Native App or Mobile App?

With so much confusion between native and mobile apps, the question needs to be answered: “Should I create a mobile app or native app for my brand?”. Before answering this question, lets first understand what is a native app and what is a mobile app.

What are Native Apps?

Native apps are apps which are written specifically for the device it is meant to run on. The most common type of native apps are iOS (iPhone/iPod/iPad) Apps, Android Apps, Windows Phone Apps, and Blackberry apps. Each type of native app requires to be written in the proprietary language designed for the device.

  • iOS apps are written in Objective-C using Xcode
  • Android apps are written in Java using the Android SDK
  • Windows Phone apps are written using Microsoft technologies such as C#, VB.NET
  • Blackberry apps are written in J2EE.

When an app is written for the device, that app can not be executed (run) on another device. For example, a iOS app can not be run on a Android device, and can only be run on a iOS device. (well at least not natively, there are hacks you can do to make it run.. lol)

Native apps are not really new. They actually have been around quite awhile and most people don’t know but they have been around way before the iPhone came out. Just as usually Apple made apps very popular. Before apps were on the Nokia’s (remember that snake game?) and were written in languages such as Symbian.

What are Mobile Apps?
(also sometimes referred to as mobile sites, web apps or HTML5 apps)

Mobile apps are really just web sites optimized and designed specifically to run on mobile devices. Ok they are a bit more than that, especially lately. I am referring to HTML5. Utilizing HTML5, mobile apps can actually function and look a lot like native apps. One of the cool things which make native apps cool is the gestures and animations they provide. With HTML5, a developer can make the mobile app look very similar (and sometimes exactly like a native app).

While a native app runs on the specific mobile device it is made for, a mobile app can run on any mobile device via the mobile browser. This is a great benefit of mobile apps, since it is not device dependent and thus multi-platform capable.

Mobile apps are also not really new. In fact in the previous incarnation they have been referred to as WAP sites which really served almost the same purpose. However, with HTML5 the capabilities increased tremendously. Specifically the capabilities of supporting gestures and fancy animations on the mobile device, which was not possible before because the devices did not have the advanced touch capabilities we have now.

Great now I understand? But you still did not answer what I should do for my brand?

This all depends on what you want your app to do. There are advantages to both and many brands chose to have both. However, one disadvantage of native apps is that you will need to develop the native app for each device, which can get costly. Yet by having a native app your market exposure has potential to increase because you would be in the respective app store or app marketplace.

Typically the following type of apps are more suitable to be designed as Native apps versus Mobile apps. This is not to say that you can’t do them as mobile apps, in fact you probably can with advanced HTML5 coding.

  • Games
  • Entertainment & Novelty
  • Rich Media (photo/video/audio) Capturing Apps

Creating a mobile presence for your brand

With the app world exploding exponentially, one topic on a company owners mind is “shall I create a mobile presence for my company?”. It is obvious that the answer to this question should be yes. Having a mobile presence is becoming more of a business necessity then it was literally one year ago, even months ago.

Back in the 90′s when web sites were introduced, a business had to determine if and when they would launch a web site. In fact, at first many businesses said why do I need a web site? We then saw that very quickly the question changed to “how do I build a web site for my business?”. It came to a point that if a business did not have a web site, it is as if the business did not exist. Sort of like a business without a business card or for that matter a phone number.

As the saying goes, “history repeats itself”. But now history is repeating itself within the app world. Many of the larger brands already have a mobile presence. Many medium sized businesses are also beginning to realize the importance of having a mobile presence as well.

