3 Unexpected Ways Apps Are Changing Our Lives: What’s Next?

Remember the “dark days” of 2006?

A decade ago, we were still busy scrolling through email on our Blackberry phones. It was hard to imagine using our phones to summon on-demand rides, virtually deposit checks, stream music for free, or even find instant turn-by-turn directions to our destinations. A decade later, Apple’s mantra “there’s an app for that” has become a way of life.

Whether we’re reading, playing, shopping, learning, writing, emailing, running, traveling or sleeping, apps put the world at our fingertips.

The app-driven life kicked the mobile phone revolution into high gear. Globally, we’ve adopted smartphones and tablets 10 times faster than personal computers in the 1980s and twice as fast as the Internet boom of the 1990s, according to app-tracking firm Flurry. Young adults spend an estimated one-third of their waking lives on smartphones, reports Huffington Post, with most of us checking our phones twice as often as we think we do. We’re using phones an estimated five hours a day thanks in part to habitual automatic behaviors. Waiting in the grocery line or for your morning coffee? Time to check Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. More than half of our smartphone usage comes in short bursts of less than 30 seconds of activity, which is one reason we often underestimate our usage.

Here are three key ways apps are changing our lives — and how your small business can leverage these changes for success:

1. Digital payments. Last month, popular mobile payment app Venmo processed more than $1 billion in mobile payments. Google Wallet and Apple Pay have both launched contactless payment options, allowing users to pay simply by using a thumb to verify identity on their mobile phones. Industry analysts predict mobile payments are on the edge of going mainstream: soon, paying with our phones will seem as natural as swiping a credit card. Cash will be a thing of the past, reports Due.com. And while Bitcoin may never catch on as a new digital currency, the blockchain technology that it’s based on is taking off with unexpected applications. Innovation opportunities: The digital currency marketplace is wide open for innovation. There are a number of innovative companies experimenting with blockchain technology to make transactions cheaper, easier and safer. For example, BitWage uses blockchain technology to make international payroll cheaper, faster and more reliable. Voatz is working to eliminate voting fraud and make elections cheaper and more transparent.

2. Healthcare at our fingertips. Forget heart rate monitoring during a workout; today’s healthcare apps are truly transforming the patient-provider relationship. Last September, Apple demonstrated how the new Air Strip app can change how doctors and patients interact; doctors can monitor a patient’s heart rate and other acute health statistics via the app. This would allow doctors to better monitor patients with chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes without ever having to make the trip to the hospital, reports Popular Science. Innovation opportunities: A number of health care apps are hitting the app marketplace, all aimed at simplifying symptom monitoring and management. The HIPAA-compliant app CaptureProof lets patients virtually “show and tell” their symptoms; patients snap a photo of symptoms and send it to their doctor to monitor progress, reducing unnecessary follow-up appointments. For busy parents, Fever Scout provides continuous temperature monitoring during the night, gently waking parents when a child’s temperature exceeds a pre-determined level.

3. Virtual house hunting. A decade ago, searching for your dream home required a big stack of MLS listings and a lot of in-person home visits on the weekends. Now, apps like Trulia, Zillow and Redfin have made the house hunt virtual. “Apps put real estate listings directly at a house hunter’s fingertips,” says Ocala real estate agent Fred Franks. “They let house hunters hone in on a specific community or a handful of property listings, streamlining the search process. These apps are especially helpful for homeowners who are relocating from other cities or states and aren’t able to drop by every open house on the weekend since they’re not living in town yet.” Innovation opportunities: The house hunt is about more than just finding the perfect listing; would-be homeowners need great credit and mortgage pre-approval, as well as a clear understanding of the neighborhood. Zillow’s mortgage app gives users a better idea of what their homes will actually cost when they factor in property taxes, interest, home insurance and other expenses. And apps aren’t just for house hunters; Homesnap Pro is an app built specifically for agents that gives realtors access to real-time agent-only MLS data.

Bottom Line

From how we search for our dream homes to how we split the cost of brunch with friends, new apps are changing virtually every aspect of our daily lives. Understanding these patterns of usage, including evolving consumer preferences for when and how we interact with our phones, is essential for successful mobile marketing.

Mobile Apps Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Our most popular education stories of 2016

This year shaped up to be a busy one for Rapides Parish schools. Here’s a look back at the top education stories that caught your attention in 2016. (Click on the highlighted text to read the original story.)

