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Telephone Number Trivia

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Artist credit: Brian Glover, Multimedia Designer at Shango.

Wherefore the Wearable Apps?

The first generation of wearable technology is slowly making its move from fantasy to reality. On the way home the other day I saw a guy on a bike wearing Google Glass, and was reminded that they are now ubiquitous enough that a local movie theater in Austin has already famously banned wearing them once the lights dim. Android watches are already available in two varieties: the LG G watch and Samsung Gear Live. As the number of these devices grows, so does the functionality of their technology.

With your Andriod watch, you already have the ability to swipe through notifications on your wrist and access Google search with voice commands, which is amazing on its own. But an even more transformational capability is on the rise: app integration. Now, there aren’t yet a ton of apps available, but the number is growing quickly as existing apps slowly integrate wearable functionality. Some apps are further along functionally than others. For example, on your Android watch you can favorite a tweet, but you’d better be ready to grab your phone to compose one. So, if you own an Android watch, what are some of the apps you should be downloading right now? I’m glad you asked. Here is just a small selection of some of the great apps already available:

  • Evernote Wear/Google Keep: Dictate notes from your wrist, compose to-do lists and check off completed tasks. While Evernote Wear has deeper functionality, Google Keep is a great alternative for people who aren’t Evernote users.
  • Lyft: Look at your watch and say, “OK, Google, call me a car.” Boom, ride summoned to your exact location using GPS. Just look out for the Delorean with all this futuristic action happening.
  • Eat24: Order food. From your wrist. That’s right, you just read that.
  • RunKeeper/Runtastic: Start tracking your run with a simple voice command and see detailed results afterwards. Just don’t leave your phone at home quite yet, keep it on you for full app functionality.
  • DuoLingo: There’s no sweet voice action attached to this app, but you can create language flash cards and kill time learning how to say, “Trust me baby” in 12 different languages.
  • Fly Delta: Board your flight with the flick of a wrist; this app will load your boarding pass onto your watch once you’ve checked in for your flight.
  • Hue Control: If you own a set of Philips Hue lights, there’s an app that will let you control them from your phone. Never walk into a dark house again. Or buy a set for your neighbor and freak them out by turning them on and off from the comfort of your front porch.
  • 1Weather: Get detailed weather forecasts on your watch, see multi day forecasts and notifications without ever having to touch your phone.
  • Level Money: This will show you your last transaction in a connected account, as well as how much is remaining of your budgeted spending cash.

So keep talking to your wrist America, and I promise one day it won’t automatically make me think of this. And keep waiting for the day when the technology will be completely embedded, and we can speak to our actual wrist, instead of a device we wear on top of it. I’m betting that day is not as far off as you might think!

Germany's Telecom Market

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Artist credit: Brian Glover, Multimedia Designer at Shango.

The Life and Death of the Analog Telephone

Phones seem so simple these day; mine even unlocks with just a simple scan of my fingerprint. But I promise you they are far more complicated than they appear. Behind that thing attached to your phone (you know, your phone number) is some form of communication service. There are two main types of phone communication services: analog and digital. Over the past several decades, the industry has slowly been shifting towards digital, making the analog service an endangered species of sorts. Our friends over at Software Advice have made a fantastic infographic detailing the rise and fall of analog phone service.

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Artist credit: Craig Borowski and the team at Software Advice.

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American Cell Phone Use

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Millennials: The Technology Generation Part II

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Millennials: The Technology Generation Part I

Millennials (born 1977-1995, also known as “Generation Y”) currently make up 24% of the U.S. population, equal to both Boomers (1946-1964) and Generation Z (1995-present). This makes them one of the three most influential generations present in American society today. Even so, business leaders from older generations have had a hard time relating to this group, often touting complaints about Millennials’ low  spending levels, the high level of internet noise they create, their lack of the kind of work ethic previous generations are used to, their general sense of entitlement, and other issues. When asked what makes their generation unique, “Technology Use” was far and away the clear winner grabbing 24%, followed by “Music/Pop Culture” at 11%. The Millennial contributions to technology are large, with social media and app development leading the way.

