Rethinking The Mobile App “Walkthrough”

A tutorial of how to use your app should be in a clearly identified place that can be visited at any time by the user. By adding a “walkthrough” upon start-up/log-in, you are already making the user think that your app is more difficult than it really is.

Halftone is a great example of an app that does it right. They offer a “how-to” section and a video within the app to explain the usage. Props to Halftone for keeping it simple!

halftone app review top digital marketing blog b culture media blog

@BCulture_Britt

Hurricane Sandy: How can we better prepare for disasters using technology?

Hurricane Sandy may have tested our skills beyond what we could have ever imagined…this past week has been a humbling experience to say the least. Hurricane Sandy left many areas in the Caribbean, Connecticut, New York/NYC areas, and New Jersey crippled. Living in Jersey City I have seen first-hand the damage that was done by flooding (not even remotely taking into account the massive destruction in many other areas). I was without power for 5 days, which is certainly just an inconvenience in comparison to how some people have to live and survive right now. I do wish we would have heeded to the warnings our technology was bringing our way…

Emergency Alerts/Smartphones

On behalf of the entire B Culture Media staff, our hearts go out to all of those that lost their homes due to flooding and/or those that are dealing with massive destruction that the hurricane left behind in one way or another. Unfortunately, just because the hurricane/cyclone itself was over in about 2 days that doesn’t mean that there now aren’t weeks and months (if not longer) ahead of us trying to recover from this disaster. Here is a Recent Update on news about the storm’s destruction and aftermath.

My boyfriend and I didn’t prepare for this storm (#Frankenstorm) as we should have (not even close); however, instead of looking back on what we didn’t do right; I would like to focus on how we can all prepare better for the future. We can’t assume another tragedy like this won’t happen.  How can technology help in these scenarios? Obviously, given I was without power for a week; I realized that powering up my cell is the hard part, and then no cell service and/or access to Wi-Fi is another.  But, there are simple things that I could have used that would have helped immensely, and of course only finding this out after the fact, but again I feel it is better late than never.

I have compiled some things that I have done a lot of research on since my power was restored, and just wanted to help others as well.

First off, it would have been very smart to have one of these: http://tinyurl.com/79sftaa

The way that I even found out that these bags existed is by meeting a new hurricane friend while we were all camping out at the grocery store, Shop Rite, where all of us were sprawled out in the aisles sucking up juice from the outlets sporadically placed throughout the store. We were at this store for hours a day (or elsewhere) to try to fully charge our phones and other electronics.  For about $170 this bag will charge a smartphone up to 4 times, so you can charge multiple things with just this one source! Therefore, having this would have made it a bit easier to call loved ones during the disaster, get in touch with our offices that are out of state, etc.

Secondly, having a SpareOne Emergency Phone is a necessity (see picture below). It runs on one AA battery and will connect within range of GSM cell towers worldwide. It would have been an amazing emergency backup phone given that we all could not communicate with anyone due to the massive outages in cell towers and our smartphones losing juice in too short of a time. This phone starts at $60 and can be purchased from www.spareone.com.

Thirdly, there are a ton of smartphone/tablet apps that are available that could be of great help during emergencies like we experienced this past week. I have collected the top 8 apps available on various types of smartphones/tablets that can help in times of dire need:

