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November 16th, 2012

Tech to the rescue: Five reasons why you’ll want to upgrade to iOS 6.1

Tech to the rescue: Five reasons why you’ll want to upgrade to iOS 6.1

Here at Prompt, our PR and copywriting consultants are big fans of tech upgrades, especially those that make life that much easier. When it comes to smartphones, most of our ‘Promptees’ have some version of the iPhone, while others get by with a less popular, but just as reliable, Android device.

A look into the Apple store on Boylston Street in BostonFor those on team iPhone, the big news this week was Apple’s announcement of the second beta of iOS 6.1, with improvements and bug fixes that had been reported from the previous installment of iOS. While the upgrade has only been made available to developers, we decided to take a closer look for those considering making the move to 6.1 in the near future.

Here’s a breakdown of future features and some of the glitches the upgrade can fix:

1. Improved features on PassBook

Apple introduced PassBook with iOS 6, which allowed users to store tickets, gift cards, coupons, boarding passes and more all on their iPhone. Critics complained that Apple did not properly explain the e-wallet, or integrate it with third-party apps.

Problem solved: Apple fixed the issue in the new beta release by adding an explanatory note on the digital-wallet app.

2. Siri gets even smarter

An update to Siri, Apple’s ‘intelligent personal assistant’, can now help users purchase movie tickets and view show times at local theaters. By asking “what is playing nearby?” Siri searches and lists everything you need to plan a perfect movie night through third-party site Fandango.

The days of leaving the house early to secure show time passes are long gone. Thanks Siri!

3. So long static keyboard

Many users were complaining about static lines when typing across the iPhone’s keyboard.  With iOS 6.1, that bug is now fixed. No more eye-twitching? Hooray!

4. Wider spacing between music control buttons

With iOS 6, the music controls on the lock screen were very close together, making it easier for users to hit the wrong button – and we all know the aggravation that can cause.  On the second beta of iOS 6.1, Apple has increased the spacing between the controls, making playback easy and stress-free. Cue the classical music.

5. ‘Report a problem’ attempts to solve Maps problem

Users were complaining of misplaced location markers and unusual satellite images on Apple Maps with iOS 6.  Apple did not fix the Maps app, but they did add a ‘report a problem’ option.

But the ‘report a problem’ feature hasn’t completely satisfied iOwners. In Gizmodo.com, a blogger shared his thoughts on the option by writing, “[Apple] fix your own maps for the devices we paid hundreds of dollars for. We’re not you’re beta testers.”

Now if only the updated iOS 6.1 could solve the 100 percent customer satisfaction glitch – Siri, can you help?

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November 14th, 2012

Next stop, e-tickets: Boston’s commuter rail gets digital

Next stop, e-tickets: Boston’s commuter rail gets digital

As followers could sense from our tweet sent out earlier this week, PromptBoston is looking forward to the latest innovation stemming from the MBTA – a smartphone digital ticketing system.

Image of the MBTA commuter railFor those outside of the bay state, MBTA is an acronym for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, the company in charge of Boston metro’s public transportation. Want to sound really Bostonian next time you’re in Beantown? Then just refer to the subway system as ‘the T’, common city slang for ‘the train’.

The implementation of a digital ticketing system makes the MBTA the first major US commuter rail to offer passengers a paperless alternative, according to Boston.com. Coincidentally, a British mobile-ticketing agency is the developer behind the historical move – here’s looking at you, PromptLondon!

On Monday, commuter rail riders at North Station were able to purchase and display tickets on their smartphones. South Station regulars will be able to do the same after Thanksgiving, meaning pesky paper passes will have to do for another week or so.

In my opinion, the move means great news for both the MBTA and commuters in general. Boston.com reported that the option of digital passes will eliminate the handling of nearly $20 million in cash, meaning a faster collection process for conductors and service members. E-tickets will also help cut back on littering – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen expired passes tossed onto the floor of the commuter rail.

Smartphone userFor commuter rail riders, the digital upgrade will reduce time spent waiting in lines at ticket windows or automated machines, and eliminate the hassle of digging for loose change in pockets and purses when the conductor comes around to collect.

