With the holiday season upon us, we tend to start thinking about how our waistlines have a nasty habit this time of year of expanding as this year comes to a close and the new one begins. Fear those Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas cookies no more- we’ve found fitness apps that will help you stay active and healthy this holiday season so you can start your new year off on the right foot.
A personal favorite, Spotify offers two levels of service: Free and Premium. Premium is $10 a month (unless you’re currently enrolled in higher education, you get the service 50% off see details here), and includes the best features Spotify has to offer. In Premium you can save playlists, shuffle them, download the playlists or just certain songs to be available offline, so if you’re ever not in service you can still access your tunes. Premium also allows you to access Spotify on your phone and for this reason alone you should consider upgrading from free. In the free version of the app, you can access Spotify from your phone and you can create playlists- but you can’t shuffle through songs or make the song available offline. Additionally you can’t play whatever song you want on demand, you’ll just be at the mercy of the AI software. Spotify also just recently announced it is expanding its features on the mobile device. These features include: streaming TV shows and original video content, podcasts and radio shows, discovery tools, and a jogging buddy. Whew- and all for still their set premium price a month. Spotify is on its way to becoming a fully loaded app, but keep in mind it’s only being released for iOS at first, so if you have an Android your release date is TBD. On the home screen of the app, you can browse other user playlists and can also view and listen to Spotify created playlists. Connecting with your friends is easier too- just simply locate their profiles and you can follow any playlist they create and be up to date with whatever they’re adding and removing from their list. Although Spotify has come under recent fire from notable celebs like Taylor Swift for not paying artists enough, as long as you’re not bummed about not listening to “Shake It Off”, Spotify remains a dominant music service.
*Bonus! Google announced that Spotify will be available for streaming for their new Audio Chromecast, coming soon.
Pros: Spotify is expanding and including video and TV/ low price/ fully loaded running section
Cons: The latest and greatest is only available for iOS/ free version isn’t all that great- so you’ll definitely be paying to access all the best features/ in recent months lots of popular artists have left the streaming service
$4.99/month (For College Students)
Play Music (Google)
As Google already owns almost all of my information, it only seems fitting that I have myself used Play Music for my musical needs. One of the greatest things Google Play offers is that they circulate free albums for download from time to time on their site. These aren’t incredibly old, outdated albums either- in recent weeks available for download have been the full Sia album, Jason Derulo album, and the Cole Swindle album. As the holidays approach, Google will release holiday albums for free that you can download right into your library. Like Spotify, Play Music also features “Mood” Playlists (like for “Driving”, “Cleaning the House”). Additionally they also give you recommended radios based off artists you listen to frequently, or an “I’m Feeling Lucky” Station that just pulls from your favorite artists from different genres. Depending on how many songs you have in your repertoire, Google lets you store up to 50,000 songs for free which includes uploading music to the cloud and transferring files to a specific device (like from computer to phone).You can also upload your files onto Play Music, so that you can have access to your own musical library in the Google Play App, wherever you are. If you subscribe to Play Music you get your first 30 days free, then $9.99/month afterwards. Subscribing entitles you to ad-free listening and unlimited skips- so you can imagine what non-subscription subjects you to (Say hello to only 6 skips per HOUR and tons of ads). Play Music rivals Spotify’s prices, but they have some of the artists that recently left Spotify.
*Bonus: Google announced at their Sept. 29th event that they will be releasing a Family Plan later this year, which allows up to 6 profiles to be created on one plan, for only $14.99/month
Pros: Free (surprise) album downloads/ great mood playlists/ all artists are on Google/ store 50,000 songs for free/ upload your own music into the Google Play Music/ works great with Droids and Apple products
Cons: Non subscriptions features are bad, meaning they’re going to get you to pay for the service.
