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Connect with your users with Google Search and App Indexing 

Have you considered whether your in app content needs to be presented in Google Search results online? Well you probably should, if it’s good well crafted content and relevant to your audience then get it out there, and of course drive traffic to your app.

How do you keep users engaged and coming back for more once your app is installed on a their devices? Did you know that, according to Google, on average only 26% of apps installed on a user’s devices are used on a daily basis? There are several innovative ways to drive users back to your app. On iOS, you can use NSUserActivity or Core Spotlight to surface your app when the user is looking for related information. You could also use Google’s App Invites (both on iOS and Android) to let existing users recommend your app to their friends. Even if your app fulfills a user’s needs, once they’re searching in a browser, all hope of reconnecting them to it is lost. Until now, with Google’s introduction of App Indexing, which aims to solve this problem by putting your app front and center when users are in Google Search, the world’s most popular search engine.

Available for both iOS and Android as part of Google Play services, App Indexing lets you expose your app content via search result, improving user re-engagement and driving new installs. In this post, I’m going to focus on an Android app that I built to learn all about your favorite monkeys called Monkeys App. With App Indexing, relevant results from my app will show in search results to deep link to content in it without requiring any navigation. In addition to this, relevant Google searches will now show search results from your website, along with a big button prompting users to install your app, which can lead to more downloads. For users who already use your app, users can re-engage quickly by navigating directly to your app from search results, and even appear on Android M’s Now on Tap.

I’m going to show you how to easily integrate Google’s App Indexing SDK into the Monkeys App for Android and its companion website in just a few minutes. App Indexing is also available to integrate into iOS applications, which you can learn more about on the Google Developer portal and the App Indexing iOS component….

Source: Connect with your users with Google Search and App Indexing | Xamarin Blog

The Apple WWDC 2016 Breakdown

Okay, so that was the WWDC 2016 Keynote, the opening for the annual Apple, Worldwide Developers Conference, and annual pilgrimage to Santa (Tim Cook), to see what goodies they have in store for us for the next year.


The clue is in the name (D is for Developer), so this conference is very much Software based, for the Software Developers like ourselves who create and develop software, and mobile apps that work on and with Apple Hardware and Services, such as the iPhone and iPad. Typically there are no Hardware announcements, and true to form no new iPhone, iPad or Macbook announcements, but of interest none the least as it gives us an insight into the new features available (normally on our existing devices) in the next release of macOS (as it’s now known, no longer OS X) and iOS, in this case iOS 10.


So that’s where we shall start, iOS 10, the big one for us, if for no other reason than between now and September (ish) we need to work through our existing portfolio of iPhone apps and build a compatibility plan to ensure the app is optimised for the new iOS 10 experience (iOS 9 was on over 70% of all handsets within 6 months of launch, we can’t afford to be tardy!).  Luckily for our clients the majority use us to not only develop the existing mobile app but engage us for ongoing support and maintenance so there’s no surprising cost implications each year.


New features wise, none of note, but don’t be disheartened, the age of the smart phone is now a mature one and the expectation of great new things each year is misguided, for Apple (and indeed all Smartphone manufacturers), it’s about making things better, improving, expanding, and there’s a lot under the hood;

  • Siri – Love her or hate her, she’s getting a facelift, improvements behind the scenes, integration with keyboards, and the big news for us is an SDK, so we can incorporate Siri technologies into the apps we create for you.
  • Homekit – A dedicated Home app from which you can control your smart home devices, think lightbulbs, thermostats and the fridge!
  • VOIP and Messaging – New SDK’s so that VOIP calls from your apps present themselves like normal phone calls, and new iMessage hooks so other apps can hook in, and even dedicated iMessage apps so you can create your own messaging add ons.
  • More – On top of all of that we have an Apple Music makeover, Face and object recognition in photos, prettier maps and improved notifications.