Teacher pay

Before Rapides Parish voters approved an 8.5 percent raise paid for by a half-cent sales in April, a Town Talk report at the beginning of the year revealed local teachers are among the lowest-paid in the state. The most recent data available from the Louisiana Department of Education put Rapides Parish teacher pay at 55th out of 69 school districts in the state.

Bathroom directive

In May, the Obama administration and U.S. Department of Education ordered schools to let transgender students use bathrooms “consistent with their gender identity.” A Rapides Parish School District policy statement soon followed saying “until this situation is resolved by final and binding laws or court rulings,” students here are to continue using bathrooms and locker rooms based on their “biological sex.”

Special ed prom

A heartwarming gesture by Rapides special education teachers who organized a prom for their students touched the community. Nearly 100 students enrolled in special education classes at Rapides Parish high schools attended their first prom at Bolton High in Alexandria. Teachers organized, raised money and decorated the venue for the event and found support from local businesses, which donated everything from tuxes to limousines.

Recess in Rapides

The Town Talk’s look at recess in Rapides schools at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year created waves as parents learned that their children may have little to no outdoor playtime during the school day. Local school administrators admitted that instructional time requirements from the state influence their decisions to completely cut or shorten students’ recess time.

Those clowns

No one is likely to have forgotten just yet that time law enforcement took precautionary measures and locked down Rapides schools while investigating a social media post related to clown sightings in other states. The lockdown was lifted in about an hour, but what turned out to be a false alarm put parents on high alert.

Teacher lawsuit

An educator who sued the Rapides Parish School District after she was fired in 2001 was awarded more than $1 million in September by a 9th Judicial District Court judge. Former Tioga High School teacher Patricia Powell claimed she was fired because of comments she made to The Town Talk about former Superintendent Betty Cox. She said the district took revenge by harassing and eventually firing her, among other things.

School performance scores

The Louisiana Department of Education released 2015-16 scores reflective of student performance in November, and the report was overall positive for Rapides. More schools earned A and B letter grades from the state, helping move up the district’s overall performance score from an 86.7 B to a 92 B. Despite the 17 schools that saw a slight to several point decrease in their score, the district ranked among the top six in the state for growth due to progress at 29 schools.

3 Unexpected Ways Apps Are Changing Our Lives: What’s Next?

mobile apps

Remember the “dark days” of 2006?

A decade ago, we were still busy scrolling through email on our Blackberry phones. It was hard to imagine using our phones to summon on-demand rides, virtually deposit checks, stream music for free, or even find instant turn-by-turn directions to our destinations. A decade later, Apple’s mantra “there’s an app for that” has become a way of life.

Whether we’re reading, playing, shopping, learning, writing, emailing, running, traveling or sleeping, apps put the world at our fingertips.

The app-driven life kicked the mobile phone revolution into high gear. Globally, we’ve adopted smartphones and tablets 10 times faster than personal computers in the 1980s and twice as fast as the Internet boom of the 1990s, according to app-tracking firm Flurry. Young adults spend an estimated one-third of their waking lives on smartphones, reports Huffington Post, with most of us checking our phones twice as often as we think we do. We’re using phones an estimated five hours a day thanks in part to habitual automatic behaviors. Waiting in the grocery line or for your morning coffee? Time to check Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. More than half of our smartphone usage comes in short bursts of less than 30 seconds of activity, which is one reason we often underestimate our usage.

Here are three key ways apps are changing our lives — and how your small business can leverage these changes for success:

1. Digital payments. Last month, popular mobile payment app Venmo processed more than $1 billion in mobile payments. Google Wallet and Apple Pay have both launched contactless payment options, allowing users to pay simply by using a thumb to verify identity on their mobile phones. Industry analysts predict mobile payments are on the edge of going mainstream: soon, paying with our phones will seem as natural as swiping a credit card. Cash will be a thing of the past, reports Due.com. And while Bitcoin may never catch on as a new digital currency, the blockchain technology that it’s based on is taking off with unexpected applications. Innovation opportunities: The digital currency marketplace is wide open for innovation. There are a number of innovative companies experimenting with blockchain technology to make transactions cheaper, easier and safer. For example, BitWage uses blockchain technology to make international payroll cheaper, faster and more reliable. Voatz is working to eliminate voting fraud and make elections cheaper and more transparent.

