Foogi – A Cross-Platform Calendar & Scheduling App

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In Outlook in my enterprise, I can easily and quickly check to see who is available for a meeting at a given time. Definitely an efficiency booster.

But what if you are trying to coordinate times and attendees outside of the organization, using different platforms? Yes, of course there is an app for that. Foogi promises to match up invitees’ calendars to find the free / available times in which you can schedule your meeting. Foogi is not a calendar replacement. Instead, depending on how much information users share within Foogi, it will compare schedules and offer times within the existing calendar app so users can create an event. It works across a broad spectrum of calendaring systems, including Outlook, Gcal, iCal, etc. – users just need to have the Foogi app installed on their phones. If they don’t have Foogi installed, the app will send time suggestions to invitees by email, with one click meeting acceptance. It automatically adjusts for time zones.

If you are like me, it is at about this point in time when you start wondering about how much information are you actually sharing here? Foogi’s page indicates that only the starting and ending points of your available times are shared outside your device. There are some features coming down the road that will allow users to custom tailor what users show for available time, such as only show up to one free hour per day, or only availability on certain days during certain times. Even if you choose not to share availability in the app, you will soon still be able to see others’ available times in your calendar to ease the scheduling task.  Another soon to be released feature is the ability to group contacts and see all free / busy times for group members in the same interface to speed up the meeting creation process.

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Another thing to keep in mind is that Foogi users will automatically show in your contacts list – so app usage is shared with other app users. While slightly intrusive, it does serve to make the app more seamless. While offline or out of signal, Foogi stores your notices and will push them to your device once your are back online.

Also, in order to get the app, you have to provide your email address and cell number – the app is texted to your device, where you install from there. iOS, Android and Windows phone flavors.

It is free. Which is always nice.

I haven’t used the app yet, but if you can get around the issues of sharing your app usage and partial calendar information with Foogi contacts, and are fine with giving out your number and email in order to load it, the app does promise a feature we often take for granted here in the enterprise in Outlook. It certainly is a nice thought that you might be able to leverage that same convenience across devices and for free, using the ubiquitous smartphone calendar that rides around in your pocket.

Here’s the promo vid for your viewing pleasure.

Is Your Smartphone Killing You?

Seems a dramatic question, especially on a blog that is so mobile-friendly. But, as often is the case, there is another point of view on the benefits of cell phones and smartphones. Sure, they make your life “easier” by keeping amazing tools and applications close at hand, wherever you might be. But that constant companionship has drawbacks. Tony Shin’s infographic lists out some of the pitfalls of unfettered cell phone use, which brings home one of my favorite mantras: everything in moderation.

 

Cell Phones Kill
Created by: OnlineMastersDegree.com

What Do You Use Your Smartphone For?

Ever wonder what other people use their smartphones for? I know what I use mine for – quite a bit of email, a bit less texting and talking, a TON of picture/video taking, and a sizable amount of browsing and news consumption. Oh, and a little social media thrown in. Interestingly enough, the number one use for smartphones isn’t very smart at all – you can pretty much text on ANY phone, smart or dumb. Still, this infographic by Tatango is an interesting look at how people prefer to employ their brainy little devices:

The Mobile Enterprise

I just got a new work smartphone – its Android-powered, but more on that later. With a quick download of a Nitro app, I have sufficient security to access my Outlook mail, contacts, calendar and tasks. I understand my IT department is deploying tools to further integrate the mobile and desktop experience – first, iOS and Blackberry, with Android-friendly tools coming soon. When I come into work these days, a new wireless network pops up on my phone’s screen: iPad Test. Yes, Virginia, businesses are definitely going MOBILE.

Zendesk has published a cool infographic detailing the marriage between the enterprise and their smartphones. It’s tight, and only getting tighter. Check it out below, hat tip to WebWorkerDaily:

Cavalier Attitudes About Mobile Phone Security

We are all going mobile. And, generally speaking, that isn’t such a bad thing. To have a tool the approximate size of a deck of cards with you at all times that can manage your business and personal affairs over the “air” is a compelling sell indeed. However, along with the obvious benefits, there are certainly drawbacks, with security or lack thereof being not the least among them. In many respects, the lack of security does stand to some reason. What is far more troubling, however, is the general lack of awareness among mobile phone users regarding the risks associated with such “always on” connectedness.

BeSpacific blog highlighted a March 11, 2011 report by the Ponemon Institute, a group focused on security issues, on the findings from a survey of 734 U.S. mobile phone consumers over the age of 18. Ponemon was trying to get at two pieces of information: are consumers aware of the risks; and, do consumers care about the risks? The results, culled from their answers, are a tad shocking.

