It seems I haven’t covered this in quite awhile so I thought I’d give it a go again. After all, what’s more important than what we’re running on our mobile devices?
Ok here’s my current Top 10 list, drum roll please:
Beautiful Widgets Pro
I can’t talk about top ten without the number-one thing I look at every time I turn on the phone. Maybe it’s not what I’m after whenever I hit the power button, but it’s my favorite clock/calendar/weather widget for phones (not so on tablets – but that’s another post).
Even though BW has weather in the widget, I still count on a really good forecast tool, and WeatherBug has been my go-to weather app for years. Heck they even updated it in the past day with a nifty new UI. Clear, concise, fast, detailed, and with animated maps.
This is a fairly new addition in the last month. While I wasn’t a big Google Reader app user on my phone, I was a gigantic Google Reader user on the desktop. Now that we see some forward innovation on the RSS reader front, I’m happy to report that Feedly brings innovation in megaton quantities An absolutely gorgeous UI, fast, easy to navigate, and most important of all – they listen to their users and respond to suggestions, ideas, and criticize criticism very quickly (and constructively). Highly recommended!
Many people love Facebook, and I do to an extent as well. However, Google+ is where I’m spending most of my time reading and posting. It’s easy, it’s fast, and it does more than just tie into the rest of Google’s services. Since I’m a big Google user, it really does work better for me, and all the people that I interact with are more active there in any case.
Plume Premium for Twitter
While the default Twitter client is quite nice, it does fail at showing me the information from my streams that I want to see. With the demise of TweetDeck, I needed a Twitter client that could show my lists as well as the main stream and mentions. Plume does this very easily. I’m sure there may be others out there that do this as well, but the three other clients I tried just didn’t make it easy. Plume does.
I’ve been using Pulse for a couple years now, and it’s been evolving quite well along the way as an all around great news aggregation app. Recently purchased by LinkedIn, I see Pulse becoming a very important and powerful tool for reading and sharing news with peers in my industry. Great little app that keeps getting better.
Ah, Pocket… one of my favorite read-it-later tools. In fact, Pocket used to go by the name Read It Later, then figured out how to make this type of tool/service even better. I can save things to Pocket from my phone, my tablet, and just about any browser that exists. They make it super simple, and very lightweight. Ties into Android like it was made for it.
What can one say about Evernote? The all-around great note taking tool that runs on simply everything. It took me awhile to get into Evernote, mainly because I was a huge Microsoft OneNote user and, of course, they have no equivalent anywhere else (though there is a OneNote Android and iOS app now). Since I use Windows, Linux, and Android, I need apps that are on all these platforms. Evernote is this as well as one of the best note taking apps that exists.
LinkedIn on Android used to be a pain to use. This past year, they seem to have gotten serious about the user experience and really worked on their app (much as Facebook has on theirs). The latest rendition of LinkedIn on Android is a joy to use. Fast, intuitive, and easy to connect with or respond too my industry peers. LinkedIn is growing in importance for me as a consultant, and a quality app like this one helps immensely.
Finally we get around to something more mundane, like listening to music. Unlike most people, I never seemed to accumulate a lot of music. This was true of CDs as well back in the 90’s as I just didn’t have the money then to buy every CD I wanted. Somehow this translated to MP3s as well. In any case, subscription models seem to work well for me and I really enjoy Rhapsody on my phone and my Nexus 7 mounted in the dash of my truck (hey, I’m a true tech nerd). Easy to use, good UI, and the ability to cache anything in my library locally.
Last but not least is an under-sung hero of the phone and mobile movie scene, check out the Movie Box App. Well, that’s my list and I hope I’ve helped answer a question you may have had regarding any of these apps. If not, don’t hesitate to jump into the comments and ask me about them. Or simply let me know of a better app or ones that I should check out.
Now, before you drop down to the comments to blast me as a Microsoft basher, and that I have my head up my ass or that I don’t have a clue about how the world runs on Windows… hear me out.
PC Dominance Is So 1995
The problem with Microsoft today, and historically, is that they base much of their business around Windows. This worked really well over the last 30 years as the PC gained dominance in computing. Our current enterprise Information Technology industry’s growth and success is a testament to that.
In fact, my entire career of 25+ years in IT is built around and upon Microsoft technologies and how they’re implemented in large and small businesses. I depend on the quality and success of those products to make a living. Moreover, I like them – Windows included.
