Apps

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Prohibition launch world’s first dream recorder for Sealy UK (sort of)

Ever wondered what it would be like if you could record your dreams?

That’s exactly what we did with our new client, the leading bed manufacturer, Sealy, with what is sure to become the must-have gadget of the year: a piece of wearable technology that records and plays back a user’s dreams in the morning.

Launching on April 1st (can you see where we’re going with this?), the Sealy Neuro-Corder™, is thought to be a world-first, and operates through a unique biosensor headband that tracks a user’s brain signals while they sleep, before transmitting them via Bluetooth to a special smartphone app.

Users are then able to scroll through their dreams when they wake up – which are reimagined as detailed colour images – with the option to post their favourites to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. While Neuro-corder™ is currently limited to static images, developments are in place that will see user’s dreams replicated in high definition video, later in the year.

On phoneThe app will be equipped with special security settings to ensure ‘inappropriate’ dreams or those containing sexually explicit content are not accidently viewed by partners or family members.

Neuro-Corder™ will not be made available as a stand-alone product, but instead will be included with all Sealy Posturepedic Hybrid beds.

Sure, it’s an April Fool’s stunt, but it secured more than 15 pieces of media coverage including national, trade and regional press.

 

Are Snapchat priming their service for advertising with live stories?

Snapchat is becoming big news. Despite being only three years old, the popular ephemeral photo-sharing app has taken off in a big way, and has already rebuffed a lucrative take-over bid from Facebook, seen its user numbers rocket and has now been valued at over $10 billion.

SnapchatLogoWhilst many see the Snapchat service as something for the younger generations (46% of teens in the UK use the app), the service does hold an impressive market standing within the general population of the UK, with almost eight million users.

Despite the clear and growing success of the ‘dancing ghost’ app, at face value, Snapchat doesn’t seem like a particularly viable commercial model.

In the ever competitive app market, companies who boast a unique offering can’t afford to stand still and stagnate. Since launching in 2011, the app has seen regular updates, implementing a number of new features. From the 2013 introduction of ‘stories’, which are available to view for 24 hours, to the more recent implementation of a chat and ‘live video feed’ feature. It’s this constant progression from Snapchat that results in competitors, of which there have been a few (Bolt, Slingshot), being unable to catch up.

Snapchat-Our-StoryHowever, it’s their most recent creation, ‘Live Stories’, which will arguably carry the most importance to the app going forward. To those unaware of this latest progression, ‘Live Stories’ commenced at the 2014 World Cup Final. The new function allows people within the proximity of an event to upload photos and videos to their story (as usual), however these stories are then broadcasted around the world, to all users, under the guise of the live event feed. For the World Cup Final, the feed of videos documented the build up, match and post game activities at the Maracana in Rio de Janiero,  with highlights including Lionel Messi being filmed walk within yards of fans at the stadium.

Since the initial launch of the feature, Snapchat has rolled out the service at a much higher frequency, with live chronicling of New York’s Electric Zoo music festival, the launch of the 2014 college football season for the Oregon Ducks, New York Fashion week and, most importantly, the Apple launch conference from Cupertino, California.

It’s this most recent use of the ‘live’ function which may see Snapchat finally take steps towards commercialising the service for revenue. Whilst the Cupertino Live feed didn’t seem overly advertising led or Apple driven, the service could easily be utilised in the future for advertising, especially around events.

Whilst for the time being, it appears that Snapchat’s live function is simply being used as yet another quirky addition to the ephemeral photo sharing app; with big money backers now behind the project, it will be interesting to see how long it will be before the ‘fun’ social network makes serious moves in order to start bringing in sizeable revenue.

Launching “housemate speed dating”

Housemate Speed DatingHow do you make an estate agent relevant and appealing to the notoriously fickle student market? That was the brief Parklane Properties set Prohibition, and we relished the challenge. 

We responded with a programme of creative executions spanning traditional PR and social media channels, aimed at engaging with the student audience in a meaningful way, while ensuring we directly drive signups and footfall. One key campaign tackled the age-old challenge of finding compatible housemates, with the launch of “housemate speed dating” a series of events that put a new twist on the tried-and-tested matchmaking activity.

Housemate speed dating was aimed not only at those students who were new to Leeds and seeking accommodation for the first time, but also at those moving from halls or looking to establish new friendship groups.

The mechanism was simple; students were able to scope out potential ‘roomies’, or several housemates for a house share, by taking place in a series of timed ‘dates’, as well as games and activities aimed at assessing compatibility, for example, attitudes towards tidying. Along with the ‘speed dating’, students also had the opportunity to find out more about Parklane’s portfolio of student properties – crucially, helping drive new signups.

Is the role of the traditional journalist dead? The new Guardian App asks the public “Do you have a story or a tip-off for us?”

From the past two years I have spent studying PR, I have noticed more than ever the increase of organisations using online platforms to do their jobs and speak with their friends.

