A Greeting Card With Your Own Pictures

100s of cards are sent weekly thru our personalized card designer app “ThotOfU” across 40 countries. Many users have asked for the ability to use one of “their own” pictures in the cards in addition to the image gallery we provide.

We think this is a great idea. Imagine sending a birthday card to a friend which has you and him in a nice setting. The pictures brings happy memories of time spent together and brightens someone on their special day. Or a picture of a vacation used in an anniversary card – if a picture tells a tale, clearly there is power in using your own pictures to make custom cards.

Where do people store their images? Many of us, like me have 1000s of pictures on our phone, cloud storage services such as Dropbox, iCloud, Google Driver and picture sharing sites such as Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest etc. Wouldn’t it be great to offer a way for people to brose their picture libraries via the app, pick the picture they like and use that picture in the card?

We are delighted to announce the latest update to ThotOfU – the ability to pick your own pictures from your device and/or the cloud storage and/or the picture sharing sites for a small convenience fee (paid via IAP credits). Just download the latest app, pick the template you want, choose the source of your pictures (you must have IAP credits to do so), pick your picture and watch it appear in your card, type your caption/message and send the card via WhatsApp, Facebook or even email.


The BIG News Of The Day

With “inNews”, our news aggregation app, we have brought 3 key ideas to mobile news readers:

1. Users don’t need news served via feeds & categories, they want to know whats the top news at any time. Technology should determine what is important based on social, readership, influencer, velocity, volume of content on the story.

2. Users prefer both short-form and long-form content. Short form content can be curated manually or generated through automation.

3. Technology should provide a 360-degree view of the news story and all media associated with it – all related stories, images, videos and a historical context so readers can understand news better

Our initial analysis with first 500 users shows that while there is good engagement with the content, there is not enough engagement with the app. The app currently relies on the user to open / launch it to see the top news and the associated 360 deg views. We are not giving any reason to open the app.

In an earlier post, I have talked about notifications and what sort of notification one should have. The easiest way would be to send a notification each hour with the TOP news at this hour. In the age of chatty apps, a user gets 5-10 notifications per app and with 40-50 apps, this could itself become an over-kill. Another way would be to ask the user to specify the time slots when they want to informed about the top news of the day. After all personalized service is the best option.

Turns out, while the notification based on multiple time slots is useful from a personalization angle, it is not very useful from a news “function” angle. A little bit of introspection reveals the “better” formula for notification for a news app that has an archive, a related news technology engine, a summary generation engine and a notification engine – sending the BIG news of the day at the end of the day!

Consumers are caught in their daily grinds and are juggling a barrage of work, personal and social messages. But all consumers want to be aware of their world, the news that matters to them. What better than to send them a capsule of the top news of the day and provide a quick way to catch up on the BIG news with the means to research any specific story in as much depth as possible. After all this is what the 9 pm TV news is all about – top stories of the day; 1 min, 60 stories; headlines of the day are all about giving you the top news as curated by the editorial team in a quick 5-minute recap and then debate the top 3 issues over next 1 hour.

What if we could send an automated summary of all the top 30-50 stories of the day, with some reasonable threshold to determine what is a top story – based on # of related articles, influence of writers, influence of topics / people, # of people reached etc etc.

What if you got a friendly notification from your news app alerting you of the top stories of the day with a quick summary scan and the ability to select any story and check out the depth. Now that seems like an interesting notification / engagement strategy!

So get ready as we get back to the development board and try and hammer this out as quickly as possible. Deadline for the team – 30th October launch of our smart notification – The BIG news of the day.


Missing Since August!

For those of you who follow my blog and are wondering why the long silence since my last post of 31st July, my apologies. I have been busy getting all of the ideas covered in this blog into working products. In the last 3 months we have:

* Released our app “inNews” with the smart summary technology, 7-day history, 360-deg media (all related articles, pictures, videos) and forced folks in the news / tech domain to sit up and notice our tech prowress

* Released update of “Filmi Filmy”, our hindi film song app with all songs shown in hindi script, voice search in hindi and an attractive IAP to buy credits for voice search

* Released update of our app “ThotOfU” with ability to pick user’s own image from the device or cloud storage account (Flickr, dropbox, facebook, instagram etc). So now you can design a card using your own memories and bring smiles to your friends.

* Helped release two new service aggregation apps – a wedding services aggregator and a party services aggregator

* Re-position the Pariksha website to reflect our new identity – a leading publisher of Indian content apps and consulting services in app development, web technologies and marteching (marketing + technology). Check out www.parikshalabs.com to see our new identity.

Now that the engineering for the apps is mostly done, there will be time to look at the next set of technology / user experience features to maintain our R&D lead. I continue to believe that in the online / digital space, small but highly useful increments in technology / user experience can create large shifts in user adoption. If you have ideas for our apps, do send them our way.