Mobile Apps

Android Apps on Windows?

From:

Microsoft is bringing Android apps to Windows 11 with Amazon’s Appstore – The Verge:

Microsoft says it’s using Amazon’s Appstore to bring Android apps to Windows 11. Apps will be listed in the new Windows store, and can be pinned to the taskbar or snapped alongside traditional Windows apps. Microsoft is also partnering with Intel to use its Intel Bridge technology to make this a reality, although the Android apps will still work with both AMD and Arm-based systems.

So, Android Apps on Windows?, not via the Google Play store  though – would have been interested on being a fly on the wall assuming those conversations happened! We’re short of details, but this is an exciting play. Microsoft already has a development route to market for Android using it’s own plaforms (Xamarin allows code (almost) once development in C# using Visual Studio to develop cross platform mobile apps) so it makes sense to tie themselves further into Android having abandoned their own Windows Mobile platform.

Using the Amazon Store however is not an assumed simple move for existing Android apps, certainly there’s some hoops to jump through to migrate to Amazon and losing Google Play Services could mean platform changes of functionality losses.

I’m off now to research the Intel Bridge technology that they are using, news is a little thin but this quote from Engadget offers some suggestions;

Intel says Bridge is a runtime post-compiler that allows applications that were originally designed for a variety of different hardware platforms to run natively on x86 devices. The company points out the technology is part of its ongoing XPU strategy, which means it won’t be merely limited to bringing Android apps to Windows 11.

Probably not quite enough to get me to jump to Windows 11, not now that I’m all in on Apple Silicon! But If you’d like to know more about cross platform apps, mobile or otherwise, and how they could benefit your business then I’d love to hear from you.

About me

Andy Flisher is a Mobile App Developer based in the North East of England with over 20 years software development experience. He is available for hire and specialises in cross platform mobile app development, web applications, desktop software, bespoke cloud architecture solutions and providing outsourced project management services.

Just because you can write once, and deploy to many – doesn’t mean you should

From: Flutter is no longer a cross-platform framework — it is something more. | by Luke Urban:

One of the main things pointed out during this year’s Flutter Engage was the ability to build your app to one of six platforms: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux and web. That’s awesome news! But…

I massively agree with this article, just because you can write once, and deploy to many – doesn’t mean you should.

I approach this from a Xamarin / Xamarin Forms perspective, I haven’t dabbled in Flutter as it doesn’t solve a problem for me, but the same rings true. An app written using Xamarin Frameworks (C# / .Net) can be run and deployed on the Mac (Arm and Intel), Windows, Linux, iOS (Including Watches and Apple TV’s), Android, the Web, Tizen and probably a few more I’m forgetting – it absolutley doesn’t mean you should.

Platform users have different expectations, be it UI, layout, actions and responses (eg swipe to delete from a list in iOS vs press and hold in Android), different platforms have different input mechanisms (touch vs mouse), output standards (Watch screen vs 65″ TV Panel) all change how you the developer need to consider the app, the presentation, the user experience – it’s just not possible for one code base to achieve all of the above, without work from you.

For example, with Xamarin I can make a decision to use Xamarin Native (specific iOS and Android projects, seperate code and UI bases but maybe some shared underlying central code – eg data layers, low level stuff) or Xamarin Forms (Single code base, single UI base). The latter allows me to override, or do platform specific customisations, but at what point do all those exceptions become less efficient than developing seperately. Good development decisions need to be made, and that comes from experience and working with your client.

Still, the premise runs true, just because you can write once, and deploy to many – doesn’t mean you should.

About me

Andy Flisher is a Mobile App Developer based in the North East of England with over 20 years software development experience. He is available for hire and specialises in cross platform mobile app development, web applications, desktop software, bespoke cloud architecture solutions and providing outsourced project management services.

File -> New -> Project -> Swiss Ball App?

