Tag Archives: Development

Mobile Game Monetization Methods for Bartle Types: Achieve Exponential Growth Through Social Gaming

The Mystic Media Blog is currently engaged in a series of articles examining each of the Bartle types and how to acquire, retain and monetize them according to their desires. Check out last week’s article on Killers. In this, our concluding article, we will explore Socializers.

Socializers are perhaps the most important Bartle type for generating growth in a userbase. The Internet makes it easier than ever for players to share their experience with other users. Socializers aim to form connections through interactions with other players. Like the Explorer, they are focused on the internal qualities of the world and its inhabitants, while Achievers and Killers treat other users and the world as external objects.

In multiplayer games, Socializers enhance the gaming experience for all of the Bartle types. Achievers see any addition to the userbase as competition,  an elevation of the stakes, enriching their accomplishments. Killers see them as easy prey. Explorers see them as eager to communicate, join and help them on their quests. Socializers see other Socializers as people with whom they can socialize. Thus, Socializers appease all Bartle types and can trigger major growth in the ecosystem.

When developing games, mobile developers are often hampered with budgetary constraints which entail a single-player experience. Some turn-based games are able to counter that norm on a relatively small budget. However, in single-player games, the importance of social integration is absolutely vital in the current app landscape. In a world where Yelp rules and people are bombarded with an inordinate amount of daily advertising, many consumers rely on references from friends, family and trusted content curators to decide what they should pursue. Not only having a social presence, but giving players the opportunity to share in a variety of methods is a tactic which will enrich retainment on not only Socializers, but all of your userbase.

Profile creation satisfies both the Socializers desire to create a persona and connect with other users, while offering opportunities to entice Achievers with an opportunity to share their achievements.

Offering a variety of methods of communication is key to retaining Socializers. A “Social Prod” represents the lowest form of communication, such as the “Poke” button on Facebook, in which one user offers another user the minimum acknowledgement.

A “Brag Button” which allows you to easily shares your score and/or a video of your game to social networks is another method of communication which makes social sharing easy and entices the Achiever to share.

Creating a chat interface will encourage users to communicate with one another and allow them to share in-game secrets. A chat interface can function as a social network or discussion board for your users to congregate. When properly designed, chat interfaces can even help solve some of your customer service problems. Users feel more of a connection to other users, so setting up a kind of mentor system in your game where experienced players are rewarded for helping out newbies can go a long way in enhancing the intimacy of the experience while saving game developers money on maintaining Customer Service.

The presence of both a user’s outside friends playing the game and a community of friends existing within the game validates the game’s role in the user’s life and increases the sense of intimacy in the same way inside jokes with friends do.

Social Treasures are game items which a user can only get from another player. Candy Crush limits daily play, but lets players give their friends lives which enable them to play for longer as social treasure. Strategies like Social Treasure create a courtesy economy which encourages users to get their friends to play.

Rewarded Social Sharing gives users in-game currency or bonus items in exchange for sharing the game or their high score on social media, a method for encouraging sharing while also potentially previewing in-game in-app purchases.

Via Game Development Stack Exchange

Leaderboards factor into a number of single player games as the primary form of social integration, but Leaderboards can be intimidating and useless to new users when experienced players lord over the top ten spots and don’t give up. Offering a micro-leaderboard for in-game or social friends and/or monthly leaderboards will ensure new users are actually encouraged to become competitive through leaderboards and don’t feel left out.

When it comes to monetization, Socializers are best used as a tool to grow a userbase and thus enhance competition, increasing advertising and in-app purchases. Each of the above tactics applies to monetization in the sense that social sharing is in itself a currency. Freemium games can offer subscription-based online integration with a monthly fee.

Erwin Andreasen and Brandon Downey created the “Bartle Test” without collaboration or input from Richard Bartle. The test classifies users with a “Bartle Quotient.” The Bartle Quotient is calculated based on answers to a series of 30 random questions and totals 200% across all categories, with no single category exceeding 100%. So you can be 100% Socializer, 50% Explorer, 30% Achiever and 20% Killer. In other words, each of the Bartle types represents an urge within the gamer, but no gamer is 100% one of those categories.

Everyone has an Achiever, Explorer, Killer and Socializer in them. By isolating each archetype and analyzing their behavior, game designers can ensure they are making fully-formed, well-rounded games with a variety of appeal. And any mobile app developer will tell you the best monetization method is a well-built app.

