Plastic President and co-founder, resident artist and one-woman mobile think-tank Melody Adhami was quoted by luxury daily again. This time, on the topic of mobile ads for luxury brands and the importance of a call to action.
When it comes to adding a call to action in Luxury brands mobile ads, Melody suggested, “I think a call to action can be very important and paramount to success, but in some instances I think great brands can get the message across loud and clear without saying a single word.”
“Luxury brands fall into the category of great brands that can get away with this.”
Of course sometimes a call to action is necessary, but mobile requires you to think within certain constraints.
“Because of mobile’s inherent screen limitations, brands need to pare down ads to the most basic essence and every pixel needs to be accounted for,” says Melody.
She also notes that, “Since words take up valuable screen real-estate, a call to action should be short, direct, clear and easy for the user to act on or follow.”
What are your thoughts on how major brands should be using the limited screen space of mobile? Let us know on Twitter @PlasticMobile
Nowadays, with smartphone image quality nearing that of most point-and-shoot cameras, along with the inherent convenience of mobile, more and more people are using their devices as their go-to camera.
As a result of this trend, we are seeing a constantly increasing amount of photography apps popping up. These apps offer users a variety of innovative features not found in native apps. One such app is creating somewhat of a buzz latley, by offering its users an opportunity to make money doing something that they are already doing for free.
Much like Instagram, Foap allows users to create profiles, upload photos, rate photos and follow other users. AND, remarkably similar to a stock photography site, Foap has created a marketplace where photographs can be bought and sold.
That’s right! Users can actually make money selling the digital photos taken with their iPhones – capitalism wins again!
However, it should be noted that uploaded photos must first be reviewed by someone, we assume a photography expert, at Foap. So, only the approved photos are uploaded to the Foap market and put on sale for $10, with all transactions processed through PayPal.
When a user’s photo is sold, the generated revenue is split 50/50 between Foap and the user. I know $5 doesn’t sound like much, but just consider what Instagram users get for uploading their photos (hint; the answer is nothing).
It’s not very clear exactly what Foap looks for when reviewing photos, but from what I have read in the app’s FAQ section, photos must be clear and of good quality, and of course free of any sexual or violent content.
I have also read elsewhere, that editing photos decreases the chance that they will be published. I, myself was unable to upload some cropped images. I received an error message stating that either the width or length of an image must be at least 1000 pixels.
Once photos are successfully uploade, reviewed and published, they are showcased in the app’s market section. Users can access the market through a tab menu found on the home screen. The home screen is very easy to learn and navigate, making for speedy discovery and exploration of the app.
Once in the market, users are able browse through published photos, leave comments and rate them out of a possibe five stars. Top rated and recently sold photos have their own dedicatd sections in the market, while the entire selection can be found under the “Explore” tab.
Users are not actually able to purchase photos directly from the app, but I predict that will change eventually. Until that time, however, anyone wishing to purchase a photo must do so through the company’s website.
However, while viewing a particular photo, users can tap an arrow icon loacated at top right of their screens, which gives them a few options. Selecting “View on Market” will launch Safari and take users to that particular picture’s page on the website.
I have been playing around with this app for a few days now, and I must admit that I have become a bit addicted. For the purpose of this review, I actually snapped this photo and uploaded it. Once it was approved and published, my picture quickly picked up a few five-star ratings and made its way onto the top-rated chart under the “Today” category. In fact, it made it all the way to #2!
Every since then, I have been snapping away, trying repeat my accomplishment. I have introduced a few friends to Foap who are now also hooked. We’ve even mafe a friendly bet between us as to who will be the first to actually sell a photo.
Even is you have little interest in selling your images, I would still recommend giving this app a try. Foap is well designed and easy to learn and use. It can also be alot of fun and can even possibly get you paid for your amateur photography! Yay!
This story begins at a business networking event that I attended a few weeks ago. It was being hosted by one of Canada’s largest retailers (who shall remain un-named for the purpose of this post).
