5 Unexpected Ways Apple’s ARKit Is Changing the Customer Experience Across Industries

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Apple’s ARKit has great implications for e-commerce. It’s the next best thing to literally trying before you buy, and you can do it anywhere you have your iPhone with you. Thanks to AR, consumers get a better feel for products before purchasing, increasing cart checkout totals and reducing returns.

But the capabilities of AR promise big things for other industries, too. Here are five surprising ARKit applications that are changing the customer experience for the better.

1. Car Showrooms

Thanks to e-commerce and review sites, the car industry has been slowly shifting to be more customer friendly.

Augmented created a virtual showroom experience of a Mercedes sedan using ARKit. Users can walk around the car, open and close doors, and try out different paint colors, allowing them to get a feel for the car without having a pushy salesman breathing down their shoulder.

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Once they choose a model and color, users can take it for a test drive with Vincenzo, and imagine what the car would look like parked next to their apartment building.

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2. Ordering Food

Alper Guler of Kabaq Food Technologies created a food ordering app that helps users envision ordering food at a restaurant.

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It’s easy to apply the same technology to food delivery and meal kit services like Blue Apron. If consumers can imagine what the finished meal will look like on their table at home, they might be more quick to order or subscribe.

3. Event Marketing

At Disney’s D23 expo this summer, Steve Lukas dropped a “live” Mickey Mouse in front of the conference entrance.

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Companies can do something similar to enhance their brand presence at events, creating a virtual game or scavenger hunt experience to direct attendees their way.

4. Online Tutorials

Whether they’re hardcore DIYers or just want to take on a new craft project, one thing that gives customers pause is whether they’ll be able to actually assemble the final advertised product. Online tutorial videos exploded in recent years to help address this problem.

AR transfers the tutorial from YouTube to your very own craft table or garage, helping you put the product together yourself. Artists can gain inspiration from AR experiences like this one, which shows a friendly blob creature drawing a flower according to your command:

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5. Product Promotion

From logo decals to product samples, companies are always thinking up new ways to give you freebies along with what you purchased. AR unlocks yet another freebie option, allowing customers to bring the brand to life in their own home. For example, upcoming DVD releases of Star Wards might come with an AR version of BB-8 to watch the film alongside the purchaser:

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Alternately, brands can delight customers and cement their loyalty by doing crazy things with their product, like raining endless cans of La Croix down on the floor:

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Conclusion

ARKit will come to all iPhones this fall. Until then, stay up to date with the latest ARKit developments by following MadeWithARKit, a Twitter account and blog showcasing the best submissions so far.

Michael Quoc is the founder & CEO of Dealspotr, an open shopping platform bringing together up-and-coming brands, influencers, and savvy shoppers around today’s best deals. He was previously the Director of Product Management for Yahoo’s media lab, spearheading the launch of several innovative live video and mobile social networking services. Michael has been awarded nine patents relating to mobile and social network applications and technology. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.

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6 Ways to Make Buying a House More Affordable in This Tech Age

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Colorful residential row houses in US capital before sunset in late autumn.

If you feel that buying a house has become less affordable in recent years, it’s not your imagination. A Harvard University study found that nearly 40 million Americans live in housing they can’t afford, meaning they’re spending more than 30 percent of their income on the place they own or rent. That represents a 146 percent increase over the past 16 years.

As the Harvard study found, home prices have gone up — by as much as 50 percent in some areas — but wages haven’t maintained the same pace. That means millions of Americans who dream of owning a home have felt themselves hampered by not just student debt and credit card debt but also by their reduced buying power.

The trick, then, is to find ways to make buying a house more affordable — and most of these have nothing to do with your income. Over the past six months I purchased a new home and then sold my old home. I’ve learned a lot about how to find homes online. In todays tech age buying a house is possible and finding the right deal is possible. Here is how I did it.

  1. Cut the commission.

Commission on real estate transactions sits at just over 5 percent nationwide. That’s a big chunk of change to fork over right as you’re moving into a new home that may need repairs or furnishing. Some people avoid commission by working with a friend who’s a realtor — and willing to give up his or her agent or broker fees.

