July 21, 2018

Can 5G Get Here Already?


Who doesn’t dread seeing the “Poor connection. This video will resume automatically when the connection improves” error message when chatting on FaceTime. Is my iPhone out to get me? It has an uncanny sense of knowing when to interrupt my conversation.

We are dependent on the speed of our internet connection. It sets the pace of our day. If it’s slow, you can’t get around it. If it’s down, productivity stops and you’re hobbled from doing much of anything. During my time in public accounting, we occasionally had to connect to the internet with a wireless aircard since our client didn’t want us on their WiFi and, boy, digital workpapers took forever to load at that snail’s pace.

And, many days, when the connection is slow, and you’re trying to get work done, you just have to accept that it isn’t going to happen. It makes me want to reenact the copier massacre scene from Office Space on my laptop.

I should warn you, however: Don’t complain too loud or someone older will bring up this sound from days gone by:

Well, maybe our current frustrations will be a thing of the past soon too.

5G is on the horizon

The fifth generation (5G) of wireless is in development, and it’s a race to market. Experts predict we will see the adoption of 5G technology sometime during 2019 or early 2020. I can’t wait for buffering to be a thing of the past.

If you’re not hip to the lingo, 5G is still just a sexy term for fast connection speed, without a real technical definition that the industry agrees upon. How fast? CNET reported:

The technology is expected to be 100 times faster than our current 4G LTE wireless technology and 10 times speedier than what Google Fiber offers through a physical connection to the home.

PCMag chimed in that:

The goal is to have far higher speeds available, and far higher capacity per sector, at far lower latency than 4G. The standards bodies involved are aiming at 20Gbps speeds and 1ms latency, at which point very interesting things begin to happen.

The enhancement in speed can generate new and innovative ways to conduct business. Auditors could host virtual walkthroughs if virtual reality videoconferencing had connection speeds to support it. We once thought FaceTime was crazy and high tech; with 3D videoconferencing, you’d feel like you are standing in your client’s office from hundreds of miles away. Maybe I’d still be in public accounting if we had that technology to skip all the travel.

The latency factor will play a huge role in the viability of self-driving cars. You really want your network to be reliable if your car is busy communicating with other cars, no matter how fast the connection speeds turn out to be. Travel to and from a client’s office could get a lot more productive. Simply pick your destination and press go! You could tick-and-tie while on the commute and rack up some billable hours. Turn lost commute time into something worthwhile again.

Be wary of false advertising

Just as “organic” is a term everyone has adopted to greenwash the marketplace, “5G” has a similar reputation. Much of the current 5G advertising is a souped up 4G LTE network. Here’s an example from the PCMag article:

AT&T recently announced its “5G Evolution” network, which isn’t 5G. It’s AT&T’s brand for gigabit LTE, the latest incremental advance in 4G LTE, which all major US carriers plan to roll out this year.

Time to save up for a new phone with 5G technology

To access this panacea to end all our connection speed headaches, you would need to buy a new phone, and many will play up on the phone’s ability to stream virtual reality content. Back to PCMag:

This is in line with Qualcomm’s 5G modem family announcements. The big chipmaker said that its Snapdragon mobile platform will support 5G in 2019. Snapdragon chips are the most popular platform for US smartphones, so you’re likely to see 5G, VR-capable smartphones in 2019.

Unfortunately, there will be a lag when it comes to office technology and phones provisioned by firms. My advice is not to get antsy and just connect your personal device. I wrote about my horror story with bring your own device (BYOD) about a year ago, and I don’t think it’s any less painful now when you make the decision to jump ship.

While we have a year or two to wait, it’s enough incentive to hold off on buying an iPhone 7 or 8. That is unless you drop it in the toilet.

Image: Unsplash.com

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Tracking Charitable Donations? Now There’s a CPA-Developed App for That

In more non-iPad, Apple-related news, we learned earlier this week about iDonatedIt, an iPhone app developed by BMG CPAs in Lincoln, Nebraska. The app is designed to track all non-cash charitable contributions whether it be clothes, furniture or family members (okay maybe not the last one). This will allow you to track all of our donations to Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. rather than receiving that crappy receipt they give you that has nothing on it.

Being interested in all things accountant-ish, we got in touch with BMG to find out how this bit of ingenuity came about.

We spoke with Todd Blome, a partner at BMG who came up with the idea and he told us that as soon as he got an iPhone he was thinking of ideas for apps that would be useful for his clients. Since Todd is the tech-savvy partner at BMG, (he heads up their IT consulting services) he started kicking around ideas right away and eventually landed on the idea for iDonatedIt.

Todd told us that the development was fairly simple and that there were only two test versions prior to releasing the app.

“So far we’ve 100% positive feedback on iDonatedIt,” Todd told us, “We’re definitely looking for suggestions for improvements or add-ons.” The one idea that has been floated to Todd was adding a tax savings tool to the app so that a user could determine how much tax savings would be created by the donations. “That will probably be in version two,” he told us.

iDonatedIt retails for $2.99 at the app store and as Todd noted, “a donation of one item pays for the app.” A version for the Droid is currently in the works as well.

Todd and the rest of of his team at BMG are kicking around a few more ideas for apps but he said they want to make sure iDonatedIt is working as good as possible before committing to another project. Check out the demonstration below and jump over the firm’s website or follow them on Twitter to give them your feedback.

Shoeboxed: Saving Accountants One Nightmare Client at a Time

Last week we briefly mentioned Shoeboxed.com and how they can make all your shoebox receipt toting clients disappear. Not only that but it may save some of your more aggressive employees the trouble of explaining why they punched out the deadbeat who showed up with their receipts on April 15th.

We were fortunate enough to spend a some time with Stacy Chudwin, the Company’s Director of Communications, to learn more about the Durham, North Carolina Company.

Stacy told us that the Company got its start by servicing small businesses who wanted to avoid the hassle of tracking expenses by keeping a mind-numbing amount of receipts around, “Businesses can simply compile all their receipts, send them to us and we scan, enter the data and categorize them.”

Now the Company offers an “Accounting Professional Plan” which allows CPAs to do the exact same thing for those clients who aren’t so organized with their bookkeeping, “CPAs can either have their clients send us the receipts directly or they can send the us shoebox that gets dropped off on their desk and we’ll take care of the rest,” Stacy said.

Once all the data entry is finished you can access the information via your business’ account and for CPAs, you can create sub-accounts for each individual client. These reports can then be exported to a number of applications including QuickBooks, Quicken, Excel, and others.

The Company has also developed a free iPhone app that will extract all the information from a photo of the receipt. So for you Holiday Inn jockeys out there, you don’t have to stuff all your receipts in your suitcase and try to decipher everything you spent two weeks later.

“So far all of the feedback from our clients and users of the mobile apps have been great, however everyone wants more features both in their accounts and for the app,” Stacy told us.

Stacy also maintains the Shoeboxed Blog that is updated a few times a month that has areas for “Small Businesses”, “Taxes”, “Budgeting” and “Shoeboxed.com Resources”. She also informed us that they have a very active Twitter account, “We like to use Twitter to make announcements, to highlight recent press, and to retweet some positive feedback from followers, but we will also respond one-on-one if a user has an issue and reaches out to us via Twitter.”

If you’re not hip to the whole Twitter thing the Company has online customer support and a toll free number for all your questions.

The Company has several different plans for both businesses and accountants and both come with 30 day trials. So if you’ve more nightmare clients thatn you can count, what are you waiting for? Thanks to Shoeboxed, now you can add more clients instead of wanting to physically attack them.