Category Archives: iPhone Development

Click Here to Request a FREE Quote to Develop an iPhone App or Android App

Integrating SharePoint, iPhone Apps and Android Apps

Microsoft SharePoint Logo

Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is a popular content and data management system, which integrates easily with non-microsoft technology, such as iPhone Apps and Android Apps.

The functionality of SharePoint I have experience integrating is SharePoint Lists.

A SharePoint List is a cross between a web document and a database. It provides means for quickly building and maintaining structured data, and defining relationships between different elements of that data.

For example, you can define a Microsoft SharePoint list which holds details of assets which your company manages, such as factories, shops, or other inventory, then define a second list, which provides a maintenance history for each asset. The second list can be linked to the first list, so for example you can enforce that one of the fields in the second list must be the identity of an asset in the first list.

SharePoint takes care of the complexity of handling collaborative updates to list documents, such as versioning of each change.

There is even an attractive web interface, which is compatible with most mobile devices, and several excellent iPhone Apps and Android Apps, for accessing your SharePoint portal.

So why would you ever need a bespoke iPhone App or Android App, to interact with SharePoint?

The reason clients ask me for help with SharePoint integration is because standard, off the shelf apps do not deliver a specific feature or set of features they require.

For example, what do you do if you want to take SharePoint offline? A client had a requirement that mobile apps be able to be used at sites with poor Internet coverage, so they needed an app which could populate the fields of new SharePoint list instances, and save the new instances in the internal storage of their iPad device, so all the saved changes could be applied to the server once the user had access to the Internet.

Another scenario, a client wanted to extend SharePoint functionality with app device capabilities, to create the ability to upload mobile camera photos to SharePoint list instances, and to upload GPS readings.

Finally, since the apps are interacting with SharePoint as a data store, the Apps are free to implement their own front end – they can guide users through the data acquisition or data delivery process, by imposing a specific workflow on the users – by granting users a limited view of the underlying SharePoint data, and by ensuring all necessary steps of a workflow are executed in the correct order.

A bespoke SharePoint iPhone App or Android App can preserve SharePoint flexibility. It is entirely possible for mobile Apps to apply the bespoke SharePoint functionality extensions on a list field by field basis, to allow the list structure to be changed, to allow new fields to be exposed to users without having to release a new version of the bespoke iPhone or Android SharePoint App.

Bespoke Customisation of the SharePoint experience can help with delivering acceptance and enthusiastic adoption of the underlying SharePoint implementation, by painlessly integrating user requirements which are not best handled by the standard toolset.

Contact me now, if you have or are interested in creating a Microsoft SharePoint based user experience, but have requirements which go beyond what the standard tools can deliver.

Apple announces iPhone 6, iPhone 6+ and new iWatch

The long anticipated announcement from Apple has arrived – two new iPhones, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+, and a new iWatch, to be released early next year.

Pre-ordering is available from the 12th in Australia.

iOS 8, the new Apple Operating System, will also be released on the 17th September.

All I can say is – WOW. New operating systems bring both challenges and opportunities.

The challenge is that some apps will inevitably break – if you have any concerns about your iPhone app, Contact me now for advice on how to proof your app against the new upgrade.

The opportunity is the new capabilities that iOS 8 will bring to iPhone Apps, and the new possibilities the faster A8 processor will open.

For more information on how your iPhone app can benefit from iOS 8, or how this transforms the landscape of what is possible, Contact

Apple Announces new mobile OS for iPhone Apps

Apple has just announced iOS 8 – a feature rich upgrade to their mobile device operating system.

For mobile app development, iOS 8 provides exciting new features which can be incorporated into new or upgraded app.

The most interesting changes appear to be to iPhone app camera and photo editing capabilities – Apple have announced a new framework called “PhotoKit”, which allows apps to use built-in and third party photo editing filters, with minimal effort.

In addition, Apple appear to be embracing third party provision of iPhone App extensions.

Up until now, iPhone Apps, unlike Android Apps, have mostly lived in a world of their own. While in theory apps can call each other and pass information via Apple’s Custom URL Scheme, in practice very few iPhone Apps have taken full advantage of this feature, except for apps in the same suite, produced by the same developer or app client.

