Monthly Archives: February 2015

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Mobile App Developers: New Rules for User Data

Government regulatory agencies over the last few years have taken an increasing interest in and concern about the personal data gathered by mobile app developers.

The FTC, the US Federal Trade Commission, has issued new guidance to mobile app developers, and signalled their readiness to take enforcement action where mobile apps violate their guidance.

According to the Association of Corporate Council;

The FTC’s guidance acknowledges that mobile app platforms and mobile operating systems, such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, may or may not have built-in, system-level disclosures that provide information to users about a mobile app’s collection of location data. Regardless of such system-level disclosures, the FTC urges mobile apps that collect users’ location data when the mobile apps are not in use to disclose such data collection in a transparent way. Below are the tips provided by the FTC on ways for mobile apps to explain such data collection practices to users:

For a mobile app that is available through the iOS8 system, the system prevents the mobile app from accessing a user’s location data when the mobile app is not in use, unless the user affirmatively allows such collection in response to a system-level prompt. The dialog box for this system-level prompt includes space for the mobile app to provide details on its collection of location data. The FTC recommends that the mobile app use this space to clearly explain why the mobile app wants to access the user’s location data, how the mobile app will use this data, and whether the mobile app shares this data with third parties.

For a mobile app that is available through an operating system that does not provide users with system-level disclosures and choices about the collection of their location data, the FTC recommends that the mobile app explain its data collection practices and offer users choices within the mobile app regarding the collection of their data. For example, the FTC recommends that before the mobile app begins collecting a user’s location data when the mobile app is not in use, the mobile app may give users an in-app notification that explains why it wants to access location data and give the user an opportunity to opt in to such data collection.

Regardless of what platform consumers use to obtain a mobile app, the FTC recommends that the mobile app’s privacy disclosures and other information pages clearly describe the mobile app’s data collection practices in plain language, so that users will understand whether the mobile app collects their location data when the mobile app is not in use and for what purposes.

This recent guidance expands on the FTC’s recommendations included in its “Mobile Privacy Disclosures” report published in February 2013. In that report, the FTC recommended, among other things, that mobile app developers provide just-in-time disclosures and obtain users’ affirmative express consent before collecting and sharing sensitive information, such as location data (to the extent the platforms have not already provided such disclosures and obtained such consent). In the 2013 report, the FTC clarified that, to the extent its guidance goes beyond existing legal requirements, it was not intended to serve as a template for law enforcement actions or regulations under laws currently enforced by the FTC.


Click here to view a copy of the FTC’s latest guidance on mobile app development.

What does the new FTC rules mean for mobile app developers?

The essence of the rules are very simple. If you are gathering any form of personal information about people who use your mobile apps, such as their location, photographs, or anything else of an identifying or personal nature, you have to ensure mobile app users are fully aware of the information you are collecting, and have approved the collection of that information.

Furthermore, if your app continues to collect personal information, then it is a good idea to remind the user from time to time that the information is being collected. In some cases the mobile OS might do this for you – for example Apple iOS 8 posts a reminder every few days if your mobile app is gathering location information about the user, with an option to shut down the information collection.

What if I don’t live in America?

If you don’t live in America, the rules may still apply to you. As Apple and Google are based in America, there is a tendency for American regulatory agencies to consider the mobile apps to subject to US Law. We have already seen an example of this type of extra jurisdictional reach, with regard to cryptography in mobile apps. If your mobile app project uses strong cryptography, you need approval from US agencies, before your mobile app can be sold from Google Play or Apple App Store – even if your mobile app will not be used in the USA.

And of course, if you live in a part of the world which has its own consumer data protection laws, such as the European Union, you have to respect their laws as well.

What should I do about this?

If you do not have to collect personal information, then don’t do it. If you do not collect personal information, you have nothing to worry about. If your mobile app does have to collect personal information, in order to provide its function, then make very, very sure that your mobile app user is fully informed. Make sure that information is secure. Take steps to securely dispose of that information, as soon as it is no longer required.

If you are developing a mobile app, and have concerns about data collection, I strongly recommend you speak to a lawyer – I am not a legal expert. However, if you would like to explore technical means by which your exposure to these rules can be minimised, please contact me.

McAfee: Mobile App Developers must patch their apps!

Mobile app developers have to keep their security code up to date.

Mobile app developers have to keep their security code up to date.

