Exciting News from Google I/O 2016

Last week brought Google I/O 2016, an annual software developer-focused conference held by Google in San Francisco. Google and Android developers look forward to this with the same enthusiasm that Apple developers anticipate the WWDC conference, and this year we were not disappointed.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked things off with a keynote address that focused mainly on several consumer products, but towards the end he tossed out a few hints about new and upgraded developer tools. In the following days’ breakout sessions those were revealed one-by-one, frequently blowing away the developer attendees. Many of the most exciting developments were new features in the recently released Android Studio 2.2. Here are a few highlights. Read More

Marketing Your App

In 2015, over 1.5 million apps were available in Apple’s App Store (with similar numbers in the Google Play store), but very few garnered significant revenue. With the proliferation of apps, even the best products need concentrated marketing attention to rise above the noise. Your marketing team has ideally been involved since the beginning, doing market research to identify needs and define objectives. Having a clearly defined value proposition is critical, but how do you go about getting the word out to your target market?

As you would expect, there is not a singular answer. The digital marketing age is filled with a myriad of promotional options, and in some ways, there are too many choices. We’ll outline a few key platforms often used in marketing apps, but it’s not likely you’ll want to leverage them all. Knowing your customer base is essential to determining which options will be most effective — and which aren’t worth the time. Read More

2016 April18 Cont Ed

Staying Current with Changing Technology

As a leader in mobile app development, we consider it our responsibility to keep current in the industry. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, though, given the vast number of new products, languages, versions, and technologies that continue to be created. In our experience, staying on top of your game requires two things: time commitment and an awareness of how you learn best. The team at InspiringApps spans a wide variety of personalities and each of us has a preference for how to keep our tech knowledge fresh. Here’s a summary of our techniques for staying sharp in a sea of constant change.

BOOKS
We list many higher-tech options below, but we have to mention books first. The old-fashioned way to learn still has its appeal. We appreciate a few different book series from several publishers:
O’Reilly: www.oreilly.com
Manning Publications, especially the MEAP program: www.manning.com/meap-program
Pragmatic Bookshelf: www.pragprog.com

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Basics of the Mobile App Development Process

Potential clients often wonder what’s involved in the app development process. We previously posted about the importance of doing market research before building an app, and we’ve also discussed some of the technical concerns like operating systems and native vs cross-platform development. If you’ve thought about these market and technical considerations and determined you’re ready to build an app, what comes next? At InspiringApps, we suggest a four-phase process.

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2016 March SXSW

SXSW Interactive 2016

We attended many impressive sessions during our time at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) conference last week. The festival is a showcase for all things tech, and we were inspired by the exhibits, gadgets, and experiences that filled the city of Austin, TX. We focused on sessions in the Design and Development track including: “Fast and Rigorous User Personas,” “Checkbox That Ruined My Life,” and “Designing for Smartwatches.” We found it interesting that several themes emerged from the design sessions, regardless of the session title and topic.

As predicted in our “Tech Innovations to Watch in 2016” blog post from early this year, the Internet of Things was one such theme, specifically in regard to wearables. Most tech users have transitioned from desktop to mobile, and the next transition from mobile to wearable is happening now. Smartwatches and fitness devices remain the most widely-used items in this network of physical objects embedded with technology.

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2016 March Wearables

Wearables: Not Just for Fitness

We love our fitness wearables! Between us, InspiringApps employees possess Apple Watches (with fitness apps), the Garmin Forerunner 220, and a handful of FitBits. The swimmers on our team are looking into Moov Swim to track laps, and some sleep-challenged employees think the Jawbone UP3 that tracks both fitness and ZZZs is worthy of consideration.

We’re not alone in our passion for wearables. A recent report from Gartner predicts that sales of wearable electronic devices will increase 18.4% in 2016 from the previous year. While fitness products lead the market in sales, wearable technology in other industries is causing a buzz too. Several caught our attention in the business, health, and pet industries.

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Tech Review: iPad Pro

We started using the iPad Pro last year, shortly after it was released. We wanted to use this new device the moment it was available, but had to wait one (long, agonizing) week until we could get our hands on it, and then another four (longer, more agonizing) weeks until a Pencil found its way to us. Since then, we’ve used the iPad Pro almost daily. Clients and friends ask the same question in one way or another: What is the iPad Pro good for? Or for our English-degreed counterparts: For what is the iPad Pro good?

First and foremost, the iPad Pro is good for looking at things. It’s big. Very big. With a 12.9” (diagonal) screen, the screen real estate feels as endless as the lingering snow after Boulder’s last snowstorm. The graphics are sharp, photos and videos look clean and precise due to the retina display, and gaming apps seem more fun to play on the expanded screen size.

