As Jim Marous in Bank Marketing Strategy says:
“Over the past 18 months, mobile banking applications have evolved beyond the basics to include specialized functionalities, improved user experiences and an expansion of platforms supported. A year ago, mobile remote deposit capture (RDC) was live at only five of the top 13 banks. Today, it is a ‘must have’ banking application that has the potential to drive revenue. Similarly, P2P is now taking center stage at most banks despite some logistical hurdles, with five banks adding this functionality in the past 12 months.”
As adoption increases and mobile usage continues to grow, banking firms are finding that having a mobile app is no longer enough. Now with countless competitors in the arena, better app quality and enhanced user-friendliness are the only things that will keep many of these brands afloat.
Here’s a look at some of the top banking apps, and how users rate them according to Applause data:
Bank of America
Tracking user sentiment will be critical as bank apps find themselves trying to acquire more users and stay ahead of the competitions. By searching your banking app on Applause, you can track what users think of anything from your apps stability to its user friendliness, or even its performance.
The holiday season always sees a boom of app downloads – people are getting new phones and tablets and want to stock them with the coolest apps. How do you make sure your app keeps their attention as we move into the new year?
Hugh Reynolds, CEO of Swrve, wrote some helpful pointers for VentureBeat on how to keep your app relevant past the initial download.
Hugh says, “There is no substitute for a testing program both before and after launch. It tells you how real users behave and validates your design decisions in the only way that counts.”
Testing is the biggest tool you have to make sure your app is going to work in the hands of uses and keep them coming back. But it’s important to not rely solely on in-house testing, that’s not where your users live, work and play. Incorporating in-the-wild testing will give you real life feedback on how your app works under varied conditions and in the hands of people who are totally unfamiliar with your app.
Paying attention to user feedback after launch is a natural extension of testing. Production is, after all, the ultimate test. Monitor what users are saying about your app to find out what is delighting them and what needs work for your next release. The best way to keep users engaged is to give them what they want and address issues.
Optimized the first 24 hours
Hugh says, “If your app can’t compete with rummaging the fridge for leftover turkey and ham, you’ve got a problem. And that’s what will happen if what you deliver is too confusing, too difficult to use, or doesn’t clearly sell the value. … So make sure you design to bring out the intrinsic value of your app.”
This is also why testing before launch with professional testers who mimic your target audience is so vital. You get one shot at an initial launch. If it doesn’t go right it can take days or even weeks to get an updated version of your app pushed to users – by then, the damage is done.
So do your homework. Involve usability experts during the design phase and run thorough usability testing before launch to make sure users understand what your app is about and how to interact with it. If your app includes a tutorial, that needs testing too to make sure users can follow along and get all the information they need.
After launch, pay attention to see if your users are complaining about the usability of the app. “Easy to use” is a good thing, “confusing” means you have some work to do.
Keep On Pushing
Hugh says, “Let’s be honest, most of your audience isn’t in your app most of the time. So keeping them engaged long-term, both inside and outside of the application, is important. … If done with care, and by taking a personalized approach, you can make push notifications work. If you learn from user behavior, create an offer that appeals specifically to a curated group, and send them a targeted push notification that hits their phone when you know they are likely to use your app, now you’re talking.”
Push notifications can be useful, but they can also annoy your users so tread carefully. Make sure you choose the right notifications to push and find a cadence that works for you and your users. Then, keep a careful eye on user sentiment and push notification success so you can figure out if A) the notifications are working and B) if you’re annoying (and possibly losing) users.
Change with the Seasons
Hugh notes that the changing seasons is the perfect time to make your app fresh and optimize its offering. While that works for some apps I’d tweak this point to read “Embrace Change.”
Odds are your app isn’t 100% perfect the moment it launches. Some people won’t like the design or flow; it won’t work perfectly on all devices, OS versions and network connections; some features may go unused while others might be more useful and important than you anticipated; the key is to be tuned into this feedback and let it inform the moves you make next.
Don’t be afraid to change your app so that it delights as many users as possible. If users are mostly happy, make small tweaks. If your app is only managing 1 and 2 star ratings, some major changes may be in order. Either way, there’s always room for change somewhere.
The moral of this story is that testing and optimizing your app never ends. You need to start testing from day one of design to create the best app possible, you need to test extensively before launch to make sure the app you deliver to users is the best it can be, and you need to monitor user feedback after launch to make sure your users actually are happy.
Follow those steps and your app has a better shot of staying in use after the download honeymoon ends.
Holiday travel typically means one thing, delays. Of course I could go and talk about all of the interesting apps out there for managing your trips or tracking your flights. But let’s face it; no one wants to talk about delays right now. Unless, of course, you’re doing something about it. Enter Clumsy Ninja, the delightfully addicting game for iOS which kept my mind off delays this past weekend. Using a natural physics engine, users control an animated ninja around his environment.
According to VentureBeat:
The London-based mobile game publisher launched Clumsy Ninja on the Apple iTunes App Store on Nov. 21 in an effort to create a new class of games based on virtual characters with great artificial intelligence. The innovative project is unique in the App Store and it has been in the works for more than a decade.
