Speckyboy Design Magazine » Mobile http://speckyboy.com Web Design News, Resources & Inspiration Thu, 24 Apr 2014 10:54:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Smartphone Revolution Infographichttp://speckyboy.com/2014/04/01/smartphone-revolution-infographic/ http://speckyboy.com/2014/04/01/smartphone-revolution-infographic/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 14:45:27 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=47792

The following infographic provides startling statistics on just how many consumers are using smartphones today, and–more importantly–the way they use them. It will give you more information on how consumers are using apps, scanners and...


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The following infographic provides startling statistics on just how many consumers are using smartphones today, and–more importantly–the way they use them. It will give you more information on how consumers are using apps, scanners and their phones in general. Knowing that as of two years ago, iPhones sales outnumbered actual human births will convince even the staunchest opponent of smartphone technology that the future is now.

Has your business joined this smartphone revolution and started mobile marketing? If you haven’t, now is definitely the time to start.

The Smartphone Revolution

The Smartphone Revolution infographic

This infographic has been provided by 1800numbernow.com.


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Well Designed Enterprise Mobile Appshttp://speckyboy.com/2014/02/24/enterprise-mobile-apps/ http://speckyboy.com/2014/02/24/enterprise-mobile-apps/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 08:36:36 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=47071

The consumerization of enterprise applications is a strong trend on the hi-tech market. After years of pushing hardly usable apps on innocent corporate employees, the tech world finally realised that the users of enterprise products are...


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The following article is a chapter of a free ebook by UXPin – Mobile Design Trends 2014.

The consumerization of enterprise applications is a strong trend on the hi-tech market. After years of pushing hardly usable apps on innocent corporate employees, the tech world finally realised that the users of enterprise products are… human beings. And, like every human being, they enjoy well designed products (well to be honest, I guess enjoyment wasn’t as decisive a factor here as the opportunity to save some money, but anyway…).

In 2013 the consumerization of enterprises trend reached mobile apps. Since the industry agreed that corporate workers are people… it just couldn’t miss the fact that human beings love their smartphones and tablets. What is even more important, smartphones and tablets can make people very productive.

This thesis led to the creation of dozens of enterprise mobile apps. We’ve chosen 10 well designed apps to illustrate the basis for our prediction for 2014 – enterprise mobile apps will go wild.

Enjoy!!

Box (iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry)

Box screenshot enterprise mobile apps

Yammer (iOS, Android, Windows)

Yammer screenshot enterprise mobile apps

Intercom (iOS)

Intercom screenshot enterprise mobile apps

Desk (iOS, Android)

Desk screenshot enterprise mobile apps

Weave by Intuit (iOS)

Weave by Intuit screenshot enterprise mobile apps

Quickbooks (iOS, Android)

Quickbooks screenshot enterprise mobile apps

Base (iOS, Android, Windows)

Base screenshot enterprise mobile apps

Hubspot (iOS, Android)

Hubspot screenshot enterprise mobile apps

Podio (iOS, Android)

Podio screenshot enterprise mobile apps

GoToMeeting (iOS, Android)

GoToMeeting screenshot enterprise mobile apps

Grab the ebook here:


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Reimagining an iOS App for Androidhttp://speckyboy.com/2014/02/12/reimagining-ios-app-android/ http://speckyboy.com/2014/02/12/reimagining-ios-app-android/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 08:44:12 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=46821

It’s one thing to make a great iOS app, but oftentimes the next step is to reproduce the experience for Android. It’s no easy task. After gathering experience in that process at Two Toasters, I’ve...


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It’s one thing to make a great iOS app, but oftentimes the next step is to reproduce the experience for Android. It’s no easy task.

After gathering experience in that process at Two Toasters, I’ve put together some fundamental principles on reimagining an iOS app for Android.

1. Treat your Android app as a new product.

Despite the temptation to port over UI elements from iOS, it’s important to start from the ground up. Both platforms look, feel, and perform separately from each other.

Step one is to determine how many Android users you could have. If your app has a web counterpart, this part’s easy. Simply segment out the unique Android visitors and there’s a number you can start working with. If not, it’s still worthwhile to try surveying Android-specific users on places like Reddit or Android forums to get an indication of interest in the problem you’re solving. Why go through this effort? The truth is, you could be saving yourself a ton of effort and headache if now is not the right time to think about Android. Just like with any other product, a “we will build it and they will come” mentality isn’t a healthy mindset.

