PHDCC can build a custom app for iOS or Android - anything from a brochure app that displays information to a fully interactive app that talks to your server.
Most software developments take longer than you might expect - and effort is definitely required after the first version is released.
It is true that many websites now display fine on small screen devices, ie they have a responsive design that works on laptops, tablets and phones. If that's right, then why bother with an app, when you can just direct people to your website?
That said, it may be a wise choice to avoid the costs of an app when most needs can be satisfied by a responsive / interactive website. A website can be updated immediately while a bug in an app can take a while to fix due to the review process.
PHDCC uses the Intel XDK to develop mobile apps using the Apache Cordova cross-platform toolkit. This means having one code base that is written as a standard HTML/CSS/JS app, using standard or custom plugins to access mobile features.
We will usually use the Bootstrap framework for the user interface.
PHDCC has the experience to handle common app requirements safely on many devices, everything from photo resizing and upload to logging in user Google or Facebook credentials.
Your app may need permissions, eg permission to use the camera, store files or access the Internet. The plugins we use define which permissions are needed, eg using the geolocation plugin means that access to your location GPS is requested, in-app billing requires access to the Google Play billing service.
The permissions required are shown when the user installs the app - or if the permissions have changed when a new version is installed. Note that in-app billing requests will still need OKing by the user - unless they have given permssion.
It is generally advisable to keep the permissions required to a minimum so as to allay any user concerns.
Looking after your app is a very important - you have to dedicate resources to publicise the app, handle suggestions by users and do updates. Apple and Google provide facilities to view statistics on app downloads and usage. You can reply to reviews on Google Play but not in iTunes Connect.
The set up and running of your app on Google Play will be run by PHDCC - or you can do it.
You will need to set a price when the app is set up. You can specify one or more "in-app purchases" which can either be a product to buy, eg "level 2", or a subscription, eg access for a year with recurring payments. You can also specify the Google account emails of alpha/beta testers - although this seems tricky to get to work in practice.
The app deliverable is a file called an APK. Each APK has a version number and you can enter brief release notes with each new version you release. Google does not review your app before it is released, though they almost certainly reserve the right to check released apps. When you release an app it may take several hours before it is made available to all users. Most users will be set up to install new versions of your app automatically; approval is required if the permissions change.
The app should be tested before it is released. Testers can be given a link to a test version of the app; they will have to enabled the installation of apps from untrusted sources.
It is important to test on as many different devices as possible, in terms of device type, screen size and versions of Android. It is also sensible to check how the app fares when on low bandwidth 3G data or with no connectivity at all. It is best to avoid large downloads when the app is running - bear in mind users who pay for their bandwidth. With almost 10,000 different devices that run Android 4.03+ it is hard to ensure that an app will work everywhere.
The set up and running of your app at Apple will be run by PHDCC - or you can do it.
As outlined above, you will need to set a price when the app is set up. You can specify one or more "in-app purchases" which can either be a product to buy, eg a consumable such as fish food or a permanent non-consumable such a new game level - or a subscription, eg access for a year with recurring payments. For each in-app purchase you need to provide a localised description, review notes and a screenshot of the purchase in action, ie taken while using a test version while logged in with a sandbox test account.
The actual app is an IPA file which can be uploaded on a Mac using "Application Loader" or Xcode. You can enter review notes, details of a demo account and contact details. When you submit your app you must make declarations about Export Compliance, Content Rights and use of an Advertising Identifier (IDFA). The app is now put in the review queue - which can take up a week. You can opt to release the app immediately upon approval or release it manually. It make take up to a day to be available.
The app should be tested before it is released. Testers can be given a link to a test version of the app built with the Ad Hoc provisioning profile (that includes their UDID). Test purchases can be done when signed into the device with one of the sandbox ids.
It is important to test on as many different devices as possible, in terms of device type, screen size and versions of iOS. It is also sensible to check how the app fares when on low bandwidth 3G data or with no connectivity at all. It is best to avoid hude downloads when the app is running - this reduces costs for users who pay for their bandwidth.
The set up and running of your app at Amazon will be run by PHDCC - or you can do it.
Android APK files usually run fine on Kindle Fire devices - as they are based on Android.
You will need to sign up to the Amazon Developer Console. The following tabs need to be filled in for the app:
Review information can be supplied when submitting your app. Apps are usually reviewed and made available within a day.