Update: Ambur POS 2.3

We’re releasing the next major update to Ambur, Ambur 2.3, on Tuesday April 14, 2015. After the release of 2.2, we hunkered down for the winter with a group of testers, working with them as we added new features and addressed every issue that came up along the way. 

ORDER TAKING & NEW PAYMENTS SCREEN
One major area of focus is order-taking speed in 2.3. With the release of 2.0, we made a major increase in order-taking speed by focusing on eliminating transitions between screens. For example, instead of having to tap add payments, then choose a payment, then tap back, we put the payment screen on the same level as the menu so it was always only one tap away for taking a payment.

In 2.3, we took everything to another level. We started with the supposition that order-taking should only require two taps – one to indicate the item being ordered, and another to indicate the payment method. We then moved through the interface, removing stumbling blocks until this was possible. 

In the process, we made two important changes that will affect your day-to-day operations: 

First, now when an order is paid in full, the order automatically closes. If this is prohibitive for your style of business, you can turn this off in Management > Settings > “automatically close after full payment”. If you leave orders open in order to adjust tips, you can still use automatic closing: just adjust tips from the Closed Orders by selecting the order, then tapping on the payment.

Second, the payment screen is now located on the order screen itself. You can edit the payment amount, or the number of payments for those times when you need to split an order in half quickly. The cash button contains all the Payment Methods marked as cash, the credit card button contains all the Payment Methods marked as credit, and the upwards facing arrow button contains all other Payment Methods.

All payment options are now integrated directly on the Order screen for ease of use and increased speed.

All payment options are now integrated directly on the Order screen for ease of use and increased speed.

Additional changes:

  • When closing an Order with unsent Items, the Items will be sent, and if they’re sent successfully, the order will be closed.
  • Credit card receipts will now automatically print to the customer copy printer designated for your device, saving you from having to pick a printer to print to.
  • Menu Item descriptions can be viewed in grid mode. An item with a description has an info button in the bottom right of it’s grid cell, and tapping and holding on the grid cell will show an alert with the description.
  • The Line Item edit/option picker screen allows for fractional quantities, and has quantity pickers at both the top and the bottom, in case you hear the quantity first, or last.
  • In order to support a growing number of actions relating to Line Items, the action button on the left hand side contains Edit, Delete, Void, and a new option called Reprint that allows for printing an individual copy of the kitchen receipt for that Line Item.
  • How long an order has been open is now displayed in the order list.
  • Tables open longer than 45 minutes are displayed in yellow on Table Layout, and tables open longer than 1 hour 15 minutes are displayed in red.
  • When splitting, all items start out on table 1 to save you from having to drag all items to a new split order.
  • After splitting, tapping on the table that originally hosted the split order will allow you to select from the split orders.
  • If an automatic logout due to inactivity is going to occur, an alert is displayed warning the user and giving them five seconds to tap the screen. Of course, you can adjust the login timeout by going to Management > Settings > “login timeout.”


PERMISSIONS + PERMISSIONS OVERRIDE
We’ve redesigned our permissions from the ground up to make it a breeze to work with. To edit Permissions, go to Management > Permissions, choose a User Group you want to edit Permissions for, as well as the Source of permissions you want to edit, for example, Orders versus Menu Items. This way, you have complete control over what the user can do with every aspect of the system, and it’s easy to customize.

Permissions are now completely customizable by choosing a User Group and its Source.

Permissions are now completely customizable by choosing a User Group and its Source.

Permissions can now be overridden when committing many actions. For example, if the logged in user isn’t allowed to void a Line Item, they can still tap “Void” and it will prompt for the passcode of a user who can void the Line Item, saving the manager from having the end the current user’s session, log in as themselves, find the order, and then void the Line Item.

AUDIT LOGS
Ambur now includes logs of all activity performed in the system for the last 30 days. This makes it much easier to track down who did what in the system, and also preemptively check to make sure there’s no one abusing their ability to perform actions. The audit logs indicate when: the app is started, switched away from, shut down, an Order is renamed, created, or deleted, a print out occurs, a Payment is created or deleted, an Item is created, deleted, or voided, whenever an action is committed, whenever a permissions override occurs, whenever a user logs in or logs out, and any credit card processing errors.

To send an Audit Log, tap Global Action > System Status > Audit Log. From there, you can choose to email it to yourself or Ambur for support related services.

BARCODE SCANNING
Ambur now supports barcode scanning! When you connect a Socket Mobile 7ci (30 feet range) or Socket Mobile 7Mi (300 feet range) scanner, it can be used to input barcodes in the Menu section. When the order-taking screen is active, scanning a barcode is equivalent to tapping an item, so it can even start a new order. They are available to lease or purchase from our store now.

MENU EXPORT TO/IMPORT FROM CSV
To support mass editing of your menu, we’ve added support for exporting your menu to a spreadsheet format, as well as importing the menu from a spreadsheet. To do so, import a CSV file into Ambur using iTunes or email. This functionality supports every field on a menu item, including modifiers, printer groups, and categories.

To do so, go to Management > Settings, and tap “Action” in the top right corner, where you can import and export.

HIDE AND 86 MENU ITEMS AND CATEGORIES
Menu Items and Categories can be hidden from the ordering display by turning “hidden?” on, and you can set custom colors for them too using our color picker. This is a great way to use categories for reporting purposes without cluttering up your ordering screen.

SET CUSTOM COLORS FOR MENU ITEMS, CATEGORIES, AND BUTTONS
A menu item’s custom color can override its category’s, and if it doesn’t have a custom color, it picks the first category that it is in for its color. If neither has a color, or it isn’t in a category, a color is generated based on the parameters you have set when tapping the paintbrush icon in the order screen. That color is based on the item’s name, so if you accidentally delete the item, adding it again with the same name will restore the color you remember.

To change your system’s default color, go to Management > Settings, and set the “toolbar color.”

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • When searching for customers, no matter what format you search for the phone number in (ex. searching for “716 860”), it will turn up matching phone numbers even if they’re in a different format (ex. “(716) (860)”).
  • Upon clock out, users can enter their claimed tips and it will show on the Shifts report.
  • For Discounts & Fees, you can block user groups from adding specific charges. For example, you can make it so all User Groups except managers are prevented from adding the “100% Manager’s Discount” you have set up.
  • You can configure a cash drawer to open every time a Payment Method is taken. You can turn this on for your cash payments, so the cash drawer opens automatically whenever your employees take cash payment.
  • Batch reports show total base amount, total tip amount, and combined total at the bottom.
  • Kitchen receipts that are reprinted (i.e. not printed using the Send button) show a warning at the top and bottom that they’re a reprint. If your business never uses the send button, and you don’t want to show the reprint warning on kitchen receipts, go to Management > Settings, and turn off “kitchen reprint warning.”
  • When giving a demo of Ambur to your staff on a larger screen, you can turn on “Show touches” on the system status screen to provide greater guidance and show where you’re tapping.
  • Show spinner while defragmenting database.
  • Use number pad for percentage entry.
  • New credit card processing settings screen.
  • Table layout can be zoomed on iPhone.


STABILITY AND RELIABILITY
We’re really proud of how remarkably reliable this release is. During the last few weeks of usage at over 20 locations running the prerelease, we saw over 16 days of 24/7 usage without a crash. We’ve successfully worked around the WiFried iOS 8 WiFi performance issues, leading to significantly increased sync speeds, and there’s no mysteries or oddities in this version: every last issue was followed up on until there weren’t any to follow up on. There’s been countless bugs and tweaks along the way, the ones that we’ve been contacted about are listed below:

  • Calculation error when a charge is set up as a tip that discounts with a negative percentage amount.
  • Crash when syncing Line Items with Modifiers with no options attached.
  • Dropbox giving an error of “No Auth Method Found” if the user is logged out of Dropbox when a backup is attempted.
  • Dropbox showing an unclear NSURLRequest error if connection fails due to a timeout.
  • Dropbox backup failing when backup filename contains non-supported characters.
  • “Error in connect() function” error when attempting to link to a hub, after iOS shut down the hub.
  • Remove employee report option from clients.
  • Remove “Weak connection” networking system and of use a low-level approach which gives a much more reliable connection + less network stress, but will give out with no warning after the connection has been dead for 15 seconds.

