Tag Archives: app

How @Square Can Save Your Small Business from Dinosauring

How @Square Can Save Your Small Business from DinosauringI received this rather distressing message:

My name is Anthony and I am living in Staten Island, New York. My father has been running a small landscaping business since I was born 18 years ago and lately things haven’t been going too well for him. Over the last five years or so, his customers have not been paying their bills in a timely manner. This has resulted in my father almost losing our house because he has been unable to pay his own bills as his customers do not pay theirs. Last week we had our electricity shut off.

My father blames it on the economy being so bad. I blame it on the fact that he only accepts checks. Yes Chris, checks and only checks. I tried to explain to him there is a better way to do things; checks are, in a way, a dying breed — especially with a business like his, where there is a recurring payment each month. I tried to tell him that people no longer remember, “Oh, I have to write this check and mail it out today” and that we live in an automated world. He just doesn’t get it. Now, of course, the economy is going to play a role, but honestly Chris, it’s got to be the checks, right?

Do you think accepting credit cards would help him and our family? What ways should he go about setting up a payment system using cards and, most of all, how can I explain to him that checks are killing his business?

Thank you, Chris. Any tips would be appreciated by me, my father, and the rest of our family.

Anthony, I’m glad you reached out. While there may be no easy fix, there are certainly ways to address the problem. On a daily basis, I have to deal with dinosaurs — and that’s definitely not a slight against your father.

There are certainly several online tools that you can start using right away, including both PayPal and Square and, in either instance, the user need not have an account to be able to use any credit card to pay for your father’s business.

If your customers have a problem paying, my sincerest recommendation is to go with Square (and if you can’t afford a new iOS device with a network connection, you can pick up a used / refurbished / previous-generation model for cheap). Then, before your father starts to work on the lawn, he should swipe the credit card with the Square reader on-premises or refuse to perform the service.

It may be a minor inconvenience for the customer, but the alternative is to let them continue to flake and not have any other way of easily handling payments without someone taking the time to chase delinquent accounts.

I have begun to recommend Square to every other “local” vendor I deal with, if only because I recognize they’re still stuck in the 20th century with the way they handle transactions (even at the register, where my favorite credit card is quite often not accepted due to the exorbitant merchant fees).

Square does not pay me. I’m just impressed with how its product is beginning to transform oCommerce (that would be offline commerce, the opposite of eCommerce).

Image via Square

Be the Life of the Party with an iPhone and djay

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djay is an iPhone and iPod touch app that acts as a portable DJ system in combination with your iPod library. You get access to your favorite tracks and playlists via a realistic touchscreen interface. Perform live as a street corner DJ or be the life of the party from your iPhone.

Record mixes on-the-go or enable Automix mode and let djay mix your favorite playlist from your iPod library automatically. With a simple rotation of your iPhone or iPod touch, djay’s intuitive dual turntable setup beautifully morphs to each turntable individually, allowing you to beat-match, adjust EQs, loop, and cue with even greater precision and control.

Features of this awesome app include:

  • Direct access to iPod library
  • Hyper-realistic low-latency turntable interface
  • Exclusive portrait and landscape modes
  • Automix mode with automatic transition control (Fade, Backspin, Reverse, Brake, and Random)
  • Automatic beat and tempo matching (BPM sync)
  • Looping (Auto, Manual, and Bounce)
  • Cue Point Trigger
  • Live Recording (with built-in organizer for recorded performances)
  • Seamless AirPlay integration (wirelessly transmit your mix to Apple TV or AirPort Express base station)
  • Pre-Cueing (with optional headphone adapter)
  • Full visual waveform
  • High-quality scratching
  • Mixer, tempo, and EQ controls
  • Pitch-Bend
  • Beat-synchronized scrubbing
  • Fully optimized for iOS multitasking and background operation

Yes, you’ll find apps which are free, unlike djay. However, you will NOT find a free app that is better than this one. You get what you pay for in most cases, and that is definitely true when it comes to most apps available for your devices.

djay can turn you into the life of the party – every single time. Isn’t that “feature” alone worth its weight in gold?

Which apps are you using to become a dee-jay for a day?

Grouped(In) Keeps You Better Connected

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There are an awful lot of apps out there in the wild which allow you to “group text.” When they arrived at SXSW last week, Jake and Kelly simply weren’t sure what the heck they should be using to keep in contact with everyone. After watching the official launch on Friday, they were convinced that hot new offering Grouped(In) was the way to go.

Grouped(In) provides a common interface to interact with people in your social circle. Personalizing social communication seems to be the theme of a number of emerging startups, and this app is no exception. It doesn’t matter what method of communication your contacts use. You can combine these missives with Grouped(In) to stay in touch more completely than ever before.

Talking with Brian from Grouped(In), you quickly get a taste of the enthusiasm and passion that went into this app. The team truly believes they have brought something unique to the table and they’re prepared to work even harder to keep it that way.

Why are you still flipping between several different applications in order to get all of the information you need? Grouped(In) delivers it all right to the proverbial door. Keep up with Twitter, Facebook, phone calls, in-app group messaging and regular old SMS messages all within this app. Organize your work and personal connections into groups that make sense for you.

