When To Replace Your Responsive Website with a Native App

Our customers often ask us when is it best to replace their responsive website with a native app. We tend to answer this question with a more end-user experience question.

How frequently will the end user access the service or information you are presenting?

A native app will give a superior user interface speed and smartphone integration experience over a responsive website. Always. So if your user is going to be accessing your service or information frequently, they are going to become annoyed if the information loads at web-speed, and doesn’t easily integrate into services supported on the native device, such as location services, cameras and database services that allow offline use of the information.

So if the information or service you are offering has a high traffic rate, and a high utility to users on the go, a native app will make the most sense.

On the flip-side, responsive websites are good for displaying information or services on smartphones that copies what is already on the website. They are also useful for driving content to a type of native app called a wrapper app, that simply presents responsive webpages inside a native app container. What wrapper apps don’t do is tailor the information for more efficient access. It simply mobilizes what is already there.

Mobile efficiency is becoming the benchmark for successful native apps, and has shown how it can lead to increased app utilization rates. Take for example the first mobile applications launched by the banks. They offered the ability to view your balance, and to perform the same transactions you could on the website, but if you wanted to deposit a cheque, you still had to find your local branch and go deposit a cheque. Adding in the ability to deposit a cheque by using the camera increased the utility of the app, and caused a surge in mobile banking. Now banks are starting to consider if they need ATM machines and/or branches at all.

So if you have a service or set of information that will improve the way your end-users interact with your firm online in a mobile context, don’t just make your website mobile, but look at how a native app may improve on the efficiency of how your business operates.

That all being said, we’d be glad to review your requirements, and we offer both native app development and custom responsive web design.

Towards a More Efficient Mobile Government Workforce

Before I head out to the MISA Ontario Conference, the annual gathering of the technology managers inside Canada’s municipal governments, I wanted to pause and outline the question I’m going to be asking the attendees I meet this weekend:

How are you managing your various mobile workers in each of your departments?

I’m expecting a wide variety of answers, including:

• GPS tracking solutions for snowplow fleet managers
• Whiteboards or paper schedules for lifeguards
• Tough-books for fire/police forces
• Push-to-talk phones for security staff
• iPads for my site managers

In other words, I’m expecting each department to have their own way of communicating with and organizing their mobile workforce. And I expect each of these workers will be managed by a different back-end system, with a few of them working with more than one back-end system, including:

• Licensing and permitting systems
• Route management systems
• Bylaws and ticketing systems
• Geo-spatial databases
• Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
• Asset management databases
• Billing and point of sale systems
• Time sheets and scheduling systems

Multiple interfaces, multiple workflows, multiple back-ends hosted inside the municipality and some in the cloud. It’s confusing, hard to report holistically on and ultimately inefficient and costly to government.

This is why we are introducing our mobile workforce management solution.

The concept is to make the mobile worker’s job simple, by providing them with one mobile application interface that shows them all the information they need, and all the information they need to collect. They see their next job, and where exactly to go on the map to do it.

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The mobile worker’s manager/dispatcher can see their workers on the map too, ensuring their safety and the tracing necessary to ensure that service is being provided to every taxpayer. The manager/dispatcher can drag and drop jobs into or out their mobile workers’ work queue for that day, allowing them to re-prioritize assignments on-the-fly to deal with priority needs.

Dashboard - Map

The system’s flexibility is in it’s ability to define customized workflows for every job that is needed to be done in the city, along with the built-in scheduling capability to assign the job to the right full-time or part-time worker with the right skill set to go the site and get the job done the first time, preventing costly revisits.

Jobs

Data is collected in the field and it flows back to the service and distributed to whatever back-end system needs it through their well defined service interfaces and APIs.

Reports will be able to provide insights to managers/dispatchers on improving the processes, and help to identify ways of maximizing employee on-site time vs. off-duty tasks.

Custom workflow, custom forms. Custom reporting.

14 Oranges will give you the actionable insights you need to make your workforce more efficient. We are looking forward to these conversations at MISA this upcoming week.

Carrots: Free Mobile App Icon Generation Tool

Carrots icon

If you have found this blog post, you are likely well acquainted with the painful step of generating all the required different sized graphics files for your mobile app icon before you submit your app to the Apple iTunes or Google Play stores. Maybe you were a patient, saintly soul who had been leveraging Preview or Photoshop to resize your 1024×1024 icon file but forgot one to many times to name it with the right @2 or @3 extension, and have finally lost your mind. You are also likely well versed in the mercurial decisions by Apple to change certain icon sizes by 3 pixels or, add new one like they did when they released the Apple Watch. Well fear no more, we have felt your pain and suffering and have your solution, it is the 14 Oranges Free Carrots Icon Generator

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With Carrots (we were feeling botanically enlightened when we came up with the name), you can simply drop one square 1024×1024 image into the Carrots tool and it will generate all the images for you with the correct dimensions and names. We even tossed in the Android graphics for all the cross-platform developers out there.

