The Year In Review

2011 was a big year for CompanionLink. We added numerous new features to our mobile CRM app, DejaOffice, while surpassing 100,000 active installations globally. We rebuilt our website from the ground up to make it even easier to find the sync solution you need. We released CompanionLink 5 with new features and a refreshed interface. And we’ve released new software, as well – CompanionLink for Windows Live.

But 2011 wasn’t just a big year for us – it was a big year for mobile technology! All year long, we worked hard to support some of the best phones and tablets yet: from the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S to the DROID Bionic, DROID Razr, Galaxy S II, and Galaxy Nexus to name just a few!

While the past year has certainly kept us busy, we’re not taking a break anytime soon! In fact, 2012 is already shaping up to be our biggest year yet. What can you expect from us in the coming year? A completely revised look for DejaOffice, an entirely new cloud sync service, support for even more great phones and tablets (think the rumored DROID 4 and iPad 3), and CompanionLink 6! We can’t go into the details on these things just yet, so be sure to watch the blog for updates!

All of us at CompanionLink want to thank you for helping make 2011 a great year. As you head out this weekend to ring in 2012, we wish you a safe and happy New Year. See you in 2012!

Study Shows Computers Are Here To Stay – But Are They Really?

Tablets won’t be replacing computers any time soon.

At least according to a recent study by Robert W. Baird & Co. 83% of consumers surveyed said that they could not do without a computer for the foreseeable future. According to consumers, tablets are cool. They’re fun. They’re wildly popular. But, for the majority of users, they simply cannot replace a computer. Not in their current form, anyways.

When compared to a tablet or smartphone, what is it that makes the PC so indispensable to the vast majority of the population? It’s not a keyboard or mouse – tablets can accommodate traditional input devices such as these already. It’s not power. Well, not for most users anyways. Today’s tablets and smartphones can easily handle the average users’ needs. For those that need more, it’s only a matter of time before mobile devices catch up to traditional PCs in terms of processing power, RAM, graphics, and storage. So if it isn’t these things, what is it?

In my opinion, it comes down to the form factor and operating system. Tablets and smartphones are great on the go, but it’s hard to beat a 24” screen with a “desktop-optimized” operating system when you’re at the office or at home. If that’s the case, why can’t tablets and smartphones offer these features as well? They can.

We’ve said it before – computers as we know them are going extinct. Devices like the Motorola Atrix and the Asus Transformer already offer tools for attaining the “desktop experience” from your mobile. Soon, many more mobile devices will offer the ability to dock to the traditional monitor, keyboard, and mouse setup. Your “computer” will actually be just a shell powered by your mobile device.

So 83% of consumers are in luck – they won’t have to go without a computer in the foreseeable future. What they may not realize, however, is that their computer will, in fact, be a tablet or smartphone.

Infographic: A History of Mobile Productivity

From the pager to the iPad, mobile devices have been enhancing our mobile productivity in one way or another for decades. In their early days, mobile devices were largely business-focused. Since then, they have become sleeker, more powerful, and even more appealing to consumers and business users alike. On today’s mobile devices, you can run your business or play Angry Birds – or both!

Read through the infographic below and take a walk through a history of mobile productivity. Discover the first portable handset. Learn how the groundwork for today’s app stores was laid in the 1990s. Reminisce over the earliest smartphones and tablets. Then, share with us where you think mobile productivity is headed next!

A History of Mobile Productivity

HP Introduces The First webOS Tablet: The HP TouchPad

ImageCredit: MobileToday

HP officially releases their first webOS tablet tomorrow, the HP TouchPad. HP has optimized the webOS platform, bringing its famous “card based” interface to the tablet. The TouchPad comes in two flavors: 16GB for $499 and 32GB for $599. Both models feature a 9.7” screen, dual-core 1.2GHz processor, front-facing camera, and much more. Check out all the tech specs here.

Of course, the most common question we’re getting about the TouchPad is “How can I sync the TouchPad with Outlook,” or any of the popular CRM tools, for that matter. At this point, we expect CompanionLink’s current webOS solution to work seamlessly with the TouchPad – that is, to sync via Google. Of course, we will be testing our software with the TouchPad once we are able to get one in the office.

I’ll be sure to post an update once we have tested syncing with the TouchPad! In the meantime, who’s planning on getting one?

Update: USB sync is now live for all webOS devices, including the TouchPad! Read about it 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!

The Future of Mobile Computing

Recently, DejaOffice was featured on the IT Management blog Datamation for being among the top 50 free iPad apps for business. We’re thrilled to be on this list, and I recommend you read through it as there are quite a few great apps mentioned! Reading over the article myself, I started thinking about just how far mobile computing has come and where it is heading.

The iPad, for example, offers access to thousands of apps while maintaining an ultra-portable form factor and featuring intuitive touchscreen inputs. As such, I believe that tablets are signaling a paradigm shift for mobile productivity. In my own use, I have found myself using the iPad for things I used to do on the computer or avoided doing on my smaller smartphone screen. For example, if I need to edit or review a document while I am on the go I can simply open it on the iPad, make any necessary comments or edits, and e-mail it off. I am generally able to interact with my iPad more quickly and efficiently than with my smartphone, making me more productive while mobile. I could go on, but the point is simple: I now have a device that gives me the power I need with the mobility I want.

What’s more amazing, however, is the fact that a device like the iPad has only been out for one year. Think about just how far cell phones have come in the last 5 years. If cell phone technology has advanced that far in a few years, just imagine where tablets will go! It is truly an exciting future to think about.

Joe the Plumber (with a tablet)

The business case for tablets

In a PCWorld article, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, insists that tablets like the iPad lower the cost of entry for computing.  This means people can save money by investing in tablets over traditional desktops and laptops.  The same holds true for businesses.  The benefits are numerouscheaper devices, cheaper software (apps), lower IT maintenance costs due to lack of viruses for tablets and other user-inflicted harm.

Imagine a plumber (named Joe) showing up to fix a leak under your kitchen sink.  Joe uses his tablet to take a picture of the broken part in question.  The picture is automatically sent to his company’s database.  The database sends back a schematic drawing of the part.  Joe shows you the drawing, rotates it, and zooms into exactly the area of the part that is broken.  Joe taps on the area and gets a list of options to fix.  A button to Replace the part is also there.  Tapping that button, Joe shows you a 10-second animation of how the part will be replaced.  Tapping another button, Joe shows you a list of local stores that carry that part and their prices.  He also tells you how much you can save if Joe goes through his supplier of choice.

I’d hire Joe.  Not only did he fix the problem, but he gave me options and educated me about the process.  This was done using the latest technology, which tells me Joe is a person who is current with trends and how to take advantage of them. Chances are that if he’s current with technology trends, he’s also current with the latest advances in plumbing.  As a person looking to fix a plumbing problem, I’m hiring a smart plumber.

So, how can a tablet help your business?  Send us your thoughts.