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Orange Squash Is the Fogbugz App Every Developer Has Been Waiting For

August 24, 2015 | By | No Comments

Bug tracking is a necessary evil for any mobile or web developer.  Keeping track of all the bugs is incredibly time consuming and tedious as you’re working on multiple projects for different clients (which is one of the many reasons I could never be a developer- too expensive to replace the computers I’d throw against the wall).  

To keep track of all these bugs, we internally use Fogbugz. It’s a great tool and has an awesome user interface. That being said, as a mobile development company, we noticed that one thing we were doing a lot was taking screenshots of the bugs in our apps (yes, we have some) and wanting them entered as a case into Fogbugz. We used to email them or upload them to dropbox but that was always a bit tedious so we threw caution to the wind and decided to develop a little screenshot utility for Fogbugz.

Even though we are incredibly biased regarding the greatness of wait… for….it……Orange Squash, we love it and think you will too.  Because we are the true spirit of generosity, we decided to publish Orange Squash for free on the app store so everyone can use it and love it as much as we do.

Other Orange Squash features include:

  • Simple user interface
  • Direct file upload to server
  • Add new notes to old issues
  • Select fields and groups for any Fogbugz project
  • Quick Submit button

Download Orange Squash and get started today!

Don’t Fear The Walking Dead, Just My Bumbling Attempts At Survival in Zombie Mobile App Games

August 21, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

In case you weren’t aware, Fear the Walking Dead, the prequel to the Walking Dead premieres on Sunday.  The teaser is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen because it reveals nothing, but the fear is palpable (I’m terrified to see what he’s running from).  This series is a prequel set in LA (but mostly filmed in Vancouver!), with no affiliation to the current Walking Dead series; instead it will feature the breakdown of society as the virus spreads.  

That sounds ominous

That sounds ominous

 

My main complaint about the Walking Dead was that all the good stuff had already happened.  Who cares what it’s like 9 months after the zombies have taken over? I already know that Starbucks will be gone, my iMac won’t work and my natural hair colour will show.  I want to know what it’s like as hospitals fill up, the highways are jam packed and people are desperately trying to flee to safer ground.  That’s the stuff that makes a zombie show great!  Say what you will about World War Z, but the most exciting part was when the plague had just hit so Brad Pitt and his scarf were trying to get his family out of the city and they faced challenges finding resources and safety as society crumbled.  Therefore, in honour of the upcoming zombie prequel series, I have tested and ranked mobile app zombie games (I have an iPhone 6) to get you through the next few days before Fear the Walking Dead premieres on Sunday.

He's fighting zombies, how is his scarf so perfect?! I demand answers

He’s fighting zombies, how is his scarf so perfect?! I demand answers

Dead Among Us

I just noticed that this game is for teens (that explains why I was so good at it) but that doesn’t stop me from loving it.  It’s a first person shooter game that you can control with just one hand, which I find thrilling because I love using my phone one handed (which also explains why it seems like I’m developing carpal tunnel). My siblings and I were never allowed to play video games as kids because my mom thought it would make us dumb, so I am horrible at combat games because (after 20 years), I still can’t get the hang of them, which destroys the fun because getting killed every 2 seconds is rage inducing.  Luckily, Dead Among Us doesn’t require too much coordination on my part (it’s like they’ve seen me play volleyball) so anyone can get the hang of this game pretty quickly.  My favourite aspect of the game is that I get to be a sniper perched on top of a building with my fancy bow and arrow and feel like a hero as I secure the location for fellow survivors and scientists to gather supplies.  I’m pretty sure this is exactly how Katniss felt.

I shall snipe you all

I shall snipe you all

 

The graphics for this game were high quality, appropriate, and interesting.  There were not a lot of options for weapons because I refuse to pay money on or for games, but that didn’t stop me until level 3.  Another feature I liked, especially when I was learning, was that I could zoom in and slow the action down so my first few attempts to oh, I don’t know, SAVE HUMANITY, weren’t stopped by my poor vision or reflexes.  Looking through the scope of the gun gave it a more realistic feeling for a newbie like me.  There was supposedly a radar available to keep tabs on the zombies as they came to eat my group but I never figured out how to use it and I didn’t suffer for it.