Other features include:

  • Access to completely private, instantaneous group messaging.
  • Real-time alerts on new messages and comments via push notifications.
  • Quick communication with any group member, or members through multiple channels, including phone, SMS and e-mail.
  • Follow activities of your group members who are friends on Facebook or those you are following on Twitter within each group stream.
  • Easily toggle on and off channel streams, such as Facebook or Twitter, within each group.

  • Customize settings, including notifications, communication preferences, and channels for each group.
  • Invite anyone in your contacts list to join a group.
  • Follow public content, news, and brands, and receive offers from your favorite merchants and brands.

After test-driving Grouped(In) during SXSW, Jake and Kelly agree that it is simply the best means of staying connected with a group of people. This is true in many different settings, including special interest groups, sports teams, work groups, family and friends, conferences and tradeshows and even vacations. The possibilities are pretty endless: if you can bring a group of people together, this app can handle the flow of information amongst them.

Skype for iPhone – Full of Win

I think everyone uses Skype these days – and half of everyone has an iPhone. My numbers could be slightly exaggerated, but I know I’m not that far off. Skype is exceedingly popular, as is the Apple phone. Having a full-featured, well-working app for iOS simply makes sense, and that’s what Skype has delivered.

The new video chat function works both over WiFi and 3G networks and two-way video calling is supported by the iPhone 4, iPod touch 4, and iPhone 3GS. The iPad and third generation iPod touch support one-way video calling. Just like on Apple’s FaceTime application Skype for iPhone will video conference in both portrait and landscape orientations.

“The new Skype app expands the number of those who have access to video-calling on their Apple devices, as Apple’s new Facetime only works on iPhone 4 and Mac computers.” Skype says there are approximately 25 million concurrent users logged into Skype at any given time.

Video chats make up a large percentage of all Skype calls. approximately 40% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes for the first six months of 2010, according to Neil Stevens, Skype’s general manager of consumer business. “By bringing video to mainstream users at their home or work via their desktops, on the go with their mobiles, or into their living room via their TV, Skype has made it possible for millions of people to share their video moments wherever they are.”

BaldBooth – Are You Sorry for the Loss?

Whether it’s due to heredity or from your kids making you tear it out strand by strand, you will lose a small amount of hair in your lifetime. It’s going to happen, whether you like it or not. Why not take control of your head and turn yourself bald with just a couple of clicks? BaldBooth lets you instantly remove all of your hair – without having to head to a beauty shop.

You can have a lot of fun with this app. There are a ton of different ways you can use the app. Turn yourself bald and send a photo to a friend going through chemotherapy to show your support and cheer them up. Play a practical joke on your best buddy by making him the bald one. Heck, why not use a photo of your boss and then hang it above your desk at home for inspiration? The possibilities are endless. Or go to an event and get a social media photo booth shot taken.

What app are you having the most fun with these days?

Steve Jobs Calls iPad App Developer

Anyone who claims that Steve Jobs is not a hands-on CEO obviously needs to take the time to do a little research. There are naysayers out there who swear that the emails “from” him aren’t from him at all. They like to be snarky, and make up grandiose stories as to the origins of emails with Steve’s signature on them. Most people agree that he couldn’t possibly be the one sending these out. There has to be someone sitting in a little cubicle in Cupertino smiling to themselves as they type his name at the bottom of witty (and often mean) email replies. If this were all true, though, and Steve was not directly involved in things, why would he pick up the phone to call a new app developer after receiving an email from him?

Seattle developer Ram Arumugam emailed Jobs after his app was rejected by the company. Ram had filed an appeal and was unclear as to why his app had been rejected. He never expected to receive an email from the head honcho, and he certainly never dreamed that he’d pick up the phone to hear Steve’s voice on the other end.

Arumugam’s app, called “Economy for iPad,” was rejected because it contained some non-public code – which Apple doesn’t allow. Arumugam said he had used the private API to work around a problem with the on-screen keyboard, which Arumugam was having trouble removing from the screen after the user was done typing. After talking to Jobs, the code in question was removed from the app and then resubmitted. His $2.99 app, which tracks U.S. and state economic statistics such as GDP, unemployment and housing stats, is now the No. 1 selling paid app in the iPad store’s finance category, he said.

Now. Tell me again that Steve Jobs is too self-important or uninvolved to take time out to talk to the “little people.” When was the last time Steve Ballmer picked up the phone and called someone who had created a three-dollar application for Microsoft?

Is HTML5 the Future of the Application?

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Someone asked recently in chat whether developers are going to start basing their apps around HTML5 in the near future. I believe we will see this with web apps, but likely not mobile apps.

The beauty of HTML5 is that they’ve tied in a lot of these formerly disparate components such as audio, video and databases. Prior to this standardization, these elements were all over the place.

You can test your web browser to see how compliant it is with HTML5. As of the writing of this post, the latest version of Firefox (3.6.12) scores a 139 (plus 4 bonus points) out of a possible 300 points. That isn’t such a great score, folks. These browser companies need to step up their game in a very significant way.

