Review of my Samsung Smart Watch, 2 months on

July 30th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

Two months on, I’m very happy to keep wearing my smart watch – a Samsung Gear which connects to my Samsung 5 smart phone – albeit quite chunky on my skinny wrist, and taking up another power point for charging approximately every 3 days. It’s also important to appreciate that you need to have your smart phone nearby – about 15 – 20 metres, so the distance between my board room and my desk works perfectly well.

Samsung Gear 2

Heather’s Samsung Gear 2 watch

The Gear 2 is by no means the latest Samsung smart watch available – I chose that, nearly obsolete, model because it has a smaller face size than the new ones, a larger face will just look silly on my wrist. Perhaps the larger faces will eventually becoming thinner making it more palatable… we’ll see.

During the last 2 months, it’s been quite the talking point. Here’s my list of benefits of having a smart watch:

  • phone call screening – when I am not my desk I often don’t have my phone with me, and when I’m walking somewhere, handbag over shoulder, getting my phone out of my handbag can take several all-important seconds when you’re trying to get to a call. In these situations, I can simply lift the watch up and it automatically activates the screen so that I can see who is calling.
  • phone call answering when I can’t get to the phone – it’s as simple as swiping on the green answer button to take the call. The caller is of course on speaker at that point, but it can be better than missing an important call. Switching back to normal phone mode is easily done once I get back to my phone.
  • time :) I am happy to report that I can tell the time very easily using the watch – as you lift your wrist, the watch screen automatically turns on. You can choose a clock face from a variety of options, and also choose the background colour to match your clothes. However, it being an orange watch, I don’t tend to choose colours very often.
  • pedometer – I have just recently taken up exercise again (to deal with the winter pounds) so I started up the pedometer on my watch, and the watch automatically sent through the number of steps to my Samsung Health app on the phone, and automatically resets everyday so I can see whether I have been active enough on any given day, and of course do something about it!

Some things I don’t like:

  • email notifications – having your watch beside your bed going off at all hours of the night because another email came through was never going to be good, so that was left on all of about 5 minutes. The number of notifications I would have on the watch during the day as well would drive me mad, so I don’t use the phone to view emails.
  • running out of battery in the middle of the day – you end up with a useless piece of technology strapped to your wrist, and don’t know the time!
  • heart rate monitor – not that I’m too concerned about this, but I don’t find the heart rate monitor very successful on the phone; probably something to do with not having it strapped tightly enough to my wrist.

There are lots of other things I can do using the watch, including checking social media updates and the like. Practically every notification you can get on your phone you can also get on the watch. However, I don’t really need more notifications of that nature.

I’m still considering a feature/app to have our app development team build, in order to help me benefit more the device.

Of course the Apple iWatch has come out in the last couple of months. Here is an interesting review of the iWatch.

I look forward to hearing from others wearing a Samsung Smart Watch, or an Apple iWatch for that matter. How do you benefit from your smart watch?

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Integrating your shopping cart with the Google Shopping API

July 29th, 2015 by Harry Liu

The use of Google shopping is becoming more popular in Australia. The norm used to be that you would use the main Google search box, or more recently just type your search terms into the address bar and press enter, to find and compare products. Using this method, the search results is usually a list of websites, requiring you to view many sites to find the best purchase, or if you trusted them, you could use a comparison site to find you the best deal. Now we can use Google Shopping – https://www.google.com.au/shopping – to search items from a collection of ecommerce websites.
google-shopping-example

A search in Google Shopping returns an easy to navigate set of products (images, names, ratings, price) with multiple searching options, a powerful filter to narrow down the set of recommendations, and a Shortlist feature to help you select the product to purchase. Clicking on a product allows you to see more details, including any reviews, and then click through to purchase the product from the original vendor. However Google will only list products that have been submitted by an eCommerce website – Google doesn’t go out and gather product information to populate Google Shopping, as it does with the regular search engine results.

