Tag Archives: Android

Bitmoji makes texting fun. And slightly annoying.

bitmoji

Do you remember those cartoons that starting appearing in folks’ feeds a while ago?

They featured custom avatars that looked eerily like your friends?

Well that was Bitstrips.

Bitstrips is a web and mobile application that lets users create cartoons of themselves and their friends, which can be shared over social media

They were created by a Canadian company, which also created Bitmoji, which brings your customized avatar to the world of emojis.

Technically, Bitmoji is a keyboard with customized emoji, and it’s available for both iOS and Android devices.

When you download the app, it walks you through the process of building a custom avatar, letting you select everything from hair style, skin color and eyebrow shape, to facial hair and clothing.

avatar Stephen

Once you’ve created your avatar, it builds your emoji library, setting you up for some pure hilarity.

If you’re inside the app, you can select an emoji and share it with your friends or social network with a simple click.

Bitmoji’s keyboard lets you spice up texts to your friends by placing their emojis right into your messages.

Instead of a simple lol, you can use your Bitmoji lol emoji complete with your cross-eyed avatar.

I don't know why they had to make my eyes all googley.

I don’t know why they had to make my eyes all googley.

Find something particularly funny and want to ROFL? Bitmoji’s got an emoji of your avatar literally rolling on the floor laughing.

ROFL

There’s a Bitmoji emoji for virtually every common texting emotion you want to express – and then some.

But this is where things get a little inconvenient.

Ordinarily, when you’re texting, you just enter text, select the emoji keyboard, pick your emoji, switch back to the text keyboard and keep typing.

Unfortunately, unlike other keyboard-based emoji, where you can simply select the emoji and it appears in-line, Bitmoji’s emoji’s are “copied and pasted.”

Yes. You read that right: copied and pasted.

Although Bitmoji has it’s own qwerty keyboard, the buttons are small, and it’s not particularly user-friendly.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it’s a little difficult to find the emoji you want to use.

There are seven different selections arranged in some non-intuitive and seemingly random order.

Making matters worse, there are a bunch of what I’d call “useless” emoji.

G’Day Mate, for example, is one. The emoji is your avatar in a kangaroo’s pouch.

Why am I in a kangaroo's pouch? Anyone?

Why am I in a kangaroo’s pouch? Anyone?

Now, if I were in the Australian outback, or had recently watched Crocodile Dundee, then maybe.

And that’s not the only one.

There’s another called “Hey, hey, hey,” and a third which can only be described as disturbing.

This is something straight out of a cartoon nightmare.

This is something straight out of a cartoon nightmare.

It features your emoji in greyscale, arms akimbo, in what appears to be a bikini.

Both male and female emojis appear in this fashion – why? I have no idea.

Why do I have boobs?

Why do I have boobs?

IMG_2584

In fact, there are a number of polymorphic emoji, bearing female bits, which is a problem if you didn’t intend to create a transgender avatar of yourself.

Problems aside, Bitmoji’s app is great if you spend a lot of time texting and want to spice up your virtual communications a tad.

It is a massive time waster, though, so exercise discretion.

 

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Filed under apps

WTF!? It’s 2015. Get a f*@!ing mobile site already!

IMG_2339.JPG

I’m f*@!ing pissed!

Why?

I’ll tell you why.

Because it’s 2015 – 2015!! and motherfuckers are still making me view their shitty full sites on my mobile device.

Even though there are more than 6.9 billion mobile subscribers in the world and the fact that mobile browsing has overtaken desktop browsing, less than ten percent of the 700 million websites are optimized for mobile.

So that means even with my beautiful 6 Plus, I’ve still got to double tap, pinch and swipe to view the content of most sites on my phone.

I don’t get it.

Why wouldn’t you want your content to be viewed in a way that is readily consumable by your audience?

I mean, you built a website to put your stuff in front of potential customers, right?

So doesn’t it make sense, now that you know that everyone on the globe has – and regularly uses – a mobile device, to build a mobile site.

Or at the very least optimize your content to be accessible to mobile devices?

There are countless benefits for making a mobile version of your site.

Simpler navigation.

Prominently placed calls to action.

Streamlined options.

Leveraging the utility of native mobile browsers.

Click-to-call.

The majority of which is lost if you’re forcing your users to contend with a full HTML site.

Trust me, if you built a mobile site, you’d have far more engagement and conversions than you currently do.

