Tag Archives: Mobile

Part 2: Optimize Onboarding with Gamification

How Gamification Can Boost Retention on Any App Part 2: Optimize Onboarding with Gamification

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 second entry, we explore how to refine and gamify your onboarding process to keep customers coming back.

ONBOARDING

Your app has been downloaded—a hard-fought battle in and of itself—but the war isn’t over; the onboarding process has just begun.

App onboarding is the first point of contact a user has within an application. It’s one of the most crucial parts of the user experience. Situating users in your application is the first step to ensuring they come back. Twenty-five percent of apps are only opened once after being downloaded. Many apps simply do not make it simple enough for users to understand the value and get the hang of the application—step one in your retention process.

Here are the top tips for smooth onboarding:

MINIMIZE REGISTRATION

A prolonged registration process can turn off new users. Users do not always have time to fill out extensive forms and can quickly become resentful of the pacing of your app. Keep registration to a minimum, minimize required fields, and get users going faster.

We recommend enabling user registration altogether with “Continue as Guest” functionality. Games typically employ this and it enables users to get hands on with the application before they undergo the tenuous account creation process. Hook them with your app, then let them handle the administrative aspects later. Account creation with Google, Facebook, or Twitter can also save quite a bit of time.

Gamification is all about rewarding the user. Offer users an incentive to create their account to positively reinforce the process and you will see more accounts created. If they haven’t created an account, make sure to send prompts to remind them of what the reward they are missing out on. As we detailed in our last entry, FOMO is a powerful force in gamification.

TUTORIAL BEST PRACTICES

When a user enters your application for the first time, they generally need a helping hand to understand how to use it. Many games incorporate interactive tutorials to guide the user through functionality—and business apps are wise to use it as well. However, an ineffective tutorial will only be a detriment to your application.

Pacing is key. A long tutorial will not only bog the onboarding process down, too much information will likely go in and out of the user’s brain. Space your tutorial out and break it into different sections introducing key mechanics as they become relevant. On-the-go tutorials like the four-screen carousel below by Wavely help acclimate users quickly and easily.

And don’t forget to offer a reward! Offer users some kind of reward or positive reinforcement upon completing tutorials to encourage them to continue using the application.

AVOID DEAD ENDS AND EMPTY STATES

An empty state is a place in an application that isn’t populated with any information. For example, favorites, order history, accomplishments, etc.—these pages require usage in order to be populated for information. New users will see these pages and become confused or discouraged. Many applications will offer self-evident statement such as “No Favorites Selected”. Or, in the case of UberEats below, no message is displayed.

It’s confusing and discouraging for users to see these statements. Avoid discouraging your users by offering more information, for example: “Save your favorite restaurants and find them here.” Check out Twitter’s exemplary message for users who’ve yet to favorite a tweet below.

CONCLUSION

Onboarding is the first and most crucial step to building a relationship with your userbase. One of the major things business apps can learn from gaming apps is that time is of the essence when it comes to capturing a user’s attention. Keep it short, punchy, and to the point.

Top Mobile Marketing Trends Driving Success in 2021

Mobile app marketing is an elusive and constantly evolving field. For mobile app developers, getting new users to install games is relatively cheap at just $1.47 per user, while retaining them is much more difficult. It costs on average $43.88 to prompt a customer to make an in-app purchase according to Liftoff. An effective advertising strategy will make or break your UI—and your bank. In 2019, in-game ads made up 17% of all revenue. By 2024, that number is expected to triple.

2020 was a year that saw drastic changes in lifestyle—mobile app users were no exception. What trends are driving app developers to refine their advertising and development tactics in 2021? Check out our rundown below.

Real Time Bidding

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In-app bidding is an advanced advertising method enabling mobile publishers to sell their ad inventory in an automated auction. The technology is not new—it’s been around since 2015 when it was primarily used on a desktop. However, over the past few years, both publishers and advertisers have benefited from in app-bidding, eschewing the traditional waterfall method.

