As we noted in the first part of this post, “Mobility, It Is All About the Ecosystem and #GiftsThatDo“, Best Buy has launched a special and invited us to serve as one of their mobile technology and gadget experts for this Holiday Season. I put together an extensive list of gear we have reviewed on the site, and that Judie and/or I use on a daily basis, and then I set about shortening the list.
My first post (read it here) began by stating:
I tried to remain platform agnostic, but I ended up with a list that is more than a bit Apple-centric. Thinking about why this is the case presented me with some clarity about the approach I currently take to mobile gear. The bottom line is this: when all of your devices are part of the same ecosystem, when it matters little WHICH device you have with you at any given time since ALL of them work in tandem with the others, then you have truly achieved mobile-nirvana.For example, if I can create a task list on my iPhone and also have it appear on my iPad and MacBook I don’t have to so much as think about which device I bring with me. Similarly, if I were to start this article at home on my MacBook — and then left home, being able to continue to write it on my iPad mini it — once again- matters little which device or devices I am carrying.
In this post, I want to delve more deeply into some of the ways the gifts on the final list can help you do more. First, lets run down the list of items. You can read the details about this list, here, on the “Gifts That Do” promotion page.
On the final list are the iPhone 5, the new iPod touch, the new iPad mini and . The accessories that help me get the most out of these items include the Jawbone JamBox or the Jabra Solemate (depending upon which I grab on a particular day), the MyCharge Powerstation, the Plantronics Voyager Legend and the SMS Audio STREET by 50 Cent.
This is just about the list the gear I brought with me on vacation, and I thought I would walk through how these items become useful when, for example, I was writing this post while sitting at the pool.
I started this post when I was still in New Jersey; the first rough outline of it was done on my iPhone while I was waiting for an appointment. I used Siri to dictate the approach I planned to take into the stock Apple notes app. While the stock notes app is rather anemic, it does get the job done; thanks to iCloud, my notes are then integrated into all of my Apple devices.
Tip: Whenever possible, I use dictation. It is fast and mostly accurate. And I've found that the more you use it, the better you will get at dictating in a manner that can yield the best possible options.
Tip: I always prefer apps that integrate with iCloud over those that are “standalone” apps. When an app is integrated with iCloud I get the dual benefits of knowing my work is backed up (iCloud isn't a backup system by design, but it does save your work to the cloud so it no longer resides ONLY on your device). I also enjoy being able to work on the same version of a document regardless of which device I pick up, thanks to iCloud.
Tip: I realize that using Siri to dictate is a learned skill; I've found that it works best when I speak slowly and over-articulate my speech. Yes, I do sound a bit robotic but speaking this way tends to yield better results. Dictating in a quiet environment is always best, but regardless of the setting I have had better results when I used a headset. I love the easy and comfort of the Plantronics Voyager Legend and the style of the SMS Audio STREET by 50 Cent. In other words, headsets aren't just for privacy and safety, they can also be used to enhance your dictation. If you want these iOS gifts to Do More, it is worth trying a few different headsets.
Although I began this post at home, I am now in Aruba for the week finishing the first draft. My iPhone is now turned off and in the hotel safe. While I know I can turn off the cellular data and not incur any of AT&T's insane international roaming charges, I always find that the best and safest approach is to shut it down entirely. Because my work was saved in iCloud, I was able to take out my iPad mini, turn it on, log into the hotel's WiFi and… bam… the work I did at home on the iPhone was right here on the mini.
The iPad mini comes everywhere with me now. When I first ordered it, I expected it to augment my 9.7″ iPad. But as I recently noted in a post, the iPad mini is seeing far more use than the larger tablet. It is light, portable, fast, and it gets amazing battery life. The ONLY downside of the mini when compared to the larger iPad is the lack of a retina screen and, quite honestly, I have quickly gotten used to it. Best of all, I don't find the mini slows me down a bit; to the contrary, because it is with me all the time I actually get more done with the mini than I ever did with the full iPad.
Before we left home, I picked up a ZaggKEYS FLEX at BestBUY.
The keyboard is letting me work just as quickly on the mini as I wold on a laptop. I love the fact tht the FLEX comes with a protective case that doubles as a stand. I also appreciate how it works with both iOS and Android devices. I am pretty centered on iOS devices right now, but I always like to remain as open as possible for review purposes. I am also finding that I can type as quickly on the FLEX as I can on any other keyboard; the entire set up is pretty impressive.
Tip: If you are going to use your smartphone or tablet for productivity, invest in a Bluetooth keyboard. It will let you get much more done on the go without adding too much bulk or weight.
I did bring my MacBook down with me, and — like my iPhone and iPad — it is fully integrated into iCloud and functions as part of the larger ecosystem. And while I could have gotten away with carrying just the iPad, I wanted the MacBook with me for batch editing of photos; otherwise, I expect that it will see little to no use this week. That also speaks to the power of Apple's mobile devices and their ability to works seamlessly together.
And speaking of photos, Apple's PhotoStream is yet another reason to work within a single device ecosystem. PhotoStream means that any picture I take on any of my devices will also be available on all of my iOS and Mac OS X devices within seconds. In other words, PhotoStream does for pictures what iCloud does for notes.
With iOS 6.0, the new mobile operating system that is on all currently shipping iOS devices, you can share PhotoStreams. That means I can invite Judie, Carly and Mike to share a single stream of images. Why would I want to do this? Think about this: with Shared PhotoStreams, I can write the text of a post and simply drop the relevant pictures into the shared stream. That lets the other Gear Diary editors have complete access to them and, as a result, we can work collaboratively on posts.
Finally lets talk about speakers. I debated whether I should bring the JawBone JamBox or the Jabra SoleMate with me. I finally decided on the SoleMate because of its rugged construction, water-resistant design, and “play-through” carry bag. The SoleMate is perfect to use at the pool or the beach. What does this have to do with “doing more”? Nothing. And that's the point. Sometimes doing more means doing less.
We have at coming up tonight, Wednesday Dec. 12 at 8:30pm EST during which we'll discuss these gifts and some of the apps that will help make you more productive on the go. Best Buy will also be providing us with four $25 Best Buy gift cards that we'll give away during the chat. Watch for more details.