Prime Music (Amazon)
Prime Music boasts an impressive sized library, over a million songs, from all the top artists (including Taylor Swift) that can be listened to ad-free with unlimited skips. If you already have been buying your songs through Amazon (MP3’s and CD’s), your music is already in the Amazon library, so Prime Music will make the most sense for you. Prime Music also has Prime created playlists for any mood or any day of the week. Utilizing personalization, the more you listen the more personalized stations will become for you since you can “thumbs up” songs you like and “thumbs down” songs you don’t (Hmm, sounds a little bit like our friend Pandora doesn’t it?). Bonus! Prime Music is included with your Prime membership, which is good because we all know those memberships are not cheap. However, if you’re a student and you have a Student Prime Membership, then this is the best built in music service for you. Like Spotify, there is a download option in which you can download songs from Prime Music onto your mobile device so if you ever don’t have an internet connection, like when you fly or are driving out in the middle of nowhere, you can listen to the music in your catalog.
Pros: Included in your Prime Membership/ no ads/ stations that personalize over time to your taste
Cons: You have to have a Prime Membership in order to enjoy this “Free” perk. But Prime Memberships are cool too though, right? It personalizes your stations and musical preferences like Pandora, but for a lot more.
$49.99/year (For College Students)
Ah, Apple Music. Starting off you get a free 3 MONTH trial membership, which beats out every other music app we’ve discussed thus far. Apple also takes care to mention that you can experience all the glory that is Apple Music across all different platforms (meaning it works on PC and Droids, not just Apple products). When your trial is over and you have to pay, Apple offers Individual and Family- Individual means you get access to the entire Apple Music library, recommendations for songs and artists you may like, the newest music, and unlimited skips on their radio stations. For Family, where up to 6 people can enjoy the unlimited access to Apple Music on their own devices, is great for the monthly price but this feature really only works seamlessly with Apple products, and not so seamlessly if someone has a different non-Apple device. So what do you miss out on if you don’t pay? Unlimited listening, being able to add Apple Music content to your library, being able to save for offline listening, and the expert music recommendations. Basically, you don’t get any of the cool features and you’re subjected to hours or advertisements interjected throughout your listening.
Pros: 3 month free trial- enough said. Family is a great deal for the price for 6 users to share Apple Music content and perks.
Cons: Family doesn’t make sense if you’re not all Apple users/ really only prefers Apple users, Droids will struggle with this music app
Pandora is definitely one of the more grandfathered in streaming services out there. Personalization is at the heart of Pandora’s radio platform but like many other streaming services, there are two hierarchies in the Pandora world. Known for its thumbs, you can thumb up or a down a song and now you can even go back through your session history to give a track you may have missed a thumb up or down. With their “Add Variety” feature, you can add other artists or songs to stations you’re listening to and even now rename the stations. You can even tell Pandora when you’re tired of listening to a track they seem to play all too often on your station. In their settings you can create Alarm Clocks and Sleep Timers so that you can wake up and fall asleep to your favorite songs. Another favorite feature is the “Shuffle Stations”, in which you can select several stations and command Pandora to shuffle through them, giving you the ultimate variety. Pandora One is the name of their paid service, the higher tier, the no ad version. More skips, no ads, fewer time outs with Pandora asking if you’re still listening- for dirt cheap.
Pros: It’s cheap! The free version is pretty great as well, so you can get away with never paying.
Cons: You can’t make playlists or make songs available offline, so Pandora listening is limited to Internet connection locations only. Also, just like the radio, you’re subject to randomization.
$4.99/month OR $54.89/year*
*(The year rate saves you $0.42/month)
So which one is the best?
Overall, your preference for the music app you choose to use largely revolves around what you specifically value. For those looking for more user control, Spotify may be more for you. But if you’re a student who already uses Amazon Prime, Prime Music is free so it’s budget friendly if you’re already an Amazon junkie. Apple Music offers a 3 month free trial which makes it a great option for those who are indecisive. In any case, it’s good to do your research on the different apps that are out there for music before you commit yourself to a monthly membership with any of the services mentioned above. Consider factors like what specific features are you getting if you pay, how much do you value those features, and how much of a deal breaker are the cons of each app. From there you can make a better decision and ultimately pick the best music app for your lifestyle.
Pinterest is one the rise. According to research recently done by Pew, roughly “31% of Internet users have an account with the service”, which although that may not sound like a lot- that’s 31% of all internet users you may not be reaching with your current internet marketing.
