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Archive for the ‘Apps’ Category

One of the calls to action that I made the other day in my post about the Resist Movement was that everyone, regardless of whether you identify as a Republican or Democrat or Independent, should strive to get more involved in politics so that we can elect better representatives and put pressure on those already in office to talk some sense into Trump.  Well, now there’s a quick and easy way for us to do just that thanks to a new app that thoroughly streamlines the political process.

The app is known as Countable, presumably short for accountable, although a more fitting name would have been Pester, because pestering your local representative is exactly what you’ll be doing.  First, the app connects to your Facebook profile in order to determine where you live and who your elected representatives are.  It then shows you what’s on their agenda, informs you about the issue, and enables you to contact them to give your opinion.

As Wired describes:

“[Countable] shows you the next piece of legislation your representatives are expected to vote on, with a short summary of the bill and a list of pros and cons. You can click ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ to automatically send an e-mail to your representatives, or you can ‘skip’ it. You can also click on the bill’s name to pull up more details, including voting activity, costs, links to media coverage, and the full text of the bill.”

In addition, the app also keep tracks of voting records so that you can follow along and see if your representatives are actually voting the way that you want them to.  If they’re not, you’ll know that the time has come to vote someone else into office.

The gripe about politics that we hear most often is that it’s too hard to get involved.  The most common refrain of all is: if you want more people to vote, make it easier to vote.  Similarly, if you want more people to get involved in applying pressure to politicians, make it easier to apply pressure.  Countable does that, and much more.

What’s great about this app is how easy it is to use, not just for voters, but for government officials as well as it doesn’t require them to do anything differently.  There’s no special software to download or install.  No change to existing protocols.  The only difference is the volume of feedback that they’ll now be receiving.

The time has come to RESIST!  And we now have an app that makes it easy to do just that.  No.  More.  Excuses.

Image result for countable app

Is Countable the Greatest Idea Ever?

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It started innocently enough.  A gaggle of school girls gathered near a cluster of pink roses at the San Diego Botanical Garden.  Carrying on about one thing or another.  I didn’t know what it was.  Nor did I care.  I just wanted them to go away so that I could go back to instagramming my latest masterpiece.

When I later saw those same girls at the Science Center running from exhibit to exhibit I surmised that they were doing a scavenger hunt.  One that would have them running around one of Balboa Park’s fifteen museums throughout the day.  A fun way to see a little bit of everything in one day.  And to be honest I was a little bit jealous of them.  After all, who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt?

It wasn’t until later in the day when I was on the San Diego waterfront that I began to figure out what was going on.  Those girls and about a thousand other people were playing Pokemon Go, the newest addictive iPhone game from Nintendo that has been exploding in popularity minute by minute over the last four days.  In fact, according to TechCrunch more than 7.5 million Americans have downloaded the game already.  And that was as of yesterday.  I can’t even imagine what the number is today.

This isn’t just a game though.  It’s not like Farmville or Clash of Clans.  Rather, this is an experience.  An Augmented Reality experience that uses your phone’s camera and GPS to overlay Pokemon (aka “Pocket Monster”) characters onto reality.  If we’re both sitting in a room and you have the app but I don’t you’ll be able to see the character sitting next to me on the coach and I won’t.  You could then walk over to that spot and “collect” that Pokemon if you don’t already have it.  Users can then “battle” each other as an added source of entertainment but it seems as though that the act of collecting Pokemon is the biggest draw to the game.

I can almost understand the appeal.  Pokemon has a massive built in fan base, scavenger hunts are inherently fun, and most of the people playing were teens who are already addicted to their phones.  But here’s the thing.  It wasn’t just teens who were playing.  Literally everyone was playing.  Every.  Single.  Person.  To the point where two random strangers started talking to each other on the street after converging on the same collection point.  An instant friendship was born.  Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.  And here’s the best part.  They were talking in front of a guy who was on the pier collecting tickets for tours at the Maritime Museum and that guy was into it too!  Literally every single person.  By the time Monday rolled around it was inescapable.  The revolution was in full force.  People were playing up and down the boardwalk at Mission Beach.  It was incredible.

A point driven home by my friend Marc who posted the following on Facebook:

“Today at the park there must have been HUNDREDS of people playing Pokemon… all ages… all genders and sizes. Smiling. Laughing. Having a great time.

In a world that has seemingly been going to shit, “Nature has an order. A power to restore balance. I believe Godzilla is that power.”

