Test-Drive iOS Apps With Pieceable Viewer

Pieceable, a San Francisco-based startup that is trying to make it easy and inexpensive for non-technical publishers to create their own mobile apps, launched a neat viewer today that lets you test-drive apps in your web browser.

While Amazon showcased this ability for Android apps in their new store, so far we haven’t seen a similar service take shape for the iOS ecosystem.

For developers, there aren’t any code changes needed. Developers just build their apps for Apple’s iOS Simulator and upload their .app files to Pieceable, which will then host a web-based version at a shareable web address. There are plenty of possibilities with this — developers could use this to pitch to clients, investors, the press and the public at large. It could be a channel for acquiring new users, who will better remember an interesting app from a blog post or website and download it later.

While this isn’t Pieceable’s main business model, the company is taking a freemium approach to it.

A free version gets you one app and up to one simultaneous viewer. But the app link also expires in an hour. The basic version is $30 a month and gives you five applications with three simultaneous viewers. The pro version is $60 a month, supports an unlimited number of applications and 10 simultaneous viewers. The company says UIKit based applications work best. OpenGL and MapView-based content isn’t rendered but it runs.

Pieceable was founded by former Loopt mobile developer Fred Potter, who worked on the location-based social network’s apps on Blackberry, Android and the iPhone. He’d been working on the company on his own since January of last year and recently joined i/o Ventures’ incubator after working out of Dogpatch Labs. Co-founder Chris Stewart came on in December.

The Viewer is a side project. Pieceable’s main focus is allowing people without technical know-how to turn their content into apps. It has an easy WordPress integration that can convert sites into mobile apps. We saw a precursor to the Viewer a few months ago that gives users a desktop preview version of their apps.