Independence From Smartphones

As an electronics laggard, I just bought my first smartphone a little over three months ago. The world has become so much more accessible since becoming a part of the iPhone family. I know the weather, find out how my friends are doing, go shopping, text, and more all before getting out of bed in the morning. However, over the Fourth of July holiday, I went “Up North” to Hale, Mich. for five days. While you are suppose to enjoy nature and get away from society for a few days when on vacation, I found myself constantly checking up with everything I left behind because Grandma and Grandpa Conrad decided to get WiFi. For the first time since getting my smartphone, I wished that I left it at home.

Photo Credit: Mike Licht Via: Flickr Creative Commons

Is my smartphone taking over my life? It has been reported that smartphone owners check their devices over 150 times during the average 16 hours people are awake during the day. This constant need to check on what everyone else is doing, posting and saying distracted me from enjoying the beautiful lake house I was staying in. Apparently, 84% of people worldwide say they cannot go a single day without their phones and sadly I have become part of this statistic.

My questions is, why couldn’t I put my phone down or turn it off? According to Judson Brewer of Yale’s Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic, people are addicted to their phones for the same reason many are addicted to gambling. Cellular Devices comply with the associative learning pathway of human brains, and this makes us feel good or bad depending on the situation. When gambling, people do not know when they are going to win and this makes winning even more fun when it happens. When using smartphones, we don’t know when we are going to get a notification or what it is going to say. This triggers excitement within us, causing addiction to our devices.

I love having a smartphone because it connects me with the rest of society. Entertainment and information combined make having a smartphone so convenient and enjoyable. However, the addiction we have with our smartphones need to be controlled. Next year, I plan on leaving my phone at home while I enjoy what the physical world has to offer.

Google Maps for iOS is already a success

In case you missed it (and I doubt you did, but anyway), according to a Google+ post from Jeff Huber, he SVP of Geo and Commerce at Google, the Google Maps app for iOS was downloaded more than 10 million times in the first 48 hours of its launch, making it a huge success already! In fact, it became the top free app in the App Store just hours after debuting. I’m not going to lie, I downloaded it as soon as I found out.

“We’re excited for the positive reception of Google Maps for iPhone around the world. Congratulations to the Maps Team on the recognition for the passion and hard work they poured into it, for this release and over the last 7+ years.”

The Google Maps app made its debut after several months of rumors about a forthcoming app after it was removed from iOS 6 and replaced by an Apple-made mapping program that was not popular with users. Personally, I had no issues with it aside from the lack of public transportation integration, but Google’s app seems just as polished as the Apple-integrated one. What do you think? Have you downloaded the new Google Maps on your iPhone already? I know everybody at this particular social media agency has.

iPhone 5: iOS 6 Changes Worth it?

On September 19th, Apple pushed its new iOS 6 software live. With iOS 6, came five big changes: Maps, Siri, Camera, Mail, and Passbook. Out of these changes, the changes with iOS Maps App is by far the one that has the most controversy. Google Maps, which was a pre-loaded feature, has been completely taken off the home screen of the iPhone. Once re-downloaded, the iOS Maps, now controlled by Apple and not Google, is missing points of interest feature, Google transit directions and street images. To say that’s not enough change, the Maps gives inaccurate and incorrect destinations, for instance saying that a farm in Dublin was in fact an airport, which can cause major miscommunication dilemmas for pilots.

Though iOS Maps seems to have the most controversy, the other changes have a more positive note to them. Siri can now tweet, facebook, and make reservations for you. The new Camera feature is by far the most fun to play around with. Now, users can take panoramic shots of different places they visit to the people they are with.

The Mail App now allows you to attach photos and videos straight through the app, which was not possible before. Lastly, a new pre-loaded feature on the iOS 6 software is Passbook, which allows users to be more organized when it comes to storing, boarding passes, tickets, store cards, and coupons. But the Passbook app does not automatically transfer tickets and coupons into its app, users have to download the ticket vendor’s app, the airline company’s app, or the store’s app before they can start storing their information in this app.

The biggest changes to iOS 6, to say the least, give users a mixed feeling about them. Only users can judge themselves, if they like these new features are beneficial to them. It will be interesting to see how these new features affect internet marketing’s fast-paced life.

