Tag Archives: User

5 Essential Mobile Game Monetization Strategies to Keep Your Pockets Full

A recent study by Venture Beat showed that less than 1% of mobile game players contribute 48% of total revenue to game publishers. Inability to effectively capitalize upon this hyper-concentrated group of revenue drivers leaves many mobile game developers in the red. The rise of the Freemium model has essentially killed the paid gaming app, leaving many developers scratching their heads on how to turn a profit out of their passion. Here are some of the best methods for mobile game monetization:

1. SEGMENTATION Without a price to download, app publishers can no longer rely on a single method of monetization. Thus segmentation, the division of profit streams, is key to any mobile game monetization plan. App monetization revenues stem from three major categories: in-app purchases, subscription-based premium upgrades, and ad revenue. Highly-successful games can also bring in money through sponsorships, merchandise, and even big-budget Hollywood movies, but the bulk of app developers generate revenue from inside the phone. Experienced mobile game developers use their understanding of each of these revenue streams and how they relate to their target audience to leverage multiple revenue streams within their games.

2. REWARDED AD FORMAT Ads and in-app purchases are both great assets to mobile game developers looking to monetize, but what if you could play them off each other to increase both sources of revenue? That’s the idea behind the rewarded ad format. In exchange for watching full ads during breaks in gameplay, users receive in-game rewards, power-ups, lives, etc. The incentive increases video completion rate, as well as ad revenue, and preview premium features to entice more in-app purchases. While the rewarded ad format can lead to a surge in both in-app purchases and ad revenue, it still requires strategy. Keeping the audience in mind by ensuring the user base will find the content of the ad interesting will increase completion rate. Strategic rewarded ad placement is also key to keeping users engaged. Rewarded ad overkill will alienate users and prevent them from playing the game. For more tips on rewarded ads, check out this awesome article by InMobi.

Castle Clash Rewarded Ad via AdWeek

3. FREEMIUM The popular Freemium monetization method entails developers offering a free download of the most basic form of the app to entice the user, then premium services and features available for purchase or through a subscription fee. The Freemium model drives revenue through in-app purchases, premium features available through subscription fees, and ads. Apps like Tinder and Candy Crush have capitalized on their massive user base by enticing users to make in-app purchases and update to premium accounts. Candy Crush also uses social media to allow users to receive premium features in exchange for sharing with their friends.

4. NATIVE ADS Native ads are advertisements designed to match the form and function of their surroundings. TwitterFacebookGoogle, and Instagram all offer native ads and tools to help developers create and customize their ads. Native ad placement increases the chance of engagement by seamlessly blending the design of the ad in with the UI of the app. While many ads stand out in the context of a mobile app, native ads look like they are a part of the app rather than an advertisement. Some say native ads are unethical and deceptive, while others praise the improved customer targeting and enhanced content. Effective native ads blend seamlessly with the surrounding UI. The number one rule of native ads is to know your audience. If the developer can incorporate relevant content rather than ads for products that do not interest the user, native ads can appear to become more of an enhancement than an interruption. Here is an example of a native ad by Google’s service AdMob:

Native Facebook Ad via The Next Web

5. FEEDER APPS Feeder apps are simple games with addicting gameplay which app developers utilize to spread brand awareness. Feeder apps often feature such simple gameplay, in-app purchases and ads would feel intrusive. Instead, push notifications and links in the main menu redirect users to their company website or another one of their games in iTunes. Many mobile development companies develop a network of feeder apps as a part of their publication and monetization strategy. By utilizing a well-integrated native ad for the company or game the developer intends to monetize, developers can turn viral feeder apps into profits. This comprehensive article by Scientific Revenue offers a great example of how feeder apps can function effectively. ZeptoLab cross-promotes their featured app King of Thieves through their feeder app Cut the Rope.

CONCLUSION Succeeding in the world of mobile gaming requires the same intense flare for competition which fuels mobile gamers. Experienced game developers know the stakes and come out swinging, ready to capitalize on every strategy they can to create a revenue stream. With the right combination of smarts, app developmentpromotion and strategy, mobile game developers can capitalize on their user base to rake in the big bucks.

Mobile Game Developers Rejoice: Apple Increases App Store Size Limit to 4 GB

Apple recently announced they would increase the size limit of mobile app packages on the Apple App Store from 2 GB to 4 GB.

They experimented first by releasing Disney Infinity: Toy Box 2.0 for free in late January. Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 is a gaming app developed using Metal. The app is similar to Minecraft in the way it allows players to create their own world using pre-made characters. It weighs in at a massive 3.8 GB when downloaded from the App Store. The additional space is utilized in the expansion of their cast of characters. Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 features not only Disney characters, but many superheroes from the Marvel universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Incredibles.

Check out this awesome iOS preview of the game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm7iF5l-ZcA

Although the app is available for free on iTunes, in-app purchases start at $0.99 and reach as high as $59.99. Only three characters are available for free. These free characters rotate, giving users a taste of what they are missing, as well as reason to keep checking the app. The rest of the characters can be purchased in stores like Best Buy, Walmart, etc. It is sure to be a profitable endeavor given the pre-existing fan-bases of the many characters in the mobile game.

