Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Controlling my App using Voice

October 15th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

Adding voice recognition to my mobile app
In order for the apps on your smartphone to be voice controlled, they need to be specifically programmed that way.

Some of the more common voice-enabled apps you are likely to find on your smartphone are:

  • Calendar – ask your smartphone the time of your next / first appointment, on a particular day, and it will tell you the answer and automatically show your calendar appointments for that day on screen
  • Phone – tell your smartphone to call person X, or send a text message to person Y, and it will take care of these tasks, prompting you for the details as required
  • Alarm – set an alarm to go off at a particular date and time
  • Search – ask your phone to search for a topic, and it will display a clickable list of search results

Voice recognition technologies have improved significantly over the last few years, providing numerous options with regard to voice enabling mobile apps, including:

  1. The Android operating system for wearables (e.g. Galaxy watch), smart phones and tablets includes in-built voice control actions for carrying out commonly used tasks such as writing a note. It also comprises the ability for an app to include its own “intents” which listen for voice activation once the user has launched the app. Finally it includes methods for allowing the user to enter free form text for processing by your app.
  2. Google Voice Interactions API – a code library provided by Google which allows an app to be triggered via the Google Now interface – that’s what you’re using when you say ‘Okay Google’ and then say a command.
    okay-google
  3. Apple devices (iPhones, iPads, iWatch) are built on the iOS operating system. Native iOS apps are written in either Objective C or Swift (a more recent language). With the launch of iOS 10, the Swift programming language included a Speech framework to allow developers to more easily implement listen for voice commands, and manipulate voice into text for use within apps.
  4. SiriKit was released in 2016, providing a toolkit for iOS developers to add voice interaction through Siri into their iOS 10 apps.

    What-is-my-heart-rate-voice-interaction-with-mobile-app
  5. Cross platform apps need to use 3rd party libraries to interface with the native speech recognition functions.

It’s important to know that the speech of the user is processed by Apple’s servers or Google’s servers, and then returned to the mobile device, so some lag may be noticed particularly when dealing with longer bursts of voice. It may also have privacy considerations for your users.

3rd party APIs exist which are completely contained within the mobile device, meaning that the user doesn’t need to have an internet connection to use them, and the privacy issues are reduced. An example of such a 3rd party API is the CMU Sphinx – Speech Recognition Toolkit. The downside of using such a library is that you can’t avail yourself of the amazingly accurate voice recognition the large players have developed over time, including for many different languages.

Obvious apps which provide the user with significant benefit from the use of voice control include:

  • An app which improves or assists the job of a hands-on task e.g. chefs, surgeons, artists, hairdressers …
  • An app which is needed while a person is driving e.g. navigation, finding locations, dictating ideas on-the-go …
  • An app needed by a person with disability.
  • An app which involves the entry of lots of text.

We expect to see more and more support for voice in all sorts of applications in future. What would you like to be able to achieve through voice commands?

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Can voice input be added to my web form?

October 13th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

power-of-voice-newsletter
Given the recent proliferation of ads about Google Home, it’s now common knowledge that you can easily talk to electronic devices and instruct them to do things such as search the web, play your favourite tune, give you the weather forecast, call a friend, or tell you the time of your first appointment on a particular day. Google Now is the technology that enables voice control of Google and Android devices, and Siri powers voice control on Apple devices. Windows 10 provided Cortana to do the same.

When you are using a smartphone to interact with a form on a web page, then you can usually fill in a form using voice … how easy or hard that is depends on your device. On an iPhone (and an iPad) when you bring up the keyboard in a form, there’s an additional ‘microphone’ icon that you simply need to tap in order to speak your entry. If you are using an Android Samsung Galaxy phone, you can switch your entry from keyboard to voice by swiping down from the top of the screen and choosing Change Keyboard, and then choosing Google Voice … yes, that’s 3 steps :-( .

