Our mobile devices have become smart portals into making our lives more convenient in nearly every aspect. From helping us find the nearest coffee shop, directions to the coffee shop, and even apps that may help us pay for our coffee, we now have a whole suite of apps that can tell us the effect that coffee has had on our bloodstream, how long the caffeine will keep us awake, and how long we will need to workout at the gym to burn off those calories. One increasingly popular avenue that mobile apps have now come to help users monitor collects data when our engagement and cognition is at its lowest--when we’re asleep! Sleep tracking mobile apps have helped us use mobile phones to track one of our most important activities, and below, we discuss three ways mobile apps have helped to make that possible.

Sleep

Sleep Cycles and Pattern Protection: Measurements & Controls

The way sleep tracking apps tend to measure sleep cycles, patterns, and data revolve a lot around tracking normal behavior and trying to pinpoint any irregularities or missteps that may better inform the user about their sleep. In order to do this, many devices require a period of calibration for the app to work as effectively as possible. Part of the allure of tracking your sleep involves optimizing your time awake--learning how to wake up when you are in light sleep, and tracking the amount of REM/deep sleep cycles a user experiences per night helps make for optimal energy in the morning, and can better set the tone for when app users should try to to go bed. Since everyone’s routine is different, the app requires a bedding in period for adjusting to that user’s day-to-day habits and goals. In order to detect patterns and irregularities in patterns, the apps are calibrated by requiring the user to sleep with or near the device, or couple the device with a wearable component. This calibration component is an important factor in learning about how these devices can help keep track of your sleeping patterns.

Tossing & Turning: Motion Makes it Happen

Since apps that track sleep don’t require users to check in with activities, feelings, or milestones about the night’s sleep, they instead rely on automated controls within your device in order to track and collect this type of data. By leaning on the device’s accelerometer, many apps, like Sleep Cycle alarm clock, allow a user to calibrate the device using the motion detectors, and then let it run in the background. The device’s tutorial detects motion, and in many cases, sound,  throughout the night by using some of the features that make the iPhone and Android smartphones such compelling gaming devices, and turns these into points for data collection. Similarly, devices such as Android’s SleepBot, leans on motion as well as sound recording options to better monitor your sleep each night.

Runs Like A Dream

Another important feature of nearly every sleep tracking app that allows users to better optimize their personal sleep cycles and rest for their best performance each morning is the invisibility in which the app operates. We don’t want users to feel compelled to open these apps and lean on this type of software each night just to get the data they’re after--instead, many of these apps run in conjunction with other apps on your phone, like your alarm clock, and operate purely in the background, so they’re working without you having to start the app and check-in each night. By making the app’s operation a bit less user-intensive, mobile app developers ensure that users capture the data they’re craving without the burden of interrupting their daily routine.

For more information on how to make the best app to optimize health of performance, contact Appetizer Mobile today! 

At Apple’s annual WWDC conference at the end of May, they announced an interesting platform that would enter the mobile space in tandem with their new mobile Operating System. iOS 8 will now come equipped with a centralized mobile application that will aggregate health data from third party apps so users can keep track of metrics like calories, sleep, heart rate and other important health metrics from the convenience of their smart phone. With devices like Nike’s FuelBand and corresponding suite of apps, and competitors like Jawbone UP, and Fitbit offering similar biometric tracking options, Apple is entering a space integrating both health and technology in a way never seen before. The resources of Apple will also allow the platform to integrate to data directly from your healthcare provider, so up-to-date information is seamlessly received directly from your primary care physician.

Health Tracking

While this is undoubtedly an intriguing way for life hackers and apt app users to enhance their personal fitness, overall health, and well-being, we wanted to take a quick look at three features that help fitness and health apps remain successful and increasingly relevant in a time where monitoring and cataloging personal health habits is easier than ever before. Tracking, Communication, and Education are three avenues that any health or fitness app needs to keep at the forefront of its UX.

Tracking

The crux of any great health and fitness app is tracking--from a typical pedometer to monitoring caloric intake and tracking meals, the dawn of the fitness app focused primarily on collecting some data to help coach the user and illuminate patterns of daily choices and health decisions. In the world of big data, this has got increasingly complex; any good fitness app can know partner with a biometric sensor, and can provide information on heart rate, sleep habits, and activity peaks. Apps like Fitocracy and Exist already offer compelling, intuitive platforms to track fitness routines, health, mood, and more. The tracking component of an app is crucial to the user experience, as users are going to want quick access to averages, peaks, and troughs, so that they can intuitively find patterns or breakthroughs. The more that an app can automate this process, the better.

Communication

Both the Next Web and Wired have been quick to point out that, though no formal study has been released, suspicions remain that users may adhere to a new routine, quickly motivated by the new app or tracking toy, but that initial eagerness can soon fade. Rather than letting these trackers slip away into the abyss of un-opened apps on our phones, app developers need to be conscious of how to lure those back to the app. There is perhaps no better incentive to entice a user back to an app than the promise of improving their own health. By designing intuitive push notifications into the app to help monitor any instance where a user may have fallen short of their fitness goals, stopped tracking physical activity or dietary results, or encouraging them to login to track a meal, work-out, sleep habit, or something else, the app becomes more ingrained into routine and ultimately effective in its end goal. However, push notifications alone shouldn’t be all; app users can be communicated to via email any time they have fallen off the fitness wagon, with encouraging emails sent periodically to entice a user to get back into their routine.

