Twitter gets into the voice game

Select Twitter users on iOS will now be able to upload voice files in addition to traditional text, image and video files. This gives users more options to interact while getting into the voice space.

Interestingly, this could make it harder to moderate content, but I’m sure AI will fix all of that.

Why It’s Hot
It’s hot if the feature is based on user needs and it will be interesting to see how Twitter power users integrate voice in their tweets. But I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t catch fire.

espn brings a different kind of air to nba finals…

To promote its live stream of the recent NBA Finals, ESPN pulled an interesting stunt in Manhattan – Airdropping images with text connecting what people were doing with watching the finals.

Why It’s Hot

I’m not sure it is either real, or hot, but what’s seemingly interesting and clever is the fact that they utilized an overlooked iOS feature and used it to personalized their message on a one-to-one basis.


become a jedi master with AR…

Fortuitously timed, a genius developer has created an app that lets you appear to wield a Star Wars styled Light Saber using Augmented Reality. Per its creator:

“It’s an iPhone app that turns a rolled up piece of paper into a virtual lightsaber. I think the best thing about it is that it brings a special effect that has typically been reserved for advanced video editors to a mass audience.”

Why It’s Hot:
Augmented Reality has of course seen many new uses since becoming a widely available capability on iOS. Some are useful, and some just let you live out childhood fantasies like this. In either case, it’s amazing the digital layer of the world we are building on top of the physical one we have known for our entire lives.


Quartz News App and the Rise of Messaging as a UI…

IMG_0197 IMG_0202

The exclusively digital news outlet Quartz just announced its new iOS app last week, which delivers the news as they literally say “in a whole new way”.

Opening the app brings you into a familiar environment that looks like the iMessage user interface, and Quartz starts throwing out news leads, giving you the option to either go to the full story, learn more in the app, or move on to the next news story. They also use emojis and gifs just to make the experience a little more fun and creative.

Why It’s Hot

Quartz is just the latest app I’ve seen that uses messaging as the way you get whatever it is delivering. You may know Go Butler, which promises “anything you want, on demand” via a text exchange. There’s also Hyper, an app “concierge” that helps you book travel. Facebook keeps talking about (yet not releasing) its planned “M” virtual assistant. And of course, people are using WeChat in China to buy basically anything. By using messaging, they are making what would otherwise be active experiences and making them much more passive – requiring significantly less work. Especially as more people start using smartwatches, I’m interested to see how broad this starts to extend. Will this be a niche way of delivering a user experience, or will this become the way we transact digitally?

Apple’s First App for Android is Here!

No, hell didn’t just freeze over.  You probably won’t be seeing an iTunes app in the Google Play store anytime soon, either.

Apple has released an app called Move to iOS which helps eternally frustrated Android users (like me) make a smoother transition from Android to Apple. It seamlessly transfers your pics, messages, email accounts, contacts and bookmarks from your ire-inducing Samsung phone to your shiny new iPhone 6s.

MovetoIOS copy


Story on Engadget

Why It’s Hot

It is hot because while this seems like a really small reason to switch from Android to Apple, upgrading to a new phone of any kind usually means you lose some of your stuff. Apple seems to be looking at the minor pain points and addressing them in a really smart way.

Starbucks Touch is a Smartphone Case to Pay for Drinks with a Tap

Starbucks in Japan has teamed with the a Japanese-based clothing company called Uniform Experiment to create a case for the iPhone 6 that can make mobile payments by nothing more than a tap. The program is called Starbucks Touch.

iPhone-toting loyalists first purchase their Starbucks Touch case (really, it’s not free?). Then they install an accompanying mobile app. After entering their payment information, the case is ready to complete mobile payment at specially designed in-cafe kiosks.


Cases come in two designs:

  1. The primary, meant to look like the iconic Starbucks cup and sleeve
  2. The secondary, a colorful tiled mosaic


No word on if/when the case will make it to more countries (or devices).

Why It’s Hot

With Starbucks Touch, the company has found a way to monetize its brand loyalists even further. First, they’re charging for the case itself. Next, each case is emblazoned with the Starbucks logo… free advertisement that reinforces the brand to loyalists and promotes to those around. And finally, there’s the word-of-mouth effect that will likely ensue from explaining to others what this Starbucks phone case is really all about.

