Android

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July 28, 2015

SMS Messaging: Conversation Before Apps

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Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art? For a GUI (Graphic User Interface) designer, that question is becoming more relevant as the nature of the mobile user influences app development—perhaps towards a post app world? 

That’s a scary thought for a GUI designer, or a developer who unintentionally overlooked the simple truth that text messaging is far and away the most commonly used feature on a smartphone. Almost 97% of all smartphones users engage in text messaging; this familiarity creates incredible potential for a new generation of text-based application that can solve any problem an app can solve, through a more convenient interface: the text screen. 

 

Text-Based Apps Are Nothing New

The above, however, is not a new revelation. In fact, some apps controlled exclusively via text or SMS messaging already exist. Magic, for example, can help you reserve a table, check a bank account, or buy a car, all via text between a user and a concierge (an actual human being) who assists with these requests. WeChat is another app that uses text to bypass traditional apps altogether—effectively creating a universal portal to all things mobile.

According to a recent study by Pew Research Center, across all age groups in the US, text messaging is the most popular feature used on a smartphone. In this way, life is beginning to challenge the artist; while app designers may have intended to make our lives easier by developing apps to meet out every need, at the end of the day, people are universally more comfortable texting—having a virtual conversation to get at what they want. 

There are some people, like Matt Galligan, co-founder of the news aggregation app Circa, that believe we’re headed towards an overhaul of basic software and design. Galligan feels that something called “MessageKit” will be Apple’s catchall for apps located in iMessage. Instead of opening different apps with different design characteristics and UI controls, all the apps would perform their same functions but via text command or queries inside a fluid conversation.  

Apple’s new iOS 9 has already made some considerable shifts in its latest version, one of which is prioritizing app content for Internet search queries made via mobile. While there’s nothing like “MessageKit” available quite yet, it’s an interesting theory that attempts to recognize the user’s reality in a predominantly designer-shaped mobile world. 

One foreseeable drawback is that our familiarity with texting may causes people to use these services at inappropriate times. For example, texting while driving is already a major concern in densely populated areas. Additional text-based services may further encourage our desire for instant access, even behind the wheel.  

It’s ironic that an entire generation gets labeled as ‘less socially communicative’ because it’s always on smartphones, and yet, somehow, that same generation may bring society back full circle, where the digital dialect of texting is used to reinsert what was missing from our mobile lives: conversation. 

 

 

July 27, 2015

Truecaller is Making Android SMS Messaging Smarter

 

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It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to draw a parallel between email and SMS messaging on a mobile device. Both collect messages from familiar and unfamiliar sources, gather spam, and offer instantaneous communication with countless people from around the world. 

At least, that’s what Truecaller noticed when it decided to launch Truemessenger, an alternative SMS messenger app for Android. The Swedish-based company recently raised $80 million in funding to further perfect this new line of communication powered by Google Inc.

 

New But Familiar Design

By connecting the proverbial dots, Truecaller is introducing a familiar system to the SMS world of communication. We’re all accustomed to filtering our emails, assigning spam when necessary and prioritizing mail in personal categories; now, Android users can operate their SMS inboxes the exact same way, making it easier to avoid unwanted spam, by verifying the identity of those who send messages. Customizable spam filters are another unique feature, as they allow inboxes to remain free of clutter and help streamline the experience for users.  

But that’s not all; what makes the app ‘smarter’ is the integration of familiar social aspects with the user’s interface. The app draws photos and nicknames from popular social media sites and adds them to contacts when they message you. The app also allows users to customize color themes. What’s more, the Swedish EDM artist Avicii created a custom ringtone for the app, as a ‘friendly favor’ to the company. 

Alan Mamedi, co-founder of True Software doesn’t believe we’ve seen the end of SMS messaging though. In fact, he believes some markets like the US and India have a long future of SMS usage ahead.

“The volumes are still huge, and no-one is tackling the problems,” he explained.

Currently, 15% of all SMS messages are reported as spam—this amounts to almost 1.3 billion unwanted messages every year.

By focusing on the user’s experience, Mamedi hopes that solving some of the basic communication problems with SMS will keep it viable in the future. 

