Revealed: Apple iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3, iMac 5K

After September’s unveiling of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, yesterday’s Apple announcement might strike some as an afterthought. But with a bit of new hardware and some promised software updates, the company brought one of its buzzwords to fruition.

Apple introduced the iMac with 5K Retina Display, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3



Getting iOS and Mac OS X to talk to each other has been a goal ever since the introduction of iCloud. With iOS 8 (and the 8.1 update, available Monday), Apple enabled the concept they called Continuity on the mobile side; now, OS X Yosemite brings it to the desktop.
The idea behind Continuity is that not just files are available between devices, but your workspace itself. Get up from editing a document on your iMac and the same document is made readily available on your iPad – a technology called Handoff. Phone calls and cellular Wi-Fi hotspots can be initiated on an iPhone right from a MacBook.
Yosemite also includes a host of other new features, like a refreshed Safari web browser, signing PDFs with laptop trackpads, screen sharing, and iOS 8 screen recording.

iPad Air 2 is faster, thinner, touchier

Last year’s iPhone 5s introduced Touch ID, a fingerprint sensor on the home button that could be used to unlock the device. Both new iPads shown off yesterday now include the same sensor.
The iPad Air 2 is even thinner than the first iPad Air, and – as Apple was eager to point out – less than half as thick as the original iPad, making it the thinnest tablet on the market. Its 9.7” screen and 2048x1536 resolution are the same as before, but the laminated screen and antireflective coating should make it clearer. It does have a faster A8X processor and more advanced rear camera.
An iPad mini 3 was also announced, with only Touch ID (and a $100 price difference) to distinguish it from the iPad mini 2.

iMac is crisper, Mac mini is stronger

Other than a spec bump, the newest Mac mini didn’t change much from the previous generation. If the $499 base model isn’t enough, there are options for more memory and a 1TB solid-state flash storage device – which Apple is calling the Fusion Drive, despite its (presumed?) inability to generate energy from deuterium.
The latest iMac, on the other hand, trades on its Retina 5K display. The 27-inch screen has a resolution of 5120x2880, and along with a 3.5GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and that 1TB Fusion Drive, it makes for an expensive $2,499 base model. There’s still a model with a paltry 21.5” 1080p display for $1099 for all you cheapskates, though.
Are you exited about the latest Apple gear? Let us know in the comments!

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Google Reveals Nexus 6, 9, and Player (Plus Android 5.0 Lollipop)

While specs had been rumored for months, pricing for the new smartphone from Google came as a bit of a surprise yesterday. The complete hardware lineup gets a fresh new name and candy mascot: Lollipop.

Nexus 6, 9, and Player (plus Lollipop)


Nexus 6

Nexus 6: Flagship Android Phone (and you’ll pay for it)

It’s not mentioned in Google’s blog post, but the Nexus 6 starts at $649 unlocked according to Motorola, the phone’s actual manufacturer. That’s way higher than previous Nexus phones, but that’s more because the Nexus 4 and 5 were abnormally cheap.
In essence, the pricing for the Nexus 6 actually brings the Nexus brand in line with similar Android phones. Spec for spec, you’d pay about the same for a different brand:
·      Snapdragon 805 quad-core 2.7GHz CPU
·      Adreno 420 GPU
·      5.96” 2560x1440 display
·      32GB storage (or 64GB for $50 more)
·      13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization
The charger supplies up to six hours of life to the 3220mAh battery in only 15 minutes, which is merciful given the large, pixel-dense screen and speedy processor. Pre-orders start “late October”.

Nexus 9Nexus 9: Pricey but solid

The HTC-made Nexus 9 tablet takes its pricing cues from the Nexus 10 rather than the smaller Nexus 7 – but again has the specs to back it up. Pre-orders begin tomorrow with shipments expected November 3.
·      64-bit Tegra K1 2.3GHz CPU
·      192-core Kepler GPU
·      8.9” 2048x1536 display
·      16GB ($399) or 32GB ($479)
Most surprising is the trusty old 4x3 aspect ratio of the screen rather than the 16:10 of the Nexus 7 and 10 or 16:9 high definition of the Nexus 5 and 6.

Nexus PlayerNexus Player: Another settop box?

At $99, Nexus Player doesn’t blow Roku, Fire TV, or even Apple TV out of the water. It offers many of the same features: streaming video from Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and many other apps; voice search built into the remote; an optional gamepad.
Where Nexus Player sets itself apart is its integration with other Android devices. There’s Google Cast support for sharing a phone, tablet, or browser screen on a larger television, but content also syncs between devices on the same account. It also doesn’t shirk on its internals, with a 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom CPU.

Android 5.0 LollipopAndroid 5.0 Lollipop: Free & sweet

As is customary, the new Nexus devices will have a new operating system. Android 5.0 Lollipop brings material design, battery saver, app content searching, and multiple user accounts to the table. Older Nexus hardware will get the upgrade in the coming weeks.

What’s Apple Got?

While the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are already out, Apple is expected to announce other hardware this afternoon. Follow our Twitter feed for live updates and check back here tomorrow for the roundup!

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Business Strategy: How to Implement Mobile Apps [VIDEO]

Our own Account Executive Courtney LeClaire led a workshop session on mobile development at the Small Business Expo in Boston last Thursday.

Courtney LeClaire speaks about how to implement mobile apps as part of a business strategy.

The lively audience of dozens of entrepreneurs and business leaders asked plenty of questions. Courtney offered examples of apps developed both by Zco and by other companies that helped businesses connect with customers or streamline their own operations.

