Category Archives: Mobile App Development

AR Application

How effective is Swift’s AR technology in developing immersive applications?

Introduction:

Since time immemorial, humans have been imaginative and have always envisioned new concepts, such as superheroes or aliens. However, the most recent obsession among innovators is immersive technology, i.e., integration of virtual content with the physical environment, with about 6.3 billion dollars in revenue generated in 2020. This is evident from the popularity of Nintendo’s Pokémon Go game and IKEA Place.

Escalated by the post-pandemic environment, rapid digitalization and increased reliance on smart devices have led businesses to look for ways to cater to people using immersive applications. Immersive applications improve processes by bringing digital elements for better visualization, increasing user experience that translates to profitability.

Immersive applications actualize distinct experiences by integrating the physical world with a simulated reality. These technologies allow humans to have new experiences by enhancing, extending, or creating a mixed reality.

Among the different types of immersive technology are Augmented Reality (AR), 360, Extended Reality (XR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR). The augmented and virtual reality market will surge into the market size of 160-billion-dollars by 2023, according to Statista’s forecast. Consumers’ attraction to immersive applications is visible by the increasing market size encouraging developers to offer relevant solutions.

Developers can create AR application for Apple products using various tools, frameworks, and languages including, but not limited to Xcode, ARKit, RealityKit, Swift, and AR creation tools.

This article involves understanding the efficacy of Swift in AR technology for developing immersive applications for business initiatives. Prior to that, it is crucial to comprehend AR and its effect on immersive applications.

Augmented Reality Apps and Its Applications

AR works by layering a digital layer on top of the real world and enhancing the user experience. The digital layer or augmentation consists of information or content consisting of videos, images, and 3D objects, providing a naturally semi-immersive and visual experience for user interaction.

AR has unlimited scope for innovation due to its non-restrictiveness of user vision, cost-effectiveness, and high engagement. Mobile AR users are expected to surge from 200 million in 2015 to 1.7 billion worldwide by 2024.

AR Application across industry verticals:

Apps use augmented reality to bring products to life by using 360-degree views either with headsets or through smartphone cameras.

  • Automotive Industry is using AR for designing, testing, and sale of vehicles saving much money and improving products simultaneously, e.g., Jaguar Land Rover, BMW Virtual Viewer, Hyundai AR Lens for Kona.
  • The real estate industry is being transformed by using AR technology and is bringing the advantage of viewing properties from people’s homes.
  • The tourism industry uses AR technology to provide users with amazing experiences of the various vacation locations, e.g., World Around Me, Viewranger, Smartify, AR City, Guideo, Buuuk.
  • AR provides simulation of work areas and models to help healthcare professionals familiarize themselves. This helps them to work on real patient bodies expertly.
  • Users can experience an immersive experience in retail and try things before making purchases using the plethora of AR apps for online shopping, including clothing, furniture, beauty products, and many more, e.g., Houzz, YouCam Makeup, GIPHY World, Augment.
  • AR also has wide applications in the education industry, bringing a new dimension to lessons and experiments, e.g., Mondly AR.
  • Educational, entertainment, and practical applications in real life, e.g., ARCube, AR-Watches, MeasureKit, Jigspace.
  • Many AR-powered navigation apps assist users by supplementing roadmaps with interactive features, e.g., google maps live view in iOS.
  • Gaming is one of the most popular applications of AR providing entertainment, e.g., Angry Birds AR.
  • AR has provided significant benefits in the defense sector too by offering AR-simulations of machines allowing safe and easy assimilation of information regarding the work environment and equipment.

Swift and AR Technology

Apple has introduced a comprehensive set of tools and technologies for creating amazing AR application as mentioned below:

Swift is an open-source general-purpose compiled programming language developed by Apple for its app development.

Xcode is an integrated development environment for iOS and Mac. It has all the tools needed to develop an application, including a compiler, a text editor, and a build system in one software package. Xcode uses the Swift programming language to deliver an assortment of AR templates to create AR application rapidly.

ARKit is a framework for developers that allow designing augmented reality apps for iOS devices, such as the iPad and iPhone. It helps to device AR experiences quickly using the camera, motion sensors, and processors of the iOS devices.

ARKit Features:

ARKit empowers the developers to construct AR features for apps regardless of their previous experience. It offers multiple features to benefit the users and developers alike.

