At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), a new programming language was announced. A programming language is a language that allows a developer to construct an application. With a language developers can communicate with the device hardware to get it to perform tasks for us, like getting the user’s location using GPS, or display things to the user. The language used for iOS development up to this point has been Objective-C.
Objective-C is an old language. Originally built in the 1980s, Objective-C is an extension of an even older language, C. Although Objective-C was groundbreaking for its time, it has aged significantly since it was first introduced. Apple has attempted to keep it up with the times by adding features from other modern languages. But such patchwork solutions can only take a language so far. At some point a clean slate is required. Swift is that clean slate.
The Swift programming language is a composite of ideas and concepts from other languages. It’s core foundations are safety, readability and conciseness. The increased safety involves enforcing rules that prevent errors and crashes. With better readability the code is easier to follow. This is particularly useful when a programmer has to look at somebody else’s code. Conciseness is closely related to readability. A language shouldn’t be too concise, as that can hurt readability, but it shouldn’t be overly verbose either. Swift attempts to find a good middle ground between the two. If the language is too concise, it becomes to difficult to understand what any particular statement is doing because it encapsulates a large amount of behaviour. Too verbose and the language becomes hard to follow.
One of Swift’s most important features at this stage in its life is its interoperability with Objective-C. Apple has written a large number of their frameworks (collections of code that developers use to help them build software) in Objective-C. Developers outside of Apple have also written frameworks to help each other write software as well, almost all of them written in Objective-C. It is critical that Swift work with these frameworks in order to allow developers to write the best software in the least amount of time.
Swift is a well designed language. Many of its smaller details are still in flux, and it is in fact still changing. But its core foundations are strong and it’s ready to use today by developers today.
I have started reading a book titled Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders. I’ve been enjoying it immensely, but found myself falling for two “book learning” traps.
1) Getting excited for a book because it agrees with your worldview
When I read the preface – which was by an author and leader whom I respect very much – I immediately fell in love. This wasn’t like those other management books which contained facile stories and analogies where everything turned up perfectly rosy in the end because people shared their feelings.
This book acknowledged that management and leadership is difficult because humans are complex creatures, and as a group they form an extremely complex system. This matched my experience and my view, so I was immediately going “Yes, yes. Of course! This book is brilliant!”
I hadn’t even started the actual book yet, but I was already excited because it conformed to my beliefs. I had to consciously take a step back and reset my expectations. I wanted to learn from this book, so if it just tells me things I already know or believe, why would I read it?
In this case, rather than setting it aside and finding a book that challenged my worldview, I realized that my worldview was largely anecdotal and experience driven, and this book promised some science and logic behind it. So I’m going in not because it agrees with my worldview, but because I want to understand it better.
If it wasn’t for that, there would be no point reading the book except to nod in agreement with the author and not actually learn anything.
2) Preaching a practice you have not tried to implement yourself
I also found myself ready to start holding the “truths” in the book to be self-evident. Well, self-evident to myself, but not to others. I now had to help spread the word of truthiness to the others. But I had not yet actually put any new practices to the test. How could I recommend or preach something I hadn’t tried myself?
Clearly, the person(s) who wrote the book practiced and implemented it, so learning from that is paramount. Not every experience needs to be personally repeated to be valuable.
But until you’ve experienced the good and bad of any system or technique – and they all have good and bad sides – you should not be holding it as the One True Way™. In fact, once you’ve experienced it for yourself, even if it worked well, you’re unlikely to hold it as the One True Way™ because you have seen the good and bad of it.
You now hold experience and there is no substitute for that. Experience is what allows you to better understand and tailor ideas to your situation. Often, things are more complex than they seem, and blindly following someone else’s experience can be a recipe for failure.
Looking back on this, I’m not sure these are only book learning traps. They’re simply life traps that we experience in our quest to grow. As long as we’re aware of them, we can gain a step as we keep improving ourselves.
I’d like to tell you about an app that will make your life a little bit easier. It’s called Out of Milk and I use it every day.
Out of Milk is an app that coordinates your shopping, grocery and to-do lists in one place. The app is currently available for Android mobile devices and will soon be available for the iPhone. Also, once you have an account you can update your lists on any computer. I’m currently using the very full-featured free version of the Android app but there is also a Pro version that can be purchased for $1.99 that will give you a few additional ways to customize the app. In addition to pros such as widespread availability and low cost, I find Out of Milk really easy to use and feel comfortable recommending this app to any level of user.
A quick run-down of the things I use most in Out of Milk:
create your own custom lists – for example, create a to-do list for each project around the house, or a separate grocery list for an upcoming camping trip
reorder the items in a list – this is a quick drag and drop and is great if you’re like me and find it helpful to order your grocery list based on the route you usually take through the store so you can lower the chances of going back to an aisle that you were just in
add and manage categories in each individual list – I keep one main shopping list and have categories for each of the main stores I shop at (Co-op, Walmart, Costco, etc)
add reminders to to-do list items
add comments, quantities, and prices to shopping list items
Saving the best for last:
My absolute favorite feature of Out of Milk is that you can share lists with other people so they’re also able to see and edit them from their own mobile device or computer.
I find this especially useful if my husband is picking up a few groceries on the way home. This gives me a way to pass along all of those little details without overloading him with information on the way out the door in the morning. (Although I would never do that.) Another useful scenario – if he knows that I’ll be picking up groceries later that day, then he can add items to the shopping list throughout the day and my phone will automatically sync with the latest information so that I have the most up-to-date version of the list I need with no extra effort at all!
Of course, we still occasionally get home from a shopping trip and realize that we’ve forgotten one obvious item that wasn’t on the list, but because Out of Milk allows us to always keep our lists with us (who doesn’t have their smartphone with them everywhere they go these days?) and we can both add items to lists with ease, those days are rare and the overall shopping experience has been much more efficient.
I was excited this month when CTV asked me to find the coolest health apps for July’s app segment. Here are the 3 apps that I reviewed:
Developer: Fitocracy, Inc.