The simplest way to submit your products to the Google Shopping engine is to use the API (application programming interface) supplied by Google. We have recently implemented an automated product feed into Google Shopping for Miami Stainless, so now you can find their stainless steel products through Google Shopping e.g. search on ‘balustrade wire’.

On average it will take around 4 – 5 hours for us to implement automated integration of a Contact Point Shopping Cart website’s product information with the Google Shopping engine. You may elect to only send to Google products that aren’t on sale, or perhaps, certain categories of product – these sorts of rules can be programmed into the automated product feed from your online store.

Why not make the most of this opportunity in Google to place your products in front of more customers?

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Mobile-friendly algorithm update: More Than Paws

June 29th, 2015 by Trevor Robinson

It’s been 2 months since Google rolled out its mobile-friendly algorithm which was set to enhance rankings for mobile-friendly / responsive web pages in mobile search results, so now is a good time to measure the impact of Google’s latest algorithmic update by reviewing one of our clients’ websites.

In order to obtain an accurate gauge between desktop and mobile search results, we needed to select a website without a mobile-friendly website version or responsive design.

More Than Paws is an e-commerce website specialising in clothing, accessories and costumers mainly for our canine friends, as well as other household pets. The More Than Paws team have been thinking about adopting a responsive website since there was first talk of the mobile-friendly algorithm update.

More Than PawsIn order to review the impact of the change, we selected 4 search terms that the More Than Paws website had been ranking well on in the months leading up to the Google algorithm change. The following search engine ranks are for Australian only results in Google, for both mobile and desktop devices – we performed these searches manually, without being signed into any Google Account in order to get the most accurate results.

Dog Bandanas
Desktop: #5
Mobile: #5

Dog Clothes
Desktop: #12
Mobile: #12

Dog Costumes
Desktop: #6
Mobile: #8

Dog Hoodies
Desktop: #3
Mobile: #5

The above results show a small impact on our client website’s Google ranks, with the search terms: ‘Dog Costumes’ and ‘Dog Hoodies’ both showing a 2 position rank deficit compared to the desktop.

We also reviewed the number of impressions for the More Than Paws website via desktop compared to mobile devices, pre and post the algorithm change.

Impressions from March 25 to April 21 (mobile-friendly algorithm introduction)
Impressions pre algorithm change

From the 23rd of March up until the advent of the mobile-friendly algoithm, the More Than Paws website received 5,752 impressions via desktop and 3,530 via a mobile device, which equates to a 47.87% difference.

Impressions from April 21 to June 22.
Impressions after algorithm change

Since the introduction of the update, up until the 22nd June, the More Than Paws website received 20,488 impressions via desktop and 11,931 via a mobile device, which equates to a 52.79% difference, or reduction of 4.92% of impressions between mobile and desktop devices.

It should be noted that most of the websites ranking well for similar search terms do not yet have mobile friendly / responsive websites. We expect that the difference pre and post the algorithm change would be more significant where well ranking competitors have mobile responsive websites. We also expect to see the difference between the ranks to become more significant over time, as Google adjusts the algorithm to achieve its aims in this area.

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Reach Mobile Melbournians billboard

June 27th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

After passing the billboard on the Westgate freeway several times, I just had to know what the advertising was all about. I mean … a Google search box containing the search phrase “reach mobile Melbournians” had to be somehow relevant to the endeavours of Contact Point!

So I grabbed my mobile phone (hubby was driving so that presented no problem) and typed in the search term “reach mobile melbournians” only to find a collection of random unrelated search results for page after page. Very frustrating! I am fairly of-fey with searching, having been involved in search engine optimisation since it began, so I continued on regardless to find what the billboard was all about. I refined my search to ‘reach mobile Melbournians billboard’ and was fortunate enough to get to the right place. The answer? A big new digital billboard coming into Melbourne City. So the ‘mobile’ in those search terms referred to people on their feet (rather than on a mobile device), and the Melbournians was actually people visiting the heart of the city of Melbourne.