But why have a mobile presence? What are the benefits and how will it increase the bottom line? These questions are so easy to answer and may not even warrant an answer because the answers are so obvious. It is very clear that by having a mobile presence a business will increase exposures and thus translate into more customers. Since more and more people have mobile devices, they rely on their mobile devices to do basic stuff such as finding nearest businesses to even commerce related stuff. A business needs to be accessible to these types of users. Hence, the reason to create your mobile presence for your brand. Without the mobile presence the business would loose out the opportunity in the mobile users.

iPhone App Marketing Basics

Being that I have released so many iPhone apps, I have been asked by many peer developers how some of them reached major success. These days marketing iPhone apps is not how it was before. Back in 2008, a developer was able to just publish his iPhone app on the app store and start getting so many downloads. This is not the case at all now. With the app store having over 145,000 apps as of today (and counting), posting your app on the app store will probably get you hardly any downloads. At first this sounds discouraging for anyone to developer an app. However, as with any other software product, marketing is key.

Below I have outlined some of the steps I follow when promoting my apps. Before you read the below, please be prepared to do work. Don’t just think you can do some of these steps and then let it run by itself. If that would be the case, there would be much more successful people out there.

Social Media

Yes, you knew this was coming. Use social media! Believe it or not it helps big time! You already probably have lots of “friends” on facebook and lots of followers. If not, that’s a different issue and you should immediately start this just for your own internet reputation.

So now you should use the social media to help you promote your app.

Demo Video

Go make a video of your app. It does not have to be professionally made. Use any video camcorder and make a 3-4 minute video showing your app.

Once you create it, then you should create a YouTube account (or if you have a company then create a channel). Post it on YouTube, then you will be able to use this link and embed in many places (i.e facebook)

Create a Facebook page for the app.

This is just so simple. Should take you like 5 minutes and that is even to much….

  • Create the page
  • Add screenshots
  • Get your existing friends to become fans of this page, and yeah ask them for a favor so they can suggest to their friends. Remember Viral marketing baby!

Why create a facebook page? Well its quite simple. To get fans, the more fans you have, the more potential for exposure. How? Very simple. Any time you will want to talk about the app or even give it away for free or whatever, you will have the fan base to release this message. Its like having a email list but even better.

Create a Twitter page for the app.

Simple process. Probably 2-3 minutes of your time.

However, the key is to try to get as many followers as you can before you make your first tweet. Its kinda challenging at first.

Whats next in social media?

Now that you have the basics covered in social media, with a Facebook page and a Twitter page for your app, the work begins!

First you release the app and make sure you post on Facebook and tweet on Twitter.

However, that is nothing yet. Try to post a message on Facebook and tweet on Twitter about the app a few times a week  just so people will see some activity with your accounts. The message posts can be on anything related to the app.

For example, lets say you get some nice reviews, post them on your facebook and tweet about them. The idea is to try to make sure there is activity on your accounts so the posts and tweets will be in peoples minds. Remember the concept: “Out of sight, out of mind”, well it applies here too.

This is just the basics of social media marketing for your app. I will write more tips in another article.

Press Release

Well this is a bit of a touchy subject. Yes writing a press release is important for your app. However, you have to be careful of which distribution outfit you will use. Many outfits will spam media and that can sort of give you a negative effect. Nonetheless, a Press release is important for you to have. Even if you do not use an outfit for your distribution, you will at least be able to send the press release to some adhoc media places (i.e. submitting for the app to be reviewed by review sites).

Review Sites

This is becoming more and more difficult as time passes. With so many apps out there, the app review sites are having trouble reviewing all of them And besides, if all of them would be reviewed, what would be the value for the readers? Getting on some of the big app review sites such as: www.148apps.com or www.appcraver.com is quite challenging.

Ads

Review Site Ads

Believe it or not this works wonders sometimes. Its not expensive and usually costs on average $149 per month or less depending on the length and traffic the review site has.

AdMob

Create an ad on AdMob for your app. Be careful here, since yes you can probably get LOTS of downloads, but depending on the cost of your app, it may just breakeven or make you very little. Do your math carefully here. (I will post another article on this subject later which can show you how you can technically get on a TOP 10 in app store with the right budget, however it will not be profitable)

Lite (free  versions)

As any other software product, people like “demos” before they buy. Create a lite version of your app. This will get you much more downloads and will probably increase your promotion of the paid apps.

