Titk-Tok to expand into live-streaming and educational content

TikTok is looking to expand into more live broadcasts and educational content as the social video app diversifies away from the dance and music videos that have fueled its rapid growth in the past two years.

According to Tiki’s Tok, people are spending more time watching videos on the app during the pandemic, while creators are broadening the range of content they share to include sports, gaming, cooking, fashion and beauty videos.

Diversifying its content slate could help TikTok extend its audience beyond the 16-to-24 demographic that makes up 43% of its user base and appeal to brands that want to reach consumers with greater spending power. Live video has certain advantages in creating a sense of immediacy among viewers, while educational content can help to cultivate the types of enthusiasts that are important for niche marketing. Both are areas that have experienced a sharp uptick in interest due to the coronavirus pandemic, as people spend more time on social media to stay entertained and informed while outdoor activities are restricted.

While TikTok could be gunning for more older users over the long term, its predominantly young core users are a large draw for advertisers that struggle to reach those groups elsewhere. TikTok’s expanded range of programming may become a bigger threat to rivals like YouTube and Instagram that also are dominant among younger audiences. U.S. children ages 4 to 15 spend an average of 82 minutes a day on TikTok — twice as much as last year — compared with 86 minutes for YouTube and 50 minutes for Instagram, per a recent study by digital safety app maker Qustodio.

Why it’s hot: It’ll be interesting to see if Tik-Tok can expand to attract older audiences while keeping its cool factor.


COVID-19 pandemic pushing sales of voice control devices

Sales of voice control devices are expected to experience a boom in growth, thanks to people being locked down and working from home. This is also expected to fuel growth in the broader ecosystem of smart home devices – as instructions to minimize contact with objects that haven’t been disinfected, make things like connected light switches, thermostats and door locks more appealing than ever.

Why It’s Hot:  A critical mass of device penetration and usage will undoubtedly make this a more meaningful platform for brands and marketers to connect and engage with consumers.

With so many millions of people working from home, the value of voice control during the pandemic will ensure that this year, voice control device shipments will grow globally by close to 30% over 2019–despite the key China market being impacted during the first quarter of 2020, according to global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.

Woman Preparing Meal At Home Asking Digital Assistant Question

Last year, 141 million voice control smart home devices shipped worldwide, the firm said. Heeding the advice to minimize COVID-19 transmission from shared surfaces, even within a home, will help cement the benefits of smart home voice control for millions of consumers, ABI Research said.

“A smarter home can be a safer home,” said Jonathan Collins, ABI research director, in a statement. “Key among the recommendations regarding COVID-19 protection in the home is to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas,” such as tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, and sinks.

Voice has already made significant inroads into the smart home space, Collins said. Using voice control means people can avoid commonly touched surfaces around the home from smartphones, to TV remotes, light switches, thermostats, door handles, and more. Voice can also be leveraged for online shopping and information gathering, he said.

When used in conjunction with other smart home devices, voice brings greater benefits, Collins said.

“Voice can be leveraged to control and monitor smart locks to enable deliveries to be placed in the home or another secure location directly or monitored securely on the doorstep until the resident can bring them in,” he said.

Similarly, smart doorbells/video cameras can also ensure deliveries are received securely without the need for face-to-face interaction or exposure, he added. “Such delivery capabilities are especially valuable for those already in home quarantine or for those receiving home testing kits,” Collins said.

He believes that over the long term, “voice control will continue to be the Trojan horse of smart home adoption.” Right now, the pandemic is part of the additional motivation and incentive for voice control in the home to help drive awareness and adoption for a range of additional smart home devices and applications, Collins said.

“Greater emphasis and understanding, and above all, a change of habit and experience in moving away from physical actuation toward using voice in the home will support greater smart home expansion throughout individual homes,” he said. “A greater emphasis on online shopping and delivery will also drive smart home device adoption to ensure those deliveries are securely delivered.”

The legacy of COVID-19 will be that the precautions being taken now will continue for millions of people who are bringing new routines into their daily lives in and around their homes and will for a long time to come, Collins said.

“Smart home vendors and system providers can certainly emphasize the role of voice and other smart home implementations to improve the day-to-day routines within a home and the ability to minimize contact with shared surfaces, as well as securing and automating home deliveries.”

Additionally, he said there is value in integrating smart home monitoring and remote health monitoring with a range of features, such as collecting personal health data points like temperature, activity, and heart rate, alongside environmental data such as air quality and occupancy. This can “help in the wider response and engagement for smart city health management,” Collins said.

Source: TechRepublic

Live-streaming event helps Chinese cosmetics chain achieve 200% growth

Lin Qingxuan is a Chinese cosmetics company with more 300 retail stores and over 2,000 employees. When forced to close 40% of its stores during the coronavirus crisis, the company acted quickly to leverage WeChat and TaoBao (owned by Alibaba, it’s the world’s biggest e-commerce site) to engage with its customers virtually.