Education

Educating a user to make healthier decisions is the final component of this critical process. While there have been calls for Siri or Cortana to act more like a personal trainer, simple educational tips, tricks, quotes, and more can make all the difference to encourage a user to rely on the app and ultimately help spur a user onto the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. By crossing disciplines and integrating helpful meal-tips into a fitness app, helpful mood and relaxation tips into a tracking sleep habits, or even articles or advice on work-life balance into the same platform that monitors your heart rate, these apps have the power to become transformative life coaches. Users should be able to customize and calculate goals, complete milestones, and curate content that matches their health interests to turn any health app into the ultimate mentor.

For more information on how to get the best user experience out of your health or fitness app, contact Appetizer Mobile today! 

Compared with the houses many of us grew up in, smart homes are intellectual giants. With these homes, smartphones can control everything from the security system to the television, and doors can be unlocked with the touch of a fingerprint. Thermostats “learn” your preferences and adjust accordingly depending on the weather. Designers of these homes say that someday, your mattress may alert your coffee maker when to start brewing. Meanwhile, conventional houses just kind of sit there, requiring humans to switch on the lights and dial down the music.

But old-fashioned dwellings may be preferable if the future means hackers will try to use our smart homes against us. If that becomes a thing, owning a smart home could start to seem pretty dumb.

Smartphone Hack

Often, hackers aren't looking for financial gain, says Jordan Edelson, a software developer and CEO of Appetizer Mobile, a New York City-based mobile app company. "The majority of these hackers aren't your average criminal or thief. It's all about the bragging rights to be able to say, 'Hey, I hacked into this house. Look what I can do.' If they can turn on a camera in the house and mess with the lights and freak out the homeowner, it's a high."

View the entire article at:

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/06/06/could-your-smart-home-be-hacked

http://news.yahoo.com/could-smart-home-hacked-130000028.html

In order to remain relevant and competitive in an industry as competitive and dynamic as mobile apps, a near perfect storm has to help make your new app rise above the rest. From beautiful aesthetics to an amazing user experience design, to the simple, intuitive, lightweight and streamlined functionality the app was meant to deliver, there are a number of factors that all coincide to help an app go from an initial idea to the cream of the crop. While optimizing apps for their respective app stores is a crucial step in their introduction to the marketplace, many apps live and die by the way in which users speak about them. Below, we look at three ways to encourage user reviews from your app interface, by using push notifications and in-app alerts, email registration, or simply asking bloggers and users to help get the ball rolling by talking about the app online.

App Reviews

Push Notifications and In-App Alerts

Push notifications and in-app alerts offer a fantastic communication pathway between the app owner or developer and the user. Since many apps sit idly on a user’s phone after download, it’s important to encourage not only the continued use of a new app, but also the feedback that allows this app to be such a vital part of a smartphone’s software. Push notifications can help remind users to open the app, whether it’s checking in daily or weekly to track progress or play a game. Similarly, as the app tracks how many times a user has opened the app or interacted with it, it can also remind the user to review the app after a certain number of days or a certain number of opens. These notifications are paramount in garnering some initial feedback for the app on both the App Store or Google Play. Furthermore, by cleverly interpolating this as an in-app alert, you can try to time the prompt in line with a conversion or goal completion. If a purchase is completed or the app has served its function well, a user is more likely to take the time to leave a positive review knowing that the app has helped them achieve their goals.

Registering App Users -- No Matter What

By registering app users who download the app immediately, you achieve two primary things: By asking users who download your app to submit their email in an initial registration period, you allow yourself the pathway to communicate them on a less invasive platform than a push notification. Email registrations help app developers better communicate by announcing new versions, fixes, bugs, related products and much more. You can develop a quick database of users that you can use for important notifications, among which can be the call for more user reviews. Again, these email notifications can be triggered by a goal completion or a duration, ensuring that the user has had the time to get to know the app and use it well.

Soliciting App Reviews by App Professionals

The most important part of generating reviews for your app, rather than just relying on user reviews, is getting professional reviews from app reviewers. A new post on Medium highlights that user reviews can often sound the death knell for an app if it is not successfully accompanied by a PR push, professional app reviews, and more. In order to pitch an app to bloggers and professional app reviewers, be sure to create a mini-media kit when soliciting apps to be reviewed. This includes the name of the app as it appears on the store, the appropriate platforms, the function and what sets it apart from other apps, links to the appropriate websites and sources, and crucially, as Apptamin points out, a video. Use screenshots or a 30-second video clip to highlight the app’s functionality and design in order to pique the interest of the reviewer and ensure they understand the app as a whole.

For more information on how to take your next idea from a sketch to a best-seller, contact us today.