Tag Archives: Android

Mobile App or Mobile Website?

Mobile devices demand more from developers and designers in terms of presenting content. The days of creating websites that operate solely on a desktop computer are over. Marketers now have to think about how content will look on a variety of devices, screens, and operating systems. As usual, there are multiple ways to accomplish this. Presently, the most popular include developing a mobile app, or a separate mobile website, or creating a responsive design website. Which one is right for you?

Native App

Although many are quick to jump at the idea of a mobile app, the first question should be if you need one at all. Think of any app you’ve downloaded. Most successful apps serve a purpose or solve an immediate need. If your app is to act solely as a replacement for your current website, it most likely will not be widely received.

A good measurement of apps that serve a purpose are those which require the smartphone to perform properly. A mobile app that uses a camera, GPS, scanning capabilities, storage, or user personalization will perform very well. Small purchase and commerce apps have also proved to be successful. On the other hand, native apps allow more customized design than is possible with either mobile apps or responsive websites.

A hefty advantage mobile apps have is that they work without Internet connection. Even those that require Internet for some functions, such as synchronizing to the cloud, are more than capable at operating on a device’s data and run faster than accessing a mobile website. This may explain why people spend more time and consume more information on mobile apps than on websites. Between being instantly available after initial download and much more welcoming to users to play within the mobile space, apps have earned their place in the market.

Mobile Website

A mobile website is a specialized satellite representing your main site. Conventional websites, when viewed on a smart device, are small, cramped, and hard to navigate. A dedicated, mobile website is redesigned for the smaller screen size and the different functions of a smart device. Information differing from that on the main website, and more appropriate for the mobile environment, can be displayed. The common practice of giving users a link to go to the full site allows any missed information to be received as needed.

Mobile websites are also a much more viable option for those with strong SEO strategies. Apps cannot be accessed by search engines and will not affect organic search results, where a mobile website is, at the end of the day, still a website and can be crawled by search engines.

Finally, regular websites are much easier to upload and edit than apps, because they do not have to go through the process of App Store approval. Each update or change must go through the approval process again, causing a cumbersome and lengthy wait for those who may need to update content on a regular basis.

Responsive Design

A responsive website has all of the characteristics of a mobile website, with one difference: your mobile and laptop websites are not separate. Responsive design allows your website to display the same content over any device, restructured to best fit the environment in which it’s displayed.

This often requires a website to be completely redesigned. However, the functions on your website must all translate well to a mobile environment. To fill out a form, it must be readable and editable on all screens, while an online shopping center must be easily navigable on any device. While this often costs more than a normal mobile website, it is still considerably cheaper than developing a complete app and more sustainable for the future.

So, which one?

To make the best decision, make sure you know how your customers are getting your content. Which devices and browsers they’re using, and how high conversions are from these connections are all aspects to be taken into consideration when embarking on this sort of project. After that, you can move on to what type of experience you want, be it an app, mobile website, or responsive website. You may opt for one, a blend of these options, or attempt all three. Ultimately, the choice rests on what makes the most sense for your goals. As with any business decision, be as educated as possible before the final decision. You’ll be grateful in the long run.

Author: Zack Smith

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Introducing Jelly Bean

Google just introduced its latest operating system, Jelly Bean. Here are some Jelly Bean highlights:

  • A fast, fluid feel to the graphics, making switching between screens a breeze
  • Easy to personalize by adding widgets to the screen or changing how notifications are handled
  • When you say “Google,” most people think “search”––Jelly Bean now searches not only with Google’s Knowledge Graph, but also allows you to search with your voice
  •  Google Now, which makes your device completely aware of its surroundings, listing restaurants around you, for example, as well as making suggestions from the menu
  •  Support for international users, including those using Arabic and Hebrew, which are both read from right to left

It will be available on the new Nexus 7 tablet.

Author: Susan Hallinan

Rules of Mobile Mayhem: Things to Remember as You Plan a Mobile Presence

I recently came across a video of poet and storyteller Rives presenting his poem “If I Controlled the Internet” at TEDSalon 2006.

My, how things have changed in 5 years. 2006 was pre-iPhone, back when the likes of RIM were still on top and Apple was clambering for market share while expanding its retail presence. With the recent news of RIM’s planned layoffs to “reshape” into a company better fitted to handle the upcoming release of new BlackBerry handhelds, changes in the marketplace over the last 5 years have muddied the waters for organizations hoping to market their products or services.

