Announcing the Ovation Awards (for Apps)!

ovationLogoLeftBlackIt’s been a busy eight days here at the newly-focused Applause Blog. Last Wednesday we let you know about our latest venture – ARC – a new site for and by people in and of the apps economy. Today we’re proud to announce a new, sure-to-be competitive (and fun), initiative – The Ovation Awards

The Ovation Awards are the only app awards that measure what brands & developers truly seek: the love and loyalty of users and experts. The awards launched today, but the fun is just beginning. We’re looking to you, app users everywhere, to  vote for your favorite apps from a list of 200 finalists across 10 categories (and across both iOS and Android). We have a panel of expert judges who will be poring over your selections and making their decisions. Here’s how the awards will unfold:

  • Public voting: Nov 12 – Dec 14 – Vote for your favorite apps – vote for just one, or vote for 20 (one per category per OS) from our pool of 200 finalists. This is a big part of what our panel of expert judges will consider.
  • The Judges weigh in – Our panel includes accomplished mobile engineers, VCs, journalists, CEOs and others who understand apps inside and out. The judges will be looking at YOUR votes –  as well as the analytics that were used by our in-house team of data scientists to help decide the 200 finalists – in order to choose the winners across 10 categories as well as the overall grand prize winner for each operating system.
  • Winners to be announced January 14, 2015 – The winner for each category + OS will be announced, as will the grand-prize, overall winners for iOS and for Android.

So what are you waiting for? Make your voice heard, and vote for your favorite apps in the Ovation Awards today!

Introducing ARC

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Good morning, fans of  app quality!

Today marks a change in the way we here at Applause bring you the app-related content, analysis and research you crave. We’re proud as heck to announce the launch of ARC (the Application Resource Center). ARC is led by our Editor-in-Chief, former ReadWrite Mobile Editor Dan Rowinski - whose work you’ve enjoyed here these past few months – and represents a new day for how we deliver news and information about apps and the apps economy.

So what is ARC? Well, let’s hear from Dan Rowinski himself on the matter:

“The natural inclination is to typecast ARC as something familiar — content marketing, inbound marketing, branded journalism, native advertising—but in fact, this is something starkly different. ARC is a publication for all things related to success in the apps economy — from design to development to testing, and from native to browser-based applications. We want to take this expertise and deep analysis, and make it freely available to stakeholders across the application lifecycle.”

The launch of ARC also includes the launch of ARC’s research arm, ARC 360. ARC 360 will produce reports focused on bench-marking the state of app quality from across industries in the apps economy.  The first ARC 360 reports were also released today and are focused on the current state of the apps economy as it pertains to the retail and travel industries. Ben Gray, former Principal Analyst at Forrester now on staff at Applause, authored the reports.

Alas, as our app-related content moves to ARC, this blog will no longer be named the App Quality Blog. Instead, you can check back here for news related to the business-facing brand, Applause (new hires, big announcements, things we think are fascinating or cool, etc.). Sure we may link to big stories or research on ARC too (or even the goings on over at our friends uTest on the Software Testing  Blog) but mostly this will become a place to hear what’s new with your favorite app quality company.

So, while we’re a little wistful at the end of an era here at blog central, we’re ecstatic about the new day that has launched for people who love apps over at ARC. Take a look at the news and the research over the coming weeks and months and let us know your thoughts. And stay tuned here for all things Applause.

 

 

October Product Updates

No tricks this month, but plenty of treats!

Our product and development teams have been hard at work making already great tools even greater. We get a ton of great and helpful feedback from our customers (keep it coming!) and we don’t just listen, we act. October’s updates feature some exciting updates pulled straight from our “Most Requested” list.

Applause Bug Tracking System Integration 3.0

Integration with bug tracking systems like JIRA, Mantis, Bugzilla and Rally is one of the most asked about, and most utilized, features within the Applause 360o App Quality™ platform. Customers love the fact that they can easily and conveniently push bugs and crashes delivered from their Applause services and products – like in-the-wild testing and the Applause SDK – straight to their own backend BTS implementations.

Because it’s such a popular feature, it’s also a feature that we get a lot of user feedback about. Well, we listened. We’re excited to announce the release of Applause BTS Integration 3.0!

3.0 streamlines the integration process and introduces support for customized field mappings and automations. You can now seamlessly integrate Applause into your internal BTS workflows. Want to automatically assign all critical bugs from Applause to a particular engineer, while setting custom severity and priority values to synch with your in-house BTS workflows? Now you can.

For a more in-depth look at the what’s and the how’s: Click Here

Just want to get started, but aren’t sure where to start integrating Applause with your BTS? Click Here

Applause Analytics

International App Store Support

The world of mobile apps is just that, the world. App developers have a global audience that they reach through a multitude of localized, international app stores – and all of those app stores are flush with user sentiment.

