Smartphone Apps That Help You Get Faster and Smarter Online
Last week I discussed the best cloud apps for managing your contacts and business cards, but what about everything else you do while on the go? Can you use the cloud to be more productive in other areas? Of course you can! There are apps that leverage the cloud to do almost everything you do online, and they can help you do it smarter (and faster!). Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Cloud file storage
No matter what line of business you’re in, there are surely dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of files you need to manage. Wouldn’t it be great to have access to them everywhere you go? Thankfully, the prices of cloud storage are falling every year, and it’s becoming simpler than ever to point an app to your documents folder and let it sync to the cloud and across your devices.
Stop carrying around flash drives and never be caught in a meeting without access to a crucial document ever again!
If you’re a small business or entrepreneur, one great solution I like is to switch your business over to Google Drive, which provides both document storage and editing of all your docs, spreadsheets, and presentations in one place. Fully compatible with other office suites but available on every device you can think of, Drive is a great way to promote team collaboration on important documents and make sure your company has all of their important docs in one place.
But larger companies that may be more resistant to switching over to Google for all their document needs, either Dropbox or Box.net can help. You can get several gigabytes of storage on either service for free so you can try them out, and since both offer apps for every mobile device out there, you can have your documents, pictures, and more easily synced across all your devices and never be caught without a crucial file again!
Last week I broke down my step-by-step tips for how to network and pitch while at conferences, events, and talks. No matter what line of business you’re in, there’s always people to pitch who can help your business or with whom you can create mutually beneficial partnerships. But let’s say you’re just back from a conference, or even better, about to go to one. After you’ve gotten the pitches right, and met all the right people, how can you best make sure you nail the follow-ups to your benefit?
Enter the cloud. There are a variety of cloud-based technologies that can help you manage the data you’re taking in during these events and help you sort it back out when you’re done. While you may have little more than a smartphone with you when you’re interacting with people at these events, using the cloud you can automatically sync everything that comes in with your desktop computer back home. Today I’m going to take a look at some of my favorite ways to use the cloud to make sure you capture all of the data from an event and turn that into an actionable plan for you to work from.
1. Put Business Cards in the Cloud
Every day you’ll be grabbing (and, hopefully, handing out) dozens of business cards from potential partners, potential clients, or even just people you’d like to see again. But by the time you’re back in your hotel at the end of the day, never mind by the time the conference is over, you will surely have forgotten why you took some of those business cards and all will be for naught.
If you’ve already standardized your personal note-taking on Evernote like I have then the best option would be to use Evernote Hello. Far more than just a place to capture business cards, Hello captures people, interactions, notes, meetings, and helps you build a rich history of when you’ve seen someone before and what you discussed. This way, when you run into someone at a conference, you’ll know exactly what you discussed the last time you saw them.
We’ve talked before about how important it is to back up your data (see here, here, and here). But what’s interesting is that so many of us don’t back up our mobile devices: according to a survey from Carbonite and Wakefield Research, 62% of people with camera phones don’t back those photos up anywhere. And that’s just the photos! iCloud backup may help iPhone owners, but for Android users the choices are less straightforward, unless there’s specific backup software associate with your device.
Carbonite is also the maker of a respected backup system for computers, and offers both individual and enterprise solutions. Makers of a respected backup system for individual and enterprise users, subscribers to the primary Carbonite service also receive 24/7 access to all the files they have backed up with Carbonite.
Carbonite mobile also offers Android users some of the same features as iCloud’s “find my phone.” First off, there’s the ability to locate the phone on a map and force it to ring, even if it’s on vibrate or silent. For security, you can use the app the remotely lock the device with a pin number, or to just go all-out and wipe the contents of your phone. It’s worth it if your device is stolen, and less of a big deal if you’ve been backing up your data.
Right now, Carbonite’s mobile solution is free, presumably as a loss leader to get you interested in their home and business backup services. But given that you should be backing up anyway (remember all those articles we just linked to?) it’s not a bad idea to investigate whether Carbonite could be a good comprehensive backup solution for your needs.
Earlier this week we talked about how to back up your data using an external hard drive, so that your data will be safe even if your devices meet an untimely fate (like those of Wired writer Mat Honan). But cloud backup is important too, and as the major industry players push services like iCloud, Google Drive and Amazon Backup, it becomes more important than ever to make sure that remote data is secure.
