E L S U A ~ A KM Blog Thinking Outside The Inbox by Luis Suarez

Tools and Gadgets

My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #5

Gran Canaria - Playa del Inglés Beach


Once again, it’s that time of the week where we dive into the My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week series and recommend further along the next round of apps I think would be worth while exploring some more for iOS devices. This blog entry is going to be one about discovery, because two of the recommended apps I will be sharing across will be about two new ones I discovered myself earlier on this week and that they got me hooked up from day one since I started using them. So that should be interesting and perhaps worth while checking out for you folks as well, who knows… At the same time I have been thinking it is probably a good idea to include some keywords about where those apps would fit in, so that you would have an opportunity to figure out, earlier on in the post, what you may be able to expect. So in this week’s Top 5 iOS Apps we have got task management, process automation, podcasting and photography. 

Thus, without much further ado here are My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #5

  • Trello: There are a number of different task management apps I have been using over the course of the years. Some of them come and go. And others stick around for a while, even in between upgrading devices, and while I realise I will be talking about my favourite ones over the course of time, the one I’m currently using and enjoying quite a bit is Trello. There are a lot of things to like about this particular app to manage yours tasks, but the ones I enjoy the most are the reaffirmation that completing and managing tasks can well be a visually appealing activity to the point where it will hook you up from day one and you won’t be able to escape it that easily.

    It integrates fully with a whole bunch of third party apps as well, which is a really nice capability to have, but the one that makes it even worth while on its own is the integration with Slack. It’s just gorgeous and worth while trying in case you may not have just yet. And, finally, the other one thing I really like about it is how flexible it is to the point where you can hack it to achieve almost everything you would want to with it, even to the point of organising your entire life! So when using Trello the only limit I can think of is just your imagination and how you put it to work getting the creative you out of the box. In terms of flexibility very very few apps are just as good as Trello is. 

  • Workflow: Now, I should state at this point in time that I am not very much in favour of automation per se, but you know there are times when you have got a number of different repetitive tasks or processes you need to take care of while in your iOS devices and knowing there is a superb option out there that could help out tremendously in this regard is a huge bonus. Well, that app is Workflow.

    As I keep relying more and more on working mobile either with my iPhone or iPad Pro, I have developed the habit of using Workflow every time I repeat an action or a process three times, at least. That would confirm it is regular enough for me to want to automate it and save myself some time so I could do some other things. If you would want to know how the app works and how you, too, could build up those automated workflows, take a look into this short YouTube tutorial that explains how you can get things started and from there onwards let the play begin!

  • Overcast: You know, there are tons of people who keep saying that podcasting is back, and with a vengeance, and I, actually, think they may well be right, because this year alone I’m listening to more podcasting shows than in any other previous years. I listen to them when I exercise first thing in the morning, during work breaks, or at the end of the evening when things start to quiet down a fair bit. And I am loving it, more than anything else because of the app I’m currently using that has got me totally hooked up. It’s Overcast.

    It’s got a beautiful design, the ability to sync podcasts in between devices and a really nice user interface that makes it extremely friendly to use. Too easy, perhaps, even. Oh, and I can listen to podcasting episodes streaming them out, or downloading them ahead of time before I go offline for an extended period of time, like when on a plane, which makes the perfect combination, if you ask me. Yes, I realise most podcasting applications on the desktop do all of this already and, maybe, plenty more, but, like I said, I’m mostly on iOS devices nowadays, so having Overcast as my podcasting app is just all I need heh

  • Polarr: Just the other day I was counting the number of different apps I’m currently using for various different purposes to process, edit, modify and enhance photos I take with my iPhone 6S Plus and it’s well over a dozen of them at the moment! Ouchie! Yes, I know, far too many! Well, that’s what it takes to go out there and start exploring all of the options, play some more and see what sticks around that fits one’s needs. I got an entire folder with just photography related apps and the list keeps growing on and on and on. So you can expect to see, in upcoming blog posts, an additional number of recommended apps around photography and how I get to tweak photos with them.

    However, for this blog post, I’m going to start sharing across a recommendation for the one app I bumped into this week and which I have really enjoyed using so far, specially, on the iPad Pro. It’s called Polarr. It’s free, although if you would want to make use of an extensive list of really cool, fancy, filters and advanced capabilities you could buy those packages separately, but it’s totally worth it. The features and possibilities you have to tweak photos from applying filters, shades, colour, shapes, tilting, saturation, contrast, etc. etc. are just phenomenal, but what I like the most about the app is how easy it is to use and learn quickly about tweaking those photos, when, with other apps, a number of YouTube video tutorials were required by yours truly to make sense of some of their features. With Polarr, no need to, unless you are into the pro editing field. But if you are looking for an app easy enough to use to get some spectacular results, it’s worth while a try, for sure! And yes, no worries, in upcoming blog entries I will share some other apps I use when handling photos. Polarr itself is not the only one…   

  • The Roll: And, finally, off we go with the last recommendation for this week’s post. And it’s another photography related app I discovered earlier on this week as well and that I’m currently loving it, because it comes to fill in a void that even iOS 10 hasn’t been able to address to the extent I would have wanted it. And I will give you an example of what I mean … The Roll is a free app that allows you ‘automatically organise your camera roll’ and in a very effective manner if I may add. It will eventually apply some AI in order to categorise the photos from your camera roll in such a way that would make you go WOW! From Your Best Photos This Week, to Your Best Photos, it will just group all of your photos according to different group names which you can access through folders and within a matter of seconds, BANG!, you can find all of the photos in your iOS devices associated with one another where it may well be fit, according to those initial groupings. Like I said, just WOW!!

