Tag Archives: iphone

Apple iSlate Roadmap: Game-Changing Features for Version 1.0 and Beyond

Mobile industry experts tend to agree on the purported iSlate features such as multi-touch, WiFi wireless networking and a long-life battery. But, what would make the iSlate a truly revolutionary device? I explore some possibilities below.

Apple’s new product announcement is scheduled for Wednesday, January 27, 2010, at 10am PST. Click here for live coverage at the time of the event.

  • Live TV Programming.
    Play live TV broadcasts that include local, national and international programming. The initial offering could have a select number of high profile choices. Broadcast networks and their advertisers would love the eventual demographic and local targeting. Built-in analytics would drive further interest and participation.
  • Voiceprint Technology.
    Biometric voice authentication could be required to unlock the device, conduct monetary transactions or access sensitive data. Industries such as health care and banking are key verticals where Apple would like to get a foothold for their tablet device. Authentication would allow for admin-defined sensitivity settings where access to extremely sensitive applications may require more voice samples to verify identity.
  • Touch-back Screen.
    A keyboard would display on-screen similar to the iPhone, however, when your fingertips make contact, you’d receive touch-back feedback, providing unmistakable confirmation by sensors and actuators. The intensity level could be set by the user. Context-appropriate haptic (vibration) effects would make game playing more engaging, intuitive and natural. Furthermore, industrial and commercial applications would benefit from safer and more accurate control in distractive environments.
  • Ultra-Thin OLED Flexible Displays and Batteries.
    If Apple employs OLED flexible display technology, the display depth could be paper-thin and the tablet could potentially be even thinner than the iPhone. Complementary thin, flexible battery technology could create some interesting form factors. While I don’t expect Apple’s first generation tablet to leverage a flexible display, it’s a strong possibility in future versions.
  • Writing and Sketch-Pad Reinvented.
    The multi-touch screen would also work with a provided writing device. Creative professionals such as game developers, graphic designers, architects, animators, fashion designers and photographers would love the natural feel and accuracy that the writing device provides. Furthermore, students and business professionals could have their hand-written notes transcribed on-the-fly to typed text. Using the tablet as a sketch-pad would be a popular feature and the reverse end of the writing device could be used as an eraser.
  • Publishing Rejuvenated. The timing is very good for publishers to find new revenue sources and Apple may be in the right place at the right time to help. Apple has the scale, payment and distribution platform to execute well. Apple’s Quattro Wireless acquisition and their advertising platform allows publishers to leverage their adverting base for ad serving on the iSlate and iPhone. Taking this one step further, Apple could eventually integrate location-aware pre-roll, post-roll and mid-roll advertising within their movie, TV and podcast content.
    • Free Past Editions of Magazines and Newspapers.
      To instill new behaviors for how people browse their favorite publications, Apple’s tablet device could offer access to free past editions of a select number of high profile magazines and newspapers. I expect a reading-friendly form factor with features that include Apple-elegant page turning, zoom, rotating display, “mark-as-read” feature and bookmarking.
    • Purchase, Annotate and Share Magazine and Newspaper Articles.
      The tablet could allow for annotations, highlighting or comments to be added as a removable layer. With a few strokes of your finger, you could share the document via email, Facebook, Twitter or other social network with or without your annotations. Similar to how Apple offered individual songs for sale at an affordable price, articles could be offered for sale individually, too. May the best written articles win. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say, “May the articles with the best headline, abstract, teaser photography and reviewer ratings win.” Purchases of articles, full editions and subscriptions would be made using iTunes.
    • Text-to-Speech Playback.
      Articles and/or books could be read to you. iPhone already has a similar feature found by accessing: Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver.  Select from a number of available male and female voices.
    • Embedded Interactive Videos.
      Magazines and newspapers could begin to include embedded videos for feature stories and advertising content.
    • eBook Teaser Content and Instant Downloads.
      Similar to Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, best sellers, new releases and text books could offer previews of their table of contents, prologue, introductory chapters and the index. Apple has the potential to ultimately become the low cost provider of e-textbooks that serve students from grade school to graduate school. eBook purchases would be made using iTunes.
  • iPhone Internet Tethering.
    Besides having built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking, the tablet could allow for iPhone Internet tethering. This would enable tablet users to connect to the Internet via their iPhone AT&T service plan.
  • Credit/Debit Card Swiping.
    Would we use the Apple tablet more often if it were easier to make online purchases or to accept payments? Perhaps a built-in card swipe feature is in the works? Square is getting a lot of press with their mobile payment solution.
  • iPhone Apps Compatibility, Synching and Multi-tasking.
    iPhone apps would wirelessly synchronize to the tablet and fully function in each of the following ways.

