Apppli Blogs

If you don’t yet know how much technology has impacted your life, wait until your mum tells you how many layers of clothing your newborn MUST wear at 25 degrees Celsius.

Perhaps no other area of life is more steeped in piles of ‘received wisdom’ than motherhood and child rearing. And perhaps no other area of life benefits more fully from what technology has to offer.

Everything started for me in the early days of pregnancy. The excitement that accompanied the anticipation of the next baby scan was somewhat tempered by the ability to peek into my baby’s weekly development on any of the pregnancy apps on the app stores. The Pregnancy Sprout App, for instance, felt like a personal and informed companion that prepared me with a stash of (non-crazy questions) for my doctor’s visits, provided me with weekly advice and tips, gave me a sense of how my baby looks like through anatomically accurate 3D fetal imagery and even helped me prepare my hospital bag before bringing my little baby boy home.

Once the adventure of motherhood began, Babycenter was, and still is six months later, one invaluable source of reliable advice. Every concern you might have about your baby, from how to deal with a mild skin rash to when to switch to solids and start potty training your child, someone in the Babycenter community has had before you and there is a tried and tested answer for you.

If, like me, you are a compulsive tracker of everything baby related, you must know about BabyConnect. This tracking platform (web, iPhone and Android apps) tracks everything from food intake to vaccines, medicines, baby growth and milestones and, what’s even better, it synchronises it with your baby’s caregivers so that you never miss anything. On top of this all, there are apps to organise shopping lists and plan meals, mobile solutions to keep track of your finances and know exactly where your kids are at any point in time. I will cover all of these, however, in a future post.

I am certain that technology has made my pregnancy and my parenting more relaxed, less anxious and less clueless than my mother’s. And there is an added, non-negligible benefit: that I have a valid basis for brushing off her advice in a way in which she, when she had me thirty odd years ago, could not brush off her mother’s.

The technology debate is particularly interesting when you speak to parents of young children. I know some parents who say they will not give their children mobile phones or tablets until they are at school. To some extent, I agree, but if children learn best with technology it’s all for the good, right?

One of our designers here at HQ made a valid point, “The younger generations learn best with big shapes, bold colours and very, very simple menus” If these rules are followed then actually it could be a good thing to encourage children to start learning on mobile devices at a young age.

Here are a few examples of educational apps currently popular in the app stores that cater for the very young through to teenagers.  The Guardian has a pretty awesome list for parents to look at here. Our favourites are:

1. Endless Alphabet – This is an excellent place to start from as young as needed. The design element is obviously aimed at the very young, as seen in the chosen colour schemes. It provides exactly what it says on the tin – endless fun for the child and endless repetition for the parents. A superb place to start for alphabet learning with a fantastically simple interface.

2. Duolingo – A FREE app that allows users to learn up to 6 languages (English, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese) Long gone are the days of my French oral being played on a tape, YES a tape, and me having to quickly write down what I hear. Welcome to the new age! An age where everyone has mobile phones so an app that teaches languages on that device must only be a good thing. No more excuses for not learning your French verbs.

3. SquiggleFish –  A creative app – based in an aquarium – the user gets to draw and colour in fish and other marine creatures and put them into their aquarium! This app cleverly introduces colours and shapes to children. The app has a range of choices in the free, basic version, but a wealth of other activities can be purchased from within the app, at the tap of a screen. Guaranteed to keep the little ones happy for a little longer.

So, given how dramatically things have changed in twelve short years, what will things look like in twelve years from now?  As I am writing this article there is a pair of Google Glasses on my desk.

I wonder if there will be ‘whiteboards’ on the glass screens – that will display what the lecturer or teacher is writing on an interactive board at the front of the class. Will there be a need for actually coming into school at all or could the generations of the future be educated virtually either at home or in ‘learning dens?’ I think this is what is most exciting, we have this new technology in the form of wearables but how it will benefit and change how we work from day to day is still very much unknown.

Will this be the next stage of the educational evolution? Will my children be reading books on Google Glasses or virtual copies in holograms? The only welcome constant is change, and I welcome the change that  technology will continue to bring to the space of learning and education. Your children won’t be able to pull a sickie in 12 years time…

We are in need of some Android developers – Can you help us? We are a fast moving, dynamic software development and digital marketing firm based in London. We design, develop and promote market leading software solutions across all platforms and devices, specialising in mobile apps and web development. We are currently looking for an exceptionally talented and enthusiastic Software Engineer (Android) who has a passion for technology to join our thriving team in London.

Key Responsibilities:

-To participate in the planning process and provide estimations of size and effort of workload so that work maybe planned and prioritized accurately.