Next, it’s important to define the primary goal of this app. Remember, treating your Android counterpart as a mere copy of your iOS app won’t go well with your potential users. Perhaps your Android app will function differently than the other? Are you seeking to increase conversion? Maybe your goal is simply to grow your user base? It’s not necessarily a given that this goal be the same as your iOS app. The app needs a reason for existence according to your overall business strategy – so identify that reason before you get started.

Last, examine your iOS app and re-evaluate your feature set with your goal in mind. This part’s a bummer, I know. You’ve already spent so much time perfecting your iOS app. But here’s why it’s important: First, you probably have limited resources. The longer you wait to get your product out, the more you stand to lose market share with competitors. Equally important, your Android and iOS customers are different kinds of users. Sure, they’re both humans; but consider the two differing ecosystems. What your app offers may have redundancies on the Android platform as opposed to iOS. Identify how your app fits on the platform, then build accordingly.

2. Design your app to adapt

It’s no secret that device fragmentation on Android is a big challenge. But tackling adaptive layouts that uniquely target varying resolutions can be a Sisyphean struggle. Instead, design an aesthetic and layout that can expand and contract gracefully. Then see if you can optimize experiences around the more popular resolution blocks.

It can be a laborious process, but here are some tips to help:

  • Learn about Density Independent Pixels (dp) and Scale-Independent Pixels (sp). This is essential in understanding how your UI elements will be sized.
  • Rely on native elements where possible. They’re already designed to respond to differing resolutions and incredibly easy to restyle by just replacing the default theme assets.
  • Use responsive design strategies such as:
  1. defining layouts with margin insets instead of fixed-widths,
  2. using columns (particularly with grids) whose counts are based on screen-width,
  3. letting images/photography scale-to-fit your UI elements while maintaining their aspect ratio,
  4. having lists expand fluidly, but anticipating where elements fall, and
  5. setting max-widths to portrait and landscape views to keep lines of text from getting too long.
  • Tile background images or use 9patches to stretch them. Minimizing your assets will reduce the memory footprint of your application.
  • Cut assets for at least HDPI, XHDPI and XXHDPI. These are the higher density resolutions–for everything lower, Android will automatically scale assets down.
  • Optimize for a landscape experience. Tablets, phablets; these sort of devices are practically meant for landscape viewing. Think about what information can be pulled into another column, what elements can be consolidated, and if more information can be provided in a landscape orientation.

3. Take advantage of the Android platform’s differences.

Android is characteristically a less limited platform than iOS. So why not re-imagine the app to take advantage of these freedoms? Make it unique to Android users, not just available to them.

First, read the Android Design Guidelines. This will be an invaluable resource in helping internalize Android so you can build a good native experience.

Navigation can be a bit different on Android. Spend some time on the platform and gain a sense of its differing paradigms. An app that adheres to the analogous structure of iOS will surely feel different than the native structure of Android. Of course not all navigation structures should be similar, but figure out if there is one that makes more sense than that found in your iOS version. This is particularly relevant if you’ve decided on a feature set that isn’t a parity for your iOS app. (Hint: pay attention to Google’s own apps. The way they solved navigation problems probably didn’t have iOS navigation in mind.)

Build widgets. They’re an awesome tool to encourage customization, iOS doesn’t have them, they can expand the functionality of your app, and they give more real estate for you to reach your users. But make sure you do it right: Does it just let your user access media controls? Does it quickly throw them into a section on your app? Does it display information? (If so, make sure it stays fresh.) In all these cases, apply the same responsive strategies as before, but optimize for smaller areas. Especially since your user likely prefers that the widget be resizable.

Design your app icon with transparency. It doesn’t actually have to be a rounded square. The guidelines suggest following a follow a three dimensional, top front view. However, you can be creative about the shape, angle and aesthetic of the icon. Just remember that it has to scale down to very small sizes. An icon can be well designed, but if it’s too-reliant on miniscule details, it could end up not looking quite right in practical use.

See if other Android apps could do some of the work for you. Tying in with other apps means you don’t have to build every piece of functionality yourself and makes the Android experience more integrated for the user. For example, if you’re linking to web content, push it to chrome. (Building your own web views can be clunky.) If you need the user to capture audio, photos or videos, link to them to a media recording app that handle these well. Use the native share action provider so that you can easily share out to any app that accepts the style of content you want to share without having to build it out yourself.

