All posts by admin

Custom Mobile App Development

Three Important Factors When Developing your Custom Mobile App

Custom Mobile App Development

You have an idea for an app that will elevate or even form the core of your business and now you’re wondering how to go about designing and building it. It’s not easy to pinpoint the blueprint for success in mobile app development though there are some important points you need to think about when you start planning your mobile app.
 

iOS or Android

Which platform is the right one for your app, or more urgent if you’re doing both? This might seem clear as day to you, but there are details to think about that could change your opinion.

If you’re an iOS user among a sea of iOS users, for example, you’re likely to immediately gravitate to Apple’s mobile platform because it’s familiar to you – and maybe seemingly more superior. But this is a false-consensus bias you need to overcome and think about your target audience and market as well as your monetization strategy.

If your target market is, say, South America, Android is the dominant platform in the region and you need to take that into consideration even if iOS might be more preferable for other reasons.

Then there is the monetization strategy. Though iOS apps are generally more profitable and easier to monetize, this is not always the case and you need to do your research on how you will monetize (e.g., paid app vs in-app sales) and which platform provides the best tools to help you achieve your goals. Only extensive research and exposure to both platforms will enable a clear, unbiased decision.

 
Cost

Monetization is important for recouping the cost of mobile app development, but the initial cost is a more immediate concern for your company.

Though mobile app development has become much more accessible in recent years, a cheaper app is still often a poorer app. To achieve solid results, you need to make an investment in a top-notch development team.

One of the first questions that should be asked is if you should even create a native mobile app, or is a web app (basically just a website optimized for mobile devices) enough? Or maybe a hybrid app that tries to offer the best of both worlds, is the best choice for your needs. An experienced development partner can help you make decisions like this, and if you do decide to proceed with your mobile app development with an experienced partner, they will also guide you through issues of monetization to recoup the cost of development. This is crucial as even a solid, high-performing app can fail if the monetization strategy fails.

 
Test for Success

With millions of apps and billions of app downloads across iOS and Android app stores, it’s a crowded marketplace and the difference between success and failure in mobile app development can be razor-thin. Once you have a plan in place, the building begins, and it is far from an exact science. A crucial component of the development is continual testing.

You need to understand where your app fails, learn from poor decisions, and keep improving to plug those holes. An app is never perfect the first time around, so it’s important that you continue to iterate and practice continual testing to have a better chance of achieving success.

Having a mobile app is a boon for your business and remembering these important factors will help make the process smoother, the product better, and the results will transform your business for the better. These are, of course, just three main points out of many, and the intricacies of mobile app development are best left to a team of experts who, together with you and your business team, plan, strategize, build, test, and launch a mobile app that has a chance of market success.

How Much Money Can I Make with an App?

Make Money With an App

If you are just getting into mobile app development or have a really good idea for a mobile app, one of the first questions on your mind must be something like “How much money would my app make?” This is a very reasonable concern as you try to understand if it’s worth the effort to create a new.

There’s a tremendous amount of money in mobile apps, and it keeps growing every year. In the best year yet for mobile, global app revenue grew by 23% in 2018 to more than $71 billion combined on the iOS and Google Play app stores.

What’s important to know is that most of this revenue is earned by a certain type of app while many other apps make no money at all. The disparity between just the top 100 and top 1000 selling apps is vast, and so is the revenue gap between gaming and non-gaming apps. This makes it very hard to pinpoint the revenue generation potential for one app.

While there is a lot to consider in planning your app development, let’s get started by looking at a few main points you should consider.
 
Which Platform?

When you’re choosing your platform, either iOS or Android must be your first choice. While there may be some revenue potential in niche platforms, you should only consider them after your app is making money on one of these two major platforms.

In terms of revenue, Apple’s App Store users spent an estimated $47 billion in 2018 compared to $25 billion spent on Google Play. While this is a huge difference, revenue on Google Play increased more from 2017 to 2018 compared to Apple, so it’s difficult to predict which will outpace the other in the coming years.

Development costs are quite similar between iOS and Android as programmers’ salaries are quite similar. One major cost saving you can benefit from is in building your iOS and Android apps in succession. A seasoned mobile app development team can leverage what’s already been built on the first platform to provide you considerable savings on the second platform.
 
Where’s the Revenue Potential?

While gaming apps dominate the list of top-grossing mobile apps, there is one sales channel that is the clear leader in revenue generation. The good news is that it can be easily adopted by apps from other verticals. I’m talking about in-app purchases.

Most apps, including games, are free to download. They form their revenue from these purchases and subscriptions that are available inside the mobile apps. Actually 98% of all revenue comes from in-app purchases. Great examples of successful mobile apps using this revenue-generation model are Netflix, Tinder, PokemonGo, and Fortnite.

With subscriptions, an app development company is basically selling their app (or its premium features) by way of subscriptions. Like Tinder and Netflix, you can have users choose from multiple tiers based on their needs.
 
Looking Towards Tomorrow

While gaming apps are the biggest earners, mobile gaming’s share of all app revenue for 2018 dropped to 77 percent from 82 percent the previous year as the monetization of non-gaming apps continued to improve. Infotech apps, shopping apps, and utility apps for smart home appliances are examples of mobile apps that have a bright future.

Markets like China and India are also still developing and/or opening up, so they are still far from reaching their potential. Google Play, which does not have a presence in China, is a good example of this future potential. While Google Play’s revenues still lagged behind Apple’s App Store in 2018, it is hard to say if this pattern will continue to hold as Apple already has a presence in China. Google’s expansion into this market could be a game-changer
 
What’s Next?

Atimi is a premium mobile app development company that can help you gain valuable insight into the potential of your app idea, whether it is an enterprise app or a consumer app. Let’s talk more about your app idea!

Mobile Application Development

FIVE TIPS FOR FASTER APPROVAL OF YOUR AUTO-RENEWABLE SUBSCRIPTIONS

img

Auto-renewable subscriptions for iOS provide an easy way for users to subscribe on an ongoing basis to a feature of your app by paying a recurring fee over a set time period (e.g. monthly, yearly).

As an app developer, you can set multiple price tiers for the auto-renewable subscriptions you offer, and by doing so, you can offer subscriptions to multiple customer types. You are, however, limited to the price points set by Apple.

Though auto-renewable subscriptions are here, Apple’s iTunes Connect and the review process isn’t quite there yet in terms elegantly handling this type of in-app purchase. This can lead to some gray hairs for your delivery team as you’ll have to fill in the gaps and search for the information elsewhere.

To keep you from pulling your hair out, here are a few pointers to help you avoid some of the pitfalls that could prevent getting your app and its auto-renewable subscriptions approved quickly by Apple.

 

 

Include Solid Metadata for Each Subscription Tier

iTunes Connect allows and requires developers to enter metadata for each subscription tier when your app offers auto-renewable subscriptions. This information is entered in the In-App Purchases section under the Features tab in iTunes Connect.

If you only have one subscription tier, it’s simple enough. But if you are charging users at various price points for subscriptions (for example, one price for a monthly subscription and another for an annual subscription), make sure you enter all the required information for each tier.

If you have multiple localizations, you also need to enter details for each localization as well, for each subscription tier. To get your app approved, each localization must also be approved.

Further down the same page, you might also want to enter detailed information in the Review Notes for each subscription tier. I’ll talk more about this below (see the Detailed Triggering Information section below for more information).

 

img

 

 

Detailed Triggering Information

It may be clear to you as a developer how your in-app subscription should be triggered, but unless the trigger is so clear that it blocks your users from even beginning to use your app, make sure to enter detailed information on how to trigger a subscription. This means you need to include step-by-step instructions to the reviewing Apple developer to help them navigate the app. Even one minor question by Apple’s reviewer could mean a delay of a day or two to your app’s launch.

Include your instructions both in the Review Notes section of EACH individual subscription tier as well as in the app’s general App Review Information section (under the App Store tab) for maximum visibility. Also add an image attachment, if possible, as it may make things a lot clearer for the Apple reviewer when looking at a reference screenshot while following typed instructions.

 

img

 

This all may feel a bit like overkill, but some reviewers have, in their haste, missed the instructions, so whatever you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen, will ensure that you will get to go live with your app that much faster.

 

Add Pricing Info to the Description Field in the App Store

Each in-app subscription has a price listed for it in the app’s App Store listing, but have you noticed that apps also include summary information about subscription pricing and rules in the App Store listing’s main Description field?

