Gonzalo E. Mon is a partner in the Advertising Law practice at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP and his co-author, John J. Heitmann, is a partner in the firm’s Telecommunications group. Read more on Kelley Drye’s advertising blog, Ad Law Access, or keep up with the group on Facebook or Twitter.

If you work with mobile apps, you may already know that privacy is a hot issue. Regulators are pushing companies to improve their privacy practices, Congress is contemplating new laws, and class action lawyers are suing companies that don’t clearly disclose their practices. In the past few weeks, this focus on privacy intensified as the FTC, the California Attorney General, and even the White House weighed in with new announcements.

Two things are clear from this recent burst of activity. First, regulators are putting pressure on everyone in the mobile app ecosystem to improve their practices, so you can’t just assume that it’s your partner’s responsibility to comply. And with the number of regulators focusing on these issues, it’s going to be a lot harder for companies to hide. No matter what role you play in the mobile app ecosystem, you should pay attention to these developments. Here’s what you need to know.


Increased Focus on App Privacy


In February, the FTC issued a report about mobile apps directed to children. Although these apps can collect a broad range of information, the FTC noted that neither the app stores nor app developers provide enough information for parents to determine what data is collected from their children or how it is used or shared. In some cases, this could be a violation of federal law. The FTC wants all members of the kids app ecosystem to play an active role in making appropriate disclosures to parents.

Shortly after the FTC issued its report, the California Attorney General announced an agreement with the leading app stores in which the stores agreed to add a field in the app submission process for developers to post their privacy notices or a link to a privacy policy. The agreement is intended to ensure that consumers have an opportunity to access pertinent privacy information before they download an app. Moreover, the app stores have committed to provide a mechanism for consumers to report apps that don’t comply with laws or the app store’s terms of service.

And the White House also stepped into the debate by announcing a data privacy framework that establishes a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.” Although the framework speaks broadly about privacy issues, several sections discuss issues that are particularly relevant to the mobile space. For example, the White House encourages app developers to collect only as much personal data as they need and to tailor their privacy disclosures to mobile screens.


5 Tips to Stay Ahead of the Regulators


Given the quickly changing legal landscape — and the growing number of government institutions that want to play a role in that landscape — it can be difficult for companies in the mobile app space to understand what is required. The following five tips address concerns that all of these institutions appear to share. Accordingly, they should form the starting point for your legal analysis when you develop and launch an app.

1. Don’t collect more than you need.

Because data can function as the currency of the digital age, there is often a tendency to collect as much data as possible. Companies think that even if they don’t have an immediate use for the data now, they might find a use (or a buyer) for it later on. Although this may be true, resist the temptation to collect more data than you need for your app to work. This is a core principle of the FTC’s “privacy by design” framework, as well as the new White House framework.

2. Disclose your privacy practices.

You need to make sure that users easily have the ability to learn what information you are collecting from them and how you are using it before they download your app. (The changes the app stores are making as a result of their agreement with the California AG will make this easier.) Make sure that your privacy notices are easy to read and tailored to the mobile setting. If you’re looking for a place to start, consider the Mobile Marketing Association’s Privacy Policy Guidelines for Mobile Apps.

3. Be careful with children.

If you collect personal information from children under 13, you need to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Among other things, COPPA generally requires companies to obtain verifiable consent from parents before they collect personal information from their children. The FTC has challenged app developers for violating COPPA, and the agency’s latest report suggests that the FTC expects all members of the kids app ecosystem to play a role in complying.

4. Consider when to get consent.

Although various bills pending in Congress would require companies to get consent before collecting certain types of information, outside of COPPA, getting consent is not a uniformly applicable legal requirement yet. Nevertheless, there are some types of information (such as location-based data) for which getting consent may be a good idea. Moreover, it may be advisable to get consent at the point of collection when sensitive personal data is in play. Work with your legal counsel to determine what makes sense in your context.

5. Protect the information you collect.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to read stories about major companies who experience data breaches. Data breaches can be costly to address and they may result in lasting damage to your brand. If you are collecting information from consumers, you need to ensure you have physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards to protect that information. For example, certain data should be encrypted and you should limit access to it. Moreover, you should properly dispose of data when you no longer need it.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, akinbostanci

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A new lifestyle-inspired iOS wallpaper app, Paper’d, is available Monday, offering free, professionally designed wallpapers based on everything from pop culture to worldwide travel.

