Tag Archives: mobile apps

Dish Introduces New Joey Set-Top Boxes And Dish Anywhere Apps For iOS, Android, And Kindle Fire

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Satellite TV provider Dish is expanding the number of ways that viewers can gain access to its content at CES this year.

It’s doing that with support for live, recorded, and on-demand video streaming to iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire tablets and mobile devices through a new group of Dish Anywhere apps. It’s also launching a new “troop” of Joey set-top boxes, building new functionality into the next generation of devices and introducing virtual interfaces for PS3, PS4, and LG Smart TVs.

At its presentation ahead of the show, Dish unveiled its most powerful Joey set-top box to date, the SuperJoey. Combined with Dish’s Hopper whole-home DVR, the SuperJoey will allow households to record up to eight shows at once. By adding another couple of tuners, the Hopper and SuperJoey can record four cable TV shows in addition to the four broadcast networks that are automatically recorded.

That should eliminate channel conflicts for most homes… that is, unless they are either really big or really crazy about recording things to their DVR.

Troop of DISH JoeysDish is also introducing the Wireless Joey, which provides customers more flexibility in making their live and recorded programs available throughout the house. Previously, subscribers needed their set-top boxes to be connected by coax cable run throughout the house.

But with the Wireless Joey, users can stream their live and recorded TV programs to any TV in the house, thanks to a thin client with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi connection.

Not only will subscribers have more options when it comes to Joey set-top boxes, they can install around the home, but they will also be able to connect virtually through devices they already own. To support this, Dish will have “virtual Joey” clients available for Sony’s PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 devices, as well as LG Smart TVs.

In addition to the new Joey products, Dish has also updated its mobile apps for iOS and Android, and is adding the Kindle Fire into the mix. The new Dish Anywhere apps will have a new feature that allows subscribers to transfer recordings from their Hopper, allowing them to watch their favorite programs on the go.

super joeyThe new apps also have integrated voice search capabilities, with natural language processing that allows users to find the programs that they want to watch and control their TV. That includes the ability to search content by title, actor, or genre.

For Dish, the announcements are part of a larger strategy by the company to enable subscribers to access the content they want anywhere, at any time. It’s been working toward that goal for years, but the new apps and Joey capabilities get it one step closer to achieving it.

Since this is CES, no launch dates for the products were announced. But the company expects the virtual Joey apps and the new Dish Anywhere for Kindle Fire to be released in the first quarter, with the Wireless Joey becoming available in the spring.


A Passive Yet Potentially Aggressive Mobile App Strategy

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Editor’s Note: Semil Shah works on product for Swell, is a TechCrunch columnist, and an investor. He blogs at Haywire, and you can follow him on Twitter at @semil.

Yes, we all know…If you’re reading TechCrunch, there’s a great chance we all look at our phones too many times during the day, during meetings, during conversations, during dinner, and every other piece of dead time in between. Mobile apps and the connectivity they provide to us induce addictive behaviors. So, as we think about how mobile evolves, two questions have been on my mind: (1) Could information be pushed to us (beyond push notifications) such that I look at my phone less? And, (2) Will there be apps which passively collect data from my phone, while running in the background, that will improve the notifications mentioned above?

Today in mobile, push notifications hold the promise of native re-engagement tools. Just as it’s hard to even get others to discover and download your app, it’s equally hard to get them to re-engage with your app. Where else could these notifications go to make sure we see them? Email is the next best channel, and with deep-linking becoming more uniform, helps developers touch users and coax them back into their silos. Maybe this is where “wearables” will come into play? Notifications can be sent to a wristwatch or connected glasses, but will we even use these new devices? And, maybe those notifications are just passive, or the types that bring us back into the phone. What if an app sends me great push notifications but I don’t go into the app — is that helping a developer today, or will that provide value in the future as the manners in which we use our phones evolve?

