MileIQ Finds a Mobile Backend that Goes the Distance with Parse

MileIQ

“How much would you pay for an app that put more than $500 extra into your pocket each month without any effort or behavioral change on your part? That’s the question that MileIQ users are asking themselves after just a few days of using the mileage tracking and reporting app.”  – PandoDaily, January 2015

Since its launch in late 2013, MileIQ has saved both time and money for countless users with its highly popular iPhone and Android apps. It has topped the charts as the #1 grossing Finance app in the App Store for many consecutive months, and continues to dominate headlines and home screens alike. Much of MileIQ’s rousing popularity can be attributed to the app’s acute focus on developing an incredibly delightful user experience for a very tedious user problem: mileage tracking and reimbursement.

Reimbursable miles are one of the most commonly audited things by both employers and the government.  However, an easy way for employees to log these miles is a problem less commonly tackled.  With MileIQ, employees can easily track the distance they’ve driven so they can efficiently and seamlessly file for a tax deduction or employer reimbursement.  This has proven to be hugely useful across the globe–and for the 50 million workers driving a significant amount for business in the U.S. alone.

The MileIQ app automates the capturing of miles, in addition to detecting the information the IRS needs–including departure, arrival, times, and distance.  With so much data to maintain and capture on-the-fly, the MileIQ team sought a robust mobile backend service.  From the team’s early development stages, Parse became crucial for prototyping and eventually as a stable backend:

The confidence we had in Parse was especially useful in the early stages of the development process–it enabled us to iterate rapidly towards a product that delights users with its ease of use across mobile and web.

Everything from user registration to capturing geopoints are stored in Parse with the use of Parse Core.  In addition, the MileIQ team uses Parse Push to engage with drivers through highly targeted notifications, including an alert when a drive has been logged.  The team describes using Parse to be an influentially positive decision for their app:

Parse enabled us to focus on each of the different parts of the system and reduce our development burden and operational overhead…The Parse toolkit helped with everything from account passwords and provisioning to push notifications and in-app purchases–it is easy to recommend it as an indispensable tool for developing mobile first user experiences.

 

The MileIQ app is now available for download on the App Store and Google Play Store, and visit their website here.

Nancy Xiao
March 13, 2015

The League Meets Its Backend Match in Parse

The League

Billed by the New York Times to be “the dating app for would-be power couples,” The League is paving the way for a new approach to dating.  In today’s dating climate, sorting through the noise can be both tiring and frustrating.  For The League, a focus on privacy and preferences is the top priority–and hugely desired by its users.  The League’s users provide information via Facebook and LinkedIn, allowing the app to protect them from their immediate personal and social networks while simultaneously identifying great potential matches who are “in their league.”  Each day, users are shown only five potential matches–but each chosen from the more highly selective community that constitutes The League’s membership.

To offer the best in privacy and in truly suitable matches, The League needed a robust mobile backend solution to power its heavy traffic.  Having made a splash in Forbes, The Tonight Show, and more, The League was faced with a huge influx of interest, and Parse was key to fielding that interest smoothly.

Not only was Parse helpful in handling signup peaks, it was also exceptionally simple for the team to implement.  According to Derrick Staten, the League’s founding engineer:

Parse is highly reliable, available, and predictable.  It allows query building in our native mobile languages.  We’ve been able to modify our database schema on the fly…and we never had to take the app offline or perform a migration.

As signups continue to grow, The League sought different solutions to manage the onboarding of new members.  A waitlist and referral system was implemented with the use of Branch.  Using Branch’s drop-in referral backend and contextual deep links, The League was able to build a full referral program and waitlist solution in hours.  This led to a 31 percent increase in conversion to signup for referred users.  As more and more new members joined the service, Parse continued to power the interaction between them with The League’s chat interface.  As Staten puts it:

While some apps struggle for months or years to build a chat interface for users, with Parse we have spent less than two weeks on it during our four months of building.