The Apple App Store’s increased app size limit will most certainly bring about an influx of large-scale apps like the Disney Infinity Toy Box, although one thing hasn’t changed: apps which are being downloaded by a cellular network still have a 100 MB size limit. Apps above 100 MB must be downloaded using a Wi-Fi network.

While there are obvious advantages to giving users the ability to download an app wherever they have cellular service, large-scale apps are often less dependent on impulse downloads. Many developers will no doubt be excited to put the new limit to work via higher quality graphics and longer games.

The move seems consistent with Apple’s strategy of making the development process easier for app developers. Last year, Apple released Swift (for information on Swift, check out our previous post: Swift Execution: Apple’s New Programming Language Shakes Up Tech Community) and  Metal, a low-level, low-overhead graphics API which we wrote about when it debuted with iOS 8 in our post Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition. Both releases, along with the increased app size limit, seem to be power moves dedicated to drawing more developers to the iOS platform.

As we detailed in App Store Optimization Part 5: Key Differences Between Apple Vs. Google Play App Stores, the main difference between the Apple App Store and Google Play is Apple’s emphasis on curation. Although good ASO processes for the Apple App Store are shrouded in secrecy, it’s known that Apple focuses on promoting discovery through curation. Apple requires all apps to be approved by their team of curators before allowing them to be displayed in the App Store. Increasing the app size limit gives developers the freedom to create more intricate, high-production value games for the Apple App Store curators to promote.

If there’s one broad conclusion to be drawn from the move, it’s that mobile gaming is evolving, and Apple wants to spearhead the movement.

Mystic Media is an iOS and Android app development, web design, and strategic marketing firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Not Too Pushy: 5 Rules for Pushing App Notifications Without Annoying the User

An application can do great things for a business. It’s a gateway into a digital experience catered to a brand, an opportunity to ingrain a brand into the user’s daily life. Push notifications allow applications to send messages with pertinent information to the user. Some are silent and simply light up the phone screen with a notification, while others vibrate to physically notify the user of more important, time-sensitive information.

The problem is: push notifications are… well… pushy. They can be annoying. It takes a mere Twitter search to prove that when users get annoyed, they take to social media, which is bad for business.

And yet, studies show when push notifications are turned on, they average 88% more launches than those with push notifications disabled. Some studies show up to a 540% increase in daily app opens.

Thus the conundrum becomes: how does one balance between being overly pushy, and not pushy enough? Although each case is subjective, we put together some guidelines for app developers and businesses looking to boost app usage without alienating customers.

1. Make Them Customizable

This is easily the cardinal rule. Do not push your push notifications on the user. Allow them to choose both whether and which push notifications to receive. Give the user options for how frequently they wish to receive notifications and/or what prompts them. There’s no excuse for an overly pushy app and it will be uninstalled.

2. Silent Notifications Work Too

Silent push notifications light up the phone screen with neither a sound nor a vibration. They are great for games, a tempting little offer which may catch the user’s eye when it lights up and lingers on the screen until the smartphone is next unlocked. Diversifying your notifications only makes for a more tolerable digital experience.

3. Analyze Customer Data

App developers have a host of awesome data at their disposal which ought to be utilized in tweaking their apps. If you notice customers often opting out of certain types of notifications, do them a favor and get rid of them. Or make them sign-up for them rather than giving them the work of having to opt-out. As they say, the customer is always right.

4. Geo Detection Is Your Friend

Geo Detection technology allows retailers to detect when a customer last visited their store or when a customer is nearby. Retailers can use Geo Detection technology to put out blasts to all customers in the area of special offers and coupons. For more information on Geo Detection notifications, check out this awesome article.

5. Offer Value

Seamless and GrubHub offer silent push notifications which, when swiped, give the user a discount on their order. Customers are more likely to read push notifications if they know there’s something in it for them. Push notifications are your friend, make sure they are your customer’s too.

Mystic Media is a web and software development company with expertise in iOS and Android application development and strategic marketing. Follow us today on Twitter (@mysticmediasoft), like us on Facebook, and contact us with any questions by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Parallax Scrolling: How the Latest Cutting Edge Web Design Can Increase Business

Web design trends are constantly changing. The latest and greatest today is Parallax Scrolling.

Parallax Scrolling websites are generally large one-page sites. As one scrolls down, the background images move by the camera slower than the foreground images, creating the illusion of depth. Oftentimes different animations are launched during the course of scrolling which generally cover different topics. It’s like having multiple pages in one stream-of-consciousness scroll.

Here’s a basic example of a Parallax Scrolling website.

There are many benefits to Parallax Scrolling websites. For one, they are aesthetically pleasing. The user experience is no doubt greater than any other common form of web design. Instead of forcing the user to explore the site, they need only scroll down to take in the information at the pace the web designers desire.  When creating a website for a single product, Parallax Scrolling sites can be very useful because they allow the designer to show off all the different features of the product without having to create separate pages.

Here’s a great example of a parallax website utilized to display all the different angles and functions of a single product.