Another option is to use a service like Beycome, which removes the middleman (aka the realtor) and allows buyers and sellers to interact directly. The platform digitizes the standard FSBO transaction by helping with listings, scheduling home tours, and finalizing the deal with a contract.

  1. Boost your credit score.

It’s no secret that a higher credit score results in a lower interest rate. Boosting your credit score from “fair” to “good,” for example, could make mortgage payments feasible — and improving your credit score could also help you qualify for loans or lines of credit for things you may want to do to the house in the future, such as replace furniture or build an addition.

To raise your score, pay all your bills on time, keep your credit card balances low, and avoid opening up new lines of credit when possible — every “hard pull” on your credit affects your score.

  1. Look for the best numbers.

Don’t settle for the first loan rate you’re given — shop around to see which lender can give you the lowest rate. Some people successfully counter one lender’s offer with another’s to get the rate they want with the lender they want. The other number you can look to lower alongside your interest rate is your down payment; determine whether the homes you’re looking at qualify for special programs. Some of these ask for down payments as low as 3 percent; the USDA Rural Development ProgramVA loans, and the Navy Federal Credit Union all offer zero-payment loans.

  1. Invest in DIY.

Fixer-upper homes and do-it-yourself projects haven’t just fueled HGTV; they’ve also helped lots of new homeowners quench their thirst for a home. Some repairs or renovations are, without a doubt, costly — replacing a roof or overhauling an entire kitchen can represent a big upfront cost.

But many houses on the market need TLC — say, a new coat of paint — or simply need to be tweaked in stages to meet a new owner’s preferences. Being your own general contractor means you get to spend money simply on materials, not on labor or mark-ups, meaning more money stays in your pocket. Each improvement will also result in more equity for you, so your hard work will result in real money earned down the road.

  1. Protect your investment.

One price that sometimes surprises new homeowners is the cost of home insurance. To keep the cost of a homeowner policy low, talk to your insurance company about bundling your home and car policies for a reduced rate.

You can also protect your home investment by looking for credits beyond the purchase price. A common credit is one awarded for overdue repairs, but some people are also able to earn credits for closing costs or home warranties. All of these options can reduce the overall cost of purchasing the home.

  1. Rein in your expectations.

If you’ve saved up for a home for years, you likely have your heart set on something very specific: Victorian style, lots of turrets, window seats built in for every kid, original hardwood floors. But the term “starter home” exists for a reason — most people need to “trade up” to a bigger home down the line.

It’s important to spend less than you can truly afford to cushion yourself against a market crash and to be able to save for the other priorities you might have, like retirement or college. Look for what meets your needs and makes you happy — while that 1990s ranch home may look a bit cookie-cutter compared to your beloved Victorians, if it’s in a good school district, close to work, and big enough for your family, it may be the smartest choice.

Buying a house may be less affordable than it once was, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. By looking for ways that you can increase the spending power of the money and credit you currently have, you can improve your chances of buying a house you can truly afford — and be happy to call home.

The post 6 Ways to Make Buying a House More Affordable in This Tech Age appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Op-Ed: 3 Ways Retail Stores Can Survive In The Age Of Amazon & E-Commerce

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The following is a guest contributed post from Larry Light, a global brand revitalization expert, is the Chief Executive Officer of Arcature (www.arcature.com), a marketing consulting company that has advised a variety of marketers in packaged goods, technology, retail, hospitality, automotive, corporate and business-to-business, as well as not-for-profit organizations.

The business news is full of bleak outlooks or bankruptcies for a number of big retail stores, with iconic Toys ‘R’ Us one of the latest casualties.

The crumbling of several brick-and-mortar giants continues during the rise of e-commerce, led by Amazon. Some of those still in business are attempting to improve their online capabilities as a way to compete better in the changing landscape. Walmart, for example, plans to open fewer stores so it can focus on e-commerce while enhancing existing stores. Target has been building out its digital offerings, with same- and next-day delivery services being tested.

Such online upgrading illustrates a shifting business model for some long-time retail titans. But Larry Light, a global brand revitalization expert, says to know where they’re going, they can’t forget where they came from. Their survival, he says, will likely depend on how they blend their retail brand strengths with new online know-how.