Now, what if we let apps just run like gears in the background after download and collect data for us? We wouldn’t have to open the app all the time and input information. We may occasionally go back into the app to see how our data is presented, or search for something in the past, but it wouldn’t require daily or even weekly active uses. Lately, this could be apps like Heyday and Memoir, which automatically create personal journals based on mobile activity. Instead of being inside our phones chronicling every check-in, or while we are out and about, such as Strava for cyclists, or using Automatic to track movements in the car. For instance, I have my Automatic set to turn on whenever I’m in the car. I rarely go back into the app itself, but I’m using it every time I’m driving. I’m certainly hoping one day I can do something with that data, but we shall see.

Now, let’s take a step back as 2014 commences and everyone recognizes the scale of the platform shift presented by mobile…

All of our attention is on mobile, and rightly so. As a result, investment dollars are focused on mobile, but most of those are chasing apps which could reasonably or already have achieved breakout status. There aren’t many of those. We may all focus on the daily swings of the App Store rankings or get sucked into what’s happening in a category, but if consumers aren’t using an app multiple times a day, the future of that app may be grim. Investors know this, which is why apps with serious daily engagement (like Snapchat) command such high valuations. Add on top of this the sheer number of people who are building new apps daily, and the competition is insanely intense.

Given the current atmosphere, could apps make a bold enough consumer promise to work smartly “in the background” and not ask for daily attention from users? That’s what I’ve experienced personally with Heyday so far, as an example. I know this app will make searchable journals for me based on photos and my location, and I can see them adding in people (as the app spreads), and then perhaps integrating data from Strava, Automatic, and the like. As a result, I let it track my location, I let it access my photo roll, and so forth. There’s a trade taking place, and while I don’t go into Heyday more than once a week, when I want to search for something the past, it’s usually there, right at my fingertips. These types of apps are like gears in a machine. We don’t see them every day, perhaps only when we need something at a specific moment, but we need them to work constantly and consistently for us. These gears could also make other systems run or even possible in the future, in that way, become platforms. While it’s early days mobile, it’s every earlier for these types of background apps, but I think it’s starting to turn in this direction, and with the competition for user attention so fierce today, apps that work like gears do, indeed, present a passive yet potentially aggressive mobile app strategy.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Sonny Abesamis


5 Things You Should Know About Mobile Before You Start Making Apps

Learnings about mobile from an agency perspective.


In the interest of full disclosure; I wrote this article as part of a yearly report on consumer trends and technological advancements in the mobile space. The report is an initiative of In the Pocket, the agency I work for.

A high-quality, multi-platform mobile project requires input from at least 7 specialists. Introducing the team:

  • an interaction design expert.
    People are unforgiving when it comes to interacting with apps or sites on their smartphone. If a user can’t immediately figure out how to use your product, he or she will move on without blinking.
  • a mobile designer.
    Designing for mobile is a specialty in its own right. Of course a mobile designer needs a keen eye for what works in small spaces. But they also need to know about the platforms that will carry their designs. They need to know about ninepatching (a scaling gimmick needed for Android’s fluid design) and about dealing with retina screens for example.
  • an iOS developer
    Don’t believe the stereotypes. Not all iOS developers are turtleneck-wearing, sneaker-sporting college dropouts. Some of them did finish college but the iOS development crowd has 1 thing in common: a passion for products that are both beautiful and technically excellent.
  • an Android developer
    Some people say developing for Android is easy. This is false, it’s just that there is a low treshold. Any middle-aged computer teacher with a notion of Java can publish an Android app but it takes a much rarer breed to make an app that works on all 12000 Android devices.
  • a web / backend developer
    The web is everywhere and very few projects can go without the services of a web developer. The performance of most every mobile app hinges on a well-thought-out, scalable backend and API.
  • a project manager
    Pragmatic, emphatic and thick-skinned, this is the all-rounder of the team. They filter, dispatch and push a project forward. Above all they are great communicators. They speak in the same way as they write; clearly and concisely.
  • a test engineer
    Owning the quality aspect of a digital product is easier said than done. It takes a special kind of personality to root out bugs by ploughing through test scripts on dozens of devices. They are worth their weight in gold however since these are the guys (unfortunately girls are rare in this particular field) that keep your app store page free of 1-star reviews.

