I’ve talked a lot about “cloud services” and moving your data to “the cloud” and how useful “the cloud” can be; when I say “cloud,” you can think “service or platform that you can access from anywhere you have Internet access.” Today, we’re going to look at my top cloud tools. This was honestly pretty tough because there are so many great options these days. The deciding factor came down to services I personally use most often in my business – I use these every day (or very nearly).
I used Evernote for a long time and I still highly recommend it as a great tool for taking and sharing notes. However, OneNote is my goto cloud tool for pretty much all my note-taking, journaling, drawing, etc. There is nothing that I’ve found that strikes such a balance between the ease of paper and the flexibility and power of digital. I can create checklists and outlines, insert pictures and create actual drawings all on the same page. I can then move all of those elements around to reorganize them on the page. I can’t say enough good things about OneNote. I switched from Evernote to OneNote originally because Evernote had such an abysmally horrible Windows 8 app, but I quickly discovered OneNote to be superior in almost every way.
When I want to make an actual to-do list, I open Wunderlist. It’s well-designed interface is beautiful and dead simple. I can create lists and invite others to collaborate on those lists. Between the collaboration, task assignment and the fact that you can create sub-tasks makes Wunderlist a really excellent lightweight project management cloud tool. If you just need to jot down a quick shopping list, it’s perfect for that, too.
Scanning used to be such a pain. You needed a flatbed or sheet-feed scanner, interfaces were often cumbersome and the quality was sometimes questionable. CamScanner basically eliminates all of those headaches. It uses your phone or tablet’s built-in camera to take a picture of a document or photo and converts it to PDF. Various filter options allow you to quickly adjust the quality and output. If you sign up for an account, all your scans will sync across all your devices and be available online. Sharing to email, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. is super easy and the files are automatically exported as PDFs.
When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, one of the big features was “visual voicemail” so you could see who left a message, when they left it and even how long it was before even listening to it. Visual voicemail didn’t remain an exclusive for long, but it’s a service you often have to pay for. Enter YouMail. Their service gives you detailed caller ID, date/time/length of message and – of course – the ability to delete it without even listening to it. The YouMail service is great, but the Android client is a little hit or miss in my experience, so if you have an Android phone, spend a couple bucks and get the app Better YouMail – it’s more stable and feature rich than the official client. For Windows Phone users, download ISeeVM, which is an excellent YouMail client.
You probably don’t need to provide remote support that often, but I bet there are times you wish you could access your PC desktop on the road. TeamViewer is perfect for providing remote support to your not-so-computer-savvy father-in-law or accessing your own PC while you’re away. It’s free for personal use and has great app support across Android, iOS and Windows.
I lump these two together because I use both so often, despite my attempts to consolidate. If you don’t plan on using OneDrive on your PC and aren’t one of the 500 people using Windows Phone, you may never touch OneDrive, but with Office365 becoming more and more popular, I would expect to see OneDrive usage spike. Dropbox is a little more “cross-platform” and since cloud sync and storage is all they do, they are not only really good at it, but have less corporate “bias.” But both of them are excellent file sharing/syncing apps that allow you to take your files – in almost unlimited number – with you wherever you go. Having access to all my documents and pictures everywhere has come in handy more times than I can count, or pulling up pictures of last years vacation to show to friends and family is pretty sweet. OneDrive also has the ability to act as a streaming music server for your own personal music library if you use Groove for Windows, which is pretty awesome.
Not really a business cloud tool, but Plex is such a tremendous service that I had to list it. Essentially, Plex is a media streaming service that allows you to access your own pictures, music and videos as easily as Netflix or Hulu. Plex is both a cloud service and an application. The application gets installed on a Windows, Mac, Linux or NAS (network attached storage) device, which then connects to the cloud service, making your media available everywhere. Plex has a newly revamped web player, along with apps for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.