  1. DriveSaf.ly is a free app available on Android smartphones, Blackberry and Apple (iPads, iPhones, etc.). This app comes in handy if you are in a situation where you’re driving in a hurry, but need to be on the phone at the same time.  Clearly, in a state of emergency the last thing that a person should do is be careless and cause potential harm to others on the road, so texting and/or holding the phone to the ear while driving is a bad idea. This app uses text-to-speech functionality so your incoming text messages and emails are read aloud while driving.
  2. RepairPal: Auto Repair is a free app available on Apple products and Android. It helps you get accurate repair estimates based on your location and includes customer reviews of repair shops in the area. Given many persons had their cars damaged, this is a great app to help ease the pain to find out where to take the vehicles to be fixed.
  3. SAS Survival Guide/Lite. This is a $5.99 app or free (for the lite version) that was created by a former Special Air Services soldier. This will help you learn how to build fires, find water, navigate by the stars and includes a sun compass, Morse Code signaler, pictures of plants that are helpful and/or poisonous, first aid help and much, much more. Available on Apple and Windows.
  4. Maverick is a free app that uses Google, Bing and Open Street Maps to track where you are and where you’ve been. This is an amazing app in case you’re in territories that you’re not familiar with.  Only available on Android smartphones.
  5. Tiny Flashlight + LED is a free app that will light through your phone’s screen or its LED light and is available on Android and Apple.
  6. The Merck Manual – Home Edition is a $9.99 app that gives you access to learn about medical conditions and procedures, medical terms and how to handle emergency situations. This app is only available on Apple.
  7. PressReader is a free app that gives you access to 2,100 newspapers from 95 countries in 54 languages. This is also only available on Apple. A great app to help aggregate news during a time of disaster.
  8. Radar Now! is a free app that provides the most current National Weather Service (NWS) enhanced radar base images along with the current weather conditions and storm indicators.  This is available on Android only. Other ones that provide Apple and Blackberry notification are The Weather Channel (free app) and WeatherBug (also free).

For some other references, for us candles were also very, very scarce, so here is a way to get really creative to build your own out of things you may have in your cupboards: Crisco Candle

Not to mention, walkie talkies would have been more than helpful! Here are some deals on those as well: http://amzn.to/YEUstb

There are also great points of reference on CBS’s Money Watch site for people that are seeking help as to how to deal with insurance companies after this storm:  http://tinyurl.com/bljrzmn

And, are you curious about whether your insurance covers floods? Go here: http://tinyurl.com/axkswf4

I am hoping that soon all of this can be put behind us, but it isn’t going to be easy. To help with relief efforts, as there are many families and pets that have had their lives destroyed, please go to these sites to serve as reference points:

Red Cross: http://tinyurl.com/bpjb7v5

Animal Rescue/Help: http://tinyurl.com/c8w8zn8

Remember, donating monies and doing what you can even from afar is a great way to help as we can all rebuild our communities together. Best wishes to everyone!

@natbdold

Natalie B. Dold

Is Technology and Data Spooky?!

Let’s be real. Technology is getting creepy. It’s the scary teacher from grade school that somehow always knows what you’re doing even when she isn’t even looking at you. It seems to be watching our every click spanning the vast universe of the Internet. Companies are focusing on developing technology that processes all of our data to make inferences that could help them turn us into customers, or more importantly, into advocates for their brand. Recently, a brand we’re all familiar with, Netflix, held a competition that rewarded a million dollars (no one we knew won to note) to the group that could create an algorithm that could create better movie suggestions for their members.

It is becoming more and more noticeable to all of us we know; the advertisements on Facebook are generated by endless data based on your profile and pictures posted. Did you notice if you’re wearing a certain brand or piece of clothing that you’ll somehow get an ad with that same information in it? It’s all about targeting, but that’s almost scary targeting! (They’re watching you)!

We have now a developed generation that focuses on individuality, and this evolution inspires us to publicize ourselves on social platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, among others. The science behind this data as stated above is rapidly growing due to the high demand of how to use it despite how complicated it is. Going back to the Netflix competition, out of the thousands that entered their competition, only two teams were actually able to create algorithms that improved movie suggestions by ten percent. Acquiring data is easy, but making successful inferences from all of that data is the hard part. But even the smallest improvement can make a large difference by using data properly, which is why companies aren’t afraid to invest.

We’ve been thinking about that a lot on our end here at B Culture Media. How can we help the industry understand what to extract, or more importantly, what to put in place to make that extraction of data all the more usable from the get-go? And, how can we help them understand to the ‘T’ what their target audiences’ want so that all those ad monies are spent wisely. We feel it’s a bit like being Beauty from “Beauty and the Beast” and you have all of this amazing food enticing you to “be their guest”, but instead of that cute dancing cake, now it happens to be advertisements for billions of things you can put into practice to give you lots and lots of data…but, at the end of the day, what does that all translate into? Sales? Growth? Advocacy? What are you Mr./Mrs. X Brand actually searching for?