Facebook Ads for Small Businesses & Restaurants, Part I: Getting Started

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Traditional marketing and advertising methods can be nerve-racking. It's nearly impossible to know how much of your business is a direct result of your ads and if you're receiving a return on that investment or not. Consumer's habits are changing, too, and utilizing a social media method is quickly becoming the most responsive way to advertise.

If your business does not already have a Facebook Page, it is to your advantage to create one. A social media presence is invaluable in 2015 and costs you nothing. If this is unfamiliar territory, there's bound to be a more tech-savvy employee willing to help you. Additionally, Ambur POS customers can request a Facebook Page & Ads configuration.

In addition to directly communicating with your customer base through posting specials and updates, Facebook Ads is a smart way to boost that base and easily promote your business through marketing to potential customers in your area, promoting an event, and presenting special offers. There are two main routes to promoting your business on Facebook: creating campaigns and boosting posts. In this introductory post, we'll start with campaigns.

Before you begin, make sure all pertinent information is filled out, including hours of operation, address, contact information, and more listed under the "About" section of your page. Add pictures and a cover photo. Continue on to "Settings" on the top Navigation Bar. Here it's possible to add Page Roles; users other than yourself who have permission to monitor and make edits, define an audience, and integrate with useful Apps like "Events," allowing you to easily create, promote, and target them.

There are two main routes to promoting your business on Facebook: creating campaigns and boosting posts. In this introductory post, we'll start with campaigns.

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To get started, you will need to accumulate a number of page likes to access the full potential of Ads Manager. To do so, click "Ads Manager" on the left-hand side of your home screen or select "Promote" from the upper right-hand corner of your Page (pictured right). Select "Use Ads Manager" and you will see the screen pictured below. 

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Choose your page and select "Continue." This is the part where you set the details, targeting, budget, and appearance of the campaign. Depending on the size of your metro area, it may be necessary to adjust the miles radius.

Moving on to "Interests," it's possible to target potential customers based on their past likes or expressions. For example, if you run a Mexican restaurant, it would be advantageous to select "Mexican cuisine" and other related terms (pictured below). You also have the option to skip this step and keep your targeting as broad as possible. The argument against that, however, is that you want to avoid spending money targeting people who aren't interested in what you sell. 

facebooktargeting.jpg

Assuming you have zero Page Likes, keep "All" selected under the Connections section. If you have accumulated a number of Page Likes, select "Only People Not Connected to [Page Name]" to avoid wasting money targeting people who have already liked your page.

Maintaining a Budget of $10 per day will be enough to get you started, although adjusting it either way is totally up to you and can be changed at any time. To start, keep it optimized for "Page Likes" as opposed to "Clicks." The difference is, Facebook charges for impressions (the number of times the ad is served) in the former and clicks (the number of times someone clicks on the ad) in the latter, and impressions tend to be less expensive than clicks. 

All that's left is the appearance of the sponsored post. If you have already uploaded an image for your Page, it will automatically default to that for the post. If you want to use an additional image, Facebook will create two posts. This is pretty fun actually, and you can see which image performs better and cancel the one that performs worse. 

Before you place the order, make sure either Desktop or Mobile are selected under "Ad Preview and Placement." The Right Column placement tends to not perform as well, and it's a bit redundant to select the first two. Again, you can change this at any time if the post isn't performing well.

Once Facebook starts serving the ad, track its progress under Ads Manager and adjust the variables if necessary. Your Page is bound to gain likes, at which point other types of ads can be created. Those will be profiled here in the days to come. As an additional resource, check out Blueprint, Facebook's new learning center. 

Ambur Named a Top POS System for 2015

When choosing a point of sale for your business, it's important to conduct some research on the product before committing. Certain systems may suit you better than others and more often than not, Ambur suits most small businesses very well. 

We are proud to announce that Biz Brain has named Ambur one of the top point of sale systems for 2015. The criteria includes "cost, features, user friendliness, whether or not it offers good mobile and traditional service, and its ability to grow with your business." From being one of the first mobile and iPad-based POS systems on the market, Ambur continues to rank highly on each of the criteria. 

Biz Brain is a resource-packed website that helps entrepreneurs who are starting small businesses with information on management, accounting, hiring, and of course, business technology and POS systems. 

While 2015 has only just begun, there are many features and updates in the works that aim to make Ambur even more functional for your business. Stay tuned and check out the full Ambur review here.

How Restaurant Layout Influences Customer Retention and Turnover

Emphasizing natural lighting, attractive wall art, and seating options can make a difference in customer retention.

Emphasizing natural lighting, attractive wall art, and seating options can make a difference in customer retention.

Your customers, whether they are conscious of it or not, are affected by the environments in which they dine. They prefer places that feel comfortable, have a unique identity, and are clean and organized. There is a reason the typical fast food dining room isn't a destination or place of high esteem. They tend to be homogenous, cold, and simply uninviting. By revamping your restaurant's layout and decorative elements, you can have better control over customer satisfaction and turnover. 

Begin by answering some important questions about your business and the space in which it operates. From there, you will have some solid goals to build on. 

Does it reflect your brand identity? If not, find simple ways to incorporate your brand colors through a fresh coat of paint, or napkins and dish wear displaying your logo. The most important thing is to be cohesive and use the same colors and design elements throughout your space while providing contrast to keep things interesting. Additionally, dining is usually better with music and can tie into your identity, just make sure to be cognizant of licensing. 

Click here for more information on restaurant branding.

Do you want people to linger, or is it advantageous to encourage a high turnover? This depends on a couple factors. In cafes, customers typically meet to socialize or get work done. In this case, it is to your advantage to provide an adequate number of outlets, WiFi, and comfortable seating options to keep them coming back. If you run a business that has a high volume of customers and hope to encourage turnover, you will want to provide, well, less comfortable seating among other factors.

To learn more, CNN has an interesting article on customer turnover. 

Once you've answered these questions, revamping your space for the new year should begin at the door. Your potential customer's first impression is of the exterior, so ensure curb appeal by adding flowers, plants, or something that represents your restaurant to the window area. Depending on the size and context, adding new drapes or other simple dressings can go a long way, and when in doubt, hang a chalkboard with your daily specials to lure in customers (this can also be done by using an A-frame on the sidewalk).

Place tables near sources of natural light for the customer's benefit and your business'. Passersby will be more likely to stop in if they can see people already dining there. Allow as much natural light into the restaurant as possible, and for the evening, install dimmers on the lights to provide the most control over your lighting options. 

In determining your new table layout, consider two factors: flow and perspective. It is essential that the layout encourages an easily navigable system for your employees and customers. Use way finding tactics, like having aisles lead to destinations such as the kitchen, bathrooms, and exit to remove confusion and the need for posted signs. The other factor, perspective, deals with the customer's view once they are seated. Avoid views of the bathrooms, kitchen, and other work areas and encourage views of windows or artwork. 

Plan and organize the new layout on your Ambur Point of Sale system by using the Table Layout feature, where you can also keep track of tables and their associated orders. 

For branding inspiration, check out Grits and Grids.
For layout and decor inspiration, check out Pinterest.



 

Small Business Saturday for Restaurants

Main Streets from coast to coast will usher in the holiday shopping season this weekend, competing with large retailers, malls, and online shopping. 

Main Streets from coast to coast will usher in the holiday shopping season this weekend, competing with large retailers, malls, and online shopping. 

There is a trend reversal happening. Slowly, consumers are paying more attention to small and local businesses, at least since the Great Recession. While it is a moderate trend, it provides much needed support for our communities that wish to invest locally and grow. 

The post-Thanksgiving consumer trifecta of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday awaits. Small Business Saturday presents a great opportunity for local bars and restaurants to capitalize on the added foot traffic of hungry shoppers, and two organizations have teamed up to encourage this very idea.

The National Restaurant Association and the Small Business Administration have come together to promote dining out locally after a long day of shopping locally. The event encourages everyone to #DineSmall and use the hashtag to promote themselves on social media. 
 
>> Tips on how to promote your restaurant for Small Business Saturday.

