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At this year’s FFWD2014 Advertising and Marketing Week, the Royal Bank of Canada announced the launch of electronic money transfer through Facebook Canada’s messenger. RBC believes mobile commerce needs to be for all customers, on all phones, with all carriers and include value added solutions – with all the security they expect from a financial institution. We were excited to catch up with Head of Emerging Payments at RBC, Jeremy Bornstein to learn more about RBC’s plans for innovation today and moving forward.

Q. When it comes to innovation, what is the biggest area of focus for RBC?

We’re the first bank in the world that allows you to pay not only with credit, but also with domestic debit. Within seconds of opening RBC Mobile Banking for the first time, you can add your RBC debit and credit cards to ensure that you have that choice at point of sale. RBC Mobile Banking clients are able to purchase goods and services with either their RBC Interac Debit or Visa credit cards using their Bell Mobility Android smartphone.

Q. How are you driving acquisition, engagement and loyalty through emerging payments?

There are different elements to consider here. It’s not about being first with certain capabilities to market, it’s about delivering the best solutions to our clients. Over time, we will continue to deliver the best capabilities and solutions for our clients. The RBC Wallet officially launched to the general public earlier this year but, has been in market since the fall of 2013 through the RBC Road Test, which involved providing a phone and access to services –real and future – to a cross section of customers, merchants, network operators, acquirers and RBC employees. Their engagement and feedback helped shape future capabilities of the RBC Wallet. In fact, the current solution has incorporated much of their feedback. The focus on innovation is about applying next generation capabilities in the most secure way possible. More broadly, we are trying to make it easier for clients to interact with RBC products and services.

Q. How are you using mobile channels as a differentiator?

The position that we’ve taken is security and we think it’s a big one; we take security very seriously. Also, choice; this is the message we are giving both to merchants as well as consumers that we’re standing behind. We are continually enhancing and refining our mobile commerce solution to meet our clients’ needs, while ensuring the safety and security of our clients’ personal and financial information.

Q. It seems that every bank in Canada is in the race to create a mobile wallet, particularly the telecommunication companies. Why do you think this is?

I think it’s exciting that there are a lot of players working on bringing mobile wallets to the hands of consumers. We have well over 25% penetration of contactless terminals in Canada and many of the largest merchants are enabled. We believe that the plastic card in your wallet is very efficient, very effective and very simple. We are working closely with a series of merchants to deliver clients their stores, to provide them with targeted offers and help clients increase their loyalty and get a really rewarding experience. Mobile is more than just a matter of taking your phone out and tapping it.

Q. How do you think banking behaviour in Canada specifically will be effected mobile in the next  5 years? Where do you see the industry headed?

A. That’s difficult to say, but if I were to wager at some point I’d say it’d all be centered on the mobile phone. One view, [let’s look 2 years out] is that roughly 50% of our clients will interact with us primarily through mobile and that number is going to dramatically grow. We will provide a very rich experience for clients to be able to not only interact with merchants effectively but also with their budgets, banking, and many of the traditional services that we would do today through a branch.

 

wireframe-mobile-blueprint

While brands continue to revisit their mobile initiatives, IBM research shows that fewer than half of them have clear mobile strategies in place. In today’s overcrowded mobile app market, just having a presence isn’t enough. Every company caters to a different audience and the best way to ensure leadership among the masses is by honing your focus on the end-user, your customers.

A crucial and yet often overlooked aspect of mobile strategy is research; it is the one theme throughout strategy planning that will recur every step of the way. Basically, if you don’t do your homework – you won’t make the grade.

Five Tips for Mobile Strategy

1) Industry Analysis

The first step in a strong mobile strategy is researching the industry for which the app is being built. Strategists must go beyond mobile to understand the consumer needs prior to designing the app itself. At this stage, the main objective is to understand the business, such as their long-term goals and expectations when launching a mobile app. In addition to understanding short and long-term goals, it is essential to find out who the key players are and what they offer in terms of mobile.

The Question: What will this app offer my customer who already uses mobile & what would encourage them to keep using it?

2) Customer Behaviour

Now that you’ve done some homework about the industry, it’s time to think about customer behaviours in relation to mobile, and how people connect with their phones and specifically, apps. If customers are connecting through specific apps over others, find out why! Demographics will vary when it comes to app utilization. For instance, a business has to consider the types of customers that will value their products. What kind of buying choices would matter to this demographic and how do they utilize mobile in their daily buying activities? By researching previous trends and identifying mobile behaviours of targeted consumers, the app can be customized with a more personalized user experience.

The Question: How will this app improve customer and user experiences?

3) Customer Reviews & Data Tracking

It’s important to look at the reviews of other apps in the same genre. This will provide insights into pain points and opportunities. It may also be useful to do an audit of the current apps leading the app space in the specified field of interest. Moving further into this process, analytics will come in handy. With the advent of honing a plethora of data in real-time, the numbers can become overwhelmingly large. Understanding these numbers can unlock many valuable insights for ways to improve the app.

Don’t forget: not every customer is going to write a review or rate the app, and that’s why it’s so important to use data analytics. It will gauge the level to which customers are involved with the app, how they are liking it, what’s working, and what’s not working. With this wealth of knowledge, you can continue to refine the app.

4) Putting the Pieces Together

After compiling your research, it’s time to take the puzzle of information, and piece it together until the final picture emerges. This step will incorporate putting steps 1-3 together to find trends, analyze information, and think about the way you will utilize mobile in the best interest of customers. Think of the strategy as a holistic concept, each aspect will build on another to be integrated in the final plan. For instance, by taking industry analysis and coupling it with customer behaviour, trends can be identified. It’s time for creativity to come into play!

