Tag Archives: Shazam

It shouldn’t be so hard to fall in love. An expert’s review of the Apple Watch.

Apple_Watch_OmniFocus

Late last year I let one of my friends borrow my Apple Watch and take it for a test drive.

His wife was contemplating buying him one for his birthday, but he wasn’t quite sure he wanted her to drop that kind of cash for what I had already told him was an expensive toy.

The basic issue (beyond cost) was whether the utility of the Apple Watch justified being perpetually monitored.

For him, unless the Apple Watch did something materially better than the iPhone, he wasn’t interested in having Apple (or anyone for that matter) knowing exactly where he was at all times.

And he wasn’t one of those always-on-his-phone types, so I knew that not being tracked (or trackable) was not some conspiracy theorist type objection, but a very real objection he had to this always-on culture of today.

So it was not without a bit of excitement that I handed over my watch, knowing that dude was about to go in on the Apple Watch.

You see, I’m a casual user of my Apple Watch.

I’ve never been so impressed with it that I took a deep dive to uncover the little kernels of goodness that would covert me into a fan.

My initial critiques weren’t positive.

The watch face is small.

Navigation isn’t terribly intuitive.

Doesn’t have a heck of a whole lot of utility beyond glances.

And as a casual user, I felt that my perspective was uninformed.

But now I had someone who was willing to apply a very scientific approach and take the Apple Watch through it’s paces.

Mark Hines aka “Yoda” aka “He Who Sees the Future” aka “The Brain” was going to go completely desconstruct the Apple Watch and share his feedback with me.

A bit of background on his testing is in order.

There are three (3) primary apps Mark rocks on his iPhone in order of importance: OmniFocus, Remote and Wink.

OmniFocus (which I’ve written about before) is a personal task manager that lets you capture thoughts and ideas into lists which you can then parse and organize.

Remote is the iOS app which allows you to control you iOS devices via your iPhone.

Wink is a smart home app that lets you control connected home appliances from your iPhone.

Combined with apps like Shazam, these apps were the apps that factored significantly in Mark’s daily flow and the ones he wanted to test on the Apple Watch.

One month later, he felt he had arrived at a place where he could report back.

It was not good.

His initial impression was that as another iOS device, it should have been plug-and-play right out of the box.

But it was anything but that.

It was – inelegant.

He went into excruciating detail about the level of effort required to get OmniFocus to work on the Apple Watch (similar to how he had set it up on the iPhone) and the workflow hacks he needed to have Wink work in a more streamlined fashion than was possible out-the-box.

One of his biggest hurdles was having Siri send reminders not to the default To-Do list or calendar, but to OmniFocus instead, which involved working with the cats at Omni (big ups to The Omni Group) who took Mark’s feedback and incorporated them into subsequent builds, which enabled him to hit that ‘sweet spot’.

Besides the limitations of the Watch version os most apps, the one thing that drove Mark absolutely bonkers was the fact that if you were outside the range of your iPhone, the Apple Watch was rendered – essentially – useless.

Mind you, Mark lives in a modestly sized apartment.

So you can imagine his chagrin being in another room, less than 30 feet away from his iPhone, and finding that the watch was no longer connected.

Having to be cognizant of where the phone was, relative to the location of the watch, felt counterintuitive, especially considering the Apple Watch’s promise to free the user from their phones.

The reality is that you’ve still got an invisible tether, requiring you to stay close to your phone or lose functionality.

Sure, some things still work, but none of the basic things you’d probably want like messaging, Mail, the phone, Maps, Camera Remote, Weather, and Stocks.

These features rely on an active data connections or GPS signals, neither of which an Apple Watch can do without an iPhone.

Siri also won’t work as it requires a data connection to process commands.

I could give you a watered down version of his assessment, but I’ll just share his actual written report.

Report to Stephen:

I been keeping a journal. Really hated it the 1st week. Took DUMB troubleshooting and tech support to get OmniFocus working. Then further calibration to make it behave the way I wanted…Yesterday was the 1st full day having it actually do the things I envisioned.

