All posts in “iphone”

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 Connected Evolution

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

Smart Washing Machine

Historically, connecting to the Internet has always been on computers, but over the last five years connectivity is no longer confined to a desktop or laptop – all thanks to the evolution of “smart devices”. Smart, or connected devices are changing how people create, consume, share, and control the content in their life.

Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in January provided preview of the new direction of major electronics manufacturers, and how they plan to design devices that not only provide value by leveraging smart capabilities, but also solve problems in an intuitive way. According to the GSMA and a post at RedWriteWeb, 90% of TVs at CES, 70% of automotive devices, 44% of health devices, and 30% of cameras were Internet connected.

Of all connected devices at CES, 30% were from the “home lifestyle” category, which includes TVs, refrigerators, and even washing machines!

GSMA Stats

What it means for the living room

The potential benefits of having so many connected home devices are mind boggling, but this post covers how these changes could affect the current family living room.

Smart phones changed the way we use our mobile devices. They provided easier and more efficient access to music, games, social media, and communication tools like instant messaging and the almighty email. Most people I know, even the highly skeptical, never looked back after upgrading to a smart phone (be it Android, iPhone, or Blackberry).

A similar principal applies to the connected TVs showcased at CES – picture many of the benefits that a smart phone brings, and apply it to your living room on a screen 10 times bigger. Older TV owners can still rejoice that set top boxes like ROKU, Boxee, or AppleTV, and game consoles such as Xbox can be used to turn any TV into some form of Connected TV.

1. Social TV

People love to talk about TV with friends, which make social elements an integral feature for all connected devices. Social components should be integrated seamlessly when possible. One main problem is that unlike smart phones, TVs are “shared screens” – making it even more important to utilize social privacy elements. Michelle, a colleague here at Social Media Group recently shared her thoughts on The Rise of SocialTV here.

2. Apps

Apps have been integral part of making smart phones the awesome devices they are today. They provide a never-ending supply of new content to learn from or play with. The same is true for TV. Having access to apps will let users control what additional features, games or widgets they want to use, ultimately leading to a more controllable, and enjoyable viewing experience.

3. Custom Streaming

Continuing on the DVR trend, connected TVs will also allow viewers to choose what they want to watch, and when. As content producers continue to align their service offerings to support a streaming model, more people will continue to cut or cancel their cable/satellite bills. Netflix and Hulu have also helped push the streaming model to the mainstream. This is one of the largest game changing features of Connected TV – user control.

Internet Connectivity is no longer a feature that is limited to the top of the line TV models – it’s now a requirement. TV manufacturers have to rethink what a TV is, which includes how to leverage Internet capabilities, but more importantly the overall user experience that allows TVs to interact with traditional computers, smart phones, and tablets.

The Ecosystem Approach

Many major TV manufacturers lost money last year, Sony included. Samsung was fortunate to only incur reduced profit margins. The root causes were eroding retail prices, and sluggish consumer demand. The time has come where device manufacturers have to become content suppliers in order to maintain profitability and survive, which essentially means more ecosystems.

Molly Wood from CNET recently wrote her thoughts on what a connected device ecosystem really means:

A perfectly constructed ecosystem turns a smart phone, a tablet, or even a TV into a symphony of interoperable, always-on, one-stop-shopping gadget glory. No device is just a device, anymore. Now, every device is a platform, and everything works together perfectly

Love it or hate it, Apple pioneered the closed ecosystem with iTunes and iDevices. The closed ecosystem means more consumers are locked in – essentially raising the costs to switch to a different platform. Their strategy is paying off too, which is evident in their recent first-quarter record profit announcement.  Rumors also suggest that Apple is making a big play into the TV market, a move that will definitely shake things up.

Samsung and Microsoft also have the right idea. Samsung has made major moves this year to create an ecosystem that will compete head on with Apple. Their TVs will work seamlessly with both their Tablets and popular (record breaking) smart phones. Microsoft’s new Metro UI will ensure Windows 8 devices, Windows Phones, and Xbox will all share a universal user experience and content repositories. Let’s not forget about Microsoft Kinect, which could bring a Minority Report type experience to your living room!

