The Trends of Top 5 Apps

The sheer abundance of applications vying for attention and selection on the App Store and Google Play is enough to make the aspiring app developer keel over in horror at the prospect of attempting to make it big in such a massive, and often unforgiving, market. Yet, a quick scaling of the top 5 most popular free apps on both iOS and Android-served devices reveals that there are many trends within the market’s most downloaded.

Currently perched proudly atop the App Store’s free-to-download list is Bitstrips. Garnering its frantic popularity from its affiliation with Facebook, this comic book-influenced application allows users to create their own detailed avatar (as well as those of their friends and loved ones) and place these characters in mundane or zany cartoon landscapes, accompanied by a humorous caption. The outrage that these harmless images have received from miserly internet commentators has done nothing to dent Bitstrips’ runaway success. Bitstrips’ social media credentials when coupled with its simple blend of wit, social interaction and accessibility has allowed its developers to target a wide, and ever-expanding, audience.

The third-highest shifting free app on iOS appears to have elevated simplicity to a higher art form. Its minimalism is reflected in its every detail, most notably in its elementary name, Dots: A Game About Connecting. Setting its user the simple challenge of joining as many matching coloured dots as possible in fewer than 60 seconds, the rudimentary content of the app does not undermine its enjoyability but merely enhances it. A variation on the Candy Crush, Bubble Witch and Bejewelled formula that tests its users’ skill, composure and speed in completing an easy task over a short time period, Dots is once again proving that developers should be going back to basics to produce a game that is as addictive, accessible and in the words of its creators, ‘easy and fun to play but difficult to master’, as this one. As would be expected from such a game, this title subscribes to the Freemium model, and offers users the option to purchase add-ons to help them achieve higher scores and optimise their gaming experience.

Also operating to devastating effect on the App Store’s free chart is the official Dunkin’ Donuts App. Demonstrating the awesome repercussions that investing in mobile technology can have for an already world-renowned and flourishing brand, with this app, the American snack giants have added another string to their well-defined marketing bow. Pushing exclusive offers directly to the palms of those in possession of the app, providing a useful store locator and encouraging owners to send a virtual gift card to a hungry friend, the app has proven to be a sumptuous way of increasingly Dunkin’ Donuts’ revenue, consumership and consumption by exploiting the Smartphone as a revolutionary marketing channel, granting their advertising department immediate contact with the consciousnesses (and rumbling stomachs) of their clientele.

Bringing up the rear and occupying fifth place in the race (well, sort of, as the other four are noted for their ubiquity) to be crowned most popular free app on Google Play this week is the rather colourful title, Jelly Splash. Following the example of Dots, Wooga’s hit game is all about connecting objects, this time substituting the former’s coloured dots for fluorescent jelly shapes. True, the game bears more than a passing resemblance to King’s aforementioned money magnet (Candy…) but its theme of connection cleverly mirrors how social interaction and social networks drives the success of apps such as these.

In a virtual world where people are obsessed with sharing their every activity (see Bitstrips) with others and who are not content until they have rocketed to the top of a particular game’s leader board, Jelly Splash’s themes reveal that the key to an app’s popularity is simple: it’s all about connection. Its Facebook-generated leader board encourages the inviting of friends, the challenging of loathed ones and facilitates the endless bragging that clogs up News Feeds across the globe in notifications that appear something like this: “I’m on Level 73 of Jelly Splash, have you got the nerve to outdo me or are you as shaky as the eponymous foodstuff?” This app owes all of its success to people relishing interaction, conversation and competition, the same elements that drive addicted players to throw money at supplementary and (at-first) small in-app purchases to progress more quickly through the game than every body else.

Although Dots and Jelly Splash may be harbingers of an army of Candy Crush Clones set to flood the market, their success proves that players can just not get enough of matching colours and beating the clock. And anyway, isn’t Candy Crush just Tetris with sweets?

Google’s four remaining top-shifters merely underline the previous point, with the irrepressible Facebook followed by WhatsApp, Skype and Ebay in the rest of the chart. All of these apps promote social interaction and connectivity, with Skype encouraging face-to-face video conversation across the web and Ebay cementing its place as the pre-eminent virtual one-stop shop where the savvy consumer can nab a bargain. It is increasingly apparent that applications are no longer the exclusive province of fantasy worlds and escapist games but have many real-world (excuse the pun) applications. Linking your app to social media (both physically and thematically) is the way to ensure of healthy downloads and consumer recognition. The world may have migrated online but the human impulses for connection and competition remain, albeit in a more virtual vein.

