A cheatsheet of iPhone 6 Plus features for business users

Here’s a list of iPhone 6 Plus features announced by Apple today that directly impacts or improves productivity for business users.

  • Bigger screens mean more readable content. The iPhone 6 Plus has 1920×1080 resolution to fit more lines of information. Apple offered a great side-by-side visual that shows how much more content is visible on iPhone 6 Plus compared to iPhone 6. [Image source: iphonehacks.com]
  • More battery life means fewer intra-day trips to the outlet. Traveling sales people are free to use their GPS without fear of their battery dying by mid day. The iPhone 6 Plus offers 12 hours of LTE browsing (2 more hours than iPhone 6) and 16 hours of standby (6 more hours than iPhone 6). Here’s a chart comparing battery capacity from the keynote. [Source: iphonehacks.com]
  • Wider keyboard layout with more keys means the iPhone 6 Plus will be a business user’s device of choice for an easier typing experience. (This does beg the question – does the iPhone 6 Plus cannibalize iPad mini sales?) The extra keys offered comprise of an important tap-saving group: cut and paste, highlight, undo, bold, and common punctuation; period, comma, question mark, and exclamation mark. These keys will save business users from tapping and dragging pins for copy/paste, and from long-pressing the Shift key to access punctuation and rich markup. [Image source: WCCFtech.com]
  • The iPhone 6 Plus’s dual-pane view for email, scheduling, and messaging is godsend. Email will undoubtedly be the biggest beneficiary as you will never have to swipe Back to see the email list.
  • Wi-Fi calling and VoLTE hold promise for mobile warriors who journey to areas with shaky cell connectivity. Hop in a cafe or restaurant that offers Wi-Fi and you are free to make calls. Of course, TBD is whether carriers need to update their towers to support this. (If anyone has more info about this, please chime in under the Comments section for everyone to benefit.) The consumer crowd really benefits by not requiring peak-hour cellular minutes to place/receive calls. I sense mobile carriers already dusting off their business plans to make daytime minutes unlimited.
  • NFC and Apple Pay will make carrying personal and business desirable and a breeze. Business people will no longer have to use their personal card and then remember to credit their business account. The NFC ecosystem looks like an infrastructure-intense endeavor and one that will take time for the world to adopt. However, Apple has added (significantly) more water to the NFC seeds already harvesting. We know how this story ends for the famed plastic rectangle we love so dearly.
  • Repeatedly mentioned during the keynote was the phrase “optimizations for one-hand use”. It appears Apple was bent on promoting the fact that they optimized their 5.5-inch offering for one-hand use. I must see this to believe it; but it sounds great! More details about this will arrive as people get their devices on September 19.

The real story behind today’s keynote is that Apple is heeding the call for larger screens by an audience (viz. business users) that is willing to pay for features that make their workday easier. While Apple is a consumer-driven organization, larger screens directly benefit business professionals in a way that is tangible to productivity.

USAToday.com recommends CompanionLink as the replacement for Google Calendar to Outlook Calendar integration

Googlepocalypse on August 1 was a major setback for many. USAToday.com tech columnist Rob Pegoraro recommended CompanionLink as the go-to replacement for the sunset Google Calendar Sync utility.

I’d look at the $50 CompanionLink (its developers have been doing Google sync tools since the days of Palm handhelds, and other software from the company can sync directly from Outlook to Android)…

CompanionLink is the most affordable 3rd-party solution when you take into account installation on multiple PCs (up to 3), free updates, and free technical support by phone and email.

Here are the top 11 reasons people have turned to CompanionLink since 2006 for Google Calendar sync:

  1. Sync contacts, calendar, tasks, and categories with one app
  2. Supports Office 365, Outlook 2013, 2010, 2007, 2003, 2000
  3. Free US-based technical support by phone and email
  4. Map Outlook Categories to multiple Google Calendars
  5. Works with Outlook folders or subfolders
  6. Supports Exchange setups with Public Folders
  7. Works with any free Gmail or Google account and Google Apps accounts
  8. Automatic sync
  9. One license allows installation on 3 PCs
  10. 90-day money-back guarantee
  11. Supporting Google Calendar sync since 2006

CompanionLink is available as an unlimited trial for 2 weeks. Purchase options include a one-time license for $39.95 after discount. Enter ALTGCS in the Affinity Code field to get the $10 discount.

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.

USATODAY.com review votes DejaOffice and CompanionLink as best Android Sync app for Outlook

We are thrilled to share a raving review about our Android Sync products. Marc Saltzman, writer for USATODAY.com, stumbled upon CompanionLink when his frustration with other Android to Outlook sync solutions came to a peak. He found other products to sync incomplete Outlook data or have complicated setups.

Then, he found our Android Outlook app, DejaOffice.

“DejaOffice was able to accomplish what others could not: smooth, reliable and quick syncing between Android and Microsoft Outlook.”

“You don’t need a degree in computer engineering to set it up.”

Marc hits squarely on a sensitive topic for people who used legacy phones and PDAs like BlackBerry and Palm. Traditionally, Outlook sync was an afterthought for mobile users because Outlook integration was bundled with their device purchase. Palm shipped a CD with Outlook sync software. BlackBerry included their reliable Desktop Software companion with every device.

