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How Zigbee Pro Makes Life Easier for IoT Developers

The IoT has proliferated our everyday lives in a growing variety of ways. In 2021, there were more than 10 billion active IoT devices. That number is expected to grow past 25.4 billion by 2030. IoT solutions will generate $4-11 trillion in economic value by 2025.

Hundreds of manufacturers create IoT devices of all varieties—interoperability is necessity. In order to facilitate this, IoT developers generally adhere to a communications protocol known as Zigbee Pro.

WHAT IS ZIGBEE PRO?

 

Zigbee Pro is a low power, low data rate Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) protocol which streamlines device connections. The goal of the protocol is to deliver a single communications standard that simplifies the nauseating array of proprietary APIs and wireless technologies used by IoT manufacturers.

Zigbee Pro is the latest in a line of protocols. The certification process is facilitated by the Zigbee Alliance—now commonly known as the Connectivity Standards Alliance—which formed in 2002. The Connectivity Standards developed the first version of Zigbee in 2004 and gradually rolled out improved versions until the most current version in 2014.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Zigbee is composed of a number of layers that form a protocol stack. Each layer contributes functionality to the ones below it, making it easier for developers to deploy these functions without explicitly having to write them. The layers include a radio communication layer based on the IEEE standard 802.15.4, a network layer (Zigbee Pro), the application layer known as Dotdot, and the certification layer which is compliant with the Connectivity Standards Alliance.

One of the focuses of the Zigbee standard is to deliver low-power requirements. Battery powered devices must have a 2 year battery life in order to be certified.

ZIGBEE DEVICES

Mesh networking enables Zigbee networks to operate consistently across WiFi and Bluetooth. Each device on the network becomes a repeater, which ensures that losing one device won’t affect the other devices in the mesh.

There are three classes of Zigbee devices:

Zigbee Coordinator – The coordinator forms the root of the network tree, storing information about the network and functioning as a repository for security keys. This is generally the hub, bridge, or smart home controller—such as the app from which you control your smart home.

Zigbee Router – The router can run application functions as well as act as an intermediate router to pass data on to other devices. The router is generally a typical IoT device, such as a powered lightbulb.

Zigbee End Device – This is the simplest type of device—requiring the least power and memory to perform the most basic functions. It cannot relay data and its simplicity enables it to be asleep the majority of the time. An example of an end device would be a smart switch or a sensor that only sends a notification when a specific event occurs.

The Zigbee Pro protocol has become the gold standard for IoT developers. Many commercial IoT apps and smart home controllers function under the Zigbee Pro protocol. Examples include: Samsung SmartThings Hub, Amazon Echo, and the Philips Hue Bridge.

Web3: The Next Step in the Internet’s Evolution

Web3 has become an increasingly popular buzzword in tech circles. While some are fervent believers in its potential to change the internet as we know it, others are skeptical it holds the future. Still others have no clue what it is—and rightfully so. Web3 entails a set of online principles with potentially mammoth ramifications, but one of the major questions surrounding it is how will these principles take hold? Web3 could manifest in a variety of ways.

This week, we delve into how it may change the internet as we know it.

WHAT IS WEB3?

To answer this question, first we’ll explain the Web1 and Web2.

Web1 is the original version of the internet—think of it as a read-only version. In 1991, HTML and URLs allow users to navigate between static pages. After the millennium, the internet starts to become interactive. User-generated content gradually takes hold via MySpace and eventually Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. This interactive version of the internet constitutes Web2, it’s a version of the internet in which users can both read and write via social media, Wikipedia, YouTube and more.

Tech conglomerates naturally turned Web2 into an era of centralization. Meta owns three of the four biggest social apps in the world. YouTube, the fourth biggest social network, is owned by Google, which accounts for around 90% of internet searches. Many question the ethics behind so much data in the hands of so few behemoths. Some have gone so far as to question whether the combination of big data and AI could diminish our capacity for free will, while other research shows that the targeted ad economy does not add much value and may in fact be a bubble.

In the face of these prescient concerns, the main thing that separates Web3 is the concept of decentralization.

DECENTRALIZED WEB

One of the main principles of Web3 is that it employs blockchain technology to decentralize data ownership and, in the words of Packy McCormick who helped popularize the term Web3, an “internet owned by the builders and users, orchestrated with tokens.”

