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Developer’s Toolbox

Developing an app from scratch isn’t easy. You’ve got a great idea, but now you have to actually build it. There are a lot of companies out there that have developed tools to fill the holes in your code to save you time and money. Why spend weeks coding when someone has done the legwork for you? Developer’s Toolbox shows you APIs and SDKs that make your life easier.

1. Location-Based Service Platform by Geoloqi
This just launched today and sounds intriguing. Geoloqi’s new service is a platform for next-generation location based services.  Its a language agnostic SDK and proprietary API. The company is offering a complete stack of geolocation tools like geo-fencing, messaging, security and analytics. They claim that it will help developers unlock the full potential of real-time location-based services and put geolocation into any device or application. It also enables persistent background location tracking, smooth transitions between location sources such and a feature your users will truly love: intelligent battery management. All in all, it sounds like a very exciting offering. Check it out if you plan on adding location related features.

Price: Pricing structure not available yet.
More info: Geoloqi

4. Policy Maker by PrivacyChoice.
Privacy is a hot button issue these days. Recent flaps by Google, Path, and other tech companies have everyone wondering what your app is doing with their information. And now that California Attorney General Kamala Harris has convinced Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Google and others to have clear, understandable privacy policies for their software and the software they distribute, you need to be on top of your privacy policy. But, if you don’t know the first thing about writing one, PrivacyChoice has you covered. Give them some simple information about your app and what it does, and they’ll craft one for you. Your users will thank you.

Cost: Free!
More info: PrivacyChoice

3. 2D Barcode Scanner SDK by DTK Software
DTK offers an accurate and powerful developer library which recognizes 1-D and 2-D barcodes. Using this SDK you can integrate barcode recognition into your app. Although tech pundits are predicting the death of QR codes, there are still some handy uses for them and developers are still innovating with them to find new possibilities, from payment methods to information sharing.

Price: Variable, depending on your team’s size
More info: DTK


Filed under Developer News, Toolbox

Increase In-app Revenue With User Loyalty

In the last post, we wrote about the huge future the freemium model for mobile apps (65% of all mobile revenue by 2015). But setting up a successful freemium model is easier said than done. GigaOm had some statistics in an article that came out yesterday. Essentially, using data from Localytics, GigaOm shows that the longer a customer uses your app, the more likely they are to purchase in-app content. This should be a surprise to anyone that’s played a freemium game. Once you’re hooked, it’s difficult not to spend a buck or two to keep playing.

Essentially, you need to focus on loyalty over quick sales. After all, according to Localytics,  26 percent of app users abandon an app after one try. You’re goign to lose that 26% no matter what, so focus on giving the remaining 74% a great experience. Ideally, such a great experience that they’re willing to buy some in-app content. It takes an average user 12 days after the first use of an app before they’re willing to whip out their wallet. On top of that, only 22% of users make a purchase on their first try of an app, and 33% buy something between two and nine uses. But here’s the kicker: 44 percent make their first purchase after 10 or more uses.

But this begs the question, how do you hook someone without being manipulative or too aggressive? There are a number of ways, but for starters, look at your barriers. For arguments sake, you have a fishing game. In this fishing game, there is a certain high value fish that swims by on a set interval. If a user wants the fish to swim by sooner, they can pay for that with in-game currency. If your set interval is too small, say a few minutes, the user will never pay to speed up the process. However, set you interval too high, say a few days, and the user may feel manipulated.  Asking a user who is unwilling or unable to purchase an item to come back in a few days is unreliable at best. At this point you’re going to start losing potential paying customers.

Another issue could be your in-app currency exchange rate. In your hypothetical fishing game, the in-game currency is called Fish Bucks. A user can earn Fish Bucks, or they can purchase bundles within the app. If you price fish bucks at a one to one exchange real world dollars, a user can put a real dollar amount on the purchases. If a feature costs  2 Fish Bucks, is costs 2 real life dollars, which can be  harder for a user to justify. However, if you change the conversion rate so that 1 real life dollar is equal to, say, 1000 Fish Bucks, it comes harder to compare to real world money and thus easier to spend. There are many real life examples of this: Arcade tickets, Disney Dollars, gift certificates, etc.