If Starbucks wants to reach a wider audience, perhaps they forgo the charge for a case and instead give it away for essentially the free advertising and proximity to customers. In a grander scheme, Starbucks Touch is away to reach a niche group of customers, and reinforce the brand with them in an even more intimate way. If Starbucks has figured out a way to make even more money off of them, more power to ’em.

Via DesignTaxi

MyHealthPal: Platform for Managing Long-Term Health Conditions

MyHealthPal is a new iOS app and analytics platform designed to help patients diagnosed with chronic health conditions manage their disease. Though the platform will initially focus on Parkinson’s Disease, it is scalable to other diseases should it prove successful.

MyHealthPal employs a clean dashboard interface to let sufferers (or their caregivers) manage and measure the effectiveness of his medication, track symptoms, log mood, diet, exercise and other metrics and their impact on his quality of life.


TechCrunch also reports., “The clever move with this startup is that is also allows users to donate their anonimized data in return for a share of the revenues that data generates to scientific research institutions and charities supporting research and care.” The app is HIPAA compliant.

Why It’s Hot

What’s most impressive about MyHealthPal isn’t its features, or that it even exists in this growing mHealth field. It’s that this was designed by an actual patient. This could help MyHealthPal flourish where others have failed, because it was designed by/for the end user. And the sale of health data makes this option financially viable in the way that a branded health tracker from a pharmaceutical company simply can never be.

Source: TechCrunch

Oku: Skin Sensor for the Beauty Obsessed

OKU is a skin-focused mHealth device designed to help users obsess over their skin. OKU first uses visible light to look beneath the surface of a user’s skin to evaluate skin health. Then by analyzing a variety of factors such as oil, firmness and moisture levels, the connected app scores the user’s skin and makes care, diet and lifestyle recommendations to improve skin health. Vanity has never been this easy!


The true value of OKU comes in its recommendation/tracking capabilities. In addition to evaluating your skin today, OKU is able to predict skin developments and helps users avert negative changes. Moreover, the device helps users set goals and track progress to a healthier face.

The device launches this spring for $300.

Why It’s Hot

OKU is a major test for the consumer demand for mHealth gadgetry. While many device-based mHealth solutions are for niche or specialty conditions, OKU is thinking bigger: everyone’s got a face that blemishes and ages. The mechanism and method also position OKU to lead a burgeoning market of devices with potential to build in multiple use cases, even diagnostic capabilities for advanced conditions. Though at $300, OKU certainly doesn’t price itself for immediate mass consumer penetration. Perhaps if skincare professionals latch on to this idea and recommend OKU for their patients, OKU might find advocates?

Source: Tech Crunch

Insurer Offers ‘Cash’ for Every Health Goal You Hit

Oscar Health Insurance is trying to improve patient outcomes the old fashioned way: cold hard cash. Running with the tagline, “a new kind of health insurance company,” Oscar is challenging the health insurance model by offering rewards to subscribers who achieve set lifestyle/health outcomes with a new wearable device they call “Misfit.”


The Misfit initiative makes it easy for anyone to participate. Oscar customers order their free Misfit wearable through the Oscar’s iOS or Android apps. Misfit syncs to their app automatically, eliminating the requirement for setup. Next, Oscar’s algorithm calculates what appropriate activity milestones should be set for individual users based on their health data. For each goal passed, users earn $1. Once they accrue $20, users can cash out their earnings in the form of an Amazon gift card.

Misfit may be an innovation to the health industry category, but it is hardly new to the world of insurance. Oscar co-founder Mario Schlosser explained the idea came to him by looking to other insurance categories, such as auto: “If I stay accident free, my car insurer will lower my rates,” says Mario Schlosser, “Why don’t we give these rewards to people when they stay healthy?”

Oscar is no stranger to cash reward programs either. The company previously offered customers $20 to get a flu shot at their local pharmacy. And though cash rewards might not work on everyone, Oscar found that customers were 2.5x more likely to get a flu shot with the reward system in-place.