In-app bidding enables publishers to sell their ad space at auction. Advertisers simultaneously bid against one another. The dense competition enables a higher price (CPM) for publishers. For advertisers, bidding decreases fragmentation between demand sources since they can bid on many at once. In the traditional waterfall method, ad mediation platforms prioritize ad networks they’ve worked with in the past before passing it on the premium ad networks. In-app bidding changes the game by enabling publishers to offer their inventory to auctions which include a much wider swath of advertisers beyond the traditional waterfall.

Bidding benefits all parties. App publishers see increased demand for ad inventory, advertisers access more inventory, and app users see more relevant ads. In 2021, many expect in-app bidding to gain more mainstream popularity. Check out this great rundown by AdExchanger for more information on this exciting new trend.

Rewarded Ads Still King

rewarded ad

We have long championed rewarded ads on the Mystic Media blog. Rewarded ads offer in-game rewards to users who voluntarily choose to view an ad. Everyone wins—users get tangible rewards for their time, publishers get advertising revenue and advertisers get valuable impressions.

App usage data from 2021 only increases our enthusiasm for the format. 71% of mobile gamers desire the ability to choose whether or not to view an ad. 31% of gamers said rewarded video prompted them to browse for products within a month of seeing them. Leyi Games implemented rewarded video and improved player retention while bringing in an additional $1.5 million US.

Facebook’s 2020 report showed that gamers find rewarded ads to be the least disruptive ad format, leading to longer gameplay sessions and more opportunities for content discovery.

Playable Ads

Playable ads have emerged as one of the foremost employed advertising tactics for mobile games. Playable ads enable users to sample gameplay by interacting with the ad. After a snippet of gameplay, the ad transitions into a call to action to install the game.

The benefits are obvious. If the game is fun and absorbing to the viewer, it has a much better chance of getting installed. By putting the audience in the driver’s seat, playable ads drive increased retention rates and  a larger number of high lifetime value (LTV) players.

Check out three examples of impactful playable ads compiled by Shuttlerock.

Short Ads, Big Appeal

As we are bombarded with more and more media on a daily basis, finding a way to deliver a concise message while cutting through the clutter can be exceptionally difficult. However, recent research from MAGNA, IPG Media Lab, and Snap Inc. shows it may be well worth it.

Studies show short-form video ads drive nearly identical brand preference and purchase intent as 15 second ads. Whereas short form ads were predominantly employed to grow awareness, marketers now understand that longer ads are perceived by the user as more intrusive, and they can get just as much ROI out of shorter and less expensive content.

Check out the graph below, breaking down the efficacy of 6 second vs. 15 second ads via Business of Apps.

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Conclusion

Mobile advertisers need to think big picture in terms of both their target customer and how they format their ads to best engage their audience. While the trends we outlined are currently in the zeitgeist, ultimately what matters most is engaging app users with effective content that delivers a valuable message without intruding on their experience on the app.

For supplementary reading on mobile marketing, check out our blog on the Top Mobile Ad Platforms You Need to Know for 2021

Five Mobile Ad Platforms You Need to Know in 2021

For most mobile app developers, the majority of revenue comes from advertising. We have written in the past about the prevalence of the Freemium model and what tactics maximize both the retention and profits of mobile games. Another major decision every app developer faces is what mobile advertising platform to choose.

Mobile advertising represents 72% of all U.S. digital ad spending. Publishers have a variety of ad platforms to choose from, each with individual pros and cons. Here are the top mobile advertising platforms to consider for 2021:

Google AdMob

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Acquired by Google in 2010, Google AdMob is the most popular mobile advertising network. AdMob integrates high-performing ad formats, native ads, banner ads, video, and interstitial ads into mobile apps.

AdMob shows over 40 billion mobile ads per month and is the biggest player in the mobile ad space. Some users criticize the platform for featuring revenues on the lower side of the chart; however, the platform also offers robust analytics to help publishers glean insights into ad performance.

Facebook Ads

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Facebook’s Audience Network leverages the social media platform’s massive userbase toward offering publishers an ad network designed for user engagement and growth. Like AdMob, Facebook Ads offers a variety of ad types, including native, interstitial, banner, in-stream video, and rewarded video ads.

