iOS 7: Taking the Leap

When Apple first rolled out the iPhone back in 2007, it’s fair to say it was a game-changer. Suddenly, big players such as Nokia and Samsung were worried; here was a mobile device that was single-handedly revolutionising the smartphone market.

iphone-2G

Six years later and Apple Inc. continue to wow the industry. Having experienced huge successes in the mobile device market, I don’t think I know a single person who doesn’t have either an iPhone or an iPad (or both).

Now that I’ve had iOS 7 for a week, I’ve decided to give my point of view. So here’s a run down of what’s hot and what’s not with the new operating system:

I have always enjoyed Apple’s ease-of-use. Their interface is generally very intuitive and controlling an Apple device is relatively easy to pick up. iOS 7 stays faithful to this and really does reimagine the whole look and feel of the device. I particularly like the way in which layers are used to give a sense of workflow, as well as the way blurring is used to assure you that other apps are working in the background (e.g. When using Siri).

iOS 7_2

Apple has stripped away unnecessary buttons to ensure that the screen is uncluttered yet still delivers exactly what you want. There’s no need to retrain your brain (which appears to be a big concern amongst those I have spoken to); if you’re a regular Apple user, you’ll pick up iOS 7 in no time.

Another concern of sceptics is the barrage of news stories circulating that continues to try and peck away at Apple’s reputation with rumours of bugs and hacks. As with any global software launch, there’s bound to be hiccups. But in true Apple style, the brand was quick to resolve these issues. Although I never experienced any problems myself, I’ve updated my software in line with recommendations.

One bug that appears to have been widely reported involved a security flaw, which allowed a user to bypass the passcode screen and access contacts information.

‘Passcode bypass is a common security flaw in mobile operating systems, including Apple’s. The bug crops up regularly as Apple releases software updates, which are intended to move specific functionality to the other side of the “wall” (i.e., have it accessible while the phone is locked).’ – Mashable

Another put-off that has been cited by friends of mine yet to make the change, involves the visuals themselves. A few people have commented saying iOS 7 has the look of an Android device due to its bright colours and heavily geometric design. I find that this new imagery actually works in favour of the iPhone adding to the intuitive feel and ease-of-use: don’t let it put you off.

iOS 7_1

Have you downloaded the new operating system? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Likewise, if you’re reluctant to update I’d be interested to know why. Please feel free to leave your comments below.

 

Time to Say: “Enough is Enough”?

I have always been an avid promoter of adapting and incorporating technology into our everyday lives to simplify tasks and manage time effectively, but every now and again the time comes when I simply think: “enough is enough!”

One of the worlds most iconic and popular fast food companies is making headway on developing a new app which could fuel further misfortune for the waistlines of Britons.

McDonalds Drive Thru

Smartphones can not only be used to find your nearest McDonalds restaurant, discover opening times and guide you to it using intelligent mapping software, but now the global giant are testing a pre-order/ mobile payment application.

As if receiving a double cheeseburger and fries in less than 3 minutes wasn’t enough, the titanic corporation are experimenting with ways to avoid the queue altogether. Utah and Texas are the two nominated US states to test-drive the scheme that, if successful, could be rolled out across the billion-dollar franchise over the next few years.

The majority of McDonald’s 33,000+ restaurants already provide free Wi-Fi for customers, as well as interactive “Happy Tables” at some locations too; the company are certainly no stranger to embracing technology.

Research suggests that Texas and Utah are among some of the fattest states in the US, so it’ll be no surprise if the McDonalds test-drive is a roaring success.

Overweight Mother and Daughter

On the other hand, McDonalds has a track record for providing some sensible digital offerings too:

In the UK, the McDonald’s app currently features a restaurant locater, as well as a full menu with nutritional information. McDonalds in Australia took this one step further earlier this year and introduced a “Track My Macca’s” app.

By scanning a QR code and using GPS technology, customers were able to discover the source of their meal and where the meat was processed before being cooked onsite.

Using state of the art augmented reality, the app also gave customers the opportunity to hear from the farmers and bakers who supply to McDonalds, enforcing the brands ethos of fair-trade and sourcing responsibly.

Available from January until the end of June 2013, the app was hoped to help dispel concern over the health risks associated with McDonalds, caused by an outcry from vegetarian groups and the 2004 documentary ‘Supersize Me’.

A spokeswoman is quoted as saying: “Track my Macca’s is purely an Australian thing. We have our own McDonald’s app in Britain”.

McDonalds App

Technology enthusiasts TechHive reached out to the company for specifics on when the pre-order system will be available and for what devices. A McDonald’s rep responded via email: “We’re always looking at new technologies to make the McDonald’s experience better for our customers. We are testing some of these technologies in a few markets, so it’s premature to speculate on the decisions we may make after the tests, but we’re excited to bring a cutting-edge experience in the future to our customers.”

Whilst I am fascinated with the Australian app (and kind of wish I could try it myself), what concerns me most is how this technology will be translated to the UK market. Is it not bad enough that we don’t even have to leave our cars to indulge on fast food?

Do you welcome the news that one day (soon) you’ll be able to enjoy your BigMac in record time? Please share your comments below.

