Mobile Trends for 2018

This article was originally posted on the BC Tech Association blog, to view the original post please click here

 


 

The mobile app industry is continuously evolving, and every year offers new trends in mobile engagement and best practices. As the new year is upon us, here are three industry trends to look for in 2018:

1. Increased Mobile Engagement

In 2018, expect companies to find new ways of improving their mobile engagement. Companies will focus on not just getting app downloads, but also making sure the user comes back for more. Content creation will be developed with a mobile audience in mind, not just desktop. Just last month, during Cyber Monday, mobile shopping time and mobile sales set new records. We can expect an increasing emphasis on developing sound user experiences (UX) and user interfaces (UI) that consider the consumer first.

2. Interconnectivity of Mobile Apps

Increased engagement means finding new ways of connecting mobile apps to other third party tools. An example of this can be seen in the use of active beacons. Beacons, or spacial-based triggers, allow users to be notified with relevant information from the app once they reach a specific geographic landmark. 2018 will likely see museums, cities, and event organizers integrating beacon support into their apps to provide a new mobile experience.

3. Augmented Reality Apps

Augmented reality, or AR, is a relatively new trend. We all remember the Pokemon Go craze over a year ago. Large companies like Amazon are beginning to recognize the mobile value of AR and are beginning to implement it in their apps. The Amazon AR shopping feature (only available for iPhone) allows users to shop for household appliances and preview them with their mobile device. Also, get ready for the release of new Harry Potter and Star Wars AR technology! Expect new industries to leverage this AR technology to find new ways of reaching their target audience.

 

 

Only time will tell how other industries decide to better leverage this existing mobile technology. One thing that’s certain is that year after year more people are integrating mobile apps into their daily lives. This past summer, ComScore released its annual mobile app report leveraging a U.S. based audience. The findings are clear. Mobile app usage is on the rise; meaning, those who don’t adopt new mobile practices might find themselves falling behind. The report was relatively long, so here are some of the highlights to help you plan for your mobile future.

 

Last Minute Tech Gifts for Christmas

Finding the Right Gift

tech Christmas gifts

 

Christmas is just one week away! If you’re last-minute gift shopping, you’ve come to the right place. Here are a few techy gifts to consider for Christmas.

 

Kindle Paperwhite, 6 inches

Price: $139.99 CDN

Amazon Link.

Great for the bookworms out there who have too much paper in their life.

Echo Plus with built-in Smart Home Hub

Price: $169.99 CDN

Amazon Link.

Echo Plus connects to Alexa—a cloud-based voice service—to play music, make calls, set timers and alarms, ask questions, check traffic and weather, and more—instantly.

Fitness tracker

Price: $38.99 CDN

Amazon Link.

This smart bracelet can track your heart rate and all-day activities. It can display steps taken, distance traveled, calorie burned, etc. You can also check your latest history sports data by long pressing the side button for 2 seconds.

 

Plugged In Podcast

 

Listen here as 14 Oranges CEO, Sylvain Marcotte speaks on BCIT’s Plugged In Podcast about buying the right Christmas gift. What age is too young for techy gifts? Maybe a tech gift isn’t always the right gift…

 

BC Tech Industry: What To Expect In 2018

BC Technology Sector

 

 

The British Columbian tech sector has grown into a hotbed for talent and economic growth. Over the past decade, BC tech has been the fastest growing industry in the province and currently accounts for 26 billion in annual revenue. Just a few months ago, Amazon committed to expanding its Vancouver office by adding over 1,000 jobs in the next 10 years.

 

 

BC’s rapid tech expansion, in combination with the political landscape in the United States, could mean more job openings and opportunities to come. With over 90,000 employees, the tech industry already employs more people than oil and gas, forest and mining industries combined. For years, politicians and high-level executives have been pushing for a more efficient process to obtain new talent abroad. Companies are finding new ways to lure talent to the beautiful west coast, with desirable working conditions and quality of life.

