smartphone

Phone Cases That Do More

**This post contains affiliate links**

Most people with cell phones consider cases a necessary add-on. After all, who wants to be left in the lurch with a shattered screen or malfunctioning phone after it has a little lovetap with the ground? Phone cases are also a way to show off a bit of individuality (since we all have the same 2-3 phones, it’s nice to feel like we’re standing out in some small way). My favorite former case was my iPhone 5’s Otterbox, which finally had to be retired, but if I dropped my phone it would just bounce right back up into my hand (more or less).

Although phone cases are a necessity nowadays, there are a variety of functional cases that can actually benefit your business while protecting your phone.

In1 Case Tool Kit: If you’re like me, you don’t think a whole lot about having a tool kit until that moment strikes when you suddenly need one. The In1 Case not only has a built-in kit with different tools, including ball point pens, a nail file, tweezers, a set of scissors, a Philips screwdriver, a flat-head screwdriver, a bottle opener, and a kick stand. So, you probably aren’t going to be able to do any major renovation projects with this phone case, but you can safely remove a splinter or tidy up your nails before a meeting on-the-go. And, it’s TSA compliant, so you can still travel with it.

Lifeproof: Lifeproof is perfect for anyone who needs something that’s a step up from Otterbox (which I wasn’t even sure was possible until recently). For those working around a lot of water, dirt, or out in the elements in general, this case has you (and your phone) covered. Beyond just being waterproof, this case can remain submerged in 2 meters of water for up to an hour without any damage to your phone. It can handle a drop from 2 meters high, and you can take it on your next ski trip without worrying about snow getting inside. This case is perfect for anyone who is active/adventurous/maybe a tad careless.



Megaverse Anti-Gravity: If you’ve ever tried watching a YouTube tutorial on something that requires both hands while also trying to hold your phone, you’re not alone in this predicament. Instead of trying to grow a third arm, the Megaverse Anti-Gravity case is the perfect solution. This case can stick to just about any surface: “…windows, mirrors, whiteboards, metal, kitchen cabinets, tile, flat car dashboards and more.” You can lift weights or bake while binge-watching your latest show on Netflix and not having to worry about dropping a dumbbell or spilling flour all over your phone. It’s also perfect for hands-free selfies/live-videos. The cases are also slightly more customized, with built-in wallets and bottle-openers (why have a case that can only do one cool thing?)

Cases that Charge: A lot of freelancers or even just on the move a lot during the workday and don’t have time to sit around plugged into a wall, a phone case that acts as a battery pack may be a good idea for you. Since there are so many different types of phones out there, I’m just linking to the Amazon best seller list (personally I’m an iPhone user but Samsung is represented here as well). Continuing on the “more than one cool thing” idea, some of these cases have kickstands or other features.

Edible Gummy iPhone Case: This was an intriguing find during internet travels that I had to look into. Although I’m not convinced this case provides a lot of protection to your phone, you can still at least gnaw on your phone case if you find yourself trapped somewhere without access to other food. The flavors are pretty intriguing, too, with offerings like Bubble Tea, Fermented Apple, and…Fish Lips? I also really enjoyed the product photo (below).

Having a phone inevitably means having a phone case, but you might be able to find something that can bring something extra to the table for you and/or your business.



Six Phone Apps Worth Paying For (For Your Business)

So I was sitting in an airport when I downloaded Osmos without even a second thought of paying for it. It was a fun game (and totally mesmerizing if you never have played… your objective as a bubble is to get bigger by absorbing other bubbles. It’s like more fluid Tetris).

And yet, I totally hesitate when it comes to spending money on apps for functional things like my business. I get that it’s probably because business apps seem more expensive (or maybe your phone is supposed to be your destination for fun). I will say, I’ve been glad to have paid for some of these features because they are handy, have saved me money, or simply made me look good to the professional people I have the pleasure of dealing with. Here are six apps I have paid for and, looking back, I’m glad I’ve done so:

Split Screen Multitasking ($3.99)

How many times have you wanted to watch a Youtube video while checking your Facebook messages? I used to like how my phone made me do one thing at a time but now that I know this exists, I am not sure what I did before.

