There are many reasons as to why the iPhone is so popular. To some there’s usability, robust devices and generally great quality overall. But the biggest reason so many people go with this phone is the apps. It is the apps that give the smartphone its functionality; make it smart. With over 700 million apps, there is guaranteed to be an app for everyone – including apps that turn your iPhone into a scanner!
Here are five apps that businesses can use to turn their iPhone into a scanner.
This full feature app lets you scan all sorts of documents from business cards to receipts and even images. It can also scan text documents and turn them into an editable digital version so you don’t have to retype them.
When the image, document, etc. is scanned they can be exported to a number of different online services like Evernote, iCloud, Dropbox and even Google Drive. You can find this app on the iTunes store for USD$9.99.
This app allows users to scan text documents and images and store them as either JPEGs or PDFs. The interface is quite intuitive with grid lines that make it easy to line up documents and is quite quick. You can also scan multiple pages of documents and the app will clean up the text and shadows then merge them into one file.
When you scan the documents you can choose to: Store them on your iDevice, email, or print them. You can also upload to Dropbox, Evernote and Google Drive. The one downside with this app is that you won’t be able to edit the items you scan. It can be found here on the iTunes store for USD$6.99.
The biggest thing Genius Scan has going for it is that the basic version is free. You can scan documents and images and save them as JPEGs or PDFs and email them or store them on your device. The app has some pretty cool features including the ability to detect and alter perspectives to make scanned documents easier to read.
If you upgrade to the + version you will be able to send documents to Box, Evernote, Google Drive, SkyDrive and if it’s a receipt you can send it to Expensify. You will also be able to print directly to any printer that supports AirPrint. You can find the free app on the iTunes store, and upgrading to the + version is done in the app for USD$2.99
This app has a unique feature that the other apps lack: It allows you to take three pictures of the same document and will combine them into one document to provide the best quality image. As with most of the other apps, you can scan and save documents as PDFs or JPEGs. You can also save them on your phone and email them or print them on a AirPrint enabled device.
The one downside of this app is that there is no integration with cloud storage apps like Dropbox or iCloud. What you will have to do is store the file on your phone and open it with the app, then save it. You can find the app on iTunes store for USD$1.99.
Doc Scan Pro
This app is aimed at users who need to scan documents with numerous pages into either PDFs or JPEGs. Using advanced detection algorithms it can pick up where a book or document page’s curve and will separate the pages, scanning them separately. You can then customize how bright they are and the contrast to create the best looking scan. Because it is largely meant for longer documents, it can scan quickly and will put the documents into their own folder.
You can email the finished scans, or upload them to cloud storage apps like SkyDrive, Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, iCloud. You can also print them on an AirPrint enabled device, or send them to your computer over Wi-Fi. You can find the app on iTunes for USD$1.99.
If you would like to learn more about the iPhone and all the apps, please contact us today.
Disasters can happen at any time and be of any level of severity. For this reason, it is always advisable to implement a business continuity or disaster recovery plan. By having a plan, you stand a higher chance of surviving a disaster. However, if something negative does happen the key to remaining in operation is communication. This can be harder than it seems.
Here are five tips on how to ensure better communication during a disaster.
1. Have more than one way to communicate During a disaster, you have to assume that communications will be affected in some way. Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that your company has more than one way to communicate with employees and people outside of your organization.
This could include mobile phones that are used only for disasters, extra phone lines, VoIP, etc. The key here is to identify how potential disasters could affect communications and look for alternative methods or ways to communicate.
2. Coordinate responders During some disasters, it’s not the communications themselves that cause further problems, but uncoordinated responders. In times of disaster, people react based on what they think will work best in the moment.
If you have not taken steps to ensure that all responders are on the same page, and know what they should be doing to not only carry out the recovery plan but also communicate, you could face a total breakdown.
When developing your strategy, take the time to ensure that the selected responders and communications leaders are up-to-date and are aware of what is expected of them and how they should go about communicating during a disaster. Cross-training employees so they can carry out other roles if necessary, can be a good back up too.
3. Coordinate responses During a disaster, you will have to communicate with parties outside of your business. This may be the media, shareholders or other businesses. If you have a disgruntled employee, or one who is not aware of the full situation when answering questions, the impact of the disaster could be exacerbated.
It is beneficial to develop standard responses and methods of responding during a disaster. As a small to medium business owner it is tempting to take on this role yourself. However, while you should definitely be a key person to respond to questions from parties outside of your business, having other people in place who can cover this role might help mitigate disaster.
