December 29th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Dec22_AWhile it is impossible to predict the future, it looks as if 2016 is shaping up to be a year in which new phone releases take center stage. This also means consumers need to be educated and savvy about buying a new device this year. You might have your heart set on a certain brand, but there will be a lot of competition on the market, and other models might sport different features and possibly a lower price tag. We take a look at some of the new phones scheduled for release in 2016.

Apple iPhone 7

There have been plenty of rumors about what the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will feature, such as the elimination of the headphone jack, but not a whole lot more than that is known at the moment. These phones are expected to be thinner, and to feature common upgrades like a higher-resolution camera and a speedier processor. Everything else about the phone floating around at the moment is just hearsay. If Apple follows precedent, the iPhone 7 will be released in September.

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung fans won’t have to wait all that long to get their hands on the new line of Galaxy phones, with the Galaxy S7 expected to hit stores in February. While the Galaxy S6 and, in particular, the Galaxy S6 Edge had supply issues that made it hard for consumers to get their hands on one, the International Business Times reports that, this time around, five million devices will be available at launch. New features for the Galaxy include a 4k display and a pressure-sensitive touch screen. A retina scanner could also be included, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Windows Surface Phone

The Windows Phone has not been widely embraced by consumers for either business or personal use; however, the Windows Surface tablet has been a massive success for the company. It should come as no surprise to learn that Windows has decided to ditch the Windows Phone, and instead release a Surface Phone incorporating many of the user-friendly features found on the tablet, including seamless Windows 10 integration and full versions of Microsoft Office applications. The release date is still very much up in the air, but reports suggest that it should be launched some time in the second half of 2016.

Google Nexus 6 2016

Seeing as 2016 is in the name, it would be surprising if Google’s new line of signature phones did not make its way onto the market at some point in the upcoming year. Gizmo China reports that Google will once again team up with Chinese manufacturer Huawei for the handset, which will run Android N, the latest Android operating system. The two worked together on the Nexus 6P, the last phone released by Google. But the new phone is anticipated to have Qualcomm’s recently released Snapdragon 820 chipset, as opposed to Huawei’s in-house chipset.

Figuring out which phone you need for yourself or your employees can be a headache-inducing task. Let our experts help explain the pros and cons of each new phone, and how it can help your business and its bottom line.

Published with permission from Source.

November 4th, 2015

164_mob_AApple’s iOS 9 has been available for download for nearly two months now. If you have yet to upgrade, you may wonder whether or not you should. Not everyone has been happy with the new OS, and Apple is still working out the kinks. So if you’re on the fence as to whether or not you should update, here’s what you need to know about iOS 9 and four of its most handy features.

Introducing the News App

If you waste countless minutes everyday visiting different websites searching for your news, now you no longer have to. Pre-installed in iOS 9 is a new app called News. This app collects articles from a variety of news organizations and sources, and puts them in one place for your viewing convenience. Once you start using this app it will learn what type of stories you are interested in, and then gather articles to suit your unique tastes.

Improved Notes

The Notes app has gotten a major overhaul in iOS 9 and has some nifty new features. First off, you can now add checklists and bullets to your notes. So if you’re about do some shopping at the supermarket, forget about the traditional paper written grocery list. Instead, you can create your list in the Notes app and check off each item as you put it in your cart. Additionally, you can now insert maps or photos into a note, and even sketch a drawing with the tip of your finger.

Better battery

While a long battery life is not something smartphones are known for, the iPhone is making steps to improve it with iOS 9. The core technologies and built-in apps of the new OS now consume less power, which means you may be able to squeeze out an extra hour of battery life after updating.

Furthermore, iOS 9 now comes with Low Power Mode, which helps to conserve battery life. So if you’re nowhere near an outlet, and are praying you have enough power to last for the next few hours, Lower Power Mode is your savior. To turn it on, go to Settings and Battery.

And if these new battery improvements for iOS 9 aren’t already outstanding enough, now you can also find out which apps are sucking the most juice out of your battery. In Settings > Battery, click on Battery Percentage to see a list of apps you’ve used in the past 48 hours and the percentage of your battery life they have consumed. This will help you quickly identify the apps that are draining your power, so you can close them to prevent further battery loss.

