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Recently our very own Vice President of Marketing and Business Development – Salome Sallehy – sat down with Luxury Daily to discuss Harry Winston’s new mobile Secrets ad campaign on Harper’s Bazaar digital publication.  The ad used the “screen takeover” technique, covering the home page of Harper’s Bazaar, Salome sheds some light on why this approach is effective when executed correctly.

Harper’s Bazaar  is a glamour content destination for a wide range of readers including the affluent Gen X and Y’s”  Salome said.  “The screen takeover ads are effective in that they don’t get missed, but are usually experienced on the other ends of the spectrum; the mobile user is either really annoyed, or really delighted, depending on context and relevance.”  She added.

The Harry Winston Secrets ad features a film, where the consumer is led through a large empty home, into a secret door that looks like a mirror.  The concept was that each piece in the collection had a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, hence the “Secrets” campaign.

Salome shared her insights, and expertise stating “in this case, the context is very fitting in that the content is aligned with what the mobile user is already discovering, so there’s a good chance they won’t be annoyed.  However, when a mobile experience is disrupted with something unexpected, the user is more likely to have a positive reaction if they feel that the content being presented is relevant and exclusive to them.”

Screen takeovers, when applied in the right context can actually be pretty useful, especially around the holiday season when shoppers are looking for that special gift. The ads allow for you to be a part of an exclusive deal that is likely only available for a limited time, without detouring you from the original website you intended to view.

“Since Harry Winston doesn’t engage in ecommerce, their mobile marketing efforts are to drive traffic to the stores and partner retailers and that’s a pretty tall order for a mobile ad if the user isn’t encouraged to get better acquainted before the trip.”

Tweet us your thoughts! Would you be annoyed or delighted if you went to your online shopping destination, and a screen takeover ad informed you about a feature, or deal? @plasticmobile

 

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Have you heard? Plastic COO, Melody Adhami, will be speaking at the next Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) Senior Executive Strategy Event, presented by KPMG.

The WCT, based out of Ottawa, is an association committed to providing networking and industry support to advance women’s careers in communications, digital media and technology. With partnerships with the Information Communications Technology Council, Information Technology Alliance of Canada and Wired Women, the WCT continues to provide a network of over 2500 women with mentoring, leadership and and skills development.

The WCT has recognized Melody as a leader in the field for thought leadership and innovation. Based on her experiences, she is able to provide insight to women in the tech space about how to rethink strategy and business development.

In her talk,  “Back to the Future:  Looking Back at Starting a Future Forward Company”, Melody will be discussing what it takes to be a female entrepreneur and the gumption needed to build a digital marketing agency from the ground up.

Where to find the event?

Verity Club

111 Queen St. E

Toronto, ON

When?

Monday, April 14th

6:00-8:00 pm

Register soon, word has it that space is pretty limited.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Blog Pic - Marketing_IT

If I had a nickle for every time a marketer sneered when they talked about their IT counterpart, or a CIO rolled their eyes at the mention of the CMO….

Being in the mobile technology space I have this conversation daily:

Me: “Who owns the mobile piece of your business?”

Other: “Ummm….well….IT owns it, but marketing runs it”

OR

Other: “Aaah….marketing sort of owns the project, but IT kind of owns the budget”

While the heads of Marketing and IT are stubbornly trying to claim their autonomy – and their stake in mobile initiatives – the reality is that they’re more like an old married couple who can’t live without the other, but hasn’t quite figured out how to live together yet.

I say ‘yet’ because they really have no choice. The Napoleonic code definitely applies to this odd couple in the time of technology-driven consumerism. But more importantly they need each other. As different as they are, they share the same business goals and ultimately execute on the same customer facing projects.

I like to think of the scenario of a Car – let’s call it Mobile360 going on a road trip to the land of Customer Experience. The car is what’s going to get them there, but Marketing & IT are each concerned with different parts of it.

Marketing wants to ensure that they enjoy the trip enough to want to do it again and works hard to make the car comfortable, fast, fun and sexy…preferably in a colour that the driver will want to raise a flag in.

IT wants to ensure that the car is safe, soundly built, working optimally and efficiently….preferably using the latest technologies.

If they don’t both succeed in their mandates, they’ll never get to their destination. The residents of Customer Experience won’t buy a car well-built but not comfortable, or one that looks great but doesn’t run well.

The solution starts at the top and trickles down through the whole organization:

Step 1 – Clearly identifying the business objectives that Marketing and IT have in common

Step 2 – Pave a path where components of the project are allocated to the department based on their core competencies

Step 3 – Plan collaborative checkpoints along the way….include cocktails wherever possible

As with any strained relationship counselling may be required, but communication is key to reconciliation.

The team at Plastic is on the move again – good thing we are a mobile agency! (Ya, we just did that.) This time we’re off to Mobile Day in downtown Toronto, on May 8th.

This one day event is dedicated to all things Mobile Marketing, so of course Plastic Mobile will be front stage. Our Innovation Lab is working on something extra special to show off at the event. It will be the first time it’s unveiled to the public, so you won’t want to miss it. Unfortunately, it’s classified information, so if we were to tell you any more, we’d have to sick, Brock, the office attack dog on yo – beware of a serious licking to death!

The whole event is being put together by Marketing Magazine, with some great sponsors including Plastic Mobile, Yahoo! and Google.

As someone interested in the mobile marketing space (this assumption is based on the fact that you’re reading our blog), if you’re located in or near to the Toronto area come check it out and say hello to our amazing Marketing Team.