Parse’s ease-of-use has proved useful not only during the development process of The League’s chat interface.  Its unique simplicity has also been effective for prototyping, data storage, and more:

It is incredibly easy to use, even for first-time developers.  When prototyping and testing, the ability to effortlessly edit the cloud database in real time via the browser is a godsend.

The League is available for download now on the App Store.

Nancy Xiao
February 5, 2015

Voltage Entertainment Launches Another Hit With Parse

Queen's Gambit

In the latest visual novel game from Voltage Entertainment, Queen’s Gambit follows the life of a high profile super spy who excels at everything she does. Her newest mission, however, challenges her on an entirely different level–in love.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Voltage Entertainment’s apps have achieved significant success across the globe. The team’s hits have topped charts in the United States, Japan, and 46 other countries. Voltage is a pioneer of interactive romance novel apps aimed at women, and amongst the leading app publishers globally on iOS and Android as measured by revenue.

Developing Queen’s Gambit presented a unique challenge for the Voltage team. They were faced with constrained resources, and the roller coaster ride of using a new game engine. In addition, their proprietary internal push tool was cumbersome to use and incapable of segmenting messages based on users’ profiles.

With the use of Parse, many of these challenges were alleviated. Parse’s ease of integration and powerful push capabilities played an integral role in bringing Queen’s Gambit to life.

Shino Imao, Global Marketing Strategist from Voltage describes how Parse helped the team:

In the development of Queen’s Gambit, our latest romance app, the engineering team had to focus on our brand new engine, so they could not spare a single moment for any extensive requests the marketing team wanted to implement. Parse was exceptional. We used Parse Push to deliver periodical, segmented reminder notifications to bring users back to the game.

Shino and team also appreciated the ease of use of Parse:

Our team was so surprised at how easy the SDK integration and channel configuration was. Free and easy (really almost no time spent)—these were key benefits for our management and engineering teams. Otherwise, we just could not have done it.

Queen’s Gambit is now available on iOS and Android. Find out more about the adventure here.

Devin Cheevers
January 21, 2015

Vevo Takes On the Mobile Stage with Parse Push

Vevo

With countless players entering the music technology space each day, one has remained the absolute leader in bringing musical experiences to life: Vevo.  Serving up millions of views in video music content in countries across continents each day, Vevo offers the largest collection of premium official music videos possible.

Vevo’s online and mobile channels serve as key content sources for artists worldwide, and especially serve major record labels including Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.  With the Vevo app, it is easier than ever to discover premium official music videos.  Users can stream live music performances and original shows, in addition to exploring Vevo TV’s hand-curated music video channels.  For an enhanced listening experience, the Vevo app is even able to provide recommendations via a user’s iTunes music library–a phenomenally personal tool consistently focused on bringing the musical world to life.

Given its vast user base in countries like Australia, the U.S., Poland, Brazil, and beyond, Vevo looked for ways to maintain high levels of engagement without sacrificing any piece of their app experience or functionality.  For this, Vevo turned to Parse Push, the perfect solution for the widely popular, cross-platform nature of the Vevo app.  Found on Android, iOS, Window 8, Roku, XBOX 360 devices, and more, Vevo required a service that could handle sending push notifications to many different audiences and across different platform mediums.  According to Argam DerHartunian, VP of Product,

Parse is good for pushing notifications to users and specifically getting data on those we are engaging with.

With the seamless connection between Parse Push and Parse Analytics, Vevo is able to develop a comprehensive understanding of what kinds of push messaging resonates with their app users, and thus encouraging improvement for their engagement and retention.

Vevo continues to grow its offerings in new countries and with more artists each day.  Download the app in the Google Play Store, Apple App Store, or Windows Store.

