iPhone and iPad users are being warned that some apps may experience issues because Apple only gave us (app developers) just one day’s notice of the release of the next itteration of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 14. Thanks yet again for the advanced notice Tim!

Chief executive Tim Cook revealed on Tuesday 14th Sep that iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 would launch on Wednesday 15th Sep. Last year, Apple announced the release date more than a week in advance which in our opinion is still not long enough!

We do not have enough time to check for bugs and submit the latest version of our apps to the Apple App Store and we’re not alone! Much larger companies such as Nintendo have also felt the pain, they have warned gamers that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will not launch after the update.

Nintendo have advised players to delay installing the new operating systems until later this month and we would like to follow suit and advise our customers and their users to do the same.

We’re really starting to dislike Apple now!

Aside from being hit with this out of nowhere and given no time to resubmit our apps, us and many in the community have already voiced concerns over the 30% cut the firm takes from sales and its sometimes closed and unhelpful review process. The issue even overshadowed Apple’s WWDC conference earlier in the year, when it became involved in a high-profile public row with the creators of a new email app called Hey.

More recently, a clash with the games developer Epic has led to Apple device owners being unable to get the latest version of Fortnite or install the game at all from scratch. Apple’s restrictions on third-party games platforms have also been criticised by Microsoft, and led to iPhone and iPad users being unable to play Xbox games on the devices, despite them being made available to Android.

iOS 14’s new features… new or just following Android?

iOS 14 has had a significant overhaul to Apple’s user interface.Widgets can be added to home screens to display the weather, time, stock prices or other information at a glance, and the selection can be set to change according to the time of day (sounds like Android OS to us?)

Apps can be automatically arranged into themed folders to make it easier for users to find their favourite services. And videos and Facetime calls can be made to appear in a small box that floats above the app in use, rather than taking up the full screen which will actually be quite useful.

In addition, there is also apparently:

  • a new Translation app
  • new cycling directions in Maps
  • new ways to customise the cartoon-like Memoji owners can use as avatars

iPad owners also gain new features for the Apple Pen, including the automatic conversion of handwriting into text and shape recognition.

There are also a bunch of security and platform updates for us to work our way through! We’re happy the new version iOS is out and that is got some great features but next time Apple, give us a bit more notice (oh, and reduce the 30% AppStore cut, thanks!)

1. Text Highlights and Underlines

There’s always been an unwritten rule in website design that text uses more plain styles. Bold is acceptable, italics are OK from time to time, but underlining is seldom used. This design trend bucks that concept with text elements that use highlighter or underline elements to emphasize key words. And it works rather nicely.

What it takes to make this work is plenty of contrast and a design style that fits with underline or highlighted elements.

This design trend works thanks to clear intention. The words are obviously important to the overall meaning of the design or what visitors should take away from the content.

2. Distinct Geometry

Geometric shapes in website design have popped up as trending elements in a variety of forms. This iteration is pretty simple: Use of distinct geometry as part of the overall aesthetic.

Geometry might pair with illustrations, photos, text, or in the background or foreground. What’s great about shapes is that they are versatile and work with a lot of other design patterns.

What can be the most challenging about shapes and design is that distinct geometry requires some space and thought. Just tossing a few triangles or rectangles in a design without reason can look rather strange.

3. Shadow and Gradient Icons

Did you notice all the gradients and subtle shadows in icons in the images previewing iOS 14 or were you just looking at other changes (such as widgets) on the iPhone screen? We’ve been seeing more designers incorporating more shadows and depth into icons for a while, but this move by a major player in design will push it to the forefront fast. Each of the icons moves from a flat style to one with a background gradient color as well as more shadows within icon elements for depth.

Don’t worry, the design still looks very much like Apple, but is a little more reminiscent of the skeuomorphism style icons from earlier versions of iOS.

It’s nice that the color and shadow elements are contained within each icon. This creates more visual interest and depth for each element without getting cluttered or junky. The gradients are also super simple, using a darker version of the main color in a monotone element.

It’s time for the May 2020 Android security patch! If you own a Google Pixel smartphone (any except for the original Pixel), you can perform a software update check now in System Settings to grab the new patch. Conversely, you can update manually or simply wait for the OTA notification.