Mobile Game Monetization Methods for Bartle Types: Make Bank off Killer Gameplay

The Mystic Media Blog is currently engaged in a series of articles examining each of the Bartle types and how to acquire, retain and monetize them according to their desires. Check out last week’s article on Explorers.

Bartle Types Taxonomy Via Extra Credits

The Killer is the wild card of the Bartle Types. While both Achievers and Killers are competitive,  Achievers compete with/through the game, whereas Killers compete with anyone or anything in their immediate vicinity. The Achiever wants to act upon the game according to the rules of gameplay, while the Killer just wants an immediate thrill. They derive pleasure from interfering with the functioning of the gameplay and/or the experience of other players. Like Internet “trolls”, Killers gleefully enact subversive behavior under the guise of their game persona. They aren’t interested in winning, socializing or exploring – they just want to provoke and impose themselves on the virtual world and its inhabitants.

Killers thrive on the experience of disrupting gameplay. Achievers represent the ultimate target since they are most antagonized by being killed. As a result, in multiplayer games, the more Achievers you have, the more Killers you’ll have, which may lead to a decrease in Achievers and overflow of Killers depending on the level of engagement of the gameplay. Explorers also represent easy prey for Killers, and if there are too many high level Killers, it may become hard for Explorers to explore. Socializers also make an appealing target for Killers in multiplayer games. Like Socializers, Killers are interested in interaction and influence. Some of the same retention tactics apply to both Bartle Types.

The best way to retain Killers is to give them opportunities to disrupt other players or the world of the game. In MMORPGs and shooters, it’s easy for them to find other players to kill. The challenge in single player games (especially single player mobile games) is how to appeal to a Bartle type that thrives on interaction. For one, Killers aren’t just into killing. Interfering with elements of the world will also appeal to them. For instance, if there are elements of the game world, such as crates or trees, which the user can crash into and destroy, it offers the same immediate thrill of interference as player elimination.

Games get creative to offer opportunities for world interaction. In The Legend of Zelda, beyond combat with enemies, Link can also famously antogonize “cuccos”, an element of the world. In Grand Theft Auto V, the ultimate game/franchise for Killers, users can not only kill civilians, but can bump into them for a humorous disruption. Offering cheat codes in single player games represents an opportunity for the Killer to expose and modify the game engine on the game developer’s terms. Pokemon GO employs battles in Pokegyms. Games like Candy Crush give Killers the thrill of destroying parts of the world. Killers love explosions. Giving them a tangible goal, like specific collectibles or targets that generate explosive reactions, will go a long way in retaining their interest.

In order for a Killer to spend money on a game, they must be engaged by the gameplay. Killers are looking for a specific type of satisfaction, a kind of schadenfreude. Retention methods are key since if a Killer doesn’t get satisfaction, they’ll move on quickly to something more immediate. Offering alternate game modes, such as low-gravity or disco mode, may entice Killers’ desire to subvert the game world. In multi-player games, extra weapons, stealth and any advantage in the killing department may tempt Killers to purchase if they are invested in the game.

As with appealing to any Bartle Type, everything begins with engaging gameplay. Thinking of these player types during the process of development will enrich your techniques and ultimately your final product.

Next week, in the final article of our series on Bartle Types, we’ll take a look at Socializers and the best methods for attaining, retaining and monetizing them.

Get Fluent in IoT: Top Programming Languages for the Internet of Things

As we explored in our previous blog, the Internet of Things is shaping our future. With Internet of Things development on the rise and potentially $11.1 trillion in economic value generated per year due to IoT, many companies are creating strategies to develop for the platform.

To all the decision-makers out there looking to develop for the loT platform, getting familiar with the programming languages and how they relate to the platform will have a major impact on the budget and quality of any given IoT project. IEEE, the largest technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for human benefit, recently ranked the top programming languages of 2015. Bearing in mind embedded devices present their own programming difficulties, here are the top programming languages for the IoT:

Java: James Gosling, Mike Sheridan, and Patrick Naughton began developing the Java language project in June 1991. Java has become the most popular programming language and many choose Java when developing for IoT. Java is an object-oriented language designed for portability. With few hardware dependencies, Java is a great choice from an economic standpoint. Java code can be transmitted to multiple platforms and hardware-support libraries give Java developers the ability to control specific pieces of hardware. Developing for Java can be deterred by the hardware-support libraries available for control functions.

