App Localization Case Study: Etchings Goes Global

etchings_language

Apple is a big fan of internationalization and localization and encourages developers to translate their apps into many languages. While it’s clearly good to make your apps available to a larger audience, it doesn’t come for free. Localizing and translating your app is hard work, and you want to be sure it will pay off.
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Event Marketing On The Go: Bringing Artists & Fans Together

ECMA_Screeshot_homeIn partnership with the East Coast Music Association, MindSea designed and launched an innovative app for iPhone and Android music fans. This case study describes how we worked together and what we accomplished.

The East Coast Music Association (ECMA) has a unique mission: to foster, develop, promote and celebrate East Coast Music and its artists locally, regionally, nationally, and interna- tionally. Its Eastlink East Coast Music Week has grown to become a must-attend event
in the Canadian music scene and includes a five day festival, an industry conference, and awards show.

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Infographic: From Mobile Pitch To Market Success

How do you go from mobile pitch to app store success? There’s no single formula, but you can increase your odds of a winning app by following our infographic roadmap and downloading our App Design Checklist.
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Etchings 1.5 – Smoother Lines Through Science

We love the images that Etchings 1.0 produces, but for some types of photos there were a few things that just didn’t feel right. Here is a sample image that Etchings 1.0 works very well on, but has a few of these odd effects.

Shuttle Launch, Etchings 1.0click to enlarge

Notice how the sky in the top right is segmented and feels almost posterized. Similarly, some of the etching lines in the lower left corner are distracting due to their abrupt ends.

Now have a look at the same image processed with Etchings 1.5. Much nicer! To achieve this look we needed to start from scratch and come up with a new way of etching. We ended up with a technique that is much more flexible and allows fine-grained control over the entire process. We can now adjust line thickness, colour, tapering, direction and density of the lines for each level of brightness.

Shuttle Launch, Etchings 1.5

We adjusted these attributes to smooth out the line transitions in the mid-tones of images to avoid a posterized appearance. We also added tapers to lines so that they don’t stop as abruptly. This eliminated a lot of artifacts in areas that had rapid brightness changes. The result is that transitions from shadows look smoother and have more depth, and photos of smooth surfaces such as glass, water, and everyday objects will have much a more natural look.

Here are some comparison shots of the top-right and bottom-left corners of our shuttle image where you can see these enhancements have changed the feel of the image significantly.

ShuttleComparison_2
On the left, the gradient in the sky is broken into three separate intensities by Etchings 1.0, producing hard lines cutting across the sky that just aren’t there in the original image. On the right you can see the results of the new smooth tapers; this follows the original image much more closely and reduces the posterization effect considerably.

Shuttle_bottomLeft1.0
On the left, the billowing plumes of exhaust there are some rapid transitions between light and dark; this is almost completely gone on the right. Also, in Etchings 1.0, some subtle noise in the original image causes speckled patterns in the etching lines. (Click on the image to see a larger version.) While we haven’t totally eliminated this effect in 1.5, the lines look much more natural throughout this area.

As a result of our new etching technique we can also start to experiment with different line styles and engraving techniques. Here is an example that uses a circular line pattern instead of waves.

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Pretty cool, huh? We plan on rolling out new line styles in Etchings 2.0, so stay tuned!

Etchings update adds new filters, improved output and iPad support

EtchingsiPadMarketingShotHalifax, Canada, December 13, 2012 — The latest version of Etchings
allows users to create even more impressive works of art from any photo. The app now emulates etching and engraving techniques even more beautifully, with richer lines, higher-resolution output and many more options to experiment with. Etchings now supports eight languages and takes full advantage of the larger screens available on iPad and iPhone 5.

The incredibly supportive Etchings user community have been vocal both in their love for the unique effects the app can create as well as the new features they wanted to see. Users asked for higher-resolution output: the new version of the app can export the original image size exactly (up to 3300×3300 px). Etchings enthusiasts wanted more options for their photos, and the latest version allows the user to fine-tune the brightness and contrast of the source image, and includes four stunning new filters.

