James Hoggan on the Perception of Risk

This might be a little off-topic from the normal posts we write on the Zappz blog, but it is a really good piece on communications and public dialogue that I thought folks might like.

That, and it has been a really long time since we posted anything here, that anything is better than a really out-of-date last post (gah, to busy building websites and apps!!).

This article is by a former boss of mine James Hoggan, writing for BC Business magazine on managing public perception and the dreaded “dread factor.” Honestly, it is well worth a read for anyone engaged in politics or public relations.

James writes,

“The power of emotion is a critical consideration in risk communication. No matter how good you think your argument is in a time of crisis, regardless of how provable your facts, if the public feels its liberty or right to fair treatment or livelihood is in danger, you’re losing the battle to dread.”

Take a read of the entire article here: James Hoggan, How dread increases society’s perception of risk.

The One Thing People Forget When Launching their First Smartphone or Tablet App

Much like websites, when it comes to building an app for a smartphone or tablet and making it available to the public, there is often a crucial step that is forgotten right at the end.

That step is making sure you have in place the data tracking and analytics you need so you can see how your app is doing and how it is being found by users.

Over a decade of building web sites, I can’t tell you how many times I come across someone with a website that does not have something like Google Analytics loaded and tracking user behaviour.

And I am finding the same in the app world since we launched Zappz Studios last year.

On our latest in-house app, Total Wallet – the totally smart mobile digital wallet technology (shameless plug!), we in fact have three separate analytics packages running. Each of the packages has its benefits, and honestly if it is not causing any lag in the functioning of the app and the using experience, then I say the more user data the better!

So on Total Wallet, we have the following analytics packages running:

1. iTunes Connect: this is actually the platform a developer uses to connect and upload their iOS app to make it available on the iTunes app store. Within iTunes Connect there is a basic set of analytics.

Under the “Sales and Trends” section you can see how many downloads per day your app is getting, what countries are downloading your app the most, what platform it is being downloaded on (i.e. iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch etc.) and other interesting data points. You get this data regardless of whether you want it or not, as it is part of your iTunes Connect account, but it is pretty basic.

2. App Annie: another analytics package we have loaded on Total Wallet is App Annie, which is a third-party cloud software package that you can interface with your iTunes Connect account.

App Annie advertises itself as the “the #1 decision-making platform for the entire mobile app economy.”And honestly, I really like App Annie. It provides pretty much the same data as iTunes Connect, but displays it all in a much better way on its dashboard.

One feature I find very valuable in App Annie is the tracking of search rankings for keywords in iTunes search. So if more people are finding Total Wallet when they search “mobile wallet” then I know and I know how Total Wallet ranks compared to other apps indexed in the same search category.

App Annie has a free version that I use and then a premium (and pricey) version that I don’t have a need for at the moment, but might down the road if I can justify the steep monthly price tag.

3. Google Analytics for Apps: of course Google has analytics for apps! I mean they have a driverless car, why wouldn’t they have this!! It is actually pretty sweet and offers many of the same metrics that a regular Google Analytics account for websites offers, including valuable information like how long on average people are using your app. And it’s free, so why not give it a spin?!

Is Chrome Opening Spam Tabs on Your Mac?

Thought I would share the solution I found after a seriously annoying Mac malware attack that kept opening extra tabs to spam sites on my Google Chrome browser. 

I had to sift through a lot forums to find the right answer but it seems to have done the trick.

Go to this site here called “The Safe Mac”, download their free Adware Medic program and please donate to this awesome little malware killing lifesaver if you can spare some change.

Once you’ve downloaded Adware Medic, open the program and scan your Mac. The program will detect and list the offending malware and delete it.

One trick though. I kept seeing the malware after Adware Medic had deleted the files, but then noticed the prompt from Adware Medic to restart my Mac. Once I rebooted there was no more malware.

And with that I will never let my 11 YO daughter on my computer again!

Hope it works for you!


Will Your Website Meet Google’s April 21 Mobile-Friendly Deadline?

google mobile april 21 2015

On April 21. 2015 Google will start to penalize your website if it is not mobile-friendly. 

Before I go any further, here’s the Google site you can go to right now, plug in your web address and Google will tell you if your website is considered mobile friendly. If you get a thumbs up, then you have nothing to worry about.

Thumbs down? Read on.

This is actually a pretty big deal, considering that for most websites I’ve worked on traffic from Google is normally among the highest quality – visitors tend to stay longer and click around more than other big traffic sources like Facebook.

Also, looking at the 40 or so Google analytics accounts I have access to, I looks like the average amount of traffic from mobile sources — smartphones and tablets — is somewhere around 25 to 30%.

So what Google is saying is that on April 21, it will begin to penalize sites in Google mobile search results if their site is not up to a certain standard. So if your website is not mobile-friendly you will not be showing up as high in mobile search results.