In related news, the latest version of Ambur will include barcode scanning capabilities. This opens Ambur up to retailers and restaurants with a retail element to now benefit from our point of sale app. Ambur 2.3 Calumet is currently being tested and has an estimated release in early December. Expect a full blog post on all of the new features soon!

Related Blog Posts:
Benefits of Thinking Locally for Restaurants
5 Recipes to Spice Up Your Fall Cooking

Ambur 2.2 Release and Feature Highlights

Along with the many significant feature updates in 2.2, there are also interface upgrades such as bolded orders and icons, highlighted cancel/send bar, and a way to adjust the brightness and saturation using the paintbrush icon, located in the top right corner.

We're excited to announce that the newest version of Ambur (2.2) is now available to update. The past couple months have seen the largest progress in the development of the Point of Sale app in its entire five year history. This surge in development efforts combined with thorough beta testing has created a version that is highly functional, fast, and full of new features and fixes.

One of those new features is Ambur Anywhere, which allows you to remotely access your Ambur system from anywhere with your iPad or iPhone. This has an infinite number of uses, including taking orders and payments on delivery and checking reports when you can't be at your business. You can learn more about that here.

This post will highlight some of the new features that you will find in Ambur 2.2. You can view the full release notes by clicking the link at the bottom. 

One great feature for deliveries is the ability to receive directions right from Ambur using Customer Profiles. Simply tap the compass icon displayed to the right of the customer's address, and detailed directions with estimated travel times will pop up from wherever you are. This all ties in to the remote access feature, Ambur Anywhere, to provide you with a functional point of sale system even outside of the restaurant.

Basic app functionality has been improved with the removal of pop-ups for text edits. Now, simply tap on the text you wish to change. You can even use an external bluetooth keyboard to quickly tab through and make edits. Confirmations now appear when tapping away from and removing items from an unsent order, ensuring accuracy. Post daily specials and updates directly to your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) connected on your device by selecting "Post Message" from the Global Actions button. 

Elements of the user interface have been enhanced for clarity. The background of the Cancel/Send bar is now orange, making it more obvious when items have not been sent. Order action icons and tab bar icons are now more bold and keyboards will not block important screen content when in use. Also, changes to content size in your device's settings will be reflected in the app, giving you control over how large or small the app's content appears.

Active shifts are highlighted in the signature orange on the Shifts list. Upon clocking out, an alert will show the time clocked out as well as the duration of the shift, with the option to print a shift report. 

Ambur utilizes the adaptive iOS 8 user interface, and is the only Point of Sale app to do so. This enables Ambur to support current and future iOS devices, including the iPhone 6 and 6+. For example, if the app is open on an iPhone 6+ in landscape orientation, it resembles how you would see it on an iPad. Ambur is also now optimized for retina HD screens, increasing legibility to a surprising extent. 

The latest version is faster and seamless with the improvement of two key features. First, syncing between devices has increased five times due to improvements in packing and unpacking the sent data. Second, Ambur now compresses your database to a .zip file before backing it up to Dropbox, saving up to 80% of space and uploading much faster as well.

Click here to see the full release notes, which lists every new feature, adjustment, and fix.
 

5 Ways to Combat Stress in a Restaurant Work Environment

Customer Profiles in Ambur POS create a more memorable and personal experience for the customer while removing one less thing you have to worry about.

Working in the food service industry is arguably one of the most stressful jobs, whether you are a server, manager, or cook. It's physically trying, the hours can be late and long, and you have to deal with not only your equally-as-stressed coworkers, but innumerable customers who expect a lot from you. While these jobs are fast-paced and do not allow for much down time, there are some effective techniques to reduce your stress levels. It will make your job a bit easier while dealing with customers and coworkers a more pleasant, rather than anxious experience. 

1. 7-7-7 Breathing
Even if you're swamped, take a mere 21 seconds to stop whatever you're doing and focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply through your nose for seven seconds, hold for another seven seconds, and take seven more seconds to exhale through your mouth. Introducing more oxygen to your brain will help you think more clearly, which in turn will make everything you have to do seem less overwhelming. It almost feels like a reset button for your mind.

2. Stay Fueled and Hydrated
This should be common sense, however, we often forget to stay hydrated in the times we most need to be. Try to stay away from beverages with a high sugar content and always default to water. Caffeine, because it is classified as a diuretic, should also be avoided under times of intense labor. While water should always be the first choice, hot tea is a positive alternative to coffee, due to its significantly lower caffeine content and calming properties. High in antioxidants and L-theanine, an amino acid shown to have calming effects on the brain without inducing drowsiness, make tea the next best choice in terms of hydration to reduce stress. Additionally, eating a well-balanced and filling meal before work is essential to maintain your energy levels.

3. Maintain and Spread Positivity
No one likes working with incessantly negative people. No one. Be mindful of your attitude and focus on your tasks in the present moment. Focusing on work-related drama on the clock is distracting for everyone and doesn't get much accomplished. Leave tensions behind until there is valuable time to work them out, and stay positive while dealing with customers and coworkers. Positivity can be contagious, so stay light-hearted and hopefully it will catch on around you. If it doesn't, kill them with kindness.

4. Focus on the Guests
As mentioned in the earlier section, it is important to stay focused on the present moment and your position's underlying goals and principles. In all food service environments, this is always usually the customer and their satisfaction. This can be accomplished with the help of Ambur. By using Customer Profiles, you can remember essential customer information such as their name, phone number, birthday, special charges or discounts, reservations, and address for deliveries. Having all of this information organized and easily accessible creates a more memorable and personal experience for the customer while keeping your stress levels down.

5. Use Ambur
Keep yourself and your coworkers more organized by using an iPad point of sale that streamlines your restaurant's workflow. Save time running back and forth by simply placing and sending orders right at the table from your iPad or iPhone. Easily add descriptions to any menu item or daily special, removing the need to memorize every element of a dish. Use Ambur Anywhere to check in on your business when you're away, or to enable the delivery person to accept payments on the go. All of this and many other features can help reduce your stress levels at work, while simultaneously increasing overall productivity.

Ambur Anywhere

The new remote access feature, Ambur Anywhere, allows you to view and operate your system on the go.

The new remote access feature, Ambur Anywhere, allows you to view and operate your system on the go.

One problem that has perpetually presented itself since we started Ambur is, how can we balance allowing off-site access to our system, with our desire to ensure that the system never becomes internet dependent, with our unmatched live syncing features? Sure, we could build a web server, but that means maintaining code for both the app and the server which would slow down our ability to evolve. Also, it would involve asking you to trust your data to a 3rd party in the cloud, which in the age of Snowden, isn’t something we wanted to ask you to do.

With Ambur 2.2, we’ve built a way to let you centralize your point of sale data, without having to trust the cloud, manage a secure server, or set anything up, while still allowing you to have instant access to everything in the system, from loyalty programs to sales data. The hub at your business can allow devices off site to connect to it, over a completely secure connection that you have ultimate control of. The off-site devices connect and operate just as fast as if they were at the business location, thanks to new, advanced, compression algorithms in 2.2 built exactly for the type of data that Ambur transmits back and forth.

Ambur Anywhere does more than let you see what’s going on at your business – you can use it with the new customer address lookup features in 2.2 to let your delivery people pull up directions and travel times from their iPhone on the go, and even take credit card payments. You can use it to run reports from home. You can use it to take orders to bust long lines at your food truck, or take down reservations. Is your Wi-Fi network not quite up to speed? With Ambur Anywhere, your clients connect over the Internet, so there are no more limitations of Wi-Fi network range.

This brings the story of how our fee structure is going to work full circle – we dabbled with the idea of charging monthly fees, like every other iPad point of sale, but decided against it. We heard from our customers that they appreciated us most for not charging mandatory fees. From your feedback, we’ve decided to keep operating the way we always have – charge a fair price for a good service, and allow you to choose if you want to pay it or not. That's in addition to what we already offer that no other point of sale can, be it iPad-based or traditional Windows-based. No one else can do live syncing without requiring you to manually request a sync. No one else has syncing that keeps cheerily working when your Internet slows down or goes down. Few others have respect for the privacy and security of your data –  other iPad point of sale products, such as POSLavu, ShopKeep, TouchBistro, and Square, require that you store all your data with them.

