Swapit Update: Sell with your iPhone (second hand and new)

swapit-blog_appleAfter launching our very first version of Swapit on the Apple App Store a while ago, and numerous updates and feature launches in between, today we launched the most wanted Swapit feature on iPhone: You can now Sell your items whether they’re new or pre-loved, you decide.

GET THE SWAPIT UPDATE NOW:
http://get.swapit.la/now

We’ve been working hard to get this feature out as quickly as possible. Sometimes it just takes a little longer than expected. In this particular release it’s not just about allowing people to post items for sale. You also need to be able to edit an item, take it offline, mark it as sold, manage your buyers and so on. There are all these little bits and pieces that take user experience to the next level and we are meticulously working on making them available to you in just the best way we can imagine.

swapit-ios_screenshots_1.0.10_1_collage

In fact, this update comes with over 30 changes. Here is a quick list of some of the most important changes:

  • Added SELL and GIVE AWAY of items (incl. edit, mark sold, active/inactive)
  • Added push notification handling for
    • incoming interested buyers of your items
    • reminder for posted items you sell or give away
    • new likes on items
    • new comments on items
  • Added “Notifications” section to the Inbox
  • Resolved an issue with “Open Chat” button in item details

Furthermore, we’ve put in some important performance enhancements and resolved several other minor bugs and issues.

IMPORTANT NOTICE to iPhone Users: Do Not Kill!

Swapit uses push notifications to deliver chat messages and notifications to your device. If you force-close Swapit you will not receive any such notifications until you restart Swapit or your device. We recommend not to force-close Swapit.

84% of iPhone users we asked, are force-closing their apps. That’s a surprise to me — especially as it does NOT save any battery, like it used to many years ago. So if you’re one of those 84%, you’re not making a difference in terms of battery savings by force-closing your apps, but some of those apps might actually stop receiving push notifications then. That’s also the case for Swapit. It’s nothing we can do about, it’s a special case defined by iOS and we have to abide by that. In short, force-closing apps just makes your phone’s performance worse rather than better – generally speaking.

Read more about this topic at: Apple’s software SVP says quitting multitasking apps not necessary, won’t offer improved battery life

 

ANDROID USERS

swapit-blog_android-1Your app has been updated too, earlier this week. You can head directly to Google Play and get the latest update too. Though, our changes weren’t as significant as on the iPhone, we’re always looking out for you and you got quite some nifty little tweaks and enhancements under-the-hood with the latest update.

Get the latest Swapit today from: http://get.swapit.la/now

 

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Swapit Is Compatible With 95.1% Of All Android Devices

Google just published updated statistics about Android’s platform versions that are running on Android smartphone around the world. Check it out:

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 2.10.07 pm

Hence:

swapit runs on 95.1% of all Android devices out there!

When we chose Android as the launch platform for swapit, we knew Android would keep making up the lion’s part of the smartphone market. We also knew that newer and newer Android devices would be coming out and therefore, older Android versions will loose on importance over the time. The Android market is fragmented – by nature – but by focusing on Android 4 and upwards, we were able to leave out quite a number of headaches that come with pre-Android-4 versions. It is still challenging to ensure swapit runs smoothly on these thousands of Android 4 devices out there, but it manageable. With the right team, we are well positioned to bring swapit to the masses.

Haven’t tried swapit yet? Download it today: http://get.swapit.la

It’s not a Landing Page, it’s a Landing App!

Landing pages have been around for quite some time and they have proven their value to capture leads and validate a product (idea) early on. Now, we’re in the app business. We build apps, not websites and swapit is the perfect example for this. Yet, we launched a “landing page” at www.swapit.la to capture our leads and give folks the chance to join our invite-only beta of swapit.

swapit-bannerLast week at the HK CoCoon Pitch Semi Finals (where we rocked!) we noticed an interesting phenomenon. Some folks who saw us there didn’t talk to us. Maybe they noticed our awesome T-Shirts or our pull up banner or perhaps even listened to my 5 minutes of “fame”. Yet, not all of them listened or read carefully. So they did not go to our website www.swapit.la to sign up for our beta. Instead they went straight to Google Play and tried to download swapit from there.

