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!

Support Update: CompanionLink Build 4036 Now Available

CompanionLink build 4036 is now available on our updates page. This update addresses a USB sync error that affects a small number of devices when syncing with the latest version of DejaOffice for Android. If you have experienced the following, please update now:

– USB drive mounts to the PC properly and the user is able to read/write data to it, but CompanionLink never starts a sync
– Previously able to sync with build 4033 and earlier
– Only the very first USB sync works after deleting the companionlink.db file and starting over

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!

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!

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!

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.

DejaTasks Now Supports Recurring Tasks (DejaOffice 1.10, part 4)

Welcome to the final installment in our series of posts explaining in greater detail some of the new features in DejaOffice 1.10.6 for Android. Find the other parts of this series here: part 1 (widgets), part 2 (global search), part 3 (DejaCal).

We are pleased to announce support for recurring tasks in DejaOffice! I’m sure this is a very welcome feature among many of our users. Whether you need a reminder to send out a weekly report, to schedule a monthly meeting, or to ensure you send out a birthday card to an important client every year, the new recurring tasks feature is sure to save you time.

     

To schedule a recurring task, simply open DejaTasks and create a new task. You’ll notice a new “Recurrence” option, which allows you to set the task to recur daily, weekly, monthly by day or date, and yearly by day or date. You can then choose if (and when) you’d like the recurrence to end. Finish adding the details to your task, tap save, and you’re done! Should you need to edit a recurring task, tap the edit button on a task as you normally would and change the “Recurrence” field. It’s that simple!

DejaOffice 1.10.6 was a major release for our Android app. This recent series of blog posts has highlighted some of the main features we’ve added, and has hopefully given you a better understanding of how to use the new features. If you have any further questions on how the new features work, let us know!

Of course, we’re hard at work to add even more. Do you have a feature you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments or head over to our DejaOffice forums!