BTR_ipad_home_eventsThe team here at Plastic is excited to announce the launch of the new iPhone and iPad shopping apps for Beyond The Rack, North America’s fastest growing flash sales e-tailer.

The new iOS mobile app gives members quick and easy on-the-go access to exclusive, curated events. The start of sale notifications, real-time inventory of products and event countdown timer ensure customers are always informed and never miss a deal before time runs out. For quick results, the app has a customized search function that allows shoppers to filter and sort by size, price, or discount. The checkout step even stores all payment options and shipping addresses, guaranteeing an easy 3-tap checkout and a seamless mobile shopping experience.

Even though it’s not quite the holidays just yet, you can start shopping right away by downloading the app in the App Store. You can never shop too early for the holidays, right? We don’t think so!

Download the Beyond the Rack app here!

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!

Day One App Icon

Happy 5th Anniversary to the App Store!

As we mentioned in our previous posts, the App Store celebrated their anniversary early with Apple fans by making 10 paid apps and games free of charge!

So, we thought it would be fitting to do our weekly app review on one of the newly free apps: Day One.

Have you ever felt that there are a lot of things about specific events that you would like to remember, but couldn’t?

Day One is a journaling platform that can record and preserve your memories for the long term. Currently available on Mac ($9.99), iPhone and iPad (free!) with fast syncing from iCloud and Dropbox, we think that this is one of the best journal apps out there.

Day One app

What’s so special about Day One?

Well let us tell you! Social networking sites like Facebook automatically organize your activities and events in chronological order via timeline. But, there are not many interactive private places to keep track of your thoughts. With the passcode lock, you can keep your journal private if you like, or share and link your friends via email and social media. You can even store your journal on the Cloud.

The app not only focuses on helping users remember, record and track their lives in a simple way that can be easily accessed at a later date, but was built with integration in mind and a great user interface. Besides the typical journaling features like text and photo, it includes neat features such as a shortcut bar right above the keyboard  that allows you to include the weather and location, photo, favourite or markdown text formatting and a word counter with the simple swipe of a finger.

The beautiful user interface makes it an enjoyable experience when browsing or searching for a specific event. You can also set reminders in case you forget to log your day!

If you are not sold yet on this app, Apple awarded it the Mac App of the Year in 2012.

Even Jack Dorsey uses and endorses Day One:

 

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What are your thoughts on Day One Journal? If you use a journal app, what do you use and what do you look for? Let us know by tweeting us at @PlasticMobile.

Ever wanted to bring all your web and video content into a screen and move it around like Tom Cruise in the Minority Report?

TouchCast set out to reinvent the way we interact with online content, like videos, by turning it into an engaging and interactive experience. They believe that by merging video and the web together, it will become a super medium that can create and watch videos that are layered with live and real time information from web pages, YouTube video clips, Google Maps, Twitter and Facebook streams and other digital touch capabilities that viewers can expand, move around and turn on and off with their fingers. Other features that the app can do is turn your iPad into an HD recording device, choose from a variety of effects, draw on the video and broadcast titles.

What separates TouchCast from other video apps is its built-in feature of vApps (video apps) within the platform allowing users to view the web inside a video via web pages and interactive HTML graphics. In addition, users will be able to create video that require no post-production editing and can be enriched using its vApps. They have created over 20 vApps, but plan to allow other developers to add their own vApp on the platform. The videos will be watchable on TouchCast’s own website, and eventually on all websites.

Touchcast is currently free and available for only the Apple iPad in the iTunes App Store.

Check out the video below to see TouchCast in action:

Do you think TouchCast is the future of how we interact with the web? Let us know what you think! Tweet us at @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.

 

Looking for a better newsreader that can learn from you?

Thirst is a social news platform that provides us with another way to follow topics we are interested in and curate content around those topics. Thirst Labs, the developer of Thirst, designed this iOS app so that the more you use it, “the better the newspaper gets as it learns from and adapts to your interests.”

