4 Principles For Building An Amazing Productivity App

Jul 14, 2016

Whether it’s the App Store or Google Play, app marketplaces have become more crowded than ever, featuring an almost overwhelming number of choices. If you’re developing or planning to develop a mobile productivity app, an intuitive interface and good functionality are no longer enough. Your app has to liberate users, helping them not only to solve problems, but to do it in an amazingly simple way, like awesome apps such as Evernote or Google Now. To build a productivity app that will stand out, consider the following 4 principles, all of them inspired by the leading productivity apps of our day.

 

  • Make things as beautifully simple as you can

 

The best productivity apps do simple things in the simplest way possible. The keywords here are “fast” and “easy”. A great example is Evernote’s streamlined yet powerful note-taking feature. Not only does Evernote make it super easy for you to type a note, but goes beyond traditional text-based notes to support voice memos, web clippings, and images. And that’s not all. Evernote automatically includes in your notes the time when they were taken, as well as the location, helping you find and sort notes later on with ease.

These features, coupled with its cross-platform compatibility, make the popular note-taking app amazing in a quiet and very useful way. Just think of the countless other note-taking apps out there. Some of them have more features that Evernote, but how many of them make note-taking so simple and fun?

 

  • Anticipate the needs of users

 

A great example of this principle in action is Google Now. There are plenty of personal planners around, but one way Google Now stands out is by providing in advance information that is relevant to you. For example, you could be driving to the airport when Google Now notifies you about traffic problems up the road or a last minute flight delay. By taking a proactive approach and anticipating needs, an app can help users deal more effectively with unexpected problems, saving you time and reducing stress.

The key to successfully anticipating your users’ needs is to understand who your users are and how they use your app, and then to build into your app smart proactive features. It’s a challenge, but it can make your app so much more intuitive and productive.   

 

  • Offer instant gratification

 

Ever tried a top expense reporting app like Expensify? With a simple snap of your mobile camera, it can help you turn a receipt into a no-hassle expense report that you can then email to your boss in no time. Combining an intuitive process with an accessible interface, it offers instant gratification, saving you the trouble of having to manually gather, sort, and track your receipts, a boring and time-consuming process.

Instant gratification in a productivity app is the direct result of using digitisation to streamline tedious processes. The same concept can be applied to many other types of apps, offering users the satisfaction of knowing that they can do things fast, and well.

 

  • Test, measure, and improve

 

All apps, even leading ones that get the most downloads and reviews, are undergoing a continuous development – their features get tested, their performance gets measured, and their code is being improved all the time. Test, measure, and improve is a key principle that powers all successful apps. It’s all about constant evolution and improving the user experience in order to keep an edge over competitors.

You don’t have to create your own analytics platforms to test, measure, and improve your app. There are many web-based tools such as Optimizely or Usertesting.com – that empower you to apply this principle without breaking the bank. It’s a sure way to continuously improve your app.

The Bottom Line

In our mobile, digitised world, people love apps that make them more productive. To win a following for your app and thrive in competitive app marketplaces, where users always have many different options, your app’s productivity features simply have to excel. More than doing something well, your app has to be truly productive – it has to do what it does amazingly, and in an intuitive way. Let the principles above inspire you to create a truly amazing app.

Brexit’s Impact on Cloud Investments

Jun 30, 2016

Britain’s decision to split from the European Union has already sent shock waves throughout the worldwide investment community, and although it is still too early to know what long-term impacts this will have on investments, some areas of opportunity seem obvious. One area of interest is that of cloud data, and even here there are silver-linings for investors.

Though cloud data’s name implies that the system itself is just as amorphous, cloud data is stored in various data centres around the world. These centres are regulated and bound by the laws and policies in their respective locations. This is where data sovereignty comes into play, especially when considering the impact that Brexit will have on cloud data investments.

Data sovereignty, an integral concern, can be broken down into three words: keep it local. Under current laws, the data held in EU centres belong to citizens of the EU, but in fewer than two years this could change once Britain’s departure goes into effect. Should data sovereignty still reign, UK data will need to be housed in the UK while EU data will need to be housed in the EU. What does this mean for data investors?

