Blog

AI Artificial Intelligence

Apple Intelligence: Empowering Businesses of All Sizes

Image Source: Apple Newsroom Apple announced its “AI for the rest of us” plan. But what does that mean for the future of digital products in enterprise, mid- and small-sized businesses? In this article, we’ll explore the implications of Apple’s AI strategy and share key takeaways for business leaders navigating the evolving landscape of AI-driven innovation. But first—a little “AI housekeeping.” A Working Definition of AI Artificial Intelligence (AI) focuses on creating smart machines that can learn from data, identify patterns, and perform tasks typically requiring human intelligence. Unlike traditional software solutions that rely on explicit programming and predefined rules, such as “if the customer’s age is greater than X, do this” or “if the bank balance is greater than Y, do that,” AI systems can make decisions without being explicitly programmed for every scenario. Recommendations for Businesses A little over a year ago, Brad Weber, CEO of InspiringApps, spoke with Tim Hayden about AI and more, as the above video captures (for the full conversation, see the playlist AI & Data Privacy: InspiringApps & Brain+Trust webinars). Considering the latest announcements at Apple WWDC 2024, we followed up with Brad to capture more insights and business recommendations. We found that Apple’s approach to intelligence mirrors our own in many ways: seamless integration, user-focused design, privacy, and business efficacy. 1. Focus on enhanced user experiences. Recommendation: Through seamless integration, focus on delivering tangible benefits to users that take advantage of Apple’s AI-driven user experiences, such as personalized recommendations and predictive features. “AI has enhanced the Apple user experience for many years. Has your phone predicted your commute time to work when you are a few blocks away from home? Has your watch calculated the total yards of your swim workout and broken down the distance by stroke? Both features (and many more) are driven by AI, but Apple treats that as an implementation detail users don’t need to know about. They should just experience the surprise and delight.”—BRAD WEBER, INSPIRINGAPPS CEO Most people have experienced AI without realizing it. “Hey Siri, read my messages” is a prevalent example of AI in everyday life. With Apple adding more ways to engage with app functionality through Siri and system-level features, properly defining and configuring App Intents may become a new strategy for businesses to ensure their in-app content and services are discoverable and intelligently integrated into users’ queries and workflows. For example, the improved typing interface with Siri could make Apple devices and apps more accessible for users with certain disabilities or situational impairments that make voice input challenging. If these intelligent features prove useful for accessibility, businesses may be able to reach and serve a broader audience. Businesses using messaging platforms for customer engagement could also leverage the new intelligent writing and summarization tools to streamline communication and quickly synthesize key points from lengthy customer inquiries or feedback, improving response times and quality. 2. Prioritize user privacy. Recommendation: Be transparent about data collection and usage, give users control over their data, and take every precaution to protect user information. AI enables computers to tackle complex problems and operate in the “gray areas,” where they can develop their own solutions based on the given goals or outcomes. To achieve this, AI relies on extensive data to effectively train models and make precise predictions or decisions, such as identifying objects in images or determining the optimal course of action in a given situation. This reliance on large datasets for training AI models raises important questions about data privacy and the implications of using personal information in developing AI systems. “With the new generative AI features in iOS 18, Apple will continue to prefer the privacy of on-device processing. When server capabilities are required, limited data is sent to Apple, and none of it is stored beyond the current ‘session.’ And if Chat GPT (and other engines/providers in the future) are beneficial, users will explicitly approve each data share. It is highly unlikely that any user-identifiable data will be sent to OpenAI as part of those interactions unless the user specifically opts in with their OpenAI account details.”—BRAD WEBER, INSPIRINGAPPS CEO In short, Apple’s commitment to privacy is a key differentiator, and businesses should follow their lead. 3. Consider Swift 6 adoption. Recommendation: Consider adopting Swift 6 for your development projects to reach a wider audience and streamline your development processes. “I’m excited to see Apple’s Swift 6 push on Windows and Linux, including improved Swift language support in Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code editor. Our team enjoys Swift development, and the language’s safety features have definitely reduced incidents of crashes on Apple devices. I look forward to those same benefits on other platforms.”—BRAD WEBER, INSPIRINGAPPS CEO 4. Stay adaptable. Recommendation: Businesses should explore the full spectrum of AI and machine learning technologies to find the most effective solutions for their specific needs. From predictive analytics and recommendation engines to computer vision and natural language processing, there are numerous ways to harness intelligence to benefit users and drive business growth. “It’s important to remember that generative AI is not the only form of AI. Although it has captured headlines for the last year or two, there are loads of other ways to benefit users with the thoughtful use of AI and ML.”—BRAD WEBER, INSPIRINGAPPS CEO Advanced predictive analytics can provide valuable insights into future trends and user behaviors. Intelligence can use data analysis to predict popular features, design elements, and evolving user needs. This foresight can inform decisions, helping to create digital products that meet current user expectations and are well-positioned to adapt to future demands. Smart Business Moves Apple’s advancements present both opportunities and challenges for businesses of all sizes. By focusing on seamless integration, user privacy, and delivering tangible benefits through smart algorithms and machine learning, businesses can position themselves for success. The key is to approach all development decisions with a user-centric mindset, focusing on how technologies can solve problems, streamline processes, and create meaningful benefits for your target audience. In other words, always prioritize creating value for your users. Further Reading & Resources Gartner: Learn To Build an AI Strategy for Your Business Apple: Machine Learning Research InspiringApps & Brain+Trust: AI & Data Privacy Webinar Recap

2 days ago

Client Projects

Designing for Accessibility: A Case Study in Digital Product Development

Boulder CO—Good Nutrition Inc. & InspiringApps Partnership Creates an Accessible Meal-Planning App Meal-planning apps present unique accessibility challenges for users with disabilities. Ensuring apps are designed with accessibility in mind is not only the ethical and legal responsibility of brands—it also makes good business sense. “Accessibility has a clear ROI. With accessible apps, you attract a larger user base.” —CLARA BEAR, IOS ENGINEER, INSPIRINGAPPS The Good Nutrition Ideas app, My Meals, My Way, stands out in the saturated market of food and calorie tracking by focusing on enabling users to become their own nutritionists. Applying a science-backed, fun “plug and play” approach, it offers personalized meal planning for individual health management. Client Background The client, Good Nutrition Ideas, is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting healthy lifestyles. Their mission is to empower people with disabilities and older adults with nutritional support needs. The mobile app My Meals, My Way was created in collaboration with InspiringApps to aid in this mission, streamlining meal planning and responding directly to diverse and complex dietary needs. Project Goals & Challenges The primary objective of this project was to create a digital platform that makes meal planning accessible to everyone, including users with disabilities. Embracing WCAG, W3C, and Apple Accessibility for Developers, the team followed a strict and comprehensive list of standards, which included the POUR principles: Perceivable: Information is presented in multiple ways (for example, text descriptions for images, captions, good color contrast). Operable: Users can navigate and interact with the app using various methods (e.g., clear structure, descriptive links, and keyboard accessibility). Understandable: The app’s interface and content are easy to comprehend (in other words, clear instructions, consistent design, and plain language). Robust: It is compatible with various assistive technologies and user needs (e.g., descriptive metadata and accessibility testing). A key challenge involved structuring the founders’ extensive knowledge of food types and meal portions into a back-end data system that could be translated into a clear and accessible UI for users with assistive technologies. Design & Development Process The InspiringApps team—comprised of development, design, and project management professionals—worked hand-in-hand with Good Nutrition Ideas to bring the My Meals, My Way app to life. The success of our development process was driven by weekly check-ins with the client from start to completion, with design and development teams working closely together. The team used wireframes early on and conducted regular accessibility audits of the codebase and user interface, using cutting-edge Apple tools to ensure a comprehensive, efficient, and repeatable testing process. The app’s development was characterized by its iterative nature, allowing for ongoing improvements. Key questions were addressed throughout, such as the design and development approach stressing a user-focused methodology and regular pivot points to integrate feedback, including accessibility feedback. Inclusive Design Features The app development and design were driven by a commitment to both accessibility and user feedback. Inclusive features include: Custom Profiles: Users can create profiles unique to their dietary and eating needs, which adds a sense of personalization. Animated Tutorial Videos: Embedded videos guide users through using parts of the app. They include AI-generated voiceovers and captions for added accessibility. Dynamic Type: Compatible fonts and scalable UI elements give users the ability to set preferred reading sizes. Text Descriptions & Captions: All images include text descriptions for users with visual impairments, while closed captions and transcripts accompany video content. High Color Contrast: Additional tones have been added for higher color contrast, in case a user has that accessibility setting turned on their native phone. Operable Navigation: The app features a clear structure with headings and descriptive links and is fully navigable via keyboard inputs. Intuitive User Experience: The app is crafted to be understandable, with clear directions, consistent design, and plain language throughout the platform. “The content presented in the app is highly dependent on the user’s unique profile and needs, and there are clear actions that are suggested based on the time of day. I also implemented animated tutorials that guide the user on how to use certain parts of the app. So the storytelling piece is brought into that as well.”—BECCA COLLINS, UI/UX DESIGNER, INSPIRINGAPPS Rigorous Accessibility Testing To ensure the app’s accessibility for all users, the team employed a comprehensive testing approach that combined automated tools, accessibility audits, user feedback, and quality assurance (QA) across multiple platforms and teams. Results & Impact Empowering users to take control of their dietary needs, My Meals, My Way concentrates on nurturing self-sufficiency in nutrition and fostering support systems by enabling users to effortlessly share their dietary plans with caregivers, enhancing compliance and enjoyment of meals. Currently available for iOS and iPad devices, My Meals, My Way extends its reach with a free month trial, encouraging users to experience comprehensive support for healthy living first-hand. “Working with the InspiringApps team of designers and developers was an excellent first app experience for us. They were already familiar with accessibility issues in apps and app development, and they continued to learn and deliver on this app directed at people with disabilities. We anticipate working with them again, which is the best recommendation there is!”—GOOD NUTRITION, INC. The app’s development was partly supported by a notable grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), underscoring its commitment to accessibility and empowerment for individuals with disabilities. Get the App Improve your health and quality of life by simplifying healthy, balanced eating with My Meals, My Way. Download My Meals, My Way here, on the App Store.

