Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality

IDC reported that worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is forecasted to reach $17.8 billion in 2018, an increase of nearly 95% over the $9.1 billion spent in 2017. The thing is, neither VR nor AR are new technologies, so why the sudden year over year growth? The answer: mobile technology.

From bulky Nokias to sleek iPhones, mobile technology has skyrocketed in recent years. We’ve moved past the days where a simple game of Snake was all that our phones could take. As cell phones evolved into smartphones, their capabilities grew exponentially. For example, with a VR headset our phones can transport us to a completely new world, and with a camera, they can combine the real and imaginary to create an augmented version of both.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is something that brings back childhood memories of wishing we could jump into our favorite video games or movies and join the action, right there alongside the action heroes. It’s immersive storytelling in which you join the action, offering untold potential in terms of engagement. With virtual reality you’re no longer a spectator, you’re a participant.

When we pair mobile technology with devices like Google Cardboard, you arrive at VR all consumers can use. And if the consumer can use it, brands can produce it. Case in point, The New York Times and its NYT VR app, which became the most successful app launch in NYT history. That was back in 2015 — imagine what can happen today.
In 2018, virtual reality will be used for marketing, advertising, and anything else you can think of. Brands will use its ability to completely immerse users in a literal virtual reality as a cool and fun way of showing off and advertising their products and services, such as the ones in this post with the 10 best uses of VR in marketing.

Augmented Reality

AR, like VR, utilizes the virtual in an effort to spice up what’s real. But unlike VR, AR augments your surroundings in a complementary interaction between reality and imagination. In other words, it’s a coexistence of physical and virtual.

Big players such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Snapchat are already making strides in the AR industry. Apple introduced ARKit and Google rolled out ARCore, two collections of tools for developers who want to bring AR features in their apps, Facebook has World Effects, an AR feature for photos and videos that enable you to drop 3D objects into your surroundings to capture and share fun moments with your friends and family, and finally, Snapchat has, well, Snapchat.

The immediate popularity of apps like Snapchat and Pokemon Go have shown us that users not only want AR, they need it. To enter the AR market in 2018, brands need to understand how consumers will interact with the technology and where to make use of it in the customer journey. For example, they can start early and use it to promote their products by putting up flyers that jump out at you when viewed through an AR app. They can also copy IKEA, who created an app with AR functionality to show off their products in their consumers’ homes, and use it after consumers are already aware of their products.

Final Thoughts & TL;DR

Virtual and augmented reality are geared to be the two very important mobile technologies in 2018. One epitomizes immersive storytelling the other transforms the world around you into an enhanced version of itself. And here’s the Tl;dr version of what we covered today:
Worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality is forecasted to increase drastically because of advancements in mobile technology
VR takes us back to our childhood and turns us from spectators to participants
Pairing mobile technology with devices like Google Cardboard gives us VR all consumers can use
VR can be used for marketing, advertising, and anything else you can think of because of its ability to increase brand engagement beyond anything else
AR augments your surroundings in a complementary interaction between reality and imagination
Big players such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Snapchat are already making strides in the AR industry
AR can be used anywhere in the customer journey to either introduce a brand’s products and services or promote them further
Enjoy experiencing these alternate realities!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Mobile Payment Solutions: A Gateway for Safer and Faster Transactions in 2018

Technology completely revolutionized commerce as it gave birth to eCommerce and, thanks to our love for our smartphones, mCommerce. The reality is that thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), the way we shop has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. In fact, due to a combination of new and emerging technology, and changes to regulations and consumer behavior, 2018 seems poised to be a year of big change in the payments landscape.

As a matter of fact, with in-app purchasing, one-click ordering, mobile card readers, carrier payments, the point of sale payments, and many more mobile payment solutions, it’s safe to say that mobile payments cannot be stopped. Starting with what mobile pay is and ending with its benefits, here’s all you need to know about mobile payment solutions.

Mobile Payment Solutions

The mobile pay landscape is vast and expansive, covering everything from everyday transactions to mutual fund and stock market investments. Thanks to IoT and smartphones, we can now practically pay for whatever we want with nothing other than our phones.

For example, Google introduced the Google Wallet app in 2011, saying it was “a fast, free way to send money through the app, in Gmail, or on the web.” A couple of years later Apple introduced Apple Pay for Apple devices, Samsung introduced Samsung Pay for Samsung Galaxy devices, and Android introduced Android Pay for Android devices.

