Storytelling, Apple, and Anderson University


There is nothing more exciting than to see one of your clients being recognized by world wide brand. I was asked to join our friends at Anderson University to watch a special announcement. On Thursday, February 12th, Apple came to Anderson University to present a special recognition.

Anderson University’s Henderson Auditorium was packed with faculty, staff, students, community leaders and they had a few special guests on stage. Two representatives from Apple came to present Anderson University with the Apple Distinguished School designation for 2014-16.

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Passbook & NFC: Social Commerce in small town South Carolina

So Wednesday morning, I received my new iPhone 5 in the mail. I am a gadget freak and yes I upgraded from the iPhone 4s. One of the new features released with the new iPhone (iOS6) is the the Passbook application. This allows you to find businesses that offer incentives to use your iPhone as your wallet.

So I downloaded the Starbucks application and immediately created an account and loaded $25.00, sort of like buying a pre-paid credit card, except using your iPhone. Off I went to carry out my morning errands, and as I passed Starbucks in Anderson…I thought I might have to give this little application a try.

So I walked in and ordered me a Pumpkin Spice Latte with no whipped cream, hmm! It feels like fall outside. When it was time to pay, I asked the cashier, “How do I use the Starbucks application on my iPhone to pay?” She told me to open the application, push the button to pay, and a barcode appeared on the screen. She then used her scanner next to the cash register to scan the barcode on my screen, and POOF…transaction complete.

It deducted the $4.91 from my phone and off I was on my merry way with a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I was so excited, I opened Facebook and checked into Starbucks by writing this status update:

I immediately called my wife to share my experience. After she listened to my gadget success story for the morning, she scolded me and said…”You need to buy local. Stop going to Starbucks and walk across the street from your office downtown and go to Figs. Figs is the new coffee, ice-cream, soda shop downtown Anderson owned locally.

The Digital Divide
Hmm…I wonder, do they have a little application for the phone so I can pay? Do they have a check-in option on Facebook so I can share my love for their store? Hmm…let me go see. So off I went to Figs, and noticed a few things. Great food, great shop, nice ownership…limited social interaction. Well, they are new…but this leads me to my though process. Buying local in socially connected community has a HUGE barrier to cross when competing against big box groups. You are probably thinking…well, tell me something you do not already know.

Ok, back-up…notice what happened Starbucks. They have an app that allows me to use technology to not only purchase with my phone, but they made it easy to take part in the social share. The check-in location rapidly appeared in Facebook allowing me to share my little success with technology.

The digital wallet leading to the social share…big business leads the way in social commerce. So how do the little guys compete? What is going remind me about Figs over Starbucks for coffee (other than my wife screaming buy local)? Figs is kind-of a outlier, they have only been in business for a few months. They are still trying to establish their digital footprint.

So, I took a walk through downtown Anderson and spent some time using my Facebook and Foursquare apps to see if retailers had check-in points established. Most were established including having those check-in points connected to a social outlet like a Facebook page.

But the part that is missing for most of these small retailers is the digital tool for commerce.

Passbook and NFC
Passbook on the iPhone is a brand new concept and Starbucks was one of the first to take part in this concept. Passbook was Apple’s alternative to NFC (near-field communication).

Wired.com states, “NFC chips in smartphones let you pay by waving your device over a scanner at the store. The chip is tied to an app that is tied to your bank account and credit card. Volià, no more cash, no more wallet.”

“Passbook lets you keep in your iPhone virtual versions of some items you might normally carry in your analog wallet or bag: boarding passes, movie and sports tickets, coupons, and gift cards. Passbook stores these items as barcodes, but some wondered if Apple would tie NFC to Passbook to make direct payments possible.”

Matt on the Nerd Wallet blog shares his thoughts:

“While loyalty programs are popular amongst customers and merchants alike – the number of loyalty memberships in the U.S. exceeds 2.1 billion – it’s not clear how effective these programs are. According to a white paper published by COLLOQUY, 17% of U.S. consumers felt that loyalty programs were a “very influential” factor in their purchasing decisions and an even smaller 12% said they “strongly agree” when asked whether it pays to be loyal to a favorite brand.”

