Most conversations about mobile strategies include the following two perspectives: limited resources of devices require new technical approaches, and mobile use cases are different and demand unique content and application features.
As we’ve settled into our new multi-device lifestyles, a new perspective has entered into these conversations: finding different content at the same place on different devices is a problem and flies in the face of web accessibility and common sense.
Recently, the teams at Odopod gathered together for a presentation on Mobile from our Director of Technology, David Bliss and Senior Developer, Lucas Shuman. They shared some interesting insights and statistics about the growing Android market.
"Android has overtaken Symbian as the most popular smartphone operating system worldwide and that there is a three way tie in the U.S. between Blackberry, iOS and Android. What's more, indications are that Android's market share will continue to grow in 2011."
In their Flash for Mobile presentation, David and Lucas help us, our clients and our industry better understand what this all means.
The California Academy of Sciences and Odopod came together to make a pretty awesome iPhone app to navigate all the great features, wildlife and landmarks inside Golden Gate Park. It's called the Golden Gate Park Field Guide and you can pick it up in the App Store.
Last weekend I decided to test it out for an adventure. The thing about the park is that it's massive and if you don't know what you're doing or where you're going, it's very easy to get lost. There are museums and lakes, bison and waterfalls, plants and animals, gardens and playgrounds. Having an app like this one to know where all these hidden gems are is incredibly useful.
The app is filled with all kinds of activities. You've got Sightings where you can report exact locations of the wildlife you've seen. There are Scavenger Hunts where you try your luck at finding specific species at varying degrees of difficulty and Nature Walks to choose from. You can also simply browse a list of all the species in the park and learn about their histories.
I chose the Nature Walk, "Around Stowe Lake" (with handy Time, Distance and Difficulty indicators) and went on to explore and learn the lay of the land.
With the app in hand, arriving at the location was super easy - especially since it's location aware and knew exactly where I was within the park at all times. The trail and all of the way points were marked clearly on the map indicating start and end points and all the really neat landmarks along the way. I started at the Boathouse and made my way along the route.
Each milestone marker in the interface offered a bit of history about that location. Some points had little tips, others had insights and trivia. I walked around the lake finding things I never even knew were there, hiked up hills with stunning views of San Francisco, came back down again snapping tons of pictures, and managed to spot turtles and birds and fish and other creatures that I failed to report in the app, but I could have.
In total, I spent about two hours on the walk, exploring, taking pictures and enjoying nature, giving a proper moment to each of the waypoints along the tour. I could have easily stayed all day as there are so many other adventures to take - some on bikes, some on foot, some long, some short - all available in this remarkable app for those with a sense of curiosity and adventure. I will be back to use it again soon.
Ever since Apple's iPad was publicly announced, media and geeks have been looking to and fro for alternate tablets that can counter its buzz. None have matched the well-honed PR machine from Cupertino, but few tech companies could resist either announcing their own tablet devices or floating the idea of creating a tablet device (We're looking at you GOOG!).
Does this round of tablet fever bode differently than the last round of Windows Tablet PCs? Everyone involved sure hopes so.
The iTunes App Store just broke 2 billion downloads. Let's run down some of the crazy big numbers:
• 2 billion applications downloaded in a span of 15 months.
• That's an average of 4.4 million apps a day or 133 million apps a month. (It's, obviously, running at a faster rate now).
• 100 million iTunes accounts WITH credit card numbers puts users a click and a password away from picking up any app.
OK, of the currently 85,000 available apps, only a fraction are making a lot of money. Still, the App Store is an unprecedented economic achievement. No other software platform has gotten so many people to buy so much so fast. None.
So, what are the takeaways? What can we learn?
Routesy, a San Francisco commuter app designed by Odopod, is back in the App Store! For reasons too complicated for this particular post, the Routesy update was held and not released until now - thanks for your patience. For all the ugly details, read about it on SF Appeal.
Our friends at Communication Arts posted a lovely article featuring our work on the California Academy of Sciences mobile site. Thanks CA!
The mobile version is more than a mini makeover of the main site, but rather a hub of museum information and activity specifically tailored to meet the needs of users on-the-go.
Check out the new Routesy 2.0, a handy iPhone app that helps Bay Area commuters get around town, providing MUNI and BART arrival predictions in real time.
Odopod worked with the team at Routesy to completely redesign the experience, with new features including BART support, bookmarking capabilities, and an easy to use, freshly designed interface.
Grab Routesy 2.0 from the iTunes App store and let us know what you think.
The California Academy of Sciences mobile experience is all about the museum in the now, uniquely crafted for users on the go.
The site easily and simply communicates exhibits, events, announcements and closings - all happening right now - with a map and basic contact information readily available.
Here at the ‘pod, we’ve been tapping and swiping en masse since the original iPhone. We recently came across this article from Ad Age Digital and felt we could offer our perspective on the App Store buzz.
A successful iPhone app, like any application or campaign, is based a lot on its quality of strategy and execution. In other words, for an iPhone app to be useful, it needs to be a good app. Additionally the app needs to fit into a brand’s larger objectives.
That being said, mobile apps are here to stay and are only going to become more and more relevant for advertisers and brands. Whether the iTunes App Store will be the dominant platform or ecosystem in 5 years is unknowable. What we can expect is that engaging, capable mobile experiences that are easy to find, get and use will be the norm -- whether it's a "native" app or an experience hosted in one of the ever-more capable mobile web browsers. Just as marketing dollars are shifting from traditional media to digital today, it would not be surprising to start seeing digital dollars shifting to mobile initiatives. In a few years, we may see a primarily mobile campaign with PC web media supporting it.
We have a running conversation on whether to support and extend development to other nascent mobile platforms -- Android, Blackberry, WebOS, Symbian, WinMo. We feel it should be considered on a case-by-case basis. It is unlikely that multiplying design and development effort to build for multiple platforms will result in a commensurate immediate bottom line (or PR) return for our client or for us. Deploying an application on a mobile platform that is not the iPhone should be considered an investment on learning that specific platform. In the long run, the learnings of creating experience concepts, strategies and interaction design for mobile devices will be invaluable for the future, regardless of what platforms are relevant then.
We believe the iPhone represents the best current platform for brands to gain invaluable experience on designing and developing for the inevitable mobile world.
One side-note: complaining about breaking into the App Store Top 10 is wasted energy. Apple, in the end, cannot be relied upon to be any app's primary marketing. The App Store is great because it is a bulletproof distribution and ecommerce platform. Marketing for mobile apps and experiences will need the same attention and effort as any other online experience or campaign. Tweets, blogs, web sites, ads, PR and all the other usual efforts will be required to reach an app's audience.