You can even win a free ticket. Take a picture of the most random place you use your mobile device and tweet it with the hashtag #TrulyMobile. You will be entered into a draw for a free ticket courtesy of your friends at Plastic Mobile and Marketing Mag.

Enter the contest on Twitter, you can tweet us @PlaticMobile

Over the past few years, brands have been including various mobile and digital elements such as SMS, QR codes and augmented reality into their marketing efforts to drive user engagement. Last year it seemed as though mobile video was incorporated into everything. But, as we near the close of 2012 this trend appears to be slowing down. What’s the deal?

We can’t help but think that mobile advertising videos are not being implemented enough into multi-channel efforts. Marketers should be embracing this increasingly popular medium into efforts, not neglecting it.

It seems that the number one concern about mobile video advertisements is the fact that they are directly tied to your brand, so poor performance could present a huge liability that could discourage businesses from pursuing them completely.

We understand why brands are hesitant to go full-throttle with a medium that’s not fully understood. But, in this day of rapidly evolving digital and mobile mediums, advertisers and marketers need to increase their brand awareness by being creative, relevant and targeted.

Marketers shouldn’t shy away from this medium, they just need to understand performance from an end-user perspective. I mean who doesn’t love watching videos on their smartphones and tablets? Visual has an enormous potential due to the sight, sound and motion experience. It can increase ad awareness, brand association and purchase intent. Ergo, mobile video just makes good sense!

Do you want your favourite brands to pick up the pace with mobile vids? Let us know what you think @PlasticMobile.

Nowadays, with smartphone image quality nearing that of most point-and-shoot cameras, along with the inherent convenience of mobile, more and more people are using their devices as their go-to camera.

As a result of this trend, we are seeing a constantly increasing amount of photography apps popping up. These apps offer users a variety of innovative features not found in native apps. One such app is creating somewhat of a buzz latley, by offering its users an opportunity to make money doing something that they are already doing for free.

FOAP

Available on the iPhone, Foap can be best described as Instagram meets stock photos.

Much like Instagram, Foap allows users to create profiles, upload photos, rate photos and follow other users. AND, remarkably similar to a stock photography site, Foap has created a marketplace where photographs can be bought and sold.

That’s right! Users can actually make money selling the digital photos taken with their iPhones – capitalism wins again!

However, it should be noted that uploaded photos must first be reviewed by someone, we assume a photography expert, at Foap. So, only the approved photos are uploaded to the Foap market and put on sale for $10, with all transactions processed through PayPal.

When a user’s photo is sold, the generated revenue is split 50/50 between Foap and the user. I know $5 doesn’t sound like much, but just consider what Instagram users get for uploading their photos (hint; the answer is nothing).

It’s not very clear exactly what Foap looks for when reviewing photos, but from what I have read in the app’s FAQ section, photos must be clear and of good quality, and of course free of any sexual or violent content.

I have also read elsewhere, that editing photos decreases the chance that they will be published. I, myself was unable to upload some cropped images. I received an error message stating that either the width or length of an image must be at least 1000 pixels.

Once photos are successfully uploade, reviewed and published, they are showcased in the app’s market section. Users can access the market through a tab menu found on the home screen. The home screen is very easy to learn and navigate, making for speedy discovery and exploration of the app.

Once in the market, users are able browse through published photos, leave comments and rate them out of a possibe five stars. Top rated and recently sold photos have their own dedicatd sections in the market, while the entire selection can be found under the “Explore” tab.

Users are not actually able to purchase photos directly from the app, but I predict that will change eventually. Until that time, however, anyone wishing to purchase a photo must do so through the company’s website.

However, while viewing a particular photo, users can tap an arrow icon loacated at top right of their screens, which gives them a few options. Selecting “View on Market” will launch Safari and take users to that particular picture’s page on the website.

I have been playing around with this app for a few days now, and I must admit that I have become a bit addicted. For the purpose of this review, I actually snapped this photo and uploaded it. Once it was approved and published, my picture quickly picked up a few five-star ratings and made its way onto the top-rated chart under the “Today” category. In fact, it made it all the way to #2!

Every since then, I have been snapping away, trying repeat my accomplishment. I have introduced a few friends to Foap who are now also hooked. We’ve even mafe a friendly bet between us as to who will be the first to actually sell a photo.

Even is you have little interest in selling your images, I would still recommend giving this app a try. Foap is well designed and easy to learn and use. It can also be alot of fun and can even possibly get you paid for your amateur photography! Yay!

So far in 2012, Plastic has been a big hit in the awards circle. We have won 10 awards, and the year is only half over!

Most recently, we won a Gold award for Pizza Pizza’s iPhone ordering app at the Applied Arts Interactive awards.

And the Creativity International Media and Inteactive Awards liked us so much, they gave us four awards:

  • A Gold Award for Pizza Pizza iPhone ordering app
  • A Gold Award for our AIR MILES app
  • A Silver Award for our Team Buy consumer app
  • An Honourable Mention for our Exchange Trade Fund app, ETF Central

And the Horizon Interactive Awards toasted us three times for:

  • A Gold Award for the Pizza Pizza iPhone ordering app
  • A Silver Award for the Royal LePage mobile website.
  • And a Silver Award for our Exchange Trade Fund app, ETF Central

Pizza Pizza also brought in yet an additional two awards including a Silver from the Communicator Awards as well as an Official Honouree Award from the Webby’s this year.

We can’t wait to see what the second half of the year has in store for us, and we want to take a moment to send out a huge thanks to everyone involved in all our mobile solutions – we know it takes a village to raise a child, and we couldn’t have done it without you – you know who you are!

