Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Day in the Life with Android (Part 2)

In Part 1 I reviewed the hardware accessories for my Nexus 7 tablet, as well as one set of apps that I use for work; let's call them my "business" apps for now. Though the dividing line as to whether an app is business or entertainment can be blurry at best, given the nature of some of these apps....

With this blog post I want to cover the utilities that I use on a day-to-day basis. Again, in most instances, they can be used for both business and entertainment.

As is the case with Chrome and Gmail, mentioned in Part 1, many of these apps can be installed in some fashion as both an Android and a Windows app, allowing them to be synced across all devices. In a lot of ways, it's like having my desktop and laptop at my fingertips wherever I'm at, as long as my Nexus 7 is in hand (and a wireless connection is available).

Pocket, formerly "Read It Later," is one of those essential apps that appears regularly on "best of" lists. Pocket allows you to save a website, or just the URL, or a tweet, or blog post, or -- pretty much anything -- with the ability to read it later, WiFi connected or not. I also have the Pocket Windows add-on installed on the Chrome browser on my desktop and laptop: I can save an online short story to Pocket on my desktop and read it later on the Nexus 7.

Evernote is like One Note in Windows 7, but far less complicated, and thus easier to use; and, unlike One Note, Evernote can be installed and synced across all devices. Any text and graphic can be saved to Evernote; it's for notetaking, lists, essays, drafts, whatever.

Clipper - Clipboard Manager stores my 20 most recent clips, or copies, so that nothing is lost from the clipboard. The clips can then be stored in lists with an unlimited number of clips; clippings can be searched; and, under Android Jelly Bean, the clipboard manager is accessible from the notification bar.

With the N7 I can make outgoing telephone calls and send SMS text message; however, since it is not a mobile phone, the N7 cannot receive calls. I use Talkatone free calls & texting. Talkatone also requires a free Google Voice account for incoming calls: if a voice call is sent to my N7, the call gets routed automatically to another number of my choice that is able to accept incoming calls (this number must be provided when the Google Voice acct is set up); if a text msg is sent to my N7, it is automatically routed to my Gmail account.

Battery Widget? Reborn! Pro and Easy Battery Saver: I use these two apps to manage my battery usage. The N7 battery, at least in my few months of experience, requires frequent battery charges, so I rely on Easy Battery Saver to monitor and control the battery usage, and the widget to keep me informed of same. The widget maintains a graph in the notification bar, showing usage and hours remaining or charging time.

ES File Explorer File Manager allows me to manage the Local files and folders in /sdcard/ on the N7, as well as move files to/from LAN (aka cloud) folders, and even connect to my laptop via Bluetooth.

Though ES File Explorer has backup capability, I opted for a backup-specific app: My Backup Pro, which allows me to backup and restore all of my apps and data, or just the data (app data, contact list, photos, vids, music, calendar entries, etc.). Since all of my apps are maintained in the cloud, I choose to only backup data. Rerware, the developer, provides 100MB of free space for backups (though additional space can be purchased).

Open Garden allows me to create a wireless hub via Bluetooth for use by other devices (and other people); Open Garden must be installed on all the devices. When traveling I connect my ASUS Zenbook to a network using a T-Mobile Rocket 4G USB stick. With Open Garden installed on both the Zenbook and the N7, I can "tether" the N7 to the T-Mobile network.

And speaking of "the cloud," with only 16GB of memory in the N7, using the cloud whenever possible becomes a necessity. In order of appearance above: Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive (Microsoft Corp.), and Bitcasa. Each of these cloud services provides a certain amount of free space (additional space may be purchased), and with each service installed on all my devices, my data is available to me everywhere.

[Update 02/26/2013: At this point in time I would strongly suggest that you not use the Bitcasa cloud service. Bitcasa has the capability to "mirror" a folder -- or even a computer's full hard drive, as I have unfortunately learned -- in the cloud so that you can access and sync files from everywhere. Great idea, until it goes wrong. I accessed my online Bitcasa account only to discover that my laptop's entire hard drive had been mirrored. I never selected this option, I never authorized this option, and yet, there it is. I immediately removed Bitcasa completely from that laptop and from all my other devices. Now all my laptop data, including personal data, resides on Bitcasa's cloud server -- and I cannot delete any of the files! I no longer have control of that data. If you read the Bitcasa forums, you'll find that many others are having the same, or similar, issue -- and we are all anxiously awaiting some type of resolution. In the meantime, if you need additional cloud storage I would suggest the following service.

Box cloud service, like other cloud services, can be installed, accessed, and synced across all devices. A new Box account comes with 5GB of free space, though Box occasionally runs promotions, which is how I snagged 25GB when I installed the Android app. Box has also partnered with other services to allowing greater flexibility with your Box account.

End of Update]

I provide some technical support for a bookseller in Southern California, approximately 400 miles away. Occasionally he gets himself in a predicament on his Windows pc that requires my assistance. With TeamViewer installed on both of our computers, I am able to access his desktop remotely. He launches the software, which provides an ID and password; I then enter that ID and pw on my end and, as long as we are both networked (and obviously not on the same network), I can access his desktop and attempt to resolve the issue. I have the TeamViewer Android app installed on the N7 just in case I receive a "help" call when I'm away from home.

A Day in the Life with Android
Continued in Part 3

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