While Windows is still a strong OS, and will continue to be a significant player in the server and personal device space for years to come, the future is not about the local operating systems we use. It’s about what your “PC” can do.
As we continue down the path of cloud computing, Microsoft has huge potential to be so many things for many people. Their online productivity services are strong, and will likely outpace Google’s in the long run. As many of us are already invested in Microsoft Office, it’s not much of a leap to follow the progression to Office 365 and beyond.
What Microsoft needs to do is to embrace every platform. From Linux to Mac to Windows. From BlackBerry, to iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Firefox OS, and Ubuntu Touch. If there is an emerging or popular platform, Microsoft must be there. Period.
This includes browsers too, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera need to be first class citizens with IE as they develop and roll out all their products. Microsoft must be pervasive. Development tools as well need to adhere and participate in non-Microsoft standards. Why can’t there be a variant of Visual Studio that focuses on LAMP development, or Ruby, or many other new technologies instead of just C++, C#, etc…
I also see to divergent paths for Microsoft. One continues to be their “bread & butter” enterprise products and services. The other is consumer-focused, with an emphasis on providing secure services (without being arrogant like they are today with the ‘Scroogled’ campaign). With Microsoft’s background in enterprise, and meeting many strict compliance requirements for business, this can be an asset to many consumers that worry greatly about online security.
In any case, I do see a bright future for Microsoft, but only if they put less emphasis on the PC and more on providing the services that our growing data hungry, instant satisfaction world demands. The stake in the sand for Windows was important 25 years ago… not as much today.
It’s finally over, the window’s Start Menu is gone for good (though here’s at least one way to get it back) in the next version of Microsoft’s venerable desktop operating system: Windows 8.
Welcome to the era of the Windows Start Page.
Whether one likes it or not, the transition from the existing mouse-centric, task & productivity based computing model to the future of touch, location & action-based computing has begun. This isn’t for the faint of heart, even though it is quite nice if you give it an honest try.
The new version of Windows launched last week in New York, with a glitzy two-part launch. Windows 8, presented in morning, and the Microsoft Surface in the afternoon. Both mark a new beginning for the company people love to hate.
I’ve been running various developer and consumer preview versions for the past year, and have seen an enormous amount of innovation and improvement along the way. With the release of Windows 8 Pro last Thursday, I finally loaded up the official public version of the OS, and I have to say I’m greatly impressed.
Along with these Win8 Previews, I’ve been running a couple of Linux distros as well. Namely, Ubuntu 12.04 and Mint 13 Cinnamon for comparison’s sake. While I too like the traditional desktop metaphor for office productivity work, I do have to admit that the new Modern UI is growing on me. I also happen to think that if a company would take either Ubuntu or Mint 13 Cinnamon under their wing and focus on the last remaining rough spots of either OS that Linux on the desktop could have a real, true shot. But it would have already have to have been underway by now, so that Linux desktop takeover is still a pipe dream.
In any case, the software company that has the most to lose in the game is taking the greatest risk right now. Windows 8 is technically excellent, but will the drastic UI change make people think “Vista” and shun a truly great OS upgrade all because of the fear for change?
Either way, Microsoft will remain in the game, but whether Win8 will be perceived as a “winner” or a “looser” is purely in the hands of the consumer.
Getting free software updates on my mobile phone.
I’m so tickled with myself after getting something done yesterday that I can’t help but post about it. I finally was able to split out my Happiness series of posts from the main blog feed, populating them on their own page here on the blog.
Longtime readers will remember I started posting almost-daily on things that occurred to me at the time. Mostly these were a sentence or two on something that made my day, or made me smile, or something along those lines. I’ve not done many this year (or late last year) because of workload and such. I also started refraining from posting these nuggets because I didn’t want to dilute the message I am trying to share on the blog.
So moving these posts to their own page was what I wanted to do. What really made this possible, since I’m not a PHP/WordPress coding guru, was using the Headway Theme. This great skinnable theme framework let me slice and dice the post feed in multiple ways. One of them being I can exclude a category from the main feed, and put it on another page. I know, I know, there’s many ways to do this, but this was within my reach and more importantly… it worked! Thanks to the folks over at Headway Themes and their support staff for helping answer a couple of questions. Now I can publish those Happiness posts right to the main blog feed and not worry if their going to the right place.
Photo credit: h.koppdelaney’s