McAfee, the cyber-security firm, has issued a stern warning to mobile app developers to update their mobile app software, to protect users against well known vulnerabilities in popular secure communications software.

According to Tech Times;

In January this year, McAfee tested 25 apps that were on the CERT list. According to the cybersecurity firm's "Labs Threats Report: February 2015," tests found that 18 popular apps were still lacking patches despite security holes being flagged in September 2014.

Based on the report, the vulnerable app that had been downloaded the most is a photo editor for smartphones. It had 100 million to 500 million downloads. The application also enables its users to share images on social media sites, as well as cloud services.


What does this mean for mobile app developers?

The McAfee report comments on the amount of personal information mobile apps gather about their users.

However, one of the most serious problems arises from the use of old versions of a popular software library, openSSL, to provide secure communications between mobile app users and servers, or other users.

OpenSSL – the heart of Internet Security

openSSL is popular because it works – it provides by far the most trusted and most comprehensive implementation of secure communication. If you include openSSL (libSSL) in your mobile app development project, you don’t have to create fantastically complex encryption code yourself. All you need to do is add a few lines of code to your mobile app project, to ask openSSL to create the secure communication channel for you.

Because of its popularity, openSSL code is a key target for hackers. If you find a way of breaking openSSL, half the world is vulnerable to your attack. The flip side of this, of course, is because openSSL is so popular, a lot of people take a strong interest in keeping openSSL secure. When a new way of hacking openSSL is discovered, developers across the world spring into action, and within hours, or at most few days, an update is available which closes the hole in openSSL security.

However there is a catch. Keeping your use of openSSL secure very much depends on you keeping your copy of openSSL (libSSL) up to date, to ensure you have all the latest security updates. If you don’t keep your copy of the openSSL libSSL library code up to date, your mobile app will still work – but it will become progressively more vulnerable to hackers, as more and more attacks are discovered which work on your out of date copy of the security library. This damaging rise in the vulnerability of your mobile app is subtle, and difficult to detect. Unless your mobile app developers make a conscientious effort to stay in control of this issue, the first indication you might have that your popular mobile app has a problem, might be unwelcome, damaging publicity in the global media.

Note that many mobile apps do not use their own copy of openSSL (libSSL). Many mobile apps simply use the default security classes provided by the mobile app development environment. Both the Android App Development environment and the iPhone App Development environment provide good security out of the box, without having to incorporate your own copy of the openSSL (libSSL) code. But there are situations in which you need full access to security functionality, access which goes beyond the basic facilities provided by the standard mobile app development environment tools. In such cases, you have to download and include a copy of the openSSL / libSSL code into your project.

What should you do, to stay safe?

What do you do if you are concerned that your mobile app might be vulnerable to this issue? The first step is to simply ask your mobile app development team – do they use a private copy of openSSL / libSSL, and, if so, when was the last time they updated their openSSL code?

If you are not completely satisfied with their answer, the next step is to commission an independent audit of your code – either ask another developer to verify that the secure communications employed by your mobile app comply with best practice, and that everything is up to date, or if you have a big budget, you can hire a reputable mobile security firm, like McAfee, to perform a comprehensive security audit on your mobile app system.

If you would like to know more about the content of the McAfee security report, and how the issues raised in the report might affect your mobile app business, please contact me.

Developing Mobile Apps with Human Components

Chic Sketch - sketching you as a fashion icon

Chic Sketch – sketching you as a fashion icon

Have you ever wanted to do something impossible? Have you ever wanted to create an artificial intelligence, something straight out of science fiction – an app which can see, hear, interact and understand, just like a human being?

It turns out there is a solution. If you need human level capabilities, then you have to provide a human, to supply those capabilities.

This is the secret of CamFindApp. CamFindApp tells you what things are. If you supply CamFindApp with a photo, and indicate an object of interest in that photo, CamFindApp will tell you what that object is.

How can anyone afford to employ people to service mobile app users in this way? Because every request only takes a few seconds. I mean, show CamFindApp a photograph of a chair, and a few seconds later, the word “chair” appears on your phone. So every person who is employed by the company behind CamFindApp, has the ability to process thousands of photographs per day. Assuming the CamFindApp team is working at a reasonable level of capacity, each identification experience only costs the CamFindApp company a few pennies – especially if the team of “identifiers” is working in a low wage country.

Another app, Chic Sketch, also uses a “human component”.

