What Is Google Assistant?

What Is Google Assistant

What Is Google Assistant?

Have you ever told a friend or coworker: “I could really use a personal assistant!” Or perhaps muttered the same words under your breath while tackling a particularly prickly list of to-dos?

If so, your next line (thought silently, regretfully) was probably: “Like I could ever have my own assistant …” Alas … you may be in luck.

Google Assistant, like Siri (Apple) and Alexa (Amazon), is a personal assistant — albeit virtual — who can help you tackle nearly any task that doesn’t require getting in the car and going somewhere.

If you’re new to Google Assistant and would like to learn more about how it can make your life easier by helping you in various ways at home and at work, this article is for you. But before we learn the specifics, let’s learn a bit more about this brilliant innovation in software.

What Is Google Assistant

What Is Google Assistant?

Google Assistant is a voice-commanded virtual assistant that works with most Google devices. According to the app description on Google Play, Google Assistant “ is an easy way to use your phone and apps, hands-free … It can help you set reminders and alarms, manage your schedule, look up answers, navigate and control smart home devices while away from home, and much more.”

How Can Google Assistant Help Make Your Life Easier?

Check out these 6 ways Google Assistant can streamline and enhance your life — both at home and at work.

1. It makes phone calls a breeze.

Ever lamented the disappearance of the operator? Just dial zero and you get an actual person who can look up a phone number for you, right? Well, the operator is back with Google Assistant.

The next time you need to call a company, business, organization, as long as it’s listed online and can be found via Google, just get Google Assistant on the line and say the entity you’re trying to call.

2. Texts are simpler too.

What about hands-free texting? Yep, Google Assistant does that. You may be driving, cooking, or in the middle of something else — simply ask Google Assistant to read back or draft a text message.

3. It can set reminders.

What’s your first instinct when someone tells you, “Hey, don’t forget to _____!” naturally, you want to write it down somewhere or scramble for your agenda before you forget what you have to remember.

This is where Google Assistant is exceptionally useful. Whether it’s an appointment on Thursday at 4 PM or a meeting every Monday at 9 AM, just tell Google Assistant to, “Remind me to ____” and say the event or reminder and the date, time, and frequency.

4. It can streamline your home life.

Google Assistant can even make your boring regular home into a smart home! Sit on your couch and ask Google about the weather, tell it to play music, or give it a task like turning on the lights. Just remember you may need Google compatible devices (speakers, lights, etc.).

5. It can keep you up to date on the news.

Just ask Google Assistant a question related to current events, and you’ll get instant results. Say, “How’s Apple’s stock doing?” “What’s happening today in Chicago?” or “Who won last night’s Tigers game?”

6. It can make reminders based on location.

Remember how well Google Assistant was at setting up your calendar and reminding you of things? It gets even better. The next time you randomly think of something you need to add to your grocery list, for example, just tell Google.

Google Assistant can remind you of things based on location. Let’s say you remember that you want to buy bananas at the store, and you plan on stopping there after work. Just say, “Remind me to buy bananas when I get to Rick’s Grocer.”

Do You Have the Right Device for Google Assistant?

As a final note, remember that only compatible devices work with Google Assistant. In other words, just because a device you own was made by Google or operates with Google search doesn’t always mean you can use this feature. Most Android and Chromecast devices, Lenovo Smart Display and other smart TVs, Nest Hub, and related devices can be used. They must have updated software, however, and Google Assistant must be downloaded (as an app) and enabled in the settings as well.


Improve Network Performance With Your iPhone

Network Performance

Improve Network Performance With Your iPhone

In today’s remote working world, many people are exploring the world. However, bad signal and hotspot coverage are two of the most frustrating issues you’ll face. Here are a few ways to improve coverage and the reliability of your hotspot, so that you can get more work done on the go.

Network Performance

Improving Your Network Signal

To start, you’ll want to try to signal, because, without a signal, your hotspot coverage won’t work. Here are a few ways to ensure your iPhone isn’t contributing to your reception issues.

