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Get Your Swapit Update Today: http://get.swapit.la/now
Our latest Swapit mobile app update is now available on Google Play and the App Store. We’re now giving you the license to kill!
Update Swapit today: http://get.swapit.la/now
We’re already working on the next version of Swapit and it is scheduled to be uploaded this Friday. Stay tuned!
Want to know more details on what we changed? Here are some insights in our work over the past weeks.
USER INTERFACE & USER EXPERIENCE
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we’ve been re-imagining our “Startup Dialog” and the everyday onboarding experience all of our users go through. Previously, our startup dialog was functional, but ugly. So we’ve beautified it and created a generalized structure to be able to communicate important information to the user right after the app launch. Just to give you some examples:
… and a lot more. We’ve now identified 17 main cases and 12 sub-cases where such startup dialogs might show. They all now have the same visual structure and allow us to present such information consistently and beautifully.
LICENSE TO KILL (Apple)
You may now kill at any time! Just the Swapit, though! In our previous Apple app update, we’ve added the delivery of all chat messages directly to the app even if the app was killed before. Now with this release, all messages that can not delivered to the app while it was force-closed, will be automatically synchronized once the app launches again.
What is that? Do you remember my blog post “iPhone Users: Do you kill apps?” and “Swapit Update: Sell with your iPhone (second hand and new)”?
To be honest, the Apple Push Notification Service (APNS) has been and still is a huge pain in the ***! It is though, Apple’s recommended way to send push notifications to iPhones and iPads. They make it sound so fancy and cool on their website, but really elementary things are just not working. That was probably by design, but it is just not practical.
When you force close an app on iOS, that app ability to receive such push notifications gets stripped down to barely nothing. You must send all content you want to show in the iOS “Notification Center” inside your push message to the app. If such content is not there, nothing can be shown in the “Notification Center”. For chat messages for example, that is easy to implement. The sender’s message content can just be put into that Push notification and be sent to the device. Then the device can show such content even when the app was force-closed before. That’s what we introduced in our last Apple app update last week.
Now, we also send a lot of other push notifications, like:
Those Push notifications basically just send a status code (e.g. NEW_ITEM_NEARBY) and some ID (e.g. ITEM_ID like “1234567890”) to Swapit. That keeps our overhead and traffic very small and makes our whole infrastructure extremely efficient. Remember? We have extremely low cost of operating our infrastructure.
Now the texts of those notifications are constructed inside our app and then published to the iOS Notification Center, so the user can see them. The construction of those notifications does not work if the app was force-closed before. So all notifications, which come in when the app was foce-closed, could not be shown.
Swapit itself is currently available in English and Chinese. The app automatically shows its menus and texts in the language your phone is set to. So we have packaged both English and Chinese language packs into Swapit.
To construct such notifications, we use those language packs to show the correct text to the user. If the app can not run to construct notifications based on such language packs and the phone’s current language setting, then we don’t have any text to use.
Now, similarly to the chat messages (which can be send in any case because they are just pure text which does not depend on the phone’s language, it’s the pure message that needs to be shown in the Swapit in-app chat), we could pre-process all texts on our server backend, which we want to show in the “Notification Center”, and send the ready-to-publish Notification via Push to an iOS device. That would however mean, that we have to manage all the same language packs we have in our Android and iOS app, on our server as well. That creates an additional level of content management for us, which adds overhead and costs.
At the same time, we would need to know (i.e. track) for each user and each of his/her devices, which language is being used there. So if I for example have an iPhone with English language and an iPad with Chinese language, we would need to know the language for each device, so we can prepare each notification for each device separately, so I receive a notification in English on my iPhone and a notification in Chinese on my iPad.
Soon we will add more languages to Swapit, which would make everything much more complex, require more processing power and increase costs dramatically with each language – if at the same time, we still want to maintain our requirement of real-time and send push notifications out within seconds.
Apple Push Notification Service APNS – A Long Way To Go
Now, all of these headaches were caused by the APNS. It is poorly implemented and is just not up to par when you compare it to Android’s Firebase Cloud Messaging FCM and even when you compare it to BlackBerry’s Push Notifications. I truly hope, Apple will hire some great Push engineers some day and build a really useful solution. We’d be the first ones to use it.
Our current solution is far from perfect, but it works well enough given the limitations APNS offer us. Here is how it works:
So to sum it up: No notifications will ever “get lost” again on iOS. No matter if you kill Swapit or not. So we now give you the license to kill Swapit.