Nancy Xiao
December 12, 2014

Seatwave’s Timbre App Sounds Out Success with Parse

Widely hailed by its users with a five-star rating in the App Store, Timbre is a welcome addition to any music listener’s event-planning experience.  Timbre provides a comprehensive list of music events happening in the U.S. and in the U.K., and greatly simplifies the attendance experience.  Users can create playlists from gigs and receive relevant notifications when bands they follow are touring near their location.  Plus, ticket purchasing becomes much more seamless through Timbre–fans are instantly connected with primary and secondary ticketing providers.
Timbre

Timbre began as a hackathon project in 2012.  By 2013, it was acquired by Seatwave, a UK-based secondary ticketing exchange company.  Today, Timbre’s visually captivating experience is available on the App Store, with plans for an Android release in the future.  In addition to the Timbre app, the team has built Timbre Afterparty, a web app focused on post-event sharing and celebration.  Users can upload images, review gigs, and share with friends.  Additionally, Timbre Afterparty provides the setlist for an event, and then allows the user to replay the setlist through a Spotify plugin.

Given the high complexity of pulling information on so many different artists, venues, and shows and linking them with user preferences, Timbre turned to Parse as their backend solution.  Parse Core is used to store user preferences, artist images, reviews, and more.  To engage with fans, Parse Push has proved exceptionally helpful.  Users’ music choices, including artists, venues, and events, are stored in Parse.  On a periodic daily basis, Parse is then queried to aggregate event information that is relevant to the user.  This information is then sent in a push notification to a music fan, connecting them to what is sure to be a great musical adventure.

For Timbre’s development team, Parse proved to be useful in a variety of ways:

Our favorite aspect of using Parse is its capability for rapid prototyping with small datasets.  Using Parse saved us hosting costs, and I would recommend it to teams that are looking to prototype quickly.

Download Timbre on the App Store today, and never miss out a great show again.

Nancy Xiao
October 24, 2014

Health & Parenting’s Apps Top the Global Charts With Parse

Pregnancy+

In just over two years, Health & Parenting has hurtled to the top of the charts with its global hits, Pregnancy+ and Tiny Beats. As a team, Health & Parenting is focused on creating high-quality, innovative apps for new parents. Among its growing suite of products, Pregnancy+ and Tiny Beats are its flagship apps—Pregnancy+ is one of the most popular pregnancy apps in the world with over 2 million downloads per year.  The app and its rich content has been translated into seven languages and is available across countless platforms including the App Store, Google Play Store, Windows Store, Amazon App Store, and more. Tiny Beats, a fetal heart rate monitor app, can be found in fourteen languages and has maintained a consistent spot in the top five rankings of the Medical section of the App Store.

With the use of Parse, the Health & Parenting team has been able to scale their family of apps to reach countless countries and to operate across a wide variety of device platforms.  Parse is used comprehensively–from the sign up process to cloud storage to push notifications and more.  Parse Core is used to securely store app data, enabling users to seamlessly sync their activity across multiple devices, and to restore their information if a device is lost or accidentally wiped.  Using Parse has provided many benefits for the Health & Parenting team and their user base.  As John Miles, CEO, notes:

Parse has been quick and relatively easy to integrate.  On an ongoing basis, the dashboard gives us clear visibility of our customers’ engagement and retention.

The team’s favorite aspect of using Parse is the Parse Push product.  Given the intertwined nature of their apps, many customers of the Pregnancy+ app would gain much value from the Tiny Beats App.  Knowing this, the Health & Parenting team utilized Parse Push to announce the launch of Tiny Beats to all existing Pregnancy+ customers.  In just a single weekend, Tiny Beats then soared to number seven overall in the paid UK App Store.  By using Parse Push, Miles found he was able to engage with customers more intimately than ever before:

Specifically the segmentation of who you’re about to push to, and being able to preview how they will see the notification on their device have been our favorites parts of using Parse Push.

Pregnancy+ and Tiny Beats are available for download across platforms.  Find both apps and discover the rest of the Health & Parenting suite of apps here.