 

Slack’s Vancouver office: Photo via Betakit https://betakit.com/an-inside-look-at-slacks-renovated-vancouver-office/

 

What does all of this mean heading into 2018? As demand for corporate expansion increases and the need for high-quality workers grows, we could see increased government intervention to aid the process. The average salary for a BC tech employee is 75% higher than BC’s provincial average; earning an average weekly salary of $1,590. Will demand outweigh supply? Will wages rise even more? Will the BC NDP party take action to match the rapid growth?

 

Plugged In Podcast

14 Oranges CEO and founder, Sylvain Marcotte, has been in the BC tech sector for a number of years. Sylvain shares some of the challenges small businesses face in BC and what to expect for the future. Check it out below in the latest edition of BCIT’s Plugged In Podcast.

 

 

3 Ways Mobile Apps Rally Voters

 

Election Mobile Apps

A few weeks ago, we released an article about Union County and Monmouth County and their push to increase political engagement. Both counties use our Info Grove service to manage their apps and communicate with local citizens. The mobile apps are used before, during, and after the election process. 14 Oranges partnered with New Jersey counties to change the way people learn about local elections. The county elections have been over for a few weeks now and here is what we learned.  

 

3 Ways Mobile Apps Rally Voters

 

1. Real-Time Election Updates

 

 

The New Jersey counties used their apps to keep citizens up to date throughout election day. Push notifications were sent to inform citizens of polling station hours, and they sent updates as votes were counted. Citizens continued with their day as they received election notifications, keeping them engaged. With the political mobile app, citizens don’t have to refresh a web browser or a social media page to stay up to date; they just use the app.

2. Political Candidate ID Cards

 

 

A common reason why people don’t vote is that they don’t know who’s running and who’s running for what. A mobile app, operated by a nonpartisan body, gives a centralized platform for those running in political campaigns. Each candidate can have a section in the app, controlled by the unbiased officials so that citizens can read an objective overview of candidate bios, promises, and beliefs.

3. Provide the Election Basics

 

 

In addition to candidate ID cards, the mobile app is used to provide the basics, and we mean the basics. The apps answer the obvious questions, such as “Am I registered?” or “Where do I vote?” The political mobile apps make the voting process as easy as possible. Governments need to find ways to take down the barriers of the past, and a mobile app is a solution for the 21st century.

Testimonial

"We wanted to make the app as user-friendly as possible so voters could easily pinpoint the information they were searching for. To achieve this, I worked with 14 Oranges to design a sleek menu that utilizes round icons to organize our elections information. I also wanted to utilize push notifications so voters were instantly informed about the latest election deadlines. The overall goal was to make information more readily available to the public and increase voter awareness and turnout." - U.S. County Official 

 

Podcast

 

Listen here to learn about the political apps in New Jersey, and how it changes election day engagement with active push notifications. Will this trend push to British Columbia?

 

Are you looking to create a mobile app for your county, region, province, state, or city? Contact us today to see how 14 Oranges can help you meet your political objectives.

Mobile Apps in Review: 2017 Stats (Infographic)

Mobile Applications in 2017: The Stats

We are nearing the final weeks of 2017, which is a perfect time to reflect on recent mobile trends in our society. Mobile app usage continues to rise, with user bases expanding and more apps being developed. Even industries that have traditionally struggled in mobile, such as e-commerce, have experienced increased usage as demonstrated by Cyber Money and Black Friday shopping. This year's statistics show the value of mobile apps heading into 2018. ComScore released their annual mobile app report a few months ago, so we thought we would make the information easy to digest with a handy infographic.

 

 

 

Mobile App Resources

Cyber Monday 2017: The Rise of Mobile Shopping

Black Friday and Cyber Monday set mobile shopping records

It’s Tuesday, November 28, and the internet can finally take a much-deserved break from the hectic (extended) weekend. Black Friday and Cyber Monday — two of the most significant shopping days in North America — have officially concluded and the numbers prove just how much we love our shopping. As of last night at 10 pm eastern time, online sales from Monday alone reached 6 billion dollars, and that’s only online! Forbes has already stated that Cyber Monday became the single largest online shopping day in U.S. history. Also, Thanksgiving day saw 2.87 billion and Black Friday 5.03 billion in online sales.

