Many of you know how slow the emulator is. Programmers are likely to have finished development and submitted the app to the Play Store before the emulator is done booting up. Fortunately, Google announced that the emulator can now run native on the machine, therefore performing much faster. I spent a bit of time working on this and figured out a useful workflow!
Some companies justify Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) because it shifts costs to workers or turns some home time into work time. But it’s a mistake to use enterprise mobility as some kind of cost-saving or employee-exploiting wedge. In the article “Enterprise Mobility is about enabling value, not value engineering,” Benjamin Robbins argues that this is like stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime. The big value is going to come from enabling workers to do their jobs in a different and better way.
In theory, BYOD will lead to higher employee productivity – along the lines of two hours per day, or 460 hours over the course of a year. Of course, you’ve probably already observed that mobile devices can also be an excuse to conduct more personal activities at work, such as checking Facebook. Many companies view mobility as an expense and are pleased at the possibility of shifting some of the expense and responsibility for mobility back to the employee. These views all fail to grasp the bigger picture.
In essence, what the Web and just-in-time manufacturing have done for shopping, we can expect mobility to do for work. That is, enterprises enable their employees by affording them the ability to customize the right mix of apps and services on demand. It behooves enterprises to offer this capability as a competitive recruiting gesture, because, informed by their experiences with consumer devices, prospective employees will come to expect it, and their enhanced productivity will boost the bottom line.
Of course, this doesn’t mean rules go out the window. It does mean that the standards for enterprise mobility need to account for variation and the desire (and need) for employees to self-install and un-install apps. Standards must also allow some degree of customization to the working style of the employee – performing updates during sleep or family hours, or while in a meeting that should not be interrupted, for instance. This must also be accompanied by proper guidelines for a good work/life balance.
Simply put, mobility can enable the workforce as it never has been enabled before.
Our Director of Mobile Retail, Jeremy Black, is going to be speaking on a panel at Urban Airship’s Mobile Saturday SXSW 2013 event on March 9 in Austin, Texas. Come out to hear Jeremy and various other leaders in the mobile industry speak at this exciting event.
Topics include geolocation, loyalty, mobile retail, and the seamless customer experience panel that Jeremy will be speaking on. Jeremy and his industry colleagues will be speaking on topics such as:
- What cross-device behaviors are most prevalent today?
- How are different devices typically used at different parts of the journey from acquisition to conversion and loyalty?
- How are leaders unifying experiences across devices and channels?
- What consumer horror stories have been documented from disconnected consumer experiences?
- What does a unified customer experience look like one year from now? Three years from now?
Don’t confuse App Stores with a fully operational Mobile Application Management (MAM) platform. Despite claims from certain vendors, a true MAM platform must support not just the acquisition of apps, but the entire app lifecycle.
Why is this confusion rampant? Let’s face it: we know what an app store is. We can immediately grasp that concept. What we don’t have a concept of is what it takes to run an app store, and that’s what MAM does.
Here are the issues that should be addressed, according to Jim Casey’s article in Developer Tech:
- An App Store is not MAM. Just because you can buy an app doesn’t mean you can manage vendor relationships and address deployments, bugs and fixes.
- True MAM accounts for every aspect of the enterprise mobility lifecycle. MAM is a systems-management view of enterprise mobile apps, including deployment, configuration, monitoring, management and security. Any system that offers less than this is an incomplete bill of goods and will cause a lot of pain down the road.
- A mobile platform needs metrics. Who is using the apps? How? When? Why? Are apps being installed and quickly uninstalled, an indication of a problem in the app’s design?
- A mobile platform must include enterprise integration. MAM is about much more than acquiring a few apps for your employees. It’s also not just about one mobile operating system, or one app. It’s about accessing all the back-end data at your company that your employees need to do their jobs. It’s about making employees more productive, regardless of time or location, while ensuring the integrity of corporate data.
Enterprises have increasingly come to appreciate the importance of account security and deployment considerations on an application level, which has graduated them beyond looking at securing mobile devices (and Mobile Device Management) as the end-all and be-all of enterprise mobility. But this appreciation of app-centricity doesn’t end with establishing or linking to an app store. Don’t be confused by vendors of “MAM-lite.” Mastering what comes after you’ve got the apps and can secure your devices – managing the entire app lifecycle – is what will truly bring mobile’s promise into the light.
