mobile commerce

What’s new in iOS7 (beta 3) – see screenshots here

Apple launched beta 3 of the highly anticipated iOS7 today. Geeky developers (like us) have been spending the day learning about the latest release and sharing screenshots and opinions on what’s new. Here are a few highlights from today.

iTunes Radio

Combine the innovative technology of spotify or rdio with the reach and userbase of iTunes and you have iTunes Radio. Create a radio station then let iTunes Radio “learn” your preferences and tailor music to you through the new “Tune This Station” slider that was spotted today:

BUT – currently only available in the USA (boo!).

iTunes shows download sizes

You can now see how large an app download is in iTunes before you download it. Great for those on limited data plans who may want to wait until they’re on wifi before updating an app.

New loading animation

Icons no longer use the blue progress bar to show how much has been downloaded, you’ll see a new ‘circular’ animation now instead as shown here:

New calendar

A few improvements to the calendar since beta 2 including those small dot indicators under days to show when you have events on certain days. The latest version looks like this:

Those are just a few highlights from today. What else have you spotted that you like in beta 3?

What’s a Hamburger Button? It’s the Hamburger that’s good for you.

There’s a hamburger you should try. It’s becoming really popular, people who try it seem to like it, it doesn’t make you (or your app) feel bloated…

Ok, enough of the poor wordplay, of course I’m talking about a Hamburger Button – that little three line icon you would have seen on apps that hides the primary navigation system until you tap on it.

Why talk about it? We build a lot of mobile sites and apps here at Fly Digital and have started seeing a real trend in clients moving away from tab bar navigation to the Hamburger way of navigating. It’s becoming a more widely accepted way to manage navigation on smaller screens.

Is it going to replace the tab bar? I think it will. The traditional tab bar that runs across the footer of many apps takes up a fair percentage of the screen real estate and usually only allows for 5 options at any one time. The Hamburger method takes up a tiny amount of screen space and can reveal a menu system that theoretically can be endless. These two reasons alone are going to move more app developers across to this method.

How does it work? In most cases, tapping the Hamburger icon slides the main content across to the right revealing a vertically scrolling view of menu items. Some apps also replicate this behaviour by allowing you to swipe across the main content.

The screenshots above show how the Facebook app on iOS does this. Below is a closeup of the Hamburger icon and expanded menu from the Teambox app also on iOS:

Why ‘Hamburger’? Well the icon itself has been around for a while but was originally designed to represent a set of drawers that when opened reveal additional content. However as it’s been used more widely in the mobile world (and probably in a bar somewhere on a Friday during lunch) developers have recently decided that the three layers looked more like a stylised burger instead, hence the name.

App Search Optimisation (ASO) for beginners

Hooray, there’s a new Technology acronym that I need to learn … said no one ever.

ASO or App Search Optimisation is the fancy way of describing the process of trying to make your app stand out above others when customers are browsing app stores like iTunes or Google Play.

Personally I think, as with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), there’s an awful lot of common sense that can be applied here to cover 80% of the ‘recommendations’ that the ‘experts’ are telling us.

But as a self confessed ‘expert’ who is here to give you some ‘recommendations’ here are the key things that I’d suggest you focus on when submitting your app.

App Name

Most importantly. Does your app have a descriptive name that contains keywords customers may be searching for? Remember, you have two ‘names’ for your app: 1) the short name that appears under the app icon on the smartphone and 2) the longer app name that features in the App Store. As an example your new flying game might have a short name of ‘Fly High’ but can have an App Store name of ‘Fly High – the Aeroplane Simulator Flying Game’. So choose both names wisely, the idea is to maximise the number of downloads by being descriptive.

App Keywords

Keywords are of little relevance to website SEO nowadays but they can help with ASO. So make sure you use as many of the 100 characters you’re given as you can. A good starting point is to research what your competitor apps are using to get ideas. And don’t forget there’s no need to repeat your App Name in your keywords.

App Description

Most importantly with the App Description is the fact that it’s going to get truncated. So make sure your key sell message is concisely written in the first two sentences. A punchy couple of sentences which neatly describe what you’ll get in the app is a way better strategy than paragraphs of text on how you came up with the idea or who the sponsors are or why you think it’s the next Angry Birds. Give the customer the facts, sell them the concept, then let them decide. Here’s a good example from Fox Sports’ NRL app:

App Icon

There are two schools of thought for including text in the icon or not. My opinion is that if the icon text is readable and better defines the purpose/brand of the app than a graphic only icon then go for it. But there’s no need to repeat the name of the App in your icon, that’s what the short name is for.

Updates

If you are making updates to your app make sure you don’t only describe the updates you’ve made but list them too. People love lists. Writing a sentence or two on why you’ve released this new version (eg: “You asked for changes to our booking system so we’ve added new ways to pay and made booking even easier”) and following that up with a list of exactly what you have done is generally the best approach.

Other tactics

A couple of final tips:

  1. Encourage customers to review and rate/review your app. You can do this via push notification prompts or via your company Social Media channels. An app that has 0 reviews and 0 ratings doesn’t look appealing to customers at all, especially if you’re asking them to pay for it.
  2. Encourage your friends and family to rate/review your app. As per point #1, it doesn’t hurt to ask people you know to rate your new app to get some initial runs on the board.
  3. Have relevant screenshots. You may love your fancy loading screen but there’s no point making that the number one screenshot, it’s not going to sell your app. Choose screenshots that tell the story of what you get when you download the app. Pick the key areas of content or functionality, and make sure the first screenshot is the best one.

If you have any other tips that you’ve found work when Optimising your App content, let us know below.

Android spiking in the UK with new releases from HTC and Samsung

According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Android is further strengthening its number one place in the UK representing 58.4% of the total smartphone OS market for Jan-March 2013.

iOS has just over one-quarter market share at 28.9%.

A fair way behind, but growing at a fast rate is Windows mobile now accounting for 7% of the market, up from 2.9% a year ago.

As more sales of the new HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 devices flow through this will most probably tip market share even further in Android’s favour.

See the full report here.

Passbook on iOS6 stores all your tickets & confirmations in one place

Apple’s new ‘Passbook’ app launched at the WWDC today stores tickets, confirmations, boarding passes and cards in one place within the new iOS6 operating system.

Apple are using Passbook as a way to change how users approach digital wallets and as with most of their other iOS6 apps the UI is incredibly simple to navigate and operate.

The app uses GeoLocation to bring up relevant Passbook ‘tickets’ when you are near outlets that you have confirmations for.

Passbook also appears to be able to handle stored value cards as demonstrated by Scott Forstall with a Starbucks card.

Plus cards are ‘live’ – ie: if your flight details change so will the boarding pass stored in your passbook app and an Apple notification will appear with the update.

Passbook is one of over 200 new features being launched with iOS6 this week.

Images via @verge.

 

ASOS Scan To Shop on iOS and Android

Fashion etailer ASOS were promoting their ‘Scan to Shop’ app at a recent Vogue event in Sydney.

‘Vogue’s Fashion Night Out’ in Sydney on September 6th showcased fashion retailers and brands in the CBD through a vast array of live events, outdoor stalls, activities and  parties.

ASOS provided a large 4-sided wall of product images which allowed owners of the app to scan via iOS/Android and purchase direct.

The app is similar in principle to Woolworths’ smartphone app which allows you to scan grocery items in train stations to virtually shop without visiting an actual store. ASOS have taken this principle and adapted it for the tech savvy online fashion market.

Pictured on the left is the fashion wall of products being scanned on an iPhone 4S.

Download via: iTunes or GooglePlay

More info on ASOS here.

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.

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