When it comes to using a PC or Mac, filling in a form usually relies on typing. Now that I am getting used to talking to electronic devices, I find myself looking for more ways that I can use my voice to control the device rather than having to type everything. Talking, even for me as a very fast touch-typist, is quicker than typing. Plus, speech control enables you to control your device when you need to be using it hands-free.

What about my web form?
In answer to the question posed by this blog article, yes! voice input can be added to your web form even when you are entering text on a PC or a Mac. To demonstrate, we’ve added a very simple voice entry capability to the enquiry form on the Contactpoint home page. Please note; this example only works in the Chrome web browser, and of course you must have a microphone on your PC or Mac in order to speak to fill out the form. To use the voice input:

  1. click or press on the microphone icon beside a field
  2. click to Allow access to the microphone (you will only need to do this the first time)
  3. talk to complete the field!

As you are speaking you will see that there’s a red recording icon pulsing in the browser tab. When you stop talking, the recording will also stop, and then what you said will appear in the box.

From a programming point of view, there are several ways to implement voice input into a web form. The example on the Contactpoint home page uses a very simple method involving Javascript and the webkitSpeechRecognition which is an API for Google Chrome, giving the browser access (after the user has specifically allowed it) to the microphone and then handling voice input very nicely. Google’s team has spent many years refining speech recognition, and the webkit gives you quick and free access to their powerful functionality.

Other Javascript libraries have been developed to enable much more sophistication in the manner in which you can use voice to interact with a web form. Annyang is a great example, whereby specific parts of your web form can have tailored voice interactions enabled so that whatever you say has context e.g. choosing from a drop down list in a form will know about the allowed options, and match the voice input with one or more of those options. Due to the additional sophistication, there’s obviously more effort involved in using this library. Another benefit is that Annyang functionality works in any web browser.

If you would like to improve the usability of your web forms by enabling speech entry, feel free to get in touch!

Handy Hints for voice entry of text:
If you speak your text message without including punctuation, paragraphs and the like, it can be a lot harder for the recipient to understand your message. But have no fear, the following list will have your test messages reading just like you typed it!
“full stop” – if you pause and then say “full stop” Google Now and Siri will type in a ‘.’
“exclamation mark” – if you say “exclamation mark” Google Now and Siri will type in a ‘!’
“question mark”- if you say “question mark” Google Now and Siri will type in a ‘?’
“new line” – if you pause and say “new line” Google Now and Siri will move the cursor down to the next line.
“comma” – if you pause and say “comma” Google Now and Siri will type in a ‘,’

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The Importance of User Testing

May 31st, 2017 by Kaveh Saket

image-user-testing

With the imminent soft-launch of Activeperform, the Contact Point designed and built software platform for the health and fitness industry, user testing is top of mind. Of course, it’s far too late to begin user testing on the launch of your software; user testing must start at the very first mock-up of your potential product. However, once you launch your app, user testing takes on a different form. Your app is now out in the wild and being used by real people to fulfil real world tasks. There’s nothing hypothetical about it.

User testing is vitally important because app users have become very fickle … it’s so much easier now to install and integrate a new app with your other systems, so if your users aren’t delighted, they will readily move on when the next app in your space is launched.

The purpose of user testing is to ensure that the user:

  1. Can carry out the task they need to do, quickly and easily,
  2. Gets exactly the result they expect, and
  3. Enjoys carrying out the task using your app.

User testing is not a once off process. Every time you decide to add a feature to your product, you need to test again to ensure that the new feature has damaged the flow of existing features, and of course that the new feature also meets the 3 objectives stated above. Feature improvements similarly require user testing.

The earlier user testing can be done, the better. Sometimes product owners (the person charged with directing the features of an app) can believe that their customers want a certain feature, only to find that adding that feature, after spending considerable time and money to design and build, makes little or no difference to the success of the app. An example of a user interface change that actually reduced the performance of an app is the introduction of infinite scrolling into Etsy in 2012. With the benefit of hindsight, the product owner has since admitted that they could have tested their hypothesis- that introducing infinite scrolling would result in more purchases – by making smaller, quicker changes to the app and measuring.

