Mobile Apps

Uber Partners with Pandora to Offer Ad-Free Internet Radio

Uber announced Monday that it has partnered with online radio station Pandora to offer a new feature within its Uber Partner app: ad-free internet radio. This feature allows drivers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand to play music from their favorite Pandora stations, for free and without advertisements (until 12/28/2016). The company plans to start rolling out this feature as early as this week.

Drivers for Uber should view this as a positive change since it puts the control back in their hands. To qualify, you must be an active driver-partner in the US, Australia, or New Zealand. This feature is currently only available to drivers. According to the company’s website, a music experience for riders is coming soon.

For Pandora, as monthly listeners slowly decline, this new feature will provide a way to keep interest in the service up in the months ahead. The company will retain data about the music drivers listen to during trips.

This deal is in addition to an earlier deal between Uber and Spotify. To read more about the Uber-Pandora partnership, click here.

To learn more about getting your app into the car dashboard contact us at 248-353-9030 or email

Mobile Apps

YouTube Announces Live Streaming for Their Mobile App

YouTube announced that it will bring live streaming right to its mobile app. The Alphabet (Google) owned company has released a few screenshots of what live streaming on the app will look like, which can be viewed here and here. Users will have the choice of making their stream public or not. Also, they will have the option of whether or not to utilize the chat feature while live streaming.

Similar to Periscope, from rival Twitter, the interface provides a full screen for whatever it is the user is streaming. The company indicates that live streaming will have all the regular features of standard videos, including search, recommendations and playlists. YouTube claims their live streaming feature will be “faster and more reliable than anything out there.”

What’s interesting is that the company has been live streaming on computers since 2011, so they have more experience with it than Facebook or Periscope. Just this year, YouTube became the first to ever broadcast a 360-degree live stream during Coachella. As of right now, only a select few partners will have the ability to live stream from the YouTube app. With no official date set, the company has stated that a wide rollout will take place soon. Looks like we will have to wait and see.

To read more about the new chapter in YouTube’s live stream, click here.

To learn more about promoting your app or your mobile strategy contact us at 248-353-9030 or email

Connected Car Mobile Apps Radio

How Radio Can Stay Connected in the Connected Car

The car dashboard is the greatest programming challenge for broadcasters today. Although radio remains the dominant media consumed in the car, the big boys of tech are confident that they can change this. And for good reason.

Much of the hype around the connected car has revolved around Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. With this technology, the driver is able to extend their favorite apps from their smartphone to their vehicle’s infotainment system. Apple and Google dominate the smartphone industry, and drivers are accustomed to using Bluetooth to connect smartphones to cars. So, it’s easy to understand their plans to enter the automotive infotainment industry. (There is even talk that Apple is designing a whole car!)

For as long as anyone can remember, the in-car media competition was between radio stations fighting for one of those 5 or 10 presets on the car radio. It’s a different story now as in-car competition includes on-demand streaming services, satellite radio, podcasts – in short, just about any audio media.

Listeners, increasingly, turn to their smartphones to access this content and research shows that consumers are more loyal to their smartphone than to their automobile. So that means that while each manufacturer has their own in-car system (Sync, InTune, Cue, MyLink, Uconnect, etc.) they really have to play nice with their customers’ smartphones.

Having WiFi in the car gives the driver all the more reason to pull out their smartphone in order to stream their favorite content, whether it be the latest Justin Bieber song or the newest podcast episode from Radiolab. So, what does this mean for your station? Simple – your mobile app is the way in. Whether it’s the in-car system, CarPlay or Android Auto, your mobile app makes sure that when your listener is in the car, your brand stays top of mind. And not just your main stream, but your podcasts, HD and digital channels.

The car is arguably the most important place for your station’s brand, and we can help you maintain your place there as this crucial ecosystem evolves.

If you’d like to learn more about how to stay connected in the car give us a call at 248-353-9030 or email

Mobile Apps

5 Factors Driving the Price of Your App

By: Bob Kernen

We get asked all the time: “How much does an app cost?” And we always give the same answer: “As much as a car.” You see it all depends on what kind of car you want to drive. You can get a nice compact sedan for a few thousand dollars, but a luxury sports car with all the bells and whistles could easily run into six figures. It’s the same with apps.

There are a number of key variables that drive the cost of an app. A good app developer can work with you on those variables to help you create an app that accomplishes your business goals within your budget.

