Category Archives: Mobile Conferences

GDC 2016

GDC 2016 Highlights for Mobile Apps

There is a lot for mobile marketers and gamers to be excited about as 2016 unfolds!

With a whopping 41% of apps downloaded in 2015 being game apps, mobile marketers wishing to capitalize on the latest trends within the app economy would do well to pay attention to current mobile gaming trends and habits.

Many of these trends were highlighted and discussed at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC), held in San Francisco. The conference was attended by approximately 30,000 persons (including gamers, marketers and hangers on) and was streamed online.

We feature some of the major highlights of GDC 2016 below. GDC 2016 highlights mobile marketers should make note of

Some of the significant emerging ad and mobile technology trends to watch in 2016, as announced at the GDC 2016, include:

1. Virtual Reality (VR) taking center stage

Unsurprisingly, VR was hands down the hottest topic at GDC 2016. VR for mass market consumption has been a development issue on the mobile gaming table seemingly forever.

Well, the wait is finally over, as October 2016 is expected to be the time of unveiling. As far as the practical application of the feature is concerned, the following can be expected:

  • The official bringing to market of Virtual Reality hardware wearables from leading mobile brands PlayStation (unveiled as PSVR at a cost of US399), Oculus, Sony and HTC
  • Entrance of other players into the VR gaming market after PSVR becomes more mainstream
  • Ongoing experiments regarding an all-in-one VR headset unit, fitted with all the best hardware trimmings

2. New features in Google Play designed to benefit independent game developers

One of the GDC’s most talked about announcement was that of an Indie Corner coming to the Google Play Store.

The Indie Corner is a curated list that features the top independent games, and the feature provides yet another avenue for independent mobile game developers to extend their reach and attract more players.

Criteria that will be used to decide which games make the cut are:

  • Whether or not the game is interesting
  • Stability
  • Originality
  • Good utilization of Google Play Games Service
  • Small team size, not exceeding 15 people
  • Overall high game quality

3. Mobile game marketing insights from leading industry players

Leading mobile game developers such as Uken Games, EA Games and Spry Fox dropped a lot of unconventional mobile gaming marketing wisdom on the GDC attendees on the very first day of the conference.

The same included:

  • The development of an automated analytics system designed to detect click-based fraud and prevent ‘visible cheating’ (Uken Games)
  • The introduction of rare events and collectibles with in-game functions that are tangible, and “bear speak” mechanic, geared at increasing active users and increasing retention rates — both of which jumped (Spry Fox)
  • How to turn established game property into an F2P mobile game hit (EA)

4. Unity Technology’s impressive figures and other updates

Game development software giant, Unity Technology, made public some stunning figures during the company’s updates at GDC 2016.

Unity Technology revealed that it now enjoys unique monthly users in excess of 1.1 million — a figure that surpasses the total number of employees who work for publicly owned gaming companies across the entire globe.

Other impressive Unity figures included:

  • Building approximately 300 of the 1000 (30%) highest grossing mobile games in Q4 2015
  • Advertising growing by more than fivefold since GDC 2015

Other Unity Technology updates included the availability of Unity 5.4 and 5.3.4, with Unity 5.4 being poised to improve flat 2D rendering and pave the way for virtual reality (see highlight number 1 above).

There was also the announcement of:

  • A Unity certificate program that is “hard” and “definitely not an easy beginner level.”
  • An innovative new way to control multi-developer projects by new users being easily added to project files, quick project adaptation and cloud saves. A beta program for the same is now available at unity3d.com/collaborate
  • A one-click, no SDK, integration, with three times as many platforms being supported and easier to create and launch IAP

WWDC

Apple WWDC 2015 – Proactive Siri and Native Apple Watch Apps

The big news from WWDC 2015 was the release of Apple Music, new Mac OS El Capitan, and the announcement of iOS9.

Our favorites – new OS for Apple watch that allows for native apps, and an expanded Siri.

