Behind the Scenes: Product management with Brad

In this week’s Behind the Scenes, we chat with Brad C., Associate Product Manager at Ting!

As a Product Manager, Brad communicates with a number of departments and touches almost every aspect of Ting. Whether weekly meetings with our network partner Sprint, constantly working with our developers to bring new features to the Ting site, ordering new Ting devices or hanging with the marketing team, Brad does it all.

Find out Brad’s thoughts on why Ting is a different mobile provider, some of his major responsibilities, key projects he’s proud of and why he enjoys working here!


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Head to Head: Uber vs Hailo

Have you heard about the newest ways to hail a cab? Apps that use your location to dispatch a ride are quickly gaining in popularity. With several such apps in contention for the throne, we thought we’d pick two of the most popular and get your votes for which one’s best in this week’s episode of Head to Head.

In case it’s your first time seeing this video series, here’s a refresher on how the series works:

Two comparable apps face off and it’s up to you to decide who wins! To vote, click on your favorite app at the end of the video. Voting is open for one week, after which we’ll share the results video to announce the winning app!

For this episode, we’re also giving away four pairs of Ting socks! To be eligible to win:

  1. Subscribe to Ting on YouTube.
  2. Pick your preferred app by clicking the appropriate annotation in the “Head to Head” video below
  3. Comment on the “Thanks for voting” video telling us why it’s your favorite!

Ting customers unaffected by Heartbleed

heartbleedTing was not affected by Heartbleed. Ting uses a different version of SSL than the one that was recently discovered to be vulnerable (OpenSSL).

We originally took the view that no news was good news and decided not to add our voice to the din. The thought was that affected sites should have the loudest voice as they communicate with their customers with important steps to take to protect themselves. This was the wrong approach and we apologize. We should have communicated right away that Ting customers would be unaffected by Heartbleed.

While you should change sensitive passwords regularly and always use password best practices, there is no action required for your Ting account to remain secure at this time.

Mashable has a great list of popular sites affected by Heartbleed. If you see a site you have an account with, be sure to check said site’s official communications to find out the best course of action. You can also check out heartbleed.com for all the gory details of this pervasive and potentially nasty bug.

Ting Personal Shopper turns 1!

It’s been almost a year since we unofficially launched our Personal Shopper program! To those who aren’t familiar, the Ting Personal Shoppers take the hassle out of finding a used device to use on Ting. They’ll scour the used device listings to find the perfect phone for you based on your price, model and feature requirements.

Chi, who manages Customer Service Operations here at Ting, describes the impact of the program:

“The program is a great first interaction with our great support team: People are amazed at how personal the interactions can be, as our Personal Shoppers really work with each customer to find the phone that’s right for them. The feedback that we hear most often is how quick the response time is, and how nice it was to sit back and relax while we take care of the legwork.

Here are some of the stats from the program after one year:

Personal Shopper copy

 

What’s next? Well, the Personal Shopper program will continue to exist alongside a new, automated version we’re working on! If you’d like to utilize the Ting Personal Shoppers to find your next device, head over to Ting used devices page and click on the Personal Shopper icon.

Get-Started

 

 

App of the Week: Onavo Extend

Today’s App of the Week can save you big money on mobile data!

Onavo Extend is a free app that creates a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection on your smartphone to compress the data you download over the mobile network. This compression technology directs your data through Onavo’s server’s, significantly cutting your monthly mobile data usage. For you visual learners out there, Onavo has created a nifty image to explain how their “magical shrinking machine” works:

onavoextend

   Source: www.onavo.com

Keep in mind that it only compresses data that is received by your device, so any photos or videos you send will stay crisp and clear. Onavo Extend is available for Android 4.0+ and iOS 6.0+. Onavo takes privacy seriously. You can check out the Onavo privacy policy to read up on how your privacy is protected.

Onavo Extend

Screenshot 2014-04-10 11.36.38

Free

Download from Google Play

Download from the App Store

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Case study: The Doe Fund and Ting

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PrintThe Doe Fund is a nonprofit organization headquartered in New York, NY. They also happen to be among the Ting customers with the most active devices on their account.

In their own words: For more than two decades, The Doe Fund has provided a proven, effective and sustainable solution to homelessness and criminal recidivism. Built on the premise that “work works,” its cornerstone program, Ready, Willing & Able offers paid job opportunities in tandem with an individualized service package, including transitional housing, occupational training, comprehensive social support, job readiness and placement assistance, and life-long graduate resources. The Community Improvement Project, its most visible initiative, employs program participants at above minimum wage to clean 150 miles of New York City streets daily. To date, more than 5,500 individuals have graduated from the program to lead independent, productive, law-abiding and drug-free lives.


The Doe Fund’s operations span several offices, and include a 400-person staff (63% of whom are program graduates) and a fleet of nearly 100 vehicles that keep the Community Improvement Project moving.