We’re going to be speaking at the sold-out Bazaarvoice Summit in Austin, Texas from March 4-6. Drop by to learn more about building great mobile experiences to drive ROI, optimizing user engagement, and positioning yourself as an industry leader.
Our co-founder, Sundeep Matra, will be speaking on a panel called Socialize the Storefront: Keeping Bricks-and-Mortar Experiences Relevant.
Also representing Xtreme Labs will be:
Give us a shout if you plan to come, we’d love to meet up. We’ll also be hosting dinners on Tuesday and Wednesday night, so if you’d like to join us send Stephen an e-mail. You can also find us at our booth in the Innovation Café – swing by and say hi during the conference.
Xtreme Labs has released a report about how the top 100 U.S. retailers fare in the mobile space. The list of retailers is from the 2012 annual STORES Top 100 Retailers report.
The infographic below highlights some key findings. Click to view full-sized image.
According to Google’s thinkmobile presentation, almost four out of five U.S. shoppers use their smartphone for shopping-related activities. 70% of U.S. shoppers use phones while shopping in-store. Clearly, the mobile device is a huge influence on them while they’re shopping. They’ve got their eyes on the screen despite the shelf of merchandise in front of them.
As a retailer, you may be curious about how you can use mobile to your advantage. While there are various ways to add to your bottom line, mobile devices can be specifically used to drive conversion rates. We explain exactly how in our recent whitepaper.
This recent whitepaper is a joint effort by our Director of Business Development, Jeremy Black, and Mobile Product Manager, Breanna Hughes. It looks into three key strategies that retailers can use to drive new revenue from mobile devices:
1. Real-time customer data
Real-time data about consumer behavior provides retailers with the means to understand their customer better than ever. This data can be analyzed and used to deliver a personalized experience, resulting in increased sales volume.
2. Push notifications
The global trend of increasing smartphone penetration means retailers can engage with their customer anywhere at any time. Mobile applications coupled with targeted messaging represent a huge opportunity for retailers to increase the average transaction size.
3. Internal application development
An optimal enterprise application should empower in-store employees to deliver superior customer service, and provide head office with a powerful reporting tool that influences long-term planning. By constantly refining organizational processes based on the application’s real-world usage, companies can foster increased customer loyalty.
Curious to learn more? Head on over and download the complimentary whitepaper here.
Mobile World Congress 2013 is exploring the new mobile horizon at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona from February 25 – 28. This comprehensive event covers leading topics in mobile, including agricultural innovation, mobile identity, the role of NFC in the mobile ecosystem, and big data (amongst many, many others).
Get in Touch
We’ll be sharing highlights from MWC 2013 on our Twitter and Facebook profiles. Keep up with what’s happening at the conference by getting in touch on social media.
|Amar Varma, CEO & Co-Founder|
|Sundeep Madra, CTO & Co-Founder|
|Imtiaz Jaffer, Director of Marketing|
|Sheetal Jaitly, Director of Business Development|
|Mike Stern, Director of Business Development|
|Sina Sojoodi, Director, Strategy and Architecture|
If you’re attending MWC 2013, we’d love to connect. Our booth is located in Hall 7, Stand 7F24 inside the Ontario Pavilion. Feel free to stop by and say hello to the team.
Come Dine with Us
We have also booked several dinners at some of Barcelona’s finest restaurants throughout the week. We would be delighted to have you join us at any one of them as follows:
Sunday, February 24th @ 8:30 p.m.
Monday, February 25th @ 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, February 27th @ 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, February 28th @ 7:30 p.m.
Please RSVP by contacting our event coordinator, Andrea Teslia: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Safe travels and see you at MWC 2013!
Sports fans will never again have to worry about missing out on the action of a game, getting disconnected from the final score, or overlooking any jaw-dropping highlights. They can breathe a collective sigh of relief: Xtreme Labs and TSN are excited to launch a mobile website that will keep fans in the loop on the NHL, NBA, MLB, CFL, and NFL, while they’re on the go.
While TSN’s desktop site gets over 25 million pageviews a month, 3 million of these are from a mobile device. Currently, TSN has native iPhone and BlackBerry apps for users accessing their information on a mobile device.
