5 Things We Want To See In The iPhone 5

Image Credit: designedbyitem.comWith the iPad 2 release behind us, many are looking forward to the next big thing from Apple. Apple has a history of releasing a new iPhone every summer, so it is widely expected that we’ll see the 5th iteration of the iPhone in the coming months. What will this new version bring? Perhaps only Steve Jobs himself knows for sure. So, if you’re listening Steve, here are 5 things that we’d love to see in the iPhone 5 as business users:

1. Advanced Hardware

We’re thinking specs similar to that of the iPad 2 will do just fine! A faster processor, more RAM, and more graphics power will only help the iPhone 5 to stand out that much more from the competition. While we’re at it, let’s boost the quality of the cameras, add in more storage, and enhance the battery as well. With this kind of extra hardware, we’re bound to see many more advanced apps pop up in the App Store.

Likelihood of this happening? High. With virtually every new product Apple release, we can expect to see some kind of performance boost. The iPhone 5 should be no different.

2. Near Field Communication

Near Field Communication (NFC) is a new technology to cell phones. It allows users to easily transfer information wirelessly when in close proximity to a NFC sensor. This could be especially useful for everything from “checking in” on social media sites to unlocking the secure door at work to paying for dinner with an app from Visa or American Express. Imagine not having to carry a wallet around any more simply because your phone can serve its main purpose digitally!

Likelihood of this happening? It’s hard to say. It has been rumored that the next iPhone will include NFC, but it has also be rumored that it wont. Only time will tell.

3. Wireless Charging

One of the biggest limitations of any smartphone is the battery. Those of us that use our phone constantly know that even with the best battery available, it can be hard to make it through a day without plugging in. We’d love to see a wireless charging dock for the iPhone 5 that allows us to simply set the phone down on a pad to charge it. In between use at our desk, we would be charging our phone without even thinking about it!

Likelihood of this happening? Unfortunately, not that great. The rumor mill hasn’t turned out any hard details regarding anything like this. Additionally, you’d still need to plug in when transferring data at this point so it’s hard to imagine Apple adding a feature that only duplicates an existing (and still necessary) process.

4. Biometric Security

As we store more and more important (and sensitive) information on our phones, adding an extra level of security would be a welcome feature. Adding some sort of biometric security measure, whether it is facial recognition, voice recognition, or a fingerprint scanner, would go a long way in making our phones more secure. Imagine losing your iPhone with NFC capabilities – now you’ve lost your phone and your wallet! Sure, passwords are secure, but biometric recognition is secure and convenient!

Likelihood of this happening? Unlikely. As with wireless charging, this is a feature that has not been mentioned in any of the big rumors. It certainly makes sense to add it, but knowing Apple they would only do so if technology is up to their high standards.

5. iOS 5

Our wish list for iOS 5 could be an entirely new post! However, in the interest of brevity we’ll highlight our two main requests. First, we’d like a better notification system. The current system doesn’t handle multiple notifications well, and with more and more apps using them, Apple needs to do something to improve the system. We’d also love to see widgets. While Apple does a lot of things very well, this is an area in which they need to play catch-up with Android. Widgets on iOS could open up huge potential for increased productivity. Including these two features in iOS 5 would go a long way in making the iPhone a true business-class device!

Likelihood of this happening? We will almost certainly see iOS 5 around the same time as the iPhone 5. Whether or not it includes the above features remains to be seen. The most likely feature we’ll see is an improved notification system. Apple is well aware of the limitations of their current system and is likely taking a serious look at improving them.

 

Now that you’ve read ours, what features do your iPhone 5 wish lists include? Let us know in the comments!

Tablet Faceoff: Motorola’s Xoom vs. Apple’s iPad 2

By now, you’ve no doubt seen countless reviews and comparisons of the Motorola Xoom and Apple iPad 2. They talk about the size, the weight, the features, etc. and post galleries of images and embedded software development for your viewing pleasure. By all means, they are certainly providing helpful information.

That said, I want to compare the two from a productivity standpoint. I want to take a look at the two devices and answer the following question: Which device will allow you to be more productive while on the go?

In order to accomplish this, I’ll be looking at three distinct areas:

1. Tech Specs: Battery life, speed, screen size, etc
2. Usability: Interface design, intuitiveness, etc
3. Compatibility & Expandability: Will it work with my system?

Tech Specs:

The Xoom and iPad 2 aren’t drastically different when it comes to hardware. Both devices have a screen size of ~10” (though the Xoom has a higher resolution), both are running dual-core 1GHz processors, both have front & rear facing cameras, both feature batteries that will last all day, and both share similar dimensions & weight. When it comes down to it, neither device is especially better than the other in terms of tech specs. The Xoom’s screen resolution is a bit higher, its cameras are a bit better, and it will soon support 4G speeds and Adobe Flash. The iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, has higher built-in storage options, sells for less money, and is available on multiple networks.