“Mainly, consumer apps are used to engage the client more,” Courtney said. Typical goals of consumer apps include increasing brand awareness and inspiring customer loyalty through rewards programs.

Enterprise apps, on the other hand, are distributed by a company or organization to its internal users. Like any other tool, an enterprise mobile app can increase efficiency or make it easier to collaborate.

“Not limited to sales teams, of course,” Courtney said. “It could be engineering, it could be management. Really, anybody can use it.”

As highlighted in our infographic about using mobile apps with company information, 98 percent of employees say that mobile access to enterprise data would increase productivity.

The App Development Process

Courtney went through the typical process of getting an app to market: discovery, scope alignment, development, and deployment.

“Sometimes people come to us with a whole written specification that might be 20, 50 pages,” she said.

Zco also attended and presented at Small Business Expo events in New York City and Miami earlier this year. We’ve learned quite a bit about how business owners view the mobile landscape. Many recognize the importance of catering to mobile users, but aren’t exactly sure how to go about it or lack the resources to develop apps on their own.

Others are understandably anxious about earning back a return on the investment made in developing a mobile app – something else an experienced development company can help with.

Watch highlights from the presentation below!

Please feel free to email us or call 603.881.9200 with any custom development questions!

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Design, Develop, Market: Boston App Expo 2014

On September 24 and 25 I had the pleasure of attending the Boston App Expo 2014. I was able to attend a variety of presentations regarding UI design, app marketing, and wearable technology. There was a lot to be learned about topics from development to deployment.


It’s all about usability

Every app needs to be intuitive for the user to pick up, said the Microsoft professionals in a Gaming UI talk. This includes a simple design, recognizable icons, and adequate in-app training. Along with being efficient and easy to use, the app should also have something whimsical about it. That might involve incorporating animations, adding fun jingles, or including surprises – the users want to have some fun.


Marketing matters

Once the app is developed it is time to move on to the marketing. Apps are not “set it and forget it” tools, but need to be marketed and in front of the right target audience. Hunter Gaylor, pictured below, vividly described marketing and selling apps through relationship building. It is also important to research your target audience, their emotional triggers, and how they use apps.
With your target audience in mind, you can now think about the app’s description, taglines, keywords, and consumer marketing. Today 63% of apps are found via search, which emphasizes why app store optimization is crucial: specific words and phrases can be the difference between an app getting found and getting buried. Social media outlets, paid advertisements and focus groups can also be invaluable in getting the word out.


Analyze this

After you develop, research, and market you now need to analyze. Did the app reach its target market? Were users engaged? This cycle repeats with each new update to the app. Detailed analytics code can be built into any app to provide crucial performance statistics.
Overall, the Boston App Expo was full of thought leaders, creators, developers, and marketers all on a single mission: figure out the secret sauce to getting an app number one. Mobile applications are businesses that reside in people’s phones, with all the challenges and opportunities that any business presents. 

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Amazon Updates Fire Tablets & Kindles

Well, well. With little fanfare, Amazon announced three new tablets and two new e-readers Wednesday.

The new hardware includes two devices under $100, two high-end offerings, and a tablet for kids with a two-year replacement guarantee.

Fire Tablets: Faster & Cheaper

Fire HD 6 and 7Though it’s far from the most powerful tablet available, the Fire HD 6 tablet is newsworthy for its price point: $99. It can be so cheap because it includes only 8GB storage and low-quality front and rear cameras. It also shows sponsored screensavers on its lock screen. Doubling the storage adds $20 and removing the promos adds $15.
In addition, its small 6-inch screen doesn’t compete with Apple’s Retina displays – its resolution is a modest 1280x800. Nevertheless, it does pack a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and five color choices. The slightly larger Fire HD 7 is $40 more.
Fire HD Kids EditionThe Fire HD Kids Edition is pretty similar, though exact tech specs aren’t disclosed. The included “Kid-Proof” case helps protect against the way children treat all toys (roughly). The two-year “worry-free guarantee” promises replacement in case of accidental breakage as well as electrical and mechanical breakdowns.
It also comes with a year of Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited, granting access to 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games. Individual profiles for different children give parents granular control over kids’ screen time and age-appropriate content. It comes in three colors and two screen sizes: 6 inches for $149 and 7 inches for $189.
Fire HDX 8.9The flagship Fire HDX 8.9 tablet starts at $379 for 16GB storage with special offers. Its quad-core processor hits 2.5GHz, and graphics performance is improved over previous versions with 2GB RAM and an Adreno 420 GPU. The display packs in the pixels at 2560x1600, and both front and rear cameras suport HD video.
Unlike the cheaper models, the Fire HDX 8.9 includes Amazon’s Mayday support and Firefly shopping features. None of them have the Dynamic Perspective introduced on the Fire Phone.

Kindle E-Readers: Brighter & Touchier

Kindle and Kindle VoyageThe newest baseline Kindle now has a 6-inch touchscreen and integration with Goodreads for tracking and sharing books read. It’s $79 with special offers or $99 without.
The Kindle Voyage improves on the Kindle Paperwhite’s 6-inch display with an adaptive front light and more pixels per inch. It starts at $199 with special offers.
Amazon’s new Kindles and Fires ship in October, among a busy fall for mobile devices. Apple is expected to show off new iPads early in October; Google typically drops new Nexus phone & tablet hardware near the end of the month; and new phones were announced earlier in September by Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and Nokia. Stay tuned for the latest info!

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