Don’t believe me?

Check out your analytics.

See how many visits you’re currently getting from mobile browsers.

I’d put money on the fact that you’ve got more visits from mobile browsers, Android and iPhone devices than anything else.

What does it all mean?

It means that if you customize the browsing experience for folks visiting your site from mobile devices, you’re going to see decreased bounce rates, increased time on site, increased page views, potentially higher conversions and more revenue.

It’s a win-win!

If you require convincing that a mobile site is the way to go, you’re probably of the ilk that thought radios, the telephone, and the Internet were passing fads.

If you, on the other hand, know you need a mobile site and don’t know where to start, hit me up and I’ll put you on the right path.

But whatever you do, for the love of God, get a mobile site – STAT!

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Filed under advocacy, mobile, opinion

Five signs that you’re a Fanboy

Have you seen this person? Looked in the mirror lately?

Have you seen this person? Looked in the mirror lately?

With the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the inevitable phone wars have begun afresh.

Don’t act like you don’t know what the phone wars are.

The ongoing comparisons between Apple and Samsung or iOS versus Android.

Invariably, these little skirmishes arise whenever Apple drops a new product (and never the other way around).

But that’s beside the point.

Or is it?  Hmmmm….

Anywho, every so often users on both sides take to the interwebs to pronounce their allegiance to (or disdain for) one side or the other.

Your’s truly is no exception.

I’ve been known to malign an Android owner or two in my day.

No. I don’t own stock in Apple, and no Samsung owner ever kicked my dog (I don’t even own a dog).

“So why the hostility?” you ask.

Well, that’s easy.

Usually, I’ve got a cogent argument supporting my pro-Apple stance.

Sometimes, not so much.

My blind allegiance is often questioned, and I’ve always assumed it was because Apple simply made a better product.

But with the release of the iPhone 6, which is really Apple’s version of the larger Samsung family of devices, the questions of my blind allegiance are….well…valid?

So I’ve done a little introspection and I think I’ve got it.

I’m a fanboy.

Like millions of others, when it comes to anything Apple, I go balls to the wall.

I readily admit my fandom, but others can’t seem to self-identify (as I have).

So today, I’m going to share with you the top five signs that you too, are a fanboy.

1. You wait in line the day a new device drops.

More accurately, you camp out for days leading up to the release of a new device.

Only true fanboys place such importance to being the first ones to own a device that they’re willing to risk their lives, brave poor weather, take time away from the families or jobs to sit on a line and wait.

Will they win a prize?

Receive an award?

Be recognized for their achievement?

No. No. And no.

So why do they do it?

For the visceral feeling they get holding a brand spanking new device that no one else (yet) has. That’s why.

Oh. And they’re fanboys.

hundreds-line-up-in-front-of-an-apple-store-in-central-berlin-germany

Now y’all know you’re supposed to be at work! WTF?!

2. You take pro- (or anti-) device claims at face value.

If anything that Apple (or Google) publishes in anticipation of a release gives you wood and you regurgitate the features and capabilities as fact, sight unseen, you’re a fanboy.

So what you’re getting all your information from the rumor mill?

If Apple says it, it must be true. Right?

town crier

3. You take criticism of your device personally.

Everyone knows that Apple’s battery life is notoriously horrible. Or that Android devices routinely freeze, crash and drop calls.

But if you’re a fanboy, and someone utters a word against your favored device, all you hear are fighting words – and you’re literally ready to fight.

I remember when the Samsung Galaxy GS3 dropped.

Several of my so-called friends copped it and were all ga-ga over it.

I had one of the first GS3s in my office and had a chance to take it for a test drive.

Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.

I posted a blog with my two cents, and was immediately set upon for posting negative reviews.

I had to unfriend a few folks after that.

iPhone-5-Android-Market

Don’t know why the illustrator decided to cast the Android as the Jedi. Android is definitely the dark side of the force. Hello?

4. You’ve never owned the competing device.

As a result, you’re totally ignorant about what an iOS device or Android can or can’t do.

It’s hard to offer any legitimate critique of a competing device if you’ve never owned one.

But that doesn’t keep fanboys from making far-reaching pronouncements about the inadequacies of the opposition.

Wouldn't you rather hate in ignorance than admire with full information?

Wouldn’t you rather hate in ignorance than admire with full information?

5. You still rock Blackberry.

There is no more profound evidence to the existence of a true fanboy, than Blackberry owners.