According to Digital Trends

Chic Sketch is an app for turning a picture of yourself into a fashion illustration that looks those designers’ sketches. It doesn’t manage this by using clever filters and photo-manipulation algorithms, however: there’s actually fashion illustrators waiting in an office, ready to look at your picture and draw a sketch of you on the spot. First, you download the free app. After that, you either take a picture of yourself in-app or choose a picture from your photo library (it has to be a full head-to-toe shot), and upload it to a fashion illustrator. It won’t be instant, of course, since a real person is doing the sketch, but you can check out the quality of the sketches on Chic Sketch’s website.

The catch? It costs $10 per sketch – so choose your photos wisely.


My point is, if you have an idea for a mobile app which you think would be incredibly popular, but everyone tells you the app is impossible – that current technology isn’t good enough to implement your dream mobile app feature – the solution might be, don’t use technology. Sometimes the solution is to build a team of human beings into your mobile app solution.

If you have a difficult mobile app requirement, and would like to discuss your idea with a software expert, please contact me.

Rapid Geosearch for Mobile App Developers

Geosearching a large database of places, for places which are near your current location, is a surprisingly wicked theoretical problem, especially for mobile app developers. Understanding the problem, and how the solution works, has important applications which go well beyond geosearch.

The difficulty is the search is two dimensional. To find a set of places which are near your current location, you have to match both latitude and longitude. But there is no relationship between latitude and longitude. You cannot infer a longitude, if you have the latitude, they are separate entities. Latitude and longitude are independent search criteria.

Why independent search criteria are a challenge

Say you want to find all places which are within a kilometre of your current location. Given your current location, you can easily convert a latitude into a range of values which is roughly a kilometre wide. Similarly you can convert a longitude into a range of values which is roughly a kilometre wide. But this is where the trouble starts.

Once you have your strip of land, you can search for places within that strip which are also within the range of longitudes you want. But consider what that strip of land you just requested actually represents; if you ask the database for all results within a range of latitude values, what you are actually asking for is all of the locations within a strip of land which encircles the entire world.

If your database contains millions of places, and you ask your database to return all the places within a world encompassing strip of land, your intermediate search result may contain many thousands of candidate places. If you started with latitude, filtering this long list of latitude candidates, for places which are also within the desired longitude range, can place impractical demands on your database’s computation capability – particularly if you are using a mobile device to perform the search.

Searching Latitude and Longitude, for nearby places.

Searching Latitude and Longitude, for nearby places.

Performing a traditional search, where you start with the first search criterion (the latitude), then refine the search using the second criterion (the longitude), is clearly very inefficient. What we need is a method of filtering the list, which allows us to efficiently apply both latitude and longitude to our search simultaneously.

R-Tree – A search which applies multiple criteria simultaneously

The secret of R-Tree is that it divides the problem domain into a series of concentric boxes. Each box contains smaller boxes, until at the end of the search, the last “branch” of the “tree”, the final box contains the results you want.

Even though the top level outer boxes contain thousands of results, the mobile app does not have to look at all of these results – all the mobile app sees is a manageable series of boxes. Searching the boxes is like opening a set of Russian dolls, one inside the other. The final results of your search, the results which the mobile app needs to display, are inside the innermost box.

Most importantly, defining the search algorithm as opening a series of concentric boxes, each box closer to the results you want, means you are applying both indices, latitude and longitude, simultaneously – which allows much more efficient filtering of results, than would be the case with searching latitude and longitude independently (world encompassing strips of land).

R-Tree search divides the problem in a series of concentric boxes.

R-Tree search divides the problem into a series of concentric boxes.

R-Tree your next mobile app development project!

The best part of R-Tree search is that it is fully supported by sqlite, which in turn is fully supported by the iPhone App Development and Android App Development environments.

You do not have to build the concentric index boxes yourself, the Sqlite R-Tree package will take care of the technical details of building and maintaining an efficient R-Tree index to your places data. All you have to do is specify which fields should be part of the R-tree search index (in this case, the fields you want are latitude and longitude).

If you wish to develop an Android App or iPhone App, which requires blinding fast geosearch, or if you have an esoteric data search problem which just doesn’t seem to be responding to normal database performance tuning, consider R-Tree – it might be the solution you need.

And of course, R-Tree is also well supported by server technology – so you can, if you choose, perform blinding fast geosearches using a server call, rather than embedding the data in your mobile app.

