Omega Mobile: Mobile Experience Design Blog
We’re Passionate about Mobile User Interfaces, Experiences, Interactivity, and more!

Archive for March, 2010

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Moblie Commerce Daily had a story about a new app that is a great bridge between the physical and the virtual. PixyMe takes the mobile user experience to pretty cool place.

PixyMe is an iPhone/iPod Touch app that uses image personalization. Users can send or share photos via the usual social media channels. The twist is that you can then have your image printed on a postcard and mailed with a stamp anywhere in the world. You don’t need a personal image – the app will integrate a name, word or short phrase into an object within a stock photo – making it look like the words were written in leaves or as fireworks in the sky. Click here to try it out with your name. At $1.99, PixyMe is consistently a best seller for Apple.

You’ve heard me say that successful apps can’t just make use of cool technology or look pretty. PixyMe is a perfect example of a smart app that fits a real-world need. How many times have you been on a trip and wanted (or promised) to send a postcard but you forgot?

The whole stamp/mailbox thing is such a hassle but everyone loves getting non-junk mail. And the personalization angle is great for family, friends or even as a business tool. A feature to remember contact groups – like friends, family, coworkers – would make reuse of the app even easier.

A good idea would be to offer discounts for bulk mailings – instead of sending one card, you could send the same image to multiple contacts. A feature to remember contact groups – like friends, family, coworkers – would make this easier and encourage use over and over. For example, I’d pay extra for the convenience of being able to mail out a holiday card if I missed the deadline to go the standard print route.

Some additional features ideas could be special offers that kick in based on holidays around the world, discounts for promoting PixyMe on Facebook, Blog or Twitter or maybe a sweepstakes for the most creative use of the PixyMe app.

Omega Mobile recently completed a series of tutorials for the Open Screen Project Fund. We created seven demos total that I’ll cover in blog posts coming soon.

Nokia Rich Flash Lite Demos

Each mobile demo/prototype was designed around experiences where Flash Lite and Nokia devices a great fit. These include rich media, personalized experiences, social media, photo sharing, location based information, music, news, video, advertising and marketing.

The demos were designed to be shown as-is, without additional work as well as to be modified easily. Use them to quickly present a concept internally or to pitch outside clients.

One of the main goals of each demo is the ability to be able to easily reskin each mobile user interface. Each demo is designed so that the user interface elements as well as the background can be changed in a matter of minutes.

The tutorials in the series can be used alone or together and cover the following types of content:

  • Video Player – Play an external FLV video file in both landscape and portrait mode
  • Music Player – Play external mp3 audio files
  • RSS News – Read and display RSS feeds
  • Social Media – Leverage Twitter for promotional purposes
  • Photostream – Display Flickr photos
  • Event Info – Use to market an event, make phone calls, and initiate pre-written SMS messages
  • LBS Coffee Finder – Leverage GPS location and Google Maps to find the nearest coffee shop

A few trade stories this week about video ads suggest a opportunity for intelligent mobile user experience design.

Mobile Video Ads

MocoNews reported on a Google blog post about how the company is beginning to monetize the mobile version of the video site. Banner ads will show up on the home, search and browse pages of YouTube when accessed via mobile. Meanwhile, linked to an editorial about the hatred for pre-roll video as well as its effectiveness. If pre-roll ads are to become the norm, why not design the mobile video ad experience to be intelligent and adaptive?

Why not combine pre-roll with dynamic content tailored to the users? Not everyone needs to see the same pre-roll ad. I’d answer more questions to reveal demographic information in exchange for seeing less ads. If not less, I’d definitely prefer to see an ad of interest to me – like movie trailers - rather than the many makeup commercials I’ve been forced to endure before watching online videos recently.

I’ve recently seen Hulu offer short surveys in exchange for an ad free episode. The experience was hassle free.

Multiple pre-rolls could be created to serve different demographics – male teenagers see video game previews, new parents would get baby products, affluents would get luxury commercials, etc.

So why not give users ads that they want? Targetted ads will result in better ad spends and more purchasing.

Google introduced a new service for searching with gestures for Android 2.0 and above. This gesturing could evolve into some pretty cool uses and mobile user interface design opportunities.

Google Gestures

Basically, users scrawl a letter (or “alphabet gesture” as Google Labs calls it) on the touch screen to bring up a contact, app, music file or bookmark from a list of hundreds or even thousands on your Android phone. The mobile user interface eliminates the need to type in certain cases.

While the gesture feature is currently for searching only, this opens up lots of possibilities for interesting mobile user interface design possibilities for Android. The API could be opened up so that anyone writing Google apps could make use of ‘common’ gestures.

Universal gestures could be explored that could be used across any app.

Imagine that there’s a ’send to the Google cloud gesture’ and a piece of content you’re interacting with could automatically be sent to the appropriate cloud service. For example, you receive a document, gesture it, and it ends up stored in your Google Docs. Or the ability to gesture a phone number on a site and save it in Google voice would make interacting with Google cloud services easier.

I’m happy to see Android evolving and opening up the door to explore more touch based user interface design options. It’s a good time to experiment before rigid standards make their way into the mobile user interface design community.

Fast Company reported on a new promotion that might be a glimpse into the mobile design of smartphone commerce in the future – advertising that combines virtual goods and LBS to tap into on-the-spot purchases and promotions.

Virtual Goods

Location-based game start-up Booyah is introducing in-game, virtual goods placements, based on your real-time location. The Mobile User Experience Design will lead consumers right to the cash register of a “real” store selling real goods for very real cash.

The campaign stems from Booyah’s partnership with international clothing retailer H&M but this could apply to ANY consumer campaign – from liquor to cars to network television. This particular promotion pings mobile users near an H&M location on a piece of clothing or accessory that appears in Booyah’s MyTown location-based social game. Discounts and promotions reward the Booyah user that visits the actual store location.

Here are some ideas I have for additional location based campaigns. Again, any consumer campaign could benefit.

Users could be rewarded with free virtual goods if they spend a certain amount of time inside a retail location. The goods should have a high value perception and be unique to that store. If the user wore or showed off or used a virtual item in a social network, they could get real world discounts on that product line.

The biggest fans of a company – the ever valuable influencers – could receive limited edition virtual that are exclusive or awarded before general public release.

Feedback about the unique product could be analyzed and the most popular ones could turn into physical products.

Another way to engage users (and potentially spark a viral campaign) would be to give the consumers tools to design the next generation of virtual product ala crowdsourcing. Implement a voting aspect and social network exposure to build buzz. Winners could get a high value prize and their creations could turn into physical goods. Imagine a fashion oriented tween designing virtual fashion items and being rewarded for it.

Unique mobile user experiences and advertising seem to be made for each other – mobile is also a great bridge between the physical and the virtual. I’ll be watching the H&M campaign with interest.