My Techy Valentine: Mobile Apps to Survive Cupid’s Arrow

 

Remember Valentine’s Day in elementary school, when it was a beautifully simple time because we were all in it together?

Those days are gone.

For adults, Valentine’s Day has turned into a minefield because if you’re not careful, you’ll get a limb blown off. Valentine’s is a lose lose day- if you’re single, you’re immediately pitied and if you’re in a relationship, you’re panicking about your game plan. Since Valentine’s is difficult enough, I have selected and reviewed some mobile apps that will make you laugh, get you drunk, meet bearded men, and escape awkward social situations. For some people that’s university in a nutshell, but for others, these mobile apps will help you have the Valentine’s Day that you want.

Precisely

Precisely

Drink Advisor for iOS

Let’s start with the obvious must-have app for Valentine’s Day- sweet, glorious booze! Drink Advisor works in the ‘biggest cities in the world’ so I was surprised Vancouver was included. The categories were everything from cocktail lounges to nightclubs so there’s certainly something for everyone. I would suggest adding a ‘drinking alone’ option as V-Day approaches. This app was well designed, simple to use and had relevant information like hours of operation included. I could see someone pulling up the app and deciding on a bar in a matter of seconds. Compared to some other bar mobile apps I tried, Drink Advisor (shockingly) didn’t have any ads. I liked that this app showed customer reviews so you could read honest feedback about places. I suspect this app will get an increasing amount of usage as Valentine’s Day looms closer.

Bars for everyone!

Bars for everyone!

Love Quotes for iOS

Why did I do this to myself? Oh right, in an attempt to present a well rounded selection of Valentine’s mobile apps. After rolling my eyes, my first thought is that this app would be perfect for teenagers and girls who love posting inspirational quotes on Instagram. For the small price of nothing (except your dignity), you can download this mobile app and have access to seemingly endless posts about love. The quotes range from a light eye roll to major guffawing so there’s definitely something for everyone. The app is really easy to use and doesn’t have any ads which is much appreciated but it will only appeal to a certain percentage of the population.

BLERGH

BLERGH

Bristlr Dating App for iOS or Android

Vancouver seems to be in a secret contest to compete with the guys on Vikings for facial hair, which means that Bristlr is the perfect mobile dating app for Valentine’s Day. The app claims to be “light-hearted and fun,” and “really just to talk to people with beards” so it will be less pressure for everyone as Valentine’s approaches. Canadians love lumberjacks so this app will make a lot of people in the city very happy. One hilarious part of the app is that it notifies you when someone recycles the same message to other people. Points for creativity! The app is free so give it a whirl and see what bearded guys are out there. If it goes horribly wrong, you’ll have a good story for the bartender when you’ve found a pub using Drink Advisor.

bristlr

Ha! This girl was notified about the uncreative bearded guy

Red Stamp for iOS

Much to my horror, I actually loved this mobile app. I was ready to hate/mock it like ‘Love Quotes’ but it won me over immediately. It’s a classier (and more expensive looking) version of the Valentine’s cards we used to send each other as kids. These cards include photos, personalized messages, custom patterns and colours and so much more. I emailed a card as a test, and I immediately got a reply saying that the card was really pretty and much appreciated (the recipient is a graphic designer so her compliment on design carries more weight). The free options in the mobile app seem endless but there are also some fancy in-app purchases for those who need to make more of an impression (or might be in trouble).

Invite me to your party!

Invite me to your party!

The card categories are logical which makes finding what you want really easy. The UI/UX design is fantastic because the app is seamless and a joy to use. This would explain why it’s been featured in everything from InStyle magazine to the New York Times. However, the most endearing part of the Red Stamp mobile app is that it has an entire section of Galentine’s Day cards for all the Leslie Knope fans!

leslie

Love Card- Double Picture Frames for Valentine’s Day for iOS

In an effort to remain unbiased, I forced myself to download the Valentine Love Card mobile app. There are lots of free photo options like face montages, birthday cards, and of course love cards. The photo options are SUPER cheesy but in a hilarious 80’s way. This mobile app reminds me of the glamour shots from Napoleon Dynamite so maybe that’s the reason I find it more entertaining than the Love Quotes. There’s an endearing quality to this app because it’s not trying to be anything it’s not. The design and graphics are terrible but that doesn’t matter because you’re having too much fun sending dumb photos of yourself to people. I’m looking after a chinchilla for a few weeks so I figured the 542 photos I took of him would be perfect for a Valentine glamour shot. I was definitely not wrong.