The New Challenge: Making the information gathered work for you while using a unique and colourful approach to personalize the app for the targeted audience.

5) Always Think a Few Steps Ahead

Whether it’s establishing a mobile payment option or using data to collect information, a company should prepare for the future by gauging consumer insights. Based on the fact that real-time data is readily available, it means that processes should be updated just as often to stay relevant. This can include implementation of different hardware devices such iPad or Tablets as well as smartphones. Additionally, it means integrating software with upcoming technologies (maybe BLE and Beacons).

Keep in mind: A mobile app is practically a means for the business to walk around with its consumers at all times, which is why planning ahead with strategy is a crucial step.

RLP_iphone

With the Spring home buying season just around the corner, Plastic Mobile is excited to announce the launch of Royal LePage’s new mobile app. Homebuyers can now get a head start on the real estate rove with this easy-to-use iOS app that simplifies the property search process with a new and innovative Draw-and-Search feature.

The new Royal LePage app is the first of its kind with this new tool that lets users draw out a search area of interest with the swipe of a finger. Users can also save their search in one tap to get updates on new homes, open houses, and current listings within the geographic areas selected.

This iOS app is the latest addition to Royal LePage’s suite of digital real estate solutions with Plastic Mobile. Just last year, the launch of the new mobile website provided more than double the number of home-sale listings thanks to innovative Google cloud-based services.

To find out more about this app, watch a video of it here and download it on your iPhone from the App Store.

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Since the introduction of mobile wallets, such as Google Wallet, ISIS, Roger’s Suretap Wallet and TD’s Ugo, there has been a lot of media buzz, but not enough consumer interest and adoption. Currently, only 31% of consumers who own a smartphone are interested in using a mobile wallet, with 11% actually using one. It seems that consumers are perfectly happy and accustomed to pulling out their credit or debit card and swiping at the cashier. So if wallet providers want to see a significant increase in the adoption, the benefits of mobile wallets will have to outweigh existing payment methods in order for them to fully replace physical wallets.

A big problem that third-party mobile wallets are experiencing at this early stage is low and fragmented merchant adoption. For example, Google Wallet payment services are only offered at “select” retailers, which leads to a very inconsistent shopping experience for consumers. On top of that, wireless carrier cooperation is difficult to obtain as they are also in the running to compete in the wallet space, as seen through the introduction of ISIS, backed by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, and suretap wallet by Rogers and Mastercard. Combined, mobile wallet’s limited availability from carriers and consumer uncertainty in retailer acceptance creates little incentive right now for consumers to switch over completely. So what will have better traction in 2014? The answer: branded mobile wallets.

Currently, brands have the perfect recipe for mobile wallet success: a strong brand presence, an established customer base, and app-savvy users. Branded mobile wallets make it easy for consumers to use because it flows into all stages of the purchase journey. From offering loyal consumers deals and discounts pre-purchase to in-store mobile payments and customer reviews, brands can leverage mobile wallets to enhance the entire shopping experience. A prime example of this is the international coffee giant, Starbucks. The seamlessly integrated loyalty program is the main incentive for Starbucks consumers to use the app. Processing more than 3 million transactions per week from the Starbucks Card Mobile App, their branded mobile wallet has proved to be a trailblazer in the mobile payments industry.

As more and more brands follow Starbuck’s path, branded mobile wallets will take the reins in 2014, putting third-party mobile wallets in the back seat.

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Every year in January, the Deloitte Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Conference 2014 makes a bunch of predictions about what will happen this year in tech. The theme of the conference this year was mass niches, which is a large group of people that have a select taste.

Here’s a recap of Deloitte’s 10 predictions:

Prediction 1: The converged living room: Less about hardware, more about software

Combined sales of tablets, TVs, PCs, gaming consoles and smartphones will exceed $750 billion, but this trend will not continue! Deloitte predicts the “converged living room” will not exceed the $800 billion mark and the market will plateau. While consumers will likely spend less on hardware, their entertainment dollars will move towards software. “The Next Big Thing” in hardware market is not visible yet: 3D printers and wearable technology will likely be big, but not enough to ‘move the needle’ in an $800-billion market. As a result, consumers will put more focus on software, services and content.

Prediction 2: Wearables: To wear or not to wear?

Deloitte predicts consumers will be wearing more than $3 billion worth of newly purchased wearable technology. While smart glasses will sell millions of units at a whopping $500/unit, totalling about $2 billion in 2014, sales for the rest of the wearables market- watches, wristbands, clothing- will amount to about half of the head mounted gear, in dollar terms. The tipping point for wearable technology is nowhere in sight. However, we can expect to see greater adoption in smart-work settings ie. law enforcement, factory work and other precision skill trades.

Prediction 3: e-Doctor: The Virtual Visit

Deloitte predicts eVisits are going mainstream with a 25% share of the potential market in North America and could save the healthcare system $5 billion. eVisits are part of a booming global telehealth market, which will reach an estimated $25 billion in 2015. Annual eVisits in Canada are growing by 50% a year. The healthcare industry can service 30% of in-person visits virtually.

Prediction 4: MOOCs will NOT jeopardize post-secondary education enrolment…YET

Deloitte predicts enrolment in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will be up 100% over 2012 to more than 10 million courses. While that seems to capture a great deal of the student audience, only 3% are actually graduating. We can expect more interest in MOOCs for short courses and specific curriculum.

