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

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.

A Developer’s Perspective on Creating Apps for the New Apple TV

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.

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iOS7: Because being a developer isn’t hard enough already

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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:


Flurry 

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.

Libraries

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!

2010 WWDC: The Driver’s Seat

The Macintosh put Apple in the driver’s seat for the personal computer revolution in the early 80s. But they were displaced by Microsoft and others, relegated to a ~3% market share at its low point. Since Steve’s return to Apple, the introduction of OS X, the overhaul of their traditional laptop and desktop lines, and the advent of retail stores, Apple has clawed its way up the market share chart.

But something happened with the introduction of iTunes and the iPod. It was the start
of an explosion for Apple. And it propelled Apple to a market position it hadn’t seen in a very long time— if ever. It dominated the music industry with a 70% share of retail sales. Read More

2010 WWDC: What Goes Around

Monday was the first time in a long time (as long as I can remember) when something has gone wrong for Steve Jobs during a high profile presentation like the WWDC keynote address. It is a testament to the preparation that goes into such events. Read More

Matt Drance Prepares for WWDC 2010: Perspective From The Apple Outsider

Matt Drance is a former Technologies Evangelist at Apple. Since his departure, Matt has started Bookhouse Software, an independent iPhone consulting company, and has partnered with Daniel Steinberg to teach at The Pragmatic Studio. He is also the voice of the Apple Outsider blog. Matt shares a few insights as he gets ready for his first WWDC as an attendee. Read More

iPad Apps Approval Process

No one can deny the buzz and enthusiasm surrounding the recent iPad announcement. The sentiment is shared among many developers and consumers alike. But Apple could face a sizable challenge around launch time.

By the time the iPhone SDK was opened to developers, there were already millions of devices in the market. Developers were encouraged to test on hardware (iPhone and iPod Touch) before submitting to the App Store, instead of relying on Read More

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