The store sent coupons to their customers and redeployed their 100+ beauty advisors from the closed stores into online influencers. On February 14th, the store launched a large-scale live stream shopping event and were able to engage with 60,000 customers live (they currently have 6 million followers). The sales from one shopping advisor in two hours equaled that of four retail stores.

From “online clubbing sessions” to streamed music festivals, many Chinese brands turned to live streaming during this crisis. It’ll be interesting to see how this industry will grow in the US.



INSIGHTS | Brands turn to livestreaming as China stays home

Interesting to note that despite having a pretty big following and social presence online, Sephora has canceled all its North American in-store classes and services as of 3/12.

Why it’s hot: This crisis will likely force brands to be braver and creative and, ultimately, expedite their digital transformation.

Our Platform Isn’t Secure, So Give Us Your Credit Card Number

Facebook is launch[ed] a new payments system, appropriately named Facebook Pay. It will be available across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and it’s designed to facilitate payments across Facebook’s popular social networks and apps. You’ll be able to use Facebook Pay to send money to friends, shop for goods, or even donate to fundraisers. The service will be separate from Facebook’s new Calibra wallet and the Libra network, and it’s “built on existing financial infrastructure and partnerships,” according to the company.

Facebook is planning to start rolling out Facebook Pay on Messenger and Facebook in the US this week. It will initially be available for fundraisers, person-to-person payments, event tickets, in-game purchases, and some purchases from pages and businesses that operate on Facebook’s Marketplace. “Over time, we plan to bring Facebook Pay to more people and places, including for use across Instagram and WhatsApp,” explains Deborah Liu, Facebook’s vice president of marketplace and commerce.

Facebook Pay will be available in the settings section of the Facebook or Messenger apps, and it will support most debit and credit cards and PayPal. Facebook is using Stripe, PayPal, and others to process these payments.

Facebook isn’t revealing exactly when this payment system will be available across all of its apps, nor when it will launch internationally. Facebook Pay comes just weeks after a large number of payment companies dropped out of Facebook’s Libra project. PayPal, which is supporting Facebook Pay, was one of the first companies to distance itself from the Libra Association, the nonprofit organization that oversees the creation of the cryptocurrency and its rollout.

Every major US payment processor has now exited the association, and it’s left Facebook with the daunting task of convincing governments that Libra is an option, just when trust in Facebook is at an all-time low. That’s not stopping Facebook from launching a more traditional payment system today, though.

“Facebook Pay is part of our ongoing work to make commerce more convenient, accessible and secure for people on our apps,” says Liu. “We’ll continue to develop Facebook Pay and look for ways to make it even more valuable for people on our apps.”

Why it’s hot: With the massive lack of trust about its data privacy practices and approach to how its platform is used and can be manipulated, it’s a strange time to ask for people to trust you with their credit card information. Not to mention the plethora of ways to execute digital payments (Apple pay, Samsung pay, Venmo, Paypal, etc.) that exist.

Would you trust Facebook pay with your credit card info?

Will Facebook pay go the way of Snapcash?

Source: The Verge

chicken wars are over, yet another fast food war rages on…

Just as we were emerging from the US fast food Chicken Wars, another battle is now raging in the ongoing war between McDonald’s and Burger King. You probably remember the much-celebrated Whopper Detour of 2018. Well, Burger King Germany now brings you “Escape the Clown”. To coincide with the movie IT 2’s release, Burger King placed an ad in a movie magazine found in McDonald’s stores. People could scan the ad through the Burger King app to activate an AR experience leading to a coupon for a one-cent Whopper at a nearby BK. The coupon was only good for a finite amount of time, so customers would have to decide quickly.

Why it’s hot:

Sometimes you play nice, sometimes you can make a savage move. Placing an ad in a magazine at McDonald’s, and hijacking customers, when they’re literally at the point of sale, is about as savage as it gets in marketing. The fact they concealed it with AR is nice, but I’m not sure it was altogether necessary. And I’m not sure how anyone would know to look in the magazine and scan the ad before they would have already ordered a Big Mac. Either way, it’s certainly bold. Even if people don’t go to buy a Whopper, at least they could have had a brand experience that might affect their next fast-food dining decision. The kind of move that can leave an impression, and also land your app on someones phone (not to be lost here).


Orwellabama? Crimson Tide Track Locations to Keep Students at Game

Coach Nick Saban gets peeved at students leaving routs early. An app ties sticking around to playoff tickets, but also prompts concern from students and privacy watchdogs.

The Alabama football coach, has long been peeved that the student section at Bryant-Denny Stadium empties early. So this season, the university is rewarding students who attend games — and stay until the fourth quarter — with an alluring prize: improved access to tickets to the SEC championship game and to the College Football Playoff semifinals and championship game, which Alabama is trying to reach for the fifth consecutive season.

