React Native Radio Episode 73

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A few weeks ago our VP of Production, Michael Gilmore, was the special guest for React Native Radio’s episode 73. Gilmore discusses everything from his life back in Mississippi, to programming in React Native. We’ve included a full episode guide along with ways to connect with the panel. Enjoy!

"React Native Radio is a weekly discussion of the tools, techniques, and technologies used to build mobile applications with JavaScript and React done by developers regularly using React Native."

Episode 73 guide:

Introduction - 1:34

Moving from Mississippi to California - 8:30

Working at MEDL Mobile - 12:05

How React Native fits in at MEDL Mobile - 14:35

What MEDL Mobile used before React Native - 24:00

App solutions outside of React Native - 28:47

MEDL Mobile’s developers - 32:00

When React Native isn’t the best solution -  38:45

When to use React Native - 47:00

Follow The Panel

Michael Gilmore - Twitter | Instagram 

React Native Radio - Twitter

Nader Dabit  - Twitter

Kevin Old - Twitter

 

 

JAWKU Speed & Your iOS Device

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We recently worked with the team from JAWKU to release an app and wristband that allows high performance athletes to precisely measure and track their speed. This was a fun but challenging project, so we thought we’d share a little about what went into the development of JAWKU Speed.

The Challenge

Every great product starts with a well defined challenge. JAWKU’s target audience is athletes who are training for speed-based competitions, such as the NFL combine testing, where split-second accuracy is critical. These tests are often seen as the gold standard by recruiters and they measure the key physical achievements necessary for an athlete to compete at a professional level.

At the highest levels of competition, the difference between the top 1% of athletes and the rest is just fractions of a second. For this reason, the combine tests use high tech testing equipment to accurately measure athletes speed. 

The challenge for these athletes is simple: How can they prepare for the combines and measure their speed with near absolute accuracy using a stopwatch - which is only as accurate as the person holding it.

The challenge itself comes down to two key components:

  1. Accuracy - It’s difficult to understand your measurements if they’re unreliable. If you aren’t familiar with combine testing, a running back’s 40yd dash time can make or break their college career.
  2. Consistency - If you can’t depend on your results being consistent, it’s impossible to know if you’re improving. High performing athletes don’t train like the rest of us– it’s not about whether they did an extra lap today. They spend months trying to shave 1/10th of a second off their times. It’s critical that every measurement is consistent with the last so you know you’re progressing. A human with a stopwatch has too much variance, and it introduces an additional cognitive burden that distracts the athlete from putting 100% of their focus into their performance.

The Solution

To solve this, the JAWKU team came up with an idea to pair a motion sensitive wristband with an iPhone. The wristband records the exact starting time - and the iPhone creates a photo finish accurate to .01 seconds. 

When JAWKU came to MEDL, they had already built a proof-of-concept. But the interface was not yet designed for prime time, and the results were inconsistent. We worked with JAWKU to create a complete user experience that is not only seamless for the athlete - it actually creates a new visual language that quickly helps an athlete identify their speed and their progress. 

We also worked to fine tune the firmware solution to make sure the product was accurate enough for the serious athletes who would be putting it to the test.

JAWKU Speed

Both MEDL and the JAWKU team are thrilled with the finished product. JAWKU Speed allows you to access professional training content, accurately measure your speed, and keep track of your running history to provide you with motivational results. Once the users wristband is paired with the app, an athlete can place their iPhone at the finish line, select their distance, and get moving. JAWKU will do the rest and provide you with your running time, reaction time, performance history, and notes. 

P.S. This was a very physical app to build. The whole MEDL team found it amusing to watch the QA team and the engineers run sprints in the parking lot in order to debug the software and put it through the paces. Although, our engineers weren’t fast enough to really push the device to the limit. Once we had things working properly it was time to take the testing to the next level. To ensure the accuracy we tested extensively against laser gate systems with JAWKU’s team of athletes.

