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Google plan to subsidise Android App Developers

Google Android App Developer Mobile Data Usage Subsidy

Google Android App Developer Mobile Data Usage Subsidy

Android Authority News reports that Google Corporation is in talks with some Android App Developers to subsidise mobile app data costs in the third world, to help promote mobile app usage in countries with high data costs.

Google may be on the verge of breaking into developing markets with their cheap Android One handsets, but there seems to be a problem stifling many smartphone users in those specific countries. According to data from McKinsey and the International Labour Organization, a Jana survey of 8,000 smartphone users found that data expenses were among one of the biggest reasons why users don’t download or use applications on their smartphones. Specifically, over 25% of respondents of the survey from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Egypt and the Philippines considered high data costs to be the biggest obstacle holding them back from using apps. Google’s Android One platform might offer low-cost devices to emerging markets, but that doesn’t help the high prices of data costs at all.

According to a new report from The Information, Google may be looking for ways to subsidize data costs so users can actually use their smartphones. Google engineers have reportedly been in talks with app developers in emerging markets to reduce or even completely eliminate mobile data costs using a practice called “zero rating.” Zero rating is nothing new in the mobile world. It’s basically a way for app developers, such as Facebook or WhatsApp, to strike deals between wireless carriers to subsidize data costs, which can then be promoted by both the app developers and the carriers involved.

So where does Google come in? According to “sources familiar with the matter,” Google has plans to pilot this initiative in India with notable services like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Redbus and even Ola Cabs, India’s version of Uber. These services tend to rack up much more data than users are allotted per month, so the developers are already willing to pay the high bandwidth costs to get more users connected with their services. These are obviously the first apps and services Google is targeting with their initiative – companies that already practice the subsidization of data – to bring more users online.

Acting as the middleman would allow app developers to not have to make these zero-rating arrangements with individual carriers.

Read More…

Data Usage – the hidden roadblock to mobile app uptake?

The fact that data costs are a major roadblock for app usage in the third world is something all Android App Developers and iPhone App Developers should consider when creating new apps, but it is not just third world mobile app users who have this problem. As developers we take our mobile apps seriously, they are a big part of our lives – so we often purchase top flight mobile plans with generous data allowances. It is easy to forget that not everyone has this kind of budget for their mobile data access – that many data access plans, particularly outside the USA, are expensive and restrictive.

Mobile data usage is also a serious issue for tourists visiting from overseas, some overseas roaming data plans charge $4 / Mb of data or more. In today’s data hungry world, this can easily lead to tourists inadvertently incurring hundreds of dollars of unwanted mobile data usage fees.

Some low end mobile plans, even in countries like Australia, and parts of Europe (in fact pretty nearly every country except America) can sometimes include tiny mobile data allowances, which are rapidly exhausted by normal mobile app usage – either forcing mobile app users to start consuming expensive excess data, or leading to mobile data access being switched off.

Even on a higher level mobile app data usage plans, I sometimes find myself switching off cellular data, to conserve bandwidth – Android mobiles and iPhone mobiles sometimes attempt to transfer ridiculous amounts of data over the mobile cellular network, particularly if mobile cloud services are active. Outside of the USA, ignoring cellular data access can be an expensive mistake.

Strategies for reducing mobile data usage

One of my clients recently suggested an innovative solution to this issue. Their iPhone App and Android App does not need immediate access to data, so the client requested that the mobile app be developed with the ability to pre-cache data – so that users could pre-load data via WIFI, to avoid large cellular network data transfers.

Altogether I think this issue should be taken as a real wakeup call – if you are designing a mobile app which potentially transfers significant amounts of data across the cellular network, it is well worth taking a little extra time to determine whether you can offer clients a way to minimise cellular traffic, either by offering an option to pre-load data via WIFI, or by offering a “minimal data” mode. Because for users in third world countries, sometimes even for users in first world countries, mobile data usage can be a real showstopper – it might make a real difference to the popularity of your mobile app in countries and scenarios, such as overseas roaming, where mobile data access is expensive.

