I Stream, You Stream, We All Stream for Live Mobile Streaming

If a picture’s worth a thousand words then a live video is worth a lot more than that! As the latest trend in mobile marketing, live video streaming is a great way to share engaging content online. In this post, you’ll discover what live mobile streaming is all about and how you can benefit from interacting with your audience in real time.

We’re live in 3… 2… 1…

A funny thing happened at Launchpad recently. On June 14, our Managing Director Dane had purchased tickets to Flume’s concert in December. This was after two weeks of the office unanimously loving Flume’s new album, so it was kind of a big deal!

However, when deciding whether to get a ticket or not, the following scenario came to mind…

It’s December 14 and you’ve got your ticket to see one of the biggest electronic producers going around. You’ve had Flume’s songs on repeat across all your music streaming apps and are just a day away from belting out ‘Never be like youuuu!’

But then you sneeze. And sneeze. And sneeze again.

By the next morning, you have an almighty flu that makes it hard enough to get out of bed, let alone go to the concert that night.

And while this situation has never happened to me personally, it’s the type of scenario that I used to dread before a concert.

In the past, you’d have to politely watch with envy as a friend shares poorly recorded footage of a concert you missed. But this is no longer the case thanks to the latest trend in mobile: live video streaming.

With just a tap on your screen, the whole concert can be streamed on your smartphone in real time. I recently experienced Coachella Music Festival on a 360 Live Stream, including a fantastic performance by Flume! But don’t take my word for it; see for yourself when Flume’s set is streamed live from Lollapalooza Festival this July.

Mobile video previously had the curiosity of consumers by shifting their eyes away from the TV to the smartphone. But with live streaming now being introduced across online social networks, mobile video has grabbed our attention. As the ease with which users can stream takes down the barriers of adoption, let’s examine how the rapid growth of live video benefits mobile consumers and presents new marketing opportunities for businesses.

 

The streaming revolution

What was once used predominately for streaming game footage and special events, brands are now adopting live streaming to reach their stakeholders in more innovative ways.

With more and more companies using live streaming, it is predicted that this tool will become big this year and even bigger in the future.

In fact live streaming has been widely used by lots of businesses for marketing purposes and also for other interactions such as panels, tours and training purposes.

A study by Brandline found that business executives perceived live streaming to be beneficial in engagement. As a result, businesses are now prepared to invest more money into this marketing channel.

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The benefits that companies perceive from live streaming. Source: AdWeek

 

As live streaming catches on with others, I believe that other social media platforms will want to tap (pun intended) into the market and use their own live streaming features. Potential apps that could potentially adopt live streaming include Snapchat, Instagram and Tinder (Streaming live dates anyone?).

 

What’s out there?

There are thousands of different live media streaming sites and apps online.

We’ll be taking a look at four mobile apps that offer live streaming functionality.

While some of the apps mentioned here are only available on certain devices and/or have not been released to the public yet, you can expect to be seeing them sooner rather than later.

Let’s meet them shall we?

 

1. YouTube Live

Back in 2011, YouTube first released live streaming but only to four of its partners. Currently the feature is only available on desktop and laptop but will come to mobile in the near future.

Note that before you start live streaming, you’ll need to download an encoder.

A live chat is available so you’ll be able to see the reactions and interactions of viewers. You’ll also be able to share your stream link on social media to notify followers and friends of the stream.

After the live stream ends, a copy of the stream is saved on the streamer’s channel.

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YouTube has finally debuted live streaming. Source: YouTube Creator

 

2. Facebook Live

With Facebook Live, you can stream within Facebook from your Android and iOS smartphone without the needing to download a standalone app.

All you need to do is log into your Facebook account by tapping ‘Go Live’ in your status update.

You can monitor engagement through real time comments, likes, loves and emoticons in the comments section on your live stream.

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Facebook Live allows users to broadcast video through the company’s flagship mobile app. Source: The Verge

 

3. Periscope

Acquired in 2015 by the social media platform Twitter, Periscope is an iOS and Android app that allows users to create broadcasts.

Compared to the other streamers, you can’t schedule dates for future live streams. Another difference, which is currently only available for iPhone users, is that Periscope gives statistics on broadcast performance. This is highly beneficial for businesses to understand what works, what doesn’t and how to improve.

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Periscope lets you broadcast live video to the world. Source: TechSpot

4. Meerkat

Released in 2015, our last streamer is a direct rival of Periscope that allows the user to stream live on the spot or schedule live streams. You can connect your Twitter and Facebook account to Meerkat, which alerts friends and followers when live streams start.

One of its unique features is Cameo where it allows the streamer to choose a follower to take over the live stream for up to a minute. This also alerts the follower’s friends of the live stream.