One successful technique in mobile app development is gamification. Gamification applies game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more engaging and fun. Fitocracy has taken the gamification concept and applied it to their mobile app to take your fitness routine to another level! With Fitocracy you track your workouts to earn points which unlock achievements. When I went into this app for the first time it helped me to not only set up my profile with my personal fitness info (height, weight, age, etc) but it also had a pretty nice little tutorial which guided me through the app. I will admit I needed this tutorial as the app was a touch confusing at first. Once I started exploring the app it all became much clearer! One of the cool things about this app is that you can build your workout. It has hundreds of exercise to chose from which include a detailed description and a nice quick video demonstration. Once you complete the exercise you record how many reps you completed and enter in the weight of your dumbbells (dependent on the exercise of course). You will level up with points from completing the exercises. When I finished my first workout (which was a 60 minute 5km walk) I received 113 points for and 1 Quest. Another way this app keeps you engaged is by adding a social element to it. You can share your progress through the app with other “Fitocrats” or through your own social media networks like Facebook. Overall this is a nice little app that will keep you motivated to get or stay in shape!
Free for iOS
Developer: Cardiio, Inc.
What a handy (and surprisingly fun!) app! Cardiio measures your heart rate by simply placing your finger over the camera! The app will then give you insight into that your heart rate numbers mean. Cardiio will also tell you what your fitness level is based on your heart rate and you can calculate your endurance score. A cute little surprising feature was the fun facts that popped up while the app was taking your heart rate! It takes about 10 seconds for the app to produce your heart rate and during that time it shows you about 5 interesting facts about you heart and heart stats across the globe. Definitely a handy app to have on hand to make sure your ticker stays in tip top shape!
Developer: Glow, Inc.
Glow is a tracker for your menstruation and ovulation cycles. Glow takes a woman’s menstrual cycle and gives accurate, personalized predications of the their most fertile window and future period dates. Glow can help you avoid pregnancy, prepare for pregnancy and of course help conceive by predicting exactly when ovulation will occur. The app has nice little reminders and fun suggestions to help improve reproductive health nd fertility. A really nice feature is the ability to print off your historical data for your doctor. This app also has a great tutorial when you set up your profile for the first time. For those trying to preparing or trying to conceive I would defiantly recommend this helpful and thoughtful app.
Hope you enjoyed these three health-related apps! Stay tuned for our August App Segment on CTV Morning Live!
Push is excited to welcome a guest blogger to our blog. Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. He currently resides in the Southern California area and spends his time helping consumers and business owners alike try to be successful.
Tablets are perhaps the most exciting computing platform available today. Manufacturers are scrambling to come up with faster, sleeker, more visually spectacular models that will make their tablet the next big thing. Industry watchers are looking closely at the slate of tablets to be released in 2014 and making their predictions as to which one will come out on top. Here is a look at three contenders and a pick as to the likely winner:
Google Nexus 8: Scheduled to be released around July, this Android-based tablet will be running Android 4.5, which has yet to be officially named. Specs are still hazy at this point, but the tablet is said to be powered by the newest Intel 64-bit mobile chip, the Moorefield.
Intel has been working hard to earn a place in the booming mobile chip market, and the Moorefield represents their most impressive offering to date. It is a quad-core, 64-bit chip that runs at 2.33Ghz, which should make it an instant leader in its segment. Add in the improved graphics power and the ability to work with faster memory, and the chip should help make the Nexus 8 a mobile powerhouse.
Rumors surrounding Android L hint that it will improve speed, lengthen battery life, and use a non-compiling app system that translates code to machine language upon installation. This should help to make processing faster while at the same time using fewer computing resources. It will be interesting to see how mobile app developers utilizes these new features.
LG Tab-Book 2: Many tablets have taken to incorporating physical keyboards into their design, and this device from LG is no exception. Rumored to hit stores later this year, the Tab-Book 2 utilizes a sliding hinge to roll out the keyboard from under the tablet. While this is not new, the LG version of this setup seems to have succeeded where others have failed.
The tablet slides out smoothly and can be locked to avoid accidental opening. Like most products from LG, this feels quite sturdy and is relatively slim considering that the chief version sports an Intel i5 chip. The Tab-Book 2 will be running Windows 8.1, which Microsoft hopes will foster interest in Windows-based mobile computers. There are plenty of business people and Microsoft loyalists that have been waiting for a serious non-8.0 version of Windows that will handle all PC applications.
While all the hoopla surrounding the purported “fixes” of version 8.1, only time will tell if consumers are willing to embrace a Windows-based tablet that can serve as a true notebook replacement. Users looking for such a machine may will find that the Tab-Book 2 satisfies every need.
InFocus New Tab F1: Attempting to not get lost in the shuffle, the folks at Firefox have come up with a tablet operating system, and the F1 will be the first tablet to run it. While the platforms of iOS, Android, and the Kindle OS are the main mobile operating systems available, there is a market for an inexpensive tablet running different OS, providing it is simple and quick.
While it is still early, the Cortex A-7 processor should easily power this 10-inch tablet. Specs are still slim, but there are a sizable number of tablet aficionados who don’t want to spend the money to buy an iPad and who are disappointed with Android-based tablets. If the F1 and subsequent Firefox tablets prove popular, they may carve yet another niche in the already crowded tablet market.Conclusion
Each of these three tablets has something unique going for it: The Nexus 8 will feature the latest version of Android, the Tab-Book 2 will be a Windows 8.1 powerhouse, and the F1 will introduce an entirely new operating system to the tablet world. However, when push comes to shove, the Nexus 8 will likely dominate the pack in 2014 due to its combination of price, power, and usability.
I was at a BBQ last month and I posed the question to all of my friends “What is the app you use most often?” 3 out of the 6 people said “8tracks“. Intrigued I got them to explain what this app was about and why they loved it so much. I downloaded it the next day and fell in love instantly! There is nothing that I love more in this world than music, other than actual human beings in my life of course! But this app gives me something that I haven’t found in other apps yet; the ability to type in descriptor words and have playlists suggested. I also love the fact that I am exposed to so many different artists and up-and-comers that I wouldn’t normally hear on the traditional radio or through other radio apps. So if I feel like listening to something “sleepy” and “bedtime”, No problem! 8tracks has something to suggest to me. As I am writing this blog I explored playlists tagged with “Inspirational” and “motivational”and am listening to a great mix of songs from an album called “Tough times don’t last; tough people do”.
