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How to build apps people really need

I’ve been blessed over the past twenty-odd years in the digital field to work with countless idea men and women. The early days of dot com from 1995-2000 were frankly pretty incredible. Everyone believed they were going to change the world, and you know what? Many of them did. Then the greedsters showed up, and the whole ball unraveled.

In those early Internet days, it took more than an idea to make a business. It took a lot of programming horsepower. There were no stacks, to speak of. The code base to build upon was non-existent. And let’s face it, even hooking up a database to HTML was “new.”

Today, everybody and their mom has an idea for an app, the freshly-minted “web page.” I love it. I love ingenuity, and I won’t be one of those to get in anyone’s way. But if we learned one thing from the dot com and other micro-eras of emergence in digital, it’s that the world isn’t looking for another app like they were web pages in the early days. (Literally, people would ask me, “Give me a web page to visit!”)

Success in the app marketplace doesn’t begin with code. Success is earned by those idea people who see a need in the consumer’s life, can create an experience that solves a problem (imagined or otherwise), and will be used persistently. My experience has shown me that coding chops alone doesn’t solve problems. Having a keen sense of awareness for how a person navigates their daily life, then imaging a better way of doing so is the killer idea.

Think of it this way. Steve Jobs needed his Steve Wozniak. Or better put, Steve Wozniak needed Steve Jobs. The one without the other wouldn’t have created the world’s most valuable company. They were each other’s right and left brain.

The risks associated with creating a new application are astonishingly low these days. The arc between an idea and execution can be measured in a 12 pack of Coke and a free evening. But building a sustainable business ain’t so. A successful company requires a selfless commitment to understanding your consumer, adapting your ideas to their lives, and recognizing that no consumer will do any extra work to make your idea come to life. They’re not obligated to you. You are to them.

So if you’re serious about creating applications — as a start-up or for your company — you will save yourself a heap of pain and agony by staying laser focused on how you are creating value and richness to your consumers’ lives, even before the first line of code is put to screen.

Photo courtesy emojoez.

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Race toward the connected home

Remember when the color would wear from a light switch or home control panel lever from years of use. They’re gone, or — they could be if manufacturers and technologists work together to synch home products with apps that give consumers a greater measure of control over functionality via their mobile devices.

This idea of synchronicity between residential devices or systems and consumer control is known as the connected home, one component of the growing “Internet of Things.”

In a report forecasting growth of demand for the “connected home,” BI Intelligence predicts shipments of related devices will increase at a compound annual rate of 67% over the next five years. According to the report, that’s faster than even tablet or smartphone growth.

To reach this ideal, we can’t look to app developers to create technology platforms that make use of the limited functionality available in systems currently. We must look further up the funnel to manufacturers. When manufacturers adjust systems and devices to render them more compatible with control via mobile devices, only then can a truly connected home become a reality.

The truth is, manufacturers are not moving as quickly toward wide scale acceptance of the connected home. My message to these lagging adopters, “If you don’t act and begin integration with changing products and systems to fit within the connected home, your competition will.”

Simply providing the automation of processes isn’t enough. The solutions manufacturers offer consumers must truly add value. A connected home needs a connected interface. Specifically what’s lacking is being able to integrate the automation of household functions access through one centralized view on users’ smart devices.

To accomplish the integration of this functionality developers must have a common set of integration principles. Without it, we’re left with 20 apps all available to use in controlling household processes but no motivation to open a single one.

The report predicts that home energy equipment, safety devices and security systems will drive growth in the connected home category first — including products like smoke detectors and thermostats. These devices will serve as a gateway to greater end user adoption.

Growth in devices to serve the connected home is exciting and all but unavoidable. BI Intelligence estimates $61 billion in revenue will be attributed to connected home product sales this year alone.

Consumers purchase products that provide them the most value, whether that value be provided in cost savings or mobile functionality. These predictions suggest that more and more end users are prioritizing high degrees of connectivity and the ability to adjust systems or components in their home anytime — even miles away.