After reading this report on last year’s holiday shopping season, we began to wonder how many retailer’s would learn their lesson for 2012.

In November of 2011, mobile took the holiday shopping scene by storm, ravaging the purchasing stats and making a mess of retailer’s traditional approach to advertising and marketing opportunities.

The report, from JWT, is from the survey of 465 mobile shoppers and hopes to shed a little light on the potential impact of web-savvy mobile devices on retail environments, e- and m-commerce and consumer behaviour and mobile device use.

Four extremely interesting facts for retailer’s to consider when sitting down to do create their strategies for the 2012 holiday shopping season:

1. On average, 55% of consumers who shopped on mobile devices in the past year also took the same actions during the holiday season.

2. 55% used their smartphones to find price info, 46% to get more info and 38% to make a purchase.

3. Men and Millennials did the most mobile shopping during  the 2011 holiday season.

4. Of those who shop on their mobile device, 69% say the mobile shopping  experience is either “excellent” or “very good.”

Guided Access for iOS

Pending its release later this year, the new Apple OS has once again managed to incorporate features that we didn’t know we needed…until we saw them. Among many, iOS 6 features include new vector based maps, the highly anticipated PassBook app and a very convenient Do Not Disturb mode for your iPhone. Less publicized however, is Guided Access, a feature that will make it both easier with those with a vision, hearing, learning and mobility disability and educators to incorporate iOS devices in their daily routine.

VoiceOver, a screen reader first introduced in Mac OS X is now integrated with more features including maps and zoom. This will allow the visually impaired greater access to content and generally, offer more ease of use. The feature serves different functions as you change devices – for example, with every Mac computer, you can connect a braille display and VoiceOver will program the keys for you.

What’s completely new is how Guided Access plans to expand to assist parents, teachers and administrators use iOS devices in their working environments. Whether it be at home, in a classroom or on the go, Guided Access provides the functionality to better educate.

The highlighted features include:

·      the ability to selectively disable portions of the device from use

·      disable hardware buttons

·      disable certain portions of certain apps

·      transition into single app mode

These features are useful in a number of ways and for many people. For instance, in classrooms it is commonly understood that technology is more of a distraction than an asset. But with Guided Access, devices in the classroom serve as an educational tool, where teachers are provided with control as to what students can access and – more importantly – can’t access. It’s hard to cheat when you’re locked into a test!

Also, Guided Access provides an opportunity for enhanced learning experiences for those with a disability. Students can focus on the task at hand without worry of hitting mistakes.

Guided Access has has functionalities that are excellent for outside of the education space. Consider iPad kiosks, menus at restaurants and satisfaction surveys, which can all now be conducted while the user is on the go.

As our co-founder, Melody Adhami, often says, technology should help and not hinder. As Apple continues to provide us with devices that we can virtually do anything with, they continue to also increase the ease with which we do all this anything.

Everything taken into consideration, kudos to Apple once again for their efforts in equal accessibility and their efforts in revolutionizing the education system.

Love Apple’s latest efforts? Tweet us @plasticmobile and tell us your thoughts.

Yesterday, Plastic’s management and creative teams got up early to hit the links for a day of fun in the sun (and a bit of rain) at the 4th annual IAB Golf Tournament.

We brought one our amazing artists with us to hole six North. He spent the day creating custom illustrations of the teams that came through the hole.

These amazing drawings were then printed out after the tournament for the groups to pick up and display proudly in their homes or offices!

To anyone who didn’t get their illustration, please feel free to tweet us @plasticmobile and we’ll be happy to mail you your copy.

A big thanks to everyone who participated and to iab Canada for yet another successful event.

The latest in Android anti-virus, called Sophos Mobile Security, has produced a report identifying the top five most frequently encountered scary problems on the platform. The first, PJApps-C, is Android’s most significant chaos causer. See the chat above and the list below for more on Android’s scariest viruses.

1. Andr/PJApps-C.

2. Andr/BBridge-A.

3. Andr/BatteryD-A.

4. Andr/Generic-S.

5. Andr/DrSheep-A.

Read more in depth about each of them HERE

While many people may not give a second thought to the mobile computing threats emerging as the mobile industry continues to grow and expand, there is some cause for concern. Thankfully, the company Veracode has got our backs. They’ve recently released a free ebook about mobile security that offers 10 simple ways to ramp up the company protection against a very real growing mobile threat. Get the free ebook HERE.

WWDC 2012

In light of Apple’s 23rd annual World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco this week, the talk today at our bagel Wednesday meeting, was all about the tech giant and what they did and did not unveil.

While we all know better than to speculate about what Apple will do next, there were two major expectations for this conference: a new phone and TV.

Per usual, Apple had another thought. Here’s list of the best to come and the expected items that were not actually on their list:

Featured Highlights:

- A super-powered 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina display screen that offers an extraordinary 2880-pixel by 1800-pixel resolution, sharper than high-definition TV

- Software update, Mountain Lion is set to arrive next month

- iOS 6 was foreshadowed at the conference, but likely won’t arrive until at least September

- Maps app to replace Google maps

Missing Features:

- A new iPhone 5

- An Apple TV update or new hardware

Surprisingly, Apple stock was reportedly down today – which one of our developers speculated might be because of the absence of the two big Apple products mentioned above. Tune in to our Tweets @plasticmobile to stay on top of what’s going down Southwest of us in San Fran.

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

This week, I want to discuss yet another Clear-like task management app. This one is different from the rest and I definitely recommend checking it out (especially if you are a fan of Clear and, well just apps in general).

