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Top 10 ways your brand’s app can thrive in the iOS app ecosystem

(Tech News) With mobile app use on the rise, is your brand jumping in? Here are 10 ways to make sure your iOS app thrives.

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Your app and Apple’s App Store: Top 10 dos and don’ts

No matter the size of your brand, you may be considering creating or relaunching an app for Apple’s operating system to meet your consumers where they are. You know technology is important, and that app use continues to rise, in fact, Audiobooks CEO Sanjay Singhal points out that as of 2014, 86 percent of time spent on a smartphone is devoted to app use as mobile web browsing continues to fall.

Singhal notes, “Looking to cash in on the historically high popularity of apps, many companies are developing and launching apps with the hope of gaining valuable real estate on their customers’ screens and driving revenue.”

But there’s a catch – there are over a million apps already in Apple’s App Store, with over 75 million downloads, and Singhal opines that the competition for consumer mind share is fierce.

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Singhal offers the following tips to best position your app for success, in his own words:

1. DO make sure users can find your app.

Your app can’t make a splash if users don’t know about it, so create a keyword strategy that lets users easily find your app in the App Store or via search engines. Craft a compelling description of your app, highlighting the value it delivers to users so they’ll wonder how they ever lived without it.

2. DO link directly to your app in your Google AdWords campaign.

Google AdWords are a great way to reach millions of potential users, but it’s important to make sure you take full advantage of available site links. Add a link that takes users directly to your app download page. Make it as easy as possible for people to access your app.

3. DO use enticing screen shots.

Keep in mind that your app download page has to sell your app to potential users. It’s a marketing document, so you’ll need to position your app as fun and relevant to the user’s everyday life. Compelling screen shots that highlight the value your app delivers are essential to completing the sale.

4. DO update your app regularly and minimize permissions.

Keep your app fresh with regular updates, which drive additional downloads. The App Store doesn’t like stale apps, and updates indicate continuous improvement. Updates also offer an opportunity for users who had previously rated your app lower to leave a new higher rating and better review. Also make sure you require the bare minimum of permissions for the app. Asking users to share their personal data can scare them off and reduce downloads.

5. DO promote your app outside the App Store.

Some users will find your app via ad campaigns and searches, but you can expand your pool of potential downloaders with a robust promotion campaign. Place your app in directories. Generate buzz via blogs and online news websites. Issue press releases. The more people hear about your app, the better its chances of success.

6. Do minimize clicks with a direct path to the App Store.

When promoting your app on blogs, on your site, at online news outlets, in press releases and via other digital pathways, make sure you always include a clear path to the App Store download page. It’s never a good idea to make potential users search for a download opportunity – they might find a competitor’s app first.

7. DON’T use pay-per-download and pay-per-review app promotion schemes.

The App Store favors apps that generate organic growth and frowns on those that use paid download and review techniques. It’s widely known that App Store rankings include factors other than the number of downloads, and developers who pursue a pay-per-install strategy may find that their app lags in rankings or is rejected outright.

8. DON’T rush a release.

In the run-up to a launch, issues inevitably crop up in the development cycle that may affect the deadline. It’s important to stay on track, but it’s even more crucial to get the app functionality just right before releasing it. If you need more time to tweak your app, take it. It’s easier to push back a deadline than to deal with disgruntled users.

9. DON’T make users jump through hoops to gain functionalities.

Some apps lock up functionalities until a user performs a specific action or gains access via incentives. Incentive-based downloads and functionalities were a popular idea a few years ago, but the strategy has waned for a simple reason: it doesn’t work.

10. DON’T ignore negative reviews from users.

If a user leaves a negative review for your app, look at it as an opportunity to improve. It’s important to stay connected to your user base and to continuously improve your app. Carefully evaluate critiques, and if they have some validity, make the necessary changes.

“Apps are a terrific way to gain customer mind share and extend your product reach to wherever users go with their mobile devices,” Singhal concludes, “But the app market is a highly competitive space. By following these tips, you can dramatically improve your chances of success.”

The American Genius (AG) is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Tech News

Uber has secretly set up tip limits for drivers #classy

(TECH NEWS) Uber has had a shaky year, but their latest move proves that perhaps a new leader doesn’t mean a new culture.

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After frequent requests from drivers, Uber finally added a tipping option to their ride-sharing app this June. But, after a few months to try it out, riders and drivers alike have been disappointed to discover that Uber puts an upper limit on how much a rider can tip.

Lyft has allowed riders to tip for almost five years, but Lyft too has a tipping maximum. In many cases, Lyft and Uber drivers aren’t aware that there’s a limit to tips until they have a generous customer who finds that they can’t tip as much as they’d like.

Initially, these apps were seen as a convenient, tip-free alternative to traditional cab services. However, because fares are calculated in mileage and not time, tips can be especially appreciated when rides take a long time but have low mileage, such as in dense traffic, or when the driver has to make multiple stops. And of course, tipping is always a great way to say thanks to a driver who goes the extra mile (no pun intended) to help out the rider or make the ride especially pleasant.

Unfortunately, some riders have found that they can’t tip as much as they’d like. Uber told CNET that they placed a maximum on tips to help avoid “fat fingers” typos, such as when a customer means to type $10, but accidentally types $100 instead – a problem that could seemingly be solved by adding a secondary confirmation before withdrawing the payment.

