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ltimately, the politics of privacy and exclusivity are a developing theme surrounding apps, as well as new business models that compete with old paradigms and established interests. Some good examples are the new apps invading the realm of public and commercial transportation. Much to the chagrin of the taxi cab industry, ride sharing apps like Uber give individuals the opportunity to share rides for hire, using GPS to locate riders and match them to the nearest available driver. It also gives you a way to track the driver en route to pick you up, along with your driver’s name and vehicle identification. You get a text when they arrive, and the chance to call or text them, if necessary, while they’re on the way. Rates for your city are posted on the app, and you can enter your origin and destination points to get a price quote for the trip. Payment is also convenient: the trip is charged to the credit card you’ve filed with Uber, and they e-mail your receipt. You can split your fare with friends who ride along, and even rate your driver. Uber offers a glimpse into a new way to look at commerce and community.
There are even more specific examples of community considerations in cab services. Noted in the September 27 issue of The Economist, apps for women-only cab service (drivers and riders) have been introduced in New York City under the name SheRides, and SheTaxi in Westchester County and Long Island. The launch has been slowed by the immediate demand, while they look for 500 drivers to fill the initial need. Male taxi drivers object, as do some male riders, who themselves might also prefer a woman cab driver. As the Economist notes, woman drivers have a better accident record in New York, and some men just prefer to be driven by a woman. But for now, that will have to be left to chance, as the women-only services are clearly marked and men are directed to other services. The business model has already worked in other cities around the world, where religious beliefs forbid many women from traveling with unrelated men, and other women can find safety in exclusivity.
National Public Radio has also reported on some cities that offer still another example of safety in exclusivity, and safety in community: an app that specifically offers rides to transvestites and other associated workers, a group that is often denied transportation in traditional taxis, and finds comfort in being transported by drivers they trust. Protection for the vulnerable, exclusivity for the excluded, and the comfort of self-sequestered communities are some of the advantages of apps in transportation, and apps in general.
Beyond transportation, anonymous apps like Secret, Whisper, and YikYak service self-created small communities with secret apps, where users set up chats within a designated community, encouraging anonymous commentary, or semi-anonymous commentary. Users know who is in the group, and may be able to exclude one another as time goes on, which some critics say can contribute to bullying, and which might seem self-defeating in terms of encouraging community if it’s poorly used.
Recognizing the advantages that apps can offer all types of communities, The Knight Foundation, along with the FCC, has sponsored the Apps for Communities Challenge, offering up to $100,000 in prizes for app developers who can develop ways to make local public information more accessible to under-served communities. Connecting people to public transportation is one possibility, or connecting townspeople to local businesses and healthcare services. Local approaches that can be adapted nationally, the initiative is intended to give communities more effective collaboration with government. It’s a recognition that the possibilities for apps to contribute to small communities, and society at large, are endless, and, as we’ve noted before, an endless source for making the world a better place.
When we published our blog entry on Google Glass (“What Are YOU Looking At?”, March 2014), we speculated on the direction of some professional uses for this and other personal computer devices in the law enforcement and medical communities. It only took about a week before we ran across an article describing doctors using Google Glass in clinical settings, and it inspired us to continue looking into the range of medical apps available for professionals and individuals, as well as the growing network of trained volunteers who’ve sought instruction in CPR and other first aid techniques.
We also discovered inventors working on the development of external devices that can be attached to mobile devices to test blood for viruses or water for bacteria. An overwhelming array of monitoring and diagnostic tools is on the horizon, but many are available for your mobile device right now in the form of apps.
Perhaps the best known is Medscape from WebMD, available to anyone, but most often used by physicians, medical students, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to access medical news, drug dictionaries and disease treatment information. Medical calculators, health plan information, and drug dosing guidelines are other features of the app.
Individuals use apps for all sorts of self-monitoring, from their workout stats at the gym or track, to their heart rate, caloric intake or insulin levels, to tracking pregnancies or ovulation calendars. An app called Anti Mosquito even claims to act as a tool of prevention, discouraging mosquitoes, carriers of malaria and other diseases, with the use of ultrasonic sound. Reviews are mixed, but this provides an important caveat emptor for anyone looking for medical apps: Be sure to read the comments from users to help you determine whether a particular app will likely work for you.
Vigilant citizen heroes who want to be alerted to emergencies can turn to apps like PulsePoint. Users of this app who are trained in CPR can be notified of nearby emergencies, as well as the location of the closest Automated External Defibrillator (AED), offering heart attack victims another line of defense through this expanding network. Hundreds of communities are using location based services to alert trained citizens, and the volunteers themselves can track emergency vehicles that have been dispatched, incident locations, response statuses, and alternative routes. PulsePoint, too, is still a work in progress. For example, one user suggests adding a “search your area” or “agencies near me” button and more agency listings, one more indication that it’s important for potential subscribers to determine that the features of any app match their needs and expectations.