I don’t hate it now, but need to exercise it. OmniFocus, Remote and Wink (home automation) are the sweet spot for me. Without those, I definitely wouldn’t care for this at all. With them, I may be on the brink of something special.

No, dude, I literally hated it.

I hit an ill stride today where I can spit into it and I’m catching OmniFocus gems I have lost many times before ‘cuz I was looking around for my phone and when I found it, I forgot what I was gonna put in.

Getting stuff in my head, out and into Omni, path of least resistance, is pure gold. I’ll know in like a week what’s really hood. I know they average cat ain’t jumping thru all these hoops I am so, the thing out the box is under impressive.

You gave a totally accurate review.

Omni’s support was solid but they didn’t have the solution. I created one and shared it back with them. I couldn’t even install that shit onto the watch till Tuesday.

I don’t think a nigga should have to try so hard to fall in love.

A nigga shouldn’t have to try so hard to fall in love.

Deep.

 

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Apple Watch, mobile, technology

Shazam. It’s not your grandmother’s listening device.

Man uses an ear trumpet

Last week, I took the kids to see Daddy’s Home, with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg.

During the pre-previews (the drivel that they show you before they actually show upcoming movie previews), there was an ad with a Shazam logo in the bottom left corner of the screen.

For those of you familiar with Shazam, you know to whip out our phone and open the Shazam app whenever you see that logo.

Usually, when you Shazam, you’ll get details about a particular song.

Can’t remember the name of that song on the radio? Shazam it.

Forgot which label released this song by your favorite artist? Shazam it.

Unable to recall the name of the artist pumping out of the store’s speakers? Shazam it.

You get my drift.

If you need to identify a song, Shazam was the app for you.

Although not quite as ubiquitous as “Xerox”, the term “Shazam” has essentially become synonymous with music identification.

But sitting in the theater, Shazam was prompting me to open it up and get details for some innocuous promotion or another.

You can imagine my amazement being asked to Shazam for non-music identification purposes.

Please try to contain your excitement, I’m not done.

And this was not the first time that I was asked to Shazam for a non-music discovery end.

The last time was during some weekend football preview show a few weeks ago.

The show segment was brought by Coke Zero and during the segment the Shazam logo appeared on screen as the sports casters talked about Coke.

The gist of their banter was that I could get a free Coke if I Shazamed before the segment ended.

Not to miss out on an opportunity to get some free shit, I did and got this.

Shazam was on some straight promotions shit!

Now, if you’ve ever used Shazam, you know that they’ve got ads a plenty.

No big deal.

Shazam a song and you’ll get back a result plus a bunch of music-related ads from Pandora, Rhapsody or iTunes.

Pandora, iTunes, Rhapsody Ad

Scroll further down the page, and the ads become less music-related and now you’re just being marketed at.

Salesforce Ad

Usually, these ads are a minor nuisance – an ancillary element of the result that’s being returned.

So it’s not totally unheard of that Coke Zero was leveraging it for promotional purposes.

But what made it unique was that it was only returning the Coke Zero ad and no music.

Seeing it again at the movies reinforced the fact that Shazam is looking to expand it’s utility beyond music identification into marketing and advertising.

Personally, I think it’s a smart move.

We live in an era where folks routinely rock and use multiple devices simultaneously.

We watch TV while tweeting.

We surf the internet while shopping.

Folks are already used to Shazaming to get song info.

Why not Shazam to get a free Coke, or enter a sweepstake, or even schedule a test drive while we’re at it?

The possibilities are limitless.

I’m curious to see where else that Shazam logo is going to show up.

Have you seen a noteworthy implementation of Shazam recently? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Leave a comment

Filed under technology

There’s (Already) An App For That. Just Make Your’s Better!

I think I've got an idea...maybe not.

So the other day, I thought I had a killer idea for an app.

It was a variation of the peek-a-boo pens from back in the day.

You know, the ones where you flip the pen and the girl’s clothes disappear revealing her undergarments.

I shared the idea with a few people, who were also of the impression that I had a killer app idea on my hands.

