Does your business need an app?

About 10 to 15 years ago, it seemed that every company needed a website. A few years later, the growing popularity of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn companies needed to have a presence of those sites as well. Currently nearly every one of your clients has a smartphone using some sort mobile app. For many businesses, having a business app on a smartphone is more and more a necessity. Which begs the question; does your business need an app?


Branding.

Undoubtedly branding is possibly the biggest reason for your business to have an app. Not simply a rehash of your web site but an app that reinforces your brand and your company’s promise. More and more loyal customers are accessing information via a mobile device. They look of your information on web searches, or on an app that aggregates and lists business services; apps such as, Yelp, Apple Maps and Google Maps. Whether you know it or not your customers may be creating reviews  and providing information to future clients through these social network aware apps. Without your knowledge your brand could also be suffering from unfavorable reviews.  Worse it could lose favor through bad online experience for a site that doesn’t fit well on to a smartphone.

By creating your own app you have the opportunity to control your own brand and make sure your marketing message is clear. An app gives you the opportunity to provide a more compelling experience to you clients. Your products and services wouldn’t escape your potential clients notice. It is your opportunity to curate your future clients impression of your brand.


Client Services

Creating a pleasant client experience through an app is a way to provide customer information, and build client loyalty. Many industries have come to create apps to provide extended services to clients. Built in services like Apple’s Passbook allowed Airlines, Movie theatres, Concert promoters to provide ticketing services through easy access for smartphone. Passbook and similar services can also be used to integrate client loyalty rewards.

Starbucks introduced an app that allows users to load up cash online and pay for services by flashing their smart phone. Pizza and fast food companies enable users to build and place orders through an app. Apps and services like Über, have turned the taxi and private car industries on their ear. By allowing taxi cabs and black cars with spare time to respond  to clients and get fares that would otherwise go unused. Cab drivers love it because they know they are going to paid and passengers feel secure as drivers are rated and known by name.

Positive customer engagement though these types of connections are create for retaining existing customer and building relationships with new clients.

Business Process

Every business has some process or industry knowledge that can be transformed into a compelling app. These processes can be developed and even streamlined through the ubiquity of smart phones. Enabling clients to make informed decisions can actually help businesses. The previous example, Über, enables cabs to get fares without centralized dispatch services – cutting out the middle man, so to speak. Actually the Über becomes the middle man. A smart app can enable and empower field agents by giving them tools to use away from the office. Insurance agents and instantly provide client quotes. Service personnel can be dispatched based on knowledge provided through look ups on a smartphone app. There are many new tie-ins to hardware that can report to or be controlled by mobile apps, to expand your business offerings.

Mobile apps can enable staff to monitor services, manage business process and customer support. Tying in back end systems, gives your front line staff access to marketing information, customer support information and other resources. Field agents can download the latest updates on your products and services. They can also create work orders and provide timely service to your clients and prospects. It can be a simple as what’s currently in your restaurant’s wine cellar or as complex as creating an insurance quote.

Getting Feedback

Clearly another benefit is getting feedback from your customers. Knowing how your business is perceived in the market is invaluable to any business. Providing a form or simple buttons could ask the client to provide a review, a star rating or add a fee suggestions. Thanking a client for positive or negative feedback goes a long way. Rewarding a client for there efforts adds kudos to your business. Often new clients are gain through references from past clients.

An app that connects to a back-end service can also provide some metrics about your business. Recently this author was involved in apps that provided localized content. Surprisingly the apps were far better received in European and Asian markets. Rather than relying on online store downloads (the equivalent to measuring a web site’s page hits) the apps provide insights that redirect future marketing efforts. Stories abound on successful companies who were surprised to find that their clients weren’t who they expected. The successful brands adapted to new found knowledge and redirected their product offerings to their new fans.

