Dictionaries define serendipity as “The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way." So it has been for Seattle design firm, Design Commission. What started out as a holiday gift has evolved into three new business lines focused on helping them design and build digital products, like websites, e-commerce applications, and mobile apps.
On Friday Microsoft finally came out with a version of Microsoft Office for iOS. Unfortunately, it's only available on the iPhone (no iPad version). And it's only for users of Office 365, a subscription service that costs $100 a year and lets subscribers install Office apps on up to five computers and mobile devices. Named Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers, the free app includes access to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These aren't full-fledged applications though, and are mainly intended for viewing, making small edits, and sharing files. Of course, you can sync the files with Microsoft's cloud service called SkyDrive.
The syncing features are pretty cool, letting you track where you left off in editing or read a document and show you the location when you open it on another device. The Recent feature in the app shows you a list of Office files that you've opened most recently on your desktop computer.
Walt Mossberg, who writes about technology for the Wall Street Journal, posted a helpful review of iPad productivity suites last week on All Things D. People are increasingly leaving their laptops at home these days when they travel and are using an iPad instead. But that typically entails having some relatively robust software to play the role of those familiar desktop applications: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. No app is going to have all the features of the desktop applications, but most are good at opening and editing files created using these software programs.
In addition to compatibility with Microsoft's offerings, a key issue is file management. On your desktop computer, you organize your files by putting them in folders and access them in these locations. But iOS doesn't have this sort of filing system. So how do you transfer files back and forth between your desktop computer and iPad, and keep the files in sync? The cloud, of course.
Since day one, the free Mailbox app has been hugely popular due to the unique email management features it introduced. With simple swipes left and right, you can quickly organize and clear your inbox. The developer announced yesterday that the app is now available in a version tailored to the larger screen of the iPad.
The app has more than 1 million users, who value Mailbox's mission of getting to "inbox zero." The company claims that 40 percent of its users get to that laudable state at least once a week.
The iPad version is similar to the one for the iPhone, but takes advantage of the larger screen by offering a bigger box for composing emails and by using a menu drawer that opens beside your inbox rather than replacing it.
While the App Store has a number of iOS applications for writing scripts, I haven't found much for the poetically inclined. I've been left to use the Notes app to jot down haikus on the go.
But a Kickstarter project by visual artist Seth Indigo Carnes aims to change that with his soon-to-be-released iOS app, iheart poetics. This application is designed to create and share interactive visual poems, which combine compelling text and vivid imagery. You have the option to begin with text, ranging from one word to a full poem you've composed. Once written, you can superimpose an image. Once complete, you can share it via email, MMS, Facebook, and Twitter.
Moxtra (free) brings together real-time collaboration and personal knowledge management in an app designed to help people collect their artifacts of work or play. Moxtra lets you not only share your projects with others, but work on them together across a variety of mobile modalities. Many people compare Moxtra to Evernote or to Microsoft’s OneNote, and to be honest, there are overlaps.
There is nothing new about collaboration. Lotus Development, now part of IBM Corporation, created the first large-scale enterprise solution with Lotus Notes. Developers designed and built Lotus Notes and all other current collaboration solutions during the era of client-server computing, where internal servers hosted databases accessed by desktop computers. We now live in a post-PC world where devices need different tools and workers have widely different expectations.
In iView—my inside, back-cover column in iPhone Life magazine—I discuss David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” organizational and time management scheme in the July/August 2013 issue. In the article, I briefly summarize Allen’s thinking and suggest iPhone, iPad, Mac, and PC software to best implement it. Since writing the article, I’ve settled on Evernote (free), and am quite pleased with it.
Here, I will post much of the article and will add more information about Evernote. If you would like to comment and add knowledge from your experience with the software, that would be great.