New client project time, swiss balls, apps, iPhone / android and a Teesside collaboration to boot, watch this space 🤷‍♂️

Apple previews powerful software updates designed for people with disabilities

From:

Apple previews powerful software updates designed for people with disabilities – Apple:

Later this year, with software updates across all of Apple’s operating systems, people with limb differences will be able to navigate Apple Watch using AssistiveTouch; iPad will support third-party eye-tracking hardware for easier control; and for blind and low vision communities, Apple’s industry-leading VoiceOver screen reader will get even smarter using on-device intelligence to explore objects within images. In support of neurodiversity, Apple is introducing new background sounds to help minimize distractions, and for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, Made for iPhone (MFi) will soon support new bi-directional hearing aids.

Some of these are incredible technical achievements for a mainstream, publically accessible device – previously only available in expensive or unavailable dedicated products.

In a more geeky train of thought, if this level of announcement doesn’t fit for WWDC next month then can’t wait to see what’s lined up.

Version 1.2 of our ‘Worst’ URL Shortener released

Version 1.2 of our ‘Worst’ URL Shortener is now available, the highlight is the ability to store a full history of links you have shortened and re-share them at any time.

Available on iOS and Android but beta programs are available for iOS, Mac and Windows

[1.2.0 – March 2021]

Added

  • Improved Release Notes page
  • Added History Page
  • Toast Style notification when copying to clipboard

Changed

  • Improved main page, and iOS share sheet device size handling
  • Improved Support Page layout
  • Moved Config to static class

Fixed

  • Fixed Message build error on Android
  • Fixed theme so consistent in darkmode
  • Bug fixes

The ‘Worst’ URL Shortener is a quick, fast link shortening app allowing you to choose from a variety of url shortening services, and convert that long, cumbersome URL into something short and far easier to communicate

Download on the App Store

Edited 17/03/21 to reflect iOS version now available

Version 1.8 of our ‘Worst’ Server Monitor released

Version 1.8 of our ‘Worst’ Server Monitor is now available, this is mostly a maintenance update, shifts a few bugs, some UI improvements and allows you to submit your ideas direct from the app.  The full release notes are below;

[1.8 – 24/02/2021]

Added

  • Added Feature Request / Support Ticket

Changed

  • Upgraded XyrohLib and added Breadcrumbs for better support assistance
  • Changed FAQ Link
  • Changed Android Target API to 29

Fixed

  • Fixed some minor UI / Layout issues
  • Fixed dark mode issue for iOS
  • Couple of bug fixes
  • Fixed Android auncher icon issue
  • Fixed Soft Keyboard input / view issue on smaller screen

The ‘Worst’ Server Monitor is a client for a variety of Website Monitoring and Server Uptime services, currently available for iOS and  Android, it’s purpose is simple, a quick and fast way of accessing your monitored sites and servers and seeing their status.

Download on the App Store

Some of the best Xamarin mobile app examples out there today

Let’s look at some showcase app examples that use Xamarin.Forms.

www.telerik.com/blogs/bes…

Those that have worked with me know I’m a big proponent of ‘best tool for the job’ and #Xamarin based solutions often fit that criteria, especially for line of business applications and simple tools – here’s a showcase of some example apps out there

Imagine you had a globally successful mobile app and you were forced to sell?

This is the odd situation that’s been unravelling in the US this month for TikTok after Donald Trump ordered Bytedance to sell off it’s US business, that TikTok, a globally successful mobile app, must be sold to remain operational in the US.

Trump’s distrust of China

The background is that Trump and his government don’t trust China (here in the UK we have similar distrust towards Chinese owned Huawei) for reasons we’re not privvy to, Bytedance is, or certainly initially was, a Chinese company. However Tiktok has a huge following (3.7 million users) and is valued at over $50 billion, by all metrics it’s a successful mobile app. If that was your startup you’d be pretty happy.

Now imagine you were old to give up / sell up a major chunk of that because a foreign power doesn’t like or trust you? Unsurprisingly the Chinese are not happy, and already put the blockers on Microsoft purchasing Tiktok, that deal was supposed to remove all Trump’s concerns (Security and use of the data, search histories, locations, and anything else their algorithm defines) with an outright technology purchase.