Another factor that may make Thirst appealing to users reading other apps such as Flipboard, is Thirst doesn’t just give you the latest stories to hit a particular RSS feed, but uses complex algorithms to perform a search of the whole Web. Popular stories are then presented based on your category or search term. You may end up reading trending articles from news sources that you have not heard of right from your homepage. In addition, Thirst has an engaging social aspect that includes a discussion feature that lets you write and respond to comments on those articles you read with your Twitter account. Users can also share articles directly to Facebook and Twitter.

With the newest version 3.0 update, the app has completely revamped their user experience making topics even easier to browse, search and follow. Thirst is available for the iPhone and iPad and is worth a download to try out the clean user experience and intelligent customized reading lists. This is the same team that also developed Thirst Droplet, their version of the newsreader app for Google Glass in a weekend.

 

What is your favourite newsreader? What are your thoughts on Thirst compared to other newsreaders? 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.

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

babies first ipad

In a time where our mobile addiction has gotten so out of control that even our babies are using mobile devices, it looks like technology can’t wait to get in our hands.

How young can we go? How about just hours old. Newborns this year may be kept in touch with their mom using an iPad, like with the BabyTime program in a Los Angeles hospital.

Technology can also help make parents lives easier. Every parent knows that it’s a lot of work to take care of a baby and a major headache is having to change diapers so often. This is where Huggies comes in with TweetPee. It’s basically a sensor that you put over the diaper that alerts your smartphone when your little bundle of joy has left a package for you. The app will also help you manage your stock of diapers so you’ll know when you have to buy more.

If you are still wondering when your kid is old enough to have his first mobile, the answer is 4 years old. A new phone called “1stfone” is geared to children between 4 and 9 years old. It actually appears to be a very good device for kids since it can only send or receive calls from pre-defined contacts (like parents or family members).

Do you know any other cool mobile apps or accessories that have been made for babies or kids? Let us know on Twitter @Plasticmobile

ipad

As the highest selling tablet in the world, the iPad is everywhere. Here are three incredible iPad stories coming out of the US last month.

1) Saved by iPad

A man was trying to get some nice pictures of a softball game in Iowa when an errant foul ball came directly at his face! The backstop netting between him and the field didn’t stop the ball but the iPad in front of his face probably saved him an injury. Don’t believe it? See the video.

2) An iPad stuck in a car’s bumper

A woman in Georgia drove for nearly one hour with a stranger’s iPad wedged in the bumper of her car after the device flew off the roof of another car, bounced on the roadway and landed in her car’s bumper. Amazingly, the iPad still worked and the woman was able to return it to its rightful owner. More details here.

3) Sworn in on an iPad (through the bible app)

Four firemen from New Jersey were about to be promoted to the rank of battalion chief but when officials at City Hall couldn’t find a Bible for the oath of office, it was looking like they would have to postpone. That is until they decided to simply use an iPad running a Bible app. More details and the video here.

Do you know of any other incredible iPad stories? Let us know on Twitter @PlasticMobile

NewsPlastic Mobile co-founder and COO, Melody Adhami, was quoted for a Luxury Daily article on Christie’s new iPad app.

For those of us not in the multi-million dollar real estate market, Christie’s is a publication listing high-end properties from around the world. They recently released a free iPad app. The app is a high quality digital magazine with excellent production values. It’s easy to read, navigate and comes loaded with breathtaking photos of some of the worlds most beautiful properties.

Anybody can tell you that an app with nice pictures is good, but Melody digs deeper, “Magazines are a very vivid, visual and tangible medium. When it comes to leisurely browsing, the kind that consumers have been trained to do for years with existing magazines, the simple added screen real estate of the iPad and other tablets allows users to garner more of this traditional experience.”

With print media increasingly struggling, Melody says that “if magazines are going to survive, they will simply have to embrace mobile devices.”

