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February 14th, 2013

MobileGeneral_Feb13_BHow many times have you been in a meeting only to have a participant's phone ring or vibrate? This is a common occurrence and to many, this is the type of interruption that drives them nuts. While smartphones have changed our lives, mostly for the better, there are still times when we don't seem to follow common 'mobile etiquette', leading to others perceiving us as rude.

Here's six cell phone etiquette tips you should practice to ensure you show respect to your peers, and people around you while on your phone.

  1. Watch what you snap - Almost every phone has a camera these days, and we can't help but take pictures of nearly everything. While it is convenient to take pictures with your phone, there are times when it's not a good idea, such as in a meeting, for example. In general, if you are supposed to be paying attention to something, don't take pictures.
  2. Indoor voices - It's not uncommon to hear someone practically yelling into their phone on a busy street. This is often because they think that they can't be heard by the person on the other end. The vast majority of modern phones have powerful enough microphones and noise cancelling technology to enable users to talk with an indoor voice, even while out on the busy street. If the person you're talking to can't hear you, try cupping your other hand over your mouth and directing the sound towards the phone.
  3. Darn you autocorrect! - Most phones use touchscreen keyboards as their input for text. This can be quite inaccurate, so OS developers created autocorrect, which usually picks the wrong word, leading to some potentially embarrassing situations. When typing on your phone, be sure to always read over what you have written before you hit send.
  4. Resist the beep - One of the more annoying things about smartphones is that every time a notification sounds people rush to check it. This can be seen as rude, especially if when you are talking with a customer your phone goes off and you cut off from them to check it. It's a surefire way to lose the sale! When you're in meetings, or talking with customers/employees, ignore your phone until you are free to answer/check. If you are expecting an important call, excuse yourself before turning your attention to your phone..
  5. Pick the right notifications - Your phone has numerous notification levels. You can set the phone to vibrate, ring, or for lights to flash, etc. If you are in a meeting, it's best to set your phone on silent, as even vibrate is enough to distract these days. Really, the only time your phone should be on ring is when you have it in your pocket, or are in a loud location and unlikely to hear it.
  6. Turn it off every now and then - smartphones bring the ability to be always connected, which can be both good and bad. Sometimes being constantly connected leads to higher stress, and increased work hours at the expense of your personal life. You shouldn't be too afraid of spending a bit of time away from your phone every now and then. Just be sure to let people know that you won't be answering calls or texts.
Polite use of your smartphone will go a long way toward ensuring you are seen as a person that others want to do business with. What are your etiquette rules in regards to phone use? Let us know.

If you would like to learn more about how to leverage smartphones in your business, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility
February 14th, 2013

AndroidPhone_Feb13_BCell phones are definitely one of the most important inventions of modern times. They have more or less replaced landlines for many, and are an indispensable part of business. While the two main features of the phone - calling and texting - are great, with many systems like Android offering basic call and text management, many users would like more.

If you are looking for an app to better manage your calls and texts, check out Sanity.

Sanity has a number of excellent features Android users, and people who get a lot of calls, will find useful. Some of these include:

  • Record a call - If you are constantly using your phone for business, or talking with clients and would like a way to remember what was said, this app allows you to record phone calls. They will be stored as a format that can be read by computers and phones alike. Of course, you will want to let the caller know that the conversation is being recorded.
  • Caller or SMS announcement - Sometimes you are in a place where you can't look at your screen to see who is calling before answering. This app has a feature that will speak the name of the caller, so you know who it is on the other end. This feature also works for text messages, and will say the name of the text sender.
  • The ability to block calls and SMS - If you keep getting telemarketers calling you, or spam texts, you can create a blocked call and SMS list which the app will not allow through.
  • Urgent call list - There are likely one or two people that you always answer the phone for, and if your phone is on silent, you could miss their call. With Sanity you can create an urgent call list that will ignore current phone settings and allow the phone to ring (only for people on the urgent call list).
  • Automatic answer and loudspeaker - If you are driving, on a train, or in a situation where you can't otherwise answer your phone, Sanity can be set up to automatically answer your calls. You can also configure it to turn on loudspeaker automatically as well.
The interesting thing about this app is that almost every feature has advanced options that allow you to really tailor your phone's calling and SMS features. There are a nearly endless amount of ways you can use the app, and employees or business owners who use Android devices will definitely benefit from it, if they want more control over their calls and texts.