But to do this, Alabama is taking an extraordinary, Orwellian step: using location-tracking technology from students’ phones to see who skips out and who stays. “It’s kind of like Big Brother,” said Allison Isidore, a graduate student in religious studies from Montclair, N.J.

It also seems inevitable in an age when tech behemoths like Facebook, Google and Amazon harvest data from phones, knowing where users walk, what they watch and how they shop. Alabama isn’t the only college tapping into student data; the University of North Carolina uses location-tracking technology to see whether its football players and other athletes are in class.

Greg Byrne, Alabama’s athletic director, said privacy concerns rarely came up when the program was being discussed with other departments and student groups. Students who download the Tide Loyalty Points app will be tracked only inside the stadium, he said, and they can close the app — or delete it — once they leave the stadium. “If anybody has a phone, unless you’re in airplane mode or have it off, the cellular companies know where you are,” he said.

But Adam Schwartz, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy watchdog, said it was “very alarming” that a public university — an arm of the government — was tracking its students’ whereabouts.

“Why should packing the stadium in the fourth quarter be the last time the government wants to know where students are?” Schwartz said, adding that it was “inappropriate” to offer an incentive for students to give up their privacy. “A public university is a teacher, telling students what is proper in a democratic society.”

The creator of the app, FanMaker, runs apps for 40 colleges, including Clemson, Louisiana State and Southern California, which typically reward fans with gifts like T-shirts. The app it created for Alabama is the only one that tracks the locations of its students. That Alabama would want it is an example of how even a powerhouse program like the Crimson Tide is not sheltered from college football’s decline in attendance, which sank to a 22-year low last season.

The Tide Loyalty Points program works like this: Students, who typically pay about $10 for home tickets, download the app and earn 100 points for attending a home game and an additional 250 for staying until the fourth quarter. Those points augment ones they garner mostly from progress they have made toward their degrees — 100 points per credit hour. (A regular load would be 15 credits per semester, or 1,500 points.)

The students themselves had no shortage of proposed solutions.

“Sell beer; that would keep us here,” said Harrison Powell, a sophomore engineering major from Naples, Fla.

“Don’t schedule cupcakes,” said Garrett Foster, a senior management major from Birmingham, referring to Alabama’s ritually soft non-conference home schedule, which this year includes Western Carolina, Southern Mississippi and New Mexico State. (Byrne has set about beefing it up, scheduling home-and-home series with Texas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Notre Dame, but those don’t start until 2022.)

In the meantime, there is also time for students to solve their own problems, which is, after all, the point of going to college. An Alabama official figured it would not be long before pledges are conscripted to hold caches of phones until the fourth quarter so their fraternity brothers could leave early.

“Without a doubt,” said Wolf, the student from Philadelphia. “I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s the first game. There will be workarounds for sure.”

As for whether the app, with its privacy concerns, early bugs and potential loopholes, will do its job well enough to please Saban was not a subject he was willing to entertain as the sun began to set on Saturday. He was looking ahead to the next opponent: South Carolina.


Why It’s Hot:  

Another example of a brand/institution using gamification to influence behavior, this takes it a step further – pushing towards the edge of the privacy conversation, and perhaps leading us all to consider what might be an acceptable “exchange rate” for personal information.

live someone else’s story with unrd…

In a world that’s exploded with media channels, we have many ways to tell or experience a story in 2019. Even many immersive ways. But a new app called unrd has added a fresh one to the mix.

The app allows you to choose from a number of characters, and instead of just reading a story, or watching a video or film, your phone essentially becomes that characters phone, and you experience their story as if it was happening to you.

Per its website, unrd bills itself as “real-time fiction”, and claims it allows you to “live someone else’s life and receive messages, videos, photos and audio messages – and even watch them LIVE on video.”

Why it’s hot:

In a way, we’re all already “experiencing” each others lives through social media and other messages on our phones. But while our friends lives might or might not be interesting, it’s nothing like “becoming” one of them in a crazy situation, such as “You have the phone of a missing girl. Amy Morris disappears after a night out with friends.Over 7 days receive texts, photos and video messages and discover the truth behind her disappearance.” It’s interesting how unrd has not only built a new storytelling platform, but also one that seemingly builds off our proclivity for following other peoples “stories” on our phones.


barclay’s saves you from yourself…

Just a few weeks ago, Barclay’s became the first big bank to give its customers unexpected control over their spending. Via Barclay’s app, you can now “switch off” your debit card so that it can’t be used for five specific types of purchases – gambling, “premium-rate websites and phone lines”, restaurants/pubs/bars, gas, and groceries. Once a type of purchase is switched off, any transaction you try with your card at the relevant type of retailer or business will be automatically declined. The idea is to try and help people manage their spending impulses, and is aimed particularly at those with mental health issues or addictions. But, it can also be used to protect yourself from others trying to make fraudulent charges, if you’re worried about that. Barclay’s says it will do the same for credit cards in the near future.