 

img

 

It isn’t clearly stated by Apple that pricing information needs to be included in the Description field, but it may be clearly called out in your rejection if you do not include it. (Speaking from experience here.)

While each subscription is identified in the Information section of an app’s listing in the App Store, Apple seems to want third-party developers to be very clear on the pricing by including it in the Description field, which resides further up on the page.

The Evernote app (app description pictured above) is a good example of how this information is exposed to users in the Description section. The prices of all available subscription tiers are displayed along with additional information on how the subscription behaves in terms of the how the user is charged and how the subscription is renewed.

 

Submit At Least One In-App Purchase for Approval with Your App’s First Version

Make sure to get at least one in-app purchase (i.e. subscription tier) approved with the first approval candidate of your app. Though, ideally, you will want to get all the tiers approved that you want available to customers when the app goes live. This is because EACH subsequent in-app purchase approval request means you need to get the entire app approved as well. Each time Apple reviews an app, it may be done so by a different reviewer so you open yourself up to additional questions that can delay your app’s approval.

 

Do NOT Resubmit Your App for Review if Asked for More Information

If Apple’s reviewing developer is unclear about the behavior of auto-renewable subscriptions in your app, they may place your app to Metadata Rejected state and reach out to you for more information.

What’s misleading is that when your app is in the Metadata Rejected state, the Submit button becomes active. Whatever you do, don’t press it! Leave your app in the current state, and just focus on the questions sent by Apple. As communicated to me by Apple, they only want you to respond to their questions, and once you’ve sent them your answers, Apple’s reviewing developer will change the state back to In Review and will proceed with the review. If you happen to press Submit and resubmit your app, it will be put back at the bottom of the review pile and will delay approval.

Apple continually reviews an endless stream of apps, so everything you can do to make it easier on the Apple reviewer to approve your app will allow you to go live that much faster. I hope this information sheds some light on potential issues, and if you want to learn more about auto-renewable subscriptions, click on this Apple Developer page.

 

Get in touch with us to find out how Atimi Software can help you build a custom, innovative, enterprise app that offers a superior user experience and stands the test of time. All you need to do is give us a call at
778-372-2800.

info@atimi.com

AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) – HOW THIS EMERGING TECHNOLOGY CAN “AUGMENT” THE MOBILE EXPERIENCE

Augmented Reality (AR) is where digital images and characters can be imposed onto the real world through a phone’s screen and have the potential to be meaningful and useful for mobile usage.

Current AR frameworks not only allow app developers to place digital elements onto the real world, they can also bring elements from the real world and place them into the digital world.

By giving phones the ability to determine their position and orientation in a real-world environment (a phone knows where it is and what it is looking at), it gives phones the ability to identify surfaces such as tabletops, countertops, floors, rugs, walls, ceilings, and possibly the palm of a hand, in the real-world environment, and place AR objects including lighting effects on those surfaces.

 

How to Make AR an Indispensable Mobile Experience

First, don’t just retrofit AR onto existing apps; it takes planning and an integrated approach to create a smooth interaction. AR interactions need to be slick, useful, and feel natural, and they need to work well in an app when they are well integrated into the greater app workflow.

 

  • AR specific affordances should be provided to guide people without overwhelming them
  • Don’t overload the user with too many new choices
  • Slow and progressive familiarization, visual clues, and guidance from the app should be used to help the user
  • In designing for AR, designers should leverage size, contrast (including lighting effects) and texture/color to denote hierarchy
  • In AR, size is the most important cue; it’s based on the distance between the phone and the surfaces in the environment, and the objects of interest, so it’s important for the app to understand the scale of the environment and place AR objects/characters to fit the viewing distance in the phone

 

AR interactions (ideally) need to become habitual, performed on a daily (if not hourly) basis.

 

  • To attract the daily attention of the consumer, AR constantly needs to jab people
  • AR is a great form of guerrilla or ambient media interactions, adding value in unexpected situations
  • AR needs to be smart about personalization to attract and keep daily attention, which will eventually help create desire – how did I live without this!
  • Once people decide an AR interaction is indispensable to daily life, they’ll impulsively use it

 

AR interactions need to be monetizable and/or contribute to a brand halo.
 

  • Customer usage data
  • In-app purchases
  • Subscriptions
  • In-App advertising

 

AR can add fun to the Mobile Experience

Standing on the shoulders of Pokémon Go, Snap’s AR filters advanced the fun 3D character experience with animated 3D characters that can be placed into the scene by the user. The placed Snapchat AR character detects the boundaries of objects and surfaces on the screen.

 

 

 

At the past two Worldwide Developers Conferences (WWDC), Apple showed continued commitment to AR by announcing ARKit 2, alongside iOS 12. In addition, Apple will partner with Pixar and Adobe to create a new AR format, to be named the Universal Scene Description file (USDZ). The USDZ format is a zero compression, unencrypted zip archive supported across iOS, so whereever you see an AR icon in iOS, it means that the object is an AR object, and can be experienced in an identical way across iOS apps. Adobe also announced it will have native USDZ support in Creative Cloud suite, allowing designers to build and lay out 3D objects more effectively.

 

Potentially Useful AR Mobile Interactions

There are numerous mobile usage scenarios where well-designed AR has the potential to improve workflow and experience. The following examples represent applications both not yet widely seen but showing good potential for wide usage. The majority of these fall in the category of HUD (heads-up displays) functionality within apps.
 

(1) Providing Directions in Unfamiliar Environments

The following example is a mall app that leverages AR to leave you AR breadcrumbs (your path) to help guide you back to your car in a giant mall parking lot. It is also useful for stadiums, convention centers, outdoor concert venues, and other crowded areas.

 

The following example is a hospital app that could take you to the room you are visiting or to your own appointment – just follow your own line on the floor. AR signage even has the potential to eliminate multilingual physical signage.

 

(2) Hospitality Aids in Unfamiliar Cityscapes
 
This example is a tourism app that all but makes physical signage unnecessary and can also augment the signage in useful ways by essentially creating multilingual physical signage through the phone screen.

 

(3) Providing Organization to a Chaotic Day – Enhancing the Convention Experience
 

AR could transform the experience of attending a convention and elevate it into something far more productive and less stressful. At AR “enabled” locations throughout a convention or conference hall, you can have AR convention guides greet customers, giving them instructions on schedule, events, seminars, demos, catering, hospitality, etc. And with AR paths on the convention floor, an attendee will be able to find a specific session or trade booth far more easily.

The following example is convention center app showing an AR character that provides a guide to presentations along with presenter info; when you pick one, you can follow the AR path to the room.

 

(4) Previewing Body Art or Cosmetic Procedures
 

AR could transform the experience of selecting and placing body art or visualizing the benefits of cosmetic procedures by being able to visualize the effects in 3D.

The following example is a body art app that would let you select a tattoo, and with another person pointing the phone at you, the tat is “placed” on your body to help you preview its appearance. The placing is realistic, taking into consideration the contours of the body.

 

(5) Enhancing the In-Stadium Experience: Roleplay coach while watching sports in real time

Allow in-venue sports fans to be more “involved” and “immersed” in the action on the field in front of them by predicting plays on the phone and seeing if they are right. Sports fans can also engage in sports betting by calling a play that is about to happen.

The following example shows a fan in his seat at an NFL stadium, pointing the phone at the play on the field and picking what he thinks will the next offensive formation. The AR positions and routes appear under players on the field, and as the play starts on the field, the AR positions move with the players. If the actual play matches the prediction, the fan is rewarded.

 

(6) Wedding Planning

 
Helps people envision their wedding venue and try out the desired layout.

This could be done by walking around a wedding venue and placing 3D models of various wedding related items (including the cake) on the phone screen to see how they look or to discover their ideal placement.

The following is a wedding planning app screen that shows an AR wedding cake on a dressed table, placed in the center of a wedding hall at which the phone is pointing. The screen also shows AR models of the cake’s and table’s placement, which can be manipulated by the user.

 

(7) Data Visualization
 
3D AR data visualization can be used on the phone to help envision problems and/or opportunities by overlaying data over a real-world environment.

This is a sample of a real estate app screen that displays AR data sets placed throughout a city view on a phone screen, relying on images taken by a drone. The 3D AR data shows approximate building height based on available air rights.

