So you have a killer idea for an iPhone app, but when you describe it to people they just don’t get it. Maybe you have a client that is a visual thinker and needs you to draw it out for him. That’s when wireframes, mockups and stencils can be your saving grace.
There are many different types of tools available to developers, from low-tech stencil kits to high-tech collaborative software. So I’ve rounded up a few of the more popular ones people are using specifically for iPhone development. It’s far from being the definitive list, but it’s definitely a good place to start.
Low Tech Solutions
[singlepic id=385 w=150 h=100 float=left] Notepod is a notepad shaped like an iPhone. Each notepod is 100 pages of 60 x 110mm double sided paper. The front has 52mm x 77mm blank space (the iPhone screen), the back is a 6mm grid.
iPhone UI Stencil Kit
[singlepic id=390 w=150 h=100 float=left] The iPhone ui stencil kit is a stainless steel, laser cut stencil kit for drawing quick mock-ups and wireframes for iPhone apps. It also comes with a Zebra mechanical pencil.
iPhone Sketch Pad
[singlepic id=393 w=150 h=100 float=left] The iPhone Sketchpad works precisely with the iPhone Stencil Kit, with one phone silhouette on the front side and three on the back.
[singlepic id=394 w=150 h=100 float=left] The App Sketchbook has 50 Double-sided, perforated pages each with 3 actual sized iPhone templates. Each page also has has 20px ruler markings and a ruled section for notes.
MetaSpark’s Fireworks Vectors
[singlepic id=395 w=150 h=100 float=left] A collection of vector iPhone UI elements for Fireworks CS3 and CS4.
320480 Stencil PSD file
[singlepic id=372 w=150 h=100 float=left] Most iPhone screen elements, sensible layer sets all contained within one PSD file.
Graffletopia Stencil Kit for Omnigraffle
[singlepic id=375 w=150 h=100 float=left] Graffletopia’s stencil kit for Omnigraffle. It is for quick sketching of iPhone ideas. Use the outline for printouts so you can hand sketch as well. The symbols are meant as a check list for included features in your app development.
[singlepic id=383 w=150 h=100 float=left] MockApp is a set of iPhone ui templates and library files put together for use in Powerpoint or Keynote.
[singlepic id=378 w=150 h=100 float=left] This is a plug-in to browser Mozilla FireFox for prototyping interface of iPhone applications for creating an iPhone mock-up. Currently Alpha – not compatible with FF 3.55.
[singlepic id=386 w=150 h=100 float=left] Pencil is a free and opensource tool for making diagrams and GUI prototyping. Pencil runs on the Mozilla Gecko engine, turning the Firefox browser into a sketching tool with just a 400-kilobyte installation package.
[singlepic id=392 w=150 h=100 float=left] This plug-in combines Fireworks with some jQuery and PHP to give you a prototype you can not only view, but interact with, directly on your iPhone, just as if it’s a live app.
[singlepic id=382 w=150 h=100 float=left] Liveview is an iPhone app that consists of two parts: the ScreenCaster and the Application itself. ScreenCaster launches a simple iPhone skin on your Mac. From the same network, launch the LiveView app in your iPhone. Whatever the ScreenCaster is highlighting is now seen in the LiveView App. It also interprets touches as mouse clicks, turning it into a two way interactive prototype.
Web Based Tools
[singlepic id=384 w=150 h=100 float=left] Mockingbird is a web based mockup/wireframe tool built using the Cappucino framework, so there’s no flash to wrestle with. While you can’t actually design your mockups from an iPhone (who’d want to?), the tool does have some very handy features. You can drag elements onto the screen, create multiple pages, link to other pages and share directly from the web.
[singlepic id=397 w=150 h=100 float=left] Pidoco is a web-based tool that lets you create clickable wireframes via drag & drop ui and then collaborate with remote users on each project. The tool also includes iPhone stencils.
[singlepic id=377 w=150 h=100 float=left] iPhone mockup is a web based tool that is currently in Alpha release only. You can design your mockup as a hand sketch or illustration, and mockups can contain user-uploaded images and user-entered text. Your mockups will be accessible via url so they are unsecured.
The developer makes this perfectly clear and warns that he could discontinue hosting mockups at anytime, thereby deleting any work. That makes this a handy tool for quick and dirty mockups you want to print or share with someone on the fly, but not for much more.
[singlepic id=388 w=150 h=100 float=left] Protoshare is a collaborative, web-based prototyping tool that helps teams visualize requirements for interactive projects and work together in real-time. It has an iPhone component that can be seen here.
[singlepic id=379 w=150 h=100 float=left] With iPlotz you can create clickable, navigable wireframes to create the experience of a real website or software application. You can also invite others to comment on the designs, and once ready, you can then manage the tasks for developers and designers to build the project.
[singlepic id=374 w=150 h=100 float=left] CogTool is a general purpose UI prototyping tool simply using a storyboard of your design idea with sketches, images or on a canvas. Demonstrate tasks on that storyboard, then press a button to produce a valid cognitive model predicting how long it will take a skilled user to complete those tasks.
[singlepic id=373 w=150 h=100 float=left] Balsamiq mockups is desktop software that is designed to help teams or clients collaborate on wireframes and mockups. There are iPhone specific controls included.
OmniGraffle is award winning diagraming mockup or graphic design software. Combined with Graffletopia’s iPhone stencil kit, this software is a great addition to any app developers toolbox.
[singlepic id=381 w=150 h=100 float=left] Justinmind prototyper allows you to create fully functional wireframes for mobile applications and generate your HTML high-fidelity wireframes.
[singlepic id=380 w=150 h=100 float=left] iRise for iPhones gives developers a way to quickly prototype the look, feel and behavior of Apple iPhone applications through pre-defined visualization widgets and templates that can be quickly assembled into a high definition mobile applications.