We’ve introduced  support for app stores in the US, Canada, Great Britain and Australia, but we’re certainly not stopping there. We have support for  a new batch of supported countries scheduled for release by the end of the year, with support for additional countries coming after that at a fairly quick cadence. The world is talking, and now you can listen to it with Applause Analytics.

For information on how to access international app stores: Click Here

Review Alerts

Applause Analytics can do more than offer actionable insight into how your users are defining app quality, it can also be your 24/7 eyes and ears. Just tell Applause Analytics what topics are most important to you and when your users start talking about them in their app store reviews, Applause Analytics will let you know. Applause Analytics can also keep an eye on user sentiment trends for you. If user sentiment begins to rise or fall, Applause Analytics will make sure you’re in the know.

To learn how to set up your own Review Alerts: Click Here

Search Optimization

We’ve gone to great lengths to improve mobile app search, making it even easier for Applause Analytics users to find just the app they’re looking for within the metaphorical app store haystack.

  • We’ve improved on how we’re ranking search results based on relevancy and priority.
  • Bad spellers, we’ve got your back. Applause Analytics will now make a “best guess” based on user input, and will return search results ranked by the popularity of the closest search terms.
  • We don’t like junk apps any more than you do. Junk apps will now be pushed to the bottom of the search results.

There’s plenty more to come before the end of the year, so stay tuned!

Windows 10: Microsoft Takes Steps To Streamline Windows

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Microsoft skipped a number … and took its first steps to streamline the entire Windows operating system.

Microsoft was widely expected to announce Windows 9 today, the successor to its much-maligned Windows 8 operating system that introduced the “Modern” (formerly Metro) user experience dominated by a Start Screen instead of a Start Button of previous versions of Windows. Windows 8 (and later Windows 8.1) features a dual “Classic/Modern” interface that was both contrived and confusing. Microsoft only updates its Windows operating system about once every three years, so 2015 was widely expected to be time for Windows 9 that was expected to answer some of Redmond’s perplexing user experience questions.

But Microsoft opted to skip past Windows 9 and has announced Windows 10, coming to the public mid-year 2015.

Windows 10 for PCs and laptops skips the dual-persona noise of Windows 8, focusing on bringing enterprise-grade tools and experience. It combines the user experience of Windows 7 for keyboard and mouse users with elements of the Modern user interface for Windows 8. Microsoft promises that all of the user interface of Windows 7 apps that businesses have come to know will be able to work in Windows 10. At the same time, Modern apps will still be supported in Windows 10.

It is a bit of a reversal for Microsoft. In Windows 8, the default mode has been the Modern touch mode with the desktop hidden and Classic apps hidden in the background. For PCs and laptops, Classic style will now be the default, with Modern UI support tacked to the backend.

The Start Screen has been eschewed on Windows 10 for PCs, replaced by a new and improved Start Button that brings elements of both the classic and Modern Windows user interface. Essentially, the new Start Button looks like the button from Windows 7 with a flat “hubs and tiles” Modern interface tacked on to the side.

Microsoft is not completely ditching its touchscreen users on two-in-one tablet/laptops though, bringing a new Start Screen to touch users. It is the inverse of the new Start Button in Windows 10, with the Start Screen coupled with elements of the button tacked to the left side of the screen.

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Two Great Reasons To Update Your Apps To iOS 8

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Apple has presented one astounding reason for developers to get moving upgrading their apps to iOS 8: in its opening weekend of sales, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sold 10 million units in stores.

Apple broke its previous opening weekend iPhone sales and said it could have done even better if its supply chain could have kept up with consumer demand. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are expected to be available in 115 countries by the end of 2014.

Apple is setting itself up for a monster fourth quarter as consumers gear up for the holiday sales season. The fourth quarter has long been Apple’s best quarter with record iPhone sales. Demand seems to be as high or higher than it has ever been for the iPhone with the two new larger models.

Outside of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus sales, Apple is seeing accelerated adoption of iOS 8 to old iPhones and iPads. According to mobile analytics firm Mixpanel, 30.95% of all iOS traffic is now coming from iOS 8 just five days after its official release.

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Given the surge in iPhone sales and the adoption of iOS 8, developers have a distinct incentive to update their apps or build new ones that take advantage of the more than 4,000 new application programming interfaces in iOS 8. The addressable market for iOS 8 apps has gone from zero to tens of millions in a little less than five days. Smart developers and entrepreneurs will be ahead of that trend.

To get priorities straight, Mixpanel also breaks down the adoption of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (as a percent of overall iOS traffic it tracks). The iPhone 6 is outselling the iPhone 6 Plus by a fairly large margin. As of Monday morning, September 22, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is garnering 2.74% of all iPhone traffic while the iPhone 6 Plus only registers 0.52%.