Visit The Gallery Today!

Catering for the customer and developer in equal measure, the internationally-renowned iPhone Apps Gallery is the website of choice for application lovers everywhere. Boasting a substantial catalogue of applications, elegantly divided into categories such as ‘Sports’, ‘Social Networking’ and ‘Entertainment’, the site’s wealth of knowledgeable and tech-savvy writers review and rate the latest mobile releases on iOS in order to help the average consumer make an informed choice in picking the app that is most suited to their needs.

Working in a similar manner to film and music aggregation sites such as Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic, the App Gallery’s concise, cogent and informative reviews assist the casual phone owner in navigating an often confusing, intimidating and grossly over-saturated App Store. Reinforcing their investment in the happiness of the consumer, the Gallery additonally provides visitors with a seemingly endless list of free apps to download and explore, a genuine tool for optimising the mobile phone activity of the typical user.

Yet, iPhone Apps Gallery also bridges the often gaping gap between the consumer and developer. Offering independent developers a platform to showcase their latest wares, the website is curated by a diverse palette of writers who utilise engaging, colourful and arresting copy (or allows developers to add their own app descriptions) to raise awareness of a brand amongst their site visitors. Both developer and user can be assured of a fair and trustworthy assessment of each and every app on a website whose impressive collection of app reviews puts contentment and satisfaction in your hands.

The Innovators of Appsworld

Appsworld, the leading multi platform developer’s event, is now in it’s fourth year. On the 22nd and 23rd of October, the event will host luminaries of the industry, such as Steve Wozniak, the co founder of Apple, and Trip Hawkins, the founder of EA. It promises to be an essential gathering for experienced and new developers alike, where knowledge can be shared and new software demonstrated.

It would be expected that most of the attendees would be games developers, looking to make the next big smartphone game. However, reading through the speakers list brings up some surprising companies. Why are asos, the clothing website, there? Or McDonalds? Or Tesco? This shows that these are companies who are using app technology in new and exciting ways. Just how is the technology being used now by this year’s speakers? (All apps mentioned are linked by company name).

Food apps

Several fast food companies, such as McDonalds, Starbucks, and Subway, are increasingly using app technology to interact with their customers. McDonald’s use the app to deliver nutritional information about their menu and information about their locations, but also for more direct communication with the user. They are currently running a competition via the app for users to win a free iced frappe when they upload their very own advert.

The Starbucks app, on the other hand, actually acts as a digital stand in for the Starbucks Card. Using this, customers can transfer funds to the card, pay for their goods and automatically log ‘Stars’ in their rewards system. Doing so creates a ‘one stop shop’ for Starbucks customers.

TV apps

The TV apps represented at Appsworld all offer services allowing users to watch their programming on demand, which is a huge step forward in the technology and the way we watch TV. The BBC iPlayer app is one of several services the BBC offer, alongside their News and Weather apps.

However, other players are taking the technology one step further. Sky offer a Sky+ app, allowing Sky users to remotely manage their recorded shows on their phone, as well as wifi app that allows users to use their service on the go, and their own betting app. ITV offer a unique service, where several of their own shows, such as Britain’s Got Talent, The Cube, and The Only Way is Essex have their own dedicated apps. These are a new way of getting viewers involved with their shows, and an interesting use of the technology.

Shopping apps

There are a plethora of stores that are now embracing app technology as another marketplace for their wares. asos, Argos and Tesco all have apps allowing their customers to shop their phone, with Tesco also developing the technology to allow customers to use the phone as a Clubcard, in much the same way as Starbucks are doing. However, The North Face have taken advantage of the technology to create Snow Report. This app is designed with ski enthusiasts in mind, telling them where the best ‘powder’ is, and updating them on the resorts with the best current conditions.

Entertainment apps

The advances in entertainment that have been made in app technology are simply too numerous to describe, but there are two interesting examples on the Appsworld speakers list. The first is Shazam, an app that ‘listens’ to any music that the user holds their phone up to, telling the track name and artist. It also allows them to buy the track directly from the app. This is a prime example of the technology solving a problem we didn’t even know we had.

The second is Disney. They have several apps and games, mostly related to their cinema releases (although they were the company behind the hit game Where’s My Water?). They are now experimenting with the technology to create ‘Second Screen’ screenings of their classic films, allowing viewers to interact with each other and play games and quizzes as they watch.

