For people who work well with simplistic lists, the traditional mobile email interface is fine. It works. But for those who like a more interactive, visual and smart inbox experience–and for those who can never make it through that long list of emails–Cannonball, a new email app for iPad, delivers.
In addition to providing messages in traditional list form, Cannonball groups messages by sender in two columns of thumbnails. “The effect is that it becomes much more fun to browse your inbox,” wrote Mashable about the new app, adding that it also increases email efficiency. “Suddenly, messages from services like Groupon and LinkedIn get lumped together and can be deleted in bulk. Likewise, you can choose to group messages from a particular friend or coworker together so you can easily scroll back and sort through your recent correspondences.”
The concept may sound familiar–it’s not unlike the new “promotions” and “priority” inboxes (among others) recently rolled out by Gmail. That similarity is cited as a drawback by TechCrunch, though it’s worth noting that all emails in the Cannonball model, regardless of the inbox they are in, appear in the iPad email interface. So while Cannonball may be replicating an existing Gmail feature, it’s bringing it to a new class of devices.
But the real advantage of Cannonball, Mashable states, is not its inbox triage capabilities, but rather its goals for email management: Unlike other mobile email apps, it doesn’t aim for a completely empty inbox.
“Cannonball is operating with a slightly different premise,” notes Mashable. “Most users don’t want to have zero emails in their inbox; what they want is to have zero unread emails in their inbox.”
And that’s what makes the product so unique. Cannonball’s touchable, drag-and-drop-able, colorful interface is pleasant to look at and easy to use, and the email triage capabilities it offers are helpful for anyone overrun with too many emails (read: everyone with email). However, because some emails contain important information or must be mulled before making a response, the goal of inbox management–rather than annihilation—makes Cannonball worth a try.
With digital currency on the rise–hello, Bitcoin!– it’s not crazy to think that one day loose change and wallets will go the way of CDs, film and landlines. But how do these digital currency trends translate to everyday life? Following, we take a look at a few that might someday be used (if they aren’t already) at your local coffee shop.
Coffee shop frequenters who pay with plastic don’t often throw a bit extra toward their favorite barista. They have no cash on hand. In fact, only 27% of point-of-sale purchases were made with cash in 2011, according to a report by Javelin Strategy & Research, and that number is dropping every year. That’s why the tip jar is getting a makeover with the advent of DipJar.
DipJar lets customers tip with the convenience of plastic. A fixed amount–usually $1–is listed on the front of the DipJar. With each “dip” of a credit card, a tip is sent to the retailer.
It doesn’t get much easier than that–unless you didn’t even have to pull out your wallet: If some companies have their way, the future of the wallet will be no wallet at all. Your smartphone will be your wallet. LevelUp is an app that lets consumers pay with their smartphones after they have securely linked their debit or credit cards to an account. Filter, a coffee shop in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, is one of the 5,000-plus locations that currently accept LevelUp.
Filter doesn’t accept plastic because of the high fees associated with it. Customers who want to purchase a coffee can choose to pay with cash or they can open the LevelUp app and place the generated barcode in front of the LevelUp scanner on the counter. Phones vibrate when payment has been accepted. There’s even an option to add a tip before scanning.
The PayPal app works in a similar way. It’s now accepted at retailers large and small, from Dunkin Donuts shops to Home Depot to the local Chinese restaurant down the street.
When it comes to digital currency, what is your threshold? Are you on board with paying with your smartphone? Or tipping with plastic? Or would you rather pay cash? It’s a whole new world of currency.
If you’re the proud owner of a new iPhone 5S, you’ve likely said goodbye to the traditional four-digit passcode and hello to Touch ID. Apple’s upgraded security feature lets users unlock their phones quickly and easily with their unique fingerprint.
But what about those techies who have yet to splurge on the latest iPhone? And what about the people who have iPhones but don’t use the passcode option? Apple claims that more than 50% of users don’t lock their phones with a passcode. After all, it can be a pain to punch in four digits every time you check your phone–which is an average of 150 times per day, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ annual Internet Trends report.
Although a misplaced or stolen iPhone can be relocated with the free Find My iPhone app, that doesn’t prevent the device–or the data it stores–from being compromised. The best way to protect your device and the data on it is to not lose it in the first place. Luckily, a technology trend called “wireless leashes”–a concept similar to the invisible fences that keep your dog in the yard–can help prevent loss and, in turn, theft.
ZOMM is a poker-chip-sized device that wirelessly tethers to your Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone. ZOMM alerts you if you and your phone should ever separate by more than 30 feet. Clip ZOMM to your keychain or throw it in your purse. An alarm will sound the next time you’ve left your phone behind at the restaurant, in the taxi or at a friend’s house.
ZOMM is just one of the recent developments in cell phone safety, like the Bluetooth-enabled Tile system, that we’ve recently blogged about. But ZOMM takes safety to another level–and even doubles as a Bluetooth speaker. Say your phone rings while you’re driving but it’s buried at the bottom of your purse. Just click the ZOMM device that’s now hanging from your keychain and start chatting away.)