We’re moving into an all out clash of the TV titans for 2012. Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung will likely continue to fight over patents and designs, while advancing product capabilities, and refining their service offerings.

Clash of Titans - Apple vs Smasung

To Sum it Up

A huge influx in the variety and quantity of connected products are coming directly to consumers, but the true benefit of these changes really comes down to implementation.

Only time will tell if these products solve more problems than they make, but the awesome part is that this is one of the few circumstances where you can literally sit on the couch and enjoy the changes!

Social Media Roundup for October 7th, 2011

The Shift of Marketing

Marketing channels are shifting as more and more people are starting to realize where they can achieve the strongest effect on their target audience. Recent research conducted by Jonas Colliander and Micael Dahlen from the Stockholm School of Economics compared the publicity effectiveness of social media (blogs) vs. traditional media (online magazines). It was found that blogs can result in a special type of relationship between the blogger and the reader, called a parasocial relationship. This is the illusion of a face-to-face relationship, where readers have a feeling of closeness towards the blogger as if they were friends. On the other hand, magazine writers are seen to just be completing a job and so they are not as trusted.  It is clearly important for marketers to find bloggers that are honest about disclosure and genuine in what they write about brands and products because this is what will build that parasocial relationship and level of trust, making it more likely for readers to then build their own relationships with the brands the blogger has endorsed.

We know that agencies need to put time and effort into researching each blogger and what they are all about before pitching them to promote a product.  Build a relationship with them: get to know them, actually read their blog posts, follow them on Twitter and Facebook, send them an email to introduce yourselves and ask questions. If not, things could take a bad turn for your company and your client. Learn from “The Bloggess” about what not to do when pitching a blogger here or you could be very sorry, about 3 million people sorry. Caution: some of the language may not be SFW!

To further show the shift from traditional marketing channels to social media, check out this Infographic on the ROI of Social Media: Is social media marketing effective? Looks like companies are catching onto this shift in marketing channels, as we can see that 75% of companies plan to increase their use of blog marketing in the coming year!

Taking a closer look at the infographic, we can also see that the majority of marketers are integrating social media into their marketing plans. And not only does social media result in significant drops in marketing costs over the long term but 72% of the marketers researched said social media helped in closing business!


The Great Steve Jobs

This was a very sad week for Apple and everyone really, as we have lost the great innovator, Steve Jobs. My Twitter timeline was filled with tweets about Jobs, everyone tweeted, replied and retweeted until Twitter froze because it could not handle all of the updates! His products have changed our lives and I think he deserves some thanks for the growing numbers in the above Infographic of the ROI of social media because Apple products played a big role in the rise of social media. What are you using right now to read this? Your iPhone, iPad, Macbook? Of course he is not the only maker of this technology but without these devices, I don’t think I would spend as much time on social networks as I do. They definitely make checking your favorite blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts a lot more convenient! And when you like your device you want to spend more time on it.

Take a look at this incredible tribute to Jobs that Twitter employee Miguel Rios put together using all of our tweets expressing love, support and condolences.

Not only did he personally read the 1,000+ tweets in the image, he took the time to order them starting with the most retweeted ones at the top. View the original image on Flickr and  you can actually read the tweets yourself. It is quite amazing.

iOS App Loopcam and the Animated GIF

Oh Internet, look how far you’ve come. From AOL optical disks, IRC chat rooms, GeoCities and <blink>questionable design standards</blink> to celebrity profiles, Klout scores and rounding web company valuations to the nearest billion, you’ve seen a lot.

Throughout these times of exponential growth, dynamic change and elevated user expectations, one lone image format continues on, leaving smiles in it’s wake. I’m of course, talking about the Graphics Interchange Format, more commonly known as GIF.

GIF animated banners were a hallmark of the 1990’s Information Super Highway. Often garish and obnoxious, they prompted users to BUY NOW or CLICK HERE with moving images at a time pre-dating HTML5, Flash rollovers and YouTube.

Yet time marches on. And on today’s modern web, the GIF is technically flawed. It’s palette is limited to a spectrum of only 256 colours and it’s file size can become considerably large as new frames are added for increasingly more complex animations. These technical limits, and the death of the GIF’s most popular authoring tool Adobe ImageReady in 2005 played a key role in the formats descent from the public eye.