In this case… it’s Pokemon……..”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  With so much hatred going on in the world right now, with racial tensions at an all time high, with the country teetering on the brink of self destruction, what was needed, now more than ever, was some light to shine into the darkness.  A fun, lighthearted, spirit raising shared experience that could help to bring us closer together.  Never in a million years would I have thought that Pokemon would be that unifying force.  And yet, there I was, standing on the pier in San Diego witnessing two random strangers from different ethnic backgrounds becoming fast friends as they raced to the nearest collection point.  At this rate it wouldn’t surprise me if Pokemon Go wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, my motivation for writing this blog isn’t to say that Pokemon Go is the Greatest Idea Ever.  It could very well become a passing fad that eventually reaches a saturation point.  Kind of like the original Pokemon.  Rather, the point is to say that this feels like the start of a new era.  An era in which Augmented Reality becomes at the forefront of everything that we do.

In the not too distant future walking directions will be overlayed onto streets.  Advertisements will pop up as we walk by store fronts.  Children looking out the window during a long car ride will see their imaginations come to life. AR will be everywhere.  It’ll become ubiquitous.  A part of our everyday lives.  A part of our culture.  A part of us.  When all is said and done Augmented Reality, possibly lead by Pokemon Go, will be a real game changer.  A game that literally changes The Game.  So, sit back and enjoy the ride.  Actually, don’t do that.  Don’t sit at all.  Get out there and find those Pokemon!

 

 

Is Pokemon Go the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#896 -TradeHero

The idea of a fantasy stock market game isn’t new.  But TradeHero finally gets it right.  Because with this app you’re not just buying and selling fake stocks to build a phony portfolio in order to beat your friends.  That is part of it.  With real prizes on the line too.  But, the real heart and soul of the game is the educational aspect.  By following the success of other “heroes” you can actually learn useful advice to help you master the real stock market.  And best of all those “heroes” are able to profit from their success.

As Tech In Asia explains:

“On TradeHero, users who are less familiar with how stock markets work can learn how to trade. On top of that, more experienced users can earn money by monetizing their reputation as a talented and well-informed stock trader. This means that one user can subscribe to another user’s feed to know whenever they make a trade or post a comment. This information is valuable because it can then be applied to the real stock market.”

This is the fantasy football equivalent of having access to hundreds of Matthew Berrys.  Unofficial experts who you can use to help make valuable decisions once they’ve established themselves with a long track record of success.  Which is more than we can say for Berry.

Having access to this much crowd sourced unbiased information is a real game changer for middle class investors who may not be able to afford a financial advisor and who may not have sufficient knowledge about how the stock market works on their own.  Instead of blindly playing their hunches they now at least have a fighting chance of getting it right.  At least as much of a chance as one can have when it comes to the stock market.

Is TradeHero the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Life in 2015 is really simple.  Shamelessly promote yourself.  Rinse.  Wash.  Repeat.

I came to this realization the other day when chatting with my cousin on Facebook messenger.  A musician by trade he had reached out to promote his latest CD.  I responded by plugging my Instagram account.  He responded by plugging his Instagram account.  I responded by plugging my blog.  And back and forth we went in an epic battle of one-upmanship.

Neither one of us wanted to be doing this.  We’d much rather have been talking to each other as real people instead of as mouth pieces for the brands that we had created.  But shamelessly promoted oneself is now the name of the game, something that we both begrudgingly accepted a long time ago.  Because if you don’t do it no one else will.

But what if there was a way to change that?  What if there was a way that you could get someone else to promote you?  A way that you could walk around with your very own hype man at your side, shouting your virtues from the highest mountain top so that everyone within earshot could hear.

Well, one day I’m hoping that there is.  All that we’d need to do is create an app that broadcasts out a singular message known as a shout.  Such as, “hey, check out my latest song.”  Or, “hey, I think you might like my blog.  Give it a quick look.”  A link to the song or blog or Youtube video or whatever would then be attached to the message allowing you to make your point subtly and discretely.

Anyone in the vicinity that has that same app will receive an alert letting them know that someone nearby is interested in promoting something that may be of interest.  Users could also filter their preferences so that they only get notified about new shouts from musicians or writers or whatever it is that interests them.

Just imagine how useful this app would be for someone looking to discover new talent such as a music producer.  Just walking down the street in Brooklyn they’d get to sample all of the latest sounds and beats that are hot right now increasing their chances of finding the next big thing ten fold.  Or imagine how it could be used for job seekers who could push out a copy of their resume while attending an industry conference.

