Buy Facebook Deals with Facebook Currency


Written on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 by Giorgos Saslis

Ok, so you've probably heard by now about the new Facebook feature: Deals (coming soon to a fb-enabled device near you) that aims to hit the likes of Groupon, and the lot. 

Facebook Deals Launching soon in the U.S.
If not, here's an article from mashable about it: 
Facebook’s new Deals feature will launch Tuesday in five U.S. cities. Here’s a first glimpse of how those offers will look and function.
First, users who opt into Deals will get to see opportunities specific to their locations. Those offers will arrive via email or, in some cases, will appear in the user’s news feed on Facebook.
To be clear, these aren’t like the checkin-based deals for mobile users that Facebook launched for its nascent Places platform; while the initial mobile Deals product competed with Foursquare, the new product competes more with Groupon.
Each deal will have its own Facebook landing page, as shown in the gallery below. Users can “Like” a deal, share it via several channels on the site or opt to buy it right away. When purchasing the deal, users can pay with credit card or Facebook Credits.

I especially liked this final quote from 'a Facebook representative': 
It’s unknown whether Facebook will make more money from Credits purchases than from traditional ones. “We’re not disclosing details about revenue splits, but paying with Credits will work the same way as paying with a credit card,” said a Facebook representative via email. “It’s simply another way for people to pay for Deals. We think this just makes things easier for people using Facebook.”
Which should really read: 
It’s unknown whether Facebook will make more money from Credits purchases than from traditional ones. "Being Facebook, we have the power to not disclose any details about revenue splits, but paying with credits will further establish this currency (FB Credits).", said a Facebook representative via email. "You see Facebook, as a company, now holds more power than a lot of countries, so we don't see why we shouldn't have our own currency like they do."

 And to be fair, almost anyone with the power of Facebook, would probably be thinking along the same lines, so I'm not pointing it out to say it's something I wouldn't necessarily do - just pointing it out for the sake of it..

Infographic: Mobile Marketing Today


Written on Monday, April 18, 2011 by Giorgos Saslis

Just found this interesting infographic, over at Latest Tech World. Not a lot to say here, it says it all itself.

Mobile Web Page: View Source Bookmarktlet


Written on Friday, April 15, 2011 by Giorgos Saslis

You beauty! I just had to share this with you all simply for the amount of man-hours this can save all of us working on mobile web design. 

Turns out you can now view the source of any mobile web page simply by installing the Mobile Perf bookmarktlet, in combination with the Docsource bookmartlet in your mobile browser. More from the author:
That’s right – I created the new Docsource bookmarklet for viewing the page’s document source. It’s a piece of core functionality that is indispensable for analyzing websites. You can add the Docsource bookmarklet by itself, but I encourage you to add the Mobile Perf bookmarklet to get the entire collection of mobile bookmarklets.

MOBILE: Install the Mobile Perf bookmarklet on mobile devices as follows:
  1. click this link: Mobile Perf bookmarklet
  2. bookmark this page
  3. edit the bookmark URL and remove everything up to and including the hash (“#“) so that the bookmark URL starts with “javascript:
Here are step-by-step instructions for iPhone.

Just tried this myself, and it's pretty cool.. Here's my screenshot: 

I must admit I was totally unaware something like this existed (probably cause I haven't designed a mobile website in a while now), so that doubles the excitement. For those of you who were already aware this is an option, forgive my enthusiasm - just think how you'd react if you'd just found this out.

Mobile Interface Redesign for Improved Usability


Written on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 by Giorgos Saslis

An excellent post from UX design guru Jakob Nielsen - if you're in this field and don't know him stop your work now, go read his stuff and go back to your work a different person. 

In one of his latest posts he goes through the redesign of an already good-enough mobile interface into one that would follow all of his (and his team's) suggested mobile usability guidelines for mobile website design. Here's some key points from the article:

AllKpop does many things right:
  • Most important of all, it supports a task that's perfect for mobile use: celebrity gossip. We've known since our first mobile usability studies in 2000 that killing time is a killer app for mobile. Many other tasks make little sense in the mobile scenario; no matter how great the design, the mobile versions wouldn't get much use and creating them is a waste of time.
  • Almost as important, it has a separate mobile version. Desktop computers and mobile devices are so different that the only way to offer a great user experience is to create two separate designs — typically with fewer features for mobile.
  • Because the server auto-senses whether they're using a mobile or a desktop device, users don't have to manually choose their version. As we know from testing, usability drops dramatically when the mobile and full sites have different URLs because users often end up with the wrong user interface.
  • Touch targets for each headline are fairly large.
  • Content-carrying keywords usually appear at the beginning of the headlines. For this site, the pop star's name is the most important information for users, and it typically appears first.
Our redesign included 10 major changes:
  1. Fewer features
  2. Bigger touch targets.
  3. Full headlines 
  4. Enhanced scannability
  5. Even more information scent
  6. Using pop star photos instead of date icons. 
  7. Room for 4 full story tiles without scrolling. 
  8. Showing the publication date only as a divider between stories published on different dates. 
  9. Adding more space between the navigation bar's two options so users are less likely to touch the wrong one.
  10. Labeling the drop-down menu instead of simply denoting it by a triangle.