If you remember, a few weeks ago I wrote about an app called Well Done, which in my opinion was a cheap knockoff of one of my all-time favourite apps (Clear). Overall, I thought Well Done showed some potential in the added functionality it offered, but failed overall because of a lack of refinement and fine-tuning.

Task

This brings me to Task, which is another task management app that has recently come out of the woodwork following the success of Clear. Task, however, is the only app that I think can stand in the same shoes as Clear.

Task offers a simple and intuitive interface, fun gesture-based interactions and allows users to add to do items quickly and with ease.

Same Same, but Different

 

Yes, Task has obviously been heavily inspired by the Clear app – the similar interface and the use of some of the same gesture-based interactions are very evident. However, I believe enough significant changes were made to give the app its own unique look and feel.

For example, the colour coding in Clear, which signifies the importance of each task, has been removed and replaced with a small yellow badge that appears on a task when it is marked important, taking away the range of importance levels and leaving the user with just the options of important or not important.

The benefit of removing the colour coding is that, in some cases, it may simplify things a tad. For example, when all tasks on a list share the same level of urgency, Clear’s rainbow colour-coding loses its value and may even become somewhat of a distraction to users.

Another difference between Task and Clear lies in the manner in which users add new tasks to their lists. In Clear, users perform a downward swipe, which would pull down on the list exposing a blank task at the top. However, Task users swipe upward to expose a blank task at the bottom of the list.

While the gestures for creating new tasks are different within either app, the gestures for marking tasks as completed and for deleting tasks remain the same. However, the transitions and visual feedback cues are slightly different. The transitions in Task are reminiscent of the fold-to-unlock jailbreak.

Added Functionality

 

Task users have the added ability to mark tasks with dates and set up a notification for a certain time on that day. Using this feature is very intuitive and easy. The combination of gesture-based interactions, coupled with the fold-to-unlock transition, makes this feature also very enjoyable to use.

Another little feature: Task has a nifty gesture-based interaction for checking the time and date. Users pull down on the list to see the current time and date and simply let go when they’re done.

Missing Functionality

 

One thing I really missed in Task was the ability to create multiple lists to better manage and organize my many tasks. Clear allows users to do just that, and also made navigating between lists easy and fun with its use of the pinch gesture.

 

Final Take

Overall, I like Task, but not because I think it’s anything new or particularly innovative. Rather, I like Task because it’s a further refined take on something that was both new and innovative.

I think Task succeeds where others, like Well Done, have failed. Meaning, it has succeeding in re-creating Clear in a way that captures its essence (minimalist, simple and fun), offers a comparable level of UX and can still be differentiated as something relatively new.

Do you have the Task app? Tweet us @plasticmobile and let us know what you think!

There has been a lot of conversation about mobile payments lately, but I feel much of it is simply future predictions and speculations. While I understand why – widespread adoption on the retailer’s side, although growing, is still lacking – it’s time for some action. So when, “Pitch the Plastic: The Mobile Payment Era Has Begun,” showed up on my radar, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only does the title carry our company name (Plastic Mobile, woo!), but also a few examples of some great startups pushing the movement forward with innovative new mobile solutions.

The first of the two, iCache Geode, launched just a couple days ago and hopes to thin out your wallet (while bulking up your iPhone) significantly. iCache Geode is an iPhone case that carries a detachable card with a rewritable magnetic stripe within it, which performs as any of your credit cards. Also, it offers an e-ink display on it’s exterior which displays barcodes in substitution of loyalty and membership cards.

How secure is it? Each time you open the app, you must first pass a fingerprint test to enter. To use either feature, download the app and input your credit card numbers and take pictures of barcodes on existing cards. With just a few clicks, the card within the case becomes whichever card of your choosing and the barcode whatever you’d like to display. Take the card out and swipe/scan at any existing POS system. Pretty neat.

While I obviously 100% support mobile innovation, I can already see a few things potential going awry. For instance, if I purchase iCache Geode (at $199 I might add), I would absolutely have to justify the buy by not carrying my credit cards, loyalty and membership cards with me. But what if my phone dies?  What if I drop my phone and break the case? Just like that, there goes my investment.

My clumsiness aside, I’m afraid that retailers’s adoption rate will be very slow. Most retailers have been trained to be careful when accepting credit cards as it is, checking the card, name and signature. Will there be hesitation on their part when seeing the unfamiliar? Do they need a dotcom giant, Like a Google or PayPal, behind them to give them the necessary cred?

Last, many of us are anxiously waiting for the next generation iPhone later this year. If there is a hardware redesign, this case won’t do. It’s been designed solely for the iPhone 4 and 4s and that may pose an issue in the future. In addition, with rumors of Apple bringing NFC to the iPhone, this product might become all together obsolete.

All in all, it’s great to see some headway with mobile payments and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the iCache Geode delivers and hopefully helps to move this space forward. What have you heard about the iCache Geode? Tweet us your thoughts @plasticmobile.

Retailers of all kinds are gearing up for this first-ever conference on mobile transactions. Taking place at the Old Mill Inn & Spa on June 26 and 27, 2012, Mobile Transaction and Commerce Summit, promises to be a networking and learning opportunity for every customer-based company from big name retailers and online merchants to banks and financial institutions.

With speaker sessions hosted by retail industry experts and enterprise pioneers, attendees have the chance to hear solution-focused presentations and discussions on how to better integrate mobile payment and commerce into marketing strategies.

Some of the speakers include top marketing executives from Gap, Best Buy and Deloitte, as well as the Head of Mobile for JetBlue Airways and our very own Plastic Mobile Co-founder and President, Melody Adhami, who will discuss using m-commerce to transform the retail experience.

