E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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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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2016 – The Year I Went Mobile Only with My iPad Pro

iPad Pro - My new main computing device 😎 #mobilefirst

In a recent blog entry I referenced an article Euan Semple published a few days back under the heading ‘Being at work’, which I can strongly recommend re-reading through it, if you haven’t just yet. There were a number of different themes that caught my attention back then and I thought that, perhaps, for today’s article, I’d focus on one of them I didn’t mention the last time around. This one, to quote: ‘Ten years later, having experienced over that time the joy and increased effectiveness of being a freelancer in charge of my own productivity, […]’, although I would have added as well the following tidbit: ‘and computing environment’. Because that’s what freelancers do, right? Always looking for that final productivity hack within their own computing environment that may well take one’s own effectiveness into the next level. Well, I think I may have found my own: The iPad Pro.

According to coconutBattery, my MacBook Air is 1733 days old, even thought it’s still in perfect working order, except for a couple of keyboard keys I can no longer read, as they are too worn out, and a battery half way through its capacity. It still works. Perfectly. It’s been my old time favourite computing device to get work done, even when I was a salaried employee at IBM. What I love the most about this machine is the fact that despite all of the heavy computing and business traveling I have done with it over the years, it still works flawlessly. And I hope it continues to be like that for many moons to come (knocking on wood, as I write these few words down…). 

However, a few months back I came to terms with the fact I might need to update my own computing environment for when the MacBook Air is no longer there. And, at the time, I had to question whether I was ready to go mobile only or still rely on a laptop. I was really keen on confirming whether 2016 was the year of mobile or whether it was just another frustrating experience like the one I blogged about nearly 5 years ago. Mind you, for the kind of work I do, you can imagine I don’t require a very powerful machine. So perhaps I was ready to make the jump into #mobilefirst.

Indeed, I was and still am! Back in February this year I decided to jump the shark and purchased an iPad Pro, the 12.9-inch one, with the whole intention of making it my main computing environment for my daily work and take it for a spin to see how things would work out eventually. I could always back out of it and carry on with my MacBook Air till it would break apart and get another laptop, but so far, I can tell you all I am loving it! Next to my iPhone 6S Plus, it’s perhaps the best purchase I have ever done. 

I just didn’t buy the iPad Pro alone, by the way. From my user experience with other iPad models in the recent past, I knew I’d need to buy the Smart Keyboard, so I did purchase one. And I also quite fancied getting my hands on the Apple Pencil to see how much creative I could get writing again on a screen. So I got one, too! And, eventually, my new computing environment, that you can see on the above snap shot, was born.

Back in 2011 I put together a blog post under the title ‘My Top 10 Reasons Why I Bought an iPad 2’ and, while re-reading through it, I found it rather amazing to see how little my own needs and wants for a computing device have changed over the course of the years. Yes, iPads have gotten incredibly better in terms of specs and what not, but, if you look into those reasons I shared back then, they were down more to my own behaviours, habits and work practices than anything else. And in 5 years, very few different things have changed, apparently, even though I have moved from being a salaried employee at a large IT corporation like IBM to becoming my own CIO looking after my own productivity and computing environments. 

Now, I am not going to go through all of the various different reasons again explaining how the iPad Pro fairs in comparison with the iPad 2, more than anything else, because, like I said, those very same reasons would still stand, and very accurately, for the iPad Pro itself as well. Instead, I will just list them all over here and go ahead and add another 5 more reasons as to why I truly heart such brilliant mobile computing device. So, the initial round of reasons were as follows: Speed, Quality, Design, Cameras, Games, Friends, Price, Early Adopter, The Apps, Mobility. Go ahead and read through the blog post itself from back then for a short explanation for each reason, if you’d want to read some more about them. For now, let’s go and dive into the 5 new reasons…