So is NFC and Passbook just another coupon”ing” option or loyalty program? Or is the combination of NFC/Passbook concept on your smart phone as a one-stop shop for your to purchase and share with your friends. Connivence makes us happy and we love to share within our social outlets when something makes us happy.

Social Commerce & Economic Development
So how does a small coffee shop in little ole Anderson, SC compete with a Starbucks and their Passbook app? Well…first of all, building these applications are expensive and you have to find a a company that has the experience to build these types of mobile commerce tools. I am not sure if Figs would have the budget to have one of these applications built, and it probably makes no sense for them to do so…especially given small town word-of-mouth always prevails.

BUT…from a digital concept, local business should team up and build one mobile application for those local retailers that can add to the pot. Imagine an initiative in Anderson, SC where a group of local retailers teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce and local Economic Development groups like Innovate Anderson or Upstate SC Alliance to find the funding to build a one-size fits all.

Yes…this would be an economic development tool for small town Anderson, SC. Access to digital tools that not only power commerce but power the idea of the social share, building online reputation for a town trying to attract more growing businesses.

For those who want to read more about developing apps for Apple’s Passbook –> CLICK HERE

Let the Map’s Battle Begin! Google vs. Apple!

So I am getting ready to make a broad prediction and generalization. As a communicator in the digital/social space, I am surrounded by people predicting that mobile is the future…especially in the social space.

I think that MAPS on a mobile platform is going to be a large part of that conversation. Specifically MAP applications on our iPhones, Droids, etc. MAPS is a game that many tech groups (Apple, Google, Bing, etc.) are investing millions/billions of dollars.

With the release of iOS6 today for the iPhone and iPad, Apple just launched itself into the MAP Game competing with Google. They want to find better ways to connect consumers to local “brands” as a part of their search revenue stream.

I love this article by Entrepreneur.com talking about the competition between Google and Apple when it comes to the MAPs game.

“Expect new ways to market using your location. 
Apple is already planning a Quick Route function as part of its local search function that can lead customers to stores. Not to be outdone, Google is offering packages for automated business listings, and promotional services as part of its Places for Business product as well as turn-by-turn navigation for bicycle commuters.

And where Google and Apple go, so goes Microsoft. The company announced its most aggressive upgrade to its map imagery in July. This will be offered as part of its MapPoint 2013 software product that ties in not only geographic data to maps, but population information and research content aimed at showing businesses location-based opportunities and marketing trends.”


“Maps need to become part of your search strategy.
Smart businesses will be proactive on how mobile users find and interact with them on maps. Among the new features that businesses can expect to exploit are the expanded role for social content and the ability to offer location-based deals.

Apple’s Maps application is stressing local reviews and search content from Yelp, which announced in June that it will be directly built into Apple maps. Google recently upgraded its Google+ integration for maps with Google Map Maker, which builds local content added by users into its maps. And earlier this summer, Microsoft announced new integrations with Nokia as part of its interactive features on Windows phones.”

And from BBC.com:
“As the internet goes mobile, there’s a huge amount at stake for both companies, and maps are a key weapon in the battle to be top dog. The nascent mobile advertising industry is heavily focussed on location based services, so owning the dominant mapping system could prove very lucrative.”

The communicators that will prevail in this social/digital space will be the ones that recognize the power of MAPS, research the impact on their organization’s revenue opportunities, integrate into the communication plan, and be open to innovative third party applications.

So think…how can we as communicators for large, medium, and small organizations think in terms of MAPS to connect with the consumer. How can we leverage these technologies that individuals are using everyday to connect with find and connect with our brand?

Let the wars begin!

***Image from Entrepreneur.com <– THANK YOU 

K-Mart, Apple, and CUICAR…the cultural shift in influence. Tomorrow’s Innovation.

Sarah and I were sitting around tonight watching a little Friday night television and a K-Mart commercial caught my attention. I am not sure why, maybe it was the music that made me cue into the message. The song sounded familiar, but I was not interested in the song…I was interested in the clothes the kids were wearing.