I was surprised to learn that this national chain is still very much a family business, with the son of the founder currently overseeing operations. We had a nice chat about their many successes over the past few years and I had to ask; “What are you doing in mobile?” To my horror, he replied: “Nothing. It’s not for us.”
I’m not going to recap the entire dialogue, though it did get rather interesting, especially when his “agency” representative added his two cents, stating: “this mobile fad is going to fade.” Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge this perspective – one that I think is too-commonly held by pure-play retailers.
One of the advantages of working in a somewhat conservative marketplace (read: the Canadian marketplace) is that you get to learn from the mistakes of your bolder neighbours in the South. When Amazon’s price comparison app was released, it shook the foundations of the traditional retail model. However, the consumer behaviour was already shifting long before that.
Consumers have stopped relying on retailers’ storefront employees to educate them, but are sourcing all kinds of information for themselves. Through online forums like product review sites or blogs, the consumer has taken charge of finding unbiased reviews and, ultimately, making smarter purchase decisions. Of course, price plays a big role in that.
It’s because of this ready access to information that online shopping exploded. Consumers demanded more choice and convenience at better prices, and buying power got a whole new meaning (emphasis on the “power”).
Fast forward to the current landscape. The smart retailers took note of how their customers’ needs and behaviours were changing and acted quickly to better cater to this change. Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Walmart took steps to shift from pure-play brick and mortar to a hybrid model, where they make their offerings available wherever their customers are; online, in store or on their mobile device (and potentially browsing in a competitor’s location).
Basically, they haven’t limited their services to a single shopping option, rather, they are letting the customer choose for his or herself.
Sears certainly learned their lesson after shutting down several stores and now are offering drive-through services, where customers can pick-up, return or exchange without having to get out of their car and not have to wait for it to arrive in the mail either. Wow. Good job, Sears.
If there’s anything we can all agree on its that happy customers yield loyalty, and loyalty yields revenue.
So, to look into the future of retail, we think you need to take a look at what customers are doing, and what you can do to make them happier. The average consumer today leads a busy life, relying heavily on technology to make them more efficient. They have options and tend to opt for convenience and simplicity as defined by themselves. Sometimes it’s convenient to have products delivered, and sometimes waiting is inconvenient, so the key is giving your customer the choice.
Enough of the players in the market are making changes towards a hybrid model that soon we will start to see online retailers set up brick and mortar shops. Those in the hybrid arc will thrive while the others will eventually go the way of the Dodo.
Tweet us @plasticmobile and share your thoughts on mobile in retail.
After reading this report on last year’s holiday shopping season, we began to wonder how many retailer’s would learn their lesson for 2012.
In November of 2011, mobile took the holiday shopping scene by storm, ravaging the purchasing stats and making a mess of retailer’s traditional approach to advertising and marketing opportunities.
The report, from JWT, is from the survey of 465 mobile shoppers and hopes to shed a little light on the potential impact of web-savvy mobile devices on retail environments, e- and m-commerce and consumer behaviour and mobile device use.
Four extremely interesting facts for retailer’s to consider when sitting down to do create their strategies for the 2012 holiday shopping season:
1. On average, 55% of consumers who shopped on mobile devices in the past year also took the same actions during the holiday season.
2. 55% used their smartphones to find price info, 46% to get more info and 38% to make a purchase.
3. Men and Millennials did the most mobile shopping during the 2011 holiday season.
4. Of those who shop on their mobile device, 69% say the mobile shopping experience is either “excellent” or “very good.”
Last week at Google I/O 2012, it was announced that Chrome, the popular internet browser, was coming to iOS. Hours later, it was available in the App Store for all iOS devices.
I’ve been using it for the last few days and have found it to be a very easy transition from Safari on my iPhone – though, I should mention that I use Chrome daily as my go-to browser on my Mac. In fact, with the exception of a few minor differences, the iOS version doesn’t look or feel much different.
Google Chrome on the iPhone
Upon launching the app, I was first greeted with a screen displaying the Google Chrome Terms of Service that I had to agree to before I could continue any further.