Our first two major services are 24/7 support, in addition to off-site access. We call our 24/7 support Ambur Anytime, and off-site access Ambur Anywhere. Both of them cost a mere $39/month, and we offer it for $360 yearly when paying in advance. It’s only a dollar a day for complete peace of mind that your business is always covered in an emergency, and another dollar a day to allow you to check up on your business from anywhere. For the price of a morning coffee, you’ll have access Anywhere, and help Anytime. For more information on these services, and how to sign up for them, you can reach our sales team at 1 (888) 770-2205 or info@amburapp.com.

Stayed tuned this week for more posts about 2.2 – there’s more features than you can shake a stick at. Beta testing is in full swing, and we hope to have it submitted to Apple for review this Wednesday.

Benefits of Thinking Locally For Restaurants

Cooperstown, NY is a small town with a strong local identity and restaurants that emphasize locally sourced foods.

Cooperstown, NY is a small town with a strong local identity and restaurants that emphasize locally sourced foods.

In our age of globalization, when our daily consumption consists of goods from elsewhere, how do we define "place?" It is not that we as consumers are actively attempting to distance ourselves from the place we live, though it certainly loses its meaning when our culture is manufactured over a thousand miles away. The most sustainable, culturally significant places are those whose goods are designed and produced within that metropolitan area. More than ever, this applies to food and the value we attach to it. There are huge, real benefits to gain from taking a local focus to food.

Using Local Produce Improves Quality and Connections
By purchasing the ingredients that go into your meals from an actual, local farm, the quality of your food is guaranteed to improve. Nobody prefers lettuce shipped from across the country over lettuce grown 50 miles from the restaurant, and the taste will be noticeable to your customers.

Two popular and useful resources for finding local farms to supply your needs are LocalHarvest and Direct Local Food, websites that connect consumers to farms in your area. Simply enter your location and the items you need, and you are likely to find a reliable supplier of fresh produce, meat, poultry, and other ingredients in your area. You may be surprised to learn that prices will be comparable to traditional restaurant food service vendors, and if they are a bit higher, you may be able to justify charging more on your menu for locally-sourced dishes.

Understanding where the food we eat comes from, how its grown, and who grows it goes a long way in putting out a better product and is something your customers will not take for granted.

Local Marketing is Big
Hometown pride can go a long way in promoting your business, and emphasizing fresh, local ingredients will never deter a customer, only make them more interested. The recent focus on creating quality products is evident in nearly every market today. For example, casual beer drinkers five years ago are now connoisseurs of craft brews. Especially in food service settings, craft culture is being cultivated by the use of the best produce and meats, relying on seasonal offerings that scream variety, creativity, passion, and quality.

By taking advantage of your local offerings, you will not only be supporting the regional economy, but cultivating a positive image for your restaurant. Marketing your business as one that is invested in the local economy will show a return in the future.

Local Investment is a Boomerang
If you are still not convinced of the benefits of local investment, take a look at this article from the American Independent Business Alliance explaining the local multiplier effect. Several studies profiled have shown significant direct and indirect impacts (money that is spent and recirculated in the same area) when businesses invest locally. Specifically, "Restaurants and service providers generate a large multiplier because they are labor-intensive and, therefore, more of each dollar of revenue goes to local payroll." The more produce and labor is sourced locally, the more often that money will be reinvested in your community and eventually back to your restaurant. Ambur is a proud supporter of independent restaurants, committed to offering point of sale software and services at an affordable price.

Additional Resources:
GrowBuyEat
AgLocal
Strategies to Integrate Locally Sourced Food

5 Recipes To Spice Up Your Fall Cooking

Pumpkins! The king of fall, but to a fault?

Pumpkins! The king of fall, but to a fault?

As the days become crisper and sweaters commonplace once again, there is nothing more comforting than a meal with a little fall spice to keep you warm. While the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL, for those in the know) reigns over all other autumn staples, perhaps it's time to see how we can incorporate some spice into other areas of our palettes. Here are five fall recipes that, as one meal or on their own, won't fail to keep you satisfied on a golden autumn day.

1. Thai Spice Pumpkin Soup
This exciting twist on the traditionally beloved pumpkin soup kicks the spice up and introduces an exotic element. It's always good to see old favorites in a new light, and this works equally as well as a starter or main course. Check out the recipe here.

2. Poached Scallops in Curried Cauliflower
This flavorful dish from Wegmans introduces a warm curry element that goes extremely well with rosemary, scallops, cauliflower, and carrots. It all blends to create a memorable plate evocative of other warm fall flavors, such as cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper. You can find the recipe here.

3. Stuffed Jack-O-Lantern Bell Peppers
While stuffed peppers are a favorite all year round, this recipe introduces a festive element. Why only carve pumpkins, when you can carve your food, too? Perfect for kids and the kid in all of us that comes out around Halloween.

4. Apple Spice Cake
Leave it to Martha Stewart to worry about the desserts; she has a whole series of recipes dedicated to fall cakes. In keeping with the spice theme, one that stands out is the Apple Spice Cake, appropriately served warm à la mode. Mmmmm.

5. Glögg
Being surrounded by loved ones, feeling cozy, and maybe even a little tipsy can make any chilly autumn night that much better. In Danish, they have a single word that encapsulates this intimate feeling. It's "hygge," and it's not just a word, it's a lifestyle. Similar to the German Glühwein, Glögg is a mulled wine that reflects this feeling, with all of those fabulous fall flavors and a splash of brandy or vodka. You can find the recipe here to begin your hygge night.

Updates: Ambur 2.1.1 and Apple iOS 8

Ambur Update 2.1.1

The latest version of Ambur (2.1.1) is now available to download from the App Store. This version was heavily beta tested by several Ambur users (thanks guys!) to ensure no bugs slipped through. Here are the full release notes from the developer:

DROPBOX - when Dropbox errors are shown, show English instead of error codes if possible - backups would silently fail if the user’s Dropbox was too full - a Dropbox backup wouldn’t show that it was backing up until the first upload chunk succeeded (which could take a couple minutes on a slow connection) - crash someone signs out of Dropbox while a Dropbox backup is in progress
NO ACCOUNT MODE - enable table layout by default - don’t reset tax rate to 0% after successful activation - editing of tax rate allowed in demo mode
HUB - show spinner when attempting to link to a hub - give up on a link attempt if it takes longer than 10 seconds
MISC - show fancy “out of range” alert whenever we haven’t heard from the hub in 2 seconds (we should be hearing from ir 20 times a second), the user can either walk back in range or tap “Disconnect” to get taken to the “Start Hub/Link to Hub” screen. This will help with detecting Wi-Fi weak spots
- orders can be created from a swipe at the main Orders screen with no order selected (please test this, it should start a new order with the name on the CC)
- issue with showing order on left after selecting it from table layout
- when text entry starts, the current value is cleared out so the user can avoid tapping the “clear” button so they can begin entering a new value quicker
- crash when database is ready before the view, so the view asks for the wrong stuff from the database and the database gets confused.
- crash viewing an Order screen and there’s no relationships to display
- crank up font size for category picker - alert shown when there’s no printer at that IP no longer interrupts operation, it’s displayed at the top of the screen and disappears by itself
- alert displayed if start date is after end date doesn’t interrupt anymore - change colors on employee report start/end date picker to make it more readable
- show 4 grid view cells per row (down from 6) in portrait
- make “Loading…” indicator show in lists FIXES - rearchitect login pad to work around iOS 7 bug causing centering to fail
- remove need for restart after activating full version & importing a Dropbox database
- crash adding menu items to a category
- issues with long USB TSP100 print-outs
- table layout always showing on client devices
- crash starting a table on the iPhone - crash trying to sync objects that were just created but aren’t ready to be synced yet
- number adjustment with +/- buttons not accurately reflecting the updated quantity
- fixed 25% tip estimation using 20% amount
- fees are now included in an Order’s total
- don’t clear search text whenever editing starts
- leave search results up after done button is pressed
- going into order type/other editor screens resulting in being stuck in a black screen on iPhone
- issue that led to blank customers report
- table layout tables not showing correct colors after opening/closing a table
- issue with opening table layout tables from table layout - lists header bar being too low when displayed in a popover
- prevent connections to pre-current version hubs
- use new algorithm to result in less awkward word wrapping for text in grid cells
- portrait size grid cells use more than one line for layout
- 32 bit and 64 bit devices now show the same colors for their items
- speed up saves by 75% and eliminate the appearance of duplicating orders by halting the interface for database saves again
- issues with “sliding” the screen on the left causing odd behavior where the order would “go away” but still be visible, resulting in tapping items on the right randomly starting new orders
- remove “Hub/Client” from top left, since that information can be accessed from the “More info…” screen
- the current user’s orders have names written in orange
- clients ignoring the auto logout duration
- buttons “turning gray” after an autologout occurs
- cash sales
– cc tips calculation - add category totals to Item Sales to CSV sheet
- misestimation in item cell height

Apple Update iOS 8

Apple has released its latest version of iOS and is available to update on your iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches. Here is the full list of devices that are compatible with the update:

Please update at your earliest convenience. Ambur is programmatically set to run smoothly on iOS 8, although the update itself will take anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple hours - it all depends on your internet speed and Apple's servers. Do not update during business hours as this may interrupt service. iOS 8 will be required to run Ambur once version 2.2 is released in the near future.