If you would like to know more about R-tree, and multiple independent database index search techniques and tricks, contact me for more information.

Yahoo: Mobile App Developers, use OUR analytics!

Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, urging mobile app developers to use Flurry.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, urging mobile app developers to use Flurry.

The battle is heating up, to convince mobile app developers to embrace new analytics packages, in their iPhone Apps and Android Apps.

Desirable Apps recently reported that Twitter was keen for users to dump Google Analytics, in favour of Twitter’s Answers Analytics Tool.

Now Yahoo has jumped into the fray, urging mobile app developers to use Flurry, to “use our mobile developer suite to make money”.

SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo just revealed a big piece of its plan to catch up with competitors on the mobile front.

At its first mobile developers conference, the company unveiled its mobile developer suite, a new set of tools for app makers that combines Yahoo's Flurry analytics platform, the BrightRoll and Gemini ad networks, and Yahoo search.

The star of the suite is Flurry, the mobile analytics platform that Yahoo acquired last year. More than 200,000 developers use Flurry, but the suite also leverages Yahoo's native advertising and marketing tools. The suite itself is comprised of five products: Flurry Analytics, Flurry Pulse, Yahoo App Publishing, Yahoo Search in Apps and Yahoo App Marketing.

Flurry Analytics is the refreshed version of Flurry's existing analytics service, which provides developers with insights into how people are using their apps. Flurry Pulse is a new software development kit (SDK) that lets developers easily share Flurry's insight's with partners, and Yahoo Search in Apps provides better integration of search tools within apps.


What do web giants get out of offering free mobile app analytics?

Why are big players like Google, Twitter and Yahoo, so keen to woo iPhone App Developers and Android App Developers to use their suite of analytics tools? What do the giants of the software industry get out of providing tremendous amounts of compute capacity to mobile app developers for free?

My guess is that it helps them refine their search results. Search engine giants like Yahoo, who have been playing catchup to Google for years, have suddenly woken up that all these free “analytics” which Google provides, help Google gauge which pages of websites users find interesting – which pages Google should put at the top of the search results.

Mobile app screens are not directly indexed by web based search engines (usually), but perhaps the analytics for mobile app developers are simply used to gauge how popular mobile apps are, and perhaps to pick up a few hints as to what the mobile apps do.

Yahoo’s only hope of creating a search experience which rivals Google, is to convince web developers and mobile app developers to switch to using their analytics service. Since Google provides their service for free, Yahoo have gone one better with the claim that, not only is their service free, but that you will make money from using their service.

But Twitter is not a search giant, like Google?

Where does this leave Twitter? Twitter isn’t a search giant – or are they?

In a subtle way, Twitter have quietly grabbed a large chunk of the world’s search traffic – an awful lot of the world’s web search is now performed using Twitter. If a major event happens somewhere in the world, one of the first things people do, is search for tweets from people relating to that event. This in my opinion represents a threat to Google’s dominance of the global web search industry – and puts Twitter just a short step away from being a new dominant web search player.

What should mobile app developers do, faced with all these choices?

What should mobile app developers do about all this choice? For now I’m sticking with Google Analytics, unless a client expresses a particular interest in the other services. Yahoo is still too new, in my opinion – it might have teething troubles. And Twitter – wow, who knows? I shall certainly be taking a closer look at Twitter’s Answers Analytics Tool.

If you would like to know more about Mobile App Analytics, and how they can help your app to maximise its potential, please contact me

6 things Mobile App Developers need to know

6 Things You Need to Know Before Building a Mobile App is a story published in the Huffington Post. If you are serious about mobile app development, I strongly recommend you read it.

For example, consider the section on how much it costs to build a mobile app:

1. What Will It Cost?

This question is one of the most commonly asked questions regarding app development, and is the same as asking “what does a house cost?” Ultimately, there are different variables, features, and development processes to consider, and then it furtner varies from project to project.

If you are planning to build the app yourself or you have access to an in-house development team, the cost would depend on the amount of time you put into the project. If you can do this in your spare time, it will only cost you your time and skills. However, keep in mind that most professionally developed applications require a team-effort, usually consisting of a product manager, designer, developers, testers, and marketing experts.

