Cineplex Timeplay: New and Improved

cineplex-timeplay-new-and-improvedIn a previous post, I wrote about how terrible the new Cineplex Timeplay experience was. I am writing about it again because they have dramatically improved the experience and it is now pretty awesome! Perhaps I was somewhat critical of the initial experience because it was the first attempt of its kind. Before we take a look at the improvements, however, a quick summary for the uninitiated:

Timeplay is an advertising experience comprised of smartphone apps that interact with “games” onscreen in the movie theatre. Users perform actions like flicking blobs onto the screen from their smartphone to reveal or create images in order to win prizes. It is a bit hard to explain, but the main idea is to get users to engage in advertisement-driven games to win prizes.

Click here to view a video overview of Timeplay

Better Rewards

The single biggest improvement has taken place in the reward received for participation. Previously, movie-goers were given prizes like “10% off a Canon Camera”. For advertisers, these rewards were great because they were directly applicable to their products, however, for users they were not very motivating. After all, everyday coupons and promotions typically match or top these discounts. The rewards also had no relation to the actual movie experience.

Thankfully, they have made some great changes to these rewards. Namely, scene points (reward points for free movies and concessions) are now given for certain Timeplay games. For frequent movie-goers this is a much more motivating reward. I collect these points religiously and get many free movies a year so I am now actively engaging with Timeplay where previously I had stopped caring. Hopefully they continue to tie-in movie specific rewards like these.

Better Games

Some of the games available for Timeplay are fun, while others are terribly mundane. Ford, for example, had a game that involved voting for what scene you wanted to see next in the commercial. Yes, it is just as boring as it sounds – you are simply voting on what part of a advertisement you want to see.

Timeplay now seems to be distancing themselves from these “games”, that really aren’t games at all. They seem to be focusing on games that involve throwing blobs from your smartphone onto the screen by flicking the screen. These games are actually surprisingly fun as you are awarded points individually.

Personalization

Somewhat annoyingly, Timeplay automatically assigns you a username that you cannot, at this point change. While this makes sense because many users may abuse customization by using inappropriate names, it is somewhat disappointing. What is neat, however, is that recent Timeplay ads have begun to incorporate these personal qualities into the games. For example, in a recent game I played, I was able to launch graffiti onto the screen and next to each piece of graffiti was my username. I was also awarded points individually that were used to rank players at the end of the game. Players were then rewarded with 100 scene points (1/10th of a free movie). Awesome!

Fewer Games (ads)

Timeplay had been added on top of all previous pre-movie advertisements. What that meant was that there was another 5 minutes or so of advertisements, extending the time before a movie (there are already too many pre-movie advertisements!).

A huge improvement has been reducing the number of Timeplay games (ads) to 1 before a movie. This is a much more reasonable intrusion – although I’m sure movie-goers that do not have smartphones are still probably angry at the extra advertising they cannot even participate in.

Overall, I like the idea of engaging advertisements as long as they meet the criteria I mentioned throughout this post: good rewards, fun games, and a reasonable amount of time/ads. Have you experienced Timeplay? Have you noticed any improvements?

Learn Something New Subscribe

_______

iOS Advancements Have Jailbreaking to Thank

Like a recent article in Wired points out, you should thank the jailbreaking community if you like the new features in iOS 5. Jailbreakers have been advancing iOS at a far faster rate than Apple. Of course, it is win-win for Apple as they are then able to turn around and implement identical features that have long been available through 3rd party developers – it just doesn’t seem fair to users.

Many iPhone users are in the dark when it comes to jailbreaking. Apple has made it consistently more difficult to keep your phone jailbroken – locking users out of significant customization and advanced features. For those who are unaware: jailbreaking is awesome! Many of the new iOS features, including the newly implemented notifications, camera controls and even applications similar to iMessage, have long been available to those who have jailbroken their phones. I, for one, have been enjoying many of these features for over a year.jailbreak-iphone-ios-advancements copy This video outlines some of the features that jailbreakers have enjoyed long before iOS 5.