*Note: No chinchillas were harmed in the making of this Valentine card.

Image (1)

Totoro is not amused with my card (BUT I AM)

Honourable Mention

Chelsea Handler: Gotta Go! for iOS

The only reason this mobile app got an honourable mention is because it’s not available in Canada yet. Apparently Chelsea doesn’t think Canadians need to escape uncomfortable social situations. As someone who has pretended to be deaf in one ear (yes, just like that Seinfeld episode) to avoid an awkward elevator ride, I would say that we desperately need the app. In fact, Canadians need the app more than most because we’re too polite to just leave, we need a bulletproof escape plan! Chelsea’s mobile app has fantastic, yet believable excuses which can be programmed to come as a text from someone in your phone so it appears legit. I tested another mobile app that was an excuse generator and they were so terrible you’d be better off saying you got hit by a car or just cutting off the friendship forever.

At the very least, this app could save you from a horrible date with a bearded man.

chelsea handler

Round Up

These mobile apps will all but guarantee you the Valentine’s Day that you want. If you want to be a hermit, there’s an app for that. You want to avoid your couple friends, there’s also an app for that! Mobile apps have allowed us the freedom to be struck by Cupid’s bow or completely ignore it. However, I hope that elementary school kids won’t transition to digital cards and lose the joy of delivering little paper Valentines.

Robots!

He’s ready for his close up

Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay Review: A Love Story

 

East Coast vs. West Coast

On Jan 19, 2016 the way we order coffee and use apps was changed forever because the Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay finally launched in Vancouver. Even though Vancouver is becoming more and more of a tech hub, we still lag behind Toronto, and it’s enraging to us West Coasters. However, I shall put my technology beef aside in order to applaud the glory of the Mobile Order & Pay app because it deserves a standing ovation and a maybe NASCAR champagne celebration. I cannot say enough good things about this app and it thrills me that the hype is legitimate.

 

Mobile ordering and mobile ecommerce is on the rise! Read about how Cyber Monday 2017 broke mobile shopping records here

The original East vs West battle

The original East vs West battle. No doubt they would have bonded over Mobile Order & Pay

Location, location, location

 

I must mention that the first step to get the mobile ordering part of the app is to enable location services. Duh, right?

 [read more="Click here to Read More" less="Read Less"]

Yes, yes it is, but not to me when I first attempted to use it. My app didn’t look like anyone else’s when I compared it with both Android and iPhone users, so I had convinced myself my phone was somehow broken. I shoved my phone in Clarence’s face because he has an iPhone and successfully used the Mobile Order app. To his credit, he did attempt to fix it, and when he couldn’t he just laughed and gave it back to me. No mobile ordering for me apparently. I persevered and instead chose to annoy more people by asking why my mobile app wasn’t working properly. Cue the install, uninstall circle of horror until I had the brainstorm (way too late) to check my location services. Sure enough, it was turned off and as soon as I turned it on, the app transformed into the Mobile Order & Pay that I knew it could. Shout out to Morgan, the greatest Starbucks District Manager in Vancouver, who upon hearing how I finally got the mobile ordering to work, politely stifled his laughter and asked incredulously “Aren’t you...kind of in IT?” YES MORGAN, I KIND OF AM. The shame..the shame is too real.

 

My feelings exactly

My feelings exactly

Justify My Love

Now, let’s begin. Since Starbucks is in my Holy Trinity (the others being Costco and Apple), I expected a certain level of bias on my part, but all my love is completely valid and justified (huzzah!). Apparently, the Mobile Order & Pay is only available at certain stores in Vancouver so don’t yell at me if it’s not working in your neighbourhood. When you use the app, it’ll automatically detect the appropriate stores so you will know right away if you’re able to use the app.

You can check out the store nearest you

You can check out the store nearest you

Once you open the app, you can click on the ‘Order’ section and the entire Starbucks line springs to life before your eyes. Drinks! Fancy baked goods! Overall deliciousness! You can browse the photo menu to get inspiration if you aren’t sure what you want. If you do know what you want, hit ‘Browse Menu’ and the closest store pops up (see why those location services are so handy?) and a list of drinks and food pops up underneath. The scroll shows you if an item is out of stock so you don’t end up going over and not finding the sugar cookie you wanted.

