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Easter Egg Fun Time From Google

As we enter Easter weekend, it’s the perfect time to go on an Easter Egg hunt! Luckily for you, there are plenty of journalists doing your hunting for you. Mashable’s Yohana Desta takes a look at some of the cooler hidden gems we’ve seen around the interwebs, focusing on “8 Google Easter Eggs Worth the Extra Peep.”

Click Here to see the Easter Eggs and we’ll be back Monday with more app analytics news you can use!googlehunger

Number of Apps Crawled

Number of Reviews Crawled

Average Applause Score

Create a High Quality App by Avoiding These 10 Mistakes

mobile_apps2As you probably know by now, app quality is more important than ever. The competition is just a few clicks or swipes away and a poor experience is sure to lead to negative app store reviews. With over one million apps in the both the Google Play and Apple app stores, it is essential that your app delights your users from day one. The App Quality Alliance has compiled a list for app developers of 10 common mistakes to avoid that could impact their app’s reputation.

1. User interface inconsistency: 
Make sure menu options, button labels, ‘soft keys’, menus etc. are consistent and clear. For many people this can just be viewed as simply an irritation but it can also be confusing to the non tech savvy user and impact the user experience, leading to negative app reviews.

2. Lack of clarity of graphics and text
Make sure that all the text is readable, clear and not cut off by the edged of the screen or overlapping other screen items.

3. App browsing confusion: 
Although the navigation through the app is obvious if you’ve been working on it for weeks or months, and are a frequent user of apps, not everyone else may find it so clear. As apps have moved further into the mainstream consumers with very little technology understanding are using them and even the smallest navigation challenges can drive them away

4. Language inconsistency and spelling errors: 
If you support multiple languages, make sure that it is consistent and you don’t have the odd label in English hidden away… and use a spell checker!

5. Privacy policy omission
: Privacy and use of data is a hot topic for consumers and while they may not understand the complexities behind it they want to be assured that their privacy is taken seriously. Apps that don’t take heed of this face major backlash, and we’ve seen this with even the most high profile developers. Always have a clear privacy policy in the app that lets users know what their data is being used for and how they are being protected.

6. Hidden features:
 Doing stuff behind the scenes without letting the user know will never win you any favours, even if your intentions are good. The app stores are fast to crack down on any apps that are doing this, publicly shaming them no matter if there was no malice intended.

7. App crashing: 
You would be surprised how may apps can be made to crash when even simple things happen on the device. Memory cards, attachments and keyboards are common causes. Smartphones do more for their users than ever before so apps needs to function in an environment where many other apps and device features are running at the same time, often over long periods.

8. Help is not there: 
While it is obvious to some, other people like to read help information and so providing help that is easy to find is a must.

9. Network connection: Lack of notification. Again, many people don’t test the phone dropping out of network coverage. If you miss it and the app dies when the connection drops, the user ends up re-booting their device. With new networks and more handovers between technologies, this continues to be a hot topic.

10. Screen orientation distortion
: Surely everyone checks this one? No, sadly not. Distorted images when changing from portrait to landscape and vice-versa still manages to hit our top ten simple errors that let apps down.

This list serves a great reminder to keep a pulse on how users really feel about your app. Keep an eye on your Applause score to make sure your app is in your user’s good graces.

Winning Android Security Apps in the Wake of “Virus Shield”

virus_shieldIn the wake of a fake security app that was pulled from the Top Charts of Google Play, some consumers are scrambling for a trusted security app alternative for their Android devices.

The fake security app, called “Virus Shield” that sold for $3.99, was recently exposed to do nothing more than change its icon when pressed to make it seem active to customers. The app’s 17-year old developer called it a “foolish mistake” by his company – and we’re not making this up – Deviant Solutions.

Ever the trusted adviser on all things related to app quality, we thought we’d take this opportunity to highlight the highest-rated security apps for Android devices through our mobile app analytics tool, Applause Analytics.

The following is a list of the highest-rated Android apps that have received at least 10,000 ratings and reviews from actual users after simply searching “security” in Applause Analytics. The list includes the respective app’s Applause Score (100 is phenomenally good; zero is . . . not) and the number of ratings and reviews in Google Play.

Use this list generated by Applause Analytics as a starting point in your search for high-quality security apps for your Android devices. App quality doesn’t discriminate by industry, region or company size but rather by the delightful experiences they may or may not provide users.

