Monthly Archives: September 2014

Why Have Mobile App Developers Fallen In Love With Swift?

On September 9, the official Apple blog announced that Swift 1.0 had been given the ‘Golden Master’ (GM) status – which means developers can start using it to make apps. We here discuss some of the main reasons for the widespread popularity of the new language.

There are no two ways about it – the new programming language from Apple has been a roaring success. Swift was unveiled at this year’s World Wide Developers’ Conference (WWDC), and after several developer previews, have finally been given GM status. In other words, mobile apps developed with the Swift language can now be submitted at the Apple app store. Why has Swift received such an overwhelmingly positive response from coders and app developers from all over? Let’s try to decipher this success story:

 

  1. Easy learning curve – There have been plenty of languages that promised to be the ‘next big thing’, only to turn out to be eventual flops. The key reason for this is the reluctance of developers to invest time and effort on learning a new and presumably tough language. Swift offers no such complications. An e-tutorial on Swift programming techniques can be read in less than five hours. Without having to put any ongoing projects on hold, professionals can muster the new language in a couple of weeks.
  2. Compatibility with Objective C – Almost all iPhone app development companies use Objective C as the default language for coding apps. If Swift had been a ‘replacement’ for Objective C, adopting it would have required a big overhaul. However, Apple has clearly focused on user-friendliness while developing the Swift concept. The new language can be used along with Objective C, ensuring that app developers do not get stuck midway through their projects.
  3. More intuitive programming – The ‘Interactive Playground’ feature has been a major #winner for Swift. For relatively inexperienced mobile app development executives in particular, the option of watching the outputs of code lines on a real-time basis really comes in handy. Error-detection and debugging is possible on a continuous basis – which, at the end of the day, significantly lowers the time required for app testing.
  4. Shorter, cleaner syntax and better speed – The Swift programming language is around 35%-40% faster than Objective-C – a factor that has been confirmed by practically everyone in the international developers’ community. One of the key contributors to this speed advantage is the option to have multiple return values while creating a function in it. Once companies start using Swift on a regular basis, the overall app development cycle is likely to become much smaller.
  5. Closures and inferred typing – Among the new features that Swift comes with, these two are the most noteworthy. Via the ‘Closures’ feature, lines of code written in Swift can be used to collect specific data, in a loop. There is no need for app developers to define the variable type they are using every time – inferred typing takes care of that. Memory management also becomes a whole lot easier – thanks to the ‘automatic garbage collection’ (powered by Automatic Reference Counting) property of Swift.
  6. The best of functional programming – For coders who prefer to work with Ruby or any other similar language, Swift is a perfect new option. Contrary what was initially thought, Swift supports low-level programming as well – which have delighted newbies in this field. The security parameters and code maintenance features of the new language are at par with the best too. Not surprisingly, Swift has kicked up quite a storm in the social networking sites!
  7. Helps in keeping iOS development ‘different – The language is a classic example of how Apple prefers to do things in ‘its own way’. Swift is a proprietary coding language for iOS and Mac OS – which rules out chances of the language being used to develop software for other platforms/vendors (e.g., Android apps). This aura of uniqueness – always a signature style of Apple – has definitely bolstered Swift’s popularity.
  8. Positive word-of-mouth publicity – When it comes to any tech-related issue, every meaningful nudge becomes a shove. When Nate Murray created a rendition of the insanely addictive Flappy Bird gaming app using Swift, he tweeted about it – and within the next day, the entire pool of developers on GitHub and other online communities were buzzing about the language. With every new developers’ preview version, Swift has garnered increasingly favorable reviews. The grand announcement at WWDC obviously got the tech geeks interested – but it has been the great reviews that are making new developers join the Swift bandwagon every day.
  9. Barriers to becoming a coder have been lowered – With due respect to all their merits, languages like Objective C, C# or Java are not particularly easy to learn for first-timers (read: students). Swift is an ‘interpreted language’, which automatically gives it a speed edge over traditional ‘compiled languages’. New programmers can download online tutorials, and start writing small codes for iOS/Mac in next to no time. The influx of new developers that Swift has facilitated does not, in any way, threaten the existing developers either. The language has separate UI options for a novice and a person who is already into creating advanced iPhone apps.
  10. Wider horizons with iOS 8 – These are exciting times for any Apple developer. The new mobile OS platform, iOS 8 (also announced at WWDC 2014) has several new features – like Handoff, Airdrop and several additional widgets. With Swift, coders can now expand the range of apps that they can develop – for the latest iOS devices. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are already out, and there is a big demand for programmers who can make iOS-8-customized apps at present.
  11. Background task handling – This is yet another point where Swift scores over Objective-C. Smartphone app development experts no longer have to worry about managing the tasks that are running in the background, eating up workable disk space (with compiled languages, this has to be done manually). With Swift, all that is required is coding proficiency – the system takes care of the rest.
  12. Swift offers something new – Objective C is, without a doubt, a fantastic language for iOS app developers – but it is also a rather ‘old’ one. In fact, over 30 years have gone by, since the language was first developed (and adopted by NeXT) – and Swift comes with a fresh lease of air. No one would have liked it if all existing Objective C programs had to be converted to the Swift platform, but there is no such necessity. If the reports from app developer communities are anything to go by, Apple is not going to withdraw the Objective C support for Swift anytime soon. With 4000 new APIs on iOS, a new language was definitely something everyone was looking for.

