Drop it like it's hot Sync files across your computer, laptop, and iPhone with Dropbox

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 30, 2009 at 1:21 pm

dropbox_logoIt’s a common scenario.   You start a document from your work computer.  Email it yourself (or save to a memory stick) to make further edits from a home computer or laptop.  Email it to a coworker to add their stamp, who it turn emails it to another coworker, and so on and so forth.

At this point, you’ve got multiply versions of the document floating around.  Who knows if what’s made its way back to you is the final version – a dicey situation if that document in question is being sent to a client or used during an important meeting.

That’s where Dropbox for iPhone comes in handy.   Before we discuss the merits of this application, we should look at Dropbox’s core product.   Dropbox is an online file management system.   Users simply drag-and-drop files (documents, images, audio, and video) to a Dropbox folder, which uploads them to secure web server.   All files are accessible through a web browser and any local versions of Dropbox you install.   This could be your work computer, home computer, laptop – and now your iPhone.

The iPhone application is free, but it requires a Dropbox account to work.   Dropbox gives you 2GB for free, and you have the option of upgrading to 50GB for $9.99/month or 100GB for $19.99/month.  Once installed on your iPhone, you have immediate access to all your Dropbox files.   Even better, any photos or videos you take with your iPhone can be added to the Dropbox and automatically synced with your main account.   During my testing, I was impressed with how quickly my computer files synced with my iPhone.   I deposited the iPhone screenshot below in Dropbox and within a matter of seconds, it appeared on my computer Dropbox.

Dropbox iphone App mobile

Dropbox is one of the better – if not best – file management systems I’ve seen.  It’s simple and intuitive to use (seriously, no instructions needed), and it syncs files quickly and automatically (i.e. no orphan documents to worry about). Once your documents are in the Dropbox, you can further organize them into folders and if you choose, share these folders with friends and colleagues.

Upon installation, Dropbox will put an icon in your menu bar, which provides easy access and sharing of your Dropbox files. You can also elect to have notifications through Growl, so you know when a new document has been added and synced with your account.

Dropbox offers the freedom to work on documents from any computer - and not just your own. The local application is Mac, Windows, and Linux compatible.

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  Clean Slate Make whiteboard notes electronically accessible with the Whiteboard Capture iPhone app

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 28, 2009 at 1:26 pm

whiteboard capture logoWhiteboards are still the go-to tool for brainstorming sessions.   Even high-tech geeks like us tend to stick with the original (we have three extra large, double-sided whiteboards on wheels). Problem is, there’s no easy way to transfer information from the physical board to your computer.

That’s where the Whiteboard Capture iPhone App comes in.   This handy dandy application lets you take a snapshot of your whiteboard and easily share the images via email.  Granted, you can do this with any digital camera, but Whiteboard Capture removes the legwork and offers up some great editing tools.

For starters, the application automatically removes the glare that results from the whiteboard’s glossy surface.  You can also remove old marker residue and other marring artifacts, which saves you the hassle in Photoshop later.

The result is a clean, print-ready whiteboard image that you can distribute to team members or email to yourself to upload to your own project management/collaboration software.  If you have old whiteboard images stored away on your phone, you can also filter those with Whiteboard Capture.

Bottom line, some tools work better in the analog world.   If you’re office relies on a whiteboard for meetings, sketching, collaboration, etc, here’s an easy and relatively cheap ($1.99/download) way to make that information electronically accessible.

Beetlebug Software is the development company behind Whiteboard Capture. They have another application under their belt, Picture Me, which uses "facial detection" to snap the perfect iPhone photo. Compulsive iPhone self-portrait takers rejoice!

There are a slew of virtual whiteboard applications for your computer and your phone. Popular project management software, Basecamp, comes with a real-time collaboration tool (they just call them Writeboards).

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  Avast ye scurvy readers! Take a cue from the Pirate Talk iPhone app and target users by their favorite holiday

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 18, 2009 at 1:43 pm

talk like pirate logo

We regularly cover iPhone apps for business and marketing, but we’re not oblivious to the lighter side of the platform.  We’re actually pretty amazed at how a simple – and often trivial – app can be the hottest commodity on iTunes with the right angle.

Take for example the Pirate Talk iPhone app.  This application translates your words and phrases into pirate speak.   It comes preloaded with 180 pirate one-liners (”a doubloon to the man who brings me his head!”) and offers definitions for common pirate terms.  The best part?  This is an audio app.  Just tap on the iPhone’s screen to launch a pirate translator.