We worked with TSN to build them a mobile website that works across all platforms, including mobile phones and tablet devices. The site has features such as radio and video integration with stations in Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal. It also allows users to view live scores, see highlight stats through a boxscore view, read featured news articles and TSN blog posts, watch featured video, and share easily through Twitter, Facebook and email.
To stay connected to the exciting world of sports, check out the mobile website here.
Xtreme Labs is immensely proud to recognize our employees who won first place at the Toronto LinkedIn Hackathon for their iPad app, Art Street. With only 24 hours to build it, Team Aptioneers finished early and completed their full project scope.
Art Street allows users to find interesting pieces of art around Toronto: graffiti, sculpture, installations, and more. These are presented through a map of the city, with a clickable pin for each piece of art – the pin can be tapped to open a larger picture and a description of the piece. Each piece is also listed in a navigation sidebar.
The art itself is crowd-sourced, meaning users with the app who find a piece of art can take a picture, write a brief description, and forward it for inclusion in the app. The submission is queued, then a moderator reviews it and decides whether or not to accept it.
As the first place winners, the team won three MacBook Airs. As the event sponsor, LinkedIn can publicize the app, but ownership rights remain with Team Aptioneers.
Team Aptioneers consisted of five Xtreme Labs employees, each of whom performed a specific set of tasks:
- James Larcombe: front end UI; iOS development
- Dritan Xhabija: PHP server components; implementing crowd-sourcing functionality
- Maya Kenedy: project management; creative; web view creation
- Jeff Avery: creative; data analysis
- Tom McNeely: data modeling
The team went into the competition with an idea and a few drawings, but nothing else: no data and no code. By splitting up the tasks, they were simultaneously able to build the client infrastructure, backend server infrastructure, and comb the internet for sources of street art to use. They met their own goals of building an app with a crowd-sourcing component, while remaining aligned to the original project scope.
Art Street was highly praised by the judges, all of them art fans, who unanimously declared it the winner. Another measure of its success is that the team has already been approached by the City of Toronto, which wishes to discuss populating Art Street with data points about art that the city has been collecting. This is great news, and has resulted in lots of fist pumping and high fives all around.
The app stood out in a competitive field for several reasons: the project scope was met in its entirety; the completed app is highly polished and visually appealing; the app has appeal to a broad range of users; and its purpose is easy to understand.
Two other teams with Xtreme Labs employees also did very well: BusPointer made it to the finals with their mobile web app of the same name, which aggregates bus scheduling information; and Life in Three received Honorable Mention for their iOS app for creating short video clips of daily life. There were about 185 participants in total across 25 teams, including employees from a few of our rivals in the mobile development industry.
Congratulations to all our successful LinkedIn Hackathon participants!
Though they’re one of the few elements that you can use to keep in touch with app users, push notifications are generally under-utilized. This is usually the result of organizations not effectively promoting the benefits of push messaging to recipients. Even if your current push notification opt-in rate isn’t where you want it to be, the potential this medium holds for user engagement makes it impossible to ignore.
Urban Airship is the world’s most globally deployed mobile push messaging service, and we’ve seen impressive results with customers that take a thoughtful approach to push messaging and use various channels to promote the benefits they deliver. We shared some of the key best practices in our Pocket Guide to Good Push and proved the tremendous engagement and retention lift push messaging drives in our latest Good Push Index.
