Remind isn’t a game or social network—it’s a texting tool used in many parts of the U.S. to establish stronger lines of communication among teachers, students, and their parents.
About 1 million teachers and 17 million parents and students have downloaded Remind, a free app developed by a San Francisco startup of the same name. In such states as Texas, Alabama, and Georgia, 40 percent to 50 percent of teachers use the software, the company says. Educators can update homework assignments, solicit volunteers for field trips, and send photos from the classroom without having to count on paper handouts making their way into and out of backpacks or on parents regularly checking their e-mail.
This is the age of invisible apps “that just notify us when something is going on,” as trend spotter and venture capitalist Mary Meeker said recently. Cyriac Roeding, 41, started reaching out to shoppers in 2010. Shopkick’s cofounder and CEO, and a German expat, he did so via ultrasound, a high-frequency signal that communicates with the app, verifies shoppers are inside the store and offers them kicks. “I’d done some soul-searching,” says Roeding, who wondered, “What’s the intersection of mobile and the physical world? The answer was easy: It’s called shopping.”
The Arccos ($399, arccos.com), which goes on sale this month, is like having your very own caddie, except it doesn't carry clubs or polish balls. This set of 14 gumdrop-shape sensors, which stick into the top of your golf clubs like thumbtacks, keeps track of your game and suggests appropriate clubs to use. It's similar to a competing product called Game Golf, but that model requires you to clip a vibrating beeper-like device to your pants; when I used it, I was never sure if my shots were registering or my table was ready at the Olive Garden.
Leveraging my smartphone's GPS via Bluetooth, the Arccos app not only figured out what course I was on, it knew I was at the 18th hole, 393 yards from the green. (The app has access to maps of 17,225 golf courses in the U.S.—which the company says is all of them.)
Apple Inc. created the blueprint for a smartphone when it covered the touch screen of its first iPhone in glass instead of plastic. Now, it is betting $700 million that sapphire, a harder and more expensive material, can replace glass and better protect future devices.
The first sapphire display screens for the forthcoming larger iPhone and smartwatch are expected to roll off production lines this month at a Mesa, Ariz., facility that Apple opened with materials manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies Inc.At full capacity, the plant will produce twice as much sapphire as the current output from the nearly 100 manufacturers world-wide, says Eric Virey, a senior analyst at French research firm Yole Développement.
Humin, the app that aims to replace your iPhone contacts app is now in the App Store. Will.i.am, Richard Branson and Angry Birds creator Peter Vesterbacka were all part of the private beta launch a few months back. The app is now ready for everyone with an iPhone today.
Humin hooks into your phone, Facebook and LinkedIn contacts and combines them with your calendar, email and voicemail to provide context to all those people listed in your phone.
“could be the consumer’s best friend in “showrooming.” A button with a new technology dubbed Firefly on the new phone lets you instantly capture that HDTV, a movie poster, a box of cereal — and a lot of data with it. You can store the information, including the price and where to buy it. And of course, a listing if the product is on Amazon.”
But it also has some interesting features like Dynamic Perspective
PayPal operates in more than 200 markets, manages more than 148 million accounts, and facilitates a variety of financial transactions in 26 currencies. In this McKinsey interview PayPal’s vice president and general manager for Continental Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Laurent Le Moal, presents a fascinating picture of the digital payments economy around the world
“In the past, when people just looked at payments, they were looking only at how the process could be made faster—for instance, all the debate around near-field communication. That’s not the problem anymore. Now the challenge is adaptability. How can we work with any form factor that makes sense for the merchants and their customers? What it means for us is not being prescriptive when it comes to the technology or requiring form factors to use PayPal. If it makes sense to integrate with a vendor’s point of sale, we will do that—using what already exists and not asking the merchants to completely change their hardware. If it makes sense for the consumer to use his phone to type in a code, we can also do that—as opposed to using a card to make a transaction. This also means going into the hardware business. PayPal has a device that attaches to a phone or a tablet to accept card payments—and this has been one of the ways to gain entry into these new services and control the entire end-to-end experience.”
“With the rise of digital goods, this approach no longer suffices. Such goods can generate ten times the number of transactions normally expected in traditional e-commerce, but the value is lower. Even if customers are much more engaged, they sometimes generate lower revenues. We still need to determine the marketing implications of this new interaction. And this is just one example of growing diversity. Entering new markets like Russia, Turkey, and Africa requires us to think more about customer segmentation in ways that are more nuanced than we have in the past. The devices these consumers use, the type of goods or services they consume—everything is different, including the way marketing targets them. E-mail marketing needs to evolve in a world where consumers expect high relevance and targeting but also widespread usage of social media. All this has completely changed the media mix—and we’ve brought new media into this mix by adding channels like Twitter and Facebook.”
Launched in July 2010, just months after the iPad reached retail, Flipboard effectively reinvented print periodicals for the tablet form factor, aggregating content from a vast range of publishers, news sources and social networks to create touchscreen-enabled, swipe-friendly personalized magazines bolstered by a growing arsenal of customization tools, multimedia features and sharing options. The free Flipboard app also spearheaded a revolution in digital advertising, introducing full-page, click-through ads that emphasize both design sophistication and reader relevance.
Four years after hitting Apple's App Store, Flipboard boasts more than 100 million active readers and adds 250,000 to 300,000 users every day. The company touts direct partnerships with more than 8,000 publishers.
I had traveled from New York to Nairobi to learn how to do exactly this—to pay for things with a phone—and to understand why Kenya has gained a reputation as the mobile payments future. Almost everyone in the country uses M-pesa (M, for mobile;pesa is payment in Swahili) to transfer money from one phone to another via encrypted short message service, or SMS. In all, there are about 18.2 million active customers in a nation twice the size of Colorado.
Despite delusions of being an early adopter, I’d never used my phone to pay for anything, not even a macchiato at Starbucks. Also, though I believe myself well-traveled, I’d never even set foot in Africa. All to the better, my editors said; there were already too many self-styled experts on how East Africa was leapfrogging more mature economies on mobile payments. My mission was more grounded: survive a 10-day tour on a phone and nothing but a phone.