Coming soon! – iBeacons

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iBeacons-Coming to a venue near you soon!

It seems to be on the lips of every marketing agency, it’s the buzzword of the year, it’s the retailers recurring fantasy come true, it’s the ….  ” but …  but……WAIT a minute!!  surely it’s just a bit of technology and it’s got some obvious retail and other public space applications”. Thanks Homer.

iBeacons use Bluetooth 4 technology to broadcast messages to Mobile phones. The iBeacon itself is inexpensive and mobile. They can be put almost anywhere. Imagine you are at a rock concert and the merchandiser wants to get a message to all the audience in front of the stage, or arriving in their thousands at Wembley Stadium… but how?.. what about pairing?, what about distance and …..hold on there fellah !  with the iBeacon there’s no need to have paired devices and the range is typically greater than you would associate with standard Bluetooth, up to 50 metres at the moment. Imagine the potential  where the beacon could reach every one of the tens of thousands of people walking down Wembley Way towards or away from the stadium. The possibilities are many and varied for selectively blatting a message to these passers-by as they exit a game, hungry, thirsty and tired perhaps. Hotels/restaurants, bars , burger joints and hot dog vans  alike will be able to entice people with direct marketing appeals at specified events  turning it on or off like a tap as their facility fills to capacity…………..or their beer runs out….ibeacon2

When will this “hit the streets” so to speak? Well…that’s a good one, it’s definitely about to land in a significant way, in fact, 200 million iOS devices can already serve as transmitters and receivers  – yes, Apple have built in  the technology and it’s called Apple iBeacon into the iOS7iPhone operating system.  To be clear, the Apple iPhone beacons are two way iBeacons for receiving a signal and for transmitting.  There are other,  third party beacons, which simply act as transmitters of data /messages which are received by the iPhone and numerous Android devices too including the ever popular galaxy range from Samsung.

…. Any more objections?  Yes sure, what powers these iBeacons?  – great point, they are low energy, have self contained power source – (cell battery!), so can be installed and left alone (low maintenance) and are thought to have a battery span of about 2 years…. since they work on pulse rather than continuously draining a battery… Yes two years!. Next.? How does it work in practice…? Ahaah, OK, yes… well,… from a user perspective it’s a case of “Wow – where did that come from?”. But in fact When a smartphone enters within an  iBeacon’s range (up to 50m), the beacon’s signal triggers content from either a local database or cloud-based storage. The smartphone user will see a notification on their home screen saying a discount, incentive or appropriate product is available at such and such a place .  What if the phone is locked? It gets to them even if the phone is locked, relax.ibeacon3

That’s what I’m talking about, targeted marketing , targeted by time, place, people events products …what about putting this into a shop, there’s a special offer on those shoes, lets hit everyone within 15 metres of the shoe shop with this offer, lets sell shoes !….and everything else besides. Beacons will be used in all sorts of public spaces to inform as well as to sell. Maybe airports will use them to direct people to the right gate, maybe an art gallery will have information on the artwork on its walls and a guide through the building to keep those crowds moving. Crowd control is a really big business in the days when mass participation activities seem to be on the increase through the marketing efforts of social media. These iBeacons may be the link on the ground that contacts and communicates any number of kinds of information to the crowds once they get together at the venue. iBeacons are here folks… let’s get ready to ……..er… be…. contacted. Yeeey!

 

 

Attention all Gadget Thiefs!

What is the last thing you look at before going to bed and the first thing you wearily gaze at in the morning? For a growing number of people it is their smartphone. Smart phones are now engrained in society with 7 out of 10 people owning them. Phones are now an extension of ourselves, holding our pictures, music, contact details, and apps. So imagine having your precious device lost or worse yet stolen.  Until recently a stolen smart phone was a very easy thing to sell on, there’re expensive, portable and in high demand.  Now authorities are catching up with the thieves.