During the making of the video, the Chromium nightly build scored a 241 out of 300, and Safari scored 208. Webkit pulled a score of 232. In my mind, none of these support the HTML5 spec well enough at this point. This needs to be improved quite a lot – quickly.

What are your thoughts? Are developers going to move further and further into using HTML5, or is this going to be a flash in the pan?

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Is Twezr the Only iPhone Social App You Need?

There’s a new kid in town, and your iPhone is never going to be the same. This is a good thing, according to those in the know. Twezr calls itself a “personal organizer – the best way to stay in sync with your close friends and co-workers”. Let’s go on record right now as saying this is absolutely a game changer.

After launching the app for the first time, you’ll be asked to sign up which only takes a few seconds. After you’re in, you need to connect Twezr to the services you use, such as email, Twitter and Facebook. Sadly, those are the only two social networks available at this point in time, but you CAN add multiple Twitter accounts. The email options include Windows Exchange (!!), Hotmail, Gmail and AOL.

There are some very neat touches to Twezr. For example, if you have multiple accounts and visit a particular contact, it will show you messages (twitter and Facebook) and @replies on twitter from across all the accounts you may have used to contact that person. What’s more, Twezr keeps the people you contact most close at hand assuming the people you care about are the people your messaging regularly.

What’s the big deal about Twezr? It not only aggregates all of your contacts from all of your places into one neat little list, it also shows you when (and where!) each of those people have sent you a message of some type. Did Joe send you an email? Twezr will tell you… and show you the Twitter DM he sent immediately after to make sure you saw that email!

Why use separate apps for various email addresses, Twitter and Facebook? Throw them all together in one very cool looking and simple-to-use interface with Twezr.

Zumobi Network Brings App Within App Ads

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

The Zumobi Network is the creator of several free mobile applications across multiple platforms. Because of their creation of rich mobile apps, they’ve been able to partner with brands such as HP, MSNBC, Southwest Airlines, and Mercedes-Benz to acquire premium ad sponsorships.

The idea is simple. Create great consumer mobile apps that draw lots of downloads, and partner with big-named brands to provide guaranteed and exclusive advertisement placement within the app. These ads are often rich in media themselves and Zumobi likes to call the term an “app-within-an-app.” An example of this is Mercedes-Benz having exclusive ad placement in the MOTOR TREND app, created by Zumobi. This proprietary technology is called BrandBlast.

Having 12 apps in the top 10 on iTunes of their respective category, it’s not surprising companies with lot’s of money to spend on advertising flock to the Zumobi Network. The company has proven they can create well-designed mobile applications that draw lots of interest and hits/uses per day. Their app portfolio includes the official apps for MSNBC, the Today Show, MOTOR TREND, Inside Xbox 360, TLC, and REI. Recently, Zumobi was featured in Fast Company magazine to highlight the reasons to choose a premium mobile app network such as them.

If you’re a developer, you should check out Deploy 2010 on Monday, November 08, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (PT). Deploy 2010 is an all-inclusive conference for technology builders to give you new tools to create the applications of tomorrow. The conference will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.

Find Your Way Around the Mall with FastMall

If you’re not a power-shopper, then I’m betting you’ve gotten lost in your local mall a time or twelve. All of those twists, turns, stairways and hallways can be daunting to any of us who don’t make mall-walking a daily habit. The mall is a scary place, but FastMall wants to make life much easier for us all. It is the world’s first TRUE turn-by-turn navigation app – even showing you where to find stairways, elevators and bathrooms!

Samuel Feuer, CEO of Fastmall creator MindSmack, is one of those guys you just want to hang out with. He’s full of jokes and laughter, but he’s also very dedicated to the work he’s doing. His enthusiasm is contagious – the service is beyond awesome. It was easy for my assistant Kat to be convinced to download this app herself during her meeting with Samuel last week in New York. Kat is picky and doesn’t download many apps. However, she assures me that this is one she will be using on a regular basis.

The beautiful thing about FastMall is that it’s not only for malls: the service can be used to create navigational apps for pretty much any place you can think of… hospitals, theme parks and even convention centers. Anyone can request a customized app simply by talking with Samuel and his team. The idea originally came from Sam’s wife, Amie, who was completely fed up with static mall directories and the overall lack of restroom guidance when she was pregnant. Sam and his partner Marcelo took a chance and created a startup that I feel is going to become extremely important in the very near future.

Some of the features of the app include:

  • Shake your iPhone for the nearest restroom.
  • Tell FastMall where you parked and it will remember for you. Feel free to use this voice recorder as a shopping list too!
  • Turn-by-turn guidance inside the mall, from store to store, without using GPS!
  • Sync your status on Facebook as well as Twitter.
  • Add reviews of restrooms, restaurants and stores.
  • Make a wish list of things you must have.
  • Find a deal and save money.
  • Add data to FastMall to make it a better experience for everyone.

Think of what this could mean, folks. Let’s say you’re about to attend SXSW – and you know you’re going to be lost as usual. How great would it be if the powers-that-be behind the conference contacted FastMall to create an app you can use to guide you through the experience? The same could happen with any major hospitals… large corporation complexes… and so much more. The possibilities are literally almost endless here. I’m excited to see what the future brings for Sam and his team.