We’ve Made Some App Builder Updates!

6 Nov

Fresh Look, Better Experience

OnCell already offers the most feature-rich mobile app builder on the market, but we’ve made it even better with a few recent updates. As the leading digital storytelling platform, we strive to bring the latest technology to connect destinations with their visitors. These enhancements modernize our app builder and bring the latest in features and customization.

New Look

The OnCell App Builder now features a fresh, modern look and feel. The brighter colors and intuitive user interface make our builder not only easy to use but easy on the eyes as well. Check it out today by signing up for a free test drive!

Screenshot 2018-11-06 15.54.24

Screenshot 2018-11-06 14.20.13New Icons

Icon choices for our navigation menu have been updated! Current icons got a little refresh, and 28 new icons have been added for things like badges, donations, new maps, parks, and more!

 

Screenshot 2018-11-06 15.19.18

Two Column Lists

There is now a “Two Column List” option for the list widget. Lists will show up with two columns in the builder, as well as published apps if this option is checked. If the “Two Column List” option is selected but the list only has one item in it, it will remain a regular list until another item is added. Lists with only one row can be used as “Previous” and “Next” buttons as seen in the example below.

Clients who have custom themes will need their themes updated to support two column lists. NPS and U.S. Forest Service themes already support two-column lists, and other themes will be updated as well. If you have a custom theme design and want to enable two-column lists, contact your client account manager today!

Enhanced Scrolling

Scrolling with the mouse wheel or trackpad now works everywhere in the builder. This includes scrolling through pages, folders, and while editing pages and widgets.

These updates are now available for all plans in the OnCell App Builder. You can check them out by signing up for a free test drive or contacting us to schedule a demo!

Explore Historic Independence Missouri with City’s Official App

31 Aug

Independence Missouri Mobile App and Game

Beacon-Enabled Audio Tour and Exploratory Game Offers Visitors a Unique Glimpse of Pioneer Life

The City of Independence Missouri’s new mobile app celebrates the city’s unique history–a bustling center which supported pioneers as they started their long journey on the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails during the Westward Expansion of the 1800s.

The goal of the project was to offer visitors a modern way to explore the city with fewer pamphlets, less planning, and more spontaneity. 

Core to the app experience is an audio walking tour of historic locations within the city. OnCell configured and deployed location-aware beacons at the tour stops, which automatically play the audio content as visitors navigate the city. Written transcriptions of the audio content are included to make the app accessible for those who are hearing-impaired.

The app includes Pioneers to Presidents, a game developed using the app builder, in which the user prepares for the long journey on the Oregon Trail. Visitors can playfully navigate the city, answer trivia, and collect virtual “supplies” in the form of badges. The badges can be shown at their Visitor Experience Center to get a physical prize. OnCell’s engineering team developed badges as a custom feature to integrate into their app and our content management system.

Photo filters were also custom engineered for this app, which allows visitors to access the device’s camera and take photos with themed overlays, such as wearing President Harry Truman’s hat and spectacles.

The app can be found in the App Store and Google Play, search: “Find Your Independence”.

U.S. Forest Service Apps Win 2018 Beacon Award

5 Jun

Thomas Dunne, OnCell CEO, and Toby Bloom, USFS National Program Manager for Travel, Tourism, and Interpretation accept the 2018 Beacon Award.

The American Recreation Coalition presented the 2018 Beacon Award at the RECx Conference to U.S. Forest Service employees who manage the individual forest apps and the USFS mobile app!

The Beacon Award recognizes innovative use of technology, communications, and partnerships to improve recreation program management and enhance the experiences of visitors, especially young people and “non-traditional” visitors.

In 2016, OnCell partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to create a mobile app program which allows individual forests to build their own app. Each forest has a project lead who has worked to launch, manage, and promote apps which allow visitors to discover recreational opportunities, access interpretive content, and alert them of time sensitive information such as fires or hazards.

Download the National Forest Explorer App in the App Store and Google Play.

We’ve Updated Push Notifications!

