Since the iPhone’s debut in 2007, mobile devices have taken center stage in the tech world — browsers, apps, advertising, and more have been transformed thanks to our handheld computers. A compelling trend that’s been notably altered from the rise of mobile is the dynamic relationship between hardware and software — in this case, the smartphone and its operating system.

Just this fall, Apple released the seventh version of its mobile operating system, iOS 7. Its introduction at WWDC in June was met with polarized reactions, as all Apple events are these days, but as the first major overhaul to iOS in its lifetime, the effect on users would prove interesting to monitor.

According to data from Fiksu, it took just four days after release for the number of Apple devices running iOS 7 to outweigh devices running iOS 6. As of today, November 6, 72.4% of devices are on iOS 7, compared to 23.7% on iOS 6 and 3.8% on iOS 5. What’s more, the adoption rate of Apple’s newest operating system has outpaced both versions before it. This many days after release for iOS 6, the total usage sat at 64.9%. For iOS 5, 52.8%. This suggests that more and more, users are craving the latest advancements in software to enhance the capabilities and experience of their devices.

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By comparison, just 52.1% of Android devices are running Jelly Bean, the latest OS, a year and a half beyond its initial release. Going deeper, it appears that most of those users are on the older 4.1 version at 37.%, with 12.5% on 4.2, and 2.3% on 4.3. While upgrading on Android devices is much different than Apple, as not all devices support the latest versions, this data still suggests that Android users are less concerned with having the most advanced software on their devices.

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This raises a compelling question in the realm of user experience. What is more important to a delightful and productive mobile device: the hardware itself, or the operating system that it runs on? With Apple products, the answer seems to increasingly favor iOS. Apple has always been lauded for the simplicity and beauty of its iPhones and iPads, but as the innovation of the devices themselves has plateaued, it’s no surprise to see a heavier emphasis placed on iOS with the latest version. Interestingly, the launch of the iPhone 5C’s color offering was even strategically designed to match iOS 7’s bright UI. Each 5C comes preloaded with a background in the same color as the phone’s plastic casing, slightly blurring the lines between hardware and software.

Perhaps it’s because Android’s updates typically have not changed the functionality and feel of an Android phone as drastically as iOS 7 did for the iPhone that adoption rates are much lower. Perhaps it has to do with the severe fragmentation of Android phone manufacturers. Regardless, as smartphone hardware innovations have slowed, it becomes more crucial for operating systems to engage and entertain users in new ways. Apple seems to have successfully begun a melding of its devices with iOS, and this hybrid focus seems to be a formula for success in building great user experiences on mobile. Android will soon release 4.4 KitKat, and their strategy in this regard will be interesting to watch. As for whether the strategy involves stressing OS over hardware, that remains to be seen.

And time will tell how the users respond.

Apps to Spice Up Halloween

October 31st, 2013 | Posted by Quixey in Favorite Apps - (0 Comments)

Whether you’re at work, school, home, or out and about today, it should come as no surprise to see your fellow man dressed in absurd costumes. Halloween is about dressing up and having fun, and at the Quixey office we’ve lived up to that in full force. If you need a little extra oopmh for your October 31st spirit though, here are some apps to help you do just that!

ZombieBooth: 3D Zombifier

Available for iOS, ZombieBooth: 3D Zombifier is exactly what it sounds like. Snap a picture of yourself, your friends, or even your pets, and turn it into a 3D Zombie. Shake or tap to see different zombie doppelgangers, and watch them come to life on the screen. Must-have app for fans of The Walking Dead — or just zombies in general.

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Carve It!

Carve It! is an Android app that lets you carve pumpkins and save as images to share with your friends. It’s perfect for those who love carving but don’t want to deal with the mess. Of course, if you’re the type that loves carving and scooping the real thing, Carve It! is a great resource to test what your designs will look like before you take the knife to real pumpkin flesh.

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Trick or Tracker

Available on iOS and Android, Trick or Tracker lets parents keep track of their kids when they go trick or treating, if they aren’t out there with them physically. Kids can send their exact location to parents according to the time interval you set. Worried parents can rest a little easier on the couch.

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These are just a few of the apps we’ve come across for one of the best holidays of the year! If you have any others you love, send a note to victor@quixey.com. Happy Halloween everyone!

Today we’re super excited to announce the launch of our first direct to consumer product, now available for free on Android — download it from Google Play right here and read about it on the product page!