-Provide feedback to the team on proposed features/changes using non-technical language.

-Bring new technical innovations to the table.

-To embrace processand be a key contributor to improving the processes and standards of the software engineering team.

-Support the marketing plan, and broader sales strategy.

 

 Skills:

  • Expertise in systems-level programming: storage and file systems, networking, and transaction-processing.
  • Strong documentation and communication skills. 
  • Strong software development experience/knowledge  withMySQL, C++, OHP and PHP in a web or  e-commerce environment.
  • Outstanding coding expertise  inJava and Android SDK. 
  • Experience developing online applications: skilled in XHTML / CSS2 / JavaScript / DHTML, XML / XSLT / XSD.
  • Strong understanding and demonstrable experience of design patterns (GoFPoEAA, EAIP) and SOLID Principles.
  • Working knowledge of agile methodologies (XP/SCRUM/Lean) and full software development life cycles.
  • Experience with Subversion or Git for Source Control.

Experience:

  • Strong numerical skills, an aptitude for logic.
  • Experience in location based services and bluetooth/Bluetooth low energy highly valued
  • Fluent in English language and writing.
  • Strong business communication skills.
  • Able to use analytical, logic and problem-solving skills.
  • Educated to degree level with a discipline in computer science, maths or statistics – minimum 2:1 grade.
  • Emotionally intelligent – self-aware, self-regulating and self-motivated.

Interested?

To be considered for this rare opportunity to join our dynamic growing team please submit your cv with covering letter outlining details of your capability, experience,availability and salary expectations.  If you are restricted by Visa or Work Permit requirements please state clearly on your application.

Please email siraj@apppli.com with your CV and cover letter.

Apppli is an equal opportunities employer.

Mashable’s CRO has just called for a ban of the term ‘native’ in advertising, claiming that it means ‘too many things to too many people.’ Does this signal the death of ‘native’ advertising as we know it, or is he on his own in his opinion? And what does this mean for mobile?

A lot has been said about ‘native’ advertising over the past year. But does anyone know what it really means, or is just the latest jargon that will dry out once a better term comes along?

First thing’s first: what is ‘native’ and how is it different to other forms of advertising?

  • 1. Unlike banner and display ads, native ads appear in the flow of the editorial content.
  • 2. Brands producing native ads normally work with individual writers or marketers instead of simply commissioning content
  • 3. Native ads are produced to be more engaging and more shareable than other types of ads


Ok great. That all sounds pretty simple. So where does the confusion lie?

Well. Namely, how is that different from sponsored content?  There isn’t a clear answer. Reuter’s Felix Salmon contends that “native content tends to aspire to going more viral.” Other experts argue that ‘sponsored’ content is supposed to be less biased, and unlike advertising, is there to inform rather than sell. Of course we all know that this isn’t strictly true either, as there is always a business motivation behind that insightful white paper or article.

What do we think? Yes, sponsored content is more editorial and in essence, less biased. But no matter how a brand gets in front of an audience, the business objectives will always be along the same line. And as native advertising evolves and becomes more engaging, the line between the two will continue to blur.

Ultimately, whether we call it ‘native’ or ‘branded content’, the move towards more engaging advertising is undoubtedly a good thing . It puts the audience first, and shows how brands are striving even harder to engage what is becoming an increasingly sophisticated audience. It emphasises quality and attempts to understand and engage the audience in a way that banner and display ads never could.

However, this drive for better user experience and engagement still seems to be lacking in ‘native’ ads on mobile, as a recent survey by City Numbers has highlighted mobile ads as one of the least popular forms of marketing, (falling way behind traditional TV, print and direct mail). Users consume mobile content far differently on their smartphones and devices than they do online or in print. So as more and more brands move the bulk of their marketing budgets to mobile ads, the challenge for marketers today is exactly how to present ads on mobile in an unobtrusive, more engaging, and more targeted way.

When it comes to mobile, ‘native’ advertising isn’t dead. It is only just getting started.

Last week, Wikimania Festival 2014 saw over 2000 hacks, editors, contributors, friends and fans from all over the world come together at the Barbican Centre for a two-day hackathon, and three days of talks and workshops.

With over 200 talks and workshops conducted simultaneously in 12 rooms throughout the Barbican, any last minute agenda changes had to be communicated immediately (and quietly) to all delegates. The Barbican is also a sprawling complex, and unless you know your way around, you are likely to get lost very quickly!

To address these key issues, we created weBeacon, an application that provided live agenda updates and way-finding to the relevant presentation room. Just another app? No. This solution was different because the content was triggered independently to each user based on the user’s location, enabled by a network of bluetooth beacons placed throughout the event venue. The specificity of bluetooth beacons means that you only get content that is relevant to where you are, within a very specific geographic radius.