Authorities from around the world have put imagespressure on Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Apple to add a “kill switch” to all devices.  Apple and Samsung devices have already implemented this function and it has been proven that it works. In the first 5 months of this functionality the number of reported thefts of iPhone’s in London dropped by 24%.

These are known as “hard Kill Devices” meaning once activated the phone essentially becomes worthless.  “An activated kill switch converts an easy-to-sell, high-value multimedia device into a jumble of plastic and glass, drastically reducing its street value.” said the report by New York Attorney General.

With 3 million smartphones stolen each year it has become a multi billion pound monster.  This type of functionality is long overdue.  Organised crime routinely target phones as a mean for income since it often is more valuable than people’s wallets or purses. “Almost a third of US robberies involve phone theft.”  There are however concerns over people hacking this functionality being used by malicious hackers remotely deactivating peoples phones and the mill switch can be avoided by putting the phone into air-plane mode.  Other critics state that this will only work for the phones as a complete piece, not stripping down the phone for parts.

With technology advancing all the time, phones get better and better and we are storing more of our lives in them. So it is about time that we take phone security more seriously and develop phones with security systems already installed in the device and not have to rely on third party apps that could potentially be a security risk.

Microsoft plans on rolling out anAntiTheft-e1330012035815 update including this lock by July 2015 and Google has said they will implement Activation Lock on all new devices manufactured and in the next major Android update all phones running the most current OS will be protected. With all the major players in the phone industry agreeing to this it is calculated that 97% of the smartphone market place will be protected by a kill switch resulting in a huge loss to crime around the world.

 

Apps that Change the World.

phpiha5jx“Apps really do change our daily lives” How many times have we heard that old chestnut? But unless you are one of the increasingly small proportion of adults not using a smartphone in your daily life,  it is actually true. There are genuinely aspects of our world are being changed by the digital toolbox we carry around with us in the form of mobile apps.

Yes we all benefit from those little conveniences offered by Google Maps, or mobile banking whilst waiting for the next bus or taxi.  And speaking of taxis, the world of technology has until now had muted impact and certainly seemed irrelevant to the 65,000strong army of Black Cab drivers who crisscross the nation’s capital delivering everything from paupers to princes to some destination or another. Somehow that stable of London society, so often a feature in the media and cultural world seemed beyond the reach of the technological advances happening elsewhere in the Capital’s diverse economy.

But quite suddenly everything has changed. The digital revolution is reaching parts of our lives that up to now have been otherwise unaffected by technology. The London cabbie, much to his/her chargrin is now not protected by their hard earned knowledge driven ability to pick out a route from Billingsgate to Big Ben in the fastest, or most scenic, or most tranquil manner according to instruction. Tourist, businessperson or casual traveller is all now being presented with options which could seriously cut into the income of our traditional Cabbie.  Indeed, the acquisition of “The Knowledge”, whist still the holy grail for genuine Black Cab drivers in London, is no longer the barrier it once was to entry into this lucrative marketplace.

UBER taxi service is the app which is causing concern amongst the London Black Cab drivers having gained such prominence that it is muscling in on the extremely lucrative Black Cab industry. So what’s so transformative about this app? Well, unlike the traditional Black cab mode of operation this app allows its user to pre book a ride after agreeing a fare and even pay in advance by credit card! Tipping is positively discouraged! “The idea is very simple – if you want a taxi, you look at the app on your phone, see where the nearest car is and order it. You can then watch the little icon on screen as it approaches. The payment is taken from the registered credit card.”

Convenience is our world’s greatest mantra so this app hits the traditional Cabbie approach to “Fares” with a sharp undeniable punch. But the key benefit to the user is the way it tells them where their ride is, how long till it collects them and much more information about their coming journey. This is the point surely; Information is king.  So if the service empowers the user it has a distinct edge over the competition.  IN best social media tradition the clients can even “rate” their ride giving the driver pause for thought is attempting any inappropriate manoeuvres!

