Prototyping tools for iPhone apps
July 31, 2014 11:33 AM   Subscribe

I am doing a class project for which I need to create a high-fidelity prototype of a mobile app idea. The final assignment in the class is going to be user testing of the prototype. What I'm looking for is a prototyping tool which will allow me to easily create screens with native iPhone widgets. It needs to be high-fidelity and as interactive as possible. And it needs to be accessible on the web. What are the tools that you use? My full requirements are within.

- Must produce a prototype that is available on the web (in a desktop browser) and interactive.
- Must be able to produce high-fidelity images, not just wireframes. Balsamiq is not enough.
- Must provide images of native iPhone 7 widgets such as buttons, date pickers, alerts, etc. These don't have to be fully interactive, i.e. you don't have to be able to change the date and then have it be automatically reflected other places in the prototype. These can be third-party libraries if they're easy to include.
- Must not require back-end programming.
- Must be quick to learn and easy to use - I am not now nor have ever been an app developer, the point of the class is the interaction design and user testing.
- Nice to have: Be able to produce something you can download to a phone and run fullscreen.
- Nice to have: Free, free trial of at least 30 days, or low-cost and easily canceled. It's possible that I will not have another reason to use the tool later, so I don't want to invest a lot.

Is this a total unicorn? I have looked at Axure (seems to be a lot to learn for one class project), WebFlow (no widgets, is built for responsive websites rather than apps), InVision and MarvelApp (looks like you create screens in PSD or whatever and the service just links them, so no built-in widgets), FluidUI (only ten screens in the free version), PhoneGap (requires SDK and programming), and others.

It seems like my best bet might be to use the free PSD file with all of the widget images, create the screens as images, then use InVision or the like to link them. But I'm hoping for a bit more.
posted by expialidocious to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Axure. It fulfills your requirements. It seems like a lot, because you're asking for a lot. But it's easy to get the hang of and there's a lot of documentation online. And presumably you're taking this class because this is something you're going to need to know how to do in the future. Now's a good a time as any to learn it.

There's an app called ProtoSee that you can get to run the Axure prototype on your phone that simulates it as a native app.
posted by bleep at 12:07 PM on July 31, 2014

Best answer: Seconding Axure. There are a lot of widgets you can download to save you time, and you can even run the same prototype files on the iPhone from the web, such that it will appear as a native app. (Launched from a home screen icon)
posted by oxisos at 1:46 PM on July 31, 2014

Best answer: Thirding Axure. It does seem like a lot to learn, but there are a lot of resources. I initially picked it up for a two-week class project & later used it to prototype an iPhone app for my interaction design thesis. I ran my prototypes on an old iPad & iPod Touch so that they appeared as native apps. As oxisos mentioned above, you can accomplish this by exporting it without the sitemap and launching it from a home screen icon.

I use it all the time at work now and I'm glad I made the effort to learn it in school.
posted by kiripin at 12:50 AM on August 1, 2014

UXPin seems to be the new hotness for prototyping
posted by Sharcho at 10:07 AM on August 1, 2014

Response by poster: OK, I was prepared to be skeptical, but Axure really is all that. The free trial will get me through the end of class, and after that if I want to continue I qualify for an EDU discount.

UXPin looks good too - as do all the others I mentioned, in different ways - but I've gone all in with Axure for this project. I actually kind of hope I get to use it again for work.
posted by expialidocious at 9:17 PM on August 6, 2014

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