mobile apps

iPad kiosks, Google Wallet, QR codes & free wifi – mobile tech in New York

American retail outlets are really embracing new mobile technologies and apps to help drive business and raise awareness of their products.

Here are some of the highlights from a stroll around the lower West side of Manhattan (mainly Chelsea, Meatpackers and West Village).

Innovative iPad kiosk housing

At Fly Digital we’ve created iOS apps for clients looking to use an iPad as a kiosk solution. However we’re often asked how to restrict access to the home and lock buttons to prevent customers from clicking out of the app.

Professionally made kiosk housings are usually the answer such as the great ones made by Lilitab (http://www.lilitab.com/).

But clothing store ‘All Saints’ created their own clever way of achieving the same thing with reclaimed wood, metal and a couple of butterfly screws.

A really clever idea and very on brand for this retail outlet.

QR codes are everywhere

They really are EVERYWHERE. Shop windows, posters, digital signage, check-in signs at the airport, even on bananas (no kidding), you can’t get away from QR codes here in the USA.

Like Australia, Near Field Communication (NFC) still isn’t being widely used in the USA to transfer data onto customers phones despite the growing number of devices with the required hardware. So for the moment QR is still the most popular method.

Pictured here is a QR code that links to a video of the New York Yankees seen underneath a poster in the headquarters of mlb.com in Chelsea Market.

Google wallet is starting to appear

Retailers accepting Google Wallet as a payment method are starting to advertise with stickers in their windows.

Pictured here is the signage at a fruit and veg store in Chelsea Markets.

I tweeted this earlier and the friendly team at Duane Reade (@duanereade) let me know they are also taking Google Wallet for micro-payments in their stores.

Funny free wifi login messages

Free wifi is offered in certain retail outlets so if your partner is taking longer to select an item than you would ideally like and you don’t have a 3/4G account you can at least check what’s happening on Twitter.

Based on my short research exercise I’d say around 30-40% of the shops I was in today offered a free wifi service. Some were simply an open wifi network under the store name, but some did require acceptance of a fair-use policy.

I took this screenshot of my favourite – again at Chelsea Market – showing that you don’t have to take a serious message too seriously. I love what they’ve done here.

More updates to follow as I find more around the city. Follow us on twitter (@fly_digital) for real-time updates, follow this blog or sign up to our newsletter for fortnightly roundups.

PayPal Here takes customer payments via iPhone/Android

PayPal have launched a new service called PayPal Here targeted at merchants looking for a way to take customer payments via mobile devices.

Currently available for iOS and Android devices the product consists of an app and physical mag-stripe reader that plugs into the smartphone.

Merchants load inventory into the app, take an order from a customer by adding or subtracting items from the menu and process payment by swiping the customer’s credit card.

Merchant fees (in Australia) are 2.4% plus a flat $0.30 charge for swiped cards and 2.9% + $0.30 for manually entered credit card details.

Here’s a video demonstrating how it works.

Fly Digital launches ‘Mobile LogBook’ web app for tracking vehicle usage

Today we’re launching the BETA version of our brand new web app – Mobile LogBook – which allows users to log business and leisure trips for multiple cars, motorbikes and commercial vehicles and export data when calculating returns for tax time.

Visit http://logbook.flydigital.com.au in your smartphone’s web browser to get started.

Mobile LogBook has been created to replace paper logbooks that some travellers need to complete each time they travel. A simple two step process to a) create and start a trip and then b) end a trip automatically calculates the total distance covered and logs it for analysis during the year.

Because it’s been built as a web app you can use Mobile LogBook on any iPhone, iPad, Android or Blackberry device with an internet connection without having to download any software.

The BETA version allows customers to setup and track multiple vehicles including cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles such as trucks and vans under a single sign-on.

The real-time stats section provides an analysis of trips logged to date, shows business vs leisure usage, calculates average trip distances and provides a selection of data graphically using dynamically created bar and pie charts.

At any time users can email trip data as a CSV file – handy for tax time when you may need to send your trip details to your accountant for calculating your tax return.