  • Location Anchor: This allows the anchoring of AR creations to specific geographical locations and offers various angles for viewing.
  • Motion Capture: Intensifies AR experience using one camera to record the real-time motion.
  • Enhanced Face Tracking: Amplifies AR experience for users with a front-facing camera.
  • Scene Geometry: Prepares a topological map with labeled objects of any space.
  • People Occlusion: Enables realistic responses of AR creations in the presence of obstacles such as persons and green screen effects in all environments.
  • Depth API: Adds precision and occlusion to the AR object, increasing the user’s immersive experience.
  • Instant AR: This helps in immediate AR deployment in the real environment.
  • Simultaneous Camera Usage: Maximizes AR object performance and delivery by utilizing both the front and back camera for a new experience.

Apple’s AR Creation tools consist of a reality converter and reality composer. Reality Converter offers the display, customization, and conversion of 3D models to USDZ to integrate them effortlessly to Apple tools and AR-enabled devices. In addition, Reality Composer facilitates the construction, assessment, refinement, and simulation of AR experiences using an intuitive interface.

The creation tool offers the following advantages:

  • Powerful built-in AR library to create any virtual object or use USDZ files to continue working on a previous project.
  • Incorporates dynamism into the AR using animations and audio for adding little details like movement, vibrations, and more.
  • Record and play feature offers specific information capturing using camera and in-built sensors in predetermined locations.
  • Delivers smooth transition between all Apple platforms and devices.
  • Supports export to USDZ, including all components authored in Reality Composer.

Benefits of Swift for creating AR applications:

Xcode powered by Swift, plays a leading role in bringing AR to users with a short turnaround time. The following merits make Swift the favored choice by businesses.

1. Accelerated Development:

Swift has a low code requirement due to its simple syntax. In comparison to Objective-C, it is easier to read and write. With built-in concurrency support and reduced code size, there is faster coding, resulting in fewer problems and easy maintenance.

According to Apple Inc., a Swift application is up to 2.6 times faster than Objective-C and 8.4 times faster than Python. Swift’s LLVM, a compiler framework that enables speedier code processing, further optimizes this speed for better performance. All these qualities contribute to the faster development of AR applications.

2. Scalability:

The AR apps created with Swift are highly scalable, i.e., the apps can be updated with new features as and when needed without any worries resulting in future-proofing. The elementary readability and simple syntax combined with effortless onboarding for new developers to the team makes it a preferred choice.

3. Security:

Swift provides robust protection with its error control and typing system to avert code crashes. Hence, with a concise feedback loop, developers can promptly find and fix the code’s errors. This removes the risk of time and effort wastage due to bug fixing.

4. Interoperability with Objective-C:

With the excellent benefit of interoperability with Objective-C, Swift language provides the unique advantage of fluid cooperation for AR app extension or updates. Above all, more features are added quickly, and the risks associated with porting are prevented.

5. Memory Management:

With in-built memory management and tracking performed by Automatic Reference Counting (ARC), developers do not need to be bothered about conscious memory management. In other words, ARC also enhances the app’s performance and does not affect the CPU or memory.

Combined with Swift’s in-built dynamic libraries, it reduces the app size and memory footprint, eliminating the need to constantly oversee and retain every class count. For instance, Swift 5 introduced an Application Binary Interface that decreases the bundle size and increases version compatibility yielding a much more stable application.

6. Cross-device support:

Using Swift in both the backend and front-end of AR application development supercharges the development process by enabling extensive code sharing and reuse. This allows cross-device support across all Apple platforms, including iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch, and Apple TV and Linux platforms.

Final Thoughts:

Swift has tremendous potential to transform businesses by revolutionizing user lifestyles through engaging and riveting AR experiences. The above benefits highlight how Swift empowers the developers to create stable, secure, and high-performance AR application.

With the demonstrated success of various AR games, creative design solutions, and e-commerce apps, Swift is the first choice for any custom AR application development for Apple products.

Like other businesses, if you too are looking for custom AR Application development Mindfire Solutions can be your partner of choice. We have a team of highly skilled and certified software professionals, who have developed many custom solutions for our global clients over the years.

Here are a few interesting projects we have done. Click here to know more:

Case study on device for medical compliance.

Case study on e-commerce site for freight.

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VoIP Call Image

CallKit integration for VoIP Apps

Most of us by now are accustomed to using the services of a third-party provider to make VoIP calls over desktops, laptops, and smartphones. But making VoIP over Native iOS apps was never a convenient task. In fact, Apple has completely restricted the use of VoIP push for any kind of background processing from iOS-13. Earlier developers were using VoIP push for making call (audio/video) notifications or some other processing in the background. Apple took this decision to avoid the overbearing process that was happening in the background. It was not only leading to disproportionately high consumption of resources but also a significant drain of battery capacity.

A typical VoIP call usually comes as a notification on one’s screen, and in order to receive it, the user needs to slide the notification and also type a passcode to receive, if locked. Burdensome! Isn’t it? Especially if compared to how a native app eases the same experience.

