E3 Games – The Biggest Announcements for Mobile

Just in case Apple’s huge WWDC announcements weren’t enough to whet your appetite for the next year of mobile, the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) also kicked off this week, and brought with it a series of important gaming announcements for iOS and Android. The games collected below might just be the next big thing come this time next year.

Payday: Crime War Revealed

Payday has been highly successful on PC and consoles, and now it’s time for the crime-themed first-person shooter to hit mobile. The game will change significantly in its transition, though, and as the “Crime War” subtitle suggests it should be a more aggressive game than its predecessor. Unlike the PC version, which pits four players against AI-controlled police in a series of escalating heists, this new mobile edition will send four criminal players up against four police players. Gamers can unlock upgrades, gear and personalization options as they play. Payday: Crime War is set to release soon on iOS and Android.

Severed Brings Vivid Role-Playing to iOS

Severed is a unique role-playing game built from the ground up to take advantage of touch controls. Drinkbox Studios originally launched the game on the PlayStation Vita, but the responsive swipe-based combat and stunning visuals should be right at home on iOS devices, too. Players control Sasha the one-armed warrior as she explores dungeons, battles monsters and solves puzzles.

Deux Ex: GO Puzzles iOS Players

Square-Enix has successfully rebooted Hitman and Tomb Raider for mobile, and now it’s time for Deux Ex to get the “GO” treatment. Like the previous GO games, Deus Ex GO will take the world and mechanics of the PC/console series and repurpose them as a devious puzzle adventure game. Players will utilize unique hacking and combat abilities to thwart a terrorist plot in a futuristic world plagued by civil unrest. The first two GO games were financially and critically successful, and it wouldn’t be surprising for Deus Ex to follow in suit.

Fallout Shelter Adds Updated Quests

A big update is incoming for everyone’s favorite post-apocalyptic bunker building sim. Developer Bethesda Softworks showed off a new Quest system by which players can send their Vault Dwellers out into the Wasteland, where they’ll do battle with enemies using a new combat system. The additions promise to be meaningful, but the real question is whether or not they’ll bring in lapsed players for a second go.

Minecraft Gets The Friendly Update

A host of new features, including cross-platform multiplayer and new animals, are coming to Minecraft Pocket Edition via what Mojang and Microsoft call “The Friendly Update”. Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of Realms, persistent, private multiplayer servers from which you can invite other players, thereby mitigating a lot of the risk you might run into by allowing random players into your world.

Sims FreePlay and SimCity BuildIt Updated

Two of EA’s big mobile brands are getting updated in conjunction with this year’s E3. First, The Sims FreePlay has received a Police Update which gives players two new career choices: Metro Police or Special Agent. These in turn will let players become the Chief of Police or… a Paranormal Agent? The next update is for SimCity BuildIt, and gives players access to “Future Cities” including new Omega items like Jetpacks.

 

With this year’s E3 games looking hotter than ever, mobile gamers should have plenty to look forward to in the coming year. And who knows – One of these games might be the giant everyone’s chasing after come next year’s convention.

WWDC 2016 – Apple’s Top 5 Announcements for App Developers

Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicked off its 34th year with a host of massive announcements that will shape the landscape for app developers over the coming year. Over the span of a two-hour keynote, Apple laid out exactly what changes, improvements and alterations are coming to iOS 10. Just in case you don’t have a spare 2 hours, we’ve broken down the biggest announcements from this year’s keynote and how they could affect app developers moving into the future.

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5. Siri Comes to Desktop in macOS Sierra

iPhone and Apple TV owners have been enjoying Siri’s snarky brand of personal assistance for a while now, but Mac users have been left out in the dust – until now, that is. Apple announced a new Mac operating system with a new naming scheme to match iOS, tvOS and watchOS. OSX – now called “macOS” – is getting a new update called Sierra, and with it Siri is finally coming to the desktop.

Siri on desktop should function as a supplement to Finder and Spotlight, allowing users to search for files, switch between active apps, browse the web, and perform math functions. These features are exciting on their own, but going into the future Apple is hoping to make Siri even bigger, positioning her as an intelligent household assistant that can help you through your day-to-day.

So how does this impact mobile app developers? Combined with new Siri updates on mobile, which we’ll cover more later, developers can now feel empowered to add Siri features to their desktop apps and increase feature parity between different versions of their apps.

4. Apple ‘Junk’ Apps Can Now Be Removed

That “Apple Junk” folder we all have on the last page of our phones can finally be cleared with the advent of iOS 10. Not all preloaded Apple apps can be deleted, but the 23 that can are:

  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Compass
  • Contacts
  • FaceTime
  • Find My Friends
  • Home
  • iBooks
  • iCloud Drive
  • iTunes Store
  • Mail
  • Maps
  • Music
  • News
  • Notes
  • Podcasts
  • Reminders
  • Stocks
  • Tips
  • Videos
  • Voice Memos
  • Watch app
  • Weather

The apps you’ll have to keep around? Safari and iMessage, among others.