Actually, to be completely honest, this was the second I had searched for this search term – the first time, after passing the sign at a pretty good speed, I searched for ‘reach mobile Melburnians’ because I thought that was how it was spelled.

Today I was glad to have my curiosity satisfied, however it struck me that the effort I was prepared to put in so that I could find the answer to the burning question raised by the billboard surely wouldn’t be the norm, and therefore the cost of that billboard wasn’t capitalised on with a complementary search engine marketing campaign.

If Contact Point had been engaged to assist the promoter we would have recommended the following:

  1. Write an article or two like this, explaining the meaning of the billboard advertising, and publishing the blog a day before or on the day that the billboard ad appeared.
  2. Ensure that the blog was well optimised for the search engines.
  3. Include a custom, short URL in the billboard to help the curious find it.
  4. Use social media simultaneously on the launch day or just before, to talk about the billboard, pointing to the explanatory webpage, and using useful hash tags to help searchers find it (eg multiple spellings of words if necessary)
  5. Once the billboard was actually out in the public, take a video of it and post that on the company YouTube account, including appropriate hash tags and including a URL that points back to the landing page on the website.

There’s more you could do if you have budget, but all of the above could be done for very little cost and effort, making it much easier for me to solve my burning question. That’s my two cents worth!

We love helping businesses to grow using technology, so if you are planning to reach mobile Melbournians or Melburnians for that matter, especially through search engines or through the use of mobile apps or a mobile responsive website, feel free to get in touch.

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Highly Personalised eCommerce snapping at the heels of traditional online stores

June 25th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

personalised ecommerce
The June Business Essentials audio program features an interview of one of the Australian entrepreneurs responsible for the recently launched personalised online shoe store Shoes of Prey. After choosing a base style (flats, mid-heel, high-heel, sandal, ankle boot etc) the Shoes of Prey online shoe designer tool allows you to customise your shoe to the nth degree. You can choose from a wide range of colours and materials, add straps, bows and other add-ons, even customising the colour of the insole, and toe sole (yes they are different). You can interact with the look of your unique shoe as you customise it. The end result can be a truly unique pair of shoes, made exactly to your size requirements, or if you are spoiled for choices and can’t decide, the website shows you the designs other customers have created allowing you to select one of those instead (and then add your own personalisation).

This blog: Personalised Shopping Services: How a bunch of menswear retailers found the future of ecommerce describes seven different online mens clothing stores which address the problem of men not liking shopping, but still wanting to look good and have new clothes. The retailers solve the problem in a variety of different ways, but personalisation is key – understanding the man’s size, shape, style preferences, budget, and then delivering to those preferences on a regular basis.

All of these examples make it clear that the next phase of ecommerce is here, and snapping at the heels of the “traditional” online stores. This phase of ecommerce takes personalisation to the next level. It’s not about personalising the person’s name in the emails you send and sending a birthday card & discount a few weeks before your customer’s birthday, it’s about combining the power of technology with personal service in order to provide exactly what each customer wants and needs.

I know where I will be ordering my next pair of shoes … it might even be worth a trip to Sydney to try on the various sizes and base shoe styles in the Shoes of Prey range.

The following points are clear from the stories of the abovementioned online stores:

  • The existing marketplace vendors believed that personlisation of their products was too hard
  • There certainly were lots of difficulties to overcome and significant effort required in order to support a personalised service – this lead some retailers taking on the manufacturing themselves
  • The more highly personalised model has delivered rapid growth of market share for the entrepreneurs who took on and solved the challenges
  • Customers receiving a highly personal service are likely to spend more, spend more often, and have greater loyalty to the store

I’ve been banging on about richer personalisation, particularly as it relates to email marketing, since the launch of eNudge in 2006. Marketers have been talking about marketing to an audience of one for about the same length of time.

