Tag Archives: Smartphone

How To Design Battery-Efficient Geolocation Apps

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The ability for smartphones to offer location services fostered major opportunities for app developers looking to create new apps and enhance functionality of existing apps. Tinder, FourSquare, & Waze use geolocation in the center of their functionality to great success. In combination, these three apps can help a user determine a dinner companion, restaurant of choice, and route to the restaurant. By delivering location-sensitive information to users regardless of where they are in the country, these apps appeal to massive audiences.

Programming geolocation services into an app will have a major impact on the overall quality of the app—and it’s easier said than done. Inefficient geolocation services drain device battery life and deliver inaccurate location data. When apps drain battery life, users uninstall them. In order to determine the best method of programming geolocation services, it is vital for app developers to know who is going to be using the app and how they are going to use it.

Location can be determined by a smartphone in a number of ways. The most widespread include:

GPS: All modern iOS & Android smartphones are equipped with GPS technology. GPS can use at least four satellites to determine a user’s location within about 60 feet.

Cell ID: When GPS isn’t available, phones can use Cell ID, information from cellular towers, to determine location. Cell ID is ideal in big cities with vast amounts of cell towers. Serial fans should be familiar with how cellular tower information can be vital in identifying one’s location. GPS & Cell ID can also work in conjunction to deliver a more precise GPS location.

Wi-Fi: Devices can detect Wi-Fi networks in the same way they can detect cellular towers, but Wi-Fi is more precise as Wi-Fi networks cover smaller regions. Devices can use RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indication) to refer signals from the phone with Wi-Fi points database. Devices can also use the user’s frequently visited places, a profile or wireless fingerprint based on locations in Wi-Fi networks frequented by the user. Wi-Fi can identify a user’s position within 2 meters of accuracy.

The decision of how an app should prioritize these three methods to determine location is a vital one. If users are located in the city, that means both dense Wi-Fi router and cell tower coverage will open up options. If the app is being used primarily in a domestic situation, Wi-Fi might be both the most accurate and efficient method. Apps designed for rural areas may have to use Wi-Fi due to lack of cell towers.

Geofencing Graphic from Applidium

GEOFENCING

Geofencing utilizes a device’s GPS to determine a user’s distance from a particular point. Geofencing can sense when a user enters within a set radius defined by the coordinates of its center. Geofencing will sense when users are inside or outside of a retailer and offer action prompts for either space. There are three types of geofencing:

Static geofencing is based on a user’s position in relation to a specific place. For example, a retailer app sends a message to users who pull into the parking lot of a mall containing the retailer.

Dynamic geofencing takes into account both a user’s location and a changing data stream. For example, a parking app sends the user a message about a recently evacuated parking space that the user is approaching.

Combined geofencing determines when a user enters into a location in relation to other users. For example, apps like Yelp, Facebook, or FourSquare send notifications if a friend checks into a nearby merchant .

CREATING BATTERY-EFFICIENT APPLICATIONS

Making a geolocation app battery-efficient is one of the biggest challenges  app developers face in the programming stage. Developers must create a comprehensive strategy based on their audience.

ACTION THRESHOLDS: Defining accurate action thresholds and use-cases for an app’s geolocation services will dictate its level of battery-efficiency. The more precise your location accuracy requirements, the greater the battery drain. Action thresholds and use-cases define how an app is intended to be used, allowing a framework for developers to enact an efficient model of internal processes for location determination.

COMPREHENSIVE TESTING: Testing the app aggressively to gather a large amount of data is the only way to know the most efficient action thresholds. The more the developer understands how an app is being used, the more they can refine their programming. After release, continuing to gather analytics from user behavior and refine tactics based on how users are getting value from the app becomes a crucial ongoing process.

POLLING FREQUENCY: One of the major variables dictated by action thresholds is polling frequency. The more an app polls for locations, the better its location accuracy. The necessary level of location accuracy varies depending on the app. The precision of location accuracy necessary for an app to be functional can vary. A restaurant app, for example, might be able to get away with accuracy from 200 meters to a few kilometers, while an app that locates friends might need accuracy within 10 – 20 meters.

