Do What You Love and You Will Never Work a Day in Your Life

I have now worked for jācapps for 10 years! This company is a part of who I am and the people here are my family. Most of our clients have probably heard my name (especially for those Apple Developer accounts!) even though I don’t interact with them directly that much now. I help keep all those apps moving and working and growing. And I care about each app we put out; I honestly do.

I walked into the jācapps office a young developer just getting started in the Android and iOS world. I think Paul hired me because I was a Tigers fan and managed to impress his only previous reference point for what a developer was. In a similar way, jācapps was also just getting started in the app world – although they had been around before I came along.  I showed up at a non-descript office building, walked into a dull office suite (sorry, it’s true), and got to work at my desk in the storage room. Yep. The storage room sitting next to some shelves filled with old equipment and dusty boxes, racks of CDs, and a massive phone system. No windows.

This may sound bleak and like why would anyone sign on for this job. But what I also walked into was a 3-person team passionate about what they were doing, a boss that said “put up whatever you want” on the walls (and in my work), and the room to grow along with all of that. From that first day, I was asked what I thought and given the agency to guide what we were doing and where we would go. The first apps I worked on were for radio stations and were really, really not pretty. They played an audio stream and that was about it! But remember, this was 10 years ago so that was pretty impressive!

As the years passed, we built on this simple functionality to create some really amazing apps for our clients. We branched outside of the radio station market. I really think every part of jācapps has grown and improved: design, development, deployment. Even sales (my least favorite thing) and our office space! Before the pandemic, the team worked out of our Bingham Farms office suite. Automated sitting/standing desks, glass walls, open spaces, white boards. All the things you’d imagine in a modern tech company. And a kitchen! Our first office space had a microwave and a water cooler, so a refrigerator and working sink were big-time improvements.

But the work is what really counts. The apps we are putting out now are complete solutions for our clients. We’ve mastered including all sorts of media types and branched out to fit the business needs of many different verticals. We have dedicated web and backend developers. Even now, starting a new custom project for me is exciting! I love figuring out what parts match up with previous work and what parts will take the company in new directions. Looking back, while I might be embarrassed by those early apps – my pride in our work has been constant.

Ten years in the life of a tech company is a huge deal. And ten years in my life has also been huge. I was just shy of 30 when I started, living the single life with my two dogs, still figuring out what being an “adult” meant. What I said about the people at jācapps being family? It’s true. And not only because I convinced my brother to join the company! I was lucky enough to become friends with that small team from the start. While we don’t work together anymore, they will always be my partners in crime (the good kind). And even as we’ve added to the team, they’ve supported me.

This company saw me through a few relationships starting and ending, saying goodbye to those two dogs (and hello to a new one).  The whole company, a much bigger team than 3 people, was at my father’s funeral for support. The Friday before I proposed to my now-wife every person at jācapps wished me luck (good thing I got a “yes”). A few of the longer-term coworkers were at the wedding and then there was an office baby shower and so many thoughtful gifts for the birth of my daughter! So, when I say both the company and I have grown – you can see it’s true. I have never been more solidly “adult” than I am now: married, with a child, staring down 40.

And also, confident that I’m at the right company. I am wise enough to know none of us know the future. However, I still believe there are even greater things coming in the future for jācapps. Our team seamlessly adapted to work from home full time, has weathered the Covid-economy, and continues to truly enjoy what we are doing. I am thankful for each employee, the “higher-ups”, and each client and project that comes along – even the ones that challenge us. Here’s to another year!

Kate Coyle-Levy

VP of Software Development

Mobile Apps news and press

CES 2021: The Time for New Tech is Now

This year, we attended the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show – virtually.  The largest showcase of technology in the world was condensed into a Zoom-like event.  But the impact of CES was as high as ever, illustrating not only the impact of technology on business and consumers alike, but also the way the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends every business needs to take note of.