    But, don’t worry, there is even more! Another really really interesting and pretty neat capability is that one where from the groups of pictures that it may put together it will tell you which one would rank the highest in terms of aesthetics that would then entice you perhaps to share it across in different media tools. Very much worth while a look, I tell you. If you are crazy about taking all sorts of photos across the board and then try to make some sense of them flawlessly I can strongly recommend you take a look into The Roll, because something tells me you will like it!

And that’s it! That’s the list of My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week for this week that I think would be worth while having a look into and see if they can make it into any of your iOS devices as well and next week there will be some more. Again, trying to keep a balance between work related apps and for personal use ones, hoping there may well be something out there for everyone to play with. Hope you enjoy them just as much as I do and get ready for next week’s!

Ohhh, and, again, if you have got an app you would want to recommend and that would be worth while trying it out, let me know, as I am always very keen on discovering new cool apps that can help me work more effectively while getting the most out of these iOS devices. Remember, after all, 2016 is the year I, finally, went mobile

(About time, too!)

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My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #4

Gran Canaria - Degollada de las Yeguas in the winter


One of the things I am finding really interesting from the My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week series of blog posts is the fact that it’s an exercise that’s helping me really evaluate how I eventually make use of either my iPhone or iPad, whether for personal, private use or whether for work, and I must admit that at this point in time there is just such a blend between the two types of apps that I no longer make a distinction for neither of them. To me, they are just apps with a job in mind to execute, and do well, and then move on to the next thing. And it’s intriguing, a fair bit, because when I was a salaried employee it wasn’t like that. I had a good number of folders, in each device, that would help me classify and organise the apps accordingly as to which ones were related to work or not. I am not too sure whether, somewhere along the way, I lost that urge to keep everything organised to the extenuation or, on the other hand, whether my freelance life has taken over helping me understand that one and the other are pretty much the same thing: me as a knowledge (Web 2.0) worker trying to remain productive AND effective while on the move!

Thus, here we go, once again, with the next blog entry in the series sharing along the different apps I enjoy making heavy use of from either device, whether iPhone or iPad. As you will be able to see for this week, there is a little bit of a blend between work and personal use related apps, so I’m hoping there will be a bit of everything for everyone. As usual, unless it’s specified otherwise, the app would work both in iPhone and iPad, so without much further ado here are My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #4

  • Box: Yes, I know there are a bunch of file sharing applications and services out there with Dropbox, perhaps, being one of the most popular ones. Alas, for me, Box is the one that pretty much hits the nail on the head and for a good couple of reasons. As a starting point, I have got two different accounts making up to 60GB of disk space, which suffices my needs pretty well without having upgraded just yet and, secondly, it’s incredibly pervasive helping me work more effectively with my documents regardless of which device I may be using, whether iPad, iPhone or MacBook Air.

    Eventually, all of my files and documents are in sync, so whenever I’m on the move I know where to find that particular document for that specific client presentation and right at my fingertips. It can’t get any better than that. Oh, hang on, it does! I love how Box keeps integrating with other third part apps, specially, Enterprise Social Networking tools which makes it extremely easy for everyone to work with documents while inside the ESNs themselves. It’s like an extension of the capabilities already offered but with a better opportunity of making sense of the documents you are currently working on, because that’s the only thing you can do with Box, effective social file sharing.

  • Paper: With my iPad Pro and my Apple Pencil Paper is, by far, the single app I enjoy the most for a good number of different productivity related activities, going from Note Taking (Although I use a few other apps in this realm that I will be talking about over the course of time), to sketching, to doodling or just simply try to get out some of my crazy ideas into whatever the visual that comes along, if at all. It’s just such an amazing app that even I, someone who doesn’t even have a single skill for drawing anything, can get something done with it! With a bit of time, and tons of practice, it helps you get better and better by the day to the point where whenever I have got those idle moments where I’d want to jot down something Paper is the app I am, almost always, ending up in. But then again, upon watching in YouTube a number of different tutorials about how to make the most out of it, I can only realise I’m just getting started, but I’m loving it! Highly recommended if you would want to venture into the world of doodling and sketching with a superior user experience! 
  • MindNode: And talking about love, I love MindMapping, did I tell you about that before? I think I have been using MindMapping apps for over 10 years, if not longer, and during the course of that time I may have used several dozens of applications in a good number of computing devices, yet, the one single app I keep coming back to is MindNode. It’s, by far, one of my favourite MindMapping apps and while I know I will be talking about a few others over the course of time that may well be worth while checking out, the one I’d recommend using nowadays first would be this one. Most people may not know this, but I usually get to prepare my initial sketches for presentations in MindMaps where I get to develop different ideas, connect them, word them, and then start looking for some kind of order and visuals to go along with them. They are incredibly powerful and when thinking about writing down different ideas or list items there is no better way to make sense out of them all than using a MindMap. It’s one of those essential productivity apps I would definitely recommend everyone to take a look, even for personal use! 
  • CityMapper [iPhone Only]: Whenever I get to travel to a major city (They are currently listing over 200 of them at the moment!, if I recall correctly) and I happen to be lucky enough to be connected either via mobile data or WiFi, CityMapper is one of the main traveling & map apps I use on a regular basis, specially, when I may need to resort to public transport to get out and about in the city. It’s one of the most comprehensive and user friendly traveling apps I have used in years and one that becomes part of the survival kit when going to a major city in order to avoid getting lost. Of course, not all cities are available just yet, but you can either vote for your own city or for other potential candidates which means it keeps getting updated on a regular basis with more city maps. But, again, if you are going to a major city some time soon, and are connected to the Internet via your mobile phone, CityMapper is one huge assistant to help you not get lost in the process! It’s saved me a few times already in the last couple of years and just can’t take it off my iPhone at the moment. 
  • Spotify: I know there are tons of live streaming music services out there, going from Google Play, to Tidal, to SoundCloud or even Apple Music, but the one I keep coming back over and over again has always been Spotify. You see? There are a lot of things I quite like about Spotify itself, including as well the wonderfully inspiring capability of pretty much nailing it in terms of helping you build the playlists you know you’re going to enjoy the most (Discover Weekly, Release Radar and the Daily Mixes are some of my favourites). There are also a lot of things you can stream via Spotify that you may not even have heard about in the past to make it even more useful. It even claims that it knows you better than yourself. But the main reason why I keep coming back to Spotify to livestream music, or listen to it offline, is because the overall user experience is far superior, in all devices, to everything else, helping you focus on what you just want to focus on, i.e. listening to some really good music, versus trying to figure out how the app really works.