Check out all the options!

Check out all the options!

When you click on the store, you can see the fastest route, how long the mobile order wait is, and a map in case you’ve ventured out of your neighbourhood. I actually had a bit of trouble ordering a vanilla latte because I thought it would appear under the espresso drink category or when I searched the app, but it’s actually an addition to a regular latte. When I clicked on a latte, a bunch more options to customize my drink appeared. The options allow you to add extra shots, every kind of syrup known to humanity, milk type, toppings and much more. If you scroll down more you can read more in depth nutritional and allergy information.

Options galore!

Options galore!

So Much JAVA

Once I ordered my vanilla latte using the mobile order and pay, I put my shoes on and headed out the door to my Starbucks. I felt like a jerk for skipping the line and heading right to the bar to pick up my drink, but it wasn’t there. I waited a minute and then asked if they received my mobile order. They did, but apparently, I was in the wrong spot as I waited for it. Someone reached behind the bar and handed me my drink and I was off. No cash, no lineup and minimal human contact- it was joyous! I still maintain that I was in the right place to get my drink but the barista mockery told me I was not. However, I was the envy of all the plebes standing in line (in the 20th century) to order while I sailed out.

Exact representation of how you feel walking out with your mobile order

Exact representation of how you feel walking out with your mobile order

Round Up

The mobile app has a very small learning curve and once you get used to the little tricks, it’s so simple and user friendly. I don’t enjoy the calorie count listed for every item because I don’t need to be reminded, but I love that the app remembers your last order, so overall it’s a draw. I liked the map because my sense of direction is terrifying so I appreciate anything that can point me in the right direction. The app is so great to use that I can’t imagine other coffee shops and restaurants not implementing something similar. The Mobile Order & Pay is a slam dunk and has changed the way we interact with apps on a daily basis. I look forward to seeing how this technology will change the service industry and save relationships because you won’t get someone’s drink order wrong or be mocked when you order someone’s vanilla bullshit.

It remembers my last order!

It remembers my last order!

**It must be noted (and celebrated) that with the Mobile Order & Pay that my name is ALWAYS correct

Victory for everyone who's had their name butchered at Starbucks!

Victory for everyone who's had their name butchered at Starbucks!

To be the envy of all Starbucks goers, download the mobile app for iOS and Android and never wait in line again! I’ll make sure to avoid eye contact when we pass by each other.

 

Interested in more information on mobile apps? We made an infographic to summarize mobile app statistics from 2017, check it out here. [/read]

The Tech Days of Christmas 2015

The Twelve Days of Christmas is a festive song that I have butchered to accommodate some of the exciting technology moments in 2015.  Please enjoy!        (a two drink minimum is suggested… go ahead, I’ll wait)

On the first day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

A stylus for an iPad

On the second day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the third day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the fourth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the fifth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the sixth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the seventh day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the eighth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the ninth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

9 Front End Developers

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the tenth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

10 AI Robots

9 Front End Developers

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the eleventh day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

11 Delivery Drones

10 AI Robots

9 Front End Developers

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPad

On the twelfth day of Christmas

my true love sent to me:

12 Surface Pro4s

11 Delivery Drones

10 AI Robots

9 Front End Developers

8 Mobile apps

7 Oculus Rifts

6 Selfie sticks

5 Apple TVs

4 Apple Watches

3 Moto Xs

2 GoPros

and a stylus for an iPaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!

Merry Christmas!

Don’t Fear The Walking Dead, Just My Bumbling Attempts At Survival in Zombie Mobile App Games

In case you weren’t aware, Fear the Walking Dead, the prequel to the Walking Dead premieres on Sunday.  The teaser is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen because it reveals nothing, but the fear is palpable (I’m terrified to see what he’s running from).  This series is a prequel set in LA (but mostly filmed in Vancouver!), with no affiliation to the current Walking Dead series; instead it will feature the breakdown of society as the virus spreads.  