Do you think the iPad and other tablets are the future of magazines? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @PlasticMobile

The newest member of the Pizza Pizza mobile family has hit the App Store. The Pizza Pizza iPad app launched to some great users reviews, and loyal Pizza Pizza fans are eating up the iPad app, which offers up new features and a fun and exciting experiences.
One awesome addition to the app is an all new “Pizza Builder.” Pizza Pizza customers can custom create their masterpiece pies by choosing their toppings from a visual menu section, and watch as their toppings are sprinkled over their perfect ‘za!
Once their order is ready for the oven and users are ready to check out, they get play the new and dynamic Spin-to-Win Game. Here, customers play the slots for a chance to win a complementary side on their next order. After checkout, users can look back at the app to count down the minutes on the pizza delivery timer as well.
We’re very proud of this app and the response it’s getting! Here are just a few of the kind – and hilarious – Tweets we’ve seen so far. Retweet these or review the app yourself @PlasticMobile
Check out the official media release here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

With the overall results of Boxing Day in, it seems that more and more mobile users are starting to hop on the smart train this holiday season (I mean who seriously wants to be a part of the crazy mall madness?).

With an increase in the use of mobile devices, and with the iPad being the most wanted gift this holiday season,  m-commerce set some new records this Boxing Day.

According to IBM’s Digital Analytics, around 30.7% of consumers used their mobile devices to visit a retailer’s site on Boxing Day. ComScore also found that from the dates of December 8th to December 14th, consumers in the U.S. spent around $6.9 billion online (that’s a $750 million increase compared to last year!).

Your probably wondering which device was the most efficient for increasing m-commerce traffic on Boxing Day? The iPad of course! The iPad generated more traffic than any other mobile device, making up for 15.8% of online shopping on Boxing Day!

M-commerce has only just begun a reinvention of the traditional modes of shopping. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2013!

What are your predictions? Tweet us @PlasticMobile and let us know!

This holiday season, cross everyone off your list with a few quick taps and swipes using the all new AIR MILES iPad app.
This morning, AIR MILES and Plastic Mobile launched the iPad app as the latest addition to the AIR MILES mobile family.

The new iPad app allows Collectors to earn reward miles and shop at their favourite Canadian and American online retailers directly through the new airmilesshops.ca feature.

Modeled after the award-winning iPhone and Android AIR MILES apps, the AIR MILES iPad app also boasts a beautiful interface for browsing rewards, and still lets Collectors Check-in to Sponsor locations for the chance to double the rewards earned each month.

Watch this video on just how amazing the new app really is.

The AIR MILES iPad app is the answer to all your holiday shopping prayers! At least, it is to ours. Thank you, AIR MILES!

Apple’s autumn release blitz continued today with the much anticipated iPad Mini, a new MacBook Pro, iMacs and the iPad 4.

Out of the shadow (literally) of it’s predecessor, the iPad Mini has all the functionality of the standard iPad in a smaller package. Features like 1080p HD video, LTE, faster WiFi and an A5 processor are jam packed into a 7.9 inch frame. Consumers can get all of Apple’s great mobile capabilities in a device as thin as a pencil.

During the event, presenter and Apple VP Phil Schiller emphasized the fact that the iPad Mini is not just cross between a speechless smartphone and a tablet. In fact it’s probably handier than you’d think. At $300 less than the standard iPad, the Mini gives consumers an option of how much they want to shell out for the newest Apple technologies. It offers the same capabilities as the iPad which are – as Schiller reminds us – everything from browsing to educating and gaming and is still easy to tote and type on.

Shipping starts November 2nd.

PM UX: True Skate

By on October 22, 2012

A few days ago, while browsing the app store, an app in the New & Noteworthy section caught my eye. After reading some reviews and checking out some screenshots, I decided to cough up $1.99 and give it a try. Within five minutes of launching the app I was not only happy with my purchase, but I was also hooked. The app, True Skate, is and iOS game available on iPhone, iPad and iPod. It is best described as Tony Hawk series on PlayStation. Minus Tony Hawk.