“8tracks is internet radio created by people, not algorithms.” Users make online mixtapes with 8 or more tracks. You can then customize your album by adding a title, cover art and tags. And what would this app be without the ability to share your awesome mixtape with your friends? Your mixtape will also be shared with the 8tracks audience.
If you want to just listen to the music you can do so by searching for playlists “for any mood or occasion, from every genre and country”. The best thing about this app is finding playlists that exactly match your mood. The playlist will also tell you how long the playlist is in minutes and how many songs the playlist has. This is especially nice if you are doing something for a set amount of time like going for a run for 45 minutes or driving in the car for 60 minutes, etc. Once your playlist has played all of the way through you will see a list of all of the songs played, you won’t see a list beforehand though due to 8tracks’ music license. You also can’t replay a song once it has been played or skip through too many songs. This doesn’t bother me too much though because if I want to hear a song again I will just play the playlist again and it will eventually play again. This inability to select songs and replay favourites has also forced me to be more open to new music, genres, etc.
I am always intrigued to learn about the team that built my favourite apps and through their website I found out that 8tracks was founded by David Porter in 2008 and developed by a small team. Congrats to your team on a very successful music app that i’m sure brings a lot of joy!
Threes! is one of the winners in the 2014 Apple Design Award, it rose to the 25th spot on the top grosing apps list on the App Store. This slick puzzle game was released on February 6, 2014, the point of the game is simple, players must slide the numbered tile on a grid to combine addends and multiples of three, until there are no moves left on the grid.
One of the best features in this app, is the tutorial. The useful tutorial demonstrates the simplicity of the game, it teaches you which tiles can be combined together: “Blue” (1) and “Red” (2), but the “White” (multiples of 3) can only be combined by the same numbered tile. As soon as I finished the tutorial I was instantly hooked on this wonderful game.
Each white tile has a unique face or personality at the bottom, by personality I mean when a “six” tile is side-by-side with another “six” tile, they would greet each other = very adorable. When two white tiles are combined to introduce a new tile, the game will make a special announcment of the tile with a name and small introduction about the tile.
Threes! is available on the App Store for $0.99, 33.3333% off for a limited time! For our American readers, the app is currently free at Starbucks as its App Pick of the Week.
Have you ever opened up your phone for the 100th time to dial someone and wished there was an easier way to quickly call them or send them a standard text message? Well one of our clients came up with a great idea that allows you to create phone short cuts by tapping or gesturing pre-set taps and gestures.
With the Tap App you save time by creating customized short cuts for your favourite mobile activities. You can create your customized gestures (taps or patterns) and program these gestures to call or text someone, email someone, or even activate a voice recording. For example, you could program a heart shape to be your unique symbol to call your special someone. Or if you often find yourself texting “On my way home!” you could use a tap sequence to bypass the hassles of unlocking your phone, opening up your message centre, finding the contact in your phone and finally typing out and sending the message. The app gives you the control to set your special gesture that will save you time!
The cool thing about how Tap App was created is it is completely customized to the user. You set your own tap pattern or gesture and set a custom label which will be displayed whenever you perform the gesture. The app also allows you to set the level of accuracy that the gesture must be performed at, making it even more secure and customized. The app also has a guided tutorial that will take you through the app the first time and show you how to set up your gestures and taps.
It is becoming more common for apps to support sharing to social networks, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+. The major smartphone platforms have been integrating these social networks deeper into the operating system. For example, Apple’s iOS platform has system-level support for Facebook and Twitter, providing an easy way for apps to share out to the social networks.
But why? Why should apps share out to social networks? If you’ve spent any time on these social networks, you know that the steady stream of app-based posts can get annoying pretty quickly (and no, I will not help you with FarmVille, so stop asking).
Though some apps may have overused social sharing, there are legitimate reasons why apps should support social sharing. When done well, social sharing can increase use of your app by allowing your users to express themselves through your content, as well as providing an avenue for their friends to learn about your app.
Your app is a social network
There is a large class of apps that form small social networks within the app. For example, the whole point of apps like Instagram, Happier, and GasBuddy are to create and post content to the app user groups (whether that be pictures, moments in your life that made you happy, or your local gas prices). In these apps, sharing is essential to the success of app, but this kind of sharing is typically done only within the app’s social network, not out to the larger social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
“Progress” as bragging rights
Turning from social network-like apps, when is social sharing an important feature that should be included, while not being annoying? One kind of app is where sharing could provide people a way to brag about some progress. This one is overused, and quickly becomes annoying. People are often really proud when they finally passed that level on Candy Crush, but sharing this every time to Facebook will quickly fill up your feed, and cause your friends to start to ignore you and the app. This is particularly bad, because any of their friends who might have otherwise downloaded your app out of interest are now completely turned off by your app.
There is one kind of bragging rights that is more appropriate. Apps where social pressure or encouragement are useful, such as charity donation apps or fitness trackers, make better use of social sharing, though they should be infrequent and only for large goals. For example, after meeting your goal weight, that would be a great milestone to “brag” about to social media. In addition, this is great advertising for your app, as people were able to use your app to meet their goals, encouraging their friends to try it out.
Another good use of social sharing is through a rewards system, though again, it should be used sparingly. For example, apps where sharing a product review to the social networks may provide bonus “points” you can use to purchase more products. This can be easily overused though, such as in Candy Crush, where you can ask your Facebook friends to help you skip a level.
Tell others about your app
Probably the best use of sharing to social media from apps is the “tell others about this app” feature. If you have a really great app, people will spread the word through word of mouth with their friends. People will probably just talk about it, and may not use a “share” feature from your app for this use, but if even a very small percentage of your users do, this is essentially free marketing for your app. This kind of sharing is not difficult to build, so the cost is likely worth it even if it is only used a couple times. Why not make it as easy as possible for your users to market your app for free?
