Category Archives: Mobile Applications

Top 5 Apps for Travel

imageWhether you’re a business traveler or just like to hop around the world for leisure, utilizing travel apps on your smart phone device can make jet setting easier. From applications that help you organize an itinerary, to maps that provide details of far away lands you’re visiting, here is a look at the top 5 travel apps you should download to your smart phone device.

TripIt

Are you a disorganized traveler who can’t remember the details of your reservations? Are you a busy business traveler that travels from city to city? Then the TripIt app is for you. Why? Because this app takes the confirmation emails you receive from airlines, trains, hotels and rental car companies and it creates an itinerary for your trip.

The app also updates the departure and arrival gates for your flights as well as provides you directions to the airport. That’s quite a helpful tool when you’re traveling in a city where you’re unfamiliar.

iXpenseit

Keeping tabs on how much you spend when you travel is important for a couple of reasons. First, if you’re traveling for pleasure you want to make sure you’re not blowing your budget between meals and additional expenses you don’t usually have when you’re at home. If you’re on business, then often you’re reimbursed for the money you spend. Whatever the case, iXpenseit will track every penny you spend.

You have the option of pie, bar or standard charts which detail how much money you’re spending. It also lists your top expenses and how close you are to reaching your budget limit. Finally, the app also operates in multiple currencies making tracking international spending a snap.

Weatherbug

One of the toughest parts about traveling is knowing what to wear. While traveling you don’t have all the comforts of home to suddenly change when the weather surprises you. With Weatherbug, you’ll always be prepared. Weatherbug includes weather for your current location including updates of storm warnings and alerts.

The app also lets you check weather throughout the entire United States by simply pointing to that location on the map. This can be quite a handy tool prior to boarding a plane to that city. Finally, the app provides easy to read weather forecasts for up to 10 days.

AroundMe

Need to find a bank? Restaurant? Hotel in a pinch? Then AroundMe is the application for you. While you are probably familiar with where you live, AroundMe will provide information about everything that is around you when you travel to a new location. This can also be helpful when trying to find local area attractions in a new city.

Once you determine where you want to go, AroundMe will provide with directions and contact information in case you need to call the place you are heading.

World Customs & Cultures

When traveling to a foreign country, you want to be mindful and respectful of their customs. However, if you were never steeped in their traditions, how will you know? Enter the World Customs & Cultures application. Things such as eye contact, personal space, communication style and taboos are all discussed.

The app also details views of the time and gender issues that may or may not be present. Downloading this app will ensure that you are always an appropriate traveler.

While these are some of the best travel apps on the market, there are certainly many others that people use. What are some of your favorite apps?

Author Bio:

This is a guest post from Mark Lindstrom who is a savvy shopper trying to save money wherever he can. He uses everything from Priceline discount codes for travel, down to HP promo codes for the ultra book he takes with him.

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Filed under Cell Phone Apps, Guest Writers, iPhone, Mobile Applications, Software

Metia/Seattle’s Andrew Martin Lays Out 2012’s Mobile Trends And Predictions

imageMetia/Seattle’s Andrew Martin, takes a look at the shifts and changes we’re likely to see in the connected devices marketplace in 2012 in his insightful peek into the future. Checkout  Andrew’s list of mobile trends and predictions – see if you agree.

1. Not everyone has a smartphone

a. India, China, Latin America, Middle America – Metropolitan marketers could easily believe that smartphones and iPads are in the hands of everyone on the planet. At best, the majority of consumers are still using feature phones. The future of media will require adapting not just to emerging technology, but to emerging markets. Their needs are different, and you cannot market to them in the same way that you would to metropolitan areas in industrialized countries.

b. SMS still has a higher and faster response rate than email to mobile devices.

2. Mobile websites vs. Mobile applications

a. The line between apps and websites will continue to blur. Users care less and less whether something is an app or a mobile web – they just want content.

b. The technology that brands use to drive their mobile offering needs to be compatible for both experiences. If you can only do one, default to mobile web.

c. Users will decreasingly store app information separately from web information. There will be a drive toward consolidated access points.

3. Platform Fragmentation

a. Brands need to (and are) get(ting) better at addressing the demand for well-branded mobile experiences.

b. With several platforms available, brands have to jump through different development, design, and release hoops for each one.  Smartphones have finally been around long enough that some best practices are taking shape and brands are able to address customer demand better and faster.

c. Fragmentation is increasingly important. 3 years ago there was only iPhone, and now there is also Windows Phone and Android plus multiple tablets, multiple form factors, and different user behaviors regionally. Mobile devices have lost their novelty and are embedded in users’ daily habits – even true in regions that do not have smartphones.

