Tag Archives: mobile apps

I just wanted a coffee but the Dunkin’ app stole my money. Update – Problem solved!

Fix your damn app - and site!

Fix your damn app – and site!

If you know me, you know that I’m mobile obsessed.

Yes. Obsessed.

For the past nine or ten years, I’ve been immersed in mobile.

Mobile marketing, mobile websites, mobile apps, mobile devices.

Mobile. Mobile. Mobile.

As a self-professed advocate, I’m constantly extolling the virtues of mobile.

Especially apps.

Apps, to me, are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

They’ve got all the utility of a mobile site, without the need (for the most part) for an internet connection.

Utility apps are my favorite.

If I can get something done faster, in fewer steps, or using my phone in lieu of pulling out my wallet, or keys or ID, then it’s worth it.

So when Dunkin’ Donuts came out with their Dunkin’ app, I was ecstatic.

I’m always going to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks.

I blame the wife – a coffee whore (and I mean that in the kindest possible way) and the kids.

I’m constantly making runs for egg and cheese croissants, donuts and coffee.

I was parting with my cash regularly with no other perk than a free donut if I filled out their survey online – very analog.

Dunkin’ Donuts perks were a big donut hole.

Unlike Starbucks, whose loyalty program gave me free coffee, iTunes music and app downloads, discounts, coupons, the works.

Starbucks treated me like they cared.

Dunkin’ not so much.

But then one day I discovered the Dunkin’ app, and immediately set out to add it to my collection.

Having previously used the Starbucks app, I figured the Dunkin’ app would be along the same lines.

Download the app. Charge it up. Present it at the point of sale. Earn rewards. Get perks.

Simple, right?

Wrong!

For one, there are like three or four different apps in the app store (albeit by different developers – but you get my drift).

So many choices!

So many choices!

Once you figure out which one you’re supposed to be using, it required an advanced degree in game theory to figure out exactly how to use it.

All I wanted to do was put some money on the damn thing!

Is that so hard?!!

Eventually, I was able to figure it all out, put money on my account and complete a transaction using their app.

The sense of accomplishment was short lived, though.

A few days after I got the app working, I upgraded my 64GB iPhone 6 Plus to the 128 GB version, and had to restore by new device from my iTunes backup, which essentially wiped all my stored passwords and forced me to log in to each one anew.

By itself, that wasn’t so bad, since all my passwords are stored in 1Password and I simply had to cut and paste to get back up and running.

That is, except for the Dunkin’ app.

For some reason, it wouldn’t take my password.

So I did what anyone faced with a similar scenario would do, I clicked “Forgot Password” fully expecting to walk through the fairly routine process of recovering or resetting my password.

But that would have been too much like right.

Instead of getting a confirmation screen telling me that my password (or instructions for resetting my password) had been sent to my email, I got a “We are currently experiencing technical difficulty and are unable to process your request” message.

Dunkin' app technical difficulties

Wait. What?

Confused by this seemingly ill-timed error message, I tried again – and got the same message.

Technical difficulties processing a “forgot password” request?

A horrible user experience at a critical moment.

Oh, did I mention that I was standing at the register of Dunkin’ Donuts, with several frustrated customers behind me watching me fumble with the app?

My frustration was all the more palpable because (prior to swapping devices) I had loaded my account with $25, which I could not use.

Flustered, I pulled out my bank card and swiped – angrily – snatched my order from the counter (which I no longer wanted) and stomped away in a huff.

For the next few days, I repeatedly tried to log in – unsuccessfully, before relenting and visiting the Dunkin’ Donuts website.

And you know what happened when I got there?

The same damn thing that happened on the app!

We are currently experiencing technical difficulty and are unable to process your request.

Really? So you're planning on fixing this when?

Really? So you’re planning on fixing this when?

Sonofabitch!

On your site? Technical difficulties on your site?

Is sending an email with password recovery instructions a technically challenging activity?

This borders on lunacy.

So what am I left with?

What am I to make of this?

Well that’s easy.

Dunkin’ Donuts is stealing my money by preventing me from accessing my account and make purchases using the funds I’ve uploaded to the Dunkin’ app.

Their “technical difficulties” are subterfuge allowing them to hold my monies hostage and force me to use my bank card depriving me of precious points, perks or rewards.