 

SMS Competition 

But what about the competition? Unlike most app founders, Mamedi believes the company is headed in the right direction because a number of larger corporations have taken notice of the work it’s already accomplished with Truecaller and now Truemessenger. Companies like Facebook were so inspired by the company’s work that they created their own caller ID app earlier this year. Since Facebook’s Hello and similar apps have launched, Truemessenger has actually received more users by proxy. 

Currently, the app is only available in India and for Android users in the Google Play Store. Google’s operating system allows for third party SMS/messaging apps, whereas Apple’s iOS platform doesn’t—yet. 

The good news is that SMS messaging is wising up to problems faced by its users, as advertising becomes more sophisticated and deliverable on mobile devices. How long will ‘smarter’ be ‘smart enough’? We’ll all just have to wait and see. 

 

July 20, 2015

Android Leads the U.S. Market but Trails in Europe

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According to a recent report by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, the Android OS increased its market share by 2.8% at the end of a three month period; leading the US with an overall market share of 64.9%. The first full month of sales for Samsung’s latest Galaxy device propelled the company forward year-over-year in the US. However, the same did not hold true for the EU market, where sales have slowed throughout the big five: Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain and Italy. 

According to the report, iOS users in the US began to drop off as the shares declined period-over-period and year-over-year. Meanwhile, in Europe, the demand for the iPhone 6 has been steadfast, with the latest model reaching unprecedented success in Great Britain, Germany and France. 

Android-based smartphones received assisted growth from LG, which nearly doubled its US shares year-over-year. This was not the case in Europe. Android vendors in Europe had to count on winning new users away from apple—which has seen little success. Ending in May, only 5% of new Android users switched from apple; down from 11% percent during the same period the year before. 

The Galaxy S6 has been reported as the third best-selling device in the US, just behind the iPhone 6 and its Samsung predecessor the Galaxy S5. Samsung’s year-over-year success is up as well, down only .5% compared to 1.6% in three months ending in April.

Other foreign markets are shifting as the smartphone wars wage on. Urban China, for example, has introduced a third contender to a once two-pronged industry. Currently apple leads in China, followed by Huawei and third competitor Xiaomi. The three are all within half a percentage point share of each other, though considerable differences in niche markets may explain the spread. 

In China, Apple’s sales continually come from high-income users and throughout the most prominent cities: Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Close to 7% of apple’s total sales in China are from these affluent areas, while Xiaomi only captures 2% of this same market.  

In urban China, Huawei became the best-selling Android device brand. Thirty-nine percent of Huawei’s sales come from users with a monthly income of less than 2,000 RMBs.  

With several markets developing new infrastructure, the likeliness of new users is on the horizon in several underdeveloped countries. With Apple prices comparatively high, it’s left considerable room for competitors to come in and offer less expensive alternatives. 

July 12, 2015

Android Leads the U.S. Market but Trails in Europe

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According to a recent report by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, the Android OS increased its market share by 2.8% at the end of a three month period; leading the US with an overall market share of 64.9%. The first full month of sales for Samsung’s latest Galaxy device propelled the company forward year-over-year in the US. However, the same did not hold true for the EU market, where sales have slowed throughout the big five: Germany, Great Britain, France, Spain and Italy. 

According to the report, iOS users in the US began to drop off as the shares declined period-over-period and year-over-year. Meanwhile, in Europe, the demand for the iPhone 6 has been steadfast, with the latest model reaching unprecedented success in Great Britain, Germany and France.  

Android-based smartphones received assisted growth from LG, which nearly doubled its US shares year-over-year. This was not the case in Europe. Android vendors in Europe had to count on winning new users away from apple—which has seen little success. Ending in May, only 5% of new Android users switched from apple; down from 11% percent during the same period the year before. 

The Galaxy S6 has been reported as the third best-selling device in the US, just behind the iPhone 6 and its Samsung predecessor the Galaxy S5. Samsung’s year-over-year success is up as well, down only .5% compared to 1.6% in three months ending in April.

Other foreign markets are shifting as the smartphone wars wage on. Urban China, for example, has introduced a third contender to a once two-pronged industry. Currently apple leads in China, followed by Huawei and third competitor Xiaomi. The three are all within half a percentage point share of each other, though considerable differences in niche markets may explain the spread.  

In China, apple’s sales continually come from high-income users and throughout the most prominent cities: Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Close to 7% of apple’s total sales in China are from these affluent areas, while Xiaomi only captures 2% of this same market. 

