5 Apps to Help Make Thanksgiving Easier

It’s that time of the year again: Thanksgiving, the day where people all across the United States get together to celebrate the union between the native peoples of North America and European Settlers. It’s the time when families from coast to coast, town to town, get together simply just to be together.

Thanksgiving means good food and better times – though we’ve all heard or had our share of Family time horror stories! When it comes down to it, Thanksgiving is about family: the good, the bad, and even the sometimes ugly.

But we also all know that Thanksgiving requires a lot of planning beforehand, a lot of cooking the day of and through it all you have to remain pleasant and engaging. The good news is that modern technologies can be leveraged to help your Holiday go off without a hitch!

Today, we’ll take a look at some of the best apps for Thanksgiving on the market. All of the apps we will talk about were chosen for their exquisite designs and superior coding, as well as for cleverness and effectiveness.

1. Yummly [Free]

Yummly is easily one of the best Recipe and Grocery apps on the market. It has a great design which makes use of appropriate color schemes and conventional phone gestures to create a truly seamless experience. It curates hundreds to thousands of recipes and adds more every single day. Users can easily scroll through this comprehensive database, viewing ingredients within the app and import the ingredients directly into Yummly’s shopping list. The shopping list itself is great, with two views: by Aisle and by Recipe.

But the best part is the customization options. Yummly allows users to easily add in dietary restrictions and allergies. Yummly’s Algorithm uses Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to eliminate recipes that don’t match your needs. PLUS the algorithm learns from each user, studying which recipes are looked at and which ones saved. Each datapoint allows it to offer users recipes more in keeping with their preferred style and flavor palate. AND it’s free!

2. Heads Up! [Free, with in-App purchases]

Everybody loves games but sometimes we all get bored of the traditional games stored in everyone’s closet: Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, even a deck of cards. The problem with a lot of Game apps is that they’re 2 players or players don’t interact with one another in any significant way.

Heads Up, on the other hand, is designed to be played by large groups and forces people to interact and have fun with one another. To play, a user selects from a list of categories, puts the phone to their head (so they don’t see what it says) and the rest of the group offers hints to help the ‘victim’ guess what the phone says. Obviously, from a design perspective, the requirements are simple – as are the coding needs. But this game is a ton of fun and will have your family talking about your Thanksgiving for years.

3. Team Stream [Free]

There’s another beloved aspect to Thanksgiving: Football. Other than Turkey, food comas, and drunken embarrassments, football is one of the central tenements behind a good Thanksgiving. This is going to be even more noticeable this year, with the recent explosion in the popularity of Fantasy Football. Bleacher Report released its own app to help you keep tabs on every football development out there.

The coolest part of this app are its Search Protocols. It serves as a dedicated Football aggregator. It pulls breaking news from all major news outlets (local and national) as well as Twitter (the great Aggregator itself), and the top Sports blogs on the net.

4. Lush [$2, iOS only)

Booze – it’s what brings us together. Or something. Either way, good alcohol (and plenty of it) is a pretty general requirement for most Thanksgiving Households. While a jack and coke is a crowd favorite, many people are really getting on the Cocktail bandwagon.

While the fact that Lush is for iOS only and that it costs $2 are both serious drawbacks, it maintains one of the largest databases of cocktail drinks and recipes. Search through hundreds of recipes by ingredients, serving glass, and (naturally) drink name. It will even help you pick out what the best drinks for you are. If you love cocktails, this is the app for you.

5. SnipSnap [Free]

Obviously, Thanksgiving can cost a lot of money – heck a whole Turkey can easily cost over $100. Plus, the day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday – the biggest sales day of the year. Snip Snap let’s you download online coupons or photograph printed coupons to digitally store them.

But the true genius behind SnipSnap is its geolocation feature: I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can never actually remember which coupons I have for what stores (in my wallet or on my phone!). SnipSnap uses your phone to track your location and automatically let’s you know when you have a coupon for a nearby retailer. Finally, the Ultimate Saver can get the ultimate savings!

