Thursday, 13 October 2011

Should I upgrade my iPhone to iOS5?

We've no doubt all heard about Apple latest iOS5 operating system as part of the press around the release of the new iPhone 4S. A couple of days ahead of the 4S launch Apple have rolled this new OS out to existing iPhone users. We've had beta versions for a while for testing and found it to be pretty good but today I've installed it and being using it on my everyday iPhone 3GS. The good news is that this upgrade was completely painless (just accept that you won't be able to use your phone for an hour or so!) and everything that did work is still working fine including calendars, reminders (these now pop up in a new cooler format!), email accounts, and importantly all my existing Apps and data.

I've only had a quick play and some of the new things (photo features, Twitter integration, iCloud) do work well.

So would I recommend you do the upgrade asap? Definitely :)

For those of you that want to know exactly what the new features of iOS5 are then here you go...

This update contains over 200 new features, including the following:

• Notifications
- Swipe from the top of any screen to view notifications in one place with Notification Centre
- New notifications appear briefly at the top of the screen
- View notifications from lock screen
- Slide the notification app icon to the right on the lock screen to go directly to the app
• iMessage
- Send and receive unlimited text, photo and video messages with other iOS 5 users
- Track messages with delivery and read receipts
- Group messaging and secure encryption
- Works over mobile networks and Wi-Fi*
• Newsstand
- Automatically organises magazine and newspaper subscriptions on Home Screen
- Displays the cover of the latest issue
- Background downloads of new issues
• Reminders for managing to-do lists
- Syncs with iCloud, iCal and Outlook
- Location-based reminders when you leave or arrive at a location for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4
• Built-in support for Twitter
- Sign in once in Settings and tweet directly from Camera, Photos, Maps, Safari and YouTube
- Add location to any tweet
- View Twitter profile pictures and usernames in Contacts
• Camera improvements for devices with cameras
- Double-click the Home button when device is asleep to bring up a camera shortcut on iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)
- Volume Up button to take a picture
- Optional grid lines to line up shots
- Pinch to zoom in the preview screen
- Swipe to camera roll from preview screen
- Tap and hold to lock focus and exposure; iPad 2 and iPod touch (4th generation) only support exposure lock
• Photo improvements for devices with cameras
- Crop and rotate
- Red-eye removal
- One-tap enhance
- Organise photos into albums
• Mail improvements
- Format text using bold, italic or underlined fonts
- Indentation control
- Drag to rearrange names in address fields
- Flag messages
- Mass mark messages as flagged, read or unread
- Customise mail alert sounds
• Calendar improvements
- Year view on iPad and new Week view for iPhone and iPod touch
- Tap to create an event
- View and add event attachments
• Game Center improvements
- Use personal photos for your Game Center account
- Compare your overall achievement scores with your friends
- Find new Game Center friends with friend recommendations and friends of friends
- Discover new games with custom game recommendations
• AirPlay Mirroring for iPad 2 and iPhone 4S
• Multitasking Gestures for iPad
- Use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen
- Swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar
- Swipe left or right to switch between apps
• On-device setup, activation and configuration with Setup Assistant
• Software updates available over the air without tethering
• iCloud support
- iTunes in the Cloud
- Photo Stream
- Documents in the Cloud
- Apps and Books automatic download and purchase history
- Backup
- Contacts, Calendar and Mail
- Find My iPhone
• Redesigned Music app for iPad
• Hourly weather forecast
• Real-time stock quotes
• Wireless sync to iTunes
• Keyboard improvements
- Split keyboard for iPad
- Improved auto-correction accuracy
- Improved Chinese and Japanese input
- New Emoji keyboard
- Personal dictionary for auto-correction
- Optionally create keyboard shortcuts for frequently used words
• Accessibility improvements
- Option to light LED flash on incoming calls and alerts for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4
- Custom vibration patterns for incoming calls on iPhone
- New interface for using iOS with mobility-impairment input devices
- Option to speak a selection of text
- Custom element labelling for VoiceOver
• Exchange ActiveSync improvements
- Wirelessly sync tasks
- Mark messages as flagged, read or unread
- Improved offline support
- Save a new contact from a GAL service
• More than 1,500 new developer APIs
• Bug fixes

Products compatible with this software update:
• iPhone 4S
• iPhone 4
• iPhone 3GS
• iPad 2
• iPad
• iPod touch (4th generation)
• iPod touch (3rd generation)

* Normal carrier data rates may apply. Messages will be sent as SMS when iMessage is unavailable; carrier messaging fees apply.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Does social media really work?

