Couple of great Finnish apps/services I've been using this year

There are two apps I wanted to bring to your attention. These might be interesting mostly to Finnish readers, but they might contain something for companies outside Finland to copy and make their user experience better. First, S-mobiili. It's a app for S-group, that is an sort of alliance owned by ordinary people, called co-ops, it's retail, restaurants, hotels etc, read more here and visualized here. Saying it is a loyalty app might be an oversimplification.

You can view your discount offers, bonuses, your bank account, make payments, see investments and one really practical feature: you can pay your gas in-app! You just select the meter you're in, and go fill your car. So simple, so fast, I just love it. It only works on ABC's of course, and you need to have S-pankki credit/debit card.

Paying and speed are the keywords.

The second app I like to write shortly about is Hesburger. It's a Finnish fast food chain, with burgers, tortillas, salads, toasts and regular side-orders. Little heavy on the majo in burgers (slurp!).

Anyhoo, they've launched mobile app 06/2016, and it's pretty decent. You get your coupons there of course, which for me (in the past, I'm trying to eat less burgers these days) was a big bonus, as the paper coupons were never there when you needed them, UI is simple and pretty efficient, it's missing a search, but it's good other wise. You can pay with your bonuses, or with pre-entered debit/credit card, or choose to pay when you enter the restaurant. Inside restaurant you have a separate speed check-out line at cash register, where you can just tell your code or show QR-code to get your food, or you can use drive-in to pick ordered stuff. You can select instant delivery or choose the time you want your food done - this saves time, as you can order drive-in before arriving, and just pick-up the food. It beats McDonald's app hands down.

Since June they've received over 75 000 new loyalty members, and broke their goals in the first few weeks. Also (!!!) the average purchase is 20% larger than the non-app customer's.

They are releasing the app to Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in the near future, you can find it for Android and iOS phones, here's Google Play link and Apple App Store.

Full disclosure: I'm not affiliated in any shape or form with the said entities or these apps, well except being a co-op member of S-group.


New iceberg detection system based on sonar

Kongsberg’s "SensIs" is a system that will track drifting icebergs, it will be network of wireless sonars embedded into seabed, floating roughly at 200 meters (650 ft) below the surface. It will track ice from up to 1200 meters away, using 10-15kHz acoustics.

This is the official "I don't get it"-part. Ships have sonars, right? Make them better? It seems awfully bigger investment to cover the whole sea with sonars, than to embed ships with better sonars? Or is the sonar less efficient from near surface? Well couldn't it then be floated below?

Also, it seems, the wavelength of 10-15 kHz will be disturbing to marine life like dolphins and whales. *sigh*

It's a Norwegian company, just like a past project I blogged about, Hywind, floating windmills into the ocean. http://blog.rz.fi/2006/02/floating-windmills-into-ocean.html

Read more: http://www.kongsberg.com/en/kog/news/featurestories/monitoring%20extreme%20ice%20conditions%20in%20the%20high%20north/ and https://www.newscientist.com/article/2093340-sonar-to-listen-for-moving-icebergs-near-arctic-oil-platforms/


Google's image caching - not as bad as it may have been for marketeers

Christmas vacations spent well, without worrying too much of the digital world, and spending a lot of time with the family. I hope you, my reader, had some quality time as well.

I wrote about my first impressions on Google's image caching few weeks ago, and had some spare time to test the situation.

My tests weren't very wide, or with large recipient group, but it was consistent, and showed that the image caching is done "on-the-fly" by Google. And this was a relief. We can still have reports that show "how many percentage of recipients opened the email at least once", and even more, it's now even more reliable number, since the default setting in Gmail now is to show the pictures in each and every email.

If your email marketing system is sending images personalized, ie logo.jpg becomes crypted-text-that-includes-email-recipient-and-sendout-id.jpg (and I assume every commercial one is doing), you can track each individual's "first open", but not consecutive opens. So you will miss "cumulative open" or "sum of all opens" from Google Gmail service (and for Businesses, I assume), but that will not hurt a marketeer much.

The key reports are still successfully sent %, which gives you general idea of how current your email register is, and how well your messages are being sent and received by email servers (ie. not getting blacklisted), open %, which gives you good feedback on how well your "From" and "Subject" was perceived as interesting and trustworthy, and click %, which tells you how well your content was driving traffic to your site. With sophisticated systems you will continue into more important business reports, pull % over control grouphow much revenue was created, and return-on-investment figures, if your system is integrated with your e-commerce and brick & mortar sales data.


Web developers ahoy - ajax usability

If you use Ajax loading, and especially if your content replaces the "load more" button, like Bitstrips, for frack's sake, replace the "load more" button with something that indicates that user clicked the button. You know, "tactile" response, that user doesn't click twice and end up selecting content from the loaded material. I'm looking at you Bitstrips on Facebook!


"Reset" -game got its Indiegogo funding!

With over 10 hours to spare, Alpo and the guys broke 65 000 euro goal!! First ever crowdsourced game from Finland is coming your way!

Merry Christmas guys!


I need your help - new game in development

Hi guys,

I need your help. My friend is raising funding for their indie game, single player co-op first person puzzle game. The development has been going on a while, and it has steady progress, and lot of gameplay trailers released. They have raised over 50% of 65 000€ goal, but with only four (4) days left, they could use your help.