With over 1 billion users, Facebook has utilized their massive resources to build out their ad network. Facebook Ads provide state-of-the-art tools, support, and valuable insights to grow ad revenue. Facebook Ads sets itself apart by offering a highly focused level of targeting. Facebook collects a vast amount of data from its users, thus Facebook Ads enables app publishers to target based on a variety of factors (interests, behaviors, demographics and more) with a level of granularity deeper than any other platform.

InMobi

InMobi Logo

InMobi offers a different way of targeting users, which they have coined “Appographic targeting”. “Appographic targeting” analyzes the user’s existing and previous applications rather than traditional demographics. If a user is known to book flights via an app, then related ads, such as that of hotels and tourism will be shown.

The InMobi Mediation platform enables publishers to maximize their ad earnings with unified auction solutions and header bidding for mobile apps.

TapJoy

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TapJoy has received increased consideration from mobile game developers since the platform integrates with in-app purchases. Studies show that mobile players will engage with advertisements if offered a reward. TapJoy has capitalized on this by introducing incentivized downloading, which provides mobile gamers with virtual currency through completing real world actions. For example, a user can earn virtual currency in the game they are playing by downloading a related game in the app store.

TapJoy provides premium content to over 20,000 games and works with major companies like Amazon, Adidas, Epic Games, and Gillette.

Unity Ads

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Unity, the popular mobile app development platform, launched Unity Ads in 2014. Since then, it’s become one of the premier mobile ad networks for mobile games. Unity Ads supports iOS and Android mobile platforms and offers a variety of ad formats. One of the major features is the ability to advertise In-App Purchases displayed in videos (both rewarded and unrewarded) to players.

On a targeting level, Unity Ads allows publishers to focus on players that are most likely to be interested in playing specific games based on their downloads and gameplay habits. Many of the leading mobile game companies use Unity to build their app and Unity Ads as their ad platform.

CONCLUSION

These are not the only mobile ad networks, but for app publishers looking to stay current, they are the premier platforms to research. Other platforms like media.net, Chartboost, Snapchat Ads, Twitter Ads, and AppLovin also merit consideration.

When it comes to advertising, every app and app publisher has different needs. Since advertising plays a massive role in generating revenue, mobile app developers set themselves up for success when they do the research, and can find what ad platforms are best suited to their product.

iOS 14 Revamps the OS While Android 11 Offers Minor Improvements

Every time Apple announces a new device or OS, it is a cultural event for both consumers and app developers. When Apple announced iOS 14 in June 2020 during the WWDC 2020 keynote, few anticipated it would be one of the biggest iOS updates to date. With a host of new features and UI enhancements, the release of iOS 14  has become one of the most hotly anticipated moments of this year in technology.

On the other side of the OS war, Android has released four developer previews in 2020 of their latest OS offering: Android 11. Currently, Android 11 is currently available in a beta release ahead of its target launch in August/September.

The two biggest OS titans have effectively upped the ante on their rivalry. Here is a summary everything you need to know on how they stack up against one another:

iOS 14

iOS 14 is a larger step forward for iOS than Android 11 is for Android. In relation to iOS 13, it revamps the iOS to become smarter and more user-friendly while streamlining group conversations.

While iMessage remains the most popular messaging platform on the market, competitors like WhatsApp, Discord and Signal include a variety of features previously unavailable on iOS devices. iOS 14 closes the gap with its competitors, offering a host of UI enhancements specifically targeting group conversations—one of the most popular features on iMessage:

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  • Pinned Conversations: Pin the most important conversations to the top of your profile to make them easier to access.
  • Group Photos: iOS 14 enhances group conversations by allowing users to give group conversations a visual identity using a photo, Memoji, or emoji.
  • Mentions: Users can now directly tag users in their messages within group conversations. When a user is mentioned, their name will be highlighted in the text and users can customize notifications so that they only receive notifications when they are mentioned.
  • Inline Replies: Within group conversations, users can select a specific message and reply directly to it.