Python: In December 1989, implementation of Python began. Designed by Guido van Rossum, Python is a multi-paradigm programming language which has become one of the go-to languages for web developers. Python’s flexibility and emphasis on readability have caused it to rise in the ranks of top languages used for embedded control and IoT. Readability increases workflow as programmers who have attempted to decipher other programmer’s optimized C code would know.

C: With development beginning in 1972 on the PDP-11 Unix system, C is one of the most popular programming languages. C has influenced many languages, including C++, Go, Java, JavaScript, & Python. Due to its long history, C functions as a common language for many software developers. C’s popularity and lack of built-in hardware bias toward a graphical interface make it a good choice for IoT development.

C++: Created in 1979 by Danish computer scientist Bjarne Stroustrup, C++ was designed as an object-oriented pre-processor for C, keeping the spare nature of the language but adding data abstraction, classes and objects. C++ is commonly used to write embedded and IoT code for Linux systems.

Assembler: Assembler is the simplest method intended to keep projects as compact as possible. Assembler is a low-level language which maintains a high correspondence between language and the hardware’s machine code instructions. Assembler minimizes overhead, making a popular choice despite how it doesn’t allow a safety net. Silly mistakes are easy to make and some hardcore programmers may be frustrated by its simplicity.

Go: Announced by Google in 2009, Go is an open-source, embedded-specific programming language gaining traction in the IoT world. Go supports concurrent input, output, and process different channels, an asset to gathering data from and sending data to separate sensors. Go was created in the tradition of C, but with specific changes to make it simpler, safer & more concise.

ParaSail: ParaSail was created in 2009 as an embedded-specific language. ParaSail stands for Parallel Specification and Implementation Language. ParaSail was created to support safe, secure, highly parallel applications which can be mapped to multicore, many core, heterogenous, or distributed architecture.

Choosing the right programming language will have a major impact on the budget and functionality of any IoT project. Doing the proper research on the subject will pay off in the long run. Stay tuned for more blogs on this subject and learn more about best IoT development practices via this awesome article by InformationWeek. 

Keep Your Competitors Close: How to Leverage the Power of ASO to Crush Your Competition

At Mystic Media, we’re no strangers to App Store Optimization. Every app development project we take on has its specific ASO challenges. ASO remains one of the most vital processes in the marketing process. We’ve detailed our knowledge in our six part ASO series where we explored techniques for the ASO Basics, Title and Keywords, Increasing Downloads and Ratings, Getting Featured on the App Store, Differentiating between Apple and Google Play App Stores, and Changing Your Title.

In this article, we’ll detail how to get the most from researching your competitors, what to look for, and how to go about maximizing your analysis.

As with any aspect of marketing, understanding your competitors is vital to finding a search opening in the app store for an app. The app store allows for anyone to do detailed research on competing apps. Simply search the keywords you’ve selected for your app in app stores in order to find primary competitors.

It’s easy to see which app competitors come up in search results; however, it’s important to differentiate between which apps are significant and which have no competitive value. An old sub-par app may rank high in the app store, but it’s not in-competition with a well-designed app. Understanding the value of competing apps will allow you to narrow the list your true competition.

The following factors are vital in appraising the value of a competitor:

The app’s last update: Apps that are not generating revenue will not be updated frequently as it’s a futile endeavor. If a competing app hasn’t had any recent updates, it’s safe to deem them an irrelevant competitor.

App launch date: The app launch date not only dictates whether the app is still active, it informs you as to whether it’s ranking in the search results is being boosted by the “new app” factor. Apps get a boost in downloads and ASO at their launch. If the app has been around for a month or two and retains its ranking, then it’s definitely a competitor worth researching.

Amount of reviews since last update: With iOS apps, the reviews an app receives lose value after an update. This makes for hesitation every time an iOS developer decides to update their app. Evaluating the amount of downloads and reviews since the previous update will also give insight into the amount of traffic being generated by the keywords used.

Other factors include: The publisher of the app, the average user rating, the keywords targeted in the title, and what other keywords the app is emphasizing.

Subscribe to Gabriel Machuret’s Youtube channel for a bunch of awesome videos containing information on how to increase an app’s ASO ranking:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG6A0qWOOJ0fGfzW48KCcXw

Here’s one on the best ASO tools available to developers:

When you’ve identified the apps with which your app is in direct competition, you can begin to analyze their strategy and decide what techniques you wish to emulate and where you might be able to counter them. This takes consistent monitoring of what techniques the app developers are using to improve their app’s ranking. Analyzing what demographics competing apps are targeting will help define where there might be an opening for your app to appeal to an audience. Knowing what share of the revenue competing apps have will give insight into which app store an app might appeal to (perhaps a competitor has Google Play locked down, in which case one would focus their energies on the Apple App Store.)