    And to get all of what you get for the monthly prize of being a premium user, it’s just too tough to beat it. To the point where I eventually resisted the temptation of going elsewhere, as most folks may have done already, and decided to stick around with it. A few months later, still no regrets and loving it as if it was the very first day of listening to unlimited music in your own terms, at your own pace, while enjoying all the benefits. Plus plenty more!

And that’s it! That’s the next round of My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week. Hope everyone gets to enjoy them and, like I have said in previous blog posts, if there is an app you would want to suggest, recommend I try out, let me know in the comments and I’ll be more than happy to and then report back on how I got along with it and whether it’ll be making it for good in my iOS devices over time. Who knows, there may well be a great chance for that to happen, because you never know what’s going to enhance your own productivity or even make you enjoy your mobile devices just a little tiny bit more!

That’s how we roll, right? 

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My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #3

Barcelona - View from Montjuic's Castle

Last week I didn’t have much of a chance to put together another blog post from the My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week series, as I was away on a short holiday break to Barcelona, Spain. This time around I decided to keep a low profile, on purpose, in the different media tools I use more or less on a regular basis and remain, for the vast majority of the time, disconnected from the online world. Phew! That surely was a liberating experience, I tell you. I very much enjoyed every single minute of it more than anything else because it was, most probably, the first time in a couple of years I went in the dark without saying anything. I can highly recommend it, for sure!, as the end-result can be quite intriguing and refreshing altogether. Now, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t using my iPhone, nor my iPad Pro, of course, I was still using them more often than not, as I still needed to go out and about, get round different places, get together with real life friends and what not. I suppose that for next time around I will do a bit of an experiment leaving them both behind and see how that would fair along. But that would be the subject for another blog post at some point in time…

Now that I am back home here I am, once more, sharing along the next round of Apps hoping you may find some of them useful as well. Oh, and watch out for a little gift I will be sharing along for one of them at the end of this post…

Thus, without much further ado, here are My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #3. Oh, and remember, unless I specify it accordingly, all of these apps are universal in iOS, whether for iPhone or iPad, so you can make your pick as you may see fit:

  • CityMaps2Go: Before I was going on holidays last week to Barcelona, I briefly mentioned on Twitter how I was very eager to give a try to a new app Google has put together called Google Trips that is supposedly going to fix all of the potential issues with traveling, wether for work or for pleasure. Well, errr, nope! It didn’t do it for me. I downloaded the details for the trip to Barcelona offline, even though I have got 4G on my iPhone / iPad, just to see what it would be like if I were going abroad, and overall I wasn’t convinced by the choices of places offered whether for sightseeing or eat & dine. Overall I thought it was just a bit too over-engineered with very little room for serendipity to kick in, to explore things and places further along, to let yourself get lost to then find yourself again, in short, to improvise. In a nutshell, far too organised for my tasting. Mind you, I may well give it a go though next time around I travel to another city that I may not know from before and see how it would go, but this time around it just didn’t cut it.So I went back to one of my all time favourite maps & traveling apps, CityMaps2Go. It allows me to combine perfectly, a well organised offline map to get around, but also the improvisation of discovering new places wherever I may well be, plus recommendations from real people on what to check out and what not. My favourite capability from the App though is the compass that comes with it that points me back in the right direction in case I get lost heh Oh, and one other activity I love doing with the app is to accumulate all of the various different offline city maps I have used during the course of the year with all the trips I may do and reflect where I have been that year, before I start the new year with a clean slate. Pretty neat, if you ask me.
  • Human: [iPhone Only] Over the course of the last few years I have made extensive use of a good number of different Exercise & Fitness Apps, such as RunKeeper Pro, Runtastic Pro, Strava, Nike+, RockMyRun, Zova, etc. etc. that I may include in this series in the long run, we shall see, but right now there is only one of them that’s still installed in my iPhone and that is Human. It’s my favourite exercise and fitness app by far, more than anything else, because its main premise is not to put too much strain in your body with the exercise you do, but to remind you, kindly, you need to remain active and a minimum of 30 minutes of activity may well do. I like that!I also like the fact you don’t have to compete with other people, or even with yourself, through the app, so the gamification component is just not there. Yes, I quite like that, indeed! Yes, I know, there is Clubs in the App, but I am not part of any at the moment and there is also Pulse which I never check anyway. And that’s what I really like about the app, because its focus is in the long term activity, not the short bursts of competing with others, till you are bored to death and you move somewhere else. Not my kind of game, I am afraid, which is why I heart Human so much. 30 minutes of daily activity for the rest of your lifetime. That simple. Yes, of course, you can do so much more than that, but, you see?, there is no real competition, just you and your daily healthy activity check. heh
  • Kindle: Yes, I know, I know, the Kindle App is an obvious one, everyone has it, but I just had to include it as this past holiday week in Barcelona was the perfect opportunity for me to catch up with plenty of reads I have meant to be done with by now, but that they have may dropped out for whatever the reason. I can’t remember the last time I had a paper book in my hands, or that I may have bought one. Ever since the Kindle app came out, I have defaulted to ebooks, in whatever the form or format, and I just love it. Why? Well, because everywhere I may well go, whether work related or not, and for those spare minutes where something needs to happen, but it doesn’t, I take out my iPhone and continue reading where I left it. Oh, yes, the screen of the iPhone 6S Plus does make a difference. A huge difference altogether! (So you can imagine how it would work on my iPad Pro, too!). ‘Oh, what kinds of books are you reading at the moment, by the way?’, you may be wondering, right? Hold on, I will talk about that soon enough when I share the App I’m currently using to store notes / reviews of the books I have read or I am reading at the moment… Yes, there is an app for that, and I would say it’d be totally unexpected for most of you when I share it along in this series at a later time 😀
  • WiFox: This is probably my favourite new app that I just installed last week and that I am surely looking forward to taking it for a spin on my next business trip I may well do and see how it would play along, but, I tell you, it could well be a game changer for all of the road / air warriors out there. Imagine this, an app that contains all of the WiFi hotspots at airports, and other public spaces, along with their passwords and all of that available for free! My goodness!, my dear WiFox, where have you been all of this time?!?!?! Which world have I have been living myself in for not having found you sooner?!?! Either way, if you are a frequent world traveler and are in clear need of remaining connected at whichever airport you may well be, this app might be the answer to all of our ever growing pains and headaches to continue working online while on the move! Yay!![Of course, I will report back in this post next time around I get a chance to use it to confirm how accurate and helpful it may well be, thus stay tuned!]
  • Elevate: And, finally, games! Of course! Why not, right? I don’t think I have mentioned it on previous blog entries from this series, but I’m hoping to be able to share as well some of my favourite games that I keep playing over the course of time. There used to be a time where, at one point, I had several dozens of games in my iOS devices, but right now there are only a couple of them that I keep playing  every so often and, perhaps, one of my all time favourite ones is Elevate.Despite the growing skepticism and research about the potential benefits of Brain Training apps, I keep enjoying Elevate quite a bit and mainly for three different reasons: a) I am not a native English speaker myself, so plenty of the different games inside the app help me improve my overall English skills around writing, listening, speaking and reading, which I very much appreciate to help me keep up, as I graduated as an English teacher a few years back; b) It also has got a Study section that allows me to improve my overall skills around public speaking, speed reading, math and vocabulary building, which is just perfect for when I have got that spare minute and I’d want to learn or improve on a specific area; c) And, finally, through Performance, it allows me to keep track of my own progress and identify those areas where I’m doing well, and those other areas where I may need to improve a bit, which is just perfect to help me define what my own learning needs may well be at that point in time and act upon them. Just brilliant!