Previous apps have often overdone sharing to social media, but there are legitimate uses of social sharing that can increase your app usage. When done correctly, social sharing increases your app’s reach by being publicly shared, and can increase people’s positive feelings towards your app when people see their friends successfully meeting goals through the use of your app.
Smartphones, tablets and apps have changed people’s lives. How they interact with each other and how they interact with information has fundamentally changed by these devices in the past few years. A new class of devices have come out called Smartwatches which also has potential to have an impact on this as well.
With the recent leak by Apple that they are working on a Smartwatch (iWatch) and the recent releases by Samsung and others of smart watches which don’t require phone connectivity in order to offer great features it is becoming clear that smart watches will be important in the future.
How important remains to be seen of course and nobody can know for sure until a product hits the market and either gained wide acceptance or not. The current version of Google Glass has been in its current form for awhile and hasn’t been a hit for various reasons including social aspects about the device. However, Smartwatches such as the Pebble offer many of the key features that Google Glass had but without the social costs of wearing a device on your face. Smartwatches will be constantly connected to the internet, can receive voice commands and now run Android. The main benefit of the smart watch is it offers quicker access to information without having to take a phone out of your pocket you can get access to notifications and information. For example to be able to quickly glance at an incoming phone call or text just by turning your wrist rather than having to take your smartphone out of your pocket. To know if you want to answer a phone call or ignore without having to take the phone out of your pocket or to even be able to respond to a text without having to take your phone out of your pocket. It is clear in the future that doing things like payments using smart watches may also be possible meaning that you will no longer have to take your wallet out of your pocket to make a purchase. It is coming the only question is will it be adopted.
Really its access to instant information just like the smart phone offers you but is in a quicker access format. Of course you may never want to write long Facebook post on your smart watch but being able to glance down to see the most recent discussion or other information such as sports scores, bank balance or notifications of an upcoming meeting may offer real value. Specifically it offers even quicker access to information than is available on the smartphone and without the social stigma of something like Google Glass.
Push Interactions is already a registered SmartWatch developer and we have already started working on our first Smartwatch app. Even since we recently started developing for smartwatches the technology has changed making it easier to build. With the developer support and manufactures releasing smart watches it is becoming clear that there is a real potential for Smartwatches. It is a technology to keep an eye on.
Smartwatches are coming. In this new frontier remains to be seen if SmartWatches will live up to their potential. However, the potential is certainly there.
Earlier this week I revisited a previous blog post of ours where we discussed the top 6 ways to market your mobile app. Now the original blog post was written in 2012 so I thought it was important to update our blog with some new ideas!
In part 2 of this series I will discuss some new ideas and show some examples of how our own clients have utilized these marketing tips:
A great way to show your expertise and share information is through blogging. Start by considering what topics are relevant to tie your blog and app together. Next consider what pictures or info-graphs will enhance your written blog content. One thing to remember is to write your blog like you would a diary, because in its most basic form a blog is really an online diary. By using a first person voice you can connect with your reader and make sure your blog doesn’t come off too ”salesy”. Keeping your blog updated with new and fresh content is a great way to engage new and current users of your app.
Pinterest is a growing and powerful tool for anyone who has developed a mobile app. If you have written blogs that include pictures you can post them to Pinterest where others will re-pin your unique content! Remember Pinterest is all about pinning visually appealing content. A great example is Cindy and Jana of NuuNest’s Pinterest Page below. They not only pin their own blog content with interesting and beautiful photos but they also pin others content to ensure their boards are filled with useful information for new parents (their target market).
Running a contest is an another effective way to get your app in front of new users. Promoting your contest on social media is a good way to get the contest in front of your new and potential users. Cindy and Jana asked their users to take a short survey with questions about their experience using NuuNest and then drew a winner for a $25 prize.
“If a picture is worth a 1,000 words then video is worth 1,000 pictures.” ~ author unknown
Video is an extremely effective way to promote your app. Start up a YouTube page and include an app promotion video and other videos that will compliment your overall brand. With every app that we develop we make an app tour video that you can use for promotion or to build your own video around.
Word of Mouth
Last but not least I needed to mention word of mouth. This is often the most powerful form of marketing. Every opportunity to have make sure to mention your app and people will eventually start to download it. If your app is well made and provides some value to the user they will most likely tell their friends about it.
I hope you have enjoyed these app marketing methods and that you will find that some of these suggestions fit with your communication plan. This list is not by any means comprehensive, there are certainly many other ways out there but I wanted to mention some of the free or less expensive ways to promote your app. Good luck with your app marketing!
One of my mentors at Apple used to say to me “With Infinite Time and Infinite Resources an Engineer Will Produce Nothing”. I believe this to be true. This is because given infinite time and infinite resources an engineer will build and rebuild the same project over and over again. Each time better using new lessons they learned and new materials and techniques that have become available. For example they will build the equivalent of a bridge then a new type of steel will come out. Well they want to use that new type of steel so they would tear down the bridge and build it again with this new steel. Or perhaps a new technique for building bridges is found that is better. They will tear down the bridge again a second time and rebuild the bridge again and so on. Each time the bridge is better than the last bridge but the construction never truly ends. In the end the bridge is almost never usable by actual commuters because it is always under construction.
Producing Quality Software is always a challenge. But in order for Quality Software to be Quality Software the software needs to be used by customers, that is it needs to ship. Or to use Steve Jobs phrase “real artists ship”. This means it needs to be shipped to a client in a certain amount of time while it is still relevant to the client. Or often to meet a deadline where it is meeting a client needs. Meaning that the engineer is time constrained on a project and resource constrained as well since no client has infinite budget.
Because software development and software engineers are always constrained by deadlines creating Quality software is always a challenge. It is always a series of tradeoffs and choosing the best alternatives available given non-infinite time and non-infinite resources to build the project. We want to produce quality but are constrained by the world in one way or another.