Well, they should prepare for massive data segregation and reallocation. Such a move would still be intimidating for corporate giants even without the 24-month deadline; mere data migration will not do. Private and public cloud providers will be required to first, in a sense, duplicate their infrastructure domestically and across the English Channel before even beginning to segregate their loads of data.

Venture capitalists and investors might be wondering where to begin. Here are three things that they should bear in mind.

One: Invest in higher-level functions. Serverless architecture could be the answer for the oncoming data storm in a post-Brexit world. In a way, serverless architecture would allow the cloud data to organize itself. Storage workloads could be built with a geographical flag, allowing the cloud to route them to the appropriate geographies for computing and storage. In a serverless system, data would not be anchored to specific computing nodes, but rather instinctively routed and rerouted based on the workload.

The necessity of change heralded by Brexit is a good for investors. Cloud computing is a decade-old business in need of serious upgrading. The focus since its conception has been on creating cloud computing infrastructure necessary for the establishment of its basic functions. However, with a firm foundation and the current climate shift, investors should be looking to funnel money into higher-level projects that will make the moving of data between jurisdictions and sovereign locations easier.

The telecommunications market is seeing a similar shift. Fifteen years ago, routers, switchers, and fibre were important when building the physical infrastructure of the industry, but many investors are now focusing on higher-end elements like APIs, software, and servers. With Brexit looming, the serverless concept is one that forward-thinking investors will consider.

Two: Don’t ignore multi-clouds. Brexit has had a ripple effect on other members of the EU, with whispers of other countries leaving after the country’s referendum. Cloud providers might find themselves in a wind storm of data reallocation if countries follow suit of Britain. Compounding the confusion of an already complex situation is a regulatory system that is in near-constant flux. Currently in a trial phase in Europe is the General Data Protection Regulation. Also in development is the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, created to replace the U.S.-EU Safe Harbour agreement, which was phased out in 2015.

With the need to move data, large cloud providers will most likely build multiple centres in various areas; however, it would be impractical to build centres in every country. For this there is an answer: multi-cloud technologies. Large cloud providers will need to connect and work together to survive in a post-Brexit world.

Three: Smaller is better. In the past, the size of a company has been indicative of its potential for success. This was due to the factors like the ability for redundancy, but now data sovereignty has taken centre-stage. Since the turnout of Brexit was unexpected, so too is the now necessary expenditures to build more centres in different areas. Investors should focus on a company’s depth in a few areas as opposed to its superficial, widespread reach. Again, focus less on the physical infrastructure and more on the higher-level services.

No matter what your views are on Brexit, we can all agree: it is certainly bringing about some big changes.

WhatsApp’s New End-to-End Encryption and Its Potential Consequences

May 30, 2016

Earlier this year, the popular mobile messaging platform WhatsApp enabled its 1 billion users to take advantage of full encryption for every conversation they hold, including video, audio, and photo exchanges through the app. Using Open Whisper System’s The Signal Protocol, WhatsApp now secures every message with a unique virtual lock, the key to which only you and the person you are communicating with have. This means that nobody other that you and the recipient can view your messages – not even the government or WhatsApp itself.

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Business Bots Are Taking Over Facebook

Apr 10, 2016

What on Earth are bots and what do they have to do with Facebook?

Bots are software applications, which perform automated tasks online. They are able to process repetitive, simple jobs at a much faster rate than we mere mortals could.

 

Bots are proliferating increasingly within messaging apps to simulate conversation, with the intention of making it appear as though a customer is conversing back and forth with a real human being. They are increasingly being employed to boost ‘conversational commerce’ – a term that was first coined by social designer, Chris Messina.

 

This new industry interface is designed to increase convenience and personalisation in communication, while also helping people to make decisions while they are busy and ‘on the go’ and may have only a minimal amount of attention to spare.

 

Big Companies are Turning to Bots

 

Companies such as Skype, Path’s Talk, WeChat and Telegram and now Facebook are among a few who are all set to capitalise on the opportunity this new bot-centred interface has to offer.