Here’s what’s driving that quote you get from your app developer:

  1. Customization
    A bespoke suit always costs more than one bought off the rack! If your business needs special features and functions that’s going to cost you. The good news is that usually you don’t need anything special. Chances are your app falls into one of a half-dozen categories for apps (media delivery, location guides, ecommerce, etc.) and so if you find the right developer, who has the expertise you need, and has built apps like what you need before, you’ll save a lot. Even if you need a few custom features, if you can pull most of your app’s functions off the shelf, you’ll be okay.
  2. Design
    It’s easy to get caught up in beautiful design, and certainly there are some really great looking apps out there (we’ve built some of them here at jācapps). But, speaking from personal experience, the apps I use every day – Facebook, Instagram, Michigan Radio, the NY Times and my favorite solitaire game – are less beautiful than utilitarian, and that’s as it should be. Getting caught up in design returns only limited benefits. Mobile apps aren’t like websites – there isn’t a lot of room for pretty designs and images. Easy user interface is the most important thing. If websites are epic poetry, mobile is haiku.
  3. Back-end
    Many clients call us up and say, “I need a mobile app,” but upon further conversation with them, they need a lot more than that. In most cases, whatever the functionality of the app, something needs to be powering it. It can be something as simple as a web content management system, or something as complex as a relational database, and sometimes both. Those elements are not technically the “app,” but they are a crucial part of the product. And they cost money to build.
  4. Integration
    Integration with other digital systems is another thing we work with a lot. The good news is that clients frequently already have some of those back-end elements mentioned above, and our job as the app developer is simply to integrate with them.
  5. Maintenance and upkeep
    Mobile never stands still. New devices, new operating system versions keep the space as dynamic as anything I’ve ever seen. We believe that part of our job as an app developer is to make sure that no matter what happens in the mobile space, your apps should keep running and up to date. So we usually charge our clients a small monthly maintenance fee to protect them from the whims of Google and Apple.

To learn more about what drives the cost of your mobile app, or to discuss your mobile strategy contact us at 248-353-9030 or email

Mobile Apps Radio

Big Changes to the AppStore Means Big Opportunities for Your Station

By: Bob Kernen

Last week in this space, we gave you some suggestions on how to use your native assets – your broadcast and website – to promote the download and usage of your apps. This week, we want to talk about what you can be doing in the AppStore (and Google Play store) to drive downloads of your app.

It turns out that our timing is great, as this week, in anticipation of Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple announced some changes to how things will work in the AppStore that could be potentially beneficial to app publishers.

The first thing Apple is changing is their review process. If you’ve worked with us, you know that it could take as long as two weeks from the time we submitted your app, to its approval and publishing in the AppStore. That could be a frustrating wait, as there was little rhyme or reason to the process and you were as likely to be surprised by a long approval as you were by a quick one. Company executive Phil Schiller has streamlined that process and apps should now be approved “within one to two days.” We’ve definitely noticed shorter approval times – though not yet anything like 48 hours.

The second big change is Apple’s announcement that it would cut the commission it takes on subscription apps. Typically, Apple takes 30% of the list price for paid apps, and 30% of the subscription as well. They also discourage use of services like PayPal and Venmo, as they are determined to get their cut. But now, after a subscription is active for one year, Apple will cut their share to 15%. It’s not huge, but shows a willingness by Apple to begin making the terms more favorable to app publishers.

The biggest change, however, is opening up the AppStore for publishers to advertise their apps. In the past, all promotion within the store was based solely on the AppStore editors’ preferences. Now, brands will be able to buy advertising space on the main page of the AppStore. This may not be all that efficient for more locally targeted apps like radio stations, but Apple will also be offering search ads that will bring your app to the top of the results list on relevant searches.

Finally, Apple has announced that its search algorithm is being improved making for better, more relevant results.

All of these changes will help reduce the frustration your audience experiences finding your app. To learn more about promoting your app or your mobile strategy contact us at 248-353-9030 or email

Mobile Apps Podcasting Radio

What Your Radio Station Can Do to Avoid Being Replaced by a Podcast

By: Vince Kattoula

The success of shows like Serial have made podcasts more popular than ever. Even Google has gotten involved in the podcasting space as they debuted a podcast directory in Google Play Music. In fact, according to Jacobs Media’s Techsurvey 12, the percentage of radio listeners who listened to a podcast within the last month increased from 21% in 2015 to 28% in 2016. How are these listeners tuning into these podcasts? 42% of podcasts are consumed on mobile apps, and about 30% on mobile web browsers. It’s no surprise that mobile is the dominant platform being used to stream podcasts. Yet radio stations still haven’t embraced podcasting primarily because they’re so focused on only promoting audio that contributes to their Nielsen ratings.

As podcast listening increases, the likelihood that more drivers will ditch the car radio to listen to their favorite podcast increases as well. What can radio stations do to avoid being replaced by a podcast?

