Monthly Archives: December 2015

Play Store vs App Store: Showdown Of The Mobile App Marketplaces

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 app-count at Blackberry App World currently stands at a paltry 130000. With around 350000 and 400000 applications respectively, the Windows Phone Store and the Amazon App Store fare better. However, when it comes to mobile app marketplaces – there are two clear cut, runaway leaders – the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Both were launched in 2008 (the Play Store was known as the ‘Android Market’ back then), and have, since that time, grown at a very rapid clip. In today’s discussion, we will do a Play Store vs App Store comparative analysis, and try to determine which app marketplace shades it:

 

  1. Availability of apps – Till recently, Apple always had a healthy lead over Google in terms of total number of apps in their respective stores. By 2010, the App Store had a stock of nearly 320000 apps, while Play Store lagged behind with only around 80000 apps at the time. However, by the end of 2014, Android app developers had caught up with their iOS counterparts – and currently, it is Google Play, with a tick over 1.6 million apps, that has the lead. Apple App Store offers users a library of 1.5 million applications.
  2. Total downloads – This one is an absolute knockout in favour of Google. Recent surveys by mobile app development experts have shown that the total worldwide downloads from the Google Play Store is an amazing 88%-90% higher than that from Apple App Store. It has been forecasted that the two app marketplaces will collectively account for 9 out of every 10 app downloads globally by 2017. Play Store is likely to have the lion’s share in that.
  3. Quality of apps – Apple has a stringent set of design guidelines and strong app review process in place. That, in turn, ensures that the majority of the apps in the iOS store are of high quality. Over the years, the Android App Store has been a lot lax in this regard – and the presence of a fairly large number of app clones (how many clones of 2048 are there anyway?!) and malicious, spammy applications. There are hardly any chances of cases like the Android Virus Shield disaster cropping up at the App Store. Things have started changing though, with Google announcing a manual review system of Android apps from March 2015. Still, it has a lot of catching up to do to match the app quality standards at the Apple Store.
  4. Revenue for developers – This time, App Store blows the Play Store out of sight. While the total downloads are way lower in the former, iOS apps generate (on average) around 80% more revenue than Android apps. The 70:30 revenue split rule also works in favour of iOS app developers. The surge in downloads of iPhone applications in China (which has overtaken USA as the largest downloader from Apple Store) has widened the gap this year. In 2015 Q3, there was a 24% spike in the revenue from App Store. The figures from Play Store were flat during the period.
  5. Free vs paid apps – There is a general perception that owners of iOS devices are more likely to actually spend money on mobile applications, than Android-users. The availability (and indeed, popularity) of so many budget Android smartphones add to this belief. Not surprisingly, the Play Store has a higher percentage of free apps (in 2015, this rose to 68% – an increase of nearly 5% over 2014) than the App Store. The ‘freemium’ model is almost equally popular in both the stores – although Android developers tend to go for in-app ads (which can be obtrusive at times) in a big way.
  6. Responding to user-reviews – Reviews and ratings provided by genuine users – particularly within the first few days after an app is launched – are critical for determining its ranking and visibility level. Google Play Store offers Android developers greater flexibility in this context. They can respond to individual reviews, queries and complaints – and even inform them about bug fixes and request for revised ratings. On the Apple App Store though, if a new app garners negative initial reviews – the concerned developer has no way of individually responding to them.
  7. Registration charges – Whether making Android apps is easier than creating applications for the iOS platform will remain open to debate – but it is definitely cheaper. To become a registered developer, Android developers have to pay a one-time fee of 16 Pounds ($25) – about four times less than the annual pocket pinch for becoming a registered Apple app developer (65 Pounds/$96.5). It’s not for nothing that many experts advise newbies to start off with coding for Android apps, and moving on to the iOS platform later.
  8. Compatibility with older versions of the platforms – Nothing to really choose between the two here. The backend support in the Play Store extends to Android 2.2 Froyo – while the App Store can have applications that are compatible with iPhone 3G (i.e., the 2nd generation iPhone, which arrived in 2008). Clearly, both Apple and Google want to make the apps hosted on their respective marketplaces have as large a user-base as possible.
  9. User-engagement – A 2015 survey by 451 Research has shown that user-engagement levels are slightly higher at the iOS app store, in comparison to the Play Store. According to the survey, 6.2 apps are downloaded (on average) by users every month from the Apple Store. The corresponding figure for the Android Play Store is just a shade over 4. When only free apps are considered too, the gap is significant – with 4.3 free iOS apps being downloaded per person every month, as opposed to 3.5 free Android app downloads per month.
  10. Listing at the stores – Once again, Android app developers are at an advantage here. While it is possible to add preview videos in addition to text descriptions on app pages at both the stores – Apple limits the maximum length of these videos to 30 seconds. On the other hand, the app preview videos at the Play Store can be of any length (although making a lengthy video is not advisable). In addition, more app screenshots can be added on the app listing page in Play Store than at the App Store (8 vs 5). In general, there is more room for devising app store optimization strategies on the Android marketplace.
  11. Downloading directly from the web interface – For downloading iOS applications, having an iTunes Connect account is mandatory for users. The ‘View on iTunes’ option (below the app icon) has to be selected, following which the download can be started. Installing new apps from the Google Play Store has an extra level of convenience – since users can click ‘Install’ on the Play Store website, and download the applications they want, without having to take out their handsets. This is, in fact, one of the factors behind the higher total app downloads from the Android marketplace.
  12. App pricing – Not surprisingly, iOS apps are ‘more expensive’ than Android software. While the average price of Android applications is $0.06, that of an iPhone app is $0.20 (at $0.50, the price of iPad apps is significantly higher). The maximum price cap for apps at the iOS store is $999 – five times higher than the $200 price cap at the Play Store (this is in keeping with the trend of iOS apps being more pricey). Interestingly though, Android apps have a lot more price points (29) within a limited range than iOS applications (7).
  13. Ratings reset after every update – Happens at the App Store only. On the Google Play Store, Android app developers can release updates to their existing apps – without having to worry about their app ratings getting reset. Unfortunately, this is exactly what occurs at the iOS app marketplace. App ratings are powerful indicators regarding their quality (and can trigger download behaviour) – and the fact that they get reset at the App Store after every update is a drawback. Those involved in Android app development can add/edit metadata more easily.
  14. Innovative features – While Android offers more than ample scope for developers to promote their applications, iOS has more unique, innovative properties. App Bundles and Family Sharing are two classic examples of such user-friendly features. On Play Store, people can check out the ‘Users also installed’ entries, before downloading any particular app. The detailed download stats for any particular app can also be viewed. In terms of additional features, iOS is ahead – but Android has lots of good points in its favour too.
  15. Number of categories – Opinions are polarized over this. Many users feel that since all Android apps and games are clubbed under one category, browsing is a lot more seamless and quicker. However, mobile app developers feel that this also increases the chances of confusion and hampers potential visibility/discoverability of applications. On the Apple platform, games can be put under any of the three categories, while apps are placed under two different classes. This makes it easier from the visibility perspective.

 

In terms of app security, the App Store is ahead of the Play Store (even though this comes at the cost of longer app review times). In general, the Android marketplace is a lot more ‘open’ than that of Apple – allowing both developers and users to do more with app listings and downloads. It is tough to identify a clear winner in the Play Store vs App Store fight. Let’s just say the developers can earn more from the iOS platform, while it is slightly easier to find and download free apps from the Play Store.

 

App Store or Play Store – which one is better according to you?