Tools such as App Annie,  Mop App, and more give app developers and marketers a time-efficient way of attaining the analysis they need to understand their competitors and adjust their strategy accordingly.

ASO is a thorough process with many ins and outs. Understanding both your competition and how each of the app stores rank apps in search results requires both experience and a great deal of research. Using the techniques given in this article, in conjunction with those outlined in our six-part ASO series and a well-designed app, you will be able to conquer your competition in the app store and rise to the top of search results.

Mobile Game Developers Rejoice: Apple Increases App Store Size Limit to 4 GB

Apple recently announced they would increase the size limit of mobile app packages on the Apple App Store from 2 GB to 4 GB.

They experimented first by releasing Disney Infinity: Toy Box 2.0 for free in late January. Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 is a gaming app developed using Metal. The app is similar to Minecraft in the way it allows players to create their own world using pre-made characters. It weighs in at a massive 3.8 GB when downloaded from the App Store. The additional space is utilized in the expansion of their cast of characters. Disney Infinity Toy Box 2.0 features not only Disney characters, but many superheroes from the Marvel universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Incredibles.

Check out this awesome iOS preview of the game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sm7iF5l-ZcA

Although the app is available for free on iTunes, in-app purchases start at $0.99 and reach as high as $59.99. Only three characters are available for free. These free characters rotate, giving users a taste of what they are missing, as well as reason to keep checking the app. The rest of the characters can be purchased in stores like Best Buy, Walmart, etc. It is sure to be a profitable endeavor given the pre-existing fan-bases of the many characters in the mobile game.

The Apple App Store’s increased app size limit will most certainly bring about an influx of large-scale apps like the Disney Infinity Toy Box, although one thing hasn’t changed: apps which are being downloaded by a cellular network still have a 100 MB size limit. Apps above 100 MB must be downloaded using a Wi-Fi network.

While there are obvious advantages to giving users the ability to download an app wherever they have cellular service, large-scale apps are often less dependent on impulse downloads. Many developers will no doubt be excited to put the new limit to work via higher quality graphics and longer games.

The move seems consistent with Apple’s strategy of making the development process easier for app developers. Last year, Apple released Swift (for information on Swift, check out our previous post: Swift Execution: Apple’s New Programming Language Shakes Up Tech Community) and  Metal, a low-level, low-overhead graphics API which we wrote about when it debuted with iOS 8 in our post Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition. Both releases, along with the increased app size limit, seem to be power moves dedicated to drawing more developers to the iOS platform.

As we detailed in App Store Optimization Part 5: Key Differences Between Apple Vs. Google Play App Stores, the main difference between the Apple App Store and Google Play is Apple’s emphasis on curation. Although good ASO processes for the Apple App Store are shrouded in secrecy, it’s known that Apple focuses on promoting discovery through curation. Apple requires all apps to be approved by their team of curators before allowing them to be displayed in the App Store. Increasing the app size limit gives developers the freedom to create more intricate, high-production value games for the Apple App Store curators to promote.

If there’s one broad conclusion to be drawn from the move, it’s that mobile gaming is evolving, and Apple wants to spearhead the movement.

Mystic Media is an iOS and Android app development, web design, and strategic marketing firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Apple Vs. Google: Who Will Win 2015?

With 2015 off to the races, we take a look ahead at what’s in store for the top tech companies this year.

APPLE

They say it’s not over until it’s over, however, Apple, the biggest tech powerhouse in the world, is unmerciful. Apple announced the first week of January broke their record for weekly billings with over half a billion dollars spent in the App Store on apps and in-app purchases.

2014 was a huge year for Apple. They released the iPhone 6, iOS 8, OS Yosemite, and, perhaps most important when we look forward at the coming year, Swift, a programming language designed specifically for iOS.

As we detailed previously in our article Swift Execution, Swift is the most beginner-friendly programming language and, as is custom with Apple products, received widespread adoption both by developers and tech curriculums. 2015 will be the year we see the beginnings of Swift’s impact and what developers are capable of doing using the language.

On the hardware side of things, there are rumors Apple will release a larger-screened iPad, a retina-displayed MacBook Air, and even potentially a new model of iPhone; however, one product is for sure: Apple Watch.