There’s plenty of exciting things happening in the app development field, as this by no means exhaustive list proves. Anyone attending Appsworld will surely come away with hundreds of ideas as to where to take the technology next,.

Dojit Games will be in attendance at Appsworld this year, so if you see us please come and say hi! We’ve been working on our own technology, Dojit Notify, which will help developers use push notification technology more effectively to really connect with their users. See you there!

The Growing Intelligence of Apps

If the invention of Apple and Android’s ‘automated personal assistants’ (the respective iBeacon and Google Now) and the burgeoning usage of push technology (see Dojit-notify) are anything to go by, we really are, as a recent Urban Airship report suggests, ‘moving into an age of hyper-personalised media.’ Whilst this revelation may be influencing some wayward developers to produce questionable and controversial applications, such as this highly offensive application which gratifies the basest of human urges and normalises the sexualisation of women, for the most part apps are being created that improve the day-to-day lives of the every person. As mobile technology is now capable of tracking user location to a precise degree and building an intimate profile of how, and why, an individual uses their smartphone, ultra-intelligent applications are staking an impressive claim in both the marketplace and our personal app libraries.

From helping smartphone users bolster their music database or genuinely offering a service that can save lives, featured below is a short list of the market’s most useful applications:


Heard

Released in conjunction with iOS7, this is the app that lifts the iPhone to even greater heights. What can you add to a phone that already has everything? Well, the ability to reverse time, of course! Despite a distinct lack of the fabled flux capacitor (although if anyone could successfully deploy this technology, I’m sure it’d be Apple), this radical ‘time machine’ feature allows users to recapture the past and record moments that would otherwise be confined to the ever unreliable province of human memory. Running the app’s recording function in the background during a family meal or party, without causing major harm to your phone’s battery, ensures that life’s defining moments can be captured at the tap of a button, with the app recording in five minute gaps and giving users the chance to rewind, find and store memorable words in an easy way.

Circle of 6

A product of Tech 4 Good Inc, a start-up founded with the aim of reducing and combating social violence (sexual or otherwise) through mobile technology, Circle of 6 is a reliable and accessible application that ensures of the safety of its users on a night out. Based on the premise of inputting the contact details of a ‘circle of 6’ friends into the app, this innovation sends coded messages to the user’s trusted network to inform them that the sender may be in trouble or danger. The ‘Car Icon’ makes use of the aforementioned location technology, utilising GPS to find a user’s whereabouts, backed with the message “Come and get me, I need help getting home safely.” A second icon, ‘Call Me’, prompts one of the circle to ‘interrupt’ a situation that may have become awkward or uncomfortable and provide a friend in need with a reassuring line of communication. Easy to use and an important tool for people on dates or alone in an unknown place; Circle of 6 prioritises user safety and security by maintaining a constant connection to their friends and families.

Flipboard

In a world saturated with media, 24-7 news channels, websites and traditional newspapers, it can be hard to find and absorb the stories that matter to us the most. Perhaps influenced by the Independent’s concise publication, the i newspaper, Flipboard offers its subscribers an aggregation of the day’s most important events, and includes an option to customise the topics and categories covered. Highly functional and possessing refined graphics, this iOS-exclusive tool lets you ‘flip’ through your own personalised newspaper and engage with the topics that are most important to you.

Soundwave

The era of the mix tape may be dead (doubtlessly soon to be followed by the humble pencil that was once required to wind its content back inside) but Soundwave is putting sharing and recommendation back into music. Soundwave is a savvy system that collects the music listened to by your friends on social media sites, which succeeds in generating a dexterous and diverse new library for your ears to explore. Yet, it is certainly the ‘music map’ tool that is the most exciting feature of this new app. Drawing a circle around a map of your current location (whether city, street or building), this intelligent service will formulate a playlist informed by the music that is being listened to in the surrounding area. Therefore, not only does this app provide users with an abundance of new listening material gleaned from both strangers and friends but will accurately capture the feeling and vibe of an area, shining a light of the type of people who populate it.

The Ping

Developed by the Kenyan Ushahidi, a small group who made use of interactive mapping to track areas of violence and promote peace in the wake of their country’s 2008 election results, the Ping functions in a similar manner to Circle of Six. Directly inspired by the recent terror attack that took place in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, this app allows its users to create a list of valuable contacts, including family, friends and lovers (to which each of these people add the details of another person) to ensure that everyone can be reached in the event of an emergency. If an act of terrorism or a natural disaster occurs, the app can be set up to contact all members of the list and await a response. Once a reply has been received, that person is marked as ‘safe’ and their relatives can rest easily. This is the sort of technology that would have reduced some of the trauma and anxiety of people waiting to hear news from their loved ones after high-profile atrocities such as 9/11 or the London bombings. Ushahidi is dedicated to utilising mobile technology to save lives and encourage safety, creating applications that expose the truth and make the world a better place.

