iOS Swift App Development: How it’s Improving ROI

In 2014, Apple released Swift, a programming language for creating iOS-compatible applications. Many programmers since then have embraced it enthusiastically. iOS app development with Swift offers many benefits, including enhanced efficiency and memory management.

Anyone looking to create an app for iOS devices should consider partnering with a team that specializes in Swift app development. Doing so could optimize your project’s return on investment.

Here’s why:

The Benefits of iOS App Development With Swift

To understand why you should opt for iOS app development develop with Swift, it’s important to first understand why you would want to develop apps for iOS devices in the first place.

The primary reason is simple: iOS continues to hold a relatively large market share. Creating apps that work with iOS devices offers the chance to reach a large target audience.

Swift mobile app development makes it easier to do so. Swift is designed to reduce the workload for programmers, often by essentially automating certain tasks they originally would have had to perform on their own. This allows programmers to build apps more efficiently. iOS app development with Swift is often more affordable than using another programming language simply because it doesn’t take as much time.

Swift app development

When you create an iOS product through Swift app development, you could technically create a product for iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and virtually any Apple product. That allows you to cast a wide net, reaching a large number of customers with a single app.

Examples of apps already written in Swift show how versatile the programming language is. People have used this language to create games, audio synthesizers, auction apps, a WordPress for iOS app, and much more.

One of the main benefits of Swift mobile app development is the fact that it combines ease-of-use features with overall quality. In the past, programming languages that were designed for maximum efficiency often resulted in apps that were less than impressive. iOS app development with Swift allows you to save money on the development of your product without sacrificing quality.

What Swift Mobile App Development Teams Offer

Hiring a team that specializes in Swift iOS development means you’ll be in the hands of experts who work efficiently. That means they can spend more time coordinating with you to ensure the finished product matches your goals exactly.

By choosing Swift app development, it allows you to create an iOS app in a relatively short span of time. Doing so means you’ll save money while also making a product designed to reach a large customer base. That means a big return on investment for you.

Examples of Companies Keeping Customers Engaged With Brilliant In-Store App Experiences

Before the point of purchase, a likely scenario for the modern consumer is to first use the internet to conduct research – especially realistic for major purchases – then traveling to a physical store to see and test the product before deciding whether it’s a worthy investment. In fact, despite all of our advancements in technology, the average customer still prefers to purchase most items in a from a physical store, according to a recent study

Thus, when brands develop apps to boost sales, they shouldn’t merely focus on improving the e-commerce experience. But rather, to yield the greatest return on investment, it’s also important to build apps that improve the brick-and-mortar retail experience. The ultimate mobile experience therefore should be omnichannel in nature.

To understand how a company can bridge the gap between e-commerce and in-person shopping through an omnichannel customer experience, consider the following examples of brands partnering with professionals to design brilliant user experiences:

Home Depot Designed Their User Experience to Manage Customers Online and In-Stores

Home Depot is a clear example of a brand that caters to people who want to make in-store purchases. When buying items for a home improvement project, it’s extremely helpful to actually see and touch the merchandise before deciding if they’re the right fit for your needs. For this type of company, an app with a customer experience management strategy that bridges the digital with the in-store is essential.

That’s why Home Depot partnered with YML to create an app and design a user experience that makes brick-and-mortar shopping as convenient as possible. For example, customers can open the app, select their nearest Home Depot location, and browse a 3D rendering of the store. This doesn’t merely help them find out if their local Home Depot carries a needed item; it also helps them find it in the store more efficiently, saving them valuable time.

This is a brilliant example of an omnichannel customer experience strategy. What Home Depot’s app demonstrates is that the right digital experience design can drive in-person sales effectively if it helps users both confirm if an item is in stock and where it physically is for greatest efficiency .

omnichannel customer experience

Nordstrom Created the Ultimate Personalized Mobile Experience

Like Home Depot, Nordstrom’s app improves their customer experience management strategy by letting users check their nearest store location for item availability.

However, it also leverages data and past behavior to suggest other products the individual consumer might be interested in. This creates the ultimate mobile experience for users, and as a result, sales are increased because customers are encouraged to visit a physical store even when they weren’t planning on it. By designing a user experience that make shopping both more personal and easy for the customer, Nordstrom’s app demonstrates how brands can take advantage of technological innovations to boost revenues.

The Essentials of an Omnichannel Customer Experience

An app designed to enhance the omnichannel customer experience must check off three important criteria:

First: It needs to make the experience of shopping (both online and in-person) more convenient. The two examples above prove that can be relatively easy with the right digital experience design.

Second: It needs to result in more sales. If it succeeds in the first goal, odds are good it will succeed in this goal as well. When shopping is more convenient, customers are likely to make more purchases.

Third: An app should leverage data to ensure that the customer enjoys the ultimate mobile experience through personalization. In this manner, each individual who visits a brand’s online and brick-and-mortar shop enjoys service tailored to their specific tastes and needs.

Luckily, achieving these goals will be even easier in the near future, thanks to new technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. VR and AR can transport users to virtual stores, allowing them to interact with items the way they would if they were shopping in person. Additionally, AI can be incorporated into customer experience management strategies that aim to learn about a customer’s unique tastes and behaviors.

For best results, brands should collaborate with digital experience design professionals. These companies can help them leverage the most from these tools, and thereby offer their customers better service than ever before.

The Ultimate Mobile Design Trends for 2018

As 2018 gets underway, the tech landscape is already remarkably different from just a  few years ago. Mobile is ‘large and in charge’ now, as the following mobile design trends will confirm.

A study from IDC estimates that more than two billion of the 3.2 billion people on the planet who access the web in 2016 will do so from a mobile device. Mobile design hasn’t just caught up with desktop—it’s crushing desktop in terms of sheer user numbers.

