Tag Archives: App Builder

New Feature Release: Favorites Smart Page

23 Nov

Museum and Event mobile app builder favorite sites pageYou asked and you got it! The ability to collect favorite pages in an app and to build a schedule of events is now available in the OnCell App Builder.

When you enable this functionality in your app, your visitor will see a heart icon at the top of every page in your app. The visitor taps the heart icon to add the page to their favorites list. Additionally, any page in your app can be assigned a time and date stamp, so visitors can create an easy-to-read schedule of events they are interested in at your venue.

The visitor can access all of their favorited pages by tapping the “Favorites” button found in the main navigation. Favorited pages will sort alphabetically or chronologically if a date has been set.

Our Favorites Smart Page complements any type of app, be it a tour app to collect stops that visitors would like to see, an event app to build a schedule, or a destination marketing app to save must-visit places in a city.

Explore some of the apps who have implemented favorites into their app. The Virginia Association of Museums allows conference attendees to build their own schedule, while the Cranbrook House and Gardens allows visitors to collect favorite stops on their tour.

Our new Favorites Smart Page is available in Pro plans. Contact us to learn more or to upgrade your existing plan.

Tips & Tricks: How to Create Apps with a Custom Feel

1 Apr

If you don’t have the budget right now to create a unique custom design for your app, don’t fret. Our builder was designed to be flexible and lets you tap your creative spirit! You can easily give your app more punch by taking advantage of the app builder’s capabilities and enlisting your resident image maven.

Creating Unique Apps

A site list graphic is created as one image, but is designed to give the appearance of multiple buttons.

1. Make a unique site list by using images with touchable hotspots.

Create an original image graphic for your site list that breaks down your app content into specific categories. In the builder, add the Image Map widget to the desired page and upload the graphic. You’ll then be able to draw touchable “hotspots” over each category and turn each section into an interactive “button”. Since you are creating this image specifically for your app, you can choose to graphically represent the categories as circles, squares, rectangles, even icons–it’s up to you!

Check out a great example created by the Cranbrook House and Gardens. The Home page of their app features an image map with touchable hotspots.

2. Make those site lists feel even more custom by using images with a transparent background.

Consider creating a site list graphic with a transparent background. In the example below, the image on the left was created with a textured blue background and saved as a JPG. The image on the right was created with a transparent background and saved as a PNG file in order to preserve the transparency. Note how using a transparent background gives the impression the category “buttons” are floating on the background of the app–as opposed to obscuring the background–and leaves more of a custom feel. Again, the client is utilizing our Image Map widget to turn each category into a touchable hotspot to drive the user to the appropriate page in the app.

Mobile Tour Example Home Page

A client uses special graphics and the image map widget to make their Home page pop.

3. Add text or logos to your images.

Strategically adding your logo or app name to strategic images in your app can make a huge impact on its overall look and feel. In the image above, the client added text to their home page image using image editing software. Because the client was able to implement fonts from their organization’s style guide, the end user is instantly presented with the client’s branding. On this particular sample, the client turned off the page padding in the builder to allow the image to span the full width of the page, which presents a different feel as well. This setting can be changed on a page-by-page basis by clicking on the page header in the builder.

4. Create transparent banners in your app.

Using image editing software, you can easily mount graphics you’ve created for other purposes as a way to bring in your branding. In the examples below on the left, the Canadian Museum of Nature has reused an existing image designed for a printed map and centered it onto a transparent banner. On the right, a client’s logo is used instead. In both scenarios the banner is created at 1024 pixels wide, with the image centered, and saved as a transparent PNG. The transparency of the file, and the fact that the image is centered–rather than running the full width of the page–presents a more refined feel to your app. If you create a banner for your logo, you can play with the height of the file and reuse it throughout your app–taller banners at the top of a key pages like a Home or About Us, or shorter ones subtly placed at the bottom of each page in your app. For more info and examples about sizing banners, visit our Learning Center.

Images mounted and centered onto transparent image banners lend a custom feel to your app.

Images mounted and centered onto transparent image banners lend a custom feel to your app.

 

Incorporating some of these ideas can transform your app and turn one of our stock themes into one that reflects your organization’s identity. If your organization does not have image editing software, you can always use free ones like Pixlr or Photoshop CS2.

Did you learn any tricks while building your app? Tell us about them!