Oracle?

Where it gets weirder, is now that an outright purchase of TikTok US is off the table, it seems Oracle are the forerunners, but as a technology partner, not entirely sure what this means, but in essence it sounds like the be all of hosting deals. But as the Verge states Oracle’s TikTok deal accomplishes nothing.

After months of insistence that TikTok sever its US operations from Chinese ownership, we’re now settling for a vague partnership between Oracle and the US TikTok operation. It’s still unclear exactly what Oracle’s “trusted tech partner” status entails,

So is this a save face by Trump, making ‘something’ happen, assuming that Oracle hosting all this data will ease the concerns his government has (assuming they are valid concerns in the first place), just some sort of electioneering (his deadline was end of September to get a deal done)? Either way, it does little to progress us to a true, global, mobile app economy.

And back to the topic, what you do, if some foreign Gov came along one day and ordered you to divest, at no doubt less than market value as an enforced sale? Price of success for a successful mobile app?

About me

Andy Flisher is a Mobile App Developer based in the North East of England with over 20 years software development experience. He is available for hire and specialises in cross platform mobile app development, web applications, desktop software, bespoke cloud architecture solutions and providing outsourced project management services.

Some thoughts on the Apple App Store, and App Store quality, as a developer, as a consumer, and a parent

There have been a lot or articles around the App Store, and App Store quality, in the last few weeks, and I’ve had some frustrating interactions myself, but John Gruber’s article below hit home the most, maybe Apple should spent more time using their muscle policing the quality in the App Store, and the end users experience rather than their bottom line.

Daring Fireball: A Moment of Clarity Regarding the Raison d’Etre for the App Store:

Feel free to file Google’s release this week of an update to their iPad Gmail app with support for split-screen multitasking under “better late than never”, but this is so late it borders on the absurd. It’s like the difference between showing up fashionably late and showing up a week after the party.

The quick summary of John’s article is that that Google’s gmail app for iPad could have had split screen (good for more productive work on the iPad, eg email on one side of the screen, another app on the other) 5 years ago, but it didn’t, yet this app is one of the most downloaded, most used iPad apps on the platform. Should Apple not be policing these top tier apps, the most used / downloaded, however you chose to measure it and pushing them to be better, more features, a better user experience, after all there are many, many users who will benefit.

Gmail split view 0

In complete contrast, I’m at the final stages of a cross platform, open source, demo app (don’t tell Apple!) it has very little functionality, a simple utility, that’s free, who’s reason for existence at my end is a technical one, to show how this cross platform code can develop the same utility on iOS, Android, Mac and windows desktop (for starters). It’ll be on Github and an example for others to build on. It got rejected by Apple for not having enough features, they even openly admitted that it’s not for them to define the functionality of the app, except they were, and they did! (Not a biggy, I’m just putting some of the version 2 ideas I had in now). My point however, is if apple can dictate quality, and functionality to little old me, in an app that will affect approximately 20 people on the planet, why can’t they do the same for an app that’s offering a poor experience to millions? Because it involves butting heads with Google 🤔

On a similar note, in terms of improving the end user experience, Gems, game drugs as I call them, the concept of In App Purchases for games, marketed at kids, who just, want, want, want. I hate them. This caused tears in my household this weekend, all thanks to the need to buy gems to progress further in a game (there’s no method to earn progress, you have to buy it). Now we use parental controls, so my daughter has to request in app purchases, and most of the time we say no and suggest Apple Arcade which we also pay for (something created by Apple because they can see the problem these games create), as it has no IAP, no gems, just good quality games. On this occasion, as a treat I said yes, the next day she requested again, so we had a conversation about how this wasn’t going to be a habit, and I said no, the first time was a one off. A few hours later she came to see me, all excited, she’d found a YouTube video that ‘showed’ how if you download this other app you would get free gems to the former – so clearly the need for gems was on her mind and she’d been off looking. Of course this won’t work, at least not in the way she thinks, and just perpetuates the problem more, another app, with adverts (which is how their short attention spans find these in the first place) probably asking for gems itself, and so the cycle continues. So I had to sit down and explain to her, that this was not what my poor trusting daughter thought it was, the offer of free gems was not true, it was just a lure, and of course that she couldn’t have her gems, and her world was broken, cue tears, and me, an angry helpless parent 😢

