Tell us about your app! Botpocalypse is a fast-paced, survival-style arcade game where gamers can compete against friends for the highest score or longest survival time, acquire new characters, and unlock achievements.
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Stories Behind the Apps - Botpocalypse
A Year of Stories Behind the Apps
Whew, it has been a year since we launched our Stories Behind the Apps feature and what an amazing journey it has been.
Stories Behind the Apps – Sudoku in Space
Tell us about your game! Sudoku In Space launches the classic paper-and-pencil game into orbit with its sleek design and stellar graphics and sounds. Its colors-only mode is a brilliant alternative to the traditional sudoku with numbers, providing an entertaining twist to both novice and experienced players.
Stories Behind the Apps – Flock
Tell us about your app! Flock is a messaging app for making group plans. It allows people to let their friends know of casual plans (i.e. “I wanna grab brunch in the East Village this weekend”) and then figure out the details in a group chat before confirming a specific time and location.
How is Flock different from similar apps? There are a couple main differences compared to group messaging, which is what we see as our biggest competition. Most importantly, you can create plans in 3 taps. Check out this demo: https://vine.co/v/MnqHQ22b9jL. Additionally, you can join or leave the conversation whenever you like. Lastly, the activity of interest is always front and center, so no more endless group chats where you forget why you started the conversation in the first place. We’re trying to get people together OFFLINE, not online.
What went into the design and UI? We worked with a couple different people to help us with our branding and the user interface. We worked with We Are Moving Things (http://wearemovingthings.com/) to help us with our icon. We loved their simplistic approach and think they did a great job of creating a fun and friendly logo. For the user interface, we spent a lot of time trying to make the event creation process as simple as possible. We tried to minimize the taps by giving ppl suggestions for each part of the plan (what, where, and when). For the aesthetics we worked closely with Keiran Flanigan (aka Aeliox, https://dribbble.com/aeliox). He helped us update our design for iOS 7 and improve the user experience as well.
What tools did you use in building the app? Parse.com was crucial in our effort since it allowed us to offset our whole back end development. The Facebook API worked well as a quick authentication and sign up mechanism. As always the StackOverflow community always came to the rescue when specific coding questions arose.
What lessons did you learn during this process? Don’t rely on Facebook. Their API changes annually modifying even the most significant portions with very short back support times.
What went right and wrong with the release? We decided to become a “messaging app” too late in the development cycle and missed the growing trend of moving away from social media based registration and friend discovery. We also didn’t focus enough on making it a good experience for people that download the app for the first time and don’t have any friends on it yet.
Who is on the team and what are your roles? Misha does iOS development, and Adam focuses on web development and product. Misha built the iOS app from scratch, while Adam helped lead the design efforts and built the app’s landing page.
What were you doing prior to creating Flock? We both currently have full-time jobs at other companies, and see Flock as a fun side project to try and solve a problem we both have. Misha is a technical consultant for Southern Company, a fortune 500 utilities co based in Atlanta, GA. Adam is a product focused developer at SeatGeek, a NY based ticket search engine startup.
What other apps inspire you? Adam – My two favorite apps at the moment are Venmo and Camoji. Venmo has made it ridiculously easy to split bills with my friends, while Camoji is a fun way to create and send GIFs to your friends via text message. Misha – Feedly is my favorite news consumption app which I use constantly. Paypal has the most convenient mobile payment system that I’ve used to date.
Head over to the App Store and download Flock!
Hey app devs! Wanna be featured like our friends at Flock? Click Here
Stories Behind the Apps - Tap to Play
Tap to Play is offering our Stories Behind the Apps readers an exclusive code to redeem for 500 FREE Coins! The coupon code is POWERSLYDE and can be entered HERE. The code is limited to 500 uses and expires December 1, 2014.
Tell us about your games app! Tap To Play is a growing collection of casual games (currently 11), that players can play alone or against others. You can find and challenge your friends, play against random players, chat with your opponents, compete in leaderboards, share your results, level up, and more.
How is Tap to Play different from similar apps? Tap To Play borrows the social aspect from Draw Something, Wordfeud, Ruzzle etc, but instead of playing one game, players get the chance to play many different games. We also made the chat a more central part of the experience, and added many interesting statistics to keep the players engaged.