The concept of digital decentralization gained massive traction since Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin using the blockchain in 2009. Cryptocurrency has since become a household name and blockchain technology is finding adoption in a multitude of ways.

In Web3, centralized corporate platforms will be replaced with open protocols and community run networks, enabling the open infrastructure of Web1 with the user-participation of Web2. Everything is decentralized using the blockchain. Decentralization means that a distributed ledger manages financial transactions rather than a single server.

When going to a major social network like Instagram, rather than giving their data away for free, users could monetize their data and receive cryptocurrency for creating interesting posts. Users could buy stakes in up-and-coming artists to become patrons in exchange for a percentage of their royalties. Axie Infinity is a popular Web3 video game which uses NFTs and Ethereum to reward users for achieving in-game objectives. Games with real-life rewards are known as Play to Earn or “P2E” games—a major new trend in game design. It follows the overall goal of Web3—to put power in the hands of users and creators rather than major corporations.

CRYPTOCURRENCY AND NFTS

Blockchain technologies enable an economy powered by NFTs and cryptocurrency. Users can use cryptocurrencies like Ethereum to purchase NFT versions of real-life moments, memes, emojis and more. For example, NBA: Top Shot was among the first NFT projects from a major brand. Fans could purchase “moments” in NBA history, such as Jordan’s famous shot in Game 5 of the 1989 NBA playoffs first round, and trade them as if they were trading cards. It creates a community for fans using digital assets.

The digital art contained within NFTs can be copied but original ownership cannot be duplicated. It’s similar to owning an original Picasso—other people may have copies of the same art, but there is only one original.

Bored Ape Yacht Club may be the most successful NFT project—offering access to real-life parties and online spaces in exchange for purchasing their NFTs.

Another blockchain-powered phenomenon is Decentralized Autonomous Organizations or DAOs. DAOs are organizations that raise and spend money, but all decisions are voted on by members and executed using rules encoded in the blockchain. Famously, a DAO recently raised $47 million in a failed attempt to buy a copy of the constitution.

WHAT TYPE OF WEB3 WILL EMERGE?

With so much up in the air, it’s unclear what type of Web3 will emerge. Although decentralization promises to diminish the power of major corporations, these conglomerates still hold such endless resources that it’s hard to imagine them not finding a way to capitalize and maintain relevance.

Remaking the web won’t happen overnight. There are still major technical and regulatory hurdles which need to be overcome before Web3 becomes the golden standard.

Although we can’t predict how all this will shake out and affect your daily online experience, one thing is for sure—the internet is evolving.

How 5G Is Unlocking the Hidden Potential of Mobile Gaming

5G is the fastest growing mobile generation of all time. There are 236 active 5G subscriptions with 3 billion 5G subscriptions anticipated by 2025. The vastly improved speed will have a transformative impact on a number of technologies—especially mobile gaming.

The game industry generates over $175 billion in revenue. Mobile gamers constitute over 2.6 billion mobile gamers worldwide. Mobile gaming is big business and 5G stands to unlock even more hidden potential in a variety of ways.

SAY GOODBYE TO LATENCY

Imagine thousands of players simultaneously playing Call of Duty on mobile devices with no lag and professional-level speed. Mobile operators like Ericsson are pushing the 5G revolution everyday to make these scenarios a reality.

In competitive gaming, latency can make or break a game. Online gamers can easily become frustrated and churn if latency ruins their experience. With speeds up to 10Gbps, 5G delivers 10 times the speed of 4G LTE. Response times as low as 5 milliseconds will virtually eliminate lag between input and response. As 5G becomes more reliable, it will hold true even for massive online games with a large number of competitors.

In a recent survey conducted by OpenSignal on the best networks for gaming experiences, mmWave 5G led the way—ahead of private wi-fi networks.

OFFLOADING PROCESSING

For IoT developers, 5G’s ability to bolster cloud computing poses major opportunities. 5G enables simple devices and sensors to complete complex tasks by offloading major processing duties to the cloud.