The app was created by two best friends Jamie Varon and Nicole Antoinette. You may remember Varon from 2009 when she created the website TwitterShouldHireMe.com. The site got a ton of attention, which ultimately led her to create the high-end boutique web design company Shatterboxx in April of that year.

A few months after creating Shatterboxx she stumbled upon now business-partner Antoinette’s blog, reached out to her on Twitter, and the two became friends. Fast forward to December 2009, the Twitter buddies finally met in San Francisco, decided to move in together 24 hours later, and within a few weeks Antoinette became the other half of the Shatterboxx team.

Shatterboxx has done design work for a number of popular blogs including TheBloggess and Rocket Shoes, but this is its first introduction into the app world.

“I always wanted to change the wallpaper on my phone. I would look all over the Internet for options, and they were all on websites. That’s so inefficient,” Varon told Mashable. She found that most wallpaper options were also just curated pictures from the web. “None of it meets the quality of what I’d want to put on my phone,” she said.

The project started out as creating wallpapers for her personal use that she would also share with friends. When her friends started emailing her asking for new wallpapers, Varon realized that there might be a larger market for the designs.

 

Paper’d was created by two best friends Jamie Varon and Nicole Antoinette.

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“People don’t need this app, but it will be super fun to have,” says Varon. “We’re passionate about design, and these are things people will look at and say ‘That’s cool!’”

Paper’d offers 200 free, hand-designed wallpapers, as well as around 260 additional images that are part of locked collections priced between $0.99 to $1.99 a piece. Each wallpaper comes with a lock screen image as well as a complementing home screen image. Images –including those that are part of locked collections — can be previewed on your iPhone before you download, and you can choose to download just one wallpaper or an entire collection to your Camera Roll at once.

Varon anticipates adding at least one new collection of wallpapers to the app each week, potentially more or less over time depending on demand.

Curious how two people could go from Twitter friends to launching an app together? Check out the infographic below for more on Varon and Antoinette’s story.

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The self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports” launched the ESPN Developer Center on Monday, for the first time allowing software developers to use APIs providing a plethora of information from around the sports universe.

“The play for us is making sure we have our content in all these different digital ecosystems,” Jason Guenther, ESPN’s vice president of digital media technology, told Mashable last week. “Connected devices are only going to proliferate in every aspect of life, so it’s important that we can reach fans no matter the product or place.”

ESPN’s Headlines API is now available to the public through the Developer Center. It connects apps to ESPN’s huge amount of daily news stories, columns and analysis pieces covering a wide rage of sports leagues, teams and athletes. The Research Notes API is available for ESPN partners and gives access to historical notes, trivia and factoids.

Foursquare got special permission to use a version of the Research Notes API last August, and provides an example of how ESPN’s treasure trove of data will enhance other apps. When Foursquare users check into a sports-related event or location, they can receive relevant bits of complementary information courtesy of ESPN. Pulse and Flipboard have also been using ESPN APIs already.

Other APIs are still in private beta but should become more widely available soon. One organizes daily logistical information such as scores, schedules and venues. Another updates league and division standings, and others provide feeds to information on teams and players.

“The end result is that you can create any experience with any device with the information we give you,” Chris Jason, director of ESPN’s API program, said in an interview.

But Jason and Guenther say the Developer Center and API program aren’t just designed to provide ESPN content and information to outside developers. They emphasize that the initiatives also streamline and strengthen ESPN’s in-house development processes. Like many media companies, ESPN has increased its digital emphasis in the past few years, and recently held a multi-site hackathon to help speed innovation.

“One thing I’m most proud of is these APIs shining a light on some of the talent we have internally and giving them an easier road to create new products for the company,” Jason said.

The Headlines API is free for non-commercial use in apps performing up to 2,500 API calls per day. As outside apps that use ESPN APIs increase in user base, developers enter individual partnership agreements with the company. If you want to use ESPN’s new APIs, visit the Developer Center and request a developer key.

Do you think this is a smart move by ESPN? Let us know in the comments.