Evaluating the most efficient polling frequency requires thorough use-cases and some creativity. Programmers can design algorithms to reduce polling frequency if an app hasn’t changed locations for several minutes. Programmers can also analyze the speed of the device and use this data to change polling frequencies. A developer may elect to increase polling frequency as a car accelerates to ensure they maintain location accuracy within a selected radius.

DEFERRING TO OS: Many major mobile platforms will share geolocation information at an operating system level. As a result, any app that is listening can receive location updates requested by other apps. By deferring to other apps already polling for location data, apps can minimize battery drain while still retaining acceptable location data.

Check out Apple and Android’s developers’ sites for more information on best practices for programming location services.

Monetizing IoT: How the Internet of Things Builds Fortunes

A man sits in a restaurant and orders “The John Candy Burger” (a double cheeseburger with four strips of bacon and a fried egg) through a touch screen embedded into the table. As he gives the waiter his order, his smartwatch vibrates. He checks a push notification which tells him he should not order “The John Candy Burger” based on information gathered from a sensor in his body which has been monitoring his blood pressure and cholesterol among other notable health measurements in a constant stream of data for 15 years with infallible predictive capabilities. It tells him this specific cheeseburger from this specific restaurant will increase his risk of a heart attack on his daily run by 8%. He doesn’t understand how, but he accepts it the way one accepts that the earth is round and the Great Pyramid of Giza existed in 2540 BC.

In the above fictional example, the Internet of Things took the man’s order, evaluated the average nutritional content of the burger based on data gathered through sensors embedded into a smart grill, and transmitted it to the smartwatch where it analyzed nutritional content in the context of over 15 years of health data gathered on the man to inform him on the potential risk of his decision. The Internet of Things is bigger than money. It’s a new world where planes don’t crash and  smartphones can tell their users the location of the nearest empty parking spot to minimize travel time and ensure the city is maintaining optimum functionality. A pregnant wife is gently guided through a safe 9-month path to the newest addition to her family. The edges of the world are being smoothed out by data. The Internet of Things is leading the human race toward new levels of efficiency, productivity and effectiveness.

“Show me the money”

As a major technological evolution takes place, many businesses are looking to monetize it. Although the world has yet to see the full impact of the Internet of Things, it has already revolutionized process improvement for everything from manufacturing to health care, product enhancement, and safety. For the developer eager to enter a burgeoning field with infinite possibilities, here are some of the common techniques for monetizing IoT applications.

ONE-TIME PAY + FREE APP

The most basic monetization method entails creating a simple product with everyday applications, like Jawbone and the Phillips Hue Connected Bulb for example, and offering the equipment for purchase which works in conjunction with a connected app for iOS & Android. This method is most effective for products where the manufacturing cost to market ratio is kept low.

SUBSCRIPTION-BASED

One of the major issues with the IoT is the amount of data generated regularly by their devices. The amount of data and possibilities are so staggering, it’s vital to understand and decide upon relevant metrics and analysis tactics. For developers, it means that the cost of maintaining many IoT apps calls for a constant stream of revenue. Companies like Audi offer a hotspot subscription, ranging from 6 to 30 months, for Audi Connect, their hotspot navigation system utilizing Google Earth and Voice to offer real-time alerts, weather and traffic. In some applications, data plans will likely emerge as a another way of tiering subscription-based purchases.

WHITE LABEL SERVICES

Perhaps the most profitable and complex option, monetizing IoT applications through white label services entails having the foresight to identify the future of the technology and the necessary human & financial resources to act upon it effectively through the creation of a template offering which businesses can rebrand as their own. Jasper Technologies created the Connected Car Cloud as a cloud-based turnkey solution for developing smart-cars with real-time diagnostics, safety, security, and more.

Acquired by Cisco for about $1.4 billion in March, Jasper is one of the big success stories of IoT monetization and a model for future innovators looking to capitalize on the business opportunities brought about by the Internet of Things.

Learn more about IoT through this awesome article with advice from early adopters via Computer World.

Mobile Game Monetization Methods for Bartle Types: Make Bank off Killer Gameplay

The Mystic Media Blog is currently engaged in a series of articles examining each of the Bartle types and how to acquire, retain and monetize them according to their desires. Check out last week’s article on Explorers.