The expanding availability of medical knowledge and treatment options represents just one way apps are making the world a better place. Individuals, professionals, and volunteers are gaining new insight into the latest diagnostic and technical information on their mobile phones and other devices. Apps broaden the conversation between patients and their doctors, and increase our chances to save lives. User recommendations and reviews expand that conversation even further, offering guidance and advice on the most appropriate apps. Knowledge is power, and apps offer new opportunities for anyone with a mobile device to help themselves and others.
This month Applied Studios celebrated its first year under its new name, Mobile Mind. The change in name and business focus was a leap of faith for our company. After several successful years in Web, print and media design we decided to concentrate our efforts on mobile application development. We have learned through experience that a company must pursue new opportunities and avoid dead-ends in order to not only succeed, but to grow. In the past year Mobile Mind has been successful in accomplishing several goals that have contributed to or are the direct result of our continued growth:
First U.S. National Forest application
We started our first year as Mobile Mind off right with the release of the first mobile application created for the United States Forest Service, specifically the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests. This free app provides users all the information they need to navigate and experience Georgia’s two national forests, including information about the facilities and opportunities available in over four dozen different recreation sites throughout the forests.
Location, location, location
In Fall 2013 we moved our offices to a space inside the historic Sargent Building on the Public Square in our hometown of Dahlonega, Georgia. Our new location provides a wonderful view of the historic square, which is enjoyed by both our staff and visiting clients. Our location on the Square also puts us within short walking distance of the University of North Georgia, which is very convenient for those of our staff that are students at the university.
UNG Community Partnership
Early in 2014 Mobile Mind officially became a community partner with the University of North Georgia whose main campus is located in Dahlonega. Through this relationship our company provides internship and local service learning opportunities for students enrolled in UNG’s mobile application development curriculum. These opportunities provide students with real-world experience in the mobile application industry using the same tools and skills they utilize in their daily coursework.
Real secret to success
Over the past year we have slowly built a team of over half a dozen extremely talented and professional people. This dedicated team is comprised of mobile and web developers, content writers, graphic designers and product testers. It is thanks to the efforts of these hardworking individuals that Mobile Mind has accomplished as much as it has in the past year and will accomplish so much more in the year to come.
And what does Mobile Mind have planned for its second year? We will be updating our currently published apps and releasing new ones, including a couple of gaming apps! We will also be developing Web applications for select clients who have already dedicated time and resources into establishing a presence on the World Wide Web and now want to expand their reach to mobile device users. And why wouldn’t they? Mobile devices and their applications are the next stage in the evolution of computing technology. We at Mobile Mind want to not only be part of this evolution but also to contribute to it. And looking back over the past year I think it’s safe to say we are off to a good start.
~ Mobile Mind Technologies
We love Dahlonega, Lumpkin County and north Georgia and are eager to support our community in any way possible. That includes providing Mobile Mind technologies for local groups and organizations utilizing local talent and resources in their development. The demand for mobile apps continues to grow, not just globally but in our local community. But until recently, finding skilled and educated individuals in the local community to help us build these applications has been extremely difficult. However, that is about to change.
Thanks to Dr. Bryson Payne, Department Head of Computer Science & Information Systems at the University of North Georgia, the university is now offering a Mobile Application Development course beginning with this spring semester. This course was initiated and developed by Dr. Payne who also teaches it. In the course students are learning to develop mobile device applications for both Android and iOS devices, from simple games to advanced camera and sensor applications. In the class they’re learning native Java and Objective-C for the Android and iPhone platforms, along with cross-platform development tools, by building games in both languages. In addition, through service learning projects, the students get the opportunity to apply what they’re learning to solve a problem in the community, or to build their own app for sale in Google Play and the App Store. But this class is only the beginning! Starting with this year’s fall semester in August the university will begin offering a Minor Degree in Mobile Application Development, the first university in north Georgia to offer such a degree! This minor will provide students with both mobile and web application development expertise, for building complex client-and-server applications from a photo sharing app to the next Facebook or Twitter!
Mobile Mind is proud to be a community partner with the University of North Georgia. We look forward to providing internship and local service learning opportunities for students enrolled in UNG’s mobile application development curriculum. These opportunities will provide students with real-world experience in the mobile application industry using the same tools and skills they utilize in their daily coursework. As members of the Mobile Mind team, students will have the opportunity to work with the local community and publish apps on a global scale. And with our convenient office location less than a two minute walk from the university campus, they will never have to worry about being late for a meeting.