This does not bode well for my companion

This does not bode well for my companion

 

Overall, Dead Among Us was freaking awesome.  The navigation, design, graphics and interactivity were more than I expected.  For a more advanced player I can imagine the game might be less exciting, but it was exactly what I wanted and was perfect for my skill level.

Zombie Highway Android or iOS

The lure of this game was quite strong for me because I love racing games (they don’t require too much skill) and zombies.  Much to my dismay though, Zombie Highway under delivered on everything.  The instructions were vague and unclear, which I looked past because I like to play around and learn myself.  I played for a few minutes and thought ‘this can’t be it’ so I looked up the instructions to see if I was missing a huge part of the game or something.  I wasn’t.

Apparently not very far

Apparently not very

 

You basically just drive around in the desert trying not to let zombies hop on your car but from my experience, it was inevitable.  It didn’t seem to matter how far I drove around them, they would leap onto my car and murder me through the window (not cool guys, not cool).  Plus, they moved shockingly fast which seems to be the trend in zombie movies– don’t make them scarier, just make them faster.  I think that may have contributed to my disappointment in this game, it’s lazy and unoriginal to just make the zombies faster.  When the zombies jump on your car you’re supposed to shoot them but it all happened so quickly that it was impossible to get your gun out.  Remember when I said getting killed every 2 seconds is rage inducing?  Zombie Highway, I knew you were not long for this world (apparently there’s a Zombie Highway 2 but I refuse to waste a nanosecond of my life on it).

They didn't teach us this in Driver's Ed

They didn’t teach us this in Driver’s Ed

 

As a whole I didn’t like this game at all.  There wasn’t much stimulation, the graphics weren’t amazing and the whole premise seemed like something that seemed great in theory but horrible in execution.  If you like mindless, rage inducing driving games that go nowhere quickly but will remind you of every horrible childhood road trip you ever had, then Zombie Highway is for you.

Walking Dead: The Game

I had high hopes for this game because it’s the Walking Dead franchise and wow, I was not disappointed!  This was the game that plays like a movie and it was fantastic.  The stunning graphics open with the iconic Atlanta highway shot that everyone knows and the high quality art and production value are obvious throughout the whole game.  My annoyance with the beginning of the game is that you couldn’t skip the introductory video so I got halfway through it about three times and nearly gave up in frustration.  Luckily, I got over myself and persevered in order to get started with zombie killing.  As I attempted to maneuver myself out of the police car I crashed in, I was struck at how perfectly the music set the mood- I actually felt a bit of fear and dread!  

I'm in the back along with racial stereotypes

I’m in the back along with racial stereotypes

 

For a novice gamer like me, getting into full on zombie killing mode is difficult and doesn’t last long because I’m horrible at shooting and running (especially at the same time).  The Walking Dead wrapped the whole movie/story into the zombie killing so the pace wasn’t as fast and I was able to survive.  Having prompts for weapons or story items was a huge help so I didn’t have to fumble around in the dark looking for stuff.  I just clicked on the white dots and could choose what option I wanted.  The prompts felt like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel because I had so many options available to me.  If I wanted to snark at another character or answer questions, I was able to do so and their responses were based on what I said, not standard replies designed to continue a storyline.

This could get awkward quickly

This could get awkward quickly

 

The Walking Dead game had some really nice human touches like the old school answering machine that plays a message to the whole room (this never happens anymore in life, this needs to stop) and some heavy handed symbolism of a child’s colouring book (innocence!  a simpler time! we.get.it).  As on the nose as these items were, they did serve their purpose of forwarding the plot so I shall get off my soapbox.  

The Walking Dead mobile app game was very easy to control because you could move your finger along the whole screen instead of the bottom right hand corner which I never remember when I’m panicking and about to become a zombie’s dinner.  Since it wasn’t completely action packed I was able to enjoy the storyline and not die immediately.  So far I have met Hershel and Glenn who are characters in the TV series so there is a nice tie-in to the show.  

