For 2 days, I attended Apps World Europe in London at the ExCel center. The exhibit was comprised of different areas of interest, each of which had speakers relating to their area, as well as many stands showcasing some of the latest technology. Here are some of the great areas that I experienced while there.
Representatives from Matmi (The Smiler Alton Towers game), Kabam (The Hunger Games game), Bigpoint (online games) and Creative Mobile (racing games) firstly spoke at a panel to talk about what they predict will happen in gaming in the next year. Asia is going to be the largest market, mobile games will continue to grow and Indie games should be on the rise, according to the panel.
Peter Molyneux from Lionhead Studios then came to speak about the evolution from console to mobile game production. As a huge fan of Fable and Godus, this was the speaker I was most excited about. An excellent speaker – very motivational, fluid and enthusiastic, as well as being amusing! Peter shared his experiences of how developing for mobile platforms was extremely challenging compared to developing for a platform based game. Gamers finish everything much quicker than expected and the demand for new levels and features is extreme. Rather than have an intense period of working on a game, then some time off (consoles), the pressure is non-stop for mobile. He doesn’t feel that mobile gaming is quite there yet, as the best experience is being able to play online and offline while still being in the same point in the game, then being updated when you get Internet (games such as Candy Crush already do this), which was a disappointing feature of Godus.
Jason Bradbury from The Gadget Show showcased some of the new tech that will be coming our way. Some amazing things out there – but the focus is on wearables, especially where health and fitness is concerned. A great one to look out for is the Garmin Watch – Jason has used it for triathlons and couldn’t recommend it enough. There was also a water pack – allowing flight over water. Not quite a jetpack, but nearly there! There was also a big ‘Back to the Future’ theme – he mentioned the hover board being on Kickstarter. Unfortunately, I investigated this after and realised that it will only work if there is copper in the flooring below the board…bit of a let down, but hopefully soon! Jason also mentioned how himself and one of his friends had brought the car from Back to the Future, which was displayed in the lobby of the ExCel.
One of the trends Jason mentioned is the return to Bluetooth. Due to its low power use in wearable tech, it could make a comeback. However a common theme of the day seems to be that people just don’t have their bluetooth on. How can we get people to get their bluetooth back on so that the technology can be utilised? Relating to bluetooth, there is now a pill that you can swallow which will send your heart rate and blood pressure to your personal device. An interesting idea, lots of questions still around that one though! There was also the AirDog and AirLeash – an auto-follow drone fitted with a GoPro camera, another great idea.
Jason was extremely passionate about all these new technologies and showed us so many fascinating things, ones that have already been shown on The Gadget Show and some that have not. Would highly recommend him as a speaker – extremely engaging, having a very open speaking style and a funny man.
Tim Cheung from Braintree came to talk about using their product in the business so that technology can scale and grow with your company. Braintree is part of Paypal and can integrate this within your product with just a few lines of code – very powerful. Apple Payment can be integrated and this will work on all platforms. One Touch is also a coming soon feature: logging in once on a device and being able to pay in all apps. A seamless experience for the customer. We want to achieve one touch payment eventually so an excellent product.
A competing company that I found doing something similar to Braintree was Judo. Judopay have a better UI than Braintree and are all about increasing conversion. They have other products too, but the payment was the main one we discussed.
Ali Parr from Facebook told us about an interesting technology called Parse. Facebook now own this and it has a brilliant user experience. It’s free up to a point and has some powerful features. There’s a lot to go into, so check out their site for more info, but one of the best things I found was their push notifications. It can target specific people and really gets the balance right without being too annoying to the user.
Mobile Payments & Retail
Danielle Anderson from Harris + Hoole spoke to us about merging the physical experience of retail with the digital one. She was another excellent speaker today – very confident in explaining her ideas and what the company are trying to achieve. Harris + Hoole have a range of coffee shops and have a brilliant experience with their native mobile application. She spoke about how we shouldn’t make digital invasive into the physical environment, and the importance of customisation and personalisation. They went into their shops to get the real experience of being customers, identified the key problems and how they could be solved. Their app allows the user to order their coffee, how they want it (which is saved in their profile with the correct spelling of their name – a great way to get analytical data from customers), which is linked up to their till solution. They can collect their loyalty points through the app and top up so they don’t need to enter card details every time – the payment is stored in the app. They can even set up automated payments so that they never run out of credit. They use Judo to integrate their payments – a seamless experience. The customer also doesn’t have to show the phone to their barista – keeping the mobile experience separate to the physical one. An excellent app – if you are near any of H+H’s coffee shops give it a go – they will even give you a free coffee!