 

Nancy Xiao
October 17, 2014

Cubefree by Citrix Labs Unleashes New Possibilities for Mobile Workers With Parse

CubefreeWith the release of each new mobile device into the global market, there is an ever-increasing need to be able to work collaboratively at any time through these tools.  Citrix Systems creates solutions that enable people to communicate at any time, from anywhere, on any device.  Now, with their new Cubefree app, this collaborative work experience can become even more intimate and effective than ever before.

Cubefree is a Citrix Experiment that helps mobile and remote workers find great places to work together beyond the cubicle.  It is the first community targeting mobile and remote workers so that they can easily connect with and assist each other.  Available on iOS in addition to a lightweight HTML 5 version, Cubefree uses Facebook and Parse to power many key parts of their app, from inviting new users to engaging existing users and more.

Originally an idea submitted to the Citrix Connect 2014 Innovators Challenge, Cubefree won “Best Overall Idea,” then turning to the Citrix Startup Accelerator Program to get started.  Given the fast-paced nature of the accelerator program, the Cubefree team prioritized efficiency in the development process.  Parse proved exceptionally useful, and provided a comprehensive solution for Cubefree.  According to Cubefree’s Product Manager, Marta Guerra:

We saved tons of development time using Parse.  It allowed us to have our MVP (minimum viable product) in two weeks to present our experiment to the Citrix executive council.

By saving so much in development time and resources, Cubefree was able to focus on the user experience.  Cubefree uses Parse Push to notify its mobile workers about invitations to “share a table,” “offer a coffee,” to chat, plus other activities.  Parse is also utilized for hosting data.

Given the inherently social nature of the product, Cubefree turned to Facebook’s platform to grow its user base.  Facebook is utilized to invite mobile workers to use the app, and Cubefree’s Facebook ad campaign generated 50% more clicks than Google Adwords with a 22% conversion rate.  For others in the development community, Guerra offers this tip:

Parse is excellent in enabling you to start projects fast.  It’s easy to setup and implement, and includes many essential features such as push notifications, data storage, and background jobs.

Cubefree by Citrix Labs is free to use and ready for mobile workers looking to explore new work settings and mutually minded professionals.  Download from the App Store now or visit the Citrix Labs website for more.

Nancy Xiao
October 9, 2014

Wantedly Uses Parse to Power Its Recruiting Service

Wantedly

Founded in September 2010, Wantedly is Japan’s largest social recruiting service. In solving the ultimately universal problem of helping people find careers they truly love, Wantedly has employed Parse features to power this process–notably Parse Push and Cloud Code.

Wantedly provides tools and apps that make “work” more exciting for people, and is best known for its social recruiting platform that connects employers to potential employees through the power of the social graph. Originating as a website, Wantedly experienced a huge rush in traffic early on, much of which could be traced back to iOS devices. In the year after its web launch, Wantedly welcomed over 1,000 clients and 40,000 members. From there, the company wanted to make it easier for users to access Wantedly, and began development for a cross-platform suite of applications with the help of Parse.

For Rei Kubonaga, the software engineer responsible for the growth of all of Wantedly’s iOS apps, the use of Parse was key from the start of the development process:

We didn’t have to worry about the infrastructure by using Parse, so we were able to focus on the improvement of the service.

Wantedly uses Cloud Code for a streamlined data-saving process. Simultaneously, Wantedly relies on Parse Push to constantly communicate with users. Given the cross-platform nature of Wantedly’s many applications, Parse Push has proved to be the most efficient and accessible solution towards driving push notifications on different types of operating systems.

As Wantedly continues to scale its user base, the team has turned to Parse’s extensive resource center for even more benefits:

 ‘Docs’ and ‘Help’ are especially helpful. They are rich in content and clear in description, so we haven’t faced any problems. Parse helped us create a stress-free and complication-free development environment.

Today, Wantedly’s family of applications include: Contact, Syukatsu Mail Template, Wantedly, Wantedly Admin, and Wantedly Share. The Wantedly app is now available on the Google Play Store. The rest of the family of applications can be found on the App Store.