During their annual presentation on tech trends, CTA economists shared data on how consumers and businesses adopted new technology at a rate unseen before.  While each of these listed below were in growth mode, the fact that the eCommerce trend accelerated what was expected in the next ten years in eight weeks tells the story.

And it also serves notice to all business owners that if they don’t adapt to new technology ASAP, they risk being left behind.

As you can see, this isn’t so much a change as just a massive acceleration of things that have been happening for years.

Many small businesses have responded.  A survey from OnePoll of 1,000 small business owners found that close to one-third (31%) said embracing new technologies helped their business during the pandemic, and one-quarter (25%) said the pandemic accelerated their adoption of new technologies.  And this covers customer interaction as well as enabling work from home and eCommerce. 

Throughout CES, it was clear none of this is a fad, but a permanent shift in the way businesses interact with their customers, even after the pandemic disappears.  New habits and expectations are being formed right now. If your business has been considering investing in new technology, the time is now to invest.

Mobile Apps Mobile Web

How Much Time Spent on Mobile Devices is Spent in Apps?

In the early days of developing mobile apps, we were frequently asked if we thought it was going to become a big space, or if it was just a fad.  Even then, we were bullish on the space, and our response was simple:  “1% of companies and organizations currently have an app, and 99% are going to eventually have one.”

Our calculus was simple – smartphones were hot, and apps were an outstanding way of obtaining space on “beachfront property” – the screen of the one device people couldn’t put down.

A dozen years later, that prediction has borne itself out.  Not only do consumers use their phone for everything, but a recent study by Comscore finds that eight out of every ten digital minutes (79%) in the United States are spent on mobile devices, and among those people nearly 9 in 10 (88%) spend their time using mobile apps.

What’s surprising to us is that more companies and organizations haven’t invested in a mobile strategy that includes an app.  Sure, many use the mobile web, but when only 12% of time spent on a smartphone isn’t via an app, why would you fish in such a shallow pond?

We believe 2021 is going to be the year of mobile apps.  During the pandemic, new trends emerged (curbside, contactless), and others accelerated (working from home, online shopping) the result being that consumers have changed their personal and professional shopping, searching, and buying behaviors. We believe these habits will remain long after the vaccine takes hold and we return to what will be a very new “normal.”  Having a sound mobile strategy is no longer optional and that includes an app that is now an essential part of any businesses overall customer strategy.

It’s no longer “should we have an app,” but rather, “how soon can we get one?”

Android Auto Apple CarPlay Connected Car Mobile Apps Radio

Hey Siri, Open My Favorite Radio Station App!

Having been in the mobile app business for more than a dozen years, we’ve learned it’s not a static space.  Every 6-12 months, Apple or Android will have a new OS that will change or upend something or introduce a new feature that everyone wants – immediately.

Our job is to make sure our products are always in tune with what our clients – and their users – want.  This can often be tricky, but fortunately, our partnership with Jacobs Media and the consumer research they continually conduct provides us with insight into what consumers are ready for and what we can confidently recommend to our clients.

This is why jācapps was the first mobile app developer to install Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into our apps, and is why we are pleased to announce our latest update – voice activation for our mobile apps.  You’ll never have to touch your screen again to launch your favorite radio station.

Voice activation is something Jacobs Media has been tracking for a while, and they’ve seen increases in “talking” to cars, to TV remotes, to Alexa and Google Home, and yes, to their smartphones.  Consumers have become comfortable with the process, and in 2020, more than half (54%) are “talking” to their smartphones.  So, it was time to introduce this feature as part of our new V5 release.

The average consumer has 32 apps on their home screen, so this innovation enables users to access their favorite radio station quickly with no screen swiping required. 

We invited a few clients, including Lisa Waters, Digital Media Director of Local Media San Diego to participate in our beta testing for V5, and voice activation was a hit, as she remarked, “I love … the inclusion of Voice Activation! I asked Siri to “PLAY BIG FM” when I was driving the other day, and it opened the app and started playing the stream through my car speakers flawlessly! It’s one of those features that you don’t know you need until you have it.”