This was a back to school message, showing off all the new cool kids clothes. Those back-to-school fashions that grab the dollars right out of the pockets’ of moms and dads. I was thinking back to when I was in middle school and even high school. What clothes were in fashion. I remember in 6th grade, all the girls were wearing “Jellies”. Do you remember those “flats” that girls were wearing. How about break dancing pants, the ones with all the zippers. Yes, I am remembering those 80’s influenced by pop culture icons like Michael Jackson.

But where did those fashions originate. How did they end up in our closets. How did they trickle down into little South Carolina, influencing kids interests which influenced moms and dads to make that purchase. Did those fashions come from Europe where fashion is truly influential in international hearts and minds? Was there one designer that create that one design, ultimately creating a cultural fad in all the American schools, making it the cool thing to wear?

Think about Apple and the cultural shift this technology and design animal has created with an iPhone. The idea of making a touch screen cool and desirable. Not only making this concept the technological break through in American culture, but making it the most desirable brand item…creating so much demand people line outside of stores days before the release. What one person came up with this idea which influenced technological pop-culture. We could list company after company, one after another that have influenced the way we purchase items.

I sat in a fascinating forum this morning, listening to some of the most renowned automotive thinkers. The InnoMobility Forum at CUICAR. As I was listening to a presentation over WebX, a gentleman from Munich, Germany was talking about building innovative communities of automotive creation. People from BMW and numerous automotive suppliers were sitting in a room listening through this presenters German accent, fascinated with his thoughts as he flipped through slide after slide.

The next presenter was talking about bearings inside transmissions. Now this does not sound exciting, except when you think about all the new battery powered cars on the road now. They no longer have engines that create exhaust, ultimately noise. If you remove this noise by removing the internal combustion exhaust system…you begin to hear all the little clicks, ticks, and tocks. Those metal parts rubbing against each other that create friction and noise. Now, engineers are having to make metal to metal quieter.

At the end of the presentation, a question was asked that surrounded the cultural shift in way we will one day use transportation. The presenter explained that we will be shifting back to the way we built transportation in those early days of the automotive industry. He began to explain we will not just see just electric cars or just hybrids…we will see a host of solutions based on geography. Electric cars in the city, since it is easier to provide charging stations, hybrids for metro to suburbia, and internal combustion engines for rural areas where gasoline makes the most sense, except in a more fuel efficient manner.

He went on to describe the shift in the cultural circle from those early days. The days when the first automakers were creating gasoline engines, steam engines, and even battery powered vehicles. The presenter noted this cultural circle as a shift in the way the automotive industry is now creating transportation, influenced by industries including the airline industry.

So I get back to that K-Mart commercial…how are we influenced to make purchasing decisions. Where does culture begin that influences the designers, engineers, developers, suppliers, marketers, and ultimately those consumers who choose to shift the way they purchase their next vehicle. Where will it originate? Will it begin in Europe…I think many hope that it might begin from the innovation right inside the doors of CUICAR.

Check out InnoMobility this coming October.

Do we need the 4G speed for all our devices?

Ok..Ok…the big ole hubbub across the mobile communication spectrum is all about 4G and 4G LTE. It is all about speed and the network. Yes, Verizon is leading the way with their LTE rollout across the country. AT&T and other groups are playing catch-up, well from a technology standpoint. AT&T is surely leading the pack in a clear concise message with their “Rethink Possible” campaign.

But what does this really mean for consumers, well I am still trying to figure this out. Seriously, why do I need 4G LTE speed on a mobile device. Why do I need to be able to upload and download at speeds twice or three times 3G speed on my iPhone or Android device. I can already watch video on the device, I can do video chat with my device, I can check email, download a document, etc at the 3G speeds.

What advantage do acquire when I buy the new iPad or iPhone with access to a 4G LTE data transfer rate? Now, look at the MiFi devices (the mobile hotspots) and this makes sense. I am a video guy and I need to be able to upload Gigabytes of video content and access to these speeds will trump most business and in-home data speeds.