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facebook-mobile-app-600

When Facebook filed for its IPO earlier this month, it revealed that it has 425 million mobile users. That massive presence on phones and tablets has translated into success for many others, the social network says, since Facebook’s mobile platform sends more than 60 million people to third-party apps every month.

In a post on the company’s developer blog, Facebook’s head of mobile developer relations, James Pearce, says that since Facebook revamped its mobile platform in October last year (which included the launch of its iPad app), it’s resulted in a big uptick of users interacting with apps and games outside of Facebook proper. The 60 million people who visit apps from Facebook create more than 320 million “visits” on those apps.

While many of those visits are to popular games such as those made by Zynga, Pearce cites the social app Foodspotting as an example of an app success story. By letting users sign in with their Facebook login and creating an app that integrate’s with Facebook’s Open Graph, Pearce says Foodspotting has seen the number of visits and activities shared via the social network increase by a factor of three.

As a more recent example, Yahoo built Open Graph into its desktop and mobile web apps, so visitors could see on Facebook which Yahoo News articles their friends had been reading. Since Feb. 14 — not even two weeks ago — traffic to the mobile Yahoo News web app has gone up by 3.5x.

SEE ALSO: Facebook’s Road to IPO
The post comes right before Facebook appeared at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. There, Facebook Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor said the company is working to help create standards to make developing web apps easier. That would help fuel Facebook’s mobile influence even more, since developers wouldn’t need to create separate apps for every platform (iOS, Android, etc.) and just integrate Open Graph with a web app to reach Facebook’s huge audience.

Of course, the one thing Facebook hasn’t yet revealed is how it’s going to tie advertising to its mobile platform. In Facebook’s IPO filing, the company said it didn’t serve ads through any of its mobile products — yet.

What do you think of Facebook’s growing influence in mobile? Is it a boon to developers, or should they be wary of putting so many eggs in the Facebook basket? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ymgerman


BONUS: Facebook IPO: Reading Between the Lines


 

Advertising: 123

As we learned by reading the S1 document, Facebook relies heavily on advertising for revenue. “Advertising” comes up 123 times, matched only by “Mobile” (also with 123 mentions). Interestingly, Facebook is not really making much money from mobile but still considers it a key component for future development.

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That app you use to play Words with Friends on your phone or book a reservation using Open Table might be giving the American economy a nice boost, at least according to a new survey by TechNet.

The new “app economy” has created about 466,000 jobs in the United States since 2007, according to the survey.

“America’s App Economy – which had zero jobs just 5 years ago before the iPhone was introduced – demonstrates that we can quickly create economic value and jobs through cutting-edge innovation,” Rey Ramsey, President and CEO of TechNet, said on the company’s blog. “Today, the App Economy is creating jobs in every part of America, employing hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers today and even more in the years to come.”

California took the lion’s share of growth with 23.8% of app-related jobs. The New York-Northern New Jersey- Long Island area tops the regional list with 9.2% of app-sparked growth.

Programmers, user interface designers, tech marketers and support staff can rejoice — all of these positions are impacted by the growing use of apps.

The survey was funded by TechNet, a bipartisan organization with a stated goal to vigorously promote technology, and Dr. Michael Mandel of South Mountain Economics LLC.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have the title “mobile app developer” yet, but other IT positions are projected to see major growth in the next six years. “Computer software engineers, applications” is a term used to describe a sector of jobs that is expected to grow 34% from 2008-2018.

As mobile devices and the cloud help to expand the business of apps, it wouldn’t be a surprise for that number to jump even more.

Have you been impacted by the “app economy”? How? Tell us in the comments.

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Seth Porges is a magazine editor and the creator of Cloth, an iOS fashion app for iPhone and iPod Touch. His Twitter handle is @sethporges.

App appeal is obvious. The barrier to entry? So low! The upshot of producing the next Angry Birds or beer-chug simulator? So high! Heck, with just a small investment of time and cash, it’s not hard for would-be mobile moguls to turn a concept into a steady stream of cash. And thanks to today’s app stores, it’s never been easier to try your hand at becoming the next tech tycoon.

Here’s (almost) everything you need to know before you get started on your own app — and what I wish I knew before I got into the game.