On the desktop we have Mac OSX sorry macOS  (little ‘m’), specifically macOS Sierra (our Beta invite has landed so it’s out there), the big one here (apart from the rebranding) is Siri, fully embedded into the latest Mac operating system, from sending messages, to finding files. to all the other functions we’re used to on the iPhone (love em or hate em!).  We also have tight integration with other Apple devices, Apple Pay on the desktop, start your web purchase as normal and authenticate your payment via the Touch ID sensor on your iPhone.  Or how about binning off your password, let your Mac unlock and awaken automatically by purely being in the presence of you, wearing your Apple Watch of course.


And lastly for our summary, the Watch itself, a difficult new market that’s not yet found it’s feet and other platform vendors are struggling to find their use case.  For Apple Watch owners it’s another big tranche of improvements, the headliners are;

  • Faster App Launches – Always a bugbear, if it’s quicker to get your phone out of your pocket, unlock it, and then launch the app then how does the watch help?  Apple are promising less than a second to launch, and optimisations for your favourite apps.
  • A new ‘Dock’ launched from the side button
  • Scribble, you can literally write messages on the screen and send them that way, some interesting use cases no doubt!
  • Activity Tracking – The Social Sharing, ala Fitbit is coming, so you can see your friend’s accomplishments and motivate yourself
  • Minnie Mouse as a watch face – You heard it here first!

As always there is much, much more, whether we can bring these features into your business and offer improvements, or the MD just fancies a new shiny Macbook, we’re always happy to help.  Give us a call, let’s get a coffee.

dotUK is a cross platform mobile app, desktop  and web based software developer based in the North East of the UK

How To Energize Your Next Trade Show With Mobile Technology

Are you planning a live event, or trade show stall this year?  Talk to us about what you can do to not only engage and market your company or product launch at the event, but build energy and excitement in the run up – No, we haven’t turned into a marketing company, but we have the tools to help yours do something special

Reinvigorate your next live event by incorporating mobile technology. With the right engagement strategy, you can say goodbye to the days of paper agendas, one-way communication and “death by Power…

Source: Attendee Engagement: How To Energize Your Next Live Event With Mobile Technology

Welcome to Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Flow is a new service that is the Redmond giant’s answer to Zapier and IFTTT – a service that connects cloud services together, and triggers an action as a result of a trigger (eg create automatically save email attachments to your Onedrive folder)

Source: Welcome to Microsoft Flow | Flow Blog

Over the past decade we’ve seen an unprecedented explosion in the use of the cloud. Today, you can do just about anything via the web, from ordering a car to submitting an expense report, from your personal life to your work life. These cloud solutions have a myriad of advantages – they are easy to sign up for, fast to use, and work well on mobile devices. However, one difficulty is each service operates in its own silo – if you have to do something that requires using more than one service, it will be challenging to get data from one of them to the other.

That’s where Microsoft Flow comes in. Microsoft Flow makes it easy to mash-up two or more different services. Today, Microsoft Flow is publicly available as a preview, at no cost. We have connections to 35+ different services, including both Microsoft services like OneDrive and SharePoint, and public software services like Slack, Twitter and Salesforce.com, with more being added every week. You can now go to https://flow.microsoft.com/ and sign up with a work or school account.

…. read on at the source article for more

Native App, Hybrid App, or somewhere in between?

Native App, Hybrid App, or somewhere in between?

We quite often get told “I want an app for my business”, note not that they “need” one, they want one, which can often be the wrong place to start, as we’re justifying a want by creating the needs.  Underneath it all there are many complex technical considerations and decisions to be made, often by us and trusted by the client, but these considerations come on the back of the business’s “needs” not it’s “wants”, and the app platform, is one of these.