In urban China, Huawei became the best-selling Android device brand. Thirty-nine percent of Huawei’s sales come from users with a monthly income of less than 2,000 RMBs. 

With several markets developing new infrastructure, the likeliness of new users is on the horizon in several underdeveloped countries. With Apple prices comparatively high, it’s left considerable room for competitors to come in and offer less expensive alternatives.  

June 16, 2015

How SMS can Save Summer

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As the weather starts to heat up, annual summer vacations enjoy a revival. Airplane travel has become a popular and affordable way to travel these days, yet it has taken forever for the air travel industry to catch up with the mobile revolution. In fact, while travel and hospitality seem to lead innovation regarding user experience depicted through mobile, air transportation has done little in the way of making flights more mobile friendly.

And it doesn’t stop there. There are several ways to improve a summer traveler’s experiences with the help of mobile. Here’s a list of improvements every vacation could benefit from.

 

Mobile Ticket Purchase

According to Text Marketer, one in five international vacations were booked via mobile device. Travelers love great deals, so when there’s an extra passenger seat available at a discount, communicating those savings to loyal customers can be a great benefit. Frost and Sullivan report that consumers are 98% more likely to respond to a SMS message compared to regular emails. Using mobile to showcase great deals is a win-win situation.

 

Mobile Check-in 

One of the most common complaints about air travel is a long check-in line. Instead of numerous lines for check-in, offering a mobile responsive check-in service provide allow passengers ease of mind while they make their way through security and to their final boarding gate. It’s one less step that could make a huge impact on a customer’s flying experience.

 

Retail Opportunities

When travelers are stuck with a long layover or change in flight schedule, nothing beats duty-free shopping. Retail locations in airports have become incredibly lucrative for a variety of vendors. SMS marketing coupons are 10 times more likely to be redeemed than mail or newspaper ads. Using beacon technology to offer special discounts or special offers is a great way to use mobile effectively.

 

In Flight Upgrades

Some aircrafts currently offer WiFi access for a small fee, but many planes have yet to be fully upgraded. While placing phone calls or texting may be unsafe, even in the future, it would seem that offering Wi-Fi access during all flights could make a customer’s flight much more productive and enjoyable.

 

Mobile Accommodations

In addition to improving mobile for air travel, hotel accommodations are jumping on the wagon. Hilton hotels recently announced a smartphone check-in service to debut sometime in 2016. The app will allow guests to search and purchase a room via mobile. The mobile device also acts as a room key and can quickly connect with hotel staff or services via text message.

There are several ways to save summer with unique mobile initiatives that will ultimately benefit both the traveler and companies alike. 

 

June 10, 2015

SMS is Preferable to Messaging Apps, Says Survey

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Sure, numerous messaging apps have cropped up in recent years, with the Facebook Messaging app being the most popular. Yet despite the rise in messaging apps, many prefer the classic text message option. According to a new survey conducted by RingCentral, most prefer SMS to messaging apps, and 80 percent of the 509 people surveyed said they used texting for business. RingCentral is a cloud-based communications system for SMBs with “desktop and mobile apps, SMS capabilities and a variety of additional features.” 

Most survey participants were between the ages of 25 and 34. Some 48 percent of respondents have one or two messaging apps on their phones, with 30 percent having three or four. This isn’t exactly shocking, as most don’t want their phones cluttered with a bunch of messaging apps they don’t use. Several (41 percent) used two messaging apps regularly, though 36 percent of people surveyed said they didn’t feel overwhelmed by using more than one method for checking their messages every day.  

As far as the actual messaging apps go, Facebook is the favorite, followed by WhatsApp and Snapchat.  

The survey also looked at how many texts participants sent and received per day, how long they go without responding to a text, and why they preferred text messages to IM. Most said they send and receive between one and 20 messages every day, respond to messages two to 11 minutes after receiving them, and prefer traditional texting because it’s the simpler, easier, faster option. About 72 percent of participants clearly favored texting. 

Arguably more direct, traditional texting is much less difficult to ignore or miss than messaging apps. And while 80 percent of survey participants said they used texting for business, email is still widely considered the more professional option. Conducting business over IM is perceived as too casual and personal.  