Prediction 5: Extreme TV 2014

Deloitte predicts Canadians will watch more than 55 billion minutes of traditional TV per day. The average traditional TV viewing hours remain constant. The least voracious viewers will watch half an hour of TV a day, down an hour from 2004. But the top 20% of viewers are watching more than 8 hours a day. This opens the door for targeted ads for those 20% of the population who are watching that much TV. The challenge then becomes finding new channels to reach the remainder of the population.

Prediction 6: Doubling up on pay TV

Deloitte predicts that by the end of 2014, 100 million homes worldwide will be paying for two or more baskets of TV-like content. By the end of 2015, households subscribing to three or more content packages will amount to 20% of consumers in selected markets. We’re not quite ready to engage in cord-cutting, but more Canadians will engage in cord-stacking by adding other services to their existing cable service.

Prediction 7: Sports on TV = $$$

Deloitte predicts the global value of premium sports video rights will increase by 14% led by North American sports leagues and European soccer. While we’re not consuming TV the way we have previously, TV and cable audiences seem to be opting for sports.

Prediction 8: Voice usage: Mobile

Although no one really knows with any accuracy how Canadians are using their phones (Voice, Text, IM) Deloitte predicts about 20% of Canadian cellular customers will spend only three minutes per day talking. Voice minutes are marginally rising in Canada, but falling in the US and UK. And Americans use three-quarters of their total smartphone time – about one hour a day – on non-voice apps. What we do know about Canadians 18-34 is that they believe they’ll be talking, texting, and IMing more than any other age group in 2014.

Prediction 9: Rise of Phablets

Deloitte predicts that shipments of phablets – smartphones with screen sizes between 5.0” & 6.9″ – will represent 25% of the global market, or 300 million units. East Asian markets (minus Japan) will have a greater demand for the larger screen sizes due to the characters, but Canadian sales will likely be lower in the range of 15-20% of the $125 billion category. About ⅔ of phablet sales in 2014 will just barely meet the definition at 5.1” or less. Only 10% will measure more than 6.0”. This is an example of a mass niche. Although phablets represent only a portion of the wider market, it is still worth a lot of money and hundreds of millions of units will be purchased.

Prediction 10: Narrowing the gap

Deloitte predicts smartphone adoption will grow fastest among the 65+ crowd with 50% year-over-year-growth and over 40% market penetration. However, seniors are buying smartphones but using them like feature phones.

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The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) may long be over, but for mobile enthusiasts around the world, the party is just getting started.

With a theme of connectivity, the technology and products presented at CES gave consumers a glimpse into what their lives may look like in the not-too-distant future, with mobile devices playing a central role.

Here are 3 things that caught our eye from CES 2014:

1) If you can wear it, connect it

Wearable technology continues to captivate the imagination of brands and marketers alike. At this year’s show, manufacturers presented the next generation of wearable technology with an enhanced range of capabilities, such as ‘lifestyle trackers.’

For example, Sony wants to track activity and emotion through its products like Core. Reebok is also vying for position in this highly coveted market, introducing wearable technology, called CHECKLIGHT, that can help prevent injury to athletes in contact sports.

And you no longer have to worry about some of these devices clashing with your outfit. Designer Tory Burch has partnered with Fitbit to develop a line of necklace and wristband accessories to hold the Fitbit Flex, a fitness tracker device.

2) Tech-up your home

Home automation products were all the rage at this year’s show. Connectivity device maker Belkin presented an impressive collection of WiFi-enabled products called WeMo. From light bulbs to garage door openers and even sprinkler systems, consumers will be able to control these devices using their smartphone or tablet. Many of Belkin’s products are scheduled to be released this year.

3) Automobile Apps

Ever walk into a mall only to stop and wonder if you closed all the windows of your car?

Well, BMW feels your pain.

The premium car maker announced an app for the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The iRemote App will allow BMW i3 drivers to check vital car functions, check if windows are open or closed and even turn on the AC via the smartwatch.

 

A customer uses his new iPhone 4S after making the purchase at Apple's flagship retail store in San Francisco

It’s that time of the year folks, retailers are in a full-on battle for the consumers’ holiday spending dollars. Mobile is playing a crucial role in the shopping process these holidays. Many retailers are focusing their efforts on m-commerce, attempting to win-over customers through loyalty programs and mobile coupons. The significance of m-coupons & geo-fencing is seen in our mobile trends section of the Fall Report.

Mobile shopping is playing an important role in regions getting hit with the coldest temperatures & heaviest snow. The ability to go from search to purchase stage in a matter of a few taps on mobile is becoming an expectation for customers now. For regions with these harsher climates, mobile shopping presents a much more appealing alternative to brick & mortar locations particularly during the busy holiday season. The onus is on retailers to create a mobile shopping process that is on par with the in-store retail experience.

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With mobile commerce on everyones mind, we set out to outline mobile usability practices in the fashion retail industry and what they mean to mid-market fashion retailers. The study examines the challenges and opportunities that 10 fashion retail apps are facing in the mobile shopping space.

A team of mobile experts from different disciplines including strategy, design, UX architecture, technical engineering, and marketing, examined the mobile apps of 10 leading mid-market fashion retailers and tested them in various use cases. Each app was then rated against a vigorous set of predetermined criteria, essential to the fashion retail mobile space, and ranked from 1 to 10 based on the qualitative and quantitative data collected.