Apple’s iPhone App document scheme, which allows iPhone Apps to advertise that they have the capability to open specific types of document, has seen more use, but this feature, while very useful, requires that an iPhone App surrender control to another iPhone App – not a paradigm which is conducive to a smooth, seamless user experience.

Apple also have a little known method of advertising social media sharing capability – if you have a brand new social media site, and you want your system to appear in the list, when someone clicks the “share” button, Apple provides a means by which your iPhone App can advertise its availability. But this is a fairly esoteric feature, which I have rarely seen in the wild.

With iOS 8, Apple appears to be experimenting with third party provision of seamless iPhone App extensions, specifically third party photo filters, functionality which can be embedded inside an app, without the need for surrendering control to other apps in order to use it.

We look forward to development of this new and exciting feature set in the Apple iPhone App space.

Apple have also announced a new iPhone app development language called “Swift”. As a developer, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on this new language, and having a play, but at this stage I don’t think the new language will have much impact on app development, from a client perspective.

Talking to your Android and iPhone Mobile Apps


Apple iPhone App Developers are all waiting with baited breath for Apple to allow open access to their SIRI engine, Apple’s engine for understanding spoken communication. As of the last time I checked (about 5 minutes ago), Apple does not allow Apps to start SIRI – so users can choose to say fill a text field with SIRI, but the app cannot start SIRI on behalf of the user.

Android has a voice recognition window which an app can open – but it is not really under the control of the app. The Android app can request that the Android phone or tablet present a window which accepts voice, then when the user indicates they have finished speaking, Android passes control back to the app, which can analyse the result of the voice recognition effort.

Neither of these options is “natural” – both the iPhone and Android option are in my opinion clunky, they require the user to take positive action to restore control back to the app.

If your iPhone app or Android app needs hands free voice control, the app needs to be able to initiate voice recognition, detect when someone is speaking, and process the voice to determine what was said, independent of whether the user presses a button.

Thankfully, third party service providers have filled this gap.

My favourite is Dragon Mobile. Dragon Mobile SDK is provided by the same company which publishes Dragon Speech, the legendary desktop PC speech recognition application, Nuance. Nuance has been in the game for over a decade – from somewhat humble beginnings, their product has developed into a sophisticated and reliable speech recognition system, a remarkable achievement in artificial intelligence.

The only downside of Dragon is it relies on an Internet connection. The processing power required to recognise and interpret normal spoken sentences is far greater than an Android App or iPhone app can deploy, so Dragon SDK ships the compressed sound files via the Internet to their servers.

What is the Internet bandwidth is an issue? There are still options. An Android App or iPhone app does not have the processing power to interpret any arbitrary spoken sentence, but it does have the processing power to recognise individual words. So if your iPhone app or Android app only has to recognise a handful of words, such as “yes”, “no”, and “maybe”, then the processing power for this simplified task can be comfortably accommodated without an internet connection to an external server.

If you are interested in Android Apps or iPhone Apps which can recognise speech, or which can read text from images (optical character recognition), please email, to discuss your requirements.

Should Apple sell Android Phones?

Steve Wozniak, one of the original founders of Apple, recently stunned Apple fans by suggesting Apple should build Android phones.

“There’s nothing that would keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market,” said Wozniak. “We could compete very well. People like the precious looks of stylings and manufacturing that we do in our product compared to the other Android offerings. We could play in two arenas at the same time.”

My question – instead of building a separate handset, why don’t Apple allow iPhones to run Android apps?

From a developer perspective, it is technically easier to write Apple iPhone apps than Android apps. The Android App development system (the software used to create Android Apps) is much more difficult to work with than the iPhone App development system – the Android app system is more temperamental, crashes frequently, is fiddly (it often takes hours to figure out why your code is not compiling) and is really, really slow, especially when you are trying to test your work in progress Android app in the Android Emulator. So I am happy to write Android apps – but I prefer to write the Apple iPhone version of the App first.

However, there is no reason why Apple couldn’t fix all this.