The gist of these mobile payment applications is that we already use our smartphones for practically everything, so why not payments as well? All that’s required is to add a credit card, debit card, gift card, loyalty card, or some other form of payment card. Once that’s complete, we can use our phones to shop online, in stores, or through other apps. For in-store purchases, these services use NFC (near field communication) technology to make purchases with a single tap of the phone on a CC terminal — simple.

Apart from these ‘Pay’ apps, other mobile payment solutions we can make use of are: 
Banking applications like those of TD Bank, Bank of America, Citibank and more
Non-banking apps that have similar functions as banking apps, such as Venmo
Mobile card readers can be inserted into a smartphone’s headphone jack to charge payment cards
Carrier payments that allow you to pay through your carrier (E.g., donating money to a charity be texting a certain number)
Closed loop proprietary mobile payments in which customers can pay through their smartphones

Similar to Starbucks, other retailers like Walmart, Dunkin’ Donuts, CVS and Burger King are also using proprietary mobile payments to make their customers’ lives easier. And interestingly enough, Amazon also filed a patent that would allow shoppers to make a purchase by taking a photo and/or video of themselves — a sort of ‘selfie pay.’

The Benefits of Mobile Payment Solutions and Why You Should Use Them

40% of millennials say that they would give up cash completely; we may not live in a cashless society yet, but we’re knocking at its door. The thing is, not only is it frustrating to physically go to an ATM to withdraw cash, but the possibility of losing it (and your other payment cards) if you happen to misplace it or your wallet crosses the line — nope, no thank you.

From what we covered in the previous section and just saw with the ATM example, it can be seen that mobile payment solutions are extremely convenient. Not only can we pay with a simple phone tap, but we can even use wearables like the Apple Watch to pay for more mobility and convenience. Mobile pay also eliminates the need for paper receipts; everything is stored digitally and available for our inspection.

Apart from convenience (what can be more convenient than tapping a phone?), mobile payments are also very secure. Mobile wallets usually require two-factor verification and all financial data is encrypted. Even more, many mobile payment services offer 24/7 fraud monitoring for extra protection. As for the possibility of losing your phone and falling risk to others using your mobile wallet, no need to worry — services like Apple Pay will only work with your thumbprint.

Final Thoughts
We want safer transactions, protected data, faster payments, and overall better and streamlined shopping experiences. As Forbes states, “consumers expect frictionless checkout experiences combined with the same level of security across all devices as exists today with other more established payment forms.” Lucky for us, mobile payment solutions are there to help us out. And with all the good they bring, it can be said that for mobile pay 2018 will be a very good year. Enjoy!

Monday, 4 December 2017

3 Mobile Technologies that Will Make a Big Impact in 2018

Out of all of the technologies, you can think of, mobile technology has had one of the biggest impacts on our lives. Why? Because it’s mobile and we can go anywhere with it. Today, more people than ever have smartphones, and with it comes near limitless possibilities.
Let’s look at what the future of mobile technology will look like in 2018.

1: Wireless Charging

It’s been a long time since Nikola Tesla walked on Earth, but we finally have something he could only dream about: wireless charging (AKA inductive charging). Wires? No, thank you. I would much rather simply set my phone down on top of a charging pad and let the energy flow. The thing about wires is that they’re the past; they’re obsolete. We have wireless speakers, wireless earphones, and now we have wireless charging. Wires had their heyday, and it’s time for them to step aside.
Imagine coming home a bit inebriated after a night out with friends. You get back, you’re tired, thirsty, and all you want to do is take your clothes off and go to sleep. You put your phone down and head to bed. Which of the following scenarios would you prefer?
You start nodding off when you realize that your phone is completely out of battery. Darn it, now you have to get up, find the charging cable, and do that little dance where you try to plug your phone in as few tries as possible. Ahh, finally, fifth time’s the charm — time to head back to bed.
You start nodding off and you fall asleep knowing that your phone started charging the second you put it down on top of the charging pad.
If I were you, I would opt for the second scenario.

2: Augmented Reality


Augmented reality has been with us for a while now, but we didn’t really start talking about it and mobile technology in the same sentence until Pok√©mon GO came into the scene in the summer of 2016. It’s had its ups and downs, but many people now realize what AR can do, and many organizations are taking heed and are adding it to their own strategies.
In fact, Amazon recently released AR View, a wonderful mobile app that goes above and beyond what other AR apps can do. With it, you can go through their catalogue, choose something that you’re interested in, and then superimpose it onto your actual surroundings. That’s not all though, after all, there are plenty apps that already do that. The beauty of this app is that it has more of a mixed reality feel by allowing to ‘interact’ with the product. Not interact as in touch, but once you place an object somewhere, you can walk around and see it from different angles, just as if it were actually there. So whereas other apps have the object sit there, Amazon actually lets you treat it as an actual thing.