The transition to digital seems like a no brainer – after all, in today’s world, who doesn’t have a smartphone? To try the e-ticketing out for yourself, download the MBTA mTicket app available in both Apple and Android stores.

For the latest in Boston happenings and tech news, follow us on Twitter – and why not browse through our feed on your smartphone while waiting for the next train to arrive?

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Posted in Boston, Communications consultancy opinion, Innovation, Prompt locations, Technology, Twitter | Comments Off

 

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March 16th, 2012

The new iPad: upgrade, or keep your iPad2?

The new iPad: upgrade, or keep your iPad2?

Yes, I am daring to doubt the luminosity of the new release of Apple’s boy genius iPad. But actually it seems like Apple has indeed done it again, releasing a newer and much more shiny (and heavy, from what I’m hearing in the wind) version of its famed iPad. And by golly does it mean business!

This new release is actually meant to be more of an upgrade for Apple techies looking for something more from their iPad 2s. This model has an improved screen, better gaming performance, a higher quality camera, and it runs on 4G data (a must-have for those who need ‘more’). It’s also worth pointing out that this new version does have a longer operating battery life, which owners of all Apple devices would benefit from. Basically, everything that your iPad2 did that was considered spectacular in its heyday, the ‘new iPad’ simply does better. Prompt reports on the new Apple iPad in the Impromptu newsletter

Everything? Unfortunately, this newer version apparently doesn’t support FaceTime chat over 4G data space. Sorry to sound slightly miffed, but wasn’t one of the aims of the latest iOS update to be able to conduct FaceTime on all of Apple’s devices, whether they run on Wi-Fi or a cell network? I would be devastated if I didn’t already have an iPhone 4 that I’m completely satisfied with (no Siri necessary).

Overall, I see this latest iPad a loyal ‘techie treat’ meant for the massive family of Apple addicts. Those are the folks that live among us and who have the funds to consistently upgrade their Apple product every year whenever a new release is handed down to the masses. Yes, the new Retina display is impressive, the 5 megapixel camera will take snaps that look great on that screen, and the ultra-fast wireless option will benefit some, but there really isn’t anything all that flashy to convince me to stand in a crowded line for ‘forever’ to spend $500 on what is essentially a shinier version of Apple’s last tablet. Of course I am forgetting the all-important bragging rights I would gain in the kingdom of the tech nerd (of which, by the way, I am a seasoned member).

Before the year end, there will be a guaranteed update of this ‘new iPad’ with the entire first round of bugs removed. If you are a confirmed addict to tech and an Apple loyalist, this new iPad release is undeniable a great gadget, and will be just the thing for you. But the rest of us should probably just keep the iPads and iPhones that we have for now, or dare I say it, even go over to the dark side of Android?

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Posted in Apple, Boston, Events, Impromptu weekly, Prompt locations, Technology | Comments Off

 

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October 10th, 2011

Mangos in a pub…

Mangos in a pub…

CNET Crave picks the latest Mango news...

Regardless of whether I’m ‘talking tech‘ in the City of London with IT executives or discussing the recent harvest with farmers in my local, the sticky bar-top remains cluttered with the same bunch of smartphone handsets: iPhones old and new, a couple of generations of Blackberry, some HTC Androids perhaps, maybe a Samsung or two…

So just who the heck is using Windows Phones, eh? Is it you and your friends in a suburban social scene I trundle through on an InterCity, unaware of your superior GUI and slick app environment? If you are a fan of Microsoft’s platform please let us know, but I suspect the population of Windows Phone users is actually pretty rarefied – somewhere out there with all the Zune subscribers…

Back in May I remember reading on Crave about the imminent Windows Phone 7.5 – codenamed Mango - which Microsoft had unleashed in hot pursuit of the Apple and Android handsets already disappearing over the horizon. To be honest, it felt a bit ‘Zuney‘ at the time, but I still assumed a brave but loyal following would support the platform and encourage further development.

But today the same news channel is reporting that Dell has pulled the plug on a planned Windows Phone Mango handset. Sure, Dell seems to be cutting back on support for Android too, but it’s still a pretty gloomy outlook for the Microsoft smartphone. The Dell Wrigley has allegedly been cancelled, and Dell won’t be producing any Mango handsets to take its place.

