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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HTC Vive Headset

HTC Vive: A Review of One VR System

Back in January, we predicted important tech innovations for 2016 would include Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Several products are leading the VR market, and we’ve had an opportunity to evaluate one of them, the HTC Vive, firsthand. One of our software engineers, Will, recently acquired the Vive and volunteered to write this review. Below is Will’s personal history of gaming and his impression of the Vive. Read More

Apple WWDC OS options

Key Announcements from Apple WWDC 2016

Apple’s developer conference, WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference), kicked off with a keynote address last week that garnered thunderous applause for CEO Tim Cook’s announcements of all things shiny and new from the tech company. The keynote is designed to appeal to the press and general public as much as (if not more than) developers. And if you watch it, you may find yourself cheering along with the audience as new emojis, animated text messages, and fun music features are demonstrated for the first time.

While those announcements are entertaining, we’re more interested in the improvements made behind the scenes that do not make for splashy headlines and cute demos. This year was full of plenty of such changes on the software front – in fact, for the first time in as long as we can remember, the cool, new things were not in the form of hardware. The Apple software improvements are exciting though, because they will allow us to make apps more quickly, that run more reliably, and perform better at a lower cost for our clients. Here are a few highlights from Apple’s announcements: Read More

Keeping App Users Engaged

Keeping Users Engaged with Your App

We’ve talked a lot in recent months about developing an app and the basics of app marketing, but launching your app is really just the beginning. There are many things to do to keep your app users engaged, and to keep your app running smoothly, after the first version hits the app stores. Here are some things to consider post v1.

Stay Relevant
While it may seem obvious, make sure your app stays relevant to your users. They purchased your app because it met a need. As their needs evolve, make sure your app does too. Staying relevant could include everything from keeping content fresh, to adding new features, to offering special promotions throughout the year. Paying attention to what features your top users employ can help give insights into areas you want to continue to grow. Read More

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