 

And the following is a crime statistics app showing locations of crimes, placed throughout a city view, on a phone screen, relying on images taken by a drone.

 

Another version of this scenario is of a data visualization app for meetings and presentations showing AR 3D data models hovering on top of paper charts.

 

To Wrap Up

AR interactions in apps need to be slick, useful, and feel natural in the environment as seen through the screen. As seen in the initial apps Apple highlighted to showcase AR in iOS11, smooth AR interactions that feel integral to the workflow of the app will add the most value and will be embraced.

 

Really clear affordances should be provided to guide people in applying AR interactions without overwhelming people. In designing for AR, designers should leverage size, contrast (including lighting effects) and texture/color to denote hierarchy, but size is the most important cue.

AR app features will succeed if there’s something short, useful, and memorable that grabs the app user and it’s something that grabs people in a way that makes them want more.

Get in touch with us to find out how Atimi Software can help you build a custom, innovative, enterprise app that offers a superior AR user experience.

 

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

Mobile Application Development

THE ROLES OF A MOBILE APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT TEAM

img

With over 5 billion mobile users across the globe, there can’t be a better time than now for you to start considering mobile application development. However, before you start developing mobile applications for your business or brand, it is important for you to understand that mobile application development is a comprehensive process that requires a lot of people to work harmoniously and be on the same page to deliver a quality mobile application.

Below, we’re letting you in on the roles and responsibilities of the different people that will be involved in the development process to help you understand the team that you’re supposed to be looking for when you think of developing mobile applications for your business or brand.

The Perfect Mobile Application Development Team

As mentioned earlier, a lot of people need to work together and be on the same page at all times if you’re interested in crafting a product or application the likes of which has never been seen before.

Here are some of the positions that are important for a promising mobile application development team.

Project Manager

While all members of the team are extremely important to create a successful and impeccable mobile application, it would not be incorrect to say that the responsibility of streamlining the entire process from start to finish is on the shoulders of the project manager.

The project manager of any mobile application development team is not only responsible for delivering on the requirements of the client, but it is also essential for the product manager to ensure that the entire team has the same vision regarding the application or software that is being developed.Managing and preventing roadblocks in communication, too, is one of the responsibilities of the project manager who is often also referred to as the team leader.

UX Designer

The user interface is one of the most important parts of any mobile application and a user friendly interface is almost synonymous to a great application. A designer will not only be able to help you with an impeccable interface, but also with aspects related to branding and marketing, and other important tasks like the creation of the logo for the application.

Technical Writer/Business Analyst

Technical documentation, in the case of mobile app development, is the road map, the steps your team will follow to create the app. It includes a business logic, the apps purpose, product manual, steps involved in the development, marketing research, information about the technology being used, the kind of testing you are doing, the time-line, and the budget. It acts as a resource for the development team as well as the manager. Without the road-map, you have to rely on the skills of the developer who skills typically do not include technical writing or business analysis.

Developer

As you might have guessed, the technicalities of the application are the responsibility of the developer. With that said, there is rarely anyone who does as much work as the developer in the creation of a great mobile application. A developer is not only responsible for writing great code, but also for ensuring that the application continues to work seamlessly even after it has been launched.

QA Tester

Quality Assurance testing is extremely important in the app development process. QA’s primary role is to search for bugs and make sure that they are eliminated. Quality Assurance testers aim at preventing errors and bugs and are constantly improving the process. QA is responsible for training, setting standards, reviewing quality and selecting tools.

Interested in creating high quality mobile applications? We can help! At Atimi, we have professional teams of developers, QA testers, designers, technical writers and project managers that can help you create your application – all without going through the hassle of finding the right people to hire!

With our affordable high quality outsourcing and staff augmentation services, you’ll never have to shy away from or be intimidated by the process of launching an application for your brand or business. All you need to do is give us a call at
778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

img

FLOW: PRIORITY ONE FOR MOBILE INTERACTION DESIGN

img

Find out more about 5G

Find out more about IEEE and High Speed Wireless

Find out more about the sublime Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Find out more about Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book on FLOW

Find out more about the magnificent Bill Moggridge

Find out more about AIDA (Attention, Interest, Decision, Action)

Get in touch with us to find out how Atimi Software can help you build a custom, innovative, enterprise app that offers a superior user experience and stands the test of time.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

img

AUTOMATION WITH VISUAL RECOGNITION

img

Automation is not a new topic, with most software development QA teams employing its use in one way or another. There is also no lack of tools to choose from.

On desktop, there are the ever popular Selenium and the HP backed HP – UFT (formerly QTP). For mobile, Appium and MonkeyTalk are among the more frequently used solutions.

All of these tools are fine choices for functional and data driven tests due to their object-oriented nature. However, in my experience, there is one type of automation that is seldom mentioned, visual based testing using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology.

What is Visual Automation?

Visual automation relies on the appearance of on-screen elements to perform an action. This is different from traditional automation, which relies on the occurrence of elements in the background resources. To accomplish this, a set of pre-defined or determined visual images and/or transitions are stored. Scripts are written to compare the stored images to the current screen appearance in a set sequence to ensure the application is running through the expected on-screen transitions.

Actions can also be scripted in response to on-screen changes. For example, the tools would check for the appearance of a login screen and compare its appearance to the expected result. If the screen matches the expected result, the tool would fill in the user name and password fields by mimicking mouse clicks and keyboard strokes.

Visual automation tools not only watch the screen for the appearance of specific elements but they can also act on element transitions, the disappearance of elements, or elapsed time. Actions against these on-screen elements mimic human actions. The tools can attempt to perform functions such as clicking, double-clicking, dragging and dropping, filling forms, etc.

The range of action is at the full extent of what humans can do. There are several tools currently available to perform visual automation, including Squish and my favorite, Sikuli.

Why Visual Automation?

Visual automation acts much closer to human behavior than object-oriented automation tools. The actions and reactions are only based on visual stimuli to which humans can react. This allows testing to be conducted in a way that is much closer to the human experience than any other type of automation. Consider the following examples:

In the case above, a real human end user would have issues with the page but automated tools would have no trouble finding the login button as long as only the front-end graphic is missing.

The above test would pass when using object-oriented automation where the tool is used to find if an element exists without considering its proper placement whereas if visual automation is utilized, the defect would be properly identified.

The above scenarios are only a couple examples from a long list of scenarios where an automation tool that behaves similarly to a human user would be more useful

Another advantage of an OCR-based automation tool is that it is not bound to an application while some other tools have limited access or even no access to the system outside of the application being tested. Visual automation tools can watch the entire screen for any change regardless of source. This way, it is possible to launch multiple unrelated applications and watch for their interactions. It is also possible, if one were to be inclined to do so, to launch a virtual machine and then launch multiple applications within it, with all of them under the control of a single automation tool. It can be quite powerful under the right circumstances.

The Case Against Visual Automation Tools

Visual automation also has some glaring disadvantages. If it didn’t, it would be much more widespread.

Firstly, it is not well suited for repetitive fast-paced testing. This is typical in a stress test scenario. Due to the nature of human user mimicry, this automation waits for the application to fully load and respond before proceeding. Therefore, testing time is usually much longer than with object-oriented automation. As a secondary effect of this, visual automation is also ill-suite for fast data verification. It is possible to run through a set of data (possibly stored in a spreadsheet or csv) but it would be much more time consuming than with object-oriented automation tools.

Secondly, it can’t handle multiple instances of the same application being tested. This type of automation watches the monitor for predetermined screens to show up. If multiple instances of the same or even similar screens appear at the same time, it can quickly become confusing. This is an unfortunate side effect of the ability to watch the entire system screen rather than just the single application.

Lastly and maybe most importantly, there is potentially a higher maintenance cost. Due to the fact that expected results need to be stored and updated, there would be a much higher human involvement in the maintenance of the comparison banks. Every change to the visual look would require capturing and restoring the new expected result. Even a change in transition would require script updates. Now, of course, the usual tricks of modulation and function extractions would work but this only reduces labor without eliminating it.

Opening New Doors

In the world of automation, visual automation (OCR-based) tools are often overlooked even though there are plenty of scenarios where they could offer a superior solution. By their nature of behaving closer to human end users, they can catch errors that would be overlooked by object-oriented tools. Having system wide influence can also open new doors in automation.