New Enhancements to Our App Builder’s Essential Features

9 Mar

Based on much-welcomed client feedback, we’ve made some enhancements to the most popular features available in the TourSphere App Builder.

Custom Surveys
Collect valuable data that relates specifically to your organization’s visitor services and marketing goals. Open up the survey widget in your project and you’ll now see the option to craft your own survey questions and create multiple choice selections.

Google Maps
You now have the ability to color code markers within your GPS maps. Easily distinguish between different tour paths by assigning a specific color group to each. You can even use this new feature to note different themes within your tour, draw attention to local sponsors, or offer additional wayfinding by noting parking or restrooms in the area.

Image Captions
Easily add captions below images in your app. You’ll now see this option in the image editor for all images placed in your tour.

Photo Gallery
Creating new photo galleries and adding more images to your app has never been more intuitive with this feature’s new user interface. Also, you now have the option to add a caption to each image.

Do you have a fantastic idea for a new feature or a way to improve our existing builder? Share them with us! In the meantime, please contact us or your Client Account Manager if you have any questions about these enhancements–we’re here to help!

Saratoga National Historic Park and OnCell-TourSphere Partner to Revamp Mobile App

26 Feb

Redesigned Self-Guided Tour App Offers Visitors Elegant, User-Friendly Experience

OnCell-TourSphere NPS Saratoga National Historic Park Tour App

STILLWATER, N.Y., February 25, 2015–Saratoga National Historic Park has partnered with OnCell-TourSphere to launch their newly redesigned mobile tour app. The two worked closely together to create a custom branded app to achieve the iconic National Park Service look and meet their strict design standards. The self-guided audio tour serves to educate visitors and armchair travelers alike about the pivotal 1777 Battles of Saratoga during the American Revolutionary War.

Saratoga National Historic Park originally launched their first audio tour with OnCell-TourSphere in 2007–a cell phone tour where visitors dialed a phone number to listen to audio content. The tour has been transformed into a unique app in order to offer a clean, user-friendly experience for visitors and to better meet the park’s interpretive goals while providing consistent NPS branding.

“Feedback from visitors using the basic cell tour were always very positive–I can only imagine they will be even more pleased with this new incarnation of the tour” says says Gina Johnson, Chief of Interpretation at Saratoga National Historic Park. “The new app offers a fabulous opportunity to tell our story and a new way for visitors to enjoy the park.”

The app features engaging content for over 30 points of interest, including images and an audio tour of the battlefield created by the Friends of Saratoga Battlefield. Visitors can also listen to the new Wilkinson Trail Hiking Tour, an immersive soundscape with two distinct tours, one for adults and a student-narrated one for children. The Wilkinson Trail tours were created by Park Rangers, volunteers, and interns. Visitors can discover points of interest with location aware alerts and GPS-enabled maps.

Built with OnCell-TourSphere’s flexible app-building platform, the site intends to add more stories and additional park visitor information to the app over time. The mobile web app can be accessed on any web-enabled device at: http://sara.toursphere.com

About Saratoga National Historic Park
Saratoga National Historic Park preserves the site of the 1777 Battles of Saratoga, the “Turning Point of the American Revolution,” which have been called the “most important battle(s) in the last 1000 years.” Located on pastoral bluffs above the Hudson River, the two hotly contested battles fought against the British here ended in an American victory that made independence possible and spread the powerful ideas of democracy throughout the world. First authorized as a New York State historic preserve in 1927, the Battlefield was later made part of the National Park System in 1938.

About OnCell-TourSphere
OnCell-TourSphere provides a full range of mobile tour solutions for museums and cultural destinations. 
With a variety of interactive services such as a DIY app builder, smartphone apps, mobile web apps, audio tours, beacons, and scavenger hunts, OnCell-TourSphere helps organizations become mobile-friendly. As mobile communication experts who are passionate about the arts and education, the OnCell-TourSphere team has worked on over 2,000 projects both in the U.S. and internationally since its inception in 2006.

Media Contacts:
Monica Barndt, OnCell-TourSphere, (585) 419-9844
Gina Johnson, NPS Saratoga National Historic Park, (563) 652-5020

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$49 Do-It-Yourself Audio Guides For Museums, Parks, & Cultural Destinations

24 Feb

OnCell-TourSphere Launches New Product to Help All Organizations Go Mobile

PITTSFORD, N.Y., February 24, 2015–OnCell-TourSphere, a leader in the mobile technology space for museums, parks, and cultural destinations, has announced today a new product, a $49 DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Audio Guide that will enable organizations to easily create affordable, engaging audio tours.