This report aims to provide recommendations for fashion retailers to truly harness the potential of connecting with customers through a mobile app. From the research and data collected, the main areas of opportunity identified for brands were the integration of social media, customer service, in-store experiences, and loyalty programs in their mobile apps.

Check out the Mobile X Retail App Report here!

FallreportPlastic’s research team continues to explore the latest trends and developments in the ever evolving world of mobile. In the latest Mobile X Monthly Report, the Fall Report, we highlight crucial emerging themes in the mobile space and explore strategies used by top tier brands to understand what’s working and opportunities for growth.

Our Fall Report wastes no time on pleasantries and dives head first into the mobile landscape. From local to the global marketplace, we review changes in the mobile market share and the second screen phenomena which sheds light on the necessity of an “all-screen” strategy and how to capitalize on a customer’s frequent switching between devices.

In addition, the report reviews mobile trends such as mobile payments, mobile wallets and digital couponing within specific industries including retail, travel, hospitality and banking.

This report cuts out the fluff to give you the raw statistics and insights. Please click here for a copy of the report. 

Although Canada and the US often feel like extensions of one another, there are many other differentiating characteristics between the two cultures, leading to disparate behavior patterns particularly when it comes to our consumption of goods and services. These different behavioral patterns affect what we produce, how we consume, and ultimately what we expect from the retailers we know and love.

We wanted to explore some of these differences in consumer behavior between Canadians and Americans, so we took it upon ourselves to get perspectives from both sides of the border and peek past the seemingly similar surface.

It’s very common for cross-over retailers to use a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy for both Canadian and American customers. However the differences in cultural and behavioral factors result in disparate and sometimes ineffective messaging. One consideration that we’re faced with in the mobile marketing space is mobile adoption behavior discrepancies that ultimately affect how consumers shop on mobile devices on either side of the border.

To learn more about what keeps U.S. retailers up at night when they’re looking to enter into the Canadian market, check out the report below. We explore some of the key differences in consumer culture between and venture to make recommendations for retailers contemplating cross-over presence. Then we further explore the role of loyalty programs in retail and how cultural considerations vary and impact loyalty behavior.

Check out the report here!

 

Just a few months ago, investors were concerned about Google’s ability to maintain mobile ad rates, in the face of Facebook’s mobile ads generating 30% of ad revenues.

Google’s recent announcement of joining ad forces with Facebook to create a monster ad exchange has certainly calmed the nerves of the concerned. The search company’s advertising clients now have access to FBX, Facebook’s real-time bidding exchange, in addition to the current offering on DoubleClick Bid Manager.

In spite of going head-to-head in the mobile ad competitive landscape, both digital giants realized that advertisers wanted the best of both worlds, social ads along with search ads, and now DoubleClick is well on its way to be the go-to exchange for advertisers everywhere.

This recent move sent investors swarming, bumping up stock prices by a whopping 14%, and pushing Google’s stock price over $1000USD for the first time! While it is a significant milestone, it’s got us wondering what next move is gonna keep those stock prices afloat.

If you’re like most people, you probably carry your mobile device with you where ever yo go. In fact, some people (you know who you are!) might even say their smartphone is like an extension of themselves.

This is because your mobile devices are more than simple communication devices. They give you access to countless apps that can make your life easier and more productive. And on that note, read on to find out what the Plastic Mobile Team considers our top three must-have productivity apps.

(Note: These apps are available for both iOS and Android. They’re also free, although most offer added functionalities to paying subscribers. Just sayin’.)

Evernote

Evernote is an information storage tool that you can use across different platforms. Did you meet a potential client? Snap a pic of their business card with your Evernote app. Need to record a memo? Fire up your Evernote app. Want to type up a document? Evernote obliges, once again. Whatever information you store, it’ll be saved seconds later to your account. The coolest part? Paying Evernote subscribers can also search for text contained within images.

Buffer

It’s not just about having an online presence anymore. It’s about being online at the right moment. Buffer doesn’t just let you post to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn for free — it automatically shares your posts for you through the day, whether you add them to your account via email, the Buffer app, its book market or one of the many news reader apps it’s affiliated with. Better still, Buffer gives you access to useful stats such as how many people you reached and how many likes, shares and retweets you get.

IFTTT

This is more than a productivity app — you can literally use it hundreds of different ways. Aptly called “If This Then That,” the website allows users to either create or use “recipes” or sets of actions that take place automatically, making IFTTT a terrific tool for automating personal notifications and social media actions online (especially now that it’s available as an iPhone and an Android app). For example, you can use the service to automatically upload a photo to Dropbox when you post it to Facebook, place all your tweets on a Google Spreadsheet, or even remind you to bring an umbrella if it looks like it’s going to rain (seriously).

What are your favourite productivity apps? Let us know and tweet us at @PlasticMobile.

Have you see Apple’s latest TV ads? We were particularly interested in the one promoting the iPhone camera.

Even though there are a few better smartphone cameras out there – for example, the Lumia 1020 boasts 41 megapixels – the iPhone camera is still pretty popular. We can’t help but think this is likely because the Apple flagship seems to be the most social device (according to this study), and the most common thing to share on social networks is pictures.

Not to mention that if you’re an iPhone user snapping amazing pics, you can now be awarded for your creative genius! Check out this website called iPhone Photography Awards. You can submit any of your pictures and compete with other people to try to win of their annual awards and some other gifts. The only bad news is that there are a few fees to submit your pictures. Check out the competition and the 2013 winners to evaluate your chances in the 2014 competition.

What do you think about this photography awards? Let us know! Tweet us @PlasticMobile.