Dunkin’ Donuts, get your act together.

Fix your technical difficulties.

Or give me back my money.

The Starbucks app still works and I need to reload.

Note: Prior to penning this post, I sent Dunkin’ Donuts an email on their site, an email from the app, and tweet asking for assistance. As of this posting they have been radio silent.

Update 2/12/15: Dunkin’ Donuts’ customer service send me a response giving me the steps to recover my password, which I had already done – and was still broken.

Update 2/27/15: Problem solved! After waiting on hold for an hour to speak to a customer service representative, we determined that I had registered with “.con” at the end of my email address, instead of “.com.” I told the rep who helped me that the more appropriate error message to keying in an incorrect email address should have been something like “The email address you have provided is not in our records. Please check the address and try again.” and not “Sorry, we are currently experiencing technical difficulty and are unable to process your request.” With the error message DD provided, one would never realize that they may have made an error keying in their email address, as I did.

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Best of the Best. The Webby Awards.

The Webby AwardsDid you catch the Webbys?

You know, the annual award show that celebrates excellence in the internet?

Well not excellence in the internet, but excellence of the internet.

Actually, it’s not just of the internet.

It’s websites really.

And interactive advertising and media.

Also online film and video.

Oh yeah, and mobile apps too.

And social web, I think.

Let’s try this again.

The Webby Award honors exceptional work on websites, interactive advertising and media, online film and video, mobile apps and social web.

The New York Times calls The Webbys “the Internet’s highest honor.”

I think this means it’s a big deal.

In it’s 17th year, The Webbys brings together some of the most innovative and creative minds to pay homage and acknowledge some of the tremendous work being done in the online, social media and interactive space.

For we geeks, it’s like the Oscars of the online and interactive world.

Win a Webby and you are somebody.

This year’s Special Achievement honorees include Steve White (“JIF” not “GIF”) Frank Ocean, Kevin Spacey, Grimes, Obama for America 2012, Chris Kluwe and Tribal DDB Worldwide, among others.

And nominees ranged from Funny or Die to The Onion, Mashable to Tumblr, Google to Ted Ed – and everything in between.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Webby Awards, it’s all good.

It is a thing of geekdom.

And unless you’re into the internet, mobile, apps, advertising or social media, you probably don’t care.

And that’s cool.

But if you’re interested, The Webby’s gives out over a hundred awards each year, to the best and brightest among us.

Yes. I included myself in the running for “best and brightest.”

Don’t trip.

Each year, two awards are giving out  in various categories: The Webby Award and the People’s Voice Award.

Winners of The Webby Award is selected by the members of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

While the People’s Voice Award winners are selected by the people, via online voting.

Now if you visit the site, you will be overwhelmed.

There are over one hundred different categories and the page of the website listing the winners and nominees scrolls endlessly.

So here are my faves:

Mobile Advertising

Best Use of Social Media

Media Streaming

Best User Experience Tumblr

Web Services and Applications

There were infinitely more categories and winners.

And as I was going through them all, I realized that it was better to simply give you the link to check out the full site, winners and nominees for yourself.

I know, I know.

I originally said that you’d be overwhelmed if you visited the site.

But I was getting overwhelmed, and we can’t have that.

I’m just saying.

There are loads of videos, memes, and content galore, so give yourself a chunk of time to go in.

It’s taken me two days to get this out, just because I took such a deep dive.

And I couldn’t figure out what to write about.

It was all so compelling.

Especially all the mobile stuff.

Nerdy right?

Whatev.

So, if you want to know what the most amazing web, online, social media and interactive stuff of 2012 was, peep The Webby Awards site.

If not, kick rocks!

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Track that App! Native Event Tracking is a must.

hand-tapping-iphone

If you’ve got an app in the App Store or with Google Play, you’re probably fixated with how your app is performing.

You probably get some sort of report, letting you know how many downloads or purchases of your respective app occurred over some pre-defined period.

And this report represents a measure of your apps success.

Right?

Wrong!

There are all kinds of tools out there that help you track the performance of your mobile app.

There are basic tools, which tell you how many times your app has been downloaded (which you can typically get from the respective app stores).

And others which tell you about conversions, time on app, entry and exit points.