To begin, go to Settings > General > Software Update.

As you have read, there are many functional fixes in this version. While 2.1.1 will run on iOS 7, Ambur 2.2 runs only on iOS 8. It is advantageous to update sooner than later. For questions about 2.1.1, please contact support@amburapp.com.

Ambur 2.1 Status Update

If you haven’t yet updated to Ambur 2.1, please hold off for the time being. If you would like to revert to a previous version, as long as you use an iCloud backup, you can follow the directions here.

With the latest update, Ambur 2.1, the following issues may affect your restaurant operations: Status Message/Login Screen: If you are tapping “Link to Hub” and finding that you cannot enter any codes and you see “th an ks for t…” as your status message, your devices are most likely running two separate versions (2.0.2, and 2.1). Please evaluate the need of your additional devices and the potential problems before making your decision to update everything.
Linking: We updated the linking code to optimize the performance for a majority of networks. In the past, it was overly cautious and would disconnect your device, stating “Wi-Fi signal too weak,” whereas now it will maintain the connection with more flexibility. This change may be causing odd syncing issues for some of our clients.
Charge Types: Currently non-discount charges are not adding to the order total properly. To work around this, you will want to create a negative discount in it’s place. Instructions can be found here:

Go to More --> Charge Types --> and Create a new charge type. In a text field, in this case "Name," type in "-18" or whatever other amount you want to use.  Double tap the text and choose "Select All," then "Copy."  At this point the text is saved to your "clipboard" and you can adjust the name to be your fee's name.  Now select Yes for "percentage?" double tap the text field after clearing out the existing amount, and pasting "-18"  At this point, adjust the rest of your settings to finish creating the negative discount (which will act as a fee).  Discount? will be yes.  Counts as tip? depends on what type of charge you're setting up.

Merging is currently sporadic. If you can avoid merging orders, please do so, as there have been reports of items disappearing rather than merging from the two tickets. Table Layout: Selecting a table from table layout may not necessarily bring you to the order selected.  Please be sure to check the order name at the top of the screen, or toggle between orders from the order list.

We apologize for any inconveniences you may have experienced due to the update. Please contact support at support@amburapp.com for more specific concerns.

Ambur 2.1 Features, Part II: Performance, Printing, and Dropbox

1. Performance There are many changes in Ambur 2.1, while not apparently visible, substantially improve on the app’s general performance and speed. Because the new version can now run in 64 bit mode, the app will now run at an increased speed of around 30% faster on 64 bit devices. These include the iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, and the iPhone 5S. Additionally, Ambur now uses automated memory management which better controls how memory is allocated and deallocated, especially relative to other apps that may be running on your device. This leads to an additional 20-30% improvement on speed and with less crashes.

Ambur now has the capability to run in the background. If you switch away from the app (to look something up on your browser, for example), you will be able to switch back to Ambur and it will still be running. Your device will shut it down after being idle for around ten minutes, but will notify you when that happens. This makes it so that your iPad is not just your point of sale, but your jukebox, calculator, and anything else you want it to be to improve your business.

There is an update to a newer version of networking code, along with many other code changes, to improve syncing speed between devices.

Some major bugs have also been squashed, leading to less crashing and more seamless performance. In the past, if Ambur was not a Hub and could not find settings, it would crash. It turns out to be a better idea to use no settings in this case.

In the following version of Ambur (2.2), it will be necessary to update your devices to iOS 8. While the new version (2.1) does not require an update, once iOS 8 is released September 17, it will be still be able to run on it. It is advantageous to update to ensure your systems stay up to date and ready for the following versions of Ambur.

2. Printing For most food service business, we understand that quick and reliable printing is essential for things running smoothly. Much shorter delays should be expected for sending and printing, and tickets dropped due to a Star SP700 printer being busy and dropping data will no longer be an issue. Ambur will automatically keep trying until a full receipt prints instead of dropping it altogether.

blog v2.1 postReceipts themselves will also be more customizable. You now have the option of adding asuggested tip to your receipts, along with general upgrades to receipt formatting. To change how your receipts are formatted (from kitchen to customer to coupon), simply go to settings, tap the action button in the top right corner of the screen, and tap Edit Receipt format. Scroll through to whichever receipt you would like to change, and turn on, off, add, delete, or rearrange each feature until the formatting is up to par. In order to add suggested tips as an option, scroll to the bottom and hit "update to latest" and it will appear.

3. Dropbox Dropbox is intended to be an extension of Ambur, not something that limits your storage potential. Therefore, there is no longer a limit on your database size. It will also be easier to share your database with support or colleagues by going to the Status screen (mentioned in the previous post) and generating the link. From there, it is also possible to start a backup to your Dropbox. Lastly, aside from Dropbox updating every hour, saving your database no longer makes the rest of the app wait, resulting in improved performance and more opportunities to save your information in a reliable way.

Everyone at Ambur is excited and proud to release 2.1 because it improves on so much. The future looks bright due to increased customer support, a faster and more efficient point of sale system, and new ideas for future product and feature integration. As always, we'll be sure to keep you updated.

Introducing 24/7 Support

james as support Hey, folks! We're excited to announce the beginning of 24/7 support. You will now have the option to give us a call anytime, any day, with any problem. While the current support hours will remain free, we understand that it would be helpful to have the option of 24/7 support whenever an issue arrises. This is how it will work:

Weekday support between 10AM and 6PM will remain free and available, however, there will be a fee associated with 24/7 support. From now until September 19th, we will be offering this service at an introductory rate of $360 for a one year subscription. After September 19th, the price goes up to $600 for a one year subscription, with the option of paying $60 monthly. By opting for a one year subscription, you will save $120 compared to paying monthly. For a huge 40% savings and sound mind, it is advantageous to buy before September 19th.

To clarify: Monday - Friday, 10AM - 6PM: still free! 24/7: $360 for one year (until September 19th) $60/month or $600 for one year (after September 19th)

To sign up or inquire further, don't hesitate to give our sales team a call at 716.235.5808 (ext. 1).

Or follow these links to sign up right away: Monthly | Annually

Thanks, The Ambur Team

Ambur 2.1 Features, Part I: Status Screen, Reporting, and Improved Interface

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We’re very excited to announce that the release of Ambur v2.1 is around the corner! It has been submitted to Apple as of today, so we are looking at a timeframe within a week or two. With the long-sought release of 2.0, followed by 2.0.2, the latest version builds upon its strengths and dramatically improves on a great number of challenges.