Latest Google Pixel 4

According to the bulletin associated with the May 2020 Android security patch, there’s not much else going on here for Pixel phones. Usually, Google will include some new tweaks or features with its updates, but this time it looks to be just the security patch and the usual bug fixes.

With Google now doing so-called “feature drops”, the monthly Pixel updates end up being a little less exciting. Still, being up-to-date on security is always good, so don’t pass up the May 2020 Android security patch.

What is two-factor authentication? 

Breaking it down to the most simple explanation, it’s basically adding a second layer of protection to your account, app or system to go alongside your regular method of logging in. In most instances, this involves receiving a code by SMS to your mobile number, but increasingly apps and services are sending a confirmation number to your device as a notification instead. Sometimes you can just tap the notification to approve the login. More commonly though, emails are sent containing the 6 digit code which you then use alongside your normal username/email and password.

How does two-factor authentication make your account more secure? 

The idea is that you’re adding a confirmatory step to your sign in attempt. Using the SMS example, it means no one can log into the account in question from a new device, even if they have your password. When using two-factor authentication via email, again it requires access to the email account associated with the platform you’re attempting to log in to.

When someone tries to log into your account from a new device, or even new browser, with your password, when they hit “enter” or “submit”, it’ll take them to a new screen asking for a code. This code has been sent to the registered mobile number as an SMS, a notifications via an app or to your email account. 

Some apps that use notifications also send you a code. But increasingly, apps are just sending a notification to your key devices so you can just confirm it was you signing in (in ther words, there’s no code)

Does two-step authentication always need a mobile number? 

As an example, WhatsApp can’t use your mobile number as its second verification method, because that’s the primary method for logging in. So instead, it asks you for a six-digit PIN number every so often, or when you log in from a new smartphone. 

While Apple does use SMS verification for iCloud account security, it also uses its “Trusted Devices” method. Using this method, it sends a four-digit code directly to a trusted and verified device, which then pops up in a little window on the screen once you unlock your iPhone or iPad. 

Where SMS isn’t used there’s often the option of getting a two-factor authentication code from a dedicated app like Google Authenticator. These sorts of apps simply offer access to a time-sensitive code that changes after a given period of time and so is constantly secure but gives you quick and easy access to your account. 

What if I’ve lost my phone? 

Most services – as mentioned – offer more than just the phone number SMS method for logging in. Nearly all of them will offer you the ability to generate backup codes or, like Apple, give you a recovery key that’s a really long chain of letters and numbers which you can input instead of using your password and SMS code.

Be sure to set up a recovery key, and store it somewhere safe like in a password-protected document and/or secure password app. 

Is it worth it? 

Yes. Absolutely. Once it’s set up it only adds one extra step to logging into your account from a new device or browser.

It’s always worth doing and failing to do so can often lead you open to privacy nightmares. An revealed just how dangerous this can be. There have been several reports of incidents where owners of smart home cameras have had their devices hacked and been spied upon by criminals simply because they failed to use a secure password and activate two-factor authentication.

On the off-chance that someone has got your password, and tries to get into your account, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that they can’t get in without also having your phone (or access to your email account) which – even if they have – is likely locked and protected behind a password, pattern or fingerprint scan. 

To add further privacy, there are settings within Android and iOS to ensure that you can stop SMS notifications from showing up on a lock screen. Just head to Settings > Notifications and select which apps you want to have display information on the lock screen, or choose to hide sensitive information (on Android).

More information can be found on PocketLint

Our old (and trusty) website was turned off today after serving us for almost 8 years (we know right!). It’s been long overdue an overhaul but with client commitments and new projects we’ve just not managed to find the time to really work on our own projects.

Today, we are pleased to unveil our new, fully responsive desktop and mobile website, designed and developed by us (with a little help from WordPress!), that highlights a new direction for Pipe & Piper Ltd. With our new logo and branding, we feel this better depicts the type of work we do and the people we work with.

Although it’s still not perfect and there’s a ton more tweaking and content to add we felt it just couldn’t wait any longer! We hope you like what you see!

Harnessing technology to improve sustainability is increasingly becoming a top priority for businesses across all industries. A recent PwC study revealed that by using AI systems across their operations, global agriculture, transport, energy and water sectors could contribute to a 4% reduction of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

One industry that is emerging at the forefront of sustainability is the data centre industry. While driving energy efficiencies delivers benefits back to the business, it also has a positive impact on clients and of course, our environment. Any good data centre business knows that taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of their facility is essential, but how are the best ones already responding to this challenge?

