Case Study: Developing a Mobile App for a Medical Cannabis Delivery Service

One Apptology’s more interesting projects was to develop an iPhone and Android app for Swift Comfort, a medical cannabis delivery service based in Davis, California.  In doing this project, we had several objectives for the app.  In this article, I’ll describe how we accomplished those objectives using our ReadyBuilt platform and the results.

Paperless Patient Onboarding

In California, for a dispensary/ delivery service sell medical cannabis, they need to get the following from a patient:

  • California ID
  • Recommendation from a physician
  • Signed patient agreement form
  • Maintain records of their patients

Apptology was able to make the entire patient onboarding paperless.   In the app we developed, the patient can take a picture of their ID and recommendation and send it to the delivery service.

Figure 1. Submitting a recommendation and ID through the app

After the service validates the recommendation (unfortunately, this is a manual process), the patient can enter their data directly into the service’s database on the app (this saves them from keying in the information themselves). We selected MMJMenu for their database for several reasons:

  • They are specifically designed for the medical cannabis solution  and meets compliance requirements
  • They have a secure service that can meet HIPAA compliance
  • They allow for branding
  • They’re free (for a single location service)

Figure 2. Filling out patient information directly on patient database on the app.

After the patient enters the information in the database, they are redirected to an Adobe Sign Document where they can sign the patient agreement form. After the patient signs the form, both the service and patient received the signed copy. At this point, the service can upload the image of the ID and recommendation and the signed patient form to the patient’s record in the database.

Figure 3. Digitally signing the patient agreement on the app

In the event the patient did not have a recommendation for medical cannabis treatment, the app has an integration to PrestoDoctor where they can speak to a physician and request a recommendation.

Figure 4. Integration to PrestoDoctor

Ordering Product

When we first created the app, we initially created a shopping menu where the patients could order product directly from the app.  However, we encountered a couple of problems:

  • Apple didn’t allow for the ability to order medical cannabis from the app
  • The delivery service would end up having to maintain two separate menu (the app shopping cart and Weed Maps).

Our solution was to eliminate the shopping menu and replaced it with an integration to Weed Maps where the service’s menu can be viewed.  In terms of ordering, we allow the patient to choose from calling, texting, or emailing an order.

Marketing

The app has the ability to market to the delivery service’s patient base.  There are a few features that I will highlight:

Push Notifications

  • One of the most powerful features of app is the ability to send push notifications directly to the patients. Our client will often send out app only specials when it’s slow which helps bring in business.

Figure 7. Example Push Notification

  • In a very competitive field (our client literally has 20 competitors in their city listed on Weed Maps), customer loyalty is essential. To encourage this, the app has a rewards card feature.  The reward card in the app is like a digital punch card.  After a purchase, the driver can enter a secret code that punches the card.  When they collect enough punches, they will get free product.

Figure 8. App Rewards Feature

Content

In order for an app to be successful, it has to provide useful content so that the user has a reason to use the app, other than just ordering product.   The app has to ability to delivery content in various forms including:

  • Videos (including an integration to YouTube)
  • Pictures (including an integration to Instagram)
  • Social Media feeds (Facebook and Twitter)

Analytics

The app has a supporting Content Management System which is where  our client can manage the content, send out push notifications, and look at analytics.  Below is a screenshot of the analytics dashboard.  In this case, it shows that in a 7 day period, there were 356 users of the app; 96% of the users were returning customers, and the most common feature used was the “Call” feature.   Analytics are important for our clients to understand how much their  app is being used and how it’s being used.

Figure 12. Analytics Dashboard

The app we developed for Swift Comfort has been an essential part of their business. They’ve been in business for over a year and have done very well despite being in a highly competitive environment with 20 medical cannabis delivery companies listed on Weed Maps in their city alone. A branded app will make a medical cannabis delivery service / dispensary stand out in a competitive field by making patient onboarding easy and providing the ability to market to their customer base.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

211info App: Adapting to a Mobile Population

211info is a non-profit based in based in Portland, Oregon; they provided referral services for local community services in the State of Oregon and 4 counties in Southwest Washington.  Traditionally, their clients would dial “211” and their team would answer the phone and verbally provide them the answers.  As technology has progressed, they have taken queries from email, SMS, and there is also a self-serve tool on their web site.