Normally, game designers have to create painstaking animations that model every possible kind of behavior. They predefine what a game character will do based on certain inputs. But with Clumsy Ninja, NaturalMotion’s designers don’t do that. Rather, they create the character from the bones up. They do that just once. They imbue the body with physics, based on the Euphoria engine. So the arms will move like arms and limbs will behave in a realistic fashion. They marry that to artificial intelligence, which tells the character what to do in a given situation. Then they essentially let the character loose in a game world and see what happens.
This unique type of game has seen over 10 million downloads in a week, the reviews are incredibly favorable. The game carries an overall Applause Score of 90 with the attributes of Satisfaction and Elegance each topping 95, well above their respective means in the Games app store category. While the physics of the game is interesting, the real focus is on the addiction and cuteness of the game with both signals popping up frequently in reviews along side the word ‘fun’. In users’ own words:
“This is certainly a game for the ages. So cute, so delicate, yet so very universal in it’s approach for its capabilities for audiences of all ages. A game that I’ll still enjoy and recommend others to play 10 years from now. (Maybe I’ll playing this game with my kids, and my nieces/nephews a decade or so later.)”
“Truly worthy of five stars! Perfect, easy, and adorable, something that’s safe and friendly and inventive. I suggest everyone of all ages will love this! I love the little ninja, he’s just so cute and I adore his progression. Really, really recommend!”
Have you found a game to keep you occupied during those busy travel days?
From aspiring chefs to pan burners, there’s a seemingly endless stream of recipes and concoctions for food lovers of all kinds out there on the internet. With this in mind, tablets and smartphones have become valuable tools in the kitchen, making for a quick reference check or step-by-step meal prep easier than ever. So let’s have a look at some of these virtual cutting boards and see how they stack up.
Epicurious provides its users a growing library of over 30,000 recipes from all over the world. You can also create shopping lists to check off while you’re in the grocery store and save any of your favorite recipes to bring up at any time. The Applause Attributes are relatively average but fairly even across the board, resulting in a sub-par Applause Score on both iOS and Android. While many users seem very satisfied with the app, others downloaded right as a recent update went out with some significant freezing issues.
How to Cook Everything
This app truly seems to live up to its name with superb reviews all around. Based on a New York Times columnist’s best-selling cookbook, this app seems to deliver a sleek, fun interface and straightforward recipes that are very easy to follow. The Applause Attributes are especially high in Usability and Performance, two of the most important factors for most apps out there today. It has an incredibly robust list of recipes that are simple and work very well within the holiday-themed UI.
Recipes from AlltheCooks
Based on a crowdsourcing model, ‘Recipes from allthecooks’ users post and share recipes by scanning one or simply entering the ingredients by hand. They’ve also separated each recipe into unique categories, making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for quickly. With Applause Attributes that are very high in Content, Satisfaction, and Usability, but slightly lower in areas such as Stability, it has outstanding reviews and has maintained a commendable score since its release.
With many more cooking/recipe providing apps out there, let Applause be your guide and spice up your meals.
Lyndon Cerejo, a user experience and usability strategist at Capgemini, has more than 375 apps in his phone. The vast majority of those apps sit untouched in what he calls his “app graveyard” – the back pages of his phone.
My app graveyard is the final resting place for apps that I have downloaded, tried or used briefly but have since left neglected. I leave them on my phone and tablet as a constant reminder of what killed these apps.
Lyndon isn’t alone when it comes to downloading then abandoning an app. He highlights some scary stats about just how often users ditch apps.
Guesstimates by analysts put the number of mobile app downloads this year at somewhere between 56 and 82 billion, with the average user downloading somewhere between 26 and 41 apps, with a smaller subset of those apps being used on a regular basis. Other numbers indicate that 95% of downloaded apps are abandoned within a month and 26% of apps are only used once.
But, as an expert, Lyndon also offers some important takeaways that can help teams keep their apps in active use. In an article for Smashing Magazine, Lyndon outlines 10 lessons to be gleaned from the app graveyard. Here’s a peek at those important takeaways.
Validate the Need for an App
Lyndon points out that sometimes, there doesn’t need to be an app for that. Native apps cost time and money to create and if users can get the same (or more) benefit out of a responsive website, companies should heavily consider that option.
The decision should be driven by business goals, user needs and the user experience. The short version is, if you plan to primarily offer content and basic functionality that users will access infrequently from different platforms and devices, then those users might be best served with a responsive website.
Make Sure the App Works as Expected
If you haven’t figured out that users will abandon your app if it doesn’t work, you might want to consider a career change. Sadly, many companies suffer from apps that just don’t work well in the wild.
This one might sound like common sense, but you would be surprised by how many apps do not work as expected or end up crashing, often after an update — and that’s not just from personal experience. One- and two-star reviews in the App Store often complain about just that. …
One way to avoid this is by thoroughly testing your app when releasing a new version or after an OS release. Test on actual devices, with bonus points for testing in mobile contexts (for example, testing an alarm app during deep sleep).
Applause makes it easy to keep an eye on app store reviews and ratings, pinpoint problem areas and see how your new app version holds up in the real world. And testing on real devices in “mobile contexts” is what in-the-wild testing is all about! It’s the only way to make sure your app will work as intended under real conditions where your users live, work and play.