“Retail giants are feeling the ‘Amazon effect,’ ” says Light (www.arcature.com), co-author with Joan Kiddon of The Paradox Planet – Creating Brand Experiences for The Age of I. “Struggling retailers are focusing on catching up in the online space and giving up on investing in sociability and sensory aspects of creating a special in-store experience.

“The challenge is how to provide the best combination of both online and retail. This is the big opportunity space that traditional retailers seem to be ignoring.”

Light suggest three ways that retailers can adapt and survive in the e-commerce era:

  • Re-establish the emotional store connection. One reason people consistently shopped at a brand retail store, Light notes, was the way they felt connected with the brand and the store experience. “Connecting with customers’ emotions is the way to find success in the age of online shopping,” Light says. “No matter how much we appreciate the ease and speed of online shopping, we crave the joy of seeing and touching the product. A computer cannot match that human experience.” So increase the emotional rewards, Light says, by enhancing the shopping environment, making it more relevant and distinctive.
  • Translate data to identify shopper behaviors. According to a Forbes article, retailers need to analyze a wide variety of metrics to better understand their customers and what impacts their purchasing decisions.  “There are many variables to the in-person shopping experience,” Light says. “Detecting these variables and how they impact customers can bring solutions on how to optimize the shopping space.”
  • Don’t have an identity crisis. A brand has a distinguishing character, and Light says it’s vital to avoid losing it in the midst of change. “IKEA, Walmart and other retailers are struggling to catch up with online venues, focusing on creating a brand experience that has less to do with the legacy retail environment and more to do with virtual environments,” Light says. “You walk in a Sears and see an abandoned brand.”

“A brand is more than the promise of features and functions,” Light says. “It’s a special feeling for the customer. The retail experience and online enhancements can make it more powerful.”

The post Op-Ed: 3 Ways Retail Stores Can Survive In The Age Of Amazon & E-Commerce appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.


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5 Ways to Save Money for Your Side Hustle

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Most people start side hustles because they want to be business owners and make some extra money — maybe even enough to eventually stop working their day job. But if they’re not careful, their side hustle could actually end up costing them money.

U.S. News & World Report found that some people lose money on their side ventures. Their money was sunk in certifications, workspace rentals, maintenance fees, and self-employment taxes. Add in potential lost productivity from physical exhaustion or distractions, and you may be losing money at your day job, too, in terms of raises, bonuses, or promotions.

That means it’s important to save money before and during the launch of your side hustle. Having a cushion makes it possible to plan ahead, make smart decisions regarding your business, and expand when you’re ready. It also guarantees you’ll take action based on what’s best for your business, not what’s best for your wallet in the moment.

Here are a few ways to help your side hustle be profitable without draining your funds.

  1. Sign up for automatic savings. A lot of people open checking accounts and savings accounts simultaneously, with the goal of eventually moving money from checking into savings to create a safety net. With 57 percent of Americans having less than $ 1,000 in their savings accounts, it’s clear that doesn’t happen often in reality.

To overcome your best intentions you never fulfill, open an account that has automatic savings set up. Chime has an Automatic Savings program that ensures users automatically transfer 10 percent of their paycheck to savings and have rounded-up amounts added to their savings every time they use their Chime card. In turn, you’ll be saving without doing anything additional, and the best savings are the ones you never see — because you’ve never tempted to tap them.

  1. Presell your goods and services with advance payment. Harvard Business Review reported that presales can actually boost long-term sales, so this is a great investment in your business’s end game. Best of all, presales ensure there’s a market for your product or service, meaning you won’t be wasting money by investing more in your side hustle.

Presell what you’re working on, whether that’s a webinar, a line of T-shirts, or a translation service. One great way to do this is by offering some sort of sample, from an online portfolio of your work to a case study of another project you worked on. Ask people to not just sign up but commit to your offering by paying upfront. This allows you to anticipate and cover expenses — say, materials or the web designer who’s building your webinar landing page — before using any of your own money.

  1. Trade services. If you’re just starting your side hustle, you’re likely reliant upon others to help you get started, whether that’s a screenprinting press you rent time at or a photographer friend who helps you capture images for your website. While some people will simply help you out of the goodness of their heart or their excitement to see you succeed, some won’t — and it’s also not a great idea to be indebted to lots of people from the outset.