Despite the obsolescence (or near obsolescence – they’re clearly on life support) of Blackberry devices for several years now, there are still legions that swear by these blocky, keyboard bearing pieces of antiquity.

blackberry passport

Will the Blackberry Passport help to revive the dying brand? Not likely. But we have a new device to make fun of!

Now if you have any doubt whether or not you’re a fanboy, ask yourself, “When was the last time you owned <input name of device you don’t currently own here>?”

If you can’t remember, you’re a fanboy.

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Filed under advocacy, digital advocacy, iPhone, mobile

The iPhone 6 got me so excited I peed myself.

To pee or not to pee

It’s true.

I know I usually title my posts with outrageous statements sometimes, in an effort to distinguish myself from the blogging fray.

But a trace amount of urine actually escaped my urethra as I waited excitedly for the start of Apple’s September 8th announcements.

To be precise, I didn’t exactly pee on myself.

I was trying to hold in my pee.

It was a matter of not missing the live stream or relieving myself.

Ultimately, my desire to avoid soiling myself further won out and I was able to dry the small spot of wetness on my trousers with the hand dryer.

I kid. I kid.

But I (like millions of other fanboys and girls) watched as Apple announced the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and Apple Watch.

If you’re an Android user, technologically daft or live under a rock, and Apple products don’t give you a rise in your nether regions, stop reading now.

If however, new Apple products give you wood, cause spontaneous orgasm or premature ejaculation, read on.

I can’t front, I’ve been jealous of all those Android users with their tv phones.

When the GS3, the Note, the S5, and all those large form Android Phablets came out, I was green with envy.

While I can’t stand the “commonness” of Android devices or the randomness of features which are on certain phones and absent from others, I do dig how much content you can consume on their large(r) screens.

Of course, I was happy when the 5 dropped and we gained those 100 or so extra pixels at the bottom of the screen, but the 5/5s was still kinda wack, when compared with the Android tv phones.

And ‘yes’, I mocked Android users as they pulled out their massive screens from their suitcases pockets.

Sure, I maligned them for lugging around phones larger than their heads.

But I was really just masking my pain.

I wanted a massive tv phone to lug around too.

But one made by Apple, with a reliable OS that I trusted.

Not some open source foolishness cobbled together by sweaty geeks huddled together in a cave.

If I was going to lug around a tv phone in my pocket, it was going to be a sleek, elegant, uber thin Apple tv phone.

My every commute was filled with angst, as the Android horde pulled out their tv phones, watching House of Cards, or True Blood, 30 Rock or Amy Schumer on crystal clear HD screens, and I pulled out my monocle to read on my not-a-tv-phone iPhone 5s.

Sure, I had the latest and greatest Apple had to offer, and I was happy with it.

But I often found myself unconsciously peering over the shoulders of Android users, giggling at their screens, before catching (and cursing) myself for the lapse.

As much as I despised Android, the lure of their large screens was hard to resist.

Why didn’t Apple make such a glorious device?

WHY!!!!???

But like Zeus’ mighty lightning bolts forged by the Cyclops, Apple has forged not one, but two mighty iPhones to beat back the savages.

With the arrival of the large form phones, Apple is squarely in competition with Android.

Soon, I will be the one envied by the Android horde, as I unsheath my iPhone 6 Plus (you know I’m going large – and it’s not to mask any inadequacies!)

No longer will I be looking over shoulders, staring at the screens of savages.

They shall spy on me!

I’m sorry, was I frothing at the mouth just now?

Anywho…

Now, I’d love to give you my hands on review of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

But, alas, my invite from Cupertino must have been lost in the mail (umm, Apple, get your mail room in order).

So, rather than regurgitate someone else’s hands on assessment of the wonders of Apple’s latest devices, check Mashable, whose write ups and videos are pretty good.

In fact, they’ve got a really good side-by-side comparison between Apple and the others.

Not to worry.

I’ll have the 6 Plus as soon as it’s released, and you’ll have my hands-on assessment straight from the source.

Until then, I’ll be wearing diapers.

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Filed under iPhone, mobile

Five tips to make your app idea a reality

apps-image

If you didn’t know, I’m the go-to guy when it comes to web, mobile web, social media and apps, in my network.

Cats who know me, know that I’m all tech’d out, so my advice is solicited fairly frequently.

Last night was no exception.

