Author Archives: Jeb Brilliant

iOS_app

Practical Uses For The New Phone.com iPhone App

by Jeb Brilliant

The brand new Phone.com iPhone app is incredible. Can you tell that I am excited about it?  This app does what you would expect a smartphone application to do and much more!  It has helped me immensely and I thought I would share a few reasons why.

There are two aspects of the app I first want to highlight.  From an aesthetic perspective, it was beautifully designed by Andy, our lead app developer.  It is truly like no other app you have ever seen with its ability to draw the user in.

From a functionality standpoint, it allows you to place calls displaying your Phone.com number as Caller ID rather than your mobile number. You can also send and receive text messages, read and listen to voicemail, view your call logs, and initiate conference calls.  

Here are a couple ways the app makes my life just a little bit easier:

1.  I was recently visiting a friend in the hospital and there was absolutely no reception, making it difficult to use my mobile phone. That is, until I opened my Phone.com app and connected to the hospital Wi-Fi!  That is when I found out I can send text messages (SMS) over Wi-Fi!

2.  I was recently stuck in traffic and needed to make an overseas call. The problem was that I did not want to pay my carrier’s outrageous international calling rates.  Remembering that calls with the Phone.com app would only use my domestic cell phone minutes, I used the app to place the call instead.  The international call through the app didn’t incur a charge because Phone.com doesn’t bill an international rate for the country I needed to call.  Instead of my call costing $45, the bill was $0!

In both cases, Phone.com was able to keep me connected and save me money.  That is the power of the new, amazing and FREE Phone.com iPhone app. If you have an iPhone, download it today!

Google Is Not Supporting Push On Free Accounts

by Jeb Brilliant

missing_push_emailLike many Phone.com small business owners, I am a heavy user of everything Google.  Here are just some of their programs that I use:

  • Google Drive (Docs)
  • Google Calendar
  • Gmail
  • Gmail Address Book
  • Chrome Internet Browser
  • YouTube
  • Google Maps
  • Gmail App for my iPhone

Are there any I missed?  Needless to say I am heavily integrated into the Google ecosystem.

In a blog post last week I talked about Google’s announcement this past year to stop supporting Mail for Exchange (M4E).  Very simply put, this is the service that pushes email to your device and syncs your calendar and contacts.  Their December 2012 release was perfect for me considering I wouldn’t be upgrading to the new iPhone for another nine months.

Well, nine months flew by, Apple launched the iPhone 5s, and people all over the world were reminded that Google ended their free M4E support.  Subsequently, I spent the next few weeks searching high and low for a good solution with no success. Google Apps users had the option to pay $5 per user per month to continue using M4E.  I looked into moving to a paid Google Apps account but the process of moving all of my information and data was nearly impossible.

I proceeded to do what any normal person would have done in this situation.  I searched Google for an alternative.  As a result I found a temporary solution while I continue to search for something more permanent.  Currently, I read and send email via the built-in mail app for the iPhone.  In order to receive instant new message alerts I use the iOS Google app.  This is a convoluted solution but at least I receive immediate alerts for new email.  I would prefer to only use the built-in mail app.

If you would like to replicate my set up you will first need the Gmail app for iOS.  You can download this from the app store by searching for “Gmail.”  The first search result should be “Gmail” and it should say “Google, Inc” just below.  You will need to download the app to your iPhone and log in.  Notifications from the app should be activated by default.

The second step is to set the outgoing email to show your preferred email address.  This requires using the “Other” option when setting up email.  To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Mail, Contacts, Calendar
  3. Add Account
  4. Select Other rather than Google or Exchange
  5. Input your Gmail address
  6. Use imap.gmail.com for the Incoming Mail Server and smtp.gmail.com for the Outgoing Mail Server.
  7. Use your Gmail address and password for the SMTP server connection.

After you have saved your account you can go back and set your outgoing email address by following these steps:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Mail, Contacts, Calendar
  3. Select your new “Other” account
  4. Click the Account section that contains your email address
  5. Tap Email
  6. Type your preferred email address to send from (1 or more of them) and click Return on your keypad
  7. Tap the newly added email address
  8. Tap Account in the top left corner
  9. Tap Done at the top right and you are finished.

This sounds like an arduous process but it’s actually quite simple.  If you need help with anything I have outlined here, leave us a comment on our Facebook page and I will be happy to assist you.

In a future post I will explain how to add your calendar and contacts to your iPhone.

Source: The credit for this information goes to PrezJobs for their October 7 comment on the iMore blog post titled “Did you lose Gmail over Exchange when you upgraded to a new iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c? Here are your alternatives… such as they are…” 

Are You Missing Your Push Email?

by Jeb Brilliant

missing_push_emailAn interesting bit of news has flown under my radar for almost a year now that may impact your business.  In January of 2013, Google stopped supporting Microsoft’s service called Mail for Exchange (M4E) Activesync on any and all devices after the cutoff if you use one of their free plans.  By free plans I am referring to the free Google Apps accounts they previously gave away.  The free Google Apps plans were for small businesses to use Google services at no charge.  This service will continue with the exception of the Activesync.

