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Mobile Apps Status

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At IPS, we pride ourselves on providing industry leading products and services, unsurpassed in quality, features and support. 
 
Much like any other company, we indeed have our strengths and weaknesses. One admitted weakness is clearly developing an independent mobile app platform that can meet your and our expectations. We have struggled over the past several years in securing a proficient mobile app development team and ultimately, the platform has not met our expectations. Our mantra has become: if we can't do it right, we simply will not do it. That is where we are at with the mobile app platform.
 
Unfortunately, this means the Android app will not make its debut as we originally hoped. We do not wish to release something that we cannot provide proper support for. Instead, we would recommend Android users with an immediate need for a mobile app, visit a third party such as Tapatalk.com Please trust that we are just as disappointed as you in our failure to deliver this particular product as promised and I offer my sincerest apologies. 
 
With that, we will do our best to continue polishing the iOS mobile app (which will now be made available for free in the app store) in the short term. For the long-term, we will be incorporating a new mobile integration directly into the product beginning with 4.0. 
 
An integrated web app uses the latest standard web technologies such as CSS, Javascript and HTML combined with mobile extensions which will make the site render and feel like a native mobile application. This will allow far more flexibility and tighter integration across the IPS Community Suite (imagine approving orders, responding to support requests or publishing an article with IP.Content from the comfort of your mobile device) than an independent mobile app while being cross-platform compatible with all mobile operating systems.  This is also something we have the existing internal expertise to carry out to our standards, alleviating the need to rely on third parties. 
 
As always, we welcome any constructive feedback and appreciate your continued business and support. Once again, I apologize for any inconvenience and rest assured - we will continue to do what we do best.


Samourai, avro, CallieJo and 17 others like this
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Posted

I do understand this decision to put resources to where it's best suited.

 

I did hope that an affordable white label app would have been provided by now so that we could earn some money from our own sites.

 

Tapatalk offers this but at $799 it would take a long time to break even. 

 

If it is your suggestion that users use third party apps in lieu of the current ios App

can/will IPS be officially installing Tapatalk support to the official forums here so that we have a unified experience?

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Posted

The current iOS app will remain available and of course, the mobile skin is suitable for most needs. For those who wish to have an Android specific app, you might wish to try a provider such as Tapatalk. 

 

To maintain the highest level of security and protection of customer data, we do not install any third party code to this community, I'm afraid. 

 

I hope that clears up any confusion and again, you may continue to use the iOS app, we simply will not be adding any additional features to it and will instead focus our attention on an integrated web app as mentioned above. Thank you.

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Posted

To maintain the highest level of security and protection of customer data, we do not install any third party code to this community, I'm afraid. 

 

It seems odd to suggest a third party alternative and at the same time suggest that using it would potentially breach security? just playing devils advocate here - just sayin  ;)

 

-

 

do you know if it will be possible for a web app version of this to be able to be wrapped in PhoneGap or some alternative so as to get into the AppStore?

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Posted

I assume that this means the current iOS app will not work with 4.0 and above, is that correct?

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Posted

I can see the reason behind this decision however offering third party service has major downsides. Third party services only cover Forum while we own other IP applications and none of those applications are covered by Tapatalk or Forum runner.

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Posted

I can see the reason behind this decision however offering third party service has major downsides. Third party services only cover Forum while we own other IP applications and none of those applications are covered by Tapatalk or Forum runner.

This is exactly why the approach is turning towards an integrated web app. This has been the exact downfall of attempting to provide a native app.

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Posted

Lindy, unfortunately the mobile skin is not suitable for most needs at all, this was raised and discussed by me and others over a year ago, and even before then, AND it has been raised since and is still a topic of contention on the forums and concerns the mobile skin and associated IPB apps such as IPContent/IPDownloads/etc.

 

These apps have ZERO functionality in the mobile skin, and I (and many others) use IPContent for my front page and use IPDownloads for the vast majority of my sites activities and as far as I'm aware there has been ZERO progress with the mobile skin for these apps, but a year or so wasted trying to monetize a mobile app.   Hate to sound so negative and pessimistic, but you can't really expect a hero's welcome when the development team have wasted all this time when they could have been developing and contributing to the built-in mobile skin like what was suggested all that time ago - the mobile skin has been grossly neglected in favour of trying to monetize ... now that has failed, is the mobile skin going to be on the "todo" list again?.

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Posted

How long will the existing iOS app be supported for?

 

What about customers who purchased this app? (expecting ensuring support from IPS) - some sites may have promoted this to members, at a cost to their members.

 

Can you please detail the objectives of the integrated web app? You must have some high level objectives already.

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Posted

its really disappointing to see a working iOS app and after a long wait on an android app just post this, its a waiste of time for us and you as a company too, i feel very diappointed with this decision and the time it took you to say something other than "its coming"

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Posted

If current app will be offer as a branded version that cover all IP applications , that can generate more then enough income to support new devs that will work on Mobile Development only.

