Why apps are a business “must have”

imagesIncreasingly we turn to the web or an app for goods and services. Both provide the ideal shop window for any business wanting to be seen and heard. Apps have a further appeal because by their nature they are mobile.

Mobile media has become the number ONE media for consumers. To ignore this is to limit your business opportunities, reduce your market share and frankly, be left behind…the word on Commercial Street is written large and clear, get a mobile app, bring your website up to speed and link the two.

Smartphone ownership is growing. Here’s a quick check-list of the benefits of an app for business small or large, established or start up.

smartphone-sales-projection

  • An App will help grow your business, increase incomes, turnover and cash flow.
  • An app is always on, always available and always putting your brand in front of your customers.
  • An App will help promote your identity, your brand and your perceived image as modern and up to date. Your business icon will be visible on the user’s phone.
  • Add Push Notification and you have an immediate and easy to manage direct communication channel to those of your clients who have downloaded the app. For marketing departments this is the Holy Grail. Engage with your customers!
  • Apps will enable you to collect and collate information from your consumer base. What they like and what they want.
  • Retain existing customers by communicating with them through the app.
  • Keep updating the app either through inbuilt content management system or by refreshing content through your developer periodically.

Link the app to your website. A simple URL link will take your customers to your website where they can purchase goods, register their needs and more. All on the move. The mobile website in conjunction with the mobile app is here to stay and whilst many businesses have already seen the opportunities the combination offers, many are yet to adopt this beautiful synergy of app and website. In a couple of years the picture will be different as competition drives business’s investment into this channel. If they ignore it or leave it until later, their competitors will steal a march on them and grab market share. The advice from those who have already shifted gear would be;  act now, bring the app and website relationship to life for your business.

There are, in addition, a plethora of productivity apps which have helped business’s . The streamlining of working practice through communications and data collection, formatting and transmission in real time has sped up so many processes, reduced paper trails and increased overall efficiencies. Each month there are new releases and not all of these are distributed widely. There are many thousands of Enterprise release apps which have helped business’s gain an edge on their competitors.

Here at AppDevelopersUK we have created several business apps in this category and know from first hand testimony how powerful these apps can be out there in the field. One client commissioned us to create an app which links to their in house database of over 50 thousand component parts, each with a varying price. These can be schematically created on an iPad on the customer’s premises to give a real immediacy and to create a superb sales opportunity, whether it be fulfilling a need of the customer or up-selling. A business without an app is like a business without a website. Lost and rarely found.

 

Galaxy Glass

comedy galsses1Rumour has it that there may soon be a competitor for the much vaunted – though as yet unreleased- Google Glass . Tech Crunch for example suggest that  “Samsung is currently developing a Google Glass competitor, which is in fact provisionally named “Galaxy Glass,” set for launch in September at the annual IFA tech conference”

The news that Samsung is putting effort into a facially worn gadget with a provisional Galaxy Glass moniker, might re focus Google on getting its product into the mainstream as fast as possible. Fit to market with these innovations can be vital in grabbing the lion’s share of a market.

In some ways its surprising that this is the first rival bid for a spectacle based product. The Google glass concept has been well aired in the media for the past 18 months or more and opinions as to the likely success of the product vary widely.   A revised date for launch to the public is suggested to be in second half of 2014. But since there’s a chance that this could be” the next big thing” then why are there no alternative producers…until now that is. Perhaps the concept is tied up with patents and IP considerations…but in that case how would Samsung be moving into that space, after all they have plenty of experience jousting with their friends from Apple!

Come to think of it where are Apple in the whole Glass space wouldn’t we expect an iGlass product to be out sometime soon? Well nothing from Apple so far but perhaps they are watching the space carefully, seeing how the brave first movers get on and then maybe finessing their way into the space with some variation or other taking their design conscious consumers with them.

First mover advantage can count for a lot in certain markets but in the world of technology the most important factor is to put out a product the works, a product that is useful and one that doesn’t cost the earth. Well that’s all supposition…Meanwhile Google Glass is a well understood concept if not yet a mass worn product and Samsung are beginning the climb to market with a product which they might expect to be able to benefit from the phenomenal success of their mobile phone business which has grown stronger over recent years. One way or another the “Glass” is more than half full.