Until now.

Largely credited to the runaway success of Tumblr, the GIF is beginning to make it’s return to computer screens across the globe. Today’s GIF is supercharged. Gone are the days of banner ads or Peanut Butter Jelly Time, the GIF’s of today are personal short stories told in only a handful of frames.

Introducing Loopcam.

At the time of this post, the freshly pressed iOS app Loopcam might still be news to some. Introduced as a free App to the store in July of 2011, Loopcam let’s users create GIF-loops on the go and share them with their friends across networks like Twitter and  Facebook.

In addition to basic social sharing capabilities, users can also post their GIF-Loops to a shared Loopcam branded Tumblr where uploaded GIFs can be tagged with a username. By linking directly to the tag, users can in essence, hack their way towards a custom profile.

I’ll be completely transparent here. When first using the app, I felt it was missing something more “social”. Perhaps I was expecting something closer to Instagram, where I have an established profile, I can follow friends, add comments and so on.

Yet despite not meeting my expectations initially, I still couldn’t pull myself away from the app and began to realize that Loopcam is a social network (of sorts). It’s not a full blown offering with mass amounts of VC funding and hype like we’ve come to expect but rather a hand-rolled social offering reminiscent of web efforts from a forgotten time.

As if it were mirroring the struggles of the GIF format, Loopcam is also technically limited, yet it’s making excellent use of free web services like Tumblr to remain viable in today’s social web. And yet again, smiles continue to be left in the wake as Loopcam user-base continues to grow daily.

Call it nostalgia or simply a desire to root for the underdog, the fact remains, Loopcam is new, on the rise and trailer loads of fun to use. It’s taught me to not always expect that new web offerings be fully baked and sometimes, it’s the limitations and idiosyncrasies of a service that truly defines it’s value.


Social Media Roundup: Best of Halloween 2010

This week’s social media roundup is special for Halloween, here are seven of our favorites from around the social web.

Enjoy and have a safe and awesome Halloween from all your friends at Social Media Group.

Quoth the Raven, Nevermore

I always have a soft spot for Edgar Allan Poe’s “Raven”.  I’m pretty fond of the Simpson’s version, but this version read by John De Lancie (who played Q on Star Trek) is excellent. (via BoingBoing)

Foursquare offers Two Halloween 2010 Badges

More treat than trick, Foursquare has released two badges for users this Halloween. Confession: I checked into the office today today just to unlock the badge. I’ve been a sucker for badges since Brownies.

Via Jaunted:

2010 Foursquare Halloween Badges

In order to score Halloween 2010 badge (above, at right), simply check in anytime this weekend, anywhere on Foursquare, but make sure to shout “Happy Halloween!” when you do. The more coveted badge, the Spooky Swarm (above, at left) is only for those hosting the rowdiest parties, as you’ll have to check in at a party spot with as-yet-undisclosed large number of fellow Foursquare checkins. We’re guessing somewhere between 50-100 others, but listen for the full how-to on Twitter over the weekend as people unlock this.

Much healthier than those tasty teeny chocolate bars

All this Halloween-related surfing has made me peckish. Perhaps I should grab one of these Halloween-themed Bento Box Lunches? (via: The Kitchn)
Halloween Bento Box Lunches

Trick-or-Treater Index: Data Crunched for List of Best US Cities

Over at The Daily Beast, Richard Florida writes:

“The idea for the Trick-or-Treater Index came to me several years ago, right after my wife and I spent our first Halloween in Toronto and I wrote about it in my Who’s Your City?. I’d lived in many urban neighborhoods in the United States in New York, Boston, D.C., Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Buffalo, and frankly never seen many trick-or-treaters…”

Chicago, San Diego and Trenton, NJ made the list. For all the details, check out the Best Cities for Trick-or-Treating media gallery at The Daily Beast.

John Savio’s iPhone 4 Costume Rules

(Via Gizmodo)

Adam Frucci at DVICE writes of John Savio’s costume: “This epic homemade costume consists of a jailbroken iPhone 4 hooked up to a 40-inch LED LCD panel, a back camera LED light and a whole lot of polish. The phone connects to the display via VGA out, allowing John to control the screen and display, making it look like a real-deal giant iPhone.”