Under the late Steve Jobs, Apple was unremittingly hostile towards cross platform development tools – tools which would allow say a Flash application to run on an Apple phone. But I have always wondered whether this prejudice against alternatives was because Jobs was emotionally attached to the NeXT tools he developed when he left Apple in the 80s – and brought with him, when a desperate Apple Corporation reinstated Steve Jobs as CEO. Jobs may have worried other cross platform technologies might displace his iPhone development environment, if he allowed other technologies on his iPhone.

However, aside from the software, Apple iPhone hardware is technologically very similar to Android phones – both Android phones and Apple iPhones use ARM processors, and have similar specifications. Apple iPhones have all the hardware they need to run Android Apps.

If Apple relaxes its software policy a little, Apple has a golden opportunity to be the best of both worlds – to utterly dominate both the Apple and Android app market, with one handset. To bring their design genius to the task of creating a market leading iPhone which can run most of the world’s apps.

Apple could even bring much needed improvements to the Android development environment. If the technically superb Apple XCode iPhone App development environment came pre-configured with the ability to create Android apps, nobody would ever bother using anything else.

Time will tell whether Apple seizes this golden opportunity, or whether the ghost of Steve Jobs keeps Apple loyal to the prejudices of their old master.

If you would like to know more about the difference between Android apps and iPhone apps, or would like to discuss an app idea, please contact Eric Worrall.

If your app idea is not quite ready to go to a developer, please visit Apps Nursery, for expert assistance with exploring and developing your app idea.

A Sure Fire Best Seller App

If the mobile app works, the reward could be millions of dollars, even hundreds of millions.

How do you create a successful iPhone or Android app, which generates vast wealth?

I knew the secret of creating a sure fire best seller app, I wouldn’t be creating mobile apps for other people, I would be creating sure fire best seller Android and iPhone apps for myself.

But I have learned a little along the way.

Consider the runaway success of app gaming – Angry Birds.

The creators of Angry Birds, Rovio, developed over 50 flops before they created the Angry Birds app – they almost went bust.

Were they stupid to create the flops? Were they doing something wrong, which they suddenly got right? Was Angry Birds the result of an epiphany, or was it simply dogged determination? Was each failure a learning experience? Did each failure teach them something? Or did they just get really lucky?

One thing we can safely conclude from the Angry Birds story, is that persistence improves your chances of success. If they had given up, say by the 50th failure, there would never have been an Angry Birds.

You also hear stories about instant success stories. One of my favourites is a simple physics game written by a 14 yr old kid called “Bubble Ball”.

Kid picks up a book on iPhone programming, and spends a couple of weeks writing a game. His mum helped him develop the game levels. The result – millions of downloads.

Even simple ideas sometimes work.

I might not have created an Angry Birds or Bubble Ball (yet!), but I have some useful advice to offer, Based on seeing which apps worked for my clients. The successes I have personally been involved in have all succeeded because of word of mouth.

Before spending your hard earned money, try to work out if the app is something you would tell your friends about. Is the app something you can’t put down? Is the idea something which your friends tell other friends about? Because ultimately, this excitement is what will drive an Android app or iPhone app to success.

If the mobile app works, the reward could be millions of dollars, even hundreds of millions. Its a big risk, but the potential rewards are life changing.

That is what keeps us all in the game.

If you have an app idea, and would like to bounce ideas off someone, to get it ready for development, please contact Apps Nursery

Contact Eric at if you would like more information about mobile apps, iPhone apps or Android apps.

Announcing Apps Nursery – Mobile Apps Made Easy

Apps Nursery is an exciting initiative by Desirable Apps and Statuam to help people with a great idea for an iPhone, iPad or Android app to progress their idea into a working mobile app. The idea is to break development of the phone app into small, affordable steps.

For more information about this exciting innovation in app development, please see the AppsNursery website.

The Rise and Rise of Mobile Phones

A while ago, a software developer friend told me about a PC fighter plane game he was working on. He was literally spending thousands of hours researching game engines, polishing scenarios, making the graphics as realistic as possible.