At my house, I currently have my Charter data plan for Internet access that provides 25 Mb/s download and 3 Mb/s upload speeds. That is pretty fast…the 4G LTE mobile devices will be able to provide close, if not better upload speeds and similar to less download speeds. This is great for uploading large files from my edit bay and home workstation. So why does the average consumer need access from a smart phone to these speeds?

Verizon just released a press release today announcing that the Galaxy Tablet will be 4G LTE enabled. Jeff Dietel, vice president of marketing for Verizon Wireless stated in the press release, “The tablet market is exploding as customers are discovering new uses for the technology that features a large screen, powerful processing speeds and access to Android Market™’s 200,000 applications. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is perfect for customers who want to take advantage of Google™’s new movie rental option and view their favorite film on-the-go.”

Well, we are becoming a more connected community of technology enthusiasts. Everywhere you look, someone is looking at their smart device. They are texting, tweeting, looking at Facebook, checking email, watching video, chatting, uploading pictures. The days of the laptops and home workstations are slowly drifting away for the consumer. I bought my wife an 11 inch MacBook Air and it is close to the same size as my iPad. Those big ole bulky home computers are almost extinct. And with Cloud Computing…people are able to acces and store files virtually.

Look at the new release of iCloud by Apple. Yes, the ability to store and access all of your music in the “Cloud” and not have to worry if your home computer crashes, loosing all your music files. I can list numerous friends that have experienced this “life changing” trauma. My sister-in-law cried for days as she tried to recover a small percentage of her thousands of songs. I can still hear her saying…”There goes Bonnaroo…their goes Death Cab….GONE!”

So what does iCloud have to do with all this…we are becoming more dependent on the virtual community, connectivity, and off-site storage. Bigger server farms are providing access to storage and information. This also means that all of our devices, not just home computers, need to be able to access and alter these files from any device. I can now, shoot, edit, publish, and distribute video from my iPhone4 on YouTube and Vimeo using 3G, all in 1280×720 resolution. If I was still in the news world, I would be killing my competition…maybe?

Bottomline…our mobile devices are going to be moving more and more from content access devices to content creation devices. These devices will fit in our back pocket and we will be able to do more on the go, not restricted to our home/business/office computers. Access to servers and mainframes can be done anywhere…and their needs to be more bandwidth across the platform for more and more people to access and create content on the go. Also…files sizes are growing from HD video and larger picture quality.

One concept that I have not even touched is Healthcare IT. Yes…with the emergence of EMR’s and Cloud computing, more and more healthcare professionals will need to access large healthcare records in a mobile setting. Whether it is in the “field” like an ambulance or even rural healthcare networks. This type of speed and infrastructure will provide this access.

So, right now I am not sure if the consumer needs access to these speeds, but soon yes. Because all of their traditional computing will be done in devices that are the evolution of our iPhones, iPads, Laptops, Desktops…combined. Speed and access is key for tomorrow’s connectivity.

***Image from the Daily Galaxy, thanks a bunch!

Bobby’s 5 Links of the Week | November 21, 2010

Hello friends, here are my links for the week. As you can see…they include social media, mobile technology, physician marketing, and hospital social media. I hope you enjoy and let me know your thoughts about any of these article!

5 Mobile Technologies Retailers Should Be Using Now
November 15, 2010 | Houston Neal of Software Device
Mobile commerce is driving the next major shift in retail, and retailers that can learn to harness this technology stand to gain a competitive advantage. To learn about 5 mobile technologies retailers should be using, visit the Software Advice blog. CLICK HERE to read more.

The one sure-fire way to get more clicks and RTs for your blog posts
November 16, 2010 | MackCollier.com
Write better headlines. That’s no big relevation, and there’s a lot that goes into writing better headlines.  I’ll refer you to someone like @Copyblogger who has written a great series on writing better headlines. But there’s one area I wanted to focus on when it comes to headlines.  I share a lot of links on Twitter because I am trying to find helpful information for my followers. CLICK HERE to read more.