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Meerkat allows streamers to choose a follower to take over a live video. Source: Digital Trends

 

So now that we’ve introduced the four main social media mobile streaming apps, you might be wondering….

 

Why should I use live mobile streaming?

There are many ways live video streaming can benefit your promotional activities regardless of industry.

Check out the awesome infographic from Hyperfine Media that shows the advantages of video marketing.

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1. Live streaming speaks louder than posts

Video streaming is more engaging than viewing an image, post or tweet. This means followers will stay and watch your content longer instead of scrolling past, potentially increasing brand awareness.

Bold Content Video found that live-streamed videos on Facebook are watched 3x longer than recorded videos. Furthermore, live streaming provides flexibility that enables brands to be creative with their streams and show audiences who they are.

 

2. Increased interaction

You will be able to respond and engage instantly as viewers interact with you and others via the live chat box when live streaming. You’ll be able to spark debate or even get feedback from viewers, making it a more intuitive experience.

This is also great for customer support. With live streaming; you won’t need to wait 30 hours on the phone or 30 years to get a response to your query.

You can provide exceptional customer support by responding quickly to questions about your business, providing a more personal interaction.

 

3. Affordable and easy

Live streaming is free for everyone. All it requires is a social media account or a streaming app, such as Periscope, which is free. It’s so easy to operate and you won’t need to know that entire videography lingo.

You also won’t need high tech video producing equipment unless you want to produce high-definition quality streams. All you need to start a live stream is a smartphone and you’re good to go!

 

4. Larger reach

Posting a Tweet or Facebook post limits your audience to followers and viewers who click on your page. With live streaming you have the ability to broadcast to the entire world or across an entire social media platform. This could increase awareness and potentially lead to more customer prospects.

 

How can I use live mobile video streaming?

There are many ways you can use live mobile video streaming. You could stream events like webinars, new product releases, press conferences, fundraisers or meetings for your business. Viewers can watch those streams anywhere in the world without actually being present.

This is a great way to keep viewers up to date with business activity, major events and also allows you to provide an educational experience. A recent example is Microsoft’s launch of Halo 5 with a live stream on YouTube showcasing the gameplay

This helped increase sales in the billions and made it the top selling game on Xbox One.

 

Product or service tutorials

Besides teaching users on how to use product/services, live streaming tutorials are a great way to highlight your products/services.

Going in detail though the features and benefits could attract awareness among prospect customers. An element of your product or service could be the answer to their needs!

 

Q&As

This is a great way to interact and engage with the audience by answering questions from viewers. It’s also a great way to inform viewers of future products, direction of the company and address issues in the media.

For example, Domino’s Pizza recently held a live Q&A stream on Facebook, where viewers could ask the CEO questions.

 

Behind the scenes access

You could live stream a typical day at the office or your work environment to highlight your culture and brand personality to your viewers.

This would be ideal if you’ve got a unique office environment, like those organisations that boast an in house laser tag arena, make-your-own sundae buffet and slides.

Besides turning the whole world green, it can be used as an HR tool and potentially promote and attract talent to your work place.

Have an event coming up? Give viewers a VIP pass back stage pass to live streaming events, conferences, latest movies and concerts. Not only will it be memorable but could also showcase your partners and sponsors and increase views.

A recent example of this was the behind-the-scenes Facebook Live stream from the Oscars.

 

Tips for mobile live video streaming

Before you start pulling out your smartphone, here are some tips for you to create an awesome live stream:

 

1. Plan and prepare

As the saying goes: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So before your live stream, Make sure you plan aspects like location, Internet connection, equipment, running sheets, notifying followers of your live stream and contingency plans.

Unless you’re doing a live stream that’s spontaneous or doesn’t require a lot of preparation, plan ahead.

 

2. Make the live stream content relevant to your target market

Find out what content captivates your target market and use that as a basis for your live streams.

E.g. Redbull’s known for extreme sporting events and daredevil feats. In 2012, they live streamed a freefall from the edge of space by that racked up millions of views.

 

3. Trial each app

Like a shirt, one size may fit or may not fit all. You’ll need to experiment with the mobile streaming apps and choose those that works for you.

Most live streaming platforms have analytics tools, which is great for getting feedback on your streams. This is useful to determine the platform’s suitability for you.

In addition, Cision has created a mini guide, which is helpful when decide which streaming platform you’ll be using.

 

4. Have a stable Internet connection

This is important performance wise especially if you’re broadcasting at an event. Having a stable connection ensures that there aren’t any disruptions or lag during the stream. The audience won’t want to miss any minute of the action, so if your stream cuts out they might lose interest.

Also note that streaming uses up a lot of data, so make sure you have enough data and be aware of the roaming costs when you’re overseas.

 

And… Cut!

So what are your thoughts on mobile live streaming? Think it’s just a fad?

Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

For more insightful posts, check out our most recent blogs.

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4 Mobile App Trends for 2016

Mobile app development is at the top of the agenda for many entrepreneurs and businesses in 2016. We share our top 4 predictions for the year ahead on the changes in the mobile industry and app market.

2015 was a huge year for apps. Mobile overtook desktop as users spent more time on their mobile devices. The app development market experienced tremendous growth, profitability, and expansion. Mobile devices became the new normal for delivering content, entertainment, transportation and much more.

App developers must evolve its strategy to be relevant across new channels and screens moving forward. We expect an exciting year ahead. Here are the top four app trends for 2016.

User-Centric Apps

Whenever we do a Rocketfuel Workshop with our clients, there is one key process that ensures we define a minimum viable product and lockdown their app concept’s product position: User Persona Modeling. Personas are an effective tool to create the right product for the app’s intended target market. This allows our clients to understand the motivation of their app’s target users and, in turn, define the product features that satisfy the market.

App User Persona

An example User Persona Model, including the intended user’s bio, motivations, personality and goals. Source: Xtensio

We apply this user-centric approach to app development because, now more than ever, entrepreneurs and businesses need to consider the complete user experience their app provides. With mobile apps now accounting for more than half (52%) of all the time spent on digital media, a user-centric approach to app development is crucial to creating a meaningful app experience.

However, you can’t just assume to know what your target users want in an app. You need to track and analyse relevant Big Data for it to become Meaningful Data that provides insight into your app’s potential consumers. This is essential to creating a user experience that caters to how your consumers are actually using the app.

At Launchpad App Development, our mission is to help entrepreneurs and business transform innovative ideas into successful apps. If you want to create a successful app in 2016, your target users should be defining the app product.

In-App Ads

Three of the largest players in the mobile space (Google, Apple and Facebook) have all been investing an enormous amount of time and resources into powering ‘virtual assistant’ type technology. Google created Google Now, Apple has Siri and Facebook is testing M. The goal of all of these companies is to become the best personal assistant you’ve ever had and in large part to provide personalised ads proactively before a user even makes a request. This represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about in-app advertising.

As businesses improve their ability to create data-driven experiences for their app users, the targeting of ads will greatly improve and consequently become much more effective. Once users have opted-in to a data program they will often provide a great deal of information regarding their preferences, as well as geographic and demographic information that can be quite useful.

By developing a data program, apps will be able to leverage the behaviour of users within the app to refine their experience with ads that are more relevant. Personalised in-app ads draw double the click-through rate of normal display ads and, in many cases, bypass ad blockers to reach the right audience in the right context.

With nearly three times more spent on in-app advertising compared to mobile web, personalised in-app advertising will continue to flourish in 2016 and beyond. By 2018, Juniper Research predicts it’ll reach $17 billion, making in-app the fastest growing sector in mobile advertising.

Mobile Video

Mobile video is growing quickly. IAB found that 58% of people watch videos daily from their mobile device. Clearly, quality video production intended for the small screen can be truly effective in reaching this growing audience. This makes businesses eager to capitalise on this trend.

As eyeballs shift away from the TV screen to the smartphone, advertising dollars are quickly following. As a result, redirect viewers to an app plays a key role in the growth of the mobile video format.

Mobile Video App

The explosion in engagement for YouTube’s smartphone and tablet app highlights the rapid shift to mobile video. Source: comScore

When it comes to mobile video, apps are clearly the consumers’ choice for viewing them. 48% of the respondents to IAB’s study confirmed they access video content via applications rather than visiting a mobile website. While only 18% indicated they would rather view video via mobile website. The mobile video market is expected to reach over $13 billion by 2020 and grew rapidly in 2015. It’s safe to say that we can expect continued substantial growth in 2016.

Apps Becoming Part of Our Lifestyles

The problem with app adoption in the past can be nailed down to one singular issue – mobile data. With data caps and overcharge rates, apps have been limited how creative and forward thinking they can be. As a result, we  restrict ourselves to apps that provide individual features. For example, an app for music streaming, an app for weather, an app for fitness tracking etc.

Expect apps in 2016 to become an integral part of your life. For instance, a fitness journal that displays the weather before your run and provides music playlists customised. Sound a bit far-fetched? Not to us app developers!

As long as there are forced restrictions on how much you can download, apps themselves play a pivotal role in positioning themselves as a lifestyle attachment, rather than a usable ‘thing’ that can quickly be uninstalled in favour of the next big thing. There’s only so much data that will fit in a mobile plan – better make sure your app is making the most of it.

What’s more, the apps you choose could very well communicate your values in terms of your lifestyle. The apps you use every day could soon tell people “I’m proud to be a _____ and that’s why I use (app).” The more attuned these apps become to our goals, likes and dislikes in life, the more they’ll find themselves being used likely far beyond what even us as developers envisioned.

