Showtime Turns to Parse to Power Next Gen TV Experiences

Example of Showtime Sync on a TVMore and more television viewers are multitasking during viewing, often engaging with content related to the show they are watching. Rather than try to combat this behavior, Showtime decided to embrace the opportunity and develop a multi-platform interactive experience that syncs to television programming. “We wanted to serve this audience of active fans with high-end synchronized content that enhances the viewing experience and provides deeper engagement,” said Showtime’s VP of Interactive Television, David Preisman.

SHO Sync offers fans enhanced viewing for many of the series on Showtime, including Homeland, Shameless, Ray Donovan, and Penny Dreadful. The second screen SHO Sync app is available for iPhone and iPad and, in an industry first, viewers can now interact on Smart TVs using their remote control.

The SHO Sync app uses Automated Content Recognition (ACR), to accurately synchronize interactive content with the program being viewed. According to Preisman, “Many subscribers watch Showtime series time shifted, from Showtime Anytime, Showtime On Demand or from a DVR. The ACR technology utilized by SHO Sync ensures that the interactive content is always synchronized with the show no matter how they choose to watch.” Fans can vote in polls, answer trivia, learn more about key characters, and make predictions. Interactive play earns users points, badges, and bragging rights, and everything in the app can be shared.

“When we were developing SHO Sync we heard about Parse from one of our developers, so we decided to give it a try. We were looking for a cloud-based backend to power SHO Sync across multiple platforms and with the free account, we decided to take it for a test run,” explains Preisman.

The development and launch of this complex product required close collaboration between Showtime, and developers from A Different Engine and Bottle Rocket. “What’s great about Parse is that it’s dead simple to use,” said Seth Piezas, Senior Developer, A Different Engine. “I’m a big fan of developing only code that is unique to a project. Being able to fall back on the existing data, analytics, and code management and reporting web UI is a fantastic win.” He added, “In this day and age, I think if you are building anything more than what makes your product unique you are simply focusing on the wrong thing. Parse lets you focus on your product.”

Showtime needed to integrate with half a dozen systems for content, images, data processing, and gamification. Parse allowed them to perform much of this integration once, in the cloud, to reduce the integration effort on the client applications. Showtime uses Parse Data and Cloud Code for common APIs so the TV and mobile client apps can access many of the various backend services and data processing.

“Our Interactive TV and Mobile teams strive to develop breakthrough apps where the technology goes away and the viewer can immerse themselves in the story,” says Preisman. “Since our launch in early 2013, Parse has provided a reliable cloud based solution, allowing our teams to focus on the user experience.”

Showtime offers SHO Sync for over 250 episodes of original programming. You can learn more about SHO Sync and check out a demo video here.

Courtney Witmer
April 18, 2014

Meme, Inc Uses Parse in Top-Grossing Xtreme Slots

Xtreme Slots app open on iPhone 5Meme, Inc was co-founded in 2008 by Diego Yanivello, Mauro Vazquez, and Gonzalo Oxenford. A three-person company until this year, when they decided to expand their team to support other platforms, all of their games are built in house, from the math models and coding, to the illustrations and sound design.

With successful titles like Catcha Mouse, which climbed up to the #1 position in the App Store charts in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain and Australia during the early days of the iTunes App Store, the team turned to Parse when they started working on newest title, Xtreme Slots.

A social casino game, Xtreme Slots launched on iOS in December of 2012 and on Facebook Canvas in November of 2013. The game began with 12 slot machines on the iOS version when it was first released, but after updates every two weeks to offer new slot machines and features, there are now 40 slots available to game players.

Looking for a unique, complete cloud storage service the team found Parse on Facebook and incorporated Parse into the development of Xtreme Slots. The app stores user data, sends emails, and enables Facebook Login with Parse Core, and sends targeted messages to specific players with Parse Push.

Like many apps, Xtreme Slots stores players’ progress using Parse Data. Not just a great tool for keeping track of levels and ranking, though, the team has also found that this lets them prevent user abuses that could arise from using different devices or platforms to repeat the same action, like collecting free gifts. They also use Cloud Code in Parse Core to perform validations before saving users’ progress, use scheduled jobs to send e-mails to users with promotions for upcoming events, and are in the process of developing new social features using Cloud Code and scheduled jobs.