 

Making An iPhone App – Know The Basics

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 year is drawing to a close, and it has been another big one for app developers working on the iOS platform. In 2014, developers earned more than $10 billion from the applications they made, with New Year’s Day witnessing record-breaking downloads from the App Store. This year’s figures are expected to be a couple of notches higher – and the festive period promises to be more profitable for app-makers than ever before. It’s a good time to get into the domain of iPhone app development, and the following tips should provide you a proper starting point:

 

  1. Get Xcode. Learn Swift – Xcode 7.2 is out in the wild, and you can download it from the ‘Dock’ of the ‘App Store’ in your Mac system (using a version earlier than Xcode 7 won’t be a good idea, for potential compatibility issues). Once Xcode is displayed right on top of the search results, click on Get → Install App. The IDE will be downloaded in the ‘Applications’ folder. You should also have a thorough knowledge of working with Swift 2.0. That will be the language you will be mostly making apps with.
  2. Decide on the type of application – Writing lines of code just for the heck of it does not make much sense (unless you are working on practice/dummy projects). Before getting down to the actual development, take a call on the precise nature of your app, its USP, its target audience, and the way in which you plan to market it. Avoid starting off with an iPhone application that is too niche – or, on the other end of the spectrum – a clone of an existing, popular app. Prepare a flowchart and follow it carefully.
  3. Start with a new project – Okay, done with the planning? Now, let’s kickstart the coding process. iOS app developers have to click on ‘Create A New Xcode Project’ from the welcome screen of the downloaded Xcode 7/7.2 IDE. Select a template from the dialog box that pops up. Choose ‘Application’ and ‘Single View Application’ from the ‘iOS’ side and the main area of the dialog box respectively. When done, click on ‘Next’.
  4. Use the available resources – For iPhone app development, the online support community is pretty much extensive. Sources like Raywenderlich and Github (this one is particularly good for teaming up with other developers on a project) offer valuable help, particularly for beginners. If you are planning to make a game, you will need to learn your way around Sprite Builder (to create game characters) as well as refer to the Game Center for Developers that Apple provides. To get yourself out of coding problems and other related issues, having an account in Game Development Stack Exchange is also advisable. You can post your questions there, get prompt solutions, and help others along as well.
  5. Fill in the project details – Once you have created a new Xcode project, you will be prompted to fill in certain details and options for your project. The name of your app has to go in the ‘Product Name’ box, while in the space for ‘Organization Name’ – simply put in your own name OR the name of your mobile app company OR simply keep it blank. Choose ‘Universal’ for the ‘Devices’ field, and ‘Swift’ beside ‘Language’ (select Objective-C in case you are using it). Check the ‘Include Unit Tests’ option and leave the other two (‘Include UI Tests’ and ‘Use Core Data’) unchecked. The ‘Bundle Identifier’ field will be pre-filled.
  6. Storyboarding – For most iPhone app developers, storyboards are still the preferred way to create the interfaces of new applications. One app screen and one View Controller (we will explain them in the next point) are present in every ‘Scene’ of the storyboard. The overall modal properties and in-app navigations are determined by the way storyboards are set up. For creating prototypes of your application too, storyboards come in handy (with ‘UITableViewCell’). What’s more – if you are making an app for both iPhone and iPad (remember how we selected ‘General’ in the Xcode dialog box earlier?), storyboards does away with file-naming problems and offers different views.
  7. A bit about View Controllers – When you are coding for an iOS app, ‘View Controller’ instances will be auto-generated by the storyboard. The instance serves as a subclass of the controller, with the specific behaviour/features of an app screen determined by the properties specified in the ‘ViewController.swift’ file. To put it more simply, the interaction between the data model of an app and the screen views (which show the implemented data) are managed by View Controllers. There is a single ‘content view’ in one View Controller, with an array of subclasses. The objects are of the UIViewController type. While working with more than one ‘scene’, you’ll need to use the ‘Identity Inspector’ as well.
  8. Define Actions for your app – Newbies in the field of iOS app development have to remember one thing at all times – apps are driven by system events, which are triggered by user-defined ‘Actions’. Let’s define some basic actions for your app at this point. In the default UI, create a SetDefaultTextLabel button, select it from the storyboard, and drag it to the ‘code editor’ area. Following this, a dialog box would appear. Select ‘Action’ on that, and choose ‘UIButton’ for ‘Type’ (the ‘Name’ has to be ‘SetDefaultTextLabel’). Once you click on ‘Connect’, the required code will be added by the IDE to viewcontroller.swift.
  9. Create engaging assets for games – This one is vital for iOS game developers. The concept of your game might be great – but if the app in its final form is not engaging enough, it won’t find any takers. From sounds and logos, to icons, buttons and the game characters – there are a lot of ‘Assets’ to make your game interesting, and adding a personal touch to it. Depending on the nature of the gaming app you are creating, you might also need to use sound assets.
  10. Know all that there is to know about Swift – It is not a replacement of Objective-C, but Swift is fast emerging as the go-to language for making iPhone apps. It is absolutely imperative that you learn the language thoroughly, before getting down to the coding part. Optionals, Variables and Constants, and Arrays are some of the basic things about Swift that you need to get a hang of. Knowing how to implement ‘Methods’ and ‘Functions’ is vital too. ‘Loops’ (while, for-in) and ‘Conditional Statements’ (switch, if) are the two Control Flow statements used in Swift programming – learn how and when to use them both.
  11. Manage in-app navigation – Doing this properly can go a long way in bolstering the user-friendliness of your application. For the ‘Scenes’ in the storyboard, a Navigation Bar has to be configured (use the Object Library and the Attributes Inspector for this). Create a ‘Segue’ (the transition from one Scene to the next) to lay out the forward navigation of your iPhone app. Developers monitor both backward and forward movements with the help of ‘Navigation Controllers’. Each of these contain a set of ‘View Controllers’ (with the entire set being called the ‘Navigation Stack’). Adding a navigation controller is easy – all that you have to do is go to the table view controller, and click Editor → Embed In → Navigation Controller.
  12. Know all about the MVC hierarchy – You have already used the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern in the above steps. However, it won’t be out of order to understand this process in a more in-depth manner here. All the data of the app you are making is stored in the ‘Model’, which also validates and sorts information. ‘UIView’ and/or similar such classes are used in ‘View’, to create the UI of the app. The Interface Builder helps in sketching out the layouts as well. Finally, the ‘Controller’ is the component that connects the ‘View’ and the ‘Model’.
  13. Test your app on device simulators – Presence of bugs is one of the biggest reasons for an app to get rejected at the Apple App Store. That, in turn, makes thorough testing of new iPhone apps critical. Developers can access and use the simulator app that is available within Xcode, to check out the software they have created on different virtual devices. Select the ‘iPhone 6 + Apple Watch 38 mm’ option to start off the testing (provided that you want your app to be usable on the smartwatch as well). WatchKit app developers have to run their applications on two target simulators simultaneously – for the iOS device and for Watch respectively.
  14. Create a preview video – Many iOS app developers have the opportunity (which generally remains unutilized) of adding a preview video for their applications. Having a detailed preview video is a great way to attract and engage users at the App Store – and increasing the potential number of downloads. Use QuickTime Player to create the video, add audio effects, and include a couple of screenshots as well (in addition to the static screenshots). A separate ‘app footage’ section can also be present. Make sure that the sound quality in the voiceovers is of high quality.
  15. Monetize your app – If your app’s a good one, it can generate significant revenues. You need to implement a proper app monetization strategy for that. Apple offers the iAd services as well as the in-app purchase options to monetize free apps. Prior to the final app distribution, check whether all the devices your app is compatible with is clearly stated. Ensure that all necessary launch images and icons are present as well. Finally, create a new app record in your iTunes Connect account, provide all the requisite information, and then upload your app (use Application Loader or Xcode for that). The average review time at the iOS app store is 5 days (the Mac App Store takes slightly longer).

 

New APIs like Metal (which arrived with iOS 8) have made the process of iOS app development more streamlined and powerful than ever – with its OpenCL/OpenGL-like capabilities. Be prepared for initial hiccups – even the biggest of mobile app development agencies have failed projects. Learn the basics well, make sure that initial mistakes are not repeated – and you should be on your way towards becoming a successful iOS developer.

 

As The Shadow Lengthens Over 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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— A Wrap-Up Of The Year

Mobile apps matter. A lot. Not because the good ones mint money for my company, not because making them is the hottest segment in the domain of m-technology (these are valid reasons though!) – but mainly because they excite me. Yes, 9 years after our first Java app – Qualicell – I still feel the thrills of a newbie, every time a new project comes in. ‘Puppy love’ – now that’s a nice phrase to describe how I and my Teks family feel about making new apps.

 

Okay, back to 2015 then. We completed 9 years of existence this year – that’s 9×365 days of taking up new challenges, connecting with clients, building on app ideas, and putting a smile on the faces of each people who gets in touch with Teknowledge Mobile Studio. It doesn’t feel like we have already created close to 1000 apps – but well, there it is.

 

Speaking of clients, this has been a watershed year for Teks Mobile. We have been involved in making mobile apps for overseas clients for the last four years or so – and in 2015, the total count of our foreign clientele breached the 200-mark. Here’s hoping that we will be able to touch the lives (and the smart devices!) of more people around the globe next year. Wish me luck on that!