What app trends are you anticipating in the year ahead? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Best of the Best: Mobile Music Streaming Apps

The rise of the mobile apps has led to an abundance of streaming services for us to get our music fix on the go. In this blog, we cast an eye over the current big name Mobile Music Streaming Services to find out which one comes out on top as the best of the best. 

A funny thing happened on my train to work recently. After noticing a fellow morning commuter’s swanky Beats Headphones, I had the sudden urge to finally listen to Dr. Dre’s new album (and also received a sudden lesson in cross-promotion). So I tried searching for the album on Spotify but could not find it. “Where is Dr. Dre’s new album?!” I thought to myself.

A quick Google search revealed that the album is exclusive to Apple Music and not available on Spotify. It was a disappointing revelation, but considering the incredibly crowded field of streaming services, it wasn’t a surprising one.

There is little doubt that the digital music market is moving away from downloads and towards streaming services. With mobile devices and apps driving the change towards streaming music, both big names and emerging brands have realised these huge opportunities in the mobile music streaming industry.

Apple Music launched its long-awaited streaming service in June this year, while Google continues to invest in expanding YouTube’s Music App. With much to gain for the winners, competition in the mobile music streaming space is intense.

So what’s the best streaming service for us app users? Well, if you asked me before that train ride, I would have said that Spotify provides the best mobile experience. If you ask me as I got off the train, I would have told you that Apple Music has the best catalogue of music, including access to exclusive albums and songs. However, if you asked me at work that day after chatting with our Graphic Designer Julian, I would have suggested that Pandora provides the best instant playlists optimised to your music preferences. That being said, I know that some of the people in our office at Launchpad App Development swear by Tidal’s excellent sound quality.

Despite my indecisiveness, I know that not all streaming services are made equal. Therefore, it’s about time I get off the fence and evaluate the marketing-leading music streaming apps to find out which is best for those morning train rides.

Spotify – The Best Mobile App

With over 75 million active users worldwide, Spotify is the brand many associate with music streaming. Boasting the top streaming service app worldwide, more than half of Spotify’s active users stream music on their mobile devices.

Spotify

Spotify’s mobile app cements their spot as the global leader in mobile music streaming. Source: App Annie

The Spotify mobile app is clean and simple, working in a similar manner to the desktop application. You can create custom playlists, and add tracks on the fly through search or while browsing. Users can also follow artists or other subscribers to keep up with their recommendations.

Spotify has a Freemium business model that, for free users, only offers shuffle playback of your playlists rather than track-by-track selections. Mobile streaming is only available in 96Kbps, 160Kbps or 320Kbps (the latter bitrate for iPhone and Android only and with Premium service). Furthermore, the free service is ad supported, which sucks for frugal users, but is effective for generating paid subscribers to the Premium service.

Speaking of which, Spotify offers three months of their Premium service for AU$0.99. After, it costs $11.99 per month and offers no ads, mobile listening and offline mode. For Premium users, Spotify also allows you to log in and keep listening to your music outside of your profile country if you travel.

The low-down:

Spotify is the genuine all-rounder and was one of the first ‘search for a song and play it immediately’ services available on iPhone and Android mobile devices. Despite missing out on exclusive artists and access to 24/7 radio services, Spotify offers a community where users can make and share playlists with other subscribers, add friends to share music with and see what other people were listening to. There are even playlists themed around what mood you are in or what activity you are undertaking.

Considered by many as the gold standard, Spotify is the mobile music streaming service that others are measured against.

Apple Music – The Best Music Catalogue

The new(ish) Apple Music has been built from Beats Music, which Apple acquired for a lazy $3 billion in 2014. So how is Apple trying to push aside the likes of Pandora, SoundCloud and – especially – Spotify to be the one-stop destination for all things music?

Well, having the largest music catalogue of 37 million tracks, along with exclusive access to artists like Taylor Swift and (cue defeated sigh) Dr. Dre is a damn good place to start. Add to this a new all-live worldwide radio station, Beats 1, and an artist-centric social network, and you’ve got an all-in-one streaming service app.

For the loyal Apple fans, there’s the added bonus of Apple Music being pre-installed on all iOS mobile devices for instant access to all iPhone and iPod users.

apple_music_screenshots.0

When you sign up for Apple Music, you get a free three-month trial with full access to all of the features. After that, it costs AU$11.99 a month, or you can get a family subscription for AU$17.99 which will allow six people to share the one subscription. Furthermore, Telstra is offering iPhone users on a 12- or 24- month Go Mobile Plan a year’s worth of Apple Music for free from the carrier.