We’re confident that we’ve created a very good app. The menus feel slick, the games are easy to get into but very challenging, and we’ve made the app very social. One thing we’re really proud of is that all our games are original. They do borrow some concepts from other games, but we didn’t set out to do a collection of clones. We wanted to offer something unique.
We’ve also made the decision to go easy on monetization, because we want to focus on having happy users. There’s not too many ads, and even though there are in app purchases to buy coins which allow you to unlock new games, we’ve made it possible to do everything without paying. There are many ways to earn coins, so you can unlock everything without spending anything. Off course, if players want to support us, the option is there to buy extra coins.
What went into the icon design and UI? When we designed the UI for Tap To Play we were trying to go for a native iOS feeling, but still keep it fun and colorful so it felt more like a game than an app. Since Tap To Play doesn’t only contain games but a lot of UI as well, we had to spend a lot of time and thought into every screen and the flow of the app.
When we initially soft-launched the game we had a very simplistic icon of our mascot Otto on a yellow background to make it feel fresh – since after iOS7, flat icons were the trend. We felt rather quickly that we could lose a lot of players browsing the store with that icon because it did not really describe what our app was about, so we changed it to make it look more game-like and fun, and we added the hand to tie in with our title and game mechanics.
What went right and wrong with the release? My HTML5 skills have definitely improved. I also learned how to work with Unity’s 2D sprite system, which was new at the time we started developing our app. Development went mostly smooth. Off course we ran into issues and bugs, but we managed to solve them all.
Marketing an app is tricky though. With thousands of apps coming our each month, it’s hard to get noticed. I managed to get some exposure on local television and in local newspapers, which has helped give us some nice spikes in downloads, but those die down quickly each time. We have some users that really love the app, but it’s not enough yet.
I think our main mistake was ignoring Twitter. We didn’t create a following of fans before we launched, a mistake we’re now rectifying.
Who is on the team and what are your roles? The app took 6 months to develop, with a team of 3 people: Sven Magnus (that’s me) took care of the technical side, so I did the programming, server set up, and I also wrote the music and came up with the concept for about half the games in the collection. Mikael Tyrsen was the creative director. He designed all the menus, implemented them in HTML/CSS, and came up with the other game ideas. James Sparkman did all character designs, graphics and animations.We also had some outside help for the translations, from my mom and dad (for German and French), and from outside contractors.
What were you doing prior to creating Tap to Play? I’m a freelance game developer from Belgium, who works for clients and on personal projects. Some years ago, I came in contact with Mikael (who lives in LA) through the internet. We’ve worked on numerous projects for clients together, but this is the first personal project we did together.
James has been working with Mikael for a while too. They know each other in real life, but since I live in Belgium, I’ve never actually met them. Off course, once the money starts rolling in, I’ll go visit them!
What other apps inspire you? Definitely Facebook and Messenger. I do about 90% of my digital communication through Facebook, whether it’s chatting with friends or with clients. On the iPad, I use GarageBand a lot to record bass and guitar for my band. I also play WordFeud a lot – and I always win
Head over to the App Store to download Tap to Play!
Stories Behind the Apps - TRIOMPHE
Please tell us about your app! TRIOMPHE is created by a native speaking French teacher to support students preparing for French exams at GCSE, ALevel, IB and DELF.
I created this App because with 30 students per classroom, I realised very quickly it was just impossible to correct the pronunciation of everyone. We built this app to satisfy the demands of the talented students who really desire to understand the French language.
Through continual communication and feedback with and from my students and customers, I have spent a lot of time understanding their needs and what will help them to take their spoken French to a higher level. With this in mind, I began to develop a substantial curriculum which is aligned to exam boards criteria.
We wanted to ensure students and users can practise their listening and pronunciation skills with a native French teacher. TRIOMPHE is a complete tutor in that, it explains the written rules in both English and French.
How is the app different from similar apps? TRIOMPHE explains the pronunciation and written rules of the French language along with practical exercises to fully enable learning. You will learn the French way and understand the language at a much deeper level than existing apps. We believe this app is an innovative step forward in French learning.
TRIOMPHE is mainly focused on pronunciation, written rules, gender classification for nouns and matching adjectives correctly. A unique aspect of this is that the user can easily track progress and also revise and rectify mistakes.