With mobile and user experiences being front and center more than ever, designers are looking to perfect their mobile-design skills for clients. By studying app design trends, they can be inspired by the best UI design ideas, and then create their own innovative and upgraded versions.

When it comes to mobile UX and UI design, they have to prioritize the user experience,.Designing native mobile apps that offer a richer experience than mobile web apps is the way to go. While there’s our list of the best mobile app design trend blogs to help you with some mobile design inspiration, native mobile app design is a constantly evolving thing, which is why future-proofing any piece of code is so important.

With that in mind, here are the 10 hottest mobile app design trends in 2018 that we predict.

1) Both Native Mobile Apps and Web Apps Will Surge

For some time, there’s been a dispute over what type of mobile app works best: native mobile apps that you open by tapping on your smartphone’s home screen or mobile web apps that you access from mobile versions of browsers like Safari.

app design trends

Designers and developers in the question of native vs. web app would argue that native mobile apps are superior because they’re faster for users, can be monetized in places like the App Store, and offer users access to mobile operating system features like the camera, contact lists, etc. That’s definitely true!

However, recent research by Google’s product director, Luke Wroblewski, indicates that there’s great demand for both types of mobile application designs, in spite of the apparent limitations of web apps. According to his data, native mobile app users spend 18 times longer on native apps than on mobile web apps…yet to add fuel to the native vs. web app fire, mobile web apps see almost 9 million monthly visitors compared to native apps’ 3.3 million monthly visitors.

Average monthly minutes per visitor of native apps compared to mobile web apps.

Therefore, mobile audience growth is based on mobile websites, so developers will have to continue serving that market with mobile web apps, too, while continuing to prioritize mobile native apps that have a better UX.

Therefore, mobile audience growth is based on mobile websites, so developers will have to continue researching UI design ideas and serving that market with mobile web apps, too, while continuing to prioritize native mobile apps that have a better UX.

2) The Increasing Influence of Wearables in App Interface Design

Wearables are gadgets like the Apple Watch, and they take the concept of mobile application design and development to a whole new dimension. Gartner predicted at that start of last year that the 2017 wearables market would rise to 310.4 million units sold, which is a 16.7 percent increase from 2015 sales.

app design trends 2018 - Apple Watch

So how does this affect UI design ideas? Not only is the screen smaller than a traditional mobile device, but wearables also encourage people to use mobile technology in different scenarios than smartphones and tablets, leading to necessary changes in the touch screen interface design.

For instance, the way you’d tap the screen of a smartphone to open a native news app is different to how you’d have to reach over with one hand to touch your Apple Watch to use its features.

Here’s a video to better illustrate how the Apple Watch works.

app design trends 2018 - Apple Watch Apps

As a result, 2018 will see wearable designers and developers race to create intelligent, user-friendly native and web apps that are unique to this type of mobile device, especially by adjusting their touch screen interface design.

3) Better UI Design Ideas for Gestures

What’s a gesture? In mobile application design, it’s divided into two groups, according to Google:

  • Touch mechanics (what your fingers do on a screen)
  • Touch activities (what they accomplish, as a result)

Double-Touch Drag

For example, if a user taps on their iPhone’s native mobile mail icon, they’ve produced a touch mechanic, that in turn creates the ensuing touch activity, which is their inbox opening.

With projections of smartphone users at more than 6 billion globally by 2020, it’s high time that designers explore new UI design ideas to better accommodate a range of mobile gestures.

Touch screen interface design mechanics include:

  • Touch (tap)
  • Force Touch
  • Double touch
  • Drag, swipe or fling
  • Long press
  • Long-press drag
  • Double-touch drag
  • Pinch open
  • Pinch closed
  • Two-finger touch
  • Two-finger drag, swipe or fling
  • long press with two fingers
  • Two-finger long-press drag
  • Two-finger double touch
  • Rotate

Some native mobile apps, such as Starbucks’ use an unappealing mobile UI design that makes, for instance, validating a free drink reward more cumbersome than it should be. If you have a free drink, you have to actually shake the phone by using your entire hand to get the barcode to appear on the screen for it to be validated.

app design trends 2018 - Starbucks App

It’d be much better to integrate a different touch screen interface design that allows the user to simply tap or swipe to get the barcode to appear.

With the number of mobile devices ever-increasing, mobile application designers have no choice but to create a better mobile UI design that uses a wider, more intuitive range of gestures for a better UX.

4) Multi-app Split Screen Catches on in Android UI Design

Multitasking or task switching is ubiquitous in our always-on world, so why shouldn’t this be the case in our mobile world? The multi-app is split-screen work flow that allows users to do two things at once on their screen, That means you can be on on your Evernote native mobile app and email colleagues at the same time or be tweeting and looking something up on the Internet simultaneously. The convenience of this UI design idea is beyond amazing, as it saves users the time and trouble of tapping the home button, looking for the native mobile app they want, and then constantly switching between two (or more) open app windows.

app design trends 2018 - iPad Pro

With the iPad Pro outselling Microsoft’s Surface tablet and similar offerings from Samsung in the last quarter, it’s clear that impressive mobile UI design features such as split-screen capability have made all the difference for consumers.

With Android fans clamoring for, and wondering when Google’s finally going to introduce the mobile split-screen feature on its devices, the time seems right for designers and developers to focus their efforts on finally producing split-screen multitasking for Android.

app design trends - Android Split Screen

Google seems to already be making baby steps toward this Android application development innovation right now, so it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with later this year.

5) Material Design Captivates the Mobile Application Design Community

Unsurprisingly, Google will be a big player in influencing native mobile app design trends this year. Material design is not completely flat anymore because it uses techniques like gradients, shadows and other subtle, 3D effects. As a result, this slightly different approach to native mobile design has people excited because it’ll drastically improve the UX on mobile devices.

