Simplify Your Life with the Best NFC Apps Available

NFC or Near Field Communication is integrated into an increasing number of smartphones. Google Wallet is the first app that crosses our minds when we talk about NFC. However, NFC technology is not just limited to payment alone; it can be utilized for health care checkup and patient monitoring, parking systems, transportation, even creative interactive NFC apps.  For example, NFC technology is enabled at The Museum of London, which provides its visitors access to vouchers from the museum's shop and cafes and more information about various museum exhibits.

Various mobile phones support NFC technology, including Android models from Samsung, HTC, LG, and others. Here is a list of some of the best NFC apps developed:

  • Trigger App - NFC Payment AppTrigger (formerly NFC Task Launcher): This Android app is designed to do various tasks based on your surroundings. It’s distributed by an NFC tag seller, but can also perform tasks based on Bluetooth or WiFi networks. Actions include changing mobile data, volume, display brightness, and notification light settings; automatically checking in on Foursquare and Google Places; and sending messages via Twitter, SMS, or email. A Pro upgrade expands the triggers to include battery level, location, and time.
  • Samsung Tectiles App - Developing NFC App for AndroidSamsung TecTiles: There are multiple benefits of this Android app, which lets the user perform various tasks like change settings on the phone, launch apps, check in to places, update social status, make phone calls, and send text messages. To utilize the app the user needs to buy Samsung TecTile NFC Programmable Tags. The programmable NFC tags can be placed on the user’s business card, posters, check-in locations, etc. Although the app and TecTiles might work on non-Samsung devices with NFC, Samsung only guarantees functionality with a list of its own phones and tablets.
  • NFC Retag Free - NFC App Development ServiceNFC ReTAG FREE: As the name suggests, this Android app lets users repurpose write-protected NFC tags like hotel key-cards, price tags, access badges, key fobs, etc.  With the app the user need not write anything on the tag, and no data is sent to the Internet. Multiple activities and cycles can be combined per tag. The app can change device settings, toggle wireless networks on and off, launch apps and URLs, make calls, and set alarms.

If you would like to develop NFC apps, speak to one of our experts by calling (603) 881-9200 or emailing us.


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New Hampshire Business Owners Learn How to Leverage iPad

For the past couple months, Zco has been traveling around New Hampshire speaking to local business owners about the benefits of using iPads to increase productivity and sales. On September 17, it was a seminar organized by Small Dog Electronics, an Apple reseller headquartered in Vermont. Just last week, we were invited to the Apple Store in our own hometown of Nashua for a similar education event.iPad in nh Business

In both cases, a representative of Apple provided insights straight from the company itself. For instance, IT managers worried about the security of iPads need to address user habits first: about 50 percent of smartphone users don’t take advantage of the built-in passcode feature on the device lock screen, allowing anyone with physical access to use it.

Leveraging iOS Security

The good news is that iPads used for work can be managed centrally to enforce a passcode requirement, as well as other security measures like encryption and network access. In fact, even personal iPads can be managed under a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model.

Despite the iPad’s (and iPhone’s) origins as a consumer device, there’s a whole infrastructure in place dedicated to making it work in a corporate environment, in concert with Windows servers. Apple even provides an iPad in Business mini-site specifically for MDM (Mobile Device Management), BYOD, user app management, and other IT concerns.

Small Business Benefits in iOS 7

 

There’s also the fact that new iOS 7 devices activated after September 1, 2013, can download productivity apps Keynote, Pages, Numbers, iPhoto, and iMovie, previously $40 total, for free. With worry about creating and editing documents, presentations, spreadsheets, images, and videos gone, the iPad becomes a convenient and cost-effective business device.

Create Custom Apps for your Small Business

Custom Apps for Custom Businesses

We teamed up with Apple because our custom development expertise perfectly complements the iPad’s solid hardware and operating system foundation. Creating custom apps for corporate clients is our specialty.

Apps for businesses can take a couple different forms: customer-facing apps with a focus on marketing and internal apps that employees use to help do their jobs.