Although developers have taken to Swift 1.0 in a big way, it is not likely to overtake the popularity of Objective C anytime soon. That’s precisely why users are being given the opportunity to work with the two languages simultaneously. The debate will rage on as to whether Apple should have made Swift available on other platforms too – but for the time being, app developers are more than happy to try their hands out with Swift on Xcode 6. It’s faster, neater, more professional, and encourages smarter programming – what’s not to love about it?

iPhone 6 – Yays & Nays

The sales of iPhone 6 are off to a blistering start, with a huge number of preorders on the first day (12 September), and a record-smashing opening weekend. Reviews from tech forums, magazines and mobile communities have mostly been excellent too. Let us here check out some of the main hits and misses of Apple’s ambitious new flagship device.

As had been widely expected, there has been no shortage of takers for the recently launched iPhone 6. In fact, the combined first weekend sales figure of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus reached a humungous 10 million, a new record (the previous record was held by iPhone 5C and 5S). The mostly favorable reviews of the 4.7” handset have definitely helped in buoying the pre-order figures. However, Apple has not got everything spot-on in its new, ambitious flagship device. Here are the high and low points about iPhone 6 that stick out:

 

iPhone 6 Yays

  1. Larger screen size and brilliant display – Android fans will keep reminding how Apple had once branded large-screen smartphones as ‘useless’. The good thing is, Tim Cook and his colleagues have realized the demand trends of customers, and have come up with a device whose display screen is a good 7 inches larger (4.7” vs 4” of iPhone 5S). The pixel density is a stunning 336 ppi. It supports a maximum resolution level of 1334×750 pixels – ensuring razor-sharp, crystal clear displays.
  2. Improved iSight camera – It’s still 8MP, but the experts at Apple have given the other features of the iPhone camera a major overhaul. The high-definition slow-motion video-recording feature is probably the most remarkable, while the new optical image stabilization functionality is also a great addition. The smartly created camera aperture and sensor also contribute in making iPhone 6 a great photo-snapping device.
  3. Predictive keyboard – Much like Siri, the default keyboard of iPhone 6 has the ‘learn as it works’ capability. In other words, the predictive keyboard can come up with instantaneous word/spelling suggestions – making typing a quicker and much easier task. iPhone app developers and general users alike have also been delighted with the option of installing third-party keyboards as well. iOS 8 (the new mobile OS which powers iPhone 6) cannot be jailbroken yet – but the phone is a lot more customizable than its predecessors.
  4. Enhanced physical durability – If there’s one thing you are going to find next to impossible – it would be breaking the screen of iPhone 6. The engineers at Apple have, astutely, gone with high-end ion-strengthened glass for the new flagship handset (early rumors had indicated at sapphire glass). In a ‘drop experiment’, an iPhone 6 was dropped from a height of four feet, six times in a row. Nothing happened to it (okay, there were a few scratches, but that’s all!).
  5. Better battery life – Reports are coming in that the early buyers are being able to use iPhone 6 for over 30 hours without having to reach for the charger – and that’s splendid news. On 3G voice and web browsing features, the battery backup of the new phone is significantly higher than that of iPhone 5S. Even on general wi-fi browsing, users will get a bit more battery juice than what they used to do. The 5.5” iPhone 6 Plus is even more efficient. Battery consumption stats can be checked as well.
  6. Horizontal screens are, finally, in – Once again, Android fans would scoff at this at ‘old news’ – but Apple is, at least, trying to move with the times. No longer do the users have to remain stuck with the default vertical home screens. The latter can now be viewed horizontally as well. What’s more – with the help of the breakthrough ‘Double Tape’ feature, users will be able to reach the more remote portions (read: the top part) of their iPhone screens with greater ease. It would be a lot easier for personalized usage of iPhone applications and other third-party software.
  7. New A8 processor – With the A8 processor, iPhone 6 has been hyped to be more than three times faster than iPhone 5S. Although the jury is still out on whether the new device is indeed that much faster – the technique of using the power of two billion transistors on the processor chip have been really singled out for praise by tech critics. The new M8 motion coprocessor adds to the ‘smartness’ of iPhone 6.