All in all, I think that the idea of an app that does our shouting for us has some merit.  Hopefully, in the future it won’t always be about who you know.  Rather, maybe it can become about who you’re near.  Making it so that serendipity and opportunity become synonymous.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go brag about my Instagram account on Facebook.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app that made it easier for us to self promote ourselves?

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#822 – Red Carpet

Since it’s Thanksgiving I thought I should write about an idea that focuses on giving back.  Which brings me to Red Carpet, a new app that connects users with celebrities in exchange for a small fee that either gets refunded to you if the celebrity doesn’t write back or gets donated to charity if they do.  Considering that I’ve long called for a quick and easy way to get in touch with celebrities (see my open letter to Brittany Snow) I’m all for this idea.

Springwise explains how it works:

“Users create a profile on Red Carpet and search for their favorite celebrity — the platform will be populated with musicians, actors, sportspeople and more.  They can send them a message for a minimum fee of USD 0.99.  If the recipient doesn’t reply, the fan can swipe left to retract their message and get their money back.  If they reply, the fee is processed and donated to a charity of their choice.  Red Carpet keep 20 percent of each transaction.  As well as raising money for good causes, the platform can also help reduce trolling, since people are unlikely to pay just to send negative messages.  What’s more, it will help celebrities keep their interactions to a manageable amount while incentivizing the process.  Of course, the success of Red Carpet will rely on the startup recruiting enough high-profile clientele.”

Having the ability to reach out to celebrities for just a dollar and knowing that the money is going to a good cause is pretty remarkable.  Perhaps I could use this app to get in touch with famous entrepreneurs like the sharks from Shark Tank to pitch them one of my ideas or maybe I could reach out to a famous tech leader like Elon Musk to set up an interview for this blog.  The possibilities are endless.  I can’t wait to try it out!

Is Red Carpet the Greatest Idea Ever?

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Remember when you used to have carry around a camera when you went on vacation?  Well, those days are long gone, replaced by the convenience of having a cell phone capable of taking high quality photos.  But you know what’s not convenient?  What happens afterwards.  Hundreds of pictures, some of them near identical copies, clogging up our phones, forcing you to delete useful apps at the last minute just to make room for new pictures on your latest escapade.

Ideally there would be a better way.  A way to quickly and easily get rid of pictures that you don’t want, ones that look extremely similar to one another for instance, so that you can then post the rest to social media.  Previously no such way existed.  Now it does thanks to Gallery Doctor, a new app that cleans up your photo libraries for you.

As VentureBeat puts it, “Smartphones may have helped unleash the amateur creative in everyone, but there’s little question it has opened a Pandora’s box of bad photos.  And this is where Gallery Doctor wants to help.  The handiwork of Israeli startup MyRoll, Gallery Doctor first launched on Android back in February. In a nutshell, the app scans your camera roll and iCloud and pulls out the ones that are blurry, duplicates, have bad lighting, or are just plain-old boring.”

Which if you’re anything like me is pretty much every photo.   But thanks to Gallery Doctor I won’t have to waste precious time going through my camera roll and weeding those out anymore.  Which means I’ll have a lot more free time to do other things.  Like take more bad pictures.

Gallery Doctor

Is Gallery Doctor the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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#771 – Vinder

The other day I wrote about LiveText, Yahoo’s new foray into social media that combines texting, live video, and the ephemeral experience of SnapChat into what Yahoo hopes is the Next Big Thing.  Something that becomes as widely used as each of its component parts.

When I heard about this new app I immediately began to wonder about what else could be created by taking successful stand alone services and combining them into something new.  What would happen, for example, if you took Instagram and combined it with Facebook?  Oh, wait.  That already happened.  Bad example.

A good example, on the other hand, is the idea that I did come up with: taking Vine and Tinder and combining it into a new video centric dating app known as Vinder.  The concept is simple.  Instead of swiping past static photos of potential love interests you’d instead see a quick six second Vine or SnapChat style video clip of the person.

This would bring online dating to life.  You’d be able to hear what someone sounds like, see what kind of personality they have.  Get to know the real them in a jiffy before making a snap decision. Isn’t that a better first date screening method than just looking at bathroom mirror selfies in a fraction of a second?

Or you could just use Vinder to begin with.

 

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