Getting Started

If you think your ready to get started creating an app, there are a few approaches you can take. Technologies seem to run in 10 year cycles, so that puts us near the middle age of native app development. If you’re the do it yourself type, you can read some books, such as the Big Nerd Ranch Guide – 4th edition for iOS, or their new Android Programming guide. They also offer one week long courses in the US and Europe. This author also teaches iOS courses at Witz Education in Toronto. There are also some great conferences you can attend; Apple’s WWDC, iOS Tech Talks, 360iDev, CocoaConf among many others. They cover the how to’s and the business of apps and app publishing.

There are also plenty of independent development companies who can consult on the viability of your app and even lend their skills to your pursuit of an app.  Look for a local chapter of Cocoaheads, or on Meetup. The bottom line is that the resources are there for you to get started.

 

2life – New & Notable in at least 19 countries

 

2life app is trending and already being featured in New & Notable in at least 8 App Stores world wide; France, Germany, Italy (#1), Spain, Switzerland (Editor’s Choice), Austria, United Kingdom and Brazil.

Update: As of 5PM  we have reached top 100 in 9 countries on iPhone and top 100 in 10 countries on iPad

Update: as of 2:00 AM 2life is at number 1 in Guatemala, in top 100 in 19 countries on iPhone and top 100 in 16 countries on iPad

2life – what have I been going on about…

Well fingers crossed, we have just submitted our latest app to Apple’s iOS platform. It is called 2life and it is buy 2 For Life Media. It’s an app designed to enhance your most intimate relationship. You know, the one with the guys in your weekend rock band…. no wait! That’s not right. I mean your most intimate relationship, with your gal, or guy. A tool to help you cut through the clutter of social media and to give you one place to share, chat, and jot down ideas.

We’ve spent the past year working on it, most intensely in the last 3 months… and we’re seen team members come and go through out the process. It has a very clean design, thanks to, 2’s creative director, Lisa Walker’s inspired design (you might think that Apple copied her work!) An thanks to the fanatical devotion of the rest of the 2 For Life Media’s team – incredible attention to detail, diligent copywriting and proofing, we’ve come up with an app with broad appeal. We have even spent the better part of the last two months translating the app into 14 languages – to give it a worldwide audience.

Of course it’s a universal app, so it can be run on your iPhone, iPod and/or your iPad. It’s quick and responsive and all of your intimate secrets are protected with In-App protection, secure transmission and encryption. Diane, Gerry, Neil, Karen, Lisa, Kate, Aimee, Charles, Mark and myself are sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it. (Shout outs to contributors Alec, Iain and Owen – for  their parts in the endeavour. As well, to the beta testers and friends and family.)

You can find out more about the app in the meantime at 2life.io and it will soon be available (July 3, 2013) on the App Store appstore.com/2life

Cool iPhone notification trick

Here’s a cool trick.

You may know this. If you get a notification when your iPhone is locked  and you unlock the phone, it will open to the application that sent the notice.

The cool trick is if you’ve received many notices while your phone is locked, you can swipe the app icon next to the notice. The iPhone will unlock The app will open when the phone unlocks.

Device Tracker bug in iOS 6 – fixed

We have just been informed of a bug in iOS 6. Some users have reported that importing data records seems to crash the app.

There was a bug which was a result of adding Location grouping. In version 1.40 when a user edits a record or adds a photo and then the “back” or “Device List” button, the list of devices updates incorrectly and hides the record. The fix has been uploaded to Apple in version 1.41 (it should be available around November 4, 2012.)

 

Geese Squad For iPhone and iPad Is Temporarily Available For Free (Normally $0.99)

Play Geese SquadOur newest is available on the App Store. To coincide with our press release we’ve  made the app free for the weekend. Spread the word.

#Honk, if your playing it.

Wintertime is approaching, eh? So it is time for the Canadian Geese to start their migration south. Canada’s favorite goose has to get ready to fly in formation. So the older birds teach the younger birds about the benefits of flying in the ‘V’ formation. To gain speed and lift, the birds take turns leading the flock. The ‘V’ formation also allows geese to rest in flight while the lead bird takes on the strain.

You are the lead bird guiding your flock to their winter home in the south. Help the geese fly in formation, collect coins and avoid obstacles.