Comparing Apples®, Oranges and iThings

by arlene on February 18, 2011

REALTORS at WCR Apple event

A group of REALTORS filled the seats to capacity this morning at the Apple Store in Emeryville, anxious to learn how to use iEverything to advantage in their business.

Organized by our Women’s Council of REALTORS®, East Bay Chapter, the event was designed as much to challenge the Apple “Geniuses” to prove that REALTORS® would really benefit from buying an Apple product, as it was a sales pitch. No prices were mentioned in the one-hour presentation by one of their trainers, other than for their $99/year one-on-one service offer. A one-hour presentation was followed by break-out sessions with nine trainers available to the 20 agents to answer questions and demo capabilities of the iPad, iPhone and various models of Macs.

Here’s what I learned this morning:

Almost everyone will be familiar with Microsoft Office products, and while documents produced on the Apple equivalents cannot be opened by Windows apps, files produced in Windows can be opened in their equivalent Mac product: Pages opens Word files, Numbers opens Excel files, Keynote opens Power Point files, etc. Pages and Keynote, another native app. on any Apple computer, were the ones REALTORS® seemed most likely to benefit from quickly. Keynote made putting together a cool dynamic listing presentation, with moving “Ken Burns” style photo slide show and  a variety of professional-looking transitions, and interactive or timed automatic point changes quite intuitive and quick to put together. One agent in the audience declared it to be easier to work with than Power Point, having used both.

iWeb was briefly discussed as a much simpler alternative to HTML for putting together basic websites, with templates already available for a tasteful-looking beginning. WordPress is available on Mac as on other systems, and has emerged as the platform of choice for self-designed, or at least self-maintained websites.

We were reminded that as sexy as the iPad is, and with over 300,000 (!) apps available, the allure is inescapable, it is NOT a computer. The trainer was good at distinguishing which things were best done on a computer, MAC or otherwise, and which things took advantage of the iPad capability. Clearly the portability, great graphics and instant response of the iPad has tremendous appeal, if apps, email, web-surfing, reading books, and taking advantage of its GPS are primary uses. Doing lots of document preparation is obviously not an appropriate use. Your choice should be based on whether you are creating, or consuming, content.

In one of the breakout sessions I got to plug in an address and see first the street map view, then the bird’s eye view of that location, then view a 360 degree view of the site. Going back to the street map view it’s a simple thing to take a screen shot of the map with address, then email that screen shot to a client, say. Obviously this is iPad-1A, but for those of us still contemplating whether we really need/want one of these devices, that’s a cool move. It was fun to see an iPad owner learn that ability for the first time this morning.

We visited the mobile MLS site: It works fine on the iPhone. But what a difference on the iPad! The ability to see the photos in landscape mode, taking advantage of the graphics capability and the larger size of the device, was truly impressive. That would be a definite wow for clients out on tour!

I was reminded in general how much more intuitive, and more graphically elegant is the Mac environment than that of working on a PC.

While the presentation was scheduled from 9 – 11 am, I stayed until noon, and one of the trainers, Wayne, cheerfully gave me nearly an hour of private consultation on my best option for a mobile computing device. In my role as President of WCR this year I will attend numerous conferences, so I need something small, light-weight but fully functioning, beyond just reading email and web surfing. I arrived assuming I wanted an iPad. The MacBook Air now looks worth a serious look. It is small, runs the same processor as the iPad, which means it starts up nearly instantly–I like that! The aspect ratio is different, wider, than the iPad, ideal for watching movies, which is something I might do on planes.

The store was extremely generous with their support of this event, assigning nine trainers to be available to answer questions to any of the attendees. The trainers were more than willing to answer iPhone questions directly, and I overheard them assisting agents who were still becoming acquainted with their iPhones. But we had promised iPhone information, and I would have liked for them to mention some applications in the main session for everyone. So in the following post I will share some of my favorite free or low-cost apps for the iPhone, especially for real estate. Stay tuned!

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