One important Parse Core feature for the app is Social Login. The app allows people to log in with Facebook via the Parse Facebook SDK so they don’t need to create an account and remember new usernames and passwords. With a core aspect of the game’s structure dependent on social interaction, and Facebook sitting at #1 in social gaming, enabling Facebook Login with Parse was an easy decision for the team. The team has also found that having users log in with Facebook allows them to offer users more options to earn virtual currency, share the experience with their friends, compete on the leaderboards, and other new features that are still in development.

Company co-founder Gonzalo Oxenford reports that,

From our experience, Parse is a great solution for small teams that cannot afford to develop and maintain their own servers (and is worth it for large teams as well). We were looking for an OODB when we ran into Parse, and quickly fell in love with features like Push and Cloud Code. It is very well documented, easy and intuitive to use. Parse is a growing community, which means you’ll see a very active forum were you can learn from others’ experiences. They are constantly supporting the tool and adding new features, which makes it more interesting. The Basic plan is free and offers a generous free quota so you can try Parse by yourself and see if it fits your needs.

With 1M installs since launch, 300k monthly active users and 115k daily active users, it’s no surprise that Xtreme slots has reached as high as #150 in the US iPad App Store’s overall top grossing apps. And, at #24 in the overall grossing apps in the Australian iPhone App Store, it’s currently the second most downloaded casino app in Australia.

Download Xtreme Slots on iOS today or play on Facebook Canvas now. Also keep an eye out for the Android release, coming soon!

Courtney Witmer
April 4, 2014

FOX International Channels Uses Parse Push to Keep Audiences Engaged

FOX International Channels (FIC), part of 21st Century FOX (NewsCorp), is one of the top globalized TV businesses. Recognizing the need to create an online strategy to continue its growth, FIC set up departments in global regions focused on creating digital content. With Latin America emerging as the most developed region, Leonardo Rosales, Web Production Executive Director for Fox Latin American Channels, turned to Parse to power Push notifications for their mobile strategy.

FOX Sports Review on an Macbook on the left and Copa Bridgestone Libertadores on an iPhone 5 on the right.

Charged with developing mobile and web apps on all major platforms that will attract both new and existing users, Leonardo oversees the development of mobile apps for FIC brands. Beginning with a focus in Latin America, the team has developed two apps that use Parse Push to keep their audiences engaged.

Inspired by the success of a 2010 World Cup Facebook game built in partnership with Three Melons that had 17M installs in 6 months, the team adjusted to the new mobile market with Fox Sports Review. A soccer game built on Unity and available on Facebook (and coming to iOS and Android in April), the app lets you re-play the best goals in history.

The second app is a companion to Copa Bridgestone Libertadores, the most popular club soccer tournament in Latin America. Created after the team decided not to have a central sports app but to build one app for each tournament to get the best of organic traffic and appeal to specific segments, the app provides minute-by-minute coverage of games, news, videos, and galleries. One of the most exciting features, though, is that Leonardo’s team is integrating the live TV coverage with Parse-powered push notifications to enable TV audiences to participate in polls, with live results posted to TV using web services. Currently in beta testing, the team hopes to have the feature available by the first half of April, 2014.

According to Leonardo, if they hadn’t decided to use Parse for Push,

It would have taken a lot of time and resources for us to implement our own solution. Our developers would have to start from scratch: learn how to do it, best practices, etc. and then implement it. We don’t have the IT infrastructure, and don’t know how to build it, so it would have been a pain to put everything together. Parse is already up and running for a budget price.

Copa Bridgestone Libertadores is available to soccer fans now on iOS and Android, with over 600,000 installs to date. Fox Sports Review is now available on Facebook here and will be available on iOS and Android in April. The FOX International Channels and FOX Sports teams also have several more exciting Parse-powered apps on their road map over the next few months, so stay tuned for those as well!

Courtney Witmer
March 28, 2014

CyberAgent Uses Parse Push to Power Pashaoku Auction App

CyberAgent iTunes App Store screenshotsCyberAgent, Inc. is a leading online media and advertising company based in Tokyo, Japan. In addition to their media ventures, the company also develops social games and other apps, including Ameba, a popular Japanese blogging platform. CyberAgent came to Parse when they developed Pashaoku, a user-to-user auction service that became a subsidiary company, Pashaoku, Inc., in February of 2013.

Pashaoku (パシャオク) was designed with ease of use in mind, enabling users to create auction listings in less than 30 seconds. Optimized for smartphones, the app was developed based on the idea that all someone needs to post an auction is to snap a picture. In fact, the name says it all: “pasha” is the word for the “click” of a camera shutter, and “oku” is an abbreviation of the word for “auction.”