Much Anticipated iPhone 5 Announced

As you probably already are aware, the iPhone 5 was announced yesterday. The device has been a long time coming, especially after the 4S release last October that many consumers thought was going to be the 5. Tim Cook kicked off the keynote with an update about Apple’s retail presence. Although Apple’s new Barcelona store looked amazing, I don’t know about you, but I was anxious to hear about the new iPhone. Eventually, Cook went on to describe the new device. The new iPhone will have a display larger than its predecessor. The display is a gorgeous 4-inch retina display with a 16:9 aspect ratio – perfect for watching movies! It is 18% thinner than the iPhone 4s and 20% lighter. iPhone 5 will work on 4G LTE networks, meaning blazing fast download times. Some other notable new features are an improved camera, faster processor, and a new dock connecter named “Lightning”.

The iPhone 5 will be available for pre-order on September 14, and it ships on September 21, the same day the device is available for purchase at retail outlets. It holds the same pricing scheme as the previous model, with the base model starting at $199 for 16 GB. I know I will be pre-ordering the device. Although I know I want one, and it is certainly one of the best smartphones currently on the market, I can’t help but have the same view as Wired’s Mat Honan. The iPhone 5 manages to be both amazing and boring at the same time. All of the updates are what were expected (or similar), and nothing revolutionary was announced. However, I will still be purchasing the device and am super excited about it, and so is one of my co-workers at the digital agency. Is the smartphone market becoming so saturated, that we are no longer thrilled by something that has become so embedded in our daily lives?

HOW TO: Watch the 2012 Summer Olympics Online

New this time around for the Olympics is online streaming–where anyone with a computer can log on and watch the Olympics right from their laptop or home computer! This may seem like a minor change, but in fact, it just adds to the increase in communication that the world has experienced since the last summer Olympics in 2008. The entire way the game’s highlight events and key moments have been shared is changed, and much faster at that! The combination of online streaming, twitter, facebook, and youtube has made the Olympics seem much closer to home than they actually are–halfway across the the world in London!

Now that the Olympics have all-around become a more digital and global experience, it seems only appropriate to put together a guide to streaming the Olympics, so that you too can be in the loop with the eventful (no pun intended) Olympic games!

Here are some guidelines to (legally) streaming the games live online or on your phone or tablet!

You need to have Cable!

Most online content in the US is only accessible if you have subscribed to cable or satellite. NBC streaming of the olympics is no exception. The good news? NBC has managed to work with almost all cable and satellite providers out there, so there should be no hitch in getting access!

If you don’t have cable, have no fear! You can always access the highlights on the NBC Olympics YouTube page.

If you’re in the US

In the US, NBC is the official broadcast partner of the Olympics. Therefore, NBC will air the Games on NBC and NBC-owned cable stations as well as stream more content online in real-time than they ever have before. But as usual, there’s a catch. You not only need to be a cable subscriber, but also you need to get MSNBC and CNBC. If you meet this criteria, then all you need to doo is head to NBCOlympics.com/LiveExtra and click on “Click here to get ready”. Then, follow the instructions, and you’ll be set to go!

If you can’t get to a computer, there’s always the option to watch the live streams from your iOS or Android device with the mobile NBC Live Extra app for iOS and Android. The great thing about this app is that you can use a four hour “guest pass” to the Games in case you don’t know the username or password for your cable provider.

If you’re in London

BBC is providing livestreams of the Games via the BBC Sport website and mobile apps. If you’re in the UK, you have access to every sport for up to 24 live HD streams!

BBC also has apps for iOS and Android to watch these livestreams. In addition to the livestreams, BBC will also feature results, news stories, and daily highlights for users to look over when in a hurry.

If you’re in another part of the world

Freecast.com has a streaming and TV guide for olympic coverage in over 150 countries! Also, the IOC has an official Olympic channel on YouTube that will be broadcasting the games live in territories in Asia and Africa that lack broadcast partners. This channel will also offer clips, replays, and highlights of the events.

Turns out that no matter where you are in the world, you too can be a part of this year’s “digital games”!

 

 

 

 

 

Google+ Project: The Future of Social Networking?

Search engine giant Google launched their very own social networking service on Tuesday. The Google+ Project attempts to take a bite out of, and possibly rip the head off of menacing social networking superstar Facebook. Parasitic social networking sites are rapidly invading Google’s territory, as Facebook and Twitter absorb the traffic once reserved for Google. Social networks cripple Google’s infrastructure by depriving important information from the systems used to enhance Web search and Google AdWords.