30 Nov

Using the OnCell platform, you can deploy Push Notifications for time sensitive messages. These messages are sent to users who have your native iOS and Android apps installed on their device. They are visible as a pop up alert and are stored in the notifications center on their device. You can link a notification to any page in your app, so users can tap it to view more details. Use push to:

  • Promote new content in your app such as tours or seasonal info
  • Promote special programs & events
  • Alert visitors to safety issues such as hazards or road closures
  • During events, drive foot traffic by promoting specific areas

We’ve expanded the capabilities of our push notification manager! You can now schedule, edit, and track the delivery and interactions of your push notifications. Go to your OnCell Dashboard and click the green “Message Center” button. Manage and track all your notifications here! You can then use the analytics to better understand what messages your app users find the most valuable and measure the success of marketing campaigns.

OnCell push notifications module

Learn how to set and manage push notifications in this short video tutorial.

Push notifications are available on all OnCell Pro and Lite accounts which have native apps.

App Spotlight: Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

8 Sep

Self-Guided Tour Shares the Story of Coachella Valley Pioneer Cabot Yerxa

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Cabot’s Pueblo Museum preserves the homestead of visionary explorer, artist, and Mason Cabot Yerxa, whose discovery of two desert aquifers provides fresh water to California’s Coachella Valley and gave rise to the area’s hot springs resorts. After 24 years of construction, which began in 1941, Yerxa completed his 35-room pueblo, which was donated to the City of Desert Hot Springs after his death. The site is operated as a heritage museum and share artifacts of his travels, art, and collection of Native American artistry.

The newly launched Cabot’s Pueblo Museum audio tour shares the story of the adventurous pioneer and his self-built Hopi-inspired home.  The tour takes museum visitors around the structures found on the site’s 5 acres, on which the historic home sits. The app offers new interpretive content about these structures, such as the barn, tool house, and studio house, and prompts visitors to think about how they were created with locally sourced, repurposed materials.

“We have little interpretative material for the grounds and using the app will provide visitors with a stronger understanding of Cabot and simpler times in the Coachella Valley,” says Irene Rodriguez, Executive Director of Cabot’s Pueblo Museum. “Hopefully, the information found in the app will also spark greater interest and encourage users to take a guided tour, which is the only way to see the interior of the Pueblo.”

The content for the app is an expansion of an existing grounds brochure, with the audio tour scripted and recorded by a staff tour guide. The museum is working on a new exhibition in a space that has been closed for over 40 years. As this exhibition unfurls, additional content for the audio tour will be added to the app using OnCell’s flexible app-building platform.

“Our process is to start small and grow. We’re excited to use the app as a tool to enhance the visitor experience and add more content over time,” says Rodriguez.

Cabot's Pueblo Museum Brochure Image

The museum uses brochures to promote the app

The museum promotes their app with brochures and signs for tour stops. The tour can be accessed by a dial in tour number or the mobile web app, which uses a keypad.

Listen to their audio tour with their mobile app at: cabotsmuseum.oncell.com

No Time to Update Your App? We Can Do It for You!

17 Jul

Meet Our Mobile Experts!

OnCell’s app editing service will help you improve your app’s appearance. Our team of mobile experts will evaluate your current app and help improve both its visual readability and overall flow. After a thorough analysis, we’ll make a series of recommendations on how your app can be improved–and implement them for you!

What changes can we make in your app?

  • Restructure page layouts
  • Adjust text and titles for consistency and readability
  • Create site list thumbnail images
  • Add captions to images
  • Group images into rotating galleries*
  • Basic audio editing to clean up noise
  • Create transcriptions for audio files to create more accessible content
  • Group tours by theme
  • Color code map markers and geo tag markers
  • Create more interactivity with image maps* or trivia
  • Create visitor surveys*
  • Implement features you may not be using (but should!)
  • And so many more!

Here are just a few before and after examples:

Contact us today to learn more about how our team can transform your app!

Click any image to enlarge
*Available with Pro plans

Spring Promo: Upgrade to Lite or Pro and Save!

12 Jun

OnCell Mobile Apps Spring Upgrade Promo 2017 Image

Do you want to offer a more robust app for your visitors and include more functionality for your team? With a plan upgrade, you can leverage your app to its fullest potential! Features can include:

  • Multilingual tours
  • Mobile giving campaigns
  • Image galleries, videos, and interactive images
  • Surveys to gather visitor demographics & feedback
  • And so much more!
Explore the Cranbrook House & Gardens app and the Toldeo Museum of Art app for inspiration!

For a limited time, our current clients will receive a discount on product plan upgrades:

  • Upgrade to Lite and save 10%
  • Upgrade to Pro and save 20%

In order to receive this special offer, you must be a current client and your order must be in by July 15th.  