We at Mobile Mind would like to thank Dr. Payne and the University of North Georgia for the chance to work with them to expand the potential of their future graduates and to embrace the future in mobile technology. We look forward to a continued and fruitful relationship!
As another year comes to a close many big names in the mobile and technology industries have made their predictions of what tech and trends await us in the coming year. We here at Mobile Mind take many of these with a grain of salt. But for the sake of tradition we have put together a short list of those predictions that we think have a chance of coming true.
Watches, glasses and more flexible mobilewear
Mobile devices other than traditional smartphones are going to make a big appearance in the new year. But with the development of flexible display materials they won’t be limited to just watches and glasses. Depending on the flexibility of the material we might soon see mobile devices that can be folded into a wallet or purse or become part of your clothing.
Living in the Cloud
Distributed data storage will keep growing but so will the public’s wariness. With the fear of government access to data stored in company cloud servers many people will turn to private cloud solutions instead. These solutions will allow users to store and access their data on their own personal computers and home servers.
AJAX and AJAJ
Mobile devices will grow smarter and more aware of their users in the coming year. They will utilize a variety of sensors to determine their current environment and your current situation and adapt their own functionality accordingly. Some mobile devices already respond to hand gestures and facial expressions. The coming year could bring voice analysis and posture recognition to help your device learn how to better serve your needs.
This article was researched using Google’s search engine, written using software developed by Google, and all on a mobile device manufactured by Google. So it’s not too difficult to predict Google’s place in the world for 2014. As this company continues to grow and becomes one of the biggest in the tech industry the question remains can it do so “without doing evil”?
Of course one can only appreciate the accuracy of any New Year’s prediction by reviewing those of the previous year. But however this new year turns out we wish everyone a safe and prosperous one!
~ Mobile Mind Technologies
The U.S. Forest Service has created a flyer advertising the new Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests mobile application developed by Mobile Mind and published by us in July. The 8.5 x 11 inch flyer is free to download in a printable PDF format from the Forest Service website here. The flyer is colorful, informative and can be displayed in a variety of settings. You may soon see them at local businesses. QR codes at the bottom of the flyer allow visitors to scan and download the app for both iOS and Android devices.
A few months ago we posted our opinion on the use, and abuse, of QR codes in today’s society. Although we favor the artistic and creative use of QR codes, good old fashioned black and white squares are actually advantageous when lighting conditions are unknown or could vary. In these conditions you want to give visitors the best chance to successfully scan the displayed QR code on the first try. We think the simple and fun design of the Forest Service flyer accomplishes this nicely!
It took a team with true long-term vision, not one just looking for short-term rewards, to make our latest mobile app a reality. There were a few challenges along the way, a few obstacles to be overcome, but thanks to the perseverance of our talented group of designers and developers we have finally released the official mobile application of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests!
With our latest app users have all the information they need to navigate and experience Georgia’s two national forests. This app is absolutely free and initially includes information about the facilities and opportunities available in 49 different recreation sites in both the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests. These recreational opportunities include hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing, swimming, boating, off-roading, horseback riding, mountain biking, and sightseeing. The sites are presented in both a map and list view and can be filtered by the recreational activities selected by the user. The app also displays the latest news, events and alerts related to the national forests and to specific recreation sites so visitors are always kept informed, safe and secure.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank those folks at the U.S. Forest Service who had the foresight, insight and patience to initiate this project and see it through to the end. It was their encouragement that helped us get through the tough times and their praise that made it all worthwhile when the job was done. Together we plan to add more recreation sites and more features to the app to make it even easier to use, more fun to use and all the more valuable of a tool for visitors to the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests!
Spring is a time for change and what a perfect time to announce a big change in our company. After months of preparation we are pleased to announce that Applied Studios is now Mobile Mind! We have taken the skills and knowledge that we have acquired over our years of web development, print design and marketing consultation and are repurposing them to focus exclusively on the creation of fun and functional mobile device applications!
We want to thank our web, print and marketing customers over the years for their business. Their patronage helped build a company that could pursue new and exciting possibilities despite a downward economy and the myriad struggles that face small businesses today. We also want to thank our associates both past and present for giving us the opportunity to transition ourselves into a premier mobile app development firm.
Be sure to check back here often for the latest news concerning current and upcoming projects and applications. We will also be posting interesting tidbits about our industry and the technology involved to feed your mobile mind.