In addition to allowing people to create their own instant auctions, the company collaborates with celebrities to auction personal items and opportunities to participate in special events with them. For example, the chance to go on a triple-date with Japanese comedy trio “Panther” was recently auctioned off for ¥567,001 (about $5,600 USD).

The team working on Pashaoku turned to Parse when they started looking for a service to send mass push notifications to users on both iOS and Android. Parse’s Push services became the main draw for CyberAgent, who use it to send out targeted notifications to users. For example, when someone creates a new auction, a notification is sent to all of his or her followers.

In addition to push, Pashaoku also stores targeting data in Parse. App developer Caesar Wirth, an iOS and Android developer who worked on the iOS version of Pashaoku, explains that, “Since Parse is so flexible, it is easy to add or remove targeting criteria. We keep Parse synchronized with our own database, so everything is always up to date.” After using Parse in Pashaoku, Caesar continues:

I am a big fan of the data querying system and history log. We send pushes to certain subsets of users, and some of our queries can get a little complex. Parse handles it all. Afterwards, we can look back and see everything we sent, and to whom, so we can reproduce anything we want.

Parse provides such a stable and flexible infrastructure, that it would take many man hours to develop something internal. With the correct strategy, you could probably have something up and running within a matter of days as opposed to weeks. Even a free account provides many of the benefits.

With 520K+ downloads on iOS and 300K+ on Android, Pashaoku is still going strong long after its initial release. You can learn more about CyberAgent and the story behind its success here.

Courtney Witmer
March 26, 2014

Concrete Software Uses Parse for Push in PBA® Bowling Challenge

PBA Bowling being played on a white iPhone 5Concrete Software is a 25 person company in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a passion for building and publishing “rock solid” mobile games. Building games for feature phones (using J2ME), BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Palm OS since 2003, one of their biggest hits to date is PBA® Bowling Challenge. A freemium bowling game with multiplayer, career mode, more than 10 tournaments, and the real PBA players to play against, the app was built through close work with the Professional Bowlers Association.

Concrete Software turned to Parse to add push notifications to their apps. They use notifications to push relevant information to players, such as advertisements for limited sales and important updates with significant bug fixes or additions. Co-founder Keith Pichelman appreciates that, “Parse makes push messages simple without having to host messaging servers ourselves. We’re also excited about the recent addition to support Google Cloud Messaging (GCM).”

Regularly appearing in the top 50 grossing top 50 most downloaded US Arcade and US Sports apps, the app has also been featured in the iTunes Store in countries around the world and has over 8 million installs to date. You can play PBA® Bowling Challenge on Facebook and download it for free download on iOS and Android.

Courtney Witmer
March 21, 2014

Russian Developer Playrix Builds Township on Parse

Township screen on an iPhone 5Playrix, headquartered in Vologda, Russia, started out as a downloadable games developer nine years ago. Now building mobile games, they recently launched their first free-to-play app, Township. A city-building game with farming elements, the app focuses on managing and setting the production of various goods.

Accustomed to optimizing their work by using dedicated third party services and solutions, Chief Creative Officer Igor Elovikov says that the company decided to use Parse for Township’s backend after stumbling on an industry article about the platform.

The game uses Parse Data to store players’ profiles. Using Parse in this way is useful because even if a player deletes the app from a device, they will continue from where they left off if they download it again. According to Igor, “Parse is very convenient and is a great time-saver. We don’t need to worry about implementing these solutions on our own and can focus on the game itself. Parse offers us a stable and reliable platform that might be very difficult for a gaming company to develop and support in-house.”

Township was launched on iOS in late 2013 and on Google Play early in 2014. In just over three months, the game achieved almost 4 million downloads with a healthy retention, allowing the game to grow organically and achieve a 4.5 star rating across 80,000 reviews on both the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

You can download Township for free on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, and Amazon and play online on Facebook.

Courtney Witmer
March 14, 2014

Glu Brings Deer Hunter 2014 to Facebook with Parse

Glu, a leading global developer and publisher of free-to-play games for smart phone and tablet devices recently turned to Parse to help bring their hit, Deer Hunter 2014, to Facebook Canvas. Headquartered in San Francisco with teams outside Seattle and in Canada, China, India, Korea and Russia, Glu is focused on creating compelling original IP games on a wide range of platforms including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and MAC OS.

