In today’s world it’s rare to find someone that doesn’t use a smartphone or tablet device, along with a multitude of apps to stay productive at work, one the road or at home. And there are now more than ever, so many mobile devices on the market including the popular iPhone and Samsung Galaxy handsets through to the Amazon Kindle and respective iPad.

business mobile

In all honesty, mobile devices have significantly shifted the online landscape we once knew. There was a time when mobile devices could only make calls and send SMS text messages. Now the world we live in revolves (to some degree) around the use of popular mobile platforms and other technologies. In 2014 over 70% of all internet access here in the UK will take place on a mobile device and for the first time ever, the last quarter of 2013 saw tablet computing outsell traditionally desktop PC’s. In fact, 28% of iPhone and Android users in the UK use social media apps; like Facebook and Twitter, before they even get out of bed in a morning!

The mobile and cloud computing markets are booming but still it is considered uncharted waters for many UK businesses looking to expand their brand awareness. What’s worse, many companies that are believed to be using mobile technology to expand their horizons across the mobile industry are in fact nothing more than a website that “kinda works” on mobile devices.

If you company or organisation is looking into a mobile strategy, then these few tips should help you get going are really understand what your customers’ needs from an engaging mobile experience. Initiation of a mobile strategy should always begin with thinking about the basics: who, what, why and how.

taking your business mobile

Start by asking yourself the following questions;

Who are your customers and who are you trying to reach? Who will want to engage with your mobile content? What tasks and needs does your audience have? Why do your customers need information from you in a timely manner?  Why do you need to create content to be viewed both in standard web browsers and on mobile devices? How will your target audience access your mobile content (which type of handheld device)? How will they use your content in their daily lives? How will you make your mobile content engaging?

A solid mobile strategy will include several ways to connect with consumers via their mobile devices.

Text, Apps, mobile marketing campaigns, mobile coupons, QR codes and geo-location are all very different and provide assets that if used correctly will build you a nice mobile eco-system.

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.

QR codes were originally the must-have gimmick for marketers, and were thought of as an easy and fun way to allow people to interact with adverts, even though they didn’t actually offer consumers anything other than a website link!

In recent months QR codes are becoming more advanced offering consumers better interactivity and ways to utilise their beloved smartphones. Recent studies show that 19% of all UK residents have scanned a QR code, with 3.3 million people doing it in the past 3 months alone!

qr-code

So if you’re considering using a QR code to promote products, services or even your brand, here are top 5 tips that you should consider before you do…

1. Make sure it actually has a purpose!

This does seem to be less of an issue in recent months, but often QR codes are still used on marketing material without any discernable purpose. So before using a QR code, think about what it actually adds to the user experience. For example; are you allowing your potential customers to access product information or maybe a discount voucher? Is it something that people will go out of their way to stop and scan? Think about it, what would make them actually scan it?

An estate agent on Ecclesall Road (in Sheffield for those of you reading this not from the area!) that put QR codes on the property ads in its window, which is a great idea as it allows house hunters to quickly pick up property details on the go, assuming the estate agent adhered to the next rule…

2. Don’t link to a desktop site!

The golden rule of QR codes is that you MUST NOT link users to a desktop site. Why? Because QR codes are a mobile experience and so the content you want consumers to view must be mobile optimised (read our recent blog about creating a mobile website). Nobody likes waiting around for a website to load especially if you’re on the move and you need to wait to read through a website that’s not even navigable on your phone!

3. Size DOES matter!

Really, the minimum size a QR code should be is one inch square. Any smaller and you’re going to make it really difficult for your customers to scan it, thus defeating the entire point of the QR code.

QRstuff.com states the relationship between scan distance and minimum QR code size is roughly 10:1.

“So a 2.5cm (one inch) QR code printed in a magazine will have a effective scan distance of about 250mm (10 inches), and a QR code on a billboard 20m (65ft) from the where a passer-by would be scanning it would probably need to be about 2m (6.5ft) across”

4. Think about where you’re going to place your code!

People might think this is obvious but there are still many examples of QR codes being put in places that people either don’t notice them or can’t quite reach to actually scan them.

For example, if your code is on a billboard or on your shop signage, don’t tuck it away in the top corner as people probably won’t be able to reach it, but equally people are unlikely to stoop down to scan a QR code that’s stuck in the bottom corner of your shop window. Head height is ideal (unless on printed or screen material of course!).

In reality people won’t bother scanning your QR code unless it’s put right in front of them or in a place where they don’t feel stupid or awkward being seen scanning it.

5. Tell your potential customers what they get from scanning it!

Scanning a QR code can be seen as a chore, so consumers are highly unlikely to pull out their smartphone unless they know they’re going to get something out of doing it. It’s really important that you inform them what the QR code links to and, depending on who you’re targeting, possibly instructions on how to download a QR code reader.

Instructions for scanning the code can be a simple call-to-action; “Scan to get 2-for-1,” or “Scan to get 30% voucher.”

You need to entice your potential customer, make sure the content you are offering them is worth the effort!

That’s it really!