If your station has a mobile app then the battle is already half-way won. To stay relevant, and to maintain your place as one of the 27 apps that smartphone owners use on average, podcasting should definitely be considered as part of your marketing mix. Getting started is easier than you think, too. Determine what your station’s audience is passionate about and start podcasting about that. A good way to generate topics for podcasts is to look through your inbox to see what listeners are asking your station. Check out Jacobs Media’s webinar on How to Launch a Podcast for a great tutorial on how to get started in the podcasting world.

If you’re currently involved with podcasting, or looking to get involved, make sure to check out the largest gathering of podcasters in the world at Podcast Movement, in Chicago on July 6-8. We’ll be there answering questions.

If you have any questions or concerns about podcasting, or your mobile strategy, give us a call at 248-353-9030 or email

Mobile Apps

3 Keys to Effective App Promotion

By: Bob Kernen

We frequently get calls from our clients concerned about downloads or the usage of their app. The calls are usually similar – “We got a lot of downloads and usage when we first launched, but we’ve hit a plateau.” I always ask the same question: How are you promoting the app? Almost invariably, I hear the same thing: “Well, we promoted it heavily for the first few weeks, then moved on to other things.” There’s the problem.

Ask anybody who has an (non-radio) app and they’ll describe the pain of getting people to download and use their app. Typically, marketing costs for an app can run upwards of $1.50 per download. Radio has such an amazing advantage in this area. Namely, their 24/7 broadcast is an effective (and free if done properly) marketing channel. With the Nielsen digital SDK, and great opportunities to monetize your app, getting your listeners to download and use it can have real impact on your business.

Here are three key elements to successfully promoting your app:

Be creative

Asking listeners to download through a generic promo just doesn’t cut it. Have some fun with it! WCSX (Detroit) PD JT Tarrants and production director, Paul Buck have created a great and ever-changing set of promos that use classic rock songs (The Who’s “Goin’ Mobile,” sure, but tons of others, too) and their lyrics to remind listeners that there’s an app that allow them to take WCSX with them everywhere.

Be contextual

I learned back in my days at the History Channel that “visit our website for more information” is a total loser. Nobody’s moved to action by “more information.” But if they know what that information is and that it matters to them, then they act. So “download our app” is boring, but “if you missed the show this morning, listen to the podcast on our app” gets audiences moving. Also, calls-to-action like “photos from last night’s concert are on the app” give listeners a sense of urgency, and also create the kind of check-the-app habit that will drive more listening and more engagement.

Be timely

Urgency is a huge driver with mobile. So make sure you promote the app in ways that create a sense of what’s happening now. Use push messaging or other tools to keep you audience checking in with you on a regular basis. Then make sure that the content delivers.

To learn more about promoting your app or your mobile strategy contact us at 248-353-9030 or email

Mobile Apps

5 Fitness Apps to Help Keep You on Track This Summer

By: Vince Kattoula

With Memorial Day weekend now behind us, summer is here.  It’s likely that your fitness plans from this past January have been replaced with plans to hang out on the couch. Working out can be a struggle and sticking to an exercise plan after a busy day can be even more an uphill battle.  Luckily, there are apps that will help you stick to your plan and see it through.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, train for your first marathon, or just want to walk more steps in a day, mobile apps are awesome assistants for health and fitness because you can take them everywhere you go.  But, before you lose your mind browsing through the thousands of health and fitness apps in the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store, check out our list of fitness apps (in no particular order) that will help you keep track of your goals this summer.

5 Fitness Apps to Help You Stay on Track:

  1. MyFitness Pal
    This app contains the largest food database of any calorie counter with over 6,000,000 foods to select from.  Other than calories, MyFitness Pal tracks fat, protein, carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, cholesterol, and much more.  It allows users to connect over 50 devices and apps, such as Fitbit and MapMyFitness.  Once connected, the user can track their diet and exercise in less than 5 minutes per day.  In total, MyFitness Pal members have lost nearly 200 million pounds.

    MyFitness Pal is available for free on iOS and Android.

  2. FIT Radio
    FIT Radio Workout Music provides you with non-stop, high energy playlists of all genres designed to motivate your workout.  The music never stops, not even for ads and the company uploads new mixes daily so you never have to listen to the same playlist twice.  The app contains over 45 genres and stations, including your own customizable station.  FIT Radio was nominated as one of the Top 7 Music Apps in the world by readers of Mashable.

    FIT Radio is available for free on iOS and Android.

  3. Water Drink Reminder
    Let’s face it, most of us don’t drink as much water as we should be drinking throughout the day.  This #1 health app in over 30 countries prompts users to enter their current weight then helps determine how much water they need every day.  More importantly, it reminds the person to drink water every day and to develop good water drinking habits as well.