One of the major upgrades in iOS 14 is the inclusion of Widgets on the home screen. Widgets on the home screen have been redesigned to offer more information at a glance. They are also customizable to give the user more flexibility in how they arrange their home screen.

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iOS 14 introduces the App Library, a program which automatically organizes applications into categories offering a simple, easy-to-navigate view. App Library helps make all of a user’s applications visible at once and allow users to customize how they’d like their applications to be categorized.

In addition to incorporating a variety of UI enhancements, iOS 14 is significantly smarter. Siri is equipped with 20x more facts than it had three years ago. iOS 14 improves language translation, offering 11 different languages. Users can download the languages based on what they will need to keep translations private without requiring an internet connection.

Apple has also introduced a number of UI enhancements to help make the most of screen real estate:

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Compact Calls condense the amount of screen real estate occupied by phone calls from iPhone, FaceTime, and third-party apps, allowing users to continue viewing information on their screen both when a call comes in and when they are on a call.

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Picture in Picture mode similarly allows users to condense their video display so that it doesn’t take up their entire screen, allowing the user to navigate their device without pausing their video call or missing part of a video that they are watching.

ANDROID 11

In comparison to iOS 14, Android 11 is not a major visual overhaul of the platform. However, it does offer an array of new features which enhance UI.

  • Android 11 introduces native screen recording, allowing users to record their screen. It is a useful feature already included in iOS, particularly helpful when demonstrating how applications work.
  • While recording videos, Android allows users to mute notifications which would otherwise cause the recording to stop.
  • Users can now modify the touch sensitivity of their screen, increasing or decreasing sensitivity to their liking.
  • Android 11 makes viewing a history of past notifications as easy as it has ever been using the Notification History button.
  • When users grant an Android app access to a permission, in the current OS, the decision is written in stone for all future usage. Based on this decision, the application will have permanent access, access during usage, or will be blocked. Android 11 introduces one-time permissions, allowing users to grant an application access to a permission once and requiring the question to be posed again the next time they open it.

IOS 14 VS. ANDROID 11

While Android offers a variety of small improvements, iOS 14 provides the iOS platform with a major visual overhaul. This year, it is safe to say that iOS 14 wins the battle for the superior upgrade. With both Android and iOS slated for a fall release, how users respond to the new OS’s remains to be seen.

Maximize Profits with the Top Freemium Tactics of 2020

The global gaming market is estimated at $152 billion, with 45% derived from mobile games. The mobile game market is constantly evolving, new tactics and even platforms, like Apple Arcade, are being introduced. As a mobile game developer, being dynamic and staying up on the latest trends is of the utmost importance. Staying on top of these trends will help make a more engaging and profitable mobile game.

Keeping this in mind, below are the top freemium tactics of 2020:

RETENTION IS (STILL) KING

Mobile game developers must remember that freemium games begin and end with a good retention strategy that keeps users engaged.

Daily Tasks: Set-up daily tasks that pass the Starbucks Test. One of them can be opening the app on a daily basis. These should be fairly simple to complete and offer a reward, encouraging users to integrate gameplay into their daily lives.

Rewards Pack on User Birthdays: Give users some kind of bonus on their birthday to enrich their personal relationship with the game.

Challenge Dormant Users: After 3 days, give users a special, temporary challenge to reengage them with the app. Temporary promotions can be an effective way to instill a sense of urgency in the call-to-action and trigger users to open the app.

Promotion Before Subscription/Free Trial Ends: Tempt the user to sign-up or to extend their subscription by offering a temporary promotion 24-48 hours before their free trial/subscription ends.

When it comes to measuring retention, check out the model retention rates below from The Tool (Performance-Based Mobile ASO):

  • Day 1 Retention – 40%
  • Day 7 Retention – 20%
  • Day 28 Retention – 10%

Retention can also be tracked hourly instead of daily where Day 1 Retention will be the percentage of users who returned within 24-48 hours from the install. Here’s how it might look in analytics systems such as devtodev (via The Tool):

Retention-Analytics

OUTSTREAM VIDEO ADS

Outstream Video is a new type of video ad unit, referred to sometimes as “native video”, designed for targeting mobile users.