The leading mobile app developer review company Clutch recently surveyed representatives from 12 leading mobile app development firms to determine cost ranges for building an iPhone app “and found that the median cost range is between $37,913 and $171,450, but could climb up to $500,000 or higher. The best way to find out where your app will fall in that range is to obtain price quotes from several development companies;” One of the 12 firms surveyed by Clutch was Digital Brand Group, and the CEO Jeremiah Jacks is a friend of mine. Something to keep in mind that Jeremiah mentioned is that “what you get from a lot of development companies is that they treat their customers from a kind of manufacturing standpoint, where they’re getting in a contract, they’re looking at a scope, and they’re just delivering on the scope. They’re not going any further beyond that.”

If you’re going to hire a mobile development company, then at least choose one where your money is going to count for something, and the vendor doesn’t look at you as just a number – you will need a partner. DBG has a good whitepaper on selecting a top mobile development company to help you decide.

Finally, innovative mobile application ideas can also be promoted on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. In this way you may be able to raise funds externally before you have to spend money out of your own pocket. Make sure you have a killer pitch if you want to increase your chances of raising money through crowdfunding, and keep in mind that once your idea is out there, you have limited time before someone else takes off with your idea.

Read More…

A lot of this is material which has been covered before on the Desirable Apps website, but it doesn’t hurt to re-read material you may have read before, especially if you are considering making a substantial investment. The Huffington Post article is well presented and informative.

If you have any questions about the process of building a mobile app, or any other considerations, please contact me.

New Mobile App Developer Tool- 5 Billion Sessions/Day

Twitter Answers - New Mobile App Developer Tool attracts 5 billion sessions per day

Twitter Answers – New Mobile App Developer Tool attracts 5 billion sessions per day

Twitter has claimed that its Answers mobile app developer analysis tool is currently juggling 5 billion sessions per day – a figure which puts Twitter into the same league as major rivals such as Google Corporation.

According to Wired;

Twitter says it’s now juggling about 5 billion “sessions” a day on its Answers service, the tool it released this past summer in an effort to help the world’s software developers analyze the performance of their mobile apps.

In other words, the company says, developers are using the seven-month-old service to collect app data from hundreds of millions of mobile devices out in the real world.

Answers is part of a larger suite of tools for software developers, known as Fabric, that Twitter formally unveiled at its inaugural developer conference in October. With Fabric, the company aims to help improve the performance and design of mobile apps—and perhaps integrate its own services into the larger world of computing. The suite, for instance, offers a tool for syndicating tweets through third-party apps.

“We want to empower the mobile app ecosystem for everyone,” says Brian Swift, who helps oversee the Answers tool. “We want to make these tools available for free—and make them as easy to us as possible.”

Read More…

Why do I need a mobile app analysis tool?

App Analysis tools like Answers Service are critical for serious mobile app developers and entrepreneurs, because they provide precise information on how users are using the mobile apps – which functions they spend time using, which functions they find confusing, even which functions they avoid. This feedback is critical for serious iPhone App developers and Android App Developers, because it provides detailed information about which areas of a mobile app need more development, either to fix problems, or because a function is popular, and should be expanded. Mobile App users rarely provide detailed information about a mobile app unless it is defective. A stream of negative reviews in Apple App Store or Google Play Store is NOT the optimum way of discovering and responding to problems – it is much better to get advance warning of problems, and address those problems, before they spill over into a public barrage of negative feedback.

Google Analytics – the main rival to Twitter Answers

I must admit my preferred tool for mobile app analysis is Google Analytics. However, Google Analytics can be a little intimidating to use for non technical users – it provides a lot of information, but Google actually recommend you attend a training course to make full use of their tool. It really can be that complex to use.

Why is Twitter Answers taking market share from Google?

Twitter Answers, which has only been available since last October, and is designed to be much easier to use than Google Analytics. Twitter promote their tool with the slogan Finally, mobile app analytics you don’t need to analyze… The fact that in such a short time, Twitter have attracted 5 billion sessions per day of usage, is strong evidence that ordinary users and technical mobile app developers are embracing the new analytics paradigm.

If you would like to learn more about mobile app analytics, and how analytics can help boost the popularity of your iPhone App or Android App, please contact me.

Mobile app developed: A New Age of Government?

An exciting new mobile app development in democratic accountability.

An exciting new mobile app development in democratic accountability.

The Indian State of Andhra Pradesh has developed a mobile app to ask people what they think, about a range of government proposals, services and projects.