Take that!

Take that!

 

Zombie Mobile Game App Roundup

There are so many zombie mobile game apps available, it was hard to choose three. I am really impressed by the quality of the mobile games these days, especially the Walking Dead game.  Their production value was way ahead of the other games, but that’s to be expected given the success of the franchise.  The functionality and interactivity were the best in the Walking Dead game, but Dead Among Us was a close second.  The navigation only became an issue if the games weren’t clear after playing them for a few minutes.  The zombie mobile app game experience was a blast and I would recommend the Walking Dead and Dead Among Us games for anyone looking to have an undead experience before Sunday.  

See you Sunday for some Fear the Walking Dead!

See you Sunday for some Fear the Walking Dead!

07 Aug

Kirsten Campbell

By

There’s An App For That (Part 2)! Three More 14 Oranges Staff Reveal Their Favourite Mobile App and Why

August 7, 2015 | By |

After the initial blog post about favourite apps, I have determined that a person’s favourite app is more revealing about their personality than I initially suspected.  The app that a person reaches for the most highlights what they do with their spare time, their interests and what they value.  Who knew?

For part 2 of an ongoing series, and in no particular order of importance, I present three 14 Orangers and their favourite app. Let us know if you like them, hate them or have never heard of them!

Andrew Sommerfeld

Manual

This app gives a photographer full control of the Apple Camera (exposure, ISO, etc) on their phone. It’s great if you’ve wanted to have full ISO, exposure or aperture control over the built in camera.

I refused to download this app on principle- I won’t pay for an app unless I desperately need it.  But, from watching the demo videos I think this would really elevate my Instagram game (just in time for eggnog latte season, NOT pumpkin spice because that’s disgusting). – Kirsten

manual

Dan Lefrancois

The Score

It has a widget that allows me to customize what shows up for sports scores, so at a glance I can get what I’m interested in. Overall, it is very customizable throughout and does provide up-to-date information when I want it.

Since I know less than nothing about sports I was surprised my phone even allowed this app to download. I chose the Canucks (duh) as my team to follow in the app.  It was cool the way all the current news stories involving the Canucks showed up so I could scroll through the ones that interest me. I could also check scores and select my favorite players to follow.  Since I don’t know any of the Canucks (except Trevor Linden whom I almost spilled wine on at the Maple Leaf Lounge at YVR) I didn’t select any players to follow. – Kirsten

I only recognize one name of the Canucks' players I'm following

Oh yeah, totally makes sense…

Sylvain Marcotte

Stocard

Stocard is an app where I can store all my loyalty cards. It is free and has a great selection of existing cards but more importantly, it can also allow you to add other cards (and pictures). The great thing is that it works on my Moto 360 so I can get tellers to scan it from my wrist.

During my brief tenure with the Apple Watch I got a glimpse into the future that involves paying for things with a watch.  Once I finally got my Starbucks app to work on the watch, I was very impressed with how much better it was to pay that way.  I can only imagine a world in which ALL my loyalty cards are in one place and not jammed into my wallet. – Kirsten

The convenience! The ease!

The convenience! The ease!

Stay tuned for the next instalment of our favourite apps!

22 Jul

Kirsten Campbell

By

Whitepaper- The Engineer’s Guide to Fleet Management Solutions: Increasing Competitive Advantage and Employee Productivity

July 22, 2015 | By |

If you are part of an organization that has a mobile fleet, you are likely finding it difficult to maximize your bottom line.  Fleets are a necessary part of many businesses, but they can easily become a huge source of financial waste and inefficiency.  However, with an appropriate engineering solution, a fleet can become a productive addition to an organization instead of a financial drain.  Cost cutting, competitive advantage,and ROI are just some of the implementation results of fleet management systems.

14 Oranges has extensive experience with fleet management systems that have a measurable impact on our clients. We are experts at creating a solution that makes sense for your business and will have tangible result on your bottom line.  No company fleet is identical, so no engineering solution should be the same.

