I Love Clever Software

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

This is icon for social networking website. This is part of Open Icon Library’s webpage icon package. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You start using it and think, wow, that was a great idea! Evernote, Dropbox, scores of other fantastic ideas. Then there is that class of applications that start out as great ideas but never really reach their full potential. They leave you wondering what’s coming – then wondering if anything is coming at all.

Getsocialize is a great idea. An out of the box social plugin that is super well-documented and pretty obviously necessary. Why didn’t everyone think of this? Why should every mobile or web designer have to reinvent the wheel? Social sharing is now an essential part of mobile and web development.  ShareThis is a great software that truly covers web-designer’s needs for social sharing. Getsocialize has not quite reached it’s full potential.

I think part of the problem is that now that they are one company, one might expect for Getsocialize to do the same for mobile as ShareThis does for websites – but they are not the same beast.

My first impression is that GetSocialize is a great software for app publishers, not for end users. Thumbs up for the metrics. If it manages to measure what you really want to measure, then this tool is worth it just for that alone.

However, incorporating Getsocialize into my app leaves me scratching my head and wondering if the designers understand the basics of social sharing.

Or, is it just that Getsocialize is appropriate only for certain types of apps and useless for others? Word in the forums suggest that it is really for gaming and maybe not much else. This might be true because there is a fundamental conceptual difference between ShareThis and Getsocialize.

If an app user wants to share content with a friend via Twitter, Facebook, email or whatever else they’ve got going. Do they want to share the information directly? Of course. Do they want an interesting piece of software in the middle that let’s them see how many other people have shared the same bit of information? Hmmm . . . not so much. Emphatically not!

Sharing with friends is direct, and Getsocialize seems to be more about community building. We can all gather around and see if others experience the app as we do. This may be a great thing if community building will enhance the user experience. If it get in the way, it can set your teeth on edge.

My main beef is that everything centers around the Socialize landing page, which makes me wonder how widely this software is used. Who really wants all roads to lead to Getsocialize? If you want to share the content, whoever you’re sharing with will be forced to take a look at the Getsocialize landing page, see what other people think and then, maybe if they are still interested, move onto the content you wanted to share. You have the potential to lose people at the middle man.

That’s a showstopper for me.

Thumbs down: Things that should be totally customized by the app publisher seem to be hard-coded – like the text that appears in email, believe it or not. I posted something to Twitter with my own comment and my comment was not seen because all the Getsocialize hard-coded text got in the way – Geez . All formatting of the sharing should be in our hands. All of it!

While I’m hot into this little rant, I’ll say that I question the company’s commitment also. Looking at questions in the forums, (the same questions I have) it seems that they could do a lot better to close open issues. Same questions open for over a year? Important ones at that. Hmmm. I can see by their replies that they are understaffed (“gee, I’ll ask our iOS guy”). Take a deep breath and wait a year.

Nuff said. I’m finding a way around the shortcomings, but it is not really easy to customize locally, and it should be.

If I manage to iron out the kinks, I’ll stick with this. Otherwise, back to reinventing the wheel.

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AppMakr – a great tool for bloggers going mobile

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So I’ve been checking out AppMakr recently  since I’m investigating quick ways for website owners and bloggers to publish their content on mobile. I looked at AppMakr several years ago when I was writing the eBook and thought it had serious potential. Last year AppMakr launched GetSocialize, a drop-in social media plugin for apps, and that makes it super interesting to me. (GetSocialize was bought by ShareThis in March of this year)

Since I’m using GetSocialize for sharing in my current development, and I find it pretty powerful, AppMakr is now back on my radar and I thought I should test it out.

I’ve looked at similar software before. A while ago I signed up for Seattle Clouds thinking this might be the solution for really simple app developments, and while it probably is a good solution for some, I found it too expensive and complicated for the average, non-technical person.

AppMakr claims that you can build your app for free, no coding required. Now, I’ve long thought this kind of claim meant that someone behind the scenes was building the app for you in a bucket shop somewhere. Of course, I’ve no proof of that, just my thought because at the time this was a pretty impossible feat.

But it was obvious a few years ago that DIY is the goal and I think AppMakr has pulled it off. They seem to have really covered the basics and then some. They claim you can build your app in minutes – so I did just that. I took the RSS feed from this blog and started building. The tool allows you to make some basic color choices, upload icons and splash screens, plug in your RSS and you’re good to go. You don’t even have to do any more than that.

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I haven’t yet investigated all the features like social sharing, monetization, push notifications, images galleries, etc. But so far, this looks like a super easy solution for bloggers. I haven’t published what I build so can’t determine how easy the publish process is.

The AppMakr monetization model is my favorite. There is nothing like getting something you really want for free and then looking at what you’ll get if you pay a little. This is a real winner for those who want proof of concept before opening their wallet.

AppMakr is a DIY tool that makes publishing an app super easy for an amateur. I think many bloggers would be seriously interested in this.