Branded Apps and Games

Customer-facing apps, often known as branded apps and games, enhance the relationship between companies and their customers. They might feature a complete e-commerce experience, extra functionality to use in brick and mortar stores, or even be a fun diversion with the company’s branding. Many offer rewards for using the app that can be redeemed in-store or online, a concept known as gamification.

Internal, Workflow, and Enterprise Apps

Internally, businesses can benefit from enterprise apps. Many businesses already use customized software to track workflow and organize sales campaigns; taking those functions mobile frees up the workforce to go where it’s needed.

Commercially available apps certainly have their place in the enterprise, but for sensitive and unique business functions, custom apps can be aligned perfectly with business objectives. Gamification in the form of sales contests or rewards for completing tasks can be built right into the app.

With consumers and employees alike taking mobile devices everywhere, it’s up to businesses to help everyone use them effectively in their daily interactions. Custom mobile apps can be developed to do exactly what each particular business wants.

To learn more about using the iPad in your business, give Zco a call at 603.881.9200 or email us!


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New iPads and Free Creativity Apps from Apple Announced

Apple introduced a whole passel of new hardware today, as well as updates to much of its most popular software. At the announcement event, CEO Tim Cook and crew unveiled two new iPads and four new laptops in addition to detailing features of other products that are now available.

New iPads Get Thinner & Faster

iPad Air

 

 

Since its first generation was released 3.5 years ago, Cook said, 170 million iPads have been sold. He also claimed that among all tablets, the iPad accounts for 81 percent of all actual use. On the iTunes App Store, 475,000 apps are specifically formatted for the iPad.

Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller took care of the details behind each new model.

First came the iPad Air with the same 9.7” Retina display as the iPad 4, but with a narrower bezel. It’s also 20 percent thinner, at 7.5mm, and lighter, at exactly one pound. The 5-megapixel camera captures 1080p video, and battery life for the device was pegged at 10 hours. It starts at $499 for 16GB of storage and Wi-Fi connectivity. Adding LTE mobile broadband bumps up that price to $629.

The new iPad mini, shipping in November, is simply called the iPad mini with Retina display. The 2048 x 1536 resolution screen was the most-requested feature for the mini, said Schiller. Like the iPad Air, the new mini is built around the 64-bit A7 chip and M7 motion co-processor. The 16GB Wi-Fi version costs $399.

Both new iPads come in dual-tone silver & white and space gray & black color schemes.

Apps Get Updates for Free

While new features were discussed, the biggest news about iLife and iWork was the price for each suite: free. Buyers of new iOS or Mac OS hardware can download the latest versions for free, getting iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers at no cost.

Also free? The latest version of Mac OS X itself, Mavericks. To qualify for the free upgrade, Mac owners must be running version 10.6 Snow Leopard or later and hardware from at least 2007.

New Macs Too

The line of laptops got a spec bump and price drop. The new 11-inch MacBook Air starts at $999, and the 13-inch starts at $1,099. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at $1,299, while the 15-inch starts at $1,999.Mac Pro is a Monster

Although it comes in a small package, the previously-announced Mac Pro is a monster of a desktop workstation, with up to 1TB flash storage and 64GB RAM. The base configuration starts at $2,999 and will be available by the end of the year.

What do you think of the new hardware and software? Let us know in the comments!


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Hybrid Apps Offer Best of Both Worlds

Deciding on type of mobile app can be tough – for both developers and entrepreneurs. Even with native and web apps reigning at the moment, there’s a definite shift towards hybrid development.

Developing Hybrid AppsHybrid apps accelerate cross-platform development by using native code specific to different operating systems only for a container app. The actual functionality is carried out in universal code like HTML5. According to a Gartner prediction, more than 50% of mobile apps deployed will be hybrid by 2016.

There are several advantages to using a hybrid approach rather than native or web development.

Development and Maintenance Cost: One of the biggest advantages of developing hybrid apps is the cost factor. When compared to native apps, the development and maintenance cost of hybrid applications is lower. Hybrid apps developed using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript typically need fewer app updates in comparison to native apps, which require considerable updates when new operating system versions are released.

Offline Functionality: Yet another advantage of using hybrid apps is their power to work offline. Native and hybrid applications have a clear advantage of functioning even without Internet access, whereas mobile web apps fail to provide its users this feature. Hybrid apps, even those accessing online content, can cache data locally for use without a constant connection.

