Pooch is a mobile at that connects dog owners while out and about walking their dogs.
As part of a mobile media module at university I had to develop a number of deliverables. These were:
- Rational report for a mobile app, which included Research (competitor analysis and market research) a proposal and a feature list.
- Risk analysis and Mitigation
- Functional Prototype
- Illustrator (Concepts,Wireframes and Visual design)
- Axure (prototype)
Mobile technology has changed the way we as individuals connect and communicate online. It has created a shift from a static desktop culture to one of a more remote and dynamic culture that has resulted in a constant connection online. Ofcom media (2014) states that “the proportion of adults who personally own/use a mobile phone in the UK is 93%”. This figure shows the huge market for mobile devices, which in turn has created an even bigger demand for mobile applications. Pooch will be a mobile application concept for dog walking. This concept is one that is ideal on a mobile platform due to the remoteness of dog walking and the GPS features which many smartphones offer today.
- Uses GPS feature to track and monitor dog walks
- Responsive website rather than an app. This suggests that use of an app of this kind might not be completely mobile based.
- There is not a big social aspect of this app and its about finding dog walkers rather than walking your own dog and connecting with others.
- Location-based feature uses a gamification format intended to engage users. (Users can collect points by marking there territory in the physical world).
- The the design of the app is a very predated and the structure is a bit multifaceted.
- The name "Hipancake" is one that is not clear and does not represent the nature of the app.
- Push notifications show offers from pet retailers and allows you to check into a location.
- A hamburger menu is used for navigation of this app.
Market research was conducted over a period of a week at different parks in a local area. 25 Interviews were conducted to find out the target Audience views of the app where questions were asked to dog walkers. The interviewees were then asked to come along to a focus group two weeks later, which was focused on the design of the app. The results were as follows:
Interviews: (Age range between 17-64)
The majority of interviewees used social networks on a daily basis & like the general concept of the app. The interviews showed the features they favoured included:
- Being able to tailor the profile to their dog
- the use of push notifications would be very useful if they lost there dog or to know when other dogs are near them.
- the location timeout feature was essential and would give them more trust in the app.
- the idea of being able to add owners and dogs to an account.
- The green and brown colour scheme worked well and clearly represents the nature of the app.
- A pattern of some kind as part of the background was suggested.
- The original font colour (black) was not clear on the green and brown background and therefore has been changed to white.
- A three-line (hamburger) menu was seen as a modern and clean navigational system, which will work well within the app. A few participants also suggested a tab menu at the bottom of the page.
- Several logos were shown and the idea of a bone incorporated into a letter was seen as a clever artistic approach.
The proposed product is a Dog walking Mobile application. The concept is for dog owners to use the app and to create a profile for there dog so that they can connect with other dogs while out walking through a GPS location feature embed into the app.
“Using GPS provides an unprecedented level of control over mobile units from a centralized location”(Ingram, 2014). It is suggested here that being able to track the location of others gives a person more control over there life and certain choices they take. This will therefore mean pooch will allow you to have more control over what dogs you will bump into during your walk as you will be able to know what dogs are walking near you at the same time. This could be useful for a number of reasons, like trying to avoid a dog or to connect with a dog that you regularly bump into. The aim is to make dog walking a more socially regarded activity especially with the rise of social networks that play a huge role in our lives today. Online communities are key to create a successful user base. Wellman et al (2001) states this as “Community commitment: ‘When people have a strong attitude toward community-have a motivated, responsible sense of belonging-they will mobilise their social capital more willingly and effectively’ (McAdam, 1982)”. This therefore suggests that building a community online can increase users and user participation and therefore Pooch will provide a platform of a community online of dog owners wanting to be more social using a mobile app to connect users and there dogs together.
A feature that is popular amongst mobile application is the use of push notifications. This feature is defined as, “Push notification is conceptually an event-based mechanism where remote servers push events, as and when they occur, to smartphone client apps”(Push Notification Mechanisms for Pervasive Smartphone Applications, 2014). This feature grabs a users attention as they are notified about a certain event that has happened. Within my proposed application Pooch will be using push notifications to alert a user to certain situations. This is a feature that can act as a USP of the app along with the GPS feature as users will receive live notifications of who is near them as well as a location timeout warning and a lost dog feature which pushes a message out to all users in a close radius.
- User profile: The user profile will made up of the Dogs username, name and breed and the owners name and email address. Users which are friends on pooch will be able to see when each other is planning on going for a walk as it will be displayed on a users profile.
- Geo location: This will be used to view other dogs near a user. A user location will only be public when they state they are walking by setting their planned walk time and location. A user can change the length of time their location will show for in there settings.
- Push notifications: These will be used to notify a user if a Friend is near and also if a users location is about to timeout, which can be extended if there still on there walk. There will also be a feature that allows for a push notification message to be sent out to alert all users in a close radius if a user loses their dog while on a walk. Once a user base has been accumulated Pooch will also use push notifications to send out offers to its users from pet retailers. This will therefore provide a useful marketing platform for pet goods and revenue can be generated from this.