Like the idea of a Thanksgiving app, but none of them are working for you? Why not build your own? Apps are relatively inexpensive to build and quick to develop. Plus, monetization is easy with this type of app! Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 (or click to contact us) to build your own app in 4 weeks or less!

How AI and AR Apps can Change Agriculture

The two biggest tech trends to really take off in 2016 have been Mixed Reality (VR and AR) and Artificial intelligence (AI). As a Tech development company, we’ve obviously covered a lot of these:

But in our review of our posts in 2016, we realized that most of these focus on tech businesses, or Software management systems. There’s no discussion of other industries, no look at how AI and Mixed Reality (MR) can change businesses that we don’t normally think of as being revolutionized by tech.

With all of our years of experience in this business, we’ve realized that the world as we know it is inevitably headed towards a vast global network of Digitally connected devices – i.e. the Internet of Things (IoT). While most people are well aware of this by now, sometimes we find ourselves struck at just how quickly our world is changing, in ways that we’ve never even thought of.

One of these industries? Agriculture. And no, not for managing inventory, though that’s totally possible. We’re talking about how AI and AR are directly impacting the physical process of Farming.

Look, in California, there are two major industries: Agriculture and Technology. Silicon Valley itself is a symbol these two massive sectors: A technological wonderland in the middle of one the most fertile valleys in the world. It was only a matter of time before the two of these meshed.

Artificial Intelligence especially has massive potential to change the physical nature of Agriculture. As anyone who grows any sort of plant can tell you, farming is all about making a series of judgments, correctly, in the right order:

♦ The planting:

○ When to plant;

○ What to plant;

○ Where to plant; and

○ When to plant what where.

♦ Upkeep:

○ How much to water;

○ When to water;

○ When to provide nutrients (and of course what nutrients go to which plant, how much).

♦ Harvest

○ You get the idea.

What we’re trying to make evident is that there are a ton of different decisions to make. And these things don’t operate in a vacuum: the environment and climate have a massive impact on each and everyday. A low frost one night can kill off an entire crop, or a few extra hours of rain could mean plants dying from too much watering.

There are hundreds of data points from which farmers can to take information, but like most of us, they’re human. Which means they have to compromise – or at least they used to. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence can be – and are – leveraged to help Farmers better manage their crops.

AI can take up-to-the-minute information from thousands of sources; IoT sensors designed to monitor crops, weather service stations, recent satellite information; AI can collect information on the fertilizer you’re providing to your crops, cross-referencing it with what crops you’re growing – and even comparing it to published reports from Ag science.

You can then take AI to the next step: figuring out when will be the best date to harvest your crops, when to sell what crop, and where to sell it for the best possible profit margin. And all the while, an AI algorithm will learn more about your farm every second. This is the power of AI: Constant and improving Value.

But if you noticed in the beginning, we talked about AI and MR. Recently, a new Startup started making waves here in Silicon Valley – Plant.IO. This startup focuses on just this intersection. They created a system of sensors, lights, cameras and more that take detailed measurements, using AI and Machine Learning to understand the real time needs of each and every plant.

But the really cool part? All of this data is wirelessly transmitted to a set of AR Goggles, which then overlay a digital environment over each plant. All a farmer has to do is put on the headset and they can easily see what each plant needs: water, more light, fertilizers, and so on. So AI and AR come together to increase yields, decrease disease, and decrease costs.

Plus, with better crop management also means less wasted water and even less pollutants (fertilizers) going into the ground. Basically, AI makes Agriculture more effective, cheaper, and less environmentally destructive – and much, much easier on the farmer!

Technologies like Augmented/Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence are changing the world. Industry by industry, sector by sector, business by business. SDI is a tech development company that has been using tools like Machine Learning, AI and even VR/AR in our projects when they were still prototypes

We know how to make Tech work for you. We know how to grow Enterprise. Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

How AI Can Lead to Better Business Management

AI for business is an incredibly helpful tool for enterprises when used correctly. And it’s one that’s growing exponentially in popularity. Just take a look at some numbers recently published in a Forbes Magazine article: 38% of 235 enterprises the NBRI looked at are already using AI for a variety of tasks; and more importantly, 62% of these enterprises expect to be using AI by 2018.