Parallax Scrolling also allows the web designer to create a story and control the way in which the user experiences the narrative. Parallax Scrolling gives the designer unparalleled control over the pace at which the user takes in information. Again, the user only has to scroll down, they are much more likely to see the animations created by scrolling down than to have to click around different pages and explore to find information.

Check out this awesome example of how to tell the story of your brand through a Parallax Scrolling website.

Parallax Scrolling can also have a positive effect on Search Engine Optimization. Having a one-page-site means a reduced the bounce rate, the number of visitors who move to another page without exploring, which is beneficial for SEO.

Another benefit is the increased mobile and tablet user experience. Traditional websites involve several pages which all need to be customized for mobile and tablet devices. The time it takes to redirect on a mobile or tablet device can be tedious. Parallax Scrolling utilizes one-page, reducing the redirection time for smartphone and tablet users. If created with responsive HTML (Check out our post Responsive Web Design Is the New Web Design), you’re guaranteed good mobile and tablet user experience, so long as the user’s device isn’t outdated.

Due to the emphasis on cool, crisp visual presentation, Parallax Scrolling sites are more likely to attract social sharing, and thus will attract greater traffic. If the design is crisp enough, a parallax scrolling site could land itself on one of these best of lists.

Parallax Scrolling websites are generally created using HTML5 and CSS3. Although they are high-tech, they also come with their share of cons. For one, due to the heavy use of animations, Parallax Scrolling sites can take longer to load. They also may not function smoothly across all web browsers. Because the designer is in control of the pace of the scrolling, it can also be frustrating to users who want to consume information faster, or confounding to less tech-saavy users who are confused by the set-up.

Overall, Parallax Scrolling is the most visually-pleasing, high-tech aesthetic one can choose for their website. Although it’s pricey and complicated to create, it’s the most dynamic form of web design used today, and, when designed effectively, the most engaging way to lure traffic to a web page.

Mystic Media is a web design and application development company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. For more information, click here or contact us by phone at 801.994.6815.

A Guide to Promotional Writing Part 5: Marketing Effectively Through Social Media

The Mystic Media Blog has devoted our expertise into a five-part series of articles detailing the ins and outs of Promotional Writing, concluding with this post on writing for social media. The series covered several topics, including general techniques, suggested processes, press releases, and website copy writing.

The advent of social media had a dramatic affect on culture and society. The entire world became interconnected at the click of a button. Suddenly, everyone’s favorite brands and artists were available for communication anywhere, anytime using your smartphone. The newspaper became even more irrelevant to the younger generation as they could receive news updates directly from their favorite artists and brands, skipping the middleman.

All brands should have their marketing team running multiple social media accounts. It’s the cheapest and most direct route to consumers who want to hear what you have to say; who show by the act of following/liking the brand that they desire information and communication.

In honor of social media, we’ve gathered tips for writing for social media and structured them with the succinct, direct quips fitting of the format.

“BREVITY IS THE SOUL OF WIT”

Most scholars agree Shakespeare would have killed the social media game. This famous quote from Hamlet rings true across all writing, especially social media. Rather than overloading followers with an abundance of wordy content, keep it simple, concise, and witty.

RESPOND/REACT QUICKLY

In order to engage consumers, it’s vital to reply and interact promptly with followers on social media accounts (especially Twitter!). Remember: direct replies don’t overload your Twitter followers’ feed, making them a great, more intimate way to communicate with consumers.

A favorite, retweet, or follow back can also engage a follower as much as a reply.

CROSS-PROMOTE

Tweet “Follow us on Facebook for more updates.” Post “Check out our Twitter page!” on Facebook. Tweet Instagram photos. Grow your fan-base and keep them aware of the multiple platforms of communication by cross-promoting accounts. As in all forms of promotional writing, the call-to-action is among the integral parts of posting to social media.

PLAY IT SAFE

Perhaps this should be the number one rule: don’t make people furious. Play it safe when it comes to topical events. Be respectful of tragedies and don’t post anything politically incorrect. A single tweet can have huge repercussions.

Be extra careful when attempting to create a trend through hashtagging. This McDonald’s horror story serves as a moral tale of how important it is to be conscious of potential reactions to a brand before posting.

BUT DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET CHEEKY

Followers want to see a little personality out of the social media accounts they follow. Although you don’t want to offend anyone, you also won’t get any real response from boring posts. Try to keep it cheeky and create humorous posts. Analyze what connects most to your audience, take notes, and refine techniques over time.

MEME IT UP!

Memes are a great, modern way of effectively promoting a product while imparting humor. Check out this awesome article on memes for marketers.

FIND AN EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT TOOL

Social Media accounts require around the clock management. When you have separate accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Google+, it’s difficult to keep track of each account everyday. Social Media Management tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and more can be vital not only in managing accounts, but researching your followers and what posts are most effective.

INTERACT WITH CELEBRITIES

Cross-branding can raise awareness of a company and allow them to find their consumers in creative places. Interacting with select celebrities with compatible brands is a great way to attain exposure, gain access to new followers, and grow brand awareness.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE TUMBLR

Tumblr is among the leading social media platforms underutilized by marketing teams. Tumblr hosts over 130.5 million blogs, while WordPress only has 70 million. Tumblr users average 12 minutes of use per day on the network–1.5 minutes more than what’s spent on Facebook.