I was brainstorming for a client that caters to ‘adult’ themed entertainment – not personal, mind you.

The idea was so good that I raced home to sketch a few ideas out on OmniGraffle.

But then it hit me…

This idea was too good.

Not that I’m a dunce or anything, but I couldn’t imagine that an idea this good hadn’t been done already.

So I Googled it.

And wouldn’t you know, my app idea had been done – by no less than four different developers.

They were all variations on a theme, and each executed with varying degrees of aplomb.

Mind you, I come up with apps all the times.

Clients are constantly asking me what they should do, and I’m a wellspring for app ideas.

The one thing that I tell all my clients, is to find an app out there, that they like and think works well, and improve upon it.

With over half a million apps in the iTunes App Store alone, it’s very likely that any idea you’e got (as I found out) has already been done.

And that’s not to say that original apps aren’t still being created.

It’s just that it’s unlikely that most of us will come up with something that is truly original.

And that’s okay.

The reality of it, is that you wouldn’t necessarily want to be the first app to do one thing or another.

Unless you knock it out of the park on your first try, you’re probably going to have an app that’s buggy, and delivers an ‘ok’ user experience at best.

Believe me.

I’ve created a number of novel web and mobile applications that, despite how hyped and excited as we were about it, our initial market trials were…not good.

But what we did learn from those experiences, was that being second (or even third) to market was useful, because it gave you invaluable insight into what your competitors were doing.

It also helped you figure out what the market would bear (i.e. should your app be premium or free).

The most important thing you can get from building an app based on a pre-existing app, is that there is room for more than one.

Photo sharing app.

Think Instagram and Path (and now Wyst).

Music identification apps.

Or Shazam and SoundHound.

Checkin apps - there sure are a bunch of 'em!

And how about Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, SCVNGR, and now Yelp for Mobile.

You get the picture.

This underscores my point that even if your app idea has already been done, you can still make a mark or carve out a niche by doing something – even just one thing – better than the rest.

So don’t be discouraged if you find that you idea for the next killer app has been co-opted by someone else.

Check them out. Bide your time. And once the feedback starts coming in about what they did wrong, drop yours!

What’s your killer app idea? Wait…don’t tell me…it’s been done already. Right?

Leave a comment

Filed under apps, branding, digital advocacy, mobile

I’ve been hard on Shazam. But SoundHound is better.

Shazam is good, but SoundHound is better!

I’ve never been a fan of Shazam, the music identification app, that ‘listens’ to a few seconds of a song, and then tells you the name of the artist, title and other info on the song.

As an early adopter of the app, I was greatly disappointed by the number of times that Shazam crashed, didn’t or couldn’t identify the song I was listening to.

It’s hit/miss ratio was like 1 in 4.

And to me, that sucked!

What made it worse was the fact that Shazam was everywhere!

Despite it’s poor performance, folks were acting like it was the best thing since sliced bread.

And then I found SoundHound.

SoundHound is another music identification app, that works just like Shazam.

Press the SoundHound button, it starts listening to a music stream, and then identifies the song you’re listening to.

The big difference was that SoundHound almost always identified the songs I was listening to.

When I found SoundHound, I ditched Shazam, and haven’t looked back since.

However, last weekend (or was it the weekend before last?) I watched several Super Bowl ads with the Shazam logo, and I blasted Shazam in one of my post-Super Bowl posts.

But since it had been some time since I actually used the app, I thought that I might have been a bit harsh, and that Shazam deserved a re-do.

So I re-installed the app on my iPhone and gave it a whirl (again).

I decided that I’d do a side-by-side comparison between SoundHound (my new favorite music id app) and Shazam.

To make things interesting, I selected radio stations at random (from whatever I have programmed on the boom box in the kitchen) and held up my iPhone using both Shazam and SoundHound.

In each instance, I wanted to see which app found the song first (assuming they both found the song), and what information they returned when they did.