211info received a grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services / Child Welfare Division to develop a mobile app to expand their capabilities.   The 211info team developed the user interface in-house and partnered with Apptology to do the coding.  Apptology was able to develop an iPhone and Android app that leverages 211info’s resources database.

The app is a self-serve tool allows their clients to search for local resources.  One of the features of the app is that it will use the user’s location by leveraging the smart phone’s GPS capabilities.  The resource’s description, address, phone number, and web site are displayed and can also be viewed in a map view.  The user can further use the smart phone’s capabilities by using tap-to-call, view their web site, and get turn by turn directions.    Users can also call, email, or text 211info team within the app for further assistance.

In developing the app, 211info was acknowledging the fact that smartphones have widespread adoption and is nearly ubiquitous among young adults.   The adoption has been relatively easy and 15% of inquiries to 211info now come from the app.   A surprising base of users has been health and human services workers.

“I was at a Health Round-Up and someone needed some direction on resources. I pulled out my 211info mobile app and was able to easily direct them to an agency. It was so easy!”

-Michelle Homer-Anderson

(Southern Oregon Head Start Director)

When asked about feedback about the app, Matthew Rasmussen, Coordinator at Oregon Department of Human Services, responded, “The app is simple and easy to use, yet visibly streamline and functional. As a result we have seen an impressive number of downloads and expect this trend to continue. Our goal in developing an app is to engage and assist young people with meeting their own basic needs using technology they already use. Our target audience already uses their phones for nearly everything they do and we want to meet them where they already are, offering them the information they need in an easy to use platform. We believe we achieve this goal with the app.”

Emily Berndt, 211info Director of Partnerships, stated that they are tracking the feedback on the app and overall, it has been overwhelmingly positive.  They definitely see the advantages of having a mobile app has had to their customer base and see it as a useful tool for other referral agencies such as theirs.

Please note if you download the app and you’re not in 211info’s service area, the app will only give the option to call, email or text for referral info.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

 

 

MARICOPA COUNTY EARNS NATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR MARICOPA HEALTHY MOBILE APP

WASHINGTON – Maricopa County Dept. of Public Health Nutrition & Physical Activity has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that enhance services for residents.

NACo recognized “Healthy Eating and Active Living are a SNAP with Mobile Technology” in the category of Information Technology.  The iPhone App and Android App was developed by Apptology.

NACo President Bryan Desloge said, “Counties overcome complex challenges, provide essential services and constantly do more with less. We applaud these Achievement Award-winning counties for outstanding efforts to improve residents’ quality of life.”

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.

NACo will recognize award-winning counties at its 2017 Annual Conference and Exposition July 21–24 in Franklin County, Ohio.

Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Award Program is designed to recognize innovative county government programs. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.

###

The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America’s 3,069 county governments. Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government and exercise exemplary leadership in public service.  Learn more at www.naco.org

2017 Google I/O Keynote Highlights

Google hosted their annual developer’s conference, Google I/O on May 17 in Mountain View, Ca.  CEO Sundar Pichai broke down the latest insight on Google’s activity and how their focus will be further defined later on this year.  Here are some of the highlights of the 2017 Google I/O Keynote:

2 Billion Active Android Users

Google’s Android OS continues to stake its claim in the tech industry with 2 billion active users and Pichai threw out even more impressive quantitative data; they have nearly 1 billion active users on Google Drive per month along with 500 million users on Google Photos accumulating 1.2 billion uploads on the daily.

Google Assistant & Google Home Updates

Google Assistant is now not just exclusive to Android but will be available on iOS as well. In addition, Google Home is allowing users to make phone calls directly from the device with a blocked number as default or your personal phone number. For now, they’re only allowing outgoing calls to prevent issues with privacy. But that’s not all, Home can now become a Bluetooth radio and interact with a plethora of apps like Hulu, HBO Now and Soundcloud. Lastly, its debuted “visual responses” can communicate with smartphones, smart TVs etc. enabling your requests to be displayed on preferred outputs.

The Google Lens Puts Life into Perspective

Now with the aid of your smartphone camera and the company’s own AI software, Google Lens, can more accurately perceive the environment around you. Their newly announced “Google Lens” interprets what is detected through their screen while connecting related information useful to its users. For instance, by scanning a Wi-Fi’s network login, Google Lens will automatically sync the data with your Android.

