iPhone Life magazine

Weather

It's Still Hurricane Season, Stay Informed

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We are almost to the end of another hurricane season and so far, it hasn't been all that terrible. Full disclosure here, I am writing this from Vermont and hurricane season is never terrible here, but I still watch with great interest.



Best Apps: Weather

WeatherThe apps in this section fall into two main subcategories. The "general" weather apps have current weather conditions, short term forecasts, and a ten-day forecast. Many of these also include weather radar to help you visualize what's coming your way. Some even let you download photos and stream video, but this can be a big drain on your data allotment. Most use GPS to pinpoint your exact location and display the appropriate weather information. This section also has "specialized" weather apps oriented for activities like surfing, sailing, skiing, and even storm chasing.


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Seasonality Go -- great weather app is highly customizable

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There's a lot to like about Seasonality Go ($9.99), a weather app for the iPad. And others must agree, because it's among the top 10 highest-grossing apps (including a stint at number 1). One of the things that sets it apart is all the different ways you can configure it. The app comes with a default interface that is itself quite effective. But you can also add additional screens, choosing from the 7 that they offer. In addition, you can create your own screens, selecting the elements that you'd like to have in your interface. 



Pocket Weather available in the App Store for Free!

The built-in Yahoo weather in iOS is okay, but if you are looking for something more robust--an app featuring satellite and radar map looping, METAR, trends, and more--you will want to check out Pocket Weather from SBSH Software.



School's Out for Summer!

Students jump with joy and parents slump with trepidation, but the iPhone can help parents endure the summer break.

Long hot days, graduations, BBQ’s, vacations, bug bites, bored kids, and amusement park crowds…all a part of our love-hate relationship with the summer season. For Moms (and Dads or any caregiver), summer means that the kids are "free" from the day-to-day structure of schooling, sports, after-school lessons, etc. While a great time to be a child, it is also a potentially stressful time for parents. It starts off with graduation, then vacations, camps, and inevitably ends with back-to-school shopping. Here are a few apps to make getting through the summer heat a breeze.



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iPhone...a Pilot's Best Friend

The iPhone and these apps help make preflight and post flight procedures a breeze

T34C-6An old joke asks, “How can you tell that there’s a Navy pilot in the room?” The answer is, “Don’t worry, he’ll tell you.” My name is Chris and I am a pilot in the United States Navy. T34C-6(For security reasons, I’m going to leave my last name and rank off this article.) I have flown in different combat theaters around the world, but have most recently been assigned as a Primary Flight Instructor for students learning to fly on the T-34C Turbo-Mentor. My job has been to teach the brand new guys off the street how to takeoff, land, fly aerobatics, and fly in formations.


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Use MobileAppLoader.com to Build Your iPhone App

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I recently had the chance to chat with Zvika Ashkenazi, the CEO of MobileAppLoader.com and I was able to learn some very interesting things about his company, the services it provides and I also learned how to track App Store sales.

Zvika sent me a graphic detailing January 2010 metrics for DIY iPhone apps. According to the graphic, MobileAppLoader was responsible for creating 436 apps for their customers which include realtors, auto dealers, restaurants, and hotels to name just a few categories.

As you know from my previous posts here, a number of companies have launched in the last year or so to help people and businesses create their own applications, not just for iPhones, but also for other platforms like Android and Windows Mobile. Previously, this sort of service was unheard of. If one wanted software developed, it could get pretty pricey. For large corporations, this was considered 'the cost of business', but for individuals and smaller companies, personalized or customized software was often out of reach.

Now, some people themselves are talented programmers themselves and can make their own apps. Some companies have developers on staff, while some companies can afford to hire an outside developer for a specific project  - at a cost of $5,000 to $25,000 - to develop an application from scratch, that kind of budget is out of the reach for many people. Of course, one can get it for less, but even so, a ball-park bargain-basement sort of figure is still around $2,500. And most aren't looking to create super-sophisticated software, and don't really need to consider spending that sort of money anyway.

At the present time, MobileAppLoader claims that they are the #1 Do-It-Yourself iPhone App company. These stats do not include companies which build apps from RSS feeds or companies with less than 30 apps. Zvika explained that he generated this information by typing the name of the developer into iTunes. Now that I know how to do this, I anticipate hours of fun

Since MobileAppLoader doesn't build their apps via RSS feeds, I was curious as to their process. It's done by what Zvika described as a unique "App in a Snap" Wizard. A user signs up for an account on their site, and selects their business category. Then they chose a design from Iron, Bronze, Silver and Gold offerings and upload four images and type in certain details (contact info, URLs, feeds, text, etc...) and finally hits 'submit'. Behind the scenes, the content is then converted to a native iPhone app using objective-C using the Apple X-code development tool, and that process is then followed by a a quick quality assurance to make sure everything is working properly before the app is sent to Apple for review.

Apps built from RSS feeds can be very handy, but MobileAppLoader is very proud of the real-time interactivity of the apps they build using this method. For example, they've built a number of apps for towing companies and the apps include the ability to tell the towing company where you've broken down, show them a picture of your car and ask them to come and get you. So the app makes use of notifications, GPS and the camera. And that's just one example. Auto dealer apps include the ability of the dealer to notify a customer of their next service appointment. Prices start at $59.99 for setup and $4.99 a month.

 



iTunes App Store undergoing subtle but significant changes... with some difficulty

 If you've been paying close attention, as most developers do, to the App Store, you may have noticed some changes.

  1. New Releases only show BRAND NEW apps, i.e. version 1.0
  2. Updates are not included in the New Releases

This is potentially a good thing for users but there are some downsides.

The good news is, you won't have to search through old apps to find new gems.  It might also discourage developers from submitting minor updates just to be featured on the New Releases page.  That will also cut down on approval time as fewer apps need to be reviewed.



A Developer's View on In-App Purchases for Free Apps

 Apple recently announced a major shift in how they treat free apps and I have been mulling over what it means to developers, in addition to end users.

In the past, "In-App Purchases", or the ability to add features to an app, were only available for paid apps.  Free apps could not be upgraded, short of purchasing the paid version separately.  Now, users of these free apps can purchase upgrades.

On one hand, more choices are a good thing.  But I have some concerns.



The Death of the Dinosaur

How my world changed when I got an iPhone

I’m a refugee from the land of the dinosaur phone, where you hit a button three times to get a “C” and four times to get an “S.” You can imagine how my world changed when I got the iPhone. My first discovery was that the onscreen keyboard makes it a lot easier to compose and send e-mail or texts. I love that I can access my three e-mail accounts wherever I am. I no longer have to wait until I get to the office to be on top of the action.


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