The New York-based company works closely with museums and cultural destinations to develop audio tours and apps with their core product, an easy-to-use content management system that allows organizations to upload media content, create points of interest, and output mobile tours. Visitors are given instant access to educational content through their mobile devices.

“We’ve streamlined our product offerings to provide cultural sites of all sizes a way to educate their visitors,” says Thomas Dunne, President and CEO of OnCell-TourSphere. “So many organizations have amazing stories to tell, but operate on a shoestring budget–we want to give them the opportunity to tell their story regardless of how much funding they receive.”

The new $49 DIY Audio Guide plan allows organizations to quickly build their own audio guides, which are accessible via a local phone number and mobile app.

OnCell-TourSphere technology has powered thousands of mobile tours for the National Park Service, US Forest Service, museums, and historic homes.

About OnCell-TourSphere
OnCell-TourSphere provides a full range of mobile tour solutions integrated onto a single platform, a DIY app builder. With a variety of interactive services such as smartphone apps, mobile web apps, audio tours, beacons, mobile surveys, geo-fencing, and scavenger hunts, OnCell-TourSphere helps cultural
sites and organizations become mobile-friendly to meet the needs of the growing mobile audience. As mobile communication experts who are passionate about the arts and education, the OnCell-TourSphere team has worked on over 2,000 projects both in the U.S. and internationally since its inception in 2006.


Contact:
Monica Barndt
Director of Marketing
OnCell-TourSphere
(585) 419-9844

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New Feature: Google Field Trip Integration

24 Nov

OnCell-TourSphere has partnered with Google Field Trip to provide quality “stories” to Field Trip users. With over 1 million Google-Field-Trip-Partner-TourSpheredownloads to date, Field Trip is an excellent way to learn about what’s around you and is available as a downloadable native app in Google Play and the Apple App Store.

What is Google Field Trip?
Field Trip connects visitors to interesting sights and information, wherever they are. It runs in the background on your smartphone, and when you get close to something interesting, it pops up a card with details about the point of interest. If you have a headset or are Bluetooth connected, it can even read the information aloud to you.

How does this affect your tour?

Through this partnership, OnCell-TourSphere clients have the option to distribute tour content from their live app to Google Field Trip. It’s a win-win solution to give your tour content even more visibility and provide another point of access for your visitors or passersby who may not otherwise know about your tour. The tour “stops” from your OnCell-TourSphere mobile app will be available on Field Trip pop-up cards with a link to your live OnCell-TourSphere mobile tour.

A few thoughts to remember about pushing content to Field Trip:
1) Field Trip integration is available in both Pro and Lite accounts. 2) Enabling Field Trip will not affect your current billing amount as there is no additional charge. 3) When building/editing your tour, simply make sure each of your stops have the following items to help tell your “story”:

  • Map marker in a Google Map widget or a GeoAlert set
  • At least one image or a defined project app icon
  • Text widget that contains descriptive text

Would you like to learn more? Contact your Client Account Manager or email us to get the conversation started.

New Feature: Photo Gallery

15 Aug

You may have noticed some of our tour apps have photo galleries that rotate automatically and can also be swiped. These were beta users of our Photo Gallery widget and we’re happy to announce that it is now available in the App Builder for TourSphere Pro accounts.

What is the Photo Gallery widget?
The Photo Gallery widget allows you to add multiple photos to a single page in one image carrier. Think of it as a responsive slideshow that gives users access to multiple photos on a single page without scrolling. You can set the gallery to auto rotate, adjust the timing of the rotation, or let users swipe to the next image. You can even use the gallery to add sponsor logos to specific stops on your tour.

How do you add a Photo Gallery to your tour?
Use our web-based mobile App Builder to create a Photo Gallery on a page-by-page basis. You must be in a project created with TourSphere Pro. You’ll find a new widget under the Add Widget menu. Once you click to add the widget to the page, the Photo Gallery editor will open up. Upload photos from your computer directly into the gallery, or drag images from the Library to the Image section on the right. Click the Show Options button to set the auto-rotatation and speed.

