Tag Archives: conference app

Google conference app source code now available for free

Yesterday, Google revealed the source code information of the app they provided for their i/O conference 2014 on the Android developers blog. Hundreds of thousand people had downloaded the app.

In the blog post, Bruno Oliveira, Tech Lead of the I/O app project states “If one of the goals of the app is to be useful to conference attendees, the other primary goal is to serve as a practical example of best practices for Android app design and development.”

Google App
Picture taken from the Android Developers blog

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Mobile Apps: Native Vs Web App

This is a guest post by Tim Masterson, founder of conferencehandbook.com. Thanks, Tim, for the insight!

If you’ve done any poking around in the mobile world lately you may have heard the terms “Native App”, “Web App”  and “HTML 5” app.  They are all different ways to provide apps on your smart phone.  In the next few minutes I hope to demystify these terms a little for you, as well as share the tradeoffs of each technology.
What is the difference between Web App and HTML 5 apps?

Every HTML 5 app is in fact a web app.   But not every web app is HTML 5.  HTML 5 is basically a new set of tags that programmers can use to display your application in a web browser.  HTML 5 supports some really cool stuff like video and it also makes it easier for the developer to do asynchronous calls back to the web server.  The term “Web App” is used to mean any application that needs some form of a webserver to run.

  • Benefits:  Write once for all platforms.  Updates are server side and instantaneous.
  • Trade offs:  All logic is on the web server so network connectivity is required.  Users user the browser to access the app and not an app store icon.  Access to sensors (GPS, Cameras, accelerometers) is limited.

What is a “Native” app?

In general apps you get from the app store are “Native apps”.  A truly native app is written in a language and compiled down to an actual executable that runs natively on your phone with out a browser.  Some native apps, still connect to web servers to interact with data in the cloud or to receive updates.  In general Native apps have access to more sensors than web apps.  They also tend to run faster because more of the processing is done locally.  The draw back is in the cost to develop a native app.  To develop for many platforms you have to rewrite the app for each platform.  (Which explains why it took months for Android users to get their own version of Angry Birds).

  • Benefits:  Access to all sensors, the users address book, schedule, GPS.  Runs without network connectivity.  Graphics are cleaner due to hardware acceleration.  Available on the app store.
  • Trade offs:   Entire app must be rebuilt for each mobile platform. The user must initiate updates, unless the app is built to automatically update itself.

Some apps are in between

It is possible to write a native shell for a web app.  To do this the developer writes the bulk of the app in HTML 5.  Then they write a native wrapper for each platform that basically has an icon, and a page that holds a “Web View” the web view then calls back to the web server to get the app content.  This approach is great for some applications but still has it’s own set of trade offs.

  • Benefits:  Only the shell must be rewritten for each platform.   Users can access the app from the app store.  If use is in a place where network connectivity is good, the user will never know it is mostly a web app.
  • Trade offs:  The app is dependent on network connectivity.  The web app portion of the app will not be able to access the sensors.

The Bottom Line:

Know what you are signing up for when you pick a software vendor.  Understand how they are delivering your content and the tradeoffs associated with that method of delivery.  Make sure their method maximizes the size of your mobile audience while mitigating the tradeoffs.

About the Author:
Tim Masterson is the founder of Total Integrated Mobile, the makers of ConferenceHandbook.com.  A one stop solution for the mobile app for your next conference.

My favourite videos / infographics of 2011 for event managers

It’s amazing to realize that there are so many great videos out there that display relevant information for event managers in an entertaining and compelling way.

Here are some of my favourites of 2011 that are great to use in presentations – or that are just fun to watch for everyone involved in event management and social media!

The 2011 update of the classic “Social Media Revolution” by Eric Qualman:

This is great food for thought for everyone considering to offer an event app for their conference: Think no more, go for it!

5 Years of Twitter – I love the quote from the astronaut…!

A tribute to Event Camp Twin Cities 2011, by the band Spokenfour (shown by Samuel J. Smith at the EIBTM 2011 in Barcelona) – fun to see all those #eventprofs featured in the video!

The pretty cool videos that the guys from Web in Travel WIT Singapore use to promote their event:

Also, I like the Google tool to create your own Search stories - Type in some of your keywords, conference title, company name, the rest is done automatically!

This one’s really great, it shows a promotion that a sausage manufacturer has done via social media, primarily Facebook. It’s in German, though, but it’s really fun and they have really understood how social media works:

So what are your favourites?

Welche Funktionen gehören in eine gute Event-App?

This is the German version of a guest post I wrote for the Event Manager Blog.