Once the formalities were out of the way, I was given given the option of signing in using my email address and password or continue without doing so.
I chose to sign in, as doing so gave me access to my open tabs, and bookmarks from my laptop. I found this feature to be very useful, as it allows for users to grab their phones and pick up right where they left off on their computer. Meaning that, in a sense, the Chrome application for iOS bridges the gap between the desktop and our mobile devices. Finally!
To access bookmarks and open tabs that exist on other devices, users select the corresponding tab near the bottom of the screen while in a new tab. Alternatively, they can tap the menu icon to the right of the address field and select the “Other Devices” option.
Another thing I like about Chrome is something called “incognito mode,” which is basically the equivalent to Safari’s private browsing. The main difference between the two is that Chrome makes switching between regular and incognito browsing easy and quick, while Safari users are forced to navigate away from the browser and make the change in Settings.
To enter incognito mode, users tap on the menu icon next to the address bar and select “New Incognito Tab.” This opens a new tab where users can browse without having their browsing history, searches and cookies saved.
Incognito tabs have a dark grey menu bar at the top of the screen, while regular tabs are light grey. This colour coding helps users keep track of which tabs are incognito and which are not. I really appreciated this feature since you’re probably broswing a la incognito for a reason, so confusing the two could result in bad news.
For me, it’s the simplicity of Chrome that makes it a good browser. Unlike Safari, which has two separate fields for URLs and searches, Chrome has one universal text field for both. Because Chrome can detect what it is you are trying to do, with the Google guess, there is no need for two separate fields. Chrome will either navigate to your desired site or provide Google search results for your query.
Users can also speak to Chrome to tell it where to go or what to search. Just by tapping a small microphone icon in the far right of the URL/search field, then dictating either a URL or keywords, Chrome will produce your results just like that.
Make the switch?
Overall, I enjoyed Chrome and believe it to be a fairly good alternative to Safari. Particularly for users who are already using it on their desktops.
But in the end, it ultimately comes down to preference. Users know what they value and what they like. For example, it has been reported that Chrome is the slower of the two browsers, making Safari a better choice for those who value speed. However, I’m sure any difference in page loading times is minimal, as I did not even notice it.
The biggest problem with Chrome for iOS is that there is no way to set is as the default browser, which means that links from messages, emails and other apps will continue to be opened in Safari. Leaving Chrome secondary browser. Boo.
What do you think of the Chrome app? Love it? Hate it? Tweet us @plasticmobile and share your thoughts.
A few weeks back, Plastic’s CEO, Sep Seyedi, was attending WWDC 2012 and sent an email to us here at the office recommending we checkout a specific application. Right away, I knew it was going to be something great because Sep wouldn’t waste our time with anything less than fantastic.
National Geo’s Parks in an App
National Parks has all the elements of a great app. It is beautifully designed, easy to learn and use, and the attention to detail is impeccable. It also offers substantial amounts of functionality for those want it. However, what impressed me most about this app was its clean, intuitive and uncluttered UI, coupled with its cool transitions and animations. Not to mention the stunning photos that utilize the iPhone’s retina display.
This app is perfect for those who want to plan their next great camping trip. Users are given all the basic park info that is necessary to plan a getaway to any of the 20 most visited national parks in the United States.
This includes information on how to get there, when to go, entrance fees, special advisories and of course the parks contact info. Users are also given weather conditions (current and a five-day forecast), stats about the park (number of annual visitors and park size) and some amazing photos of the scenery.
Additional information is available in the form of park guides, which users can purchase in app. The first guide is free of charge and subsequent guides cost anywhere from $0.99 – $1.99. With the guides users get additional photos, park secrets, suggestions of what to see, what to do and photo tips.
Photo tips are a great feature of this app. The National Geographic Society is known for amazing photography and now, with this app, users get all the information they need to snap their own masterpieces.
With the photo tips, users get the location (GPS coordinates), time of day, camera details and difficulty levels for each individual photo. They also get an overview and some fairly detailed instructions from the actual photographer who took that particular photo.