Contact your Client Account Manager with the promo code “Spring2017”. If you are not sure who your client account manager is, send us an email at info@oncell.com or call us at (585) 419-9844. We’ll find the right plan to fit your needs!

 

App Spotlight: Toledo Museum of Art

25 May

Toledo Museum of Art Audio GuideQ&A with Maria Iafelice, Docent Program Manager at Toledo Museum of Art

Since its founding in 1901, the Toledo Museum of Art’s mission has been art education and it has earned a global reputation for the quality of their collection, their innovative and extensive education programs, and their architecturally significant campus. More than 30,000 works of art represent American and European painting, the history of art in glass, ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian works, Asian and African art, medieval art, sculpture, decorative arts, graphic arts, and modern and contemporary art. The app provides content that caters to a variety of audiences and allows visitors to explore the galleries in alternative ways.

Q. How does the app enhance the visitor experience?

A. 
TMApp integrates technology into the gallery experience and provides a sensory learning opportunity for visitors to look, listen and learn; we know that people learn in different ways. Additionally, TMApp creates an opportunity for new audiences to access and connect with our collection and for current audiences to see it in new ways. TMApp allows us to communicate with our visitors and also help them to navigate the space.

Q. The app features a very unique approach to an audio tour, with original poems inspired by the TMA collection penned and read by revered Irish poet Paul Durcan. Was it always the intention to use his work in the app when he began his residency at the museum?

A. 
It was a great honor to have Irish poet Paul Durcan write a book of poetry inspired by works in the TMA collection. While working on the project, we knew we wanted to incorporate his poetry in the galleries. The timing of his public poetry readings and the beginning of our relationship with OnCell was happenstance. This audio tour inspired another poetry-related audio tour that’s currently in the works.

Scavenger narrator Cardinal Antonio Barberini gives users clues to locate an animal on the loose in the galleries.

Q. Another unique feature of the app is a “wild animal hunt” for a creature who has found its way out of an artwork and prompts families to follow clues around the museum.  What inspired you to create this experience in the app?

A. Because the Toledo Museum of Art has a long history of immersing children in the world of art, we believe that it’s never too early to start the learning and engagement process. The goal of the Escape! scavenger hunt on TMApp was to have a fun and playful way for families to explore the galleries and to look closely at works of art.

Q. How has the app been received by visitors and colleagues?

A. We’ve received a number of positive reviews including a young visitor who was so excited about the scavenger hunt that he wanted to come back the next day to explore again!

Q. How do you plan to leverage the app builder to share new content?

A. We’ve used the builder to ensure the app is updated and reflects rotating exhibitions. For example, visitors were able to dive deeper into our special exhibition Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic with a mobile guide that includes artist interviews, with video and audio interviews with the artist; images of the Old Master works of art that were the sources for poses, titles, and other details; audio commentary; and other contextual information. We have also used the guide to include information about TMA collection connections, a soundtrack (on Spotify) inspired by the exhibition and created by the TMA Teen Apprentices, and a selection of audio descriptions for visitors with vision impairments. Visitors can look forward to new guides coming this spring that will include accessibility features including extended audio descriptions.

Q. What advice would you give to other organizations who are looking to create an app?

A. You don’t have to do it alone. This project is a collaborative effort across multiple departments including Information Systems, Marketing and Education & Engagement which has been important in the development phase. Additionally, frontline staff has been leveraged to promote the TMApp experience.

The TMapp app features original audio and poetry, gallery tour, an interactive scavenger hunt, and essential visitor info such as admission and floorplans. The app will soon be paired with location-aware beacons to help visitors discover content. It is available for download on iOS in the App Store and Android in Google Play. Access the web app on any web-enabled device at TMAapp.oncell.com.

What’s Your Sign?

5 Apr

The right signage in the right places.

It’s your first time here, you step into the lobby and look around. There’s the kiosk where you can purchase tickets, the gift shop is nearby, and beyond the new exhibit you’ve heard about. The ticket line is moving slow so you check your phone. After looking at Facebook and email, you get your tickets and walk in. Later that week a friend asks what you thought of the interactive images in the tour app. You’re confused  – “What app?”

Sound far fetched? It’s not.

Physical signage can be the most overlooked step in building a successful mobile experience. And while indeed there are many ways to market your project, without signage, there’s no way for a newcomer to stumble across your tour. Here are tips to avoid this all too common scenario.

