The MAZ Blog

Updates and thoughts about technology, media, apps, and entrepreneurship - written by the MAZ team.

Starting at a Start-Up

I’m not someone who experiments starting at startups. A year ago, I was a college graduate fighting amidst the lot to get through somewhere after being delayed to join one of the leading MNC’s of India. So, I ended up at MAZ and now am one of those who crave to be at startups.

In retrospect, I now understand the importance and benefits of the extreme exposure that I have had with MAZ. Only very recently did I begin to witness the two prominent commonalities between both MAZ and I. While, MAZ can’t speak about my growth, I can speak about MAZ’s growth. Just a year back, which is a short stint of time, I have actually seen a nonliving thing grow, expand and flourish. I did not realize how raw things were when I joined and how strong and robust these have become in front of me.

Getting the opportunity to work closely with the billionaire publishers of the world was bewildering at first, but now it has just become another thing to be done in a day. I do not want to sound stereotypical by repeating the lines that “you learn a lot in a startup”, but at the same time I can’t tell you enough how true it is.

Today MAZ uses an amazing product by the name of “Stream”. It started as a concept to create a semi social forum where people connect through images that are web links. Now, it is a versatile and flexible product, highlighted by the fact that it can be used in almost any app in the form of an SDK. From our MAZ apps to Stream Web, we can showcase dynamic content through what we see, not what is in an address bar. For instance, 5 years back I would have shared, but today I can share this:

Surprisingly, Lebron’s number and team have stayed the same, but sharing has come a long way. The result from idea to product is astonishing. This brings me to the other quality that MAZ has: innovation.

I read somewhere that “Being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean being the CEO”. That is exactly what I’ve learned here. Ranging from freshers to experienced, everyone is expected and encouraged to innovate.

Interacting with masters of QA, iOS, Android and Web is a learning curve that not only reflects their perspectives but also helps me to understand how a product lives its life.In India, the lack of tech startups is the result of inadequate market. For instance, magazines still lie on shelves, but hopefully with time, MAZ will put them in the digital newsstands.

Prateik Mahendra does Quality Assurance in Noida, India. Follow him on Twitter @prateikm

Tags: Android, Assurance, Developer, Digital, Google, MAZ, Magazines, Publishing, QA, Quality, Startup, iOS

A Step Up for Philanthropy: Nonprofits Should Take a Page From For-Profit Publishing

Top magazines and other commercial content providers have discovered how to take a traditional publication and make it into something much more interactive and interesting to read on a tablet. Carnegie Corporation of New York, one of the country’s first philanthropic foundations, is also among the first nonprofits to try out this tactic, and it’s a perfect fit.

For its initial project the Corporation chose Carnegie Results—a quarterly report focusing on one of its funded organizations. This particular issue was ideal. The subject was the National Security Archive, an independent nonprofit that has been working for more open government for over 25 years. The Archive investigates, indexes, and publishes former secrets and, most significantly, has created an extraordinary archive of declassified U.S. documents and photographs available to everyone. The materials housed there must be seen to be believed… and that’s where the new app comes in.

Daniel Um, the Corporation’s designer, took the Results, a printed publication with a few four-color photos, and blew it up – adding surveillance photos from the Cuban missile crisis, once-secret documents on subjects from Fidel Castro to Saddam Hussein, a 1950s Air Force training film about a Soviet nuclear strike, and a report exposing the truth about Nevada’s Area 51. The MAZ app let readers tap a button to watch videos about the Cold War and the Iran-Contra Affair, or visit the website to view once censored photographs of fallen military heroes. It also let them share this powerful content with friends via social networking.

“There’s no reason why philanthropies shouldn’t try new things,” Um says. “The result is impressive, yet efficient because you don’t have to make a project twice. You can take a straight print publication and dress it up, but the two products come from the same root and remain true to each other.” You can see what he means by downloading the publication:

Carnegie Results Special Edition: THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” You can follow its work @CarnegieCorp.

Tags: App, Cargegie, Digital, MAZ, National, Publishing, Results, Security

Why Tap and Hold in Stream Web Makes for Better UX

Many people would agree that they use their mobile and desktop browsers in very different ways. For myself, I primarily use desktop browsing at work. I always have a number of tabs open for things like email, shared spreadsheets, calendars, invoices, etc. I mainly use mobile browsing for things I need on the fly like finding a restaurant, or finding out the name of that actor that was in that movie that kind of looks my waiter. Spoiler alert: They didn’t end up looking very much alike when I looked it up.

However, the one thing I happen to do regularly on both is check news sites and blogs. On my desktop I have a system I like to use which is probably similar to what many others do. I’ll load a site and open every article that looks mildly interesting in a new tab, sometimes opening twenty tabs (stupid clickbait) before starting to go through and read or skim each.

Prior to Stream Web, I never had an easy way to replicate this method of browsing on mobile. However, I now actually have multiple different ways to mimic the ease of desktop browsing on mobile and although I may be a bit biased, I really do think it is a game changer.