The solution to this comes with CallKit, which is a framework that is capable of elevating your third-party VoIP app experience to a very intuitive one. You get the same rich, full-screen native call UI to accept and attend the calls. Once a call is accepted you also get a “Callback “option to initiate the same function (WebRTC) which you have used earlier. You can also set custom ringtones for your app that would be different from native call ringtones.

CallKit Integration for VoIP Apps

CallKit Integration for VoIP Apps

Besides, if you are on a call in your app and you start getting native calls, you will be able to hold and swap the calls. It could be an audio call, facetime call, or even another VoIP call. Even your call history will be stored in the call directory (missed, received, dialed calls, and add-in favorites). You can also make the call from Siri, Bluetooth, and access the “Do not disturb” functionality.

CallKit Integration for VoIP Apps - VoIP Architecture

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. To know more about our company, please click on Mindfire Solutions.  For over 20+ years now, we have been the preferred Software Development Partner of over 1000+ Small and Medium-sized enterprises across the globe.

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Swift 5 Vs ObjC

Is Swift the Objective Choice now?

‘Swift Vs Objective-C’– It is one of the first Google searches every iOS developer does before beginning their journey into the world of app development. At a broader level, choosing between Objective-C and Swift is also one of the fundamental and crucial decisions every business makes before beginning any iOS app development work.

So if the question is Swift or Objective-C? The answer cannot be in binary. If you have an existing application already written in Objective-C, then you can weigh the benefits of switching over to Swift vs sticking to Objective-C. However, if you are planning a new app, then Swift should be your default choice.

Why so? Well, read on to know…

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The Story so far

Apple launched a new programming language called Swift in WWDC in October 2014. It came as a surprise to every developer as it was intended to replace Objective-C as the main programming language on Apple’s platforms, which by all means was stable, proven and had been around for more than two decades, powering millions of apps.

The goal was far-sighted. Swift was designed to be safer, faster, and easier to maintain. Though initially built for Apple platforms, it was aimed to be able to support all platforms. Before becoming Open Source, Swift was designed ground up by Apple using decades of Objective-C experience adding a modern touch derived from the latest programming trends and good practices. It was designed to have all the goodness of a modern-day programming language. Though a descendant of Objective-C, it is fundamentally different in terms of design, syntax, programming style and memory management.

But replacing a decades’ long programming language with a new one cannot be an overnight affair. There were thousands of libraries and hundreds of frameworks already written and working with Objective-C, as they were supposed to. Rewriting them using an infant language did not seem logical. Thus, Objective-C runtime continues to access Apple platform frameworks like UIKit, WatchKit, and AppKit. And Swift has the capability to interface seamlessly and work on top of it.

From the very beginning, Swift is fully compatible with Objective-C, as it should be. Both languages can still co-exist on all Apple platforms. And Apple isn’t likely to change this in the foreseeable future unless it has any strong reason to do that.

Support for interactive programming using Playground enables developers to test their idea live without building and running applications.

In terms of programming capabilities and flexibility, Swift has a lot to offer. Its functional programming style, and strongly typed language makes it impossible to have run time crashes resulting from out-of-bound or type-related issues. It has features like closures, tuples, generics, Structs and enums supporting methods, extensions and protocols, computed properties, powerful extensions, and the list just goes on…

Design-wise factors such as safety, readability, code size, less error-prone, efficient and fast iteration over collections, and other platform support make Swift fundamentally better than Objective-C.

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Why Objective-C then?

Despite being so much powerful, Swift lacked just one thing that triggered Swift vs Objective-C debate, and that is ‘Maturity’. In the earlier years, deciding between Swift and Objective-C was like choosing between a fledgling with a lot of promise and a veteran with proven credentials.

Those who had rushed to develop production apps using Swift version 1 & 2, had to refactor the whole codebase, or just rewrite it again. It wasn’t matured, evolving rapidly, and syntaxes were completely changing in the early iterations. Hence, it was difficult to maintain Swift Apps compared to Objective-C, which was matured, trusted and possessed a huge developer base.

However, after Swift3, syntaxes became relatively stable and some minor refactoring that was needed was taken care of by the Xcode itself. And then Swift4 seemed to be more stable in terms of design and syntaxes, but, it still lacked ABI stability. Then came Swift 5.

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What makes Swift 5 different?

So far, every version of Swift has been better than earlier. But what makes Swift5 so special is ABI stability.

Starting with version 4.2, Swift codes from one version have been compatible with another. However, the application binary, which can be considered as the machine level code for the sake of this argument, wasn’t compatible with that from a different version of Swift. That is, Swift wasn’t ABI stable until recently before version 5 was launched.

