A Smarter Virtual Tour App for iPad: Whitepoint 2.1

The next version of the Whitepoint smart tour viewer app for iPad and iPhone is now available in the App Store. Specifically, it looks great on iPad, and the potential for smarter virtual and on-site touring is particularly noticeable in that larger format.

Improvements Over the Previous App for iPad and iPhone

The latest version of the Whitepoint app for iPad and iPhone improves substantially on the layout and stability of the previous (and first!) version. However, there are some noticeable feature enhancements:

  • A grid view of featured scapes – smart tours – on the main screen.
  • A breakdown of available scapes by category – such as museums, travel, real estate, resorts, or educational facilities.

Potential Uses for a Smarter Tour App for iPad

Whitepoint tour app for iPad running on iOS 7.1

Here’s a screenshot of the new Whitepoint tour app for iPad running on iOS 7.1.

As mentioned earlier, the iPad format is particularly promising for self-guided tours of sights, exhibitions, and amusements. Whether an iPad is provided for visitors or they bring their own, it makes a lot of sense for providing more meaningful experiences.

Visitors can of course download the app for iPad or for iPhone and manage the touring completely on their own.

And, if they have an Android phone or Android tablet, that’s OK too. We have them covered with our Android app.

A Future Enhancement

Our Android app already features the “Save Scape” feature – meaning that users can download and save a smart tour to a mobile device rather than rely on a web connection. This is especially helpful in spaces without wifi, poor mobile connectivity, or when crowds bog down connectivity.

Users will see this “save scape” capability soon in our app for iPad and iPhone.

Happy #whitepointing!

Have you used the app for iPad or on an iPhone? Tell us what you think – what you like and what you don’t like.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

The Search for an Online Mobile App Builder

Many businesses want their own custom mobile app. We’ve talked about custom tour apps before on our blog, and there is just something about having your very own app.  In fact, businesses want that app, and they want it now. Ideally, an online mobile app builder would make the process a lot less painful.

Let’s Say a Tool Claims To Be An Online Mobile App Builder . . .

Having your own mobile app requires a number of steps in not only development, but also in the developer account setup and management, app maintenance, and then promotion of that app.

For our purposes here, let’s focus on the development. One tool out there – called PhoneGap – does make it easier to build a basic mobile app. But, it does require scripting, so you are going to need a developer. And, if you’re going to attempt to do anything more than just a simple brochure app, it’s going to get complicated. Quickly.

Our past experience in and around Whitepoint is that you can quickly outgrow PhoneGap. And, once you do outgrow PhoneGap, you may find that having attempted native development from the beginning may have been more productive. Not to knock PhoneGap completely – the framework is easily understood and great for building a simple mobile app.

But, if you’re not a programmer, you may not realize that there are different stages of development. First of course, there’s coding. Then, there’s compiling. PhoneGap launched in recent years the PhoneGap Build cloud service which can greatly simplify this process.

However, when most think of an online mobile app builder, that’s not exactly what they have in mind.

What Kind of Mobile Presence Is Your Business Looking For?

Is Your Business Going Mobile and Looking for an Online Mobile App Builder?

If your business is going mobile, you may be looking for a quick way to do so, like an online mobile app builder. If so, keep some ideas in mind . . .

A lot of businesses and marketing teams simply need to point to a mobile app to say they have one. And that’s understandable. However, it may be more productive to think in terms of establishing a mobile presence, and that can mean more than just having your own app.

There are a lot of factors to consider when establishing and maintaining a mobile presence – why not look at it as a step by step process and establish a broader strategy for going mobile?

At Whitepoint, we’re a kind of mobile virtual tour provider – offering our free framework to help businesses build smart tours for mobile and establish a mobile presence that way. We do have an online interface for building your smart tour. But, we take the hassles out of coding, managing, and maintaining your own dedicated app.

Not quite an online mobile app builder per se, but it’s well worth including in your search for one.

Maybe you know of an online mobile app builder alternative we could feature here . . . if so, tell us about it. Comment below. While you’re at it, why not get started authoring with Whitepoint today?

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

Right This Way: Managing Tour Content for the Mobile Web

Tour content management is part of a broader content management strategy for web designers and marketers. If you’re in charge of managing images and accompanying text for web or mobile tours of a museum, gallery, real estate, or other similar project, it probably makes up the bulk of your routine duties. It might also make up for the bulk of your headaches.

