New iPod Touch – Business Productivity Tool?

One of the many announcements during this week’s Apple event was the fact that the popular iPod Touch will now come in white, will get the iOS 5 platform, and the price has been reduced to $199 for the entry-level 8 GB version.

Now that sounds all well and dandy for the parent looking to get a gift for their tween… they can download apps that will let them txt message with their friends who are too young to have a full-blown smartphone. Said tween will also be able to play games, listen to music and movies, etc. without destroying their family’s wireless minutes. All in all, at $199 the iPod touch is a great gift, and is now a better value than ever.

But allow me to present another option for the iPod Touch – it can double as an outstanding mobile business productivity device.  That’s right, with the help of the 400,00 titles strong App Store, you can turn a “fun and games” device into a business expense. Read More

Apple ditches MobileMe, introduces iCloud at exciting price point: free

Although Apple’s cloud services have been rumored for years, no real information has surfaced before today about exactly what to expect. But at their Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) today, Apple announced that they’re going cloud in a big way: starting this fall, MoibleMe (a paid service to synchronize your mail, contacts, and calendar) will be replaced by a new, free service called iCloud.

What is iCloud? At a basic level, it’s a replacement for all of the services that MobileMe used to cover: iCloud provides free synchronization for your Mail, Calendars and Contacts through new applications that push your updates to any iOS devices you may own, including the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Similarly, App Store and iBookstore purchases are now automatically synchronized between multiple devices. What does that mean for you? Hassle-free work from the field, with the same calendar and mail set-up on your phone or tablet (provided those phones and tablets are the iPhone and iPad!)

The real win for small business users comes in the form of document sync, however. Last week, Apple announced that their iWork suite of apps, including Pages, Numbers and Keynote, we’re being ported to work not just on the iPad but also the iPhone and iPod touch. These apps, for those who aren’t familiar, are Apple’s answers to Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, respectively.

Today Apple is announcing that their iWork suite of apps will allow document sync through their iCloud service, with 5GB free storage for documents. While 5GB isn’t a huge amount of storage for music or pictures, it translates into thousands of documents sync’d seamlessly across your devices. For users on the go, this may finally make Apple’s iWork suite of software a viable alternative to Microsoft’s suite of desktop software or even Google Documents.

A few other features of note: Apple is also announcing iBackup, a feature that securely backs up your iOS devices over Wi-Fi whenever you charge your devices. Not only are your apps, books, and music backed up, but also your device settings. This should make things easier for users upgrading from the iPad to the iPad 2, or from the iPhone 4 to whatever comes next from Apple. As well, it should relieve some stress from users worried about having to connect their iPad or iPhone to their computer via USB every time they want to manually backup their devices.

Other things like photo sync and iTunes in the cloud offer services to sync your photographs and music between devices, and you can read the full details in Apple’s press release.

Improving Apple

I love Apple products. There, I said it. However, as comes with the fanboy territory, many of us have started to notice small things that we would change about our favorite iOS features.  Over at Apple Matters there’s an article about just this – in particular, how certain apps for your iOS devices can be replaced with something better.  The highlights:

Their list starts with Instacast, which does a better job of managing and finding podcasts than searching through the iTunes Music Store on your iPhone.  Podcasts represent a surprising share of iTunes traffic.  I can see why when I look at the really great ones like The Complete Guide to Everything, Laughing Historically, and the New Yorker Fiction Podcast. If you don’t have a favorite, you should definitely go exploring.  Similar to Instacast, although it is not on the list at Apple Matters, Stitcher is quickly becoming the most popular way to manage podcasts among my friends.

Next comes PhotoSync, which wirelessly syncs your photos between your iOS device and computer. If it only synced everything (not just photos), this would be a real game-changer.  Stil,l if your mobile life involves a lot of photo management this could really help you out.

Finally, they list Stash Pro, an image management application. It’s more expensive than the other apps we’ve discussed at $3.99, but it does allow you to download images directly from websites. Plus, you can add keywords, titles and ratings to images for superior organization of large sets.

I’d be amiss if I left my latest favorite Apple hack out of this post. It doesn’t come from the list over at Apple Matters, and it isn’t a software hack: it’s Applecores.  Pictured with this post is the cool, affordable little solution to my biggest Apple beef: tangled headphone cords.  You all know the story- you neatly wound your headphones and put them in your pocket, only to later you pull them out and boom! A bird’s nest of tangles and knots!  Well, no more.  Applecore offers their simple and effective solution for the Apple cord tangle for only a few bucks- a bargain, in my opinion, to be freed from the daily headphone de-tangle.

Relieve Stress with the Office Harmony App

Some of the reasons behind starting a small business (besides making money) is to get out of the day-to-day grind, and to have more control over your schedule and your life. Fact of the matter is, most people end up working HARDER at their own business than they ever did punching a clock at ACME, Incorporated. Working harder at a small business, especially in the beginning can be due to wearing all the hats of the business. From secretary administrative assistant to IT, to customer service, to marketing, to finance – You do it all!

Sometimes trying to juggle all of your business tasks can leave you a little stressed. Well, if you’re a fan of mobile apps and your day-to-day business tasks get the best of you from time to time…there’s an app for that too! The app is called Office Harmony and its purpose is to help you understand and lower your stress.

From stress assessment questions that help you recognize and understand where your stress is specifically coming from, to office yoga videos that give you quick and easy yoga techniques that can be done at your desk, to soothing meditation exercises that help your relax your mind, to weekly stress tips that help you remember to cool out; this app has it all!

The app includes images of desk yoga exercises, and other exercises you can do without exerting any sweat (because nobody likes yellow arm pits on your nice shirt/blouse during your presentation), and also actual videos of exercises, all without being connected to the internet. That means you don’t have to worry about your mobile network messing with zen-like focus.

So relax, take and deep breath, and just step away for a second if your small business tasks get to be too overwhelming. If that doesn’t work, download the Office Harmony app for $1.99 for your iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.