Basically, this inaugural conference is a must-attend for any retailer with a transaction-based business model and a customer base. Why? Because mobile commerce and transactions represent a huge piece of the puzzle in retailers’ imminent future, with mobile shopping predicted to account for $163 billion of sales worldwide (12% of global e-commerce turnover) by 2015.

The Mobile Transaction and Commerce Summit is an excellent opportunity to get a deeper knowledge of focused trends and hear some practical examples of dos and don’ts from those in the know.

Tweet us @plasticmobile and let us know if you’re attending the MTCS this month.

What says summer more than flying assault helicopters around the park on a beautiful, sunny day? As fodder for the tech toy lover in all of us, one of our QA developers sent around a list of new toys that are, or will soon, be available for purchase.

The first one is from Griffin, and is called “HELO TC Assault.” A missile-firing, flying machine, check out the video of this fun toy:

The second is Parrot’s new “AR Drone 2.0″ that comes complete with an HD camera with a wide-angle lens so that you can watch where you’re going! Watch the video to see how it works:

Last, if you’ve got the itch to spend all your hard earned money on a brand new toy, you’ve got to see this new RC vehicle called the “HydroView.” Just watch and learn and be awed:

Of course, all of these digital marvels can be controlled by your mobile devices. Excited about tech-y toys? Tell us all about it @plasticmobile.

At our weekly Bagel Wednesday meeting, the topic du jour was, of course, Facebook. Over and above all of the buzz surrounding their apparently over-inflated IPO, there is no shortage of gossip and speculation about the social networking giant.

From creating their very own mobile device, to paying millions for facial recognition, Facebook seems to have a hand in everything lately. While some of the rumours seem a bit farfetched, or at least a little odd, the potential acquisition of face.com, makes perfect sense.

Face.com

Face.com offers an API to developers and publishers that allows them to create apps that have instant facial recognition on their photo services for users. This particular rumour is garnering a great deal of attention from Tweeters and Bloggers, and thus far, the general consensus among analysts is that this is a smart move for Facebook.

Tom Cherader of VentureBeat states:

“Being able to easily identify those faces would easily translate into a higher traffic return, and hopefully higher ad revenue. There’s also the fact that Facebook would be gaining a pretty wonderful domain name that encompasses half of the social network’s own name.”

 

The deal, which is being confirmed by multiple TechCrunch.com sources, is speculated to have the pricetag of around $100 million and could mean the sale of Russian search engine, Yandex.com’s, shares in Face.com to Facebook, or a full out acquisition. But these and other finer details have not yet been confirmed. TechCrunch lays down the evidence clearly in their recent blog post.

• Israeli business publication Calcalist first reported (in Hebrew) that Facebook was looking to purchase Face.com.

• The deal size has been put at $80 million and $100 million. We’re calling it at $100m.

• Face.com’s technology is a natural acquisition target for Facebook. Photos are core to Facebook’s lock-in strategy and facial recognition allows tags to better reflect the social graph, which then feeds into making its advertising platform more efficient.

• There is evidence the two companies have been talking for some time (after all, Face.com appeared in 2007), but a price was never agreed until now.

• Face.com’s popular Facebook application Photo Tagger, allows people to scan their (or their friends’) photo albums for known faces. It also has the iOS facial recognition app KLIK and a public API that could benefit Facebook.

• Facebook’s own camera app could integrate the Face.com API.

• Face.com has so far raised $5.3 million from Yandex and Rhodium

What do you think of Facebook’s proposed purchase? Savvy or shifty? Tweet us @plasticmobile and let us know!

Today at our weekly Plastic Mobile Bagel Wednesday meeting, one of our QA developers introduced us to Leap Motion, a company doing some pretty crazy things. Leap has developed a small USB case that offers an entirely new way to interact with your computers. They say that it’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your hand and finger movements. As our Plastic techy suggested, “you can control your computer just like Tom Cruise does in Minority Report.”

Created by former NASA scientist, David Holz, the innovative new gesture control product can be pre-ordered for e mere $70. Mr. Holz says that Leap is 1000 times more accurate than any other device recognition 3D gesture control and its technology already interests many other companies that are ready to integrate it into mobile devices. We can’t wait!

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

This past week over 15 apps found their way onto my iPhone. Sadly, most of them were deleted just as fast they were downloaded with a sparse few allowed a place on my screen to crash for a couple of nights. Come Monday, though, only two of them now call my phone home for good.

The first app, Logos Quiz, did a great job keeping me entertained during a four-hour flight to Las Vegas. The other, TikTok, is a sexier alternative to the standard iOS clock app that delivers varied functionality to users.

1. Logos Quiz

Logos Quiz is a fun little game that has very simplistic UI. The game tests the user’s knowledge of brands in what is a surprisingly entertaining way given its basic presentation. The game asks the user to identify various logos, but is actually more challenging than it sounds because, with a few exceptions, users are only shown partial logos that are missing some of their identifiable elements.

I only had one small problem with Logos Quiz. Even though I enjoyed the fresh and different look of the keyboard, I found it to be very unforgiving and highly prone to fat-finger mistakes.

Right off the bat, I noticed that the keys were smaller than those of the standard iOS keyboard. However, only after comparing the keyboards side-by-side, did I realized how much smaller the keys actually were. Not to mention that the space between keys was also considerably more narrow.

If a real-estate shortage was the issue, I believe that reducing the size of the keyboard should not have even been considered as an option. Users interact with the keyboard more than any other single element in the interface. To me, that means that a good user experience here should have been top priority.