Being successful in this space is all about walking a fine line between providing an engaging experience and getting paid for your hard work. What works for your? Let us know in the comments!

Filed under Developer News, How To

In-app Purchases to Climb to 64% of ALL Mobile App Revenue by 2015

A new report out by IHS Screen Digest suggests that freemium is quickly becoming the dominant monetization model of the mobile ecosystem. It also says the in-app purchases that fuel the freemium model will climb from 39% of all app revenue in 2011 to 64% by 2015.

“Smartphone users overwhelmingly prefer free apps to paid apps, as we estimate 96 per cent of all smartphone apps were downloaded for free in 2011,” said Jack Kent, senior analyst with IHS. “In 2012, it will become increasingly difficult for app stores and developers to justify charging an upfront fee for their products when faced with competition from a plethora of free content. Instead, the apps industry must fully embrace the freemium model and monetize content through in-app purchases.”

While you may think of in-app content as relating only to games, there are a number of other examples. The app Doubletwist has a $3.99 add-on that gives you an equalizer and the ability to download album covers. Other apps, like navigation apps, have extra maps which cost money.

We here at GetJar have long been vocal proponents of the freemium model and have been predicting its success for some time, so this news comes as no surprise to us. What do you think? Do you use the freemium model? Let us know in the comments!

Filed under Developer News, How To

How To Boost Mobile Ad Clicks

GetJar Partner inneractive has created a really interesting infographic about mobile device screen size and how it affects your income. Essentially, the larger a screen size a device has, the higher the click through rate (ctr) becomes. It’s not hard to imagine that with more screen real estate, ads can become larger and harder to miss. The infographic looks at a variety of phone manufacturers, and the data comes out the same. Also, tablet apps can better convey traditional media formats where users are more use to seeing and interacting with advertisements.

Considering this information, would it make you more inclined to developer for tablets?

http://www.inner-active.com/GetJar

http://www.inner-active.com/GetJar

Filed under How To

How To Update Your Android App on GetJar

Earlier today we announced that GetJar now supports updates notifications for Android apps in a beta feature announcement. To enable an update, you’ll need to login to the Developer Zone. Then click on the publishing tab, and then click on Apps and Sites to see a list of your applications.

Click on edit on the app you want to update. Here you’ll see the normal options. You can click edit to edit screenshots or descriptions. You can upload new builds, or you can update an existing build by clicking (Update Build) under the build name.

Click browse, navigate to your build, and click open. Then, give the build a name. Below that you have the option to add a version name and description name. These are only for your reference, and are not seen by the public. We do, however, highly suggest using these fields as they will make your life easier in the long run. We enforce the package name to be the same. This is a requirement from Android OS which guarantees that your application will get upgraded rather than a duplicate application getting installed

Lastly on this page, you’ll see the targeting dialogue. We do not recommend changing the targeting here for a number of possible issues. For one, your new target may miss some users who will not get the update. Or you might expose a new API to older devices that are not compatible. If you need to restrict compatibility by device hardware, please create a new build with a new target.

And that’s it! Your app is now in the activation queue. After it has been approved, update notifications will begin rolling out to your users. The GetJar app on a user’s will ping our servers once ever eight hours to see if there are updates. If a user declines the update, a reminder will go out once a week for 3 weeks. After that, the user will no longer get a notification for that specific app.

While updates are in beta, there are some known limitations that you should be familiar with:

  • Consumers will get notified of new updates once every eight hours. They will receive one notification per update.
  • Earlier this week, version 3.5 of GetJar began rolling out to new users. This update allows for notifications. Users who have not upgraded to 3.5 will not be notified of any updates. When we are ready to take updates out of beta, we will begin notifying users of the easiest way to update to GetJar version 3.5.
  • Users will not be notified of updates for applications they’ve downloaded before installing GetJar version 3.5.
  • Uninstalling/Installing GetJar will cause update state to be lost.
  • Motorola Atrix owners will be asked to force close GetJar after an hour of running in the background. This messaged can be ignored. This is a known issue and will be fixed in the next version of GetJar.
Filed under Developer News, GetJar, How To

ANDROID IS HARD: Overcoming Android’s 6 Biggest issues

This list, by Charles Hudson, was a part of a talk he gave this week at an event put on by Yetizen. Betable reposted it on their blog and we couldn’t resist re-re-posting it.

