When I started Appency four years ago, we were truly breaking ground as the first full service marketing agency dedicated to app developers. As the market exploded, it is no surprise that many more agencies and marketing services have sprung up to help app developers compete in this highly competitive marketplace. Many of our competitors like Appular are great agencies in their own right, and while we are competitors we all know there is plenty of work to go around and many of us even refer business to each other when our plates are full.

The explosion of the market however has had a dark side. Unscrupulous “marketers” (and I use the word loosely) have seized on developers desperate to be competitive or that do not know better (being a good developer is a very different skill set than being a good marketer) and have not only put black hat tactics into the market place (remember Gtekna?) but are often simply deceptive to their potential clients.

Today a member of my account team was emailed by a site called “iGiveaway.us”. We are often approached by other app marketing tools to use their services for our clients. I try to review each potential partner as a way to see if it could be beneficial to help our developers succeed. I went to their site and red flags immediately started showing up. The first was the “package” approach. Purchase package A, B, C, D, and we will do X, Y and Z. I’m sure you have seen these yourself. There are a million types of apps out there in the app store – and each succeeds with different tactics. An in the box approach to app marketing will NEVER work. Still, while inefficient, there is nothing unethical about generic marketing.

That’s where things start to get sketchy. The site starts talking about their Twitter reach like this:

“Every tweet to our network of more than 600,000 followers earns you at least 3,000 retweets; our tweets convert into retweets at a rate of 3-5%. That’s because we’ve got one of the most active networks of retweeters anywhere on Twitter, so your tweet goes viral right away. We can also reach out to our press and media contacts, with branded press releases, and conduct other reputation management efforts. Each retweet reaches an average of 1,000 more people. That’s 6,000,000 more eyes (everyone has two, of course.) on your product. A total of 3,000,000 individuals will see your product sponsorship tweet.”

Wow… that sound impressive right? 3 MILLION individuals will see your product sponsorship tweet! Time to sit back and watch those Apple checks role in.

So while I’m sure they have more than one Twitter account than their @iGiveaway Twitter account which is how they come up with 600,000 followers, its the only one they show off so I went and took a look at their Twitter account. About 125,000 followers on that one – not a bad showing at all for a Twitter account. I wouldn’t mind tweeting to 125k people about my app.

The thing is… there are these great little tools that can check how real your followers are. I happen to like http://fakers.statuspeople.com/ – it allows you to run a check on an account to see how many people on an account are inactive, or simply fake. A quick check of @iGiveaway gives some revealing results:

Percent of Fake Accounts: 75%
Percent of Inactive Accounts: 19%
Percent of Real Accounts: 6%

6%… yup. Out of 125,000 people, it looks like around 7,500 of them might be real.

Now – we all end up with fake followers if we have any sort of auto follow back on, but 75%? @Appency shows up at 2%, while my personal twitter @AppGuyAaron shows up at 3%. Yet people like this claim that you will be seen by millions of new potential users, and charge you good money for it. Frankly, it disgusts me.

They say be careful what you wish for. Well… be careful what you pay for.

Let me know in the comments: Are there any other black hat app services you have seen in the market that deserve public shaming? Let us know!

Apple’s special press event Tuesday was announced a week ago, but many of the aspects of the presentation were already known: iOS 7 will be coming out soon, Apple is offering a cheaper, colorful iPhone, and many iPhone 5S features were familiar to the attending press. This briefing will quickly break down the most important aspects of the presentation. As developers, it’s important to keep in mind that the App Store will be bogged down for a few weeks as other developers push through updates to keep up with the changes for iOS 7.

iOS 7 Release Date
Apple’s brand new operating system will debut to the public on September 18, 2013. iOS 7 is a complete redesign of the look of Apple’s system, trading skeuomorphism for flat designs. The software update adds a Control Center for one-swipe access to media playback controls, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi toggles, brightness controls, redesigned folders, and new features for both Safari and Game Center.

iOS 7 was announced at Apple’s WWDC this summer. Here are some of the key features of iOS 7:
·   Updated design: New, skinnier font, flatter icons, less shine, and more white than grey overall.
·   Control Center: Access this pull up tray by swiping from the bottom (even in lock screen) and adjust brightness and volume as well as wifi, Airplane Mode, rotation lock, Do Not Disturb, and bluetooth. Access a built-in flashlight, camera, calculator, and Safari.
·   Improved multitasking: Third party apps now consume less battery life when they run in the background
·   Safari: Now opens in full screen mode. Tabs are now unlimited and viewable in a scrollable carousel. Search field is now a unified smart search field.
·   AirDrop: Sharesheets are more easily shared, with no NFC required.
·   Camera: Swipe through settings like panorama, HDR, or square.
·   Photos: Photo gallery now organizes photos by day and location, and users can search within them. Apple has its own basic photo filters now, accessible in Edit Photos. Photos can be shared through AirDrop, iCloud, and Photo Streams.
·   Siri: Male and female voices are now available, as well as French and German (with more languages to come). Siri can now be used to adjust settings like Bluetooth. Siri now draws on Twitter, Wikipedia, and Bing.
·   App Store: Users can now search for apps based on their location.
·   Automatic updates: Apps will now automatically update in the background.
·   iTunes Radio: Much like Pandora, users can start a radio station off of songs, artists, or albums that they like, and additional songs will be pulled from the iTunes catalog. The service will be free with ads.
·   Activation lock: Users can now turn off their phone remotely, and the phone will require a user to enter the iCloud password associated with that phone. This will hopefully prevent theft.

