An Update On Syncing The BlackBerry PlayBook

If you’re one of the many who got their hands on a PlayBook this past week, I’m sure you’re well aware of its current lake of contacts, calendars, etc. While these thing should be coming via software updates, they aren’t here yet. So, in the meantime, what do you do if you want to sync Outlook to the BlackBerry PlayBook? We currently have a few options for you:

1. If you own a BlackBerry phone, you can sync Outlook to your BlackBerry via CompanionLink for Outlook. Then, simply launch the BlackBerry Bridge app and pair it up with the PlayBook. All the contacts, calendars, tasks, & memos you synced to your BlackBerry phone will now be available on the PlayBook for as long as the connection remains open. We realize that this is not the most direct route, but it’s the most integrated option available to us at the moment.

2. If you do not own a BlackBerry phone, or want to be able to access your contacts and calendars without having to use the Bridge app, you can use CompanionLink for Outlook to sync Outlook to Google. Once the sync is complete, you can use the browser on the PlayBook to navigate to Google’s web apps. This, of course, requires a data connection to load.

Future software updates for the PlayBook are expected to bring integrated contacts, calendars, tasks, and memos to the device. At that point, we anticipate users will be able to sync via CompanionLink and the BlackBerry Desktop software as is currently done with BlackBerry phones. Additionally, Research In Motion (RIM) has stated that the PlayBook will ultimately be able to run Android apps. When this functionality becomes available, we are expecting that DejaOffice will be able to run natively on the PlayBook, further expanding the sync options available.

If you have any questions on your current sync options or our anticipated future sync options, leave a comment below or get in touch on Twitter or Facebook!

The Sidekick 4G: Now With More Android!

Historically, the Sidekick was always a fairly popular phone. Of course, since the Danger debacle and recent shutdown notice, we’ve seen this popularity fade away to some degree. Don’t expect the slump to last, however. The Sidekick is back and it features some solid specs, including 4G data.

The biggest news, however, is that the Sidekick 4G will be running Android. This opens the door for a lot of potential. Business users who want to move away from BlackBerries, but still want a solid physical keyboard will want to take a look at the Sidekick and its great keyboard design. Those who know a little about the previous Sidekicks might balk at this suggestion, claiming that the Sidekick is not designed to be a business device. Admittedly, it is marketed more towards a younger crowd. However, the Sidekick 4G features a few nice additions, such as WiFi calling and “cloud-based” texting that serve to extend the phone’s functionality and maximize productivity when you’re away from cell signal or at the computer. And, of course, after downloading a few business-focused Android apps, like DejaOffice, the Sidekick can be just as productive as any other Android available today!

Looking for information on how to sync the Sidekick 4G with Outlook and other popular databases. Click here!

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.

The Plight of the Standalone Microsoft Outlook User

These days, “the cloud” is all the buzz. The cloud, in terms of contact and calendar sync (among others), means using a service like Google, Gmail, or Windows Live (Hotmail). Just host your data in the cloud and it will magically show up on your device. Simple, right?

Not so, say the people (as they rise in mutiny).

Google started the move to store personal information in the cloud. First with email, then with calendar, and then with contacts. If you buy a new Android phone, all your email, contacts, and calendar data that is hosted in the Google cloud will magically synchronize with your phone. Oh, and this magic works with iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry too.

Microsoft joined the cloud party with their Windows Phone 7 launch. They now require people to have a Windows Live account in order to sync PC data to the device. This means Microsoft Outlook users who have maintained years of contacts, calendar, tasks and notes data on their PC now have to trust that data to the cloud. The cloud will then synchronize with Windows Phone 7.

So what’s wrong with this?

Well, for starters, we’ve already seen this movie! Palm tried the same thing with their Palm webOS launch.  They required people to have a Google account, which integrated with Palm Synergy. If you wanted to keep your PC data in sync with your webOS device, you had to first sync to your Google account in the cloud. The story for Palm didn’t end so well. (HP may beg to differ.)

While the cloud is an amazing resource that should be used, not all Outlook users can digest trusting their PC data to the cloud. Many people have security requirements in place that simply don’t allow cloud storage of their data. Others are leery of hosting their sensitive information online. Their question is simple, “I’ve used Outlook for years. Why am I now being forced to add a web-based account, and trust everything to that?”

The cloud providers will argue that you trust a lot of things to the cloud, whether you realize it or not. They’re right. Your credit card details you use for that online orders, tax returns you prepare and submit online, or the numerous online banking and bill-pay services you use – they all store data in the cloud. And we don’t even blink.

But this is different. It’s not an argument on the security of cloud storage. It’s about having options. Put simply, not everyone wants to sync their Outlook data to the cloud – and they shouldn’t have to!

