October 21, 2014
zdnet.com - Apple Pay launched yesterday with the iOS 8.1 release. I updated my Apple iPhone 6 Plus, grabbed the new Moto X loaded with Google Wallet, and headed out to test these two virtual wallets at a local McDonald's restaurant.
I have been using Google Wallet on Nexus devices since late 2011, but this service has been held back by wireless carrier restrictions and a lack of promotion from Google. Thus, I have been looking forward to Apple's new Apple Pay system with hopes that its advertising and reality distortion field would get companies signed up so at least one of these systems could see success.
The new Apple Pay service has broad support with the potential to finally bring some attention to the capability that Android users have had for a couple of years while increasing usage among consumers.
Apple Pay experiences
Apple Pay setup: There is no Apple Pay application on your iPhone after you perform the update. It is integrated into Passbook and with Apple Pay integration I just might finally start using this application for more than Starbucks and AMC movies.
After launching Passbook, you can choose to add a credit or debit card to your iPhone. There are four fields to fill out on the card details page and Apple fills out your name automatically. If you have a credit card tied to your iTunes purchases then that should also appear automatically as a default payment card.
You can enter the card details manually or simply take a photo of your card. My card number and expiration date fields were then populated by the camera snapshot. The security code was required to be manually entered.
My Costco American Express was accepted in seconds and is my new default payment option. Unfortunately, my debit card from USAA bank was rejected since my bank is currently not yet set up to support Apple Pay. The following are eligible in the US:
Bank of America
Capital One Bank
Chase (Visa only)
Merrill Lynch (credit only)
I understand that some banks have special authorization and verification steps such as text message PINs, dedicated application installs, and more. The Apple Pay system is new and there are still some things to work out.
Making a purchase with Apple Pay: After getting at least one funding source set up, purchases are quite easy. There is no NFC radio toggle to switch so NFC is always turned on. It may be off in airplane mode, but I have yet to try that out. Simply have the cashier ring up your purchase and then tap on or near the payment terminal.
You will see a prompt to activate your Touch ID if you haven't already placed your programmed finger on the Touch ID button. After that, the display will show that your transaction was successful and your receipt should then print out. You do not have to turn on your display or enter any kind of PIN; simply press the Touch ID button and place your iPhone close to the pay terminal.
I was successful with one of three attempts at McDonald's. I even tried using Apple Pay without a case and with a Griffin Survivor rugged case to see if a case impacted the ability to make a successful purchase. Honestly, I don't know why only one purchase worked since I had the iPhone Touch ID activated and it was touching the pay terminal sensor.
Update: I just heard from a representative from McDonald's corporate office and they stated that McDonald's has software set up in the register to block a second transaction and/or third without a manager password. This is designed to stop an employee from swiping a credit card more than necessary to complete a transaction. Thus, when it failed the first time I should have had the manager clear the transaction to start over. The failure may have been my fault as I tried taking screenshots while making the purchase. In any case, it does work and I will continue to use Apple Pay where I can.
Google Wallet experiences
Google Wallet setup: Google Wallet setup is basically the same as Apple Pay with the ability to scan or capture a photo of your card. I have my debit card, American Express card, and bank account set up with Google Wallet.
Making a purchase with Google Wallet: There are hundreds of thousands of locations that accept Google Wallet payments. The McDonald's I went to had a pay terminal with no special logos or anything on it and it worked for both Google Wallet and Apple Pay.
First, make sure that your NFC radio is enabled on your Android device. You then have to unlock your device, if you have it secured, and tap it on the payment terminal. Google Wallet worked every single time without any hesitation at all, which matches all of my experiences over the last year when carriers stopped restricting things for the most part.
The transaction was quick and easy with a summary receipt appearing on the Android device after the purchase was made.
Google Wallet and Apple Pay also both support loyalty cards and gift cards with Google Wallet also tracking your online purchases.
Why are these virtual wallets better than a credit card?
A reader below asked a great question; Why use these instead of a credit card? Here are some of my thoughts on why I plan to use these methods and you should consider them too:
These payment systems are a bit quicker and easier than handing over a card, having it swiped, and then having to print and sign a receipt.
These virtual systems are more secure than credit cards. A virtual card number is used for these transactions, the vendor never gets access directly to your card or bank, there is no way for someone to copy down your card information to use later, and people seem to know if their phone is lost faster than if they misplace a card.
Also, no one else can use your phone to make payments. It is either secured with a PIN or fingerprint. With a card, someone can easily use it for online purchases and since few merchants even check the signature thieves can also use a card in stores.
