How To Do Contacts, Calendar, Tasks and Notes on the BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook by RIM

To be fair, this is not a review of the PlayBook. We haven’t had the chance to get our hands on one yet (though we’ll be getting ours tomorrow). That said, we cannot help but wonder why the PlayBook is shipping without any sort of native email or Personal Information Manager (PIM) applications, such as contacts, calendars, etc.

Yes, it is possible to “tether” your PlayBook with your BlackBerry phone to get this PIM data on the tablet, but that’s not a complete solution. While many of those who buy the PlayBook will have BlackBerries, not all will! For those users, the only option is a browser-based solution, like Google.

Of course, in the long term, there will be other solutions. For one, RIM has stated that native applications will be coming. As to when exactly that is, we don’t know. For users who are getting their PlayBook tomorrow, though, this feature can’t come soon enough!

The other solution is Android. RIM has announced that the PlayBook will be able to run Android apps, like our own DejaOffice. This capability is expected to arrive via software update this summer. We’ll have more information for you on this as soon as we know more ourselves. That said, at this point we are expecting to support DejaOffice on the PlayBook via Android.

In the meantime, we’ll be getting our PlayBook tomorrow and exploring our immediate sync options. We’ll keep you posted!

DejaOffice Now Available In The Amazon Appstore

Amazon has worked hard to help widen and curate the distribution of Android apps. Amazon has their own app acceptance process, which they say will guarantee that only meaningful and legit apps will be distributed on their Appstore.

We want to make it easy to download DejaOffice, no matter which app store you prefer using. Therefore, we’re pleased to report that DejaOffice is now available in the Amazon Appstore!

DejaOffice in the Amazon Appstore is, of course, free and can be downloaded by clicking here. We do want to make you aware of one thing: if you download and install DejaOffice via the Amazon Appstore, you need to continue to use the Amazon Appstore in the future to update DejaOffice to the latest versions. You will not be able to update the app from the Android Market (it will fail to install – you can get around this by deleting DejaOffice and reinstalling from the Android Market if you need). This is due to the way that Amazon handles app installs and is not unique to DejaOffice, so take note for your other apps as well!

We hope you’ll find the increased availability of DejaOffice useful, and we want to hear your feedback. We’d love for you to leave us a review in the Amazon Appstore! It helps us to constantly improve our app, as well as where we distribute it.

Android’s Popularity Continues To Rise

Android, as a platform, has seen growing popularity since its inception. Before Android, Apple had a tight grip on the changing smartphone market. They were one of the first, and certainly the most influential, to transform the smartphone into what it is today. But, as we all know, Apple’s OS only works on Apple devices. That’s where Google stepped in. They created an open source OS that existing phone manufacturers could use. The use of Android as an OS spread rapidly, catching up with Apple’s market share in little time.

Today, that popularity continues to rise. A recent survey by Market Force shows that 34% of those surveyed would like to buy an Android phone, while only 21% indicated they wanted an iPhone. This is no surprise to us – we can see a similar trend among our customers.

Why is this?

Arguably, one of the reasons is that Android runs on more devices. But I think there’s more to it than that. Android is an open platform that’s designed to allow users great customization and flexibility. People like to own their experiences. The Android platform allows them to do just that. With it, you can make your phone as fun, simple, extravagant, or productive as you like! The very same device can be a portable arcade as easily as it can be a mobile productivity hub.

Now, obviously this is just one survey. New Android phones will continue to be released, and Apple is likely a few months away from releasing the iPhone 5 and iOS 5. How this will affect people’s buying decisions remains to be seen. For now, it’s safe to say that Android phones aren’t going to go away any time soon!

Why All Sprint Customers Should Go Sign Up For Google Voice

Google recently announced complete integration between Google Voice and Sprint phone numbers. In my opinion, this is huge news. Sprint customers will be able to link their number to Google Voice and instantly take advantage of all the great features that Google Voice offers. This all works seamlessly, without requiring an app of any kind on the phone.

As a Sprint customer using Google Voice, you’ll be able to forward calls to other phones, take advantage of voicemail transcriptions, send (and archive) texts online, make calls from your Sprint number via Gmail, and more. Having such easy and ubiquitous access to your call history, text messages, voicemail, and more can be a huge productivity boon. For some time now our phones have been able to augment our computer use. It’s about time our computers truly do the same for our phone use!

If you’re a Sprint customer ready to integrate with Google Voice, head over to https://www.google.com/googlevoice/sprint/ to get started. If you’re on one of the other networks (like myself), well, you’ll have to wait patiently and hope that the other carriers follow suit!

Go Ahead, Make The Switch!

The HTC Thunderbolt is (finally) launching tomorrow. As such, I felt it would be appropriate to touch on the process of switching phones. With 4G data speeds, a 4.3” screen, an 8 megapixel rear facing camera, a front facing camera for video calls, a 1GHz processor, and more, the Thunderbolt should prove to be quite popular, causing many customers to trade in their current phone. Of course, this means going through the process of backing up and transferring all your data will become a top priority.

