Is it a good or bad thing that you can now work wherever you are? Long gone is the excuse that you can’t get to your email, you’ve left the file at home or your smartphone isn’t so smart. It is! And your files, your apps and your settings can follow you around in a virtual cloud that hangs above all of our heads.
But there’s a positive side to all of this too: you can work wherever you are! You don’t have to be at your desk or even be at a desk at all. You don’t have to work when the office is open and you don’t have to worry about backing up your data (kind of).
cloud com·put·ing: working with files and software on the Internet, rather than on your hard drive
Here are 10 cloud-based apps that can help you work wherever you like:
- Dropbox. Dropbox is a cloud app with wow-factor: for people new to working in the cloud especially, it’s very impressive. It’s a folder that sits on your computer, like any other folder, but the difference is its contents are stored remotely and synced across other computers and devices that are are signed into your Dropbox account or sharing folders with you. In summary, it could do to the USB stick what the MP3 did to the MiniDisc.
Because it looks like any other folder on your computer, it can also turn regular apps into cloud apps by hosting files and settings. For example, I use typing shortcut utility TextExpander. I put its settings file in my Dropbox so that my shortcuts sync across my desktop computer at home and my laptop when I’m on the move.
Dropbox Basic is free and includes 2GB of storage; other account types are available
- Evernote. Evernote is sort of like Dropbox for your brain. It helps you “remember everything” by allowing you to capture notes and ideas, photos and screen grabs, sounds and links, sync them automatically to the cloud and access them from practically anywhere. Evernote is available through your web browser, Windows and Mac desktop apps and mobile apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry and Web OS.
Evernote is free; Evernote Premium is $5 per month or $45 per year
- Google Docs. Google Docs might not be ready to take over Microsoft Office just yet, but it’s edging ever closer. It includes apps for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms. You can upload files from your desktop to get started, access documents from connected computers and smartphones and collaborate in real-time with colleagues.
Google Docs is a free product
- Gmail and Google Calendar. More from Google now, and I include them knowing full well that you understand what they are, but as a reminder that if you work on the move it is essential to have hosted email and calendar. Google’s solution is a good one, and it’ll sync with your Android phone, of course, and with your BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows and Nokia phone using Google Sync.
Gmail and Google Calendar are free products
- Hootsuite. Power users will tell you that TweetDeck is the only way to manage your social media presence, but I disagree. I resent that you have to install third-party software (Adobe Air) in order to use TweetDeck on the desktop, and I find its interface a bit grim, to be honest. HootSuite, on the other hand, runs in your browser, on your smartphone and tablet device, does everything TweetDeck does and more, and it’s better looking. Oh, and The White House (@whitehouse) uses it too.
HootSuite Basic is free; HootSuite Pro is $5.99 per month
- Delicious. It looked like it was all over for Delicious when Yahoo! dropped it, but fans and YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen bought it and have kept it going. What is it worth it? Yes! Delicious is a bookmarking service that keeps all of your important links in the cloud, so you can get to them from any computer. It keeps them organised with tags; team it up with a service like ifttt and you could get your bookmarks to work for you. (Let me know, if you need an ifttt invitation, by the way, in the comments!)
Delicious is a free product
- Instapaper. Ever get sent a link to an article that you don’t have time to read right now? ‘Read Later’ with Instapaper by clicking a bookmarklet in your web browser. The article is automatically made read-friendly and synced with Instapaper, ready to read on its website, and offline on your iPhone, iPad or Kindle – perfect for when you do have time to read, like when you’re travelling.
Instapaper is a free product
- Toodledo. It’s not the best-looking todo app, but it works really well. Get tasks out of your inbox by forwarding them to your Toodledo email address, organise them by folders, tags, context and subtasks, and sync them with your iOS, Android or BlackBerry device. Better-looking apps include Flow and Wunderlist.
Toodledo is free; Toodledo Pro is $14.95 per year; Toodledo Pro Plus is $29.95 per year
- Salesforce. Salesforce is CRM software that sits in the cloud, allowing you to take your customers’ details with you on the move.
Salesforce starts at $2 per month up to $250 per month, depending on your requirements
- Basecamp. Basecamp is project management software that’s perfect for remote teams, allowing you to share files, deliver projects on time and – crucially – keep communication organised and out of your inbox (no-one needs more email, right?).
There’s a free version of Basecamp; a basic plan for $24 per month; Plus, Premium and Max plans are also available, up to $149 per month, depending on your requirements
What did I miss?
What cloud apps do you use – on the move, at home or in the office? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ AmmyLynn