5 Things That Aren’t Intuitive or Necessary About iOS7

Whenever there is an Apple software update or a new phone coming out, it is all I can think about, talk about, dream about…you get the picture. So on Wednesday when they were releasing the new iOS7, it wasn’t even a question that I was going to download it as soon as I could. So I obsessively checked my software updates all morning until at 12:55 PM EST I saw I could update. Luckily within about a half hour I had the new software (I say luckily because most of my friends couldn’t download it until much later).

So I started playing around with it…seeing what was new, what was the same, and I noticed that a lot of the commands I had grown used to were a lot different. In fact, I couldn’t even figure out how to do a lot of things until I Googled it. It was surprising considering Apple is known for creating software and products that you can just figure out – it is engrained in our nature. Also, there were other parts that just are slower. For someone like me who is constantly multi-tasking and looking to get things done as quickly as possible, it was a bit disappointing. So here are some things that may help you as you learn the new iOS7 software.

#1 Closing Apps

We have all grown to love (or maybe just me) how easy it is to close apps to help your battery life. It is the same as deleting apps from your phone so it is easy. Well, I am a chronic app closer. I probably close my apps at least 10-15 times a day. So when I went to do that on iOS7, I was searching for the little x to close our the app, and it wasn’t there. So I tried touching the screens, holding them down (both which opened the apps), and I ended up needing to look up how to actually do it. Turns out, you have to swipe the screen shot of the apps toward the top of your phone screen.

Swiping Apps to Close

Swiping Apps to Close

P.S. This is my first plug for Yahoo Weather. More to come.

#2 Finding The Search Bar vs. The Notifications Bar

With the numbers of apps I have, I tend to constantly use the search box of the phone. But when I went to swipe toward the left, I couldn’t do that. So after playing around some more, I found that when I swiped down on the home screen, I was able to access it. However, there were times when I would swipe down and get the notification bar, and then there were times I would wipe down and get the search box. WHAT WAS GOING ON!?

So after some searching online, I found that if you swipe from the top of your phone down, you will get the notifications tab. I do like that it is now organized to show you calendar on one tab, all of your notifications on another, and missed notifications on a third. +1 Apple. Then when you touch anywhere else on the home screen and swipe down you can access the Search bar. Much more efficient, but still surprising that it wasn’t as obvious.

Home Screen:

Home Screen(Second Yahoo Weather plug above)

Search Bar:
Search Bar

Notifications Bar:

Notifications Bar

#3 Calendar App

I really love the calendar app. And I heard there was going to be updates and wasn’t so sure how I felt about that. Well, turns out, I’m not thrilled. I’ll get used to it, but I’m still not thrilled. The app is a bit difficult to navigate. Sure they now have the yearly, monthly, and daily view that is a more accessible, but the design and layout doesn’t seem as user friendly as it used to. For instance, I want as much space to be dedicated to showing me what’s on my calendar for the day. But the view of the week gets in the way. Oh well, I’ll manage. But some of the features are just not as user friendly as I was hoping. I will say though that I love that there is a whole tab of the notifications bar dedicated to the calendar.

Year View:

Year ViewMonth View:

Month ViewDay View:

Day View

#4 Zooming In & Out

I love flashy new features. Let’s admit it, they are exciting. But after having iOS7 for a few days, I just wish it would get to the command a bit faster.

For instance, when I unlock my phone, it takes a bit longer to do the fancy zoom feature. It reminds me of the PowerPoint animation where the words would fly in. Definitely a cool animation, but as we got older, we stopped using it because you just needed to get to the content of the presentation. The same goes for when you are opening an app. Cool zooming feature. When you close the app. Cool zoom out feature. Exciting the first few times, but after awhile, just not efficient.

Zooming

Zooming

Zooming

#5 Folders

There’s nothing I love more than organizing my apps into folders (it’s what you get when you have a Type A personality). I also liked when Apple limited the number of apps you could have in a folder. Because let’s be serious, you aren’t really using as many apps as you have. But now when apps are in folders it takes a bit longer to get to them.

First you have to open the folder (which takes a bit longer with the whole zooming thing).