Material Design UI - Mobile Design Trends 2016

Though material design was slow to be adopted to various Android apps last year— we’re talking Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps—that’s changing in 2016, as more native mobile apps from companies outside of Google take note of this app design trend and join the material-design bandwagon.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.04.10 PM

Facebook’s popular Messenger app is getting a material-design makeover on Android while IMDB’s Android app has material-design touches added to its navigation, search and action bar.

Beyond mobile application design, Google’s Chrome browser is also set to incorporate material-design touches in its interface, and Google is all set to unveil its new material design-influenced Chrome browser soon.

Look for more popular apps to follow this app design trend and adopt material design as the year progresses.

6) Moving Animation in Native Mobile Apps

People are naturally programmed to take notice of movement, so incorporating movement into a mobile UI and UX design can be the perfect way to highlight a specific product. This app design trend makes moving animation a superb tool for e-commerce sites. This also has a secondary, more useful purpose: Letting users move products around on the screen before they buy it makes it easy for them to inspect it from all sides…almost as if they were in a real, tactile store.

app design trends 2018 - Moving Animation on Smartphone

With Web Designer Depot proclaiming that “animation is no longer a novelty for web app designers…it’s becoming the basis of effective interaction design,” moving animation is set to take off in a large way this year as designers increasingly realize that movement helps tell a story, and that helps the UX.

app design trends 2018 - Bugaboo Mobile Site Urban Stroller Product Page

Bugaboo’s mobile site features moving animation that lets customers examine its popular strollers from all sides, which beats merely looking at still pictures to make a buying decision.

Bugaboo’s mobile site features moving animation that lets customers examine its popular strollers from all sides, which beats merely looking at still pictures to make a buying decision.

7) A New UI Design Idea: Subdued Color Contrast

You’ve probably been taught that contrast should be high and loud to facilitate an easier reading experience, but 2018’s app design trends go against the mainstream conventional wisdom by toning things down a bit.

app design trends - Weather Apps Color Contrast

The usual typography contrast is black font on a white background—there are even various color-contrast calculators on the web (like Contrast Ratio) to help you find good contrast for readability.

In 2018, though, contrast is expected to get more subtle, which is actually easier on the user’s eyes and  has real mobile UI and UX design advantages in that it facilitates a better reading experience. Some of the the biggest companies in the world are already moving to this subdued form of color contrast for their websites.

Airbnb Mobile Site Homepage

Take Airbnb’s mobile site as a web example of this app design trend: Note how many of the fonts on the homepage are actually faded black or all-out gray and how the white space around the blocks of content and images is really gray space. As a result, there’s still exceptional contrast for easy reading, but it’s easier on the eyes.

8) Flat UI Design 2.0 Begins to Replace Flat UI Design

One of the few, but big, criticisms of flat design is the lack of signifiers on things like icons and buttons, which fail to adequately communicate functional design elements. This touch screen interface design has a negative impact on user experience since what users can click and tap isn’t necessarily obvious at first.

app design trends 2018 - Flat Design UI

This might not seem like a big deal to veteran users, but the point of good native mobile app design—mobile and otherwise—is to make the UX design easy enough that even novice users can find their way around your native app or mobile website.

Flat design 2.0 is like Material Design in a sense because both use more 3D UI design idea effects like shadows, gradients and lighting effects. However, whereas Material Design is more of an aesthetic and design philosophy based on paper and ink (read: tactile elements), flat design 2.0 is an actual response to and way of addressing the shortcomings of flat mobile application design.

Evernote Android Screen

As 2018 wears on, look for more mobile sites and apps to retain the flat look in their touch screen interface design, but with noticeable shading to indicate subtle 3D elements. These will make it easier for users to figure out where to tap and slide, such as Android Evernote’s native mobile app above.

9) Micro-interactions on Native Mobile Apps Become More Prevalent

Micro-interactions are focused on the UX design of a native mobile app. They’re subtle tasks that work around four elements.

  • The Trigger
  • The Rules
  • Feedback
  • Loops and Modes

Slack is an awesome example of this native mobile app design trend that is replete with great micro-interaction examples.

app design trends 2018 - Slack Direct Messages

I tap the “plus” sign next to Direct Messages. This is the trigger because it starts the micro-interaction. Now, I get to communicate directly with my Slack collaborator, which forms the rules or the way the interaction functions. How do I know this? Because, thirdly, the feedback Slack gives me on-screen shows a “New Conversation” box opening up, where I can chat directly with her. Finally, the length of this micro-interaction—or loop—is as long as I want it to be, as I can close the new message when I want to.

app design trends 2018 - Slack New Conversation

As you can see, these micro-interactions in app UI design let people instantly observe the results of their on-screen actions by providing helpful and understandable feedback. This greatly improves the mobile UX design. As more mobile application designers see this innate value to users, micro-interactions will get more widespread.

10) Increased Tracking in Typography Improves Mobile UI and UX Design

So much of the mobile web today deals with readability. One of the most important aspects of readability is tracking, or the consistent space between all letters in a word. The greater the tracking, the easier the word is to read because users don’t have to squint to read the word.

app design trends - Tracking in UI

With the big focus on native mobile app usability, designers need to look at increasing the readability of their content.

Typography authority Typewolf released its list of the most popular fonts of last year, and the big app design trend for this specific area is spacious and generous tracking between letters of the most popular fonts, which will continue into 2018. With Gartner predicting the number of mobile devices increasing in 2018, readability is going to be increasingly vital to mobile UX and UI designs that will attract native mobile app users in even greater numbers.

app design trends 2018 - Dell Mobile Homepage

Note how Dell’s mobile site uses this generous tracking evenly in between the letters of the type on its homepage.

Bonus: Mobile Design Trends That Have Died!

We didn’t get to where we are in mobile application design without some significant mobile design failures. Here are some notorious mobile design trends that simply died off.