An Apple a day….

in app 1

An Apple a day….Apple have this week been forced to pay out 32.5 million dollars to settle a legal complaint about the company’s practices that allowed children to make purchases in mobile apps without parents’ permission. Apple themselves are reacting positively to help in this matter as reported in the Daily Tech recently. Whilst not exactly agreeing in the ruling, Apple have decided not to fight it and doubtless they will revisit their in app purchase mechanisms to ensure that the issue is resolved once and for all.

Well, ……big sigh and roll of the eyes. What on earth is going on here? Where does this leave us in a world where digital devices are increasingly user friendly and accessible?  Imagine, for instance, a scenario where a young child makes an actual phone call and orders up a luxury suite in the Ritz for 2 nights on his mother’s credit card. Who is responsible for allowing that transaction? The phone company for allowing this misuse of the phone? Or the credit card company for facilitating a payment via phone by a minor masquerading as their parent?  What if a young person accidentally cuts their finger off whilst opening a particularly tricky packet of crisps? The knife manufacturer surely should have safeguarded against that…or wait, how about we task the crisp manufacturer with taking a more responsible approach to packaging, ensure that its impossible to cut yourself whilst using scissors.

The ruling against Apple is one which seems to forget the role of the responsible adult. In this case the adult who had purchased the smart phone or tablet which has facilitated the act of purchasing some game add ons. The adult in this case who should be providing a moral grounding to the child and explaining that in app purchases are a “no no”. or more realistically ….. perhaps these in app elements can be purchased occasionally on a one by one permission basis….and on it goes. Those are the first few aspects we might expect a parent or a responsible adult to consider when handing over a connected device like that to a child.

inapp 2

But crucially if a parental responsibility is too much effort  there are other methods to prevent the risk. For example:

Use the settings of their device set to prevent such purchases. Thats the end of the risk. The discussion need go not further. problem solved.

Talk to their children, explain the issue./Apply rules of use.Suggest that the Lock Down will happen if the rules are broken.  Hold on a moment…. I just need to find someone’s grandmother and teach them how to suck eggs.

We practise this sort of basic approach with animals. Pet shop owners do not have the “damned puppy” – they sold to little Freddie’s mother only last week- returned with complaints of  “he ruined my carpet” or “he messed my lawn”…why not? Because Freddie’s Mother  applies some common sense and realises that the dog is not in fact responsible for his misdemeanour’s. Maybe he will be after he has been trained…… but even then the sensible approach would not be to hold the dog to account because…. the pet owner has the task of teaching the pet to avoid chewing the carpet or digging the grass. Hey ho…..

It would be great to know the logic that leads to the ruling against Apple. Thoughts from our readers please?

 

Innovative App Launched by NHS

iOS Simulator Screen shot 6 Aug 2013 10.10.22 (2)

nhs-preop-icon

Innovative App Launched by NHS

App Developers UK have developed a highly innovative new app on behalf of the NHS. The App is called Test Checker and it will tell clinicians which preoperative tests are recommended for adult surgical patients, according to the latest (June 2003) guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK.

The app works by allowing the user to enter the grade of the surgical procedure together with the ASA grade of the patient, the system(s) of co-morbidity and the age of the patient. The app uses this information to produce of the recommended tests as well as other tests to consider.

The app does not override the individual responsibility of health professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patients.

Using a very simple design the app is deliberately designed to appeal to both the patient and their clinician.

The app is available as a Free App on both Google play and on the Apple App Store, this app is expected to be a really tremendous tool for hospital practitioners.

Top 7 gadgets to increase home office productivity

Anyone who has tried to work from home, or who works from home on a regular basis knows how important the right home office set-up is. Setting up your home office correctly can mean the difference between productivity and procrastination. So, what are the gadgets you need to ensure productivity in your home office? You can visit iinet at iiNet.com.au to discover how to get the most out of your mobile devices.

Computer

One of the most significant gadgets in your home office will be your computer. Your computer should allow you to perform all the tasks you need to do at home, and it should be compatible with all the software you require. If you need portability, consider a laptop or netbook (which can be used with a monitor at home). And of course, make sure your internet connection is up to scratch as well.

