Top App Design Tools

Top App Design Tools

Thoughtful design offers a definitive competitive advantage in numerous industries, and app development is no exception. Design impacts everything from the app’s appearance, to its ease of use, to the emotions people feel while using it. As noted in our book review of Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products, the way people feel when interacting with a product strongly influence whether or not it succeeds.

InspiringApps employs a four-stage process (discovery, design, development, and deployment) to take a mobile application from start to finish. While each phase is critical to the launch of a successful product, decisions made during the design phase lay the foundation for the app. Our designers understand the impact of design and consider many factors in order to create an outstanding product.

It’s useful as a client to have a high level understanding of the process and tools, for it enables you to know what kind of information is valuable at each stage. The list below summarizes the app design tools we use frequently. Each tool has a place in the process, enabling us to ideate, communicate needs with our team, and share the developing vision with our clients. Read More

Hooked book

Getting People Hooked on Your App

Happy 2017! We hope this year holds prosperity and success for you. We’ll do our part to advance your success by including content in our blog that is interesting and informative to people like us: people inspired and energized by technology and all its nuances. We’re kicking off the year with a review of a book that we think you should add to your reading list for 2017.

When someone comes to us with a new app idea and says, “I know nothing about app development,” we always encourage them to get a free copy of our book. It provides a broad overview of the business and technical considerations involved in an app development project. We have recently come across another book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, that we think is an excellent companion to it.

Why do some apps succeed while others do not? Author Nir Eyal would suggest it’s because use of the app has become a habit. Habit creation is both an art and a science, and Eyal unpacks the science of it through explaining a design pattern called “the hook.” A hook is an experience designed to connect the user’s problem to the company’s solution with enough frequency to form a habit. 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

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.

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

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

Staying Current with Changing Technology

Staying Current with Changing Technology

As a leader in mobile app development, we consider it our responsibility to keep current with changing technology. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, though, given the vast number of new products, languages, versions, and technologies that continue to be created in this industry. 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. Read More

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