  • Toggle Airplane Mode: Swipe from the top right of your screen to access the Control Center, then tap your Airplane Mode icon. It will turn orange to show it’s on. This disables your connections, so after a minute, switch it back off, which will sometimes improve your signal.
  • Check Your Carrier Settings: A simple fix, Open Settings/General/About. If your carrier updated its settings but the device hasn’t updated to those settings, an alert will prompt you to install the update from the carrier. If it doesn’t show up, you’re already up-to-date and can go to the next step.
  • Restart: For a phone with the Home button, hold the sleep/wake button down until a power slider appears. Drag the slider to off, then after a minute, press and hold the sleep/wake button to turn it on. For iPhones with Face ID, press and hold sleep/wake and volume up or down buttons simultaneously until your power slider appears, and slide it off. After a minute, touch and hold the sleep/wake button to turn it on again.
  • Force Reset: For an iPhone with the Home button, hold both home and power buttons at the same time until the Apple logo shows up. A Face ID iPhone can be reset by pressing volume up, then volume down, then pressing and holding the side button until the Apple logo shows up.
  • SIM Removal and Replacement: If nothing else has worked, remove and reset your SIM card. Insert your SIM removal tool or a paperclip end until the SIM tray pops out, check if the SIM is damaged and reinsert it.
  • Network Settings Reset: This means you have to reapply all your passwords and connections. However, it can fix both coverage and hotspot problems. To reset, open Settings/General/Transfer or Reset iPhone/Reset, and select Reset network settings. When the warning message appears, tap Reset settings. Your iPhone restarts and you may have better connectivity.

Personal Hotspot Issues

Your personal hotspot is at Settings/Personal Hotspot, listed under Cellular Data, which is located at the top of the first Settings page that shows up. If the option doesn’t show up, your carrier doesn’t support it, or you have to contact the carrier to have it added to your account. If you know it should be working but isn’t, here are some options:

  • Check Easy Personal Hotspot Settings: Open Settings/Personal Hotspot and check if the Allow Others to Join checkbox is checked. If it isn’t, check it and your devices should be able to see it. You could also check your Control Center to double-check if Airplane Mode is active.
  • Check Harder Personal Hotspot Settings: Open your Settings/Personal Hotspot and check the bottom of the page. Turn on the setting Maximize Compatibility, and it may improve device connectivity.
  • Toggle Wi-Fi: If your device isn’t finding your Personal Hotspot, try switching the device’s Wi-Fi off and on. Toggling this setting can force the device’s Wi-Fi to find your Personal Hotspot.
  • Restart All Devices: If your Personal Hotspot still isn’t working, restart your iPhone, then restart all the devices you’re trying to connect to it, which may reset all of the connections.
  • Try a Different Connection Method: The Personal Hotspot can be connected with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a USB cable. Oftentimes, if Wi-Fi doesn’t work well, another connection method will. However, for a Windows PC, you may have to install iTunes, then log in using your AppleID.
  • Network Settings Reset: This is the same as the connection fix above, and you can follow the above instructions.

If nothing is working, you may have a SIM card or device problem that your carrier will need to fix.

Thanks to Guy Baroan at Baroan Technologies for this article.

What is USB C?

USB Type C

What Is USB C?

Are you using one of the latest laptop models? Then, you probably have come across the new USB Type-C. The advent of this new connection standard port eliminates multiple challenges faced while using previous chargers.

With the earlier chargers, you had to replace them whenever you purchased a new laptop. The USB Type-C port has replaced the type-A port on the latest laptops, tablets, and phones. While most devices are shifting towards this new technology age, iPad and iPhone users still rely on Apple’s proprietary lightning connector.

Here’s everything you need to know concerning USB Type-C.


The USB-C Demystified

The new USB-C connector delivers data to and from computing devices. The USB Type-C comes in a rectangular shape with curved, smooth corners. There’s no chance that you’ll insert it wrongly with this symmetrical shape. Besides, the USB-C is narrow enough to fit your phone with ease. Its form makes it ideal for phones, computers, and gaming consoles.

The MacBook Pro and Samsung Galaxy phones top the list of popular devices using USB-C cables.

What Benefits Does USB-C Offer?

The USB-C connector has multiple features that are ideal for today’s users. Depending on the specific port’s implementation, the USB-C connector offers diverse advantages, including:

  • Speed: Working with the USB-C offers you access to the USB’ protocol latest version. You’ll enjoy zippy speeds that guarantee data transfers of up to ten gigabits per second. Ensure that you go for the best USB port standards, 3.1, 3.2, and Thunderbolt 3, to get ideal transfer speeds. Plugging your cable into a USB 3.1 port delivers 10 GB of data per second, while a USB 3.2 port offers 20 GB per second. Using Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 provides transfer speeds of up to 40GB per second.
  • Size: Unlike its predecessors, type-B and C, the USB-C has a smaller height and width. Its smaller size is valuable in ensuring that smartphone and laptop USB ports remain clean.
  • Enhanced power output: With the USB-C, you get to enjoy a power output of up to 100 watts thanks to its power delivery 3.0 technology. This connector offers little to worry about while working with laptops. Besides, the increased power output means that your devices will charge faster. You also get to charge high-powered devices with this new connector. This connector also features a two-way charging capability.
  • Symmetrical: Earlier USB connectors require you to plug them into their ports in a specific orientation. However, the USB-C connector comes in a reversible form that lets you plug it in either way. Also, its pin configuration enables this feature. Unlike the previous USB connectors, the USB-C has no ‘right side up’ way that you need to plug in. When you are in a hurry, the USB-C connector won’t disappoint.
  • Long-lasting: This robust connector can withstand up to 10000 insertion and removal cycles compared to its predecessors, which withstood only 1500 cycles.
  • Guaranteed Safety: The USB Implementer Forum launched a USB Type-C authentication program protecting against non-compliant USB threats. With this program, your smartphone can interrupt data and current flow if it detects a suspicious USB-C plugged in.
  • Consistent Support: Globally established smartphone and laptop manufacturers like HP, Samsung, Apple, and Dell deliver excellent support for USB-C users.

Getting The Suitable USB-C Connector

While the USB-C connector offers significant promise for the future, you need to understand some of its key features to make the right choice. First, USB-C ports are not always identical and function differently. Also, these connectors might not work on devices that are not compatible.

Besides, not all USB-C products support this connector’s full capability. Ultimately, product manufacturers determine how much users can get from this robust connector. Brands that target the high-end market will, typically, ensure that you leverage the full potential of the USB-C connector.

It would be helpful to check your product’s specs on the manufacturer’s official website to know if it supports all the features of the USB Type-C connector.

Should You Get A USB-C Connector?

USB-C manufacturers have designed this product to serve present and future client needs. If you are looking to stay ahead of the curve, the USB Type-C connector will deliver for you. The USB-C connector delivers faster speeds, durability, secure data transfer, and higher power output. These features make it an ideal choice for mobile device users.

Thanks to the team at DataEcon in Dallas for their help with this content.

Manually Update Windows Defender

Manually Update Windows Defender

Manually Update Windows Defender

Online security is more important than ever, and given the prevalence of Windows operating systems, knowing how to update Microsoft Defender, the built-in anti-malware package included with modern Windows operating systems, is vital to your security plans. Alternately known as Windows Security, it’s the go-to tool for PC security. However, as with general Windows Update runs, sometimes the Defender updates don’t work. They’re usually a part of regular Windows updates, but if it’s not working for you, there are other ways to update Defender.

Manually Update Windows Defender

1. Use Microsoft Defender’s Update Facility

Under the Settings app, you can get into Windows Security facilities by selecting Start>Settings>Update & Security>Windows Security when using Windows 10, swapping out for Privacy & Security in Windows 11 for the third step. You’ll find a button that says “Open Windows Security”. You can also open it directly by putting “Windows Security” in your Start menu.

The app has several entries, including “Virus & Threat Protection”. Click this procedure and look for the “Virus & Threat Protection Updates” at the bottom. Click the “Check for Updates” link at the bottom to start Defender checking for any available updates. If they’re available, they’ll be downloaded and installed. If Windows Update is stuck, it may work, or it may not. Fortunately, there’s another way to force a Microsoft Defender update, which we’ll cover next.

2. Update Defender Signatures Under Update-MpSignature

Using PowerShell, you can use a command to update the security definitions or signatures for Defender. It’s a simple, basic syntax for the command by just typing the command name in PowerShell. It works in both Windows 10 and 11, and though it doesn’t look like it does much in PowerShell, it does update Defender.

To check your protection, click “Virus & Threat Protection” in Windows Security, accessed as above, then scroll to “Virus & Threat Protection Updates” and click on “Protection Updates”. This allows you to check what version number you have in the signature, or security intelligence version.

3. Update Defender components in Microsoft

There’s a specific Microsoft web page for Defender updates titled “Microsoft Defender Update for Windows Operating System Installation Images”, which mentions there are three components to the Defender environment, all of which need regular updates. Because the signatures are changed daily, your anti-malware client and anti-malware engine, the two other specific parts of the Defender system, also need to be updated regularly to keep everything in balance. These updates typically happen one to four times monthly, depending on the severity of malware activity. Here are several methods for updating all parts of Defender:

Get Installation Images for Offline Updating

The page mentioned above provides you with a ZIP file to download for 23- or 64-bit Windows systems, with 32 not available for Windows 11. Because the page is constantly updated, refresh it to get the most recent version. Once you’ve downloaded your file, unzip the download contents to a directory, such as C:\Defender Update, which creates a file structure you can work within PowerShell, with a PowerShell Script that can handle your .CAB file for the updates to all three components. Then invoke your PowerShell script so that you can add the update to your offline Windows image, with the same script supporting removal and rollback, along with list detail operations.

