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Aggregator apps: friend or foe?

Android

Aggregator apps are changing the way news is discovered, consumed and packaged. The popularity of aggregator apps vary largely from country to country. Around a quarter of the apps currently in the top free news category on both Googles US Playstore and Apples US AppStore are aggregator apps.

More and more publishers have begun to understand the need to have a presence wherever their readers or potential readers are consuming content. Some have chosen to work together with aggregator apps like Flipboard, Smartnews and Yahoo news digest so as to capitalize on this relatively new distribution channel.

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6 deep link tactics to drive traffic to your mobile apps

Android

Many publishers have developed mobile apps that deliver a better user experience than their mobile websites. Getting people to use your app instead of your mobile website can increase user engagement with your publication. Using different deep linking techniques to link to content within your app is one way of increasing traffic to your mobile apps and establishing app reading habits with your users.

In an ideal world there should be no difference between an ‘app link’ and a ‘web link’, links should simply work no matter what device or platform you are using. The device should know whether to open the link in an app or in a website depending on the users preference. It should be possible to link from one app to another app or from a website to an app without knowing if the user has the app installed. There is currently no standardised way to do this but there are a number of ways this can be implemented.

Google, Facebook and Apple are among the many companies that have developed initiatives to improve deep linking and tackle some of these challenges. Here are some of the others mobile.deep.linking, SPARQ, AppURL, mURL.cc, appsfire, URX, Facebook applinks, Cellogic, Branch, Tapstream.

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Pushing the news, 7 things to consider when using news-related push notifications

Android

There is no doubting the power of push notifications to generate instant spikes in traffic to your app. Push notifications have proven to increase user engagement and loyalty to a publication. It can help with conversions and customer retention and they can simply remind the user of how great your app and content is. According to localytics push notifications drive 88% more app launches, 52% of people opt-in to push notifications and users who enable push have a nearly 3X higher retention rate compared to those who disable push.

The users who accept push notifications are some of your most loyal customers. Who else would care enough to download your app and give you permission to interrupt their day at a time you deem appropriate with a notification you feel is relevant to them. This even happens when the app is not running and the screen is locked. This is an incredible act of trust. This trust, if betrayed is difficult to win back. The is brilliantly portrayed by Breaking News in this video

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The pros and cons of Apples Newsstand, is it worth it?

iOS

Apple introduced Newsstand in iOS5 as a single location for users to gather all their magazine and newspaper app subscriptions. From the users perspective its a type of folder where all their news/magazine periodicals (that support Newsstand) are located. There is also a link to the Newsstand section of the App store where a user can discover new publications.

If you are publishing a news app you have the option to add it to Newsstand, before you do you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of Newsstand.
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Setting up a mobile device lab

Mobile

It is becoming more and more challenging to test apps and websites on different devices, with different screen sizes, running different operating systems and with multiple browsers installed. How can you guarantee that your website or app works on every device and on every browser?

Nothing beats testing on the same devices as your users, not emulated or simulated versions of those devices. Physical interactions like pinching, zooming and scrolling, hardware features like the camera, GPS locations, the accelerometer, testing real occurring events like battery consumption or site performance are all best tested using physical devices.
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Xcode Plugins

iOS

If you haven’t done so already it’s time to check out some Xcode plugins. How about managing cocoapods from inside Xcode or getting a Todo-list window generated from your code comments? Clang-formatting your code, install new colorthemes or getting a minimap-view like in Sublime text? (more…)


VG+ 2.0: From Native to Hybrid App.

Android

VG+ is VG’s premium subscription based digital product and VG’s third editorial product, it consists of the best content from the printed VG newspaper with the best content from VG’s free news site www.vg.no. Context aware content tailor made for each platform ensures the ideal reading experience per device. The user can quickly and easily gain news insight on their mobile while enjoying a more immersive experience on the iPad.

 

The first version of VG+ was released in 2011 as an iPad app. It was a native application that won multiple awards including the ‘Best paid app’ at the World Association of Newspapers – WAN IFRA Cross Media Awards in 2011.

In 2013 we ditched our native apps and created a new set of VG+ Hybrid Apps (Android, iPhone and iPad). The goal was to combine the best of web technology with the best of native technology. We also created a new set of editorial tools that are tailor made to the needs of our editorial team and to creating interactive and instantly available content for mobile devices.

So why did we scrap the native apps and build hybrid apps?

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iOS7-bug: Shows white page when getting 304 Not Modified from server

iOS

It seems like after Apple upgraded almost every line of code in the iPhone they also introduced a bug regarding browser cache in Safari.

If your site takes advantage of the Last-Modified or ETag headers, you will probably run into this problem as well.

The iPhone will send a If-Modified-Since or If-None-Match header. The problem appears when the page is interrupted or cancelled during loading. In this case, it seems it will store an incomplete cache entry in the browser cache.

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Dissecting Javascript clicks in UIWebView

iOS

In VG we make heavy use of UIWebView, almost all of our iOS apps is a mix between native code and HTML. This is nice and dandy for presenting all sorts of content – being a newspaper means tons of webpages with ads, frames, javascript menus and whatnot.

Generally this works out really well, but for a long time we had a problem with links intercepted by javascript and how to distinguish these from an iframe loading. Why would we want to do this? Sometimes we wish to load linked pages in a separate view, leaving the originating page intact. Clicking on an article on our front page will push a new webview on the navigation stack so that when you’re done reading the article you can close it and instantly go back to the same spot on the front page. We use webview’s shouldStartLoadWithRequest delegate method for this purpose, like this:
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