Is the Fire Phone for business users?

This review focuses on business productivity with the Amazon Fire Phone.

TLDR Version: Fire Phone’s stock apps for Email, Contacts, Calendar, and Tasks are amateurish when compared to Galaxy S5. A shadow behind every text heading that changes dynamically with phone movements will annoy business users. The 3D Dynamic Perspective feature, while cool, distracts from flat-design principles the mobile industry is pivoting to.

One clever feature on Fire Phone is snippets on the homescreen. You can see 2-3 recent emails on the homescreen. This snippet area is app-specific, so useful snippets show on the homescreen for every app. Saves a lot of time.

Fire Phone packs new software and visuals but lacks the streamlined experience business users expect from $200 phones like Samsung or HTC. Future versions of Fire Phone will, undoubtedly, arrive more polished. Hat tip to Amazon for foraying into competitive territory and establishing their unique mark based on software.

Business category missing on Amazon Appstore

While the Appstore has categories, it fails to include a category for Business. Huh? Android historians will recall early versions of Android Market (now Google Play Store) also lacked a Business category. Perhaps this will come with time.Amazon Appstore has no Business category

 

Stock Calendar app

Fire Phone’s stock calendar app is sleek and mirrors the Galaxy S5. The one drawback in Month view is that you cannot determine how many appointments you have for a given day without tapping on the day and entering Day view. On GS5, each appointment comes with a snippet so you know at a glance how busy your day is.

Multiple appointments are hard to see on Fire Phone Calendar Month view

Adding a Calendar Event

Both devices have common appointment fields like Start/End times, Location, and Attendees. The GS5 lets you select Timezone, which might be important to travel warriors.

Also, the Location field on GS5 has a Google Maps icon that lets you use a map to pick a location. Fire Phone’s Location field is text entry.

Fire Phone stock calendar app missing Timezone

Email snippets on your home screen

Fire Phone has a clever homescreen snippets feature that shows your latest email messages. Because Fire Phone use a carousel theme on the homescreen, they use the space below the app icon to show you snippets related to your app. The carousel for Settings, for example, will show you popular settings.

Fire Phone shows email snippets on home screen

Fire Phone’s email app borrows font-styling from iOS and is better than most stock Samsung or HTC mail apps. I was able to set up my Outlook.com account in seconds. ActiveSync accounts are fully supported, as this BusinessInsider article confirms.

Fire Phone's email app uses text styling similar to iOS

Homescreen slider menu

Swipe on the left edge of the homescreen on Fire Phone and a convenient slider emerges. You can access popular features of your phone right from this menu. What kills the experience is the 3D texture behind the letters. As you can see from this image, it adds a subtle layer of “blur” around the text which may drive business users nuts.

Fire Phone homescreen slider menu

Mayday is responsive, as you would hope

Fire Phone’s personal help feature works. I was able to get “Steven” online with me in less than 30 seconds. During the wait, a message reassures me that Mayday only shares my screen and not anything through my forward-facing camera.

The reaction from the business community will be interesting to monitor. On one hand Mayday is a lifesaver for professionals who need to fix something immediately. On another hand, being one-click away from someone viewing what’s on your screen may be troubling. You decide.

Fire Phone Mayday is responsive

Final thoughts

Fire Phone v1 is naive for business users. If you like the latest technology and a new spin on software gimmicks, try it out. You might enjoy their fresh approach. If you want a mature Android phone, the Galaxy S5, HTC One, or a similar Android unit earns my $200.

How to Sync Samsung Galaxy S5 with Outlook

“Even though we’re doing the software business, we’re not as good as we are in hardware,” said Kwon Oh-hyun, vice chairman and chief executive of Samsung Electronics.

A big problem for Samsung is maintaining software that synchronizes with desktop Microsoft Outlook. Their KIES product ran into great trouble when it omitted sync for Outlook Contacts and Calendar. Those who have tried KIES are left demanding the “rest of their Outlook data” – like tasks, notes, alarms, and categories.

If you use Outlook, you’ll want an advanced Outlook app for GS5 that lets you access your full Outlook database. You’ll want a guarantee that when you update records on your phone, they also update MS Outlook on your PC.

Will the fifth incarnation of the Galaxy S device muster enough software wizardry to make Outlook sync easy? In the past, Samsung has been off the mark, as noted by Marc Saltzman in his review on USAToday.com. He turned to CompanionLink to solve his Android sync problems.