 

Continuing with all things global, the Swedish chapter of TeknowledgeTeks Mobile Sverige – started operations from the second quarter of 2015. This one follows fairly close on the heels of the start of our branch in Australia. So now, we are present at Sydney (Australia), Kolkata (India) and Sala (Sweden). Helming a internationally mobile app company is a long-standing dream of mine – and I daresay we are already on our way.

A li’l bit of breaking news here – don’t be surprised if a new chapter of Teks Mobile opens in early-2016, at a Nordic country!

2015 has also been the year when the in-house team at Teknowledge grew like never before. This year, we recruited a handful of PHP, Android and iPhone developers. A couple of guys bid adieu too – but credit to them, both have remained in touch with us. You become a part of the Teks family once – you become a member for life!


This has been a breakthrough year for Team Teks in another aspect too. 2015 saw us really get serious about mobile game development – for both iOS and Android. A personal favourite of mine and am sure countless others, is the core area of focus.

The year has also been kind from a professional perspective. Appreciations and recognitions and awards have fairly flowed in from reputed sources. Some of the highlights in 2015 in this regard for Teks were:

  • Winner at GMASA 2015 (Best Books & Reference App Award) – Story Time For Kids.
  • Vodafone M4G Awards (Shortlisted) – Story Time For Kids.
  • Howww.com ‘App Of The Week’ (Shortlisted) – Story Time For Kids.
  • Honourable mention in the ‘Healthline 15 Best Anxiety iPhone and Android apps of 2015’ICBF.
  • Featured in the ‘Top 30 Meditation Apps (iPhone and Android)’ by TOPCOUNSELLINGSCHOOLSICBF.
  • A selection of apps featured in AppDesignServed.

Also, several of our apps got featured online in the Wacom Gallery (http://gallery.wacom.com/teknowledge) this year. We have believed in our apps, and our apps have backed up our belief!

Okay then, now let me turn my attention to the roller-coaster fun ride that 2015 was for Teknowledge Software. ‘All work and no play’ has never been a motto at my company – and it never will be!

  • On an early, chilly January morning – the 2nd cricket match between our fiercely competitive ‘Geeks’ and ‘Hipsters’ teams took place. I stood in as the umpire at times, and was the official scorer at others. It was an EXPERIENCE!
  • In April, we were off to a weekend trip to Mandarmani (yeah, it’s not THAT far…but it’s a beautiful place). Games, camping, splashing among the waves…and ah yes, some good natured roasting…were all on the roster there.
  • June saw us take up a stance that we had not tried before. The 1st edition of our ‘Go Green, Help Clean’ campaign was launched – and the entire Teks team took the pledge of planting a sapling for every app we develop. That’s our little way of giving something back to Nature.
  • And here’s one that I was not quite prepared for. We had planned a day picnic at a resort in Deulti in November – and my forever fun-loving team members sprung a surprise by arranging a surprise birthday party for yours truly! There was cake, and gifts, and good music, and great food on the occasion. Last year, they made a lovely caricature figure from one of my Facebook pictures, and now this in 2015 – there’s a reason I don’t own a ‘company’, I have a ‘family’.

Before wrapping up, I would like to thank all my co-workers, and each of our clients worldwide – for making 2015 such a special year. Keep supporting us, and plan more fun stuff from time to time (this order is for the team!). We will make 2016 bigger.

Doing more work with Node.JS and moving more into Swift programming are among our chief new year resolutions this time around. Swift 2.0 is out…and its time for us to become Teks 2.0!

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year (yeah, the original expression is the other way round…but hey, we’re quirky!). We hope that, to borrow a movie phrase, ‘the odds will ever be in our favour.’

iTunes Connect Shutdown 2015 – What Does It Mean For Developers?

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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It’s that time of the year again. The time when we wait for Santa to arrive, there’s the smell of cakes and turkey dinners and festivities in the air…and the guys at Apple App Store take their annual, week-long holiday. This year, iTunes Connect will remain closed from 22 to 29 December. In today’s discussion, we will look into what this annual shutdown actually means for iOS app developers worldwide:

 

  1. A great opportunity to showcase apps – The Christmas holidays have traditionally witnessed the highest number of app downloads from the Apple Store. In 2014, the total number of downloads jumped by around 150% during the Christmas weekend, compared to the combined figures during the first three weeks of December. It’s a happy time for Apple in general too, with more than half of the total count of new smart device activations being Apple devices. During the Santa season last year, the number of new Apple devices sold was almost 3 times that of its nearest competitor, Samsung (52% vs 18%).
  2. No new apps will release during this time – iPhone app developers clamour to get their applications submitted, approved and showcased at the App Store before the shutdown – to enhance the chances of high download figures. During the iTunes Connect shutdown window though, no new app – or even new updates to existing apps – are accepted. It’s always a good idea to get apps ready and at the store before the latter closes down. Missing out on the festive period would be a big opportunity missed.
  3. Be extra careful while testing – If you are not extra-finicky with your mobile app testing during this time, well…you’re stuck. If there’s an undetected bug in your published app – there is no scope for releasing a prompt bug-fix update. What’s more, even when iTunes reopens, you will have to wait for 15 days (maybe more) before your update gets reviewed and published. In the meantime, thousands of users can come across your buggy app, have a poor app-experience, leave negative ratings and feedback – all of these combining to a lowly app store ranking (remember how we talked about zombie apps sometime back?). Make doubly sure that there is no glitch in the iPhone/iPad/Watch app you are planning to release this Christmas.
  4. Submit your holiday apps nice and early – If you have submitted a new app last week, or worse still, will be submitting one today…you have missed a trick. Experts on Apple app development emphasize on the importance of submitting new apps at the App Store within the first 10 days of December. The average app store review period is 7-8 days, and an early submission would leave enough buffer time for the software to get approved and published. Developers would get the time to fix initial bugs too, if necessary.If you are late, note that the ship has already sailed!
  5. Accessing app analytics data – This does not go for a break during the app store shutdown. iPhone developers can still access and monitor all the mobile app analytics data that they require from the store. If anything, this is the best time to examine the trends in app-usage behaviour (since activities related to new app development is stalled for a week). With the newly gained insights, mobile app companies can chalk out plans to provide better user-experience with their upcoming applications.
  6. Make your apps bring in the holiday feel – It’s Christmas season, so why not make mobile apps – on which US teens spend more than 90 hours a month, and young men 72.5 hours a month – part of the festive feel as well? The onus for doing this lies on UI/UX designers and animators. From new, cheery layouts and interfaces, to in-app greetings – there’s plenty of ways in which developers can tweak their apps to add a seasonal feel to them. In iOS games, subtle changes can be made to the gameplay as well. It is also a good idea to change up the screenshots on the app page at the store – specifically for the festive season. While searching for apps, the cheerful new screenshots would capture the attention of users.
  7. It is not possible to change app prices – This one is important for publishers of paid apps. Just like app updates, no changes in the prices of iPhone applications are reflected during the Christmas shutdown period. The app monetization strategy (in re the pricing) has to be finalized well in advance. The number of app downloads spike significantly during the holidays – but if your pricing strategy is wrong, you will miss the scope of earning higher revenues.
  8. Is the annual shutdown an Apple-only thing? – Yes, but things can change in the next couple of years. Till last year, Google Play Store had an automated app review system – which meant that any form of yearly shutdown was not necessary. However, from March 2015, Google moved over to a manual review system, implying that a holiday break – similar to Apple’s – might be required. There has been no announcements about this for 2015, but a few years down the line, annual shutdown can arrive on Android too.
  9. No change in app rankings – This one can be a game-changer for iOS app developers. From the 22nd to the 29th of December, iDevice owners will not see any changes in the app store rankings. In other words, app visibility remains static during the shutdown (a ‘Code Freeze’) – and the applications with higher rankings stand to gain more from the higher download activities. Optimize your app well prior to release in December. If the rank of your app is low, you won’t be able to fix it during the holidays.
  10. Fresh SDK integrations have to wait – Yet another extension of the ‘no app updates’ point. When iTunes Connect is down for its annual break, developers cannot integrate and use new SDKs and APIs in their existing applications. Such changes, if made, will not be reviewed by Apple – and will go into the queue of waiting apps. During the Christmas period, such backlogs are long – and it can take upto 20 days until new SDK integrations are approved.
  11. Time to learn – You cannot submit new apps, cannot release app updates, cannot change app prices – so what can you do when the Apple App Store shuts down in December? Well, plenty! This is the ideal time to enhance your knowledge about making mobile apps for the iOS platform in general. Join a short app development training course, learn all the latest techniques of Swift/Objective-C coding, get familiar with the new Xcode version, and learn how to use sprite sheets (vital for app animators). App developers are busy round the year with clients’ projects – the holiday week gives them the chance to bolster their professional expertise.
  12. Using templates to make changes in the UI – It’s advisable to make all the necessary changes in the app UI well before the shutdown. However, in case you are somewhat late – there is the option to make such tweaks on-the-fly (going through the Apple Store is not possible). Do such changes ONLY if they are absolutely essential, and avoid trying to push big updates. The last thing you want is your app becoming ‘unavailable’ during the entire holiday period.

