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 combat wildfires, 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 wildfires
  • Notifying citizens of wildfires
  • Providing Information on California wildfires

Education

The main purpose of the app is to help educate the population in high risk 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 Guilde
    • When to evacuate
    • What to do when trapped

Cal Fire education

The app has 9 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 check list or in the video library.

Notifications

The user can sign up to receive wildfire notifications via push notifications and/or SMS messages in their profile.   The notifications can be based on zip code or counties.

Push Notifications

Push Notifications require the user to have the app.  What’s interesting about the push notification is that in addition to sending out a notification based on the user’s profile, it can also be triggered by the user’s geographic location.  So for example, if the user is in a location where CAL Fire has identified a fire, the user will get a push notification that there’s a fire in the location even if it’s not identified in their profile.   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 and there’s a feed from CAL FIRE’s Twitter account.  In addition, there’s a Google Map that displays all the active wildfires in California.

Cal Fire Info

CAL FIRE plans to promote the app in February in advance of the 2017 wild season through a sweepstakes administered by iHeartRadio.  The CAL FIRE app was developed through a partnership with Sagent Marketing and Apptology.

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.

 

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.

5 Reasons Public Sector Organizations Should Have a Native Mobile App in 2016

In a previous post, I discussed why public sector organizations and non-profits should adopt a mobile strategy and briefly mentioned that they should consider developing a native mobile app. In this article, I give five reasons why a public sector organization should develop a native mobile app.

Native Mobile App Advantage #1: Deliver Mobile Friendly Content

One of the benefits of a native mobile app is that it will deliver mobile friendly content. Any information that is displayed on the organization’s website can be repurposed and added to an app so it can be easily read on a smart phone. When adding content, it’s important to remember there’s limited real estate so you need to pick content that’s most used. Content that is rarely viewed on the web site doesn’t have to be included in the app.

6-7-2016 11-40-07 AM

Native Mobile App Advantage #2: Convenience:

Smart Phone users spend 80% of their time using apps vs. 20% of time on the web. I think a big reason is convenience. Think about it: Would you rather use the Facebook app or launch Safari to access it? If you have content on your website that is regularly accessed, you should strongly consider developing an app to make it more convenient for your users.

Native Mobile App Advantage #3: Push Notifications

One of the most powerful features that can be found on an app is the ability to send out push notifications. Push notifications have a read rate around 80%. Compare that to email which has a dismal read rate of 22%. If you think about it, if your phone vibrates, you instinctively glance down to see if it’s an important message. That’s the power of mobile which is why apps are only going to increase in popularity.
Mobile-Engagement-When-Push-Comes-to-Shove

Image Source: PUBL 

Native Mobile App Advantage #4: App Smartphone Capabilities

A native mobile app has the ability to leverage smartphone’s capabilities. For public sector organizations and non-profits, some of the things to consider include:

GPS: The ability to provide directions and show resources on a map

Push Notifications: Refer to Native Mobile App Advantage #3

Camera: A picture says a thousand words. The ability to send an image provides faster communication

Tap to Communicate: The ability to tap the screen for emails, calls, and text really facilitates communication

7d39e3e5-c2f4-4c3e-b268-7867800d8856

Image Source: Fasturtle

Native Mobile App Advantage #5: Offline Mode

Probably the biggest advantage of an app over mobile web sites is the ability to work offline. A mobile web site needs an internet connection to function in comparison to an app that can function without Internet access. This is best for a population that either has unreliable data connection or for economic reasons cannot afford a Wi-Fi data plan.

A native app is a communication tool for their customers which if used and promoted properly can become a valuable asset to any public sector organization or non-profit.

 

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.

Winners from the 2016 Apple Design Awards

As part of Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) currently being held in San Francisco, 12 talented developers were recognized as having the best designs. The Annual Apple Design Awards has been in effect for nearly 2 decades and it seems that each year gets better and better. Below are highlights of the winners. If you didn’t see Apple’s product announcements on the first day of WWDC, read that blog first to get the latest.