This post will detail the major changes in 2.1, where hard work has yielded satisfying results. The top sources of crashing have been eradicated and new features from more organized and detailed reports, to a beneficial support function have been added. This all adds up to the best version of Ambur yet, still with no monthly fees and a support team ready to assist you, free of charge.

v2.1 blog post screenshot

1. The Status Screen By clicking the global action button and selecting More Information, you will be taken to the new Status Screen. This is incredibly helpful for finding out information about your device, network, and Dropbox account. With one tap, you’re able to know the device name and ID, iOS version, app version, WiFi network, your iPad’s status as a hub or client (including the number of client devices), and the last time your database was backed up to Dropbox, all on one screen.

v2.1 blog screenshot 2

Three additional functions below this plethora of information further assist in keeping your system running smoothly. The first, Backup to Dropbox now, provides a quick and easy way to back up your database. The second button, Get link for Ambur DB in Dropbox, instantly provides a direct link to your database which is especially helpful when dealing with support. In addition, there will now be no limit on the size of your database and backups will occur every hour. The third and most exciting function is Screencast. This allows a support team member to view what is happening on your screen, mirroring any issue you may have so that it is more visible to us. We are confident this function will be extremely helpful in future support calls.  You can also utilize Screencast to monitor your Hub from home by going to iostream.io and entering the randomized number Ambur provides when enabling the function.

IMG_0093

2. Reporting For any business, the ability to run reports is crucial for maintaining organization and finances, which has been a central feature of Ambur from the beginning. With 2.1, Reports have been expanded in the areas of payroll, discounts, and fees. The Payroll report will now split out shifts and wages based on the pay rate. It will also show the hours and minutes worked, including the fractional number of hours worked (i.e. 1 hour 45 minutes as 1.75 hours). If one employee holds two different roles with respective pay rate differences, such as a host and a server, their rates will be divided but contained under that individual employee making it easier to see how payroll is divided.

The second added Reports feature is Discounts and Fees which is now also listed on the Orders to CSV report. Discounts allows you to see how much you gave away in coupons, Groupons, and other concessions. You will also be able to see how much you gained in Fees, while Tips remain in their own report.

3. Interface Improvements Order actions, located at the bottom of the screen below the menu items, have been reformatted and now have icons for easier navigating.

IMG_0094

Menu items now have a color dictated by the category they’re in, and if one item is in two categories, it will display the category color with the higher rank. In a future version of Ambur, custom color assigning will be possible outside of category colors.

Orders will now have color distinctions. Firstly, the last viewed order will be highlighted gray  (or outlined depending on the view mode) on an iPad. In addition, if a user has permissions to see all orders, the names of their orders will be highlighted in orange. Finally, there is now greater visual separation between modifiers when picking options for a menu item.

This is the first in a series of blog posts on Ambur v2.1 to make all of the new features and fixes more digestible.

9 Ways to Enhance Your Dining Experience With Music

Music adds a completely new and interesting element to the dining experience.
Music adds a completely new and interesting element to the dining experience.

It’s no secret that music almost always enhances a dining experience, but its importance is often undermined and left up to a Pandora playlist to set the mood. While radio stations are convenient and sometimes useful, the thought put into a playlist or live music will not go unnoticed. If you wouldn’t randomly select the decor and visual appearance of your restaurant, then you also shouldn’t randomly select the auditory experience for your guests. Here are some ways to enhance your space with some good tunes:

1. Know Your Angle
The music playing in your restaurant, cafe, or bar should correlate with the theme of your food and space. Country music at an Indian restaurant? Seems weird. Try sticking with what you know and what your customers expect.

2. Create a Meaningful Playlist
It’s likely you or one of your employees feels passionately about music and probably already has some good ideas on what should be playing. Gather suggestions from the staff and make it a communal experience, one that you all get to share while working.

3. Create an Experience For the Customer
Anyone can plug their iPod into a speaker and play some Miles Davis, but to make the customer’s visit memorable, invite a jazz trio to perform instead. This enhances the dining experience by setting the mood, creates an attraction, and lures in new customers.

4. Spread the Word Since you’re already cultivating an experience, why not turn it into an event? Use social media to your advantage and get the word out that you now have live music. Maybe even take the opportunity to ask your customers what they would like to hear!

5. Don’t Stop the Music
One study from the National Institutes of Health shows that the “presence of music is associated with higher food intake. Within subject comparisons revealed higher food and fluid intake and longer meal duration while listening to music.” What this means for your business is, the more often music is playing, people will likely order more from your menu and linger for an extra drink or two.

6. Mix It Up - But Not Too Much
While it’s important to play the appropriate tunes for your space, no one wants to hear Adele followed by Norah Jones followed by Adele on a friday night. Mix in those smooth, quiet tracks with livelier ones to please the most amount of people.

7. Skip the Cover Fee (If You Can)
If your business is able to front the bill for a band without asking a cover fee from customers, this is highly recommended. Some customers will be deterred by having to pay for something they may not even want. Think of it as an investment to draw more people in.

8. Offer a Drink Special
What’s one thing that goes better with music than food? Alcohol! For some, live music and drinking are inseparable, and what better opportunity to offer a drink special? As noted in tip #5, your guests will be more likely to buy more drinks if music is playing.

9. Use Your iPad
Did you know you can run Ambur Point of Sale while playing music off your iPad? Use iTunes, Spotify, or another streaming service and you can run your business and your tunes all from the same place. Follow these simple instructions here and check out amburapp.com for more features.

N.B. As one of our customers brought up, it's important to be cognizant of music licensing! Check out the rules and exceptions from the National Restaurant Association here.

Ambur 2.0.2 released in the App Store!

Ambur 2.0.2 is now available in the App Store – the 2.0 that we wanted to give you last Monday is available, and we’d love for you to give it a try. All customers can download it now, including people using Mercury for credit card processing, and this release was tested using our new protocol so you know it’s rock solid. 2.0.2 is a combination of the new features from 2.0, with the bug fixes for most known crashes in 2.0.1, and more bug fixes and some small new features in 2.0.2. The complete list of changes is available at the bottom of this post, as well as in the App Store update notes.

The major new features in 2.0 were a redesigned, modern interface designed to the standard introduced by Apple in iOS 7. The order screen was given extra attention, and it’s workflow was redesigned from the ground up to make it the fastest order taking experience on any point of sale. Grid pickers were added to maximize the use of screen real estate, and the app was converted to work with iOS 7 as it’s base, making it much easier for us to maintain and grow quickly. Support for Mercury transactions entered manually rather than swipes was added – please contact Mercury to set up support for that in your system. Time based reporting was also added, so, for example, you can compare your sales just during your lunch shifts from 1 to 4 PM.

2.0.1 fixed issues we saw with the major engineering effort of 2.0 once it was released into the world. We fixed a bug that caused many of our client’s secondary devices to be unable to link to a hub, we decreased login times significantly, fixed issues with splitting, and sporadic issues with sending items to the kitchen and opening cash drawers.

2.0.2 fixed every last bug we saw in 2.0, the most important ones being batching Mercury transactions, and a crash when adding payments on a setup that had devices linked together. One important major new feature is that now orders are assigned numbers by default. Practically, this means that orders will now be named “#1”, “#2”, and so on, instead of New Order. If you want to reset your order number to a lower value, you can change it in Settings. In a later update, we will make it so it wraps around to 1 instead of going from 999 to 1000. The table layout button is now an icon of a map instead of an iOS 7 button that just looks like “Layout”, so it’s more clear that it is a button. Categories are now ordered by their rank, and categories are displayed on iPhone. The menu item list shows prices on the right. Send and cancel buttons are displayed in a separate toolbar when adding items, so their appearance doesn’t put too many buttons in the title bar.

With 2.0, we made a very tough decision to throw out a lot of work we had done over the past two years in order to reboot 2.0 on top of the original 1.0 code. We did this so we could be more agile in responding to your feature requests, so as always, we’d love to hear from you. You can submit feature requests on this page. Requests placed there will go directly to me. I’d appreciate it if you left your contact information, especially email, so I can ask further questions about how your request would best fit in Ambur while developing it.

Once you’ve tried 2.0 and seen the hard work we’ve put into it and how transformative it is, we’d appreciate it if you could leave a review in the App Store. We’ve taken quite a beating there over the past week, and as a small independently run software company, reviews are very important for people’s impression of us. We don’t want their impression of us as a 3 year old company to be colored by one bad week.