  • The Speakers: The audio on the iPad Pro is just simply stunning! I spend a good chunk of the day watching or listening to rich media, whether it’s podcasts, vodcasts, presentations, speeches, talks, interviews, news items, TV & films, etc. etc. you name it, and the quality of the sound coming out from my iPad Pro is like no other! Even my good old MacBook Air can’t even come close to such level of quality when I am doing, for instance, video / audio conferencing with tools like Skype. And if you are into listening to music, while you work, because, you know, amongst several other things, it helps you concentrate better and work more effectively, using Spotify on the iPad Pro is just a treat to the ears! 
  • The Screen: I never thought I would be saying, or writing, this, but size does matter and in a computing device, no matter what they tell you, the bigger, the better. I realised about that when I went from the iPhone 5S into the iPhone 6S Plus and have never walked back ever since. The rest are just toys! That’s why I went for the iPad Pro 12.9-inch versus the 9.7-inch. It just makes you feel like you are working with a laptop (if you have a keyboard with it, of course), which means it’s a whole lot easier adjusting your own computing habits to the iPad even when you know it’s not a laptop anymore. It would not be the first time, nor the second, or even the third time that when I am, occasionally, still using the MacBook Air, without realising, at a certain given point in time, I start touching the screen and go silly when I realised it doesn’t do anything. Of course, it doesn’t, it’s a laptop! Grrr See? That’s how bad the iPad Pro has already shifted my own habits using computers. Still, having such a large screen makes me feel I’m cheating a little bit thinking I’m not using a tablet, but my own laptop, after all heh
  • The Apps: Oh, yes, it’s always been about the Apps. And now that I have got a bigger screen, the apps are all that matters. With the recently introduced multitasking capabilities, ‘Split View’ is a must-have. It makes all the difference in terms of how you interact and get the most out of your iPad Pro. It’s by far, one of my all time favourite capabilities from iOS. And if you have used it yourself, you will know, exactly, what I mean. Either way, it’s all about the Apps. It’s the main reason why I keep using iOS over the last few years and why I haven’t moved elsewhere. Remember when I used to write ‘Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week – Week #N’? Well, I am hoping to bring that back, sharing with everyone what are some of my preferred and favourite iOS Apps I use on a regular basis on my iPad, specially, nowadays with the emphasis of being a freelancer and having defined already, pretty much, my own computing environment with them all in a single page or two. So, stay tuned for more blog posts to come along where I’ll write down short reviews of those Apps and why I use them on both my iPad Pro and my iPhone. 
  • The Smart Keyboard: Yes, it’s a keyboard. Actually, to be more accurate, it’s a keyboard for the iPad Pro, but, boy, do I enjoy writing along with that keyboard?!?! I love the touch and feel, I love the speed my fingers pick up as I type along coming pretty close to what I can do on my MacBook Air. I love how I can dispose of the keyboard as I may see fit and get another one. That’s just portability taken to the extreme and I quite like it! It’s as flexible as it can get! Oh, and it’s seamless. Hit a keystroke and off you go! Ideal for when you are on the road, traveling, and need to jot down something quick while your phone just run out of battery. But, again, what I enjoy the most about it is the touch and feel of the keys making it sound much more natural, less mechanical, or metallic, than the typical laptop keyboard. It’s as if you are typing on the skin! Unreal!
  • The Apple Pencil: Finally, there is the Apple Pencil. Now, I was very skeptical about this gadget initially, because I wasn’t totally convinced it was something I’d make extensive use of. After all, I’m not a designer, I can’t draw, nor paint, properly, and all along I much prefer to do my note taking through Apps rather than writing. It’s how they stuck in my memory. But, at one point, I thought, why not? Buy it and take it for a spin and see how it would work, if at all. Well, so far, I’m enjoying it! Perhaps not for the main use cases most people are thinking about (drawing, sketching, designing, etc.), but so far it’s become an extended part of my hand, just like a regular pencil, or pen, for when I am browsing Web sites, checking different media tools (for text, photos, audio, video, etc), typing along, etc. etc. It just feels almost natural. One of my favourite use cases for it at the moment, for instance, is for mindmapping. And another one for sketching, doodling and learning how to draw, specially, after watching this stunning video clip on the topic (It claims everyone, yes, everyone, including you!, can draw no matter what). The end result is that I never thought I’d be making use of the Apple Pencil and now I just can’t go anywhere without it and my iPad Pro. 

