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!
For iPhones For Androids
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.
For iPhones For Androids
OK, I’ll come clean and admit, my name is Gregg, and I am a Zune HD user. There I said it. I get strange looks and take a lot of crap for using the Zune HD, but if you havent used one, you don’t know what you’re missing. The Zune HD is every bit as good of a media player as the iTouch and better. The only item that’s missing is a large library of apps, but since I don’t use it for apps, I don’t care.
So when I hear that Microsoft is going to leverage the Zune HD interface for Windows Phone 7, it gets me excited. The Zune HD interface is the most intuitive user interface I’ve used. It groups things logically and is a breeze to navigate. You will pick up a Windows Phone 7 device and be an instant expert – trust me.
Obviously, with Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has the advantage of knowing what has worked with iPhone and Android and incorporated it into their playbook. Here are the best features they’ve copied implemented from the existing phones:
- Hardware versatility: Instead of taking the closed system approach to hardware, Microsoft is providing hardware requirements for phone manufacturers to work within. As with Android, this will allow manufacturers to differentiate their offerings and get more players to join the party.
- Apps marketplace: Microsoft is planning a marketplace for people to download apps and have development partners lined up. While I am not a fan of apps and don’t believe they matter long-term, Microsoft is doing the right thing by developing a robust app platform.
- The “reverse-mullet” approach: First generation phones took the business first, social second approach, much like the mullet haircut – business in the front, party in the back. Windows Phone 7 took its cue from the iPhone and Android by using a social first, business second approach. People love the social aspect of their phones, but want to be able to do business on them – not the other way around.
On the other hand, for some strange reason, they have also incorporated some of the worst features:
- Lack of true multi-tasking: Even Apple realizes this is a problem as they are expected to address it in the iPhone 4 OS release. Are the people at Redmond insulated that much from reality?
- App approval process: Microsoft is going to implement an app approval process similar to Apple, but with more transparency. Right! Approval processes do not work and are only going to frustrate developers and slow the growth of the app marketplace.
- No copy and paste: Given all the complaints regarding the iPhone, this one is mind boggling. Microsoft claims they know the use cases and that we don’t need copy and paste. Guaranteed this feature makes the first release patch.
Despite the shortcomings, I’m impressed that Microsoft started from scratch instead of trying to build on top of the existing Windows Mobile 6 platform. It shows just how far WinMo has fallen behind the curve. Starting over will be the best decision they ever made in mobile. I urge you to try it before you knock it.
Deep down, I believe that Microsoft will succeed with Windows Phone 7. Maybe I’m a closet Microsoft fanboy, but a strong Microsoft is good for mobile. I don’t want to see Apple and/or Google dominate mobile with their OS. The more players, the more competition, the more innovation, and the more we win. Now, if Microsoft can just stick to their release schedule of late 2010 – let’s just say that I’m not holding my breath….
For a more thorough review of Windows Phone 7 with pictures and video, I highly recommend “Engadget’s Windows Phone 7 Series: the complete guide”
The CTIA Wireless 2010 show was recently held in Las Vegas. It is the biggest wireless trade show of the year in North America bringing together wireless hardware manufacturers, software developers, service providers, industry experts, and pretty much anyone that is involved with wireless. A team from Aumnia, including myself, was there to preview the latest wireless handsets, gadgets, software and market trends. The conference was smaller than previous years highlighting the fact that the industry and the economy in general is still recovering but the activity on the show floor was busy which was a good sign.
Google’s Android OS had a huge presence at this show. Almost every handset manufacturer showcased a phone running Android. Over 20 new Android handsets were announced during the course of the show. It seemed like Android was turning many handset manufacturers, who previously never had much success in the smartphone market, into serious contenders overnight.
The most impressive smartphone that I saw at the show this year was the Samsung Galaxy S running Android 2.1. In terms of usability, speed, and responsiveness there are not many smartphones that are better than the iPhone, in fact, I personally don’t think there are any at the moment. The Motorola Droid was good and the HTC Nexus One comes very close and if I was an iPhone user (which I am not) wanting to switch to Android, that would be the one to go with…until now. The Samsung Galaxy S is definitely the best Android phone that I have seen to date. The device is fast and super responsive. And the AMOLED screen is amazingly sharp allowing playback of 720p videos. If I were to get an Android phone, this would be the one and it should be available later this summer.