Outstream Video ads do not require placement within a Youtube video. They play with the sound off on mobile screens when more than 70% of the ad is visible. The user can tap the ad to turn the sound on and restart the video from the beginning, or they can continue scrolling. When less than 70% of the ad is visible, the video pauses.

Advertisers such as the Hong Kong tourism board have had great success using Outstream Video ads, delivering 30% incremental reach with a 40% lower cost per completed video and 85% lower CPM.

REWARDED ADS PAY OFF

When it comes to monetizing a mobile game through advertising, rewarded ads remain at the top of the food chain. A recent survey of app publishers asked what their most successful monetization method was. Rewarded Video Ads won with 75% of the vote.

By offering users some kind of in-game reward, such as an extra life, a bonus item, or a new avatar, app developers can improve UI and engagement while encouraging ad views without bothering the user. Rewarded ads remain the ad unit with the highest earning potential.

LOOT BOXES

A loot box is a randomized box of in-game prizes. Users pay for an in-app purchase, but there is no guarantee of whether it will contain gold or pennies, the user has to make the decision to purchase in exchange a random reward. While this tactic is somewhat controversial in Europe where Belgium and the Netherlands have cracked down and labeled it gambling, it remains a popular tactic. Loot boxes are particularly effective for  Whales, wealthy mobile game users who will readily pay to improve their performance in the game.

SELL YOUR DATA

The collection and sale of data is a massive industry. If your app offers the technical means to collect user-generated data such as geolocation, it may be worth it to acquire user consent to license that data.

Applications like Waze & Foursquare receive community-generated data from their users and effectively leverage it to monetize their applications. Waze licenses data to businesses placing location-based ads, whereas Foursquare licenses point of interest geolocation data to Google & Apple for their first party GPS apps Apple Maps & Google Maps.

CONCLUSION

It is important to keep in mind that monetization is the icing on the cake—without an engaging game that hooks users, there will be nothing to monetize. However, making key decisions in the development process with the monetization strategy in mind will *literally* pay off in the long run.

Check out our previous blogs on Mobile Game Monetization for an overview of the fundamentals.

How to Invest Wisely in an Application Development Project

All well-designed apps begin with an efficient app development process. An inefficient app development process will result in succumbing to pitfalls that will not only prove costly, but also lead to sub-par functionality. Here are our top tips on how to invest wisely in an application development project:

COME PREPARED

When developing your app, you need to know all of the ins and outs of what you want out of your product. During the course of the development process, you will be asked every applicable question and you will need to be able to answer them and to communicate your vision to the app development team so that they are inside your head and know it almost as well as you do.

Rather than waiting for the question to come up, get ahead of it with thorough preparation.

App development starts with the creation of a specifications document elucidating all aspects of the app to be built to ensure a thorough understanding of the idea. Create your own specifications in advance of reaching out to teams and make sure it’s comprehensive. Review the app specifications document thoroughly with prospective partners, make sure they have a comprehensive understanding and it accounts for everything you need your app to do.

Preparation is absolutely vital to staying on the same page with your application development team and avoiding costly hiccups and rebuilds down the line.

FIND THE RIGHT TEAM

Every client has different needs and every app development company has different strengths and weaknesses. Finding the right team is crucial for building the product that will get your business to the next level.

Some clients only need app development specialists, while others look for companies that can take a more holistic approach to their projects and provide input or services on marketing, web development, design and more. Ruminate on your unique needs, research and understand prospective companies strengths and weaknesses, and ensure it is a good match before committing to a long-term partnership with a company.

We recommend seeking a collaborative team with experts in app development as well as project management and the ability to expedite development by putting more programmers on projects. The best app development teams have experienced programmers that have built many apps before and can walk you through the process with ease.

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WIREFRAMES

The use of wireframes will save time and money in the app development process. A wireframe is a visual schematic or blueprint that outlines the design for an application without programming the core functions. Mobile app wireframes can take the form of downloadable apps or as websites. Wireframes replicate how the app will work and the flow of screens without incorporating core programming.