Get fast in 2 steps:

1. Buy the Wristband - https://goo.gl/UDsxdN 

2. Download the Apphttps://goo.gl/k5EVfu

 

 

 

IMAGES SOURCE: https://www.facebook.com/jawkuspeed/

Build React Native Apps: Demo by MEDL Mobile

Just last month Wowza and MEDL Mobile performed a live coding demonstration at NAB.  We’re really pleased with the community response and having a partner like Wowza to develop such tools as their GoCoder SDK!  Check out their recap here:

Interested in learning more about mobile video and live streaming apps?  Contact us or Click here.

Why ASO Matters

Apple and Google continue to gain new users daily, and mobile app developers are taking advantage of the influx of users. App stores mainly operate off user searches, making app stores the largest channel of discovering mobile apps, installs and downloads. The best way for measuring and adjusting and app listing is called App Store Optimization, and it provides key considerations for optimizing any mobile app.

Developers need a unique way to market and create visibility for their apps in the stores, and without optimizing an app listing, they risk the possibility of not being seen at all. Here are specific reasons why ASO is important, and how utilizing these practices help developers optimize their apps better.

 

Indexing Apps: 

To better understand how to properly optimize an app’s listing, developers need to understand how Apple and Google index apps in their stores. Neither company has revealed specifically their indexing and ranking algorithms, but ASO providers have created their own app store intelligence platforms to aid developers. By studying this data, it becomes clear that there are ways to improve indexing and ranking by adjusting an app’s listing.

 

Keyword Relevancy and Metadata:

One of the first steps developers need to take in improving their app’s listing is to include phrase-building keywords that help expand an app’s visibility in the app stores. Keywords should be placed throughout an app’s title, description, screenshots and video, otherwise known as its metadata, to successfully optimize and build relevancy.

1) Keywords

Choosing the right keywords to focus on will build out the foundation of your optimization. In general, users search with 2-3 feature-based phrases. Using an app store intelligence tool that utilizes real mobile data, you’ll be well on your way to having your app be discovered in the app stores.

For the iOS App Store, Apple gives developers a space of 100 characters (including commas) to target those keywords. Google Play, however allows an endless number of keywords, but developers should narrow down their matrix to those that will be the most relevant ad unique to their app.

2) App Title

An app’s title holds a lot of weight in regards to how an app can rank for certain keywords. Choosing the right keywords will help developers boost relevancy for their essential terms and build targeted terms in the app stores. The title needs to be catchy enough that users are encouraged to read more about the app.

An app’s title is also essential for conversion. If you’re using features in your title, consider featuring your most popular feature first.

3) Screenshots and Video

While the title and description are important, screenshots and video do what they can’t by visually showing users what the app will do and its core features in action.  While the title and description create the biggest visibility for an app, the screenshots and video need to contain keywords to continue building relevancy and convert users.

Developers also need to keep in mind that users are the ones searching in the Apple and Google’s stores, and every part of the metadata needs to be targeting keywords or phrases that users might use to help build relevancy for those searches.

4) App Descriptions

The description, which is 4,000 characters, needs to focus on the app’s core features and functionality. Both pieces are incredibly crucial to build relevancy for the chosen keywords, and to help the app become more visible in the app stores.

 

Improving iOS App Descriptions:

An app’s description is part of its metadata and relies heavily on the use of relevant keywords. For an iOS description, the first five lines are the most important because only five lines are displayed before a user must click “more” to continue reading. iOS app developers should also keep in mind who their target audience is and tailor the description toward the target demographic for the app. Within every description, there should be a short, concise feature list that helps the audience understand the core features and how the app will benefit users. There should be a call to action that encourages users to download the app, and in this space, developers can use it to provide a support email, company page or any applicable privacy pages.

Throughout the entire description, however, developers need to use relevant, targeted keywords. Developers need to consider that every app description needs to be void of any typos or grammatical errors. Within that character limit, keywords need to be used correctly and naturally to avoid the dreaded term keyword stuffing, which is frowned upon because it feels obviously placed and forced.

