Top App News Stories of 2016

By on December 15, 2016

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As the calendar turns towards 2017 (We’re ready for ya 2017!), we look back on the year that was in 2016. While 2016 will probably be remembered for Trump, Brexit, Stranger Things, Prince and Bowie (there was also an Olympics in there as well), for us it was the innovations in the mobile world that were most talked about around our offices.

1)Pokémon Go Sets the World Ablaze
Pokémania ran amuck in 2016 with the return of everyone’s favourite Japanese Pocket Monsters. Even with a multitude of bugs, missing features, and staggered international releases, Pokémon Go, powered its way to the most first-week downloads in Apple App store history–and hit a ridiculous 50 million downloads in just 19 days.

While there may have been some detractors who turned their nose at the game, there is no denying that the game helped bring Augmented Reality to consumers en masse. Across the globe, wannabe Ash Ketchums took to the streets, phone in hand, to try and be the best–like noone ever was. The craze has understandably died down, but with a suite of new features and capabilities, Pokémon Go looks like it will be around for a while. Even if the app’s installs and daily active users begins to dwindle, it has created a whole new generation of Pokemasters looking to satiate their Pokéfever with cards, games and collectables–meaning big business for The Pokémon Company.

2)Snap Inc’s Group Feature is a Real “Spectacle”
Everyone’s favourite ephemeral ghost made a big splash in 2016 by releasing “Spectacles” a pseduo, yet fashion forward (depends on whom you ask), update of Google Glass. Released in early November, via yellow “Snapbot” vending machines placed across the US, these video integrated sunglasses allow their wearers the opportunity to upload what they see directly to Snapchat (in 10 second increments). Just as Pokémon Go brought AR helped make people more comfortable with AR, Spectacles hopes to make people more comfortable with a wearable camera that is “always on” (which is what caused the downfall of Google Glass).

However, this may have been Snap Inc’s biggest move in terms of fanfare for 2016, but in terms of impact, the ability to chat and snap in groups reigns supreme. Since the beginning of Snapchat, users have been asking for the ability to place their contacts in groups (of up to 16 people), and the time has finally come. What this means for Snap, is that users now have a greater reason to stay in the app, rather than to leave it and head to another chat based app (WhatsApp, Facebook Messgenger, iMessage, etc.) to talk to groups. With this change, they hope to increase the average daily time spent in app, increasing the amount of money they can charge advertisers.

3)The Increase of Fake News Stories on Facebook and Twitter
Amidst the US election this year, one of the major news stories to arise was ironically the prevalence of fake news stories intended to misinform those who read it. Nowhere was this more noticeable–or unnoticeable–than on Facebook and Twitter. Like-it-or-not, social media is where the majority of people obtain their news from, making us susceptible to the spreading of falsified and fictional news stories through sharing. While news outlets hold themselves to a higher standard, the “unfiltered” nature of social media makes them ripe for sabotage.

Feeling the backlash from the public on the topic, Facebook has recently come out with it’s plan to combat the proliferation of false news stories. The social network giant will use its software to search for fake news, and make it easier for users to report their own, and will use a consortium of journalists to verify the flagged articles. These articles will then get a disputed banner, and will prompt users who want to share it that they are sure they want to share it. Will this work? We aren’t sure. But if it does, you can always head over to The Onion for all your fake news needs.

Battle

Our President and COO Melody Adhami recently shared her expertise with Mobile Marketer’s  digital publication regarding Yahoo and how it is on it’s way to become the third largest mobile ad platform, and surpass Twitter. Data from eMarketer suggests that Yahoo’s new mobile ad business strategy may be paying off, Twitter is predicted to have 4.19 percent share of the mobile advertising market by 2016. The two platforms are very different in terms of audience and offerings; Yahoo’s mobile ad products include display, and native search whereas Twitter only offers native ad opportunities.

