Seeing it’s a wild weekend I’ll go off base again. I’ve come across a couple of iOS apps that I’ve found to be very useful to me and a bit of a game changer in many ways. These are two apps one for commerce and one for pleasure that have changed the way I think in many ways.
The first is Square. It is a free app which is always a bonus. When you download the app it pushes you to register to receive a card reader, also for free. The card reader plugs into the headphone jack of your iPhone or iPad and then lets you scan a credit card for payment that is directly deposited to your bank.
Now I remember back to the days when I had a credit card account for a business I was running. I had to pay $35/month plus 35¢ per transaction plus 3.25% for every charge plus there was the charge for the software which was somewhere in the $500 range. This was rather expensive and I didn’t like it. It made me understand why some places were cash only. If you’re a small business or a seasonal business you’re kind of screwed having to shell out money each month for a service you aren’t using that much. Square is different. They don’t charge you anything up front, they give it to you for free. They don’t charge you a monthly fee. They only charge you 2.75% per charge. This comes in handy to me. It’s less of a charge than PayPal which you already know I don’t like. It is a spontaneous way to obtain money. I frequently tutor people and I was at a computer lab one day and when I was finished with the person I was working with I was approached by another person who asked me about my services. When I was finished I pulled out my phone and swiped their credit card to bill them and they were sent an email with my contact info for future business.
Sure, it costs you a little bit, but to me it’s worth it. Overall it costs you less than regular credit card services and that was the point when Square started up. They wanted to reach out to small businesses and entrepreneurs who wanted the ability to charge credit cards on a mobile basis or at the very least wirelessly at a low cost. Now they have taken it a step further. Now small businesses when they charge your card if you have a smartphone it will send you a message asking you to download the app. Once you do it will let you open a tab with the business you’ve visited so that the next time you visit the business you can tap on the tab and it will connect with their device in an encrypted format so that you don’t even need to pull out your credit card. This is the type of NFD [Near Field Device] technology that people are trying to work into the hardware of their phones that now can be worked in with the software. The iPad version is a bit richer in that you can program in a list of services or offerings so that it acts more like a cash register itemizing a persons order and emailing them the details. I really think that Square will be a game changer in the near future. You’ll see it popping up in numerous places in San Francisco now along with other major metropolitan cities.
The second app is called Flipboard. This is an app aimed at the iPad and it is a really nice app for repurposing content from social networks and news sites into a consistently similar format. You can browse through your facebook, twitter and news sites of your choice in a format that looks like a condensed magazine format. The nice part for twitter and facebook accounts is that if you post links it follows the links and brings in a synopsis of the article and adds it to the link. Tapping on the link takes you to the full article formatted for the app so it always gives you the same familiar look and feel.
I find the biggest thing I like about Flipboard is the facebook and twitter integration. It makes it much easier to follow what people are talking about instead of seeing just text and links. Now you get to see the pictures and videos people post instead of just seeing the text. It is a more visual form of social networking than textual version. Yes, it’s a bit of a pretty toy, but it works. I can fully understand why Apple has it listed as an essential iPad starter app. It also is free.