Android O Beta

Although this isn’t the official name of Android’s latest OS, they released the beta with previews of their newest features such as notification enhancements, pic-in-pic abilities etc. It’s recommended to try it out with a compatible Pixel or Nexus device.

Google’s TPU Chip

Acknowledging that AI is the future of Google’s innovation, their new Tensor Processing Unit could effectively merge AI and Cloud as one. This specially designed machine learning chip will operate with the TensorFlow platform in hopes of making Google the leader in AI-based hardware and software.

Android Go

This entry-level device is intended to close the gap between them and 1 billion more users. Google intends to offer more while still using less than 1GB of memory. Aimed at multilingual demographics with lower access to connectivity, Android Go wants to provide users with a quality smartphone experience free from limitations.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

CAL FIRE Ready for Wildfire App

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) fights over 5600 calfireiconwildfires that plague California annually.  CAL FIRE has a new weapon in their arsenal to help prepare the public for when the next wildfire strikes, it’s their new mobile app called CAL FIRE Ready for Wildfire.  The app is currently available on both the iPhone and Android platforms.  The app has three primary functions:

  • Providing Educational Content on how to prepare for and help protect property from wildfires
  • Notifying citizens of wildfire incidents with custom alerts
  • Providing incident information and maps on California wildfires

Education

The main purpose of the app is to help educate residents and property owners in high risk wildland areas on how to prepare for wildfires.  The app has a series of checklists that is broken down as follows:

  • Ready (Maintain Defensible Space and Hardening Homes)
    • Create Defensible Space
    • Harden Home
    • Prepare for Bark Beetles
  • Set (Create a Wildfire Action Plan)
    • Wildfire Action Plan
    • Emergency Supply Kit
    • Design a Family Communication Plan
  • Go! (Evacuation Guide)
    • Pre-Evacuation Guide
    • When to evacuate
    • What to do when trapped

 

The app has nine separate check-off lists that also provide educational material in the form of articles and videos.  The videos can be viewed as part of the checklist or in the video library.

Cal Fire education

Notifications

The user can sign up to receive custom wildfire alerts for a physical address and/or for the user’s device location.  The user can opt-in for push notifications and/or SMS messages for wildfires that are reported in selected California counties, or within 30 miles of the user’s device, using location services.

Push Notifications

Push Notifications require the user to have the app.  The push notifications are generated using integration with Urban Airship.

SMS

The user can also opt to receive text messages about latest wildfires.  The advantage of using this option is that the user doesn’t need the app to receive the notification.   The SMS messages are generated through integration with Twilio.

CAL Fire alerts

Information

Basic information from CAL FIRE can also be found on the app.  The app has embedded CAL FIRE’s mobile website for incident information, and there’s a feed from CAL FIRE’s Twitter account.  In addition, there’s a Statewide Fire Google Map that displays all the active wildfires in California.

Cal Fire Info

CAL FIRE launched a campaign to promote the app that directs residents to this resource as tool to prepare their Defensible Space in advance of the 2017 wildfire season. The campaign also includes an incentive for user downloads through an App Sweepstakes that is available now through May 21, 2017. The Sweepstakes offers users a chance to win a home hardening prize package. The Sweepstakes is co-sponsored by Apptology and iHeartRadio. No state funds are used for promotion or prizes. The CAL FIRE app was developed by Apptology as a contractor to CAL FIRE’s marketing agency, Sagent. For more information on the Ready For Wildfire Campaign, visit www.readyforwildfire.org

The 2016 Presidential App War: Clinton vs. Trump

clintonvstrump

The 2016 Presidential App War:  Clinton vs. Trump

As the 2016 Presidential Campaign comes to a climax this Tuesday, as an app developer, I’m going to take a few minutes to compare the official apps from each campaign.  Because of the importance of mobile, I see that apps will be a crucial tool for political campaigns and it’s interesting to see how the major party candidates have implemented their mobile app strategy.