One possible alternative to a smaller keyboard could have been reducing the length of the “Check!” button. Not dramatically, but just enough to make room for the “hint” button to be placed directly to its right. That would allow for everything else to be higher up on the screen and ultimately could have increased the amount of real estate for the keyboard.

2. TikTok

TikTok is a clock app for users who are tired of the standard iOS clock app and want to shake up time telling and replace their bedside alarm clock.

It should be mentioned that it is not an app that can completely replace the IOS clock, as it lacks some features (world clock, stopwatch, timer). On the other hand, it does offer some cool features of its own and is an app that I would definitely recommend giving a try.

I really enjoyed the level of customization available to users. You can choose between digital or analog clock displays, then customize pretty much everything to your liking.

Some other cool features include: weather (displayed along with the time), sleep timer (allows users to select and play tracks from their iTunes library for a pre-determined amount of time), month and week calendars (displayed along with the time).

If you follow my blog posts, you’ll know by now just how much I apprecaite the use of gesture controls. This app was no exception. The above-mentioned features were great, but what impressed me the most about this app was its creative use of gesture controls and the iPhone’s gyroscope.

Users can swipe up or down to increase or decrease the screen’s brightness level. They can also toggle their flash on and off just by shaking the phone, which comes in handy for those 2am bathroom trips.

The only downside is that to fully benefit from all the features, users must leave the app running throughout the night and disable the screen lock. This means that they must also keep their phones plugged in so that they don’t wake up to a dead phone.

Are you playing Logos Quiz or using TikTok to find keep you on time? Tweet us with your thoughts @plasticmobile.

Plastic Mobile’s Candy Shop Visits eTail!

Plastic Mobile and our infamous Candy Shop are sharing our sweet treats and mobile innovations at eTail this week. There to show attendees of the electronic retail conference how mobile is poised to change the face of the storefront, the Candy Shop team is handing out delish sweets and working on changing the way retailers connect wit their customers.

Melody Adhami is also there, chairing the conversation about the rapidly evolving retail space and what’s in store for the future of shopping.

Stay tuned for our follow up on highlights from the conference later this week.

Are you at eTail this week? Tweet us @plasticmobile and let us know what you’re finding interesting – and don’t forget to stop into the Candy Shop to say high and get some Blue Jellies and Berryliciousness!

ComScore Mobile Metrix 2.0 released a report on Monday that looked at mobile media usage across both apps and mobile web browsing. According to the new data, Google is the #1 site used across iOS, Android and RIM devices, followed by Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon.

But in terms of usage, apps took home first prize. The New numbers from Comscore indicated that of the smartphone users on the web while mobile, nearly all of them are using apps and not a browser, with four out of every five mobile media minutes spent in apps.

There was little surprise as to which apps were being used most with the built-in system applications winning and Facebook following as a close runner up.

The first spot on app usage? Well, given the information above, it seems obvious that – platform dependent – the App Store or the Android Market are most used.

What does this mean for mobile commerce, we wondered? It’s hard to say from the report statistics, but we’re excited to see more mobile users moving away from just browsing on their phones and using apps to do their research, stay connected and get immersed in the wonders of mobile.

What do you use most on your mobile device? The web browser or apps? Tweet us and let us know @plasticmobile.

Check out comScore’s latest mobile report from Mobile Metrix 2.0

 

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine


This week we’ll be looking at Figure, a neat and super simple music-making app by Propellerhead Software. Figure allows even the most off-beat, tone-deaf, musically challenged individuals to create fairly decent sounding music.

Unlike other music apps, such as Garageband, Figure takes a much more simplistic approach that lets users pick up and play without much of a learning curve.

 

 

How it Works

 

Figure keeps things easy by minimizing the functionality available to users, making it more of a beat making app than a full-out music production tool.  It only gives users a variety of bass, drums and lead synths to work with.

Users also don’t have the ability to input notes as they can with other more complex music production apps. Instead – and we think for their own good – they are limited to using a pre-quantized range of notes.

Figure provides users with some pretty cool rhythm wheels, which play notes in preset patterns and rhythms. The use of these rhythm wheels makes it very easy to stay on the beat and not stray off into the weird noise area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touch Away

 

Figure is all about interacting and touching, which I believe makes the experience more engaging and enjoyable. It utilizes the iPhone’s touchscreen beautifully by using every last bit of touchable real estate.  I was impressed with how intuitive the touch controls were and how natural it felt to tap, drag, swipe and draw while making music.

 

 

Great UI

The interface in this app was simple, intuitive and looked pretty darn cool to me. Th colour coded tabs to spread out the functionality worked well as I never found myself taking time to search for anything. I could always see where everything was and didn’t need to put any thought into how to get there.

At first, I found the blue touch fields in the pattern tab to be a little too small for my liking. Then I learned that by rotating my phone into landscape view, I could have just those four touch fields take up the entire screen, making it much easier to tap out some beats.

Pattern tab in landscape view.

 

Save? Share?

 

After creating my first masterpiece, I was pretty disappointed to discover that I couldn’t save or share my craftsmanship with the world. At the very least I think we should be able to save a few of our creative audio endeavours, but find the lack of sharing particularly perplexing as most apps have some sort of social networking element built in. I’m curious to know the reason behind this and if these options were even considered. The search for answers continues. Have any insights? Tweet us @plasticmobile and put my curiosity to rest.

 

 

The Final Beat

 

Figure is a fun way to pass time and be creative. It doesn’t require much to learn how to use it and, more importantly, doesn’t require any musical talent to use.