For more information on Tumblr, check out this article over at Social Media Marketing.

CONTESTS

Social Media, specifically Facebook, is an ideal place to host contests. Any and all action the user takes toward entering a competition through Facebook will be publicized to their friends and followers on their newsfeed. Facebook recently banned Likegating, which certainly represents a roadblock, as well as an opportunity for more innovative approaches to social media contests.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

This has been the theme of our promotional writing series, so it’s fitting close this conclusive article with the most important part of all promotional writing: know your audience. With regard to social media, it’s vital to understand what will connect with those who consume and who may desire the brand being represented. Know the lingo. Know the humor. Know what your audience is reading and redirect them to cool articles.

The goal of promotional social media is not exclusively to attain sales, but to cultivate followers who will pause and consider what you write. Engage and expand your fanbase, give them what they want, and be consistent.

At Mystic Media, our vast experience in strategic marketing and application development for both iOS and Android gives us expertise on the all formats of promotional writing: from social media, to search engine optimization, copy writing, web design, and more. Learn more by clicking here or by contacting us by phone at 801.994.6815

Android Lollipop Vs. iOS 8: The Battle of the Operating Systems

It’s been a good year for operating systems.

Back in June, Google announced their new operating system “Android L,” which has since been dubbed Android Lollipop. In our post  Android L Beta Preview: First Impressions of the Latest OS, we covered what we knew about the OS based on the announcement at the Google I/O 2014.

On the iOS side of the equation, this year saw Apple release iOS 8, which Apple hailed as the biggest iOS release ever. iOS 8 didn’t reinvent iOS aesthetics, rather it pushed forth the flat design introduced with iOS 7 and added a host of new features, including Apple Pay, Touch ID, and Device Continuity.

Both platforms represent dramatic technological advancements. The question now becomes: iOS 8 or Lollipop?

AESTHETICS

Steve Jobs majored in calligraphy at Reed College before dropping out. Jobs always held aesthetic design to be among the top priorities in his vision of Apple products, and Apple has always held a strong edge over Android in the aesthetic department.

iOS 7 saw Apple straying from Jobs’ skeuomorphic ideology in favor of Flat Design: a more stylized, minimal, bright look. iOS 8 refines Flat Design with more consistent iconography and UI. It also makes better use of gestures including swiping left to go back and double tapping the home screen to slide the screen down, allowing for better reachability on the large screens of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

While Apple refined their current look, Android elected to enact a complete aesthetic overhaul. They may have shaken up the OS aesthetic game with Material Design.

Material Design is not an easy concept to grasp and can better be explored in practice. The idea is that the digital world should have its own intuitive physical rules. Buttons must react specifically to the touch, there must be multiple easily decipherable UI layers, animations must trigger and unfold in a specific, consistent manner. All Material Design aesthetics are in favor of creating the most intuitive, easily understood experience for the user.

Material Design is much more intricate than Flat Design. It’s both showier and more practical. It’s a more evolved, complex version of Flat Design. Thus, Android has taken the crown with regard to aesthetics. It’s likely Apple will follow suit and copy Material Design aesthetics for their next iOS overhaul.

Check out this video demonstrating the ideas of Material Design posted by Google Developers Youtube account.

FEATURES

Both Lollipop and iOS 8 offer new features, in addition to minor UI tweaks, for their devices. Most of these features either mirror their competitor’s counterpart, or replicate a past feature of their competitor.

Lollipop and iOS 8 both push to integrate with cars with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Both offer integrated navigation systems, hands-free calling and texting, and control of entertainment; however, neither will have a major impact until they are adopted by a greater number of cars.

Lollipop and iOS 8 both feature health apps (Google Fit and Health respectively). Both function similarly with certain apps offering exclusive partnerships. The big factor could be whether/which major health apps make the commitment to either Lollipop or iOS 8. The potential forthcoming popularity surge in wearables could be a game-changing variable in health apps. At the moment, neither app has a major edge over the other.

iOS 8 now offers Apple Pay combined with Touch ID, a replication of Google Wallet which was introduced in 2011. While Google Wallet is the older system, Apple Pay currently has the momentum. Both offer touch payments via Near Field Communications, but Apple Pay refuses to store physical credit card details, making it the safer system. The popularity of Pay could cause a resurgence of Google Wallet, but at the moment, Apple Pay has a definite edge.

Aside from the aesthetics, perhaps the biggest differentiator between iOS 8 and Lollipop is Apple’s push for the concept of device continuity embodied in Handoff. We covered device continuity in both Climbing Yosemite and Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition. Handoff allows the user to easily complete tasks while transitioning  between Apple devices seamlessly. Instant Hotspot, one of the coolest features of iOS 8, allows users to connect to their iPhone’s cellular network when no other Wi-Fi networks are available. Lollipop comes up empty in this department and Android will surely be playing catch-up when they release their next OS.