All in all, National Parks delivers a great mobile app experience. It offers a bunch of features wrapped in a very pretty package and believe it has a little something for everyone.
Granted, not all people are into camping and the outdoors. However, most people do appreciate the beauty of nature, and some people, myself included, value the beauty of a great app.
I have discussed this app with some colleagues and, as people who truly appreciate great design, attention to detail and great usability, we know that those elements are extremely important to producing a great experience for the end user and we all agree that the Apple Design Award was well deserved
Yesterday, Plastic’s management and creative teams got up early to hit the links for a day of fun in the sun (and a bit of rain) at the 4th annual IAB Golf Tournament.
We brought one our amazing artists with us to hole six North. He spent the day creating custom illustrations of the teams that came through the hole.
These amazing drawings were then printed out after the tournament for the groups to pick up and display proudly in their homes or offices!
To anyone who didn’t get their illustration, please feel free to tweet us @plasticmobile and we’ll be happy to mail you your copy.
A big thanks to everyone who participated and to iab Canada for yet another successful event.
The latest in Android anti-virus, called Sophos Mobile Security, has produced a report identifying the top five most frequently encountered scary problems on the platform. The first, PJApps-C, is Android’s most significant chaos causer. See the chat above and the list below for more on Android’s scariest viruses.
Read more in depth about each of them HERE
While many people may not give a second thought to the mobile computing threats emerging as the mobile industry continues to grow and expand, there is some cause for concern. Thankfully, the company Veracode has got our backs. They’ve recently released a free ebook about mobile security that offers 10 simple ways to ramp up the company protection against a very real growing mobile threat. Get the free ebook HERE.
This week, I want to discuss yet another Clear-like task management app. This one is different from the rest and I definitely recommend checking it out (especially if you are a fan of Clear and, well just apps in general).
If you remember, a few weeks ago I wrote about an app called Well Done, which in my opinion was a cheap knockoff of one of my all-time favourite apps (Clear). Overall, I thought Well Done showed some potential in the added functionality it offered, but failed overall because of a lack of refinement and fine-tuning.
This brings me to Task, which is another task management app that has recently come out of the woodwork following the success of Clear. Task, however, is the only app that I think can stand in the same shoes as Clear.
Task offers a simple and intuitive interface, fun gesture-based interactions and allows users to add to do items quickly and with ease.
Same Same, but Different
Yes, Task has obviously been heavily inspired by the Clear app – the similar interface and the use of some of the same gesture-based interactions are very evident. However, I believe enough significant changes were made to give the app its own unique look and feel.
For example, the colour coding in Clear, which signifies the importance of each task, has been removed and replaced with a small yellow badge that appears on a task when it is marked important, taking away the range of importance levels and leaving the user with just the options of important or not important.
The benefit of removing the colour coding is that, in some cases, it may simplify things a tad. For example, when all tasks on a list share the same level of urgency, Clear’s rainbow colour-coding loses its value and may even become somewhat of a distraction to users.
Another difference between Task and Clear lies in the manner in which users add new tasks to their lists. In Clear, users perform a downward swipe, which would pull down on the list exposing a blank task at the top. However, Task users swipe upward to expose a blank task at the bottom of the list.
While the gestures for creating new tasks are different within either app, the gestures for marking tasks as completed and for deleting tasks remain the same. However, the transitions and visual feedback cues are slightly different. The transitions in Task are reminiscent of the fold-to-unlock jailbreak.
Task users have the added ability to mark tasks with dates and set up a notification for a certain time on that day. Using this feature is very intuitive and easy. The combination of gesture-based interactions, coupled with the fold-to-unlock transition, makes this feature also very enjoyable to use.
Another little feature: Task has a nifty gesture-based interaction for checking the time and date. Users pull down on the list to see the current time and date and simply let go when they’re done.
One thing I really missed in Task was the ability to create multiple lists to better manage and organize my many tasks. Clear allows users to do just that, and also made navigating between lists easy and fun with its use of the pinch gesture.