DOWNLOAD THE ENGINEER’S GUIDE TO FLEET MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS WHITEPAPER NOW

 

15 Jul

Kirsten Campbell

By

There’s An App For That! 14 Oranges Staff Reveal Their Favourite Mobile App and Why (Part 1)

July 15, 2015 | By |

Smartphone users expect there to be an app for pretty much anything they can think of these days. Since a lot of apps are free, people download and store them without a second thought.  As such, I was curious about which apps people use the most and why, so I posed the question to the 14 Oranges staff.  As part of an ongoing series, and in no particular order of importance, I present three 14 Orangers and their favorite app. Let us know if you like them or have never heard of them!

Eric Chan

PhotoSync

PhotoSync is an easy way to backup photos from your device to your computer. PhotoSync allows you to transfer your photos & videos between your iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC over your local Wi-Fi network. It also supports sending and receiving photos and videos to and from popular cloud & photo services, mobile storage devices and NAS.

Holy crap, this app is glorious!  When I transfer photos I email them to myself which is basically one step above above a man on a horse delivering them. – Kirsten

photosync

 

Luis Moscoso

SkyView® Free Android or iOS

I love this app because it allows me to stargaze using my phone. The phone screen shows the location of most celestial objects in real time so I can tap on a object and find out more info. Want to find the planet Venus in the sky? Run the app and look around the sky until you find it. Don’t know the name of a visible star or planet? Point the phone at the object and click on the screen for more info.

I used this app at a BBQ on the weekend to try it out because I can never identify any kind of star formation.  Everyone stands around pointing out big and small dippers while I nod along but this time I was going to be the know it all.  I whipped out the app and easily identified the constellations around me.  Victory was mine! – Kirsten

skyview

 

Sasan Naderi

Pushbullet

Working in development can mean that you’re managing many different devices simultaneously and it can be challenging if you want to pass information between them. Pushbullet allows you to communicate with all your devices including your desktops by installing an add-on to your browser. This app solves cross device communication for me and makes it simple to share links, notes, photos and files with others as well.

Since I don’t know much about development I didn’t get too much from this app.  I can understand its appeal if you’re working with a few devices because it really streamlines sharing. I could see it being useful if you were at someone’s house and wanted to show them a video on your phone. Cat videos need to be shared with everyone – Kirsten

pushbullet

Stay tuned for the next instalment of our favourite apps!

08 Jul

Kirsten Campbell

By

Chomp Chomp: Take a Bite Out of The Two Best Shark Week Mobile Apps

July 8, 2015 | By |

This has been one of the warmest (and smokiest) Vancouver summers that I can remember which means it’s the best time to indulge in some Discovery Channel Shark Week.  Personally, I think that Shark Week should be a national holiday because who doesn’t enjoy scaring themselves with Great Whites terrorizing the waters?  Sharks are my worst fear (feel free to ask about watching Jaws when I was 10 and we were in Hawaii.  I couldn’t set foot in the water) yet I can’t help myself when it comes to watching Shark Week. So in honour of the greatest week of TV ever, I have researched Shark apps and decided upon two favourites, so you don’t have to make such tough choices.

Global Shark Tracker

This app was so much better than I expected it to be!  My favorite part of this app was picking a shark and following him or her as they swim around.  It sounds so silly but you get really invested in your shark (oh wait, just me? Ok, cool).  Using satellite tracking technology, sharks with trackers are ranked on the app by how recently they have surfaced.

I chose a Great White named Einstein to track and he’s been pretty active around the coast of Texas and Mexico.  The app has some really great features that include social media connections like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter so I can let everyone know what Einstein is up to (sorry to my friends that are subjected to Einstein updates).  He comes pretty close to the beach so hopefully he doesn’t eat anyone.