Why It’s Hot: 

It’s a bold move for a bank to offer its customers a way to not spend their own money, but it’s clearly aimed at helping people. Unexpected, and a great example of putting people over profits and thinking about the customer experience beyond just transacting with the bank itself. It’s only a halfway house, given that the feature is completely within each person’s control. But even the cue of having your card declined and having to go into the app to turn whatever type of purchase back on would likely make someone who can’t help themselves think twice.


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.


FDA’s Digital Health Innovation Action Plan Targets Software – Not Hardware – For Regulatory Approval

A few weeks ago I posted an article that spoke to the value connected medicine dispensing could bring to healthcare.

What I neglected to mention is the plethora of HIPAA hurdles that the healthcare industry faces when it begins collecting patient-specific healthcare data on mobile devices such as phones, tablets or wearables.

Thankfully there may be a solution on the horizon that significantly circumvents this challenge.

In the past, if a client were to build an app that collected patient-specific medical data, the entire phone would then be considered a “medical device.” The challenge with this lies in the relative inability of a healthcare company to effectively to manage HIPAA compliance on a device they rarely have contact with.

However, the FDA’s new Digital Health Innovation Action Plan is looking at ways to view the software as the components of a tech solution that needs to be regulated. This effectively paves the way for healthcare companies and the companies to more deeply integrate mobile technology with healthcare.

As part of the plan, the FDA is seeking 9 that meet the following criteria for its pilot initiative;

  • Business is developing or planning to develop tools that meet the FDA’s definition of a device — one intended to be used to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent a disease;
  • Company has an existing track record in developing, testing, and maintaining software products use key performance indicators for quality control;
  • Must agree to provide access to performance measures during the pilot
  • Collect real-world post-market performance data and provide it to the FDA;
  • Availability for consultations and site visits from FDA officials
  • Provide quality management system information

So who did the FDA deem worthy this past week from the pool of over 100 applicants?

  • Apple
  • Fitbit
  • Verily (the health unit of Google parent Alphabet)
  • Samsung
  • Roche
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Pear Therapeutics
  • Tidepool
  • Phosphorus.

“We need to modernize our regulatory framework so that it matches the kind of innovation we’re being asked to evaluate, and helps foster beneficial technology while ensuring that consumers have access to high-quality, safe and effective digital health devices,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “These pilot participants will help the agency shape a better and agiler approach toward digital health technology that focuses on the software developer rather than an individual product.”

The end goal of the program is to develop a regulatory framework for software as a medical device so that companies with established, tried and tested quality assurance protocols would be able to update their products faster.

Why It’s Hot:

in the past, mobile devices such as wearables, phone or tablets that collected patient data weren’t HIPAA compliant. This new FDA initiative opens up the potential to build technology that makes these devices HIPAA compliant opening up vast new opportunities for the healthcare industry.

Condoms or IUD? Ask Tia…

Ask Tia is an iOS app designed to assist and inform women about reproductive and sexual health. Through personal, private text-based conversations, users can find the best birth control, get answers to sexual health questions, find doctors, and track periods and symptoms. It’s the first product from Tia, a company “for millennials by millennials” that aims to help women make informed healthcare decisions.


Building a trusting relationship with an app isn’t easy. Tia has prioritized personalizing the information for each user. Even a simple question about missing a birth control pill has several factors (type of pill, where in your cycle, etc.), which is why Tia’s guiding questions and personalized assessments so much more valuable than, say, a Google search.

“Our goal is to expand Tia to be your comprehensive go-to women’s health assistant for all of your health care information needs,” says Witte, Tia’s co-founder and CEO.


Why It’s Hot
Sexual health support made accessible through behavioral insight? Yes please.

Monkeys in Magenta

After seven years, the digital band, Gorillaz, are releasing a new album, and as part of their promotion, a new app is encouraging people to find the color magenta to unlock unique content.

Deutsche Telekom has created the Lenz app that will unlock new content for users whenever they hover it over something magenta — the brand’s corporate color.

The brand has teamed up with the virtual band, Gorillaz, to launch the Lenz app, which was created by Saatchi & Saatchi for the Deutsche Telekom music and lifestyle platform, Electronic Beats. With the new app, when a user finds something magenta (it could be a t-shirt, a flower or anyting that matches the Pantone range), they can hold their phone over it, to reveal new content from Gorillaz, including the first ever “live” interview with the band using motion capture and composition technology, and exclusive clips from the band’s new album “Humanz,” dropping on April 28. The app uses Chroma Keying technology to use the color to unlock the content.