Don’t Drain the User’s Device
Users are wising up to the fact that some apps are a bigger battery drain than others. If they suspect your app is the offender, it’ll be axed. Lyndon notes that location based functionality is often an issue.
Apps should judiciously use a device’s resources, including memory, bandwidth and power. Apps that do not minimize their use of a device’s location capabilities or that do not disable location updates as soon as possible are common offenders.
Follow Design Standards and Guidelines
Though mobile usability standards are constantly changing, it’s important to pay attention and keep up with the trends. If users find your app difficult to use, confusing or feel it lacks attention to detail, they’ll go elsewhere.
Lyndon suggests offering a tutorial option when users first launch the app if it doesn’t follow normal usability conventions. And as always, know the design and usability standards of the platform you’re developing for.
Earn Your Users’ Trust by Addressing Privacy and Security Concerns
If news stories over the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that for all the social media over-sharing, users really do care about their privacy. They expect your app to collect only the data it needs and to keep that information secure. Keep users in-the-know and they’ll trust you and your app. Hide information from them or go behind their backs to collect data and you can expect an angry backlash.
Ask only for what you need — don’t collect or access information that is not required for the app to function. Many apps need access to such device information as contacts, calendar and photos to be useful, but an app should be transparent about why it needs that data and how it will be used.
That’s just a peek at the first five lessons Lyndon covers. He goes more in depth on each lesson and has five more for you to learn at Smashing Magazine.
None of these lessons should be new to you, they’re topics we cover often on this blog and our sister site, the uTest Software Testing Blog. They really all boil down to two major themes, pay attention to your users and pay attention to how your app performs and is perceived in the real world.
We’re days away from the official start of the holiday shopping season. Earlier this week we discussed mobile apps to get you through the kickoff weekend. But how are you going to pay? Sure, traditional credit cards and even cash are trusty standbys, but its 2013! And while there may be no dominant mobile payment provider, there are a couple apps making waves. But what do their users think? Let’s take a look at three of the mobile payment players.
- iOS: 45
- Highest Attribute: Elegance
- Lowest Attribute: Interoperability
- Android: 48
- Highest Attribute: Performance
- Lowest Attribute: Satisfaction
- iOS: 89
- Highest Attribute: Usability
- Lowest Attribute: Stability
- Android: 86
- Highest Attribute: Performance
- Lowest Attribute: Interoperability
- iOS: 63
- Highest Attribute: Performance
- Lowest Attribute: Elegance
- Android: 47
- Highest Attribute: Usability
- Lowest Attribute: Satisfaction
Of course, these are only three of the players, there are other niche apps that specialize in peer-to-peer payments, and even retailers are getting in on the mobile payments game. It’s still early, but are you ready to pay with your phone?
The winter holidays are upon us! Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are this week and Christmas and New Year’s are just around the corner! That means a lot of people are going to be traveling. From the Bureau of Transportation Statistics:
The Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. During the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent, and during the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday period the number rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year.
If you have a travel app, this is make or break time. Some people will be booking last minute travel, some will need to check in to their flights, many will need directions, others will want to hail a car service and your app needs to work perfectly every time, no matter where your users are or how much pressure your app is under (this, my friends, is why load testing is important).
But creating, launching and maintaining a successful travel app is difficult. Those in the travel industry face challenges other apps don’t necessarily come up against. For instance, your travel app needs to stand up to challenges like:
- Seamless functionality around the world
- Correct GPS and geo-locating features
- Easy, intuitive usability for rushed travelers
- Localization that makes sense to native users
- Secure authentication for tickets and reservations
- Serving up timely push notifications
- Smoothly transitioning between networks and towers
If you and your team find yourself struggling with these challenges (or you’re panicking because you didn’t even consider some of these issues until now) don’t worry. We’ve put together a free eBook that covers the major challenges of travel app testing, tips for how to overcome those challenges and inspiring stories of companies who have persevered. So read up, apply the lessons delight your traveling users this holiday season!
And don’t forget to look at your Applause Score (and your competitors’ scores) to see what users love and what needs improvement.
With Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, major retailers are ramping up for the flood of holiday shoppers to not only hit their physical stores, but also their websites, mobile apps, web apps and more.
These big shopping days are about finding the best deals possible, whether it be in-store or online. And with the rapidly growing apps economy there is an increasing number of mobile apps that you can take with you in-stores to compare prices and make sure you’re getting the best deal on-the-go. However, in order to make sure you really are getting the best deal out there – you need to download the most accurate, high-quality app.
Adam Lewis, of VentureBeat, recently pulled a list of the best apps for Black Friday. We took a look at their Applause Scores, as well as where the apps are doing well based on Attributes (…and where they are not). Here’s a look:
“Companies are unveiling and improving apps with features that can make shopping faster, less stressful, and easier on the budget. Personalized shopping search engine TheFind’s new app, for example, integrates with your personal preferences on Facebook and lets you scan bar codes in stores to check prices — and compare them across the web.”