Einstein’s swimming around looking for his Theory of Relativity

Meet Pablo. He enjoys terrorizing the coast of Santiago

Meet Pablo. He enjoys terrorizing the coast of Santiago

Another cool feature of the Shark Tracker app is that you can donate to shark preservation and preserve the glory of Shark Week for future generations.  There are lots of sharks that are endangered and donating to the OCEARCH non-profit on the app is a really easy way to give back.

This app was logical and easy to use and it’s available for Android and iOS.  While you’re watching Shark Week, make sure you keep updated on your favourite shark!

Sharknado Game

Sharknado was a cultural phenomenon when it was released in 2013 because it was just as ridiculous as its name.  With washed up 90’s and 00’s stars like Tara Reid and Ian Ziering, this TV movie was guaranteed to be a smash hit.  It has since spawned two sequels, so a mobile game was the logical next step.

The premise of the game is that you (appropriately named Fin) have to save New York City from the flying sharks using select weapons.  It’s pretty fun to run down the street with a tornado of sharks and beat them off with a baseball bat.  However, since I don’t take naturally to games, I did run head first into the shark more times than I want to admit (oh the shame, the shame that is my life).

This will be a fair fight

This will be a fair fight

The best part of the Sharknado franchise is how it embraces its campiness.  For example, as you level up in the game, you’re able to ride a surfboard into the tornado and use a chainsaw to kill the sharks.  Yes, it is as fantastic as it sounds.

Seems reasonable

Seems reasonable

I’m not a gaming expert but overall the Sharknado game was fun; it kept my attention, and was relatively easy to learn.  The structure and navigation weren’t exceptionally clear because I had no instructions for how to play the game, I just messed around and learned as I ran into shark’s mouths.  The visual aspect of the game was something I really enjoyed because it was relevant and appropriate.  The interactivity was not too high since there were no social media links or anything to connect me outside of the game.  It’s probably for the best though so people don’t know I played Sharknado the game… My overall experience was positive because it was challenging and fun- I had a blast playing the Sharknado mobile game.  It’s less shameful during Shark Week so make sure you check it out!

Enjoy Shark Week even more by downloading these awesome mobile apps!

02 Jul

Kirsten Campbell

By

To Sit or Stand, That is the Question: IKEA Sit/Stand Desk Review

July 2, 2015 | By |

Anyone who has worked in an office in the last 10 years has heard about standing desks and how amazing they are supposed to be for your health.  The core benefits range from reducing the risk of obesity to reducing the risk of cancer, so it’s understandable why a lot of companies are taking notice.  That being said, standing all day can also have some negative effects on one’s body so many desk manufacturers make desks that can move up and down either manually or at the touch of a button. Until this year, most of the standing desks were rather pricey ($1000 to $5000); however, this year, IKEA unveiled the Bekant Sit and Stand Desk for $599 (CDN) As such, we at 14 Oranges decided to get a standing desk and do our own research in the name of science (yeah science!) based on nothing more than our personal user experience.

It's like we are running NASA

It’s like we are running NASA

Our experiment was off to a slow start because the Bekant IKEA desk was backordered for weeks but when it finally arrived we were off to the races.  The first thing that we noticed was that it was surprisingly easy to put together which is rare for anything from the Jenga prison of IKEA. Also, the desk even included a little net underneath so you can stash all your computer cables neatly (finally I won’t rip them out when I cross my legs!). As advertised, the desk moves neatly from a low position of 22” off the ground, all the way to 48” inches ensuring support for even the tallest of people (myself and Iain included). Not sure about LeBron though, he isn’t returning my calls. Raising and lowering the desk is stupidly easy- just a push of a button.  It also has a key so that every time you come back from the bathroom your desk isn’t at a new height. The desk is very sturdy and doesn’t wobble even at its highest position.

Desk Buttons

Buttons to move the desk and the key

One of the issues that we found is that desk in only one size (63” by 31 ½”) compared to the stationary version of the Bekants that come in 3 sizes. Most of our workstations were designed to be 60” so unfortunately we could only get one to start with and share it.

