Category Archives: Mobile Computing
With the updated operating system (OS) that Blackberry released, I thought I should give it another real world test drive to see how this tablet faired for me. I put my iPad away and carried the Playbook every day into meetings, workshops, while waiting in coffeeshops. I tried as well to use it at home in the evenings for personal use (though occasionally I succumbed to grabbing my iPad so I could watch some programming on Netflix…an app, like so many others, that is missing from the Blackberry ecosystem). I wanted to keep track of where the Playbook exceeded my iPad experiences and where it fell short.
Unfortunately, for me, the list in the “Fell Short” column was a lot longer than the “Exceeded Expectations” column.
I’ve always been a fan of OneNote from Microsoft. It is an incredibly useful tool. Seeing that my iPad is an incredibly useful tool as well, what better app to have featured here on App Wednesday that OneNote for the iPad.
OneNote for the iPad lets you create a series of Notebooks, collections of information. You can integrate all kinds of content into these notebooks, making them versatile for many different types of daily usage. Within each notebook, you can create various sections to organize whatever content you are assembling. It has some decent formatting tools so you can make notes look good while working on the iPad. I also like the ability to email notes from the app on the iPad to another user. The email recipient receives an embedded version of the formatted note. It’s not a picture, which is good, because it means that the recipient can edit the content when they receive it (and they don’t need OneNote).
The app is free, and with that you can have up to 500 notes. If you want to go beyond that, you can purchase the upgrade for $14.99
If your organization is progressive and using Office365 then you can further find advantage to using OneNote for iPad. The cloud version of OneNote in Office365 gives you easy, secure access from anywhere. If your organization doesn’t use Office365, you can still take advantage of a cloud-based version of OneNote through Microsoft Windows Live.
Let’s hope that Microsoft continues to bring iPad versions of Office to the iOS platform. It would be a win for them and for consumers. Here’s hoping the current batch of rumours is true! In the meantime, grab OneNote and experience this great application for yourself.
One of the real strengths of the iPad is the ability to use it as a media device, to consume all kinds of various content, whether it be reading newspapers, reading books, surfing the web or watching videos. I’ve got a number of excellent apps that provide me with video content but wanted to briefly highlight one of them this App Wednesday because of just how robust it is.
I’m talking about the Bloomberg TV+ app – after having installed it a short while ago, I find that I am often opening it each day when I want to get some good business content. The content itself is excellent, but content alone doesn’t make a good app. The app itself has an excellent user interface to allow for a natural ease of use. It’s packed with various video feeds and dynamically updates itself. It gives you a mix of On Demand content but also the ability to watch live content. The other awesome thing is the ability to have video sent via AirPlay to my Apple TV when I’m using the app at home. Add to that the ability to create your own Playlists and you have a tremendous app delivering top notch content. Truly a great user experience.
I encourage you to check it out for yourself. Once you’ve had a chance to use it, please feel free to let me know what you thought of it via the comments. Getting end-user feedback is always a pleasure and highly valuable to me.
Happy App Wednesday!
For those of you who know me (or read my blog often or follow my Twitter feed!) you’ll know that I am a news and info junkie. This week’s featured app is one I’ve really enjoyed using. It is similar in concept to Zite (another great app) but has some subtle differences that I really enjoy.
The app is News360 and it is really an excellent news aggregator app that learns what you like to read and continues to refine the stories it brings forward. That is a lot like Zite. What I particularly like about News360 is that you can link it to a variety of social media sites you might use like Google+, Twitter, Facebook. You can even link it to your Evernote account! Then News360 goes out and scans those sources and learns about the types of things that interest you. Post a link on your Facebook wall about the new iPhone 4s and News360 will learn to bring you more articles about that topic. Tweet something about the latest high speed internet stick for Rogers and presto, News360 will again begin to personalize your experience.
I like this type of application because it curates content for me but makes it simple to refine the criteria that goes into creating my personalized experience. It is basically invisible to me and requires very little effort beyond the initial setup. Add to that a wonderful looking user interface with some innovative ways to present stories (the 360 degree view is nice to have scroll by while you are working on something else and simply have your iPad resting on your desk) and you have a winner of an app! Did I tell you it’s free.
So go grab it and start enjoying another personalized content experience on your iOS device.
I wanted to put down a few thoughts on Siri now that I’ve used for over a week. By now you’ve no doubt heard about this voice recognition functionality that Apple has built into the iPhone 4S. Let me start off by saying that Siri is no gimmick. It’s not awkward voice commands that you need to memorize to try to do simply things like call a contact. The other mobile phone vendors, like Microsoft and Google, have dismissed Siri as being unnecessary, but let me assure you, after seeing it, I’m sure that both those two companies are feverishly working to try to create their own version of Siri to replace their simplistic voice command systems on their respective platforms.
I wanted to high light two aspects of Siri that I used repeatedly all last week that drove home the value of this new interface. The first is for setting reminders and calendar appointments. Looking back at my reminders from last week I set ended up setting 37 reminders that were a mix of work and personal items. Using Siri it is dead easy.
- “Remind me next Thursday that it’s parent teacher interviews at 7pm”
- “Remind me to pick up a new power cord when I’m near the Eaton’s Centre”
- “Remind me to mail thank you cards when I arrive home.”
- “Book a meeting for tomorrow morning at 9am to work on presentation.”
- “Remind me to email my presentation when I arrive at work.”
- “Remind me to pick up toast bread and juice when I leave work.”
- “Remind me everyday at 9pm to sign my daughter’s agenda book.”
