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Voice activated digital components (AKA – digital assistants)

Voice activated digital components (AKA – digital assistants)

The recent developments in voice activated technologies have opened the door for explosive growth in the realm of digital interaction between humans and machines. Technology platforms across the board have embraced user control activated by voice commands. Individuals can ask their phone any question and a response will be given. The voice recognition by the operating system is as valid a command input as that from a computer keyboard. These developments created the birth of the ‘digital assistant.’

With the sound of your voice, random data can be searched, reminders can be given about certain events on your mobile calendar, requests become completed actions. Convenience for the user plays a huge factor: it is easier to talk to your phone than to type on it.

The range and depth of these computer responses are impressive. Joe Hindy, The Android App Guy on Youtube, posted an interesting side-by-side comparison of three frontline voice activated platforms – Siri, Google Now, and Cortana. It’s not a perfect demonstration, but it clearly demonstrates how the competing products perform.

Siri

When Siri was introduced in 2011 on the iPhone 4S, it was a sensation.  Back then, PCMag described this new technology “Siri is a speech-recognition computer application. It has both speech input and output, meaning you can speak to it, and it can speak back to you.”  Prior to Siri being introduced as part of the operating system, a voice-activated app was available at the Apple App Store. The technologies were focused on a specific market share, those who may have had difficulties working with a smartphone. The function was similar to Siri but had nowhere near the capabilities of the current Siri. That company was acquired by Apple, and the mobile app was pulled from the App Store. Later, that same technology emerged as the Apple tool we now call “Siri.” It was a cool new addition that Apple built into its iPhones. From then on, it has become a staple of the iPhone user experience.

Google Now

In 2013, Google Now was created.  This program is Google’s answer to the virtual assistant. Google Now “can answer questions like Siri and search the web, but more importantly, it cannot only assist, but pre-empt your requirements using your calendar, email, historic behaviours, and location.” quoted from Koozai.com. Google Now is like an upgraded version of Siri.

Cortana

In 2014, Cortana for Windows Phone 8.1 was introduced.  Cortana is a Halo-inspired personal assistant.  It is Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now.  What started for the Windows Phone is now on every desktop using the Windows 10 operating system.  “Cortana is powered by Bing, and can perform many of the functions one has come to expect from artificial intelligence-style assistants, such as setting reminders and powering vocal updates to one’s calendar” – CNET.

Amazon Echo

Also, in 2014 was the unveiling of Amazon Echo.  Amazon Echo is an at the home tower and  “lives as a piece of hardware, not just a layer of software available through a mobile device. It has built-in speakers and lets users sample and purchase music as well as stream that music on demand,” according to CNET.  Amazon is trying to make a statement with Echo by offering this virtual personal assistant.

“A June 2014 study by Thrive Analytics found that over half of US adult smartphone users (56%)” use their voice-activated assistants. – Emarketer.

The Future is Now

Millennials will continue to drive the use of virtual personal assistants and will be the deciding factor on whether this trend will stick or be a bust. The digital stage has been set to respond to the sound of our voice. Interaction with a digital assistant is now part of our daily routine. How that interaction is crafted will depend upon the minds of the users and dreams of mobile app developers.

Protect your brand identity

Protect your brand identity

Your brand is the most important asset your corporation possesses. More than money, more than real estate, more than anything – if your consumers cannot identify, define, or respect you, you are dead in the water. Protecting that brand is critical to every interface your organization faces. A brand defines your values, creates an emotional bond between yourself and your customer, and it is the anchor upon which you stand every single moment.

A plethora of voices

Anyone can jump on social media to criticize your products and brand. They can write a blog posting that ranks higher in Google’s search results than you’d like. Control has left the hands of the marketer. The issue is multiplied in the service industry, where review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Angie’s List – all designed to improve customer experience – can seriously threaten your brand’s credibility and identity.

The consumer has a direct voice to connect quality to value. Now branding efforts must address both macro and micromanagement strategies. Companies must be responsive to individual voices of dissatisfied consumers while focusing resources toward broader quality efforts and branding.

This is the price of doing business. Rightfully so, consumers can now put their mouth where their money is. The business community must do the same.

What can you do?

Successful companies leverage positive reviews into word-of-mouth advertising. This remains the single most effective type of advertising today.

If your company is being battered with negative reviews, what can you do? Here are a few ideas to start:

  • Find them. Use focused social media searches to discover what consumers are saying about your company. 
  • Respond diligently. Once you’ve found complaints, don’t just dismiss them. These reviews are actively read by consumers. Consumers are often more likely to embrace a review than an advertisement.  Respond to the feedback openly and solve the issue. Deal with it.
  • Improve. Don’t just make empty promises. Empty lip-service is the worst response you can provide to a complaint. If you have an issue, deal with it. If you get called on the carpet because of poor service – deal with it. If the customer is upset – deal with it. Don’t dismiss the complaint, resolve the issue. Even if it costs you a few dollars and a bit of time – solve the problem. At this point, damage from the mismanagement of a complaint only escalates.
  • Grow from your mistakes. Learn what the consumer wants. It’s that simple.
  • Take feedback. Make this an opportunity to improve your brand – your customers will thank you for it.