Cloze ($159.99 annually)

Hope you’ve picked yourself off the floor from reading that price but here’s my thing: I have A LOT of contacts to manage and sometimes, I need to be prodded to contact them. I also want to classify people (Customer, Family, etc) and add notes about them (birthday, kids’ names)… and have things like phone number and email addresses automatically synced. For all that $160/year doesn’t seem so nuts. Plus you can try it for two weeks free and see if it’s you’re thing before buying.

Quickbooks Online (Monthly fee)

So many people have tried to tell me that I should install their free Quickbooks on ONE COMPUTER. This terrifies me for many reasons which is why I use Quickbooks Online. But the best thing I wasn’t expecting about Quickbooks Online is being with a customer and having them say “I think I owe you a check, can you remind me of how much that was?” I’m able to tell them in about thirty seconds and send them a receipt, right from my phone. If it costs a few bucks to get paid faster, in the long run it is worth it for you not having to chase people. Trust me, I resisted forever and now I am a total convert.



Genius Scan+ ($6.99)

So the free version of this app served me for years. You can scan PDFs and email them to yourself or other people. It was great for collating, say, all my physical receipts together every year… until I realized that since I don’t have automated backups on my phone (I know, I know) it could all go poof. The pro version automatically syncs things into whatever Dropbox folder I want and I personally appreciate the backup. The scanning is great on this; I’ve had some people come into Anchorspace looking for a scanner and when they see the results of me scanning with this app, they are blown away. If you need a historical photo scanned to retouch, by all means go to a real and high quality scanner, but if you just need to get a lease to your lawyer, this is more than adequate, doing things like straightening out the document and finding the edges of scanned items automatically for crisp edges.

It looks like they have a cool app called Genius Sign too, which allows you to sign and annotate documents (how many times have you printed something only to sign it and rescan it?)

MileIQ ($59.99 annually)

I resisted this for years thinking I could keep track of own driving. I downloaded this app as a free trial and within the first month, I saw how many business meetings I drove to I wasn’t counting. I got more mileage tax credit than I paid for the annual subscription. Also, classifying drives is something I can do while sitting waiting, say, for a doctor’s appointment where I can check off a business to-do rather than just waste time on my phone. Generating my spreadsheet of driven miles every year for my accountant made me crazy but this year, it’s going to be a one click thing.

Note: This is an affiliate link where you save 20% and I get a $25 kick back if you sign up.

iMovie ($4.99)

You know when you take a video and think ‘Gosh, only ten seconds of this is actually funny’. Having iMovie on your phone lets you lop off those too-long videos. So you can just send the part where your dog runs toward you in the snow without the part where she stops and pees a little. Remember that some light video editing before uploading a video is something 99% of people don’t do so by even trying to do this before uploading to Facebook, your customers will take notice and appreciate (plus you can add your website URL at the end or something similarly useful in case it ‘goes viral’).

Point is, our phones are less the music players/gaming devices they started out as and more like computers that help us run our businesses. As such, investing in them can be a no brainer for your business or productivity.



Non-Profits And Live Video

This month’s upcoming email newsletter is going to be all about live video. Click here to subscribe if you want to learn more!

As non-profits increasingly use video to tell their story (or have individuals try to tell another story as in the Planned Parenthood controversy), live video is going to play an increasingly important role.

Live videos have a couple things going for them:

  1. They are not expected to be highly edited or scripted, meaning production takes less time.
  2. They are transparent, as the people in live videos are not only off the cuff but responding to online or real life commenters as the comments are made.



Live Video For Donors

So I’ll admit it, I couldn’t find any non-profits using Periscope to solicit donations. There are certainly ideas out there of how it could work but no compelling example.

Sometimes though, innovation starts in the business world. And while you may be thinking that you could broadcast a live event or founder question and answer or someone/something your donations have helped, you may be thinking “Building goodwill makes sense, but where does the money come in?”

This:

cash-me

Since people are watching from their phone, they are also paying from their phone. Services like Cash.me were the missing link for me to ‘get it’ in terms of how people can make actual money on Periscope. So why couldn’t someone, live watching you rescue a whale or give a child a pair of shoes, send you money while watching your non-profit doing real work in real time?



Live Video For Colleagues

It’s, of course, easy for non-profits to go right to the donors as a first audience. As a money grubbing capitalist (something I say mostly jokingly), it is certainly where my mind goes first!

