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What happens in your Apple device, stays in your Apple device – iOS9

Posted on June 22, 2015 by Swaleha Calafato

After much anticipation, the Apple World Wide Developer Conference 2015 kicked started with an extensive keynote, demonstrating the functions of the next version of iOS.

Here’s an interesting new feature to be aware of: Whatever data is on your Apple device will stay within your device, and will not be stored in the cloud, or Apple servers for commercial use like Google and Microsoft do today.

So basically, your Apple device will know everything about you – BUT – Apple will not know what your device knows. This new development was thoroughly emphasized during the conference, where the Apple execs stressed that personal data will be stored locally on individual devices, rather than uploaded to the cloud. This is in contrast to what Google, Microsoft and other competitors do, whose ad-based business models necessitate extensive data collection.

Apple is even taking on Google Now with ‘Proactive’, which enables Siri to be smarter and search more contextual in iOS 9 – based on your interests and prior searches, information will now appear on your Apple device by itself. This will go as far as to Siri even suggesting suitable apps for you based on your preferences. Apple’s mobile operating system will collect numerous data about a user’s activity, thus developing Siri into a full-fledged ‘proactive’ assistant, adding context to each and every command.

Apple validated the innovative search feature by asking Siri to “Show my karaoke photos of Eddy.” Sure enough, the Photos app opened, displaying only the applicable pictures.

This being said, almost all personal data (including email & contacts) will remain on the iPhone/iPad, as opposed to being shared with Apple’s servers. When user data is updated, it will be ‘anonymous’ and not linked to the user’s Apple ID.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said, “All of this is on device, and it stays on device under your control.”

This new development received a widespread applause from the enthusiastic crowd, in contrast to last year when Apple received criticism from privacy activists when it was revealed that its Spotlight search tool shares user inquiries and even location records to Apple’s servers, though linked to a short-term user ID. An even bigger scandal Apple was involved in late last year was when hackers disseminated a variety of nude celebrity photographs that they had stolen from iCloud backups – most users weren’t even aware their pictures had been automatically uploaded to iCloud.

Throughout the conference, the element of user privacy was highlighted over and over. Apple has ensured that user data will remain tightly locked, and to the discretion of their users, as privacy is an immense cause for concern in today’s world.

It’s nice to see Apple taking a stand, and treating privacy for what it is – a fundamental human right.


Smartphones are getting smarter

Posted on June 10, 2015 by Stanislava Burianek

I woke up today and the first thing I did was get my smartphone to switch the alarm clock off… and that’s how my mobile day begins. I then check WhatsApp messages that I received overnight, go to my e-mails, check my Facebook page, Instagram notifications following the post of last night’s dinner I made before I went to bed. I open my Twitter app to check the latest news updates and then comes breakfast time. Baby breakfast time first, oh what a cute moment, baby Issa smashing all his food over his face, lets snap that moment and share it on my family WhatsApp group, post it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, too.  Am I addicted to my mobile phone?



Maybe yes, but when I am finally off to work, I prefer to make my 10 minutes journey more exciting. The Anghami app comes in handy with my favorite songs transitioned to my car speakers via a Bluetooth connection. Before I finally enter the office the RTA Smart Parking app will help me to pay my parking fees in order for me not to get a fine, which I would most likely pay via the RTA Dubai app. To spare me the fines, I can always use my back-up app; Uber. And these are just first 3 hours of my day!

When was the last time I visited a DEWA office? Or passed by Du to pay my monthly internet subscription? Or even wrote a cheque, instead of just transferring the amount via the online banking app on my phone? I don’t remember. Grocery shopping is no longer the time consuming activity thanks to the app. If I ever need to buy a last minute emergency dress for an event that is happening the day after tomorrow, I will certainly open Namshi and make an order that will deliver my dress to my office the next day. Birthday gift? Perfume? Mobile phone? TV? You name it, they have it! The app is right there to help me from spending more time than needed strolling around the huge Dubai malls.

smarthphone usage

Can we survive without our smartphones today? I don’t think so. Did they make our lives easier and fastpaced? Definitely. Did we start spending more money? Absolutely!