You can read CloudTech’s full article on this here

Working closely with the NHS Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, our mobile applications and cloud statistical systems are enabling better training and feedback for doctors and patients.

We have recently been tasked with designing and developing a cross-platform mobile application for use on smartphones and tablets that will enable doctors, nurses, surgeons, practitioners, GP’s and other administrative staff to quickly and accurately log all activity undertaken. Additionally the software will also be the basis for feedback and reporting during training sessions within STH for students training for their specialities.

The applications will also allow doctors to anomalously take patients email in order to forward on feedback surveys so the STH as a whole can obtain a full breakdown of how their medical staff are performing through the eyes of their patients.

Ultimately, the overall aim for the project over the coming years is to help the NHS understand what areas need improvement in order to provide a better and more efficient service for trainee doctors and patients alike.

Our work with the Xcite Education team on a project entitled Zapp2Learn has earned its right for a 5* certification award from the Education App Store.

Zapp2Learn is a project that was developed by us here at Pipe & Piper and Xcite Education that teaches phonics by guiding children through an easy to use app. It uses images and speech related to all phonics taught in the UK’s national curriculum for key stage 1.

The app utilises QR codes and provides and exciting platform of interaction for children of all ages. It teaches phonics in a fun new way, bringing the mobile app and traditional paper-based learning together for the first time in education. Zapp2Learn teaches phonics by guiding the child through an easy to use app, which has images and speech related to all phonics taught in the UK’s national curriculum for key stage 1. The child interacts with the app in a fun new way, by scanning printed documents called Zapp Sheets, creating a fun, unique experience for the child.

The Zapp2Learn project is still in its early stages but Josh Thompson at the Education App Store has high hopes;

“Who ever said “print is dead”?! Zapp2Learn app has revived the printed medium through the clever use of QR codes. Learners are required to scan the correct letters’ QR code to fill in the gap and correctly spell the word represented in the accompanying image. While this doesn’t sound like an exciting concept – trust me it is!”

“Although the QR code features make this a distinctive phonics app due to its increase in learn engagement, the real value within this software comes from its progress reporting features. Teachers and parents can log into the website to view each individual users reports, an outstanding feature for teachers to track their individual students progression and where their students may need additional support (reports can be viewed online or downloaded in the form of excel spreadsheet enabling teachers to document work undertaken).”

“Although the admin section found within the Zapp2Learn website leaves a little to be desired from an experience perspective, it is a great feature for one main admin to be able to login and see how everyone is using the app specifically when it comes to setting work outside the classroom. “The dog ate my homework” will become an excuse of the past. The app does have a few kinks that need ironing out, but the value and level of engagement this app provides is second to none.”

We will continue to work with the Xcite Education team to improve the Zapp2Learn app further and hope that it really does help shape the future of learning.

As mobile apps become more and more popular it’s important that your chose the right platforms for your markets. If your customers are in the app marketplace then iPhone or Android based systems will be your best bet. Alternatively working within the public sector means that Blackberry should be your desired platform.

What are app markets?

Here at Pipe & Piper we always like to inform our clients of the latest trends and mobile information. This week we’ve put together the UK mobile market share to give you an insight into how popular the varying platforms have become. This latest information was sourced this month by the leading global internet technology and market share statistics firm; www.netmarketshare.com

57.6% – Apple iPhone iOS
37.2% – Google Android
2.3% – Windows Phone
2.1% – Blackberry
0.6% – Amazon Kindle
0.2% – Other

What does this mean?

As you can see the results make for an intriguing read! Apple’s iPhone hold over 50% of the entire market in the UK with Google’s Android platform coming in a close second. Both combined they hold almost 95% of the entire market!

Blackberry and Microsoft’s Windows Phone have less than 5% of the entire market which is quite astounding. You may have though that the figures would reflect different results before reading this article. You may even believe that this can’t possibly be right, especially if you have friends and family that use Blackberry and Windows Phones but the truth is the market place is dominated by Apple’s iPhone and iPad platform; iOS with Google’s smartphone and tablet OS; Android coming in a close second.

However, this isn’t bad news for you! Designing mobile apps for iPhone development and indeed Android is the cheapest and most cost effective due to their popularity.

