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OnCell Acquires Competitors My Tours & STQRY

11 Jan

oncell-my-tours logos-banner

Acquisition of New Zealand-based company Authentic will drive mobile tour app technology innovation for cultural and historic sites

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Jan. 11, 2019–OnCell announced today it has acquired Authentic, a New Zealand-based company which develops My Tours and STQRY, a respected competitor in the mobile tour app technology space. OnCell pioneered the first self-guided mobile tour platform for cultural sites and historic destinations, and allows organizations to offer their visitors immersive educational experiences using their smartphones and tablets.

Over the past decade, OnCell and My Tours have both succeeded at building innovative mobile tour app technology solutions designed to meet the changing needs of museums, parks, attractions, cities, and historic sites of all sizes. With location-based mobile tour delivery, native and web apps, hands-free touring, gaming, and beacons, both companies have consistently evolved their platforms as new technologies become available, furthering their commitment to provide cutting-edge products for their clients.

The acquisition strengthens OnCell’s position as a leader in the self-guided mobile tour app space, significantly increases its global presence, and expands its commitment to support hundreds of organizations in their efforts to engage and educate visitors.

OnCell was founded by entrepreneur Thomas Dunne, who has served as Chief Executive Officer and President since OnCell’s inception in 2006. Dunne, with over 25 years of experience in application development, telecommunications, and sales, has grown OnCell to a team of nearly 20 employees.

“This is an exciting time for OnCell. We are thrilled to add Authentic’s brands to our portfolio and welcome both their team and clients,” said Thomas Dunne. “Together, our innovative technologies will keep us ahead in the market, offering an unrivaled product and feature set.”

My Tours was founded by technologist Glen Barnes in 2009. In recent years, Barnes, worked to acquire two additional competitors, and formed Authentic as an umbrella company in 2016. Authentic currently powers three different platforms designed for the cultural and heritage space – My Tours, STQRY, and Curtis.

“We are delighted to be joining the OnCell team,” said Glen Barnes. “Our international client base along with OnCell’s strong US presence creates a powerful worldwide footprint and means we will achieve global scale quicker. The combined product suite will allow us to pick the best solution for our customers, from small museums to the world’s major cities. ”

Dunne will remain President and CEO of OnCell and Barnes will continue to play a vital role in the new company structure as Chief Product Officer, working alongside Dunne on the leadership team, as well as  managing a team of engineers. Dunne plans to keep the current My Tours team to support the New Zealand office.

“Our people are core to OnCell’s success. It is their expertise, desire to push boundaries, and passion to ship great products which allows us to expand our technology and keep us ahead in the market. We are elated to have Authentic’s team join our family,” added Dunne.

With Authentic’s portfolio of brands, OnCell can now provide even more services to support cultural and historic sites. In addition to mobile tours, with the platform Curtis, OnCell can now offer collection management tools. With STQRY, OnCell will have an innovative mobile app that allows anyone to discover educational content about fascinating destinations across the world.

Combined, OnCell now powers thousands of projects for clients, delivering stories and interpretation to over ten plus million visitors this past year alone, across 19 countries, making it a clear leader in the mobile tour technology space. The new OnCell will continue to drive technology innovation while providing customers with best-in-class support for all of their platforms.

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 games, OnCell helps organizations become mobile-friendly. As mobile communication experts who are passionate about the arts, outdoors, and education, the OnCell team has worked on over 3,000 projects both in the U.S. and internationally since its inception in 2006. www.oncell.com

About Authentic
Authentic is passionate about creating mobile applications to help audiences explore, engage, and discover arts and culture in new ways. Powering three platforms which address the different needs of cultural and historic sites, Authentic empowers organizations to create their own mobile tour apps, searchable websites and kiosks for their collections, and provides the ability to share their stories via an innovative app which allows visitors to search all things arts and culture in their area. www.getauthentic.io

Choose Your Winter Promo!

17 Dec

oncell-2018-winter-promo

Through the remainder of December, choose one or more offers to get your organization’s mobile app ready for 2019. Anyone can choose from:

  • 3 Photo Filters for $1,000: We’ll design and integrate 3 custom image overlays which allow your visitors to create souvenir photos in your app
  • $49/Month Web App Add-on: Offer an alternative access point for your app and leverage features such as QR codes and mobile giving
  • 30% off a Mini-Theme Design: Make your app an extension of your brand with custom fonts, logos, and icons

Bonus offer for New Clients:

  • Free Mini-QuickStart: Launch your app faster with our app-building service. Our mobile experts will build the first 25 pages of your app for you.