Calling Bullshit on Social Media

November 18, 2010 | Tamsen McMahon
1) There are tools. There are people who use the tools. And then there are people who are tools. Know the difference.
2) Ass-kissing will get you anywhere, but where is that, exactly? Where do you actually want to gofrom there? Think long-term.
3) Speaking of long-term, “asshole” is not a long-term strategy. Neither is “edgy” or “off-putting.” What do you really want to achieve? And for how long? Build a strategy on that.
CLICK HERE to read the rest of the 32 points!

NewberryCountyDoctors.com – Video Repository
November 18, 2010 | Newberry County Memorial Hospital
Looking for a doctor and your in Newberry County, South Carolina…here is a cool portal providing videos of doctors talking about what they enjoy to do the most, practice medicine. Pretty cool idea to allow physicians to speak in-their-own-words by wrapping the searchable power of YouTube and a brand-able portal for Newberry County Memorial Hospital. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Woz: Apple Almost Launched A Phone In 2004, Android Will “Win The Race”
November 18, 2010 | Robin Wauters
Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak was being his fascinating self again this morning, revealing in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that the company he helped get off the ground actually developed a smartphone in partnership with a well-known Japanese electronics company as early as 2004, but shelved the project prior to its debut (via Engadget).

Cramming too much into a story?

Sometimes we just want to tell too much! We do…we want to cram so much into one little story. If we have to create a 30 second video/tv spot, we cram as many words into the voice over as possible. Why…because we do not know how to keep it simple and put in terms of the audience. We are so worried we are not going to say everything we need to say, and our audience is going to miss the point. Oh yeah…maybe we are missing the point?

Storytelling is a craft…it is an art…it is stepping inside of the audience’s mind and seeing their perceptions and realities.

Let’s take a resume for just a quick second. How long is your resume? Is it one, two…three, five pages? We cram every little accolade, honor, and simple nothings that do not mean a hill of beans…except we can beat our chest and feel a little more closer to our ego. What is a resume? I think it is just a guide, and reference tool. I have yet to get a job based on my resume…seriously!  You know why, because every resume looks just a like. Hell, there are people inflating that resume just a bit….pushing the limits to make ourselves seem special.

That resume is really a document that allows us to organize our thoughts and prepare us for an interview. It is a conversation piece, a study guide for the interview. Heck, it really is just a reference document when filling out a job application. But, why do we cram it full of stuff that means nothing.

We have a chance to tell a story…a real story.

Let’s take this little video from Apple. The new MacBook Air. By the way, my wife is dying to get one!

After watching this tv spot just one time, she understood everything she needed to know to make a purchasing decision. It is thin, sleek, and powerful. Did you see Apple craming a bunch of information about this little computer into 30 seconds? NO! They could have told you the dimensions, the processing power, the fact it has a solid state hard drive, or even abut that Intel processor inside. Nope…just a happy little tune and these two fingers pinching it and holding it up in the air. Enough said. Apple told a story…well actually a teaser. They told us enough to make the wife and I to get into the car, drive 40 miles to the Apple store so we could see if it was real.

It is not about cramming all the information into one piece of communication…it is about telling a story that engages the audience to see the message through your eyes. My students always ask me…how long should my paper be for this assignment? I tell them…it is not about length, it is about you telling me your story in way that I can see the whole argument (beginning, middle, and end) through your eyes. Whether it is one paragraph or a hundred paragraphs, as long as you tell the story.

It is Video Time using DroidX and iPhone4

So I spent some time looking at the differences in video recording and displaying on both the DroidX and the iPhone4. So here are some thoughts…I going to break them down according to the device. I explain a little more in the iPhone4 description, but this is where I define some terms for the rest of the write-up.

iPhone4 Thoughts
1) The video quality is great especially since it is acquiring the image at 720p – 30 frames/second. This means that the video image is 720 lines across the width of the video display. It uses a progressive scan where the image is displayed line but line from top to bottom across the page. There is a debate  whether  progressive or interlaced is beter, but a progressive scan provides less visual artifacts and less motion blurring.  Here is an article about progressive (the “p” in 720p) and interlacing (the “i” in the 720i). I think that the actual resolution of the iPhone4 is a little better than the DroidX camera, with less visual artifacts, but does not have the chroma in outdoor settings as the DroidX.