However, it is missing two pretty significant and obvious features. The option to save would give users the ability to go back and listen to their creations, and the option to share would let them brag to all their friends about their beat-making skills!

Plastic Mobile and Luxury Institute: How the Wealthy are Using Mobile to Shop Luxury Brands from Plastic Mobile on Vimeo.

Award-winning mobile marketing agency, Plastic Mobile, recently partnered with the independent, New York City based Luxury Institute in a study to learn more about how wealthy consumers are using their mobile devices and luxury brand applications.

Watch our video of the findings and learn how mobile is set to change the luxury brand retail landscape by working to enhance the in-store experience.

Plastic Mobile was proud to recently partner with the independent, New York City based Luxury Institute in a study to learn more about how wealthy consumers are using their mobile devices and luxury brand applications.

“Mobile has been receiving a lot of traction and excitement in the retail space lately. However, that doesn’t mean there is one mobile strategy that’s right for all brands. The study suggests for luxury it is more about enhancing the in-store customer experience, and using mobile to help strengthen the relationship with the customer,” says Melody Adhami, President and COO of Plastic Mobile.

Some interesting positive facts were revealed in the study, including that nearly all wealthy consumers who have used luxury brand apps report that they have had a good experience with the mobile apps (93%). In addition, 71% report that they feel better connected to luxury brands after downloading and/or using their applications and 64% view luxury brands that offer a mobile application more favorably than brands that do not.

The survey respondents suggest there are a number of features they expect from luxury brand applications, and they believe luxury brands could use apps to enhance the in-store shopping experience. They also thought that providing sales professionals with a mobile application to specify details about products (53%), have the ability to check for sizes and availability at other stores (50%) and in-store product inventory (47%) would enrich the shopping experience for affluent consumers.

Overall, the study indicated a tremendous opportunity for luxury brand retailers to enhance relationships with affluent customers through careful mobile strategy.

This morning one our QA Analysts brought this Samsung Galaxy SIII teaser video to our attention. While the end of the video seems to be a clear jab at Apple, suggesting that all iPhone owners are but simple sheep to Mac’s overwhelming marketing power, our Analyst pointed out that Samsung sells more mobile devices than Apple, which confuses the metaphor a bit.

Nonetheless, the video shows that the most highly anticipated Android phone of 2012, the Samsung Galaxy S3, is still stirring up some serious hype.

We look forward to seeing what other features, like “unpacked,” the Android version of the cloud featured in the video, will be included in the final new product.

Are you excited for the Samsung Galaxy S3? Tweet us @plasticmobile and let us know.

For the Canadian Marketing Association Mobile Marketing Conference, Plastic Mobile’s Maggie Adhami presented a “Say it in 7″ presentation that scared the bejesus out of the crowd.

She showed them what happened to a CEO, Sales Executive and Blogger when we took their mobile devices away for one whole day.

While there was some laughter at the expense of our experiment’s subjects, there was also a lot of nervous shifting in seats as the group watched the trials and catastrophe’s that occur when one tries to face a day without their most crucial device in our current everyday lifestyle – their mobiles.

Whether an iPhone, BlackBerry or Android device, the general consensus was life without mobile is a huge challenge.

Watch our videos of the three subjects as they first agree to give up their phones, and then attempt to navigate through 24-hours of mobile-less-ness.

Hooked on Mobile: Exploring our Latest Addiction from Plastic Mobile on Vimeo.

Plastic Mobile wondered just how dependent our society has actually become on our mobile devices. So we took three mobile junkies to the test and took away their mobile devices for one day.

We asked them to record themselves on a flip cam over the course of the day.

Watch them in the throes of mobile withdrawal as they attempt to navigate their way through a completely mobile world without their co-dependent.

PM UX: The $1billion App

By on April 17, 2012
The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

If you haven’t already heard about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for a reported $1billion, you must have just come out of a weeklong coma, or possibly recently found your way home after being lost at sea. For the rest of us, it has been next to impossible to miss the headlines.

Instagram has been around for over a year, and in that time has built up a substantial user base (over 40 million). However, with its recent release on the Andoid platform, and the current buzz surrounding this app, that user base is sure to grow.

That’s why I chose now to hop on the Instagram band wagon and try out this super app formyself.

The Gist of It
Simply put, Instagram is a social network for photo enthusiasts. Users can take photos, add filters, include geo tag captions and then have their photos posted for other Instagram users to like or comment on. They can also share their photos on other popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous and Foursquare. What makes Instagram so special is how easy and quick it makes the process of taking and sharing great pictures. In a matter of seconds, users can take a picture, add a filter and share that picture for all the world to see.

New User Experience
I found Instagram to be relatively friendly to new users, as the interface was simpleand uncluttered. Also, I liked how the app walks you through the process of getting started in five easy steps.

I used the app on my iPhone and found that the icons and UI elements felt very iOS-centric, making it fairly easy to navigate my way around the app. However, I felt that some icons could have been designed to be more intuitive.
After doing a little research, I found that the icons and UI elements had been different in previous versions of the app and while the newer icons were moreesthetically pleasing, the previous used icons were more intuitive and user-friendly because they included titles.

Take for example the feed icons from the above screen shots. The feed icon in the screenshot to the left (older version) would be very hard to misinterpret. However, the one on the right (newest version) can fairly easily be seen as a home screen of sorts.

Filters & Photo Quality
I was impressed with the quality of photos that can be produced with Instagram. Just by adding one of the 18 available filters, one can dramatically improve the quality of an average photo. The trick is to experiment and learn when to use which filter.
I enjoyed not having to wait until after taking a picture to apply a filter. I could see what the picture would look like before actually snapping a shot. On the downside, one thing I felt was missing was the ability to apply multiple filters to a photo as you can with other photography apps.

