Top 7 gadgets to increase home office productivity

Anyone who has tried to work from home, or who works from home on a regular basis knows how important the right home office set-up is. Setting up your home office correctly can mean the difference between productivity and procrastination. So, what are the gadgets you need to ensure productivity in your home office? You can visit iinet at iiNet.com.au to discover how to get the most out of your mobile devices.

Computer

One of the most significant gadgets in your home office will be your computer. Your computer should allow you to perform all the tasks you need to do at home, and it should be compatible with all the software you require. If you need portability, consider a laptop or netbook (which can be used with a monitor at home). And of course, make sure your internet connection is up to scratch as well.

Wireless Mouse

For some, a standard mouse is good enough. For those who want more, the Apple Magic Mouse could be a good option. It is wireless, it allows you to scroll in any direction, and it is multi-functional. As the Magic Mouse is battery-powered, it’s also a good idea to invest in rechargeable batteries and a charger. The Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX is another possible option.

Keyboard

Again, a standard keyboard is good enough for most jobs. However, comfort is also a factor, so you should choose a keyboard that is comfortable and gives you the functionality you need. There are various wireless keyboards, such as the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 (handily solar powered), or the Apple Wireless Keyboard, which is a Bluetooth-based chiclet keyboard.

Printer

Whether you need a printer will depend on your role, however, having a printer around is always useful. Think about getting a multi-function printer such as the HP eStation printer, which allows for web browsing, printing, faxing without a phone line, copying and scanning. The detachable 7-inch touchscreen is pretty handy too.

Camera

If you need to videoconference to stay in touch, it’s a good idea to invest in a good camera. If you are using a laptop, it may be fitted with a good camera, or if you are videoconferencing on the move, the camera on your smartphone should do the job. If you are looking for a camera for your home computer, check out the FV TouchCam E1 or the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam.

Storage

Backing up your work is essential, so it’s important to find a storage solution that is reliable and secure. Try using a standard external hard drive, or for a more secure option try the Aegis Padlock Secure Drive with internal encryption and external PIN keypad. Alternatively, you could store your work in the cloud. Again, choose a cloud provider that is reliable and secure.

Phone

Communication is essential in business. Choose a phone that allows you to communicate on all required levels, such as email, social media, videoconference and of course, talk. While a smartphone is the go-to option for most people, a landline could be useful as well.

Additional Extras

These additions probably aren’t essential for everyone’s home office, but they can be handy!

  • Cancel out unwanted sounds with noise-cancelling earphones such as Bose QuietComfort 15.

  • If you prefer some background noise, check out Coffitivity – a site that allows you to stream the quiet, comforting sounds of a coffee shop.

  • Need a Dictaphone, portable storage drive, music player and pen in one? Try the Echo Smartpen.

  • Coffee machine. Enough said.

Apple iWatch

Apple iWatch is a soon to be seen item to be added into the category of “Wearable Technology”. As Google Glass ramps up for its big push in 2014….Apple are already pushing hard with their iWatch. We noted the trend toward the iWatch type device some time ago but now Apple are really pushing ahead and have plans afoot to ship their iWatch in vast quantities in 2014. The mock up below has been seen across the internet for a considerable time. As to how close to reality this mock up may turn out to be, is unclear.

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It seems likely that the iWatch will be hitting the shelves at around £130.00. But what will it do and what’s the point? Well it’s a watch, it will tell the time…..yes, and….? Well it’s unclear and as always with the new products bought to the world by large tech companies there’s a degree of mystery and cloak and dagger so that rival firms (Samsung are also in the game apparently) cannot get the jump on features and looks. But there must be an upside for them somewhere with that sort of price tag its got to do more than tell the time! Maybe it will link to the Glasses, or to your iPhone, or ….we don’t really know.

 According to Bloomberg, Apple has a team of around 100 designers working on “a wristwatch-like device that may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad” Maybe the burgeoning fitness apps will sit well on the iWatch for performance monitoring and ready visibility it seems a good fit. But that’s pure conjecture, nothing more, nothing less.Only time will tell for certain…groan….”watch” this space (double groan).

