Michigan & Missouri Education Associations Launch New UI/UX

The Michigan and Missouri Education Associations, in partnership with 14 Oranges, has released their new and improved mobile apps. Members of both associations will notice the apps have been updated to meet the latest system offerings by Android and iPhone. Before, members of both associations had a different user-interface (UI) depending on their device, either Android or iPhone. Using 14 Oranges’ Info Grove Platform, the cross-platform UI design will now provide users on both devices with the same user-experience (UX).

 

OLD Android UI/UX: Missouri (left) and Michigan (right)
OLD iPhone UI/UX: Missouri (left) and Michigan (right)

 

Android users will notice the biggest changes, as they no longer have a “hamburger menu” to navigate between app content. iPhone users, who formerly had a condensed grid that required swiping between pages, now have all buttons located on the main home screen. 

 

 

 

Members of the Michigan and Missouri Education Associations will spend less time swiping between pages and searching for information and more time engaging with content. But most important, is the experience and interface are the same across all platforms, including tablets and iPads.

 

Michigan Education Association

 

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) is a self-governing education association, representing about 140,000 teachers, education support professionals and higher-education employees throughout the state. The MEA Mobile App is designed to connect industry personnel to news, advocacy information, events, and resources. Also, the app links members to association benefits, such as “MyDeals” which offers discounts on day to day purchases.

 

Missouri Education Association

 

The Missouri NEA is an advocate for public schools, public school students, and public school employees. The 35,000 members of the Missouri National Education Association are public school teachers, librarians, counselors, coaches, school psychologists and psychiatrists, administrators and faculty in colleges and universities. Association members can use the app for a variety of purposes, such as carrying their MNEA E-Membership card and look up legislators to contact for advocacy purposes.

 

 

Info Grove

 

Info Grove is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) communication platform for member-based associations. With the “SaaS” model, association directors don’t need to worry when a new phone is released or a system update is required. 14 Oranges takes care of updating the apps against the ever-changing system offerings by Android and iPhone for the associations. In doing so, 14 Oranges ensures that apps maintain full compatibility against all platform versions.

Using Info Grove’s backend content management system (CMS), association directors are now able to add and edit content within the app without going back to 14 Oranges, saving them time and money. Directors can now send targeted push notifications with ease and reach members in a timely fashion.

 

Are you looking to transition your outdated mobile application? Contact us today to see if Info Grove is right for you!

 

New Jersey Counties Use Apps For Political Engagement

Union County and Monmouth County are now using 14 Oranges’ Info Grove self-managed mobile app service to engage citizens politically. Both counties have recognized the need to provide political content on the digital screen of the public’s choice in order to increase engagement.

 

 

As government communication is becoming increasingly mobile, Union County and Monmouth County have adapted quickly to this transition. Both counties are using the app to provide election-related information to help citizens in a variety of ways. Most important is that they are helping citizens determine whether they are registered and where to vote, view district maps, and review candidates.

The app acts as an all-in-one stop for political events, dates, and information. Union County and Monmouth County will be able to continuously update and add content using Info Grove’s backend content management system. This allows non-technical staff to edit their app and fill it with new content every election year to keep the app up to date.

 

Voters can view candidate promises and objectives, review past elections, and access PDF resources. This means that citizens will have improved access to information to help them make informed decisions. Both counties even go as far as to assist military and overseas Americans who aren’t physically present to cast their ballot.

 

Interested in learning how a mobile app can help your political objectives? Contact us today for a free online demonstration!

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?

 

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.

 

 

City of Surrey’s Citizen Engagement App is Back Online.

14 Oranges, in partnership with the City of Surrey, has officially re-launched the MySurrey mobile app available for both iPhone and Android. Effective last week, the all-in-one citizen engagement app can be downloaded on both the App Store and Google Play Store for free.

After the departure of their prior developer, the City of Surrey was left stranded with an unusable mobile app. 14 Oranges answered the call, working with the City of Surrey, allowing for Surrey residents to now have their old app back in their pocket. In just a few weeks all of the old data and information was transferred to a new app using 14 Oranges’ Info Grove platform.

