App Advisory at the Library

my first screen of appsLibraries have recommended stuff to customers for years. Reader’s advisory. Video suggestions. New music to listen to. Ways to start a research project.

Why not app advisory?

Think about it. What do over half of your customers have? Smartphones. And easy access to the app store. What they don’t have is a trusted app “curator” – someone who can recommend the best apps.

What would that look like? I’ll start us off:

  • Best new apps of the month
  • Popular apps
  • Apps connected to a season (i.e., it’s summer, so apps with grilling suggestions. Yes, they exist).
  • Suggestions on how to use an app
  • And of course, you’d mention library-related apps. Ebook apps. Your ILS app, if you have one. etc.

This also means that we would need to have easy access to apps, and have a small app budget. And a variety of smartphones and tablets – both iOS and Android – to play with.

App recommendation for your community. Could be cool. What do you think?

What did we do before the Web?

Google Hangout with people from SpainOn Wednesday, I was at Rutgers University for the day, visiting with LIS students and giving an evening presentation on makerspaces. The presentation went great – here’s a link to my slides.

That afternoon, I had the privilege of visiting Joyce Valenza‘s LIS class. Her class is focused on social media, and the students discussed QR codes and AR (augmented reality).

Most of the students had smartphones, so they were able to test out some AR apps, like Layar and ChromVille, during the class. I even helped a bit, by answering questions and showing how the app connected to the book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore works.

But this is 2014, so Joyce also called the ChromVille developers (who live in Spain) using Google Hangouts, and the LIS students were able to have a really cool conversation with them (and with Shannon Miller, who also visited via the hangout).

The photo in this post shows the developers previewing their not-yet-released updated version of ChromVille to the students.

Just sorta mind-boggling to me. I graduated from Library School in 1995 (University of Tennessee). Technology things like LCD projectors existed, but were hard to deal with. Video conferencing was around, but didn’t work all that great. Most of my classes involving that type of technology were spent, quite honestly, watching the professors trying to make things work.

Today however, that stuff is so much easier. If you have adequate wifi, you can connect to practically anyone in the world. Wow.

Besides Google Hangouts, Joyce was using some online content curation tools, some Ed Tech stuff I’d never heard of, and Dropbox as part of her class. And probably a whole bunch of other handy online tools, too. All of which help make her class easy to deal with – collaboration and connecting with her and other students (and app developers in Spain) is a breeze.

The coolest thing? All of this technology helps make the face-to-face class time that much more enriching.

We’ve come a long way, huh?

 

My Smartphone has Replaced these Things

I’ve noticed that I use my iPhone for a bunch of stuff that I used to have another device or system for. Here’s what I mean:

  • Paper plane tickets: I recently started using e-tickets with the iPhone’s Passbook. Works great, and I don’t have to carry rumpled-up paper tickets anymore.
  • Guitar tuner: I use Guitar Toolkit for that. It’s actually the most accurate tuner I’ve ever owned!
  • Metronome: I now have lots of app-based metronomes, so there’s no need for a hardware-based metronome anymore.
  • Drum machine: I tend to use drum machines for metronomes. On my iPhone, I use DrumTrack8, and on my iPad, I use DM1. Both are fabulous.
  • Alarm clock: I use the built-in Clock app, and it works great. No need for a travel alarm clock, or a hotel wake-up call anymore!
  • Bible: YouVersion from Lifechurch.tv. Coolest Bible app ever.
  • Camera: I still use fancier cameras, but for a simple point-and-shoot? My iPhone is great at that – as long as I don’t need to zoom.
  • Encyclopedia: What’s that? I have Google/Wikipedia/etc. In my pocket.
  • Newspaper: There are a TON of news apps. I do most of my iOS news reading via the Flipboard app.
  • Weather radio: I live in Kansas. I need to know when those tornado warnings go off. My TWC Max app from The Weather Channel goes off when the weather does.
  • Notebook: See my last post on iA Writer and Byword. But I still like a good Moleskine notebook and a pencil, too.
  • Calculator: the default iOS calculator app is always with me…
  • Calendar/Daytimer: Currently using Tempo and Any.DO for these.
  • Exercise book or video: Currently using the brutal YAYOG (You Are Your Own Gym) app. Pretty handy!
  • Voice recorder for reminders: There are a ton of apps for this, too. I frequently use Evernote for this.

