Video calling is definitely the next step in communication, but for business, it’s a step too far. Or, at least in some instances. When I’m at home, the last thing I want is a complete stranger having a live video stream of my living room. Google see things differently and want to bring yoga lessons, home improvement advice and customer service right to your laptop with their new web app.
Its name? ‘Helpouts from Google‘.
The idea seems so revolutionary to Google that they think the service could rival ‘How To’ videos on YouTube or text based guides. Unfortunately, their shiny new offering has some fundamental flaws that could be off setting to many users. Lets take a look.
I can’t say that the sudden rise of web-delivered digital magazines is a trend I foresaw. It was initially a by-product magazine renaissance that came with the mass ownership of touchscreen devices, but webzine publishing is now a niche in which many startups are willing to specialize.
This year, alone, I have personally reviewed the likes of Creatavist and Readymag, and been hugely impressed, whilst other platforms such as TypeEngine and Origami Engine — despite their names, both are more suited to talk than torque — are making significant headway, too.
My latest encounter with the format comes in the form of Beacon. With a simple approach to creation, publication and selling — even Beacon’s website is a one-pager — it should be the ideal platform for those who want to concentrate on content rather than configuration. But can it deliver the required quality to capture the attention of the reading public?
Got a MacBook, iPad, or iPhone that you’re worried about getting lost or stolen? Worry no more. With Hidden, you’ve got the theft protection all your devices need.
Hidden is a brilliant theft protection system that’ll keep all of your Apple devices protected. If your device gets stolen, Hidden will track its location, take pictures of the thief and screenshots of what they’re currently doing on your computer, and log processes and keystrokes on your Mac so you can see exactly what apps the thief is using and what he’s typing. On an iOS device, Hidden will show a fake alarm that, when the thief tries to turn off, will launch the app to snap a picture and send it to you just like it would on the Mac, so you’ve got the same protection everywhere.
You can then login to your Hidden account online and see exactly where your device is on a map, complete with all the other data Hidden has collected about the thief. That gives you the info you need to inform law enforcement and hopefully get your device back. It’s the full-fledged protection your devices need that will give you the peace of mind to not worry about your devices disappearing.
We loved Hidden when we tried it out, and are certain you’ll love it as well. It’s an ingenious way to keep your devices protected.
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Time tracking apps are among the most predictable apps. They’re all designed to keep track of the time you’ve worked on your projects so you’re fair to both your clients and yourself. Then, the apps typically let you turn your timesheets into invoices, and perhaps track time on the go. Boring, but necessary.
And then there’s the new Timely. I’m pretty certain you’ve never seen a time tracking app like this. It’s the one time tracking app that you’ll actually want to use, it looks so nice. Plus, it’s simpler than most to use, thanks to its drag-and-drop calendar (apparently a popular new trend).
It’s gift buying season again — that time of the year when you’ve got to rack your brain to figure out what would be a good gift for everyone. But one gift idea that keeps popping up from a number of web apps is the gift of a subscription.
That sounds like a great idea at first. Who wouldn’t love a few free months of Netflix or Spotify or Evernote Pro? Or, for those a bit geekier, a free domain name or hosting might sound nice. You could even make sure your family’s data stays safe by giving them a year of CrashPlan. There’s even the more traditional gift subscriptions — Amazon, for instance, has every newspaper and magazine you could think of ready for gifting in paper or digital. Even newer web apps are getting in on it, with Draft offering gift subscriptions as well this year.
And yet, something seems a bit odd about gifting a subscription. It’s great while you’re using the gift subscription for free, but what about next year? It’s almost like you’re giving your family and friends more work — they’ll have to upgrade to their own subscription next year, or cancel their gift subscription when it runs out. That makes it a bit less nice of a gift than, oh, just about any other physical product.
So how do you feel about gifting subscriptions? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Christmas Tree icon via Eighty8four
The reasons for Myspace‘s fall from the zenith of social networking were the usual: neglect, user boredom, and a sparky new competitor offering an exciting, fresh alternative. Not terribly surprising. What has surprised me is the subsequent spooky quietness of the social music void that MySpace vacated.
Of all the would-be successors to MySpace, Last.fm has come the closest to being a direct replacement; but it provides poor listening options. Spotify and Grooveshark both have social aspects, although in both cases, the main focus is on music playing. And then there was Ping; as far as Apple is concerned, the less spoken about that car crash of a network, the better.
So it’s going to be interesting to see where new music discovery service Seevl fits in. With artist profiles, a comprehensive search engine, and integration with a plethora of streaming services, it looks well equipped to meet the needs of the contemporary listener. But can the app live up to its own, appealing feature list?
I’ve always been in the lookout for tools to make niche writers’ lives easier. Screenwriting is a product category that I’ve become really passionate about. It’s an area of interest for me — screenwriting is a hobby of mine, and I’d love to see the tools used to write them improve. After all, we’ve all been stuck with the same few standards for years — Final Draft being chief among them
Final Draft is really unwieldy, though. It’s one of my least favourite programs, and for a while, it was also one of my most used. Today, I spend a lot of time using apps like Slugline, which use a fantastic Markdown-inspired markup syntax called Fountain (developed in part by John August, the writer of Big Fish). But for many people, a new syntax can only do so much in our Internet-based world. Enter Writer Duet, an online screenwriting app built for writers who want to collaborate on the go. Read on to find out what makes this product so unique in a sea of contenders.
The simplest apps are typically designed for individuals. Everything from the original iPhone to minimalist writing apps to simple file sharing apps were designed to help you be more productive and enjoy your work better. Even Word started out as a pretty simple app that just ran on your personal DOS computer.
Then, over time, more and more features are added and the product goes enterprise. That used to always mean that the app would have way too many features aimed at businesses and be insanely complex for individual use, and someone would have to start the cycle all over with a new, simple tool. And yet, lately, a number of simple apps have started taking on business-focused features while still staying simple. It’s pretty magical to see.
Droplr‘s new Business plans are the original simple file sharing tool’s first shot at growing beyond their current file-sharing tool into something businesses rely on. Best of all, they’ve maintained their trademark simplicity while adding features that make sense for teams.
It was only six months ago that I was testing, and seriously enjoying the newly released Barley, and its intuitive take on website management. Featuring tag-based installation, editing that is almost entirely inline, and a beautiful admin area, it has been a hit with web designers looking for a client-friendly option.
Few in the web industry would describe WordPress as the leanest editing machine, nor as the friendliest environment for the hapless, technophobic business owner. But can a plugin really outdo the system it is plugged into?