June 19, 2017

Top Takeaways from WWDC 2017 that Weren’t in the Keynote

While there were a lot of big announcements during this year’s WWDC Keynote, there were even more our Rocketeers learned during the sessions following it. Some of these barely made an appearance at the conference, but we think they’re some of the most exciting updates yet. If you are interested in learning more about these topics, you are also welcome to watch our webinar that aired Wednesday, June 14, 2017.  Click here to watch.

Business Chat Could Change Everything

Any business large enough to have a call center or customer support group should take note. Business Chat opens a support line directly in iMessages making it easier than ever help solve everyday customer problems with a tool that’s familiar to everyone. This interaction can begin from a button in an app, a link on your website, a CTA in an order confirmation email, or pretty much anywhere else you’d want to put it. Within the chat, you can share files, images, product images and/or videos, and much more. For example, let’s say a customer wanted to upgrade or change their seat on a flight – the airline could send them a layout of the seats available and can even charge for the upgrade through Apple Pay directly in iMessage. If you wanted to schedule a meeting, the details will be saved directly to the calendar.

Business Chat is available today and already integrates with LivePerson, Salesforce, Nuance, and Genesys.

CoreNFC Now Open to Developers

Near Field Communication (NFC) has been around for several years now, and the odds are good that you’ve used it and didn’t even know. NFC can be used for a wide range of applications, but to date it has primarily been used for mobile payment through apps such as Apple Pay. However, that may change very soon as Apple has officially opened the iPhone’s NFC functionality to developers. In true Apple style, they have taken every precaution to ensure user data remains secure. Each session must be initiated by the user and developers can only read, not write, data from an NFC tag. This means there will never be an accidental scan or possibility of someone pulling information from your phone. Brands will be able to leverage NFC for everything from presenting more information about a painting in a museum to adding items to an account in a hotel – but they will not be able to bill you directly from the interaction.

QR Reader Added to Default Camera App

In the United States, QR code sightings can be uncommon depending on where you live. In eastern markets, they are much more common. QR codes failed to reach widespread adoption in America because some didn’t know what to do with them and others didn’t see the value in downloading an app specifically for reading them. Now that Apple has integrated a QR reader into the default Camera app, that could change. However, western adoption of QR codes relies on content creators and advertisers just as much as, if not more than, users interacting with them. QR codes can be used for a wide range of applications such as sharing a playlist, opening a YouTube video, downloading an app, adding an item to a cart, and much more. The more interesting the experience, the more likely users are to give QR codes a try. To best leverage them, think guerilla marketing mixed with surprise and delight – people should feel as though they found something special rather than an advertisement, and where it takes them should almost be a reward.

CoreML Brings Machine Learning to the iPhone

The ways Google and Apple have approached artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are very different. One of the biggest differences is where the “magic” happens. Google’s approach is in the cloud while Apple’s is on-device. Processing the information on the iPhone itself not only provides a much faster experience but a much more private one. CoreML has three offerings at the moment, including Vision for image analysis, Foundation for language processing, and GameplayKit for NPC (non-player character) behavior, pathfinding, and more. While GameplayKit will mostly be used by game developers, Vision and Foundation can be used for a multitude of applications. For example, Vision can be used to recognize barcodes. You could use Vision to show more information about a product after a consumer scans the barcode or, with some training, teach Siri to recognize the product itself so that they can simply take a picture of the product to learn more.

Siri’s New Extensions

Three new extensions are now available to developers through SiriKit. For apps that allow you to make or check off items on a list, Siri can now be integrated into the app to allow users to take actions around those lists. The other two extensions, Points and Domains, can be leveraged for rewards and loyalty points. Points will allow users to ask Siri questions, such as “do I have enough points to book a flight to LA?” and Domains will allow users to scan visual codes such as loyalty points on a purchase to have them automatically added to your account in the app. With Siri’s new extensions, the customer experience in apps can be improved greatly as Siri makes it easier for consumers to keep track and add reward points to their accounts.

