October 1, 2014

Software Trend: Everywhere All the Time

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I’m beginning to understand where this has to go. There’s an obvious progression. We – business users in general, in developed economies — started with desktop computers, then added a laptop. Quickly, it became multiple desktops, one in the office, and another at home. Then we had multiple laptops, as we accumulated one and another. Then new devices, as phones became Internet devices. The future is leading us to connection – the same thing on all of our devices.

Say you have Windows desktop and laptop, Mac Desktop and laptop, and an iPhone. We’ve come to assume being able to transfer files and use them on the different computers, using dropbox or briefcase and others. But what about just having your stuff wherever you are? That’s the next big wave.

First example: Amazon Kindle software.

You don’t even have to own a Kindle. Just set up a Kindle account. Buy a Kindle book and you can read it on your Windows or Mac desktop, Windows or Mac laptop, your iPhone, your iPad, your iPod touch. Furthermore, when you go from one device to another, if you have any kind of a connection, the Kindle will automatically synchronize to your furthest read page.

For example, last Sunday when I woke up in New York, facing a cross-country trip back home to Eugene, I checked into the Kindle software on my iPad and remembered I wanted to read Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense by Robert Sutton and Jeffrey Pfeffer. So I bought it with a single click, sent it to my iPad, and sent it to my iPhone. In the airport, I started it on the iPad. In the plane, I switched to the iPhone when they served the meal. Later, at home, I switched it to a Windows laptop I keep by my bedside, for reading before going to sleep. Later, writing a blog post, I’ll send the book to my office Windows desktop to take some quotes from it as I review it. No problem. I can get it on any device.

Second example: Evernote

Take a note while you’re on the phone at your desktop computer in the office, access it later from your phone when you need it, on the road. Addresses, shopping lists, reminders having Evernote on all of my devices means I’m likely to be able to take the note wherever I am, and use the note wherever I am.

A notepad just for your computer? Just on your desktop in the office, or just on the desktop at home? No, thanks, not as useful.

TweetDeck and WordPress:

WordPress is now available on every computer and every device. So is TweetDeck, which I use for twitter. And I find myself leaning towards Google Docs for word processing, instead of the older word processors, because the files are just there, when I open it.

But still, far from perfect

  • Most of the use-everywhere apps still depend on being able to get online. Tough luck with Evernote if you get to the grocery store with the list you made and the phone doesn’t connect. Tough luck with tweetdeck or Google Docs while you’re on that plane without wireless. The Kindle app is a notable exception. It breaks that problem, though, as long as you download and synchronize before you leave the connection. And Google Gears offers some decent options too.
  • Screen size is an obvious issue. Not all apps lend themselves to all devices. For example, I like Mindmeister, mind mapping online, and I’ve paid for an annual subscription and I use it on both Mac and Windows. But the iPhone option, reasonably priced at $6.00, isn’t that interesting. The iPhone is too small.

And more examples:

Please help me with this list. I’m just scratching the surface. You’ll think of more examples because so many of us are starting to find and use these device-independence applications, and once we discover them, we like them. Please share them.

9 Comments ▼

Tim Berry


Tim Berry Tim Berry is Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software, Founder of Bplans, Co-Founder of Borland International, Stanford MBA, and co-founder of Have Presence. He is the author of several books and thousands of articles on business planning, small business, social media and startup business.

9 Reactions

  1. I wish Tweetdeck were on my Blackberry Storm, but alas…

  2. Tim,

    You are so right, but it is getting a little scary as well. Since we are rapidly becoming an “everywhere all the time” society, people are just not paying as much attention to each other any more.

    It’s as if we are just waiting for our turn to talk and tell the world about what we are eating for lunch.

    I think that we are all still playing with all of the new toys available to us and that this integration of software across all of these platforms is just scratching the surface. There is so much more to do in a more logical format.

    From my car I can order my favorite pizza on the way to the pizza shop without taking my hands off the wheel, all while I can speek my tweets out to my customers… who knows. It’s been a long time coming, but to have just one box that does almost everything is not the most efficient way to go, but it could be the most fun.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  3. Great post Tim. I like the idea of being able to take advantage of Kindle, without needing to buy more hardware I don’t need.

    If you’re thinking of using Google Docs, I have found one good tip. Try out OffiSync (I’m in no way affiliated with them). It lets you edit and save Google Docs right inside MS Office (it just adds an OffiSync tab on the ribbon). So, you can still use Word when you’re at your desktop, but the files will always be in Docs if you need them elsewhere.

  4. Tim – Great post.

    Joshua – I am asking the same question you are: Being able to access technology at (almost) all times sure if fun – and convenient for businesses – but at what cost to our society? Now I not only have to worry about jay walking texters when I’m driving, but oblivious iPad-using pedestrians – especially around the local college campus. And I’m not going to even get started on the the impact the ability to work around the clock due to technological devices has had on our home lives and personal mental health!

  5. Eric, thanks for the tip on OffiSync; I’m going to try it.

    Tim

  6. Don’t forget about the convenience of DropBox. It automatically uploads images from my iPhone to DropBox, which I can easily sort into folders and share with friends individually. It has a desktop version and can also be accessed via app or via the web. In addition to photos I also use it to share documents back and forth with business associates, giving certain people access to individual folders. And of course there’s Skype, keeping us connected with friends and family around the world.

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