Of course, you might be one of those lucky Android App Developers who received the offer from Google, to help subsidise use of your mobile app. Or this could become an option, if your Android App is popular, or attracts the attention of Google executives in some other way.

If you would like to discuss the mobile data usage of your mobile app idea, and strategies for minimising the impact of mobile data usage on mobile app users who might be constrained by an expensive cellular data plan, please contact me

Could a Mobile App Project be your key to Hollywood?

New Katy Perry Mobile App aims to replicate the success of the Kardashian App

New Katy Perry Mobile App aims to replicate the success of the Kardashian App

Katy Perry has commissioned the development of a new mobile game, from the same developers who created the “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” game.

According to Business Insider Australia;

The new game, which has yet to given an official title, will feature Perry’s voice and likeness and promises to “introduce players to a digital playground of global success and talent,” according to the press release.

“Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” was also a free-to-play game, but the game offered in-app purchases that allowed players to use real money to purchase additional playing time and virtual clothes with the game’s currency, “K-stars.”

The strategy worked well for Glu Mobile and Kardashian. “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” dominated the Apple App Store charts, peaking at the #1 overall spot and #4 in top-grossing apps. It raked in $US1.6 million in its first five days on the market, and has since been downloaded 22.8 million times, generating $US43 million in revenue from its June launch through the end of September.

Creating a mobile app is an obvious merchandising dimension for already famous hollywood stars, especially given spectacular successes like the multi-million dollar Kardashian mobile app. However, mobile apps often succeed without backing from famous people. But what about the reverse – could a successful mobile app help someone break into hollywood?.

Could a mobile app be your big break in a Hollywood acting career?

To some extent we’ve already seen at least one example of this – the blockbuster Angry Birds mobile app has spawned, among other things, its own cartoon franchise.

But imagine a game based on a copyrighted Sacha Baron Cohen character such as the dictator of the fictional nation of Wadiya. In principle the mobile app could help drive the rise in popularity of the character – just as Angry Birds spawned a cartoon franchise, so a successful mobile app could spawn demand for a movie franchise.

Crazy? Impossible? Well it has already happened – not with a mobile app (as far as I know), but with the blockbuster console game Halo. The game created demand for a movie – Halo: Helljumper, released in 2010.

The lesson is clear – if you want to be a Hollywood Star, consider creating a mobile app. The Katy Perry App will do well – but it is unlikely to be the same runaway success as the Kim Kardashian game. Why? Because the Kardashian game came first. There is a potential opportunity here – Contact Me if you want to be the person who seizes that opportunity.

What makes a mobile app go viral?

How to boost your mobile app download potential through viral marketing

How to boost your mobile app download potential through viral marketing

Everyone dreams of a little magic – instead of having to pay to promote your new newly developed mobile app, the word simply spreads. People tell their friends. Downloads spike, then keep climbing. Within a week, 100s of thousands, maybe even millions of people have downloaded your mobile app. Your Apple account balance soars – in a few weeks, you will be a millionaire.

What can you do to make this happen? There are two techniques I know of which help drive app promotion, because I have seen them work.

1. Facebook Mobile App Links

The first technique is Facebook App Links. Imagine if a user clicks a message in their Facebook news feed, and Facebook, I mean the Facebook App itself, recommends that a user install YOUR mobile app to view the Facebook message. This is an incredibly powerful technique for driving uptake. People trust that their Facebook mobile app is is on their side. If a trusted source like Facebook says “install another mobile app now”, a lot of users just do what they are told – and install the app.

An example of an app linked (or in this case a deep linked) Facebook App is RubyApp. RubyApp has an iPhone App component and a embedded Facebook web app component. You can use RubyApp to send a Facebook message. If someone clicks a RubyApp Facebook message in their Facebook news feed, Facebook prompts the user to install the iPhone App component.

2. A compelling promotional video

The second technique I have seen work is a compelling mobile app promotional video. One of the most compelling promotional videos I have been involved with is the Invisible Alert mobile app promotion video.

