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The best business meeting apps in 2020

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

The best business meeting apps in 2020

With the new coronavirus outbreak, many people have started self-isolating and working from home. But given this unprecedented exodus, how do businesses continue? Just how will we continue with our meetings? We cannot meet up, so we must now switch to meeting virtually, via business meeting apps.

Many of us use these apps on a daily basis to do demo’s to prospects or clients across borders.  They aren’t brand new but useful when face to face meetings are not appropriate.

meeting

Companies that have several offices in different cities and countries would use such apps to have video conference meetings. Here are our recommendations for the best business meeting apps that we use @JustApplications Limited.

1) GoToMeeting

This app is really easy to set up for the presenter.  Our staff particularly like the drawing feature that allows you to highlight important content on the screen whilst your talking.  The screen sharing option is easy to locate and a great way for the speaker to share visual information with the attendees in the meeting.  We sometimes make this obligatory, as it helps to ensure that those in the meeting are actually paying attention and not being distracted by emails or Skype chats.

Please remember to switch your audio on prior to joining the meeting. If you join by phone and forget to switch your GoToMeeting dashboard setting to phone audio, you (and others) will hear yourself echoing back. In future versions it would be helpful if GoToMeeting would recognise the source from which you are joining (phone or computer audio) but since it doesn’t then get into the habit of switching this manually to avoid the loud reverb.

GoToMeeting is free for up to 3 participants. If you have more participants, it’s £30/month

2) Zoom

Zoom is the app we use the most! A personal favourite as we’re often having conversations with several employees in multiple offices around the world. We find there is very little interference and connection issues.  We’ve had up to 30 people regularly in a call, one particular meeting was discussing a mobile app project that we were developing and we were on the call for over 2 hours. Zoom has some very cool features to allow the meeting organiser to mute everyone whilst the speaker is talking as well as being able to see many meeting members in the same screen.

The Meeting setup can be a bit confusing.  However, this is a common problem among most of the video conferencing platforms, as generating the conference ID can get be a little confusing depending on who is managing the meeting.

The recent addition of the video being turned off from opening any new meeting without warning can be annoying.  Just be mindful to cast your eyes down to the bottom toolbar to turn it on.

Not surprising with over 10 million downloads in the App Store and Google Play. In addition to the functions standard for this type of application like HD video conferences and secure audio calls, this app offers its users to make their group meetings with mobile phones via cellular connection or available Wi-Fi.

Up to 3 participants its free.  If you have more it starts from £11.99 per month.

3) Google Hangouts Meet

Google Hangouts allows participants to perform group video calls and hold online meetings. This App has been around since 2013 and is growing in popularity. However, annoyingly you need a gmail account to use this App.

We don’t use this software as it doesn’t allow you to send multimedia documents. This  is really important to us when we are sharing images and documents with the team.  Google need to work on this for us to choose this over Zoom.  Also we found it unusable over 10 users.

Hangouts lacks a few advanced features that its competitors have. However, given that it’s free along with Drive its a very usable tool. But be warned it is not suitable for online meetings involving multiple people in places.

4) Skype/Skype for Business

Skype paved the way for all the videoconferencing tools.  Everyone knows about Skype…right?  And for good reasons, it’s one of the most used free apps to this day.

In fact, it is so common that “Skype” has become a verb. You must have heard the phrase “I’m just skyping my mom”?

Skype is so widely known and so popular that it comes pre-installed with every Windows 10 machine, and it’s free to download and use on other devices if required.

There’s a more fancy version of Skype called Skype for Business. It boasts meetings of over 250 people.  However, we have struggled with it. Connection drop outs and communication pauses leave this app suitable for 1-2-1 video conferencing where we love the screen-share feature.

Skype for our business is still our number one messaging app on our PCs over WhatsApp and Viber. Once on mobile of course its WhatsApp and Viber.

Business Skype users pay £2-£5 per user, per month.

5) Join.me

The quality of video and audio is excellent. The system really adopts the KISS method (Keep it simple stupid) which has its advantages when you are in a phone conversation and want to switch to a conferencing system quickly.

The app allows users to share their screens and send documents or media files with ease during the meeting.

A personal wish of mine is that join.me had the ability to allow me to set my conference room to allow attendees to join without me having to start the conference. Furthermore if I need a colleague to run a meeting it becomes an extra hassle for them to have to log out of their account and login in to mine just to start a meeting.

meeting app

To sum up

Whether you’re working from home due to the Corona virus outbreak, or whether online meetings are a part of your daily workflow, these apps can make your life much easier.

The main goal of any online group meeting application is to be able to communicate without having to be there in person.  Please remember these are just our personal experiences we’ve shared with you and feel free to trial any of these amazing apps!

 

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All about the Microsoft Windows 10 Store

Saturday, March 7th, 2020

All about the Microsoft Windows 10 Store

Love it or hate it, Windows 10 is by far the most commonly used operating system for computers, laptops and desktop PCs. Out of all computer operating systems, Windows has over 77% market share as of 2020. This means that over 3 out of 4 computers that are working as of today use some version of Windows. But out of those, over 70% are using Windows 10.