That’s what makes us understand that we’re circling around back to the technology/data days that existed before the Internet craze started. We need to fully understand the depth of a business, what they need to accomplish, and put into place strategies and metrics to ensure that the “cool” marketing recommendations using innovative technology will actually help an entire organization meet their business goals. Big data is useful, spooky targeted ads are useful, but you have to understand first as to why it’s useful and what you want out of it. I mean, of course besides tracking traffic to a website and the numbers of fans on social channels… those are easy!

@natbdold

@claudiavon

iPhone 4S vs. iPhone 5: Is It Worth It?

Apple junkies have been lining up to get their hands on Apple’s newest release of the iPhone: the iPhone 5. While other companies have mocked Apple’s following regardless of the specifications, functionality, or price, simply because it has an apple on the back, there are many legitimacies to the latest update as well. Here is a comparison of the 4s and 5.

iPhone 4

  • Width: 2.31 in
  • Depth: .37 in
  • Height: 4.5 in
  • Weight: 4.9 oz
  • Display: 3.5 (diagonal) Retina display
  • A5 chip
  • 960×640 resolution
  • Siri
  • 8 megapixel iSight Camera
  • FaceTime Camera: VGA- resolution video
  • Apple earphones
  • 30-pin connector
  • Standby battery life: 200 hours
  •  Up to 16GB available on Apple.com

iPhone 5

  • Width: 2.31 in
  • Depth: .3 in
  • Height: 4.87 in
  • Weight: 3.95 oz
  • Display: .4 (diagonal) Retina display
  • A6 chip
  • 1136x 640 resolution
  • LTE3
  • Siri
  • 8 megapixel iSight Camera
  • FaceTime Camera: 1.2MP photos
  • FaceTime Camera: 720p HD video & backside illumination sensor
  • Apple EarPods
  • Lightening connector
  • Standby battery life: 225 hours
  • Up to 64 GB available on Apple.com

So, is it worth it? I still have my iPhone 4, but at a social media conference this weekend, a co-presenter of mine did indeed already have the 5. Watching him show off some of the new features, the what felt like and looked like skinnier and easier to maneuver display, and the speed, I would advocate, if you can afford it, and you utilize your smartphone more often than your tablet or laptop, go ahead and upgrade. If you can’t afford it, it won’t hurt you too bad to have to wait a little bit longer to upgrade.

The neatest feature that I witnessed, and you have probably seen touted on some of Apple’s newest television commercials, is the panorama picture display. Not sure the practical use for it, but I still enjoyed it. Plus, the speed. Some argue that the speed of the iPhone 5 will rival your home’s Wi-Fi! Which, it’s that is true, is just another step toward smartphone domination.

Did you upgrade to the iPhone 5? If so, what do you think of it compared to earlier versions? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section below.

@BCulture_Matt

The ONE

Mobile technologies have changed drastically in recent years. We have graduated from the colorless flip phone to “smart” devices that are the epitome of present times. Designer Yejin Jeon took the mobile concept and flipped it on its head. What was the end result? The ONE.

ONE is a unique mobile design; a pen shaped device holds a six-inch flexible screen. The flexible touch screen enables the phone to have the same features as the average smartphone.  The pen is designed to be the primary component, holding the microphone, camera and six-inch screen.

Want to keep things simple? Use ONE’s touch screen on the pen to check messages and even make phone calls. Because the speaker, camera and lock feature are on the pen portion, you have a fully functioning phone without the retractable six-inch screen.

This design is truly remarkable – but is this feat possible? It is true that this design could be the solution to many of our mobile woes, due mainly in part to the device’s compact design.  What do you think about this design blueprint? Is the ONE for you?

@BCulture_CourtB