Tell us about the app icon and design. We created our Icon from our collection of photos and images. Our objective was to ensure the icon design was clean and colourful. We also wanted to highlight the name of the app and it’s clear message of linguistic success: “TRIOMPHE over your French Exam!” “Triumph” and `Triomphe’ mean the same thing in both English and French: to succeed!
All the design work was done using PowerPoint, Paint and Photoshop. We spent over a month debating how we wanted it to look and get to a point we were happy with.
What resources or communities assisted you in building the app? The sound and the quality of the pronunciation was really important for us, so we worked very hard at getting it right. Technically, again we worked incredibly hard to making sure the app was easy to navigate. Friends and Family really helped with continual testing before the initial release.
What did you learn building the app? I learned that you need to be very patient and determined!
I am so completely passionate about helping people to learn French. It is become more like a hobby to me than a job, I learn something new everyday and I want to share with others the best way to learn. If people learn as much about the French language as I have learned in the development of this app, I will be incredibly happy and proud.
Who is on the team and what are your roles? We are a very small team of 2 ! We are : Anders Christensen -product developer and myself ( Co-Founders ). So you can appreciate that the development of the app was a massive challenge.
Agnes Gaillard, creator of TRIOMPHE
What were you doing prior to building the app? I was and I continue to be a french teacher here in the UK. I teach my children, students and customers the French Way with the same methodology I have developed on my app! Most importantly I can say from my own experience: “ it WORKS!” My children did their own french GCSE in Year 8 and Year 5 with both of them gaining an A* each.
Head over to the iTunes App Store to download TRIOMPHE. Hey you app devs! Wanna be featured like TRIOMPHE? Be sure to check out http://www.powerslyde.com/get-discovered
YEC Answers: 9 Tips for Developing a New Mobile App
Considering how saturated the app market is, what advice would you give to an entrepreneur developing a new mobile app? -CitizenTEKK
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Identify Factors
This one is simple because I am working on my own mobile app now and have been doing a crazy amount of research in this area. Basically, find the sticky factor and the viral factor. What this means is what makes the end user want to come back and add content on a daily (if not more) basis? Then, after they add their content, what makes them want to share that with their network?
Andrew Vest ( https://twitter.com/
2. Gather Usage Metrics
Due to the overwhelming amount of mobile apps in the market, it is very important that you analyze your app through metrics. Services such as Mixpanel can be integrated into your app to gather important usage data, which can guide you to the compelling portions of your app. Once you identify how and what your users find value in, you can focus on those and remove underutilized features.
Phil Chen ( https://twitter.com/
3. Deliver Value
In the oversaturated startup and app market, delivering value that users can see, understand and that truly delights is job one. Your app doesn’t have to change your users’ world — but if it makes their live easier or more rich, you may be onto something.
Brendan Mangus ( http://twitter.com/bpmangus
4. Think International
App developers have set their benchmarks on the U.S. market, forgetting how quickly Asia, South America and Europe are booming in the mobile space. Create apps that can go global and provide value in more than just one language.
Grant Gordon ( https://twitter.com/
5. Launch in Test Markets
Launch your app in test markets first. So much of gaining traction in the app store comes down to either being featured or being a top 25 app. The best way to game the system is to test your app out in small regional markets before you launch in the U.S. Work out the bugs and figure out what drives downloads. Don’t launch too early in the U.S.
Adam Lieb ( http://www.twitter.com/
6. Solve Real-World Problems and Stay Committed Through the Iterations
The app market is indeed saturated. However, most of the apps are poorly built. This is the result of hopefuls building apps just to build one, and this mindset is generally wrong for an entrepreneur. Focus on solving real-world problems you are passionate about. Remember that startups and app development go through iterations. You will not always get it right the first time. Stay committed.
Gideon Kimbrell ( http://twitter.com/
7. Solve One Problem Extremely Well
Too many app builders try to solve too many problems at the same time. It’s not about how many features your app has; it’s about how well you’ve been able to perfect the one your app was built for in the first place. Build a clean, beautiful app that executes its main job extremely well. Once you deliver a great user experience, you are already ahead of 90 percent of the competition.
