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Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Top 5 Cloud Computing Apps for the Droid



Earlier this week when the NHL Stanley Cup playoff game I was watching ended in overtime, I started channel surfing. I came across one of my favorite movies from the late 1980s – Lethal Weapon starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

I happened to catch the part where Danny Glover’s character is driving and needs to make an important phone call. He pulls the over to the side of the road on an LA-freeway overpass and gets out of the car to make the call – no hands free in those days.

Glover proceeds to take out a mobile phone the size of a vintage WWII walkie-talkie. The only thing mobile about this contraption was that it could be carried around in a car. Of course in 1987, that was state-of-art mobile technology.

Watching Glover struggle to make a simple connection got me thinking about how dependent I have become (all of us really) on our mobile phones. Like all of you, using my mobile phone for making calls and sending text messages has become only part of how I use it. I use my mobile phone more and more like a laptop than I do a phone.

So I thought I’d list for you my Top 5 cloud computing based applications for my mobile phone (which happens to be a Motorola Droid running the Google Android operating system version 2.1 update 1, over the Verizon network).

In reverse order:

#5 Evernote. This a relatively new application on my Droid, but I can tell already it’s going to be one of my favorites. It allows me to type a note, copy a web page, take a photo, grab a screenshot and then store for easy access later (and it's FREE). I can organize my info into different “notebooks” where it is processed, indexed and searchable. Then using key words I can find my information quickly while on the go. I’ve only used it a couple of times, but I can tell already it’s going to be way more useful than my Three Stooges sound effects app. Well, maybe.

#4 Google Docs. Since the Droid runs on a Google operating system I have access to all of Google’s fantastic cloud computing apps, and I take full advantage of them. Google Docs is one of the handiest ways to access information – from plans to presentations to RFPs – from my mobile device. And the beauty of all Google cloud apps is that I can access my information from any wired PC too. Write a plan at the office, access it while waiting for a plane. Remind me again why I need a laptop?

#3 Google Maps. Yep, another Google app. In addition to owning a Droid I also drive a Prius (I’ll only admit that on Earth Day, however). Even though my car has a built-in GPS system, I find that Google Maps on my Droid proves to be more accurate. Plus, it’s handy when I'm walking around a city where I might be visiting because it will find my exact location and plot a path to where I’m trying to go. A very helpful feature when my Prius is stuck in a parking garage somewhere.

#2 Google Calendar. Yes, that’s now three Google cloud applications in a row. But hey, they’re good and I use them a lot. Calendaring typically isn’t a mind-blowing feature, but having access to it anywhere at anytime is certainly useful. And it is the feature on my phone – minus voice and SMS – that I use second most often.

#1 Gmail. Trust me, I do not work for Google. The thing I absolutely love about accessing email on my Droid is that I can configure the feature so I can open all of my email accounts on one screen (a feature I hear Apple is working to bring to the iPhone). This enables me to check my Gmail, Yahoo, work and other email accounts all at once without having to flip between screens. Since most of my written communication is done via email – including RSS feeds and web site updates – being able to look at all of my email at once is a godsend.

I’d be interested to hear what your favorite mobile cloud computing apps are. You can bet I’ll be checking your replies on my Droid.

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