My most used iPhone and iPad Apps in 2013

December 31, 2013

Ok, it’s the end of another year (wow, 2013 went by fast!), so it’s time for another look at what apps I actually used during the year. There are a ton of apps available and new ones are coming out all the time. Honestly I think I have app exhaustion. I just upgraded my iPhone and during the upgrade I took advantage of it to not bring all the apps I had before over to the new phone. Simplify my life a little.

I won’t say these are the best apps or even the coolest apps out there, but they are the apps I use almost everyday. For the iPhone:

  • Evernote – Still my number one app. Evernote is a note taking app that sync’s notes between my laptop, iPhone and iPad. If you do not have it go get it now.
  • Google Search – love the voice search mode, much better than Siri
  • Googe Maps – was using the mobile browser version, but now they have a nice app
  • Google Authenticator – please tell me you have 2-factor security turned on for your gmail
  • Google Chrome – much better browser and it links up to my browser on my laptop
  • Waze – free navigation tool, but I can say on my last few trips during the holidays Waze had issues connecting to it’s routing server so I ended up just using Google Maps. I missed out on the police notifications, but at least Google Maps worked.
  • TripIt – can’t be beat when traveling
  • Kindle – don’t like reading on my phone, but works great on my iPad
  • Dropbox – online storage
  • Box – online storage
  • Skype – I have a remote team so Skype is essential for communication. With DC traffic I end up running late sometimes so I can just open up Skype and dial in (hands free of course) to the Skype call from my phone. I have learned it is better to have someone else start the call when I do this, just in case I drop the call.
  • Keynote, Pages, and Numbers – I hate working on my iPhone, but I can and have in a pinch. Keynote, Pages and Numbers work well and I love them on my iPad and MacBook Pro.
  • Twitter – cause sometimes you just have to share and Facebook keeps changing their privacy policies (I do not even have the Facebook app on my phone).
  • Reminders and Calendar – these are the applications that are native to iOS. I was using apps for this functionality, but Apple has caught up and the native apps they provide more than meet my needs now.
  • Rdio – I have all my music in the cloud (Amazon, Google and iTunes Match) but I still find Rdio handy for music I don’t own and I have been using it more than the iOS Music app lately.

And here are the apps I find I use the most on my iPad at work:

  • Keynote – Apple’s version of PowerPoint
  • Numbers – Apple’s version of Excel
  • Pages – Apple’s version of Word
  • Evernote – note taking app that sync’s notes between my laptop, iPhone and iPad. Again, go get it now if you don’t have it!
  • Skype – IM and web calls
  • Adobe Connect, joinme, and Fuze – online meetings for when we need to screen share
  • Google Search – love the voice search mode, much better than Siri
  • Google Chrome – much better browser and it links up to my browser on my laptop
  • Kindle – I love the feel of a real book, but this way I always have my ebooks with me
  • Dropbox – online storage
  • Box – online storage
  • Feedly – news reader
  • BBC News – for news of course

And on my Mac I find I use:

  • Evernote – sync’s note between all my laptops, my iPad, and iPhone (also works with droid)
  • Google Chrome – best browser out there still
  • Caffeine – let’s me turn off the auto sleep mode when I am giving a presentation
  • Window Tidy – allows me to have screens side by side in an easy quick way. Honestly I haven’t used it much this year…
  • Pocket – allows me to save articles I find to read later
  • Skype – with our distributed team at work we are on Skype all day every day for IM and calls
  • Box and Dropbox – again
  • ClamXav – antivirus for Mac
  • And I find I am actually using the native iOS Calendar and Reminder apps on my MacBook Pro now.
  • Oh, you are using Grab (in the utilities folder under applications)for capturing screen shots, right?

If the apps I use aren’t what you are looking for you can find the Apple Design Award winners from WWDC2013 at https://developer.apple.com/wwdc/events/awards/ (and I agree Letterpress is addictive).  And Apple has their best of 2013 up on the iTunes store now.

Hope the list is helpful. Happy New Year!


iPad is one of the safest computing devices you can use

July 4, 2013

I haven’t addressed this since 2010 so it is worth repeating again.  The iPad is one of the safest computing devices you can use, probably more secure than your PC, but you have to set it up properly.