If you don’t know what I mean by mobile search results, in a nutshell it is any time someone searches for something using Google or a Google search app on their tablet or smartphone. So when I open my Chrome browser on my iPhone and search pizza (as I often do), the results I see are Google mobile search results like this:

google mobile april 21

Google is not messing around either, they are saying that there will be a significant impact for sites that are not mobile-friendly. In their words:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

I hate to say it, but if your site is not mobile-friendly, you really do need to address this issue pretty quick. Especially for regional and small businesses that rely on local mobile search — restaurants, real estate agents, local retail outlets, legal professionals, medical/dental, pizza shops… on so on.

So click here and see if your site is mobile-friendly. If it isn’t, I will be writing more on the topic and the solutions.

Or better yet, contact us here at Zappz and we would be happy to help you work through the problem and get your site compliant.

Or you can go here and read through Google’s guide to building a mobile-friendly website.



Total Wallet – a Digital Wallet for the iPhone 6-plus

total wallet mobile digital wallet

Over the weekend, I traded up to the iPhone 6 plus, Apple’s grand “Phablet.” I loaded on the latest iPhone app developed by Zappz Studios: Total Wallet, the totally smart mobile digital wallet.

Happy to report that Total Wallet is working  great on the iPhone 6. In fact, I am finding that the UPC’s for loyalty, gift and reward cards seem to be loading even faster than on all the other iPhone versions we’ve tested Total Wallet on.

Now that I think about it, with the larger size of the iPhone 6 plus, I now need a bit more room in my pockets. Total Wallet, which scans UPC codes for almost every card in your wallet is the perfect solution to making your wallet smaller, to fit your shiny new phablet!



Can You Guess the One Smartphone App George Costanza Would Use the Most?

costanza digital wallet

Back in the Seinfeld days we all rocked huge cell phones, but I’m telling you, if George Costanza had an iPhone back then I know what app he would be raving about.

In the 12th episode of the 9th season of Seinfeld, Jerry’s sidekick George pulls out a hilariously massive wallet as the source of his back pain. The clip is below, but whenever anyone from the Seinfeld era pulls out a huge wallet, someone invariably mocks their “Costanza Wallet.”

A couple years back Google actually used actor Jason Alexander and his George Costanza character to promote their near field chip (NFC) tap-and-pay software, Google Pay. Thing is though that Google Pay doesn’t really get rid of that many cards in your wallet.

Most of the cards in the average wallet aren’t debit and credit cards, but instead they are all the loyalty, coupon and gift cards.

Costanza doesn’t need the Google Pay app. After all, would the Google Pay app get rid of that “Orlando-Area Exxon Station” card? Heck no. (er, watch the clip at the end if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

What Constanza really needs is Total Wallet, the new digital wallet app that lets you scan the UPC codes of all those loyalty and gift cards into your smartphone!

Unlike other digital wallets on the market, Total Wallet doesn’t just take a picture of your cards, which really isn’t that helpful when it comes to using them at the shopping till. Instead Total Wallet actually scans the UPC, the code that looks like this:

total wallet digital wallet

The UPC is then stored on your phone and can be scanned at the cashier. An app that would truly make George happy and likely end that nasty wallet back pain.

You can click here to download the Total Wallet, digital wallet app on iTunes.  The Android version is coming soon — which I will admit, Constanza is probably more of an Android kind of guy.

Oh and here’s the Costanza exploding wallet clip… classic Seinfeld:




Smartphone Apps that Actually Make Your Life Easier


We can all agree that there are a lot of smartphone and tablet apps on the market.

And I think we can all agree that the idea behind new technology is that is supposed to make your life easier.

Now I don’t know about you, but I find that a lot of the apps that say they make your life easier actually do the exact opposite — most times making something that was already a pain in your butt to do and turning it into a digital pain in your butt to do.

Not easier, just the same, but with pretty graphics.

Here’s a few Smartphone apps that I think are well thought through as far as design and function, that actually do make your life a little easier:


1. Wunderlist – I use this list-making app solely for food shopping. I can make a list and then check things off while I am shopping. Versus before, I would always be poring back over my handwritten list and mentally checking off what I already picked up and what I still need to grab.


2. Evernote – I take notes using Evernote on my desktop while on a conference call, and I can access them on the Evenote app on my smartphone later while I am out for coffee with a client. Simple.


3. My Fitness Pal – this app has been around for a while and the developers keep make it better and better. And when I mean better, I mean simpler to use. I use My Fitness Pal to track calories when I want to get my eating habits back on track. It stores all the most common foods you eat, so when you go to add an entry for what you ate for breakfast, for example, your previous entries are already there so it only takes a few seconds here and there throughout your day to add in most of your daily food intake.

Do you have an app that you find makes your life easier? Let me know in the comment section.

Photo credit: DaveyNin on Flickr

5 Halloween Apps, Some for Safety, Some for Scary

the mist
(cue awesome, scary scene from The Mist)

Last year for halloween I staged a fake car crash in my driveway — do you realize how hard it is to make fake blood?