ANDROID IS HARD!

Darth Android: One of many cool Android reinterpretations Charles Hudson used for his presentation.

1. Fragmentation
Problem: Unlike the iPhone, there are many types of Android devices, which leads to OS fragmentation, varying screen size and resolutions, and types of hardware. This means that the user experience can vastly differ from user to user. Also, developers can drown themselves in work trying to make their game compatible with everything.
Solution: Charles suggests that you test your game on multiple devices to make sure the user experience can consistent across a sea of devices. He said that he bought old, “well loved” Android phones from resellers to cheaply test his game on each type of hardware. As for OS, if you need to draw a line in the sand and not supporting older OS versions to provide a consistent experience, then do so. According to Ngmoco:), which spoke later in the evening, 94% of Android gamers are on 2.1 or above, so you won’t miss many customers by cutting out the troublesome 1.6 and 1.7 versions.

2. Development & Testing
Problem: Because it is so easy to launch new applications and versions on Android – you are essentially just one button away from pushing new versions – developers can sometimes get trigger happy. This can overwhelm users and stop them from updating your game.
Solution: Android users typically don’t update their apps as often as iOS users, so Charles recommended a minimum period of one week between app updates, excepting urgent bug fixes of course. And as we mentioned before, you should test your game on each major type of phone and supported OS version before an update goes live. This can prevent unforseen hiccups and help you avoid those urgent bug fixes.

3. Metrics
Problem: Developers are typically flying totally blind when it comes to the way that users are interacting with their app, especially on Android.
Solution: Look into integrating with an analytics platform that fits your budget. Google Analytics is free, but can be a trickier integration as it isn’t built for mobile. If you are looking for an easier and more mobile-friendly solution, there are mobile game analytics platforms that are free to try such as Flurry and Localytics.

4. Platform Wars
Problem: 23% of all smartphone customers are on iOS devices, and conventional wisdom states that iOS users are more likely to pay for apps and complete in-app purchases than their Android counterparts.
Solution: To paraphrase Charles Hudson, “it is better to build a great game on one platform instead of a mediocre game on two platforms.” Each platform has different capabilities, so focus your resources in building an awesome game on one platform before you worry about iOS. Bionic Panda is an Android only game studio, so Charles clearly practices what he preaches.

5. Distribution & Discovery
Problem: Discoverability on Android depends less on category ranking compared to iOS, and getting Featured on the Android Market is just as difficult as it is on the Apple App Store. Also, Android does not have a united social graph like Facebook or Apple’s Game Center, so it is hard to lean on viral mechanics to acquire users.
Solution: There tends to be higher search activity on Android (as Charles pointed out, “it is Google product”), so make sure your app description is accurate and hits all of the important keywords that users would use to search for a game like yours. Also, he could not stress enough the importance of having a well-designed app icon that draws users in. This icon and your app title are often all the user sees before making his decision to download, so use that space wisely! Also, fortunately for Android developers, Android still allows incentivized installs, so jump on the ad networks such as Tapjoy and Admob to help capture your seed group of users. Assuming you’ve made a compelling app, once you get the seed group of users you should be off and running.

6. Monetization
Problem: It is conventional wisdom that iOS games typically generate more revenue when compared to Android games. Part of the story behind this is that in-app purchases on iOS is much easier than the severely fragmented Android payments.
Solution: Count on an eventual consolidation of payment methods on Android, and Google Payments is a good default because they will always be around. The key with monetization is to provide compelling reasons for users to buy in, and then they will find ways to do so, regardless of the difficulty. If you’re interested in getting more tips about game monetization and building games on Android, be sure to check back here tomorrow for our write up of TapJoy’s Game Monetization webinar.