Mobile gaming can similarly benefit from the raw speed of 5G. Higher bandwidth and lower response times open up the possibility of offloading key processes. Games will be able to handle more arduous rendering duties remotely, producing a higher quality stream. With the cloud carrying the workload, the quality and age of the user’s device would matter significantly less provided the user has a 5G data plan. Gamers will still be able to expect the same high-quality experiences regardless of whether they have the latest smartphone.

AR AND VR BOON

Massive increases in streaming speed and cloud processing power will enable AR and VR developers to take their projects to the next level. Expect to see bigger, more detailed and immersive virtual worlds. For AR and VR apps to realize their potential, data needs to be rendered at the moment of decision-making. Lag and latency take users out of what’s intended to be the pinnacle of immersive gaming. The speeds of 5G will trigger a momentous evolution for AR and VR gaming.

CAN MOBILE GAMING OVERTAKE CONSOLES?

Smartphones provide game developers with the broadest platform and userbase. The bolstered processing power provided by smartphones with 5G will enable mobile devices to provide graphics on par with consoles. However, before mobile gaming can dethrone console gaming in terms of popularity, there are a few roadblocks.

While some major console games are available on mobile devices, the vast majority are not. Gamers are not at the point where they expect the same games on their mobile devices. Until game developers can effectively transfer major franchises to mobile devices, console gaming will remain king.

One of the major obstacles facing mobile gaming is the controller. iOS and Android touch screens simply cannot match the precision of playing on an Xbox Series X or PS5. Gamepads like the Backbone One latch onto smart devices to enable more fluid controls, but they also take away the mobile aspect of games since they are arduous to carry. Furthermore, they require every game to map inputs to each controller’s layout. The controller poses a simple but major problem and until it’s addressed, console gaming will provide more reliable experiences.

Mystic Media Announced as a 2022 Local Excellence Award Winner by UpCity!

For more than a decade, UpCity’s mission has been—and continues to be—to help businesses find B2B service providers they can trust. The UpCity Recommendability Rating was developed to determine a service provider’s credibility and recommendability, giving UpCity the confidence to recommend them to the more than 2 million businesses that visit their site.

Each year, UpCity analyzes and scores more than 70,000 service providers based on their UpCity Recommendability Rating and acknowledges the top national and local providers with an UpCity Excellence Award. The results are in, and we won!

We are proud to announce that the Mystic Media team has been recognized as one of the top B2B service providers of 2022 in the Salt Lake City area by UpCity!

Joe Banks, SVP of Engineering at UpCity, had this to say about Mystic Media:

“The team at Mystic Media brings decades of combined experience and quality that helps them stay ahead of the curve in all things digital. We are proud to recognize them with a 2022 Local Excellence Award. Congratulations!” —Joe Banks, SVP of Engineering, UpCity

This recognition has been driven in large part by our 4.9-star review rating on UpCity. Here are a few of our favorite pieces of feedback we’ve received from our incredible customers:

      • “This was a joint effort where we developed the hardware interface between our controller and Mystic Media developed the iOS app. Consequently, there was a lot of information exchange and testing during the process. The basic user interface was completed by Mystic Media in very short order. The rest of the development was the implementation of the various inputs and outputs. The interface retrieves and passes to the door controller via an RS485 communication port. The commands the app sends to the controller via the interface are in hexadecimal. I was very pleased with the speed and efficiency of the development and the ‘can do’ attitude of Mystic Media. They are very professional, respectful, and easy to work with. I would use them again.” – Carl Goodman, June 2021
      • “We hired Mystic for a large and complex project and are very happy with our experience. We were well out of our element with only an idea and a rough one at that. Their creative and knowledgeable team took our idea and pulled us into a process that was efficient and truly felt like a partnership. They care and want to help us see our vision through. We are currently very close to completion and I look forward to them being a valuable part of our journey forward!” – Russell Taylor, June 2021

Throughout the changes our industry has seen, the one thing that never gets old is seeing our clients succeed. We are so grateful for the collaboration opportunities we’ve had over the years and are honored to receive this recognition. 

Learn more about the UpCity Excellence Awards.

Stay Ahead of Your Competition with the Top Digital Marketing Trends of 2022

In an era of rapid technological acceleration, every year brings new avenues to market services and methods to boost sales. While the metaverse lurks on the horizon, it’s still in the developmental stage. Meanwhile, the current digital marketing landscape has evolved significantly within the past few years. Software developers and business owners must keep up on the latest trends in order to ensure that they don’t fall behind their competitors.