Windows 10 is great, and it has seen a huge adoption rate by users. It is critically acclaimed and seen as one of the best operating systems, if not the best, for desktop PCs and laptops.

The Microsoft Store

microsoft store

Bundled with every version of Windows 10 comes the Microsoft Store. This is Microsoft’s own app store, and is a host to a great variety of applications. These range from games to the most commonly used apps by all types of users. A few examples are Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, Mail, etc.

Why would anyone use the Microsoft Store?

Well, think about it like this. Let’s say you want to check your most recent tweets, what do you do? Instead of reaching for your smartphone, or navigating to Twitter.com through your computer’s browser, simply use the Windows app. Just as you would on your smartphone – it’s so much easier and faster!

The cool thing about the store is that it even includes games, lots of them. And what’s great, this store is actually the same store that you have on your Xbox gaming console. This means that if you purchase a game on your Xbox, it will also be available for download on your desktop PC. Yep, you can play Xbox games directly on your Windows 10 machine, how cool is that?

Why would developers even consider making apps for it?

Well, the Microsoft Store has a lot of potential. Ever since its introduction with Windows 8, it has seen some slower adoption from the developers. But it has grown a lot, and missing out on it would be bad for business.

Why, you might ask? Do you remember the statistics that we gave out a couple of minutes ago? Just think about the hundreds of millions of people that are currently using Windows 10 worldwide. Those are all potential users that could download your app!

The store contains a multitude of applications, it’s very quick and responsive, and more importantly, it’s very accessible. All you have to do is click on your Start Menu, and it should be right there! It contains a plethora of apps, games, tools and so much more. More importantly, it feels familiar, because it’s very similar to the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. You just open the store, search for the app, click on Install, and you’re set.

It has great potential

The Microsoft Store is difficult to compare to other app stores because it’s unique. It is a unified vision of both code being shared across form factors by developers and a marketplace for users that includes apps, games, movies, browser extensions, and hardware. There is no other app store that has this combination, but the Microsoft Store still struggles to grab many users’ and developers’ attention.

iOS is considered the most successful app store by many, and when it comes to apps for phones and tablets, the Microsoft Store pales in comparison. Windows 10 Mobile is dead, and tablet mode and the library of tablet apps on Windows 10 is far behind that of Apple’s iPad. The Microsoft Store is also behind Android when it comes to phone apps and to a lesser extent tablet applications. But you can’t just measure the Microsoft Store on mobile use because the vast majority of its users are on PCs.

With Windows 10 reaching 700 million devices, there is a massive potential install base. While a large portion of users will never install something from the app store, developers have taken note of the audience and brought over their apps. Affinity Photo, Slack, and Adobe Photoshop Elements are just a few powerful desktop applications on Windows 10 compared to lighter variants and similar apps on mobile platforms.

To sum up

Microsoft has repositioned the Microsoft Store as a tool to make it a more viable option for users downloading apps safely from one place. With the exception of Chrome and a few other apps, I think a large number of casual consumers could get their apps from just the Microsoft Store and be fine.

r-tech welding magento eCommerce solution

The Microsoft Store has its flaws of course, but the people at Microsoft have made a number of improvements that I think are largely unappreciated by people who only tried the Microsoft Store when Windows 10 first came out.

The store has come a long, long way since then, and it’s actually great. I personally use it quite a lot, and I use apps downloaded from the Store every day. Maybe you didn’t even know the Store was there, so why not give it a try? We’re sure you’ll find some great apps there. And if you have an idea for an app that you want developed and put on the Microsoft Store, feel free let us know.

 

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Remote access tools – what are they?

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

Remote access tools – what are they?

A remote access tool is an application (or software) that is used to remotely control another computer or system. This tool can be used legitimately by system administrators for accessing the client computers. They are very useful for a vast majority of users – from system administrators, to knowledgeable teenagers helping fix their mom’s computer from thousands of miles away.

remote access tool

Admit it, we’ve all been there, a member of our family calls and asks us to fix/install something on their computer. But instead of going all the way to their house, you just get them to install a remote access tool and do everything from far away. How nice is that?

Why would anyone even use a Remote access tool?

The digital era has made remote connectivity a necessity for companies that want to maintain or increase their competitiveness. This is done by offering services that are available at any time and without geographical limitations.

In short, here are some advantages of using a remote access tool:

-The ability to get unrestricted remote access at any time.

-Cost reduction.

-Agility in managing a wide variety of devices.

-Simplicity in the collaboration between the different members of the company.

A short list of remote access tools

You’ve all heard about it at some point, but one of the best-regarded tools is TeamViewer. TeamViewer is a comprehensive remote access application of easy deployment and simple operation.

Once TeamViewer has been downloaded the both devices, the user will be able to navigate in an easy-to-use interface where he will have access to the various functions of the application. Each TeamViewer installation will provide a unique 9-digit ID number linked to that device. As a security measure, in order to access other computers, it will be necessary for the user to share that number with the device he or she wants to access.

 Here are some of TeamViewer’s advantages:

-It has an intuitive interface.

-Allows remote printing.

-Easy to document

-It integrates a function that allows you to start online meetings.