Food Screen 1

Then you have to swipe to the right if the app isn’t on the first page.

Food Screen 2

Then you open the app (and the zooming commences).

It’s just a bit more work than necessary.

Yahoo Weather App Plug

Time to divert our attention for a second to an awesome app. After looking at this post, you may have seen the Yahoo Weather app on the home screen. This app completely took me by surprise and is actually the best weather app I have seen (and definitely in my top 10 favorite apps). Let’s look at the functionality…

First, easy to add locations and integration with other Yahoo products (which you see I don’t use), but definitely good to have.

Yahoo Weather App 1

Beautiful picture of Boston that shows what it is like when it is partly cloudy. When it’s rainy, there is a picture of Boston that is rainy. When it is sunny, there is a picture of Boston when it is sunny. And the pictures are never the same. Awesome.

Yahoo Weather App 2

Now of course the current weather, hourly weather, and weather for the week (available in 5 or 10 day increments).

Yahoo Weather App 3

Now some more details about the current weather, and what it will be like today and tonight. Then the map that shows the current weather (very helpful when it’s about to rain).

Yahoo Weather App 4

And finally information about rain, wind, pressure, and the sunrise & sunset. More awesome information.

Yahoo Weather App 5If you are not downloading the Yahoo Weather app now, let’s change that ;)

So back to iOS7, what other changes do you think aren’t intuitive or necessary?

5 Must-Have Apps

Last week I wrote a blog post for the HubSpot Marketing blog called 11 Apps Every Marketer Should Download. I always love writing posts about apps that help people with their jobs, but as I was writing that post, I couldn’t help but think of all the apps that I love but do not necessarily help me with my job. So here are 5 must-have apps that provide value outside of the workplace. (not including social media apps or any other productivity apps).

Songza

Everyone needs a playlist. Whether you are working, running, or relaxing, there is often a need to listen to some music. Songza takes this a step further than Pandora and Spotify by taking into account what day it is, what you may be doing, and chooses an appropriate playlist based on that.

So tonight for example, I am relaxing on a Saturday night after a long week and a busy weekend.

Step 1: It’s Saturday night. What are you doing?

Step 2: Based on what you are doing (relaxing at home), what genre do you want to listen to?

Step 3: Today’s Relaxing Hits? Okay. Pick a playlist.

This is awesome! Depending on the time of day and mood I am in, I always want to listen to different songs. During the work week, it recognizes that you may need an energy boost, may want to play music that is appropriate for the workplace (everyone has been there when your head phones don’t work for a second and everyone can hear your music), or you need music without lyrics to work to. Songza takes listening to music a step further to really pay attention to your mood and time of day. My personal favorite would probably be the “Drop-a-beat Workout” playlist when I work out in the mornings or after work.

HeyTell

Throughout the day, you are ALWAYS texting. But there are sometimes when you are driving and cannot text or just about to finish a project and do not want to take a time to stop what you are doing to send a text. That is where HeyTell comes in. HeyTell is basically a walkie talkie for your smart phone.

Simply hold down the “HOLD AND SPEAK” button, say whatever you need to say to the person you are sending the message to, let go of the “HOLD AND SPEAK” button and you message with be sent to another person. As soon as that person opens the apps, your message will be played aloud. It is simple, efficient, and easy to use. The picture above is someone sending else sending a message to me so as you can see, it appears in your phone just like other messages. If you tap the arrow to the right of my name, you can listen to past messages.

Dogsly

As a dog lover who is not quite at the point where I can buy my own dog, I use Dogsly to get my daily “fix.” Dogsly is basically Instagram for dogs. People post pictures of their dogs and share with others to see. There is an option to share pictures, “like” pictures, keep track of your own pictures, and even just look at your favorite pictures (as shown below).

This app targets dog lovers and has really garnered a lot of attention. After all, even Foursquare gives you the option to have cute puppies in its email communications!

360

When panoramic photography first came out, it was a big hit. The stand 3×5 or 4×6 pictures just didn’t do it for some people. But getting the longer view was valuable for people who wanted something more. Instead of piecing together 3 or 4 separate pictures, the camera automatically did it for you.