“This employee feedback in our survey suggests the dire needs for companies to adopt the right business communication tools, policies and procedures to empower texting, calling, messaging, and online meetings—through more efficient communication platforms—at work,” RingCentral’s Carolyn Shmunis wrote on the company blog. “As new communication preferences emerge, employees and employers must devise a system that prevents communication overload, while enabling efficient communication both internally and externally. Preparing employees with the right tools to call, text or message one another should remain a top priority to help workplace productivity and efficiency.” 

Shmunis also noted that the survey takeaway is very clear: Texting may be the preferred option to IM, however it’s still important for businesses to “be better well-equipped to communicate with all modes of communication effectively.” 

 

May 21, 2015

Global Smartphone Sales of $96bn in 2015 Q1

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Recently released figures suggest 2015 will be a record-breaking year for the smartphone. According to market research company GfK, global sales hit $96 billion in Q1 - an 8% year-on-year increase.  

The market has never witnessed such a successful quarter. The number of units sold went up by 7%, to 309.7 million (from 290.1 million in the first quarter of 2014). The lion’s share of that growth comes from Middle Eastern and African markets, but strong growth in North America continues to drive revenues. 

Outside the USA, there has been a slowing of growth in other mature markets such as China and Japan - though analysts predict this is a temporary hiccup rather than a new trend. As more consumers make the transition from 3G to 4G, developed Asian markets are expected to fuel a resurgence in regional sales. 

Much of the ground made can be attributed to a combination of 4G and large-screen adoption, but low-end smartphones have also experienced an upsurge, increasing their market share from 52% in the previous quarter, to 56% in Q1 of 2015. Mid-range devices remained stable and price erosion in emerging markets has seen high-end models (retailing at $500+) take a tumble.

What are we to make of these figures? According to GfK, global smartphone demand is predicted to grow by at least 10% year-on-year for the remainder of 2015. Asia - and in particular India and Indonesia - is forecast to be the primary growth area, as the economies are strong but smartphone penetration is still relatively low.

May 15, 2015

Is Your Website Primed for Mobile Users?

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At the end of last month, Google updated their algorithms to reward mobile-friendly sites. 

“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal,” the company wrote on its Webmaster Central Blog back in February. “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” 

The substantial change in how the search engine giant rank websites means it’s essential that your website, blog, and landing pages are completely optimized for mobile.  

Are you ready for this historic change? Let’s look at what you need to do if you haven’t already: 

 

Test Your Website 

Google has provided website owners with a free tool that lets them know what they need to do to ensure they’re prepared for the new mobile search algorithm. Simply run the tool on your site to obtain a speedy assessment of whether your mobile rank is good enough for the change. If your site is fully optimized, you’ll receive a success message saying “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly” or something similar. You’ll also receive a visual of how Google sees your site. 

If your website is less-than-mobile-friendly, you’ll receive a notification that reads, “Not mobile-friendly” complete with a list of why not. Typical reasons include “text too small to read,” “links too close together,” and “mobile viewpoint not set.” You’ll also be notified as to how Google sees the page and what you can do to change it. 

 

Select Your Approach

Google recognizes three different “mobile-friendly” configurations so you may move content as needed. The first is responsive design, also Google’s number-one recommended design pattern. Responsive design never creates two copies of the same site, meaning viewers have only one go-to URL, and the website adapts to whatever device it’s on, whether tablet, smartphone...you get the idea. 

Dynamic serving and mobile websites round out the list, with the former allowing you to again keep the same URL. The difference is the change in HTML, as dynamic serving utilizes user-agents to determine what device the consumer is using and sets up the appropriate view.  

The mobile website option refers to creation of a separate mobile website, however it means creating and maintaining two different versions of content. Responsive design is considered the best option because website viewers, Google, marketers, and website owners are all big, big fans. 

 

Wrap-Up

Google has also created a list of common mistakes in addition to its mobile-optimization tool so you may correct whatever’s wrong with your site, if applicable. If your site isn’t optimized, don’t panic--you can still rebuild your search credit. However, the sooner you implement changes, the better. 

 

April 21, 2015

90% of Mobile Marketing Revenue Comes from SMS

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It is increasingly apparent that the SMS segment of the global mobile advertising market is very dominant due to the rapid surge in smartphone and tablet use around the world. Some 90 percent of adults in the U.S. use mobile phones, 60 percent of which are smartphones.  The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) believes that soon smartphone use in the U.S. will rise to 80 percent. 