Also included in this app was a special tour of the historic and architecturally significant Barbican Estate. It was like a treasure hunt, where the beacons trigger content of the current spot, and gives directions to the next destination of the tour. A nice way to take a break if you’ve been in a windowless room for three hours.

In collaboration with Eva Pascoe (www.TheRetailPractice.com)

We spend an enormous, and perhaps unhealthy, amount of time on our phone, looking down at a little – or in some cases big – shining square. Research has shown that the amount of time UK users spend on their phone is nearly 42 hours every month. Of this total amount, 90% of mobile engagement includes use of map and location apps. But with a plethora of these apps aimed at streamlining, informing and aiding our day-to-day lives, have mobile phones actually enabled us become more spontaneous?

I have recently had some first hand experience of just this. I hired a couple of Boris bikes with my girlfriend and just rode from point to point around London. We had no plans; just to spend some time in the city we know and love. It was a fantastic experience, not least due to the comfort of having freedom from the fear of getting lost.

For a long time I have been worried about getting lost: taking the wrong turn or worse ending up on Oxford Street during ‘The Sales’ seasons. My point is that it is very difficult to get lost anymore. Think about it, all of our phones have maps, route planners, taxi booking apps and loads more. My Dad and I argue on on a monthly basis about the virtues of using Googlemaps; he still relies on an A to Z for directions but I never have to worry about finding my way (unless my mobile battery runs out!)

OpenStreetMap is increasingly popular as the map of choice for those who want an alternative map. The app uses aerial imagery, GPS and a community of contributors to ensure the maps are up-to-date and locally focussed. This is an open source mapping solution with helpful local features and recognisable places that will get you back home without the perils of an out of date map. A map “by the people, for the people”.

So all of this got me thinking: how can I make this into an activity a little more exciting than simply trying to get lost, and more importantly, one my friends will want to partake in. So here is what you do: first, choose a starting point – it doesn’t matter where. Then, choose a direction and start walking, cycling, running or skating. You can keep going for as long as you want. But when you get bored, simply have a look around and see what’s around you. Check out a local coffee shop or bar, or even grab a sandwich and sit in the park. For finding things to do I have used the Street Art London App and London’s Best Coffee App for cafes and street art in London. (This was on a Sunday afternoon, there are others for drinking, clubbing, and museums.)

But the fun doesn’t have to stop when the day is coming to an end, why not find an alternative route home? Or maybe walk, instead of getting the tube? When the day is over, simply load up your generic smartphone, see where you are and select one of the many excellent apps that can help get you home. Hop on the New Routemaster, pedalo around the park, hire a bike, a skateboard, a rickshaw, or take a good old-fashioned stroll and find a new way home.

My take home point is this: my day of travelling around London “without any plans” was actually enabled and enhanced by my smartphone: the shining square that we stare at every day was safely in my pocket, but there as a beacon of usefulness when the time came to call it a day. So, download an app, head out on an adventure, and prove to your dad that you can still discover new places and experiences a dog-eared A to Z will never spontaneously reveal.

We are always told to turn our mobiles off while on holiday to really make the most of the relaxing time with your loved ones.  However there are a few apps/programmes for mobiles that really can make your holiday that little easier.

Show me the Money…

There are a large number of these around, so it’s worth having a look around to find one that suits you.  I’m talking about currency converters. The one that I use is simply called Currency Converter.

This app has a huge offering of currencies, you can select your preferences and choose a currency ridiculously easily, and then its a case of inputting the price of your new straw hat, from the market seller by the beach and seeing if you have got a good price. (The answer is YES!)

This is a great way to keep on top of how much things cost, because if I am honest when I am on holiday all the money I have feels like Monopoly money, I am on holiday so everything goes. But this will help you keep  an eye on things.

Another very helpful tool is Tipulator, which explains how much you should tip in each country. For example the 10% standard in London is regarded offensively low in New York, while the same amount is insulting in Tokyo.  It just might take away a little bit of stress if you eat in a particularly nice restaurant.

Language Helpers

There are a few language helpers, that can aid you while you are away. The select few free ones are surprisingly good for basic translations. But if you want to kick it up a notch then check out the Better Translate Pro app.  This costs £1.99 and calls on both Google and Bing translate services to offer you the best in real time translations.  It works very well but don’t get too excited, you won’t be chatting up the waitresses with it just yet. Well I suppose you could try.

However my personal favourite is World Lens. This allows you to take a picture of a menu in French and download the picture, fully translated into English.  You do have to pay for the language you require via an in app purchase but the results are quite amazing! Plus you get 10 man points for having an app that uses character recognition!