Juha Liikala ( http://www.twitter.com/
8. Ensure a Strong PR Launch
When you launch a new app, make sure you make a splash in the media. That requires a significant amount of legwork prior to launching your app. You don’t want to have to pitch a story to media outlets about a product that has been out for months already. Hit the ground running by preparing customized media pitches for specific journalists well in advance of the launch.
Chuck Cohn ( http://twitter.com/chuckcohn
9. Research Trends
App developers should invest a lot of attention in trending technologies, particularly geo-targeted push notifications, cloud/Dropbox integration, social media sharing options, easy transactional features and light battery usage. Although some trends turn out to be just fads, these user-friendly developments are already showing strong staying power.
Phil Laboon ( http://twitter.com/#!/
Live Mobile! Congress Reveals Massive Growth in Mobile Markets
Russia’s largest mobile conference reveals year-on-year 40% smartphone growth, 140% tablet growth, and projected 71% growth in mobile gaming by 2016.
Moscow and San Francisco – November 22, 2013 – The largest mobile conference in Russia—and one of the largest mobile events in Europe—Live Mobile! European Mobile Congress has revealed surprising new insights into mobile marketing, mobile hardware, carrier services, and applications.
Speaking at the event, Alisa Chumachenko, founder and CEO of Game Insight — the event’s subject matter expert — said, “For the second year in a row, we’ve acted as an organizer for this conference. And considering the incredible growth of mobile in Europe — especially in Russia — we feel that such events are very important for the development of the industry. Events like Live Mobile! are essential, because we all need to be aware of current changes and share our experiences with each other. Game Insight is happy to be the organizer and subject matter expert for Live Mobile!, and we hope that the event will be even more successful next year.”
A point reiterated by many experts at the conference was the increasing use of smartphones and tablets among younger audiences, and how these users are open to incentivized in-app or cross-promo advertisements. Representatives from mobile analytics agencies, AppAnnie and Flurry, reinforced this point, stating that games are now the leading category driving app store revenue, having increased some 125% in revenue year-on-year since 2012 by way of the now market-dominating in-app purchase business model.
In addition, the Russian mobile application market is projected to see rapid and continued growth in the next three years, with tablet applications projected to grow 109% between now and 2016 (compared to just 86% worldwide). The Russian gaming market in particular is projected to grow 71%, between now and 2016, from 38 million players to an estimated 65 million. And as of September 2013, Russia has become third in combined iOS and Google Play game downloads, only being surpassed by the United States at #1, and China at #2. Specifically, Russia appears to be an extremely desirable market for iPad game developers — some 40% of all iOS games downloaded in Russia were for Apple’s tablet computer, with the Russian mobile game market overall being dominated by strategy and arcade game titles.
Key Insights from Live Mobile! 2013:
- More than 50% of Russian tablet users consume mobile video, daily
- More than 50% of Russian smartphone/tablet users access mobile internet, daily
- More than 50% of Russian mobile users play mobile games, daily
- More than 50% of Russian mobile users are not opposed to incentivized in-app ads
- More than 60% of Russian mobile users access social media via a mobile device- Social network VKontakte is twice as popular as Facebook in Russia among mobile users
Past Twelve Months (2012-2013):
- Russian mobile internet growth: +2.6% iPad, +5.7% iPhone & Android
- Russia’s mobile internet penetration increased 55% overall
- Russian smartphone penetration increased from 12.3M to 17.4M (40% growth)
- Russian tablet penetration increased from 2.5M to 6.0M (140% growth)- Russia has moved up over the past year to become the #3 country in combined iOS and Google Play game downloads
Past Three Years (2010-2013):
- Russian mobile video audiences have grown tenfold, from 2M to 20M
- In comparison, USA mobile video audiences have grown 2.5x, from 30M to 80M
- Russian Java games have decreased in market share 3x; mobile games increased by 20x
Additional: Worldwide Mobile Usage Among Young People:
- 18% of children 8-11 years of age use or have access to a smartphone or a tablet computer
- 62% of children 12-15 years of age use or have access to a smartphone
- 26% of children 12-15 years of age use or have access to a tablet computer
- 42% of children 5-15 years of age user or have access to a tablet; only 14% did in 2012
Top Startup and Tech News Today: 7 Things You Missed Today
1. Amazon Introduces AWS Activate Services Package To Help Startups Grow Via The Cloud
Amazon’s Web Services department is trying to appeal to startups through the launch of AWS Activate. AWS Activate is a package of resources and materials that are specifically tailored to help young businesses and their cloud-based needs grow. It is expected to intensify the rivalry with Microsoft and Rackspace. AWS includes AWS credits, training, developer support, and a startup community forum that also provides advice and a wide array of “special offers” from third parties. The packages comes in two forms, “Self-Starter,” which any startup can apply for, and “Portfolio,” which specifically reaches out to startups that are involved in accelerators, incubators, or other programs intended to help startups grow.
