My First iPhone

Well folks, I did it.  I am now the proud owner of one 64GB, rose gold, iPhone SE.  In the course of less than 48 hours, I have taken 36 photos, installed 33 apps, placed both Skype and WeChat video calls with my front facing camera, and downloaded several important pdf documents to my file manager.  I have talked to Siri (who I have decided to call Sherry, and she has agreed), set up numerous online and easy-pay accounts both linked to my American and Chinese bank accounts, and even set the finger print security setting.  This is awesome.

I have never felt so productive in my life!  Living in China I don’t have a car so take the bus to work.  Monday I was running late for work because I got stuck on a phone call to my friend in America who was asking me to send him a document.  On my way to work I created a monthly budget in Numbers, finalized and emailed it to my contact in America, then sent screen shots of said budget via WeChat photo messaging to another friend all while sitting on the bus stuck in traffic, before arriving at work at 8 am Monday morning.

Because I was running late to work, I ran out the door forgetting my wallet.  No wallet, no lunch, right?  Wrong.  Since I had set up my Alipay account in my phone all I had to do was scan a QR code at the coffee shop at lunchtime, and ta-da, done.  And after I paid for my coffee, a text message from my online banking account sent a text message directly to my phone telling me of the deduction, and my remaining checking account balance.

I am officially hooked.  Now if I can just keep from losing the thing, or breaking it…

 

 

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Privacy v. Security face-off on Capital Hill

Well for those of you not living under a rock during the past few months I’m sure you are familiar with the epic battle between the FBI and Apple.  The issue: data encryption.  Now I am not going to pretend to know anything about the nitty-gritty gty_apple_iphones_mem_160329_12x5_1600details behind an issue that the best and brightest can’t seem to agree on but what I do know is this, as a consumer, I want both privacy and security, equally and it would seem that that’s not always possible.

So that’s what the Energy and Commerce committee is trying to figure out.  How do we balance it all, in a way that is moral and ethical.

A nationwide study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2012 showed that over half of smartphone users backed up contents on their phone and have cleared their browsing or search history, a third have turned off location tracking and 15% even felt like someone had accessed their phone in a way that felt like a violation of privacy.

Since 2012 smartphone usage has increased by nearly 70% according to Statista.com projections so I am confident that the ongoing question of privacy v. security will not be answered anytime soon.

So what do you think?  Leave your comments below and let me know.

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Lords v. Wizards: When conflicting technologies collide

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JiaJia, the humanoid robot rolled out this week (15 April, 2016) in HeFei, China in preparation for the 2016 International Technology Fair in Shanghai later in April according to Xinhua News.

The robot refers to her designers as “My Lord”, and asks you not to take pictures too closely that might make her face look fat says Dailymail.  The technology and design behind a super life-like robot are absolutely incredible, but I am reminded of scenes from so many Hollywood films, where the robots suddenly go rouge, or malfunction and their head starts spinning in circles, and whatnot that I wonder seriously if household robots could ever become commonplace, or does having something that realistic just freak most people out?

Compare that with enchanted objects that are useful, helpful and serve a specific function.  Rather than one life-like robot, a family could have hundreds or thousands of small, everyday objects that are just a little bit smarter.  As British Science Fiction writer Arthur Clark said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Whether its a “jacket that gives you a little hug when someone likes your Facebook post; a paintbrush that samples any color or pattern you tap the brush on and turns it into digital paint; tables that listen, furniture that melts into the floor or into the wall when it’s not needed; lights that understand your activity and adjust their intensity and focus appropriately; watches that help students meet other people like them and prompt face-to-face conversation; E Ink Post-it notes that dynamically update to show place-based messages; a key fob that displays the traffic situation on your commute ahead.”― David Rose, Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire and the Internet of Things

Take a look at some of these super-cool enchanted objects and you tell me, would you rather be Lord over a servant-robot, or a Wizard wielding powers enabled by enchanted everyday objects?  Leave your comments below.

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Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

great-scott-quote-1I’m a huge “Back to the Future” fan, so I am sure that if I had told Doc Brown and Marty about the future of the Internet of Things (IoT’s) in 1985 they would have believed it.

Well, we don’t need a science fiction, time-traveling doctor today to have a coffee pot that automatically makes coffee on time, or turns off the T.V. automatically, we just hit the sleep setting on the remote.

The Internet of Things or IoT is not something that I was at all familiar with before this semester and my Emerging Media class, but I’ll tell you what folks, it’s pretty cool.

A New York Times article called “Putting Magic in the Mundane” talks about some of these enchanted objects, so called because they are “embedded with special powers” such as an umbrella equip with LED’s to tell the homeowner when it is going to rain, and a doorbell with GPS technology to chime with a different ring-tone when each family member gets close to home.