Apple Watch represents the first new Apple product since the iPad. It’s their first foray into wearables, along with the first wearable device expected to receive widespread adoption. We will cover this subject in-depth next week when we explore wearables. For now, what matters is that surveys say 18% of iPhone 6 owners will definitely buy the Apple Watch when it’s released, a number which will grow when the functionality of the device is better known. Shipments were recently announced to begin in April.

If any of this is any indication, 2015 will be a great year for Apple. It’s going to be tough for the competition to keep up.

GOOGLE

Google has its work cut out for them. Expect the release of a new OS, however, it’s more likely it will be an update for Lollipop than a major upgrade considering the impact of material design.

One of the big projects Google has coming in some form in 2015 is Project Ara, a product development concept in which the owner of a smartphone can upgrade specific parts of the phone, such as the camera, or processor. PC Advisor likens it to Legos. Although there’s no set release date, Google has said they plan on introducing in some stage in 2015.

Google recently announced they are pulling Google Glass from the market in its current form. While many are trying to spin this into a failure (specifically this hilarious C-NET article), Google insists the withdrawal is actually the next step of the Google Glass program. They have held steady Google Glass was in a beta stage are still developing the product. One cannot deny the potential impact of a year’s worth of usage on the research process. Though no official date has been released, the new product will likely compete with the Apple Watch either later this year, or early next year.

Aside from Project Ara and Google Glass, expect new Android TV, Android Auto, and Android Wear. Android TV, announced last year at Google I/O, will bring all the apps connected to Android smartphones and tablets and bring them to the TV platform.

Android Wear will likely expand to support more devices and become more widely-adopted when Apple Watch releases.

Overall, unless the Apple Watch release proves to be a major failure, it’s unlikely Google will overcome Apple in the mobile hardware and software department. With widespread adoption of wearables looming, it’s going to be a very exciting year for technology.

Mystic Media is an iOS and Android application development, web design, and strategic marketing firm. Please take a moment to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Contact us today by clicking here, or by phone at 801.994.6815

How Material Design Redefined Android App Aesthetics

In the ongoing war of the operating systems, the front-runners are undeniably iOS and Android. As we detailed in our Android L Vs. iOS 8 article, Apple took the latest battle; however, Android Lollipop represents a major step forward for the platform as it introduced the aesthetic concept of Material Design. We’ve covered the principles of flat design in Impervious Appeal: How to Design Jaw-Dropping iOS Apps, but we’ve never gone in-depth on Material Design because it’s fairly complicated. In this article, we’ll detail what Material Design is and why it represents a huge step forward for app design aesthetics.

What is Material Design? It defies a simple explanation. It is similar to flat design in that it emphasizes negative space, bright color schemes, and an emphasis on intuitive UI. Material Design differs from flat design in the way in which it evolves the concept.

Material Design takes the visual aesthetic of flat design and asks the developer to create a realistic digital world with physical rules within the UI. Material Design offers designers the help of two skeuomorphic concepts: depth and shadow.

Depth and shadow both play a big part in how the user interprets what’s clickable and what’s not. The buttons themselves interact with the touch. The whole concept plays off our ability as humans to recognize depth and perceive information hierarchies organized in the dimension of depth.

Below is a great video featuring Material Design in practice.

UI designers love Material Design because the addition of depth and shadow gives them more tools to convey purpose, meaning and order. It effectively evolves the concept of flat design. Grace LaRosa, senior experience designer at R/GA, said to VentureBeat:

“What’s newest and most of note, in my opinion, is how well documented and systematic the language is. After a long era of designers and developers creating Android experiences that often feel renegade or pieced together, Google have undoubtedly stepped up their efforts to standardize and improve the UI and UX across their app ecosystem.”

The problem with Material Design lies not to its aesthetic concepts, but the practicality of executing it within the Android platform. Android allows third-party companies to create hardware based in the OS, which creates device fragmentation. Not all Android devices run on the latest OS (Lollipop), in fact, some devices go back as far as four previous versions of the Android OS. Due to this vast discontinuity in Android devices, the adoption of material design will likely be a gradual, unlike the nearly instantaneous switch to the latest OS and OS aesthetics for iOS users.

As Grace LaRosa said above, Material Design does set-up a standardized UI/UX for Android developers to use across the app ecosystem, which will hopefully bring about more unity on the platform. Material Design is thus only a part of the solution to the problem which will ultimately limit its impact. It is designed to make for more consistent UI/UX across Android apps, but it won’t be adopted uniformly and thus won’t  single-handedly be able to transcend the device inconsistency in order to solve the unity problem.