- Overall Applause Score: 65
- Highest Attribute(s): Pricing and Performance
- Lowest Attributes(s): Privacy
Amazon Price Check
“In a similar vein, Amazon Price Check, a comparison-app pioneer, is always updating its app (iPhone,Android) to let in-store shoppers know if they can get a better deal with Amazon. You can now type, scan, snap or say a product name to instantly shop its warehouses for millions of in-store items. And of course those wishing to shop in their pajamas can do so on Amazon, or the website of their favorite brands.”
- Overall Applause Score: 57
- Highest Attribute(s): Performance and Usability
- Lowest Attributes(s): Stability
“Sometimes the best deal isn’t available when you’re ready to shop. BuyVia’s app alerts you to real-time discounts on desired products and offers deals picked by professionals, barcode scanning, and price comparisons.”
- Overall Applause Score: 99
- Highest Attribute(s): Interoperability, Privacy, Usability, Content
- Lowest Attributes(s): Unknown
Find out what users are saying about your app. Search an app on Applause now>>
We’ve looked at the iPhone apps and iPad apps that made TIME’s respective top 50 lists, that means it’s time to switch over to Android. What do users really think of the apps highlighted in TIME’s 50 Must Have Android Apps of 2013? To the Applause data!
TIME says: “Let’s say you find a long article on the web — something you need at least 10 minutes to read — but you’re at work or otherwise too busy to read it all right away. Just install the Pocket extension or bookmarklet in your browser, and you can save the story for your lunch break. Pocket’s Android app formats web pages in a clean, booklike view, and it stores content off-line so you can still catch up on reading in a dead zone.”
Pocket’s Android app has quite a few attributes that blow well pass the category means, earning it a lot of user applause and an official Applause Score of 83. If Pocket can get its privacy score up a few points, all attributes will be above average.
TIME says: “Flipboard is like a personalized miniature magazine for Internet content. It takes stories from around the web and reformats them into little pages of text and images, so you can flip through by swiping up and down. You can also plug in your Twitter or Facebook profiles, and Flipboard will pull the links that people share into the mix — along with the occasional tweet or timeline post.”
Android users are happy with this app, giving it an Applause Score of 75 and attribute scores all above the category means. Flipboard users are particularly pleased with the app’s Elegance, Privacy and Usability.
TIME says: “Want to make iPhone owners jealous? Tell them about how you can send and receive all your text messages right from your laptop or desktop web browser. To make it happen, install the MightyText app on your phone, then set up the web app on your computer.”
TIME’s right, this app might make iPhone users jealous! With an overall Applause Score of 83, the lowest attribute score this app has is a 63 (for Privacy) – not too bad! Six of the attributes have scores of 84 or higher.
TIME says: “Pulse News is a great way to scan through the headlines and find the stories you want to read. Just pick the news sources you want — or use the built-in suggestions — and you’ll get a scrolling view of thumbnail images and story snippets. The app also has a widget, so you can glance at your favorite news sources from your phone’s home screen.”
TIME’s recommendations stumble a bit here. The Pulse News Android app has an Applause Score of 59 and struggles to meet most of the attribute means. It excels in Privacy, but comes up short in terms of Elegance, Interoperability and Security. Addressing those three attributes would boost Pulse News’ score considerably.
TIME says: “Why settle for one talk-radio source when you can choose from thousands? Stitcher brings together live stations, recorded talk-radio shows and podcasts from around the web into a single app and lets you create custom stations based on your favorites. Plus, it doesn’t get all weird around power lines the way AM radio does.”
Despite not meeting the average in nine out of ten attributes, Stitcher Radio users are still somewhat satisfied – Satisfaction is the only attribute that surpasses the category mean. But that’s not enough to earn the app a high Applause Score. Stitcher Radio has a long way to go if it wants to improve its Applause Score of 50.
TIME’s list of must-have Android apps is pretty solid. There are some apps that (according to Applause) users really aren’t that impressed with, but there are also a good number that are absolutely delighting their users. Check out the full list and Applause to see which apps are killing it and which need some work.
TIME says: “Previewing e-mailed PDF files is built in to the iPad’s Mail app, but Adobe’s free Reader app includes advanced functions such as annotations, text search, highlighting, online synchronization and the ability to fill out form fields. If you work with PDF files a lot, this one’s a must.”
While Adobe’s advanced functions are nice, users don’t think this app lives up to its hype. With an Applause Score of 45, Adobe Reader only passes the category mean in terms of Elegance – everything else falls far short of user expectations.
TIME says: “For those times when you need to use a big-boy computer, Air Display can turn your iPad into a second monitor to give you a bit more screen real estate to work with. The $10 app works with Mac and Windows machines, connecting the iPad to your computer over your wi-fi network.”
Again, this app is great in theory but less so in practice. This app doesn’t meet any of the attribute averages (though it comes close in Interoperability and Content), earning an Applause Score of 50. With a little work, this app could wow users.
TIME says: “Referencing an iPad while cooking is usually far less cumbersome than using a computer, and the free Allrecipes app puts thousands of recipes at your fingertips. The $5 Pro version gets rid of ads and lets you sync with your Allrecipes.com account’s recipe box and shopping lists.”