4 days ago

AI Artificial Intelligence

Apple’s WWDC 2024: The Sky’s the Limit With a Beyond-Mobile Future

Image Source: Apple WWDC 2024 Keynote Future-worthy or failing to meet the moment? Rocked by copyright and labor issues with generative AI, many, especially creatives, are wary of big tech. However, Apple’s recent Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote aimed to address these concerns head-on, introducing a suite of AI-powered features designed to enhance user experience while prioritizing privacy and security.  Was it a cringe-worthy attempt to jump on the AI bandwagon, or did Apple manage to provide a template for the responsible integration of AI into our daily lives? Let’s take a closer look. Apple’s Personal Intelligence One of the most significant announcements at Apple’s WWDC keynote was the introduction of “Apple Intelligence,“ a suite of AI-powered features designed to enhance the user experience across Apple’s ecosystem. This marks a significant step forward in AI integration, as Apple aims to create a more intuitive and personalized experience while prioritizing user privacy. “Apple’s continued innovation in AI and user experience is setting the stage for the future of enterprise marketing.” —STEPHANIE MIKULS, DIRECTOR OF BRAND MARKETING, INSPIRINGAPPS Enhanced Siri Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, has undergone a major upgrade with the introduction of Apple Intelligence. Users will be able to communicate with Siri in whatever way feels most natural, whether through voice commands or typing. Siri’s capabilities have been expanded thanks to its extensive product knowledge and the new App Intents API for developers. This API enables Siri to take actions across various apps, making it a more versatile and powerful tool for users.  For example, users can ask Siri to perform specific tasks within third-party apps, such as “Order my usual pizza from my favorite restaurant app.“ System-Wide Writing Tools Another significant component of Apple Intelligence is the introduction of system-wide writing tools powered by AI. These tools offer a range of features designed to make the writing process more efficient and enjoyable, including the ability to rewrite, proofread, and summarize text. One of the features is the “Rewrite“ tool, which suggests alternative ways to phrase sentences or paragraphs. The tool offers multiple suggestions, allowing users to choose the one that best fits their intended tone and message. The “Proofread“ tool helps users identify and correct grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and stylistic inconsistencies. And finally, the “Summarize“ tool can condense long passages of text into concise summaries, making it easier for users to quickly grasp the main points of an article or document. Image Generation Apple Intelligence also introduces new possibilities for image generation and manipulation. Genmoji, in particular, allows users to create custom emoji characters based on their own appearance and style. By leveraging advanced machine learning algorithms, Genmoji can generate many emoji variations that capture the user’s likeness and personality. Image Playground is a more extensive tool that enables users to create and edit images using natural language phrases. Users can describe the image they want to create, and Image Playground will generate a corresponding visual based on that description. In addition to these creative tools, Apple Intelligence includes the Clean Up tool in the Photos app. This feature uses AI to analyze and edit images based on natural language phrases. For example, users can ask the Clean Up tool to “Remove the background“ or “Make the colors more vibrant,“ and the AI will automatically apply the requested changes. Privacy & Security While the AI features introduced are impressive, Apple has made it clear that they are built on a foundation of privacy and security. On-device processing means that most AI tasks are performed locally on the user’s device rather than being sent to the cloud for processing. This approach minimizes the personal data that leaves the device, reducing the risk of unauthorized access or data breaches. Private Cloud Compute is a privacy-preserving technology that allows certain AI tasks to be performed in the cloud without compromising user privacy. When data is sent to the cloud for processing, it is encrypted and anonymized, ensuring it cannot be linked back to individual users. This enables Apple to leverage the power of cloud computing for more complex AI tasks while still maintaining a high level of privacy protection. By prioritizing privacy and security, Apple sets a strong example for the industry and demonstrates that AI can be implemented responsibly and trustworthy. This commitment to user privacy will likely be a key differentiator for Apple as more consumers become aware of the importance of protecting their personal data. “I’m glad to see Apple’s privacy-centric generative AI strategy. They favor on-device processing when possible, share limited context data with their own servers without storing it after processing, and require an explicit opt-in from users before sharing it with third parties.”—BRAD WEBER, CEO, INSPIRINGAPPS The Power of Integration Another potential strength of Apple’s approach to AI is the company’s tight integration. Apple emphasized the importance of empowering developers to create intelligent, AI-driven apps that integrate deeply with the Apple ecosystem. “Apple’s bolstered app suite may soon replace tools with a small moat. So I can access my iPhone and its apps from my Mac. These ‘beyond mobile’ applications are enticing for users and a call to action for digital product owners—we can leverage the Apple Intelligence framework to make our products seamless in the AI future. It’s time to get started now!” —KRISTIN MOLINA, MARKETING MANAGER, INSPIRINGAPPS At InspiringApps, we believe that the responsible integration of AI into digital products is essential for creating user-centric experiences that drive business success. If you want to learn more about how AI can benefit your business, we invite you to contact InspiringApps for a personalized consultation. Together, we can build a future where AI and human creativity work hand-in-hand to create products and experiences that inspire, educate, and delight.

10 days ago

AI Artificial Intelligence

Google I/O 2024: Separating AI Fact From Fiction & What It Means for Digital Products

Image Source: Google I/O 2024 As the dust settles on Google’s annual I/O event, it’s clear AI is the star of the show. From search engines to mobile apps, AI integration permeates nearly every facet of Google’s products and services, promising to reshape our interactions with technology. But as AI’s prominence grows, so does the skepticism surrounding it and the need to ground our realities in practical use cases. The Power of AI One of the most impressive demonstrations at Google I/O was the latest upgrade to Gemini, an AI model capable of processing and understanding vast amounts of information from documents, audio recordings, and even videos. The potential applications are inspiring. Imagine having a virtual teacher who can explain any topic and answer your questions in real-time or a mobile app that can anticipate your needs and provide tailored recommendations based on your behavior. “Google’s really gone all-in on AI. The quality of the integrations appears to be better than I was expecting. They’re going for something more useful than just a ‘ChatGPT window on the side.’”—BRENDAN GREGOS, DEVELOPER | INSPIRINGAPPS AI & Privacy Google also showcased how AI can enhance privacy and security. For example, they introduced an AI feature to detect and alert users to potential phone scams. While some may find this invasive, it could be a lifesaver for those more susceptible to fraudulent schemes. As we embrace AI, finding the right balance between innovation and privacy protection is crucial. AI Limitations While AI can mimic and replicate patterns, it lacks the depth, originality, and emotional resonance that human creators bring to their work. Additionally, AI systems can perpetuate existing biases in the data they are trained on, leading to discriminatory or unfair outputs. Furthermore, AI currently struggles with critical thinking and applying reasoning outside the vast data it has been exposed to. At InspiringApps, our take is, well, a human one. We envision AI as a powerful tool in our digital product toolbox, offering benefits such as saving time, improving quality, and slicing data in new ways—but it must serve a specific business purpose. By leveraging AI’s strengths while recognizing its limitations, we can create products and experiences that are not only efficient but also meaningful and impactful. “AI can help brainstorm product features for software, but you can’t ask it to write the entire thing—it needs guidance, even while exploring ideas.”—JEFFREY PEACOCK, DEVELOPER | INSPIRINGAPPS Transparency & Ethics As we explore the possibilities of AI for our clients, transparency, and ethics must be at the forefront of our approach. Public perception of AI is still evolving, and there may be hesitation or skepticism regarding its use in certain contexts. It’s our responsibility to have open and honest conversations with our clients about how AI can be applied ethically and responsibly to address their specific needs and goals. We must also be vigilant in ensuring that AI is developed and deployed in a manner that respects privacy, promotes fairness, and minimizes potential biases. This requires the involvement of experts from various fields, such as design, science, and ethics, to provide guidance and oversight. “Are we more interested in what other humans are creating or what a robot made? A key part of this is ethical use. It’s the blood, sweat, and tears that give design meaning and value. We study what inspired us to get to this outcome and learn to keep creating novel designs."—AARON LEA, ART DIRECTOR | INSPIRINGAPPS The Future of AI Google I/O 2024 has given us a glimpse into the future of AI and its potential to revolutionize how we live and work. However, AI’s success will depend not only on technological progress but also on our ability to use it to serve business purposes. As business leaders and innovators, we must ensure that AI is developed and applied to solve problems, not create hype. “AI is a powerful tool in the digital product toolbox, offering benefits such as saving time, improving quality, and slicing data in new ways—but it must serve a specific business purpose.”—BRAD WEBER, CEO | INSPIRINGAPPS At InspiringApps, we are committed to helping our clients navigate the AI landscape with integrity, transparency, and a focus on user-centered design. Together, we can unlock artificial intelligence’s full potential while staying true to our values and creating better, more immersive, and helpful digital products.