The best thing is, the app is free, although if you like it, you can chose to donate to the developer. If you're interested in learning more about Sanity, you can download it from the Google Play store here, or you can get in touch with us. We would be happy to discuss how Android devices can make your day easier.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility
February 6th, 2013

One of the more annoying things about calling people while they are at the office is that many use an automated switchboard to field calls. While this does cut-down on the number of incoming phone calls, it can be time consuming to put in a number, wait, put in another, wait some more and then finally get an answer. If you have and iPhone, you can get around all that waiting with ease, especially if you know the extension of the number you want to call.

Here's how you can add number extensions to your iPhone contacts:

  1. Open Contacts and either press the '+' for a new contact, or select the contact's number you would like to add the extension to and press Edit.
  2. Enter the new contact's normal number without the extension under the Mobile, Work or Home field. If you are editing a contact's number, press on the number you would like to edit and tap on the end of the number.
  3. Press the '+*#' button located at the bottom-left of the dial pad.
  4. Select Wait. You'll notice a ';' at the end of the number.
  5. Add the contact's extension. It should look something like this: 123-123-4567;321 (if the contact has a three digit extension).
  6. Press Done and the contact's number will be saved or updated.
If the number was entered correctly, you should see a secondary button under the contact information when you call that person. It will say something like Dial-321. Pressing this after the line has engaged will dial the extension and connect you to that person. This is useful if you don't know how long you will have to wait to be able to dial the extension, but you will have to hit the Dial button on your phone to enter the extension.

You can automate this further by replacing the semicolon (;) with a comma (,). The comma tells the switchboard to pause, and then enter the number after the comma. This will often connect you directly to the person without having to press an extra button. The number should look something like this: 123-123-4567,321

If you use an iPhone for your business communication and call clients who are behind switchboards this is a nifty time-saving feature. For more information on how the iPhone can help power your business, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility
February 1st, 2013

One of the more popular business tools of 2012, and likely for 2013, is the iPad. While it was originally aimed at private markets, businesses of all sizes have been finding unique ways to integrate it into daily use. This has led to an increasing demand for business oriented apps, and developers are more than happy to oblige. One recent app makes managing files across different cloud storage providers far easier.

Readdle Documents is an app for iPad users that acts as a central platform that connects with cloud storage providers like Dropbox, Box, iCloud, Drive, etc. and allows users to keep their multiple services organized.

What exactly is Documents? Documents is an app that enables users to manage their various cloud services. This robust app also allows users to view Word documents, PDFs, listen to music and watch video stored on various services directly in the app.

The functionality doesn't stop there however, as you can also copy files from one service and move them to another directly in the app. No more having to download files from one and upload to another. You can also use this app to save web pages for reading at a later date, which could be useful if you are going to be away from data or Wi-Fi for an extended period of time.

There is one downside to the app: You can't edit documents. If you need to edit a document you have to do so in the app the document is stored in.

Will businesses benefit? If you use multiple cloud storage apps in your business, the Documents app will be beneficial in helping you access and manage files on the go. At best, this is an organizational tool to help make accessing files easier. One really positive element of this app that many businesses owners will like is that it's free. Another benefit is that you also have the option to password protect files.

While this app might be free, if you don't use cloud storage services this probably isn't the best app for you. However, there are enough features to benefit users of cloud services, making this app potentially valuable.

How do I get the app? Documents is available on the Apple App Store. Once you have downloaded the app onto your iPad, start it up and you'll be able to add your cloud services by clicking on Network (located on the left-hand menu) and selecting the service you use. Input your account information and you should be ready to go.

If you would like to learn more about Documents, or how the iPad can fit into your business, get in touch with us. We are happy to sit down with you and tell you more!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility
January 30th, 2013

When it comes to mobile devices, users really only have the choice between a closed system with three incredibly popular devices, or an open system with hundreds of phones. For those who want choice, that system is Android. When researching devices, you are bound to hear about Android's Nexus line, but might wonder, "what exactly is Nexus?"

To begin with, devices labeled with Nexus are Google branded phones and tablets made by different manufacturers that often come in different sizes. Below is a brief overview of the different types of Nexus devices, how they differ from other Android devices based on hardware and software, plus how to buy them.