Of course, when Apple implements these features themselves they are usually more polished and more tightly integrated, but it doesn’t make up for the delay in availability. I’ll take a less polished implementation of a particular function if I am able to use it more than a year in advance.

Many people will argue that it is best for Apple to keep a tight lid on their system to keep things simple. I certainly understand this point of view but there are ways around it. Consider implementing an extension of the App Store that contains iOS customizations. That way, individual hacks can be evaluated by Apple and they can retain control of the system that they so desperately want. Currently, they have no control over those who jailbreak and they are essentially forcing users to do so by offering them no alternative.

I have two things to say in summary:

  1. Apple should be more open so that users do not have to go through the trouble of jailbreaking just to enjoy advanced functionality developed from 3rd parties.
  2. Jailbreak your phone! Give me a shout if you need help. It can be a bit of a process but it is easy to find someone (like myself) who knows how to do it but it is totally worth it! It is definitely one of those “you don’t know what you’ are missing until you have it” things.

________

Windows 8 Learns from Apple–Simple & Awesome

I must say, when I first heard about Windows 8, I wasn’t particularly excited. Windows 7 is leagues ahead of its predecessors and a very functional operating system, however, that’s all it is. Windows 8 will change it all and so far seems to be the biggest change in Microsoft mindset in over 15 years.

Why is it so great?

Microsoft has learned a lot from competitors like Apple and from the shift in the market. They have finally decided to change their strategy to meet the changing market with simplicity and polish.

Windows 8 is Simple

Windows has forever been the system for computer nerds, offering flexibility and a large number of settings. This flexibility is largely hidden for novice users and the operating system is fairly hard on those who are new to computing. Fortunately, Windows users have been able to fall back on the expertise of a wide base of users – typically friends and family to help them out. Lately, however, people have been looking for something that they can just pick up and use. Windows 8 may offer just that.

The new OS is very intuitive with tabs that clearly define tasks with images to make the process simpler. Pertinent information such as updates bubble up to the surface of the OS. When operated on a touch device the experience is particularly smooth and intuitive and the user interface remains simple, uncluttered and stylish.

windows-8-simple-awesome

Windows 8 is Polished

Let’s face it, Microsoft products aren’t the snazziest around – or at least they weren’t. With this latest iteration of Windows, Microsoft has approached the interface from an entirely new angle. The new design is simple, elegant and colourful, making it fun to use.

The user interface isn’t the only polished part of Windows 8. It will also benefit from extremely tight integration with applications. Expect to be able to update social networks in a variety of ways throughout the system. Many base-install apps will likely integrate with each other in unprecedented ways as well.

What They Have Done Better Than Apple

One of the greatest mistakes Apple has made is to ignore “power users” like myself. Their products continually push the envelope on usability and design yet often neglect customization and openness. Windows 8 offers an experience for those who just want it to work (through its colourful and intuitive tabular interface) while maintaining the functionality and typical appearance of its flagship software behind the scenes; easily accessible to those who want a more typical Windows experience or flexibility. All the while, the main settings are kept in one easy to access location.

Conclusion

I am very excited for Windows 8, as I believe it may finally offer a superior alternative to Apple products, most likely in the tablet space. Why buy a tablet that can run apps when you can buy a tablet that can run apps and all the great software you already use on a daily basis while maintaining user-friendliness and flexibility. This is a huge step in the right direction for Microsoft.

Now if only they would do something about Internet Explorer . . .

 

_____

HootSuite is Bad for Facebook: Reduces Engagement :(

hootsuite-bad-facebookJust a little while ago I was writing about how HootSuite could organize your social media and I had nothing but praises for the app/website. Unfortunately, I may have to take it all back . . .

While HootSuite is a convenient way to automatically schedule and update multiple social networks simultaneously, it appears as if it also drastically reduces the visibility of those posts. Facebook (and possible Twitter) largely suppress updates generated by 3rd party sites. So those great articles you have been sharing may all have been for nought.