Now, I realise this may well be a too simplistic blog post on its own to confirm whether you may be enticed to purchase an iPad Pro yourself, or not, but I am seeing this article as an opportunity to put together a series of entries around how I make the most out of my own computing environment, as a freelancer and digital nomad, to perhaps suggest and share further along with you all how it works for me and to demonstrate whether going mobile only with both my iPad Pro and iPhone does eventually make me more effective in the work I do than when I was using a computer / a laptop. So if you’d have any burning questions out there that you would want me to answer sooner rather than later, or share my feedback on, drop me a comment below and I’ll respond as soon as I possibly can, while I get to work on the different blog posts from this series as time goes by.

Finally, one question to open up the floor, if you wouldn’t have to do tons of heavy computing tasks for your day to day job, that would require you to use a powerful desktop or laptop, would you move into mobile only and rely on an iPad Pro? If so, if you have already done it, what’s been your user experience so far? Is 2016, at long last, the year of mobile computing

Something, 12.9-inch large, tells me it may well be … What do you think?

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

My Top 5 iPhone Apps of the Week - Week #1 I guess that with 47 million iPhones sold throughout 2010 and with 20 million plus already expected for Q1 in 2011 there is very little I would probably need to add about the tremendous impact of the iPhone within the smartphone market, whether for business or for personal use. Or both. So earlier on this year, around mid-summer, and after having waited for a couple of years, I, finally, took the chance to upgrade my good old 3G iPhone and get back on track with things with the iPhone 4. Thus, I got my hands on one. Yes, the very same one that dealt with the antennagate, which I never saw, nor experienced, by the way, in the nearly six months I have been using it extensively all over the place, including abroad. And counting … Certainly, one of the major gadget highlights for me for 2010, specially, since it allowed me to reacquaint myself with that good old concept of smart mobility without continuing to have that feeling I have been missing something for a while…

And so far the experience has been phenomenal, to say the least! It’s helped me get reacquainted with a good bunch of the iPhone Apps I fell in love in the first place when the iPhone 3G was still usable, plus a whole bunch of new ones that have come along rather nicely in the last few months. So when I resumed my blogging activities after a rather long hiatus not long ago I mentioned over here how, very soon, I would also be opening up a new series of blog posts, pretty similar to the My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week, but instead of just sharing my favourite iPad Apps, I would also start sharing my iPhone Apps, with pretty much the very same flow, including the iPhone Game of the Week. That way folks, who may be interested in learning what interesting and rather helpful Apps there may be out there that I have been using lately, would have an opportunity to check them out themselves as well.

At the same time, and just like for the iPad Apps, it would give me an opportunity to create a record, an archive, of the ones I have been sharing already over at Twitter, under the same hash tag: #elsuapps before they all disappear into thin air, like it’s happened in the past. Now, I do realise how this series of blog posts are actually going to be much shorter than the iPad Apps ones and, eventually, I wouldn’t be surprise if both series of entries would merge into a single one as the reach and impact of the iPad become more and more apparent and we can move in right into what matters: sharing the odd tips here and there on really helpful Apps that perhaps you should not miss out. Nor me! Because, as usual, I would want to also welcome folks to leave in the comments section their favourite picks, tips and suggestions of Apps I should give a try as well and eventually incorporate into #elsuapps at some point in time…

Thus without much further ado, and hoping you would find this series of shorter posts on iPhone Apps somewhat helpful, here we go with My Top 5 iPhone Apps of the Week – Week #1:

  • Instagram: Yes, indeed, I am a visual human being, a visual learner, and, while on the move, Instagram is one of the latest mobile social networking tools I have joined just recently and I am finding it an absolute delight to, back again, enjoy fully both moblogging and photoblogging the way they should have been from the start: fun, fun, fun! Perhaps even what Flickr Mobile should have been altogether, from the start… My username in there is the usual one as it is everywhere else (i.e. elsua) and I guess to try to describe it is probably going to remain a challenge, so I would advise you to check out the picture I shared below a couple of days ago and which will probably describe pretty well the overall experience! Go ahead and give it a try and feel free to reach out across and start sharing some of those amazing pictures with your mobile social networks!
  • WhatsApp: If you happen to live in a country with the most expensive rates for SMS in Europe, you would probably be very very helpful for this rather nifty iPhone App, like I am, since I happen to live in such a country where the SMS fees are the most expensive in Europe by far, and if you go abroad and send an SMS msg., it’s even worse (Thank you very much, Movistar!). Like I said, if you want to stop sending SMS messages altogether, but still keep in touch with colleagues, friends and relatives, specially, in these times, without spending a penny more than what you would if you were to send an SMS from abroad with my mobile provider, WhatsApp is an essential, must-have, can’t-miss-out App. Period. Nothing else to add further other than being very grateful to the developers for helping us all save tons of money and still keep in touch with everyone!
  • Viber: You may have recently seen, or experienced, the issues Skype had with a rather long outage that took the service down for a good number of hours and back then you were probably already wondering about what potential alternatives you may have out there, right? Well, on the iPhone, there are several of them out there, but my favourite one so far, and way ahead of the curve from most of the others, is Viber. Have a look into this YouTube video to see how it works and go and install it right away! Another good, helpful way of reducing your mobile phone costs. Oh, and just like the short video clip states, it works!