The discrepancy between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is likely attributable to two factors: Apple supply chain issues for the larger device and consumer demand for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6. Everybody that has seen the iPhone 6 Plus has remarked that it is a beautiful smartphone, but it really is very big. Samsung has seen similar reactions to its large-screened Galaxy Note smartphones as has Nokia with the immense Lumia 1520. Phones that fall into the “phablet” category have definitive addressable markets, but often see sales lag behind smartphones in the 4.7-inch to 5-inch range.

The App Developers Guide To Winning iOS 8

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Every year, Apple performs one of the major miracles of modern technology: it flips a switch and ships a brand new version of its iOS operating system to hundreds of millions of people at once.

Apple has sold nearly 800 million iOS devices since 2007, many of those within the last couple of years. A conservative estimate of the potential user base of iOS 8 is perhaps 500 million, when considering the churn of people who upgrade their iPhones and iPads every few years.

Less than a day after the public launch of iOS 8, about 16.3% of all iOS traffic is coming from iOS 8, according to mobile analytics firm Mixpanel. By our conservative estimates, that means around 81.5 million people have already downloaded iOS 8. By early next week, more than 200 million people will have downloaded iOS 8.

So, no pressure or anything … but is your app ready for the latest version of iOS?

If you’re not, don’t worry. Developers often wait until the newest version of iOS is released before deciding on how they will take advantage of the latest features in the platform. In a short survey by Applause, 45.5% of developers had not yet begun preparing for iOS 8 shortly before its Gold Master was released.

To help guide you through all the new features in iOS 8 for developers, we’ve written a comprehensive ebook, “The App Developers Guide To Winning iOS 8.” In this new ebook we break down the new opportunities developers have around iOS 8 App Extensions, Handoff and all the new developer kits for health, fitness, photos and iCloud. Everything you need to know about iOS 8 app development, we have it in our new ebook.

If you’re curious about what’s new in iOS 8 or have specific questions about Apple’s latest operating system, download the book here.

Snafu For iOS 8 At Launch

You don’t ship a new version of anything to hundreds of millions of people without some significant issues.

The complaint users have with the iOS 8 launch in 2014 is that it is just too darn big. Users that are trying to install iOS 8 over the air need between 4.6 GB and 6.9 GB of free space (depending on your version of iPhone or iPad) on their device to get the update. For people that have 8 GB or 16 GB iPhones, that means that they have to delete nearly all their apps, pictures and music to get iOS 8 loaded onto their devices.

Many users have been able to mitigate the need for free data on their devices by downloading iOS 8 through the iTunes client on Mac or PC computers. iOS 8 still requires significant free space if downloaded through a computer, but not nearly as much as the over-the-air update.

Users and developers will eventually forgive and forget this latest transgression. They always do and new Apple continues to sell more iPhones every year. AntennaGate, The Fappening, iMessage and so forth … even when Apple does wrong, its customers and developers still buy smartphones and build apps.

Apple Watch: What We Know … And What We Don’t

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The iWatch from Apple is real. Apple went no-holds-barred in the announcement of its Apple Watch, a new wearable computer that is packs more features and functions than anybody could have rightfully predicted before it was announced.

Apps, dials, touch, voice, Siri, health, fitness, communications, drawing, emoji … Apple had the mother of all gee-whiz on stage demos during the Apple Watch announcement yesterday. From a 1,000-foot view, it is very impressive.

Until you realize that we actually don’t know anything about the Apple Watch.

Outside of the announcement and stage demonstration, Apple didn’t let anybody actually try out the watch during the hands-on period after the announcement. Apple had models wearing it running on treadmills, some fancy setups with a looping video and likely plenty of “look but don’t touch” Apple employees hovering over the available demonstrations.

We don’t yet know how apps will be made for the Apple Watch. We don’t know if they will be a form of app extension or custom-built apps through the WatchKit framework that Apple announced. The developer documentation and outlines for WatchKit has not yet been published to Apple’s iOS Developer Portal, so we do not yet know anything specific about the Apple Watch and how its apps will work. Apple has promised that developers will be able to make native apps for the Apple Watch starting in 2015.

Apple’s approach to the smartwatch market is directly opposite from that of Google. In Android Wear, Google announced its design guidelines and released a design primer in March, well before the official announcement of Android Wear at the Google I/O developer conference in late June. The software came before the devices, which we are now waiting to be released and iterated upon by manufacturers like LG, Samsung and Motorola.

Apple has a device, but no software … yet. The early 2015 release of the Apple Watch will effectively serve as the beta period for iOS developers to build Watch apps, when Apple does release the WatchKit documentation. We also know little about the internal components of the Apple Watch or what the battery life will be.