Head on over for more details on the changes they made, as well as more info.

Ever Slept Through Your Stop on a Bus/Train?


Written on Monday, April 11, 2011 by Giorgos Saslis

You know those times when you have an idea that never quite have the time to make happen, but just know and have a gut feeling it's a good one? Well, I've just had one of those moments seeing this becoming a reality by someone else.. Which is still a good thing, but at the same time a reminder that good ideas should always be implemented when they come to you and not postponed... 

This app is about all those of us that have at least once slept on a bus/train/the tube/metro thus missing our stop (&*$@)*!^). If this is beginning to sound familiar, read on:

There’s two kinds of people in this world: Those that can sleep on buses, trains and planes, and those who can’t. If you are the former, you’re welcome – TravAlert is an GPS enabled iPhone, Blackberry and Android app that allows you to get your precious ZZZs (or read a book, or listen to music) while you travel, without having to worry about whether you’ll miss your stop.

Creator Frank Gu came up with the idea after painfully and repeatedly missing his stop on his bus commute, “It’s a huge pain to get off, reverse your route and go back to your stop, a few times it was the last bus of the day resulting in some very ‘interesting’ situations.”

TravAlert works by sending out a GPS ping every X number of seconds to figure out your location relative to your destination. Sleepy travelers can enter whether they’re on a bus or a train and their destination into the app, setting the alert for either minutes or miles away. You can also adjust the alarm’s sound, make it vibrate or even select a song from your phone’s song library.

In order to save phone battery life (the app obviously doesn’t work if your phone is dead), Gu has created an optimized algorithm to GPS ping efficiently depending on where you are in the travelling process. If you’re at the beginning of your trip the app pings slowly like every sixty seconds and but as you get closer to your stop TravAlert speeds its pings up to about ten/twenty or so. The app also speeds up after you go under bridges and tunnels in case you lose signal.

In case you travel on things other than buses and trains, Gu also has plans to create functionalities for air travel (with airport maps instead of an actual alarm) and for automobile travel, which lets users figure out if destinations like a McDonalds or an outlet mall are “on the way,” using a custom radius “bubble” of two miles.
“How many times are you going from A to B (say a roadtrip) and are craving a certain thing (certain fast food chain, gas station, etc), but not enough to drop everything you’re doing to pursue it?,” says Gu. I think he’s definitely on to something.

Android More Popular Than iPhone in the UK


Written on Thursday, April 07, 2011 by Giorgos Saslis

This was probably a long time coming, but either way, it's still newsworthy. The Press Association released this news article that reports on the increasing popularity of Android in the UK.
Android phones have edged out the iPhone to become the most popular smartphone in the UK, according to new research.
Some 28% of smartphone users own an Android, with 26% using an iPhone and 14% a BlackBerry, the study for digital banking provider Intelligent Environments found.
More than four million British people over 18 years old own an Android - and it is popular with both young professionals and older people.
More than a third (36%) of those aged 25-34 who are smartphone owners use an Android phone, and a quarter (25%) of retired people who own a smartphone use an Android phone.
Android users are most likely to spend time mapping and planning travel - 34% rate this in the top three "apps" they spend the most time using, compared with BlackBerry and Apple (both 28%).
iPhone customers are the heaviest smartphone users - 18% spend more than four hours on their phone each day, compared with just 4% of Android and BlackBerry users.
Some 63% of iPhone users rank social networking and 48% games in their top three apps.
Nearly one fifth (18%) admit that their main bank account is always overdrawn, compared with an average 12% of all Britons.
James Richards, director of mobile at Intelligent Environments, said: "The top three mobile platforms in the UK certainly seem to attract different personalities. It's fair to say that iPhone and BlackBerry have strong identities but given that Android is on a number of handsets, we are clearly seeing more of a mixed user base.
"Perhaps we will see the telecoms industry of the future tailoring their apps and services further to suit the variety of demands being placed on the mobile."
Being an iPhone owner, I still think comparing iPhone on the one hand and all of the Android phones is not 100% fair (though I do realize the fact that there is only one iOS phone is Apple's choice). Either way, it is an interesting and definitely ongoing battle that will be interesting to see how it turns out.