At Appware we're increasing asked about social media and how it can work for a business. Is it a waste of time or does it really work? We've been using social media extensively for the last couple of years mainly via LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to a lesser extent (as we believe it's more a business to consumer platform).

We don't claim to be "social media gurus" (an annoying self proclaimation we see all the time!) or talk about ROI (Return On Investment) and develop huge strategy documents and detailed plans around social media. We just get on with what we think may be useful and use it because we enjoy it. After all, when did you last calculate the ROI or analyse your strategy for talking to your friends who just happen to tell their friends and colleagues about your business? This is what we believe is the crux of social media, it's just another form of communication not an exact science!

We're often asked for our top tip for social media (especially Twitter) so here it is:

"Engage don't broadcast"
Would you walk into a room full of people you don't know, stand on a table, and then shout "hey everyone, come and buy my stuff!"? No, I didn't think so! So why do so many people do so with social media? Inevitably they broadcast sales message for a couple of weeks (usually via auto Tweets), get no interest, and then declare social media as useless. Rather than broadcasting, try to engage with people. Follow people of interest, strike up casual conversations, keep things interesting, be helpful, and use the plaform regularly (don't just Tweet once a month!). Eventually you'll build rapport with people just as you do in real life and they'll remember what you do and who knows, they may even send some business your way!

So you're probably thinking that all this is well and good but where's the evidence that this really does work? Ok, here's a real life example of how it worked for us recently...

We recently changed our office phone number and I was running low on my old boring standard business cards so I started coming up with some ideas for something a little different. I wanted to try and create a card that would stand out from the crowd, get across what we do, include my photo to help with the offline networking events I attend, and include a QR code so smartphone users could easily save off my details. I eventually came up with the idea of making the business card look like a smartphone with the front looking like a screen with me calling, and the back of the card including my details and QR code. I then discussed the concept with my design team who came up with the final graphics as follows.

I had previous been recommended by a couple of people but something that really helps make the card look much more realistic was the ability of to produce round cornered business cards (as a standard option).

Once my shiny new cards had arrived I'd posted up some photo's on Flickr and Twitter and the reaction to the card was fantastic. Almost immediately it gained us new business purely from people remembering the cards, what we do, and passing on our details. What happened next was the most amazing thing though. picked up on the buzz around the card on social media and contacted me directly as they loved the idea and wanted to feature it in their newsletter. A few days later they sent this out to over 350,000 subscribers worldwide and over the next week we got over 25 sales leads generated from this! And some people still say social media doesn't work...



Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Mobile Technology: From Bricks to Angry Birds!


I think we have to look back at the original mobile phones to realise just how far things have come. One of the first mainstream phones was the Motorola 4800x Transportable which as you can see wasn't really what you'd call pocket friendly!

Text Messaging

The next progression was from voice calls to text messaging. This method of communication was an unforeseen success and over time became more popular than voice calls! It even spawned it's own shorthand some of which has amazingly made it into the Oxford English dictionary.


This was the first stab at trying to deliver a "mobile internet" experience. Unfortunately it didn't quite catch on and the user experience wasn't great. Imagine an really limited text only website with incredibly slow and expensive data transfer and you're not far off.


This is where things started to get interesting... I used to carry about my mobile phone, PDA, SatNav, plus all the associated cables and chargers - as well as a diary and notepad! Although the first smartphones were pretty clunky they still managed to get everything into one device which was a real breakthrough.

Mobile Websites

Now smartphones have become more powerful, data is quick, and charges are low then users obviously want to use the internet just as they do on a PC or Mac. This is all well and good and most mobile browsers actually render pages pretty well. The problem is that a website optimised for a large 17" monitor isn't quite so readable on a 3.5"screen! We are now seeing a shift to mobile optimised websites that display content in a more readable way. At Appware we use technology that auto-detects the device you're browsing on and serves the appropriate content.


