Monthly Archives: February 2015

Swift 1.2 Arrives: 13 New Features

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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The worldwide iOS app development community is all abuzz with Swift 1.2 – which was launched in early-February. We have here highlighted the main features of interest in the new version of the language.

 

It took Google’s Go programming language well over 5 years since its release (in 2009), to feature among the top-20 coding languages. Apple, with Swift, has definitely stolen a march over its arch-rivals in this regard. Ever since getting the Gold Master (1.0) status in September, Swift has been riding on a crest of popularity among professional coders and iOS app developers. A recent Redmonk survey showed that the language had jumped an unprecedented 46 places in terms of popularity during the period between the third quarter of 2014 and January 2015 (the respective positions of Swift on the popularity list were 68 and 22). Earlier this month, a major update, Swift 1.2, was released along with Xcode 6.3 beta. Let us here take a look at some of the key new features of the latest iteration of Swift:

 

  1. Compiler diagnostics have become smarter - Chances of undetected errors and program bugs are minimal in Swift 1.2, thanks to the all-new Fix-it feature. Coders and developers would also get real-time error messages and warnings. This, in turn, will make program debugging on the go a whole lot easier. The final testing phase of Swift apps will become less complicated as well.
  2. Lesser warnings from SourceKit – Provided that the codes used by iOS/Mac developers are updated, SourceKit warnings generated from the Xcode editor will go down in Swift 1.2 drastically. Compiler crashes, a relatively frequent occurrence in the otherwise good earlier version of Swift, will become much, much rarer too. In essence, the new version of the Swift language makes the programming framework (Xcode) more efficient.
  3. The ‘Pyramid Of Doom’ has disappeared – Yep, we are talking about the multiple if-let coding architecture in the previous versions of the language. iPhone app development experts can now use multiple optionals for testing with a single if-let statement. Earlier on, it used to be a case of testing a single optional at one go, which tended to unnecessarily complicate the overall program. To avoid additional indentations, the new ‘where’ keyword (boolean inline) is very useful.
  4. Advantage of Incremental Build feature – Much to the delight of iOS developers, incremental build in Swift 1.2 lowers the build time considerably. The builds that are not changed are no longer auto recompiled by the new edition of the programming language. In case making a structural change in the program is necessary, the relevant files have to be re-created though.
  5. Easier downcasts with new keywords – While coding for apps with Swift, developers had to, till now, use the same keyword (‘as’) for both upcasts and downcasts. While there were hardly any room for error with the former – downcasts could become confusing, particularly if a coder did not have a clear idea of the class structure of the code. Swift 1.2 brings two keyword variations for making downcasts – the optional (‘as?’) and the forced (‘as!’). If you are a relative newbie on the Swift platform, go with the ‘as?’ keyword for optional binding.
  6. Using let constants will no longer be uncertain – Early adopters of the Swift language had highlighted the many complications that arose due to reassigning and/or changing let constants in any way, after they have been initialized. The latest version of the language does away with this problem altogether. General coders and mobile app developers have to mandatorily initialize every let constant (just as it is done with ‘var’). The constant can be used only after initialization. The reassigning option has been discontinued.
  7. Better semantics and Set data structure – Apple has given the erstwhile value semantics of Swift an overhaul as well. Users will now be able to take advantage of a whole new set of semantics, like Dictionary and Array. In addition, the functionality of NSSet has been bolstered with many new (unordered) elements. The overall native data structure in ‘Set’ has become more stable and powerful. There are no chances of duplicates getting stored in the Set struct. The only bone of concern is, stuff like NSDate are still missing.
  8. Swift 1.2 is swifter – Versions 1.0 and 1.1 of Swift were, contrary to the expectations of iOS developers, significantly slower than Objective-C (particularly during debugging, but also at the Build stage. Swift 1.2 more or less balances things out, and offers much higher coding and compiling speeds. The performance of the Release build has undergone a major upgrade, with several new optimizations coming in. The Debug build has also been boosted with binaries that are executable faster. In comparative terms, Swift is now (finally) more or less at par with Obj-C, and is getting better all the time.
  9. More stable compiler – This is a relatively minor change, but still, adds a lot to the overall stability factor of the Swift language. According to professionals who create iPhone/iPad apps, the re-engineered compiler of Swift 1.2 is a lot smoother, and is considerably less prone to bugs and crashes. During every stage of coding, the latest version of Swift offers greater runtime developer support.
  10. Exporting enums to Obj-C is easier – Although there have been rumors about the popularity of Objective-C stalling somewhat in last few months, Apple does not have any plans to phase it out (yet). Swift was always presented as a language that worked in collaboration with Obj.-C – and the new 1.2 version further highlights this. With the ‘@objc’ attribute, programmers and app developers can now seamlessly port enums from Swift to the Objective-C platform. For those learning to code with Swift, this comes in handy.
  11. New qualifiers for arguments and properties – App coders loved the option to message ‘nil’ in Objective-C, a feature that Swift does not have. However, the addition of new qualifiers for variables and arguments in the latest version of the programming language go a long way in making up for that. Null_unspecified, nonnull and nullable (only the last one can be set to nil) are the three qualifiers available to set the type of properties and arguments in a program. Developers who are not maintaining an Objective-C code can add these qualifiers to the Cocoa headers, for a more streamlined coding experience in Swift.
  12. More native Swift equivalents – Swift 1.2 makes it easier than ever before for iOS developers to cross over from Obj-C. It is pretty much clear that Apple is gradually opting for Swift implementations for most default classes in the older language. In Swift 1.2, it is no longer possible to automatically bridge classes like NSArray and NSString (in fact, any class in Obj-C that had a Swift equivalent). Unless the type conversion statement is explicit and includes the required native Swift equivalent, errors will be thrown up.
  13. Swift migrator for existing users of the language – An extremely handy feature of Swift 1.2 is the dedicated ‘Swift Migrator’. With it, codes for apps written in earlier versions of the language (1.0 and 1.1) can be ported to 1.2 with ease – and the effects checked out. Of course, both Swift 1.2 and Xcode 6.3 are in the beta-stage, and their final release is still a fair way away. Until Swift 1.2 gets Gold Master status, you cannot submit apps written in it to the store.

The latest version of Swift, with the Xcode 6.3 tool, can be used to create apps for Apple Watch, OS X Yosemite, and of course, the iOS 8.3 (beta 2 was released this week) platform. To check out previews of old codes in Swift 1.2, developers need to go to Edit → Convert → To Swift 1.2 (a target has to be selected to get the previews from Xcode). The adoption rate of Swift has already been impressive, and the new update has made the language smarter and even more developer-friendly.

 

1Cloud2 App By Teknowledge

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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This project was like a proverbial ‘breath of fresh air’ for us. We were simultaneously working on four separate social networking apps, when the head of ATN Marketing SRL approached us with the concept of 1Cloud2. The idea of making an app that was all about cloud storage and access immediately appealed to us. We sent along a detailed free app quote on the same day, and the actual mobile app development process started four days later.

1Cloud2 is a cloud storage and sharing app

“I feel that there are not enough mobile apps for data storage and access on the cloud, on either iOS or Android. When my team got the 1Cloud2 project, we were just that bit extra keen to make this a really good, useful application. The guys at ATN Marketing deserve a lot of kudos of coming up with such a smart and innovative app idea.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Mobile Studio)

 

Choosing The iOS Platform

 

Considering the professional nature of this application, the decision to start off with an iOS version of 1Cloud2 came naturally. The representatives of ATN Marketing SRL also concurred with our opinion of selecting iOS over Android as the initial platform of choice for this app. It has been less than a month since the app has debuted at iTunes (incidentally, 1Cloud2 is Teknowledge Software’s 650th application) – and judging by the favorable reviews it has already received, we might start working on an Android version sometime later.

1Cloud2 is a free iPhone app, and is very easy to install

“The idea was to make the 1Cloud2 app available to as many smartphone users as possible. At the same time, we did not want it to go all out and end up with one or more versions of it lagging behind. After a couple of discussions with Hussain, we decided to make 1Cloud2 a customized iOS application.”

 

– Head, ATN Marketing SRL

 

In keeping with the client’s specifications, our mobile app developers optimized 1Cloud2 for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. We took particular care to ensure that the app was properly viewable and retained all its functionality on the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices.

Documents and images in all formats can be stored on 1Cloud2

What Can Be Stored & Shared With 1Cloud2?