Pirate Talk is as mindless and as fun as any application out there, but it has something extra going for it.  Tomorrow, September 19th, is International Talk like a Pirate Day. It’s no coincidence that the latest version of the application was released a week before the holiday.

The idea here is to target a special day, perhaps even an event, when creating an iPhone app.  It doesn’t need a flashy interface or a bunch of moving parts and pieces – just a good theme to help promote it.  For all the scalawags and geeks out there, $.99 is a small price to pay for a bit of amusement.

Unfortunately, I can’t pull the audio from my iPhone, so you can’t hear my “Read Feed Growth or Die! Yaar!” battle cry, but you can watch the app in action below.

Pirate Talk is developed by Bizmosis, Inc. creators of a number of language translator applications (German, French, Italian, Spanish, etc) and other quippy one-liner apps.

You'd be surprised by the amount traffic this obscure holiday receives (60,500/month globally for "Talk Like a Pirate"). People enjoy pirate lore and trivia - and those Disney movies probably didn't hurt, either.

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  Nosey, but in a good way Crowdsource recommendations while you’re on the go with the Aardvark iPhone App

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm

AardvarkYou may recall Aardvark from the Long Nose of Search.   Aardvark is a social search engine that taps into your Facebook account to round up subject-matter experts.

The service has gained a nice following, due in part to a quick turnaround time (questions are typically answered in 5 minutes or less) and the convenience of email and IM chat integration.  The latter has made Aardvark a permanent fixture on my chat.

Keeping with a formula that is obviously working, Aardvark recently rolled out an iPhone application.   The app offers the same question and answer functionality, while taking advantage of the iPhone’s push notification system (users get an alert when their question is answered).  Given that I’m an Aardvark IM user, the app interface is a welcome change of pace.   It’s nice to see (via Facebook profile images) who is asking and answering the questions.  Plus, the app offers a degree of control over when and how you interact with Aardvark.  The IM version has a tendency to pester you with incoming questions if you don’t tell it you’re busy.

So here’s the rundown with Aardvark for iPhone:

  • Ask Tab – Type a question or see your Aardvark question-and-answer history.
  • Answers – Browse open questions from other Aardvark users.  Answer only those you want.
  • Friends – Send out Aardvark invites or see who among your friends has already signed-up.

Aardvark has become my go-to resource for sourcing restaurants and shopping venues.   Having a mobile version is just another layer of convenience.   The ability to ask real people for recommendations when I’m out and about – and to get a response back within 5 minutes – is worth more than the free pricetag for this app.

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When you fire up the Aardvark app, it asks if you would like to use your current location (via the iPhone's built-in GPS), so it can source Aardvark answerers in your area. This is a very handy feature if you're in a new city and trying to get the lay of the land.

Aardvark works like a modern phone tree. It starts out by looking at your Facebook network, then it looks at your network's network, and so on until it amasses a list of people who are qualified to answer your question, based on the information found in their user profile.

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  Insert Scotty joke here Exchange virtual business cards with any phone or computer with the beamME iPhone App

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 1, 2009 at 12:57 pm

beamME logoVirtual business cards have been around for awhile.   iPhone apps may be paving the way (an idea we discussed in It’s all in the reflexes), but how do you exchange information with someone who doesn’t have the same phone as you?

BeamME might have the answer.   This iPhone app lets you “beam” a virtual business card – and more – to any SMS or email-enabled device.  This includes Blackberry, Palm, and Android phones, as well as Mac and PC computers. Instead of reinventing the wheel (or the platform), beamME takes advantage of the popular vCard format.  This means you can sync beamME cards with your existing address book and CRM software.

BeamME comes loaded with features too.  You can create more than one vCard and even exchange other people’s vCards.  If you’ve ever had to pass along a vendor’s information or recommend a colleague, you can imagine how handy this would be.   You can also tag your contacts with the iPhone’s built-in geo-locator.  Can’t remember where you met someone?  Want to make the most of a sales trip by hitting all the leads in a certain area?  BeamME tells you when, where, and how you met someone and creates a contact map for you.

BeamME may be a front-runner in the virtual business card app market.  We’re not the betting type, but where others are limited or exclusive in nature, BeamME is universal.  The only drawback is the subscription fee.  The app, itself, costs $1.99 to download, but you have to pay $4.99/month ($29.99/year) for beamME support and services.

BeamMe has a semi-open API (developers can access it but have to request first). While third parties can't make their own products or applications (which makes this open API a novel concept), they can offer improvements or build new functionality for BeamME.

BeamME offers a lot of customization options. Within the app, you can edit your card or tailor your greeting for the recipient. You can also create a more dynamic online version of your card that includes images and links to social media profiles.

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