This is more like it! With an Applause Score of 76, users agree with TIME that Allrecipes is an app worth having – and using. Every attribute meets or surpasses the category means.
TIME says: “There’s no shortage of ways to update a blog, but Blogsy stands a cut above its competitors. The $5 app sports an easy-to-use interface for beginners and plenty of advanced options for power users, all while being compatible with several popular blogging platforms.”
Another win with this one. Besides having an awesome icon (I’m a sucker for old school typewriters), this app earns an Applause Score of 77 and blows every attribute mean out of the water.
Calculator for iPad Free
TIME says: “Because math is hard and the iPad doesn’t include a built-in calculator, there’s Calculator for iPad Free. Like its name suggests, the app is free and includes both a standard and a scientific calculator; a $2 upgrade gives you several color schemes to choose from.”
This app works well enough that users are generally satisfied, giving it an Applause Score of 62. Still, most of the attributes fall below the average mark.
This list is more hit-and-miss than TIME’s iPhone apps collection, which means that companies need to pay more attention to the quality of their tablet apps! Still, there are some good finds on the list, check it out.
TIME has published its lists of the 50 Best Apps, 2013 edition – which means it’s time see if users agree with the writers at TIME! Let’s start with the iPhone apps list. In the interest of not making this the longest blog post ever, I’ll keep it to the first five apps listed on the slideshow.
TIME says: “Waze is an incredibly useful app for anyone who spends a meaningful amount of time in the car. Aside from providing turn-by-turn GPS directions, you’ll be alerted to speed traps, accidents and slowdowns up ahead of you thanks to data gleaned from other Waze users just like you. You can play the hero yourself, too, by reporting incidents along the way.”
Users agree. Waze’s iPhone app has an Applause Score of 86, with every Applause Attribute surpassing the category mean by a considerable amount. This is an overall solid app that delights its users.
TIME says: “Sometimes you don’t want to put too much thought into your music. In that spirit, Songza offers up mood-based playlists cobbled together by music professionals. Stream a mix for working out or driving or unwinding or singing in the shower. The moods can get as specific as you like, and the service is free and unlimited if you’re willing to put up with some ads here and there.”
Again, users agree that this is a good app. With an Applause Score of 82, users are pretty pleased. But Songza has some work to do on the Security and Performance fronts. Those two attributes fall short of the average, mostly because of slow performance and trouble with login.
TIME says: “Mailbox looks to tame your Gmail inbox by letting you quickly archive e-mails with a swipe or turn them into task-like entities to deal with later. The app’s design emphasizes speed and simplicity, helping you to slice through your mountain of messages in a matter of minutes. Yes, you’re basically engaging in digital procrastination, but at least it’ll help you feel somewhat organized. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of reaching inbox zero, if only for a short while.”
Though Mailbox meets all but one attribute mean (and only misses in Content by one point), it doesn’t blow users completely out of the water. Still, this solid app pulls in an Applause Score of 76.
TIME says: “Watching TV without thumbing through your smartphone at the same time seems to becoming the exception, not the norm. Zeebox acts as a companion to your tube time, identifying the show you’re watching by fingerprinting its audio track and then letting you interact with others watching the same show, play quiz-like games and more.”
Zeebox doesn’t have a score for the Elegance or Pricing attributes, but the attributes that do have data point to a good app with above average scores. The app’s one downfall is a struggling Security score, lowering it’s overall Applause Score to 73.
TIME says: “With so many web-based services to take advantage of nowadays, a little automation goes a long way. Think of IFTTT (If This, Then That) as a middleman that sits between all of them, letting them interact with each other. You can get an e-mail when it’s raining, save your iPhone photos to a cloud-based storage service, or get a text message when your stocks go up or down.”
We’ve featured IFTTT on this blog before, but since then its score has sunk a bit. Now netting an Applause Score of 78, IFTTT is still keeping users more or less pleased with quite a few above average attribute scores. Where the app suffers is in its Security score, which is less than half the attribute’s mean.
Overall, TIME’s list is pretty spot on in reflecting overall user sentiment. Of the 50 apps the publication features, only 10 have an Applause Score below 70, and quite a few apps have scores in the 90s. Feel free to flip through the rest of the list and check the Applause Score of any apps that catch your attention.
Come back tomorrow and Friday for a look at TIME’s iPad apps and Android apps lists.
Recently I had a chocolate craving during a meeting and no access to chocolate. In desperation, I combed the net figuring there would be an app for that. There are in fact many apps to help you through your chocolate issues. The major bonus is that most of them are calorie free and keep you looking thin and trim. There are apps to find chocolate recipes, to delve into facts about chocolate and, of course, chocolate app games.
- Chocolate Lover Recipes – If you love chocolate then you are in the right place. When you’re done baking for the family, tuck the kids in and try one of the Chocolate Martini recipes. Recipes are broken down into eight categories: Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Brownies, Cookies, White Chocolate, Cake, Pie and Fudge. An Applause Score of 100 reflects perfect user satisfactions and ease of use.
- Chocolate – The name says it all. This wonderful app is a must-have for anyone who loves chocolate. Learn how to master the ingredient from culinary experts who share secrets on how to bring chocolate to life. Includes recipes, video guides, photos, and even a reference manual that will help make your chocolate experience the best possible. This app earns an Applause Score of 100 with comments like “Makes me hungry” and “already made the brownies – yummy!”