Use a unique design!

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 4.55.35 PM

Design matters. Signs for your project should be a continuation of your branding/presence. Whether it’s through typography, colors, or logos, visitors should know who’s behind the project! With good design, users can determine at a glance if the mobile app is an educational guide, a clue on a treasure hunt, or a family experience aimed at children.

While you don’t want to clutter your signs, they should include all the information needed to access the project, such as:

  • Where users can download the app.

  • What URL they need to visit.

  • What phone number they need to dial.

  • What QR code they might scan.

Fun Fact: QR codes can be scanned using SnapChat! Check out our Flickr page for more examples.

Place signage strategically!

Even well designed signs do you no good if they’re not at eye level. Signage should be between four and five feet off the ground. The average sign we produce is 8.5” x 4.25” but we can go larger, or smaller depending on your requirements. Be aware, however, that smaller signs are easier to ignore. Before you mount or install your signs, make sure you know which areas receive the most foot traffic.

Check back!

damage

Be mindful of your signs after their installation. Outdoor signs naturally receive plenty of wear and tear, but indoor fixtures can be susceptible to damage too! Certain materials can increase longevity of your signs, but even a sturdy signage can be easily covered by overgrown vegetation, spoiled by vandalism, or marred by weather related damages.

Use us!

At OnCell, we’re happy to provide feedback and consultations regarding your signage. We’re here to help!

In fact – through the 30th of this month – OnCell is providing a 10% discount on all sign and label orders. Talk to your Client Account Manager to order your signs today!

OnCell Partnership with U.S. Forest Service Aims to Launch an App for Every Forest

28 Dec

New Mobile App Program will Help Educate and Guide Forest Visitors

Daniel Boone National Forest Mobile App

The Daniel Boone National Forest App is the first app to be launched under the Forest Service’s new mobile app program. It is available for download in the App Store and Google Play.

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Dec. 28, 2016 –OnCell has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to launch a mobile tour app for every forest. Working with the Travel, Tourism and Interpretation section of the Forest Service, OnCell has worked diligently to provide a foundation that gives each forest an opportunity to provide educational mobile tours for visitors. The mobile apps will be rolled out gradually, with the goal of launching all sites by mid-2017.

OnCell, a leader in the mobile tour space for museums, parks, and destinations, will provide the backend technology to build, launch, and manage the tours. All the apps will be constructed with OnCell’s app building platform.

“The new mobile program for forest destinations is very exciting,” says Thomas Dunne, President and CEO of OnCell. “A smartphone is a valuable part of a traveler’s toolkit. The apps will be a great way for forest rangers and staff to provide educational interpretive messages and real time alerts to visitors through their personal devices.”

OnCell will help each forest launch an app with ranger and staff-curated educational content, historic images, maps, and visitor information. After the app is launched, each forest will take over the mobile project and use the app builder to extend the experience with more points of interest and additional wayfinding information. Rangers will also use the app to send time sensitive messages to users, such as closures.

As part of the program, OnCell has worked closely with the Forest Service to develop a special look and feel for the apps that is in line with the Forest Service’s identity.

“The app design created for the Forest Service is just beautiful,” says Dunne. “We wanted visitors to instantly recognize the apps as an extension of the Forest Service, with confidence it will provide relevant and accurate information for their visit.”

A portal app will also be developed that houses every forest app. People can download the portal app to locate nearby forests and take virtual tours across the country.

The Forest Service tested a pilot program with OnCell in 2015, with five forests participating and building their own apps.

Apps for six forests will be available for download early January 2017, with the portal app launching early 2017. Apps slated to be released include, Lake Tahoe Basin in California, Daniel Boone in Kentucky, and San Juan in Colorado.

Visitors can access the apps by downloading them from the App Store or Google Play.

About OnCell

OnCell provides a full range of mobile tour technologies for museums, parks, and cultural destinations. With a variety of interactive services such as a DIY app builder, native and web apps, audio guides, beacon tours, and scavenger hunts, OnCell helps organizations become mobile-friendly. As mobile communication experts who are passionate about the arts and education, the OnCell team has worked on over 2,200 projects both in the U.S. and internationally since its inception in 2006.

Contact:
Monica Barndt, Director of Marketing, OnCell, mbarndt@oncell.com

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