Three Secrets of a Mobile App Designer


Some of the most valuable real estate available is on your smartphone screen, positioning mobile UI/UX designers as highly influential players in the mobile space. Mobile app designers are using “one of the richest canvasses a designer can dream of,” according to Sergio Nouvel, a leading designer and entrepreneur. But they are more than mere pixel pushers; rather, they are the individuals who consider end-users’ complete experience as they interact with a mobile app. Designers aim to continuously improve usability and provide a visceral connection between the app and the user. Though mobile UI/UX designers by nature are a varied bunch, here are three secrets associated with the job:


This Pic Nix robot helps you publicly shame your friend’s Instagram photos


One of the most popular types of mobile photos is also one of the most hated: Selfies. If you don’t like them, but you like your friend, you can use this robot, Pic Nix, to publicly shame your friend. To use the bot, go to Pic Nix’s website. Then select the user you want to shame, the photo in question, and one of the 16 Instagram sins of mobile photos:

#TBT Kids
Beer Lattes
Building Nails
Cats Plane
Dogs Selfie
Feed Fatigue Sunsets
Feet Vacation
Food Weather


Vessyl: a smart cup that knows what you’re drinking

vessylVessyl is a smart cup that will tell you what you’re drinking in addition to what you’ve already had to drink. It’s a cup, but re-invented with computing technology and designed to perfection.

Vessyl is not your average smart device –  it’s a product that’s been seven years in the making, and it shows. From the handling of the lid to its display, this cup looks right when it’s working right. Once you’re done touching its faceted exterior and tilting the cup to read its screen, the lid slides open seamlessly to reveal its smart interior – capable of calculating liquid information into caloric, sugar, and molecular details. According to the Verge, who had access to the prototype, the Vessyl is so accurate, it “knows the difference between Gatorade Cool Blue and Glacier Freeze.” (more…)

Quickly build and bootstrap your own HTML5 app using Appgyver’s new Composer

appgyver composer

Appgyver’s latest tool for building apps is a must-see for bootstrappers. The drag-and-drop app builder, Composer, is currently free as a beta product, and it offers a unique solution for custom-built apps – perfect for small companies or new startups.

With Composer, users can generate code based on visual-logic and real data. The best part about the app editor is its live feed-back. Once you make changes to your app, you can use your phone to preview and input data in order to build your code using Composer’s simple logic editor. (more…)

Apple’s app design Bible is now a free iBook through iTunes

app design bible

Apple’s app design Bible, iOS Human Interface Guidelines, is now a free download from iTune’s iBookstore. The guidelines were only previously available through Apple’s Developer Portal, but now it’s free as a convenient iBook document with useful annotations and videos.

Once inside the app design Bible, readers can glean some of the design decisions Apple developers go through when creating apps for iOS. From understanding what makes a great user experience to clean, simple color palettes and fonts – the book is a nice way to browse what was once only available as a PDF. (more…)

6 App Design Tips from Experienced App Designers

Photo via Flickr / Cristiano Betta

Photo via Flickr / Cristiano Betta

A great app is one people want to use over and over again. And great apps all have one thing in common – a well-executed design appropriate for the platform and use. Sometimes it takes a few bad experiences (AKA zero-to-no amount of downloads) to get the hang of user experience in mobile devices, but sometimes it’s much easier to learn from other developers’ experiences.

Here are six expert app design tips to satisfy clients and keep users coming back.


Mixamo delivers 3D facial animation capture via standard Webcam

Image via Mixamo

Image via Mixamo

I’m sitting inside Mixamo’s San Francisco studio, and as I grimace and growl at the Webacam, the character on screen grimaces and growls right back in a way that is both hilarious and downright eerie. Those are my mannerisms in real-time now staring back at me in the form of an animated character.

The motion-capture game is about to change.

Forget the days of face sensors or markers, as thanks to Mixamo’s new Face Plus Unity plugin (utilizes the new Unity 4.3 blendshape technology), work that used to take weeks is now done in minutes, giving small to mid-size developers the ability to add facial animations to games at fractions of the cost and manpower.


Gamebrain reveals cloud-based development and publishing platform

Image via Gamebrain

Image via Gamebrain

Designed to address the needs of small to mid-sized mobile game developers, Gamebrain announced today a cloud-based development and publishing platform that Founder and CEO Eduardo Cervantes sees as a major breakthrough for developers looking to expedite the process from game idea to monetization.

“It is very hard to get your game discovered by the public,” explains Cervantes, “especially if you’re a small developer. You just don’t have the resources to rank high on the app stores.