MORE SWAPIT INTEGRATION
After launching the Swapit integration schemas last year, we’ve also added more schemas to integrate with Swapit. Some are still missing and I will blog more about the whole set of new schemas soon.
BEAUTIFYING SOME PLACEHOLDERS
We’ve also updated our funky user profile image placeholder. It was bugging me for a while that our previous placeholder image was rather ugly. Some of our users are just lazy to update their profile image, so we need to show a placeholder image instead, which as a result actually shows up quite often. I am happy with the new one. What do you think? Is that something you like too?
UPDATING THE IOS COLOR SCHEME
On iOS, we are using a tab bar compared to the navigation pane on Android. Yet, the color scheme we used there wasn’t making very much sense. Especially when you consider the fact, that we’re actually mixing the functionality of the tab bar a little bit. The center button in that tab bar is the “+” button, which lets you post new items on Swapit. That’s significantly different from the other tabs there, which basically just switch the content in the screen above. So anyhow, the color scheme of icons in the tab bar and the “More” overflow list of that tab bar, were not very consistent. We’ve updated that to make more sense if it and have a much better UI/UX feel.
UNDER THE HOOD
Most changes above were fairly small changes, but they are quite visible to our users. At the same, the majority of our changes were done under-the-hood and on our backend. That’s how we’re preparing for some major releases coming in the next weeks to you. Swapit’s metrics a growing rapidly across the board and we are readying ourselves for upcoming uptakes on a massive scale. Stay tuned for more on that. We will surely write about them here on our blog.
Have you tried Swapit yet? You can get it from: http://get.swapit.la/now
We just updated Swapit with several new additions.
You can get the latest Swapit app from Google Play and the App Store or by simply clicking here: http://get.swapit.la/now
You told us you love Swapit Premium, but you’d like to pay for it on-the-go. We’ve been listening and now we have finally released our latest Swapit app update with the Swapit Premium Day Pass, which gets you access to the full range of Swapit Premium features for a full day for just $0.99 (HK$8).
We’ve added a lot more in this release as well. Let me highlight some points.
SWAPIT PREMIUM DAY PASS
Back in April this year, we launched Swapit Premium as a monthly subscription. While some people have picked this up and were happy they could access to such additional features, we knew that a monthly subscription was more attractive power traders. Yet, Swapit was build by individuals for individuals – as a true consumer-to-consumer marketplace.
To make sure, individuals can access Swapit Premium when they need to, we’re introducing the Day Pass now. It costs the lowest price we can charge through Google Play and the Apple App Store: $0.99 (HK$8). It’s a one-off payment. You won’t get charged again and you can use all Swapit Premium features for a full day starting from the time of purchase.
Of course, at any time, you can purchase a Day Pass again and take advantage of another full day of all Swapit Premium features.
With our last release we’ve introduced a much easier way to share Swapit items you like on your favorite social media. Besides supporting Facebook, Twitter, WeChat and LINE, we have now added WhatsApp to the list of 1-click shareables. It was a quick and easy change for us, but we feel that many of you will take advantage of it and enjoy telling your friends about your listings on Swapit.
SORTING THE SWAPIT ITEM LIST
You might not have noticed that, but we’ve been experimenting with different kinds of default sort settings in Swapit over the past couple of months. Initially, we’ve had our default sorting of the Swapit item list set to “Distance” – meaning, the items closest to you showed up at the top of the list. The further down you scrolled, the farther away such items were from your current location. Then we switched to the default sorting of “Date” – meaning, the items at the top of the list are the most recent ones and the further down you scroll, the older such items are.
Now there are limitations to such sorting settings. Swapit has been built as a globally applicable app, which connects buyers and sellers that are in very close proximity to each other – no matter where they are located at.
[start of tech talk] One of our main goals was to build a truly scalable backend. That means, we use the most modern technologies (NoSQL database, insanely scalable, easy to extend) in order to be able to have one single database for the whole world. Every Swapit item that is stored on the Swapit backend has at least one location reference to it, so we can match it with potential buyers nearby. [/end of tech talk]
So the very simple task of sorting your items by distance or by date created a bit of a challenge. If you see the closest item listings that are nearby your location first, it is very likely that those are actually relevant to you – in terms of language and currency. But if you sort by date – remember, we have one huge database for the whole world – you quickly realize that item postings in India, Philippines or the USA might show up at the top of your list. Those might be in a different language and usually have a different currency. Remember? Swapit supports 148 currencies. It was imperative to ensure that you only see items there, which make sense.