With a long history of developing for the Deer Hunter brand, acquired from Atari in 2010, this is the fifth game Glu has published in the Deer Hunter mobile series. Already aware of Parse as a tool for developing games on Facebook, the acquisition of Parse by Facebook made it an obvious choice for Sourabh Ahuja, Vice President for Android and Cross-Platform Development at Glu. As Glu’s first real attempt at a Facebook game, the team found that although there was a bit of learning curve, Parse’s seamless integration with Facebook helped the team to quickly implement most of the key Facebook specific features like Facebook payments, achievements, and stories.

With more than 2 million installs to date on Facebook, Deer Hunter 2014 is not only the first game Glu has ported to Facebook using Parse, it is also their most successful title of all time in terms of overall downloads and revenue. As a result, Sourabh reports that, “In my eyes, efficiency, ease of use and stability are the most important benefits of a BaaS. Parse’s seamless integration with Facebook helped us a lot in quickly implementing most of the key Facebook specific features like Facebook payments, achievements, and stories.”

You can play Deer Hunter 2014 online on Facebook, or download it for free on iOS and Android.

Courtney Witmer
March 7, 2014

New Musx App from Savvy Apps Makes Music Sharing Simple

musx on iphone 5cSavvy Apps, a mobile agency based just outside of Washington, D.C. turned to Parse to help power their newest app, musx. Having built apps for customers ranging from startups like Homesnap to household names like PBS, it’s no surprise that their newly released offering for app co-founders Eddie Sniezek and John Reardon is already off to a five-star start in the app store.

Musx is designed to be the simplest way to share music with friends. By making sharing a song as easy as sharing a photo, musx lets you access the latest music recommendations from your friends and favorite sources on a personal feed. The idea was conceived when Sniezek and Reardon recognized that having to use separate apps to discover, share and listen to music left them without an easy way to find, save and interact with suggestions from their friends.

In order to find the best way to fix this fragmented music experience, Reardon and Sniezek developed multiple beta sites and hosted large concerts to get feedback from their peers along with bands and venues. It became clear that the disconnect between where music is listened to and where it is shared caused fundamental problems for music fans and professionals alike. They raised seed capital from investors in New York and hired Savvy Apps to refine and execute the idea, initially on the iPhone.

Released on iOS in mid-February 2014, the app’s backend is powered by Parse and uses logic in Cloud Code to manage follower, popular now, and share calculations. Because musx is based on friends, the app offers Facebook and Twitter login via Parse Social to make a user’s network available immediately. The app also makes use of Parse Push to keep users engaged by notifying them when they are followed or mentioned.

With the help of Parse, Savvy Apps was able to bring musx to market faster and with lower initial costs. With the app’s great momentum, the ongoing affordability along with the capacity for scale makes them confident in their choice to use Parse for their backend.

Download musx for free on iOS today, and keep an eye out for the future Android release.

Courtney Witmer
February 28, 2014 Uses Parse to Power Favado Grocery Savings App

Favado app open on iPhone 5Saving money has become part of the American way, especially as the economy recovers from the recession of 2008. Thankfully, today’s shoppers looking to make smart purchasing choices have tools such as to help them save time and money.

Currently, offers two products to address this goal. The first is the website,, where shoppers will find one of the world’s biggest databases of online coupon codes and deals. Five million shoppers turn to every month to access the best deals on the web, generating $1 billion in sales annually for the website’s retail partners.

Now, the company has released a new offering, Favado, a mobile app built to help people save money at the grocery store. Leveraging their excellent relationships with the nation’s top grocery bloggers, who sift through circulars and coupon books to find the very best deals and matchups across the country, is able to power the coupon data in the app. With the app, the company was confident they could provide a solution that helps everyone save up to 70% on their weekly grocery bill. CTO Joe Zulli says that the goal for Favado is to make it simple and fun to save meaningful amounts of money at the grocery store. To achieve this, they’ve assembled the country’s largest database of grocery store sales and “matchups” from 65,000 stores nationwide. Favado builds these matchups for you, and presents them in a list that is personalized to the products that you often buy. From there, you can select the items that interest you and put them in your weekly shopping list.