Nancy Xiao
October 2, 2014

Fable Age Uncovers a Reliable Solution to Server Needs With Parse

Fable AgeBlue Tea Games takes the category of puzzle games to the next level with their release of Fable Age, a puzzle-meets-RPG packed with adventure. Initially focused on hidden object games, Blue Tea Games has now cracked a code in pinpointing the intersection to where a player can find a captivating story plot while solving intricate challenges. In Fable Age, players can build teams of familiar fairytale heroes, such as Robin Hood or Lancelot, and battle enemies using gem-linking mechanics. As players progress in skill and in the development of their quests, they can customize their characters with unique enchantments to acquire epic loots.

Prior to launching, Blue Tea Games realized the need for a simple solution to building a reliable server. With Parse Cloud Code, the team was able to achieve their server needs and focus instead on top-notch graphics and gameplay design. For Fable Age, Blue Tea Games has employed Parse Cloud Code for storage of their data and all interactions relating to it. As Blue Tea Games’ lead designer and producer for Fable Age puts it:

Parse provides a reliable and secure platform to deliver what we need, not to mention their data tables make it easy to build complex fields as well as retrieve useful data.

Given the smaller size of Blue Tea Games’ mobile team, the costs and manpower saved through the use of Parse enabled them to allocate their resources elsewhere. Instead of worrying about constant maintenance, the Fable Age team is now able to spend their time and resources on development to make the game even better:

We’re fortunate to not only grow our game with a reliable server like Parse, but to also receive great customer service from Parse engineers.

Additionally, a secret fable hero can be unlocked when a player uses Facebook Connect. Blue Tea Games has found that Fable Age benefits when players can battle tough quests with their friends’ heroes. With Facebook, players are now able to connect to their friends and assist each other in complex challenges.

Without the stress of server development, the team behind Fable Age has been able to zero in on the game’s experience, bringing to life our favorite fairy tale heroes. Fable Age is available on the App Store, and is coming soon to Android.

Nancy Xiao
September 25, 2014

Mixi and Nohana Bring Photos to Life With Parse

Nohana

As Japan’s go-to destination for all things people and social, Mixi has its hands in a variety of creative outlets for bringing people together. With its roots as a social networking site, Mixi’s recent foray into gaming with Monster Strike has proven to be highly successful. Now, Mixi has developed a subsidiary named Nohana, a photobook creation app powered by Parse.

The Nohana app allows you to upload photos from your smartphone, assembling them into 20-page photo-booklets or albums that are then printed and sent straight to your door. The first book ordered in a month is free plus shipping, and users can invite family members to a secured group to share photos and make collaborative photobooks.

To date, over 100,000 photobooks have been published by over 200,000 people, uploading more than 4 million photos. For a time, Nohana was not only the number one free iOS app in Japan with over 1 million downloads, but it was also featured on national television.

With so many photos and memories flowing through the service each day, Nohana turned to Parse products for a stable and scalable way to develop a strong backend for its app. Photo data, purchase history, and user information are all stored in Parse. Cloud Code is utilized for validation of a user’s value input and for connecting with Twilio for SMS authentication.

For Kazuki Tanaka and Kenta Tsuji, developers on the Nohana team, the Parse experience has been key for the app’s development and the startup’s growth:

The biggest merit of using Parse was shortening development of server-side infrastructure. To be a successful startup, we need to maximize output by minimizing cost and time, so it was perfect to use Parse.

Additionally, Nohana uses Parse Push to engage with its users, guiding them to photobook purchases and updates within the app. In the future, Nohana plans to use Parse Push to notify users of their shipment status. Of the features used, Parse has been especially useful for three elements of Nohana’s development:

1. Administration of users are really useful—including being able to set access control for each set of data, authentication via email, password reset function;

2. Implementation of server-side is easy;

3. 3rd party integration is easy, too! (e.g. Twilio, Underscore.js)

The Nohana app is available on the App Store and the Google Play Store. Bring your memories to life in a flash!

Nancy Xiao
September 18, 2014