Priceline creates first "pure" Android experience

priceline has launched the newest version of its Android application that was designed specifically for the operating system.

The release is part of Pricelines commitment to developing customized native apps for every device and platform. As opposed to creating one universal app and copying it for different devices, Priceline is strategically building unique apps for each device and platform.

Like many companies, we started with a heavy iOS focus, as that’s what our customers were using most then, said John Caine, chief product officer of Priceline, Norwalk, CT. As Android handset usage has grown, we evolved our strategy and today we have a strong user-base on the Android platform.

We saw particularly strong growth in Android last year, and to that end, it was important to us to redesign the Android app to deliver the authentic, Android experience that our growing Android customer base has come to expect, he said.

Android friendly
Most marketers do not differentiate that much between Apple and Android smartphone apps, but Priceline has realized the importance of creating personalized experiences for whatever device a consumer is using.

Similar to its other apps, consumers can use the Android app for search and booking services for hotels, rental cars and airline tickets. However, the app also has unique features that cater specifically to Android users.

First of all, the app has unique Android interface with specific design patterns, clean type, intuitive navigational commands and a quick browse-to-checkout path.

It also includes interactive maps for the Express Deals and Name Your Price features to show the neighborhoods with hotel deals more clearly. Additionally, users can search for a specific hotel.

The Android app also offers a three-step Name Your Own Price checkout to make the process to conversion even easier.

The app is available for free download in Google Play.

In 2013, Pricelines Android app experienced the highest year-over-year growth of all platforms, more than doubling in the year. The company therefore decided that the platform required special attention.

Pricelines Android users tend to book same-day hotel stays, and they also embrace social sign-in. Android users who sign in with Google have a 71 percent higher conversion rate than those who book as guests.

Looking at data like this can help Priceline better cater its app to its users. While having the same app for Apple and Android users might be OK, marketers should really look to providing customized experiences for the different devices.

At Mobile Marketers Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2014 conference, two Zappos executives spoke about the importance of creating unique experiences on Apple, Android and Web. After attacking Android with a unique strategy separate from iOS, the online retailer experienced a surge in Android conversions (see story).

Android navigation and usability is distinct from iOS, said Fabiola Carcamo, Android product director at Priceline. For example, most Android handsets have back buttons on the device which are very different than iOS back navigation buttons that are built into an app menu.

IOS elements like those feel clumsy and unfamiliar to Android users who can easily spot apps that feel and behave like iOS ports, he said. We want to give the Android audience a crisp, exciting experience that is pure and authentic to Android.

We’ve been growing our Android team, and most importantly, establishing Android product management to guide the Android business separately from iOS. So with a team of designers and developers specific to the Android platform, we operate in a hyper-focused environment on a daily basis. We also take advantage of usability coaching from Android usability experts themselves by working with Google’s developer advocates.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York

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