This year will be a little tamer, so I have a bit of time to peruse the iTunes App store to find and review some apps that I hope will make your Halloween a little safer and a lot scarier! (by the way there is a bonus GIF at the end of this post from what I think is by far the best horror movie ever made)

1. Scary Prank by IFS — you remember that video everyone sent around back in the day where you were told to just stare really closely and see if you could see the ghost running down the highway… and then AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH, a creepy face would pop on the screen and scream really loud. Yep, there’s an app version of course. This one starts out as an innocent game and then… well download it and find out.

2. Flashlightwhile the latest iOS has a built in flashlight function, I find the Flashlight app better with adjustable lighting and a spooooky strobe effect. Also great for trick-or-treating with the little critters to make sure they stay safe.

zombie cat

3. ZombieBooth 3D Zombifier — Zombify your cat! I for one am a little disturbed by the whole zombie thing and this app actually freaked me out when I saw my 11 year-old zombified. A look into the zombie apocalypse world if you will. Take a picture with the app and then hit the button and voila! Zombification!


4. Slendr – Slender man myth inspired horror survival game —  this whole Slender man thing creeps me out big time (at this point I am willing to admit that a lot of things creep me out). In fact, when I tried to download the image above (and I am not kidding) my Chrome browser crashed. Read up here on Slender Man, there are tons of creepy pics to go along with this certified creepy app.

5. Find My Friends – while you’re out trick or treating or just watching over the little ones, this app let’s you see who else might be close by to team up and maximize the candy haul!

Hope you all have an awesome Halloween! Send me pictures!

Oh and here’s the bonus scary GIF from The Ring, which in my opinion is the scariest movie ever made. I literally got a little nauseous just posting this:


Apps that make you go hmmmm……

Being an app developer means you’re always looking for great new ideas that inspire you to hopefully build the next big thing. But searching around on iTunes everyday, you come across some pretty strange apps.

Here’s a few I have noticed lately:

goat app

The Goat Simulator – if you want to pay the $4.99 to see what the goat simulator is all about, please let me know what in-the-name-of-all-that-is-sacred, is going on here. Something to do with a real-life looking goat that apparently runs around destroying stuff. Now that I think about it, I will download this app later tonight…. on my wife’s iPad!

Free Turkey Calls – sticking with the animal theme here, check out the free turkey call app. At first I thought the idea of the app was to actually use it while hunting for turkeys – making a “gobble gobble” sound or whatever to draw them in. But of course, the iPhone speaker would be pretty useless out in nature and you would have to be drawing in turkeys that would already be right beside you, thus rendering the turkey call app useless. Instead, the developers propose people use it to annoy their friends while hunting turkeys! I say that is way too narrow a scope – download the turkey call app and annoy everyone you know, everywhere!


Nightmares – alright the icon for this app scares the living crap out of me. I mean, come on. I downloaded this, played with it for a while and threw it off. I cannot have any creepy, pale ghost girls on my phone (it is a rule I now have). The nightmare app is actually pretty cool though. You can look up the meanings that might lie behind your nightmares. Very Freudian.

TigerEyes – oh you crazy hipsters and your love of tigers. Want an image of your face to match that uber-cool black panther in the moonlight t-shirt? Then this is the app for you! The app has 137 downloaders rating it better than 4 stars, which is pretty impressive. Might have to change my Twitter avatar into a morph of my face and a Liger!

Got an app that makes you go hmmm…? Let me know about it!

My Indispensable Business #Apps

Here’s five apps that I’ve found to very helpful in the day-to-day of running a businesssp (or two!):


1. Evernote – the Evernote App syncs with the Evernote desktop version, so when I am out of the office, at a meeting or whatever, I can refer back to notes I took on my computer. If you don’t use Evernote, give it a try on your desktop for notetaking and if you find it as productive as I do, then add it to your phone too!

cam card

2. CamCard – not matter how digital we get there’s no substitute for the good ol’ fashioned business card. CamCard reads your business cards and adds them to your contact list quick and easy. After a conference and on the flight home, take a half hour to scan in all the new contacts you made!

linked in

3. Linked In App – no list of business apps is complete without the top business social network Linked In. If you don’t have a Linked In account and you’re trying to grow your business (or maybe jump to a new job), you got to be on Linked In.

tape a call

4. Tape A Call Pro – I have reviewed this app before and I will gladly do it again. Super simple to use. Just jump on a call, hit the tape a call app and it will turn the call into a 3-way conference call and start recording. I use Tape a Call when I know there is nobody taking notes and there may be important details I want to circle back on. Make sure to let the others on the call know that you are recording the call, it is common courtesy and in many regions a legal necessity.

hotles app

5. Hotels.com – all I have to say is I get a free room for every ten booked and the more access I have to Hotel.com, the happier my wife is when I get back from an extended business trip with free hotels for the weekend!