11 days ago

Business & Strategy

Elevate Your Digital Product With User-Centric Insights & Market-Driven Strategy

Creating products that resonate with users and outpace the competition is crucial for success. At InspiringApps, we specialize in empowering brands to thrive in the digital world by providing comprehensive market research, competitor analysis, and user-centric design solutions. Our goal is to help you craft digital experiences that elevate your brand and drive measurable results. Market Trends & Competitor Insights To make informed decisions about your digital product, it’s essential to have a deep understanding of the market landscape and your competitors. Our team conducts thorough research to identify the latest industry trends, consumer preferences, and best practices. By analyzing your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and strategies, we help you identify opportunities to differentiate your product and capitalize on untapped market potential. Our market research and app marketing services include: In-depth industry trend analysis Detailed customer behavior and preference insights Comprehensive competitor benchmarking and SWOT analysis Identification of market gaps and growth opportunities Armed with these insights, you can make data-driven decisions that optimize your product’s features, pricing, and positioning to meet your target audience’s evolving needs. User-Inspired Innovation At InspiringApps, we believe the key to creating digital products that truly resonate with users is putting them at the heart of the innovation process. Our user-centric approach involves employing a range of research methods to gain deep insights into your users’ behaviors, preferences, and pain points. Our user research services include: In-depth user interviews and surveys Usability testing and user experience (UX) audits Persona development and user journey mapping Comprehensive analysis of user feedback and analytics By incorporating user insights throughout the product design and development process, we help you create digital experiences that not only meet but exceed your users’ expectations, fostering engagement, loyalty, and advocacy. Success Through User Experience Feedback Our client, Fidelity National Financial, used user feedback from their product inHere to align the user experiences for multiple personas and ensure the best possible experience.  “Early on, we thought the consumer would have their own view. That they would have something different than what the real estate professional saw. We’re learning that part of the continuity between the parties involved is being able to feel comfortable that what you are seeing as the real estate professional is the same thing that the consumer is seeing, the buyer or the seller.” —BRIAN MAUGHAN, FIDELITY NATIONAL FINANCIAL   Compelling Brand Experiences Every interaction a user has with your brand is an opportunity to create a lasting impression. Our team works closely with you to understand your brand’s unique identity, values, and market position to craft digital experiences that authentically represent your brand and resonate with your target audience. Our branding services include: Brand personality and visual identity development Brand messaging and storytelling Tone and voice guidelines Consistency across all digital touchpoints “Your customer’s experience includes the entire journey and relationship that a customer has with a brand or a company. So that includes all interactions, whether they’re digital or in person, and across different touchpoints, like interactions with customer service, and marketing, and sales, and if a company has a physical store. It would be anything that shapes a customer’s perception of a brand. And the goal of this is to create consistent, positive, memorable experiences.” —BECCA COLLINS, UI/UX DESIGNER AT INSPIRINGAPPS Creating a cohesive and compelling brand experience allows you to differentiate your product, build emotional connections with your users, and drive long-term success in the digital marketplace. Outcome-Driven Partnerships At InspiringApps, we are committed to being your strategic partner and invested in your long-term success. We bring an owner’s mentality to every project, focusing relentlessly on driving the outcomes that matter most to your business. Our success is measured by your success, and we work tirelessly to ensure that our digital solutions deliver a measurable impact on your key performance indicators. Are you ready to use user-centric insights and market-driven strategy to elevate your digital product? Contact InspiringApps today to learn how our expertise can help you achieve your digital goals and drive meaningful results.