The desk net for cords

The desk net for cords

So far, our usage as varied. We have Iain (shown here) and Sylvain (sometimes) that typically likes to start their day on it but then move back to their stationary desk after lunch. I have tried it but found that standing at the desk for long periods of time wasn’t for me.  Here’s what I officially had to say about it:

“I worked retail for six years and by hour three I’d be hunched over the counter with an aching back.  I definitely felt that ache again, but this time I could just succumb to my sloth and sit down.  I also noticed I tended to shift my weight from one foot to the other which doesn’t seem like the wisest move”

The other use we found with the desk is that it is really easy to collaborate on a task with someone side by side. You don’t have to worry about the chairs bumping against each other.

Our conclusions so far are quite positive. It is not for everyone but for those that want to have the option to stand for some periods of the day, the Bekant Sit and Stand desk is quite a nice solution, especially for the price.

The desk in all its glory

The desk in all its glory

One thing we will try in the next few weeks is to “Frankenstein” a desk using a tabletop from the 55” stationery Bekant desk line with the base assembly from the Sit and Stand line. All that is required is to cut two long metal bars by a few inches and drill two holes in the bar. Then drilling holes in the 55” tabletop so the base can attach properly.

Stay tuned for more on that experiment!

26 Jun

Kirsten Campbell

By

Ping Pong, Getting Locked In Stairwells, and Airplanes: A 14 Oranges Open House

June 26, 2015 | By |

Moving is one of the nine circles of Hell so when I joined 14 Oranges and learned they had just moved offices and I wouldn’t have to move anything, I was overjoyed.  The old office was small and didn’t fit enough of us since we keep adding new staff so a new office space was in order.

The BCIT aerospace campus that we moved to is beautiful and entertaining since it’s all glass and we can watch the planes fly right over our heads. Though it can be alarming at times when I’m convinced that the planes are too low and won’t clear our building so I duck like I’m driving through a tunnel.

One special part of having a great office like ours is inviting clients and guests to come see it.  It can be a bit of a trek but we promise it’s worth it.  On Wednesday we had our Open House to celebrate our move and guests couldn’t stop commenting on how cool it was to watch the planes. Planes are clearly the best backdrop for any party. Most parties are delightful because of the food and drinks and ours was no exception.  The food from BCIT was a hit with the crowd and the cold beer certainly hit the spot on such a warm day.

Our clients and neighbours had a great time and we’re thrilled everyone enjoyed themselves.

It was exciting to see all our staff in the office since most people work from home. Catching up with co-workers usually happens over the watercooler but that is more difficult for us logistically.  Normal days include me terrorizing Iain by accidentally revealing Game of Thrones spoilers or eating all the gummies and hoping no one noticed (if anyone asks, it was Sasan). In addition, Manu, the pillar of 14 Oranges plays ping pong every lunch break so it was expected he would convince guests at the party to take him on.  Clarence stepped up to the plate and a heated game ensued.  On our way back from the ping pong game Clarence and I got locked in the stairwell and had to call Sylvain to save us (from hero to zero in 10 seconds).

Thank you to everyone who came out to support us, we really appreciate the effort!

18 Jun

Shane Todhunter

By

The 14 Oranges Guide to Planning a Mobile App

June 18, 2015 | By |

Introduction

Working in the App development field for the past 6 years, we have found that many of our customers come to us with an idea but have no idea where to start. We work to help them understand the process for developing their business and their app. App development, as with most businesses, starts with a market and an idea. Taking that idea and turning it into an app can be a daunting task. If you follow some basic steps in the planning process, it can be greatly simplified and much more effective for your audience.

The planning process begins with the Business Model, moves through to establishing app requirements and a minimum viable product and finishes with a phased plan to managing the project.

The words Apps - Where to Begin asking if you need help choosing the best app programs or software to put on your mobile device or smart phone, or how to develop applications

The words Apps – Where to Begin asking if you need help choosing the best app programs or software to put on your mobile device or smart phone, or how to develop applications

Business Model

We have many customers approach us with nothing more than an idea, most people don’t consider a business plan. You certainly do not need to have all the details (pricing, categories, options) sorted out, but when planning an app, you should consider how you intend to make money with it. You are more than welcome to create an app for philanthropic reasons, but we can’t all be Bill Gates so it’s imperative you think about how to make money from your app as one of the planning steps. Is your app going to be a paid for app, free, freemium, or a subscription service? There are multiple options to consider so let’s explore them below.