Nexus devices As noted above: Nexus devices carry the Google brand. Flip one over and you will see the Google logo featured prominently on the back. What this means is that in countries like the US and Canada, the device is sold through Google's website. Google does not manufacture these devices, instead relying on companies like Samsung, Asus and LG to produce them.

There are currently three Nexus devices available from the Google store: The Nexus 4 - a 4-inch smartphone made by LG; Nexus 7 - a 7-inch tablet made by Asus; and the Nexus 10 - a 10-inch tablet made by Samsung. You can still find older devices like the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, etc. available from a variety of different cell providers.

Nexus hardware Google views the release of a specific Nexus device as what Android devices should be. This means they have near top-of-the-line components and are often considered high-end when they are released. It's easy to think of the them as the benchmark - hardware wise - for the other Android devices, up to a year after the release.

Because of the large number of manufacturers turning out Android tablets and phones, you can bet that any device, Nexus included, will soon be surpassed by another in a matter of months. However, most tablets are powerful enough that users often don't notice the difference, so there's really no need to worry about bigger and better with the Nexus - at least not for a year or two.

Nexus software Where the Nexus models excel is software. Google's Android OS is now in it's eleventh version, yet most users are still using devices with versions from 2011 and 2012. This fragmentation happens largely because manufacturers apply their own OS layout that needs to be updated when Google releases a new version of Android. This can take months.

Nexus machines receive OS updates a few days to a month after Google releases them. This means that for at least two years they will be running the latest version. These devices also don't have custom layouts, so you get a 'pure' Android experience, or as Google calls it 'Vanilla Android'.

In other words, if you want a device that runs the latest and greatest software and OS, Nexus is the way to go.

Buying a Nexus As Nexus devices are considered high-end, you might think that the devices come with a high-end cost too. That's not 100% true though. For example, the Nexus 7 tablet is sold at cost (USD$199 for the 8GB version). In comparison, the iPad Mini starts at over USD$300. In general, Nexus devices retail at an affordable cost for the intended market. If you are looking for a high-end Android tablet, the Nexus is one of the best value devices on the market.

That being said, if you have a set budget, and aren't worried about a device running the latest and greatest version of Android, you shouldn't feel pressured to get a Nexus. There are many Android devices out there that could meet your needs and budget. Not to mention that almost all apps on the Google Play store will run on a large variety of devices, so you can still access the same apps.

If you have your heart set on a Nexus then check out the Nexus store. For those who can't access this, many big electronics stores also offer the devices, often at the same price as the Google store. To learn more about Android and your business, why not give us a shout? We'll be happy to sit down and have a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility
January 17th, 2013

When it comes to smartphones, many elite users often scoff at Microsoft's offering - Windows Phone. It's true that Windows Phone isn't as popular as the Android/iOS duopoly, but just because it's not got as many fans doesn't mean it's a bad system. Microsoft is aware of its ranking and is taking steps to get more customers. One solution being adopted is having an app store with the apps users want.

The Windows Phone store is Microsoft's version of Apple App store or Google Play. Like the other platforms, this is the hub for all things Windows Phone. Almost all apps for devices running the OS can be found here.

Yes, the number of apps lags far behind the two bigger platforms, with slightly over 150,000 apps compared to Android and iOS which both have around 700,000 apps. However, this is no reason to write off the platform. In fact, in 2012 the number of apps in the Windows Phone store increased by over 75,000. Not only did the store grow, but so did the number of regional consumer markets. At the beginning of 2012 there was 35 regional markets, and by the end of 2012 this number had grown to 191.

According to a recent blog post on the Microsoft Windows blog, Microsoft is aiming to create a foundation for their mobile system. They started late last year with the release of Windows Phone 8. In 2013 they will continue to add to this foundation vetting all apps before they make it into the store, in an effort to keep malware away devices.

Phones running the Windows Phone 8 OS offer a solid platform that users can trust. Who knows, it could really take off in 2013. If you're interested in learning more about how Windows Phone 8 can be integrated into your business, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility
January 17th, 2013

Do you have a sweet tooth and like tech devices? Google does. Their mobile platform, Android, has brought a little bit of a sugar rush to many users because of all the sweet applications and devices. While Android isn't as popular as its major competitor - iOS - it is enjoying an increased number of users. The question is: How well is Android holding up? To answer this, you need to take a look at the state of Android.