Ponemon reports that the key finding from their research is that users are unaware of the type and extent of security risks associated with mobile phone use and are not terribly concerned about them.  Users are far more concerned with security on their laptop or desktop computers than they are with respect to their mobile phones. They are also far more concerned that a marketer will try to contact them over their phone then they are about weak links in the security chain. A sizeable percentage store sensitive data on their phones, but over 50% of users have not enabled the basic security of a keypad lock or password protection. And a 57% majority report that security is not an important feature on their phone at all. Nearly half of consumers are unconcerned about transferring a device to another person without properly wiping the phone’s data. Most are unaware of being “tracked” while using their phones or the lessened security that accompanies jailbreaking a device. Less than half are concerned about insecure wi-fi to phone connections. Only about half are aware of and less than half are concerned about “cross-over” – security of business information jeopardized by personal use of a device.  And, it appears, a large percentage of smartphone use is mixed business and personal, with employers paying some or all of the bill.

Now, I am sure that Studio readers are well aware of the risks associated with mobile smartphone use and have implemented security measures to prevent against harm. But, as a public service, I list below the security scenarios addressed in the report. Maybe there is one you overlooked, who knows? But, knowledge being power and all, this is one arena in which ignorance is definitely not bliss.

1.   location data embedded onto image files can result in tracking of the smartphone user

2.   Smartphone apps can transmit confidential payment information (i.e. credit card details)

3.   Smartphones can be infected by specialized malware called “dialerware” that enables criminals to make use of premium services or numbers resulting in unexpected monthly charges.

4.   Smartphone apps may contain spyware that allows criminals to access the private information contained on a smartphone

5.   Financial apps for smartphones can be infected with specialized malware designed to steal credit card numbers and online banking credentials.

6.   If a social network app is downloaded on a smartphone, failing to log off properly could allow an imposter to post malicious details or change personal settings without the user’s knowledge.

7.   A smartphone can be disposed of transferred to another user without properly removing sensitive data, allowing an intruder to access private data on the device.

8.   In many cases, people use their smartphone for both business and personal usage, thus putting confidential business information at risk (a/k/a cross-over risk).

9.   A smartphone can connect to the Internet through a local WIFI network that is insecure. This may result in a virus attack to the smartphone.

10.   Smartphones contain basic security protections that can be disabled by jailbreaking, thus, making the smartphone more vulnerable to spyware or malware attacks.

11.   Smartphone users can be targeted by marketers based on how the phone is used for purchases, Internet browsing and location. As a result, the user may receive unwanted marketing ads and promotions on their smartphone.

8 (I mean 9) New Features of iPhone 4

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Apparently there are over 100 tweaks, but the WWDC presentation highlighted eight of them.

  1. First, the beautiful new design, previously broken by Gizmodo. Flat front and back, stainless steel edge, 9.33mm thick. 24% thinner than iPhone 3GS. Thinnest smart phone on the planet. Mute, volume up and down buttons on left edge. Front facing camera, micro SIM tray. Camera with LED flash on back. Microphone, connector and speaker on bottom. Headset, second mic for noise cancellation and sleep / wake button on top. The stainless steel band around the phone is part of its structure and serves as the antenna for the phone. Glass front and back.
  2. Next, a vastly improved display, with four times the pixels in the current space of one – 326 pixels per inch. Its called “retina” display, fits within the same 3.5″, but crams in 960 by 640 pixels.The results are downright amazing, and undoubtedly will set a new screen standard.
  3. Next, the A4 chip, designed by the Apple team. It has bigger specs – 6 hours 3G browsing, 10 hours Wi-Fi browsing. 10 hours video. 40 hours music. 300 hours standby and up to 32 gb of space (the latter is the same as the 3GS). Quad band HSPDA/HSUPA, 802.11n.
  4. Next, its got a Gyroscope! It has a 3 axis gyro, with its own, new CoreMotion API. Will be interesting to see what developers do with this. The Jenga demo, with 360 degree rotation, is pretty breathtaking.
  5. Next, a completely new camera system. There is an illuminated sensor on the back, along with the new, 5 megapixel camera. It has a 5 times digital zoom. Tap to focus. The flash is LED. And guess what? High definition video! 720 pixels at 30 frames per second (getting worried, Flip?). iMovie is coming to the iPhone as well (for $4.99 – why isn’t this included?), so you can edit your vids right on the phone.  It will even allow incorporating photos into your vids.
  6. Next, iPhone OS 4 has been enamed iOS 4. All the features previously layed out by Jobs and discussed in the tech blogs, ad infinitum. Mail and Pandora music at the same time. New Mail features – unified inbox and threaded mail items. Bing will now be  search option in Safari. Unfortunately, it will not be available for download today (or even this week).
  7. Next, iBooks is coming to iPhones with iOS 4. All the same features, including reading / viewing PDFs and downloading all the same books. Mailed PDFs will open in iBooks automatically. AND, you will be able to sync all bookmarks and notes across devices.
  8. Finally, and I am not sure why this is relevant to the iPhone discussion,  iAds. Although Apple has only been selling them for 8 weeks (with over $60 million committed by advertisers), clients already include: Citi, Unilever, AT&T, Chanel, GE, Liberty Mutual, State Farm, Geico, Campbell’s, Sears, JC Penny, Target, Best Buy, Direct TV, TBS, and Disney. The ads will be turned on for all iOS 4 devices on July 1 (so we will be getting iOS 4 before then).
  9. Oh, wait – there’s one more thing (because the fine folks at Apple can’t count). Yup, you guessed it. Video chat. The person called shows up full screen, and your tiny little image shows in a box in the lower left corner. It’s called FaceTime. Looks to be wi-fi only for now. And you can use front or rear camera so the person called can see what you are seeing.