All of this is great. People are avoiding the annual Wal-Mart boxing match by doing their shopping online. Online shopping is relaxing and stress-free. When you shop online or on your phone, you don’t have to deal with other shoppers fighting for breathing space. Buying online means buying in comfort, and this has never been easier with retailers focusing on developing sound e-commerce websites and mobile apps.

Mobile, which has traditionally been a place that’s seen e-commerce graveyards, made a statement over the weekend. Smartphone revenue grew 32.2 percent from last year, reaching $1.59 billion, a new all-time high. Overall, mobile represented 47.4 percent of visits (39.9 percent smartphones, 7.6 percent tablets) and 33.1 percent of revenue (24.1 percent smartphones, 9.0 percent tablets) (via Forbes). For purchases made on smartphones, Apple iOS led with average orders ringing in $123, in comparison to Google Android at $110.

What this means for the future of mobile shopping

The stats don’t lie. People are becoming more and more comfortable completing shopping orders on their smartphones and this means that e-commerce companies cannot solely rely on a desktop website to maximize the customer experience. If a company chooses to focus on a mobile-responsive website or mobile app, they first need to consider the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).

Speed: Make sure your website is fast. There is nothing worse than trying to shop on your phone with an excellent WiFi connection only to sit waiting for the browser to load. If a user is waiting for more than a few seconds, chances are you’ve lost that potential customer. In a previous blog post, we stated that “mobile pages that are 1 second faster experience up to 27% increase in conversion rate.” With online sales on the rise, now is the perfect time to invest in a speedy website.

Alternatively, investing in a mobile app will put the speed problem behind you. Mobile apps are far faster than websites as their data and information are stored right on the phone. With web pages, the products and data have to be pulled from the browser. Further, if you invest in a high-quality mobile app, you should be able to offer offline support so users can build their shopping cart without wifi, and complete the order when they have a connection.

UI/UX: You’ve managed to get the user to your online store, good. Assuming your website speed is in check, now you need to ensure you have the optimal user interface and user experience. To start, make sure your website is mobile-responsive! It’s 2017 for goodness sake. If you expect to get online sales via smartphones with a non-adaptive page, you’re in for a sad awakening. Some things to consider: What is the landing page? How does a user navigate between items and their shopping cart? Does my shopping experience include unnecessary clicks? It helps to imagine the process a shopper would go through from start to finish. If you optimize your mobile experience, you increase your chances of that user coming back for more shopping in the future.

Case Study: From social media to the online store

Social is one of best ways of getting users to access your mobile store. Why? The user is most likely already on their smartphone, making the transition to a website easy. Paid ads can be set up that promote a sale or product and easily transition the user from the social platform to the online store with minimal clicks.

On Cyber Monday, I experienced this situation first hand. On my way to work in the morning, I was scrolling through Instagram only to come across an ad from Peace Collective, a Toronto-based clothing company. From Instagram, Peace Collective caught my interest promoting their massive one day sale. When I clicked on the ad, I was directed to a first-class mobile experience. Peace Collective’s mobile interface is extremely easy to navigate, it only took me a few clicks to confirm my order, size, etc. Their mobile pages are full of eye-catching graphics, and make it simple to filter products according to individual needs. Peace Collective understands how valuable the user experience is, especially when pulling your customers from social media. In the end, I purchased a sweater on their mobile store for just $15 (with free shipping) and even recommended Peace Collective to my friends later that evening.

Mobile Shopping Heading into 2018

If your mobile sales aren’t even near your desktop sales, consider investing time and money into a sound mobile UI/UX. We can expect that 2018 will see continued mobile e-commerce growth, especially as companies recognize the significance of the user experience. Don’t fall behind in the mobile trends, make sure you optimize your mobile e-commerce website before it’s too late!

Keys In My Pocket: Why I Use Car Sharing Mobile Apps Evo & Car2Go

It was 5 years ago when I was first introduced to car sharing. I did not understand it nor buy into it. The entire concept of sharing vehicles with other people confused me. However, it did not take long for me to abandon this mindset when Car2go had an info booth on my university campus. Next thing I knew they offered me 30 free minutes of driving and I signed on the dotted line. Today, I use both the Evo and Car2Go mobile apps and in doing so, I always have a set of vehicle keys in my pocket.