Follow these steps and you’ll soon be running successful QR code campaigns that will enchant your customers and show them you’re up to date with the latest tech!

Need some inspiration? We’ve found a few examples of QR code campaigns that have really worked.

Heinz

Last year Heinz ran a QR code campaign and placed codes on their ketchup bottles in selected restaurants to help promote its new environmentally friendly packaging.

heinz

The codes linked through to a mobile website where users could win prizes by answering green knowledge trivia questions.

Heinz reported that more than 1 million consumers scanned the codes.

Emart

This is an excellent (actually award winning!) example of creativity using QR codes and that really engaged the consumer.

Emart is South Korea’s largest retailer. Their campaign involved creating a shadow QR code that only became visible when the sun was at the correct angle in the sky between midday and 1pm.

As a result of this mesmerising effort, Emart sold more than 12,000 coupons, membership increased by 58% on the previous month and sales increased 25% during lunchtime hours.

This is possible the best example of QR code use since its creation! However, it’s important to bear in mind that it sunny in South Korea much more often than it is here in the UK.

Watch the video below to see how it all worked!

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:

Samsung’s flagship mobile phone is due in the early part of April, 2014 and here at Pipe & Piper we couldn’t be more excited! The new device will go up against the latest iPhone 5s in addition to strong competition from Sony, HTC, Nokia, LG and BlackBerry. It will initially be made available in blue, black and white, similar to apples latest iPhones.

Samsung S5 Blue

The S5 brings a new boost the Android market as the Samsung series equates for around 60% of the entire android market share. It contains the latest a href=”http://www.android.com/versions/kit-kat-4-4/”>android 4.4 (KitKat) operating system & the latest version of Samsung’s TouchWiz.

Dust / Water Resistant

One of the main advantages of the new Galaxy is that the S5 is resistant to sweat, rain, liquids, sand and dust thus allowing for a more robust product and allowing the end user to have more confidence that their phone won’t stop working anytime soon.

Hardware Specs

It looks like the Samsung S5 is being powered by the large Quad Core 2.5 Ghz Snapdragon 801 32-bit processor, with the same amount of RAM as samsungs S4 (2GB). Quite surprising is the fact that they haven’t implemented a 64bit architecture into the processor, unlike their main competitor Apple; with the 5S. However they smash apple devices with their 5.1 inch screens producing a 1920×1080 resolution (Full HD). The camera as mentioned previously is one incredible 16MP beast with auto focus, LED flash and 4K video recording (being one of the first devices to offer such a feature).

s5-camera

New Features

This latest samsung has definitely put it’s marker in the sand in regards to embrace an healthy lifestyle with your phone. It includes a heart rate sensor, a peronsal fitness tracker and manny other features. They’ve also added a finger scanner (much similar to the iPhones) which will allow you to confirm payments, lock your phone and add many other security measures. One of the most intriguing features is the LTE system which aims to boost downloading via WiFi by approximately 80~90%.


Samsung’s latest technology at the tech show “Impact Event”

Conclusion

The samsung S5 offers improvements in most areas such as hardware, software and features. Although some hardcore users are left disappointed by the lack of design re-invention. The improvements made on the hardware side are considerable without being drastic, which confirms that the S5 is a worth upgrade from it’s predecessor the S4. It’s also worth noting that the S5 is evolving into more of a leisure tool, focused at people with active lifestyles, hence the inclusion of the heart rate monitor, personal training program and the finger print scanner. In our opinion this definitely gives the android market something to think about.

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

 

At CES 2014 which is an annual technology showcase for the world’s leading innovators that takes place in Las Vegas. This year was nothing short of what visitors wanted with real emphasis on ‘wearable technology’ and ‘bendable’ TV’s. However CES has always been a place for new tech start ups to showcase the creations and this year so what Kolibree are announcing as the world’s first connected electric toothbrush.

toothbrush

It sounds incredibly unnecessary, after all people have managed to brush their teeth for the past few hundred years without the need for fanciful mobile technology but Kolibree says that it can analyse your brushing habits and display the information via their mobile app on your smartphone or tablet. The idea behind this being that motivates (or shames) you into brushing better and giving yourself better dental hygiene.

Although not on same just yet, the Paris based company has said it will be available in Q4 of 2014 and starting at around £80 which isn’t too costly given that the more well known toothbrush brands have electric brushes in excess of £100. Top models will set you back around £180.

You download a free mobile app and connect your smartphone to the toothbrush via Bluetooth wireless. It records every brushing and syncs the information to your smartphone. The mobile app will then display information to see whether you brushed long enough and reached the hard-to-hit but important parts of your teeth and gums.

You get a score for your brushing and can share those stats with your dentist or your family. But if you share this data too widely, it will clearly be in the “too much information” category. Kolibree rewards your progress when you are improving.

What’s more interesting is how the company will make the brushing data available via an applications programming interface so third-party game designers can create games around it. We’ve had a brainstorm around the office and are not sure what these games might look like or how they might work but perhaps incorporating this with the new Xbox One’s Kinect sensor would provide an interactive experience that makes kids want to brush their teeth all the time! (maybe a little OTT).

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!