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2015 report suggests that there are 5.2 billion mobile phone users registered in 2014. Should businesses go online? That goes without saying. Should they become more mobile? Absolutely! Communications professionals go digital, and if they don’t, they regress. Is going digital only enough though?

Meeker suggests that video constituted 64 percent of the total Internet traffic and 55 percent of mobile traffic in 2014. She points out that Facebook in particular now has a highly evolved video product, with 4 billion views a day.

She emphasized our growing tendency to watch these videos on smaller screens. Meeker says that mobile viewing in 2015 accounted for 29 percent of our total time spent on screens, compared to 71 percent of our time spent on desktops, televisions, and other connected devices.

Visual content is king today, and text heavy story is very unlikely to attract vast amounts of attention. People evolve into mobile quick smart fix lifestyles, and so should communications professionals. I am not stating that offline marketing is dead, but it is in a wheelchair state already and its days are counted. Get smart or go home!

Once upon a time…

Posted on June 1, 2015 by Roopa Menon

We PR professionals are a peculiar bunch. We spend hours each day trying to pitch ‘stories’ to journalists, mine ‘stories’ and track relevant ‘stories’ in publications yet we seldom call ourselves ‘storytellers’. Isn’t that ironical? And if your thoughts race towards the big ‘why’ then perhaps let us instead ask ‘why not’.

 The effectiveness of story telling

A lot of research has been carried out on how storytelling affects our brains. Among them the most noteworthy one is how hearing a story activates more areas of our brain than listening to a power point presentation with pure factual content. Scientists reveal that when we listen to a story, our brains light up as if we are experiencing the story ourselves. They also talk about the phenomenon of ‘neural coupling’ which means that during a storytelling session, the brain of a storyteller synchronizes with that of his audience. During the course of storytelling, they are, to put it metaphorically, on the same page, the same wavelength. This in turn activates our emotions, and thoughts plant themselves in our mind which we think are our own and we act accordingly.

In a way, the ‘once upon a time story telling form’ is not something we need to relinquish after we enter adulthood, it can and will continue to steer us in communicating effectively in our later years. Story telling works in PR because it allows us to connect with our target audience and take them on a journey. A journey that stimulates emotions, ideas and attitudes that are consistent with our communication goals

So, what makes a great and effective storyteller?

Now that you are no longer in denial, and you are aware that story telling is a critical part of your client’s communication goals, it is time to understand what it takes to become a great and effective story teller. Here are some pointers:

Who’s your audience?

Knowing and learning your target audience is at the crux of successful storytelling as it ensures that the client’ story resonates with them, and the communication objectives are effectively achieved.

Keep your ears and eyes open, identify your target audience through proper channels and learn as much as you can about them, including the kind of content that matters to them.

Do you have a nose for the right stories?

Keep mining for material surrounding your client that could make for great stories. For example, for well-established technology companies, you could focus on stories that talk about their relentless quest for perfection. For promising start-ups, their stories could steer from rags to riches, addressing the journey of the business from inception to execution. HR and Consulting clients could tell stories related to their employees. Human interest stories and anecdotes could help you connect with your target audience in a ways a press release never would.  Customer testimonials are a great source for stories which provides the platform to tell the company’s success story from a different perspective.

Find your story’s hero

Never make the business the hero of your story. People don’t bond with business; they connect with people. So, go behind the scenes and seek the real heroes of the story; they could be the people in the company or buyers of the company’s products. Do your market study and start by figuring out your central characters that are similar to your target market.

The success of the story is in its telling…

You may have innovative story ideas but if you tell it in an uninteresting manner then the story will fail to resonate with the target audience. Today we are spoiled for variety of media so you needn’t tell a story using words alone, you can tell it using a variety of relevant forms: from images to sounds, infographics and videos.

In order to be a compelling story teller you should be able to identify the right mix of forms to tell your story. Think video case studies, documentaries or an article embedded with video and images. Simply look beyond the clichéd approach and elevate your story to the next level. Let it reach out and touch your audience in a way a newsletter or press release can never.



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