Push Notifications Arrive on Windows

Push Notifications are among Simple In/Out’s most popular features.  Keeping tabs on your users can be a chore, but Push Notifications make this easy by getting your attention when things happen.  No need to constantly check your board, Simple In/Out will let you know when folks are checking in/out.

We’ve supported Push Notifications in our iOS and Android apps for a while.  We also support it on Mac desktop via Safari.  Today, we’re adding Windows Phone and our Windows desktop application to the list of apps supporting Push Notification.  Now, you can get those same great notifications on your Windows Phone or computer.  You can follow everyone in your organization, or pick and choose the users that you follow.  It’s entirely up to you.

We hope this feature really improves the experience for our Simple In/Out Windows users.

Schedule Future Statuses in Simple In/Out

We’ve had a lot of requests over the years for Simple In/Out features.  We love receiving emails with ideas from our customers, and they heavily drive our roadmap.  Few requests have gathered as many responses as being able to schedule status updates for the future.

Scheduling a status update is an idea that we never anticipated when we started Simple In/Out back in 2011.  Simple In/Out has always been about what’s happening right now and what happening in the past.  There are a great many of our customers that don’t have a need to see what’s coming in the future, but there are a few customers that have compelling use cases for this functionality.

Future statuses is a feature we’ve been giving thought to for years, and today we’re proud to announce we’re taking the first steps.  Known internally as “Project Firestone”, Simple In/Out now features the ability to tell us when you intend to be In or Out in the future.  When the time comes, Simple In/Out automatically applies your status update, sends any Push Notifications (if your plan supports them), and fires Web Hooks (if you have those or are using our Slack integration).  All the while, those future statuses are viewable by other users like past statuses.  We’ve even built a calendar report to make it easy to see what’s upcoming.

For now, you’ll need to use our website (simpleinout.com) to schedule future statuses.  In the near future, we’ll be adding scheduling to our phone apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.  Look for these updates in the next couple of weeks.

We know that this is a lot of power and while there are organizations that will put this to work immediately, there are also many that will not have a reason to ever use scheduled statuses. We’ve taken great pains to choose good default settings, allowing everyone to see scheduled statuses and only users that can modify the statuses of others to schedule statuses.  These are just the defaults, and organizations can disabled this entirely, allow everyone to schedule statuses, or restrict scheduling to various levels in between.  The choice is completely up to you.  We also identify all scheduled statuses as coming from “Scheduler”, so it’s 100% transparent where any user’s statuses are coming from.

This is the foundation on which we can continue to build some amazing things for Simple In/Out customers.  If you have additional ideas about future statuses (or anything at all), never hesitate to fire us an email.  We come to our office every day with the singular goal of making Simple In/Out the best electronic in/out board around.

Simple In/Out Desktop Apps and Automatic Updates via Presence Monitoring

Simple In/Out learns a new trick, Desktop Presence Monitoring. This is a great new feature for our line of desktop apps that automatically updates your status when your presence changes on your computer. Now you can rely on your computer to change your status as you come and go. This new feature is right at home with our existing automatic update features: Geofences, Beacons, and Networks on supported devices.

Simple In/Out for Mac

The Simple In/Out family just got a little bigger today. We are happy to announce Simple In/Out for Mac, available today. Simple In/Out for Mac joins our current desktop offering for Windows with many of the same great features. You can update your own status from your Recents or Company Favorites as well as creating your own status comments. The board is available in whatever size you need and even works great in full-screen mode. Users profiles can be viewed to see their information as well as past status updates.

We know our users are going to love the new app that is right at home on the Mac. It was written completely in Swift and is available for the latest version of Mac OS X, El Capitan. As with all of our apps, it is free to use with your Simple In/Out subscription. Download the app and try it today.

Simple In/Out for Windows

Simple In/Out for Windows is getting some great new features today as well. In addition to the new Automatic Updating feature, we added a few nice-to-haves including a customizable board refresh interval, the ability to start a new Simple In/Out trial, and control over sound effects. We also did some housekeeping and fixed a few minor issues.

Wednesday Webinars

Today we’re happy to announce a new way to learn more about the Simple In/Out family of apps and services.  Wednesday Webinars will be brief webinars conducted by us to show off new features, new use cases, or core features you may not have known about.  One week we may demonstrate a brand new feature that we just shipped.  One week we may cover a feature you’ve had for a while.  Based on our support, we may cover some of the most popular questions we receive.

Our plan is to conduct a brief, 10 minute or so demonstration of a particular feature.  Afterwards, we’ll stay available for a Question/Answer segment to give users a chance to ask us questions directly.  For us, this is another great avenue to speak directly with new customers, existing customers, and potential customers.

Our first Wednesday Webinar will be tomorrow at 10AM Central.  As with our great email support, our webinars will be conducted by us, the folks that actually build Simple In/Out.  Check one of these out in the future on our Webinar page.