There are now many tools available to assist with user testing, making it much more accessible without large amounts of resources (people and money). For example, within Activeperform we will be utilising Flurry to track how our users utilise the apps.

If you would like to help us out by testing the new Activeperform app, please get in touch!

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Why not offshore my app development project?

April 17th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

onshore your app developmentOkay, you’re going to think I’m bias – I own a web & mobile app development company based in Melbourne, Australia, so of course I want to discourage organisations from offshoring the development of their apps.

However, fact of the matter is that I’ve heard countless war stories of offshored developments that have gone wrong … either the whole development has been thrown in the bin due to a poor quality result, or a project that was meant to be delivered by a particular date for a specific cost has escalated in both time and cost. My organisation has been the beneficiary of such malfunctioning projects, but not before the organisation has been through months of pain and disappointment prior to arriving at my door.

Apart from the issues of getting what you actually want, in an appropriate time, and for the low cost you expect from offshoring, there’s a third concern – security of your intellectual property. How do you really know that your solution isn’t being re-used for other foreign organisations to achieve the same or similar outcomes in their local market or the global market? If you needed to pursue a competitor for theft of your IP, doing that in a foreign country is going to be exponentially more difficult than locally. The risk of reputational damage to a local provider also provides you with additional leverage if an issue arises.

So why do off-shored projects so often go wrong? Anecdotally it would seem that the following issues are the primary reasons:

  1. Communication – first and foremost, effectively communicating your requirements is best done with the person/s carrying out, or at least overseeing, the development in the same room. Offshore developers try to overcome this with business analysts in Australia preparing vast documents on the required solution, adding time and cost to the project. Because the analysts are primarily in Australia, passing on of the information usually relies on the developers reading the vast amount of output and then following it … again inefficient, and developers aren’t known for wanting to read long documents before they start coding.
    Offshore developments usually require additional management in order to manage the offshore teams and co-ordinate communication, reducing the benefit of the lower developer hourly rates.
    Agile methodologies require close proximity of the developers and the clients to be successful.
  2. Time Zone – the effect of working in different time zones almost always adds to the project timeline. Someone has to wait until the start or the end of the day to communicate with the team, and when one team is working, the other isn’t, making asking a quick question in order to keep progressing down the right path either very difficult, or adverse for the work-life balance of team members.
  3. Cultural Differences – written English is heavily subject to interpretation. Cultural differences can increase the likelihood of incorrect interpretation. Trying to achieve a solution that feels like it was built for the Australian marketplace is also less likely from an offshore team, which is why design (UI & creative) is rarely carried out offshore.

From time to time I am asked to manage an offshore team in order for a client to get the benefit of lower cost developers. I always politely decline. We are able to develop great solutions, in a timely and cost effective manner because we have our developers in the same room, can have efficient discussions and decision-making about the developments if a difficulty arises, and because our clients are also close to the developers when the need arises. We also bring to our clients many years of experience, industry knowledge and of course cultural understanding.

There are times when you can’t get the resources you need, when you need them, locally such that offshore is the best option. But perhaps you should instead consider breaking down your development to smaller chunks so that a smaller, local team can meet your requirements. Smaller developments of shorter durations are also more likely to be successful, cost effective and deliver value to your customers and organisation more rapidly.

If you require a web or mobile application to be developed, I’d love to discuss the potential opportunity with you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Implications of the new Privacy Act on Email and SMS Marketing

February 13th, 2017 by Heather Maloney

privacy act changes and email and sms marketing Okay … this may seem a little dry, but hang in there; we will get to the nitty gritty as quickly as possible.