Twitter and Yahoo provide advertisers with vastly different opportunities for marketers planning their ad spend. “I would consider Yahoo to be a mass-media player with a broader reach of audience, and Twitter to be more of a niche player in the media space, the opportunities each company presents is vastly different. Marketers can expect to reach more users through Yahoo, but can expect more engagement from Twitter users.” Says Melody Adhami President and COO of Plastic Mobile.

Yahoo has been around from the early days of the internet, but has had a bit of a struggle remaining relevant, especially with the mobile space which has quickly taken off in the recent past. Yahoo’s biggest competitive advantage in the mobile space is it’s strong focus on digital content, this is due in part to the increasing popularity and convenience of mobile.

Although Twitter is much younger than Yahoo, it has been a mobile-first company since it burst onto the scene in 2006. It’s youth has also been a factor in the length and strength of the brand’s relationship with its users. “I think we can expect to see innovation from Twitter that will likely challenge the top 3 contenders sooner than later,” adds Melody Adhami. Which seems to be likely as Twitter has put a specific focus on building its mobile ad business.

#musicTwitter #Music is the latest offering from the folks at Twitter, and this app is proving to be kind of a big deal.

#Music lets you find the music you love and listen to it through iTunes, Spotify or rdio

First off, the UI puts Twitter to shame. It’s clear they have taken notes and learned lessons from Twitter for iOS and Android and applied them to #Music. After just a few minutes with the app you will be familiar with the features and how to navigate your way around.

With so much music out there, finding anything that’s any good can be a big issue. What Twitter is really pushing with #Music is the discovery element, to help people fall in love with bands they’ve never heard of. You can look at what’s popular, what’s up and coming, or what’s recommended based on what bands you follow on Twitter. For example, if you’re really digging the Top 40’s, then the “popular” tab is for you. It’s where you’ll find your Justins (Timberlake and Bieber), Snoop Lion and Alicia Keys.

In the “emerging” tab are the bands generating the most buzz on Twitter. It’s not clear exactly how this tab works since you would think the most popular bands are also generating the most buzz, but maybe the lists are mutually exclusive or something. This tab has some hidden gems, but it can be VERY hit or miss.

The real tab you will be spending the most time in is the suggested tab. #Music looks at what bands you are following on twitter, what bands those bands are following and cranks out some bands it thinks you’ll like.

Does it work? Well we plugged in a couple of our favourites and impressively it popped out a few more or our favourites. Even more impressively after spending some time with the app, it recommend several bands we had never heard of, but really enjoyed. This is the kind of discoverability Twitter is aiming for with #Music and makes the app well worth downloading

Have you tried the new Twitter #Music app? Let us know on the old Twitter tweeting app @PlasticMobile

Best Apps of SXSW

By on March 18, 2013

SXSW

South by Southwest is the biggest, most important digital conference in the world. IT’S ACTUALLY AMAZING.

It’s also a launching pad for some pretty great apps. This years edition wrapped up last week to some mixed reviews and no true stand-out show stopper. However, we have picked out a handful of apps that caught our eye.

Thread for Android takes caller ID and makes it amazing. Thread will pull information from all your social networks about your caller for you to see before you answer a call. Don’t know why this person is calling? Thread will show you their recent Tweets, status updates and text exchanges with you to give you a snapshot of where you left off. It’s only available on Android right now, but something this useful (and that completely replaces and improves upon an existing phone function most people pay for) should take off in no time.

Hater is a social network for Internet trolls. If you have spent any time in the comments section of Youtube, you know the internet can be a dark and scary place full of, well, hate. Hater caters to those that want to complain, gripe, cry, cuss, dis and diminish. It takes Facebook’s “Like” and turns it on its head. Although it’s questionable if we should really be creating more space online for people to be negative, Hater is an interesting concept that could prove to be incredibly popular.

Finally, Hinge will help you find a date. Internet dating is big business, so it was only a matter of time before it invaded our phones. Hinge looks at friends of friends on social networks and gives you a handful of profiles to rate. They have pictures and basic details, nothing too extensive. If you rate somebody highly, you will show up on their feed. If they rate you highly Hinge introduces you through email. It’s very simple and only introduces you to people you already have a connection to. It’s only available in Houston right now, but if it works it could only be a few months before that cute co-worker or classmate is finally going on a date with you.