 

iPhone 6 Nays

While Apple has mostly delivered as per customers’ expectations with iPhone 6, the latter is not without its fair share of flaws (or shall we say ‘shortcomings’?). Here’s what’s disappointing about the new iOS flagship device:

  1. Clearly visible antennae lines – For a handset as advanced as the new iPhone, it’s a shame that the antennae lines should be kept visible. On the backside of the device, there are 2 grayish-lines – running across the handset. The lines do not hamper the phone’s functionality in any way, but they do lend a slightly unpolished, unprofessional look to it. The designers of Apple could definitely have done a better job with this.
  2. The pocket pinch – No one in the world expects Apple to make a ‘cheap’ smartphone. Even so, the 2-year contract price of $199 (for the 16-GB iPhone 6) is surely a bit on the exorbitant side. Those who regularly download new iPhone apps, software and mobile games on their devices can opt for the 128 GB model, provided they can fork out $399 (with the contract) for it. It’s sad that Apple has done away with the 32 GB variant.
  3. Developers have to play the catch-up game – Once the drumrolls have ceased and the applause have died down, the risks of being an ‘early iPhone 6 adapter’ becomes clearer. It is powered by the new iOS 8 platform, and mobile app developers from leading companies have admitted that most existing apps are not yet customized for the platform. This, in turn, means, that it is not yet possible to get the ‘full iPhone experience’ with iPhone 6. Since Mac OS X Yosemite is not yet out either, the much-talked-about Mac-syncing options are still unavailable as well. You’ll have to wait for Continuity and Handoff.
  4. iPhone 6 is far from being ‘innovative’ – The social media has been flooded since the September 9 launch of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, about how Apple was trying to sell ‘yesterday’s device at tomorrow’s prices’. One particular comparison was between the new iPhone and Google Nexus 4 (released in 2012) – and the latter was more or less at par on most counts. Under Steve Jobs, Apple had become renowned for being pioneers in innovation. The specs of iPhone 6 prove that it is now trying to keep pace with the latest Android devices.
  5. No option to downgrade from iOS 8 – If you thought you would buy iPhone 6, downgrade to iOS 7 and customize the device – well, prepare yourself for being disappointed. Till now, no software has been found, that can be used to downgrade the new version of the iOS to its predecessor. Once you have bought the iPhone 6, you are stuck with iOS 8 – which is…let’s be frank…not quite a finished product.
  6. Speed of the A8 processor has not really impressed, yet – Apple can’t stop praising about how efficient its new A8 processor is – but professional testers, software developers and experts from mobile app agencies are yet to be convinced. In a recent graphic interface speed test conducted by Rightware, iPhone 6 was found to be only slightly faster than iPhone 5S – a far-cry from the ‘three-times faster’ claim. Rather surprisingly, it was found that Nokia Lumia 1520 offers the best GUI performance. iPhone 6 ranked at a lowly 17th.
  7. No NFC for third-party app companies – For iOS app developers, this has come as a big blow. While iPhone 6 has finally brought the much-vaunted near-field communication (NFC) feature, it will be functional only with Apple Pay – at least for the next few months. Reports from Cult of Mac suggest that this lockdown (a similar lock has been placed on TouchID too) is for security issues. For the time-being, there is no chance to create an iPhone app that has NFC-compatible functions.