Exclusive Medical App: Complete Anatomy

This one of a kind anatomical app, 3D4Medical Complete Anatomy, generates quality 2K and 4K resolution displays of the human body internally and externally. Currently available on iPad, this hardware renders 3D anatomy managing the CPU and GPU to eliminate lag and offer accurate visuals for medical scholars and professionals.

complete-anatomy2-720x720

Lifestyle Management App: Streaks

Essentially a digital regimen platform, Streaks encourages its users to become more organized and develop productive habits. Complete with intelligent timing, customized complications and set notifications, this app is perfect for time and life management. Only available for iPhone and Apple Watch.

Fitness Training App: Zova

This app is for the exercise fanatic or workout wannabe complete with training instruction and crisp video. In hopes of motivating users to establish a healthy routine to stay and/or keep in shape, Zova is available for iPhone, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

zova-720x720

Video Creation and Critique App: Frame.io

This beautifully crafted video collab platform, Frame.io,  allows groups of people to work together and seamlessly handle the filming process. Its phenomenal visual design, motion effects, supportive auto layout and 3D touch quick actions work hand in hand with Swift while effectively facilitating Final Cut Pro X. Presently on iOS.

Writing Wizard App: Ulysses

Available for Mac, iPhone and iPad, this cutting-edge text editor, Ulysses, is in perfect alignment with demands from creative authors, students and journalists. It comes with a handful of nifty features but the most exciting are its device handoff and iCloud synching capabilities.

Engaging Videogame App: Chameleon Run

Developed by Noodlecake Studios, Chameleon Run is an eye-catching auto-running videogame that is easy to use yet difficult to put down. Compatible with 8 different languages, Chameleon run works with the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

chameleon-run-720x720

Classic RPG App: Lara Croft GO

Currently on iOS, Square Enix Inc., Lara Croft Go keeps the tomb raiding character alive with a modern look while maintaining some traditional elements. Utilizing Metal to render, it’s compatible with Game Center and iCloud that both offer highly responsive playability.

Truly State of the Art App: INKS

INKS is a unique app effectively blends vintage pinball with paint. It starts out as any digital pinball game would but the as the ball collides with its surroundings, explosions of hues mix with the trailing colors that follow. This gives a whole new meaning to the term “paintball.”

Music Production App: Auxy

With more than 5,000 5-star ratings, Auxy offers a high quality music creation experience completely integrated with Core Audio for its users. Written with simplistic Swift coding, Auxy’s user-friendly nature and contemporary appeal gets people composing in no time.

auxy-720x720

Disc Junkie App: Djay Pro

Djay Pro incorporated over 70 iPad Pro Keyboard shortcuts, cloud content synching, enhanced multi-tasking abilities with even more mix/master functions via desktop. This expansive platform comes with full VoiceOver compatibility.

Puzzle Processing App: Linum

Linum’s smooth UI allows users to quite literally connect the dots through an engaging layout while gradually increasing its level of difficulty. Moreover, it effectively uses standard system technologies such as StoreKit and CoreData.

Retro Arcade App: Dividr

This 2D arcade game makes players guide illuminated squares around obstacles while racking up points in the process. With such a simple concept, Dividr is actually very intriguing.

dividr-720x720

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.

Image Sources: Digital Trends 

Why the Public Sector Needs a Mobile Strategy in 2016

public-sector-mobility1

Image Source: Open Ratio

Let’s face it; the public sector tends to drag their feet with recognizing opportunity which is why many organizations overlook the power of mobile technology. There are several reasons why non-profits and public sector organizations need to adopt a mobile strategy.

Mobile Technology is here to Stay

The main reason that a mobile strategy needs be adopted is that the population has already adopted mobile. In the few short years following the debut iPhone, these devices have had unprecedented growth. There are lots of studies and statistics to prove this point. My favorite is that there are more mobile devices than there are people in the world.

Mobile searches exceed desktop searches

Recently Google reported that there are more searches done on a mobile device than from a desktop computer. This is significant because it represents a tech trend that needs to be acknowledged and adopted. If more people are depending on mobile for their needs, it would make sense to have an effective mobile strategy.