1) The Flip Design

Remember that old Motorola Razr phone your buddy had? It featured and popularized the flip mobile device design that everyone at the time thought was cool…yet it failed to stand the test of time. For some time several years ago, people thought it was trendy to whip out their cell phones and flip them open before talking. Now, the instant gratification of the touch screen interface design of iOS and Android smartphones that you can just whip out for talk and data rule the day.

app design trends - Motorola Razr Flip Design

Confirming the death of this mobile design trend for good is news that Lenovo, Motorola’s new owner, is actually going to completely remove the name “Motorola” from its phones. Oh well. It was good while it lasted.

2) Push to Talk

Another mobile design that was popular before Apple and Samsung popularized their version of smartphones with unique touch screen interface design, push-to-talk was essentially turning your phone into a walkie-talkie. Its selling point was letting users talk to an entire group of their friends at once instead of just one friend at a time.

app design trends - Push to Talk Nextel Phones

However, as the years wore on, designing phones for this service became so unpopular that it’s now a relic of a bygone era.

Confirming the death knell for this outdated mobile design trend was the Sprint announcement, four years ago, that it would totally kill off its Nextel push-to-talk network. Goodbye!

3) Infrared Ports

In the early 2000s, many cell phones had infrared or IR ports. These offered wireless transfer of your data over very short distances, and they demanded that your devices had to be side-by-side for it to work.

app design trends 2018 - Infrared Ports

Because IR ports were restrictive, it was no surprise that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi soon came along and banished this mobile design trend for good.

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find many phones with this feature.

What the Future Holds for Mobile Application Design

Look for these trends to dominate the native mobile app design landscape as the year progresses. It’s clear that now is the time of mobile design, as evidenced by mobile users now completely outweighing desktop users…. Don’t hold your breath waiting for these stats to reverse.

With this focus on mobile application design, it’s no surprise that the design community is looking for increasingly interesting app design trends to improve the user experience and get people on native mobile with greater comfort than ever.

Why Compliance is a Huge Deal When Using Blockchain Currency in Your App

It’s true that blockchain technology has made it much easier for developers to safely provide users with virtual currency to use within apps. This virtual currency opens up a lot of possibilities for app users, from selling their own content, purchase virtual items, and even earn redeemable points.

That being said, virtual currency and blockchain currency are not necessarily equal. The legal framework regulating blockchain currency is still developing, and poses greater risks for both developers and users. So in order to remain in full compliance, app creators must familiarize themselves with the current regulatory restrictions.

Examples of Blockchain Currency in Apps

To further understand exactly how a developer might include the use of blockchain currency in an app, consider two examples.

Game development studio LeviarCoin recently announced the launch of its own blockchain-based cryptocurrency that independent parties can use within their own apps. It’s primarily designed to facilitate in-app purchases.

LeviarCoin aims to implement fraud protection over blockchain currency. However, while this sounds impressive in theory, it’s worth noting that a legal stipulation on the announcement makes it clear that, as of now, “values balances are not subject to consumer protections.” What this again makes clear is that the legal framework for blockchain currency is still developing.

AppCoins, which has 200 million active users, is another interesting example of blockchain in app development. It demonstrates how blockchain currency can make it easier for unbanked or underbanked people to access products and services previously unavailable to them.

There are approximately 2.6 billion smartphones in the world. However, approximately 2 billion smartphone users don’t have credit cards. This makes it difficult (if not impossible) to take full advantage of in-app purchases.

blockchain in app development

AppCoins plans to disrupt the status quo by creating an environment in which users could earn blockchain currency, which they could then use for in-app purchases and related functions. It aims to attract developers to its platform by sharing 85% of the revenue from in-app purchases, as opposed to the traditional 70%.

A transparent ledger of public transactions will allow AppCoin owners to rank developers if disputes arise. Of course, that means there is a threat of cyberattack or hack. Additionally, providing greater access to purchase opportunities increases the potential for risky spending. Similar to the issues with credit card debt, blockchain can be a source of conspicuous consumption that threatens an individual’s financial health.

These are just two examples of how blockchain in app development may become more common. They also illustrate why it’s important to comply with the appropriate regulations. This technology is new, and laws to protect consumers are still emerging. For the user, too, they must provide their acknowledgement that this is a real currency with actual consequences if they over-spend.

Currently, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, oversees and enforces the legal requirements United States app developers must abide by if they wish to allow blockchain currency usage in their products. These requirements apply to institutions and entities that qualify as “money transmitters” according to FinCEN.

What is a Money Transmitter?

A money transmitter, put simply, is any institution that accepts currency (or any valuable asset that could serve as substitute for currency) and/or facilitates its transmission.

Unfortunately, the  definition of what constitutes money transmission has never been entirely clear. FinGEN must sometimes provide expanded clarification. This is often due to the fact that applicable laws don’t always keep up with emerging industries. Relatively speaking, using virtual currency in an app is a relatively new phenomena. Developers should consult with legal experts to determine whether their products qualify as money transmitters.

If the regulations do apply, the developer or company must register with FinCEN and implement a Bank Security Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) program. They must also appoint an officer to oversee the program. This individual’s duties would include gathering identifying info from users, reporting suspicious transactions, and training personnel in the appropriate anti-money laundering procedures.

As of now, developers face two major obstacles in regards to protecting users and limiting disputes related to the use of blockchain currency. They must develop ways to ensure that any data written into a blockchain code is accurate, and they must create ways to write that data in.

The takeaway:

These are not minor tasks in order to ensure full compliance with blockchain implementation into an app. That’s why it’s necessary to continue staying abreast of the relevant legal principles.

Blockchain currency will likely have a positive overall impact on apps, allowing developers to expand the features their products offer while enjoying greater rewards for themselves. Said developers must simply make sure they’re not jeopardizing themselves or their customers by failing to adhere to the restrictions governing its use.