Solution. In the end, we came up with the solution of listing the whole world’s items when you sort them by Distance, but we only show you items within your city when you set the sorting to Date. That way, you will always see the most relevant items (in terms of language and currency) at the top of your list – no matter you’re sorting by Distance or Date. That’s why you now see clearly the distinction between “Distance Global” and “Date City”.
Currently, the default “sort by” setting is Distance Global, which makes the most sense for the on-boarding process of new users. Sometimes those users are located in cities where no items are available yet. So a sorting by Date City would return no items. That in turn, prompts the majority of such new users in new cities to deinstall the app – even though they might actually like the app itself. No content, no fun, right? So we would have created an artificially high churn rate ourselves. In order to prevent that, the default “sort by” setting is set to Distance Global. So you will always see the item that’s the closest to you – even if that item is in a different city, country or continent.
Should you change your “sort by” setting, Swapit now also remembers that setting and every time Swapit launches, it will use that same sorting again and again – until you change it.
A nice side-effect of all of that is: By sorting your list by Distance, you can browse all Swapit items that were listed in the whole world. The location of the item listing just gets farther and farther away, the further down you scroll. I sometimes try to challenge myself to reach the bottom of the list, which takes a lot of scrolling and could almost be considered a workout.
Besides all those changes above, we’ve done a lot of “under-the-hood” improvements and bug fixes to make the Swapit experience a lot more seamless.
Have you tried Swapit yet? Give it a try: http://get.swapit.la/now
We just updated Swapit with a bunch of great new features.
You can get the latest Swapit app from Google Play and the App Store or by simply clicking here: http://get.swapit.la/now
In a nutshell, these are the most important additions: Make an Offer, Duplicate Items, Easy Chat List Access, Easier Social Sharing. They’ve made it to both the iPhone and the Android app.
We’re always listening to all of your feedback. Not so long ago, we ran a survey with all of you and we’ve receive absolutely great results. This current update of Swapit comes with many of the features you were looking for. Let’s take a look at them in detail.
MAKE AN OFFER
The most wanted feature is here! With just one click you can now send an offer to the seller. It’s easy, it’s quick and it’s made for you.
To make an offer, just open any item and hit the “MAKE AN OFFER” button. Adjust the price and hit “SEND”. That’s it.
Give it a try at this great bag from Winsome Lee: Kate Spade Handbag for $680.
For all of you who are selling similar items, you can now easily duplicate an existing item post and your new item post is completely pre-filled with the content of the item you’re duplicating your item from. Especially some of our power sellers were asking for this feature and we’re happy to make that available to you now.
To duplicate an item, just go to your item list / user profile, select the item you want to duplicate, hit the three dots at the top right corner and select “Duplicate”.
EASY CHAT LIST ACCESS
This is the most convenient way for sellers to get access to all the chats you have open with all potential buyers. It’s a great way to be efficient in your sales process, especially when you have many interested buyers.
EASY SOCIAL SHARING
Sharing is caring and we care a lot. So we made it dead simple to share your item post with your friends. The brand new sharing toolbar in each item makes it easy and accessible by just one click.
1-click supported are currently Facebook, Twitter, WeChat and LINE. Through the general “Share” button, it’s possible to share through any app that’s installed on your phone.
More social networks will be supported depending on demand. Please tell us which one you’d like us to add here.
Have you tried Swapit yet? Give it a try: http://get.swapit.la/now
I admit, I am hooked to Pokémon Go. It launched yesterday in Hong Kong and some in the Swapit team went along and downloaded it. Personally, I really wanted to know what all the hype is all about. After all, I tried Ingress (from the same developer) and wasn’t particularly impressed by it. Yes, it looked nice and had some Augmented Reality (AR) components, but it just felt way too complex.
Pokémon Go on the other hand feels simple enough, so I can actually handle it. It’s not a game you have to play constantly, but it is one that pulls you back in and you want to play it constantly. You quickly feel that urge that you have to check if there’s a Pokémon nearby that you don’t have yet. It pulls you back into the app and I have utmost admiration for that. Creating such kind of addiction level for a game, is really hard to achieve.