    • Run any app full-screen. Perfect for interactive games and entertainment apps.
    • Run apps in background. Ideal for music streaming Apps like Pandora.
    • Run several apps at one time. Great for tracking real-time sports statistics while chatting with friends in Facebook and monitoring your Ebay bids.

What features do you envision for the Apple tablet roadmap? Please leave your comments below.

Tim CascioTim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543. Please reach out to me if there’s any way I can help you through my network or otherwise. Your comments below are welcome.


iPhone Apps That Make the Grade. What Sets Them Apart From All the Rest?

An interview with Alex Ahlund, an expert iPhone App critic.

I have my share of beloved iPhone Apps that I use on a regular basis and our Apps development team has created mobile Apps for some of the world’s biggest brands. Still, I have the crazy notion to download hundreds of new top selling iPhone Apps to seek out best practices among them and came to the conclusion that, until I have time to do so, why not garner insight from someone whose company is dedicated to this very cause? Meet Alex Ahlund, CEO and founder of AppVee, a wildly popular iPhone App review website. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex and I’d like to share our conversation with you here.

Here are excerpts from our interview together:

Tim: How many Apps in total would you guess that your team has reviewed?

Alex: We have reviewed nearly 1,000 applications, most with videos.  To our knowledge, this makes us the largest iPhone application review resource in terms of in-depth reviews.  The most important thing is that we act as a filter for the consumer.  Sure, there are tens of thousands of applications out there, but we’ve seen them.  Most aren’t worth your time.  So these 1,000 apps are really what is worth looking at right now for your iPhone.

Tim: How’d you get into this line of work?

Alex: I previously owned a casual video game development company.  I had been in the games industry for a number of years, but when the 3G came out, I decided this was the first device I’d actually camp out to buy.  I was first in line on opening day and fell in love with the platform ever since.  I knew from day one that this was going to be huge and the number of Apps would overwhelm the consumer soon enough.  AppVee was created shortly after. In fact, we just celebrated our one year anniversary.

Tim: In what unique ways are Apps making money?

Alex: Since the launch of Firmware 3.0, which allows microtransactions, a lot of developers are starting to integrate these into their applications. Microtransactions are “bite-sized” purchasable pieces that add functionality to a product.  This could be new levels of a game, App upgrades, or anything that improves the core functionality of the App.  These microtransactions are along the lines of impulse buys because they are low-commitment, inexpensive purchases that happen instantly through the iTunes account – removing the barriers of taking out your credit card.  Developers are becoming clever with how they create their Apps to center around microtransactions – by offering the initial App for little or no cost. I see explosive growth in this segment as it could be used to buy items for your avatar, special abilities, levels, functionality, etc.  Microtransactions for MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games) is a gigantic market worldwide.

Tim: How is GPS technology being used in a creative way?

Alex: Our favorite use of GPS is the App, “Hey Where Are You?” This App allows you to request the location of another user and others can request your location. It’s all opt-in and user-verified. It’s great for tracking friends, family members and colleagues. It’s simple, clean and to the point.  As soon as you request another user’s location, they can hit a button and their GPS location is displayed on your device.

iPhone Apps

Tim: How are Apps using the new capability available with the recent release of iPhone OS 3.0?

Alex: BeeJive IM is a great example of the true potential of Firmware 3.0.  The latest upgrade offers push notification so that if someone IMs you, it will instantly pop up on your device.

iPhone Apps

Tim: I use AIM’s iPhone App which has this feature and I love it. How are AIM and BeeJive different?

Alex: AIM also has push functionality but the difference is BeeJive aggregates all IM providers (AIM, MSN, Yahoo, ICQ, etc.) into one client.

iPhone Apps

Tim: What do the best-rated Apps have in common?