Bonus offer for Current Clients:

  • 30% off a plan upgrade: Give your visitors more ways to engage with increased app functionality, including multiple languages, videos, interactive images, push notifications, and games

Hurry — your order must be in by 12/31/18.

Ready to get started? Send us an email at info@oncell.com or call us at (585) 419-9844. We’ll work with you to find the best offer to fit your needs.

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”.

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.

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

###

App Spotlight: Texas Time Travel Tours

7 Jul

Q&A with Susan Shore, Heritage Tourism Program Specialist at the Texas Historical Commission

Texas Time Travel Tours, the mobile app created by the Texas Historical Commission, is a true portrait of Texas. The app features over 550 sites, 170 of which are highlighted with audio and video. Currently there are seven statewide tours in the app and one site-specific tour for THC historic property Fulton Mansion. Points of interest cover the entire state, from Amarillo to Brownsville, to Texarkana to El Paso. The primary goal for the app is to inspire people to travel Texas and specifically historic sites, whether that is a historic fort or a downtown district.

Q. Why did the Texas Historical Commission decide to create an app?

A. 
Our team had been considering the development of a mobile app for some time. We traditionally have created travel guides in a print format, but not only is it quite expensive, it limits the content we can include. In addition to broadening our user demographic by introducing Texas history on a mobile device, we also wanted to broaden our storytelling capacity to drive visitation to communities across the state. The THC’s motto is “real places telling real stories”—what better way than to encourage travel to those places?

Q. What are the benefits for visitors to use the app?

A. Accessing the stories of Texas using the app allows the user to have information at the ready on their personal device, whether they are traveling to a location or simply viewing from the comfort of home. Once the full native app format is complete with individual tour download capability, users will have more complete access to points of interest in areas of the state that are quite remote and have limited cell/wifi connectivity.

As mentioned earlier, the app allows for rich visual storytelling with the inclusion of image galleries and video, something not possible using print formats.

We have lots of stories to tell! The app’s capacity to house multiple tours gives users access to all of it with just a click or a swipe. Users can also quickly know what places are close to them by using the Nearby map that shows points of interest for all tours.

Q.  How did the THC team go about planning such a large project?

A. Planning began about a year before the initial RFP was issued. We researched other apps for excellence in both storytelling and user experience, and developed a strong vision for our end product. While we had a long list of functions we would like to have in the app, we also realized that the costs of having a platform custom developed for our project probably didn’t meet the long term ROI. We found that already established platforms like the one offered by OnCell could meet our needs with some customization.

Q. Can you tell us a little about how the content was created for the tours?

A. Most of the initial tours built upon existing agency print guides or guides under development. These guides served as the foundational material to help define the scope of each tour. We established small groups of subject matter experts and advisory stakeholders to work with the staff development team. We contracted external vendors for scriptwriting and video production services.

Q. Can you tell us about your marketing strategy for the app?

A. Much of our publicity is tied to the THC’s social media channels–Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blog posts. Videos from all of the tours are included on our YouTube channel and descriptively tied to the app. This also makes it easier to embed in posts on other channels like Facebook. We experience very high engagement on Facebook when video stories are included in posts about the different tours on the app.

Launches for individual tours are tied to related external events when practical. For example, La Salle Odyssey launch corresponded to the opening of a new permanent installation of the reconstructed ship, La Belle, in a major museum. Hispanic Texas launched during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Each tour provides many storytelling opportunities, and will make it easy for us to continue promotions throughout the year with little or no content repetition. All of these contain language that directs user to the full app experience.

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

A. Do your research and ask questions for both platform selection and content development. Keep your audience top-of-mind and be consistent in the style and quality of all elements of the project.

Texas Time Travel Tours features an immersive blend of interpretive audio with first person interviews, video, and image galleries that allows users to experience the real places and real stories of Texas. GPS features allow visitors to locate nearby points of interest and offers people an easy way to share content with social media. Explore the rich heritage of Texas by downloading the app, available for iOS in the App Store and Android in Google Play. Access the web app on any web-enabled device at http://texastimetravel.toursphere.com

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