-Supports file transfer.

But there are other alternatives to TeamViewer, such as AnyDesk.

AnyDesk?

AnyDesk is a remote connection software that stands out mainly for its speed. To use it, the user must install a portable file that must then run; then to access another device, the device must share the ID of its PC. Once a session is started, users can perform various functions such as sharing mouse and keyboard control, desktop screenshots, and more.

One of the main advantages of AnyDesk is the fact that it is light, has easy to remember identification numbers and offers a “portable” version as well.

RATs

Not actual rats, but Remote Access Trojans (RATs). They can be used by a malicious user to control the system without the knowledge of the victim. Most of the popular RATs are capable of performing key logging, screen and camera capture, file access, code execution, registry management, password sniffing etc.

RAT can also be called as a synonym for backdoor, which includes a client and server program. The server or the stub program, if installed in the compromised system unknowingly by the owner of that system, then it is called as a Remote Access Trojan. So yes, unfortunately, remote access tools can be also used by malicious users.

How could you ever get infected with a RAT? Hackers can attach a RAT to a document in an email, or within a large software package, like a video game. Advertisements and nefarious webpages can also contain RATs, but most browsers prevent automatic downloads from websites or notify you when a site is unsafe.

RATs work best when they are unnoticed

Most computer viruses are made for a singular purpose. Keyloggers automatically record everything that you type, ransomware restricts access to your computer or its files until you pay a fee, and adware dumps dubious ads onto your computer for profit.

They give hackers complete, anonymous control over infected computers. As you can imagine, a hacker with a RAT can do just about anything.

As such, our recommendation would be to STAY AWAY from sketchy websites that offer you a free iPhone, Amazon voucher, or anything of that sort. Try to not click on any random clicks throughout the web, and be wary of which websites you visit. Also, be very wary of sketchy emails that you receive, containing links or attached files (never open these).

To sum up

We can say that there are two types of remote access tools – good ones and bad ones. The good ones such as TeamViewer or AnyDesk are extremely useful and can be very helpful to a multitude of users. But try to steer clear of suspicious emails and websites, to avoid getting infected by the other type of remote access tool – a RAT.

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Swift – Apple’s own programming language

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Swift?

Swift

I won’t blame you if you’ve never heard about Swift before. It’s a programming language just like C++, Java or Python. So why did Apple reinvent the wheel when there are so many alternatives to it?

Simplicity. Just like everything made by Apple, Swift is simple, elegant and very easy to understand and work with.

What is it?

Swift is a compiled programming language for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux applications.

It’s safe because its syntax encourages you to write clean and consistent code. It also provides safeguards to prevent errors and improve readability.

And more importantly, it’s fast. Very fast. Swift was built with performance in mind. Not only does its simple syntax and hand-holding help you develop faster, it also lives up to its name. And keep in mind, it is 2.6x faster than Objective-C and 8x faster than Python.

A brief history about Swift

First introduced at Apple’s 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Swift programming language has generated considerable debate ever since. Chris Lattner, Apple’s Senior Director, Developer Tools Department, started designing the basic concepts of the new language back in 2010.

It wasn’t until 2013 that the team was able to solve a strategic question about how the new language would fit in with the existing Objective-C ecosystem. Forcing all iOS developers to move to a new language could have had a major disruptive effect on the community. So, the company decided to continue investing in Objective-C while also committing to the development of a new “safe programming language.”

But in 2015, there was a major turning point for Swift – it became open-source. Ever since then, it’s growth has been huge, being adopted and loved by millions around the world.

Swift 5.0

In March 2019, Swift 5.0 was officially released by Apple. The current version of Swift now contains a stable version of the application binary interface (ABI) across Apple’s platforms. This is a giant step toward helping developers use Swift on dedicated OSs like iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. Needless to say, Apple is building a solid ecosystem, as now standard Swift libraries are included in OS releases.

SwiftUI was introduced in the release, which is basically a library of controls, graphic elements, and layouts for Swift applications that can be used to design user interface. The update also brought renewed documentation, updated CLI Xcode 10.2, and binaries for Ubuntu. Swift also became backward compatible with its previous versions. The list of languages that it is interoperable with now includes Ruby, Python, and JavaScript.

Since the release version 5.0, standard Swift libraries are integrated into every macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS release. That means any app built on those platforms will be smaller, because these libraries are included. With this advancement, stable application binary interface (ABI) was also released. This allows Apple to provide support of Swift across its platforms.

Why you would want to use Swift over other alternatives

Swift

An example of how simple Swift can be

Well, first of all – the development process is extremely fast. Swift is very easy to write and read, being very concise, which means less code is required to perform the same task, as compared to Objective-C. Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) does all the work tracking and managing the app’s memory usage, so developers don’t need to spend time and effort doing that manually. Accordingly, it usually takes less time to build iOS apps with Swift.

In addition to faster development time, we can say that Swift is future-proof and can be extended with new features as needed. Thus, Swift projects are typically easier to scale. The fact that Apple is more likely to support Swift than Objective-C should also get serious consideration for long-term investment.