“The top 20 game development companies account for 90-percent of revenue at the big app stores, both Google and Apple. In our study, we counted 1.1 million app development shops and independent developers around the world. So if the top 20 players are taking 90-percent of the revenue, that means the other 10-percent is being spread out among those 1.1 million developers. So where we see the opportunity is in evening the playing field.”


Guest Post: The secrets to Blood Brothers’ success

Editor’s note: DeNA’s Japanese RPG card battler has been a hit for the mobile-social gaming juggernaut since release. As Inside Mobile Apps previously reported, Blood Brothers’ events feature is wildly successful for the game. In a third guest post from Kevin Oke, lead designer at both Adrian Crook & Associates, a social-mobile game design consultancy, and PlayRank, a second screen startup, he analyzes the successful components of Blood Brothers from an outsider’s perspective. He previously wrote guest posts for Inside Mobile Apps which analyzed Supercell’s Clash of Clans and NimbeBit’s Nimbe Quest.

DeNA Mobage’s Blood Brothers for iOS and Android recently celebrated its one year anniversary, and is continuing to monetize very well, with an ARPU that has grown every month since release. With this milestone in mind, now seems like a good time to take a dive into the game and highlight some of the things this collectible card game (CCG) does well.

Although it’s certainly firmly rooted in the conventions of the CCG genre (“hands-off” battles, card fusion, gacha) Blood Brothers does add its own touches of innovation, as explained below.

Blood Brothers PvP battle surfacingPvP

Blood Brothers excels at player vs. player (PvP) on a number of levels, one being surfacing. Good surfacing ensures that players are not only made aware of key AEM (Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization) features and the benefits they stand to gain by using them, but also pushed towards these behaviors via smart timing and offering incentives. This is generally done through contextual dialog boxes and limited time promotions.

As PvP gameplay is traditionally a strong source of retention and monetization, it’s especially important to do surfacing well. Blood Brothers keeps PvP at the forefront of the player’s mind with random PvP battles while the player is progressing through a level. These random battles are effective in several ways:

  • Surfacing of PvP gameplay to get the player interested in it and strengthen its ability to help monetize and retain players.
  • Increases PvP’s effectiveness as a morale sink (morale being the rechargeable energy resource needed to engage in PvP and raid boss fights).
  • Clear, simple goals and incentives (winning streaks reward the player with items) — these suck the player in, extending sessions and draining the player of their morale as they attempt to extend their win streak to hit the next reward.

Although conceptually not unique to Blood Brothers, the inclusion of “all-out attacks” (more effective than regular attacks but three-times more costly in terms of morale) and high level raid bosses that are susceptible to them further help to keep morale a precious resource and make a micro-transaction refill more tempting.

Lastly, compared to the confusing and convoluted user experience (UX) that precludes getting into a PvP match in Rage of Bahamut, there is little such friction in Blood Brothers. Opponent selection filtering options are eliminated in favor of pre-determined choices, and it’s immediately clear to the player what’s at stake with rewards, and how their deck stacks up against their potential opponents. (more…)

Google I/O 2013: How to make magical Android apps

Android jelly BeanIn the final part of a three-leg series about Android development pro tips, Reto Meier, Android developer relations tech lead at Google, presented some tips for Android developers to make their apps “magical.” Meier wanted to answer the question “How do we build apps significantly enough to feel like magic?”

For his first tip, Meier says the easiest way for a developer to make an app magical is by looking at competitors.

“You can use your competitors as an eye for where you should be,” he says. But there’s a downfall when analyzing what competitors are doing. “Aiming for the past or where your competitors have been isn’t magic,” he adds.

Meier also says developers shouldn’t focus on the current breakdown of the Android operating system, which Google provides publicly at its developer dashboard.

“If you wait for Jelly Bean to hit 50 percent, you’re going to be behind,” he says. Meier adds that developers should build apps for users with the latest Android OS, especially.

An example of a magical moment is when two users hold their handsets together, tap the devices together, and initiate a multiplayer session in a game, similarly to the sharing capability in Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and newer handsets. “For regular people, this is the sort of stuff that creates magical experiences,” Meier says.

Meier provided some additional tips including not transmitting or storing contact details or location of users, supplying a privacy policy on Google Play and allowing users to delete stored data as well as not storing data that’s more than a few months old.

Meier continually drove the point home on designing a personalized app for everyone. To do that, a developer has to create context through tracking. A developer can implement tracking abilities in their apps such as location tracking, activity recognition (which can tell if a user is running, walking, cycling, etc.) and social tracking of a user’s Google+ profile. Utilizing a mobile device’s sensory abilities such as sight, sound, and touch, can create a rich sensory experience for the user that will feel magical.

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