Now that the greater personalisation is being experienced by consumers via solutions like those described above, all businesses need to think about how they can provide a more personalised service, creating customers who don’t want to go anywhere else. If you are already providing a personalised product through your online store, you still need to think about how you can take that up a notch … for example, think about the monthly service provided by one of the male clothing store vendors, sending a regular package to their customers to rent, buy or send back. It’s proactive, not reactive, but isn’t just sending the same things to everyone – the service is personalised based on in depth knowledge of each customer.

Perhaps you would like help to take your ecommerce store to a higher level of personalisation, or perhaps take your offline solution onto the internet providing a highly customised experience? I believe there are similar opportunities for B2B solutions and professional services. We need to stop thinking “it’s too hard” and start working out ways it can be done utilising a combination of technology and customer service.

We’re here to help you grow using technology, so feel free to get in touch.

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The New Contact Point Master Code

May 31st, 2015 by Mark Solly

There are many PHP code frameworks and ecosystems, including the more recently popularised WordPress environment.  However, both myself in pre-Contact Point days, and Contact Point, have preferred to work based on a purpose-built codebase which has the following benefits over using a framework:

  • Our code is highly efficient and lean, helping to ensure the quick operation of your website, and enabling easier maintenance.  Because a framework such as Word Press has to be all things to all people, they usually contain a large amount of code and functionality that will never be used for your website.  This unused code not only takes up room and makes it harder to find the exact piece of code we may need to alter, it may also create an undetected security vulnerability. Any additional functionality can be easily incorporated into our codebase, still keeping the overall code lean and efficient.
  • Our code is robust; security to prevent SQL injection and other malicious activity is built into the core removing the need for constant security patching.  Security patches will still be required from time to time, but much less frequently than the very well known frameworks which are often a target for hackers due to their large user base.
  • It incorporates the latest user experience elements which website users have come to expect … things like immediate prompting when the visitor enters information incorrectly into a web form, and animated page and style transitions.  Should new user experience elements present in future, it will be relatively easy to add those also.
  • Easily customisable to facilitate bespoke requirements of each website.

We have recently overhauled the Contact Point Master Code in order to bring the best aspects of the Solly codebase and the Contact Point codebase.  In particular the new Contact Point Master Code:

  • Combines the environment for the content management system and online administration systems of websites
  • Supports the concept of page plug-ins giving the webmaster the ability to quickly add components, such as online forms and image galleries, into new pages of the website
  • Ensures a more intuitive user interface for both the website visitor and online administrator
  • Incorporates into the shopping cart solution a collection of features that have become “standard” in more recent years such as automated SEO friendly URLs, meta tags and meta descriptions

If we built your shopping cart or web application many years ago, and you would like to benefit from some of the features described above, please don’t hesitate to contact Heather Maloney to discuss how we can most cost effectively deploy the new codebase for your solution.

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Designing for the future of web display technology

April 20th, 2015 by Tamar Smart

As technology grows ? so does our need to see things in super high quality. Our computer and mobile phone displays, must be larger and better than before. No longer are we satisfied with blurred images, and squinting at our small mobile phone screens to try and read “blocky” text. By “blocky” I mean that the edges of the text and images lose their crispness and you can see the pixels (square edges).

Enter the new player – Retina Display. This technology allows us to view content on our computer screens, laptops, tablets and mobile devices, at a high resolution with clear images and smooth text. The reason for this is because these displays have at least twice as many pixels per inch (ppi), as a basic display. Therefore our eye (retina) interprets what we see, as being closer to how we see things in real life.

Some devices recently released, that have Retina Display: MacBook Pro, iPhone 6 and the iPad Air.

What relevance does this have for you?

If you have a website and want to target a wide range of clients/customers, then you will need to cater for their devices. A basic website with low resolution graphics, may not be good enough any more, particularly if your target audience are viewing your site on their mobile devices, laptops or tablets. Most of these devices are now including Retina Display as a standard feature ? especially Apple products.

Information is one of the most important aspects of a website. A website that has blurred images and icons, with “blocky” text, may convey the wrong message to your visitors.

