I have been trying to work with Shoutem on creating a mobile app for my network using the ning api. I want to know....Ning, will the feeds being used for the (new) Mobile Web 2.0 Pages for web browsers users be available for use in the development for a mobile app.
The Mobile Web is awesome by the way. I love it. Unfortunately, most users prefer a mobile app to mobile web. They want notifications via the app and not email. It's hard to produce a mobile app that will be less functional than the mobile browser.
What's the deal? Has anybody gone through this process?
I also have doubts in which mobile strategy I will follow to define for the users of my network.
I agree on your statement that the mobile web is awesome but the users would prefer a mobile app. And the marketing around having a mobile app would be important at least in the market my network would is and in my country, therefore I'm still seeking for a mobile app.
The platform I'm trying to use is Mobile Conduit, I was already able to create an app and upload it to Google Play store at no cost. I liked the appearance of the Ning blog, photos and activities through their platform. But a problem is that I was able only to use RSS for the activities and photos, that means only the 10 latest inputs in my network and the user is not able to send an activity update or send a photo from the mobile. I believe I should create an API module so I would be able to have Ning's mobile web running on Mobile Conduit, but I'm not sure about it.
Also tested AppsGeyser, but is only for Android. It solves the problems I stated above but I need also an iOS app, I've seen they can create a custom app for iOS but I didn't ask for a quote.
Shoutem is another option but I didn't try yet, I believe there are costs only for testing.
Also seen this post in the forum of another platformTapatalk being tested with Ning, not sure if Ning developers area involved. Their free plan is for the app only in their store, to have in Google and Apple store is U$ 799...
Shoutem has an app that will allow you to test your app before committing, but there were some issues which is why my app is not live. The api does have some limitations. So, right now things are on hold. I have been dealing with some personal issues, so Shoutem was gracious enough to put the project on hold. Before, I start back dealing with it, I would love to hear Ning perspective on mobile app development. I really want the relationship to work with Shoutem because they develop for both Android and Apple.
Hey Alessandro! Conduit is still in beta, I believe. I also think there is a way around the limitations you mention. I'l let you know of I figure something out.
We are from Tapatalk and yes we are working on a Ning compatible app but the service model may be different from Tapatalk, we will be making it a separate product with different name and service model - we would love to hear your feedback of what works for you and what not.
But like the rest of the Ning app, it will be limited by the API Ning provide - E.g. we have a full on Forum module but never able to hook into Ning as Ning does not provide API to access forum.
That said, the Ning API is great as-is and a lot of things we can do on-top of it.
Do you prefer a very low cost model with a generic app like what we did for Tapatalk (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tapatalk-forum-app/id307880732?mt=8) or a branded app? Do you prefer a free service with your members paying few dollars for it?
Hi Winter, you will probably get many different answers and opinions to your question from the network creators using Ning, each with different profile of users and market. This is my opinion that may differ from many:
I believe that the mobile web on development by Ning (check this link) has the features that most NC's would need, but the unique problem is that is not a mobile application. If Tapatalk is able to encapsulate that mobile web interface into a mobile app for Android and iOS it would be enough for many NC's. I'm not a developer but it seems that could be simpler to encapsulate an existing web interface into a mobile app than to create an interface through an API and creating a mobile app. AppsGeyser, only for Android, has the method of adding a mobile web page to a mobile app module.
We can look into adding a web layer to the app but it may defeat the purpose of having a mobile app plus Apple would likely reject an app that is just a re-skin of a web page, that maybe one of the reason you don't see an iOS version of AppsGeyser.
We can, however, doing it cleverly by mixing the best of both mobile app API and the mobile web version from Ning and put together a package that majority of Ning Creators agree with.
I use Mobile by Conduit. They've been extremely helpful, gave me a discount and a free listing in the Android market.
Just to give you a broad perspective (although please do keep the conversation going as I am admittedly biased as a representative of Ning): One of the issues with creating (for example) an iPhone app for every network on Ning is that each iPhone app submitted to the Apple Store requires a $100/year developer fee for submission. So, there are costs inherent in making downloadable apps that may not be apparent and that are difficult to reconcile as an offering for all Ning customers across the board. Also, while the app model has been predominant in the past five years, it may not be the model in future years as more online services design mobile experiences directly for the Web using HTML5. Doing it that way is easier to do for multiple devices -- and much easier to support and update than separate downloadable apps for each different type of mobile device.
Of the folks who have made apps for Ning, I think that Shoutem has the best offering and takes advantage of as much of the Ning API that is available. I know that it may not provide every feature you want, but it could be worthwhile to use what they have and see how it's used and get feedback from members. It may be that members don't expect or want all of the features they see on your network on their phone, even though it may feel that way before jumping in.
All that said, I know that having a dedicated app in the Apple Store provides cachet and branding that is impressive and unique. So, I understand why you would want one. Hope to hear more great suggestions from other NCs.
The current Ning mobile web browser functions on a mobile app would be perfect for my nc. I think most other ncs would also agree. I don't think the expectation is for Ning to provide a mobile app product for NCs as part of its offerings. However, expansion of the ning api is the key that will allow nc owners to expand our branding as well as further legitimize our communities.
Although I have been working with ShoutEm, I had already acquired my own developer's licenses on Android (one time 25 fee), blackberry (free), and Apple (which is 100 bucks each year), to ensure that the app developed is registered to me. After exploring other options, I also agree that ShoutEm is the best option for my NC. The only problem is whether Ning will share already existing mobile web feeds for use on an mobile app.
I think Ning API is great and is empowering other developers to fulfill other features that Ning has yet to cover - I think the core of the issue is the Ning API is missing quite a few of important features such as Forum / Event etc - otherwise third-party developer would have already implemented a mobile app.
The Mobile Web is important as traffic from Google / Email / Facebook is where it will be landed - at the same time a larger community should come up a mobile app strategy to keep the retention rate at the very top as it is the royal users generating majority of the content.
In any case my 2 cents is certainly biased too as I am from Tapatalk team..
You are right that there are some details missing from the API that would be great to add. Wish I could definitively say that those will be added to the API soon, but I can't. I also agree that power users are super valuable and I have no doubt that they would prefer an app experience.
I know that mobile traffic is very important, although from looking at the actual numbers, it seems that mobile traffic can be overstated and is still a whole lot of potential; it's still not the dominant method of access by consumers in general. I know that if you look at it from the perspective of an Instagram app, it seems like everything is all about mobile and screams wake up dummy, it's the year of mobile! (Which is the cry I've heard every year for the past three or four years.) But if you look at actual traffic numbers from online sites/services, there's still a lot of room to grow. I know that our upcoming mobile improvements will mean a sure-fire increase in mobile traffic (we're already seeing good numbers on this), although it's hard to make the case based on the numbers I've seen that mobile is the complete game-changer that everyone says it is. We'll definitely be watching adoption and promoting it as much as we can. We want mobile to be huge; I'm just not sure that the in-app experience is the way we should support it. But, we do have partners that we wholeheartedly recommend for NCs who need that and can afford it as part of their business model (e.g., the excellent Shoutem).
Wishing you luck in building your app, and I hope we can answer any questions you have on our developer's network if you need it.