Developing Cross-Channel Apps That Influence Consumer Purchasing Decision

It’s true that e-commerce has dramatically changed the way the average consumer shops. Steady in-store foot traffic has been slumping for years, while online research becomes more prevalent for today's consumers. Before making big purchases -- those that cost $500 or more -- approximately 80 percent of shoppers start their journey with online research.

Simultaneously, smartphones are playing a bigger role in shopping, and even connects shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores. While browsing in a physical store, 73 percent of shoppers are on their smartphones doing research on the products they consider buying.

In other words, even outside the realm of e-commerce, a brand’s web presence still impacts a customers’ purchasing decisions. Brands can use this knowledge to their advantage by developing apps that help users learn more about their products. While some companies may be tempted to rely on their mobile sites, apps offer benefits that mobile sites don’t.

Advantages of mobile apps for retailers:

According to a recent survey, consumers spend about seven times longer on mobile apps than sites or browsers. Shopping apps are also rising in popularity: In 2014, mobile shopping app downloads increased by a whopping 170 percent.

It’s also worth noting that among customers who turn to their browsers for research, 60 percent begin on a search engine, 61 percent read customer reviews before making a decision, and 51 percent abandon their carts if a digital annoyance happens before customers reach the point-of-sale.

Additionally, during the research and transaction phase, a lot of other distractions on the internet could keep shoppers from completing the transaction. With a mobile app, this isn’t as much of a problem.

Apps also allow retailers to customize their own analytics so they can more effectively track customer behavior. An app also keeps your brand at top of mind for customers. Think about it: they’re constantly seeing your brand’s icon on their mobile device and soon enough, you’re integrated into their daily life.

cross-channel apps

What's in an app?

Just because an app can help boost sales, doesn’t mean that any ol' app will succeed. Your app needs to  genuinely offer useful features that make life easier for the consumer.

1. Embracing new technologies is one way to offer features that are truly valuable. For instance, augmented reality technology is capable of allowing users to “try” certain products at home before making the purchase decision.

Case in point is Wayfair Inc.’s app called Wayfair View, which allows users to superimpose images of furniture or fixtures onto images of their homes, so they can better understand what an item might look like in the physical space.

IKEA released a similar app. Sephora uses AR to let users “try on” makeup virtually. When customers can try products via their mobile devices, they’re more likely to head to a store and make a purchase.

2. Gamification is another way of making an app valuable to customers. Just consider Nike’s app, which lets users connect the app with a FuelBand. They can then post goals, track workouts, and challenge others to competitions. The app tracks a user’s achievements, rewarding them with loyalty points they can trade in for benefits, like advanced workouts and customized product ordering. Gamification makes the app fun, while also driving purchases and brand loyalty.

3. Optimizing the brick-and-mortar shopping experience is another way brands can connect all points on the customer journey. For example, New York ice cream brand Van Leeuwen partnered with PayPal to offer location-based promotions. Users who download the PayPal app and enroll in the program are alerted with coupons and similar promotional offers whenever they get near one of the ice cream shops. Other brands could develop apps that offer coupons when users step into a designated geo-fenced field.

While mobile sites are crucial for brand building, apps have huge potential to greatly improve the retail experience while keeping your brand constantly in customers’ minds. Develop one that customers truly value, and you’ll see sales boost in both your virtual and brick-and-mortar stores.

SEE ALSO: The secrets to successful brand building tomorrow > 

What AR Developers Need to Know About Smartphones

 

It was only about a decade ago that smartphone technology came onto the scene, and now nearly everyone has one in their reach. That’s partially due to the fact that many corresponding technologies have also evolved at a fast pace. Smartphone companies must work diligently to take advantage of the many new features these developments make possible.

Augmented reality, for example, has already substantially expanded the theoretical capabilities of mobile devices. AR allows developers to create apps that would not have been viable just a few years ago by overlaying a virtual world on top of the real one displayed on your phone’s screen. Experts predict the augmented reality industry to reach $50 billion in revenue by 2021. This success is largely spurred by the belief in its potential, which begins with how it is harnessed and utilized on smartphone devices.

We are also starting to see examples of businesses leveraging AR to solve common problems in their industry.For example, Amikasa’s AR app for iOS that allows users to place the company’s furniture in their homes. By placing the animated furniture into the real-life setting, customers can accurately view the product before they buy, thereby reducing the amount of returns that plagues  many retail businesses.

In healthcare, Orca Health’s EyeDecide app lets patients and medical professionals diagnose common eye conditions. Thus, considering about 50 percent of adults in the U.S. have limited literacy when it comes to healthcare, this app is making self-diagnosis more simple, easy, and accessible.

The Opportunities:

Major tech companies are also adding fuel to the AR revolution fire. First,  with the release of iOS 11, Apple provided developers with ARKit. This is a set of tools that makes it easier to build AR products for Apple devices. Then, Google was quick to follow suit, releasing ARCore, which serves the same purpose for Android apps. In both instances, developers are reaping huge benefits. These programs bypass the need for proprietary creation tools, depth sensors, and other additional technologies often needed to develop and launch AR apps.

In other words, millions of mobile devices are already capable of running AR products. Therefore, AR developers need to understand what the next generation of smartphones will be able to do. Additionally, they need to know how they can create ideal apps for them. Already, examples of ARKit and ARCore apps range from amusing ones like having a virtual tourist guide  to ARKit’s Human Anatomy Atlas 2018 for healthcare professionals, medical students, and other interested parties.

AR developers - iPhone

Working Examples of AR Apps

In retail, IKEA has experimented with an app – IKEA Place – that lets users superimpose virtual images of furniture or fixtures onto their surroundings. This way, they have a better sense of how a certain item will look in their home.