As there is now so much power in a smartphone with all it's integrated technology (3G, wireless, GPS, compass, camera, etc) then users didn't just want to use the inbuilt software. The operating systems now have dedicated software development systems so that independant developers can create their own Apps and publish/distribute these to the phones. This has given rise to a whole marketplace that simply didn't exist even a couple of years ago. I think the numbers above show just how huge this has become!


Users are no longer interested in just using their phones for browsing product catalogues but they actually want to purchase. This is now becoming possible and at Appware we've already got PayPal integration working within Apps to allow this.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

The next step for mobile commerce is physically using your phone to pay for things in the same way as you currently use a credit card. The first systems are already planned to hit the UK this summer (A collaboration between Samsung, Orange, and Barclaycard) and in a couple of years are set to become as standard as chip and pin machines. Also keep an eye on Google with their Google Wallet system.

Mobile Vouchers

Currently a few forward thinking organisations have realised that by using location based services and special offers they can build customer loyalty. Some are doing this with quite manual, clunky systems using services like Foursquare but are already seeing the benefits. Watch this space for dedicated Apps...

QR Codes

You may have seen these strange looking 3D barcodes and wondered what they are - they're called QR (Quick Response) Codes. All you do is use your phone's camera to scan these and they'll either redirect you to a website or add a contact to your phone's address book, amongst other things. Alot of modern smartphones are now building QR readers in (if not then search for the "Red Laser" App) and the technology is especially popular in the USA and Japan. For example; in Bestbuy retail stores products have a QR code on their label which when scanned shows you technical specs as well as reviews and stores them off for later!

Smart Notifications

Push notifications is where data is pushed to your phone rather than you requesting it manually. This is already used in Apps like Facebook to let you know when you've received message or on the Ebay App to warn you that an auction is about to end. Currently these messages are like simple text messages but they are about to get much smarter and become location aware and the like.

Augmented Reality

This is another really cool technology that will only improve with time as smartphones get even more powerful. The basic idea is that content is layered over the real world using your phone's camera as a viewfinder. Appware have already developed an App using this technology which can be seen at In this instance you can use the App at music festivals to not only find out who is playing on what stage and when, but guide you back to your tent or the nearest bar, toilet, exit etc. Simply fire up the App and use your phone to "look around" and it shows you which direction to walk and for how long!


The last year or so has seen the rise of the tablet initially driven by Apple's iPad. There are more and more of these devices appearing (Shortly to be joined the HP Touchpad and Blackberry Playbook) which are aimed mainly at the consumer market to replace a home laptop. The big advantages over laptops are typically battery life, they're simple to use, and you just pick them up and they're on and working rather than waiting 5 minutes for a laptop to boot up! This is another interesting space to watch over the coming year.

Platform Wars!

As more and more smartphones appear on the market so do more and more different operating systems. Apple have iOS, Google have Android, and there are many many more around and emerging. As these are all totally different with different development tools, languages, and skillsets then developers tend to have to specialise in one platform. This isn't great if you'd like an App creating as you effectively have to build it from scratch for all the various platforms. Expect some consolidation across devices as the lesser known operating systems become obselete.


One way to address the operating system platform is to try and reuse your code across the various platforms/devices. At Appware we use a system that allows us to reuse around 80-90% of an App's original development by using HTML5 which is standard across the different platforms. In real terms this means that rather than each development taking 6 weeks to develop (so 18 across just 3 platforms!) we would typically create all 3 versions in 7 weeks. As you can imagine this has considerable timescale and cost savings for our clients!

Angry Birds

So finally we get to Angry Birds which is an App that everyone must have heard of by now. It is one of the biggest Apps to date with over 200 million downloads. It has also turned some traditional channels on their head. It used to be that a film came out and then there was associated merchandising afterwards which is where companies really made their money. With Angry Birds it started life as a smarphone game and now there's a feature film based on the game. The film cost $90 million to make and so far grossed over half a billion dollars!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

When e-marketing goes wrong!

As I'm always extolling the virtues of a structured and well put together e-marketing plan I thought I'd share a recent example of how NOT to do e-marketing.