Uber limits tips to 200 percent of the cost of the ride, or $100. Lyft also limits to 200 percent of the fare, but also blocks tips above $50. Of course, riders can always tip in cash – but not having to carry cash was one of the perks of ride-sharing apps in the first place.

Generally, drivers for Lyft get more tips than Uber drivers. That’s because Lyft riders receive a prompt to tip upon reaching their destination, whereas Uber drivers have to reopen the app and rate the driver before tipping. Since few Uber riders take the time to rate their driver, even fewer ever make it to the tip screen.

Granted, an extra big tip is a rare and precious thing. But it shouldn’t be up to the company to cap tips if riders feel compelled. Says Denise, a Los Angeles Uber driver, “Generosity should be something that you have no limit on.”

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Tech News

Tesla to build largest ‘virtual power grid’ on this round Earth

(TECH NEWS) Tesla teams up with Australia to create a virtual power grid, cutting energy costs and preventing blackouts.

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Tesla’s teaming up with Australia to provide an energy efficient solution to blackouts and price surges in the Southern Australian state.

Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherill announced a new partnership with Tesla that will provide solar panels and batteries to homes in the southern state. Since the area consistently struggles with adequately powering homes, Weatherill and Tesla hope to create a “virtual” power grid to stabilize electricity infrastructure.

In the extreme wilderness area of South Australia, nearly half of all power comes from wind farms. Last September, issues with wind farms caused a statewide blackout. Sure, tornadoes were to blame too, but backup generators also failed, so the whole system collapsed.

To address this issue, a combination of solar panels and Tesla batteries will eventually be installed in 50,000 homes in the state. Any surplus energy generated by the home’s solar panels can contribute back to the larger grid.

Excess energy can be routed back to a centrally controlled grid to provide energy to the rest of the state as needed.

For the initial test, 1,100 public housing properties will receive the batteries and solar panels free of cost, using the sale of electricity to cover expenses. An additional 24,000 more public houses will get added to the program as well.

If the trial runs succeed, private homes will be included by 2019. Eventually, the plan is to have batteries and panels installed in 50,000 homes, creating a 250MW Virtual Power Plant.

Participating homes will have 5kW solar panels and Tesla Powerwall 2 13.5kWh batteries installed, providing a more reliable source of power, and potentially lowering power bills by thirty percent.

Installation is proposed to take four years, and according to Tesla, the virtual power plant will have as much capacity as a coal plant or large gas turbine.

Funding comes from a $2 million Australian ($1.6 million USD) grant, and a loan from the state’s Renewable Technology Funds for $30 million Australian ($23.8 million USD).

While the plan seems well-meaning, Austalian Prime Minister Malcomlm Turnbull called Weatherill’s previous strategies as “reckless” experiments, leading to excessive energy costs. Partnering with Tesla may give Weatherill some street cred for the upcoming South Australian election, proving he has a game plan for curbing energy costs.

According to the South Australian government, the virtual power plant could provide around twenty percent of the state’s daily average energy requirements. Tesla plans to review all properties to determine if the homes can support their systems and be able to participate.

If you happen to live in South Australia and are reading this, you can register to participate in the program. Registration doesn’t guarantee participation, but if initial interest exceeds original estimates, the government may consider extending the program.

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Tech News

Intel to launch smart glasses we might actually want to wear

(TECH NEWS) Smart glasses have launched and died, to be reborn as warehouse worker tools, but Intel’s giving it a shot, and this design might actually stick.

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Even though Google Glasses and Snap Spectacles totally bombed, tech companies keep trying to make smart glasses a thing.

Intel’s plans to make a go of it, betting on a sort of “less is more” design concept. Previous smart glasses were bulky, didn’t conform to the wearer’s head, and frankly, looked kind of dorky. People also found them invasive, awkward to interact with, and were especially creeped out by the notion that smart glasses wearers could be filming them or taking their picture without consent.

Intel’s smart glasses, called Vaunt, are much more stripped down – no camera, no buttons, no distracting messages or images floating in your vision. Says Itai Vonshak, head of products for Intel’s New Devices Group, “We wanted to make sure somebody puts this on and gets value without any of the negative impact of technology on their head. Everything from the ground up is designed to make the technology disappear.”

Vaunt glasses weight only 50 grams and look totally unassuming, like a regular pair of glasses. They work with prescription or non-prescription lenses. They use a very low-power laser to project messages directly into your eye. In order to get that right, you have to have the distance between your pupils measured so that Vaunt glasses are custom made to fit your eyes.

Intel wants their smart glasses to be helpful, but not invasive. Notification messages only appear if you look slightly down. Looking straight ahead, the messages disappear. Messages can also be scrolled through or dismissed with small nods of the head.

What exactly will Vaunt glasses be used for? Intel is taking a “if you build it they will come” attitude towards this question. They’ll have an early access program to encourage developers to come up with apps and uses for the smart glasses. Some ideas include driving directions, reminders, and recipes.

Will a set of simplified Vaunt smart glasses win over the same consumers that have rejected the bells-and-whistles versions of the past? That remains to be seen, but crazier things have happened.

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