ScreenshotWeb_1“We’ve been awed by the incredible demand for Etchings, which is why we’re very pleased
to give our loyal users just what they need to make even more amazing works of art. We’re especially happy to let our customers experience the app in their native language and on their favourite devices,” said Bill Wilson, the leader of the team behind Etchings.

In addition to the free improvements, Etchings now includes six brand-new handcrafted filters in the Florence FX Pack, which you can purchase from within the app for just $0.99 USD or local equivalent. From the soft tones of the “Alice” filter to the funky rainbow “Sorbet” filter, this pack opens up even more possibilities to amaze your Instagram followers.
Etchings 1.5 is now available worldwide on the App Store for $0.99 USD or local equivalent. Etchings is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices running iOS 5.0 and later.

Please visit http://www.etchingsapp.com/ for more information, screenshots and samples.

iPad App Case Study: CanaDream Club

This year, MindSea created an iPad app for CanaDream, one of Canada’s largest Recreational Vehicle rental companies. We’d like to share some insights into our process for designing the app to meet CanaDream’s goals, for the interest of other developers and potential clients.

The Project

CanaDream has spent years creating a cross-country network of partners who can offer discounts to their customers through the CanaDream Club. But they were missing a way to make it quick and simple for their Club Members to take a suggested tour or find their partners’ hotels, campgrounds, and attractions while on the road. Having to book over the phone or ahead of time online made it harder for renters to “indulge their spontaneity,” in the words of their marketing and communications director, Kerry Worth.

The challenge of the project Kerry brought to MindSea was to make it as fluid as possible to search through CanaDream’s numerous suggested tours and their Club Partners’ hundreds of discount offers. The app would have to replicate the functionality and branding of their website, while being simple and intuitive to use on an iPad.

CanaDreamAttractions

Our Strategy

In keeping with our user-centred design approach, we focused on key use cases throughout development, designing the app around RV renters’ needs and limitations. Through close consultation with Kerry, we created a set of features that combine to make the app useful and accessible:

CanaDreamTour

• A map displays CanaDream’s suggested trip routes, can provide directions to the accommodations and attractions, and shows the user’s location using GPS.

CanaDreamDetail

• Within the app, users can view current information, pricing and availability for nearby Club Partner attractions — and go straight to booking with them. This integrates with the existing system on CanaDream’s website, letting you save and review booking vouchers.

• An account login/logout system facilitates the booking process and protects user data on the rented iPads.

The Results

CanaDream has received great feedback from customers about the app. According to Kerry, “we get a lot of positive comments about the interface… it has a real “wow” factor…. It’s just a very elegant, slick presentation.” The iPad rental program provides a unique way for CanaDream to stand out in their industry and provide a better service.

For her part, Kerry appreciated our hands-on approach to design. We actively worked with her throughout the process, explaining what tradeoffs of budget and functionality came with one decision or another. During development, she was kept in the loop through Basecamp project management software, weekly conference calls, and video demos explaining significant new features. She told us she felt comfortable about the state of the app throughout: “Whether I was getting this video, or the phone call, or looking at Basecamp, I knew exactly where things were at.”

The satisfaction was mutual. We’re grateful to have clients like CanaDream that understand their customers and want to provide a better experience for them. And we’re pleased as ever to be able to create useful tools that make people’s lives easier and more fun.

Get ready for the iPad!

According to stats form Flurry Analytics, there is a significant spike in iPad App development which has more than tripled since December! It looks like we’re in for some great new and redesigned apps for the iPad in the very near future.

Preorder sales for the iPad are estimated at 50,000 units in the first two hours in the US alone. We think this is great news! The iPad looks as if it is going to be both fun to use and interesting to work with from a development perspective. We anticipate more opportunities to grow in the app market with lots of potential for great apps that take advantage of the new possibilities the iPad presents.

MindSea makes beautiful, integrated mobile apps. Find out how.

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