A few thoughts to remember about the Photo Gallery:
1) The gallery looks best when all the images have the same dimensions. 2) In the widget editor, drag and drop the thumbnails to re-order the images. 3) If you don’t have a Pro account, you can still take the widget for a test drive by creating a new project from your Dashboard and selecting Pro.

Would you like to learn more? Contact your Client Account Manager or email us to get the conversation started.

 

App Spotlight: Connecticut River Museum’s April 8, 1814 British Raid Walking Tour

2 Jun

Q&A with Jennifer White-Dobbs, Director of Education

Scan the QR code to access the audio tour app!

Scan the QR code to experience the audio tour app!

The Connecticut River Museum, in historic Essex, CT, is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. It plays an important role in collecting and protecting manuscripts, books, art, and artifacts of regional significance. This app details the historic 1814 Raid by the British on Essex, and is one of many ways offered by the museum to interact with the story, allowing users to discover details of the event. The app was built to complement their newly redesigned British Raid on Essex exhibit.

The tour takes the user across Essex Village and follows two children, Austin and Emma, as they experience the raid first hand. In an effort to bring more interactivity to the experience, most of the sites on the tour encourage users to participate in activities along the way. The Connecticut River Museum used the TourSphere App Builder to build their own app and created the content in-house by creatively utilizing their resources. Curator Amy Trout, coordinator of all the Battlesite research, wrote the script. They enlisted one of their trustees, who does voiceover work, to help with audio production and editing, and brought in children of employees to narrate.

Q: What are your interpretive goals for the Battlesite Essex project and what are the benefits for visitors to use the app?

A: We wanted to raise awareness and understanding of the April 8, 1814 event, and through that, emphasize the fact that history happens here (and everywhere!) This project offers a way for visitors to take the information in the museum’s exhibit and bring it out into the landscape, explore Essex Village, and retrace the event along the way–it’s something fun for visitors to do together as family and friends.

Q: What inspired you to have the tour experience seen through children’s eyes?

A: We wanted to emphasize this as an activity for families and inter-generational groups of visitors. The intent was to keep the story fairly basic and not be overly academic. We already have the exhibit which offers the greater details and analysis, so using the kids as narrators kept it fresh and upbeat.

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

1. Make sure you offer information in layers to engage a variety of users.
2. Walk the route a lot (even if you think you know it).
3. Less can be more (if you have lots of info to share, combine the tour with an exhibit, printed guide, website or other way for folks to get the info).
4. Work as a team, different perspectives are key in a project like this because users will come at your product from different places.

Q: How did you like working with the App Builder?

A: The App Builder was very easy to use. The video tutorials and staff training session addressed almost all the areas that could have been issues. Everyone was great at answering questions promptly when things cropped up. The App Builder was actually fun to work with and being able to preview as you went was very handy.

For more on info on producing your own content in-house check out our do-it-yourself series.

April 8, 1814 - The British Raid on Essex mobile audio tour app. To access the tour scan the QR Code above or type http://connecticutrivermuseum.toursphere.com into your web-enabled device

April 8, 1814 – The British Raid on Essex mobile audio tour app. To access the tour scan the QR Code above or type http://connecticutrivermuseum.toursphere.com into your web-enabled device

5 Reasons to Build an App for Your Event

6 Nov

Regardless of the occasion—open studio, professional conference, or other—hosting an event takes a lot of effort.

Several TourSphere clients have used our app builder to create “Event Apps” that make life easier – for you and event attendees.

5 Ways an Event App Can Help You and Your Guests

Smartphone user at conference1. Have schedules at your fingertips. An app provides real-time schedule information in one accessible place—that is easily editable with our builder.

For their 2013 conference, the Virginia Association of Museums created an event app and added a Schedule section. It broke down all activities over the four-day conference, providing a convenient reference point for attendees.

2. Integrate directions and maps. Our app builder allows you to integrate a Google map or even insert a custom map with touchable hotspots for indoor events, or situations with poor connectivity, that takes users to specific points in the app.

The arts organization New Art Love uses TourSphere to build apps for open studio events for local artists. Not only does the app show users where to go, it lists the numbers and names of all artists at each point of interest.

3. Make recommendations about local attractions. Some guests might not know where they can grab a bite to eat on the way to the event, or what else there is to do in the area if they arrive early. The New England Museum Association used their 2012 conference app to detail city tours and point users to transportation and dining options.