4. Impact of Tablets on mobile

a. Tablets have proven to be extremely easy to use and adopt, as demonstrated by the volume of young children who play with them (did you see the viral video of the toddler who thought that a magazine was a broken iPad?).

The impact of this is that children are being trained to use and understand Natural User Interface (NUI, i.e. touch, gesture, and voice navigation) from a very early age. This will lead to increased adoption and understanding of NUI best practices by this generation.

The current generation of designers and developers were trained in a keyboard and mouse world and must adapt to a touch and gesture world… the latest generation of technology users won’t have any transition or learning curve – they will have a more ingrained understanding of NUI.

5. Mixing brands – client brands blend with platform branding (ex. the AmazonFresh iPhone experience vs. the AmazonFresh WP experience)

a. Having an app is no longer a differentiator – it has to be well branded because competitors have apps too

b. App marketing – it’s not just about creating an application – it’s about creating an application that is unique to the brand.  The UX is an expression of the brand.  This is different than it was a year ago because brands are getting better and smarter at it. Developers are getting better at mobile so they are doing a better job of representing brands on mobile. Best practices finally exist.

6. The trend of location-based marketing & apps

a. Mobile devices make location-based marketing possible.

b. Location-based promotions will be increasingly integrated into marketing programs.

c. Purely location-based social apps like Foursquare will struggle because other platforms like Facebook are integrating location-based features that make location-based apps obsolete.

7. Privacy

a. People will keep talking about it but not doing anything about it.

b. Individual corporate privacy policies are going to involve a cycle of announcing the policy, dealing with fallout, and proceeding once people have moved on. Facebook has demonstrated this repeatedly.

c. People talk about privacy like it’s a hot button, but they are actually very comfortable releasing confidential information (look at how many people broadcast their vacation plans to potential house thieves via twitter).

d. The federal government is finally taking action against abusers of email privacy and spam laws – it took a while. But there will be a trend where the government will take a more active role in pursuing personal privacy issues.

e. Because mobile applications tend to use personal information, this will be a growing issue for mobile application developers to consider.

About Metia:

Digital marketing leader Metia/Seattle is the North American headquarters of global agency Metia Group, headquartered in London with additional offices in New York and Singapore. As digital craftsmen, Metia/Seattle blends a deep understanding of technology with strategy, creative, content, analytics and optimization.

Their results-focused digital marketing solutions are used by brands including Microsoft and AT&T in websites, email, social, digital applications and other online communication programs.

Visit www.Metia.com and www.twitter.com/metiasea

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Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Mobile Applications, Opinion

“Swatting” – Are You A Potential Victim?

imageIn both Canada and the United States, calling 911 (999 in the UK), will put the caller in contact with emergency services including – Police – Fire – Ambulance. In fact, where I live, all these services are dispatched in response to a 911 call.

Luckily, even if the call is interrupted, emergency personnel with access to Automatic Number Identification, coupled with an Automatic Location Identification (ALI) database, can still dispatch emergency response units to the location generated by the system.

In other words, the location from which the emergency call originated is known, and not subject to mistake. Or is it?

Imagine opening your front door – only to be greeted by this.

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Not very likely to happen to you, you’re thinking. Perhaps not – but it does happen to innocent victims and, more to the point, it’s happening with increased frequency. The culprits?  Evil lowlifes who misuse call spoofing technology.

Phone phreaking has a long history – those of us who’ve been around since the 1970s should remember these hackers and their free long-distance calls hacks. Fast forward to today, and what was once a victimless crime (though not entirely so), has taken on ominous overtones.

Call spoofing (showing a phone number in caller ID, other than the real originating number) in it’s most vicious form – “swatting” – can have potentially lethal consequences. The twisted idea behind swatting is – faking an emergency of such a magnitude that the response from law enforcement is the deployment of a  SWAT team to the location generated by the spoofed phone number.

You can well imagine the chaos such an incidence is sure to cause.

From the FBI website:

Needless to say, these calls are dangerous to first responders and to the victims. The callers often tell tales of hostages about to be executed or bombs about to go off. The community is placed in danger as responders rush to the scene, taking them away from real emergencies. And the officers are placed in danger as unsuspecting residents may try to defend themselves.

I must admit; I’ve been completely out of the loop on this one and, until I read the following two newspaper stories this past week, I had no idea of the potential danger.

Toronto man ‘swatted’ by hacker who summoned police

Hacker’s swatting attack calls police to Langley home

Why did they do it?

