Mobile Websites vs. Applications

Mobile Websites vs Applications

There’s no denying that mobile phones have grown to become an increasing part of our lives. In fact, there’s a 42% likelihood that you’re reading this newsletter on your phone or tablet device, up 10% from last March. And in most cases, mobile applications would probably be overkill for your business or brand, where a beautifully designed, responsive newsletter (such as this one) will more than suffice. However, if you’re looking for something more than emails, here are some things for you to consider.

There’s a big difference between a mobile website and a mobile application. Before you can evaluate the benefits of either, it’s important to understand the key differences between the two. Both apps and mobile websites are accessed on a handheld devices such as smartphones (e.g. iPhone, Android and Blackberry) and tablets.

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Twitter Photo Filters

Twitter Photo Filters

A day after confirming it had lost the ability to display Instagram images, Twitter has rolled out its own library of retro filters for its Android and iPhone apps.

The eight filters are the usual suspects we’ve come to expect from mobile photo apps, including desaturated, black and white and high contrast. There are auto-adjust and cropping options, as well as a helpful grid view that lets you see what each filter will look like at once.

“The latest versions of Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android introduce a few new ways to enhance the images you tweet,” said Twitter senior designer Coleen Baik in a blog post announcing the new features. She emphasized that images are important to Twitter users, and called photos “one of the most compelling forms of self-expression.”

The new filters were designed especially for Twitter by photo-editing service Aviary, which also handles edits for various partners such as Flickr and Twitpic. What the effects lack in originality, they will no doubt make up for in popularity. Filters are an easy alternative to tinkering with an image in a photo editor, and their retro aesthetic has helped Instagram get more than 150 million users.


Note to Self

Android’s “Note to Self” feature has become a life saver for me. I remember things when I’m walking to and from meetings, sitting on the train, or generally away from my desk. And rather than keep a notepad or moleskine and pen with me at all times, I’d begun to use the message voice action that’s packaged with Android.

The only cumbersome aspect of this feature is that it doesn’t let you specify the recipient of the note to self. After all, in Google’s world, your Google Account’s main email/gmail address is (and should be) your “self.”

“Maybe I can recreate the main email address tied to my HTC Evo,” I thought, “so that it’s a more specific ‘self'”. I tried to change it from don.citarella to don.citarella+mobile, but had no luck. Apparently, once you’ve associated a main address with an Android phone, the only way to remove/change it is to perform a factory reset.

So, while it’s not the cleanest/best solution, Gmail Filters do the trick.

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Google Voice and Solicitations

It is with mixed emotions that my year-long search for the reason that my cell phone has been barraged with spam has finally come to an end. And the issue is equally frustrating as simple. Google is  not (entirely) to blame.

About a year ago, I added Google Voice to the cell number that I’ve had for the greater part of the decade. Since then, I started receiving 1-5 automated solicitations daily from the 678 area code. I was convinced that Google sold my number to a number of solicitors but learned from friends that use their Voice service that they hadn’t received solicitations themselves. The solicitations were robo-calls where Google Voice would only capture the last 10-seconds of the call, so I couldn’t even speak with an individual to ask them to stop hounding my number. The cell number is on the national Do Not Call registry but, as you probably guessed, illegal voice solicitors—like illegal email spammers—don’t really pay attention to such courtesies. If they have your information, there’s no stopping them. So installing Mr. Number on my phone enabled me to automatically block all calls from the 678 area code—well, actually, it answers and hangs up immediately, so the call isn’t even sent to the voice mailbox. I just had to deal with the annoying Missed Calls notifications on my phone 1-5x a day. Not bad, considering.

Two weeks ago, I started to receive calls from a 770 number where an actual attendant was leaving a voicemail for their company, a loan collections center. The attendant was looking for someone named Felicia Wallace. In calling their main line, I learned that they didn’t have my cell phone number listed in their system at all. But then it started to dawn on me. I asked them if they had my Google Voice number and, sure enough, they had it listed under a delinquent payee’s account as her home number.

The center removed my Google Voice number from their system. On a whim, I asked if these numbers were susceptible to solicitations and the attendant said that from time to time, they will provide their customers’ numbers to third parties whose services they thought their customers could use (read: they sold the numbers for cash).

So Google Voice, who must’ve acquired my number within the last few years, unwittingly passed a tainted line to their voice customers—one that had previously been sold to solicitors, or would be sold within the next year. Completely absolved of any implicit wrong-doing, it’d be advantageous for Google to run tests on the numbers to see if they’re giving their customers lines that had already been sold for solicitations. At this point, the only thing that I can do is switch my Google Voice number to another, but I’d be taking the same gamble that the new number isn’t already included on any number of solicitation databases. With this in mind, I might as well keep the current one and rely on Mr. Number, as I know that it won’t be sold in the future, at least not by the loan collections center.

But if anyone in Googleland is reading this, perhaps you can use this parable as a cautionary tale to screen new voice numbers for disease before unwittingly being a “carrier” and passing the infection to the clean, untainted lines of your customers.

Goodbye Windows Mobile

This weekend, I picked up the new HTC Evo 4G, which has been sold out of Sprint stores for the last month. And while I’ve only performed a cursory evaluation of the OS, I’m worlds happier than I was with Windows Mobile 6.1. The operating system isn’t new to me, however, as I spent nearly a day-long barbecue stealing Itay‘s Nexxus One and spent the last year looking over Zeh‘s shoulder as he fiddled with his MyTouch. Needless to say, I liked what I saw. My geekiest of friends had given Android 2.2 two international thumbs up, so my purchase was clear.

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