Shoe brand Converse offers a similar functionality for users in that their Sampler app lets users visualize how their shoes will look on them . By placing the shoe over the person’s foot via the smartphone’s camera, customers can virtually see how the shoe looks before purchase, leading to greater customer satisfaction, brand engagement, and diminished product returns.

AR apps’ applications in more serious circumstances are emerging, too. For example, Touch Surgery has evolved from a mobile simulation to a fully-fledged AR app. Touch Surgery is a training platform for medical professionals. Therefore, it not only guides them as they learn, but can also assist during the surgical procedure.

The Challenges

Clearly, AR has the potential to revolutionize what we use smartphones and other mobile devices for. So, why hasn’t the technology exploded in popularity? Right now, it’s mainly due to hardware limitations. Because AR is fairly new, most mobile devices aren’t built specifically for its products. Now that Apple and Google have provided developers with the tools they need to create AR apps, it’s clear that both companies plan to upgrade the hardware of their future devices. Google expects “hundreds of millions”of Android devices will deploy AR in the coming year.

That means developers shouldn’t impose strict limits on their plans. While many consumers may not have access to AR-friendly hardware now, they will in the near future. For example, Apple plans to release upgraded iPhone X’s in 2018. Developers should therefore enthusiastically explore the possibilities of this technology.

They should also consider how AR will expand the usefulness of devices like wearable headsets. As these devices become sleeker and more efficient, they could eventually render smartphones obsolete. With Apple expected to launch their first AR headset in 2020, the future looks bright for wearables to proliferate at even greater rate than AR-enabled smartphones. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says, “ Think about how many of the things around us don't actually need to be physical… Instead of a $500 TV sitting in front of us, what's to keep us from one day having it be a $1 app?”

Conclusion

That being said, while the death of the smartphone may be inevitable, it won’t arrive anytime soon. What will arrive is the smartphone that’s built specifically to support AR products. Developers interested in keeping up with the evolution of smartphone technology should begin exploring what they can do with it now.

In the future, AR technology will evolve in its applications for both users and businesses. We can expect to see major advancements for it particularly for marketers. It is termed a “trillion-dollar opportunity” for advertisers, which means we can expect it to greatly impact the daily lives of consumers. Finally, look out for AR’s expanded use in healthcare, manufacturing, and across other fields as advancements influence employee training, medical procedures, and much, much more

Now you can train to be a drone pilot without ever leaving your living room

Scan the headlines these days and it’s hard to ignore drones. They’re shooting photographs and videos. They’re surveying sites and properties. They’re carrying blood samples over deserts.

Aside from transforming industries, drones are just tons of fun. Just ask around and likely the majority of people you know have dreamt of flying a drone at some point. But to do so takes real skill. This can get tricky especially if you live in a city where space is limited and the intended pilot face risks of crashing, hefty fines, endangering pedestrians, and even legal charges.

But what if we told you that the future is here, and you can now eliminate all the red tape and hazards of the past? That you can take the skies without all the confusion and risks? Because you can’t crash this drone.

Here’s the deal: We recently teamed up with Epson -- yes, the people who made your printer -- and drone company DJI to launch the world's first augmented reality drone flight simulator app optimized for Epson Moverio BT-300 smart glasses.

The best part about this augmented reality collaboration is that the virtual drone responds exactly the same way a real drone would. Through the use of a DJI drone controller, users can essentially train for real drone flying because the physics are accurate. And the virtual drone isn’t a toyish-looking, generic one. Instead, it’s a ghost version of a real DJI drone.

There are also games built into the augmented reality app, so you can practice your pilot skills by flying through hoops and picking up powerups.

Eventually, we see this expanding beyond the singular experience into multiplayer drone flying. As long as your friends have Epson’s Moverio BT-300FPV smart glasses, you can soon take the skies together.

Want to try out the experience of this AR design? Now you can at any DJI store.

And if you want to learn more about us, check out our featured case studies.

The 5 Hottest Fintech Trends to Watch for in 2018

If there was ever any doubt that a fintech revolution is underway, that time is gone.

Just take a look around you, and it's clear that financial technology is disrupting the traditional financial services industry. By embracing the latest technological innovations, fintech startups have been able to provide users with a degree of convenience that banks and similar institutions have yet to match.

This trend will continue as fintech companies continue to make use of new tools and techniques. The following are some of the more significant fintech trends that are likely to develop in the near future.

1. The Rise of Mobile Trading

Mobile fintech apps like Matador have ushered in a new age for anyone who has ever wanted to invest in the stock market. By jettisoning the brick-and-mortar offices of traditional invest firms, these services allow users to invest without having to pay broker fees. This makes it much easier for people with limited capital to make investments.

It’s highly likely that existing firms will also begin developing their own mobile strategy and software to facilitate easier mobile trading.

2. Increased Collaboration

Financial technology is disrupting an industry full of established practices. Strategic people working for traditional financial institutions recognize that collaboration with startups will be key to their survival.

If banks do partner up with fintech companies, everyone wins. The startup brings a fresh, convenient approach to financial services.

Meanwhile, the bank has the experience to help them navigate the regulations that dominate the financial services industry. This allows startups to release their products more efficiently.

3. Blockchain Technology

Although it’s only about a decade old, blockchain technology is poised to have a major impact on fintech. That’s because it allows banks to create digital ledgers that record transactions in real-time.

This ledger is accessible to anyone in the community. As such, it will boost the overall efficiency of processes like international wire transfers. It’s simply going to be much easier for banks to confirm where money is coming from and where it’s going.

4. Efficient Transactions

Fintech development companies often strive to reduce the friction involved in a transaction. For example, consider Amazon Go, the e-commerce company’s brick-and-mortar project. Allowing customers to simply walk into the shop and walk out with their goods (the transaction is processed digitally) offers tremendous convenience to users.