Consider turning to a mobile analytics tool like Applause Analytics, that crawls every rating and review from the top app stores and distills the noise into actionable intelligence, to drive quicker and more informed decisions – both from a business and end user perspective.

For Emerging Markets, Mobile is the Internet

smartphonesWe know that companies without a mobile presence are missing out on a big market – but just how big is that opportunity they are letting slip away?

There are many US companies that still haven’t launched a mobile strategy, and their days may be limited. As Alex Oxenford, in Recode, explains that many emerging markets aren’t just mobile-first, they are mobile-only:

“A surprising number of U.S. Internet companies still operate without a real mobile-first strategy, though nearly everyone thinks they have one. Whether they know it or not, their businesses are on a respirator, especially if they have any thoughts about growing outside the U.S.

Outside of the States, especially in emerging markets like Brazil and India, consumers aren’t shifting from desktop computers to mobile devices like we’ve seen in the U.S.

Instead, for many of these populations, mobile is the Internet, and often provides their first online experience.”

Oxenford admits that he is certainly not the first to point this out, but somehow some companies still haven’t taken steps to revive their business through mobile:

“I’m not the first to point this out, of course, yet, amazingly, many still don’t seem to get it. In these markets, desktops are an afterthought, because — unlike in the U.S. — hundreds of millions of consumers leapfrogged the PC era altogether, joining the connected world in earnest through their mobile phones.

‘Mobile-first’ is an often-empty term — like ‘viral,’ ‘native’ and ‘social’ — that’s thrown around without much thought into what it really means. Mobile is a foundation, not a feature. It may hurt your wallet to even consider, but maybe your product should be reimagined for a mobile environment, not just adapted to fit a small screen.”

Oxenford hits on a key point – companies simply can’t try to squeeze their software onto a smaller screen. The competitive landscape is such that quality and user experience are everything, and they need to be well thought-out and orchestrated.

On the other hand, companies that fully invested in mobile early on are certainly at a benefit. In fact, Oxenford says that in some markets mobile traffic is growing by more than 20% monthly:

Read more …

The Hidden Costs of Building an App

As most developers know all too well – building a mobile app is not as quickly and easy as some might think.

how much does it cost to build an app

Having a mobile presence is no longer an option, but developing and launching an app requires a significant investment of time, money and resources. Not to mention, with so many apps in the app stores it’s harder than ever to win over users.

That’s why all each step of the app development life cycle plays a significant role in an app’s success. Joe McKendrick, of ZDNet, summarizes the obvious and not so obvious costs that go into mobile development. Here’s a look:

With mobile apps, end-users only spend a few seconds on the phone, so the app really needed to reach out and grab them, and serve a purpose. Once the design of the app was approved, they needed to decide whether to deploy to iOS or Android. (They decided to start with iPhone.) Once the app was finally tested and released, there was a constant need to keep it fresh and updated.

Again, mobile app development and deployment requires the same care and investment as any major software project. In a post which appeared last year, Matrix Software calculated the costs of building iOS and Android apps. It demonstrates that substantial organizational resources still need to go into mobile app development…

  • Hourly developer rates: Anywhere between $40 up to $120, depending on skills, availability and developers’ location.
  • Project costs: Anywhere from $3,000 for rapidly deployed simple apps to $30,000 for larger, more complicated and more configurable iPhone apps.
  • Additional unforeseen project costs: The post cautions that going for the lowest development rates may actually cost more in the long run. “Offshore development rates are cheaper than U.S. hourly rates, but there is also a higher rate of client dissatisfaction.  Communication, working hours and cultural differences can be challenges which are difficult (or impossible) to overcome.”
  • Development time: ”Anywhere from a couple of weeks for something simple, all the way up to several months depending on complexity (and developer availability).” Read more …

Applause Analytics, It’s Wicked Smaht

Context is everything. Without it, all you have is data without a story. Unfortunately many analytics solutions leave context by the wayside. This isn’t always a problem so long as there isn’t any conflicting or inconsistent data. But what if there is?

Applause Analytics’ magic starts with the user review. But the thing about user reviews is that they’re written by people. And people are conflicting, inconsistent things. A 2012 TechCrunch article notes that in up to 70% of user reviews – the user’s comments don’t align with their star rating. For example:

ConfictReview

 

 

 

 

At face value the user seems to be indicating that they absolutely love the fact that they can’t play this particular game app anymore. Analytics that are only reporting the 5-star review will report just that. The app got 5-stars, everything must be going great! But the developer won’t have the whole story. Or really any story at all. So what makes Applause Analytics different?