 

Using the MySurrey app, citizens are able to access all of Surrey’s important information and related content from a centralized platform. Residents can use the app to locate bike routes and wifi hotspots, search job opportunities and events, contact city personnel, and more. Also, MySurrey will link residents to the City of Surrey RCMP, Dinesafe locations, garbage/recycling schedules, and provide the ability to request maintenance.

 

The City of Surrey was able to accomplish this fast transition by utilizing 14 Oranges’ SaaS (Software as a Service) offering called “Info Grove.” Info Grove is a self-managed mobile app service that is being increasingly used by governments and associations across North America.

 

Info Grove acts as an outbound communication platform. Primarily used by member-based organizations, the self-managed app software allows administrators and other non-technical staff to change and add content without going back to 14 Oranges. Staff at the City of Surrey will now be able to add new events, news stories, and send push notifications with ease using the Info Grove backend management system.

 

Interested in Info Grove? Contact us today for a free 30-minute demonstration!

 

Best practices for the deployment of mobile workforce management services in government

MetroGrove-WebMobileLogo-512

Ensure staff acceptance to realize real digital workforce efficiency

As the digitization of government services accelerates, the strains of this change have weighed heavily on government workers. The senior staff, largely of the baby boomer generation, are being asked to throw out decades worth of paper driven processes in favor of paperless environments, driven by tablet and smartphone based applications. Junior staff, particularly millennials, are surprised by how far behind government systems are from the video games and apps they have grown up using. For millennials moving from a world designed around easy to use, intuitive UIs, to a form and data driven environment can quickly leave them doubting their future in government service.

Sad millennial

“Fear, uncertainty and discomfort are your compasses toward growth” – Barack Obama

With the launch of our Metro Grove service, we have been at the forefront of developing and releasing mobile applications for use by government employees to enhance workforce efficiency. That experience has taught us some of the best practices on introducing new technology to staff at both ends of seniority spectrum, and at a pace that permits the staff to adapt comfortably, without rejecting the change. Here are some of our learnings:

Massive change invites massive failure

One of the first lessons we share is not to change everything overnight. The introduction of tablets or smartphones alone can be a challenge for staff. Getting the right display and system options configured for all users should be the first step taken and staff should be given time to play with the new devices to get used to how they work with familiar apps such as email and web browsers. This comfort with the new devices will then make new applications easier to consume over time, and ensure those services are not rejected due to a lack of understanding on how the new devices work.

Mimic the current paper process

Senior staff in particular will want the new application they use to very closely mimic the old paper processes they are used to performing. In our experience, with building and safety inspectors, we found developing and deploying forms that skilled users could easily move through as if they were filling in the paper equivalents was required. This will help to ensure full technology buy-in by the senior staff.

Listen to the feedback

After the platform and the applications were rolled out, we then began to get suggestions on how to make the service run more smoothly. This feedback included re-arranging data collection fields so they more closely fit with the activities taking place outside the office. As workers started to embrace the technology and the flexibility our solution provided, they became our best references for how to make their own jobs more efficient.

Wizards for Millennials

While the more senior workers knew what data fields and forms they needed to use from experience, more junior employees benefitted from the introduction of wizards that walked them through the process. Leveraging smart, intuitive interface designs, data could be collected quickly, but also checked for range/bounds errors on the fly ensuring clean data collection by new staff.

Magic Moment: Retiring the paper process

The magic moment for the deployment of our mobile workforce service, was when many of the senior workers stopped using the traditional paper-based forms and started using the wizards to collect the data. They had discovered, largely on their own and in conversation with their junior staffers, that the wizard helped to act as a check on the data they were collecting, and was able to remind them when they had forgotten to perform a step. This allowed the supervisors to build the case to end the paper process enshrined in the first iteration of the app and standardize the organization on the wizard-based data collection. This in turn helped to increase the integrity of the data collected and enhance the efficiency of the field processes significantly, which was the ultimate goal of the digital transition in the first place.

