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Wake up and enjoy a virtual “Cappuccino” with family and friends

(TECH NEWS) A new app, Cappuccino, is a “daily personal audio show featuring your friends”, and it sounds delightful, refreshing, and easy to use.

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friends talking

A lot has shifted for us since earlier in 2020 that sometimes feels like we have lived multiple years within a few months. We’ve had to learn and adjust to a new way of working and living; current times have had us rely heavily on technology and we cannot see friends in person or attend live events.

Zoom, for example, saw an increase in users from 10 million to over 200 million, seemingly overnight, this past spring. MS Teams was also quickly utilized or accelerated in many workplaces for virtual meetings and presentations, going from 31 million to 75 million daily active users in a month. Microsoft commented that this was like everyone learning about 2 years’ worth of technology in less than a quarter of that time.

Our heads might be spinning, but as humans, we adapt; there are many people looking to make the best out of these tough times and focus on what really matters in life. We also may be grieving the old routines and we all know that things will not “go back to normal” as we move forward in 2020. With the endless uncertainty (especially with new school years starting), it’s definitely a time of high curiosity as to how COVID-19 will change our habits and practices in the long run – What will school and work look like, and will there be more flexibility after this? When can we hang out in-person with our loved ones again?

The one thing that cannot be ignored during all the uncertainty is that we still need human connection; we need to feel a sense of belonging and to share experiences. Some of us may be feeling this need a lot more if we haven’t been able to visit family nor invite friends over for a fun and relaxing weekend dinner to escape our normal daily routines.

While there’s no replacement to in-person hangouts, a new app, Cappuccino, offers a fun and unique way to keep in touch with loved ones.

Cappuccino is a “daily personal audio show featuring your friends”; it’s a new way to connect with people, unlike other social media platforms that may require more effort. You can create a group and listening to daily podcasts, featuring the voices of your friends. You can listen in while drinking your cup of joe, get quick updates, and hopefully a few laughs to start your day. Because they are audio, users don’t have to worry about being “video ready”, creating the perfectly angled selfie, or taking the time to type anything out (no fat thumbs or pointer fingers on the wee little keyboard).

While being able to download and create groups is currently only available on iOS, you can join a group on Android.  The directions seem really simple and sound very appealing via ProductHunt:

  • RECORD A BEAN: Tap the microphone and start recording. Talk about your day, tell a joke or share a thought and send it to your close friends and family.
  • LISTEN TO YOUR CAPPUCCINO: (mix of your friends’ beans) every morning at 8 am.
  • SMILE.

Here’s a stellar review:

“I’m fortunate to have been using this product since day 1 and found it to be such a breakthrough for keeping in touch with my closest friends (all from outside the tech world!), especially as we all live in different cities around the world. It quickly becomes part of your daily routine (and low key therapeutic) to take 2 mins out of your day to reflect on what you’ve been up to/how you’re feeling/any challenges you’re facing/or just to summarize the news in your life, and frictionlessly record those thoughts to share with your friends. The following morning, it became such a joy to play my cappuccino as I’m getting ready for the day ahead, and have my morning filled with the voices and stories of my closest friends.”

This might be a great way to start the day and a chance for some of us to finally be one of those morning DJs. Somehow, this also sounds more appealing than going down a rabbit hole on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

App name: Cappuccino – closer to friends

App Store Link

If this sounds interesting to you, and you’ve been looking for non-typical ways to connect, you may also like Marco Polo, which allows you to video “chat” with friends without have to be available at the same time (like you would with FaceTime). Instead, you record your video message and your friend can watch/respond when they have time. This has been a great way to stay connected with friends when we cannot get together in person. It has also been nice because while a text is quick, sometimes it’s hard to relay context and emotion when you’re trying to be short and sweet.

These are just a few examples of good ways that technology is keeping us connected and lifting our spirits in tough times.

Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

Tech News

Onboarding for customers and employees made easy

(TECH NEWS) Cohere enables live, virtual onboarding at bargain prices to help you better support and guide your users.

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onboarding made easy

Web development and site design may be straightforward, but that doesn’t mean your customers won’t get turned around when reviewing your products. Onboarding visitors is the simplest solution, but is it the easiest?

According to Cohere–a live, remote onboarding tool–the answer is a resounding yes.

Cohere claims to be able to integrate with your website using “just 2 lines of code”; after completing this integration, you can communicate with, guide, and show your product to any site visitor upon request. You’ll also be able to see what customers are doing in real time rather than relying on metrics, making it easy to catch and convert customers who are on the fence, due to uncertainty or confusion.

There isn’t a screen-share option in Cohere’s package, but what they do include is a “multiplayer” option in which your cursor will appear on a customer’s screen, thus enabling you to guide them to the correct options; you can also scroll and type for your customer, all the while talking them through the process as needed. It’s the kind of onboarding that, in a normal world, would have to take place face-to-face–completely tailored for virtual so you don’t have to.