Additionally, Swift allows you to add more developers to your team if needed: The on-boarding is relatively fast due to the simplicity and conciseness of the code-base. The syntax of Swift is considered near to natural English, thus it offers easy readability for new team members.

Static vs. dynamic libraries

Usually, when you build an app, you use a lot of third-party code – reusable and often open source frameworks or libraries compiled into your app’s code. These libraries can be static and dynamic (or shared). Swift first introduced dynamic libraries to iOS when it launched. Usually, static libraries become the part of your executable file, thus increasing its size and load time. They also can’t be automatically updated since they’re stuck in the version you compiled at. Dynamic libraries, on the other hand, exist outside of your code and are uploaded only when needed. Static libraries need to have copies in all files of your program while dynamic ones do not.

Even though it takes more time to reach for the dynamic code from the outside than call to it when it’s already included, you have a choice to keep using static libraries when you want to isolate apps that aren’t meant to be shared.

ARC – Automatic Memory Counting

Swift uses Automatic Memory Counting (ARC) – a technology aimed to add a garbage collector function that wasn’t introduced to iOS before. Languages like Java, C#, and Go use garbage collectors to delete class instances that are no longer used. They are useful to decrease your memory footprint but can add a lot of extra unnecessary CPU usage.

Before ARC, iOS developers had to manage memory manually and constantly manage retain counts of every class. Swift’s ARC determines which instances are no longer in use and gets rid of them on your behalf. It allows you to increase your app’s performance without lagging your memory or CPU.

To sum up

For such a young programming language, Swift surely has an great variety of resources to help developers accelerate adoption. Apart from official e-books, there are tons of community guidelines, podcasts, online and even real-life courses and even third-party apps.

Swift has become an even more mature language with the latest update, but there are still a few things that need fixing. Apple is creating its own ecosystem with a stable ABI over its platforms, but it still lacks tooling and support for earlier versions. As such, Swift adoption will continue to grow, which soon might lead to a complete displacement of Objective-C as the leading first-class language for iOS mobile application development.

For business owners, it is important to be ready for any changes the market might impose. Thus, being prepared to switch to the new language with minimum effort and at a reasonable cost should be one of the key strategies for the near future.

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Submitting your app to the iOS App Store – how does it work?

Saturday, January 18th, 2020

Submitting your app to the iOS App Store – how does it work?

 

So, you’re just launching your brand new app. Submitting an app to the App Store isn’t as simple as pushing a launch button, but it’s not as complicated as it may seem either.

Assuming that you are already enrolled in the Apple Developer Program, your app follows Apple’s App Review and Human Interface Guidelines, these are the steps that you need to follow. As previously mentioned, even though it seems a bit complicated, it really isn’t.

  1. Code signing

 

iOS apps on an iPhone
The development provisioning profile and development certificate that you’ve been using are only for specific devices. Now, in order to distribute your app to beta testers or to users through the App Store, you’ll need a separate distribution provisioning profile and distribution certificate.

 

Our recommendation and the easiest way to do this is through Xcode. If automatic signing is enabled, Xcode will create and manage certificates, signing identities, and handle device registration for you. In some cases, you might prefer manual signing. Honestly, we would just recommend leaving automatic signing on and Xcode should take care of the rest.

  1. Create an iTunes Connect account

app store - iTunes connect

 

Simple, just sign in with the Apple ID you used to enroll in the Apple Developer Program. Now let’s add a new app to it:

-In the iTunes Connect dashboard, select My Apps.

 

-Click on the + sign in the upper left-hand corner, then New App.

-To create a new iTunes Connect record, you’ll need these details: platform, app name, default language, bundle ID, and SKU. You can’t really change these details later, so be sure of what you enter.

-Use keywords in your app name to optimize for discovery.

-The bundle ID must be an exact match of the bundle identifier in your Xcode project Info.plist file (in the target’s General > Identity section).

-The SKU is not visible to users and is up to you to set. It can be an identifier you use in your company or something else that is meaningful for you. Acceptable characters include letters, numbers, hyphens, periods, and underscores, and it must begin with a letter or number.

  1. Archive and upload your app using Xcode

app store - app submission

Now, before you can submit your app for review through iTunes Connect, you need to upload the build through Xcode. You can do this by following these steps:

-In Xcode, select Generic iOS Device as the deployment target.

-Choose Product from the top menu and click on Archive.

-The Xcode Organizer will launch, displaying any archives you’ve created in the past.

-Make sure the current build is selected and click on Upload to App Store in the right-hand panel.

-Select your credentials and click Choose.

-In the next window that appears, click on Upload in the bottom right-hand corner.

-A message will appear when the upload has completed. Click Done.

  1. Configure your app’s metadata in iTunes Connect

Under the “App Store” tab in iTunes Connect, in the “App Information” page you can add additional languages, categories, and your app’s Privacy Policy URL.

Under the “Features” tab, you can add configurations to any App Store technologies in your app, like Game Center and in-app purchases.

At this stage, your app is marked with a yellow dot and the status “Prepare for Submission” in the left-hand panel under “App Store”. Select the build you want to configure. This is where you will add the information for your product page on the App Store.