Wireless Mouse

For some, a standard mouse is good enough. For those who want more, the Apple Magic Mouse could be a good option. It is wireless, it allows you to scroll in any direction, and it is multi-functional. As the Magic Mouse is battery-powered, it’s also a good idea to invest in rechargeable batteries and a charger. The Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX is another possible option.

Keyboard

Again, a standard keyboard is good enough for most jobs. However, comfort is also a factor, so you should choose a keyboard that is comfortable and gives you the functionality you need. There are various wireless keyboards, such as the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 (handily solar powered), or the Apple Wireless Keyboard, which is a Bluetooth-based chiclet keyboard.

Printer

Whether you need a printer will depend on your role, however, having a printer around is always useful. There are loads of different types of printers that you could get. If you want a simple, easy to use printer then you could check out something like the Ricoh Printers, or you could think about getting a multi-function printer such as the HP eStation printer, which allows for web browsing, printing, faxing without a phone line, copying and scanning. The detachable 7-inch touchscreen is pretty handy too.

Camera

If you need to videoconference to stay in touch, it’s a good idea to invest in a good camera. If you are using a laptop, it may be fitted with a good camera, or if you are videoconferencing on the move, the camera on your smartphone should do the job. If you are looking for a camera for your home computer, check out the FV TouchCam E1 or the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam.

Storage

Backing up your work is essential, so it’s important to find a storage solution that is reliable and secure. Try using a standard external hard drive, or for a more secure option try the Aegis Padlock Secure Drive with internal encryption and external PIN keypad. Alternatively, you could store your work in the cloud. Again, choose a cloud provider that is reliable and secure.

Some laptops come with security in mind (such as those seen here), and this can give you a head-start on the battle to secure your personal and financial life.

Phone

Communication is essential in business. Choose a phone that allows you to communicate on all required levels, such as email, social media, videoconference and of course, talk. While a smartphone is the go-to option for most people, a landline could be useful as well.

Additional Extras

These additions probably aren’t essential for everyone’s home office, but they can be handy!

  • Try out salesforce app integrations. This isn’t a gadget as such but is still tech related and extremely helpful to you because increases anything from your productivity to marketing to collaboration and beyond.

  • Cancel out unwanted sounds with noise-cancelling earphones such as Bose QuietComfort 15.

  • If you prefer some background noise, check out Coffitivity – a site that allows you to stream the quiet, comforting sounds of a coffee shop.

  • Need a Dictaphone, portable storage drive, music player and pen in one? Try the Echo Smartpen.

  • Coffee machine. Enough said.

Find it Fix it Love it – Official Press Launch.

 

fifili press launch banners 2AppDevelopersUK recently released Find it Fix it Love it, a smartphone app created on behalf of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (LBTH). This innovative app brings “people power” to the fore as it allows any member of the public to download a free app with which they can send positive or negative observations about their borough directly to their local authority. The LBTH team can assess the incoming submission and decide on appropriate actions. If there’s a broken paving stone, an upturned litter bit for instance, the appropriate service can be organised to tackle the issue.  On the other hand, if someone wants to report how much they like a particular flowerbed bench or other amenity, they can report this too. Everyone likes positive feedback and the LBTH is no exception.

We expect that this approach has added benefits of allowing the council to work in a highly efficient way, collecting useful information from the residents of the borough. In addition the feel-good factor between council and its residents is promoted because there is the sense of the local authority listening and acting upon news and information provided by its residents. The app enables a really useful channel of real communication to be developed with all participating residents. The app is available on both Apple and Google Play and the official press release is shown below.

Tower Hamlets Council launches Find it, Fix it, Love it App

Tower Hamlets Council has a new tool in its armory to further improve the appearance and maintenance of the borough in the shape of a new, innovative smart phone app, Find It, Fix It, Love It.

The Find it, Fix it, Love it app has been launched as part of the council’s commitment to making the borough an even cleaner and safer place to live, work or visit and will enable users to share what they love about the borough.
Through Find it, Fix it, Love it the council wants people to send pictures and share their thoughts of the many great aspects of the borough; anything from a special place or landmark, to a quirky shop or local character.

By using the app residents and visitors can also instantly tell the council about any issues that need addressing such as graffiti, fly tipping, broken play equipment, pot holes or over flowing bins.

