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Monday, January 13, 2014

4 Cloud Apps that simplify the workflow and simplify your life!

4 Cloud Apps that simplify the workflow and simplify your life!

There has been so much talk about the cloud these days that if your head is not in the cloud then there is a problem. Ok, lets get back to the ground here and see what all this means. Simply, cloud based apps denote that the actual software application and or its storage (or both) are stored in a hard drive not on your device. The increase in tablets, smartphones, netbooks, ultrabooks and lots of data is causing a problem with data storage. This is a huge issue if your 16GB smartphone or tablet cannot compete with your 750GB hard drive on your ancient laptop.

Here are some great cloud apps that I am using more and more in order to connect to my data from any device, anywhere and anytime (I have internet access).

The important thing to remember is if you are camping up north or at your aged parents house – the internet may not be available to access these apps. Yes, that’s right the internet is “the last mile” between your device and the cloud app and its storage.

Google Docs
Google offers a free browser based word processing app. Just log into your Gmail account and check in the apps section for Google Drive and there you will find free apps to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms and even drawings. Use Google Drive to share these files with other devices. Take advantage of your Samsung Chromebook to create documents and then use the drive app to complete the work on your tablet while at a Starbucks. You can also edit the document from your smartphone while in line at the CIBC (using the Bell provided wi-fi and thus saving your data use on your TELUS smartphone).
The programs are as easy to use as OpenOffice or Microsoft Office but do lack the sophisticated features the former offers.This Google Cloud stuff is really versatile and you can do things your laptop at home in its carrying bag cannot do for you.

When I log into my Gmail account, I can now also log in just as easily into my YouTube account. I find I am using this visual medium more and more to view reviews and as well to post my reviews and report on some activities I have organized (TEDxYouth@Vaughan and TEDxVaughanWomen). I am able to use my Samsung Note 3, iPhone 4, iPad or traditional Nikon cameras, (my son will not let me use his GoPro Hero 3 as of yet) to shoot the video. Some newer cameras allow uploading into YouTube automatically, but I suggest using iMovie or a similar editor first to clean them up. I am working on a mobile vlogger tool that will allow better audio and lighting attachments to be installed.

Like photos, video can be a big differentiator for those using Social media to increase demand generation and brand presence. Real estate agents have already figured it out but I am seeing an uptick in business using it to connect with, educate and better inform potential customers. This is more important as the web savvy consumers seek to engage better with the brands they love and those they don’t know exist yet. Video is a strong way to connect with audiences but make sure they are well produced and tell a story.

I am new to this app but it has some excellent possibilities in creating dynamic slide based presentations. It is a very visual and non-linear medium that can reduce the amount of “Death by Powerpoint” tragedies. The free version allows only a 100MB of storage but those that take the time to master the application will find the $5 a month fee to be very reasonable. The completed Prezi presentations can be stored on-line and shared or used offline as well. It has some great templates to use right out of the login.

This app provides file storage, sharing and back up features at a monthly price. Every device that needs access to a shared file storage area needs an app to be loaded. Now you can store files in the cloud and have access to them from any device. I prefer to use Google Drive as it has more free storage 15GB versus 2GB. However, it does offer online back ups and better file sharing features that may be of interest to you. No need to carry everything around on a USB stick that wont work with a tablet or smartphone.

I like FREE and these apps do exactly that and will make you more productive and provide access to your working files from any device especially as we have become a multi-device consumer. Give them a try and see if they can help you simplify your life.

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