Bartle Types Taxonomy Via Extra Credits

The Killer is the wild card of the Bartle Types. While both Achievers and Killers are competitive,  Achievers compete with/through the game, whereas Killers compete with anyone or anything in their immediate vicinity. The Achiever wants to act upon the game according to the rules of gameplay, while the Killer just wants an immediate thrill. They derive pleasure from interfering with the functioning of the gameplay and/or the experience of other players. Like Internet “trolls”, Killers gleefully enact subversive behavior under the guise of their game persona. They aren’t interested in winning, socializing or exploring – they just want to provoke and impose themselves on the virtual world and its inhabitants.

Killers thrive on the experience of disrupting gameplay. Achievers represent the ultimate target since they are most antagonized by being killed. As a result, in multiplayer games, the more Achievers you have, the more Killers you’ll have, which may lead to a decrease in Achievers and overflow of Killers depending on the level of engagement of the gameplay. Explorers also represent easy prey for Killers, and if there are too many high level Killers, it may become hard for Explorers to explore. Socializers also make an appealing target for Killers in multiplayer games. Like Socializers, Killers are interested in interaction and influence. Some of the same retention tactics apply to both Bartle Types.

The best way to retain Killers is to give them opportunities to disrupt other players or the world of the game. In MMORPGs and shooters, it’s easy for them to find other players to kill. The challenge in single player games (especially single player mobile games) is how to appeal to a Bartle type that thrives on interaction. For one, Killers aren’t just into killing. Interfering with elements of the world will also appeal to them. For instance, if there are elements of the game world, such as crates or trees, which the user can crash into and destroy, it offers the same immediate thrill of interference as player elimination.

Games get creative to offer opportunities for world interaction. In The Legend of Zelda, beyond combat with enemies, Link can also famously antogonize “cuccos”, an element of the world. In Grand Theft Auto V, the ultimate game/franchise for Killers, users can not only kill civilians, but can bump into them for a humorous disruption. Offering cheat codes in single player games represents an opportunity for the Killer to expose and modify the game engine on the game developer’s terms. Pokemon GO employs battles in Pokegyms. Games like Candy Crush give Killers the thrill of destroying parts of the world. Killers love explosions. Giving them a tangible goal, like specific collectibles or targets that generate explosive reactions, will go a long way in retaining their interest.

In order for a Killer to spend money on a game, they must be engaged by the gameplay. Killers are looking for a specific type of satisfaction, a kind of schadenfreude. Retention methods are key since if a Killer doesn’t get satisfaction, they’ll move on quickly to something more immediate. Offering alternate game modes, such as low-gravity or disco mode, may entice Killers’ desire to subvert the game world. In multi-player games, extra weapons, stealth and any advantage in the killing department may tempt Killers to purchase if they are invested in the game.

As with appealing to any Bartle Type, everything begins with engaging gameplay. Thinking of these player types during the process of development will enrich your techniques and ultimately your final product.

Next week, in the final article of our series on Bartle Types, we’ll take a look at Socializers and the best methods for attaining, retaining and monetizing them.

Mobile Game Monetization Methods for Bartle Types: Think Like an Explorer

The Mystic Media Blog is currently engaged in a series of articles examining each of the Bartle types and how to acquire, retain and monetize them according to their desires. Check out last week’s article on Achievers.

Explorer via Massively OP

The Explorer is one of the most important Bartle types to maintain in a userbase. Explorers are out for the thrill of discovery. They want to test the limits of the game and see as much of the world of the game as possible. Explorers will wander the world to find secrets. If given a level map, they will utilize it to view as much of the world as possible. They enjoy trying out different weapons and characters. For Explorers, the gameplay is simply a mechanism for discovering different worlds and abilities. They are obsessed with Easter eggs and exposing game methods to find hidden areas. They love analyzing gameplay systems and motion systems, and executing plans designed to see if they can outsmart the designer and find parts of the map which the designers hadn’t expected users to find. The savvy game designer will know his game inside out and give Explorers props when they reach rare areas of the level.

Explorers’ role in the Bartle Type ecosystem is very important. They make for easy prey for Killers, but also, the secrets which they discover generally trickle down into Achievers, much to the benefit of Achievers who will go on to use these secrets to better their status.

