This morning Time released a list of the 50 most influential gadgets. The list is comprised of things we couldn’t live without, things that changed the way we viewed the world around us, and even gadgets that were never successful but made an impact regardless.
Here are some of our highlights from the list – with an obvious mobile focus:
#39 – Oculus Rift
It’s interesting Time cites a new and untested product on the list of most influential. A sign of things to come? Actual time will tell.
#37 – Motorola Dynatac 8000x
We are app developers, of course we are going to think the first real cell phone is pretty cool. And at $4000 it’s amazing to see how this device went from being exclusively for the rich, to the pocket of the everyman in 30 years.
#36 – Palm Pilot
Without the Palm pilot where would today’s smartphone be? It was the first extremely popular hand held computer.
#34 – Nokia 3210
The first cell phone without an antenna (gasp!) and games! Where would we be without Snake?!
#24 – BlackBerry 6210
Email in the palm of your hand, and a phone? Revolutionary.
#20 – Motorola Droid
The phone that made Android a player in the mobile market. This phone, released in 2009, is the one that caused the rift between Apple and Android.
#15 – Nintendo Entertainment System
Ok it’s not a phone, but it’s probably the most influential gadget of my childhood, so I had to include it. It was just so cool.
#1 – Apple iPhone
Did you expect anything else? But it wasn’t the design alone that makes the iPhone top this list, it is the software and ability to download apps has revolutionized our phones. And we all know the future of apps is just getting started!
This morning an interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is trending, not because of the wisdom and insight it reveals, but because it reminds us all that everyone starts somewhere. And sometimes that place is a beer drinking frat-like office.
The video shows a young Zukerberg in 2005 drinking beer and explaining what Facebook is. It’s amazing to hear what his vision is for the website, and realize how it has grown to be a worldwide phenomenon since then.
Check out the video below for yourself, and spoiler alert, there is a keg in the office.
One thing that struck me is what the equivalent of this could be today. It is absolutely not going to be a website. Realistically, it is going to be an app. Even Facebook is basically an app now, in fact 47% of Facebook’s users ONLY login to Facebook using a mobile device. Also, Facebook’s mobile user base is consistently growing faster than online.
I certainly can’t imagine anyone creating a website in 2016 that is going to revolutionize anything, in fact it seems almost archaic. However the mobile app market still feels like it is in its infant stages. Who knows what new projects created by beer drinking frat boys will go on to revolutionize the way we use apps 10 years from now. And maybe, just maybe, that beer drinking frat boy will even be you.
App development is a new field for many businesses and entrepreneurs, and the process can be complicated with the wrong developer. Clients need to understand their project inside out and backwards. Sometimes along the way there are warning signs that the app development is going off the rails, and often times clients and developers alike ignore these red flags until it it too late, and the project ends in disaster.
Here is a list of warning signs your app development is headed for trouble. This list looks at everything from the hiring process to the client’s role in the development process. We hope these warnings will give you peace of mind during your development, or help you get out of a bad situation if you recognize any of these red flags!
Is your developer a ‘Yes Man’?
One of the biggest signs you are dealing with someone with little knowledge about app development is when they agree to everything you want. While it might feel good to you at the start, app developers with experience will know the limitations of their skills, as well as the industry’s requirements. Of course you don’t want to be arguing with your app developer all the time, but if you get no push back at all, this could be a warning sign. Questions and concerns from your developer show true commitment and a desire to truly understand your project.
Is your developer an established business?
Many freelance developers can talk the talk, but when it comes down to the app design, development, and follow through, they can’t deliver. It’s tempting to hire a freelancer because they are more budget-friendly, but what you may not realize is you are likely paying them to learn the ropes. One person alone is very unlikely to be skilled in all aspects of app development which include design, coding, analytics, project management, content writing… the list goes on and on. Hiring a full team at an established business gives you a range of people and skills all contributing to your project.
Can the client make a decision?
The client needs to have a clear vision of what they want, down to the finest detail. Without this, the project is destined to go over budget. If the client is a group of people, all the parties need to be on the same page for all aspects of the app. These internal discussions should be done on the client’s own time, so they are not paying to hash things out during development meetings. Internal conflict is a huge warning sign, as it will drag a project on for eternity, and increase costs and time expectations drastically.
Does your developer have references?
If you ask your developer for references they should be able to provide you with a document detailing past/current projects with the ability for you to contact a few customers. No references is a huge warning sign.