We have been pretty busy this week in the office and so our usual Bagel Wednesday meeting was reschedule for yesterday, and our post is going up today! So, for our Bagel THURSDAY meeting, we watched a few interesting and bizarre videos related to mobile technology!

The first video we watched was about Coca-Coca’s latest billboards in Israel. Imagine driving the street and seeing your name on a personalized billboard?Well, that is exactly what Coca-Cola did! They employed geo-fencing technology to detect when a user was near a billboard. All users had to do was download the smartphone app, then type in their name and see it pop up on the billboards as they drove past. When they were about to pass a billboard, they would receive a notification message on their mobile device telling them they were about to see their name up in lights. Pretty cool use of geo fencing technology and smartphone app to create this fun and personalized digital billboard. The app was ranked #1 in Israel’s app store from day one and maintained that position throughout the entire campaign period with a total of 100K downloads.

Check out the video below:

The second video we watched is a little more bizarre. Has your phone run out of juice? Researchers claim that they were able to successfully charge their phones with human pee! The team has been working on their microbial fuel cell (MFC) for some time now. How does it work? MFCs use bacteria to break down organic material (urine) to create power. Simple! Could this be the future of charging mobile phones? This charging technology would not be limited to phones, but be used to power lighting, razors and other such devices. Some of funding was backed by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a charity aiming to enhance health care and reduce extreme poverty to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology.

Check out the video below:

What do you think? Do you see yourself using pee-powered batteries? Or, would be interested in seeing your name on a personalized digital billboard? Tweet us at @PlasticMobile.

Since Motorola became a Google company back in May 2012, we have all been anxiously waiting for their new flagship phone. After many leaked images surfaced the web in the past couple of weeks and plenty of speculation, the Moto X has officially been announced!

The Moto X has a number of great features that consumers won’t be able to find with competing smartphones, such as the ability to talk to Google Now or open the camera app even when the phone is on standby. In addition, the Moto X is always on permanent listening mode making it the first “self-driving” smartphone.

There’s more!  As promised in one of their ads last month, customization is one of the main features of the smartphone. The device can be customized with the choice of 2 front panel colours, 7 accent colours, 18 back panel colours and the option of an engraved backing. With the combination of these features, the Moto X can be customized in hundreds of different ways.

In terms of overall specs, it is similar to a Nexus 4 which is pretty good, but fares lower in comparison to the Samsung Galaxy 4.

In addition, the smartphone will be assembled in the US and as a result, consumers will have shorter wait and faster delivery time. This is important considering the assembly will be specific to customers’ customization.

Check out the hands-on video below:

Are you as excited as we are about the Moto X? Let us know at @PlasticMobile!

NFC RING

You have probably noticed that a hot tech topic recently is wearable technology: smart glasses, smart watches and smart clothing – oh my!

A new concept of wearable technology just came on Kickstarter, and it’s called the NFC ring. Its creator, John McLear, should be pretty happy because his £30,000 goal in a month was met in under a week as people continue to support his project.

The NFC ring is essentially a ring that features two sides: one “public” and one “private.” The public side faces outward on your hand and is used to share information with other NFC devices. The private side is on the inside and allows you to unlock your phone or even NFC-compatible doors. The great thing about the ring is that because it is NFC, it doesn’t require any power and can be programmed easily to do all kinds of things.

We think it is a really interesting product, especially because of the “private” feature  that lets you unlock your phone. We all need to protect our phones with a password since there’s a lot of personal data in it. However, having to go through the password screen every time to unlock your phone can get pretty annoying, which is why unlocking via NFC is clearly easier and faster. In addition, researchers recently built a $200 robot that could crack Android 4 digit PINS in less than 20 hours!

The only issue that we see with the NFC ring so far is its device compatibility. It will be working for most smartphones (Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone) but not with iPhones, since it still doesn’t have NFC technology. Hmm… Apple? Thoughts?

Check out the NFC Ring video below:

What do you think about the NFC ring? Let us know! Tweet us @PlasticMobile.

In today’s Bagel Wednesday team meeting, we watched three very interesting tech related videos: Quadrocopter Pole Acrobatics, Vibrative Virtual Keyboard and Smartphone Robot.

If you don’t already know, a Quadrocopter, is basically a multicopter that is lifted and propelled by four rotors. To control the quadrocopter’s motion, it changes the pitch and rotation rate of one or more rotor discs and thus, changing its torque load and thrust/lift characteristics. This interesting video features one quadrocopter balancing a pendulum on a plate in mid-air all by itself thanks to calculated algorithms. But, wait! There’s still more! As you will see in this video, a second quadrocopter makes an appearance and the two perform acrobatic movements such as launching the pendulum from one quadrocopter with the other catching it!

This next one is great for the robot fanatics. Romo is a revolutionary mobile robot platform that utilizes your smartphone as its brain. When you connect it to any iOS device, Romo becomes a friendly robot that explores your home or office on its roving base! This fun personal smartphone robot is programmable and can be controlled by anyone from anywhere in the world streaming two-way video and audio! Romo follows your face just like having a pet or friend and can customize your Romo with its in-app mobile training platform. Another great thing about this for developers is that it features a simple SDK that controls Romo’s hardware and personality so you can write your own apps.

An app that turns any surface into an iPhone keyboard? Check out this vibrative virtual keyboard! SensorMonitor app is available for iPhones and can access the raw sensor outputs of an iPhone through its network connection. By tapping on various points on any surface, it tells the app where the keyboard letters are and where the other ones are supposed to be. In addition, it can save the surfaces so you wouldn’t need to calibrate again!