Because it’s smart. It gets context. Applause Analytics breaks things down like this:

  • The user was motivated to submit a review of the app, which could be good or bad.
  • I see the word ‘crashes’, which I know is a bad thing.
  • I know crashing is related to a customer’s perception of the stability of an app.
  • I know app stability is pretty important to people using game apps.
  • I also see that the user gave the app a 5-star review, which is a good thing.

Applause Analytics then writes the user story: “This user is being affected negatively by the stability of the app – in this case, because it’s crashing on them. But their experience with the app has up to this point been incredibly positive. So they like the app very much, they just wish it wasn’t currently crashing on them.”

Finally, Applause Analytics tells the user story:

  • The app’s Stability Attribute Score gets dinged to reflect that there’s something going on there, that’s negatively affecting customer perception of stability. The severity of the ding is weighted by the fact that stability is an important attribute that gamers look for in their game apps, but this particular user’s perception of the app is still very positive (for the moment, at least). 
  • The falling Stability score will pull the app’s Applause Score down, alerting developers that the app’s stability is negatively affecting user perception of the overall quality of their app.
  • If many users are reporting crashes, Applause Analytics will collect these reviews into a Cluster, and then present that Cluster to developers in their Applause dashboard. This helps identify app crashing as an issue that’s affecting multiple users, and so may merit further investigation and prioritization.

If you’re a mobile app developer, your users’ stories are important to you, to your app, and to your customers. Applause Analytics makes it easy to listen, because it’s wicked smaht.

To learn more, or to sign up for a FREE 30-day trial: Click Here!

The Shift to Mobile Payments Continues for Major Retailers

iself-retailQuick transactions, loyalty programs, enhanced features and more data into users shopping habits are just a handful of the many benefits that the shift to mobile has brought for major retailers.

Retailers making the mobile shift are joining a very crowded market. Banks, tech companies and more are entering the mobile payment market, increasing the need to differentiate.

A recent article from Emma Thomasson, of Reuters, explores the success of retailers like Starbucks and Tesco who got mobile right:

 “Starbucks, the world’s biggest coffee chain, launched its mobile payment and rewards app in 2011. It already has 10 million users and the firm said this month it is looking for ways to expand the program beyond its own network.

“The mobile payments platform has given us a higher degree of frequency and higher degree of loyalty and the question is how can we leverage that beyond our stores,” Starbucks Chairman and Chief Executive Howard Schultz told CNBC television.

An alternative path is also being explored in the United States, where dozens of top retailers including Wal-Mart , Target and Best Buy have announced plans to set up a joint digital wallet service – the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX – though no launch date has been set.

Read more …

What’s the Word on Word?

wordRecently, the tech press was abuzz with Microsoft’s release of Office for iPad. It’s been reported that there have been over 12 million downloads in the first week alone, making it an app store darling, leading the app store top charts since launch. But Microsoft is fairly late to the office productivity apps space on iOS. How does their stronghold on the desktop-based business translate into the mobile world? Well, here’s what users are saying.

Overall, users haven’t quite bought in to the Word for iPad strategy yet. The initial set of reviews that came in leaned negative with users’ satisfaction being brought down by complaints of the pricing model Microsoft chose to implement. While most of the office productivity apps are under $10, Microsoft is continuing to charge for mobile access to the Office suite as part of a monthly or annual subscription. A move, that doesn’t sit will with users.­­

WordReviews

The pricing issue has led to many negative comments, bringing down the satisfaction attribute score to 11 out of 100, the lowest among similar apps. Interoperability is also scored low, due to issues with formatting across devices and the current lack of a printing feature.

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Luckily, popularity seems to be prevailing over these issues for the time being. But for Microsoft to start competing in this space and make up ground, it will take the addition of key features and compatibility and a look at their subscription model. A major update to the app with new features and attention may also help Word climb in star rating as well to overcome the original negative user sentiment.

App quality isn’t tied only to the functionality of their app but also how users perceive it. If users feel that Word is not worth the value they may abandon to other popular alternatives. It is important to think beyond just does it work and also incorporate user perspective when bringing your app to the ultra-competitive marketplace.