You see, I got a call from a friend who was interested in building an app.

They actually sent me a text and then followed it up with a call – as if the distinction makes a different.

What do you care?

Just recount the story already fool!

Anywho, my friend is a member of the PTA where our kids attend school, and had (what she thought) was a great idea for an app that could be used as a fundraiser.

I listened patiently, as she rattled off her pie-in-the-sky idea.

I say ‘pie-in-the-sky’ because most ideas are just that: ideas.

Very few folks take the necessary steps to turn an idea into reality.

And since I didn’t want my friend wasting her time (and mine) pursuing a pipe dream, I got to the nitties.

Do you have your idea written down?

What are the basic features and functions of your app?

Will it be a native app, pull in mobile web pages or is it a hybrid?

Do you have a mock-up, wireframes or drawing which models your app?

How is the data being managed?

What’s your back end?

iOS, Android or both?

Is this something you’re planning on putting into the App Store, or will it be distributed privately?

Is it going to be a free or premium app?

What’s your timeline?

And the coup de grace…

Do you have a budget?

Now a lesser man (or woman) would have been flummoxed by my barrage of questions.

But old girl hung in like a trooper.

Although she didn’t have a written plan, wireframes or a mock (it came to her as she was driving through Colonial Williamsburg with her kids) she did have many of the answers I needed to vet her idea.

And as I walked her through the various things she need to do to get her app off the ground, it dawned on me that most people don’t know what it really takes to create an app.

So rather than allow you folks to live in ignorance, I’ve decided to outline the top five things you need to do to build an app.

1. Write your idea down.

I don’t know why people think that writing their ideas down isn’t important.

There’s nothing worse than listening to someone blabber about their unformed idea for an app. If you’re serious about building an app, and you want serious advice about it’s feasibility, then take the time to outline exactly what it is you want to build.

While it’s good to be able to articulate your idea orally, this isn’t Shark Tank. Folks are going to want to be able to work from a document and not from your oral pitch.

More importantly, by writing it down, you can see whether you’ve covered all your bases. By listing out what the app does, how it works, etc., you can determine whether your idea is fully formed (or not) and what you’ve still got to work on to make it complete.

2. Sketch it out.

I can’t stress the importance of visualization when it comes to building your app. Sure, you’re no Picasso. But you’re also not going to be showing your sketches at the MOMA, so get over yourself.

Sketching out our app is a simple way for you to render your app in a way that lets you map out landing pages, button placement, navigation elements, even ad space.

When you sketch out your idea, you form an appreciation for the spacial considerations you’ve got to take into account when you’re developing anything for mobile. It will help you focus on the absolutely essential elements of your app, which need the real estate, versus the wants, which will invariably  make your app look messy or cluttered.

3. Understand your data.

When you’re developing an app, you’ve got to figure out what information you need from your users or what information you’re planning on sharing with your users.

Where is it going to be stored? How is it going to be accessed? Do I need an API? What about web services? What information exists natively (versus information sitting on the web)?

Regardless of the answer to these question, having a complete (or at least well-formed) understanding of what’s happening with your data is crucial to getting it built.

4. Define the user experience.

What your app is going to do, how it’s going to function and the set of features available, are all parts of defining the user experience.

Focusing on features, flow and function, will help you understand your app and move it from concept to reality.

5. Set a budget.

Regardless of how outlandish or reasonable your app idea is, it’s going to require some moolah to get it developed. If you’re a developer and know how to code for iOS and Android devices – well bully for you. Everyone else, you’re going to have to pay someone to develop your app for you. And it’s going to cost you something.

Now you can go the offshore route and build your app on the cheap. This invariably translates into many sleepless nights working with your foreign (=basic mastery of the English language) development team, potential delays and cost overruns. But when you’re paying in rubles or rupees can you really complain? No.

Or you can go the domestic route and pay market rates. This means lighter pockets, but the ability to work directly with your development team and give/get feedback in real time.  Whichever way you go, you’ve got to plan on setting money aside (or raising money) to get your app built. Starting the process off with money in the bank or a clear idea of what you’re prepared to spend, helps move things from idea to reality.

So the next time you think you’ve got an idea for the next killer app, don’t just talk about it, be about it!

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When you’re amazing it shows. Ode to a professional gangsta.

You're packin' a mean piece o' steel, Mister.

You’re packin’ a mean piece o’ steel, Mister.