On the bright side, CNET has also found out that Nokia will announce its first Windows Phone devices at Nokia World at the end of the month. But who is waiting for these phones with even a scrap of the fervour a disappointing iPhone launch can muster at the drop of some leaked hardware?

What do you think about the likely future of the Windows Phone platform? And what do you feel the future focus of Dell’s product portfolio will be if smartphones are being pushed to one side for the time being? Please let us know.


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April 8th, 2011

Google shutting the door to the open source party

Google shutting the door to the open source party

via App Boy blog

Android owns the majority of the mobile market and analysts at IDC don’t see that changing in the next five years. Somehow, it’s still the most scattered and fragmented platform out there. Despite my personal dislike of Apple, it has a unified clean interface across all its products. Android’s software fragmentation is scattered enough thanks to its hardware manufacturers who feel the stock Android/Google experience isn’t enough and it needs more glitter. That’s not even taking into account the dedicated Android developers’ community who also provides custom interfaces, lockscreens and in some cases completely overhauled Android firmware.

But that is the joy of open source software isn’t it? Yes and no. As Android gets more complex and offers more features, phone manufacturers have been utilizing these features in their own ways. We still get the same great functionality that Android offers, but in a unique and different perspective. Where this has caused problems is when Android does update, (it’s on a once a year schedule for major updates) these phone manufacturers must update their own code to keep whatever unique and different features working with Google’s new tool set. This has resulted in phones that can and should be running Google’s latest firmware, falling behind the times, sometimes dramatically so.

Thankfully, that’s changing. With such a large and varied user base (and one that shells out tons of cash for your product), a consistent user experience should take precedence over everything else. Google realizes this and according to Bloomberg has been making partners sign ‘non fragmentation forms’ which can slow down a phones ability to update properly. Of course manufacturers are less than pleased losing some of their clout to trick out a phone as they see fit, but when it comes to making sure consumers aren’t paying for something that has no chance of being updated and useful in the fast growing mobile world, it’s the only thing to do.

I’ll sacrifice my complete control over a phone – through normal methods anyway – for the knowledge that in six months when the must have feature in smart phones is available to me and not held back because my phone manufacturer wanted a cool Facebook widget included.

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January 25th, 2011

Smart phones are out of this world

Smart phones are out of this world

A new perspective for smart phones

What is the true value of ubiquity, standardisation, commonality? In journalism and copywriting, we tend to throw the phrase ‘ubiquitous technology’ around with careless abandon, when in reality it’s usually nothing of the sort.

Social media platforms are just the latest recipients of such plaudits – Facebook and Twitter, we hear, are ubiquitous. Some commentators have even gone as far as to say that those without a Facebook account these days are somehow deviant.

But you don’t have to leave the industrialised world to witness a dramatic drop-off in the aura of social networking – there are thousands of communities across the UK in which tweets remain strictly for the birds. The editor of Wired UK, the screenwriter behind film ‘The Social Network’ and um, the Pope might all agree.

But what about mobile phones, then? Surely there’s no argument there? Even I’ve seen people from eight to 80 wrestling with their mobiles from Norfolk to the Ngorongoro Crater, across hugely diverse economic and social landscapes. But when can we truly class this technology as ubiquitous (without any fear of contradiction from, say, Hollywood or the Vatican)?

Well, here’s something to throw into the mix. According to the BBC, British engineers are planning to put a mobile phone in space. A team at SSTL and the Surrey Space Centre in Guildford want to see if the smarts of today’s phones will function in the most challenging environment of all. The mobile will run on Google’s open source Android OS and will be used to control a 30cm-long satellite to take pictures of the Earth in the mission later this year.

Of course this mission doesn’t really further the penetration of mobile phone technology. We all know that many people still can’t get a signal on the train let alone a rocket. But what it does perhaps demonstrate, is that there is a true value to ubiquity and economy of scale when coupled successfully with open standards and collaborative development. This venture is actually part of a serious quest to find more inexpensive, off-the-shelf electronics that can be used to lower the cost of space explorations.

As Chris Bridges from SSC told the BBC: “If a smartphone can be proved to work in space, it opens up lots of new technologies to a multitude of people and companies for space who usually can’t afford it. It’s a real game-changer for the industry.”

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