If that weren’t bad enough (and it is!), posts made through HootSuite lack some of the basic functionality of regular Facebook posts – namely, the ability to “share” it! So even if someone does see an article that you posted and they like it, it’s harder for them to share it.

I myself have noticed less engagement when I post through HootSuite. I simply pegged it as coincidence – perhaps some of the articles were uninteresting or were posted when few people saw them. I began to wonder when it was only my HootSuite posts that were lacking attention. Now I know the truth!

The verdict is out. I have already stopped using HootSuite and have reverted to posting individually on both Facebook and Twitter. It is a real shame considering how convenient it was. I suppose it was too good to be true as I’m sure these websites were taking away a lot of site traffic. Maybe Facebook will make right if we yell loud enough?

Organize Your Social Media: HootSuite App

hootsuite-app-social-media

Update: Don’t use HootSuite – it’s bad for engagement!

If you are not already using HootSuite, you should be. This nifty little app allows you to simultaneously update multiple social networks at once. There are a number of programs and apps that allow you to do this, but what makes HootSuite special is that you are also able to schedule updates into the future.

Find a great article at 2am and want to share it with your friends? Schedule to post it the next day when they are actually awake! Manage social media as part of your job? Find some interesting articles and schedule them to post throughout the week auto-magically. Perfect!

The user interface is intuitive and easy to use and the iPhone app is absolutely gorgeous (pictured on the left). It is also completely free so you really have nothing to lose. HootSuite is a necessary addition to anyone’s social media arsenal – social media marketers, that means you.

[ HootSuite ]

Hello Facebook Messenger, Goodbye BBM!

facebook-messenger-bbmpngIn one shot, Facebook may have just killed SMS (text messages) and BBM! It seems Facebook is launching ‘Facebook Messenger’ which will allow you to send messages through an app directly to your Facebook contacts without ever having to log in or open the site.

The move is brilliant. Although it could take away some traffic from the site, it entrenches Facebook as a permanent means to stay in touch with friends. Why bother trying to port over friends to various messaging apps when you already have everyone on Facebook? Utter brilliance.

I have always been frustrated by the fragmentation of the messaging market. Some people are die-hard BBM users, and others use various other apps but none of them communicate to each other. So BlackBerry users were stuck chatting with other BlackBerry users and iPhone users were stuck with other iPhone users. Now, everyone will be able to chat – for free – with all of their existing Facebook contacts. Which, for most people, is their largest most complete network.

The app will only be for iOS and Android though, so you BlackBerry users finally have no excuse for sticking to BB for BBM.

Although it does not seem to be available in Canada yet it will most surely be rolling out to us shortly – with increasing competition from Google+ now, it seems Facebook has gotten the message (pun intended).

 

So, are you all over the new Facebook Messenger?

Dragon Dictation: A Hilariously Awesome Dictation iPhone App

dragon-dictation-app-hilarious

It is illegal to text while driving. Many people do it anyways. I, on the other hand, only text when I am at a complete stop. I just found out recently, though, that apparently that’s illegal too. So I turned to a dictation app (well, I’m still texting at red lights but trying to integrate it).

The app is called Dragon Dictation and it is amazing. It is VERY good and can recognize even fairly fast speech with accuracy. To truly test it out, I subjected it to Lose Yourself by Eminem. It didn’t stand up against rap . . .

 

Original verse

“tear this motha f*cking roof off like two dogs caged, I was playin’ in the beginning, the mood all changed, I been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage, but I kept rhymin’ and stepped, writin’ the next cipher, best believe somebody’s payin’ the pied piper’”

“Translated” verse

“tennis mother f*cking roof off like two dogs cage I was playing in the beginning the mood I’ll changed have been chewed up and spit out Booda stage picket ravenous step Brenda best of the somebody’s panda Pied Piper”

Awesome. You’ll notice that it actually took some of his slang and corrected it.

But seriously, it’s a great app and it’s FREE. Get it here.

Play around with it and post anything amusing you do with it.