First, the biggest security risk probably is physically losing the device. iPads are a great size and easy to carry everywhere, which also makes them easy to leave behind or forget. Luckily for us Apple gave us “Find My iPad.”  Under Settings-> iCloud->turn on Find My iPad.  You also have to have location services turned on, so go to Settings->Privacy-> then turn on Find My iPad (while you are there check to see what other apps are using location services).  And of course you have to have an iCloud account.  You should also enable Remote Wiping, which allows you to delete the data on a lost iPad (as long as it can connect to the Internet). But again to do this you will need an iCloud account which is configured in Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars -> iCloud.  This service also allows you to remotely send a signal to the device to play a sound and/or to display your phone number and a message that the device is lost and ask the person that finds it to call you.  And if all that fails, to wipe the device. It’s a great service!  Find my iPad is actually misnamed, because the same service works on iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs, basically all your Apple devices.

Also, all iPads ship with hardware encryption built-in, but you need to enable it. The simplest way to do that is to set a passcode on your iPad. As soon as you do, your data will be automatically encrypted. To enable a passcode, go to Settings -> General -> Passcode Lock and then enter a four-digit code twice. If you’d like to be extra-safe, on that same page, you can turn the Simple Passcode option to off then you can then use longer codes. You should also set Require Passcode for no more than 5 minutes and turn Erase Data on.  And please turn on Auto-Lock!

Note: if you have small kids that play with your iPad, you may not want to turn on Erase Data.  Erase Data will erase all the data on your iPad if the wrong passcode is entered 10 times. Something a little one just might do.

You can find more information at:

http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/it-center/security.html

and

http://images.apple.com/ipad/business/docs/iOS_6_Security_Sep12.pdf

 

And if you use wifi hotspots like those you find at Starbucks, McDonald’s, or at hotels / airports please use a personal VPN!

https://www.witopia.net/support/why/
http://netsecurity.about.com/od/perimetersecurity/a/Why-You-Need-A-Personal-Vpn-Service.htm

I personally like https://www.witopia.net  and the price point is good.  But you can find other options at:  http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/readerpicks/tp/The-Best-VPN-Service-Providers.htm

On my iPhone I have done all the above (again, please at least turn on a passcode and auto-lock) plus I have also turned OFF “Siri” and “Reply with Message” under “Allow Access When Locked” on my iPhone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links:

https://yourcto.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/security-on-your-ipad/

http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/it-center/security.html

http://images.apple.com/ipad/business/docs/iOS_6_Security_Sep12.pdf

https://www.witopia.net/support/why/

http://netsecurity.about.com/od/perimetersecurity/a/Why-You-Need-A-Personal-Vpn-Service.htm

http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/readerpicks/tp/The-Best-VPN-Service-Providers.htm


Traveling to Canada and getting real tired of the phone fees!

June 3, 2013

So, I love my job.  No really.  I LOVE MY JOB.  One of the perks of my job is I get to (ok, sometimes have to – it is a job after all) travel.  I like a little travel now and then.  I go to some cool places; Austin, Boston, Seattle, LA, and even Newport Beach was ok.  And I have been going to Toronto quite a bit lately now.  It’s a nice city. I always have a good time there, but I am scared to death to turn my phone on.  I hear the horror stories of people making a few calls and ending up with $200+ phone bills. Or forgetting to turn off cellular and getting a $4,000 bill for data.   So the last couple of times I’ve traveled to Toronto I call Verizon ahead of time and turn on the international plan so Canada is covered, but I am getting really tired of the fees Verizon Wireless charges for traveling outside of the US.  This last trip I didn’t even use my phone at all except when I was on wifi and the fee was still $25.

So, I am looking at my alternatives.  Even though we are trading partners and some people say Canada is the 51st State up north, I can not find a US cell provider that offers reasonable coverage and rates in the US and Canada.  So do I buy a cheap unlocked phone and buy a SIM card when I am up there next?  I did that years ago with an old iPhone 3. I just read about Truphone’s Tru SIM international cards, but it’s pretty easy and probably cheaper to just buy a cheap SIM card once I get to where I am going.

Some guys that use to work for me bought an unlocked mifi in Singapore and then got a local SIM card so they could not only get their phones on wifi, but it also worked for their laptops.  And my iPad doesn’t get cellular service while I am in Canada either, so maybe that would be nice. Seems easier than the phone, but I foresee technical issues.

Honestly, I am getting tired of paying my standard Verizon Wireless bill here in the US and then also paying $20 a month for my iPad.  So is there an alternative mifi I can use in the US and in Canada (even better if it works in Europe too)?  I have looked at Karma and FreedomPop.  I love Karma’s pay for what you use model.  And they both seem very reasonable (much much cheaper than Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or T-mobile) and both have pretty good coverage in the DC area.  But neither work very well in Maine (or any other less populated area) and neither has coverage at all anywhere in Canada (or Europe).  So I do not see that route fixing my entire problem, at least until they expand their coverage significantly.