I listened to The Motto, by Drake featuring Lil Wayne on Hot 97 FM, Il Andante con motto, by the Slovak Philharmonic on 88.3 FM WBGO, One of those Days, by Whitney Houston on 98.7 Kiss FM, How Will I Know, by Whitney Houston on 107.5 WBLS (Whitney stays on rotation these days), and Levels by Avicii on 103.5 KTU.

Afterwards, I listened to Little Child Runnin Wild, by Curtis Mayfield on the Superfly album, to test how long each app took to capture the info from the same starting point.

In my testing (and to my surprise) Shazam was able to locate and identify every song except one.

Shazam mis-identified The Motto as the remix version by Jeremih (featuring Drake) although it was the standard version.

In every single instance, SoundHound returned information faster than Shazam.

This was the case regardless of which app I tested first, the song or volume (I tested the apps at both high and low volumes).

Both apps returned the majority of album artwork, although Shazam failed to provide artwork for two titles.

While Shazam did okay in my non-scientific head to head song identification comparison, there were a few areas in which SoundHound was unmatched.

The first is that in addition to listening to an actual song, SoundHound can identify a song if you sing or hum a few bars of the song (this worked well when I sang ‘Who The Cap Fits’ by Bob Marley).

SoundHound's results include the streaming lyrics right on the page.

A second is the streaming lyrics that are displayed right in the interface, and following along with the song in real time.

There are other little things that I like about SoundHound over Shazam, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much Shazam worked on this trial (versus how it worked when I originally copped it).

I did a little survey on the internet to see how other folks feel about the whole Shazam vs. SoundHound debate.

While Shazam clearly has the better marketing behind it, the universal unofficial opinion among users is that SoundHound is the better of the two.

But don’t take my word for it.

Take them both for a spin and tell me what you think!

10 Comments

Filed under apps, iPhone, mobile, opinion, technology

Nicki Minaj’s Grammy Performance. Can we say train wreck?

I was originally going to write about my recent experience over the weekend with SoundHound, Shazam and Quora, but in light of the veritable explosion last night over the Grammy awards, I had a change of heart.

If you didn’t see the Grammies last night, then you missed (yet another) lackluster awards show.

But if you were patient enough to sit through three hours of the music industry’s self-congratulatory adulation, and LL Cool J’s (awkward and painful) attempt at charm and wit as the night’s host, then you might have witnessed what was undoubtedly the most exceptional event of the evening: Nicki Minaj.

Nicki’s Minaj’s performance of Roman’s Revenge received the WTF!? Award for it’s sheer theatrical lunacy.

Titled “The Exorcism of Roman,” Minaj channeled her demonic alter-ego for a crazed, out-of-pitch, barely intelligible five-minute performance, which ended with her floating mid-air above the stage.

If you didn’t see it, please accept my apologies for posting it here:

The response on the Twitter-sphere was almost unamimous: Nicki Minaj was wilding (and her performance was garbage).

Here are a few choice Tweets.

I'm embarrassed. Nicki Minaj should be too.

Compared to Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga seems...normal?

Please, please, please...make it stop!

While I’m sure that Nicki Minaj fans will say that this was the greatest Grammy performance ever (they’re drinking the Kool Aid), the rest of us, who don’t have our heads up Nicki’s (allegedly) surgically augmented derrière, would likely beg to differ.

I can say this much, about her performance, Nicki Minaj pulled out all the stops.

To what end?

That remains to be seen.

But if Nicki’s intent was to get people talking…mission accomplished.

Leave a comment

Filed under opinion, rant, Smack talking, social media

What Would Stephen Do? (WWSD): Five Social Media Solutions for Super Bowl XLVII

Not Steve Jobs! Stephen Chukumba! What Would Stephen (Chukumba) Do?!

So I’ve spent the past two days bitchin’ and complaining engaged in thoughtful dialogue about what advertisers did wrong with their Super Bowl commercials, from a social media perspective.

Sure, I was disappointed, but what would I do differently, if any of those brands had hired me or my firm to manage their social media efforts?

So without further ado, What Would Stephen Do (WWSD) to make Super Bowl XLVII commercials more socially engaging?

