7 Steps to Design an iPhone App User Interface (UI)

By John Houghton on January 4, 2014

Using iPhone while typing.

So your company is involved in an iPhone application development project and you need to have an iPhone app user interface  (UI) designed by next week.  Rest assured, you can complete the assignment in time if you focus.  This kind of last minute assignment happens at many companies, especially here in the San Francisco Bay Area where mobile development is so popular.  Assuming you have your branding and the rest of your creative aspects in order, if you’re new to designing mobile apps, here’s what I would recommend:

1. Read the Apple iOS Human Interface Guidelines.  I would give you the link, but due to Apple’s non-disclosure agreements with developers, you have to have a developer […]

How to Build a Mobile App Development Team

By John Houghton on January 3, 2014

Picture of cranes building apps.

When many people say they want to develop a mobile app, they look for a development team (coders), but they really should be looking to build a well-rounded team with different development disciplines. Only when the team is properly staffed with the right skill sets does the app have a chance at success.  

One of the main roles that people neglect are functional roles, i.e. the product managers.  A product manager on a mobile project is similar to a brand manager on a consumer product.  They are in charge of the strategy for that particular product and they should have a lot of experience in the software industry.

Whether hiring for an internal or external project, […]

How Much Does it Cost to Move an iOS App to Android?

By John Houghton on December 9, 2013

Picture of a woman using a smartphone.

Suppose you have an iOS app (iPhone/iPad/iPod) that you’ve developed.  It’s already out on the market, and now you want to do the same thing on Android, essentially move it over.  How much cost or effort will it take?

Basically, it’s about the same coding effort as it was to develop the original iOS app.  You see, iOS apps are written in Objective-C, but Android apps are written in Java.  The languages are totally different and use different libraries.  The things you can leverage are the look and feel of the user interface, and since you’ve been through the development process once, chances are, the Android rewrite will be quicker.

Why hasn’t anyone figured out how to […]

Gamification and Why Your Mobile App Needs It

By John Houghton on November 20, 2013

Man playing a game on mobile device.

You don’t have to look far to see how gamification has accelerated online websites and apps.  Take the Facebook “Like” for example.  This game mechanic has driven the success of the Facebook platform.  If you already have or are thinking about building an iPhone or Android app, you should give some thought to what’s going to keep your users coming back.  Applying principles of gamification can be just the thing to make your app successful. Watch the video now:

Watch MP4 (iPhone/iPad) 

In this first episode of Mobile App Development TV, we talk to Danny Maco, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who frequently serves as an advisor to startup companies here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and […]

Should You Force Users to Login to Your App?

By John Houghton on October 1, 2013

Entering password on smartphone.

This question goes back before apps and even before internet software.  Now the question is raised in the context of apps.  Should you let users browse and take advantage of app features before requiring them to sign in, or force them to create a profile and login first?

On the one hand, giving users an early taste of your app and what it can do can be a great enticement, helping them to develop a connection so that they return.  On the other hand, if you make them login, there is a treasure trove of data that can be collected, which is hard for some app developers to resist.

What should you do?  Having developed software all […]

The Importance of Mobile Usability

By John Houghton on July 18, 2013

App store popping out of tablet.

More than anything you should consider mobile usability when designing an app.  There is nothing worse for an app than having a user try to figure it out, get frustrated, and then leave a low rating or bad review.  It only takes a few of those to ruin your rating and banish your app to the bottom of the heap.

While mobile usability may seem simple and intuitive, it takes a lot of expertise.  It’s similar to the example of the Olympic athlete and how effortless they make their feats appear.  Good apps make it look easy, but it took a lot of work to get there.  Apple says:

“In our experience, users really respond […]

The Key to Developing Successful Mobile Apps

By John Houghton on July 15, 2013

Galaxy smartphone in hand.

Every day dozens of new hopefuls decide to develop their app ideas.  I’m not surprised that so many fail due to lack of experience.  One of the biggest mistakes they make is that they believe that a developer (or team of developers) is all that is needed to build their apps from start to finish.  While developers are essential, there are other roles necessary to make the project successful.  One of the key roles necessary for app development is that of a Product Manager.  This important role is most commonly missing on the mobile development team, causing apps to fail in the marketplace.

Have you ever downloaded a new app, only to be dumbfounded about how […]

Discover App Development for Location-Based Services

By John Houghton on February 20, 2013

Location based services shown on a phone.

Location-based services allow apps to use device location information to open up new avenues of information, interaction, and revenue generation for app developers and brands.  Users’ phones can use cellular, Wi-Fi, or GPS to find location.  For example, a user might be looking for nearby restaurants after watching a movie, or she might need to find the closest tire center if she gets a flat.  When you dial 911 on your cell phone, emergency services can automatically determine your location.

For custom app developers, it’s easy to integrate with a service like the Google Maps API* to:

– Show users what’s nearby (restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations).
– Provide directions to nearby attractions or services.
– Mash up location data […]

How Apple Needs to Change TV

By John Houghton on January 8, 2013

Apple TV in front of an LCD TV

There is much talk this week at CES about Apple and it’s mysterious plans for TV.  I have some insight here as my company has been specializing in mobile video for 7 years, and more recently, mobile apps.  If you’ve shopped for a TV recently, you’ll see that many/most of them are now “smart” TVs, meaning they are platforms for mobile apps.

Here’s the problem with adoption.  The traditional way people watch TV is by picking up the remote and surfing channels.  After flipping through, they find something they like and set a date with the TV or record it using DVR.  Most cable companies offer this service and it’s considered “old school.”

The new way Apple […]

Three Essential Skills for Mobile App Development

By John Houghton on January 7, 2013

Graphic showing cycle of designing, coding, and testing.

Updated on 8/19/14.  When people think of mobile app development, they think of coding, but often don’t think (or know) about the other necessary skills involved in creating a successful app.  When it comes to app development, the three skills that can make or break your project are designing, coding, and testing (source: Apple, Developing for the App Store, 7/17/12).  These are also the three phases of a mobile development project.  The amount of time you spend in each phase depends on how much functionality you want to implement per release.  The process is iterative, so, as you polish and refine the app, it’s possible to cycle through these phases many times.  In the graphic […]

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