David Rose, author of “Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire and the Internet of Things,” calls these devices “mini genies” or ” ordinary items that can do extraordinary things” in an interview with NYTimes reporter Penelope Green.

In his book Rose is quoted as saying “If the definition of God is to explain things we don’t understand, then God gets smaller and smaller,” when referencing how technology is continuing to expand as our knowledge of the world grows, to which I would reply from King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun”.

I wonder if Marty McFly and his time-traveling DeLorean would agree.

 

Be Sirious

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The date was October 4, 2011, the place Cupertino, CA when the Apple press release  first announced the iPhone 4S, complete with an “an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking”. It’s been four and a half years and Siri isn’t going anywhere.

According to an online survey by the University College London  65% of surveyed iPhone 4S users in 79 countries reported using Siri  at least a few times a month.  Of those who used the voice interface system, 70% of males and 61% of females appreciated the ease of use, and 59% felt the program was fun (32%) and easy (27%).  It is interesting to note, however, that 43% felt either embarrassed or uncomfortable using Siri in public.

Compare that with a similar survey of 1,400 participants conducted by Google, and we find that teens are more likely to use voice search than adults.  The NorthStar Research survey found that over three-quarters of participants though voice searches were safer, and the future of search functionality.  56% of adults reported that using voice searches made them feel more “tech savvy”.

Non-users of Siri reported that they were put off by errors (53%), language issues (36%), and poor answers (49%).  As a non-voice-search user, I can vouch for this as well.  This morning researching how to get Siri on my iPad.  Turns out that the iPad2 that I currently own is incompatible with the newer software, and I would have to jail-break my device to use it.

Maybe at some point I will step into the new century and get into voice search but for now all I can say is Get Sirious.

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Your Social Media Presence: Consistency is Key

Well it’s here folks, the 2016 newly updated Social Media Manager Daily Checklist for your business.  According to Daryl Villacorta of Social Sprout shared in a recent article for Social Times a daily, monthly, quarterly and annual checklist for Social Media Managers to help your integrated marketing presence through utilizing social media.  The results surprised me:

According to the article in Adweek, recommended DAILY postings should include:

  • Post six to nine times to Twitter
  • Post one to two times to Facebook
  • Post one to two times to Google+
  • Post one to three times to Instagram
  • Post one to two times to LinkedIn

 

I read this and I’m like gosh,  with such an exacting standard, how can small businesses ever hope to compete with larger conglomerates with a fat social media budget?

Now, you all may not know this about me, but I’ve never been an avid Twitter user.  I really tried to like it, and posted content links from my blog nearly every week to the social media giant.  I followed businesses and graduate schools that I was interested in and gave shout-outs to some of my favorite brands, but all of my tweets disappeared like smoke into the wide expanse of the internet, never to be seen or heard from again.

Well, that brings me to my next point, which  Villacorta suggests on the list for developing a strong Social Media presence.

  1. Respond to inbound social media messages.  Whether it’s a complaint on your Facebook page or negative hashtags on Twitter, or an underdone hamburger photo on Instagram, respond to every incoming message.   I think this is so important, since social media is now more than ever a free flowing conversation with consumers, and customer loyalty is built or broken depending on how that conversation goes.

 

Some of the other suggestions include:

  1. Create unique social imagery to share.  In other words, tell your story and tell it well.  I submit that content beats out quantity every time, and having something relevant to say and presenting yourself with photos, video and blog articles will keep your customers interested in your pages and coming back for more.  That being said, you do have to keep the conversation going with continued contact.
  2. Build solid content. Again, quality content matters.
  3. Check out your competitors.  Knowing where you stand in reference to the competition gives your business a leg-up.  If your competitor is posting beautiful images of products and advertising new products and services, well, knowledge is power.
  4. Think about your brand. I know this one sounds obvious, but creating a unique voice for your brand is important.  Engaging with customers starts by having something relevant to say but continues by saying it in an engaging way, that humanizes your brand and helps foster a relationship with your brand advocates.
  5. Manage your personal profiles.  But why?  This doesn’t necessarily mean mixing your personal and professional lives so much as giving a human face to the brand.  A funny picture of you trying to juggle at the office summer cookout is a great way for your customers to feel more engaged with the brand.  Like hey, there really is a human there, as apposed to that Wizard of Oz moment “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.

Well there you have it folks.  That’s it for this week and although you won’t be seeing my 6-9 daily Twitter posts this week, I hope you will stop back in next time, and post you comments below.