Manufacturers who have not yet begun to adapt or strategize to bring your business in line with the connected home trend ask yourself these questions:

  1. If consumers value connectivity, where do your products or systems fit in? How can they be integrated with mobile control of their functionality?
  2. Are you building solutions that meet consumer needs and differentiate your products as a manufacturer that will grow your market share over the long term?
  3. Do you understand who your clients really are? Is your digital or product strategy aligned with the end consumer?

Answer these questions and you will begin to set your products apart bringing them in line with the changing tides of consumer needs. But, you will also position your brand to be viewed as a technology-first provider and consumer advisor — worth more than any short term dip in sales during the transition process.

Ultimately, users want a connected home that will give them the feeling of confidence that their loved ones are safe and secure even when they can’t be there to monitor smoke detectors and carbon monoxide levels.

Have questions about designing or building apps to serve the connected home? Talk with us. MentorMate advocates and supports manufacturers with the foresight to think ahead and work towards solutions for safe, secure and integrated homes.

Image courtesy of Denys Prykhodov.

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Do mobile devices like smartphones enable adventure or inhibit genuine experiences?

Today’s the day. You’ve closed your laptop, un–plugged your headphones and latched your work bag closed. The open road is calling. Grab your gear — whatever that gear is — just don’t forget your phone.

In today’s hyper-connected world, that sequence is a common one. There’s no doubt the ubiquity of smartphones has changed our conception about what exploring means and what we need to experience it fully.

Now if we veer off course, we can quickly call up a navigation app and get our bearings. We don’t have to rely on our memories to recall a particular outlook, trail or restaurant. We can sort through a seemingly endless stream of photos to find it. The question becomes, “Are we better off?”

Whether you bike, ride or moto, touring with a mobile device can either be your biggest ally or your greatest impediment to enjoying the complete experience.

My wife and I ride Harleys. Each year Sturgis becomes a mecca of sorts for the more steeled and powered brand advocates. Cyclists ride from across the country to take part in a weeklong celebration of travel and the great American bike. This ride to Sturgis from Minneapolis captures the benefits and pitfalls of touring with your mobile device.

The benefits

Constant smartphone access allows you to easily plan a route and find restaurants on or off the beaten path. If we experience inclement weather, shelter is just a quick search away. Worse yet, if you encounter injured or broken-down riders, assistance is nearly immediate. A tow truck or emergency response team are a dial away.

Best app for navigation: Google Maps

Mobile devices also give you the opportunity to augment your planned route and embrace serendipity along the way.

If you crave indian food, you can find it. If you need a respite from the August heat, a keyword search brings up a dozen overlooks you can add to your route before continuing on.

Best app to find quick restaurant ideas: Trip Advisor

The pitfalls

The boons of traveling with a mobile device are plenty but so is the potential for mobile tech to maintain hyper-connection with work or friends causing disruptions on your trip. Say you do climb to the top of that overlook you found. You can see over the horizon for miles. Then — your phone begins to ring. I can’t imagine a more intrusive tech disruption.

Now, say your phone remains silent, and you’re able to fully appreciate the scenery. You reach for your phone to take a picture. Stop, and think, “How are our memories of traveling impacted by your ability to quickly capture a visual from the experience?” Can your smartphone really capture the glow of a sunset? Maybe. But, snapping the picture might also prevent you from appreciating the moment in it’s entirety.

Sharable experiences

There’s another layer to consider when touring with mobile. The ability to share your adventure via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or the suite of other available social channels. The question then becomes.

Is your adventure personal or social? Is sharing about your experience as important as actually experiencing it?

Modern-day explorers will continue to grapple with these questions and more as mobile technology continues to develop and offer greater functionality coupled with the ability to render quickly even in remote locations.

My rule of thumb is this: Never let your smartphone become a crutch, but do use it as a resource to guide you and enrich the experience.

For thousands of years, people explored without smart devices. Mobile tech affords more options now. Smartphones render travel safer. But the question becomes, is traveling with a mobile phone truly better? Does experiencing events with mobile tech in hand diminish or increase the experience? Are the memories gained more complete, or do you miss the moment altogether?