 

All other general access features and functionalities related to developer accounts remain the same when iTunes Connect is down for its yearly break. The total number of app downloads from the App Store has crossed the 100 billion mark, the user-count has grown by nearly 20%, and revenue from iPhone app development has increased by a whopping 25% in 2015. Prepare well for the upcoming App Store shutdown week, and make your apps really, really successful during the holidays.

 

 

Need To Hire A Digital Marketing Company? Follow These Tips!

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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It’s not for nothing that corporate houses are increasingly targeting the World Wide Web to reach out to potential customers. This year itself, more than 70% business organizations announced expansion of their allocated budgets for digital marketing activities. Internet penetration levels have come a long way since the days of dial-up connections a couple of decades ago (less than 2% people had access to the web in 1995) – and at present, 4 out of every 10 people use high-speed internet services on a regular basis. Connecting with target users online – for raising awareness about particular products, increasing business leads, and paving the way for business growth – is vital, and that is precisely where the importance of an efficient digital marketing company comes into the picture. Over here, we will provide you some handy pointers to search for an internet marketing company for your business:

 

  1. Jot down your needs – And search accordingly. Although online marketing companies are often clubbed together – not all of them offer the same set of specialized services. There might be agencies that primarily provide search engine optimization services (SEO), and do web designing projects as an addition. Many companies that are into traditional forms of marketing have started venturing into the digital medium. Create a list of the marketing goals that you have for your business, and start looking for digital marketers that would be best suited for your purpose. The core services of the company you hire must be beneficial for you.
  2. Do not overly rely on business directories – Yes, e-directories are helpful as reference sources – but you should be wary of picking web marketing agencies from any random directory. There are scores of obscure directories which simply feature names of companies in exchange of a submission fee – and do not take any responsibility regarding the proficiency, or even the genuineness, of the latter. Ideally, create a shortlist of 4-5 companies, get in touch with their representatives, ask for detailed free service quotes, compare, and then take a stand.
  3. Ask for client references and case studies – Any half-decent digital marketing company would have scores of ‘testimonials’ on their websites – praising its services to the high skies. You, the customer, however, have no way of verifying these testimonials unless you probe further. Doing so is fairly simple: you need to request your chosen internet marketing partner to supply the details of a few of their past projects, where the clients’ business was actually helped by its services. Ask for the contact information of a couple of clients as well. A good online marketing company will not hesitate in providing such details. Doing a thorough background check will keep you safe from fraudsters too. After all, what does it take to write a few lines of fake testimonials?
  4. Look for the best, not the cheapest – If a company’s USP is ‘cheap internet marketing services’, run a mile from it. Digital marketing in all forms (right from organic SEO, to paid campaigns and other online promotional activities) is a specialized field – and like all other specialized fields, it comes at a price. You need to understand that firms that promise such ‘cheapest’ services cut corners in some way in their marketing activities – compromising the overall quality of their services. Avoid such companies, and instead, look for one that would be ethical in its operations, can justify its pricing structure (and does not charge a huge advance payment), and most importantly, is in sync with your requirements. You need to find a ‘best’ match, not just a ‘cheap’ service provider.

Note: If possible, hire a digital marketing company that has already handled projects related to your niche. The ‘relevant experience’ always comes in handy.

  1. Be wary of the bad apples – Every profession has some, and online marketing has more than its fair share of such fraudulent companies. Look up the companies you have shortlisted on reliable sources like the Better Business Bureau (BBB), to authenticate their claims. Before signing on any agreements, keep an eye out for hidden costs and/or other such tricky policy clauses. Inquire about how the company plans to go about promoting your business on the World Wide Web (that would give you a rough idea of whether it has even understood your business needs or not). If you get stuck with a bad marketer, you will keep shelling out money – and there will be hardly any results in sight, even after months and years.
  2. Bust those myths – Do not let the many prevalent myths about internet marketing cloud your judgement. For instance, there is a thoroughly baseless belief that a company that ranks the highest on the Google SERP (search engine results page) for keywords like “SEO+(geographical region)” is the best. Such high rankings might be due to the domain age of the website of that company – and not even closely related to the quality of service it provides. Companies listed a couple of notches below might actually be better. There is no reason to believe that hiring an overseas digital marketing agency would be unduly risky either. In this day and age of quick, real-time communication and information-sharing, geographical distances have ceased to be a factor. In many cases, an overseas company might be at a position to help you better than a local one.
  3. Find out how success will be measured – Businesses differ from one another (precious little is common between, say, an online retail store and a law firm) – and separate sets of parameters, known as Key Performance Indicators, are required to monitor their performances. Find out from the representatives of the internet marketing company you wish to hire, what KPIs they will be using to track the progress of your business. Unless the ‘right’ KPIs are tracked, you might end up getting misleading reports…and ultimately, be clueless about how your company’s marketing campaigns are doing.
  4. Is the biggest digital company also the best? – That will be a ‘no’. The biggest digital companies, of course, know their job well (that’s why they have managed to become big in the first place) – but they may not be best-suited for your business. For starters, if you do not have a big enough budget, the senior executives of such companies will probably not look into your project – and the junior employees who are given charge might prove to be…well…not as competent. Your focus should always be on finding a company that would assign your project to its most experienced, efficient personnel. The complicated hierarchy of a ‘big’ company can be a roadblock in this regard – and a ‘smaller’ company might probably prove better.
  5. Don’t let your project get outsourced – Unfortunately, this is something quite a few digital marketing firms do. They accept projects from clients, take the advance payments, and promptly proceed to delegate the tasks to another, third-party, little-known agency. Clarify whether your chosen marketing company does the same as well, and if the answer is yes, start looking for another firm. The marketing for your company on the online space should be done by digital marketers who are prepared to take complete responsibility for their actions. The company that you get in talks with should be the company that handles your project.
  6. Ask for reports. Regularly – You hire the services of a digital marketing partner because: a) it knows the nitty-gritty of online marketing better than you do, and b) you do not have the time to invest on marketing activities. However, the onus is on you to ask for reports from the internet marketing firm on a regular basis. These detailed reports are the only sources of information for you to track how good (or otherwise) a job the marketing company is doing. Reports should be either monthly or quarterly, and should include information on all the KPIs. In addition, there should also be a mention of the strategies the marketing agency plans to implement in the next term. If a digital marketer seems reluctant or vague about providing reports, that’s a telltale sign that all is not right with it. Start looking for an alternative.
  7. Will there be any ‘black-hat’ activities? – Do not use the phrase ‘black hat’, but find out how exactly the marketing company plans to optimize your business website and social media profiles (Facebook page/post ‘likes’, Twitter followers, etc.). There is no dearth of new digital marketers that indulge in wholesale spamming, content plagiarization, keyword stuffing, link buying, and other such ‘black-hat’ promotional strategies. Such moves can lead to serious penalties being imposed, from which it is difficult, if not impossible, to recover. It takes time to build the reputation of a business on the web in a natural way. Have the necessary patience, and never settle for ‘black-hat’ tactics. They don’t pay.
  8. Separate departments for separate tasks – Let’s just say you need a complete overhaul of your existing website, or want to build a site from scratch. The services that you will need will include domain registration and hosting, website development and designing, content development, creation and promotion of social media pages, and overall optimization. The digital marketing agency you select should have separate teams of developers, web content developers, SEO and SMO specialists, apart from general data entry staff – who would be in charge of submissions (speaking of which, make sure that your site does not get submitted to blacklisted directories!). If the same person or group of individuals do all of these jobs, rest assured that their service quality will be below-par, at best.
  9. Awareness about the latest trends – The field of digital marketing is in a constant state of flux, new trends are evolving and being followed – and unless your digital marketing partner keeps track of such trends and techniques, it won’t be able to serve you in the best possible manner. For instance, mobile marketing has arrived in a big way over the last five years or so – and in addition to having a fully responsive, mobile friendly website, you might need a SMS marketing campaign, and even a dedicated mobile app for your business. Static marketing techniques that worked like a charm in 2005 are no longer sufficient now. The company you hire must be able to come up with solutions that follow the latest optimization techniques.
  10. Look for a creative bunch of people – Web designing and content development in particular, and overall internet marketing in general, require a lot of creativity. Go through some of the previous projects of the companies you have shortlisted, and find out how (and whether!) they have managed to add a creative touch in their works. Put informal questions regarding the previous success stories and failures (even the best digital marketing agency will have some!). The last thing you want is pay money to a firm for the creation of a ‘boring’ website. The attention-span of people online is short, and if a site does not capture their attention within the first few seconds – they’ll stay away from it.