Watch the following:

If you watch the video, you will understand – the video simply demands that if you are a responsible parent, you will ensure your kids have a copy of the Invisible Alert iPhone App, to help keep them safe when you can’t be there.

How to create a viral video

Its one thing to create a compelling mobile app promotion video – how do you make sure people watch it? Creating blockbuster videos is not my field of expertise – I’m a mobile app developer. But the following is one of the best descriptions I have read of how to create a viral video – written by someone who describes exactly what they did to make their video go viral.

DANCING YOUTUBE SENSATION KAREN CHENG’S 10 TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR VIDEO GO VIRAL

Day One: 80K views

First, I posted to Facebook/Twitter, and submitted it to social news sites like Reddit and Hacker News. I personally asked many of my friends to share it. I tweeted it at well-known dancers. I emailed bloggers who had covered other viral dance videos.
Of all the things I tried, Reddit paid off. It got to the top of the GetMotivated subreddit. I did this by following the advice in this article.

Day Two: 800K views

Bloggers who had seen it on Reddit the day before started publishing articles about it. First Kottke. Then blogs like Mashable, Jezebel, and Huffington Post.

Blogs drove a ton of traffic. Each blog is a giant marketing engine with millions of readers and Twitter followers. It’s in their interest to get the article as many views as possible, because each view is an ad they can serve up. Understand how the money flows. It’s all about clicks and advertising dollars.

Day Three: 1.8 million views

It made the YouTube front page. I’m not sure how it got there, but I suspect the blogs were sending it so much traffic that YouTube’s algorithms picked up on it.

Try many things. You only need one of them to pay off in order for your video to go viral. For me, that thing was Reddit. Your thing might be different. Your goal is to get major blogs to write you up, because their marketing power is ridiculous.

Read More…

I hope this helps. If you need a detailed marketing plan, I recommend you talk to a marketing / SEO expert – I can recommend a few names. But I can help with what I know – if you have any questions about the technical aspects of mobile app promotion, the technical intricacies of Facebook app links, or other social media possibilities, please Contact Me.

New mobile app lets users make money from selfies

An clever new app allows users to make money from selfie pictures.

An clever new app allows users to make money from selfie pictures.

This has got to be one of those wow moments, when you see an idea so clever you wish you had thought of it yourself, an app which could revolutionise the modelling industry – a new mobile app which allows people to make money by taking photos of themselves.

How does it work? The idea is incredibly simple – you dress up in your hottest outfit, snap a selfie, then use the mobile app to scan the bar codes on all your clothes and accessories. Other people can browse the selfies, then use the app to buy the clothes and accessories if they see a look and style they want to copy.

According to CNBC

“What we’re doing … is removing friction from path to purchase,” said Tadd Spering, founder and CEO of Stylinity.

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers highlighted the importance of social media for retailers. According to the firm’s global online survey of nearly 20,000 shoppers, 62 percent of respondents said that interactions on social media had led them to buy more in “most” or “some” cases.
Read MoreSelfie sticks are the new Beatles

It also found that more than one-third of shoppers follow some of their favorite brands or retailers on social media.

Read More…

And of course, people who demonstrate a natural talent for modelling clothes and accessories – my guess is they will very quickly find an offer of a modelling contract in their inbox. The potential for this app to transform how clothes are sold, and transform ordinary people’s lives, by opening exciting new career options… lets just say, watch this space.

The big takeaway from this innovative new mobile app, is that there is still plenty of room for new mobile app development ideas – we have barely scratched the surface of the tremendous potential of the mobile app industry. In addition, paying mobile users to install your app has got to be a good way of growing your user base.

If you have a new idea for an iPhone App or Android App, and would like to discuss the realisation of your mobile dream, please contact me.

A Freemium Mobile App Development backlash?

A gathering backlash against some freemium mobile apps?

A gathering backlash against some freemium mobile apps?

Freemium Mobile Apps – apps which are free to download, but which offer in-app purchases. A few days ago, I discussed different ways of monetising apps, and how the Freemium model appears to dominate the industry.

However there are signs of a potentially serious backlash against tactics some freemium mobile app developers are using, to encourage users to purchase in-game options.