The App Store Gets an Overhaul

There are some big changes coming to the App Store. First off, Apple has completely redesigned the store and added several sections to improve the app discovery experience. There will be three primary sections to the store – Apps, Games, and Today. To make it even easier to decide if you want to download an app, Apple has also added the option for developers to upload up to three videos to showcase gameplay, features, and more in apps. What’s even more exciting is that Apple now allows developers to decide if they want to reset their reviews when uploading a new version of an app. Believe it or not, some developers would allow bugs to go unfixed for weeks if they had high ratings for their app to avoid having the ratings potentially drop. Now hotfixes are much less stressful for brands and developers as they can effectively push out several builds of an app and retain their ratings and reviews.

Check back for more updates as these new features and tools become available. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have.

April 6, 2017

App Rating Changes in iOS 10.3 Update

Bottle Rocket builds apps that include a framework for encouraging high ratings. This framework also funnels negative comments away from the App Store. We call this our Bottle Rocket Applause Generator (BRAG). Apple’s latest 10.3 update brings some changes to BRAG. Here’s what to expect.

Previously, we asked users if they liked an app during the mobile experience. If they did, we prompted them to rate it. If they didn't, we requested feedback, which came to us or the client. In iOS 10.3, Apple will now handle interactions that BRAG facilitated. BRAG also allowed us to drive and know when apps are reviewed. In iOS 10.3, we won’t be notified. But, Bottle Rocket will still access and use knowledge of how users interact with our clients’ apps to determine when we’ll ask for ratings. With iOS 10.3, however, our standard messaging won’t redirect comments to clients or Bottle Rocket. Instead, we’ll have to rely on Apple functionality.

That all sounds a little ominous, but we’re excited about the opportunity it affords our clients. Another change iOS 10.3 brings is one we’ve been asking for the last 5 years—responding directly to user reviews. Responding to common user problems can turn negative reviews into opportunities for education and lessen impacts of negative reviews.

We’ve already done the development on our end to support our clients and allow them to utilize the update’s capabilities. We’ll work with clients to determine the best strategy for handling this process.

We’re ready for 10.3, and so are our clients’ apps.

June 13, 2016

Exciting Information Released Before WWDC

Russel Mirabelli, Bottle Rocket iOS engineer, is making his way to WWDC. A few announcements he was most looking forward to were already made last week, leading him to believe Apple has a lot more in store at the conference this year than we originally believed. Here's what the had to say:

"The one thing I was most looking forward to at WWDC this year was some formal announcements regarding App Store submission times. As you might know, the App Store has historically had about a week-long turnaround. Last week, Apple announced that time has been reduced to one to two days; this is due to a wide variety of changes they’ve made in process and structure. This is really exciting because it allows us to update software very quickly in response to new problems that appear or new opportunities. Being able to claim three days back from the development cycle is a great thing.

Apple also announced changes in paid search results, and also subscription software. These are things that our customers tend to be less concerned about right now, so I'll save those for later.

What’s REALLY exciting is that this news— which is one of the big things I was hoping for— was considered by Apple to be 'Not Big Enough News' to make the keynote, and so they released this information last week. If the thing I wanted most is released as 'not big news', then what does apple have in store for us? I’m very excited about what Monday will bring us."

Make sure to check back in as we continue to get updates from our Rocketeers attending WWDC for even more updates from Apple.

May 9, 2016

Lifecycle of an App

There are four key steps designers need to consider when crafting an app experience that delivers genuine relevance and value to their users. Bottle Rocket’s Executive Creative Director Michael Griffith talks us through the user lifecycle of an app.

1. The App Store Experience.

Getting a user to opt in and download your app involves asking them to take a leap of faith, and it’s up to you to make that leap as short and painless as possible. Ensure your app is easily findable in the App Store, with a short and simple description, and screen captures or videos which show exactly how the app works.

2. The First Open.

The user very rarely opens up an app immediately after download, which means you have to win them over again once they finally do. The first experience of an app should combine “beauty, magic, and innovation,” says Griffith. Utility comes later.

3. The First Task.

Completing a simple task on your app should be “elegant, simple and efficient,” says Griffith. He cites the TED Talk app as a prime example, which allows users to find relevant content without having to waste time by entering search terms. Deeper tasks need to be “personal, exacting, and reliable.”

4. The Update.

Installing updates for an app isn’t a priority for many people, as they simply don’t have the spare memory on their phone for an automatic download. You need to reward users for updating the app by doubling down on the beauty, magic and innovation of their first experience.

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