Instead, work with vendors, distributors, or service providers to establish a trade relationship. If your service translates work into Spanish and your website builder is actually needing translation services for a few clients’ websites, you have a setting ripe for exchange. If your T-shirt business works with a screenprinter whose passion project is a summer camp, offer to design shirts for special camp events in exchange for screenprinting time. These are all ways to staunch the outflow of cash while setting your side hustle up for success.

  1. Use your blog to profit. In this day and age, you need a blog to propel your business to success — even if you don’t have a big following, sharing your knowledge and experiences with visitors to your site can build your credibility and push them to work with you. But you don’t have to see your blog as a drag on delivering your products or services — it can be its own source of income, too.

By working with affiliate marketers, hosting ads on your blog, and writing sponsored posts or reviews, your blog can bring in money, too. And these can be helpful to visitors — say, a post about a brand of running shoes you highly recommend pairing with your running app — which helps make you “sticky” in clients’ minds. You can use additional income from sponsored posts or affiliate links to fuel your side hustle, making it a money saver rather than a distraction.

  1. Claim all your small business expenses. While there are some sticky tax details regarding side hustles — like estimated quarterly taxes — there also some benefits, like claiming expenses for your business. A lot of entrepreneurs miss the deductions hidden within the 74,000 pages of tax code, so educate yourself on what you can claim.

If you use your home office, for example, you can claim not just the space, but also the utilities associated with it, such as internet. You can write off equipment you’ve purchased for your side hustle, from computers to cake decorating utensils; you can also write off expenses for travel, including airfare, mileage, or lodging. But you have to track it all in order to claim it. 1tap is a platform that helps entrepreneurs track receipts so they can claim every deduction owed come tax season; it even uses character recognition to eliminate data entry, saving hustlers both time and money.

Side hustles are intended to make money, not bleed you dry. To avoid putting in more than you’re getting out, take advantage of these methods for saving your side hustle money so it can make a profit. If you can avoid worrying about money, you’ll be able to focus on building a strong business — and you may even find yourself no longer needing your day job.  

The post 5 Ways to Save Money for Your Side Hustle appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Donald Glover and FX part ways with animated Deadpool TV series

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Donald Glover and his creative collaborator and younger brother Stephen Glover, with whom he works with on FX’s Atlanta, are departing the animated Deadpool TV series alongside FX Networks, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The duo are exiting the project due to “creative differences.” Announced last year, the animated Deadpool show was billed as an adult-themed action-comedy that would air on FX’s FXX sister channel, which is also now the home of the network’s animated hit Archer as of the latest season. FX says it plans to work with Marvel on Noah Hawley’s Legion, which returns for its second season on April 3rd.

We don’t know if Glover’s intensive schedule over the last 12 months — which has included working on his musical project…

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Sonos finally adds support for Audible, after parting ways more than two years ago

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Sonos announced today via its blog that it will be supporting the Amazon-based audiobook service Audible on its platform.

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6 ways to pause/resume music on HomePod

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Siri is the primary input method on your HomePod…. Read the rest of this post here


6 ways to pause/resume music on HomePod” is an article by iDownloadBlog.com.
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Apple Unveils New Ways to Tackle Tech Dangers Posed to Children

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Apple has launched a new website where parents can get advice about ways they can keep their children safe when using technology. Launched on Thursday, the Families website is aimed at helping parents keep an eye on the apps and content that their children come across on Apple devices. The tech giant believes that devices […]
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How to type accented letters in macOS three different ways

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When writing about people, places, or other things that use accents and other special symbols outside the 26 letters of the standard English alphabet, there are ways to add them to a document without simply using the accentless version of the letter. This AppleInsider guide offers a variety of ways to use the right accent when writing in macOS.
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5 Ways to Prepare Your iPhone or iPad for iOS 11.3

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It’s likely that we’ll see iOS 11.3 launch in the next couple of weeks. The pace of beta releases has quickened recently, and spring (when Apple said the update will roll out) is nearly upon us. With a wide range of features, iOS 11.3 is an exciting software update — and with battery health tools, […]
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