Updating Online Images

Because the Microsoft Update Catalog keeps Defender updates for Windows 10 using x86, x64, and ARM versions. Do a search for Microsoft Defender in the Catalog to locate them. For 64-bit systems, find one that has amd64fre at the end of the description. Others include x86fre for 32-bit systems as well as arm64fre for 64-bit ARM units. Because the files are self-installing executables, you can run them onto a Windows 10 machine anytime, though they’re not yet available for Windows 11.

With the different ways to download signatures and executables for Microsoft Defender, there are many ways to bring your system up to date. Start with automated Windows Update options, then move to manual updates in Windows Security, and finally use PowerShell for signature updates. Defender installation images can also be used, or the Microsoft Update Catalog. By knowing these methods, you’ll always be able to keep your Windows system updated.

Written by:  Mark and Art at Mathe, a team of IT specialists providing cloud services for accountants.

Apple Notes Tips

Apple Notes

Apple Notes Tips

With the dawn of the new year, January is the perfect time to get your to-do list in order. But these days, most people’s lists are complicated agendas full of work and personal items, multiple schedules, and seemingly endless tasks. To keep things straight, one thing that can help is a savvy note-taking app.

Apple’s Notes is one of the easiest-to-use, most user-friendly apps for both laypeople and executives. It is available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, meaning it can be synced across your devices for easy access all the time.

Here are a few tips for making Notes work even better for you.

Apple Notes

Having a hard time juggling your to-dos? Use these tips to make Notes work for you.

1. Don’t just use Notes to save lists and text.

While most of what you record with Notes may be lists and notes, you can also add pictures, documents, links, websites, and more. Effectively, this can make Notes into a collage of sorts. It’s excellent for brainstorming and compiling research. Create vision boards for upcoming projects or folders and sub-folders to sort your ideas.

2. Collaborate with friends and co-workers by using shared Notes.

Whether it’s a shopping list you both want to be in on or a list of work tasks, shared Notes can help you stay in sync with your friends, family, and coworkers. What’s more, you can easily check the date and time on various edits to see when they were made.

3. Use dictation to make quick and easy notes.

Any time you think of something to jot down, tell Siri. A quick “hey Siri” will prompt her to ask you what it is you want to do. Tell her you’d like to “Make a note” or “Make a list.” Siri will ask you what you want it to say. Dictate your message, and you’re good to go.

4. Sync Notes with all your devices.

When you get that great idea in the car, add a dictated note to the Notes app. Later, at work, you’ll remember it when you see it appear on your desktop version.

At work, jot down your grocery list on your computer version of Notes. No need to print it out or text it to yourself before heading to the store. Once you get inside, you’ll have the same list of items on your phone and at your fingertips.

5. Try out the gallery view.

Organize your notes in a new way. While some people like list view for keeping track of files and lists, gallery view helps you visualize what’s in each note or folder. This view will take an image from the top of your note and use it as the icon for the gallery.

6. Color code your Notes for a simple categorization strategy.

Take advantage of the color-coding option on Notes. You can add a color tag to each note you create for a simple “filing system.”

Let’s say you keep three different types of notes in your Notes app: those related to work like brainstormed ideas and tasks to delegate, those related to personal affairs like grocery lists and to-dos, and those related to your kids’ schedules.

Simply assign a color to each of these categories, and in an instant — whenever you need to — you can pull up all the notes associated with the color/category you need to access.

7. Add tags for more detailed categorization.

Tags are commonly used on websites and with Internet search engines to keep like pages, blog posts, pictures, etc. together. If you want to use tags, simply type a “#” or hash and then add your tag. For example, if you want to make individual ongoing shopping lists for three or four different stores, tag each separate list with its own tag, and you’ll be able to easily find each one when you need it.

Tags should be short and simple words or phrases that describe a category. Multiple tags can be used on one note if you like. Keep them at the bottom of each note for a uniform appearance.

What’s your New Year’s resolution? Make this year the year you get organized.

We hope these tips can help make your New Year’s more organized! Download Notes today from the app store, and be sure to sync it across all your devices.

Thanks to David with CEU Technologies for his help creating this article.