 

“People, in general, are increasingly willing to save and share all sorts of documents and files over the cloud network, on a real time basis. Our endeavor was to make 1Cloud2 an app that did not pose any difficulties whatsoever to users trying to upload docs in any particular format.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Mobile Studio)

 

Our iPhone app development experts created preliminary sketches and wireframes of the application and shared them with the personnel at ATN Marketing. The app was meant to serve as a tool for sharing/storing both documents (in any format) as well as HQ images. After a few consultations with the client, the controls and features were finalized.

It's easy to share HQ photos on 1Cloud2

“It was a cloud-storage and sharing app, and the last thing we wanted was it to have any restrictions or shortcomings. That’s why we requested Hussain to make sure 1Cloud2 does not have locational restrictions. It’s a good thing that he and his team were real experts, and they created 1Cloud2 just the way we had envisaged.”

 

– Head, ATN Marketing SRL

 

Giving More Options To Users

 

1Cloud2 has been chalked out in a way that people would never face any space-crunch while sharing/uploading files. The client was of the opinion that giving people 1TB of storage space in the app should be a good idea. Our iOS app developers agreed that 1TB was more than enough for general cloud usage requirements of users. Next came the issue of subscription options.

There are 3 paid subscription options on the 1Cloud2 app

“I did not want to unnecessarily complicate matters by playing around with the storage space of the 1Cloud2 app. Instead, the idea of offering different subscription periods or payment plans to clients seemed to make a lot more sense.”

 

– Head, ATN Marketing SRL

 

Finally, we went with 3 different paid subscription options for the app. The 3-month option was priced at 21.99 Euros, going for the 6-month option cost users 40.99 Euros, while the annual subscription was associated with a price tag of 69.99 Euros. The app itself was, of course, free to download.

 

“Unlike most half-baked cloud-storage apps that are already present, 1Cloud2 is not about a single, has-to-be-taken subscription option. People can take their pick from three different payment plans, depending on their storage requirements and budget preferences. Why force someone with a year-long subscription, if (s)he does not need it?”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Mobile Studio)

 

Speed, Security & More…

 

There is no shortage of websites and mobile apps in which uploading/downloading files are painfully slow processes. Our app development team felt that 1Cloud2 could really make a mark in this regard. On this application, uploading any file (provided that it is less than 100 MB (free account) and less than 1 GB (premium account) in size) takes only a few seconds. Downloading and accessing shared files are similarly fast.

Screenshot of stored music in 1Cloud2

“A common…and I should add, justified…apprehension in the minds of people is about the security of the stuff that they share over the cloud network. After all, cases of high-profile data hacks and unauthorized data access have been disturbingly frequent in the last couple of years. We were determined to make 1Cloud2 a really, really secure application. Thankfully, it has turned out to be just that!”

 

– Head, ATN Marketing SRL

 

During the mobile app testing phase for 1Cloud2, we focused on implementing and checking high-end data security on the app. In fact, this took a couple of weeks – after which the app was submitted at the App Store. It was approved quickly though.

 

Greater Convenience To 1Cloud2 Users

“As someone who uses web-based cloud storage services regularly, I find the frequent plan renewal notifications to be rather annoying. From the very start, me and my developers had decided to make the subscription plans of 1Cloud2 auto-renewable. We had a chat with the head of ATN, and he agreed that it would be the right way to go.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

When the app development project was nearly complete, one of our developers (smart of him!) pointed out that people might want to turn off the auto renewal option. Accordingly, we included that option in the app as well, but with one condition. The feature had to be turned off at least twenty-four hours before the existing plan was scheduled to expire. It was yet another way of making sure that people could use the app in just the way they wanted.

 

“I downloaded 1Cloud2 in February, and have gone for the 3-month subscription plan. Till now, the app has worked without a hitch…and I have already shared close to 100 photos via the app. The auto-renewal option is a peace of mind, really.”

– Justin Gomez (iPhone 6 Plus-user)

(downloaded 1Cloud2 on February 6, 2015)

1Cloud2 has a very user-friendly interface

At any time, users can check the available space in their account. From the settings page, they can set up the ‘Passcode Lock’ for their cloud data, as well as upgrade to a premium account. Data saved in premium accounts are never erased (unlike the 60-day span of free account data), and users get even higher download speeds too.

 

Room Of Improvement

 

Constantly upgrading our services has always been a hallmark of our mobile app company. 1Cloud2 gave us a perfect opportunity to learn more about cloud-storage preferences and requirements of general users. Till now, the feedback and app reviews have been unanimously positive, and we have plans to gradually improve the app further over time.

 

“The one thing about Teknowledge that really impressed me was the adaptability and willingness to learn among the app developers there. Their coding expertise was excellent, they kept me in the loop at all times, and together with Hussain, we are trying to make 1Cloud2 more and more attuned to user-requirements.”

 

– Head, ATN Marketing SRL

Terms & Conditions screen of 1Cloud2

Creating 1Cloud2 was one of the most challenging projects ever at Teknowledge, and being able to complete it successfully was immensely satisfying. The satisfaction of the client, the good reviews, and the encouraging initial download figures suggest that we have done a fairly good job. Each of us learnt a lot while working on this project.

 

1Cloud2 is available for free download at https://itunes.apple.com/app/id910577400. Further information about 1Cloud2 can be obtained by visiting http://1cloud2.com/. As far as mobile cloud-storage apps on the iOS platform are concerned, this one is probably the very best!

AppBoard Tuesday – 11 New Challenges For App Developers In 2015

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Happy Tuesday, folks – and let’s dive right into yet another edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT), your weekly dose of all things related to apps. Today, we will we look at the entire concept of mobile app development from a futuristic perspective.

Making successful mobile apps is all about moving with the times, keeping pace with the evolution of technology, and knowing the pulse of targeted final users. We are well into 2015, and sticking with the methods that worked well five years back simply won’t cut it any longer. In this week’s ABT, we list a few challenges that contemporary app developers must fulfill, to achieve professional success:

 

  1. Level of data access – Over the last few quarters, there has been a tremendous increase in the volume of data storage and transfer via mobile apps. That, in turn, has heightened the importance of determining the right data access level. Developers need to determine whether browser-level or device-level data access would be suitable for any particular app (depending on, of course, its nature). For certain iOS applications, allowing database-level data access might also be required.
  2. Developing for wearable gadgets – Google Glass might have bit the dust, but wearable technology is still the new in-thing. The big release in the first half of 2015 is, of course, Apple Watch (scheduled to hit the markets in April). Earlier this month, Pebble started an app store for its smartwatch, with well over a thousand applications. Developers need to start learning how to make apps for Apple Watch and other Android Wear devices. For iOS experts, getting a grip over the WatchKit tool is vital.
  3. Native apps or Web apps? – If you have the budget and a proper team of developers, native apps should be the way to go. Recent surveys have shown that, mobile web apps tend to be comparatively slower, and there can be accessibility-related glitches in them too. However, you can always start off with a simple web app (to be displayed in the browser of mobile devices), and move on to native app development later. Hybrid apps (a mix of native and web applications) can also be made.
  4. Keeping track of new devices – Sony Xperia Z4, Samsung Galaxy S6, LG G4, Asus Zenfone 2 – there’s a lot of new handsets likely to be released during this year (ah well, this has been the trend over the last few years). Google’s Project Ara has been a hot topic of discussion among Android enthusiasts, and iPhone 6S (or will it be iPhone 7?) might be coming along in September. The onus is on mobile app companies to keep track of all the popular smartphones and phablets in the markets, and test their apps on each of them. If an app works well only on a small set of devices, its chances of success automatically get stunted.
  5. Implementing data encryption, authentication and general security support – Be it for enterprise apps or general applications, mobile device management has emerged as a vital issue. Personal data of various types (names, passwords, account numbers, confidential official data, card details, etc.) are sent via apps – and people are naturally wary of the ones which do not promise secure mobile data encryption and protection from unauthorized access. With the arrival of Apple Pay, the demand for additional data security has gone up further. App developers have to ensure that users will be able to place complete trust on their products. Or else, there will always be alternatives.
  6. HTML5 for mobile apps – Setting aside the native vs hybrid apps debate for a moment, HTML5 is going to be the technology that will rule the roost for enterprise apps in 2015. A Gartner survey has already predicted that, 9 out of every 10 enterprise applications this year will be created by using HTML5. If you plan to dive into enterprise app-making big-time, this is the time to learn the nitty-gritty of how to work with HTML5. If you lack this skill, you will lose out on good opportunities.
  7. Relevant is no longer effective – Is a calendar app relevant? Absolutely. Is yet another social networking app or IM app relevant? If well-made, yes. But do they serve any purpose that has not been already catered for? No and no. Android and iPhone app developers will have to understand that, making a relevant app would no longer matter – if the latter does not have new, innovative features and utilities. In 2015 and beyond, apps have to be ‘effective’ to be a hit…being ‘relevant’ will not be enough.
  8. Making full use of phone features – Any app development expert worth his/her salt will need to know how to get optimum cooperative capabilities from each application. In simpler terms, if an app has the scope of including the camera, the audio, the keyboard (virtual), the QR scanner, or any other built-in feature of the device it is installed on – it should be able to do so seamlessly. What’s more, reactive capabilities are likely to come into focus. Location detection (via satellite or network) and motion control/gesture control are classic examples of reactive features that can be present in an app. It will all be about delivering more value to users by making smart devices smarter.
  9. Most apps would require multi-platform versions – At least enterprise apps would certainly need to have separate, cross-platform versions. Many organizations are falling in line with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, and there is no saying which mobile platform any particular employee might be using. The smart way out would be cross-platform development, ensuring that everyone who needs access to a professional app gets it. The different app versions need to be customized for the different platforms. A great iPhone app can be horribly slow and/or prone to crashes on Android devices (this is true for the other way round too). Be familiar with the app development SDK of each platform – and work accordingly.
  10. Validations need to be server-side – The reason, you ask? Because server-side validations ensure that users do not experience any distractions/disruptions while using the concerned mobile applications. Since all the complicated codes required for validation are stored in the app server, there are no adverse effects on the speed and overall performance of the app either. Client-side validations are plain annoying, and developers who persist with them in 2015 are likely to face problems.
  11. More emphasis on connectivity issues – Ensuring that there are no problems in the wi-fi connectivity of mobile apps is necessary, but will no longer be sufficient, for developers. NFC (near field communication) has been around on Android since a couple of years, and it has finally arrived on Apple – and new apps will need to be compatible with this technology too. Infrared LED and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity of applications also have to be strong, reliable and secure. Better connectivity would rev up the overall usability quotient of any app.