A lot of young engineers and even young teams believe that if they follow a certain process this alone will produce Quality Software. They may in fact be correct that in their case. But creating Quality Software is about more than a process. It is about a mindset and a personal responsibility that is taken to heart. This mindset is more important than the system in that it trumps the system because with this mindset an engineer will always look to improve and will improve the existing system over time. The systems have changed greatly from decades ago when developers used to work on the software still used in banking transactions today, everyday, but they managed to create quality back then with the same even though they didn’t have all the features of modern compilers and other systems available. It is about taking that personal responsibility to heart and using every opportunity you have as a engineer on a time and resource constrained project to produce the best quality you possibly can.
It is a mindset that leads the software developer to take that extra time to make sure everything is correct and they are trying to improve the quality of projects over time. To every time you touch a project if its possible to actually improve the quality of the code so that the project is always better off after you have touched the project then before. For the engineer to take extra time to test every possible scenario and to check that the solutions they are using will work and are the best solutions possible within the constraints. As engineers We are always contained by deadlines and time available to work on a project but its about maximizing the value and benefit to the user. Always remembering that the customer or user (not you) is the ultimate decider of what is quality. Since it is their money that will buy the product and their reviews you will see posted about your products.
This is why creating quality is about personal responsibility. Taking every opportunity available to try and improve the project you work on, the code you write, the project being worked on as well as improving yourself as a software engineer. Steve McConnell one of the lead engineers on an early version of Excel recommends programmers need to read books every year to improve their craft and improve as engineers. I agree with this and its all encompassed in a mindset that leads to continuous improvement of yourself, your code and the projects you work on over time. So that quality continually improves over time. Quality software can only come from within.
It is about really doing your absolute best to make sure that Quality Software is being created every time. The Quality Software that can only come from within.
In December of 2012 we wrote a blog posted entitled “Top 6 ways to promote your mobile app“. One of the most common questions I hear as the marketing person for our company is “How should we market our mobile app?” I thought this was an important blog topic since it is such a popular question. In Part 1 I will be discussing the previously mentioned points and expanding upon them with new comments and examples from the apps we have developed. In Part 2 I will give you even more tips and tricks for marketing your app!
Lets start off by reviewing the Top 6 ways from the previous blog post:
1. Publish a promo page on your website and link to it from your home page.
- Reach: Website visitors
- Good example: Affinity Mobile
Since we posted this blog post we have begun offering a complimentary promotion page for every app we develop. Here are a few examples of the site we develop for your app:
2. Issue a joint press release with CollegeMobile through industry, local, or national news sources.
- Reach: Target demographics
- Good example: itracks Mobile
Issuing a joint press release is still a great idea as it garners attention and can really drive up the downloads on your app. When NuuNest launched their app they released a press release and managed to get a large number of downloads right out of the gate, which earned them the spot of “Top paid iPhone Medical App” for that time period. Being a top paid app means you have more exposure on the app store which is definitely a desirable outcome!
3. Post on all company social media pages. You could either send them to your website or directly to the app store(s).
- Reach: Social media fans and followers
Using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ etc, is still an extremely effective (and cheap!) way to gain exposure for your app. In Part 2 of this series I will dive deeper into exploring YouTube and Pinterest!
4. Create print materials, such as posters, brochures, etc. if you have a storefront. Include QR codes with links to the app store(s).
Good example: Affinity Mobile brochures, promotion on retail monitors, promotion on ATMs, promotion on retail LED signs
If you have customers that you have direct access to, print materials are always a good idea. Print materials are one of the oldest forms of advertising and can be quite effective when used in conjunction with other more technologically based communication methods.
5. Ensure that you have written a detailed description for the app store(s).
- Reach: All visitors of your app page on the app store(s)
When a user searches on the app store for an app that serves their need the first thing they will see is your app icon. If your app icon catches their eye and they believe your app may provide them what they need they will click it for more information. At this point you will need to have a description that knocks their socks off. It is important to keep your branding, messaging and wording consistent across all communication channels, including the app store. Remember, the app store if often the only touch point you have with your potential users.
6. Utilize Smart App Banners on iOS 6+ to direct mobile users from your full site to your app. This simply requires one line of code on your website’s HTML and we can help you with that.
- Reach: Website visitors from iOS 6+ devices
If you access our portfolio from your iPhone, you will see a little banner at the top where you can directly download that particular app. We can also help you to put this one line of code on your website so this banner will show up if anyone is looking at your website from their iPhone.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog where I will discuss new and exciting ways to market your app!
When I was thinking of my favourite apps this morning I scanned my phone but for some reason passed right over one of my most frequently used apps, HauteLook. I think I passed over it because I thought “Well this app doesn’t improve efficiency, or teach me something or provide a service, it just gets me to spend money!” Yet I engage with this app every single day, so even though it is a “shopping app” I think it still deserves some definite props!
So let’s start with a quick overview of what this app does. HauteLook is an iPhone, iPad and Android app and a website that allows you to buy discounted merchandise. Nordstrom acquired HauteLook in 2011 and it has since become a place where shoppers will “discover the top fashion and lifestyle brands at amazing savings.” Once you sign up for free you will find the app interface organized neatly into 5 categories: Women, Men, Kids, Home and Beauty. I tend to shop mainly in the “beauty” section because it often has brands I can’t find in Canadian stores. Every day at 8 AM pacific time, the deals are updated so there is always something new to look at. The main reason I check it every day is to view the new deals that have just been posted.
I have ordered from the app 3 times now and have found the process to be very easy. Once you make your first purchase the app safely stores your payment information so you can purchase items with ease the next time. There is a downside that I have found: for Canadian shoppers there is a $10 shipping and handling fee and it often does take several weeks to actually get to me. That being said, even with the $10′s in shipping I still get the products for a great price compared to what I would pay at a regular price. Also there is a section that will tell you what orders you have placed, when they have actually shipped, and the tracking code for your packages.Visual APPeal
Another great thing about this app is its visual appeal. The app is well laid out with beautiful images that entice you to explore everything. Once you select a category, like women, men, etc, it is organized by brand. Once you have selected a brand to explore you can choose a product and see product photos and a great description of sizes, colours, etc. Their comprehensive explanations of the products is what has always enticed me to actually make a purchase. It is often hard to tell colours and textures of makeup and beauty products online but they try as hard as they can to give a full description so you know what you are purchasing (and I haven’t been disappointed yet!).Final thoughts
The app also has a nice “Filter” feature so you can filter your view when you are searching for something in a specific size, colour, etc.