“With consumers carrying mobile devices wherever they go, it has become crucial for marketers to target this large consumer base with mobile advertisements and promotions,” according to Transparency Market Research (TMR). “A mobile advertising platform firm provides services to marketers that allow them to send these advertisements to consumers using mobile devices. Each distinct mobile advertising platform contains opportunities for marketers to deliver their message to a broad range of consumers.” 

SMS is subsequently a “big deal,” as mobile advertising services are easily sent out via text message. Mobile advertising is also being used to place banner ads on smartphone apps, which appear either at the top of the app (mobile web banner) or at the bottom of the app (mobile web poster). One of the many advantages of SMS is it allows users to view and send short messages without worrying about privacy issues or seriously interrupting the receiver’s day. It’s therefore not shocking to note that SMS accounts for 90 percent of total mobile marketing revenue. Simply put, it's the most cost-effective of all mobile marketing tactics.

In addition to SMS, multimedia messaging services, aka MMS, are experiencing an increase in popularity. Other services gaining momentum include full-screen interstitials, mobile videos, and mobile games. 

Transparency Market Research believes the next few years will see advertisers in the global mobile ad marketing space focus increasingly on performance. An increase in ROI spending will likely occur, as will the quantifiable results that follow. Preference for location-based advertising is also growing, and will only get bigger and better in the future. Such advertising makes it possible for advertisers to target specific portions of their target demographic, therefore dramatically enhancing mobile ad effectiveness.  

Unlike traditional phone calls, “spammy” emails, and the days of going door to door, SMS is a safe and effective means of catering to target audiences. Most read text messages as soon as they come through compared to the hours that pass before reading an email or the disgruntled consumers on the other end of a marketing phone call. In addition to its effectiveness, SMS messaging is a low-cost marketing option. No wonder it makes up 90 percent of mobile marketing revenue….

 

April 20, 2015

Here's Why Your Web Development Should Start with Mobile

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Responsible design goes way beyond pixel measurements and assorted limitations, as it’s about deciphering the behaviors and preferences of a target audience, and meeting their needs, whether through smartphones, tablets, or websites.  

Consumer habits and expectations change depending on the device they’re using, meaning content and information must be displayed in the right way. The best option for learning about a target demographic and testing their “commitment to proper responsive build” is starting with a “mobile-first” approach. And while mobile may be the smallest of frequently-used platforms, it is still the favorite. Let’s take a deeper look at starting web development with mobile: 

 

Content 

When developing a brand, quality content is key. However, working through large blocks of copy and trying to find the important points gets tough, making it essential to ask the following question: What is the point I’m trying to make? Once the key theme is identified, it’s time to cut out “filler” content so the resulting post easily fits on a mobile device screen. This not only looks much better, but also makes it more readable for consumers. 

The other benefit to resizing content for mobile screens is once you’ve made the post fit, sizing it for tablets and the like is quite simple. 

 

Form and Function

Yes, you’re working with a smaller screen when crafting content for mobile, but that doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be anything short of engaging. Think form followed by function, and go for attention-grabbing headers and titles, visually-stunning telegraphic iconography, concise messaging, and quick yet memorable, meaningful takeaways. Create phone, tablet, and desktop “experiences” that takes user mindset into account—again, begin with mobile and go from there.

 

A Prime Example

A common request marketing agencies receive from clients is creating a product gallery. In terms of mobile, the gallery must be easy to swipe through so one product per swipe is featured with minimal copy. This results in a more intimate browsing experience. Image pairings are possible for tablets and desktops, or showcasing the entire product page. 

 

Wrap-Up 

Don’t think of mobile as far better than the other options, as each offers its own benefits. Rather, view them as complimentary. On mobile, for example, it’s easy to focus on a given element, while desktops make it possible to display an entire product line and emphasize that the brand meets the needs of a whole range of customers. It’s also possible to group products “visually, physically, or factually” in light of varying market approaches. 

The ability to solve the same issue on different devices is one that cannot be discussed enough, as it makes the ability to change content according to platform easier in the future. It also helps significantly in terms of prioritizing per device, and creating responsive designs.