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Washington DC

I'm Anthony and I'm the mobile developer for the little guy. I want to take new ideas and innovations and make them a reality. My expertise is in building iOS apps affordably and quickly, while doing laps around the other guys. Do you have an idea for a technology startup, but don't have a lot of money or tech talent to get started? I'm your guy. Do you want to grow your small business, retain more customers, and put your business in consumers pockets? I have you covered.



7 Things to Know When Meeting with an App Developer

Anthony Agby

Small business owners and entrepreneurs know the importance of being prepared.  Whether you are meeting with potential investors or contractors, you need the ability to express a clear vision of your idea.  When developing an app the same thing applies.  Here is a list of the seven things you should know before meeting with an app developer:

1. What will your App do? Not just a big picture concept like “the next Facebook” or a one-liner, but actual feature details.  Think the concept through enough to know not only what the end goal of the app is, but also the supporting parts that make it work.

2. Who the app is for?  Think specifically about who your target demographic is and how they will use it.  Knowing your audience is key not only to building a successful app, but marketing it in the future.
3. Why will they use your app? There are a lot of apps out there; you need to know what makes yours different.  Concentrate on what makes it better than current solutions or what gap in the market you are aiming to fill.

4. Do you need a server?  The server is a central place to store date, which needs to be accessible to all users.  The server stores profiles of users, making it possible for them to retain their profile even if they switch devices or lose their phone.   It also allows you to update content without updating the app in the app store.  There are also reasons not to need a server; for instance if the app is a utility that one user will use with no profiles or social aspect.  It is important to recognize this ahead of time.
5. What is your development Timeline?  Be upfront about the when you need this done and when it needs to be available in the app store.  The last thing you want is to find out further down the road it is not realistic to finish your app by your end date.  
6. How do you want the app to look? This may seem simple, but put some thought into the specifics: colors, fonts, example of apps of which you like the look and feel.  Think about icons, characters, and any design work that will be needed.
7. What is your budget?  Make sure to research ahead of time the average cost of your developer.  Going in knowing how much you want and are willing to spend.  Remember, cost affects time and the feature set available.


- Megan Curran

Apps and Small Business

Anthony Agby

If you were starting a business 10 years ago, you could get away with not having a website. That's not true anymore. The internet is how your customers find you, buy your products and services, and get in touch. It allows you to have customers from around the world and just around the corner.

We are going through a similar technology shift today. Everyone has a smartphone. They use it to socialize, do work, play games, research, get directions, buy products, and so much more. People love their smartphones. They're more personal than the personal computer. They go everywhere their owner does and are used 100s of times a day. The goal for businesses and organizations is to be just one or a few of those times. You want to be part of that personal and trusted relationship. Starting a business today, you need to have some kind of presence on your customer's smartphones. An app is the best way to achieve this.

Mobile apps allow businesses to have a personal relationship with their customers and keep them just a touch away. They are even better than a mobile-optimized website, which many still rely on. App users spend 20-50% more than mobile web users and have conversion rates that are 3-5 times higher. Why? Mobile apps can keep your customers logged in and they can view your products with a simple tap. They don't have to search for your site in their web browser and then log in on a small screen. On top of this mobile websites load slower, because they have to load all the graphics and images on the fly, while an app has the majority of them saved and only grabs the necessary data. A better customer experience and lower friction to making a purchase, sounds like a win-win to me.

The most amazing quality that apps have, is that you don't have to wait for your customers to come to you. You can reach out to them. With push notifications and social features, apps can become a two-way street that allows you to connect with customers and get feedback. A simple push notification on the day of a sale or promotion increases foot traffic 150-300%. For more service oriented businesses, you can utilize apps to setup appointments, schedule pickups/deliveries, and manage other customer support features. As an example, a local barber shop could schedule appointments, check in customers automatically when they arrive, allow them to pre-select a few hairstyles they like or save their go-to look, rate their barber, and accept payment. No paper work and an end-to-end system that makes business more enjoyable for everyone involved.

For years businesses have used rewards programs to honor their most loyal customers and nudge regular customers into the "loyal" category. No one wants to carry around a wallet full of rewards cards or remember their reward number. It's simpler to just have an app that automatically knows when they are at your business or when they make a purchase and put that towards their rewards. No one has to remember, the app just knows, and can let you and your customers know when the rewards kick in.

If you want to build a relationship with your customers and future-proof your business, then you need to look into getting a mobile app. The benefits overshadow the cost. Soon it will seem silly launching a business without an app to back it up. Your customers are going mobile. Are you?

Data from GPShopper - app developer of Best Buy, Shoe Carnival, and more

The Possibilities of iBeacons

Anthony Agby

iBeacons are the latest in greatest of mobile technology. They operate off the the most recent standard in bluetooth technology, which runs on less energy, at a lower cost and is included on all recent smartphones. iBeacons are devices that send out a bluetooth signal. At their core that's it, but what you can do with that signal is the real fun part. You can configure an app on a mobile device to do any number of actions when near a particular iBeacon.