So I decided to help him with a demonstration.

Next time we were out with some other friends, I asked everyone “What was the last PC software package you bought?”.

Everyone looked at me blankly.

Then I asked “What is your favourite mobile phone app?”

Everyone pulled out their mobile phones and started talking at the same time.

My software developer friend leaned forward quietly and said “you b*stard” – but he took my point.

Last I heard he had converted all his software to run on a mobile game engine, and was busy making it all look good for a mobile environment.

PCs still have their uses – as Steve Jobs, the legendary ex-CEO of Apple once said, a PC is good for content creation. I usually use a Mac laptop to create new entries for this blog.

But mobile devices – phones, iPads, tablets – have come to utterly dominate content consumption.

Next time you think up a great idea for a PC application, take the thought a little further, and consider how your idea would work in a mobile phone environment. Because the chances are it would work well – and Mobile is where the action is.

For more information about mobile phone app development, iPhone development, or Android development, please contact Eric Worrall.

Announcing Sun Star GIS – a new Geospatial App

I met Patrick, director of Yellow Dot Geospatial, at an Apple seminar.

Patrick is a Geospatial mapping expert. He had noticed that GPS location and heading information which Apple stores every time you take a photo with an iPhone 4 or iPhone 5 (see Location Services) rivals the quality of expensive industry standard geospatial equipment – that an iPhone has the capacity to replace thousands of dollars worth of specialised geospatial photography kit. But Patrick also noticed a gap in the market – extracting and packaging the iPhone photographs was time consuming, and required the use of expensive third party software.

Desirable Apps helped Patrick realise his vision of a better solution – under Patrick’s guidance, we developed an app which allows users to select images from their photo album, and package the images into industry standard geospatial mapping files – either a KMZ file (compatible with Google Earth), or a set of Shape Files (compatible with specialised GIS software such as Arc GIS).

Click HERE to see the Sun Star GIS app website.

Patrick is very happy with the outcome of this project – he now owns a potentially game changing app, which is attracting high level interest from individuals and organisations, whose only option prior to the development of Sun Star GIS was to spend thousands of dollars per mapping consultant purchasing expensive specialised equipment and software. Patrick is particularly excited about the app’s offline capability, which allows GIS consultants in the field to do their job without the need for an Internet connection, and the app’s ability to use photographs which were created before the app was installed.

If you would like to know more about Sun Star GIS, please contact Yellow Dot Geospatial. If you would like to know more about how we can help you develop your vision into a mobile app, or have any questions about the technology, please contact Eric Worrall.

The New iPhone – What You Need to Know

Time to review your apps – Apple has officially announced two new iPhones – the iPhone 5S, and the more budget oriented iPhone 5C.

Both phones will run iOS 7, and iOS 7 will shortly be offered to existing phones – which could potentially break existing apps.

A new mobile operating system is an exciting opportunity to offer new products and services – but for mobile app development, it also presents risks to the stability of existing mobile apps.

While Apple operating systems are highly compatible with each other, every new version of the operating system comes with new rules, new ways of doing things. Sometimes these new rules break existing apps, often in subtle ways.
The key areas to watch in iOS 7 apps appear to be further tightening of the rules regarding access to iPhone contacts, and changes to how apps access internal identifiers.

While most of the pain of changes to address book access occurred with the upgrade to iOS 6, there are still likely to be apps caught out by the iOS 7 rule changes.

Similarly, a number of games will potentially be affected by the internal identifier rule change. In iOS 7, Apple have removed access to an API which a lot of game developers use, to uniquely identify a device – especially with multiplayer games. So quite a few games will simply break when the phone or iPad is updated to iOS 7.

There are also changes to screen layout rules, which might catch a few apps.

My advice – make sure your developer is available, to help you if you hit problems. If you are especially worried, for example if you have a profitable app which you want to protect, your developer can assist you with testing your app using a pre-release version of iOS 7, to minimise the risk of embarrassing failures when people try to use your app on an upgraded phone.

If you have any questions about how the imminent shift to iOS 7 might affect your app(s), please leave a comment, or contact me for more information.