 

At a recent F8 developer’s conference Facebook announced that they are investing more into their messaging platform, which they launched in 2014. This is a clear indication that we are about to see many more businesses and brands employing Facebook Messenger as a means of communicating with their customers, thus heralding a widespread invasion of bots to the messaging platform.

 

Facebook is just one company to view the use of bots in messaging as a cutting edge platform with huge potential to be developed. Beerud Sheth, the CEO of bot development company called Gupshup believes this new paradigm shift in messaging could potentially be as momentous as when Apple founder Steve Jobs introduced the App Store to the global market.

People vs. Bots

It is believed by a number of industry professionals, such as Sonar’s co-founder Neeharika Bhartiya, that bots must be ‘taught’ using human intelligence, about how to send the correct messaging to customers, based on previously recorded correspondences. Matthew Berman, another Sonar cofounder, states that bots have the potential to initiate a personal interaction with a company, however, when conversation progresses to more complicated queries, a human representative will need to intervene.

The Evolution of Conversation

Vice president of Facebook’s messaging products, David Marcus, said during the F8 presentation that bots are going to revolutionise communications within businesses. Prior to the Internet every transaction involved a conversation; to make a purchase one had to enter a shop, or pick up the phone and speak with a person. Then, with the dawning of the Internet, we sacrificed personalised conversations for transactions of a much larger scale. The era of the mobile, at first offered a very basic version of the Internet came the mobile era, which initially only offered stripped down versions of web, before the evolution of apps, which have changed our experience in a remarkable way.

 

He also spoke of how, nowadays, fewer apps are being downloaded, yet meanwhile Facebook Messenger is increasing in popularity, as it offers instant communication, with canonical threads as well as clear user identification.

Will Bots Conquer The App?

Phil Libin, partner at General Catalyst, states that bots provide an easier way to interact with technology. They remove the necessity for a fixed user interface, which requires the likes of buttons to be pushed, or a screen to be swiped and also for the user to familiarise themselves with the operational functions of the device. However, with bots on hand to help, all a user needs to do is have a conversation. He believes that the emergence of bots will create a huge shift in our interactions with technology and that we will in turn move further away from applications and increasingly towards bots.

It is widely agreed by industry professionals that the admittance of bots into the world of Facebook will prove to be a huge catalyst for the development and progress that will benefit a plethora of companies and brands who wish to come on board and explore what is possible in this exciting new frontier of technological communication.

 

Workflow Software: The Future of the Web

Jul 15, 2014

Web 3.0 is all but here and it’s thanks to workflow software.

Up to now, in business, workflow software has been limited to enterprise-level process management. However, there is a lot more that it’s capable of unlocking and workflow software has been slowly taking over the world as Internet technology has become more integrated than ever.

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Choosing between native, web & platform

Jun 15, 2014

The question in business today is not whether you need an app.  The questions are “how many, what types, who is it for, what devices will we cater to?”  These questions in turn raise further questions about security, updates, performance, reliability, budgeting, management of the app and measurement.

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Four Steps to success in a data-driven enterprise

May 30, 2014

Businesses and companies today have more data at their disposal than any data focused businesses did two decades ago.  Companies are now able to gather data  based on staff behaviour, customer interactions and communications much more easily and inexpensively

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5 Ways to Protect your Data from NSA Surveillance

May 15, 2014

If the NSA decided that they needed to access your computer, they’d get into it.

However, I’m going to share a few tips you can use to keep your data secure.  Based on recent news stories about the way that the NSA intentionally weakened many cryptographic systems, we know how to counteract their efforts and protect our digital lives more secure.

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Embracing Predictive Tech

Apr 15, 2014

Right now we’re going through the biggest change in decades in how we interact with computers – from command line to mouse, to fingers and voice and now to a paradigm which will actually require far less direct input from us.

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Big Data’s Three Biggest Problems

Mar 30, 2014

According to recent estimates, about $34 billion was spent in big data investments by enterprises in 2013.  There is clearly belief in the value that big data holds.  Sadly, we’re nowhere near to unlocking its true potential.  The reason for this is that most initiatives are using the same reasoning and technology in a variety of forms to solve their problems.  We have undoubtedly improved our capabilities to store and process the data but the things that hold us back are people related problems.

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