Does your developer have published apps?
Ask for a list of published apps, or actually take the time to explore their portfolio. Download these apps. Test them out. Do you like the look and feel of them? If your developer has no published apps to review you may be in for trouble.
How detailed is your quote?
A huge red flag is a developer who gives you a cost and time quote without knowing the full scope of the project. How many modules or pages does your app require? What features are important to you, and what does the design look like? Your quote should include every aspect of your app, or it won’t be correct! No matter how experienced the app developer is they can not give you an accurate quote without knowing your vision for every aspect of your mobile app.
Does your developer outsource design?
If a company doesn’t do app design in house, but rather outsources this part of the development process, get your spidey senses going. This is a warning sign that your app development may be headed for trouble because the amount of control the company has over the project is limited.
Does the client constantly change their mind?
Planning and developing one thing and then asking for something new is a big red flag that your project is headed for trouble. Often during the development process clients will start looking at other apps as a comparison, and then want a feature that app has. The issue with this is your quote will be based on the information your developer had at the time of your project. Once work has started on one thing, asking for something new could mean your developer needs to start from scratch. This is fine if you weigh out the hit you will take for cost and time setbacks, but if you are on a tight timeline and budget, these kinds of changes could lead to serious trouble.
If you feel like you are getting the runaround from your developer, and any of these red flags ring true, there are options. You can move your project over to another developer, or you can hire someone to look at your project and consult with your current developer. Don’t feel like you have to stay in a bad situation when you are unhappy and not getting the results you want.
If you have a mobile app it is imperative you assess the data of your users. This not only gives you valuable marketing information, but also alerts on possible roadblocks and bugs in your app. Google Analytics is free, and provides a central platform for gathering data, reports and offering analysis. If you are new to Analytics there is a lot to learn about the program, however some information is easy to assess and get started with.
First, you will need to set up an account, and once you connect your mobile app some information will be obvious and easy to digest. At first it will be amazing to see how users engage with your app, but as you get more adept with the program you will have a whole new world of data at your fingertips which, with time, will save you money and attract more users to your mobile app.
Below are just a few of the ways Google Analytics can improve the performance of your app, improve your marketing campaigns, and increase monetary gains:
Measuring New & Active User Metrics
Information such as location of your users and which device they use might not seem beneficial on the surface, but simple bits of information like this can benefit your business in many ways. The New and Active User metrics will be the easiest section for you to assess when you first look into Google Analytics.
Discovering which platform the majority of your users prefer can help you make a business decision about creating a native app for either Android or iPhone, and looking at geo-location data can help you learn about the best ways to market to your target audience. It is also possible to check the monetization from one device compared to another, and assess if a technical issue is possible with your app on a specific platform, causing revenue loss.
Choosing A Monetization Model
Data gathered from Google Analytics can help steer you towards the correct revenue stream for your mobile app. There are three main models to monetize apps:
Paid App Downloads & Subscription Based Models
In App Advertising
In App Purchases
Monitoring Your App Revenue Stream
In Google Analytics you can create a measurement plan to assess the success of your monetization model. In this plan you should define your key objectives in order to understand if your marketing goals are successful or not. You will be able to see what user actions are converting into the most money for your business, and where the user actions are costing you money. You can also monitor they type of payment used and time taken for transactions.
Finding App Bugs
Google Analytics creates a ‘Crashes and Exceptions’ report which gives you feedback on the performance of your app. Data on crashes is automatically created, but you can also define specific alerts to monitor issues or screens you might be focusing on. The data on these errors can then be broken down into groups in order for you to assess where the issue might be arising, and how much money it is costing you based on user conversions.
Measuring Effectiveness of Marketing
When you use Google AdWords or AdMob, a report is created in Google Analytics that can show you the success or failure of your campaign. By analyzing this data you can target your efforts more precisely, and save your business money by aiming your campaign on the correct market.
Attracting New Users To Your App
When you use a combination of AdWords and Analytics, you can use reports to identify high and low value users, meaning you will discover who is spending money in your app and who is not. With this information you can seek new high value users, who are the people likely to engage in and pay for your product.
Using reports such as ‘Screens’ in Google Analytics gives you the opportunity to watch where your users are exiting your app. It can help you assess a problem with the flow of your app, or an issue with a payment process. You are also able to see when most users who aren’t spending money are leaving the app, and with that information try to create a way to keep them engaged longer. You can use this data to entice them to make a purchase. For instance if users are often exiting a game at one level, possibly the level is too difficult and you need to adjust the complexity so they stay in app longer.