Chocolate Fact Finding:
- Chocolate Quiz -Learn interesting facts about chocolate and improve your knowledge about chocolate. This app is sure to make you hungry for chocolate. Applause Score of 75.
- Chocolate Travel – This app aims to take you on an enticing world journey to the best chocolate festivals, museums, factory tours, spas, attractions, artisan chocolatiers (fine chocolates and bean to bar), and other chocolate-themed travel. Each place exudes a whiff of chocolate. It’s not only a travel experience, but a sensory one as well. Satisfying a user’s “’guilty pleasure’ for chocolate without actually adding the calories,” this app has an impressive “diversity of topics and regions” which earns it an Applause Score of 100.
- Chocolate Fix Free – Chocolate Fix is a sweet deductive reasoning game that’s additively fun to play! Similar to Sudoku, you must examine all clues carefully before making a move. An Applause Score of 84 indicates how this app succeeds with a high satisfaction attribute score.
- Chocolate Mania HD Free - If you like chocolate, you’ll love this game and enjoy eating all those chocolate sweets without gaining any weight. Gaining an Applause Score of 88 with descriptions like “Yummy fun!” and “addicting,” this app is scrumptious.
- Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet – Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet is an addictive, fast-paced game of words, whimsy, self-fulfillment, and chocolate. Users comment that it’s a delightfully adorable game and Coolson is such a cool guy/penguin/chocolatier, earning this app an Applause Score of 100.
I have a very big sweet tooth, but these apps are helping me keep the calories to a minimum and the chocolate craving at bay – for a little while. Try them out, but only in small bites.
Pfeiffer, a research firm, squared the Apple App Store, Google Play and Amazon App Store off against each other to see how they measured up in fields like ‘searchablity,’ ‘discoverability’ and other factors the firm considers signs of “app store maturity.” Let’s just establish right now that the Amazon App Store quickly fell out of the running, leaving the two mobile giants to battle each other.
So which store gives your app the best chance at success? It depends on what you think your app needs to get it in the hands of users.
For an app store that is easy to search, Google Play is you’re best bet (little surprise there). But the study found that all three app stores have a long away to go before search is optimized. From Venture Beat:
You would expect search giant Google to outperform Apple and Amazon in app search, and you wouldn’t be disappointed. The company rated more than twice as good as Amazon, and about a third better than Apple. Still, however, all app stores have significant issues, Pfeiffer says, lacking natural language search, boolean operator support, or the ability to correctly interpret misspelled searches.
If you’re hoping users will stumble across your app without performing a specific search, you’ll have a better chance in the Apple App Store.
Likely due to the fact that Apple’s app store has been in existence the longest, it offers by far the most help for app buyers to find the right app, with curated collections, and groups of apps for different purposes, occasions, and industries. …
“Google Play offers almost no informed guidance to help users find apps that are specifically tailored to their needs,” the report states.
Once a potential user finds a group of apps that fit their needs, how do they decide on the right now? If they’re an iOS user, they’ll likely rely on labeling and the grouping that nabbed the Apple App Store top scores in the “discoverability” field. If they’re a Google user, however, user ratings and reviews are likely more helpful (yet another reason to pay attention to what your users are really saying about your app).
Figuring out which apps to buy is the toughest job, perhaps, for mobile users, who need clearly labeled apps, recognizable professional-vs-amateur apps, documentation, good editorial recommendations, and quality reviews. Apple scored 67.5 percent, while Google Play and the Amazon app store scored in the low 40s.
Apple needs better reviews, Pfeiffer said, while Google needs to better label which apps are tablet-optimized, and add better editorial recommendations.
As an app developer, you know how important usability is. So how usable are the app stores? Google comes out on top because of its “very easy-to-navigate structure.” Meanwhile, Pfeiffer found that the Apple App Store had a “somewhat overpowering app store structure” that made navigation more difficult.
In the end, the Apple App Store came out a bit ahead of Google Play, but it’s also been around longer. But don’t let this score determine which OS you develop for. Pfeiffer declared that all three app stores have a long way to go until they reach “perfect” maturity scores. Instead, concentrate on creating a high quality app and addressing issues your users raise after real world use. Having a good app will help make you more findable in any app store.
I’ve often felt that while technology enables us to do some pretty amazing things, it can sometimes bring out the worst in people – as Macklemore says, “Have you read the YouTube comments lately?” While I am not using my apps to troll the internet, if I am being honest most of the apps I use on a daily basis seem at best self-serving, (Bank of America, Apple Maps, Spotify, IMDb) and at worst down-right self-obsessed (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn). But if there really is ‘an app for that’ – and by “that” I mean literally everything – then surely there are apps for the selfless, do-gooders out there.
Give 2 Charity – Give 2 Charity is an Android App that allows you to redeem points in exchange for a donation to one of many charities including Make-A-Wish, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Action against Hunger, etc. Users earn points every day simply by having the app installed on their device. Give 2 Charity has received an admirable Applause Score of 79 which can likely be attributed to its Usability, with users who gave it 5 stars citing that it is simple and easy to use.