11 Unexpected Ways to Manage Chromebook Files

11 Unexpected Ways to Manage Chromebook Files

11 Unexpected Ways to Manage Chromebook Files

Chromebooks have been around for over a decade now, but at the beginning, they weren’t intended for file management, with the original Chromebooks not even having a Files app. Copying or moving data, finding files or wirelessly transferring and syncing files with other systems was virtually impossible. But as they say in show business, you’ve come a long way, baby, and today’s Chromebooks are designed to be sophisticated devices with plenty of file management options. However, the best possibilities are easy to miss, because they’re not available at the surface. If you use a Chromebook for productivity, these next-level file management options deliver a higher level of efficiency on your experience.

11 Unexpected Ways to Manage Chromebook Files

Ways to Manage Chromebook Files

  1. Chrome OS revolves around Google apps, but you can integrate Chromebook with other cloud options. Install the Android app for the cloud storage service of your choice. Provided that the service works with the standard for the Chrome OS file system, such as OneDrive or Dropbox, you can see it as an automatic option in the Chrome OS app after you’ve set it up and signed in.
  2. Though files downloaded from the web are also in your cloud, there’s also a local device folder. Type “chrome:settings” into the address bar of your browser window, choose Advanced and then Downloads on the left sidebar menu, then look for the line labeled as Location in the main screen area. Click the Change button next to that line to choose or create new folders in your Google Drive storage, so anything downloaded in Chrome to be saved to Drive is available as soon as you sign in.
  3. You can crank up your Chromebook’s connectivity by setting up your Android phone or your Windows or Mac computer all sync downloads to the same Drive folder, which gives you an internet-based Downloads folder that goes across all of your devices. That makes any download from any device always available, no matter which connected device you’re using at the time.
  4. Transfer files between your Chromebook and another Android device by looking for the “Nearly Visibility” in your Chrome OS Quick Settings panel, in the lower right corner of your screen. This lets you activate and configure Nearby Share so you can easily pass files back and forth between your devices wirelessly.
  5. Create customized shortcuts to your commonly-used folders, either from your connected cloud service or local storage. Use the left panel of the Chromebook’s Files app to obtain easy access on an ongoing basis. Find the folder you want to add, right-click it, and select “Pin folder” to make it easily accessible.
  6. Chrome OS Tote, at the left of the clock in your bottom status bar, looks like a box with a downward-facing arrow in it, and it will automatically show any files you’ve used recently. Pin particular folders or files by pulling them up in the main Files app panel, right-click the folder or file, then choose “Pin to shelf” in the menu that shows up.
  7. Transport yourself into Chromebook’s file manager instantly with a simple key combination: Shift-Alt-M.
  8. Next time you’re in Chrome’s Files app, switch between sections by using the Ctrl key with the number key that is related to its position, such as Ctrl-1 for Recent, Ctrl-3 for your Images, etc.
  9. To save time on renaming, highlight the item in Files, then hit Ctrl-Enter to change the name without a lot of clicking or menus.
  10. Use Files’ build-in photo enhancement options for basic changes. While looking at images in files, look for Crop & Rotate, Lighting Filters, Annotate and Rescale buttons at the top of the screen.
  11. Add the Solid Explorer app to get a two-panel view to quickly drag and drop folders and files between locations, including home OS storage and cloud-based storage options that you’ve connected. It lets you add additional encryption as well as password-protected ZIP and 7ZIP archives. After a two-week trial, it’s only $3.

These easy ways to manage files in Chromebook allow you to get the most out of your Chrome OS system. Keep reading to discover more tips and tricks to make your digital life easier, faster and more productive than ever before.

What Are Workers’ Rights in the Face of Employee Monitoring?

What Are Workers' Rights in the Face of Employee Monitoring

What Are Workers’ Rights in the Face of Employee Monitoring?

As the use of technology in our everyday lives continues to increase, it’s no surprise that any legislation surrounding that technology is constantly lagging behind. After all, it’s usually impossible to know the potential dangers of technology until damage has been done.

Fortunately, legislation usually has a chance to catch up sooner or later. And that’s just what’s happening right now in regards to workers’ rights and over-monitoring by employers.
What Are Workers' Rights in the Face of Employee Monitoring

The Rise of Employee Monitoring Practices

The COVID-19 pandemic changed many aspects of our lives — from the way we get groceries and interact with friends and family members, to how we care for our children and do our jobs. Most notably, unless your job wouldn’t permit it or you already worked independently or remotely before the pandemic, work-from-home was an inevitable shift that most people experienced. Instead of waking up at 7am to shower, eat breakfast, and begin a commute to the office, millions of Americans woke up at 8am and made the long trek from their bedrooms to their home offices.