The world of mobile apps has impacted for better or worse on so many areas of life in their brief history. What are the best mobile apps that you have heard of or seen in action?  Send us your views on these digital tools.

Texting whilst driving

Texting whilst driving …a concept that is familiar to one and all on the roads of Britain. Whether its a sneaky one word text at traffic lights or a novella during a run up the motorway, its something that society acknowledges is happening to a lesser or greater degree. So, hey, what’s the problem?  Well, to borrow words of veteran football commentator John Motson, “it only takes a second to …er.. kill someone by accidentally driving into them” actually his words are just the start of that sentence of course. The point being whether it’s a 1 second text or a ten minute effort, the risk of making a driving error during that time is immense. In driving terms you can drive 50 metres in a second or less so that little cute message to your friend may turn out to be your infamous last words.

The number of times I see people talking on phones whilst driving beggar’s belief. If they are not texting or talking they are looking at phones whilst driving presumably reading a Facebook banality (boo hiss) or writing a text, or maybe just placing a bet, reading the news, or whatever their passion may be. The thought that this selfish action could end someone’s life, cripple or maim some innocent on in another vehicle, or on the pavement or zebra crossing or whatever seems of little interest to these self-centred morons.

Motoring organisations including, the AA say that they find that some drivers appear “addicted to texting and  using smartphones, it’s an addiction that is very hard to break even when in the car — it will take some system to help people break that addiction.”

Meanwhile the road safety charity Brake, labels the activity “a “widespread menace” which has been shown to slow driver reaction times by 35% and increase the likelihood of a crash by 23 times for commercial drivers.”

Therefore it is with unashamed self-righteousness that I welcome the proposed new developments coming out of the Apple orchard of technological loveliness…they have proposed a method that would prevent this kind of distraction and indeed disable the functionality of certain smartphone actions when an iPhone user is driving. Apple have  applied for patents such as one describing  “a “driver handheld computing device lock-out” system that detects when a user is driving using on-board sensors or pulling information from the car when connected, blocking the use of text messaging or using other smartphone functions from the person driving”.

Apple recognise that this habit of attempting to multi task whilst already multi-tasking (driving) is anti-social. So hats off to Apple, let’s wait for their next update on this but on the face of it any effort to reduce the risk of innocents being wiped out or maimed by idiots behind the wheel is a great step forward.

 

IFCS’s Foster Care App

IFCS’s Foster Care App - App Developers UK

IFCS’s Foster Care App - App Developers UK

Independent Foster Care Services have just released a smartphone app aimed at helping prospective foster carers.The iPhone app provides a valuable social service by bringing together various sources of information. These include pod casts of interviews, application forms and some tasters for the many training modules available.

The app gathers information for the user too, enabling the IFCS head office to make initial assessments and to follow up with appropriate individuals. Of course, the long term aim is to make Fostering a much less daunting process for those who have considered it. With this in mind the Advice Links are invaluable as in the general information about how to become a Foster Carer.

The look and feel of the app has been designed to be as straight forward as possible. The design is clean and navigation is completely intuitive with main menu features taking the user into each topic where a sub menu allows for further detail to be accessed. Here at App Developers UK we are proud to have been a part of this process and hope that by developing the app for IFCS we can help promote this service. If you know of anyone considering becoming a Foster Carer please point them in direction of the IFCS app
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The Google Bill Settler

going-dutchThe Google Bill Settler is upon us, well its coming soon anyway….

You know how awkward it can be at the point in a meal when the bill is produced.  There are 4 of you and one of you didn’t have a sweet, or was driving so had nothing to drink. So the bill comes in and everyone is wondering “how are we going to split this up fairly?”. Well its easy if you can all agree to work it out and add up the parts you are responsible for and pay accordingly. But, in fact that’s the socially awkward part because no one likes to point out that “hey, I only has a salad!”.  So somehow it ends up unfairly split either someone pays too much or someone else pays too little.