But lots of non-profits work with other organizations or have an occasion to get colleagues together. It made me think of how the City of Vancouver, despite being large, can have citizens involved in it’s initiatives via live video on Periscope. They used Twitter to talk about it:

twitter-periscope

They used Instagram to talk about it:

instagram-periscope-vancover

And I’m sure they used other social media to talk about it. If you missed talking about it and wanted to, I dare say it was your fault. 🙂 So Periscope could be used to get all your colleagues in the ‘same room’ in a way that’s both easier for everyone.



Live Video For Who You Serve

As a non-profit, you also have a group of people who benefit from your work. And while we saved this important group for last, I am sure you can also see opportunities with educating those you serve about the work you’re doing with them so you can do it better.

The Mayo Clinic has a lot of informational videos (I missed the live #colonoscopy- ‘bum’mer). They get major points for educational content and hashtag usage.

mayo-clinic-periscope

Interestingly, they videotape their radio show as well, showing how you can have the same content be in multiple formats to ensure it reaches a large audience.

(In putting out these blog posts, I don’t want you to read this and think “Sigh, one more thing we have to do.” Instead, this is meant to inspire you to think “Oh, this would help us solve X issue” or “We’d do Y better with Periscope”.) Like everything online, Periscope is a tool in the giant hardware store that is the internet. And with that in mind, we’re working on a series of these posts about live video so stay tuned! In the meantime, are you brave enough for live video? Let us know!

This month’s latest email newsletter will be all about live video. Click here to subscribe to it!



Our Phones Are Listening

Feeling watched? You might be being listened to instead.

Feeling watched? You might be being listened to instead.

When I log into Gmail, answer some correspondence, then browse the internet, I am never surprised that I am being pitched social media reports or task management software… because all that is what I’ve been writing about in my emails. This is the same reason that, if you browsed my email while I was logged in, I wouldn’t freak out about you seeing anything in particular. Passwords and other information that is sensitive are typically sent via encrypted messages or other means and what remains is a ‘Hey did you do this?’ ‘Yes, I did that’ back and forth of a typical work correspondence.

I’ve often teased that my friends know to call me if they want the dirt; in my online life, I am an open book.

Listening to the Note To Self podcast recently, I heard the story of a guy who was singing to his dog before work (the song was ‘Every time I say goodbye, I cry a little…’ something that I could have done myself if I was still living alone with my dog and watching her sad face as I got ready for work). He puts his iPhone on shuffle and out of the thousands of songs that could be playing, guess which one does.

The interview went in depth with Walter Kirn who wrote a recent article in The Atlantic called ‘If you’re not paranoid, you’re crazy’.

The summary: our phones are listening to us. Our web cams are recording us. We are being watched, even when we think we have logged out for the day.

Now, my life has always been if I am on my computer, I get how I’m being watched. But the fact that my phone could sit charging while listening to my husband and I argue or my friend and I have a heart to heart… that’s where it crosses the line for me.



The article I’ve linked above discusses a tech person who throws parties and insists everyone leave their phones in their locked cars, ideally with the batteries taken out. There’s a lot in there if you take the time to read it.

All of it makes me ask myself, do the people in this article know something I don’t? And if so, why am I not listening?

In all the user agreements that none of us read, apparently it doesn’t mention that we aren’t being recorded. Plus, why does every new app seem to want access to our microphone?

It makes me wonder what tasks I can do with my phone off that I have been a little lazy about:

  1. Bringing my digital camera with me for photo opps.
  2. Sending out correspondence via handwritten notes.
  3. Scanning my receipts and other documents to file away with my Doxie scanner.
  4. Buying stuff from local merchants with cash.
  5. Trying to hang out with people in person.
  6. Wearing a watch again so I can leave my phone places. (I often bring it with me just for the time keeping purposes!)

In any case, I am happy to know this is happening and think of ways I can go ‘offline’ a little more often, not just for the good of my body but to avoid being spied on.

Podcast discussing this is approximately 30 mins: http://www.wnyc.org/story/walter-kirn-paranoid-crazy/ Educate yourself… and as I educate myself, I am happy to share what I learn with you.



The State Of The Mobile User

People like us are always telling people to think of the mobile user.

I know it seems like we are making up just how important this group of people are and it’s easy to assume that it’s only young people using their phones. This, my friends, is the state of the mobile phone user.