3: Translators


As artificial intelligence improves, we’re seeing more and more improvements in translators. And by this, I’m not referring to dear old text translators, but instead, those that translate as you speak. In other words, you can have a complete and cohesive conversation with someone who speaks a completely different language than you, without waiting for the machine to register what you say and then translate. I’m talking real-time language translation.

A Second Look at the Future of Mobile Technology

Let’s whet our mobile technology appetites by taking a second look at what 2018 will bring:
1. Wireless charging that will make our lives much easier
2. Augmented reality to merge the real and virtual world
3. Translators that can break down language barriers in real-time
Enjoy the future of mobile technology!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Top 7 Programming Languages for Mobile App Development

With the release of the iPhone X, smartphones continue to be one of the hottest and most trending topics online. We all have them, we all love them, and we all think we can come up with the latest and greatest mobile apps that will take the world by storm. The problem is unless we’re familiar with one, two, or a few programming languages, we’re left without a paddle.

One avenue of recourse is to team up with a developer or digital agency with mobile app development skills, but that might come with a hefty price tag. Instead, take a proactive approach; learn some programming languages and start coding some mobile apps. The hard part of learning is up to you, but here’s your first step: choosing from these top 7 programming languages ripe for mobile app development.

1: Swift

Swift is a powerful and intuitive programming language for macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Released by Apple specifically for iOS and supporting systems, this programming language is a must if you plan to develop mobile apps for Apple users. It’s quite intuitive and easy to learn, and its popularity has been steadily increasing in recent years. If you want a language that makes coding fun, you can’t go wrong with Swift.

2: Objective-C

Before Swift, there was Objective-C, Apple’s language of choice for years. It’s one of the most popular programming languages for mobile app development, so consider learning it and Swift congruently for a well-rounded approach. It’s simple to use, pretty robust and scalable, and as it’s a C-language superset, it has a decent amount of functions geared toward graphics and display functions.

3: C++

C++ (pronounced C plus plus) is the language for you if you’re planning on entering the Android and Windows mobile app landscape. It’s one of the most powerful programming languages and is also very good for developing cross-platform mobile apps. Speaking of, C++ works with Objective-C libraries in iOS app development, so definitely consider adding it to your repertoire. No matter what type of app you’re thinking of, C++ can definitely help you out.

4: Java

With 5 million students studying it, 10 million developers using it, and 15 billion devices running on it, Java is the language of possibilities. It’s an object-oriented language that’s very easy to learn and use, which is probably why many introductory computer science courses use it as a starter language. As such, it’s also one of the most popular programming languages in the world (overall), especially for Android mobile app development. Not to say that you can’t use it for cross-platform app development — it’s actually one of the most suited languages for app development in general.

5: Python

Python is a programming language that lets you work quickly and integrate systems more effectively. It’s a high-level language perfect for a variety of projects, and one of its most appealing features is that it is excellent at readability. Because of its syntax, Python is also very good at writing fast code, as it helps programmers achieve results in fewer steps than other languages like Java or C++.

6: C#

Just like Swift is Apple’s brainchild, C# is Microsoft’s. As such, if you want to develop a Windows phone app, definitely consider C#. It’s a very versatile language and, with support from Xamarin and Unity, you can build everything from server and enterprise apps to games.

7: Javascript + HTML5

HTML5 is the fifth version of HTML, and while not a mobile app development language in and of itself, by pairing it with Javascript, it most definitely becomes one (Javascript can also be paired with CSS and AJAX for mobile apps). Therefore, it’s good for hybrid app developers who are not used to the mobile app landscape.

Final Thoughts

Take your pick of one or all of these languages — you can’t go wrong with either. Here they are all over again:
1. Swift
2. Objective-C
3. C++
4. Java
5. Python
6. C#
7. Javascript + HTML5

Good luck learning and coding!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

10 Tips to Increase Mobile App Engagement

There are about 2.8M mobile apps in the Google Play Store, 2.2M in the Apple App Store, 669K in the Windows Store, and 600K in the Amazon App Store. In other words, the mobile app landscape is extremely competitive and developers are popping up left and right with new apps every day. For example, one year ago there were around 12 million people trying their hand in mobile application development, and about 149.3 billion applications were downloaded in that same year.