Web or native is the wrong question.

A lot of ink has been spilled over the web vs native debate. This debate is often too simplistic. Of course it depends on the project but there are a lot more options to choose from.

A native app doesn’t have to be a 100% native. You’ll want a native navigation model for that snappy feel but nothing is to keep you from using web technology in certain views. If it’s done right, your users won’t be able to tell the difference.

Image representing Android as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Even when there are reasons not to go native, you can’t simply choose web. Building a mobile site and building a responsive site are 2 very different things (a responsive website changes its layout depending on the user’s screen and provides all your content on all platforms, while a mobile website is context specific — it focuses on supporting core tasks relevant in a mobile context).

You might even consider a cross-platform technology like Phonegap (that is if robustness and user experience don’t matter to you); the point is that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Too many cooks spoil the soup.

In one mobile project many companies can get involved. Branding agencies, content creators, ad networks, backend developers,… However, the end result should always be one great app that’s easy and fun to use. Apps are not like websites: you can’t change or update them on the fly and users will actually rate your product. So you need to get it right from the start.

It is crucial to clearly define deliverables, timings and responsibilities. Once everyone’s involvement is discussed, the project should move to creation, headed by a small team focusing only on making a great app.

Apple works in mysterious ways. Android just works.

To protect its closed ecosystem, Apple has a mind of its own. If you submit an application you have to wait for approval. This can take days, but also weeks. If your app is rejected, you will have to adapt. Apple has guidelines, but they hold the right to change and interpret these guidelines to their advantage. There are absolutely no guarantees on Apple’s part and that can be frustrating.The bright side of this story is that this controlling attitude does safeguard the quality and the security of iOS applications which in its turn makes it easier to distribute and monetize your mobile apps.

Android is open and free. Upload your app and see it go live for more than a billion devices. This freedom makes Google Play a bit like the internet: you’ll find some of the most innovative and compelling stuff on there, but also thousands of products that were made by amateurs for no apparent reason.

Mobile moves fast. So should you.

The only reason that the companies producing consumer goods got to coin the term “fast-moving”, is because the mobile industry didn’t exist at the time.

The iPhone is barely 6 years old. In its wake, companies have come and gone (Nokia and Blackberry seem to be on their way out while Rovio and Instagram have made mobile history). Entire industries have already been disrupted by mobile (gaming, media, publishing) while others are about to be rattled (education, health, payments…).

At a lower level, things move equally fast. Look under the hood of all mobile software and you will find complex machinery comprising 3rd party API’s, SDK’s, libraries and other components, ever-updating according to their own development life cycle. With all these technologies evolving at a breakneck pace, it is necessary to follow suit.

Even during the creation of an application, mobile is changing.Take a pragmatic approach and allow the product to pivot and adapt when new opportunity presents itself.

The full report is available here.


Further Reading

Disruption and Opportunity


How Mobile is Changing your Business

Mobile in 2014, what to expect


Jeroen Lemaire is co-founder and managing director of In the Pocket, a leading mobile agency in Europe.



Written by

self-confessed geek, all-round mobile & web aficionado and operations guy at In The Pocket. Opinions are my own.



Native Mobile Apps are the New Flash

A great stopgap measure while the web caught up

I’m not that old, but I remember a past when Flash was on top. Before HTML5 was the hottest tech buzzword. Before CSS gradients were even a distant dream. Before jQuery was a household name. Before Steve Jobs hung Flash to a cross.

Back then, the web simply wasn’t advanced enough to create the experiences users wanted. Developers turned to Flash to fill in the gaps, while the open web evolved and eventually surpassed Flash’s capabilities. Flash was a great stopgap measure. But it outlived its usefulness and has been reduced to niche status.

Today, we’re seeing the nearly exact same scenario with native apps on mobile devices.