- Discover: Users can view other dogs that have recently been at a location and also ones that are currently at a location.
- Instant messaging: Users can message their friends instantly so that they can plan to go for walks together or to just communicate in general.
- Friends: A users friends can be viewed from the friend page and users can add friends on this page by either searching for another user or scanning a users barcode so that it’s easier to add friends while out walking. Users can accept or ignore a friend request on there homepage.
- Multi Owner/Dogs: When a user adds another owner/dog to an account, a family username will be generated. This will therefore mean that all the dogs and owners of one family are under one account. The family username will be displayed to the public on the accounts profile page.
Risk analysis and mitigation
LOCATION SERVICES (PRIVACY)
Pooch will use a smartphones internal GPS to determine the location of the phones user so that it can be displayed to other users while out on a walk. Location services are a hugely beneficial feature but they also bring privacy issues. “While location-based services (LBSs) offer significant opportunities for a broad range of markets, they present users significant privacy threats” (Xu and Cai, 2009). This therefore suggests that certain measures have to be in place to insure the privacy of our users is protected.
- To make sure that the location services used on pooch are solely used to find other dogs and not used in any inappropriate way, there will be a location timeout feature where after a certain period the location of a user will turn off.
- Your location will only be public once you state your going for a walk and the period of time your location will be on for can be set based on users preference through your settings.
- Users can also choose to hide their location from specific users. This will give users more control over who they bump into at the park.
Data protection is something that is a vital aspect for platforms that require users to provide information to be able to sign up, create a profile and share with other users. “A high level of data protection is essential to foster people’s trust in online services and in the digital economy in general. Privacy concerns are among the top reasons for people not buying goods and services online” (Ec.europa.eu, 2015). For users to trust the service in which they sign up for certain regulations have to be in place to reinsure users that there data will be kept safe.
- Pooch will ensure that all of our users data will be kept securely, up to date and only be stored for as long as needed.
- The rights of the user will also be taken into account when the data is processed. A user agreement will be presented to the user on sign up to ensure that they are clear for the reasons why we need this data and how we are going to use it.
- We will also give a user the option to delete any data they feel they don’t want Pooch to have anymore.
- To abide by the Data Protection Act 1998 Pooch will also provide the information commissions office with the data gathered by Pooch of its users.
NETWORK AND INTERNET CONNECTION/COVERAGE
For a mobile application that uses GPS as a key features, being connected and having network coverage is essential for an app to work and run smoothly. Due to the fact that it will be used mostly in parks, some areas may provide a lack of network coverage and Internet connection and therefore this could result in issues when using the app.
- As users can plan when they are going to walk before they have set out on a walk, users can then view the planned location of there friends on the app even without a connection.
- Pooch will also use peer-to-peer network that will allow users to use feature’s without a network connection.
- Apple iOS 7 has a feature called Multipeer Connectivity Framework (MCF), which lets you send messages without a network connection. “Multipeer Connectivity is a framework that enables nearby devices to communicate over infrastructure Wi-Fi networks, peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth personal area networks. Connected peers are able securely transmit messages, streams, or file resources to other devices without going through an intermediary web service” (Thompson, 2015).
- This will mean that even if a user does not have a network/internet connection and therefore cannot see another users location while out on a walk, they can still communicate with other users and still use the app as a connection tool.
BUDGET, MANPOWER AND TIMESCALE
The research, concept and design of the app has been completed by myself and therefore the cost involved to complete these first steps of creating a mobile app would be nothing. However for this app to be successfully released and to become available on both the app store and Google play it would need to be built by a team of professional mobile application developers. It is hard to put an estimated cost of the build of the app, as it will be based of the time spent by the developers.
- Investors can be found to provide funding for the build of the mobile application
- Developers can receive shares as payment for the build to cut down expenses.
- The design and concept is already in place and therefore the costs have already been cut considerably.
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WELLMAN, B., HAASE, A., WITTE, J. and HAMPTON, K. (2001). Does the Internet Increase, Decrease, or Supplement Social Capital?: Social Networks, Participation, and Community Commitment. American Behavioral Scientist, 45(3), pp.436-455.
McAdam, D. (1982). Political process and the development of Black insurgency 1930-1970. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Push Notification Mechanisms for Pervasive Smartphone Applications. (2014). IEEE Pervasive Comput., 13(2), pp.61-71.
RISK ANALYSIS AND MITIGATION BIBLIOGRAPHY
Xu, T. and Cai, Y. (2009). Feeling-based location privacy protection for location-based services. Proceedings of the 16th ACM conference on Computer and communications security - CCS '09.Thompson, M. (2015).
[online] Nshipster.com. Available at: http://nshipster.com/multipeer-connectivity/ [Accessed 5 Jan.
2015].Ec.europa.eu, (2015). Protection of personal data - Justice. [online] Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/index_en.htm [Accessed 5 Jan. 2015].