Make the app international! For instance, separating copy in a strings file makes it easier to update to other languages. Although, you should remember to design the content and UI elements with added strings of information in mind. It’s possible your content cells may need to have content flow from right to left or even expand to fit longer strings when translated. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about the actual conversion; a recent update to the Play Store has added the ability to hire translators.

Update often. The Play Store allows developers to release updates much more quickly than the iOS App Store. It even allows you to do alpha and beta releases so that you can update a small percentage of users at a time, letting you work out kinks before shipping to everyone. Taking advantage of the Play Store’s update mechanisms will demonstrate to the users your active investment in improving the app.

And speaking of your users; listen to them. This is perhaps the best advice when converting to Android. A user is required to authenticate with a Google+ account when leaving reviews, which means that you can directly correlate the reviewer with their actual identity. So take the time to reply to comments and respond to feedback personally. Dialogue with your users not only helps in building a great app according to their feedback, but promotes a loyal user base that’ll stick with your app as it grows.


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Why iOS7 Does and Doesn’t Reflect Apple’s Core Brandhttp://speckyboy.com/2014/02/06/ios7-doesnt-reflect-apples-brand/ http://speckyboy.com/2014/02/06/ios7-doesnt-reflect-apples-brand/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 10:51:15 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=46807

A few months ago, Apple released their long-awaited iOS7 update to users around the world. It was the single biggest visual update to iOS since the release of the original iPhone in 2007 and as...


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A few months ago, Apple released their long-awaited iOS7 update to users around the world. It was the single biggest visual update to iOS since the release of the original iPhone in 2007 and as you may already know, a lot of people aren’t too happy with the redesign.

Apple has been subjected to fierce competition in the smartphone market over the last couple of years (primarily from Android) and after more than six years without a redesign, iOS6′s skeuomorphic design was begining to look pretty tired. Not good news in a fiercely competitive market.

Unlike almost all other brands, Apple actually produces both the software and hardware for their devices but Apple’s core product is definitely their software (i.e. iOS). In some respects, the iPhone hardware actually acts as the product packaging as Apple is primarily a software company. It’s the software that makes their devices unique.

As this guide on rebranding and redesigning product packaging points out, brands often opt to redesign their product packaging with the aim of quickly increasing relevancy and to draw attention to their brand, but in Apple’s case, they opted to do the opposite. Rather than redesign the iPhone hardware (i.e. the packaging), they opted to redesign the software (i.e. the core product), even though some would almost certainly argue that the iPhone hardware is just as overdue for a redesign as iOS itself.

Now, given the fact that an estimated 79% of all iOS devices are now running iOS7, iOS7 should offer a perfect reflection of Apple’s core brand, but is this actually the case? Well, yes and no.

iOS6 vs. iOS7: First Impressions

iOS6 and iOS7 UI comparison
Image Source

When you compare iOS6 and iOS7, it’s instantly obvious that the redesign is far from subtle. Every aspect of the operating system has been entirely redesigned. It’s this redesign that has received quite a backlash from many Apple customers (and design critics of course) with many commenting on how childish the new ‘neon’ colour scheme looks. This is where the problems begin; I mean, since when has Apple ever been remotely classed as ‘childish’?

A lot of people have also commented on how iOS7 appears to take a lot of inspiration from Android and to be honest, there are certain areas where you would have to agree.

iOS7 and android UI comparison
Image Source

If you take a look at the comparison of the iOS7 vs. Android Jelly Bean lock screen above, you’ll notice a lot of similarities. Now, I’m Apple’s biggest fan but even in iOS6, it was pretty clear that Apple borrowed aspects such as the notification centre from Android. While many consumers might not have noticed this subtle copying in iOS6, iOS7 has brought the UI of Android and iOS closer than ever before and now it’s pretty much impossible not to notice some similarities.

This is one of the reasons that I personally think iOS7 is a poor reflection of Apple’s core brand. For decades, Apple has been known as an innovative company, the company that simply doesn’t care what their competition is doing as they’re going to do things better anyway. It’s a somewhat arrogant view but it’s almost always worked. It was proven when they released the original iPhone as there was quite literally nothing like it on the market at all, it was a hugely innovative device.

While it’s evident (at least to me) that Google initially swiped many features of iOS for early Android releases, it seems that the tables have now turned. Apple appears to be ‘borrowing’ features from Android and this certainly isn’t what the Apple brand is known for.

It’s Far From Perfect

iPad screenshot

Anyone that has upgraded to iOS7 (including myself) is likely to have experienced a few glitches in the last few months. While Apple has been quick to issue updates and patches for the most serious bugs (e.g. security bugs), there are still a lot of bugs remaining and to be honest, they’re annoying.