What is NFC? - Definition Near-Field Communications


Written on Tuesday, April 05, 2011 by Giorgos Saslis

I know you've been hearing the hype around it (if not, there's something you're not doing right when following mobile news), but I'm not sure all of you know what it is. So let's get cracking:
  • What is NFC (short for Near-Field Communications) ?
Well, as with any question that starts with "what is", Wikipedia comes to the rescue:
Near field communication, or NFC, is a set of short-range wireless technologies, typically requiring a distance of 4 cm or less. NFC operates at 13.56 MHz and at rates ranging from 106 kbit/s to 848 kbit/s. NFC always involves an initiator and a target; the initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries. NFC peer-to-peer communication is also possible, where both devices are powered.
Main things to keep in mind: Only ONE of the communicating devices NEEDS power, (but both might have). The frequencies and speeds are not that important right now.. just keep in mind its data transfer speed is slower than Bluetooth, if you want a comparison, but not by that much..
  • So how do these devices work? (skip this if you're not interested)
Let's look at the operational modes, which is important in order to get a better undertanding of what we can do with NFC.There are two modes: 
  • Passive Communication Mode: The Initiator device provides a carrier field and the target device answers by modulating the existing field. In this mode, the Target device may draw its operating power from the Initiator-provided electromagnetic field, thus making the Target device a transponder
  • Active Communication Mode: Both Initiator and Target device communicate by alternately generating their own fields. A device deactivates its RF field while it is waiting for data. In this mode, both devices typically have power supplies.
Ok good, by now things should have started making more sense. So let's start looking at the really interesting part... 
  • Why all the hype? What can we do with it?
Well, sky's the limit as is usually the case with every emerging technology, but here are some specific uses for NFC:
  • Card emulation: the NFC device behaves like an existing contactless card (think transit passes, etc)
  • Reader mode: the NFC device is active and reads a passive RFID tag, for example for interactive advertising (this would KILL/OWN QR codes)
  • P2P mode: two NFC devices communicating together and exchanging information (e.g. file / data transfer - would give a whole new meaning to "giving" files to other users)
These are the general 1-way (first 2) / 2-way (the 3rd) communication modes, so depending on your idea you just pick the appropriate one for application.
  • Can my phone get NFC?
Short Answer: Yes (but NO chances are it doesn't have it already at the time of writing this).
Longer Answer: Yes, it is, but under certain conditions and with some limitations. NFC requires both hardware, as well as software modifications, so you can't just download an NFC application to your phone, if that's what you had in mind. However, there are both NFC stickers (passive) and also much more promising microSD NFC devices, so they would go in your phone's microSD slot (if it has one).
So you might not be able to do everything you had in mind with your current handset (but you might depending on the model / availability + capabilities afforded by the available hardware).
  • What about existing technologies? What will happen to RFID and Bluetooth?
Well, NFC comes to fill a slightly different gap than Bluetooth, so no it's not aiming to replace Bluetooth (though it might I would say). It's aim is actually rather than different, and that is to complement Bluetooth and 'fix' everything that's 'bad' about it - i.e. the long discovery / pairing process.

The idea is that NFC will be used for pairing, and Bluetooth will then take care of the wireless data transfer. This makes a very interesting case for Bluetooth Marketing, as you can imagine, as the main criticism towards it has been the way it can be used as SPAM.

Also note that some existing RFID readers, can have their software upgraded to support NFC, so the technology for it is already out there...

For now, we'll all just have to wait for the handset manufacturers and more importantly the Mobile Network Operators (who are currently keeping the appearance of NFC chips in mobile phones on hold) to sort it all out ... 

Top 10 + 1 Mobile Marketing Stories Including NFC News, mCommerce Studies, etc.


Written on Monday, April 04, 2011 by Giorgos Saslis

Hadn't had the time recently to post everything I've been reading on here, so here's everything that I've been wanting to share with you all and haven't found the time to do so... go through the list below and take your pick on your topic of interest...

  • A new mobile app just rolled out by the neighboring San Jose Earthquakes soccer team brings in-seat concession ordering at sports events.
  • Faithless fans testing NFC’s social networking capabilities
  • Smartphone owners like to scan and save, study finds: Bar code scanning and discount apps are the most popular mobile features, research finds.
  • Millennial: Android Continues To Account For Over Half Of Mobile Ad Impression Share
  • Mobile Dating Study from OfferMobi . 
So go on.. Start your week with a bit of reading up on what's been going on around the world...