Contact Colure’s marketing team. Discover the art of crisis management. Learn from a team that can help you properly manage your corporate image.

Project management is critical for mobile app development

Project management is critical for mobile app development

How do you develop a simple idea into a fully functional mobile app? The answer is quite simple – solid project management. Many individuals have ideas for an app, but not many invest the needed focus, time, and effort to bring the idea to maturity. Along with your vision, you’ll need an experienced project manager and development team who can help you avoid the pitfalls often associated with a new project.

Project management ideas:
  • Be sure that you are fulfilling a real need. This need could be a totally new idea you create or you could be advancing an existing idea. No matter the origin, be sure that your app actually has a valid purpose. Make sure that it actually does something.
  • Allow your idea to mature. Anyone can place a half-baked app into the market. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘rushing for sake of rushing.’ Time is critical for the maturity of ideas and growth.
  • Take off your blinders. One of the most difficult moments in project development is when you concede that someone outside of your ‘camp’ may have a better idea than yourself. Yes, you too may have a solid idea, but always be ready to listen to the perspective of others. They just might possess a wealth of knowledge from years of experience or education. Take the time to listen with a level head. The viewpoint offered by those outside of your project can often see past your own biasses. Just because you came up with an idea does not mean that your idea will always the best. Each project manager needs to appreciate their own limits. A responsible project manager knows when to check their ego at the door. It’s a  tough lesson, but one that will surface in almost every project, in one form or another.
  • Learn from your mistakes. A poorly developed idea is usually worse than a simply weak idea. The weak idea often has a couple of good ideas at it’s core, but may lack refinement. Poorly developed projects are often riddled with a lack of planning, vision, and purpose. These projects are often doomed from the beginning.
  • Break the process into manageable steps. Be sure you’ve taken the time to explore the needs of the development process. Don’t try to do everything in one step. You’ll need to be able to review and modify your project as it progresses. Make sure that you identify both the short and long-term needs of the project. Growth and development are mission critical.
  • Work with a development team. Engage a team of professionals who understand the subtleties of breathing life into your ideas. As the originator of your idea, you need to stay focused, but stay open minded.

TechRepublic put together a great list of pitfalls that can plague a software development project. Often, project mechanics get gummed up for different reasons. Sometimes those reasons are valid. Sometimes they’re not.

When you’re ready to explore the needs of your next development, contact Colure’s project managers to discuss your dreams.

In-app advertising dominates mobile applications

In-app advertising dominates mobile applications

Mobile devices have been described as ‘this generation’s fuel for their soul’. It seems as though every function, need or desire can be addressed, answered or satisfied by some type of mobile application. Being able to monetize these behaviors has been a point of significant focus by corporations both large and small. Competition in the marketplace is incredibly fierce. Successful market shares are measured in both time and dollars; the two are inextricably connected. The longer you keep a user engaged in your application, the better your odds are of generating revenue from that user. 

The big question that faced developers for years concerned both of these factors. How do you keep a user interested while engaging their wallets? In order to retain your clients, you need to hold their attention. A quality interface engages the user and won’t let them drift away from your application. Unfortunately, traditional advertising would do exactly that! When a user clicked on an advertisement inserted into a mobile application, they were whisked away to a distant website, often unable to find their way back to the place they started…the app. So how do you enjoy a mobile app without being taken to a web browser solely for advertiser content?

In 2009, Apple and Google got into a bidding war over a tech start-up which introduced a unique solution to that question. That solution integrated high-quality advertising directly into a mobile application’s operating platform. Google won the bidding war and acquired what would later be released as AdMob. The competitor of this was the now-defunct iAd, introduced as a new component of Apple’s iOS 4 operating system. Both provided customized, high-quality content, able to engage the user on many levels. This advertising platform, within a mobile platform, allowed the developer to engage the user with content, without taking them away from the app of their choice.

Both advertising platforms address a considerable business opportunity. Unfortunately, iAd was never able to conquer a majority of the market. After a few years on the market, iAd has had more than its share of challenges.

The market trends show that the demand for in-app advertising is strong. Users liked to be wooed right where they are, cradled comfortably inside of an app. As time passes, developers will have to continue the task of redeveloping advertising platforms.

Beginning with the earliest of spoken storytellers, advertisers have wanted the consumer right in the palm of their hand. The mobile device has re-defined that for the foreseeable future – it is now the advertiser who is begging to be held by the consumer.