Archive for “January, 2013”

Dabbling on the Darkside: An iOS’ers Android Confession

Jordan Benedet is a Manager on the Client Strategy and Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @jbenedet.

I’ve been an iPhone owner since 2008 when the 3G first came to Canada, although my initial experience with iOS came slightly before this when I bought, and quickly sold, a first generation iPod touch. At this time most people had a simple flip or candy bar phone with highly advanced T9 text input and battery life of over a week. A smartphone was a BlackBerry, and having one meant you were a rich and powerful businessman who needed to be able to tap out important emails on a tiny keyboard 24 hours a day. Things have changed since then, mainly due to smartphones achieving the fastest adoption rate in tech history.

I’ve also been an iPhone / Apple evangelist, enlisting friends and family to jump into the iPhone world. My wife used to say she would never like or use a phone as much I do, but now I see her continually switching between her second iPhone and an iPad all evening while relaxing. It is not surprising to hear that 84% said they could not go a single day without their phone, and 60% of people would rather lose their wallet than their phone.

A Spark for Change

After years of living in the iOS ecosystem, I found myself a little bored. Normally when getting a new gadget I get excited to learn and tweak it, but when I got my shiny new 4S last year I felt like nothing had changed. The feeling was correct, because in my opinion nothing substantial had changed; it just had a better camera, in a faster and thinner phone. When iOS 6.0 came out the feeling continued; it had brought absolutely nothing new to the table that particularly interested me. Late in 2012, I started seeing many others writing about the same thoughts I was having, the most notable titled “An iPhone Lover’s Confession: I Switched To the Nexus 4. Completely” from Ralf Rottmann on Gizmodo. I felt the urge for change, and decided that I needed to dabble on the metaphorical dark side. After validating that my key IOS apps now had Android counterparts (something that was not the case last year), I was officially ready to take the plunge.

Jump Right Into It

It only took a day before I had explored Android, and customized the phone to my liking. It wasn’t long before the phone was rooted and I was installing a variety of custom ROMs. The big screen and larger phone took a bit longer to get used to. I still find it very awkward and cumbersome to reach the frequently used top left corner of the screen while holding it with only my right hand, but viewing anything on the large screen is quite amazing. I now realize that I would not want a phone any bigger in dimensions than the S3, and I would actually prefer if the width was shaved down a few mm as well in order to fit in my hand better.

I also liked how 3rd party apps can easily be made default for specific actions. The notification centre was a dream, allowing quick access to anything from music controls to system settings. It took me a while to get used to the “back” and “menu” buttons, but it wasn’t long before they became second nature. When I first picked up my old iPhone after a week with the Galaxy, I found myself trying to clumsily press a non-existent back button.

The Bad

Both operating systems are not perfect, and they both have pros and cons. I really like the Galaxy S3 because of the flexibility / customizability of Android, using the large screen real estate, and the hardware back button. The negative side of things for me really centres on the battery life. Using the phone drains the battery much quicker than my 4S did (with LTE off too), and it also drains much quicker in standby. Micro managing background apps and resources also can be a pain because you never know if a background app is just sucking your battery dry.

What I Miss

I do miss my iPhone for some very specific reasons.

  • The first is iMessage; most of my friends and family all have iPhones so group text chats are now much more difficult now. Replacement 3rd party apps just aren’t the same since Apple introduced the blue text bubbles!
  • The second is battery life. I don’t care if it is not user-replaceable, my iPhone simply had a longer lasting battery during every day usage.
  • Lastly, I do miss the passive multi tasking and push notifications that iOS uses. This definitely helps battery life, since I find Android apps that utilize notifications require a background service to be always running sucking up CPU cycles.

I haven’t decided if I will stay on Android permanently, but I’m definitely keeping both devices as it allow me to become an expert on both platforms. I’m going to wait patiently to see what IOS7 offers up – your move Apple.

The New Wave of 3D Printing

Karly Gaffney is a Manager on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group.

I hadn’t paid much attention to 3D printing until the productions started applying to me and I could see the uses making sense in real-world situations. With each new article I read, my reactions have gone from “that’s neat” to “holy crap, they can do that?” Today, I’d love to get my hands on one.

