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Telstra Treats: A Localised, Geo-Targeted Mobile Reward App

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Telstra is launching a localised mobile reward app that offers local customers more discounts and deals based on their own personal preferences.

The app, called Telstra Treats, has been developed by Vivant and was soft launched in Sydney’s CBD this month. Soon, Telstra will bring the app to small businesses in the local area and offer more rewards. The offered ‘treats’ ranges from a free cup of coffee at your local cafe to designer clothing from a retailer in your area.

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The company claims that the app will be “an exciting new app that sends you special offers based on your location and interests. Telstra Treats offers special, ‘just-for-you’ treats based on what you tell us you like and where you are.” Basically, users tell the app about their personal data, including their age, gender, how much they like eating out, shopping and going out. Telstra serves adds for discounts that match in the local area.

The treats are available for all Telstra customers with a number of discounts, rewards and offers for local restaurants, cafes and shops within a limited time. The offers and deals each user receives will be customised based on how they respond and interact with the app. Current offers include deals on haircuts, group meal discounts, free coffee and dessert. It also offers time limited deals on discounted Telstra contracts and handsets as well.

The offers are targeted by location, so users will receive push notifications for nearby offers. The app features a map to help customers searching around for the deals to redeem. A Telstra spokesperson confirmed that the trial is in a “soft launch” phase and that it would be gathering feedback from both customers and small businesses involved before making any moves to roll it out beyond the Sydney CBD.

Secret App Launched Two New Features, Making It Easier For Users To View Popular Posts

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Secret, an anonymous message-sharing app, may be all about hiding your identity. However, the app just added two new additional features that makes it easier to view popular secrets and posts shared by your friends.

The first feature is a Facebook login option to both iOS and Android apps and the second one is called Collections, which are curated streams of popular secrets about specific topics.

The Facebook login option will allow users to see more secrets from their friends while remaining completely anonymous. Previously, the app relied only on people stored in your device’s contacts list to find friends.

“Our community members want more friend content in their stream, beyond simply the contacts from their phone. Facebook login gives any user the option to (completely anonymously) connect Secret to Facebook and populate your stream with Facebook friends.”

Beside the Facebook login option, Secret is also escalating its web presence with Collections, a web-based “album” that include a kind of “best of” stream of secrets collected around specific topics such as dating, loss or work. Users can view their collections on Secret’s website or subscribe to individual topics to see collections surfaced in the Explore stream within the app.

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Moreover, Secret also announced it closed a new $25 million round of funding with investments from Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures and others.

Facebook Slingshot: Is This The New Challenger for Snapchat?

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Finally, Facebook introduced its latest app called Slingshot. While the app is focused its services on trading photos and videos, social media virtuoso often billed it as the next “Snapchat killer”.

Slingshot is available on iOS and Android. The app is created by Facebook Creative Labs and it will be expected to join on the photo and video sharing media battlefield soon.

The app’s mechanism itself is quite unique, where users need to reply with a photo or video in order to see a photo or video sent to them by a friend. The photos or videos sent can have text added either right over the image or as a caption. Plus, just like Snapchat, you can also draw doodles on the images. However, the drawing feature has a nice touch and much better than most color and pen width selectors in other apps. There’s even music that plays while your drawing on photos.

The app is simple and full of small gizmos. When a photo is sent, it shrinks down to the bottom center of the screen and launches off the screen like a tiny rocket. The interface is relatively easy and simple enough to follow. It looks like the developer of the app struggle hard to fulfill the app’s tagline: “An app where everyone is a creator and no one is a spectator.”

Overall, Slingshot is not a “100% original idea”. While it borrows many features from other well known apps like Vine (videos loop), Instagram (the videos can be up to 15 seconds long), and disappearing images like Snapchat, it promises a fun experience shared as well.

Still, the app is facing a big challenge with the previous “Snapchat killer-wannabe”, Poke, has sunk into eternal slumber along with Facebook’s Camera app. Slingshot must get a lot of engagement, otherwise it will face the same fate as its aforementioned predecessors.

