Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Could Smartphones Mean The Death Of The Wallet?

MobilePay Video from Randy Smith on Vimeo.

MobilePay USA has launched an iPhone App that could mean you can now leave your wallet at home and never have to worry about theft of several credit cards at once.  With this App you can now store your credit card(s) number digitally in the cloud not on the phone itself, so no worries if the phone is stolen or lost.  Your number is stored at a secured payment provider.  You still need a PIN to activate use each time but since it's stored in the cloud, you can easily deactivate it from any other device should you lose your phone.

So how does this actually work when you are ready to pay?

You simply let the merchant know you wish to pay by phone enter the Pin on the iPhone App, get a receipt by email.  Those of you worried about credit card fraud can rest easier knowing you are not actually handing your card to the waiter to walk off with to complete the transaction.  From that perspective, it never leavers your hand and the waiter never sees your card.  The PIN directs the payment provider to send cryptographic token to the merchant and the transaction is completed.  You get a receipt by email.  There's no special equipment needed by the merchant but he will pay a 1% transaction fee.  MobilePay is also coming to loyalty cards and other smartphones soon, so now you can leave all those cards at home.

MobilePay is geo-location activated, letting you know which merchants use the system in the area you are located.  Think how useful this could be in a city and how fast it would be to get a train or subway ticket.

Convenience, speed and security will make this an inevitable must have App that will change the way consumers shop in the physical world.  Could MobilePay mean the death of the wallet?   I think it will appeal to many.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mobile Check-in With Smartphones

The smartphone hotel room key has started rolling out at two locations at the Holiday Inn Hotels in Chicago and the Houston Convention Centre.  It's called the MobileKey and customers can sign up when making online reservations.  This makes check-in a breeze.  In fact, you can just by pass the front desk which is a great time saver when the business traveler has had a long journey and a long day.

Upon enrolling online, you receive a link to download the application on your smarphone.  This is followed by a text message along with a room number.  Upon arriving at the hotel room, you would call up the confirmation code and hold up the smartphone to the sensor on the door lock and voila!  It's that simple and convenient and most business travelers already have a smartphone these days.

The Holiday Inn is part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group which is the biggest hotel chain in the world, in terms of number of rooms.  When this group standardizes on keyless entry, you can expect the rest of the industry to likely follow.  This application currently works on iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones.

The only downside - don't let your phone run out of juice and risk being locked out.  But there's always the good old fashioned hotel desk.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

iPad Gets Google Docs

The lines between a laptop and the iPad are beginning to merge as more business productivity comes to the iPad.  Google announced it will roll out new updates to Google Docs enabling compatibility with an iPad.  Apple iWorks is a great productivity tool, far better than Microsoft Office by leaps and bounds, but without the capability of local storage of data (a local file system), iWorks is useless for the iPad.  To achieve that kind of business productivity requires Apps in the Cloud.  Enter Google Docs.

Google's suite of products are used by 3 million businesses globally and 30 million users.  In fact, about 1,000 companies a day are switching to Google Docs (clearly driven by cost cutting and the economic pressures), but also because the Cloud offers easier sharing of docs and mobility.

With Google Docs, the iPad is no longer a mere consumer product, but a serious business tool enabling professionals to continue working while on the move, irrespective of whether they last worked on that document from their office computer. Will Apple respond by making iWorks perhaps available in the Cloud?  For under $100  for the entire suite of products included in iWorks (wordprocessing, spreadsheet and presentation), i's a joy to use and is still several generations ahead of its rival (including Google Docs which is of course Microsoft).

Google Docs mobile will also be available for the iPhone and other Android devices soon, but will roll out initially for the  iPad.  That indeed tells you how significant the iPad sales have been and continue despite the economy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BMW Brings in-Car Apple Connectivity

BMW will be showing its Apple integration through its iDrive connectivity at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.  iDrive brings a familiar interface to Apple users whether iPad, iPhone or iPod owners because it essentially reverts to your existing iPhone interface. BMW is not making its drivers learn another interface.  It's as easy as plug and go. You'll be able to access all of your stored music - Play lists, as well as features such as text-to-speech memos, messages and emails.

For iPad owners, there's something a little bit special; it's an iPad holder which affixes to the back of a headrest, is pivotal and will have wi-fi connectivity.

And if you have older iPhones, BMW has not left those users behind.  What's special about the in-car connectivity is that iDrive is the central dashboard control centre for all sorts of functions including navigation systems, and now a specific Apple interface.  It's neat and it's simple.  Just plug in your iPhone, iPad or iPod and your are good to go.

It's just one more reason to be an Apple rather than Android user.  The "ultimate driving machine" just added another notch!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Medical Imaging App Becomes Reality For Smartphones

Calgary Scientific: Resolution MD Mobile

When we think of smartphone apps, we tend to think of the consumer. However, the technology and processing power is now so advanced on most smartphones, that it is not surprising we are now seeing some serious Apps coming on stream.  Sprint has partnered with Calgary Scientific and released the first of its kind medical imaging solution - ResolutionMD Mobile.

The App is powered by PureWeb®, which delivers advanced visualization of medical images directly to the physician's HTC EVO™ 4G (will also be available for the iPhone).  For patients, this means better and faster decisions as their physician can easily access patient records and medical images. This type of medical App enables doctors in remote places to have real time access to other specialists and medical records, thus saving lives and saving costs.  Doctors can now deliver bedside care from remote locations using the high quality video for clinical consultations. 