True Skate provides users with a virtual skateboard and skate park to ride around in. Using their fingers to push and steer the board, users can rip through an awesome skate park filled with ramps, bowls, railings and obstacles, while pulling of tricks that most can only dream of doing. The app sports impressive graphics, super-realistic physics and gameplay that can compete with more conventional gaming consoles.
Users kick the game off with a quick tutorial covering some of the basics. I found the tutorials very helpful, but noticed it was sometimes challenging to see the instructional text. The font size could use some beefing up and the white text blends into the light backgrounds.
Once the tutorials are completed users are free to ride through the park and work on their tricks. They can also pause the game play by tapping the pause icon at the top left of the screen. There they can find some additional functionality that allows them to take a crack at a list of missions, view a list of their achievements or check out their completed tricks.
Another cool feature allows users to rewind game play and restart from a certain point by tapping and holding the rewind icon in the top right of the screen. They can also tap the camera icon to select from one of five camera views, or tap what looks like a refresh icon to reposition a flipped or stuck skateboard.
The game is very simple, which allows for anyone to just pick it up and play. I would highly recommend this game if you are into skateboarding or skateboarding games. It is one of the best I have come across on any platform. The only downside of the game is being limited to just one skate park.Being someone who is easily bored, I know the importance of variety in mobile gaming. So, I hope to see more parks added in future releases.

Do you love the app as much as we do? Know of another similar app? Let us know @plasticmobile.

You probably did not hear it from us first, however, our Technical Director let us all know this morning that the infamous “yep” has been written.

According to one of the greatest sources for clarifying Apple rumours, Jim Darlymple, Apple will reveal the new iPad mini on October 23rd.

We can’t wait to see if this rumour will prove true, and what features this new iPhone 5 / iPad in-between will offer other than being, well, in between in size.

Are you excited for the reveal? Let us know @plasticmobile.

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

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.

Thus, I immediately  proceeded to download and launch National Geographic’s National Parks app. Right away, I could see why it caught Sep’s attention and compelled him to tell the rest of us about it.

 

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

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

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.

For my inaugural post as the resident Plastic Mobile intern, I’d like to focus on the eTail event we attended last week where I learned a number of interesting facts and stats about m-commerce.

First, and this one made my jaw-drop, a stat reported in late april by theeTailing Group in their annual merchant study, Making the Right Choices in a Connected World: Customer Experience Escalation: 85 percent of merchants say mobile commerce is a focus in 2012, up from 68 percent in 2011.

With nearly four out of five respondents suggesting that m-commerce is in their strategies, the mobile retail arena is about to get a lot more competitive. With so many merchants now simultaneously making the move to mobile, they will have to quickly develop effective mobile strategies that will also help engage their customers and bring their brands into the new world of mobile retail. I for one hope that the need for speed won’t hinder the need for quality initiatives.

Second, the Interactive Bureau reports in their study, Mobile Phone Shopping Diaries May 2012, that 73 percent of consumers say they have used their mobile phones in a store and that 40 percent of respondents said they want mobile ads to allow them to browse the brand’s broader product offering. This is interesting because it suggests that retailers can look to in-store mobile solutions and other alternatives to just mobile websites.

For instance, earlier this month Sephora went through a complete Digital Makeover. Their new and exciting cross-channel initiative includes a new mobile app with improved UX, sharper search capabilities, m-commerce enabled shopping and all the social network bells and whistles. Some of Sephora’s stores are seeing iOS devices being launched in-store to allow sales agents to speed up checkout times with mobile POSs. Other stores are implementing in-store iPads that provide extensive product information, style tips that customers can send to themselves via email and, of course, more social media integration.

There are definitely other brands implementing some fantastic m-commerce initiatives, but Sephora stood out to me as a leader because of the grand scale and quality of this mobile initiative.