  1. Submit your app for review

-Scroll to the “Build” section in your app’s iTunes Connect record.

-Click on “Select a build before you submit your app.”

-Choose the build that you uploaded through Xcode. Click Done in the bottom right-hand corner, then

-Finally, answer the Export Compliance, Content Rights, and Advertising Identifier questions and click Submit.

So, how long does it take in order to get the app approved?

app store app upload success

In most cases, it should take about 1 to 3 days to receive approval, and it can take up to 24 hours for your app to appear in the App Store after approval. Also, you’ll receive e-mail notifications at each stage.

If your app is rejected, you’ll have to make the necessary fixes before submitting your app for review again. You can use the Resolution Center in iTunes Connect to communicate with Apple if you have any sort of questions. You can also submit an appeal if you think your app was wrongly rejected.

If your app gets approved – Congratulations! You’re now on the App Store. You can view downloads, sales, ratings, and reviews directly in iTunes Connect.

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iOS apps are coming to the Mac!

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

iOS apps are coming to the Mac!

Great news, as your Mac is about to get a whole lot more powerful. Alongside macOS 10.15 Catalina, Apple unveiled a new way to design apps across all of its platforms. Called Project Catalyst, the new initiative builds on the News, Stocks, Voice Memos, and Home apps Apple launched in macOS 10.14 Mojave, and it has the potential to transform the entire app ecosystem.

Project Catalyst is designed so a team of developers can easily make a single app that runs on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac without needing to spend months on each.

apps coming to mac

This is a massive accomplishment for a process that normally takes months and tons of resources. Recently, many developers have understandably shifted their focus away from the Mac, but Project Catalyst should make it as easy to bring an iOS app to the Mac as it is to turn on iPhone app into an iPad one, completely with drag-and-drop functionality and a full-screen experience.

What do we mean by this?

Well, if you’ve used a Mac in the past couple of years, you’ll know that they have their own App Store, which looks shockingly similar to the iOS App Store (found on iPhones and iPads). However, beyond the similar look, the macOS App Store is very poor, it has very few useful apps, and almost none of the great apps that you can find on iOS (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon, eBay, Revolut and many, many more).

I remember the first time when I purchased my brand new Mac, I took it home, unboxed it, and the first thing is that I wanted to do was to install some apps from the App Store. I was a bit surprised to find out that almost none of the great iOS apps work on the Mac. But now, with Project Catalyst, they should start working on macOS as well soon.

apps coming to mac

How will it work?

Optimizing apps for Mac means building in different mechanisms, like keyboard and mouse support, and considering how a larger screen changes the content. 

Well, they’ll be more than super-sized iOS apps. Apple is respecting the Mac’s menus and interface so apps will look as native as they can. Developers will be able to add unique features as well. Atlassian said it was able to use Project Catalyst to “put the finishing touches that make (Jira Cloud) perfect for the desktop” and Twitter was able to add “native Mac features” without spending weeks designing and testing.

Apple describes Catalyst as: “Also available with macOS Catalina is Mac Catalyst, a new technology that lets app developers easily build Mac versions of their shipping iPad apps. The iPad ecosystem comprises over a million iPad apps, and now users will see more of their favorite titles come to Mac than ever before.”

Games will be coming to the Mac as well

Oh yes, that’s right! Games such as Asphalt 9, a hugely popular free-to-play racing game, was delayed until later this year so its developers can further polish the experience. Once it’s ready, the game’s Mac version will allow players to sign into a single account across their Apple devices, to more easily switch between them and continue playing the same game, according to the technical director at Gameloft Barcelona, the development studio behind Asphalt 9. The Mac setup also allows the game developers to push all of the details further while running at 60 frames per second without worrying about battery life.

And there will be many, many more great games that you’re used to playing on your iPhone coming to the Mac in the near future. This is exciting news!

Major challenges ahead

While Catalyst opens the door to the Mac ecosystem for many iOS developers, it remains an imperfect passageway. 

mac

Beyond beta issues, there is currently no way to share purchases between the App Store and the Mac App Store, so users have to buy the same app twice to use it on both their iPad and Mac, which is confusing and inconvenient

Of course, Catalyst isn’t the only option for developers who want to build a Mac app. They can still do so from scratch using AppKit, or build one for multiple Apple platforms using the new SwiftUI. 

To sum up

Apple’s efforts to bring iPad apps to the Mac are beginning to pay off, but there’s still a long way to go before Mac users are able to find many of their favorite apps on their desktop the same way they do their iPhone or iPad.

Nonetheless, we can say that the future is looking great for macOS and Mac users. We can’t wait to see what great apps will be brought over to the Mac!

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JIRA vs. Trello – which one is best for you?

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

JIRA vs. Trello – what’s the difference?

First of all, what are they? JIRA and Trello are among the best-regarded tools for project management. They are part of a family of products designed to help teams of all types manage work.

Today we’ll take a look into their benefits and drawbacks, and most importantly their main differences. Since Atlassian, the vendor of Jira acquired Trello, both project management tools are basically coming from the same company. But they are still competing over the same target group.