2. Twitter’s New Comcast Deal Could Have You Watching TV From Tweets
Comcast has just inked a deal with Twitter that puts in the addition of a “See It” button on tweets regarding NBCUniversal shows. The initiative should work as follows – if you’re browsing your feed and see a tweet regarding a NBCUniversal show, you will see a “See It” button. When you click that button, you will be taken to a card that has relevant information about the show, and allows you to DVR or watch the program on TV or online. This partnership will also let Twitters users set reminders for upcoming shows and purchase movie tickets on Fandango. The specifics of this detail, such as when this is to launch, have not been revealed.
3. Flickr App Gains Auto-Upload Feature In iOS 7 Update
Everyone was a bit apprehensive when Flickr was acquired – but, with several major updates including filters and a grid UI just passing over, it seems as though Flickr has had quite a busy seen. Another update for Flickr has just arrived – but this time for the iOS7. iOS7 devices can now upload from the camera roll directly to Flickr servers at full resolution. Sharing is set to private by default, but this can be changed. The Flickr editor will provide tools such as automatic photo straightening, and various other options. And to users worries about clogging up their Flickr storage – Flickr is giving out a free terabyte.
4. World’s First Curved Smartphone Hits South Korea Market
On Thursday, Samsung launched the world’s first smartphone that had a curved display screen. The Galaxy Round, which has a 6.7 inch concave handset made to fit into the curve of a user’s palm, has hit stores in South Korea. Samsung has not provided a date for its global release. Curved screens, which are touted as being lighter and thinner than current display panels are a new and budding interest in the smartphone industry. This new phone is powered by Google’s Android System and features a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor. It is selling for roughly $1,000 American dollars in South Korea.
5. Twitter’s Event Parrot Claims To Be An Experiment In Breaking News Alerts
What is Twitter doing now? A mysterious account called “EventParrot” might be Twitter’s big next thing. EventParrot’s profile promises “direct messages that help you keep up with what’s happening in the world.” This is not the first time that Twitter has tested new features through an account; The Twitter account MagicRecs eventually spawned the automatic suggestion list for twitter users. Although there has been no official verification on EventParrot’s status from Twitter, EventParrot has been snagging thousands of followers, including a large number of Twitter employees and associates. This afternoon, Twitter sent out a DM alerting followers to the kidnapping of Libya’s prime minister.
6. iPhone 6 Said To Feature Display Around 5 Inches; iWatch Is More Than Just A Smartwatch
Reports about the iPhone 6 have all claimed that the iPhone 6 will most likely feature a larger display. Apple is said to be currently screen testing up to 6 inches for its next iPhone. Cantor Fitzgerald’s Brian White reported that his meeting with an unnamed Apple component supplier has convinced him that next year’s iPhone 6 will have a much larger screen. White also says that Apple will soon be launching iWatch, and that the device will be much more than a smartwatch. White describes the iWatch as more than an extension of an iPhone. Instead, he called it a “multi-purpose gateway in allowing consumers to control their home.” The iWatch will reportedly let users control their home through options like changing the temperature and turning lights on and off.
7. Foursquare’s Real-Time Recommendations Now Being Pushed To iOS
This past summer, Forusquare rolled out real-time recommendation features for Android users. Now, this feature is heading to iOS, to a small batch of users, as part of a new software update. Users will see push notifications appear on their iPhones, suggesting places of items of interest, like a cocktail at a specific bar or restaurant. This app also comes with a “nearby” button that lets users keep tabs on which friends are close to them, as well as the friends’ most recent check-ins. Foursquare plans to put this feature “in everyone’s hands” very soon.