What do you think of these cool tech and gadgets? Tweet us at @PlasticMobile!

App Store vs. Google Play

We recently blogged about the 5th Anniversary of the App Store and how it was celebrated by making 10 top paid apps, free.

Google Play opened 4 months after the App Store and took a little while to catch up, but the Android store is now a serious competitor (especially since Google Play was redesigned and revealed to support Glass).

We found this interesting infographic that compares these two stores based on uncommon metrics such as category by category, top publishers, app discovery and more!

Perhaps the App Store can learn a thing our two from Google Play about handling searches with misspelled keywords better. But other than that, the two are starting to feel pretty similar to one another.

Are there any other differences you see in the two app stores? Let us know by Tweeting us at @PlasticMobile.

Ever found yourself standing in the middle of the grocery store squinting to remember what recipe ingredients you’re missing from your grocery list? Or is that just us?

For those who have, seeing the recipe as you grocery shop for ingredients would be pretty amazing.

At today’s Bagel Wednesday meeting, our team discussed Hellman’s recent launch of the smart grocery cart campaign in Brazil. It’s an innovative campaign where the brand installed tablets and RFID tags to shopping carts, as well as RFID readers and antennas to shelves along the store aisles. Hellman’s utilized near-field communication (NFC) technology at high end grocery stores where shoppers would be engaged while they shopped for their groceries.

The campaign concept was to present shoppers with a screen attached to the cart’s handles so that a video of a salad with mayonnaise dressing would play as they wander past the vegetable section. If the customer is interested in a specific recipe, they can search the ingredients within the store from the touchscreen tablet. In addition, no campaign is complete without a social aspect, which is why customers were then able to share their favourite recipe ideas with friends via social networks.

Even though the campaign lasted only one month, it involved around 45,000 customers and, according to Hellman’s, sales have increased by almost 70% since decisions are made at the time of purchase.

What do you think? Would you appreciate a shopping cart like this at your grocery store? What are your thoughts? Tweet us at @PlasticMobile.

It is amazing to see how mobile devices are becoming more and more present in all of the places around us.

We have been pleasantly surprised in the past months to see that many stores/restaurants are using mobile devices to take orders and process payments.

Recently, we went to Fat Bastard Burrito to order some Mexican fast food and realized that they provided some iPads with free Internet access for customers to use while they prepared our orders. It was pretty nice to relax for a bit and play with the iPad while we waited for our orders to be ready!

We also noticed some other places embracing mobile. As part of VitaminWater drink campaign, they’ve placed various mobile charging spots located inside some bus stop shelters across the city as a part of their advertisements. There are different cables available to charge any mobile devices. This is such a great idea since most commuters waiting for the bus are usually on their smartphones, making it extremely convenient to get a quick charge and solve that pesky ongoing battery issue.

Have you noticed any new spots around you becoming more mobile? Let us know and tweet us @PlasticMobile!

With a few days to go until Apple’s App Store 5th Anniversary on July 10, we have already seen Apple begin their celebrations starting with neat posters mapping their 5 years of the App Store being sent out to the media outlets and reporters and now there’s one for the loyal Apple fans and avid App Store users!

A bunch of highly regarded iPhone and iPad apps and games have been listed today as being free! This could be the App store’s early celebration for their 5 year mark, although Apple has yet to make any announcements regarding these offers. But why wait for an announcement? Head over to the App Store today and check out what popular apps are available for free!

Here’s a quick list of paid games/apps gone free:

Try your hand at DJing and mixing your favourite tracks! We will definitely be playing around with the Traktor DJ this week!

Check out the demo video below to view the user experience and interface:

Which apps do you have your eye on? Tweet us at @PlasticMobile!

Do you know what it was that Steve Jobs introduced 5 years ago on July 10, 2008 that changed the whole mobile industry, and, well, the world (a little bit)? The App Store!

Not only was the App Store released on iTunes on this date, but a day later, iOS 2 was launched and shortly thereafter Apple released thr iPhone 3G.

On this same day, Steve Jobs announced during an interview that the App Store contained 500 apps and 25% of them were free. The truly amazing thing? 10 million apps were downloaded in only the first weekend!

Recently, Apple announced that the App Store has more than 900,000 apps with over 50,000,000,000 downloads. From day one to today, that works out to about 500 new apps released each day!

Tech reporters such as Tim Bradshaw received posters from Apple celebrating the upcoming 5 year anniversary of the App Store.

Check out his Vine video of the poster:

With almost a million apps available, what is the best app that you found on the App Store? Let us know! Tweet us @PlasticMobile.

Pilot with iPad

JetBlue Airways has just received Federal Aviation Administration approval to provide all pilots with custom-equipped iPads that will give them real-time capabilities in the cockpit, such as the ability to retrieve real-time weather data and the ability to update safety and flight documents securely.

JetBlue has already begun equipping 2500 pilots with a fourth-generation 16 GB Wi-Fi capable Apple iPad. They are heading towards a paperless cockpit with the iPads replacing the heavy mass of laptops and the bulky stacks of paper manuals and charts while saving fuel and making information much easier to access, an idea that American Airlines, Delta and British Airlines has adopted. However, JetBlue is taking the next step by introducing on-board WiFi.

Every pilot is getting trained to use the three apps core to their job: real-time weather, pre-flight planning and digital airport and aircraft charts supported by the super-fast capability of satellite WiFi enabled by LiveTV to download all information.