 

The importance of intuitive UI/UX designing is, at present, greater than ever before. Mobile app companies (even the small ones and startups) must have separate, proficient teams of animators and graphic designers. With increase in the average number of apps on a device, as well as the advent of new-age smart devices (e.g., smartwatches) – the average user-interaction period with any single application is also going down. This is another factor developers have to keep under consideration. It has been predicted that total global spending on mobile apps will reach a whopping $35 billion by the end of 2015. App development will become even more financially rewarding – but only if you know how to make a mark in this domain.

 

So, that’s that for this week’s AppBoard Tuesday. If you are planning get your feet wet in the field of iOS or Android app development, do write in. In case you feel that there are further challenges for developers we have missed out on, get in touch and send us your lists. We will be more than happy to take a look and add your points.

 

ABT will return…(when else?)…next Tuesday. Till the next time, stay well, keep learning about mobile technology, and love thy apps!

 

Making A WatchKit App: A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Making apps for Apple Watch is something on the minds of every dedicated iOS developer across the world. Here is a stagewise, detailed description of how you can create a demo WatchKit application.

 

Any iOS app developer worth his/her salt would be aware that Xcode 6.3 beta has been released along with Swift 1.2. This is the framework to be used for making apps for Apple Watch – with WatchKit (released in mid-November). With all due respect to the ‘large’ iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Watch is probably the most exciting gadget from the Cupertino company in recent times. With the launch of the much-hyped smartwatch looming in April 2015, here is a step-by-step guideline on how you should go about making a WatchKit application:

 

  1. Know the basics – First, a bit of theory. Third-party app developers need to know that there are two separate things that need to be worked on together, for making a Watch application. The first of them is the WatchKit app itself, which has all the resource files (including storyboards) and documents for developers. The second is the WatchKit extension, which provides the coding support for customizing the UI of the apps. The former is present in Watch, while the extension resides in the paired iPhone. You must be aware that Watch HAS to be paired with an iPhone to be of any real use, right?
  2. Get the latest version of Xcode – Many indie app developers are making the the mistake of working with outdated Xcode versions, while trying their hand at making WatchKit apps. Do not make the same folly, and head over to https://developer.apple.com/xcode/downloads/, to download Xcode 6.3 beta. It comes with 6D520o build, and has the entire OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.3 beta SDK support. If your Mac system is not updated, now is the time to move on to Yosemite. (Note: You can start off with Xcode 6.2 beta 5 as well, although that is not advisable).
  3. Start a new project – Mobile app developers working with Xcode will be familiar with this stage. all that you have to do here is select a ‘Create A New Project’ option (File → New → Target) on the Xcode beta screen. You will find 5 alternative templates displayed – choose the ‘Single View Application’ option from them. Save the project in the usual manner.
  4. Move over to Watch app – Any iOS app development project starts off with the previous step. From this stage, you will be focusing on making an app for Watch. When you select ‘Target’ (under ‘File → New’) a new window will appear, with the ‘Watch app’ icon. This is the template for creating WatchKit apps with the extension on the paired device. Select it, and you are good to go.
  5. Fill up the required fields – On the next screen, you will find a short form, which needs to be filled up. Note that some of the fields (for instance, product name, are pre-entered and cannot be changed). Put in your organization name (if you are a freelance app developer, put something here that will be easy to remember). Make sure that you select Swift as the programming language. Once you are done with filling up the form, hit ‘Finish’. In case you find that the screen has become unresponsive, you might have to reinstall Xcode all over again.
  6. To check or not to check? – Most early WatchKit app development experts are recommend unchecking the ‘Include Glance Scene’ and ‘Include Notifications scene’ options on the screen (which came up during the previous step). However, if you do wish to create an application with an active notification interface, you can leave that option checked. An extra file for bug-testing the interface will automatically created. In case you keep the option unchecked, the same file has to created manually later on. For developers working for the first-time with WatchKit, starting with no Notifications and Glances scene options should be the way to go. More elaborate projects can always be tackled later.
  7. The bundle IDs will now be configured – If you have completed the earlier steps correctly, the bundle IDs of the WatchKit app as well as the WatchKit extension will be configured now. In your Xcode iOS project, separate files will be added by the framework to the different targets (app and extension). You will find that these two bundle IDs match with that of the related iOS application. If the three are not in sync, there must have been some errors in the earlier setup.
  8. Make a new label – You had selected the ‘Watch App’ template under ‘Target’, right? Now, you will need to add a label to the playground. Doing so is simple enough: click on the ‘Interface.storyboard’ option in the BitWatch Watch App group. The storyboard will display a blank interface controller, on which label(s) have to be added (for starters, try out ‘Hello World’). You can drag and drop a label from the object library, and add button(s) above or below it. On the right-hand side, you will find options to specify the ‘Position’ of the label. Both the horizontal and the vertical fields should be set to ‘Center’.
  9. No AutoLayout – This is a significant departure of WatchKit from generic iOS app development tools. While adding labels and buttons, you will find that the objects can be added/modified ONLY vertically (i.e., on top of one another), and not in any freestyle form – as is generally the case with the usual iOS dragging options. Instead, on Apple Watch, all objects have to be ‘pinned’ on something else (other objects, screen edges, etc.). Since the screen real estate on Watch is small, the absence of Auto Layout does make sense, and ‘pinning’ is good enough for giving your app a streamlined appearance.
  10. Connect Outlets with Actions – This part might feel slightly confusing for first-time WatchKit app developers. After all, the storyboard is in the Watch (WatchKit app), while the codes are all stored in the paired iPhone (WatchKit extension) – so how are they supposed to connect with each other? Well, you need not worry too much over that, since this wireless connection between Actions and Outlets is established via Bluetooth (this is part of Apple’s setup for WatchKit). To make the connection, navigate to the ‘Assistant editor’ window, and check if ‘InterfaceController.swift’ is visible (if not, try refreshing the window). Make an outlet (in the InterfaceController class), click on ‘Connect’, drag a button to the class, choose ‘action’, and click ‘Connect’ once again. That’s it – the Actions and Outlets should now be in sync.
  11. Test your WatchKit app – Just like regular mobile app testing, properly testing apps for Apple Watch is also of paramount importance. Once you have built and run the app, move it to the iOS Simulator. Enable ‘Apple Watch’ as the ‘External Display’ device. Under Hardware → External Displays, you will find two alternative Watch options (38 mm and 42 mm). Test the app for both. There should be two simulator windows (one for Watch, the other for the paired iPhone).
  12. Next up, run your app – Okay, now you are almost done. iOS app developers only have to run their WatchKit applications at this stage. For the purpose, there is a full list of iOS device simulators under ‘WatchKitDemo Watch App’. Run the app on all the simulators – right from iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, to iPad Air and iPad Retina. You can test the app in different screen resolution levels as well.