In all honesty, there’s always going to be a few bugs when such a major redesign is released and while Apple certainly hasn’t got things as wrong as Microsoft usually do with Windows (just look at Windows Vista for example), I believe that there’s more bugs than there should be.

The above screenshot is actually taken from my own iPad Mini and as you can see, things aren’t how they should be. I admit this was a one-off but I’ve also experienced problems with iCloud synchronisation and many other aspects. I also personally think the Calendar app is terrible and that there are many inconsistencies in the UI design (the inverse gradients on the Mail and App Store icons for example). It’s also annoying how the old iOS6 keyboard appears in roughly half of the apps used; I honestly see no reason why this has to be the case.

Once again, it’s here that I believe iOS7 fails to reflect Apple’s core brand. Apple is known for releasing products that are as close to perfect as can be, even if doing so means that they’re late to the market. It seems that this time, Apple has given into pressure from the competition.

We also have to remember that Apple is a premium brand and their products are sold at premium prices. An iPhone 5S is almost double the price of Google’s Nexus 5 handset and aside from Touch ID, many would argue that the iPhone 5S falls short in comparison.

The bottom line is that you pay a premium for Apple products because they’re known for their attention to detail and desire for perfection. The current buggy iOS7 certainly falls short of these expectations.

Fragmentation Between iOS7 And Mac OSX

mac osx screenshot

One of the reasons that Apple doesn’t licence their software to other hardware manufacturers is to ensure perfect harmony between software and hardware. If you’re lucky enough to own both an iPad and iPhone running iOS7, you’ll notice that the design is consistent between both devices as they’re both running the same OS.

Obviously, Mac OSX is an entirely different operating system but prior to iOS7, the design of iOS6 and Mac OSX was consistent too. iOS6 featured the same visual style as Mac OSX and many of the icons were the same too (e.g. Safari and Calendar). Now, with the release of iOS7, there’s fragmentation between the two operating systems.

If you look at the image above (which is a screenshot taken from Mac OSX Mavericks: the latest version of Mac OSX), you’ll notice that the design is still reminiscent of iOS6. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the Notification Centre which clearly features an iOS6-like design.

You’ll also notice that the overall colour scheme and many of the icons are completely different in OSX than in iOS7.

For me, this is yet another frustrating reason why iOS7 fails to represent Apple’s core brand. Apple are constantly striving for harmony between software and hardware as well as the various offerings of their product line but clearly, iOS7 falls short.

ios7 mac osx screenshot

If you compare the UI of iOS7 and Mac OSX in the image above, you’d be forgiven for assuming the operating systems were created by entirely separate companies. If you compare this to Windows 8 (dektop and mobile), you’ll notice that Apple falls short in terms of creating a consistent experience across their entire product line.

Conclusion

Clearly, iOS7 fails to reflect Apple’s core brand in many ways. It’s far from perfect, there are many design-related errors, it’s buggy, the design is inconsistent with Mac OSX and perhaps worst of all, it almost certainly copies Android in some respects.

Despite the many problems though, I think there are a few ways in which iOS7 is the perfect representation of Apple’s core brand. For a start, it’s certainly a bold and ambitious design and you can clearly see what Apple was trying to achieve, it’s just a shame they fell a little short this time.

What’s more, despite the fact that many of the people upgrading to iOS7 don’t like the iOS7 experience, Apple has offered no way out. With Apple products, the deal has always been that Apple decides what is best; the user has very little control over the visual aspect of the UI when compared with something like Android.

It’s nice to see that Apple are still making bold design decisions and aspiring to be the best, I just hope the bugs are sorted out soon!


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Transform Your WordPress Site into A Stunning Mobile App Within Minutes!http://speckyboy.com/2013/12/13/transform-wordpress-site-stunning-mobile-app-within-minutes/ http://speckyboy.com/2013/12/13/transform-wordpress-site-stunning-mobile-app-within-minutes/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2013 07:14:36 +0000 http://speckyboy.com/?p=45954

With the number of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets ever on the rise, having a desktop-only website can be really harmful for your blog or magazine website. Not only does it deprive you...


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With the number of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets ever on the rise, having a desktop-only website can be really harmful for your blog or magazine website. Not only does it deprive you of potential mobile visitors, it also shuts down numerous monetization channels that you can easily make use of. Obviously, in an age where mobile operating systems are more talked about than their desktop counterparts, ignoring your mobile visitors is one risk that you just cannot take.