Google+ Project surpasses any other social networking attempt made by the company in the past. Standard social sharing is taken to the next level, converting the typical social networking mass communication model into a more personalized small group, real-life communication experience.Users can create separate communication groups between friends, family, acquaintances, ex-boyfriends, frenemies, roommates, running buddies, co-workers, etc., into “Circles.” Circles is a Google+ Project feature uses a drag and drop method and simplifies standard practices used on other social networks to dividing friends, foes and co-workers into individual sharing networks.

The iPhone and Android mobile applications for Google+ are very similar to the web version of Google+, making sharing and communicating easy and fluid. Users won’t have to use four different applications to share information or chat with friends in different ways. The magnitude of Google’s Web and mobile presence is enough to make smaller start-ups and mobile developers quiver in their boots. Add the element of social sharing into the mix and Google could potentially destroy its social networking competitors.

Fusing together content sharing, group video chat, video and photo sharing and a mobile app is an impressive start for Google’s social networking future. Google+ Project combines Internet social sharing habits into one centralized place where messages can be controlled and disseminated in real-life fashion. Google+ Project is still in its field trial period and more innovations and changes are expected. It will be interesting to see if Google’s search engine marketing skills will match their social media marketing abilities.

New York Times: Another Try by Google to Take On Facebook

The Google+ Project

Kidney Exchanged for Apple iPad 2

The phrase, “that’s going to cost me an arm and a leg,” typically means something is going to cost a large sum of money. For 17-year-old Zheng, a high school freshman in China, that expression took on a more literal meaning…only a Kidney.

Zheng really wanted an iPad 2, but didn’t have enough money so he did the unthinkable and sold his kidney. I’ll repeat that. He sold his his kidney. The majority of student’s would save up for this kind of purchase but Zheng couldn’t wait. After coming in contact with a kidney-selling agent on the internet he decided that risking his life for 20,000 yen ($3K USD) was a pretty great deal. Zheng had the operation, received his money and returned home with more than one new Apple gadget.

Photo: MyChinaViews.com

His mother became very suspicious and reported her son to authorities, ultimately exposing Zheng’s secret kidney transplant.The hospital Zheng claims to have had his surgery at is denying any connection to the 17-year-old and authorities haven’t been able to contact any one involved in the organ transplant fiasco.

It seems Zheng is getting the last laugh here as he enjoys his new toys. After reading this article I wondered how many illegal organ transplants go unreported? Who are the recipients of these organs? Are the iphone mobile applications worth it? How far would you go to get what you wanted? I just hope Zheng doesn’t find another organ-selling agent online and another part of his body to sell in a year when his Apple gadgets are out of date.

The Next Web: Chinese student reportedly sells his kidney to buy an iPad 2

Foursquare 3.0 is Here!

It was announced yesterday that Foursquare has finally released it’s 3.0 update. If your a Foursquare junkie like me than this is great news. The service, for those of you who don’t know, allows you to “check-in” at the places you visit throughout the day and show’s you where local deals might be. It’s also a great way to keep tabs on your friends (but not in a stalker way). It’s not only a deal finder, you can also check in to get badges, which are little rewards for visit certain places, or visiting a certain number of places, and duke it out for “mayor ships” of your favorite hot spots. It’s fun.

Anyway, the new update offers many revamps that make it a much more complete and useful app to have.

The first new feature, and perhaps the coolest is the “explore” tab that they’re adding. This will become the bulk of the mobile application as it offers the most content to use. Essentially was it is is a “Yelp” type app that takes where you’ve been and suggests places that you might like in your area. It also allows you to explore the area you’re in for recommended places that are similar with your interests, or just places recommended in general. This is cool because it would make traveling much easier, as well as open you up to places in your area that you might have never heard of. In addition to food it also shows you where there is nightlife, shopping and touristy stuff, so that you can truly explore wherever you are.

Another cool feature, which get’s back to what makes Foursquare an app to have, is that they have greatly expanded their “deals” options for companies. They have added things like Flash Deals (first 10 people after 5 get a free drink), Newbie Deals, Loyalty Deals and many more. This, hopefully, will encourage more companies to offer specials and therefore make Foursquare a great way to save some money as well.

I am psyched about these new features. It takes Foursquare from an almost strictly “fun” app to one that is very functional. So, if you don’t already have it on your phone, get it. It is available for pretty much every platform that exists.