As such, if you’re thinking about making the switch to Jira or Trello, this article might be the right place for you.

trello jira

JIRA

 

For teams who practice agile methodologies, Jira Software provides scrum and kanban boards out-of-the box. Boards are a task management hubs, where tasks are mapped to customizable workflows. Boards provide transparency across team work and visibility into the status of every work item. Time tracking capabilities, and real-time performance reports (charts, sprint reports, velocity charts) enable teams to closely monitor their productivity over time.

Teams can start with a project template or create their own custom workflow. Jira issues, also known as tasks, track each piece of work that needs to pass through the workflow steps to completion. Another feature called “customizable permissions” allow admins to determine who can see and perform which actions. With all project information in place, reports can be generated to track progress, productivity, and ensure nothing gets missed.

Trello

Trello is a task management app that gives you a visual overview of what is being worked on and who is working on it. It used the Kanban system, which was originally developed in Toyota as a system to keep production levels high and maintain flexibility. It is best represented as a whiteboard filled with post-it notes. Each post-it represents different tasks involved in the project.

JIRA or Trello?

Well, while both of them are great project management tools, Jira and Trello have some key differences. Since Jira was designed for software teams, it mainly targets software builders, developers, or project managers working on software projects.

In contrast, Trello has a much broader target audience, as it basically offers any kind of project tracking.

Keep in mind that both tools offer both Android and iOS apps for their users. They also offer integrations with tens of third-party tools and both of them are cloud-hosted. JIRA can be also had on-premises, not in the cloud, so that could be a key-selling factor for some.

Scrum vs. Kanban boards

A project management tool must adapt to these needs and must be customizable enough to fulfill them. Both – Jira and Trello – meet these needs of Scrum or Kanban and offer various board dashboards and card views for managing your team’s tasks.

Also, when it comes to traditional project management features, JIRA seems to be one step ahead. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive time tracking features, management reporting tools, and issue tracking functionality, you’ll probably end up with Jira.

Pricing

The various plans for Jira and Trello depend on a couple of factors. But most importantly, the monthly price depends on the number of users.

As such, the basic pricing of Jira starts at around £10 per month. On the other hand, Trello offers a free account. As a team, we are pretty sure though that you’ll end up choosing better plans, since both Start plans are pretty simple and limited.

Conclusion – which one should I use?

In a nutshell, if you’re looking for comprehensive, fully-adjustable project management and tracking tool for your software team, you might end up using Jira. Jira is the go-to tool for large-scale project and teams. However, you must be aware that onboarding time and costs might be higher with Jira, as not so tech savvy people might have a harder time using it.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use project and task management tool for your small company, Trello might be the better choice. With its simple, yet well-designed user interfaces it offers small teams an easy entry in the world of project management.

Both of them are great, but it depends on the size of your company, your employees, developers, etc. As previously mentioned, for smaller teams – Trello would be great. But for larger teams with more complex needs, JIRA is the way to go.

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“Lite” apps – what are they?

Friday, November 29th, 2019

“Lite” apps – what are they?

Over the past couple of years, major tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Spotify or Twitter have seen their apps gather hundreds of millions (or even billions!) of downloads. You might be wondering, how did they manage to reach so many people that own so many different devices?

mobile apps

Winning over such a large audience requires optimizing services and software optimized for conditions prevalent in developing markets, like slow connectivity, slow internet speeds, and wide proliferation of low-end mobile devices. Remember, not all of us have the latest and greatest smartphones. Many people still use smartphones from 2013 or earlier, which is fine, however… the newest apps might have issues running on those older models of phones.

Lite”?

Companies have started to design a ‘lite’ version of their main apps that can run on most phones and don’t take up much space on the device (usually less than 10MB). The main reason was that many users used to uninstall apps to make room for some photos, videos, or music. These apps were also designed to use the minimum amount of data, and even work when network conditions were not ideal. As a result, these companies came up with “lite” versions of these apps that were much smaller and snappier than their main counterparts.

Here’s a selection of the best “lite” apps that you can currently find on the App Store and Google Play:

lite

Facebook is the largest social media platform for mobile users in the world. It’s also a hefty and demanding app that requests a lot of data permissions from you (for example, device location) — so it makes sense to get rid of it in favor of a lightweight version. Thankfully, there’s Facebook Lite for Android and iOS. Facebook Lite delivers the same social experience you expect, but in a much smaller package and with less reliance on using a bunch of mobile data.

Facebook have managed to cram all major features of its main app in a lite app that is under 2MB. How is that even possible? Well, Facebook Lite uses the download-on-demand approach to fetch resources like sounds and animations instead of including it into the install package.

This year, Lite has been download 255.1 million times in comparison to 337.5 million downloads of the main app. We’d say it’s a successful app.

After beta testing a 15MB lite version, Spotify finally released the final version of its Spotify Lite for Android, and it weighs in at just 10MB. That tiny size makes Spotify Lite one of the least resource-intensive ways of streaming music from your phone. However, the Lite app is missing some aspects you might see as key for data saving — it has data monitoring solutions, but it lacks the ability to download songs to play offline. So while it’s a great app for saving storage space, it’s oddly not the best app for saving data. Stick with the main app if space is no issue, but if storage is at a premium, this is the best choice for music streaming.

