The Swedish Post Challenges iPhone Users to Deliver & Win Virtual Parcels

Swedish Post - Do You Have Sweden's Safest HandsIt seems that lately most of the innovative mobile applications and campaigns are coming out of Sweden. The latest example is the campaign for Posten (the Swedish Post), produced by ad agency Åkestam Holst and app developer From Stockholm with Love.

The campaign is looking for ‘Sweden’s Safest Hands’, handling a virtual delivery bicycle to deliver mystery parcels to their assigned destination. To participate, players first download the Trygga Händer (Safe Hands) app, then wait for the release of the parcels that happens daily at 6am, 12pm and 6pm. The players must deliver their parcel safely to it’s destination within 24 hours to win the mystery contents. The contents of the parcels are valued between SEK 300 to SEK 5,000 (USD $42 – $720).

The challenge takes advantage of iPhone features including the compass and GPS to detect and follow the route to the parcel’s destination. The accelerometer is used to keep track of the steadiness of the player. If the player moves too fast and jerky the bicycle will veer outside of the safety zone and the parcel is lost. The player must re-select their package and start again. To have a wider safety-zone to play within, participants can ‘power-up’ by finding and checking-in to a Swedish Post location.

The campaign is reminiscent of New Balance’s ‘Urban Dash’ Vodafone’s ‘Buffer Busters’ or Mini Getaway games, all of which combine real world activity with mobile technologies in innovative ways. Coincidently those three games were created by Monterosa, another Swedish developer.

Social TV Platform Miso Launches Enhanced Experience for Dexter Premiere

Miso Dexter Enhanced Experience

Sunday’s premiere of Dexter saw the first launch of a new feature from social TV platform Miso. Users of the app could access and interact with enhanced content that was synched with the show’s broadcast, including polls and actor’s bios. Viewers can sit back and watch the show and receive text updates as enhanced events in the timeline are reached.

While any Miso app user could follow along by tapping play at the beginning of the show, DirectTV subscribers can have the app synch with their set-top boxes. Once synched the Miso app will communicate with the set-top box (they must be on the same wifi network) to determine which show the viewer is currently watching, updating as the viewer changes channels. The app will provide opportunities for viewers to ‘check-in’, access enhanced content and view updates from other viewers of the show currently being watched.

Most followers of Twitter already know that there is a huge social experience that happens during the broadcast of popular shows or live events. We are seeing more and more apps that are trying to tap into that social experience and have viewers interact through an app such as SocialGuide, YapTV or BeeTV. Even networks such as CBS are launching their own mobile apps trying to create and capture that social buzz during broadcasts of their shows.

The free Miso app can be downloaded in the App Store.

SAS Releases ‘The Time Killer’ App for Customers of Other Airlines

Scandinavian Airlines Time Killer appMost of the time when a company releases a mobile app it’s to provide an important utility to their customers (or it should be). Scandinavian Airlines have gone the other way and have launched ‘The Time Killer’ app for people who are ‘not’ flying Europe’s most punctual airline. The app provides activities for customers of the other airlines as they kill time waiting for their delayed flights.

The games in the app include:

  • ‘Spin the Hamster’, turn your iPhone around in circles in order for the hamster to run around it’s wheel
  • ‘Follow the Footsteps’, pull down on footprints to see how far you can walk
  • ‘Hold That Thought’, place your fingers on the thought bubble and reflect for as long as you can
  • ‘Blow the Propeller’, blow into the phone’s microphone to make the propreller spin

Each game tracks your scores as you go, saving it in the high scores section. It’s all fun and pointless and that’s just the point. If you would have booked with Scandinavian Airlines you would already be in the air enjoying an an adult beverage and not sitting back in the departure lounge ‘spinning the hamster’ (yes, I just typed that).

Unfortunately when it comes to booking an SAS flight through the app the experience breaks down a bit. The link takes the user to the SAS home page where the unfun begins.

First: it’s not a mobile site. Why in the world would you not create a mobile app and not take the user to a mobile-friendly site to book a flight?
Second: Why do you need me to identify which country I am accessing the site. Why not ask me to share my location back in the app and append that information to the site URL? Even if I don’t share my location, at least give me a better way to identify my country of origin on your site. Redirect me to a mobile friendly landing page where I can select my country from a drop down. Or, detect my country and ask me to confirm. Arghhhhhh!