Here are the steps:

1) Visit carrots.14oranges.com

2) Select the platforms you want the images for (Apple, Android, Apple Watch)

3) Drop your 1024×1024 image in the drop area (or click the upload button if you prefer old school)

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4) Wait for the image to upload

5) Click one of the Download Zip buttons to download a zip file of the resulting files or click the download button for only the files you want to have

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6) Import them into Xcode or Android Studio

7) Huzzah! (to borrow someone’s else expression)

PS. If you see any new file sizes that we forgot about, feel free to drop us a line at support@14oranges.com and we will add the extra size.

4 Tips For Effectively Marketing Your New Mobile App

pigUsingApp

When it comes to bacon and eggs they say the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.  When it comes to releasing mobile apps, the development of the app is involvement, but the marketing of the app is where you truly commit to your audience.

Put plainly, if you think your target audience will find your mobile app with no prompting on your part, you will be disappointed with the download results. Our experience has shown that not marketing your app will create a very low, straight line download rate.  Basically you are relying on your audience to discover the app on their own. While both Apple and Google are good at presenting your app for download, unless you have some timely, culturally significant content you will not get their attention to feature your mobile app in their app stores.  However, there are a number of both free and paid ways to effectively market your mobile app to your target audience, and better yet, measure the success of your campaign.

1)         You are your best advocate: App download pop-ups on your website.

By now you have surely noticed that more and more of your target audience has been connecting with your website from their mobile devices.  This may even have been your statistical justification for having a mobile app built.  With the addition of a very simple, pop-up on your website you can re-direct incoming visitors to download your newly minted mobile app.   

Links and advertisement on the front page of your website are also effective, but nothing grabs the attention of mobile users like an option to opt out of the mobile website and download an app.

2)         Social media marketing: The Freemium approach

That intern in the corner churning out click-bait?  Get them in the routine of posting that you have a mobile app to download!  Your social media following, if it is engaged in what you are posting, will take to this message quickly.  But remember, you can’t get away with posting once in the social media world.  Your posts are now getting buried in your target audience’s social media feeds, so it’s critical to re-post the app’s availability on a routine basis, and even think about paying to boost your posts.  Now, if you followed tip #1, all your social media posts that connect back to your website will also lead to the app being advertised immediately to your mobile users.   Think of this as the tag team of free digital marketing app techniques.

3)         Performance advertising: Targeted and measurable

Facebook and Google, as was pointed out by Gabe Laydon, the CEO of Machine Zone (Must watch interview) are performance marketing firms. They get paid to position ads to your target audience. Make use of these ads and position yourself against the right keywords and demographics.  TV and radio have proven to be effective ways of marketing, but as Gabe shares, try exhausting digital advertising before spending on these traditional media. Even if the numbers seem low at first, digital at least gives you an accurate measure of what your audience is clicking on versus the Hail Mary marketing approach still embraced by traditional broadcast media.

4)         Display advertising: Be seen where it counts

When your content is targeted to an audience sitting in a doctor’s office or standing in a bus shelter, why not just use a poster to ask them download your app?  While digital advertising is tightly targeted, it is constrained to the online world, and display advertising offers additional value based on the location context of the display which helps to trigger the desire to download an app. By using a vanity URL or even a QR code, you can easily extract a further digital measurement on the success of the display ad campaign.

In all the cases above, you will be able to benefit from a digital measure of your campaign’s success to get your mobile app downloaded.  So go on, be a pig, and commit to putting the best mobile app download marketing practices into your release plan!

Oink!

 

how to market your mobile app

14 Oranges Brings Its Mobile App Software Development Expertise to Ottawa and Halifax

14 Oranges today announced it is expanding its North American market coverage for custom mobile app software development beyond the west coast to Ottawa and Halifax. This move is timed with the hiring of John Craig as its new VP of Sales and Marketing, tasked with growing the organization’s sales across North America.


 

14 Oranges is today announcing the North American market expansion of its mobile application development businesses with the launch of sales offices in both Ottawa and Halifax. Having already established a market leading position and solid reputation for delivery in Vancouver and the north western United States, this move provides customers with two eastern touch points for the company, as well as future access to the world-class software engineering talent that both towns are known for.