BATTERY

iOS bolsters a reputation for retaining a more efficient battery than Android. With Project Volta, Android has made a strong attempt to optimize their OS to defeat this notion.

Lollipop features a built-in task manager designed to prevent unnecessary operations from waking the phone up, running app house-cleaning necessities in batches when plugged in, and preventing network requests from Android and third party apps in spots without network connectivity. Lollipop also has “Battery Historian,” an analytics tool designed to track and tweak battery consumption.

iOS 8 did not make any dramatic attempts to improve it’s battery life, but still competes with Android with an extremely efficient standby mode: leaving an iPhone 6 or 6 plus unplugged overnight will only lose 1-2% charge.

Overall, the OS battery competition is fairly neck-and-neck, which is a big improvement for Android considering in the past they have gotten smoked in this department.

Check out this video Introduction to Project Volta from Google I/O 2014 for more information.

AVAILABILITY

One of the major factors which elevates iOS 8 over Lollipop is the limited availability of the OS due to device fragmentation.

Google allows third-party developers to build hardware for the Android OS. This causes device fragmentation, in which the variety of hardware makes it harder to optimize software for each device. As a result, different devices will have access to Lollipop at different times. Lollipop is currently available on Google’s Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 phones with a staggered launch for other Android phones.

Device fragmentation is also troublesome for app developers as it means there’s no way to optimize directly for all the hardware considering the diversity.

iOS’s iPhone exclusivity means it runs well across devices and updates are immediately accessible on Apple hardware. The user is guaranteed at least three years of upgrades. App developers can optimize for each platform which remains relevant.

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, iOS 8 is the more practical operating system. While Material Design represents an exciting leap forward in software aesthetics, iOS 8’s device continuity features trump all of Lollipop’s functional additions. The widespread availability of iOS 8 and lack of device fragmentation makes it the better optimized package.

While iOS 8 wins this battle, it will be exciting to see how the platforms influence one another in the next round of OS updates. Expect Apple to adopt Material Design aesthetics and Android to begin a push for their own version of device continuity.

At Mystic Media, we’re constantly engaged in various app design projects. Our expertise reaches across all facets of the industry, be it iOS design, Android design, web design, strategic marketing and beyond. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Climbing Yosemite: Apple’s New OS Reaches New Heights

Apple recently released the long awaited OS X Yosemite. In Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition  and Tilting the Playing Field: iPhone 6 Technology Expands Possibilities for iOS App Developers, we covered  some of the highly-anticipated features in Yosemite, including a host of opportunities for cross-device Continuity. This week, we take an in-depth look at OS X  Yosemite and what it means for developers.

AESTHETICS

You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but when it comes to operating systems, aesthetics matter (check out our article Impervious Appeal: How to Design Jaw-Dropping iOS Apps). Yosemite’s UI remains consistent with Apple aesthetics and makes an effort to push the concept of flat design further. It’s even more minimal; the icons are flatter; the windows are more translucent. A great example of the evolution from Mavericks to Yosemite is a comparison between their Calendar icons:

Yosemite Calendar Icon

Mavericks Calender Icon

 

 

(left is Yosemite, right is Mavericks)

via Apple Developer Library

Whereas Mavericks had a more skeuomorphic design on its Calendar icon, Yosemite is flat. The texture seems impossibly smooth. There’s a minor depth and shadow, but no effort to enumerate the pages, nor a two-hole binder holding the pages together. The Yosemite icon represents the calendar as a digital block. The colors are brighter and the text is crisper and more symmetrical throughout the Yosemite UI. The font is an optimized version of Helvetica Neue used throughout Yosemite, a big switch over from Lucida Grande of the past. Developers, take note and utilize these aesthetics to create apps which integrate seamlessly into the Yosemite environment.

SWIFT

iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 arrived with Metal, a graphics layer for iOS development. Yosemite launches with Swift, a multi-paradigm, compiled programming language optimized for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite app design. Swift has been in development over the past four years and may replace Objective-C as the main language for app design on Apple’s OS X and iOS platforms. Several apps have already been built with Swift, including LinkedIn and Yahoo Weather.

Programmers, learn more about Swift over at The Guardian.

CONTINUITY

OS X Yosemite begins Apple’s push toward complete device Continuity. The concept of Continuity entails one should be able to switch devices and complete the same tasks on any Apple device without hassle. So if I’m writing an email on my MacBook, I should be able to go into another room and seamlessly finish it on my iPad without having to save or close the message. One of the simpler, but more effective ways in which Apple introduces this concept is allowing users to answer calls on their MacBooks when their phones are within a certain radius.

Another major push for Continuity in Yosemite is the Instant Hotspot feature. Instant Hotspot allows MacBooks to connect with the cellular network on their iPhones when no other Wi-Fi network is available. It also conveniently shuts down inactive iPhones when in-use. The big advancement for Continuity, however, is the application Handoff.