  • Dragon Dictation: If you are already familiar with voice recognition software, you would know there are plenty of really good options out there for most operating systems; my favourite on the Mac has been, all along, MacSpeech Dictate (Which has been recently re-branded as Dragon Dictate for Mac), so when I first heard that Dragon Dictation was becoming available as well outside of the US I just couldn’t help bounce up and down sharing the excitement; this was one of those iPhone Apps I have been looking forward to for months and, finally!, it was available to us all! And, boy, does it work beautifully?!?! It surely does! If you are tried of typing or you just want to capture that quick thought, while on the go, Dragon Dictation is all you need! Another, must-have, essential App for your iPhone!
  • Bayo Bongo: And, finally, here we go with the final iPhone App for this time around, which happens to be the iPhone Game of the Week. This time around dedicated to one of my favourites, Bayo Bongo. It may seem an easy to play game at the beginning, but, to be honest, as you move forward to higher levels you will experience what it is like multi-touching on such a tiny screen as the iPhone’s, just to keep up with the game itself! Fantastic, addictive and rather immersive altogether! Oh, and here is another tip, there is an iPad version for it, too! And goodness! It changes the whole game altogether on how you can interact with both hands as an amazingly fun game to experience. Highly recommended!

And that’s it, folks, for this time around! Hope you get to enjoy some of those various iPhone Apps mentioned above and stay tuned for upcoming blog posts where I will continue with the series of #elsuapps for the iPhone. Oh, and don’t forget to share your favourite picks in the comments as well!

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My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week – Week #9

My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week - Week #9As we keep witnessing how the iPad is entering a whole bunch of new markets for tablets that perhaps never thought they would be making it that far, while being taken by storm by the iPad itself like they are at the moment, here I am, once again, ready to go and share with you folks the next blog post from the series of My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week, this time around with Week #9. First though I would want to share with you folks a couple of rather helpful articles you may want to check out, specially, if you are a librarian or perhaps an English language teacher. They are just basically a couple of articles with plenty of helpful tips and recommendations on Apps to check out, specially for those two groups, which I am sure is going to keep you all busy for a while. To name: “40 iPad Apps That Librarians Love” and “iPad Apps for English Language Teachers“, respectively. And now that we are over with that short introduction, let me recommend you as well to read one of those posts a good friend of mine put together just recently and that sounds incredibly scary as to how well he has described not only his own iPad experience so far, but mine, too! Check out Jim Worth‘s “What’s so special about the iPad“… Yes, indeed, that’s exactly how I feel about it myself: special!

Some of Jim’s thoughts on what appeals to him about the iPad would also be very true for me: the always Instant On, the All Day Battery Life, the Portability, the Continuous and Free Software Updates, the Social Web, the Video and Audio Capabilities and, of course, the games, the brilliant games that I have been playing there now for a few months and that helped my gamer self resurface once again from the good old times! However, there are still plenty of other things for which I *heart* my iPad experience and very shortly I will be putting together another blog entry where I will try to cover the main reasons as to why I gave in a few months back, bought my iPad, while in the US, and haven’t walked back ever since!