The site is fun for a few minutes, shows that Scandinavian Airlines has a sense of humour and does do a good job at illustrating the key message about it being a punctual airline.

‘The Time Killer’ app can be downloaded for free in the iPhone App Store.

PBS Releases First Episode of Ken Burns’ Prohibition Doc to iPads first

The latest Ken Burns’ documentary ‘Prohibition’ airs on PBS on October 2nd, 3rd and 4th, but users of the PBS app for iPad and iPhone users can watch the first episode now. The first episode tells the story of the events of the 1800s that lead up to the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Now I know that the term ‘bootlegging’ came from a name given to men who sold swigs of liquor hidden in their boots or under their pants legs.

The free PBS iPad app can be downloaded in the US App Store.

New Balance Unleash ‘Urban Dash’ Augmented Reality Game

New Balance - Urban Dash Augmented Reality GameUsing the same game play as the Mini-Getaway game played in Stockholm from last year (Monterosa, the same digital agency is behind both), New Balance has launched a augmented reality game in New York City dubbed the Urban Dash. Each week day New Balance will release 20 virtual batons (10 on the weekend) at various locations throughout the boroughs of New York City. The batons are released sometime between 9am and 5pm, with the exact time revealed on the New Balance Twitter and Facebook pages.

After players download the app and register they are ready to play. Players then use the Google Map within the app to locate the virtual batons, then get within 100 feet of the baton in order to claim it. Once they have claimed the baton they must get to the NBNY store at 150 5th Avenue to claim their prize.

But it would be no fun if it was that simple, other players can steal the baton once they get within 100 feet of current owner. I’m not sure what prevents unscrupulous players hanging around near the HBNY store and simply swiping virtual batons as people approach. It would be interesting to see a ‘safe zone’ several blocks around the store to help minimize this. If you lose connectivity or power to your mobile phone you have effectively dropped the baton and others can grab it at the last location it was connected at.

Players receive a special pair of NBNY exclusive shoes for their first win and a $75 NBNY gift card for their second and third baton wins. The player with the most baton wins by the end of the game on September 10 is eligible to win a special gold baton worth approximately USD $20,000.

This is a pretty solid initiative, the baton fits in well with the serious runners that make up New Balance’s customers.

The New Balance Urban Dash app is available in the US iTunes store.

L’Oreal Men Expert Knows What He Likes in the Perfect App

L'Oreal Men The Expert AppAnyone in my office will tell you that when I pretend to shave using my iPhone it’s absolutely hilarious. Now, thanks to the L’Oreal Men Expert app I now have an app featuring an electric razor, but also a hair dryer both featuring real-ish sound effects.

Useless yet fun apps have been around as long as the iPhone itself. My iPhone contains the iBeer app, Waterford Crystal’s Clink Clink app or the Zippo Virtual Lighter. I love to play with these apps… in public. Yes, friends… I am ‘that’ guy.

Besides the electric razor and hairdryer the app also contains and even more useless steamy mirror. On the more useful side the app also contains a rundown of the whole line of L’oreal Men Expert products and includes an offer for a Free Sample 10ml of Moisturizer.

The campaign is being driven by a series of tongue-in-cheek videos posted on The Expert YouTube page. The first video in the series featured instructions on how to create the perfect profile picture. One glitch in the campaign is that both videos and the app include prominent links to a Facebook page where The Expert will answer questions. However, the Facebook page is missing in action. A spokesperson posted on the YouTube channel explaining that Facebook has been having problems. This is every client’s worst nightmare, that a crucial piece of an expensive ad campaign is not ready to be deployed or a problem has developed on a platform out of their control.

The L’oreal Expert App can be downloaded in the Apple iTunes store now.

Best Buy App Turns Your Phone Into a Time Traveler (Sort of)

Best Buy - BuyBack iPhone App

Earlier this year Best Buy launched its electronics Buy Back Program. Best Buy has described the program as “future proofing” and will allow users to trade in their smartphones, laptops, tablets and other electronics for a percentage of the the original value.