2) The back camera focal length is 3.85 mm with f-stop of 2.8. This is essentially equal in focal length with a 35mm SLR camera with a 30mm lens. This is a pretty wide angle lens with a wide range of view. It is a pretty good camera, but for people like me…I want the original file. If you email the file or upload it to FTP site/YouTube, it compresses the video. So, I have to dock the phone to retrieve video in the most native format. Great articles by Ars Technica and Falk Lumo about the camera.

3) When recording the video from the camera, you are not allowed to zoom. You have to use your body to zoom by walking closer to the subject.

4) Displaying on an monitor, you have to purchase the PC adapter for the iPad. This allows you connect to a monitor that has a PC (VGA) input. This will not allow you to play the sound on the monitor, you have to connect the earphone out to the monitor or speakers using a mini-plug. The PC (VGA) connector is $29 on the Apple.com website. But you will also need a PC (VGA) cable to complete the connection.

5) Controlling what is displayed on the external monitor is tricky. It only will display pictures/video from camera or video form the YouTube application. Displaying videos from the camera can be tricky. Sometimes if you select to play the video, it might not immediately display on the external monitor. The same with pictures, you have to be in a slideshow mode to get the monitor to recognize the images.

6) It has two cameras! This is cool, one on the front and one on the back. This allows the user to record videos or take pictures using either camera. The front camera also allows the ability to do face-to-face video phone calls. You can just touch the screen to select which camera to use to record. I have actually used the front camera to record a video and it gives me a frame of reference for what I am recording. It allows to frame yourself properly without lots of mysterious room above your head. The back camera is the one with the flash for taking photos in low light.

DroidX Thoughts
1) The video quality is great with the ability to record in 720p. It has great image quality but when displaying the video on a Flat Screen HDTV, I noticed some artifacts in high contrast areas. Basically, when you watch the video on the HDTV and walk up close to the screen, you will see block like images around high-contrast areas. But, the DroidX had better chroma quality than the iPhone4…the video did not look as washed out.

2) The focal length of the DroidX’s camera is a little wider than the iPhone4, giving the ability to capture more landscape. I had to back up some with the iPhone to capture the same image as the DroidX. Also, since I am a Mac user, I can connect the DroidX via the USB cable and navigate to find the video files. This allows me to download the native video files to edit.

3) You can zoom with the video camera on the DroidX, very cool.

4) Displaying on a monitor is done with an HDMI mini-D to HDMI cable. This can be purchased for $39.99 at a Verizon Retail store or $24.99 online at Verizon.com. Yeah…$15.00 extra bucks to purchase in the store! Not Good!

5) Controlling what is displayed on the external monitor is a little tricky but a great idea. Once you connect the DroidX via the HDMI cable to the external monitor; you can select a picture or video and the media plays on the external monitor screen. Then the DroidX turns into a remote control. Great idea and neat interface.

DroidX is in the HOUSE! My Overview!

OK…after many requests…here are my initial thoughts of the DroidX! I do have to give a shout out to Robin Blackwood at JDPR for letting me play with this toy!

Well…watch the video first of all. This video covers the apps I use, the Mobile Hot Spot feature and a few other details.

One of the big questions from a lot of developers is whether the DroidX can be rooted. Basically to get to the core of the code. If this is your cup of tea…here is the link to the Engadget Post –> CLICK HERE or watch the video below!

I have a new video coming comparing the video playback of the DroidX and the iPhone4. Good stuff and I am using the cameras from the phones to show the difference in the video quality.

One of my close friends (Brian Lindenmeyer) recently purchased the DroidX and has been working on a document with his review of the phone (Below). I think he has some great thoughts and even slams my beloved Apple iPhone4, but I like his points overall.

Device Overview by Brian Lindenmeyer (@lxadoz104)

Awaiting the update to fix some Wi-Fi signal issues, corporate sync issues, and battery meter issues.  Overall, this device is more than I could have ever imagined.  Lots of this love for the Droid is based on the simple, but robust, integration to Google services.  We’ll cover this under applications.