 

My main complaint about the Walking Dead was that all the good stuff had already happened.  Who cares what it’s like 9 months after the zombies have taken over? I already know that Starbucks will be gone, my iMac won’t work and my natural hair colour will show.  I want to know what it’s like as hospitals fill up, the highways are jam packed and people are desperately trying to flee to safer ground.  That’s the stuff that makes a zombie show great!  Say what you will about World War Z, but the most exciting part was when the plague had just hit so Brad Pitt and his scarf were trying to get his family out of the city and they faced challenges finding resources and safety as society crumbled.  Therefore, in honour of the upcoming zombie prequel series, I have tested and ranked mobile app zombie games (I have an iPhone 6) to get you through the next few days before Fear the Walking Dead premieres on Sunday.

Dead Among Us

I just noticed that this game is for teens (that explains why I was so good at it) but that doesn’t stop me from loving it.  It’s a first person shooter game that you can control with just one hand, which I find thrilling because I love using my phone one handed (which also explains why it seems like I’m developing carpal tunnel). My siblings and I were never allowed to play video games as kids because my mom thought it would make us dumb, so I am horrible at combat games because (after 20 years), I still can’t get the hang of them, which destroys the fun because getting killed every 2 seconds is rage inducing.  Luckily, Dead Among Us doesn’t require too much coordination on my part (it’s like they’ve seen me play volleyball) so anyone can get the hang of this game pretty quickly.  My favourite aspect of the game is that I get to be a sniper perched on top of a building with my fancy bow and arrow and feel like a hero as I secure the location for fellow survivors and scientists to gather supplies.  I’m pretty sure this is exactly how Katniss felt.

I shall snipe you all

I shall snipe you all

 

The graphics for this game were high quality, appropriate, and interesting.  There were not a lot of options for weapons because I refuse to pay money on or for games, but that didn’t stop me until level 3.  Another feature I liked, especially when I was learning, was that I could zoom in and slow the action down so my first few attempts to oh, I don’t know, SAVE HUMANITY, weren’t stopped by my poor vision or reflexes.  Looking through the scope of the gun gave it a more realistic feeling for a newbie like me.  There was supposedly a radar available to keep tabs on the zombies as they came to eat my group but I never figured out how to use it and I didn’t suffer for it.

This does not bode well for my companion

This does not bode well for my companion

 

Overall, Dead Among Us was freaking awesome.  The navigation, design, graphics and interactivity were more than I expected.  For a more advanced player I can imagine the game might be less exciting, but it was exactly what I wanted and was perfect for my skill level.

Zombie Highway Android or iOS

The lure of this game was quite strong for me because I love racing games (they don’t require too much skill) and zombies.  Much to my dismay though, Zombie Highway under delivered on everything.  The instructions were vague and unclear, which I looked past because I like to play around and learn myself.  I played for a few minutes and thought ‘this can’t be it’ so I looked up the instructions to see if I was missing a huge part of the game or something.  I wasn’t.

Apparently not very far

Apparently not very

 

You basically just drive around in the desert trying not to let zombies hop on your car but from my experience, it was inevitable.  It didn’t seem to matter how far I drove around them, they would leap onto my car and murder me through the window (not cool guys, not cool).  Plus, they moved shockingly fast which seems to be the trend in zombie movies– don’t make them scarier, just make them faster.  I think that may have contributed to my disappointment in this game, it’s lazy and unoriginal to just make the zombies faster.  When the zombies jump on your car you’re supposed to shoot them but it all happened so quickly that it was impossible to get your gun out.  Remember when I said getting killed every 2 seconds is rage inducing?  Zombie Highway, I knew you were not long for this world (apparently there’s a Zombie Highway 2 but I refuse to waste a nanosecond of my life on it).

They didn't teach us this in Driver's Ed

They didn’t teach us this in Driver’s Ed

 

As a whole I didn’t like this game at all.  There wasn’t much stimulation, the graphics weren’t amazing and the whole premise seemed like something that seemed great in theory but horrible in execution.  If you like mindless, rage inducing driving games that go nowhere quickly but will remind you of every horrible childhood road trip you ever had, then Zombie Highway is for you.

Walking Dead: The Game

I had high hopes for this game because it’s the Walking Dead franchise and wow, I was not disappointed!  This was the game that plays like a movie and it was fantastic.  The stunning graphics open with the iconic Atlanta highway shot that everyone knows and the high quality art and production value are obvious throughout the whole game.  My annoyance with the beginning of the game is that you couldn’t skip the introductory video so I got halfway through it about three times and nearly gave up in frustration.  Luckily, I got over myself and persevered in order to get started with zombie killing.  As I attempted to maneuver myself out of the police car I crashed in, I was struck at how perfectly the music set the mood- I actually felt a bit of fear and dread!  