Getting Around

This always stumps me while on holiday, I always assume that I am going to walk everywhere but sometimes you have to travel a little further to find that perfect beach or the Michelin star restaurant.  Step up HopStop.

Covering 68 countries it provides users with all the public transport options you need. From buses to trains. From New York to Norfolk (although that is a long bus route).  It’s smart design means its not overwhelming and filled with pointless information. You get the information you want quickly in just a few taps.

Also take a look at using some of the other tools we have mentioned, and never, ever underestimate the power of google maps. (Just remember roaming charges and mobile data!)

Restaurant Booking

You have managed to navigate your way to your ideal location but now your partner is getting hungry, in my case I have exactly 8 minutes from this point to find somewhere to eat and drink before I am turned to stone, or eaten alive depending on her mood.

Luckily for me I use Trip Advisor that will show my the restaurants in my select location, and a rating for each (out of 5). It has literally saved my life about 5 times.  The selling point for me is the customer reviews, you can see what to eat, and what to avoid via recommendations from previous customers.

It is always worth having a back-up plan, especially when you are away.  In this case I would recommend Open Street Map – This open source website is updated by the public and users, with top spots, restaurants POI’s and everything inbetween. The simplicity of it means that even if you have to use it as a back up your partner won’t even notice the switch.

Well there you have it a few apps and mobile applications that could really help you make the most of your holiday. I am jealous, I really am.  Let us know your thoughts on these apps or ones you use instead.

The holiday season is upon us, HOORAY. However this euphoric high can leave some of us feeling a little baffled. But why I hear you ask, many a man has forgotten his underwear or the city guide thanks to the panic packing. Luckily I have a few that will keep you happy and make the holiday euphoria last until the flight home (although I cannot guarantee 30C weather and blue skies throughout your holiday).

Packing Guides

Packing is a nightmare. I hate it. It was so much easier when my mum did it for me. But I am a man now and so we/I must move on.

Packing List is an Android App that allows users to create lists of the items you require and simply tick them off once stuffed into the suitcase.  It really is as simple as that. Packing List is a great addition to your apps and could be a real life saver.

You make your list weeks/months before the packing begins and add to it as and when you remember things you need to bring.  It has a very simple and efficient UI, simple screens and plain colours, which is perfect when you are trying to find your sunglasses. (You don’t need to be baffled by a technical and complicated design!)

OK so to conclude, if packing is your holiday’s achilles heel then try this app. It is a simple way to ensure all of the items you want with you on your vacation make it into your suitcase.

Or why not use your trusty Evernote App, I use it daily for work, it functions very well and really can keep you on top of your to do lists. Just simply make a new list, give it a name and add to it as you would any other note based product.

But there could be a more creative solution, what about using Pinterest to pin holiday looks together? This perhaps is for the more fashion savvy man, but nevertheless a great place for inspiration and can help lose those ill fitting shorts.

City Guides and Maps

There are a few fantastic guides available online and in the App and Play stores. TimeOut and TripAdvisor are great places to start. They have a huge library of places to stay, interesting things to do and places to eat, all rated and reviewed.  You have access to maps and directions, but remember that if you are roaming while abroad you might get charged the earth by your provider.  Nevertheless they are well worth investing some of your pre-holiday time in, or even planning on a day by day basis. Most hotels, apartments and hostels today have free WiFi  which means you can research and plan the day’s activities over breakfast.

Here is my top tip. If you haven’t already been using Pocket, please download it now. Pocket is a multi device app that saves articles and links offline so you can read or interact even while in flight safe mode. This means you can save that Twitter link carrying the address of the hot new bar in Barcelona, or to the secret supper club in London in your Pocket and refer to it when you get there. Sound good? I’ve used it to research places to eat, sites to see and beaches to visit weeks before I leave on my holiday. I even use it for things not related to my holiday too…. but that’s another article….

Lets Get you to the Airport and back again!

OK the hard stuff is over, you have packed, shipped the dog off to your parents and now all you need to do is get to the airport.  Which, if you live where I do, is easier said than done!

There are so many choices now in the highly competitive app-based taxi market, but our favourites are the multinational Uber which you could even use while on holiday (in any of the 161 cities in 41 countries where Uber now operates!) and the latest taxi-sharing app Cab2Grab.

Uber allows you to book journeys via your mobile device and get a price there and then. Perfect for the early morning or late night flights where the tube just won’t cut it.  Whereas Cab2Grab is a taxi sharing app, which will keep the costs even lower. You select where you want to go and if others are heading in the same direction you can share the cab and the fare.