Why? There are a number of reasons, not least of which are image specifications, alt texts, and of course the constant creation of quality content.

In managing Whitepoint tour content ourselves and helping others build tours for the mobile web, we’ve developed some thoughts on best practices and tools that can help along the way.

Tour Content = Lots of Images

First off, tour content – and we mean good tour content – means lots of images.

And, not everyone is a graphic designer or photographer. Because of that, we’ve made some recommendations on free or low cost photo and graphics editing tools in a past blog post.

But, Tour Content Also Equals Relevant Images

More and more, with relevance and freshness of content being a key search engine optimization factor, tour content is logically affected as well. How fresh are your images? It isn’t just about having lots of images. It’s also about having relevant images.

Whitepoints on college campus tour content.

Tour content from this college campus tour shows whitepoints plotted on a beautiful spring landscape.

Maybe you manage an online tour of a college campus. Do prospective students want to see the winter landscape of your academic quad year-round? Try always updating with your most season appropriate image.

If you’re in real estate, providing an autumnal image of the property probably isn’t a good idea if the property is still on the market the following summer.

Tour Content Can Also Include Those Filenames Too

Adopting a method for image file naming is a great idea for two reasons. First, it makes photos easier to organize. Secondly, they become even more search engine friendly once posted.

So what’s a good way to do it? Some is personal preference, but try to stick with a method that will serve both organizational and SEO purposes. For a fictional university campus we’ll call UWP, let’s say you’ve got images for the student cafe, Briggs building, and tennis courts. Try this method:

Cafe-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Briggs-Building-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Tennis-UWP-Campus-Tour.jpg

Yes, the dashes between words make a difference for your SEO purposes.

If you go with the above method, just place them in a folder called “UWP Campus Tour” when you manage multiple projects. You may even use that same folder with dashes if you’re uploading the whole thing.

As far as the organization goes, you can thank us later.

And Of Course, Text Content Management

If you manage tour content of any kind, you probably find that you routinely use the same snippets of text over and over again. On Mac, one thing we’ve found that helps is a nifty little tool called Flycut. This tool helps you manage your clipboard, archiving a history that you can easily call from and drop.

For Windows, gHacks has interesting recommendations on a tool called Clipjump.

Don’t Forget Mobile

It should go without saying, but many traditional organizations still don’t understand the impact of mobile. Lots of industries have more mobile users than desktop users, and some vice versa. But, no industry is spared from the impact of mobile.

Whatever you do, make sure first of all that you’re able to keep your image file size down. It’s best if you can offer a mobile-friendly version of the tour. If so, this will impact your image file choices. You may even keep separate versions for both desktop and mobile.

Be sure to test your tour content on multiple mobile devices – iPhones, Android phones, tablets, iPads . . . on and on. Formatting for so many different devices is tricky and time consuming. Luckily, a tour content management framework like Whitepoint may have already done this for you. Images can be optimized automatically as well, with little or no perceived loss in image quality.

And, needless to say, if you are managing tour content, you can use every bit of help and every single time saver.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

Of Course! A Look at the PGA Tour App

The PGA tour app has about 500,000+ downloads for Android alone. Now, that’s a successful app. Most organizations would kill to have this kind of marketing tool (and following). While development of a tour app on this scale isn’t practical for most, there are ways to get similar results.

Just About Everything a PGA Audience Wants

Mobile content in main screen of PGA Tour app.

Lots of mobile content in the PGA Tour app will keep gold fans engaged. Screenshot from Google Play.

The main PGA tour app tab provides up-to-the-minute stats and standings, news, highlights, and links to interviews.

It even provides weather information for the course. As this is being written, it is 68° in Lake Forest, IL: The home Conway Farms Golf Club and host of the BMW Championship.

There is an impressive amount of relevant content. It gives golf fans what they want – and lots of it.

The PGA Tour App’s Live Mobile Map

The app’s live mobile map of courses on the tour utilizes Google Maps to provide the classic map view connecting the tee and the green at each hole. And, layers are available to help visitors navigate – locating everything from ATMs to restrooms.

The mobile maps are a strength of the PGA tour app, but it begs two questions:

Launch a top down map view perspective in PGA Tour app.

You can launch a top down map view perspective of each hole in the PGA Tour app. Screenshot taken from Google Play.