Ryan Hoenle, Director of Information Technology for The Doe Fund discovered Ting while researching options beyond the major cell phone service providers. Now, vehicles in The Doe Fund’s fleet and individuals in their workforce who constantly need to stay in contact are sporting Ting devices.

We had a chance to catch up with Hoenle, to chat and to ask a few burning questions.

The Doe Fund and Ting

While The Doe Fund used mobile devices previously, the pricing structure on Ting means that now, an increased number of more capable devices can be active in the field at a much lower cost. With the sheer number of phones on The Doe Fund’s Ting account, they’d end up paying thousands of dollars a month before anyone even made a phone call with a typical business mobile plan.

“As a non-profit organization, keeping operating costs low means The Doe Fund can provide comprehensive services to even more Ready, Willing & Able participants, helping them on their paths to self-sufficiency,” Hoenle said.

With traditional mobile phone plans, The Doe Fund wasn’t able to outfit the entire fleet with a dedicated device cost effectively.

“At $25 a line for the guy out there that’s only using (his phone) for PTT (push to talk, which works much like a walkie­-talkie over the cell network), that adds up very quickly when you have a number of vehicles and multiple drivers per vehicle.” Hoenle said.

“You get into these cost saving measures where you go ‘he’ll have this phone and this guy’ll have it between this hour and that hour’ and it becomes quite complicated … because devices are not assigned to one person.

“Because of the way Ting is able to just charge us $6 for the lines, we can do some interesting stuff,” Hoenle said. “For example, we have quite a few vehicles and (now we can) have a phone dedicated to each vehicle.”

RWA-Yankees-31

Using the Push To Talk (PTT) app Zello on its smartphones, the Doe Fund is able to get past the fact that PTT isn’t supported natively on Ting.

“Ting, in concert with Zello, allows us to go from that mixed, not everyone can contact everybody else, $25 a line per month PTT scenario to a scenario where everyone has a smartphone and everyone who needs it can have PTT, all at a very good price point.”

Ting’s bring your own device policy also allowed Hoenle and his team to activate devices the organization already owned, and supplement them with phones purchased used or new in bulk, and therefore relatively inexpensively.

“The thing that I had not anticipated at all was the positive reception that we’re receiving from our new Ting users and from our drivers,” Hoenle said. “Many of the people who are our drivers and who work in our facilities came through our program. They may not have used a smartphone before and previously only had a feature phone, if they had a phone at all. Now, we’re giving them all these smartphones. We are trusting them with something and they are getting additional responsibility.”

“I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective,” he said. “I’m more concerned with capability and what our budget looks like but they’re really responding very positively to these phones.”

Ting’s unique approach means an unlimited number of devices on one account sharing pooled usage and only paying for the individual minutes, messages and megabytes of data you actually use beyond the XL levels. As there are no contracts, no bundled plans and no hidden gotchas, Ting is arguably the most flexible and universal cell phone service around.

We’re proud to provide non-profits like The Doe Fund and businesses small and large our brand of unencumbered mobile service.

Six simple tips to save money on smartphone mobile data: Round two

You’re probably using more mobile data than you need to. If you’re overpaying for an unlimited plan, by all means use as much as you possibly can. If you’ve realized that there’s a smarter way to do mobile though, then read on.

If you’re not interested in using your smartphone less, don’t sweat it! Often, all it takes is switching on a setting or scheduling a download to cut your monthly mobile data usage by half.

Our first six simple tips to save on mobile data post garnered a ton of helpful reader tips and feedback. So, we’re doing the redux!

Following is a list of popular Android apps that include options to reduce the amount of data sent across a mobile network. We also include a section on Google’s universal toggle for disabling mobile data, so if you’re only interested in one data saving tip today, make it this one!


Screenshot_2014-03-28-15-32-03

google-play-logo1Google Play

It’s important to understand the apps you’re downloading and what they can actually do on your Android device. Spending a few minutes after installing the app to check out its specific settings can make a world of difference in your monthly usage.

Google Play, for example, might catch you by surprise and update your apps in the background while on a mobile network.

To ensure app updates will only download over Wi-Fi:

Google Play navigation bar > Settings > (General) Auto-update apps > select “Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only”


instagram

instagram-logo-kgo Instagram

By default, Instagram will automatically preload videos upon opening the app, regardless of your network connection. This means that every video in your feed will buffer even if you weren’t going to watch it, needlessly using your mobile data. Fortunately, Instagram is looking out for the data-conscious by adding the option to preload videos on Wi-Fi only!

To enable this setting:

Instagram profile > Settings bar > (Settings) Videos > (Data Usage) check “Preload videos on Wi-Fi only”


twitterTwitter

twitter

Turning off image previews in your Twitter feed can significantly reduce the amount of mobile data being used, especially if your feed is actively syncing in the background.

To disable this feature:

Twitter feed > Settings bar > Settings > General > uncheck Image previews


Screenshot_2014-04-07-13-07-55skype Skype

Did you know that you can reduce the quality of video while Skyping on your smartphone? If you’re not near a Wi-Fi zone, switching to low quality video will stream much less data across a mobile network, saving you big time.