Until now, most app search has been based on titles and keywords, which requires users to know the name of an app before they can search for it. With Quixey, all you have to do is describe what you want to do in natural language. For example, “tune my guitar” or “identify wines.”

Beyond that, we’ve included a bunch of fun and engaging new features. Whether you know what kind of app you want, or just have a minute to find something new, there’s something for everyone. Here’s what Quixey on Android offers:

  • Search – App search that works. You don’t need to know an app’s name to get great results. Search for apps by describing what you want to do and we’ll find apps to help.

  • Trending – Check out the latest and greatest apps. No matter who you are – parent, student, teacher, traveler, athlete, gamer, musician – we have the top trending apps picked for you.

  • Browse – Browse through categories and subcategories. Take our browse wheel for a spin to find the perfect app for you (not available on Gingerbread OS).

  • Sample – Curious what types of apps are out there? Check out our sample queries to see what other people are searching for.

To learn more about Quixey on Android, watch the video below:

Quixey is in beta and we’re committed to building an amazing product that you love. Submit your feedback from within the app (in the information section) or send an email to androidapp@quixey.com. Thanks and have fun finding great new apps!

The Quixey Tweet Awards! 10/11/13

October 11th, 2013 | Posted by Quixey in Tweet Awards - (0 Comments)

It’s been a couple months since we’ve combed through all the tweets sent our way, and since then we’ve had a couple of major announcements! Time to give thanks once again back to those who’ve shown their support!

The Eat Your Veggies Award:

The Watch Out Award:

The New Discovery Award:

The Hopeful Award:

The Data Miner Award: 

The Snack Award:

Thanks again for all your continued support. We have a big announcement coming later this month — can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on!

This post was written by Guru Gowrappan, EVP of Products, originally for Business2Community.

The app economy as we know it today is a fragmented and ultimately frustrating place. Each entity that houses pieces of software we call apps, be it carriers, manufacturers, or mobile operating systems, traditionally packages apps into app stores — “walled gardens” of content dominated by top 25 lists and categorical browsing. This model governs our view of apps, turning them into little boxes we “collect” and display on our smartphone homescreens.

The deficiency with this model, beyond scalability issues (there are over 2 million apps in the entire ecosystem), is the lack of emphasis it places on the user. The sure-fire way to create great products is by taking a user-centric approach, and if that was the case for app stores, we’d see a lot more emphasis on bringing users the content that they want in a seamless, quick way.

The power of apps lies in the natural evolution they’ve taken from the blue-link, information-based content of the web. Each app provides a specific function, and when users want to download an app, in reality what they’re looking for is that function. With this in mind, it becomes crucial to view apps currently as locked-boxes of functionality. Keyword search and top 25 lists may be enough to bring you to the front door of select apps, but they’ll only scratch the surface of what’s available.

According to Flurry, 90% of apps in the App Store are free — a big leap from the estimated 24% that were free when the App Store opened in 2008. This five year trend makes a lot of sense, proving that users largely don’t want to pay for apps, similar to how they wouldn’t want to pay to access a website. That being the case, why do we still treat apps like we treated websites in the earliest days of the web — categorically, by list, within list, within list?

It’s time to listen to how users access and use their apps, and refine our app discovery tools to better accommodate those trends. By understanding what users want to do, we can break the current mold and stop serving apps based on what platform the user is on. The bottom line when a user is searching for an app, whether they know exactly what they want or not, is that a solution to their problem exists. Why should it matter what platform that solution comes from?

At Quixey, we’ve been working endlessly to solve the app discovery by asking users a simple question: “what do you want to do?” We want to encourage users to find apps they never could have found before, just by explaining in natural language what they need — “tune my guitar,” or “find nearby hiking trails,” for example.

Later this month, we’ll be launching a product that we feel greatly enhances user experience when it comes to this big issue of app discovery. We always think user-first, and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve come up with.

Today we’re thrilled to announce we’ve officially closed our latest round of funding! Series C is led by Alibaba Group, with new investor GGV Capital, and participation from existing investors Atlantic Bridge, Innovation Endeavors, Translink Capital, US Venture Partners, and WI Harper.