Facebook’s chat tool, Messenger, is massive in its own right with more than 1.3 billion monthly active users. Facebook Messenger Lite strips down the messaging app to the essentials, bringing the app size down to less than 10MB. Those essentials still include some luxuries though, and Messenger’s ever-popular video calling is among them.

Google have chosen a different name for their lightweight app, calling it “Go” instead of “Lite”. But essentially, it’s still a stripped-down version of the main app. It uses the same “download-on-demand” approach as other lite apps.

Google Maps is the go-to app for navigating across a variety of travel methods, from walking to driving to using public transit, so using a lightweight version can have a big impact on performance and data usage.

Another great lite app by Google, “Google Go” is a lighter and faster version of the Chrome browser that promises data savings of up to 40%. Weighing in at only 7MB, it also barely takes up any space on your device, but still comes with all the features you love. Obviously, there is access to Google Search, but it also comes with voice controls, Google Lens, and the latest trending topics. If you’re using an entry-level or older phone, then this is a must install.

To conclude

If you have a good smartphone that was made in the past couple of years, you probably won’t need to use these “Lite” versions. However, if you still use a 5+-year-old phone, or an entry-level <£100 smartphone, you will probably be better off using these lite apps.

These lite apps might have a smaller user base compared to the main versions as of now. But as more people from countries like India and Brazil get connected to the internet for the first time, they will prefer to have lite apps.

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How smartphones and apps have evolved in the past decade

Sunday, November 24th, 2019

How smartphones and apps have evolved in the past decade

With 2019 quickly coming to an end, it will mark the end of a decade that brought along a multitude of technological improvements and advancements. However, today we will focus on smartphones and apps, and take a closer look at how they evolved throughout the decade.

Remember 2010?

iPhone 4 – the peak of technology in 2010

Yep, it was exactly 10 years ago (I can’t believe how fast time flies). But here’s a reminder of how technology used to look like a decade ago and we’ll see how it compares to modern tech.

The best smartphone of the year was the iPhone 4, while on the Android side we had the Galaxy S1. Nowadays we have the iPhone 11 Pro with the amazing 3 camera setup and other great Android phones such as the Galaxy S10. They look so much more futuristic than their 10 year-old cousins.

What about the apps?

Back in 2010, everything used to be much simpler. Apps were a lot simpler, they weren’t full of ads, and each app had its own properly defined role in our lives. Nowadays… apps are multi-functional. Want to take a picture? You can now do it directly from the Facebook Messenger app, or directly from the Viber or Instagram app. However, a few years ago, you would have to take the picture from the phone’s “Camera” app – that was the only way.

Modern apps such as Facebook do a lot more than they used to 10 years ago. You can use the Facebook app to access the Marketplace to sell/buy items. You can also use it as a messaging service, or to watch videos directly from the “Watch” portion of the app. It can also be used to create a business page and to manage to your business, or even display ads to potential customers. But it didn’t used to be like this. Facebook was Facebook – you would only use it to see your friend’s pictures and upload your own.

Evolution

As you can see, apps have evolved a lot in the past decade. Smartphones have evolved together with them as well. Here are a couple of examples of how apps are now vs. how they used to be years ago:

eBay app in 2010

Instagram app – 2010 vs 2019

Facebook app 2010 vs 2019

 

Well, as you can see, even if most apps became a lot more functional, the interface was kept as user-friendly as possible. This is a key aspect for app development – having a welcoming and intuitive UI.

Another thing that has changed but isn’t immediately noticeable from screenshots is the speed of the apps. You probably don’t remember how long it took for an app to load, let’s say 8 years ago. You would tap on the app, then wait… for a good 5 seconds at least. But since technology has advanced and smartphone processors have become a lot faster, apps take advantage of that processing power. Apps are now optimized to use that extra horsepower in order to make the app faster and a lot more responsive. This is another key aspect of mobile development – optimize your app to be as responsive as possible. Nobody wants a slow-to-respond and sluggish app.

Looking back at the past

The old Instagram app

There are valuable lessons that app developers can learn just by looking at this evolution of apps. As you can see, apps have improved in certain key aspects, and this is what made them much easier and friendlier to use. So what are these key aspects that a developer has to always keep in mind when creating a new app?

-Interface: Have a friendly and intuitive user interface. One that can be used by anyone, from kids to even our grandparents.

-Speed: Having an app that is very responsive and quick is a given. Nobody wants a slow app. Optimize the app so it is as fast as possible!

-Stability: Nobody wants an app that crashes all the time! Test your app and make sure it won’t randomly crash. Remember how often apps used to crash 10 years ago? I do… and it was painful.

-Optimization: Make sure your app doesn’t drain too much battery and make sure it is suited for all smartphones. Not long ago, apps weren’t tailored to specific smartphones. So if you had a smartphone with a larger screen, most apps would be blown-out and would look bad. Nowadays, no matter what phone you have, most apps are well-optimized to look and feel great on your specific device.

Conclusion

These are the key aspects that we consider extremely important when developing an app. And the past decade is a perfect example of this. These are the aspects that improved the most and the ones that matter the most to users.