To change the video quality inside Skype:

Skype home > Settings bar > Settings > (Voice and video calls) Video quality > change to low


snapchat Snapchat

Snapchat

Are you a Snapchatter? You can save a considerable amount of mobile data by reducing the quality of videos you send.

To reduce the video quality:

Snapchat feed > Settings icon > (Advanced) Video settings > Video quality > change to low

Keep in mind your videos may be grainer than usual, but depending on what you’re sending, you might end up thanking us for the blurriness :).


beyondpod

beyondpodBeyondPod

If you enjoy listening to podcasts, make sure to download the episodes over Wi-Fi instead of streaming them on-the-go. Podcast managers like BeyondPod let you easily pre-download episodes so you’ll have prompt access without having to pay a cent.

If you’d like to learn more about BeyondPod, it was recently featured as our App of the Week!

 


Restricting data over a mobile network

datausagesettings

By default, many Android applications come with specific permissions that may sync in the background and automatically download images, videos and other files. Whether it’s Gmail checking for new emails every five minutes, Dropbox backing up your photos and videos or Twitter refreshing your feed, your smartphone transmits a lot of data! It’s important to take a close look at the permissions an app is asking for when you install it, as many will sync in the background and use data without your knowledge. Google allows you to restrict mobile network syncing for all Android apps, or on an individual basis.

syncing appsTo turn off syncing for all Android apps:

Android Settings > (Wireless & Networks) Data usage > Settings bar > enable “Restrict background data”

 

To individually restrict Android apps:

Android Settings > (Accounts) Google > (Accounts) youraccount@gmail.com > uncheck the apps you don’t want to sync

 
 
 
 
Smartphone users are quickly becoming wary of their mobile data usage as they realize that unlimited plans are a losing bet more often than not. It makes much more sense to pay a fair price for your actual usage. Not sure how much you would save by switching to a pay-for-what-you-use provider? Check out Ting’s Savings Calculator and see for yourself!


Do you have your own tips to save on mobile data each month? We’d love to hear them in the comments below. We may even include your idea in our next data saving blog post!

Ask an Exec: Why no national Ting ad campaign?

Welcome to Ask an Exec!

You may be aware that Ting actively sponsors podcasts and YouTube channels to help spread the word about Ting and mobile that makes sense. While these mediums make up the majority of our advertising, we get the word out about Ting in other venues as well.

Hear from Ting VP of Marketing Michael Goldstein as he explains Ting’s approach to advertising and our thoughts around a national ad campaign!

Thanks to Dale H for the Facebook question.

 

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Why students should never sign a cell phone contract

image_collegetingThere’s no doubt Ting is great for students. We offer a low cost, simple and flexible way to take control of your mobile. For those on the fence, here’s why we think students should never sign another cell phone contract again:

1. You Study Abroad.

The last thing you’re worrying about when hiking the Himalayas or learning a foreign language is paying for your cellphone bill back home. The reality is, your contract with one of the big carriers won’t stop just because you aren’t using your phone at home. Ting’s game-changing ‘pay for what you use’ service model means that if you don’t use your phone, you won’t pay for it. Simply pay $6 per month to keep your line active.

2. Fixed monthly bills suck!

We understand that when you’re a student some months are tighter than others, money wise. Books, beer, social outings and beer all add up. While some fixed expenses, like rent, are here to stay, we don’t believe your phone should be one of them. On Ting, if you want to save a bit of money one month by cutting some your usage or using mainly Wi-Fi you totally can!

3. You land your dream job.

Maybe you have your sights on a flashy, high paying gig post-graduation. If your corporate dreams come true, it’s likely that they’ll provide you with a cell phone for both business and personal use. If you’re on Ting and want to cancel for this (or any) reason, we’ll totally understand. Pay no early termination fees or penalties when you go. If you ever want to come back, we’ll welcome you with open arms.

4. You find a significant other.

If you’ve found that special someone you want to spend the rest of your life with share a mobile account with, Ting is the perfect carrier. To add another line to your account, just pay $6 per month, per line and pool your usage together. You’ll both save tons of money. If you break up, you can easily port numbers elsewhere with no penalty. If you haven’t found that person quite yet, this is the perfect reason to start looking. Go get ‘em, tiger.

5. Your parents won’t support you forever.

Even if your ‘rents offer to pay for your phone contract with one of the big carriers, consider letting them in on the Ting advantage. If you decide to take control of your own bill some time in the future, you can easily bring your line to another account without fees or barriers.

6. You never know what the future might bring.

This is going to sound cheesy but I’m going to say it anyway. The world is your oyster. As a student, you have so many choices, experiences and adventures awaiting you. Who knows what the future may hold. Wherever your life leads, whether it’s a job abroad or starting a family, be open to changes, and don’t let a phone contract (and Early termination fees) tie you down!

Have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!