Apps Available for Purchase

The first and most basic model that was available on the various app stores was to provide apps for purchase. Users pay a one time fee (ranging from $0.99 to $999) to purchase the app with the bulk of apps being at the lower end of the spectrum. Now with that being said, Apple probably didn’t do anyone any favors by pushing the typical price of apps to be in the $0.99 range compared to the more typical $20 to $50 range that is very common for desktop apps. Now in some rare cases like Angry Birds, the $0.99 model worked like magic, but in general, selling apps for $0.99 can be very difficult considering that developing an app for a smartphone can be just as time consuming and costly as a desktop application. Moreover, with Apple and Google taking 30% of your proceeds, it makes getting a decent return on investment quite difficult. In order to make a $0.99 model work, your app idea must be earth shattering or you must be prepared to spend a huge amount of money on advertising to achieve global outreach and market wide penetration. Viral apps exist out there but those are few and far between and should not be counted on.

In App Purchases / Freemium

A variation of the straight purchase model is to offer the app for free (or even a small price) and offer additional features in the app as “In-App purchases”. Perhaps your app is restricted to a few records, a few basic features, and the more elaborate capabilities are offered for purchase. That model allows customers to pay for exactly the features they need and can maximize your revenues (if I recall my Microeconomics 101 course properly). The one factor to consider is that it can make testing the app a bit more involved as you have to test for all the different combinations of features. Once again, with In-App purchases, you are subject to the 30% store taxes.

This model is a very cost effective way to attract potential customers; however, be ready to expect somewhere in the 3% to 5% conversion rate for the paid features.

74_application management

Membership/Subscription Model

With most apps requiring some type of cloud service, one of the most effective revenue models is the membership or subscription model. In this model, users are asked to pay a monthly, yearly, and/or per consumption fee to use your app. With this model, you actually have two choices. You can rely on In-App purchases, allowing users to purchase items using the built in In-App purchase mechanisms provided by Apple or Google to pay for their subscription, but again at a cost of 30% to your bottom line. Another option to curb that “tax” is to create your own subscription service using one of the many payment providers (Stripe, Beanstream, Moneris). Now it does involve more work as you typically would need to include a website / user portal for users to manage their accounts and buy the service but that additional work/cost can quickly be recovered with the improved margins on your sales. One thing that you must be aware of is that in order for an app using your own subscription payment service to be approved by Apple, there must not be a single way for users to learn about and proceed with payment within your app. If there is a way, Apple will find it and your app will be rejected. They are quite good at protecting their revenue sources, which seems obvious given their staggering profits.

Basically, your customers will need to learn about your service outside of the app. The one exception to this rule is if the content they are subscribing to is consumed outside of your app. For example, maybe you are selling a gym membership within your app. The app acts as a point of sale but in the end, you are not using your app to consume your membership.

Advertising

The last form of generating money from your app is advertising. Advertisers will pay to show their ads to your user base and there are a few ways to approach this scenario. One option that is quite popular with start up apps is to have a one or more ‘app sponsors’. When the app is being developed some of the costs can be offset by selling sponsorship opportunities. Often this will result in a banner type ad being placed in a prominent place within the app. These sponsors can be transitioned into long term advertisers once the app is live. A second approach to generating advertising revenue is to incorporate a third party advertising network into your app. These ad networks will automate the display of ads within your app, paying you for clicks or views of the ad depending on the arrangement. If your app is likely to generate lots of users and frequent use, this may be the optimal solution for you.

Some key factors when exploring Advertising Revenue Models are:

  • App traffic – how many users and how often will they use your app
  • Demographics – the more focused the demographics of your audience the more targeted the ads resulting in higher click through rates

Ad revenue can be a very effective method of generating money from your app, the rates for clicks or impressions are very low, all things considered, so the traffic needs to be there for it to make sense.