Check out this awesome video on balancing Bartle Types by Extra Credits:

Retaining Explorers depends on the size of the world, but even a simple 2D scroller can have several lo-fi backgrounds which will prove incentives for explorers to see all the different backgrounds. A game board is a major opportunity to show off your world and offer explorers a tangible visual for the amount of work it will take to fully see the world. Explorers love to play as different characters and with different gear to see how the game experience changes. If you really want to appeal to this archetype, creating parts of a map only accessible with certain gear or characters will drive them wild.

The beauty of thinking about Explorers as an audience is that it will force the game designer to enrich their game. Making different levels available for purchase can drive Explorers to reach for their wallet. The savvy game designer may create an area which is only reachable when the user has made an in-app purchase of new gear or a tune-up. The Explorer wants to have the most full understanding of the game, so having unlockable and purchasable characters with different music and sound effects can entice the Explorer to buy.

But perhaps the best way to monetize an Explorer is not by forcing them to buy, but by sectioning their gameplay off with rewarded ads. Rewarded ads give the user a certain amount of in-app points or game money which can go toward an in-app purchase. Explorers are willing to spend hours exploring a map without a tangible goal – thus, rewarded video ads are a great way of rewarding their inquisitive behavior while offering a preview of some of the goods available for purchase.

A properly edited trailer will preview the game world in a way that leaves enough to the imagination of the user that it instills the desire to explore, regardless of whether they are Explorers or not.

Next week, we’ll take a look at Killers and the best methods for attaining, retaining and monetizing them.

Mobile Game Monetization Methods for Bartle Types: Break the Bank with Achievers

Last week, the Mystic Media Blog covered Richard Bartle’s taxonomy of player types. Over the next four articles, the blog will be conducting an in-depth exploration of each of Bartle’s four player types and how to attract, reward and ultimately monetize them.

The Achiever is the most basic player type. They seek to conquer the obstacles set up by the game. They look to act upon the world within its limitations. Achievers are generally the most important Bartle Type to maintain in your core userbase since they seek to play the game by the rules, as it was intended. Nicknamed “Diamonds” by Bartle, Achievers are interested in rewards, recognition and glory. They won’t settle for beating the game and will attempt to attain high scores in the leaderboard. If there is more than one difficulty, then they must learn to master it. In short, they look to attain any and every badge of honor they can.

The Achiever plays by the rules with the aim of progress. In order to entice them on a most basic level, they need to be engaged by gameplay from the outset. Games which are too difficult will discourage them from playing on, while games which are too easy will not be worth the time.

As they navigate through the game, giving Achievers finite goals and recognition for achieving these milestones will keep them engaged. They don’t just want to achieve, they want to be acknowledged for their achievements. A solid reward system with a steady stream of achievement-based unlockables and trophies will retain Achievers. As a game designer, using sound and visuals to create a positive emotional reaction upon in-game achievements should be among your top UI concerns.

One of the major visual opportunities to get users invested in your game is the Game Board. Check out a portion (57:20-59:09) of this awesome lecture by Nicolas Lovell where he breaks down how the Candy Crush board appeals to all different levels of player:

Game designers can monetize Achievers in a number of ways. Offering new game modes or difficulties through in-app purchases offers a tempting proposal to the Achiever, who will likely go ahead, buy and conquer if they are into the game. Having a difficult game with high level unlockables also available for in-app purchase can entice some Achievers to taking a shortcut. Offering an ad-less option is another enticing low-price option for the impatient achiever.

Achievers want their victories to become a part of their identity. They want to be known as winners and are looking to the game for fulfillment, so an alternate avatar for players who conquer the game is enough to retain them. Offering customizable avatars for in-app purchase is a simple way of appealing to all gamers’ desire to make their character their own. Candy Crush monetizes Achievers by limiting the amount of time they can play per day without paying, enticing many daily players to extend their time for a cheap price.

MMORPGs and warfare games capitalize on Achievers with special weapons and characters available for in-app purchases. Games with a social component make it easier to capitalize on Achievers since they are a sucker for status. The social component adds a major competitive edge which will cause some Achievers to jump at the opportunity to gain an advantage.