One feature that I wish would be available for Canadian’s is the “Home” section. We can view and browse all of the products but I have yet to find a product that actually ships to Canada. Maybe sometime in the near future!
Overall this is a great app for shopping enthusiasts. I am not much of an online shopper, in fact I think I have purchased only half a dozens items online in my whole life, but this app is changing that for me. It makes me comfortable when spending my money over the app and I am very happy with the quality of brands they have and the products have never disappointed when they arrive! I can’t wait to see what other great brands and beauty finds I score on this app in the future!
If you watched Apple’s Keynote address at the WorldWide Developer’s Conference earlier this month, you could be forgiven for coming away a little disappointed. Apple did not announce – as many had hoped – a new phone, a new product line, or even any updates of their current products. They did unveil OS X 10.10 Yosemite and iOS 8, but even these reveals contained little that was earth shattering to the casual observer. No iWatch, no iPhone 6, no iPad 2, and no Apple Television. Nothing for gadget lovers to get excited about.
If you find yourself in the ranks of the disappointed, then read on: I’m about to tell you why Apple could be about to hit a Grand Slam.Changing The Game
If you follow baseball, you know that the grand slam home run can be one of the most match-altering plays in sport. When a batter smashes a pitch over the wall, scoring four runners – the most possible in baseball – the game is almost decided then and there. At least, that’s the way it appears.
But have you ever considered the work that play took to set up? At least three separate players have to get on base, with singles only. This takes time, precision, and a lot of luck.
Let’s have a look at three of the ‘Singles’ Apple announced at WWDC:HealthKit
We’ll start with a simple one. We’ve heard the rumours that Apple wants to introduce a biometric-reading watch. The iPhone 5S already includes the M7 motion co-processor, storing up to the past 7 days of your movement. It can tell the difference between running, walking or driving, and can be easily used to collect your calorie burn rate for the past seven days. Many apps already use this information to help us stay on the right side of our appetites. However, there is no centralised location where this information is stored.
Google learned about this the hard way, with their Google Health effort. While well-intentioned, they weren’t able to get people to buy in to Google holding your health data. A centralized repository of your health information – rather than empowering people – made them uncomfortable.
Apple has learned from this. The HealthKit data lives on your phone, and is only shared with your explicit permission. This gives you control over your own data that Google Health just couldn’t match. Your phone will collect it, but won’t send it anywhere without your say-so.Resizable Simulator
Here, we have a seemingly tiny addition; Developers will now be able to change the size of the simulated window with which we test our apps. What does this mean? Quite simply, it means Apple is telling us that we have to start assuming that our apps could appear on a screen of any size. Certainly, this could point to larger iPhones, and iPads, as many of suggested thus far. But it will also mean designing apps for watch-sized screens, or even for dashboards in cars.
Another wrinkle; some very clever developers have discovered a hidden mode in iOS8 that allows users to run two iPad apps side by side. This would be another great reason for us to need a resizable simulator.Swift
Finally, no WWDC discussion would be complete without mentioning Swift. If you watched the Keynote Address, you heard thousands of developers whooping and hollering in their seats while the new programming language was being announced. Why all the fuss?
The fact is, Objective-C – the language most iOS developers use – is getting old. Its origins are a little fuzzy, but we can certainly trace it back to the 80’s and Steve Jobs’ NeXT, before they were acquired by Apple. Objective-C’s age means that it lacks a number of really useful concepts that modern software development is moving towards.
Swift goes a long way toward fixing that problem. It simplifies the code, provides developers with an array of powerful tools, and does this all without breaking compatibility with old versions of iOS. In other words, we’ll be faster and better at creating great experiences than ever.
Swift has also seen one of the fastest language adoptions in history; over 300,000 people have downloaded a copy of Apple’s book “The Swift Programming Language”, and it hasn’t even been released yet except as beta software!Bonus Single – HomeKit
HomeKit was by far the loneliest functionality announced at WWDC this year. Every other piece of functionality had something to demonstrate its value, except for HomeKit. It has potential though, to really change the way we look at the Smart Home, taking disparate tools from different vendors, and stitching them together via your iOS device.Loading The Bases
This isn’t the first time that Apple has done something like this. Cast your mind way back to early 2001. Steve Jobs had introduced the iTunes media player application on Mac OS 9. At the time, the CD ripping/burning and playlist-creating functionality was powerful, with Jobs enthusing: “You’ll be able to rip CDs, build a library, build playlists, play your music on computer, transfer your music to portable MP3 players, and listen to internet radio.” Everyone thought that this was a fantastic product, but Apple had greater plans.
In March of that year, at a small event, Jobs revealed the iPod. It may not have been a revolutionary device, but it was designed and built to work seamlessly with the new version of iTunes… that users had been primed with a few months before. Already familiar with ripping their CDs and building playlists, Mac users were now ready to take them on the road with iPod.
Well, with HealthKit and resizable simulators, Apple is now training us to accept having our health data in one place. They’re training developers to think about app interfaces that work no matter what size of screen they’re on. And with Swift, they’re finally getting serious about giving developers some amazing, modern tools to work with.
We don’t know what Apple will reveal in the coming months. But if WWDC is any indication, they are not planning a simple incremental update. Apple has loaded the bases; look out for a grand slam soon.
Every year, about 5000 people descend on San Francisco to attend Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Attendees get direct access to Apple’s software engineers, who are directly responsible most of the software that ships on Apple devices. They get to attend sessions covering various topics on how to build the best apps for iPhones, iPads and Macs.
In 2013, tickets sold out in under 2 minutes. This year, Apple opted for a more orderly system: Registered developers could enter a lottery to win an opportunity to purchase a ticket. Both of us were chosen, a rare event we discovered later at the conference where most companies there only had one attendee.