Handoff is among the most exciting new features of Yosemite and the major aspect of Apple’s push for Continuity. Once you get through the confusing set-up, Handoff proves to be a practical application of the concept. When you’re working on a task on your MacBook, an icon appears on your iPhone/iPad lock screen which allows you to immediately pick up whatever task you were working on using the MacBook without losing a beat. It also works the other way, with the Handoff icon appearing to the left of the Dock on your MacBook when you’re switching over from an iPhone/iPad. With Continuity, devices are constantly communicating to better serve the user. Continuity represents a major advancement designed to get users completely consumed in the world of Apple devices. Although Handoff has its kinks, it effectively executes the Continuity concept and ultimately proves to be the biggest, most exciting advancement in OS X Yosemite.

CONCLUSION

Overall, OS X Yosemite is a major step forward for Apple products and aesthetics. It retains a cool look, intuitive functionality, and its steps toward complete device Continuity are clearly indicative of technology of the future. Apple has already put together a featured list on their App Store of Great Apps for OS X Yosemite, it will be exciting to see how app developers follow Apple’s lead and take advantage of the latest OS to enhance their apps.

Mystic Media is an app development and marketing firm specializing in both iOS & Android development, and more. Learn more by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815.

App Store Optimization Part 6: How to Change App Titles While Minimizing Impact on ASO

In an effort to emphasize the importance of App Store Optimization, the Mystic Media Blog is applying its expertise into a six-part series on ASO. In our previous entry Key Differences in Apple Vs. Google Play App Stores, we detailed how to optimize specifically for either app store. This week, we conclude the series by exploring the effects of changing your app title after release and how to efficiently change titles while minimizing negative effects on ASO.

One of our clients recently wanted to change the title of their app on both Apple App Store and Google Play. While their previous title was okay, they came up with a new title which would potentially attract more of their target audience. They consulted us on the process of changing app titles and its effects on ASO. While it may seem like a simple fix, the process of changing titles is not seamless and can make the developer look unprofessional if improperly executed.

First and foremost, one must weigh the negative impact of changing titles. Changing the title of an app will not wipe out the number of previous downloads and ratings & reviews, but if an app has an established brand, changing titles can be highly detrimental to ASO. Whatever word-of-mouth or brand recognition an app already had will dissipate. App Store users looking for the app under its previous name will be unable to find it. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

A name change can ultimately attract more users if the name is catchy and features a keyword optimized for search. One of the most interesting findings we came across in our ASO research came from a blog in which a developer discovered a hole in the Apple App Store’s keyword search and exploited it (check out Master the Art of Writing a Catchy Title and Keywords for more info on writing keywords). The developer originally released Texties, an app which allows for users to easily send unicode artwork. Frustrated with the limited amount of downloads, the developer discovered searching “texties” in the App Store returned 2200 results and Texties wasn’t at the top. He soon realized searching “txts” yielded the same search results. It became apparent Apple was using some fuzzy auto-correcting on search strings. The developer proceeded to change their app title to “Textables”, which now comes up first in title searches.

Check out Mark Rickert’s blog for more information on this story.

If the developer elects to change app titles, the process is laborious. The developer must change the title everywhere it’s previously appeared—on their website, social media, app description, and screenshots—not to mention all the places the app title appears within the app itself.

So long as the function of the app is not different, ASO shouldn’t be affected dramatically by a title change, but one has to keep in mind the keywords must be optimized for the search terms associated with both the app’s function and title. If the title change is drastic enough that the developer thinks the keywords which would lead to it have changed, they must change the keywords to search terms more befitting of the new title. If the developer feels the keywords associated with the old title apply equally to the new title, there’s no need to change them and it should not have a noteworthy effect on ASO, assuming they are right.

When changing an app name on Google Play, it’s crucial to note that Google looks through the app description for keywords (as we detailed in Key Differences in Apple Vs. Google Play App Stores). If the keywords have changed, it’s vital the developer proceed to revise the app description appropriately.

The app name can easily be changed on the Apple App Store through iTunes Connect. On Google Play, changing the “android:label” attribute of your application tag in “AndroidManifest.xml” file will do the job. However, changing the app name on devices requires the developer to change the metadata to reflect the new title and upload the newly-titled app as an update. Users who already have the app must download the update to change the name of the app on their phone. This makes changing a name on the Apple App Store  more difficult than on Google Play since Apple must approve all updates before they go live on the app store.

Changing an app name on Google Play presents its own challenges. Apps on Google Play retain a package name, which is a URL owned by the app to prevent name collisions. Changing the title of an app does not alter the package name, any links previously used will remain unbroken despite the change in app title. However, the package name is one thing that cannot be changed unless you’re uploading a new app. If a developer is so concerned about the original title being in the package name that they decide they must change it, they would have to start from scratch, post the newly titled app in a separate package on the app store as a new app, and lose all traction and reviews they previously had earned.

Check out this article at Android Developers Blog for more information on package names.

As we explored in Master the Art of Writing a Catchy Title and Keywords, app titles are vital to ASO. Changing an app’s title can be helpful to ASO granted the new title is catchier, more functional, and it’s early enough in the release that the app does not have a big following.

This concludes our six-part series on App Store Optimization. Thank you to our readers! We hope this serves you well in your future app development adventures. In the meantime, stay tuned!