Now that Apple is allowing users to remove many of their official apps, it opens the door even further for developers to introduce superior alternatives.

3. Responsive Notifications Are Coming to the Lock Screen

Notifications can be a mixed bag depending on the app, but with iOS 10 Apple aims to empower developers to create more useful notifications. By utilizing 3D Touch, users will now be able to respond to or expand notifications from the lock screen.

Beyond that, Apple is also including the ability for developers to update their notifications in real time. Now, taxi apps can inform you when your ride gets close, news apps can update relevant stories as they happen, and sports apps can show you scores in real time. If your app utilizes notifications, you’ll want to start thinking about how they can be updated to take advantage of these exciting new features.

2. iMessage Gets Rich Links and Third-Party App Integration

Apple’s pack-in messaging service is about to get a lot bigger in iOS 10. Easily the largest update Apple has made to a core app in recent memory, the upcoming patch will add rich links, third-party app integration, larger emoji, effects and much more.

Let’s start with the basics: everything you love about iMessage is still there, with emojis now three times bigger than they were before. In fact, autocorrect will now prompt you to use emojis in place of words when applicable. The creative side of the app will grow from there, with text effects that can appear in your speech bubbles. Now you can make text larger or smaller, write in “invisible ink” that’s only visible after swiping over the message, or blur your text until the recipient taps it.

Beyond emojis, iMessage will now allow rich links, meaning that videos and music can be played without ever leaving the app. Similarly, third-party apps can now be integrated with iMessage, allowing you to send money, order food, and prompt all manner of activities from your messaging partners.

1. Siri SDK Lets Developers Add Siri to Apps

The biggest announcement for app developers at this year’s WWDC was definitely the big update for everyone’s favorite personal assistant AI. Apple debuted the Siri SDK for developers, which will allow anyone to incorporate Siri into their apps. WeChat, Slack and WhatsApp were named at the keynote as apps that will now support Siri voice commands, but that should just be the beginning of the Siri integration. With millions of apps on the store that can now follow your every voice command, Apple is positioning the iPhone as a serious competitor to personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, and Siri is finally getting the legs to support that weight.

Screenshot Localization – Why And How to Optimize in New Territories

Localization is an important step in the growth of any app. Many developers focus squarely on the United States, but China has actually surpassed the US in iOS downloads, and Japan continues to produce the most revenue for Google Play. Now, countries like China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Russia represent significant untapped markets for many developers. If you had the chance to increase your app’s potential userbase exponentially, wouldn’t you take it?

For that reason alone, localization is a must for any serious app developer. However, the localization process leaves many lingering questions, and not all localizations are created equal. A strong localization takes into account not only your app’s title and keywords, but your screenshots as well. After all, these images will take up the majority of your listing on iOS, and on Google Play they are one of the first elements on your app’s store page.

When localizing an app, adding your screenshots is the second step of the submission process – and it should be treated with a proportionate level of importance. Users may never even read your translated description, but they will definitely see your screenshots!

The creative used on an app page is crucial for conversion in new territories, so you should try to use localized images whenever possible. For example, if you’re localizing a GPS app for China, you’ll want to trade the US maps for Chinese ones and swap US landmarks in your images for, say, the Great Wall. Similarly, if you’re developing a cooking app, you might want to include images of local delicacies in order to entice new audiences into downloading. When it comes to localization, you’ll want to do as much research as possible in order to truly appeal to users’ sensibilities, no matter what the topic at hand may be.

Similarly, some countries may prioritize certain features over others. When positioning your app for a new territory, you’ll want to research trending features and position those towards the front of your screenshots so they will be immediately visible to browsing users. For example, WeChat’s group chat and emojis are hugely popular in China. If your app features something similar, why not highlight it in one of your first two screenshots?

Speaking of WeChat, this popular messaging app is actually a solid example of screenshot localization. Check out the app’s first three US screenshots below:

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And compare them with the app’s screenshots in China:

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Note how the app has been repositioned ever so slightly to emphasize freedom of communication in the United States, and the size of the userbase (complete with group chatting and emojis) in China.

When localizing your app, your first two screenshots can make all the difference for conversion, particularly on iOS. Just take a look at the search results below:

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Each listing only has room for two screenshots, and if your app has a video – like WeChat (pictured above) does – that only leaves you with one screen to convey your most vital points of information. Suddenly, that subtle difference in screenshot ordering between territories becomes absolutely vital.

Localizing your app may seem complex, but in the end it’s all about understanding the wants and needs of each territory you enter. Translate the language in your screens, use images that local audiences can relate to, and reposition your most important features towards the front of your screenshots, and you’ll have a solid foundation for any new territory you decide to venture into.