Featured

The Consumer Convenience Of Smartphones Has Arrived In The Business World

As a consumer, your smartphone has transformed your world. It condenses gadgets that would once have filled an entire house down to something that’s the size of a deck of cards. Your smartphone is your radio, GPS, phone, computer, gyroscope, TV, torch and on and on. But now that same level of convenience is coming to the business world. Yes, businesses can benefit from all those consumer-facing products too. But there are also some rather specific needs that businesses have that consumers don’t. Now the smartphone is gobbling up these functions too. Check this out.

Quick Response Codes For Customer Outreach

A QR code is essentially a form of advertising for your business. QR codes are usually sent out on flyers or plastered on posters. Customers scan the QR image, and then they’re forwarded to your site or get shown a map of your event. The idea is to get passing customers to see your advert and then take an action themselves to directly get involved in what you’re doing.

Here’s the cool thing. Businesses are leveraging the phone’s ability to do the job of a barcode scanner. This opens up countless opportunities to do business better. Take estate agents for instance. Estate agents can use QR codes on their “For Sale” signs. This mean that people who are just passing by the property can instantly be directed to information about it on the web. All they have to do is point their camera at the sign and then get forwarded to the correct information on the internet.

The Death Of The Till

In the past, if you wanted to take payments, you had to have a till, or at least payment terminal. But now smartphones can double up as a credit card reader too. That’s a big deal for businesses. Up until now, travelling companies have had to lug around bulking payment terminals. They’ve also had to install separate systems and pay for the units themselves. But now simple software in smartphones is causing terminals and tills to “dematerialize.” They’re just not needed anymore. Currently, payments accepted by smartphones are on the rise. According to the data, 11 percent of payments were taken by a smartphone last year.

The End Of Human Personal Assistants

Perhaps the most interesting development of the last few years is the fact that we’re no longer dematerializing gadgets. We’re dematerializing people. Business smartphones already take a significant chunk of legwork away from accountants and secretaries. After all, business users already have software that removes the need for a lot of accountancy work.

But new developments in artificial intelligence look set to change the game yet again. Rather than requiring a team of support staff, many business leaders may opt to use the AI on their phones. Smartphone AI will be able to do far more than it is able to do today. For instance, it’ll be much better at understanding voice command. In fact, according to a recent press release from Google, voice recognition is now almost as good as humans. It’ll also be able to other cool things like fill in your diary, just from monitoring your emails or from voice command.

Read More...

Life Hack

US Broadband Usage Decreases As More Go Mobile-only

Washington (AFP) – Adoption of home broadband has stalled in the United States, as more Americans opt for Internet on the go with mobile devices, a survey showed Monday.

A Pew Research Center survey found 67 percent of Americans had high-speed Internet at home in 2015, down slightly from 70 percent in 2013.

Pew said that this “small, but statistically significant” decline puts broadband back to 2012 levels, and is likely due to the growing number of adults who are “smartphone only” Internet users.

The decline “could represent a blip or might be a more prolonged reality,” the Pew report said.

Some 13 percent of those surveyed said they used smartphones exclusively for Internet in 2015, up from eight percent two years earlier.

Overall, the percentage with Internet access through either a smartphone or a home broadband subscription has changed little since 2013 — 80 percent this year compared with 78 percent two years earlier.

Pew researchers noted, however, that people dependent on smartphones sometimes face challenges in some online activities, such as applying for jobs.

“Those who are ‘smartphone dependent’ for access encounter distinct challenges,” said researcher John Horrigan.

“If they have both kinds of access, most people prefer to use their smartphone for getting in touch with family or friends but prefer a device that uses a home broadband connection for watching video. At the same time, many ‘smartphone only’ users sometimes struggle to do some of the things they want to do online.”

Many of the “smartphone only” Americans are people with relatively low incomes, African Americans or rural residents.

Those without broadband at home acknowledged they were at a disadvantage in terms of finding a job, getting information about health or government services or keeping up with news.

Among those without home broadband, one-third cited the monthly cost of service as the main reason while 10 percent cited the cost of owning a computer.

Pew found 68 percent in the survey owned a smartphone, a sharp rise from 55 percent two years ago.

The survey also found 15 percent of adults were “cord cutters,” who lack a paid cable or satellite television service.

Many said they are able to get the television they want from online sources like Netflix, Hulu or YouTube.

The report is based on a survey of 2,001 American adults in June and July of 2015, with comparison to research conducted in 2013.

The margin of error for the latest survey was estimated at 2.5 percentage points.

Read More...

News

Facebook Tweaks The Mobile App To Improve News Feed & Offer Offline Feature

For several months now Facebook has been tweaking its mobile app and is making improvements to enhance user experience even at slow internet speeds. Few more updates are rolled out now to improve the way users access and use the FB app on slower internet connections.

In a recent Facebook blog post, the company stated that “our mission with News Feed is to connect people with the stories that matter most to them, but if people’s News Feeds aren’t loading because of poor internet connections, we can’t show them the most relevant stories.”

Facebook also added, “as a next step in improving people’s experiences on slower internet connections, we are shipping several changes that will more efficiently show you relevant stories in your News Feed when you’re on a slow connection and will let you compose comments on posts when you’re offline.”

Facebook is currently testing an important update in which it tracks and monitors all the previous downloaded stories on a user’s phone to identify the most relevant and and unread important stories and rank them based on importance. This will significantly reduce the loading as that Facebook can now display relevant stories that aren’t seen yet, instead of showing the loading icon (a spinner), while user looks for new stories.

This is a significant update especially for countries like India and other South Asian countries, where the average mobile internet speed is relatively low.

Read More...