Developers working on iOS applications have had a bit of a dilemma regarding app demos and beta testing. Getting a prerelease or ad-hoc version of an app out to testers' devices can be complicated, expensive or both -- although services like Testflight and Hockeyapp can streamline the process if needed.
For marketing, many devs have used a short video to try to get across the key points of an app, while others use the freemium model to let users give the app a try before purchasing full functionality through an in-app purchase. They could also choose to not create a demo and use word of mouth and a good website to explain their app.
Kickfolio, launched in December, is an innovative idea for developers who want testers to poke and prod or potential purchasers to try before they buy -- a fully functioning version of their app available in streaming fashion over the web.
Kickfolio's service is quite reasonably priced. Developers get a private testing page for their apps, and for public access they pay by the number of embed sessions that are required -- in other words, how many times an app is accessed through a site other than Kickfolio. Prices start at US$9 per month for an unlimited number of apps and 500 embed sessions, on up to $69 monthly for unlimited apps and 5000 embed sessions. Enterprise plans with no cap on the number of embed sessions are also available upon request.
To get the app online, the developer simply uploads the binary to his or her Kickfolio account. The embed is immediately available on the testing page, and can be dropped into any website in seconds. For customers visiting the website, the iOS app shows up onscreen with an "interactive demo" badge encouraging the user to touch or click on the demo app. From that point, the user is essentially working with a live version of the app. A small cloud icon provides the user with a way to share the app's iTunes App Store address via email or text message.
The embed uses HTML5 and CSS, keeping Flash completely out of the picture. The resulting embed can be viewed and used in any modern browser, and response time is excellent -- a test of the RunKeeper app on the Kickfolio website was quite usable over an LTE connection on an iPad or iPhone.
For developers, Kickfolio is a wonderful way to let potential purchasers or beta testers try an app.