Einleitung

Smartphones und Tablet-Computern werden immer stärker genutzt. Internet-fähige Handys “erfinden die Beziehung zwischen Unternehmen und ihren Kunden neu”, wie es Rich Miner, Partner bei Google Ventures ausdrückt.

Dies wirkt sich natürlich auch auf Event-Veranstalter aus, wie man an der steigenden Zahl von Apps ablesen kann, die für die führenden Konferenzen und Messen angeboten werden. Wie viele Besucher habt Ihr auf Eurem letzten Event gesehen, die iPads, iPhones oder Android Handys dabei hatten? Na also…

Wenn Ihr also selbst auch eine App in Erwägung zieht, werdet Ihr feststellen, dass es unglaublich viele Anbieter und Lösungen gibt.

Die Frage ist nur: Was sind die Funktionen, die solch eine App auf jeden Fall haben sollte? Was erwarten die Nutzer? Es macht wenig Sinn, Euren Online-Katalog oder das gedruckte Programm einfach nur zu kopieren, denn

a. ist dies dem Medium Smartphone/Tablet nicht angemessen
b. wäre das einfach langweilig und
c. nutzlos, denn dafür kann man die hergebrachten Medien genauso gut oder besser verwenden.

Beim der Gestaltung einer Event-App sollte man drei Dinge im Blick haben:

- das Auge
– den Finger
– das Hirn.

Macht sie so einfach wie möglich – und Spaß sollte sie auch machen! Lasst Euch nicht hinreissen, zu viele Features reinzupacken, sondern konzentriert Euch auf die Kernfunktionen.

Was könnten denn diese Kernfunktionen sein? Meiner Meinung nach gehören diese acht auf jeden Fall dazu:

1. Hallenpläne

Eine Messe-App muss die Hallenpläne anzeigen, keine Frage. Ein PDF alleine ist aber schnell langweilig. Bringt etwas rein, dass für den Finger und das Auge spannend ist, wie z.B. bei der World Newspaper Week Vienna 2011 app. Nach unserem letzten Event haben einige Leute nach Routing-Optionen und Positionsangaben auf dem Plan gefragt. Besondere Points-of-Interest wie Restaurants, W-LAN Hotspots sollten auch angezeigt werden.

2. Eventprogramm

Klar, jede Konferenz-App muss das Programm beinhalten… Wichtig ist jedoch, dass Ihr Programm-Änderungen einpflegen könnt, ohne ein großes Daten- oder sogar App-Update machen zu machen.

Die App sollte in der Lage sein, einen XML-Feed von der Website zu importieren, oder aber die Möglichkeit bieten, über eine Website direkt Änderungen vornehmen zu können. “Zum Kalender hinzufügen” ist eine hilfreiche Funktion, die nicht vergessen werden sollte. Informationen über die Sprecher sind wichtig, und es kann auch eine gute Idee sein, den Twitterfeed oder Links zu den Blogs der Sprecher zu integrieren. Vergesst die wichtigsten Besucher-Infos nicht – eine der meistgeklickten Infos in unserer Wien-App war… der Fahrplan der Shuttle-Busse!

3. Ausstellerkatalog

Hier steckt der Teufel im Detail, fürchte ich…

Als wir unsere World Newspaper Week App umgesetzt haben, stiessen wir auf eine Reihe von kleinen Problemchen beim XML Import aus unserem Online Katalog, mit denen wir nicht gerechnet hatten. Es macht Sinn, das Format für Bilder, Logos, Telefonnummern, email-Adressen oder Webadressen genau festzulegen, sonst bekommt man u.U. lästige kleine Fehlermeldungen.  Dies gilt besonders, wenn die Aussteller ihren eigenen Online-Katalogeintrag selbst pflegen. Das Web “verzeiht” mehr als eine App, insofern braucht man klare Dateinamen-Konventionen und Dateiformate.

Einen Aussteller direkt aus der App anrufen oder emailen zu können ist natürlich eine wichtige Funktion – Voraussetzung sind aber korrekt eingegebene Telefonnummern und email Adressen.  Baut eine Volltextsuche ein, und wenn Ihr Download-Links zu Info- und Werbematerial der Aussteller einbaut, könnt Ihr sogar etwas für die Reduzierung des CO2 Ausstosses Eurer Veranstaltung tun!

4. Integration von Blogs und Social Media

Dies fördert den Live-Charakter einer App. Wenn Ihr Twitter, LinkedIn und/oder Facebook über API integriert, können die Nutzer sich direkt anmelden und an der Diskussion teilnehmen, ohne die App zu verlassen. Man kann auch einfach den Twitter-Feed anzeigen, aber das finde ich etwas langweilig. Ihr wollt ja Diskussionen anstossen, Re-Tweets, Ihr wollt, dass Eure Besucher mit ihren Freunden teilen, was sie auf der Veranstaltung erleben und erfahren.

