Packed House at MobileDevNJ/Jet Technology Combined Meetup Hears from Verizon, Branch Metrics and VOOM Carpool

Photo: A packed house at the Mobile Dev NJ meetup at Jet. Photo Credit: Alex Zaltsman
A packed house at the Mobile Dev NJ meetup at Jet. | Alex Zaltsman

The MobileDevNJ meetup group held its bimonthly event in combination with the Jet Technology group on May 11 in Hoboken. The meeting drew nearly 150 developers and others to Jet Technology’s headquarters.

There were three speakers. First, Sean Henriques, senior mobile app developer at Verizon, talked about the company’s new Cloud Storage API service. Next, Adam J. Michalski, growth partner at Branch Metrics (hq Palo Alto, Calif.), presented the company’s “deep linking” and other services for apps and websites. Lastly, Debbie Spina Piperno discussed her app, VOOM Carpool for Kids, which enables parents to coordinate safe carpools for their children.


According to Henriques, Verizon has been offering a free personal-cloud service similar to Dropbox to its customers since 2013. Verizon also offers APIs that enable developers to interface their apps with the users’ content stored by this service. These APIs are preloaded onto Verizon phones, making it easy for apps using these APIs to work on the phones.

A big plus for these APIs is that they don’t require authentication for access by Verizon customers. Verizon calls this “frictionless authentication” and asserts that this increases the use of apps, as many users drop off at the authentication point.

Henriques pointed out that developers have access to a large customer base with lots of content in their personal clouds. Verizon Cloud’s storage service also has some nice security features. For instance, “OAuth” is used for identification, authentication and verification. Content is encrypted for users, who must grant the apps access to their content; users can deallocate access if their phones are lost or stolen.

The software development kits (SDKs) are available in the “Personal Cloud Storage API” section, which includes many platforms, such as Java, iOS, Android and PHP. Ruby and JavaScript are coming soon.

Developers don’t have to be Verizon customers to test their apps with Cloud Storage APIs, said Henriques. Access is provided to registered developers for testing purposes. As this is a relatively new offering, developers who get involved now have a ground floor opportunity, he noted. 

Branch Metrics

Next, Adam J. Michalski, growth partner at Branch Metrics (hq Palo Alto, Calif.), presented the company’s “deep linking” and other services for mobile apps. The company’s main freemium service is deep linking, which takes you directly to content within in the app, even after download, not just the home page. This feature offers the advantage of increasing click-throughs and sales.
Deep linking allows passing an unlimited number of parameters and key value pairs,” said Michalski. “Search and query strings can have as many variables as the app needs to pinpoint and retrieve a particular app page with particular information, such as a product description and picture. This accuracy in remotely bringing up pages is innovative and useful,” he said, “allowing for accuracy and flexibility in linking. This detail in linking significantly increases user attention and concentration rates.”
Branch also offers “Smart Banners,” which appear at the top of a mobile website and direct potential customers to specific products or pages. “Text Me The App” is another feature from the company. The user enters a phone number and is sent a text message with a link from where an app can be downloaded. Branch offers other app-to-app services, including app referrals; analytics; and “Deepviews,” which display the products before downloading the apps (where the user actually buys the product). 

VOOM Carpool for Kids

App entrepreneur Debbie Spina Piperno presented her product, VOOM Carpool, which provides a modern solution to the common logistical problem of carpooling children to/from school and activities. A user lists the locations of the child’s school and activities, and then the app can find matches among the user’s friends.

Safety comes first with VOOM Carpool, said Piperno. For example, the app prohibits double buckling (securing two children within one seat belt), and new users are warned against texting notifications of delay while operating the vehicle. Also, invitations and “like-backs” are required before other members of your “circle” can view your children’s names and the times and locations of their activities. All members of a particular circle must have their phone numbers in each other’s contact lists, or invitations and like-backs will not be honored.

The app uses geolocation, so the whereabouts of the driver and children are shown and updated on a real-time basis, thereby indicating the proximity of the driver to the pickup point and child. For easy visual recognition, locations are shown on a road map with flags, cars in green and children waiting for a pickup in red.

Schedules can be synced and shared between drivers, such as a husband and wife, Piperno said. The app is currently available in iOS and will soon be available in Android.

[updated 5/19/16 ES]

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