Jon Wiley, one of the creators of Material Design, recently said in an AMA:

“I think a big challenge with Google Search in terms of experience is that it has often felt like a series of jump cuts in what is actually continuous. Material design gives us a framework we can use to do something closer to a scene change in a play, continuously moving from one state to the next. This can make it feel much faster and can also provide cues as to what happened when you touched something in the UI. It’s another step towards removing any speed bumps along the way to getting a good answer.”

Interesting to note that both iOS and Android seem to be striving for a more fluid sense of continuity in improving their platforms. For iOS, it’s functional device continuity, for Android, it’s aesthetic UX continuity.

Ultimately, it seems likely Apple will leapfrog past Android by building upon (or conforming to) the Material Design aesthetics in an upcoming iOS, which will then receive mass adoption as is the precedent with Apple OS’s.

For more information on Material Design, check out these awesome, in-depth videos from Google I/O 2014: Material Witness: How Android Material Applications Work and Material Design in Google Play.

At Mystic Media, we’re constantly engaged in various app design projects. Our expertise reaches across all facets of the industry, be it iOS design, Android design, web design, strategic marketing and more. Contact us today by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

How Sharing Economy Apps and Collaborative Consumption May Reshape the Future of Business

In recent years, the tech community has seen a surge in popularity of apps which utilize the latest technology to link supply and demand in previously impossible ways. These apps have been deemed “Sharing Economy” apps and are shaking up not only the tech sphere, but the verticals in which each app operates. In an article at Forbes, Joe Kraus (a general partner at Google) says: “The sharing economy is a real trend. I don’t think this is some small blip.”

Previously, if you needed a taxi in the city, you would have to either wave one down or call a taxi company. Now with Uber, not only is a certified driver a tap away: payment is paperless, you can rate your driver, track his progress to your pick-up location in real-time, and, on top of all that, you can DJ your ride using Spotify.

Uber is among the most popular and successful sharing economy apps. It recently received a $1.2 billion investment and is currently valued at $17 billion. As astonishing as these numbers are, Uber gets even more shocking upon closer examination. Uber revenue is doubling every six months. That revenue is coming primarily from only five cities in which the app is well-established. Uber has been introduced in 125 additional cities where it hopes to develop into a mature business.

Only four years after its launch, Uber has made a major impact in public transportation and has incited widespread protests both internally from it’s workers and externally from taxi drivers. While the exceptional growth of the company has caused controversy, one thing is for sure: users love it.

Like Uber, Airbnb is also among the leading sharing economy apps. Airbnb connects tourists who need a place to stay and locals with extra rooms. Airbnb not only cuts out the middleman of hotels, it also encourages the formation of connections. The idea of Airbnb creating a community is a major part of their marketing strategy.

Airbnb recently received a $13 billion valuation, making it the second most valuable private company in the Silicon Valley to Uber. Airbnb has also received it’s share of controversy. New York is a hotbed for both Airbnb users and residents frustrated with the patrons of the new service. San Francisco also represents a major beacon of Airbnb usage. SF mayor Ed Lee recently signed legislation which made short term rentals of 30 days or less legal with a 14.5 percent hotel tax.

While both Uber and Airbnb are among the fastest growing companies in the nation, The New York Times recently argued that the one thing they have in common is the willingness to take risks. The same article claims Uber employed a surge of drivers in their rise to prominence and asked them to push any damage claims through their personal insurance companies despite the fact that most personal insurance companies don’t cover commercial activity.

Airbnb recently announced they will offer free $1 million liability coverage for its tens of thousands of US listings in 2015; however, this insurance will be secondary. Like Uber, Airbnb expects hosts to go through their personal insurance companies first.

Airbnb and Uber aren’t the only sharing economy apps on the rise. In fact, there’s been a massive flood of sharing economy apps pushing “collaborative consumption.” Chegg allows students to rent or buy college textbooks on the cheap. Lyft, an alternative to Uber, is described by co-founder John Zimmer as: “Your friend with a car on demand.” ParkAtMyHouse.com allows people in the UK to rent out parking spaces in their driveways. Getaround allows you to search for cars in your area which you can rent hourly or daily. Timebanks allows users to trade an hour of work in their specialty for an hour of work in another’s specialty. In other words, a cook can trade an hour of cooking to a plumber for an hour of plumbing.