 

 

How does it work? Car2Go & Evo. 

 

First, you have to register for a car sharing provider (they all have sign up fees but often offer promos) and download their mobile app. You’ll need a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record. When you have been approved, all you have to do is open the app, find the closest car to you and press “reserve/book this car.” Car2Go and Evo will hold your reservation for 30 minutes. Once you make it to your chosen vehicle, open the app again and press “start rental.” From here on you’re being charged per minute. When you’ve reached your destination, park the car in a designated spot, open the app and end your trip. However, car sharing operates with a “home zone” attached. Meaning as long as you leave the vehicle within that zone, your parking is free. These home zones cover the geographic boundaries of an associated city, so in most cases, this is not an issue.

 

Pricing.

 

For just 32-41 cents a minute, Car2go and Evo car sharing apps adapt to your life. Whether you’re doing a quick shopping trip or driving home from work, car sharing helps you get around a busy city. Evo and Car2go also offer pricing for longer trips. With Car2Go, you can take a smart car for 24 hours for just $65, and Evo charges $89 for the same period. A great part of Evo and Car2Go is that they only charge $2/year to keep your membership, meaning if you don’t drive you don’t pay!

 

 

 

Why own a car?

 

In a busy city like Vancouver, owning your own vehicle may not make the most sense. With public transit, bike lanes, and densely populated areas, a car may not be right for you. By using these services you have all of the benefits of owning a car without having to deal with all of the hassles. No oil changes, no insurance, no inflating tires, no maintenance, and no problems. You do not have to pay for gas or for parking (unless it is a metered spot). Car sharing is best for people who don’t need a vehicle everyday. With the costs associated with owning a car (insurance, gas, maintenance, and etc.), carsharing in an urban city is a perfect solution. Pay for when you use it, not for when you don’t.

 

Peace of mind.

 

The part of these services that I enjoy the most is the peace of mind. I know that at all times I have a way home. I know that (living in Vancouver), there is most likely an available car within walking distance. No longer do I feel stranded left hoping a cab drives by or actually comes when I call (hint: we need Uber). Car sharing mobile apps connect us with our cities like never before. Mobility in your city should not cause stress, so download an app that gives you 24/7 access to car keys in your pocket.

 

 

Nimble Quotes: Look Smarter, Without Working Harder

I remember finding a copy of my father’s 637 Best Things Anyone Ever Said by Robert Byrne when I was just entering the workforce and consuming these brainy, and often witty quotes, from people as diverse as Hemmingway, Plato and Einstein.

My father used to use these quotes in speeches and talks he’d give to make his audience ponder the wisdom of the wise and famous while he shared the latest business innovation of his firm.

This is the premise behind the service we developed for our customer Nimble Quotes. Nimble Quotes is a web service that automatically tweets famous quotes on your behalf on a random or set time interval. It’s based on five very easy setup pages, that allow you to choose the categories of quotes you want to draw from, the hashtags that go along with the quote, and the pictures and colours to go along with your quotes. No need to leaf through thousands of pages of quotes to find that bon mot … Nimble Quotes has them all.

nimble-quotes-page-3

It’s a set and forget service! So along with your standard marketing tweets sharing your latest news, you get to add in some quotes from your favorite author or historical figure to add some wise words that can capture the imagination of your followers.

That’s because we quote connoisseurs all know … “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein.

Michael Porter and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

There’s a new look for the Board of Trade here in Vancouver, and with the new look a renewed mandate for regional inclusiveness. 14 Oranges joined the Vancouver Board of Trade this year and I attended a great event yesterday at the Vancouver Convention Center put on by the Board of Trade showcasing a presentation by one of the world’s foremost experts on competitive strategy in business and politics, Michael Porter. I will discuss his presentation in detail further on. The preamble to Michael’s presentation involved the unveiling of the name change, slight shift in mandate and new logo of the Board of Trade.