API (Application Programming Interface): When compared to mobile web apps that have limited access, hybrid applications utilize the full capacity of the device API. Hardware access lets a hybrid app leverage functionalities like camera, GPS, widgets, and more.

Speed: For just about every function except intense graphics, hybrid apps can perform just as quickly as native apps. Web apps rely on not only slower code, but communication back and forth over a network.

App Store Availability: When users go looking for a smartphone app, they usually head for their vendor’s app store. Web apps don’t benefit from the same curated exposure.

With the ability to combine the capacities of both native and web app development, hybrid applications are one of the best solutions available for enhancing business. To discuss mobile development with a Zco expert, call 603.881.9200 or email us.


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Get Stuck on Stickybear’s New iPhone App - Stickybear ABC

Stickybear, an Education Icon, Goes Mobile

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, South Carolina, October 12, 2010 – Stickybear educational programs have been used by tens of thousands of teachers and parents and enjoyed by millions of students for more than thirty years. Stickybear, an education icon, has helped children learn reading, language arts, math and science. Today, Optimum Resource announces the release of its new App for the iPhone, "Stickybear ABC."

This continually updated, award-winning program has been teaching children their letters, in English and Spanish, for more than twenty years. It is designed to provide children, ages three and up, with basic alphabet skills that will last a lifetime.

Stickybear Abc AppChildren can simply start playing Stickybear ABC immediately by pressing PLAY from the Main Menu. They are in the free play mode and will see a keyboard with the letters A through Z displayed in both upper and lower case. Children then press any letter and a letter and word panel appears, followed by an animation.

We present more than one word for most letters and youngsters enjoy pressing the letters to find their favorites. This helps them to learn the letters by the discovery method.

Additional tiles at the bottom of the keyboard screen let users switch easily between English and Spanish, which provides letter practice for children learning either language. They may also return to the Main Menu, switch to the structured mode or repeat the last letter.

The Star key toggles between the free play and structured modes of play. In the structured mode, Stickybear appears at the bottom of the screen and asks the child to press a particular letter. Children learn by prompted direction in this activity. Pressing the requested letter produces an animation. The program is self correcting, if an incorrect letter is pressed, Stickybear highlights the correct letter and moves along to the next choice.

The megaphone key is the repeat key in both modes. In free play, children love to repeat favorites and we have seen them press camel, motorcycle and giraffe again and again. In the structured mode, the Megaphone key serves to repeat Stickybear asking for a letter. This is useful if the child has been distracted or just missed the letter called for.

All children move at their own pace and should be encouraged to play Stickybear ABC in any way that pleases them. Over the years this program, and its methodology, have proven immensely successful in capturing the interest of young learners for substantial periods of time and in helping to build early code breaking and recognition of the letters of the alphabet. Many schools have also used Stickybear ABC and its self-paced flow for remediation and in ESL classes where the ability to switch fluidly between languages is very useful. Click for more information about our iPhone apps. High res screen shots are available. Please visit our Stickybear web site.

Here are a few of the awards won by the computer versions of Stickybear ABC: Parents’ Choice Award: Gold Seal, Parents’ Choice Magazine Software’s Greatest Hits, Booklist, American Library Association Excellence in Software Award for Best Early Education Program, Software Publishers Association Media & Methods Awards, Media & Methods Magazine Evanston Educators’ Award for Excellence, Evanston Educators’ Newsletter Best Software: Education, Readers’ Choice, A+ Magazine

Optimum Resource was founded in 1980 by author, illustrator Richard Hefter, who created the Stickybear character. For more than thirty years, the company has produced award-winning educational computer programs, many of which have become industry classics. This program is the newest in a series being developed for the mobile environment and is available to all at $0.99 cents per install.

If you are unable to utilize the links above, you may paste these in to your browser to visit the sites. For the iTunes Stickybear ABC page, use: iTunes. For our Stickybear iPhone page use: http://web.me.com/richefter/iPhone_Apps. For our Optimum Resource Web Site use: www.stickybear.com.


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