“Next year, 95% of the world’s population will have mobile access, and by 2016 people will use 1.5 billion smart mobile devices. Quixey is at the epicenter of this brave new world, and this investment will ensure that we continue to expand globally,” said Tomer Kagan, Quixey CEO and Co-Founder. “Apps have moved from novelty to a major factor in purchasing decisions for consumers and we’ve only just started to scratch the surface of what they can do.”

We’re very excited to be working with a company on the level of Alibaba, whose mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere. Since its inception, it has developed leading businesses in consumer e-commerce, online payment, business-to-business marketplaces and cloud computing, reaching Internet users in more than 240 countries and regions.

Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman at Alibaba, is equally as excited to be working with us. As he says, “Innovation is at the heart of Alibaba’s culture, so backing entrepreneurs who are developing forward-thinking technology is what we love to do. Quixey has a great vision for the future and a fantastic team to see it through.”

The additional $50 million, which brings our funding total to $74.2 million, will be used to further develop our market leading Functional Search™ technology, which currently allows users to find apps by describing what they want to do. With the flexibility to bolster our already strong roster of talented employees, we’ll now be able to focus on going deeper and deeper into apps, bringing users the information and functionality they want quicker than ever before.

“Building user-centric products is what Quixey is about. We should be the starting point for every mobile device,” said Guru Gowrappan, EVP, Product and Marketing at Quixey. “We give users a more natural way to search for the things that makes their lives easier. That’s the core of our Functional Search™ technology and the core of the company.”

Ever since launching in 2011, we’ve been working hard to bring the build the best possible product for our users. This is a huge benchmark for us as it allows us to make our vision for the future of apps and the web a reality much faster than originally possible. If you have any questions about the funding round, please send us a note at press@quixey.com. Look out for more big announcements in the coming months!

Apps for the Sports Fanatic

September 26th, 2013 | Posted by Quixey in Favorite Apps - (0 Comments)

With the 2013 NFL season in full swing, MLB playoffs starting next week, and both the 2013-2014 NHL and NBA seasons on the horizon, it’s a great time to be a sports fan! Whether you love playing fantasy, reading up on stats, watching videos, or all of the above, these apps have got you covered:

Yahoo! Sports

Available on iOS and Android, the Yahoo! Sports app has now absorbed Yahoo! Sportacular, which means users can now customize their alerts and get notifications for specific events like a game starting, scoring plays, or close-game situations. This means you never have to worry about missing a great sports moment ever again! The app also provides scores, extensive stats, and high quality editorial stories from the Yahoo! Sports writing team.

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Thuuz

Thuuz, available for iOS and Android devices, is an interactive app that rates all live and upcoming games on a scale of 0-100, making it easier for you to decide what you want to watch. Beyond that, the app contains a TV guide to let you know where to watch the action. If a game isn’t available on TV, Thuuz will tell you where you can stream the game online. For fantasy sports players, there’s also a feature that will alert you to how your players are performing. And for those who let sports take up a little too much of their lives, there’s a time-saver that lets you optimize your sports viewing time.

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Team Stream by Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report’s Team Stream for iOS and Android delivers breaking news, scores, stats, and everything else you’d expect from a great sports app, but also goes one step further to allow users to personalize their experience. Users can create “streams” for their favorite teams and sports topics, then get scores, news, videos, and more in an easily accessible place. For the die-hard fans with one favorite team in a sport, this is the app for you.

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Are there other sports apps out there that you prefer? If so we’d love to hear about them — email victor@quixey.com with your thoughts.

The New Quixey.com! Part 2: Features

September 19th, 2013 | Posted by Quixey in Quixey News - (0 Comments)

This post is part 2 of a Q&A with Jeff Fan, Quixey’s Principal Designer. Today he talks about some of the new features on Quixey.com.

Tile View

Throughout our user testing, we noticed a pattern amongst a majority of our users. When evaluating apps, users usually look at screenshots before descriptions or reviews. Screenshots communicate function, quality, and design much quicker — show, don’t tell. Thus they’re a much better representation of an app than a body of text.

With this knowledge, it makes sense to show users screenshots earlier in the interface, as opposed to after selecting an app. That thinking inspired Tile View, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. Users reported that it was easier to digest more apps in less time and quickly identify those that interested them. This format proved to be especially powerful when searching for apps that are highly visual. “Games for kids” is an excellent example of this:

It’s important to recognize that Tile View isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Certain categories of apps rely more heavily on their functionality rather than their visual UI. “Receipt trackers” or “mortgage calculators” are less visually appealing than gaming apps by nature. But this does not mean they are less useful to users. For this reason, we felt it important to also maintain a List View that gives focus to app descriptions.