“Ottawa and Halifax, both important government towns, are also hub towns for Canadian technology with strong historical ties to trade with United States,” said Sylvain Marcotte, CEO of 14 Oranges. “This expansion will help us to continue to grow our firm and position us to deliver on our next-generation of services to the largest population centers in the US and Canada.”

14 Oranges is also formally announcing the hiring of its new VP of Sales and Marketing, John Craig. Craig, an industry veteran with entrepreneurial experience in the development, deployment and delivery of mobile applications, has joined 14 Oranges to drive the expansion of 14 Oranges North American sales and establish a deeper position with both its traditional telecommunications clients and the next generation of mobile workforce solutions for both the private and public sector.

“14 Oranges has the critical mobile application development DNA needed to build the next generation of mobile telecom and mobile worker applications,” said Craig. “I am glad to be a part of expanding this team’s footprint to Halifax and Ottawa, as well as the prospects of continuing to contribute to the ongoing growth of entrepreneurism and technology across Canada.”

Victoria Lennox, the CEO of Startup Canada, also welcomed the expansion of 14 Oranges across Canada, “This is a great example of a firm with regional success expanding to provide pan-Canadian opportunity, and we too are hugely supportive of 14 Oranges as they expand to offer services across Canada.”

Melody Pardoe, the COO Volta Labs who provide co-working space to 14 Oranges in Halifax added, “Volta is happy to support small business expansion into the Atlantic region. It’s great to see 14 Oranges expand across the country and join the tech community in Nova Scotia.”

4 Ways To Spring Clean Your Mobile App

 

Spring has sprung, and the maple syrup is flowing, but your app’s downloads have slowed to a trickle. Negative comments are piling up in the app store. Bug reports have started to come in on crashes against the latest devices and mobile operating systems releases. Are you on the hotseat? Here’s what you need to do.

1) Re-energize your application advertising

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Nothing contributes more to poor download results for an application than a lack of advertising. It’s important that you not only use digital media channels to highlight your app, such as websites, digital ads and social media channels, but also traditional channels, such as posters, bus advertisements, radio and tv advertisements.  With mobile enabled content, think about where your target audience is, and make it available there. Bus and subway ads are great for capturing people’s attention when they are on their phones with nothing to do.

2) Submit a re-freshed application to the app stores

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New devices and operating system features have launched into the app ecosystems over the past 2 years. Wearables now allow users to receive push notifications and control the app on their wrists. There is also the option of porting your application to the Apple TV, Google TV or Amazon Fire, opening the potential of displaying your content to the largest screen in the home. User interface specs on all supported devices have also evolved and keeping in sync with the latest graphics resolution requirements has an impact on how your app is perceived and used. Submitting a refreshed application will bring your app back up to grade and keep you in style!

3) Re-evaluate why your content is being delivered in a mobile app format

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The key question to ask is if your app audience needs access to the information presented in the mobile app when they are on-the-go everyday. This is highly likely if your app was developed to present location-enabled content and if your audience appreciates push notifications alerting them to the latest changes in that content. If this isn’t the case, a mobile optimized website might be the more appropriate way of presenting your content to mobile users. If your content doesn’t leverage the GPS and push notification capabilities of the native app platforms, a mobile app may be overkill for your mobile engagement needs.

4) Make sure all your content is up to date

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The number one negative issue for app users is that content is not refreshed in their apps frequently enough.  This can quickly cause app downloads to fall off and drive negative app store comments. There are a number of ways to keep your application’s content up to date.  Hybrid app technologies can link mobile optimized pages or RSS feeds from your website into your own mobile application to keep your app current. The only issue technology can’t help you with, is making sure the content is correct and that you continue to upload new content frequently!

Content, marketing and keeping the app fresh against the latest devices and graphic specs will always keep your app at the forefront with your audience.  Take these spring cleaning tips to heart and spruce up your app before the summer.  

 

The Zone @ 91-3 Launches the First Apple TV App for a Canadian FM Radio Station

14 Oranges today released the first Apple TV application for an FM radio station in Canada on behalf of The Zone @ 91-3, the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group’s alternative and modern rock radio station based in Victoria, B.C. The app downloads onto 4th generation Apple TV devices and shows album cover graphics for the artist playing on the channel, as well as their latest social media posts.