So we packed our bags and descended on San Francisco.
Sunday morning was the calm before the storm. We picked up our badges and our exclusive attendee jackets in the morning then spent the rest of the day walking around the city (and eating. A lot.)
Many people waited out all night to be among the first to get in a seat for the conference. We opted for sleep (sort of). At 6:45 am we arrived at the Moscone Centre to line that wrapped around the building. We still managed to get an awesome seat!
Parties and Gatherings
There are no shortage of parties and gatherings throughout the week! We managed to attend a few!
Monday: Crashalytics + Twitter Party
Amazingly creative and intelligent people + DJ + Apple themed cocktails (UICocktail, NSAssert & #WWDC Sangria in case you were wondering) = FUN!
Oh yeah, and flat screen demo stations for showing off apps!
Tuesday: NSHipster Pub Quiz
The NSHipster Pub Quiz took place in New Relics gorgeous office. Delicious food, craft beer, trivia, and the sweet, sweet taste of victory!
Wednesday: Learn, learn, learn
Thursday: Beer Bash
The Beer Bash took place at the beautiful Yerba Buena Gardens. There were samplings of food from pretty much every part of the world and an awesome performance by Bastille!
Friday: Learn, learn, learn
Well, that’s about it! We hope you enjoyed taking a peek into our WWDC experience! We look forward to sharing everything we learned with the rest of Push Interactions and using it to create even more innovative and awesome apps!
Oh yeah, and what would a conference be without snapping pictures with some cool people!
The next wave of digital devices look to be headed towards wearable technology, quickly moving from fitness trackers like the FitBit (http://www.fitbit.com/) to smartwatches like the Galaxy Gear (http://www.samsung.com/ca/consumer/mobile/galaxy-gear/). No one can predict the future, but we can all dream, so today I’d like to walk you through a fictional day with a smartwatch.
The sleek design of the watch is snug enough on your wrist that you don’t even bother taking it off at night. During the night, the watch was monitoring your sleep patterns, detecting when you are exiting a REM cycle (the ideal time to wake you up). Based on your calendar meetings for today, the watch starts gently vibrating to pull you awake. Because of that accident on the highway that will add an extra 30 minutes to drive, it starts to wake you up a bit earlier than usual. Your partner sleeping next to you works from home, so the watch gently wakes you without waking your partner.
You slide out of bed, triggering your coffee maker to start brewing your morning coffee. As you slip into the shower, one of your favourite albums starts playing and you start singing along, slowly waking up.
Entering the kitchen from your shower, you grab your coffee and add some cream, noticing you’re almost out. You tap your watch to bring up the grocery scanner, and scan the barcode of the cream, adding cream to your shared family grocery list (that your partner can access from their watch).
That traffic accident is still affecting your drive, backing up traffic for as far as you can see. Good thing you left early, but this sucks sitting in traffic. You tap a couple times on your watch to resume listening to your latest audiobook. Your watch pairs automatically with your car audio system, and you’re instantly immersed back in the fictional world. While in the fictional world, your watch blares a beeping noise and vibrates strongly, shoving you back into the real world. Good thing too; that lane-alert just stopped you from crashing into that delivery truck. Phew!
Focusing on the road now, your watch buzzes softly. Glancing down, you see it’s the office calling. Grumbling, you tap the auto-response button, which gives a dynamically created message telling the caller you are stuck in traffic on your way to work.
You get to work right on time, and stroll into your office. Your watch buzzes, and you see that your first meeting was pushed back to tomorrow. Quick tap to acknowledge the time change, and you sit down to start your day.
A couple hours pass and you lean back and rub your eyes. This client is getting to you. Glancing down at your watch, you see there’s a new picture message from your kid; he sent you his latest artwork from daycare. Smiling, you tap to start a video response and tell him how proud you are of his progress.
The longer you sit at your desk, the more sore your shoulders are getting. Your doctor’s been getting on your case about taking breaks. Thankfully, your watch detects your attempts to stretch quickly and starts forcing you to take real breaks: your monitor turns black with the message “time for a break”. You glance down at your watch to see your doctor’s picture frowning at you. Ok ok. Break time. Your doctor will be happy to know you are listening to their advice, and will have up-to-date health stats based on your activity since your last visit.
Heading to the vending machine, you tap your watch to open the payment app and buy an apple (it’s a futuristic vending machine, so apples are totally possible). You stand by the water cooler, enjoying your apple, when someone approaches you. You know her… what’s her name again… J something.. you think… Turning your hand towards yourself, the watch detects who is standing in front of you and displays “Jane”. Right! Awkward social experience avoided.
Packing up your bags, you head to your car. Walking up to your car, it unlocks automatically as it detects you getting near. You throw your stuff in the backseat and start the car. Your watch buzzes, reminding you to stop at the store on the way home. It shows the list of grocery stores you typically go to, with traffic patterns going to and from each. You tap the one nearest your house, which informs your partner you’re on the way to the store.
Entering the store, your watch gives you directions to get to each of the items on your shared list (skip the next aisle, go 2 aisles over). As you pick up items from the shelf, you scan them with your watch, adding them to your digital shopping cart. Holding a can of tuna in your hand, you glance at your watch to find nutritional information and recipe recommendations. Mmm, tuna salad; add the ingredients I need to my shopping list. Half way through, your partner adds pasta to the shopping list, so your watch loops you back around to the pasta aisle. When you have everything, you head for the exit. The smartwatch adds up the items in your shopping cart, automatically charging your credit card. As you approach the exit, the “cashier” receives your purchase receipt on their tablet. They peek quickly through your bags to see if you missed anything.
Turn Down Service
Arriving home, you see you’re the first to arrive. As you approach the door, arms full of groceries, your smartwatch signals the door to unlock and open automatically, turning on the lights. Your house is nice and warm, as it started heating when you left work.
