Highlights From the 2017 Apple WWDC

Apple held their annual WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in San Jose, CA on June 5, 2017.  Tim Cook, Apple CEO, kicked off the keynote to 5,000 developers  by declaring this will be the biggest WWDC (I had to chuckle because he says this every year).  Here are the things I found interesting in the two hour and half hour keynote.

 

Apple HomePad

As predicted, Apple announced, HomePad, which directly competes with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.  They positioned it as a cross between a high end wireless speaker (specifically comparing it to Sonos) and voice assistant (aka Amazon Echo).   They spent a lot of time focusing on the quality of the speakers and it seem like the voice assistant was more of an add-on.   I think they did so to justify the $350 price tag to differentiate it from the other voice assistants which are substantially less expensive.

 

VR Support

I have to admit, whenever they do the hardware demo at the keynotes, I usually find it cliché …wait for it…it’s the most power Mac ever (duh).  What was interesting was their demo of a Star Wars virtual reality scene being developed by Industrial Light and Magic.   Apple is not known for being a gaming platform but they’ve beefed up the iMac Pro to accommodate VR development .

 

Send and Receive Money with Apple Pay

In demoing the updates to iMessage, Apple showed the ability to send and receive money through Apple Pay.  Wait a second; that sounds like Venmo.  Looks like the Peer-to-Peer payment space just got a big competitor.

 

ARKit

One of the more interesting and exciting things I saw as developer is Apple’s announcement of ARKit .  This allows developers to make Augmented Reality apps for the iOS.  For those of you unfamiliar with AR, Pokemon Go is an example.  It will be interesting what developers will do with ARKit.

 

watchOS 4 features Machine Learning

One of the faces of watchOS 4 is that it will use machine learning to display relevant info to the user.  Pretty cool, but I still don’t plan to wear a watch any time soon (why do I need a watch when I already have an iPhone).

There was actually a lot more stuff announced at the keynote.  This was just  the things I found interesting.  To see the entire keynote, just click here.

 

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.

Tips for Apple App Store Marketing

appstoremarketingapptology

The app marketplace is highly profitable, highly competitive, and highly cluttered. Because of this, app developers absolutely need an app store marketing strategy to realize success in the app marketplace. Optimizing your application for success in the app marketplace should be a vital part of your overall app development strategy.

App Store Marketing Tips

According to a Statista worldwide mobile app revenue forecast, 41.1 Billion dollars in revenue was generated from mobile apps worldwide in 2015. This year, app revenue is on track to reach 50.9 Billion dollars. Even more astounding, 2020 is projected to see over 101.1 Billion dollars in mobile app revenue worldwide. With this continued rise in profitability, the app market will continue becoming cluttered with an influx of mobile applications. Here are some tips on developing a rock solid Apple App Store marketing strategy to ensure your app stands out:

Identify Your Advantage

Lay out your competitive advantage clearly and concisely. No one is going to read a long-winded statement about your app. They want to know exactly how the app is unique, what problem it solves, and how it improves on what’s already on the market.

Is the Price Right?

When pricing your app, find the sweet spot. You can decide between different pricing models depending on what kind of app you are looking to build. For example, some popular pricing models include flat price to download, in-app purchases, and in-app advertising. Charging to download is going to limit the amount of people who download your app since a free download is almost always more alluring to the user. In-app purchases allow the user to download the app for free and pay for upgrades within the application. The feasibility of this will vary depending on the nature of the application. In-app advertising is another popular pricing model. This model keeps the application free to the user in exchange for them viewing advertisements. Finding the right pricing model will depend on how you want users to interact with the application.

App Store Optimization

App store optimization (ASO) is very similar to its web-based counterpart strategy, SEO. ASO involves making sure that your app is showing up first for relevant keywords within the app store. Most users download an app after using the Apple App Store’s search feature. Therefore, your app will get lost in the marketplace if it isn’t showing up for related keyword phrases. A successful ASO strategy requires:

A common-sense title: According to app development company Enola Labs:

People sometimes forget just how important choosing the right title really is. For one, your app title will give you the heaviest search traffic. Second, you don’t want to have to change your title; It’s extra work, updates take time for Apple to process and most importantly it hurts any progress you’ve made in any initial marketing efforts.”

So, don’t get too creative with your app title. The title should be searchable and include the targeted keyword.

Bullet point features: Quick, important details about your application that will help the user decide if they want to download it or not.