I can understand where those folks come from. “It’s an app. So it’s on the App Store, right?” It’s not what we had intended, but it’s the reality of things. So we sat down (actually, I was sitting on my desk, Jonas was standing by the door and Boris was leaning on a table outside my office) and talked about this issue – and it is an issue.

As our target audience is not necessarily tech-savvy, getting them to go on a website, enter name + email address and hitting submit, might feel cumbersome or even unnecessary to them. We came to the conclusion that it makes sense to pause our current swapit beta 4 development for a short while and create a quick app we can publish on Google Play.

Swapit Landing App

swapit-blog_downloadWe call it the swapit landing app. Similar to a landing page, it simply makes the process of requesting an invite to our swapit beta program a notch easier. But it’s an important notch. So anyone interested can now download the Swapit Beta Request app from Google Play:

http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=la.swapit

If you’d like to check out how the app looks like, here are some screen shots:

Future Proof

Our intent, first and foremost, is to make it easier for folks to request an invite to our private swapit beta. However, at the same time we need to make sure that we can easily update this swapit landing app. This is important to not only make it convenient for us, but it is also absolutely crucial to:

  1. Ensure existing beta testers can easily upgrade from the swapit landing app to the swapit beta app once they have been approved and entered into the beta program;
  2. Ensure existing beta testers will receive a notification from Google Play, once the final public swapit release is available on Google Play; and
  3. Minimize our customer support effort by minimizing friction during those upgrade procedures.

So we felt it was two working days well spent to build this landing app, and therefore worth pausing the development on the actual swapit beta, which has now resumed in full steam! Stay tuned for future updates on swapit. We’re working on exciting features.

If you’d like to request an invite to our private beta of swapit, you can download the swapit landing app from Google Play or go to www.swapit.la to request your invite.

Swapit Beta 2 – Launched Today with 50 New Beta Testers

swapit-blog_beta-2Today, we launched swapit beta 2 to our group of invite-only beta testers.

This new beta 2 has been in the works ever since we launched beta 1 of swapit. We have taken a lot of feedback from our first beta testers and are applying that feedback to our new betas. By launching beta 2 today, we take the first step to incorporate that initial feedback and to prepare ourselves for more feedback to come.

Furthermore, with our swapit beta 2 we have extended our invite-only beta test by 53 new beta testers. According to our beta test plan (refer to “Our Rough Beta Plan” in this post), we had planned for 50 new beta testers and have slightly surpassed that goal.

These are the changes in swapit beta 2 we added:

swapit-blog-locationBetter Location Integration

The initial map integration of swapit was — present. It was there, it worked, but it was rather rudimentary. Because we believe the location-reference is at the core of swapit we put a lot more effort into integrating that location information much better.

1. Custom Map Integration

swapit-beta-2_map_allPreviously, swapit was just launching the external app Google Maps to show an item on the map. We have now switched to integrate an own map view into swapit that allows us to customize a lot of things inside that map.

2. Show All Items On The Map

To get an aggregate overview of items that are on sale nearby, we have now integrated the option to view all items on a map. That’s a rather handy feature if you want to browse and discover items that are being sold nearby and you’re more of a visual person who likes to see things on a map rather than a list.

3. Show More Item Details On The Map

swapit-beta-2_neighborhood_markedWe now have the freedom to show pretty much anything on the map. We have the freedom to choose our own design, layout and content; and we are taking advantage of that. Therefore, you can now click on any item in the map and a small tooltip comes up that shows you the item’s title, price, description as well as the item’s photo.

4. Show “Neighborhood” In Item Details

One interesting feedback we had received from beta testers was that not everyone might like the “223 meters away” distance we had shown in our detail screen. Some folks just want to see “Central”, “Sheung Wan” or “North Point” there. That’s great feedback and we have added that feature for you!