CCJD likes this
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Posted

I have excitedly awaiting the android app for a very long time and always had high expectations of it. I think everyone here knows by now that I am a heavy mobile user. Am I disappointed? Yes, but so are you and in the end I appreciate that you were honest with your customers and with yourselves. In fact you guys are probably more disappointed than anyone because I know how much you care about your product and your company. So, yeah. This sucks, but s a company you've made the right move here and if anything thus improves what I think of IPS. They acknowledge when they can't do something and admit it. I like that and prefer it over false hope and unkept promises.

surferboy, Alan, bfarber and 7 others like this
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Posted

Sometimes putting your hands up and admitting that you can't do something is the way forward, but if that something happens to be the major growth area on the internet and probably the way the majority of people will spend their time online in the years to come I'm not so sure.

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Posted

Our mantra has become: if we can't do it right, we simply will not do it.

Soooo about that documentation... :p
IH_Jimbo and adonismale like this
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Posted

I can see it is way more efficient to focus on one webapp rather than device related apps. So I am excited about the announcement and look forward to IPS extending the potential of the mobile website!

avro likes this
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Posted

Thank you very much ;) 

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Posted

I'm a little bit disappointed actually, although I can understand. A lot of my websites use IP.Board and when I am away from my desk I use my Android smartphone to check up on them, I was looking forward to a Android App from IPS since it is the only place I would have it from to keep things tidy without the need for a third party app to give that support.

 

Good luck though, I hope that one day you can find a team that can develop a Android App for IP.Board.

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Posted

We have considered other resources and alternatives to develop actual mobile apps, but ultimately, an integrated web app and enhanced mobile skin can accomplish the vast majority of what independent apps can and without compatibility issues across platforms, without waiting weeks for Apple to approve a simple bug fix release, etc. 

 

We certainly recognize that the future is in mobile technology. I travel often and would love the ability to fix a simple billing issue or address a critical request with ease, from my mobile device. That's really the objective here: Create a feature-rich, unified mobile experience. Ultimately, independent apps while seemingly the latest trend, are really not necessary for that. :)

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Posted

To reiterate what others have said, I am disappointed as I have been looking forward to this app for a long time, however, the new direction is good news.

 

I am a little frustrated I will have to wait for IP4 to come along before seeing a complete (hopefully, & not a basic release with other apps "to follow", such as the ios app.) mobile skin with proper functionality. Just how long are we talking here?

 

I am currently in the process of making my custom third party app work with the mobile skin (the app is the core of my site) so now I feel this development could be wasted as the new mobile skin is likely going to be entirely different to the current one.

 

Mobile is huge these days, I know people who never even use their laptops/Pcs any more. I would like to see a large focus on mobile use in the next releases.

 

Paul.

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Posted

Much like any other company, we indeed have our strengths and weaknesses.

Weakness - not a big company like Microsoft, so can't afford the necessary resources for getting all desired goals accomplished.
Strength - not a big company like Microsoft, so we get personalized attention from the staff, which in turn more than makes up for any goals not met.

I'm sure some will disagree with me on this, but I believe customized mobility isn't the highest of priorities, since there are compatible alternatives available. Not saying it's not important, just that it looks like IPS came upon an obstacle that it has to pass on for the time being. I'm sure most (if not all) of the staff felt bad about the decision since they generally aim of trying to keep us clients happy. At least IPS can and does recognize when it needs to put a delay on something in favor of the 'big picture' so to speak. Let's keep this in mind during the infrequent times that IPS has to provide updates that aren't as great as the others.
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Posted

it is a shame i must admit.. Apple do my head in and this is the reason why with the monopoly they have over everything which in turn if a developer is struggling with something they will always concentrate on the ipad/iphone ilk and the many people who use android get left behind..

 

I use tapatalk and while its fine for forum use its no good for the blogs or gallery and all the other bits of apps IPB has...

 

mobile development is more important than ever these days for a site, even PC/desktop sales are suffering as people turn more to mobile devices, and this can only get worse and those who haven't got  comprehensive mobile access to their site will lose out more and more..

 

Only hope is that things will get better in the future for us android users....

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Posted

Before I start criticizing IPS, I'd like to take a moment and give credit where credit is due.  I migrated multiple big boards from Vbulletin on or around February 2010.  I was sick of VB's bloated garbage and lack of support and I was really impressed with the performance and feature set of IPB.  This couldn't have been a better decision and I credit IPB for their continued updates and amazing support to their entire suite of products.  IPB definitely had a hand in my communities success and growth over the last few years and I hope we can continue this great relationship long term.  Looking at what VB turned into, I'm dancing I made the move.  The CORE of IPB's suite is second to none.