 

For testing WatchKit apps, a notifications payload (e.g., a JSON payload) has to be specified to the interface. The scheme editor comes in handy for this purpose. The app interface can be customized further, by adding images and other objects. Invest some time on getting a proper feel of the WatchKit App architecture – once you have done that, you will find that creating apps for Watch is fairly simple!

 

Talk Nah! App By Teknowledge

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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At Teknowledge, we pride ourselves at being able to handle any type of app development project. Even so, the idea of making yet another social networking app did not really interest us at first. That was, of course, until Rajiv, the concept developer of Talk Nah!, explained the basic functionality he wanted in this app. Once we got the hang of what the app would be like, we were properly hooked!

Talk Nah is a unique social networking app

Selecting Teknowledge Software For The Talk Nah! Project

“Although I was confident that my social networking app idea was unique, there were certain reservations. There were so many apps in the same category at the app store – and making my app stand out was likely to be a challenge. It’s a good thing that my idea was utilized in the best possible manner by the developers at Teknowledge, led by their talismanic CEO, Hussain.”

 

– Rajiv Maharaj (Head, Sky IT Ltd; Founder, Talk Nah! app)

 

After Rajiv had explained the app to our team of iOS developers online, we sent him a detailed free app quote. Within the next couple of days, all the terms had been agreed upon, and we moved on to the actual implementation stage.

 

Why iOS Over Android?

Talk Nah allows anonymous posting on others' walls

This was a question we had posed to Rajiv at the very outset. After all, the success of any app hinged critically on its reach, right? Soon enough, we found out that he and his team had a systematic rollout plan already in place for Talk Nah! The initial release of this mobile social networking application would be followed by an improved Version 2 (sometime in the first half of 2015), as well as an Android version.

 

“I found Rajiv’s strategy of testing the waters before plunging headlong for the Talk Nah! project to be interesting. It made a lot of sense to release an iOS-only version first, and monitor the response of targeted users to it. Based on that, the updated version for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch will be chalked out – and a version for Google Play Store will also be released.”

 

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

With well over 8 years of experience in the line of cross-platform mobile app development and around 650 apps in our kitty – Teknowledge is at a position to handle the Android project of Talk Nah! as well.

 

USP Of Talk Nah!

Talk Nah has multiple interesting features

“Was the underlying idea for Talk Nah! sound enough? Absolutely. Would it be able to stand out from the thousands of social interaction apps showcased at iTunes? Frankly, I wasn’t very sure.”

 

– Rajiv Maharaj (Head, Sky IT Ltd; Founder, Talk Nah! app)

 

Rajiv agreed with the app developers working on the project that Talk Nah! needed to have a really interesting USP, which would set it apart from other iOS apps in the same genre. Several ideas were floated, discussed and trashed at our drawing board…until the concept of ‘anonymous interactions’ was brought to the table. Make no mistake, this feature has turned out to be probably the most loved feature about this social app.

 

During those early days of the Talk Nah project, I was practically obsessed with trying to find out how this app could be given a different feel. There were literally a couple of sleepless nights. As soon as the idea of anonymous social connections was floated, there was a general consensus that this was it.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

So, How Does Talk Nah! Work?

Talk Nah! had been conceptualized by Rajiv, and created by our app development team, as an application that offered a whole lot more than general social networking and IM apps. On this iPhone app, users have been given the option to share their thoughts and opinions about anything under the sun, without ever having to disclose their identity. HD images and other media files can also be shared with ease. There is an additional option to mark any conversation as ‘Favourite’. This feature is, in essence, similar to bookmarking a website, and people could return to their ‘Favourite’ conversations later on, at their convenience.

Talk Nah! boasts of user-friendly in-app navigation features

“Apart from the intriguing anonymity feature, I wanted Talk Nah! to be a medium via which users could view and rate each other’s posts and comments. Hussain and his developers created a very nice interface for the app, making the task of rating comments really easy.”

 

– Rajiv Maharaj (Head, Sky IT Ltd; Founder, Talk Nah! app)

 

 

 

The Fun Element Of Talk Nah!

“There was a very fine line in making Talk Nah! a fun social networking app, and letting it seem too frivolous. I realized that there wasn’t much scope to play around with the color themes and general UI of the app. That’s why Rajiv and I decided to make the names of some of the features rather chuckleworthy.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

If you have not already used Talk Nah! on your handset, the term ‘Bodow’ might seem strange to you. However, this funny word (borrowed from, of course, ‘bowdown’) actually refers to the act of rating up a comment on the Talk Nah! comment. Similarly, if someone does not like a comment posted by another, (s)he can simply mark it as a ‘Failure’. As the Talk Nah! community grows in size – the maze of ‘Bodow’-s and ‘Failure’-s would surely get more interesting.

 

Inclusion Of The Search Feature

tn2

At first, including a ‘Search’ option was not considered necessary for Talk Nah! Later on though, Rajiv pointed out (and we realized too) that it might well happen that a particular user does not find any of the existing topics/conversations in the app to be interesting enough. A ‘Search’ box would enable him/her to look up the stuff (s)he loves with the minimum of fuss – and would enhance the functions of the app as well. In the end, we did include searchability in ‘Talk Nah’.

 

“My focus was constantly on bringing the users of Talk Nah! up close and personal with topics of their interest. In addition to the live feed option on the individual walls, the top-rated and currently trending topics could be viewed under separate tabs. The addition of searchability was yet another attempt to help people discover topics that they love.”

 

– Rajiv Maharaj (Head, Sky IT Ltd; Founder, Talk Nah! app)

 

 

Starting Out With Talk Nah!

 

The last thing we wanted for our all-new social networking and conversations app was any type of problem in its downloading, installation and usage. With a size of meagre 4.7 MB, we made sure that the app would never hog phone memory and bandwidth. After installing the app on iOS device(s), all that people had to do was choose a unique username, and select their country – and they were good to go. Anonymity was guaranteed during conversations.

Talk Nah takes mobile social networking to a whole new level

“While working as a mobile app entrepreneur for the last 8-odd years, I have learnt one thing. The more confusing the download and installation procedures of an app are – the greater is the risk of users not bothering to try it out. Me and my team of developers made sure that using Talk Nah posed no such complications.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

We decided that users would not have to separately register on the app either. That’s another potential hassle avoided!

 

There’s A Lot Of Room For Further Growth

Chat screen of Talk Nah! app

A draft screen of the app (later changed)

 

The overwhelmingly positive response to Talk Nah! has delighted Rajiv (of course), but the man has no plans to rest on his laurels in future. Researches have been already initiated by him and his team at Sky IT Ltd., to make a list of probable new features that might be present in Version 2.0 of the app. It will be a challenge – and a challenge that everyone at our mobile app company would relish – to make Talk Nah 2.0 just as Rajiv chalks it out to be.

 

Talk Nah! is available for free download at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/talknah!/id898534516. In our portfolio we have quite a few IM and social networking apps – but Talk Nah! is easily the one we had the most fun while creating!

InSlideOut App By Teknowledge

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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InSlideOut is one of the most detailed event-based app in the app portfolio of Teknowledge. Aaron Rosenzweig, who conceptualized the app, has got to be lauded for his vision – to help people across the world keep track of their favorite social events and sporting affairs, and attend them with ease. The iOS version of InSlide Out has been a huge hit (optimized for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch), and plans are already in place for the creation of an Android version of the app pretty soon.

 

The Spirit Of InSlideOut

Inslide Out is a top-notch event-based app

“My team has created several event-based apps. However, it was a long-standing wish of mine to create an iPhone application that would double up as an event roster as well as a ticketing tool. This was the precise purpose behind InSlideOut.”

 Aaron Rosenzweig

– Aaron Rosenzweig (Founder, Managing Partner, InSlideOut app)

 

Unlike many wannabe mobile concept developers, Aaron did not sit on the app idea for long. He looked up good iPhone app development companies online, came across our portal, and requested for a free app quote. Interestingly, this was one of the few cases where we could send along the app quote within a couple of hours. Aaron agreed to our terms and we were suitably impressed by his app idea (a ‘win-win situation’, so to speak) – and the project started from the following week.

Inslide Out offers detailed event itineraries to users

“There are plenty of events happening every day. Getting hold of their itineraries and being able to decide which one to attend is not a particularly easy task. During my rather frequent foreign tours, I have found that out for myself. The prospect of an app that would do all the hard work and keep users up-to-date definitely excited me and the other developers at Teks. We were up for it.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

So, What Type Of Events Does InSlideOut Update Users About?