Software Beacons Arrive for FrontDesk on Android

Since the beginning of FrontDesk, we’ve always supported software Beacons within our iOS app.  Apple calls these iBeacons, and they allow your users to automatically check in or out just by carrying their phone within range of the tablet.  Beacons work great for areas where Geofences aren’t accurate enough or small areas where Geofences are overkill.  We sell preconfigured hardware Beacons right on our Simple In/Out Store, but for users with tablets running FrontDesk already, this is a great solution.

Now we’ve brought that same love to the Android version of FrontDesk.  Just like the iOS version, FrontDesk for Android can now act like a Beacon for your users if enabled.  This requires Android hardware running Android 5.0 or greater and the hardware must have a Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) chipset that is enabled by the device manufacturer.

If you’re using FrontDesk for Android, we encourage you to upgrade and give this a try.

Also, here’s a quick update on what’s coming soon to Simple In/Out.  We have 2 major projects that are nearing completion this month:  Project Erin Hills and Project Firestone.  We’re not ready to release details quite yet, but both are new features that have had lots of requests over the years.  In fact, Project Firestone is the most requested feature we’ve had in Simple In/Out history.  Stay tuned!

 

Introducing the Simple In/Out Partner Program

The big announcements for Simple In/Out keep coming in a year that has brought a lot of new features.  Today we’re officially announcing the Simple In/Out Partner Program.  Known internally as Project Deer Run, the Simple In/Out Partner Program allows companies to add their customers and manage their Simple In/Out accounts.  They can add users, Geofences, alter settings, run reports, and more on behalf of their customers.  Their customers get all the capabilities of Simple In/Out with the support and help of their partner.  The partner handles their relationship and billing, with co-branding available.

For as long as we can remember, we’ve been contacted by companies that have wanted to put the power of Simple In/Out to work solving their customers’ problems.  Whether they are MSP, VAR, or whatever acronym you prefer, these are companies that manage solutions for other companies.  Simple In/Out solves so many issues for businesses, we’re a match made in heaven.

There are so many use cases it’s hard to list them all.  Partners managing IT on behalf of companies large and small fit the bill.  If you’re a payroll provider looking for an upgrade to your time keeping, TimeClock and the Partner Program work hand-and-hand.  If you’re a software developer looking to take advantage of the Simple In/Out API to build unique solutions, this is perfect for you.

The Simple In/Out Partner Program officially launches today.  We’d like to thank the partners who have helped us beta test and are already putting Simple In/Out to work for their customers, we couldn’t have done it without you all.

If you’re interested in becoming a Simple In/Out Partner, please contact us today.

Simple In/Out Turns 5!

Today, February 11th, Simple In/Out is officially 5 years old!

It was this date back in 2011 when us founders of Simply Made Apps locked ourselves away for 48 hours to build what would become Simple In/Out.  5 years later, there are still days where it feels a bit surreal.  The man who loves his job never works a day in his life.

As a treat, here are the tweets happening over that first fateful weekend.  We had more than a few chuckles at these around the office this week.

Here’s to the next 5 years!

Tweets from 48 Hour App

Tweets from 48 Hour App

Automatic Updates from WIFI and Linked Companies

February is going to be a huge month for Simple In/Out, and it all starts today with two brand new game-changing features: Automatic Updates via connection to WIFI and Linked Companies.

Automatic Updates from Connection to WIFI

One of Simple In/Out’s pioneering features in 2011 was Geofences, allowing users to automatically sign in and out just by carrying their device.  It’s still among our most popular features.  In 2013 we added support for Beacons, which allow for much smaller areas of automatically check in/out coverage while still being incredibly soft on the user’s phone battery.

Today, we’re proud to launch our third automatic updating feature for Android and Windows Phone.  We call it Networks.  Like Geofences and Beacons, an admin user within the Simple In/Out company adds a WIFI hotspot to the company.  Just like Geofences/Beacons, users can then monitor this Network.  When their phone connects to the Network for internet access, Simple In/Out will check the user in.  When they leave the Network and their phone detects it has disconnected, Simple In/Out will check the user out.  This offers all the advantages of hardware Beacons, but with larger coverage areas and using existing hardware you’re likely to already own and have setup.

We only support Networks within Simple In/Out on Android and Windows Phone.  This also supports automatic updates via the Amazon Fire Phones and BlackBerry via their Android runtimes.  We do NOT support Networks on iOS unfortunately.  This is due to the fact that Apple does not give us the necessary APIs to do so.  We hope that Apple changes this and you better believe if they do, we’ll be among the first to support it.

We believe Networks are a great way to improve the automatic update accuracy for many of our users without needing to purchase Beacon hardware.  We firmly believe that in/out boards should be as automatic as possible, keeping them always up to date.