The development of new technology has meant that we can practically do anything with an iPhone or Android mobile. Mobile network EE has brought us 4G and, if you are not aware, 4G is now five times faster than 3G, which means you can tweet or watch movies from practically anywhere if you want to.

Now, going hand-in-hand with the development of 4G by EE, I have noticed that The Guardian has started the new era in terms of journalism – ‘crowd sourcing’. By downloading the GuardianWitness app on your smartphone, you can now be given the role of a freelance journalist. With your account, you have the chance to contribute to live news stories and browse through other GuardianWitness users uploads. guardian app

Of course, there is a team working behind it, content is moderated before it is uploaded, which makes the platform more exclusive and perhaps a little more credible. The best stories are then selected and submitted onto the Guardian News website.

By creating “Assignments” listed on the app, it lets the user choose the subject they may be interested in and upload a picture or video, and a suitable caption. All of the assignments are focused on varied subjects; the most controversial and hard hitting at the moment has got to be “The cuts get personal” which features one or the users change jar, with the caption “Once offered to charity, now to make ends meet, the change jar is emptied to pay for groceries.”

Finally, we are on to the “Send us a story section”, which asks “Do you have a story or a tip-off for us?” The publication’s intention for this app has now become questionable. Is this just an easy option to getting to the story first? Or is it just an online community for budding journalists to share their experiences and hopefully see their name on its website? In my opinion, it is a bit of both and personally I can’t wait to upload a picture which suits to a subject I find interesting.

Since the launch in mid-April, GuardianWitness accounts are growing rapidly. Overall, it is a great new way to interact with news and growing media sources to find out what’s happening fast in a visual way.

This was a guest post from Holly Guest.

TWEET FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE WITH LivesOn TWITTER APP:

Communicating with your loved ones from beyond the grave has always been a task left to the mediums and Derek Accoras of our day, but now the creepy séances, flickering candles and moving objects are a thing of the past. As long as the dead had Twitter, they can stay alive via a new Twitter app, LivesOn by favouriting tweets and posting links to topics they once liked. Your loved and lost can truly stay alive through the power of social media, but is this revolutionary or just down right creepy?

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It’s evident that this app will most definitely divide peoples’ opinion on whether it is morally acceptable to keep the dead alive via twitter. However, for some it might be a new and incredible way to keep their lost ones a little closer to them after they have gone. LivesOn acts in a different way to how Dead Social, another post death tweeting service works, by not having you schedule your tweets before you pass away. During your time using Twitter when you are still amongst the living, LivesOn analyses your online Twitter behaviour to then select tweets once you’ve passed and share links with your followers online.

Developed by London based ad agency, Lean Mean Fighting Machine, one of the creative partners, Dave Bedwood spoke out to the Guardian saying, It offends some, and delights others. Imagine if people started to see it as a legitimate but small way to live on. Cryogenics costs a fortune; this is free and I’d bet it will work better than a frozen head.”

As a big Twitter user myself it almost seems palpable that I live on in a world I seem to spend so much time in. Although if I’m truly honest, I’m not really too sure if anyone would even notice my ghost tweets haunting the online social world, with all the social traffic, I’m pretty sure I would go un-noticed. But is this really a way for us to enhance our memories and extend our relationships even when we’re gone, and do we need to keep the relationships going when we’re not around? I personally don’t believe apps like these are adding value to our lives, the memories of who we were, left with the people we love, outside a networking bubble is what truly keeps us alive after we’ve gone.

To me, it does seem quite creepy and a little insensitive to the ones we leave behind, however is this just the evolution of social media? If so, what is to come next, can it get much more invasive, unique or crazy? I am intrigued to find out what lies ahead in the future of social media, it will inevitably get even more extreme in some way shape or form.

With life becoming more digital than ever before, apps such as LivesOn and DeadSocial seem to be the same as leaving letters behind for your loved ones, but just more interactive. As long as you believe your family and friends can deal with the impact of ghost tweeting then I would say go right ahead and truly discover the power of social media.

One question I do have is when does it actually know you have died and could it then re-tweet messages from my funeral as that is very strange and just plain wrong? I think I will leave it for now because it all just feels a bit too insensitive to me and I don’t want to go jinxing myself.

Facebook launches voice calls and voicemail but why?

Facebook has updated its features for iOS and Android apps with an additional option that allows users to call people and to record and send voicemails.

Facebook will be testing the VoIP service in the coming weeks. However, at the moment the VoIP service is only available for Canadian users and in the forthcoming weeks its users across the globe will have the option and ability to use this service, which allows them to make phone calls using their own phone data plan, rather than their voice minutes. Facebook claimed that “If you have more to say, send a brief voice message”.

Nowadays, checking your own voicemail is often considered to be a bigger chore than actually recording and sending a voice message so I’m curious as to why Facebook has decided to add this feature, when to be honest there is a real decline in the patience of creating and sending a voice message and an increase in the sending of texting, sharing, updating and of course emailing.