The components of reliable Outlook sync

One key driver of CompanionLink’s reliability is that we develop our own Android app to hold the Outlook data structures. Our app, DejaOffice for Outlook, lets us establish a one-to-one map with Outlook data fields. You can also integrate Outlook data stored DejaOffice with the Galaxy S5’s Contacts and S Planner if you have other apps that rely on these stock Android apps.

Galaxy S5 Outlook Sync

More than one way to sync Outlook with GS5

If you value data privacy and prefer not to host your client notes or address book in the cloud, CompanionLink offers the USB connected sync option. Simply dock the Galaxy S5 to your PC and synchronize in a cloud-free environment. Your data never leaves the wired connection between you PC and S5.

If you have multiple devices (GS5, Galaxy Note 3 tablet, Apple iPad, etc.) and wish to automate the sync across all devices, you can select the DejaCloud option that comes with CompanionLink paid licenses. The cloud ensures data is automatically updated on all PCs and devices using the same account.

If you want the convenience of hands-free sync with the security of a cloud-free system, chose the WiFi sync option. This setting automatically pairs your S5 with the PC running Outlook using your WiFi connection. Your phone and PC must be on the same WiFi network (like in your home or office).

More information about Galaxy S5 Outlook sync is available here.

Newkia can thrive by filling the business feature void on smartphones and tablets

Newkia, the new Singapore-based endeavor with plans to siphon Nokia’s Finnish talent to build Android devices, has its heart in the right place. Had Nokia heeded popular advice and supported Android OS, they would probably still be around as a company that builds phones. They chose to become the near-exclusive manufacturer of Windows Phone, a decision that earned Nokia’s C-brass a fortune in the Microsoft acquisition while thousands of employees and avid followers were stranded. Not to mention the hit on the economy in Finland (here’s another great article on that topic).

Smartphones are remarkably dumb with business functionality

CompanionLink has long championed the message for the need for a smartphone with business features. We even built our own business-focused mobile app because we saw this gap. Android and iPhone operate exceedingly well with video, social media, and web browsing. But they lack advanced functionality that business users relied on with legacy Palm Treo devices. For example: an address book that shows more than 8 contacts per screen; a notes app that intelligently links to people in the address book; a task manager that fits productivity philosophies like Getting Things Done and Franklin Covey; and full integration with PC apps like Microsoft Office and Lotus Notes where business people spend 50% of their day.

OPPORTUNITY ALERT FOR NEWKIA: build business productivity into the fabric of your product roadmap. If you need help with this when building your PIM applications, please call us. We’d love to help.

Business users held tremendous hope that Palm webOS would fill this void. The first Palm organization defined mobile productivity. When that failed, business people refocused their hopes on BlackBerry 10. Q3/2013 sales showed BlackBerry sold more legacy devices than phones running on the new OS 10 platform. Yikes!  The Address Book, Calendar and Apple-inspired Remember apps weren’t anything like what business users expected from their BlackBerry.

Newkia appears to have taken a giant leap in the right direction by acquiring a CEO,  Urpo Karjalainen, who understands the business of mobile business.  Mr. Karjalainen served as BlackBerry’s head of business operations for Asia and worked another 20 years at Nokia.

How to sync Samsung Galaxy Note3 with Microsoft Office Outlook

We’ll show you how easy it is to sync Samsung Galaxy Note3 with Microsoft Outlook. It takes less than 10 minutes to set up. Get your full Outlook data set to your Note 3; contacts, calendar, tasks, notes, categories, journal, alarms and reminders, and contact photos.

CompanionLink automates the sync process with three simple configuration steps.

How to sync Note 3 with Outlook

First, make sure our software is right for you. CompanionLink is right for you if you are looking for:

  1. Complete Outlook data. We sync Outlook contacts, calendar, tasks, notes, journal, categories, alarms and reminders, and contact photos.
  2. USB, WiFi, or Cloud sync. We let you choose how to sync Galaxy Note 3 with Outlook.  Some prefer the security of cloud-free USB or WiFi sync. Others prefer the convenience of Cloud sync. We let you choose.
  3. Plug-and-play experience. Just connect your Galaxy Note 3 to your computer. The sync should begin automatically once CompanionLink is configured.
  4. No drivers required. Our sync does not require downloading of messy ADB drivers, hard resets of your Note 3, duplications, switching to Mass Storage Mode, or lost data during the sync.
  5. Outlook-like experience on Note III. We offer a free app for Note 3 called DejaOffice.  It is designed to hold all Outlook data in one app (contacts, calendar, tasks, notes, alarms, reminders, categories, journal, and contact photos).  Our app encrypts this data so no one can access it even if your phone is lost.