Why It’s Hot

Misfit by Oscar Health Insurance is a disruptive program in a historically antiquated category. Ambitious, and certainly news-worthy we will see how successful the program becomes over time. Consumer health tracking technology offers insurers, healthcare providers and even pharmaceutical companies new opportunities to improve health outcomes and create meaningful shifts in behavior. And the more consumer healthcare data can be tied back to cost-savings and healthier patients, the sooner we’ll see more “Misfits” enter the marketplace.

Using Mood to Curate Museum Visits Tailored to Your Emotion State

With something as subjective as art, a viewer’s mood can make or break how (s)he engages with a given piece. But what if that experience ladders up to something that is negative overall? Perceptions and stigmas may brand you beyond that interaction.

Understanding this intricacy, Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum realized that it could curate tours of its collection based on users’ individual disposition. For example, if a visitor indicates they are “sad” within the app, a tour may be created to bypass violent images that might exacerbate that state. The app can also be used to show visitors more of what they “like” such as abstract pieces for people who seek “logic challenges” or calming landscapes for those searching for an escape.

in love


The app also allows users to create their own tours and crowdsource the “mood” of certain galleries to make the app smarter.

The app does raise a philosophical question, however: Does a museum’s classification of art by certain criteria limit how the art is perceived by visitors?  Consequently, does this hinder visits and prevent users from opening up to new experiences?  And what does an app like Mood mean for art that is meant to stir, upset, frustrate, challenge, or confuse the viewer?  Should that be avoided for the sake of “pleasantry” or encouraged for the sake of “growth?”

Why It’s Hot

Mood App is showing a new way that brands and businesses can “get ahead” of their customers and mitigate negative experiences. By helping visitors have better experiences, Stedelijk Museum is taking a more proactive role in shaping perceptions to keep people coming back. These strategies have applicability far beyond art with customer segments that prefer tailored and customized experiences.

Source: PSFK

What Bigger iPhone Screens Mean for App Developers

With the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus by Apple, developers are now in a mad dash to optimize their apps for the devices new larger screens. Apple’s ubiquity means that the trends follow their design cues first, even if Android competitors have long offered larger screens (sorry Samsung). So what do these new devices mean for the next era in apps?

1. Controls move to the bottom of the screen: Because of the added screen height, users would need to strain their thumbs to reach controls that were historically placed in the upper corner of apps.

2. Gestures replace buttons: Developers are now looking at gesture-based controls rather than static buttons, which offers designs that scale to screens of all sizes. Swipes and pulls may be more and more important going forward.

3. Split-screen apps proliferate: Traditionally smartphone apps display content in a single pane, while larger devices like tablets display content in two. With the added screen real estate, app developers are expected to begin incorporating more two-pane views within apps on smartphones.


Why It’s Hot

We often think of Apple as trailblazers with their devices, but it’s just as important to consider the implications for developers and businesses that create third-party devices when launching product changes. Apple’s success has come through cultivating a vibrant community of developers and third-party suppliers who re-engineer their products to stay in line with Apple’s latest trends. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus offer new opportunities to the smartphone app market and a lot of potential for shifting how we think of mobile experiences going forward.

Source: FastCompany

Android (Finally) Overtakes iOS in Mobile Ad Traffic… and Spend

Google’s Android mobile platform has made major progress in its conquest against Apple’s iOS. According to a new report by Opera Mediaworks, Android topped Apple to become #1 in mobile ad traffic and monetization globally during Q1 2014.



Why It’s Hot

The Opera Mediaworks findings are significant for a couple reasons.  First, until this point Android has not been able to overcome Apple’s lead on advertising–despite the fact that Android has been considered the overall mobile OS leader in terms of market share.  In effect, this report is a sign of “legitimacy” for the Android platform among marketers.  It stands against to the notion that Android is somehow “inferior” to iOS in terms of mobile advertising in an unprecedented way.  Factors like user income, time spent on device and even share of web traffic are not necessarily dictating bias or preference towards iOS.  Instead, the report would suggest that marketers are finally following the audience to make more  “rational” mobile targeting decisions–globally.

It’s important to note though that while this report discusses the mobile operating system war at aggregate (globally), results vary greatly by individual market. Therefore when creating mobile engagement plans, marketers should still rely heavily on the technology profile of each given target rather than following this new trend alone. However, these results do suggest a potential change in attitude and bias among marketers may be forthcoming to give Android a fairer shot in mobile advertising.

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