My Trip to the Apple Store

My Poor, Cracked iPhoneA few weeks ago, I dropped my iPhone and cracked the screen (see accompanying picture of my poor iPhone).

I don’t use a smartphone case (I know, I know), but I also haven’t dropped my phone in 8 years. So I was bummed.

Oh well – time to visit the Apple Store! I found out that they’ll replace your broken iPhone screen (for $109+tax). That was cheaper than other smartphone-fix-it places in town, so I decided to go for it (after pieces of screen started flaking off in my pocket).

Here’s what happened during my trip to the Apple Store.

First, finding information on Apple’s website about the repair process was really easy to do. At Apple’s website, you simply click Support, then iPhone, then Repair. Then choose the huge button that says “Screen Damage” (guess I’m not the only one who drops their phone).

I love what this page says: “Accidents happen. Sometimes a screen can get cracked or shattered. We’re here to help.”

After that, I was able to choose Make an Appointment. The only bad thing about that is that there are no Apple Stores in Topeka, KS. So I drove about an hour to the Kansas City area, and visited the Leawood, KS store.

Interrupting my own story for a sec. So far, my “visit” has been online, and it has been excellent. No clicking around, no confused hunting for stuff. Nothing worded weird or lingo-y. Everything made sense, and I was quickly able to follow the trail to my “destination” – the “Make an Appointment” page.

And they reassured me about dropping my phone by saying “accidents happen … we’re here to help.”

OK – back to the story. The in-store experience was just as good.

When I was about 5 feet from the store entrance, I received a notification (see the image) welcoming me to the store, reminding me about my Genius Bar reservation, and telling me what to do next (check in).

Remember my articles awhile back about iBeacon technology? Apple Stores use it, so I was able to see it in action.

On the other side of the door was an Apple Store employee, ready to greet me and help me figure out what to do next (i.e., check in). Once checked in, I browsed around the store for awhile … and then another Apple Store employee was able to find me (via my iPhone – iBeacons in use again).

She walked me through the process, took my phone …. and told me it would be a 2 hour wait (it was a really busy Saturday at the Apple Store!). So I goofed off at a nearby Guitar Center for awhile (and played a sweet bass guitar), then went back to the Apple Store.

My phone was ready, so yet another Apple Store employee brought my iPhone out to me, made sure it worked fine, and then helped me pay, right where I was. I didn’t have to go stand in a line.

My iPhone is back to normal. Yay!

Here’s what I noticed. At the Apple Store, the experience was built around me:

  • I received a reminder about my appointment right at the door.
  • I was greeted by a friendly Apple Store employee.
  • Apple Store staff were easy to find, because they all wore matching blue shirts.
  • I could browse around the store until they were ready, and then they found me.
  • When it was time to pay, I paid right where I was. I didn’t have to stand in a line or go up to a check out counter.
  • The website provided a similar experience – it was designed to move me to the information I needed, when I needed it.
  • And of course, they did pretty much everything using an iPad. Without an attached keyboard.

I think libraries should be more like this! Think through my story, and compare it to your library:

  • Are your customers greeted at the door?
  • Are your staff easy to find, or do they blend in?
  • Do staff approach customers, or do customers have to approach staff and a desk to get help?
  • When ready to check out, can customers do it anywhere, or do they have to stand in a line or approach a desk?
  • How about your website? Is it designed to move customers to the right place at the right time, with the best information? Or is it more of a jumbled mess of information and services?

No, I’m not necessarily suggesting that libraries buy matching shirts for everyone. But I DO think we can learn a thing or two from the Apple Store. And I think we can make our in-library and on-the-website experiences better than they are now.

Using Visual Tools as Reminder Helpers

Do you use your smartphone’s camera as a reminder helper? I sure do! Check this video out – in it, I offer two simple tips (one involving my iPhone camera) to remember where you parked your car at the airport.

I also use my iPhone camera to help me remember things like this:

  • Books I want to read. I take photos of books I want to read (yes, I take photos of book covers at Barnes & Noble, then check them out at the library).
  • Errands at a store. If I need to buy something that I have at home, like a certain cleaner, I will take a photo of the bottle, then use that to find the right one at the store.
  • Storing a reminder image for later. I actually have a photo of my vacuum cleaner bag package stored in Evernote. This way, when I’m out and about and remember “oh yeah, I need to buy vacuum cleaner bags,” I’ll be able to get the right one.

How about you? Do you use your camera to help you remember stuff? Let me know!

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!

Smartphones, Libraries, and your website

I was just looking at March 2012 statistics on my library’s website. Here’s what I saw:

  • 39,161 visits to our website in March
  • 3486 visits via a mobile device.
  • that means slightly more than 11% visited via a mobile device
  • Those devices? Mainly iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches – 57.89%
  • That fits with the web browsers that visited our site – 14.11% were Safari (think ithingies here)

Now look at Pew’s newest Smartphone Update, released on March 1: 46% of American adults are smartphone owners as of Feb 2012. There was an increase of 11% in just 9 months.

And check this out – it’s not just wealthy people getting smartphones:

“Nearly every major demographic group—men and women, younger and middle-aged adults, urban and rural residents, the wealthy and the less well-off—experienced a notable uptick in smartphone penetration over the last year. Overall adoption levels are at 60% or more within several cohorts, such as college graduates, 18-35 year olds and those with an annual household income of $75,000 or more.”

So my question to you: are you designing for mobile? A mobile app, or a mobile website?

If you haven’t yet started building with mobile in mind, now is definitely the time to start – you are very close to alienating almost half your customers. They are interacting with their favorite sites online using their smartphone (think Facebook, Amazon, Youtube, etc.).

Wanna be one of those favorite sites too? Then you had better get that mobile site up and running FAST.

smartphone photo by Bigstock

Twitter Apps for the iPhone

I have been using Twitter’s iPhone app for iPhone tweeting … but since their recent update, the app hasn’t worked well for me. I just tested it – it took 5-6 seconds to open, then when I clicked on Connect, it took about 1 minute to actually show me any tweet replies. Every page of the app has been irritating that way.

So a couple nights ago, I asked some Twitter peeps what their favorite iPhone Twitter apps were … and received some great responses, including:

  • Tweetbot – this is the one I settled on for now. Why? The layout works for me, and Tweetbot does one thing I’ve wanted for awhile – have the main screen default to a list (see the accompanying screenshot) instead of the full timeline. I rarely follow the timeline feed. Instead, I created a shorter list of people I want to follow (ok – actually a few different lists), then follow that list. Makes twitter much easier to handle.
  • Echofon – I have used this early on. It’s still a really nice Twitter app.
  • Hootsuite for iPhone – I have this, but haven’t used it much. As far as I can tell, there is no Push setting. So, to see new Twitter replies using Hootsuite, you would need to open up Hootsuite and refresh to see if you received anything new (rather than just letting the Twitter app handle this via a Push). Not useful to me!
  • Osfoora – heard of it, never used it.
  • Twitter – the app made by Twitter that I just complained about…
  • Seesmic – never used the iPhone app.
  • Tweetdeck – I have it, but it’s been pretty buggy for me so I rarely use the iPhone version.
  • Tweetings – never heard of it.
  • … and the Twitter app for android, with a smiley face attached. I’m sure it’s dandy for all you Android users :-)

Is your Twitter app working for you? If not, try out one of these, and share what you like/don’t like about them!