Why It’s Hot

This is a really cool activation. It is great positioning for Deutsche Telekom because it’s not overly intrusive or brand-heavy. And Gorillaz of course gain additional buzz around their upcoming album. I think this is a great example of a brand involving itself in a moment without trying to take it over.

bye bye brick & mortar banks

When’s the last time you opened up a bank account? Whether it was applying online or in-person at a bank retail, the process involved ton of paperwork and ID authentications via your driver license, passport, social security card, etc. Most often, we had to visit our nearest bank to get faster services – instead of waiting on the phone with a customer service representative, speaking to my bank rep always expedited my checks and debit cards. But now that most service features are automated by our apps, will we still need brick and mortar banks?

Banking startups don’t think so. The new era of banking is mobile-first/mobile-only – Starling Bank UK launched without a single brick and mortar location. You still have to apply online but upon approval of your account, which involves things like photographing your passport or driving license via the app, you are issued a Starling Bank MasterCard debit card that can be used in the U.K. and abroad.

Why it’s hot:

The banks allows you to :

  • view your current account activity in real time, something most legacy banks fail or fall over trying to do. This takes the form of push notifications and the “Starling Pulse,” a real-time feed that displays all your account activity.
  • secure the app using biometric identification.  In addition to being asked to provide a 6-10 digit passcode, you are asked to record a short video message of you reading out a specific phrase. If you find your fat thumb making passcode mistakes and locking you out, you can voice open the bank app.

Android Instant Apps Made Available for Testing

Generally, to use an app on a mobile device, you first need to download and install it. With Instant Apps, an app can run right away — similar to loading a web page — without having to go through the installation process.

Google says that it has been working with a small number of developers to test the user and developer experience over the last few months. The result is a limited test that includes apps from BuzzFeed, Wish, Periscope and Viki. Google plan to roll-out instant apps to more developers once they have collected enough feedback from their current partners.


Why It’s Hot:

“Instant Apps is really about re-thinking where apps are going,” saysGoogle VP of Engineering for Android Dave Burke “Web pages are ephemeral. They appear, you use them, and never think about them again.” Installing apps, on the other hand, comes with a lot of friction and users often only want to perform a single action or get a specific piece of information (say pay for parking with an app in a city you don’t often travel to). Ideally, Instant Apps gives you the speed of a light web page with all of the benefits of a native app.

Optimizing Store Pages on the App Stores

Beyond ASO: The App Store Marketing Guidebook

This article does a great job at showing the importance of different elements on an app’s store page.

It goes into the differences between the two store.

Shows different layout options that change what content ends up above the fold.

And goes into detailed and sometimes surprising stats.

“60% of visitors decide to install or leave without ever engaging with the page. In other words,  these visitors are only exposed to the creative that appears “above the fold”, and their first and only action is either tapping the install button or leaving the page altogether.”


Why it’s Hot:

App Store Optimization (ASO) is a crucial part for an app’s success. We need to keep all these things in mind when laying out the store pages on the app store.

Welcome to the Internet of YOUR Things…

[image credit: RealityEditor.org]

In recent years, the connection between people and objects has become the “next frontier” of digital technology. The so-called “Internet of Things” has already produced connected devices like the Nest products, and we’ve seen Google’s Project Soli working on how to control wearable devices using gestures. But yesterday, I came across another way to accomplish the task of connecting and controlling all of your technology – MIT’s “Reality Editor” allows you to create connections between your own “things”, and control them using just an app on your phone. It basically creates a private network of things, the functions of which you can define and control, and between which you can create relationships. Some of the examples they provide are:

  • Instead of having to get out of bed to turn off a light using a switch next to your bedroom door, connect an object on your bedstand to the light so that when you turn it the light goes off
  • Connect your bed to your car’s heat/air conditioning so that in the winter,  you can turn on the heat when you get up so that your car is warm when you’re ready to drive to work

What’s still a little unclear is how the objects actually communicate, but it appears you need a digital “fingerprint” attached to each in order to actually manipulate and connect them, and that there needs to be an arduino or something else involved. They say you need to create “Hybrid Objects” to actually realize the benefit.

REALITY EDITOR from Fluid Interfaces on Vimeo.

Why It’s Hot

What sets Reality Editor apart is the ability to control all of your things yourself, without needing multiple products ultimately controlled by the companies that produce them (to whom you’re also giving data and private information, even images). It seems to be a smarter way to achieve the same control over your stuff that the “Internet of Things” promises. And what’s really cool is it’s not just a concept – it’s actually in the app store now, so you can start doing it today.

BlaBlaCar’s Chattiness Index

Paris-based BlaBlaCar is a popular car-sharing service in Europe, but not well known or established elsewhere. What makes them interesting is that during sign-up they have a “chattiness” index that asks the user how chatty they are in a car. They are either “blah,” “blah blah,” or “blah, blah, blah.” They can also select their fellow riders based on whether they smoke or what music they listen to. What is interesting and ironic in many ways is that the backlash to “Uber” in France has been tremendous. Unlike Uber, BlaBlaCar does not have contract workers or employed drivers, but is more a carpooling app. Drivers simply charge their fellow riders a small fee for gas and drop them off along the way to their final destination. And because it is more ridesharing that a car service, it does not have to deal with the regulatory hurdles that have challenged Uber in Europe. The company is valued at $1.6B, making it the only startup in France estimated at more than $1B.