The difficulty in monetizing Achievers lies in offering a fair game experience with in-app purchases. Purchasing a competitive edge can dilute the amount of new users in a game. Achievers want their achievements to be sacred, so while offering purchasables is important, it shouldn’t make the game a landslide for those who invest. Some glories should be unlockable purely through game progression, rather than for purchase. Another way of regulating is to set a limit on in-app purchases. If you only have $5 to work with, it creates an element of strategy for Achievers which makes both the game and the purchase appealing.

Finding a balance between enriching gameplay with in-app purchases and maintaining a fair and engaging game on a free level is the difficulty of the Freemium model.

Next week, we’ll take a look at Explorers and the best methods for attaining, retaining and monetizing them.

Connect with Millennials Through Snapchat

Many questioned Snapchat’s staying power when the company launched in 2011, but unlike the ephemeral nature of the network’s content strategy, Snapchat has proven it’s here to stay. Statistics show Snapchat has over 100 million daily users that combined watch 7 billion videos per day and contribute 8,800 photos per second. In 5 short years, the company has evolved from fad to one of the fastest growing and most intriguing social media networks on the internet. In 2016, Snapchat is projecting $300-$350 million in revenue, over 600% growth from the company’s 2015 projection of $50 million.

Snapchat thrives on allowing users to focus on the moment rather than perfection. Users can send photos and videos which disappear after they have been viewed. They can also craft “Snap Stories” which remain up for 24 hours after they’ve been posted. Snap Stories created an avenue for major corporations to deliver content  to their followers. Media companies like Vice utilize Snap Stories to deliver the news to millennials, while retail companies like Grubhub have had major success creating promotions.

Here are some creative ways companies are utilizing Snapchat:

MARKETING PROMOTIONS

Since Snap Stories disappear after 24 hours, users are motivated to watch stories frequently or risk missing out on an awesome moment. As a company, offering exclusive discounts or deals through a Snap Story is the ultimate incentive to increase snap views. Grubhub gained acclaim for their #SnapHunt Scavenger Hunt, which awarded 10 winners $50 in free food for each challenge. The personal, one-to-one nature of Snapchat makes it ideal for marketing promotions, which in turn increases your daily views and following.

A LOOK BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Many companies utilize social media to take consumers behind the curtain of day-to-day  operations. The spontaneity of Snapchat provides the ultimate network for such interactions. Snap Stories don’t have to be perfect, they don’t have to be major, they can be casual. Some companies utilize Snapchat to broadcast live events. Small events like birthday parties and company outings can make for engaging content.

Musicians often utilize Snapchat to offer glimpses at their new music. Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors both have used Snapchat to preview their new lines.

BROADCAST MEDIA

TV Networks like CNN and Comedy Central utilize Snapchat to promote their shows with bite-sized snippets designed to tease the viewer. CNN targets younger audiences with news stories relevant to them through the Discover function. Coca-Cola realized their audience could detect advertising when the company repurposed their TV commercials for the network, at which point they began creating Snapchat-specific content. The change ultimately was received with a 54% increase in video completion rate.

MAXIMIZING INFLUENCER MARKETING

As any social media expert knows, influencer marketing is key to developing a following and gaining access to new audiences. Snapchat’s emphasis on shared, intimate experiences with the individual makes the format ideal for celebrities and other influencers. Social media stars and acclaimed artists like DJ Khaled can document their day-to-day lives, including the clothes they wear, the stores where they shop, and even bizarre instances of getting lost at sea on a WaveRunner. Celebrities use Snapchat to create a narrative of their daily lives, an unparalleled opportunity for companies to incorporate their product or service and acquire positive brand association.

In one of the best uses of influencer marketing, Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson reprised their roles as Derek Zoolander and Hansel during a Valentino show for Fashion Week in Paris.

While Snapchat provides a major opportunity to market promotions, sculpting public perception of your brand in Snapchat requires a large amount of content in order to compete and keep users satiated. Snapchat is still a burgeoning network with an unlimited amount of possibilities. For an amazing look at the potential future of Snapchat, check out this awesome article from TechCrunch.