Thank you for being one of our customers, and thank you for your patience over the last week. Once again, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me at jpo@amburapp.com

Best, James O’Leary Founder

 

2.0.2 Notes: FEATURE: order numbers are assigned by default, new order names are now “#(insert order number here)” instead of “New Order” FEATURE: send/cancel buttons are now displayed on a toolbar below the main one when viewing an order FEATURE: Mercury manual processing works fully, in a mixed environment with swiped transactions as well FEATURE: menu item list shows price on right FEATURE: categories are now shown by rank in the list view ADJUSTMENT: changed table layout button to use an icon instead of “Layout” (thanks to James Ehrmann) ADJUSTMENT: searching now searches the full name (i.e. searching for “cord” used to bring up just “cord”, now it will bring up “cord” and “chicken cordon bleu”) (thanks to Jeffrey Su) ADJUSTMENT: tapping “Done” while searching now clears search field (thanks to Rosanna Kyarunts for pointing out this could be confusing) ADJUSTMENT: category buttons are orange tinted so they look the same as a tappable button (thanks to James Ehrmann) ADJUSTMENT: global action button icon is now a globe ADJUSTMENT: deletion is no longer allowed from lists that are pickers BUG: batching Mercury swiped credit card transactions BUG: crash when voiding a payment that doesn’t have an order BUG: order list shows short unique ID on right hand side again BUG: menu item list shows buttons for item descriptions again BUG: actions are available for closed orders again BUG: table names not ‘catching’ properly on linked devices, especially from table layout BUG: manual entry of credit card transactions when the expiration month is less than 10 BUG: “+” button for adding a customer only shows when viewing customers instead of all the time BUG: category picker added to iPhone BUG: categories are now displayed by rank properly BUG: “includes” checkmarks in reporting are now displayed properly BUG: order action toolbar buttons are now always the right color

2.0.1 Notes: BUG: crash when linking, caused by settings loading from the Hub after Orders did, by forcing Settings to load first BUG: crash when processing Mercury transactions with a username shorter than 10 characters BUG: decrease login times by only loading remote data when the screen containing data is tapped (ex. don’t load closed orders until the user taps it). will decrease load times BUG: add open order action to closed order viewer BUG: # of orders shows as 1 in the bottom left, even after the last order is closed BUG: printers not working after first send to a same printer BUG: showing “can’t adjust to $0.00” alert when a void is executed BUG: splitting an order that contains multiple items (wrong quantities being displayed, crash when splitting the first item)

2.0 Notes: FEATURE: complete redesign, done to modern Apple standards FEATURE: portrait mode compatibility on iPad FEATURE: landscape mode compatibility on iPhone FEATURE: quick order functionality FEATURE: time range reports FEATURE: redesigned login screen with status message and bigger number pad FEATURE: persistent navigation bar with quick access to basic functions (replacing “home” screen) FEATURE: navigation bar shows count of open orders FEATURE: create order by adding a new Item, Charge Type, or Customer FEATURE: order details appear throughout ordering process FEATURE: navigate between items, charge types, customers, and payments with ease FEATURE: easy access order functions(former action key) FEATURE: global “action” key FEATURE: global Table Layout access FEATURE: every list has a grid view option FEATURE: confirmation added for voiding payments ADJUSTMENT: remove confusing duplicate “total” line from “Item Sales to CSV” and “Item Sales” reports ADJUSTMENT: don’t count an item’s tax in item sales report if the order is tax exempt ADJUSTMENT: when splitting, there’s an indicator of where to drag and drop items to

Status Update 7/21 (Edit)

7/21 6:40pm: Apple has informed us that Ambur 2.0.2 is currently under review. If all goes well, by tomorrow morning nearly everyone should be able to update to the latest version without hesitation.  

 

Hi folks,

I wanted to give you an update on the state of things this week.

– What happened with 2.0.1? When devices are linked, Ambur 2.0.1 crashes on the device that takes the payment, be it the hub or client.

- What can you do in the meantime? When processing payments, do not link devices. Two options currently exist: 1) Only use one device to avoid crashes. 2) If option one is not possible, use secondary (client) devices to take orders. Once you send an order, hit the home button and exit out of the app. This will end linking. Repeat the process for every order and process payments on the Hub device only. You may also want to look back into reverting: http://blog.amburapp.com/reverting-ambur-to-previous-version/

– How did this happen? We didn’t have much time to create and implement a testing protocol last week because we were in crisis mode responding to incoming inquiries. We should have made time, because as you know, 2.0.1 improved on 2.0, but barely. 2.0.1 has a bug that causes devices to crash if they’re linked together and a payment is made on either of the devices.

– What are we doing to resolve it? We worked through the weekend coming up with the protocol, fixing issues in the update, and adding features that were missed in the redesign from 1.0 to 2.0. We’re confident 2.0.2 resolves all bugs, adds back in any missing functionality from 1.11.6 that I’ve found out about, as well as adding a few small new features. A complete list of the changes from 2.0, 2.0.1, and 2.0.2, can be found at the bottom of this post.

– When will 2.0.2 be available? I submitted it for Apple’s review at 4 AM EST Monday morning, and requested another expedited review. Thankfully, Apple agreed to make an additional exception and will proceed with an expedited review. Traditionally, this means the app would be approved same day, but as we saw last week, it could take much longer.

– Having trouble activating devices/stuck in demo mode/forgot Ambur username and password? Please email activate@amburapp.com to receive help with upgrading your devices from demo mode. Include your original username and password if available to you, as well as a contact name, restaurant name, and phone number. We are still working to reach out to everybody that has been backlogged in our system, but to potentially speed things up, here is the guide to reverting back to an old version of Ambur if you have the iCloud backups available to you: http://blog.amburapp.com/reverting-ambur-to-previous-version/

– Using Mercury credit card processing? If you’re on 1.11.6, stay on that version until 2.0.2 is released please. If you’re on 2.0 or 2.0.1, please email support@amburapp.com with the subject “Mercury batching issues," and your name, your business name, your phone number, and business hours. We’ll reach out to you ASAP to aid in settling your batch.

– How can you be confident with Ambur moving forward? We’ve been working overtime to make sure we’re responding to people constantly, and we’ve pushed through a lot of bug fixes and features in a short period of time. This shows our commitment and drive to resolving things. 2.0 was guaranteed to be a rocky launch because of the significant amount of code that was added to it, and we didn’t anticipate how much more testing was necessary, compared to a traditional release. This won’t ever happen again.

– How will we make this up to you? By providing you the award-winning service that you’ve received for free since you purchased your license. By accelerating the pace of updates now that we have a fresh new base of 2.0 to start on, so that your initial investment in the point of sale pays dividends even after you pay us. If you have anything else you’d like us to do, please reach out to me at jpo@amburapp.com

Thanks for those who have been supportive during this – those of you who have reached out with very kind words, care packages, and encouragement are greatly appreciated. This past week has felt like a night when the restaurant is slammed full with an hour wait, except it feels more like the restaurant is full twice over with a 12 hour wait.  Your kindness has made it easier to see light at the end of the tunnel, when the biggest Ambur since 1.0 is stable and you’re able to enjoy it too.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at jpo@amburapp.com. If it’s a sales or support inquiry because you need immediate help, please reach out to our sales and support team – I’m not always on email, and some of your requests that were emailed to me slipped through the cracks this weekend as a result.