Utterly Orange has previously covered the difficulties associated with mobile marketing or application development due to the complicated marketplace, and there are some lessons to be learned. Consider these concepts as your plan your mobile presence:

#1 Innovation Wins
RIM is dying, slowly losing market share point by point, and it has no one else to blame but itself. It provided a functional product with marginal innovation. RIM geared its product toward business use, ignoring consumer-side impulses.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg, or in this case, the smartphone or the mobile functions? Mobile functions cover a broad range of features, from mobile applications to mobile-friendly websites to carrier-side, location-aware services that tie in with SMS. We know that the analysts and cell carriers planned the growth of the mobile market, and the proof was in the ramp up to the bigger and faster mobile data connections we sort of have today, but was it the smartphone or the pipes that came first? Answer: iPhone. Yeah, yeah. We hear you––the iPhone isn’t the answer to every question, but user understanding and subsequent adoption is a tremendously large part of the success of a new product. Add some level of innovation to the mix, and you have a recipe for massive growth––or at least it has looked that way over the last 5 years with the iPhone and iPad. Now both devices were and are not perfect by any means. Both have critical features that are still missing, and some design and user interface choices give the edge to some of their competitors.

Twitter and Foursquare had no competitors before each started as a tiny start-up. A creative idea coupled with a powerful, functional mobile device helped expand the adoption of both applications. Regardless, the bar was raised with the release of iOS and its intuitive features. Innovation won and keeps winning as judged by Android’s taking top seat as the leading mobile operating system.
Keep innovation in mind as you consider the right mix of mobile functions for your marketing (and communications) efforts. Providing something new or innovative captures attention and stands out from the tumultuous sea of marketing attempts that users deal with every day via multiple mediums.

#2 Do It Right
Google “failed mobile marketing.” You will find hundreds of examples from the blogosphere, media, and trade journals of failures in mobile marketing. From the ever present QR that points to a company’s non-mobile-friendly homepage to “follow us” with the bird and blue F slapped below all new advertising and marketing collateral, failed use of new mobile functions is prevalent.

Do it right, meaning hire the right people or look at the leaders and users of these mobile functions inside your organization to help you get oriented. None of these mobile functions are inherently complicated. Once you begin to hone your ideas, you may want to bring in stronger firepower, but leverage your resources––whether they be inside or outside––to get the key people up to speed on what constitutes the successful use of these powerful mobile features and avoid what could be an #epicfail.

The disadvantage of waiting to enter the mobile arena this late is that so many have already created mobile functions that are totally awesome. Users know what to expect and can sniff out amateur efforts quickly. Missing the mark on the execution of a mobile effort can spell long-term negative effects for your brand.

#3 Follow the Data
Good news: the Internet gives you a lot of data about your customers. A well-set up website can give you insight into how your customers interact with your existing web presence. Dive deep into the areas of your analytic platform that provide details on mobile traffic, network properties, and browser capabilities. For example, mobile traffic can give you an idea of the percentage of users who access your website via mobile browsers.

Additionally, use existing contact points to determine how existing users interact with your web presence. Ask them their preferences. Remember, users with mobile devices are looking for an intuitive, easy-to-use mobile function that makes their lives easier or simplifies an existing process that they complete with your organization. If you are considering developing a mobile app and can’t decide between iOS, Android, BlackBerry, or some flavor of Windows for smartphones, spend some time in your analytic platform and look at the device types used. Follow your data to make an innovative mobile function and do it right.

One more thing. Take a risk. Twitter was a risk, as was Foursquare, but the risk was taken and now they both are successful products. The overhead required to make a mobile function will vary dramatically, and the recession doesn’t help when scouring for some extra cash, but it’s still the Wild West in many ways. The risk could be wildly successful and bring your product or company to the forefront of the market.

What is your first step (or next step) in expanding your company’s mobile presence? Let us know your thoughts or questions via a comment and join the conversation.

Author: John Carew

Microsoft’s High Hopes for Windows 8

On June 1, Mike Angiulo, corporate VP of Windows Planning, stated that Windows 8 offers “huge opportunities for our hardware partners to innovate with new PC designs.” Innovation, on a PC running Windows? The Windows market has not seen any real innovation between hardware and software since Windows 98 in 1998. Other leaders in the personal computer market, specifically Apple, have provided innovative interaction between hardware and software with virtually every major new release. Microsoft’s Windows 8 venture presents a few interesting technical points that are worth considering:

Multi-Device Support
Windows 8 is expected to support touch-friendly interfaces flawlessly across tablets, desktops, and laptops. This is the first significant push by a software company to move a mobile OS to non-mobile hardware.

Supports Dual-Processing Architectures
According to Microsoft’s Angiulo, Windows 8 will support both x86- and ARM-based architectures.

Legacy Hardware Support
Based on the information presented on June 1, it appears that Windows 8 will be supported by legacy Windows 7 hardware. In addition, Windows 8 will already have many of the Windows 7 features baked in and back-supported.

CNET posed an interesting question: Did Windows Phone 7 have “the kind of consumer impact that warrants this elevation?” The article goes on to state that “Windows Phone 7 commands only 1 percent of the U.S. smartphone marketshare”––a measly number to be hedging a new OS release against.

