Taking ideas in your head and turning them in to working iPhone apps is a daunting process even for those with the coding knowledge to get the job done. If you don’t speak Xcode, it’s far more difficult. But a new Mac app called Prototypes is making it easier for non-developers to share their ideas in a more concrete form.
Prototypes allows an app creator to drag-and-drop static images, be they Photoshop or Illustrator files, JPEGs or other image files, and then to add navigation connections between those screens, so that a tap on one leads to another. Once the creator is satisfied that all the links lead to the right places, she can run a demo of what the live app would look like in Prototypes itself. But if she really want to get a feel for how it will look on an iPhone or iPod touch, Prototypes still helps.
The app creator can share her prototype app with anyone she wants (client, software developer, family and friends) at any time by uploading the project to the web. Prototypes will provide a link, and instructions about how to install the Prototypes web app from that link, to anyone the creator chooses via email, as well as a pin the recipient enters to retrieve the specific app mockup.
The people a creator share the app with can then use the demo as a web app on their iPhone or iPod touch. The links the app creator specified when she created the app will respond to finger taps, and then people can see how the finished app would behave on an actual iOS device.
The Prototypes app isn’t without limitations. Users can only create screens in the portrait orientation, and iPad resolution isn’t yet supported (though that’s coming soon, according to the developer). Also, note that once someone uploads a mockup, it will only be available for 30 days, after which Prototypes clears it from their servers to free up space.
Prototypes is very easy to use, and especially handy if you’re somewhat capable in Photoshop but hopeless around code. As an example, you can see the start of the app I created in just a little less than an hour in the gallery below. If you want to test it out, navigate to ptyp.es on your iPhone or iPod touch and enter PIN 2668 4595 to try the live version. Note that it doesn’t do very much right now, and that it will expire 30 days after this post goes live. You can also try an official demo created by Prototypes by using the PIN 1467 5639 instead, and that link will never expire.
The Prototypes app isn’t cheap at $39.99, but if you don’t have a coding background and you need to convey pretty much exactly how an app should look and feel, there are few solutions that are quite as easy or affordable.