If you check the Google Analytics for your website you will quickly discover how many people are browsing your website using a mobile device.

How we can help improve your website?

There are several ways we can improve your website for Retina Display. Firstly, by making the choice to use styled text instead of text that has been embedded in an image.? Styled text is able to be scaled up or down, to suit a variety of devices. The text will look smooth and easy to read. This doesn’t mean that you always need to have basic fonts either. We can offer a wide range of fancy fonts (that will suit your style) ? for use on your website. Google Fonts, is the tool that gives us the capability to design text with varied fonts, for Retina Display.

Google Fonts

Google Fonts

Secondly, we can improve your website for Retina Display is with the use of Font Awesome icons. These icons (e.g. phone, search, email) can be scaled to fit nicely on any device. They will always look crisp on both a Retina Display and a basic screen resolution. There are many to choose from, and they can be designed to match any colour that is needed.

Font Awesome icons

Font Awesome icons

Thirdly, detailed photos need some extra love. We can set them up for you so they display at high quality on each device. Here is an outline of the process we use:

  1. Set up your website to function in a responsive way ? where the layout adjusts to fit comfortably on a variety of screen sizes. ?This isn’t an essential step in addressing your large images, but is definitely an important part of providing a great experience on a mobile device.
  2. Create 2 versions of your important images. One is larger (for utilizing on Retina Displays), and the other is smaller (for basic displays).
  3. Insert a small piece of additional code into your website (called a Media Query) which detects the type of device that the website is being viewed on, and then chooses one of the two image sizes to show (depending on the type of device detected).

It is also worth noting that there is a difference in file size, for photos used on Retina Displays. The files are larger in their visual size, which means they are also larger in file size. This is why it’s important that we have a second smaller version of the photo, for use on basic displays ? so that a visitor is not unnecessarily downloading large images (which look basically the same to them).

With these simple but effective tools, we can help your website to stay up to date with new high quality display technologies. Retina Display can be a beautiful thing ? if we understand and use it to its full potential.

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Mobile Responsiveness just became even more important for high ranks in Google

April 19th, 2015 by Trevor Robinson

As of the 21st April, 2015, the Google search engine, globally, is giving weight to the presence or absence of mobile responsiveness in your website for people searching in Google using a mobile device. For example, if you are searching for a local cafe while using your mobile phone, the local cafe that has a website which is optimised for viewing on a mobile phone is much more likely to appear in the top search results for your Google search.

Google have been warning about this change for some time, so if you don’t have a mobile responsive website yet and if people searching for your business are likely to do that using a mobile device (tablet, phone, mini-tablet etc), now is definitely the time to act.

In a nutshell, a mobile responsive website is one that lays out differently and potentially functions differently, depending on the size of the screen being used, and whether the device has a touch screen or not.

Below is an example of a website which has been built responsively (the Contact Point website):
responsive_contactpoint

You can read more about what it means to have a mobile responsive website here.

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ecommerce; the amazing opportunity to improve customer service

February 19th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

online shopping gives rise to improved customer servicePeople often think of online stores as being devoid of customer service compared to the local retail outlet. After all, in a physical store you can ask for help, discuss various products and what they do, and receive your product immediately.

However, a scenario over the Christmas break gave me an example of where online shopping comes into its own with respect to customer service. My mother thought she would try out buying her groceries from Coles online rather than making what has become an arduous trip down to the supermarket. Its arduous because she would need to take my handicapped sister with her, and she can be quite a handful, especially when you are also trying to push a trolley, and keep her with you as you are walking back through the carpark, and cars and of course my mother is no spring chicken. In addition, my mother has recently hurt her shoulder and therefore pushing the trolley, and carrying the groceries from the car to the kitchen is also an ordeal.