Next up was Dan Soffer from Verifone. He was speaking about the mobile wallet and why it isn’t quite ready yet. Verifone allows you to wrap loyalty schemes around payment on the phone, like they do at Starbucks, as payment is not enough anymore: people require loyalty incentives. Personalisation is the best marketing for this. We need to close the VAS (value added services) loop to enable everyone to use the mobile wallet properly and to encourage people to use it. This is not quite yet supported and there is no way yet to close the transaction loop and we need to make all of this work with the existing infrastructure. Was interesting for thinking of future ideas.
Mobile Payments and Retail
Representatives from IMRG, British Retail Consortium, Powa, Green Man Gaming, Tesco and Moss Bros Group PLC gathered to discuss how mobiles and tablets are changing the consumer experience. The best insight for this was definitely from Tesco – the representative was Richard Lewis, head of UX. They try and focus the digital experience on the smaller stores and the ones in the city due to the target audience. People will be more likely to engage if they are on their lunch break or just generally have the time – not if they are doing their big weekly shop. Nutrition and health once again come up as a big thing right now that people want to know more about. They use beacons for data and personalisation: very intuitive and no constant pinging, only engaging when they want to engage. An idea to use phones for shopping lists and taking photos of products. Using voice activation for lists, matching with pictures of products. Having real time coupons based on their purchases with Tesco Clubcard – amazing idea.
They also spoke about the importance of having some extra features on the mobile app compared to the mobile site. Our phones are becoming so crowded with apps now, which is why many are now turning to web apps, so we need to have something extra to encourage customers on the mobile app. Also making multiple apps for one brand isn’t good – there needs to be a big need for this. Also, for personalisation, start by targeting groups of people then move on to individuals.
Many good innovations came out of this session and it definitely got the ball rolling for me and M&S – many good ideas have started brewing! Definitely worth checking all these guys out.
Pioneering iBeacons with Mark Robinson was another interesting insight (there was another iBeacons speaker later on who wasn’t worth writing about who said the opposite to everything Mark said). He works at Ellandi – an investment company for community shopping centres in the UK. They have implemented a smart rewards system in a shopping centre in the UK using iBeacons. It hasn’t been majorly successful due to some beacon related problems (mainly due to people not having their bluetooth on and the beacon technology not quite being ‘there’ yet). They are adding user engagement and gamification to get people to engage and to encourage them to collect the points that they can then trade for offers in their local shops within this complex. A lot of people have really enjoyed this and have been doing a lot to get the points (such as surveys, a great way to get data). Free wifi in stores would really help take this further, but if it fails then there is the problem of people deleting the app. Some interesting ideas and insights – will be intrigued to see how they take this further when the technology is ready.
Panel on exploring tools in enterprise app development, with speakers from Software IDC, Eqela, BBC and Canon Europe. A good tip from Simon Pitt from the BBC (who works on internal apps) was to take the code apart and create templates so that there are re-usable components for your new apps each time. The main message from this panel is that mobile web-apps are the way forward (yay). But we need to look into offline HTML5 and offline web-apps in general.
When all of these amazing talks weren’t going on (or when there were none that I was interested in), there were stands to go to and see what technology was being sold. Here are some of the cool things that I found across the 2 days:
- Golgi – A mobile cloud service simplifying data transport. http://www.golgi.io/
- MagenTys – Software testing for BDD. http://magentys.io/
- Brother – Released a new printer that can post your scans directly onto networks. http://www.brother.co.uk/
- Kinship – Social awareness app to keep in touch with loved ones. Really great idea and lovely looking app. http://www.techsisapps.com/
- Microsoft OneNote – Synchronising notes with people using a REST API. http://www.onenote.com/
- Google Play – Gave out a great user guide for helping with app success. Quite long so will update this when I have finished reading it. https://play.google.com/
- Shinobicontrols – Native UI Controls for iOS and Android. http://www.shinobicontrols.com/
- ISQI – Certifying people in Agile, Software, UX and many more. Some really great courses and material here – great way to get qualified in a range of different fields relating to development! https://www.isqi.org/en/
- SIgnTech – Paperless solution to forms, build and fill out on all platforms. https://www.signtechforms.com/
- Zapp – Another way to pay using mobile, from your bank. http://www.zapp.co.uk/
- Testbirds – Testing your apps for you. http://www.testbirds.com/
And finally, the freebies:
Overall an excellent event, would recommend highly and I will definitely be there next year!