So first off, what is a native app, or what app platforms are there?  The lines are grey in the middle, so feel free to disagree with these definitions (happy to engage in the debate!) but broadly we have;

  • Native Apps – In it’s purest sense these are apps written in the native programming language of the mobile device you’re targeting, eg;
    • iOS (iPad and iPhone apps) – Uses Objective C (and now Swift)
    • Android – Uses Java (not Javascript! More on that below)
    • Windows Mobile – C# (pronounced C sharp)
    • Blackberry – Java, however not the same as Android (Pre Blackberry 10), however the latest Blackberry Priv handset is in essence an Android device.
  • Hybrid Apps (With Native UI) – These include platforms such as Xamarin, or Telerik AppBuilder, which is based on C# and F#, but the end result on each device is a ‘Native’ App using Native UI elements so the app feels at home to users on that platform.  The end result is these are compiled down to ‘Native Apps’ on the device so often indistinguishable from true Native Apps.
  • Hybrid Apps (With Cross Platform UI) – This is the biggest ‘app’ space at the moment, filled by vendors such as Phonegap / Cordova, Appcelerator Titanium, normally pitched at Web Developers trying to get into the mobile space as it appeals to their existing HTML5 and Javascript skill sets.
  • Web Apps – Not really an app!  Not in the mobile sense, but a traditional web site hosted and accessible to all and heavily optimised and responsive for mobile users.

So what are the pros and cons, and which do I need!  Well there’s the conversation, but sit down with us for a cup of coffee, or engage with us and we’ll look at your “needs” and help you come to an informed decision, but some points to consider;

  • So you want a mobile friendly, easily accessible, cheap (relatively) way to engage with a mobile audience? On any device, wherever they are connected.  – Then consider a mobile optimised website, no need for app stores, or worrying about platform related decisions, just out there.
  • Do you want to engage with the mobile audience? Eg send Push notifications, Know where they are physically located, use the camera, microphone etc? – Then for a good experience you need an App, that has access to the devices hardware, eg GPS, Camera, Microphone.  Most Hybrid Apps will allow this, Native Apps without question.
  • Do you want the user to work offline? Ie when no internet connection? – If the app is to work disconnected, without a live internet connection then you are in Native, or Hybrid with Native UI territory.  The app will need to read and write to a local database to store your work when disconnected, and then ‘phone home’ when back online, this needs more complex cross platform background services and databases.

Another consideration is user experience, end users engage with their mobile so much these days that functional apps should be second nature, they should pick up your app and start using it, it should be obvious, which is where Native Apps, or Native UI based apps win every day.  The best example is deleting a record from a list.  On an iOS device you swipe left, and tap delete.  On Android it’s press and hold, then Delete.  On a Native App, or a framework such as Xamarin which uses the Native App user interface (in fact it uses the same user interface tools as Native Apps so you don’t get any closer!) then that’s what you get, your end user feels at home.  Yet on Cordova / Phonegap based apps, which pitch themselves as code once, run everywhere, you have exactly the same user interface and design  on Android as you do on iPhone (sounds good, right?), except what you’ve achieved is an interface that all users find confusing, it’s not ‘natural’ on an iPhone, or Android, so your users have to learn to use your App.


mobile app


So what about the benefits to you, the customer?  Well that comes down to price.  Using a hypothetical example of an ‘app’ that needs to be on Android and iPhone, downloads user content from a web based Content Mangement System, that the user can interact and send content back including photos taken within the app,  and the app owner can send push notifications based on GPS Location, your year 1 project prices differ as below;

  • If you go fully native, and certainly if you want your app available on more than one platform then you need to write the app twice, once in Objective C for the iPhone, and again in Java for Android apps, near enough double your cost – £9500.
  • A Hybrid, non native Cordova solution will be significantly cheaper, it gets written once, but your user experience suffers, based on the requirements above it’s possible though – £3000
  • Somewhere in the middle, a Hybrid App with a native UI, such as a Xamarin, the back end and core workings of the app only have to be written once, in C# for example, so a considerable development time saving, but the user interface is written individually for each platform using Native tools to get the perfect experience – £5500.  The clever ones amongst you will notice that we’ve not mentioned Xamarin Forms, which is the Amber Nectar, negates the need to design the UI for each platform, but still gives the benefit of native UI on each device, if this is appropriate for you (and often is for line of business apps), then the price could drop further to near £4500 suddenly less than half the price but all the benefits


dotUK Multi Platform Mobile App Developer

So what’s the conclusion?  There isn’t one, the best answer is to engage with your chosen app developer (us we hope!), have a cup of coffee or two and talk through your requirements and come to a sensible conclusion based on your “needs”.  What’s more concerning, is for those of you out there that have already had a mobile app commissioned did you have a conversation along the lines of the above?  Have you got what you “needed” or what you were given?