Relevant keywords:  Because relevant keywords are so important, be sure to include specific keywords that relate to your application and its functionality.

High-Quality Screenshots: These help the user “experience” the application before deciding to download.

Your Marketing Strategy Will Evolve

Most of all, it is important to note that the app store is still very young and will continue to evolve. Therefore, your app store marketing strategy needs to continue to evolve right alongside it.

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.

50 Years of Star Trek: Highlights of Some Predictions and Inspirations

The crew of the Starship Enterprise began their voyage 50 years ago, airing for the first time on September 8, 1966. As I kid, Star Trek was my favorite show. When my cousins and I would play Star Trek, I would always play Scotty, the miracle working engineer. In many ways, Star Trek was influential to me personally. My decision to go into engineering and join the U.S. Navy were both inspired in part by Star Trek. In honor of Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary, I would like to highlight a few of the predictions and inspirations that have arisen from Star Trek.

Diversity in the Work Force

If you watch the original series now, you probably wouldn’t think twice about the crew’s cultural diversity.  However, the crew’s diversity was unheard of the 60’s and included Lieutenant Uhuru (a black woman), Lieutenant Sulu (an Asian), and Ensign Chekov (a Russian). If you look at the times, the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, the United States was also in the middle of both the Vietnam War and the Cold War. In comparison, Star Trek’s closest contemporary, Lost in Space, had an all-white cast. Star Trek had an optimistic view that in the future we would all learn to resolve our differences and work together.

startrekcrew

The Cell Phone

I was watching Star Trek with my niece and when Captain Kirk pulled out his communicator, my niece commented, “How cute, a flip phone.” Interestingly enough, Dr. Martin Cooper inventor of the first hand held phone admits his inspiration came from Star Trek. In addition, Motorola’s first flip phone, the StarTAC, looked remarkably like a Star Trek communicator.

The iPad

When the iPad first came out, it reminded me of Star Trek’s PADD (Personal Access Data Display). Interestingly enough, when Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, first demo-d the iPad, he showed the rebooted Star Trek Movie as an example of a video that could be watched. In a recent History Channel documentary, 50 Years of Star Trek, it was revealed that Apple approached Star Trek to license the “PADD” name.

The Tricorder

The Tricorder was a medical device used by Dr. McCoy to diagnose his patients. The Tricorder has yet to be invented. However, XPRIZE has a $10 M Tricorder Challenge which is an open competition to develop a “Tricorder device that will accurately diagnose 13 health conditions (12 diseases and the absence of conditions) and capture five real-time health vital signs, independent of a health care worker or facility, and in a way that provides a compelling consumer experience.” Results for the competition will be announced in 2017.

The Space Shuttle

The Starship Enterprise would use Shuttlecrafts to ferry crew members to a planet when they couldn’t use a transporter.  In 1972, when NASA began to develop a re-usable spacecraft, they called it the Space Shuttle Program. The prototype for the shuttle program was originally to be named the “Constitution.” After receiving hundreds of thousands of letters from devoted Trekkies, President Ford requested the prototype to be renamed “Enterprise.”

Star Trek creator, Gene Rodenberry, had an optimistic view that humanity will overcome the challenges that threaten to destroy us and travel to the stars. After 50 years, Star Trek is still going strong in books, video games, movies and television.   For you inspiring entrepreneurs looking for an idea for your next startup, try watching a couple episodes of Star Trek.

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.

Announcements from Apple’s WWDC Keynote 2016

Image Source: Mac Rumors

On June 13th 2016, Apple’s first day of its annual WWDC Keynote Conference  was held in San Francisco, CA making some new and exciting announcements to its four pillars: watchOS (Apple Watch), tvOS (Apple TV), OS X (macOS), and iOS (iPhone/iPads). The event will continue until the 17th of June. Most of these items and updates will launch during Fall of this year.

watchOS 3 Updates

-Upgraded app downloads for optimized performance

-Dock interface that allows users to easily manage multiple apps that are open

-New and improved faces for watch

-Face exchange allowing users to cycle between watch faces based on preference

-New “Scribble” function allowing easy fingertip swiping

-Advanced support for wheelchair users

Image Source: Gadgets Global

tvOS Updates

-“Single Sign in” eliminates having to manually login to each AppleTV app

-“Dark Mode” for night owls or those that prefer a dim looking screen

-Automatically downloads associated AppleTV app after downloading iPhone video app

