No deep leadership topics this month. No discussion of IT service management or networking services. No discussion of the need to improve your IT security practices. This month, let’s take a look at a few apps, both new and old that I really like. You may be using some of these and nod your head, or you may find something new that you want to try out! Like they say, “There is an app for that!”
- Cyberghost – This app is the most recent app that I have added to my mobile devices. This app offers much improved security when working on public WiFi. I know, I promised no security talk, but I will keep it short. Some people use the tool to anonymize their questionable Internet activities, but it has great value even for the average user. We have all heard about how insecure public WiFi can be. Cyberghost creates a VPN tunnel to a hosted service that encrypts your data so that it cannot be read by someone sitting over in the corner on the public WiFi at your local coffee shop. When properly configured, Cyberghost turns on in the background when it sees public WiFi, and encrypts your traffic. With it turned on, there is much less worry about making that online purchase or checking your credit card balance when on the road.
- Google Photos – I recently loaded Google photos when my daughter told me about how she used it to clean up her photos on her phone. I was using iCloud to backup my photos, getting messages about my iCloud storage being full, and also having issues with filling up the memory on my iPad and iPhone. Google photos will work with iOS or Android to automatically upload photos to a free account on Google. Once uploaded, I chose to clear all of the photos off my devices and disable backing them up to iCloud. I then went back into Google Photos and downloaded the few that I actually wanted to keep local on my phone for things like a background or screen lock photo. With Google Photos, all of your photos remain accessible as long as you have Internet access, and Google does a good job of automatically creating photobooks, collages, and other effects. The real benefit for me is to have access to these photos from my devices, from my PC, and to have completely eliminated the space issues I had with my device and with my backup to iCloud.
- Feedly – I loaded Feedly recently when I was in search of a different newsreader. I’m far from a Millennial, but I get much of my news from social media and from following Twitter feeds. However, sometimes it is good to look at a topical electronic newspaper. Feedly does a great job of questioning you on your interests, and then building an easy to read electronic magazine of just articles that fit those interests.
- Shazam – I was sitting in Culvers the other day eating frozen custard with my family. My 11 year old commented on the song that was playing, and I was uncertain of what it was. I had heard of Shazam, so I loaded it and clicked the Shazam icon to tell it to listen to the music. Within seconds, in spite of all the background noise, it picked up the song, the artist, and with a click of the button I could look at the lyrics and we could discuss them. Pretty impressive for a free app. The other day, a song came on the radio in my car and I was wondering what it was. Of course, I was parked… at a stop sign. I quickly clicked the Shazam button and it identified the song. I then discovered that it has a button to add to a playlist in Spotify. Pretty cool stuff. Hear a new song, identify it, and add it to your playlist for later all in a few clicks.
- TripIT – I am a long time user of TripIT and really enjoy this app when traveling. The free version does just fine for me. TripIT allows you to email airline confirmations, hotel confirmations, transportation reservations, and other travel related documents to firstname.lastname@example.org. Their system then parses the information and creates a travel itinerary for you automatically. It is great to have all of your plans in one place electronically. There is no need to sift through emails or sift through papers to find what is next, what that flight number is, or locate your hotel address. It is all consolidated on your personal itinerary, and you can easily email an invitation to someone you are traveling with, or give someone a copy before you leave on your trip.
- YouVersion Bible – If you are a Bible reader, this app is great. It allows you to search the Bible within seconds. It allows you to sign up for a reading plan that will track your reading of the Bible in a year. It allows you to comment, take notes, switch versions and has all of the benefits of an electronic reader like changing font size to reduce eye strain, changing brightness, and changing color. In addition, you can share insight with contacts who are also using the app. You can also see events and if your church uses the app, access things like sermon notes live while the event is in progress.
- Amazon – Ahem… I hate to admit it, but I use the Amazon app a lot. And, I really like the convenience of Amazon Prime two day delivery. Whenever someone mentions a book that is good, I grab my phone and add it to a wish list on the Amazon app. If I think of something I need for a weekend project, I put it in my cart. It syncs across all of my devices, so if I add things on my phone, it shows up on my iPad. If I am using my PC, it syncs as well. The Amazon app is well done and being able to order quickly and have stuff show up at my door rather than having to hunt it down at a store is a huge benefit.
Isn’t it a crazy world we live in? Sometimes I feel like we live in the future… always connected to a mobile screen, tablet, or even watch. And, there is an app for just about everything. What is your app for that?