Send-to-Phone

Certain aspects of our desktop site outperformed our mobile site. You could see more apps at once, the site’s performance was faster, navigation was intuitive, typing was natural, and the content was easier to consume. There’s a lot to be admired about the larger form factor, however, it’s unnatural to go to a desktop site when seeking a mobile app. It simply makes sense to find mobile apps using a mobile device.

How could we keep the benefits of the large form factor but still keep the convenience of the mobile device? We introduced Send-to-Phone to fix this very problem. Now, instead of being sent to the desktop app store, users can text an app directly to their phones, removing the need to retype an app into their phone’s app search bar. There’s plenty left to be done in cross-device interactions, but Send-to-Phone is a great step toward breaking those boundaries.

Prev/Next Buttons

When designing interfaces, it’s important to consider the ergonomics of how users interact with their devices. In the case of responsive design, you need to simultaneously consider 3 different sets of ergonomics – mobile, tablet, and desktop. Each form factor has a unique set of characteristics: hand positions, touch vs cursor input, usage, keyboard support, voice support, environments, etc.

On our app detail page, we introduced left/right buttons for users to easily navigate to the previous/next app in the list. This prevents the tedious behavior of having to repeatedly click into and back out of a search result. We purposely positioned these buttons right where the user’s thumbs naturally rest when holding a tablet. This prevents them from having to reposition their hands or stretch their thumbs. Similarly, on desktop, we enabled the use of the left/right keyboard arrows to easily navigate between apps.

Stacked Cards

One of the unique aspects of Quixey’s search engine is that we merge multiple “versions” of the same app. For example, Angry Birds Free is merged with Angry Birds ($0.99). This allows users to see more unique app results rather than repeats of the same app at different price options. To demonstrate this concept, we designed stacked cards to visualize apps with multiple versions. Clicking on the drop-down arrow on the bottom right will expose all available versions.

And Many More

We’ve only discussed a handful of the new features we’ve introduced into the new Quixey web app. Others include a Trending list, Browse categories, Sample search queries, Bookmarks, Multi-Locale and many more. This was a huge cross-functional effort from our team, including:

Product Management: Jeff Fan, Jae Park, Julia Lipton, Phillip Lam, Victor Tran, Paresh Vakhariya
Engineering, Program  Management, and Testing: Russel Reed, Marshall Quander, Charlie Chung, Emily Lam, Michael Cuff, Rhonda Karp, Khuong Nguyen, Lisa Rutta, Konstantin Novoselov
Production Ops: Akshay Dayal, Adam Gray, Jaeik Song
3Magine: Evan Cancelliere, Krystian Frencel

We hope our users enjoy these new features as we continue to listen to their feedback and improve our app search products.

Curious about any of the features not covered here? Send an email to jeff@quixey.com and he’d be happy to answer your questions!

Mountain View, Calif, September 19, 2013 – Today Quixey, The Search Engine for Apps, announced that it has won the Telecom Council 2013 SPIFFY Zephyr Award for Best Mobile Opportunity. The SPIFFY Awards recognize the most outstanding telecommunications start-ups as judged by the members of the Service Providers Forum (SPiF) of the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley. For the Zephyr Award, each year the Council selects one company as the best investment opportunity within the mobile telecom sector.

“We’re thrilled to have won this year’s Zephyr Award,” said Tomer Kagan, Quixey CEO. “It’s an honor to have our hard work acknowledged by the Telecom Council, and we truly believe we’re building technology that will disrupt the mobile telecom space.”

Quixey provides its revolutionary Functional Search™ technology to major carriers, browsers, manufacturers, and search engines around the world, allowing users to find apps whenever they need to simply by describing what they want to do. The company was also recently named to the FierceWireless Fierce 15 list for its work in fixing the fragmented app economy.

About the Telecom Council

The Telecom Council of Silicon Valley connects companies and individuals involved in the region’s Communications Technology industry with one another for business development, collaboration, and education. Using our network, tools, framework, and meetings to bring together the local telecom industry’s critical mass of businesses, research, ideas, capital, and human expertise – the Council is a hub for telecom professionals. By joining, speaking, sponsoring, or simply participating in a meeting, there are many ways telecom companies of any size can use the Telecom Council network. For more information, visit www.telecomcouncil.com.

