Posts Tagged Mobility Solutions

What You Need to Know About Apple’s App Rule

Apple App Store Container Rule

Written by Tim LaFleur | Director, Event Technology

If you have used a branded mobile app for your event, or are considering one for a future program, you have most likely heard about the new Apple App Store container rule that is shaking up the industry. More and more of our clients are incorporating mobile apps for a richer and more engaging experience for their attendees. So, understandably, they have asked us what this means and what can they expect? The simple answer – it depends. But, let’s break it down.

What does the rule say?
In June, at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, they announced changes to their App Review Guidelines. Of specific interest was Section 4.2.6: “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.”

What does the new policy mean?
There continues to be debate as each app company has their own take based on their reading of the rule and/or subsequent conversations with Apple. On the face, it appears providers will no longer be able to submit “one off” single branded event apps into the App Store. While this rule is broad and far reaching it in part touches all app development companies in some way.

As it pertains to our industry, it is widely believed this was put into place to clean up the App Store from many outdated or orphaned apps in preparation for the launch of their new store and have more control (i.e. not unlike the Play Store “Cover Letter” policy from earlier this year). Conference app companies are responding in a variety of ways based on their understanding of the rule. Most of the thoughts swirling around fall into one of three buckets.

Thought 1:
The most common thinking is that event apps now publicly distributed in the App Store will have to go into a larger container app. And, it would need to be a container app branded by the development company versus the event host. This has led some to proclaim that the death of the white labeled single event app is at hand. Additionally, there are concerns over the loss of event branding and security since all apps are placed in one container. In response conference app companies are working hard to mitigate the security concern with shortcuts directly to your specific app inside the container. However, the loss of event branding remains a very real concern for event marketing professionals.

Thought 2:
Some app companies have interpreted this rule less about whether the app is created by a commercialized template or app generation service, and more about whose Apple License is being used. There is a thought that if the app is being published from the event host’s Apple Developer License it will be allowed as either a multi or single event branded app. Others, while they agree in theory, they do not see it as being as broad as this. They feel there are boundaries to this approach.

• App must be published from company or organization’s developer account
• Needs to be a container app and have at least five (5) events included
• May only have one (1) container per organization
• After a few are published, organization will start seeing rejections from Apple

Thought 3:
And, last thought is “our apps are customized and they all differ.” They believe there is enough customization and uniqueness so their apps to not be affected by this rule. However, I am unsure if this philosophy holds true. As I understand it, there will be three main checks Apple will do make sure an app is not coming from a commercialized template or app generation service.

So, what now?
The deadline for this rule to take effect was initially September 30, 2017. However, Apple extended the deadline to December 24, 2017. This is a very nuanced and evolving situation so I would encourage anyone who already has an agreement with an app company to engage with them regarding their interpretation and how they are handling it. Even if you have already spoken with your app company, you might want to re-engage regarding what might have changed since your first conversation to see what other options exist for distribution such as private distribution versus public distribution. Have a backup plan should they be wrong in their interpretation of the rule.

How we can help…
As a third-party event planning company who specializes in mobile design, we are in a unique position because we work with and have been in conversations with many different app providers. They all believe theirs is the perfect solution. Yet, no two companies have the same interpretation. Ultimately, the goal is to mitigate risk of app rejection by crafting a plan to cover several different scenarios. If you have questions, concerns, comments or just want to know how we believe this rule may affect your event, based on all of the differing philosophies and approaches, contact me directly at tlafleur@meetings-incentives.com.

 

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design

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Beyond Features: A More Comprehensive Look at Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps Events

Written by Tim LaFleur, CMP | Director, Mobile Solutions & Strategy

At M&IW, we are extremely proud of the fact that we have consistently been a top consultant provider when it comes to making the most out of your meeting and event application. When I took on the role of Director of Mobile Solutions & Strategy to lead M&IW’s initiative, I knew we would need to go beyond the basic app features, utilize our comprehensive understanding of event operations, and dive deep into clients specific needs to create a service that has since become best practice in the industry.

Our process is to look beyond the feature and to not take it at face value. We evaluate the various app sections as buckets of functionality independent from their face value functionality (i.e. speakers, schedule, sponsors, etc.). Thinking about a section in terms of the functions that a module holds, opens a world of possibilities to create something special for the client.

The best app consultancy services think in terms of a three-pronged stool and if one of the legs falls short, the stool is bound to be off balance and fall apart. Each leg is represented by an area of competency including utilizing a superior app technology platform where the functionality contained within each module is dynamic; the understanding of events and how various event aspects may depend or seamlessly flow into one another; and a keen awareness of our client’s specific needs and overall event objectives. Being uniquely positioned to understand all three components of the three-pronged stool, allows the users to take full advantage of the application’s platform and intended purpose. Taking time to vet and ask many questions about the platforms will allow for a level understanding similar to that of the technology provider themselves. Combined with a unique perspective on apps and knowledge of how the meetings and events flow, allows for a unique vantage point to craft the apps for a client. In the end, we have not simply filled in the individual features, but a technology solution that solves the mobile needs of a conference has been developed.

To illustrate a best-practice approach consider the following:

Social Features and Social Walls. Consider this feature question, “Does the attendee’s post go to social media with a specific hashtag and then pulled back down by the social wall to display on a screen or does the social wall bring attendees posts over without having to go out into social media?” The first scenario may pose confidentiality and security concerns. Additionally, does the social wall display pictures and text together as it was submitted on the feed or does it separate out various post elements. Based on how these questions are answered determines how the specific feature can be utilized and if the technology is a fit for the specific event.

If we simply check the box stating the app supports social wall and do not ask how, we are short-changing the potential use or functionality. Perhaps an event organizer wanted a social wall, but there were privacy concerns and it was assumed that the posts flowed through social media without understanding the functionality of the feature and because of that basic assumption the feature was not utilized. Where in reality the feature could have been utilized while maintaining privacy if the execution of feature was discovered and right platform selected.

Interactive Floor Plan. If the floor plan features utilize heat mapping or pin dropping to outline the location of a room this leads to other questions that affect the attendee experience with this feature. For example, will heat mapping adequately map a room that is not a standard square or rectangle? If there is a ballroom that is used in the morning for general session, but then breakouts later in the day, how does the heat mapped area handle that layering or is there the need to create multiple maps to illustrate?

When considering a pin system think about the following. An attendee is looking at the maps, can they tell which pin is which and distinguish between ones that are clustered together? This is similar to the pin drop conundrum in a geolocation map section as well as a floor plan section. Does the technology provider have the ability to filter out by type, view in list or search by a particular name? The answers to all the questions, regardless of if it is macro or micro function to the app, affect the way it operates, the attendee experience and the way that we consult with our clients. In short, there is no question too trivial since the answer can have a profound effect on event design and the attendee experience. Knowing the right questions to ask is developed over time and with experience.

Next time you are tasked with implementing a mobile app for your program, consider the following:

  • Does the app provider I am partnering with provide dynamic feature functionality and what elements flow together and interact?
  • Does this technology solve the three main “must haves” identified in this article that drive our event design and attendee experience?
  • Do I feel comfortable with the app, because if not, chances are my attendees won’t either?
  • Do I understand and are we utilizing the features to their full functionality to address our event technology needs or are we simply taking the features at face value?

These four simple questions will open a world of opportunities for better communication efficiency, a more engaged audience, and greater return on your next program.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design

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