According to Game Revolution

… The thing is, our industry has become bad; society’s view of our industry has become bad. We try to get as much money out of the player as possible. That’s what the job of the [casual] game designer has become. That’s how people see us.

…What we’re doing is selling games to children. I think it’s so disgusting. We sell them $100 packages of fake currency and make their parents pay because we can easily manipulate them. This is the thinking of the gambling industry.

Read More…

To put this into perspective, not every iPhone App project or Android App project which contains in-app purchases is “evil”. If you want to give people a taste of your app’s functionality, then it is entirely reasonable to present basic functionality in a free mobile app, then encourage people to purchase additional capabilities. For example, Angry Birds – you could play a few levels on the free version of the game, then you could buy the “full” version, then there was ONE in-app purchase option – the “great eagle”, which allowed you to blast through frustratingly difficult levels, to see the next level. Good clean fun – simple costs, you know what you are buying.

But clearly there is a line which it is dangerous to cross. If your app targets children – encourages them to spend ridiculous sums of real money buying food bricks for their pet dragon or walrus or whatever, so their faithful electronic companion doesn’t starve and die, to me this is a high risk strategy. There’s a real risk your mobile game might end up at the top of someone’s list of evil. Such a design might even trigger a consumer campaign to remove your product from app store or play store.

My advice is, everything in moderation. By all means throw in a few in-app purchases – its a fantastic way of boosting revenue. Who knows what apps we would never have known, without the financial incentive provided by profits from in-app purchase options.

If you would like to discuss app monetisation strategies, please feel free to get in touch.

Fast Text Searching in a Mobile App

Searching large text fields (as in thousands of words) for small key phrases is traditionally a difficult problem, especially when the search has to be performed by a mobile app, using an Android or iPhone handset’s limited computing power.

Linear Text Search

Your mobile app could search for your key phrase by checking every letter in your text, as the possible starting point for the phrase you want to find. This works when the text you are searching is short – but if you are attempting to search many thousands of words of text, a linear search is slow, even at modern computing speeds.


Search: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
Key Phrase: lazy dog
Algorithm: check each letter
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

Text Map Search

The alternative is to partially pre-run the search when developing the mobile app. You can’t predict the keywords a user will enter, but you can create a searchable text map of the relationships between words and phrases in the text to be searched, to allow code to rapidly search the map, rather than having to check every letter of every word of the text to be searched.


Search: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
Key Phrase: lazy dog
Algorithm: pre-run search
L -> La -> Lazy -> Lazy Dog

How do you pre-run a search? You could research efficient word search structures – suffix trees, and other exotic data representations. After a significant amount of effort you would be able to create a search engine, which was much faster than a linear search of every letter in your text.

Or you could use the full text index feature of the SQLite database engine, which is fully supported in both the Android App and iPhone App environments.

SQLite Full Text Index

The SQLite full text index engine is very fast – correctly configured, it can search 10s of megabytes of text stored in your mobile app, fast enough so your code can update a list of hits in realtime, as the user types into the search box (obviously its a bit smoother if the database search is running in a different thread). In my experience the limitation on search speed is usually how quickly your code can create tables of data to represent the search results, rather than executing the search itself – so during performance tuning, it is worth considering minimum phrase lengths (e.g. don’t start the search until the user has entered at least 3-4 characters), to limit the number of results which are likely to be generated by a given search.

Creating a SQLite Full Text Index table is very similar to creating a normal database table. If the text to be searched is fixed (i.e. doesn’t change when the mobile app is used), the text search SQLite database can be created when the app is built, and accessed immediately, as soon as the user starts the mobile app.

Other Full Text Index Options

Full Text Index databases are also well supported by web technology. On most Linux boxes you can choose between a SQLite Full Text Search Database or a MySQL Full Text Search Database.

The Next Step

If you are thinking of developing an iPhone app or Android App, or any other kind of mobile app, which needs to present users with the ability to search a large chunk of text very rapidly, please contact me, for advice on optimal ways of implementing such a search.

