The Top 10 Features Your Mobile App Should Have

It’s impossible to ignore the trend towards mobile content consumption. Smartphone penetration in Australia is now at 52% (http://mumbrella.com.au/australian-mobile-users-more-sophisticated-than-us-or-uk-counterparts-says-google-australia-92082) and the average Australian has 25 apps on their phone (8 of which are paid – http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/mobiles/australias-white-hot-smartphone-revolution-20110908-1jz3k.html).

So how does this impact on your business? Is it time for you to start considering your business mobile strategy?

In this article I’ve looked into the top 10 features your mobile app should have. You might be surprised by how tapping into some of your phone’s lesser known capabilities can start to develop new connections with your customers.

Here is my top 10 list of (basic and not-so-basic) features that could change the way your mobile app can work for you.

1. Push Notifications

send messages to your customers. This is one of the most basic of features, and one of the most essential for any mobile app. They are easier to send than email, as they don’t end up in spam. They can contain full graphics and are a great way to reach out to customers with deals & reminders straight to their smartphones. This year I was able to enjoy the London Olympics 2012 mobile app, which allowed me to select my favourite sports, countries and athletes, and receive push notifications/reminders for specific games in local time- so I wouldn’t miss that very important game.

2. Location-based messaging

is basically the combining of place data and user behaviour that creates smart targeting to users. New developments from Urban Airship now allow mobile app developers to better tailor messages to users- from data stored about their whereabouts in the last-minute or even the last year. More simply that means that some of my favourite apps will be able to send me push notifications that there is now a special deal at my favourite restaurant tonight, or if I’m attending a basketball game the local team’s app can push a special deal to me while I’m at the game.

Here is an example of the London 2012 app using these push notifications & location-based messages.

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3. Augmented Reality

is probably one of the most interesting and dynamic features I’ve seen in a mobile app. It’s pretty simple, this feature goes beyond the realms of reality and provides the user with something different, exciting and extremely interactive. Whilst there are many apps that use this feature for fun, there are definitely more practical ways this feature can be utilised too.

The SnapShop Showroom is an app which lets you try out furniture in your home without having to move anything around!

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4. Google Indoor-Maps

is a relatively new feature, and is not yet available in Australia. However the concept is wonderfully convenient. In my own travelling adventures, I’ve found myself lost in shopping centres and airports time and time again. Most of these places do in fact have mobile apps, so having an indoor map would be fantastic. Users can find the closest restrooms, coffee shop or favourite store in seconds, at their fingertips. I found a nifty YouTube ad that sums some of benefits of this feature.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DdEjaJHRyA&feature=relmfu

5. Mobile Payment

this feature to me is evidence of just how far technology has come in my lifetime. I know there are still some people who would never think of paying for anything via their mobile (my mother for example) but with a mobile payment transaction value estimated to surpass $171.5 billion this year, a 61.9 precent up from 2011’s $105.9 billion, the evidence is clear. And with the introduction of the Google Wallet, mobile payment technology is set to keep on growing.

“There are virtually no limits to what consumers are using their phones to purchase”

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You can see more on mobile payment features and benefits here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z46KzHOgmM

6. Social Integration

is really a necessary feature for any digital technology. However, depending on the nature of your business it might be just be a concept at this stage. But most of Gen Y will “share” anything they feel passionate about or loyal to. So if your brand has a need for a mobile app, it has a need for social integration. Social sharing is a great way to drive user engagement, and word-of-mouth endorsements of your users to their friends, family and business contacts- all for free.

7. Geo-location and Maps Integration

simply put, geo-location apps report your locations to other users (Facebook check-ins, Foursquare etc.) and they associate real-world locations (like restaurants and events) to your current location. One of my favourite apps that utilises this feature is “Yelp”, which allows me to search for the closest restaurant, coffee & bar, gas & service station, drugstore and more, based on my current location. The “Yelp” site also allows users to review, check-in and share this info- utilising most of the other features I’ve just mentioned. A mobile app that can make anyone’s life more convenient- is in my opinion serving its very purpose.

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8. One click contacting

is probably one of the most important features for a mobile app- let’s remember it is a mobile, its original purpose being to make phone calls. SO, that being said, any business should have one click contacting. It’s a simple button within your app that directs the user to call the business with one click. A Google Mobile Movement Study shows “61% of mobile users call after a local business search”. So this feature will conveniently connect consumers with a business, when they’re on the go. According to mobile ad network xAd (Q4, 2011), 52 percent of people who click on search ads go on to call the advertiser.

9. QR/Barcode Scanner Integration

is also another feature that really showcases how dynamic mobile technology is today. QR which stands for Quick Response allows a user to point their smartphone at the square barcode and access a range of different information. You may have noticed the square barcodes popping up more and more in shop-fronts and in magazines, just to mention a few. The QR code connects offline and online marketing- allowing users to access online coupons, company website and contact info, among other things. It allows for an instant response from advertising- you don’t have to remember a phone number or website now with the QR code technology. They’re even being added into some business cards.

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10. GPS Coupons

is a great way to get customers interacting with your app, by offering an incentive. Check-in’s allow the business to gather data, and better connect with the consumer, whilst allowing consumers to ‘unlock’ special deals/coupons. Lately Hungry Jack’s iPhone app offers on-the-spot discounts. I would gladly “check-in” on an app or Facebook page to score a freebie!

Hungry Jacks iPhone App

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So how does this impact on your business? Is it time for you to start considering your business mobile strategy?