Sometimes it seems that apps comes in waves. It’ll seem like a whole category is stagnant, with nothing seriously new coming out in years — then all the sudden there’s several new upstarts competing for the crown with brand-new features. It’s felt like that this summer with iOS photo apps, and it’s been the very same with collaborative writing and editing web apps.
Google Docs was the state-of-the-art for document collaboration, and then Draft, and Editorially burst onto the scenes. We’ve looked at the former already, seeing how it is the word processor reinvented for the web, and how its grown to include a paid editing service, stats for your writing, plain text todos, and more. The latter, though, hasn’t picked up traction as quickly due to it still being in beta. Editorially is still interesting, and with hints being dropped of its future and expanded feature set, it’s more than worth a look.
As I have mentioned before in other posts, I love how the web has given us the opportunity to be able to work with people with no boundaries. Gone are the days of having to work in the same office with someone to get work done. With a variety of web apps that are out there for businesses, there is no reason why you cannot challenge the physical boundaries of having to work in the same space.
One of the tasks in just about any business is the approval of documents and getting feedback as well. For the longest time, if you were not working in the same space as someone else, you would usually email your document to them to get approval or feedback for it. They would then have to download it, open it, and then read it. After that they could make their comments on the document, but then they would have to email it back to you again. At the time, we thought that this solution was the easiest possible.
But, as the web has evolved, so has this process with the introduction of apps like ApproveForMe. It takes the pain of having to email documents to people to get their approval and feedback. I have been testing it out and it has come in very handy for me.
As I may have mentioned before, one of the great things about the web is the fact that it gives you the opportunity to connect with people from many different places. No longer do you and a coworker have to be in the same room, looking at the same screen in order to discuss a project. The web has made it so that distance knows no boundaries for two or more people to connect or work together. It still blows my mind that there are developers out there that create apps and they haven’t even met face to face. But yet, they are able to crank out amazing apps by being able to communicate and collaborate through the web.
One of those apps that can help people connect and work together is one called Kollaborate and it does exactly what the name says. It is a web tool to help people collaborate with each other in real time, so that they can work together. I had the chance to take it for a spin and I was intrigued by its possibilities.
Collaborating online with a team is still in its infancy. You’ll need to daisy chain a few different apps to get done things with as little friction as possible. There isn’t yet a “one app to rule them all” in sight. When you have to switch back and forth between multiple apps to collaborate, the focus and productivity levels take a hit.
I’m like curious George when it comes to discovering apps. I’m only too happy to try them all as and when they are launched. Except when it comes to team collaboration apps. It’s one vertical that still feels like snake oil and if you remove the branding and fancy copy, almost all of them have the same set of features.
Volerro got my attention with the bold proclamation that it can help users create, refine and distribute content. It’s the creation part that got my attention. No app is better in that aspect except for Google Docs. So, I had to try out this app and benchmark it against the competition.
Within education there is a big debate going on about whether or not it is a good idea to let students bring their own mobile device (BYOD) to school to use in the classroom. As an educator who has been given the opportunity to test pilot an iPod Touch adoption in our school district, I definitely have my own thoughts on this issue. I think, whether we like it or not, we have to prepare and encourage students to bring their own devices. But, no matter what side of the debate we land on, one thing is for sure, the web is going to be a powerful place for education. It is a space that if developers can conquer and create great products, they will do well in the education space.
Now, we can also debate for a very long time about the future of technology in education and the how the web will or will not play a part in that. But, for now, I think it is the way to go, especially for its low cost and its accessibility. For example, for the past few weeks, I have been playing around with Presefy, which is a web based application that you can use to share your presentations. I originally started using it to see if it could work in my classroom and as a way for others to use it as well.
The web has opened doors for many ways to share content. Up until a few years ago, when one gave a presentation and wanted others to see a visual, they had to have a projector. It was just a given. Now, though, with most people carrying an internet connected phone or tablet around these days, a projector is hardly a necessity.
Presentation.io is an app that’s actively trying to help make projectors less needed, in the board room, classroom, and anywhere else. If you remember, a while back I reviewed Canvas Dropr, an app from the same people who created this web app. The two apps have some similarities, but Presentation.io is a somewhat stripped down version of Canvas Dropr designed just to present ideas, speeches, and anything else you want to show to others. Let’s take it for a spin to see how it works and how it can possibly benefit you.