Most online marketing companies offer multiple service packages. Go through each of them, and select one based on your exact requirements and, of course, your budget. You should request for a couple of initial free consultations as well. Keep in mind that digital marketing is a continuous process, and the firm you choose should be up to the challenge of meeting the evolving needs of your business. A strong online presence is vital for the success of any company – and a good web marketing firm can ensure just that.

 

 

Apple In 2016: Expected Products & Announcements

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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2015 is nearing its end, and it has been a buzzing year for Apple Inc. This was a ‘tock’ year (following the tick-tock development cycle that Apple follows for iPhone) – and in addition to iPhone 6S/6S Plus, the tech giant released a slew of other gadgets and software which have already become fairly popular. A new iPad (iPad Mini 4), a new Macbook (the much-hyped 12” Retina Macbook), a new stylus (Apple Pencil) would all feature among the highlights from Apple Inc. in 2015 – but the one that easily takes the cake is Apple Watch, which debuted in the markets in late-April. There’s a lot to look forward to from Tim Cook and his team in 2016, and here’s a roundup of what to expect from Apple next year:

 

  1. iPhone 7 – Things will be ‘ticking’ over in 2016, and after the successful iPhone 6S upgrade – a significantly revamped flagship model of iPhone will arrive. According to leading smart device analysts and Apple app developers, the iPhone 7 will have several new features – right from the removal of the ‘Home’ button to the side, to the (probable) replacement of the power-draining LCD screen with a full AMOLED display (like Apple Watch). There will be other subtle changes, like the addition of a few ‘soft keys’, to increase the overall screen real estate of the device. Hopefully, iPhone 7 will have a reliable fingerprint reader too – that one would be crucial for the use of Apple Pay. Oh, and it will also be the slimmest iPhone to date!
  2. iOS 10 – An extension of the first point. Every year, Apple brings out an iteration of its mobile platform – and in 2016, it will be the turn of iOS 10. Reports from iOS app development forums and groups suggest that the iOS 9 update (focusing on enhanced stability and reliability) has done a good job (the new iOS 9.2 update fixes most of the initial bugs). With iOS 10, which will debut on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus phablet (will there be one?), Apple can once again turn its attention to including new features and tweaks. For instance, there have already been telltale hints that users will get the option to hide the pre-installed applications that they don’t need. Another step towards greater customization, that.
  3. A new, smaller-screen iPhone – Rumours suggest that Apple has plans to revive its ‘budget smartphone’ iPhone xC line with iPhone 7 (iPhone 7C should release in 2017). However, the company can very well spring a surprise and launch an iPhone 6C handset early next year. The device will have a 4” screen, and should do better in terms of sales than what Apple achieved with its ill-advised and ill-conceived iPhone 5C. In fact, many mobile software and iOS app developers had expected iPhone 6C to make an appearance this year itself. Maybe, Apple has just postponed it to 2016.
  4. MacBook Air – The next World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) is slated for June 2016, and Apple would, in all likelihood, announce its long-overdue MacBook Air updates during the event. It is expected that the Cupertino company will pull the plug on the 11” MacBook Air, with a 13” model and a 15” inch model taking its place. The new MacBook Air-s will boast of several new, performance-enhancing features as well – like redesigned cooling modules, Type-C USB, and a fresh set of batteries. The all-new Skylake processors from Intel might also be present in the new MacBook Air models. Will they have Retina display too?
  5. iPad Air might receive an update – 2014’s iPad Air 2 did not receive any update this year, but things might change next year. For starters, the iPad Pro has arrested the dwindling interest of users about tablets. Also, Apple Pencil has been appreciated for its efficiency and functionality (something Steve Jobs probably had not foreseen) – and Apple would certainly want to make it more than an iPad Pro-only stylus. All of these point towards the likely launch of an iPad Air 3 model – with iPhone 6-esque 3D Touch. There is not much chance of an upgrade to the iPad Pro being announced though.
  6. OS X 10.12 Fuji – Oh well, we do not know whether the new Mac OS version will retain the name ‘Fuji’ – but OS X 10.12 will be out in 2016, that’s for certain. The update has already started showing up in server logs of systems, and early reports indicate that the new OS X version is in the final rounds of testing, on the in-house systems at the Apple campus. The adoption rate of this year’s OS X 10.11 El Capitan has been well and truly impressive, and ‘Fuji’, with better specs and greater stability, should be even more successful.
  7. Live streaming on Apple TV – The fourth-generation Apple TV finally arrived in 2015 along with the first-ever tvOS. Following its favourable reports, software and app developers fully expect live streaming features to be become available on TV (as an update, in all likelihood). BBC iPlayer has already landed on Apple TV, and by next year, the differences with Fox and CBS should get sorted out, and users will get the option to stream live content on Apple TV. Jobs had once referred to TV as a ‘hobby’, but Tim Cook considers it as a ‘game-changing opportunity’ to increase sales figures. Given the license agreements, the announcement should come within the second quarter of next year.
  8. News on Project Titan – No one expects the much-talked about Apple Car to be unveiled before 2019. but there should be some official news and announcements in 2016 regarding how the ambitious ‘Project Titan’ is shaping up. The self-driving Google Car is also eyeing a 2018-19 release, and Apple should have that extra bit of motivation to beat its arch-rival in the smart vehicle market. It would be interesting to note whether, and how, third-party apps could be integrated in the Apple Car.
  9. Apple Watch 2 – According to a recent Canalys report, well over 7.5 million units of Apple Watch has already been sold since its launch – and the upcoming holidays should bring in another spurt in the sales of the smartwatch. The arrival of watchOS 2 (v2.1 also released a few days back) has also made it possible for WatchKit app developers to create native applications directly for the smartwatch. In 2016, the gadget will complete a year of existence, and an upgrade is expected. Apple will probably make Watch 2 less reliant on paired iPhones (maybe, just maybe, it might be a fully standalone smartwatch) – something that both general users as well as app developers would like. The battery performance would be bolstered too, and the new model of Apple Watch is also likely to have several new sensors and built-in GPS features. The S1 processor (which is similar to the chip in iPhone 5S) will make way for the faster and more robust S2 processor. Do not expect Apple Watch 2 to be a slimmer smartwatch though.
  10. A new member in the MacBook line – Just like the early MacBook Air models, the MacBook laptops have also faced quite a bit of flak for not quite justifying their price tags. Now, no one (except for Apple insiders, of course) know how Apple plans to roll out the MacBook line of devices – but there is a slim chance of a new model arriving in 2016 (along with the new MacBook Air). Given that this is one of the less likely Apple announcements in 2016, not much is known about the specs that the new MacBook might have (except that it will probably be thinner). Let’s just wait and see how Apple brings forward its laptops.
  11. A10 processor – Reports of a rift between Samsung and TSMC – the manufacturing partners of Apple – over the A9 chip contract have started leaking in. Many iPhone app development experts feel that Intel might step in with its technology, in the A10 processor chip – which will also debut in next year’s iPhone 7. The new processor would have higher memory bandwidth support capacity, and will be based on the 10nm technology. Superior multi-threading is yet another thing that the A10 processor would focus on. There will be a rise in the core count too, compared to the A9 chip.
  12. Force Touch Keypad for MacBook Air – The recent patent filing by Apple is a fair indication that the company is working on a Force Touch KeyBoard, which will be usable in collaboration with the innovative Magic Trackpad 2. In addition to being able to discern the differences in force with which tabs are pressed (a helpful feature for music-creators), there is a buzz about the Force Touch Keypad also having strong haptic feedback support. Using the keypad will be a breeze even for visually challenged users.
  13. Exponential growth in China – In the fourth quarter of 2015, the revenue of Apple Inc. from the China market zoomed to $12.6 billion – a rise of nearly 100%. This trend is expected to gain further momentum next year, and by 2017, China will emerge as one of the biggest (if not the sole leader) revenue-generating markets for the Cupertino company. iPhones, in particular, will drive the growth of Apple in these regions.
  14. Apple Music on iPod – Those predicting the end of iPod Touch were proved wrong by the new update from Apple this year (incidentally, this was the first iPod update in more than three years). Mobile developers are confident that Apple will try to buoy the sales of iPod further, by bringing the Apple Music service on the device. The future, however, looks bleak for both iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano. In 2016 and beyond, iPod Touch seems to be the only music device from Apple that will have strong revenue-earning potential.