The vast majority of web apps no longer need a native counterpart.

Native mobile apps are a temporary solution. We’re just over 4 years into the Appstore era and this has already become apparent. Open web technologies are catching up to the point that the vast majority of web apps no longer need a native counterpart.

Don’t try to tell me native apps are faster or allude to them having a “better experience.” That simply is no longer true. Sencha proved this last year. For a more detailed look just how far mobile web capabilities have come, see Benjamin De Cock’s excellent “Building iOS Web Apps in 2013.”

Most of today’s mobile apps add little more than a homescreen button.

As it stands now, there is little reason most mobile apps to exist. Content-based sites do not need downloadable apps. I’m talking about NYTimes, WSJ, Wikipedia, Buzzfeed, TMZ, etc. These native apps add literally nothing of value to their web-based user experience. Even many more complex apps do not need native functionality. Many RSS readers, GTD apps, eCommerce apps and search apps add little more than a homescreen button.

In many cases, native apps are a considerable step backward from their web counterparts. As Thomas Baekdal points out, mobile apps are stuck in 2004. Much of the functionality that has become standard on the web — automatic updates, social sharing, scrolling — has been completely stripped out and ignored.

Today, there are only two pieces of functionality that necessitate a native app: camera access and push notifications. And the web is quickly working onfilling both of these gaps.

Once people begin realize this, native mobile apps will be the same as Flash. Useful for games, but not much else.

Edit: Many have said that I’ve “missed the point about app stores facilitating monetization and distribution.” Let me be clear: I am not saying the app store business model is going anywhere. Web app stores exist and are growing rapidly.

I originally published this on my site February 15, 2013. Back then people thought I was insane.

Further Reading

How the Web Wins

 — If the second coming happened right now, Jesus would probably show up as an app. It seems everything these days is an app, or awaiting ap…

Written by

@jimesilverman digital interface designer


The Shifting Ways In Which We’ll Interact With Mobile Apps

Posted 1 hour ago by (@semil)

Editor’s Note: Semil Shah works on product for Swell, is a TechCrunch columnist, and an investor. He blogs at Haywire, and you can follow him on Twitter at @semil.

‘Tis the season to reorganize the apps on my iPhone. With iOS 7 and the shift from spotlight search to swipe-down-to-search for apps, I’ve noticed my app behavior has changed a bit, as it’s become easier to search for apps with the new UI and therefore less important where the app is located on my phone. For instance, the Amazon app is buried in my Shopping folder (on my second page of apps), but if I need the app, I just swipe down to search.

This shift got me thinking about other ways I’d like to search for, launch, and interact with mobile apps, so I came up with this list — let me know what you think and if I’m missing any:

Launch apps with Siri. I didn’t realize this until yesterday. I’ve kind of given up on Siri, but maybe I missed the memo here, so I’ll give it another whirl.

Keep Reading – > http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/15/the-shifting-ways-in-which-well-interact-with-mobile-apps/


Hacking homelessness: HandUp lets you help out via mobile phone donations!!! (GOOD READ)

The following excerpt is from VENTURE BEAT!!!

In San Francisco, entrepreneurs are proving that technology can be a force for social good. A small but dedicated group has its sights on the homeless community and is building innovative tech to connect people with basic services.

This help is sorely needed, given that homelessness in San Francisco is on the rise. With an estimated 6,500 people living without adequate shelter, most locals have grown accustomed to seeing and interacting with homeless folks as part of life in this city.

But web designer Rose Broome is eager to prove that mobile apps and web-based services can make a difference. In a matter of weeks, Broome and mobile developer Zac Witte created an iPhone app called HandUp that helps you donate to homeless people living in shelters and outdoors in your neighborhood.

“People always ask where the startups are that are solving important problems. Well, here we are,” said Broome.

In an interview, Broome stressed that many of her friends in the tech community want to give to individual homeless people they meet. However, they fear their cash would not be spent on clothing, food, and other essentials but instead would feed a drug or alcohol addiction.

