The world of Android just got a little bit sweeter. The OS previously dubbed “Android L” now has a full name and full list of features and a brand new design for the popular Android platform.  Android Lollipop boasts a whole new set of features previously unseen on mobile devices all aimed at enhancing the user experience. A full list of them can be found on the official page, but here some of the key ones that stood out to us.

  • Users can create multiple users for a device, allowing users to share a device without sharing their files and apps as well. Google claims that this is a great feature for devices that are shared among family members.
  • Screen pinning allows users to pin a screen so another user can access just that content without messing with other apps or files.
  • ART, a new runtime that improves a user’s apps performance.
  • “Tap & Go Setup”  Users can set up a new Android device by simply tapping it to their old one (requires NFC which most devices are equipped with).
  • Better battery life management adds an estimated 90 minutes of life to your device.

And of course all the features are wrapped up in Material Design, Google’s new design methodology for their operating systems and applications. Material design is centered around building clean interfaces that are stylish, intuitive, and responsive to the user. Some Google apps have already made the switch to material design and the first batch of reviews cast a positive light on the mobile OS. Android Lollipop brings a whole new look and feel for Android, one that aims to unite the user with the device. Nice work Google!

The Internet of Things

By on October 24, 2014

You’ve probably heard this term tossed around in casual conversation or in an article about emerging technology. In essence the Internet of Things (IoT)  is a system of various sensors and devices all linked together to process or gather information. The linking of these devices doesn’t have to be over the internet either, it could be via radio waves or a local wireless network disconnected from the internet.

To most the internet is a network they can use to gather information from easily. To the more tech savvy it’s a connection of computers talking to each other to accomplish their user’s (humans) end goals. The internet at its core is a means to communicate with each other. The Internet of Things is basically taking this existing network framework and using it to collect data and organize it.

So the next question is; what are the “Things” in the Internet of Things? Simply put a “Thing” could be any object that is connected to an electrical power source. It could be a heart monitor, a motion sensor, or even a toaster. Yes, even a toaster can join the IoT and someone has already joined the two together. Granted this toaster serves little purpose in the real world, but it shows perfectly how the IoT functions in  a very entertaining way. Basically when Trevor – the user – pushes the lever down on his toaster to start the toasting process the toaster sends a tweet letting the world know it has started toasting. When it’s done it sends another tweet to let everyone know that the toasting has been completed. You can see a record of toast on  the toaster’s twitter profile.

That’s the basic function of the Internet of Things the communication and gathering/analyzing of real world events and broadcasting them to be analysed and organized by another computer or person. Now that the technology to create or make anything into a wireless devices is readily available, just about anything can become an “internet thing.” The IoT is fundamentally changing how we can collect and analyze data and its just getting started.

Plastic Mobile’s CEO Sep Seyedi, and Creative Director Jason Hyde sat down with Rob Woodbridge of Untether.tv to discuss Plastic’s Mobile Innovation Lab as well as updates in the world of mobile devices and how Plastic has helped the mobile space grow since the last interview three years ago.

All leading to the question of how the Innovation Lab has been helping brands keep ahead of trends in technology. The Lab as Jason describes it is “a place where our creative team and our hardware and software engineers can play together and come up with new things and experiences.” It’s a place that allows Plastic to create and develop new technologies, or a new application of existing technologies to benefit present and future clients.

The trio then discussed Hyphen, Plastic’s newest BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) touchless payment and loyalty device, which allows retailers to accept payments and provide offers over BLE through existing (and old) POS systems. Hyphen requires minimal integration and with the advent of mobile wallets it has a wide range of uses, including capturing customer data. Coupled with bluetooth low energy technology, Hyphen can provide a variety of functions very easily.

Before Sep and Jason sign off they discuss wearables and the idea of creating a seamless connection between the user and their environment all while creating meaningful engagement with them. Sep goes on to share his excitement for more development of the Internet of Things (IoT) as the ability to make just about anything a smart device is not only just awesome, but interesting to imagine what kind of interactions can be formed around them.

Check out the full interview.

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French fashion brand, Le Monde D’Hermès, teamed up with Mrzyk and Moriceau for its fall-winter 2014 digital magazine edition. The app features many interactive and animated features designed by the artistic duo to portray a more fun and whimsical content experience.