As you have probably already noted, almost all the ‘Nays’ against iPhone 6 are likely to be temporary – and once OS X Yosemite launches and the initial bugs in iOS 8 are ironed out, these problems would disappear. The price is an issue though, and it cannot be denied that Apple is currently trying to stay in touch with the new Android handsets. There have been certain criticisms of iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch (which can only be used by iPhone 6 owners) as well. There is no scope for doubting the quality of the new Apple flagship device – but only time will tell whether it becomes as big a success as Tim Cook is hoping it would be!

 

Galaxy Note 4 vs iPhone 6 Plus – Which One Aces The Phablet War?

Ladies and gentlemen, the Apple vs Samsung war is back – this time in the phablet market. The recently released iPhone 6 Plus (preorders open) will be shipped from September 19th. Samsung is set to launch its new flagship device, the Galaxy Note 4, in early or mid-October. We will here try to find out which of the two has better chances of coming out on top.

Pre-ordering for iPhone 6 Plus (along with the iPhone 6) started on the 12th of September , after the device was unveiled at a Cupertino event three days earlier. Although there is considerable craze about the first Apple phablet, it’s likely to face stiff competition from Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – which is scheduled to release next month. Let us here do a comparative study and try to predict whether the iPhone 6 Plus or the Galaxy Note 4 is more likely to emerge as the winner:

 