 

Established in 1887, the Vancouver Board of Trade has a long history of helping business grow and succeed in Vancouver not to mention influencing policy and infrastructure decisions in government. The board of directors recently voted unanimously to rebrand the organization to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, after realizing that businesses are thinking regionally and so should they. The new logo was revealed to much applause. We look forward to our continued involvement with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade in the coming year.

Brand new logo for Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

Brand new logo for Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

Michael Porter spoke for about an hour on a variety of topics related to a distinct and present competitive advantage that we have in North America. He was referring to the relatively inexpensive oil and gas we have access to, with modern techniques and of particular interest to me was his reference to BC’s liquid natural gas reserves. Many of the commonly asked questions were addressed by Mr. Porter in a way I hadn’t heard before. For example when addressing the idea that using fossil fuels is environmentally bad and that renewable energy is the way of the future, he agreed but made this point. LNG (liquid natural gas) is far cleaner and more environmentally friendly than coal, no one would dispute this, so let’s sell our LNG to China, Germany and other nations that are currently generating at least some of their electricity in highly polluting coal burning plants. I will paraphrase Michael’s summary, Canada literally has the power to lower the world’s carbon footprint.

And guess what, we would create jobs and pump money into our economy. This leads me to another point Michael made when discussing some of his previous work regarding the Porter Hypothesis which suggests that forcing a company to become greener does not make it less profitable but in fact does the opposite. Porter used the example of water recovery in fracking. Fracking is a method of extracting oil and gas by injecting water into the ground cracking the rock allowing the oil or gas to flow more freely. Fracking is controversial to say the least but it was the example used so bare with me. If a company is forced by environmental rules to recover at least 30% of the water for reuse, it is an initial burden on the company to have to find a solution to recover this water. But once the solution is found there is a 30% decrease in the cost of getting that water to the site forever. This is an easy example of course and there could be lots of discussion on it but that’s for another post.

 

The second topic that I found particularly interesting stemmed from an audience question. As a side note, the conference used a technology I had not seen before called Pigeon Hole Live. We were all shown a link right at the point in the introduction where they ask you to ensure your phones are on silent, and asked to visit it and login. Once there you were able to post a question to the organizers digitally and also see/vote on the questions other had posed. The question that was quickly voted to the top was, “Can Donald Trump negatively impact the progress that has been made on clean energy?”  To be honest the question could have been shortened to Trump? but it was on everyone’s mind, what does the clearly intelligent speaker think of what is happening in his country right now.

Porter’s answer was quite long but he tied it back to some points he had made in his presentation so well. One of the first slides in the presentation showed the median income in the US for the past 20 years. He summarized it with a bit of an I told you so where he showed the nine recommendations he made in 1990 that would have to be undertaken for the US to stay competitive in the world. Not a single one of those nine things have been put in place and the shrinking US median income is a result of the US not being competitive anymore. He pointed out to our primarily Canadian audience that in Canada we actually have many of the things on his list. He applauded our immigration policy and banking regulations to name a few.

He tied this all together by pointing out that Americans are leaning towards Trump simply because they have given the Republicans and the Democrats a shot and they just aren’t getting it done. This frustration is leading the people to lash out in response and side with a loud-mouthed narcissist (my words not his).

Michael Porter simply pointed out that if you have polarization like they do in the US right now, you cannot accomplish anything in politics and the same is true in business. Environmental factors MUST be part of the energy business these days but it cannot be the only side of the argument. Companies MUST stay competitive and profitable but not at the expense of mother earth. As we move towards renewable energy, the best way to do that is encourage the American/Canadian spirit of innovation by creating well paying jobs in a stable environment with a constant push towards being greener.

My thanks to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Michael Porter for helping me look at a few of the world’s problems through a different set of eyes.  Having studied strategy in university it was an absolute pleasure to hear his strategy for a competitive North America and how that relates to what we do every day. With all the bad press about LNG, and fracking these days, I am encouraged after hearing this presentation that it might be the way of the future … promoting a more sustainable world through strategic thinking.  Sunny ways indeed!