The low-down:

Apple Music gets a lot right – a massive music catalogue, great voice control integration with Siri, and good cross-platform support (it’s coming to Android later this year). But with all of those features jammed into one app, Apple Music falls short on navigation and user interface – which is something of a surprise, given Apple’s long time focus on superior design.

Stuck in fourth place behind Spotify, Pandora and YouTube, Apple Music isn’t providing enough incentive for mobile app users to leave established streaming services. Apple have a long standing reputation for taking a wait-and-see approach with new technologies, but in an industry where the competitors have shown no signs of slowing down, Apple’s name recognition just isn’t enough anymore.

Pandora – The Best Internet Radio

The market-leading music streaming app in the United States, Pandora highlights the demand for Interactive Radio by offering users a way to consume music without choosing individual tracks. Pandora’s model is simple – enter any artist, genre or song you like, and Pandora will provide a stream of similar sounding music.

Pandora

Users can then give a thumbs up or down to refine their radio stations to songs they want to hear. You can save artists as favourites, with an option to by specific songs with link-out agreements. It’s more of a music-discovery service, or an instant playlist without the hassle.

The free service is ad supported with radio stations that stream at 64Kbps. The premium service (in the form of Pandora One) costs $4.99 per month and removes ads. With Pandora One, users also get more skips per hour and an improved streaming quality of 192Kbps.

The low-down:

Pandora offers a true radio experience with a simple and intuitive user interface. The iPhone and Android apps introduce you to a lot of new music and allow you to easily optimise your Internet radio experience.

However, the pessimist in me can’t help but have a ‘glass half empty’ view of Pandora. There are limitations, such as only being able skip 12 songs a day and large data consumption. Plus 1.5 million songs in its catalogue is not a lot when compared to other services.

Cue the trombone… Womp womp womp woooomp.

Pandora’s not the best streaming app available, but it’s never been an overall music service like Spotify or Apple Music. Instead, Pandora’s all about keeping things simple – push a button to listen to songs you like, without setting up playlists or searching for music. Internet radio doesn’t get much better than that!

Tidal- The Best Sound Quality

Tidal, formerly known as Aspiro, is the Swedish music streaming service that was recently purchased by Jay Z for a casual $56 Million in March 2015. The rapper/business mogul has vowed to create the first artist-owned music streaming service – owned funnily enough by some of pop music’s elite. Lets not talk about that bizarre press event, which has to be one of the worst marketing campaigns I have ever seen.

One thing Tidal is doing right is pledging to pay higher royalties to artists, songwriters and producers. If this is true, it may see bigger bands and artists removing their music from Spotify, which in turn may help smaller bands that are struggling to make ends meet. But lets get down to what’s on offer with Tidal.

Tidal

Tidal’s star-studded press conference. Source: Engadget

Tidal offers the highest quality audio on the market, something that will appeal to a number of listeners out there. Tidal HiFi, Tidal’s superior streaming service, offers high fidelity lossless CD quality audio – FLAC 1411 kbps – for $23.99 a month. It makes sense for subscribers to subscribe to Tidal. Why buy an expensive set of headphones if you aren’t getting the best sound out of them? The FLAC 1411 bitrate audio offers a fuller sound with much more detail. There is also Tidal Premium, which features standard sound quality (320 kbps) for $11.99.

Tidal’s music catalogue is over 35 million, with a few noticeable gaps, but will give access to exclusive content and is ad free. Unsurprisingly, the Tidal app is very sleek and modern but a bit buggy. There is a 30-day free trial to give Tidal a shot but no free service like what Spotify offers.

The low-down:

Tidal actually has a lot more going for it than just being owned by some of the world’s biggest artists. It offers up the best sound quality, with that lossless CD audio being far superior to its competitors. Furthermore, its extensive music catalogue and access to exclusive content from artists is a real eye-catcher.

However, at a cost of $24 per month, I can’t help but question if what Tidal offers is worth it. At $288 a year, it’s double the cost of a Premium Spotify service and an Apple Music subscription. Not to mention I am already paying for Netflix, Foxtel and an expensive phone bill each month.

Can a guy catch a break?

With no free option, Tidal is positioning itself as the highest quality and aiming for the audiophiles market. Does helping ‘fledging artists’ pull at your heartstrings or does Tidal’s cost makes it seem like too much of a hit to the bank account? I think I can feel my back pocket burning…

The Best of the Best

Let’s face it, no music streaming service is going to offer everything we want in a mobile app.  Spotify provides great user experience and extensive music catalogue but means missing out on exclusive content. Choosing Apple Music subscription gives you exclusive content, but forgo Tidal’s FLAC 1411 quality audio. You might get an excellent Interactive Radio with Pandora, but a lite catalogue of music to listen to.

No mobile music streaming service is perfect.