For many, the shift was a welcome change. An increasing number of people were able to see the joys of staying home and being more efficient on their own. Would-be hour-long meetings turned into short emails that were just as effective. And the saved time from these meetings, the commute, and chit-chatting at the water cooler turned into quality time with family members, plus more time for self-care, hobbies, and dare we say it — fun.

Unfortunately, this was the perspective of most employees. Employers did not share the same sentiments. On the contrary, many employers saw the influx of remote work as a problem. How could one keep proper tabs on their workers when they were at home and beyond their immediate control?

While some employers were able to navigate the work-from-home change quite swimmingly (“As long as everyone gets their work done, we’re good!”), others decided to invest in powerful new technologies that would leverage all of the micromanaging power possible in order to monitor their workers. This meant that even when workers were out of their immediate reach, employers could see what they were doing and when.

How close is too close?

It should go without saying that employee monitoring, on the whole, is neither new nor inherently sinister. After all, what is a boss’s role in the physical workplace if not to make sure their workers are on-task and not spending all their time browsing the web or sleeping at their desks?

Moreover, monitoring software is not entirely new. Even before the pandemic, many in-office employers utilized monitoring software to ensure their workers were ticking off their lists of duties at an acceptable rate. Web browsing histories were monitored as well, as were interoffice emails, software logins, and more.

So, what’s the difference now?

Are employees pushing back?

The key difference with work-at-home employee monitoring is that micromanagement is being carried out in people’s homes. Their personal lives are being affected, and employees are not happy.

One of the reasons workers are disgruntled is that their privacy is often breached. Some employees are forced to work in front of webcams, for example, which can lead to micromanaging at its worst (having to announce when you’re going to the restroom, for example) as well as privacy breaches for other family members or situations that are not work-related.

Warehouse workers and truck drivers, for example, are often required to have GPS locators or other tracking devices on them at all times. New technologies from companies like Microsoft and Fujitsu are even being developed to monitor emotions and how well employees are concentrating on their work — mostly based on facial expressions and body posturing via video streams.

Will a call for new regulations give more rights to workers?

Amidst the changes that COVID-19 has brought about, there are growing calls for better laws in regard to employee monitoring. Again, this type of legislation often lags behind, but it’s catching up now.

Companies that have obviously breached their workers’ rights are being sued and frequently have to pay out millions in compensation as a result. Both the United States and the UK have seen a strong demand for new regulatory stances on employee rights. Although these changes are still largely in their preliminary phase, it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing the rollout of new laws and regulations concerning this matter in the near future.

Can Technology Reverse the Workforce – Depleting ‘Great Resignation’ of 2021?

Great Resignation

Can Technology Reverse the Workforce – Depleting ‘Great Resignation’ of 2021?

Although remote and other technology appears to be an underlying cause of the 2021 “Great Resignation,” it may also hold the key to a“Great Return.”

Many believed the mass exodus from the workforce had peaked in April when a total of 24 million had quit for the year. But month-over-month attrition rates have remained staggeringly high. More than 4 million Americans quit their job in July. During September and October, the monthly dropout rate hovered around 4.4 million, and the year’s tally exceeds 38 million and rising.

What makes this modern-day phenomenon perplexing is that the U.S. carries upwards of 10 million job openings, with an annual high of 11.1 million during July and 10.44 million in September. These heightened numbers seem to indicate everyday people are quoting David Allan Coe’s 1978 hit by telling the corporate world to “take this jobs and shove it, I ain’t working here no more.”

Technology Sector Hit Hard by Great Resignation

To date, at least 40 percent of the existing workforce indicates they are contemplating leaving their position. In the U.S., more than 70 percent of people in the technology industry say they are on the fence. Many appear to be positioning themselves to quit in favor of another job or just fall out of the workforce over the next 12 months.

Economists and employment experts point to wide-reaching reasons why people are dropping out in record numbers. Free money in the form of stimulus checks and the sharp increase in remote opportunities are considered driving factors. Cynics simply shrug off the movement, indicating over-entitled Millennials and Gen Z employees don’t have the work ethic of other demographics or can’t handle the stress. Such remarks are typically echoed from one generation to the next. James Forbis, an IT services expert in Cincinnati, OH shares, ” research and anecdotal evidence by people who participated in the trend highlighted the following reasons for their decision.”

  • Failing Technology: Faltering laptops, networks, and systems frustrated employees who were thrust into work-from-home situations. Many had little or no experience working offsite, and the change was incompatible with a healthy work-life balance.
  • Toxicity: Low incomes, stressful workloads, and feelings of under-appreciation reportedly led many to quit.
  • Loss of Control: Pandemic displacement and return to brick and mortar facilities took away a sense of ownership. Employees tended to believe they were not “heard,” and their jobs felt dissatisfying.