Better movies and gaming might not be enough to compel purchase, but we think the larger screen size offers benefits to two audiences in particular: the creative community and business users. For creatives, the additional real estate provides the opportunity to express ideas more fully on a larger canvas. Read More

2016 Feb Tech Considerations

App Development: Native vs. Cross-Platform

Last month we talked about how important it is to conduct market research prior to embarking on an app development project. It’s critical for success to begin with a clear definition of your value proposition and target customer, as the technical requirements for your app should be informed by market needs/desires.

Once those are understood, one of first technical choices you’ll make pertains to which mobile operating system to use. Will your app be available for Android users, iOS users, or both? Your research may make it clear that your target audience has a strong preference for one device type or the other. If not, you can consider other factors like OS market share or OS upgrade adoption rates.

This is an important decision because the answer influences the development tools used to create your app. iOS and Android apps are written using different programming languages, so an app by default will only run on one platform or the other. In many instances, it makes sense to develop for both platforms. When that’s the case, the discussion often turns to the topic of native vs cross-platform development. We firmly believe this is a topic worth discussing with your app development partner, but we’ll share our experience with you so you have a starting point for consideration.

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blog_VR option

Tech Innovations to Watch in 2016

We enjoyed a relaxing holiday checking out new gadgets and thinking about what new innovations might make an impact in 2016. Our tech-savvy employees are excited about a wide range of things, including some renewed technology from years past. While an incredible number of amazing items were recently showcased at CES in Las Vegas, our list highlights items our team members might utilize personally. In no particular order, we present our list of tech innovations to watch in 2016.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). While this technology has been around for awhile, hype is building around new AR and VR products to be released this year. Oculus Rift, running on a high-end PC with a powerful graphics card, will be our first choice for experimentation. HTC Vive offers another highly-rated VR experience, and PlayStation VR, running off a PlayStation 4, is also a noteworthy system in the mix.

Apps for Owner’s Manuals. AR is not only for gaming, and we think some of the business oriented uses are pretty compelling. For example, Hyundai updated its Hyundai Virtual Guide with AR, potentially making owner’s manuals a thing of the past. Just point your phone at your car, and the app uses AR to display information that details what you’re looking at.

The Internet of Things. The IoT is “the network of physical objects or ‘things’ embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.” While IoT also has been around for many years, the use of connected things may rise 30% in 2016. Gartner forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide this year, and we anticipate daily life could be greatly enhanced as a result.

A $5 Computer. Since 2012 the Raspberry Pi Foundation has allowed computer hobbyists to create personal projects using its affordable boards. It recently announced its latest programmable board, called the Raspberry Pi Zero, will be available for only $5. The Pi Zero can be used to connect the computer to home devices, to build inexpensive robots, and to create games.

Smarter Smart TVs. Smart TVs have also been around for years, but have lacked a rich ecosystem of apps to run on them. That should change dramatically in the coming year, now that Apple has allowed the large community of iOS developers to build apps for the latest release of the Apple TV. We anticipate considerable advances in living room and board room TV experiences as a result.

Fitbit Blaze. This smartwatch offers a sleek design, color touch screen and interchangeable watch faces. With more features than the standard Fitbit, and an affordable price, it’s bound to make an impact for fitness and tech enthusiasts.

Podcasting. Serial, a podcast that debuted last October, introduced many new listeners to the medium, and fresh shows and subscriptions followed. The evolution of technology, and the ease with which you can listen to a podcast on your device or in your car, predicts that podcasts are here to stay.

Linux. We have a Linux enthusiast on our team who states, “The Linux Desktop has been solid and mature for a long time, but recently the efforts of polish have really started to show.” Additionally, Swift, a programming language created by Apple for iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS development, was recently open-sourced and is now available on Linux. We’re excited to see whether or not developers adopt Swift as a server-side programming language on Linux.

We are eager to see these – and more – new technological innovations come to fruition in the coming year.

2016_Jan_market

App Development: Market Considerations

The start of the new year tends to be filled with resolutions, and perhaps one of yours is to build that app you’ve been contemplating for so long. App development has exploded over the past several years, so if you have a great idea, it is tempting to rush headlong into a project. Before diving into the technical details, though, we encourage you to spend time clearly defining the opportunity, and reflecting it against existing solutions. This is necessary whether your target user is an internal team or a consumer external to your company. It’s even true for gaming apps, as differentiation is always valuable.

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