Mystic Media is, among many other things, a premier Search Engine Optimization firm. Our Marketing Strategists recognize the importance of ASO and can work with the tech side to ensure all websites and applications designed will succeed in the marketplace. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

App Store Optimization Part 5: Key Differences in Apple Vs. Google Play App Stores

In an effort to emphasize the importance of App Store Optimization, The Mystic Media Blog is applying its expertise into a six-part series on ASO. In our previous entry Maximize Your Exposure by Getting Featured on the App Store, we detailed techniques on how to get featured on an App Store landing page. This week, we will explore the differences in ASO for Google Play and  Apple App Store.

App Store curators look to surface the most relevant content for users. Although the ultimate goal may be the same for both Google and Apple, their approach to achieving their goals are different. The exact details of Apple’s processes are shrouded in secrecy as they promote discovery through curation, while Google focuses more on analytics and prioritizes transparency in their processes. Check out their recent I/O speech on Getting Discovered on Google Play for a bevy of useful information. While our ASO series thus far has focused on the common ground, this chapter will delve into the differences between the two app stores and what techniques can be used to optimize for either store.

GENERAL THEMES

Google Play favors bigger mobile-focused enterprises, while Apple favors independent developers. A recent study at MobileDevHQ found independent developers generally rank higher in the Apple App Store, while Google Play is more favorable toward mobile focused enterprises. MobileDevHQ recorded the top apps for each store and found that 65% of the top apps for iPhone were independently developed, while 90% of top apps in Google Play store were developed by mobile-focused enterprises.

Granted, out-of-context, the above statistic can be misconstrued. Big mobile-focused enterprises do better on Google Play because they have the brainpower and workforce to analyze the statistics which factor heavily into Google Play’s search algorithm. Google Play also does its part to give independent developers an opening through regional-specific results and Google+ recommendations. Apple’s App Store, on the other hand, relies on curation. The Mystic Media Blog previously discussed  how Android is considered more developer-friendly since they feature open-source coding and skip the process of approval Apple uses to filter bad apps from making it onto their App Store (review our post on Why Android Rules the Mobile Application Market). Apps receiving approval before making the the app store filters out sub-par entries, allowing Apple to curate more effectively. Every app on the Apple App Store, big or small, starts with an evaluation.

Apple’s App Store is much more volatile and reactive to trends than Google Play. Within the same seven day study at MobileDevHQ, the top ranking apps in Apple’s App Store fluctuated—no single app stayed in the same rank through all seven days—while of the top ten ranking apps on Google Play, five failed to change position once. In addition, no new apps broke into the top ten for Google Play.

DESCRIPTION

While it’s recommended developers include keywords in their app description, the Apple App Store barely weighs the description, unlike Google Play which weighs the keywords in app descriptions heavily. For more on keywording and app descriptions, review App Store Optimization Part 2: Master the Art of Writing a Catchy Title and Effective Keywords.

VIDEO

Google Play also allows developers to post a video preview of their app. The purpose of the video is to show the app in use, to preview the graphics, the sound, the UX, the function, etc. Google Play preview videos are hosted through Youtube, which creates a new avenue for app developers to market their product through Youtube SEO. For more on the topic, check out this cool article on How Youtube Videos are Ranked.

DISPLAY

Google’s recent talk about getting discovered on Google Play yielded a lot of great information concerning Google Play’s display strategy. Ankit Jain, Google Play’s Head of Search, Discovery & Store Infrastructure, explained how Google Play attempts to create a UX which is simultaneously personalized and personal.

Personalized, as it relates to Google Play, means the results are catered to the user based on their history of searches, purchases, what device the user is on (remember, unlike iOS, Android allows third-party companies to develop  devices on its OS), and what’s popular in their geographic region. The amalgamation of user history and geographic popularity factor heavily into Google Play’s search algorithms.

Personal means results are annotated by Google Play analytics with reasons why the user should download the app. This involves linking to the user’s Google+ account to allow the Google Play store to show if anyone in a person’s Google+ circles has given an app a +1.  Apps relevant to a search which are recommended by people in a user’s Google+ circles will surface high in the search results, thus targeting Google+ for social media campaigns pays off for developers releasing through Google Play.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

The goal of any app store is to effectively promote the top apps for the platform. Both Google and Apple look to share the apps which will best please the user and make the most of the technology of their respective platforms. When it comes to ASO, no keyword, app title, icon, or description will change anyone’s mind about a bad app. No curator will elevate the status of a bad app because it is well-marketed. Thus, it’s fitting remind you: the first step to optimizing any app for an app store is to create a great app. By observing the rules of each app store and excelling in each of the processes of ASO with intelligent strategy and an efficient external marketing campaign, a great app can catch the attention of app curators and rise to the top of any app store search. The rest, as they say, is search history.