Filed under Android, How To, Marketing & Research

Developer’s Toolbox – 8/24/11

Developing an app from scratch isn’t easy. You’ve got a great idea, but now you have to actually build it. There are a lot of companies out there that have developed tools to fill the holes in your code to save you time and money. Why spend weeks coding when someone has done the legwork for you? Developer’s Toolbox shows you APIs and SDKs that make your life easier.

1. AuthenTec’s Fingerprint Scanner SDK

Currently, only one phone, the Moto Atrix 4g, comes with a fingerprint scanner in the phone. But what if I told you that Google has said that fingerprint scanning technology will be a big part of the Google Wallet system? Then would you be interested? Google, along with a lot of pundits, see that passwords are hard to remember and easier to crack. I:n a world where everyone has hundreds of profiles all over the net, it’s time to look at biometrics.  It makes sense to be on the cutting edge of this type of technology, so familiarize yourself with this SDK today. This one can be kind of complicated, so there are three resources listed below.

Cost: Free!
More info:
Motorola Developer Network, AuthenTec’s Developer Portal, XDA

2. iSpeech

iSpeech has  free voice recognition and text-to-speech SDK for mobile developers building apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry. The allure of their SDK was apparent when they announced that over 3,000 developers signed up before the product even launched. iSpeech is looking to be a cost-effective alternative to Dragon Speech, and as such their pricing models is a freemium one. It’s free to all mobile devs, and is available to web developers who want to use the same technology at $.005 per word. iSpeech is already at work in popular apps like Car & Driver’s Txt U L8r, TeleNav’s Evie, and the company’s own DriveSafe.ly app. The SDKs and API can provide 40 voices for text to speech and support for 25 different languages. As a bonus, you can get like celebrity voices if you’re willing to pay.

Cost: Text to speech, Speech Recognition SDKs are free, web API is pay-as-you-go.
More info: iSpeech.org

3. Qualcomm Augmented Reality SDK

Augmented reality has thus far been a novelty, but a fun novelty none the less. In an effort to find more usefulness in the medium, Qualcomm has released an an augmented reality SDK. It will allow you to harness the display of a mobile device and use it as a “magic lens”  to connect a virtual world with a real one. Suggestions for implementation are really only limited by your imagination. Acording to their site, applications for the SDK include,  “immersive reality gaming on a table, floor or wall, innovative new media and marketing experience, or creative and informative “how-to” or instructional applications.”

Cost: Free!
More info: Qualcomm Dev Zone

4. Google TV

Word from the official Google TV blog came yesterday. They have a preview of what the upcoming upgrade will do for your apps, and more importantly, how to optimize them for use on home theaters. This has some really interesting possibilities, and I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with for this system.

Cost: Free!
More info: Google TV Blog



Filed under How To, Toolbox, Uncategorized

Developer’s Toolbox – 6/30/11

Developing an app from scratch isn’t easy. You’ve got a great idea, but now you have to actually build it. There are a lot of companies out there that have developed APIs to fill the holes in your code to save you time and money. Why spend weeks coding when someone has done the legwork for you? Developer’s Toolbox shows you APIs and SDKs that make your life easier.

1. BOKU 1-Tap
BOKU is one of the larger companies around in the carrier billing space. If you look at the terms, you may think us crazy for recommending the service. Why? Typically, between BOKU and the carriers, you’re going to lose up to 50% of your revenue. Yes, fifty percent. While that might be a hard number to swallow, they also point out that their conversion rate is quite high, sometimes as high as 80%. So the question becomes, do you make a little bit of money, and keep lump sum, or do you make a bunch of money but keep less of it. Neither are very attractive as a developer, but if we segue into developer economics, this blog post will never get finished. Currently, you can download the SDK, but you’ll have to fill out a form and wait for BOKU to contact you to implement it.

Cost: Revenue share
More info: BOKU for Android

2. AddThis
Currently available for iOS, and taking applications for the Android Beta, AddThis’s APIs make it easy for you to integrate sharing features into your app. They claim to be able to help drive growth and engagement with their service, and extensive analytics. You can either use their service for sharing and tracking, or you can use your own sharing buttons, but still use their service to track analytics. Another feature they offer is the   AddThis Sharing Endpoints,  a set of simple URL endpoints you can use to start sharing to any site that supports the AddThis platform.

