order to bring additional value to the user’s experience. In almost all cases, the user will continue to use other devices for more in-depth tasks. Read More

Social App Development

Key Features of a Successful Social App

We love developing apps of all kinds, and social apps are no exception. Our most recent foray into social app development started with a visit from two entrepreneurs looking to build an app to create conversations through music. The result, Chime It lets users communicate with friends through music by snipping parts of songs from their music library to send to friends. About the same time, we partnered with another start-up to build an app called Empath. This social app allows users to share feelings anonymously but also build deeper relationships with people they care about.

We learned a lot and reinforced some previous lessons in the course of developing these two social apps. While the basic principles for mobile app development remain the same, there are some unique development considerations when building a social app. In our experience, the most successful social apps share some common features. Read More

Impact of OS Updates

How Do OS Updates Impact Apps?

Operating System (OS) updates are a regular part of the computing world, but they often have implications on the software that rides on top of them. Apple unveiled iOS 10, its latest operating system for iPhones and iPads in mid-June this year, with the public release occurring on September 13th. Similarly, Google released their beta build of Android 7 called Nougat in mid-March, with a release to the public on August 22nd. These new mobile OS releases are much-anticipated around here, bringing fresh features that our developers look forward to using.

In addition to the excitement that comes with new tech, the new releases also bring some questions. Many of our clients rightly ask whether or not an update will impact the functionality of an app they built on a previous OS. The answer is generally “It might!” It’s always a wise idea to take a look at existing code to ensure it will function as well on a new OS as it did when it was first written. Our Android and iOS developers share a few of the challenges created by a new OS version. Read More

Denver Startup Week Effective UI

Denver Startup Week 2016 Highlights

We love the energy and passion typically found in any gathering of entrepreneurs, and last week’s Denver Startup Week did not disappoint. Billed as a “summit of entrepreneurial energy, innovation, and connection,” the event began just five years ago with a desire to create a sense of connection among those in the Denver startup community. With this year’s record-setting registration of over 12,000 people, DSW has done just that, while solidly establishing itself as the largest free entrepreneurial event in North America.

Denver has long had a vibrant startup community, but the size of the city doesn’t lend itself to the easy sense of connection found in a place like Boulder. Rather than lament the size, DSW founders leveraged the presence of the larger corporate environment while pulling best practices from events like Boulder Startup Week. The combination resulted in an event that catalyzes connections among those with an entrepreneurial spirit, hopefully building foundations for long-term economic growth in the city and region. Read More

The Cloud

Top Reasons to Choose Cloud Computing

Talking about clouds used to mean that you were talking about the weather. These days, though, referencing “the cloud” likely means you are talking about accessing on-demand computing resources through the internet. Rather than using a personal computer or local server to store and manage data, using the cloud means that a business (or individual) is leveraging a network of remote servers to host and process their data. The reasons to choose cloud computing are numerous and we’ll review several of the ways that our business, and that of our clients, has benefited from using the cloud. Read More

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Digital Assistants: The Quest for Artificial Intelligence

This month Apple signaled its commitment to advance the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in its products with the acquisition of tech startup Turi, a machine learning platform for developers. The move follows a growing trend by major tech companies such as IBM and Google to create and implement more advanced technology in the growing Chatbot industry.

For those new to the term, a ‘bot’ is simply software that’s been designed to automate tasks. Chatbots (from Chatter + Robot) take this to next level by simulating human conversation, making it seem as though you are talking with a human as you use the bot. While programs that recognize and respond to language have been around for decades, they have become a standard offering in consumer devices in more recent years. These programs use natural language processing, the ability to understand and use human conversational phrases, to interact with humans on simple tasks. Nearly all users of smartphones or messaging apps have experienced this technology, the most well-known being Siri by Apple, Alexa by Amazon, and Cortana by Microsoft. Read More

Swift Playgrounds Homepage

Swift Playgrounds Makes Learning to Code Fun

Apple introduced Swift Playgrounds, an app designed to teach the Swift programming language, at WWDC 2016. We’ve had a chance to experiment with it since then, and can say without reservation that their first foray into teaching kids how to code deserves top marks. They have enabled learning to code to be fun and addictive, even for those who aren’t the “coding type.”

The app feels like a puzzle-solving game, reeling you into the challenge while introducing coding concepts and building skills step-by-step. After completing a challenge and receiving encouraging praise from the app, we found we were motivated and eager to move on to the next one. One tester expected to finish two or three challenges to get a feel for the app, but ended up finishing over fifteen lessons because she was so engaged with it. The pace, lesson structure, and challenges all prove to be well-designed from an instructional standpoint. This app will likely teach many future programmers how to code. Read More

iOS or Android: Which First?

iOS or Android: Which platform first?

A common question we receive is whether we recommend building both iOS and Android versions of an app at the same time or just one at a time. And if they are built at different times, should iOS or Android app development come first? We touch on this question in Chapter 3 of our book Inspiring Apps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps, but will provide more insight on this debated topic here.

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