A closing thought: Apple will launch iOS 5 at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week and release iOS 6 next year, just in time for the Windows 8 launch. Will the two new operating systems clash in a head-to-head death match, or will Microsoft’s newest stepchild cower, forlorn in a corner, while Android, Apple, and maybe even RIM or––gasp––HP steal the spotlight at the 2012 laptop/desktop/tablet/smartphone party?

 

Author: John Carew

Android Passes iOS as Leading Smartphone OS, Apple Still on Top of Manufacturers

April 2011 mobile device stats emphasize the power of the mobile market.

Millennial Media’s Mobile Mix report released this month underscores the breadth of mobile devices in the marketplace. Apple is still on top as a manufacturer, with more than double the impressions of second-ranked Samsung. The iPhone also ranks first in the list of top 20 mobile phones, with the BlackBerry Curve in a close second (with one quarter of the iPhone’s impressions). Among the other notables on the list are several products from the “quietly brilliant” HTC, including the best-selling HTC Evo. With more than 53% of the smartphone market, the Android operating system has surpassed iOS as of April 2011, with iOS a close second at 28%.

What does this mean for the market and for communications professionals trying to enable their messages to reach their audiences via these mobile devices? Think multi-platform if you wish to cover all your bases. Apple had a good run, and if history repeats itself, it will continue to innovate, but the iPhone 4 was not much of an improvement in the innovation category. The HP TouchPad has quickly shown how you can use your tablet and smartphone in perfect unison. When you add input method (touch screen, touch/QWERTY, QWERTY and keypad), the evidence is far stronger. Touch devices are here to stay, and application design and the devices’ forms will continue to evolve. Innovation will prompt customers to buy devices, but the unique, out-of-the-box methods of conveying information to others through these devices will strengthen their staying power. People choose to check Facebook, read books, check email, and share videos from their mobile devices because it’s easy. Developers make apps to meet consumers’ needs since the cost to develop and launch them to market is relatively low compared to that of other software models in the history of computing.

The competitive market for operating systems and device innovation will keep the market moving. The lack of market stability benefits both consumers and creative entrepreneurs around the world.

Check out the full Mobile Mix April 2011 report.

Author: John Carew

Google I/O Brings ­Market-Changing Potential

Google’s annual developer conference, dubbed “Google I/O,” was held inSan Franciscoon May 10 and 11. After two days of Google goodness, Google bestowed upon the market several potential game changers that should be on the radar of any tech-savvy person.

Android NFC, aka 0-Click

Near field communication (NFC) is coming to an Android device near you with the upcoming release of Google’s new operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich, and with it will come the ability to share contacts, websites, and applications (just to start) with other Android devices without a single click. (Check out this video of the Google NFC demos from the keynote address.)

Android + Lightbulbs = Android at Home (Translation: Amazing Home Automation)

Android’s new 900 Mghz home automation capabilities will let the user open the garage door, turn on the living room light, and control electric devices remotely––all from the power of his or her Android-powered handset.

Google Music (Beta)

This cloud-based music-streaming application basically works like a cloud version of your personal music library, but the lack of record label sign-on may limit the product’s initial success.

Chrome OS Laptop + Desktop

Samsung and Acer threw their hats into the ring on day 2 of the Google I/O keynote lovefest by introducing their Chrome OS–running laptops (the Samsung model will be available June 15!) and hinting at desktop versions to come. (Check out the hands-on from Wired for more details on the hardware.) If properly adopted in the right markets, the Samsung laptop will likely be a long-term contender. Google also clearly stated that Chrome is not planned as a tablet-based OS.

Change is good, especially in technology, where the Windows and Mac OS wars are getting old. With its new perspective on user interface and device design, Google just may push the market forward. Google may not win over market share and topple the big competition, but at least it’s pushing for market innovation.

Author: John Carew

The BlackBerry PlayBook: Strong Potential, Weak Execution

Here is what you need to know about the PlayBook:

Wi-Fi Only
The first version of the PlayBook will be Wi-Fi only, with a 3G/4G model coming to market “later this year.”

Email, Calendar Apps
Out of the box, the PlayBook will not support native email and calendar apps without using the email and calendar apps on your BlackBerry. The PlayBook uses an app called BlackBerry Bridge, which uses Bluetooth to connect the PlayBook to your BlackBerry, allowing you to access email and calendar apps as well as the Internet through your phone.

BlackBerry Bridge App
According to an update posted by Engadget on Tuesday, AT&T said it is “…working with RIM to make the BlackBerry Bridge app available for AT&T customers. We have just received the app for testing and before it’s made available to AT&T customers we want to ensure it delivers a quality experience for our customers.” Translation: It is not available for you to use immediately if you purchased a PlayBook and already have an AT&T BlackBerry.

Android App Compatibility
One of the strengths of the PlayBook was supposed to be the ability of its new QNX operating system to support Android apps. Support for Android apps will be available “later this year,” according to RIM.

Desktop Syncing
Compared to what BlackBerry owners are used to, there is no desktop-syncing function available at launch.

Author: John Carew