The ResolutionMD App is HIPPA compliant and Calgary Scientific is approved by the FDA for diagnostics in the hand-held device category.  (It's also approved for use in Canada.)  The App works over Sprints 4G (and 3G) wireless network and Pureweb's underlying advanced technology working in the "cloud".  This means that patients records are never really removed from their source.  If an HTC Evo is stolen - no worries - the data remains safe because it does not reside on the handset.  

Finally, telemedicine has become a reality. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

60% More Apps Downloaded On iPhone Than Android

Apple seems to be winning the Apps war while Android as an operating system is winning in terms of shipments (but that's apple and oranges - excuse the pun).  There are so many Android phones now available but only ONE iPhone.  Users of iPhones seem to be downloading about 60 percent more Apps than their counterparts on Android, according to a recent survey by Nielsen among 4000 users.

On average, iPhone users have 40 Apps installed.  They can range from organizing tools, social media, games and many shopping type Apps too.  Look up "groceries" and you'll see many Apps available.  It is this type of practical App that appeals to non-techies and everyday consumers who are finding they can organize their lives better. Rather than writing a grocery list on paper, you can do it via an iPhone App.  (However, I was using SplashShopper on myPalm Treo years ago and it did the job just fine.)

Android users are downloading on average, 25 Apps, while on Blackberry it's about 14 Apps.  The breakdown of iPhone Apps by category was found to be:
- 61% games
- 55% weather
- 50% mapping, search
- 49% social networking
- 42% music
(Source: Nielsen) 

Since there are around a 1/4 million iPhone Apps now available, it is not surprising that iPhone users have downloaded 60% more Apps than other smartphone users.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

iPad Demand Just Keeps On Going

Apple is reported to be building 2 million iPad's a month due to strong consumer demand. While other hardware manufacturers are scrambling to produce clones for the holiday season, Apple has truly left them in the dust and plans to ramp up to 3 million a month for the holidays.  It seems the consumer has fallen in love with this first generation device.  Apple broke new ground and literally owned the smartphone sector when it launched the first iPhone; the same thing is happening with the iPad.  

Already adopted in the education and healthcare sectors, the iPad is still working its way into new markets.  Perhaps it won't be too long before we see the iPad in law enforcement, where access to criminal databases at the scene of the crime makes sense. Or, perhaps at a construction site where an engineer, architect or even designer need to access plans, make changes or check on delivery of supplies etc.  Apple is also targeting the business sector with features designed to make it attractive to the enterprise market. 

Expect new features for the iPad in the next 2011 release to include a camera and FaceTime.  For now, there is a new OS release (4.2) expected in November, which will bring around 100 new features including a game center, AirPlay and wireless printing, just to mention a few. 

This should be a very good holiday season for Apple products.  For 2011, analysts predict iPad sales to reach an astounding 28 million units.  Now that's probably going to kill the Netbook sector!  Beyond that, who knows if the iPad will eventually replace the laptop?  

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

City Councils Save Millions Using Smartphone Apps

It's hard to believe that governments can actually save money but city councils in the UK have apparently saved taxpayers about $354 million. How? By using smartphone applications and location based services instead of more expensive alternatives. Smartphone Apps are being used to identify when the next bus will arrive and where road construction is going on. The consumer benefits enormously by avoiding congested areas and wasting time waiting for transport. Other applications include paying for your parking meter via your smarphone, reporting vandalism as it is happening, finding schools and libraries and even restaurants and pub hygiene ratings. 

Cities with public transport systems all over the world can benefit from smartphone Apps. Washington DC for example, uses the Next Bus App developed by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.  The App uses the GPS units in the system's buses to approximate arrival times at every bus stop on every route.  Because it is in real-time, the consumer knows about delays due to traffic congestion as it's all factored into the scheduled arrival times. The App also has a drop down list of every stop to pick from, in case you are not at your destination yet. With 12,000 stops in a busy city, commuters are sure to  appreciate this App.

Canada is also implementing this technology. The Société de transport de Laval’s public-transit authority is the first in Quebec to use GPS technology to let commuters know whether buses are running on time.  Laval has also implemented this App in Toronto's public transport system.  

If you're a commuter without a smartphone, these Apps alone should convince you to finally take the plunge.  

Thursday, September 2, 2010

iPhone To Be Used In Upcoming U.S. Elections

The general election of 2008 saw the use of social networks and the Internet play an important part in political campaigning for the first time.  Now in 2010, with geo-location and GPS being a standard smartphone feature, we are about to see yet a new revolution in our elections take place -  on the mobile platform, with the Apple iPhone taking the lead.

The iPhone App will assist fieldworkers canvassing their neighborhoods.  Volunteers can quickly pull up data on voters combined with maps and voter contact lists.  Gone is the clipboard and paper map!

The iPhone App will also include breaking news alerts, talking points and interactive literature to share with voters right there on the their doorstep.  And it's not just one-way communication.  The volunteer can also send real-time feedback and door counts to political headquarters. This iPhone App has certainly eliminated the need to input data overnight after field workers return to base.  Now it will be live and thus permit campaign analysts to view the picture as it unfolds, back at base.  

In just two years, this is a revolution in technology that will change the political campaigning landscape in ways we could not have imagined back in the 2004 elections.  In the 2008 elections, it was all about YouTube and Twitter most notably utilized by the Obama campaign, and then came Facebook.  In 2010, we now have sophisticated smartphones that bring the technology on the road with all the possibilities of live, geo-specific analysis.  With Facebook and Twitter now incorporating geo-location targeting technology, this brings yet more social media features for local campaigners.

The Democrats are rolling out this App shortly.  It will be interesting to see how much technology the Republicans  will embrace this time around.  But you can be sure, it will be an interesting election.


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