For the benefit of any readers who aren’t entirely familiar with 3D printing, here’s a quick overview: A 3D printer produces three dimensional solid objects from a digital model through what’s called ‘additive processes’ which essentially means the printer is laying down successive layers of material to create the final product.

As I dug deeper, I was surprised to learn that 3D printing has been around since the 1980s, but early examples were large, expensive and had many limitations. Fast forward thirty years, today we’re seeing 3D printed guitars, ultrasounds and the ability to turn yourself into an action figure via 3D printing.  The projects I love the most are the ones that both provide a service while making the technology relatable and accessible.

Companies like the two I’ve highlighted below have taken 3D printing from an obscure technology and turned it into an affordable offering that consumers can relate to (and want to have in their home.)

3D Printing Photo Booth

The 3D Photo Booth was produced by the team at PARTY (Tokyo) and essentially it was this very cool pop-up store that allows people to be mapped in HD 3D and then printed out as little mini-me versions (between 10cm and 20cm tall) in full colour creating a semi-realistic 3D printed version of yourself to take home.

The great thing about this concept is that the consumer only pays $250 for the service, which is really reasonable considering what you’re getting.  If I had access to something like this I’d want to use a memorable travel photo like standing on top of Machu Picchu or summiting Kilimanjaro (neither of which I’ve done, but they’re on the list)

Crayon Creatures

Now this beats the heck out of hanging a drawing on the fridge for a few weeks until it loses its luster. The brains behind Crayon Creatures is Spanish designer Bernat Cuni, who is offering a service that takes your child’s drawings and transforms them into a digital model that can be 3D printed in full colour sandstone material. Below is an example of one of his prints (I’m already plotting the theft of my nephew’s drawings the next time we visit.)

Would you get a family photo 3D-printed for your home or invest in a 3D-print of your child’s drawing? Have you seen any other cool 3D-printing concepts that made you stop and consider trying it out yourself?


Social Media Training Gets Formal in 2013

James Cooper is a strategist on the Content and Community team at Social Media Group (SMG). Follow @jamescooper

In his list of trends for 2013 on Fast Company, Ryan Holmes addresses a recent Harvard Business Review survey, which reveals that only 12 percent of companies using social media feel they are doing so effectively.

With businesses making increased use of social media, the demand for specialized training will surely grow. As Holmes points out, “social media skills will join email as part of basic business literacy in the digital age.”

Beverly Macy shares similar views with Holmes in her Huffington Post article, which lists her social media predictions for 2013. According to Macy, enterprises that are not fluent in social media will be at a competitive disadvantage. “All employees must be exposed to basic social media training and education to attain a knowledge baseline in the organization,” as Macy puts it.

Holmes stresses the importance for companies to provide “social media compliance training to ensure that workers in sensitive industries from finance to healthcare uphold regulatory standards while taking advantage of social media’s benefits.”

To make enterprise social media training a reality, Macy predicts that most companies will need outside consultation and guidance. She believes that companies will need to develop and integrate entirely new systems to train within the organization. As she points out, “most of today’s education systems inside the enterprise rely on technologies and procedures that do not encompass social platforms.”

And what’s higher education doing to meet the growing demand for social media education? Holmes thinks we can “expect to see more social media coursework at universities, as well as dedicated social media MBA programs, as schools rise to the challenge….”

Having trained clients to use social media at an enterprise-level and instructed social media courses at a university-level, I have long felt that social media training is an issue that deserves greater attention and resources from most companies and academic institutions. That said, I strongly agree with Holmes’ and Macy’s predictions, and I hope we see them realized in a big way in 2013 and years to come.

What do you think? What’s your organization doing to train staff?

Proving Social Media ROI Webinar 01/15/13 – Join us!

How can you conclusively demonstrate the return on your social media investment? Research performed for The Social Customer Engagement Index 2012 revealed that two of the biggest obstacles in engaging with customers on social networks were management buy-in (31%) and determining ROI (28%) – and of course, management is more likely to buy in if the payoff is clear.

But the path to social media ROI is highly variable, depending on your business, your market, your customers and your company culture. And being able to quantify any investment through ROI is also key in justifying your social media budget ‘ask’.

Join us for a debate on defining, and implementing measurable ROI to every kind of businesses – register here for an exclusive Social Media Today Best Thinkers Webinar: Proving Social Media ROI – What is Engagement Worth?