You can even use Cohere to stage an actual demo for customers, which accomplishes two things: the ability to pare down your own demo page in favor of live options, and minimizing confusion (and, by extension, faster sales) on the behalf of the customer. It’s a win-win situation that streamlines your website efficiency while potentially increasing your sales.

Naturally, the applications for Cohere are endless. Using this tool for eCommerce or tech support is an obvious choice, but as virtual job interviews and onboarding become more and more prevalent, one could anticipate Cohere becoming the industry example for remote inservice and walkthroughs.

Hands-on help beats written instructions any day, so if companies are able to allocate the HR resources to moderate common Cohere usage, it could be a huge win for those businesses.

For those two lines of code (and a bit more), you’ll pay anywhere from $39 to $129 for the listed packages. Custom pricing is available for larger businesses, so you may have some wiggle room if you’re willing to take a shot at implementing Cohere business-wide.

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Tech News

Smart clothing could be used to track COVID-19

(TECH NEWS) In order to track and limit the spread of COVID-19 smart clothing may be the solution we need to flatten the curve–but at what cost?

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COVID tracking clothing

When most people hear the phrase “smart clothing”, they probably envision wearables like AR glasses or fitness trackers, but certainly not specially designed fabrics to indicate different variables about the people wearing them–including, potentially, whether or not someone has contracted COVID-19.

According to Politico, that’s exactly what clinical researchers are attempting to create.

The process started with Apple and Fitbit using their respective wearables to attempt to detect COVID-19 symptoms in wearers. This wouldn’t be the first time a tech company got involved with public health in this context; earlier this year, for example, Apple announced a new Watch feature that would call 911 if it detected an abnormal fall. The NBA also attempted to detect outbreaks in players by providing them with Oura Rings–another smart wearable.

While these attempts have yet to achieve widespread success, optimism toward smart clothing–especially things like undershirts–and its ability to report adequately someone’s symptoms, remains high.

The smart clothing industry has existed in the context of monitoring health for quite some time. The aforementioned tech giants have made no secret of integrating health- and wellness-centric features into their devices, and companies like Nanowear have even gone so far as to create undergarments that track things like the wearer’s heart rate.

It’s only fitting that these companies would transition to COVID assessment, containment, and prevention in the shadow of the pandemic, though they aren’t the only ones doing so. Indeed, innovators from all corners of the United States are set to participate in a “rapid testing solutions” competition–the end goal being a cheap, fast, easy-to-use wearable option to help flatten the curve. The “cheap” aspect is perhaps the most difficult; as Politico says, the majority of people have a general understanding of how to use wearable technology.

Perhaps more importantly, the potential for HIPPA violations via data access is high–and, during a period of time in which people are more suspicious of technology companies than ever, vis-a-vis data sharing, privacy could be a significant barrier to the creation, distribution, and use of otherwise crucial smart clothing.

There is no denying that the Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated, among other things, technological advancement in ways unseen by many of us alive today. Only time will tell if smart clothing–life-saving potential and all–becomes part of that trend.

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Tech News

Say goodbye to browser cookies – Google wants to give you ‘trust tokens’

(TECH NEWS) Google plans to do away with third-party cookies in favor of “trust tokens”. The question is, will they gain our trust?

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Privacy concerns should be at an all-time high with the sheer number of people working from home–something that may have been factored into Google’s recent decision to begin phasing out third-party cookies in their Chrome browser.

In doing so, Chrome would join browsers such as Safari and Firefox–two popular alternatives that have been more proactive about protecting user privacy in the past, according to The Verge.

Cookies, for those who don’t know, are small pieces of information stored on your computer by websites you visit; when third-party cookies are downloaded from these sites, they can track your activity across the internet, thus resulting in unpleasantries like targeted ads and location-based services appearing in your browser.

It’s all a little too accurate to your habits for comfort, so Google is proposing a separate solution: trust tokens.

No, trust tokens are not the newest form of currency on CBS Survivor–they’re “smart” iterations of cookies that will validate your access to a specific website without tracking you once you leave that page. This way, you get to keep your website-specific data–passwords, usernames, and preferences–without having your privacy encroached upon any more than Google already does (admittedly, that doesn’t sound like much of a change, but bear with us).

The real catch for trust tokens is that they don’t actually identify you the way that cookies do, and while some of the side effects of trust tokens may resemble cookie use–e.g., advertisers knowing you clicked on their ad–tokens are a decidedly less personal, more private way to access web content.

Google isn’t just throwing out third-party cookies as a gesture, it seems. Along with the announcement about trust tokens, Google mentioned that they plan to create more transparency around ads–specifically by allowing you to see why you’re seeing a specific ad and from whom and where the ad originated. An extension to help lend additional information about ads is also in the works.

These changes are expected to be implemented within the year. For now, though, you should stick to Firefox or Safari if you’re worried about cookies–you’ll be able to get back to your Chrome tabs soon enough.

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