Last, a recent study by Juniper Research estimates that mobile transaction volume will grow to $670 billion by 2015! I can’t wait to see which brands will follow Sephora’s fantastic example and make that prediction a reality.

So there you have it, a few interesting m-commerce stats and one very extensive and exciting new initiative to enhance consumers retail experiences.

Do you have your own mobile insights or thoughts on other great initiatives? Tweet us at @plasticmobile and let us know!

For more recent information on m-commerce, and to learn about the initiatives of other brands, I recommend some of the following articles:

Canada leads world in digital wallet tech, so what’s the holdup?
Key Traits of Mobile Commerce Leadership
The Future of Shopping is Mobile

Amazing Acrobats Playing PLastic Mobile’s Twist ‘em!

Yesterday at the Spring IAB Mixx conference, our Plastic Mobile take on an old board game favourite was revealed at IAB’s MIXX conference and turned out to be a huge success among attendees.

“Twist ’em” allowed two players to compete to knock down the opposition’s bendy acrobat – yes, there were real acrobats on the unique Twist ‘em board. The two players combat using an iPad application to light up the positions and colours on the Twist ‘em board, causing the contortionists to try to twist away without falling over.

The iPad apps allowed the users to choose one of four colours and one of the left or right hand or a left or right foot (very similar, if not exactly the same, to Hasbro’s Twister). The mobile twist came of course from the mobile app controller on the iPads, as well as from the Twist’em board, which was 16 iPads that would light up to identify which square the acrobats should use. The person with the bendy acrobat left standing, won, and it was very challenging because those contortionists were REALLY flexible!

Needless to say, the Twist ’em game was a huge success for event attendees so we can’t wait to play it again!

One of our favourite tweets of the days was: “Wow, flavored oxygen at @TCTranscontinen and acrobats at@plasticmobile, bringing out the big guns! #MIXXCanada@iabcanada

Stay tuned for our video of “Twist ’em: The making of…,” a documentary of sorts (not really) about what happens when a creative agency decides to take their event booth to a whole new level…

Our creative team at Plastic Mobile has come up with a ridiculously fun way of showcasing how we approach everything with a slightly twisted sense of humour.

We’ll be showcasing our comedy at tomorrow’s IAB Mixx conference, taking place at the Carlu Theatre in Toronto, Ontario.

Don’t miss the one-day conference, sponsored by IAB Canada, where techies, media and marketers unite to learn more about the interconnectedness of all that they do.

AND, don’t forget to drop in to our our booth to work out some frustrations on a mobile powered game of twists and turns.

See you there and feel free to tweet us and let us know if you’ll be visiting our booth.

Today, the Bagel Wednesday team really shook things up in the office and pretty much changed the way we will think about Bagel Wednesday forever. Instead of bringing bagels to our mobile sharing meeting, they made pancakes. Holy flap jacks batman!

Needless to say, the excitement over the pancakes made prying mobile news from full mouths a challenge. But, we did learn more that we can expect the new office iPads to arrive any day now, that Apple may have purchased patent rights to mobile payment controls and that I found an amazing mascara that actually gives your lashes some serious oomph (Benefit “they’re real!” mascara, available at Shoppers’ Drug Mart for $26).

While there was actually very little mobile news shared, the experiment in a breakfast favourite resulted in some great bonding and a long lasting sugar high thanks to the syrup.

Good job team!

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

Last Thursday, Apple released iPhoto – the final piece of its iLife suite for iOS. A few days later, a friend asked me to recommend an app that she could use to touch up photos taken on her iPhone. I told her to give iPhoto a try. The next time we spoke, I asked her what she thought about iPhoto. Her response was: “It was ok, but it wasn’t worth the $4.99. It doesn’t do much.”

Apple #Fail? Is that even possible?

I decided to check it out for myself. Maybe the reason her experience with iPhoto was so mediocre was because she’s a fairly new to iPhone and lacks the experience to get the most out of the app.