Did you see anything that caught your eye at SXSW? Let us know on Twitter @plasticmobile

The Google Maps Comeback

By on December 14, 2012

After millions of angry Tweets, Samsung guerrilla marketing and government issued warnings, Google Maps is back on iOS devices (hurrah!).

It’s still difficult for us to face the fact that even Apple can mess up sometimes. Of course, Apple’s geographical mapping blunder isn’t the WORST thing that could happen, we can’t help but wonder about the million dollar question beckoning from beyond the grave: would Steve Jobs have let this happen?

We will never know so enough of these ponderings! Let’s just be thankful that Google and Apple have worked it out this round. Now quit getting lost and download this thing already!

BW: A Mobile Election

By on November 07, 2012

Late last night Barack Obama was re-elected as President of the United States, coming out of the fierce race that is now being called “the Twitter Election.” The moniker is apt for this election, as voters took to their mobile devices and social media channels to engage with politicians and the voting process.

During the electoral frenzy, voters used their smartphones to engage with Facebook and Twitter in at polling stations on Facebook and hordes took to Twitter to support their candidates and advise others to get out and vote.

But this kind of mobile social media use does not only highlight the voting spirit of the American people. It also helps us understand voter demographics. Facebook hosted a page on it’s “Stories” platform that encouraged voters to “Check In” at their polling station and displayed Facebook voter’s demographics on its interactive mapping page.

The presence of the election on Facebook via check ins and status updates and the massive response on Twitter postings rallying for Obama or Romney and encouraging voting was simply put: massive. In fact, Obama’s victory tweet, “Four more years,” garnered the most re-tweets in twitter history and the picture below of the President and First Lady hugging is now the most “liked” photo on Facebook to date. Initiatives from candidates to have a mobile and social media presence and the overwhelming response from the public to take to these platforms showcases just how important new mobile technologies are. Not only do they advertise candidates and get people to vote, but mobile connectivity also promotes a national voting collective and brings the nation together. Yay Mobile!

Twitter also proved itself as a crucial news source for the election. In many cases, major news outlets tweeted results from states instantaneously, and many people found out whether the Democrats or the Republicans had won states and the entire election itself on Twitter before the news hit TV.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, mobile devices also allowed American citizens to text to find polling stations and, in the most affected parts of New Jersey, residents could even vote by texting. Wow.

We think that this mobile election will set a precedence with elections all over the globe.

Did you make your voice heard with mobile and social media during this election? Let us know what you think by writing a comment or tweeting @plasticmobile.

Plastic Mobile is Nominated in the Category of Business Growth

Wow! We are so honoured to have been nominated for such a prestigious award in our home town of Toronto, Canada!

Nominated under the category of “Business Growth,” the team here at Plastic Mobile all have our fingers (and toes) crossed that we hear our name announced on November 15th at the Toronto Congress Centre.

Stay tuned to @plasticmobile to hear if we made the final cut!

Entertainment Weekly magazine released a special version of their magazine in a limited edition. The special part? They included a screen showing live tweets! So the question from a developer’s perspective is (obviously), what technology did they include in their magazine to make this happen? Formerly one of those kids who disassembled things to understand how they work, I was surprised and excited to see that they used a whole smartphone (almost) to achieve this. Take a look here if you want to have more details about it.

In other news, March 2013 is when we will FINALLY be able to control our house using only our smartphones. Why this specific month? Because two interesting products will be released just before then. The first is called Lockitron and it allows you to lock / unlock doors in your house via a mobile app. Amazing. It boasts a few other cool features, like a notification on your phone if someone is knocking on your door, or trying to get in. The second amazing product is called LIFX, and it will allow you to control lights in your house through your smartphone, but also change their colour depending on your mood thanks to the wonders of LED.
That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for more cool news from the Developer’s Corner next week.