Yes, there are indeed several glaring shortcomings in visual automation, as I mentioned above, but I’m not saying other tools are not needed or that any tool should be used in exclusivity. For any serious automation of testing, a QA manager should evaluate all available tools and utilize any and all tools to their strengths. I just don’t want you to miss out on OCR tools and the advantages they offer.

Get in touch with us to find out how Atimi Software can help you build a custom, innovative, enterprise app that offers a superior user experience and stands the test of time.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

IOS DYNAMIC TYPE IS IMPORTANT (AND ABOUT TO BECOME MORE SO)

img

Dynamic Type is not new. It has been around since iOS 7, but its adoption by applications has been somewhat patchy – until now. With iOS 11, Apple is making significant improvements to the feature that should lead to wide scale adoption. This article goes through these changes and considers how they will impact good app design and implementation.

What is Dynamic Type?

iOS has always included great support for text. The OS has dozens of high quality, scalable fonts and a sophisticated text rendering engine. Designers and developers have been able to leverage this rich feature set to produce attractive and functional UIs.

However, with a small screen, UI design is always a compromise between fitting content into the view and readability. And as the size of readable text varies from person to person, what works for one may be unusable for another. Text-heavy applications (such as news readers) might offer a text size setting but as such features need to be coded manually, most applications just don’t warrant the effort.

To solve this issue, Apple introduced Dynamic Type in iOS 7. It allows designers to utilize a set of seven (later increased to ten) text styles when selecting fonts. These styles are then mapped to different fonts and sizes according to the user’s text size setting. With Dynamic Type, any application can be responsive to the user’s size preference, which improves the experience for a broader range of users.

Dynamic Type supports seven size settings, allowing a significant variation in font size. For example, Body text style is 17pt at the default setting but ranges from 14pt to 23pt. However, this is not the limit as iOS includes an accessibility setting that adds five larger sizes, all the way up to 53pt for body text. (Note that, at present time, only body text size changes in the accessibility sizes – this will change in iOS 11.)

This flexibility comes with its own challenges. The dynamic range of body text is roughly 4:1, making even short sentences span multiple lines. Static layouts clearly will not function with Dynamic Text. Fortunately, Auto Layout will handle most of the heavy lifting, allowing the UI to adjust layout without the need for code.

Nevertheless, not all layout issues can be solved with Auto Layout alone. Also, retrofitting Dynamic Type into an existing application (particularly if it includes manual layout code) can be difficult. Finally, adopting Dynamic Type means abandoning the other OS-supplied fonts, not to mention custom fonts; not an easy choice for designers seeking a distinctive look.

These challenges have led many apps to be slow to adopt Dynamic Type, or to do so in a naive fashion, resulting in broken UIs, particularly for the larger settings.

However, all this should be about to change…

What is Coming in iOS 11?

At this year’s WWDC, Apple announced several improvements to Dynamic Type for iOS 11 that will have a big impact on the rate and cost of its adoption.

Perhaps the most significant is the ability to use other fonts with Dynamic Type. This allows designers effectively to redefine the text style palette (including typeface and point size) and the system will automatically scale them according to the user’s text size.

To understand the impact of this, just consider an educational application that wants to use Chalkboard SE (one of the standard iOS fonts) as its main typeface. Previously that would rule out Dynamic Type. In iOS 11, not only is this possible, but the designer could decide that the text should be slightly bigger (18pt, say, for body text) to look clearer with the handwriting typeface – and the fonts will still scale appropriately at other text sizes.

It also becomes easier to update existing UIs for Dynamic Text. Auto Layout gets the ability to adjust vertical spacing according to text size so text doesn’t get cramped at larger sizes. And for manual layout code, it is possible to scale pixel distances according to text size for similar effect.

Images can also scale to allow icons to be more visible in large accessibility text sizes. UIKit is even capable of keeping icons in vector form to avoid pixelation issues.

Beyond this, there is improved layout tuning as the text size is being made available as part of UITraitCollection, which is the standard way to track other factors affecting layout.

One final change is that now all text styles change point size with accessibility. This will greatly improve the reading experience for low-vision users as all text, not just body text, will scale. It also impacts design thinking as it means much more variation in content size.

What Does Apple Say?

Perhaps more important than the technical improvements to Dynamic Type is the push by Apple to promote accessibility in iOS 11. This includes applying “design for everyone” principles to the applications and utilities that ship with the OS. Amongst these principles are three goals for the use of text.

1. Text should be large enough for the user to read. (In other words, text should scale with Dynamic Type.)

2. Text should be fully readable. It shouldn’t be truncated unnecessarily and it shouldn’t be overlapped or clipping.

3. An app’s UI should look beautiful at all text sizes.

Achieving these goals requires UIs to be more adaptive than simply allowing text to grow. For example, table cell content is often organized horizontally with an image or icon on the leading side and text label trailing. This looks great for regular text sizes but the larger accessibility fonts lead to the label looking cramped (even to the extent of long words being broken across multiple lines) while the icon sits in a large vertical whitespace. Switching to a vertical layout with the icon above the text maximizes the horizontal space for the text while fitting more content onscreen.

In other situations, accommodating larger fonts may mean reordering vertical content to ensure that action buttons don’t get pushed down by multiline text, reorganizing tool buttons into multiple rows, or hiding ancillary content to make room for important text.

None of these adaptive designs come for free but Apple makes the point that they are worth it to deliver a great experience for everybody. And by delivering such an experience within the system applications, Apple is raising the bar for third-party apps. With iOS 11, users will be more willing to enable accessibility features to improve ease of use, and apps that fail to support Dynamic Type well will ultimately lose out to those that do.

Get in touch with us to find out how Atimi Software can help you build a custom, innovative, enterprise app that offers a superior user experience and stands the test of time.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

6 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING A MOBILE STRATEGY FOR YOUR APP

img

Here’s a hard truth that most app developers don’t want to hear: the majority of the millions of apps available for download in app stores today are never going to find success. The fact is, the app market is overloaded with apps that don’t provide enough value to the end user and they are outperformed by their competitors.

To avoid ending up in the pile of apps that never did and never will succeed, it’s paramount that you have a concrete mobile strategy in place before launching your app. Whether your app is consumer or employee facing, we’ve come up with some helpful tips for building a winning mobile strategy that’s sure to help your app succeed.

1. Determine Your Goals

As with all strategies in business, the first step in building an app mobile strategy is to define your goals and objectives. Before you start planning for app development, come up with a wish list for what you want your app to have and why – if you don’t have the “why” piece, you won’t be creating an app that makes sense for your enterprise.

Here are some questions to get you started:

a. Why are you building an app?

b. Who is your app for (customers or employees)?

c. Is your app going to improve the lives of others and how will it do that (for instance, will it enhance your employees’ productivity or entertain consumers and if so, how)?

Be sure to look for an app development company that will help you define your goals and build a sustainable mobile strategy. For instance, the first step in Atimi’s process is to work closely with you to create an app blueprint that’s tailored to your needs. We know the right questions to ask to get our clients thinking through the fine details that separate the outstanding apps from the merely good apps.

2. Do Your Homework

Another key element in any successful mobile strategy is research. In order to understand what your users are looking for in an app and demonstrate why they should choose your app over others, you must have done some research on your competitors (if consumer facing) and users. Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll be in a better position to build an app that your users will enjoy.

3. Define Your Monetization Plans

There are several ways in which you can monetize your consumer app. Let’s run through three of the most popular options:

A. In-App Ads (Free With Advertising)

As App Developer Magazine stated in a recent article, “Ads can prove to be a successful option if you collect data about your customers because you have the opportunity to show them highly-targeted ads”. Targeting is what makes in-app ads so appealing to advertisers, so if you opt to go this route, be sure to have a plan for how you’ll track your users’ data. For instance, your app could utilize a device’s GPS so that relevant ads can be shown to users based on their location.

Alternatively, your app signup form might include demographic and psychographic information such as gender, age, geographic region, and interests. If you can collect meaningful user data, you’ll attract marketers with advertising dollars to spend. As a testament to this type of advertising, a recent study found that in-app advertising grew by 66% in the US last year to $21 billion and is expected to increase to $35 billion in the coming years. This explosive growth in ad spend is promising for app developers everywhere.