Switching between apps is easier than ever

From time to time, every iPhone user needs to toggle between apps. Whether you’re switching between Mail and Safari, or Notes and iBooks, doing this can feel like an unnecessary annoyance as you are forced to return to your Home screen before switching. With iOS 9, not anymore. In a progression from the app switchers seen in previous iterations of iOS, now if you’re in Safari and want to return to your email, a little black button in the top left hand corner gives you the option. In this case, it will read Back to Mail. Just tap on it and you can return to your mail without first having to return to the home screen. This feature works for any two apps you’re toggling between.

So should you update to iOS 9?

Upgrading to iOS 9 is a big deal, as it is for any OS update to your iPhone. The reason? Once you do it, it’s nearly impossible to go back. While the four features mentioned above may sound appealing, here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to update to iOS 9.

Owners of older versions of the iPhone, such as 4S, 5, and 5S, may be wary about reports that updating to iOS 9 has caused noticeable slowdown on these versions. For example, it can cause delays in launching and switching between apps, slow down camera performance, and lead to your phone taking longer to turn on.

However, it should be noted that if you choose to put off updating, you may leave your phone at risk to security vulnerabilities. What’s more, you may not be able to update to the latest version of apps as they will, at one point or another, no longer work with an older OS.

Whether you choose to update to iOS 9 or stick with your current version, our experts are happy to fill you in as to which is the best decision for you. Contact us today to learn more about iOS 9 or get support for any of your iPhone needs.

Published with permission from Source.

September 15th, 2015

taking photo with cellphoneStatic biometrics emerged from the theory that a password or a PIN number can be stolen, while something unique to your body like the face, fingers, eyes and ears can’t. But the fact is that static biometrics have their shortcomings - the system uses proprietary technology with limited use, and is only available on high-end smartphones. With that comes behavioral biometrics, a technology that could very well be the next generation of mobile phone security.

What’s it all about?

Behavioral biometrics focus on uniquely identifying characteristics related not necessarily to who you are, but to what you do.The stress is on the recognition and analysis of something all of us do all the time on our smart devices - typing - as a new way of establishing identity.

How does it work?

“The technology profiles how a person interacts with a website on their smartphone by analyzing their typing rhythm, how they hit and release keys, the pressure they put on the screen as they type, the angle they’re holding their phone, and how quick they move across the screen,” says Dr. Neil Costigan, CEO at Swedish IT and security company BehavioSec, which has a patented technology that can be integrated into an app or even a smartphone OS.

Combined with data from a smartphone's built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, it’s possible to come up with a profile of each person. This could allow for monitoring of typing in real time in order to verify a person is who they say they are, just by watching their typing behavior. “The tech works on all models and makes of smartphones and doesn’t require extra hardware,” added Costigan. In fact, Costigan’s continuous process of verification has already been used by banks across Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany as part of efforts to detect and counter fraud. The technology was showcased as possible future-phone tech at Google’s I/O 2015 conference, and has the potential to be installed on every phone rather than just being limited to banking apps.

Looking to learn more about mobile technology and how they can change the way you work? Contact us today; we’re happy to talk.

Published with permission from Source.

August 6th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Aug04_AIt might all seem a bit too much like something out of a sci-fi movie, but artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a big part of the IT landscape. One segment of artificial intelligence in particular, Natural Language Processing (NLP) - essentially a computer’s ability to take unscripted human words and turn them into something useful - is playing an increasing role in the way we use our devices. Here are three things you probably didn’t know about NLP.

There’s more to Natural Language Processing than voice recognition

Voice recognition might be among the most well-known practical uses of NLP in the technology we encounter in everyday life - but that likely has more to do with the popularity of the services that employ it, like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, than the merits of voice recognition in comparison to other NLP functions that tend to stay out of the limelight.

Truth be told, there’s a whole lot more to artificial intelligence than NLP. In fact, NLP is more effective in analyzing text data than it is sounds, which is precisely why digital assistant apps first use voice recognition to turn your commands into text data, and then use other NLP capabilities to search online for related information.