PM UX: Songza

By on October 02, 2012

If you’re the type of person who enjoys listening to music throughout your day, at all times, while doing, well,  just about anything, then you have probably at some point or another used a music streaming app.

These apps offer large selections of music that span many genres. Much more music than any one person can store on their iPhone. Some of these apps require users to cough up monthly or yearly service fees, while others are absolutely free of charge, meaning you just have to put up with ads.

One of these free apps has be around for just about a year and has been building an impressive user base – and, more importantly, has retained more than half of those users!

Songza is special because it not only removes the work of creating playlists, but it also makes browsing and deciding what to listen to surprisingly quick and easy. This is especially so for those times when you have no idea which artist or song you want to listen to.

To get started, Songza users need to sign up for the service, but the Facebook login makes the process very quick and easy. Once signed in, users are presented with the app’s core feature, dubbed “Concierge.” This is where all the magic happens.

Based on the time and day, Songza offers users six possible categories to choose from. Users then select the category that best matches what they are doing or how the feel at that moment.  Some of these categories are very specific, while others are fairly generic, making it very likely that you will find an option that works for you.

After selecting a category, users are then presented with a list of six recommended genres to choose from. Once they select a genre, users must then choose one of three curated playlists matching their previous selections.

That’s it! In three easy steps users have a whole playlist to listen to. You can also browse playlists through featured, trending and all-time best lists, or by categories such as genres, activities, moods, decades and a few others. There is even a section called “My Playlists,” which users can see a list of playlists that they have listened to in the past.

I really like the Songza’s way of browsing, as I find it often introduces me to new songs I haven’t heard before, or re-introduces me to songs I haven’t heard in a while.

I found Songza to be simple and easy to use for the most part, but I feel the navigation could be better.  I’m not sure exactly why, but I found that navigating between the player, and the rest of the app didn’t feel intuitive at first.

Overall, Songza is worth checking out. It’s not the best looking app or the most intuitive to use, but the functionality of the Concierge alone makes the app quite special.

It also, doesn’t hurt that the app is free to download and also free of service fees. You will have to put up with some ads, but luckily they are not those overly obtrusive audio ads that interrupt the music.

Have you used Songza? Love it? Hate it? Totally ambivalent? Tell us! @plasticmobile.

Yesterday, Twitter unveiled its new app for the iPad. A Twitter redesign should be about helping users post hilarious status updates or share what they had for dinner. But in reality, Twitter’s new app is all business.

At our weekly Bagel Wednesday meeting, there were a number of comments made on this latest design effort.

Why?

Well, the app is very different than its earlier iPad versions, it is very similar to its sister iPhone app. Twitter’s iPad update features additions like a header on profile pages and a live-stream feed layout. While these designs are new for Twitter, they seem a little familiar. In fact, you might have seen them on Facebook Timeline.

Another added feature is Photostream, which allows users to browse photos easily by tapping on a photo and swiping left or right through the rest of their posted photos. While it’s a breeze to tap through photos, tapping through the rest of the interface is labourious and overcomplicated. Pinching gestures have been eliminated and the user has to tap through to open and close a number of windows. Just one tap won’t get you to a profile anymore – expand the tweet and tap again. The app has also eliminated the ability to browse the web while looking at the Twitter timeline and lists are hard to access.

Although the platform update does share UI with the rest of the Twitter app family, it seems like Twitter has taken away a lot of functions from the user. So what is improved by this update? Twitter’s autonomy.

In recent months the social media giant has been cutting ties with third party image uploaders and information sharing or support sites like Twitpic, Facebook and Tweetbot. Developing apps for and sharing information with Twitter has almost all been completely shut out. Amidst these moves, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was quoted calling Facebook an “enemy,” referring to the fact that they are pitted against each other as top dog in the social media playground. But Twitter isn’t being a bully – it’s just being smart.

This year Twitter earned $132m in mobile ads, beating out Facebook who raked in only $73.9m. For both companies, survival is based on ad sales and working with small screens presents challenges on that front. By creating an app that is similar to other social media sites, it helps to prevent Tweeters from using competing apps and Twitter can declare social-media sovereignty, advertising space and the revenue.