Talk to us more about creating mobile and digital experiences that add value.

Photo credit: Alphaspirit, Shutterstock

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Considering Apple Watch? You should totally buy a Rolex.

Last week you read about the slick design and high integration the Apple Watch enables with your other smart devices. That’s all fine. It’s great even. But, is it really worth the price? Let’s explore.

My take? If you’re considering buying the shiny, new Apple Watch — the deluxe “Apple Watch Edition” — you should really consider buying a Rolex instead.

Take a look at the tech gadget world right now. Consumers typically hang on to smartphones for two years on average, due to a variety of reasons:

  • Cell phone carriers usually have two-year contracts
  • The technology is outdated in two-years
  • Technology is fragile, shatter your phone screen and your experience decreases dramatically
  • Battery life decreases and usability decreases

Apply that same concept to the Apple Watch, and we can predict that version one of the Apple Watch will last you about two years maximum.

Apple typically produces a much better product on their second try, just take a look at the history of iPods, iPhones, and iPads.

We can also make a fairly accurate prediction that Apple will improve the way bands attach to watch bases in the next 2-4 iterations, so there is no guarantee that you can keep replacing the watch face while keeping the same band over the next 5-10 years you commit to wearing the watch. (If any of the Apple Watch bands even last you 5-10 years taking daily wear into account, I will eat my hat.)

Let’s take a look at the lifetime cost of a Rolex versus the Apple Watch with a few assumptions:

  • The lifetime of a Rolex is 20 years, and we’re going to buy a $30,000 Rolex watch, because, why not?  (And if you keep maintaining your watch, it will last a few lifetimes for a quality timepiece.)
  • You will plan on replacing your Apple Watch every two years.
Purchase Cost Total cost over 20 years Cost per year
Rolex $30,000 $30,000 $1,500*
Apple Watch Edition $12,000 $120,000 $6,000
Apple Watch Sport $350 $3,500 $175

*You can hand it down to your children’s children, and your cost per year is comparable to getting an Apple Watch Sport right now!

If you do end up buying the Rolex, I just saved you $90,000. You’re welcome.

Now if you went and invested this money…

Purchase 8% Return over 20 years
Rolex $139,829*
Apple Watch Edition $352,469
Apple Watch Sport $10,280

*Or you can invest your $30k and get about $66million in 100 years…. hmm, $66 million versus a Rolex….

If you are still considering purchasing the Apple Watch Edition… can I borrow have some money?

Talk to us more about the ROI for the tech development you’re considering.

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3 reasons to release another version of your app

You launched your app. Congratulations! It’s approved in the Apple and Google Play stores. With each passing hour the download count continues to ratchet upwards. Does that mean you’re done? Think again. Apps require constant and proactive maintenance to maintain peak functionality. Here are three reasons to release continued versions of your app.

Major platform events

Much like a golfer’s swing or a runner’s gait, apps need continued attention to keep pace with software updates and avoid seeming stale.

Maintaining your app shows your users that you aren’t just an innovator, you are informed and actively understand the expectations of the tech landscape.

When a new update or technology becomes available, users expect business as usual at a minimum. They need to continue using the apps they rely on to stay organized and productive. Ideally, apps should be updated to take advantage of new OS features as soon as possible.

User engagement

Releasing new functionality is a great way to keep your users engaged. As soon as you can provide more value to an existing app, send the new release for review and continue modifying it with subsequent releases. The release of Apple Watch illustrates how an app developer can adapt to major platform events to increase user engagement:

When Apple Watch was first released, it didn’t support my favorite calendar app, Sunrise. At that moment, I decided to switch back to Apple’s native calendar.

Users are motivated by convenience and ease-of-use. I was too.

In a world where new app options are born each day, maintaining your app is critical to preserve the following you need to be profitable or justify continued development. On the other hand, Wunderlist was ready for the Apple Watch on day one. I was reminded why I like Wunderlist in the first place — its simple interface and high degree of usability.

