Creating Umbrella Apps for Global Markets


Office of Digital and Design Innovation’s (ODDI) Mobile Product Lead, Will Sullivan, is actively working on the pre-production stages for Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) entity-specific ‘umbrella apps’.

The team at ODDI and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) (headed up by Sullivan)—in conjunction with contracting teams that are in the process of being selected—have a plan to create iOS (for Apple devices) and Android (for Google devices) mobile umbrella apps that will allow all BBG entities to offer up their Pangea-based articles and multimedia. They’re also investigating creating apps for Symbian OS (for Nokia devices) and BlackBerry (for RIM devices) in markets where those are still popular.

The apps are a solution to help get our content on multiple platforms and on a shared code base to help improve features across the board, as well as making maintenance and improvements sustainable. The websites will still exist and be updated, but these apps will take advantage of unique mobile features such as live streaming audio, push notifications, downloading and saving of content for offline or low-bandwidth viewing and and proxy server assistance to help users access info in countries where much of the internet is heavily controlled–like in Iran or China.

One of the primary reasons for creating these branded umbrella apps is due to Apple’s policy to clean up their app stores to eliminate copycat apps, spam, malware and apps that aren’t designed or unique for the mobile experience. According to an analytical software company, their tool App Trace confirmed, “an estimated 400,000 to 450,000 applications out of 650,000 total are invisible to the app users.”

Apple prefers to curate high-end and unique apps that are capable of doing more than what is provided on a website.  For example, Apple’s App Store does not want upwards of 50 different VOA language service apps, but rather one VOA app with an option to switch languages.

The umbrella apps will not be a version of ‘castle building’ (one big product delivery per year), but rather iterative versions will be released throughout the year to add features as new technologies are developed and feedback is solicited from entities and users.

The initial stages of this project are underway and mockups are expected later this year.

For more info:
·        App Store’s over 400,000 Applications Were Downloaded Zero Times
·        Google Play Grows Up: New Developer Policies Will Clean Up Google’s App Store
·        App Store Infested with Zombie Software, Claims Analytics Startup Adeven

To contact Will Sullivan: @Journerdism

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(Thank you to Will Sullivan for his contributions to this post.)

(The foregoing commentary does not constitute endorsement by the US Government, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, VOA, MBN, OCB, RFA, or RFE/RL of the information products or services discussed.)

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April Deibert

April Deibert

April Deibert is the Multimedia Blogger/Producer for the Office of Digital & Design Innovation. Follow her on Twitter: @BBGinnovate and @AprilDeibert.

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