Here's a spotlight on Android at the beginning of 2013.

Distribution by the numbers Since 2009 there have been 11 different major versions of the OS released, with the current being 4.2 (Jelly Bean). As of January 3, 2013, the percentage of devices (according to Google) using the two versions of Jelly Bean is around 10.5%.

Looking at the numbers, 4.1 (Ice Cream Sandwich) has slightly over 29% of total users, while 2.3 (Gingerbread) has nearly 48% of users. In other words, nearly half of Android users still use an OS from 2010 - Gingerbread was released in 2010 with a major update in February 2011.

These numbers come from the Android developer's website, and offer an interesting snapshot into the more technical side of the OS. Overall, they show a fragmented market. Compare it to previous figures however, and you can see that the gap is slowly closing. It is highly unlikely though that Android will see Apple-like iOS version adoption rates anytime soon.

This fragmentation does hamstring users a bit, as many manufacturers are slow to release updates and some carriers block updates completely. On the upside, it forces developers to develop apps that are compatible with different OS versions to get the most users possible.

Apps, apps and more apps! Many users view Apple's App store as superior. While it's true that developers often release their apps for Apple users first, this is changing, with many developers now releasing apps simultaneously on both platforms.

In fact, back in October, Google Play (Android's app store) pulled even with Apple's App store - both stores have about the number of apps available, and according to The Sociable will have one million apps before Apple does.

A quick view of the Google Play store shows that many of the most popular iPhone apps are also available for Android, making the "Apple has better apps debate" less of a moot point.

What this means for the phone buyer in 2013 Android is currently in a bit of a conundrum: Developers are hesitant to invest in high-quality apps because of a lower usage rate compared with Apple, while users are hesitant to buy because of a perceived lack of high quality apps and lack of update support.

Google started to make steps in 2012 to turn this around. One of the major steps was the release of the Nexus tablet line. The Nexus 7, a 7 inch tablet, was released at more than USD$100 cheaper than the iPad and has seen fantastic sale rates. Similarly, Samsung released the S III which gives the iPhone a serious run for its money. Beyond that, features released in Jelly Bean make the OS more user friendly.

Combine this with the momentum of Google Play and the growing number of quality apps, and you already have a viable platform. If you are worried about the lack of updates you do have options. One of the more popular ones is to purchase a Google Nexus product. This is Google's 'Vanilla Android' and receives OS updates within a few days of their release, not to mention that the hardware is top of the line at release.

If you are in the market for a new phone this year, Android device is a great choice. To learn more about how you can integrate Android into your daily routine, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility
January 8th, 2013

Competitive research - the act of keeping track of what your competitors are doing - is an integral part of business. Managers and owners need to be sure that what they are doing is at least as good as or one step ahead of their competitors in the eyes of the consumer. Before social media, this was pretty easy: Look at the weekly flyers, browse the website and that was about it. Now, you have to spend hours trolling different websites and social platforms. Luckily, one mobile app developer set out to make competitive research a bit easier.

Perch is a free app developed by Closely for the iOS and Android platforms. The concept of the app is that it provides you with a central place from which you can keep track of your competitor's social media campaigns.

Think of this app as your own personal business CIA. It allows you to keep tabs on what your competitors are doing on Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp and many other daily deal sites. You can even set it up so that you get a daily or weekly summary email with details on competitor efforts.

The app is powered by Foursquare's location technology, and when you first sign on it will display similar companies in your area. From there you are able to add companies to a watchlist which will constantly keep track of their social activity.

Is this a good idea? Keeping track of what your competitors are doing makes good business sense, and apps like Perch can help you cut back the amount of time you spend doing competitive research. This is a two-way street as it also gives your competitors a way to easily view what you are doing.

Some opponents have noted that apps like these that essentially allow businesses to spy on one another, could foster a non-competitive environment if every time a business does something, all competitors follow. This negates the benefits the app aims to offer. Then again, this app is really an aggregator of information that's freely available on the Internet, so it really just makes it easier to do something that businesses are already able to do.