Bug fixes

Users expect continuity in the apps they use even in light of major platform changes. They also expect apps to work without noticeable lag or deficiency. Functionality that doesn’t render properly or perform as expected will give your base one more reason to switch. It’s a good idea to use a framework like Crashlytics or HockeyApp to observe and measure bugs in your app. Then adopt a regular release cycle to ensure that they’re fixed in a timely manner.

Release cycle

Maintenance and feature additions should be continuous, but it’s also important to find a rhythm. It is possible to annoy users with releases delivered too frequently. Create a cycle that fits the flexibility of your team. There is no reason to release changes more than once a week. A two-week update cycle fits the needs of most apps.

Continued releases will allow you to stay ahead of the competitive curve and support new platforms right away.

When users upgrade their operating systems and cannot load their favorite apps, it sends a disturbing message: The developers of their app are not engaged – or worse – don’t care enough to keep the technology current.

Remember, each release should be more stable than your last. Users may not always notice the little things you do fix, but they’re very aware when things don’t work.

Learn how progressive releases can boost engagement for your app. Talk with us.

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User Personas

Defining your app’s target audience and why it matters

There’s more to developing an app than choosing features and writing code that will bring the idea to life. There’s an important decision to make first. Who’s your target audience? Defining this group is critical to the success of any app.

Impact of your target audience

The target audience for an app is the core set of users, the group of people who need the app and will reap the largest reward. Defining a target audience tells you more than simply who will likely be the primary demographic. It also informs how your app is built and what features will be included. The target audience could be segmented by age, gender or motivation.

The process to define an app’s target audience begins by gaining an in-depth understanding of the core group’s motivations.

Ask yourself, “What problem will the app solve?” and “What will the user accomplish by using the app?”

Identifying user flow and features

Once you’ve determined your target audience, the user flow can be sketched — starting with how users will interact with your app when they first log-in. If your target audience values privacy, they may create a username that leads them to a landing page. Or maybe your target audience is busy, or less trustful, they can interact with app functionality right away. This can capture their attention.

Target audience definition gives you more insight than solely who the primary user is. It also informs how features are developed.

For example, studies have shown millennials aren’t using Google+ and Twitter, with the same frequency as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. A sharing mechanism that targeted Google+ and Twitter wouldn’t be useful for this audience. Instead, the app’s sharing should integrate with the audience’s platforms of choice.

Leveraging familiar usability patterns

Having a clear understanding of your audience allows you to replicate the usability patterns they are familiar with. That way, your app will be easier to adopt and users will be less intimidated by the newness of the technology.

Maximizing marketing spend

There’s a working development theory that a large percentage of your build budget should be spent on the actual app development and the remaining should be allocated to marketing your app. Following that line of thought, the size of your target audience impacts your marketing budget. If your audience is large, your marketing spend will be much higher. The benefit is clear: When you narrow down that audience, it helps the budget for your market spend.

Answer these three questions to begin thinking about your target audience.

1. Who is the user and how is the app going to better their lives?

The apps available to users increase by the day. Knowing who your users are will enable you to call out features that make their unique situations better.

2. As a user, why do I trust this technology?

We live in a world where the lifespan of many apps are fleeting. By knowing your user, you can ensure it benefits them now and into the future.

3. How do I leverage this target audience to increase adoption for my app?

Our ultimate goal is to release an app that will help improve the lives of your target audience. How do you incentivize this group of users to spread the word? As an example, if your app charges a membership fee like Betterment, you provide an incentive to waive these fees via invitations. This is a meaningful incentive for their target demographic.

Curious to learn more about target audience definition and how it could impact the success of your app? Talk with us.

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Google IO

Google I/O predictions 2015

Google I/O is Google’s top developer conference. At this conference, we see some of the most monumental announcements and releases of the year. The following are my predictions for 2015. They are based in part on leaks, publicly stated targets and goals, and wishful thinking.

Platforms

ARC Beta

ARC is Google’s effort to bring Android applications to Chrome as a platform. ARC stands for App Runtime for Chrome. Currently Chrome serves as the #1 browser in the world. It’s used on more than 80% of all computers.

With the rise of Chrome OS in education, being able to deploy applications to Chrome means developers will instantly gain access to a huge distribution channel.