Hillary 2016 

Debuting last July on iOS and now available on Android, the Hillary 2016 App is about making the election fun. It has the feel of a mobile gaming platform while incorporating strategies similar to Duolingo to rapidly gain support and simplify the ways in which users can do so. Over 100,000 people have downloaded the app and completed over 800,000 built in activities. For instance, users can be quizzed on Trump’s controversial statements or share Clinton’s photos on social networks. There is also the option of earning points by, for example, registering to vote. Users are also able to get a lot more interactive and make them feel as if they play an active role in the campaign. Gamers can experience the view of her office by swiping away on the touch screen. They can even water the plants and pet the presidential dog, Winnie! Lead developer, Stephanie Cheng, said that users pet the virtual Winnie dog an average of 5 times per day. People also have the option of contributing to the campaign, signing up for future events, checking in to current ones and read related news. The Clinton administration said that the app has caused thousands of new supporters to step up and get involved.   The app has a clean and crisp look and is definitely geared towards millennials.  It uses gamification and encourages users to do political focused activities with both virtual and real awards.  The top award includes a signed post card by Hillary Clinton.

hillary2016-app-lineup-points-02

 Trump America First 

Trump’s team responded shortly after Clinton’s app launch with their own called ‘America First.‘ It providers users with news, videos, articles, a donation processor and social networking links. The last option allows people to contact other Trump supporters in their region. There’s also a countdown with the words that explains ‘Time Left Until We Defeat Crooked Hillary.’ The more that users participate and use the app, the higher they climb the rankings. There are a total of 8 levels starting from the ‘apprentice’ and ending with the ‘Big League.’ Users can earn points as well and even compete with others based on how deliberately they show support. The app is a lot more simplistic and was designed for an older audience despite the main consumer aged 18-29.

trumpappAnalysis

The main difference between the apps is the audience it targets.  The Clinton app is geared towards millennials with a big focus on gamification and it has a much crisper look.  As a Gen Xer, I found the app a bit annoying; I would be more interested in getting news and information which is a layer below the gaming aspect.  The Trump app is geared towards an older crowd with news being in the forefront which I found more useful.  With that said, I found the Trump app to be a bit cluttered and dated from a visual aspect.

One of the things that Trump app does consistently is that it sends out regular push notifications whereas in the Clinton app, I haven’t received any.  I actually do wonder if the Clinton app purposely avoids sending out push notifications in fear of the user deleting the app for being annoying.

Where the Clinton app beats the Trump app in a landslide is ASO (App Store Optimization).  When I searched for “clinton” in the Apple App store, as expected the official Clinton Campaign app appears first.  Whereas a search for “trump” the official Trump app appears 9th (after 8 Trump satire apps).

clintontrumpaso

Similarly, on Google Play, the official Clinton app comes up first and the official Trump app comes up 5th.

androidjpeg

Recommendations for Future Political apps

In conclusion, for future political campaigns that are thinking about developing an app, here are some of my recommendations:

  • Focus on ASO:   Don’t make your supporters have to search for your official app behind a sea of satire apps.
  • Engagement is crucial: Give a reason for the user to continually use the app.
  • Know your audience: design the your app for you’re the demographic that you’re targeting

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

Augmented Reality Use Cases (That’s Not Games)

Image Source: Gov Loop

Augment Reality (AR) has received a lot of attention with the success of Pokemon Go. AR aims to extract animations and place them into real-world environments. It has essentially merged the gap between reality and computer generated simulations by manipulating what the user experiences via sight, sound, smell and touch. In brief, AR integrates animations into your reality so the general setting looks the same but with some few added details. Although AR is related to Virtual Reality (VR), the two technologies are not synonymous. VR produces computer generated simulations of an environment that users can experience by wearing a helmet or gloves with built-in sensors. Read my previous blog on VR for more insight. AR on the other hand allows users to experience the technology simply by glancing into the screen of an Android, iPhone or other mobile device such as a tablet. AR is altering the world as we know it or at least changing the way people experience the world. The Pokémon explosion is probably the most well-known platform that has utilized AR for gaming. It may sound silly to some, but the game is highly addictive. To understand specific reasons behind this obsession, read my previous blog to learn why Pokémon Go has become so successful. To gain a better understanding of how app developers have taken advantage of this innovative technology, we will look at a few providers who have successfully used AR for non-gaming purposes.

Health and Education with AR: Anatomy 4D

This app is a cloud-based, interactive examining simulation resource for academic uses. It offers users with online access to anatomy data while analyzing detailed bone structures and organ systems. This can be done by downloading specialized research templates or by enabling structure projection and layer blending. Anatomy 4D allows project structures to synch with skin to analyze coordination and position. Users can also adequately balance the layers to reveal discrete anatomic implications. You can also hover over objects or images to reveal detailed information via label view. It is these perspectives that produce enhanced learning retention by granting students an in-depth look at any part of the body they are studying. This also is useful for medical instructors who can organize image and structure curriculums along with managing lessons and tests.