    Now, at the beginning of this blog post, I mentioned how I had a little gift for you folks out there who may be interested, in this case, to check out Elevate itself, and more specifically, the Pro version, because I have got the lovely opportunity to share across some promo codes with you all to give the pro version a try for a full week. So if you haven’t tried Elevate just yet, or if you are using the free version and would want to check the full one, leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter (@elsua) and I will go ahead and share that promo code across. Happy gaming, happy learning!

And that’s it for today! Hope you folks enjoy this week’s suggestions and favourite iOS Apps from yours truly and if you want to enjoy that little gift to try out Elevate Pro for a full week, reach out to me and I will share it right away!

Enjoy them! 😀👍🏻

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My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #2

Gran Canaria - La Culata's surroundings

I never thought I would be enjoying this much putting together this series of blog entries around my Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week as I am currently doing at the moment. More than anything else, because of the trip down the memory lane from over 8 years ago till today to see whether my own work habits and productivity hacks, while on the move, have evolved a fair bit, or perhaps not so much. Or whether, maybe, I have completely changed my own user behaviours so drastically that it has morphed into something completely different altogether. Quite an interesting and intriguing journey, if you ask me. As I get to write down today’s post, it makes me think that, perhaps, for the core group of tasks I do on a regular basis I haven’t really changed much my own habits, which seems to confirm, pretty much, how hard it is to just change for the sake of it, but somehow it’s the good fun around the edges that I’m enjoying the most so far, as I get to explore new apps and new ways of getting work done. After all, it’s all about working smarter, not necessarily harder, even in a mobile world, right?

One of the several things that I have found rather enlightening, and eye-opening at the same time, is how, instead of having a single app to perform a specific action, or complete a particular task, I almost always have a handful of apps to handle such kinds of interactions without really having a single favourite one, since I enjoy all of them for what they do and the overall user experience they provide me with. It’s happening to me, for instance, with apps around photography, RSS news feed readers, blogging, podcasting, note taking, drawing / sketching, mindmapping, web browsing, maps / traveling, etc. etc. So I am hoping that, over time, I get a chance to share them all over here as well with an opportunity to indicate what makes me want to keep using multiple of them based on their different nuances, because somehow I feel they all contribute into a richness of productivity hacks I suspect some of you may find useful as well. So, we shall see how that goes as we move further along …

For this week, though, it’s now a good time to share my Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week, indicating whether they are available for iPhone, iPad, or both and explain with a single one-liner or two the main reason as to why I use each of those iOS Apps. Thus without much further ado, here we go:

  • Blogo: On my MacBook Air, I don’t have a single doubt in terms of my favourite offline blogging app and for a good few years already. It’s MarsEdit. On iOS things change substantially, because I don’t have a single favourite one, but multiple of them, so I suppose, over time, I may have a chance to include them all in this series of blog entries and explain why for each of them. For now, I will start with the one I like quite a bit lately and that I have been using extensively to draft my blog posts while on the iPad Pro. It’s Blogo.There is also a desktop app, but again MarsEdit does it for me, so for those folks who may be looking for alternatives or new options, Blogo may well be worth a try. What I like the most about the iOS app is that’s incredibly focused on the act of writing blog posts, no interruptions, no distractions, no fuss, just cut to the chase on ideas you may want to jot down and develop further and keep on writing those drafts further along. The set-up process of WordPress blogs is a gem, too! So easy and user friendly to do that anyone can start their own blog right away! Oh, and the use of images in your blog posts is rather cool as well with tons of options you can toy and play with, if that’s what you are into heh.
  • Feedly: Yes, 2016 and I still read RSS news feeds. Every single day, actually. I spend a significant amount of time just browsing through my RSS feeds while I continue to prune and re-build my own blogroll, which I am hoping to share it along in the next few weeks… And in terms of iOS RSS news feed readers, and like I said already, I have got multiple apps I use on a regular basis and for different purposes, mostly whether it’s an app I can use offline or not, for instance. Right now, one of my favourites is Feedly, more than anything else, because it’s one of the most popular and extended ones and because it allows me to syndicate online as well as offline resources given me something I quite enjoy: choices!One of the little things I appreciate the most from Feedly at the moment as well, ever since I got it working again on my iPad Pro, is how much it feels like just reading a news paper, an online one, to the point where there is only one other app that makes it a superiour user experience than what Feedly provides, but that I’ll talk about that app in an upcoming post. Still, at the moment, for online RSS news feed reading, Feedly does it for me.
  • Pocket: You could say that Pocket is also a fancy RSS news feed reader and I would probably have to agree with you on that one. Not like Feedly or other traditional RSS news feed readers, but it certainly does the job of helping you curate content you bump into that you find relevant and equally interesting but that perhaps you may want to read at a later time, specially, when offline and disconnected from the Internet. This is where Pocket excels in terms of providing one of the most enlightening user experiences for browsing the Web while offline, if I can say that. But there are a couple of other things I enjoy a fair bit from Pocket that have made it an indispensable productivity and learning tool for yours truly.As a starting point, it allows people to share across their recommended reads, so, in a way, you can connect with other people who may share similar interests to yours and read each other’s recommendations. Pretty nifty if you would want to nurture your networks based on content you all may be mutually interested in. And the other rather nifty feature is how pervasive it is. I use it on my Web browsers on my Mac or the desktop app to save items to read later. I use it on my iOS devices, but what I like the most about it is that it’s fully integrated with other apps, like Tweetbot, allowing me to go through my Twitter feeds and save for later links shared by my networks that I may find of interest. Then at the end of the day, usually, I will go through them, read along, save, recommend, share across, etc. etc. The combination of Tweetbot and Pocket to curate interesting links is a killer. Loving it.
  • Haiku Deck: On my MacBook Air, Keynote is the main productivity tool I use to put together presentations I then use for public speaking events or for client work. I often use Keynote for complex presentations where I need to follow certain flows, do hands-on demos (with screen shots) or more complex visuals, etc. but when it’s a presentation that needs to become very visually appealing to go further along with a powerful story then I resort to one of my favourite iOS Apps out there: Haiku Deck.You put together the words, the story, and Haiku Deck gathers and presents you with plenty of absolutely stunning visuals you can then toy with to make it one of those presentations to remember. What I like the most about the app? Well, it allows you to craft beautiful presentations without too much wording or far too complex visuals / graphics in them, so death by PowerPoint can be happily avoided and save you tons of unwanted headaches. It just works: a powerful story + a handful of powerful images and off you go to rock the main stage! Perhaps the way presentations should have been framed all along…
  • Telegram: Yes, there are tons of Messaging & Chatting apps out there. Probably, far too many to count them all with both hands and still fall short! Yes, we all know that WhatsApp perhaps dominates that market at the moment. Yes, we know that plenty of the big players (Google, Facebook itself, Microsoft, etc. etc.) keep trying to debunk it and, eventually, they keep failing. Well, there is one Messaging App out there that has certainly done the magic for me, helping me move away from WhatsApp itself and still use, rather heavily, messaging for both work and personal use. It is Telegram.To me, it’s one of the most powerful chatting and messaging apps out there at the moment, allowing me to be on top of the conversations I have in it without getting too overwhelmed by the different notifications from each of the group / individual chats, but if there would be a feature that I’d enjoy the most it would be how pervasive it is. There is a Mac desktop app, so you can continue with your messaging along while at your desk; there is an app for iPhone and for iPad, fully in sync with each other, so depending on what you may be doing you can pick and choose whatever may suit you best, something that, for instance, WhatsApp doesn’t seem to handle too well, never mind the fact there isn’t one for iPad. Oh, and Telegram handles with grace the ability of mixing work and personal use, so you get to experience a bit more of a biz app than, say, WhatsApp. I tell you, if you are looking for a pretty decent messaging app that does a beautiful job at it, Telegram it is!

And that is it! That’s this week’s Top 5 iOS Apps for me that you can take for a spin yourself either on your iPhone or iPad and let me know what you think about them in the comments section below. Oh, and if you’d have some additional suggestions or recommendations of apps I should give a try and share my twopence on them, please do let me know as well. I’m always open to try new apps and see how they would fair further along with my day to day work routines.

Hope you folks enjoyed this week’s selection as next week there will be some more!

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My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #1

Gran Canaria - Playa del Inglés Beach


It’s been nearly 6 years since the last time I have put together an entry over here in this blog, where I was recommending some of my favourite Productivity & Social Apps for iOS, in order to get work done more effectively, that I keep using on a regular basis, even to today. Since I am about to embark on resuming that series of articles, once more, as I mentioned on the recent write-up about my initial user experience with my iPad Pro, I am very aware that some things may have changed so much I doubt those blog posts from back in the day would relate much to this upcoming series. And perhaps that’s good news on its own, we shall see… 

As a starting point, I’m no longer a salaried employee, but a freelancer, which will change perspectives a fair bit in terms of defining both my needs and wants as an independent mobile knowledge (Web) worker. I have also transitioned into becoming a digital nomad versus being attached to a single work location (usually, my home office), as I was till not long ago, and, most importantly, the devices and Apps I use nowadays have upgraded themselves to such level of perfection that my very own user habits are no longer the same. You will see what I mean shortly, but, for now, let me just say I’m really excited to resume the ‘My Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week’ series. Are we ready? I surely am. 