One thing to be mindful of when venturing into in-app ad monetization is that you must always respect your users’ privacy and put them first. As premium ad platform, Jun Group, was quoted saying in a recent Appticle blog post, “The best practice continues to be to ask audiences before gathering, storing and using their mobile data. Let consumers opt-in to a better ad experience, but if they do not want to be tracked or have their data used, publishers and advertiser should respect that.” We couldn’t agree more.

B. Paid App (Free With Advertising)

Paid apps are exactly what you might have thought they were: apps that users must buy in order to download and use. Keep in mind that if you’re going to charge for your app, you must ensure that your app is better than any other free app that’s similar to yours. This is why we research our target users and competitors – to find our competitive edge! There are millions of apps available for download, so you must convey that your app is worth the purchase and prove it once users have downloaded it (this will increase app downloads, engagement, and drive positive app store reviews).

C. Freemium

This popular monetization model offers users a free app download along with some limited free features. To get access to additional features and content, users are required to make an in-app purchase/upgrade. This model is often used for gaming and media apps that hook users with great free features and content and then persuades them to make an upgrade to access deeper or exclusive content and features through a purchase. Apple notes, “While freemium apps are very popular, this model isn’t appropriate for every app. Successful freemium apps operate as services that are continuously supported, often requiring sustained content development to retain users.” So, if you’re planning on going this route, understand that your team will need to have the capacity to frequently produce and publish new content in order to persuade users to buy an upgrade and keep them coming back for more.

D. In-App Purchases

This is a great way to add a new revenue stream to your business. Specifically, if you already sell products and services on your website or in a physical location, creating an app that makes it even more convenient for your customers to shop with you might be a viable option to consider.

Other popular app monetization methods include app sponsorships, subscriptions, along with strategic partnerships and affiliations (we’ll cover these in a future article).

4. Define What Success Looks Like

Once you’ve outlined your objectives and monetization plan, you should define how you’ll track and measure your app’s success. One of the many wonderful aspects of owning an app is that you have the opportunity to gather meaningful user insights and analytics. To attain such data, ensure that your app developer has a plan to track user behaviour. Some key performance indicators you may find useful (depending on your goals) include app engagement (such as time spent in-app), average daily active users (DAU) and average monthly active users (MAU), purchases, installs, subscriptions, conversion rate, and more. You should also monitor user reviews in App Stores – doing so can help you stay in-tune with your user base and discover how to improve your app over time.

5. Consider Future Releases

So, you’ve done your research and defined your goals and monetization plan, now it’s time to consider what the future of your app looks like. Releasing version 1.0 of your app is nothing short of exciting, but even more compelling is the future plans you have. Like most things in business, apps need to change over time to evolve and improve with shifting consumer (or employee) trends, technology and competitors. To build an app that keeps users engaged, you should create an app roadmap that encompasses your future releases. Business Insider notes that more frequent updates are typically associated with higher app user ratings. This can be attributed to several factors, including app improvements such as added features and bug fixes. Further, since users receive push notifications about each app update, apps that are updated more often will benefit from increased top-of-mind awareness.

6. Put User Experience First

As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, 6 Reasons Your Enterprise Mobile App Needs Quality Assurance Testing, if you want consumers or employees to actually use your app, it’s key to make user experience a top priority. Your brand image – both in the eyes of your employees and consumers—is at stake every time you build a new app or release an update, so be sure that you’ve hired the right mobile app development partner. This partner or agency should be experienced at building best-in-breed apps across platforms and devices that provide a seamless user experience (UX) and interface (UI). You can learn more about choosing the right mobile app development partner in this Atimi blog post.

Now that you have a feel for what your app mobile strategy might look like, get in touch with us – we’d be happy to help you solidify your mobile strategy and build an app that your users will love.

Feel free to give us a call. We’re always happy to chat.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

5 MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2017

img

With the New Year in full swing, it’s a good time to reflect on last year’s advancements in mobile technology and look at what’s in store for app development in 2017. Here’s our list of the top app dev trends to watch this year.

1. Security

As more organizations instate “bring your own device” or “BYOD” policies, you can bet that enterprise app hacks will occur more frequently. This can be attributed to employees using the same device for both personal and business use, which tends to pose vast security risks to organizations and their data. As one Security Innovation Europe article states, “employees are putting their organisation’s data at risk if they adopt poor security practices in their own time.” For instance, one of the most prevalent security threats occurs when employees access unsecure Wi-Fi connections in places such as airports and shopping malls. By using corporate devices and apps while connected to these unsecure servers, employees may unwittingly share their login credentials with strangers. Additionally, they could be sharing the documents they’re working on along with content their viewing on websites and more – all of which may provide hackers access to highly confidential corporate information.

While cyber crime is on the rise, you can protect yourself and your company data by ensuring that the enterprise app development partner you choose offers stringent risk management policies and procedures, as well as built-in app security features.

If you aren’t sure where to start when building an app, check out our article on outsourcing mobile app development.

2. The Internet of Things

With the continued explosive growth of the Internet of Things or IoT (devices that connect to the internet such as smart watches and smart home items like Nest), apps that can connect to IoT devices are sure to be popular in 2017.

If you’re thinking about creating an enterprise mobile app, you may want to consider building one that can connect to IoT devices, for instance, employee activity trackers or smart watches. Connecting your enterprise app to IoT devices that employees and vendors use is a great way to boost app adoption and engagement.

Not only will we see more mobile apps connecting to IoT this year, it’s a trend that will continue growing for the foreseeable future. One Gartner study recently estimated that the number of connected things in use in 2016 was 6.4 billion – and that number will reach 20.8 billion by 2020.

Source

3. Augmented Reality

With the incredible success of the Pokémon Go app – the most downloaded iOS app in 2016 — businesses everywhere have taken notice and are looking at how they can cash in on the augmented reality (AR) mobile app trend. One of the reasons that Pokémon Go and other AR apps have done so well can be attributed to their highly interactive user experience. As one Forbes tech contributor recently stated in an article, “The mainstream shift toward AR and VR provides new ways to connect with customers and offer unique, memorable interactions.” This couldn’t be truer. As more companies gain momentum with AR apps, others are sure to follow. AR is a hot trend to watch in 2017 and you can be sure that Atimi Software will be there to help you navigate the AR enterprise app space.

4. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality (VR) headsets, like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR – both of which launched last year – have kick-started a new era of mobile app innovation. From healthcare to national defense, retail and beyond, VR is continuing to grow in popularity and will certainly be a space where more enterprise mobile apps can and will thrive. The booming consumer interest in the immersive experience that VR provides along with the fast-growing number of VR headsets available means that there’s plenty of opportunities for VR apps to flourish.

Source

5. Automation

From Google’s self-driving cars to Facebook’s chatbots, automation is a growing trend that experts suggest is here to stay. As Wealth Daily recently explained, “while automated technology has already begun to creep into our daily lives, what we see today is nothing compared to what the future holds…Investors will specifically want to look for the companies taking advantage of this technology, the companies providing it, and the supply chains that support it all.” This is because automation saves companies and individuals time and money.

Source

This year and in the years after, you can expect to see enterprises creating more intelligent chatbots that help with onboarding employees – reducing the financial and time costs associated with hiring and training. Further, the World Economic Forum predicts that “automation of checkout processes and smart inventory management through sensors and other applications of the Internet of Things” will lead to a reduced demand for traditional sales-related roles. Suffice to say that automation is here to stay – it isn’t just a trend. This disruptive technology is and will continue to change the way we work, live, and interact with companies and brands. It’s a space that we at Atimi see as having endless opportunities for enterprise apps.

Now that you know the top five enterprise mobile app trends to watch this year, you’re in a better position to build an enterprise app that’s both relevant and engaging.

Get in touch with us to find out how Atimi Software can help you build a custom, innovative, enterprise app that offers a superior user experience and stands the test of time.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

OPTIMIZING DEVICE FRAGMENTATION TESTING

img

There are a number of issues that are regularly cited as the main problems with testing mobile apps: fragmentation of devices/manufacturers, OS versions, networks (changing connection types and speeds), usability, testing tools, automation and security. Whilst some are complex and require skilled and experienced testers, some of these can be overcome with a bit of knowledge of mobile apps and a good plan. I want to talk about one specifically and offer the benefit of our experience.

The fragmentation of the device market, especially Android (although more recently the iOS family has grown as well!), is overwhelming. You can find infographics that will graphically display the overabundance of devices. How can you test all these devices, and if not, how do you choose a reasonable set of devices to test?