  1. How does the mapping perform while on site? It is safe to assume that clogged bandwidth would be an issue if maps aren’t stored locally.
  2. Google Maps is pretty limiting in this instance both in perspective (more about this below) and directions on how exactly you get to that ATM or restroom.It gives you a decent idea of about where . . . but, good luck finding that restroom in a crowd. With a full bladder.

You’re Not Sponsored by Nike Golf?

Needless to say we’re talking about a pretty strong marketing budget that produces the PGA Tour app. It’s presented by Nike Golf.

What does it take for an app like this? You’re looking at countless hours of development and ongoing maintenance of the app. And, don’t forget content. After all, it has a use and relevance almost all year round.

An app and development of this scale isn’t necessary for 99% of businesses and nonprofits. But, there is much to be learned by smaller organizations from the way it’s done and what information it provides.

So, you don’t need a PGA tour app, but you need something in terms of an app . . . just what is that something?

  • Relevant, up-to-date information – The PGA Tour app does this really well with multiple feeds of high quality content. But, they’re not the only ones that have or can access fresh content. What content is your audience interested in? How regularly is it generated?
  • Ability to interact, explore, and discover – The PGA Tour app provides jumping off points for more detail and information about the things people care about. It’s useful. Your organization probably has similar resources that can be easily linked or called upon.
  • Relevant information to visitors, whether they are physically there or not – For visitors that need to find an ATM or restroom, the PGA Tour app can help. For audience that isn’t, they get a decent overview of the course and surroundings. What have you found in your organization that customers and visitors care most about? What do they need most when on site? It might be as simple as the fact that your restrooms have diaper changing tables. Parents, you understand this.

Never forget that what you care about and what your audience cares about aren’t always the same thing.

Different Perspectives

A view of a space – be it a golf course or museum – is important to visitors and attractive to those that might visit in the future. The live mobile map aspect of the PGA Tour app is of particular interest here at Whitepoint, because it illustrates the difference in perspectives in mapping and navigation.

Rather than the traditional top down map view of a space, maybe you should provide users a point-of-view perspective. How interesting would the mobile maps of the PGA courses be from that viewpoint?

Golden Gate Whitepoint Tour App Point of View

Here’s a point of view perspective in Whitepoint of the visitor plaza at the Golden Gate Bridge. A top down map view just wouldn’t be as effective.

In a smaller museum space, rather than a top down view of the facility, how about the point of view walking through the space? What you see in the app is what you see in your visit. This perspective is easily captured with a smartphone camera, or from more advanced camera equipment if you wish.

The free Whitepoint framework provides this option in perspective for building your mobile tour.

Details. Details. Details.

Finally, as mapping evolves and the demand for apps like the PGA Tour app grows, users are becoming hungrier for details. For example, what’s the historical significance of that hole on that course? What are pointers that pro golfers could recommend about a particular sandtrap?

Your organization has similar areas of interest. The pieces in a museum exhibition are an easy example. But, think of retail items in a store or the nutritional content of items on a menu. What can you share with users and visitors that will make their experience more compelling and encourage them to share it with others?

Detail is important. It’s becoming a part of generating quality content. And, it can make decent images far more compelling. Luckily, you don’t have to have the PGA Tour app budget to make it happen.

What’s your perspective on the above? Let us know with a comment below. And, to get started with a mobile tour experience, visit Whitepoint’s Getting Started page.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

Building a Mobile Museum App: Five Things to Consider

Mobile museum apps are in the news quite a bit. And often, it is the lack of an app that gets attention. In research we’ve done at Whitepoint, we’ve made some interesting discoveries that might help as organizations approach building mobile museum apps.

Here are a few of them:

1) What is the purpose of your mobile museum app?

Are you looking to attract new visitors? Are you looking to engage visitors once inside? Is the app purely an educational tool with the side benefit of generating new interest?

This answer is important, because its affects the design and development of your mobile museum app.

2) Is the app just for the outside world or does it serve a purpose inside your museum?

Depending on your answer to question number one, you may in fact need multiple apps or at least a very flexible single one. Does it work as a museum guide? If not, are you just developing another version of your existing web site?

3) Expense, both upfront and ongoing.

As we detailed in an earlier post on building a custom app, there are tremendous expenses upfront – and not just in the development of the app. Again, depending on your answers to numbers one and two, you may incur marketing-related expenses as well. Plan on that. Maybe even find a way to experiment before diving in.

4) Curatorial voice and updating.

Once you build a custom mobile museum app, the work is just beginning. Is there content? What kind is it? Who writes it? Does anyone want to write it? Are you just formatting a copy of your web site to upload in Google Play and the App Store?