Here are some of the biggest trends in digital marketing today:

PERSONALIZATION

Success in digital marketing is increasingly dependent on how companies collect data and leverage it toward personalized ads. Studies show personalization can deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend.

Personalization at its most basic level entails targeting users based on their demographic or location. For example, Guinness created a hyper-localized ad campaign which incorporated a unique Facebook ad for every Guinness venue in the UK and Ireland. Over 30,000 localized video ads for over 2,500 bars were updated dynamically based on the rugby matches playing at a given time.

Personalization relies on three tenets: data discovery, automated decision-making, and content distribution. Major corporations like Amazon leverage more extensive data with automated decision-making dictated by robust AI algorithms. Netflix’s complex viewing algorithms determine what users may like to view next based on their past viewing habits. The result is not only improved user experience, but a more personal relationship with the brand.

SOCIAL COMMERCE

Projections from Accenture show social commerce will reach $1.2 trillion globally by 2025—about 300% faster than traditional ecommerce. Gen Z and Millennials will be the biggest spenders, accounting for 62% of social revenue by 2025. Platforms are working behind the scenes to improve customer experience by creating payment methods without leaving social media apps. Two major social platforms to watch are TikTok and Youtube.

TikTok usage has risen rapidly and reached 1 billion users and counting. Engagement has been titanic with users in the United States spending up to 850 hours per month on the app. It was the top earning non-gaming app in 2021 with $110 million spent by users and its potential will only grow as influencers earn huge amounts through sponsorship deals. TikTok is not just for Gen Z, it’s a rapidly growing network and brands are taking advantage by offering influencers huge amounts of money for branded content.

As brands move their investment in traditional TV models toward streaming, one platform which stands to benefit is Youtube. Global revenue for the video streaming channel soared to $29 billion, a 46% increase from 2020. Youtube is beginning to attract more traditional TV advertisers and consequentially, their ad business is nearly matching Netflix in revenue. While revenue is ascending, there remains significant headroom for major brands to up their investment in Youtube advertising as traditional cable models phase out.

IN-GAME ADVERTISING

Just over 50% of global revenue in the gaming industry is driven by mobile games. With gaming reaching a growth rate higher than all other entertainment industries, brands are looking to in-game advertising as a way of reaching a larger audience.

The gaming demographic has recently reached a 50-50 split between men and women. Contrary to most preconceptions, in-game advertising will help you reach a wider audience of both men and women. In-game advertising not only reaches a wider audience, it makes it easy to track click-throughs and analytics. Extensive analytics enable brands to collect very precise data about their customers and foster a deeper understanding of their habits.

Playable ads have arisen as a major hallmark for brands to market their games. Playable ads are interactive and encourage the user to try a snippet of functionality from the game. Check out the examples in the video below by Vungle.

CONCLUSION

Brands need to move as fast as the times if they hope to stay on the forefront of their industry. In the era of big data, the bigger your brand, the more possibilities digital marketing entails. As AI becomes more accessible, businesses of all sizes are wise to take advantage of the digital landscape and find ways to offer a more personal experience for their customers.

How Chatbots Make Healthcare More Efficient

In the mid 1960s, Joseph Weizenbaum of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory created ELIZA, an early natural language processing computer program and the first chatbot therapist. While ELIZA did not change therapy forever, it was a major step forward and one of the first programs capable of taking the Turing Test. Researchers were surprised by the amount of people who attributed human-like feelings to the computer’s responses.

Fast-forward 50 years later, advancements in artificial intelligence and natural language processing enable chatbots to become useful in a number of scenarios. Interest in chatbots has increased by 500% in the past 10 years and the market size is expected reach $1.3 billion by 2025.

Chatbots are becoming commonplace in marketing, customer service, real estate, finance, and more. Healthcare is one of the top 5 industries where chatbots are expected to make an impact. This week, we explore why chatbots appeal to help healthcare providers run a more efficient operation.

SCALABILITY

Chatbots can interact with a large number of users instantly. Their scalability equips them to handle logistical problems with ease. For example, chatbots can make mundane tasks such as scheduling easier by asking basic questions to understand a user’s health issues, matching them with doctors based on available time slots, and integrating with both doctor and patient calendars to create an appointment.