The point is that there are a lot of mobile apps out there, and if you’re a developer who wants to increase mobile app engagement, you’ll have a hard time competing with everyone else. After all, the last thing you want is for your app to finally get downloaded only to collect digital dust as it sits on your user’s phone day in and day out.

And now we arrive at the gist of our conversation today: 10 tips that’ll help you increase mobile app engagement.

1: Create a Great First Impression

Just like any other relationship, your mobile app has to make a good first impression from the start. If people don’t like it from the get-go, they’ll delete it right then and there and out goes another user. That’s not what you want. You want to create an easy onboarding experience that’s marked by few, simple steps to get started, a splash screen that keeps users entertained as the app loads, and most importantly, a fast interface.

2: Leverage Analytics

One of the more important tips on this list, leverage your app’s analytics to get a better understanding of who your users are. By doing so, you’ll gain valuable insights into user behavior; you’ll know what’s working and what your users are responding to. From here, you can optimize your app and create an experience that everyone — or at least a majority — will like.

3: Use Push Notifications

More specific than other tips on this list for engagement, use push notifications to keep your app on your user’s mind. As long as your notifications serve a purpose and are beneficial, and aren’t generic ones akin to junk mail, your app will be a constant presence in your user’s mind, thereby increasing engagement. For example, reach out with personalized content that’ll make them feel wanted.

4: Utilize Location-Based Content

Location-specific notifications go a long way in enhancing engagement with your app because they’re contextual. By sending real-time information as a user enters or exits a geofence, they’ll be prompted to take an action through your app in that very moment. Like push notifications, make sure that they’ll benefit from them, otherwise they’ll get annoyed and may delete the app.

5: Offer Personalization

We’re all different and we’re all particular about what we like. What Jack likes may not be liked by Jill, and what Bonnie likes may not be liked by Clyde. By offering in-app personalization, you’ll enhance user experience (UX), guaranteeing that engagement with your app will increase as well.

6: Gamify Your App with Incentives

Everyone likes games and everyone likes rewards. Want to increase user engagement with your app? Gamify it and offer incentives like a loyalty program that’ll keep them coming back. For example, offering daily rewards that compound as users check in on consecutive days will guarantee that your users become daily users. If you have a game, offer in-game tokens that give them bonuses. If you have an eCommerce app, offer them promo codes or discounts. As long as you make it worthwhile, people will keep coming back.

7: Optimize Battery Consumption

A very important task in the mobile application development stage, optimize for battery consumption. Unless your app is a game, don’t make it too graphic intensive. Not only will this drastically increase battery usage, but it’ll also slow down the app, effectively lowering UX.

8: Integrate Social Media

Practically everyone’s on social media. Whether a youngster or a retiree, chances are good that they’ll have an account in one of the many social media platforms out there. If you offer social media integration, you’ll give your users a chance to share any information they want their friends and followers. You’ll essentially open an avenue for them to share their experiences, which will function to attract even more people to your app.

9: Offer a Free Trial

Is your mobile app a paid app? If so, consider offering a free trial that’ll give them a taste before they buy. The thing is, people may not be hooked from your app’s description alone and they’ll be hard-pressed to purchase it without knowing what’s in store for them. By offering a trial period, you’ll metaphorically dangle a carrot before them, increasing the chances of a download. And because we’re human, we tend to like things more if we have to pay for them.

10: Listen to Your Users

And finally, listen to what your users have to say. More often than not, someone writes a review for one of two reasons: if they had a good experience or not. If your users actually take the time out of their busy day to write a review for your app, you can bet they want to be heard. Listen to them and see what’s working and what’s not. Once you have this information, you can make any updates and create a better experience for everyone.

Final Thoughts

There are about 2.32 billion smartphone owners today and mobile apps for just about everything. We have some for eCommerce, others for social media, and even some that tell us when a planet is in retrograde. And yet, with all these apps, it’s still very difficult to increase mobile app engagement with your users. Do yourself a favor and use the following tips to increase mobile app engagement:
1. Create a great first impression that won’t turn users away
2. Use analytics to get to know your users better
3. Use push notifications to stay in your user’s mind
4. Utilize location-based content to stay contextual
5. Offer personalization to keep things interesting
6. Gamify your app with incentives to keep users coming back
7. Optimize battery consumption and keep your users happy
8. Integrate social media to keep current
9. Offer a free trial to get users hooked
10. Listen to your users through their reviews

Best of luck with your mobile application development!