Dafür sind soziale Netzwerke hervorragend geeignet!

5. Interaktion, Feedback und Umfragen

Interaktive Elemente können eine Event-App interessanter machen. Manche gehen sogar soweit, Augmented Reality einzubauen, z.B. der Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Es gibt hier keine Grenze für Eure Kreativität, aber bedenkt dabei, die Funktionen so einfach wie möglich und selbsterklärend zu gestalten.  Ihr wollt Eure Teilnehmer ja nicht überfordern, denn sie haben anderes im Sinn als sich zu sehr mit Eurer App zu beschäftigen. Sie kommen eher zum Networken, um sich weiterzubilden, neue Trends zu entdecken, und dabei soll die App helfen.

6. Personalisierung

“Add-to-schedule” oder “Favourite” sind sehr wichtige Funktionen um den Konferenz- oder Messebesuch vorzubereiten und sollten auf keinen Fall fehlen. Ich finde es auch hilfreich, wenn diese Funktionen offline verfügbar sind, dann können sich die Besucher auch im Flieger, im Zug oder sonstwo ohne Internet-Zugang (ganz wichtig für Messen mit vielen Besuchern aus dem Ausland!) vorbereiten.

Viele “web-basierte” Apps können dies (noch) nicht bieten, denn sie funktionieren nur mit Internet-Zugang. Aber die Technik entwickelt sich stetig weiter, Stichwort HTML5. Web-Apps unterscheiden sich von nativen Apps dadurch, dass man sie nicht über den Apple oder Android-Store herunterladen muss, sondern von jedem Internet-fähigen Handy aus aufrufen kann.

7. Monetarisierung

Eines ist klar: Eine gute Event-App kostet Geld. Die Preise sind zwar deutlich gesunken, und es herrscht ein hoher Wettbewerb an spezialisierten Anbietern, aber wir reden immer noch über mindestens mittlere bis obere 4-stellige Euro-Beträge pro Plattform für native Apps, je nach Funktionsumfang durchaus auch darüber.

Reine Web Apps bekommt man aber schon für wesentlich weniger (teilweise für weniger als 100 EUR pro Event mit eigenem Branding), sie sind aber sehr eingeschränkt von den Funktionalitäten. Es macht also Sinn, sich von Anfang an zu überlegen, wie man einen oder mehrere Sponsoren einbeziehen kann und sie in der App entsprechend präsentiert.

8. Networking / Kontaktdatenaustausch

Einer der Hauptgründe, an einer Konferenz oder Messe teilzunehmen, ist das Networking. Eine App kann dies auf vielfältige Weise unterstützen, z.B. durch die Integration des XING Handshake, durch QR-Codes, die gescannt werden können, Visitenkarten-Scanner, durch Datenaustausch über NFC (near field communication) oder auch über die Integration von sozialen Netzwerken.

Aber auch hier gilt: Macht es nicht zu kompliziert, denn es ist immer noch einfacher, in “old school” Manier die Visitenkarten auszutauschen. ;-)

Zusammenfassung

Schaut Euch an, wie andere Konferenzen und Messen mit dem Thema “App” umgegangen sind, und lernt davon. Dadurch bekommt man auch ein Gefühl für die Benchmarks. Ich habe in meinem Blog eine Liste von Anbietern und gelungenen Fallstudien gepostet, die ich ständig aktualisiere, sobald ich von neuen Technologien und Fallstudien erfahre. Lasst mich wissen, falls Ihr selbst eine tolle App angeboten oder eine gelungene Event-App gesehen habt!

Eines sollte man nicht vergessen: Es reicht nicht, eine großartige Event-App anzubieten – Ihr solltet auch an die Vermarktung denken! Nutzt alle Eure Kanäle, um Eure Besucher und Aussteller auf die App hinzuweisen. Hier finden Ihr 10 Ideen, wie Ihr die Downloadzahlen steigern könnt. Denn dann kann die App auch über die Veranstaltung hinaus für Euch werben!

8 Indispensable Features for a Kick-Ass Event App

Julius Solaris kindly asked me to write a guest post for his great Event Manager Blog, which I happily did!

Find my post about 8 Indispensable Features for a Kick-Ass Event App here.

Here is the German version of this post / Hier gibt’s eine deutsche Version davon.