Why It’s Hot

While Uber and other services may not be able to gain an enduring foothold in Europe, home-made solutions such as BlaBlaCar may be successful. It shows the universal need to find alternate solutions from getting from point A to point B.


Facebook Introduces Notify, a News App Designed to Make Your Other Notifications Obsolete

On Wednesday, Facebook released an app for Apple’s iPhones and iPads called Notify, which will alert users with information from media companies including CNN, The Weather Channel, Fox Sports and Fandango. Its notifications are similar to the ones many people already receive from the media companies’ own mobile apps, but they are connected to people’s Facebook accounts, meaning Facebook gets more information about its users’ media consumption habits and interests.

The app asks users to pick at least three stations from which to receive notifications, using “stations” to refer to its media partners, which are organized into catergories including news, local, sports, business, entertainment, politics, science and technology, celebrity and gossip, music and audio, fashion and beauty, gaming, health, food and drink, and shopping and deals.

While Notify could reduce the need for people to install publishers’ own apps or enable notifications from those apps, moreover, it could also help publishers get their content in front of those people since publishers’ own apps typically aren’t as popular or widely used as apps like Facebook’s. People spend 84% of their time on phones with just five apps, excluding apps that come preinstalled, such as mail and calendar apps, according to Forrester. So piggybacking on Facebook’s popularity could be a more successful way for publishers to gain share of that attention.


Why It’s Hot

While there are no immediate plans to allow advertising through this app, it could help publishers get their content out in front of more people by piggybacking off of Facebook’s popularity and advertising opportunities will likely follow.


Nike Launches “Snow Day” Campaign

Nike’s ahead of the game with their first winter campaign of the year to promote their Hyperwarm baselayer apparel, says Adweek. As you can see below, the video spot to kick of this campaign is everything we expect from Nike. It’s packed with athletes, the music is on-point, it’s funny and it makes you want to run out to your nearest retailer, buy some gear and get out there to play your sport of choice. Here is the video for your viewing pleasure:

What’s special about this campaign though is, surprisingly, some of the ad-placements. Not only is Nike kicking off this campaign with another strong video, but they’re also leveraging new, hyper-relevant in-app ads to promote the new clothing line. According to the New York Times, Nike has ad placements within the Weather Channel App that targets specific workout gear to users depending on the weather in their area and, once clicked, directs those users directly to the Nike store where they can purchase these items on either desktop or mobile.

Why It’s Hot

The beauty of this campaign truly lies in the details as this is a great example of a brand creating a strong campaign from top to bottom. It’s both entertaining and convenient for consumers to engage with the brand and it targets consumers to purchase it’s products when they’re in the right mindset.

The Most Popular Apps In America

According to a report from comScore, below are the most popular mobile applications in the United States.
















Versus last year (2014)


(source: Atlas)

Why It’s Hot:

  • Google and Facebook dominate: the top 7 of 8 apps used are owned by Google or Facebook. The one outlier being Pandora, a music streaming service.
  • No Games: there are no games making the list as a top 25 used application. This could be due to the amount of games available which doesn’t allow for one game to dominate usage.
  • Microsoft is absent: Currently Microsoft is not creating application appealing enough for it to rank in the top 25. Skype was on the 2014 list but has since fallen off.
  • YouTube is quite popular: people love video and the one channel that does it best ranks high in popularity.


Professional Connections Just a Swipe Away…


The Tinderization of everything has apparently begun, and it’s sweeping the digital world.

A new app called Switch now lets you post a resume card, browse job postings, and swipe right for anything that looks interesting.


If the job poster likes what he or she sees on your truncated resume, they can accept your interest, and you are both connected for a private conversation.


Why It’s Hot

Every few years, someone reinvents the job hunting process. First it was Monster, then it was LinkedIn, maybe now it’s time for (a) Switch. This would seem to make the whole process more efficient, mobile-friendly, and human. Although as with any website or app, it’s contingent upon building a critical mass of users, it seems like a way to match employers and potential employees that fits with the times.

Turn your TV into a Smart Touch Display

If you grew up when I did, then the first TV you probably had at home was a major piece of furniture or probably sat deep in an enormous entertainment center that rivaled the family car in size and weight.

Innovations on the good ol’ family television have moved from fat to flat, to 3D to 4K to curved panel over the years. But what all of those evolutions have shared are a heightened price tag for a whole new device. An Indiegogo campaign that launched yesterday is hoping to bring some crazy new functionality to your existing TV by way of a $99 device that adds touch controls and other smart features to your TV.

The Touchjet WAVE allows you to control your television with your finger, a stylus or your smartphone, while also letting you download a host of apps directly to your TV.