4. Communicate outward In times of disaster it can be easy to forget that other people and businesses rely on you. If they are not fully aware of what is going on, there is a chance of compounding problems and even losing business.
When disaster strikes, your company should take steps to communicate with parties outside of your organization as to what is going on, what you are doing to fix the problem and if there is any help/changes you need. After all, the more people who are informed of the situation, the greater the chance that support will be available and more effective.
5. Be honest There is a temptation to put spin on a disaster within your organization and embellish the truth, or play it down so as to not make your business appear in a bad light. This could cause further problems though if important people find out that you have not been totally upfront and transparent.
All it would take is one employee mentioning a hidden fact to a friend and the truth could come out and potentially damage your brand reputation and possibly lose you business. Therefore, when communicating with outside parties and with your employees, be honest and open as to what is really going on. This will make communication easier, and could even help lessen the long-term impact of the disaster.
If you are looking for communications systems or disaster recovery plans that will help see you through any disaster, please contact us today to see how our solutions can support you.
As technology and data networks continue to become more advanced, concepts like the cloud have come to the forefront of business technology. There is a high chance that you probably use at least one cloud service on a daily basis, if not more. A common concern about the cloud is overall security of your business’s data. Sure, many systems are secure but there are still attacks and leaks that could harm your business and it would therefore be a good idea to ensure that data stored in the cloud is secure.
Here are four tips on how you can keep data stored in the cloud safe.
1. Cloud encryption is key When you store files in the cloud, they are actually stored on a server somewhere. It would be a good idea to check with your provider what encryption they use on their servers. In case you were wondering, encryption is the conversion of data and messages into a form that can’t be easily read by unintended parties. With most digital systems, encryption will make files unreadable without the proper key to essentially decode the information and turn it into something we can read.
Checking with the different services you use can go a long way in helping you decide what to store and where. For example Google doesn’t doesn’t currently encrypt files stored on Drive. The same goes for Evernote and the free version of Dropbox. There is rumor that these companies especially Google are working on establishing encryption for all files but this may not happen for a while. Some providers like SugarSync do use encryption but it may not be enough. To ensure maximum security, look for providers that offer at least 128-bit AES encryption. Anything higher will obviously be better.
2. Secure files before they go online All encryption can be broken and some forms just take longer. To add another level of security, it would be a good idea to encrypt or secure your files before they are uploaded to the cloud. Did you know that popular programs like Office and Adobe Acrobat allow users to encrypt documents with a password?
Another option is to add a password for access before the files are uploaded. There are other options as well, including using a program like boxcryptor that creates an encrypted folder on your hard drive and links to various cloud storage services. When you place a file into the boxcryptor folder, it will be synced with the related service and automatically encrypted.
3. Ensure files are secure when being moved One of the weakest links of almost all cloud solutions happens when information is being uploaded or synced from your computer to the cloud. Some solutions will send information unencrypted which means hackers will be able to capture the information as it leaves or enters your network or the solution’s network.
You should make sure that the solutions you use encrypt data while it is being uploaded. In truth, almost all of the cloud services do but it would be worth it to check again.
4. Lock down your accounts This can be a bit of a hassle but it will help keep your account and all of the important information/files stored on the cloud service secure. What do we mean by ‘lock down’? For the most part it means follow standard security protocol: Use a different password for every site and service, change passwords on a regular basis, don’t give passwords away and enable dual authentication if possible.
Services like Google Drive and DropBox offer two-factor (dual) authentication. What this means is that if you enable it, you will need to do another step before gaining access to your files. This usually means entering a code sent in a text message to your phone or answering a security question.
If you take these steps to ensure that your files and systems are secure, there should be little to no chance of having files or information stolen. We do have to warn you however that nothing is 100% secure but the more steps you take will definitely increase the security of your information. And if you’re looking for a cloud storage solution that offers the highest level of security, you can always contact us to see how we can help.
As a small business owner or manager, you are expected by your employees and customers to keep the information shared with you secure. If a breach were to happen, you would likely be the person that they turn to for answers and solutions. It is therefore a good idea to take steps to protect personal information before problems arise.
As October is Cyber Security month in the US, it’s the perfect time to take a look into ways you can make your business and systems more secure. One of the best places to start is to look at how your company stores and protects personal information. Here are five tips that can help you protect personal information in your company.