Among technology sector professionals, more than 90 percent of employees were disgruntled about the lack of training and learning opportunities. It may seem counterintuitive, but the very technological advancements that helped shepherd workers through the height of the pandemic appear to be infuriating them.

But living in the technology age means that nothing stands still. New developments and innovative ways to utilize existing technology could prove invaluable in reversing quit rates.

Can Technology Help a “Great Return” to the Workforce?

It’s important to avoid looking at the Great Resignation solely through the lens of technology. There are wide-reaching cultural and economic factors in play that can also provide insight into employer solutions.

For example, Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao indicates that companies may be shooting themselves in the foot concerning remote talents. He recently posed the question about how companies such as Amazon and Microsoft planned to compete over the same technology talent. Will they offer salaries based on adjusted regional averages or higher ones to prevent employee migration?

That same concept applies to small business owners who find themselves in a global talent pool. But in terms of the role technology plays, the following strategies can help usher in a Great Return to the workforce.

  • Collaboration Tools: Easy-to-use apps and devices can help bridge the culture gap. Although people from different walks of life come to the organization with unique perspectives, collaborative tools support team building. Better remote connections typically lead to better results.
  • End Big Brother: Supervisors who suddenly lost in-person monitoring were pleased to discover surveillance technologies. Loyal and hard-working employees find the use of screen activity monitoring, mouse click counting, and other metrics offensive. Organizations would be better served to use technology to fairly evaluate productivity based on outcomes, not the process.
  • Maintain Remote Flexible: A recent Gartner study indicates more than half of the global workforce expects work-from-anywhere options. In 2019, only 17 percent of employees held that expectation. Given this live-work trend, company leaders would be well-served to invest in remote infrastructure.

Thought leaders who pivoted to remote workforces during the height of the pandemic are tasked with reevaluating their use of technology. Just as improved infrastructure, agility, and a willingness to adapt buoyed productivity, new strategies will help professionals adapt technology to a shifting business landscape.


What Is Apple Business Essentials?

Apple Business Essentials

Apple Business Essentials

A little more than a year ago, Apple acquired a platform called Fleetsmith with the intention of using it to create business management software. Now, that goal has finally come to fruition with the release of Apple’s Business Essentials in beta.

Based in the cloud, Fleetsmith device management software originally aimed to “balance the management and security needs of IT with the experience users love about Mac, iPad, and iPhone.” Now a part of Apple, Fleetsmith has been the foundational software for Business Essentials, a spin-off of Apple Business Manager, but for small and midsized businesses (SMBs).

Below, we’ll take a look at this new software and answer some common questions regarding its features, usability, and applications.

What Is Business Essentials?

According to Apple’s website, Business Essentials is “one complete subscription that seamlessly brings together device management, 24/7 support, and cloud storage.” Business Essentials works on all Apple devices, including desktop Macs, iPads, and iPhones. The unique thing about Business Essentials is that it is designed specifically for small and midsized companies. Qualifying businesses can have up to 500 employees or as few as one employee.

Apple’s Business Manager is for larger businesses that use Apple devices, but up until now, no equivalent software had been available for smaller businesses or startups.

How Much Does Apple Business Essentials Cost?

Instead of being a single-purchase software, Business Essentials is offered as a subscription service. Users can choose from three subscription plans. The first and most inexpensive plan is called the “Single device plan.” This plan includes 50 GB of storage and costs $2.99 per month for every device used with the software. It is a single device plan, and as the name implies, it can only be used with one device per user.

The next plan up is called the “Multidevice plan.” This plan costs $6.99 per user per month and includes 200 GB of storage. The plan allows you to manage up to three devices per user. So, for example, if you are self-employed and plan to use the software on both your iPhone and your desktop Mac computer, you would pay one subscription fee of $6.99 every month. If you had one employee who also planned to use the software on their iPhone, iPad, and laptop, you would need to pay an additional fee of $6.99 every month.

Finally, there is the “Multidevice, more storage plan.” This plan costs $12.99 per user per month, and it allows you to use up to three devices per user. It includes a whopping 2 TB of storage.

Should Your Business Invest in Business Essentials?

If you own a small or midsized business (or if you are considering starting a new business), Business Essentials could be a great investment for you. This is, again, especially true if you primarily use Apple devices already. The software is especially recommended for new business owners, sole proprietors, and self-employed freelancers. That’s because many of these individuals won’t have employees to start out with. This allows them to still get state-of-the-art business management software and pay only $2.99 a month.