That being said, while people may enjoy the convenience of frictionless transactions, they need to be more careful when making purchases. Otherwise, they’re likely to suffer from buyer’s remorse. It’s easy to spend more than you planned when buying something is a one-step process. The same rule applies for investment and other financial-related activities.

5. Increased Lending

Amazon recently announced that they’ve already loaned over $1 billion to their merchants via their lending department. As such, companies like Amazon have a lot of data about their merchants, thanks to the nature of digital connectivity. Thus, it's easier for them to assess whether or not it’s safe to lend funds to a merchant.

Other companies are following suit in this fintech trend. This helps individuals and organizations who might not qualify for a bank loan acquire the funds they need to grow their own businesses. Increased lending via fintech services will likely have a substantial impact on the entire economy as small businesses gain more opportunities to thrive.

As with any technological revolution, it’s not entirely possible to predict all the innovations and fintech trends we can expect in this industry. However, these five represent some of the most likely financial technology developments we can look forward to in the near future. Very soon, they’re going to reshape the way virtually everyone spends, saves, and invests their money.

How to Calculate ROI for AR Technologies

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, it’s hard not to have heard that augmented reality (AR) has become the biggest thing of 2017.

It used to be that only the potential ROI for AR technology could be sold to investors. Now, however, there are strong results showing what AR development can do for businesses and their customers.

Calculating ROI for AR advertising

The calculations for AR ROI are fairly simple. The most basic pseudo-scientific formula is:

Sales Growth - Marketing Cost) / Marketing Cost = ROI

Marketing costs should include software development time along with the fees charged by the digital agency to create the AR solutions.

The ROI for AR design gets calculated just like traditional media campaigns. As such, you figure out the total cost for exposure and circulation rates against the general increase in sales, or other quantifiable returns such as engagement and social shares.

One of the more exciting things about AR advertising is that unlike traditional forms of media engagement, all interactions with AR marketing materials are measurable. So, too, is the precise direction each individual took after viewing content on an AR platform. Therefore, this makes calculating ROI for AR more accurate than for any other digital marketing methods.

Why AR technology is worth it to your bottom line

They say, “show me the money!” and AR research says that it expects the market to generate over $120 billion in revenue by 2020.

If you have ever experienced AR, you will understand how powerful its content can be. Therefore, augmented reality companies have seen their popularity rise in recent years, not only from brands but also from customers. This kind of desire differentiates AR from other forms of marketing and customer engagement efforts. Users must consciously opt-in to receive AR advertising materials, making it far more valuable.

For instance, Blipps from AR technologies hold consumer attention longer than traditional TV or radio adverts. Typically, it’s 75 seconds for a blipp versus 30 seconds for TV or radio.

Increased coverage of AR design is another benefit that positively impacts your ROI. With the AR market expected to continue rising in the coming years, exposure is also expected to boom. This results in greater ease of marketing the technology and consumer adoption, and a boost to brands’ bottom lines.

Quantifiable engagement on augmented reality solutions boosts ROI

Thanks to all of the interactions within an AR platform being measurable, strategic insight for advertising campaigns is easier to obtain. This includes: A/B testing, analyzing different media partner’s conversions, and discovering which locations produce the best responses. These results are also obtained faster and no longer require guesstimation.

The real-time dynamic nature of AR technology in combination with the deeper levels of engagement mean businesses can see faster returns on their investment. Elements of a campaign that may need tweaking to provide better results can be compared with the success of competitors. This makes it easier to decide which changes might be beneficial, or if the returns accrued are on par or better than industry standards.

How to earn more ROI from AR advertising

A few guidelines you should follow to ensure your ROI is strong and your predictive calculations meet your actual return.

1. Develop AR solutions that help, reward, or entertain your customers. Don’t lose sight of the user experience along the way, or sacrifice utility for design.

2. Educate your customers in your AR advertising effortsYou’ll need to show them exactly how to interact with your platform, and the actions you want them to take when using it.

3. Set clear goals and strategies for cross-platform use. As you undergo AR app development or other AR design, consider how and where the end product will appear to people. For example, consider features like will it be an in-person ad viewable by the public? Or is your marketing conducted through its own standalone app?  

4. Make sure you’re getting the word out about your AR design. Use the various marketing mediums and sites at your disposal for distributing your branded message with AR advertising. For example, make an announcement on your Facebook page about the launch of your augmented reality app.

The potential of AR solutions for industries across all verticals is immense. With the added advantage AR technology offers in terms of immediate measurable results, calculating ROI has never been easier. Simple calculations, hard evidence on effectiveness, and following clear campaign guidelines will allow you to boost your bottom line when advertising your AR design.

Strategies for Better Mobile Banking with Apple iOS 11

Together, with mobile and iOS 11, we’re making banking better.

As customers increasingly engage with paperless and on-demand interactions, they expect their financial providers to also offer the same services across all channels.

According to a study by Bain & Company, Mobile is the most likely channel to delight retail banking customers in the US, UK, Australia, China, South Korea and Japan. In fact, a 2015 SNL Financial survey showed that over 25 percent of customers who changed banks that year did so for a better mobile banking experience.

Source: AppAnnie

As more and more users turn to mobile for their financial interactions, it is vitally important for banks to plan ahead for the new technologies and design paradigms unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) this year.

These are a few of the strategies that we recommend:

Vision, Augmented Reality, and Machine Learning: Your money; faster, smarter, safer than ever.

Today, Mitek’s Mobile Cheque Deposit is being used by 5,600 banks, credit unions and brokerages to deposit cheques through mobile phones across the globe. Eighty million consumers love Mobile Deposit for its ease and convenience. This phenomenal growth is entirely due to the integration of banking infrastructure with phone capabilities permitted by camera access and wireless Internet. However, the apps we engage for these processes are finally reaching a stage where they can correct errors and guide humans in a much more personalized way.