One Today by Google – One Today is an Android App created by Google that allows you to make a donation to non-profits that inspire you. Every day this app will alert you to a new project to which you can donate. One Today’s excellent Applause Score of 87 is a testament to high user satisfaction. This app received Attribute Scores well above the mean for other apps in its category. Users have declared this app to be elegant, quick and fun to use.
Catalista – Catalista is a great app for folks who prefer to donate their time to causes they support. This app does more than just connect you with one of more than 250,000 non-profits. Once you’ve done your good deed you can rate your experience, invite your friends to volunteer with you and track your hours. Though this app doesn’t have Applause data for every attribute category, the ones it is rated in net it a perfect Applause Score of 100. Clearly this app is doing something right. Users seem very appreciative of this app, leaving reviews such as ‘the world needs this app!’ and citing this app as the reason they are regularly volunteering today.
So there you have it, three apps that are testament to the fact that there’s more to the apps economy than selfies and get restaurant reviews. Of course, if the self-serving and self-obsessed app is more your thing, each of these apps do have the ability to publish your good deeds on social media.
Don’t worry app developers – it may be easy for users to switch apps these days, but they’re still keen on the medium of mobile apps. People are engaging with more apps, created by a wider range of developers, according to a report produced by app analytics company Flurry.
Flurry (which watches several factors, including apps being started on their platform) has seen app starts steadily growing since Q1 of 2012 and witnessed a decent spike in Q3 2013. Flurry thinks this steady growth can be attributed to a new “mobile content explosion” driven by consumer behavior. From the report:
Over the last two years, application developers and media companies have seen the shift from personal computers to smart mobile devices including phones and tablets that are now in the hands of over 1.2 billion people worldwide. They have also seen the wild and global success of gaming, utility and messaging applications such as LINE, Kakao, Snapchat and WhatsApp.
And as consumer behavior continues to tend toward mobile, more and more developers are being launched into the land of 20 million monthly active users – something that used to be attained by only the biggest players with the hottest apps.
In fact, just on the Flurry platform the number of independently owned app developers that have a worldwide audience of over 20 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) has jumped from 7 in Q1 2012 to 32 in Q3 2013. That is whopping 357% growth in 18 months.
In the same period, the number of app developers with an audience over one million MAU has risen from just under 400 to 875, a whopping 121% growth.
So while the app stores may seem crowded (because they are), users seem willing to dig to find that perfect app. If you want to enter the 20 million MAU club (or even the one million MAU club – still an amazing feat), make sure your app meets users’ quality expectations. If it doesn’t, they’ll leave you behind and download a new app.
Apple fanboys and fanwomen are celebrating the latest in a seemingly never-ending line of product launches. The past two days have seen the release of the iPad mini with Retina display and the iPad Air. As with all upgrades/new gadgets from Apple, this means a whole host of users are deciding which apps to download first for their new gear.
Karen Freeman of Apps Gone Free makes her recommendations for which iOS apps to move on first, should you be fortunate enough to have one of these well-reviewed, if pricey, gadgets. Here’s her take on them, along with the Applause Scores for her top choices (which alternately affirm and counter her selections):
Evernote (Applause Score – 75): “This is one of the quickest ways to capture and organize your thoughts on your iDevice. Many other apps also work with Evernote, further enhancing its usefulness. Although Evernote is free, it is better than many paid apps.”
Pages (Applause Score: 53): “Pages is one of the most powerful word processors on the platform. Desktop-grade tools are at your fingertips for text manipulation and changing styles of text with just a few taps.”
Dropbox (Applause Score – 60): “Having your files available anywhere is the beauty of the cloud. Dropbox is one of the best services out there with a 2GB offering just for signing up.”
iBooks (Applause Score – 45): “The iPad makes for a fantastic e-reader, and Apple’s own iBooks app is one of the best book apps available.”
Pandora Radio (Applause Score – 56): “Pandora will help you discover new music, tailored for your tastes.”
Translation issues are huge for any developer taking an app to a foreign market. Content and instructions play such a large role in most apps that readability is inextricably tied to functionality; if users don’t understand your app, they won’t use it.
To that end, Google has released the App Translation Service, allowing developers to pay a fee of around $100 for a professional translation of their app. Google sources professional translators for each targeted locale, making the ATS a huge step above automated translation and setting a new bar for Android developers releasing apps in multiple languages.
However, translation is only the tip of the localization-and-internationalization iceberg. Apps must be designed and developed from the ground up to handle the wide array of format, special character, and cultural differences that arise from location to location. Otherwise, a customer in the US that orders a product from a Spain-based eCommerce app for delivery on 11/12/2013 will receive their product in December (rather than the anticipated November); an Israeli reading a “translated” RSS Reader could get backward content; if the world “gift” appears in your gift sending app will have a very confused German audience (“gift” in German means poison).
Google outlines a handy localization checklist that outlines the practices developers should follow to enjoy success in foreign markets. From scope to support, keeping the specific needs of each location in mind is key to successfully localizing an app. Beyond that, full and thorough L10n testing (not just translation) is vital – after all, you don’t want an international incident!