Facebook Has Removed Poke From App Store

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Facebook has quietly removed their Poke, an app that was initially created to compete directly with Snapchat, from the App Store.

Facebook’s Poke app was launched in December 2012 and much like Snapchat allowed users to send short 10 second images that disappear. Sadly, the service never gained considerable traction despite Facebook’s best efforts.

Facebook also did put in an offer to purchase Snapchat for US$ 3 billion, which was turned down. For those who are not aware, Poke app is totally separate to ‘the Facebook Poke’, which lets you send a poke/ alert to your friends on Facebook.

This feature has been with the site since creation in 2004, and due to the legacy Facebook is happy to leave it on this site, although not easy to find.

CTRs for Android and iOS Ads Have Increased, Opening More Opportunity to Newcomers

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Recently, the CTRs (Click-Through Rates) for mobile ads on iOS devices have reached a new level. The increasing is five times than last year. Meanwhile, the CTRs for Android were nearly three times higher.

Latest report from Fiksu revealed that 7.1 million iOS apps were downloaded daily in March, up 41 percent from a year ago. Fiksu stated that programmatic solutions, better targeting and various ad formats (app install, video ads, and mobile-specific ads) have helped to keep marketing costs manageable even as activity has increased.

The cost per installment that could be directly attributed to advertising for iOS apps has raised up just 2 percent from February to $0.97 in March. On Android, the cost per installment fell 16 percent from February. Here is the detailed report from Fiksu:

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On the other hand, the cost per app launch (the indicator of customer engagement and lifetime value) was cheaper on both Android and iOS in March. The cost per launch on Android fell 5 percent from February to $0.10, a drop of 37 percent from the previous year. On iOS the cost fell 10 percent to $0.17, a slight increase of 2 percent year-over-year.

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Fiksu stated that the impact from app giants like Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo (and soon Google) have had on the market with the introduction of ad formats designed specifically for app marketers. With better resources, “marketers are getting smarter about leveraging the right ad formats, ad creatives and targeting tools to reach the right users. Otherwise, without these optimisation and targeting capabilities, the CPLU Index would have likely seen an increase of 20 percent year-over-year,” the report concludes.

The New, Updated Look of Yahoo Mail

Yahoo Mail

Yahoo has revamped its email interface to resemble its Homepage

Since the assignation of Marissa Mayer as a CEO in 2012, the company has focused its attention to a “comprehensive mobile support”. It can be seen on the series of mobile-focused startups and redesigning its own mobile offerings.

Recently, Yahoo Mail is getting this “mobile-friendly” makeover. The service now features content from Yahoo’s news, finance and sports and weather sections.  Unlike Gmail, Yahoo hasn’t altered any of the mail app’s core features with the update. In fact, the email itself looks pretty much the same, with the new additions of news, weather, sports and finance.

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When launching the updated email app, a new menu bar appears at the bottom with “News” and “Today” tabs. News takes you to a stream of news stories that suited to your interests, while Today provides weather, sports and stock market updates. The app’s content personalisation is quite similar to Yahoo’s homepage. However, in order to keep its “freedom of choice” promised earlier, this new experience is optional. Users can simply opt out if they don’t want to see the News and Today tabs.

As of now, the updated app will only available for iPhone users, but Yahoo hinted that tablet and Android versions may be in the works.

Get The Perfect Photos with Look Birdy App (Video)

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This app is the perfect companion for your selfie stick.

Generally, kids are having a hard time when asked to focus on one particular thing.  This is quite normal, as most of them have short attention span. Often, they will not look at the camera when their parents snap a pic, making the photo less interesting.

Introducing Look Birdy, an iPhone app that attracts children’s attention by using bird sounds and your cameras flash. Forget the old days when you have to attract your kids in a humiliating way just to take their pics. Here is how it works:

This is a creative app indeed. The best thing is, it works for your pets too!