Best wishes, James

2.0.2 Notes: FEATURE: order numbers are assigned by default, new order names are now “#(insert order number here)” instead of “New Order” FEATURE: send/cancel buttons are now displayed on a toolbar below the main one when viewing an order FEATURE: Mercury manual processing works fully, in a mixed environment with swiped transactions as well FEATURE: menu item list shows price on right FEATURE: categories are now shown by rank in the list view ADJUSTMENT: changed table layout button to use an icon instead of “Layout” (thanks to James Ehrmann) ADJUSTMENT: searching now searches the full name (i.e. searching for “cord” used to bring up just “cord”, now it will bring up “cord” and “chicken cordon bleu”) (thanks to Jeffrey Su) ADJUSTMENT: tapping “Done” while searching now clears search field (thanks to Rosanna Kyarunts for pointing out this could be confusing) ADJUSTMENT: category buttons are orange tinted so they look the same as a tappable button (thanks to James Ehrmann) ADJUSTMENT: global action button icon is now a globe ADJUSTMENT: deletion is no longer allowed from lists that are pickers BUG: batching Mercury swiped credit card transactions BUG: crash when voiding a payment that doesn’t have an order BUG: order list shows short unique ID on right hand side again BUG: menu item list shows buttons for item descriptions again BUG: actions are available for closed orders again BUG: table names not ‘catching’ properly on linked devices, especially from table layout BUG: manual entry of credit card transactions when the expiration month is less than 10 BUG: “+” button for adding a customer only shows when viewing customers instead of all the time BUG: category picker added to iPhone BUG: categories are now displayed by rank properly BUG: “includes” checkmarks in reporting are now displayed properly BUG: order action toolbar buttons are now always the right color

2.0.1 Notes: BUG: crash when linking, caused by settings loading from the Hub after Orders did, by forcing Settings to load first BUG: crash when processing Mercury transactions with a username shorter than 10 characters BUG: decrease login times by only loading remote data when the screen containing data is tapped (ex. don’t load closed orders until the user taps it). will decrease load times BUG: add open order action to closed order viewer BUG: # of orders shows as 1 in the bottom left, even after the last order is closed BUG: printers not working after first send to a same printer BUG: showing “can’t adjust to $0.00” alert when a void is executed BUG: splitting an order that contains multiple items (wrong quantities being displayed, crash when splitting the first item)

2.0 Notes: FEATURE: complete redesign, done to modern Apple standards FEATURE: portrait mode compatibility on iPad FEATURE: landscape mode compatibility on iPhone FEATURE: quick order functionality FEATURE: time range reports FEATURE: redesigned login screen with status message and bigger number pad FEATURE: persistent navigation bar with quick access to basic functions (replacing “home” screen) FEATURE: navigation bar shows count of open orders FEATURE: create order by adding a new Item, Charge Type, or Customer FEATURE: order details appear throughout ordering process FEATURE: navigate between items, charge types, customers, and payments with ease FEATURE: easy access order functions(former action key) FEATURE: global “action” key FEATURE: global Table Layout access FEATURE: every list has a grid view option FEATURE: confirmation added for voiding payments ADJUSTMENT: remove confusing duplicate “total” line from “Item Sales to CSV” and “Item Sales” reports ADJUSTMENT: don’t count an item’s tax in item sales report if the order is tax exempt ADJUSTMENT: when splitting, there’s an indicator of where to drag and drop items to

Letter from the Founder

Good news: our 2.0.1 update is approved and should be available in the App Store soon! If you aren’t using Mercury as a credit card processor, you should update today and enjoy the app that we believe in, the best version of Ambur yet, and the most complete point of sale available on the App Store today. If you do use Mercury, don’t update to 2.0.1 – wait for a 2.0.2 update. This week has shown that giving release estimates is foolish, given it occurs on Apple’s timetable, but we can say that review times are traditionally 1-2 weeks.

We’re very sorry for the 2.0 update. We failed you – someone who believes in us, invested in us, and trusted us to help run your business. No apologies can amend that. We’ve learned a lot from this, and I’d like to share what we’re going to do differently going forward.

Our development team will be making smaller, more frequent, releases. Three months ago, we threw away two years worth of coding that was initially supposed to be Ambur 2.0. That 2.0 had grown so large that we would not have been able to ship it until late 2014, and we decided that was unacceptable for you. That’s why some of you were promised features that didn’t end up in 2.0: March 2.0 was an entirely different app from July 2.0. With smaller updates, faster, you’ll be able to see us grow much more quickly and there will be less potential for major bugs.

Our support team is creating and implementing a more efficient testing protocol. This protocol will ensure that there will never be a bug in Ambur that will prevent you from running your restaurant effectively: e.g. bugs preventing clients from working, orders from being taken, credit cards from being processed and batched, and receipts being printed. We will also be implementing a beta program with a number of our customers. Making sure our app is being tested by a variety of customers will ensure that any bugs as a result of exotic configurations will be caught. With enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.

As a team, we’re going to focus on communicating with you more, especially in times of crisis. With more frequent updates and a great new app, we’re expecting significant growth, and we want to make sure we’re helping you along with us.

As the founder of Ambur, I want to make sure I’m available for you. You can reach me directly at jpo@amburapp.com.

To address one more issue that we’ve been hearing about – we wish we could maintain the one time fee structure. We want to still be here years and years from now, and without money for the substantial update and support services we provide customers after purchase, we won’t be. Even with added monthly fees, we will be cheaper than any other point of sale on the market today. I’m particularly interested in any suggestions you have for our pricing model – it’s very important to hear from you, our loyal customers and successful business owners, about what would work best. Just to be clear, these pricing changes won’t affect anyone at all who purchases before 2.1.

We’d like to thank you deeply for the kindness, patience, support, and understanding we’ve received during this week. We’re very sorry for any inconvenience we’ve caused you and your business, and I assure you that it will not ever happen again.

All the best, James O’Leary

Reverting Ambur to Previous Version

Instructions on restoring your Ambur version to 1.11.6

* This will only work if you have iCloud backups set up.  You can check by going to Settings --> iCloud.  If it states "iCloud backup is off," you probably do not have iCloud backups on.

* Back up your database via Dropbox or from iTunes onto your computer

You will need your original Ambur Activation username and password.  You may need to re-log in to Ambur to activate the device after reverting.

This post covers database backup to Dropbox, database backup using iTunes, iCloud restore, database importing from Dropbox, and database importing using iTunes.

Backing Up the Database

Backing up to Dropbox:

* Create a Dropbox account if you do not yet have one.  Go to Dropbox.com, select “Create an account.”

- Open Ambur —> More —> Settings —> Action Key (top right corner), —> Dropbox Backup

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- Tap “Link account” —> Enter Dropbox Information —> Allow access

or

- Tap “Backup now”

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- A status bar will appear while Ambur is backing up.   Once complete, the Dropbox page in Ambur will display “LAST BACKUP: [Date] AT [Time]”

Saving Database to Computer

- Plug iPad into computer

- Open iTunes.  If you do not have iTunes, go to iTunes.com to download

- In top right corner of iTunes to select device

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- Click on Apps —> Scroll to bottom of the Apps page to “File Sharing” —> Tap on Ambur

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- Select Ambur_database.adb1 —> Click "Save to" --> Save to location that you will easily be able to find later.

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Restoring

Restore from iCloud backup

*User will need to know iCloud/Apple ID username and password

Check to make sure they have iCloud set up, Settings -> iCloud —> Last Backup will be listed under “Storage & Backup."

*If there is a note saying "iCloud Backup is off," you most likely do not have an iCloud backup.

*If there is a backup that's after July 13, 2014, you most likely have a backup from before as well.

- Go to Settings —> General —> Reset —> Erase all content and settings

- Once the iPad finishes resetting, you will begin with the setup assistant

- In the setup assistant, proceed to “set up your device,” tap Restore from a Backup, and sign in to iCloud

- Proceed to “Choose Backup,” then choose from a list of available backups in iCloud (probably the most recent one before July 13).

- The iPad will set up from the backup with Ambur 1.11.6 on it

- View instructions on loading database into Ambur.

- Please remember to turn off auto-updates:

- iPad Home --> Settings --> iTunes & App Store --> turn off "Updates"

Loading Previous Database into Ambur

From Dropbox:

- Download the Dropbox app from your iPad's App Store.

- Log into your Dropbox account

- Select the Ambur folder

- Tap on your database file

- Once finished downloading, Dropbox will say "No Preview Available.  This file type can't be viewed"

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- Tap on the "action key" as shown, and select "open in..."

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- Select Open in Ambur

- Ambur will now open, and you will need to overwrite your existing database.

From iTunes 

- Plug iPad into computer

- Open iTunes.  If you do not have iTunes, go to iTunes.com to download

- In top right corner of iTunes to select device

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- Click on Apps —> Scroll to bottom of the Apps page to “File Sharing” —> Click on Ambur

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- Click "Add," and select the previously saved Ambur_database.adb1.  If you had named your database differently, you can change the filename to Ambur_database.adb1 after it's been added.  This filename is case-sensitive.

***If you receive a popup that notifying you that you are on a trial version of Ambur, please email us at activate@amburapp.com with your:

- Restaurant Name

- Contact Name

- Phone Number

- Original login username and password