The always inspiring Paul Gillin already hints some of the topics I will be covering as well in that upcoming blog post in a recent entry he wrote under the title “Age of the Tablet Has Begun“, which, I am sure you would agree with me, has got a very suggestive title of what’s to come in the new year we are approaching fast and furious. Indeed, Paul is just basically detailing how he feels the iPad, and other upcoming tablets, whenever they come out!, are going to change the whole concept of mobility and portability, even beyond that one of ultra-portable devices like netbooks or the MacBook Air, to name a couple. And I think he is absolutely right and spot on on that one, since the last couple of months, while I have been on the road myself in various different business trips, I, too, have experienced what it is like just relying on my iPad while presenting to customers, or being immersed in workshops, attending & presenting at conference events, etc. etc. and just having to rely effectively on my iPad alone.

To name a couple of very simple and straight forward benefits, which I will touch base on at a later time on that other upcoming post, from carrying an iPad for your business travelling, as an starting point, is that both my shoulders and my back are incredibly grateful they no longer have to carry that extra bag which weighs a few extra pounds, more than probably necessary ; instead I just have to carry with me my iPad in its light case and off we go. Instant access, wherever I may well be, ready to work and catch up with things under whatever the circumstances, scenarios and whatever other contexts. The other benefit is that my wrists are rather grateful, too! Mainly, because I am no longer spending so much time in front of the Mac typing away, but instead I am much more mobile, changing work places on a rather regular basis and finding those lovely breaks one can use here and there to give those wrists a well deserved break. Something that while using the Mac I keep skipping time and time again, for whatever the reason…

Like I said, there are several other reasons as to why the iPad is probably that particular device that has changed, the most substantially over the last 6 months!, the way I interact with my own working environment, whether behind the firewall or outside. It’s that device that has certainly brought back a level of comfort that I felt I was losing time and time again when having to spend too much time in front of the Mac itself. Now I can still keep up and have that mobility I once thought I lost it for good!

But you will find out plenty more about the rest of the other benefits I am getting from my own iPad experience in that upcoming post. For now though, I am going to go ahead with the usual sharing of the “My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week“, this time around for Week #9 picking up those Top 5 iPad Apps from the ones I keep sharing every so often over at my Twitter acount under the hash tag #elsuapps. So if you would want to see which ones I am sharing on a daily basis, you may want to subscribe to the Twitter feed from that hash tag. As usual, this set of recommendations helps me in two different areas: first, as a way for me to recommend some of the iPad Apps I have been enjoying quite a bit as of late, as more and more of my friends and colleagues are purchasing their iPads and want to know which ones I have been enjoying the most and, secondly, a method for me to remember and capture them over here in my own blog, since Twitter doesn’t want to do a proper job at it, at least, for now. In a way, it’s like my own Personal Knowledge Sharing iPad tips!

As usual, I will be recommending 5 different Apps, one of which is the iPad Game of the Week and the others are Apps I keep using on a regular basis for a bunch of tasks and activities, both for work and for personal use. I will also try to keep the reasons why I am recommending them a bit short and include the link to them in iTunes, so you can have a look into them right away and without delay, should you be interested in any of them. And, as always, if you would have any other iPad apps you yourself would want to recommend, share them across in the comments section, and I will incorporate them into future posts as well. The more, the better!

Thus without much further ado, let’s go with the recommendations for Week #9:

  • XpenseTracker – (Expense Tracker & Mileage Log): This is one of my favourite iPad Apps to keep track of expenses, both personal and work related, specially, for when I am in the road and need to keep track of them in order to declare them at a later time, for the work ones, and to keep an eye on things for the personal ones. It’s just as good as it gets, in my opinion, more than anything else because it allows you to get the job done easily and, most importantly, export it elsewhere for easier processing while handling those expenses. A must-have for those travel warriors out there!
  • Slide by Slide: My good friend Stu McIntyre recommended this one a little while ago over at the This Week In Lotus podcast as perhaps one of the most powerful iPad Apps to view, digest and share across presentations stored in one of our favourite Web 2.0 tools available out there: Slideshare and after having used it myself for a little while now I can confirm it just rocks!! It’s my default viewer for Slideshare decks at the moment and the ease of use it has along with the lack of ads surely makes it a treat working with it, specially when you are hunting down for ideas and other thoughts to reuse for your upcoming presentations! Very very helpful!
  • All-IN-1 Battery HD: Yes, I know! Even though the battery of the iPad can last from anything between 10 to 13 hours, I still like to have a little App that helps me stay informed about the status of the battery, hours I got left for various activities and how to fine tune things better, to, even get better results! Well, that is exactly what All-IN-1 Battery HD does for you and although there are a bunch of other related iPad Apps, this is probably one of the best out there! Oh, and it has a lovely Weather widget you can use at the same time! hehe