So I installed iPhoto on my iPhone and was greeted with a pretty straight forward, simple and intuitive home screen. I could see what was clearly my Camera Roll (as an album) sitting on a glass shelf.

The Home Screen

When I selected my Cameral Roll, my individual photos were presented in a cool scrollable thumbnail view along the bottom. So far, so good.

Camera Roll

The trouble starts when you realize that auto-enhance is the only real photo editing tool in the main view. It works really well for an automatic editing tool and is simple and easy to use, but I then had to go into the toolbox icon on the bottom left to slide out a tab with additional editing tools. Since there were so many options, it was difficult to figure out what each tool did and how to use them.

Tool Kit

The problems continue when I clicked on the cropping tool and could pinch to zoom and move the grid to crop my picture as desired. As an experienced iPhone user, pinching to zoom while moving an image was intuitive. However, iPhoto also throws image rotation into the mix, and there seemed a bit too much going on. I also noticed that, after I had zoomed into my desired amount and started to rotate my image, my zoom level would unwontedly change. This was really annoying.

Only after further exploring the copping tool did I realize there was an alternate option. After pinching to my desired zoom level, I could tap on the rotate dial at the bottom of the screen to rotate my photo by actually physically rotating my iPhone. This was not only a cool feature, but I found it made for easier image manipulation that was much more user-friendly.

Rotate

Overall, iPhoto delivers a lot of functionality with many ways to edit, tweak, optimize and share your photos. But when the high amount of functionality equates to increased complication for the end user, tooltips for each tool or on-demand tutorials might be a good idea. That way, users who don’t want or need help won’t be bothered. But users, like my new-to-iPhone friend, can get the help they need.

That being said, after going through all the editing tools and options in iPhoto, I couldn’t believe that my friend said that iPhoto doesn’t do much. What I can believe, is that she might have never gotten to the cool effects because she wasn’t prepared to put the effort into learning about all the tools. So she gave up before she had a chance to really bask in the glory of all that iPhoto has to offer.

It just goes to show how important a user’s first impression of an app is, and that the fine balance between having too much and too little is a delicate relationship. Even if it does everything the user wants, there’s a chance that if they can’t do it easily, they won’t do it at all.

The good news is, I hear the iPad version of the app does offer tooltips to users, so hopefully the iPhone version of the app will incorporate some much needed tooltips soon.

As I sit in the Apple Store waiting for Genius Ted to tell me all will be well with my iPhone 4s (and, by default, my life), I am not surprised to see the number of people filtering into the store to inquire about or try to purchase the iPad3, or the new iPad.

Apple CEO Tim Cook presented its iPad as “the ultimate poster child of the post-PC world” in the event. “The iPad is about post-portable computing.  And it’s outstripping the wildest of predictions. The momentum behind iPad has been incredible and has surprised virtually everyone.”

But what is really new with this Apple product? What is the real deal? Is it as amazing as the wait time to make an online order suggest?

With mixed reviews from colossal #Fail to “sheer brilliance,” I sought an impartial review from the one person I could think of who could keep a level head in this time of excitement; our resident tech guru and CEO, Sep Seyedi.

“The iPad 3 has some really fantastic new features. For instance, it sets a new bar for resolution on tablets and imaging. The 4G is fantastic to promote it as a tool for collaboration (i.e. things like video calling / conferences). Work places that are worried about data consumption may look to the iPad 3 in the work place and offices to support their infrastructure.”

Basically, what i got from him is that the iPad 3 doesn’t have all the features Apple fans were hoping and wishing for, BUT, it seems to be a pretty great product with a fresh look, processor, increased screen resolution, new firmware and a set of other advanced features that at least make us go  ”oooo,” if not also “aaaaa.”

The stylus has been a heated topic of conversation around the office ever since last week’s Bagel Wednesday. Today, the battle continued between the pro-pen vs. anti-stylus fanatics during our discourse of baked goods.