App developers in Sheffield…

As iPhone and Android developers in Sheffield South Yorkshire, we are constantly being asked to build mobile apps for the smaller market share. People generally like to be all inclusive but don’t always perhaps appreciate the costs involved when doing so. We always like to be up-front with our clients and so always suggest that they design the app and develop it for the popular markets first. If this proves to be really successful and they have a high demand for the likes of Blackberry or Windows Phone then we can look at designing for these platforms at that point.

You may think it’s more cost effective to do everything at once, you may even have the budget to so but we think you’d be much better spending this additional budget on marketing your iOS and Android apps. Why? Well due to the complex nature in which Blackberry and Windows aps are created nothing is particularly transferrable between projects so it actually makes no difference when they put together. However, good marketing that supports your app in the marketplace will give you huge benefits, ones that can see your app fly to the top of the ‘most downloaded’!

So if you’ve got a mobile app then visit our apps page to find out more, you’ll be surprised how cost effective they can be. Or if you just want to chat about your ideas, call us and one of our team would be more than happy to help.

There has already been a tectonic shift in the way we view content on the web. The mobile web isn’t the future it’s the present and for any business to ignore the demand that’s clearly there is simply madness.

If you owned a shop, you wouldn’t turn away people in blue t-shirts, would you? So why if your business relies on traffic from your site would you not cater for mobile devices as well? 33% of us Britain’s use our mobile phone to access the internet everyday! Don’t stick your head in the sand!

Don't stick your head in the sand with mobile websites

Smartphone Snowballing

Where ever we walk we nowadays we have access to the internet on our phones through 3G or WiFi, the technology inside these smartphones is advancing constantly and allows to now carry around a mini super computer in our pocket.

Did you know that 43.5% of all Americans access the internet through their mobile phone and that 25% of these people use the internet daily. Fascinatingly the people of India are using mobile phones (60%) more than the traditional desktop computer (40%).

In the not too distant future smartphones and Tablets will be the device of choice for people in the UK. This is why you need to think about getting your business to cater for mobile and tablet devices now!

Desktop Demand Declining

In 8 years the shipment of PCs worldwide has declined by 75%, during this time mobile devices have seen huge increases. The total of mobile devices now surpasses the PC shipments by 200,000 million units per year. These figures help demonstrate that the internet is only going to go one way, “mobile“. It’s estimated that in 2015 the desktop computer will only take up 18% of computer sales.

Impact on Search Engines

If you have a “Responsive Website” (a website that has specific layouts for different devices) most search engines (eg: Google) will reward you in the search results page. Google now serves a different set of results depending on the device your using, so it’s important to make sure your website is not being overlooked.

User Interface Benefits

As well as having a positive impact on search engines results, responsive web design can also help users navigate on large websites with a more user-friendly interface. Thus allowing them navigate through the content of a website faster and easier. A great example is websites that have huge blocks of text, these blocks can be hidden away under sub headings to improve readability. There are many case studies; most notably the Amazon one, that show that after introducing support for mobile devices, that they have a dramatically increased their sales figures.

smartphone

Mobile App Explosion

The demand for mobile apps is also constantly increasing. It’s estimated that global revenue from mobile apps will exceed £16 billion this year, which is a 63% increase from last year. The idea that your business could own an app and then this app will sit inside the pocket of it’s users and acts as a constant marketing reminder, this potential is absolutely priceless! The idea of apps is mainly to give more power to the user. By empowering them they can generate and interactive with dynamic content more easily than ever before, with just one touch of a button, you can now send a tweet out to thousands of people across the world.

For an app to be successful, it’s need to both hook and compel the user. The longevity of an app is determined by how often the user will want to use it. It’s imperative to place a post launch strategy in order to keep your app popular.

To reach one million users it took…

  • AOL – 9 Years – [visit]
  • Facebook – 9 Months [visit]
  • Draw Something – 9 Days [visit]

Mobile App Infographic

Earn Extra Income from Mobile Apps

Apps are a great way to earn extra revenue for your business. If you have an innovative idea that could be harnessed through technology, an app is an ideal starting point. If you get your app idea developed you need to start getting people to download it. A great way to get noticed is to give your app the most polished look possible as users are more likely to consider a professional looking app more enticing. New apps can also sometimes become featured for the day that there released, so this another good reason to make sure your app is ready when you do release it!

Get your app developed

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