<iframe width=”854″ height=”480″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/ECVuW3bKy8E” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

TechCrunch met up with the team from Touchjet to try out the device, and while it was just a prototype, it was clear that the WAVE had a ton of potential uses for users looking to upgrade their existing TVs.

The device works much like those novelty laser keyboards in that it pretty simply puts a laser overlay on your TV that matches your touch input to the onscreen experience.

Why Its Hot:
OK I get the functionality, but “why?” It’s clear that Touchjet isn’t aiming for everyone with its touch capability but it definitely also sees touch input as the feature that really sets it apart.

This feature isn’t going to be the new way you control your TV (I’d definitely still rather be on the couch), but it does seem like a fun way to play Fruit Ninja with the family or a cool method of flipping through a presentation at work.

As a marketer, I would love to see this technology advancing to enable us to potentially ‘swipe’ past ads that aren’t relevant – much like we can skip music tracks on Pandora, or people on tinder (is that how it works single people?).

The other thing to remember is that the pre-order price $99 isn’t just for touch capability, you’re also buying an Android-based hard drive that upgrades your TV and allows a host of apps that you can control from your smartphone, as well.

At the time of writing (Thursday 8/13), the WAVE had just blown past its $100K 1st day goal.

<div style=’text-align:center’><script type=’text/javascript’ src=’http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=281&width=480&height=401&playList=519006824′></script><br/></div>


New ‘Brain Training’ App Could Help People With Schizophrenia

A “brain training” iPad game developed in Britain may improve the memory of patients with schizophrenia, helping them in their daily lives at home and at work.

Scientists at Cambridge University said tests on a small number of patients who played the game over four weeks found they had improvements in memory and learning.

The game, “Wizard”, is designed to help so-called episodic memory — the type of memory needed to remember where you left your keys several hours ago, or to remember a few hours later where you parked your car in a multi-storey car park. Wizard requires players to remember the location of patterns in space correctly, rewarding their success with additional in-game activities.

Wizard Brain Training App.

Why it’s hot:
Computer-assisted training and different kinds of technological devices are increasingly being used as adjunct therapy or treatment for various illnesses and there is evidence that it has helped people with schizophrenia overcome some of their symptoms, with better outcomes in their daily lives. The patients involved in this study said they enjoyed the game and were motivated to play it across the eight hours of cognitive training.

This is important since lack of motivation is a common feature of schizophrenia. It’s interesting because drugs haven’t had a lot of success in getting similar results and this may change the fate of pharma industry with the prospect of more and more medical conditions being treated with sole technological assistance.

The Future of Shopping is by Text, and It’s Glorious…


[image courtesy of PSFK]

PSFK posted a really interesting roundup of text-to-shop apps yesterday that you should definitely check out, but probably the most fun of those cited (in my subjective opinion) is called Drunk Shopping. Not just a clever name, users text “heyyyyyy” to 551-333-7865, which incites an exchange like those seen above, wherein Drunk Shopping engages the user in playful, friendly banter, and offers them random items they can buy with a link to where they can buy them. Combining drinking with impulse buying seems like a dangerous (or awesome) combination, but it certainly seems entertaining if nothing else.

Why It’s Hot
Well, it’s fun. But, more importantly, it leverages a ubiquitous, familiar, and convenient (always accessible) behavior – not just texting, but drunk texting – in order to bring shopping to someone right where they are, even if it’s Mahmoun’s at 3AM. For all of its silliness, it’s a great example of how on-demand services are proliferating into all sorts of directions. The name of the game today is reaching people where they are with what they want (or what they don’t even know they want), and there are plenty more examples of on demand, text-to-shop services you should check out over at PSFK.

Google-Waze Tests Car-pooling service

Many drivers, including yours truly, depend on Waze to get to where they are going without unexpected delays. The Israeli company uses crowdsourced information from drivers to steer other drivers away from traffic, accidents, etc. Waze was purchased by Google in 2013 to help beef up the capabilities of the Google Maps platform that include turn-by-turn directions.

This week, Waze began testing its new RideWith ride-sharing app and service in Tel Aviv. The pilot program matches commuters who have similar rush-hour commutes so they can share rides and split the financial burden of traveling to and from work. If the pilot is successful, the service may launch in cities with a heavy suburban commuter population. These suburban commuters, who need a more regular car-sharing schedule, may find RideWith to be a useful alternative to Uber or Lyft that cater more to city residents that need a quick ride somewhere.

The app also calculates how much passengers should pay — a “pitch-in” cost based on gas and mileage and a “nominal” fee for using the app. Drivers are not paid for their services, per se.

RideWith service operated by Waze

RideWith service operated by Waze

Why It’s Hot

Waze has been hot for a while. So are Google Maps. For anyone who has used either of these apps (and they are integrated), they recognize how amazingly accurate they are. The Waze platform is inherently based on crowdsourcing, so it is a logical extension to include crowdsourcing to share available ride sharing to/from work. If the service does succeed and move out of pilot phase to a larger endeavor, it will provide provide another alternative to users who may be using Lyft or Uber.