Our friendly and ever present master of the digital Universe, Google, has now addressed the problem, has filed a patent for the technology and is working to release a smartphone app which tracks payment transactions between a group and works out who owes what exactly after a joint activity be it a meal, taxi or holiday. What’s more it takes care of the messy business of transferring funds between the respective accounts of these people in the group. But o make it work there is still a need to input the amounts involved and assign them to a joint account which has been set up for the purpose. Let’s hope there are no bugs, that could be a recipe for disaster. Well in my opinion this could cause more problems than it may solve so not one for immediate download. It just moves the argument a little bit further down the digital route instead of resolving the issues. It provides a neat way for doing the maths but the discussion still needs to be had as to who had what and who owes this that or the other.

Maybe this is the point I am coming to…apps cannot necessarily add to your quality of life. They may do, and they may seem essential in some cases and some situations but as consumers we need to be on our guard against spurious apps that simply digitise an issue rather than resolving it. perhaps this is being a little harsh…the proof will be in the pudding.(eek!)

Apple iWatch

Apple iWatch is a soon to be seen item to be added into the category of “Wearable Technology”. As Google Glass ramps up for its big push in 2014….Apple are already pushing hard with their iWatch. We noted the trend toward the iWatch type device some time ago but now Apple are really pushing ahead and have plans afoot to ship their iWatch in vast quantities in 2014. The mock up below has been seen across the internet for a considerable time. As to how close to reality this mock up may turn out to be, is unclear.

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It seems likely that the iWatch will be hitting the shelves at around £130.00. But what will it do and what’s the point? Well it’s a watch, it will tell the time…..yes, and….? Well it’s unclear and as always with the new products bought to the world by large tech companies there’s a degree of mystery and cloak and dagger so that rival firms (Samsung are also in the game apparently) cannot get the jump on features and looks. But there must be an upside for them somewhere with that sort of price tag its got to do more than tell the time! Maybe it will link to the Glasses, or to your iPhone, or ….we don’t really know.

 According to Bloomberg, Apple has a team of around 100 designers working on “a wristwatch-like device that may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad” Maybe the burgeoning fitness apps will sit well on the iWatch for performance monitoring and ready visibility it seems a good fit. But that’s pure conjecture, nothing more, nothing less.Only time will tell for certain…groan….”watch” this space (double groan).

The Canal & River Trust’s eNatureWatch app

mzl.ciwsksnh.320x480-75AppDevelopersUK.com  have re developed the Canal & River Trust’s  eNatureWatch app.

Press Release July 2013 from the C&RT.

USE YOUR EYES AND IPHONE TO PROTECT WATERWAY HABITATS

Following a national report earlier this year stating that 60% of more than 3,000 animal and plant species have declined in the UK in the past 50 years, the Canal & River Trust today [Monday 29 July] launches Great Nature Watch – a campaign to get members of the public to help to protect 2,000 miles of waterway habitats.

The old industrial routes of canals and inland waterways have become a unique corridor for wildlife, providing essential shelter, food and breeding grounds.  The habitats they provide are helping to support many of the UK’s most valuable, yet threatened wildlife species such as kingfishers, butterflies and dragonflies.

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With the State of Nature Report highlighting that ‘freshwater and wetland habitats occupy just 3% of the UK’s surface but support around 10% of our species’, the Trust is asking for help to map its waterside habitats to ensure they remain a thriving place for hundreds of animal and plant species.

By using a free app called enaturewatch, or online via the Trust’s website, visitors will be asked a series of questions which will help paint the picture of a cross section of canal or river habitat being surveyed.

Peter Birch, Head of Environment for the Canal & River Trust, says: “Our ultimate aim is to ensure there are plenty of habitats for wildlife to move up and down our waterway corridors, through city centres, as well as remote parts of the countryside.  We’re hoping Great Nature Watch can support the great environmental progress we’ve made over the years. People power can make a big difference so we hope visitors to our canals or rivers will get round as much of our waterway network as possible and help create a ‘living map’.