Mobile use is ticking up, are you thinking about how your website fits in?

Mobile use is ticking up, are you thinking about how your website fits in?

Mobile users are spending time on their phones.

The most frequent thing I hear (usually from older people while I meet with them face-to-face): “It’s only you young people who care about mobile phones.” They have clearly never watched my mom and her friends on their iPhones and iPads. Some facts:

The average user spends 3.3 hours a day on their phone.

85% of people (this is all people, all ages) say that mobile devices are a central part of their everyday life.

60% of social media time is spent on smartphones and tablets. 

Mobile-Apps-2014-comScore-1-e1407115434294

Mobile users are making purchases.

This is clearly the thing businesses care the most about and as much as I don’t want to hit people in the wallets, sometimes that is the way to get people thinking about their website on a mobile phone:

The more consumers are considering a purchase, the more likely they are to use their smartphones to find product information and reviews.

67% of shoppers were more likely to buy from a mobile-compatible website.

37% of consumers are more likely to buy from mobile-optimized websites.

67% are shopping online and 43% are planning a trip on their mobile phone.

stateofmobile2014featureimage

Most websites fall short for the mobile user.

So if up until now, you’ve kept your head down and pretended that mobile users don’t exist, for awhile that was fine… but now, it’s giving people not only a reason not to make a purchase but to have a bad taste in their mouth about your brand:

73% of users accessed websites on mobile devices (only 20% of companies have mobile optimized websites).

88% of online consumers won’t return to a website after a bad mobile experience.

55% of companies are currently conducting user experience testing. (85% of user experience problems can be solved by testing with 5 users.)

87% of Fortune 500 companies have an easy to find search field on the homepage of their website.

27% of consumers will leave if you don’t have a mobile-optimized website. 

Am I saying this because I am a jerk who wants to scare you? Of course not! I just want you to think about your mobile user, who wants to buy things from you and like you!

So do yourself a favor and get five people to try out the mobile version of your website and get feedback from them. According to the stat above, that’ll fix 85% of your problems and it’s a relatively simple thing to do. 

Sources:

25 User Experience Facts and Stats (SkyhookWireless.com)

73 Smartphone and Tablet Facts Every Marketer Needs (Heidi Cohen)

Social Media Engagement: The Surprising Facts About How Much Time People Spend On The Major Social Networks (Business Insider)

Marketing Monday: Mobile Phones 101

Have you ever looked at your website on an iPhone, Blackberry, or Android phone? Have you looked at your website on an iPad? You might want to test it out because more and more people are getting to your website that way.

Wikipedia's mobile site gets rid of the sidebars but still let's you do the most important thing: search.

Wikipedia's mobile site gets rid of the sidebars but still let's you do the most important thing: search.

Here are some fun facts about mobile websites:

  • 93% of the population in the United States owns a cell phone.
  • 20% of mobile phone owners own a smartphone.
  • Businesses distributed 2.3 million mobile coupons in 2010 (and that number is expected to be 70 million by 2013).

(More facts and source links here: http://www.momares.com/blog/mobile-marketing-facts-and-predictions-for-2011)



In other words, more and more people are accessing the web via mobile devices, so it’s only logical to think about how your website looks on these different platforms.

It’s clear that larger companies have the resources to have thought of this earlier on. But smaller sites are also getting in on the action:

The side effect of making your website more mobile friendly: it makes it easier for people using mobile devices to buy stuff.

The side effect of making your website more mobile friendly: it makes it easier for people using mobile devices to buy stuff.

How do you know if your device is mobile friendly? Opera has a demo where you can try out your website in a typical mobile browser: http://www.opera.com/mobile/demo/ Not to say this is the be all end all but it can at least give you an idea. (You could also ask friends or your web designer to do some testing for you.)

Here are a few tips to keep in mind about your mobile website:

1) Don’t use Flash. iPhones (and iPads) can’t load it.
2) Be conscious of load time. To test how quickly your site loads, try this simulator. Slower load times mean better loading on cell phones.
3) Make sure your contact information is on your main page.
4) Your mobile site is prime real estate; put essential information (versus all information) on the mobile version of your site.

So as the mobile web continues to grow, think about where your website fits in. It only makes sense. It is 2011 after all!

Anyone know of websites with really cool mobile versions? Link them below in the comments so we can all check them out.

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