Get ready America: the 2012 Olympics are about to begin! That’s right, in one week, the Summer Olympics are set to kick off in London, England and it’s attracting a lot of attention, at least from a technology standpoint. Whether it’s about their use about social media for its athletes or how it’s rumored to be the most social in the history of the Olympiad, or anything else, there’s a whole lot going on with this historic event.
But the Olympics are much more than just sports. It’s also about building a better community and to do some charitable good. This year is no different and even the tech community is getting involved with one of the Olympic’s global events to help promote tolerance, peace, and fitness in the world.
Known as the “Walk A Mile” event, this campaign is supported by the 2012 London Olympics and also the US State Department’s Hours Against Hate tolerance campaign designed to help showcase the potential of young people to change the world. To help promote the “Walk A Mile” event, InterAmerican Gaming, in partnership with Dave Stewart, Rock-it Media, Kiip Rewards, PayPal, and Xtreme Labs, just announced the release of their new fitness mobile application, SoFit.
Confession time: I recently decided to upgrade my phone and picked up the iPhone 4S with Verizon Wireless.
As some of you may know, for the past couple years, I had been an Android user, absolutely refusing to upgrade to the iPhone. Why? It wasn’t because of pure hatred of iOS or its applications, but because I wasn’t so sure about whether I really wanted the iPhone. Sure, a lot of people have told me that if I wanted to sample the latest applications that are out on the market, then I needed to be able to be on the iPhone. I suppose that I thought I’d be able to temporarily supplant that need simply by using an iPad, but eventually I gave in and went with the iPhone. But it wasn’t a smooth of transition as one might expect.
The last Android device that I had was the HTC Thunderbolt, which was on Verizon’s 4G network and I really liked. It was somewhat big in size and took some getting used to, but I liked downloading the different apps and was even happier when “new” apps came to Google Play, after spending months or years being available in the Apple store. Nevertheless, I had been experiencing some signal and data issues on my Thunderbolt recently and after being instructed to do a factory reset in the hope that it would resolve the issue (which it didn’t), I was told that I could either have Verizon send me a new Thunderbolt and still be month-to-month on my plan or renew for another two years. Now, normally this wouldn’t be something to write about…I mean, why would you care about my data plan? Well, turns out that because Verizon recently updated their data plans and no longer have unlimited data, I was in a bit of a pickle. You see, it turns out that I’m one of the above-average data users–each month, I’m averaging about 3 GB of data being used. So if I rolled over to Verizon’s new plans, I would be paying a bit more than what I’m currently doing now.
Okay, so typically the date is synonymous with bad luck, witchcraft, and the devil. But, Uber is determined to make it synonymous with it being the day that dozens, if not hundreds, of their customers being delivered delicious ice cream. Why? Because July is also National Ice Cream month. No, it’s a real thing…go ahead, look it up…we’ll wait, but no guarantee that your ice cream won’t melt.
Typically known for being a service that transports people from place to place in style and with exceptional customer service, Uber is pretty creative in their promotions–and sometimes it doesn’t even involve transporting people–it usually involves bringing things to people. Why, during South by Southwest last year, they delivered BBQ sandwiches to folks through the app. It’s more a show about how awesome and service-oriented the company can be and it definitely has an impact–plus it doesn’t hurt that people are downloading the app and will continue to think about using it in the future. So now, in honor of National Ice Cream month, Uber will be delivering ice cream to those who order it through their app–for one day only!
Over the past few months, super people transporter, Uber, has made some significant expansions as it aims to help the world battle the inefficient private transportation industry and make cab-like services much more enjoyable. It started off in San Francisco and has slowly expanded to other metropolitan cities and locations, including Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. The service has also recently moved across the seas to promote their international coverage, coincidentally during the same time as the LeWeb conference, in Paris and now in London. Certainly not bad for a company who has certainly made the general public supportive and appreciative of the company’s work. And one can only assume that Uber will be branching off to other locales in the near future. Just where remains a bit of a mystery, but you can probably bet that as long as there’s an issue about cab drivers purposely not picking you up or rude customer service experiences, then Uber will be right up there moving in to help make your transportation experience much more enjoyable.
In order to help Uber rapidly and efficiently respond to growing demand and expand, this well-funded San Francisco-based startup announced last week that they were bringing on board an experienced partner and new Chief Operating Operator. That person is none other than former Booking.com CEO Kees Koolen. Mr. Koolen is the company’s answer for this desire to scale a global organization and both CEO Ryan Graves, and founder Travis Kalanick recognize this. The new COO definitely has a huge task in front of him, but it’s nothing new for the man who “built and grew Booking.com from a small team into the multibillion world leader of hotel reservations with more than 3,500 people working from more than 70 offices around the world.“
There are a lot of different mashups of technology and startups over the past few months and years and it’s definitely the year of the API. It all starts off with an idea and then by leveraging the API of that startup, others can build their own vision of a product. It usually happens with one of the more popular startups and today, one of them happens to be Instagram. Naturally, startups are going to try and “ride their coattails” (in a good way) to find ways to improve the service or come up with a great product. Launching this week, Scan-to-gram just happens to be one of them.
Started from nothing more than a mashup of ideas during a Scan company hackathon event, Scan-to-gram is the outcome of Scan team members mashing up their popular QR code generator and Instagram in order to create a fun new way for companies and others to have a web presence and increase their following on the photo-sharing social network. Not a bad idea from the company that produced one of the top downloaded QR code scanners in the Apple marketplace. According to TechCrunch, Scan is in the business of “creating apps that extend the potential application of QR code tech…” and they’re doing a pretty interesting job of trying to make QR codes less boring and more valuable. For many people, the thought of using a QR codes probably seems a bit far-fetched–some might even speculate that they’re dead. After all, it wasn’ t as if they’re a new thing in the marketplace. The QR code was first invented in 1994 and was designed to enable tracking of vehicles during the manufacturing process. But it’s only been recently since QR codes have hit their stride, somewhat, and have become more mainstream–but there’s a long ways to go. And that’s just what Scan seems to be trying to do, but they have a long way to go.
Recent statistics show that in June 2011, there were 14 million US smartphones that scanned a QR code, but when you compare it to the entire US smartphone population (82.2 million), it’s not that impressive. But now when you look at all the emerging startups making names for themselves and getting acquired, they’re all mobile-based and rely solely on the smartphone. Take Instagram, Path, Highlight, Foursquare, Flipboard, Evernote, etc. for example–these are all mobile-based startups that people with smartphones are rapidly downloading. The camera on the smartphones have become even better too. So the environment is there eagerly awaiting for a really great startup to put it all together. Scan just managed to find the right deal–make it easy for people to find their friends and great photographers on the number one photo-sharing app. That’s what you get with Scan-to-gram.