What do we know about the Apple Watch? Mostly, just the features that Apple announced which, on surface level, are quite impressive for a smartwatch. Let’s take a look.

Not One Watch, But Six

Really, Apple didn’t just announce one watch, it announced six. The Apple Watch comes in three varieties, each of which will come in two different sizes— 38 mm and 42 mm. The standard Apple Watch is scheduled to come out in early 2015. Apple also announced the Watch Sport and the Watch Edition built specifically for activity and style, respectively.

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Wednesday Webinar: “Making Your App Useable: Remote Unmoderated Is The Future Of Mobile Testing”

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Join us on Wednesday for the first of a two-part webinar series around usability testing.

Usability testing extended outside the lab to where users live, work and play empowers companies to deliver winning mobile experiences. Remote unmoderated testing isn’t a nice-to-have methodology that complements traditional usability testing; it’s an essential component of usability testing and represents the future of usability testing for mobile.

During this webinar you will discover:

  • How to build a world-class mobile usability testing strategy
  • Why remote unmoderated testing is the future of mobile usability testing
  • Mobile usability testing best practices that all companies need to embrace today

Join our Lead Usability Expert, Inge De Bleecker next Wednesday, September 17th at 1PM EDT to discover why remote unmoderated is the future of mobile testing.

Register for our webinar today!

Apple Makes Big Entrance Into Mobile Payments With Apple Pay

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Editor’s Note: This article comes from our friends at Prolific Interactive, a digital agency in San Francisco and Brooklyn that provides design, strategy and engineering to companies for mobile product development. The article was authored by Russ Wallace, managing director of Prolific Interactive in San Francisco. It has been republished here with permission.

Apple announced today its NFC payment system, Apple Pay. We expect it to take mobile commerce mainstream, so below is a quick recap of the announcements and some of our takeaways.

Key Announcements Regarding Apple Pay

– Apple Pay comes with every iPhone 6 & iPhone 6+ (the two models introduced today). While this means all currently existing iPhones will not support Apple Pay, adoption of new iPhones is very fast: in the US, the iPhone 5S and 5C represented over 5% of all active iOS devices just one month after release. We should see similar adoption with the iPhone 6 models.

– Support for Apple Pay launches in October 2015 in the US, with international support coming later.

– Activating payments on Apple Pay is powered by NFC (more on NFC below), which is supported in 220,000 retail locations around the US already. The user will simply tap their phone against an NFC payment terminal and then (optionally) swipe their fingerprint to use Touch ID for authentication.

– Security is handled via the new Secure Element chip, which means that no payment info is actually shared with merchant (more on security & privacy below).

– The API will be available for developers in iOS 8, expected to be released around the same time as the iPhone 6 (September 16).

Apple’s Support For NFC Could Mean Big Things

NFC stands for “near-field communications,” a radio transmission protocol based on RFID technology that allows your phone to communicate with nearby devices. NFC is notable for its low power requirements but also its small range of communication (typically only a few centimeters). It gained popularity with Android users and overseas markets, but prior to the iPhone 6 NFC has not been supported in Apple devices.

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6 Things You Need To Know About The iPhone 6

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Bigger and bolder, Apple has finally embraced the large screen. Apple latest iPhones were announced today and it comes in two variants: the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Each is bigger  and more powerful than any iPhone Apple has ever made.

In its announcement today, Apple referred to the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus at the greatest phones every made. It is a bit of hyperbole that Apple has been prone towards in its iPhone announcements through history, a legacy of the late Steve Jobs. But nearly everything about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is bigger and badder, a worthy successor to Apple’s smartphone franchise and likely to be the most sought-after gift this coming holiday shopping season.

What do you need to know about the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus? Let’s break it down.

Screen Size And Resolution

Apple has finally broken out of its mold and listened to what people want. Consumers want bigger screens on smartphones. Thus, mobile app developers want bigger screens on because that is what consumers want.

Well, Apple has delivered.

The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch screen with a 1334-by-750 screen that translates to 326 pixels-per-inch (ppi). Good news for developers, this is the exact same pixel count as the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S and iPad Mini with Retina Display.

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The iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen with a 1920-by-1080 resolution with 401-ppi. The new pixels-per-inch count will be what developers are going to focus on because it is this metric that will directly effect what their existing apps will look like on larger screens. To this end, Apple has created a desktop-class scaler in the Xcode integrated developer environment to deal with all the new screen sizes and (limited) pixel variation among iOS devices. Apple also employs the Adaptive Layout feature introduced in iOS 7 (and advanced in iOS 8) to help developers make apps that fit any of its device sizes.

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