Category Archives: Mobile Apps

Facebook backs App Links for app-to-app linking on mobiles

At its F8 conference on Wednesday, Facebook said we need a better way to move between links and apps on mobile devices. Indeed we do, as it’s no fun getting bounced around from one app only to open another for a short bit and then have to find our way back to the original app. Enter App Links: An open-source effort to make mobile linking a more seamless experience.

app links

The idea of hitting a link in one app to open another isn’t new. What App Links appears to be is a standardized way to do this going forward through metadata tags and a centralized repository of APIs that Facebook is indexing. It already supports Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft Windows Phone platforms.

So what does this “app to app linking” promise bring? A better end-user experience for one:

The idea here is that instead of app developers hard-coding calls to open other specific apps from their own software, App Links code can be used to open a variety of related apps. That would save development time and allow for a wider range of software that can be called from within an mobile app.

app links code

Facebook said a number of partners are already using App Links: Spotify is working with Songkick so that users can hear a song in Spotify, tap a link to buy concert tickets from Songkick for the artist and then be back in Spotify, all while the song keeps playing. “One line of code sends users to the selected URL and brings them back into the app,” said Facebook’s Ilya Sukhar when presenting App Links.

While App Links is beneficial to the mobile industry as a whole, it’s evident why Facebook is strongly backing it. By getting users out to content from within Facebook and then back again to Facebook, the company can keep users highly engaged within Facebook’s walls.

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Study shows iOS apps crash more than Android

Android has mostly caught up to iOS in terms of the number and quality of apps available, and it might have eclipsed it in another regard: App stability. According to Crittercism’s Mobile Experience Benchmark report, apps are about twice as likely to crash on iOS as they are on Android.

Crittercism Android

Not surprisingly, the study shows that newer versions of Android and iOS offer more stability than older ones. KitKat, Jelly Bean and Ice Cream Sandwich, for instance, showed a 0.7-percent app crash rate, while apps crashed 1.7 percent on the older Gingerbread OS. The same is true for iOS. The latest iOS 7.1 has a 1.6-percent app crash rate, while apps on iOS 7 crash 2.1 percent of the time. iOS 6 is even higher at 2.5 percent.

As someone who primarily uses an iPhone but tests plenty of Android devices, I find this somewhat surprising. Anecdotally, I definitely experience more crashes on the Android phones I test, but then again, I mostly just tend to run the same apps over and over again on my iPhone, which brings less variability to the mix.

Crittercism Apple

The study also shows that gaming apps have the highest crash rate, at 4.4 percent, while e-commerce apps tend to crash the least, at 0.4 percent. That makes sense, since games tend to be much more resource intensive and are becoming fairly complex on mobile devices.

The report also breaks down app stability by certain devices. The Samsung Galaxy S4, for instance, is shown to experience fewer crashes than either the Galaxy S3 or the HTC One. For iOS, the iPhone 5 is the most stable device, followed by the iPhone 5s. The iPad 2 experiences the highest number of crashes, likely because it runs the oldest hardware.

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Strava unifies running and cycling apps; adds new audio updates, social features

Fans of Strava on both Android and iOS should be happy today as the exercise tracking app got a huge update — Strava 4.0 — on Thursday. The software adds a number of social features, gains audio updates at various points during a route segment and paying subscribers can now track miles on shoes, bicycles or other equipment.

Strava 4.0 Activity Feed

While adding the new features, Strava has combined its running and cycling software into a single app with version 4.0; helpful for those that cross-train. And it has made the software useful in more countries, now supporting 11 languages in this version including Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Traditional Chinese.

On the social side, Stava’s new activity feed shows Instagram photos taken during exercise and also has one-touch buttons for sharing activities to Facebook, Path and Twitter. When working out with others, activities are automatically grouped for all involved. Maps of routes will also appear so you can see where your friends are working out.

All of these features are included in the free version of Strava, but premium subscribers ($6 a month or $59 a year) gain some extra benefits in the app. Audio data for a workout segment start, halfway point and finish are included. And premium users gain the ability specify the equipment used in a workout. Since running sneakers start to break down after a certain number of miles, this is a feature I look for in all of my exercise apps. The premium subscription also provides detailed historical charts and analysis of your efforts.

Strava 4.0 is available now in the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.

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Strava unifies running and cycling apps; adds new audio updates, social features

Fans of Strava on both Android and iOS should be happy today as the exercise tracking app got a huge update — Strava 4.0 — on Thursday. The software adds a number of social features, can now track miles on shoes, bicycles or other equipment and paying subscribers gains audio updates at various points during a route segment.