For now, Spotify remains the best option available. The app is user-friendly, has a great music catalogue, and lets you make and share playlists. Not to mention that it’s free if you can put up with those pesky ads.

FYI I’m a Spotify user and ended up buying a CD of Dr Dre’s new album. Who knew that music could still be a physical product??

What music streaming app do you use and why? Let us know in the comments below.

Apple Wants YOU to Develop TV Apps

At their September Keynote event, Apple launched their fourth-generation Apple TV with a vague release date of October sometime. With a week to spare, it looks like Apple will squeak in their latest set-top box right before the end of the month.

Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage at WSJD Live to announce that “the foundation of the future of TV” is available for order as of today and that shipping will begin by the end of this week (Friday, October 30).

As discussed in my ‘Are Apps The Future of TV?’ post, the biggest new feature of the Apple TV is its new App Store. So that you don’t turn on your new set-top box to be greeted with a barren App Store, Apple has just started accepting app and game submissions from its development community.

Apple has provided app developers, like us, with guidelines for supporting major Apple TV features and submitting tvOS apps. Now they’re calling out potential app entrepreneurs and startups, like YOU, to change the way we consume and connect with television.

So what do disruptive app developers and entrepreneurs need to know about the fourth-generation Apple TV?

In this post, we examine Apple’s next big product and how you, as an early adopter, can create apps that change the way we gather around our big screens.

 

What’s in the Box?

Made entirely from glossy and matte black plastics, the new Apple TV looks just like its two predecessors, only around 50% taller with two rear port changes. All audio has to go through HDMI and the previous micro-USB port has given way to a USB-C connector. As iFixit notes, a giant heat sink inside makes it noticeably heavier than before.

The new Apple TV will also be shipped with a new Siri Remote, which is black on top and silver on the bottom. To make scrolling quicker, Apple has replaced the prior four-direction navigation circle with a small matte glass surface that can be used for navigational swipe and gentler positing. Gyroscope/accelerometer sensors are hidden inside the remote for future games, and not user within the main Apple TV interface.

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The evolution of the Apple TV Remote.

Four new buttons have been added to enable the Siri Remote to control your TV’s volume, activate twin built-in microphones for Siri voice input, and quickly return to the Apple TV’s main menu. Apple has also included a multi-month rechargeable battery this time that can be refuelled with an included Lightning to USB cable.

 

What’s the new Software?

Apple has substantially redesigned the Apple TV’s user interface with an ambitious, visually appealing set of improvements. Everything’s been whitewashed with a brighter colour palette, text has been flipped to Apple’s new San Francisco font, and drop shadows have been added. Translucent panes introduced in iOS7 have made their way to tvOS, with even better results.

One big change that isn’t obvious from screenshots is speed: the new Apple TV lets you zip rather than plodding through menus, thanks in equal parts to a considerably beefier A8 processor and the more responsive Siri Remote. Additionally, app icons and cover art images now wiggle in 3D thanks to an Apple mandate that developers include 2-5 parallax layers to create depth.

Much of the new UI, including Apple-developer widgets like Weather and Stocks that aren’t represented by app icons, can be navigated using Siri voice commands. You have to hold down the Siri Remote’s microphone button while you speak to get Siri to “hear” and process whatever you say. This takes a little adjustment, but is better than killing the Siri Remote’s by having it endlessly listen for the words “Hey Siri” or, even worse, trolling questions like “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuckwood”

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Siri’s answer to the age-old-troll question. Source: MacRumors

By holding down the mic button, Siri can be activated in the middle of pretty much anything, including videos. You can use Siri for voice-controlled navigation, “What did they just say?” type inquires, and lookups of information related to whatever’s currently playing.

Along with the new UI and Siri Remote, the biggest new addition to Apple TV’s Software – well, for us app developers and entrepreneurs – is the soon to be opened App Store. More than likely, the set-top box will arrive with only a handful of Apple-developed apps pre-installed, leaving you to choose which third-party developed apps will be filling up your Home screen.

 

What To Expect From TV Apps and Games

The A8 processor inside the new Apple TV is one year and three generations old, which is to say that it’s already been surpassed in power by the iPhone 6s/6s Plus’s A9 and iPad Pro’s A9X. But with at least as much horsepower as these other Apple products, the Apple TV will be well-equipped to play new games, as well as thousands of games previously released on iOS devices, assuming that they’re updated to support the tvOS operating system.

Expect the graphics in 3D games to be roughly on par with consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with no shortage of ability to handle 2D games of any type.

One note of caution about tvOS games: for all of the set-top box’s incredible potential as a gaming platform, Apple continue to ignore requests from serious gamers regarding basic controller issues, such as allowing developers to offer games without support for the restrictive Siri Remote. It remains to be seen whether software and hardware decisions like this, which have upset many within the gaming community, kills the Apple TV’s ability to win over major game developers and their customers.