1 month ago

AI Artificial Intelligence

Thriving in the New AI Era: Book Announcements, FAQ, & More

In the latest conversation with Adam Torres of Mission Matters, Brad Weber, CEO of InspiringApps, announces his newly released audiobook and discusses the importance of connecting with customers through digital products, especially in the new AI era.  Nearly everyone we work with is asking about the impact of AI. But there’s a need to focus on solving specific challenges rather than just following trends.  In addition to these AI insights, Brad shares his perspective on how to thrive in an industry that’s constantly evolving. He emphasizes the significance of leadership, company culture, and strong collaboration in navigating entrepreneurial challenges and ultimately driving brand success. Key Takeaways Announcing the launch of an audiobook featuring various authors, including Brad. The importance of connecting with customers through digital products. Insights on the impact of AI and automation on businesses, emphasizing the need to focus on solving specific challenges. Differentiators from creating a strong company culture and retaining long-term employees. The significance of leadership and team collaboration in driving success in the industry. Watch the Replay Read the Transcript Adam: I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to apply to be a guest on the show, just head over to Missionmatters.com and click on be our guest to apply. All right. So today is a special episode, maybe even a commemorative episode. We’re celebrating the launch of our very first audiobook as a company. This has been a long, long time coming. If we were musicians, this would be our greatest hit, but since we’re not, it’s our best-of series. For all of the books, we published over 400 authors, curated some of the top authors in that collection, and put them all together. They were game enough to want to read their chapters and participate in the creative and construction process, so that’s what we’re here to celebrate today. I brought one of the authors—he’s wonderful—back onto the show. Brad has been a guest multiple times. Brad Weber, for those who do not know him, is the President and CEO of InspiringApps. Welcome back. Brad: It’s great to be back. Adam: So, Brad, we’re going to get into, of course, your content in the book and the audiobook. I’m curious to hear how the recording process was for you. Because that’s always interesting, but before we do all that, we start this episode with our “Mission Matters minute.” So, Brad, at Mission Matters, our aim is to amplify stories and get them out there for business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives. That’s what we do. Brad, what Mission Matters to you? Brad: I’m passionate about helping brands connect with their customers by designing and building digital products that their customers love. Adam: I love it. It’s great to have you back, and I’d like to jump right in here to celebrate recording the audiobook. I know one of the engineers who worked on the book. He’s actually in the background doing the controls, so it’s okay. Jack, close your ears. Brad, what was it like recording your portion of the audiobook? Brad: It was fantastic. I’ll return to your opener, inviting others who want to be guests on your show to endorse you and say that Adam, you, and your team have been professional and great to work with through the book and the audiobook process. I can’t say enough good things. It was also nice to connect with some other authors along the way. Yeah, but it was great, and honestly, the audiobook was easier to record and produce than I expected. Adam: Yeah. Isn’t it fun to finally hear it and like the end product, and then you hear all the voices? The audiobook is made up of about 15 different chapters, and each one has the author reading their own story. So think about it as you hear from the author in every chapter you listen to, except one that I recorded for them. But other than that, all of the authors read their stories. So, to me, it’s kind of like this surreal experience because I’ve interviewed you and talked to all of the authors before, but it’s almost like a collection of friends. Because I know everybody and I’ve worked with everybody. What was it like for you to go through and hear all of the different stories, hearing them from their voices? Brad: Yeah, it was nice for that same reason. I have not had the pleasure of speaking with everyone with whom I co-authored, so it was fun to hear. They are passionate about telling their stories as well. Adam: Yeah, it’s different to me. It was different. I was like, just as a work and a creative work, it was like, normally one person reads the whole book or this or that, or maybe even sections, but to see like each one be something different and to hear their passion for what they, you know, what, what their particular story was. It was a unique work in the marketplace. And I hope that many, many people go out and grab it because I think it’s worth listening to. That’s why we made it. I want to take a couple of steps back for some of our new listeners here, Brad, who may not have caught some of our previous work together. So, talk a bit more about InspiringApps, what you do, and how you got started to set the tone before we get into some of the content you submitted. Brad: Sure. Yeah. By way of background, InspiringApps creates digital products for companies. We develop custom digital products for enterprises and funded startups across a wide variety of industries. There has been a heavy emphasis on financial services and medical lately, but there is lots of innovation happening. The market has been really fun for us to work in. You talk about starting it. So I had my start after my master’s program, a large consulting firm, one of the global, you know, what they called the big six at the time. I don’t know how many are left now. While I learned things for sure, I realized, most importantly, that that was not the environment for me to thrive in. After a few years in that environment, I ventured out on my own and had a number of experiences starting my own thing, developing software for small businesses. Well, I tried to build up a client base, but I did not have enough clients, so I took a job for a while and went back to trying to build my own business. Adam: You have to love the entrepreneurial journey. Brad: I had a series of those until I found something that worked, and I did so independently for about a dozen years before I founded InspiringApps. As I mentioned, we’re in our 17th year and have built an all-US-based team that designs, develops, and tests various products. Adam: I love to work in a pay-it-forward question when I can. And I think I got my opening here, Brad. What kept you strong during those times when it went up and down? What kept you moving forward? Brad: Oh, my goodness. It was easier in some respects when I was on my own; there were just fewer moving parts. I think that having that success on my own helped me once I started to grow a team as things got challenging. I needed to hear my inner voice saying, “You’ve done this before; you know how to push this forward; you know how to succeed.” And that, along with having a great team to support me through this, led to the success that we’ve enjoyed. Adam: So, going further into what you’re doing right now, I know it’s been a while since we last spoke. I mean, you’re my guy when it comes to apps, anything like this, just period. I’m like, okay, Brad, what should I be thinking about? I’m hearing all this noise. All I’m hearing right now is AI, AI, AI. Brad: It’s part of almost every project conversation now. And having done this for as long as I have, it reminds me of some other trends that I’m sure your viewers will be familiar with. There was a time in my business when everybody needed a website. That was the craze, and then when the iPhone came out... Adam: We have to pause there for a second, like that’s... Some of our younger audience members will say, “That was the craze?” We have to at least laugh at this, and yes, I was around for that craze, too. Dotcom, anything with dot com, would be an amazing investment. Go ahead, please. Brad: Yes, I appreciate you calling that out, Adam. I’m sure several people just decided to tune out the old guy. Adam: No, I was there too. They better not tune out. Brad: But after that, in 2007, when the iPhone was introduced, there was another craze. Adam: It was a great craze. I think I was too busy working at that point to understand what was going on. I had just graduated college, so I was too busy doing that to have the time, but that was a great craze. I was like, what are all these lines about? What’s all this other stuff going on? What sold out the phone? Who cares? That was amazing. Brad: Yeah. During that time, it was apparent, but there were years in there when every business felt like they needed an app. They needed a mobile app to be relevant, just like the web before. And I see some commonality. The AI craze that’s happening now is fabulous. I mean, much like the introduction of the iPhone and the Android platform to follow, it’s going to impact our lives in really meaningful ways.  But what I recommend to businesses who are getting caught up in the frenzy is to focus, as you do for all things like this, on what problem you’re trying to solve. What is the challenge specifically? Then, we have loads of tools in our toolbox.  AI is a big one right now. It’s kind of a sledgehammer at the moment, but there are a lot of tools in the toolbox to solve a variety of business problems with a digital product. And that’s just one way that we can help either save people time, improve the quality of whatever it is that they’re producing, maybe offer suggestions, or slice and dice data in ways they hadn’t considered before. Those are all some of AI’s benefits, but they must serve a specific purpose and not just jump on the bandwagon because you see your competitors doing it. Adam: What excites you about AI right now? You mentioned its ability to help us or to progress us. What excites you about AI right now? It could be technology. It could be how it’s helping businesses. I mean, whatever, it doesn’t matter. It could be something just for fun. I don’t know. What excites you about AI right now? Brad: It’s phenomenal and honestly amazing to witness the rapid advancements in our industry, even for someone like me who has been in it for a long time. Not long ago, we were impressed by the ability to point your camera at a piece of fruit and have it differentiate between an apple and a banana. I thought that was great. Now, it’s writing entire articles and categorizing data in unique ways, which is impressive, as I mentioned before. What’s happening with mixed media, including photos and videos, is also noteworthy. It’s not just about working with text; it’s about generating original video or photo content from the prompts we give it, which is pretty cool. It’s interesting to think about how we might apply that for business purposes. Adam: It’s interesting to see how fast everything is moving, especially with the original written content. I don’t even need to start on video because that’s evolving rapidly as well. It changes my concept of five-year planning. Anyone in a creative field used to plan their studio for five years in advance, but now you can’t plan for more than two. For example, we are investing in large amounts of equipment used to make sense. There’s a notion that AI isn’t replacing jobs, but I can provide a specific example that contradicts that. It didn’t replace a job per se, but it replaced the need for an entire person at a conference we covered. We bought an AI camera at the last minute when the person couldn’t come, which was phenomenal. It did exactly what we needed for the size of our production. This was the first instance that directly impacted our business, Mission Matters, in terms of production. Before this, everything we added, whether to increase video quality or something else, just added a layer of improvement. This moment was more like a fork in the road. I wondered how one could plan for the next five years. Brad: That’s a great point. There’s a lot of talk about AI not taking jobs or replacing people. Jobs will disappear as a result of this technology. It might make our existing team more productive, so we don’t need to hire more people. This doesn’t necessarily mean someone gets fired because AI took their job. Adam: That’s been our experience. I’m not trying to be politically correct, but that’s just how it’s been. Now, we can accomplish more with higher-skilled individuals trained on better tools. Every employer wants their employees to feel needed, wanted, and invested in, especially when it comes to training. In my opinion, it creates a better work environment. (I wanted to clarify that in case someone thought people were losing their jobs.) Brad: I completely agree. Regarding technological advancement, ChatGPT/OpenAI has been quietly innovating for years and made significant progress last spring. I was fortunate to attend a Microsoft event in New York, where they demoed their capabilities. It was impressive even then. The updates I received in November showed tremendous progress in just six months. Now, Google is holding its developer conference this week, and they will announce new developments. We’re now about six months after that, and some of the things they’re adding to their platform are beyond what I could have imagined a year ago. It’s an impressive pace of innovation. Adam: It’s an exciting space. I tell people they should get involved in their personal and business lives. For example, Amazon updated its publishing platform, allowing you to record audiobooks using an AI voice. This completely changed our business strategy. I was debating whether to read my book myself or go to the studio, but then I participated in their beta. Within 10 minutes, an audiobook of my book was published with an AI voice. The quality was surprisingly good, making me question whether I could have done a better job myself. Considering the entire audiobook industry, if you’re a voiceover actor or own a studio, this could significantly affect your business. With the ability to produce an audiobook with a click of a button, the demand for traditional recording may decrease. I’m amazed at how quickly everything is shifting. It feels like it’s only been a year with the whole ChatGPT thing, yet it feels like it’s been a decade in my life. Brad: It’s hard to imagine what next year will hold. Adam: Oh, well, I’m going to bring you back, and I’m like, Brad, what else should I be thinking about? I want to jump around a bit here. I want to go further into the book. Everybody, I want you to pick up a copy for sure. The audiobook is live and out there, so you can hear Brad reading his chapter and work. But your title and section are important. The section was to meet business challenges and build an inspiring business. And you go through things on your journey. And lay those out for people. I think it’s a great entrepreneurial story. And I think what I like about it, too, is you don’t sugarcoat it. It’s not all fun and games, right? Why did, so why did you choose this topic? There are a lot of different things you could have written about from a lot of different angles. Why did you choose to present this? Brad: Yeah, I think your last comment about it not all being a bed of roses, so to speak, was important to me. I learn from the mistakes and trials of others. I don’t. Sometimes, it’s easier to hear those lessons and apply them and avoid those problems in your own life than it is to hear someone’s perfect path and think about how you’re going to stick to that. It’s not going to happen. There are going to be challenges. There will be things that throw you off your journey, your intended route. I think it’s valuable for me to hear how other people have dealt with adversity, and so I wanted to share some of what I walked through in my process, and hopefully, that’ll benefit someone else in a similar way. Adam: You wrote about a lot of different things, but growing a company fraught with risk and cultivating a winning culture requires an employee-based team. A flat organizational structure will only take you so far. You gave a lot of different nuggets in your journey, which is the one that I want to talk about today. The one that I want to pick out, though, is that you create cool stuff for clients. You build a real business. Talk to me about that, Brad. Brad: Yeah. This evolves a little bit. If we go back to the story of my journey that I shared, where I was working independently and what I enjoyed was making cool stuff, It was fun to demo, not only for the client that I was working with at the time but also to share with friends and others, which helped generate more business. As I founded InspiringApps, I carried those habits and practices along with me in the new business. I was trying to grow a team that worked for a while, but it wasn’t a sustainable business strategy. So, the message in that section that you’re referring to is that there are valuable business lessons to be learned, not just from other technology companies but across industries. It is extremely valuable to have a leadership team, for instance, to support me and for them to focus on parts of the business that are blind spots for me or not necessarily my strengths. It touches a bit on another section that you’d talk about growing the organization, but having team leads to be a point person for our technology teams, our developers specifically, who are really thinking about best practices and their area of focus, is critical to building something that’s sustainable longer term. We still build cool things. That’s just not the business strategy. Adam: Yeah. And what I’ll tell you is that this is something I feel all business owners kind of make these trade-offs. They just don’t word it well. Like building cool things, everybody wants to serve their company or clients. Now, with AI, this is a funny part—I didn’t even mean to tie that into the book, but when you think about all the new toys for people to start exploring with and doing. Even if it is a new technology or a new thing. I like your thinking, “Okay, well, who will lead that project? Are you going to just implement a new piece of software or a new thing because you were able to get it? Otherwise, how are you going to implement that? What’s going to be the tracking? Does it make sense for your business? Does it add to whatever objective you thought it would, or will it just be cool?” I’ll use one example that we come across often. Speaking of AI, it’s like, “Oh, now, everybody can spend 30 bucks and make a million pieces of content constantly and put it out there with the click of a button.” I’m exaggerating, but not by much. So now, for a business to think about, “Okay, does that solve the problem? Does that solve your branding presence or your presence in the marketplace, assuming that’s what you’re going for? Does that help your reach, or are you taking away from your brand by putting out a bunch of things that weren’t well thought out, and now it’s going to be hard to clean those up?” So, it’s this constant trade-off between what you’re doing publicly, obviously, and what you’re doing to build, but also what you’re doing internally, how you’re designing those processes. As you mentioned again in one of the previous segments, you talk about the organizational structure, what’s next with that, and how it develops. So, I’m a fan of the way you laid this out because it really does give an overview and some really good milestones and touchpoints, if you will, for people to reassess after they read it or, in this case, listen to it in the audiobook and go back and say, “Huh, do I need to revisit that in my organization or my situation?” There are many different takeaways and nuggets here, but if you had to narrow it down to one, what do you hope your readers will take away from this experience and from reading your work? Brad: As you mentioned, there’s a lot in there. We’ve touched on some of them. I’ll bring up a new topic that has been extremely valuable for me: the importance of company culture and how I tried to build a team of contractors in the early days. It was challenging for many reasons. Still, it’s particularly challenging to establish a company culture because if you’ve got contractors coming and going pretty frequently over time, there’s not a common thread running through your projects, running through the people who stay. Having employees on our team exclusively has made a huge difference for us. We just celebrated somebody’s 14th year at InspiringApps this week, and we’ve got another 14-year celebration coming up next month. Adam: Congratulations. That’s amazing. Brad: Many of our employees have been with us for 5, 10 years or more. This is a differentiator for us. Not only is it a pleasure to work with people you get to know over that period, but there’s so much institutional knowledge that stays in the company from project to project, which also benefits our clients. It’s been incredibly valuable. Adam: Wow. That’s amazing. Well, Brad, thank you again for participating in this most recent release of our best-of-series, volume one of Mission Matters. I’m so excited about it, and for everybody who’s watching, we’re going to put some links in the show notes so that you can click on them and head right on over and pick up a copy. Brad, if somebody wants to connect with you and your team and talk more about what you’re up to at InspiringApps, how do they do that? Brad: Our website is InspiringApps.com, and we’re fairly active on LinkedIn. You can find us there—it’s @InspiringApps. Adam: Perfect. We’ll also put those links in the show notes for everybody watching so you can head right over to InspiringApps. Speaking to the audience, if this is your first time with Mission Matters, make this show a part of your daily routine. We’re bringing you new content, thought leaders, and episodes. If that interests you, hit that subscribe button. We welcome you so you don’t miss any upcoming thought leaders and experts. And Brad, thank you again so much for coming on. Brad: My pleasure. Thanks, Adam.