Taking a Piece of the Apple Back

Apple announced on Tuesday its new guidelines to App Store for publishers. Applications will be working the same for users, it is the rules for publishers where the changes have been made. There are many apps available that charge subscriptions fees; either weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, semiannually, and annually; therefore these companies (who have created the apps) are consistently making money off of their content. Since creating the platforms (iPhone, iPad, and the iTouch) in which all the information is communicated on, Apple decided that it should be getting a piece of the funds being made by these companies, I mean after all these companies would have subscribers if is wasn’t for Apple…right? The new policy follows these guidelines, as long as users are purchasing the apps from the App Store, Apple will be taking the 30% cut of the purchases being made to the from subscription applications.

image provided by: zedomax.com

The publishers of the content driven apps are 100% free to make the subscription to their applications available on their own site, and this is where Apple cannot take a cut from the information.  However, according to Apples new app policy, unless a users sign up for the app on the publisher’s site, publishers cannot provide in-app links for customers sign up outside of the App Store. Therefore these companies would have to get users to go directly to their site to avoid losing some of their profits to Apple. Many of the people who currently run these apps are worried they won’t be able to survive, and are also unsure as what Apple will do in the future…who’s to say the won’t try taking a bigger cut from profits made by theses content driven subscription applications.  Has this

It is hard to figure out who do side with on this matter, to me it make sense that Apple would be taking a cut, because without having the technology created by them none of the companies would be able to be gaining profits. Although if you are thinking about it from the perspective of the app creators, who are building content for readers to have daily, weekly or monthly, publishers are the ones creating the content for readers to subscribe in the first place. Maybe you’ll think a little differently next time you are purchasing one of your apps for the App Store or directly from the publisher.

New Apple Rumors!

With the recent introduction of the Verizon iPhone weeks old, we are now able to move on to the next set of Apple announcements. Most assume that the next event will bring about the unveiling of the much anticipated iPhone 5, but there have been rumors about other products that might be announced, along rumors about different features that might be included on the iPhone 5. These are some of my favorites

iPhone Nano

According to Mashable, who has talked with someone that is close to Apple, there is a mini iPhone that “he has had his hands on” . This would indicate that not only is it possible, but it would seem to be a fully developed concept. The iPhone Nano is said to be 1/3rd the size of the iPhone 4 and would utilize the Apple MobileMe service for data storage. It’s also said that it would start at $200 w/o a contract, which is about half off the price of a new iPhone. I’m not sure how they would be able to pull of a quality phone that small, but I’m sure I’ll want one.

iPad 2

Another popular rumor floating around is that the second generation iPad will be released this summer. There have rumors that there will be a smaller 7″ version, but most of those have been shot down. The prevailing theories is that they will be the same size, possibly with a shape similar to the iPhone 4, and will have dual cameras and an SD slot. Supposedly there are blueprints floating around that show a new shape, cameras, and the SD slot. It’s also rumored that the new line of devices, iPhone and iPad, will be flash compatible, which would allow you to run the internet properly, and play Farmville, on your device. I hope these rumors are true, because the iPad is a few features away from being a great piece of technology.

The next rumors have to deal with the iPhone and it’s fight with the Android phones for technological domination. There are several rumors flying around about possible iPhone 5 upgrades that would better position it against the Android phones

8-12 MP Camera

Another rumor that Mashable reported on was that the next generation iPhone will boast an 8-12 Megapixel camera. With Android phones offering cameras in the 8 MP range it’s important for Apple to catch up, and pass them if possible. There are cameras in Europe with 12+ MP cameras, so the technology is out there, so it’s not a question of whether or not the technology exists, it’s just whether or not Apple will want it.

Larger Screen

Another area where the Android phones are superior to the iPhone is screen size. Many of the Android phones have 4″ screens, and consequently have been praised for their multimedia capabilities. There are rumors that the iPhone 5 will bump up to a 4″ screen to compete with the other phones. I think that would be great, and would make the iPhone a much more versatile phone that won’t be so difficult to use for surfing the web and playing games.

Physical Keyboard

This rumor is less likely than the other, but it’s worth being mentioned. With the advancements of the touch keyboards on the current phones, it isn’t likely to see this, but if they decide to keep their screen small, or even shrink it, it’s possible that this would be a good idea. We’ll see

This is what I hope for.

I know these might all be totally false, but it’s fun to speculate. Whatever Apple ends up doing this summer, we can be sure that it will be awesome.