Google Pay

The biggest challenge to the success of Google Wallet has been the lack of support from carriers such as T-Mobile or Verizon. These carriers informally blocked the inclusion and deployment of the Wallet app across devices. Compared with the universality of Apple Pay, which Apple ships on every handset and is able to control absolutely, Google had a tough challenge.

Softcard (formerly ISIS), the US carrier-built competitor payment system, has also achieved little success to date.

A big shift has happened over the last few months. Google purchased Softcard to hopefully heal carrier relationships and empower Google to relaunch Google Wallet. I’m expecting the launch will be called Google Pay.

Physical web

As I discussed in my other post on the Physical Web, I’m hoping the Physical Web will take a key role at I/O this year.

The physical web solves the problem of real world context in a very elegant way.

I’m expecting kiosks and interactive stations throughout Moscone in San Francisco.

Software

Chromecast Multistreaming

Chromecast for Audio is a new use case for Google’s Cast API. To date, no products supporting the new standard have been shipped. Chromecast for Video is now a hugely successful platform, and it’s not clear whether this success will be realized as Google tries to take on the world of Audio..

With the launch of devices like Sonos and Beep, it will be critical that Chromecast for Audio adds support for streaming to multiple devices or multiple rooms in a synchronized way. This will allow audio to play on multiple devices simultaneously. Theoretically, this could even be extended for video to allow simultaneous streaming of YouTube videos and live events.

Android 6  / Android ‘M’

I have no idea what features will be a part of the next version of Android, but it’s time. Lollipop was the biggest release of Android to date, but it came with a number of headaches for users — namely memory leaks and random crashes. Android ‘M’ will need to resolve these issues.

It will also be important to make another attempt at addressing the fragmentation of Android resulting from the proliferation of new Android devices (Nexus Player running Android TV, Android Wear, etc).

Twelve months after its announcement, Lollipop is only on 3% of devices as of April. Google has success deploying updates directly to Chrome and Chromebooks, and they need to apply this expertise to Android. They have had some success deploying new software versions directly to Android Wear. They launched a standardized hardware platform with Android One, but for users to take advantage of the latest features from Google, they need to take a fresh stab at the distribution and fragmentation problem.

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Google Photos

Google+ has not been the resounding success that Google hoped for. At one point, Google was tying all bonuses to the success of G+.  Since Vic Gundotra’s departure, G+ has taken a back seat.

G+ Photos recently integrated with Google Drive, and it’s expected that it will be relaunched as an independent platform, Google Photos.

I manage all of my photos in G+ Photos today, and I’m excited for this system to get additional attention.

Hardware

Nexus 5 2015

The Nexus 6 is a great phone, but it’s a little bit too big for the average user. The Nexus 5 has been pulled from the Google Store. It’s departure left a gap that’s just waiting to be filled.

Nexus 7 2015

The Nexus 7 2013 was a fantastic small tablet at an extremely reasonable price point. In April of this year it was pulled from the Google Store, leaving another space for a  product launch.

As a somewhat sheepish owner of a Nexus 9, the Nexus 9 was a great tablet that was terribly executed.

Google needs to go back, edit and recapture the success of the second Nexus 7.

Chromecast 2

Google has been selling their $35 dongle like crazy. Tens of millions of these devices have been shipped around the world since 2013. While there has been no public indications of any sort of change to this strategy, I anticipate a hardware update to the Chromecast enabling 4k video and other incremental improvements. That said, I hope they don’t break what is a fantastic product today.

Moto 360-2

I love my Moto 360, but with the Apple Watch, the competition is heating up. It’s time for a longer battery, a better band system, removal of the ambient light sensor bar and more fitness sensors.

The recent price drop of the 360 is an indicator that a new launch is impending.

Need to adapt your existing platform to pace with new tech trends. Talk with us.

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The 10 Best Apps for Oncologists

Cancer is a word that strikes fear in the hearts of most of us. There is no way to know what it’s like unless you or a loved one has experienced it. For many people, struggling to survive cancer is the toughest battle they will ever have to fight.