Aaron had visualized InSlideOut to be an app that enabled people to find out the details about practically every type of high-profile events – right from concerts and live performances, to sporting face-offs. The iOS app developers at our company worked accordingly, to ensure the availability of real-time event feeds to users. From family events to a wild dance festival at a pub, InSlideOut informs people about, well, everything.

Sports fixtures to music concerts - Inslide Out has information about them all

“The one thing I positively hate is half-baked apps. I have never compromised with the idea behind any of my earlier applications, and InSlideOut was not going to be an exception. It was chalked out as a holistic event guide for users – and thankfully, the guys at Teks understood this, and were capable enough to customize the app accordingly.”

 Aaron Rosenzweig

– Aaron Rosenzweig (Founder, Managing Partner, InSlideOut app)

 

An interesting aspect of this event-based iPhone app was its distinct focus on sporting events in particular. After a couple of brainstorming sessions with Aaron and his partner Henrik Olsson, it was finalized that the application would have the detailed itinerary for as many as 5 different sports (Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey and Soccer). People would be given the option to choose and follow as many teams as they wanted. Fan-following made easy!

Inslide Out focuses on sports-oriented events

“The sports-oriented feel of InSlideOut was the biggest reason why I downloaded it. I am a big fan of American football, and with this cool app, I haven’t missed a game of the Chicago Bears since last October. I could even toggle between college-level and pro-level matches. Two thumbs-up for InSlideOut!”

 

– Phillippe Jones (iPhone 6-user)

(downloaded InSlideOut on September 16, 2014)

 

Much More Than ‘Just Another Social-n-Sports events app’…

 

Developers at our mobile app company were keen to ensure that there was no ‘me-too’ feel about the InSlideOut application. When Aaron suggested the idea of having a screen via which people could follow the upcoming events of their favorite celebs – we were delighted. If anything, this featured turned out to be one of the USP’s of this iOS social app.

Inslide Out updates users about the performances of their favorite artists

I wanted InSlideOut to be more than an event-information generation app. While thinking how to makeInSlideOut different – it struck me…plenty of people wanted to know only about the events and performances of the celebs they love. It made sense to let them do that via InSlideOut.”

 Aaron Rosenzweig

– Aaron Rosenzweig (Founder, Managing Partner, InSlideOut app)

 

A Smart Virtual Decision-Maker

 

“It’s a dilemma for many to pick and choose the events to attend – particularly if two or more good bands are scheduled to perform at the same time. One of the best things about InSlideOut is that it generates automatic suggestions about the event a person would enjoy more. In a nutshell, the app is a top events guide.”

 Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

Inslide Out - App Wireframe 1

We agreed with Aaron that there was no point in putting users through the hassles of registering and/or spend time setting up their profiles on InSlideOut. Instead, the app was given the built-in functionality of creating user profiles automatically – as soon as people logged on. Our mobile app developers made sure that the app could pull in and ‘learn’ from the information provided by users, and serve as an accurate, timely, reliable social calendar.

Inslide Out - App Wireframe 2

“For the app to be really helpful, it had to start providing event-based information and schedule details as soon as possible, after it had been downloaded. If we had put in an elaborate registration screen, InSlideOut might not have worked. Who wants to fill up forms on mobile devices anyway?”

 Aaron Rosenzweig

– Aaron Rosenzweig (Founder, Managing Partner, InSlideOut app)

Inslide Out - App Wireframe 3

Purchasing Event Tickets Through InSlideOut

 

Unlike other apps in the same category, InSlideOut was neither visualized by Aaron, nor created by our app developers, as a database of only local events. The plan was to generate real-time event info from the city of individual users, as well as from other locations around the world. As per Aaron’s advice, a secure mobile ticketing gateway was included in the app (every listed event had a ‘Buy Ticket’ tab). This went a long way in removing uncertainties regarding whether a person would be able to attend an event.

 

“Only a socially active person would know the frustrations of having to stand in long queues for getting tickets to much-awaited events. Factors like distance and time-unavailability can also be major headaches. Me and Aaron wanted to make InSlideOut a reliable tool to purchase tickets from. People would no longer have to worry about ‘Sold Out’ boards at ticket counters!”

 

Henrik Olsson (Co-Founding Partner, InSlideOut app)

inslide out is a user-friendly  iOS app

 

Value As A Social Networking App

 

Initial feedback from users confirmed what Aaron and his team had always wished for – the InSlideOut iOS application could serve as a multipurpose social networking tool too. On the pretext of attending events in other cities, users could meet up with new people and visit new destinations…with absolute ease. Attending hot-n-happening events and making new acquaintances at foreign locations – with features like these, the success of InSlideOut was not entirely unprecedented.

 

“Aaron came across as a person who really had a feel about what made mobile apps user-friendly. He floated the idea that, in addition to ticket-purchase options, InSlideOut should also give low-cost travel ideas to users. Creating groups and sharing event-related information within groups was a breeze as well.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

– Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

Rejected screen of Inslide Out

Initial log in screen of the app (later rejected)

 

This app development project was completed in three weeks and a bit. We were particularly careful about the UI and graphic features – since a dull-looking social events app was never going to work. Our in-house UI/UX designers made sure that the app had engaging display features, the in-app navigation was fast and smooth, and the events database was updated on a real-time basis. With InSlideOut, it was all about giving customized information and ticket-buying options to users.

 

“I had envisioned InSlideOut as an app that required minimal personal information from users, and provided the maximum amount of relevant information. Credit to Hussain and his team – they made the app just the way I wanted.”

 Aaron Rosenzweig

– Aaron Rosenzweig (Founder, Managing Partner, InSlideOut app)

InSlideOut is available for free download at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/inslideout/id889941951. It has already won over people who love to attend big events from across the globe. Aaron and his team definitely deserve all the accolades!

 

AppBoard Tuesday – Why Do So Many Mobile App Startups Flop?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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Well, hello folks…and welcome to a brand new edition of AppBoard Tuesday (ABT) – the free weekly e-newsletter from Teknowledge. A few days back, while doing a bit of research, our team came across a very interesting stat – on average, nearly 3 out of 4 mobile app startups fail every year. A hint of nostalgia (back in the late 2000-s, we were also not much more than an ambitious startup) led us to deal with this topic in this edition of ABT. We will highlight a few things that new mobile app entrepreneurs should be wary of, to save their startup company from turning out to be duds:

  1. Do not let managerial responsibilities kill off your core skills – If you have decided to take the plunge in the mobile app business, chances are high that you are an expert developer yourself. Many new ‘bosses’ make the folly of committing all of their time for setting up their companies – leaving them with hardly any scope to do what they are actually good at (in this case, creating apps). Of course you need to be a leader of your team of developers – but addressing every employee grievance, conducting interviews, and related stuff are NOT YOUR PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY. Your company should not put your core expertise in the shade.
  2. Make your products stand out, but not too much – One of the first things that you learn at your management course is that a ‘me-too’ product never works. The domain of mobile app development is not an exception to this rule of thumb. However, if you create a totally unique, never-seen-before sort of an application (and we have seen many such weird apps being released, and failing, every quarter!), failure won’t be far away. The idea should be providing excellent quality apps to clients that serve a precise, well-specified purpose – and are easy to operate too. Confuse your customers, and they will simply ignore your apps.
  3. Avoid the pitfall called procrastination – What is the single biggest peril for any mobile app company? We feel that the answer is ‘stagnation’. Of course you need to research about the SDKs of the different mobile platforms, the APIs, animation tools and other technical stuff – but that should not delay the process of development from being set into motion. Your company should have a Minimum Viable Product (think of it like a very basic set of apps) at the stores as quickly as possible. There are new app companies that take 9-10 months to come up with their first set of applications – and not surprisingly, the latter do not find many takers.
  4. Gather (and retain) a strong team of developers – Developers who are not particularly skilled and/or are still learning the nitty-gritty of programming would accept lower pay packages (an idea that most new app company bosses jump at). What is not taken into account is that, such developers also pull down the quality of the apps that are ultimately created. From the very outset, your focus should be on hiring people who are talented, have ample relevant experience, and are willing to learn. Do not stay in the thought bubble that app development (coding) and UI/UX designing can be done by the same person(s) – you need separate teams for separate, specialized tasks. If you are planning to get into cross-platform mobile development, form separate teams for Android and iPhone app development. In a nutshell, do not compromise on the quality of developers/designers in your company. Human asset matters most.
  5. Don’t lose your sleep over that thing called ‘first-mover advantage’ - In the field of mobile technology, being the first-mover does not always work out. There have been many, many cases of gadgets that have been ground-breaking, but have not been well-received by targeted end-users (what about the recent Google Glass fiasco?). You need to be careful while making mobile apps too. Do not try creating apps for something which no one has ventured in till date. Instead, analyze how the first-mover’s products are reviewed, and then, try to improve on them. You will get a reference point to start off too.
  6. If you exist, the world should know about you – Sadly, this is the issue that most new-fangled mobile app entrepreneurs gloss over (and consequently, their companies fail). Your technological and app development expertise might be of the highest order, but other people need to be made aware of that first. How do you do that? Simple enough…try to get into strategic partnerships with other tech firms (do not sell off your company though!), and target the World Wide Web to spread the word about your company (create a nicely optimized, informative website, have an active presence on popular social media channels, etc.). Request your initial customers/clients to give feedback about your services – which you will be able to show off on your website. Of all types of promotions, nothing has more long-run benefits than positive word-of-mouth publicity.
  7. Sketch out a detailed business model first – A client gets in touch with you, an iPhone/Android app is created and delivered, and you collect the app development fees. Straightforward, right? Unfortunately, helming an actual mobile app company is far from being this easy. You need to lay down, and follow, a detailed, properly deliberated upon, business model from the very outset. Divide your operations in separate stages – right from providing online free app quotes and deciding the advance payments (do not go beyond 30% of the overall charges), to creating and sharing wireframes/mockups, mobile app testing procedures, and the submission at stores. The more systematic you are, the brighter are the chances of your company’s success.
  8. Be a leader, not a boss – During an interview conducted just before the start of the Cricket World Cup 2015, Aussie Test captain Steven Smith said ‘managers are many, but leaders are few’. The same thing can be said about the owners of mobile app startups. Remember, your team of app developers and designers need you by their side, for guidance, direction and on-the-job training. Never be stand-offish, be easily approachable (of course, for project-related discussions), and offer incentives and perks to your best employees. Try being an inspirational leader who leads by example, and not a proverbial ‘Hari Sadu’!
  9. Never be afraid to experiment – Every mobile app developer wants to transform ideas into apps – and if they are any good, they will always try to think up new, innovative ideas. Now, not all such ideas would work (and that’s only natural) – so it makes sense to carry out small-scale experiments with the more ‘unique’ ideas (read: create prototypes), test them, gather feedback, and then decide whether it would be worth it to allot resources for developing that app. The alternative to this is, of course, going with run-of-the-mill app ideas – but that is a sureshot recipe for disaster for startups.
  10. Move with the times – The app development techniques and strategies (heck, even the apps themselves) should be in sync with the prevalent mobile technology at any time. For instance, after the release of WatchKit, every app company is chalking up plans to make apps for Apple Watch (generalizing a bit more, wearables are the new in-thing, and apps customized for them are likely to be in demand). At the time of iOS 8 and Android Lollipop and Swift programming language, if you stay stuck with elementary Java apps (we started with them, but that was 2006!) – why should any client avail your services?

For startups, money, time and resources (technical and manpower) are likely to be in limited supply. That, however, does not mean that you should be stingy about investing properly on your services. Half-baked, problematic apps (created as a result of your desperate attempts to cut costs) would invariably create a negative buzz about your company – and you will struggle to come out of that. Smart mobile app entrepreneurs always compare the investment figures with the lifetime return value for each project. If the situation so demands, you will have to spend – for making the future of your company secure.

 

Let’s round up this week’s ABT with wishing all the luck to budding mobile app developers and startup owners all over. Making your business work in this fiercely competitive domain is not the easiest challenge, but if you stick at it and are a smart decision-maker, you can definitely succeed.

 

AppBoard Tuesday will return next week, with yet another intriguing topic related to mobile applications. Till the next time, love thy apps!

 

Kids Tiles App By Teknowledge

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
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In our nearly 9-year journey as a mobile app development company, we have noticed one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb: the distinct paucity of quality apps for kids. Most of the ones already present at the app stores do not have any educational value whatsoever, while the reading apps for kids are generally boring. Our award-winning Story Time For Kids application has done its bit to bridge this gap, and we were delighted when Ms. Maria Thyselius Bergstrom got in touch with us in mid-2014 to create another lovely children’s app. This one was named Kids Tiles.

 

Kids Tiles Project Comes To Teknowledge

Kids Tiles welcome screen

Ms. Bergstrom had been toying with the idea of creating a good iPhone/iPad app for kids for fairly long. The only thing that was holding her back was not being able to find and hire a company that was into developing mobile applications in Sweden – which could handle her project. Thankfully, the portfolio and free app quote from Teknowledge impressed her, and work on Kids Tiles started soon enough.

 

“It wasn’t the easiest task to find a proper app development company, I can vouch for that! And I wasn’t prepared to tweak around my vision for Kids tiles in any way either. It was a nice stroke of luck that I chanced upon the Teknowledge website while casually browsing the web. These guys seemed competent…and their portfolio was great.”

Maria Bergstrom

Maria Thyselius Bergstrom (Concept Developer, Kids Tiles)

 

Determination To Make Kids Tiles A Winner

 

“Me and my team of mobile app developers were desperate to prove that the heady success of Story Time For Kids was not a fluke – and we were indeed masters at developing diverse varieties of kids’ apps. The project from Maria gave us the perfect opportunity to showcase that.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

Initial draft design of the app (later rejected)

For someone with the concept of an app, the clarity of thinking of Ms. Bergstrom was the most striking. She provided us with a fairly detailed lowdown about what the main features of the app would be – thereby giving our iPhone app developers and UI/UX designers a solid reference point to start with. For starters, the app was to be made for the iOS (iPhone and iPad) platform only. Although not certain yet, we might create an Android version of Kids Tiles later on.

 

Overview Of The App

 

Several sessions of brainstorming (with quite a lot of caffeine being consumed!) were held at our office – to find out how we could make Kids Tiles one of the best mobile educational apps for kids. The inputs from Ms. Bergstrom helped a great deal as well.

Kids Tiles has been acknowledged as a good mobile educational app for kids

“Doing the groundwork for any new app has always excited me. Even so, I have got to say – Kids Tiles was among the most interesting projects I had ever worked on. Every new feature, every additional screen color or design – everything was deliberated upon, and it was a full 10 days before the blueprint for the app was complete.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

We created Kids Tiles in the form of an engaging mobile game for toddlers, with subtle educational lessons. Six different categories – numbers, gadgets, animals, body parts, colors and transport – were displayed on the app screen (with sub-categories). Whenever a child tapped on any of the categories and followed the next set of instructions that came up, the game would start and (s)he will become familiar with the category of things chosen.


The gameplay of the app is really interesting

“The last thing I wanted to make was just another run-of-the-mill mobile game. I have always maintained that fun and learning should go hand-in-hand in any good children’s app. Thankfully, Hussain and his team got the feel of my idea, and made Kids Tiles just the way I wanted it to be.”

Maria Bergstrom

Maria Thyselius Bergstrom (Concept Developer, Kids Tiles)

 

Customizing The Kids Tiles App

During our long haul as a custom app development agency, we were fully aware of one thing. If Kids Tiles did not manage to grab children’s attentions at the first go, it would be doomed for ‘failure’ – the one word that is alien to Teknowledge. Our mobile app developers set up child-friendly controls for this iOS app for kids, HD images and illustrations were used, and attractive color schemes/combinations were implemented. The gameplay (identifying the ‘right’ things within a specified period of time) had a nice, competitive streak about it. The sound effects could also be adjusted easily.

Kids Tiles is customized and child-friendly

“What is the point of making a mobile app for kids, if kids cannot use it on their own? This was a thought that considerably influenced the inclusion and arrangement of features in the Kids Tiles application. My developers were determined to make the app easily operable by children themselves. Self-dependence and all that for the little ones!”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

The initial round of feedback from parents and teachers worldwide confirmed that Kids Tiles had indeed found favor among kids – and it was helping the latter to learn up about animals, numbers, gadgets and such stuff quickly. We had managed to give shape to Ms. Bergstrom’s vision, and prove our professional expertise once again too!

 

Giving More Options To Children

 

“It was vital to not lose sight of the fun element that any app for kids must possess. I wanted to give as many gameplay options to kids as possible in Kids Tiles. I feel this has been one of the telling factors behind its success.”

Maria Bergstrom

Maria Thyselius Bergstrom (Concept Developer, Kids Tiles)

Kids Tiles offers a blend of l;earning benefits and gaming fun

Once the types of educational benefits of the app were chalked out and the general visual features finalized, it was a whole lot of fun planning the activities on the app. In Kids Tiles, we included three different tile-movement options – ‘Rise’, ‘Sink’ and ‘Play & Rise.’ In essence, the app was all about letting children enjoy the fun of mobile gaming and learn up basic things – in whatever way they preferred.

