New!: Invision Community Apps for iOS & Android

Discussion in 'Invision Community' started by tony45, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. tony45

    tony45 Participant

    70
    35
    +129
    Im excited to reveal that we are making Invision Community native apps for iOS and Android!

    For the past few months, our staff has been using an internal test build right here on our community. Now we are ready to widen testing to a larger pool of customers. Information on how to become a tester is at the end of this post. But first, let's take a look at the app itself.

    Technology Preview

    We have a lot of exciting plans for the Invision Community app.

    We wanted to take full advantage of a clean slate and build a brand new experience that embraces a native app's interfaces. While the app is unmistakably Invision Community, it features new ways of interacting with your content.

    We want the app to help shape the future of Invision Community, and we're asking for you to help.

    What we are opening up for testing today is a technology preview. This slim app covers the essentials with a view to much more expansion later.

    The technology preview is locked to our community. The app we will release will be a 'multi-community' app; a directory of communities users can browse and save.

    We’ve taken this approach because the app stores have clamped down on ‘template’ apps, and the cost involved in building and maintaining a separate app per-community won’t be an option for many of our customers. A multi-community app is a great approach for most: simple setup, minimal cost, still fully-featured, and a great way for new users to find your community too.

    What The App Does

    For the initial phase of this technology preview, discussions are the main focus which is the foundation of every Invision Community. Also available are profiles, streams, search and notifications - including (at last!) push notifications.

    Any areas that the app does not currently support will open seamlessly in a web view within the app. As we build new functionality into the app over time, users will encounter fewer of these hybrid views.

    Your feedback will allow us to target the highest priority areas during the technology preview phase.

    https://invisioncommunity.com/site_assets/ios_app.mp4

    I'm excited to reveal that we are making Invision Community native apps for iOS and Android!

    For the past few months, our staff has been using an internal test build right here on our community. Now we are ready to widen testing to a larger pool of customers. Information on how to become a tester is at the end of this post. But first, let's take a look at the app itself.

    Technology Preview

    We have a lot of exciting plans for the Invision Community app.

    We wanted to take full advantage of a clean slate and build a brand new experience that embraces a native app's interfaces. While the app is unmistakably Invision Community, it features new ways of interacting with your content.

    We want the app to help shape the future of Invision Community, and we're asking for you to help.

    What we are opening up for testing today is a technology preview. This slim app covers the essentials with a view to much more expansion later.

    The technology preview is locked to our community. The app we will release will be a 'multi-community' app; a directory of communities users can browse and save.

    We’ve taken this approach because the app stores have clamped down on ‘template’ apps, and the cost involved in building and maintaining a separate app per-community won’t be an option for many of our customers. A multi-community app is a great approach for most: simple setup, minimal cost, still fully-featured, and a great way for new users to find your community too.

    What The App Does

    For the initial phase of this technology preview, discussions are the main focus which is the foundation of every Invision Community. Also available are profiles, streams, search and notifications - including (at last!) push notifications.

    Any areas that the app does not currently support will open seamlessly in a web view within the app. As we build new functionality into the app over time, users will encounter fewer of these hybrid views.

    Your feedback will allow us to target the highest priority areas during the technology preview phase.

    Pricing

    Note: The information below outlines our current intentions, but may change as we finalize the app's release to app stores.

    The good news is we intend for the app to be free to both our customers with active licenses and their end-users. In time, we will offer a premium option to communities. This funding will secure the app's long-term future.

    The premium option could enhance their listing in the directory, or provide special functionality when users use that community in the app.


    1842656332_iPhoneXs.thumb.png.f8f4af664a7d378c6bbd4de09f4f6b4c.png

    Availability

    We intend to release the app alongside the next significant point release of Invision Community, expected to be 4.5. Communities will need to upgrade to this version to allow their users to use the app.

    Questions?

    Why not a PWA (progressive web app)?

    Invision Community 4.4 already supports several PWA features. However, until iOS supports Push Notifications (and other features) in PWAs, we don't feel they are a fully-rounded solution to using communities on a phone. Building native apps allow us to experiment with new interfaces and approaches. As PWA support improves in the years to come, we'll feed what we learn back into the main product for the benefit of all users.

    Why now?

    Those with a long memory will recall that we've had a few attempts at providing an app in the past that weren't successful.

    We are great at building apps with web technologies but creating native apps ourselves wasn't sustainable.

    Enter React Native.

    React Native is an open-source technology for building native apps. React Native allows teams to build native apps using web technologies, but crucially, React Native doesn't build hybrid apps. They are compiled into real native apps - not browser wrappers, but native buttons, text, dialogs, animations and more.

    A year or so ago, we started experimenting with React Native to see if it might be a viable approach for us. And it was. Finally, there was a technology that enabled web engineers to build delightful cross-platform native apps.