1. What Does It Cost to Make an App?



If you’re new to the app game, prepare for some sticker shock. Making an app will cost you, at the very minimum, around $10,000. This is for a super-simple program — none of that fancy enterprise or social networking jibber-jabber. Even still, any app worth its weight in code will likely cost you closer to $20,000. 

Unless you have some basic design skills, you’ll need to enlist the help of both a programmer and a designer. And these guys ain’t cheap — particularly programmers who, thanks to a pronounced shortage of qualified coders, can pretty much name their prices. (A suggestion for those low on funds: Find some creative way to come up with the cash. I funded my app through Airbnb income.)

You can try to offload some of your costs by offering your guys equity; on the other hand, everybody tries to get free (or close to free) apps by offering developers equity. So unless you can really sell them on the strength of your idea (or bring something totally rad to the table, such as a celebrity), you better be prepared to pony up some cash. Of course, adding in some equity as a bonus is never a bad idea, so you’ll probably want to dish out some shares too.

This basic supply/demand dynamic also means that many developers ask for some pretty insane terms. Some demand deals that involve a huge upfront payment in exchange for a few weeks (or even just days) of work. And if a decent developer isn’t already working full time, it’s not unreasonable to assume he’s at least a little commitment-averse. So, if you’re serious about making something beyond a quickie cash grab, find a developer you are sure will stay with the project for updates, and not abandon it the second it hits the store.

And get it all in writing. If you don’t want to hire a lawyer, find a boilerplate contract online or get one from somebody else who’s gone through the process, and just swap in your names and numbers.


If you can, you’ll also want to work with people who are local to you — or at least with people who are willing to join you for regular Skype chats or Google Hangouts. I had weekly beer summits with my coder and designer, which proved super helpful as we continued to fine-tune our app well into its development.

One more unavoidable cost: Apple charges $100 per year to hold onto a developer’s account (which you need to publish your app). So be sure to reserve an extra Benjamin for your budget.


2. What Should You Charge for Your App?


I would consider starting one’s app at or near $1.99. It’s premium price, but it’s also immensely satisfying to get more than a buck per download after Apple takes away its 30%. And, as with most things, it’s a lot easier to lower the price later than it is to raise it.

During the holiday period, we briefly played around with a special promotion that dropped our app price to $0.99. Predictably, this spiked our downloads, but it didn’t actually raise our total revenue. Even on Christmas Day — the single biggest download day for just about everybody — our revenue was actually higher a week or so later, once we had raised the price back to $1.99.


The obvious exception: If your primary business model involves in-app purchases, ads or the like, you’ll probably want to give your app away for free. After all, a quick glance at Apple’s top grossing charts shows a whole bunch of free apps.


3. When Will You Get Paid?


Apple sends you cash one month at a time, up to 45 days after the month has ended. So, if your app goes live in January, you can expect your first kickback sometime in early March. Oh, and Apple only pays you if your earned amount totals at least $150, so you may have to wait before getting your first payment. Keep in mind, Apple only pays you through direct deposit.


4. How Do You Write Your iTunes Description?


Don’t try to rock the boat here. Take a look at a bunch of hit apps, and crib their formats. If it works for them, it’ll work for you. Typically, this involves a quickie intro statement, press blurbs and a list of your key features. Then add some screenshots (the most interesting ones first) and call it a day.


5. What’s the Best Way to Beta Test?


Getting an unreleased app onto your friends’ iPhones isn’t the easiest thing in the world. My developer and I are in total agreement that the best method is a program called TestFlight, which makes it very easy to send build updates to registered devices, over the air.


6. What Happens When You Get Featured on iTunes?


Getting featured on iTunes is obviously awesome, but what exactly does it get you? When Apple included our app on its featured lists, we enjoyed a predictable flow of downloads almost identical in volume every single day we were parked there. Especially fascinating, the “New & Notable” list gave us almost exactly twice as many daily downloads as the “What’s Hot” list. I’m assuming this is because, when you tap the “Featured” tab on the “App Store” app, “New & Notable” pops up by default.


7. How Do You Get Press?


As a longtime tech writer, the main advice I can give you in your pursuit for press is that less is more. If you think a site or publication would be into your app, don’t email the entire staff or the big boss — just find the writer who covers your category, briefly summarize your app in an email, and attach a download code (Apple gives you 50 for every update). Smaller sites may be more responsive than the big guys, and if you build up enough buzz, you can rest assured that the majors will come knocking.