 

There has been hardly any news on the Mac Mini front, so the announcement of a new model in 2016 is extremely unlikely. Instead, Apple might very well go for a new Mac Pro update. iOS app and game developers are eagerly looking forward to Swift 3.0 – with the upcoming iteration of the programming language reported to have many new APIs and other generic features (the ‘NS’ prefixes will disappear too). 2016 promises to be an exciting year for Apple fans (much like the last couple of years) – and it remains to be seen how many of these announcements are actually made.

 

Which new Apple product are you looking forward to the most in 2016?

 

The Basics Of watchOS 2 App Development: Key Points

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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On the 9th of December, Apple announced its ‘Best Of App Store’ list for 2015. ‘Dark Sky’ – a weather based application – bagged the ‘app of the year’ award for Apple Watch (for iPhone, ‘Periscope’ was the winner). The Cupertino company has also already released the watchOS 2.1 update – and initial reviews of it from developers worldwide have been positive. The spurt in interest in making apps for Apple Watch is pretty much evident from the fact that, the total number of WatchKit apps developed by third-party developers is closing in on 12000 at present – a big jump from the 1500-odd figure in June. In what follows, we will provide a basic outline about making apps on the watchOS 2 platform:

 

  1. Download the latest version of Xcode – Many iPhone app developers have reported that Xcode 7 does not have the Watch simulator for applications – and hence, getting the upgraded Xcode 7.1 version would be advisable. Check whether the project wizard has a dedicated watchOS section in the left panel – between the iOS and the OS X sections. Click on watchOS → Application, and then choose ‘iOS App with WatchKit App’. This is the template you will be working with.
  2. Understand the ‘peer-to-peer’ architecture – Before getting down to actual coding, it is vital for WatchKit developers to understand the underlying system architecture of watchOS 2. Unlike its predecessor, the new Apple Watch OS allows the WatchKit extension of applications to remain and operate in a native manner within the smartwatch (earlier, WatchKit extensions used to reside inside the paired main iPhone app). In other words, with watchOS 2, the logic of WatchKit apps can now be present in the Watch itself.
  3. Enter the first set of details – On the screen that appears after you have selected ‘WatchKit App’, enter the information required. Apart from the ‘Product Name’ (choose something simple, like ‘My First Watch App’) and the ‘Organization Name’, you will have to select the ‘Project’ and the ‘Embed In Companion Application’, from the respective drop-down options. Most new watchOS 2 app development projects will be done in Swift – so choose that as the ‘Language’. For a basic Watch app, the boxes below ‘Language’ are not required…uncheck them all. The setup for making your Watch app is now ready.
  4. iCloud support will no longer be present – watchOS 1 had full support of iCloud technologies, but Apple has changed things up with the latest iteration of the watchOS. The paired iOS companion application is now in charge of performing the same tasks. What’s more – this information/results are transferred wirelessly to the WatchKit extension. On the other hand, managing files on Watch and its paired iPhone separately and locally is important, if a WatchKit app is heavily dependent on the connected iPhone application for data. Keep in mind that there is no automatic data backup feature in Apple Watch yet, and backups have to be taken from the iPhone.
  5. Know the folders in Project Navigator – Okay then, after setting up the app project in Xcode 7.1, you will need to get familiar with the revamped ‘Project Navigator’ screen of the IDE. In particular, those who make mobile apps should have in-depth knowledge about the purpose of three folders here: I) Demo WatchKit App, where all the main resources, as well as the storyboard files of the application are stored, II) Demo WatchKit Extension, which is the location for the ‘logic’ of the app, i.e., the source files of the app extension, and III) Demo, which houses all the resources and information about the iOS companion application.
  6. Playing video files in Watch app – watchOS 2 has come with an impressive array of new UI elements, and among them, WKInterfaceMovie has come in for particular praise from the contingent of iOS app developers. This component helps in integrating audio and video within the WatchKit application. All that you have to do is connect the IBOutlet in the app code with the new audio-video UI component in the Object Library (after dragging it to the main storyboard interface). Within your project, WKInterfaceMovie must reside inside the WatchKit extension, since the former supports only the URLs of local files. Add movie to the component by the command line setMovieURL:. Practically every feature of the videos in Watch apps can be customized – right from loops and gravity, to poster images.
  7. Configure Xcode and run your app – Before moving on to other interesting tidbits about developing apps for the watchOS 2 platform, let us build and run the basic application that you have already created. From the active scheme (Demo), select ‘iPhone 6 + Apple Watch – 38 mm’ and hit ‘Play’. Both the Apple Watch simulator as well as the iOS simulator should simultaneously appear in the Xcode dock. In case the Watch simulator is not visible, you will have to activate it from the iOS Simulator and click on ‘Show App on Apple Watch’.
  8. Real property animation arrives on watchOS 2 – All that the first version of watchOS had in the way of animations were lengthy sequences of static images. On the updated version of the OS, WatchKit app developers finally get the chance to include property animations in their applications. Within the IBOutlets of the code, you will need to add the WKInterfaceButtons (3) and the WKInterfaceImage. Values can be easily set for all the animation attributes, like background colour, alignment (horizontal vs vertical), alpha, and insets of group content. There is still a lot of room for improvement in the animation features on watchOS – but professional animators working on the Apple platform at least have been given a chance to get creative with their Watch apps.
  9. Use the new APIs – One of the best features of watchOS 2 for developers is the slew of new, usable APIs it has come with. It’s time to check out a few of them. Navigate to Demo WatchKit App → Interface.storyboard, and include the ‘slider’ and the ‘button’ components to your project. ‘Pickers’ are handled by ‘WKInterfacePicker’, in the same manner as they are managed by ‘UIPickerView’ in iOS projects.  With the help of the Digital Crown of Apple Watch, you can browse through the objects of ‘WKPickerItem’. Stacked, List and Image Sequence are the three different ways in which items can be viewed in ‘WKPickerItem’. For the ‘button’ component, you only have to drag-and-drop it to the ‘InterfaceController’ and name the Action correctly (showAlertPressed). You can play around with the ‘sliders’ component as well.
  10. Alerts and Actions – Experts from the field of iPhone and Watch app development have liked the new system for generating message alerts on watchOS 2. The platform has 2 separate options – ‘WKControllerAlertStyleSideBySideButtonsAlert’ and ‘WKAlertControllerStyleAlert’. As its name suggests, a maximum of two buttons can be horizontally placed with the first one, while the second option is for placing buttons vertically. There is yet another style, named ‘WKControllerStyleActionSheet’, which defines the features of the action sheet. There can also be three styles of buttons – Default, Cancel and Destructive (the first is present in most cases, while the last is shown when users are about perform a critical action, like data deletion). These buttons are created with ‘WKActionStyleDefault’, ‘WKActionStyleCancel’ and ‘WKActionStyleDestructive’ respectively.
  11. Make a Controller and connect the Outlets – Let us now get things organized and sorted out. WatchKit app developers need to click ‘watchOS → Source → WatchKit Class → Next’ (in the dialog box that pops up after ‘New File’ is chosen from ‘WatchKit extension’). The controller class has to be named, along with the name of the subclass this controller will be a part of. Outlets can then be added to the controller, with the help of the ‘Identity Inspector’. Simply select ‘Watch → Interface.Storyboard’, and add a ‘Custom Class’ to the Controller you have just created. You should now be good to connect the outlets and pass information to them.
  12. Including customized sketches and drawings – Native apps for Apple Watch can finally have custom drawings and figures – although there is no ‘UIView’ for the watchOS platform yet. App UI/UX designers can use tools like UIBizerPath and Core Graphics (for this, a prior knowledge of 2D Quartz programming will come in handy). After the ‘WKInterfaceImage’ component is brought inside the main storyboard interface and connected to ‘IBOutlets’, drawings can be made – including charts and graphics. If you wish the app image(s) to cover the entire screen real estate of Apple Watch, select the ‘Relative’ file size option in ‘Container’.
  13. Add and populate tables – For this, developers have to go to the ‘Attributes Inspector’ in the ‘Interface Controller’, and set the ‘Identifier’ and ‘Title’ first. Once that is done, a new table can be imported from the Object Library (to, of course, the interface controller). The ‘Table Row Controller’ is present in the drop-down navigation menu. Adjust the color and alignment of the table, along with its spacing properties. To populate this table, you will now have to drag from the ‘Table’ to the ‘ScheduleInterfaceController’. This creates an outlet, which populates the table. ‘Row Controllers’ can also be added.
  14. Migrating from watchOS 1 – Several indie developers as well as mobile app companies already have portfolios of Watch apps – which need to be ported to the watchOS 2 platform (just like how older iPhone apps are made compatible with new versions of iOS). To migrate an existing app for Apple Watch, open it in the latest Xcode version. A notification will flash at the bottom of the ‘Issue Navigator’ screen. There is a ‘Perform Changes’ button under that – and when it is clicked, the existing project is migrated to watchOS 2.