-Advanced “Siri Voice” search capabilities

Image Source: multimedia.bbycastatic

iPhone Updates

-iPhone now has remote control capabilities

-Emulates touchpad letting users to easily manage AppleTV’s Interface

-Utilize iPhone’s keyboard on AppleTV

-Gyroscope now can be used as a game controller

-Advanced lock screen and 3D touch support; “deep press” for more app details and simply move body away from phone to lock

-Automatic voicemail transcriptions

iPhone Updates

-New “Swift Playgrounds” allows users to get their feet wet in coding by offering how-tos, tutorials, and user-friendly lectures for the building blocks of app development

Image Source: 9to5mac

OS X Updates

-Rebranding OS X to simply macOS  (first name change in over a decade)

-Upcoming OS will be called macOS Sierra

-Auto-unlocking capabilities; Sierra can detect when you’re next to it by identifying your iPhone or watchOS

-copy and paste between any device; copy something from iPhone and paste into Sierra

-Advanced storage space reduction capabilities; removes temp files, old mail, etc. while auto-downloading when needed

Apple Pay integration allowing complete secure and anonymous transactions with fingerprint authentication

Picture in Picture (PIP) allowing seamless window management; watch YouTube while working without taking up space on screen

-Advanced “Siri Voice” capabilities; from generic to complex queries

-Debut of iOS 10; Craig Federighi said it will be “the biggest iOS release for users ever”

Image Source: CultofMac

Widget Updates

-Access an app’s widgets by 3D touching its icon

Siri Voice Updates

-Integrates Siri Voice for 3rd party apps

QuickType Updates

-If someone asks via SMS, “What will the weather be like this week?” QuickType will conduct an automated search and provide an accurate response

VoIP Updates

-Skype and WhatsApp will now be integrated eliminating outdated notifications when people call

Map Updates

-Maps will now have the ability to access your schedule and whereabouts to provide accurate directions

“Extensions” enabling users to integrate 3rd party apps to easily call Uber for example

Image Source: SearchEngineLand

Apple Music Updates

-Better appearance and easier navigation capabilities

HomeKit Updates

-The standard app for smart home/IoT devices now has features such as “Night Mode” that automatically locks your doors and dims the lights

iMessage Updates

-Online previews of links rather than an ugly url code

-Auto-emoji matching with text; type in “happy” and a correlating emoji will pop up

-Invisible ink; messages that will only appear when you allow via swipe

-3rd party access; allowing developers to incorporate their use into messages. For example, pay a recipient within messages via Square Cash

 

If you do decide to use “Swift Playgrounds” to develop your own mobile app, check out the 5 challenges commonly experienced by a modern appreneur to stay ahead of the curve. We don’t know about you, but we are excited for Fall to experience Apple’s new products firsthand. Check out Apple’s official website for more information and ordering process!

 

 

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.

iOS 7 is coming! iOS 7 is coming! iOS 7 is…

Like a modern day Paul Revere (or Chicken  Little  depending on how you view it), I would like to remind you that iOS 7 is coming sometime this month.  I’ve heard  rumors that the  launch will coincide with their big announcement on September 10, 2013 which we all believe will be the  debut of the next iPhone.

So what’s the  big deal?  Well in general, we find that that with any major upgrade with iOS, things tend to break with existing apps.  From personal experience, the very first app  that I worked on, the upgrade from iOS 2 to 3 broke half my audio files in the app.  Our development team had to work overtime to fix the problem and resubmit the app to  Apple.  We’ve done some testing on the apps  we developed against  iOS 7 beta and we found that the upgrade has caused some problems.

First order of business is insuring functionality.  So, if you already have an iOS app developed,  to be proactive, contact  your developer and ask them to test against iOS 7.  If they find any issues, have them fix it.  In terms of timing, you also have to remember that Apple typically takes  2 weeks to review an app (even upgrades to an existing app).

Skeuomorphic vs. Minalimist

Skeuomorphic vs. Minimalist

Longer term, you may want to consider redesigning  your app to match iOS 7’s minimalist design.  Currently, iOS 6 uses a Skeuomorphic design (where functions mimic real world objects) .  iOS 7, on the other hand,  will embrace a minimalist design.

More  importantly, in redesigning your app for iOS 7, you should consider leveraging some of the new iOS 7 features.

If you have an app  on the Apple App Store, hopefully, you’ve been aware of the debut of iOS 7 and have already prepared for it.  If you haven’t, I  recommend contacting your developer and ask them to test your app against iOS 7.

Cheers,

Rich Foreman

CEO / Apptology