Email and SMS marketing in Australia is not only impacted by the Australian Spam Act 2003, but also the Privacy Act 1988 (as amended by the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012). The Privacy Amendment Act came into force on the 12 March, 2014 and created a single set of Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) applying to both Australian Government agencies and the private sector, with some special situations for the medical profession. Whilst the Privacy Act does not apply to small businesses (those with an annual revenue of less than $3,000,000), it is best practice to adhere to the legislation regardless of your size.

As I see it, the most important change in the Privacy Act was more stringent disclosure about where your data can be stored, and ensuring that government agencies do not store their data offshore except in some very specific situations. NB: if you do provide your data to offshore organisations, you are responsible for ensuring that they do not breach the Australian privacy principles.

When undertaking email and SMS marketing, in order to comply with the Privacy legislation we recommend that you:

  • Use eNudge, because your data is stored on Australian servers, not off-shore and because eNudge makes it easy for people to un-subscribe (this requirement is now included in both the Privacy legislation as well as the Australian Spam Act).
  • Only store in eNudge the information that you absolutely require in order to be able to personalise your messages and analyse your campaign results.
  • Do not store or personalise on government identifiers e.g. tax file numbers and the like.
  • Document and follow your privacy policy, and have it easily accessible via your website.
  • Include a link to your privacy policy within your email message – your email footer is the best place for this.

What should be in your privacy policy?

  1. The kinds of personal information your collect & keep.
  2. How you hold it e.g. with eNudge you might say that your information is stored in a secure online database, within Australian servers, and only accessible by appropriate employees.
  3. For what purpose you collect, store, use and disclose the personal information, and most importantly, identifying where the disclosure may take place overseas including identifying the country.
  4. How a person can view & request correction of the personal information you are storing about them.
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Design-centric Application Development

December 6th, 2016 by Kaveh Saket

Design-centric application development

A design-centric approach to application development (that’s web applications and mobile applications – is there any other sort these days??) differs from customer-centric or technology-centric approaches which have been more common of recent years. A design-centric approach focuses primarily on ensuring that the user experience is perfect – or perhaps more accurately “nearly perfect”.

There is always room for improvement – another revision, a new update – and users want continual improvement to make their life easier. User experience has been made king because research shows that organisations which focus on design significantly outperform those who don’t.

In a customer-centric approach the customer is asked what they want, and then the designer will set about delivering to their requirements. In a technology-driven approach, the technologists build the best algorithm or new solution to solve a particular problem and then look for a customer who values the technical solution. However, following a design-centric approach the designer will research the best current solutions in the problem landscape, put themselves in the customer’s shoes, and determine to provide the simplest way to achieve the desired goals. Gathering feedback on the design from a variety of potential users of different levels of expertise follows, and leads to iterative refinement until the first version is achieved. The developers – the people who turn the design into reality – are then directed by the design team to ensure that the intended outcome is achieved.

The Uber mobile app is a great example of design-centric application development, which is a significant factor in its amazing success. Anyone who has used the Uber App will agree – from being able to see where the on-approach vehicle is on the map, along with the number of minutes until it arrives continuously updated until arrival, to seeing a photo of the driver and vehicle, one press to make a call to the driver, and immediate payment upon arriving at the destination without needing to handover a credit card. I could go on and on about the ease with which you can hail an Uber, and receive a brilliant experience of private transport…

One of the challenges of current application design is dealing with content. Having little visible content is a very quick way to send users heading for the hills … imagine Instagram with no photos when you launch it, or Twitter with no tweets to read, or Facebook with no posts. However, masses of content with no simple way to navigate it, can be just as off-putting. Requiring a user to search has been the standard approach for many years. Filtering and other ways of helping the visitor to easily drill down to the content they are most interested in, have developed more recently.