Once you get more familiar with Google Analytics you will be able to set goals for your business. Goals will most often lead to a monetary conversion by a user, and by tracking funnels you set, you can see where your user is getting confused or contrarily where their usage is most often turning into a sale. Goal setting requires some additional configuration, but the value you will get out of it is worth the extra effort.
As you can see assessing analytics is a powerful tool, and helps you find ways to assist your business in achieving its objectives. Whether it’s adapting your app’s performance, narrowing your target market for advertising, or focusing in or monetary conversions, Google Analytics can benefit every user. Even with minimal effort some data will be useful to the average person, but if taken seriously and given some extra effort, the data gathered can convert into a better user experience and higher revenue.
10 Questions to Answer Before Developing a Mobile App
Can you explain your app in 30 seconds? If the premise is too complicated, try to narrow the focus. You can always expand your mobile app, or develop a new one, once the main aspect takes off and you gain a user base.
2) Do I Need A Custom App?
Some app development companies have affordable app templates that may fit your needs. The cost will be significantly less, however a subscription fee is likely and you will not own the source code. If you business requires something simple a turnkey app may be the way to go.
3) What Platform Should I Choose?
The platform you choose for your app really comes down to a business decision. iPhone, Android or Universal? Native apps cost more but provide an amazing user experience. Universal apps reach a broader range of people, but will likely need to be re-developed once a large user base is established.
4) How Do I Choose a Developer?
Narrow your choices and interview a few mobile app developers. Ask them to provide you with a breakdown for all modules incorporated into your app. Get a cost and time quote. Review their portfolio and go with your gut!
BE WARY OF A DEVELOPER WITH NO PUBLISHED APPS!
5) What is the Potential Competition for the App?
Have you done extensive research for mobile applications with a similar premise? Ensure you find out how many users they have, and what the likes and dislikes about the current apps on the market are.
6) What is your USP?
Your app doesn’t need to be a completely unique idea, but it should have a unique selling point. What sets your mobile app apart from the competition? What will make people want to use your app over the others?
7) What is My Budget?
Quality does come with a cost. Ensure you know what your budget is for your mobile app, and talk with your developer about what to realistically expect within your app in return for your set budget. Have a bit of a slush fund for unexpected changes as you begin to see the app take shape..
8) What is the Visual Design of My App?
Do you have logos and a color scheme designed already? What is your taste when it comes to graphic or simple design? Where do you envision the placement of the buttons and menus on your app? It is a good idea to have all the visual aspects of your app thought out before development begins.
9) Do I Need a Wireframe?
Are you presenting your mobile app idea to investors or partners? Wireframes are visual representations of how a user will interact with your platform. Beyond the visual, wireframes are a resource to have the feasibility of your design and function tested before development begins. It is a good idea to have your developer draw up a wireframe to ensure your idea is technically sound.
10) What is My Marketing Plan?
Developing the app is just the start. Without a marketing and media plan, your app may not be seen by your target market. Start your mobile app marketing plan when you are still in development. This way you have a game plan when the app is complete, and you can hit the ground running.
The Dismal Personal Support Services on Mobile Devices
I recently came across an article that highlighted the need for our mobile devices to provide better mental health and emergency situation support for those in need. I put these insights to the test, and posed a series of questions to Siri, to see what her response would be.
I told Siri I wanted to commit suicide. At first glance it looks like she provides me with relevant information for a suicide hotline, but when I clicked on the link provided it was a Wikipedia page for an electronica music EP. Shocking.
I then told Siri that my husband hit me, and asked her what I should do. She didn’t understand the question.
Lastly, I confided in Siri that I was depressed. She comforted me (I guess?) but did not provide any resources for further help.
So why does all of this matter? Why should a phone be expected to have resources for people in dangerous and isolating situations? Because often times people dealing with these issues have no one to turn to. They feel scared, embarrassed, or cut off from the world. Being able to confide in ‘someone’ you know won’t judge you or tell your secret could help save a life.
Mobile platforms need to realize the life altering potential these devices and programs can have on someone in need. Having a resource in the palm of our hands is only as good as we make it.
One local Calgary company is attempting to do their part in providing a safe place for people to talk about mental health issues. FoveoCare is a brand new app designed to connect people with the mental health support they need in an anonymous environment. It also creates a group space where people can share their challenges and success stories to help and inspire others.