 

Improving Google Play Descriptions:

Google has two fields to describe an app: Short Description and Long Description. Both descriptions are used to determine what an app can rank for.

The short description can only be 80 characters long, which limits the number of phrases and keywords the app can target. Developers should use this space to focus on the app’s core features. The Short Description is the first line of text a user will read and highlighting those features could affect conversion.

For the long description, developers need to have full coverage of relevant keywords and phrases to fully optimize an app. Create a description that is feature-forward and naturally emphasizes the relevant keywords and phrases. Google Play app developers need to think about their target audience and create shorter sentences and paragraphs that creates a smoother, easier read.

 

How ASO Helps:

ASO has become the new standard for mobile app marketing and it is proven to help create visibility for apps and convert users. If developers do not take the time to optimize an app listing, there is the possibility of the app not being found by users when they search in the App Store or Google Play.

By focusing on specific keywords and phrases, it builds relevancy during user searches and apps can index and rank better through the app stores. ASO practices teach developers how to improve their metadata (titles, description, etc.), which will help to convert more users in the long run.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Bell is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gummicube. In this role, Dave is responsible for overseeing the business strategy for the company, driving growth and market development. Dave is a pioneer of the mobile entertainment industry with more than 15 years of experience publishing, marketing and distributing mobile applications and games across carrier, direct to consumer and app store channels.

Canvas Vision - A Colorful Experiment

Our vision for Canvas Vision

For the recent OC Addy's, MEDL was given a blank canvas as part of a charity auction. Various agencies would all get creative and make something cool.  With our canvas, we produced an experimental art piece that tried to solve a basic problem.  Some people can't paint but want to make art.  After a bit of kicking ideas around, we landed on the idea that anyone can take a photo, and that just might be enough.  From there we looked at utilizing image recognition services and found that we could do a ton with color detection.    More on that later...

Back to the canvas

Being that the canvas was really a frame and we wanted to show something digital. We found an LED panel in a broken computer and went to town on creating an embedded display.  We used the computer's display and added a video controller circuit board and connectors.  The last piece was to give the system a brain and found the new Raspberry Pi-3 an easy decision.  We connected everything up, used a ton of solder and hot glue and BAM! Canvas monitor!!

 

The Canvas Aesthetic

To make it look and feel more like a canvas we decided to soften up everything a bit by using a semi-opaque film and wrapping the display in it.  The result was something that felt less industrial and simply pleasing to the eye.

The App and Bringing It All Together

A final piece to tie everything together was to create a way to make the canvas more active and provide an interactive means for a user to make their artwork.  We decided to build a photography app that would provide visual feedback of the dominant colors found in photos.  The app had a few changes and we decided to build the same functionality into a web page hosted on the Canvas Display.  It made perfect sense to use color swatches and so we focused the app's design around swatches.  You can see some earlier versions of the app's design in prototype to the most current in the image gallery below.

 

The Art

After playing with the color swatches we just experimented on how we could create abstract representations of color on the display.  In the gallery are some of those styles and the final product.  

 

To learn more about Canvas Vision and MEDL Mobile, contact kristle@medlmobile.com or come see it on display in our lobby 7 Studebaker Irvine, CA 92618

 

 

We Beat the Blerch

How do you bring a character to life in a retro-styled 8bit mobile gaming experience? This was the objective at hand in my first assignment as a lead designer for the game, Beat the Blerch. The Blerch is procrastination’s incarnate, created by Matthew Inman for the Oatmeal series, an iconic comic strip. 

I set out by by researching the Oatmeal website and looking at a graphic novel based on the comic series, “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances." I soon discovered the hilarity of the Blerch. For further inspiration, I also looked up some recent pixel based games like Canabalt and Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage and games from my childhood like Super Mario Bros and Sonic. The phenomenal pixel artist, Paul Robertson  was also a source of creative influence in the overall 90's nostalgia of my first designs and all their pixel glory.