1.  Seed. If you’re a marketer, you knew that the ads that ran during the Super Bowl were available before the big game. Only a select few knew this. Why? Why not make these commercials available to your active social media audience?

Everyone who has ‘liked’ your Facebook page, followed you on Twitter or belonged to any of your social media networks should have received a private message letting them know that the commercial was going to be available before the game.

They should have been encouraged to give their feedback and share, share, share! In this way, advertisers would have given their loyal followers exclusive, first-look access, and built valuable in-roads with folks who were already interested and advocates of their brands.

For Super Bowl XLVII, I’d make sure that I seeded my audience with snippets, trailers, teasers, sizzle reels, behind-the-scenes, and other exclusive content to prime them for the big show.

2.  Give Explicit Calls To Action. One of the greatest issues I had with the commercials which aired Sunday, was the absolute lack of clear calls to action. What <brand name here> did you want me, the viewer, to do?

Hey Chevy! You and your apocalypse ad. Was I supposed to stock up on Twinkies? I know you want me to buy your cars, but you could tell me to visit your Facebook page, website or something!

I would have explicit calls to action included in all my commercials. I.e. “Text CHEVY to 37619 from your mobile device to schedule a test drive.” Or “‘Like’ Chevy on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chevy to learn more abou the new Silverado.” Or “Visit us on YouTube at http://youtu.be/XxFYYP8040A to watch our Silverado Super Bowl ad and share it with your friends!”

3. Rewards & Giveaways. You’ve got to give something to get something. In social media, the law of reciprocity is understood. So if I were advising any of these brands, I would make rewards and giveaways an explicit part of my strategy.

Several brands integrated Shazam into their commercials. If you used Shazam to find out the title and artist of the song in the commercial, I <brand name here> would send you the song as a free download.

Everyone who “liked” my car company on Facebook would be offered a free test drive. “Like” my beverage or snack company and get a coupon for a free sample. Tweet my hashtag, and get a discount when you file your next tax return with my company or register for insurance.

There is no greater way to build brand loyalty, than to give things away. And give sh*t away, we would!

4.   Contests. The NFL was the only brand that understood the inherent value of running a contest. The commercial for the NFL Perfect Fantasy promotion, ran throughout the Super Bowl, was the only contest from any of the brands.

If I were advising a car manufacturer, the contest would have given a way a new vehicle (or a lease for a year). A food, beverage or snack brand, free beverages/snacks for life. Tax brand, free tax preparation. Clothing retailer, free wardrobe. Insurance company, no premium policy.

I could go on and on.

Regardless of the brand, I would incentivize social media participation and sharing with a contest.

5.  Polling. One clear opportunity that was lost to everyone who aired a commercial during the Super Bowl, was the chance to find out what their audiences thought.

Did you like the first quarter? First half? Half-time show? Our commercial? Our product? The Super Bowl? Who do you think is going to win? What do you think the score will be? Who do you think will be the game’s MVP?

Anyone/everyone could have asked probing, insightful, or humorous questions easily.

Aside (one again) from the NFL, which asked people to vote for the MVP of the game, there were absolutely NO POLLS. WTF!

With people sitting captive for over four hours watching the game, WITH THEIR CONNECTED DEVICES (which they were obviously using the entire time!!!) not one brand thought, “Hmmm…maybe we should ask them what they think about our <fill in the name of your innocuous product here>?”

I would ask questions until I was blue (no pun intended, but completely apropos) in the face!

So there!

I’ve said it!

If you had hired me <name of brand that didn’t hire me here>, I would have given you far more run for your money, AND you would have incalculably valuable data THAT YOU COULD IMMEDIATELY ACT UPON to boot.

So next year, make sure I’m on your short list.

Leave a comment

Filed under branding, digital advocacy, rant, Smack talking, social media, technology

Super Bowl XLVI: Social Media FAIL!!

The Super Bowl commercials integration of social media=FAIL.

This weekend, I, like most, watched the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots to become the Super Bowl XLVI Champions.

But unlike most, who were likely concerned with the outcome of the game, I was watching to see how the advertisers, who had forked over a pretty penny, integrated social media in their ads.