The Age of You Tube

Mobile  capture and browsing of the internet via tablets and mobile phones together with laptops and notebooks and the desktop computer have all helped push video sharing. In fact video watching and sharing in particular has grown enormously to the extent that You Tube uploads 100 hours of video content every minute.

imagesOn its 8th anniversary, the popular site has grown beyond expectations to say the least. In 2005 the sharing of personal videos was revolutionary and a relative minority activity. These days You Tube boasts a billion users per month.

But far from being a place to catch merely the weird and wonderful, the pointless and the self-indulgent vanity home movie style nonsense, the site now hosts much useful and frankly liberating content that it has become a first point of reference for many. People don’t just gawp at their  Smartphone’s a  la Homer Simpson but they interact by  teaching themselves how to do things as varied as changing the thermostat of a specific brand and model of fridge, how to do quadratic equations, learning the next belt moves for Karate or Judo .
You Tube hosts a huge bank of content for learning musical instruments, fixing engines, learning to fly. Certainly much dubious, vacuous content remains to entertain and titillate, but overall the YouTube site can serve as a really useful On Demand source to enhance so many of modern life’s necessities.

laurel and hardy - CopyIs there remaining  in the UK a single history teacher who does not link a laptop or tablet to their classroom projector to help with their lessons? What better use of the technology can there be than to have immediate and cost free access to in full colour or stark black and white, the moving images of the historic events, people and places which populate the curriculum. Likewise Geography, Mathematics and English literature, French, Religious Studies and more all are served well by the tremendous choice of content available at the touch of a mouse.  The only danger of course, like Wikipedia, is that some content can be of dubious origin, or inaccurate. But in a democracy there are no content editors so the wide array of content does need gate keeping by the individual or perhaps by a trusted teacher.

As advertising models and user patterns segmentation and reselling have become so much a part of our digital lives the potential business advantages so clear, that the You Tube model will continue to develop. The increasing commercialisation of the service has led to ever more professional content being created especially and doubtless these videos will have a strong market. But for some, the historic archived film remains YouTube’s most intriguing and validating aspect.

50 Billion Apps on Apple

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The fact that Apple are about to reach the mind boggling milestone of 50 billion app downloads represents  a remarkable moment. Perhaps it’s more remarkable to note that it was only last year that Apple celebrated 25 billion app downloads. The downloads have doubled over less than 12 months! It is only as recent as January 2013 that the 40 billionth app was downloaded….

The other point to notice about these is that over half of them are available as FREE apps. The so called free app has of course engineered its own way to make money; the” in app” purchase. You get the free app with limited content or features and then are lured into downloading additional content or features through the in app offerings. This has been a particular success in the gaming side of the free app market. According to a survey by App Hero, Apple have 800,000 apps available on the store. Of these there will be a huge number presumably, which have enjoyed low levels of success whilst many others will account for huge numbers of downloads. One only has to think Angry Birds, EverNote or Google Maps for instance.

Whatever angle you look at it from, the app market, still a youthful enterprise by any standard, has made a big impression on daily lives of billions of people around the globe, and established a whole new economy. Once the app store matures we shouldn’t be surprised to see whole new avenues of commerce and business thriving and bringing new horizons to the world of apps.

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Advertising on Apps

imagesSpend on digital advertising has grown past the 5 billion dollars during 2012. Advertising on Apps is big buisness, infact the mobile element of this growth accounts for over 50% of the growth. That’s even more impressive against falling or stagnating Ad spend in other sectors.  Mobile adverts, so often carried in apps are right there at the forefront of the advertising business.

What does this mean for apps? The exciting aspect of this growth is that it gives additional weight to the view that apps can generate significant advertising income. If even a small share of the huge advertising spend is being channelled via the app world then this should give inspiration to those looking to develop an app.