Plastic’s COO & President, Melody Adhami, had a chance to play with the app and comment on the design and strategy with Luxury Daily and said “It is refreshing! Mobile users interact with plenty of apps daily with similar UI designs. Having a UI such as the Hermès app certainly stands out and creates a memorable experience.”

The article states that the app doesn’t showcase the brand’s apparel, however it does create a unique user experience. Users can interact with each shape on the screen which leads them to a new magazine page with more animations.

Despite the unique approach to launching its fall-winter magazine edition, Melody noted that “While the cartoons may be aimed at captivating the younger, and more mobile savvy demographic, it may be a little confusing for the rest of the brand’s following.”

As a consumer, does the Le Monde D’Hermès app entice you into purchasing their magazine? Tweet us @plasticmobile

 

Apple Reveals More

By on October 17, 2014

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Yesterday Apple unveiled some details about their products for the coming year. First on the agenda; iPhone 6 & 6 Plus release statistics. We’re not surprised to find that Apple has pulled off the biggest launch of their phones this year making record sales and deliveries worldwide. Speaking of world wide, 32 countries are iPhone enabled with China set to get the next batch of fresh iPhones. Overall Apple said that the response and demand was surprising and they’re glad their frontline employees handled the demand extremely well.

CEO Tim Cook proceeded to talk about Apple Pay next saying that the anticipated contactless mobile payment service will be available in the upcoming iOS 8.1 update scheduled to land on Monday, the 20th of October. Tim also revealed an additional 500 banks have signed on to Apple Pay in addition to all the US banks and credit card providers. And in one last surprise, Apple Pay can be used in-app and online on the web effectively enabling a one stop payment function to any mobile purchase. This will certainly be a pay-game changer!

Another reveal was the release of OS X Yosemite, a new Mac and iPad mini 3 with retina display-the usual things we’ve come to expect from the smart device giant. Yosemite features a whole new design that matches iOS 8, and comes with the ability to make SMS and regular phone calls. This might annoy some of the telecoms, just a bit. Craig Federighi, the VP of Software Engineering showed off the calling feature with a conversation with Stephen Colbert who before hanging up told Craig to get back to work on Apple Watch because “You know what I see when I look at my wrist?…My wrist!” Before signing off Craig said that Yosemite is now available for download, and it’s 100% free.

Overall the event served as an in-depth look at their new releases and upcoming products. Although the announcements of the new iPads felt a little flat the promise of Apple Pay and new features for the ever growing family of devices Apple has begun to offer show that they’re still able to offer a wide range of services across an even wider range of devices.

PS: If you missed out on the live keynote you can find the recorded version on Apple’s website.

Beacon Etiquette

By on October 16, 2014

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With great power comes great responsibility. As cliche as that sounds its very accurate when it comes to beacons. Beacons have the ability to target a wide range of mobile devices within its proximity as well as provide marketers with a great deal of consumer information and interaction. However depending on how well they use this technology, they can end up making users feel bombarded by advertisements.

In a recent study by InMarket, users that were aggressively targeted with notifications stopped using the app. The research then shifted to targeting with notifications that aimed to engage users in more informative ways. Rather than message the user when they enter, they sent messages to them in specific contexts and delivered helpful messages to them. By delivering more contextually appropriate notifications relevant to the mobile moment which can be defined as the time and places a customer pulls out a mobile device to access vital information in context to the task at hand. Beacons proved to be more effective and achieved an increase of approximately 5 times more interactions.

The landscape of beacons right now can be compared easily to that of the early days of internet advertising. There’s a lot of experimentation and it is taking brands time to zero in on effective strategies as well as the software and hardware pairing that will yield the best results. Thus far the research has shown that beacons are better suited as an informational platform rather than the overused shopping messenger that has quickly become infamous. Yet the data-mining tools and capabilities within the beacon world have been underutilized.

 

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In most cases, consumers take the time to research before making a big purchase – cars, homes and a $45,000 camera included. With the growing rise of consumers turning to their mobile devices for research, Swedish camera brand Hasselblad, has taken the insights and opportunity to release a catalogue app that will provide customers with relevant product information.