Like Ingress, Pokémon Go is based around our real world. Items, monsters, Pokéstops, gyms are all placed at real locations. So you have to physically go there to get access to them. Only nearby Pokémon can be caught. So in the end, digital information that rests in your mobile device is being combined with your current physical location.
Perhaps that’s what it takes? Perhaps it takes a game like Pokémon Go, so people realize how important location is in our life. Through this game, people are sensibilized to the whole topic of location and what’s happening all around you. By playing Pokémon Go people become more and more aware of their surrounding and the place they are actually located in. It’s also a great way to teach you spatial understanding, which is something many people lack in.
Swapit has been built with the very same core idea of Pokémon Go or Ingress: Your location is at the heart of what you can do. When you post something for sale on Swapit, people nearby your location will receive an alert; i.e. potential buyers nearby will receive an alert. We connect buyers and sellers who are nearby each other right now.
This allows a trade to happen really quickly. People nearby can seamlessly communicate with each other and meet up within minutes to close a deal. That’s all made possible because they are closeby each other and Swapit connects them based on their locations.
Property is big business in Hong Kong and everyone in the property business knows:
It’s all about location, location, location!
That’s exactly what Pokémon Go is all about and that’s also what Swapit is all about.
Hong Kong’s Unfair Advantage
Hong Kong has an unfair advantage over most parts of the world.
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
In the case of Pokémon Go, our players here have the advantage that they don’t have to leave their comfy office chair to catch new Pokémon, collect some new balls, fruits, accessories or go to the gym. I’m referring to the Pokémon Go gym here 🙂 All of these are nearby and because we have so many people in close proximity to each other, they put a Lure there and Pokémons just come by for us to throw some balls at them.
Here are some impressions of Pokémon addicts in Hong Kong:
You can read more about that on the Pokémon Blog: Pokemon GO arrives in Hong Kong, and it looks like everyone there is already playing it
What happens after the Pokémon Hype?
That’s a very good question. Firstly, I assume this game will take a lot of screen time away from other games in Hong Kong. In the long run, though, I believe it’s location aware aspects will educate people. It will make them more aware of the possibilities of using your location to your advantage. It will make them understand how powerful location and information combined in a smart way, can be.
Have you tried Swapit yet? Get it here: http://get.swapit.la
Photos of Pokémon Go players in Hong Kong by Nash Jenkins.
We’ve just updated Swapit on Google Play with some very nice new features. The iPhone app will be updated by the end of this week.
GET THE SWAPIT UPDATE NOW:
Some of the main changes in our latest update are:
REDESIGNED INBOX Simplified and yet more powerful.
We’ve been collecting a lot of feedback and one topic that always came up was our inbox. While we wanted to provide as much information as possible to all of you, all that information was quite cluttered across many different tabs inside the inbox. It made total sense to us, but there are many users who were a bit confused by this.
We don’t like to reinvent the wheel for things where really smart people have thought a lot about. So we’ve taken a look at a lot of “inboxes” out there to see which approach will be the best solution. Facebook’s “inbox” in terms of separating “Messages” and “Notifications” seemed to be an approach that made a lot of sense.
So we went forward and re-designed our own inbox accordingly into: Private Chats and Notifications. On the right you can see a screen shot of that and we believe it is now much more clear that chats inside Swapit are actually private. In matter of fact, there was some confusion about that out there as well. So by simply calling it “Private Chats” instead of just “Chats”, we believe it’s much straight forward to understand the meaning.
The content of each message in the list has also been slightly polished to make it look more like our notification tab.
ALL NOTIFICATIONS At a glance.
Swapit communicates with you a lot through notifications. They usually come into your Notification Hub on Android and your Notification Center on iPhone first, where you can take direct action. At the same time, we keep track of all notifications you’ve received in Swapit’s inbox and particularly in the “Notifications” tab there.
Previously, we had several tabs for notifications: buy interests, comments, new items. That was confusing and cluttered up the whole area there. At the same time, we didn’t show other notifications like “likes” when someone likes an item you’re liking too.
That’s now all combined into one simple yet very powerful “Notifications” tab. It collects all push messages you receive and provides a one-stop-shop to come back to, should you want to check out some older notifications too.
Previously, some notifications could be swiped away in the Notifications Hub/Center and they were gone forever. There was no way to get back to them. That is in the past now, and you’ll find all your notifications in our “Notifications” tab.
BULLETINS Keep you up to date.