Unknown

I need to spend more time in Apple Arcade with the kids, I’ll admit that, but the games are almost too big, too good, the kids don’t invest time in mobile games – not like PC or console – they like quick pick up, put down games I’m open to any recommendations, as a big kid I enjoy the odd game too), and obviously indifferent to quality! Apple Arcade games are more traditional, and for what ever reason they aren’t appealing to my kids – I really think Apple need to refocus on this, but of course will they? The cynic in me thinks they like their 30% cut on gems, game drugs, and aren’t motivated to fix that.

So back to the premise, if Apple are going to preach, quality control on their App Store then do so, do it well, and be dictate it, and be consistent. But don’t pretend, that’s almost worse than letting things become a dumping ground like the Google Play store can be, at least you know where the bar is there, and protect accordingly. People want App Store quality, so please give it to us, and as a developer I’ll work with you to hit those standards.

Rant over.

About me

Andy Flisher is a Mobile App Developer based in the North East of England with over 20 years software development experience. He is available for hire and specialises in cross platform mobile app development, web applications, desktop software, bespoke cloud architecture solutions and providing outsourced project management services.

Some thoughts on this weeks Apple Developer conference – WWDC 2020

Today sees the conclusion of the annual Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (aka WWDC 2020), and I just wanted to offer a few thoughts and highlights as to what’s been announced, what we can expect, and what it means to me and my clients.

First off it was a highly polished and professional keynote, as you would expect from Apple, but more so considering much of the events charm is in the atmosphere of a full auditorium of developers, something not possible this year for obvious reasons.

Wwdc 2020 mr logo

Apple Mac and the move to ARM

The big announcement, and worst kept secret, was that going forward new Apple Mac products (iMac, MacBook, Mac Pro etc) will be running Apple Silicone (ARM based processors – like the iPhone and iPad), a move away from the current Intel (x86 – like most Windows PC’s and Laptops use) chips. At a technical level this is massive for developers, but Apple have made as easy a pathway as possible, where it does become interesting though as this means there will be the ability for iPhone apps to run, out of the box on new Apple hardware. This means there will be a lot more apps available for the Mac instantly, but also a dilemma for developers and clients considering a Mac presence, to you optimise the Mac app as you have always done before, or make do with your iPhone app working on the Mac even if the experience is not idea?

Mac OS Big Sur as it’s named got a visual overall too, looking very similar to the iPad it has to be said – time will tell on that one I think

Control center big sur 610x610

iPhone and iPad

Even though technically iOS and iPad OS are separate things now, I’ll tag them together under the iOS 14 banner. I’m already running this in Beta, and so far it looks very pretty, stable, and a decent step forward, highlights include;

– Widgets on the home screens
– Upgraded Messages app (Pinned conversations, mentions etc)
– Offline translation
– App clips – Mini apps you don’t have to install / login and just use once, eg car parking apps
– Improved privacy notifications in Safari
– Scribbles – Handwriting recognition from the Apple Pencil to enter small amounts of text / search etc

Screenshot 2020 06 26 at 11 22 56

Apple Watch

No real headline grabbers here, Watch OS 7 is just everything a little bigger and better than before, new workouts, watch faces, emoji (of course!), sleep tracking, and make sure you wash your hands properly!

Screenshot 2020 06 26 at 11 27 28

Overall there’s a lot to work through, for many it’s, just an iterative year, for developers a little more exciting, but if you’d like to know more about Apple, WWDC 2020, or you are considering getting an App developed for any of the Apple platforms then I’d love to hear from you.

About me

Andy Flisher is a Mobile App Developer based in the North East of England with over 20 years software development experience. He is available for hire and specialises in cross platform mobile app development, web applications, desktop software, bespoke cloud architecture solutions and providing outsourced project management services.