  • Google Earth: At this point in time, there is probably very little that I would need to add about Google Earth that may not have been said yet about it, but if I can add my ¢2 I could probably say that the experience in an iPad is fantastic! Having that ability to check out places, while on the move, to see where you are going, what you need to do, places to check, people to meet in places you never heard about, show everyone where you live or where you work in a way they, too, can interact with it at the same time as you are, is just priceless! It’s just like having that wonderful thing we call World right at your fingertips! Amazing! This is one of those Apps I really enjoy using with people who have never used the Web, nor are they interested in it. Yes, I know, there are still plenty of people out there in that realm and they all *love* the Google Earth iPad App… I can’t blame them for it. I do, too! 

  • Fieldrunners for iPad: And, finally, the iPad Game of the Week, which in this case comes directly from the iPhone, where I first fell in love with Fieldrunners; it’s a rather simple game with a rather concrete plot, but, boy, does it get addictive the more you play it and the game develops further! I can guarantee you that you will be spending a bunch of hours playing this fun game and don’t get bored with it! And the music is rather catchy, too! hehe

And that’s it for today, folks! Very soon I will be putting together the next one which will make Week #10 of My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week. Stay tuned for that one to come up! For now, I would want to wrap up this blog entry by reminding folks to check the blog post for Week #8, where I shared the tip about AppShopper, which given the time of the year we are in, is a must have, an essential iPad App to have, to catch all of the best deals and sales offers that most Apps are already offering during the holiday period. You may want to give it a go and see what you find! Some of the gems I have bumped into over the last week or so I have got them for almost no money just waiting for the bargains to kick in! Don’t miss out either!

Hope you have enjoyed this blog post, just as much as I am enjoying it myself with all of these iPad Apps and I surely look forward to reading your recommendations in the comments! Keep having fun with your iPads! 🙂

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My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week – Week #8

My Top 5 iPad Apps of the WeekOn my welcome back post from a few days ago, after a long hiatus of not having blogged much over here in this blog in the last few weeks, I mentioned how I was still planning on keeping things going with that series of blog posts I started a while ago on My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week, and which I have picked up as well back again on Twitter under the Daily #iPad App recommendations for #elsuapps. Well, I am happy to announce that series of entries is back and here we go with the edition for week #8! Read on… !

Now, there are a couple of new things I have thought about after all of that time not blogging away on this topic; the first one is another blog post (My good friend, and fellow IBM colleague, Bill Chamberlin keeps asking me about it … hehe) where I plan to detail what having, and making extensive use of, an iPad has meant for me in the last few months, to the point, where it’s replaced, altogether!, my regular mobile computing habits with my MacBook Pro and nowadays I just travel with my iPad! The recent iOS upgrade to 4.2 has meant, for me, a whole new bunch of enhanced productivity gains that TCGeeks describes thoroughly quite nicely and in that upcoming entry I am hoping to reflect why I heart my iPad more than any other mobile device I may have ever owned. Stay tuned … will be coming up shortly!

As usual, and as part of this blog series of posts, I keep sharing a bunch of articles that keep demonstrating how the business keeps showing a growing interest for the iPad within the Enterprise, not just from the perspective of every CIO and top level executive to own their have their own iPads, but also from the perspective where even analysts are starting to place their bets on how the iPad will transform the way we do business as well. Perhaps one of the most interesting articles that I have read on this very same topic as of late is that one from David Carr, over at InformationWeek, under the title “iPads Hit The Enterprise“.

In that rather interesting article, you would be able to read about how plenty of business are already making use of iPads for their day to day tasks and activities and getting plenty of good results; never mind the user acceptance and wider adoption by the knowledge workers themselves; I mean, who wouldn’t want to have an iPad as your main tool at work, instead of that relatively old, clunky, frustrating desktop PC you’ve been using for years and years, right? Like I said, a rather good and insightful read for those folks who may still be wondering whether the iPad has got a space within the corporate world or not. My short, sweet and straightforward answer to that question: yes, it does! And big time!!