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Mobile Web v. Apps, why still the debate?

apple-1034300_1920.jpgIf you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years you have probably already heard a lot of discussion about the future of mobile marketing.  Specifically, should your business focus it’s attention on creating an App or just focus on a mobile ready website?

In April 2014 –  Forbes declared “The mobile browser is dead, long live the App”.  That was two years ago, and the debate my friends is still going strong.  Perhaps when it comes right down to it, we want it all.

Quixey recently posted the results of their survey, dated December 2015 conducted among over 2,000 adults (18+ years old), concerning mobile usage preferences.  Take a look at the numbers:

  • 32% said they like having access to all content in a single place
  • 26% of respondents dislike using mobile apps because they chew up device storage
  • 23% said Apps tend to be slow and have inconsistent performance
  • Only 12% of respondents said that they would still prefer to download an app, even if they could get all the features and functionality of an app without having to download it.

With so many Apps vying for our device storage, and many businesses having one or multiple Apps, users must by necessity become more choosy about the Apps on their devices.  So for those un-lucky ones who are not on the “short-list”, a user-friendly mobile web-ready platform for mobile users is imperative.

Contributing editor Greg Sterling, for Search Engine Land  agrees, suggesting that the debate is not an either/or proposition, but a matter of utilizing both App’s and mobile ready web.  He says “the browser is for more casual audiences and apps are for more frequent and loyal customers.”  Sterling goes on to explain that you may shop at 10 retail stores, but probably don’t want all of them as Apps taking up space on your device.

In conclusion, there is no debate over which medium to chose, mobile web or an App, because for your business to flourish, it is not an either/or proposal.  Casual viewers will prefer to check out the mobile site, and your more loyal customers may want to download an easy-to-use App.  Remember though,  even the most brilliantly designed App is no substitute for a poorly functioning mobile web experience.  And as far as which one is more important, well, that depends on whether you are the chicken or the egg I guess.

 

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When Technology Fails

technology-792181_1920I hate technology.  It’s not that I can’t keep up with the ever changing landscape of software and App’s or the expense of constantly upgrading my electronic devices, it’s the dependence that we place on our technology.   I hate technology when it fails.

This week my friends and I wanted to go see the newest Disney movie, Zootopia.  So like all good millennials, one of my more tech savvy friends got on his smart phone and in about three minutes had conveniently purchased the tickets with his Meituan App and mobile Alipay account (read Groupon and Paypal for those of you in the U.S.).  We had movie tickets at half the cost of in the box office.

In theory all we would have to do is plug in the e-ticket code at the automatic ticket dispenser located at the front of the theatre.  Well, as it so happens, his phone died between dinner at the restaurant and the time we entered the theatre lobby, and as with all good companies, no ticket means no movie.

So my question then is when does technology stop making our lives easier and start becoming more of a nuisance?  Leave your comments below and let me know your thoughts.  And as for the movie, we did eventually get in, about ten minutes late, thanks to the very kind ticket collector who lent us his phone. Come to find out the movie was completely in Chinese although the Meituan.com ticket purchase read that it would be in English.  I guess you get what you pay for.

I chat, you chat, Wechat.

For those of you who are keen on Whatsapp, the Facebook owned company with one billion users as of 2015, I would like to introduce my all-time favorite social media app, namely – Wechat.  For those of you who aren’t current Wechat users, well, you should be.

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Wechat is a Chinese owned company by Tencent corporation, launched in 2011, with all the functionality of Whatsapp, plus a whole lot more, for free.  In addition to functionality for text and voice messages, video and voice calls, and real-time Vine-like “Sight” messages, the app also accommodates instant payments to/from vendors by simply scanning a QR code at the register.

According to an MSN news article, posted this morning, Wechat could end up beating Whatsapp in “it’s own backyard”.  With your own personal Wechat virtual wallet, you can transfer funds directly from a bank account to your cell phone, enabling you to top off your mobile device, pay your water or electric bill, buy movie tickets in advance, or even order a taxi or train tickets.  And with the ability to send funds to other users, it just might replace that I-owe-you at the lunch counter when you are splitting the bill.

The only downside to all this, is that most of the functionality is specifically geared towards mainland China, but that could change in the future as international appeal grows.

A recent article from Xin Hua Net suggests that Wechat may be going global.  Wechat originally hit the international market in 2011 with an English interface.  According to CNTV the app is set to accommodate users in 100 countries, and has become a top 20 download on the Apple and Google Playstore in southeast Asia.

Wechat boasted 650 million users during the 3th quarter of 2015, up 28% over last year, with a whole lot of momentum for future growth, and is this week’s Fresh in Five winner.  Check it out, and check back in next week for our next Fresh in Five post.

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