If you’re not familiar with the platform, Pinterest provides users with the ability to create “Boards”, which are places they can pin photos that they group together based off common themes. Most commonly you’ll hear about how Pinterest is great for wedding planning, since you can create boards about “My Dress”, “Dream Venue”, “Wedding Designs”, etc. So how can you use this for real estate?
As summer comes to a close, it’s important to start fall off on the right foot. We’ve been searching for some of the coolest apps that are currently out on the market and went ahead and complied a list of our three personal favorites we’ve seen. Ranging from Hootsuite for your social media, Open Home Pro for hosting your Open Houses, all the way to keeping you up to date on that latest going on with SmartNews; these three apps will keep you on your toes and ready for anything this coming season.
Managing your social media is a full time job and Hootsuite recognizes that. Hootsuite helps to simplify brand awareness over multiple social media channels. You don’t want keeping up with your social media to consume the bulk of your time, but you don’t want to disappear as a social presence. Hootsuite helps with organizing your apps and keeping track of your home screen on the application and any mentions, likes, etc that are being done on your profiles. This way you can keep track of the home feed and be updated of customer interactions with your sites so that you’re able to stay on top of everything in one seamless design. In fact, Hootsuite just announced that they have now added Instagram, which can help up your online social media game through photos.
Additionally, you can even schedule posts to send at certain times and track posts all from the simple dash. Hootsuite even allows you to monitor the analytics on your various platforms. We here at Aumnia use Hootsuite to keep track of our social media platforms in order to make sure we haven’t become a ghost to the internet. Hootsuite also has a very user friendly interface which is great for those of you who are still not so sure how social media sites work yet. The free version of Hootsuite allows you to add up to five social media sites, which for smaller businesses is ideal because it’s free and you probably don’t own more than five sites. For $8.99 you can pay to upgrade and add up to fifty media sites and you can add a team member to the account so they can also keep track and look on with you. The only thing to be careful on with Hootsuite is that some of their analytics data that they’re keeping track for you will cost money to obtain. I would still recommend trying out Hootsuite, but Google Analytics is my friend for research (Which I’ll touch on in another post soon). In any case, Hootsuite is a social media dashboard app to try and see if it helps you to personally better organize your online presence. Go here to download Hootsuite to get started.
Open Home Pro
Ditch the pen and paper of the past and say hello to your new favorite tablet application. In real estate, open houses are one of the most important ways to meet with prospective clients and bring you that much closer to closing a deal. Open Home Pro removes the need to have visitor’s write down their name and contact information as they tour through, instead providing a simple sign in process through the app that then saves all visitor’s information. After the open house, Open Home Pro even sends emails to follow up with those prospective clients that toured the home that day. There are two tabs on the page- Lisitings and Leads. With Lisitings you can view the properties that you have up; in addition to photos you can post about the home.With Leads, once you have prospective clients information the app will tell you if they’re working with another agent or not and if they are pre-approved for a mortgage. Almost sounds too good to be true, right? The app allows you to pay extra a month to upgrade to their Premium version of the app, but so far the free version works just great. The app also works great with both the iPad and Android tablets which allows everyone in the office to utilize the time saving benefits of the application. As mentioned the app is free– so take it for a trial run and let us know what you think!
Staying up to date on the latest news has never been easier thanks to SmartNews, a mobile news app that is completely customizable to what you want to know about what’s going on in the world. At the top of SmatNews are several tabs that you can customize, the only static one being top news from around the world. Examples of SmartNews tabs are World, Entertain, Lifestyle, Biz, Tech, and so forth. In addition to these broad categories, SmartNews also allows you to follow specific news sites like CNN, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, and Inman. You can always add more or less tabs depending on how many sites you want to be updated on daily. Additionally, SmartNews will send you a “Morning Update”, “Midday Update”, and “Evening Update”. Apps like CNN or FOX News always have a way of sending way too many updates too often during the day- SmartNews had a customized scheduling for the three updates of the day and only sends out the top news story trending at that moment in time. Even better, SmartNews is completely free.