Wireframes save time and money because they help app developers get on the same page with their clients without requiring a hefty amount of programming. After reviewing the wireframes, clients can request modifications or approve the designs. The app development team then commences core programming.

The creation of wireframes before programming key functions and additions will save time, money, and headaches.

MAKE IT SCALABLE

Oftentimes when beginning the application development process, businesses elect to start by focusing on the Minimum Viable Product. While understanding what’s needed for the MVP and what’s extraneous to it, it’s vital to have an understanding of what features you may want to add in the future so that the application can be scalable to enable future iterations of the app.

While focusing on Phase 1 of the development process (building the MVP), keep a running wishlist of functions desired for Phase 2 of the development process so that as functions are added and modified, everyone remains cognizant of how current changes will support future functionality.

Mobile-app-testing

TEST, TEST, TEST

Testing doesn’t begin upon the completion of the application, it’s an ongoing process that occurs internally as new components of the app are built. It is vital not to underbudget for testing, a common mistake in the app development process.

Core functions need to be repeatedly tested, as does UI and usability. Employing dedicated testers to specialize in testing specific components like core functions, sound, design, and more will ensure a fully-functioning app.

Veteran developers use test-driven development (TDD) in which programmers create tests to define the function or improvements of a function, run tests to see if the test fails, write the code so that tests pass, run tests again, correct the code, and repeat until all tests are passed. Test-driven development guarantees code coverage with unit tests for all functions.

CONCLUSION

When hiring an app development company to build your application, hire for the long haul. An ongoing strategic relationship will help you grow and if you choose the right partner, efficiency will increase as your collaborative relationship develops. A mobile application is a major investment of time and money—invest wisely!

Contact us today to learn about how our team can efficiently build your next mobile app.

Protect Your Enterprise with the Top Mobile App Security Tips of 2019

A recent study conducted by AppKnox concluded that out of 100 top E-commerce apps, 95% failed basic security testing, 68% had four or more loopholes present in them, and 68% of apps were diagnosed with high severity threats.

Some of the most popular applications, including WhatsApp, Pokemon Go, and Facebook Messenger, are among the most frequently blacklisted among top enterprises due to the security risks they pose.

As a mobile app developer, security can lead to disaster for both your business and your consumers. Here are our top security tips for 2019:

TESTING AND CODE OPTIMIZATION

The two most important processes for building a secure app are extensive testing and constant refinement of code.

Disorganized code often causes data security risks. Minify code to ensure it is clean and concise and does not burden the application. When coding, think like an attacker and address any vulnerability a hacker could use to penetrate your application. Use libraries that show coding errors to ensure you catch security risks.

By budgeting for a rigorous testing and quality assurance process from the outset of the application development process, software developers ensure their applications will be thoroughly secure. Do not allow time-constraints getting a product to market to interfere with this crucial step. Test for functionality, usability, and security. Test, test, and test some more.

SECURE YOUR APIs

Enterprise developers are relying on application programming interfaces (APIs) more than ever, posing additional security requirements. API development and mobile app development share security considerations. Any vulnerability in an API is a vulnerability in the applications that the API connects. Solve potential headaches with the following tips:

  • Ensure all APIs integrated in your app are optimized for security.
  • Monitor all add-on software carefully to ensure that they do not present any system vulnerabilities.
  • Budget time to test the security of your APIs as well.

Check out TechBeacon’s 8 essential best practices for API security for additional reading.

LIMIT DATA COLLECTION AND PERMISSIONS

By collecting as little data as possible and minimizing permissions, app developers limit vulnerable attack points on their app. If the app does not require access to the camera or contacts, don’t request it. The same sentiment can be applied to data: make sure  users are aware of what data your application is collecting from them and only collect user data that is vital to the application’s functionality.

INTEGRATE A SECURITY TEAM FROM DAY ONE

Incorporating a dedicated security team from the inception of the development process on will ensure that the application has a cohesive security strategy intertwined with app functionality. Bringing the security team in from day one will minimize vulnerabilities that otherwise may slip through the cracks if they are brought on later in the process.