Apple Pay, Apple, Google Wallet, Google, iPhone, Moto X, Mobile Technology, MobiWork, Mobile Workforce, Mobile Workforce Solution, Smartphone GPS Tracking, Field Sales, Field Marketing, Field Service, Logistics, Mobile Workforce Management, Field Service Management
October 17, 2014
nytimes.com - In 2011 Samsung unveiled a smartphone so big it looked as if it must have been a joke, a mistake or a turn toward conceptual art.
With a screen measuring 5.3 inches diagonally, the device, the Galaxy Note, was met with instant and slightly unhinged criticism.
A writer for the Boy Genius Report, an industry blog, called the Note "the most useless phone I've ever used," adding, "You will look stupid talking on it, people will laugh at you, and you'll be unhappy if you buy it."
The critics were wrong.
Samsung went on to sell millions of the huge Note; and its successors, the even larger Note 2 and Note 3, became some of the best-selling smartphones of the last few years. The Note also spawned dozens of copycats, making for an entire new category: phablets, or smartphones almost big enough to be considered tablets.
Today, just about every smartphone manufacturer - including, at long last, Apple - makes a phone as big as the Note, and plus-size phones are threatening to overrun both the smartphone and tablet business.
So the Note has become a watershed device; along with the original iPhone and iPad, Samsung's phone is one of the most important and influential digital inventions of the last decade.
The Galaxy Note 4, which goes on sale this week, is superior to just about every other phablet on the market. Its only real competition is Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, which has a more intuitive interface. But the Note 4 has at least a half-dozen clever features that should prompt even the most die-hard Apple fan to begin salivating.
Among them: The Note 4 has a sharper, larger display; the ability to charge its battery to half-full in just 30 minutes; and a series of on-screen features that make it easier to use in one hand.
Also, like previous versions, the Note 4 has a stylus, which Apple fans have long argued was proof of its inferiority. They're wrong; despite Steve Jobs's objections, the stylus is a handy tool for manipulating such a big phone, and after using the Note, I often found myself missing it when I went back to the iPhone.
With the Note, Samsung is aiming for something transformative, a device that is more than just a big phone: The Note 4 feels like an ambitious effort to reach for the future of computing, in which our phones are more useful and powerful than PCs, and in which we barely bother with any other kinds of computers.
Granted, the Note 4 is far from perfect; in true Samsung fashion, a lot of gimmickry can be found in it, and several features seem half-baked. The heart-rate monitor is pointless, and the fingerprint scanner isn't nearly as good as Apple's. But if you can overlook the rough edges, you're left with a truly useful machine.
Any assessment of the Note 4 must begin with its stunning display.
Even though the Note 4 is just about the same size, over all, as the iPhone 6 Plus - it's about 5 millimeters shorter than Apple's device, but a millimeter wider and thicker - Samsung has packed a slightly larger display into the Note than Apple does into its giant phone. Even though the screen is only about 6 percent larger than the iPhone's, it's a noticeable pleasure, like an extra inch of legroom in coach.
Samsung, Note 4, Smartphone, Future, Mobile Technology, MobiWork, Mobile Workforce, Mobile Workforce Solution, Smartphone GPS Tracking, Field Sales, Field Marketing, Field Service, Logistics, Mobile Workforce Management, Field Service Management
October 8, 2014
nytimes.com - For years, the tech industry has been waiting on a unicorn device: a great, low-priced smartphone.
While most other technologies keep getting cheaper, many of today's high-end smartphones cost upward of $650, which is more than the price Apple slapped on its very first iPhone, way back in 2007.
That price is usually hidden inside a carrier plan; you generally pay only $200 or so when you sign up for the phone, and then pay the rest over the course of your contract. Still, the full price is nothing to sneeze at. If you keep your new iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5 for two years, you are looking at a minimum of $27 a month just for the device. Top-tier smartphones cost more than most laptops and desktops, more than a lot of TVs and home appliances, and more than the fanciest dinner for two in New York (probably).
Isn't it time high-end smartphones were cheaper? Are they worth all that much money? Is there any way around the sticker price?
Well, a unicorn just galloped onto the horizon. This month, OnePlus, a start-up based in Shenzhen, China, will begin taking pre-orders for the One, a fantastic low-price phone that tech enthusiasts across the globe have been lusting after for months. (Until the pre-order system goes live, the only way to get a One is by snagging a coveted invitation.)
I've been using the One for the last couple of weeks, and I've found it to be one of the best smartphones I've ever used. The One has a beautifully spare design, it's loaded with the latest tech specs, and it runs CyanogenMod, a version of Google's Android operating system that is far more flexible and easier to use than the cumbersome flavors of Android now stuffed into rival phones.