It won’t help me in the States, but if I plan ahead I could rent a XCom Global International mifi Hotspot.  But at almost $18 a day (plus you pay for shipping) that will quickly turn out to be more than I have been paying Verizon Wireless.

So, I am looking at Boingo.  Boingo looks like a win win – 1) it solves my $20 per month iPad fee from Verizon and 2) I’d be able to get online while in Toronto (and they say most of Europe too).  And I’d save money!  For Boingo’s mobile only plan, it’s just $8 a month for two devices.   From looking at their map they seem to have decent coverage in the DC area.  And I checked Austin, Boston, LA, and Seattle seem to have good coverage too.  And it looks like they have saturated the area around the University of Toronto, so I’d get excellent coverage there too.  Anyone have any hands-on experience with Boingo?  Should I ditch my iPad’s Verizon wireless plan and go Boingo instead?  It looks like I’d still get coverage here in DC and everywhere else I travel (including Toronto) and save $12 a month to boot.   I’d love to hear from people subscribing (or that use to subscribe) to Boingo about their experience.


My most used iPhone and iPad Apps in 2012

December 30, 2012

I won’t say these are the best apps or even the coolest apps out there, but they are the apps I use almost everyday. I have bought many apps that just didn’t pan out for one reason or the other, but here are the ones I find I actually use. For the iPhone:

  • Evernote – note taking app that sync’s notes between my laptop, iPhone and iPad
  • OmniFocus – awesome todo list app that sync’s with my Mac, iPhone and iPad
  • Google Search – love the voice search mode, much better than Siri
  • Googe Maps – was using the mobile browser version, but now they have a nice app
  • Google Authenticator – please tell me you have 2-factor security turned on for your gmail
  • Google Chrome – much better browser and it links up to my browser on my laptop
  • Waze – wish I had found this earlier – awesome navigation tool and it’s free!
  • TripIt – can’t be beat when traveling
  • Pocket – syncs up all the reading I should be doing between my Mac, iPhone and iPad
  • Kindle – don’t like reading on my phone, but works great on my iPad
  • Dropbox – online storage
  • Box – online storage
  • Just downloaded Dragon so I can’t say much about it yet…

And here are the apps I find I use the most on my iPad at work:

  • Keynote – Apple’s version of PowerPoint
  • Numbers – Apple’s version of Excel
  • Pages – Apple’s version of Word
  • Mindjet – best mind mapping app I have found so far and I have tried a few now and it syncs back to my Mac
  • Evernote – note taking app that sync’s notes between my laptop, iPhone and iPad
  • OmniFocus – awesome todo list app that sync’s with my Mac
  • Skype – IM and web calls
  • Adobe Connect – online meetings (we use adobe connect at work for our online meetings often when we need to screen share)
  • Google Search – love the voice search mode, much better than Siri
  • Google Chrome – much better browser and it links up to my browser on my laptop
  • Kindle – I love the feel of a real book, but this way I always have my ebooks with me
  • Dropbox – online storage
  • Box – online storage

And on my Mac I find I use:

  • Evernote – sync’s note between all my laptops, my iPad, and iPhone (also works with droid)
  • Mindjet – again the best mind mapping software I have found so far
  • Caffeine – let’s me turn off the auto sleep mode when I am giving a presentation
  • Window Tidy – allows me to have screens side by side in an easy quick way
  • Pocket – allows me to save articles I find to read later
  • Skype – with our distributed team at work we are on Skype all day every day for IM and calls
  • ClamXav – antivirus for Mac

Hope the list is helpful. Happy New Year!


BYOD in the Enterprise

March 13, 2012
Bring your own device (or BYOD) is real and is happening now in most enterprises. Employees today have their smart phones and are bringing iPads and other tablets to work already. It’s not if, it’s not when, it’s now. What are you doing to protect your network and your company data?
The Pew Internet Project recently reported that ownership of tablets among U.S. adults nearly doubled between mid-December 2011 and early January from 10 percent to 19 percent. According to a Cisco poll of 1,500 decision-making IT workers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain, conducted in late 2011, one tablet is requested for every three smartphones. Workers in the United States and France are asking for them the most at 21 percent. In addition, 64 percent of employees in the United States polled said they were bringing in devices without consent. So the devices are in your enterprise, with or without your knowledge and consent. Are your networks ready? Do you have the correct security policies in place?