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Indeed, Millennials highly value honesty and realness from stores they frequent, products they purchase, and brands they evangelize. A lot of their spending is tied to localism and regional pride; they crave local products and small community shopping. Aside from authenticity, Millennials value the social impact of the goods they purchase and the brands they stand behind and endorse. Think about brands like Tom’s, a line of basic canvas shoes that donates a pair of shoes to a child in need with each purchase, as an example of the Millennials’ commitment to social impact when purchasing goods. Other generations might pass on a basic product at a premium price, but Millennials are willing to pay more to support a brand dedicated to a meaningful cause. They are also 60% more likely to pay more for a product that is less harmful to the environment, and are committed to lowering their carbon footprints.

What does this mean for brands that want to appeal to this generation? Cause marketing will be the main focus for any company wanting to make a splash in the pool of Millennials. Gone are the days of fancy, over-produced advertising campaigns. Millenials don’t care about your expensive commercials; when was the last time your company had a volunteer day? They don’t care about how much you spend on print ads; why is your product the best choice for the environment?

I’m going to switch tone now and speak to you from my perspective, because I am a Millennial and these are my peers. We are the generation responsible for Facebook, hashtags, and check-ins. We have raised awareness for sustainable living, equality, and community activism. We started the Occupy movement, #noh8, and helped vote to legalize marijuana in 2 states and elect the first black President. The list of websites, games, apps and services we’ve contributed technology for is staggering. Just to name a few: Snapchat, Pinterest, Bitcoin, Tumblr, Quora, Whisper, Lyft, Dropbox, Flappy Bird, and Candy Crush Saga.

So before you get frustrated as a product or service provider from a different generation, remember that Millennials are just looking for different things and utilizing social media, mobile technology and promoting social causes is the best way to gain our trust and business. And before you complain about us online, don’t forget we probably invented the website you’re doing it on.

Note: The statistics referenced in the article above were quoted from the 2014 Neilsen report Millennials – Breaking the Myths. The years for the Boomers, Z-ers, and Millennials are based on Neilsen’s operational definition and vary according to individual sources.

References:

United Kingdom's Telecom Market

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Singapore: The Future of Mobile Communication

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Singapore is a great place to look if you want to know the future of mobile communication. Just consider these incredible statistics on Singaporeans and their cell phones.
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Privacy Brothers & the Case of the Disappearing Texts

We’ve already established that more and more young people are turning to alternative social media sites to avoid parents and relatives. Snapchat gave us a bright, shiny promise of something that had previously seemed impossible: the ability to send self-destructing texts. Inspector Gadget style technology that thousands of users got on board with. Only one problem: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Turns out Snapchat images don’t vanish as quickly and easily as you think. First, most smartphone users know how to take a screenshot, which Snapchat addressed by introducing notifications to the user when this occurs. However, with a quick internet search one could readily find several apps that allow you to bypass that notification, letting users’ screenshot until their heart’s content. Last week, after being charged with misrepresentation, Snapchat settled with the Federal Trade Commission, agreeing to be more forthcoming with its users about privacy.

The smartphone privacy debate has made it all the way to Capitol Hill. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case that will affect search and seizure laws as they apply to smartphones. Will a locked phone be ruled as protected under the Fourth Amendment? Or will law enforcement be able to use the information found within their phones against consumers?

Our phones have so quickly become an extension of ourselves that even an innocent person may hesitate to hand over the contents. As our devices get smarter, they hold even more data, including banking information, medical records, calendars, personal photos and communications. Privacy concerning smartphones is an increasingly important issue, as evidenced by Snapchat and other apps and services aimed at protecting privacy and identity. Laws and regulations typically lag behind emerging technology, but with the FTC and the Supreme Court getting involved, it seems as though changes are on the horizon. Hopefully, a balance can be found between protecting individual privacy and protecting the public, and determining who has rights to what information.

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