PROTECT CONSUMER DATA

Consumer data is generally the most vulnerable element for any app. The higher the volume of consumer data, the more there is for hackers to steal. In addition to limiting data collections, app developers should look into new data encryption technologies and biometric authentication. Decentralized database technology like the blockchain cryptology are among the most high-tech data protection measures tech companies can undertake.

Learn more about the Blockchain for mobile development via Application Development Trends.

CONCLUSION

In order to maintain secure environments, app developers must stay constantly stay up-to-date on the latest security technologies. Reading tech publications and maintaining awareness of the latest trends will ensure your enterprise is ready to integrate with tomorrow’s tech.

Secure Your Cryptocurrency with the Right Wallet

While blockchain technology ensures that cryptocurrency transactions are immutable, irreversible, and secure, where cryptocurrency is stored is a determining factor in how secure it is. Having a vulnerable cryptocurrency wallet is like storing money at a suspicious bank: it’s unsafe and it behooves the investor to do enough research to sleep at night knowing their assets are safe.

WHAT IS A CRYPTOCURRENCY WALLET?

Every transaction in the blockchain shared record is signed by a private key linked to the user’s account. As we covered in the first blog in our cryptocurrency series, the blockchain is the decentralized mechanism that prevents double spending and validates transactions. Cryptocurrency wallets store the private keys. Although cryptocurrencies are not stored within the wallet, they are protected by the address created and stored by the wallet. Deciding on the right wallet for your cryptocurrency is one of the most important decisions since it will make or break the security of your assets.

There are five different types of wallets to choose from: mobile wallets, desktop wallets, hardware wallets, paper wallets and online wallets.

PAPER WALLETS

Paper wallets are the most basic form of wallet. They are an offline wallet consisting of two QR Codes. One of the codes is the cryptocurrency address and the other is the associated encrypted private key.

The benefit of a paper wallet is that it cannot be hacked. It is essentially a piece of paper that is stored in a safe place like a safe or safety deposit box. Unfortunately, while paper wallets may be exceptionally safe since they are unhackable, they are not exceptionally nimble. If you are looking to buy and sell cryptocurrencies frequently, this may not be the option for you.

ONLINE WALLETS

If you are new to cryptocurrency and have recently invested, chances are you are currently using an online wallet like Coinbase, Blockchain, or Xapo. Online wallets are run by third-party providers, so the security of currency is dependent on the company running the show. As the hack of NiceHash proves, this is not always the best thing. CoinBase insures their client’s investments and stores the majority of their cryptocurrency offline. While Online Wallets provide an easy avenue for buying and selling cryptocurrencies, storing cryptocurrency offline is significantly safer.

MOBILE WALLETS

Mobile cryptocurrency wallets are software wallets that make cryptocurrency available through mobile devices. One of the benefits of a mobile wallet is that merchants that accept cryptocurrency can use NFC technology to sync with their apps and provide wireless payments.

The most popular mobile wallets include Copay, breadwallet, and for Android users: Bitcoin Wallet. While mobile wallets make cryptocurrencies nimble, they are only as secure as the smartphone on which they are being used. Storing large amounts of cryptocurrency on mobile devices is not recommended, but they can be a good tool for investors who are buying and selling cryptocurrency on the go.

DESKTOP WALLETS

Like mobile wallets, desktop wallets are software designed for desktop computers. They are more secure than mobile wallets, but less nimble. Still, for those who want to secure their cryptocurrency and don’t mind being limited to their computer, desktop wallets are a great option.

Bitcoin Core is the original Bitcoin wallet, but it is somewhat techy and precarious to install as it requires downloading the entire blockchain.

Electrum is one of the most popular desktop bitcoin wallets. It’s easy to use and it can be configured for advanced features like TOR and cold storage, making it accessible to newbies with higher functionality for high-tech users.

Exodus features one of the best UIs available for a wallet. It allows users to instantly trade currencies stored within the exchange between themselves and it is partially open source.