Image Source: mzstatic

Shopping with AR: Pair

This app enables users to place animated images of furniture into their space so they can perfectly visualize how it would look in real life.  Pair’s tag line is “The New Way to Try Before you Buy with Augmented Reality.” Indeed the app grants prospects an easier method to experience the end result of their interior design project. For example, let’s say you just purchased your first home and the space is completely empty. You would be able to walk room to room while viewing how you would want it to look through your mobile device. You’d be able to put furniture, pictures and other items in designated areas of the space, swap them out, switch them around etc. Cool right? Still, Pair has a much more expansive purpose than simply furniture and can enhance scientific, educational and commercial projects by giving spectators a 3D demonstration of what a particular vision would look like. I was able to see Pair in action during 500 Startups Batch 18 Demo Day and it’s pretty impressive.

Graphic Source: Google Plus

Mechanics and Construction with AR: AMA XpertEye

This month, AMA XpertEye will supply workers of the Keolis Commuter Services (KCS) in Massachusetts with AR smart glasses to improve communication and boost efficiency on their railway transportation system. These specialized glasses stream the video being recorded tethered to a mobile device. The remote supervisor monitors the recording over a laptop. From there, both parties can “exchange written messages and take screenshots of the video, annotate the images, and send them to each other.” Ultimately, their goal is to speed up delays caused from train repairs and other technical difficulties that may get them off track. Additionally, Keolis is considering the technology for training purposes so newcomers can literally see through the eyes of their seasoned field workers.

ama

Image Source: AMA XpertEye

Sports and Play with AR: RideOn Vision

This cutting edge technology created by Heads up Display is seen with their RideOn Ski Goggles. These one of a kind specs allow users to access heightened assistance while skiing or snowboarding the slopes. Map navigation systems can guide users easily through the rough and diverse terrain better than ever before. You can also communicate with other riders, see their whereabouts and even text them hands-free. In addition, the goggles allow riders to capture their surroundings and share them online for others to see. The company is also developing games that can be played directly through these exclusive lenses. And of course, users can jam to their own personalized soundtrack as they ride, jump, flip and recover from a wipe out.  Although the technology is geared for the snow, it’s useful for motorcyclists, ATV riders and other similar vehicles.

4ed21e0dc4108fa188611505d8cb28b5

Image Source: Pintrest

As technology progresses, it will be interesting to see what other AR use cases are developed.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

The 7 Mobile App Monetization Models

app monetization

Something I typically ask my startup clients is “how do you plan on making money?”Sometimes, I get a stunned silence in response. They’re so caught up in their idea that they never think about the monetization model. This is especially true for startups that include an app as part of the business model. So, if you are at the napkin stage of your next app venture, here are seven app monetization models to give you food for thought.

1. The Price of the App

The most obvious way to make money is by selling it on the app store. On the Apple App Store, the price can range from $.99 to $999.99. Both Apple and Google take 30% but have pretty good systems that will deposit the funds directly into your bank account.

Although from what I’ve observed, putting a price on your app is often a barrier for people to download your app. We had a client that had a fairly successful app with thousands of downloads a week (as a free app). As soon as they charged 99 cents for their app, it went from thousands of downloads to forty. If your goal is to make a profit, my suggestion is to figure out how to monetize a free app. However, if your app solves a business problem and there’s a definite ROI (Return on Investment), then you should charge accordingly.

2. In-App Purchases

Typically, in-app purchases for a free app allow users to:

  • Unlock features

  • Purchase a subscription

  • Buy virtual goods

  • Purchase additional content

Just as in the price of an app, Apple and Google Play take 30%. If you look at the top grossing apps in the Apple App Store, the top 30 apps are all free but offer in-app purchases.

3. Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising nears $100 billion in 2016. There are 6 mobile advertising models and I discuss them in this article.

4. License

Essentially, if you build an app that solves a problem, you can license it. A good example is event apps. There are a number of companies with an app template that will create custom apps for organizations in need of an event app. They typically charge a setup fee and a monthly subscription. This follows a SaaS (Software as a Service) model.