Samsung Galaxy S
The other big take away from the show was that all the major carriers in North America were upgrading their networks to 4th generation technology allowing for faster data speeds. There are two competing 4G technologies: WiMAX and LTE. With theoretical speeds of greater than 100Mb/s, DSL and Cable internet providers will have some serious competition. Sprint is currently ahead of the game with 4G deployments in many cities across the USA using WiMAX because unlike LTE, WiMAX hardware is commercially available. WiMAX has already been deployed in many countries worldwide. LTE is newer but with Cisco recently announcing that it will not build WiMAX hardware and AT&T and Verizon both choosing LTE, it looks like LTE (at least in North America) will be the 4G technology of choice.
2010 will be an exciting year for wireless. It will be a big year for Android and I’m looking forward to seeing how Apple responds to this with their new iPhone. It’s great to see companies push each other to the limit in terms of innovation because as consumers, we all benefit from this, no matter what smartphone OS you prefer to use. With 4G networks becoming a reality, I see a trend for more devices that will allow you to share your data connection over WiFi across multiple devices (laptop, netbook, iPad, and even your phone). With 4G being an IP based network, voice usage will primarily be VoIP eliminating the need for voice minutes. It will be interesting to see how the service providers handle this and how data usage will be charged.
It’s that time of the year again…I’m referring to Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) where they have traditionally announced a variety of new products. For the past couple of years, the biggest buzz surrounding this event has been the anticipated announcement of the next generation iPhone and as usual, Apple didn’t disappoint. They have announced the 3rd version of the smartphone and they are calling it the “iPhone 3G S”. The “S” stands for speed. The form factor is in most part identical to the 2nd gen model. They have made a variety of improvements to the hardware and the “3G S” will also ship with the new 3.0 OS. Here are some new features of the iPhone 3G S:
- Video capture and edit – In the YouTube era, video capture is definitely a must have in any smartphone and Apple has finally answered. The “3G S” adds a new feature that I haven’t seen in any smartphone. In addition to capturing video, it also allows you to edit the video on the fly before uploading or emailing.
- Improved camera – 3.0MP with autofocus, but still no flash.
- Faster processor and improved battery life – this typically doesn’t go together because running faster usually means draining the batter faster. Apple did a good job improving the efficiency on the other power hungry components inside the phone. Look forward to faster running applications and smoother loading web pages.
- Voice control – you can speak commands to the iPhone to dial a phone number, play a song, announce the song title, etc… I’ve never been a big fan of voice control. I find it faster to just dial the phone myself. You still have to press a button on the iPhone to tell it to listen to you, so it is not completely handsfree. If it actually listened to you without you having to press a button first, now that would be cool.
- Voice memo – this is a handy feature. You can use it to record meetings, lectures, or short notes. I think it would be a better app if they had a function to transcribe your recording to text.
- Compass – this is the first time I’ve seen a compass on a phone and I think this is a cool feature. It’s definitely useful when combined with the GPS. Maybe someone will design a “stud finder” app.
- Spotlight search – The inability to search through emails is a big issue. Spotlight is a feature that Mac users are familiar with. It allows you to quickly search anything on the iPhone (email, contacts, iPod, etc…)
- Cut, copy, paste – Nothing too exciting here, except that it finally works. I like how you can undo the cut, copy or paste by shaking to the phone.
- MMS – It’s finally working! But as smartphone adoption continues to increase, why would we need to use MMS?
The new iPhone 3G S will hit stores on June 19 for $199 (16GB) and $299 (32GB) for new AT&T customers. Existing customers won’t be as lucky because it will cost you $399 (16GB) and $499 (32GB) to upgrade if you are still in a contract. Apple has also cut the price of the existing 3G version to $99 for new customers. This will surely attract a whole new set of customers that were previously on the fence because of price. Are you getting one?