Introducing online grocery shopping my mother was so excited to receive her first delivery from Coles. This is really living she exclaimed. Its as if you are back to the old days of customer service where you went to the grocery store counter, gave them your order written on a piece of paper, and they packed it all up for you. My mum was very pleased with the ‘delivery-to-the-kitchen-table’ service, ensuring that she didnt need to pick up or carry bags anywhere, and the delivery cost where she lives is next to nothing compared to the convenience. Actually, Mum expects to save some money by not buying impulse items placed in strategic locations around the store. She was delighted with the products selected, feeling that she got the best on offer (not those picked over and prodded by others), and amazed at receiving SMS messages telling her when it would be delivered etc. Placing a future order is even easier with prompts to order commonly purchased items and the option to save your shopping list for future use.

Of course online grocery shopping isnt going to suit everyone; we cant all be home during the available timeslots to receive our delivery, and sometimes we do just need something right now. However, it reminded me that online stores by very nature give us the opportunity to provide even better customer service than the physical counterpart. Below I have described some unique ways in which customer service can be improved through online stores. Consider these in relation to your online store (or that of your friends / colleagues):

  • icon-searchproducts3Quick searching through the available products have you ever been up and down aisle after aisle in a supermarket trying to find gelatine or horseradish? With your online store think about the different ways people might like to search for your product, and include those words in the product names or descriptions to ensure they can be found on those words.
  • icon-availabilityAvailability information again at the supermarket, when you get to the place where you think you should find product xyz but cant find it there, you have no idea whether you are looking in the wrong place, whether it is out of stock, or if its been discontinued. For products with different sizes, you might not know whether your size is actually made in this product. This extra information is easy to supply via an online store.
  • icon-informationReference material about the products can help your customer make informed decisions e.g. where it is made, why you would want the product, how to use the product, list of ingredients, awards won by the product, example images of the product in use, other products that people bought to go with this product, customer reviews, social media feedback etc. This is much easier to do online where you arent paying for shelf space to store all the extra information, or for shop assistants to help each customer. It may take some time to put this information in, but it never ceases to amaze me the number of online stores that give scant information about a product and expect the customer to guess about its properties when they cant touch or feel it, read the box, talk to a person The reference material may also include details of extended warranties and other product support; when you are offered these as a last minute option at the checkout, its very easy to say no thanks and not even really understand what they give you and why they might be worthwhile.
  • icon-supportImmediate assistance via online chat. It is often hard to actually get assistance in a store; once you find an assistant walking the floor, youll often be waiting for them to finish with another customer. When you get to talk to a person, they often dont know much about the product you are considering. Online chat, whilst requiring people to be at their PCs to respond, can allow a single salesperson to deal effectively and quickly with multiple people at once, or pass the enquiry onto someone else who can help. The Miami Stainless website is an example of one of our client websites using online chat very effectively to support the sales process. Online chat also provides the personal touch, counteracting the claim that online stores are devoid of human contact.
  • icon-transactionhistory2Access to Transaction History is usually not a service provided in a physical store, and certainly not at the customers control. Online gives you the opportunity to show the customer what they have purchased before, store a wish list, store a standard order, remind customers of the consumables they need for previous purchases, notify customers when the consumables are on special …
  • icon-deliveryDelivery is an important part of the customer experience, and must be handled with care for online customers. As in the case of my mothers online supermarket shopping, and in the case of the time poor, or remotely located persons, it might actually be an advantage of online shopping for some customers. Providing a range of delivery options (express, standard, insured) provides even greater customer service. Because you are packing and sending the product, you also have the opportunity to add items to the delivery. Lots of online retailers take the opportunity to add a little something to give an element of surprise to the customer. I always feel happier receiving my deliveries when my products have been lovingly packed (which is a bit like unwrapping a gift, even though you know whats coming) compared to stuffed in a parcel bag with a grotty picking slip.
    Of course for downloadable products, the delivery is immediate, and you need to ensure that the delivery mechanism is secure, easy for the customer, and repeatable where something goes wrong.
  • icon-after-sales3After Sales Customer Service via email or phone is also a very important way online shopping can provide better customer service than in store. The customer doesnt need to get back to the store and remember who they spoke to and on what day, they can simply refer back to their order. Online store operators need to check emails regularly. Depending on your product, having a knowledge base of likely questions or problems the customer may encounter is very important. Providing an easy process to follow with regard to returns (if you allow them) is very important also to ensure your customer comes back again.