Mobile LogBook BETA is currently free for all users as we continue to test and get feedback on the app. Future releases will include a fuel tracker module for calculating/sharing daily fuel prices and reporting on fuel efficiency across all of your vehicles.

How to get Apple’s white iPhone today

Image c/o @27bslash6 via Twitter. We do NOT recommend you try this yourselves. Names blurred out to protect the innocent (and guilty).

Review: Website SEO Audit app by Reload Media

Reload Media (an SEO organisation based in Brisbane, Australia) have released a free app in the iTunes Store for analysing SEO performance of URL’s via your iPhone.

The app allows you to type in a URL to audit and select either “Auto” which gives you a basic overview of SEO performance or “Manual” which allows you to test the URL based on keywords of your choosing.

The Manual setting took a little getting used to as the app suggests you can select max 5 keywords when in actual face the version we were testing (1.0.5) required exactly 5 keywords. In some instances when all you want to do is test for one keyword it was a little frustrating having to come up with 4 more just to get the app to work.

Once you’ve entered your URL and clicked the blue arrow to test, the next screen shows your results.

The results are divided into 2 sections, an overall “SEO Score” expressed as a percentage and a granular breakdown of specific metrics such as Google PR, Indexed Pages and Backlinks (we assumed these were for Google as well) and more.

We couldn’t work out how the SEO Score was calculated but comparing the same page in Reload’s “Website SEO Audit” app to other SEO tools that give a page a percentage score gave pretty similar results.

In addition to the Website Audit functionality the other two tab bar options are to manage your saved audits and contact the company.

A useful app if you ever need a very high-level overview of a page’s basic SEO profile whilst you’re on the move. Some additional features such as being able to click into the results (for example to see the list of backlinks or indexed pages), help links on how some parameters like Keyword Relevancy are calculated when performing an “Auto” search or being able to view results across multiple Search Engines would make this even more useful. However, considering Reload Media are giving this fully functional app away for free it’s definitely one to have on your iPhone.

How to concatenate a string in Objective-C

I’m writing this article with the objective of hopefully helping you if you’re looking how to concatenate a string but also to vent just a tiny little bit.

Firstly, to set the scene. You have two strings and you want to join them together. For example, string1 is something like “Fly” and string2 is something else like “Digital” and you want to join them as string3 to become something new such as “Fly Digital”.

In ASP Classic, this is a breeze:

<%
string1="Fly"
string2="Digital"
string3=string1 & " " & string2
Response.Write(string3)
%>

In PHP, not a problem:

<?php
$string1="Fly";
$string2="Digital";
$string3 = $string1 . " " . $string2;
echo $string3;
?>

But Objective-C doesn’t quite use the same logic of string1 + string2 = string3. Instead you need to call a whole new method called stringByAppendingString, which is where I start to ask questions. But first, here’s how I do it in Objective-C:

NSString *string1 = @"Fly";
NSString *string2 = @"Digital";
NSString *string3;
string3 = [string1 stringByAppendingString:string2];

Now call me old fashioned, but I think the PHP / ASP Classic / Javascript methodology is far more easily adoptable for programmers than having to know a new method to achieve what I consider a very basic but fundamental part of programming. I question why the developers of Objective-C thought that a whole new method had to be invented rather than sticking to the very logical 1 + 2 = 3 style. If there’s anyone reading this that knows the answer to that question I’d love to hear it.

Shipments of smart phones to exceed PC’s in 2012

PhoCusWright are soon to release a report stating that shipments of smart phones are expected to exceed PC’s for the first time in 2012.

Additionally, the report will state that 3 out of 4 active travelers use a mobile device while traveling and 2/3 say they are likely to research, shop and book travel activities via their mobile devices.

It’s really feeling like 2011 is the year of getting your mobile strategy in place to exploit this groundswell of mobile activity that’s being predicted.

See the full article on the tourismexchange.com website here:
http://www.tourismexchange.com/exchange/en/newsroom/home/getArticle.jsp?articleID=13502&languageID=1