According to FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kolbye:

Individuals did it for the bragging rights and ego, versus any monetary gain. Basically, they did it because they could.

It’s not my intention, in this article, to describe just how easily a phone number can be spoofed – but, I was hardly surprised to see roughly 2 Million Google search results covering this.

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It’s an unfortunate fact that laws impacting technology issues are seemingly destined to always be in catch up mode. In my view though, this perversion should be addressed with some senses of urgency.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Hackers, Mobile Applications, Software, VOIP

Ditch Facebook – Go Private With Free Flink12

imageThere are 600 Million plus, active Facebook users, but I must confess – I’m not one of the active users. It’s true, I do have a Facebook page but, I use it sparingly.

Since many software developers are now into the – “visit our Facebook page, click on the Like button, and we’ll give you ……….” school of marketing,  I use my Facebook account to meet this manipulative requirement.

My list of grievances with Facebook is a long one, but privacy, or more precisely, the lack of privacy, overrides all other concerns – I’ll leave the considerable security issues aside, for the moment.

I’ve always found it difficult to get a handle on Facebook’s constantly shifting definition of privacy and, it’s difficult to understand and hard to apply, personal privacy restrictions.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I just can’t get my head around the idea of putting private information out into the ether of the Internet. On the other hand, there are those who love the Facebook experience, and it seemingly plays an important role in their lives. I think it’s safe to say, that this is a market which will continue to grow exponentially.

Some people see this as inevitable progress – but I’m not one of them. Instead, my definition of progress in this market, is the development of private social networking platforms. Platforms that are designed specifically for friends, families, and  work teams, to privately share, discuss, organize photos, videos, etc., – all in a single easy to use private environment.

One such platform that caught my attention recently is Flink12. It was a “no-brainer” really. An application that can set out in a sentence, or three, an approach to privacy that meets my requirements, is sure to grab my attention.

Here’s what Flink12 has to say on social sharing privacy:

“Privacy first” is the highest priority at Flink12. This approach ensures that your personal information will remain completely secure. With no privacy settings to manage, your information is automatically safe. Personal information will not indexed on the web by search engines. You decide when, where and how much of your life you want to share and with whom.”

Since Flink12 passed my first test, I went on to the next set of questions – did it meet my requirements for functionality? Did it meet my requirements for usability? It did in both cases – and, the following list of features was very convincing.

Fast facts:

Safe & Private – Our “Privacy first” approach ensures that your personal information will remain private. Your information will not be indexed on the web by search engines. We designed Flink12 at its roots to be “udderly” private. Users have complete control.

Easy Photo Sharing – Easy to upload, free, fast, private photo sharing. Caption your photos. Comment on photos. There are several options for sharing each photo and privatizing comments. It’s truly the best way to share photos and comments.

Private Texting/Chat – Free instant communication one-on-one between you and any person in your Flink. Texting is free on Flink12.

Blogging – Write about your personal thoughts and activities as often as you wish. Blogging on Flink12 is quick, easy and fun. There are several options for sharing of blogs and comments amongst your flinks.

Friend Mapping – See where your friends are anytime, worldwide. You have a choice to show your location to your Flink friends or not. Very useful for travelers or friends and relatives across the globe or meeting up with friends for coffee.

Playful Icon Themes – Never forget to play. Our icons are all about expressing yourself in a playful way. Flink icons are uniquely humorous and allow you to quickly share your mood, health, activities and events using preset text or by entering your own text. Choices of several fun themes such as Moms & Babies, Sports Fans, Diva’s, Teens and Pets are coming soon.

Web & Apps – You can join and update on any platform- website, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android and you only have to post it once- Flink 12 updates seamlessly on all platforms.

Alerts – There are several options for notifications or alerts from your friends. On mobile, MOO’s and cowbells let you know when your friends have posted fresh news.

For more information and to sign up – visit the developer’s site: Flink12

Bottom line:

Flink12 is a technology rich application; full of powerful features – many more than I’ve been able to cover in this short review. At the same time, Flink12 has been designed for speed and simplicity.

If you’re into social networking and privacy is a concern, then take Flink12 for a test drive – I think you’ll be glad you did.

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Filed under Cloud Computing, Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Mobile Applications, Networking, Peer to Peer, Privacy, Social Blogging, social networking, Social Networks, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Control A Remote Computer (And More), With Free TeamViewer

image If you’re a person who’s often asked by friends, to help them, their friends, their neighbors, ……..the list goes on, to reconstruct a computer that is not responding appropriately, has become loaded with malware, etc., then free TeamViewer is worth taking a look at.