The good news is that there are alternatives. You’ll need to find a tool that allows you to keep your data on your PC and sync directly to your device. There are a few ways to go about this:

1. Check if your phone’s manufacturer offers a sync solution. BlackBerry and iPhone both offer such solutions to directly sync with Outlook.  BlackBerry offers BlackBerry Desktop Software, and Apple offers iTunes. Android, on the other hand, is more fragmented (HTC has HTC Sync, Samsung offers Kies, etc).

2. If the option from the phone’s manufacturer is non-existent or insufficient for your needs, look for third-party software. Shameless plug – CompanionLink has software that can sync your Outlook contacts, calendars, tasks, memos, and categories to your mobile device. It works with all Android, iPhone, iPad, and BlackBerry devices. There are a number of other options available as well, but few offer the complete sync solution that CompanionLink does. For Android, SyncDroid has a solid list of most all of the sync options available. For iPhone and iPad, you’ll most likely have to piece together a solution from a few different apps in the App Store. For BlackBerry and other devices, your options are few and far between, but a search on Google should turn up some options.

In the end, the cloud is certainly where the industry is heading. As time goes on, it will likely become as ubiquitous and secure (or even more secure) than traditional data storage options. Until that time, however, those who wish to sync their data locally still do have options!

5 Underrated Business Apps for Android

The Android Market is filled with amazing apps. From games to news and weather to sports to business apps, there’s something for everyone. On top of that, new apps are added daily, expanding the available options even further. With so many options available, the question becomes “How do I find the best Android apps?” Sure, there are plenty of top 10 lists out there, but generally speaking they all list the same apps! So how do you find great Android apps that have yet to make the popular top ten lists? Let us help with 5 handpicked underrated business apps for Android!

1. Locale ($9.99)
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As far as apps go, Locale is on the higher end of the price spectrum – but don’t let that deter you. This amazing little app is able to manage settings based on conditions. How exactly does this work? Quite simply, actually. You setup one or more conditions that must be met, then tell Locale what you want it to do once those conditions are met.

The value of this app really sinks in when you start exploring various setups. For example, you can program the app to set your phone to vibrate if your location matches that of your office and the time is between 8am-5pm. Or have Locale turn off WiFi and Bluetooth and dim the screen when your battery hits 30%. The options are expansive and expandable. In fact, Locale states that there are over 140 plugins available in the Market, many interacting with other 3rd party apps as well! With so many plugins available, you can set up Locale to fit your specific needs. After a few days of using Locale, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

2. 1password (Free)
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1password securely stores your private information from 1password for Mac or PC. While the app currently requires the use of 1password on the computer to be of any use, the ability to store your passwords, credit cards, and other account info on your Android device is well worth it. Plus, you can use 1password to login to websites, saving you from typing long or complex passwords on your mobile keyboard.

While this app is somewhat limited in it’s current form (you cannot add/edit information from the app), the developers have a long history of providing quality software. You can be sure that this app will continue to get better and better!

3. LinkedIn (Free)
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This is an app that may be a little too new to be considered underrated, but it’s worth mentioning all-the-same. For the longest time, the only way to access LinkedIn on Android outside the mobile browser was to use 3rd party applications. Recently, LinkedIn decided to change that. Their entry into the Android Market brings all the great features you’d expect from an official app. The interface is smooth, clean, and straightforward. Adding new connections is quick and easy. All in all, it’s a solid way to access the business-focused social network while on the go.

If there’s one area it could improve on, it would be to simply bring more of the desktop experience in to the mobile app (e.g. letting users view sent messages, etc). That said, it’s safe to expect those things will come in time. In the meantime, we recommend grabbing this app today!

4. Document Scanner ($3.98; free trial version available)
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As its name implies, Document Scanner allows you to virtually “scan” documents with your Android’s camera. With tools allowing you to correct perspective, crop the background, and enhance readability, Document Scanner is a powerful business tool. After scanning one or more pages, the app allows you to email the document off as a PDF or upload it to Google Docs or Evernote.

The concept is really quite simple, but when you are on the go, the ability to scan a receipt for expense tracking or email a copy of a signed contract to a client is incredibly convenient. That’s why we’re confident in saying this app is well worth the asking price.

5. Lookout Mobile Security (Free; premium version available for $3/month)
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Lookout Mobile Security may be the least “underrated” app we’ve mentioned. That said, we’re constantly finding people who’ve never heard of it, so it’s well worth mentioning here. Think of Lookout as the security guard for your Android phone. Lookout adds another layer of security to your phone by providing antivirus/malware functionality to the Android OS. It takes security a step further by incorporating a “Find My Phone” feature that helps locate your device if it’s ever lost or stolen. Finally, it provides peace of mind by securely backing up data from your phone.

If you have information on your Android that you’d rather other people not get into, or if you want to install new apps without having to worry about vicious malware or viruses, Lookout Mobile Security is the clear choice!