UPDATE 7/20/2010 (9am) – I got the update from Verizon – so far things are definitely improved.

Couple other things:  I think the built-in launcher is fine, but did like Launcher Pro (may try it again).  I also didn’t find that any enhancement to the SMS messaging was needed.  Lastly, I do set up Twitter and Facebook as I like the contact integration, but the Twitter app that is built-in only supports one account, so grab another one if you have two…I’m still looking.

Platform/ROM/Built-in Apps

Not that I need to given the RAM, but I am looking forward to ROOTING this device to removes some bloatware (Amazon MP3, Blockbuster, CityID, etc.).   Otherwise, the first thing any Blackberry converts like myself need to realize is:
1.      Android manages memory much better
2.      Instead of folders to remove or arrange icons on the main screen, you have desktops to do this.  Your “cabinet” or folder of applications is more like an iPhone.

Aside from the bloat (and l lack of rooting/custom ROMs – we’ll skip that at the moment) – this phone simply rocks.  If you aren’t a Google Fan, you better be if you use this.  The integration to Google services is without a doubt the best integration of any device – and I’m including the MobileMe Apple garbage.  REMEMBER – Apple charges for that – Google doesn’t.

Must have – The Google Additions:

I’ll start with the Google Apps (or tightly integrated to Google services):

Google Voice:  If you don’t have a google voice number – get one.  The ability to use this phone as a secondary number is fantastic, along with the ability to call international at low rates.  But what is the best part is free visual/transcribed voicemails.  Yes, you can even text from your Google Voice number (although I’ve never done this, since I only text my friends who have my cell phone number – no need to confuse the less-technically savvy.  Fantastic launcher replacement with tons of options to tweak and lots of great features.  I still like LauncherPro Beta better (see below), but this one is a very close 2nd.

GTasks:  This app/widget allows you to enter tasks into your Google Task list and syncs with the server.  This task list is integrated into the Google calendar online.  Only issue is that Google Tasks doesn’t support reoccurring tasks, so for that I suggest you make reoccurring events on your google calendar.

Google Listen:  I thought the worse thing leaving my Blackberry behind would be losing PodTrapper – which I used to automatically get podcasts delivered to my device OTA so I could listen on planes or when driving.  Enter Google Listen.  This app is integrated to Google Reader (the RSS application Google has) and allows you to subscribe to RSS podcast feeds.  The only issue is that it doesn’t queue the podcasts automatically, but I have found that it downloads them quickly and allows for offline listening.  PERFECT.

Google Maps/Navigation:  Built-in, better grab the update that’s available from what was loaded just to be sure.  By the way, I gave my wife my Garmin Nuvi…this GPS is better.  Only issue is that the ETA is a bit off, even after calibration.  I guess Google is trying to be green and tell me to slow down.

Google Shopper:  Simple app that allows image, voice, or type searches on products to give you local and web pricing on the item.  This is just like going to shopper.google.com, only it’s built for the phone and has the voice and image search.  I took a picture of a RedBull Sugar Free…and instantly found the lowest price locally near me (KMart) and of course some online vendors

Google Talk (GTalk):  Since I lost BBM (Blackberry Messenger), I’ve had to get back on GTalk.  Well, the beauty I forgot about is that GTalk can save chat history in your GMail so that you can search for it later.  Great when sharing links with friends, etc. or you just want to refer back to the thread.  Use “is:chat” in the GMail search…and yes, you can also do this from the GMail phone app!

SMS Backup: OKAY – I know this isn’t a GOOGLE app, but folks, this may be the best FREE app there is.  Simple and does what the title says – backs up your text messages to your gmail account. This is a must have since this makes it easy to search texts (They get automatically labeled as SMS).  SIMPLY AWESOME.  I will pay for this app if/when needed.

Market Apps I use:

Quick Settings: Quick access to all the essential settings (ringer, brightness, wifi, bluetooth, etc.) with an easy to use UI. You can select from many different settings to display on the main dialog, and can even add a shortcut to it in your notification bar.