Linked Companies

The second major announcement is Linked Companies, a great way for large organizations to split their workforce apart for privacy and manageability.  With Linked Companies, organizations can establish a master company that can manage companies underneath it.  The sub-companies behave like stand-alone companies, with all their own users, settings, history, Geofences/Beacons/Networks/Groups etc.  The users in these companies cannot see any of the data in the other companies, yet the master company can view all the companies underneath, manage their users and settings, run reports, etc.

When would Linked Companies make sense?  There are a number of examples:

  1. Franchises that wish to restrict users in one location from seeing users in another location, yet can be managed by one master company.  Think of multiple Starbucks, each with their own sub-company.
  2. Organizations with distinct divisions that require privacy so users can’t see those in the other division while still receiving one bill a month.  Think of municipalities with city auditors, parks district, waste department, vector control, etc.
  3. Large enterprises that wish to hide the oversight personal (like vice presidents) from the rest of the organization while still allowing them to see what’s happening everywhere else.
  4. Companies that want to restrict some users to using TimeClock and hiding history (for punching in) while allowing others to see the history and use Geofences.

Linked Companies receive one monthly bill to the master organization for it and all the sub-companies, and all of the companies below can use whatever plan is necessary to fit their users.  If some companies need Push Notifications and some don’t, you can absolutely do that.

We think Linked Companies open up a lot of great possibilities and more unique use cases for Simple In/Out.

We’re just getting started with an exciting February for Simple In/Out.  We can’t wait to reveal more of the great things we’re working on.

Simple In/Out: Multiple Groups, Phones, and More

Happy New Year from everyone at Simply Made Apps!  We’re going to start 2016 with a new release of Simple In/Out.  Simple In/Out 8.1 brings a couple of big new features we’ve been working on for a while.  Why a while, you may ask?  All these new features needed our brand new API, APIv3, which we use internally as well as offer to the public.

Users can now belong to multiple groups.  This was a big request from many of our large organizations.  This permits slicing and dicing your organization in many different ways at the same time.  Many of our customers use groups for departments, but also for physical locations/branches, special report groups, or board sorting preferences.  Now you can have any/all of these options and more without having to choose just one.  Check out our help video to see the new multiple group editor in action.

Users can have multiple phone numbers.  For our customers using Simple In/Out as a directory, this is awesome.  No more having to sort through your contacts app on your phone when you need a user’s home number because it’s not listed inside Simple In/Out.

Additional user details.  We’ve added a Details field to users as well for extra information.  This can include anything, from job titles, shift information, etc.  For a few of our customers, this additional information is vital to running their business.

Users can upload profile photos right from the apps.  While we added profile photo uploading to simpleinout.com a while ago, we only announced our intention to add this to our phone apps.  Consider that promise kept with this new release.

We’ve also added some improvements for the latest mobile operating systems.  We’ve added support for Force Touch in iOS 9 that came with the iPhone 6s.  We’ve also added support for the new permissions model in Android Marshmallow, so Simple In/Out will only ask for some permissions when you use them, versus the old way of asking for everything we may need when downloading our app from the Play Store.

This is only the beginning, we have a lot in store for the first few months of 2016.  Stay tuned!

 

Free Software Isn’t Free

I was a big booster of Mailbox app. I was on their waiting list almost immediately and Mailbox didn’t disappoint. The ideas of snoozing email and Inbox Zero always matched my mental model for how email should work. When they came out with their Mac app I was elated, though annoyed by the ‘beta’ label.

Then Dropbox purchased them.  Dropbox is itself a great company, so users like me didn’t worry. However, the product languished.  Trouble wasn’t far behind. 

In the wake of the Mailbox app shutdown announced 2 weeks ago, I’m reminded that software that makes our lives easier really should be purchased

We’ve seen this before.  Google Reader’s shutdown left many of us scrambling for alternatives.  Many of those RSS alternatives were long since dead, as it’s hard to compete with free and even harder to compete with a company that can spend you out of business with the money in their couch cushions. 

This has even happened in email clients before. Remember Sparrow?

When you play the free game, your revenue opportunities are limited to advertising or acquisition. Both have high probabilities of bad outcomes for consumers.

When you charge for your app/service, you have every incentive to improve it and make it better. You also have a disincentive to sell your property to someone that may not be interested in maintaining it. 

Want more revenue?  Get more customers. 

Want more customers?  Build a better product. 

It’s really that easy.  Simple In/Out is a great product and we charge for it. Our wonderful customers provide us all the incentive in the world to wake up every day and make Simple In/Out better. They don’t have to fear us turning out the lights to keep ourselves fed. 

Perhaps if we paid for email clients like Mailbox, things would have gone differently. Sure, they’d have had less users.  But, the users they did have would have been better, more passionate users that would have paid them for the service they provided. I know I sure would have.