These sharing economy apps all run with varying levels of success, but the underlying idea of “collaborative consumption” is what has tech gurus inspired. Collaborative consumption is how each of these apps works. According to Greenopedia, collaborative consumption is: “a global concept that involves sharing, bartering, lending, trading, renting, gifting, and swapping goods instead of buying them.” It’s disruptive to the standard business model of supply and demand.

The ideology behind the sharing economy and collaborative consumption is potentially revolutionary—especially as sustainability continues to rise in prominence as a global issue. It conveniently connects consumers to what they desire on the cheap, cutting out the middleman. Rachel Botsman claims it leverages technology to allow us to interact and transact in a way which is more natural to our species. It creates an economy of trust. And as evidenced by Uber and Airbnb, if one can find the right niche, it can also mean big business.

For more on Sharing Economy apps and the idea of “collaborative consumption,” check out these incredibly insightful 2010 and 2012 Ted Talks by Rachel Botsman.

At Mystic Media, we are constantly on the lookout for the next big vertical. We’re experts in all things web, mobile, application, social media and marketing. To learn more about our services, contact us today by clicking here, or by phone at 801.994.6815

Swift Execution: Apple’s New Programming Language Shakes Up Tech Community

In July 2010, Chris Lattner, at the time a Senior Manager and Architect for Apple, began working on a brand new programming language. He developed it at night and on weekends and told no one, not even his closest friends and colleagues. After a year and a half, he had outlined the basics of the new language and proceeded to reveal his creation to the top executives at Apple. Initially impressed, they gave him a few seasoned engineers to help on the project. After 18 months, it became a “major focus” for the company with a huge team of developers working with Lattner. Little did Lattner know in July 2010, he had begun a project which would potentially change the world of app development.

Swift is Lattner’s creation: a new programming language developed and marketed by Apple designed specifically for iOS and OS X development. Companies have created programming languages before, such as Go, a language created by legendary designers Ken Thompson and Rob Pike for Google, but Swift is a different beast. Wired says “[Swift] could achieve mass adoption with unprecedented speed.”

What exactly makes Swift so groundbreaking? For one, it’s designed specifically for iOS. App developers are constantly designing apps for Apple products, be it iPhones, iPads or MacBooks. Apple is at the forefront of the tech revolution and every year pushes the industry forward into the future. Swift offers a language which caters directly to iOS and OS X development. It will soon become the premiere language on which to develop iOS and OS X apps.

Swift is also more approachable than previous counterparts. “It’s more of a helpful language. It understands what you’re doing a little bit better and allows the computer to help you figure it out a bit better,” says Mike Ash, a programmer for Plausible Labs, in Wired. Swift hopes to appeal to the average programmer and make the process of coding not only easier, but more interactive.

One of the most innovative and exciting features in Swift is PLAYGROUND. Playground allows developers to code on one side of their computer screen, while watching the results appear on the other side. It makes coding not only more fun, but more interactive.  At the Apple World Wide Developers Conference, Lattner demonstrated the feature by making real-time changes to an animated circus game while the crowd watched.

Check out the video of Lattner’s demonstration via YouTube. (Note: the video opens with Apple’s initial introduction of Swift featuring a bunch of great, specific info for iOS developers. Lattner’s presentation begins at 3:30).

Playground was designed with the hopes that “By making programming more approachable and fun, we’ll appeal to the next generation of programmers and to help redefine how Computer Science is taught.” says Lattner on his homepage. Objective-C forced developers to wait for their project to compile and run before allowing them to test any code changes, a time-consuming process. The instant feedback of Playgrounds makes the process of coding less daunting and more fun for neophytes.

Swift aims to replace Objective-C, which is the most prominent coding language (and will remain so until Swift [presumably] seizes the crown). Swift doesn’t aim to replace Objective-C off the bat. As mentioned in the Apple Developers Conference, Swift can work concurrently with Objective-C to fit into an app originally developed using Objective-C, however, the hope is that when Swift gains popularity Objective-C will become obsolete for iOS Developers.

Objective-C and Swift are different in a number of ways. As we’ve discussed, Swift is more accessible to new developers. The abbreviated syntax makes for easier and more intuitive coding, at the expense of being less verbose (easy to read) than Objective-C. Switching over to Swift, experienced developers will have a bit of an adjustment period before they can read it with ease, but it’s a minor set-back considering Swift’s potential impact on the developer community.

For more on the differences between Objective-C and Swift, check out this awesome run-down via fastcolabs.com

While only time will tell what Swift’s ultimate legacy in the developer world will be, the immediate impact is undeniable. Swift has already been thrust into computer science curriculums across the country. The interactivity in the app development process created by Playgrounds makes coding more accessible and will surely draw a lot more people into app development. The big question is whether Swift will convince non-Apple developers to migrate.