Users simply take a picture of a problem and the app will pinpoint their location and send the details directly to the council’s environmental contractors, ensuring that problems are dealt with swiftly. The app also allows residents to highlight specific areas on the image or send comments and contact details if they want feedback, but this is optional, making the process very quick and simple.

Launching the app, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “Find it, Fix it, Love it” is simple to use and an innovative reporting approach for issues. The app will also be great for showing what people love about the borough. There are so many good things in Tower Hamlets and it will be fascinating to see what people think are our hidden gems.”

Cllr Shahed Ali, cabinet member for the environment, added: “The reporting side of the app will enable us to efficiently and effectively deal with problems. I encourage residents to help with reporting issues as we can’t be in all places at all times. I’m excited by the potential use of the app and the role it can play in reducing costs and improving efficiencies in dealing with clean and green issues.”

Jamie Blake, Service Head, Public Realm, said: “Find it, Fix it, Love it has been developed to meet the reporting needs of the mobile generation. The app is unique as it focuses on the positives of the borough whilst also allowing users to report problems that may occur. The app will hopefully capture the imagination and allow us to build a unique picture of Tower Hamlets through the eyes of our residents and visitors to the borough as they tell us why they “love it.”

The app has proved popular during the pilot phase with over 100 reports being made to date.

Download the Find it, Fix it, Love it app for free at the Apple App Store or via Google Play, search for FiFiLi. For more information about using the Find it, Fix it, Love it app visit www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/clean.
October 23, 2013

Facebook Rules.

Facebook Facebook Rules.Or to put that another way, “The Rules of Facebook” are in the news.

Freedom 

 Facebook has a positive role to play in social development, and its provision of a useful international platform for the often unheard voices of the oppressed is arguable more valid than the posting of endless selfies(sic) and other banter which  entertain so many millions of  Facebook users. Many would be quick to say that as well as a platform for the voices from politically or socially oppressed societies of the world, Facebook also has a social responsibility to try its best to avoid enabling some negative social impacts from the materials which it hosts. The current issue is that FB says they wish to allow the posting of videos of a horrifically violent nature because that’s how freedom and democracy works best. And that they need to allow people to post and view what they want in order to allow the unheard people to be heard and to spread knowledge of their plight.  The underlying motive sounds laudable; most of us are in favour of freedom and unchaining the oppressed.

Consistency

FacebookBut if that argument was to be accepted, then Facebook should be allowing ALL violent, pornographic, oppressive images which are posted on its servers for viewing by the Facebook community (1.1 billion at March 2013 –  a sixth of the world’s population give or take). Some observers might wonder what God like abilities and moral authority do Facebook hold which allows them to choose to show a decapitation but not to show a rape? Which committee or individual is making this judgement?

Is not the decapitation, like rape, an event which includes at least one unwilling participant, the victim? So what’s the fine distinction being drawn between that horrific spectacle (for a spectacle it is – its not informing a viewer of anything is it? merely confirming what they already knew to be a heinous act of depravity). But well, what’s the valuation to be put on other human activities which are so often captured on mobile phones these days.  Let’s not list these but a few obvious ones may raise an eyebrow or two. For instance the activity of a paedophile perhaps ranks as not permissible, but wait a minute…….. then how can the act of chopping another humans head off be deemed acceptable to Facebook?  It’s not necessary to list the various atrocities which recent war zones have thrown up, never mind what goes on behind closed doors in many societies throughout the world, but we all know there have been many and varied types of actions one human on another which would not pass muster for general viewing. What finessing of judgement makes the act of beheading (in one case a man beheading a woman) any more palatable than other acts of extreme depravity?

Debate

All of the above is of course open to discussion in a civilized society extreme views are heard as well as more mainstream thinking. There’s no civilization since the start of mankind, throughout the great epochs of history that has been untainted by these acts and therefore no one is above or beyond it. But on a simple practical level why would we, as a civilized society wish to be exposed to these images? More importantly why would we want our children to be exposed to these things? Don’t adults have a duty to protect the young of society? Obviously they do. That’s a social responsibility which society recognizes and backs up with many laws and punishments for those who transgress.