M4E is what makes your “push” email work.  This is when you receive your email instantly on your phone versus now having to wait 15 minutes for it.  M4E has been an important mainstay for many businesses, but Google had to pay a licensing fee per user to Microsoft.  That may not seem like a big deal for a billion dollar company but they have given away a lot of free accounts over the years.  Additionally, this also affects people with @gmail.com emails.  No more instant email!

The solution to this problem is simple.  Pay Google approximately $5 per month per email address.  While this may be acceptable for those of us with one Gmail address, it comes as a shock for others who may have dozens of employees or email addresses set up for every aspect of their business.  I personally have never switched to Google Apps and have always used a Gmail email in a convoluted way.  So now I have to start a Google Apps account which is no problem but there is no easy way to transfer all of my data and information to it.  Google sadly has not made this an easy task.

In my next blog post I will explain what I have had to do to circumvent migrating to a Google Apps account and the hassle that goes along with it.  If you have a Gmail address or a free Google Apps account, your phone is not broken and there is no missing setting.  Google has simply killed off your push email.  Stay tuned to the Phone.com blog for a DIY solution.

Google Drive: Seven of Sixteen Secrets

by Jeb Brilliant

secrets_google_driveMany small business owners use Google Apps for email, calendar, contacts, advertising and a whole lot more, including their Google Drive service.

Google Drive includes word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation, form-creation and drawing services. Previously called Google Docs, the service is an indispensable tool for business people around the world. I came across an article this morning titled 16 Secrets of Google Drive in the online MACWORLD magazine. I don’t think all of these secrets are that secret but here are seven of my favorite tips from the article.

1. Search by Person

One of Google Drive’s best features is the ability to collaborate with others on a document in real time. With so many comments flying back and forth, however, it can sometimes be a challenge to find the one you’re looking for. Recently Google added the ability to search not only your documents, but to find documents by the name of people who share those docs with you. This is perfect if you can’t remember a document’s name, but you do remember who shared it. To use this feature, navigate to your drive in a web browser, click the Shared with Me link to the left, and then enter a person’s name in the search field. All documents owned by that person (or shared between the two of you) will appear.

2. Search Google Docs and Gmail

If you use Google Drive, it’s also likely that you use Gmail. If you want to save time and use Gmail’s search box to search both places, navigate to Gmail, click the Gear icon, and then choose Settings from the menu. Click the Labs tab and enable the Apps Search option. Now when you use Gmail’s search box, any relevant Google Drive documents will appear beneath your Gmail results!

3. Keep the Conversation with Your Document

Having a conversation about the details of a document in an email thread and then switching over to that document to make changes is just not cool. Know what’s cool? Collaborating on a document in real time and having that conversation right there in the document. When you see one or more collaborators’ names appear at the top of the document, click the Chat button that appears to start a conversation to the right of what you’re working on. Plus, that conversation stays with the document as you work on it, share it with new collaborators, and move it around in your Drive.

4. Obligatory Keyboard Shortcuts

What list of tips for a productivity suite as large as Google Drive would be complete without a mention of keyboard shortcuts? So here is a great list of keyboard shortcuts to help you work faster in Google Drive.

5. Customize Google Forms

Google Drive’s Forms let you build surveys and collect data for just about anything you can imagine. You can turn a spreadsheet into a form or use the new Create > Form option in your Drive. To make these forms even more useful, Google recently added customization options that allow you to add elements like progress bars, data validation and the embedding of YouTube videos.

6. Easy Table of Contents

If you need a way to navigate large documents or simply add a table of contents, the Insert > Table of Contents menu item has you covered. Apply headings to content from the Format > Paragraph Styles menu to build your table.

7. Edit Documents, Presentations and Drawings Offline

Want to access your Google Drive documents even when you’re offline? This set of instructions will let you install an app from the Chrome Web Store to take Google Drive offline should the need arise. You can currently work offline in your browser to edit documents, presentations and drawings, but only view spreadsheets and presentations.

Not a Google Drive fan? If you or your company is more Microsoft oriented, I recommend checking out Outlook.com. They have a reasonably robust suite of comparable services.

What do you use in your business—Google, Microsoft or something else? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Shop Small On Small Business Saturday

by Jeb Brilliant

BlueIt’s that time of year again.  No I’m not referring to Black Friday.  I’m talking about Small Business Saturday.  This is the day annually where we promote shopping locally.  If you are reading this post it is likely you either own or work for a small business.  I challenge you to take the time to shop in your community.

Here are just a few ideas for you as you consider shopping locally:

  • Frequent donut shops, car washes, book stores, toy stores and others that are still locally owned and not connected with large corporations.
  • As we enter the holiday season, consider purchasing gift certificates from local restaurants instead of large chains.  
  • When you have the time, take the extra few minutes to go to a coffee shop that is owned by someone in the community.  
  • Even though it’s portrayed as a cause for just brick and mortar stores do not forget about Etsy.  

Phone.com is primarily a phone service geared toward small businesses.  We hire local customer service agents in the United States as opposed to outsourcing.  Our CEO Ari Rabban and members of our team attend a number of events that enrich and champion small business.  Doing business with us also means you are supporting the community.   

On Small Business Saturday please shop locally to support small enterprises. Remember that Phone.com is here all year to support you!