This redesign isn’t about the user as much as it’s about Twitter. While the update is not so great for us it may be worth compromising for. Eliminating the competition and gaining revenue will allow Twitter to improve for us in the long run. Let the battle begin.

What do you think of the new app? Let us know @plasticmobile.

Plastic Mobile Makes the MEA Finalist List – x2

The Mobile Excellence Awards, now in its fifth year, reveals  the 2012 finalists – and Plastic has not one but TWO nominations.

See a full list of finalists here.

MEA winners will be announced and honoured at the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey at Hollywood conference, Digital Hollywood, on October 17 in Marina Del Rey.

We’re confident our AIR MILES or Pizza Pizza mobile marvels will come out on top!

Are you as excited as we are? Tweet us @plasticmobile.

We got a book in the mail! And not just any book, one that we’re in!

Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Centre of your Business, published by global research firm, Forrester, exemplifies our work with Pizza Pizza on pages 110-112 of the design chapter. Go plastic!

The book, authored by two of Forretser’s leading researchers, talks about how putting the customer (or user) first, can have a tremendously positive impact on your business model.

This user first perspective is something that Plastic holds near and dear to its heart – it’s basically our mantra. We not only adhere to it with our internal work, but try to spread the good word about the importance of creating with the user or customer in mind.

Plastic’s President and COO, Melody Adhami, is our most passionate ambassador of UX, and frequently speaks about its importance. For example, at the Mobile Shopping Spring Summit, she talked to a riveted audience about how the ost important stakeholder in any mobile initiative is the user, as noted in this Mobile Marketer article.

The book is avilable for purchase on amazon.com and has received some fantastic press to date.

Have you read the book? Let us know what you think @plasticmobile.com

New Craigslist Android App

A while back, we looked at this app for our Facebook UX Discovery Lab. Since then, we have had the opportunity to use it several times, and thought we should continue to spread the good word through our UX Blog Post.

We love the usefulness of Craigslist. In fact, it has come in handy a few times for office use. That’s why when we heard that they had created a new app for Android, we just had to try it out. Our Facebook Discovery Lab team was the first to give it a go and, if you read the review, they thought it was a hit.

CraigsList Mobile, by YYH Creative, is an excellent application that puts the (too) many other Craigslist apps on the market in their place.

The UI is excellent – clean and un-cluttered – and it boasts a few very useful features, such as in-app sharing, email, push notifications and a simple browsing option. Posts can be made from within the app and replying to a post is a straightforward and seamless experience.

Something that did irk our Discovery Lab team, however, was that the new Android app is now without one of their favourite features; “Setting Notifications,” which allows users to receive reminders on new postings under a certain criteria. This feature was a fave because it made finding that new great vanity or bike very easy. Hopefully it will make a comeback in the next update.

Have a look at this app and let us know what you think @plasticmobile.

PM UX: 360 Panorama Photos

By on August 07, 2012

A while back we took a look at a fun photography app called Photosynth. We talked about how it allowed users create some pretty cool panoramic images that are a lot more interesting than your regular run-of-the-mill photo.

What I liked most about Photosynth, is how easy it is to use and how quickly anyone can create, view and share panoramic photos. We decide that the app offered a very simple and smooth experience.

However, I recently came across another app that might be able to give Photosynth a run for its money. This new app offers very similar functionality and a comparable overall experience. Introducing 360 Panorama.

360 Panorama is a free iPhone app that is currently sitting in the #6 spot for free apps in the Canadian App Store. The app sports an aesthetically pleasing design, intuitive UI and easy-to-use functionality. It has all of the elements I enjoyed in Photosynth, but is slightly faster and also offers a few additional features worth checking out.

In my opinion, the most standout feature was the gyroscopic viewing option, which allows users to view and scan images just by tilting and turning their phones. I found this added an element of interactivity that made the viewing of panoramas much more fun and exciting for the user.

