What cloud-space means for the workplace

There is no doubt that major milestones are being reached in  areas like mobile development, digital content and platform innovation. Telecommuting has never been more viable. Mobile apps like Soonr allow users to work in any workspace they choose by giving them access to the necessary tools to manage projects and work in synch with others.

The Soonr app for the iPhone and iPad connects users with their documents, projects and coworkers to create a synced workspace in the cloud. The app allows access to documents on the users Mac or PC as well as sharing over the cloud from various devices and platforms. The ability to collaborate and stay up to date on projects no matter where you are or what device your on is priceless. The app synchs seamlessly and works like you hpe it would.

Soonr can notify those involved iwth a project or assignment via SMS message or email. Printing, faxing and document sharing are also offered through the service and help make the transition into the mobile project managment space easy. A free trial can be created that gives 2 users access to the Soonr service and  2GB of online storage.


Blackberry’s Playbook: Just Another Tablet

Blackberry recently unveiled their entry for the tablet race of 2011. The Blackberry Playbook is different from other tablets in several key categories including size, shape and content. One of the primary concerns many critics have about this tablet is its lack of content including pivotal apps that other devices, like the iPad 2, would never ship without. The device also appears to be thicker in width than the iPad 2. As indicated by the Blackberry logo written on the bottom of the tablet, the device is meant to be held in the landscape orientation.
The major advantage other tablets have over the playbook is content. The iTunes App Store and Android Marketplace provide users with a variety of applications and these catalogues continue to grow everyday. Android will be playing catch-up with the app market and will need to have a built-in strategy if they plan to go toe to toe with Apple and Google.

Is Android the Best Platform?

The android platform is everything the iOS platform is not. It is not exclusive, open source and allows developers to utilize any features or style they prefer. Although it may have a larger reach because of its in-exclusivity, is it really a better platform?

Some users prefer the iPhones standardized, regulated an intuitive iOS platform. However, many developers claim that their creativity and ideas can be restricted by Apple’s strict developer guidelines. The Andoird platform, on the other hand, is open source and has few restrictions giving app developers total freedom. Users may be catching on, Android is set to take the lead in the US mobile market. Google’s platform has 33% of the mobile market share according to a report released by Comscore. The iOS platform is holding on to its share of the market with 25.2%. While the Android platform can be hosted on a variety of devices, iOS is limited to Apple’s iPhone which makes it more exclusive and harder to expand. It may not have the reach that Android does because of obvious growth limitations that restrict the platform to one device but the iOS platform still has the most quality content for mobile devices.

As Android continues to grow and expand its reach to more and more devices, it will be vital for Apple to competitively position itself in order to remain relevant and cutting edge. The experience users get on iOS devices versus Android devices may very now but as these platforms develop they will both be viable options for all smartphone users. Google has the power and resources to create one of the best mobile platforms it will just be a matter of time before they are able to trump Apples exclusive mobile content.

Get Gamified

Everything from news to upscale luxury fashion brands are applying gamification to their existing models in hopes of attracting new consumers. A recent post by the Gamification Blog explains how luxury brands like Dunhill are getting involved in the game space as a new method for marketing its products. As more and more brands experiment with games in their existing models, we will likely see brand awareness improve for companies that chose to branch out.

At the SXSW Interactive Festival one of the many topics discussed at length was the rapid gamification of various industries and areas that previously had no experience or presence in the gaming world. Christopher Cunningham had an interesting session on applying game mechanics to everyday functions and activities. Although I was unable to attend SXSW this year, trust me that wont happen again, I was able to attend a recent recap at the Reynolds Journalism Institute hosted by Anne Derryberry. Many of the panel members including Jen Reeves shared some interesting information regarding sessions, core topics discussed and of course awesome parties. At the center of all of this discussion was the rapid and unavoidable  gamification of our world. Everything from city governments looking for community involvement to shopping sites looking to attract consumers is finding success by adding game layers to existing models or industries.

Aggregators are Dominating the Mobile Space

Social media and search engines burst onto the internet when innovative college students around the country realized new ways in which the internet could be repurposed to harness content and connect us with the world. In that same fashion, mobile application development is exploding onto devices and its all driven by talented innovators at some of the countries leading universities.