But before I get started with this series of blog posts I should also state that I’ll be blogging about my favourite iOS Apps that would be suitable for either my iPhone or my iPad Pro, or both! And, at the same time, I will include a single one liner, or two, as to why I have got them installed in the first place and why I use them on a more or less regular basis, at least, multiple times per week, if not daily. That way you folks may well be able to get a good glimpse of what my daily productivity and social collaboration activities are like. Of course, I will also be looking forward to hearing about your suggestions and recommendations on Apps I should check out in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to take your advice on board, take them for a spin and report back on what my user experience has been. I am certain that’s going to be one of my favourite follow-up activities from this series. So let’s get busy! 

  • IBM Connections: There are a number of different Apps in the realm of Enterprise Social Networking Tools that I use on a more or less frequent basis. Of course, I will be adding them accordingly over the course of time into this series, but, so far, the one that overtakes every single one of them, and, by a long stretch, is the IBM Connections App, as I have mentioned in another blog entry, since it’s the main ESN tool I use with my clients at the moment, both to work together in various different initiatives as well as to provide support as an independent adviser on Social Business and Digital Transformation.

    What I like the most about the App is that, with it, I can get done about 95% of my client work inside the App itself without having to go through a desktop Web browser and in terms of ESN Apps it’s probably as good as it gets. Oh, yes, I am using a whole bunch of them at the moment and time and time again I keep resorting back to my desktop browser, which I guess doesn’t help much if you want to continue using the iOS Apps themselves. So a big plus for this App on its own, as it continues to allow me to work & be mobile, regardless of where I am and, as a mobile knowledge (Web) worker myself, that’s not only a good thing, but an imperative. It does the job beautifully

  • Slack: Over the course of time I will have a proper chance to share some additional insights about how I make use of Slack for my day to day work activities, but for today suffice to say that in terms of using a team collaboration tool for both synchronous / asynchronous messaging and communications where you get the exact same user experience whether you are using the desktop app, or a browser or the iOS App, Slack is as good as it gets. Its user interface is just superb, where you hardly need to have any kind of enablement done before you can make extensive use of it.

    However, my favourite features that I can also experience through the iOS app are both the outstanding searching capability and the different various integrations with other apps and services allowing me not having to go elsewhere to get my work done. It gets done in context, right there, in the conversation(s). You should, definitely, look no further if you would want to enable and facilitate small teams to work together in a very effective manner on a single project where plenty of great fun is an integral part of how people communicate with one another. 

  • Tweetbot v4: Over the course of nearly a decade I have used tons of different Twitter Apps either on the desktop or via mobile devices and ever since I discovered Tweetbot I haven’t walk back to anything else ever since. I’m currently using v4 of Tweetbot both on my MacBook Air, as well as my iPad and iPhone and I would probably be able to state it’s the best Twitter client out there and by a long stretch. Yes, it may sound as if it is a bit too pricey, since it’s not free, but if you are really interested in Twitter and making the most out of it, it’s totally worth the investment.

    What I like the most though? Well, the fact that due to the very own Twitter API restrictions plenty of the new distracting features and capabilities from Twitter are not available, which means that Twitter remains for me a rather powerful social networking tool vs. just another media tool. I suspect the moment Tweetbot gets terminated or is no longer available that would probably be the time where I’d question, really hard, whether I’d want to spend more time in Twitter at all. That’s how much I heart this iOS App. Without it I would have probably walked away from Twitter a long time ago … 

  • Instagram [ iPhone Only ]: One of the many activities I have taken up just recently, as I became a freelancer, and which I’m quite fond of at the moment, is that one of photoblogging, where almost every single day I share a snap shot of something I may have experienced or witnessed, or something that may have piqued my interest whether it’s back at home in Gran Canaria, or while I’m on the road, on a business trip, vacation, etc. etc. And my favourite photoblogging app at the moment is Instagram, although I should probably add that this is due to a very specific capability Instagram has that other apps just don’t have: the filters.

    If it weren’t for the gorgeous filters, I would have probably abandoned the app a long time ago, more than anything else, because it just keeps destroying the overall user experience itself introducing silly algorithms and capabilities that just don’t work, or trying to copycat other social tools just because it thinks it can, instead of focusing on what it does best: photoblogging! My mantra using that app has always been, even to this day, the following one: ‘An experience not captured is an experience not lived!

  • Flickr: And, finally, I had to share across what has been, perhaps, one of the oldest iOS apps I have been using so far. Pretty much like Instagram, I still make use of Flickr on a regular basis as it powers each and everyone of the blog posts I shared over here with the daily picture, but also because when I’m interested in photoblogging a snap shot out there without filters I always resort to Flickr.

    I have now been using this social networking tool for over 11 years and, to date, it’s still one of my favourites, even to search for images I can reuse with CC licenses for some of my presentations, to the point where I can see how my days of Instagram use may be numbered, as it keeps insisting on killing itself by adding some silly capabilities no-one needs, yet, I can see myself making use of Flickr year after year to no end, even if it is just to enjoy and treasure the good old Web 2.0 spirit.

    Oh, and do you know what I love the most about the Flickr app? Well, using it on my iPad Pro, specially, the ‘Explore’ capability. On a 12.9-inch screen with some pretty amazing colours and incredible resolution it’s just like having the real thing: a photograph in your hands, just like in the good old days! Pure delight! Highly recommended, in case you may not have experienced it just yet. 

And that’s it for now! I don’t want to extend myself any more than what I have already to give you a glimpse of some of the reasons as to why I have chosen this initial set of iOS Apps for the series of blog entires on my Top 5 iOS Apps of the Week – Week #N’. Hope you folks may have enjoyed reading through the blog post itself, just as much as I do making extensive use of these iOS apps and, as always, I shall be looking forward to your comments below and further suggestions about other apps you think I should consider that may be worth while using regularly to help improve my over all user experience as a mobile knowledge (Web) worker. So, which app(s) are your favourite ones so far? Oh, and, most importantly, why? 