Mind Over Matter: Why Apple Downsized with the iPhone SE

On March 21st, Apple announced a smaller 9.7 inch iPad Pro modela price drop for Apple Watch and new nylon bands, and most importantly, their latest smartphone: the iPhone SE. While the iPhone 6 and 6+ represented the largest phones in Apple history, Apple elected to go smaller with their latest release. The iPhone SE is the size of an iPhone 5 with the processor of an iPhone 6, essentially recycling the aesthetic design of the iPhone with the speed of an iPhone 6.

When it comes to smartphones, screen size matters. Statistics show over half of YouTube views come from mobile devices and the average YouTube session lasts for over 40 minutes. Although people are watching more video than ever on their phones, it doesn’t mean bigger is always better. Many scorned the iPhone 6+ for being too large and clunky. The iPhone SE represents a more affordable option with all the processing power of an iPhone 6 on a smaller screen.

iPhone SE vs. iPhone 6s (via 9 to 5 Mac)

When it comes to specs, the iPhone SE is no slouch. The iPhone SE screen measures at 4.87 x 2.31 x .30 inches, the exact same dimensions as the iPhone 5. Like the iPhone 6, the iPhone SE has retina display. The phone has an A8 chip with 64-bit architecture and an M8 motion coprocessor, like the iPhone 6. While the iPhone 6 has 1334 x 750 pixels (326 PPI), iPhone SE has slightly fewer with 1136 x 640 pixels. The SE’s rear camera is identical to the iPhone 6. The one area in which the SE exceeds the iPhone 6 is in battery life: iPhone SE has 1642 mAh while iPhone 6S has 1715. The SE’s smaller, lower-resolution display ensures users will receive 20% longer 3G internet surfing time on the SE, 30% more 4G, and 20% longer when watching video.

Check out this awesome video review of the iPhone SE by The Verge:

Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 7 in 2017. Techies expect the iPhone 7 to be a major advancement in the Apple lineage. With a large announcement looming, the iPhone SE is designed to diversify their product line with a cost-friendly option to hold Apple lovers over and combat the probability that iPhone sales will decline for the first time in company history in 2016.

At $399 without a contract, Apple seems to be aiming to take a bite out of the cost-friendly Android market. Although the average price for an Android smartphone was about $215 at the end of 2015, the difference may entice those drawn by the allure of Apple products.

Last year, Apple took a big bite out of China. In the 4th Quarter of 2015, iPhone sales grew 33% in China. Having recently lost their crown as largest smartphone vendor in China to Xiaomi, the Chinese market represents a major area of potential growth for Apple. Affordable options with premium processing power have the potential to eat into Android’s sales in rural and urban Chinese markets.

The move to more affordable iPhones began with the iPhone 5c; however, supply chain problems taught Apple that using new material can produce unforeseen difficulties. Foxconn announced that the iPhone 5 was the most difficult device they have ever assembled. By recycling iPhone 5 design, materials, and supply chain, iPhone SE is a much cheaper product to create and manufacture.

Some argue that smartphone UX has not advanced with screen-size and few phones have UX features specifically designed for large-screen devices. Whether or not this influenced Apple’s decision to downsize, the affordability, overseas sales potential, and diversified design certainly make the iPhone SE an attractive device for the company. The question now becomes: will Apple unveil a larger iPhone 7 in 2017 with groundbreaking large-screen UX? We’ll have to wait and see.

Scopes: How Ubuntu Is Changing the OS Landscape by Eschewing Apps

In the world of operating systems, Android and Apple reign supreme. According to leading research firm Gartner, about 97% of new smartphones sold are either iPhone or Android devices. While Windows, Firefox OS, and Blackberry all attempted to take a seat at the OS table, no company has been able to top Android & iOS. With the landscape more fixed than ever, Ubuntu has entered the arena with a different strategy which may break through the noise and catch on.

Ubuntu managed to stir up publicity in 2013 when they launched the largest crowdfunding campaign of all time through IndieGoGo—and failed. They attempted to raise $32 million in one month, but only hit $12.8 million and received none of the funds. Regardless, the stunt captured the attention of many and helped make a name for the young company.