Top 10 Holiday Apps

Lost your map? Can’t find that landmark that eveyone’s talking about? Need a cappuccino? Call of nature? Forget maps, it’s the year of the apps.

Holiday Apps

Here are the top 10 apps that will help you glide through your holiday with minimum stress:

1. Packing Pro

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A little gem that makes possibly the most tedious bit of pre-holiday prep that bit easier providing sample lists based on the size of your party, where you’re off to, the duration of your journey and even taking into consideration children and gender. Never again will you forget to pack…well, anything!

 

 

2. App in the Air

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Once you get to your airport of choice this snazzy little app lets you check-in and follow your flight plan to gauge your route and estimate a time for arrival. It can even find the nearest coffee shop so you can have a brew whilst you wait to board.

 

 

3. Google Translate

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Once you’ve reached your destination, are you concerned about the language barrier? With a catalogue of over 60 languages and famed for its simple “hover-over” feature, this app translates both speech and text right before your eyes.

 

 

4. Tourist Eye

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This nifty little travel guide provides information on over 60,000 destinations to ensure you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there. It also includes maps, suggested itineraries and a ‘help to plan’ book. It’ll certainly take the hassle out of planning your day.

 

 

5. MapsWithMe

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We all need a little directional help now and again and for those who refuse to ask for directions for fear of the dreaded language barrier (no, speaking louder does not make it more comprehensible), this is the app for you. MapsWith Me covers every country around the globe and requires no internet connection. Hoorah!

 

 

6. GuidiGo

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GuidiGO allows you to search for guided tours once you reach your destination. Filter your search by topics, specific monuments or locations and receive directions with plenty of info to keep you ooing and ahhing all day long.

 

 

7. SitOrSquat

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There’s nothing worse than being caught short in a foreign country. So when nature calls answer with SitOrSquat. Powered by Charmin, this app gives you the location of your nearest facilities, how well equipped they are and whether you’ll need to SitOrSquat depending on the hygiene rate.

 

 

8. Fit For Travel

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Before you venture abroad it’s always wise to check with your doctor which vaccines you may need, but once you’ve arrived this app is the perfect companion for helping you to stay healthy by providing tips and advice on wellbeing and health news from around the world.

 

 

9. Concur

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This one is a for all you business travellers. Instead of having to tot up your expenditures when you get home, Concur helps you manage your travel expenses as-you-go, on your phone so there’s no need to worry.

 

 

 

10. XE Currency

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If you’re not sure what your current exchange rate is, then XE Currency can help. Uploading the latest currency rates and charts, it can tell you how much your pound is worth all over the world.

 

 

 

If you’ve got a great little holiday app that you’d like to share – please do so by Tweeting me @danielledunn_ca! I’d love to hear your recommendations.

Are QR Codes Still Relevant?

Cupcake QR

QR codes seem to get something of a bad rep from critics in the marketing & advertising world, but when used simply and in the right context I find they can effectively relay a lot of information at a fraction of the cost of other modern media. In situations where it’s difficult to capture and engage your audience, QR codes bridge the gap between delivering the message and promoting the product.

It could be pedestrians at rush hour, partiers at a nightclub or mother’s hastily window shopping – another pro of the simple QR code is that once scanned, the relevant information is saved to your handset and can be viewed at a time convenient to your user.

In fairness, although I’ve seen some successful uses of QR codes, I’ve also been witness to my fair share of hilarious fails too (one in particular was crudely emblazoned on a cupcake!)

QR-Code Rettungskarte zur Bergung von Unfallopfern

Daimler’s recent venture into QR codes certainly stands out as a success. They announced plans to roll out the codes across the Mercedes-Benz brand as a way to save lives in the event of an accident. Placed in areas of the vehicle less-commonly affected by an impact, the QR codes provide information of the vehicle’s schematics. The idea being that the emergency services don’t accidentally cut through a power line or accidentally trigger an airbag during a rescue.

Inspiring stuff! What’s more, Daimler are waiving their right to patent the idea in the hope that other motor manufacturers are inspired to follow their lead.

From saving lives to educating the masses, another great example I’ve read about of QR codes being utilised efficiently comes from May 2012 when the Welsh town of Monmouth debuted “Monmouthpedia”. Simply put, residents had created a virtual town that displayed site-specific information and data via QR codes!

monmouthpedia

Six months were spent coding 1,000+ people and destinations that corresponded to 500 Wikipedia articles that were available in 25 languages. Local residents and businesses adopted plaques, labels and stickers adorned with QR codes so that tourists could work their way around the town and learn about it’s people and landmarks.

“Monmouthpedia” even educated Monmouth residents on how to update their Wikipedia page to ensure that all content remains up to date.

Another smart use of QR codes, I’m sure you’ll agree! In a world that is relying more and more heavily on digital platforms, QR codes open up a whole heap of possibilities for brands and businesses. With a large percentage of Brits now owing a smartphone, QR codes are certainly accessible and can provide a great service to the consumer.

I’d certainly like to see where QR codes go over the next few years – as a marketer myself, I’m keen to explore the potential that this humble platform has to offer.

What other clever uses of QR codes have you come across? Please feel free to share them with me on Twitter @DanielleDunn_CA. Likewise, if there’s a particular QR code fail that springs to mind, by all means share that too!