At Contact Point we have been embracing SCRUM methodology across our organisation, which also readily supports a design-centric approach. Starting with our client’s goals and objectives within their particular competitive landscape, and their customers’ wants and needs, we will:

  • undertake research into common solutions to the design problem at hand,
  • brainstorm other potential approaches with trusted and experienced colleagues,
  • wire frame the potential solution, getting feedback along the way,
  • apply creative design to the wire framed solution,
  • carry out user testing of the design, iterating as necessary to refine the solution, and
  • finally develop the solution, taking care to ensure that the essence of the planned user interaction is achieved

The above steps will be undertaken for each logical entity that collectively forms the solution, at the same time ensuring consistency throughout the solution as appropriate. After the development of each component, real user testing of people across a broad range of skill levels, will then lead to further refinement. Programmatic A/B testing will allow two or more potential solutions to be tested head to head to ensure the best solution evolves.

The successful execution of a design-centric approach involves many steps, and requires an appetite for iteration, well beyond the launch of a new solution. However, the results are impressive, and for all but the simplest of tasks, likely the only way to achieve raving fans of your solution. Design-centric doesn’t mean that the customer is ignored. In fact the opposite is true with a greater focus on experience combined with needs and wants. Neither is technology ignored – utilizing the most up to date and elegant technology is also paramount to ensuring a great user experience.

What is the best user interface you have experienced from a web or mobile application?

 

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Consumer Decision Journey – throw out the Sales Funnel model!

November 8th, 2016 by Heather Maloney

image-consumer-decision-journey
As the creator of a broadly used email and SMS marketing solution (eNudge) for the Australia marketplace, I thought that over the years I would see a general improvement in the way email marketing campaigns were constructed and delivered. I’m sad to say that on the whole, nothing much has changed. eNudge provides a myriad tools to help you segment, target, automate, measure and analyse, but it’s in the execution where many people fall down. Business owners and marketers get busy, and then just flick off a quick email to get a spike in sales. They are content with a spike and move on.

However, I know there is a better way … there always has been. Many marketers refer to it as lead nurturing, and email campaigns (including the eNudge Message Series functionality) are an excellent way to nurture your leads. For many years, marketing personnel have been working with a Sales Funnel model in mind – a linear movement of a potential buyer through awareness, interest, desire and finally action (buy). Lead nurturing refers to understanding where your lead is in the sales funnel, and give them the next piece of information that they need to take them to the next step in the journey; the next step closer towards being ready to buy.

I could be placated if I saw email marketing being used more for lead nurturing … more value and information being supplied, in a logical flow, engaging with potential buyers and taking them down a path to understanding and trusting you. However, thoughts even on lead nurturing have moved on …

The changing landscape of information availability via the internet including the impact of social media, and more recent research into buyer behaviour, suggests throwing out the sales funnel model and replacing it with what is being called by McKinsey as the “Consumer Decision Journey“. McKinsey research revealed that far from systematically narrowing their choices, today consumers take a much more iterative and less reductive journey of four stages: 1/ consider, 2/ evaluate, 3/ buy, and 4/ enjoy, advocate, bond. During stage 2 (evaluate) where the Sales Funnel approach says the the options get narrowed down, this in reality is where the brands most active online often replace the brands that were in the original consideration list (perhaps added to the list because of traditional advertising). The consumer’s options actually expand during this phase and the originals often get thrown out where there isn’t enough information online or customer reviews to support them.

Even more critical in what is being seen now in consumer behaviour, McKinsey discovered that during the 4th stage (enjoy-advocate-bond) more than 60% of consumers conduct online research about the products after purchase – a touch point entirely missing from the sales funnel approach. It is during this after purchase where your customer will advocate for your product or service by word of mouth, and produce online content to help future consumers in the consider and evaluate phases.

Other recent research by the Harvard Business Review team has shown that achieving the “full” sale to a B2B client is best achieved by providing the opportunity for that client to purchase small prototypes or incremental products along the buying journey i.e. as part of the evaluate stage. For more about this read: “To Increase Sales, Get Customers to Commit a Little at a Time“.