Strava 4.0 Activity Feed

While adding the new features, Strava has combined its running and cycling software into a single app with version 4.0; helpful for those that cross-train. And it has made the software useful in more countries, now supporting 11 languages in this version including Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Traditional Chinese.

On the social side, Stava’s new activity feed shows Instagram photos taken during exercise and also has one-touch buttons for sharing activities to Facebook, Path and Twitter. When working out with others, activities are automatically grouped for all involved. Maps of routes will also appear so you can see where your friends are working out. And you can track equpiment used: Since running sneakers start to break down after a certain number of miles, this is a feature I look for in all of my exercise apps.

All of these features are included in the free version of Strava, but premium subscribers ($6 a month or $59 a year) gain some extra benefits in the app, such as audio data for a workout segment start, halfway point and finish. The premium subscription also provides detailed historical charts and analysis of your efforts.

Strava 4.0 is available now in the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.

This post was updated at 5:50am, 3/14/2014 to correct the features added in the premium version.

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Strava unifies running and cycling apps; adds new audio updates, social features

Fans of Strava on both Android and iOS should be happy today as the exercise tracking app got a huge update — Strava 4.0 — on Thursday. The software adds a number of social features, gains audio updates at various points during a route segment and paying subscribers can now track miles on shoes, bicycles or other equipment.

Strava 4.0 Activity Feed

While adding the new features, Strava has combined its running and cycling software into a single app with version 4.0; helpful for those that cross-train. And it has made the software useful in more countries, now supporting 11 languages in this version including Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Traditional Chinese.

On the social side, Stava’s new activity feed shows Instagram photos taken during exercise and also has one-touch buttons for sharing activities to Facebook, Path and Twitter. When working out with others, activities are automatically grouped for all involved. Maps of routes will also appear so you can see where your friends are working out.

All of these features are included in the free version of Strava, but premium subscribers ($6 a month or $59 a year) gain some extra benefits in the app. Audio data for a workout segment start, halfway point and finish are included. And premium users gain the ability specify the equipment used in a workout. Since running sneakers start to break down after a certain number of miles, this is a feature I look for in all of my exercise apps. The premium subscription also provides detailed historical charts and analysis of your efforts.

Strava 4.0 is available now in the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.

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‘Fixed’ app helps iOS users fight parking tickets

Tired of paying for questionable parking tickets? Believe it or not, there is now an app for that. Fixed, a new iOS app for fighting parking tickets, is available today from Apple’s App Store. Simply take a photo of your ticket and let Fixed do the rest.

The app was inspired by the number of parking tickets its co-founder David Hegarty was getting. “I have a car in San Francisco, and I can’t tell you how many times I personally got parking tickets that were completely bogus,” Hegarty said. “Either the signs were missing, or the street paint had worn off. Dealing with parking tickets is a complete pain, and so what happens is people end up paying even if they know they were not at fault.”

Fixed ticket photo

So how does it work? All you have to do is download the app, take a photo of your parking ticket, and submit it to Fixed. Fixed will show you the likelihood of beating the ticket, and how much money you’ll save if you do. If you decide to contest the ticket, Fixed will take care of the rest from there.

The company has worked with a team of legal researchers and lawyers to pore over the parking regulations and find the most common types of errors. Fixed says it can increase your chance of beating a ticket from one-third to over fifty percent.

The app and service are completely free to use, and if you lose, you don’t owe Fixed anything. If you win, you agree to pay Fixed 25 percent of your parking ticket. So if you were just planning to pay your parking ticket to get it over with, you really have nothing to lose. And you also don’t need to take a day off from work to appear in court.

Fixed percentage

Fixed isn’t about beating the system, says Hegarty, but making it better. “If people park illegally they should get tickets, but it is then the city’s responsibility to make clear and accurate signs and keep them up-to-date. Think of Fixed as fixing your parking tickets, but also fixing the system.”

The app is only able to fight tickets in San Francisco to start, but Hegarty plans to expand to additional major cities soon.

“We’re going to launch our second city in April,” Hegarty said. “We’ll decide which city based on the number of downloads by city. Right now, it’s a dead heat between NYC, LA and Chicago.”

Fixed contest

After launching the first two cities, Hegarty hopes to tackle the top 100 cities in the U.S. It might start at the rate of roughly one city per month, but he hopes for it to grow quicker from there. Traffic tickets and moving violations might also be included over time. And plans for an Android app are in the works, which Hegarty estimates is about two months out.

As a Brooklyn resident without a license, Fixed likely isn’t an app I’ll need to use any time soon. But it does seem like a pretty great alternative to paying for a parking ticket you know you didn’t deserve. As it rolls out to more locations, I’m sure many of my Zipcar-driving friends will soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief.

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