1 month ago

AI Artificial Intelligence

Your Brand AI: Balancing Authenticity & Automation

With the rising influence of brand AI in content production, a double-edged sword emerges—the potential amplification of your brand‘s reach against the backdrop of losing its human touch. We‘re investigating AI‘s impact on brand voice and what it means for your digital legacy. We‘ll explore the power of AI in sustaining brand voice, pitfalls to avoid, and everything in between. AI Apps Pioneering Personalization AI‘s role in content creation and distribution for digital products and mobile apps is monumental, catalyzing unparalleled scalability and customization. Through algorithms and machine learning models, AI technologies can analyze vast datasets to generate relevant and personalized content that fits the individual user‘s preferences and behavior patterns. How Brand AI Encourages Personalization A consistent AI brand voice ensures a seamless user experience, reinforcing brand identity and values. By crafting personalized recommendations and suggesting content through AI that reflects a brand‘s unique voice, companies can significantly enhance trust among their audience. This tailored approach makes users feel understood and valued, fostering a deeper connection with the app or platform. A consistent brand voice in these AI-driven suggestions ensures a seamless user experience, reinforcing brand identity and values. Case Study: Starbucks’ AI-Powered App Starbucks’ mobile app is a prime example of leveraging AI for personalization while maintaining a consistent brand voice. The app uses AI to analyze user data, including order history and location, to provide customized recommendations and promotions. It might suggest a user’s favorite drink near a Starbucks location or offer a discount on a pastry they frequently purchase. Importantly, these recommendations are presented in Starbucks’ signature friendly and inviting tone. The AI-generated content feels like a natural extension of the brand rather than a jarring departure. By carefully curating the language and offers, Starbucks ensures that every interaction reinforces its brand identity, even when automated. Why does personalization matter? Personalized interactions keep users engaged in the app longer and transform them into brand advocates. When users encounter a delightful and customized experience, they are more likely to recommend the product or company to friends and peers, expanding its reach and impact organically. This ability of AI to craft and deliver customized content on a massive scale allows digital products to stay competitive, engaging, and valuable to their target audience. Design & Development With Brand AI Brand AI transforms app development into a more intuitive, creative, and efficient process. The benefits of AI in digital product development and design represent a new era of innovation, efficiency, and personalized user experiences. AI can analyze data, predict user behavior, and automate tasks, enabling developers and designers to push the boundaries of what‘s possible. Brand AI transforms app development into a more intuitive, creative, and efficient process. Streamlining Development Processes AI can significantly streamline digital product development by automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks. AI tools can reduce development time and increase efficiency, from generating code to testing app functions and identifying potential bugs. Developers and designers can focus on innovation, speeding up time-to-market and ensuring high-quality digital experiences. Predictive Analytics & Decision-Making AI-driven predictive analytics can provide product and brand owners valuable insights into future trends and user behaviors. AI can use data analysis to predict popular features, design elements, and evolving user needs. This foresight can inform digital product development decisions, helping to create apps that meet current user expectations and are well-positioned to adapt to future demands. By harnessing the power of AI in design and development, brands can create digital products that meet user needs and anticipate them. This proactive approach sets the stage for enduring customer relationships. Staying Authentic With Brand AI Copy While AI arms us with tools capable of speaking volumes on behalf of our brands, there are inherent risks in relying too heavily on AI writing, especially writing tailored to your brand voice. One wrong note from an AI-crafted message can ring inauthentic to users who are more discerning than we give them credit for. Navigating the AI-Brand Waters Calibrating AI to maintain a human touch is crucial for a compelling brand voice. Here are some key considerations: Quality Control Establishing and fine-tuning the parameters of AI‘s content generation is crucial. Regularly ‘auditing‘ the content to ensure it aligns with the brand‘s ethos is labor-intensive yet non-negotiable. Brand AI brings readiness to embrace “failing fast.” Teams should aim to be precision-guided by data, seeking insights from employees and users about their experiences and interactions. It‘s crucial to ensure that it delivers real value rather than employing AI merely for its own sake. Ethical Editing By their nature, AI systems need to be more capable of understanding copyright concerns and the more nuanced legalities surrounding language usage. Because AI cannot navigate these complexities, brands must carefully monitor input prompts and templates in AI systems.  Moreover, conducting thorough legal reviews of the content generated by these tools is just as critical as it would be for content produced through traditional means. Ensuring compliance with legal standards and copyright laws is essential to avoid potential legal issues, making the oversight of AI-generated content a necessary step in the content creation. Human Oversight It‘s essential to find the right balance between automation and human management.  The unique nuances, emotional connections, and creative insights humans bring are invaluable.  While automation can significantly increase efficiency and streamline processes, it‘s important to remember that no AI system can fully comprehend your brand‘s intricacies and rich heritage as a human can. The unique nuances, emotional connections, and creative insights that humans bring to the table are invaluable. Therefore, while embracing the advantages of automation, consider the necessity for hands-on human creativity and intervention.  This balance is crucial for maintaining the authenticity and depth of your brand, ensuring that it remains relatable and genuine in the eyes of your audience. The Language of Tomorrow AI is constantly changing and adapting to new linguistic patterns and cultural shifts. Companies should stay ahead of these changes to prevent their brand‘s voice from becoming outdated. By doing so, you can maintain a dynamic and resonant brand voice that keeps pace with the evolution of technology and society. AI on the Frontlines of Cultural Sensitivity Brand voice isn‘t just about what you say; it‘s about how you say it in the cultural dialects that resonate. AI can effectively promote diversity and inclusivity when used ethically, enabling your brand to connect with a global audience without missing a beat. Bridging All Tongues AI can uniquely adapt brand messages to myriad cultures through sentiment analysis and language processing while preserving the core voice. Ensuring that AI is culturally literate means your brand can speak confidently in global markets. Building Apps for All Using AI to craft copy, design, and develop applications significantly enhances accessibility, breaking down barriers for people with disabilities.  AI can optimize apps to be more intuitive and user-friendly for individuals with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive impairments. AI can assist in prioritizing features like voice recognition, screen readers, and predictive text, which developers and designers can fine-tune to understand and adapt to each user‘s unique needs. These features broaden the user base and foster an inclusive digital environment where technology empowers everyone. Harnessing the Benefits of AI AI can clarify your brand‘s digital narrative and help iterate faster and more efficiently. However, the collective effort of technology and human ingenuity brings AI-supported projects to life.  When using AI, organizations should work to balance the scales between humans and machines to ensure a quality product. AI is a potent tool, but like any new technology, it comes with responsibility. If you‘re one of the many companies braving the new world of AI, contact InspiringApps today, and together, we‘ll write the next chapter of your brand‘s story.