Offer giveaways

Offer giveaways of your app. Maybe offer a special of giving your app for free for 1 day or a weekend. That will get you lots of downloads and will get you noticed by many review sites. Just be careful here, as it can also get you poor reviews.

All the above are just basics in marketing iPhone apps. Of course they all have more details in them which I will gladly post in due time.

Remove White Space From String

Removing white space from a string is common.

Use the below method


+ (NSString *) removeWhiteSpaceFromString: (NSString *) theString {
return [theString stringByTrimmingCharactersInSet:[NSCharacterSet whitespaceAndNewlineCharacterSet]];
}

Remove New Line From String

Removing a new line from a string is a very common task.

Here is a simple method you can use to accomplish this job


+ (NSString *) removeNewLineFromString: (NSString *) theString {

return [theString stringByTrimmingCharactersInSet:[NSCharacterSet newlineCharacterSet]];
}

then in your code just pass theString and it will return the newstring without the newline characters.

Basic SEO Tips

Section 1 – basic, website, tags, blogs

-Build a great web site. Ask yourself, “Is my site really one of the 10 best sites in the world on this topic?” Be honest. If it’s not, make it better.

- Be sure you have a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page of your site. And, if you MUST have the name of your company in it, put it at the end.

-If you have several topics that could each support their own website, it might be worth having multiple domains. Why? First, search engines usually list only one page per domain for any given search, and you might warrant two. Second, directories usually accept only home pages, so you can get more directory listings this way. Why not a site dedicated to gumbo pudding pops?

-Don’t be obsessed with PageRank. It is just one isty bitsy part of the ranking algorithm. A site with lower PR can actually outrank one with a higher PR.

-A big site needs a site map, which should be linked to from every page on the site. This will help the search engine robots find every page with just two clicks. A small site needs a site map, too. It’s called the navigation bar.

-Don’t design your web site without considering SEO. Make sure your web designer understands your expectations for organic SEO. Doing a retrofit on your shiny new Flash-based site after it is built won’t cut it. Spiders can crawl text, not Flash or images. Use keywords and keyword phrases appropriately in text links, image ALT attributes and even your domain name.

-Make sure your site is easy to use. This can influence your link building ability and popularity and, thus, you’re ranking.

-Start a blog and participate with other related blogs. Search engines, Google especially, love blogs for the fresh content and highly-structured data. Beyond that, there’s no better way to join the conversations that are already taking place about your industry and/or company. Reading and commenting on other blogs can also increase your exposure and help you acquire new links. Related bonus tip: Put your blog at yourdomain.com/blog so your main domain gets the benefit of any links to your blog posts. If that’s not possible, use blog.yourdomain.com.

Section 2 – link buildings….

- When link building, think quality, not quantity. One single, good, authoritative link can do a lot more for you than a dozen poor quality links, which can actually hurt you.

- Make sure you have links coming in to as many pages as possible. What does it tell a search engine when other web sites are linking to different pages on your site? That you obviously have lots of worthwhile content. What does it tell a search engine that all your links are coming in to the home page? That you have a shallow site of little value, or that your links were generated by automation rather than by the value of your site.

-Be sure links to your site and within your site use your keyword phrase. In other words, if your target is “blue widgets” then link to “blue widgets” instead of a “Click here” link.

Section 3 – fresh contents

- Add new, useful content to your pages on a regular basis. Fresh content can help improve your rankings. Content freshness adds relevancy to your site in the eyes of the search engines.

-Create great, unique content. This is important for everyone, but it’s a particular challenge for online retailers. If you’re selling the same widget that 50 other retailers are selling, and everyone is using the boilerplate descriptions from the manufacturer, this is a great opportunity. Write your own product descriptions, using the keyword research you did earlier (see #9 above) to target actual words searchers use, and make product pages that blow the competition away. Plus, retailer or not, great content is a great way to get inbound links.