Awesome halloween costume bonus link: Ben Heck’s Portal Costume (via OhGizmo!)

Best Social Media-Themed Costumes

Staying with costumes, Mashable ran a Social Media Media Halloween Costume Contest this week. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube make a good showing. I’m all about memes as Halloween costumes, so the guy dressed as Sad Keanu gets my vote.

New Yahoo! Game uses Zombies to Teach Economic Theory

Just in time for Halloween, Yahoo! labs developers have released a zombie game that goes beyond the norm (rising from the dead, eating brains, etc) and enters the realm of (gasp) education.

Via PCWorld:

Shambling Hordes is a simple game of territory control that challenges players to assume the mantle of “Zombie Warlord” and conquer a desolate island with a limited supply of undead legions.

Shambling Hordes from Yahoo! Labs

Best Carvings: Pumpkin Geek

Elevating the time-honoured tradition of carving faces into pumpkins for jack-o’-lanterns, is Alex Wer, the Pumpkin Geek who has an incredible online gallery of carvings. Hmm, I wonder if it is too late to order a Social Media Group logo-carved pumpkin?

Pumpkin Geek Yoda

SMG Turns 3 – Saving the 'Bou

The last few months, SMG has been working with a coalition of environmental groups (Forest Ethics, David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace and Canopy) on a campaign to help save the Woodland Caribou and protect their habitat –Ontario’s Southern Boreal Forest.

Last week a couple of tweetups were held in order to draw more awareness for the issue and drive people to to voice their opinions and ask Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to enact the legislation to protect caribou habitat.

In London @BillDeys was so kind to include the ‘Bou during the monthly Geek Dinner meetup at the Black Shire Pub.

In Toronto, SMG celebrated our 3rd anniversary party with a Save the ‘Bou Tweetup at the Pilot Tavern. The ‘Bou Bash included DJ set by @modermod and the infamous @RannieTuringan Photo Booth (Photos from the night will be available on the photojunkie photostream soon, we promise!)

Thanks to everyone who attended and tweeted for the ‘Bou! We all loved reading all of the tweets on the big screen and catching up with some of the best folks in the social media space in TO!

SMG’s role was to set the groundwork for the campaign and after a successful event in Toronto, we have passed the baton back to the groups to continue on in the fight for the right for the ‘Bou to party. To continue following the progress check out the ‘Bou on Facebook and Twitter.

As of today, we have just over 1100 emails sent and every single one counts! So if you have friends and family who you think this cause would be important to, please pass along the site and let’s Save the ‘Bou!


"Rudolph, Imma let you finish, but the Caribou is the best animal (shrug) @savethebou" via @collindouma

New swag: SMG GelaSkins for your iPhone

No doubt about it, the SMG-ers are addicted to mobile. So when we were heading into conference season and needed new SMG company swag, Maggie had the brilliant idea of partnering with Toronto-based GelaSkins to create SMG-branded skins for iPhone. We’re a bit fussy about “promo” (it musn’t be junky or cheap and should serve a useful purpose while making sense for your brand). As users and fans of GelaSkins ourselves we’re totally thrilled with the SMG skins turned out.

SMG GelaSkin

They were officially launched at our 3rd Anniversary #SaveTheBou event last week and are on the ground in Denver at Defrag 2009 this week with Maggie. If you’ve got one of the SMG GelaSkins on your iPod, would you please send us a pic of them with their new lovely swag?  Tag it SMG-swag and twitpic, flickr, or just email us. We’ll create a collection of the who’s who in the industry all showing off their lovely iPhones made lovelier through our SMG GelaSkins.


So that’s our new tchotchke. Despite our focus on all things social media, we think cool, memorable swag is an important part of event marketing. What do you think?

Social Media Roundup for October 16, 2009

Well, they say good ideas never die, they just become retro.  And in that spirit, we’re resurrecting the Social Media Roundup.  We haven’t done one of these since well before I was hired here at SMG, but how hard could it be?

*cue ominous music and thunderclap*

Right. So here’s the goods; all the stuff that we found interesting in the last week or so.

