Monthly Archives: June 2014

How iOS 8 Might Just Change Everything—From Health to Home

As the legions of Apple fanatics waited with bated breath, CEO Tim Cook announced at June’s WWDC that iOS 8, the new operating system for iPhones and iPads, will be released this fall.

At first glance, the update doesn’t seem as radical as 2013’s iOS 7, which ushered in a major design shift. Yet when you look a little closer, you’ll find it packed with new features that could forever change the way we interact with our devices—and how developers craft experiences for us.

The overarching theme of iOS 8 is convergence—bringing everything together into an integrated, neat, easy-to-use whole. Nowhere is this clearer than in Apple’s two new toolkits for developers centered around health and home.

HealthKit: Bringing a Complete Medical Profile to Your Pocket 

In one of the more eye-catching announcements, Apple revealed its attractive new Health app. Imagine tracking the miles you ran, calories you burned, food you ate, heart rate you reached, and sleep you got all in one place.

Drawing from formerly disparate wellness apps and fitness devices, Health unites all their data into centralized graphs displayed with Apple’s trademark elegance and simplicity. The app seems designed to beautifully bring together wearable tech devices like Nike’s FuelBand, FitBit, and—some speculate—Apple’s rumored iWatch. More than just a nifty chart tool, Health was prepared with help from the Mayo Clinic and Nike, and has already caught the attention of doctors.

“This could be revolutionary,” said one physician on Quora, clearly impressed with the health data able to be stored in the app, including lab results, allergies, medications, vitals, and more. “I feel that HealthKit might well be the first step in creating something akin to a universal [Electronic Medical Record]. [This] could potentially solve one of the single worst problems in healthcare today: the inability to easily transfer patient records from one care location to another.”

HomeKIt: Building the Home of the Future

Just as the HealthKit unites external fitness devices and fractured medical info, HomeKit empowers Apple’s devices to control virtually everything in your home.

Your iPad could very well be the central remote to your very first smart home. It seems like something out of a sci-fi flick: picture yourself dimming the lights, locking the doors, turning off the TV, and turning up the A/C with a few swipes and taps.

In fact, thanks to Siri-integration, you could even do all that with five simple words—simply saying “Siri, I’m going to bed,” could make your home sleep-ready in seconds. Partners already on board include Phillips, iHome, Haier, and many more.

Converging Everything

In the realms of health and home, iOS 8 sees Apple devices flexing their muscles and exerting power well beyond their rounded-corner edges.

Whether it’s bringing together diverse medical records or uniting all the hardware in your house, iOS 8 shows that Apple is serious about becoming a central part of our lives. It’s a clear signal to both users and developers: Apple doesn’t just want everything in your life well-connected—it wants it all to be beautifully cohesive.

Author: Zack Smith

The Hidden Hazards of Technology (And How to Fix Them)

Technology exists to make our lives better—but does it?

For the most part, yes: instead of writing a letter, you can communicate in an instant over email or text; rather than cracking open an encyclopedia, you have the sum of the world’s history, art, and science at the tip of your fingers. You can order chic clothes from Paris with a click or forge a vital partnership with a business in Taiwan with a videoconference.

But for all its convenience, technology also brings new hazards, both to our health and our social lives. Fortunately, there are ways around them.

Take a Seat… Or Don’t

For both work and play, we’re planted at our computers more than ever. The problem? Most of us are sitting wrong, raising the risk for long-term injury.

How do you sit at your computer? Chances are good you’re hunching over, leaning far back, or bending your legs awkwardly. As physiotherapist Lorna Taylor tells Mashable, if such incorrect posture is “repeated again and again, lasting changes in muscles, ligaments and tendons can occur.”

Okay, so what’s the right way to sit? Keep your back straight against the chair, arms at a 90 degree angle, and feet flat on the ground. While it may feel robotic at first, you’ll be doing your human body a favor.

Hyper Connected, But Not in Real Life

With Facebook, texting, and instant messaging, you can reach all your friends in a millisecond. Reaching them in real life, however, may be more difficult than ever.

Gadgets haven’t exactly helped when trying to get the gang all together. In a hilariously true-to-life video, Alex Cornell explains, “cell phones have made plans susceptible to revision at any moment; thus, making them in advance is essentially pointless—futile, even.”

In the past, you made plans and stuck to them. Now it’s all too easy to be flaky when a night out is cobbled together on the fly. See that Facebook event? Notice how many people clicked the “Maybe” button. Next time you see a friend, try something radical: make plans in person and show up on time.

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives—and mostly for the better. It’s given us all sorts of instant conveniences, delightful diversions, and powerful connections.

Still, it’s important to understand the new risks that technology poses and how to overcome them. As awesome as our gadgets are, it’s refreshing to take a break from time to time—they haven’t made the real world obsolete just yet.

Author: Natacha Arora

How a Strong Mission Helps B2B Companies Capitalize on Employee Advocacy

Employee Advocacy

Employee advocacy isn’t exactly a new idea: when your workers are truly engaged and excited about your company, they act as powerful brand ambassadors outside the office and can create a tremendous impact.

From generating new leads, to forging powerful partnerships, to spreading brand awareness, only good things can come from employees personally buying into your business. Think of it as an organic, low-cost marketing effort that can easily get your employees’ networks buzzing about your company, your offerings, and most importantly, your mission.

But wait… what if you don’t have a mission?

How B2B Companies Can Transcend Business

For B2B companies that don’t appeal to the everyday consumer, inspiring employees to advocate on the brand’s behalf might seem like a pipe dream. Sure, it’s easy for the guys at Google to tell their friends about how great the search engine giant is—but who wants to hear about paper supply over cocktails?

That’s where a mission comes in. Human beings love, dream, hope, laugh, and care; we long to be part of something bigger than ourselves—something that matters. A strong mission can unite your team, instill loyalty, and engender endless advocacy.

Maybe your mission can come straight from your offerings, like an educational resource provider that aims to help all children learn, grow, and achieve through their products. Or perhaps it’s a separate initiative, like a paper supply company that saves the planet by using recycled materials and planting new trees together on the weekends.

No matter what path you choose, when your company adopts a meaningful mission, it’s almost impossible to keep the good word from spreading.

How Technology Is Changing the Game

While employee advocacy and missions are nothing new, thanks to new technologies, their impact has never been greater: with the explosion of social media, it’s exceedingly easy for employees to tap into their networks and amplify your brand’s message.

Most people in your organization are on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (just to name a few) with hundreds of friends, family members, and business partners only a click away. (E.g., the average 25-43 year old on Facebook has 360 friends!)

The possibilities are literally exponential. If even one person shares a branded piece of content on LinkedIn, 100 new connections might see it; if those contacts like or share the content in turn, suddenly thousands are learning about your company, your offerings, and most importantly, your mission.

Inspiring Advocacy

Beyond spreading brand awareness and drumming up new business, putting your mission on center stage engages your employees and dramatically impacts productivity. Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by an astonishing 202%.

An inspiring mission means your company is about more than “just business.” It brings your team together and transforms everyone into a well-connected advocate trumpeting your message and inspiring others.

That’s not just good for business; it’s good for the world.

Author: Paul Wry