 

That being said, I've been begging and pleading for IPS to take mobile more seriously from day one.  You guys really dropped the ball on this one - big time and more than once!

 

On October 6th 2010 IPB made a really important announcement:

 

"We are pleased to announce that we will soon be able to offer a white-label, brandable iPhone app exclusively for your community, customized to suit your specific mobile needs. To register your interest for this future service, please contact us using the form available in our Services section."

 

I was SO happy! My dreams had come through.  We had spoken with companies such as Tapatalk and ForumRunner but didn't love their solutions or pricing.  At that time, Tapatalk was asking us for approximately $16,000 for a few white label apps! Oh and they're based in China and the owner had a bit of attitude problem ;-)

 

I spent 7 months going back and forth with Mat Barrie on this new offering from IPB, until his email started bouncing....I contacted IPB and was told by Lindy mid December 2011:

 

"The delays have been plentiful - I apologize for that. We have brought on a skilled mobile apps developer and expect IOS and Android apps by Q2 2012. It's possible that white label apps will return, but they will only be practical for large communities as the process for doing white label apps with Apple has changed since inception, now requiring one to have their own Apple developer account and quite a bit more effort on our end. 

 

If you've already purchased white label apps - please do contact me for a credit as it's not in the cards for the immediate future. My apologies for any inconvenience."

 

I was credited immediately for my white label app purchases but I was truly disappointed.  A skilled developer ?! Just one ?! It's not my business to tell anyone how to run their company but if it was me, I'd be throwing ALL available resources at it. It hit me at that point that IPB didn't realize that mobile was the big elephant sitting in the room and ignoring it would have dire effects in the not so far off future.  

 

At that point we weren't going to wait for IPB and went ahead and paid ForumRunner to create white label Android and IOS apps.  They had everything ready within a week and we've had our own apps in both stores since.

 

Let's look at some insane stats.  Please take into account that our core user base isn't tech savvy AT ALL! Our forum topics are based on Weight loss surgery, not gadgets or other internet related topics.  Definitely not a core group of people that are early tech adopters.  Let's take one of the communities I run.  This past month we had about 125,000 Unique visitors via the web and 260,000 via MOBILE apps! Let's take another, 130,000 from web and 96,000 from our Mobile apps.  The third one I launched a few month ago and I think will show the point I'm attempting to make, it has 10,000 from web and 76,000 from our apps! We basically just launched this new community by launching you guessed it - mobile apps!  

 

Mobile isn't coming, it's the present and the future!  

 

As we're all aware, ForumRunner was purchased by Vbulletin (smart move on their end!!!!!) Now support for the apps sucks, just like VB.  So I'm left to where I started off.  We had no choice at this point to start development of our own NATIVE IOS and Android apps.  I have the resources to accomplish this but what about your typical IPB user ? I believe they've been left hanging and I don't see a foreseeable solution coming from IPB ?

 

Web apps are great for everyone that doesn't have an IOS and Droid device.  How many people is that really today ? Look at the big guys like facebook.  They made a similar mistake and thought that developing an HTML5 web app would be the answer to their problems.  I can bring you many other examples.  Native apps are the way to go - as much as this complicates things.  

 

A tidbit of interesting stats.  We get about 200 app downloads on IOS and about 75 on Android daily.  Android users are twice as active as IOS users.  So even though people think that downloads equates to usage...it doesn't

 

I don't have any answers or really useful suggestions.  You guys know your business better than I ever will. 

 

IPB seems to get a lot of things, but not mobile and social.  

 

This NEEDS to change ASAP!  

Feld0, media, thaivisa and 15 others like this
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Posted

Well said Alex LBT...

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Posted

Alex, thanks for the post. I'm curious what you feel the advantage of a native mobile app is over a web app? What specific features are you convinced would not be possible with a web app? 

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Posted

I am very disappointed in this. Tapatalk charges users to use there product. There is a lacking to be able to upload and download stuff. Also, it seems to be we need the ability to access IP Apps in a mobile environment. If you guys had this, ill bet an leg that you guys would have a larger source of revenue :)

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Posted

Alex, thanks for the post. I'm curious what you feel the advantage of a native mobile app is over a web app? What specific features are you convinced would not be possible with a web app? 

 

Here are the feature benefits of Native mobile apps listed in no particular order:

  • Speed - native apps usually perform faster than web apps
  • App marketplaces - the new place for communities to be discovered.  As you can see from my example above, we practically launched our latest community with users that found us through these marketplaces.  This is HUGE!
  • Usage - mobile users seem to spend much more time on apps V. web apps.  Given that we're seeing more mobile traffic than web today.....this is also huge!
  • Push Notifications
  • Access to device functions - such as camera, GPS etc.

I do see some major benefits in having a strong web app, don't get me wrong! All the big players are offering mobile apps as well as web apps.  Do you think they're making a mistake ? Why pick one over the other ? Why not offer them both ?

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