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Thread: Apps and Icons and Smart Phones, Oh My

  1. #1
    Senior Member RayC's Avatar
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    Default Apps and Icons and Smart Phones, Oh My

    Hey, all

    I have a client determined to drag me kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. She says she wants an "App", and I tell her I use my cell phone for, you know, like, talking to people. I have no experience and no clue about this, so I'm reaching out for a little edu-ma-catin'.

    1.) To have an "Icon" in amongst all your other phone icons that merely launches the browser and goes to the (mobile) site: Is this just a bookmark with a FavIcon, or is an "app" required?
    (NB - Just found some info on Blackberry, where an actual Javascript App is required to place an icon on the phone and open the browser to the site in question when selected. )

    B.) I understand (at least conceptually ) that an App like "Angry Birds" is and actual program that runs on your phone, but for something like a bank that has an App -- would that just be like the above; a link to their mobile web site?

    And while I'm on this; a mobile site is just a skinny website, no? Have I been way ahead of the curve by sticking to a 760 px wide layout standard instead of 1000 px?
    Ray Cambpell
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    Senior Member mia's Avatar
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    If she wants to have an app, this link might be interesting for you.

    http://developer.apple.com/programs/ios/
    http://www.nof-community.de
    NOF-Community, Hilfe, Support, Tutorials, Anleitungen, Tipps und Tricks für Netobjects Fusion und SwissKnife Komponenten

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    Senior Member RayC's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, Mia

    I'm still at the point of figuring out what an app would actually do in this case. The site basically has private file upload/download areas for clients. So as far as an "app" goes, my thinking is it would just be a link to the login screen of a mobile version of the site.

    It's a little daunting to think that I would need to:
    • Buy a Mac
    • Buy an iPhone
    • Buy an iPad
    • Pay $99/year

    to develop an app this is basically a bookmark. Although, from what I've Binged so far, creating a bookmark on the iPhone does not require an app. It's just like bookmarking in a browser.

    For the Blackberry, I've found this link that has the Javascript code required.

    I'm just trying to get my head around what's involved, and hoping someone with more knowledge and experience can provide some pointers -- as you have so helpfully done.
    Ray Cambpell
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Beach Ape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayC View Post
    It's a little daunting to think that I would need to:
    • Buy a Mac
    • Buy an iPhone
    • Buy an iPad
    • Pay $99/year

    to develop an app this is basically a bookmark.
    You may want to have a conversation with your client to see if they know why they want an app. They may just want one because so-and-so said they're all the rage right now.

    An app is a little more than bookmark. While some apps are free, other's are revenue generators because they have to be purchased. If your client is going to give it away free, then the cost is most likely prohibitive to use it as a bookmark.
    Best go through the App Store to see if your client's 'app' is something people would actually want taking up space on their iDevices. Or in other words, what's their ROI?

  5. #5
    Senior Member RayC's Avatar
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    Yeah, well, this is the thing, innit? I'm not really sure what she wants it to do. I understand that "app" is short for "application", as in, a computer program. But at this point I'm just doing some due diligence so I can ask some questions of the client, and provide some reasonably informed comments.

    One possibility is to provide essentially a bookmark that goes to a mobile version of the secure section of the site. As I discovered, for Blackberry devices this actually does require an "app" (javascript) that places the icon in the device and launches the browser when clicked. In this case, the "app" portion is freely available. But then there is the question of creating the mobile version of the site which originally involved 6-weeks of (outsourced) custom PHP scripting.

    So, I'm also looking into what is required to create a mobile web site, and whether it is any different than simply creating a skinny, minimalist site.
    Ray Cambpell
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Beach Ape's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RayC View Post
    One possibility is to provide essentially a bookmark that goes to a mobile version of the secure section of the site.
    This thread may also help, instead of bookmarks, look for chuckj's comment and site link for detecting mobile browsers.

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    Senior Member Adendum's Avatar
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  8. #8
    Senior Member RayC's Avatar
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    I appreciate all the responses. I'm kind of stuck on the difference between an "app" and a "mobile site". My wife showed my her new Twitter App. It looks to me like a mobile version of the web site, but maybe there's more to it than that. (While I may be a Twit, I do not Tweet.)

    Would an app be a program that dynamically pulls content off of a web site as needed and displays it, rather than simply downloading and displaying an entire web page? I could see how that might reduce data requirements, and provide a more flexible viewing environment.

    I found this link that discusses pros & cons of apps vs. a mobile site. Other similar discussions opine that, unless the app is designed to do something (buy, post, upload, tweet, pay, etc.), then mobile sites will win out in the long run, primarily because you don't need to have a different version for each type of phone.
    Ray Cambpell
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  9. #9
    Member chipguy's Avatar
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    The way I see it, unless the app has to use the native functionality of the phone, a mobile site will do. Interesting about the Twitter App as they are changing it to a mobile site and so instead of downloading the app you just access the website. I have written a simple mobile site for my eCommerce site and it is just a search program so that I have a a quick and easy way to search my database of products I sell. My main site and mobile site are pulling information from the same database, they are just designed to accommodate the screen size.

    Mobile sites should be all about getting information fast and on the spot. I think people are getting confused with the phrase, "There's an app for that". An app should have a reason to be an app. Some apps that are out there could just be a mobile site, but some people are developing them into apps just to sell them and make money. The only way I would change my mobile site to an app would be if I could use the native functions, ie, phone camera as product scanner to compare prices while shopping , GPS to see where they are to estimate their shipping. I cannot write a mobile website to access these functions and so that is why it would have to be an app.

    Find out from your client what she really wants to do with her site. Chances are she may just need a mobile website.

    Steve
    Last edited by chipguy; 05-25-2011 at 01:39 AM.

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