Get your Head in the Cloud: Using cloud-based apps for productivity

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What is Cloud Computing Exactly?
To best explain it, Cloud computing is internet-based computing, where shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand.

The term cloud computing has often been attributed to computer scientist John McCarthy, who in 1961 was the first to publicly suggest the possibility that computing power and applications could be accessed and shared remotely. This idea gained much popularity in the 1960’s, but lost steam in the 1990’s. However, the idea resurfaced and has not only gained popularity, but there has become an overabundance of applications and services available. Lets take a look at some of the top applications that are “up in the cloud.”

Top 6 Cloud-based Applications

Best For Note Taking:

 Evernote – 40MB/Month for Free
Excellent very secure note taking application. It can also do OCR on any documents you take a photo of, you can then later find them by searching for the text in that particular document. Another great feature is the ability to take snapshots of products or things you want to remember later.

Best for Task Management:
 Wunderlist –  
This is an excellent & aesthetically pleasing task management service. What I like about Wunderlist is its simplicity. You can categorize your tasks by job, mark more important tasks, set due dates, and even add notes. It is very shortcut friendly, as there is a keyboard shortcut for every function.

Best for iOS:
5GB for Free
This is the best option for the hardcore iOS device user. While you can use it via web browser, it is best used when utilizing it on multiple iOS devices.  It allows you to manage your iCloud email account, contacts list, calendar, notes, reminders, and also offers the ability to locate your iOS devices if they ar lost or stolen. As an added bonus, you can utilize your iWork & GarageBand software packages to store your work, to use on multiple Macs/ iOS devices. You are also given the ability to view over 30 different file types, which is great for viewing files when you don’t have the program on hand.

Best for Document Collaboration:
 Google Drive
5GB for Free
This is by far the best document collaboration tool available. It offers many robust features that can often match competitors desktop publishing software. It offers the ability to create word documents, spreadsheets, forms, and drawings. As a bonus you are able to download your work into popular formats (Microsoft Office, Adobe PDF) You can also share your documents with other people to allow collaboration & discussions while working together.
There is also an ability to track backwards on the changes you make as far as 30 days if you make a mistake, or delete something.

Best for File Storage:
 Dropbox2GB for Free
Dropbox is a great file storage tool that eliminates the need for carrying around a USB drive. You can access your files from their web interface, application for Mac, PC and Linux, as well as iOS and Android platforms.
You have the benefit of sharing, or limiting what files can be viewed by other users. Your also given the ability to view a wide range of file formats, even without having that particular application on hand.

Bonus Application:

 Jolicloud – Free
Want a place to organize all of your newly discovered apps? Jolicloud is the ultimate “Cloud OS”, literally. It is an interface that can encompass all cloud based and social networking apps and services. While there is a web version available, there is also a free downloadable linux-based operating system, that can be installed to dual boot with a Windows computer, or it can be a great way to install a standalone version to revive an old computer.

Now that you have a better understanding of “the Cloud” and learned about some new apps, go forth and use them to save you time, effort, and more importantly… space!

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