Pandora: Great app as usual

Slacker Radio: I have this in addition to Pandora as I don’t have a ton of custom channels on Pandora – and if I want to just listen to 80’s, Slacker has all the channels pre-configured.  While Pandora is my bread-n-butter, this is a close 2nd in terms of streaming radio/media.

Amazon App:  Look, I’m a prime member, and I basically order everything from Amazon.  Great app, just as good as it was on the Blackberry, only now I have a huge screen to look at the stuff!

Kindle App:  Again, I had this on the Blackberry, but now I have a much better screen.  Who needs a Kindle when you have a Droid X that can read just fine!

ShopSavvy: Great for comparing prices by scanning UPC codes. It will search online as well as nearby stores (if you let it use GPS). This also is a built-in QR Code reader as well.  Worth keeping just for that.

TempMonitor: Keep an eye on your battery or cpu temps by sticking it in the notification bar.  Since I have the cardock, the device can get hot running GPS up near the window.  Good to monitor this.

Facebook for Android: Syncs pictures (not flawless, but works), and is a decent app.  The widget is the main thing, but the fact is that I use the web / touch web interface.  I do use the social network app/ widget built-in that gives you a feed of twitter and facebook in on view.

Twitter for Android:  Yes, this is on my device because all other apps over this past weekend (7/18-7/19) didn’t work due to API issues.  I will go to Touiteur or Tweetcaster.  I like Tweetcaster since it is Free and supports 2 accounts (it does have ads on the bottom).  But I may drop the money on Touiteur since my buddy on a Droid swears by it.

Adobe Reader:  While OpenOffice is built-in for viewing, I like the Adobe Reader app as it has more functionality and I get a ton of pdf attachments via email.  Enough said.

HomePipe:  Access files on your home PC directly from your phone.  You can also stream your mp3s to the built-in media player.  Great app for basically connecting all PC’s you have that are on and running the PC-based app.  Not completely cloud, but still cool

QuickDesk Beta: Lets you access your most used programs from anywhere, without having to minimize anything you’re working on.

SyncMyPix: This app actually stores the Facebook photos in your Google Contacts, whereas Facebook for Android only matches the photos up so they display in your Contacts on your phone.  If you don’t want people’s Facebook profile pics stored in your Google Contacts, don’t use this.

Bubble:  Simple bubble app and leveler.  While the bottom of the device isn’t completely flat, still cool in case the wife asks you to hang some pictures!  Works on all sides.

DirecTV Scheduler: Great app for those with DirecTV and DVR’s.  Search, browse, and schedule recordings from your phone for any of your DVR’s.  Supports single or season recording.  Was using it when it came out for Blackberry, glad to see it’s here on Android.

FitDeck Mobile (Bodyweight):  I travel and this is a great app for bodyweight exercises I can do in the hotel room.  The also have a Pilates, Office, and Stairs program.  I own Pilates, and will be buying the other two soon.

iHeartRadio:  Yes, in case Pandora and Slacker aren’t getting it done, I can switch to iHeartRadio (Clear Channel).  Not great, but still worth checking out.

NotePad:  Since Google Docs, and the integration in general, doesn’t have a replacement for Outlook notes, I use this.  Doesn’t sync, but still a nice app.  If need be, I just create a task (with no reminder) on GTasks, or I go to Google Docs via the browser.

ScoreMobile:  Great score app  (alternatively I’m trying out SportsTap as well…both are equal, but I like ScoreMobile since I’m used to it from Blackberry days)

USAToday:  I read it when in the hotels, now I get it on my device.  The news feed widgets are preconfigured for USA Today feeds so this may be a bit redundant.

Other Apps recommended (but I haven’t tried), compliments of Rbb Christie (@ronx):

TripIt: If you use TripIt online, this is a must-have. Gives you quick access to your travel itineraries in an easy-to-read format. The TripIt service is pretty cool. You can email confirmations you receive from airlines/travel services/hotels to the tripit email address and it will automatically add all the info to your account.

IMDb: App for looking up movies, showtimes, trailers, etc.  I use the website all the time on my PC, so this should come in handy.  Just recently released, so I haven’t had many chances to use it yet.  Good chance this will move into my must have list once I start using it.