But here’s the rub: AI is a massively broad catch all term. Over the last few years, people have termed all sorts of machine coding techniques as ‘AI;’ in fact, saying that your business uses AI is kind of like saying your garden has plants. In other words, AI is an umbrella for a whole host of technologies.

To put a finer point on this argument, let’s refer back to that aforementioned Forbes article. They broke down ‘AI’ into manageable buckets; however, all of these different abilities need some explaining to the layperson. So first, will cover what AI tech is being used – and what it is supposed to accomplish:

• 58% use AI to help predict where their market or business is headed (i.e. opportunities, obstacles, new markets, etc). Generally, this is accomplished by what has been termed “Deep Learning,” but may be more familiar to others out there by its older name, Neural Networks.

In fact, Deep Learning goes by a lot of names; the takeaway here is that it enables algorithms to take data and make actual abstractions based off data (predictions). An additional report from Progressive Intelligence provided some other interesting perspectives on this: their case study found that their test subjects using AI for risk management found a Total Cost of Ownership decrease of nearly 40%.

• 26% are using AI to automate routine tasks. This is done via rules-based systems (i.e. when A) is true, then B) happens). While this is currently mostly limited to routine tasks, deep learning and other machine learning tactics can be leveraged to make AI even more effective.

• In addition to automating routine business processes, another 25% of the enterprises studied reported using Natural Language Processes to automate all written reporting and communication. This also includes document archiving, searchable via a Natural Language Semantic model.

• Finally, another quarter of the enterprises surveyed reported using Natural Language Machine learning techniques (a facet of AI) to improve voice recognition as well as providing a model for cogent responses (i.e. something that sounds vaguely human). Think Siri, or Cortana – those digital personal secretaries that are all the rage right now. Wrapped up in this is a full 10% of enterprises that use this to offer a better response to user queries and complaints.

Clearly AI, when used properly, can be a massive boon across the board for enterprises of all sorts. But, as with all new things, there is a danger of applying AI incorrectly. While the best fix to this problem is simply to contact SDI’s development team, there is one overarching principle that seems to lead to success: Complete lifecycle management.

In other words, the value of AI for Startups and SMBs can only be truly unlocked when AI is treated as an everyday fixture of how you run your business. AI is capable of helping your company in pretty much every imaginable way – but only when you use it as a full operational superstructure for business management.

The study from Progressive Intelligence also offered another interesting case study in the field of Insurance and Investment Portfolios: the company they studied used AI to assist their 112 agents in decision making. By automating many of the simpler tasks, this company’s AI assistant took what was once a 5 day process and reduced it to 3 hours.

Obviously, this is a massive success story and was picked for a reason; but that being said, it is truly indicative of the potential capabilities Artificial Intelligence can provided to enterprises of all stripes.

AI can be the single best resource your business has ever had. But only if it’s applied correctly, In other words, don’t try to climb this mountain on your own: Give our guides a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

How to Market Your Android App on Google Play Part 2

There are legitimate techniques to growth hack your Android and iOS app. Earlier this week, we covered the basics of what good app marketing looks like; (click here to get caught up) today we’re going to dive a bit deeper into the key difference in marketing your app on Google Play, as opposed to the App Store.

App Discovery is the fancy pants term we use when discussing how your app comes to be in front of users. When it comes to The App Store, apps are promoted when they achieve a higher ranking:

• Top Reviews (stars);

• Top Comments;

• Number of Downloads;

This stands opposed to Google’s discovery process: tailored app recommendations based on previous User Downloads.

So what is so important about this difference? It means that an Android App needs to have its message on point. Your app description needs to be 100% clear, intelligent, and above all convey concisely what your app does.

This is important because it can put your app at the fingertips of users who are already interested in similar apps. This is a significant advantage over iOS because it saves you time identifying target markets and in cultivating interest. More importantly, this can be used as a huge marketing resource.