I know when you read the title of this post, you thought, “Oh here he goes again!”

And on a normal day you’d be right.

I would absolutely be talking about me.

Heaping mounds upon mounds of praise on myself, crowing about how great I am at everything I do, and how the world hangs on my every word.

But today, not so much.

You see, today I’m going to heap praise on someone whom I consider a professional gangsta.

Who, I might add, bullied me into even writing this post.

Listen to me when I talk, y’all.

G.A.N.G.S.T.A.

Her name is Dianne Ramlochan.

And she’s not to be trifled with.

In the almost two years that I’ve known her, she has impressed me as one singularly bent on getting her way.

It’s her way or the highway.

Perhaps it’s the only child thing.

Who knows.

But whatever Dianne wants, Dianne gets.

Case in point, I don’t usually “friend” co-workers and professional colleagues on Facebook.

I like to keep my virtual personal world separated from my real professional one. Ya’ dig?

We can be LinkedIn, and you may get a trickle of the virtual real me from the incomprehensibly-difficult-to-disconnect Facebook/LinkedIn nexus.

Can someone pleeeeaaassssseee tell me how to decouple this bullshit?

But by and large, you’re not peepin’ my personal shit online unless you’re digging.

Somehow, though, Ms. Ramlochan managed to Jedi mind trick me into waiving that work-professional life separation.

Don’t you know I friended this heifer?

And she’s following me on Twitter.

She famously quips about how if ever she can’t reach me at my desk via landline, email, mobile phone or text, she’ll “tweet” me.

Tweet me?

How are you going to be tweeting your project manager?

Have you ever heard of anything so ludicrous?

But that’s this chick.

To her credit, when I met her, she had just been hired to the team of one of the illest executive dudes I’ve come across to date.

No nonsense Anthony McLoughlin.

This dude was like Miles Finch from Elf – except a lil’ taller.

Point was, you didn’t eff with Anthony.

If you did, it was your ass.

And D worked for this dude.

Trial by fire is all I can say.

But then Anthony left for the West Coast, and Ms. Ramlochan inherited his fiefdom of projects, vendors and responsibilities.

And turned us all into her vassals.

20140228-172129.jpg

What it felt like to work for Dianne.

Overnight, we went from watching Dianne do all Anthony’s dirty work, to having to do Dianne’s dirty work.

I still get cold chills thinking about the day Dianne took over…

Homegirl is relentless.

RELENTLESS.

She had one word you never wanted to see come across your email.

“Unacceptable.”

That’s all she’d say.

Unacceptable this.

Unacceptable that.

Unacceptable the other.

Unacceptable, and cats would gets to steppin’!

Chills.

But we worked it out.

And in the process, she pushed through a few apps, next gen mobile web, iPad kiosk update, a couple of mobile web and app-specific pilots, and a tablet web project.

She had help, of course (=your’s truly), but it all went down under her watchful eye.

And now, she’s leaving the nest – where she truly learned to abuse fly – to new shores.

Those of Saks Fifth Avenue – heaven protect you (said in a whisper).

To leave a wake of psychologically traumatized victims forge new trails.

Anywho, on the last day of our professional lives together, I bid her adieu in the best way I know how.

Memorialized in my blog.

There, D. I’ve made you famous.

PS Congratulations on your new job!

<

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Filed under branding, digital advocacy, technology, work

Infographic: Android may grow, but Apple makes dough.

Apple vs. AndroidIn the war for mobile dominance, there are only two acknowledged players: Apple and Android.

Where once Apple held unchallenged dominion in the smartphone market, Android, led primarily by Samsung, has made slow but steady progress through the years.

Apple is no longer the only horse in the race, and there are serious rivalries in play.

And it’s not just Apple’s mobile phones that are being challenged.

The highly innovative iPad, which revolutionized the tablet market, must fend off the forays of the Kindles, Nintendo, et als, who are all vying for that lucrative tablet market.

What’s at stake in this rivalry is more than just eyeballs.

A smartphone or tablet gives their manufacturers a means through which they can push content.

The devices people rock drives commerce.

It’s a means to an end.

A quick glance at any quarterly Nielsen or ComScore report will tell you why.

Mobile is big business.

Ad, app and device revenues in mobile are in the billions of dollars annually.

That’s billions with a “B.”

Rather than prattle on about the stats, I’ve created a handy-dandy infographic.