The Verdict: From a technical specification standpoint, the devices are quite similar when considering mobile productivity. They both offer large screens, they’re both quite portable, and they both have plenty of power to run your mobile office. Everything else aside, it really comes down to personal preference.

Usability:

I am quite impressed with how far Android has come lately. Many of the features found in Android 3.0 are impressive, and the level of customization the device allows is great. Widgets offer at-a-glance information, the freedom to arrange home screens at will allows better organization. Overall, with a small investment of time, the Xoom can be setup to make you extremely efficient on the go. However, it feels surprisingly slow when compared to iOS 4.3 on the iPad 2 – and that’s saying something. I would never have called the Xoom slow before, but setting them side by side shows just how well Apple has optimized their iOS to take advantage of the hardware.

The iPad 2 does not introduce many new features when it comes to usability, but rather optimizes existing ones.  Everything feels even faster than before. Anything that involved more intensive graphics power simply screamed on the iPad. Early testing seems to agree that the iPad 2 is around 2x faster than the Xoom when it comes to graphics power. As a result, everything the iPad does quickly it does beautifully as well, with smooth animations and transitions. It is clear that Apple has invested a lot of time perfecting the experience. This unique experience often translates into a higher level of productivity.

The Verdict: It’s a close call, again. Many users will prefer the level of customization and organization that the Xoom offers. Being highly organized is a crucial part of being productive on the go. On the other hand, the speed that the iPad 2 manages to handle everything you throw at it easily makes up for its more basic organization options.

Compatibility:

Android sets up via Google. iOS, via iTunes. The different setups mean different levels of compatibility, whether with other devices or programs. That said, it’s the apps that can make all the difference.

The iPad 2 supports all existing iOS apps right out of the box. Essentially, if your setup works on an iPhone, iPad 1, or iPod Touch, it will work just fine on the iPad 2. The Xoom has a little catching up to do in this area, simply due to the fact that it’s the first tablet with Honeycomb. Since Honeycomb is the first official tablet version of Android, the platform has some catching up to do. That said, existing Android apps work (even if they’re not optimized for the tablet) and, as such, the Xoom supports most existing Android solutions.

At the end of the day, the more popular solutions will work just fine. For example, DejaOffice works great on both the iPad 2 and the Xoom. A quick install of the app is all it takes to start getting all your contacts, calendars, tasks, and memos over to the tablet.

The Verdict: The iPad 2 wins when it comes to sheer numbers, but the Xoom and Android are quickly catching up.

So Where Does This Leave Us?

It’s actually a close call. Both the Xoom and the iPad 2 have their strengths. So what tablet should you get? Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but in my opinion the winner is the iPad 2. The Xoom is a great product with its powerful customization options and 4G data speeds, and Android 3.0 will only continue to get better. However, I’d have to say that overall the iPad 2 is simply the best tablet currently available. With it’s incredible speed, sleek Apple design, lightweight form factor, and intuitive UI, it has set the bar high for mobile productivity in the tablet market and has left competitors playing catch-up.

Of course, that’s my opinion – I’d love to hear yours in the comments!

AES-256 Security: Now Standard in CompanionLink & DejaOffice


Whether it’s a company requirement, an industry standard practice, or a personal preference, many users find their wireless sync options limited by the lack of secure solutions available to them. Most cloud-based systems are not an option as user data is stored on an outside server. Even local Wi-Fi can be an issue if the data is not securely transferred.

At CompanionLink, we take data security very seriously. Keeping your data in sync is our end goal, but keeping it safe in the process is extremely important as well. That’s why we’re now using AES-256 Security in the latest versions of CompanionLink and DejaOffice for Android (and iOS soon). So just how secure is AES-256 Security? Let’s take a look.

AES stands for Advanced Encryption Standard, and the number 256 refers to the number of bits in the key size. Bits? Keys? I know, it sounds technical – and it is! If you’d like to read up on all the specifics of AES-256 Security, I’ll refer you to other online sources. With that said, let’s get back to explaining just how safe your data is under this security protocol. I’d like to refer to a quote from the Computer Security Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology stating:

“The design and strength of all key lengths of the AES algorithm (i.e., 128, 192 and 256) are sufficient to protect classified information up to the SECRET level. TOP SECRET information will require use of either the 192 or 256 key lengths.”

In a nutshell, the NSA considers AES-256 secure enough to protect TOP SECRET classified information. Data doesn’t get much more secure than that. With AES-256 Security built in, you can rest assured knowing that your data is secure with CompanionLink and DejaOffice!

Do You Own Your Data?