While apps are a lot easier to code than games, the Apple TV’s living room-focused interface hints that Apple’s not looking to see it turn into a cut-rate Mac. Basic widgets to extend the functionality of traditional TV features – watching sports, learning about the weather – will appear quickly, as will tvOS versions of Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu Plus and other channels.

However, don’t expect Apple to endorse creation apps, web browsers, or other Mac mainstays for the platform. Well, not yet, at least. Similarly, it will be interesting to see whether compromised apps with audio and/or one-way video calling take off in the absence of integrated FaceTime-caliber hardware.

 

Have An Idea for a TV App?

Even though prior versions of the Apple TV haven’t been mega-hits, the second- and third-generation models proved to be quite handy for everything from watching videos to occasionally putting FaceTime calls on the big screen.

I’m personally very excited about the fourth-generation Apple TV’s potential and think the next year will be a wild ride for early adopters. The first two or three months may be chaotic for developers and entrepreneurs as they rush to get hastily completed apps and games into the Apple TV App Store. In time though, the right kind of apps will change the way we experience television for the better.

What kind of apps would you like to see on a television platform? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Are Apps The Future of TV?

“The future of TV is apps,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook as he launched the fourth-generation Apple TV. But are we set to transform the way we consume and connect with television? We examine the latest Apple TV and its new App Store to find out.

During the much-anticipated September Keynote event, Apple showcased a host of revamped devices, including the iPhone 6S and an iPad Pro with a swanky smart keyboard accessory (A.K.A. Apple’s version of the Microsoft Surface Pro). But the show-stealing product was the fourth-generation Apple TV and the vision bestowed upon the new set-top box.

“It’s the golden age of television,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “Our vision for TV is simple and perhaps a little provocative. We believe the future of television is apps.”

To me, the word ‘provocative’ sticks out here. Will having a TV App Store challenge the channel-browsing habits that have defined the television experience for decades?

Short answer: Yes. Slightly longer answer: Yes – And it’s about time!

In 2007, the first generation Apple TV was released. A year later, the iPhone App Store was launched with only 500 apps. That number has grown to well over a million apps in just seven years.

Now that Apple TV will finally have an App Store, it’s where the iPhone was back in 2008: open to third-party apps.

The App Store has changed the world by encouraging app developers to create mobile experiences that transcended industry, entrepreneurship and international distribution boundaries. Will allowing developers to create apps for the Apple TV lead to a similar revolution in the channel-browsing experience?

To assess this question in detail, we have examined the latest Apple TV set-top box and its new App Store to find out if apps are set to transform the way we consume content and interact with television.

 

The New App Store

The long-awaited overhaul to Apple TV is centred on Apple’s vision that apps are the future of television. The biggest new feature of the Apple TV is its new App Store.

In conjunction with the launch of the tvOS Operating System, the newly built-in App Store allows Apple and third-party developers to expand Apple TV’s software ecosystem and widen its core functionality.

“When you experience TV in this way through an app, you realise how much better it can be. You can search for what you want, you can interact with it where and when you want.” – Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Apple TV Remote

Source: VentureBeat

As Chris Welch from The Verge notes, this is the next step in Apple’s attempt to own the living room. It arrives ahead of Apple’s own TV subscription service, expected to come sometime in the next year.

To achieve such an objective, you can understand why Apple has taken the same route that allowed them to capture the smartphone experience. The App Store for TV is almost identical to its iPhone equivalent. There are top charts and a single purchase of an app means you can install it across all your Apple devices. Apps even have continuity among devices that allows you to buy an app on your Apple TV and run it on your iPhone.

Apple launched the new App Store for TV by referring to it as “the golden age of television”. This may be a ‘provocative’ vision, but it’s unlikely to prove as disruptive to the TV industry as the iPod and iTunes proved to be to the music industry. When you consider the strikingly similar launch of the revolutionary iPhone App Store over seven years ago, Apple could just as easily referred to the new App Store for TV as “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

 

The New Siri Remote

The new Apple TV provides a ‘hands-on’ approach to interacting with television using Siri, Apple’s personal assistant technology. The new Siri touch remote allows viewers to shop, listen to music, and search using vague descriptions. E.g. ‘best movies from the ‘90s’ will see Siri searching in the box before displaying all the results.

Apple TV and Remote

Source: Daily Star

As seen above, the top of the remote features a touch surface for easier navigation. It maintains the simplicity accustomed to Apple products with just a few buttons — Menu, Airplay, Siri/Voice control, play/pause, and an option to adjust the volume. And to top it off, as you watch shows and movies, Siri can also provide current weather conditions or keep you updated on sports scores.