This snapshot looks at the Apple Android rivalry in terms of device shipments, app downloads, mobile gaming, gaming revenue and Black Friday revenue.

Apple vs Android Infographic

For the most part, the information is gleaned from reports from Q3 2013, but I’m curious to see what 2013 year end stats look like.

The main takeaway (at least for me) is that while Android’s numbers are growing, by leaps and bounds, the money – the REAL money – is being made by Apple.

I’m not counting Android out, by a long shot, but they’ve got a ways to go before they’re a challenge to Apple’s dominance.

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Filed under apps, mobile

iOS 7 is the most unstable, unreliable OS ever. #iOS7sucksballs

The white screen of death.

The white screen of death.

Yeah, I said it.

iOS 7 is unquestionably the most unstable, unreliable, defect ridden OS (operating system) that Apple has ever released.

I wish I were simply going for dramatic effect, as I am prone to do.

But I’m not.

Unfortunately (for Apple and Apple users) I’m serious.

Since I’ve had the iPhone 5s, which came preloaded with this garbage, and since I stepped up to iOS 7 on my iPad 2, I’ve experience more crashes than I care to mention.

Even though I’ve meticulously kept up with all updates, my devices seem to crash frequently.

I’m rocking 7.0.4, but I might as well be on a Windows phone for the frequency with which I find myself staring at the white screen of death.

It got so bad that I started keeping a crash log detailing the dates, times and activities I was engaged in.

To date, I’ve recorded several (although I’ve experience many more), to wit:

  • 11/24 @ 7:03 pm Facebook app crashed on iPhone
  • 11/26 @ 11:37 am Chat crashed on iPad
  • 11/26 @ 7:59 am Kindle app crashed (switching between Kindle and Chat)
  • 12/13 @ 6:16 pm MyTix app crashed on iPhone
  • 1/2 @ 10:48 am iTunes crashed on iPhone

I was just going to record these crashes for internal use with my team, but as I was tapping out a post in WordPress on my iPad, it crashed.

When I opened OmniFocus on my iPhone to add it to my crash log, the iPhone crashed too.

Back to back crashes on two different devices within seconds of each other.

I can’t make this shit up.

I was hot.

I started to post a tirade, blasting Apple’s latest OS as a drug-induced, hippie-hued useless waste of time.

But cooler heads prevailed, and I paused.

What would that get me (aside from jeers, cheers and a round of applause from jaded Android uses)?

Instead, I’ve decided to do an informal survey, asking folks about their experiences with iOS 7 to see if my experience is anomalous or par for the course.

I’m posing the following questions to Apple users and will post the results of my survey in a subsequent post.





Remember to click “Vote” after each question to have your answer tallied.

Your opinion matters, so please take the time to complete the poll, comment here, on Facebook or wherever you encounter this post/poll.

If you don’t answer the poll here, you can tag your responses with the hashtag #ios7sucksballs to be included in the survey.

My blog is so popular that WordPress will likely crash from the overwhelming traffic, so if you re trying to leave a comment with your responses, but are unable to do so due to system constraints, please try again later.

Now I don’t want to be a complaining complainatron, so here’s a link to an article from Digital Trends, with solutions to some of the more common problems with iOS 7.

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Filed under iPad, iPhone, opinion

NJ Transit’s MyTix app saved my ass (and some bread)!

mytix

Has this ever happened to you?

You just make the train by the skin of your teeth, and as the train pulls away from the station, you realize that you forgot to buy a ticket.

Or you’re sitting on the train and the conductor asks you for your ticket. As you rifle through your pockets, you realize that you forgot your wallet.

Or you make the last train out of the city. Didn’t have time to buy it from the machine, but you’re prepared to pay the on-board surcharge. You reach into your wallet and you have no cash.

Or each month you purchase a monthly pass, but as you pull out your pass, you realize that its for last month and you’ve forgotten to re-up.

Don’t you hate that?

I’ve had each of these ridiculous scenarios happen to me (and some more than once).

And each time I cursed myself, lamenting the fact that there wasn’t an app which would have allowed me to remedy the situation right from my phone.

Instead of having to shell out an extra $5 (the penalty they impose for purchasing a ticket on the train).

Or experience the shame of being reprimanded by the conductor for either (a) not having a ticket; (b) not having a wallet; or (c) not having cash (or enough cash).