So, if these 10 years held so much technological advancements, we’re curious to see what the next 10 years will serve us. We’ve been in the app developing business for over 10 years, and we’ve seen and done it all… but we honestly can’t wait to see what 2020 and the next decade will bring us in terms of smartphones and apps! If history is anything to go by, we should see even bigger improvements and advancements.

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Smartwatches – are they any good in 2019?

Saturday, October 26th, 2019

Smartwatches – are they any good?

smartwatch

You might be surprised by all the things you can do with smartwatches. Smartphones were initially high-end devices which few felt the need to buy and nowadays I couldn’t really imagine not having a smartphone since the benefits are so obvious. I think eventually the same thing will happen to smartwatches but we are currently still at the stage where you might be thinking do the benefits really outweigh the cost.

There is a multitude of features that come with smartwatches that make them worthwhile. There are many things like heart rate monitoring and sports tracking which your smartphone just can’t do. Also, there are other features which just are more convenient on the smartwatch or perhaps you want to leave your bulky smartphone in the locker room while doing a workout just with your smartwatch.

It’s 2019, smartwatches have been out for over half a decade now. So let’s take a closer look at a few of them and see how they’ve improved over the years. More importantly, we’ll find out if smartwatches are actually worth getting in 2019.

What are the key differences between a smartphone and a smartwatch? What can a watch do and a phone can’t? You might be surprised by the differences, as smartwatches do a lot of things better than smartphones. Here are a few examples:

Wrist-based heart monitoring has become essential nowadays. I find it so valuable to be able to track my resting heart rate since that’s an indication about my physical condition. A lower resting heart rate is an indication of better physical health. Also seeing the heart rate when going for a run or cycling or any other activity is great and something I expect to have in my smartwatch.

Also if you consider the possibly life-saving health benefits that heart rate monitoring might have in the future I think this is just a must-have. Having a device that constantly and permanently monitors your heart is very, very important. Devices such as the Apple Watch have saved hundreds of lives.

smartwatch ecg

Did you know that the latest Apple Watches (Series 4 and 5) can do ECGs? These are proper ECGs that previously could only be done in hospitals. They can detect atrial fibrillation, and many other heart conditions. This is something that no smartphone could ever do, and it truly can be life-saving as well.

Nowadays, every smartphone can track your steps, calories burned, activities, etc. However, none of them are as accurate as a proper smartwatch that can measure your heart-rate and many other factors that a smartphone cannot. Smartwatches will always be more accurate than phones when it comes to fitness tracking, especially newer models that have GPS, altimeters, barometers and many, many more sensors.

Going back to the Apple Watch – did you know that it has a feature called “Fall detection”? Again, a feature that isn’t present on any smartphone, and exclusive to the Apple Watch. If the watch detects that you fell, it will send you a notification that asks if you’re ok. If you don’t respond to that notification within 30 seconds, or if the watch feels that you didn’t move for 30 seconds, it will call the local emergency number and send them your exact location. This is another feature that has saved thousands of lives. Imagine falling down, being unconscious and having your life saved by your watch!

While not so different to smartphones, having all of your notifications pushed to your watch can be helpful. Personally, I find it a lot easier to manage my notifications and get them silently delivered to my watch, rather than having my phone vibrate all the time.

Many smartwatches can be worn during sleep, and they can track your sleep. This is yet another thing that smartwatches cannot do. Once you wake up, the watch can tell you exactly when you fell asleep, when you woke up, how was the sleep overall.

Studies have shown how important sleep is and if you are having trouble getting enough sleep due to staying up too late perhaps it might be a good idea to start tracking your sleep amount and getting motivated to correct your sleeping rhythms.

Did you know that you can use your phone instead of your credit/debit card for contactless payments? All you have to do is set up Google Pay or Apple Pay, and you can simply pay with your phone by simply touching the card reader with it.

Nowadays, smartwatches take that to next level, and instead of paying with your card or your phone, you can pay with your watch. As such, simply touch the reader with your watch, and you’re good to go! Paying without even reaching for your pockets definitely feels like the future.

A watch can be useful for many more things as well. It can tell time (obviously), it can be used for two-factor authentication, it can be used to control music, to answer to messages, it can even be used to unlock your Mac.

Conclusion

 

To sum up, having a smartwatch isn’t a must, but it can make your life a lot easier (and safer, if you think about features such as fall detection or EKG). There are many great smartwatches that you can choose from, such as the Galaxy Watch, Huawei hands, and of course – the Apple Watch.

Another selling point of smartwatches is that many apps that you use on your smartphones, also have a smartwatch version. Having your app developed for your watch can be beneficial, as you can reach more customers.

Smartwatches represent a new market, a market that is growing very fast. As such, it would be bad to miss out and not have your app developed for smartwatches. We have already developed a handful of apps for smartwatches such as Apple Watch or watches that use Android Wear. So if you want to reach out to a whole new market and have your app developed for smartwatches, feel free to contact us.

At JustApplications, we listen to you and we build the app exactly as you want it to. We don’t just build apps, we create them with love.

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