How to build an app: 30 great tutorials

Design an iPad app user interface

Design an iPad app user interface

Great article in the creativebloq. There is really so much information on the web about the process of creating apps. It is becoming much easier for non-developers to jump into this market. I remember a few years ago when I was just starting this process, I scoured the internet for tutorials, articles, books – anything I could find. I came across my fair share of discouraging posts. Programmers who insisted that this is an arena for techies only and scoffed at the idea that just anyone with a dream could actually succeed. There were already signs that the need to open this up was creating a market of app-builders, how-to and others ready to provide this help.

Well, How to build an app: 30 great tutorials proves how far we’ve come and I was glad to see Phonegap and Sencha mentioned. I will be checking all of them out.

Focus is key

Photo 16-10-2011 11 48 58 I’ve tried to decide how useful social media really is and whether I want to bother with it at all. After fooling around with Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for a year, I thought that social media would not yield much as a marketing vehicle, and would end up to be a colossal waste of time. So I read a LOT and watched lynda.com social media tutorials. Then, I listed the social media elements and decided to state what my expectations were from each of them. I suddenly found they were not useful as the usual marketing tools. The effort involved in maintaining them would not be justified. But, what I did find was that certain social media would be extremely valuable in unexpected ways.

The expectation changed, and the plan formed. I’m still not a fan of Facebook business pages and don’t see what that will yield except occasional exposure to the massive Facebook world. I’ve concluded that social media as a marketing tool is not entirely a write off. It would be a big mistake to spend all of your marketing energy too freely. Focus is key.

 

Eureka moments

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It’s awesome when you have those Eureka moments. I love documenting, organising, making lists, categorizing, explaining in writing what the goals are, what the vehicles are, how they should work, what is expected of each. It is a great process for me because after all of that the sudden moment of clarity comes. And the concept really takes shape.

Finding the right approach

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App builder

Must say, the hardest thing in app development for a non-programmer is finding a technical people or software to work with.

I’ve been through all the scenarios: paying a portion upfront and not receiving the full development. Working tirelessly with someone and getting a crap product, hoping you can pick it apart and salvage some of it.  I’ve tried ‘do it yourself kits’ and abandoned them quickly. I’ve tried working with Indians, working with Romanians, working with Americans, all with varying degrees of success and many lessons learned.

The biggest hurdle is behind me

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I have one app in the store and one in progress. The first app sells one per day which, fortunately, I find more amusing than disappointing. I only did it to test the waters and the whole app process from A-Z. I firmly believe the first pancake is not the best, especially is you are an amateur.

This next app is the bigger one. Everything I’ve learned is being tested and I’m venturing into the marketing angle in a more formal and robust way.  Learning something new has always been a challenge and a pleasure.

Perseverance

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android haystack

I am promising myself to be more committed to blogging about my daily experiences as an amateur app publisher. It’s fun and frustrating and satisfying. Sometimes it’s lonely, but I love it and hope for the day I can give up my day job and commit to app development full time.

It’s very hard balancing the paying job with the non-paying. So much effort has to go into both. If the development weren’t so personally interesting, I would have given up long ago. Thing is, I like the idea and look forward to using it myself.

How to create an app

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You may be an average person who would not even consider app development, simply because the tech world is too daunting and mysterious. But I think people with great ideas should never give them up. And, luckily, there are quite a few options available to you.

The hardest choice for a non-technical person is what ‘platform’ to develop on. And, this choice  depends largely on what type of app you want to create. First, do some research. Get an overview of what the choices are before seeking advice. You need to understand the different ways apps are developed in order to make the most efficient and least costly choice.

If your app is a simple web-based app for an exiting website, the process is much simpler than if you want a complicated gaming app, which has to be written in a programming language native to the operating system it is running on.

There are many other things to consider besides the coding and many people have shared their first time experiences on the web. I find these experiences very helpful and always discover new resources by reading web opinions.

My ebook is available on Smashwords, Apple iBook store, Sony, Barnes and Noble and Kobo stores. It will walk you through the basic concepts so that you can make informed decisions about your next steps.

Good luck.

How intrusive will facial recognition be?

The big fear is obviously, a lack of privacy. Too much information is already on the internet – our movements can be traced, our likes and dislikes, our spending habits.

The second big fear is that each new and exciting technological development can be used for blatantly dishonest purposes. It’s easy to see how facial-recognition technology can help enable identity theft. Any kind of scam will be easier if it is made more personal, so for the unscrupulous, facial-recognition technology is a bonanza. For the unwary, this is a nightmare.
And it would also be easier to police people – something that has advantages as well as disadvantages. Will facial-recognition make it easier to catch criminals? That’s a definite – Yes. But obviously tracking the movements of innocent people is a violation of our civil liberties.
We can not be sure that facial-recognition technology will not be used unethically so are we willing to take this risk?

What are the advantages to us? I think the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages at present.
That this imbalance will change, remains to be seen.