Requirements

After putting together your thoughts on the business model, the next thing to consider when planning out the app itself is the apps functionality. Creating a list of these requirements will be very helpful in scoping the work involved in completing the app. Software development can be extremely complicated and what might appear to be small features could actually involve hours of R&D.

One simple example of this would be time based triggers on iOS. For example if you want your app to perform a task every 15 minutes this would logically seem like a simple task. In reality, this is quite challenging to complete.

Here are some questions to ask when putting together your requirements list:

  • What platforms will be supported? (iOS, Android etc..)
  • What devices types will be support? (Phone, Tablets, Phablets)
  • Will the user need to login?
  • Will the app need to know the user’s location?
    • If so, how precise and how often
  • Will push notifications be required?
  • Will payments be accepted inside the app?
  • Will the project require a website?
  • Will the project require an admin panel?

If you are finding it difficult to write requirements, try sketching things out on paper, screen by screen or use a software tool like Balsalmiq to help you design this. This will help you visualize the pieces of the app from which the requirements will be derived.

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Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Once you have created the requirements list for all the possible features to complete your dream app, it is important to be pragmatic and break out the Minimum Requirements to take your app to market. Time and money are the key factors at play. First Mover Advantage can be a huge factor in app rollout and defining an MVP allows you to get to market quickly while managing your costs.

Phased Approach

Most apps, once distilled, focus on a single concept surrounded by nice to have features that help manage and utilize the concept. Approaching app development using a phased approach has a slew of advantages.

Budget management is the obvious first advantage to a phased approach. If you develop the MVP and take the app to the market, you can often begin generating revenue which can then be reinvested to the features development.

Another advantage of a phased approach is the ability to build to your customers wishes. You can poll your user base, look at comments in the app store and build in the features your customers are asking for. Sometimes this will line up with your original concepts but often times the users will ask for things your team had not even thought of which is a fantastic way to connect with your customer base.

Adding features in a phased approach can also help with user engagement. Users can be notified of new features and that can bring them back into the app on a more steady basis. Many apps struggle to get users to come back to their apps on a regular basis so new features and updates can give users a reason to return.

Summary

Once you have worked your way through the planning process outlined above, you are ready to get started. Think about the business model, define your requirements, decide on an MVP and put a plan in place.  Don’t forget to reach out to your targeted customer base and ask them what features and ideas they want to see implemented in an app.  Most app users are tech savvy and would have some brilliant insight into your plan.  If you follow this simple process you will be ready to sit down with your development team and get the project underway.
If you need help or have questions during your app planning process, contact 14 Oranges.

 

08 Jun

Luis Moscoso

By

WWDC 2015 Day One: Beatlemania for Developers

June 8, 2015 | By |

My first day at WWDC 2015 is over and now is a good time to reflect on a crazy day.

I woke up at 4:45am in order to save a good place in the keynote lineup. I arrived at 6am and the lineup was almost around the block of the Moscone Convention centre. The line started to move on and off throughout the morning and I was inside the convention centre by 7:30am. Apple had breakfast available for the people in line inside the convention centre so I did not have to starve waiting in line before the keynote started.

I managed to get a good seat at the keynote and the atmosphere was electric. The cheers coming from the audience were genuine and developers were very excited that Swift is going to be open sourced later this year. They were also thrilled that newer tools will be introduced to make their lives easier. Apple Music and the news app are not geared towards developers so these features generated the least amount of cheers.

Some people will find WWDC boring because no splashy new feature was announced. The new versions of OS X, iOS, and watchOS are evolutions, not revolutions. The features introduced today will improve user experience, help users keep their old phones longer, and make it easier for developers to produce great apps.  Overall I’d consider that a huge success!

I also attended the Platforms State of the Union event. The event is geared towards developers and it provided more technical information about some of the iOS and watchOS features announced in the keynote. Their session also included live code demonstrations

I am looking forward to the start of the sessions, labs, and events that start tomorrow.

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