We’ve now also integrated a way to reach out to you when we have some important news about Swapit. Say for example, we have some super cool new feature we’d like you try or we are again giving something away for free, then we can now let you know directly.
iPhone APP SELL
While this is not a new feature per-se, we believe not enough people know about this. So please spread the word and tell your friends that Swapit is now available for their iPhone too.
It’s as simple on iPhone as it is on Android to post your items for sale. Give it a try today.
Have you tried Swapit yet? Get the latest Swapit today from: http://get.swapit.la/now
We recently updated Swapit for iOS with the feature to sell items through your iPhone. We’ve also updated our Android app too. In fact, we are constantly updating Swapit with workflow improvements, new features to make the live of our users better.
Now, we are also constantly looking at how our users use Swapit. A while ago I mentioned we are using Crashlytics for in-app analytics. After having the iPhone app on the App Store for a while and the Android app on Google Play for about a year, it is time to compare the two. Though, the number of Android users still exceeds by far the number of iPhone users, we have enough to do a meaningful comparison.
Retention Retention Retention
For everyone, it is hard to acquire users. We are no exception to that. However, it is also hard – if not even harder – to retain them. We believe by providing a great platform from the onset and adding more and more value (i.e. through our constant app updates), we can retain our loyal users.
One metric we like to look at, is Session Length. Session Length means, how long are people in our app and for how long are they using it at each session. I.e. how long is each session in minutes and seconds. That’s rather easy to track, but at the time it’s an important indicator – especially for marketplace apps, like Swapit. If we have enough marketplace liquidity and the content in our marketplace (i.e. the items posted) are of interest to our users, then we can achieve a high session length. Interestingly, Android and iPhone users have a rather different usage pattern.
iPhone users stay 4x longer in Swapit than Android users.
To put that into numbers, yesterday on July 7th, 2016, the Median Session Lengths were:
Even when we’re looking at the whole period of the last 30 days, we can see that those numbers are pretty stable across each platform:
Android Session Length:
iOS Session Length:
We can even see a little uplift on Android over the past two weeks. I believe our core fan base on iOS are the first ones to use our iPhone app right away. I am talking about the great folks who signed up for the iOS beta even before it launched. Those are our most loyal users and they have much stronger relationship with Swapit, which in turn results in longer usage time. At the same time, on iOS we have a lot more of those in terms of overall percentage compared to Android. So therefore, I am assuming that has partly an effect on the higher session length. However, a 4x higher session length is a rather significant number.
Besides Crashlytics, we also use Flurry for in-app analytics. In there, we can also compare Swapit to the industry’s benchmark. With 30 seconds of median session length for “Shopping” apps worldwide, Swapit hits exactly the benchmark on Android. On iOS however, Swapit seems to beat the benchmark significantly.
Nature of Swapit Sessions
If you look at traditional shopping apps like eBay, Amazon, Lazada, etc. you will notice that they’re structured differently. They are B2C apps where you go into the app, search what you want, if you find it, you add it to your shopping cart, go to check out, enter your shipping address, check the price and shipping costs again, enter your credit card number and finally confirm the order.
On Swapit, though, the whole experience is different and much more engaging. Let’s say you find this beautiful Armlet and want to buy it from Julia, you’d hit “Chat to buy” and you’re ready to chat with her. You send a message and perhaps leave Swapit. Your session has ended. You leave the app and crush some candy. 20 seconds later Julia replies (she is usually super fast, I can definitely recommend her!), you receive a notification in your Notification Hub (Android) / Notification Center (iOS) and you go back into the app to confirm you’ll meet up with Julia and close the deal. Thus, you just had a quick short session to send your message. So actually, some of Swapit’s sessions are much shorter due to the nature of the app with built-in chat. That kind of user behavior is not expected with the eBay, Amazon, Lazada kind of apps. Therefore, I am actually surprised we can even hit the shopping industry benchmark on Android.
The Future of Swapit Retention
Is bright 🙂
In fact, we are right working on putting more features in place that allows us to even increase our retention metrics and add more value to our users. There are of course, many other metrics we are looking at and they all have their individual purpose and meaning. It would take a little while to list them all here, but I am sure, I will share some more retention stats in future — especially with all great secret sauce we are currently brewing at the Swapit HQ.
Stay tuned for the next Swapit update. It might actually surprise you!
Have you tried Swapit yet? You can download it at: http://get.swapit.la/now