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Technology tip: Android app reveals area nuisances

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We recently brought you 13 killer Android applications and recently discovered another can’t live without app that could make your life as an agent more simple.

Suburb Scout is an Android app that helps buyers or agents locate the negative aspects of a home ranging from nearby landfills, airports, sewage treatment centers and the like. As an agent, there are certain questions you can’t answer based on Fair Housing laws and then there are other questions that are purely speculation or opinion on your part that can be seen as steering.

If you have a sensitive client who expresses reservations over nuisances or asks the inevitable “I just saw a plane, exactly how far away is the airport?” question, you can hook them up with this app in preparation for a home tour, and they might be able to save you time by eliminating homes that they would never consider living in.

We asked the creators of Suburb Scout what their inspiration was for designing this app and Scott Kersey of 9:15 Software said, “I was looking at a brand new subdivision in an unfamiliar part of town. I knew there was a sewage plant nearby but didn’t know the exact location or even the street. I asked the home builder’s salesperson but I could tell they were reluctant to answer and tried to defer. This didn’t sit very well with me, obviously. A few days later, I finally uncovered the location on an aerial map, about 2 miles from that subdivision, even the city’s own website was not very forthcoming about the actual location. This was the original genesis of the idea, a desire to have my questions answered and/or suspicions confirmed.”

Empowering clients in ways that free you from opining or defending is a huge time saver and really a service to the clients themselves. In an era of low trust levels not only of this industry but of information itself, this app fills a need that investors and agents have had for a while as this information is not always readily available.

We asked Kersey what improvements or features may be added to Suburb Scout, to which he noted that they are “thinking about adding railroad crossings, as that is another nuisance that is hard to clarify unless you are in the area at the exact time one goes by and blasts the horn. Ultimately, I’d like the users of Suburb Scout to tell me what they would like.”

Suburb Scout was very enthusiastic when asked about how they feel about user input or feedback and even showed us that they have a voting tool on the website for anyone to cast their vote for porting Suburb Scout to the IPhone, Blackberry, Nokia or Windows platforms. Kersey said, “If the demand is there, we will build it for additional platforms.”

Screen shots:

Correction: original article alluded to this app being free, however it is actually $1.99.

AgentGenius.com has no affiliation with Suburb Scout or 9:15 Software.

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37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Stacie Wells

    August 24, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    My new Droid just came in the mail today. I’m loving your list of apps. Thanks!

    • Lani Rosales

      August 24, 2010 at 11:16 pm

      When you’ve played with some of them, let me know what you think!!!

  2. www.hermanchan.com

    August 25, 2010 at 4:14 am

    love this post lani (especially since the maps are from my backyard, Silicon Valley!).

    i wonder why it is callled *Suburb* Scout…was it just for cute alliteration purposes or does it really focus more on suburbs. I only ask b/c San Jose is by no means a suburb, so i was a tad confused.

  3. Jim Gatos

    August 25, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Free?

    They are asking $1.99..

    Hardly much but NOT free…

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:11 am

      Agreed- it has been corrected 🙂 Thanks Jim!

  4. Charlie Pitkin

    August 25, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Nice, but it’s not free. It is listed for $1.99 in the market.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:08 am

      You’re right and the correction has been made. Good eye, Charlie 🙂

  5. Jason Improta - Calabasas Homes for Sale

    August 25, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Cool! There are always lists of app recommendations for the iPhone. Love the Android suggestions. Thanks!

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:09 am

      Perhaps I’m biased because I’m not nor do I plan to be an iPhone owner (unless they ever join evil forces with Sprint who I’ve been with for over 10 years). 🙂

  6. Diana Hoyt

    August 25, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I wish I had an Android phone! They came out at Verizon just after I purchased my HTC Touch Pro 2 – which I love, but there are SO many more apps available for Androids. Still have another 8 months or so before I can upgrade. Pooh!

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:11 am

      8 months will be here before you know it and by then, even COOLER phones will be available!

  7. Megan Barber

    August 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Not a free app ($1.99 in the app store), but very cool none the less. I’ve had my Droid for a few months and I am LOVING it. Happy to finally see some recommended Droid apps for real estate since everyone else seems to be all about the iPhone.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 25, 2010 at 11:12 am

      I can’t wait until the Droid app library fills up like the iPhone app library!! That will be cool!

  8. Rob McCance

    August 28, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Lani,

    Very cool!

    I’ve got a BB and a iPhone. May be time to add a Android.

    🙂

    RM

  9. mooersrealty

    September 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Motorola Devour working well, hanging from the utility belt with the big dark blue “R” on the quick release aircraft metal buckle. The Scout app for a town of 7500 might not be on the stocking stuff list for rural small tuff property peddlers.

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Social Media

Can Twitter ever secure data privacy, like even once?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Twitter releases private information affecting already hurting businesses, should this even be a surprise anymore? They have a history of privacy breaches.

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twitter privacy

Dear Twitter,

I don’t know if you’ve seen the news within the past two years, but Facebook’s been under continuous scrutiny for privacy malpractices that affected millions of its users, so unless your goal is to be the next social network to infringe upon our first amendment right to privacy, I suggest you GET IT TOGETHER!

Over the weekend, users, specifically businesses, realized their billing information was being stored in their browsers cache. This is devastating news for business owners who rely on Twitter to promote their product, or stay in touch with their customers, who over the recent months have already faced monumental challenges. It is hard as a business owner to not feel this is an intentional overreach of privacy.

In an age where we have actual robots to vacuum our floors, and 3D printing, I speak for the people when I say this is unacceptable.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has been caught privacy breaching. A little over a year ago, Twitter announced that they were fixing a bug, many weren’t even aware of, that released phone numbers, location, and other personal data. AND GET THIS, even those who selected the option to keep their information private were affected, so what the hell is the point of asking us our preference in the first place?!!!