5. Improving the Business Process

Although this isn’t exactly a monetization model, effectively implementing a mobile app can substantially improve business revenue. A good example is Fandango. Their revenue increased by 57% after they launched their mobile app in 2012. If you have an existing business or startup, implementing a native app that improves your business process may be a way to increase revenue.

6. Deliver a Service  

Uber is a great example of service delivery via a mobile app. In 2015, their revenue was estimated at $1.5 billion and they currently have a valuation of $62.5 billion.  Other examples of delivering a service via a mobile app are TaskRabbit and Doctors on Demand. For developers, one of the most requested types of apps is an Uber-style app. Essentially, the model involves connecting a resource to a demand, handling the transaction, and then taking a percentage of the transaction.

7. User Acquisition

If you look at WhatsApp and Instagram, they practically had no revenue model before getting acquired. What they had were a lot of users. At the time of their acquisition, WhatsApp had 600 million users and Instagram had 30 million users. Their apparent strategy was to acquire a lot of users then get acquired. WhatsApp was acquired for $19 billion and Instagram for $1 billion. Not bad for businesses with no revenue model.

If developing an app is part of your business strategy, then hopefully this article has helped you consider the right monetization model for your business plan and pitch.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Google Cardboard: The Best Mobile Apps of 2016

Google Cardboard

What’s Google Cardboard?

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Google Cardboard, it’s worth taking a look. For those who don’t know, Google Cardboard is a virtual reality platform that utilizes a cardboard head mount where you can  attach your smartphone.  It was designed to be a low cost virtual reality system with headsets that cost as little as $1.99.  In comparison, an Oculus Rift head set will cost around $1,000.  Moreover, developers can create their own applications using the Cardboard SDK.

Virtual Reality: You Have to See it to Understand

In his TEDx Talk, Chris Milk stated “Talking about virtual reality is like dancing about architecture.”  You have to see it to understand it.  To give it a try, you’ll need to purchase a cardboard headset.  Official Google Cardboard viewers can be purchased here.  They range from $15 to $120. On Amazon, you can find it as low a $1.99. If you’re lucky,  I’ve seen them given away as SWAG at startup conferences.

google-cardboard-wearable-virtual-reality-headset-640x0

Image Source: Digital Trends 

When you peep through its lenses, you experience a world generated via mobile app with the ability of displaying landscapes, film, video games and other multimedia formats. The Google Play Store offers a plethora of apps to choose from and is compatible with iPhone and Android devices.

After you’ve get your Google Cardboard headset, here are the best mobile apps that you can try:

iPhone Mobile Apps

unnamed

Image Source: VR Island Screenshot

Android Mobile Apps

DeepSpaceBattle_vr+cardboard+games

Image Source: Deep Space Battle Screenshot

With developers having access to the Google Cardboard SDK,  It will be interesting to see what innovative uses of Google Cardboard arises. If you still have your doubts about mobile apps, check out why the public sector needs a mobile strategy and how this could relate to the next generation of VR applications!

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

Who Owns the Source Code?

Source CodeA client had developed an app and asked us to do some minor work on their existing app. I told him that we would need access to the source code so the client went back to the original developer to get the source code only to find that the developer claimed the source code as his intellectual property and refused to provide it. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I’ve seen this source code ownership issue. Here are some of the implications of not having the source code to your app:

  • You are forever tied to the developer. Any modification, bug fix, or upgrade has to go through that developer. This is problematic because the developer could raise the price of development and is problematic if that developer becomes sick, busy with other projects, etc.
  • Raising funds or selling your project becomes more difficult because there’s a question of who owns the intellectual property.

Common Law

(Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer; if this is a concern, please get good legal counsel). In general, the author of content owns the copyright. In the case of a software developer, it’s the person physically typing on the key board to create the code. An exception occurs under the “Work for Hire” doctrine where the work is developed by an employee with the scope of their employment. However, when contractors are used, this becomes a little more unclear.

Personal Opinion

If I hire someone to buy a house, at the end of the project, I want the keys to it. In a similar fashion, if I pay someone to develop an app for me, I would expect to have the source code upon completion. At Apptology, this is our general policy. The exception is when we develop an app based off one of our templates. In which case, the template is our intellectual property.

Recommendations

If you are having an app developed by a contractor, have an open discussion about the source code ownership as part of the vetting process. If you don’t agree with their source code policy, move on. If you decide to go with that developer, make sure the ownership of the source code is spelled out in the contract.