Android buyers weren’t so lucky. During Android’s toddler years, no manufacturer bundled software for Outlook integration. Samsung, for example, has since developed a tool called Kies to address the uproar by Outlook users. However, upkeep of the tool has proved difficult and fragmented as Kies updates often break Outlook integration. The reliability of these tools also vary from device to device and are inconsistent with the Outlook fields they support because every device has different pre-installed PIM apps.

The CompanionLink and DejaOffice platform for Android really shines because it works and looks the same across all Android devices and restores reliable Outlook integration that people expect to come with their device. People are free to choose the security of USB connected synchronization or the flexibility of Cloud synchronization through CompanionLink’s secure DejaCloud service, Google or other cloud services. This allows people to customize their experience to their business requirements; something that isn’t possible with solutions like Kies.

Marc’s review emotes the frustration millions of Outlook users face when they realize their $300 phone investment doesn’t integrate easily with desktop Outlook. CompanionLink agrees that reliable Outlook synchronization should come in-the-box with your phone purchase. Until then, CompanionLink has a product that millions, like Marc, can use to turn their $300 investment into a productivity tool that works with Outlook.

EDN gives CompanionLink great reviews for Outlook Google sync

Brian Dipert, writer for EDN Network, chose CompanionLink to sync Outlook with Google during an evaluation of sync tools available for this task.

I chose CompanionLink, although it was the most expensive of the three options, based on the comparative amount and percentage of positive feedback I came across regarding it in my research.

CompanionLink’s setup was straightforward, and the results have so far been rock-solid. Its settings options (including numerous sync-cadence candidates) are abundant but intuitively understandable.

CompanionLink often appears more expensive than other low-cost solutions. We feel our free phone support, ability to use one user-license on three computers (ie, work desktop, home desktop, personal laptop), and our policy to not charge you every time you change phones actually makes CompanionLink the best value on the market.

ACT! versions that work on Windows 8

This account is our QA team’s experience and is not in any way a definitive guide.  We offer it as it may assist others to set expectations with the new Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise operating systems.  Windows 8 RT for Surface is a tablet OS and is not presumed to run the ACT! application.  We will confirm this when our Surface device arrives.

Testing Environment

ACT! 2013 was tested on a new PC: Athlon II X4 645 3.1GHz 64-bit , 4GB DDR3 RAM, Windows 8 Pro 64-bit.

All other tests: Intel Xeon E5520 2.27GHz 64-bit, 2GB RAM, Windows 8 Pro running in VMWare 5.0.0.812388

ACT! versions that work on Windows 8 without issues

  • ACT! 6
  • ACT! 2009 and 2010 – works fine, but you are shown an error message during installation. “This program has compatibility issues (Microsoft SQL Server 2005)”. When running ACT! and upgrading a database we noted the message:  “Exceptions occurred while executing the database Schema Update Script”. Database seemed to successfully update.
  • ACT! 2011
  • ACT! 2012
  • ACT! 2013

ACT! versions that do not work with Windows 8
ACT! 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 – these do not install correctly on Windows 8. An error message is generated that reads “This app cannot run on your PC”.

CompanionLink works with all versions of ACT! 3.0 and higher.

Forbes.com article includes CompanionLink in Top 9 Apps for Salespeople

This is a big day for CompanionLink.  Gene Marks, contributor for Forbes.com, mentioned CompanionLink in the same article as some heavyweights such Amazon, Evernote, and Square.  The article is about Gene’s top 9 apps that he recommends salespeople must have on their smartphones.

This is not a new company or two dudes working out of a garage.  My clients and I have used CompanionLink’s products for a decade.  I also like the fact that they’re not in bed with any one software maker – they make synching products for them all.

CompanionLink has always felt there is strong value in offer mobile business professionals a reliable and platform-agnostic way to integrate their phones with their business contacts, agenda, and notes.  Our mantra has always been “Your data, your device.”  We’re proud to support the entire spectrum of major mobile platforms and let you choose which device to use and how you wish you keep your data integrated. We do it with integrity and without farming or selling your data to advertisers because we feel that’s what business professionals really want.

Today’s mention by Gene was a testimonial for our mission.  Thank you, Gene.

DejaOffice on NOOK is off to a great start with 5-star reviews

We launched DejaOffice for NOOK Color and NOOK Tablet in late April. We’re off to a great start with a 5-star average for reviews. Some of the comments have been very supportive for our cause.

“Best PIM”

“I love being able to color code my activitites and tasks. It is nice to have tasks, memos, contacts and calendar all in the same program!”

“Best Suite for Nook”
“Wish i would’ve found this a long time ago. Works perfectly”

New CompanionLink Review and Giveaway by Windows Guides

The team over at Windows Guides has posted a review of CompanionLink 4. The review highlights the some of the changes and benefits that CompanionLink 4 introduced, including the new interface and auto-sync. In addition to the review, Windows Guides is running a giveaway where 3 winners will get a copy of CompanionLink Professional with our RunStart installation service completely free!

Read the full Windows Guides review here and be sure to check out the giveaway here too. You can download a 14-day free trial of CompanionLink for Outlook or CompanionLink Professional at www.companionlink.com/outlook.

Android Lounge Reviews CompanionLink for Outlook

Android Lounge just posted a review of the new CompnionLink for Outlook – Read the full review (Google Translate link)

More information about CompanionLink for Outlook can be found at www.companionlink.com/outlook