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MOBILE APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT · HUGH KIMURA · NOVEMBER 2013

Prototype Your Next iOS App Idea Quickly With These Simple Tools

These simple mockup tools can help you quickly prototype your next iPhone or iPad app.

When you first come up with an idea for a new app, it is an exciting time and you want to create a working model as soon as possible. But it can be difficult to visualize your app with some notes that you took on the back of a napkin.

Instead of going through the entire development process, these tools can help you create a working prototype in just a few minutes. In some cases, you don't need anything more than a few hand drawn sketches to get you started.

POP

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Prototyping on Paper is a free app that allows you to create app wireframes, just by taking pictures of screen sketches that you have drawn on paper. Then you can create "link spots" and determine how these spots will react when they are tapped.

From there, you can share your prototype with friends and get feedback from them. They can try out your prototype on their iPhone, iPad or via a web browser. This makes it very easy to get a working prototype out for testing before you even write a line of code.

Prototypes

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This tool is an OS X app that allows designers to turn static mockups into tappable prototypes, in just a few minutes. They offer integrated hosting that allows you to upload your prototype to their server, so you can share it with clients or friends.

All your recipient needs is a PIN and your work is protected by SSL. At $39.99, it is the most expensive solution on this list, but if you prefer to create your prototypes on your Mac, this could be the best solution for you.

Mockabilly

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Mockabilly allows you to upload simple screenshot images that you created on your desktop computer to their FTP server. Then download the images to the Mockabilly mobile app on your iPhone and add links that you can tap to navigate through your app prototype.

When you press "Play" you will be able to see your app in action. You can now demonstrate your app to clients or testers.

There is a free lite version available that has limited features. If you try it out and you like it, you can upgrade to the full version for only $6.99.

Interface 2

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Interface 2 gives you the capability to create mockup screens using native iOS widgets and special editors for more realistic prototypes. In fact, you can utilize almost everything that is available in the iOS SDK.

Like the other apps, you can create links on each screen to create an action flow, but unlike the other apps, it gives you the ability to export your mockup to Xcode. At $9.99, it is not too expensive and may be worth the Xcode export capability, if that is important to you.

Blueprint

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Blueprint is a $19.99 iPad app that helps you build mockups for iPhone and iPad. It allows you to use both iOS widgets and freehand sketches for your screen ideas. You can download the free Blueprint viewer on iPhone or iPad to see your mockup in action.

Since the functions are similar to the basic functions of other apps on this list, choosing to purchase this app will come down to a personal preference, and if you think it is worth the price.

AppCooker

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AppCooker is a little different from the other apps on this list because in addition to the usual stuff, it also gives you tools to:

  • Design your icon

  • Figure out how you should price your app

  • Export your project to PDF

  • Include over 200 icons

  • Create notes about your app so you, or other coworkers, can reference and refine them later

  • Localize your app

This is a very powerful app, but it does cost money (currently $9.99). It is only available on iPad for iOS7.

AppGyver

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Finally, AppGyver will also allow you to create tappable mockups of your apps, that you can share with testers. However, it also gives you access to the device hardware, such as the camera. You can also publish your mockup directly to the App Store, but that is not advised unless it is fully functioning. Swiss Army Knife not included.

Conclusion

These tools make it very easy to quickly prototype your next app idea, regardless if you only have sketches on a paper napkin or pixel perfect images. There are many other tools, but these are the big ones. Give them a try for your next app.

What do you currently use to prototype your apps? Let us know in the comments below.


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Hugh Kimura

Written by: Hugh Kimura, Head of Content

Date: November 2013

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