- Do the proper long tail keyword phrase research, and then implement them by spreading them in your articles, most importantly in the title, first paragraph, last paragraph, anchor text and once or twice in the body. That way you will rank in the first page of the search engines for that specific keyword.

-Search engines want natural language content. Don’t try to stuff your text with keywords. It won’t work. Search engines look at how many times a term is in your content and if it is abnormally high, will count this against you rather than for you.

-Write for users first. Google, Yahoo, etc., have pretty powerful bots crawling the web, but to my knowledge these bots have never bought anything online, signed up for a newsletter, or picked up the phone to call about your services. Humans do those things, so write your page copy with humans in mind. Yes, you need keywords in the text, but don’t stuff each page like a Thanksgiving turkey. Keep it readable.

-You’ve heard of link exchanges, useless as they generally are. Article exchanges are like link exchanges, only much more useful. You publish someone else’s article on the history of pudding pops with a link back to their site. They publish your article on the top ten pudding pop flavors in Viet Nam, with a link back to your site. You both have content. You both get high quality links. (More on high quality links in other tips.)

================================

More tips:

1.Do the proper long tail keyword phrase research, then implement them by spreading them in your articles, most importantly in the title, first paragraph, last paragraph, anchor text and once or twice in the body. That way you will rank in the first page of the search engines for that specific keyword.

2.Be sure you have a unique, keyword focused Title tag on every page of your site. And, if you MUST have the name of your company in it, put it at the end. Unless you are a major brand name that is a household name, your business name will probably get few searches.

3.Fresh content can help improve your rankings. Add new, useful content to your pages on a regular basis. Content freshness adds relevancy to your site in the eyes of the search engines.

4.If your site content doesn’t change often, your site needs a blog because search spiders like fresh text. Blog at least three time a week with good, fresh content to feed those little crawlers.

5.When link building, think quality, not quantity. One single, good, authoritative link can do a lot more for you than a dozen poor quality links, which can actually hurt you.

6.Article Marketing can be extremely powerful, but there is a whole science to it.

Be patient. SEO isn’t about instant gratification. Results often take months to see, and this is especially true the smaller you are, and the newer you are to doing business online. Commit yourself to the process. SEO isn’t a one-time event. Search engine algorithms change regularly, so the tactics that worked last year may not work this year. SEO requires a long-term outlook and commitment.

Posted in SEO | Tagged |

Reusable App Development Framework

Apps are becoming so popular these days. My team and I are coding apps so quickly like hot cakes. Already I am beginning to work on several classes which I will make reusable so I can make my development cycles shorter.

I have decided the obvious. In many of the apps which we code, content seems to require changing. I have created a web interface in which we can change the content and then we can call web services to get the content.

Play Sound File

The code to play a sound file is quite easy. The SDK allows you to play a sound file up to 30 seconds long. It must be in the file system included in your app. Apple suggests using CAF files, although WAV files are also supported.


// Make sure to import this library
#import "SoundEffect.h"

- (void) playSound: (NSString *) soundFile {

NSBundle *mainBundle = [NSBundle mainBundle];

NSFileManager *fileManager = [NSFileManager defaultManager];

// Check if the file is in our filesystem
if([fileManager fileExistsAtPath:[mainBundle pathForResource:soundFile ofType:@"wav"]]) // You can change to any other supported file type
{
NSLog(@"File Exists");

soundFile = [[SoundEffect alloc] initWithContentsOfFile:[mainBundle pathForResource:soundFile ofType:@"wav"]];

[soundFile play];

}
else
{
NSLog(@"File NOT Exist");
}
}

Application Error Logging


SET ANSI_NULLS ON
GO
SET QUOTED_IDENTIFIER ON
GO
CREATE TABLE [Core].[ApplicationError](
[Origin] [smallint] NULL,
[Description] [nvarchar](300) NULL,
[UserID] [bigint] NULL,
[DateCreated] [datetime] NOT NULL CONSTRAINT [DF_Error_DateCreated] DEFAULT (getdate())
) ON [PRIMARY]