With company issued laptops, you can enforce login screens, passwords, encryption and back ups. I personally always turn on the security features available to me on my devices, but how many of those un-authorized devices lack even a basic login screen when the smart phone or tablet is turned on? And the new iPad is just going to make it worse. The iPad2 was already a good device for doing presentation for a road warrior tired of lugging around their laptop (and it looks cooler too), but now the new iPad has an even better display and better graphics. Employees lose laptops. It is pretty common. How much easier is it to lose an iPad? Or get it stolen? What information is on that device? How much company confidential data is now loose in the wild? What data is in their email? What spreadsheets do they have? And confidential presentations?

If you don’t have policies and procedures in place already you are behind… BYOD is in your enterprise already.


Nook Tablet vs Kindle Fire vs iPad2 vs ?

March 13, 2012
It’s cyber Monday, so right about now people are getting tired of work and looking to waste some time till they can escape at 5PM. Time to go shopping on-line, right?  And one of the most popular electronic gifts this year is going to be tablets – either souped up e-readers like the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire, or full on tablets.  What to buy? It’s a crowed field with over 9 options out there by my count at multiple price points and with a range of features.

 

If you are mainly reading, playing on facebook, and checking a little email, from what I have seen first hand and read the Nook Tablet ($250) is the way to go.  I’ve heard apps seem to work better on the Nook also, even though they seem to have less apps then the Fire.   If you want music and movies (or if you are a Amazon Prime member) then the Kindle Fire ($199) is probably for you.  And other than those two nothing else in the sub-$499 price range is worth buying.  I wouldn’t waste my money for anything else but the Nook Tablet or the Fire at the low end.

 

But if you can pop $499 then no one has ever hated the iPad2.  Except… I personally don’t like reading on it as well as my old Kindle.  The iPad screen has too much glare for me and it’s just too big for reading, serious reading.  Other than that I love the iPad2.

 

The Droid tablets are fine – I honestly like my Galaxy Tab.  But, so far, the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 is really the only serious also ran to the iPad2.  The Motorola Xoom has some great features.  And there are multiple other also rans out there but none of them has much market share nor features that stand out.  After a year of comparing, I have to say, if you are looking for a tablet then get the one everyone else is copying – just buy an iPad2.

 

Does that help at all?

iPad2 vs what? Part 2 (I might have an answer!)

March 13, 2012

I think I have finally figured out the competition to the iPad 2.  It’s the MacBook Air!  No, seriously, the Air.

 

I have been able to use a 13 inch Apple MacBook Air at work for the last couple of weeks and I find I rarely pick up my Samsung Galaxy Tab at work now.  The Galaxy Tab is still great while I am sitting waiting on for my daughter or for surfing while watching TV (normally the iPad2 is being used by someone too, I rarely get to touch it).  But I haven’t use the Galaxy Tab for data capture or creation since I started using the Air.  The Galaxy Tab, much like the Apple iPad 2, is great for consuming content, but honestly still has some serious flaws in creating content.  The Air doesn’t have those limitations. I have a full screen and a full size keyboard.  It’s fast and powerful with a huge hard drive and 4GB of memory. All the applications that run on my MacBook Pro seem to run just fine on the Air. So I gave up a DVD/CD slot, which, honestly, I rare use anymore anyway.  It’s like when we lost the 3.5 inch floppy drive, who misses that anymore? Even the price points aren’t that too far off between the two devices. And I still have iTunes, Kindle, Evernote and most of the apps I use on my Galaxy Tab or iPad2.  I didn’t loose anything. The killer device against the iPad 2 is the MacBook Air!

 

Work has settled on the 13 inch Air as the best compromise of power vs. form.  And I have to say the screen is great (1440 x 900) and I love how long the battery lasts. And it’s fast, wake from sleep is instant and boot time is less than 15 seconds.  It is so thin (0.11 to 0.68 inch thick, it tapers – thin in front, thicker in the back) and weights in at only 2.9 pounds.  But, I think, if I were to buy an Air for my own personal use, I’d go for the smaller 11 inch.  I know the battery doesn’t last as long and the screen would be smaller, but the 11 inch form factor would make it a direct competitor to the iPad2 for me. And a much more capable competitor!

 

I am still interested in seeing what “iPad killers” finally roll out this year.  Samsung always does a good job with their consumer devices and LG should come out strong. The RIM Playbook will be a non-starter, I think everyone knows it’s dead on arrival. Dell is boring, even for business users.  The HTC Flyer seems to be over priced and very similar to the old (Oct 2010) Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Xoom could be competitive, if they had flash and 4G already and lowered the price $100 to $200.  A few other players (Hello HP / Palm!) are talking about cool stuff, but I haven’t seen anything real that I can touch yet. So, right now, the only competition Apple has is…  Apple!  Check out the MacBook Air, if you produce content, or are a creator (Developer), then it could turn out to be a better solution for you than the iPad 2.


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