Tech Lives & Videotape: Square Cash, Fly, Carma

Square Cash

Everyone wants to get paid. And now Square, the mobile payment system dominating local shops around Austin, has a new way to pay your friends or contacts. Square Cash, an app with looks as minimal as its name, allows you to pay friends over text message or email. A newly added feature uses location awareness to send payment over Bluetooth to nearby contacts (similar to AirDrop).

Upon downloading the app, a user inputs their debit card to be able to send funds from their bank account. Similarly a recipient just has to enter an account number where they want funds transferred. Once Square Cash is set up, it’s a simple one-step process to send / receive, and since the service uses debit cards this all happens without a fee.

Square Cash will text you $1 to sign up, with the hopes that you’ll use it the next time you’re out with friends.


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Fly

Video is the next great frontier. This sentiment, which we’ve heard expressed for years now, is beginning to realize itself thanks to new apps (and devices) that are allowing us to create and share through this medium with unprecedented ease.

The success and popularity of Instagram, VSCO Cam, Afterlight, and other photo editing apps have redefined the expectations of a camera phone picture, and now the Fly app is hoping to do the same with video.

Fly’s unique approach allows a user to pair nearby phones (or tablets) with the app so that videos with multiple cameras, angles, and scenes can be created “on the fly.” The panel and well-done interface make the concept easy to latch onto. And intuitive gesture controls make video production easy and fun.

The convenience and gloss, however, come at a small price. A features pack runs $5.99 (which includes basic features like music, and adding dissolve to transitions) and the exciting multi-camera feature costs $9.99. Though these are reasonable rates, the price will likely limit Fly to the budding vlogger or iPhone videographer who now just got a whole new game to play.


Carma

Transportation. A sector in desperate need for innovation, particularly here in Austin, has been a hot topic of late, with recent council hearings inching closer to approval of services like Lyft and Uber. One verified ridesharing app out of the controversy is Carma, a simple carpool app that logs all completed trips, and just moved here to Austin this year (after successful campaigns in San Francisco and Ireland).

You’re allowed to register to Carma (through their mobile app) as either a driver or rider for particular routes, and then the app matches you up with members who share a similar commute allowing the rider to save of fuel costs and the driver to make a little extra money.

The idea for Carma is sound, and their blog touts a recent success story for a neighborhood near Leander that logged 500 carpool trips in one month – the same number of shares taken by Austin metro in total.

In our use, however, there was resistance to “ASK” a driver to pick us up for a carpool because of the lack of data available. You’re not able to see the precise route of a match, nor are you able to see more information on the drivers (who sometimes have Lil Wayne avatars). This basic information is needed more for Carma’s application, than that of an Uber or Lyft, because the larger goal of finding a recurring carpool partner is more of a commitment.

The current state of the app suits itself best for those who have a network they trust that already use the app. That’s why the company helps facilitate official ride sharing programs with businesses and municipalities. If that scenario might fit you, give the app a try and let technology connect you to your next carpool.


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