    Water Drink Reminder is available for free on Android.  A similar app called Daily Water Free is available for free on iOS.

  4. Couch to 5K
    This often imitated program helps thousands of new runners go from couch potato to crossing the finish line in just a matter of weeks.  It allows users to log and share their workouts, sync with playlists, and track distance/pace with GPS.  Human audio cues motivate and guide you through each workout.  The goal is to train for just 20 to 30 minutes, 3 times a week for 9 weeks, and you’ll be ready to finish your first 5K race! 

    Couch to 5K is available for $1.99 on iOS and Android.

  5. Sworkit
    Sworkit offers exercisers personalized workouts that fit their schedule and their goals.  Users have the ability to choose from strength, cardio, yoga, and stretching exercises in order to create custom workouts using the exercise library provided.  With no gym required, or no equipment needed, work outs can be accomplished using the app anytime, anywhere.  Many fitness apps limit workouts until upgrading, but not Sworkit.  You get to enjoy all the free workouts Sworkit has to offer and then choose to upgrade to Sworkit Premium at your leisure.

    Side note: Sworkit was featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank” on February 19, 2016, where Mark Cuban decided to invest $1.5 million into the company.

    Sworkit is available for free on iOS and Android.

Give us a call at 248-353-9030, or email, to let us know if there is a health and fitness app you think we should add to this list, or if you want input on your mobile strategy.

Mobile Apps

8 Steps to Make Sure Your App Succeeds

By: Bob Kernen

We saw an article from “Business Insider” with the disturbing headline, The App Explosion Is Over.  Since we have a lot invested in the space, it got our attention. Beyond the provocative headline, the point of the article is that growth in the mobile application space has leveled off – the average number of apps used by a typical smartphone owner has been around 27 for the past four years.

Concurrently, the article points out that the time spent using those apps continues to steadily increase, from a monthly average of 18:18 in 2011 to 40:51 today.

The app “explosion” may be over, but that’s okay. Explosions are messy and chaotic and cause a lot of damage.  What it really means is that consumers are more discriminating than ever, and to be one of those 27 apps, you will have to meet their high expectations for utility and performance. Your app must do the job it was “hired” to do well, day in and day out.

As the creators of around 1,000 apps over the past 7+ years, we’ve learned a lot about what makes a great one.

Here is what you need to do to succeed in this less frenetic, but more lucrative space:

  1. Have a strategy.  Sounds basic, but your app needs a strategy just like your station does. A mission for your app takes the guesswork out of mobile.
  2. Excel at one thing and deliver an outstanding user experience.  If the quality of your stream is suspect, or ad insertion is buggy, you are giving listeners a reason to go elsewhere.  Streaming is the number one reason radio apps are used, so make sure it’s loud, clear, and performs without interruptions.
  3. Provide reasons for every day use.  People use Facebook to check in to see what’s happening.  Your apps should provide similar value.  Publish and promote new content and events each day. Be more than a streaming utility. Be a part of your audience’s daily routine.
  4. Provide engagement.  Don’t think of the smartphone as just a receiver. It’s the digital hub of a listener’s life and can distribute content as well as receive.  Ensure that your app easily shares content like podcasts and videos on social media.  Make the app a way for listeners to communicate with your station personalities. Features like Open Mic and video sharing can feed audio and videos directly to you.
  5. Promote it.  Most stations promote their app for the first few weeks after it goes live and then move onto other things. This is a mistake. The app needs to be continuously promoted, and the message needs to be more than just “download our app to hear our station.”  Promote the tangible benefits of your app – “take us on vacation,” “listen at work,” or “use the alarm to wake up with our morning show.” 
  6. Streamline it.  Apps that deliver and don’t clutter themselves with unimportant functionality or “cool” design perform the best. 
  7. Metrics don’t lie.  Your stream, on-demand content, and social media will probably dominate.  Everything else resides in the “long tail.”
  8. Find your secret sauce.  What is unique about your station that can be transformed into a great app experience?  KISW in Seattle has created the “Magic 9-Ball” where users can shake the app to get answers to quirky questions like “Why I didn’t text you back.” 

Whether or not the app explosion is over, smartphones are the dominant way your audience accesses information.  Their phones are always with them, and your station should be too.

We can help you design a great app, adapt one you’re currently using, or help you with mobile app strategy, so don’t hesitate to connect with us.  The bar is rising, and it’s important that brands step up in the mobile app space.

If you want input on your mobile strategy, or want to learn more about monetizing your mobile assets give us a call at 248-353-9030, or email