Your partner and son arrive, and you head to the living room for some one-on-one time with the kid. Who needs a Wii when the watch can track your actual movements? We should be outside though: the summers are so short. Glancing at your watch, you see the Susan is at the park across the street with her son; awesome, let’s go run!
Can Smartwatches Even Do This?
The interactions I’ve described are totally possible; there are no technical limitations stopping us from building a world like this. There may be social problems though, with new technology adoption often coming only after a revolution in consumer attitudes. Smartphones are an excellent example of this: they had been around for years, but had very little adoption until Android and iOS came around and created a consumer product from a traditionally business-only product.
In the world I described, it sounded like the watch was the only digital product you had. This may be true for some people, but there is likely to always be a need for larger screens for consuming content, both video and text. I suspect that smartwatches will be a stepping stone technology. People will start to understand how to integrate technology into their lives as they did with the smartphone, which opens the doors for other wearable technologies like Google Glass or the Google Contact Lenses.
On Predicting the Future
I said at the beginning that no one can predict the future. That’s not entirely true. The people who know the future are the ones that are building the future right now: those of us pushing the edges of technology to create experiences that get out of the way, that integrate themselves into our lives, that create compelling and useful interactions throughout our days based on what we’re doing and what we’re about to do. Those of us creating the future have big dreams, and they are happening today. Stay tuned.
Kleiner Perkins is one of the most successful venture capitalist firms in the world. They have funded household names like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Intel among many others. They are a world-thought leader in predicting what is coming in the future, often because they are a part of picking the best ideas and helping to shape those ideas to maximum advantage. KP publishes its “Internet Trends” report yearly and they just released their 2014 report and it contains some interesting trends we thought we would comment on:
Rapid Tablet Growth
Tablet Growth is very high – growing at 52% year-over-year which shows this market is growing very rapidly and opportunities will increase in the future for the tablet market. In the future companies will likely not just think about making a smartphone app but a tablet app as well. Also, tablets are growing faster than PCs ever did in terms of adoption and that growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
Smartphone growth is very strong
Smartphone subscribers are still growing strong at +20% with fastest growth in markets like China. Smartphones are replacing non-Smartphones worldwide. This means Apps are becoming the norm of how users receive content. This is because smartphones users spend 86% of their time with apps (and growing) and only 14% on mobile websites.
Mobile data traffic is growing at a rapid speed of 81%, where video is a very strong driver of data usage. This is also driving cell providers to expand their data offerings to increase speed and data in their plans. The future is bright for mobile devices worldwide as connection speeds continue to improve making smartphones and tablets even better to interact with.
iOS, Android and Windows Phone are taking over
In terms of market share worldwide, it is clear that iOS, Android and Windows Phone are taking most of the market share. BlackBerry and other platforms are suffering in terms of losing market share. BlackBerry is refocusing on the enterprise which is probably a good idea the market share is listed below. Also, Android is dominating in terms of pure market share.
Mobile App Revenue Continues to Increase
App Revenues continue to rapidly increase over time. Money made through ads is decreasing as app-revenue models are turning towards the In-app-purchase model. See chart below.
Smartphones have way more sensors
The number of sensors on Smartphones has continued to increase over time. The original iPhone in 2007 had 3 sensors. The iPhone 5S has 5 sensors. For Android devices the growth has been even larger. The Galaxy S in 2010 had 3 sensors and the new Galaxy S5 has 10 sensors. Expect this trend to continue in the future as smartphones continue to have a greater number of sensors over time. These sensors allow the phones to be used in new an previously unexpected ways in future applications. We think that these new sensors will be used by enterprise in enterprise applications to great effect.
On Per Unit Volume Phone and Tablets win
In terms of volume sold phones and tablets are selling at a much higher rate than PCs and are likely to replace them in the long run. Wearables may be an important category in the future as well but we will see what the future brings in terms of new technologies in that area.
Internet growth is stagnant
The internet growth itself is stagnating now with <10% growth which is quite a bit less than the historical average.
Exponential increase in sharing
The number of items shared on social media is increasing at an incredible rate. See the chart below for details. We think this will continue to be a strong component of the apps we build. Connections to social media and the ability to share what you care about with others when apps are targeted to consumers. Note that Snapchat for example is exclusively mobile. Also, social distribution happens quickly: The average article reaches half total social referrals in 6.5 hours on Twitter, 9 hours on Facebook.
YouTube Growth Remains Strong
YouTube and video growth remains strong which helped to push one of the trends above namely the growth in data usage over mobile.
That’s all we found in the recent trends report we wanted to comment on. You can go and look at the 164 page it for yourself at kpcb.com
It was “Bike Week” on CTV Morning Live today so I picked a selection of apps for those who prefer to travel on two wheels (motorized or human-powered!).EatSleepRide $2.99 for iPhone & soon coming for Android This app is calling itself the most advanced and comprehensive app for motorcycle riders! ESR is a social utility app packed with tools and features to help you ride further, faster and safer. With ESR you can record your ride (simply by having your phone in your pocket) and then replay your route. You will also be shown your speed, lean angle and elevation on the map. Another cool thing is that you can have your own Ride Diary where you can tell your ride stories and include pictures to then share with your friends. This app has a ton of other cool features that riders will love. One last feature I wanted to mention was the CRASHLIGHT feature. For a $4.99 in app purchase you can get CRASHLIGHT for the year. This feature automatically notifies your pre-set contact in the event of a crash.
Pocket First Aid and CPR Guide
Whether you are biking a trail or riding on the road, you need to be prepared for anything. This handy app has 35 videos and 46 high-resolution illustrations to guide you through any injury or emergency. Their content is extremely comprehensive with a powerful search tool to help you find just what you are looking for. This app is also great to have just in general in case you ever have an emergency you need to deal with.
Bike Repair allows cyclists to “Be your own mechanic!”
The thing that I like about this app is that is uses tons of photos to guide you in fixing your bike. There are almost 100 tips and tricks with over 300 photos which would really come in handy if you were doing your own mechanic work on your bike.
Thanks to CTV for having me on to talk about these fun apps! I am not a motorcyclist myself but it was fun to research the different apps and learn more about biking and cycling!