Samsung devices ship with free software to sync Galaxy Note3 with Outlook. Many users report frustration with this option and problems with Outlook data corruption. If you don’t want to risk this with your data, CompanionLink is for you. We even offer free US-based phone support if you ever need help or have questions.

An additional level of security we offer for business customers is through our $49 RunStart package where our team of experts handle the setup for you. This is a wonderful service for people short on time or those unwillingly to risk losing many years worth of valuable data.

Steps for Outlook to Galaxy S3 sync:

  1. Install our CompanionLink for Outlook product to your PC. It is free to download and try for 14 days. Or, just buy it for a low one-time cost of $49.95 for uninterrupted sync. We offer a full money-back guarantee if you don’t like it.
  2. Download our free DejaOffice app for Outlook on your Note 3. It is available from the Google Play store. Our app holds the Outlook data that you synchronize.
  3. Synchronize using CompanionLink. Choose from Direct USB Sync, WiFi Sync, or our DejaCloud wireless sync with AES 256-bit encryption. All three sync options are secure.

That’s all there is to it! Yes, it’s really that simple to sync Microsoft Outlook to Galaxy Note 3. Give it a try and please share your feedback below.

CompanionLink supports the invasion of Samsung Galaxy S4 Devices

Samsung has announced or launched four Galaxy S4 devices in the past 60 days: Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 Mini, Galaxy S4 Zoom, and Galaxy S4 Active. While there is little or no common denominator from a design perspective, you can’t blame Samsung for trying to capitalize on their marketing dollars devoted to Galaxy S — the most popular Android brand. CompanionLink supports synchronization with the entire line of S4 devices. CompanionLink can synchronize one device to another, sync PC applications like Outlook with S4, or sync cloud applications like Salesforce CRM, Highrise, and Zoho CRM.

The Galaxy S4 is the flagship phone. Samsung markets it as a Life Companion to emote new fun features like Dual Shot for simultaneous front-and-back pictures, S Translator for spoken language translation, and Smart Pause for intelligent pausing of video when you look away.

The Galaxy S4 Mini is a smaller version of the Galaxy S4. It’s screen is 4.3-inch compared to the S4’s 5-inch screen size. Other specs on the S4 Mini are RAM also different than the S4. Here’s a full list of differences.

The Galaxy S4 Zoom sports a 16MP camera and optical zoom lens.

The Galaxy S4 Active is a certified water-resistant and dust-resistant device marketed as the perfect companion for the beach, pool, camping, or people on the go.

Samsung spent more on marketing their mobile devices than Apple last year, and they are reaping the benefits of extending

BlackBerry 10 wants you to manage Tasks with Priorities

Q: What’s a task list without priorities?
A: Just a list.

Let’s just say the late Dr. Stephen Covey might not approve of this.

BlackBerry 10 ships with an app called Remember that nicely organizes notes and tasks in one slick app. Think “Evernote meets [plug in any of the millions of Tasks apps available]”.

But the Remember app misses the mark on one key principle of any task management philosophy – prioritizing tasks!

The Remember app groups things into notebook icons. Each “notebook” can hold items like photos, lists, tasks, and web links. But the treatment for Tasks is like a plain text note – there are no task-focused features like priorities, recurring tasks, or task alerts.

Microsoft Outlook users will especially find this confusing because Outlook ships with task-focused features out-of-the-box. In fact, these features are what makes “task management” philosophies work because they require you to take a large set of things to do and organize them by priority.  Task management = prioritization.

If you want a Task Manager that works lock-step with your Outlook Tasks – including Task Priorities, Categories, and Alarms – download the free DejaOffice app for BlackBerry 10.

Sync Outlook with BlackBerry

One question which remains unanswered for many business professionals who use Outlook and have a BlackBerry Z10 is “How do I sync Outlook with BlackBerry?” For Exchange Server users, this process is greatly simplified via ActiveSync. Exchange allows calendar, contacts and email to be directly integrated, with no additional software required.

But what of business oriented BB10 users who utilize Outlook without Exchange?

Sync Outlook with BlackBerry via USB or Cloud

CompanionLink offers two solutions for this scenario, as detailed below– Direct synchronization, and synchronization utilizing web-based services such as Gmail or Outlook.com.