2 months ago

Digital Products

Web or Mobile App: Which Is the Right Digital Product?

Struggling to choose between a web app or a mobile app (or website)? This guide simplifies your decision. We’ll explore ideal use cases to help you pick the perfect fit for your digital experience. Learn about websites, web apps, mobile apps and when to choose each. Understanding App Types: Websites, Web Apps, & Mobile Apps Websites: Informing & Engaging Users Websites primarily serve to inform users by presenting static or dynamic content like text, images, and videos. They function as digital brochures, portfolios, or news platforms, offering limited interactivity where users primarily consume information rather than actively manipulate it. Websites excel in accessibility, being readily available through any web browser on any device, making them a widely accessible information resource. Examples: Company websites, news websites, online portfolios, and blogs. Web Apps: Interactive Tools for Task Completion Web apps go beyond informing, offering interactive functionalities designed to perform specific tasks and provide dynamic experiences. They empower users to manipulate data, complete actions, and engage with the application in a more immersive way. Online banking, email services, social media platforms, e-commerce stores, and project management tools are all prime examples of web apps. Offering high levels of interactivity, they enable users to navigate through features, manage tasks, and connect with others.  Take the CreatingWe app, for instance. This web app, developed by InspiringApps, specifically addresses the challenge of fostering stronger client connections for consulting firms. The app facilitates ongoing communication and collaboration between coaches and clients. The app strengthens client relationships and allows for a more personalized consulting experience by providing a platform for continuous engagement. Mobile Apps: Streamlined Functionality for On-the-Go Users Mobile apps are specifically designed for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Downloaded and installed through app stores like Google Play Store or Apple App Store, they require dedicated storage space on the device. However, they compensate for this by offering tailored functionalities and deeper engagement optimized for the mobile user experience.  Mobile apps use the inherent features of mobile devices, such as touchscreens, cameras, and GPS, for enhanced functionality. Their focus on personalized interaction and convenience has led to their widespread adoption, with social media platforms, ride-hailing services, and countless other apps becoming integral to our daily routines. If you decide mobile apps are the best route, we’ve already answered your next question: Should I build on iOS, Android, or both? Choosing the Right App Solution for Your Digital Product Identifying Your Goals The first step in choosing the right app is clearly defining its purpose. Ask yourself: What problem are you trying to solve? What need are you fulfilling for your users? Do you want to inform, educate, entertain, or facilitate specific tasks? Understanding your objectives will guide your selection process. For example, if your goal is to educate users about a complex topic, a web app might be suitable because it offers in-depth information and interactive elements. Conversely, if your goal is to provide a convenient on-the-go shopping experience, a mobile app might be more appropriate due to its offline functionality and integration with device features like cameras for product scanning. Considering Your Audience Once you know your goals, analyze your target audience and their digital habits: Who are you trying to reach? What devices do they use most frequently? How do they typically access information? Aligning the app type with your audience’s preferences is crucial for its success. A mobile app might be essential if your target demographic primarily uses smartphones. However, a website or web app could be sufficient if the focus is on desktop users. Understanding your audience’s platform preferences and digital behaviors will help you choose the most accessible and engaging format. Prioritizing Your App’s Core Features Next, identify the essential features needed to achieve your goals and meet your target audience’s needs. Consider: What core features are necessary for your app to function effectively? What additional features could enhance the user experience? Are there any limitations specific to different app types (e.g., offline functionality)? Balance your essential functionalities with potential limitations. For instance, if real-time notifications are crucial for your app, a mobile or web app might be better than a website. A mobile app might be most suitable if extensive offline functionality is critical. Cost & Development Considerations Finally, compare the development costs, ongoing maintenance needs, and resource requirements for each app type: What is your budget for app development and maintenance? Do you have the technical resources or plan to outsource development? Research development costs associated with each app type (websites, web apps, mobile apps) and consider ongoing maintenance needs. While websites might be initially cheaper to develop, they might require more maintenance depending on their complexity. Mobile apps often have higher development costs but offer unique functionalities and deeper user engagement. Weigh the cost and resource implications against your budget and available resources to make an informed decision. Ideal Use Cases Consider social media giant Instagram and ride-hailing service Uber as successful examples of mobile-first applications. These apps leverage smartphone features like GPS, contacts, and cameras to deliver a seamless user experience. While both offer web versions, their key functionalities and user experiences are optimized for mobile use. On the other hand, platforms like Canva, a graphic design tool, launched as web apps to allow users to work on larger screens better suited for design work. They extended to native mobile apps later to provide mobile users with accessibility for lighter tasks. When & Why To Opt for Each Situations Favoring a Web App Web apps are particularly beneficial when you need an application that processes and displays large volumes of data.  If you want broad accessibility and functionality across various devices without forcing users to download and install your software. Why a Mobile App Might Be Your Best Bet For businesses aiming to engage deeply with their users on a personal level, offer a highly interactive UX, and leverage device-specific features, a mobile app may be the more strategic choice.  Additionally, apps that require regular offline access, such as note-taking apps or e-reading apps, work better as mobile apps due to their ability to sync data when online and continue functioning in offline mode. Websites or a Platform Approach Think of a digital brochure for your business or an educational blog combined with an online store. Search engines easily index websites, making them a great way to attract and educate your customers. You may benefit from a platform approach—in other words, a digital ecosystem with a website and a web and mobile app, meeting users where they are. Additional Considerations Security & Data Privacy Regardless of the app type you choose, it’s crucial to prioritize user data security and privacy. This includes implementing robust security measures, adhering to data privacy regulations, and being transparent with users about how their data is collected, stored, and used. Download our free security checklist for the InspiringApps teams’ blueprint for app security. Future-Proofing Your App Consider the potential for future growth and technological advancements when choosing an app type. Choose an option that can scale with your business needs and adapt to evolving technologies. Consider the flexibility and adaptability of each app type in terms of future updates and integration with emerging technologies. Beyond the Screen: Where Your Customers Live & the Apps They Need Deciding between a web and mobile app isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Your choice should align with your business needs and target user preferences. By following these steps and considering these additional factors, you can make a well-informed decision about the app type that best suits your needs. Your goal: deliver the right features at the right place to your customers.

2 months ago

Digital Product Development

Apple TV: The Unsung Hero of Digital Signage

In developing digital products over the past 15-plus years, we’ve seen a lot of technological trends come and go. But Apple TV is one platform that has consistently flown under the radar yet proven its mettle. The way we communicate with our audiences is constantly evolving. Traditional static signage is losing its edge, and businesses are seeking dynamic, engaging solutions for digital signage. Enter Apple TV — this little box packs a serious punch. Digital Signage Powerhouse With Apple TV, you can develop custom digital signage solutions that blow the competition out of the water. From the user interface to the content you display, custom Apple TV solutions enable you to create a digital customer experience that elevates your brand. These configurations connect seamlessly with your existing data sources, ensuring real-time information and a dynamic display that reflects your unique needs. And you maintain control over your digital signage network remotely. Innovative Use Cases Take the example of the commercial solar power client we worked with. Their car dealership customers want to showcase the real-time solar power production of their rooftop installation to demonstrate the dealership’s commitment to clean energy when selling to EV buyers. We designed and developed a sleek, unattended kiosk application that runs on Apple TV and displays this information in a visually stunning, dynamic way. We’ve seen Apple TV powering interactive digital signage in restaurants, showrooms, and even corporate offices. The opportunities for creativity and customization are often untapped. Apple TVs provide the flexibility to create engaging experiences for any industry. Dynamic Data Integration Custom Apple TV configurations go beyond displaying static images. Digital signage via Apple TV seamlessly connects with your data sources, allowing you to showcase real-time information like sales figures, energy production, or appointment wait times in healthcare facilities. Imagine stock tickers updating in real-time for financial institutions or dynamic restaurant menus that adjust based on current ingredient availability. Interactive Experiences Engage your audience with interactive elements. Customers in showrooms can use their smartphones or tablets to trigger augmented reality displays on product displays, revealing detailed specifications or 3D models. Employees can interact with digital wayfinding systems in corporate offices to find meeting rooms or navigate the building. Content Personalization Target your message to reach a specific audience based on demographics or real-time data. Imagine retail stores displaying personalized promotions to customers using their loyalty cards or healthcare facilities providing targeted information based on a patient’s specific needs. Internal Communication Boost employee morale and keep your workforce informed with real-time company news, updates, and recognition programs displayed on lobby screens or breakroom TVs. Or, streamline the onboarding process and provide ongoing training opportunities with interactive video tutorials and presentations accessible on demand. Security Features When showcasing sensitive information, security is paramount. Apple TV boasts a robust security foundation with features like app sandboxing and regular updates. Custom development allows us to build upon these strengths and tailor security measures to your needs. Client Recognition InspiringApps’ client, Freedom Solar Power, is a company dedicated to sustainable energy solutions. Their innovative ‘Power Window’ Apple TV app was featured in Toyota’s booth at the 2024 National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) trade show in Las Vegas as an important component in meeting Toyota’s 2050 Environmental Challenge. Digital Signage for All As veterans of digital product development, we see Apple TV as the unsung hero of the digital signage world. If you want to elevate your organization’s visual communications, you might look closer at this little powerhouse. With Apple’s continued investment in the tvOS platform, we’re confident that we’ll see even more innovative use cases emerge in the years to come.