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Top 10 Tools for Learning 2016

Gran Canaria - Charca Maspalomas

Every year, and for the last 10 years, which is a huge achievement in this day and age, if you ask me, Jane Hart puts together this wonderful list of Top 100 Tools for Learning, where she encourages everyone to fill in a form, or tweet further along, or even create your own blog post, where you’d be listing your Top 10 Tools for Learning, indicating whether each of those tools would be fitting in under the following categories: 

  1. Top 100 Tools for Education – for use in schools, colleges, universities, adult ed 
  2. Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning – for use in training, for performance support, social collaboration, etc.
  3. Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning – for self-organised learning

Now, I guess it’s never too late to dive in into such an interesting exercise that would definitely help you question how you learn, at work or in one’s own personal life. I mean, even though Jane has been running this exercise for a decade I think this is the first time I’m chipping in. I suppose better late than never, right?

The voting for this year is well under way and folks can cast their vote(s) till Friday 23rd, September 2016. So I thought for today’s blog post I’d put together my own list and share it further along. I can’t wait to see what that list would be like say, in 5 to 10 years from now, and whether my tools selection I’m sharing across today would differ much over time. Something tells me that a good number of them won’t even have a place anymore in the landscape of options I’d go for to accommodate my learning needs, but we shall see.

Needless to say it’s been a bit of a challenge as well to try to summarise my own Top Tools List for Learning down to just 10, more than anything else, because of how varied and mixed my very own learning needs and wants have become over the course of the last few years. So from the initial list of 40 different tools I eventually came down to the following 10 for 2016, where I have just selected them based purely on learning terms versus other key elements such as productivity, life hacks, curation, content management, etc. etc. 

I have also taken the liberty of adding a brief paragraph for each of the tools themselves to explain a little bit how I use them to help cover my learning needs, but I’m pretty sure that, over the course of time, I will be talking plenty more in detail about each and everyone of them, plus the other 30 I have left behind for now, in order to share across how I, eventually, get work done WHILE I learn, because that’s what matters at the end of the day, doesn’t it? Adapting to living live in perpetual beta, as my good friend, Harold Jarche would say… So here we go: 