We make no pretences that we love Xamarin, more so now they’re backed by Microsoft, be it Xamarin Classic, or Xamarin forms we can offer you and your business incredible value, especially across multiple platforms, but we’re by no means restricted to them.  We’re just as happy dropping into true Native technologies, or a quick win with Cordova, but the choice is yours, not ours, and we’ll always have the chat above with you.

PS: For the avoidance of doubt, anything generated by someone with a ‘mobile apps for bizness’ account costing you about £500, they’re not apps, they are badly hosted websites pretending to be an app (turn airplane mode on your device and start the app, what happens!).  The reality is that you won’t get any return on your ‘bargain’ £500 app, you’re just £500 poorer, sorry 🙁

Ensuring security in an increasingly complex world – Microsoft UK Developers

Would you trust a robot, or automated AI with your companies security?  Or are you worried about Skynet or a certain scene from 2001 A Space Odyssey?

The world of cyber security is becoming increasingly more difficult for businesses looking to protect their assets. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated, with cyber criminals making use of ever advancing technologies. Even with modern machine driven security systems, it is becoming increasingly complex for businesses to differentiate between a genuine visitor and criminals attempting to breach or bring down their systems.

With news that MIT has developed Artificial Intelligence (AI) capable of detecting 85% of cyber attacks– and still learning – does the future of cyber security lie with robots?

Source: Ensuring security in an increasingly complex world – Microsoft UK Developers

Google I/O 2016

Google I/O is the Annual Developers conference held to brief Developers on upcoming product changes, announcements, and all things Android, And Google Play (heir Mobile App Store) – see the link below to follow the announcements as they happen.

See an announcement that sparks an idea or you’d like to include in your next Android App project – then talk to us

Source: Google I/O 2016

Xamarin Evolve 2016 Recap 

Xamarin Evolve 2016 was our largest Evolve yet, and we were thrilled to be joined by so many talented developers from around the world. It was incredible to not only have 1,700 mobile developers in one place to learn and celebrate mobile development, but also to be joined by tens of thousands of developers from …

Source: Xamarin Evolve 2016 Recap | Xamarin Blog

Xamarin Evolve 2016 was our largest Evolve yet, and we were thrilled to be joined by so many talented developers from around the world. It was incredible to not only have 1,700 mobile developers in one place to learn and celebrate mobile development, but also to be joined by tens of thousands of developers from 152 countries on the live stream.

Miguel is proud to officially open source the Xamarin SDKs, including Xamarin.iOS, Xamarin.Android, and Xamarin.Forms.

Several of the sessions from the event are already up (with the rest following as quickly as possible), including our opening Keynote with Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman and CTO Miguel de Icaza, which you can watch now at the link below.

Watch Evolve 2016 Keynote

The Big Announcements

After our acquisition by Microsoft earlier this year, our mission at Xamarin is still to make it fast, easy and fun to deliver incredible mobile apps, now at an even larger scale. Our focus at Xamarin Evolve 2016 was to make it even easier for more developers to start building beautiful native apps quickly:

  • Open Source Xamarin: We officially announced the open-sourcing and contributing of the Xamarin SDKs for iOS, Android, and Mac to the .NET Foundation under the MIT license. This includes the Mono runtime ports for iOS and Android, bindings to the native APIs, the basic command-line build tools, and Xamarin.Forms. Join us in building the future of mobile apps at open.xamarin.com, our portal for open-source at Xamarin.
  • Xamarin Previews: We have published some exciting previews to our updater channels including a Release Candidate for Xamarin Studio and Xamarin for Visual Studio, Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android, and our interactive mobile development learning tool, Workbooks.
    • Xamarin for Visual Studio: We announced some new features in Xamarin for Visual Studio that provide a seamless experience for mobile development, so you can stay in your favorite IDE and build for all platforms. Our new iOS Simulator remoting allows you to interact with apps running with Apple’s iOS Simulator on Mac from your Windows machine as if the simulator were running locally. iOS USB remoting makes it possible to deploy and debug to an iOS device plugged into your Windows PC, and will be available in preview soon.
    • Xamarin Studio: The best IDE for cross-platform app development on the Mac just got even better with our new Release Candidate. Xamarin Studio has been completely redesigned with over 5,000 new icons, a beautiful dark theme, and improved syntax highlighting. The type system has been completely rewritten to use Roslyn, bringing improved refactoring, code completion, formatting, and expanded support for C# 6. A new project model has been introduced to bring much greater compatibility to developers working in both Xamarin Studio and Visual Studio. Developers building apps in F# will also notice substantial improvements, including support for F# PCLs and Shared Projects.
    • Xamarin.iOS & Xamarin.Android: Both Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android now include native HTTP handlers, bringing speedier network operations to your mobile apps and allowing HttpClient to use any network and encryption protocols both iOS and Android are familiar with, such as TLS 1.2. Xamarin.Android uses a new Java invocation architecture, which reduces the size of Android apps by nearly 2MB (compared to previous releases), and may also improve app performance due to additional caching opportunities.
    • Workbooks: Our new Workbooks are live documents that are great for experimenting, teaching, training, or exploring mobile devleopment in C#. See an app come to life as you move step-by-step through an interactive coding workbook. Workbooks not only support C#, but also have deep integration with platform-specific APIs, so you can render colors, maps, and other mobile constructs directly from a workbook.
  • Xamarin.Forms Updates: Many new Xamarin.Forms features were announced to help you rapidly build beautiful cross-platform applications for iOS, Android, and Windows.
    • Themes: Themes give developers access to pre-designed UI elements, such as cards and contact lists, making it simple to build beautiful user interfaces with Xamarin.Forms. We are shipping light and dark themes for you to use as separate NuGets, but you can also create your own themes, making it easy to ensure that developers across teams can create mobile apps with a consistent look-and-feel.
    • DataPages: DataPages make displaying data from a cloud datasource as easy as possible. Simply select a data source, enter your cloud credentials, bind your data, and click build. Xamarin.Forms not only handles connecting to the data source, but also creates master-detail pages from that data automatically, without any additional configuration.
    • Xamarin.Forms Previewer: Building cross-platform native apps in XAML just got even easier with the Xamarin.Forms Previewer, which renders a live preview of a page side-by-side with the corresponding XAML markup, directly within your Xamarin Studio environment.
    • URL Navigation: Deep link to any page in your Xamarin.Forms app with URL navigation, creating a more fluid experience across mobile search, web, email, and other app-external sources.
    • Embedded Platform-Specific Controls: Embed custom iOS and Android controls directly into your Xamarin.Forms apps in just a single line of code, without having to create a custom renderer or effect.
  • The Mobile-Optimized Development LifecycleIn the Keynote, we announced how Microsoft and Xamarin are teaming up to modernize mobile DevOps and make it easy to deliver value faster while still maintaining a high-quality experience.
    • Xamarin Test Recorder for Visual Studio: The Xamarin Test Recorder allows you to generate automated UI test scripts by launching it directly on an emulator or device, and interacting with it as your user would. Test steps are generated for you automatically and can be run locally or in the Xamarin Test Cloud.
    • Test Cloud Live: Have a bug on a specific device that needs fixing, but don’t own it? Test Cloud Live allows users to remote-debug a real device in Xamarin Test Cloud from within the browser, providing an extra level of detail sometimes needed to debug a complex issue.
    • Deliver, Monitor, Iterate: Xamarin Insights and HockeyApp are joining to deliver world-class app monitoring and continuous delivery. We showcased a beautifully redesigned HockeyApp crash group page highlighting important metrics and featuring the parsed stack traces so many users had come to love in Xamarin Insights.