Ubuntu has made waves in the tech world with an innovative strategy which eschews traditional OS models. Instead of apps, Ubuntu uses Scopes. Scopes are home-screen dashboards which present content from various sources alongside each other on a page. For instance, the music Scope puts songs stored locally on the device side-by-side with Youtube, Apple Music, and other music library services. The video Scope allows users to search for a title and see where it is available for viewing rather than forcing the user to to search individual video streaming libraries like Netflix and Hulu. Instead of forcing the user to search for content within a specific app, Scopes present the content from all providers that have it available.

If apps are folders in a computer, Scopes allow the user to search through the entire local storage disk rather than have to check each individual folder. The philosophy is intended to provide a more intuitive user experience. When a user wants to find content or information, they care less about where it’s coming from than receiving the content with the highest quality attainable.

Check out this awesome video walkthrough of Scopes functionality to better understand how they work visually:

Scopes are easier and less time-consuming to design than native-apps. Scopes also appeal to mobile developers as they offer more discoverability for their companies than apps in the app store. The lack of division in presenting search results ensures the best content will rise to the top, rather than the most popular brand. Given the lower price of entry and the innovative approach, Ubuntu parent company Canonical has managed to bring name-brand content providers to build Scopes, including Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Yelp, SoundCloud, and more. Communities are also developing Scopes for other apps, including Dropbox and Spotify, using their APIs.

Meizu launched the Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition in February 2016. They currently have four phones on the market, including BQ Aquarius E5 HD, and the previous versions of either device. Windows 10 with Ubuntu recently went into public preview. Going forward, Ubuntu must become available on enough devices to gain traction and popularity if they want to compete with Android & iOS. Given the amount of resources at their disposal and the clear innovation on display in Ubuntu’s philosophy, we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple or Android took a shot at figuring out a way of applying Scopes within their OS.

Mobile Website or Mobile App: What Should I Build?

Mobile commerce will reach approximately $142 billion in 2016 according to Mobile Commerce Daily. Promoting business through mobile platforms has become an essential part of many IT and marketing departments worldwide. Mobile phones allow businesses the opportunity to share information about their store, such as hours and nearest location, as well as offer exclusive deals through branded apps as well as third-party apps like Yelp & GroupOn.

The necessity of a mobile presence is evident. When developing for the mobile platform, one has the choice between building a mobile website or a mobile app as the avenue of preference. Obviously developing for both platforms is ideal, but it’s important to realize the strengths of each platform when developing a mobile strategy. Many businesses don’t take into account the importance of the mobile web when it comes to driving revenue.

If you read Cashing Out the Smartphone, you know that while 85% of time spent on mobile devices occurs in apps, 80% of that time is spent on the user’s top 3 apps, a web browser often being one of them. 82% of smartphone users reference their phones when deciding what to buy. When it comes to eCommerce, mobile websites drive twice as much traffic as mobile apps.

Thus, while mobile apps are more expansive, mobile websites are in many ways more important to retailers. Utilizing both in tandem and playing to each platform’s strengths will maximize mobile presence to bring in revenue. Here are the top factors to weigh when deciding between building a mobile website or a mobile app:

DISCOVERABILITY

Due to the omniscience of Google, mobile websites are much more discoverable than mobile apps. Although it is good to have a presence in the app stores, it’s often more important to be discoverable on the web since the web is where the majority of customers go to find information. Mobile websites share a common publication format, making them almost universally accessible across smart devices. As we detailed in our article on Responsive Design & SEO, optimizing a website for mobile is not only a vital SEO practice, it also lowers the price of keywords in Google Adwords.

IMMEDIACY

The immediacy of mobile websites make them an asset to companies looking to disperse information about their products. Mobile websites can be found from any smart device with a single Google search. Mobile websites are quick, easy to find, and direct to the point. Mobile apps, on the other hand, require the user to go to the app store, search, download the app, then often sign up for an account. The distance between initial engagement and action/conversion depletes the chances of a mobile app acquiring new customers without a clever strategy, while mobile websites are more likely to pique new customer interests.

Many retailers have turned to mobile apps to manage loyalty points and increase customer retention through exclusive discounts.