With the new iOS 11, Apple has opened up its platform to integrate Vision, Augmented Reality and Machine Learning Kits, which have given rise to a much faster and seamless mobile banking experience. Some benefits:

  • Mobile Check Deposit: The user experience will be vastly improved with on-device validation for cheque deposits with Augmented Reality and Vision Kit augmentation of planar detection (think flat surfaces), light check (think flash and error for dark images), text detection (signature, etc.). The need to rely on the internet to validate information—for example, in cases when the mobile check image sent from a bank might be imperfect—becomes virtually eliminated, saving the user from the hassle of re-sending images, as well saving large amounts of those precious MBs.  Data costs users money.  Not only did transactions just get faster; they got cheaper too.

Source: washtrust.com

  • Inbuilt Barcode & QR detection: iOS 11 will automatically detect QR codes and provide appropriate CTAs when scanned with iOS camera. This is a giant step forward in terms of mobile banking efficiency.  It eliminates the need for users to download an app or to scan the QR code to a separate location. Banks can provide easy-to-use QR codes for businesses to accept payments directly, linking the app internally; the user can complete their transaction without manually inputting the information. The customer experience is improved by a speedier, less demanding transaction. 

Furthermore, inbuilt QR detection helps with new-user onboarding: imagine receiving a bank statement or initial-offer letter from a financial institute with a personalized QR code containing all your information. Upon scanning the QR code, it will deep link to the FI’s app and then segue immediately into the next steps in the app. It’s utterly innovative and friction free.

  • ML Kit - Machine Learning: Banking apps can become more intelligent using machine learning with Core ML - iOS framework to integrate machine learning models into their apps. Core ML will allow the apps to use on-device hardware resources to do intensive deep learning & data training tasks and provide better value to the users, while still ensuring the privacy of users’ data.

For example: machine learning can be leveraged for budgeting and understanding consumption patterns. Research shows that 70% of consumers check their account balance when making a bigger purchase. Using the power of machine learning, financial apps can now recognize when a customer is more likely to spend money—like when the rent, as well as major money is due.  Based on that knowledge, they can advise users to plan more discretionary purchases—air pods, furniture, Christmas presents—accordingly. The obvious advantage to consumers is budgeting assistance, as well as increased awareness of account balances, even when a customer is offline.

Thinking beyond apps

Mobile Apps are just one form of the banking experience that financial institutions can provide to their users—but that is far from where the story ends. It is critical that these companies think beyond the norm and look towards innovation for the mobile experience, whether it be engaging automatic assistance platforms or embracing whole new forms of communication.

Siri

Use of voice to buy a product or service, send money to friends or pay a bill is estimated to increase to 31% of US adults by 2021 according to this BI report. As of today, Siri can help users pay bills (“Siri pay the current balance on my rental bill”), as well as send and request money from friends (with apps like Venmo and Paypal).

With iOS 11, Siri will be able to help you stay on top of your account balances, as well help complete tasks like transfers, without even opening the app. Essentially, the user no longer has to open the app and navigate their way through a transfer of, say, $500, from their checking account to savings. Instead, Siri will allow the user to say “Transfer $500 from my checking to savings account within My Awesome Bank,” and all this can be securely verified and completed using fingerprint authentication. Literally, with the touch of a button.

Source: VentureBeat.com

Why integrate this?

Simple account access and management is the #1 most frequently praised feature by users (in current reviews across all top banking apps). Using Siri, we can now provide this functionality to users without even opening the app thus providing a much faster, cleaner and smoother approach to their most frequently used banking experience.  Advances in voice-powered operations provide users not only with advancement in these tools but a cleaner, faster, less demanding approach to their entire banking experience.

And this is just the beginning.  It is very likely that Siri will soon be able to handle commercial payments (we predict in next year). Also, with the advent of HomePod and Car Play, Siri’s capabilities are certainly going to extend beyond the iPhone.

Business Chat

This year, Apple introduced Business Chat for iMessage, which lets customers contact and interact with businesses directly in Messages, facilitating a simple and more accessible means of communication.

With Business Chat, customers will find message icons alongside the names of businesses in Siri, Safari, Spotlight, and Maps. They can click on these icons to initiate a personalized chat wherein they can ask questions, schedule appointments, and make purchases—all with built-in features—by connecting the user with business’s customer service platform.

For example, a bank could set up business chat that allows users to schedule an in-person appointment, purely through messaging them and thereby eliminating the need to go to their website or calling. It could also integrate their mortgage department into Business Chat for people looking to get more information about loans and thereby providing a much more personalized service via text message without bothering users through calling or emails. (Thing that Millennials love these days: text!)

Source: Apple

Why Plan for this?

Banking relies heavily on customer service. Having a personalized chat gives customers a chance to talk with the banker/customer service representative on-demand without even downloading the app. Realistically, not all customers are going to have mobile banking app installed. Business Chat acts as a much simpler on-demand method of communication with the user and adds a human touch to the experience. Business Chat can then prompt the user to download the app right from the chat window for a later use.

Conclusion

Many financial institutions fear a takeover by mobile banking and the subsequent extinction of the local branch.  We feel that these fears are unmerited. Mobile isn’t about less, it’s about expansion. As banks open up their customer data securely across platforms, these mobile experiences will be able to leverage the true USP of the platform and create better value for the end customer. Users might use ATMs for withdrawal, mobile app for transferring money, Chatbot for investment advice and retail branch loan applications or to open accounts. Eventually, banking will mature and become omnipresent — anytime anywhere and in the way we need it.

With iOS 11’s coming adoption this fall, now is the time to start considering what the future truly looks like.  Mobile isn’t everything, but it is a new beginning.  We want to help you innovate, plan, and implement solutions quickly, not just for the coming revolution, but for what comes after.  And after that.  And after that.  

You are here for your customers.  And we are here for you.

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