iPhone 5C: Color and Plastic
Apple will start offering the iPhone 5C on September 20, 2013. The back of the phone will be made of plastic, available in five colors, instead of glass or aluminum. The screen size is the same as the iPhone 5S (a four-inch 1136×640 display) and, like the iPhone 5S, requires a Lightning connector. Inside the phone is an Apple A6 system-on-a-chip and 1GB of RAM. It has an eight-megapixel camera with a single-LED flash. The 16GB storage model will sell for $99, and the 32GB storage model will sell from $199 (both prices with 2 year contract agreements with carriers). Both phones come with options for dual-band 802.11n and LTE.

iPhone 5S: The “Gold Standard”
The new iPhone, the iPhone 5S, will be available at the same time as the iPhone 5C. The screen is the same four-inch, 1136×640 display as the iPhone 5, with a new Touch ID scanner that will use the home button to scan its owner’s fingerprint, which can then be used as a password. Inside the phone is an A7 chip, reported to be “desktop quality,” boosting the CPU and GPU performance, giving it twice the general-purpose and floating point registers of its predecessor and is up to twice as fast at performing CPU tasks. The phone supports OpenGL ES 3.0, and Apple claims that the graphics performance in the 5S is 56 times better than in the original iPhone released six years ago. Most importantly, the iPhone 5S will have an M7 motion-sensing chip that allows the phone to process data from sensors without waking up the phone itself, with important implications for gaming. The camera gets an upgrade as well, with a five-element lens at an f2.2 aperture and a 15 percent larger sensor.

What This Means for Developers
Much of what we knew would change for developers was mentioned during the WWDC iOS7 announcement: the free flashlight, for example, will push some fo the most popular apps off the store and filtering from inside the native camera app will force the major camera app developers to offer new and exciting features to entice users.

The changes present from the new presentation, however, were two-fold:
1. Full iWorks Suite going free: having apps built by Apple for it’s mobile devices for free is going to make other productivity and business apps much harder to gain traction, as these will most likely dominate the charts.  Pages, for example, was one of the higher price points in the store at $9.99 and other competitive apps priced themselves accordingly.  Now, why would users pay around $10 for an app when a full featured competitor is entirely free?
2. The M7 and CoreMotion API’s offer exciting new possibilities not just to health and fitness apps, but to mobile games as well.  Zombies, Run is just one example of a game that already uses the your movement to propel you across both a real and gaming world – the ability to track information while the phone is in sleep mode should also provide increased battery performance for simultaneously running the CoreMotion and gaming apps.

Innovative gravitational search gives immediate access to related information, creating the email app for the next decade.

Bellevue, WA, September 12, 2013 – Tipbit, the company that is revolutionizing email, announced today the launch of its smart mailbox app exclusively for iPhone and iPod touch. Tipbit boosts on-the-go productivity with smart mobile email that gives users what they need to respond now: immediate access to related information. By employing an innovative gravitational search technology, Tipbit creates rich, instant connections between email messages and related people, meetings and data.

“Email is the first app you check in the morning and the last app you view before going to bed. It’s the lifeblood of business,” said Gordon Mangione, Tipbit founder and CEO. “Today, more email is opened on mobile devices than on desktops, yet we are still stuck in the ‘read and respond later at our desk’ paradigm. With our unique approach to context and gravitational search which lets us know and respond now, Tipbit is the email app for the next decade.”

Tipbit is more than just a new mail app; it’s a smart inbox poised to disrupt the mobile email space. Tipbit combines gravitational search and a new user experience to create contextual intelligence that automatically connects messages with related content. From within Tipbit, the user can access background info from previous emails, related documents from the user’s personal cloud, people profiles from social networks and even web search. Users simply tap or swipe for insights, decisions and action. Tipbit’s rich context gives users the power to reply quickly and efficiently to email, rather than waiting until they’re back at a desktop machine.

Tipbit is designed for busy people on the go and supports the broadest range of email services. The app includes support for ActiveSync for Exchange and IMAP services such as Gmail and Yahoo. The Tipbit app is available for free from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at http://itunes.apple.com/app/id685038041 .

Tipbit is the 2013 winner of the SxSW V2Venture competition in the mobile and table technologies category. For more information please visit https://www.tipbit.com and follow Tipbit on Facebook and Twitter.

Tipbit's smarter email system is now available for download from the iTunes App Store

 

Internships: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are something I consider essential in the professional development of a young college student such as myself. Spending four years in a classroom learning definitions and writing essays is helpful, and it’s a great way to be introduced to what you will allegedly be doing in the real world, but it’s internships that really throw you into that “real world.”

My summer internship for Appency was amazing. I’m not just saying that to suck up, either – it was truly one of the best and most beneficial experiences I’ve had in my life. Actually coming in at 9 in the morning, sitting down at a desk, and working until 5 in the evening showed me the world of a full-time job. I realized that student life is very different, in both good and bad ways.

Being thrown research projects (some with extremely urgent deadlines), asked questions at accounts meetings, and managing clients are all in a days work for the full-time employees at Appency. As an intern, I helped with all of those projects. Instead of reading a chapter on press releases out of a textbook, I was writing them. Instead of being lectured on theories of press relations, I was tracking down journalists to pitch.

May through the end of August: That was the length of my summer internship with Appency. In those four months, I can honestly say I learned more about my major than I did in the past four years of classes and homework. At the end of of those four months, I’m more prepared and more excited for a career in public relations than I was before.

Troy Petrunoff is graduating from CSUS and looking forward to a career in public relations after years of involvement in PRSSA, Pi Kappa Phi, and work as a campus tour guide.