To start off, it is extremely easy on Stream Web to open new tabs, switch between them, and close them. Browsing through any site, I simply hold down on a link and tap to open a new tab. Unlike Safari, Stream Web doesn’t switch my screen view to that tab right away which allows me to open as many tabs as I want. Once I’ve opened all my tabs I simply swipe the bottom of the screen to seamlessly switch between them and then I can swipe down from the top of the screen to close a tab. For the first time since getting a smartphone, I have the ability to browse on mobile exactly how I browse on my desktop.

Web overlays on Stream Web offer a different, but equally simple alternative. In this method I hold down on any link and instead of tapping to open a new tab, I tap the overlay button. This brings up a half page overlay on top of the original page allowing me to browse both at once. I can either read the article there, open it in a new tab for later, or swipe down on the overlay to go back to the original page and open the next article. This is useful if you’re indecisive and want to first skim that third article about Kimye before you commit giving it its own dedicated tab.

The bonus tool offered by Stream Web is the Pocket integration. If you don’t know Pocket, it’s an app that allows you to save web articles to read offline later. I’ll use this often if I want to load up on content before going somewhere with no cell service or wifi. Simply holding a link and tapping the Pocket icon adds the article to my Pocket account. I can save dozens of articles in a matter of minutes and then have them ready for that long plane ride that I imagine I’m taking to Hawaii every Sunday night.

The versatility of the tools offered in Stream Web have immensely improved mobile browsing for me. There is a small learning curve to get used to and use the gestures like a pro, but once you get it down you’ll never go back to any other mobile browser. MAZ built this browser to solve everything that was wrong with mobile browsers, and I think it has done that and more. If you haven’t checked it out already, you can download it today.

Justin Canetti is the VP of Operations in New York. You can follow him @JCanetti

Tags: App, Browser, Mobile, Overlays, Pocket, Stream, Tabs, Web

Innovation Makes for Happy Clients and Happy Interns

It is remarkable how much MAZ has changed in the past year. I have interned at MAZ for the past two summers, witnessing both large and small scale improvements to our online publishing platform. With a focus on staying ahead of the curve, MAZ constantly rolls out new tools for our clients that increase brand loyalty and awareness. I have seen the company make intelligent updates to its software, expand to HTML5 publishing tools and introduce Stream SDK. The forward-thinking culture at MAZ has made my internship all the more interesting. The MAZ team is always open to new ideas, working to improve its products.

While watching WWDC 2014 at the office, I realized that seemingly minor updates to operating systems can have a major impact on MAZ and the rest of the tech world. Everyone in the office anxiously awaited the presentation by Tim Cook. Kristé, our Account Manager, joked that the anticipation she felt was like Christmas. Being in the technology space means that we are somewhat subject to the whims of big players like Apple and Google, but we have the power to enrich user experience on these devices. Apps constitute over 80% of the time people spend on their mobile devices, and we at MAZ provide tools to make magazine apps more engaging and shareable. Watching WWDC 2014 highighted for me how agile technology start-ups need to be, in preparation of the rollout of new operating systems. At the same time, features like extensibility are opening up opportunities for technology start-ups. After the Apple presentation, the MAZ team sent around articles and ideas about how to strategize for the future.

As MAZ products evolve, the NYC team has a consistent culture of creativity, passion, and open-mindedness. From the beginning, MAZ has valued beautiful design in our graphics. Visual saving and sharing has become an integral part of our business. Envisioning Stream SDK started with how to optimize mobile magazine publishing and turned into a larger discussion of changing how people share across all of their apps and on their web browsers. MAZ wanted to make their digital publishing platform into a dynamic hub for consumers to share and save content with each other. The MAZ team has a talent from growing an idea into a great product, and also happens to be a fun and interesting group to work with! Meet the team at our July SDK Meetup!

Until next summer…

Amy Osserman is a student at Colgate University. Follow her on Twitter @AOsserman

Tags: 2014, Apps, Digital, Extensibility, Innovation, MAZ, Magazines, Publishing, SDK, Startup, Stream, WWDC, iOS

Taking Digital Publishing to the Next Level

Digital magazines look stunning on iPad and other tablets. They have everything that is in print editions and more: extra photographs, audio and video. But, is there more we can do with a digital magazine?

Here at MAZ, we have a simple mission: allow magazines to create and distribute amazing digital content on any device. Apart from the usual digital experience, we believe we’ve made digital publications more interactive, offering a unique user experience with unprecedented sharing capabilities and an unrivaled gesture-based experience.

User Experience

Traditionally, print readers have always been able to cut out articles and pictures to save, scrapbook or send to friends. We wanted to make sure that comfort of print existed for digital readers. With Stream, users can take the habit of cutting out articles and combine it with the modern social networking sharing of today.

With Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram and other social networks as main modes of communication, it’s important to us as digital publishers to incorporate these social interactions into the app experience. Using Stream to “cut out” anything, and share and save immediately is what we see as the evolution of a print user experience into digital.

How does that help the Magazine?

The social media sharing feature in our app allows end users to easily spread the word about the content available in the magazine to their social networking profiles. This in turn boosts publication’s marketing efforts to help reach a wider audience and achieve goals as:

-Brand awareness

-Creating a brand identity

-Positive brand association

-Communication and interaction with key audiences

The ability to share and save content through major social networking platforms from magazines is just one feature that sets MAZ apart from the rest. Contact us for more information.