If a journalist doesn’t get back to you, move on. And don’t even touch that phone or personal email address (unless that person is a freelancer) — writers hate nothing more than phone or personal inbox press pitches.

Consider also producing an embeddable YouTube or Vimeo ad of some sort. Not only does this provide one more avenue for people to stumble upon your app, but it also gives bloggers something alive and colorful to toss into posts, which could increase the chances that they’ll write about you. Keep it simple, and preferably, well under two minutes. And don’t forget to promote over Twitter, Facebook, etc.


8. How Do You Avoid the Spam?


Within days of hitting the App Store, expect whichever email you linked to your iTunes developer’s account to be pounded with spam. Most try to lure you into ponying over money in exchange for positive reviews, under the guise of “mobile marketing.” Let’s put it this way: If you don’t regularly buy Viagra pills online, then you probably shouldn’t give cash to these guys. Of course, if you’re smart enough to make an app, you’re smart enough to know this already.

What other tips do you have for app development and promotion? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, svariophoto, Flickr, Andres Rueda

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If you enjoy using Spotify or Foursquare on Facebook, imagine having the same integration with a bevy of other apps. Now you can share more than just your location, music tastes and which story you enjoyed reading on the Washington Post that day using Social Reader.

Facebook’s announcement on Wednesday of 60 new apps has some people scratching their heads and asking, “How will this look on my timeline?” Until now only a selection of apps were integrated with Facebook’s Open GraphSpotify, Foursquare, Washington Post’s Social Reader. This new set of apps lets users share many more actions with their Facebook friends — like running, cooking, shopping and more — creating a dynamic timeline profile.

Say for instance you review a winery on TripAdvisor (one of the new integrated apps). TripAdvisor will ask if you want to share the review on Facebook (which is not novel), but when you allow the review to be shared, it becomes part of your Timeline profile, as well as posts to the news feed. What you share will linger on your timeline profile rather than being pushed down in the feed the next time your post something.

Facebook unveiled their Open Graph platform at the f8 conference in September 2011. The new apps give users a way to share more than just “likes.”

Here’s the full list of 60 integrated Facebook apps.

Some highlights:

Gogobot is fun if for only one reason: to create a passportlist of cities you’ve visited. Sift through photos of cities and add them to your passport where you can write reviews and upload personal vacation photos.

Artfinder is a really neat app that’s like having an art museum curator in your pocket. Identify works of art simply by snapping a photo and letting the app analyze the snapshot. Help grow the database if you know the artist’s name and title of the piece by entering it in the app. Artfinder can also direct you to nearby galleries. This would be a handy app to have for a self-guided museum tour or while shopping vintage stores or flea markets for artwork.

Causes lets you get involved with issues you care about. Sort through a variety of topics and select the ones you wish to learn more about: International Development, for instance or Women’s Empowerment. Then read about how you can take action or donate. Encourage awareness by sharing what you care about to your Facebook friends.

Big test looming? Grockit is a social study tool that’s customizable and connects you with friends on Facebook. Study guides are available for middle school, high school, college and graduate students — from the SAT to GRE. The program has some hefty research behind it, too. Experts in curriculum design who’ve worked for Apple and Houghton Mifflin helped create some of the lesson plans on the app. Study solo or connect with study partners on Grockit. Let your Facebook friends know you’re studying on Grockit and boast about the latest badges you’ve earned on the site.

With Runkeeper you can track and save your routes, even distinguish which ones are cycling and jogging routes. Runkeeper also tracks downhill skiing routes, hiking, swimming, skating, rowing and other activities. Inform your network when you complete a run and how far you went. If you want, you can include your current fitness status and the goal you’re trying to reach (run a marathon, etc.).

Snooth let you “taste” wines on Facebook. Click the “taste” button to post reviews of wine and rate them on a five merlot-glass-scale. Read others’ reviews, sift through wine guides and browse bottles by region.

Which of the new apps have you integrated into your timeline? Tell us in the comments.