- “Remind me to call [client name] when I arrive at the office”
- “Book a lunch meeting for this Friday with [name of person] for noon.”
The above is just a sampling of some of the reminders I set for myself. As if by magic, these reminders were set flawlessly. Correct dates and times. Some set up as repeating items automatically. Some set to trigger only depending on my location. It is as simple to set as it is to tell someone to remind you. It’s transformative. Calendar appointments that take 3-5 steps normally are done in a single sentence. Again, transformative.
The second is the ability to send text messages via voice. At first I thought that this would be very useful in the car. It is of course, as it means I don’t have to type while driving, which is unsafe and a legal no-no. What has surprised me however is that it is also useful when you are simply running around doing things.
For example, I was walking to a lunch meeting last week and my friend texted me “Have a table” and I simply spoke while crossing the street and said “Tell [person's name] I am on my way”. Siri then simply sent a text back to that person that said “I am on my way”. It was flawless. I didn’t have to slow down, glance down, finger type and send the text. I simply spoke as though on the phone. That scenario played itself out repeatedly last week with voice commands like:
- “Tell [person's name] Heading to meeting room A now.”
- “Tell my wife I am heading to the car now”
- “Tell my daughter I’m almost at the school.”
- “Tell [person's name] Running late. See you in five.”
It is these types of things, naturally spoken, that make Siri incredibly valuable. As people begin to experience this value, they will start to use Siri for other natural language commands and searches. It is the natural language search that has companies like Google and Microsoft terrified, and rightfully so.
- the launch of the iPhone 4s
- RIM’s catastrophic global outage leaves it with a black eye
- Strategic Perspective: Make IT a Revenue Driver Inside Your Organization
I hope that you find the topics today to be entertaining, informative and thought provoking.
To listen to today’s show, simply click the link below.
If you need to manage projects and you want to leverage your iPad to do so, there are various options. Many of us have used Microsoft Project for planning, but it often proves to be cumbersome to use. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a tool for the iPad that was easy to use for managing a variety of projects. I used Liquid Planner for a time and it is excellent, but it requires you to be connected which proved from time to time to not work for me personally.
My search eventually took me to this Wednesday’s app of the week: SG Project Pro
This app is fantastic for managing multiple projects. It gives you a nice simple set of tools to create Projects with associated Tasks and Actions. I particularly like that they have the ability to create Project Risks that get associated and managed within the project. As well, being able to go to the Portfolio Home and see a bird’s eye view of you projects and their status is awesome. I also like that the app allows me to easily share various view with other people. I can do an update to a project plan, for example, during a meeting and then, send the PDF version of that plan to the participants. Or I can send an executive summary PDF version to senior people who might not want all the details. Additionally, I can save to Dropbox, which is an added bonus leveraging the strength of the cloud.
Some of the features highlighted by SG Project Pro are:
- Create projects and manage a portfolio of active projects
- Create task schedules with table and Gantt-style views
- Create and manage Action Items for each project
- Create and manage Risks for each project
- Associate Action Items and Risks with tasks in a project schedule
- Set a cost for each task and view cost-to-date, cost-to-go, and total cost
- View and study the overall schedule for your suite of active projects
- Produce customized reports for projects, team members, and a group of projects
- Email a variety of PDF reports directly to the project team or stakeholder
- Export or email project data in XML format
- Share data easily using Dropbox
- Share your iPad display using a VGA projector
- Share project data easily with SG Project Go for iPhone
It really works well and leverages the strengths of the iPad. If you are looking for a solid project management tool for your mobile needs, be sure to give SG Project Pro a look!
This week’s App Wednesday features a favorite of mine for great video calling and VoiP calling while on the go. I’m talking about Skype, a tool that millions of people have used for years on their computers. I have it installed on my iPhone and my iPad and it is indispensable for me. I often FaceTime, but Skype has the benefit for me that so many people already use it on their computers. With FaceTime, I can only video call people with an iOS device or if they have FaceTime on their Mac. With Skype, I can call PC users, Mac users, Android users and iOS users. Its market penetration is a real strength. Of course, market penetration alone wouldn’t make this a great app. It has to work. On my iPhone and especially on my iPad it works outstandingly. The recently launched iPad version has a great user interface, making it easy to use. Call quality is very good for both voice and video.
You can also grab the Android version here, thought I haven’t personally tested that version yet.
So….I suspect that many people will be disappointed that the iPhone 5 didn’t launch. What that really means is beyond me. If they’d taken today’s new phone and called it a 5 rather than 4S would that make people happy? What’s important is to look inside the phone. The 4S is a big jump up from the 4. Does it warrant existing iPhone 4 users to upgrade? Maybe, but not necessarily. Of course iPhone 3GS users who skipped the iPhone 4 now have something amazing to upgrade to. Blackberry users who have been waiting also have a great option now. Many of them have held off because they didn’t want to get an iPhone 4 only to have a new model come out. Well the new model is out and it’s a perfect time. The iPhone 4S with the new iOS 5 continues to lead in terms of what you can do with your smartphone. No other phone can touch it. The apps that are iOS’s strength will now get even more robust and begin to leverage the many new features available. Of course eventually the iPhone 5 will come out (again…whatever that means) and people will start talking about some fabled iPhone 6 I’m sure. If you use that logic though, you’ll never buy a device. Compared to the other mobile vendors, who cycle through their products multiple times in one year, the iPhone has a reliable annual upgrade path and older phones aren’t left behind.
To see what’s new under the hood with the iPhone 4S, watch the video below. I think the assistant functionality in Siri, which has been purchased and integrated into the OS, is outstanding. I can’t wait to try that out for myself.