In May of 2010 two Stanford graduates released the Pulse News iPad App which essentially aggregates RSS feeds into a visual publication. The app has an beautiful but simple design that keeps it clean and easy to navigate. The user interface is clean and easy to navigate. For the amount of content it provides, the app feels seamless. Although it is an honorable idea, it wasn’t a huge surprise that applications like this would develop as mobile tablets and devices evolved.

When Jim Spencer came up with the idea for a mobile app that provided multi source video news analysis he made the move back to Columbia, Missouri to partner with his alma mater, The Missouri School of Journalism, to realize his idea. Students in various sequences at the school have the opportunity to intern in almost every position at the start ups headquarters in downtown Columbia. Newsy recently won the 2011 Appy Award for Best News App against stiff competition including CNN and The New York Times. The Newsy also has the highest rated news app for the iPad on the iTunes store. Newsy’s model involves aggregating, analyzing and synthesizing the news in short video segments and it appears to be catching on with many mobile news consumers. The Huffington post went so far as to call Newsy, “the future of mobile news.”

Other successful aggregators in the mobile space include Fluent and Flipboard. Fluent provides users with a variety of headlines from various news outlets on particular news topics. Flipboard takes content from users favorite social media feeds, magazines and defined categories and places all of it into a neat and user friendly magazine format. Apple liked the Flipboard idea and user experience so much that they named it the iPad App of the Year. Aggregators like this are popping up all over mobile app stores and are branching out from news into other areas including social networks and personalized content feeds.

What aggregators will rise above the rest to dominate the mobile space? Mobile users will be the ultimate judge of how effectively these apps are able to simplify the content gathering function.

The Austin Advantage

Austin, Texas is leading the country in new job creation and it has been a hub for innovation and start up companies over the past few years. Recently, Austin was featured on the CBS nightly news for its impressive growth despite the national recession over the past few years. Mobile development has been one of the top forces driving job creation in the Austin area.

Mobile Development Firms like Mutual MobileProAce, Famigo, and Chaotic Moon are leading the industry in application development and could put Austin on the tech map for good. Chaotic Moon is responsible for the development and creation of The Daily, the first iPad exclusive news publication. Audi came to Mutual Mobile in Austin when they needed someone to create and launch an application for their customers. Beyond the traditional consumer mobile application, business to business apps are becoming significantly more popular among large corporations who are looking for simple and effective ways to streamline their everyday activities and functions.

The City of Austin Chamber of Commerce is persuading tech start ups to, “Ditch the valley and head for the hills” as Austin Startup puts its. Dave Porter at the Chamber of Commerce has been tasked with convincing larger companies and tech start ups like to relocate from the expensive and exclusive Silicone Valley in California to the beautiful state capitol of Texas. In order to give companies a motive for moving, the Chamber of Commerce is offering hiring incentives for any new job that is created by these companies.

If mobile development and device usage continues to explode like it has been and is expected to over the next few years, Austin could be positioned to take the title of the Mobile Silicone Valley. Austin provides a robust cultural scene that includes the most live music venues of any city in the world, the famous and notoriously fun Lake Travis, beautiful hill country that allows for a variety of outdoor activities and endless Tex-Mex food.

Updating the iPad – What to expect

I may have missed out on the opportunity to be an owner of the first and original iPad but I will not miss out again when the new iPad is announced on Wednesday March 2. Although Apple has not confirmed or denied that the iPad 2 is in fact being released at the upcoming event, that should come as no surprise to its millions of fans around the world. The tech giant is notoriously secretive and silent about the development and release of its products. However, all signs are pointing to the release of an updated iPad and possibly the new iOS 5 operating system.

There has been rampant speculation around the internet from EngadgetGizmodo and even Newsy.com. Some of these sites have stellar track records for predicting the new features on Apple’s various devices and computers. Based on all the speculation and predictions here is what i expect to see on the new iPad.

  • Slimmer and sleeker exterior design.
  • Front and rear facing cameras (The front is a lock, a back facing camera is still heavily debated. I expect to see two cameras.)
  • Similar/identical resolution and screen size.
  • An updated CPU (the new A5).
  • More RAM

Overall this should be a fairly subtle but necessary update to an already incredible device. The addition of the camera/cameras could should allow Apple to retain its grasp on the tablet market. As competitors like HP and Motorola release tablets touting two cameras and flash capabilities, Apple will have to step up its game and bring as many new updates to the iPad as possible to make it a viable product.