Will I be getting one? Let’s just say, my 3GS is sitting right next to me is starting to sweat.

UPDATE: Stuff I missed because I had to leave before the live blogging ended – FaceTime will only work between iPhone 4 users. iPhone 4 will be $199 for 16GB and $299 for 32GB, and ATT is making everyone whose contract expires in 2010 eligible for upgrade. Pre-orders for iPhone 4 start on June 15. iPhone 4 will be available in the familiar black and white.

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iPhone As Swiss Army Knife

One of my predictions for 2010 was a rise in dependence on mobile computing. When I say mobile computing, I am not talking about your basic laptop. I am talking smartphones – those pocket-able devices that really shouldn’t be called phones at all (I’m looking at YOU, ATT!)

Smartphones and, in particular, the iPhone have been game changers across the spectrum of users. Applications, much like the little tools that pop out of all corners of a Swiss Army knife, meet any and all needs. Eminently customizable, devices like the iPhone really do serve as high-tech duct tape.

I have become quite dependent upon my iPhone. Initially, it really was more toy to me than anything else. I was dazzled by the big, vibrant display and user-friendly interface – these were new to me, after years of dumb phone and Palm Treo 750 experience. Over time, however, I have stretched its capacity, tested its boundaries and found that it really does have an answer to almost any question.

Take, for example, this past weekend. I went skiing with my family over the kids’ spring vacation. Just before leaving, a Twitter friend asked if he could pass my website on to a friend looking for a lawyer with background in writing and social media. That message first arrived on my iPhone via Boxcar (link here) and I responded there.

On Friday, while wearing my skis and riding on a chairlift, a message popped through on my phone via Google Voice and another message came in through my email from my website’s contact form asking for assistance. Later, I emailed and then phoned the potential client and laid down the groundwork for a proposal.

Over the next couple of days, I received background information via email and conducted research using mobile Safari. I used the built-in Notes app to outline some questions. I used Dragon Dictation (link here) to “write” my initial piece of the proposal while riding in the car and used Documents to Go (link here) to create a Word document and edit the piece to final form. As the client preferred communicating by IM / chat, I downloaded BeeJive (link here) to seamlessly chat on the move.

While I was at it, I checked the weather with Weather Bug (link here), used Navigon’s Mobile Navigator (link here) to get me between destinations and Where (link here), AroundMe (link here) and Siri Personal Assistant (link here) to find decent restaurants and other spots high in the mountains. I passed the time pinning my location in Gowalla (link here) and Foursquare (link here). I videoed the kids on my 3GS iPhone and uploaded the content to Flickr (link here) via the app. I stayed in touch with online friends via Tweetie 2 (link here) and Facebook (link here). When I could get signal, my husband and I stayed in touch on the mountain by SMS.

Although I didn’t personally download it, my husband loaded the iSki app (link here), which provides snow condition reports, your downhill speed, vertical feet, and the location of other members of your party on the mountain by their cell phone numbers and GPS.

Because of its extreme versatility, I was able to use both native programs and download new applications to get the job done. No laptop required.

Although I didn’t use the applications during this particular weekend, I have in the past used Westlaw’s mobile webpage interface and Fastcase (link here) to research and send legal information to clients. From my phone, while moving from one place to another.

Think about this: a phone that can cover pretty much any material need and, if you don’t have a particular ability or tool installed, you can find and download one as the need arises. You can even delete that functionality later and add different features. On the fly.

It really is no wonder that smartphone sales have sky rocketed. Who wants to put a laptop in their pocket while riding a ski lift?

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A Real Live Babel Fish???

Yes, science fiction may soon meet fact. Word on the Web is that Google is working on making its own speech-to-speech translation tech for future smartphones. What’s more, the Google people are suggesting this technology could be viable and live within a few years. Think about the implications for international business! I pulled this quote from the article on Gizmodo (link here), which in turned pulled it from an interview with The Times:

Franz Och, Google’s head of translation services, said:

“We think speech-to-speech translation should be possible and work reasonably well in a few years’ time.

Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that’s what we’re working on.

If you look at the progress in machine translation and corresponding advances in voice recognition, there has been huge progress recently.”

If the universal translator of science fiction fame is right around the proverbial corner, could the ever-elusive time teleporter be far behind? Grab your Towel and hang on tight!

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