Natural Language Processing has already moved beyond its infancy

It’s tempting to believe that elements of artificial intelligence like NLP are still in the realm of the sci-fi movies, and that they are a long way from being useful to the technology we use in our everyday personal and business lives. It’s tempting, but further from reality than you might realize. That said, it’s true that to date there has been no commercial use of NLP that has truly exploited its full capabilities; even its deployment in a recently launched project to automate customer service only really scratches the surface.

What is clear is the shape that future uses of NLP will need to take. We already know that NLP alone doesn’t always judge context well, since it needs to learn about its environment first - without turning to other sources, for example, one app employing NLP would struggle to differentiate between providing traffic information and diagnosing a health complaint. The key, at least for now, is to restrict the scope in which NLP operates - by limiting its use to a travel app, for instance, NLP could learn about the various travel arrangements you make and then devise itineraries for you.

It works with more than just large-scale data

While it’s undeniable that NLP can be put to great use in analyzing vast swathes of aggregated information, for example taking masses of social media data and being able to assess the feelings of users towards the subject in question, that’s not the limit of its capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, NLP can also be used to interpret much smaller-scale data in real time. This is where its true value comes into play in terms of being able to take natural-language user input, in an app setting for example, and make decisions that add value to our mobile experience.

Whether for automated customer service or comprehensive sales applications, it’s clear that Natural Language Processing - and other aspects of artificial intelligence - hold the potential to be of value-adding benefit to the business world in the near future. It’s an area that’s very much still in development - and so even more exciting, and important to watch - but now is the time to discover how best to implement NLP technologies into your company. By getting ahead now, you can offer a customer experience that truly sets you apart from the competition. To find out how we can help you achieve just that, and at the same time maximize the value you drive from mobile technologies more generally, give us a call.

Published with permission from Source.

May 15th, 2015

MobileGeneral_May15_AWe all know mobile is big - and still growing. Any business serious about leveraging the internet in its marketing efforts - whether that be through social media or otherwise - needs to be putting serious effort into the mobile compatibility of its campaigns. But new data released by Twitter emphasises the point further, and highlights the importance of using video in your mobile marketing too. Here’s what you need to know about this growing area of online customer engagement.

The Twitter report shows that globally, 90 percent of videos watched on Twitter are now being seen through a mobile device - whether that’s a smartphone or tablet - rather than on a desktop or laptop. Of all Twitter users, 82 percent use the social network - which until relatively recently has been primarily text-based - to watch video content.

Also evidenced in the report is the different use that is served by video on Twitter as opposed to that on other platforms, like YouTube. The report drives home the fact that Twitter represents a means for users to discover new video content, even if they weren’t necessarily looking for it. 70 percent of those surveyed said they primarily watch videos that they have discovered on the platform, whereas the majority - 63 percent - of those actively looking for particular videos use YouTube, rather than Twitter, to do so. In Twitter’s own words, consumers go to Twitter to discover content they don’t already know about rather than searching for something specific.

This is good news for advertisers - showing the value that can be driven for brands using videos that Twitter users discover while interacting on the platform in other ways. So too is the fact that video content directly embedded into tweets, rather than hosted on third-party players like Youtube, generates higher engagement - 2.5 times as many replies, 2.8 times as many retweets, and 1.9 times as many favorites. This is likely because of the lesser effort required to watch and interact with native video, as opposed to third-party content which typically involves additional clicks before being able to view it.

The report says two main things to advertisers. Firstly, sharing video content needs to be an increasingly essential part of your social media strategy - and will bring particular value in helping you to connect with the growing proportion of users who access sites like Twitter through mobile devices. Additionally, the research highlights the success stories that businesses are seeing using Twitter advertising methods like Promoted Video - so now could be the time to consider whether sponsored tweets are a good fit for your organization.

To learn more about harnessing mobile devices and social media to boost your business, give us a call - or drop us a tweet!

Published with permission from Source.

April 10th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Apr10_AWe’ve all become accustomed to controlling our touchscreen smart phones with our fingers. It is something which just a few years ago seemed unthinkable, as we were grappling with now ancient looking Nokia models. Now the next revolution is on the way - Samsung has recently patented new technology that, if it comes to fruition, will see your phone respond to eye movement as a way of controlling what it does.