With Swift now being ABI stable for all Apple platforms like iOS, WatchOS, macOS and tvOS, all future versions of Swift including Swift5 will be compatible with each other at the binary level. True that Swift will continue to evolve in future releases, but the application written in the current version of Swift will no longer need to be refactored or rewritten to be able to support future versions of OS. In fact, libraries written now will seamlessly coexist and communicate at the binary level with code written in future versions of Swift and vice versa. And the reduction in app size is the immediate benefit it provides to the users now.

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Conclusion

True Objective-C is here to stay. There are millions of applications already running using this. But, it isn’t getting any major updates, most of the updates are just to make it compatible with Swift. As a language, Swift is way superior. And above all, developers with expertise in Objective-C and practicing it will dwindle in years to come.

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If you have any queries in this field, talk to Mindfire Solutions. For over 20+ years now, we have been the preferred Software Development Partner of over 1000+ Small and Medium-sized enterprises across the globe.

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Face ID vs Touch ID

Face ID vs Touch ID

In 2013, Apple introduced iPhone 5S with a new finger print recognition system –Touch ID. Apple subsequently made Touch ID available on iPad Air 2 in 2015. Hence, all iPhone launched model since 2013 and all iPad models launched since 2015 feature Touch ID. Touch ID is designed to scan, read, and recognize fingerprint through a fingerprint sensor embedded into the Home button. While using his iPhone or iPad, a user can take advantage of Touch ID to unlock his device, authenticate Apple Pay payments, and purchase digital content simply by touching the home button. Continue reading Face ID vs Touch ID

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New Features and Enhancements in iOS 11.1

New Features and Enhancements in iOS 11.1
New Features and Enhancements in iOS 11.1

Apple unveiled iOS 11 at its Worldwide Developer Conference 2017. It subsequently rolled out iOS 11 officially in September for iOS, iPad, and iPod Touch. In addition to providing a number of new features and enhancements, the 11th edition of iOS also facilitates multitasking. It even comes with an upgraded Siri with the capability to translate the same sentences into multiple languages without any error. At the same time, the version 11 of Apple’s mobile operating system also brings augmented reality (AR) to iPhone and iPad through a new framework called ARKit. Apple subsequently rolled out several beta versions of iOS 11.1 for testing and evaluation. The company recently rolled iOS 11.1 as a major iOS 11 update. The version 11.1 of iOS comes with several new features, enhancements and bug fixes, along with 70 new emojis.

Overview of New Features and Enhancements in iOS 11.1

Improved Photos

The version 11.1 of iOS resolves some of the problems related to photo apps caused by iOS 11. It resolves the issues that made certain photos appear blurred and slowed down playback effect of Live Photo. Likewise, iOS 11.1 also resolves the issues that impact performance when a user swipes screen shots. It even comes with fixes for an issue that prevented the photos display as part of People album while being restored from the iCloud Backup.

Refined Accessibility Features

IOS 11 comes with several enhancements to improve accessibility of Apple devices. It even provides a number of new Accessibility functions including improved Braille support, improved VoiceOver rotor actions for announcing incoming notifications, and improved VoiceOver access to multi-page PDFs. Many users are expected to install iOS 11.1 to improve accessibility of their iPhones and iPads.

Enhanced Battery Life

Many Apple device users experienced battery problem after upgrading to iOS 11. The version 11.1 of the mobile operating system addresses and resolves the battery problem. It comes with enhancements to fix the battery problem caused by iOS 11. Hence, a user can easily extend the battery life of his device by upgrading to the major iOS 11 update.

Fixes for Key Reinstallation Attack (KRACK)

IOS 11.1 comes with fixes for a Wi-Fi vulnerability called Key Reinstallation Attack (CRACK). KRACK affects the security of iOS devices by cracking the widely used Wi-Fi standard –WPA2. WPA2 is used by most device manufacturers to protect Wi-Fi passwords. The updated version of iOS 11 comes with fixes for KRACK. Hence, users can easily enhance the security of their iPhones and iPads by installing iOS 11.1.

Restored 3D Touch App Switcher

After installing iOS 11 on their 3D touch equipped devices, users noticed the absence of 3D Touch App Switcher gesture. Apple intentionally removed the gesture during beta testing of iOS 11. It even released iOS 11 without implementing the 3D Touch App Switcher gesture. But Apple has restored 3D Touch App Switcher gesture with iOS 11.1. A user can avail the gesture on his 3D touch equipped device after installing iOS 11.1.