You’ve got to love a device that pulls double duty.
ZOMM is available for $40 on Amazon.com.
You own a business, website and/or blog, yet the adage “build it and they will come” does not always seem to apply. Indeed, driving uniques, repeat visits and page views is extremely challenging. Successful sites demonstrate that you can make it work by making people smile.
Feel-good viral sites Buzzfeed and Upworthy make it look easy. They have successfully figured out and applied the secret for creating and curating share-worthy content. In August, BuzzFeed reportedly received 85 million visitors to its website. Upworthy, with its 22 million monthly uniques, can’t go toe-to-toe with Buzzfeed, but the traffic it generates would make most site owners drool.
What are they doing right?
Why does it work?
There are a number of reasons why this content mix works. In short, images increase engagement, the right headline can make your content go viral, and lists are an easy sell for readers because they make “a very specific promise of what’s in store,” according to Copyblogger Founder Brian Clark.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, smiles turn into page views organically.
Need proof? Read three Buzzfeed stories and watch three videos on Upworthy. In all likelihood, you will smile several times while consuming this content. You will likely also feel compelled to act on the content–sharing it so that others can feel the joy, too.
After all, a smile is contagious, and, in our digital society, one endorphin high can be the catalyst to making 20 or–if you’re George Takei–20,000 people’s day.
What can businesses learn from this?
Your content should strive to make your customers happy–even if you’re not in the media and publishing business.
The easiest way to start is by talking like a real person–the era of artifically stiff business-speak is over. If your content makes your business easier to relate to, users are more likely to remember it. They are also more likely to share news about and content from your business with the people they know–potential new customers.
The authenticity may even make ‘em smile.
It’s more the rule than the exception these days that mobile devices are employees’ preferred computing endpoints. The ubiquity of mobile devices, combined with near 24/7 use, can provide a big boost in employee productivity, but it also increases the risk of data compromise exponentially. SMBs, which often work with a mix of in-house and freelance professionals and may have fewer security and IT resources than larger companies, are especially vulnerable. However, there are steps that companies can take to mitigate risk while exploiting mobile technology.
A recent Forrester survey shows that some 43% of small-business owners say they’re prioritizing data mobility. Indeed, sensitive company information is increasingly being accessed and stored on mobile devices–some corporate-owned, some personal–which increases the risk of compromise.
Companies have to take precautions to make sure that data is protected, but they don’t have to panic: Here are five crucial steps organizations must take to keep data, employees and customers safe, even in the ever-changing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment.
- Analyze: Root out potential pain points that may arise from the use of personal devices for business purposes. For example, is there information that simply should not be accessed and/or stored on a mobile device? Are there categories of users who absolutely must have mobile access to certain applications and data? Will that access warrant increased security measures?
- Engage: Survey the types of mobile systems used by your employees now, and keep an eye on device, mobile operating system and app news–you want to anticipate what mobile hardware and software employees will be using in the future, as well.
- Set policies: Policy is key: You must explicitly inform users about what they can and can’t do, and get them to sign off on these rules. Policy should determine, among other things, what devices will and will not be supported. When it comes to who gets access to your network, set parameters based on employee/contractor role and location. Also, your team members invite greater risk every time they connect to unsecured wireless networks, download and install unapproved apps, visit possibly malicious websites, and/or leave their mobile device unattended. Your policies should cover these activities, as well,
- Plan ahead: Map out the procedures to be taken when devices are lost, stolen or damaged. Encourage reporting and honesty.
- Implement monitoring and defense: Research vendors and decide what kind of IT technology and assistance makes sense for your business. Spending money on technology like internal app scanning and external monitoring can save you the expense of financial damage and ruined reputation by finding evidence of spam and malware activity before it becomes a public disaster.
You can’t stop every criminal out there or prevent every end user from doing careless things. However, with some thought and planning, you can keep your small business — and its staff, customers and partners — safe while providing them with all of the opportunity that mobile technology affords. A little work now saves a lot of grief later, so spend some time on your mobile data security plan.
Beginning with the Mozy Mac Client released this week, Mozy now works seamlessly with OS X Mavericks. Now you can combine the advantages of the new Mac OS features with the peace-of-mind that comes with Mozy backup, including:
- Access to any file anywhere at any time through Mozy web, mobile, and tablet apps
- Confidence that your files are safe even if your local Time Machine drive fails
- Premium security, optionally coupled with FileVault encryption
- Even faster initial uploads of large files with Mozy’s enhanced resuming features
Download the newest Mozy Mac Client today for Mavericks compatibility and all the newest Mozy features and enhancements.
One of the most enjoyable things we get to do here at Mozy is hear about how our service has helped people avoid catastrophes. Individuals and businesses trust us to protect their most important digital information, and nothing is more comforting in a time of disaster than to know your files aren’t more than a couple of clicks away. We often hear stories from our customers and partners, and received one recently that we’d like to pass on.
