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For developers, setting up and managing a cloud-based backend for their mobile app can be time consuming. Enterprise apps may require a great deal of features, including synchronization, support for push notifications, expert file handling and other features before the front end of the app itself can work. On top of this, there is potentially cross-platform testing and management, plus web-based applications to wrangle, creating the need for a multitude of systems and structures in place before app development can be completed.

How Does MBaaS Work?

MBaaS – Mobile Backend as a Service – aims to change all that. Without MBaas, there are a variety of steps app developers must go through in order to properly configure everything from the database to user security to ensuring the finished infrastructure is compatible with both Android and iOS flavors. Much in the same way bootstrapping has changed the way websites are developed, MBaas is a sort of light switch for enterprise app development – putting into place the key structures that shortcut the time necessary to incorporate all of these necessary pieces.

For example, with MBaaS, the server is already configured, the database is already built and in some cases. The service is ready, user account access and security are in place, push notifications are enabled and other native services are ready to go. For enterprise apps, this dramatically enhances development speed and provides a reliable solution for a variety of mobile configurations right out of the box.

What are the Benefits to Using MBaaS?

One of the biggest benefits to using MBaaS is the availability of built-in cross platform support. Even if an app is not currently cross-platform, building this functionality in at a later time would be like building a basement after your house was already constructed. Most enterprise level MBaaS products include shared tenant cloud hosting but if you need dedicated servers, that option is available. You can leverage existing managed services like Amazon Web Services to provide always-on access with the added plus of dedicated servers that only the core app team can access and use.

Enterprise-level MBaaS solutions allow the use of importing external data sources as well as crucial authentication and authorization features. If you’re looking for a way to integrate MBaaS into your existing app development infrastructure, these are two key features you don’t want to be without.

Built-In Benefits

As part of its built-in feature set, enterprise-grade MBaaS products leverage vital business systems including user authentication and management (social logins, password reset, email verification) and secure synchronized data. This allows users to take advantage of your app on any device while still keeping their data intact and recent. MBaaS also allows for built-in push notifications. Basic integration can be further customized by the app developer, but no matter which solution you choose, push notifications need to be received by users on both Android and iOS.

What to Know Before Taking the Next Step

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “can one ‘in a box’ solution give us the flexibility we need?” And on the surface, the answer is “no“. There is no one size fits all MBaaS. Based on your needs, we can analyze the enterprise level providers and determine which one’s feature setmost closely aligns with your current and future app goals. In some cases, a custom back end truly is the best solution. However, for most common app features, an MBaaS can save weeks, perhaps even months of development while negating the need to constantly monitor and update servers.

Less time spent on developmental housecleaning means faster time to market – and faster time to market means a greater competitive edge, which can make or break any app’s launch.

Do you use enterprise-grade MBaaS solutions in your own business? What has your experience been with them?Contact us to learn more or share your thoughts.

All Black David Boot

A pay-by-phone app can be a great way for a business to simplify the payment process for its customers, to make shopping quicker and more convenient, and to reward its most loyal clientele with discounts and other incentives. Done correctly, a quality app can increase your sales and improve customer satisfaction, leading to higher profits and increased loyalty. There are several features that many of the best pay-by-phone apps have in common, and they should all be considered necessary to make sure your app thrives and sets your business apart in today’s crowded marketplace.

Great Usability

If it can’t get done in a few swipes or taps, your app is likely to fail. Complicated user interfaces can frustrate customers and make them abandon your app before they can learn to appreciate its benefits. By making sure your app is intuitive and easy to use, you can keep your customers interested and using the app, increasing sales. For day to day use, keep the interface as simple as possible to use, limiting choices such as payment options to only what is necessary, and put the more complicated or less frequently used options in a secondary “Settings” area.

Cross-Platform Compatibility

To be useful, your app must be available to the widest variety of customers. At a minimum, this means your app should be compatible with iPhones and Android devices, but you should also consider making it available for users of other platforms, such as Widows Phone or BlackBerry, as well. To make cross-platform use consistent, you should try to keep the user interface and options as similar as possible between platforms and avoid using system-specific features that are not replicated on other platforms.

Usage of Embedded Hardware

Phones with near-field communication ability or quality cameras can be used to enhance the payment and shopping experience. When available, your pay-by-phone app should take advantage of NFC to process payments, allowing the transaction to be completed with a simple tap of the phone. This makes the process easier for both your business and your customer, and ensures a secure transaction. Your app can also enhance the shopping experience by using the device’s camera to process bar orders or QR codes, allowing more information about a product to be displayed, or adding a product to a digital cart to be purchased. With better product information and an easier check-out process, customers will likely frequent a business more often and spend more money.