At the onset of the pandemic, Intermountain Healthcare was receiving an overload of inquiries from people who were afraid they may have contracted Covid-19. In order to facilitate the inquiries, Intermountain added extra staff and a dedicated line to their call center, but it wasn’t enough. Ultimately, they turned to artificial intelligence in the form of Scout, a conversational chatbot made by Gyant, to facilitate a basic coronavirus screening which determined if patients were eligible to get tested at a time when the number of tests were limited.

Ultimately, Scout only had to ask very basic questions—but it handled the bevy of inquiries with ease. Chatbots have proved themselves to be particularly useful for understaffed healthcare providers. As they employ AI to learn from previous interactions, they will become more sophisticated which will enable them to take on more robust tasks.

ACCESS

Visiting a doctor can be challenging due to the considerable amount of time it takes to commute. Working people and those without access to reliable transport may prevent them from taking on the hassle of the trip. Chatbots and telehealth in general provide a straightforward solution to these issues, enabling patients to receive insight as to whether an in-person consultation will be necessary.

While chatbots cannot provide medical insight and prognoses, they are effective in collecting and encouraging an awareness of basic data, such as anxiety and weight changes. They can help effectively triage patients through preliminary stages using automated queries and store information which doctors can later reference with ease. Their ability to proliferate information and handle questions will only increase as natural language processing improves.

A PERSONALIZED APPROACH — TO AN EXTENT

Chatbot therapists have come a long way since ELIZA. Developments in NLP, machine learning, and more enable chatbots to deliver helpful, personalized responses to user messages. Chatbots like Woebot are trained to employ cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to aid patients suffering from emotional distress by offering prompts and exercises for reflection. The anonymity of chatbots can help encourage patients to provide more candid answers unafraid of human judgment.

However, chatbots have yet to achieve one of the most important features a medical provider should have: empathy. Each individual is different, some may be scared away by formal talk and prefer casual conversation while for others, formality may be of the utmost importance. Given the delicacy of health matters, a lack of human sensitivity is a major flaw.

While chatbots can help manage a number of logistical tasks to make life easier for patients and providers, their application will be limited until they can gauge people’s tone and understand context. If recent advances in NLP and AI serve any indication, that time is soon to come.

How Business Owners Can Leverage the Metaverse to Turn a Profit

As many have heard, Facebook’s highly publicized rebranding as Meta in 2021 signaled their long-term expansion from social media into VR, the metaverse, and more. In the process, they launched the metaverse into a household name technology. The $500 million virtual real estate boom which proceeded only further hammered the point home—as far as Meta is concerned, the metaverse is the future. With VR and AR technologies developing at an astounding rate, businesses are entering the metaverse intent on generating revenue while the technology remains in its nascent stage.

The metaverse is here to stay—the question for business owners is: how can one take advantage of it? There is a long list of apps that use AR features to enhance the shopping experience. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app enables users to view how makeup will look before trying it on. The Ikea Place application enables users to view how furniture will look in their house before they place them.

The big question is: should you as a business owner delve into the metaverse? And if so, how can you leverage a metaverse presence to generate commerce? In this week’s blog, we present a few ideas to consider when making your decision.

REAL ESTATE

The first step to a metaverse presence is the acquisition of a virtual space for the business. Luckily, metaverse real estate has proven to be an extraordinarily profitable investment in and of itself. Armando Aguilar told Coindesk recently that the price of his three-bedroom, two-bathroom home outside New York City has appreciated two and a half times, while his metaverse property surged by 1,400% during that same time.

When purchasing real estate within the metaverse, consider which platform you’d like to see your company grow in. There’s a long list of options, from Sandbox to Decentraland, each with their own pros and cons.

When choosing a platform, consider which platform will provide the most short-term gains for your customers. Where do you anticipate long-term value? Investing wisely will lead to revenue as the price of virtual property rises.

For a list of the top metaverse platforms, check out XR Today’s list of the top metaverse platforms to watch in 2022.

EXPAND YOUR PHYSICAL PRESENCE

The metaverse presents an opportunity for companies to translate their brand into a virtual experience. Similar to the early aughts of the internet, companies which fail to capitalize on the new channel may lose money to companies that adopted the metaverse faster.