Changed Reachability Behavior

While using iOS 11, users lack the option to access Cover Sheet or Notification Center after enabling Reachability. IOS 11.1 allows users to access Cover Sheet even when Reachability is enabled. A user can access the Cover Sheet simply by swiping down from the top half of the screen. The Plus model users are expected to upgrade to iOS 11.1 to take advantage of the restored Cover Sheet access option.

Over 70 New Emoji Characters

Most mobile device users nowadays look for new and appealing emoji characters. IOS 11.1 enables users to avail over 70 new emoji characters. The new Apple emoji characters provided by the updated version of 11 includes expressive smiley faces, gender-neutral characters, mythical creatures, animals, food items and clothing options. The largest batch of emoji icons provided by iOS 11.1 will definitely appeal young users.

Multiple Emoji Suggestions

In addition to providing over 70 new emojis, iOS 11.1 further allows users to avail multiple emoji suggestions while using the QuickType keyboard in the Messages app. The updated QuickType keyboard displays and suggests multiple emoji characters at its end. Hence, it becomes easier for the user to pick and send the most relevant emoji characters almost instantaneously.

Several Bug Fixes

In addition to the new features and enhancements, iOS 11.1 also comes with a number of bug fixes. It comes with fixes for issues that caused cleared Mail notifications to reappear on Lock screen, affected movement of data between managed apps in an enterprise environment, and prevented the VoiceOver rotor to perform precisely. At the same time, iOS 11.1 also comes with a number of bug fixes related to Apple Watch app notifications.

Apple enables users to install and update iOS 11.1 by sending automatic notifications. A user even has option to upgrade to iOS 11.1 manually. But the size of the iOS 11 update differs from one device to another. Also, Apple has already started testing iOS 11.2. It has made first beta of iOS 11.2 available to select iOS app developers for testing and evaluation. Hence, there are chances that many users may update to iOS 11.2 directly instead of installing iOS 11.1.

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Gearing up for an “App”y Shopping

On Monday when I tried to open Myntra website on my laptop, I was in for a big surprise. In bold letters it said,

DOWNLOAD THE MYNTRA APP NOW
Your choice. Your taste. Your style.
All on your most personal device.

Obviously, I hadn’t followed up on the news and was oblivious to the fact that Myntra had shut down its website on 15th May 2015 and became an App only platform. It is rumored that Flipkart the parent company of Myntra would also follow suit in almost a year. Buoyed by the fact that almost 95% of the traffic at Myntra takes the mobile route and mobile commerce contributes to 70% of their sales, Myntra is all set for the metamorphosis. Recent proliferation of smartphones and tablets (especially in tier II and III cities) and greater access to the internet via broadband, 3G, 4G etc helped build the foundation of an ever growing online consumer base in India.
According to a recent Morgan Stanley report, eCommerce penetration in India is set to grow from 9% in 2013 to 36% by 2020 and most of it being contributed by mobile users. Indeed, I remember, one of my friends was busy adding items to the shopping on a popular eCommerce site on his iPhone coz he would get X% discount more for shopping via the mobile app. Agreed, most of us are deal hunters and we swim with the current but who wouldn’t like a bit of a personalization. With eCommerce companies with a serious eCommerce mobile strategy, encouraging customers to download and use the mobile app, it certainly means that app only culture is in the offing. Only Myntra is the first eCommerce company in the world to implement this bold step.
Needless to say, shopping is a personal experience and Myntra is trying to cash in on this. However, personalizing this experience to a level that it is only available on your personal device could actually make or mar the profits of the company. Not all users are of the same composition. While some would feel irritated of the constant notifications indicated by a beeping handheld device, there would be others who would feel neglected with very few notifications. It all depends upon Myntra now to hold and keep its customers on its mobile because we all know that an app can be deleted with greater ease than what was required to download it. Also, there is a fine line that separates engagement from intrusion.
I have shopped on Myntra a good number of times in the past and I was happy with the experience. I may even download the app for now. But whether I will shop only from Myntra is a matter of “choice”. This is because I cannot change my shopping habit. I love to browse through various eCommerce sites when I look forward to buy something, compare prices, add items to the cart and depending upon the urgency, proceed to check out which could be from a handheld device in case I did not complete the action on my desktop.
What would be the repercussions of app only platform for eCommerce application developers. Well more work possibly; demand for flawless work undoubtedly, greater attention to incorporate better UI/UX into the app definitely and increasingly better career opportunities for mobile app developers. In fact if this step leads to success, Myntra will have a first mover advantage for sure but there will be many other eCommerce sites and boutique online shops that will follow suit with varying degrees of success.
I keep my fingers crossed. At this point of time I am left to wonder how relevant that small icon on my mobile phone would be in the times to come. Only time will tell…

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