On Facebook? Like the Mashable Facebook page and check out our favorite articles covering social media, tech news, and digital culture!

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html5 logo

LAS VEGAS — AT&T unveiled new tools for app developers Monday, making it easier for them to create and distribute apps made with HTML5.

AT&T said it will launch the HTML5 storefront for its App Center later this year, and that the new tools will allow developers to collect fees from customers by adding expenses to phone bills.

The big news for developers is that they no longer have to make apps that run natively on Android or iOS — they can develop the app in HTML5, a universal standard. This will let them start selling their apps sooner. AT&T’s App Center promises to be less populated than the Android Market or App Store, and at the same time it will be curated — so customers would in theory have an easier time finding your app.

HTML5 apps usually run via a mobile phone’s browser. AT&T’s new platform appears to be aimed mainly at Android developers, but since HTML5 is supported on most smartphone browsers (including the iPhone’s), it could be extended to iOS as well.

Highlights From CES: Sharp 80-Inch HDTV Just Got Even Better | First Intel Smartphone Will Be Lenovo K800 for China, Motorola Devices Coming | Facebook and Mercedes: An Unexpected Pair

As part of the HTML5 developer API, AT&T is making it easy for developers to bill customers right on their phone bills. Some other mobile APIs already allow this, but AT&T’s support for billing via HTML5 should bring the service to more customers.

Besides the billing feature, other new developer tools include AT&T Cloud Architect, a “fast way to pick, provision and deploy servers over the web within minutes or hours, not days,” and an Application Resource Optimizer, which will optimize apps so they consume the minimum amount of data and power.

Are you a developer? What do you think of AT&T’s new HTML5 app store and API? Let us know in the comments, and browse some of CES 2012′s coolest gadgets in the gallery below.


CES 2012: Mashable’s Photo Coverage From the Ground


Check out more gadgets, booths and appearances from our team on the ground at CES 2012.

Thermador Cooktop

The Freedom Induction Cooktop by Thermador allows the user to place pots anywhere on it’s surface for cooking.

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Competition in Apple’s App Store is so tough that even strong concepts must be planned to perfection before any development should start. So enter App Cooker: A hot new iPad app that makes sure other apps have the right ingredients in place before any development begins. App Cooker ($19.99) from Sophia-Antipolis, France-based Hot Apps Factory helps aspiring designers organize, plan and get app projects ready for production.

30-year-old Xavier Veyrat — the designer of App Cooker — spoke to Mashable about the development of the platform and the steps that go into creating a masterpiece app recipe.


Q&A with Xavier Veyrat, App Designer


Have you always been into design?

Always. I’m crazy about it. I loved to draw when I was a kid, but I never went to art school. I actually studied law, business and management. But every time I worked on a project with design, it reinforced what I really wanted to do. I joined a team that needed an app, so to make it, I watched online tutorials on YouTube, read articles on blogs and practiced a lot. I love to look at interfaces and simplify them so they can be used without instructions. I hate to read instructions.

What type of design inspires you?

Companies such as Apple, Dyson and Braun are some of the main sources of my inspiration because they care about usefulness and beauty at the same time. I’m also inspired by show-and-tell site Dribbble and social sites that focus on design — they provide an incredible source of ideas. I am an observer and a huge consumer of apps — I have more than 1,000. It helps me learn which designs work and which ones don’t.

 

How did the concept for App Cooker come about?

Two years ago, I started to work on a gaming app with my partner Johann. As we designed the app, we realized that there was nothing on the market that was project-planning oriented to help people get started with the creation of their own apps. I did the design on Illustrator and Johann did the coding. We ended up wasting a lot of time, since making a clickable mockup would have been a far more efficient way to jump in. App Cooker provides that clickable mock-up prototype and gathers up all of the key components of an app before any coding and polished design starts. It helps designers to conceive, design and test interfaces without a single line of code in the context of an iOS device. For example, you can rotate the screen and the mockup will display another version of the design. It’s extremely valuable for app designers at all skill levels.

What makes a good app?

A good app is based on a clear scope, a robust mockup, a coherent design and good marketing. If one of these aspects is strong and another one is not, it won’t work. It’s like preparing for the Olympics and although you may be a top contender, if you don’t show up on competition day and give it your all, you probably won’t win. Apps also have to be smart and fresh. Look at the “Photo” app on the iPhone — it’s one the most used of all time and it’s so simple. So the vision and execution should be fresh, clear, simple and unique.

