The tech world was aflutter earlier this week as Microsoft announced that (a mere four years after the launch of the iPad) they were releasing Office (specifically Word, Excel and Powerpoint) as native, touch optimized apps on the iPad. I have read a broad array of coverage on this development and none of it explored the broader implications of the move, which I happen to think are a way more important development that the arrival of new productivity tools on the iPad.
First and foremost, the arrival of Office on the iPad heralds the beginning of a major partnership between Apple and Microsoft. How so? Well, Microsoft is selling access to edit documents on the iPad (the individual apps are free to use as document viewers) as in app purchases. That means Apple gets 30% of the revenue. What Microsoft is selling though is not just full access to Office on the iPad. They’re selling Office 365 memberships which also include a license for full Office on five computers and five tablets. Please stop and think about that for a second. Apple will be getting a 30% cut of most new Office 365 licenses going forward. That is an absolutely huge win for Apple and a huge concession by Microsoft.
I have previously mentioned a site called IFTTT (stands for If This Then That) in passing but IFTTT (pronounced like gift without the g) is worth looking into if you’re the sort of person who uses multiple services and gets frustrated about connecting them all together. IFTTT is similar to a Yahoo service called Pipes that allows you to connect different web services to create data mashups. Whereas Pipes is extremely geeky, with a pretty significant learning curve, IFTTT is relatively simple.
The best way to make the case for a service like IFTTT is to throw out a few practical examples of the kinds of problems IFTTT can solve.
- Backing Up Your Blog – I am using IFTTT to poll my WordPress blog and download a copy of each post to Evernote. This way I always have a second copy of each post and a searchable database that’s available offline. [recipe]
- Cross Posting from Google Plus to Twitter – Believe it or not Google Plus does not have a way to auto post to Twitter. I use IFTTT to make this happen. [recipe]
- Send Daily Weather Reports via Text Message – With this you don’t have to remember to check the weather for the next day since you can set the time when the alert is sent. [recipe]
- Save Instagram Photos to Dropbox – Instagram doesn’t offer this option, which is great for creating an easily accessible backup of your photos. [recipe]
People usually have one of three reactions when I ask them if they have ever heard of the information management software known as Evernote.
- They have never heard of it;
- They use it and love it; or
- They’ve heard of it but have absolutely no idea what it can do for them.
Until a few months ago I was in the third category and I’m slowly inching my way towards the group that really loves the service. In case you don’t know about Evernote I’ll do what I can to give you a quick primer on the service below.
Evernote’s motto is Remember Everything, so at it’s core what Evernote tries to do is make it easy to capture things that you want to remember. Those things can be almost anything that you can capture digitally, including things like:
- a grocery list
- detailed notes from a class or conference session
- a picture you took of a physical magazine page
- a PDF document
- an audio clip that you recorded
- drafts of future blog posts
- show notes for your podcast