Here are some popular third-party apps for increasing customer loyalty:

Shopkick: Shopkick offers customers rewards the moment they walk into a store. It is the most-used US shopping app connecting shoppers to retailers.

Belly: Belly is a digital loyalty rewards program which serves over 12,000 businesses and has more than 6 million members across the US.

COMPLEXITY

While mobile websites are great for dispersing information, apps typically can do much more. Native apps are designed specifically for a device and OS, thus ensures maximum performance. With mobile commerce on the rise, apps can help make the check-out process seamless. The process of approval required by the app stores assures users that any given mobile apps will be safe and secure. The complexity of mobile apps also makes maintenance more expensive.

Mobile websites are easier and less-expensive to maintain since they have a common code across platforms. Developers can release and update without worrying about being approved by the app marketplace. Mobile websites can only utilize a limited scope of a given mobile device’s features, although mobile browsers are in the process of getting more powerful and enabling more power over the device.

COST

Mobile websites are less expensive to develop and maintain since they use common code across devices. While cross-platform app development tools ensure a cheaper way to make an app usable across Android, iOS, and other operating systems and devices, they also can dilute the functionality.

In our opinion, it’s often better to start with a mobile website which disperses necessary information and calls attention to the business before creating a mobile app to supplement with additional functionality.

Any given business or organization has unique needs which must be attended to when establishing a mobile presence. Experienced web and app developers should ask the questions which get to the root of what is needed and can design creative solutions which maximize functionality for any given platform in accordance with the project budget. Be it through a mobile website or a mobile app, the mobile platform allows for any number of possibilities which can make any business more efficient, attractive, and profitable.

Cashing Out the Smartphone: How Mobile Commerce Is Changing Retail

This week, we wrap up our five-part series on Top App Development Trends for 2016 with an article on mobile commerce! For a recap, take a moment to review our last four articles on cross-platform app development, cloud integration, mobile security and IoT.

Smartphones have brought about unparalleled convenience in our daily lives. We are constantly connected to our rolodex of contacts with a variety of methods of communication. We can access all the information available on the world wide web anytime. We can find the nearest store of choice anywhere we go. For businesses, the mobile platform represents not only a major avenue for advertising, but an opportunity to give customers the ultimate convenience when purchasing products.

According to Internet Retailer, mobile commerce represents 30% of all US e-commerce and rose by 38.7% from 2014 to 2015. According to The Mobile Playbook, the absence of a mobile presence is the financial equivalent of closing a store for one day a week. Suffice to say, mobile commerce is only on the rise in the coming years. Here are the top mobile commerce trends for 2016:

INTEGRATING PHYSICAL WITH DIGITAL

Although the digital world is virtually omnipresent in households, the appeal of immediately receiving one’s purchases remains attractive. Retailers are offering an increasing variety of online + in-store options. Apps like Curbside have partnered with Target & Kroger’s to enable customers to skip the line when picking up their purchases.

PERSONALIZED MOBILE PAYMENTS DRIVE LOYALTY

Although services such as Apple Pay and Android Pay were once hailed as the future, they have had a hard time receiving mass adoption. This hasn’t stopped the impact of the mobile wallet on commerce. Starbucks drives 16% of transactions through its mobile app. Walmart Pay arrived in December 2015, and now Target is next in line to develop their own payment app.

WEARABLES ON THE RISE

According to Arc, there will be a 61% growth in wearable ownership in 2016. App developers and retailers are still plotting on how to capitalize on wearables. Many anticipate a hands-free shopping experience in which one can simply walk out with their purchases and have automatic charges through wearable devices. Wearables represent a major avenue for retailers to create innovative strategies and dictate trends to come.

MOBILE WEB DRIVES PURCHASES

While about 85% of time spent on mobile devices occurs in apps, the mobile web has actually proven to be a more successful in driving website traffic. Consumers spend 80% of their app time on their top 3 apps. The mobile web drives twice the amount of site traffic than mobile apps. With 82% of smartphone users looking to their phones in stores when deciding what to buy, many anticipate the mobile web to surpass apps as the largest revenue driver in the next few years.

This concludes our five-part series on Top App Development Trends for 2016! Follow the Mystic Media Blog for more awesome articles on app development, website design, strategic marketing and more!