The metaverse differs from the internet in that it enables businesses to replicate three dimensional, physical spaces. This is a huge leap as we are physical beings and crave physical experiences.

While nothing can replace the physical retail experience, a great deal of commerce is generated by monetizing convenience. Delivery services like Amazon and Seamless generate billions of dollars in revenue by offering a variety of products to their customers through their digital presence, cutting out the need to stray from the home.

The metaverse capitalizes on our desire for physical experiences while enabling us to access them from the comfort of our couch. Rather than recreate their websites, businesses need to think about how they can create a physical experience for their customers.

Five years down the line, businesses will likely require a team of consultants and developers to build the metaverse experience. Check out the video below showing how Walmart created a physical shopping experience in the metaverse.

NFTs AND THE METAVERSE

Commerce in the metaverse will incorporate cryptocurrency and NFTs. NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, are unique digital files which function as certificates of ownership verified by the blockchain. They can be associated with any number of things—from sneakers, to songs and works of art. Although the market shows volatility similar to cryptocurrency, NFT value can appreciate by quite a bit.

NFTs represent a new buying channel that’s crucial to the metaverse. Creating exclusive experiences in the metaverse will draw your customers in.

Offering exclusive NFTs is a way to both create value and boost engagement with your customers. Adidas recently took advantage of this, generating over $23 million in ethereum in their first NFT drop.

Consider incorporating NFT’s alongside physical product drops. For example, offer an NFT to customers who enter the metaverse to make early pre-orders of future releases.

The metaverse is an opportunity to drive engagement and create value by offering personalized, exclusive experiences to your customers. NFTs are the perfect method to achieve this.

CONCLUSION

The metaverse poses a business opportunity for enterprises unafraid of innovation. What kind of experience can you deliver to your customers in the metaverse that you cannot in any other realm? Businesses which manage to answer that question will be rewarded with long-term profit.

How the Internet of Behaviors Will Shape the Future of Digital Marketing

In the digital age, businesses need to leverage every possible platform and cutting-edge technology in order to get a leg up on the competition. We’ve covered the Internet of Things extensively on the Mystic Media blog, but a new and related tech trend is making waves. This trend is called the Internet of Behaviors and according to Gartner, about 40% of people will have their behavior tracked by the IoB globally by 2023.

WHAT IS THE IOB?

Internet of Behavior, or the IoB, exists at the intersection of technology, data analytics, and behavioral science. The IoB leverages data collected from a variety of sources, including online activities, social media, wearable devices, commercial transactions and IoT devices, in order to deliver insights related to consumers and purchasing behavior.

With devices more interconnected than ever, the IoB tracks, gathers, combines and interprets massive data sets so that businesses can better understand their consumers. Businesses leverage analysis from the IoB to offer more personalized marketing with the goal of influencing consumer decision making.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Traditionally, a car insurance company would analyze a customer’s driving history in order to determine if they are a good or bad driver. However, in today’s digital age, they might take it a step further and analyze social media profiles in order to “predict” whether a customer is a safe driver. Imagine what insights they could gather from a user’s Google search history or Amazon purchases? Access to large datasets enables large companies to create psychographic profiles and gather an enhanced understanding of their customer base.

Businesses can use the IoB for more than just purchasing decisions. UX designers can leverage insights to deliver more effective customer experiences. Large companies such as Ford are designing autonomous vehicles that change based on the city, modulating behavior based on vehicle traffic, pedestrians, bicycles and more.

GBKSOFT created a mobile application that collects data from wearable devices in order to help golfers improve their skills. The application records each golf ball hit, including the stroke, force, trajectory and angle, and delivers visual recommendations to improve their swing and technique. Insights gathered through data are translated into behavioral trends that are then converted into recommendations to improve the user’s game.

The IoB is all about collecting data that can be translated into behavior which helps companies understand consumer tendencies and translate them into meaningful actions.

CONCERNS

While there is quite a bit of enthusiasm surrounding the potential impact of the IoB for B2C companies, a number of legal concerns come with it. A New York Times article, written by Harvard Business School emeritus professor Shoshana Zuboff, warns of the age of surveillance capitalism where tech behemoths surveil humans with the intent to control their behavior.