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Do you know of an Android app that deserves to be listed here? Let us know in the comments!

Be sure to check out our list of Underrated iPad Apps and Underrated iPhone Apps as well!

How to Sync Windows Phone 7 with Outlook


A number of years ago, Windows Mobile 6.5 was released to the public. Though it had its quirks, the Windows Mobile platform gathered a small but loyal following of business professionals and productivity enthusiasts. Perhaps the biggest reason for this following was just how easy the platform made it to sync with Microsoft Outlook.

When Microsoft released Windows Phone 7 last year, they completely revamped the interface to make it much easier to interact with. Some would even say they’ve made it pretty. At this time, many existing Windows Mobile owners assumed that Outlook sync would work the same way it had before. It didn’t. Disappointed, confused, and upset are only a few of the words that would describe the general reaction to the situation. Amazingly, Microsoft offers no method to sync Windows Phone 7 to Outlook directly via USB.

What are Windows Phone 7 owners supposed to do? Microsoft offers two official solutions: Sync via a hosted Exchange server or use the Outlook Hotmail Connector. Exchange setup is fairly straightforward – if you have an Exchange server, that is. For those who don’t, the Outlook Hotmail Connecter is the only other option from Microsoft. This option requires you to sync your Outlook data to Windows Live/Hotmail, which then wirelessly syncs to your phone. Both options limit you to syncing contacts and calendars only.

While current Windows Phone 7 API’s prevent CompanionLink from providing a direct sync option, we can sync Outlook to Windows Phone 7 devices via Google. This option offers advanced wireless sync of contacts and calendars, as well as tasks and categories. We sync your Outlook tasks to the calendar as untimed entries, and we sync Outlook contact categories as Google Groups. Once CompanionLink syncs your data to your Google account, it is automatically synced to your phone, courtesy of Google. This happens through your phone’s wireless data connection. Two-way sync is fully supported too, so you can make changes from anywhere.

To get started, simply download CompanionLink for Outlook and configure it with your Google username and password. Detailed setup instructions can be found on our support page. Next, set up your Windows Phone 7 device to sync with your Google account and you’ll be done. It’s that simple!

We’ll be keeping an eye on the Windows Phone platform. With any luck, perhaps a future update will allow developers such as ourselves to implement a more robust sync solution.

If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments.

Palm OS Lives On Android

What do you miss the most about Palm OS?

The date picker?
Password protection for Memos, Tasks and Contacts?
Categories that worked across all your data?
Memos that you can attach to Contacts, Calendar and Tasks?
Custom fields for your Contacts?
Handwriting recognition?
Simple, monochrome display?  (We need to have a chat if you pick this!)

The first five on the list were things that we at CompanionLink absolutely could not do without. Chances are, as a business user those five factor somewhere into your list too.

The first Android G1 device that landed in 2009 was an experiment to whet the appetites of the Internet-connected masses. That phone, and the flurry to follow it, were social devices aimed at the consumer – a volley from Google to Apple in response to the revolutionary iPhone. But what about business professionals accustomed to the productivity of Palm OS?  Business users were making do with these new, non-business toys. They were great at handling games, music, video, pictures, and social media. What they didn’t care too much about was productivity akin to Palm OS.

We created DejaOffice for this very reason. We wanted to harness the power of these new, non-business devices and channel it into real mobile productivity. Palm OS productivity, more specifically. We’ve done just that. Look at the list at the beginning of this post again. The first five items were integral parts of many Palm OS users’ workflows. DejaOffice brings these items back to life on Android devices. By doing this, we are extending productivity tools you need to get work done on the go!

5 Underrated Business Apps for the iPhone

Recently, we posted “5 Underrated Business Apps for the iPad” Today, we’re doing the same for the iPhone!

Since the opening of the iTunes App Store, great iPhone apps have flooded market. With tens of thousands of apps available to download, finding the best ones has become a bit of a chore. There are site and blogs that try to help by highlighting the best of the best – apps like Evernote, Dropbox, and Bump, for example. The problem is, the list is almost always the same! So, how do you find the great apps that aren’t featured on the top 10 lists, but are still worthy of a spot on your iPhone’s home screen? Let us help, with 5 handpicked underrated iPhone apps for business productivity.

1.  CardMunch (Free)
Download

How many times have you collected a stack of business cards at a networking event or conference, only to lose them in a desk drawer without ever entering them into your phone? If you’re like me, too many times! It has become somewhat of a chore to enter all the details from a card into your phone. That changes with CardMunch!