Similar to Google’s Now on Tap announcement at their recent developer conference,  a more contextually aware and thus useful and proactive Siri was revealed.

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The implications to mobile marketing and mobile apps are significant as both Apple and Google (and Facebook) have made it clear they recognize the market loves apps.

Siri is just one end point for a user to access search. Spotlight being another.

Apple wants to be sure users can reach the value in the mobile apps on their device with deeper integrations with content in the “mobile app silo”.

Enabling users to access content in an app from another app.

Enabling users to search (via Siri or Spotlight) with results that include app content.

Federighi said Siri — “has quietly become popular.”

Each week, Apple’s voice recognition software answers more than 1 billion requests.

Proactively suggesting apps based on various inputs and user behavior – weather app in the morning, music app on a run, calorie tracker after run or at cafe.

Having a mobile app means tapping into how users are interacting with their devices, like a website can’t.

Native Apps for the Apple Watch

apple-watchos-2

Apple Watch apps are about to take a big next step.

“Performance will be great. Responsiveness will be great. It’ll be a great new frontier for your Watch,” Apple’s Kevin Lynch

The new OS allows developers to access the watch microphone, speaker, and accelerometer.  Currently, Apple Watch apps run on an iPhone and are displayed to the watch.  

Not only does native watch apps mean much better, creative, faster apps – but more likely than not, we can expect to see an Apple Watch specific app store coming soon.

Since Apple Watch apps are really iPhone apps that are compatible with the watch, the app store has a curated list of Apple Watch compatible apps.

Expect this to change as developers start to release apps built specifically for the Apple Watch.

Another opportunity to collect and optimize app store meta data and tap into what your target market is looking for from the app stores.

Google IO

Mobile Highlights from Google IO 2015

Last week Google hosted its developers conference – Google IO 2015 – at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

This was not a mobile-only event, but because Android is a massive end-point for collecting data and reaching users, almost every announcement had a mobile focus or application.

Sure, there was an announcement about a revamped Google Photos that comes with unlimited storage for pics and videos.

But the announcements from Google IO 2015 that will likely have the biggest impact on mobile marketing and mobile strategies are Android Pay, Now on Tap and Project Brillo – Android for your Smart Home.

Android Pay

Despite multiple attempts at creating a digital wallet, Google is moving Google Wallet on mobile devices to Android Pay.

The challenge for Google has been and may continue to be they don’t own the hardware.

So when Samsung adds a payments app – do they pull Android Pay from their default Android OS?

What could make this effort different from previous attempts is both the precedent set by Apple with Apple Pay, and broader partnership with financial institutions.

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A “Pay with Android Pay” button for mobile shopping apps should be an obvious addition as an option for shoppers.

It is expected Android Pay (and Apple Pay for that matter) should function like Paypal has for the web – my details are already stored so entering my card info is not a roadblock to a sale, or customer leakage point.

Google Now on Tap

Part contextual awareness, part knowledge graph – Google Now on Tap looks to be almost a super-intuitive assistant in your pocket.

Scenarios to explain the application include:

  • clicking home button (to activate Now), and asking “What is his real name?” for the artist you are listening to on Spotify. (This was the example used in the I/O demo – and Skrillex’s name is  Sonny John Moore – FYI).
  • texting restaurant plans, activating Now, seeing options for reviews of restaurant, option to reserve a table, a map etc…

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Now on Tap potentially makes mobile devices much, much smarter, more useful and goes where Apple was trying to take Siri.

Project Brillo

A simpler version of Android specifically for the “Connected” or “Smart” home.

The promise is that Project Brillo provides a platform for hardware manufacturers and developers that is cost effective enough to use for light bulbs.

This is mobile news because Project Brillo enables a connection from a mobile app to the physical world.

It is easy to think of use cases for turning off and on lights, shutting garage door, adjusting the thermostat.

When a mobile app can control a connected physical object – not just lightbulbs but anything – we start to appreciate how ambitious this Google I/O event was.