One thing's for certain: Businesses that rely on daily deal sites, or review sites like Yelp, will greatly benefit from an app like this. We'd like to know your thoughts, from both a moral and business standpoint, on using mobile apps like Perch. Let us know.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility
January 4th, 2013

Tablets are in. Just take a look around the next time you are out at a coffee shop. It's pretty much guaranteed that you will see at least two or three. The amount of tablets out there is steadily growing, and these mobile devices offer a great opportunity for companies to reach out to their customers through mobile advertising. This can be harder than it looks, especially because it's a fairly new idea. It doesn't have to be hard however.

One of the easiest ways to get in on the mobile advertising boom is through the use of mobile ad networks. There are over 150 available, serving more than 10 different niches. This will likely grow exponentially over the next few years as the demand for mobile marketing and the number of mobile devices continue to grow.

Sure, mobile advertising is the next big thing, but how do I figure out A. who the companies offering services are, and B. what companies offer what services? To help answer this question, mobyaffialiates has recently posted an infographic/map of which companies offer which form of mobile ad services.

This is an interesting infographic because you can click on the names of the companies to be taken to an overview of what each company does and the regions/areas they work in. It's definitely worth a look if your company is interested in launching a mobile advertising campaign. Some companies even offer ad development, so this could be your key to a successful campaign.

With the increasing number of Android tablets in use, it may be time to look into a more unique, (for now), form of advertising. If you'd like to learn more about mobile advertising, please contact us, as we may have a solution for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility
December 20th, 2012

Let's face it, Windows phones haven't been the most successful of mobile platforms. There's nothing inherently wrong but just that other platforms do the smartphone better. Microsoft knows this and has been working to improve their mobile offering. The latest update is Windows Phone 8, an extension of Windows 8. If you're interested in picking up a new Windows 8 phone, you're going to need to set it up.

Here's how you can set up your new Windows Phone 8.

Email When you turn on your phone for the first time you will be guided through the setup process and be able to pick your location, time and date preferences, etc. You will also be asked to sign into your Microsoft account. For most users this will be either their outlook.com email account, or their Office 365 account. The phone will pull all of your contacts, emails and calendar dates from Outlook and add them to the respective tiles. From there you can also sign into your other accounts, and the phone should take care of the rest.

While you don't have to sign in using a Microsoft account, it's recommended that you do so as it will give you access to the Microsoft store where you can download apps and allow you to create backups and link with Microsoft's other services. You will be given the option to create a new account if you want.

Apps One thing that makes smartphones smart is apps. Apps are a largely personal choice; look at the apps on any one user's phones and each phone will be unique. The issue with apps is that we use so many, so it can be a pain to have to track them down and re-install them when you get a new phone.

If you are upgrading from an older Windows phone you can sign into your Microsoft account and go to My Phone and select Get to your apps. A list of all apps you have installed, using that account, will be shown, and you can pick and choose what apps you want to reinstall. Simply click on the app and it will be downloaded onto your new phone.

For first time users, or users who want a fresh install, you can download apps from the Windows Phone Store.

Organize start screen The Windows phone experience is oriented around tiles. A good way to think of these tiles are like advanced shortcuts, as by clicking on a tile you will open the related program. New Windows phones will have a number of pre-loaded tiles on the start screen.

The beauty of these tiles is that they are customizable. Tired of scrolling down to reach your email tile? Simply press and hold the tile and then move it around to where you like. You can also resize tiles by pressing the arrow on the bottom right of the box.

Downloaded apps will be placed into the Apps list (accessed by flicking to the left on the Start screen). You can create a tile for an app by selecting it and pressing the Pin icon which is located in the bottom left. When you do this, the tile will show up on the bottom of the Start screen.

Tinker with settings If you want to customize your phone you're going to have to tinker with the Settings. At first glance, Settings can be a little overwhelming, but after a bit of tinkering, they become powerful tools. We recommend that you take some time to play around with the settings and make the phone yours.

Most users customize their ringtone, background, backup and screens. Settings can be accessed by flicking to the left from the Start screen and selecting Settings. You can set your Ringtone or sounds by selecting Ringtones + Sounds.

After you have set up your new Windows phone how you like it, you are ready to go. Enjoy your new phone and if you have any questions, please give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Mobility