Statistics

swapit-beta-2_menuWe have added some basic statistics to the side pane of swapit to be able to keep track of the app’s progress. At the same time, we believe being transparent with everyone helps our business in the long run. Therefore, please feel free to check out the stats yourself.

User Interface Improvements

The user interface is very important to us. It is important for us to communicate our style through design and aesthetics. Therefore, we have re-organized some parts of it, changed the layout of the side pane, change the app icon, and so on. We will keep working on this as swapit beta is a work-in-progress.

Invite Friends

We want to make sure everyone has the chance to invite their friends. Therefore, swapit now allows to invite up to 5 friends to our invite-only beta right from inside the app. As we are looking to increase our beta tester base by 150 new beta testers for the next beta, we made it very easy for all current beta testers to invite their friends with the click of a button.

Sound Effects For The Fun Of It

For the fun of it, we have played a bit with our swapit.la website URL and went to the studio to record some funny sounds for it. We just did it for the fun of it and added some of those funny sounds at some parts inside the app. Perhaps you find our sounds and we hope they put a smile on your face. 🙂

Furthermore, we have also fixed many small bugs that would take too long to list here. We hope we have put out a great beta you all will like and we hope you will invite your friends our next beta which will launch some time after Chinese New Year.

If you haven’t joined our beta yet, you can request an invite now at: http://swapit.la

Choosing a platform for Swapit

Right after we had the idea behind swapit, we had to decide which platform we go for. Such a decision can not be made in a jiffy because it has rather deep ranging consequences.

Hong Kong is 238% Mobile

swapit-blog_238-mobileIn order to choose the right app and right platform we need to back up a bit. In my earlier post about the idea behind swapit I mentioned that there are quite some Facebook groups out there, in which trading similar to what we do in swapit, is being practiced. As such trades happen in real life, swapit is being created as a very localized application. Hong Kong being our ground zero for swapit, we have to look at the mobile landscape to ensure we choose the right platform. With mobile phone penetration of 238.4% as of October 2014 (source ofca.gov.hk) and a population of 7.2 million as of mid-2014 (source censtatd.gov.hk) the market of consumers carrying smartphones is large enough for us to start out.

Android is King

swapit-blog_android-3For better or worse, many markets all over the world look rather similar: #1 mobile operating system is Android, #2 is Apple, #3 is Windows Phone and #4 is BlackBerry. While we at S4BB Limited have a 10+ year experience in developing for BlackBerry, we also have quite some experience in iOS, but more so in Android. Take a look at our great Battery Watch app for example. We could have created swapit for BlackBerry 10 and I am pretty sure app development would have been cut to half the time we require for Android app development, but there are just not enough consumers who use BlackBerry 10 devices out there. So the choice in the end was rather easy: go for Android as an operating system first. Most likely iOS will follow after that and other platforms will be considered too, at a later stage.

Backend for the Wicked

swapit-blog_app-engineHaving the operating system locked down to Android for the first version of the mobile app, we now had to look at how to build our backend. We obviously need to some pretty basic information like: user account data, item sales information (images, description, price, location), and so on. It’s a pretty straight forward set of data broken down to a bunch of strings, digits, geolocations and raw bits & bytes. It’s not rocket science, but it is important to choose the right backend system to ensure scalability, flexibilityease of use for development and most importantly cost-efficiency.

Using Android on the mobile app (=client) side, the most obvious choice was to look at the Google Cloud Platform. We really liked what we saw from a pricing perspective and what really surprised us was the (more-or-less) seamless integration into the new Android Studio. Google’s now de-facto standard IDE for Android development.

To sum it up: we went for Android as mobile app platform and the Google Cloud Platform to run the backend side of things. If you have any tips, tricks or things to warn us about our choices, please feel free to leave a comment here.

Read more about swapit on swapitblogit.wordpress.com.