 

The New Gaming Platform

With new features, it is the remote’s game controller functionality that will change the way we interact with our TVs. The new tvOS Operating System means that game developers can new create gaming experiences that feature touch surface navigation and voice command functionality.

Apple has made games a primary selling point of its new Apple TV product. This is not surprising when many of the components necessary for an innovative game experience will come with the device. This includes the new Siri remote and an App Store to buy and download games. Furthermore, Apple already had unexpected success with Games being the top category of apps for both iPhone and iPad.

“I think Apple’s going to create a big new category in gaming, one that others have tried and failed to create before,” said Jan Dawson from technology research firm Jackdaw Research. “What the Apple TV has the potential to do is to bring casual gaming to the living room and make it a much more social activity.”

 

So what is the future of TV? Stay tuned…

The launch of the fourth-generation Apple TV could bring an innovative change to content consumption and interaction.

The App Store will allow developers to change what we can expect from the television experience. The Siri Remote will allow users to change how to navigate and interact with their big screen. The Gaming Platform will allow Apple to change casual gaming by bringing it to the living room TV.

These innovative changes are the future of Apple TV, but that doesn’t mean that apps are the future of TV.

The future of TV is the right kind of apps. Streaming apps likes Netflix and casual games like Crossy Road make sense as apps for TV. But would browsing Social Media or shopping on your TV provide a better user experience than your iPhone or computer? I don’t think so.

Note to the future of TV: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Do you think apps are the future of TV? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

The Most Popular iPhone and iPad Apps of All Time

With Apple’s much-anticipated keynote happening today, a list of the most popular iPhone and iPad Apps has been released. We take a look at the iOS App Store’s history and your favourite apps in the past five years.

Today Apple announced three things coming this spring: an updated Apple TV, a gigantic iPad and new iPhones. With the iOS9, it’s extraordinary to see how far the iPhone has come in less than a decade.

When the original iPhone was released in 2007, there was no App Store at all. In 2008, the App Store was first launched with only 500 apps. That number has grown to over a million apps that are creating mobile experiences, enriching and empowering our lives.

So what are the iOS Apps that have stood out from the crowd to top the App Store rankings?

The latest report from analytics firm App Annie have crowned the most popular iOS apps of all time. We review the top downloaded and grossing apps to see how they have become so widely used today.

Top Apps by Downloads

Top All-Time Worldwide Downloads

Facebook, Google and Apple dominate the list of the top 10 most-downloaded apps with 8 of the spots. Facebook alone claims 4 of the spots. Along with their main app coming in first, others on the list include Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. Skype and Twitter are the only apps from other companies, coming in at fifth and ninth place, respectively.

So what do these rankings tell us about the iOS app market?

Well, they do reveal that even as iPhones are updated and operating systems evolve, user habits have not changed much in the past few years when it comes to our favourite apps. Although most of the apps featured in the top 10 are over 4 years old, they all continue to attract millions of downloads per month.

Also of note is that over half of the apps are based around strong social networking and sharing features. This should be no surprise when most users install social apps first after getting a new iPhone or iPad.

Top Apps by Revenue

Top All-Time Worldwide Revenue

When it comes to the apps that make the most money, the top 10 is a lot different from the All-Time Downloads, with Skype being the only one featured on both lists. However, the winners on this list seem quite logical considering that most of the top-grossing apps are entertainment and dating apps.

When compared to the top-downloaded apps, the top-grossing apps are represented by a much wider selection of companies, with LINE being the only one to claim multiple top 10 spots. As noted by The Cheat Sheet, Pandora Radio’s top ranking was driven by the US, which contributed practically all of it’s revenue.

At $9.99, Apple’s word processer Pages is the only app featured that generated revenue entirely from paid downloads. All the other apps on the list apply a variation of the freemium model. To find out more about the monetisation models you can apply to generate app income here.

Top Apps by Usage

Using the top 10 most-downloaded and highest-grossing lists, all of the most popular iOS apps were compared based on monthly active users (MAU).

Tops App by Usage

When it comes to app usage, many of the most downloaded and top revenue apps are also ranked in the top 10 by MAU. The exception here is China where, quite remarkably, none of the 19 apps in the download and revenue rankings are among the top 50 apps by MAU. This can be attributed to users in China having a strong preference for local apps that provide similar functionality to their global App Store counterparts.

Key Takeaways

Everyone has their personal favourite apps.  Then there are those universal ones that seem nearly required for every iPhone and iPad, e.g. Facebook. You might have guessed the most popular apps correctly or been close, just by looking at your phone.

Also note that apps with strong social and sharing features take up over half of the top 10 most-downloaded list. Referred as ‘The App Effect’, mobile users are looking for the next app experience that will change their lives. The most popular iPhone and iPad apps provide this.

So what are some of your favourite iOS apps? Let us know in the comments below.