2 months ago

Business & Strategy

From Frustration to Funding: Your Guide to Launching Your Dream App

Originally published: February 2018. Updated: April 2024. You’re scrolling through your phone, desperately searching for an app that solves a nagging problem. Maybe it’s finding a reliable babysitter at the last minute, splitting a restaurant bill with friends seamlessly, or finally organizing your ever-growing to-do list. But every app you find falls short. “There has to be a better way,” you think. That’s the spark of a brilliant app idea! But then reality sets in: how do you turn that spark into a reality, especially when funding feels like a major hurdle? Entrepreneurs take note: Hold on to your fantastic app idea! This comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge and resources to navigate the app funding landscape and turn your app dream into a thriving mobile application.  Before We Dive In: Building a Strong Foundation Two key elements, the minimum viable product (MVP) and business plan, will be your cornerstones for attracting investors and securing the capital to launch your dream app. Before we delve into the various funding options, let’s solidify the foundation of your app’s success. The MVP Advantage Many successful apps started as an MVP. This basic version focuses on core functionalities that solve your target user’s problem. The MVP allows you to test your concept with real users early and often. This valuable feedback helps you refine your app and ensure you’re building something people actually want before sinking a ton of money into development. Business Planning: Craft a Compelling Roadmap Having a solid business plan is crucial for attracting potential investors and securing app funding. It demonstrates your understanding of the market, your competitive advantage, and how you plan to turn your app into a sustainable business. Essential sections include: Executive Summary Market Analysis Competitive Analysis Product Description Marketing & Sales Strategy Management Team Financial Projections Many online resources are specifically designed to help entrepreneurs write business plans. Check out SCORE (https://www.score.org/) or the Small Business Administration (https://www.sba.gov/) for free templates and guidance. App Funding Options for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Having a brilliant app idea is just the first step. Transforming that idea into a reality requires funding. This section will equip you with a clear roadmap to navigate the diverse financing landscape for app development. We’ll explore various options, from bootstrapping with your own resources to attracting external investment. By understanding the pros, cons, and ideal scenarios for each approach, you can make informed decisions to secure the capital needed to launch your app successfully. 1. Bootstrapping: Building Your App on Your Own Terms This is where you use your own resources to fund development. It might involve dipping into your savings, taking on a side hustle, or bartering your skills for services you need. Bootstrapping offers complete control over your business but requires careful budgeting, resourcefulness, and a willingness to wear many hats. Here are some tips for successful bootstrapping: Prioritize ruthlessly. Focus on developing the core functionalities that deliver the most value to users and postpone fancy features for later. Embrace open-source tools. Many free and open-source development tools and libraries are available to help you build your app without breaking the bank. Consider a side hustle. If your budget is tight, a side hustle can provide additional income to accelerate development. 2. Friends & Family: Your First Cheerleaders (and Maybe Investors) Your friends and family can be a fantastic source of early-stage app funding, especially if they believe in your vision. However, it’s crucial to approach them professionally. Communicate your vision and investment goals. Create formal agreements outlining the terms of the investment,  including the amount of funding, repayment terms, and ownership stake. This protects everyone involved and avoids misunderstandings down the road. 3. Crowdfunding Platforms: Unleashing the Power of the Crowd Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow you to raise capital from a large pool of online contributors. These platforms offer a unique opportunity to gauge market interest in your app before launch and potentially secure app funding from early adopters who are excited about your idea. Here are some key considerations for crowdfunding success: Craft a compelling campaign. Hook potential backers with a captivating video and story that showcases your app’s value proposition and potential impact. Be transparent about how you’ll use the funds raised. Offer enticing rewards. Incentivize backers with tiered rewards that offer early access to the app, exclusive features, or branded merchandise. Be a marketing machine. Use social media, online communities, and relevant blogs to spread the word about your campaign. The more people who know about your app, the higher your chances of reaching your funding goal. Remember: There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to app funding. Consider the stage of your idea, your comfort level with risk, and the amount of funding needed when deciding which option is best for you. App Funding: Setting Realistic Expectations Be prepared! Launching a successful startup requires hard work, perseverance, and a bit of luck. Unfortunately, many app ideas don’t make it to market. Here’s a reality check: Market Research Is Key Don’t just assume your app idea is brilliant. Conduct thorough market research to understand your target audience, existing competitors, and potential challenges. Focus on Value What unique value proposition does your app offer? Why should users choose yours over the competition? Define Your Target Audience Who are you building this app for? Understanding your target market demographics, needs, and behaviors is crucial for success. Success Rates & Challenges  While success stories abound, it’s important to acknowledge the competitive nature of the app market. Statistics show that only 10% of startups succeed [insert source here (optional)]. This emphasizes the importance of a solid foundation, a well-defined target audience, and a clear understanding of your challenges. Each funding option comes with its own set of challenges: Bootstrapping: Requires financial discipline and may limit the scope and functionality of your initial app. Friends & Family: Potential for strained relationships if things go south. Ensure clear communication and have ironclad legal agreements in place. Crowdfunding: Reaching your funding goal can be difficult and requires effective marketing. Beyond the Basics: Exploring Additional App Funding Options As your app evolves and gains traction, you can explore additional app funding avenues: Angel Investors These are high-net-worth individuals who invest their own money in promising startups. They often provide valuable mentorship alongside funding but expect a significant ownership stake in your company. Venture Capitalists Venture capitalist (VC) firms invest larger sums of money in startups with high growth potential. Securing VC funding is a significant accomplishment but often requires a more developed business plan and a proven track record. App Funding: The Path Forward Each funding option has its pros and cons. Carefully consider your needs and priorities before pursuing a specific type of app funding. By incorporating these actionable tips and realistic expectations, you’ll be well on your way to transforming your app dream into a reality.

