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Invision Community Apps for iOS & Android

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.

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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.

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12 hours ago, Nehaj said:

What do you mean "no"?

They said that they will offer it in future. I hope that future will come soon.

We intend to offer a white label option in the future. That is something we'll explore and discuss publicly more after we get the initial app released.

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9 hours ago, bfarber said:

We intend to offer a white label option in the future. That is something we'll explore and discuss publicly more after we get the initial app released.

I don't wanna rush you 🙂, but why don't you offer that immediately? My community, and I think everyone's community here, is literally in a dire need for a white-label app.

There is no point for me to offer my members some other generic app, considering they already all use Tapatalk.

Why in the world would they install some unknown, obscure app, just to access my forum? A-a. They'll use Tapatalk.

BUT!

If you offer white-label from the start and I offer to my fellow members a private app for my forum, well, that is another story - they all would install it in a blink of an eye. Trust me. And I can bet that same goes to all other forums here.

May I ask why "in the future" (sounds like a year, minimum), considering that we are waiting for an app for 6+ years already? I know that app needs a lot of work and please don't get this message as a some kind of bashing of you guys, no, it is just the opposite - I'm telling you what you need to do from the start.

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I would agree that a white label app is going to be the way to go for many as long as it is not cost prohibitive when it comes out. In the meantime though, I would prefer a community app with some customization in terms of colors/logo over nothing. I think the app needs more broad testing before going white label, but could be wrong. 

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I would love to use this, even if I have to pay.

But we really need to allow plugins to work with it too, or allows developers to somehow make their plugins compatible with the IPS app. Some communities revolve around certain plugins.

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16 hours ago, Nehaj said:

I don't wanna rush you 🙂, but why don't you offer that immediately? My community, and I think everyone's community here, is literally in a dire need for a white-label app.

There is no point for me to offer my members some other generic app, considering they already all use Tapatalk.

Why in the world would they install some unknown, obscure app, just to access my forum? A-a. They'll use Tapatalk.

BUT!

If you offer white-label from the start and I offer to my fellow members a private app for my forum, well, that is another story - they all would install it in a blink of an eye. Trust me. And I can bet that same goes to all other forums here.

May I ask why "in the future" (sounds like a year, minimum), considering that we are waiting for an app for 6+ years already? I know that app needs a lot of work and please don't get this message as a some kind of bashing of you guys, no, it is just the opposite - I'm telling you what you need to do from the start.

True say. A whitelabel should be the first option release to the customers. I don't want to bundle my community with all the other IPS community out there using Central tapatalk like app.

A white label is far more professional looking, example having the pop up telling users there is a mobile app when they visit the forum from using a mobile.  No need for IPS to lock down the app to a central tapatalk style app, as I guess the white label will only works with IPS community.

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, beats23 said:

True say. A whitelabel should be the first option release to the customers. I don't want to bundle my community with all the other IPS community out there using Central tapatalk like app.

A white label is far more professional looking, example having the pop up telling users there is a mobile app when they visit the forum from using a mobile.  No need for IPS to lock down the app to a central tapatalk style app, as I guess the white label will only works with IPS community.

 

 

 

I completely agree. 

@bfarber can you please shed us some light on this?

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There is no light to shed. We intend to explore a white label option in the future as per the news entry here. More information will be forthcoming on that when we're prepared to announce further information on a white label option. At this time, there's simply nothing else to say about a white label option.

We do recognize some clients will be interested in a white label option, so it is on our radar.

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2 hours ago, bfarber said:

There is no light to shed. We intend to explore a white label option in the future as per the news entry here. More information will be forthcoming on that when we're prepared to announce further information on a white label option. At this time, there's simply nothing else to say about a white label option.

We do recognize some clients will be interested in a white label option, so it is on our radar.

OK, thank you for your answer.

So, that means that we will have Invision Community version of a Tapatalk app, at least in the start.

My personal opinion is that a lot of forums will simply stay with Tapatalk, so you will not have the best feedback for the app (and maybe get a wrong opinion about the app itself because of that).

I could be wrong, but you should make a poll when you release it, will the users use it.

As I said it, I fully support you, because I know that mobile phone apps are not something made over one night, but I think that you're wrong when you say that "some clients will be interested in a white label option". I think that probably more than 80 % of your clients would be interested in a white-label app. 

To be honest, I really can't see why would someone choose a generic app over an app with their forum logo. That is, if the price difference is not that big.