Cost: Free!
More info: AddThis

3. Scandit
Scandi’s push is also analytics, but focus on real world customer interaction. Scandit’s Scanalytics allows you to look at real time consumer scan data to optimize your apps, maximize retention, identify other revenue opportunities and compete with similar apps more effectively. Useful information like conversion rate between scanning a code and actually performing the follow up action, or what codes your users are actually scanning are all at your fingertips. This SDK relies on a barcode scanner being part of your app’s experience, but it might give you an incentive to dream up a new idea that could involve barcode scanning.

Cost: $50 for the development tools, free thereafter if you integrate with the ScanAd framework, more if you want to keep your app ad free.
More info: Scandit SDK

Filed under Toolbox

A Must Read: Designing For Android

This post over at Smash Magazine is a must read for Android developers:

Let’s face it. Android’s multiple devices and form factors make it feel like designing for it is an uphill battle. And its cryptic documentation is hardly a starting point for designing and producing great apps. Surf the Web for resources on Android design and you’ll find little there to guide you…If all this feels discouraging (and if it’s the reason you’re not designing apps for Android), you’re not alone. Fortunately, Android is beginning to address the issues with multiple devices and screen sizes, and device makers are slowly arriving at standards that will eventually reduce complexity….The topics we’ll cover are:

  • Demystifying Android screen densities,
  • Learning the fundamentals of Android design via design patterns
  • Design assets your developer needs,
  • How to get screenshots
  • What Android 3 is about, and what’s on the horizon.

Read this now.

Filed under How To

Does your app need a new logo?

What’s in a logo? That which we call a logo by any other name would look as impressive. Kidding aside, logos are important. They’re the first thing a user is going to notice about your app, and they set you apart from the rest. A good looking logo implies health and longevity. It says to customers, “I care about my company, and the way it is perceived.” If you care that much about the logo, the logic follows, you definitely care about your app. The danger is on the flip side. A user’s perception is: if you don’t care about the logo, then you probably don’t care about how well your app works. And, even more importantly than that, in world rife with increasingly believable counterfeits, phishing attacks, and sketchy software, a good looking logo gives you legitimacy, a very important commodity.

Some quick tips:
• Make it simple and readable without being boring, or institutional. Easier said than done, but look at the top apps on any store, and you’ll instantly understand the importance of this.
• Your logo should convey a sense of the personality of you or your app. Consider your shapes carefully. Rounded edges versus sharp corners can mean the difference between aggressive and passive messages. If the company you are designing the logo for wish to convey action and excitement then using smooth, curving shapes may not be the proper solution. Your company’s logo can act as the reputation that precedes you into the marketplace.
• Make sure your logo can scale to small or large sizes without losing anything.
• Your logo should look different than other logos, especially those who have similar apps.
• There are some basic tricks to use during the design process to make sure that it not only looks good, but is also balanced. Try turning your logo upside down, or look at it in a mirror.  You may not even realize until you look at it in a different light that text is loaded to one side or that your icon’s symmetry is off.
• When you think you’re done, do a quick survey of your social network and see what people think of it. Ask them what it makes them think about your app.

Now, not everyone is blessed with a graphic designer. So how can you get a good looking logo without spending money? There are a lot of online icon creators, but not all of these are free. I’ve found this one to be particularly good, if not the easiest to use: http://www.yeldnats.com/fonticons/fonticons.php You can also try sites like Fiverr. Fiverr is a site where people post jobs or tasks that they will do for $5. Post a job request, or respond to someone else’s.

While having any logo is better than not having one, take a look at yours and make sure it’s telling potential customers what you want it to.

Update: David from MakingMoneyWithAndroid adds some other great resources:

I’ve found the Android Asset Studio to be a great tool for creating Android logos and icons. It produces very professional looking icons from simple text, or a template picture which you can specify.

I wrote a post about this, and mentioned a few other useful tools for Android icons. Often for Android apps, the logo and app icon are exactly the same. I highly recommend using the Asset Studio if you don’t have a graphic designer, to make your logo design look smooth and professional.

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Filed under How To