nat cropped

Xammy Winners

The Xammy Awards recognize top apps from around the world. Now in its second year, the Xammy Awards featured six finalists in three categories: Enterprise, Consumer, and, for the first year, Social Impact. Narrowing down the field from all of the submissions we received was difficult and selecting winners was nearly impossible, but only one winner could be chosen and each was announced on stage at Xamarin Evolve:

We’d like to congratulate our winners, as well as the other outstanding nominees, once again for the impressive apps that they’ve built. We invite you to view all of the videos of this year’s winners and nominees for a closer look at some of the incredible apps being built with Xamarin.

Check out evolve.xamarin.com for the videos from Xamarin Evolve 2016, all of which will be up within the next few days.

Supporting local Charity through the Big Tees Sleepout

On Friday 13th November, dotUK, through it’s founder and director Andy Flisher, will be sleeping out on the streets of Middlesbrough in aid of an excellent local charity, the Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.

The charity has an aim to bring Middlesbrough and Teesside businesses and companies together to help make Teesside a better place to live and work.  The Big Tees Sleepout specificially is an annual event aimed at highlighting and tackling the homelessness situation that is right on our doorsteps, a situation which we all agree should not exist in this day and age.

You can support Andy by donating online or by signing up and raising your own sponsorship at the Big Tees Sleepout site itself.  If you are unable to support financially, as of course we can’t all do, then please support the event, the charity and our efforts by liking, sharing, and in anyway making the region aware of the event, and the problem.

Thank You.



YC Business Solutions renews Darlington Mowden Park Rugby Club Sponsorship

YC Business Solutions has renewed its sponsorship of Darlington Mowden Park Rugby Football Club.

The Yarm-based business IT, software and telecommunications specialist will continue to be the rugby club’s technology partner in a sponsorship deal worth more than £25,000 in IT and telecommunications support.


YC Business Solutions will continue to improve the IT facilities at the landmark Northern Echo Arena, which Darlington Mowden Park RFC owns and where it plays its home games, ensuring better communications for fans, visitors and business tenants at the stadium.

In the first year of the sponsorship agreement YC Business Solutions installed a new phone system to provide first class facilities in the arena’s media centre for visiting journalists for the England Under 20s and England Women’s rugby matches in March 2015.

The firm also installed a new wireless network at the arena providing guest Wi-Fi for all fans in time for the visit of the New Zealand rugby team to the arena on Thursday 8 October, where more than 4,000 fans witnessed and took part in a training session with All Blacks stars, and made full use of the Wi-Fi facilities.

“Our sponsorship is about helping the club become a more commercial enterprise. By providing state-of-the-art-communications and technology which fans and journalists have come to expect at top stadiums, then the club is much more likely to attract more England representative games and other major events in the future,”
says Andy Flisher, YC Business Solutions Director.
“Our programme for the second year of our sponsorship will focus on continuing to support the club’s forward thinking attitude toward embracing modern technology by improving facilities for business use at the arena, and helping to attract more tenants and business events, as part of the club’s ambitious growth plans.”

All Blacks at Mowden Park - Credit Chris Booth / Northern Echo

All Blacks at Mowden Park – Credit Chris Booth / Northern Echo

Lee Rust, Mowden Park RFC Managing Director, says:

“We are delighted with the new facilities and support which YC Business Solutions has provided us so far and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the next phase of improvements at the arena.”

Based in Yarm, YC Business Solutions is one the North East’s leading IT and communications companies. The group of companies provides business IT support, and encompasses Synergy Telecoms, its telecommunications arm, dotUK which offers mobile app and bespoke software development services for organisations across the UK, as well as Yarm Computers, its retail presence on Yarm High Street.

For further information, contact Jonathan Reay, Reay Public Relations
Tel: 01325 526530 or 0788 4433 475.
Email: jonathan@reaypr.com

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