Pieceable Lets iPhone Devs Showcase Apps in a Browser

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IPhone developers have a new tool to showcase their apps for a wider audience. Using a new product from Pieceable called Viewer, developers can now publish their apps on the Web, allowing PC and Mac users to test out apps without the need for an iPhone.

Pieceable Viewer doesn’t require major rework of an app by developers. Just add a line of code and upload it to Pieceable, which then sends back a link to the app on the web. Viewer uses Flash to create a full version of the app available through a browser. You can see an example of the Yelp app with the Viewer treatment here.

Viewer provides consumers a chance to take an app for a spin and see if it’s worth a download. It also allows developers to share their app with investors, clients or press, and lets them get feedback from other developers on betas. Currently, iOS developers can share an app with up to 100 people for free, but it requires getting a user’s UDID information and issuing a provisioning profile.

There are examples of this on Android. Bluestacks recently showed off the ability to run Android programs in Windows. Amazon Appstore for Android also allows users to test drive apps on a computer using Flash. But this appears to be the first time iOS apps have received the same treatment.

It’s another example of the convergence of mobile and desktop, something my colleague Kevin wrote about recently. We’re seeing more examples of the line between the mobile and desktop blurring. Mac OS X Lion is incorporating iOS like features while HP later this year plans on shipping PCs that can run webOS apps. Microsoft also has plans to use Windows 8 to serve computers, tablets and phones.

Pieceable Viewer will be available under a freemium model. Developers can get one application and one simultaneous viewer for free, with an app link that expires after one hour. For $30 a month, you get five applications with three simultaneous viewers and no time limit. And for a $60 pro account, developers can upload as many apps as they want, have 10 simultaneous viewers running with no time limit on links.

Pieceable, whose main business is a simple platform for mobile app building, said most iPhone apps will work in Viewer, though OpenGL and MapView based content will not be rendered and will supported in a later version. Also, iPad applications will need to wait for a later version before they’re supported in Viewer.

I’ll be interested to see how developers use Pieceable Viewer. Though I can try out iOS and Android apps on my own devices, I wouldn’t mind if developers shared a web version just to get a quick sense of the app. For some paid apps, it would also be a good way to give consumers a brief glimpse at the app to generate some interest that could lead to a purchase that otherwise might never have happened.

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