TeamViewer connects to any PC, or server, within a few seconds; which allows you to control a remote PC as if you were sitting right in front of it. Best of all, a typical (non geek) computer user using TeamViewer, doesn’t need to know anything about ports or protocols, or any other complicated Firewall jargon.

Some of my friends, who are only moderately techno competent, have used this neat little tool to rescue their family’s and friend’s computers. Most have commented that it feels just as if they were working side by side with the remote user, on the same PC. I second that perception. Awesome!

Running this free screen sharing/remote control application, is simple – perhaps the easiest I’ve used. The user interface is plain, functional, and uncomplicated – as illustrated.

Click graphic to expand to original.

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Since the application has considerable functionality, over and above remote tech support, including file-transfer and business collaboration, there are substantial options available. In the following screen capture, I’ve chosen to illustrate Remote control options.

Click graphic to expand to original.

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To get up and running:

Have your friend/partner/associate etc, download, install and run TeamViewer – then email you the session ID and Password, once they have launched the application.

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Here’s an example of TeamViewer at work.

The following screen captures illustrate that I’ve taken remote control of TeamViewer’s test computer, by entering the session ID and password provided by TeamViewer – acting as the friend/partner/associate.

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Once in control, I opened the remote machine’s WordPad and did a little typing.

Click on graphic to expand

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Once you’ve installed TeamViewer, you can do the same thing to give yourself a little practice.

Fast facts:

One solution for everything – While most competitors offer different packages for remote support, remote administration, training and sales (and also charge for them…) TeamViewer is the one-stop solution for everything you need: TeamViewer includes all modules in one simple and very affordable package.

File transfer – TeamViewer comes with integrated file transfer that allows you to copy files and folders to and from a remote partner – which also works behind firewalls

Highest security standard – TeamViewer is a very secure solution. All versions feature completely secure data channels with key exchange and AES (256 Bit) session encoding, the same security standard used by https/SSL.

Remote support without installation – With TeamViewer you can remotely control any PC anywhere on the Internet. No installation is required, just run the application on both sides and connect – even through tight firewalls.

Remote presentation of products, solutions and services – TeamViewer allows you to present your desktop to a partner. Share live demos, products, and presentations over the Internet within seconds.

Works behind firewalls – The major difficulties in using remote control software are firewalls and blocked ports, as well as NAT routing for local IP addresses. If you use TeamViewer you don’t have to worry about firewalls: TeamViewer will find a route.

Optimized performance – Whether you have a LAN or dial-up connection, TeamViewer optimizes display quality and speed depending on your network connection.

Encryption – TeamViewer includes full encryption, based on RSA private-public key exchange and AES (256 Bit) session encoding. This technology is based on the same standards as https/SSL and is considered completely safe by today’s standards.

Access Protection – In addition to the PartnerID TeamViewer generates a session password that changes with every software start to provide additional security against unauthorized access to a remote system.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7, Mac, Linux, Mobile systems.

Download at:  Team Viewer

Note: A portable version is also available.

Bottom line: If you have the skills, and you have the opportunity to provide tech support to your family or friends, then TeamViewer might just be the tool you’ve been looking for.

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Filed under Connected Devices, downloads, Easy Computer Networking, Encryption, flash drive, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Mobile Applications, Networking, Portable Applications, Remote Tech Support, Software, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

Top 6 Personal Finance Apps for the iPhone

Guest writer, Andrew Salmon, takes a look at financial applications for the iPhone.

image As more and more apps are added to the ever-growing universe in the palm of your hand, that is the iPhone, there are some very good ways to track your spending.

Keeping your finances in check on the go can help you avoid getting in over your head.

Here are the top six financial apps for the iPhone:

6. LoanShark

This app weighs in with a slightly hefty $4.99 price tag, but it could save you thousands in the long run. With LoanShark, you can calculate the actual cost of various loans as well as allowing you to compare interest rates and terms. So while the bank throws figures at you too fast to handle before thrusting the contract in front of you to sign, let LoanShark make sure you’re getting the deal that’s right for you budget.

5. PocketMoney

At only $1.99, PocketMoney is a steal. This easy to use app helps you keep track of your accounts, budget and your spending habits. Plus it easily exports financial data to your desktop’s financial software when it’s time to really number crunch. There’s also a minimum of data entry involved, leaving you more time to hunt out those ever-elusive bargains.

4. PayPal For iPhone

EBay allows you to stay on top of your auctions while you’re away from you desktop by offering real time updates on the status of your bid. You can even change your bid on the go. But how about paying for your item right away? Now PayPal for the iPhone allows you to easily send payments safely and securely. Also, in a snap, you can send funds to anyone on your contact list through use of your existing PayPal account. And it’s free!