A few months ago a new restaurant opened up in town so my wife and I went along to check it out. First of all I made the booking on their shiny new website that promptly threw an error once I submitted the booking. I emailed them straight away to let them know and asked for confirmation of my booking but didn't get a response. As I hadn't had anything back and was passing a couple of days later I popped in to double check. They had received the booking so all was well and a few days later we went and had a lovely meal in lovely surroundings.

A couple of weeks after that I recieved a marketing email from them. Not only had I not signed up for this but it came in the form of a 4MB JPG attachment with every other member of their email marketing list openly CC'd. I obviously emailed them about this and politely pointed out the error of their ways along with an offer of help but got no reply.

About another week later I received another similar email and this time responded asking to be removed from their mailing list (incidentally no emails had options or instructions of how to unsubscribe).

Another couple of weeks passed and I got a blank message from them with the subject of "please can you email your birthday to us".

Two days later I received another similar email but this time the email was all in CAPS, contained typos and asked me to email my birthday to them to be included in their birthday promotion.

I responded again pointing out the error of their ways and again asking that I be removed from their email marketing list.

About two weeks later I then received yet another blank message apart from a JPG attachment with another "offer" that this time also included a photography offer (bearing in mind they are a restaurant!)

Three days later I received exactly the same email again which was the last straw and I reported them to the ICO.

The above just shows how you alienate a happy customer who would have returned again and again (this restaurant is a stones throw from our office and would have been great for entertaining clients) into someone who will never step foot in the premises again. Not only that but the number of other local people who know this story can't be good for business!

So the moral of the story...

It's better not to do it at all if you don't know what you're doing as you'll only end up doing more damage than good! If you're going to run an e-marketing campaign then plan it properly, know the laws, do some testing, and use a proper outbound marketing system so you can measure the results for comparison on future campaigns. If you don't have the skills or experience to do all of these things then please get some outside help.

Hope this helps


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

5 Top Tips for Mobile Apps in 2011

Here are my 5 top tips for what I believe will be the big news in the mobile App world for 2011:

1. Apps are here to stay
Currently more than half a million apps are downloaded every hour and the average smartphone user has 22 of them installed (source: Borrell Associates data). 2011 will see an even higher number of Apps on smartphones; and importantly this same App model will appear on tablets (iPad, Android tablet), TVs (Google TV, Apple TV), desktop (Intel AppUp, Mac App Store, AllMyApps for Windows, etc.) and Web browsers (Google Chrome Web Store, Mozilla Open Web App Store, etc.)

2. M-Commerce
Until now virtually all App revenue has come from users buying the App in the first place. While 2010 has seen momentum gathering of in App purchasing (just a few weeks ago a lot of the top grossing iPhone Apps were free but generated revenue using in App purchase) 2011 will see true m-commerce coming to the fore. Until now there haven't been many options for in App purchase but this is changing. Just recently PayPal have introduced App integration (which we have working in an App!) so expect others to follow suit.

3. Smart Notifications
It has already been proven (source: Mobclix survey) that Apps using push notifications (for example, if you're using the Ebay iPhone App a popup appears to warn you of auctions about to end even when the App isn't running) are opened up 4 times as many times as a non-push App. In 2011 expect more and more push Apps as well as linking this to location based services to deliver timely notifications based on your preferences.

4. Apps hit the mainstream
The average smartphone user now spends 2.8 hours per day using apps and 3 in 5 people first turn to an app before searching the Web (source: Mobclix). Apps have gained more popularity over the browser this year (source: Parks Associates) as consumers under 30 are now using mobile Apps rather than the mobile web. With more smartphones and platforms emerging in 2011 with even tighter App integration this number is set to increase dramatically.

5. Platform Wars?
2010 marked the beginning of the smartphone platform wars, which was mainly a battle between Apple and Android. Expect more fun, games, and marketing stunts in 2011 not just between Apple and Android but also with Microsoft Windows Phone 7, Nokia, RIM (who make Blackberry's), and Palm.

There are lots of other things to look out for such as augmented reality (check out our App to discover what AR is all about), growth in business and enterprise App space, common mobile App standards, and a huge growth of in App advertising. All this should make for an interesting year!

Article written by Richard Eaton of Appware -