Plenty of Payment Options

Customers prefer a wide range of options when it comes to payment options. A good pay-by-phone app should have several payment options, such as multiple credit cards, at least one bank account, PayPal or another Internet payment system and a prepaid account option. This makes it easy for your customers to supply payment and reduces the chances of declined payments and the hassles that go along with them. The app should also make it simple to switch between payment options at will, and to add or remove options when necessary.

Rewards Program

By adding a rewards program to your app, you can make your customers feel more appreciated, which will encourage repeat visits and increase sales. Programs like percentage discounts, loyalty bonuses and free products are easy to incorporate into your app and will further increase its adoption and usage amongst your customers, since they will receive something tangible in return.

Extra Information

In addition to improving the shopping and payment experiences, your pay-by-phone app should also offer a wide variety of helpful information to your customers. This can include location information and directions, which can be tied to the device’s GPS unit, store hours, contact information and full information about all of your products. This data can be extremely valuable to your customers and make the shopping experience much more convenient.

With these important features, your pay-by-phone app will have the basics to make it a convenient and popular payment option for your customers. As usage of your app increases, and more features are added, you should see improvements in both your sales figures and your profits.

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App Transport Security

Keeping private data secure on today’s Internet is an ongoing challenge, and with the release of iOS9, Apple is taking even more steps to protect user data. The most important change for developers in iOS9 is the addition of App Transport Security, which attempts to use secure HTTPS communications by default for all Internet connections, instead of standard HTTP. Ideally, all your apps and services should be upgraded to use HTTPS, but, for many iOS9 apps, that is simply not possible. Certain services, such as ad networks, still rely on unsecured HTTP and without modification, if your app tries to connect to an insecure address, it will result in an error. Not only is this possibly inconvenient for your users, it also looks unprofessional for error messages to be displayed inside your apps.

If standard HTTP connections are absolutely necessary for your app to function, you can avoid problems by adding a few lines to the app’s Info.plist file to whitelist the affected domains, or you can deactivate App Transport Security completely using the NSAllowsArbitraryLoads key.

IPv6 Support

As the finite supply of IPv4 addresses dwindles, it is becoming increasingly important to add support for the IPv6 protocol to all your iOS9 apps. Beginning in 2016, it will be mandatory for all new apps in the App Store to support IPv6, and those that do not support the protocol will be rejected. To make sure your apps are ready for IPv6, be sure that you use the correct OS networking frameworks, such as NSURLSession, avoid APIs that use IPv4 exclusively, and do not hard-code any IPv4 addresses into any of the URLs in your apps.

App Thinning

With iOS9, you now have the ability to reduce the installed footprint of your iOS9 apps by using to deliver a customized version of your app for a particular device, without including all the extra resources that are required for other devices. Using Xcode and slicing you can export a different version of the app bundle for each type of device, and using bitcode, you can export an intermediate version of your app that can be compiled for a specific device when it is downloaded. With on-demand resources, items like images and sounds can be downloaded as needed, and deleted when they are no longer required or when storage space needs to be freed for more important items.

iPad Multitasking

With iOS9, Apple introduced several new multitasking options for iPads, including Slide Over, Split View and Picture in Picture. Slide Over allows a second app to be briefly opened over the top of another. Split View allows two apps to be opened side by side and used simultaneously, and Picture in Picture overlays a video window onto your current app.

For your apps to work properly in iOS9, they must be targeted to the OS specifically and they must support the new window sizes, using the appropriate Auto Layout and size classes. They must also respond to trait collection and size changes correctly. It is a good idea to test your iOS9 apps in each state and make sure all the elements are displayed correctly. Applications developed in Xcode 7 should already be optimized for the new multitasking modes.

These are just a few of the things you can do to prepare your apps for iOS9. There are many other options available, depending on they type of application. Games can take advantage of the GameplayKit, MetalKit and other optional frameworks to improve game performance, and other apps can use improvements like 3D Touch to enhance app interactions. Implemented properly, the new additions to iOS9 can translate into improved performance and new features that will add significant value to all of your iOS9 apps.

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It’s no secret that top apps on each platform have strong mobile user experiences and enjoy a kind of prestige and envy from all types of developers. But do the most popular apps secretly reveal a little more insight into the habits and personalities of their customers? Let’s take a closer look.

Top 5 Apps for iOS

The top five most popular free apps for iOS are:

– Facebook Messenger
– Facebook
– Instagram
– YouTube
– Snapchat

The top five most popular paid apps are:

– Minecraft Pocket
– Dark Sky Weather
– Heads Up (a party game made popular by Ellen DeGeneres)
– Lifeline (A text-based astronaut guidance game)
– Plague, Inc.