Why wasn’t there an app which would let me buy my tickets on-the-fly (and avoid these shameful encounters)?

Alas, my oft-repeated curses were not for naught!

Because NJ Transit now has an app that lets you buy etickets!

That’s right.

The app is called MyTix and it provides customers a secure and convenient way to buy rail tickets and passes from a mobile device.

I overheard two commuters talking about it a few weeks ago and promptly downloaded it from the App Store.

And it’s everything I’d hoped it would be.

No more running for the train like an idiot.

Or panicking as the train pulls into the station while you’re still in queue to by your ticket.

Or nervously fumbling through your wallet or purse to find your ticket or cash as an impatient conductor breathes down your neck.

Panic no more fellow commuter, your savior is here.

Using MyTix is as simple as creating an account and inputting a few data fields.

Last week, I found myself without my monthly pass, so I opened the app on my way to the train.

A few clicks later and I had purchased my ticket.

No fuss no muss.

MyTix ticket to Montcleezy

One way MyTix ticket to Montclair. Note the “expires” countdown clock.

Now there are a few wrinkles with the app.

You’ve got to activate your pass before your board the train.

If you don’t you may not be able to access your ticket on the train (if no signal is present).

And once you do, you’ve got 2 hours and 45 minutes to use it.

So don’t activate your ticket if you don’t plan on getting on a train immediately or you’ll be ass out.

And the app is just for buying tickets.

You can’t get schedule information or anything else, so don’t get gassed thinking it’s the be-all-end-all for your commute.

It’s not.

Currently the app supports purchasing senior, adult or child one-way or round trip tickets, as well as weekly and monthly passes.

MyTix is only available on select lines, for now, but NJ Transit plans on expanding the utility throughout their service areas.

Now if you’re not in Jersey, don’t take NJ Transit or are not on one of the supported lines, you can ignore this post entirely.

But if you are, this app is a life money saver!

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Filed under apps

What the f*@# do you mean you don’t have an iPhone?

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You can file this under rant.

One of the things that boggles my mind, is when someone in the mobile space says that they don’t own an iPhone.

Whoa!

Hold your horses.

Before you start prattling on about the whole Samsung/Apple debate (Winston), know that that’s not where I’m going with this.

Simmer down now.

iPhone is just a placeholder.

The title to this post might have been “What the f*@# do you mean you don’t have an <insert name of mobile device here>?”

But that didn’t quite roll off the tongue.

Feel me?

Honestly, I could care less about your mobile device preference.

Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG, Nokia, Motorola, I could give a rat’s ass what you like.

As long as you own a smart phone capable of approximating the intended feature or functionality you’re trying to vet, we’re cool.

But when you’re building a mobile site, developing an app, using QR codes, or integrating augmented reality…

ANYTHING that requires a proper smart phone to experience…

And don’t own a proper smart phone…

You. Sound. Crazy.

At least to me you do.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve talked to folks about how a feature works or is supposed to work.

And learned – in the midst of that discussion – that they’ve never actually tested the issue being discussed on a device.

Or, worse yet, that they don’t even own the friggin’ device to test on.

I mean really?

How do you form your lips to critique something you’ve never tested?

Why are we even having this discussion?

Trying to describe a function or feature to someone who doesn’t have the device in question is like trying to describe color to a blind person.

No. It’s actually worse.

Especially if that person is making decisions in the absence of valid information.

Sure, wireframes, mock ups and emulators can help you imagine what the finished product will be like.

And they’re great for what they’re for – modeling.

But there is nothing like experiencing a thing on the platform for which it was intended.

And there’s nothing more valuable than getting feedback from an actual user.

Now, truth be told, I used to be one of the people of whom I speak.

Back in the day, I blacked out on Android users, but never owned an Android device.

My opinions of Android’s inadequacies were wholly based on conjecture not fact.

I have since seen the error of my ways, copped a Samsung GS3 and tested countless other Android devices.

So the disdain I now feel for Android devices, is steeped in fact.

But I digress.

My point is, don’t be like the old ignorant Stephen, casting stones in a glass house.

Be like the new Stephen, who opens the window to cast his stones carefully and with precision.

Now class, what have we learned today?

1. Stephen has a low tolerance for BS.

2. If you’re developing for mobile, you’ve got to have a mobile device.

I’m done.

Rant over.

3 Comments

Filed under iPhone, mobile, opinion, rant, technology, Uncategorized