Our old (and trusty) website was turned off today after serving us for almost 8 years (we know right!). It’s been long overdue an overhaul but with client commitments and new projects we’ve just not managed to find the time to really work on our own projects.

Today, we are pleased to unveil our new, fully responsive desktop and mobile website, designed and developed by us (with a little help from WordPress!), that highlights a new direction for Pipe & Piper Ltd. With our new logo and branding, we feel this better depicts the type of work we do and the people we work with.

Although it’s still not perfect and there’s a ton more tweaking and content to add we felt it just couldn’t wait any longer! We hope you like what you see!

Harnessing technology to improve sustainability is increasingly becoming a top priority for businesses across all industries. A recent PwC study revealed that by using AI systems across their operations, global agriculture, transport, energy and water sectors could contribute to a 4% reduction of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

One industry that is emerging at the forefront of sustainability is the data centre industry. While driving energy efficiencies delivers benefits back to the business, it also has a positive impact on clients and of course, our environment. Any good data centre business knows that taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of their facility is essential, but how are the best ones already responding to this challenge?

You can read CloudTech’s full article on this here

Working closely with the NHS Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, our mobile applications and cloud statistical systems are enabling better training and feedback for doctors and patients.

We have recently been tasked with designing and developing a cross-platform mobile application for use on smartphones and tablets that will enable doctors, nurses, surgeons, practitioners, GP’s and other administrative staff to quickly and accurately log all activity undertaken. Additionally the software will also be the basis for feedback and reporting during training sessions within STH for students training for their specialities.

The applications will also allow doctors to anomalously take patients email in order to forward on feedback surveys so the STH as a whole can obtain a full breakdown of how their medical staff are performing through the eyes of their patients.

Ultimately, the overall aim for the project over the coming years is to help the NHS understand what areas need improvement in order to provide a better and more efficient service for trainee doctors and patients alike.

Our work with the Xcite Education team on a project entitled Zapp2Learn has earned its right for a 5* certification award from the Education App Store.

Zapp2Learn is a project that was developed by us here at Pipe & Piper and Xcite Education that teaches phonics by guiding children through an easy to use app. It uses images and speech related to all phonics taught in the UK’s national curriculum for key stage 1.

The app utilises QR codes and provides and exciting platform of interaction for children of all ages. It teaches phonics in a fun new way, bringing the mobile app and traditional paper-based learning together for the first time in education. Zapp2Learn teaches phonics by guiding the child through an easy to use app, which has images and speech related to all phonics taught in the UK’s national curriculum for key stage 1. The child interacts with the app in a fun new way, by scanning printed documents called Zapp Sheets, creating a fun, unique experience for the child.

The Zapp2Learn project is still in its early stages but Josh Thompson at the Education App Store has high hopes;

“Who ever said “print is dead”?! Zapp2Learn app has revived the printed medium through the clever use of QR codes. Learners are required to scan the correct letters’ QR code to fill in the gap and correctly spell the word represented in the accompanying image. While this doesn’t sound like an exciting concept – trust me it is!”

“Although the QR code features make this a distinctive phonics app due to its increase in learn engagement, the real value within this software comes from its progress reporting features. Teachers and parents can log into the website to view each individual users reports, an outstanding feature for teachers to track their individual students progression and where their students may need additional support (reports can be viewed online or downloaded in the form of excel spreadsheet enabling teachers to document work undertaken).”

“Although the admin section found within the Zapp2Learn website leaves a little to be desired from an experience perspective, it is a great feature for one main admin to be able to login and see how everyone is using the app specifically when it comes to setting work outside the classroom. “The dog ate my homework” will become an excuse of the past. The app does have a few kinks that need ironing out, but the value and level of engagement this app provides is second to none.”

We will continue to work with the Xcite Education team to improve the Zapp2Learn app further and hope that it really does help shape the future of learning.

As mobile apps become more and more popular it’s important that your chose the right platforms for your markets. If your customers are in the app marketplace then iPhone or Android based systems will be your best bet. Alternatively working within the public sector means that Blackberry should be your desired platform.

What are app markets?

Here at Pipe & Piper we always like to inform our clients of the latest trends and mobile information. This week we’ve put together the UK mobile market share to give you an insight into how popular the varying platforms have become. This latest information was sourced this month by the leading global internet technology and market share statistics firm; www.netmarketshare.com

57.6% – Apple iPhone iOS
37.2% – Google Android
2.3% – Windows Phone
2.1% – Blackberry
0.6% – Amazon Kindle
0.2% – Other

What does this mean?