Click to Indiegogo and check out other trailers, and help!

Gameplay teaser trailer:


First impressions: Google starts caching email image content - reporting suffers

Google announced yesterday of new feature in Gmail and Google Mail for Business, you can read it from their blog post http://gmailblog.blogspot.fi/2013/12/images-now-showing.html by Senior Product Manager John Rae-Grant.

What happened: Google started fetching all external images in emails, scan them for known viruses and malware (trojans). This has already started on desktop users, and it will be roll-out to mobile early 2014.

Good results: Most HTML-formatted email will look better, ie. email users don't have to "trust" the sender to see the pictures. User privacy is enhanced.

Bad results: Email marketeers will not be able to report how many Google users (recipients) opened the email, ie. viewed email with pictures, since Google will fetch all pictures, your reports will display 100% open rate for Google Gmail and Apps for Business users. It will mean that companies wanting to learn how to communicate better with their customers, are not getting all the relevant feedback anymore.

Software vendros, EDM and Marketing Automation dominantly, will be updated accordingly, maybe filtering Google users out of the reports pertaining open success indicators, so it doesn't skew the reports. You can still have an estimation of how effective your email sender / subject was, ie. how many have viewed the email with pictures.

Open indicator has never been a very accurate number, but Google just made it even less accurate.

Next eyes will be focusing to Microsoft (Hotmail, Outlook.com), Yahoo and AOL, will they follow suit?


Dopplr shut down by Nokia, four years after acquisition

Read more at Techcrunch... I wrote about the acquisition earlier, it has been slow ride to ramp up HERE services, but it's getting there. :)

Automotive industry ahoy! Here's a free tip for you.

Here's a free development idea for cars: add messaging functionality to cars, so family members and friends in different cars could communicate easier with each other. Add option to share metadata automatically: location, fuel gauge, speed etc. Maybe VoIP calls? Add Share-button to post it to Facebook. Add dashboard camera to share scenic location to Facebook with location and photo, from "xxx app" of course, giving you free promotion.

These are technically easy and relatively cheap to make, and they bring a lot of added value to the car. Make a deal with operators for EDGE/3G sims pre-installed, or have customers request clone sims. The manufacturer that leads the industry will brand itself as visionary.

Do you want to lead or play catch-up? Facebook has over a billion users, and next year it will celebrate it's 10th anniversary.

Imagine Connecting People and Think Different. Yes, that's you Nokia, Microsoft, Samsung and Apple. Innovation that excites, Nissan thank you for "Nissan Connect" photo. Maybe this is for You?


Mobile phone cloud storage have serious defects, learn more

In the past few years, I've used iPhone 4S and Lumia 920 phones. Apple and Microsoft have their clouds working quite well, and at first glance, it seems amazingly good and simple: you snap a photo with your phone, and bam, it syncs into cloud, and from there, to any device you so wish. Same works with new contacts, calendar, videos... no wait, it doesn't.

Apple does not support automatic syncing of videos to cloud from your device! You can publish them manually, see https://www.apple.com/icloud/icloud-photo-sharing.html

Microsoft SkyDrive doesn't sync 1080p videos, and with photos, it downscales them from 3552x2000 to lousy 1278x720 pixels, without notification! Before noticing this, I bought 100 gigs of space from Skydrive, and oh boy do I feel stupid now, I was ready to delete the photo originals! With world of 4G and fast Wi-Fi almost everywhere, this is just plain ridiculous. Well, ridiculous, as far as first world problems go.

You have to manually plug your Windows Phone (at least my Lumia) with USB-cable to PC, and copy your hi res photos and videos from there. With Apple, you can sync over local Wi-Fi but you have to start your iTunes first, or do the same USB-cable stuff as with Windows Phones.

Rant, rant, rant. Apple, Microsoft, is this the best you can do?


Free tip for map websites, especially for desktop use

Please show the street name when I hover the mouse over a road. It's driving me insane that I cannot make out the street name, and when I try to zoom in, you make the road name even smaller! I don't care if you have it in the driving instructions, I want to see the street names in the frigging map, is that too much to ask for a map?

Bing's mouse hover brings text "Drag to modify your route", yes, after thousand times using it, I know what it does. How about using that space to say "Street name: xxxxxxx. Drag to modify your route."?

Google Maps has done a bit better lately, they've enlarged the street names, but still, why not use the hover function? When I use it for navigation, it draws the blue line from point A to point B, and if you mouse over the street, it gives you instructions like Microsoft, please drag yaadidaa.

If you feel that most of the people wouldn't like this feature, please add it as an option I can change from the settings! Though I'm pretty sure no one would take offense if you could see the street name when you hover your mouse over it. Ngggh, sorry for the rant. At least it got me off my blog-hibernation.


Techcrunch: Nokia to buy Dopplr

Nokia is supposed to be buying Dopplr, the travel planner web service. I think it fits well into Nokia's strategy and idea of connecting people.

The price is rumored to be around 15-22 million US dollars.

TechCrunch http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/09/23/nokia-to-acqure-uk-startup-dopplr/