1. Change your passwords One of the weakest links, in terms of security, is not the programs, networks, or systems, it’s actually the passwords used to access these. You should ensure that your passwords are strong – at the very least use a mixture of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters like ! or @. This makes passwords harder to crack.
It is a good idea to change your passwords on a regular basis. You should change them at least once a year, but far preferable is to change these every 90 days. This will minimize the chances of your password being hacked and likely increase overall security.
2. One password shouldn’t rule them all The number of password protected systems and sites that we use on a daily basis is increasing and it can be tempting to have one or two passwords for all of these systems. This is not a good idea though because if one password is compromised, a hacker could gain access to all of your systems and the personal information stored on them.
The best solution is to have a unique password for each system and one that is as different as possible. Using a password manager like Dashline or LastPass might be worth looking into but just be sure to use a separate password to access to this system as well!
3. Don’t keep everything While passwords are a common way hackers can access systems, another popular way they get in is through malicious links in email, social media posts or online advertising. These links can be viruses and trojans that install backdoors to systems, allowing hackers access to files and potentially sensitive information.
In order to maximize security, you should look at every link and ensure it is legitimate before you click on it. The best way to do this is to look at the sender’s email address and ensure there are no spelling mistakes or weird characters. Look for any strange spelling, and if possible check there is https:// at the beginning of all links. This indicates that the page is legitimate. If a link seems even remotely suspicious, simply delete it.
4. Don’t react immediately Communications, especially in online ads and emails, often urge you to click immediately. Pause for a moment, inspect the email or links and try to verify them. As a rule of thumb, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Therefore, think first and don’t click the link.
5. Develop policies In order to secure your systems and protect information stored within, you should develop a policy for all staff to follow. Be sure to look at how you plan to protect information, where it is stored and how it is stored, as well as who has access to it, how can it be accessed, and what happens when the policy is breached. How do mobile devices/devices brought in by employees fit into the plan?
Once you have developed a policy, communicating it to your employees and ensuring that they are all on the same page in following it is essential. We know it can be challenging to develop an effective policy, so why not contact us? We may be able to help not only secure your private information but also develop a sound policy that is workable.
In July of this year, Google released the latest version of Android – Android 4.3. What was expected to be a massive update, actually turned out to be an incremental update with seemingly minor changes. That being said, there were some features introduced that Android users can definitely benefit from.
While Android 4.3 was officially released in July by Google, it is just now making its way onto many Android tablets and phones. So what are the new features and updates it brings?
Keyboard Typing using the stock Android keyboard on some devices isn’t too difficult, but on smaller devices it can be a little tough, with users often missing keys. The recent update brings a tweak to the Android keyboard which makes tap-typing easier and more accurate.
Many users will notice a slight improvement in tap-typing – individually selecting the letters instead of swiping a finger over them.
Location based Wi-Fi A wide variety of apps rely on your device’s location to ensure accurate maps, updates, etc. There are two main ways your apps can find your tablet’s location – by GPS or Wi-Fi. If you leave your Wi-Fi radio on, the tablet will continually search for connections to connect to and to report locations. This will actually drain your battery at a fairly fast rate.
The new update brings a change to the way Wi-Fi is used to report locations. Instead of Wi-Fi being turned on all the time to report, it is now selective, and will turn on the radio only when a location update is needed.
Bluetooth Bluetooth devices like the Jawbone or Fitbit rely on Bluetooth connections in order to report information to your phone or interact with various features e.g., answering and making calls using the Jawbone and recording of exercise with Fitbit. These devices use a lower-power version of Bluetooth (Bluetooth Smart), which older Android devices were not capable of supporting.
Newer Android devices, like the Google Nexus 7 can support Bluetooth Smart – they are commonly referred to as Bluetooth Smart Ready – and in 4.3 they will be able to connect with devices that use the Smart connection.
Restricted profiles Possibly the biggest feature introduced in 4.3 is the ability to restrict profiles. This feature lets you restrict individual user profiles and access to apps and content. If you want, you can set it so that a user can’t actually access any apps, or you can select what apps they can access.
This feature is currently only available for tablets using Android 4.3, and is great for users who share their tablet with others or are looking for a way to limit access to certain users.
Autocomplete dialer One feature that while not incredibly useful for many tablets is useful for mobile devices, is autocomplete in the phone dialer. This has been a feature of other mobile systems for a while but it has been largely absent from Android.