As you can see the results make for an intriguing read! Apple’s iPhone hold over 50% of the entire market in the UK with Google’s Android platform coming in a close second. Both combined they hold almost 95% of the entire market!

Blackberry and Microsoft’s Windows Phone have less than 5% of the entire market which is quite astounding. You may have though that the figures would reflect different results before reading this article. You may even believe that this can’t possibly be right, especially if you have friends and family that use Blackberry and Windows Phones but the truth is the market place is dominated by Apple’s iPhone and iPad platform; iOS with Google’s smartphone and tablet OS; Android coming in a close second.

However, this isn’t bad news for you! Designing mobile apps for iPhone development and indeed Android is the cheapest and most cost effective due to their popularity.

App developers in Sheffield…

As iPhone and Android developers in Sheffield South Yorkshire, we are constantly being asked to build mobile apps for the smaller market share. People generally like to be all inclusive but don’t always perhaps appreciate the costs involved when doing so. We always like to be up-front with our clients and so always suggest that they design the app and develop it for the popular markets first. If this proves to be really successful and they have a high demand for the likes of Blackberry or Windows Phone then we can look at designing for these platforms at that point.

You may think it’s more cost effective to do everything at once, you may even have the budget to so but we think you’d be much better spending this additional budget on marketing your iOS and Android apps. Why? Well due to the complex nature in which Blackberry and Windows aps are created nothing is particularly transferrable between projects so it actually makes no difference when they put together. However, good marketing that supports your app in the marketplace will give you huge benefits, ones that can see your app fly to the top of the ‘most downloaded’!

So if you’ve got a mobile app then visit our apps page to find out more, you’ll be surprised how cost effective they can be. Or if you just want to chat about your ideas, call us and one of our team would be more than happy to help.

There has already been a tectonic shift in the way we view content on the web. The mobile web isn’t the future it’s the present and for any business to ignore the demand that’s clearly there is simply madness.

If you owned a shop, you wouldn’t turn away people in blue t-shirts, would you? So why if your business relies on traffic from your site would you not cater for mobile devices as well? 33% of us Britain’s use our mobile phone to access the internet everyday! Don’t stick your head in the sand!

Don't stick your head in the sand with mobile websites

Smartphone Snowballing

Where ever we walk we nowadays we have access to the internet on our phones through 3G or WiFi, the technology inside these smartphones is advancing constantly and allows to now carry around a mini super computer in our pocket.

Did you know that 43.5% of all Americans access the internet through their mobile phone and that 25% of these people use the internet daily. Fascinatingly the people of India are using mobile phones (60%) more than the traditional desktop computer (40%).

In the not too distant future smartphones and Tablets will be the device of choice for people in the UK. This is why you need to think about getting your business to cater for mobile and tablet devices now!

Desktop Demand Declining

In 8 years the shipment of PCs worldwide has declined by 75%, during this time mobile devices have seen huge increases. The total of mobile devices now surpasses the PC shipments by 200,000 million units per year. These figures help demonstrate that the internet is only going to go one way, “mobile“. It’s estimated that in 2015 the desktop computer will only take up 18% of computer sales.

Impact on Search Engines

If you have a “Responsive Website” (a website that has specific layouts for different devices) most search engines (eg: Google) will reward you in the search results page. Google now serves a different set of results depending on the device your using, so it’s important to make sure your website is not being overlooked.

User Interface Benefits

As well as having a positive impact on search engines results, responsive web design can also help users navigate on large websites with a more user-friendly interface. Thus allowing them navigate through the content of a website faster and easier. A great example is websites that have huge blocks of text, these blocks can be hidden away under sub headings to improve readability. There are many case studies; most notably the Amazon one, that show that after introducing support for mobile devices, that they have a dramatically increased their sales figures.

smartphone

Mobile App Explosion

The demand for mobile apps is also constantly increasing. It’s estimated that global revenue from mobile apps will exceed £16 billion this year, which is a 63% increase from last year. The idea that your business could own an app and then this app will sit inside the pocket of it’s users and acts as a constant marketing reminder, this potential is absolutely priceless! The idea of apps is mainly to give more power to the user. By empowering them they can generate and interactive with dynamic content more easily than ever before, with just one touch of a button, you can now send a tweet out to thousands of people across the world.

For an app to be successful, it’s need to both hook and compel the user. The longevity of an app is determined by how often the user will want to use it. It’s imperative to place a post launch strategy in order to keep your app popular.

