Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at mobile apps that can make the CPA’s job and life better
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

Perch provides bird’s-eye view of the competition

As trusted business advisers, CPAs are constantly looking for ways to help our clients. Small business owners are usually swamped working “in” their business and, as a result, many don’t have time to work “on” their business. And not every small business client understands or appreciates the importance of social media. Those that do often struggle to keep track of their own online activity, much less worry about their competitors’. Perch could be an extremely helpful tool for them. Rather than your trying to monitor services such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Foursquare separately, Perch collects all these data in a single platform.

Perch is based on Foursquare and uses the GPS power of your mobile device to recognize your location. At launch, you can choose your company from a list of nearby businesses or manually enter it. Perch responds by producing a list of relevant companies near your location.

Perch does not currently allow you to set up any promotions or social posts from within the app. Promotions are either set up within Foursquare or via the various daily-deal providers. Social posts are added via Foursquare and Twitter directly and are then shown in Perch.

Perch gives you a bird’s-eye view of social activity, promotions, and consumer reviews for businesses. You can put yourself (and your competitors) on a watch list that quickly shows all relevant social posts. You can also set Perch to periodically email reports summarizing the search results.

Your bar, restaurant, and small retail clients will love this app. You might, too. Wouldn’t you like to know everything that’s being posted about your competitors?  

  • Website: Perchapp.com
  • Cost: Free
  • Operating Systems: iOS, Android, Web

Listen to the best articles with Umano

If you’re a commuter, runner, or cyclist, or you just like to optimize your time, you’ve most likely listened to an audiobook, and you’ve probably even sampled its web-created cousin, the podcast. I use both extensively. Listening is a great way to consume content. But there’s a problem. I’m a content junkie, and much of what I want to “consume” doesn’t exist in spoken form. And, unfortunately, there’s more content on the internet than I can read in one day. Umano plucks out some of the best articles in categories that I like and re-creates them, read in an audiobook-style format. I mean they’re read by a real human (hint: Umano is the Italian word for human), not some mechanical, Siri-sounding, disembodied voice. Market research company eMarketer says there will be nearly 160 million active digital radio listeners this year. Thus the current scramble for audience is refocusing from eyeballs to eardrums.

Umano is an early mover in this space. Its model has members “rate” printed articles, and then the top-rated ones are produced for listening. The mobile app handles your content preferences and serves up the programs for your listening pleasure. The paid upgrade removes a limitation on the number of articles, auto-generates a personalized playlist, and downloads the content for offline listening. It took me less than 24 hours to decide I wanted to upgrade.   

  • Website: Umano.me
  • Cost: Free for basic; $3.99 a month for premium
  • Operating Systems: iOS, Android, Web

Greg LaFollette (greg.lafollette@hq.cpa.com) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.


Year-end tax planning and what’s new for 2016

Practitioners need to consider several tax planning opportunities to review with their clients before the end of the year. This report offers strategies for individuals and businesses, as well as recent federal tax law changes affecting this year’s tax returns.


News quiz: Retirement planning, tax practice, and fraud risk

Recent reports focused on a survey that gauges the worries about retirement among CPA financial planners’ clients, a suit that affects tax practitioners, and a guide that offers advice on fraud risk. See how much you know with this short quiz.


Bolster your data defenses

As you weather the dog days of summer, it’s a good time to make sure your cybersecurity structure can stand up to the heat of external and internal threats. Here are six steps to help shore up your systems.