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.

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?

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.

The iPad 2 is out… and I think I want one.

So I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, it’s been surprisingly quite for an Apple event, but the iPad2 was released today. I was hearing mixed “pre-release” reviews, which, in hindsight, were stupid to even read, since Apple is always able to keep at least some of their new under wraps, and I was in the state of mind that this new iPad was just a basic software update and some new cameras. I guess that’s all it was really, but it is much cooler than they lead me to believe. Anyway, here are all the new features that make this iPad something I’d be interested in paying $500 for.

1. Smaller and Lighter

This is pretty self explanatory. They cut the thickness of the iPad by 30%, and made it a little bit lighter. Not a big deal. What they did do that makes it better is that changed the shape. It no longer has that uncomfortable square edge that the first iPad had. It’s not shaped more like the iPod Touch.

2. Hardware update

They did update all of the “guts” to make it 9x faster and capable of better graphics and higher resolutions. They say it’s supposed to make movies, and games much more enjoyable to play/watch.

3. Dual Facing cameras with Facetime

So this was the main thing people were complaining about with the first iPad, and it was also the thing everyone knew was going to be fixed for this round. They installed two cameras, one on the front and one on the back, which shoots HD video, and paired them with FaceTime, their new video chat program. It looks to be pretty cool, and fairly fluid. Your are also able to use iMovie with this iPad, which is cool. This definitely, in my opinion, takes the iPad from giant iPhone that doesn’t make calls to a small Macbook.

4. Video Mirroring

This is a cool new feature that allows you to plug your iPad into your TV and use it on the larger screen. This is great for watching movies, or TV shows, or playing games from your iPad on your TV, and you can do it all in full 1080p HD.

4. New Smart Covers

This might be my favorite thing about the new iPad. What this is is a cover that magnetically attaches to your iPad to keep the screen safe without adding considerable size and weight to it. It seems kind of ridiculous that this is my favorite, but it is the little extra thing that solves so many of our problems. First, it is magnetic, so it can be removed and attached with little to no effort. Second, it’s lined with microfiber cloth, so it keeps your screen scratch free, and cleans it at the same time. Third, it is segmented so it can fold up and be used as an iPad stand for watching movies or typing. Finally, in a truly Apple touch, it comes in 10 colors! See, I told you it was awesome. This one little thing solves so many problems.

Oh, did I mention that they added all of this stuff without lowering it’s battery life? It still gets 10 hours per charge. Oh and you can get it in white.

I never wanted an iPad before; it was expensive, and didn’t do anything that my iPhone or Macbook Pro couldn’t do better. Now it does things as good, or better than the other two but without the size of the Macbook, and with a much larger screen than my little iPhone. Now I just have to convince my fiancé to let me get one…

Now we wait for the iPhone 5.

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.

Depositing checks…there’s an app for that…

During Super Bowl 45, I saw a Chase Bank commercial that made me just about freak out. Now, Chase Bank has a mobile application for depositing checks! While I immediately Google searched this topic for more information, I quickly found out that mashable.com published an article about this topic in early July. While the article was published quite a long time ago, I had never heard of this application prior to watching the commercial during the Super Bowl.

I’m shocked that this is even possible. I used to be a bank teller and this article has my mind racing with questions about said Chase application. How do banks uncover the fraudulent checks that are sent in by the iPhone app? Snapping a picture of the front and back of a check on a phone couldn’t possibly allow someone to detect the necessary red flags that one could with the naked eye. What do you do with the check after you take a picture of it and send it on its way; throw it out? Although it would most likely be  impossible for someone else to find the check and try to cash it with ease, it would still leave me with a bit of uncertainty.

All bank questions aside, what is the world coming to? We can now deposit checks without leaving home? What if banks no longer existed because you could do all your banking via the Internet, ATMs and mobile applications. When I was a bank teller, the only kind of human interaction most older people ever experienced was their weekly trip to the bank. Many would get dressed up just to go to the bank every week, and yes, there were plenty of older people that actually “needed” to go to the bank every week.

I can only imagine what kind of things our phones can do for us in the future. Soon there’s going to be an app for just about everything.

Good News: Starbucks is Now Making it Easier For Us to Buy Their Coffee.

Are you one of those people that can’t live without getting their favorite drink every morning from Starbucks?

Do you also dislike waiting in line as people fumble with their money, or talk rudely on their cellphones and hold everyone up? Well a new technology might have an answer to both of those problems. Starbucks announced yesterday that soon you will be able to pay for your favorite coffee drinks using your mobile phones. Yup, your heard me right. No more cash or change or anything like that. Soon you will be able to pay for your drink with a quick scan of your phone at all nationwide Starbucks locations.

Starbucks released their Starbucks Card Mobile app a while back and, until now, it hasn’t been good for much other than checking balances on your gift cards. Well now they’ve made it so you can use the app as legal tender at their stores.


Here’s how it works. You get a gift card for Christmas, or you buy a refillable card yourself, and you input it into the card onto your smart phone. From there, any time you want to pay you just push a button and it generates a QR code which you can scan using their readers, and voila, you’re on your way. In addition, you can add to your card anytime using PayPal or a credit card. It’s truly genius.
My hope is that, similar to how everything social I do can be done on my phone, I hope that one day I will no longer need to carry a wallet, and never have to worry about money again. Wouldn’t that be nice? Every great adventure must first start with one small step, and this is that step.

Who knew Accessories could be so much Fun!

I think we are all used to having accessories for our phones such as cases, car charger, hands free sets etc. but what if there was a way to have fun with all of these accessories. Well it was only a matter of time for someone to create accessories that would go along with the thousands of iPhone applications available on your iPhone and iPod touch. Hopefully for those serious gamers out there this will help you better interact with your iPhone and have a better gaming experience.

The Psyclone Thumbies seemed the most interesting to me they are for people who feel that using the touch screen isn’t quite amping up their gaming experience. The Psyclone Thumbies suction onto the screen of your iPhone where the virtual button are located. This allows gamers an experience related more towards their hand held sets at home.  (Cost $19.99)

image provided by: milo.com

Next is the Mophie Pulse which is similar to when Play Station and Nintendo came out with hand controllers that vibrated during certain actions while playing games, that is what Mophie offers fort he portable gamer. It also boots the audio of the game and makes you the gamer more interactive in the game.  (Cost TBD estimated at $100)

image provided by: gearlog.com

To finish is the iSound GameWheel which can be used for any of the race car apps such as Need for Speed. It is a real wheel which you place your iPhone in the middle of and use it to hit those hard turns while playing your favorite facing apps for iTunes.  (Cost $19.99)

image provided by: daydeal.com

These are all fun interactive accessories to add to you iPhone and use your iTunes apps with it just depends on what your favorite apps are to use and you can get your mobile gaming on.