To reach one million users it took…

  • AOL – 9 Years – [visit]
  • Facebook – 9 Months [visit]
  • Draw Something – 9 Days [visit]

Mobile App Infographic

Earn Extra Income from Mobile Apps

Apps are a great way to earn extra revenue for your business. If you have an innovative idea that could be harnessed through technology, an app is an ideal starting point. If you get your app idea developed you need to start getting people to download it. A great way to get noticed is to give your app the most polished look possible as users are more likely to consider a professional looking app more enticing. New apps can also sometimes become featured for the day that there released, so this another good reason to make sure your app is ready when you do release it!

Get your app developed

Blog Sources:

It’s a new year and we’re ready to embrace some of the latest movements in the industry. Last year we noticed an overwhelming acceptance for the multitude of devices now on offer and 2014 definitely boasts increased awareness of this. Check out Pipe & Piper’s “ones to watch” for 2014 below:

1. Flat Design

Apple

Web design has often grown in complexity over the years and while this will continue to be the case we will notice almost a step back in terms of UX. The “Flat Design” most commonly noticed in the new release of apple’s iOS 7. Everything has been stripped back to basics; removal of drop shadows, 3d gradients and much more. While not everyone has adopted this approach, what happens more often than not is when apple deliver a new design other designers within the marketplace follow suit. If you need an apple app specialist in Sheffield get in touch today.

Twitter

Another big name you will instantly recognise is Twitter’s new flat approach, they, like apple have reversed ideas on design. These new design ideologies remove any reminiscence of a “web 2.0” feel. By removing the shiny icons and navigation bars we are left with solid colours and more icons.
Twitter & Apple iOS 7

2. Dropping the Sidebar & Adding the Reveal Bar

For many years we’ve been getting used to lot’s of websites offering  sidebar which give you extra navigation links, now with increasing demand for less cluttered interfaces they are becoming increasingly hidden from view. Now it’s extremely important to know what type of device your user is using so you can provide them with an appropriate interface, whether it’s touch, tap, slide or click. By hiding the the sidebar it allows the designer to create a design with more impact to the user.

Hide Sidebar Show Slidebar

3. Less Text

Don’t worry “content is still king“! However we’re seeing more and more websites utilise the homepage as a large splash screen. With little text, more full screen images  & extenuated sexy typography becoming more prominent. We live in a world of constant information and we are now seeing designs which harness all this information and present it to you in bite-size chunks. Websites now portray a story to the user rather than presenting them with information overload, they take you on a journey
fullscreen

4. Hero Areas

These are the are the large banners that take the whole focus of the website, they normally appear on the homepage. This technique is becoming increasingly evident and will continue to shape design of websites throughout the rest of the year. These banners also tie in nicely with the trends 1) flat design and 3) less text. These areas will be bold and sometimes adventurous, there aims are to grip your attention.
Hero Space

5. Mobile First Approach

While designing for mobiles and tablets is nothing new, however we will be seeing more websites totally focus around smart devices first then build the desktop version on top of this model. We’re seeing complexity stripped from initial prototypes and extra functionality from the desktop sites added a later date in the development process. The reason for this increased approach is the fact that smartphones and tablets are gaining huge market share. Google developers have implemented this ideas for a few years and finally we are seeing the marketplace being persuaded.

Smart Devices Mobile First

Potential Trends for 2014…

HTML5 Canvas – For animations & games previously the web used Flash or Java to handle the heaving. However with apples decision to end Adobe Flash’s lifespan and Java’s need to install itself onto the users browser we can expect to see huge numbers of sites using the inbuilt browser technologies to display complex animations.

SVG – Another open source product which will most likely be hitting the headlines this year will be the Scaleable Vector Graphic. These allow images to be stretched with minimal distortion and also allow 3 dimensional shapes, there also great for analysing dynamic data such as numbers to product complex graphs and charts. There are millions of delicious examples of SVGs’ capabilities that are already out there in the marketplace and will only continue to grow.

The future of NFC is now. Our credit cards are slowly being replaced, bus passes and train tickets are disappearing, and those paper based loyalty cards for high street coffee shops we all have… redundant! The future of NFC paints a picture, a future where the wallet, purse, paper ticket and pocket have all gone digital and live solely on your smartphone.

Welcome to Near Field Communications (NFC), a contactless, Wi-Fi style tech that is more than likely already on your smartphone, and could soon be a regular feature of your daily life.

nfc

 

How does NFC work?

At its core, it’s a short-range, low power wireless link evolved from radio-frequency identification (RFID) tech that can transfer small amounts of data between two devices held a few centimetres from each other. Unlike Bluetooth, no pairing code is needed, and because it’s very low power, no battery in the device being read.