Do you use your smartphone or tablet for things you used to carry around? Extra gadgets that did unique things for you? Share in the comments!

Cool tools I’ve Discovered at SXSW (so far)

So I’m at SXSW 2013 this week, and I’m learning about some really cool, potentially useful apps, tools, etc. Here’s a partial list of some of them:

CratePlayer – I met the CEO of this startup, and he described CratePlayer like this: think Pinterest, but for media of all types, like video and music. Their website says this: “CratePlayer lets you discover, collect, play and share your favorite online media all in one place.” Nice. They call the Pinterest board-like thing a “crate.” So for a library, gather local media, news media, subject-specific or educational media into a crate, and share away!

Takes – a new iPhone camera app that turns your pictures into videos. Might be useful for video creation!

WeVideo – cool new online video editor. This one is freemium, as in the free version is fine, but to get HD videos and more than 15 minutes of exports, you have to pay a monthly fee. They told me that organizational pricing is available. So … instead of buying lots of copies of video editing software, think about using this online tool.

JumperCut – really interesting video tool. JumperCut lets you collaborate with others to make video. Think crowdsourced videos, multiple takes of the same scene, etc. And … then think about your smartphone-wielding teens. Could be a fun project!

modit – lots of basic online games that you can edit, or “mod,” using their browser-based editor. Then you can save it, share it, and play. This sounds like an easy way to make some localized games pretty easily! The guy I talked to mentioned making customized crossword puzzles, for example.

izik – a new search engine app built for smartphones and tablets. It has a more “Pinterest-like” search results display, and is built on top of Blekko (though the search results for the same searches come out different using the two tools … not sure what’s up with that).

meltwater – an online social media monitoring, management, and engagement service. Looked pretty extensive (but they didn’t tell me how much the service costs).

Nestivity – this looks interesting to Twitter users. It turns your Twitter handle into a “nest,” which helps you better organize, track, and save Twitter conversations. Analytics are provided, and the archive of the conversation is saved.

simplemachine – this looked cool. It’s a peer-to-peer cinema marketplace that allows anyone to book films for exhibition in a theatrical setting (think public viewing of videos). That generally costs money – with simplemachine, they’ve already done the hard work of tracking down the rights holder, and act like a go-between broker (so you don’t have to).

Xi3 – one cool newish hardware tool – check out Xi3. They make really tiny, inexpensive (relatively), power-saving computers. Definitely an alternative to the larger companies like Dell or HP! The picture included in this blog post is one of the computers. Here’s another image of the same computer side-by-side with a smartphone, just to see how big it really is (and a very low-light, grainy image, too – sorry about that!). They had some of these bolted onto the backs of computer monitors – pretty tidy setup!

Treeswing – not really a library app at all. It’s a cool new financial investing tool, and looked sorta promising. Why am I mentioning it? Because it’s sponsored by DST in Kansas City … and I worked for DST during the summers while in college! That was in the 1980’s, and my big job was taking huge dot matrix printouts upstairs to the programmers, so they could actually look at the coding work they just did. Weird job in a weird time. My how times have changed!

How People Use Smartphones

My library’s Web Developer, Nathan Pauley, emailed this infographic to me, and it’s really cool! They studied smartphone use (or more accurately, it looks like they studied web and app use on smartphones, since they excluded email, sms messages, and voice calls from their infographic).

I’ve not clicked through to pay for the whole study, but this single page provides plenty of food for fodder:

  • 68% of smartphone use happens at home.
  • Love the different labels for stuff people do on their smartphones, like self-expression.

Two weird things:

  1. Self-expression – I guess this is where you’d put content creation? Posting to Tumblr or Instagram, for example? How do they tell the difference between a Facebook post that’s self-expression (writing a haiku, for example) vs a Facebook post that’s socializing?
  2. Socializing – why didn’t they just include email, sms messages, and normal voice phone stuff here?

Either way, take a peek, access the study (if it’s not too much – I haven’t clicked through), and give it some thought.