Mystic Media is considered among the most versatile and capable web agencies in the US. Our workforce includes experts across a variety of fields including app development, strategic marketing, social media, web design, Search Engine Optimization, radio streaming, and more. We have the resources necessary to effectively develop and market applications for any platform. Contact us today by clicking here or calling 801.994.6815

Tilting the Playing Field: iPhone 6 Technology Expands Possibilities for iOS App Developers

The release of a new iPhone is always a major event. Apple is the most innovative and well-respected tech company in the world. This year, they’ve  already  released the iOS 8 (review our recent post Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition). Now, they’ve taken things a step further by unveiling not one, but two models for the latest iPhone: the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The day Apple made the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus available, they were backordered for a month. Sales numbers aren’t in yet, but first weekend sales for the iPhone 5 were over 5 million. For iOS developers, it’s safe to say the playing field has changed. Here’s what you need to know about the new iPhones to stay ahead of your competition:

COMPARISON

For starters, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are separated by size and functionality. The iPhone 6 Plus is a phablet, teetering the line between smartphone and tablet with a larger screen (5.5 inch vs. 4.7 inch), more precise display (1920×1080 vs. 1334×750), better battery, and slightly higher price tag ($199 vs. $299) than the standard iPhone 6 counterpart. The iPhone 6 will satisfy the casual consumer, while the iPhone 6 Plus is a must-have for the hardcore techies and upscale buyers who need the latest and greatest.

SCREEN DISPLAY

For developers, among the biggest changes will be the screen size. Android developers have been dealing with device fragmentation for years. Unlike the transition from iPhone 4 to 5, in which the aspect ratio changed from 3:2 to 16:9, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus increase screen size from iPhone 5 while maintaining a 16:9 aspect ratio. This means there’s no black bars at either end of the screen when viewing content optimized for iPhone 5.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus screens are not only larger, they are also better. Screens will now boast the notorious HD Retina Display currently available on MacBooks. For more on Retina Display, check out this article over at Tech Radar summarizing the details.

Another of the major factors which may cause developers to redesign their apps the latest models is the iPhone 6 Plus’s enhanced ability to display in landscape mode. Previous models didn’t have the screen space to effectively display much in anything other than portrait mode. The 6 Plus allows for the home screen to display in landscape mode in an iPad-like split view. Developers will have to take note of the increased screen real-estate and perhaps redesign their apps to creatively utilize the landscape mode.

TECHNOLOGY SPECS

Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are fully loaded with an A8 chip featuring second-generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture, enhanced by an M8 motion coprocessor designed to efficiently measure user activity using advanced sensors. This allows the user to do more for longer periods of time. The A8 boasts 50x faster CPU performance and 84x GPU performance. The increased battery life on iPhone 6 can browse the web using LTE and 3G networks for 10 hours on standard models and 12 hours on iPhone 6 Plus.

METAL

Here’s the literal game-changer developers: in order to maximize the graphics performance out of the A8 chip and iOS 8, Apple is introducing Metal, a state-of-the-art program allowing CPU and GPU to work together to deliver top-tier graphics and complex visual effects. Metal provides the lowest-overhead access to GPU, features a streamlined API, compiled shaders, and support for efficient multi-threading. We’re excited to get working in the new program.

For more info, check out Apple’s Metal developer guide and this informative article over on GameFromScratch.

CAMERA

On their website, Apple boasts “The camera that changed photos now does the same for video.” It is quite a bold statement. The iPhone 6 iSight cameras now shoot real-time 1080p HD video at 60 frames per second, in addition to slow-motion video at 240 frames per second. The larger screen and HD Retina display certainly makes for a better viewing experience. The iPhone 6 Plus offers optical image stabilization, which stabilizes recorded images by varying the optical path to the sensor, making for smoother motion in video.

The iPhone 6 camera resolution remains at 8MP with the same sensor dimensions, pixel size, and lens specs found on iPhone 5s. The larger screen makes for a more detailed viewing area, but many Android users also enjoy larger screens. Apple has also made a major improvement to the iPhone’s ability to shoot at night with higher aperture and wider focal length, making for more crisper images. Compared side-by-side with the Galaxy S5, iPhone 5s, and Moto X, iPhone 6 takes the cake with most consistent results.

TOUCH ID and APPLE PAY 

Much has been said about Apple’s attempts to utilize fingerprint scanning technology as a security measure. The iPhone 6, in conjunction with iOS 8, puts into effect Touch ID: a fingerprint scanning technology which allows the user’s unique fingerprint to be used as a passcode to enter the iPhone, as well as to approve of purchases when used in conjunction with Apple Pay.

Apple Pay, expected release coming later in October, will scan your credit and debit card information to store it in your phone,  utilize Near Field Communication to make transactions in-stores, and allow users to approve purchases through Touch ID fingerprint scanning. The efficient combination of Apple Pay and Touch ID  may revolutionize check-out lines across the world.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Overall, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have improved in every sense over the iPhone 5. The increased screen-size and graphics capabilities provided by Metal have opened the door for developers to create high-tech graphics on a larger canvas. The camera shoots better in low-light and the optical image stabilization makes for smoother video. The slow-motion video capabilities are sure to light up the social media landscape. The combination of Touch ID and Apple Pay make the process of purchasing, both online and off, indelibly easy. Apple has once again changed the playing field for hardware. Now, the question is how iOS app developers and their competition will keep up.

Mystic Media is an app development, marketing, and web design firm providing a host of services to clients, from Android and iOS Development, Strategic Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and more. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815