About Quixey
Quixey is The Search Engine for Apps — searching mobile, desktop, web, and browser apps. Quixey invented a new type of search, Functional Search™, that allows users to find apps by searching for what they want to do. Quixey partners with major app stores, search engines, manufacturers, carriers and web platforms to power app search globally. It also provides Sponsored Apps, allowing apps to target users at the point of discovery. For more information, please visit www.quixey.com.

Media Contact
Victor Beigelman
Quixey
victor@quixey.com
(650) 430-6434

This post is part 1 of a Q&A with Jeff Fan, Quixey’s Principal Designer. Today he talks about responsive design on the new Quixey.com, as well as some personal design tendencies.

How important is it to have a unified interface and experience across all platforms? How did this factor into creating the new Quixey site?

Back in April of this year, our O&O/UX team found itself at a crossroad. We had recently launched the newest version of our quixey.com desktop site and were eager to begin usability enhancements. At the same time, Quixey’s mobile site had gone untouched for months and was quite outdated in its design and features. This was especially problematic for our partners, who relied on us, as the mobile app search experts, to provide extremely forward-thinking products. To make things even more complicated, neither our desktop site nor our mobile site were optimized for tablet, and thus performed poorly with our users. The question stood: which do we redesign first – desktop, tablet or mobile? The answer we ultimately concluded was, “Yes.”

As a company that offers app discovery across all platforms and all devices, it was imperative that Quixey’s core product be accessible on all platforms and all devices. We wanted to introduce new features, maintain consistency across all products, and take full advantage of HTML5′s capacity. To achieve these goals, we turned to responsive design, a growing trend that uses a single HTML code accompanied by multiple CSS files. This allows the site to shift its layout and styling based on what device the user is using. Designing our web app to be responsive was a great challenge, but its success meant that we could reach our users in ways we never could before.

Responsive design comes with its own set of parameters. Solutions that work for one platform may not necessarily work on another. For example, hover states are a common tool used on desktop sites to hide away content/functionality but still allow for fast and easy accessibility. Unfortunately, hover states do not exist (for the most part) on mobile interfaces. (Samsung did manage to include hover states in their Galaxy S4). From a design perspective, all content/functionality you would have hid behind a hover state now must be exposed on the surface. More elements on a page imply higher information density, more complexity, and lower visibility on core features. This design process forces you to create a strict prioritization of your features, and the necessity of certain features should frequently be called into question.

How much does the work of other designers and companies affect the design decisions you make, both personally and professionally?

As a designer, it’s important for you to be constantly observant of design trends around you, as the work of other designers can act as a great source of inspiration for your own work. By constantly looking, you’re constantly learning. You’ll have exposure to a greater set of design possibilities. You should always be seeking ideas and fresh approaches to problems you had never considered. Another reason to stay aware of other designers’ work is that they can act as a testing stage for your own design theories. Observing both successful and failed designs provides an analogy for the potential success of your own design ideas. This is a quick shortcut to filter out ideas with low probabilities of success so that you can focus on the ideas that are more likely to survive.

If you could update any product’s design in the world, which would it be, what would you change, and why?

There are a lot of things I would want to redesign: the new Yahoo! logo, the food menus of 90% of restaurants I walk into, and anything operated by all levels of government (the BART subway map, road signs, IRS forms, etc.) But the one thing that desperately needs to be redesigned that affects my life every day is the license plate. I don’t drive a particularly fancy car — a grey Mazda 3 hatchback — but I really fell in love with its look and feel. It’s not showy, but there’s something about its proportions and its “sort-of-a-spoiler” that makes it like eye-candy to me. But the day came when I had to slap on my license plate, and something about it just didn’t look right. It’s like having a little coffee stain on the corner of your white oxford shirt — I kept staring at it thinking “WHY?! WHY ARE YOU THERE?!”

This is why people who buy fancy sports cars don’t like putting on the plates. You’re taking something beautiful, something a team of people labored for years perfecting, and slapping something horrifically ugly on it. It’s like when the Apple team spent a year making the new iPhone 5 18% thinner just to have people slap on cases, immediately undoing all their hard work $5.99 plastic cases. License plates could definitely look better. The government really should skim a bit off our defense budget and start an internal design branch.

Stay tuned for next week’s post, where Jeff will take a deep dive into all the new Quixey.com features!