3. SplashMoney

You’ll pay $4.99 for this personal finance app but with good money management features added to the ability to connect wirelessly to online banking with full security encryption, you’ll be on top of your finances every step of the way. Pay bills, move funds – all on the commute home – and you’ll free up more personal time when you do cross the threshold and call it a day.

2. Mint.com

Like most financial apps, Mint.com provides real time updates on account balances and tracks your spending habits to help you budget, which is great while travelling or otherwise away from home. However, this app is a free download, which ranks it high on this list. Manage savings, checking and credit cards accounts on the go and at no charge? This is a must have for the on-the-go financial whiz.

1. Moneystrands

The key here is ease of use and flexibility. As another free app, this is one you want on your iPhone. Slick and comprehensive, it’s a budgeting tool that even lets you anonymously compare your personal budget to those of others with a similar lifestyle so you can see how you’re doing in the wallet department. It gives you an up to date snapshot of your financial status and supports 44 worldwide currencies.

This is a guest article by Andrew Salmon of IVA.net – a UK company which has been helping people in debt for over 75 years.

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Filed under cell phone, Cell Phone Apps, iPhone, Mobile Applications, Productivity Software, Software

Cooliris – A Cool to the Max Browser Add-on

If you don’t have Cooliris installed on your computer you’re missing out on the best of what the web has to offer.

Web 2.0 has given us new and exciting ways to utilize the and interact with the Internet. I have to admit, when I stop to consider the benefits of Web 2.0, and the applications that got us here, the first application that comes to my mind is Cooliris.

Not Twitter, and not FaceBook, which, in my view, are just two of the social utilities that have been overhyped to the max, and which continue to be, along with many other social networking applications, tremendous gateways for cybercriminals.

Cooliris, on the other hand is a wonderfully fluid and superbly crafted free add-on for Safari, FireFox, and Internet Explorer, which allows me to interact with the Internet in ways I never considered possible on a web browser.

Cooliris 5

The developers of this free Internet Browser add-on, as well as being the developers of Cooliris Previews, a tool I couldn’t function without, on the Web, are a very talented group of people with true insight into how to create and develop tools to expand our internet horizons.

Expand your own Internet horizons, download and install Cooliris, and while you’re at it, if you’re a FireFox user, download Cooliris Previews. You’ll be glad you did.

Fast facts: (from the Cooliris site)

Search

It’s the fastest way to search Google Image Search, YouTube, Flickr, Hulu, online retailers, and other sites. Zip through search results on the 3D Wall with our search function. Switch engines effortlessly without having to re-enter the search term.

Cooliris 6

Works with hundreds of sites

Cooliris is built around the industry standard Media RSS format, and works on hundreds of sites across the Web.

Slideshows

Double clicking an image or pressing the toggle button brings you to full screen slideshow mode. There, you can play, pause, fast forward, and rewind at will.

Channels: News & Entertainment

Hulu, ESPN, BBC, SonyBMG, MSN, and more …Catch the latest news, sports, and entertainment. Even enjoy full-length movies and TV episodes.*

Preferences

Customize the look and feel of Cooliris – modify the number of rows, background image, wall angle, slideshow speed and more!

Local File Support

Quickly find and view photos stored on your computer. Enjoy images from your Hard Drive, Desktop, iPhoto, and more.

Sharing

Share stuff with friends by dragging and dropping content from the 3D Wall. You can share as many items as you’d like, and even add a personal message.

3D Window Shopping

Window shop some of the world’s largest retailers by comparing products visually on the Cooliris 3D Wall. Highlight an item to learn the price or click the shopping cart icon to jump to the corresponding product page of the retailer.

Cooliris 4

Jump to Page

A picture tells a thousands words, but sometimes you just want to see the detailed story behind it all. Cooliris makes that easy. A click of a button lets you toggle between Cooliris and the corresponding web page of any item.

Favorites

Keep track of the best items in Cooliris by adding it to your own custom feed!

Maximize/Restore

Toggle between full screen and tabbed mode.

System Requirements: Cooliris currently supports FireFox (Windows XP/Vista and Mac), Internet Explorer, and Safari (Mac), iPhone

For a Cooliris video preview checkout YouTube

Download at: Cooliris

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Digital Media, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Graphic Software, Interconnectivity, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Mobile Applications, Multimedia Tools, Safari add-ons, social networking, Software, Website Previews, Windows Tips and Tools