The issue is Andhra Pradesh is effectively a new state. The old Andhra Pradesh was split in two, giving birth to the new state of Telangana. The old state capital Hyderabad is in the new state of Telangana – so Andhra Pradesh has a tremendous amount of ground to cover, they have been given 10 years to build a new state capital.

The Andhra Pradesh government’s response is a bold new experiment in mobile app technology – a mobile app, to give the ordinary people of tech savvy Andhra Pradesh an unprecedented level of oversight, over the progress of their new government.

According to Asia Pacific Future Gov

Indian state Andhra Pradesh has launched a new mobile app for citizens to suggest ideas on upcoming projects and give feedback on government services, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu announced.

The app, known as AP Speaks, lists broad areas that the government wants to improve such as education, electricity and tourism. A short description appears alongside each.

People can submit their ideas or like an idea shared by another person under these topics.

The government has also asked them to rate the state’s electricity service as good, bad or average.

Andhra Pradesh has tied up with Facebook and Indian telecommunications company Reliance Communications to make sure people without internet access can use the app as well. Customers of Reliance will be able to access AP Speaks without data charges through the Android app or

Read More…

Mobile apps have repeatedly demonstrated their utility for streamlining communication. If the Andhra Pradesh mobile app feedback experiment yields positive results, other governments will follow their example – potentially opening a vast new market for mobile app developers, and an exciting new age of more accountable, more responsive government.

If you are considering a new communication mobile app, an app for enhancing client feedback, please contact me.

Apple iWatch App Development: The great unknown

Apple iWatch App Development - Opportunity or Timewaster?

Apple iWatch – Opportunity or Timewaster?

Will people buy Apple iWatches? Will users download Apple iWatch Apps, rewarding Apple iWatch App Developers for their time and effort? How will the public respond to Apple iWatch?

The truth is nobody knows. But the war of ideas and predictions is heating up fast as release day in April approaches.

Apple creative director Ken Segall has been mounting a spirited defence of iWatch against sharp criticism of its perceived battery life and cost issues.

You have to give CNN’s David Goldman a little credit.

With Apple’s next potential revolution still a few months away, he’s going for the gusto.

He’s not just saying that the Apple Watch won’t be as big as previous Apple hits. He’s saying the Apple Watch will flop. Period.

That’s the kind of bravado we like to see. Especially since no product in modern Apple history has ever flopped, despite the many who have predicted otherwise.

Read More…

iWatch battery life – showstopper or inconvenience?

Fighting words from one of the top Apple execs. But I’m not so sure. One of the reasons the late Steve Jobs resisted embracing 3G in iPhones was 3G is a battery killer. Public pressure forced Apple into the 3G race, as users refused to tolerate the slower cellular 2G network speed, but for a time iPhone batteries took a dive – the first Apple 3G models, you were lucky if they lasted the day.

It is this precise criticism of iWatch – the short battery life, 10 hours or less by some reports, which I think is likely to make or break the first generation iWatches. Can you really tolerate a watch, no matter how smart, which will last less than a day of normal use? I mean, we’re all used to plugging our mobiles into the charger when we get to the office – but will we remember to plug in the watch?

There are a large number of people who will buy the new iWatch because it is the next shiny. As a techie geek, I’m fighting the inner temptation to camp out in front of the Apple store. But the rational part of me is telling me to hang back, wait and see.

Of course, I might still release an iWatch App project or two.

The risk of letting an opportunity slip

One of my biggest regrets is I didn’t hop on the Bitcoin revolution. Back in 2009, I downloaded a Bitcoin miner, I had a spare PC – I spent a few minutes trying to make it work, then got frustrated, bored with what seemed like pointless effort, and promptly forgot about it. Back then, in 2009, a normal PC could easily mine several hundred bitcoins over a few months. They were a curio, worthless, a geek toy. The people who stuck with it, who spent a few extra minutes making their new bitcoin software run, are now multimillionaires.

Similarly, nobody in the app world can forget the early days of the iPhone App developer goldrush. It is still possible to make serious money with iPhone apps, but in the early days it was ridiculous – pretty nearly every app written in the first wave made the authors a fortune. The app store was almost empty, so the competition was close to non-existent.

Will iWatch app development be another gold rush? Maybe. Will you be able to live with yourself, if the iWatch pioneers make a fortune, and you hesitated? When in retrospect it will all have seemed so obvious?

If you would like to discuss iWatch app development, please contact me, for more information.