Business Essentials is also uniquely helpful for these individuals (and those who just have a few employees) because your organizational needs won’t be too complicated, to begin with. In this way, it’s much better to use business management software that targets small and midsized businesses in particular. Using complex and expensive software that’s targeted at larger companies is asking for trouble.

When Will Business Essentials Be Available for Purchase?

As stated above, Business Essentials is technically already available, but it’s still in beta mode. This means that it’s being released to a select few users who will be able to test the software for free before it is officially launched. Apple has designated the spring of 2022 as when the paid version will be launched, but it is now taking applications for beta testers.

If you would like to be a beta tester for Apple Business Essentials, head here and fill out the online application form. Keep in mind you will need to have an Apple Business Manager account in order to apply. If you are accepted as a beta tester, you will have your Apple Business Manager account upgraded with the additional features offered through Apple Business Essentials.

Microsoft & Meta Partner to Integrate Teams and Workplace for Easier Collaboration

Microsoft & Meta Partner to Integrate Teams and Workplace for Easier Collaboration

Microsoft & Meta Partner to Integrate Teams and Workplace for Easier Collaboration

Competing Social Software Giants Offer Customer-Requested Consolidation of the Two Applications’ Best Features

  • Workplace stated in May 2021 that it has reached a milestone of 7 million paying members. Microsoft similarly revealed later that July that its Teams platform had 250 million unique monthly users.
  • Users will be able to link Workplace with Microsoft Teams thanks to a collaboration launched by Meta, previously recognized as Facebook.
  • The collaboration between Meta and Microsoft is essentially a coming together of two of the industry’s biggest rivals in the business communication software sector.
  • The alliance could become particularly useful to Meta, whose Workplace offering has a far lower user base than competing companies.

Meta, the social conglomerate previously known as Facebook, established a collaboration with Microsoft on Wednesday, November 10th, 2021 that allows clients to connect Meta’s Workplace social networking application with Microsoft Teams software. With 7 million paying subscribers using Workplace and 250 million people using Microsoft Teams, the collab has enormous potential in the enterprise communication space.

While Meta and Microsoft have partnered to unite two competitors in the business communication software industry, Meta’s Workplace and Microsoft Teams don’t completely overlap. Teams is centered on rapid communication among employees and their immediate coworkers, whereas Workplace is concentrated on large, company-wide interactions.

Clients may now access Workplace data from within the Teams application. Users may also watch video conferences from Teams on the Workplace application. Customers on both platforms can participate in conferences hosted on the other app without having to switch to that platform. For example, they can comment, reply with emojis, and interact in other ways without having to toggle between communication applications.

Ujjwal Singh, Workplace’s Head of Product, says of the integration, “[This] will make it easier for people who use both tools for work to keep up to date with information and create even more opportunities for company-wide engagement. The way our customers end up using it is customers use the complementary features, not the competing features,” he continues. “There are customers that are just Workplace shops, and then there are customers that are just Teams shops. This is really for those customers that use both.”

The connectivity will be especially useful for clients who utilize Workplace for daily tasks but use Microsoft Teams as their primary enterprise communications technology. This partnership makes the most sense for Meta because it enables users to access content in Workplace and import that data to other places where they invest the majority of their time. According to Angela Ashenden, Principal Analyst at CCS Insight, “by surfacing the newsfeed in Teams, Workplace can continue to reach those employees, while allowing comms and HR leaders to retain control over the communications and employee engagement platform strategy.”

Tools that facilitate remote work continue to gain traction as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and both Microsoft and Meta are reportedly developing deeper VR-based remote work solutions. This agreement reaffirms both organizations’ commitment to working remotely and accelerates Meta’s objective of creating a metaverse that delivers a completely immersive virtual environment. The move cements long-standing collaboration with other platforms, as Microsoft and Meta clients have already been able to link Workplace with Google’s OneDrive, SharePoint, and the Microsoft Office 365 suite.

The Head of 365 Collaboration for Microsoft Jeff Taper says, “One thing I’ve learned is there’s not going to be a one and only one communications tool on the planet.” He continued, summarizing that remote and brick-and-mortar office workers will toggle between several different tools to achieve maximum efficiency and productivity. The partnership between Microsoft and Meta shows promise in leading the way for competing tools to find ways for clients to integrate their work between applications and spend less time switching back and forth. Expect to see other large applications used in remote work to follow suit.

As far as the future of the collaboration is concerned, Singh has high hopes. “I would say we’re best in class around community, connection, people first and serving all employees,” he says. “Teams is arguably best in class around productivity, so this is really two best-in-class products coming together to solve an employee-experience problem.”