CardMunch allows you to take a photo of a business card, then submit it to their servers where it is transcribed by real people and sent back to your phone, ready to add to your address book. The whole process takes anywhere from 5-15 minutes and definitely beats adding them all in manually. CardMunch even has a 1-tap follow-up feature that sends an email to your new contact with your info attached. Staying in touch couldn’t be easier! And since LinkedIn recently purchased CardMunch, it’s 100% free to use. So go download CardMunch and get all those business cards converted today!

2. RedLaser (Free)
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RedLaser is arguably the most accurate barcode & QR code reader available for mobile devices. This free iPhone application allows you to quickly do a number of things. The most obvious use is to scan an item’s barcode to get more information, pricing, and availability. This proves especially useful when shopping for high-priced items, as you can easily learn if it’s available elsewhere for less. Another great use is to scan multiple items in succession, then email the results off to yourself or someone else. This is a great way to remember what items you looked at while at the store and an amazingly easy way to send off a shopping list to whoever does the purchasing in your company.

RedLaser can also scan QR codes. As these becoming increasingly popular, the ability to quickly and accurately scan these codes on your phone becomes very important. With RedLaser, doing just that is incredibly simple. Put simply, this is an app that everybody should have on their iPhone!

3. JotNot Scanner Pro ($0.99)
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JotNot Scanner Pro turns your iPhone into a scanner. Simply snap one or more photos of a document and let the app process it into an easy to read PDF, which you can share via email, print via AirPrint, or save to Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, and more. For a little extra ($0.99 for 5) you can even send your scanned document via fax! The genius behind JotNot Scanner Pro is that you don’t have to carefully line up the photo. You can simply snap a quick shot at an angle, and then use the app to put it in the right perspective. It’s really something you need to see to understand how well it works!

The only thing that would make JotNot Scanner Pro better is some sort of OCR (Optical Character Recognition) so that we could edit documents after scanning them. Still, when you need to digitize a document quickly, JotNot Scanner Pro is a great way to go!

4. TeuxDeux ($2.99)
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TeuxDeux is beautiful in its simplicity. With a highly minimalistic interface, this app lets you keep track of your todo list. For those of us who don’t need tags, categories, and other advanced features, TeuxDeux is perfect. The iPhone app syncs up with its free web-based counterpart, allowing you to access your todo list just about anywhere. Additionally, you are able to access multiple accounts from the app – perfect for those who want to keep their work and play lists separate!

TeuxDeux’s minimal approach goes beyond the visual design. Moving tasks is as easy as a drag-and-drop, and completing them is as simple as a tap. If you didn’t get around to a task that was due today, it will automatically be moved forward, reminding you each day until you complete it. Since TeuxDeux’s web interface is free, you can try its approach to task management before you buy the iPhone app. Unless you require the advanced features other task managers offer, I’m quite confident you’ll find TeuxDeux’s simplicity and design a refreshing change of pace!

5. Localscope ($1.99)
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Localscope is the easiest way to find out what’s around you. With Localscope, you can quickly learn about what’s around you, find businesses, hear what people are saying nearby on Twitter, and more. Search Google, Bing, Foursquare, Twitter, and Wikimapia, all from one app. Localscope does all this in a beautiful and innovative way.

Imagine you are at a conference. With Localscope, you can search nearby Tweets to see what people are saying, look up nearby coffee shops on Foursquare to find a great place to meet with new connections, or find a great steakhouse for dinner on Google. At the end of the day, Localscope does not do anything another app couldn’t do. What it does do, however, is offer a refined interface to search locally faster and easier than ever before. That functionality is well worth the $1.99 asking price.

 

If there’s an app that you think deserves to be on this list, let us know in the comments! And be sure to tune in next week for 5 Underrated Business Apps for Android.

Introducing CompanionLink Secure Analog Sync

Note: The post below was part of our 2011 April Fools fun. We’ve left it live for you to enjoy!

Sometimes even the most secure digital sync method isn’t secure enough. If you want to ensure your data is 100% safe from even the most advanced hackers, your options are severely limited. Until now.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce CompanionLink Secure Analog Sync. For a monthly fee, we provide a highly trained CompanionLink Secure Analog Sync Agent to hand copy your data and store the information in a secure briefcase handcuffed to their body at all times. So how exactly does the new Secure Analog Sync work?

First, our trained Agent hand copies your data to a legal pad with a pencil, using manual encryption methods that require a secure cypher developed exclusively by CompanionLink to decrypt. The Secure Analog Sync Agent will then lock this information in a military-strength briefcase, handcuff the briefcase to their wrist, and follow you around as you go about your day. Anytime you need data, simply ask! The Agent will quickly open the case, decipher the data, and provide you with the information you need. And since the Agent always has a pencil on hand, you can add information to your database while you’re on the go. Once back at the office, our Secure Analog Sync Agent will input the data into your primary database.

With CompanionLink Secure Analog Sync, we’ve made it easier than ever to protect your data. To get started simply click the button below!