With ads going for up to $3 million dollars for a 30 second spot, I figured that advertisers would go the extra mile to make sure that their ads got all the traction they could.

At a minimum, I figured most (if not all) the advertisers would add websites, Facebook URLs or Twitter handles into their ads.

But I fully expected that at least one or two advertisers would realize the tremendous potential in social media, and do something more exciting.

To me, that meant leveraging social media, and integrating text messaging, QR codes, SnapTags, etc., in interesting and innovative ways.

So it was with rapt attention, that I waited for each time out, 2 minute warning, quarter and tv time out.

I sat through over 75 different commercials (excluding pre-show, post-show and half-time), and I was saddened…saddened by what I saw.

Not only were the commercials…ho hum, but they completely missed their mark from a social media perspective.

The most “innovative” use of social media (and I use innovative so loosely as to have absolutely no meaning in this context) was by the NFL itself.

Their NFL Fantasy promotion gave viewers the chance to win a million dollars.

Viewers could either text NFL to 69635 or visit the NLF Fantasy website to register for the contest.

Beyond that, advertisers brought nothing exciting (from a social media perspective) at all.

There were a collection of advertisers that used hashtags.

Hashtags are the # symbol, used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet.

It was created by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages and used widely to track a particular topic in Twitter.

  • Audi’s #solongvampires played on the brightness of the Audi’s headlights.
  • Bud Light’s #makeitplatinum highlighted the new platinum Budweiser beer.
  • Best Buy’s #betterway hashtag alluded to the depth of their mobile phone offering.
  • H&M used #beckhamfromh.m in it’s ad with David Bekham, sporting their new trunks.

Spectacular! NOT!

Some of the more “progressive” (again, I use the term loosely) advertisers, added their Facebook pages to their ads.

  • Disney’s The Lorax
  • Marvel Comic’s The Avengers
  • Cars.com
  • Bud Light’s spots (LMFAO and Here We Go)
  • Pepsi Max
  • MetLife
  • NBC
  • Samsung Galaxy

Amazing! NOT!

A few advertisers also listed their websites, including:

  • Godaddy (.co and .com)
  • Taxact.com
  • Chevy (letsdothis.com)
  • Teleflora.com, Cars.com
  • Prudential (dayonestories.com)
  • Honda (leaplist.honda.com and cr-v.honda.com)
  • BMW (tristatebmw.com)
  • GE Works (ge.win.com)
  • Hyundai (hyundai.com)
  • CareerBuilder.com
  • Cadillac ATS
  • NBC’s new show Awake (isheawake.com)

Inspired! NOT!

GoDaddy was the one advertiser who used a QR Code in their commercial.

But for a 30 second ad, I didn’t think it was the best execution.

When the commercial came on, and I saw the QR Code, I immediately tried to open my iPhone, launch the QR code scanner, move to the tv and scan the image.

But by the time I had completed all those steps, the code was gone and they were on to the next commercial.

One interesting thing I noted, was that a few advertisers with music in their commercials, had the Shazam logo in the corner.

Shazam is the app that helps you find out the title of a song you’re listening to.

Shazam...sucks!

By letting the Shazam app ‘listen’ to several seconds of a song, it searches it’s database and (if the song exists in it’s database) tells you the title and artist.

Ads from both Cars.com and Toyota had the Shazam logo.

My previous experiences with Shazam have been so underwhelming, that I no longer have the app on my iPhone.

So I didn’t determine whether the Shazam integration worked for either of these brands.

And since it would have (presumably) led the viewer to the underlying song in the commercials, I’m not sure what value the advertisers would have derived from it’s integration.

Anyway, nothing from my wish list came to be.

My disappointment is palpable.

I guess we’ll have to wait another year before we see whether advertisers ‘get it’ and utilize their 30 seconds a little more effectively.

If you want to see all the commercials that aired yesterday, AdAge has a great compilation of them here.

But don’t blame me if you’re bored.

Leave a comment

Filed under branding, digital advocacy, opinion, rant, social media