Avoiding Mobile App Store Rejection

What to do if your mobile app is rejected by App Store.

What to do if your mobile app is rejected by App Store.

The dreaded rejection – you’ve commissioned your mobile app, developed it, tested it, then Apple rejects your creation – because you inadvertently violated one of their rules.

It happens – rejection is never pleasant. I’ve personally dealt with mobile app rejection on several occasions, in all cases at no additional cost to the client. A lot of the time the rejection occurs because the reviewer misunderstood app functionality – on more than one occasion I’ve negotiated a solution which did not require any change to the app functionality. In other cases, a minor change to functionality is required, to bring the app into compliance. Sometimes an app is rejected because of a malfunction – in which case the reviewer is doing you a favour, helping you to discover and correct a mistake, before your app receives negative reviews from the public.

Venture Beat News has written an excellent article providing 5 tips to avoid rejection.

1. Test, test, and test.
In every scenario for successful app submission, it all boils down to testing app performance and user experience. From bugs to crashes, the list of app rejection reasons is ridiculously long. The recent Forrester report on mobile app testing confirms that “successful app testing requires real devices rather than emulators; many development teams have learned this the hard way.” Engaging, high-quality apps can do wonders for your brand reputation, while poor-quality apps turn off even the most loyal customers. So do yourself a big favor. When you have built and tested your app to absolute perfection… test it again!

2. Plan for patience
Possibly the most frustrating aspect of app store submission is the time it takes to review. The inconsistency can be particularly maddening. The Apple App Store review process can take as few as 4 days, as many as 14, or anywhere in between. And that’s if your app gets accepted the first time. Google Play doesn’t take as long, but patience is still a virtue here. Unless you have an app store reviewer on your payroll, it’s a very good idea to plan for a lengthy review process, and hope for the best.

3. Understand the submission fields ahead of time
Submitting your app requires you to fill out a lot of information, and neglecting this step until the last minute has caused a review delay for many an app. Be sure to research all the fields you’ll fill out (app description, categories, keywords, copyright, screen shots, etc.) and get a good head start before you’re ready to submit, and eliminate this avoidable delay.

4. Monitor the latest app store updates
Apple has an annoying habit of changing their acceptance rules frequently, especially after new OS releases. This can easily lead to a lot of app rejection headaches, so it is important to have someone keep on top of the latest updates. Ensure that someone on your team is continually familiar with the Apple Store and Google Play submission rules, and save yourself some hair.

5. Create your own app store
Unlike individual developers, companies don’t necessarily have to subject themselves to the verdicts of the mobile elite. Enterprise app stores are a growing trend in today’s mobile world, as companies are finding the capability to host and distribute their apps internally. If you have the right cloud platform, this is a great way to make life easier, both for yourself and your end users.

Read More…

If you would like more information on how to avoid having your newly developed mobile app rejected by mobile app store review, and what to do about it if your receive the dreaded rejection notice, please Contact Me.

New Mobile App Developed to detect Epileptic Seizures

Japanese researchers have developed a new mobile app which gives epileptics a few seconds early warning, if they are about to suffer an epileptic seizure.

According to the Brisbane Courier Mail:

JAPANESE researchers have developed a system for smartphones to alert epileptics at least 30 seconds before a seizure.

IT’S hoped the app would help patients take precautions in the nick of time and avoid injuries.

A team from Kyoto University which developed the system is collaborating with Kumamoto University and Tokyo Medical and Dental University to get the device commercially produced by 2020, the Nikkei financial publication reported on Thursday.

The innovation uses a small sensor placed close to the collar bone or heart to detect changes in heartbeat.

Just before an epileptic attack, changes in nerve cell activity affect the autonomic nerves that control the heart.

The system detects these through the sensor and wirelessly transmits the signals to the smartphone, which uses a special application to analyse them.
To determine if the heartbeats are abnormal, the system first creates a baseline profile by taking measurements under normal conditions.
When the heartbeat deviates, the system alerts the user through a sound or a vibration.