If you want to know more about event apps, check out this previous post about vendors and best cases, or these tips on how to promote your conference or trade show app once it is published.

iPad/iPhone/Android apps for conferences and trade show: Vendors and best practices

Latest update of this post: 30 November 2012

In the meantime, most of the major conferences and trade shows have their own iPhone/iPad or Android apps.

Those apps are used to give orientation on site (exhibitor catalogue and interactive maps, seminar and conference overview, MySchedule functionalities), but they are also great to facilitate interaction between exhibitors and attendees as well as among attendees themselves. Some offer games, digital hand outs and the ability to exchange contact information. Some even include augmented reality features. And of course they can be a cornerstone in your going-green initiative.

Prices for building apps have been going down, and there are whitelabel solutions that allow for easy customizing. I start this post with the intention to update it regularly and present exciting implementations of apps for events, so please notify me if you know of more great examples. Click on the images to get access to the download pages or for more information on these best practice examples and specialized vendors.

Sorted in alphabetical order:

A2Z Event Management

The solution from a2z syncs automatically with their event management software, so that changes in floorplan or programme are reflected across all channels. Provided you use their software for the event organization, too, of course.

Active Network Events

Not really an event app, rather a fully integrated solution. Highly customizable, more on the expensive side, but very flexible. Check out what Active Network Events did for the Cisco Live! Event 2011.


Amiando / Conference2Go

Amiando is well known as a provider of ticketing solutions. It was just a question of time when they would enter the mobile event service arena as well.

In addition to a full agenda which delegates can transfer to their own diaries, the app also provides an integrated attendee search tool and messaging platform to facilitate networking.

Appbaker

At the recent TEDx Rhein Main event, I came across the company Appbaker who offers a SaaS solutions to build you own event app. Behind the company is NetQuest, one of the leaders in traditional Web Content Management systems. Click on the image to download the very nice TEDx Rhein Main app.

Conference Compass

Since 2009, this Dutch company builds apps for several platforms for all kinds of conferences. An impressive 12.000 people have downloaded the app that they built for the European Society of Cardiology.

Conference Handbook

This solution provider from the US equips you with a spreadsheet to gather all necessary information to build the app, and then they roll it out for you. Platforms: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7.

Core-Apps

This company is specialized on trade show apps, and their product “Follow me” delivers routing to stands, interactive floor plans and the ability to download brochures from exhibitors so you won’t have to carry them around. Find out more in a post on the Talking New Media blog.


CrowdCompass

CrowdCompass from Portland/Oregon develops native iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps for meetings, conferences, events and trade shows.

EproMeetingApps

This company from the US puts a special focus on monetizing the event app, by offering ads and sponsoring opportunities. The one price cross-platform applications work as a Native App on the Top 4 Smartphone platforms (Apple iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile) and may also be viewed via a mobile Internet browser. This cross-platform capability allows organizations to engage the maximum number of users as well as offering sponsors the greatest amount of marketing penetration.


Event Board Mobile

This solution offers everything you need for your conference, plus they put a special focus on the feedback and survey functions. It comes at 699 USD for a customizable version that will have your own event’s look and feel, so it is among the more affordable options.

Event Edge

A vendor from the USA, offering comprehensive native solutions for conferences and exhibitions starting at 1999 USD per event and platform.

Eventmobi

Based in Canada, eventmobi offers an easy-to-use online content management system with instantaneous updates to the app. See the video for more information:


EventPilot

ATIV Software, the vendor that creates the EventPilot software just released the version 6.0. The app is particularly appropriate for complex medical or scientific congresses, with a lot of parallel sessions. You can use filters and sub-sessions to create your personal schedule, and the overview comes with a very helpful color coding. The app supports all important platforms, including the Amazon Kindle Fire.

GenieMobile

The EventGenie solution is used by Reed Expo’s Offshore Europe 2011, among other associations, conference organizers and PCOs. Says Michael Douglas, Marketing Director: “One of the interesting parts of our solution is the corresponding web portal and the CMS tools to manage the apps.”

Goomeo Events / EIBTM Barcelona

The leading event for the business travel industry definitely needs an awesome app. Graeme Barnett went for GoomeoEvents, a French company. Great features, great design, contact data exchange via QR scanning… This one’s definitely worth a download and test.

InLudus

This provider from New York offers mobile applications with features like

  • Gaming towards prizes
  • Electronic transfer of contact information
  • Digital hand outs
  • Digital calendar
  • Speaker sessions information
  • Digital exhibitor directory
  • Interactive maps

InsideGuidance / ART Basel

This is so far the most artistic implementation of a floor plan I have seen. A company from Berlin called InsideGuidance delivers the experience for the world’s leading art exhibition. Their new app for Baselworld, a Watch and Jewellery show, seems even more sophisticated.