That said, it is obviously an icing on the cake if your blog or magazine has its own mobile app. In this article, I shall be discussing the benefits of having a native mobile app, as well as taking a closer look at one service that lets you get a mobile app for your website in the easiest manner possible.

The Importance of Having A Mobile App

You might ask: why should one go for a mobile app, and not just a mobile site? After all, won’t using a responsive or adaptive website that caters to mobile users be sufficient? To some extent, yes it will be sufficient. However, a mobile app has added advantages of its own: you can use push notifications to alert your users each time you post new content (this is precisely why I use the GMail app and do not visit the GMail mobile site).

Mobile apps also allow you to offer a smooth and native experience, and you can even allow offline browsing, so that your users stay updated with your content even when their data plans are not unlimited. Plus, by promoting your app on the Apple App Store and/or Google Play, you can easily attract newer audiences. And lastly, you can also enhance your revenue by making use of specialized mobile ad networks, such as AdMob and several others.

Just in case you are still stuck with the old question of whether or not you need a mobile app for your website or business, read this article wherein I had talked about the pros and cons of having your own mobile app.

Sounds Good! How Do I Get One?

There are several ways using which you can get a mobile app for your business/website. If you have the required skills, time and resources, you may consider coding one yourself — in that case the rest of this article is probably not meant for you.

However, not everyone has the required skills, time or resources, and this is where specialized services for mobile app creation come in handy. You can hire a developer who can create a custom mobile app for your website. This will be the costliest option, though, because no decent custom mobile app can be created for less than a few thousands of dollars (not to mention additional fees if you want your app to support multiple mobile platforms).

If budget is something that bothers you, allow me to introduce you to Mobiloud.

Mobiloud Splash

Mobiloud: Turning WordPress Websites into Mobile Apps

Developing a mobile app can be a time-consuming and expensive process. Mobiloud intends to change this very notion. Simply put, Mobiloud is a service that lets you transform any RSS-supported website into a native mobile app, thereby letting you offer push notifications and other app-worthy features to your mobile readers, and simultaneously opening up new monetization channels for you!

Based in the UK and managed by 50Pixels, Mobiloud helps publishers, bloggers and content creators build native mobile apps for iOS and Android within minutes (and at extremely budget-friendly rates).

How Does it Work?

The idea is simple: instead of doing things the tougher way, Mobiloud’s apps simply gather content automatically from your website or blog; you can also configure them to show content from your Twitter or Facebook pages. Your readers can easily get push notifications about new articles, share content they like and even comment on your articles. You can monetize your app as well, as per your needs!

While Mobiloud supports virtually any CMS with RSS support, WordPress websites are obviously at the top of the helm, and there is a special plugin for WordPress users.

The best part about Mobiloud is that unlike various other alternatives out there, it offers ‘native’ mobile apps — therefore, your mobile app will work and feel like a real app, not just another blog with content patched on to it. Don’t trust me? Hit the demo!

How Much Does it Cost?

In terms of pricing, the Professional Plan costs $49 per month (billed per annum). It offers you an iPhone/iPad app, along with push notifications, download statistics, monetization and support.

If you need Android apps as well and Google Analytics, you can try the Publisher plan which costs $99 per month (again, billed annually). Just in case that doesn’t impress you, Mobiloud also have custom app programs wherein you can discuss custom page layouts, additional CMS integrations and app graphic design.

Is it Worth it?

TL;DR: Yes!

Some time back, SpeckyBoy launched its own mobile app for iOS devices, built by Mobiloud. Quite obviously, Mobiloud is our preferred and most trusted solution when it comes to creating mobile apps!

Speckyboy iOS App Splash

However, Mobiloud may not be for everyone. If you do not need a fully branded native mobile app, and are instead just looking to publish a mobile website, investing in Mobiloud’s services might not be apt for your requirements.

On the other hand, if you are looking to create a native mobile app for iOS/Android users right from your WordPress website, you should by all means give Mobiloud a spin. All you need to do is install the plugin, and then design your app within minutes. You can try and test your app in the browser itself, and once you’re all ready to go, Mobiloud will get your app up and running within a few days for a small monthly fee.

Considering the fact that the number of mobile users is ever on the rise, and apps provide a way better user experience as compared to mere mobile-friendly websites, having a mobile app can help any blog or website gain an edge over the competition. In such cases, solutions like Mobiloud become all the more important and useful.


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