  1. Display features – For a company that is venturing into the phablet market for the first time, Apple has done a mighty impressive job with the IPS display screen of iPhone 6 Plus. The screen resolution is a terrific 1920×1080 pixels – but still, it is not the final word when it comes to high-quality display clarity. Samsung would win this round with relative ease, since the Galaxy Note 4 will support a maximum resolution level of 2560×1440 pixels, with the PPI (pixel density) being a whopping 515.
  2. Screen size – When the first-generation Galaxy Note series phablets came out, they drew quite a bit of flak (not surprisingly, mostly from Apple fans), since they were deemed to be too large. The scenario has undergone a sea-change since then, and mobile software and app development professionals are going ga-ga over the 5.7” screen that the Note 4 would have. iPhone 6 Plus, with a 5.5” screen, is hot on its heels though. While there is not much to pick between the two on this count – Samsung has at least proved that big-screen handheld devices are not ‘useless’.
  3. Design innovations – Apple aces it on the looks front, with the curved aluminum body lending a sleek and trendy look to iPhone 6 Plus. The streamlined body should make it feel easier in hand as well. Samsung has also finally ditched the “cheap” plastic edges, and opted for more sophisticated metal edges for the Galaxy Note 4. Even so, its appearance does not seem quite as elegant as that of Apple’s offering.
  4. Processor performance – iPhone 6 Plus comes with the breakthrough 64-bit A8 processor – which is supposed to be around four times faster than its predecessor, A7. The M8 motion processor is yet another great addition. In terms of processor performance, early indications are that it would trump Note 4 – which would be powered by the 2.7 GHz Quadcore  (Snapdragon 805) chipset. Reports from Samsung officials have emphasized on the enhanced support for mobile apps that the Note 4 processor would provide.
  5. Physical specs & dimensions – Another extremely close fight, in which Apple’s phablet should stay just a shade ahead of Samsung’s new flagship device. At 8.5 mm, the Galaxy Note 4 is slim enough – but it pales in comparison with the super-sleek 7.1 mm iPhone Plus. In terms of weight, its pretty much even-stevens, with the Samsung device weighing a measly 4g more (176g vs 172g). The dimensions – 6.04”x3.09”x0.32” of Galaxy Note 4 vs 6.22”x3.06”x0.28” of iPhone 6 Plus – are pretty much similar as well. Those who prefer carrying a slightly smaller phone might just lean in favor of the latter though.
  6. Stylus feature – Well, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has it, and Apple iPhone 6 Plus hasn’t – it’s as simple as that. For taking notes, the revamped S-Pen on the Samsung phablet is expected to be really useful. Apps like Screen Write and Action Memo enhance the note-taking functionality further. iOS app developers, however, have pointed out that external Stylus accessories can be used on the iPhone 6 Plus (for instance, a third-party touchpen). The multi-touch features of the Apple product might be innovative in their own right – but Android users have already moved on to a smarter, better mobile note-taking system.
  7. Built-in camera – At first, this might seem a no-contest. The Note 4 comes with a 16 MP camera with 4K support, while iPhone 6 Plus has the ‘same old’ 8 MP camera (both have Optical Image Stabilization features). On the usability front though, the sheer quality of the iSight camera of iPhone 6 Plus would win some additional brownie points. The front camera of the Samsung gadget is of 3.7 MP, while that of the Apple phablet is 1.2 MP (Face Time). The 30FPS video-recording option on Note 4 pales into insignificance in comparison with the 60 FPS normal video and 240 FPS high-definition slo-mo video recording that the iPhone 6 Plus supports.
  8. Device storage capacity – Mobile analysts and app developers worldwide have been slightly surprised at Apple’s decision to not have a 32 GB internal storage version of iPhone 6 Plus. The model at the lowest end of the spectrum has 16 GB of storage space (not enough for people to download plenty of apps and other stuff on their devices). There is, of course, 64 GB and 128 GB variants available – but the average buyer might find them prohibitively expensive. Samsung does a more user-friendly job, by providing 32 GB of internal storage in Note 4, which is expandable to 128 GB via external microSD card.