My app would look like this if you would offer white-label (lower right corner, second from right - zeljeznice.net):

photo6001262141350457319.thumb.jpg.d20c8deb9983a5a56775cfdc75f110a8.jpg

Miles better than anything generic.

But as I said, maybe I'm wrong and maybe will lot of people disagree with me.

Edited by Nehaj

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7 minutes ago, Nehaj said:

To be honest, I really can't see why would someone choose a generic app over an app with their forum logo. That is, if the price difference is not that big.

But it is. That’s the point. Of course everyone would prefer a white-label version, but only a few would be able to maintain it or be willing to pay for someone else to maintain it. We know this because third-party developers have tried several times over the last years to pull it off and all gave up frustrated after no one actually wanted to pay what was necessary. So your number of admins wanting such an options is meaningless because it doesn’t include the costs involved, which would change the numbers significantly. 

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45 minutes ago, opentype said:

But it is. That’s the point. Of course everyone would prefer a white-label version, but only a few would be able to maintain it or be willing to pay for someone else to maintain it. We know this because third-party developers have tried several times over the last years to pull it off and all gave up frustrated after no one actually wanted to pay what was necessary. So your number of admins wanting such an options is meaningless because it doesn’t include the costs involved, which would change the numbers significantly. 

Give me the numbers for your example.

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50 minutes ago, kmk said:

Now we have our ips community app, how about add the chat feature? At least basic chat that resolve the chat needs. 

So our members don't have to depend on others chat apps. 

There was a really low demand for chat as a core feature, thats why they abandoned it

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Can someone explain me what does the white-label option give except the icon logo of a forum? 

I mean, I'm not a programmer, but this is probably a two click job. I just need a logo of my forum instead of IPB logo and that's it.

How hard is that to set up?

Something like that removing of your company name from footer.

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4 hours ago, Nehaj said:

Can someone explain me what does the white-label option give except the icon logo of a forum? 

I mean, I'm not a programmer, but this is probably a two click job. I just need a logo of my forum instead of IPB logo and that's it.

How hard is that to set up?

Something like that removing of your company name from footer.

Your own app in the app catalogs with probably more customization. So you would pay and sign up to submit your own community app to iOS and Android app catalogs. Your users will have an app only for your community vs a “community” app like tapatalk where they will download the IPS app and find your connected community within the app, as well as other communities they want to access.

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15 hours ago, AlexWebsites said:

Your own app in the app catalogs with probably more customization. So you would pay and sign up to submit your own community app to iOS and Android app catalogs. Your users will have an app only for your community vs a “community” app like tapatalk where they will download the IPS app and find your connected community within the app, as well as other communities they want to access.

Yes, I know that. My question is how hard is to replace a logo and provide necessary data for Apple Store and Google Play.

To further explain my question - what else than changing a logo does a user need? What kind of customization? I personally need only logo, and as I said, I'm not a programmer, but I don't think it is too hard to change a logo.

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5 hours ago, opentype said:

There is soooo much more to it than just changing logos. But I wouldn’t know why this should be discussed here under a blog post. The multi-platform app will come first and IPS has acknowledged to explore white-label versions later on. That’s what’s going to happen. It doesn’t need further explanations, let alone justifications. Especially since the blog post itself already covers that. 

I don't know. For the third time - I'm not a programmer. That is why I asked where is the problem and why not just change logo.

I understood what they wrote and and what's going to happen, but as a paying customer I have a right to ask.

I see that you are a client, not a representative of this company, so there is really no need for this somewhat rude attitude towards my questions.

If they didn't want me, or anyone to post under this comment, then they would've turned off the comments.

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Plus by posting comments the IPS customers who are more interested in the white label app displays their interest. Some members on here are very rude and pig headed. Just add them to your ignore list.

You are right All that would be needed to submit the app to apple is, change IPS branding if needed, pay apple £99 for a developer account and submit the app. 

A dedicated app for our board would make a positive impact for our community. 

 

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1 hour ago, Nehaj said:

@bfarber, is there any info when will this app be released? I know it comes probably with 4.5, but can you give us approximate time? Q1 2020? Later?

Thanks!

After seeing IPB release patern for years and years, 4.5 is going go be released Q1 2020 for sure

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Unless it allows ad integration, we wont be using it.  Indeed deploying it would destroy our business model completely.  Possibly we'd consider it as a subscriber feature for those that have paid not to have ads in their forum experience.  But, as with tapatalk, this isn't a development that as a forum admin we were either looking for or would want to implement.  

The key issue for us would be the ability to block users from browsing our forum using the invision app, to ensure that the ad revenue we rely on doesn't get obliterated.

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