A recent research study examined the use of ‘war’ related metaphors like ‘fight’, ‘survivors’, ‘battle’, etc., to refer to cancer, and concluded that patients are more likely to show less self-restraint and have less limitations if they feel they are about to enter a battlefield. And often, they will choose more aggressive treatment procedures to tackle their ailment head on.

What does this have to do with apps for oncologists? We believe this study shows doctors that patients need to be prepared for a fight. It shows that the most up-to-date and aggressive treatment is often the difference between life or death, and that, if sent into battle armed also with doctors who have the best information available to them, cancer patients will maintain a positive, hopeful attitude.

Why do Oncologists need apps?

Apps aren’t just for gamers and hipsters. The technology field has also been busy doing its part to make diagnosing and treating cancer easier for oncologists, patients and researchers. These latest applications can keep tech savvy doctors on top of the latest symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment procedures, and bring peace of mind to patients.

Top 10 apps for Oncologists

We went straight to the source, CancerNetwork.com, home of the journal Oncology, to bring you this list. Here they are, in no particular order. http://www.cancernetwork.com/blog/10-best-oncology-apps

MedPage Today and CollabRx have developed Cancer Rx, “…the first mobile app to aggregate and contextualize the world’s knowledge of genomics-based medicine in oncology.” It is a warehouse of updated information which offers guidance for treatment based on its database of tests and results.

Along similar lines, but not quite as comprehensive, is PubMed on Tap which offers medical resources by accessing the PubMed Central database.

inPractice mobile app lets oncologists access PubMed resources. Clinical trial registry and guidelines to treatment procedures can also be accessed with this app.

Treatment guidelines can be referred to in detail with the help of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network app, available on smartphones and tablets including iPhone and Android. This mobile app ensures effective treatment by helping physicians implement guidelines smoothly.

Information related to medical news, as well as guidelines to be followed during treatment of cancer can also be found on the Medscape app. It has an estimated user base of more than four million in the United States alone.

BrownZine offers a collection of e-journals with articles and references. These can also be downloaded as PDFs. With the help of this app doctors can scan through numerous scholarly papers from a particular educational institution or any other source.

For information on medications, Micromedex Free Drug Reference app is one of the trusted resources for prescription drug reference. Details on medicines such as name, class, side effects, etc., can be found here.

QxMD’s Calculate, where healthcare providers and researchers can search for and find calculations and formulas, is supported on iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry.

To help doctors find out more about secondary ailments cancer patients may be affected with, along with support on how they should be managed, diagnosed, and treated, there are the Johns Hopkins Guides.

Keeping patients up to date in their treatment and surgical procedures is the main objective of the Draw MD app. It allows doctors to visually communicate anatomy, conditions, procedures and concepts with patients to improve understanding, retention and quality of care.

And Last But Not Least…

The app CancerNetwork.com chose as one to watch is OhMD. It provides a platform for oncologists and their patients to communicate through simple and secure texts. It meets the stage 2 messaging criteria and will work on the patient portal in use.

Apps are being developed regularly, many with specialized focus areas to assist physicians in adopting the best treatment procedure for their patients. We are certain that they will continue to be improved upon and we will see new apps being developed as doctors continue to help their patients with their battle against cancer.

If you would like to learn more about this and other digital health topics register for MobCon today.

Photo Credit: agencia_Investigación y Desarrollo via Compfight cc

the physical web

The New Physical Web

October of 2014 was a big month for Technology Announcements. At the pace our industry is moving, every month is a big month for these sorts of announcements. With all the innovation that is going on, it’s easy to miss the minor technologies that could fundamentally change the ways we interact with technology. One of these technologies that is worth a second look is the Physical Web.

Started as a side project out of Google, but run independently from the broader organization, the Physical Web is a set of ideas and standards about how human beings and technology should interact.