What They Reveal About iOS Users

The free apps show that iOS users are into sharing – especially social sharing. From filter effects through Instagram to “private” conversations on Snapchat, iOS users are connected to their friends, family and colleagues through a variety of applications.

The paid apps demonstrate that iOS users aren’t afraid to have a little fun either! But notice how many of the games are also social in nature. Games like Minecraft thrive on sharing, and even Lifeline, which involves you directing and texting messages to a stranded astronaut, encourages social-type bonds with the character.

In short, iOS users enjoy documenting and watching the world around them. Friends, family and good times are always on the agenda, but virtual worlds are just as attractive, whether you’re building something amazing with your pals, or spreading the flu!

Top 5 Apps for Android

The top five most popular free apps for Android are:

– Gmail
– Google Chrome
– Facebook
– WhatsApp
– Angry Birds

The top five most popular paid apps are:

– Minecraft Pocket
– Where’s My Water? (A puzzle-based game by Disney)
– Asphalt 7: Heat (A Racing Game)
– Poweramp Full Version Unlocker (A full-featured music player)
– Beautiful Widgets Pro (Personalization for your home screen via widgets – such as weather, world clocks, etc.)

What They Reveal About Android Users

Android users are all about getting things done, and they do that via the already familiar Google apps like Chrome and Gmail. Social sharing isn’t as high of a priority for them, but there’s a definite trend with regard to games.

Their app habits show that they’re into a good deal more personalization and freedom. They want to make their devices their own and make them unique. They’re also into building and sharing as well as working out the brain via some challenging puzzles. But Android users are also not afraid to put the pedal to the metal and let off some steam with games that don’t require much thought, but do require fast reflexes.

Here, there’s less of a trend toward sociability and more of a focus on freedom and customization. Android users like having choices and tend to want to be in more control over their apps as a whole.

The Bottom Line on App Choices

While it may be unfair to pigeon-hole all users into these categories based on their app choices, there’s no doubt that the mobile app world is continuing to grow and evolve as it stretches its wings in an attempt to find and be something for everyone.

From email to social chat, photo filters to catapulting birds, it’s easy to think that there’s nothing a device can’t do. Still, the best part about downloading and owning these apps are in how they impact and improve your life on a day to day basis. Whether you want to be more productive, organize or coordinate an event or just have fun, both app platforms give you the ability to do all these things and more.

What are your thoughts? Do app choices dictate the behaviors and personalities of an entire group of users? Or is it possible to segment users too far based on their apps? Tell us what you think by contacting us and share your own perspective!

 

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Let’s get into its Design. Apple Watch offers a 38mm and 42mm face height, depending on whether you’re used to wearing a smaller or larger face traditional watch. They’ve designed 6 different metal finishes, including 18-Karat rose or yellow gold, to create a higher end timepiece. Three different main designs suit virtually any style including the “Watch” version, “Watch Sport,” and “Watch Edition.”

Now this is where things get even more interesting. The face is completely customizable, “What!” You can select a look that is a traditional chronograph or digital numbers. Or do something offbeat like Mickey Mouse that taps his toe with each second that ticks by. Choose a flower that blooms, a jellyfish that swims, or a butterfly that flutters its wings. You can follow the sun’s position in the sky, or the exact position of the planets. The possibilities are endless.

The user experience and plenty of the Watch’s features are exactly pretty seamless and meet expectations. It syncs with our messages, calls, and mail. You can easily start a task on your Watch and finish it on your iPhone However, a few of the standards are kicked up a notch. Emoji’s are animated and customizable. You can easily send audio messages as you would a text. Or send friends your current location on a map.

The built-in apps are quite impressive with some bells and whistles we haven’t seen before. The Digital Touch feature lets you communicate in so many creative and fun ways. Three of our favorites are:

  • Sketch – Use your finger to draw something quickly. Your friend on the other end can watch your drawing animate, then respond with a custom creation for you.
  • Tap – Let friends or loved ones know you’re thinking of them with silent, gentle tap patterns they’ll feel on the wrist. You can even customize taps for different people.
  • Heartbeat – When you press two fingers on the screen, the built-in heart rate sensor records and sends your heartbeat. It’s a simple and intimate way to tell someone how you feel.

The health and fitness app monitors calories and activity pretty well and as expected. We also love the Apple Pay feature that can be used at compatible retailers all with a simple swipe of your wrist. Those are some initial thoughts we had. We looking forward to sharing more UX Design and Mobile App Development tips as we learn more about the Apple Watch in the coming months.

But, please contact us if you need our help in building an app for the Apple Watch.

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