Ok, after having shared all of those rather interesting and insightful links, let’s move on with the list of recommended iPad Apps for week #8; as usual, it’s a list of 5 iPad apps that I keep using myself on a regular basis, and out of the 5 of them one is the iPad Game of the Week, just for those spare moments where one could use a bit of fun and entertainment, while other things are happening in between, like waiting in queues, or while travelling, etc. etc. Like with all of the various different blog posts I have put together on this series, I keep aiming at keeping the description of the Apps rather short and focused, hoping to spark an idea or two as to why I use those as opposed to others. Thus, without much further ado, here is the list for this time around… Hope folks would enjoy them, just as much as I do, and, remember, if you would want to share your favourite picks, go ahead and add them in the comments section and I would be more than happy to share them across in upcoming articles with due credit. So, let’s go!

  • Flipboard: If you are a news junky, or if you would want to consume both news items as well as information resources shared through some of the major social networking sites (Like Facebook, Twitter and top blogs from multiple areas) in a rather new, innovative and rather creative way, Flipboard is probably as good as it gets. Even better when it’s considered by most folks one of the best RSS and Syndication technologies for 2010 or when you bump into a superb blog post that details how you can consume your Google Reader feeds directly from Flipboard itself. Absolutely fantastic and the latest version they have released is a *huge* improvement from previous versions as well… A must have! 
  • AppShopper: This is, perhaps, one of my all time favourite iPad apps (Works pretty nicely as well on the iPhone!!) from all along! It is one of those rather nifty and powerful iPad / iPhone apps that would allow you to find, AND strike, the best deals of some of the most popular Apps or those that have got, for a limited amount of time, juicy sales discounts with rather high %s. They say that buying Apps can become very expensive; well, with AppShopper, that’s no longer the case! Most of the recommendations I keep making over here of paid Apps I got them through real bargains in AppShopper. It’s an essential, must-have app for everyone! Believe me, once you get this app, your wallet will be grateful. At least, mine is 🙂
  • Wi-Fi Finder: This is one of those iPad apps that becomes incredibly helpful and rather powerful for those road warriors out there, constantly in the move with business / casual travelling, where they are always on the lookout for free wi-fi hot stops they could hook up their devices and get connected back again. Well, Wi-Fi Finder makes that job a whole lot easier by looking for you for those Wi-Fi spots and share them across with you. It even has got an offline capability where it downloads a database to your iPad and it searches for them even when you are disconnected. Like I said, ideal for those folks travelling out there!
  • Emerald Observatory for iPad: As much as I love this particular iPad App, I must confess that I didn’t make regular use of it till the recent upgrade to iOS 4.2 introduced the wonderful concept of multitasking … on the iPad! Yay! From there onwards it’s one of the applications that I have got running in the background constantly to give me a glimpse of all of those bits and pieces of information that one wants to keep handy, but can never find the application that does it nicely. Well, Observatory does it and beautifully! 

  • 7 Wonders HD: And, finally, like I have mentioned above, the iPad Game of the Week; I have got a few of them, but since I am planning on sharing just one per blog post, I will continue to do so with this one as well; so for week #8 the game of the week would be 7 Wonders HD; one of those games whose storyline may sound a bit simplistic, but that, as you get immersed in it, you just cannot escape its addiction till you are done with it; it will keep you going for hours and hours without end trying to reach for that final stage where complexity takes a new meaning… And when you get there, you will see what I mean … hehe

And that’s it, folks, for today! The series of blog posts on “My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week” is back with this 8th edition and I am hoping you would enjoy it, just as much as I did putting it together! Oh, oh, and before I forget, there are some more good news coming up to the this blog as well, when very soon I will open up another series of blog entries, pretty much along the same lines as this one, but instead of iPad Apps, I will be talking, and sharing my favourite picks!, about iPhone Apps, now that I have finally re-acquainted myself with some of the wonderful apps I keep using on my iPhone 4, which brings me back into having a rather decent smartphone. So stay tuned for those coming up as well shortly!

… If you can’t wait, you can already have a glimpse of some of them at the usual place: #elsuapps in Twitter. Lots of good fun coming up!

 

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