For the purposes of this article I will focus on Android devices, and I am not considering OS version. The principles are the same whatever the platform is.

1. Factors

There are a number of key factors that we will need to consider:

* Screen size and screen resolution

* Device manufacturer

* Carrier

* Processor chipset

* Memory

* User demographics

* App design

Firstly, lets get rid of the least important ones starting with device manufacturer and carrier as these have very little impact on the performance of the app; we find very few issues that are specific to either of these factors. And you can cover a number of different manufacturers when making your device selections anyway.

Processor chipset and memory will affect the performance and that is why you need to consider app design. If your app is primarily downloading content from a web service and displaying it in a simple UI, the biggest influences on performance are network bandwidth and web service performance. The device performance will not have a significant impact. If your app is a UI heavy game, then you will need to test on high-end and low-end devices.

The profile of the expected users of your app will also have an influence: are you expecting affluent, low-cost, or a wide range of users. And then you may not have that information to be able to make a choice based on this factor.

Screen size and resolution are the biggest factors for most consumer apps. This also includes aspect ratio and portrait/landscape rotation. Designing your UI to work across the range of possibilities effectively whilst maximizing the appeal of your design is a challenge. The size and position of buttons and other user input controls, dynamically resizing UI controls and text, and scrolling and zooming controls are just some of the issues that you need to test for.

2. Selection Method

One of the most useful pieces of information you can have for selecting your set of devices is usage data. The volume of sales for each device is interesting but far more useful is, what devices are being used with apps that are similar to yours. If you have a mobile-friendly website that is being used by a similar group of users to those you expect to use your app, you can look at the profile of devices from that. If not, there are a few places that publish usage data by device type. You can look at those and decide whether they are close enough to your app. This will give you a long list, with each device type probably only accounting for a few percent of the traffic.
Next you need to find the screen size and resolution for each one – this may take a while first time round. Then if you are repeating the exercise every quarter, the number of new devices that will appear in your list will be relatively small. Once you have the screen size and resolutions, you will see that the devices will start to fall into groups. You can then select a single device from each group to represent that group.

How do you select which device represents each group? You then consider the following factors:

User profile – If you have a specific target group of users, does this affect your selection based on the price of devices? (Make sure your original list of devices was relevant to the geographical area you are considering.)

App performance – Is there an aspect of the app that will be affected by the processor, graphics chip, or memory? If so, select from high and lower performing devices.

Manufacturer – Select from a range of manufacturers.

And finally, pick devices you want to test. If there is a device that has just been released so it won’t appear on historical usage stats and despite that it is interesting to you, pick it. I’ll talk in the test planning section below about how you can test additional devices without significant extra effort.

3. Test Planning

Let us create an imaginary test suite that is 40% functional tests, 10% performance tests, and 50% UI tests. You have selected six devices to test. One approach you can take to avoid running every test on every device is to spread the functional tests across all six devices, running each test only once per cycle of testing. In subsequent test cycles, you can swap the devices used for a test to gain more coverage.
The UI tests can then be split into two sets: those that are unlikely to be affected by screen size/resolution and those that will. Again, you can spread the first set of tests across all six devices. You are then left with only the UI tests affected by screen size/resolution that you need to run on all devices. If you have performance issues for the app, then you would run the performance tests on the highest and lowest performing devices.
With this risk based approach, you can reduce the amount of testing from all tests on all devices by 60%.

4. Conclusion

Device fragmentation can be daunting when you first consider it. However, with careful consideration of the parameters of your app and your target audience, and systematic analysis of the available devices, you can achieve wide coverage without an excessive increase in testing effort. Or you can engage Atimi’s QA team and we will work with you to create and execute the optimum test suite.

Get in touch with us to find out how Atimi Software can help you build a custom, innovative, enterprise app that offers a superior user experience and stands the test of time.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

5 REASONS TO OUTSOURCE YOUR MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT

img

From harnessing the power of big data to adding a new stream of revenue to your business, there are hundreds of reasons why you may have decided to build an enterprise mobile app for your brand. Now that you’ve determined that a custom mobile app makes sense for your business, it’s time to select an avenue for building it.

There are two ways in which you can go about developing your mobile enterprise app: you can outsource your development (have someone or an agency build it) or insource it (have an in-house app developer or a team of them build it).

With each of these options comes a list of pros and cons but to keep it simple we’ve put together a list of the top reasons why you should outsource your mobile app development to a third party agency.

1. Speed up development time

Mobile app development agencies such as Atimi specialize in mobile app development. They are highly motivated, experienced in developing custom apps for various types of clients across platforms such as Android and iOS, and they have the know-how to work efficiently and effectively.

On the contrary, an in-house developer may not be as experienced as developers at an agency and, as a result, may take longer to create your app and later find and fix bugs. In addition to a lack of experience, in-house developers often have competing priorities and daily tasks outside of building your mobile app. This can further reduce the time it takes to launch your app.

Hiring an outsourced app development partner can be extremely cost effective in terms of time and money since they’re well-versed in the app development space and their sole focus will be your project, so in the long run you’ll be better off outsourcing all or at least part of your app development.

2. Save on hidden costs

While insourcing your app development team may appear to cost less on paper than outsourcing to an agency, when you add in hiring expenses plus training (not to mention employee benefits), the cost of time (typically, in-house teams can’t complete projects as quickly as a dedicated, specialized agency), the cost of developing in-house can quickly escalate. This is why outsourcing often proves to make more sense financially – the hidden costs associated with hiring in-house developers simply do not exist when working with a third party.

3. Maintain control over your app

It’s a common myth that outsourcing your app development limits the control you’ll have over your app. In reality, this is not the case. As Rahul Varshneya states, “The trick is to set up systems that work efficiently and create a process of delivery and communication. Create a weekly sprint to review direction of the project. Have a daily stand up on what is expected as tasks of the day and review the previous day. Document everything in emails.” In short, if you communicate well with your chosen app development partner, you won’t lose any control.

4. Higher productivity

If you insource your mobile app development, you can expect your developers to have a thousand other projects on the go. Further, your developers may not be interested in mundane post-launch maintenance tasks such as updating for new iOS and Android versions, bug fixes and so on. This could result in a lack of motivation to maintain the app, causing slower app version releases, code error oversights and more.

Alternatively, when you outsource an app development company such as Atimi, you can rest assured that they’ll be highly engaged and motivated as their job is to cater to you. Your app’s success is their success. When your mobile app developer (or in this case, app development partner) is motivated, they will be far more productive. Again, let the specialists handle the large and mundane tasks – we at Atimi love everything about what we do, which is why we’ve developed hundreds of premium apps for some of the largest brands in North America.

5. Keep peace of mind – you’ve hired experts

Hiring a third party app development partner means you get to have peace of mind in knowing that your app is being built by experts you can trust. Speaking from an app development agency standpoint, we at Atimi understand the ins and outs of app development across multiple platforms and devices. We are experts at what we do and can help create your dream app complete with a solid user experience and seamless user interface – all on time and on budget. The bottom line: let the app specialists handle the app development so that you can focus on other areas of your business.

Now you’ve discovered the benefits of outsourcing your app development to a third-party agency, but whether your development choice is to insource or outsource, look no further than Atimi Software. Based in Vancouver, BC, we are a full-service mobile app development firm. We offer custom engagement that includes 100% outsourcing, or insourcing support where we can work alongside your team to make them stronger and more efficient. Atimi can consult on your complete mobile strategy that includes project management, user retention as well as mobile app monetization.

Interested to learn more about how we can help you create your enterprise mobile app? Feel free to give us a call. We’re always happy to chat.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

CAP HEIGHT ALIGNMENT FOR IOS AUTO LAYOUT

img

Many times graphic designs include the need to align text vertically at cap height (the top of the capitals) and baseline. For example, someone displaying a list of news articles might want to align the cap height of each article title and the baseline of the associated description with the thumbnail image (as shown in the figure below). iOS Auto Layout already supports baseline alignment for vertical (as well as horizontal) layout, but there is no built-in mechanism to deal with cap height. This article will show you how this can be done with a simple subclass of UILabel.

A Short lesson in iOS Typography

Before getting into implementation, let’s just run through the terminology that will be needed. The figure below is taken from Apple’s Text Programming Guide for iOS and shows the various vertical measures used in layout.