At the World Association of Newspapers, we have now used the same technology for the official app “World Newspaper Week” in Vienna. It looks great, you can download it here from the app store or scan the code below with your iPhone or iPad for downloading.

MINT

A number of trade shows and conferences in the Nordic countries use the solution from a company called Delegia, based in Stockholm. It offers delegate interaction and you can also book seminars through the device.

MobileRoadie / LE WEB Conference app

Le Web in Paris is one of the leading Digital Media / Internet conferences. No big surprise they have a great app, too – but what is a bit surprising is that the app was built with the technology of Mobile Roadie. This company usually build mobile apps for artists, musicians like Adele or David Guetta, movies, or even the Dallas Mavericks. So their background is more on the festival/concert side.

Polymash

Producing apps for event organizers as well as authors, artists, designers, photographers, videographers, museums, galleries, news and magazine publishers. Check out their app for the 2012 World Apprecitive Inquiry Conference.

Quickmobile

These guys are specialized in providing mobile event apps for the event, travel and entertainment industries, so their products are quite advanced and correspond perfectly to what an event organizer would require.

I particularly like the video that the organizers of DevLearn 2011 conference published to brief the delegates about the features of the app (built by QuickMobile):

QuickTapLead

QuickTapLead allows exhibitors at trade shows, exhibitions and events to qualify leads and capture lead details easily using their own mobile tablet. QuickTapLead takes minutes to set up, works without an Internet connection, can be used as a kiosk and sends lead data automatically to Salesforce. QuickTapLead is a pay as you go service with no subscription or monthly charges.

Showgizmo

Particularly interesting for exhibitions, when the interaction between exhibitors and visitors is in the focus, as well as lead generation.

Tapwalk

This company from Boston (founded 2010) specializes in applications for airports, museums, amusement and theme parks as well as trade shows. Their focus is to provide orientation through the mobile device. Definitely worth looking at when you organize an exhibition.

TED Conference

Their app is great, yet it is focussed on their great presenters’ videos. You can spend hours just browsing the great content they provide in the app…! However, I do not know who built it.

Top Quark

Top Quark build plugins for WordPress that allow you to create a web app out of one of the most popular content management and blogging softwares, with html5 features. Events like the Event Camp Twin City or WordCamp Chicago have been using it. It is quite affordable and versatile.

Triqle Event Intelligence

I met Gerrit Heijkoop, the person behind the Triqle platform, at the recent ICCA Congress in Leipzig. They provided the mobile event guide for ICCA, which is not such a bad reference! Triqle build web-based apps as well as native apps, and you can use the feed of the web-based apps also for on-site orientation screens.

Tripbuilder

US-based Tripbuilder offers an interesting combination of information on print and mobile app in one go. Their speciality is to give orientation with folding media (maps etc.) and on mobile phones. Find some success stories here.

Twoppy

This is a freemium model to create your own event app with most of the necessary features like program details, speaker bios, maps, twitter stream etc. A great way to design a mobile-friendly website in just a couple of minutes. It is not really an app, though, rather a browser-based application. If you want your own branding and logos on it, it’ll cost you around 150 EUR per application.

In the meantime, you can install a native Twoppy app that lists all upcoming conferences and events that are presented on the Twoppy platform.

Widjet / dmexco

This Cologne-based new media and digital marketing show does a lot of things right, including personalization. They have quite an exhaustive event program, and you can put together your own schedule. A cool new feature in 2011 is the QR code generator and scanner, which allows you to collect virtual business cards at the show. The agency Widjet have developed the app.

XOMO

Xomo is a Vancouver based company with offices in Munich and London. This supplier specialises exclusively in the provision of apps for large events, conferences and trade fairs.

The conference & trade fair app is used by all O’Reilly conferences (Web 2.0 Expo, Strata, Maker Faire, etc), as well as large medical conferences (some of the largest in Europe) Social Media Week 2012, and SXSW. So they are defiinitely worth taking a look at!

Zerista / Mobile World Congress Barcelona

With all the options to connect both with other visitors and with the exhibitors, plus the options to personalize the service, I think the MyMWC app is really outstanding. It goes as far as delivering Augmented Reality experiences, too. US-based Zerista built the app.

Please notify me if you know more providers (I am sure there are plenty more out there) and I’ll update accordingly. Thanks! I also started a discussion about this on LinkedIn.

Check out this guest post I wrote for the Event Manager Blog edited by Julius Solaris, about 8 indispensable features of a kick-ass event app.

You may also be interested in tips to drive downloads of your nice and shiny event app once it is online.