“Me and Maria were both eager to enhance the reach of the Kids Tiles app as much as possible. In fact, that’s precisely why the app is available in seven different languages. Language-selection on Kids Tiles is simple enough.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

And Then Came The Appreciations…

It did not take long for Kids Tiles to catch on with the young audience (much to the delight of Ms. Bergstrom and our in-house app developers). The introductory version debuted on iTunes on 15 August 2014, and positive reviews started coming in from the next day itself. In addition to uniformly positive user-feedback, Kids Tiles was praised at online mobile app review sites like thesmartphoneappreview.com. It has also been made available for free download at CNET (http://download.cnet.com/Kids-Tiles/3000-2102_4-76237612.html).

Kids Tiles have received uniformly positive reviews

“When I conceptualized Kids Tiles, I was not at all concerned about the download figures or such metrics. All that I wanted was to make a fun learning app for kids. With the aid of Hussain and his team, Kids Tiles turned out to be a much bigger success story than…well…what I had originally envisaged.”

Maria Bergstrom

Maria Thyselius Bergstrom (Concept Developer, Kids Tiles)

 

Version 1.0.1 of Kids Tiles was released a couple of weeks after the app’s launch at iTunes, with small-time bug fix updates. The app is currently available for free download at https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/kids-tiles/id898758246.

 

After Story Time For Kids and Story Monster – Kids Tiles was yet another successful foray into the domain of mobile apps for kids by Teknowledge. We feel we did a good job (and Maria would probably agree) – even if we are saying so ourselves!

Is Spine The Best Tool For 2D Animations In Mobile Apps?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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The popularity of Spine is increasing rapidly among professional animators and mobile game developers. In what follows, we have highlighted some of the key factors that make this 2D skeletal animation tool really user-friendly.

 

For creating high-end, realistic 2D animations for mobile games, sprite sheets are most commonly used by developers. Sprite sheets offer manifold advantages, but are far from being an absolutely problem-free tool. For starters, the memory requirement (texture memory) of sprites can be on the higher side – particularly when there are many images saved in a single .png (i.e., the elements of an animation stored in .png format). Content-scaling for retina screens can be tricky as well. Many mobile app developers feel that the general maintenance requirement of sprite sheets can be difficult too, and there is hardly any room for mistakes. In fact, these reasons have been instrumental for a large number of game developers moving over to the Spine 2D skeletal animation tool (by Esoteric Software). Here are some of the best features of Spine:

 

  1. Extensive support for game toolkits – The excellent runtime support of Spine is certainly a high point of this tool. Mobile game development experts get out-of-the-box support, while working in the libgdx, cocos2d-iphone and cocos2d-x frameworks. Those who create apps and games with the Unity 2D toolkit or the XNA/Corona runtimes can get the full benefits of Spine as well. GameMaker, Actionscript 3 and Haxe are some of the external third-party runtime environments that are also compatible with Spine.
  2. Less memory requirements – Spine does away with the hassles of having to create separate images for every frame of animation. Instead, an interpolation method is implemented – which makes the animation transitions smooth (as per the frame rates). Many iPhone app developers regularly create slo-mo animations with Spine as well. Since there are no bulky files involved, Spine scores over Sprite sheets in the memory usage aspect.
  3. Compatibility with all popular programming languages – This feature has been specially lauded by the worldwide game development community. In addition to supporting nearly 20 runtimes, the Spine tool is compatible with as many as 7 different coding languages generally used by developers. C#, C++, Objective C or JavaScript – whatever might be the language you are coding in, you always have the option of using Spine. The question on every iOS developer’s mind at present is, whether Spine runtimes would support the Swift language as well.
  4. Easy to maintain – It’s not that mobile game-makers can make mistakes galore on Spine and still hope for a brilliant animation – but the tool is definitely easier to learn, handle and maintain than traditional sprite sheets. Only the bone data of 2D animations (hence the name ‘skeletal animations’) are stored in the Spine tool. This, in turn, opens up the opportunity of including as many unique animations and slides in mobile games as required. Thanks to the small size of Spine files, maintenance is hardly a headache.
  5. Dual modes of Spine – The learning curve of Spine is not at all steep – and the presence of dual modes is one of the reasons for that. When the tool is activated by mobile app developers, it is, by default, in the Setup Mode (as indicated in the upper corner on the left side of the editor screen). Images and animation bones are created and attached in this mode. Once that is done, users can toggle to the Animate Mode – where the actual animations and transitions are created, with the help of keyframe-setting and posing the skeletal images. The systematic way in which Spine works makes it ideal for relative newbies too.
  6. Available for 3 OS and in 5 different versions – Yet another indication that Esoteric intends to expand the reach of the Spine animation tool as much as possible. It can be installed on Windows, Linux and Mac systems (at iPhone app companies, Mac systems are, of course, most commonly used). Depending on their requirements, users can also take their pick from five alternative versions of Spine. The Trial version is free, while Essential, Professional, Enterprise and Education versions are all competitively priced (the Enterprise version of Spine, with a base price of $2200, is the most expensive).
  7. Wide range of customized features – The feature-rich nature of Spine has also found favor among game developers and app experts. The tool has a built-in Graph Editor as well as a Dopesheet. The latter comes in handy for adjusting the animation timings seamlessly. For physical integration and hit detection, the Bounding Boxes feature is a wonderful addition. Thanks to the presence of Skins, attachments for one character can be easily reused as well. Other noteworthy features of Spine include Texture Packer and Free Form Deformation.
  8. Ideal for blended animations – Developers who have struggle to crossfade multiple animations with Spriter have, understandably, moved over to the Spine tool. The latter allows two or more animated movements (say, shooting and running) to be blended in simultaneously. Since the crossfading is very smooth, there is no risk of the character movements appearing to be jerky. Representatives from leading mobile app companies have confirmed that the animation mixing in Spine is indeed of good quality.
  9. Built-in help for Gimp and Photoshop users – The Photoshop script of Spine helps UI/UX designers to take full advantage of the Adobe Generator tool. Since all the image files (.PNG) are kept in sync with the PSD file – further exporting of files is not required. The 2D skeletal animation tool comes with the latest Gimp script as well. JSON files are created after the export of the PNG images. All that the developers need to do next is import these JSON files.
  10. Better pixel fill rates – Instead of conventional rectangles used for game animations, Spine makes use of polygons. This, in turn, ensures high fill rates – since drawing is not possible outside the polygon, and pixel-wastage is minimal. This is particularly important for animations in iPhone/iPad games. The polygons in the Spine interface are created with a feature called ‘Meshes’.
  11. Option to add procedural animations – Creating mobile games and apps using Spine gives developers greater leeway to play around with their animations. Through procedural animation, a wide range of interesting effects can be added to the characters – right from glancing in specific direction, to running along slanted surfaces, and a whole lot more. Since very few art assets are required while working with Spine, the entire procedure gets speeded up.
  12. Exporting files in any format – In addition to binary files and JSON files, Spine ensures that files saved in other formats (including media files) can be exported without any hassles. Videos can either be in QuickTime or AVI format, for being directly exportable. JPG, PNG and GIF pictures/image sequences are also exported by the Spine animation tool.
  13. Installing X11 is easy for Mac users – In order to work properly on Mac computers, Spine requires the presence of X Quartz. Many new game developers have been confused by the Java Error that pops up, while trying to download Spine on their systems. In reality though, this is only a prompt to install X11. Users need to click on the ‘Continue’ button, and download X11 from http://xquartz.macosforge.org (look for it on the Apple support page). After this, installation of Spine will be hitch-free.
  14. Useful shortcuts with Keyframes – The icon beside Rotate, Translate, and Scale tools in Spine has to be used to set keyframes (originally set to frame zero) and proceeding with the animations. There are a couple of cool keyboard shortcuts available here as well. If the ‘L’ button is pressed, all values of the active tool(s) will be automatically keyed. On the other hand, if you press ‘K’ – the edited values will have their keyframes set. Provided that you are proficient with using Spine, using these shortcuts can help you save quite a bit of time.

With the Spine runtime libraries, all animations can be loaded and rendered realtime by the game toolkit. Assembling characters is fairly simple too (game developers do make the mistake of adding different versions of the same label on the stage though). The Spine vs Sprite Sheets debate is, in essence, a comparison between skeletal animation and frame-based animation – and the former does offer a fair few additional advantages.

 

Have you worked with the Spine animation tool?