Best of all, the One sells for $299. That's not $299 with a carrier plan or some other commitment. That's $299 total, or less than half the price of a top-tier phone from Apple, Samsung or HTC. After you pay that price, you own the phone. If you take it to a carrier like T-Mobile, which offers a discount on your cellular plan if you bring your own phone, you can end up saving a substantial bit of cash in the long run.
And yet, the One is not going to work for most people - yet. That's because it comes with many caveats and warnings. Among them: You will have a devilishly difficult time getting customer service for your phone, including getting it repaired if something goes wrong.
Still, the company may be on to something. If OnePlus can navigate the perils of the cutthroat smartphone business, it may be giving us a peek of the glorious future of great, cheap phones.
OnePlus was founded late in 2013 by Pete Lau, a veteran of the Chinese tech business who was taken with the idea of creating a high-end smartphone for the masses. His vision was not unique; as the price of the components in smartphones plummeted over the last few years, a rash of Chinese start-ups emerged to make high-quality, low-price phones.
These devices are radically shifting the mobile industry in China and other parts of the developing world. This summer, Xiaomi, another start-up that sells its low-price phones in China, surpassed Samsung as that country's top smartphone vendor, according to the research company Canalys. Samsung's profits are being battered by the intense competition from low-priced rivals.
But OnePlus is unusual among Chinese phone makers in that it believes its market extends far beyond its home country. Early on, Mr. Lau divided the company into two semiautonomous units, one catering to Chinese consumers and the other devoted to the international market.
Carl Pei, who directs the global division, said that of OnePlus's global staff, a third of the employees are from Asia, a third from Europe and a third from the United States. "We don't really think of ourselves as a Chinese start-up," he said.
After winning a few glowing reviews this year in the American and European tech press, the One became a sensation among techies far beyond China. "Very soon our sales outside of China will surpass sales in China," Mr. Pei said during a recent interview.
While he would not provide exact sales numbers, Mr. Pei said the One was selling in the "mid-to-high four figures a day in the U.S.," which he said constituted 30 percent of the company's market. That would imply sales of 150,000 to 300,000 phones a month in the United States, and up to a million devices a month over all - a rounding error in the global smartphone business, but an admirable feat for a tiny, year-old start-up.
It's not surprising that people are clamoring for the One. It is just about the fastest Android phone you can buy, and its 5.5-inch screen is stunning. My only complaint with the device has to do with the camera, whose pictures cannot match the sharpness and color accuracy of some of its rivals.
Otherwise, the One is better than most other Android phones on the market, including Samsung's Galaxy S5 and HTC's flagship phone, which is also called the One. (Yes, there are now two Ones.) I give the OnePlus One the edge primarily for its user interface, which is cleanly minimal, uncluttered with all the pointless gimmicks and unnecessary apps found in many rival Android devices. In that way, the One is similar to Google's Nexus 5, another high-quality, low-price phone - but over all, the One is more powerful, and far prettier, than the Nexus.
The problem with the One, though, is that OnePlus's future is far from assured - and that future matters to the longevity of your phone. "To be perfectly honest, we're not sure about our business model," Mr. Pei said, noting that at the moment, the company does not make much of a profit on each phone it sells.
He added that in the future, the company might begin to make money by teaming up with software companies that would preinstall apps on the phone, or by expanding the range of accessories for its device.
Even in the absence of a business model, the company is planning rapid expansion. It is hiring customer service experts to better handle problems, and it plans to hire local teams in some of its markets to provide faster service. It's possible that by selling a great phone at a great price, OnePlus could stumble into profits, and become the next big global smartphone brand.
But betting on OnePlus's survival is a $300 gamble. Jan Dawson, an independent analyst, points out that by comparison, the established smartphone market does not ask customers to make such a leap. The major carriers now offer zero-down, interest-free financing plans for high-end phones, meaning that customers can get a $650 phone for $30 monthly installments.
"Even though the iPhone may be significantly more expensive, today you're going to be paying only a tenth of what you'd pay to get the OnePlus phone upfront," Mr. Dawson said. If your iPhone breaks, you can always go back to the store to get it fixed. And if you want to get rid of it, there will always be a large, willing market to take it off your hands. Isn't that certainty worth the extra coin?
For many users, that will be true; the $650 smartphone isn't going away tomorrow. But the One ought to give established players pause. Great, cheap phones aren't just for China. Soon they'll be everywhere, and eventually, one could be right for you.
OnePlus, Budget, Economical, Mobile Technology, MobiWork, Mobile Workforce, Mobile Workforce Solution, Smartphone GPS Tracking, Field Sales, Field Marketing, Field Service, Logistics, Mobile Workforce Management, Field Service Management