Friday, 28 September 2012

I have an idea for an app..

I make my living writing mobile apps. If people stop asking for mobile apps, I can't make a living.

I'd like to suggest though, that sometimes, no make that _usually_, the right answer for your project is not a mobile app.

But how would you know, you ask?

Tell #1
If you're sure your app could solve at least four or five key problems that people face everyday - don't build an app.

The best apps address one problem, and solve the heck out of it.

Tell #2
If, while describing your app, you say, "it's just like a magazine, only better" -- don't build an app.

What you may need my friend, is to publish an e-book. Same great content, same mobile audience, all for less than 1/4 the effort (and cost!)

Tell #3
Your financing plan calls for the graphic artists and programmers you'll hire to be willing to work for an equity share in your sure-fire-can't-miss venture.

Please step away from your 5-slide Keynote deck. You perhaps, quite honestly, have no idea at the literally dozens, of pitches we digital creatives hear every month. Most backed with promises of IPO happy endings. If only all the stock options I've been offered had come in 2-ply, I might get some use out of them...

To be clear, I'm not the one to tell you your idea is not original, or that you're only a small break and a couple of angel investors away from being the next Facebook.

You may be all those things. In fact, the plan in your head may indeed be for the next Angry Birds.

Please also consider that it may not.

If you do insist, you can hire me, of course. I will build that app. After all, it is your money.

What is Passbook?

What is Passbook?

A full Passbook
With the release of iOS 6, Apple has begun to share its vision of the digital wallet.

While many mobile hardware vendors have embedded NFC chips into their mobile devices, Apple's Passbook solution avoids that route.

Instead of adding NFC chips and waiting for retailers to build out the changes to Point-of-Sale infrastructure needed to support it, Apple argues the better approach is  to use the lowly, yet ubiquitous hand scanner.

The Passbook solution then is implemented through software alone.

So, again, what is Passbook?

Passbook is an application bundled into iOS 6. It serves as a container for "passes", in the same way that their Newsstand app is a container for magazines and periodicals.

In Apple's parlance, a pass is a digital representation of the many pieces of paper and plastic we carry in our wallets today. Boarding passes, store and membership cards, as well as coupons and event tickets can all be created as digital passes and stored in Passbook.

In addition to having all your passes collected in one place, Passbook offers a few interesting tricks, like Relevance. By taking advantage of the iPhone being a time and location-aware device, passes can be set to present themselves at the time and place of the vendor’s choosing.

For example, if you have a concert ticket in your Passbook, a scannable ticket can be set to pop itself onto your home screen when you are near to the concert hall aroound the start time for the show.

Pass showing on the
Lock screen
Passbook Workflow Example
Customer Sally signs up for free coupons from a local retailer, Cool Stuff Co. She is sent an email containing a Coupon pass. After opening the email on her iPhone, Sally installs the pass into Passbook with a single click.

The retailer has encoded the pass with the address of their shops closest to Sally's home. Whenever Sally nears one of the shops, a reminder pops onto the Lock Screen of her iPhone, informing her that "Cool Stuff Co. is nearby".

When Sally taps on the reminder, she is taken directly to a scannable version of the coupon -- showing her how much she will save by shopping today. As Sally makes a purchase and the store clerk scans the coupon, the Cool Stuff Co. servers make a note of the purchase. Automagically they update the value of Sally's coupon while adding the date of their next big sale.

When time comes for the next Big Sale, Sally is shown a reminder to shop at Cool Stuff Co.

Vendor Participation
Any organization can create and distribute passes simply by signing up to the $99 USD per year Apple Developer Program.