While we applaud FoveoCare for creating such a wonderful platform for people struggling with mental illness, and know many people are going to benefit from its ingenuity, we also hope that the big players make some much needed changes to the core of their mobile personalities.
If you are contemplating suicide please click here to find a crisis centre close to you.
To download FoveoCare please search the Google Play Store.
With thousands of mobile apps competing for a user’s attention, how does yours stand out from the crowd?
Acquiring app users can be tricky, but if you set yourself up for success, and make a game plan, you will be prepared for the business of marketing, and feature your app to a very captive audience.
Beta Launch and Pre-Launch Users
Do not expect things to be perfect at the start. Once you are ready to launch your mobile app, do so on a beta platform, and get feedback from your users. This is some of the most important knowledge you can gather, so pay attention and transfer that information for future app users. Have a large mailing list of possible app users ready, so at launch time you have eyeballs on your product. Create social channels ahead of time, and invest in growing your following.
If your platform requires interaction, and a user downloads your app and finds nothing going on, they will not invest their time. Creating the in-app activity to begin with is not uncommon, in fact some very big names in the online world, including Reddit, did just that. Spend the time making that interaction interesting and valuable to the user, and you will not only acquire more app downloads, but user loyalty.
Narrow Down Your Target
Start your marketing campaign on a micro audience. Many successful apps or platforms began with a niche market or area. Don’t feel like you need to be worldwide from the get go. Focus on acquiring app users in a very specific section, respond to that growth when needed, and adapt your strategy from there.
Blogging increases your visibility online and brings people closer to your product. It creates awareness of your brand and can make you be seen as an active resource. Don’t get lost in only writing about your product. Target your market and give content they would be interested in. You never know what possible new user you will draw to your app with interesting relevant posts.
App Design and Performance
You can not underestimate the importance of the user experience within your app. The look and feel must be seamless. Acquiring app users with a buggy or counter-intuitive interface is almost impossible. Invest time in finding the right developer, and plan all aspects of your app before starting development.
Social Media and Organic Marketing
Word of mouth and a natural excitement in your user base is imperative to an app. Make it easy for people to share your product by adding an easy rating feature and share option within your app.
Acquiring app users requires paid advertising. Extend your marketing over a wide variety of networks, not just one or two areas. Think about not only paying for adverts on social media, but also creating a feature video, or acquiring an endorsement. Be broad at first, because different networks are going to speak to different people.
App Analytics & Tracking
It is imperative to track and follow your user’s habits. Get to know your users likes and dislikes. Adjust your strategy based on this data. Improving your platform will not only help you acquire more app users, but keep them engaged.
With the recent reveal of the LG G5 and Samsung’s Galaxy 7 and 7 Edge, we got talking around the office about what trends we predict in Mobile phones for the near future.
With the recent reveal of the LG G5 and Samsung’s Galaxy 7 and 7 Edge, we got talking around the office about what trends we predict in Mobile phones for the near future.
Last year was the catch up year for Apple, creating their first large format screen years after being introduced by Samsung. But big screens won’t be what people are soon interested in. Kimmitt expects the 70-75mm screens to be the desired size of the future. This size is the perfect ratio of visibility and comfort for holding. It should be interesting to see if this prediction has any clout when Apple launches the iPhone 5se in March and iPhone 7 later this year.
Not only does this trend give users built in two-factor authentication, but it creates a faster user experience and of course, looks pretty cool. Expect to see fingerprint sensors galore as new phones emerge.
Say goodbye to the micro USB. Soon all mobile devices will charge via USB-C, and you can expect the technology to stay around for many years. Kimmett does not expect to see the iPhone 7 integrate the USB-C, purely because they don’t want to risk pissing off their user base again. But based on the fact that the new Macbook 12 and the new version of the Apple TV has it already, you can be sure Apple will be switching at some point. In three years time you can expect every device to be using this technology.
As far as design goes, expect to see more unibody frames, as in one solid piece of aluminium, like the recently revealed LG G5. This will provide better durability and no flex, which protects the important contents of the phone.
MORE PHYSICAL BUTTONS
It seems lately phones are reverting back to physical buttons and away from a full on touch screen model. The LG G5 features a physical camera shutter button, but Kimmett suggests we can expect to see more buttons for volume, power, and even notifications on the body of our future mobile devices.