But here comes 360. 360 allows you to have a complete view of everything around you. The way the app works is you hit a record button, spin in a circle with your phone 2-3 times (to get the top, middle, and bottom shots), and then the app pieces your photos together. You can share the image on social media, email it to your friends, or just enjoy it on your phone. You can even use a gyroscope setting that allows you to move around in a circle after the picture has been taken so you really feel like you are in the place the picture was taken.

When I went hiking at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado, I used this app. To understand what I explained above, check out my picture here. You can click on the picture, and move left or right with your mouse to watch the picture spin.

Billr

At the end of a meal with a large group of people, everyone always scrambles to figure out how much he or she owes. Sometimes there is one person who will spend time splitting the bill with a pen and paper as everyone watches nervously to make sure they are not paying more than they ate or drank. I was usually the person who sat dividing up bills (which would take a good 5-10 minutes depending on the number of people at the table). But Billr does everything for you.

Step 1: Select the number of people at your table (up to 16 people which I did end up using a week ago). This time, let’s just use 3.

Step 2: Put in each item that the people at your table ate or drank.

Step 3: How much does everyone want to tip? Use the tax from your state (Boston, MA is 7%).

Step 4: See what everyone owes (down to the penny).

Step 5: Share the greatness of this app by texting or emailing your results!

And that’s that! What are the “must-have” apps that you use?

Instagram for $1 Billion…What’s Next?!

When I read that Facebook was buying Instagram for $1 billion, I had a bit of a different reaction than everyone else.  You heard a lot of complaints about Facebook continuing to take over other apps (first Gowalla and now Instagram!?)  You heard a lot of, “Are you serious!? ONE BILLION DOLLARS?”  You heard a lot of people just going crazy over two of their favorite pieces of technology coming together.

So what do I think?

I think this is awesome.  I love pictures.  Instagram brings me together with my friends from all over the country, takes away all of the noise from status updates and simply gives a picture.  I’m a visual person so it is perfect for me.  I, of course, love Facebook, but Facebook does not understand mobile apps and photography like they need to.  Sure they invented tagging pictures and created a more interactive experience for photography.  But Instagram can teach Facebook about what it takes for a good mobile experience and what mobile users are looking for.  Facebook has always struggled with their app, and Instagram has always been applauded by their app.  And after all, everything is headed toward mobile now so this will be important for Facebook’s business.

But what really made headlines was the fact that Instagram had 13 employees, has not been around as long as many of the other successful start-ups (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but has still found so much success.  How many times have you seen a new product or app and thought “Why didn’t I think of that?  That was so obvious!”  Photo sharing is not a new invention.  People have been sharing photos since the beginning of time.  But Instagram took it to the next step to make it a packaged experience.

This past weekend I was furniture shopping, and there was a couch with a chaise that could be replaced with a smaller cushion so it became a regular sized couch (aka 2-3 cushions straight across).  What an obvious but awesome invention!  And how many times have you looked at the Draw Something! app and thought, “Of course!  If Words With Friends, Chess With Friends, etc. have been so popular, of course ‘Pictionary With Friends’ would be popular!”  It is all about thinking about what people NEED or WANT and thinking of a way to solve that problem or meet that desire.

My junior year at Boston University, I took a series of four classes infamously known as Core.  You were put on a team with 7 other people and had to invent a product that doesn’t exist.  Then over the semester, you had to create a business plan that was as detailed as figuring out where your office building and production facilities would be and how much it would cost to produce the product.  There were marketing, finance, operations, and information systems sections that went into excruciating detail about your plan and future profitability.  We had to think of multiple products before ultimately deciding on the TripShield.  But the way we thought about it was by thinking of what problem people had — what they were unsatisfied with — and how we could fix it.  We thought about wires lying around college dorms and in dangerous places for young children.  We then thought of a way to fix it with the TripShield.

Not every company will have success like Instagram. They are really the black sheep of our time (see TechCrunch article). But every so often a company with an awesome ideas gets likely and, well, gets $1 billion dollars.

What do you think made them stand out more than other companies who have these awesome, unique ideas?