Some devices, both from Samsung and other manufacturers, already have security features which enable you to scan your face as a way to unlock your phone. This is the kind of eye control function that we might expect from future Samsung devices employing the technology that is the subject of the company’s latest patent. The patent doesn’t limit the application of this technology to phones, either, meaning that we could well see it deployed on devices like tablets, desktop computers and even televisions.

Imagine being able to play a song in your phone’s music streaming application, simply by blinking. Blink a second time and you could pull up various information about the song and artist - other movements allow you to activate further features in the app, whether that’s increasing the volume, pausing, rewinding or downloading other songs by the same artist. The patent lists eye movements including blinking, keeping them closed, and gazing at one spot for a prolonged period, each of which would be linked to specific in-device actions.

The race to implement technology to enable visual control of cell phones is not a new one - back in 2013, LG accused Samsung of having infringed on one of its eye-tracking patents with features available on the Samsung Galaxy 4S. Prior to the launch of the 4S, LG alleged that the phone’s Smart Pause function, which automatically pauses video when you take your eyes off the screen, violated a patent the company had applied for in 2009, and which covered the same technology on its Optimus G Pro device. However, when the 4S was eventually released, the Smart Pause and Smart Scroll features - the latter of which allows for browser and email scrolling without touching the screen - relied on facial recognition rather than eye tracking.

Similar features are available on Apple devices, and intended primarily for those with motor difficulties. Switch Control allows you to connect a switch to your iOS device for easier access, while since iOS 7.1 it has also been possible to use the device’s camera as a head switch, and then customize the settings to define head movements and which actions they trigger. Nonetheless, the ongoing innovations being attempted by firms like Samsung mean that this kind of device control is likely to become even more common and mainstream in the near future.

To find out how we can help you use the latest mobile technology in your business to drive productivity and greater revenue, contact us today.

Published with permission from Source.

March 11th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Mar06_AIt’s clear that mobile payment platforms represent the future direction of the industry - allowing consumers to break free of traditional cash or card payment methods, and settle bills in ways that are convenient to them. The explosion of mobile payment options and their increased ease of use mean that there has never been a better time for businesses to get on board. And now Google’s shaken things up a bit further, with the announcement of its new Android Pay platform. Here’s what you need to know.

When Google launches Android Pay, it will act as more than just another app like Apple Pay, or Google’s existing Wallet app (which will continue to be in use, and will be powered by Android Pay). This means it will be useful to developers and retailers looking to allow users to make payments for products and services from right within their apps on Android devices.

Apple technology already enables iPhone users to buy goods in real-life stores using near-field communication (NFC), and Google’s Android Pay system will do the same. A similar technology to Apple's is Google’s local storage of bank card information, which takes away the need for you to have a phone signal to make payments. There are also benefits to security - another feature that Android Pay will adopt from its rival is the use of one-time, automatically generated credit card numbers for each transaction. This helps to fight fraud because even if the retailer you shop with subsequently suffers a data breach, any card numbers the fraudsters get hold off would have expired already.

Google ultimately hopes that its Android Pay system will also include support for fingerprint scanning and other security features, further boosting the peace of mind you can have while using it to shop and settle up.

Competition is beefing up in the mobile payment platform arena. While Google Wallet failed to gain much traction when it first launched in 2011 - it was considered by many to be ahead of its time - the recent growth of Apple Pay appears to have revived hope in the Google alternative. What’s more, Samsung recently debuted Samsung Pay, which is big on payment security and will come as default on the latest models of the Galaxy and Edge range of devices. The Samsung system has the potential to quickly achieve far greater reach since, while Apple Pay only works where retailers already have NFC installed, Samsung recently acquired the firm LoopPay, and as a result Samsung Pay will also support the use of conventional magnetic credit card readers.

And even PayPal is moving in on mobile payment territory. Though the company has for some time had its own apps that make it easy to send cash to friends or suppliers, or to make purchases at participating retailers, PayPal is still better known for its web-based payments system. However, PayPal recently acquired Paydiant, a startup due to launch later in 2015 with a competitor to all the other mobile payment platforms, known as CurrentC. It could prove stiff competition indeed, since it’s backed by retailers like Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that your business can ignore the rapid growth of mobile payments. To find out how to leverage them to your benefit, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from Source.