HandUp is designed to alleviate these concerns and benefit people in need. Signing up just takes a few minutes. Around 50 homeless people have registered in the past week, in part due to the support of local nonprofit Coalition on Homelessness.

Once a homeless member has expressed interest, HandUp’s team notes some basic information, such as her first name and neighborhood, and generates a profile and custom paper card.

The member can then hand out the card to stranger or familiar face in the community.

Herein lies the innovation: The card contains information for people to donate via a secure SMS system, and the transaction can be carried out on an iPhone.

The recipient can only redeem the donation at Project Homeless Connect, a San Francisco-based organization that provides housing support, medical care, food, pharmacy gift cards, and other basic essentials.

Stanley Jackson has handed out about 300 cards since he signed up for HandUp on Thursday. His profile contains some biographical information and lists his most pressing needs. Stanley grew up in Oakland, lost six brothers and one sister to violence. His dream is to meet Bill Gates. He is saving up for dentures, shoes, shirts, and of course, housing. On his first day, Stanley earned $28 through HandUp, which he used for a Walgreens gift card and a bus pass.

“I will give out a few hundred cards today,” he told me. “I try to be friendly, and only give out cards to people who I think might donate.” People have told him that it’s a safer way to donate, so he intends to continue using HandUp.

To donate $3 or more to Stanley, text GIVE 3 TO STANLEY to 415-651-4483.

NFL and Microsoft’s Xbox One Deal

The NFL could be coming to a tablet near you in the not-so-distant future…and the same can be said for the tablet approaching the NFL! A recent deal between Microsoft and the NFL is ushering in a new era of cooperation between the two organizations. The result is said to be a better experience for football fans, improved on-field communications for athletes and the Xbox One poised to become an impressive all-in-one media center. It’s clearly a win-win deal, thought to be worth $400 million to the NFL over the next five years. Every side has something to gain from Microsoft’s partnership with the NFL: the fans, the players and Microsoft itself.

Enhanced Viewing Experience For Fans

The main goal of Microsoft’s recent deal with the NFL is to make football a more immersive experience for fans. Television viewing of the big game will be almost as exciting as being there in person, thanks to the addition of real-time game highlights, stats for fantasy football and more. Those interested in enjoying the experience with friends and family members living further away will be able to do so through the addition of a new Skype function, ensuring that the community aspect of football is maintained in years to come. Combined with NFL Sunday Ticket through GetDirectTv.org, football fans have more ways to enjoy the sport than ever before. And for those who refuse to be limited to just a television screen, Microsoft has enabled multi-screen viewing for this special deal, bringing football to the tablet with SmartGlass technology.

Bringing Technology To The Field

Despite numerous technological innovations in the past several years, the actual football field remains stuck in the past. Playbooks are still largely limited to three-ring binders, and athletes are not able to enjoy the same feedback that their fans regularly access through mobile apps and television commentary. That’s about to change, for the NFL-Microsoft deal allows for the use of technological solutions on the field. The result will be improved communication between coaches and athletes, to the extent that those who remain up-to-date on new technology stand to benefit greatly from this development.

Microsoft Competes In The Media World

Despite its best efforts, Microsoft just hasn’t been able to capture the innovative fervor currently associated with Apple. The company is striving to change this with the release of the Xbox One, which it hopes will be viewed as the ultimate immersive experience. NFL’s cooperation with Microsoft offers just one more way in which the Xbox will be able to distinguish itself from other gaming and media systems. Ideally, fans will come to think of the Xbox One as the gaming system for anyone invested in sports, eventually using it exclusively for all their athletic needs. Given the size of this potential market, it only stands to reason that Microsoft would put forth an effort in courting its adherents.

Microsoft’s move to build a relationship with the NFL is a smart one, for it allows the technology company to maintain a firm grasp on an ideal demographic. Both sides are likely to benefit from this partnership, as fans will likely see when it takes full effect in 2014.