BCSA Mobile App

The Metro Grove Advantage

And so we have designed our Metro Grove service to support paced, methodical deployments of mobile workforce management solutions to ensure a sustainable pace of change for government staff. With the ability to customize the deployment, we can support both old and new approaches to collecting data, and help to minimize the impact on staff during the change. This allows senior employees to adapt steadily and realize greater efficiency, while junior employees can make an impact and get the positive reinforcement they need to stay motivated. Change can be painful, but we have designed our service to minimize the impact and ensure a high level of acceptance by our government customers.

Mobile Apps for Political Parties: Engaging Voters, Donors and Volunteers

Mobile Apps for Politics

While political parties and politicians are using Twitter and Facebook to reach their target audience on mobile devices, they are finding their message is simply being echoed back to them, or they are being trolled hard by their opposition, making social media a difficult environment to move political dialog forward in a meaningful way.

Enter mobile applications as a means of engaging the public in a more thoughtful public dialog, linking in capabilities, such as push notifications that allow political organizations to actively mobilize and build their base in a troll-free manner. In this edition of Plugged-In, I share some of my past experience in working with political organizations, and make the case on why more parties, particularly in Canada, should be looking at mobile apps as a measurable means of engaging the public.

Let Us Port Your BlackBerry App To Apple and Android

Need to port your BlackBerry App?

So back in September (2016), BlackBerry announced they had stopped making their own phones and like all fans of the iconic Canadian technology, I went through the five stages of grief.

Denial: I can’t believe it! No way would BlackBerry do that! The keyboard …
Anger: It’s a conspiracy, like the Avro Arrow … the government wanted them to cancel this …
Bargaining: I promise not to never mock how slow the BlackBerry Playbook was again …
Depression: Life is pointless without a smartphone with a keyboard … I’m going back to a flip phone …
Acceptance: I’m getting an iPhone 7

I remember my first BlackBerry, a 957, which I acquired for a step $750 CDN back in 2002. I’ve owned or used just about every BlackBerry product since, and while I haven’t loved them all, I do respect the consistency in the security provided by the platform, and I know a lot of other enterprises and governments have as well.

And because of this, your organization may still have a number of custom apps developed for the BlackBerry, and now they are quickly approaching end of life.

Let us help you get that app off BlackBerry and onto an iPhone or Android platform. Give us a call and book a 30 minute discussion with us on how to get it ported quickly and painlessly.

Free 30 Minute Mobile App Consultation

Free Mobile App Tune Up

Is your mobile app underperforming? Give us 30 min to consult on it, and help you make it a winner.

Did you start to sense it was underperforming when you read some bad user reviews in the app store? Did you see the worrisome “This app crashed when I opened it,” or the generic, “This app sucks” in the comment feeds?

Did Apple send you an email letting you know your app wasn’t up to their standard, and they were going to pull it from the store? Was the content out of date? Maybe the graphics looked pixelated on your new Pixel XL device? Perhaps that last push notification didn’t buzz on your new smartwatch?

There could be lots of reasons, but if your analytics are showing that your downloads and usage are down dramatically, your app is underperforming.

We can help you. Take us up on a free 30min consultation. We will tell you how to get your app back on track. We will apply our 8 years of custom app development experience to your underperforming app and tell you how to get back on track.

And we’ve done this before. In fact, Sylvain Marcotte, our CEO, has a passion for design improvement in the world around him. One of our first customers was his favourite radio station, whom he called one day after being frustrated with how their app worked.

“I love the music you guys play,” he shared, “But your app is terrible! Can I help you make it better?” Obviously, they didn’t want to be perceived as having a bad app, especially for what they were still being charged by their previous developer, and took us up on our offer and within a few months, the app was getting rave reviews.

Sharing the way to make things better with our customers is part of our DNA. We will make your great content and services available to your audience wrapped in the best approaches to design and delivery. Our process will help identify if you are hitting the real business driver for your app, and then tune it to best meet those needs.

So, don’t wait to get a call from Sylvain! Give us a ring. At 14 Oranges, we specialize in building apps that don’t underperform, and we have a passion for making the business behind your app better, and allowing you to get the value you deserve from your mobile app investment.