For more first-party information on Swift, check out Apple’s Swift Developer Guide. Also, stay informed on the latest updates by checking Apple’s Swift Blog.

Mystic Media is an app development and marketing firm with vast experience in iOS and Android application development. Learn more by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815

Climbing Yosemite: Apple’s New OS Reaches New Heights

Apple recently released the long awaited OS X Yosemite. In Bite the Apple: Maximize iOS 8 to Vanquish Your Competition  and Tilting the Playing Field: iPhone 6 Technology Expands Possibilities for iOS App Developers, we covered  some of the highly-anticipated features in Yosemite, including a host of opportunities for cross-device Continuity. This week, we take an in-depth look at OS X  Yosemite and what it means for developers.

AESTHETICS

You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but when it comes to operating systems, aesthetics matter (check out our article Impervious Appeal: How to Design Jaw-Dropping iOS Apps). Yosemite’s UI remains consistent with Apple aesthetics and makes an effort to push the concept of flat design further. It’s even more minimal; the icons are flatter; the windows are more translucent. A great example of the evolution from Mavericks to Yosemite is a comparison between their Calendar icons:

Yosemite Calendar Icon

Mavericks Calender Icon

 

 

(left is Yosemite, right is Mavericks)

via Apple Developer Library

Whereas Mavericks had a more skeuomorphic design on its Calendar icon, Yosemite is flat. The texture seems impossibly smooth. There’s a minor depth and shadow, but no effort to enumerate the pages, nor a two-hole binder holding the pages together. The Yosemite icon represents the calendar as a digital block. The colors are brighter and the text is crisper and more symmetrical throughout the Yosemite UI. The font is an optimized version of Helvetica Neue used throughout Yosemite, a big switch over from Lucida Grande of the past. Developers, take note and utilize these aesthetics to create apps which integrate seamlessly into the Yosemite environment.

SWIFT

iOS 8 and the iPhone 6 arrived with Metal, a graphics layer for iOS development. Yosemite launches with Swift, a multi-paradigm, compiled programming language optimized for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite app design. Swift has been in development over the past four years and may replace Objective-C as the main language for app design on Apple’s OS X and iOS platforms. Several apps have already been built with Swift, including LinkedIn and Yahoo Weather.

Programmers, learn more about Swift over at The Guardian.

CONTINUITY

OS X Yosemite begins Apple’s push toward complete device Continuity. The concept of Continuity entails one should be able to switch devices and complete the same tasks on any Apple device without hassle. So if I’m writing an email on my MacBook, I should be able to go into another room and seamlessly finish it on my iPad without having to save or close the message. One of the simpler, but more effective ways in which Apple introduces this concept is allowing users to answer calls on their MacBooks when their phones are within a certain radius.

Another major push for Continuity in Yosemite is the Instant Hotspot feature. Instant Hotspot allows MacBooks to connect with the cellular network on their iPhones when no other Wi-Fi network is available. It also conveniently shuts down inactive iPhones when in-use. The big advancement for Continuity, however, is the application Handoff.

Handoff is among the most exciting new features of Yosemite and the major aspect of Apple’s push for Continuity. Once you get through the confusing set-up, Handoff proves to be a practical application of the concept. When you’re working on a task on your MacBook, an icon appears on your iPhone/iPad lock screen which allows you to immediately pick up whatever task you were working on using the MacBook without losing a beat. It also works the other way, with the Handoff icon appearing to the left of the Dock on your MacBook when you’re switching over from an iPhone/iPad. With Continuity, devices are constantly communicating to better serve the user. Continuity represents a major advancement designed to get users completely consumed in the world of Apple devices. Although Handoff has its kinks, it effectively executes the Continuity concept and ultimately proves to be the biggest, most exciting advancement in OS X Yosemite.

CONCLUSION

Overall, OS X Yosemite is a major step forward for Apple products and aesthetics. It retains a cool look, intuitive functionality, and its steps toward complete device Continuity are clearly indicative of technology of the future. Apple has already put together a featured list on their App Store of Great Apps for OS X Yosemite, it will be exciting to see how app developers follow Apple’s lead and take advantage of the latest OS to enhance their apps.

Mystic Media is an app development and marketing firm specializing in both iOS & Android development, and more. Learn more by clicking here or by phone at 801.994.6815.