The important terms (along with their UIFont property names) for this discussion are:

• Line height (lineHeight) is the distance from one line of text to the next;

• Baseline is the vertical origin of the text, that is, the line upon which the characters stand;

• Ascent(ascender) is the distance from the baseline to the top of the text cell (including space for accents and the like);

• Descent(descender) is the distance below the baseline to the bottom of the text cell;

• Cap height(capHeight) is the distance from the baseline to the top of the capital letters.

Because of the additional space for accents and the like, a font’s ascent is typically higher than its cap height. Therefore, even when a UILabel (or other text view) is sized to hug its content, it will still have a gap between the top of the view and the top of the text.

Curiously, the diagram shows space below the descent for line gap (leading), but there is no corresponding property in UIFont—there is a “leading” property, but it is synonymous with the line height property. Having surveyed all the fonts currently available on iOS, the line gap appears to be universally zero and so will be ignored for the rest of this discussion.

Changing the Meaning of “Top”

It may come as a surprise, but when Auto Layout does alignment it does so against a view’s alignment rectangle and not simply its edges. By default, this alignment rectangle is the same as the view’s frame, but it can be different. For example, suppose a view displays an image within some custom border. It may be more appropriate to align layout against the image and not include the border.

We can use this feature on the labels for which we want cap height alignment. UIView defines a number of methods that can be used, but the simplest is alignment RectInsets, which returns a UIEdgeInsets specifying the insets of the content with respect to the frame. The default implementation returns UIEdgeInsets.zero but if we subclass UILabel we can override it as follows:

override var alignmentRectInsets: UIEdgeInsets {
var insets = UIEdgeInsets.zero
insets.top = round(font.ascender – font.capHeight)
return insets
}

This simply defines the top margin to be the gap between the ascender and the cap height of the label’s font, causing Auto Layout to shift the meaning of “top alignment” into the view so it rests on the cap height instead.

This is all that is needed for basic functionality. Wherever cap alignment is required, just replace the UILabel with its subclass and Auto Layout top alignment will align with cap height instead—well, approximately so; see below for a more accurate calculation of cap height positioning.

This simply defines the top margin to be the gap between the ascender and the cap height of the label’s font, causing Auto Layout to shift the meaning of “top alignment” into the view so it rests on the cap height instead.

Of course, having to switch the class of the label whenever we want to change alignment could get annoying, particularly if a graphic design requires a dynamic switching from top to cap height. To support this, we can introduce a boolean property (alignCapHeight) to control the type of alignment. Our revised alignment RectInsets now looks like:

override var alignmentRectInsets: UIEdgeInsets {
var insets = UIEdgeInsets.zero
if alignCapHeight {
insets.top = round(font.ascender – font.capHeight)
}
return insets
}

As the alignment method is only called during layout, we also need to ensure that Auto Layout is rerun whenever the property changes:

var alignCapHeight: Bool = false {
didSet {
setNeedsUpdateConstraints()
}
}

Working With IB

Great, but wouldn’t it be nice if the new vertical alignment showed up in IB? Well, that’s easily fixed: just add the @IBDesignable designation to the class definition as follows:

@IBDesignable
class CapHeightLabel: UILabel {

}

This tells IB that the class will co-operate with it to display correctly. In our case, this just means that IB will instantiate the label object and execute the alignmentRectInsets method so the positioning by IB’s Auto Layout matches the runtime.

Likewise, we can surface our align CapHeight property to IB using @IBInspectable

@IBInspectable var alignCapHeight: Bool = false

This makes the property accessible in the attributes inspector (per the screenshot below). This is pretty cool—as you change the Align Cap Height attribute, IB will automatically update the layout so you see the impact in realtime.

A More Accurate Cap Height

In the code above, we approximated the cap height position by calculating the rounded difference between the ascender and the cap height. However, this is a very naive approach, given how text is actually rendered, and so the method is only accurate to ±1 point. To understand why this is so, and how to calculate a more accurate position, we need to work through how the text is actually rendered in a UILabel.

Suppose we have a label that is using a 24pt Helvetica font. That font will have the following metrics:

The fractional part of each number is important. When the font engine renders the glyphs it uses anti-aliasing to simulate the fractions of pixels, as shown in the enlarged image below. The other point to note is that glyphs are always laid out with respect to the baseline, and so the baseline is always on a pixel boundary.

Starting with lineHeight, we can see that it is the sum of the ascender and descender. However, as baseline is always on a pixel boundary, the actual line height of the rendered font must be an integral number of pixels. Also, as fractional parts are simulated through anti-aliasing, the line height cannot be rounded to the nearest pixel without risking the last partial pixel being clipped. Therefore, the calculated line height will be ceil(lineHeight).

This same principle holds for ascender and descender. Each may have a fractional part that needs to always round up to the next pixel. However, there is a catch, ceil(lineHeight) does not always equal ceil(ascender) + ceil(descender). Sometimes the calculated line height is one pixel shorter than the sum of the calculated parts. In such cases, the descender is given precedence on the basis that many common glyphs have descenders, whereas only a few diacritical marks touch the top of the ascender.

To find the position of the baseline within the label, we should move down by the calculated line height and then back up by the calculated descender. (Point of detail, for UIFont the descender is always expressed as a negative value because the Y access is “up”—all calculations therefore need to take this into account.)

With the baseline calculated, we can move up using the capHeight. However, in this case we actually do want to round to the nearest pixel as the visual position will depend on whether the fractional pixel is more or less than 50% opacity.

This gives us a more accurate adjustment calculation of:

ceil(lineHeight) – ceil(-descender) – round(capHeight)

However, there is one more consideration. All the metrics are in points but the rounding occurs at the pixel boundary. Therefore, the final calculation needs to handle the screen scaling as follows:

(ceil(font.lineHeight * scale) – ceil(-font.descender * scale) –
round(font.capHeight * scale)) / scale

Here is the final version of the code:

override var alignmentRectInsets: UIEdgeInsets {
var insets = UIEdgeInsets.zero
if alignCapHeight, let scale = window?.screen.scale {
insets.top = (ceil(font.lineHeight * scale) – ceil(-
font.descender * scale) – round(font.capHeight * scale)) / scale
}
return insets
}

Final Considerations

What has been presented here works for UILabels, but the technique can also be applied to UITextField and UITextView. Also, it could be extended to support UILabels that use attributed strings (though it would be difficult to achieve a general solution for multi-line, multi-font labels).

It does not handle labels where the bounds do not hug the content. Although this can be calculated, there seems little practical use as it implies constraints that align both the content and the frame itself.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

6 REASONS YOUR ENTERPRISE MOBILE APP NEEDS QUALITY ASSURANCE TESTING

img

According to a recent Smart Insights study, 90% of consumers’ time spent on mobile devices is expended in mobile apps. Because of this proliferation in app usage, brands everywhere are rushing to create their own enterprise mobile apps, which often tend to fail due to bugs and other quality issues that could have been prevented if these apps had been put through proper quality assurance (QA) testing.

To help you better understand why quality assurance is crucial, we’ve put together this list of reasons why your enterprise app needs proper QA testing:

1. Preserve & enhance your brand’s reputation

In the same way that your website, staff, and marketing collateral speak to the quality of your brand, products and/or services, your app is another reflection of your business. If your app provides a subpar user experience, your brand image could be tainted in the eyes of your app users. Think of it like this: the quality of your brand can be equated with your app. If your app crashes or doesn’t function the way it should, users will complain about it in a public forum. The last thing you want to do is upset your users and have them vent their grievances in app store reviews or on social media. Bottom line: Keep your reputation strong so that more users will download your app and give it the positive engagement and reviews it deserves.

2. Prevent users from uninstalling your app

Did you know that, according to a recent Android Authority article, 77% of users never use an app again just 72 hours after they’ve installed it? Should your mobile app provide a poor user experience, it could wind up where thousands of apps have gone before – to the app graveyard where users uninstall or simply no longer engage with your app. If you don’t want your app to be abandoned by your users, it’s paramount that you have a process in place for thorough quality assurance – it’s crucial that you fix bugs and prevent them from popping up before your app launches in the app stores.

3. Increase app installations & engagement

Building on the previous point, if you have the right QA in place throughout your app’s development process, your app will run smoothly and provide an optimal experience for your users. And if that’s the case, you’re sure to foster app engagement, positive app store reviews, and a lift in new installations – all of which should be every developer’s goals. To restate point number one, having a high-performing app with a smooth user experience will help to bolster your brand in the eyes of consumers and other stakeholders.