Maybe one day we will create the perfect algorithm for the perfect phone, and there will be no way to improve it. Whatever the mobile future holds, it sure seems like old trends will become new again no matter how advanced we get.
The oh-so controversial people rating app ‘Peeple’ launched today, after months of delays due to ‘ethical tweaking’, for lack of an existing term for such a procedure. The Calgary-based app is sure to shine a spotlight on our fair city while people test it out and get a feel for the new platform. But what kind of longevity will this app really have? And how will it be received?
A ton of controversy has surrounded this app, and I get why people are upset about Peeple, but I don’t really feel too bothered about it personally. I guess that could all change if I was totally slagged off on the app myself. Regardless I took the plunge and tested out the app today, and I have to say it has some flaws.
The app basically renders itself useless if there isn’t a large user base. With all of the international publicity it has had I’m sure this will pick up, but as of right now it’s fairly weak. On top of this, the functionality of the app fails in ways as well. I got stuck on a search feature with no way to exit unless I entered something in the search bar, and because none of my facebook friends are currently using the app there is really not much to do, unless you are posting a recommendation. I just wanted to be a voyeur, I assume, like most people. It also seems like Peeple is trying to do a bit too much by adding a ‘dating’ feature. The focus is blurry.
To me, the main appeal of online reviews has always been finding honest feedback, good or bad. Peeple’s ethical tweaking has taken that away by giving users the ability to reject a recommendation if they don’t want it showing on their profile.
Peeple has addressed this obvious flaw with a feature called the ‘Truth Licence’ which will be available to purchase in the near future. The Truth License will allow you to see ALL the recommendations left for a person, not just the ones they approve. Yes, this essentially negates the ethical tweaking the app underwent to calm the masses. It seems when you cut through the layers and look at things a bit closer, the delays on releasing this app were likely because they were trying to work out a way to entice users to pay, rather than to protect user’s reputations.
The founders of Peeple – Nicole McCullough and Julia Cordray
Lets face it, unless you have a very guilty conscious or are using the app for negative purposes I can not see anyone buying this ‘Truth License’, and in order for the app to really work, EVERYONE would have to buy it because that is the nature of online recommendations and reviews. And then there is the big elephant in the app… why the hell would I sign up for this and put myself out there for everyone to rate?
I think there is one big question remaining to the people up in arms about online reputations being damaged because of this app. What prevents someone from adding a fake account, and approving reviews on that account? Peeple says their Terms and Conditions clearly outlines this is against the rules, and that may be so, but it certainly doesn’t mean that rule isn’t going to be broken. They also say any user can be reported, but what if the person whose identity is hijacked and placed on Peeple isn’t even aware their profile exists?
People, yes you REAL people reading this review who are against Peeple… please listen. I really don’t think you have to worry about this app doing any harm. You are giving a product with no real tangible following far too much credit. The updated premise, future pay structure, and fairly boring user experience is just not going to work. Focus your energy elsewhere because, without changes, this app will be dead in the water before you know it.
Apps are HUGE business. Consider this: last year 100 million apps were downloaded from the Apple App Store, and over $40 billion has been paid to app developers since the innovations conception. But all of this means nothing without the marketplace to sell them. And Apple has a giant monopoly on that exact market.
Did you know that until recently the ‘Best New Apps’ section of the iOS App Store was only being updated weekly? I know half-assed food bloggers that update their content more than that! It might not sound like a super big deal, but think about what that meant for the lucky few selected apps. Their product was exposed to millions of eyeballs because Apple only refreshed the list on Thursdays, while thousands of other new apps received zero views because no one knew they existed.
It was discovered recently, and seemingly confirmed by Philip Schiller on twitter, that the App Store has started to refresh the ‘Best New Apps’ section daily. And with this small simple tweet by the Worldwide Marketing SVP for Apple, even more changes were insinuated.
Well hallelujah! Finally someone might actually see the potential the App Store has. This monolithic online marketplace that makes buckets of money actually has the ability to do so much more than it is currently. It’s amazing what a simple thing like updating the exposure opportunities for new apps can do for developers and users alike. Apple has so much power in their hands, and it looks like they may have finally realized that what they have been doing with their App Store is outdated and in massive need of overhaul.
It should be exciting to see what Philip Schiller and the Apple team unveil in the next year with the iOS App Store. You can bet, as avid mobile app developers ourselves, we will be watching.
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