Is voice activation a game-changer for our apps?  By itself, not really.  But mobile is a dynamic space, and consumers expect apps that occupy prime space on their smartphone screen to deliver a ton of utility and be as user-friendly as possible.  This is part of our ongoing effort to ensure our clients treat their listeners to a great experience.


It’s Going to Be an ‘Appy Christmas for Retailers

The impact of the Coronavirus continues to resonate with the way consumers are going to interact with businesses, especially this holiday season.  By all indications, shoppers are moving rapidly toward online shopping via mobile apps and eCommerce platforms.  While this presents challenges, it also creates opportunities – those retailers that invest in online and mobile solutions will have a distinct advantage over their competition, and put themselves in position to have an “Appy” Christmas.

A recent research report released from Field Agent:  “An Omnichannel Christmas:  2020 Holiday Insights Report,” finds a rapid shift away from in-store shopping as consumers opt for the safety and convenience of shopping from home.

Plus, most experts believe this isn’t a one-year event.  It’s highly likely the pandemic – even when it abates – will permanently change shopping behaviors, so an investment in online shopping solutions is a long-term investment that will pay dividends for years to come.

Here are two facts that jump off the page from the Field Agent study:

When asked how likely they are to buy gifts online/in-app this holiday season, over eight-in-ten (82%) say they are completely or very likely to shop this way:

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There are also clear benefits for businesses to have their own branded mobile app.  We have long felt getting presence on the screen of a consumer’s most important device that never leaves their side, and this study verifies it.  When asked how likely they are to use retailer-specific mobile apps to buy gifts online/in-app on retailer-specific mobile apps this holiday season, almost two-thirds (65%) completely or very likely say they will shop in this fashion:


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The good news for local merchants is that consumers are committed to spending part of their holiday budget close to home. For this reason, merchants need to be prepared with things like appointment shopping and curb-side pick-up.

COVID-19 has changed all aspects of our lives, but it’s not a complicated process for businesses to quickly adapt.  Developing a mobile solution isn’t complex, and today, it’s as important as having a website – maybe even more.

Learn more about the 2020 holiday shopping season and how your town can leverage mobile technology by watching our Webinar Here.

Mobile Apps Uncategorized

Holiday 2020: Bringing the Stores to You

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives.  Businesses have shut down, families hunkered down, and the economy slowed down. 

Concurrently, the way we shop has also changed.  If eCommerce was a slow-moving, if inevitable, train before the pandemic, today it’s a runaway freight train.  The result has been retail bankruptcies as consumers have been reluctant to leave their homes, preferring to pick up packages from their front porch.

But now businesses are re-opening, and with the holiday shopping season rapidly approaching, consumers are tired of being at home.  But they need information about what this new shopping experience is going to be like: What stores are open?  What are the new business hours?  Is there online ordering?  Curbside pickup?  What events are happening, and what health and safety protocols are in place?  And based on the past few months, the answers to these questions and others could change several times in the next few months.

Our partner company, Jacobs Media, just completed a survey of over 27,000 listeners of 355 radio stations across the US and Canada.  “Radio’s 2020 Holiday Road Map” provides the answers to these questions, and clearly shows retail customers are placing a high priority on safety (this is especially true among women).

So how do retailers communicate this to their customers, especially when advertising and marketing budgets are pinched?

We believe in the power of aggregation – bringing all of the businesses in a downtown or shopping district together to collaborate on a mobile app that answers all of the questions posed above, and provides even more.  This is a cost-efficient solution that’s in-tune with what consumers need, and puts it conveniently on their smartphone, which has become their “go to” device for shopping information.

The Covid-19 pandemic is re-writing all of the rules, and the old ways of marketing won’t be as effective – or cost-effective – as before.  Nearly every customer a retailer are trying to attract has a smartphone, so it makes sense to provide a solution where everyone in the community benefits, and your re-opening can be successful.

For this and lots of other reasons, it makes sense for merchant associations, chambers of commerce or downtown development authorities to bring all of the local merchants together into a single, easy-to-use way to find out what’s happening in your area.