Overall, I like Task, but not because I think it’s anything new or particularly innovative. Rather, I like Task because it’s a further refined take on something that was both new and innovative.
I think Task succeeds where others, like Well Done, have failed. Meaning, it has succeeding in re-creating Clear in a way that captures its essence (minimalist, simple and fun), offers a comparable level of UX and can still be differentiated as something relatively new.
Do you have the Task app? Tweet us @plasticmobile and let us know what you think!
I recently experienced one of the worst cases of smartphone withdrawal after losing my iPhone while fishing on Balsam Lake in Ontario. I’m not sure exactly when and where it happened, but I’m fairly confident that my phone is currently baffling a school of minnows.
The following two days without a phone proved difficult, to say the least. I found myself reaching for my nonexistent phone every time someone else’s started ringing. Finally, on day three, I was able to find a replacement. Much relieved, I then proceeded to devote more than four hours playing around with my new device as though trying to make up for lost time.
I first recovered all my data from a backup, then reacquainted myself with all my go-to apps, setting them up just as they were prior to losing my phone. Once I had finally got that out of my system, I moved on to installing and trying out a collection of new apps. Frankly, it had been a while since my last visit to the App Store, so I needed my fix.
During this App Store binge I cam across some pretty cool apps – two in particular. The first app, Timegg, is a fresh alternative that is perfect for those who have grown a little tired of iOS’s native clock app and are craving some change. The second is a great photo-editing app that uses gesture controls to deliver a great experience.
Timegg is a sexy and well-designed app that can be a fresh alternative to the native iOS clock app. The interface and the navigation are extremely simple and intuitive. Especially, when you consider all the functionality that is essentially displayed and accessible from a single screen.
Users can easily navigate between the colour-coded Alarms, Reminders, Timers and D-day sections by either swiping horizontally near the header section at the top of the screen, or by tapping the corresponding corner in the bottom portion of the screen.
I especially liked this because it works great as an alternative to the conventional iOS style tab navigation that you usually see at the bottom of the screen. Moreover, it allows for better consistency among all four sections. This consistency makes learning to use and navigate the app extremely easy (once you learn to use one, you have essentially learned them all).
I’ve been using Timegg mostly as an alarm for the past few days and am very pleased with it. You are able to set up to 8 alarms and doing so is very fast and easy.
You are able choose from one of 16 pre-loaded wake-up tones, or set a song from your music library, as I like to do.
I really enjoyed how easy it was to set up repeating alarms. It was much quicker than the native clock app and delivered a superior experience. Instead of being taken to another screen to individually tap each day that I want my alarm to go off, I could quickly select multiple days without multiple taps. More importantly, I could do it without having to be taken to another screen, only to be returned to that initial screen.
Overall, Timegg is fun and a little refreshing. It may not offer some of the functions that the native Clock app does (World Clock & Stopwatch), but it offers its own unique set of functions and does so in a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing way.
I have read one review complaining of unreliability. Citing that the app sometimes fails to deliver notifications if left running in the background for long periods of time, and only delivers those notifications once the app is re-opened.
I haven’t experienced any such problems myself, but I also haven’t been using the app for that long. I’ll keep you posted as I continue to use it, and will let you know if I come across any reliability issues in the future.
Snapseed is one of many photo-editing apps that can be found in the App Store. In Canada, this app is currently sitting in the #5 spot on the Top Free chart, and I can see it climbing even greater heights.
Even though I found the overall app great, the selection of tools and filters to be extensive and the sharing capabilities to be on par with other similar apps, the thing that impressed me most and made Snapseed stand out, was the use of gesture controls.
These gestures are intuitive and don’t take much time master. They make switching between adjustment options within each tool or filter very simple and fast. Users can swipe up or down to switch between the various adjustment options and swipe left or right to adjust how heavily that option is applied.
I found that the use of gesture controls in the app worked great to increase efficiency and enjoyment. I almost always enjoy using apps that employ gesture controls, because I find that tapping has become slightly repetitive and mundane.