By tapping your phone on a contactless payment terminal in a shop, train station or coffee shop is able to identify your account (and even your personal preferences, shopping habits and even your most frequently travelled route home) and takes payment through an app on your smartphone.

nfc2

Passive NFC ‘tags’ on posters, in shops and on trains could contain a web address, a discount voucher, a map or a bus timetable that passers-by could touch their phones on to receive – or to instantly pay for absolutely anything.

NFC ‘tags’ can also be used in conjunction with mobile apps to serve information or to enhance user experience. There are so many applications for NFC that developing say smartphone and tablet apps that utilise this technology is becoming really popular. If you’re considering a mobile app for your company, contact Pipe & Piper and we’ll help develop something that’s truly unique.

“The SIM card in your mobile phone is a smart card identifying your account to the network,” says John Elliott, Head of Public Sector at Consult Hyperion, who’s worked on the Oyster Card. “On NFC phones, the SIM is being extended to act as the Secure Element that can hold other apps such as payment cards.”

 

NFC phones: which handsets have NFC?

A surprisingly huge number, largely because NFC has long been supported by the makers of Android handsets. Though Apple is yet to embrace NFC, flagship and mid-range handsets from the likes of Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Nokia, LG and Blackberry all include NFC.
The latter all feature BlackBerry Tag, a peer-to-peer feature in the BlackBerry 7.1 OS that allows users to share contact information, documents, URLs, photos and other multimedia content by tapping their BlackBerry smartphones together.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 OS supports NFC, too, so expect upcoming smartphones from Samsung, Nokia and HTC to be compatible.

The full list, includes almost all Android tablets too.

NFC is still in its trial phase, but it’s got a big future. ABI Research predicts that 1.95 billion NFC-enabled devices will ship in 2017, largely in smartphones, though NFC will also enter the living room. WiFi routers will swap passwords for a simple ‘tap’ from any smartphone, tablet or games console, with 395 million consumer electronics devices to ship in 2017 – in other words, NFC will be in everything.

Source:  – www.techradar.com

 

For a couple of months now, mobile users have been automatically redirected to their relevant app store as a prompt to download various well known games. Both Android and iOS users have been targeted, taking their respective users to games such as Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Game of War, Zelda Dungeon, and other titles.

The issue involves well known ad networks that should really be blocking and removing these ads but aren’t. Thousands of users have been effected which has led to poor user experience and a general “loss of faith” with well-respected and popular apps such as eBay, Imgur, TwitPic and many others.

In Imgur’s case, Reddit users informed the company about the problem over two months ago and have been consistently providing feedback. Just over a week ago, the company responded on its own website to state that they were looking into the issue but could not clearly identify the ad network that was at fault.

These auto re-directing ads have been affecting both Android and iOS platforms but not just on mobile devices. Desktop and mobile websites have also been affected by the third party ad networks involved. To make matters worse, the ads move around which makes them difficult to pin down and block. At the moment it is unknown which ad networks have been involved and it has been suggested that the ads change once they have been approved, making them even more difficult to identify and remove.

In addition, networks sometimes buy inventory from other networks, blurring the line as to who’s responsible but it has been reported that Google’s AdWords and AdSense have now resolved this problem.

Other apps and websites that have been effected have simply removed the gaming category of ads on their platforms which has prevented them from appearing. We’d recommend taking this action if your website or app has been effected until the issue has been resolved.

Medium to large organisations have been waiting to delve into the mass of information that they gather about their customers, particularly in digital trends. Mobile and cloud technology appear to be at the very top of that list but what does this actually mean for those organisations?

Ovum expects a significant wave of business technology ramp-ups in 2014, in response to the market demand. They are predicting that many businesses will fail to act on the data they possess keeping with existing ‘future-less’ systems in an act to save money. However, some will move forward with this new found information they have spent so long obtaining and really push the boat out to grow their IT services ecosystem to create more immersive, engaging, and quicker ways to engage with their systems.

The number 1 priority for those ready and willing to progress their IT ecosystem will no doubt be looking at diversifying their existing IT solution. The biggest game changer that companies will find useful is the transition from traditional ‘desktop’ software to the new cloud systems which don’t require terminals with multiple areas for problems to occur. The cloud systems operate under a single umbrella, all data and computing takes place in a single area as opposed to every computer on the network creating the requests. This tied with the power of new servers and the speed at which most internet connections are currently running means that some systems will be up to 80% more efficient meaning less time waiting and more time working.

Perhaps bad news for employees but certainly good news for employers!