“The countryside has been fragmented over the last 50 years with increasing urban environments.  Our 2,000 miles of waterway corridor are unique and we need to do all we can to keep them this way as we’re seeing so many species struggling for survival.  To do this, it’s vital that we continue to learn more about the state and health of our habitats so that we can help them flourish through our ecology work.”

Whilst out on the towpath, budding environment enthusiasts and families will be able to learn about what they see through a ‘spotter’s guide’, a section of the app designed to teach people about the wildlife, plants and trees that can be found on the towpath.

The revamped free enaturewatch app is available from iTunes and Google Play.  For more information on Great Nature Watch please visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/great-nature-watch.

For media enquiries please contact:Claire Risino, National Campaigns ExecutiveT: 0203 204 4430  M: 07785 920 863   E: claire.risino@canalrivertrust.org.uk

Every day 1.5 million newly activated Android devices

Every day 1.5 million newly activated Android devices join the 900 million already out there. It’s hard to imagine the seemingly non stop demand for new Android devices, but here’s proof. The story mirrors and probably eclipses the Apple success curve.

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Only 5 short years have passed since Android phones were launched.  The positive for Google is that the more of the devices there are, the more apps get downloaded, it’s a perfect model. There are already a total of over 900 million devices worldwide on the Android system and at this rate it’s only going to be 6 months until the billionth device goes live. Staggering numbers which must be daunting for all the competition no matter which part of the world it is coming from.

Ok so niche markets will continue and Apple will continue its fantastic success story but with Google’s Android platform becoming so prevalent, surely  something’s gotta give !

But maybe the bigger concept to muse on here is that the position of Android is strengthened by it being increasingly seen as a solution for all sorts of electronic chip based gadgetry.  Cameras’ TV box’s, tablets basic browsing laptops and watches all come into the Android sphere with increasing frequency.  HPAndroid_One_Billion_2017-630x354 has already started pushing Android on it’s notebooks and PC’s. Next year they will probably start pushing Android to enterprise more seriously, too, and into more sales channels, where they are now pushing Windows PC’s. Google browser, Maps, phones, glass, and so on.  Pretty high profile business and pretty good foothold in our modern technology lead lives. Google recently announced 48 billion application downloads and as more devices go live so too will the sale of the Android app accelerate. This diversity gives Android a depth which perhaps rivals will envy.

Apple:50 Billion downloads.Android poised to overtake!

 

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Apple hit 50 Billion downloads. Android poised to overtake! As reported on this blog Apple are now proud to have announced the 50 billionth app download. It’s a breath-taking number in a breath-taking world of technical accomplishment.  What makes this so noteworthy is the fact that at present smart phone penetration is still only around 50% of mobile phone users.  It is predicted that by 2017 the penetration rates in Europe will reach 80 to 90%, increasing the number of potential customers for the App store and its competitors. Penetration of Smartphones in the USA lags someway behind Europe. There is therefore obvious potential for this number to accelerate towards 100 billion in the coming years is clear.

The App store has only been open for 5 years. Its “doors” opened in July 2005 with only 500 apps available to download. That number has grown to a current choice 850,000 different apps across 23 different categories. As if that’s not enough, these apps are available alongside a further half a million or so across the other major platforms.

In fact whilst Apple celebrates this milestone the fact is that Google’s Android platform is poised to take a more prominent position in the market and currently there are 500 million more Android apps from Google Play per month beingdownloaded.  There are now 900 million Android based devices out there as compared to 600 million Apple devices.  Google claims that it has had 48 billion downloads to date and is achieving 2.5 billion per month compared to Apple’s 2 billion monthly downloads. The trend is set for the coming months. Android will be pushing for top spot in the app distributing business sooner than those at Apple may wish to admit.

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