Top Picks from 2014’s “App of the Month” Contests

Scott DeVaney

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Starting in mid 2013, Mozilla’s Firefox Student Ambassador program organized a monthly Firefox OS app development contest. Student app enthusiasts from all over the world were invited to create an app and submit it to Firefox Marketplace to be considered for each month’s contest. For more info about the program, please visit the “App of the Month” details page.

blog_BeFitWe saw a lot of fantastic and inspired entries last year—more than 70 app submissions in all—but here are a few that particularly stood out…

BeFit by Mohammad Yaseen Khan
For everyone looking to shed a few pounds this New Year, check out BeFit, an exercise app designed for folks without much time or access to gym equipment. It also focuses on indoor workouts and features handy body mass index info.

Firefox Assistant by Hossain Al Ikram
Learn tons of valuable tips and tricks about the Firefox web browser with this helpful app; it even breaks down the details by operating systems (Windows, Linux, and Mac).

My Diary by Abin Abraham
This is a really slick, streamlined note-taking journal. Elegant UI. With each entry the date and time is automatically saved. My Diary also comes with a geo-locator so your notes can be associated with areas.

Sports Quiz by Mohankumar Duraisamy
Here’s a super fun sports trivia app which plays like a game, complete with a question timer and scoring.

EduApp by Siddhartha Pharate
EduApp is structured similarly to Sports App, but instead of sports, EduApp features trivia content related to the internet, the open web, and even Mozilla specifically!

Pak Days by Maqbool ur Rahim Khan
Here’s a greta example of locally-focused app—Pak Days helps you understand the history and customs of key Pakistani holidays.

FoxyFlames by Jim-Bert Amante

A love calculator! Does it actually compute quantifiable measurements of love for its users? I, for one, choose to believe that it does.

December Contributor of the Month: Niccolò Cantù

Amy Tsay

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Congratulations to Niccolò Cantù, our Marketplace Contributor of the Month for December! Niccolò is an app developer, Firefox Student Ambassador, and Mozilla supporter.

He began contributing in March 2014, and has since published seven apps on Marketplace, written a chapter for the FirefoxOS Quick Guide in Italian, and reported many bugs.

In December, Niccolò also compiled a list of all the Italian FirefoxOS apps on Marketplace, and provided support in the Mozilla Italia forums. He says:

“I’d like to thank the Mozilla Italia Community for their support and Daniele Scasciafratte; he introduced me to Mozilla and is my mentor since then. As a Firefox Student Ambassador I hope that more and more college students would spare some of their time contributing to the project, Open Web is an opportunity we should share!”

An honorable mention goes out to Rachel Hathaway, who landed a patch on Marketplace after conquering the steep path to setting up a dev environment, braving a mountain of feedback (68 review comments!), all while commenting on other bugs. Cheers to Rachel!

A new wiki for January is now available. Please remember to report your accomplishments in the Get Recognized section, or report the accomplishments of others who might otherwise go unnoticed. Hope your new year is off to a good start!

Khan Academy Makes Education Accessible

Scott DeVaney

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KA1Featuring more than 5,000 instructional videos and guided coursework covering a full array of subject matter—everything from math and science to art history and finance—the Khan Academy app is a beautiful illustration of the power of the mobile web. Brian R. Bondy developed the Firefox OS version of Khan Academy and tells us why this is such an important and personal project for him…

Is there a certain student age range for which Khan Academy is best suited? 
Brian R. Bondy: Khan Academy is a non-profit with a mission to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. The content not only covers K-12 but also goes beyond that. I’ve heard stories of 97-year-old ladies using the site. The content is applicable to any age, race, or gender. 

KA3Current languages supported include English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, and Bengali—do you have any plans to expand your language support?
BRB: We’ll definitely be supporting more languages as time goes on. Adding additional languages to the app itself is not too hard, but we need to make sure that the content on the site provided by the APIs is also localized.

One contributor, Sashoto Seeam, not only localized the app to Bengali, but also created links for hundreds of videos on the site itself. This ensures that content is delivered in the proper language.

