Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Now Multi-Device - My Connected Life in the Clouds

In what now seems like the distant past, previously everything that I did with digital content  typically revolved around just one multifaceted device, with various local storage options – that was my laptop PC with a variety of USB memory sticks and a couple of mobile hard drives.

Today, I’m embracing a different Digital Lifescape – one that includes multiple device types, where much of the content that I produce is stored in the cloud. In fact, while some apps do everything on my mobile device, an increasing number of software applications that I use also reside within the cloud.

Sharing content with friends, family or business associates are easier to do when it’s all stored in the cloud. In the legacy PC era, I used to send small files via email as attachments and use snail-mail for collections of larger files that were on a CD-ROM disc or flash memory drive.

Today, I merely change the access privileges for the content asset that I want to share and point the person(s) to the location in the cloud. If I make edits to the digital content, I update the version in the cloud and alert people that are interested.

There's less uploading and downloading -- by default, it's often created and consumed within the cloud.

We all take this typical scenario for granted. It’s a huge personal productivity enhancement. Besides, this is just a small sample of what the future really holds in store for us.


The Chromebook and Media Tablet Comparison

Mobile device app and hosted application synchronization make the multi-device environment a much more productive experience for me. My mobility application scenario includes using a Samsung Chromebook and a Google Nexus 7 tablet. The following are my cloud use cases for these two products.

I’ve been using the chromebook for more than a year now. It’s equipped with Wi-Fi and 3G cell broadband access, but I’ve never needed to activate the bundled Verizon Wireless mobile data service. Most of the time, I use it while I’m connected to my wireless home network. Although I have also used it at local coffee shops and other public venues.

I have taken the chromebook to several conference events where I knew that Wi-Fi was readily available. Compared to my notebook PC, the chromebook weighs less and lasts much longer on a single battery charge. As an early adopter of Google applications in the cloud, the integration with this device is a bonus.

That being said, the fast start-up from an off-state and the instant-resume has been a significant benefit to my workflow – because I sometimes have story ideas that require me to quickly research a topic online. In fact, the chromebook consistently boots in less time than the tablet (not what I had expected).

The current use cases that drive the most daily activity are checking email and skimming the content from the numerous RSS feeds that I subscribe to via Feedly. That’s a big part of my routine.

But here’s where the chromebook outshines the tablet – the real full-size keyboard enables me to easily create content, as a direct result of consuming a variety of online digital media.

Initially I experimented with lots of different Google chrome apps, but settled on just a couple dozen that are proven to increase my productivity.

I’ve had the tablet for a few months now and I really appreciate the small size and improved portability. It’s used less frequently, by comparison. Regardless, I find that it’s superior to the chromebook when I’m more inclined to casually browse news sources. Moreover, I prefer the user experience of android apps that are optimized for reading on a smaller screen.

Flipboard and Pulse are my two favorite apps for finding and reading long-form editorials. The TED and YouTube apps are perfect for finding and viewing both long-form and short-form video content, respectively.

The Google+ and LinkedIn apps enable me to stay in sync with all the latest happenings from the creative people that I follow and the global contacts within my professional network. Google Talk and Hangouts are perfect for impromptu chats and the Skype app works well for pre-scheduled or more formal video communication.

The geo-location and proximity features of the tablet offer some unique benefits – I’ve experimented with the Google Local and Google Navigation apps, and I’m looking forward to testing a couple augmented reality apps. However, to date I’ve used the tablet mostly at home (that’s actually contrary to what I had imagined).

In summary, my connected life in the clouds has given me the opportunity to appreciate that each mobile device category clearly has its own merits and shortcomings. Given my own experience thus far, I recommend both the chromebook and media tablet to anyone who has similar needs to the ones that I’ve shared.