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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 from Portland/Oregon develops native iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps for meetings, conferences, events and trade shows.
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.
A vendor from the USA, offering comprehensive native solutions for conferences and exhibitions starting at 1999 USD per event and platform.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Particularly interesting for exhibitions, when the interaction between exhibitors and visitors is in the focus, as well as lead generation.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
At MeetingApps.com, you can find a cool collection of iPhone or Blackberry apps (Android soon to come) that are out in the market for event management and marketing, with a brief description and links for downloading. Kirsten Strand has put together that platform, and she’ll be content to get your tipps about more apps to include there.
They also feature some interesting articles, e.g. about ways to use the iPad in trade show marketing.
============= Deutsche Version =================
Auf der Website MeetingApps.com findet Ihre eine schöne Übersicht über iPhone oder Blackberry Apps (Android folgt bald), die es für Event-Management und -Marketing gibt, mit jeweils einer kurzen Beschreibung und Links, wo man sie herunterladen kann. Kirsten Strand hat diese Plattform gegründet, und sie ist sicher froh über Eure Tipps, welche weiteren Apps dort vorgestellt werden sollten.
Sie bieten auch einige interessante Artikel auf der Website, z.B. wie man das iPad für Messemarketing einsetzen kann.
Often times, trade show and event organizers are faced with “virtual teams”, spread over different locations. Cloud-based project management services are available to manage such teams efficiently, without having to install any software and from any computer with an internet connection.
I have compiled a list of services below that organizers might consider to structure and manage their projects. Some if them are even free-of-charge. Basically, most of these services offer
- Team member profiles
- Task lists and automatically generated timelines
- Messaging, reminders and reports
- Central storage capacity for files, video, pictures etc.
If you are considering implementing such a service, you might want to ask yourself these basic questions first:
- How many users do I really need to hook up? Prices vary based on the number of team members
- Do I need the possibility to work offline? Not every service offers that.
- Do I need to register how much time a team member was working on a project? That might be helpful to account for freelance staff.
- How easy is it to set up the service and would I need specific training for my team members? The systems below vary quite a bit in this respect.
The big advantage of cloud-based services is that you do not purchase a software that might be outdated quickly. New features like iPhone or Android apps are added constantly.
Messe- und Eventveranstalter haben oft “virtuelle Teams”, die über mehrere Standorte verteilt sind. Solche Teams kann man effizient mit Hilfe von cloud-basierten Projektmanagement-Tools steuern. Diese Tools benötigen keine Software-Installation und können von jedem Computer mit Internet-Zugang aus bedient werden.
Weiter unten habe ich eine Link-Liste verfügbarer Services zusammengestellt, die Veranstalter verwenden können, um ihre Projekte zu strukturieren und zu managen. Einige davon sind sogar kostenlos. Im Grunde bieten fast alle diese Services folgende Funktionen an:
- Profile der Teammitglieder
- Aufgabenlisten und Timelines die sich daraus automatisch generieren
- Messaging, Reminder und Reports
- Zentaler Speicherplatz für Dateien, Videos, Bilder etc.
Bei der Auswahl eines solchen Dienstes sollte man sich einige grundsätzliche Fragen stellen:
- Wie viele User muss ich anbinden? Die Preise variieren nach Anzahl der Team-Mitglieder.
- Sollte es möglich sein, den Dienst offline zu nutzen? Das bietet nicht jeder Service.
- Brauche ich eine Zeiterfassung? Das kann interessant sein, wenn ich mit Freelancern arbeite, die ich abrechnen muss.
- Wie schnell und einfach kann ich den Dienst einrichten und welchen Trainingsaufwand habe ich für mein Team? Hierin unterscheiden sich die Systeme sehr stark.
Der große Vorteil von Software-as-a-Service ist, dass man keine Software kaufen und installieren muss, die möglicherweise bald veraltet ist. Neue Dienste wie iPhone oder Android apps werden stetig und automatisch hinzugefügt.
- Group Mind Express
- Active Collab
- Teamwork Live
- Feng Office
This might be an easy and attractive way to provide exhibitors with a lead generation system – without the need to hand out barcode scanners. See the video for more details.
Dies könnte ein einfacher und attraktiver Weg sein, Ausstellern ein Lead Generation System zur Verfügung zu stellen – ohne dass man Barcode Scanner braucht. Mehr Infos im Video.