Here are some key tips and tricks that will help you maximize both push opt-in rates and the value you and your customers get from them:
|Users need to trust the company and understand the value of both the app and push messaging in order to be open to receiving notifications. Apps should have a mandatory component of the sign-up process that clearly outlines the type of messages you will be sending, and how user data will be used to create messages. It’s also important to let users know you won’t be spamming them.|
|2.||Customize the Opt-In|
|You may want to create a way for users to select what kinds of notifications to receive (e.g., sales, promotions, content/product categories, proximity alerts, etc). Since the default iOS push notification opt-in message is not customizable, you can trigger a pop-up window before the opt-in screen to help communicate the value of push messaging and options that will be available for personalization.Brick-and-mortar retailers wait until the customer is at checkout to ask for an e-mail address. Similarly, having the push opt-in request appear a few pages into the app, affords users the time to trust your brand and become more comfortable before you ask for permission to stay in touch. Choose to delay the push request in order to increase opt-in rates. It’s also important to provide step-by-step instructions on how they can opt in to notifications on their phone, as it’s not always clear for users.|
|Leverage other channels to help convey why it is beneficial for users to opt in to push messaging. For instance, an email marketing campaign could emphasize how users who opt in to push will receive exclusive access to content, sales, promotions or coupons.The website is another major channel: large retailers, hotel chains, and any corporation with a significant amount of traffic flowing into their websites and information portals can change their homepage hero image to drive users to their apps and increase user adoption of push messaging.|
|4.||Customize the Messaging|
|By using a service like Rich Push, users will be greeted with a much richer and more engaging message than with standard text-only push notifications. Rich Push is a way to communicate more information to the user, displaying HTML, video, audio and maps delivered to the app’s in-box. Users can receive an entertaining and engaging experience, and companies can communicate a message that is completely consistent with their brand. (For example, check out what President Obama did with Rich Push.)|
Optimizing your push messaging opt-in rate is a crucial step to driving user engagement. These seemingly small tweaks can stack up to a surprising surge in push notification opt-ins. As long as you remain transparent, promote the benefits of opting in, and customize your opt-in form and messaging, you will continue to build the trust of users, which will be reflected in increased response rates and user engagement. Stay ahead of your competition by making full use of push messaging.
Elizabeth Robillard (@ekrobi on Twitter) is Director of Agency Programs at Urban Airship, which helps brands build relationships with their always-connected customers through services that streamline delivering highly targeted, cross-platform mobile push messages and Apple Passbook passes.
Hot off a $5M funding round, and named one of CIX’s Top 20 companies, it has been a busy first year for boutique men’s fashion retailer Frank & Oak. In keeping with their commitment to innovation, the Montreal-based startup turned to Xtreme Labs for the necessary expertise to build their mobile app.
The app carries the complete Frank & Oak inventory of clothing, accessories, and gift cards. Users can browse, add items to their wishlist, and purchase with the touch of a button. The app also has social sharing built-in: Frank & Oak members get a credit for each of their friends who signs up for a membership and makes a purchase.
The Frank & Oak mobile app is designed with function first. We know mobile users shop very differently than desktop users do, so we paid extra attention when building the Frank & Oak mobile shopping experience.
We optimized user flow in order to minimize load times; for example, we leveraged the power of shortcuts, such as a simple Confirm Crate button that minimizes clicks and doesn’t require users to re-enter their payment information while they’re on the go. The Frank & Oak app even syncs with users’ accounts so they can add to orders from their desktops or other devices.
The loading spinner of Frank & Oak’s “double dog” logo is another unique feature which provides a custom touch to go with the brand’s custom shopping experience.
Mobile apps make school campuses more accessible, convenient and student friendly.
Xtreme Labs recently partnered up with the Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning and combined our XLmagic platform with native iOS and Android elements to create our first hybrid app. SheridanMobile is designed to connect the community of Sheridan’s students, faculty, staff and campus visitors and leverage a commitment to the ‘Internet of Things’.
This collaborative effort included Students, Faculty, Staff , Alumni and Sheridan’s programmers working with Xtreme Labs’ developers, through paired programming, to build this product. The partnership helped Sheridan enhance their expertise and credibility in mobile app development, and gave its students the experience to build other mobile apps in future.
Xtreme Labs worked with Sheridan to build two of SheridanMobile’s main functions: the Javacam and Location Service features.
The Javacam shows live-updated lines at each coffee shop on campus, and what the estimated wait times are. This helps students select between different coffee locations at peak hours, and also evens out the pressure on coffee shop staff.
The Location Service feature includes detailed blueprints of every building on each Sheridan campus – there are over 20 different buildings across the three campuses – which makes the first day of new classes easier for everyone. It also uses the mobile device’s built-in compass to activate the “Where am I” feature, which can pinpoint a user’s current location on a map and indicate walking directions and other navigation help.
The SheridanMobile app also includes access to the presidents’ blog and the news feed. Because SheridanMobile was built using XLmagic, it is expandable: features can be added using portlets.