4. Provide a portal for other event resources. An event app can also remind your guests why they’re coming and what to expect from the event through the careful placement of mission statements and background information about you, the host. You can also provide info for users to follow up after the event. For example, apps created by New Art Love allow visitors to look up their favorite artists and directly link to their websites, increasing purchases associated with the event and bolstering interest in the community. Apps can also be excellent tools for providing additional sponsorship and exhibitor visibility.

5. Make your guests feel cared for and welcome. The host’s ultimate responsibility is ensuring that their guests have a good time. By putting all the practical information about your event in one place, you and your co-hosts are free to greet guests personally and focus attention on the event’s purpose, whether that’s promoting a new product, showcasing ideas, or bringing family and friends together.

Add a Google Map to Your App

23 Jul

Map IconIf you’re building a walking or city tour with the TourSphere builder, allowing the user to track their position in relation to all the sites in your app is essential. Here’s a quick intro and tutorial on how to use our Google Map widget.

What is the Google Map widget?

This widget allows you to add a map to any page in your app, create site markers, and define links that connect the user to various sites in your app. In your final app, when the user taps a marker, they are taken to the desired point of interest.

Before you dive into maps, you’ll want to make sure you have a few point of interest pages built in your app.

How to Add a Map

When you are in your project, click the green add Add button to open the widget drop-down menu. Select the Google Map widget. This will drop the widget onto your page and open the map editor. You will be prompted to enter a city name or address—this can either be the general area of your tour or the starting location of the first stop. Once you enter the address, you will be zoomed into that area, setting the stage for building your map.

How to Add and Set a Marker

There are two ways to add markers. With the map editor open, click the green Add Marker button on the top left. You can then enter a specific address location—you’ll see the marker fall onto the page. The other method is to zoom in on the map to the desired location and click on the map itself to drop the marker.

Once you’ve added a marker, you’ll see a new drop-down menu appear at the bottom of the page. This is where you will select a page in your app to link to the marker.

The second option, under the Link menu, is to title the marker. This title appears in the pop up bubble the user sees when they tap the marker and the optional site list. The widget automatically pulls the title of the page you have linked, but you can choose to enter an alternative title in this field. Don’t forget to save!

The Marker List

In the map editor, on the right you will see a list of all the markers added to your map. If you want to edit a specific point of interest, use the Search feature to quickly find a specific marker. Click on the marker title and you will see the editing options reappear at the bottom.

If you hover over one of the marker titles, you will see the marker jump on the map to locate it visually on the map.

How to Edit Markers

You can edit your markers by clicking on the marker directly or by clicking on the title in the marker list. Either method will open the link and title editor.

Edit your marker location at anytime by dragging and dropping the marker itself to a new location on the map.

Map Options

There are features you can enable on a map-by-map basis. They can be accessed by clicking the green button labeled Map Options in the top right of the map editor window. Check off an option to enable it.

The three optional features that can appear as icons in the left corner of any map are:

    GPS—Allows users to pinpoint their location on the map.
    Home—The user ultimately will zoom and pan around the map. This feature allows the user to re-center the map to its original position.
    List—Displays a list of all the points of interest defined in the map. The text in this list is determined by the individual page titles.

If you are building your app for optimal viewing on tablet devices, you may want to consider displaying your map as an inset view. This adds additional padding to the bottom of the map so it does not take up the full screen.

Positioning the Home View of the Map

As you add markers, you’ll pan and zoom around the map. When you leave the map editor, the last position the map was in is the “Home” position—the area that user sees when they access the map for the first time in the final app. After all of your markers have been added, zoom out a bit so all of the markers are clustered towards the middle of the map. Exit the editor and use the app preview function to view how the map and markers look. If necessary, re-open the editor and make a series of small tweaks to the position.

We find best practice is to zoom out to reveal all of the markers and the entire area the tour covers. However, you can also zoom in to show the detail of the starting position of the tour. Either way, keep in mind the Home position will change a bit from device to device depending on the screen ratio.

Marker Numbers

If you have a sequential tour, you can label each marker with a site number. The site number is set in the individual page settings. Access the page settings by closing the map editor and going back to your pages. Select any tour site page and click on the header—the gray bar at the top where the page title appears. In the editor that appears on the left, enter the Site Number and click Save. The Google Map will automatically pull each site number and tie it to the corresponding marker.

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