Retails stores are the most common example of an industry that can benefit from beacons. Put an iBeacon by your front door and as a potential customer walks by they get a notification on your current sale. Automatically check them into your store, when they come in. Have an iBeacon under a few of your counters? You can tell what your customers are checking out and interested in and what they aren't. You can even use iBeacons to confirm payment, based on proximity. You even have the ability to transform a mobile device, such as an iPad you use as a register, into an iBeacon. This alleviates the extra cost of getting and maintaining a separate devices. All of those are more than enough reason to incorporate beacons into your brick-and-mortar establishment. What else could you do with this new technology?

Well you can make your apps very location aware and contextual. Say you manage a restaurant and a potential customer has your app. When they are away from your establishment, they want to find your location, contact you, and peruse your menu. When they come to your restaurant and get within beacon range, the app can do so much more. It can welcome them, ask how many are in their party, allow them to order from their phone, and even pay while they are there. This simple change makes the app more relevant to your customers, not to mention its ability to speed up service times and alleviate pressure on your waitstaff.

iBeacons are also great for navigation. A series of beacons can be a highly accurate network that can guide users to where they want to go, especially indoors where GPS and cell service aren't as reliable. Want to get around a museum, airport, or college campus? iBeacons know exactly where you are and where you want to go. Do you want to know more about the the sculpture you're looking at? Your phone knows which one you're standing in front of and can pull up the relevant info. Your airline will know that you're stuck in security and hold the plane until you reach the terminal. With the tap of a button, you could alert campus police to a dangerous incident and they can lock in on your location.

The proximity awareness of iBeacons makes them perfect for unlocking doors and automating home systems. Devices are already coming out now that will unlock your door, when you get within just a few feet. Great for when your hands are full. Hotels are also jumping on this technology. Fewer keys are always great. There is even potential to "lend" your key to others. Allowing guests, repair personal, and your current partner to access your home. Beyond your door, an iBeacon hub can automate your house. Turn on and off lights as you move between rooms, transfer music to different speakers, and much more. They can even be context aware. Coming home late on a Friday night? Play that smooth jazz you love when you walk in the door. That would be nice.

For those politically minded, beacons have amazing uses at rallies, protests, and conventions. Beacons can broadcast information to attendees, prompting them to share a slogan, sign a petition, or pledge a donation. In countries that crack down on internet access, you could use beacon technology to create a mesh network. A mesh network in this context would allow protestors phones to be there own network, relaying messages and information around to each other without an internet connection. Even conventions can benefit from iBeacons, with the ability to check in, navigate, and learn more in all the chaos.

iBeacons can transform an app from something pretty standard into a context aware powerhouse. Users can find what they want swifter and with more ease. App creators can get their message to the right users at the right time, while alleviating the workload of their employees. iBeacon technology is transforming many industries and everyone is benefitting from it. Why not jump in and be ahead of the curve?

Location Tracking in an App

Anthony Agby

This past year, location services have come into their own. The hardware and software have aligned to allow for tracking users location, without killing their phone's battery. As this technology becomes more refined, so do the sensibilities of your users. They are more savvy about being tracked and need to be showed the benefit of location tracking.

As an app creator, you now have to balance grabbing a user's location to provide benefit against their wariness of giving it to you. The first question you have to ask yourself, does my app need to grab their location? What benefit is it to you? What benefit is it to your users? Do I require their location when the app is in the background or only while they are using the app?

The majority of apps do not require a user's location. At best it only helps or enhances the experience. Note taking apps, calendar apps, social media apps, news apps, and general information apps usually fall into this category. The addition of location is not critical to them, but it may help or enhance the experience a little, such as seeing the notes you created at that location or checking out local news. Only ask for location when it seems necessary and useful. Be prepared for it to be rejected.

Other apps require location, but can function without a user's exact point. Uber and Yelp are great examples of this. They put location at their core, so when you go into the app content is relevant to where you are at right now. What if a user decided not to give one of these apps access to their location? This can be negated by a search bar of locations or an exact address input.  These are also effective methods to get an exact location when indoors or the phone has poor signal strength. 

Certain apps require a user's exact location to provide the most beneficial results. They are essentially crippled without the ability to track a location. Any transit app like Google maps falls into this category, as does the new social-local apps like Yik-Yak (an anonymous, local messaging app). Google maps needs to know where you're at or it just can not do it's job. The user should know about this upfront and be expecting the location requirement. Make sure you explain the benefit of your service to your user, before asking for location permissions. You really only get one chance at this.

Some of these apps require location data, while the app is in the background. This could be for navigation purposes, relevant push notifications, or pre-load local content in the background. Google Maps constantly tracks your location, once you setup a route and start navigating. This allows it to give you turn-by-turn directions. The downside is it'll drain your battery much more quickly than normal. It takes power to run all the antennas required to get a location fix. Apple has one work-around for this, Significant Location Change. It allows the app to only ping a user's location when they transfer cell towers. There is no exact distance or timing for this (it depends on the user's movements), but it significantly reduces the battery drain of an app and with some fancy calculations can be quite useful. This is one way apps like Foursquare are able to give you relevant suggestions based on where you are.

iBeacons are another way to deal with location tracking. They are great for indoors, where GPS and cellular tracking are less accurate, and can be utilized to even more relevancy. But that's a whole different post.

TL;DR: Making your app relevant to where a user is at that moment and providing them with the information they need are the crux of location tracking. If a user's current location is not necessary, make it optional. Make sure the benefits are apparent to the user or they may not allow location tracking. Battery life and user-willingness are your biggest constraints when dealing with location.