Due to the speed at which technology and the ability to collect data has proliferated, privacy and data security are under-regulated and major concerns for consumers. For example, Facebook was applying facial recognition scans in advance of the 2016 election without user’s consent. Cambridge Analytica’s use of psychoanalytic profiles has been the subject of much derision. Momentum for data privacy regulation is growing and since the IoB hinges on the ability for companies to collect and market data, forthcoming regulations could inhibit its impact.

CONCLUSION

Despite regulatory concerns, the IoB is a sector that we expect to see grow over time. As the IoT generates big data and AI evolves to learn how to parse through and analyze it, it’s only natural that companies will take the next step to leverage analysis to enhance their understanding of their customers’ behaviors and use it to their advantage. The IoB is where that next step will take place.

How Apple & Google Are Enhancing Battery Life and What We as App Developers Can Do to Help

In 1799, Italian physicist Alessandro Volta created the first electrical battery, disproving the theory that electricity could only be created by human beings. Fast forward 250 years, brands like Duracell and Energizer popularized alkaline batteries—which are effective, inexpensive and soon become the key to powering household devices. In 1991, Sony released the first commercial rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Although lithium-ion batteries have come a long way since the 90s, to this day they power most smartphones and many other modern devices.

While batteries have come a long way, so have the capabilities of the devices which need them. For consumers, battery life is one of the most important features when purchasing hardware. Applications which drain a device’s battery are less likely to retain their users. Software developers are wise to understand the latest trends in battery optimization in order to build more efficient and user-friendly applications.

HARDWARE

Lithium-ion batteries remain the most prevalent battery technology, but a new technology lies on the horizon. Graphene batteries are similar to traditional batteries, however, the composition of one or both electrodes differ. Graphene batteries increase electrode density and lead to faster cycle times as well as the ability to improve a battery’s lifespan. Samsung is allegedly developing a smartphone powered by a graphene battery that could fully charge its device within 30 minutes. Although the technology is thinner, lighter, and more efficient, production of pure graphene batteries can be incredibly expensive, which may inhibit its proliferation in the short-term.

Hardware companies are also coming up with less technologically innovative solutions to improve battery life. Many companies are simply attempting to cram larger batteries into devices. A more elegant solution is the inclusion of multiple batteries. The OnePlus 9 has a dual cell battery. Employing multiple smaller batteries means both batteries charge faster than a single cell battery.

SOFTWARE

Apple and Google are eager to please their end-users by employing techniques to help optimize battery life. In addition, they take care to keep app developers updated with the latest techniques via their respective developer sites.

Android 11 includes a feature that allows users to freeze apps when they are cached to prevent their execution. Android 10 introduced a “SystemHealthManager” that resets battery usage statistics whenever the device is unplugged, after a device is fully charged or goes from being mostly empty to mostly charged—what the OS considers a “Major charging event”.

Apple has a better track record of consuming less battery than Android. iOS 13 and later introduced Optimized Battery Charging, enabling iPhones to learn from your daily charging routine to improve battery lifespan. The new feature prevents iPhones from charging up to 100% to reduce the amount of time the battery remains fully charged. On-site machine learning then ensures that your battery is fully charged by the time the user wakes up based on their daily routines.

Apple also offers a comprehensive graph for users to understand how much battery is being used by which apps, off screen and on screen, under the Battery tab of each devices Settings.

WHAT APPLICATION DEVELOPERS CAN DO

App developers see a 73% churn rate within the first 90 days of downloading an app, leaving very little room for errors or negative factors like battery drainage. There are a number of techniques application developers can employ in their design to reduce and optimize battery-intensive processes.

It’s vital to review each respective app store’s battery saving standards. Both Android and Apple offer a variety of simple yet vital tips for reducing battery drain—such as limiting the frequency that an app asks for a device’s location and inter-app broadcasting.

One of the most important tips is to reduce the frequency of network refreshes. Identify redundant operations and cut them out. For instance, can downloaded data be cached rather than using the radio repeatedly to re-download it? Are there tasks that can be deferred by the app until the device is charging? Backing up data to the cloud can consume a lot of battery on a task that is not always time sensitive.