Ahmed Faraaz does Customer Interaction in Noida, India. Follow him on Twitter @AHDFRZ

Tags: Android, Digital, Google, MAZ, Magazines, Publishing, Startup, iOS

Readers Are Multi-Platform, Are You?

Looking at our data from May 2013 to May 2014, we wanted to paint a picture of just how “multi-platform” our end users are! See below for some key data points:

-Amazon Play apps have seen 129% more content downloads (free or paid issues), and 2.2 times more app launches.

-Google Play has seen 70% more content downloads and 2.8 times as many app launches.

-The device breakdown, calculated on average sessions per app, resulted in: 37% readers use iPad, 29% use iPhone, and 24% use Samsung Galaxy. The remaining percentage use Nexus and Kindle Kire.

-For iOS only, 56% of readers use tablet and 44% use mobile when engaging with our digital publishing apps.

-From May 2013-May 2014, iOS apps averaged 4 times as many content downloads than Google Play apps, and 12 times as many content downloads than Amazon apps.

If you’re interested, contact us for more information!

Tags: Android, Business, Developer, Digital, Google, MAZ, Magazines, Multi, Platform, Publishing, iOS

Quality Is Not an Act, It’s a Habit

MAZ is a place inspired by the real world, where innovations are honored and its significance is made real by using cutting edge technologies.

Prior to MAZ, I was working with other firms performing QA on hybrid mobile apps for various other domains mostly in banking, CRM and entertainment. It has been more than a year with MAZ and I must admit that working as a QA at MAZ gives exposure into a new world of testing. Over this period of time, things have changed drastically. When I joined the company, we served a single product: digital publishing apps for iOS. Now, in just a year and half, we have several other products: Android publishing apps, HTML5 web reader, Stream Web Browser and Stream SDK. With upcoming fresh products and volatile requirements there lies an ever-challenging task. Working for QA is nothing but ensuring that MAZ’s support for multiple products on several platforms for various OS versions is absolutely flawless and always up-to –date with latest trends & devices. Testing for the products is done keeping the end user’s ease of product accessibility in mind. This in-turn helps the team to deliver enhanced experience post final product roll out.

Testing each product has separate challenges adjoined within. Working as QA at MAZ, we have to to develop the ability to deal with imperfect situations, honing the ability to think fast. There is immense pressure and agony at some points, where the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t visible. But we know there is light, so as long as we keep walking, we are sure to reach it through hard work and mental toughness. Consider Stream Web, a major threat was to ensure accessibility of various types of websites along with several performance parameters. Stream SDK, a spellbound product by MAZ has to be compatible with not one but all apps, which would install the SDK. Publishing apps by MAZ keeps reconstructing its view to provide users a fresh feel always. The challenge for QA here is to assure the entire workflow with new designs on both the platform and all the devices is impeccable.

MAZ as a company meets the customers’ requirement, precisely keeping the quality of product as a prior deliverable; meeting the rigid timelines. The best part lies in the fact that we are constantly treated to new viewpoints and unique anecdotal experiences here – which in return helps to feed curiosity, construct an evolving perspective and expand our view of the mobile world in. It’s fun working at MAZ with a group of radiant developers, where we get a chance to explore the new technologies keeping creativity at its best. The will to thrive while at MAZ, comes from the will to rise to the challenge.

Swati Hajela does Quality Assurance in Noida, India. Follow her on Twitter @swatihajela05

Tags: Android, Assurance, Developer, Digital, Google, MAZ, Magazines, Publishing, QA, Quality, Startup, iOS

Introducing Stream SDK

We are thrilled to announce Stream SDK – a fast, simple, and free way for any app to layer in our diverse sharing options and create their own, dedicated Streams.

Re-Thinking Sharing & Saving Content

Stream Web came about because existing web browsers didn’t take advantage of the mobile platform. They felt like tiny desktop browsers.

Of course the most unique thing about Stream Web is the way content can be shared and saved from the mobile web using Stream. It should be simple to share or save any content at any time.

Stream replaces URLs with visual links, essentially image clips with links attached. Users can then see a feed of all their clips which serve as visual bookmarks. The response to Stream Web has been incredibly positive so far, so we knew we were on to something good.

Why an SDK?

A lightbulb went off at some point last year as we were building Stream Web: sharing on mobile in general is terrible, not just in the web browser.

Stream could fix this problem across all apps, not just our own.

Stream SDK makes sharing possible from any app at any time. And now any app can host its own branded community Stream, where users can see what one another are sharing in real time.

In addition to web links, Stream SDK also supports deep links, so those visual bookmarks can even go to specific places inside a native app.

And the best part? Installation takes just 15 minutes. We know every SDK says that, but it’s really true!

Who’s Using it Now?

We launched with a number of partners. Almost a thousand apps are already using Stream SDK. Now we are excited to open up it up to the public so that all developers can take advantage of these powerful tools.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the new Stream SDK site and try it out yourself!

Oh and did we mention, it’s free!

Tags: Android, Content, Free, MAZ, SDK, Sharing, Social, Stream, Web, iOS