Google plan to subsidise Android App Developers

Google Android App Developer Mobile Data Usage Subsidy

Google Android App Developer Mobile Data Usage Subsidy

Android Authority News reports that Google Corporation is in talks with some Android App Developers to subsidise mobile app data costs in the third world, to help promote mobile app usage in countries with high data costs.

Google may be on the verge of breaking into developing markets with their cheap Android One handsets, but there seems to be a problem stifling many smartphone users in those specific countries. According to data from McKinsey and the International Labour Organization, a Jana survey of 8,000 smartphone users found that data expenses were among one of the biggest reasons why users don’t download or use applications on their smartphones. Specifically, over 25% of respondents of the survey from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Egypt and the Philippines considered high data costs to be the biggest obstacle holding them back from using apps. Google’s Android One platform might offer low-cost devices to emerging markets, but that doesn’t help the high prices of data costs at all.

According to a new report from The Information, Google may be looking for ways to subsidize data costs so users can actually use their smartphones. Google engineers have reportedly been in talks with app developers in emerging markets to reduce or even completely eliminate mobile data costs using a practice called “zero rating.” Zero rating is nothing new in the mobile world. It’s basically a way for app developers, such as Facebook or WhatsApp, to strike deals between wireless carriers to subsidize data costs, which can then be promoted by both the app developers and the carriers involved.

So where does Google come in? According to “sources familiar with the matter,” Google has plans to pilot this initiative in India with notable services like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Redbus and even Ola Cabs, India’s version of Uber. These services tend to rack up much more data than users are allotted per month, so the developers are already willing to pay the high bandwidth costs to get more users connected with their services. These are obviously the first apps and services Google is targeting with their initiative – companies that already practice the subsidization of data – to bring more users online.

Acting as the middleman would allow app developers to not have to make these zero-rating arrangements with individual carriers.

Read More…

Data Usage – the hidden roadblock to mobile app uptake?

The fact that data costs are a major roadblock for app usage in the third world is something all Android App Developers and iPhone App Developers should consider when creating new apps, but it is not just third world mobile app users who have this problem. As developers we take our mobile apps seriously, they are a big part of our lives – so we often purchase top flight mobile plans with generous data allowances. It is easy to forget that not everyone has this kind of budget for their mobile data access – that many data access plans, particularly outside the USA, are expensive and restrictive.

Mobile data usage is also a serious issue for tourists visiting from overseas, some overseas roaming data plans charge $4 / Mb of data or more. In today’s data hungry world, this can easily lead to tourists inadvertently incurring hundreds of dollars of unwanted mobile data usage fees.

Some low end mobile plans, even in countries like Australia, and parts of Europe (in fact pretty nearly every country except America) can sometimes include tiny mobile data allowances, which are rapidly exhausted by normal mobile app usage – either forcing mobile app users to start consuming expensive excess data, or leading to mobile data access being switched off.

Even on a higher level mobile app data usage plans, I sometimes find myself switching off cellular data, to conserve bandwidth – Android mobiles and iPhone mobiles sometimes attempt to transfer ridiculous amounts of data over the mobile cellular network, particularly if mobile cloud services are active. Outside of the USA, ignoring cellular data access can be an expensive mistake.

Strategies for reducing mobile data usage

One of my clients recently suggested an innovative solution to this issue. Their iPhone App and Android App does not need immediate access to data, so the client requested that the mobile app be developed with the ability to pre-cache data – so that users could pre-load data via WIFI, to avoid large cellular network data transfers.

Altogether I think this issue should be taken as a real wakeup call – if you are designing a mobile app which potentially transfers significant amounts of data across the cellular network, it is well worth taking a little extra time to determine whether you can offer clients a way to minimise cellular traffic, either by offering an option to pre-load data via WIFI, or by offering a “minimal data” mode. Because for users in third world countries, sometimes even for users in first world countries, mobile data usage can be a real showstopper – it might make a real difference to the popularity of your mobile app in countries and scenarios, such as overseas roaming, where mobile data access is expensive.

Of course, you might be one of those lucky Android App Developers who received the offer from Google, to help subsidise use of your mobile app. Or this could become an option, if your Android App is popular, or attracts the attention of Google executives in some other way.

If you would like to discuss the mobile data usage of your mobile app idea, and strategies for minimising the impact of mobile data usage on mobile app users who might be constrained by an expensive cellular data plan, please contact me