I liked the use of a carousel style pop-up menu for the filter options. It was a great way to pack 18 items into a list while minimizing real estate usage. I also appreciated how the icons for each of the filters gave me an idea of what that filter did. I didn’t have to go through each filter individually until I found the desired effect.

Share and Share Alike
Another thing I liked about Instagram was the ability to import pictures from the camera roll. Users that already have a favourite camera/photo-editing app can use their preferred app to capture and edit a photo, then import it into Instagram to share with the Instagram community or on other social networks. However, it should be noted that photos imported from users’ camera roll need to be cropped to match thestandard square (1:1) images produced by snapping picture using the Instagram app itself.

Android Version
Since Instagram was also just released in the Google Play Store, I also took some time to check it out on the Android platform. Right away, as expected, I noticed that all the UI was now appropriately Android-centric, but I also couldn’t help but think that the app wasn’t on par with its IOScounterpart and here’s why:

  • Every image must be cropped (IOS version only requires cropping of images imported from camera roll).
  • Android users have to wait until they have captured and cropped their images before they can apply a filter to the image (IOS version gives users a preview).
  • Not all devices are supported.

Overall, Instagram on Android offers a noticeably less streamlined experience by lengthening the process of creating and sharing images. I must also include that the short comings of the Android version of Instagram are most likely a result of technical limitations due to the many variations of Android.

Are you loving Instagram on Android or iOS? Tell us about your photo-sharing love at @plasticmobile.

 

Ecommerce Camp 9

Join us next Monday to talk about checkout processes with Ecommerce Camp Toronto for their 9th event! EcommerceCamp is an organization that strives to push the ecommerce space forward. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or new to the space, this is your chance to learn about the community.

Learn from the experts on their checkout processes as they explore the challenges and how conversion rates were affected.

Who 250+ attendee’s + a great lineup of expert retail merchants including Jacob Kennedy from Sears, Ted Starkman from the The Shopping Channel and more!

Where

Courthouse

57 Adelaide St East

M5C1K6

When:

Monday, April 16th, 2012 from 6-9pm

How:

Please RSVP here.

Hope to see you there!

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

There are plenty of alternative keyboards available to Android users in the Play Store. However, only a select few of these keyboard apps offer a totally creative and different mobile typing experience.

One of these rare apps is called, “Siine Keyboard.” Siine adds several interesting twists to the conventional QWERTY keyboard, including shortcuts (siines) for times, dates and commonly used words and expressions.

PM UX: Plastic Mobile Reviews the Siine Keybord App from Plastic Mobile on Vimeo.

Check out our video (Vimeo) demonstration of the Siine Keyboard App available on Android’s Play Store. Watch as Plastic Mobile walks you through the good, the bad and the ugly of this Android app.

Practice Makes Perfect

 

Using the shortcuts in the Siine Keyboard allows users to type common messages like “hey, what’s up?” with only two taps and two swipes of a single finger. In theory, this should make typing messages easier and faster. However, as a first time user, I spent more time looking for the shortcuts than actually using them!

To mediate this, I found it was helpful to take time to edit and customize existing shortcuts or download new sets of shortcuts to match your texting repertoire and messaging style. Eventually, after a little time spent practicing, I became comfortable with this new way of typing and found it to be a refreshingly different experience.

 

Time & Date to a “T”

The time and date features in Siine are brilliant. They are highly intuitive and feel quite natural to use. Unlike the vocab shortcuts, they do not require any getting used to.

The time feature makes adding times to messages easy and fun. It is definitely one of the best features Siine has to offer, but – in my opinion – the date feature is the most innovative and useful because it allows the user to check and post dates in one easy step. No longer do we have to navigate to a calendar app to find out which day the 1st of next month falls on.

Trash it Fast

Siine gives users three options for deleting text. Tapping the delete button will delete one character at a time. Holding the delete button will also delete one character at a time, but it’s slightly quicker and doesn’t require multiple taps.

The best option for trashing large chunks of text is the quick delete function. I like to describe it as a “delete button on steroids.” Basically, users can hold the delete button then swipe their finger back and forth across their smartphone screen to delete text. The faster they swipe, the faster the app deletes the text. It’s deleting with muscle!

I found that the quick delete function felt very natural to use and was surprisingly fun. It reminded me of using rubber erasers in art class.

 

 

Thumbs Up:

  • Very innovative keyboard
  • Well-designed User Interface
  • Variety of FREE extra downloadable sets
  • The time & date features are great
  • Fun and different alternative mundane keyboards
  • Also functions like standard QWERTY keyboards
  • Fun quick erase function

Thumbs Down:

  • Requires some practice in order to fully benefit from the functionality
  • Buttons are quite small in portrait mode
  • The quick word shortcuts have potential, but require some setup to be truly effective

Do you have the Siine app? tweet us @plasticmobile and give us your review!

Mobile News from VentureBeat by Sean Ludwig

Yesterday’s big news was the purchase of photo-sharing app Instagram by social media giant, Facebook, just days after finally launching an Android app and reportedly closing a $50 million second round of funding. It seems that Facebook is determined to make its mark on iOS and Android, which makes sense since Facebook is on the mark, wanting to be avaialble to everyone, every where, all the time! Go Mobile!

But, according to sources, the good news for  Instagram keeps on coming. Just a day after Facebook announced that it would acquire Instagram for $1 billion cash and stock, Instagram’s new Android app has attracted 5 million downloads in just six days.

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…

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