I get a lot of e-mails daily, most of them the usual snore-worthy PR mailshots from the App Store big boys .. and of course (well, at least most of the time), these are about upcoming games and apps for the iPhone itself. So, it was refreshing this morning to receive the heads up on a new completely open-source project from iPhone development studios Edovia and FutureTap.
Originally a Canadian-German co-production between both firms, InAppSettingsKit is an open-source project which allows iPhone developers to place settings in-app, as opposed to hiding them away in the iPhone OS Settings.app.
Edovia and FutureTap admit there has been extensive discussion among the iPhone community about which option is better. Do you oust your app's settings to Settings.app and hope the user finds them successfully, or do you opt for the in-app route and risk cluttering your once streamline app with a bunch of settings most would only use on the rare occasion? According to Edovia and FutureTap, there are quite a few reasons in-app settings should be considered.
- Settings.app becomes a total mess with longer load times
- If only in Settings.app most users simply don’t understand the mechanism and miss the settings
- A context switch is needed to switch between settings and the app. If on the 16th screen, this involves quite some tapping and flicking.
- In-App settings can instantly change the behavior of the app
Sure, in-app settings are popular. After all, What's better than to be able to edit the global settings of an app, without having to leave the actual app? We've seen a slurry of the big name apps take this approach. Including the likes of Twitterrific, AIM and more recently, Tweetie 2 .. among others.
What's interesting about this project is, as a developer, instead of having to choose one route and ultimately having to accept the consequences via user feedback, it proposes a new outlook on settings for iPhone OS. Dubbed 'Hybrid Settings' the settings are place in Settings.app sure, but they're also available in-app too, providing the best of both worlds - and don't worry about visual consistency of your settings either, using the kit your in-app settings will look just like as if they were pulled straight from Settings.app.
"We’re proposing a second approach that we call “hybrid settings”. In this model, the user has the choice: the settings are available in Settings.app. But they’re placed in-app as well. That way, every user can decide where to edit the settings. The in-app settings are a 100% clone of the Settings.app style."
Developers can find out more about the project at InAppSettingsKit.com - and if you have an app and you've recently added the InAppSettingsKit to it, the guys at Edovia and FutureTap want to know. Add yourself to the list at: inappsettingskit.com/apps.