How did you personally become involved with the Khan Academy project?
BRB: I’ve been a contributor on and off for a few years. In April 2014, I decided it was something I wanted to do full time.

Do you plan to add features to the app over time?
BRB: Yes, I’ll be actively developing the app during my spare time. I’m also starting to get help from the open source community. For example in v1.1 of the app, there is a feature to set the playback rate of videos, and it was developed by a contributor named Farez Vadsaria.

Do you have any other future plans for the app?
BRB: Yes, a couple of the major features include a new video player (using video.js) and exercise support for the app.

KA2Which frameworks did you use to build the app?
BRB: The app was built with Facebook’s React + Backbone for models. React is awesome, free, and open source. You declaratively specify your app’s views in various modularized components. It greatly simplifies your code and more Firefox OS apps should use it.

Khan Academy gives users “energy points” for the educational content they engage with. Can you explain more about this credit system and why it matters?
BRB: Energy points is just a quick measure of the effort someone puts in at Khan Academy. Points are awarded for a variety of things, but most commonly for performing activities like watching videos and doing exercises. They help motivate learners and sometimes users will set personal goals for obtaining a certain number of points. Other reward systems used by the site include badges, levels, and attaining mastery at various different skills.  Only energy points are currently in the Khan Academy Firefox OS app, but there are plans to support the other reward systems too.

If you’re interested in learning more about Khan Academy and why Brian developed it for Firefox OS, here’s a link to a recent post on his blog.

Brand Name Content Continues to Emerge on Firefox OS

Scott DeVaney

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Follow your friends on Rdio to discover new music.

Follow your friends on Rdio to discover new music.

As 2014 draws to a close, Firefox OS devices are now sold in 28 countries (with more to come next year). As the reach of Firefox OS grows, so does the breadth of its content ecosystem. I wanted to share some exciting news around a few recent additions to Firefox Marketplace

A trove of Microsoft content is now available, including Outlook, Bing Maps & Search, and MSN.

One of the world’s foremost publishing platforms, WordPress, has developed a version tailored for Firefox OS.

For old-school gaming fans, we’re thrilled to welcome Namco’s Pac-Man into the fold. It’s crazy to recall the very first arcade version of this classic debuted in the U.S. way back in 1980!

While we’re on the topic of entertainment, it’s awesome to see Firefox OS users enjoying millions of free songs on Rdio. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new band and get tickets to their next tour through the Ticketmaster app. You can use Nokia’s HERE Maps to find the venue. And be sure to take pics and videos of the concert to share with friends via Telegram, a fabulous, free open source messaging app that puts tremendous emphasis on the security of your personal content.

The massively popular video portal Dailymotion now has a Firefox OS app, too. This is important, because there are times when we all need videos of kittens falling asleep.

Bing Maps displays traffic levels, road conditions, and aerial views.

Bing Maps displays traffic levels, road conditions, and aerial views.

Beyond the obvious desire to reach broader audiences, why are major content players producing apps for Firefox OS? “Our hope for open source platforms is the continuation of a quality, flexible, customizable platform embraced by a vibrant developer community, which continues to provide a viable option to users of iOS, Android, and Windows in the mobile space,” says Scott Kepron of Kobo, a leader in eReading that published their own Firefox OS app.

“The low price of a Firefox OS device makes it appealing to a variety of countries where other smart phones and devices are out of reach,” says Brian R. Bondy of Khan Academy, a revolutionary education app available in six languages. “

Liam Petraska, Director of Mobile Content for the wildly popular MyTones ringtone app, echoed this sentiment, “Being an open source platform, Firefox OS offers a new level of personalization to the user, which was a natural fit for our MyTones application… As [open source platforms] grow, we hope they will gain traction and market share as they continue to be adopted in more and more countries across the globe. Offering Firefox OS as an additional choice to the consumer is positive for the mobile industry as a whole.”