Social Media Intelligence, Socialized
Social Signal celebrated its fourth anniversary in the social media consulting space by committing to open-sourcing all of the intellectual material they’ve built up since their founding.  Their goal? ‘To build a field, and not just a business.’  A formidable task, but certainly a money-where-your-mouth-is move.  Kudos!

The Beginning of the End for the Digital Divide?
Finland has become the first country to establish broadband internet as a legal right for all citizens, with a goal of 150Mbit access by 2015.  Please direct future correspondence with Social Media Group to our Helsinki office.

The Most Talked About Brands
With an eye to a different take on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands, Sysomos ranked the Top 100 by Social Media mentions over the past month, putting Google, Apple, and Microsoft in the top 3.  While this raw data is interesting, I can’t help but side with commenters who mused about a ranking based on interactivity and participation, rather than the passive ‘mentions’ provided.

Pepsi was the latest victim of #[insertbrand]fail over the weekend, over their Amp app for the iPhone, Before you Score. The app was lambasted for its poor portrayal of women, and its encouragement to share your ‘scores’ online. Pepsi was quick with the mea culpa, and even appended the #pepsifail hashtag to their apology post, ensuring widespread eyeballs.

Why the Twitter Firehose May Not Be Worth It
After news that both Google and Microsoft may be vying for access to Twitter’s firehose, unfiltered, Marshall Kirkpatrick over at RRW broke down the reasons the real-time engine may not be worth the big bucks.

How to Comply With the FTC in 140 Characters or Less
With the release of the FTC’s updated advertising disclosure guides last week, discussion ranged from ‘the sky is falling’ to ‘it’s about time’ to ‘weren’t we doing that anyway?’  Shel Holtz, meanwhile put his backing behind a standard for disclosure on twitter, where 140 characters may be a bit slim to get all your conflicts out in one post, and still get a message across.

Most Useful iPhone App You Might Not Get To Use.

This was supposed to be a post about a cool iPhone app that provides direct (and easy) access to every roadside traffic web cam in the city (available cities listed on the website). The app provides a list of every web cam available; to simplify you can pick which sections of the highway you want to keep close tabs on. With the flick of a thumb (or index finger, depending on how you use your phone) you can easily scroll through to-the-minute views of your route with green highlights meaning ‘good’ and red meaning ‘bad’. Read an encompassing write-up about it on BlogTO.

Instead, this is a post about ‘cease and desist’ letters.


The developer of this app, Mark Pavlidis, received such a letter from the Transportation Department in Calgary (one of the cities in which you can use the app). It stated that he is required to pay a hefty $5000 licensing fee in order for his application to link to their web cam images.

Double huh?

This is an odd situation. Basically, the application is just linking to images on the web. As Wayne MacPhail states in his post on the topic, it’s the same that “Google does to images worldwide millions of times a day, generating revenue from that service every microsecond.”

However, is it fair in either case? If someone made an application that was linking to my Flickr images and was making money off of it, would I care? Probably. But this situation isn’t so black and white.

(side note: Pavlidis states that he is not violating the terms as presented on its website because he only links and does not pull and parse other data)

In this situation, Pavlidis is providing a tool that encourages and enables citizens of  Calgary to drive with more ease. Potentially, it could help ease traffic congestion, prevent further accidents and make the roads safer. All things that I’m certain the Transportation Department of Calgary would want. Isn’t that the reason the web cams are there in the first place? To “keep Calgary on the move“? (that’s one of their tag lines, BTW).

Pavlidis has come up with an innovative idea. His innovative idea builds on these web cams and makes them more accessible and easier to use. It enhances the ‘product’ that Calgary is offering and makes it better.

Now, if someone built an application for my Flickr images that did all that for me, I wouldn’t be upset. Instead, I would reach out to them; I would work with them on integrating a strategy that fits both of our needs.

I would build and maintain a relationship with someone that can do something that I can’t.

It’s important to nurture relationships, especially ones that we can benefit from. It’s unfortunate that Calgary fails to see that and, instead, chooses to look at innovation through the eyes of their lawyers. Perhaps by shedding some light on this situation Calgary will attempt to participate using other means of communication? I would definitely welcome them to offer up their side of the story.

p.s. To get a firsthand look at the application before buying it, check out this Traffic How To video that Pavlidis created.