It seems that applications no longer solely exist for play but for pragmatism and practicality, a hyper-sensitive technological phenomenon that adapts to the needs and well-being of its owner. Mobile phone applications have now become extremely useful to us as individuals and are invaluable assets to the modern world.

Chicken Strike Game: Out Now!

Dojit’s new game, Chicken Strike Game, is now available on iOS and Android!

Mr Farmer’s farm is in danger, and it’s up to you to save it! The chickens have gone on strike, and just to add insult to injury, are now throwing all their precious eggs out of the barn window! Using the tilt controls on your phone or tablet, direct Mr Farmer left and right to grab the eggs in his basket and save the farm.

Special power up assist Mr Farmer in his quest. There are fire eggs that explode all eggs on the screen, purple eggs that slow down time, stone eggs that turn all eggs to stone, and silver eggs that double the points you earn! You also gain seed bags as you save every 100 eggs, allowing to buy special bonuses for use in game.

Game treats for the game will also be available on our blog and Twitter page, so keep an eye out for them!

Chicken Strike is the game created by students from the University of Hertfordshire in Dojit’s first Game Jam.

We ran a workshop with NACUE Create and students at the University of Hertfordshire, their aim was to come up with a new game idea, these students after two hours then pitched it to a panel.

We selected a team with three students, Richard Davy Pooransingh, Touchen Alphonse and Daniel Sibanda who proposed a game called Chicken Strike. They have completely developed the graphics with the game and dojit has done the game software development. The game can be downloaded from Apple iTunes and Google Play stores for free with in game purchases.

If you enjoy Chicken Strike, be sure to check out other Dojit games, such as Home Bear, Soccer Zillionaire and Run Swim, Fly!

New Report Gets Tough On Developers

After embarking on an investigation into the mechanics and trends of 38 child-orientated mobile applications earlier this year, motivated by the startling statistic that the game-playing experiences and subsequent in-app purchases of children cost their parents on average £30 million per month ,UK watchdog, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), has published a report on its findings, in which it lays out a set of guidelines and principles for games developers. A document that features eight main rules that the OFT expects British developers to meet, the report’s main focus centres on improving the clarity and honesty of applications that can be purchased through either Apple or Google’s stores.

Mainly aimed at the proponents of the popular freemium gaming business model, the OFT’s first principle requires games to feature disclaimers that explicitly state that where a game may be downloaded for free, it may also require users to spend real money on unlocking certain elements of the game. This idea, however, already operates on Apple and it would be fairer to suggest that if the games played by children were policed more effectively by their parents, a much fewer number of people would be greeted with devastating bills. Indeed, in a recent survey carried out by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, parents admitted that they watched and regulated the in-game activities of their children a definitive 97% of the time. So it seems that lax and ‘laissez faire’ parents are actually in the minority, with tech-savvy mums and dads keeping close tabs on their iPads, tablets and Smartphones.

Another important guideline sketched out in the OFT’s report does, however, shine a light onto how children can rack up their disgruntled parents’ payments. In a scathing comment, the document accuses certain developers of ‘exploiting a child’s inherent inexperience, vulnerability and credulity’, lambasting the guilty parties for manipulating language and misleading their players. Some games, the OFT claims in its dissection of ‘child-friendly’ applications, play on the emotions and insecurities of children. Examples include suggesting, through in-game messages, that characters may become unhappy or sad unless food is bought for them (with real money) or implying that in-game popularity can only be acquired through the purchase of a new item of clothing. Implications of children being responsible for the death, sadness or lack of progression of their characters or worlds in order to encourage spending can be seen as highly unethical and when married with the relative non-understanding a small child has of the value of currency in the real world, is definitely exploitative. Certain games will also neglect to inform their players that instead of purchasing, a user can wait an allotted time for a level to be unlocked.

Although a fair plucking of the heartstrings or tapping into the human fear of rejection and unpopularity are quite often hallmarks of big business marketing campaigns, observe the classic Lynx formula of advertisements where a social pariah earns attention and affection by using deodorant, the idea that these tactics are being embraced by child-friendly games developers seems questionable. In other cases, children’s games that feature add-ons that can be purchased for such fees as £69.99 merely reflect how the mobile games market is adopting the premium prices of traditional video games, but choosing to charge during game play as opposed to before it.