After my initial designs, I decided to go with a homelier looking runner, desperately evading a monstrous Blerch. Adding a grayscale background with colored accents helped capture the beautifully crude style of Matthew Inman’s Oatmeal comics. Lines that are bold and varied in weight coupled with changing character proportions from panel to panel keep the style loose and funny.

Taking a step back, I felt Inman’s characters had too much personality to be boxed into an 8bit retro style. I addressed this by creating fully rendered runner characters in our next design deck. This felt more true to the way Inman had drawn them. The clients loved this touch!

By far Beat the Blerch has been my favorite project to work on. Not only did it incorporate my background in film and animation but it further enhanced the camaraderie between the departments. Sharing memories like watching our President’s face light up when Jeremy, our Junior Engineer added the Blerch character into the game scene for the first time. Or looking over and seeing our QA testers having fun debugging those early builds. At the end of it all, our team left their imprint and I my first shot as a lead designer wrapped in success.  

Building Your Marketing Strategy Before You Launch Your Mobile App

As you get ready to launch your mobile app, it's vital to build your marketing strategy before you launch. When you are excited about the development of your new app, you want your audience to feel the same way. You need to build up the hype around your app by getting customers who are anticipating the release date. Figuring out how you are going to capture the attention of app users and increasing the chances of a download will help make your app more successful once it launches.

Ask Your Audience for Opinions

Your app is an opportunity to solve a problem for your users, and asking for their opinion can make word-of-mouth efforts soar. Make your audience feel important by continuously asking questions. Users who feel like an important part of the process are going to spread the word about the app using social media to their friends and family.

Provide the app to your testers before the app launches. Listen to what they have to say about your product, and look for ways to make changes based on their feedback.

Develop Your Social Marketing Skills

Your social media strategy is going to make or break your new app. Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to begin building awareness about your brand and the new app you have created. Use your website to write a blog and to consistently update. You can share links to your content using a texting software platform by sending out an automation text at pre-planned intervals. Make sure that if you are sending individuals to your website because of your newly launched app, your site contains the app for download.

Keep Generating Blog Traffic

Once you develop your social media platforms, you have to keep writing posts for your blog. Every time you write a new post, share it on your social media accounts. You can offer deals to customers if they share your post, such as a discount for when the app officially launches. 

Collect Emails and Create an Opt-In Texting Campaign

You need to have a way to connect with your potential app users by collecting emails when they visit your website or by encouraging users to opt-in to your texting campaign. Once you begin growing your database of customers, you'll want to start sending out strategic emails to get users excited about your upcoming app launch. Try to get users excited about what you have to offer without inundating them with boring, irrelevant messages. 

Focus on Your Press Kit

Your press kit is often the first experience people will have with your app. Talk about your app and provide just enough information to get people wanting to learn more. Write down the official website where you can find your app, and be clear about the release date. Focus on getting quality screenshots, and create a short promotional video. In addition, contact bloggers in your industry and ask for a review of your app when it's ready to launch.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ken Rhie is the CEO of Trumpia, a complete SMS software with mas SMS messaging, smart targeting and automation.

What in the Synth!

Synthesizers are a rhythmic and experimental way to create sounds that other instruments do not. The MEDL team joined together for a Lunch & Learn where our Chief of Tech, Tom Ward discussed the awesome world of building and playing with synthesizers. If you're looking to experiment with such, here are a few take-aways for creating your own sound: 

1. Start - get some sound going to start from and build from there.  

2. Dial-in and make adjustments to shape the sound for a better starting point. 

3. Add effects like delay and reverb. 

4. Use control voltage to change the pitch and create melody. Adjust the filter cut off to achieve more or less frequencies. 

5. Tweak things to give the sound more variety and a more organic sounding nature.