Microsoft Has Released Its Office for iPad as a Free Download

Microsoft has released their Microsoft Office set for the Apple iPad. Microsoft Office For iPad is free to download. With this app, users can view documents and give presentations just like what they can do on a PC. If you want to create a new document or edit existing files, you will need to sign-in with your Microsoft account and have a current Office 365 subscription.

Here is the promotional video of Office for iPad:

The Inside Story of Facebook Paper

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It’s not Facebook. It’s Paper. Is this the next blunder from Facebook?

Facebook Paper is gaining a lot of buzz. It takes nearly 30 months to build the app, which is quite long for Facebook’s standard. When Paper was rolled out, many users were surprised by its design, which is image-heavy. It looks next to nothing like the Facebook app.

While not unexpected, Paper was still uncommon. Facebook has built other standalone apps over ten years, including one app you’ve probably never heard of (like Facebook Pages Manager), and another Facebook hopes you never will (Poke, anyone?).

What about Paper?

Though it seemed like a hit at its launching, Paper has dropped on the App Store charts. Many users are still trying to grasp where Paper fits in with their social media use. By making Paper a standalone app, Facebook is making a big bet that users will find it useful, despite similar competitor apps already available. However, Facebook sees the app differently than most of us do. It’s not supposed to be a newspaper. It’s a printing press.

It’s Not About The News

Paper has been widely labeled as a news reader app by the media, yet that’s not actually how Facebook intended it.

On Paper, users can flip between multiple categories that they choose to follow, like tech or sports or food. One of these sections is the news feed, and users can post to their Facebook profile from within the app.

“It was the publishing aspect that the Paper team intended to build out” says Paper Product Manager Michael Reckhow. “Paper wasn’t just built for consuming. it was built to offer users better tools for sharing and creating their own content.”

The “news reader” functionality is unexpected for the Paper team, but it wasn’t a disappointment. They succeeded in creating something unexpected. On a basic level, publishers really need two things: an audience and tools to create and share their ideas. Facebook has always had the world’s greatest audience, now 1.2 billion and counting. The only one missing is a reliable publishing tool.

Paper users can see more clearly what their published product will look like on the news feed. It’s a more accurate and visual representation of what the user is creating. Unlike the traditional Facebook app, news feed on paper scrolls horizontally, not vertically. This radically different design was one of the main reasons Paper wasn’t simply built into the existing Facebook app. The changes were too drastic for the existing news feed infrastructure. Plus, changing news feed’s design without notice would have probably resulted in a mass panic by users.

Paper will continue to expand its features, and Facebook is already collecting data in order to personalise what the users see. It’s likely Paper will continue to add publishing tools, building an experience that aligns more closely with the way the creators envisioned the app. For online marketers, the strategy isn’t exactly typical for Facebook, but then again, this isn’t Facebook. It’s Paper.

Instagram Has Updated Its Faster and Responsive App For Android

The latest version of Instagram for Android has got a big redesign. Instagram claimed that the app is faster, more responsive and optimized for a wider variety of Android devices. With version 5.1, Instagram stated that it has cut the size of the app in half, while making the app faster. Profile page and newsfeed now load twice as quickly. The function buttons have also been rearranged to make the app easier to navigate.

Buttons for changing the camera’s in-app settings or editing photos will now appear in different places on the screen, depending on what size screen is being used. Here is the official statement from the company:

“We’ve worked to make sure that Instagram feels native and at home on any Android device. We’ve simplified our visuals throughout our app, making use of valuable screen space for small devices and feature phones and rearranging our design to keep buttons within easy reach as you navigate the app on a larger device.”

Unlike Instagram’s update to iOS before, the Android update did not include any additional tools. The iOS latest update added a slider to the app’s Lux tool, which increases a photo’s saturation, so users can adjust the level of color saturation they wish to apply to their images. However, Instagram said that the Lux tool would be “coming soon” to Android users.