  9. Security – Both Samsung and Apple have upped their game, as far as device security is concerned. The iOS 8 platform, which makes it debut on iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, is by far Apple’s most secure mobile platform. The signature TouchID has been improved upon, and m-commerce transactions have been facilitated through Apple Pay. On the other hand, the Private Mode on the Note 4 (accessible via the built-in fingerprint scanner) is a standout. Samsung has also integrated its in-house security suite, Knox, in the Galaxy Note 4. There are no obvious security flaws in either device – that much is for sure!
  10. Mobile OS – At least among mobile app developers, there is more excitement about the iPhone 6 phone and phablet – and the all-new features of the iOS 8 platform has a lot to do with it. Samsung has, on its part, gone with Android 4.4 Kitkat for its phablet – which, although excellent in terms of tech specifications, is yet to have a high adoption rate (Jellybean is still the first choice of most Android users). Galaxy Note 4 will provide high-speed, efficient phablet services – but it lacks the ‘newness’ of iPhone 6 Plus.
  11. Battery backup – It has been announced that the new Samsung device would have 3200 mAh battery. However, there has not yet been any official statement regarding the number of hours of talk time it would provide (without the need to recharge). The engineers at Apple headquarters have gone into overdrive to improve the battery life of iPhones – and the result is now here for all to see. The iPhone 5S had a battery life of a tad more than 10 hours, while iPhone 6 Plus promises a backup period of 24 hours. Samsung will have a tough time beating that!
  12. Connectivity – It’s a stalemate in this round. Apple has finally embraced the Near Field Communication (NFC) feature for the iPhone 6 handsets, and this functionality was already present in high-end Samsung devices. Both Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus support Bluetooth 4 connection options. In terms of internet browsing too, both of them offer excellent speed and reliability in the LTE environment, along with the regular 3G and 4G ecosystems. If you really wish to nitpick, well, Samsung’s offering is compatible with Bluetooth 4.1, while Apple’s is limited to Bluetooth 4.0. Hardly a difference!
  13. Choice of color – The Galaxy Note 4, like its predecessors, focuses more on sporting a lively, colorful appearance – while premium iPhones have always looked dapper and sophisticated. Apart from the white and black options, Note 4 will be available in blue and gold. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, has light and dark grey models, along with the extremely attractive gold-colored model. For those who go by numbers alone, Samsung is offering at least one extra color option than Apple.
  14. Pocket pinch – And finally, we arrive at the issue every buyer is (or at least, should be!) most concerned about. With a 2-year contract, Apple will be shipping iPhone 6 Plus at $299, $399 and $499 (on the 16 GB, 64 GB and 128 GB models respectively). The Galaxy Note 4 should be priced somewhere between $275 and $325 (i.e., it won’t be much pricier than the Note 3). Shipments for iPhone 6 Plus starts the day after tomorrow, while Note 4 will release on either October 4 or 10.

 

You have to hand it to Tim Cook and his team at Apple for doing a fabulous job with iPhone 6 Plus. The first mover’s advantage that it has over Samsung Galaxy Note 4 should prove significant, at least in the initial phases. The general consensus among mobile market researchers and app development experts, however, is that, while iPhone 6 Plus is impressive, it does not offer much in the way of novelty, for existing Android users. As such, staying ahead of the Galaxy Note 4 over the long-run might prove to be difficult.

 

What To Know If You Are A First-Time Mobile App Developer?