According to Jeff Martin, Senior VP of Operations for JetBlue, pilots will have the fastest real-time images in the air, and added that they will be using WSI Optima application for weather briefings, the Comply365 app for digital documents and the AeroData DFP app for aircraft performance and weight and balance calculations. The Comply365 solution will be used throughout JetBlue and is currently testing digital charting providers to be used later.

The addition of the iPads will enable pilots to make better decisions and help improve the customer experience such as having a more sophisticated weather briefing that can be used to update customers during the flight.

How do you think on board WiFi capabilities will affect the mobile app industry? Will there be apps catered for in-flight customer use? Let us know what you think and tweet us at @PlasticMobile.

Samsung Device InfographicThink about the last time you visited a mobile store, you probably noticed that Samsung is offering the most devices (phones and tablets).

If you have been feeling that Samsung is releasing a new device every week or month, you are not alone. Take a look at this infographic created by British mobile news website Which? illustrating how many mobile devices have been released in the UK this past year.

With 26 devices released in one year, it is like a new device every two weeks! The good thing about this is that they offer many screen sizes at different price points, allowing all customers with any budget to find the right mobile device for them. On the other hand, it may be super confusing for the user to understand the real differences between all these devices.

Comparing with Samsung’s main competitor, Apple has released only four devices in the past year (iPhone 5, iPod Touch 5, iPad 4 and iPad Mini). With this huge contrast (26 vs. 4) and knowing that Apple made a choice to make only a few devices, we can really say that these two companies have two very different approaches in this market. Though, we can’t help but wonder if Samsung’s strategy isn’t working a bit better given the significant increase in Android sales we have been seening lately.

What do you think? Is the Samsung’s Galaxy getting too big? Let us know! Tweet us @PlasticMobile.

 

Solar Powered Charging Stations

Remember when Hurricane Sandy left many people stranded without electricity and solar powered chargers were praised? A project pushed by the success and usefulness of solar powered chargers after Hurricane Sandy is now a reality.

In partnership with AT&T, Pensa and Goal Zero are opening nine solar powered charging stations across New York City, starting in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park. Each station can charge up to six phones in full sunshine. Go sun, go!

View’s Auto-tint Dynamic Glass

Speaking of solar powered technology and sustainability, Corning, known for their innovations such as Gorilla Glass used in Apple iPhones, recently invested $62 million in View, a manufacturer of a specialty glass that is tintable and energy-saving for buildings. This smart glass, called “Dynamic Glass,” automatically tints based on how bright it is and can also be controlled wirelessly via an app.

This idea will allow architects to design buildings made entirely from walls of glass without worrying about the sun’s heat warming up the rooms uncomfortably. Energy consumption of light, heating and air conditioning systems are reduced by about 20 per cent a year, and HVAC peak load by 25 per cent. Corning’s investment will support research and developments to improve the quality of View’s products and create new applications with goals of commercializing the glass.

To date, View’s Dynamic Glass was installed in the lobby and lounge windows at The W Hotel in San Francisco. To learn more about the Dynamic Glass, check out their intro video.

What do you think about the capabilities of solar energy and how it can be leveraged to help power smartphones to controlling window tint with an app? Tweet us at @PlasticMobile.

OMsignal

Did you think smartwatches and smartglasses are the only kinds of wearable technology coming up? If yes, you also have to know that smartclothes are coming too!

Last year we saw a first of its kind, a connected T-shirt called tshirtOS which lets you display things on your body using your mobile device. This year a new and much more advanced electronic T-shirt called OMsignal was unveiled.

OMsignal is an apparel with embedded sensors that continuously tracks your biometrics to help you monitor things like your heart rate, breathing and activity. The OMsignal app displays your data in real-time on your mobile phone.

Check out this video presenting OMsignal technology woven into real life:

What do you think about this new kind of wearable technology? Let us know! Tweet us @PlasticMobile.

 

Waze

This past year, there has been already a number of large acquisition moves in the technology industry with Yahoo buying Tumblr for $1.1 billion and Salesforce acquiring ExactTarget for $2.5 billion this month. The most talked about story in the tech industry lately is the recent acquisition of Waze by Google for $1.1 billion.

Waze is an Israeli-based startup of a free mapping and turn-by-turn navigation app (available on Android and Apple iOS), that caught the attention of the top three tech companies in world: Apple, Facebook and Google. Earlier this year, Apple reported a $500 million bid, then Facebook offered a $1 billion deal, but Google closed with a $1.1 to $1.3 billion offer.

Maps are powered by big data and Google Maps has established itself as the map maker to be beaten. With nearly 50 million users crowdsourcing real time data from their devices, Waze relies on these users to flag and record updates on accidents, bottlenecks and traffic. It mines information from your phone such as your speed and location to determine the best routes on its own maps.

Although Google Maps may be the most popular app, acquiring Waze further leverages Google’s capabilities as a search and data powerhouse, while shifting towards localized mobile advertising revenue. Waze has a defined advertising program where brands can display their logo and information based on the user’s driving route. It will be interesting to see how mobile advertising will take off in the coming years.

Waze offers various features that can help Google improve the way we interact and use maps such as the social functionality. Drivers can view where their friends are in real time on their way to a mutual destination, share drives, pickups, meetups and make it easier to communicate status from the road. Waze currently features a Facebook single sign-in option which will likely be replaced with Google+ to attract more users to their social network. Google will continue to let Waze operate as a stand alone division.