 

Note: In case you wish your WatchKit app to serve both the versions of watchOS, creating separate executables and targets will be necessary. Code-sharing, in particular, might be an issue, since the app development principles and architecture differ significantly between the two.

 

Since the launch of Apple Watch, there has been an increase of around 280% in the number of native apps for the smartwatch, developed by third-party app agencies. While the first set of these applications were nothing to write home about, WatchKit app developers are gradually managing to come up with better concepts and ideas. The arrival of a separate app store for Watch apps has been a boost, and watchOS 2 is a lot more developer-friendly than the earlier version as well. Making apps for Apple Watch can be challenging and a lot of fun – you need to invest some time to learn the basics, and then get into it.

 

 

Top 15 Tips To Make Big Data Applications

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 market for data-driven mobile applications is getting bigger – there are no two ways about it. By the end of this year, the global big data app market will be a $17 billion industry (as per IDC survey) – a mighty impressive figure, considering that the value of this market was only $3.3 billion in 2010. With most leading corporate houses across the world opting to extend operations with the help of such apps, developers are regularly taking up custom big data app development projects. In today’s discussion, we provide some essential tips on creating these big data apps:

 

  1. Prepare for revisions and iterations – Unlike general iPhone or Android apps, big data applications generally do not have any clear-cut objective to start out with. They are primarily created for data mining purposes – to collect and store customer information that MIGHT (and not SURELY) help in generating more business. As the app brings in more and more data, trends and insights become clearer, targets become more certain, and objectives can then be defined. At the time of conceptualizing and creating the prototype of big data mobile apps, developers need to be ready to make changes, as and when necessary. Flexibility is the name of the game here, and iterations with tweaks in the app are vital.
  2. Use real-time querying methods for data collection – Data-driven enterprise apps have to provide detailed, high-fidelity information to companies, and they need to perform this task quick. The reason for this emphasis on data mining speed is simple: the competition is getting hotter, and getting important customer data before competitors do can be a game-changer. In this scenario, mobile app developers invariably recommend the implementation of real-time query in big data applications. The data should flow in via an incremental, integrated and seamless manner. The app data is, more often than not, multi-structured – and they have to be managed efficiently and quickly by apps. That only can deliver competitive advantages.
  3. Never compromise on quality – True for any mobile app, and particularly critical for the ones with big data in their backend resources. The overall percentage of uninstallation of applications (on iOS and Android) due to bugs, speed problems and other performance issues stands at alarming 86% in 2015. With so many rival app companies jumping into the big data development bandwagon, there is hardly any room for making mistakes and hoping to rectify things later on. Do not ever be in a rush while working on a big data project. Apparently minor oversights can totally ruin your app.
  4. Decide how to monitor the app’s performance – Big data app development is iterative, and these iterations have to be based on the performance of the application (a circular process, if you will). Experts from the field of mobile app development have repeatedly highlighted the importance of using certain relevant Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, for this purpose. The metrics in the KPI-set should be chosen in a manner that they continue delivering progressive reports on app performance for a long-time (a myopic approach would never work here). Depending on the precise nature of a big data app, the KPIs can include figures like revenue-per-installations and number of downloads-per-acquisition. The focus needs to be on enhancing the retention of big data apps.
  5. Be proactive during app testing – Yes, there are error logs and lists of previously seen viruses and other threats that can affect big data applications. However, testing your mobile app simply on the basis of these would be inadequate. The type of data that an application collects, and the way in which this data mining is done, can expose the app to new threats and issues. During the mobile app testing phase, take time out to jot down all the types of threats that your app might be exposed to (in addition to those mentioned in error logs), and check the software for each of them.
  6. Make the app data actionable – Purely descriptive information is great for writing research reports and thesis papers. For a mobile app driven by big data though, the information needs to be actionable. Make sure that your application generates such data that would indeed help businesses (or independent entrepreneurs, as the case may be) in strategy-making, marketing, and day-to-day operational purposes. In most cases, a big data app should also has the capacity to predict future trends on the basis of past data. Accuracy, hence, is of essence too.
  7. Kickstart with small databases – A large business house will potentially have hundreds of terabytes of information. Including all of it in the backend server database of a mobile app is a sureshot recipe of the latter’s failure. It is always a good idea to start off with a relatively small, manageable database – and then scale it up, if required. With the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) also on a fast track worldwide, the volume of available information will only get larger. App developers need to sit with clients and determine the size of data that should be present in the initial versions of the application. Apps with information overload often turn out to be messy and hardly of any use – and what’s more, their development costs are often exorbitant.
  8. Make use of cloud services – From shortening decision timelines and reducing capital expenses, to cutting down on important data security risks – cloud services offer a lot of advantages over traditional multi-structure databases on local app servers (such database maintenance can be financially draining too). Cloud services like Google Compute Engine and Microsoft Azure can also help in improving the scalability of big data applications (both upward and downward), on a very granular level. New datasets can be included with ease as well. The ‘pay-as-you-go’ cost models of data-driven applications with cloud support also make them popular among enterprise clients. They have to pay ONLY for whatever service they use.
  9. Use device hardware to capture data – Most of the latest flagship smartphones have 15-20 sensors. Most, if not all, can be used to capture data – data that is refined and obviously, collected first-hand. This is precisely why iPhone app development professionals harp on the need for any good big data app to work in sync with the various sensors present in the device hardware. Many existing business apps do not yet do this – and it is expected that compatibility with smartphone sensors will be a focus area of mobile developers in the foreseeable future.
  10. Relevant data matters, all data doesn’t – Why is a big data application even created in the first place? That’s right, to obtain pertinent, real-time information that would help in maximizing business growth potentials. There is absolutely no need for the final version of a big data app (the beta test versions can do this though) to collect gluttons of unsorted information – since only a fraction of it would be of actual use. What’s more, an app that neglects the relevancy factor while collecting data sacrifices on speed and efficiency, is more costly, and is more difficult to maintain as well. Find out from clients about the business metrics that your big data app needs to focus on, and develop accordingly.
  11. User-experience is still the most important factor – Data-driven mobile enterprise apps should never pose problems at the time of actual deployment. Remember, you can have as many fancy analytics features and data collection nodes in an app as you want – but it is the UI and ease-of-usage of the app that would determine its acceptability in an organization. Analytics are not, and shall never be, a substitute of user-experience. Another factor that app developers have to keep in mind is that big data applications are required to COMPLEMENT the existing knowledge pool of managers and entrepreneurs. The latter do not need to learn everything from scratch.
  12. The big data should help in formulating quick solutions – A successful big data app should have the capability to add ‘intelligence’ to the collected stats, analyze problems from a fresh perspective – and help users arrive at innovative, viable solutions. The customized information generated by these applications should be accessible to the decision-makers of organizations quickly and easily. Big data can go a long way in helping entrepreneurs think beyond static solutions, and your app needs to give them the right resources for that.
  13. Customization – On both the Android and the iOS platforms, mobile apps driven by big data need to have high-end customization features. Users of these applications might want, and often need to, access the data in different ways – to get the correct insights and understanding. The onus is on the app developers to make their app work beyond static hierarchical data systems, and create sandboxes and faceted search options. People who are in charge of taking decisions on the basis of information thrown up from big data apps are, in effect, ‘data scientists’ – and they need to be able to use your app in the way they want.
  14. One size most certainly does not fit all – Let us consider two business firms – Firm A and Firm B. The first is an advertising firm, and it is looking for an answer to the query – ‘What advertising campaigns should we launch for the next year?’ It needs a big-data app that provides ad-hoc information on past customer purchase behaviour, so that the right decision can be taken on its basis. Firm B, on the other hand, provides information services, and is looking for an application that would answer queries like ‘Which hotels near my house are currently accepting room reservations?’ In the data app for this firm, GPS-support and real-time data streaming are two must-have features (historical data is not of any use here). Understand the nature of business of an enterprise and get an idea of the problem(s) it is trying to solve with a big data application. That will help you in churning out the ‘right’ app.
  15. Automated test-driven development is the way to go – If a big data app has bugs or security concerns, its reviews will be poor, the client will walk away in a huff, and your mobile app agency will earn a bad reputation. With the total number of devices on which an app has to be compatible being large (and getting larger every quarter), automated quality assurance (QA) is the best possible method for dedicated app testing. This test-driven development process is meant to augment traditional manual beta testing – and can be of great help in quickly detecting bugs and errors, which can then be removed. Automated app tests act as a buffer over human errors, and also saves both time and money. A bug-free, properly functioning app – that’s what manual+automated testing promises.