Switching phones used to be quite a pain. Often, you’d find yourself re-entering all your data, which could take a very long time, especially if you used your phone for business. These days, many phones include some kind of sync to help you get most of your data moved over, but it’s not always so easy. A user hoping to switch from an iPhone to the Thunderbolt, for example, will likely run into some roadblocks. Getting contacts, calendars, tasks, memos, and more transferred over isn’t as simple as it is if you were to simply upgrade to a new iPhone. Unless, of course, you use CompanionLink and DejaOffice!

We’ve developed our products in such a way that you can move to a new device quickly and easily. After installing DejaOffice on a new device, you’re just a quick sync away from having all your important contacts, calendars, tasks, and memos back at your fingertips. After all, it’s your data – you should have easy access to it no matter what device you prefer to use!

For more information on how to sync the HTC Thunderbolt with your PC, click here.

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 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!

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!

Sync the Motorola Xoom with Your PC

Motorola recently released their latest Android-powered tablet, the Xoom. The Xoom is available from Verizon and runs on Wi-Fi as well as the Verizon’s 3G and 4G/LTE networks. Sporting a dual-core processor, Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), a 10.1” widescreen HD display, and more, the Motorola Xoom has a lot to love, but it unfortunately lacks an easy way to sync with Microsoft Outlook and other PC applications.

Image Credit: Verizon Wireless

Using CompanionLink it is now possible to sync contacts, calendar, tasks and notes between the Xoom and PC software such as Microsoft Outlook, ACT! by Sage, Palm Desktop, Lotus Notes and more. You can sync via local WiFi, Secure Hosted wireless sync, or wirelessly via Google. At this time, our wired USB sync is not available as Android 3.0 does not currently support SD storage. This is an issue we anticipate will be resolved fairly quickly. In the meantime, we recommend local WiFi sync as the closest alternative to wired USB sync.

Find more info, as well as a 14-day free trial, at https://www.companionlink.com/phones/moto-xoom.html

The Motorola Atrix 4G – Phone, Media Center, & Laptop

Image credit: AT&TThe Motorola Atrix 4G, the phone that won widespread admiration at CES 2011, was released to the public on AT&T’s network yesterday. To say that this is just another Android phone would be an understatement. In addition to being one of the few phones to support the new 4G networks, the Atrix features the unique ability to transform itself into a powerful media center or laptop via a series of peripheral docks.

The multimedia dock is more play than work, allowing users to easily connect their Atrix to their TV and enjoy videos, music, and more. While that is likely to be a popular feature among home theater enthusiasts, I’d like to focus more on the second docking option: the laptop dock. The laptop dock allows Atrix users to connect the phone to a lightweight laptop frame. This then runs a “web-top” application, allowing users to harness the productivity of the laptop form, all from their mobile phone. In theory, this could drastically improve your productivity on the go. While you don’t save much space when compared to carrying around a phone and tablet/small laptop, you do benefit from having everything easily accessible on one device. It may sound like a small thing, but it can have a huge impact on your mobile productivity!

The laptop dock is something we have not yet seen from any other mobile phone, and it certainly has the potential to change the way we work while on the go. However, it remains to be seen just how well it works in the real world. Initial reviews generally praise the phone, but suggest skipping the laptop dock. They state that, while the concept is widely adored, the actual application is a bit clunky and too expensive. That said, this is merely version 1. The technology has a lot of room to advance, get faster, and come down in price.

With tablets already changing they way we work on the go, do you think the unique docking features of the Atrix have a chance to put a dent in the popularity of the tablet? Or will they simply manifest as marketing gimmicks that ultimately die out?

Note: Are you looking to sync the Motorola Atrix 4G with Outlook or another popular personal information manager? We have you covered: check out ComplanionLink for PC and DejaOffice for Android!

HTC Inspire Brings 4G to AT&T Customers, Mobile Productivity Wins

Image courtesy of AT&T: https://www.att.com/inspire4G

Yesterday, AT&T began selling the HTC Inspire 4G. The Inspire features a massive 4.3” super LED display – the largest of any phone on AT&T’s network – and runs the latest iteration of the HTC Sense UI, all for $99 (after a 2-year agreement). It also marks a number of firsts for AT&T:

  • It is the first 4G phone on their network
  • It is the first device to run Android 2.2 on AT&T
  • It is the first device to make use of the new Mobile Hotspot application

The HTC Inspire brings an impressive list of features that are sure to be a hit among new phone buyers. I could dedicate an entire post just to those features. However, I’d like to focus on one specific feature: 4G. With the increasing amount of work done on while the go, the speed of your mobile device’s wireless connection becomes more and more important.

As I was writing this post, I decided to run a speed test on my 3G device. The result? I got a little over 1mbps down. To put that in perspective, most home internet connections are at least 10x faster. For downloading a small document or photo, 1mbps is does just fine. However, when downloading large documents with charts and graphics or high-resolution photos for work, you’ll often find yourself waiting for as long as a few minutes, depending on your signal quality. It may not seem like much, but over time it adds up and eats away at your productivity.

The obvious question in all of this is, of course, what does 4G mean when compared to 3G? The answer depends on whom you ask. At the end of the day, “4G” is merely a label. What it really means is that mobile data connection speeds are constantly improving – and when your mobile productivity relies on the ability to access data quickly, that is what truly matters!

Note: Are you looking to sync the HTC Inspire 4G with Outlook or another popular personal information manager? We have you covered: check out ComplanionLink for PC and DejaOffice for Android!