Tag Archives: Native Apps

Free Case Study: the Edsel Ford House Smartphone App

20 Jun

Did you miss our webinar on Mobile Apps in Historic Homes? Don’t fret!

In partnership with the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, we’ve just released a new white paper that explains their award-winning app project – from conception to launch and evaluation.

Go ahead and download it – and send it to your friends and colleagues.

Click here to download the Ford House Mobile App: Case Study.ford house white paper

Apps as a Marketing Tool for Book Publishers

9 Nov

The digital versus print worlds have been at odds in the publishing industry for years, and while many people argue for one side or the other, smarter publishers have learned how to embrace both. The problem is, digital initiatives can be expensive and out of reach for many independent publishing houses.

Union Park Press here in Boston is one such indie publisher. They put out great titles on history, arts and culture in New England, and they were seeking a

creative way to market their latest title, Drinking Boston: A History of the City and its Spirits by Stephanie Schorow. And that’s the reason that those who pick up this title–suitable for both the history buff and the cocktail aficionado–will find a QR code in an unlikely place: on the book’s cover. The QR code leads to a TourSphere tour of the book’s bars and pubs–a virtual pub crawl that, with the help of the interactive map in the app, helps to bring the book to life and allows the user to retrace the book’s steps through the city.

Creatively marketing a book through a free app is something new to indie book publishing, which until now has seen apps and digital marketing as often outside its budget. When apps cost tens of thousands to develop, it’s hard to justify them as part of a small title’s marketing budget. But TourSphere was able to provide Union Park Press with a creative solution that addressed the issues normally faced with digitalmarketing:

  • Expense: While a traditional app can cost tens of thousands of dollars, TourSphere allows anyone to develop an app for free. A small hosting fee applies only when the app goes live.
  • Technical Expertise: Traditionally, app development requires a technical expert or programmer. TourSphere was designed to allow people to develop apps with no coding or programming; it’s a simple content management system that almost anyone will be able to use.
  • Accessibility: Normally, you’d have to decide whether you want to develop an iPhone or Android app, known as native apps, and that would leave many of your potential users out in the cold. TourSphere’s web app technology looks and feels like any other app on your phone but is accessible through any web browser on any mobile device, phone or tablet. Because it’s web based, it also allows for instant and free changes to the app whenever you want.

Drinking Boston’s virtual pub crawl app offers a dynamic addition to the book and helps connect users to its content. By launching a PR campaign around the app, Union Park Press is also able to garner additional attention for the book and engage app users who may then be interested in a more robust history in print.

For more information, or to check out the Drinking Boston app, visit http://drinkingboston.toursphere.com/en/.

Apps 101: Native apps vs. Mobile Web apps

1 Aug

I spend a lot of time talking to people and organizations – museums, hotels, universities – about mobile apps. One of the first things I like to point out is that there are different kinds of mobile apps. There are native apps like iPhone and Android apps, and there are Mobile Web apps. It’s important to understand both in order to decide what’s best for you.

What’s the Difference Between Native Apps and Web Apps?

Native apps are built to work on to work on one platform (like the iPhone), not multiple platforms. To download a native app, you need to:

1. Go to the appropriate app store

2. Search for and locate the app

3. Download the app to your device.

By contrast, Mobile Web apps are built to work across different platforms, allowing you to have one app that works on all smartphones and tablet devices. Rather than needing to go to an app store, you simply access the app through the Internet browser on your phone. No downloads needed. To access a web app, you need to:

1. Type in the app’s URL in your browser (or scan a QR code). That’s it. No downloads. No waiting.

To expand a little more on this concept: native iPhone apps only work on iPhones (and iPod Touches). Native Android apps only work on Android phones and tablets.  If you want to reach multiple platforms, you need to build multiple native apps. Additionally, native apps in most cases require a submission process which can take several days or weeks to get approval. It’s not fun giving a third-party veto power over your content.

Alternatively, you can think of a Mobile Web app as a super-slick website optimized for mobile devices. So any smartphone, tablet or even desktop computer can use web apps. Plus with advancements in HTML5 and some other programming languages, a nicely designed Mobile Web app can now be almost indistinguishable from a native app.  Mobile Web Apps now include location-aware maps, touchscreen keypads, and all sorts of snazzy buttons and footers which look just like a native app.

Here are some screen shots of Web apps which have been built on TourSphere:


Web Apps can look and function much like native apps.

Here’s a quick comparison of Native Apps vs. Mobile Web apps:


To summarize? Obviously, the right choice for your organization depends on your specific goals and connectivity situation. The goal of this post is to let you know that there are different kind of apps, so you can make the best choice for your organization.

At TourSphere, we offer both options (native and mobile web apps). We even have clients that do both: the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has a Mobile Web app for visitors that own smartphones, and they also have 300 iPod Touches loaded with a Native iOS app that they loan out to non-smartphone owners.

Having said that, here at TourSphere we are big believers in Web Apps.  In our experience they often provide the most bang for your buck when budgets are tight – allowing you to build one app and reach the maximum number of visitors.  Plus updates are quick and easy, there is no approval process with an app store, and web apps can launch instantly with no download time.

Do you have strong feelings about native apps or mobile web apps? Do you have one, or both, or neither? Jump in and join the conversation!

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