Melody Adhami, Plastic’s very own COO & President, shared her industry insights with Luxury Daily on Hasselblad’s mobile strategy and described the app as “a great way to showcase their collection in lieu of a sales representative.” However, she believes that “there’s a lot more Hasselblad could have offered it’s mobile audience to drive engagement and retention.”

Melody cited that “Hasselblad will achieve success with the app by delivering sufficient education material and incorporating interactive touch points on the app.”

When asked about/questioned about the possibility of catalogue apps replacing traditional stores, she said that it had the potential, but “there will always be shoppers that prefer shopping in-store, those that want to be able to do everything via their mobile devices and others that will jump from one to another.”

Do you think catalogue apps can drive showrooms and physical retail spaces to extinction? Join the conversation by tweeting us @PlasticMobile.

 

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The mobile industry is constantly changing on the fly with evolving user behaviours and new technology releases; which is why we at Plastic take the time to understand new trends and share our knowledge with our Mobile X report.

Canada’s leading technology media property, Techvibes, featured an article on Plastic’s Mobile X Summer Report and it findings. The report reviews current trends and developments in the mobile space, including mobile payments & banking, and beacon technology.

The Mobile X Summer Report summarizes everything you need to know about what’s new in the industry over the course of June and July 2014. It provides current statistics on everything from couponing, QR codes and push notifications to mobile web vs. mobile app usage.

Be sure to read our Mobile X Summer Report for more information on the most talked about topics from the summer months.

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A few short weeks ago, the team at Apple reached out to Plastic in hopes of securing an iOS 8 Launch Partner for Touch ID integration – and we’re thrilled to announce that our client and world’s largest coalition loyalty program, AIR MILES, made the cut. As an official partner, the latest AIR MILES iPhone app allows users with an iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus running on iOS 8 to sign-in to the loyalty program via Touch ID.

In 2013, Apple first introduced its Touch ID feature with the release of iPhone 5S and iOS 7. Touch ID is a personal fingerprint sensor which (until iOS 8) only allowed users to authenticate to unlock an iPhone. Now with iOS 8 available, Apple has opened up the Touch ID API’s, so that everything from passwords to mobile apps can be authenticated with a fingerprint.

The new addition to the AIR MILES app was received with much anticipation, topping the “Best New App” chart on the App Store as well as the topping the trending searches all weekend!

Be sure to check out the new AIR MILES app and tweet us your thoughts on iOS 8!

 

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It’s been an exciting few months in the industry, and we were excited to have the opportunity to attend this year’s Deloitte 360 conference in Toronto, Ontario just last week. Exploring the exponential growth in technology and its impact on brands and consumers alike, as well as the latest developments in mobile shopping and digital payments – the conference covered it all.

We were particularly intrigued by the morning session, “Power Shifts, Digitalization, & Exponential Technologies,” which analyzed the growing shift happening in the retail industry. Did you know, there has been a 41% (up from 21% last year) rise in manufacturers becoming more retail based? As consumers are increasingly becoming digital and ecommerce continues evolving – so are manufacturers. Up until now, the supply chain has included manufacturing, retail, consumer; however recent trends show manufacturers creating their own online retail spaces, by-passing the middle-man retailer. For example Home Depot is closing physical locations and putting the saved cost of operations into its online assets as it tries to compete with only online competitor Builddirect. Doing so cuts down their shipping costs and allows for more control of price and profits.

Deloitte’s Director of Tech, Media & Telecom Research Duncan Stewart also walked us through early predictions. And despite what you may think about desktop computers, they’ll be sticking around for a little while longer. PC sales and usage may be falling, however according to Deloitte, usage remains high. The explanation is simply ease of use, students and young professionals may be attached to their mobile devices, but only a desktop computer can make writing a 1500 word essay easy.

And who can forget about wearables? Deloitte called the entire shift into question. As a whole, they are comparatively the January gym membership, overtime usage decreases overtime to the point that eventually they are not used at all. In general, devices like Google Glass are better suited for the health sector or an industrial market as they can provide real time information easily to the wearer.

Overall the conference was very relevant and insightful, and we will no doubt start to see predictions unfold in the next year.