If Google were to completely shut down right now, would you lose anything? There’s no doubt that many of use would lose thousands of important contacts, calendars, emails, and more! In fact, many of us would be left digitally crippled, with irreplaceable information suddenly gone.

Of course, nobody is expecting this to happen. Then again, 3 years ago few Sidekick users would say they expected their service to disappear either. Unfortunately, T-Mobile recently confirmed that on May 31st all Sidekick services will, in fact, be shut down. When this occurs, Sidekick users will no longer have access to the cloud-based system that defined their devices. Users will no longer be able to access their contacts, calendars, notes, and more. Of course, T-Mobile will be offering solutions for migrating this data to other devices, so all is not lost. However, the news brings up an important point: Owning your data is crucial!

While this may not have been true 3 years ago, I’d be willing to bet that many Sidekick users have come to expect this news more recently. Gmail users, on the other hand, don’t expect to lose their data at any time. But that is exactly what happened just a few days ago. Thousands of Gmail users woke up to an empty inbox. While their data has since been restored (thanks to Google’s redundant backup system), many were without access to important information for days. A hit like that can have a serious effect on your productivity, especially if you rely on services like these for work.

All this said, I don’t want to say cloud-based services are bad. On the contrary, I believe they can be amazingly useful. What is bad, however, is entrusting them with the only copy of your data, because at that point it’s not really your data! In order to access it, you need to be connected to the cloud. In the event of service downtime, you are without access to your data. If you can’t access something when you want to, do you really own it?

Whether you decide to simply back up the information or sync your data to another source, I highly recommend taking the steps necessary to make a copy of your cloud-based data. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but if you do you’ll be extremely grateful for the offline copy! So what are you waiting for? Choose to own your data!

The Extinction Of Computers As We Know Them

The only constant is flux.  Nowhere is this more true in today’s world than in mobile technology.  Recently, Motorola released the Atrix 4G phone.  A unique and widely promoted feature of the Atrix is its new “docking” system. This system sows the seeds for yet another paradigm shift in the mobile world.  As if the iPad wasn’t enough.

Imagine this:

The alarm on your phone wakes you up for work.  You jump into the shower and have your phone read aloud the contents of your new email while you bask in the warm water.  You know which emails you can knock out with 140 characters or less.  Your list of 30 emails dwindles to 15 by the time you finish your commute to the office.

In the office, you dock your phone to the peripherals.  Using just one cable, perhaps utilizing Intel’s Light Peak technology, you are able to dock your phone to your office monitor, keyboard, and mouse.  All the apps you need for work are there.  Email, calendar, docs, tasks, notes, file browser, online storage, and more – readily accessible on the device you already carry with you every day.

While working on a new proposal, you get a phone call from your client.  Your screen informs you who it is, and you accept.  While on the call, you are able to refer to files relating to the client, make notes, schedule meetings, and more.  When you are finished, you disconnect, and your previous workspace is restored, exactly as it was prior to the call.

At the end of the workday, you undock your device, put it in your pocket, and go home.

You check email once more before you go to bed.  Instead of pecking at the virtual keyboard on the phone, you dock your phone to your monitor, keyboard and mouse at home.  After responding to an email or two, you undock the phone and head to bed.

You get the idea.

With this paradigm shift, the phone has replaced the laptop.  You have a palm-sized device with multiple CPUs, adequate graphics prowess, robust storage, unlimited entertainment and productivity apps, and the ability to conveniently dock to any set of peripherals, anywhere you are.

It is simply a matter of time before your “pocket computer” becomes your only computer.

The Future of Mobile Computing

Recently, DejaOffice was featured on the IT Management blog Datamation for being among the top 50 free iPad apps for business. We’re thrilled to be on this list, and I recommend you read through it as there are quite a few great apps mentioned! Reading over the article myself, I started thinking about just how far mobile computing has come and where it is heading.

The iPad, for example, offers access to thousands of apps while maintaining an ultra-portable form factor and featuring intuitive touchscreen inputs. As such, I believe that tablets are signaling a paradigm shift for mobile productivity. In my own use, I have found myself using the iPad for things I used to do on the computer or avoided doing on my smaller smartphone screen. For example, if I need to edit or review a document while I am on the go I can simply open it on the iPad, make any necessary comments or edits, and e-mail it off. I am generally able to interact with my iPad more quickly and efficiently than with my smartphone, making me more productive while mobile. I could go on, but the point is simple: I now have a device that gives me the power I need with the mobility I want.

What’s more amazing, however, is the fact that a device like the iPad has only been out for one year. Think about just how far cell phones have come in the last 5 years. If cell phone technology has advanced that far in a few years, just imagine where tablets will go! It is truly an exciting future to think about.