The last thing a tentative, concerned consumer wants to do is venture out without the information to make their trip safe and productive for themselves and their families. Merchants can make their life easier by putting the information for all of your local businesses into one handy mobile application that can create a real connection between merchants and consumers.  And if the situation changes, push messaging will provide a fast and effective way of communication, improving your relationship with your customers in the process.

This holiday shopping season won’t be like any other – make sure your business and shopping district’s marketing plans are in-line with the “new normal.”

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and profitable holiday season.

If you would like more information from our Covid shopping study, contact Paul Jacobs at

Mobile Apps Streaming

Streaming: The Essential Worker for Radio

When jācapps introduced its first mobile app for radio close to a dozen years ago, most people thought we were nuts.  In late 2008 apps were a novelty. The two leading apps in the iTunes App Store were the Zippo Lighter and iFart.  You can imagine the questions we got from broadcasters.

At the time that mobile technology was introduced, broadcasters were still suspicious of streaming. It was disruptive, expensive, and foreign, and since we were in the throes of the Great Recession, many were reluctant to jump into the pond.

Between then and now, it’s become pretty standard for radio stations to have a mobile app as streaming by listeners has grown steadily each year.  Broadcasters recognize the necessity of having an app, but for some, the reluctance remains.

Until now.

As more Americans are working from home, the way they consume audio content, including radio, has shifted dramatically.  They are spending significantly less time in their cars, and while working from home or schooling their children, streaming audio, especially radio, via a mobile app, website, or smart speaker has become more popular. 

According to a recent article in “Inside Radio” the percentage of AM/FM listening taking place online hit 10% in May, with Triton reporting Total Listening Hours to AM/FM streams up 16% year-over-year.  So now with Nielsen recognizing this shift and adjusting ratings to account for headphone listening, having a great mobile app is no longer a “check the box” investment, but a key aspect to the way radio connects with its audience.

Your stream is now central to the delivery of your content, and things like mobile apps and smart speaker skills are an essential way radio stations compete and grow their audience, and stations without them are at a significant disadvantage.

Mobile Apps

Covid-19 Spurs Mobile App Usage

The pandemic and resulting impact in work, home, and leisure routines has also generated a surge in mobile app usage.  A study just released from Airship finds an incredible surge across almost all app categories in the March-June period, when so many people found themselves at home.   And while they were at home, many found mobile apps as the optimal way of continuing to connect with all aspects of their lifestyle.

As we have shared in this blog since the beginning of the pandemic, consumer behavior is changing radically.  Limitation on consumers’ ability to go into stores or businesses to interact with merchants the way they used to has made investment in mobile app technology a must-have for all businesses.  Those who choose to conduct business in the same way they did before March are leaving themselves vulnerable to being left behind as this new reality emerges.

Comparing March through June activity in 2020 to 2019, the health care (+60%), media (+55%), and entertainment (+40%) categories led in app usage growth.  And compared to the February year-over-year app activity, the biggest change was with Business apps.

Three companies that have seen their business explode since the pandemic are Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon.  They were each perfectly positioned to shift their shopping experience from in-store to online with curbside pickup, and not surprisingly, each provides an excellent mobile shopping experience.

There is no reason why any business – regardless of size – shouldn’t be able to compete with these retail behemoths in the mobile space.  And ceding this turf to them will just empower consumers to shift their spending to them.

While we have no way of knowing if – or when – things will return to normal, it’s safe to assume the importance of mobile apps in all aspects of commerce will remain.  And this is especially important for any business that depends on the revenue burst from the holiday shopping season – providing a mobile app/shopping experience is going to be key to your success.

Mobile Apps

6 Questions To Ask When Looking For A Mobile App Developer

After close to twelve years in the mobile app development business, we can tell you the majority of prospective clients have one thing in common:  they’ve never bought a mobile app before.  In many cases, they don’t know which questions to ask, and as a result, make a decision on a developer based on price or a pre-existing relationship.  We can’t tell you how many times we’ve lost a bid because the client wanted the lowest price and selected a company with offshore development.  Or, they had a family relation or friend who knew how to write code and had developed a couple of apps.