What about the time that Twitter accounts could be highjacked by ISIS and used to spread propaganda? All because Twitter didn’t require an email confirmation for account access. Or what about when Twitter stored your passwords in plaintext instead of something easily more secure. Flaws like these show a distinct ability of Twitter to just half ass things; to make it work, but not think about how to keep the users safe.

Like I said in the beginning, get it together Twitter.

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Social Media

Facebook’s Forecast wants ‘qualified’ predictions, but no one’s asking why

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook is asking a bunch of so-called experts to chime in on what the future holds, but can we trust them with the information we’re giving them?

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Forecast app

These days, trolls don’t necessarily lurk beneath bridges in order to ensnare unsuspecting travelers. Instead, they hide out in the comment sections on social media posts, ready to incite wrath and stir up controversy with their incendiary remarks. Because Facebook knows how quickly reasonable discourse can quickly devolve thanks in part to these online trolls, they’ve made a move to establish intelligent discussions through their new “Forecast” app.

The premise of Forecast is fairly straightforward. Facebook has invited an assortment of so-called experts (whether they work in the medical field or academia, or some other field) to cast their vote on predictions about the future. Not only will they share their vote, though, they’ll also pitch in their own two cents about these predictions, sparking what is expected to be insightful and reasonable conversation about the topics.

However, while the premise is exciting (smart people! not basement dwellers! talking about serious stuff!), there’s more than a small amount of risk associated with Forecast. For starters, what exactly is Facebook planning on doing with all of this information that is being volunteered on their app? And secondly, are they going to take precautions to help prevent the spread of misinformation when these results are eventually published?

The fact is, Facebook is notorious for propagating and spreading misinformation. Now, I’m not blaming Facebook itself for this issue. Rather, the sheer volume of its user base inevitably leads to flame wars and dishonesty. You can’t spell “Fake News” with at least a couple of the same letters used in Facebook. Or something like that. The problem arises when people see the results of these polls, recognize that the information is being presented by these hand-picked experts, and then immediately takes them at face value.

It’s not so much that most people are simple minded or unable to think for themselves; rather, they’re primed to believe that the admittedly educated guesses from these experts are somehow better, smarter, than what would be presented to them by the average layperson. The bias is inherent in the selection process of who is and isn’t allowed to vote. By excluding everyday folks like you and me (I certainly wasn’t given an invite!), undue prestige may be attributed to these projections.

At the moment, many of these projections are silly bits of fluff. One question asks, “Will Tiger King on Netflix get a spinoff season?” Another one wonders, “Will Mulan debut on Disney+ at the same time as or instead of a theatrical release?” But other questions? Well, they’re a little more serious than that. And speculating on serious issues (such as COVID-19, or the presidential election) can lead to the spread of serious — and potentially dangerous — misinformation.

Facebook has implemented very strict guidelines about what types of questions are allowed and which ones are forbidden. That, at least, is a step in the right direction. It’s no secret that expectation can actually lead to the predicted outcomes, directly influencing actions and behaviors. While it’s too early to tell if Forecast will ever gain that much power, it undoubtedly puts us in a position of wondering if and when intervention may be necessary.

But I’ll be honest with you: I don’t exactly trust Facebook’s ability to put this cultivated information to good use. Sometimes a troll doesn’t have to be overtly provocative in order to be effective, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see someone in a position of power exploit the results of these polls to influence the public. It’ll be interesting to see if Forecast is still around in the next few years, but alas, there’s no option for me to submit my vote on that to find out.

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Social Media

Well established Pinterest has a new competitor, Google Keen

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Google is constantly playing catch up, their new target is Pinterest. They have a new photo sharing social media app called Google Keen.

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Google Keen

It looks like Pinterest might finally have some competition: Google Keen. Notice the heavy emphasis on the word “might”.

It’s not hard to see why Google might feel a tad encroached upon by Pinterest, a photo-sharing and search-based platform; while Pinterest’s impact is relatively small in terms of taking traffic from the G-people themselves, any competition is unwelcome in Google’s eyes–perhaps justifying their move toward creating their own version of Pinterest.

Google Keen isn’t a direct ripoff–after all, they changed the name–but the general principle is the same: Users can create a “keen” for a specific visual topic, thus allowing them to search for, and add images of that topic. Google was quick to cite “bread” as a possible topic, which, according to Social Media Today, is a direct nod to recent Pinterest trends.

Subtlety never was Google’s strongest suit, and that seems to be a theme they’re reiterating here. Perhaps that’s why the Google Graveyard, a site we’ve addressed in the past, is full of tools that didn’t live up to their original inspiration (one of the latest additions being the half-baked Google Hangouts). Google Keen shows promise, but one can’t help but remember how Google’s Circles feature fared in Facebook’s shadow.

Keen is available for web and Android platforms, which answers one question while raising a few more. For example, while it makes sense that Google would brand Keen for their own smartphone audience, iPhone Google usage is notably high, and the Pinterest crowd loves a clean aesthetic (that’s another point in the Apple camp). As such, it might be in Google’s best Pinterests–I mean, interests–to implement an iPhone presence for the app as well.

It is worth noting that Google has taken deliberate inspiration from Pinterest in a lot of ways. So Keen may be a way for them to tout their adopted features and familiarize users with them so that, in the long run, they are able to begin migrating traffic back to their own platform from Pinterest. In a time in which any competition may open the door to disaster down the road, this is a move that, despite skepticism, makes sense.

After all, the Google Graveyard is operating at capacity, yet the tech behemoth continues to chug away. Who knows where their newest “innovation” may take them?

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