November Contributor of the Month: Rigin Oommen

Amy Tsay

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Rigin OommenCongratulations to Rigin Oommen, our Marketplace Contributor of the Month for November! Rigin is an engineering student, author of 10 apps on Firefox Marketplace, and a member of the Community App Curation Board.

In addition to Marketplace, Rigin also contributes to Webmaker, Location Services, Localization, SUMO, and MDN. He is involved with organizing Mozilla Events in his local communities as well.

In November, Rigin helped to complete App Regression Testing for Firefox OS v2.1 and also contributed to localizing FxStumbler for Malayalam.

Here are all the accomplishments from November—thank you to everyone who made a difference last month! A special shout-out goes to Santosh and Hossain, who were runners-up for Contributor of the Month.

A new wiki for December is now available. Be sure to report any accomplishments in the Get Recognized section. Happy last month of the year!

Got a Favorite App on Firefox Marketplace? Let’s Feature It!

Scott DeVaney

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Have you become addicted to a fantastic game you recently found on Firefox Marketplace? (Perhaps a game about an astronaut alpaca on a quest to eat space lettuce?)… Or maybe you just created a masterful work of art with AntPaint?

Regardless, if you find any kind of app that you feel deserves to be featured on Marketplace, please let us know about it at editor@mozilla.com. We’ll check out the app and try to find the best way to give it exposure.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the Mozilla community helps curate featured content on Marketplace, here’s info on our App Curation Board.

October Contributor of the Month: rctgamer3

Amy Tsay

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Congratulations to rctgamer3, October’s Contributor of the Month! Rctgamer3 is an AMO Reviewer and complete theme developer, and maintains the Firefox 2 theme.

In October, rctgamer3 helped the add-ons team file many blocklist bugs and provide all the required information to deal with them quickly. This is difficult and painstaking, but essential for keeping Firefox users safe.

We’d also like to give special thanks to Jaipradeesh Janarthanan, who single-handedly cleared the Tarako app review queue of 80+ apps, and on-boarded two new Tarako app reviewers, Kailas Patil and Trishul Goel—welcome aboard!

There is a new wiki to kick off November, with some new featured projects and a few carried over from last month. There is a new guided project for contributing to Firetext, so please check it out, and don’t forget to report any accomplishments in the Get Recognized section.

We look forward to collaborating with you!

September Contributor of the Month: Daniele Scasciafratte

Amy Tsay

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Congratulations to Daniele Scasciafratte, our first-ever Marketplace Contributor of the Month! Daniele is a developer, mentor, and evangelist who first discovered Firefox in 2009, and became an active contributor after a Firefox OS App Day in Rome last year. In September, Daniele contributed translations and apps, gave a talk about developing on FirefoxOS, and blogged about the experience. He has this to say about the Mozilla community:

“Thanks to Mozilla for supporting the volunteers, its openness to ideas and suggestions that allow you to feel a true global community. New initiatives such as the online Marketplace Day and the support material for the events are things that amaze people, then after evangelization, become volunteers for these little details that make the difference. Not all communities have these opportunities to enhance their knowledge and to learn to work internationally. Go Mozilla Italia go!”

We’d also like to congratulate Rabimba Karanjai for being awarded a Loft Video Game Innovation Fellowship from the Entertainment Software Association, for his Firefox OS game Math Racer. Best wishes to him for his trip to Washington DC on October 1-3 to present his game to White House and Congressional representatives interested in games in STEM education.

Here are all the accomplishments from September—thank you to everyone who made a difference last month. All of your efforts count.

There is a new wiki to kick off October, with some new featured projects and a few carried over from last month. There should be new ones added in the next week or two, and of course suggestions are always appreciated. Lastly, please be sure to report any accomplishments in the Get Recognized section.

We look forward to collaborating with you!

Hey, Firefox Marketplace Looks Different!

Scott DeVaney

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marketplace-feed-screenshot-1Last week, you may have noticed something different about Firefox Marketplace (okay, everything appears different). We’re very excited to unveil a complete Marketplace redesign we’re calling the “Feed.” We’re still experimenting with new features and functionality, so you can expect frequent updates and tweaks in the coming months.