Top 10 Tools for Learning 2016

  1. IBM Connections: [ Education and Personal & Professional Learning ]  Like I have blogged just recently, ‘Learning is the Work’, and since IBM Connections is where I spend nowadays vast majority of my time, while working with clients, it would be my number #1 tool for this year. And more than anything else, because, a long time ago, I realised that one of my main sources where my learning comes from is, basically, the clients I work with. They are my main source that keeps feeding my brain on a daily basis and that, thanks to them, plenty of the blog posts you see over here, in this blog, are direct reflections of those key learnings. At one point in time, I believed rather strongly that the moment you stop learning from your clients, that’s the moment that you are in trouble and it’d be a good thing to perhaps move on to better things. IBM Connections becomes then my number #1 Learning tool for 2016.
  2. Twitter: [ Education, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] Coming up, and pretty close, as my number #2 Learning tool, it would be Twitter. And for obvious reasons, specially, after I did a little experiment, which I blogged about under the heading ‘Is Twitter Where Connections Go to Die – The Unfollowing Experiment’. There will be a specific blog post coming up where I will talk more in detail about what has happened in the last year since I embarked in that experiment, but suffice to say that Twitter has become my main Personal Learning Network of choice and for absolutely everything, whether it’s work related, personal, global events, news items, etc. etc. It’s become my main glimpse into the Pulse of the Planet, as I used to call it back in the day. I have always sensed the moment I decide to leave Twitter behind, for whatever the reason(s), that’s the moment a little bit of me will die off as well. It’s become my preferred method of just pure learning, whether work related or not, just for the sake of it, which would probably explain a little bit further along why I’m so picky with it in terms of defining how I would want to use it to get the most out of it outside from the standards and expectations everyone seems to be conforming with.
  3. Slack: [ Education, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] Ok, I realised I haven’t blogged much about Slack per se, unless it’s been in connection with something else, but right now, for 2016, it’s my number #3 learning tool of choice and for multiple reasons… If there is a single word I could utilise to describe my own use of Slack, it would probably be flexibility, more than anything else, because I’m using Slack for work with different project teams, as well as participating in a number of different communities of practice, or of interest, as well as one of my favourite use cases, that one of a personal knowledge hub, but I will blog plenty more about it over the course of time, not to worry. For now though, it’s my number #3 learning tool for this year.
  4. WordPress (blogs): [ Education, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] It’s been powering this blog for over a decade and still going strong! It’s this blog that I have always considered an extension of my own brain, my own reflections, ideas and thoughts, along with experiences, about everything that I learn on a daily basis, so, of course, WordPress had to come up within the Top 5 tools list for learning and, in this case, at number #4. It’s also the main blogging platform that vast majority of the blogs I follow through my blogroll are using at the moment. To me, a non techie, it’s the easiest and most effective blogging platform out there, with a huge community to offer support and learning along the way and, above all, the most effective tool, in the long run, to help your manage your own personal knowledge. That powerful.
  5. Feedly : Education and Personal & Professional Learning ] Since I rely quite heavily on reading and commenting on different blogs, as well as receiving news items from different various Web sources, one learning tool that I just can’t do without, and which, in this case, comes up as number #5, is Feedly, my preferred RSS news feed reader. Yes, I still use RSS feeds and quite a lot! Remember them? From the good old days of the Web 2.0, it’s still very much alive and kicking and, to me, an integral part of my day to day learning activities to keep me in the know about what’s going on with the blogs and Web sites I am subscribed to. I mostly use Feedly on my iOS devices (both iPad Pro and iPhone), but on the Mac I don’t use Feedly, but Reeder, which is also available in iOS, where I’d only use it for when I’m offline for an extended period of time, like being stuck on a plane for several hours on a business trip. The great thing about RSS news feed readers is that there are tons of choices out there, and it’d be just your own personal choice to go for the one that works for you the best, pretty much like you would do with your own Web browser of choice. 
  6. Pocket [ Personal & Professional Learning ]: Coming up as number #6 is one of my all time favourite Apps, accessible via both the regular Web browser and iOS, it’s become an essential application to help me keep up with #longreads, or more in-depth items, I’d want to read and learn from with more pause and while disconnected, taking my time, allowing me to reflect on a deeper level what I am learning about. At the same time, and since not long ago, it acts as a superb tool for curation where you can recommend the best reads you may bump into that you’d want to share across, so your learning becomes everyone’s learning. It’s got a gorgeous user interface making the learning more focused on what you are reading, rather than trying to figure out the tool. Essential for the toread-later fans. 
  7. SkypeEducation, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] I think I may have been using Skype for well over a decade and, despite everything that may have happened throughout all of that time, it still remains within my top 10 list of tools for whatever the purpose. It’s the main learning tool I keep using on a regular basis for both audio and video conferencing, for podcasting, for vodcasting, for reaching out to people (either 1:1 or 1:many), so I can keep up with them and learn what they have been up to and despite other noteworthy efforts, like WhatsApp, Google Plus Hangouts, Blab, Viber, Tango, FaceTime, Zoom, Fuze, WebEx, Vyew, GoToMeeting, etc. etc. (It’s a far too long list already!) Skype is the only one I can continue to use reliably with good quality of both video and audio, and, most importantly, knowing it will always be there, while some others just don’t manage to pick up enough steam and therefore disappear into thin air over time, sadly. 
  8. Instagram / FlickrEducation, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] Back in the day, over 11 years ago, for number #8 I would have selected Flickr as my preferred tool to learn about how people live AND experience life, both on a personal and work levels. But in 2016, while I still use Flickr a fair bit, things have switched and I would now have to go for Instagram. It’s my photoblog where I try to share what I experience during the course of a given week, not just when I’m on the road, traveling, but also while living in Gran Canaria. It’s become my window to show the world a little bit of my world and therefore for me to learn plenty more about everyone’s world. I’m a visual animal and can then spend a fair amount of time learning different tidbits about the different photos people share through my Instagram feed, more than anything as an opportunity to help me cultivate and nurture my own social capital skills, so I can then put them into work when meeting up wonderful folks face to face to talk, share and learn about those mutual experiences of the pictures we share. Yes, I know, you may have noticed I got a thing for Instagram, and I surely do. It’s the only social networking tool from the Dark Social Web (a.k.a. platform monopolists) that I still use on a regular basis to keep me on my toes and remind me why I left that Social Web behind a long while ago (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pulse, Slideshare, Uber, Airbnb, etc. etc.) and why we still have got a long way to go to realise the so-called Web 2.0 spirit in its full potential and reach.
  9. Haiku DeckEducation, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] I am pretty sure that plenty of folks would probably choose between either PowerPoint or Slideshare as one of their preferred Top Tools for Learning in 2016. Perhaps not only for the creation and curation of their own presentations they may have done for a particular conference event, or a client engagement, but also to learn about a whole lot of different topics by curating other people’s decks. Well, in my case, it’s been nearly three years since I last uploaded a presentation into Slideshare and quite a long while ago as well last time I went there to learn about specific subject matter or themes. For the creation of my own presentations, I don’t use PowerPoint either, but rely more on Keynote (Mac & iOS), specially, if offline, but since I’m mostly online when crafting a presentation or learning about other’s presentations I usually resort to Haiku Deck. It’s my preferred learning tool to put together different stories that then, eventually, end up in a presentation and the reason why I heart it quite a bit is because I can always manage to find some stunning visual aids that would go really nice with the story, in a heartbeat, and therefore makes the job of having to find that perfect snap shot painless. That’s why Haiku Deck is my number #9 top tool for learning in 2016. 
  10. YouTubeEducation, Workplace Learning and Personal & Professional Learning ] And, finally, my top tool number #10 would go to YouTube. Yes, I know and realise most of you would be a tad surprised I’ve picked up YouTube as one of my Top Tools for Learning in 2016, but I use it quite frequently, either on my MacBook Air, iPhone or iPad for almost every type of learning aid: whether it’s a podcast, a vodcast, a screencast, a tutorial, a MOOC, a review, a presentation and / or a dissertation, interviews, book reviews, music videos, funny videos, etc. etc. and you name it, YouTube does it for me. And since there is a lovely hack everyone can use to download either the video or just the audio of the clip for offline watching it makes for the perfect companion when being disconnected for a while and having to catch up with a particular presentation, video, podcast / vodcast, etc. Yes, indeed, YouTube makes it into my Top 10 list of learning tools for 2016. 

And that’s a wrap! That’s my list of Top 10 Tools for Learning for 2016. But before I let you all go I wanted to mention, perhaps, how my favourite learning tool this year, and without a doubt, although it doesn’t have much to do with software or a specific service, is a piece of hardware, or, better said, two pieces of hardware: my iPad Pro and my iPhone. Why am I saying that? Well, because for the very first time in a long while 2016 is the year where I have gone mobile with my own learning, regardless of whenever, or wherever I may well be and that’s, probably, as good as it gets as I can now take my own learning where I’d want to, or need to, and not be attached to a specific setting, computing device and what not. Just me and my own learning activities on my own space, the way it should have always been.

How about you? Have you put together your own Top 10 Tools list for Learning for 2016 yet? What are you waiting for?

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