Best Buy along with agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky and mobile app developer Unit9 have created an iPhone app to promote the Buy Back Program. The app includes a Buybackulator, Upgrade Checker and a yes, even a Telephone Time Machine.

The Buybackulator allows a user to select a product and enter its price. The application then calculates the amount of the gift card amount. The Upgrade Checker will send you an alert you when your electronics are ready for an upgrade. The Telephone Time Machine re-skins your iPhone’s keypad and sounds from a rotary phone to flip phone style to a futuristic style that looks like it requires a thumb scan. Simply shake your phone to switch between the different styles.

The Best Buy ‘Buy Back’ app is available as a free download in the Apply App Store.

Mosquito Report App Gives Swedes the Latest Buzz on the Outdoors

Thermocell - Swedish Mosquito ReportIf there’s one thing that Canada and Sweden share besides short summers, it’s the bugs especially mosquitoes. Who hasn’t come back from a picnic, camping trip or even an evening on the back deck covered with legs and arms covered in itchy mosquito bites. Wouldn’t it be great to know what the mosquito conditions are before you head out.

In Sweden, Thermacell, a maker of mosquito repellent devices may have a solution with their Myggrapporten (Mosquito Report) iPhone app. Users of the app can report the mosquito conditions at their location, helping others who will be visiting that spot help prepare.

The app is ready to make recommendations about the type of mosquito repellent device that will help with the reported conditions. It quickly became one of the most popular apps in the Swedish Appstore.

This app is only a hint at what we see in the next few years with users reporting weather, traffic (or mosquito) conditions at their present location. Sensors that attach, plugin or are built-in to mobile devices will make self-reporting easier.

The app was created by Stockholm agency Deportivo.

Pringles Crunch Band Wants You to Rock Your Smartphone

Pringles Crunch Band

This summer Pringles Sweden have unleashed Crunch Band, a fun new app for chip munchin’ music fans. Created by the creative folks at CP+B Europe, the app wants to turn everyone into a budding rock star just by shaking and swiping their Android or iPhone mobile smartphone.

The app uses the phone’s accelerometer to create the sounds of an electric guitar, bass and drums. More instruments can be unlocked by scanning the UPC code on the side of other Pringles cans. As the instruments are unlocked special badges are shared to a user’s Faceboook profile, and if your smartphone speakers aren’t loud enough you can order a special speaker attachment (in exchange for 3 product seals) that can turn your empty Pringles can into an rockin’ amp.

If you need help Pringles have provided a Rocktorial direct from Tomas the rest of the hard rocking development team. 🙂

SocialGuide is Your Social Media-fueled TV Guide

Social Guide iPhone App

It should come as no shock to anyone who watches live TV events such as the The Oscars or weekly shows like Glee or Mad Men, that viewers are using both the internet and the TV at the same time. Increasingly that internet time is being taken over by mobile devices (smartphones & tablets) rather than a traditional computer.

Neilson and Yahoo revealed that 86% of mobile phone users use the internet on their device while watching TV. Of those people, 33% were using mobile apps, 37% were browsing the internet and 40% were interacting with their friends on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Checking-in on TV shows

Applications such as GetGlue, Miso and Into_Now have been launched to allow users to ‘check-in’ to TV shows in the same way that they can check-in to real-world venues using Foursquare or Gowalla.

One of the latest apps to cater to these Internet/TV multi-taskers is Social Guide, recently included in Time Inc.’s 10 NYC Startups to Watch.

How SocialGuide Works

Unlike the other media check-in apps listed above, SocialGuide works like a Social Media- fueled TV Guide. Like any interactive TV Guide it first identifies your local cable company. (The application is US-only, so I used DISH Buffalo as my default).

Users can choose to view all shows in each time period or filter them by Regular Series, Reality, Movies, Sports and News. The shows are listed in order by how many mentions are being shared through Twitter and Facebook (I only saw Twitter posts in my time using the app). All the tweets mentioning the show are visible in the default view, or they can be further filtered by Friends and tweets by the Cast.

If you are just interested in which shows are being discussed the most, then SocialGuide will help you out. It’s amazing (maybe shocking) to see just how many people are posting comments on a Sunday morning while watching Spongebob Squarepants, iCarly or Yes to the Dress.

SocialGuide is available for iPhone and Android.