What makes the Feed such a big deal?
There are three primary ways the Feed represents a revolutionary approach to app discovery…

First, the Feed will serve up new featured content on a near-daily basis (whereas most app stores refresh on a weekly—or longer—publishing cycle). This will give Marketplace users more ways to engage with compelling content; and it will help highlight even more great content from deserving app developers.

marketplace-feed-screenshot-2Second, each Feed is customized per region. This means we can now serve up the most locally relevant content to users, whether they be auto racing fans in Brazil or cricket fans in India, for instance.

Third—and most importantly—the Feed is a baby step toward introducing more ways we’re empowering the broader Mozilla community to curate content. For now, we encourage you to nominate your favorite Firefox Marketplace apps. Based on results, we’ll refresh this collection of “Top Community Picks” each week.

We’ll have more news to share very soon about the community curation program. Until then, go play this game!

Social Media Marketing for App Developers

Sakina Groth

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No matter where you are in your app development journey – from ideation to having an existing app in the marketplace – you can immediately benefit from real-time social media interactions. In a perfect world, social media marketing (as with building your app website & most other elements of a strong marketing plan) is best leveraged when you first start concepting your app. This seeds fan followings and enables you to gather and implement feedback early on in the process. For instance, Clear sold 350,000 copies of its app within nine days of its launch, thanks to marketing tactics fired well in advance. But don’t worry if you’re much further along on your roadmap – by thinking about marketing at all, you’re already ahead of most app developers.

Naturally, if you’re not already on Facebook and Twitter, you need to start here. Your personal accounts aren’t enough – create unique accounts for your app! Depending on the nature of your app, you might also consider niche social strategies using platforms like Reddit, Vine, and Instagram.

Build a following. If you already have large followings on your personal accounts, absolutely use them to promote your new app pages. Otherwise, find friends and people in your network with large followings and kindly request a shout out – or post directly to their page if you have to. Follow/like people and brands you share a target audience with, and comment in discussions where you can offer an perspective. More importantly, be sure to interact with your own followers!

Use hashtags – thoughtfully: Post content with appropriate hashtags so relevant people can discover you. As a general rule, hashtags should be general enough for people to search for them, but not so general that you’re buried under a thousand posts a minute. #dog is too general, #grumpyonetoothedbulldog is too narrow, and #spotteddog is just right.

Slingshot uses its Facebook page to excite users about new updates. User comments offer valuable information about user sentiment, plus the opportunity to directly respond in real time.

Slingshot uses its Facebook page to excite users about new updates. User comments offer valuable information about user sentiment, plus the opportunity to directly respond in real time.

Have a content strategy: Create a regular content cadence and tell your followers how often you post – daily, weekly, etc – and stick to it. Your posts should include interesting, relevant updates – not sales messages. Don’t post the same content on each channel. Some overlap is okay, but give users unique reasons to follow you on different platforms.  When you don’t have updates of your own, offer an insightful comment or link related to something else related to your industry that is relevant and valuable to your users. Consider services like Outbrain to accelerate your content distribution strategy. Startup Moon also offers a great content marketing guide for startups.

Get feedback: The most important thing to remember about social media is that it’s a two-way channel – not a podium where you do all the talking. Your social media marketing should be a source of intelligence to you. So stimulate relevant discussions. Ask questions, test and validate ideas. Learn who your influencers are. Early on, this can be a great form of market research. Once your social followings have achieved scale, research analytics tools (more on this in a future post) to help test content strategies, identify trends, and fine tune what works.

 

Note: This post is part of the Developer App Marketing Series, specifically designed to offer marketing tips and best practices for new app developers. The series is intended to begin by covering the basis before moving into more targeted app marketing tactics. Developers – is this content helpful, and if not, how can it be? Your feedback is as valued as it is welcome. Please share your thoughts in the comments section!