I Can Be Anything (Suite Of 12 Apps) by Teknowledge

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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“Don’t take so much of stress…it is affecting your health!”

How many times have we heard this from doctors? All of us are aware that remaining stress-free goes a long way in ensuring mental peace – but even so, our daily workplace tensions, family troubles, distractions, and other minor quabbles tend to bog us down. Wouldn’t it have been just great if there was a nice mobile app to get rid of such unwanted stresses? Well, Jacob Strachotta and his I Can Be Anything team thought so…and this application took practical shape.

First screen of ICBF

I have been studying human behavior for over 20 years now. If you asked me to identify the single largest cause for most mental disquiets, I would mention the daily stresses and past bad experiences. My app is all about bringing down the regular tension levels of users, by, well, as much as possible.”

Jacob Strachotta

– Jacob Strachotta (Co-founder, I Can Be Anything)

 

Collaboration Of Team I Can Be Anything and Teknowledge Software

I Can Be Anything is a suite of 12 stress-reliever apps (iOS and Android)

Herein lies an interesting tale. Jacob and his partner Ditte wanted to make sure that the app was not just another ‘gimmicky mood-reliever’. They had years of in-depth insight into the inner psyche of human beings, and wanted to make the most of it – to create an app that would actually help people feel uplifted. They took out time to search the web for a suitable mobile app development company, and finally zeroed in on our company, Teknowledge.

 

While working with Cimber/Sterling Airlines and Danish Government Administration (prior to to starting on ICBA in 2009), I had become more or less an expert on tackling various forms of HR issues. Jacob here is, of course, a globally lauded authority on human behavior and related stuff. Together, we were determined to make a stress-reliever app that actually worked. Teknowledge Software seemed proficient enough to create the application – and boy, were they interested to come on board!”

Ditte Strachotta, cofounder of I Can Be Anything

Ditte Strachotta (Co-founder, I Can Be Anything)

 

The Strachotta-s got in touch with our mobile app company in the third quarter of 2014, and we provided them with a detailed free app quote within 19 working hours. The project started after 4 more days.

 

Choice Of Mobile Platforms

Sound effects are used in this mood-raising app

The focus of Jacob and Ditte was to make their ground-breaking mood-elevation and relaxation app available to as many people as possible. That’s precisely why they opted for a cross-platform app development solution. The iOS and the Android platforms were, of course the first choices (they had briefly toyed with the idea of developing a Blackberry version as well, only to abandon it later).

 

Both Jacob and Ditte were, initially, interested in making I Can Be Anything an iOS app only. Soon though, they took the smart decision of developing an Android version of their cool new app as well. I suppose it’s a good thing that my company had separate teams for Android and iPhone app development!”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

We were extremely wary of companies that had the same group of developers working on multi-platform projects. The fact that Teknowledge had separate and well-experienced Android and iOS app developers indeed tilted the balance significantly in their favor.

Ditte Strachotta, cofounder of I Can Be Anything

Ditte Strachotta (Co-founder, I Can Be Anything)

ICBF helps in driving away all sorts of mental negativity with ease

A non-competing agreement was also signed on behalf of Teks, before the work proceeded.

 

12 Apps In A Single App Suite

 

Although the theoretical concept of I Can Be Anything was remarkably sound, its implementation was not as easy as initially deemed by Jacob and Ditte. They realized soon enough that the app had to have multiple applications (let’s call them sub-apps) within it. Each app within the main application would be focused on tackling with one particular aspect of daily stresses. After several consultations with representatives from our app-making firm, it was decided that there would be a total of 12 apps inside I Can Be Anything.

Suite of apps inside I Can Be Anything

Me and my team had previously worked on apps with built-in internal software, but I Can Be Anything was different from them all. In it, there were 12 apps – each devoted to relieve a particular form of tension or pressure. Dumping all the solutions on a single interface would not have worked out well, and although making apps within an app was a challenge, it was fun working on it.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

In its final form, I Can Be Anything has the following apps:

 

 

  • I Can Be Healthy.
  • I Can Be Free.
  • I Can Be Clean.
  • I Can Be A Sound Sleeper.
  • I Can Be Confident.
  • I Can Be Lucky In Love.
  • I Can Be In Control Of My Pregnancy.
  • I Can Be Great In Bed.
  • I Can Be A Happy Teenager.
  • I Can Be Motivated.
  • I Can Be A Model Student.
  • I Can Be Fearless.

 

A lot of research went into our selection of the apps that would be present in the I Can Be Anything mobile project. There were some informed guesses and a fair amount of surveys done too – to zero in upon 12 most common uncertainties in the minds of people. Each of them had to be addressed separately.”

Jacob Strachotta

– Jacob Strachotta (Co-founder, I Can Be Anything)

 

 

How Does The App Work?

It is easy to adjust the audio settings of ICBF

The I Can Be Anything catalog of apps was conceptualized by Jacob and Ditte, and created by us, as a voice-based application. Audio lessons and soothing, calming sounds were included in each of the apps – which had the effect of driving away negative thoughts from the human mind. Apart from the nice relaxation music, users can also listen to the lessons in a male voice, with complete silence in the background. In all, there are as many as 172 sessions in the learning catalog of I Can Be Anything.

 

“The thing that distressed me the most during my research was the sheer volume of people around the world so dependant on anti-depressant pills. Me, Ditte and the other members of the I Can Be Anything team decided to try out the effects of sound for the same purpose – but minus the adverse side-effects of strong medications. And that was where Magnus Bergentz came on board.”

Jacob Strachotta

Jacob Strachotta (Co-founder, I Can Be Anything)

 

Magnus was given the responsibility of recording the lesson narrations (done by Jacob himself), and modify the sounds appropriately. Being an audio engineer of rich experience and considerable reputation, Magnus finds this job fun, challenging, and in a way, very, very, fulfilling.

 

When my team of app developers took up the project, I was mostly worried about one thing – the quality of the relaxation sounds that were to be included in the app. The sheer excellence of Magnus Bergentz amazed me. He made the actual task of creating this app that much easier – and once again underlined the importance of expert professionals behind any successful software.

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

 

In-App Purchases

I Can Be Free has lots of cool in-app purchase options

At first, including in-app purchase options did not seem really necessary for the I Can Be Anything app project. However, general user feedback and specified requirements indicated that Jacob and Ditte’s application could become all the more effective with some custom sound files – available for purchase directly from the app. Accordingly, common stuff like ‘What People Are Thinking”, “Quit Smoking”, “Afraid Of Ghosts”, “Insomnia Cure” and a few more files were included as in-app purchase options. The prices were tagged at very competitive levels.

 

After listening to the relaxation sounds to tackle any specific form of worrying, a person might wish to get more up, close and personal with that issue. Via in-app purchases, we have made this a possibility. There is a host of things that people can buy from the app, depending on their interests.”

Jacob Strachotta

– Jacob Strachotta (Co-founder, I Can Be Anything)

 

Adulations For I Can Be Anything

 

At Teknowledge, we expect each of our apps to be successful. Even so, the extent of popularity that I Can Be Anything has managed to generate among users in the United States, Europe and Australia has been pleasantly surprising. Me and my developers are proud to be a part of the ICBF team.”

Hussain Fakhruddin, CEO, Teknowledge Software

Hussain Fakhruddin (CEO, Teknowledge Software)

I Can Be Anything has been well-received by people all over

Thanks to the personalized nature of the app, its intuitive designs and layouts, HQ sound effects, and other top-notch features – the I Can Be Anything catalog of apps has been a winner all the way. Its combined rating of 4.5 (out of 5) speaks volumes about how well it has been received by people all over.

 

I Can Be Free was selected by healthline.com as one of the best anxiety apps consecutively for 2013 and 2014. We knew that we were on to something good, but had we anticipated this phenomenal success? Not entirely, to be honest.

Ditte Strachotta, cofounder of I Can Be Anything

– Ditte Strachotta (Co-founder, I Can Be Anything)

 

I Can Be Anything has also got the nod of the medical community, with the ‘I Can Be Fearless’ app having been recommended on HealthTap by doctors in the US. Online app review portals like Apppicker and Appcrawlr have given glowing feedback of this suite of mental stress-relieving apps too.

 

The I Can Be Anything catalog of apps by Human Progress is available for free download at https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/i-can-be-free-relax-remove/id327538172 (iPhone, iPad) and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.hypnosis.android&hl=en (Android). It is an interesting, and immensely liked, take on stress-alleviation in a soothing, healthy manner. The Teks team is more than happy to have been able to assist Jacob and Ditte in their vision to create a tension-free world of positive thoughts.