To some extent there are several reasons for using this method of communication that text, emails and photos can’t conform with and Facebook have seized this opportunity. It allows users while driving to record a voice message hands-free therefore still complying with the law, sometimes it’s easy to explain instructions, a complicated set of driving directions or a four page text with voicemail rather than a text and for students or young people looking for employment its probably more professional to leave a voice message rather than sending a text to an employer, professor or organisation if a call was not answered.

Once you have updated your app, to activate the voice messaging feature click the compose button, then begin tapping the “+” button to the left of the message body. A “record” option will then appear in which you should press and hold, then talk and record a message up to one-minute in length, then release to send.

People without data plans now have the ability to use the Facebook messaging app rather using a middle man app such as Whatsapp. I do believe it will take time for voicemail to become another Facebook norm, just like text and email, but this addition to messenger does make it a more enhanced mobile app. Facebook has gone back in time to make voice messaging a more update or modern standard of communication, rather than replacing the other existing methods of conversation or creating an entirely whole new form of conversing.

“No man is an island” however due to the new VoIP test not being built on the prevailing partnership between Facebook and Skype, (which for a short-lived time made a limited test of voice calling on Facebook’s desktop site back in 2011), implies there may be bitter relationship between Facebook and Skype’s owner Microsoft which powers Bing search integration and displays adverts on Facebook.

Due to Facebook integrating this feature into their messaging, it coFacebook Mobileuld possibly increase the popularity of Voicemail, not only in recording an important message, people may use it to record sounds, music, or part of a show, concert or a gig, or even a speech. Facebook may have modernised the art of voicemail, by offering a variety of things that you could say or record with voicemail.

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with more than one billion monthly active users. With its Voice messaging and VoIP service we could see Facebook taking on the calling app. With the rate in which it is enhancing its features, in the years to come it could even cause smartphones or telephones in general to become completelty obsolete.

What do you think about Facebook adding the Voicemail feature? Let me know in the comments.

 

The ‘Color’ of money – New social apps could struggle

It was sometime in 2007 that I first began hearing my friends and colleagues talking a new website called ‘Facebook’. I didn’t get it. Oh, I got the basic principle – that you could post photos of yourself and share details of your latest escapades and musings with friends near and far. What I didn’t get was why you’d want to. I said to the Facebook users around me: “If you want to have a presence on the web, why not just start a website, or write a blog?”, and they looked confused and slightly baffled, as though they hadn’t thought of that.

But of course, they were right and I was wrong. What I initially failed to grasp was the social nature of Facebook and its predecessors. If you set up a Facebook profile, you are, of course, not just creating a presence on the web, you are linking yourself to everyone in your friends list, all of whom have full, real-time access to everything you post. Such distinctions seem obvious these days, now that the concept of social networking has crept into so many corners of our interconnected, internet-saturated lives. But just four years ago, they were rather less obvious – to me at least!

Back here in 2011, Twitter and Facebook have become the twin pillars of the social media landscape and it is hard to escape links and connections to either network on news media and content sharing sites across the Web.

But the Internet never stands still and over the last year or two, the field of social networking has begun to evolve away from the desktop in ways that reflect the rise of mobile computing and the exponential growth of the smartphone market. In 2009 we saw the wobbly rise of location-based social network foursquare, which takes full advantage of the GPS chip embedded in many modern smartphones. And now an even newer wave of social networking services are focused on their cameras.

Last year the world was introduced to Path, a app-centred social network based around the idea of sharing photos from your daily life with your ‘50 closest’ friends and family, in contrast to supposed sprawl of Facebook. (But does anyone out there really have 50 “close” friends and family?)

Meanwhile, Instagram, for the iPhone, is, and I quote, “a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures.” It sounds like fun, but you do have to look closely to see much of a difference between it and Path.Color Screengrab

And now comes yet another iPhone app for sharing your smartphone snaps with the world: Color, recently launched with the help of a hefty $41 million in venture capital funding. Does Color bring anything new to the photo-sharing party? Users can tag their photos with location data and browse the photos of people in their current vicinity. In other words – it’s Instagram meets foursquare.

Clearly the venture capitalists who have backed these concepts with hard cash think they have a future – and perhaps they are just months from becoming all the rage. Smartphones with embedded GPS chips and decent cameras are, after all, no longer expensive novelties confined to the well-off.

But until significant numbers of people start to use these apps and post their photos, Color et al. will struggle. I have several friends who simply cannot grasp the concept of Twitter, now second only to Facebook in mainstream appeal. How many of them use Path? Precisely none – there was little point in installing the app on my phone! I know a handful of people who occasionally dabble with foursquare, and even fewer who use Instagram.

A recent update to Path added several new Facebook sharing options. You can now tag Facebook friends featured in your Path photos, publish your Path snapshots to your Facebook wall and privately share them with – your guessed it – your Facebook friends. No doubt the developers felt that such compromises were necessary to broaden Path’s appeal, but the danger is clear. If people start to use Path as a mere add-on to Facebook, any chance it has of establishing a distinct identity will start to crumble.