May 31, 2017

5 Things Brands May Not Know About Android

Sometimes, Bottle Rocket will encounter brands focusing on reaching iOS customers without realizing Android, the Google-developed mobile operating system, owns around 85% of the global smartphone OS market share. At this year’s Google I/O event, Bottle Rocket learned firsthand of the latest changes to Android that brands should know about. Here are five of the most exciting opportunities brands can use to connect to their customers.

Android Connects Beyond Phones

More than 50 car manufacturers are making more than 300 models with Android Auto built in. Although it takes time for consumers to purchase new vehicles, Google has seen 10x user growth in the past year. With recent changes in Google Assistant, this seamless integration to the car makes for compelling frictionless experiences for brands beyond the handheld device.

Android is Expanding How Connections are Made

While Google Assistant, an intelligent personal assistant, isn’t all-new, many new features were announced at Google I/O this year that brands could utilize for Android phone, tablet, TV, car, and watch, and even across iOS devices. Google has made a backend called that lets brands easily create many conversation flows without knowing how to code. Even better: you can see what people ask your app, so you can learn what types of functionality you could include in your next version. Brands can utilize Google Assistant to deliver their products as results to user queries, simultaneously improving SEO.

Android Can Serve Emerging Markets

Android Go is Google’s new initiative for handsets in emerging markets. These mostly lower cost devices will have users who are much more conservative with their data usage. Android Go introduces new opportunities to reach an often overlooked but fast-growing, market segment. As brands consider expanding into these markets, they’ll have data-friendly opportunities like instant apps to more effectively and efficiently reach their customers.

Users Won’t Have to Download to Interact

Instant apps on Android will replace the standard app acquisition process for users. Users will soon be able to tap and run an instant app (showcasing a few features of a full app), rather than searching, installing, and running an app from the store. Quickly interacting with content will provide a better user experience and deeper integration with Android for brands, all while saving data for users.

You Can Wear Android

Our Rocketeers at Google I/O talked to the Android Wear team and learned that Complications are something that every brand should look in to. Complications are displays that allow users to get information from their Android Wear devices. If there’s any data that brands could show users (days until next flight/hotel, room number, remaining balance on a gift card), it can be exposed through a Complication on an Android Wear 2.0 watch face.

As one of only 25 global Android Certified Agencies, Bottle Rocket develops award-winning mobile experiences for Android. Now that it will be easier than ever to create experiences that connect brands and customers via Android devices, we’re excited to help you realize your mobile experience vision.

Contact us to learn more about how Android can engage customers.

March 20, 2017

SXSW 2017: The Big Stuff

We sent Rocketeers across disciplines to SXSW this year to learn what the future has in store for technology and users. Art directors, client and sales executives, and our top brass absorbed all they could. They came away with a lot of information, but here’s the big stuff we found most interesting.


The end of "user,” a new start for “experience”

SXSW was populated with experiences. Whether to entertain or inform or possibly both, attendees were immersed in brands and concepts that sought to provide certain feelings or an understanding of something by engaging as many senses as possible. The experiences weren't about UI or overtly tactical things, but about understanding context and how to properly use that to impact people. So, we can move from "user" to “experience," because that's what is truly meaningful to people.

An overwhelming desire to create experiences that connect people

Brands and technologies use the screen to find each other and themselves. There are so many things attempting to replace human interactions- self-driving cars, robots, smart agents, virtual assistants, but we must remember we are all humans and nothing can replace what happens when humans band together. Vint Cerf, one of the internet’s creators, explained that he feels that the internet isn’t currently a safe place, but we need it to connect to one another. One of the more interesting points he made: internet architecture should be implemented alongside roads and bridges, because it is just as vital and important.

Even NASA is using the power of connection by crowd sourcing solutions to long-pondered problems. Recently, they reimagined exploration with the help of robotics and hackathons. Explorers used to take everything they needed with them in their boat or rocket ship. This only allowed us to go so far and see so much. NASA realized their travel limitations and determined reaching the farthest depths of space required sending our supplies ahead of time. With the help of a robot that unpacks our suitcases, we can take a six-month journey to a faraway planet with the hope of returning someday.

Futuristic Experiences

Remember when most of the things we use daily now were once visions of the future? There was a lot of that at SXSW. NASA showed off their use of AR/VR, including 360 video to not only deliver space experiences to the public, but also train astronauts for future missions to Mars and space. NASA, with one of the largest exhibition booths at SXSW, let visitors wear a HoloLens to experience a simulated walk on Mars.

Hiroshi Ishiguro from Osaka University and Ryuichiro Higashinaka from NTT demoed human-robot conversation. This was a mind-blowing change from task-based bots (e.g. Alexa, Siri). These engineers posed a question, “Is sushi better than ramen?” The robots and humans went on to have a discussion with no script, and robots only responded based on their subject matter expertise. To witness this was extremely fun!

The Reality of AR/VR

From NASA to Home Depot, SXSW held many AR/VR branded experiences. We learned of Home Depot’s virtual reality experience that helps create efficiencies in their supply chain by teaching users how to maximize cargo space for shipping goods to stores. One of the most interesting examples of this was at the National Geographic Base Camp bar, featuring a Microsoft HoloLens AR experience that blended our physical surroundings with digital educational representations of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity right before our eyes.