The Way It Should Be


Story 1 – Retail
You walk into a Starbucks and on your phone’s lock screen you see a notification: “New Physical Devices Available”. You click on this notification and get a list of interactions available and offered by this store:

  • Jukebox Control – Pick a song from our approved library and add it to the queue
  • Digital Order – Place your order digitally and pay for it using your Starbucks card
  • App of the Day – Download the Starbucks app or song of the day

Each of these interactions are currently available in Starbucks stores around the country (Except Jukebox Control). The way you discover them is through signage and little cards next to the cash register, and through word of mouth. When you discover one of these capabilities, you most often have to search for them via your phone, type in a difficult URL, or scan a QR code.

Each of these interactions create friction for customers today. These experiences aren’t packaged and seamless, and often involve a fair amount of work on the hand of the customers in the form of typing, signing in, download applications, etc.

With the Physical Web, Starbucks would create one or many bluetooth beacons that broadcast the available physical services in a standardized way that phones can recognize and interact with.

This simple ability for my phone to connect me to these services without downloading a location or business specific application, while still protecting my privacy and security would create magical experiences.

Story 2 – Home Control
More and more devices are being connected to the internet every day. From toaster ovens to thermostats, and everything inbetween. Today for each device you add to your home, you need a custom application that speaks a custom protocol.

Tomorrow, after you plug your devices in, they may just show up on your phone automatically. Security will still be a problem that isn’t going away. You will likely need to type in an ID or press a button on your device. Devices would have the flexibility to lock a device to only you, or to share with others in your home, or even visitors. The overall interaction would still be much simpler than what we have today.

How it Works


The idea behind the Physical Web is that instead of all of the custom programming and protocols that have been built up around the Internet of Things, we can return to the same technology that made the web interoperable and standardized, the URL.

By using Beacon technology, homes and stores and offices can setup any number of web-based services that users already know how to interact with. This, combined with the latest and greatest in HTML5-based application development means that we have another solution to the problem of discovery and relevancy.

If a device manufacturer such as Nest wanted to, they could still build and ship a native application. Android has built-in capabilities for native applications to interpret and act on URLs. This would allow them to offer a superior user experience for frequent use cases where discoverability isn’t a problem. The nice thing about the combination of the Physical Web and native applications would be that the Physical Web could help users download and install the right applications.

Google I/O Leak

While this has been a slow sleepy project without a huge pace of innovation, there have been minor leaks that Google I/O this year will be taking advantage of the Physical Web to offer interaction throughout the conference. If this happens, it will likely happen in conjunction with standardized support throughout Android for the Physical Web, so we may be seeing Physical Web devices and services still this year.

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The Importance of Fashion

Fashion and Technology have long been frenemies. For decades, technologists and computer scientists have, in some ways, been shunned by society. It’s only been in the last 10 years or so with the rise of Apple and the consumerization of technology that these worlds have been able to intermingle. This ceasefire was great for consumers and device manufacturers until 2014, but with the explosion of Wearable technologies, fashion is now an integral part of launching a technology product.

When you look at this weeks’ announcement of the Apple Watch, they have effectively launched a single technology product with a number of different fashion choices. Instead of the price being based on the processing power and capability, they are asking users to pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for different looking metals and bands.

Apple Watch Sport

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$349

to

$399

Apple Watch (Standard)

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$549

to

$599

Apple Watch Edition

Apple Watch Edition

$10,000

to

$17,000

 

If you look at the incremental value that each of these pieces of technology provides, the $200 price difference between Sport and Standard upgrades your material from Aluminum to Steel. I firmly believe that if you put a bunch of people in a room without knowledge of the Apple Watch and asked them how much they would pay for their device to be Steel instead of Aluminum, I don’t believe any of them would go as high as $200.

This is the bridge that no other company has been able to make. When Lenovo or Samsung sells a device, they charge higher prices for more CPU speed, higher prices for more RAM, but Apple has cracked the code of getting people to pay more for the fashion and the social statement of a device. This allows Apple to decouple their costs from the price being paid by the users, and will allow them to dramatically increase their profit margins.

Even if they don’t sell more than 1,000 Apple Watch Edition devices, people will be more likely to purchase the Apple Watch Standard because “it’s cheaper”, even though it’s nearly the price of a new phone.


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