It was no small task, but the Harvard Business Review article describes an example implementation of changing the view of marketing to that of the ‘Consumer Decision Journey’ lead to a new TV becoming the top seller on Amazon.com and the company’s best performer in retail stores, far exceeding the marketers’ expectations.

To ensure that your product or service is not thrown out by prospects during the Evaluate phase of the consumer journey, and to help new customers to Enjoy, Advocate and Bond:

  1. Make sure your product or service is present online, not only in your own website, but also in comparison sites and marketplaces (for B2C) and online communities (for B2B)
  2. Foster online reviews of your products and services via social media and 3rd party websites
  3. Provide rich and easily accessible information online for people who have already purchased your product or service to help them get the most out of it
  4. Introduce new ways to inspire existing customers to refer their friends and colleagues to you – think DropBox who give away additional storage space for referring business

Your email marketing activities should assist you with with each of the above. Email campaigns should be created specifically for new customers and should point to additional online resources, and specifically ask for reviews or feedback. Email campaigns to your wider database should reference case studies and additional information available to help prospects in the evaluate phase.

If you need help with:

  • creating incremental or prototype products to sell to your clients as they evaluate,
  • creating additional online content,
  • making your online content more engaging,
  • ensuring you have a vibrant social media presence,
  • ensuring your product or service can be found easily online (SEO), or
  • creating email marketing campaigns that engage,

don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We are passionate about helping businesses to grow using online technologies.

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Gamification of your online store

October 28th, 2015 by Heather Maloney

gamificationAll of you who attended the Melbourne Business Network event yesterday morning with me, and heard James Tuckerman speak about “5 disruptive trends and tactics that will reinvent how business is done in 2016″, will undoubtedly have been considering how you can implement gamification.

Gamification is “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts” (source).

But first, if you are interested in some recent statistics on the impact of gamification, here’s an article I found which is a quick read: Gamification in 2015: Top Statistics and Facts. Here’s some more facts and figures.

Here’s a quick brainstorm on how to implement gamification into the online shopping experience (without culling the ridiculous … yes, aliens may get a mention).

Let’s get the obvious out the way first:

  • For first time customers (you can work that out based on their email address) after successful payment immediately reward them with a ‘first time customer’ badge, and give them something as a reward – that might be an additional extra product thrown into their first delivery, a discount off their next purchase, reward points …

By the way, before I go on … congratulations on choosing to read this blog, and getting past the first few paragraphs! Click here to get your reward. Seriously now, click!

Now where were we … okay, back to the perhaps less obvious ideas (and you wouldn’t necessarily do all of these things simultaneously):

  1. After the customer adds an item into their shopping cart, congratulate them with a badge and explain that they are x steps closer to owning their new item. Sounds, visuals and a feeling of game play are important aspects of gamification; so don’t make it too boring.
  2. As the customer works their way through the checkout, make it into a game … giving them fun visuals showing that they are progressing through the purchasing of their prize.
  3. For returning customers, give them a different reward compared to first timers … perhaps accrue points towards their free / goal purchase. To make this feel like a game, perhaps avoid a “frequent flier points” style point system, and lean more towards collecting cute ‘widgets’ to achieve a goal number of ‘widgets’.
  4. For customers who click through from your purchase confirmation email, to track the progress of their order or shipping, show them another badge – the excited shopper award perhaps! Make this sometimes anxious stage of the wait fun for your customer, and ease their mind that their parcel is on the way.
  5. For customers who click through to view your terms and conditions or payment security page, show them another badge – the careful shopper award perhaps. Again, this helps you to turn this more serious matter into something more light hearted and friendly.

Alright … there’s the brainstorm. You’ve probably thought of a few more, so please add to the above list via the comments!

Or tell us if you have noticed gamification popping up in business websites, like the DropBox example 1 and example 2?

NB: There is a real life prize for the first comment added to this blog post. You will receive your surprise gift in the mail.

 

 

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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

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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