Google’s algorithm favors mobile friendly web sites

In 2015, Google changed their algorithm that a search done on a mobile device will favor mobile friendly websites. Based on points 2 and 3, organizations that have a mobile friendly web site will have an advantage over those that don’t.

colorful-3d-technology-background-vector

Image Source: Deluxe E-Vectors

Mobile may be the only means of internet access

In a recent study, mobile was the only means of access to the Internet for 23% of families below the poverty level. So for organizations that deal with providing social services, a significant part of the population they serve can only access the internet via mobile device.

Web sites designed for desktops are difficult to navigate from mobile phone

A good example is the California WIC web site. This web site is hard enough to navigate on a desktop computer. If you are in the WIC program, there’s a slight chance that the only internet connection you have is through a mobile device. Try navigating the WIC web site with your smart phone and experience what it looks like to have a poor mobile strategy.

mobile-power

Image Source: Mobloggy

When developing a mobile strategy, there are 3 elements to consider:

Develop a mobile friendly website

This will address points 2 and 3 previously discussed.

Communicate via SMS

I see a lot of communication from the Public Sector done via email marketing. Sadly, with an open rate of only 22%, it’s really a futile way to communicate. SMS, on the other hand, has a read rate of 98%. The good news is that there are a lot of SMS marketing tools out there that are relatively inexpensive. I’ve actually seen a couple of organizations that realize that SMS is a better way to communicate and employees end up using their personal mobile devices to send out text messages.

Develop a mobile app

An app can be a very effective tool to communicate with the population served by a public sector organization. A mobile app that is used specifically for a platform or device is what’s called a “native app.” The reasons an organization should have their own native app are numerous and as such, I plan to write a future post on why a public sector organization would need a native app.

UYODImage Source: Esign Live

Businesses will continually develop more simplified mobile solutions to increase work efficiency and communication. One way or another, this is the direction the future holds. I want you to take advantage of this trend by staying ahead of the curve and strategize how to most effectively integrate mobile. If you manage a public sector organization, I hope this post gave you some food for thought on why you need to adopt a mobile strategy and how to go about it. If you want to read on some of the common challenges in the mobile community, check out my personal insight as a modern day appreneur. 

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. 

3 Steps to Develop Your Mobile App Idea

You’ve been thinking about an idea that you think can be the next Uber for weeks. So what do you do? Here are three steps you can take that will help you develop your idea.

1. Research Your Mobile App Idea:

The first thing you want to do with your idea is to research it. I had a client that spent a considerable amount of time having me do an NDA dance before speaking with me. Once we finally started talking, I quickly did a search on the Apple App Store and found there were over 25 similar apps listed; he quickly lost interest in pursuing this project.

Keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world if you find another app that does what you’re trying to accomplish. You just have to figure out how to make your app better. Remember, before Google there was Yahoo; Before Facebook, there was MySpace. It’s not so much who goes to market first, but rather who executes best.

In doing your research, you need to also look at the market potential. For example, let’s say you had an app that was geared for veterinarians. A quick Google search shows that there are 90,000 veterinarians in the U.S. Now, you just identified your market potential.

Developing-Your-Mobile-App

Image Source: AppsCollections

2. Create Storyboard for Your Mobile App:

Now it’s time to put your idea down on paper and develop a storyboard (or wireframe). This is where the rubber hits the road and you put yourself in the shoes of the user. For instance, what’s the first thing they see once they launch your app? The first screen takes you to the main menu; the user taps the top button, where does it take the user? And so on.

To create our wireframes, our designers use a design tool called Balsamiq. I send our clients a PowerPoint template where they can either use PowerPoint’s drawing tools or they can even print it out and hand draw it.

The advantage of creating a storyboard are:

  • It helps develop your idea
  • You have something to show as you try to recruit people or investors
  • Provides direction for your development team

storyboard-login

Image Source: spordipartner

3. Develop Mobile App Business Plan:

After you’ve done the research and developed a storyboard, if you decide you have something viable, you need to put together a business plan. After you’ve followed these 3 steps diligently, I suggest reading the 5 Challenges of a Startup Appreneur to know what you’re up against and strategize accordingly. Good luck on your start up journey as you recruit co-founders, get funding, etc.

 

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.