When you begin typing numbers on the dialer you should see suggestions related to the numbers. When you press on one of the suggestions you will dial automatically. If you have updated your device to 4.3, you can activate this feature by opening your device’s dialer, pressing on the three vertical squares, selecting Settings and tapping on Dial pad autocomplete.
If you would like to learn more about Android and how a tablet or phone would fit into your organization, please contact us today.
Email was a disruptive technology when it first launched by giving users around the globe a way to instantly communicate as long as they were connected to the Internet. One of the more popular features of all email programs is the ability to group your contacts together in order to reach a large group with the same email far easier. If you are a Gmail user do you know how to create email groups from your contacts?
Here is an overview of how you can group contacts together with Gmail.
About Gmail’s Contacts
Gmail has a Contact Manager where all of your contacts’ information is stored. To view your contacts, you can open Gmail, click on the arrow beside Mail or Gmail (located above the Compose button) and select Contacts.
In the window that opens you will notice a couple of things: If you have a Google+ account the email and contact info of people you have put into your circles will be here. Also, if you have linked a mobile device to your account, the stored numbers and contacts will be under My contacts. Gmail also tracks contacts you have emailed but not saved under Other contacts.
From the Contact Manager window you can add, delete and edit contacts; and create groups.
How to create and manage contact groups
If you would like to group certain contacts together you first need to create a New Group which can be done by:
You will notice the name of the group appear under My Contacts in the left-hand menu bar. Clicking on the group, you will notice that it is empty. You now need to add contacts to your group. This can be done by:
You should see the number beside the group name increase by the number of contacts you have added. Clicking on the group name will allow you to see who is in the group. If you make a mistake or would like to remove someone from the group simply click on the contact and look for the blue highlighted group name below their name. Click on this and and select Remove from group.
You can also delete a group by clicking on it and selecting More followed by Delete group. Don’t worry, your contacts won’t be deleted, just this group.
Uses for contact groups
There are a few ways you can use contact groups. The most obvious being as a mailing list. If you have an email that you would like multiple people to receive on a regular basis, put their addresses in a group. From there create the email and in the subject line enter the name of the group and select if from the drop-down menu. The whole list will automatically be added to the To: field.
You can also create a group of colleagues from one department or team. This will make it easier to communicate with the whole group at once. Another use for groups is to schedule meetings. When scheduling a meeting in Calendar, you can enter the group name to invite all people in that group to the meeting, instead of having to manually enter their names one by one.
If you would like to learn more about groups or how to manage your contacts in Gmail, please contact us today.
With the wide adoption of the Internet and systems like email and social media, it’s become widely expected that many businesses are more or less available 24/7. When you receive an email the sender expects a prompt response and many deserve one. The problem comes when you go on vacation and emails sit unanswered for days or even weeks. One common courtesy is to set an automatic reply for when you will be out of the office. Luckily, for users of Office 365’s Outlook Web App, this is easy to put in place.
Here is an overview of the different types of automatic reply available for the Outlook Web App and how to set a response up.
About auto reply If you are going to be out of the office for an extended period and likely won’t be checking your email, setting an auto reply makes sense. Outlook’s auto replies are highly customizable and can be set up quickly and easily.
When you set an auto reply, you are able to pick the length of time it is active for, who will receive the message (either internal, external, or all contacts), and even schedule the reminder to turn off automatically.
Setting an auto reply If you are going to be away or not checking your email you can set an auto reply by:
If you use auto reply, it is advisable to always set a start and end date and time, as this will ensure that the reply will not be sent while you are in the office and causes confusion for all concerned, as well as making you look unprofessional. If you don’t set these dates the automatic reply will also start as soon as you hit save. Looking to learn more about the Outlook Web App or any of the other Office 365 programs? Why not call us, we can give you the lowdown and some valuable tips.
Take out your smartphone, go to Google and search for a restaurant or type of food in your area. You should see results displayed with restaurant names and a map near the top. Many of these results will have a click to call button which you can press to telephone that specific business from your browser. Many business owners are wondering how effective this is for their business.
According to a recent study conducted by Google and Ipsos, businesses that have a click to call button on their paid (AdWords) or organic search results actually see an increase in brand reception and calls.
The study focused on seven industries – Travel, Restaurants, Technology, Finance, Retail, Auto and Local services – and found that 70% of mobile searchers will press the call button in the results.