But these tools offer only the most basic insight into the success (or lack thereof) of your app.

More sophisticated tools let you capture details about usage and engagement.

If you want to dig a little deeper beneath the surface, you can track native events – the specific taps, swipes and scrolls that define mobile application usage.

In my humble opinion, native event tracking is the sweet spot when it comes to apps.

What exactly users are doing with my app.

If your app is a basic wrapper app or a launcher, with a simple native entry point sitting atop a complete mobile web experience, then read no further.

This post isn’t for you.

But if you’ve got a truly native application, which takes full advantage of the device’s API, then you’re going to want to know much more than you’re getting from a download report.

If you’re really interested in understanding precisely what users are doing with your app, after they’ve downloaded and installed it – beyond open, close and time spent – then read on.

If you’ve spent the kind of time that I have with apps, app developers and clients, you know that metrics are supremely important.

No reputable company would launch a website without ensuring that their Google Analytics dashboard was popping (or some other form of online data tracking).

But what about your mobile apps?

Are you paying attention to the events taking place on the device itself, beyond the mobile web entry and endpoints that may be accessed by the app?

Apps provide a deeper level of engagement than a standard mobile website.

So being able to leverage the native features and functions of a mobile device, thereby driving deeper levels of engagement, means that you can capture vitally rich information from each and every user.

Tracking usage patterns of the mobile apps you develop can aid your brand determine where to add (or withdraw) development resources to maximize user engagement.

And that’s where native event tracking come in.

As the name explains, ‘native event tracking’ refers to the tracking (=recording, capture and storage) of the native (=occurring on the mobile device) events (=interactions with the app).

And while Google is the top of the food chain when it comes to online analytics, there are a couple of other players in the native event tracking space.

For example, there’s Flurry, which provides SDKs for mobile application developers interested in tracking usage patterns.

There’s AppClix from Mobile Visions, which has a comprehensive dashboard that integrates easily with other analytics providers, like Flurry, Pinch Media or Localytics.

Omniture by Adobe, which is perhaps one of the more recognizable names in the game, also offers mobile application developers with native tracking tools.

Their native SDKs allow you to measure applications across a host of mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, PhoneGap, Windows 8, Symbian and Blackberry.

And there’s also Tracker, whose API allows you to implement usage tracking and analytics in mobile applications.

There are a host more, of both the paid and open source variety, which can all adequately track mobile application usage to a greater or lesser degree.

But for me, one stands out above the rest.

And it’s (one again) Google.

Having recently worked on a project utilizing Google’s Analytics for Mobile Apps SDK, I can say that it’s the most robust and comprehensive native events tracking application I’ve worked with.

The great thing about it, is that it’s totally customizable.

Does your app allow users to swipe, pinch, tap, scroll, press, shake, toggle?

Then you can track it all with Google.

Using a very basic methodology: _trackEvent (category, action, opt_label, opt_value, opt_noninteraction) you’re able to generate supremely in-depth user engagement data from mobile applications.

The best thing about using Google’s event tracking protocols is that it’s FREE!

In addition, if you’re already using Google for your web analytics, the dashboard and reports are virtually the same.

Now, to each, his or her respective own.

Having worked with GA for a minute, it’s my SDK of choice.

But if you’re working with an app developer, one question to ask is how they intend (or what mechanism they intend to use) to track native events.

And if you’re developing apps on your own, do not neglect native event tracking.

There’s no better way to learn about (and leverage) your users’ behavior.

Class dismissed.

Now get out there and track those apps!

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Filed under apps, digital advocacy, mobile

The difference between an app and a mobile site is…

The other day, I nearly smacked the sh*t out of my wife.

Or rather, I had the urge to smack the sh*t out of my wife.

Now, I’m not a violent person.

Nor do I support domestic violence of any kind.

But she asked me a question…

So vile…

So base….

That it took every sinew in my body to restrain myself.

What, pray tell, did she ask to create such an impassioned emotional response?

“What’s the difference (between an app and a mobile site)?”

Can you believe it?

The nerve of this heifer.

I’ve been married to this broad for almost 13 years.

I’ve been in the mobile app/technology space for over a decade.

Over this period, I regaled her with stories of my exploits in cyberspace.

I converted her from a cave dwelling savage to a member of civilized society.