HARDWARE WALLETS

Aside from paper wallets, hardware wallets are the most secure method of securing cryptocurrency. Hardware wallets are small computers, smartcards, or dongles created to generate private keys offline, securely signing transactions in the offline environment. Like paper wallets, hardware wallets cannot be hacked remotely and are as secure as the place in which they are stored. The only difference is that hardware wallets, like all technology, can lose functionality with age and improper upkeep.

The best hardware wallets are Ledger Nano and Trezor. Ledger Nano is a smartcard-based hardware wallet that can be used on any computer or Android phones with Mycelium or Greenbits mobile wallets. Trezor is a tiny computer, rather than a smartcard, but both upon set-up generate a random 24-word seed that backs-up the funds and can be used to recover all funds within the wallet. It is best to have a hardware wallet with its own screen, like Trezor, since hardware wallets that plug into the computer expose themselves to the security vulnerabilities of the computer.

TAKEAWAY

There are many ways to store cryptocurrency with varying levels of security. For those who are looking for the most secure method, hardware and paper wallets are the best route. For those who are looking to trade on the go, mobile and online wallets provide the best flexibility. Desktop wallets are the happy medium. So long as wallet options have been researched, cryptocurrency investors can rest easy knowing they made the informed decision.

Next week, for the next installment of our blog series on cryptocurrencies, we will explore the revolutionary mechanics of the Blockchain. Stay tuned!

The Real Power of Artificial Intelligence

Technological innovations expand the possibilities of our world, but they can also shake-up society in a disorienting manner. Periods of major technological advancement are often marked by alienation. While our generation has seen the boon of the Internet, the path to a new world may be paved with Artificial Intelligence.

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Artificial intelligence is defined as the development of computer systems to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, including speech recognition, visual perception, and decision-making. As recently as a decade ago, artificial intelligence evoked the image of robots, but AI is software not hardware. For app developers, the modern-day realization of artificial intelligence takes on a more amorphous form. AI is on all of your favorite platforms, matching the names and faces of your friends. It’s planning the playlist when you hit shuffle on Apple Music. It’s curating the best Twitter content from you based on data-driven logic that is often too complex even for the humans who programmed the AI to decipher.

MACHINE LEARNING

Currently, Machine Learning is the primary means of achieving artificial intelligence. Machine Learning is the ability for a machine to continuously improve its performance without humans having to explain exactly how to accomplish all of the tasks it has been given. Web and Software programmers create algorithms capable of recognizing patterns in data imperceptible to the human eye and alter their behavior based on them.

For example, Google’s autonomous cars view the road through a camera that streams the footage to a database that centralizes the information of all cars. In other words, when one car learns something—like an image or a flaw in the system—then all the cars learn it.

For the past 50 years, computer programming has focused on codifying existing knowledge and procedures and embedding them in machines. Now, computers can learn from examples to generate knowledge. Thus, Artificial Intelligence has already permanently disrupted the standard flow of knowledge from human to computer and vice versa.

PERCEPTION AND COGNITION

Machine learning has enabled the two biggest advances in artificial intelligence:  perception and cognition. Perception is the ability to sense, while cognition is the ability to reason. In a machine’s case, perception refers to the ability to detect objects without being explicitly told and cognition refers to the ability to identify patterns to form new knowledge.

Perception allows machines to understand aspects of the world in which they are situated and lays the groundwork for their ability to interact with the world. Advancements in voice recognition have been some of the most useful. In 2007, despite its incredibly limited functionality, Siri was an anomaly that immediately generated comparisons to HAL, the Artificial Intelligence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. 10 years later, the fact that iOS 11 enables Siri to translate French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish is a passing story in our media lifecycle.

Image recognition has also advanced dramatically. Facebook and iOS both can recognize your friends’ faces and help you tag them appropriately. Vision systems (like the ones used in autonomous cars) formerly made a mistake when identifying a pedestrian once in every 30 frames. Today, the same systems err less than once in 30 million frames.

EXPANSION

AI has already made become a staple of mainstream technology products. Across every industry, decision-making executives are looking to capitalize on what AI can do for their business. No doubt whoever answers those questions first will have a major edge on their competitors.

Next week, we will explore the impact of AI on the Digital Marketing industry in the next installment of our blog series on AI.