“I’m a firm believer that good design comes after you sketch it out ten times.”

How did you approach the design process?

We wanted the app to be easy to use and have different colors to separate the different aspects of the app. I’m a firm believer that good design comes after you sketch it out ten times. But overall, we made more than 30 iterations to get to the design of the app board, which serves almost like a homepage, what we wanted it to be. For other parts of the app, we made up to 200 versions, at least. You have to keep going and trying new things until you get it right.

How is this concept different than others on the market?

App Cooker is the only app that allows designers to experiment with prototyping from a project point of view. Mock-ups shouldn’t be just graphics anymore. Users need to be aware of the key aspects of a project right from the start, from the name, idea and logo to the cost effectiveness and how it will look once it’s coded. Without this centralized approach, developers and designers have a tendency to move right on with production and trouble shoot when it’s too late in the process.

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring app designer?

A good designer is someone who learns every day with a little dose of criticisms. Also, stay on top of other apps in the market too. I love list app Wunderlist, as well as Soulver — a calculator with a soul and helps you find design ratios — and chart app LovelyCharts. Some of my favorite apps have the same vision as App Cooker, which features a future where the iPad is used to achieve tasks better than on a computer.

Where do you see app design going in the next few years?

This is the golden age of app design. Yesterday, everyone wanted a website, and now everyone wants an app. App design is going to help evolve us more into a prosumer environment, where the consumer produces the content they want. We’re positioning ourselves to help the future app makers of the world, and it’s an exciting place to be.


Series supported by Volvo


 

The Leaders in Design Series is supported by Volvo. Experience the newest Volvo for yourself. Step inside the 325hp 2011 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design at volvocars.us.

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It seems like only yesterday that the Windows Phone Marketplace hit 40,000 apps — actually, it was Nov. 17 — and now Microsoft’s mobile app store has just passed 50,000, according to All About Windows Phone.

Microsoft currently gives an official count of “more than 35,000″ apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, a company spokesperson told Mashable. In the past, Microsoft has said that it doesn’t count extremely simple apps such as wallpapers or multiple versions (i.e. a paid game that also provides a “lite” version) as individual apps, which may explain the large discrepancy between the official number and the estimate.

In either case, it’s a fraction of the number of apps in Apple’s App Store or the Android Market (about 600,000 and 500,000 apps, respectively). However, even though the number isn’t large by app-store standards, the Windows Phone Marketplace is growing rapidly. The platform hit 50,000 apps sooner than all platforms except iOS, in just 14 months, the report notes. It took Android 19 months to reach that mark.

Microsoft’s app store passed the milestone sooner than the site predicted, and it’s seen a strong uptick in the number of apps submitted and approved in the past few weeks. The number of apps is growing at a rate of 265 items per day (see the graph below).




windows phone uptick

All About Windows Phone chalks up the platform’s growth spurt to the increased availability of Windows Phones (the number of countries recently went up from 16 to 35) and the highly anticipated release of Nokia’s Windows Phones, such as the Lumina 710 in the U.S. However, those events had been anticipated for a while, and it doesn’t fully explain the sudden interest from developers, which isn’t directly related to the spread of the platform.

It’s possible the release of the developer preview of Windows 8 may have been a factor. Since both Windows Phone and Windows 8 share the Metro user interface, more than a few Windows 8 developers who had never created apps in Metro may have been persuaded to give Windows Phone a try.

Even though the Windows Phone Marketplace is taking off, Microsoft faces many challenges before its mobile platform will seriously challenge Apple’s or Google’s. Charlie Kindel, the former general manager of Windows Phone’s developer experience, theorizes that Microsoft doesn’t curry favor among carriers and manufacturers the same way Apple and Android have, and the whole platform suffers, even though, as Kindel says, it provides a superior experience in many ways.

At least developers seem to be finally warming up to the platform. Are you a Windows Phone developer or customer? Why do you favor it? And if you’re not a fan, why not? Let us know in the comments.

[via TechCrunch]

More About: apps, developers, Metro, windows phone

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