4. Save cash in the long run

It’s important to keep in mind that developing an enterprise mobile app is an investment. You’re investing time and money into building an app that you hope everyone will love and use for a long time. While you may expect to receive a high return on your investment, this can and will not happen if your app fails due to low quality UI (user interface), unstable infrastructure, functionality and/or usability – issues like these will be more costly to your business than you can imagine for a number of reasons:

• App stores may penalize you, making you remove the app, fix the issues and then re-submit it for approval (which can take weeks in some cases – using up your developers time and your budget).

• As mentioned, users may get frustrated with your buggy app and vent on social media and in app store reviews, resulting in poor word-of-mouth, a reduction in new app installs, app engagement and overall perceived brand quality, which could hinder your business for years to come.

• It is far more expensive to find and fix bugs in an app later in the development process than it is to find and fix them in the early stages. As this Agile Modeling essay states, “the cost of fixing errors increases exponentially the later they are detected in the development lifecycle because the artifacts within a serial process build on each other.” In short, it is much wiser to have proper QA processes implemented right from the start of your app build. This way, you can rest assured that your app development partner will locate and resolve bugs earlier in the development process – saving you time and, potentially, exorbitant costs.

5. Decrease the threat of security-related issues

If you don’t run your app through thorough testing, you run the risk of compromising your users’ data security — and that PR nightmare is certainly not worth the risk! Be sure to have your QA team run tests on everything including basic things like app updates. Doing so will help to ensure that your users (and ultimately your brand’s reputation) are protected.

6. Reduce risk of future app problems

By having the right app QA and testing processes in place, you’ll significantly reduce the risk of experiencing issues with your app when it launches. By ensuring your mobile app functions the way it was meant to and provides a strong user experience from the get-go, you’ll be safeguarding your investment by preventing unnecessary developer “cleaning up” costs.

To further reduce the risk of app malfunctions, it’s highly recommended that you hire a QA specialist for a number of reasons, including the fact that a fresh set of eyes can help point out bugs that may not have otherwise been discovered by your in-house team.

Beyond the basic functionality and security testing on an app, QA specialists ensure apps run properly on all of the operating systems and devices that the app was intended for. Because of the broad range of devices (from the iPad Air, to iPhone 7, Google Pixel and more), you must consider the different environments that your app will be used in. Will your smartphone app work on all versions of an operating system (OS), such as Android or iOS? What about different devices with different screen resolutions/sizes? You could make it the responsibility of your developer to test your app across devices and platforms, but that’s not likely to be their skillset. In other words, your developer’s time is best spent developing, so it’s recommended that you engage with a QA specialist who is as enthusiastic about testing as they are efficient at it.

At Atimi Software, We specialize in extensive QA testing to help ensure that your app functions flawlessly and your mobile app users have an extraordinary experience. Atimi’s proprietary scripting tools deliver complete cross-platform automated testing for any platform, substantially increasing the amount of bugs we’re able to locate and fix.

Now that you know how important it is to incorporate QA testing when developing enterprise mobile apps, you may be interested in seeing what our quality assurance process looks like. To get a feel for how we work, or if you have any questions or want to learn more about Atimi and how our experts can work for you, feel free to give us a call. We’re always happy to chat.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com

6 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT PARTNER

img

So, you’ve recognized that there’s a need to build a mobile app for your business, but you’re not quite sure where to start in terms of seeking a mobile app development partner. There are a large number of app development partners out there from small boutique app development agencies to large-scale corporate firms (of course we want you to choose Atimi, but even if you don’t, you should at least know what to look for so you can find the right fit for you).

Here’s our list of the top considerations you should take when shopping for a mobile app development partner:

1. Agility

Much like in business, the competitive landscape in the app world is ever-changing and if you’re going to stay ahead of the curve, it’s paramount that the app development partner you choose is one who can stay nimble and adapt to your business’ changing needs. If your app development partner isn’t willing to negotiate on scope of work when necessary, they may not be the right partner for you. You need them to be mindful and understanding of the fact that things change and they should be more than willing to shift scope or focus as needed. Be sure to ask your potential vendors for an example of when something changed during development and how it was dealt with. This behavioural-type question will help you assess whether or not the company handles change well.

In addition to being flexible, you should look for an app development partner who has expertise and experience in working with different budget sizes and project processes – the last thing you want is a vendor who encourages sweeping changes to a project and runs wild with your budget.

2. Likability

Hiring a mobile app development partner is not a task to be taken lightly. Since apps require updates and maintenance from time to time to suit end user feedback, operating system updates, and more, the relationship you have with your app development partner doesn’t end once your app is released. Because this is not a short term relationship, you need to be sure that you and your team actually like the people you’re going to be working with. Just like you would consider culture fit when hiring a new employee, you should consider culture fit when hiring a mobile app development partner. For instance, if you’re company prides itself on professionalism and accountability, you certainly wouldn’t want to work with a vendor who is opposite to that.

At Atimi, we believe in open communication and collaboration. It’s important for us to keep our clients informed with scheduled status updates so that we ensure we’re all on the same page in terms of progress and priorities. We also believe strongly in holding one another accountable. These are just a few of the ways we keep our clients happy and in the know – every step of the way.

3. Engagement Capabilities

Think about how you and your team would like to be engaged in the app building process; do you want a developer and/or engineer to be on-site with your in-house team working alongside them (insourced), or would you prefer for everything to be outsourced (completely handled outside of your office)? Ask the app development partners you’re speaking with to run you through their process. If you want to be completely collaborative and hands on during app development, you may be better off hiring an app development partner who can provide that. You wouldn’t want a vendor coming in – not knowing what your business needs are – and being too overbearing or too underwhelming in their approach to app development, so be sure to find a partner who offers custom engagement, the way that we do at Atimi. We understand that each and every client and project has unique needs. That’s why we’ll work on or off-site and inject our expertise into your in-house development team, stand them up, and get the project completed on time and on budget.

4. Proven Success

Key point: Just because they say they’re awesome doesn’t mean they are. Do your due diligence before hiring an app development partner; when you’re in a meeting with a potential vendor, ask them to provide you with examples of apps they’ve developed – you may even go so far as to download those apps to get a feel for the overall user experience they provide. If they’re good, great! If not, move on and continue your search. Additionally, ask about the developer’s professional experience. It’s important to know that whichever app development partner you choose has experience building apps across mobile platforms and devices. In addition to finding an app development partner who has experience and a strong portfolio, you should consider finding a vendor who partners with popular operating systems, such as Apple. At Atimi, we’re proud to be an Apple Mobility Partner. We’ve been a part of the AMP program since the first iPhone launched and the opening day of Apple’s App Store. Not to toot our own horn, but we’re one of a select few of Apple Mobility Partners in North America.

5. Business Savvy & Client Focused

Sometimes, IT people don’t speak the same language as the business execs, which can be challenging when deciding on app features and functionality. Because of this, it’s of utmost importance that you find a mobile app development partner who communicates effectively and understands that, at the end of the day, you’re running a business and your app needs to accomplish specific business objectives. This type of business-savvy partner will help ensure a smooth app development process for everyone involved – sans miscommunications and headaches.

At Atimi, we understand that you have important business goals and KPIs, so we keep you, your end users’ experience and your bottom line at the forefront of everything we do.

6. Quality Assurance

This is a piece that often gets left out of these types of articles, but it should be one of the key things to consider when hiring a mobile app development partner. Without proper quality assurance (QA), your app is destined to fail. As mentioned in a previous Atimi Blog post, user experience is everything. You must provide your users with a seamless, extraordinary experience if you want your app to be successful. If your app isn’t regularly and thoroughly tested, you could find your users frustrated and annoyed, giving you poor reviews in the app stores and uninstalling your app altogether – not a road you want to go down.

At Atimi, our robust QA process ensures that your app features remarkable functionality. Our proprietary scripting tools deliver complete cross-platform automated testing, substantially increasing the amount of bugs we’re able to find and remedy. We take pride in our work and do everything in our power to ensure the mobile app we develop for your business provides your users with a stunning user interface and experience.

Hopefully you will find this useful. If you have any questions or want to learn more about Atimi and how our experts can work for you, feel free to give us a call. We’re always happy to chat.

778-372-2800

info@atimi.com