Technology to Make You a Mobile Wizard
Mobile technology still has that mystique of the revolution about it. Every flagship phone review is preceded by months of speculation and followed by weeks of breathless reviews. What's really going on is more of an evolution, with small increases in speed and memory. The screens have already gone beyond high definition (1080p), so we've hit the point of diminishing returns in the phones themselves.
The real revolution has been occurring in the services we can access with our phones. Here are 2 levels of services, Apprentice and Master, to make you a mobile wizard, complete with a 3rd surprise category for some pre-Christmas fun. The only restriction is that every choice can be run on lots of different operating systems, so no Windows/Mac/Android/iOS exclusives here.
There are lots of alternative email apps out there, but there's little reason to move beyond the default app for your device. For every cool new feature you might never use in a 3rd party app, you'll find a day to day feature compromised. Let's move on.
Dropbox is a file hosting service, enabling you to store files on Dropbox servers. You can use it to access those files wherever you are and whatever device you're using. as Dropbox is as 'platform neutral' as they come. You get 2 GB worth of storage for free and yes, there are services that offer more storage, but Dropbox is integrated with over 300,000 apps. You can also set-up folders, password protect them, and grant access to people you select, making it an easy way to share work or personal files.
OpenOffice has long been touted as a free alternative to Microsoft Office. It isn't a bargain basement option either. No, it might not have all the bells and whistles of MS Office, but how many people really need them? The city of Udine in Italy decided that it didn't, tested OpenOffice, and is making the switch to save the city 360,000 Euros per year! Given that it can run on Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS, as well as many others, it's well worth considering.
Also right up there in the ubiquity stakes is PayPal. It's a method of paying for things online that won't have you fishing around for your debit or credit card. Instead, you can register a card or bank account in PayPal and the money will be drawn through PayPal. Put simply, only PayPal will have your card details, not that internet company you've never heard of. If you're self-employed, it's a stable way of creating invoices which you can send to clients. Once they've paid, you'll be able to withdraw that money from PayPal to the relevant bank account. There are fees, of course, so check those before you register, but PayPal can be accessed via a browser and has dedicated apps on Android, iOS, and more. Though it was bought by eBay in 2002, PayPal is being spun-off next year.
I'm sure you already know how popular Twitter and Facebook are. Well, add to that Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and more. Now imagine being on multiple forms of social media (maybe you don't have to imagine!) and/or having multiple accounts on each one. How are you feeling now about trying to keep up with them all, about having to switch apps to go from one to the next? Hootsuite can bring all your social media under one app or onto one site. You register each social media account with them (up to 3 social media accounts with the free version) and away you go. It sounds simple, but Hootsuite is under the 'Master' category for a very good reason: it can do a lot more, more than I could comfortably describe here. It's available via web browser for PCs, and there are apps for both Android and iOS.
Even if you just blog using simpler platforms, you'll have heard of WordPress, as it's used by an estimated 23.3% of websites! Blogging sounds like a simple thing, but as with Hootsuite, there's a lot more going on than you might think. If you want to learn how to use WordPress, it's well worth starting with a site you can experiment with. In fact, the last thing you should do is dive in the deep end and shift critical sites or work over to WordPress. Paddle in the shallow end first and don't be too proud to go to WordPress Lessons to learn more. You can use WordPress via a browser of course and there are apps for both Android and iOS. The downside is that the apps on both the Google and Apple operating systems have decidedly mixed reviews. I haven't had any issues in my experiments with the Android version, but again, paddle in the shallow end first.
Named after the famous Terry Pratchett character, who was to magic what dubstep is to music, this is a chance to have some fun at technology's expense. My first winner of the Rincewind award for technology is...
Nothing has been quite so heralded in technology as Google's wearable technology. Whatever its technological capabilities, it look awful and no amount of photos with oh-so-cool models was going to change that. It also raises an uncomfortable social issue: is that person making eye-contact or taking an illicit photo? Over the year, Google Glass has gone from being the future to being a LaserDisc. Apparently, Google Glass 2 is in development (no surprise), but is this expensive and ugly foray into wearable technology going anywhere?
Cast the right spell
These apps will all help you keep productive as you get mobile, but it's worth remembering that smartphones have limitations. They're great for run-of-the-mill work, but if you need to be getting on with some serious content creation, or a lot of writing, then you're probably using the wrong tool (or spell) for the job. You don't blame the tools if you try to hammer in a nail with a screwdriver though!
You also need to be careful with your time management. Social media is something it's easy to get distracted by, so bringing it all under one roof with Hootsuite could be a risk, so I'd suggest developing a fixed schedule for its use. You can use it to schedule tweets, so unless you work in social media, you've probably got better things to be doing than sitting there hitting 'refresh' all day!
What are you go-to services in the mobile world? Please tell me all about them in the comments.