The numbers show an increase in the mobile sector of 323 million pounds in 2012. Not forgetting this is an austerity phase of economic activity adds even more weight to the significance of these figures.

In the UK  the high take-up of broadband and the continuing rise of smartphones and tablet computers have helped establish this improvement in sales into the mobile sector and helping the advertising community see mobile as just as important as any other digital platform. In Britain the market has 2/3 penetration in terms of smart phone ownership. That’s a very large section of the population and gives advertises confidence that their message will be seen and heard. Further segmentation by platform naturally follows.

“Advertisers are increasingly buying integrated campaigns across online and mobile rather than regarding mobile as an afterthought,” director of research and strategy at the IAB Tim Elkington said.

And what of the future. Analysts think that when 4G is established the power and potential will leap further as speeds of delivery of data will enhance the experience for users. Better muliti- tasking, faster downloads, higher resolutions all add value to this already burgeoning sector. Here at App Developers UK we are expecting a maturation of the market as the tail begins to wag the dog. In other words the ads may become the prime motivator for the creation of an app rather than the other way around. Watch this space.

 

Apple v Android Smartphone battle – no sign of let up.

screen-shot-2013-04-05-at-8-13-29-am - CopyApple v Android Smartphone battle – no sign of let up. Just as we all thought  that Android had crept up and stolen the number 1 spot from Apple with giants such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 ploughing through the dazzling array of handset choices, we have  new statistics showing that Apple are holding their position. In fact, figures from ComScore MobiLens show that between November 2012 and February 2013 Apple has increased its share of the smartphone market in the USA from 35% to 40%. Moreover in the same time period Android has lost a few percentage points slipping from a mighty 53.7% to 51.7%. Ok so it’s a small shift rather than a seismic movement but it’s significant because all the signals had been that Android was stealing a march on the Apple pie. (Ahem…).

The next few months will be critical to see whether this surprising turn of numbers continues. Both Google and Android have got some big hitting releases coming up which will presumably lead to increased handset sales on the Android side of the equation and As ever the next iPhone is already anticipated with the usual degree of whispered expectations for great things.

The lack of a third big hitting platform in the smartphone arena has led to a duopoly and there’s no end to this in sight. But in the mobile world nothing is certain and a single game changing move by Windows could lead to a serious challenge to the status quo.

Skype Updated on Windows Phone 8 – Reinstates Social Hub Integration

Microsoft has announced that an upcoming update for its Skype app for Windows Phone 8 will land this week bringing a number of amendments and restoring the People Hub integration which was recently suspended on pocket gadgets such as the Nokia Lumia 920.

A direct connection from Skype to the People Hub on Windows Phone was dropped in the January update meaning that users couldn’t initiate Skype calls or send messages from their contacts list and had to depend on the main app being open. The two months of down time has been so that Microsoft can fix some stability problems affecting use of this feature but now they are ready to reinstate it in this latest revision.

Elsewhere within the app, Skype introduces the ability to switch between portrait and landscape view when engaged in video calls and face-to-face chat can now be enjoyed in glorious HD.

Skype for Windows Phone 8 can be updated this week provided your currently used OS version is the up-to-date ‘Portico’ build and if you are yet to try the app it’s free to download from the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Thwaaaak! Hold on there fellah !

Thwaaaak! Hold on there fellah ! - App Developers UKThwaaaak! Hold on there fellah !If you move fast, there are free goodies for your iPad or Android device to be had courtesy of Marvel comics. Yes I know, seems too good to be true, FREE Marvel Comics! We all love a good read here at App Developers UK and even more, we all love to have a free content package for our iPads and Android devices so are all busy downloading like there’s no tomorrow.

The offer is open for a very limited period, closing at 4 am on March 13th so don’t delay. You need to download the Comixology iPhone, iPad or Android app to get hold of this content. You will be in for a reading treat and visual extravaganza and some of the comics on offer include first issues of some real classic titles such as Spider – man, captain America and many more. As well as old classics there are examples from the modern Marvel Now output.