14 Oranges today announced the launch of the first Apple TV application for a Canadian radio station. The Zone @ 91-3 application, which is already available for both Apple andAndroid smartphones, now adds support for 4th generation Apple TV devices. Listeners can download the application through the App Store from the Apple TV menu.

The application goes beyond the listening capabilities already provided by current cable TV services supporting local radio by adding both album cover art and social media posts from the band currently playing on the station.

“This app lets us bypass subscription services to bring our music and personality to devices at the centre of every home,” said John Shields, Senior Programming Manager of The Zone @ 91-3. “It will allow us to continue bringing our unique brand of radio to our listeners on all sorts of next-generation devices, in Victoria or around the world.”

The application is the first generation iteration of the application, and will be enhanced as use of the application increases. “14 Oranges has been proactive in delivering the next generation of digital engagement tools for our listeners; and have consistently kept us on top of the latest technology innovations,” added Shields.

“Enriched media playback capabilities are bringing the radio experience to a whole new generation of digital users and continuing the engage the generation who grew up listening to the radio in their home,” said Sylvain Marcotte, CEO of 14 Oranges. “We are proud to help radio evolve onto the next generation of digital devices.”

5 Key Features to Expect in a Mobile App to Manage your Mobile Workforce

 

In June last year, IDC forecast that the U.S. mobile workforce would grow from 96.2M in 2015 to 105.4M people by 2020, and account for nearly three quarters of the total U.S. workforce.  And with over 75% of mobile phone subscribers now owning smartphones in the U.S. it’s a sure bet that there will be a surge in the number of mobile workforce applications available to help manage these workers.

With our experience in developing mobile apps for the mobile worker, we put together a list of the 5 key features every mobile workforce manager should expect to find in the mobile application they are purchasing to manage their workers.

1)         The mobile app has to work offline, and sync data when connected to the network

This one is harder than it looks, as early iterations of mobile apps were just mobile web pages linked into mobile app frameworks and required cellular data service to function.  Mobile workers need to collect data in areas of low or no cellular coverage.  Collecting data to only have it lost later, you might as well go back to using a clipboard and a #2 pencil.

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2)         The mobile app has to provide directions to your next job

GPS capabilities have become deeply integrated into our lives.  For the mobile worker, having the address of your next job linked to your preferred smartphone map means getting to your next job quickly, and for managers it means having a management dashboard to optimize the drive times of your workers.  More on-wrench time means greater efficiency and happier customers.  Isn’t this the world we always wanted to live in?!

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3)         The mobile apps must use wizards for data collection

This doesn’t mean Gandalf is riding shotgun with your team, but what it does mean is that your mobile app should help your field workers capture, fill in and verify all the critical data that needs to be collected while on site.  You don’t want your workers leaving, only to drive back and collect forgotten or unverified information.  This is also good for mobile managers on-boarding new workers.  Wizards can help establish a baseline process to bring new team members up to speed.

4)         The mobile apps should allow expert field workers to break out of wizards

You will likely encounter two different types of mobile workers.  One you need to train, and one you should not restrain! For managers, this means the user management engine should allow you to turn on or turn off app features depending on the profile of the user.  In turn, your app will allow you to take the gloves off your experienced workers and allow them to skip straight to key forms to get the job done.  These experts don’t just know their business, they are your business!

5)         The mobile apps must include a photo capture capability

How do you prove the work was done, or the site was visited?!  Photos speak a thousand words, and whether it’s a maintenance selfie, or the verification of a site during a safety inspection or just a photo of a happy client, mobile apps should leverage the native photo capabilities of the smartphone, and in some cases, video and voice capabilities as well.  

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With more millennials entering the mobile workforce, expectations will be high for smartphone apps that integrate with and look like apps they used growing up.  This will also make retro hipsters easier to spot; mostly guys with beards and women in plaid shirts carrying clipboards!

CHEK News App for iOS and Android

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Audience: Vancouver Island residents or visitors who want to keep up to date on the local news

Get the app here!

Functionality

The CHEK mobile app front page features the most up to date news stories in Victoria. There’s a drop down menu that makes it very easy to find sports, weather, community events and many other sections. It’s easy to glance at updates between activities because the news constantly refreshes.

Compared to other news apps: The user interface is cleaner and easier to read. With minimal ads and a simple interface, it’s a much easier mobile app to navigate quickly while. Plus, with the push notifications, it was very easy to stay up to date on breaking news stories.

Design

The app leverages existing web technologies to produce a market ready hybrid app.

Stay updated on possible predators

Stay updated on possible predators

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.

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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.

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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