Release for reach or produce high quality products? Those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but there may come a time when your company has to make a choice. Capture users across markets and operating systems or focus on producing the highest quality app you can for the users you have. Nike has chosen the later (at least with its FuelBand product) and it’s paying off.
The FuelBand has an iOS app that it wirelessly syncs with via Bluetooth LE, but despite anticipation, an Android app hasn’t hit the market – and probably wont any time soon. The Next Web spoke to Nike’s Stefan Olander, VP of Digital Sport, to find out why. From The Next Web:
“Bluetooth LE (low energy) is relatively new, and on the Android operating system there are so many devices running different versions of the OS. It is not a stable technology,” says Olander. “You can’t use Bluetooth LE across the entire stack.” …
“As we’re looking forward, for us it’s really about making sure we have a great experience. We have nothing against Android. Our running app [Nike+ Running] is on both iOS and Android, and we have learned a lot from that – at the end of the day, you really do get reach. But for us it’s quality first, scale second. If we can’t guarantee quality to a number of our users, we’ll wait until the platform is ready. And right now, we don’t believe the effort is worth the return, for Bluetooth LE. And we want to do it really, really well for iOS.” …
“When it makes sense for consumers, and so they get a quality experience, we’ll do that [launch on Android]. We have nothing against Android, we’re not prohibited from doing it, we just want to make sure that when we do it, it works well.”
That’s a fine and respectable approach to take, but it means your existing app needs to work extremely well. If you focus on one platform but still produce an app that disappoints users, your focus is pointless. But Nike’s focus is playing off.
iOS Health and Fitness apps (the category FuelBand falls into) have high Applause Attribute means – and the Nike+ FuelBand app surpasses most of them. With an overall Applause Score of 80 (well above the average score of 65), users are pretty happy with the FuelBand app. Even the attributes that don’t make the mean fall short by six points or less.
This is an example of a company not wanting to put out a product unless it feels it can produce a high quality product. While the iOS FuelBand app still has some room for improvement, Nike wants to make sure customers are pleased. It’s a smart move when you remember that app quality and your brand’s reputation are forever linked.
In fact, last month we covered a study on mobile rewards, coupons and catalogs, and why mobile commerce is exploding. And this week’s ‘App of the Week’ – Ibotta – is the type of app behind the mobile shopping momentum. Ibotta is a mobile rewards app that incentivizes you to make purchases, by offering cash every time you go shopping. The money is transferred into your account instantly, as soon as your purchase has been verified.
The biggest challenge for mobile rewards and couponing apps is mastering good app usability and security. With countless options for mobile rewards apps, the switching cost is lower than ever. The app has to be easy and intuitive to use in order to keep users engaged. And when you are dealing with purchase transactions, security becomes even more important to the user.
Here’s a look at Applause data showing what users are saying about Ibotta:
- Overall Applause Score: 80
- Usability: 93
- Security 90
With very high scores in usability and security, Ibotta has done a great job of focusing on the attributes that are extremely important to users. User reviews in the app’s Applause Review Stream mention that the app is “…so easy to use” and “addicting”. User’s also mention that the app has exceptional elegance (97) and performance (92). A good area for improvement might be Ibotta’s stability (44).
Overall, user satisfaction for Ibotta is very high. But how is your app doing? Find it now>>
There’s an old saying in the military that “generals always fight the last war, especially if they have won it.” Quite simply it means that when preparing for the next kind of threat, one should resist looking too closely at past wars fought at different times with different technologies and circumstances. The French were overrun despite the Maginot Line – the perfect defense against further aggression by the Germany of World War I, but practically useless against the German Blitzkrieg of World War II.
So it is with app security. Early in the era of web security, there was still a strong fear of classic desktop vulnerabilities like stack smashing and buffer overflows. Now that we’re in the era of mobile apps, the security world is still stuck in the realm of web security. Despite the fact that it’s been over two years since the OWASP group released the top 10 vulnerabilities for mobile, few mobile developers think to security test their apps.
Last week, researchers revealed yet another vulnerability type for iOS applications. By using a man-in-the-middle approach, an attacker can trick an iOS app into communicating with a web API on a malicious URL, not just once but forever after the fact. Ars Technica has the details of the attack, discovered by the security group Skycure, but the summary is simple.
As it turns out, many iOS apps do not have strong protections against malicious 301 redirects for API calls. A 301 redirect is basically a web command that says, “This thing isn’t here anymore. It’s over there instead.” Web masters use it when moving content from one place to another so that links work smoothly even when the content address has changed. But if I can interfere with your app’s communications and say “your API is really over here on my malicious server,” then I can theoretically intercept or even modify content used by your app. Because the 301 code signals a permanent redirect, your app will continue to use my malicious server long after I have stopped directly interfering.
The fix is simple. Make sure your app uses SSL instead of communicating in plaintext. It’s odd to think that in this day and age anyone would use an unencrypted API, but here’s the perfect reason to do so. By going the extra step to encrypt your API’s traffic, you’re also making sure that your users only see the right content and not something malicious or bogus. SSL certificates are cheap compared to the cost of your app losing its reputation because of security problems.