What are your thoughts on Google’s acquisition of Waze? What features appeal the most to you? Tweet us at @PlasticMobile.

 

ios7The latest version of Apple’s mobile software, iOS 7, was unveiled today at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) along with the new Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks. We were happy to hear that Apple has decided to retire the cat-related names for more California-themed titles, such as Mavericks. New updated models of the Macbook Air line were also updated to offer all-day battery life and a three times faster wifi support. In addition, the new MacPro was announced to be an all new cylindrical shape with the Intel Xeon chip and up to 12 cores.

If you weren’t able to tune into WWDC today, here is what you missed on the iOS 7:

iOS 7 – Major UI Redesign

The new iOS 7 brings a completely new user interface to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The design was refreshed enough for users to see a difference, but the new iOS remains intuitive so current users do not need to worry about relearning the operating system. This feels like a new iOS device without replacing it. A major design overhaul replaces most of the skeuomorphic elements found in the earlier versions with a clean and gloss-less “flat” look with bright new colours. This means that apps such as the Calendar and Game Center no longer have the leather stitching, felt and wood elements.

In addition, the new iOS features a new colour scheme with translucency to “create a sense of depth and vitality.”

Demos of all the apps can be found on Apple’s iOS 7 website.

New Features

Motion Tracking Capabilities – As your device is moved with hand, the motion is tracked and the screen moves with that motion.

Dynamic Weather App - Incorporates live weather elements depending on selected city so if it is storming outside, the app will display rain.

Notification Center - New daily overviews that let users know about new mail, missed calls, tasks and much more. With a downward swipe, it can be quickly accessed on any screen, even the lock screen. Notifications are also synced across devices.

Control Center - New preference controls allow users to swipe up to access things such as Wi-Fi, Airplane Mode, adjust brightness and volume. An interesting functionality added to the iOS is the flashlight.

Multitasking - Available for all apps, the iOS 7 determines which apps are being used most frequently and keeps those apps up to date in the background. This features a new app switching screen that displays large-sized app cards which resembles WebOS. This will also be able to maintain great battery life.

Safari - New “omnisearch bar” that includes a new smart search field with “Share Links” provides improved social integration that pulls stories shared by friends on social media sites such as Twitter.

Airdrop - Available on Apple’s newest devices (iPhone 5, 4th Gen iPad, iPad mini), users can now easily share photos, videos and other content with others.

Siri – In addition to the new interface, Siri has been given a new voice options: male voices and voices for French and German. Siri can perform tasks like turning on Bluetooth and new service integrations such as web search results.

in-car iOS – This service will bring more functionality to the consoles of some vehicles through a partnership with several car manufacturers. This integration will let you make calls, have better control of Siri and view maps.

Activation Lock - In addition to the well-known and used “Find my iPhone” feature, the new Activation Lock prevents thieves from turning off that features off and wiping your device’s memory. It can not be reactivated unless the user’s iCloud information is provided.

Tim Cook stated the following data on the state of iOS:

The world’s most advanced mobile operating system by the numbers

  • 600 million devices sold#1 customer usage

  • 50% more usage than Android users

  • 60% mobile web share

  • 82% tablet market share (iPad)

  • 10% iPad,  8.7% iPhone Black Friday mobile shopping traffic 2012

  • J.D. Power & Associates #9 consecutive awards

  • 97% overall satisfaction for iOS

  • iOS 6 install base 93%, 33% Jelly Bean on Android (latest OS adoption)

iOS 7 is available for developers today on the iPhone and iPad support at a later date. The new iOS 7 will be available for everyone else this fall.

What are your favourite features on the new iOS?  Tweet us at @PlasticMobile.

Broken smartphones

Have you ever dropped your phone or spilled a drink on it? The answer is probably yes.

A few days ago, an online French store selling phone accessories called GSM55, published an interesting infographic about smartphone accidents.

Here is what we learned:

Most Common Phone Accident Scenarios:

  1. 43% – Dropping
  2. 27% – Water
  3. 11% – Shock

Most Dangerous Rooms for Phones:

  1. 21% – Kitchen
  2. 18% – Living room
  3. 16% – Bathroom (Also, 9% of phones fall in toilet)

Most Common Drinks Spilled on Phones:

  1. 43% – Water
  2. 19% – Soda
  3. 12% – Beer

Other Facts:

  • 6% of iPhones are fixed with scotch tape
  • 11% of iPhones are used with a broken screen
  • 17% of iPhone owners are not one time offenders

Remember, if you drop your phone, it is sometimes better to leave it because it may be too dangerous to retrieve!

Do you see yourself in any of these stats? Let us know! Tweet us @PlasticMobile.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is a busy guy and everybody wants some of his time, but it’s not an easy ticket to get! A coffee date with him goes for $610,000 and even several U.S. senators wanted to have a talk with him.

Assuming you don’t have half a million or subpoena powers, the chances of you getting to sit down with Tim is pretty unlikely.

Fortunately The Wall St. Journal’s tech blog “All Things D” was able to sit down with him at their D11 conference. At the going rate they got $825,000 worth of his time and you are able to watch the whole interview here.

As usual for CEOs, there wasn’t much new information that came out. Despite the interviewers best attempts, Tim wasn’t giving much in the way of the upcoming iWatch or what an Apple TV would look like, or do, or when it would be released or, well, anything. . .

While the video isn’t big on actual information, it’s also not that often that we hear the CEO of Apple chat it up for over an hour about the future of tech.

Do you have any thoughts on what Tim said? Let us know on Twitter @PlasticMobile

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