Making Mobile Accessibility Apps & Devices, More Accessible.

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In the United States alone, about every one in five people have a disability. A few weeks ago, Apple presented a set of accessibility emoji to better represent these individuals. The list includes a service dog, wheelchairs, the sign for deaf, and several more. After finishing the article, we decided to look into other ways MEDL can further support these individuals through our mobile technology. We ended up registering one of our apps with GARI (Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative) and wanted to spread the word about making mobile accessibility features and devices, more accessible.

Marlee & MEDL

In 2012, we released Marlee Signs in an effort to teach the fundamentals of ASL with the award-winning deaf actress, Marlee Maltin. The Marlee Signs app is perfect for learning to express yourself in ASL. The app covers everything from the alphabet, to basic vocabulary, to common everyday-life expressions through high-quality video demonstrations from Marlee Maltin herself. We were beyond proud to have worked on this tool that breaks communication barriers, and just as excited to register it in the GARI database. You can check out Marlee Signs in the app store.

What is GARI?

The Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative was started by the Mobile & Wireless forum in 2008. Their goal was to create a central source of information for 'global accessibility solutions in the mobile ecosystem.' Their website includes a searchable database featuring hundreds of accessible features and thousands of phone models in several different languages. If you know of any phones, tablets, apps, wearables, or smart TV's with accessibility features, we encourage you to reach out to the owner about sharing their work with GARI. To learn more about GARI, you can visit their website: http://www.gari.info/ 

If you have your own website or app, here are a few simple tips to make them more accessible:

 Add Attribute or Alt Tags to your website. These tags describe what the images on a website consist of for visually impaired visitors. 

Make sure your designs don't rely on colors that are commonly unseen by people with forms of color blindness. Find out more about the types of color blindness here.

 If you're using a video on your page, look into adding subtitles.  Some websites, like Facebook, can automatically add them for you.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. We hope it inspires more conversation and consideration when working on your next project.

The GDPR deadline is coming fast! Is your back end ready?

The GDPR - or General Data Protection Regulation - is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union.

Or in plain English, it's a set of rules for how companies will need to handle personal data of European customers.

But don't let the fact that it's being enacted on the other side of the pond give you reason to think this doesn't effect you. If you've got a digital platform that's used by folks in Europe - or even used by folks with European passports here in the USA - the EU plans on holding your company accountable for the data you collect.

And they are not messing around. The rules are going to mean that lots of companies - ourselves included - are going to need to take a look at how they collect and process customer data. And in a world where database structures are complex and challenging already - it's likely about to get more so. (Sorry Donald)

The rules go into place on May 25, 2018 - which at the time of this writing is less than two months away. So if you're behind the curve on this important topic - here's what you need to know.

Does GDPR effect me?
If your company collects, stores or uses Personal Data, it effects you. It also effects you if you process Personal Data for other companies.

What constitutes Personal Data?
Personal Data includes (but isn't limited to):

  • Name
  • Address
  • Localisation
  • Online Identifier
  • Health Information
  • Income
  • Cultural Profile

Okay, so what do we need to do to comply?
The GDPR is both very clear - and somewhat vague - in their rules. The creators of these rules understand the vast discrepancy among technologies and platforms and data collectors, and they recognize that a one-size-fits-all set of rules is going to be incredibly hard for the industry to swallow. So while the guidelines themselves are clear, they recognize that different companies will enact these guidelines differently.

  1. Communication. In plain language, tell them who you are when you request the data, say why you are processing their data, how long it will be stored and who receives it.
  2. Consent. Get their clear consent to process the data. And if you collect from children for social media purposes, you need to check the age limit for parental consent.
  3. Access & Portability. Let people access their data, and if they choose, take it from you and give it to another company.
  4. Warnings. Inform people right away of data breaches if there is a serious risk to them.
  5. Erase Data. Give people the ‘right to be forgotten’. Erase their personal data if they ask, but only if it doesn’t conflict with laws or regulations requiring that certain data be maintained.
  6. Profiling. If you use profiling or algorithms to process applications for legally-binding agreements  like loans or insurance, you must:
    1. Inform your customers;
    2. Make sure you have a person, not a machine, checking the process if the application ends in a refusal;
    3. Offer the applicant the right to contest the decision.
  7. Marketing. Give people the right to opt out of direct marketing that uses their data.
  8. Safeguard Sensitive Data. Use extra safeguards for information on health, race, sexual orientation, religion and political beliefs.
  9. Data Transfer Outside the EU. Make legal arrangements when you transfer data to countries that have not been approved by the EU authorities.

If you architect data tables for a living, a few of the items on that list are probably making your head spin right now. There's no easy way to say it. Enacting GDPR is going to be difficult and sometimes costly for data companies doing business in Europe or with European customers. Which leads to the obvious questions...

What happens if I don't?
It starts with a warning, then escalates to a suspension of the ability to process data in the EU - and eventually results in fines of up to 20,000,000 Euros or 4% of your company's annual revenue. Like I said, they are not messing around.

So what do I do now?
Rome wasn't built in a day. And securing Roman citizen's data won't happen in a day either. Many of the larger enterprise companies who I interact with have been working on their GDPR plans for months now. Others are now moving quickly to get them in place. Some resources I've read even suggest appointing a DPO (Data Protection Officer) within your company.

Here are a few handy resources to learn more about GDPR. The first one is very simple and easy to follow. And in full transparency, much of my post above was taken from it. The second is more detailed and provides a deeper level of information of what you should know and what you'll need to do.

http://ec.europa.eu/justice/smedataprotect/index_en.htm

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/justice-and-fundamental-rights/data-protection/2018-reform-eu-data-protection-rules_en

What if we don't have any European customers?
For now, count yourself fortunate. The rules are limited to companies who have personal data of people from or in Europe. But don't get complacent. With the recent news surrounding data security and privacy, the US may not be far behind in enacting data privacy laws of our own. But that's a subject for another blog post, hopefully a little further down the road.