By default, users view their panoramas much like they do using Photosynth. They tap, hold and move images to scroll from one end of the picture to the other.

However, while viewing a panorama, users can tap the circular icon near the bottom of the screen to enable gyroscopic viewing, which was really cool because it can bring a photo to life, giving that “I’m actually there” feeling. So, if I wanted to see what was to the right in the image, I would turn to the right and it would appear in the screen of my iPhone. Super cool.

Something else I quickly noticed in 360 Panorama was the speed at which images are rendered. The stitching of individual shots is noticeably faster than that of Photosynth. This speed will definetly be appreciated by users, as we all know how annoying it is to have to wait for apps to do their thing.

Another feature that users will appreciate is the ability to share panoramas via Twitter, which was one feature that was noticeably missing in Photosynth. Other sharing options include Facebook, email and exporting to a Camera Roll. All sharing functions are simple and can be done in a few quick taps.

While 360 Panorama does offer some sharing, it is still missing options such as Flickr or Tumblr, which seem to be intuitive share options to me.

All that great stuff about 360 Panorama being said, I still haven’t decide which app I like the best. The reason being that I encountered some significant limitations while creating a panoramic image using 360 Panorama.

The first thing I noticed was that the vertical range I could capture was pretty restricted. While I could pan and capture an entire 360 degrees around me on a horizontal axis, I could not do the same looking up or down? What about the stars and the earth, 360 Panorama?

Photosynth on the other hand, can capture all angles. So if a user wants to (and has some serious time on their hands), they could potentially create a full spherical panorama.

Overall, the 360 Panorama was fun to use and play around with and, in the end, it all comes down to preference. Both apps do basically the same thing. You can download both apps for free, so try them out and decide for yourself: Photosynth or 360 Panorama? Let us know on Twitter @plasticmobile.

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.

Last week at Google I/O 2012, it was announced that Chrome, the popular internet browser, was coming to iOS. Hours later, it was available in the App Store for all iOS devices.

I’ve been using it for the last few days and have found it to be a very easy transition from Safari on my iPhone – though, I should mention that I use Chrome daily as my go-to browser on my Mac. In fact, with the exception of a few minor differences, the iOS version doesn’t look or feel much different.

Google Chrome on the iPhone

Upon launching the app, I was first greeted with a screen displaying the Google Chrome Terms of Service that I had to agree to before I could continue any further.

Once the formalities were out of the way, I was given given the option of signing in using my email address and password or continue without doing so.

I chose to sign in, as doing so gave me access to my open tabs, and bookmarks from my laptop. I found this feature to be very useful, as it allows for users to grab their phones and pick up right where they left off on their computer. Meaning that, in a sense, the Chrome application for iOS bridges the gap between the desktop and our mobile devices. Finally!

To access bookmarks and open tabs that exist on other devices, users select the corresponding tab near the bottom of the screen while in a new tab. Alternatively, they can tap the menu icon to the right of the address field and select the “Other Devices” option.

Undercover Chrome

Another thing I like about Chrome is something called “incognito mode,” which is basically the equivalent to Safari’s private browsing. The main difference between the two is that Chrome makes switching between regular and incognito browsing easy and quick, while Safari users are forced to navigate away from the browser and make the change in Settings.

To enter incognito mode, users tap on the menu icon next to the address bar and select “New Incognito Tab.” This opens a new tab where users can browse without having their browsing history, searches and cookies saved.

Incognito tabs have a dark grey menu bar at the top of the screen, while regular tabs are light grey. This colour coding helps users keep track of which tabs are incognito and which are not. I really appreciated this feature since you’re probably broswing a la incognito for a reason, so confusing the two could result in bad news.

For me, it’s the simplicity of Chrome that makes it a good browser. Unlike Safari, which has two separate fields for URLs and searches, Chrome has one universal text field for both. Because Chrome can detect what it is you are trying to do, with the Google guess, there is no need for two separate fields. Chrome will either navigate to your desired site or provide Google search results for your query.