  1. Directly sync Outlook with BlackBerry contacts, calendar, tasks, notes, and categories:
    1. Install CompanionLink for Outlook onto your Windows PC.
    2. Set the sync method to either DejaCloud wireless sync or Direct USB.
    3. Configure email directly on the BB10 device, with POP3 or IMAP.
  2. Sync Outlook to Gmail or Outlook.com, and then set up your BB10 accounts:
    1. Install CompanionLink for Outlook.
    2. Set CompanionLink to sync with either Google or Outlook.com, depending on which service you plan to use.
    3. Set up your BB10 device with your Gmail or Outlook.com account (Settings > Accounts > Email, Contacts, Calendar).

Why Direct Sync Between Outlook and BlackBerry is Preferable

CompanionLink recommends direct sync (solution 1 above), as solution 2 has the following drawbacks:

  1. Your Outlook data will be hosted on Google, a company that makes money from targeted advertising.
  2. Your data will not map one-to-one with fields offered in Google’s interface, possibly leading to data corruption.
  3. Your data may be altered every time Google changes their web-based system.

Detailed information regarding sync options with BlackBerry 10 devices and Outlook is available on CompanionLink’s BB10 webpage.

 

S4 Outlook Sync

CompanionLink will support Galaxy S4 Outlook sync from day one. Because most Galaxy devices do not ship with reliable Outlook sync software, CompanionLink’s products are used by thousands to synchronize Outlook contacts, calendar, tasks, notes, journal, categories, and contact photos with Galaxy devices like SIII and SIV.

CompanionLink already supports all Galaxy phones and tablets, including the popular S III. With the Galaxy S IV, CompanionLink extends their support of Samsung’s most popular line of smartphones for people using standalone Microsoft Outlook or other CRM tools like Salesforce CRM, ACT!, Lotus Notes, and Palm Desktop.

Multiple options for S4 Outlook sync

  • USB sync
  • DejaCloud push sync
  • Wi-Fi sync
  • Sync to Gmail or Google Apps

CompanionLink multiple protocols for S4 Outlook sync. Traditional USB sync is for those who prefer to connect their S4 with their PC. DejaCloud push sync is for those who desire a hands-free and over-the-air experience. DejaCloud is a new service offered by CompanionLink with emphasis on a private business cloud that does not sell or advertise users data like other large organizations. This service is for people focused on data security between Outlook and S4 devices.

Requirements

  • CompanionLink for Outlook
  • Microsoft Outlook 2000 or higher
  • Windows 2000 or higher, or Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

More information can be found at www.companionlink.com/s4.

BB10 sync

BlackBerry 10 arrives on January 30. BB10 sync to standalone Microsoft Outlook is a topic that no one is talking about. If your company runs a Microsoft Exchange Server, BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 will manage over-the-air sync of Outlook data to BlackBerry 10 devices. People without Microsoft Exchange who are using the version of Microsoft Outlook that came with MS Office are left without any tools for bb10 sync.

Google Sync end-of-life affects BB10 devices

Google’s end of life announcement for free Google Sync services devastates BB10 users with Outlook. People with free Gmail accounts can no longer sync Outlook to Gmail to BB10 devices.  This directly affects standalone Outlook users because their data is now isolated on an island (ie – Outlook) with no options from RIM to get the data to BB10 devices. Legacy BlackBerry devices used BlackBerry Desktop Manager to solve this problem. However, BBDM will not ship with BB10 devices.

CompanionLink announces BB10 sync for standalone Outlook

CompanionLink will offer direct BB10 sync support for standalone Microsoft Outlook. BB10 sync options will include USB sync that works similar to BlackBerry Desktop Manager, and DejaCloud sync that works over-the-air. CompanionLink will ship their BB10 sync solution the same day the first BB10 devices arrive in people’s hands. Support for Outlook 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013 will be included. For more info on BB10 sync, bookmark this page that will be updated by CompanionLink as more news about BB10 emerges.

BlackBerry Link Outlook sync

BlackBerry Link Outlook sync screenshot

Source: Rapidberry.net

Industry blogs shows that RIM will replace BlackBerry Desktop Manager with a product called BlackBerry Link with their new BlackBerry OS 10 launch. Screenshots leaked on various blogs show BlackBerry Link will manage pictures, music, video, and documents. However, there have been no screenshots showing support for BlackBerry Link Outlook Sync. Will RIM abandon their reliable USB sync between Microsoft Outlook and BlackBerry?

CompanionLink plans to support synchronization between Microsoft Outlook and BlackBerry OS 10 devices. You can choose from USB sync (works like BlackBerry Desktop Manager) or secure DejaCloud wireless sync. Please bookmark this website to stay current with the our latest news about BlackBerry 10 Outlook sync.