You’ve got to keep the content fresh.

5) iOS and Android

The arts community, for example, has a clear affinity for iPhones and iPads. We’re not sure if paleontologists though are big Android people. Maybe they are. There are lots of things to consider regarding your development platform, but keep in mind who your target audience is.

If you’re targeting new visitors outside your walls and you’re in the arts, maybe Android is a good place to start. If you’re providing the tablets or iPads to deliver your mobile museum app in house, Android tablets are a lot cheaper to provide. Maybe your space is small, and a single kiosk makes sense.

Regardless, the adoption trajectory for Android is such that it must not be ignored – even though you might prefer iOS.

Happy #whitepointing.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather

How to Make a Slideshow for Mobile Devices

We talk a great deal on this blog about mobile tours and mobile-friendly virtual tours. However, building a slideshow is still one of the most basic needs for web developers and content producers.  In an earlier post, we discussed how to make a slideshow for artist or creative portfolios. Here, let’s look at even more general slideshow capability.

Slideshow Flexibility

How to make a slideshow for a student using an iPad

More content is being consumed on mobile. Here’s how to make a slideshow that meets those new demands. Image copyright: mettus / 123RF Stock Photo.

A simple example of a slideshow is a group of photos that users can navigate. For example, the photos could be of a hotel or conference center. A traveler blogger might want to share the unique sights of a boutique, without a lot of additional details. The hotel or conference center owner might want to provide a simple way for visitors to quickly view images of what the space looks like.

In addition, both may want to provide this information in some kind of logical format, or to have greater control over updating the images frequently.

Slideshows and Mobile Devices

Opening a slideshow from the web in a mobile browser can be an unpredictable experience. For marketers especially, this has complicated the whole idea of delivering a slideshow. Additionally, making images easily accessible on a web site while making the content mobile-friendly requires something other than what the big three (four or five?) social media tools provide.

For example, if you want to upload pictures and make those pictures simultaneously available via public links on your web site as well as to mobile device users, that can be problematic and may require multiple, separate uploads of the same images. That’s painful.

How To Make a Slideshow Easily Using Whitepoint

The Whitepoint framework provides a lot of capabilities that go beyond the basic slideshow. That’s good, because you can grow into it later if you want to simply start with a basic slideshow for now.

For our purposes here, the slides in a slideshow are what we refer to as scenes in Whitepoint. The slideshow itself is what we refer to as a scape.

Basically, when using Whitepoint, you’re uploading photos and naming those photos. You can get fancier – much fancier – later if you want.

How to Make a Slideshow in Whitepoint Authoring

How to make a slideshow in the Whitepoint Authoring Panel: Scenes can be re-ordered with drag and drop.

  • Scenes (slides) can be easily re-ordered using the scene tile layout in Whitepoint’s Authoring Panel. Just drag and drop them.
  • Scenes (slides) can be easily updated at any time – just go to that scene and update the photo.
  • You can link to the slideshow from your web site. A simple code snippet that Whitepoint provides is all that is required.
  • Once the scape (slideshow) is live, your updates push immediately to the free Whitepoint mobile app for Android or iOS. All interested users need to do is download the free app to access it.
  • If the web site link to the scape is provided, updated content pushes immediately to both the app and desktop-based viewer.
  • If a mobile user tries to access the scape via your web site, they will be prompted to download the app if they don’t have it already. They download it once and can access other scapes this way . . . this helps drive new users to your slideshow as well.

A Few Final Tips on How to Make a Slideshow

You’ll want a good overview image to introduce your Whitepoint slideshow – we call this a scape image. It is the image that represents your scape and draws attention to it among lists of other scapes.

You’ll also want a basic introductory sentence or two – a summary for your scape.

Finally, each scene (slide) will need a name.

That’s it – you can be up and running in no time with a very effective slideshow using Whitepoint and accessible from your existing web site.

Get started building your slideshow with Whitepoint today. There are YouTube tutorials on authoring and an easy breakdown of features in our subscription plans with quick subscription setup.

Happy #whitepointing.

Updated July 28, 2016.

Matthew White

Matthew White blogs on all things related to virtual tours, mobile touring, and tour apps as well as how they relate to web design, SEO, and content marketing. There is also of course helpful information on using Whitepoint - the framework for smarter virtual touring and mobile-friendly tours.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmailby feather