Wake locks keep the phone’s screen on when using an app. There was a time where wake locks were frequently employed—but now it is frowned upon. Use wake locks only when absolutely necessary—if at all.

CONCLUSION

Software developers need to be attentive to battery drain throughout the process of building their application. This begins at conception, through programming, all the way into a robust testing process to identify potential battery drainage pitfalls. Attention to the details of battery optimization will lead to better, more user-friendly applications.

Part 3: Techniques to Keep Users Coming Back & Increase Retention

How Gamification Can Boost Retention on Any App Part 3: Techniques to Keep Users Coming Back & Increase Retention

The Mystic Media Blog is currently endeavoring on a 3 part series on how gamification mechanics can boost retention on any app—not just gaming apps but utility apps, business apps and more. In this third entry, we explore additional techniques to keep users coming back and increase retention.

Your users have downloaded your app and are acclimated with its features. You’ve perfected your core loop to ensure users can complete meaningful actions in the app on a daily basis. Now the question becomes—how can you retain ongoing usage? The average cost to acquire a mobile app user is $4, yet retention rates can quickly drop from there. Statistics show that a 5% increase in retention can boost profitability by up to 75%.

There are a variety of techniques employed by mobile games that app developers can use in their non-gaming apps to keep users engaged long after the application ends.

INVEST IN THE FUTURE

An optimized application development process requires thinking about how your product can evolve beyond the initial release. Often this is due to schedule and budgetary constraints. It is natural in any creative endeavor to have more ideas than time and money to complete them. However, thinking long-term can be an advantage. New features entice users to continue using the application after download and to allow push notifications for fear of missing out on updates.

Mobile games often have to confront this since the amount of content they offer is finite—a certain amount of levels, achievements, and unlockables which can be completed. Games can offer additional modes and levels to entice users to come back. Similarly, non-gaming apps can offer new content—such as informative blogs, new features, and new product lines.

During the development process, plan out multiple phases and deliver new features and content updates on a regular basis. If you have a blog, host it on your application and keep users coming back for content updates.

IMPLEMENT SOCIAL FEATURES

Game developers know that “Socializers”, or users who thrive on social interaction, constitute one of the most important Bartle Types. Social features are crucial not only to retaining interest and daily usage of an application, but as a marketing technique to encourage users to engage with one another and spread the word. Once your userbase is established, implementing social features will increase engagement.

Consider implementing the following social features in phase 2 of your application:

  • Customizable user profiles: Enabling usernames, profile pictures, bios and other user customization features help users feel more connected to the app vis a vis their profile.
  • Rewarded social sharing: Encourage users to spread the love by rewarding them with discounts and reward points when they share to social media.
  • Likes and comments on products: Implementing comments and likes not only gives users another avenue for engagement, it creates a platform for automated push notifications that will likely result in more daily opens.
  • Follow and friend other users: Allowing users to connect can result in meaningful social relationships which will increase their connection with your application.
  • Rewarded actions: Encourage users to complete an action for the first time by offering them some kind of reward.

PUSH NOTIFICATIONS STRATEGY

Push notifications are integral to every app developers’ retention strategy. They are the most effective vessel for delivering timely reminders and relevant notifications about new features on applications. Users can disallow push notifications at any time, so developers need to pick their spots or risk losing one of their most prized tools.

When developing your push notification strategy, consider the following:

  • Timing: Rather than sending push notifications all at once, target users based on their time zone. Make sure the timing of your notifications makes sense based on the message.
  • Personalization: Optimize UI by tracking app usage data and leveraging it for personalized push notifications. Personalize push notifications based on a user’s behavior such as their purchase history to help build app loyalty and keep notifications relevant.
  • Prudence: If you bombard users with irrelevant notifications, the decision to unsubscribe to push notifications becomes easy. Exercise restraint when sending push notifications and only send valuable information and reminders.

Users are always looking for value and discount—which is why delivery and transportation applications often use push notifications to send discount codes. Shopping apps can also send push notifications which notify users when they have items left in their cart—a timely prompt to finish the purchase can directly lead to revenue.

KEEP INNOVATING

The app development process does not have to end with an apps initial release into app stores. Rolling out new features to maintain engagement with your audience and bolster your application will result in improved retention.