I'm in the back along with racial stereotypes

I’m in the back along with racial stereotypes

 

For a novice gamer like me, getting into full on zombie killing mode is difficult and doesn’t last long because I’m horrible at shooting and running (especially at the same time).  The Walking Dead wrapped the whole movie/story into the zombie killing so the pace wasn’t as fast and I was able to survive.  Having prompts for weapons or story items was a huge help so I didn’t have to fumble around in the dark looking for stuff.  I just clicked on the white dots and could choose what option I wanted.  The prompts felt like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel because I had so many options available to me.  If I wanted to snark at another character or answer questions, I was able to do so and their responses were based on what I said, not standard replies designed to continue a storyline.

This could get awkward quickly

This could get awkward quickly

 

The Walking Dead game had some really nice human touches like the old school answering machine that plays a message to the whole room (this never happens anymore in life, this needs to stop) and some heavy handed symbolism of a child’s colouring book (innocence!  a simpler time! we.get.it).  As on the nose as these items were, they did serve their purpose of forwarding the plot so I shall get off my soapbox.  

The Walking Dead mobile app game was very easy to control because you could move your finger along the whole screen instead of the bottom right hand corner which I never remember when I’m panicking and about to become a zombie’s dinner.  Since it wasn’t completely action packed I was able to enjoy the storyline and not die immediately.  So far I have met Hershel and Glenn who are characters in the TV series so there is a nice tie-in to the show.  

Take that!

Take that!

 

Zombie Mobile Game App Roundup

There are so many zombie mobile game apps available, it was hard to choose three. I am really impressed by the quality of the mobile games these days, especially the Walking Dead game.  Their production value was way ahead of the other games, but that’s to be expected given the success of the franchise.  The functionality and interactivity were the best in the Walking Dead game, but Dead Among Us was a close second.  The navigation only became an issue if the games weren’t clear after playing them for a few minutes.  The zombie mobile app game experience was a blast and I would recommend the Walking Dead and Dead Among Us games for anyone looking to have an undead experience before Sunday.  

See you Sunday for some Fear the Walking Dead!

The 14 Oranges Guide to Planning a Mobile App

Introduction

Working in the App development field for the past 6 years, we have found that many of our customers come to us with an idea but have no idea where to start. We work to help them understand the process for developing their business and their app. App development, as with most businesses, starts with a market and an idea. Taking that idea and turning it into an app can be a daunting task. If you follow some basic steps in the planning process, it can be greatly simplified and much more effective for your audience.

The planning process begins with the Business Model, moves through to establishing app requirements and a minimum viable product and finishes with a phased plan to managing the project.

The words Apps - Where to Begin asking if you need help choosing the best app programs or software to put on your mobile device or smart phone, or how to develop applications

The words Apps – Where to Begin asking if you need help choosing the best app programs or software to put on your mobile device or smart phone, or how to develop applications

Business Model for Apps

We have many customers approach us with nothing more than an idea, most people don’t consider a business plan. You certainly do not need to have all the details (pricing, categories, options) sorted out, but when planning an app, you should consider how you intend to make money with it. You are more than welcome to create an app for philanthropic reasons, but we can’t all be Bill Gates so it’s imperative you think about how to make money from your app as one of the planning steps. Is your app going to be a paid for app, free, freemium, or a subscription service? There are multiple options to consider so let’s explore them below.

Mobile Apps Available for Purchase

The first and most basic model that was available on the various app stores was to provide apps for purchase. Users pay a one time fee (ranging from $0.99 to $999) to purchase the app with the bulk of apps being at the lower end of the spectrum. Now with that being said, Apple probably didn’t do anyone any favors by pushing the typical price of apps to be in the $0.99 range compared to the more typical $20 to $50 range that is very common for desktop apps. Now in some rare cases like Angry Birds, the $0.99 model worked like magic, but in general, selling apps for $0.99 can be very difficult considering that developing an app for a smartphone can be just as time consuming and costly as a desktop application. Moreover, with Apple and Google taking 30% of your proceeds, it makes getting a decent return on investment quite difficult. In order to make a $0.99 model work, your app idea must be earth shattering or you must be prepared to spend a huge amount of money on advertising to achieve global outreach and market wide penetration. Viral apps exist out there but those are few and far between and should not be counted on.