 

Dave Swartz is President of MEDL Mobile and serves as the Chair of the Innovation Policy Council for the Developers Alliance, a non-profit global membership organization that supports developers as creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs and promotes the continued growth of the industry, advocating on behalf of members and the development community at large on public policy and industry issues.

 

Adventures In Design Episode 737

The Nostalgic Past, Evolving Present And Confusing Future Of Design, Advertising, And Marketing.

Last week the President of MEDL Mobile, Dave Swartz, sat down with Jeff Bentley and Jon Gothold for episode 737 of Adventures in Design to discuss how the design, advertising, and marketing industries have been rapidly changing. Thanks for listening!

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MEDL Mobile - Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn

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Amusement Park - Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

Behind Every Great Product

Although each member of a product’s team is important, there is one role that is critical to the production of a world changing product: the product manager.

In 2005, Marty Cagan, founder of The Silicon Valley Product Group, discussed the essential skills and traits of this position in his paper Behind Every Great Product: The Role of the Product Manager. Last year, Cagan posted a follow-up article sharing untold stories from powerful female product managers through six iconic brands. We decided to share this article because it provides inspiring stories that explain the vital role a product manager plays in a company’s success. Having released over 200 apps, we can personally support Cagan’s opinion of a product manager’s significance.

Discover the issues products like Word for Mac, Netflix, iTunes, and more faced to become the iconic products they are today in the follow-up article, Behind Every Great Product.

Follow Marty Cagan on Twitter

Here's What's New With The Upcoming iOS 11.2

The fifth version of the forthcoming iOS 11.2 update is now available for iPhones enrolled in Apple’s Beta Software Program – and it brings a number of neat new features to the table, including AirPlay 2.

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The most notable addition is Apple Pay Cash, the firm’s iMessage-based peer-to-peer payment system, which is expected to rival the likes of PayPal, Skrill and Venmo when it (eventually) launches worldwide.

iOS 11.2 also increases the wireless charging limit on the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and flagship iPhone X from 5 to 7.5 watts, yielding a marginally faster charging speed – but it’s still nothing to write home about.

It’s thought that the bulk of the changes included in the release have been designed to improve the performance of the operating system – and that’s reflected in a Geekbench test the folks over at iDownloadBlog ran.

An iPhone X with the fifth preview build of iOS 11.2 installed scored 4,157 in the single-core and 10,088 in the multi-core test, while an identical unit running the previous build clocked in at 3,954 and 8,432, respectively.

Here’s the official changelog:

  • Apple Pay Cash – a quick peer-to-peer payments system that works through the iMessage app
  • Faster wireless charging for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X (7.5W)
  • Early AirPlay 2 support
  • New Control Center indicator on iPhone X
  • Tweaked emoji
  • iPhone 8 and iPhone X marketing wallpapers available on older phones
  • New iPhone X Live wallpapers
  • “Now Playing” option for controlling content on the Apple TV in Control Center
  • Control Center info cards for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles
  • Bug fix for Calculator app
  • A feature that lets developers add introductory pricing for subscription apps

We don’t know when Apple is planning to start rolling out the final version of iOS 11.2, but it’s safe to say it will have completed its rollout by the time Christmas Day comes around. Nothing’s set in stone, though.

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Building a healthy app for mHealth

Building a healthy app for mHealth

Building a healthy app for mHealth.

(a tutorial, of sorts)

Mobile technology and health care are coming together to create amazing new products, services and solutions. Some are saving lives. Some are creating efficiencies. All are changing the face of health care today.

But for all the innovation coming to market, there’s still more to be done. Across universities, hospitals, board rooms and marketing departments – there are ideas that could push mHealth forward – but for a wide variety reasons – they haven’t found their way from the back of a napkin to the App Store.

As someone who’s overseen the design and development of hundreds of mobile applications, I know first hand why many apps never get started: it’s daunting.

Apps can be incredibly easy to use – but the thought of creating one from scratch can be very intimidating.

Where do you even begin?

A PEEK INTO THE DISTANT, AND NOT SO DISTANT, FUTURE

A PEEK INTO THE DISTANT, AND NOT SO DISTANT, FUTURE

Mobile World Congress 2017 - San Francisco 

For years I’ve heard the stories of MWC Barcelona. The connections forged. The names dropped. The nightlife enjoyed. But as the President of MEDL Mobile, a mid-sized mobile development shop in Southern California, I’ve personally never felt the need to attend. A week abroad is an expensive trip for many reasons - both in terms of time away from the business and in terms of international flights. So when it was announced that MWC would be held in San Francisco this year, I jumped at the chance to attend.

React Native Radio Episode 73

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A few weeks ago our VP of Production, Michael Gilmore, was the special guest for React Native Radio’s episode 73. Gilmore discusses everything from his life back in Mississippi, to programming in React Native. We’ve included a full episode guide along with ways to connect with the panel. Enjoy!

"React Native Radio is a weekly discussion of the tools, techniques, and technologies used to build mobile applications with JavaScript and React done by developers regularly using React Native."

Episode 73 guide

Introduction - 1:34

Moving from Mississippi to California - 8:30

Working at MEDL Mobile - 12:05

How React Native fits in at MEDL Mobile - 14:35

What MEDL Mobile used before React Native - 24:00

App solutions outside of React Native - 28:47

MEDL Mobile’s developers - 32:00

When React Native isn’t the best solution -  38:45

When to use React Native - 47:00

Follow The Panel

Michael Gilmore - Twitter | Instagram 

React Native Radio - Twitter

Nader Dabit  - Twitter

Kevin Old - Twitter