August 15, 2016
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
August 1, 2016
Category: Mobile Industry
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
July 18, 2016
Category: App Development
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.
June 20, 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
June 6, 2016
Category: App Development
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.
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
March 7, 2016
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.
February 15, 2016
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
January 18, 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.
December 14, 2015
Apple TV, a digital media player that can receive content from multiple sources and stream it to a TV, was first released almost nine years ago. In October of this year, Apple released the fourth generation of the device with its own “tvOS” operating system. Numerous changes occurred to the platform, and one of the most exciting was Apple’s creation of the Apple TV App Store and the unprecedented invitation to outside developers to create apps for it.
We couldn’t wait to experiment with coding on this new device, and two of our app developers jumped right in to test out the experience. Apple hopes to see the new Apple TV impact everything from entertainment to gaming to business, so we explored some simple apps in two of those areas.
August 16, 2013
Category: App Development
For this week’s Lunch and Learn, software engineer Will Helling gave us an overview of the changes he’s discovered as he works to make our ePCR for iPad app compatible with iOS6 and the forthcoming iOS7.
Here are some of the highlights of his presentation:
Design – while the presentation was largely about changes from a developer’s perspective, it’s impossible to talk about iOS7 without mentioning Apple’s radical design changes.
Although they’ve kept their main color scheme (white, blue, grey and black,) Apple decided to allow whitespace to dominate the new design. We noticed that this helps make the content “pop,” compared to the overwhelming frames created by the various toolbars in iOS6.
View control overrides
In iOS7, view controls are automatically set to fullscreen, covering the status bar. However, iOS6 does not have this feature, leaving an awkward gap between the status bar and the view. To ensure compatibility with both operating systems, Will had to use a command that would force fullscreen in iOS6:
iOS7 requires developers using Flurry to update to the most recent version, 4.2.3 – apps not using this version may experience “irrevocable data integrity issues.” Since providing the best tools based on our users demands is a core function of ePCR for iPad, updating this feature was absolutely necessary. In order to update, Will had to download the new SDK and make sure to include Apple’s security framework and ad support framework. And… voila! Flurry is compatible with iOS7.
Will also ran into some backend issues with libraries. iOS7 links to the new XML library… but the old XSLT library is incompatible with the new XML library, and the new XSLT library is incompatible with the old XML library. This required Will to do a manual universal compile of LibXML.
iOS7 will be available to consumers sometime next month, but with some users slow to adopt to a new OS, we’ve emphasized making sure ePCR for iPad works on both systems. As these new changes roll out, we also plan to introduce some new features, like a “night mode” that will be easier on users’ eyes at night.
We have a weekly Lunch and Learn where team members share different aspects of their work. Have a topic you’d like to know more about? Let us know in the comments!
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