What educational, entertainment, or brand experiences will we see in the future from this technology? That’s up to brands and the partners that help them make those ideas a reality (however you want to qualify that).

December 30, 2016

Virtual Reality is Here – Why Now?

Virtual reality, as an idea, is not new. Believe it or not, VR is considered to have emerged in the 1950’s. But, just as “handheld communication devices” (AKA mobile phones) appeared in the original Star Trek series back in 1966, VR took a very different form in its early days. It has taken years, but several technologies are finally to a point that make VR possible.

Think of it this way - the first mobile phone came out in 1973, 2G digital cellular devices appeared in the 90’s, and IBM released a touchscreen “smartphone” dubbed Simon in 1993. Fast-forward past Nokia “bricks” and flip phones to 2008 and you arrive at the iPhone. Even the latest iteration of the iPhone is very different than the original device that revolutionized an industry.

Now look at VR - 360 photos emerged as early as the 19th century as paintings and exhibits, the Sensorama simulator was patented in 1962, numerous training simulators were and still are used today for pilots, and commercial VR products appeared in the 90’s. Remember the View-Master (picture below)? It’s a 3D headset that’s lasted 75 years – it’s practically the predecessor of Google Cardboard.

Think back to a time when technology naysayers spouted “the internet is just a fad.” Well, some people say the same for VR. However, 2016 will be the first billion-dollar year for VR. PSVR, the latest head-mounted display, launched on October 13 and sold more than 50,000 units in Japan in its first week – it would have sold more, but they sold out. Sony released a statement that sales “are in the hundreds of thousands” – in October (the month it launched) – and they expect to sell well over 2 million headsets by the end of 2016.

VR shows no signs of slowing down and the industry is estimated to reach $80 billion by 2025. Forward-thinking brands must start thinking about VR or risk being left behind. Contact us today to learn about how VR can benefit your brand or watch our panel discussion with Oculus, Playful, and BigLook360.

September 21, 2016

Beyond Music, AirPods, and UX

We’ve had some time to think about the event, and we’ve noticed something interesting about Apple’s new focus. We already know they’re working to create a seamless user experience across their suite of products, but now there are new opportunities to engage with users when they are not actively interacting with a device.


A Strategist’s Perspective on Apple’s September Event

Although there were few surprises at the Annual, hardware-focused Apple September event, the announcement of AirPods might be signaling a new form of UX. The AirPods have a brain (W1 chip) and sensors (infrared and an accelerometer) independent of the phone. Currently, the sensors are only used to detect when they are being worn or to detect a tap, but the future potential is undeniable. The AirPods will one day be much more than earbuds that simply deliver audio.

Imagine the maps app whispering in your ear to turn left, or your calendar app reminding you of your next meeting and who is in it. Push notification could be read to you. We often assume augmented reality involves visuals, what would an audio augmented reality experience be? As we move to more screens interactions, what other interactions might move to earbuds?

Most interesting is what this means to the user. There will not be a single killer wearable; users will have a choice of the wearable to fit situations and environment. As a developer (or brand) we must support the devices that the user chooses. As we expand delivery to new devices and platforms, will the functionality and content you are currently providing your users (APIs) be flexible and able to support AirPods, smart watches, bracelets, glasses, etc.?

Contact us to find out more about these new points of interaction and how to leverage them to provide a better user experience.

September 14, 2016

iPhone 7 & Apple Watch Series 2: What You Need to Know

There were a number of announcements made during Apple's September Special Event. This event, as in year's past, is predominantly focused on hardware. However, there were several announcements about new API's and features. Here's a developer's perspective on a few of the most exciting hardware and software updates.

iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series two with title of the blog next to devices

iPhone 7/7 Plus is More Powerful and Open to Developers than Ever

The new Taptic Engine API allows apps to take advantage of the Taptic Engine and provide users with unique feedback throughout the application. The Taptic Engine is perfect for notifications. For example, an app like Chick-fil-A could provide a unique buzz when the user's order is ready. Starwood could do the same when unlocking a door.

The new A10 Fusion chip in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus has two additional high-efficiency cores that run at 20% power compared to its other, high-performance, cores. This will greatly improve features such as background app refresh. Background app refresh is not a new feature, but the high-efficiency cores will significantly reduce the feature's impact on battery life.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are sold in 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB configurations. This is a welcome improvement over the previous 16/64/128 configurations. The change is also retroactively applied to iPhone 6s and 6s+ models. Apps running on the newer hardware will now have more flexibility to store data locally if needed. This can result in better performance and improved offline mode capabilities.


Apple Watch Series 2 gets GPS and an All New Processor

The built in GPS on the new Apple Watch allows apps to access location data without having to be near an iPhone. This is great for any app that uses location services. For example, even without an iPhone, a workout app can track your run, or a hotel app could show you directions to your room.

The new Apple Watch has a faster, dual-core processor. This change has also been applied to the original Series 1 Apple Watch. This will result in significantly improved performance for watch apps, and allow developers to perform more CPU-intensive tasks directly on the watch.

Contact us today to learn more about these Apple hardware and software updates and how your app can benefit from them in iOS 10.

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