Alex: Relatively inexpensive, mass market appeal and offers some sort of entertainment value.  The top selling Apps are often $0.99 pick-up and play games or toys.  In terms of what we feel are best-rated: high production values, attention to detail and true value offering Apps is what we gravitate towards.

Tim: Have you seen a correlation between how you rate Apps and their success overall?

Alex: Generally, our rating reflects the market, but not always.  A lot of times Apps are driven by their impulse feel – a very low price, a big brand name strapped onto it, etc. – in these instances, we give the real story. Whether our ratings actually influence units sold is a bit hard to tell.  We have some influence, but the iTunes App Store is king in terms of exposure – so the consumer may not have read our review.

Tim: What’s your all-time favorite App and why?

Alex: Its a toss up between Evernote and, when it comes to music, Pandora and Slacker. I use Evernote for my everyday note taking and tracking, while Pandora and Slacker are always on heavy rotation for their customized Internet streaming music.

iPhone Apps

Tim: What other Apps are must-haves?

Alex: “Read It Later” is great for storing online articles and sites to read later, even offline. “Cell Tracker” is our #1 pick for tracking our cell minutes and cost. “TweetDeck” is great as our Twitter client. A close runner up is “Tweetie.” And then “Doodle Jump” is our favorite for a quick game.

iPhone Apps

Tim: You’re now reviewing Android Apps as well. Any plans for reviews of Apps on other platforms such as BlackBerry? How do you compare Android and iPhone in general and from an Apps and potential point of view?

Alex: Yes, we own AndroidApps.com, where we review Android applications in a similar format. The Android platform has huge potential and I think, in time, it could surpass the iPhone. The problem right now is that the OS is only on a few devices.  This means the user base is still very small, especially compared to the iPhone.  The App potential is greater in Android because developers are able to take control of core functionality of the OS. You can create an App for practically anything on the device.  There is no “true” submittal process as you can download Android applications from anywhere.  This allows a lot of unique applications released without a lengthy approval process, but it also means applications are scattered and more garbage can slip through the cracks.  It has its benefit, but as of right now, iPhone is winning the app game.  In terms of other platforms, we considered Blackberry but the market just isn’t large enough for Apps to make it worthwhile.  We are always looking at new platforms though to consider.


Tim: Can you explain further what you mean by Android’s operating system allowing for core functionality control?

Alex: The iPhone SDK doesn’t allow touching the core functionality of the phone. For example, you can’t create a new Calling App to call people.  You can make an App that opens the iPhone Call App, but not directly make calls. Android is completely open – you can replace the Call App or any of the other original Apps. You have access to all the functions of the phone – very little is off-limits.  This allows for much more sophisticated applications.

Tim: Any predictions for where all of this is headed?

Alex: Its only going to get bigger. Every new iPhone release is met with huge fanfare – the base of installed users is growing rapidly and it shows little sign of slowing down.  I love that when I walk practically anywhere in the country, there’s always at least one iPhone pulled out in use.  More phones equals more Apps, which is a growing problem in terms of discovery and which AppVee.com tries to solve, but in the end, it’s better for everyone.  The future will be heavily integrated with smartphones and notably, iPhone – from purchasing to business interactions and casual meetups.

We can only imagine where our conversation will take us next year this time.

Thanks goes out to Alex for his time and the invaluable Apps review service he and his fine company, AppVee, provide. Be sure to check out their AppVee.com and AndroidApps.com websites. Don’t miss the AppVee YouTube channel where over 3 million video views have been shared by AppVee’s expert review staff. AppVee’s new iPhone App is now available – and free. Download to watch informative iPhone App video reviews right from your iPhone.

iPhone Apps

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Tim CascioTim Cascio is the author of the Mobile Marketing, Monetization and Methods blog, Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Mobile Visionary Roundtable at the Illinois Technology Association and Sr. Digital Strategist at Bader Rutter & Associates, an award-winning integrated marketing services agency that specializes in advertising, public relations, brand asset management, relationship marketing and digital solutions. Tim is @timcascio on Twitter and can be reached in the United States at 262-938-5543.

Please reach out to me if there’s any way I can help you through my network or otherwise. Your comments below are welcome.