All set to create a mobile app for the first time? There would be a few things that you are not quite sure about, even if app development is what you wish to make a living from. In what follows, we will address some such beginners’ queries.

If there is one sector in the tech domain that is really flourishing worldwide, it has to be the mobile apps market. According to forecasts by industry experts, the mobile app industry will touch $60 billion in revenue, by the end of 2018. Not surprisingly, many young, tech-savvy, enthusiastic people are taking up app development as their career of choice. We here highlight a few issues that a first-time mobile app developer should not be confused about:

 

  1. Android, iOS, or Blackberry first? – The Research-In-Motion powered Blackberry platform is struggling, so there won’t be much point in developing apps exclusively for it – at least for the time-being. Otherwise, it’s a toss-up between whether you should start off with iOS or Android apps first (provided that you are not interested in cross-platform mobile app development). In terms of device share, Android is way ahead of Apple. But, with the recent launch of iOS 8 and the well-received previews of Swift programming language, plenty of developers have started to lean towards iPhone applications too.
  2. What should the price of the app be? – Unless if you are the owner of a mobile app company, this is not something you need to worry about. However, if you are – consider pricing your apps at the average premium level, $1.99 (particularly for iOS apps). With decent downloads, this price will help you retain a healthy margin, even after Apple takes away its 30% cut. It would be a good idea to start off with a few free apps though. In any case, at iTunes and Google Play Store, the ratio between free to paid apps is heavily skewed in the former’s favor.
  3. How should you showcase your coding expertise? – A customized mobile application is not about you – its about whether potential customers would find it easy and beneficial (more on the second point later). Irrespective of the language you use, focus on keeping the overall source code simple. In case any problem comes up, you should be able to debug it easily. What’s more – clients of most mobile app companies in Australia ask for source codes. You need to be able to explain the codes, without confusing them. Make good use (without plagiarizing!) of the open-source libraries.
  4. Will your app stack up to the competition? – A few exceptions aside, the concepts and ideas you think up for your first app have already been used by other app developers. Do a thorough research of the applications at the stores that belong to the same genre. Download some of them, install them on your mobile device(s), check out their features, and think how you can make an improvement on them. Give your targeted clients enough reasons to try out your application.
  5. How will users remain engaged? – This is where the importance of push-notifications come into the picture. Researches have shown that such notifications are often the most common channel via which people interact with the apps on their phone. If you are developing a mobile game or an app for kids, use sounds, animations and interactive graphics as points of interaction. DO NOT request people to fill up lengthy forms on an app – the response rate won’t be high at all.
  6. How much will my first app cost? – Budget considerations should always be at the fore, when you create an iPhone or Android app for the first time. The total costs for developing an app can range from $1000 to $10000 (or even more), depending on the precise type of the application. During the app development process, carefully monitor and iron out all unnecessary expenses. When you give out free app quotes to your clients, mention the overall cost figure as accurately as possible. There is no rule as such regarding the cost of your first app – what matters is the budgetary specifications of your client, and…well…its prospects of success!
  7. How does your app benefit people? – And we are back to the issue of usability – the factor which can make or break a new app’s fortunes. The app you make should provide one clearly focused benefit to target customers (for instance, a mobile finance manager). In case you have decided to start off with a mobile app for kids, include some educational features in it (otherwise, most parents won’t approve). Avoid trying to punch in too many ‘advantages’ in the initial version of an app. Instead, increase its functionality in future upgrades/versions.
  8. If you hit a roadblock, who will help you? – Unless you are working freelance, there will always be colleagues at your Android or iPhone app company who will willingly help you out. You should also become a member of top-rated app development communities and forums online. If you face a problem while coding, post your queries there, with the relevant code-snippet and a reference to the app you are working on. With time, you will find that your reliance on help from others is going down.
  9. Should you develop an app for a niche audience? – Absolutely. there’s nothing wrong if your first app is targeted towards a limited number of viewers (say, the students of a particular university). Provided that you complete the project well and the app-reviews are good, you can show it off in your portfolio – and move on to apps that have a mass appeal. There are mobile app developers who believe that developing applications for niche audiences tends to alienate a company from general app-enthusiasts – but that is only a myth.
  10. Is it necessary to learn how new storyboards should be used? – A typical first-timer’s question. Right from rapid prototyping, to managing animations and high-end visualizations – checking storyboards is integral during almost every phase of iOS app development. No matter how ‘busy’ you might be, take out time to learn the latest storyboards (you will find Xcode 6 tutorials for iOS 8 online). Learning to use storyboards increases your proficiency as an iPhone app developer by several notches.
  11. How important is it to make a ‘good-looking’ app? – Cannot be overemphasized. An interesting app icon, vibrant, quick-loading splash screen, and smooth, user-friendly interface (UI) can really enhance the attractions of a mobile app. If you are a developer, do not take the shortcut of trying to design an app yourself (designers can become coders, it never works the other way round!). Instead, get a team of expert, experienced graphic designers in your team. They will help in making an app that truly stands out.
  12. How should I promote my new app? – Contrary to popular belief, mobile app marketing methods need not be anything different from how any high-end software is marketed. Publish online press releases, highlighting the key features of your soon-to-release app. Post pictures of the app screens and prototypes, to build up the curiosity level among prospective buyers. Do not make the folly of over-hyping your app though. If you send out untrue information about your app, bad word-of-mouth publicity would follow – and that can permanently tarnish the reputation of your mobile app agency.
  13. What should I write in the app description in iTunes/Play Store? – Probably the one thing about making and publicizing apps that does not require much of an innovation. Find out how the most successful apps in Apple iTunes and Google Play Store have been showcased – and follow the same framework. Generally, there should be a brief description, followed by a list of the main functions/points-of-difference of your app. Do not forget to include high-quality, properly cropped screenshots of your app as well.
  14. Should you invest some extra time for mobile app testing? – Let’s put it this way – if you don’t, there would be every chance that your application will be rejected at iTunes. A buggy Android app (which might get listed at the Play Store, for the approval guidelines are not as stringent on this platform) will also lead to adverse feedback, and ultimately, a sharp fall in downloads. Test your app on the devices of a focus group as well as over the air (i.e., the cloud network). Coding errors can happen – you only need to make sure that they are flushed out before the app is submitted.