You may have experienced yet other ways in which online shopping can provide additional customer service. Id love to hear your examples here, so please add your comments below.

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Harnessing GPS (Location Services) within mobile applications

November 15th, 2014 by Hubert Yap

In this post PC era, large numbers of people now use smartphones and/or tablets to connect to each other in realtime because, unlike PCs, smartphones and tablets are not locked down in one location. Millions of people now carry a smartphone in their pocket (or tablet in their bag), pull it out anytime, and within seconds use it to chat with their friends/families, check what is on the news, find out what is causing the current traffic jam, share a photo of what they are experiencing, etc.

Mobile Apps and Location Services

One particular feature of smartphones and tablets that takes advantage of our mobility, is Location Services. Location Services allows a smartphone/tablet application to determine the device location via wireless connection or GPS and send it back to a server. This article will cover how Location Services can be useful for users and businesses alike, challenges in retrieving the device location, and how to address those challenges.

From a user point of view, Location Services allows them to send their location and receive specific information in return. Take for example the Google Map application. By using Google Map, users can send their device location and receive information about their whereabouts. This feature is particularly useful when we are travelling to a place we have never visited before. Generally people use Location Services to receive information that may only be relevant when they are at a specific location (i.e. nearby restaurants, local weather, nearby traffic congestion, movies in nearby cinema, friends who are nearby, etc).

From a business point of view, Location Services can be used to promote discoverability. An app can be configured to send specific information when a user is in a particular area. For example, if a business has a specific product catalogue for each city, their app can show the correct product catalogue to each user by retrieving the users’ location beforehand. Location Services can also be used to determine where business or consumer activities took place. This data has a wide range of uses.

All benefits come with drawbacks. For Location Services, one of the major concerns is battery life. If an app runs down the battery life of your device, you will limit your use of the app. That’s obviously not an option if the app is being used to carry out your job.

Wireless and GPS can only give a rough estimation of where the user is located. Therefore an app sometimes need to retrieve the users location 2-3 times in order to achieve better location precision. The longer we want the app to keep retrieving user location, the more battery power it will consume. This is one reason why a map application drains a lot of battery power. A typical map application needs to constantly retrieve the user’s location because the app is most often used when the user is walking or driving. It is important to achieve a balance between the battery power consumed and the location precision required. For example, if the app only needs to find which city the user is currently in, it can simply define a location precision of about 5 kilometres. Doing so will reduce the amount of battery power consumed compared to a location precision of a few hundred metres.

Another challenge that affects battery life is whether the app uses wireless, GPS, or a combination of both. GPS is more precise and faster when it comes to retrieving user location and is therefore a more recommended approach if your app needs to constantly updates the location. However, GPS is not suitable to retrieve user location when the user is inside a building due to the signal attenuation caused by construction materials. In such case, the app can only retrieve user location via the wireless network, assuming the user device is connected to one.

If the application needs to be able to retrieve user location in both indoor and outdoor, a combination of wireless and GPS is required. The app can be configured to use primarily GPS and only use wireless when GPS fails to retrieve user location, or use both at the same time and stop them if one has successfully received the location. The former will consume less battery power when the device is outdoor but there will be performance overhead when the device is indoors because the app will wait until GPS fails to retrieve user location before using wireless. On the other hand, the latter consumes more battery power on both indoor and outdoor but has better performance indoors.

Building an app that takes advantage of Location Services can give mutual benefits to both users and businesses. In summary, to make the best use of Location Services it is important to consider:

  1. How precise the retrieved user location needs to be,
  2. How often the app should retrieve user location,
  3. Where the user will mostly use the app: indoors, outdoors, or both.

Some examples of apps we have built for our clients which use Location Services are:

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