Once you are at the airport the holiday feeling can officially start, WAIT…have you got the boarding passes?!  Depending on who you are flying with there may be a boarding pass app.  I have used both British Airways and easyJet’s and they are fantastic. Both have plane trackers in and both store a digital copy of your boarding pass.  Which means, yes, you guessed it, you are totally ticketless and you cannot leave your boarding pass behind. Let the holiday begin!

I hope these things have helped you out, but let us know if you use other digital ways to organise your holiday plans.  Also keep an eye out for the next article, where I talk about apps for your holiday.  Happy Vacation!

We are so excited to have Joo join our team, his skills and experience will really help with our growth plans for the coming months.

Joo comes with over 15 years of integrated marketing experience at Ogilvy, Leo Burnett and IMG working on clients such as BP, Expedia, Unilever, British American Tobacco, General Electric, Phillip Morris, and Allied Domecq Wines & Spirits. He also brings extensive event and sponsorship experience from many years on World Rally Championship, Formula 1 and the Olympic Games. Malaysian-born, British-educated Teoh started his career at Bates Dorland in London before stints in New York, Shanghai and Beijing.

Teoh will sit on the board of directors, and report to CEO Nader Alaghband.

Alaghband said: “Joo is an exceptional talent with enormous experience across verticals. We’re a fast growing business and given the scale of opportunities in our sector, bringing on-board senior management with Joo’s expertise is an essential part of managing our growth, ensuring that we continue to produce first class work that we and our customers can be proud of. We’re really looking forward to working with Joo to accelerate our progress.”

Teoh commented: “Apppli has a very exciting immediate future, as mobile technologies and mobile user experiences are evolving at a dizzying speed, opening avenues for brands to really behave in a different way. All brands will grow into the mobile channel because it is the only channel every consumer is guaranteed to interact with. We are way past “mobile apps”. Mobile is a way of being, and this is where brands must perform. The team at Apppli live and breathe this ethos, and this is why this is such an exciting place to be.”

Teoh’s immediate priorities will be business development and day-to-day management of the London-based agency.

You can read The Drums press release in full here.

OK, so the World Cup Final is here, it started with 32 countries taking part and 64 matches to be played, but now the final is upon us so how do football fans keep on top of the finale?

Here are the top five best apps (in our opinion) to keep you upto date and fully informed of everything world cup final related from breaking news to squad line ups.  This doesn’t mean we are in anyway responsible for the performance of your office sweepstake teams.

1. Sports Yapper

The App for social media and sports lovers. You can enjoy great banter with friends and fans of the teams you support, share photos and catch up on any score line.   The great thing about this is its not just for the world cup, the app dials in to other sports including Formula 1, rugby and tennis, so is perfect for those not just interested in world cup football.

It plugs into the leading social channels, Facebook and Twitter so you can invite and interact with the friends and followers you already have, lets just hope they support the same teams as you!

Available on Android and iPhone

2. LiveSoccer World Football Cup

Built for the hardcore fan, you get customizable push notifications and updates. From the teams of your choice.  You also get access to full text commentary and player and game information. For example you might want to know how Wayne Rooney is performing in a game in a couple of taps you will have your answer.

This app has a great UI and the user experience is brilliant. It is easy to use, all be it slightly more advanced than other apps mentioned, and the player information is just what is needed for the post game arguments in the pub over the number of corners and free kicks awarded.

Available Android.

3. Squawka

According to the App store description the app “is like having a mini Gary Neville in the palm of your hand” which can only be a good thing, right?  You get every goal pushed to your device, quicker than all the other competitors, which means you will be the all knowing fan and the one your friends come to for the scores.

Filled with stats and a fantastic interface, this app will not disappoint even the hardest of fans. You can set up a favourite team or player and get stats pulled about either directly to your device.  So you can physically see how many shots Argentina have had on target…

Available on iPhone

4. BBC Sport

The  BBC sport app is brilliant, keeps you to to date with the latest news and goings on. You can set up match alerts and get lineups, kick off, goals, and half and full time scores straight to your mobile. Simple, you just  wait and the results come straight to you.

The BBC has created this app well, the app gives you exactly what you want, the facts and figures of each game. No more no less.

Available on Android and iPhone

5. ITV Player

So you have been roped into the office on a Sunday or maybe you just want to watch game in bed (who can blame you England are out!) then  the ITV app is the one for you. You can live stream all the games straight to your mobile device, remember data charges apply if you are not connected to WiFi.

I know this app is a little different to the others mentioned but the live streaming aspect cannot be ignored, it works brilliantly, as long as you have internet signal…

Available on Android,  iPhone and Windows