In App Purchases / Freemium

A variation of the straight purchase model is to offer the app for free (or even a small price) and offer additional features in the app as “In-App purchases”. Perhaps your app is restricted to a few records, a few basic features, and the more elaborate capabilities are offered for purchase. That model allows customers to pay for exactly the features they need and can maximize your revenues (if I recall my Microeconomics 101 course properly). The one factor to consider is that it can make testing the app a bit more involved as you have to test for all the different combinations of features. Once again, with In-App purchases, you are subject to the 30% store taxes.

This model is a very cost effective way to attract potential customers; however, be ready to expect somewhere in the 3% to 5% conversion rate for the paid features.

74_application management

Membership/Subscription Model

With most apps requiring some type of cloud service, one of the most effective revenue models is the membership or subscription model. In this model, users are asked to pay a monthly, yearly, and/or per consumption fee to use your app. With this model, you actually have two choices. You can rely on In-App purchases, allowing users to purchase items using the built in In-App purchase mechanisms provided by Apple or Google to pay for their subscription, but again at a cost of 30% to your bottom line. Another option to curb that “tax” is to create your own subscription service using one of the many payment providers (Stripe, Beanstream, Moneris). Now it does involve more work as you typically would need to include a website / user portal for users to manage their accounts and buy the service but that additional work/cost can quickly be recovered with the improved margins on your sales. One thing that you must be aware of is that in order for an app using your own subscription payment service to be approved by Apple, there must not be a single way for users to learn about and proceed with payment within your app. If there is a way, Apple will find it and your app will be rejected. They are quite good at protecting their revenue sources, which seems obvious given their staggering profits.

Basically, your customers will need to learn about your service outside of the app. The one exception to this rule is if the content they are subscribing to is consumed outside of your app. For example, maybe you are selling a gym membership within your app. The app acts as a point of sale but in the end, you are not using your app to consume your membership.

Advertising in your Mobile App

The last form of generating money from your app is advertising. Advertisers will pay to show their ads to your user base and there are a few ways to approach this scenario. One option that is quite popular with start up apps is to have a one or more ‘app sponsors’. When the app is being developed some of the costs can be offset by selling sponsorship opportunities. Often this will result in a banner type ad being placed in a prominent place within the app. These sponsors can be transitioned into long term advertisers once the app is live. A second approach to generating advertising revenue is to incorporate a third party advertising network into your app. These ad networks will automate the display of ads within your app, paying you for clicks or views of the ad depending on the arrangement. If your app is likely to generate lots of users and frequent use, this may be the optimal solution for you.

Some key factors when exploring Advertising Revenue Models are:

  • App traffic – how many users and how often will they use your app
  • Demographics – the more focused the demographics of your audience the more targeted the ads resulting in higher click through rates

Ad revenue can be a very effective method of generating money from your app, the rates for clicks or impressions are very low, all things considered, so the traffic needs to be there for it to make sense.

Requirements

After putting together your thoughts on the business model, the next thing to consider when planning out the app itself is the apps functionality. Creating a list of these requirements will be very helpful in scoping the work involved in completing the app. Software development can be extremely complicated and what might appear to be small features could actually involve hours of R&D.

One simple example of this would be time based triggers on iOS. For example if you want your app to perform a task every 15 minutes this would logically seem like a simple task. In reality, this is quite challenging to complete.

Here are some questions to ask when putting together your requirements list:

  • What platforms will be supported? (iOS, Android etc..)
  • What devices types will be support? (Phone, Tablets, Phablets)
  • Will the user need to login?
  • Will the app need to know the user’s location?
    • If so, how precise and how often
  • Will push notifications be required?
  • Will payments be accepted inside the app?
  • Will the project require a website?
  • Will the project require an admin panel?

If you are finding it difficult to write requirements, try sketching things out on paper, screen by screen or use a software tool like Balsalmiq to help you design this. This will help you visualize the pieces of the app from which the requirements will be derived.

flatUI_4_2

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

Once you have created the requirements list for all the possible features to complete your dream app, it is important to be pragmatic and break out the Minimum Requirements to take your app to market. Time and money are the key factors at play. First Mover Advantage can be a huge factor in app rollout and defining an MVP allows you to get to market quickly while managing your costs.