 

Mobile app developers also need to include tools in big data apps for in-depth analysis and interpretation of the collected data. The core algorithms of such apps need to be sound, and users should have the chance to examine data from different unique perspectives. Be very careful while blocking out all possible data security threats (of which there are many) that your app might be susceptible to. The compound annual growth rate of big data applications will be almost 27% by 2018 – and developers need to create their apps with due care, to survive and thrive in this domain.

 

 

What’s New In iOS 9.2?

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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At the start of November, the estimated adoption rate of iOS 9.1 was nearly 67% (according to official App Store Distribution release). The figure is impressive, and in keeping with the fast start that the iOS 9 platform has got off to. The number of iPhone users worldwide making the move to iOS 9 and its update has increased by nearly 10% between the 5 October – 2 November time-span. The iOS 9.2 update is also in the offing – and although no official date of its release has yet been announced, Apple seeded the fourth beta of iOS 9.2 three weeks back. Here are some interesting new features that would be present in the latest iteration of iOS 9:

 

  1. Better 3D Touch – There have been reports about the 3D Touch feature of iOS 9.1 not being as smooth and efficient as it should have been. Mobile software and iOS app developers fully expect Tim Cook’s team to address this issue in the upcoming update. In particular, the problems in 3D Touch on iPhone 6S Plus – which have cropped up mainly due to the higher pixel count of the device – will be resolved. Once upgraded, handsets will be able to gauge the nature and extent of pressure applied on the display screen in a much more efficient manner.
  2. Third-party app extensions on Safari – This one will give a boost to both the web browsing experience as well as mobile app usage of iPhone owners. iOS 9.2 will bring in a new pop-up window in Safari, with complete support for external application extensions. In addition, the rough edges in the Viewer Control have also been ironed out. With the new update, web support on the latest flagship iPhones will become more streamlined and well-managed. There will be an edge swipe option as well.
  3. App switching support for iPad Air – iOS 9.1 is a fairly decent update (unlike the bug-ridden update that was iOS 8.1). However, general users as well as iPhone app development experts have been able to pinpoint certain glitches in it – among which the laggy app switch support on iPad Air is a glaring one. Fortunately, this problem has been brought to notice, and will be rectified by the Cupertino company in the iOS 9.2 update. The overall interface is going to be more immersive and fluid, providing: a) users the opportunity to use apps more easily, and b) developers to come up with newer and better iPad applications.
  4. Content Blockers without reload – This one is an interesting add-on fix for Safari in iOS 9.2. Users will finally get the option to reload pages online, without having to go through the troubles of disabling Content Blockers. This can be done by performing a long press on the ‘Reload’ tab in the Safari View Controller. Not a game-changing feature of iOS 9.2 – but a definite indication that Apple is striving to make its newest mobile platform more user-friendly.
  5. NumberSync service on AT&T – If the last one was not a big change, this one definitely is. Software analysts and iOS app developers have already talked about how Apple is trying to integrate its mobile ecosystem better, and with iOS 9.2, the company has taken another step in that direction. Those with iPhone 6S/6S Plus on the AT&T carrier will be able to access and make use of the NumberSync system. The service allows all AT&T smart devices (tablets, phones and even smartwatches) to be connected by a single, secure phone number. This, in turn, makes it easy to reply to messages or respond to calls on one device from another connected handset. Sprint and T-Mobile users won’t be getting NumberSync, however.
  6. Siri will understand Arabic – The family of languages of supported by Siri – the mobile digital assistant on iPhones – will receive a new member with the release of iOS 9.2. Last year when iOS 8 was launched, Apple had introduced Arabic support on both QuickType as well as Keyboard Dictation – and with the soon-to-release iteration of iOS 9, Siri would support Arabic as well (taking the total number of languages supported by Siri up to 18). According to industry insiders and experts from leading mobile app agencies, one of the key reasons for including Arabic as a ‘Siri language’ is the series of new Apple retail outlets at Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is expected that the sale of iOS devices will get a lift in these cities, once Arabic arrives on Siri.
  7. Better audio streaming – Another slight hitch with the iOS 9.1 update was the lag in audio streaming on stereo devices. With iOS 9 putting stability and usability as its primary focus, it is natural to expect that such problems will no longer be present on handsets upgraded to iOS 9.2. Audio streaming to stereo systems will be faster, lossless and a lot smoother. The general sound quality of iPhones will probably get a lift too.
  8. Wi-fi calling on iCloud – This is an extension of the expected arrival of NumberSync on upgraded AT&T iPhones. Reviewers of the latest smartphones and mobile operating systems from Apple have confirmed that users will now be able to activate wi-fi calling on all devices that are inter-connected in iCloud. After upgrading to iOS 9.2, NumberSync can be set up by tapping on Settings → Phone → Wi-fi Calling → Add Wi-fi Calling For Other Devices. The wireless calling feature will get activated, and connected Mac systems will receive a real-time identification (FaceTime). Once that is clicked, a code will appear, and that will have to be entered on the paired iPhone.
  9. Multiple swipe feature on Safari – Yet another indication that Apple is trying to make the Safari browser on iOS 9.2 devices more powerful and efficient than ever before. The existing lags on iOS 9 and 9.1-powered phones would, hopefully, disappear – and what’s more, users will be able to make multiple swipe gestures quickly. Early reports from beta testers and Apple app developers have confirmed that the new swipe gestures indeed make navigation and browsing significantly smoother on Safari.
  10. Syncing with Apple Watch – Some reports related to iOS 9.1 suggested that a section of users faced problems while syncing their iPhone 6S (or upgraded earlier models) with Apple Watch. With watchOS 2 and iOS 9.2, this is yet another issue that will soon get resolved. Watch is still heavily dependent for many of its functions on paired iPhones – and the problem-free syncing would surely be a delight for users. WatchKit app developers would also get the opportunity to create better, more user-friendly apps for Apple Watch.
  11. Improved iCloud Keychain usability – In November, app developers received a fair few bug reports associated with the iCloud Keychain. The 2nd major iOS 9 update (incidentally, iOS 9.2 will be the 5th update overall of the iOS 9 platform) will solve this as well. Since its debut on iOS 7 in 2013, iCloud Keychain has increasingly grown in popularity as a secure database for passwords and other important personal data – and with the bugs of iOS 9.1 removed, it would become all the more usable.
  12. Viewing apps in the Safari view of other apps – This is a nice little feature that would enhance the convenience of users while operating certain iPhone apps. For instance, in the Safari view of the Twitter application, apps like 1Password and LastPass can be accessed and viewed. It remains to be seen what other native iOS apps support this functionality too.

 

The iOS 9.2 update will be available for download on iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 series (including iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C), iPhone 6/6 Plus and, of course, iPhone 6S/6S Plus. The sixth-generation iPod Touch will get it as well, along with iPad Mini 4, iPad 3 and iPad Air 2. It has been close to 50 days since the stable release of iOS 9.1 – and the version has been mostly satisfactory. iOS 9.2 is almost certain to make the iPhone-experience even better.