Apps Targeting “Couples Market” Reveal Role Digital Experiences Play in Lives

Video-chatHere at the Apps Analytics Blog, we make it a point to examine the data behind big app news and try to help readers understand the lessons that can be gleaned about the importance of app quality and user signals and sentiment. We’ve pointed out the importance of usability and security for e-commerce apps, looked at the numbers behind the interoperability of wearables and expounded on the overall importance of mobile quality to brands’ app strategies.

This past weekend in the New York Times however, Jenna Wortham took a thoughtful look at the “couples market” and reminded us all of what is likely still the primary purpose of communication in the apps economy – connection with other users.

Wortham notes that, for her, apps that require an appointment for connection are less appealing and that she, like many of us, is now habitually inclined (perhaps subtly, perhaps not) to a more frequent level of contact with those she is close to than before the onset of the apps economy:

I prefer to use applications that already figure into my daily routine, like Google’s instant-messaging application, Gchat, as well as Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. This way, we can talk about travel plans while I’m waiting for the train or talk about what he’s making for dinner while I’m at work.

I’ve found that all of my conversational habits have matured beyond the static phone dates of yore. We are now in constant and continuous communication with our friends, co-workers and family over the course of a day. These interactions can help us feel physically close, even if they happen through a screen.

And because this kind of communication is less formal than a phone call or an email, it feels more like the kind of casual conversation you might have over a meal or while watching television together. These conversations can also be infused with a lot more fun than a regular text message, because they often include cutesy features that let you add digital doodles to video messages, or send virtual kisses or cartoon characters.

Wortham also examines apps that are taking aim at helping all of us manage these connections. Unlike dating apps and sites, the new apps – like Avocado, Couple, Between and the one she and her boyfriend use to connect across continents, You & Me, – are for people in relationships already beyond the discovery phase. You & Me co-founder Aaron Schildkrout on how the app arose from a previous venture, the dating site HowAboutWe: 

The site lost users — and potential customers — once they were in a relationship. “The couples market is huge,” he said. He and his business partner were getting feedback from “couples who had met on the service but couldn’t use it anymore” and decided to build an application “to facilitate communication and interaction.”

There they are – user signals. In today’s apps economy, it’s important to listen to your users, who will give you signals about their feelings and behavior, including (especially?) about the manner in which they actually want to send other signals to those that matter most to them.

Among the many takeaways from Wortham’s piece is the fact that our digital experiences are inarguably a not-insignificant part of our every day lives. Beyond commerce, beyond working out and beyond getting a new high score. The apps economy is an ever-expanding, increasingly integrated part of the habits, behaviors and connections with others that make up our waking hours. And it’s just getting started.

There Really is An App for That

Most people, even those not extremely tech-savvy, have used a mobile app on a smartphone. Posting photos, updating social media accounts, and making purchases are common tasks using mobile apps. But what about apps that help you to avoid your ex, assess a concussion, adjust the temperature in your home while you’re away, or farm (yes, farm)?farming_app

Yep, there really is an app for all of those activities. Here’s a look at a few of those apps on the market right now:

Cloak: Applause Score: 35/100

This app bills itself as “incognito mode for real life”. By accessing Instagram and Foursquare data, it tells you where your friends, or “friends”, are located so that you can avoid them. There is currently no support for Facebook or Twitter integration. A reviewer says, “Ok so I saw this app on TV and tried it out! Turns out it was pretty cool! But it was so slow and glitchy. I think it worked like the first 2 times. But after that, it was just sending me locations from followers across the state?”

Concussion: Applause Score: 87/100

This free app from SportSafety Labs LLC helps you recognize a concussion and includes features like helping you locate the nearest hospital. A $4.99 in-app purchase buys you a concussion testing module. One reviewer writes, “No dollar amount is worth more than my peace of mind when it comes to my children!”

Nest Mobile: Applause Score: 52/100

This app works with your Nest thermostat and smoke/carbon monoxide alarm and allows you to adjust the temperature from your iOS device. You can also get notifications for events like an emergency alarm. A reviewer notes, “Generally a good app – when it works. They keep making changes to presumably fix issues and make things better, however have managed once again to totally hide the thermostat settings so that I cannot find them.”

ID Weeds: Not enough data for an Applause Score

This app from the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture help you identify weeds based on several characteristics. The app provides details as well as photos of each weed. Per one reviewer, “It walks you through a process of questions which limit [sic] your choices of possible weeds, the more criteria you select.”