Phased Approach

Most apps, once distilled, focus on a single concept surrounded by nice to have features that help manage and utilize the concept. Approaching app development using a phased approach has a slew of advantages.

Budget management is the obvious first advantage to a phased approach. If you develop the MVP and take the app to the market, you can often begin generating revenue which can then be reinvested to the features development.

Another advantage of a phased approach is the ability to build to your customers wishes. You can poll your user base, look at comments in the app store and build in the features your customers are asking for. Sometimes this will line up with your original concepts but often times the users will ask for things your team had not even thought of which is a fantastic way to connect with your customer base.

Adding features in a phased approach can also help with user engagement. Users can be notified of new features and that can bring them back into the app on a more steady basis. Many apps struggle to get users to come back to their apps on a regular basis so new features and updates can give users a reason to return.

Summary

Once you have worked your way through the planning process outlined above, you are ready to get started. Think about the business model, define your requirements, decide on an MVP and put a plan in place.  Don’t forget to reach out to your targeted customer base and ask them what features and ideas they want to see implemented in an app.  Most app users are tech savvy and would have some brilliant insight into your plan.  If you follow this simple process you will be ready to sit down with your development team and get the project underway.
If you need help or have questions during your app planning process, contact 14 Oranges. Or, if you need an app FAST (and we mean fast) see if our Info Grove service is right for you.

 

WWDC 2015 Day One: Beatlemania for Developers

My first day at WWDC 2015 is over and now is a good time to reflect on a crazy day.

I woke up at 4:45am in order to save a good place in the keynote lineup. I arrived at 6am and the lineup was almost around the block of the Moscone Convention centre. The line started to move on and off throughout the morning and I was inside the convention centre by 7:30am. Apple had breakfast available for the people in line inside the convention centre so I did not have to starve waiting in line before the keynote started.

I managed to get a good seat at the keynote and the atmosphere was electric. The cheers coming from the audience were genuine and developers were very excited that Swift is going to be open sourced later this year. They were also thrilled that newer tools will be introduced to make their lives easier. Apple Music and the news app are not geared towards developers so these features generated the least amount of cheers.

Some people will find WWDC boring because no splashy new feature was announced. The new versions of OS X, iOS, and watchOS are evolutions, not revolutions. The features introduced today will improve user experience, help users keep their old phones longer, and make it easier for developers to produce great apps.  Overall I’d consider that a huge success!

I also attended the Platforms State of the Union event. The event is geared towards developers and it provided more technical information about some of the iOS and watchOS features announced in the keynote. Their session also included live code demonstrations

I am looking forward to the start of the sessions, labs, and events that start tomorrow.

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The Working Mom at 14 Oranges

I have my dream job!

No, I am not an astronaut (sorry six year old me – that one didn’t pan out). Instead I am a Working Mom who doesn’t have to feel guilty about the “Mom” part of that title.

Ever since I became a Mom my kids have been my first priority. As everyone with kids will tell you “they grow up too fast” and given that my son is soon going to be a teenager and my daughter is now a 10 year old tween, I can attest to that statement being very true.

I had a lot of fun going to baby singing classes, toddler soccer lessons, Mommy and Me ballet and many other kids’ activities. I always knew however that I wanted to get back to work so my brain would be challenged with something a little more than just remembering the words to “Row, row, row your boat.”

Many companies love to advertise that they offer work-life balance. On further inquiry this generally means the option to work from home once a month or a couple of extra days of “personal time off”. The reality is that won’t cut it if you want to be involved in the lives of your busy kids on a day to day basis.

14 Oranges is different. This company truly understands work-life balance and should be a model to all organizations. I work from home full time – going into the office once or twice a month. Many of my coworkers have young kids, so meetings don’t get scheduled between 2.45 and 3.15pm as everyone knows this is the school run time.  I have time each morning to get my kids breakfast, pack their lunches and send them off to school. With a one minute commute time to my desk I am still easily able to start work before 9am – something that would be completely impossible if I had to drive to an office.

After school the kids make their own way home and understand that they need to let me finish off my work day. We are a sports mad family – hockey and soccer in the winter and baseball in the spring. On game days I’ll finish work early enough to get to the rink or park, and then put in a few more hours later in the evening. When the kids are sick they can stay snuggled up in bed knowing I am working just down the hall. I never have to use a vacation day to look after a sick child – something that is the norm for many working Moms.