2 months ago

Nonprofit Apps

Unlocking Potential: How Technology Can Amplify Brand Purpose

Technology is a powerful tool for revolutionizing industries, creating positive change, and building a strong brand purpose. Imagine leveraging technology to amplify your social impact initiatives and connect with a generation of consumers passionate about social responsibility. This article explores how both nonprofits and enterprises can apply tech solutions to create a ripple effect of positive change across various sectors. Bridging the Gap: How Enterprises Can Support Social Impact While technology offers immense potential for social impact, many enterprises struggle to integrate these initiatives into their existing structures. This could be due to a lack of internal expertise in specific technology areas, difficulty finding the right partners, or challenges in measuring the impact of social good programs. Non-profit organizations are at the forefront of social progress, tackling critical issues like hunger and social justice. However, they often lack the resources to fully leverage technology’s transformative power. This creates an opportunity for enterprises to bridge the gap. By partnering with nonprofits, enterprises can offer their technology expertise, resources, and marketing muscle to amplify the impact of social good initiatives. Here’s how enterprises can overcome these challenges: Strategic Partnerships: Collaborate with non-profit organizations to identify areas where technology can address their specific needs. Technology Expertise: Offer pro-bono or discounted tech services to nonprofits, helping them overcome resource constraints. Data & Measurement: Develop frameworks to measure the impact of social good initiatives, demonstrating the value proposition to all stakeholders. Tech for Good in Action: Empowering Sectors for Social Impact Technology solutions are transforming the way organizations serve their communities. Let’s explore a few inspiring examples. Healthcare Augmented Reality Apple Vision Pro, while not originally designed for medical applications, is finding innovative uses in the operating room to assist surgeons: Augmented Reality Overlay: The Apple Vision Pro headset can project virtual information onto the surgeon’s field of view. This allows surgeons to see crucial data, like patient scans or surgical instructions, overlaid in the real world without looking away from the patient. Real-Time Data Streaming: The headset can connect to other medical equipment and software, allowing surgeons to access real-time data streams during surgery. This could include vital signs, imaging data, or 3D patient anatomy models. Improved Communication and Collaboration: Surgeons wearing the headset can potentially communicate and collaborate with other medical professionals remotely, allowing for specialist input during surgery even if they’re not physically present in the operating room. AI-Powered Diagnostics AI-powered diagnostics can expedite treatment in underserved areas, while data analysis can optimize resource allocation and disease prevention strategies. Companies like Paige and iSono Health and organizations like Google’s DeepMind are developing AI algorithms to identify early signs of disease in mammograms, X-rays, and other scans, even with limited physician resources. Personalization & Education Innovative solutions can also empower patients to live healthier lives. For example, consider a mobile app like Cancer Exercise, developed by InspiringApps, that helps patients manage chronic conditions through personalization and educational resources.   Social Justice Identifying Bias Our current justice system isn’t imperfect; unconscious bias can creep into sentencing decisions. Machine learning algorithms can analyze historical sentencing data and identify racial or socioeconomic bias patterns in sentencing practices. By highlighting these disparities, these tools can empower policymakers and judges to work towards a fairer justice system. Streamlining Legal Processes Outdated spreadsheets can lead to data inaccuracies and hinder progress. This is a challenge many legal aid organizations face, as showcased in the impactful film, “Forgiving Johnny.” Machine learning can streamline processes by automating document review, legal research, and risk assessment tasks. This can free up lawyers’ time to focus on the more nuanced aspects of their cases, potentially leading to faster resolution times and improved access to justice for all. Nutrition & Food Security Connecting With Resources Many people struggling with food insecurity simply don’t know where to find healthy food resources. User-friendly apps can bridge this gap. These apps leverage geolocation to connect users with local food banks, soup kitchens, and farmers’ markets. Culturally-Conscious Recipes A one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition doesn’t work. Mobile apps can offer recipe suggestions that cater to diverse cultural preferences and dietary restrictions. This ensures everyone has access to recipes they’ll enjoy and easily integrate into their existing food culture. Empowerment Through Education Apps can give users basic nutritional guidance, explaining the importance of balanced meals, healthy food swaps, and meal planning tips.   Environmental Stewardship Real-Time Data Collection Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to protecting our planet. Sensor networks and mobile applications can collect real-time environmental data on factors like air and water quality, deforestation rates, and soil health. This data empowers communities to identify areas of concern and track changes over time, allowing for proactive environmental protection strategies. Empowering Local Action Data is just the first step. Apps and online platforms can translate complex environmental data into actionable insights for communities. Imagine a platform that allows users to visualize pollution levels in their neighborhood or track water usage in their community. Armed with this information, individuals and groups can advocate for environmental policies, promote sustainable practices, and hold local authorities accountable. InspiringApps in Action A great example of how technology empowers environmental stewardship is the work of InspiringApps with our client, the Boulder Watershed Collective. Together, we developed a mobile app called “Take-a-Hike.” This app provides users with detailed trail information, encourages responsible outdoor recreation, and raises awareness. “Take-a-Hike” showcases how technology can enhance outdoor experiences and inspire a sense of environmental responsibility. The Next Big Idea Can Change Humanity Our mission isn’t just about technology; it’s about building a better world and how nonprofits can unlock unprecedented levels of impact when armed with the right tools. The future is not just digital; it’s compassionate, innovative, and, most importantly, inclusive. If you have the next big idea that will change humanity, let’s work together to make it a reality. Additional Resources & Inspiration Tapping Into Human Potential With Technology: Listen to this podcast with pioneer in technology and human transformation, Nichol Bradford. Human Potential Index: Measure how well your products deliver on your mission. TechSoup: Offers donated and discounted technology products to nonprofits. Nonprofit Tech for Good: A resource hub for nonprofit professionals worldwide. Grant Opportunities for Nonprofits Technology: Explore opportunities for nonprofit technology upgrades. IA Commits Case Study: Read the story behind our program for nonprofits, IA Commits.

3 months ago

Client Projects

Cost-Effective App From InspiringApps Sparks Positive Change in Nonprofit Experience Design

The Boulder Watershed Collective is a Colorado nonprofit using apps to advance causes. The small nonprofit has a vital cause: as populations grow, climate changes and forests shift, it’s crucial to preserve the watershed. Beyond mitigation and restoration projects, the nonprofit offers education and engagement to empower environmental stewardship and inspire action.  Giving the community a free, immersive, and informative experience, the Take-a-Hike app was an ambitious project. Let’s explore. Innovation Within Reach Innovation in nonprofit experience design is often out of reach for smaller non-profits, but our design solves that challenge. InspiringApps created a cost-effective mobile app in partnership with Boulder Watershed Collective, offering an immersion into the Boulder trails system never before experienced.  Available for both iOS and Android, the free Take-a-Hike app is a trail guide in your pocket. The user experience is deeply mapped to the mission: concentrate on the natural beauty of Boulder’s trails, but learn about reasons to protect them, too. With InspiringApps’ environmental stewardship app design, users can enjoy hikes internet-free while tracking their progress and learning. Collaboration & Impact True innovation comes from shared collaboration and partnership. Technology decisions can be simplified and streamlined into one cohesive process with shared collaboration. Regarding the app design process, Boulder Watershed Collective shared:  “Thank you and the InspiringApps team for working with us on this and making the idea possible. I am not sure we would even have an app or an app of this quality without you and your team’s awesome work and collaboration.” Experiential Design on a Mission Experiential design goes beyond traditional design practices by considering the entire journey and environment in which the experience occurs. It aims to stimulate multiple senses to create a more immersive and impactful experience. Immersive Experience For nonprofits, digital, experiential design can create a strong impact and elicit positive change. By engaging multiple senses, Take-a-Hike offers an immersive experience that supports local climate innovators through novel ways that foster environmental stewardship. In addition to teaching hikers about their diverse environment, the entire experience educates users on the services and management decisions that aid the wetlands, forests, and mountains.  Interactive Features The app’s design has two key interactive features: a map and an audio narration. As it guides hikers to different learning spots along the trail, the app uses GPS mapping and audio playback from the user’s device to create a natural connection with the outdoors. As a result of the design’s innovations, users can visually learn about points of interest along their hike, and geographically triggered audio segments play at those same points of interest automatically.  Informative & Intuitive Visual Elements Visual elements are both informative and intuitive. When users select and begin a hike in the app, they see a map of their hike and the points of interest or stops along the way. As they hike to each stop, a details screen shows hikers where they are in real-time, info about that point, and the distance to the next stop. Customizable Audio Audio elements offer a high degree of control but a minimum interaction requirement to enhance outdoor experiences.  Users can control the audio from their phone’s notifications panel.  They can turn on an audio narration in the background, so there’s no need to interact with their phones during the hike.  When approaching stops, there is audio to help hikers appreciate their surroundings, followed by silence to enable hikers to use that information while taking in bird calls and mountain views. Sustainable Iterations Through Community Engagement Built in a way that makes adding additional hikes a nominal effort, the app has enabled Boulder Watershed Collective to exponentially grow its education and outreach beyond the small staff’s capacity. Partnering within the community, the team continues to add hikes and expand its reach. Educational Reach After initially releasing the Take-a-Hike app developed by InspiringApps, Boulder Watershed Collective received additional grants. One of those was to work with a school in Lafayette to guide a podcast creation experience with students. Students contributed content that has been integrated into the app. In a testimonial from the teacher, she said:  “The Boulder Watershed Collective took on the impossible. They transformed ninth graders with zero experience into podcasters. With endless patience and spectacular curricular materials, these experts led the students from ideation through a finished product. Along the way, they learned how to ask great questions, create mind maps, collaborate, and use podcasting programs. “At the end of the year, many of these students identified their work creating podcasts with the Boulder Watershed Collective as the most important experience of their academic year.” With the added Spanish translation, the app development experience has enhanced not just one set of learners but many who will follow.  Holistic Approach To Cost-Effective Technology Decisions When creating a nonprofit app, it’s important to take a holistic approach, considering different angles and solutions. Nonprofit organizations seek human-centered designs, but just as in the corporate world, there are also technical and cost aspects to consider.  The metrics for nonprofits differ because the end goal is impact, not profit. To create positive change, nonprofit apps use an innovative mix of: Grant or donor funding Technology Education Community engagement According to Brad Weber, CEO of InspiringApps, that cost difference can become the difference between having an app and not having an app—as many nonprofits know too well: “Our client received project bids that were six figures, which the nonprofit could not afford. With some creative app architecture, we were able to deliver an app for a fraction of that cost, which they were able to fund with government grants.”  A holistic approach addresses a user’s relationship with a mobile product and their user journey from start to finish. The challenge to deliver the innovation needed for the product’s success enabled our team’s creative solutions to come alive—and deliver the immersive experience at a cost that made the project possible. To create cost-effective yet innovative solutions, focus on the core features. Instead of building everything from scratch, explore existing tools, APIs, or software development kits (SDKs) that integrate with your app. This approach can save development time and costs while providing the necessary functionality. Creating Uniquely Valuable Impact InspiringApps is driven by the opportunity to design technical solutions for causes that help our community. Building an app can ensure your organization’s core mission is front, back, and center. Keeping costs down and creating an impactful app is within reach.  InspiringApps has built beautiful and engaging apps for not-for-profit organizations. We are dedicated to helping local organizations and not-for-profit clients bring their web and mobile app ideas to life at an affordable cost. Our goal is to support the growth and prosperity of our community.

4 months ago