Now You Can Get Driving Directions From the Terminator

Mover Siri, here comes Ahh-nold.
For the next three weeks, drivers who use the navigation device Waze can get directions from the voice of the Terminator. They won’t be able to find their way to Mars—after all, this is a cross-promotion for the upcoming Terminator Genisys, not for 1990’s Total Recall—but they will be able to navigate cities, suburbs and the country to the robotic monotones of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most memorable character.

Why It’s Hot

This partnership is such a unique and interactive way to promote a movie- once the new movie opens, red-eye Endoskulls will also appear in your Waze app to guide you to nearby movie theaters. Plus this also allows Arnold Schwarzenegger to fulfill a common request from his fans. “Every single day on social media fans ask me to record my movie lines,” the actor said, in a statement. “So, now I get to bring this classic role and my charming Austrian accent into their cars.”


UberDrive: The next Angry Birds?

Uber came out with UberDrive, a game designed emulate the typical experience within the Uber app for Uber drivers using the regular Uber app (complete with accepting rides, choosing routes, surge pricing, etc). The app will be available in the iTunes store, although is primarily meant for those in the San Francisco area where they are testing the potential benefits of the app as a means of recruiting potential new employees.

Uber DRive Pic 2 Uber Drive

Why its Hot

Not only can Uber benefit from some light-hearted publicity with the release of a game, in contrast to it’s string of some not-so-light-hearted publicity, (see here) but it also represents an innovate way to reach out to potential new employees. While it started as merely a passion project, nobody should discount Uber’s trend-setting potential with an idea like this.

For more about this, read this link.

App usage rises to 37 1/2 hours per month

New data released by Nielsen yesterday shows that smartphone app usage has risen to almost 40 hours per month, another 63% jump over the prior year. Interestingly, the number of apps that are used on a monthly basis has not changed– we spend more time with a few selected apps.




Why It’s Hot

The study illustrates several important insights;

1. we prefer to be invested heavily in a short list of apps rather than using a deep library (even if we have them)

2. we continue to increase our smartphone usage for activities previously spread across multiple devices (laptop, desktop, handheld games, television)

3. we are easily distracted by our phones– we go the screen for one thing and wind up doing many other things since we are “already there”

Woman Uses Pizza Hut App to Escape Hostage Situation

Quick thinking by a Florida mother helped her and her children escape a potentially deadly hostage situation by an unlikely communication device: her Pizza Hut mobile app.

After being taken hostage at knifepoint by her boyfriend Ethan Nickerson, things were looking bleak for Cheryl Treadway and her two children. But while being held in Nickerson’s home, Treadway managed to convince her captor to return her cell phone so that she could order a pizza for her children.

In that moment, Treadway ordered a small pepperoni pizza and included the notes, “Please help. Get 911 to me,” and, “911hostage help!” The local Pizza Hut recognized her as a frequent customer and flagged the comments, contacting local police.


When police arrived on scene, they had to talk Nickerson out of the house, but after a 20-minute standoff, he surrendered peacefully. Treadway and the children are unharmed, thanks to Treadway’s smart use of a pizza delivery app. “We’ve never seen that before,” said Pizza Hut manager Candy Hamilton. “I’ve been here 28 years and never, never seen nothing like that come through.”

Why It’s Hot

When Pizza Hut created its mobile app, odds are they didn’t think its code could do much more than order pizzas let alone save someone’s life. But with the proliferation of mobile technology like apps, even a pizza ordering service can be a communication vehicle. Thankfully this Pizza Hut was staffed by employees who took the comments seriously, and were able to play a role in saving the Treadway family’s lives.

Via Popular Mechanics and WFLA

Doximity Launching HIPAA-compliant Apple Watch App

When patients transfer hospitals, physicians change shifts, or doctors don’t know a new patient’s full history, fatal mistakes can happen. Up to 440,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors, making them the nation’s third-leading cause of death. And by some estimates, better communication among staff could prevent as many as one-third of those mistakes.

That’s what the people behind a new Apple Watch app, Doximity, are banking on. They think the Apple Watch can enable medical professionals to share information easily, securely, and quickly — and perhaps most importantly, hands-free.

Clinicians who belong to Doximity’s nationwide network can share information with one another by dictating, sending, and receiving brief, encrypted messages — even if they don’t work for the same hospital, or don’t have an Apple Watch.

doximity-applewatch-fax-300x365 doximity-applewatch-inbox-300x359

Why It’s Hot

This new app could change that way physicians communicate with one another, saving them valuable time throughout the day while maintaining HIPAA-compliant standards to protect patient privacy. If the Apple Watch finds success in hospitals and healthcare centers, this app could be the start of a wide range of hands-free tools for doctors.