Your Status Has Changed

Little things, like a change in status, can make all the difference. Take, for instance, this innocuous little email that popped into my Gmail inbox today:

Oh, goody! Will keep you posted …

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Hot Damn! My Own iPhone App!

By George, I think I have finally done it! After splitting time between my Windows and Mac machines and iPhone, I finally got an Ad Hoc version of my very own, personal, AdvantageAdvocates iPhone app working like a charm! The app, created with the web tool AppMakr (link here) and aptly called Advocate, brings together all of my content streams in one nicely-designed package. If you enjoy Studio tech posts, Advocate tech article shares, my tech tweets and mobile app reviews, then this App’s for you! And it’s going to cost my favorite number: free.

I went through this process in order to complete the exercise of completing an app design, rather than to make a developer name for myself. When I ran into snags (and there were a few), I used AppMakr’s support forums and kept them apprised of glitches. To their credit, they responded beautifully, fixing issues and clearing the way for Luddites such as myself to finish the product.

Wanna see some screen shots? Here is the icon on the page:

Here is the splash screen:

Here is The Studio blog feed:

If you click on a link in that view, this is what you will see:

The little arrow above the image is the actual audio link to the NPR broadcast, preserved from my blog post! Click and the audio plays! (can you tell I am all excited?)

This is my Studio Tweets screen:

There are sharing links from each individual entry in all screens. This is the sharing link from a Tweet:

Studio Web includes my shares from Google Reader. I have a huge Reader library and like to share the great stuff I find in there. It is always articles with a legal, tech and/or professional bent. It’s like having your own personal tech / pro research assistant reading and pulling the cool stuff so you don’t have to.

An individual share entry looks like this:

The Studio apps button has all of my mobile app reviews from MobileAppOfTheDay. Here is the individual app entry for today (you would scroll down on the app screen to get all of the images and review):

It works flawlessly and really looks pretty darn great. I used my own artwork for the header image, icon image and splash screen, but AppMakr allows you to browse the Web or your own hard drive for images to use, with helpful tips on how to size them properly.

No one can say that creating an app for a mobile device is a quick and simple process. But I have to say that it can’t be that bad – if I can do it, anyone can do it with a little tenacity. AppMakr certainly makes the job a whole lot easier.

Stay tuned to the Studio for information on when the App goes live in the App Store. Next stop: Android App Creator!

THIS Close – To My Own iPhone App (AppMakr)

Yes, you heard that right. My own iPhone app. I have chatted about AppMakr here in the Studio before (link here). I even threatened to make an app myself, but I didn’t do it at that time. But I really did think about it.

Yesterday, I read that Appmakr (link here) was offering basic iPhone app creation for free. Well, since that is my favorite number, I thought it was as good a time (if not better) than any to actually put my money (exactly 0) where my mouth was and, like Nike,  just do it.

The site and the process are simple and easy to navigate. You are greeted on the Home screen with the factoid that Appmakr has helped publish 1.2 million + downloads, from tiny players to great big names in publishing and blogging. Without even so much as giving Appmakr an email address, it will start the process of app creation with the simple entry of a URL or keyword. To edit and fine-tune the app, you will need to create a free account with an email address and password.

Once you do, you can access your Dashboard. This is where you create and edit your app and view build history and publishing status. The interface is very nicely laid out and simple to follow.

From here, you tweak your feeds and add your artwork, either from the Web, your hard drive, or via search.  

AppMakr lets you add multiple feeds – the feeds and related icons show in a list. Each feed gets its own tab and icon and you can pull feeds from search or add your own RSS / Atom feed. Appmakr also supports iTunes, podcasts, Blogger, Twitter, and YouTube feeds. Once you build in your feeds, you can customize the app with your own header image and text colors using an RGB editor and / or hex numbers.

A very VERY cool feature of the dashboard is the App Simulator. It’s the giant iPhone to the right in the image above. As you make changes in the dashboard, the App Simulator updates in real time. As you enter feeds, your content is pulled and immediately shown in the iPhone’s screen as if it were an actual, working app. This allows you to test the validity of your feeds and make sure that your app looks right before publishing.

You can even monetize from within the dashboard. Charge for your app in the iTunes App Store, place ads from providers like Google, DoubleClick and AdMob, or put your own custom javascript ad tag in. Select an option or skip this step entirely.

Sitting in my dashboard right now is a shiny, spanking new AdvantageAdvocates iPhone app, with custom artwork, feeds and images. It took me about 20 minutes to complete.

Sounds simple, right? It really is and there is no catch. Well, almost no catch. The testing and publishing step is where I got hung up. You see, Appmakr is in fact free if you wish to test and publish your own app under your own Apple Developers’ certificate. Huh, what’s that? I’m not a developer, you say. The certificate is a necessary credential if you wish to be able to submit an app to Apple for publication in the App Store. If you don’t have an Apple Developer’s certificate, there is always the $999 option of having Appmakr handle all testing and publishing under Appmakr’s own brand name.

Are you thinking bait and switch? Well, not really. You see, if you own an a Mac computer, you already have a Developers’ Certificate, – it’s built right into your Mac’s OS. There is a fairly complicated process outlined in an instructional video showing the steps you need to take to get your Certificate, a Private Key and Distribution Provisioning profiles, all of which are necessary for self-publishing your application. So yes, in fact, if you own a Mac, you can create, test and publish your app to the App store for free. Of course, if you get hung up in the fairly complicated process, you can get a walk-through over the phone with an Appmakr rep for $250.

For the rest of us shmo’s on Windows or other operating systems, AppMakr offers to go through an even more complicated process of getting a Developer’s certificate for you for the price of $250. You can also get general, phone-based support at any point during the development process for $120 per hour.

I am starting to see where AppMakr makes its money.

I am also started to think even more seriously about getting a Mac.

So, long and short. If you own a Mac, then by all means get thee to AppMakr and create an iPhone application for free that includes all your favorite content (self published or generally available on the Web) in a very slick package. If you don’t, then AppMakr might still be a decent bargain if you adopt the do-it-yourself attitude and spend $250 for your Apple Developer’s certificate. Get thee quickly, though, because the “free” part is apparently for a limited time only.

And, if you see an AdvantageAdvocates iPhone app in the App Store’s New or Featured Releases, then you know that I bit the bullet and sprang for that Mac I have been trying to justify for years. My app is all ready to go.