A key component to the dispute is, of course, Apple vs. Android – with Apple users in the office suggesting that a stylus is more suitable for an Android device because iOS products are (their words) “superior.” WELL. According to this article in Gizmodo, there is a stylus for iPad that might actually be better than our “inferior” phalanges.

Ten One Design’s Pogo was one of the first styluses designed for use with iOS devices and has recently out done itself with the pressure-sensitive super stylus (code name: Blue Tiger).

Using a low-power Bluetooth 4.0 connection it wirelessly connects to your iOS device without the huge, heavy battery pack that can make a stylus quite the cumbersome utensil. Also, as long as an app supports it, the Blue Tiger can accurately relay information about how hard you’re pressing. This technology is amazing for the artist group – probably the stylus’ no. 1 supporters. The Blue Tiger allows the users to vary the thickness of a stroke based simply on how they apply pressure. Pretty cool for artists, but what does that mean for the rest of us?

Is the Blue Tiger awesome enough to convince the skeptics in our office to choose a pen over our handy (get it, hand – y?) fingers to conduct every day iPad use? Tell us what you think on twitter @plasticmobile.

Blue Tiger Stylus. Photo: Gizmodo

Plastic Mobile teams up with leading group-buying site TeamBuy to bring the power of shopping to your fingertips – literally! Plastic Mobile announced the launch of the TeamBuy app yesterday in a press release. Our award-winning mobile marketing agency and TeamBuy, a leading Canadian group-buying site, created a channel that allows smart shoppers to get great deals anywhere, at anytime, on the go.

With mobile commerce on the rise and more than 60% of mobile users shopping on their smartphones, the TeamBuy app allows savvy shoppers to get that amazing weekend getaway or a spa-cation deal without rushing to a desktop. The app uses geo-location to offer deals pertinent to the users nearby area and allows TeamBuy users to track their purchases and redeem them directly from any iPhone, iPad, iTouch or Android phone. Built directly into the app, the “Team Bucks” loyalty program ensures users keep coming back to the app for more.

Check out the video to learn more!

The news of Pizza Pizza’s 111 111th order resonated far and wide…and when we say far, we mean FAR. Radu Tyrsina in Romania interviewed Plastic Mobile’s President and COO, Melody Adhami, about the success of the award-winning app. Radu praises the Pizza Pizza app for it’s core functionality – marvelling at the ease and convenience of ordering pizza through an app. He then turns to Melody to detail more about the experience in creating and using the app.
Visit his site to read the full interview and learn more about the creation and development of Canada’s first-ever pizza ordering app.

…as well as about 750 other execs, media personnel and tech enthusiasts, but, whatever.

At 7:30 this morning, this odd pastiche of professionals piled into the SONY Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, ON, to hear Duncan Stewart, Director of Technology, Media and Telecommunications, entertain and educate about Deloitt’e annual #TMTPredictions.

The tech arm of the professional services giant put together some very interesting facts and advice on what’s in store for our evolving industry in 2012. Among the most interesting prophecies were:

  • continued growth of the ever-surprising TV
  • the advent of data caps in many leading countries (i.e. the death of unlimited ISP deals. Le sigh.)
  • the metamorphosis of our smartphones and tablets to “little PVRs”; and
  • the immediate future of NFCs (hint: it’s not what you think).

One mobile prediction that really stood out was the hypothesis that the purchase of tablets would continue to increase, but that it would be less by new buyers and more concentrated by a secondary tablet in the home – apparently we’re not very good at sharing with our families.

Likewise, while the creation of apps continues to surge, Duncan Stewart pointed out that a great number of them are not unique - meaning that, while a number of new apps are being developed, so are existing apps being expanded to cover other operating systems. So, an app that was made last year for iOS, may this year be added to the Android and Microsoft markets.

According to Duncan Stewart, developing a mandate (like we have here at Plastic, not to brag, but we’re just saying) to develop cross-platform apps as often as possible, or as often as makes sense for our partners, will be crucial to increasing efficiencies in the future, and staying competitive in the mobile game.

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