I’ve been reselling Mozy to my clients for years now and I stress over and over again on how important backups are. Well today I was recipient of the greatness of MozyPro backup. One of our computers got infected with the CrytoLocker virus and it went in to all the shares of the network and started locking down all MS Office files. Once I identified the culprit computer and removed it from the network I then went to work on how to fix these now corrupt files. I logged onto the server and started restoring my files from the previous night Mozy backup. We have a lot of MS Office files that get used daily. This includes MS Access Front Ends with SQL backend and the Access file was affected. I was able to restore all my programs without any data loss and restore productivity to our busy office within hours.
If not for Mozy backup this day could have truly been my “Black Friday.” I am in the process of now restoring the non-essential files that were on the server other than for storage. As I stated before I have been reselling MozyPro for years to my clients. Today is just another example on how well your product performs. I extend to you my highest praise and recommendation to anyone that would have any doubts of your product.
Thank you very much
This experience is a great reminder that even if you’re careful, you might find yourself in a situation in which, through no fault of your own, the data you have is lost or destroyed. If you aren’t protecting your business data already, you should consider cloud backup. MozyPro makes it easy and affordable to back up your data and make it easily accessible to you no matter where you are. If you’re interested in helping others use Mozy to protect their information, you can learn more about our Reseller program.
Is your website as classy as your brand?
For Williams-Sonoma, Inc., the goal is to match great looking Web pages with top-shelf analytics to keep track of customers.
“Data science is brand building here,” said Mohan Namboodiri, VP of Customer Analytics for the San Francisco-based retailer. “We have a heritage of scouring the world for fantastic products,” he told the audience at the Teradata 2013 Partners conference earlier this month in Dallas. “We bring that same sensibility to doing our data analytics.”
While Williams-Sonoma began with a traditional brick-and-mortar store and a mail-order catalogs, the company has “come of age online,” he said.
Namboodiri explained that there are several routines and techniques the company uses to track customers. Here are some of the highlights:
Segment users by persona
- Williams-Sonoma groups site visitors into various usage clusters and behaviors. These groups can help Namboodiri’s team understand what different online shoppers are trying to do and how they’re using the site. This both helps inform site navigation and improve conversion rates.
- Each browsing session is tracked with a unique cookie to determine what customers are doing. Data is used to provide feedback to personas; allowing the company to group customers and test the performance of the personae.
Guide customers based on their actions
- Various triggers have been programmed to respond to particular customer actions. For example, if a visitor searches for an item that’s put on sale in its stores, he would be guided to the best way to buy. “It could be borderline creepy, but it is a sale and so saving customers money trumps that,” he said.
Apply online data to retail forecasts
- The more online visitors buy a particular items, the more the company stocks them at retail outlets. This information impacts Williams-Sonoma’s supply chain and even inventory decisions of stores in particular neighborhoods. Namboodiri’s team analyzes these purchases over time to help improve each store’s inventory moving forward. Given the number of different furniture styles, colors, and options, you can imagine this can be quite critical to having the right goods in the right stores.
Like any great Web storefront, Williams-Sonoma recognizes that design and analytics will always be a work in progress. That’s why Namboodiri and his team constantly experimenting with other ideas to keep things fresh. At the Teradata conference, there were no shortage of great ideas. By developing a website that elegantly weaves together design and analytics, good things happen for both company and customer.
While the digital age has changed much about education, the same cannot be said about how college students buy their textbooks. Twice every school year, broke students flock to their local bookstore and inevitably overpay for required reading materials.
Greg Brooks, the founder of Textbook Assault, thinks there should be a more student-friendly alternative.
“There is an oligopoly with the textbook industry,” said Brooks. “Over the last 30 years, five major publishers have essentially bought up all the smaller companies and now control the price of books. They set the prices of textbooks sky high: the price has risen almost 750% since 1978 (compared to less than a 250% increase in inflation).”
For whatever reason, the internet hasn’t done much to corner the untapped market either. While Amazon.com is a popular outlet, it doesn’t always boast the lowest prices. And if students want to bargain hunt, they might have to search upwards of 20 textbook websites—individually—before stumbling upon that one adequately priced copy of Introduction to Organic Chemistry.
Brooks believes there’s an opportunity to change how students shop for textbooks. Textbook Assault’s approach is to become the “Kayak.com of textbooks. “Like Kayak.com does for flights, Textbook Assault instantly searches the internet for the cheapest textbooks options. The key difference, however, is that users can checkout directly from Textbook Assault—even though the company doesn’t actually possess any inventory.
Brooks also feels a sense of responsibility for the Cup Noodles-consuming generation.
“If one of our textbook partners cancels the order, we refill it for the student—often at a loss,” said Brooks. “And even if something gets lost in the mail or a student wants to return a book, we take care of that as well.”
Textbook Assault claims that the average site user saves over $3,000 as compared to either the traditional college store or inefficient internet options. Because Brooks’ site is essentially the first of its kind, the founder is equally excited about how the textbook industry could evolve.
“The textbook industry is ripe for innovation and it will come sooner than later,” said Brooks. “We know what the status quo is and it was easy enough to provide the best solution for the status quo so we quickly did that. But, the innovation is what students need and that is what we will provide in the future. What that actually is, only time will tell.”