Find out the best ways in which you can track the performance of your app (you do not want people to install and use your app just once, right?). First-time developers tend to be confused regarding what an app should do while running in the background. Take advice from your seniors and/or web forums in this regard. The payments you receive for your app will be according to the pre-specified store (Apple Store or Google Play Store) regulations. It’s great if your very first app gets featured at the stores – but there is no reason to feel down if it doesn’t. Keep following the best practices, and professional success will arrive over time. After all, earning recognition in any field requires patience!

 

How Many Of These Android Myths Do You Believe In?

In spite of the overwhelming popularity of Google Android all over, there is a surprising number of misconceptions and myths about the mobile platform. Let us take a look at the truths behind some of the most frequently-heard Android myths.

Studies from the International Data Corporation have predicted that, by the end of 2014, Google Android will close in on 80% of the worldwide smartphone market share. Big things are being expected of Apple’s iPhone 6 (rumored to release next week) – but it’s highly unlikely that it would make any significant dent in Android’s popularity. Particularly among those looking for budget smartphones, Android will remain the first choice in the foreseeable future. With the widespread usage of the Android platform, one problem has emerged though – many baseless myths about the mobile OS have started doing the rounds. In the following piece, we will bust some of these common Android myths:

 

  1. The malware risks associated with Android are too much – No one took Google’s Eric Schmidt seriously when he suggested that Android is more malware-proof than Apple iOS. While we too feel that such a categorical statement is a bit of a stretch – there is no earthly reason to worry too much about virus attacks on Android. All that you need to do is select apps created by a relatively well-known mobile app development company, and provide the requisite permissions (you can check out a preview too), before installing them. To stay safe, and prove this myth wrong, having a reliable security application on your phone would be advisable too.
  2. Rooting an Android phone can lead to legal hassles – There is some cloud over whether performing an iOS jailbreak is illegal or not (although it is relatively commonly done, and no one has ever been punished for that yet). There should not be any similar confusion regarding Android device rooting though. In fact, many mobile software maintenance experts feel that rooting an Android smartphone after every few months is a good idea.
  3. GPS needs to be turned off to save battery – In any standard Android phone, the GPS features get automatically activated only when location-based applications (e.g., maps) are being used. In other words, GPS remains off whenever it’s not required – and hence, does not cause any extra battery drain in your Android handset. Of course, if you use GPS radio services (or similar stuff) for extended durations, the rate of battery depletion will go up.
  4. Only tech geeks can understand Android – Ex-CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, once famously said that people need a computer to operate Android phones or tablets. The truth is nothing like what he had tried to indicate. The Android user-interface is extremely simple, well-organized and user-friendly – and the flat ‘material design’ of upcoming Android L should enhance the overall intuitive feel of the platform. Even if you are upgrading from a feature phone to an Android smartphone – you are not likely to find the latter complicated. Just play around with it for a bit!
  5. The Android OS is identical across devices – Well, it’s not. And that’s primarily because the platform is open-source, and manufacturers can add extra apps or do some tweaking with the codes. The OS of a Google Nexus phone, for instance, will differ from that on a Samsung Galaxy device (which, in any case, would be ditching Android for Tizen in its latest flagship handset). Software engineers at Amazon have done their share of modifications to the ‘pure’ Android system, before using it on the Kindle. The version might be the same – but there are companywise differences in the Android OS powering each device.
  6. Having a task-killer app is an absolute must – If you believe this, you are either a new Android user (and the marketer has done a good job of convincing you!), or you have not yet bothered to think whether the task-killer is really of any help. Professional software and Android app developers point out that the task-killer app performs 2 basic functions (managing RAM space and closing apps that stay active in the background) – both of which can be done without it as well, more easily. It’s practically impossible to run out of RAM in a standard Android handset, while closing any app when it is not being used is hardly a tall ask. In fact, there have been reports that getting rid of the task-killer app can improve the battery life of your phone!
  7. You should calibrate the phone battery at least once every week – This supposedly boosts the battery performance of Android phones. Battery calibration, in reality, does not (and is not meant to) affect battery life of a handset in any way. It only helps users check the exact percentage of battery that has been consumed at any point in time. You can take such battery readings once every month or so – but if you don’t, there won’t be any problems either.
  8. There is no pattern to the naming pattern of Android versions – Just like Mac names its desktop OS versions after ‘big cats’, Android has always chosen lip-smacking desserts as its version names. Right from Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich, to Jelly Bean and Kitkat – every new version has been named following this pattern. The latest version (codenamed ‘Android L’) would be named either Lemon Meringue Pie or Lollipop. There’s a number-wise pattern as well, with the upcoming version being either Android 4.5 or 5.0. There’s nothing random about the names!
  9. It is easier to develop iOS apps than Android apps – This one is not entirely false – although it has got nothing to do with coding-related factors. There are not more than 2-3 screen sizes for iOS devices (including iPhones and iPads), which makes developing customized apps simpler for this platform. For Android though, the scenario is a lot different. There are zillions of Samsung (till now), HTC, Sony, Huawei, LG and other handsets – which are powered by Google’s mobile platform, making customization a bit more tricky and time-consuming. For a developer with enough relevant experience, making Android apps is certainly not ‘difficult’.
  10. Android applications invariably crash more – Again, a biased statement that is not backed by any solid data. On the one hand, there are reports that apps on iOS 6 devices do not crash as frequently as those on Android Jellybean phones – while a Crittercism report (published in Forbes) hinted that Android applications are, on average, less problematic than iPhone apps. The fact remains, most app crashes are caused by device defects and hardware problems – the platform has got very little to do with such screen freezes. If the manufacturer UI is robust enough, chances of app crashes will remain minimal.
  11. You should always go for Android phones with quad-core processors – Are you a big-time mobile gaming addict? If not, dual-core phones will be equally good as quad-core ones. According to experts from mobile app companies, only heavy gaming applications need that extra processor speed. For most average Android apps, the processor speed does not really make a difference.
  12. Android lacks customization options – Those who believe in this have probably mixed up the words ‘Android’ and ‘iOS’. On iPhones, it is not possible to install third-party apps, applications are sandboxed and third-party virtual keyboards are not supported either (all that is likely to change in iOS 8, in all likelihood). Top-notch UI personalization options are, on the other hand, one of the key features of the Android platform. Start using an Android phone and don’t go by hearsay – you’ll find out the truth.

Although there is no room for doubt about the edge Android has over iOS in terms of worldwide device share – even that warrants a closer look. After all, iOS is used only by one company (Apple Inc.), while there is a line of companies which use Android as the default OS in their mobile handsets. With so many users across the globe having Android smartphones, it’s high time the above myths about the platform disappeared!