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Monday, October 22, 2012

Awesome Apps - 22/10/12

This week, I've been looking at some different apps in the space of video calls and more specifically video conferencing.  There's been an increased need in my home life as well as work life to transcend the miles and make effective communication links and I've been trying to find something that gives a real experience and doesn't make it feel like you are on a call at all.

Of course a great much of this depends on the device itself, but the app is a key part in the chain.

Here's some of the best I've tried and would recommend:

  • Google Hangout - for free this is pretty awesome indeed.  In particular I like the way it handles multi person calls.  This is a great experience on the Nexus 7 tablet - better than other devices I've tried.  I guess you'd expect this from google integration.  Handles low bandwidth really well.
  • Skype - it's everywhere!  Device agnostic, I guess you would say.  And this is indeed one of its better qualities.  Having everyone I know onboard with Skype makes it pretty easy to get to them.  Call quality is patchy though, particularly for low bandwidth.
  • Facetime - if you are an apple addict you've got this already.  Brilliant point to point.  We have an iMac at home with a super HD camera.  On this device its the best experience I've ever had with video calls.  Make it feel like you're in the same room and just chatting.  Wish there was a multi person version.  Call quality is always great.
  • Airtime - just getting my head around this one.  Not used it much yet.  Starting to see the pluses and minuses.

Try them out and let me know what you think.  They're all awesome in their own ways.  It's just a question of whether they are awesome for your individual context.

If skype is your bag, then why not take a look at this as a device.  Makes your HD TV into a wonderful skype interface.  Particularly good for home use.  Also quite good for small office / meeting room: 

Look forward to your thoughts :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Awesome Apps - 14/10/12

Foursquare - that's where it all started for me on the checkin apps.  Then came along the nice bit in facebook to do pretty much the same thing.  But there, for quite a while, it has all stopped.  Particularly in the UK.

When travelling in the USA I see that checkin apps really are part of the consumer, retail, world.  In the UK its kind of here, but not really used.  For the first time since I've been using it I received a freebie the other day when becoming a mayor of a UK hotel.  I was awarded a piece of cake :)  Nice!  But will I get one next time?

So, it's good to see that this checkin stuff is getting a new lease of life as more and more ways to utilise location and retail patterns emerge.  I like things that help you collaborate and enjoy new connections and so that's the theme of todays awesome apps....

  • Go matic - Chronicle your adventures and see what's going on around you.
  • Find stuff to do - A great big map with what's going on around you.  Particularly useful in London.  Gives you suggestions and relevance scores.
  • Grafetee - I like to think of it as a big browser for the real world.  Bookmark locations to remember them.

The first question anyone asks me when they first hear about this kind of stuff is about privacy.  But people can see where I am?  It's all a bit big brother.  What if I don't want them to see.

My short answer - its easy.  Get over yourself!  There are opt in and opt outs and this stuff is all manual right now in terms of you have to checkin / login at places and provide the information through interaction.  Autocheckin isn't happening.  Be an explorer - but when you want to be :)

Also, my top tip on stuff like this is to contribute to the community, without expecting something in return.  That's the best way to build the community.  If everyone gives and no one just 'takes' then the community becomes powerful and useful for all.

Awesome apps!  Enjoy.

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