No doubt there are high powered psychological reasoning which would explain the possible effects of exposure to these images…. but surely it’s obvious. A fleeting glimpse of such an act can leave a long lasting impression of a kind and with ramifications we cannot know. Ramifications which may never come to the surface or ones which cause depression, solicitude and other unhappy outcomes for an individual but which cannot be traced back to any singular reason or event (as hard as the many caring agencies may try).

All these are arguably a heavy cost to wider society. The pornography of violence is a known area of contention and what is the Facebook policy other than a channel for exactly that? There’s no valid information being passed, no underlying communication, no revolutionary cry to be passed through the actions unveiled on the Facebook website. So what is their point?

Opinion

All views and insights welcome. Drop me  a line.It would be interesting to hear from anyone who can throw light on the reason for Facebook allowing this when they do, as they have demonstrated if not  boasted, have the technical ability to disallow such postings?  The fact that some things are allowed and some are not is indeed a very inconsistent policy. Surely this is common sense. If so why not apply that common sense? Whats your opinion?

 

XploreGhana! App from AppDevelopersUK

XploreGhanaHome

XploreGhana! App from AppDevelopersUK has just been released on both the Google Play and Apple app stores.

This is one of those apps that has been fun for our developers to work with. Its very simple and very useful for all those planning a trip to this fantastic country.  The app includes an RSS feed of news views and opinions about subjects relevant to the user. Rather than use further words describing it I will include a number of screenshots and a live link to both stores so that you can check it out for yourselves. It’s completely FREE to download.

Give it a try.XploreGhana!

XploreGhana4

XploreGhana3

Explore Ghana 22013-10-10 12.01.47

IFCS’s Foster Care App

IFCS’s Foster Care App - App Developers UK

IFCS’s Foster Care App - App Developers UK

Independent Foster Care Services have just released a smartphone app aimed at helping prospective foster carers.The iPhone app provides a valuable social service by bringing together various sources of information. These include pod casts of interviews, application forms and some tasters for the many training modules available.

The app gathers information for the user too, enabling the IFCS head office to make initial assessments and to follow up with appropriate individuals. Of course, the long term aim is to make Fostering a much less daunting process for those who have considered it. With this in mind the Advice Links are invaluable as in the general information about how to become a Foster Carer.

The look and feel of the app has been designed to be as straight forward as possible. The design is clean and navigation is completely intuitive with main menu features taking the user into each topic where a sub menu allows for further detail to be accessed. Here at App Developers UK we are proud to have been a part of this process and hope that by developing the app for IFCS we can help promote this service. If you know of anyone considering becoming a Foster Carer please point them in direction of the IFCS app
.

The Google Bill Settler

going-dutchThe Google Bill Settler is upon us, well its coming soon anyway….

You know how awkward it can be at the point in a meal when the bill is produced.  There are 4 of you and one of you didn’t have a sweet, or was driving so had nothing to drink. So the bill comes in and everyone is wondering “how are we going to split this up fairly?”. Well its easy if you can all agree to work it out and add up the parts you are responsible for and pay accordingly. But, in fact that’s the socially awkward part because no one likes to point out that “hey, I only has a salad!”.  So somehow it ends up unfairly split either someone pays too much or someone else pays too little.

Our friendly and ever present master of the digital Universe, Google, has now addressed the problem, has filed a patent for the technology and is working to release a smartphone app which tracks payment transactions between a group and works out who owes what exactly after a joint activity be it a meal, taxi or holiday. What’s more it takes care of the messy business of transferring funds between the respective accounts of these people in the group. But o make it work there is still a need to input the amounts involved and assign them to a joint account which has been set up for the purpose. Let’s hope there are no bugs, that could be a recipe for disaster. Well in my opinion this could cause more problems than it may solve so not one for immediate download. It just moves the argument a little bit further down the digital route instead of resolving the issues. It provides a neat way for doing the maths but the discussion still needs to be had as to who had what and who owes this that or the other.

Maybe this is the point I am coming to…apps cannot necessarily add to your quality of life. They may do, and they may seem essential in some cases and some situations but as consumers we need to be on our guard against spurious apps that simply digitise an issue rather than resolving it. perhaps this is being a little harsh…the proof will be in the pudding.(eek!)