Users can also speak to Chrome to tell it where to go or what to search. Just by tapping a small microphone icon in the far right of the URL/search field, then dictating either a URL or keywords, Chrome will produce your results just like that.

Make the switch?

Overall, I enjoyed Chrome and believe it to be a fairly good alternative to Safari. Particularly for users who are already using it on their desktops.

But in the end, it ultimately comes down to preference. Users know what they value and what they like. For example, it has been reported that Chrome is the slower of the two browsers, making Safari a better choice for those who value speed. However, I’m sure any difference in page loading times is minimal, as I did not even notice it.

The biggest problem with Chrome for iOS is that there is no way to set is as the default browser, which means that links from messages, emails and other apps will continue to be opened in Safari. Leaving Chrome secondary browser. Boo.

What do you think of the Chrome app? Love it? Hate it? Tweet us @plasticmobile and share your thoughts.

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

The Smashing Cartoons by Smashing Magazine

In my original review of Clear, I noted that I really enjoyed its minimalistic gesture based function and how it makes task management simple, easy and even a little fun.

I am still a big fan of Clear and continue to use it today because of its unique approach to task management. If you recall, the simplified feature set and absence of conventional buttons or navigational menus, like back or home buttons, allow users to navigate through the various sections of the app using touch and multi-touch gestures, which is pretty fun.

But I digress, and I’m sure by now you’re wondering why I’m bringing up Clear again. The answer is an app I recently came across called Well Done. The image on the left is Well Done, and the image on the right is Clear. Is anyone else seeing double?

Mobile Cloning

I discovered Well Done a few days ago while doing some reading on Flipboard (my #1 go-to news app). As I was browsing, I saw an image of the above left app icon that instantly grabbed my attention because of its uncanny resemblance to Clear.

I was curious to know more, so I started reading. I quickly learned that Well Done was a Clear “copycat,” and that the two apps have much more in common than just similar icons.

At that point, I had to see the app for myself and I can only describe what I found as a hilariously blatant knockoff. In fact, absolutely no effort was put into trying to hide the fact that Well Done is a total rip-off of Clear. Everything, including the UI and the gesture controls, are exactly the same!

WELL DONE

CLEAR

WELL DONE

CLEAR

As you can see from these images, all the various navigational levels share extremely similar design elements. Even the colour-coding, which represents the importance of each individual item on the list, has been mimicked.

From the below screenshots, you can see how both apps allow users to check-off items on their lists by swiping to the right, and remove items by swiping to the left. Even the visual feedback cues given to users after performing those actions are very similar.

WELL DONE

CLEAR

WELL DONE

CLEAR

No Competition

 

Unfortunately, not only were the folks who created Well Done un-original, but they’re attempt just didn’t measure up. The Well Done experience feels a lot less polished and somewhat unrefined. There were a few things that I think could have been done (or at least copied) better.

First, Well Done only allows users to have one to-do list, while Clear users can create multiple lists. Not having the ability to create more than one list means having to combine different types of tasks and list. Personally, I’d rather not have work related tasks hidden between items in my grocery list.

I noticed another issue while creating new items in Well Done. The process felt slower and even more tedious when compared to that of Clear. This is because Clear users can just pull down on their list at any time to create new items, while Well Done users have the extra step of tapping a “done” button between typing in each item.

Last, I noticed that Well Done had a lot of non-English content for an app being sold in the Canadian App Store. It didn’t make for a good experience to not know what I was looking at. To see what I mean, try tapping Feedback, More or Share in the top-level navigation.

Bang for your Buck

 

Even though I wasn’t very impressed with Well Done, I should point out that it is selling at a third of Clear’s price, making it the cheaper alternative. Moreover, it offers a couple of additional features not found in Clear. Well Done users keep their to-do lists in the iCloud, allowing them to sync lists on multiple devices and/or retrieve lists after losing a device. The app also gives users the ability to set up reminders and receive notifications for time sensitive tasks or items on their to-do lists. Try out Well Done and let us know what you think @plasticmobile.

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!

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