It’s important to note that hackers got into Honan’s computer through what’s called “social engineering,” which describes exploiting the people involved in security rather than hardware or software. Specifically, they were able to find out the last four digits of his credit card from Amazon, and were able to use that, combined with his billing address retrieved from an online lookup, to have his Apple ID reset by Apple tech support. So, while password security is essential, it’s not enough. Read More
Ed Lucente is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at AT&T. You can find more blog content from Ed and other experts on emerging technologies on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.
Before the advent of cloud services, IT was managed ad hoc by small businesses (less than 250 PCs). This included tasks like on-premise server installations and maintenance, software upgrades, database administration, network management, and backups. Small businesses faced difficult IT challenges related to increasing operating expenses, unending complexity, and a lack of trained resources. IT management and costs distracted small businesses from focusing on building better solutions for customers. Fortunately though, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications have changed this malaise. Today, SaaS services are allowing small businesses to increase productivity and competitiveness, reduce IT costs, and develop solutions that create customer intimacy.
Productivity and Competitiveness
A survey commissioned by Microsoft showed that of the small businesses that use the cloud, 41% said they were able to employ more staff in roles that directly benefit sales or business growth, 39% invest in more product development or innovation, and 37% experienced improved agility and competitiveness. The cloud has made it easier for small businesses to scale their business to explore new markets, according to 42% of respondents. And 52% said that using the cloud enabled them to add new solutions and services that benefit their business more quickly and securely. Read More
Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud offering for all your Office documents. No matter where you are or what computer you’re on, you can access your documents via the web. It makes sense that Windows Phone devices can access Office 365 documents for mobile productivity even if you’re not on your “computer”.
Since most if not all corporations are using a combination of Microsoft applications, but are still issuing its employees BlackBerry phones; it just makes since that RIM is now offering mobile access to Office 365 services via its BlackBerry Business Cloud Services beta (in other words, BES for Office 365). Read More
For the last week I’ve been using a Livescibe Echo smartpen, and I flat-out love it. When Livescribe gave me their 8gb version to demo, I have to admit I was dubious at first; I spend a lot of time banging away on a keyboard, and I was pretty sure that the pen and the pad were going the way of the dodo. Man, was I wrong.
First, the basics: the Echo smartpen digitally captures your handwritten and audio notes, the combination of which is a ‘pencast’. Basically, when you tap the “record” area of the specially printed paper, everything that you write (and the sounds associated with it) are recorded. You can transfer files from the pen and share your recorded notes with others, and you can also tap any section of your notes and hear what was recorded when you were writing the note. Livescribe makes it incredibly easy to share your pencasts with others as it automatically hooks up to your email, Google Docs, Evernote, Facebook, Mobile (iPhone and iPad) and/or MyLivescribe (an online storage space for pencasts). Read More
We have talked about technical tools that are great for field professionalsmore than once. But today I am more excited than usual to cover a great new tool from our sponsor, AT&T. Everyone’s smart phone has a great new video camera mounted to the back, but when we want to share these videos with our friends, family, or in our case, a co-worker, we have to rely on YouTube or some video hosting service. By the time that you have uploaded it and send someone a message to look at it, the moment has passed. Well no more, to the cloud!
AT&T has announced the AT&T video capture apllication which enables businesses to stream live and pre-recorded videos from handsets in the field to co-workers in the office. The desktop gets a web-based monitoring interface, so you can watch videos in real-time from your desk, archive and organize these feeds, and communicate with users in the field about what you are seeing. All this real time interaction greatly increasing the speed and agility of your organization. Read More
Last week’s iPhone 4S release foreshadowed an iCloud release date this week. Predictions were found to be accurate, and we now know the iCloud for iOS will be released on Wednesday, Oct. 12.
While the official Apple press release states Oct. 12 as the iCloud release date, we have a preview of some of the features (the iCloud Beta download went live on Aug 2 so developers have been playing with these features for a couple of weeks now). So, what can this new iCloud product do for you? Read More
Last month, Microsoft finally unveiled its new cloud-based enterprise productivity and communications suite, Office 365. With more and more small and mid-sized businesses embracing the cloud-based potential of Google Apps, it’s not particularly surprising that Ballmer & the boys decided to fire their own volley. What is surprising, though, is just how robust, well-executed, and affordable the new Office 365 manages to be; for small businesses feeling encumbered by their current software systems, Office 365 might be the solution. Read More