2. Healthcare at our fingertips. Forget heart rate monitoring during a workout; today’s healthcare apps are truly transforming the patient-provider relationship. Last September, Apple demonstrated how the new Air Strip app can change how doctors and patients interact; doctors can monitor a patient’s heart rate and other acute health statistics via the app. This would allow doctors to better monitor patients with chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes without ever having to make the trip to the hospital, reports Popular Science. Innovation opportunities: A number of health care apps are hitting the app marketplace, all aimed at simplifying symptom monitoring and management. The HIPAA-compliant app CaptureProof lets patients virtually “show and tell” their symptoms; patients snap a photo of symptoms and send it to their doctor to monitor progress, reducing unnecessary follow-up appointments. For busy parents, Fever Scout provides continuous temperature monitoring during the night, gently waking parents when a child’s temperature exceeds a pre-determined level.

3. Virtual house hunting. A decade ago, searching for your dream home required a big stack of MLS listings and a lot of in-person home visits on the weekends. Now, apps like Trulia, Zillow and Redfin have made the house hunt virtual. “Apps put real estate listings directly at a house hunter’s fingertips,” says Ocala real estate agent Fred Franks. “They let house hunters hone in on a specific community or a handful of property listings, streamlining the search process. These apps are especially helpful for homeowners who are relocating from other cities or states and aren’t able to drop by every open house on the weekend since they’re not living in town yet.” Innovation opportunities: The house hunt is about more than just finding the perfect listing; would-be homeowners need great credit and mortgage pre-approval, as well as a clear understanding of the neighborhood. Zillow’s mortgage app gives users a better idea of what their homes will actually cost when they factor in property taxes, interest, home insurance and other expenses. And apps aren’t just for house hunters; Homesnap Pro is an app built specifically for agents that gives realtors access to real-time agent-only MLS data.

Bottom Line

From how we search for our dream homes to how we split the cost of brunch with friends, new apps are changing virtually every aspect of our daily lives. Understanding these patterns of usage, including evolving consumer preferences for when and how we interact with our phones, is essential for successful mobile marketing.

Mobile Apps Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Get Off Our Lawn, Chinese Army Warns Hong Kong’s Pokemon Go Players

Get Off Our Lawn, Chinese Army Warns Hong Kong's Pokemon Go Players

The Chinese army garrisoned in Hong Kong has warned people searching for Pikachu and other virtual monsters to stay off their premises, as Pokemon Go mania sweeps the smartphone-obsessed city.

The gaming app landed Monday in Hong Kong, and saw residents more glued to their phones than ever, searching for the cyber creatures in locations ranging from shopping malls to the government headquarters.

The app uses satellite locations, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay cartoon monsters on real-world settings, challenging players to capture and train the creatures for battles.

(Also see:  Pokemon Go No Longer Working in Parts of India, Reddit Users Complain)

But the city’s enthusiasm to “catch ’em all” has prompted warnings from government departments and even the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to stay off their property.

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A PLA spokesman told AFP the city’s barracks were closed zones.

(Also see: How to Play Pokemon Go in India? Here’s Everything You Need to Know)

“Military barracks are restricted areas under Hong Kong law. Without the authorisation of the commanding officer, no one is allowed to enter the restricted areas,” he said.

Police also warned residents to be careful when playing the game.

“When you are capturing monsters, stay alert to your surroundings,” a police video posted on Facebook said.

(Also see:  This Pokemon Go Map Will Show You Every Pokemon Location)

“Police report rooms are for people in need of police services, players are not allowed to play the game there, be a smart player!” the video added.

The app has now been launched in more than 40 countries including the US, Japan and much of Europe. Japanese video game company Nintendo started the mythical creature franchise 20 years ago.

(Also see: Pokemon Go iOS: How to Download Pokemon Go for iPhone, iPad)

However, widespread warnings have been given by authorities around the world after reports of players being injured or becoming the victims of crime.

Some Pokemon Go players were robbed after being lured to isolated locations in the hopes of catching the virtual creatures, according to US reports. Other distracted players have been blamed for causing traffic accidents.

(Also see: How to Download Pokemon Go APK, Install, and Play on Android)

In Indonesia, a French player was stopped and questioned for several hours after the app led him into a military base.

Two youngsters were so preoccupied with catching the cartoon monsters that they wandered across the US-Canada border.

Tags: Android, Apple, Apps, Gaming, Internet, Nintendo, Pokemon, Pokemon Go

 

[“Source-Gadgets”]