Unsurprisingly, as the mobile apps market is ultimately a profit-making venture (in the same ilk as all businesses), many have spoken out against these potential enforcements. Whilst largely agreeing with the OFT’s advocation of an increased responsibility over the interests and happiness of their consumers, trade group, UKIE, has stressed that this tightening of boundaries may ‘stifle the creativity of developers or prevent the growth of the games industry.’ It can certainly be disputed as to what extent the adoption of a clearer and less underhand approach to gaming will ‘stifle creativity’ as this should not affect the complexity and inventiveness of a game but it is easy to see that for some developers, economy and ethics will make for strange bedfellows and could cause a considerable rupture in the worth of the British mobile games industry and its contribution to the overall global gaming market.

The OFT’s publication may prove to be a victory for the enraged consumer but a bad omen for the games developer that will herald the beginning of more restrictive marketing strategies and criteria.

Morning Gamers!

Our recent study has shown that gamers like to play our mobile games between 7 and 10am in the morning. This would make sense as the morning commute to the work or school is a pretty boring one, what better way to kill time by playing a quick mobile game to get the brain and fingers going.

On my morning commute to Dojit, passengers are mostly on their mobile phones, tablets or handheld gaming systems. Compared to my commute to college 5 years ago, people were only reading newspaper, books or some sort of literature.  This shows how mobile and handled devices are more prominent in people’s lives. And the rise of social games, how easy it is to complete a level or beat boss in just a few minutes and pick up later and continue your progress.

What are you doing in your morning commute?

Share your HomeBear adventure and stories

Have you had awesome adventures with HomeBear?

We would like you to share your HomeBear adventure and stories! Take a screenshot on your device and post it on Facebook or send a tweet to HomeBear . You could see your story posted on our website and in a video on Youtube if all of you send your stories and pictures in!

To take an screen shot on iOS, press the home key and off key at the same time. Screen shot will be saved in your Picture Roll.

Android devices, hold the Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time.

We are looking forward to your stories and adventures!

Next Generation of Developers.

We here at Dojit had the pleasure of having Joss Harris, 22, a young and upcoming developer from Worcester, working for us for two months

He has worked on Totally Milkshake, Home Bear and our new game coming soon, Chicken Strike.

We interviewed Joss on his experience’s working with dojit and asked about him about his ambitions, oh and some geeky questions some of you would like!

Where did you first hear about the Dojit games?

I first heard about the company when looking for game jobs online. I saw a Unity game developer internship advertised on Internwise, so I sent an application and was lucky enough to be invited to work at Dojit for 2 months!

Was working as a game developer always something you wanted to do?

I think I knew that I wanted to work in video games ever since I got the original playstation with crash bandicoot 3 when I was about 10 years old.

Has working with dojit helped you further your knowledge of game development? If so in what way?

Working at Dojit has definitely helped me further my knowledge, I feel like I’m a much more competent programmer now. It was great to be able to work full time in game development, doing it everyday really improved skills.

Did you play mobile games before joining dojit? If so which ones?

To be honest I haven’t played any mobile games recently as I still haven’t made the move to a smart phone! However I’m a big fan of plants vs zombies and spent a lot of time playing it on my iPod touch in the past.

Which game studio would you love to work for and why?

I’m a bit of a Nintendo fan boy so I’d love to work for their first party development team Intelligent Systems, as they’ve made some of my favourite games like paper mario and fire emblem. It would also mean living in Japan which would be very interesting.

What game are you playing at the moment?

Currently I’m spending a lot of time digging up fossils and selling turnips in Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the 3DS, it’s brilliant!

Mario or Sonic?

It has to be Mario!

PC or Consoles?

I prefer playing most games on my PC as I like to be able to push the graphics further than the current consoles can. That will probably change as soon as the next gen consoles are out and the graphics card in my PC is out classed.

iOS or Android?

After working on Chicken Strike I have found Android to be much easier to develop for than IOS, so for that reason I would have to say Android

David Bozward, Dojit’s CEO  “Chicken Strike has been an opportunity to get together students from Hertfordshire University who have created the graphics, Joss Harris and up and coming developer, to provide a learning environment for them to create a new title. Joss has done a fantastic job in getting the title ready in less than two months. “

We like to work with the next generation of developers, the industries future.