While we may not like to discuss it, the fact of the matter is that there are risks involved in being a real estate agent. Agents are often called upon to show vacant homes to strangers, conduct listing presentations at a stranger’s house, or host open houses alone. Recent events involving Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter who was kidnapped and killed showing a vacant, bank-owned home to a stranger and a California real estate agent who was assaulted while securing the lockbox on a new listing have put safety at the top of everyone’s mind.
In this article, I’d like to show you a couple of tools available on your phone that you can incorporate into your safety strategy. As a disclaimer, the apps and tips in this article will not keep you safe. As Inman contributor Theresa Boardman points out, mobile apps are not the solution to safety. These are merely tools that you should consider adding into your overall safety plan. I encourage you to first follow the safety guidelines and requirements provided by your office along with your association, whether it be at the local, state or national level. If you’re office or association doesn’t have safety guidelines in place, then take the steps to develop your own safety plan. Your safety is ultimately your responsibility. Before delving into some of the tools available on your phone, here are a few articles and resources that can help you to develop a more comprehensive safety plan.
- Safety for REALTORS® (compiled by the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®)
- Realtor Safety: Helpful tips for keeping safe on the job (compiled by Louisiana REALTORS®)
- Safety Awareness for the Real Estate Professional (compiled by the Georgia Real Estate Commission)
Both Android and iOS devices have location sharing capabilities that allow you to share your location with specific people. Sharing your location could be one way to have people check-in on your whereabouts in addition to the occasional text message or phone call. You may even find some uses for the location sharing outside of business, such as trips to a shopping mall or crowded amusement part.
While there are many apps and services that will allow you to share your location, I am going to stick to two methods provided by Apple and Google. Since these companies control the operating system of the phone, it’s a way of limiting the number of companies who can access my location. So yes, I am a little paranoid about privacy.
Messages in iOS 8
If both you and the person (or people) you want to share your location with have iPhones with iOS 8 installed, you can share your location using Messages. Simply select the conversation with the person (or group) that you want to share your location with, press ‘Details’ in the upper right corner, and on the next screen select ‘Share My Location’. You will then be asked if you want to share your location for one hour, until the end of the day, or indefinitely. You can disable the location sharing whenever you like.
For a more in-depth description with pictures, see this article courtesy of the site WonderHowTo: How to Send & Share Your iPhone’s Current Location in iOS 8.
For a solution that works across platforms, you may want to try Google+. Google+ is that “other” social network that hasn’t really caught on, but there are some useful things you can do with it. One is the ability to share your location with a set group, or a circle in Google+ terms. Of course, anyone you want to share your location with in this fashion has to have a Google+ profile setup for this to work.
Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, you can follow these instructions which Google has put together: Share you location with Google+.
Here’s the video they created that shows some of the other uses for location sharing:
As with location sharing apps and services, there are quite a few apps that cater towards personal safety. I am going to highlight the Guardly app here, since they’re business is built around security and safety. However, if you aren’t comfortable or don’t like Guardly, there are a number of other apps, along with wearable technology solutions, mentioned in the Inman article: Real estate agents using apps, wearable tech to stay safe.
Guardly is an app designed specifically with security in mind. Its safety features are easy to engage. When you open the app, it immediately start a countdown timer, at the end of which an emergency alert is sent to your family and friends contact list that you setup when you download the app. Cancelling the alert takes you to the preferences screen where you can access Guardly’s other features, or you can manually send an alert to any contact list you’ve setup.
In addition to alerting friends and family in case of emergency, the app can also automatically connect with emergency services, provide real-time location tracking, and allow you to activate an emergency beacon in the form of a loud whistling sound. Some of these features are part of Guardly’s paid service, which costs $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. You can get more details as well as watch a promotional video at their site by clicking here.
This article is not meant to heighten paranoia nor should it induce fear. I decided to write this because I’ve met a lot of outstanding real estate professionals over the last ten years who I care about, many who have become close friends. By providing a few tips and suggestions, I’d like to encourage them to incorporate the tools available to them through their mobile phone. However, and most of all, I’d like to strongly recommend they take their safety seriously and make it a priority to create or adopt a safety strategy if they don’t already have one in place, regardless of whether it involves the use of technology or not.