While a good marketer always has a list of identified users ready to go (long prior to launch!), Google’s Discovery algorithm is an excellent way to identify missed markets. Our marketing team conducts a discovery analysis of other apps recommended next to ours:

• What services exactly do they offer?

How are they different from what we’re offering? What services are overlapping? If our apps are essentially identical. What are they doing that we could do better?

• Is there message effective?

How are they phrasing the service or product they are offering? Are they using language that is more or less effective? Are we doing it better? Even if we are, what can we learn from them to improve our own app?

• Where are the users of similar apps spending their digital team?

This may be the most important takeaway here. Other apps on Google’s Recommended for You page already have tons of users. Analyzing these other apps can point you to key focus areas. This includes Facebook Groups (a valuable tool for brand promotion), niche social media groups, and other online resources.

There’s another point to make here: while this is all done by analyzing Google Play results, the information gleaned can be applied to iOS marketing techniques as well. Google’s app discovery process is an absolutely vital tool for the Savvy marketer!

Call Silicon Valley’s App Marketers Today

Hopefully, you gained some great insights and helpful tricks from this post. But if you want some real help and a winning marketing strategy from a world-renowned team, give SDI a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

How to Market Your Android App on Google Play Part 1

Halloween, 2016, Google drops some scary news: they have revamped how they rank apps on Google Play. More specifically, their new detection system is designed to be better at shady development and marketing practices: From for-pay downloads (either from install bots or User Farms) to Fake reviews. Google is even going after apps that attempt to elicit positive reviews via offers or discounts.

When it comes down to it, this is good news for the legitimate app owner. Apps that practice deceitful marketing techniques such as those outline above get incorrectly ranked on the Google Play Charts, taking the place of legitimate apps. And Google isn’t trying to ban marketing in general – it’s actually trying to make the life of the marketer simpler.

But what if you contract out your app marketing services to a third party? We all want to believe that ever y company out there is as above board and honest as SDI, but the sad truth is that many tech marketers aren’t. Now is the time to make real sure that you’re in bed with the right team, and now is the time you can easily check: did your Android app ranking all of a sudden plummet? That could be a sign (though don’t jump to conclusions – there could be other reasons!).

This isn’t an argument to conduct app marketing activities yourself. After all, we are app development and marketing company, so that would be counter productive! Plus, think about it: if you’re a brick-and-mortar store, you probably don’t want to build the store yourself. Instead, you hire someone to do it for you.

App marketing strategies may seem simple on the outside, but the truth is that it may be the most complex part of a successful app campaign. An app marketer needs to know:

• Basic coding;

Marketers have to know how to make minor changes; proper marketing requires iterative testing cycles. Marketers can’t be contacting developers constantly, so they need to have basic coding skills. And this doesn’t even begin to cover Content Optimization for SEO and ASO.

• Design;

Marketing is always eyes-first. In other words, a good design is key to a successful marketing strategy. Without good design, no amount of marketing in other areas will be successful.

• Data Scientists;

App marketing requires extensive knowledge of modern analytics. Those iterative testing cycles mentioned above are based off of data. Marketers need to know how to use data tools and how to read reports. But most importantly, they need to know how to design an experiment. Digital marketing requires extensive monitoring and testing, so an app marketer by extension needs to know ways of testing, including creating their own testing environments.

These points are true for any app (or website, or software) and are essential to a successful app marketing strategy. Notice that you will not find “writing comments” or “Download Bots” or any other shady tricks. A good app marketing team works constantly on your behalf – including insisting upon legitimate strategies. Fraudulent practices result in your app being banned and our Developer’s License being revoked.

So now you know how to vet a marketing partner. But there are plenty of ways to get ranked on the Google Play Store. HOWEVER, you’re going to have to check back later this week for Part 2 of this post, where we will cover ways to improve your ranking on both Google Play as opposed to Apple’s App Store (yep, they do require different approaches!).

Don’t want to wait? Give us a call at 408.802.2885/408.621.8481 now to talk to our marketing team. You can also reach us by email!