So, based on our experience, here are the questions you should ask when selecting a mobile app developer:

  1. Do they create custom solutions, have a platform, or provide both approaches?  There tends to be two types of developers – those who have invested in a platform that allows them to develop apps quickly and inexpensively, or those who provide more expensive custom work.  It’s important to understand the benefits and limitations of each approach.  Beyond cost, platform apps can be versatile and provide an array of solutions, while custom apps can provide a company exactly what they require.
  2. What is their core business?  A lot of mobile app development is done by large software companies where apps are just a part of what they do.  Successful mobile app development requires dedicated teams with specific expertise, working for a company that prioritizes mobile app development.  This is a space that changes rapidly – new devices and operating systems from Apple and Android come out regularly – and without the proper focus, problems will occur.
  3. What is their service philosophy?  Many app developers provide their clients with apps – from there, the client is on their own.  Given the rate of change in this space combined with the fact mobile apps should be refreshed regularly, working with a developer that has an ongoing maintenance and upgrade plan is essential.
  4. Where are they located?  This is a tricky question, but we’ve had a lot of business come back to us from clients who tried an overseas (and less expensive) solution.  Lots of developers have a representative in the US, but the actual development is done overseas, often outsourced.  While non-US developers can be technically capable, there are numerous issues with this approach, including language barriers, time zones for strategy calls, cultural differences, and more. 
  5. Do they provide an end-to-end solution, or do they just develop apps?  It’s important to select a development firm that provides an end-to-end solution, starting with the strategic purpose of the app, and including design, wireframes, technical documentation, testing, and final development.  If a firm doesn’t provide a complete process, there will be surprise costs that emerge.
  6. What was the company’s last innovation?  While a generic question, you’ll learn a lot about how the firm operates.  If they are relatively static, they are sending a message that they are a) too busy, b) not focused on advancing their software, or c) mobile apps aren’t a priority in their firm.  Select a company that can provide solid examples of not only work they’ve done, but what’s in their product plan and their vision of the future.

If you are asking these questions, we would love for you to ask US! Jacapps is always available to answer these questions, and any others you may have about mobile app development.

Mobile Apps

The Holiday Shopping Season Shifts Online

What if there were no holiday shopping season in 2020?

Five months ago, if we would have posed this question, you would have thought we’d lost our minds.  A holiday season devoid of crowded shopping malls, families walking down Main Street window shopping, crowds gathering for Christmas tree lightings, and customers waiting in line to get the best deals on Black Friday morning seemed unthinkable.

And then along came Covid-19.

While there will definitely still be a holiday shopping season this year (and many believe we need it more than in any other year), it is just as definitely going to be different than anything we’ve seen before.  Retail stores have capacity limitations, gathering in large crowds isn’t allowed, and other barriers to a traditional holiday season are in place.

But . . . consumers are still going to shop.  They are just going to do it differently, and the time is now for businesses to make sure they are prepared to have presence where their customers are – online, and in mobile apps.

A recent study from daVinci Payments found that seven in ten (71%) of consumers plan to do more than half of their holiday shopping online this year.  And this just isn’t among Millennials – all demographic groups will spend the majority of their shopping time online:

Online shopping is happening in two key places – on computers and laptops, and on mobile devices.  In fact, since the pandemic struck, Salesforce finds that interest in shopping online has increased by close to half (47%) of consumers on computers, and by over one-third (37%) on mobile apps.

The holiday shopping season starts in the next couple of months – retailers and businesses who haven’t yet invested in altering their business model by investing in providing digital shopping solutions to their customers are potentially missing this shift in behavior.  If you’re interested in learning more about how mobile apps and engaging consumers online and on their smartphones, give us a call.  We can get you in the best position possible to profit from these challenging times.

And let us be the first to say: happy holidays!