Read more…

I know people who have epilepsy, and have witnessed several epileptic seizures. When the seizure strikes people have very little warning – they generally fall uncontrollably to the ground, which creates a very real risk of head injury or other serious injury as their body strikes the pavement or other hard surfaces.

A mobile app which gives people in this unfortunate predicament a few moments warning, so they can lay down, or pull over if they are driving, would be of immeasurable benefit to epilepsy sufferers.

Android Apps and iPhone Apps which provide medical functionality are generally very popular on App Store, if they offer real value to users. For example, some heart rate monitor apps, which use the mobile phone’s microphone to pick up someone’s heart beat, have received millions of downloads. However, before tackling a medical app you should ensure you have someone with appropriate medical expertise on your team – a medical app which provided inexpert information could be worse than useless, it might endanger people’s lives.

If you are a qualified medical practitioner, and have an idea for a new medical app, please contact me.

Microsoft: Red Hot Mobile App Developers

Microsoft - Down but not out in the Mobile App Development Space

Microsoft – Down but not out in the Mobile App Development Space

Even if Microsoft never secures meaningful market share for its windows mobile phone, it looks like they have a plan “B” for making their mark in the mobile world – developing Microsoft branded iPhone Apps and Android Apps.

According to BGR:

This past fall, Microsoft also [in addition to Microsoft Office Mobile for Android and iPhone] released three hugely promising Android apps: Torque, an Android Wear app that takes away the added step of having to say, “OK Google…” before you give your watch a voice command or ask it a question; Next Lock Screen, which adds more useful information and application shortcuts to your lock screen; and the Journeys & Notes app that lets you take location-based notes of places you’re visiting that can be shared with other people who visit that specific location in the future.

Microsoft really started to embrace mobile app development when it released mobile versions of its popular Office productivity suite and it hasn’t looked back since. And it’s not just that Microsoft is making good apps of its own but that it’s wisely decided to offer more integration with established apps that are already popular, such as its decision to integrate cloud storage service Dropbox with its own Office software instead of forcing users to only use the company’s own OneDrive.

The question of course – does Microsoft intend to abandon their frustrating effort to become a dominant mobile handset operating system, and focus instead on developing popular mobile apps? Is this a strategy to convince people that Microsoft know what they are doing in the mobile space – in the hope that people will consider Windows Mobile next time they upgrade their phone? Or perhaps Microsoft themselves haven’t decided what they want – maybe they’re just covering all their bets, pending further developments?

What is clear is that Microsoft have not given up on the mobile app space – and given their track record of dominating markets, they may yet surprise the market.

If you would like to discuss strategies for mobile app deployment – which platform you should target first, whether you should release multi-platform or one platform at a time, please Contact Me.

Apple iPhone overtakes Android

Apple iPhone has taken the lead in new handset shipments.

Apple iPhone has taken the lead in new handset shipments.

The release of Apple iPhone 6, a substantial improvement on previous models, has for now given Apple the edge in the mobile handset wars, for the first time since 2012.

According to AppAdvice:

Apple is now the top smartphone provider in the United States for the first time since the end of 2012. During the holiday quarter, Apple was responsible for 47.7 percent of all smartphones shipped. This compared to 47.6 percent for Android-based devices, 3.8 percent for Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and just 0.3 percent for BlackBerry, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

Between October and December 2014, the iPhone 6 was the top selling smartphone in the U.S., and also the most popular smartphone to give as a gift. Though not specifically addressed, we assume that Kantar included both iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus shipments in the company’s analysis. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 was ranked No. 2.

One year ago, Android-based devices accounted for 50.6 percent of smartphone shipments in the U.S. At the time, iOS took 43.9 percent.

It is regularly claimed that iPhone apps make more revenue than Android apps, despite the fact there are more Android handsets in circulation. This seems to match my experience – perhaps on average, if you can afford an iPhone, you have more disposable income to spend on mobile apps. If Apple can maintain their lead over Android, this will also give them a handset advantage – an utterly compelling lead in the mobile handset world.

If you would like to discuss strategies for multi-platform mobile app development, the best order in which to deploy your multi-platform mobile product, please Contact me now