Oh – and did I mention the cool points? As the Quality Assurance lead for an app/web development company I need a lot of devices for testing. At last count I had 11 different devices on my desk. Believe me if you are a 10 or 12 year old kid – having your Mom get the latest Apple or Android device as soon as it comes out is WAY cooler than her being an astronaut!

Review: Integra Adhesives App Takes the Guesswork Out of Colour Matching

Name:  Integra Adhesives

Version: 1.1.1

Developer: 14 Oranges

Platform: iOS and Android

Price:  Free

Available at the App store and Google Play

Why Integra Adhesives Chose 14 Oranges

14 Oranges was approached by Integra Adhesives to create an application to enable their customers to best match the colour of a countertop with the adhesives sold by Integra. Integra Adhesives has an extensive selection of colours with over 300 colour options matching over 6000 countertop sheets from more than 300 manufacturers, and they were looking to create an app to help simplify the colour match process.  When 14 Oranges was approached by Integra Adhesives, they had an existing website with similar functionality, back end systems, and databases but were looking to produce an app with as far a reach as possible, but were limited by budget constraints.  Additionally, Integra’s lone technical staff member did not have time or the precise expertise to begin the process of creating an app.  This situation is a common stumbling block for many organizations with small IT departments and firms looking to cut costs, so they look to start outsourcing specialized technological work.

The 14 Oranges Process

The 14 Oranges work process for Integra Adhesives started with an onsite kick-off meeting involving the 14 Oranges project manager and technical lead as well as key stakeholders from Integra Adhesives  in order to establish an internal review of requirements and scope. Once the review was completed, there was an initial ramp up phase and creation of sprints and milestones followed by multiple implementation and quality assurance cycles.  When the first deliverable was ready, it was reviewed by Integra Adhesives and adjustments were made based on their feedback.  The last step involved was device specific quality assurance and once that was successful, 14 Oranges submitted the final release to the respective App stores.  As with all our clients, 14 Oranges performed a final follow up to ensure that all loose ends were tied up and completed.

Functionality

The Integra Adhesives app takes the guesswork out adhesive colours for an installer.  The app features colour matching, products, fabricator tools and contact information to make life easier for installers.

Integra App

Colour Matching

The colour matching section of the app includes colour charts, a natural stone gallery and colour swatches.  These sections allow installers to access all the surface brands so you can match your adhesive to the product line.  No more guess and check then going back to the store to return the item that didn’t work.  The natural stone gallery is really interesting because you can compare the photos of your stone with the options on the app so you can get an idea of how a seam would look together.  The colour swatches are probably my favorite part of the app because the variety of colours is fantastic and fun.  With the Integra colour palette at your fingertips you can mix and match until you see a colour combination that is right.

Integra Colour Swatches

Integra Colour Swatches

Products

The product section of the Integra app includes adhesives, caulk, dispensers and accessories information.  The overview and spec information included in the app is so detailed that it makes it simple to understand.  There are instruction manuals for the adhesives and accessories so the app is also a teaching tool that provides instruction and knowledge.

Tools

There is an adhesive calculator in the tool section of the app that is very easy to use because it is clear and includes imperial and metric systems.  There is also a library of YouTube videos on the app so installers can get a better understanding of the adhesive selections that are offered by Integra.

Integra Search Function

Integra Search Function

Audience

The best part of the Integra Adhesives app is how clear and easy the information is to understand for any installer.  They can mix and match colours to see which combination they like, they can watch videos to learn about which adhesives are right for their job and see a whole array of products that will make their clients’ homes functional and beautiful.

Granite Matching

Granite Matching

Ease of Use

The Integra Adhesive app is incredibly straightforward to use and functional.  It was fun to navigate and play around with different colour combinations and stone options.  The product information is simple to understand and is arranged in a logical order.  The videos are a useful tool for pulling the instruction manuals together and getting a visual understanding.

Design

App design can be challenging for a manufacturing or industrial field since it’s not conventionally fun or engaging for consumers.  This app is designed well and has a lot of valuable information for someone in the home renovation field.

14 Oranges built the Integra Adhesives app with Adobe PhoneGap, a multi-platform framework, allowing deployment on a limited budget and meeting a tight timeline.

Round Up

The Integra Adhesive app is a valuable tool for installers but it also sets the benchmark for manufacturing and industrial firms.