What’s even more interesting is that paid mobile ads generate over 40 million calls each month. Almost 80% of these calls last 30 seconds or longer, with many lasting over 6 minutes. This indicates that users are not only making the call but are likely interested in what the business has to offer.
According to Google, “AdWords advertisers who implement click to call see an 8 percent increase in their click-through rate.” In other words, having a call button on sponsored ads and organic results will likely increase interest and sales.
Add your number to AdWords If you use AdWords, why not add your phone number as a phone extension to the next ad. As the research shows, this could lead to an increase in calls and interest from potential customers. When you add your number as a phone extension, the call button will appear on ads for mobiles, and as a number for tablet and desktop users. Here’s how you can do that:
Looking to learn more about AdWords, or to launch an AdWords campaign? Why not contact us to see how we can help.
Social media has quickly become an integral component of marketing and brand strategies of companies the world over. Many businesses now view this platform as an essential tool, largely because that’s where new customers can be found. Because social media changes at such a rapid pace though it can be tough as a small business to keep up and keep on top of current trends.
Here is an overview of five common social media trends that small to medium businesses should be aware of.
1. Visual content rules Being successful with social media efforts means that you need to have engaging content. Sure written content will get likes and interest, but it’s visual content that seems to really engage viewers.
According to a recent study by Kissmetrics, “photos get 53% more Likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than posts containing text only.” If you don’t already post visual content, like pictures and videos, it may be time to start looking into how you can do this. One great platform that enables this is Instagram. You can also take great quality pics from a smartphone and post them directly onto Facebook.
2. Search and social media are one and the same With the recent release of Facebook’s Graph Search, increase of Google+ related content in Google Search, and Google now indexing various social media activity, it’s quickly becoming essential for a business to have a presence on various social media platforms. The key point to be aware of here is that Internet search results will likely continue to pull results from various social media platforms, so, you need be active on several of them.
3. Social media monetization Businesses are really starting to realize the important role social media sites like Facebook can play in branding and advertising. Companies are starting to take advantage of paid advertising, like Facebook’s Ads, that ensures content is displayed to relevant users or user groups. These paid advertisements have proven to be largely successful for many small businesses.
4. Social currency Social currency is the idea of capitalizing on resources that are discovered by having a presence on social media. Essentially this means leveraging your presence on social media to explore new customer related trends and gain insight into what your customers are doing online and what they want. You can then use this information to create new products, or content related to customer wants, that will not only increase engagement but potentially sales too.
5. Microblogging The popularity of sites related to microblogging e.g., Twitter, is still on the rise. The more popular microblogging sites are actually ones that are more visual, like Vine and Instagram. These short posts allow users to share what is going on through images. As we said above, visual content really is key. If you can create posts using these microblogging sites, you are in a good position to see an increase in engagement with your customers – they will enjoy seeing what you are doing, as long as you don’t bombard them.
These are just five social media trends but there are many more. Which ones have you noticed and how have they worked for your business? Let us know and share your social media experiences.
Security is important for any size business and an issue that many struggle with. For small to medium sized businesses, there are numerous security options, one being Exchange Online Protection, an online email security platform which can prove to be really effective if adopted in your business. This service, commonly found in Microsoft Office 365 plans could be beneficial for many companies.
This article is an overview of Microsoft’s Exchange Online Protection (EOP).
What exactly is EOP? EOP is an online, hosted email security solution. Its job is to filter out spam and remove malicious software and malware from emails. It costs USD$1.00 per user/account per month, and is included for free in Exchange Online and Office 365 for business subscription packages.
This cloud based service can be accessed and administered through a Web-based console – the Exchange Administration Centre – which allows you to manage filters, manage tasks and add or delete users. Administrators can also access reports and manage quarantined files.
How EOP works Think of EOP as an extra layer of email based security. It sits before your network and scans emails, deleting viruses and spam before they actually enter your network and can potentially damage your systems. It will also scan emails that go out of the organization for malicious content before they reach other inboxes or networks.
Three major benefits of EOP Using an email security solution like EOP can provide businesses of all sizes with many benefits. Here are three:
Of course, if you work with an IT partner, they should take care of managing EOP for you, so all you have to do is look at the monthly reports and maybe check the quarantine fields, which makes this a nearly effortless solution. If you would like to learn more about EOP, or other email security solutions, why not contact us? We may have a program that meets your needs.