Favado is the first mobile app that Joe and his team have built. They turned to Parse after it was recommended to them by a colleague to help solve some of the pain they were experiencing as they worked to get push notifications to work across both iOS and Android. After investigating the option, the team decided to use Parse for sending out push notifications from their backend servers to users. For example, Favado users can subscribe to a store to get notified when new sales and matchups are available for that store. When a batch of sales gets entered into the system, a process gets triggered, which uses Parse to send a push notification to every user who has subscribed to that store that the sales are for

After looking into Push, the team experimented with the rest of the Parse platform and decided to use Parse Data for storing miscellaneous reference data, such as their zip code database that is used for geo-spatial lookups. Although the team has a backend of their own as well, Joe says they’ve found that, “by pairing it up with Parse, we have been able to focus our home-grown backend on functionality that is specific to the needs of our particular use case.”

The app also uses Parse Social for login and signup functionality. This gave Joe and his team a quick and easy way to incorporate secure login that works across Android, iOS, and the web, which Joe says, “would have been much more expensive in terms of both resources and money to build by hand.”

In the two months since launch, Favado has been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. It has excellent reviews in press and in the app stores, but is also spreading powerfully via word-of-mouth. The app is experiencing great engagement, with 60% of shoppers opening the app several times a week. However, the team sees the true measure of success as their users’ ability to save money and are most proud of the fact that they have heard directly from users that the app is saving them up to 70% on their weekly grocery bill.

After working with Parse, Joe feels that the main benefit to using the platform is in opportunity cost savings. As he sees it, “time spent on infrastructure is time that you aren’t spending building solutions to delight your users and uniquely position your app in the marketplace. That’s not to say that backend infrastructure isn’t critically important, because it clearly is. There would be no Favado without its backend. However, by offloading the necessary, but “commodity” engineering work, you and your team can be freed up to focus on your users, which benefits everybody.”

Everyone, whether you have never clipped a coupon, or you are a coupon pro, can save big at the grocery store with Favado (available on both iOS and Android). You can visit to read savings stories from users, as well as check out press coverage from USA Today, Forbes, and the Los Angeles Times.

Courtney Witmer
February 22, 2014

Dayre: Long-Form Blogging Simplified

Dayre on iPhone and Android phonesWe live in an age of Facebook status updates, Twitter’s 140 character limit, and images that only last 10 seconds before they self-destruct. We’re used to consuming rapidly digestible pieces of information as well as sharing our important (and mundane) moments in similar format. Observing this trend, FTW Tech, the makers of Parse-powered Dayre (pronounced “diary”) developed a blogging app that compiles multiple short updates per day into a daily blog post, complete with photos, stickers, and other unique touches.

Traditionally working in web applications, Dayre is the company’s second foray into mobile apps. Developed after observing that long-form blogging was taking a hit, co-founder Ming says the idea for Dayre grew from the idea that people have become used to updating in bite-sized pieces. He felt that, “if I boke down each update so it mimicked current trends, and “stitched” these updates together within a day, it would still tell a “story”. Dayre is about telling a story instead of pushing out fragmented updates that lack context and depth.”

Dayre uses Parse to the fullest, incorporating Data, Social, Push, and Cloud Code after the company’s Technical Director, Timothy Teoh, recommended Parse to the development team.

Ming says that nearly all Dayre’s digital assets are stored on Parse, including images, videos, and thumbnails. Cloud Code is used for most functions, as it reduces the amount of code that needs to be written for iOS and Android. They also use it for scheduled jobs that are not time-sensitive, like calculating follower counts.

The app uses Parse’s built-in Facebook integration, including email confirmation and authentication libraries, which simplifies these tasks from a development perspective. Users are then notified via push notification when they have new blog followers, when they are mentioned in a post or comment, or when a blog post receives a comment. The company then also uses the simple Parse interface to make general announcements through the Push Console when necessary.

According to Ming, “Parse lowers development costs and time significantly. The Free plan is all you need for development before switching to Pro at launch and scaling up to Enterprise if the product takes off (like ours did!) or back to Free if it doesn’t. Parse allowed us to focus solely on app development and design, rather than worrying about server and database administration. In the growth phase it also allowed us to eliminate infrastructure or server configuration as a factor when debugging or deciding how to scale out Dayre.”

The app has taken off in East Asia, particularly in Singapore and Malaysia, but is available worldwide on Android and iOS. You can read a review of the app from the Next Web here and learn more about using Dayre for your own “diary” via this tutorial from Make Use Of.

Courtney Witmer
February 14, 2014