Where once stood a technophobe, now exists a technophile.

I brought her from a clamshell to a smartphone.

Raised her from the ignorance of PCs to the enlightenment of Apple.

Brought her from the dark of online social isolation to the light of social media and networking.

But, I digress.

Why did I want to inflict bodily harm?

Well, she was “pinning” on her Droid II and remarked how fluid the Pinterest mobile website was.

I casually remarked that if the mobile site worked so well, that the app would probably work better.

Following my advice, she fumbled around trying to locate the link to the Google Play Store on her device before realizing that the app was already installed.

Apparently, months ago, when she became the Pinterest-junkie she is today, I had installed the app to feed her voracious pinning appetite.

She had been using the app for a hot minute, thinking she was on their mobile site.

It was then, that she uttered those three dreaded words: what’s the difference.

They cut me like a knife.

She was looking down at her phone and didn’t see the murderous rage in my eyes.

We were in a public place (Ruby Tuesday) with the kids, so I channeled my inner Shaolin monk to avoid lunging across the table and throttling her.

Could she really not know the difference?

Maybe all the times she feigned sleep as I recounted my days’ work, she was really dozing off and not paying attention.

I should have known, with all those Help Desk moments, assisting her to remotely recover a file she thought she had deleted or locate a download on her computer.

Perhaps she was…daft?

My rage was quickly replaced by pity for my poor ignorant spouse, who continually failed to avail herself of her husband’s brilliance.

And it dawned on me.

If my bottom bitch didn’t know the difference between an app and a mobile site, perhaps my thirteen readers didn’t either.

I must right this wrong.

First, let’s start with definitions.

An app is a software application that’s written in the language of the mobile platform upon which it operates.

A mobile site is a website that has been optimized for browsing on mobile devices.

Now lets look at the primary differences between them, in the areas of: access, connectivity, content and compatibility.

Access

Apps are usually accessed directly from the mobile device. Typically, there is an icon for the particular app you wish to utilize, which launches the app. Click it and you’re off!

Mobile sites, on the other hand are usually accessed from within the mobile web browser. In order to access a mobile site, you’ve got to open up your browser, plug in the URL and hit enter. On many smartphones, though, you can now create a shortcut, which allows you to save the location of the web page as an icon on your device, which then opens up like an app.

Connectivity

Apps are usually available whether you’re online or offline. While many apps require an Internet or wifi connection to update their content, most are built to be used regardless of whether a connection exists. Typically, if a user is offline they can continue to use their app, and it will update once they’re in range of a signal.

Mobile sites require a cellular or wifi connection to be used. If you’re not in range of a wifi signal or rocking a device with a robust 3G or 4G, then connecting to a mobile site will be slightly…problematic.

Content

When you’re on an app, the content in the app can be stored on the device, pulled from the web and downloaded to the device, or both. Most game apps usually have content stored on the device. They user isn’t required to be online in order to play. Many games in the Apple app store, however, are now adding Game Center capabilities, which allow you to play against other users remotely. Game center content requires an Internet or wifi connection.

If you’re on a mobile site, the content is only available online. If you can’t get online, you can’t get to the content of the mobile site you’re trying to reach. Period. If you’ve got cached web pages, they’ll appear when you open up your browser, but once you try to load/reload that page, you’re screwed.

Compatibility

Apps are designed specifically for the devices they operate upon. An iOS app will not work on an Android device. An Android app will not work on an IOS device. And nothing works on Blackberries. Compatibility is not really the forte of apps.

Mobile sites, on the other hand, are compatible across devices and browsers. With the exception of Flash (which still does not work on iOS devices) most features and functions on mobile sites work on virtually all mobile devices.

My sweet ignorant wife got the abridged version of this breakdown.

Hopefully it stuck.

In my pity, I no longer harbored the desire to smack the shit out of her.

While my pimp hand is strong, so is my compassion for the enfeebled.

Hopefully my explanation of the differences between apps and mobile sites are too.

Note to my wife: If you’re reading this blog, these are just jokes. I never want to smack the shit out of you…except when you’re talking to me while sports are on the tele…or when you prattle on endlessly about inane topics you know I could give a fuck about…or when you get on me for being on my phone. But aside from that, you know I loves you.

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