    As we can build native mobile apps using the technology we are familiar with allows us to incorporate mobile app development into our existing processes.

    Why just forums?

    Invision Community is a large, fully-featured platform, and building the entire platform in a native app from the get-go didn't seem to be the best approach. Instead, we've focused on the most active area of most communities - forums - with other areas still supported in the app via webviews. Over time, additional features and tools will be built into the app so that it eventually reaches feature-parity with the web version. We'll take feedback from our customers to determine which areas to support next.

    How will I add my community to the app?

    The next significant point release of Invision Community (expected to be 4.5) will have app support built-in. Including your app in the directory will be as simple as enabling the feature in your AdminCP and configuring a few options.

    Is the app ad-supported?

    There are no ads of any kind in the app right now. We may include ads or allow communities to run their own ads as a premium option in future.

    Can I get a white-label version for my community?

    We aim to offer a white-label option in the future.

    Will my plugins work in the app?

    Probably not. We're intentionally building the app to work with standard Invision Community features and apps right now. If your plugins add new UI elements or change the functions that users interact with it's likely they will not work with the app.

    What about themes?

    Themes won't work in the app because the app doesn't use HTML. However, some branding/customization will be available via the AdminCP, and we may expand upon this in future.

    Have other questions? Let us know in the comments, and we'll answer them!

    Sign Up For Testing

    For the next stage of our testing process, we will be inviting several customers to try the app and provide feedback/bug reports. As part of the sign-up process, we'll ask for some information about your own community. We'll use this to select further testers once we begin testing of the 'multi-community' version of the app later. The answers you provide will not affect your chance of testing the app on our community.

    Interested in joining the testing group? Click here to sign up.

    https://invisioncommunity.com/news/product-updates/invision-community-apps-for-ios-android-r1161
     
    • Winner Winner x 3
    • Informative! Informative! x 1
    • List
  2. \o/

    \o/ an oddity

    181
    33
    +52
    So you basically built a less portable Tapatalk alternative with a better design?
     
  3. fixer

    fixer I'm In My Prime

    1,885
    677
    +1,167
    would be more crowd fair on this thread but we all already responded to the RSS feed on this topic.

    I can still summarize the entire thread...

    67B66090-361B-405B-9CF3-EB2FF6B9F656.gif
     
  4. fixer

    fixer I'm In My Prime

    1,885
    677
    +1,167
    Can ya feel it?
     
  5. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    6,854
    1,432
    +5,447
    This is exactly why I think that up until now forum developers and to some extent owners and admins are still living in the age of the personal computer. The people we need to be targeting, who are now the majority, don't own personal computers or laptops. They will never see a forum on anything but a smart phone or perhaps a tablet and even then the chances they will engage via a browser is small.

    This app like Tapatalk (was) is a game changer. Every Invision Community will now be available with push notification on any smart phone running iOS or Android. Even better it's one app to rule them all. You don't need to be a developer fighting to get your app accepted every time there's an update. It also means uniformity that focuses on content rather than the typical Myspace disco inferno approach to skinning that some forum owners seem to love. In addition giving owners the option to list their forums in a directory is the icing on the cake. It may not suit everyone but it could if implemented well give all forum owners the chance to boost their active membership.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • List
  6. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Administrator

    3,844
    1,702
    +2,700
    I imagine that there will be very strict content restrictions. The weakness of one app to rule them all is that its as strong lid as the weakest link. If the app is kicked out of the app stores because one forum has unacceptable content, then all sites suffer.
     
  7. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    6,854
    1,432
    +5,447
    That is a valid concern but to the best of my knowledge it's not yet troubled Tapatalk on either app platform which is surprising given how fastidious Apple in particular appears to be over rooting out content it deems to be unacceptable.

    One thing I do hope for is that Invision respect the need for privacy, an area where Tapatalk failed abysmally. That alone could make or break the app.
     
  8. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

    710
    257
    +757
    I don't think portability is a concern at all for the app. It's an Invision Community app designed, created, and targeted for Invision Communities. It was never meant to be a master app for all forums.

    With that said, there are already clients who have asked about extending the app on their own using their own development team. IPS has provided additional technical details in the comments of the blog.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
    • Informative! Informative! x 1
    • List
  9. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

    710
    257
    +757
    This probably isn't as big of a deal as what you may think. Some communities can stay hidden and some can appear in the public directory.

    As long as no content is shown from those hidden communities in public areas, then the app should meet store guidelines.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative! Informative! x 1
    • List
  10. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

    1,291
    432
    +1,032
    Yeah, I think Reddit gets around it by having a NSFW toggle and you can't access all the best bits naughty bits of the site without opting into them.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.