Final Argument

30 10 2013

Reviewing apps can be a funny or a really troublesome work. This depends on how conscientious you do your work. Downloading the app from the App Store, playing with it for 20 minutes using provided templates is not enough for a serious rating. But this procedure is often done when we read ratings like ‘Awesome app’, ‘Best app of the year’, or ‘Swiss army knife’. The egg-laying wool-milk-sow is still not born, sorry, not developed.

Enthusiasm is still forced by these small and powerful devices we call smartphones and tablets. The first tablet was launched by Apple in 2010 and technical improvements are done with nearly the speed of light. In the twinkling of an eye we can do things which in former times required

  • Going to the work desk
  • Launching the operating system
  • Staring at the flickering screen, lost in daydreams, and disregarding the everlasting war of drivers
  • Waiting until all the update messages are gone and let you get a sneak peek at the desktop icons
  • Starting the application

With tablets this painful procedure is reduced to ‘Starting the application’.

So people, including me, are still impressed if it comes to controlling a device just with some fingers and using it anywhere and anytime. It’s the hidden child in nearly all of us that takes away the dispassion and forces enthusiasm.

With this in mind let’s take a look on the app Final Argument by Morris Cooke, UK.

General information …

Final Argument is in the line of applications allowing non-linear presentations. In contrast to Apple’s Keynote or Microsoft’s Powerpoint presentation tools slides can be arranged in a non-linear (in contrast to top-to-bottom) layout. .

With this kind of presentation, it is possible to jump to any out-of-order slides. Non linear presentations are excellent where audience participation is expected and encouraged. For instance a manager summarizing the latest progress of a project with his team, team members may interject to explain something, as a result the manager jumps to a different slide.

The features …

What’s the idea of Final Argument?

The app allows to present existing PDF/Keynote/PPT slides, use an interactive whiteboard, and record a presentation as a video.

The main idea is, in contrast to Keynote and Powerpoint, the ability to present in a non-linear way. During a presentation the way going through slides is based on a mind map.

Features …

  • External screen support
    The audience only sees the content the presenter wishes to display. If you receive an unexpected question from the audience, it’s easy to immediately create a new slide or add something to an existing one.
  • Non-linear presentation layout
    Slides can be arranged in a mind-map like style.
  • Close integration with Explain Everything
    You can import your .XPL projects and show them in a non-linear way. Presentation recordings are saved as XPL files, that can be later edited in Explain Everything.
  • Drawing
    Draw in any color, add shapes, use Bates stamps, text boxes, and use a laser pointer.
  • Editing objects
    Rotate, move, scale, copy, paste, duplicate, and lock any object added to the canvas.
  • Powerful clipboard
    Move objects to and from a clipboard invisible to the audience.
  • Import
    Import photos and videos from the Photo Library.
    Import PDF, PPT, DOC, XLS, Keynote, Pages, Numbers, and RTF files from a number of cloud sources, such as Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, or WebDAV repositories.
  • Share
    Share presentations using Evernote, Dropbox, GDrive, WebDAV, Email, iTunes, and any app that allows you to open PDF or MP4 files using “Open In…”.
  • Record
    Record your presentation to use it later as the meeting minutes.
  • Export
    Export the recorded session as an MP4 movie, PDF document or XPL project (Explain Everything) directly from your iPad.
  • Upload
    Upload your session directly to YouTube.

To go through the main features I created a small presentation about the app Google+ for iOS devices with which you can seamlessly engage in this network.

The screen …

To create a presentation for this blog post I first tried to use the integrated features of Final Argument, stopped doing so after about 10 minutes, and moved over to my preferred app for mobiles, Apple’s Keynote presentation tool.
Why? Well, Final Argument is not intended for creating slides. Admittedly it’s useful when creating a slide during a presentation just for keeping ideas from the audience on file.

Morris Cooke’s blog
„Our aim was not to compete with Keynote or PowerPoint – they do their job well for staged presentations, but show their limits when presenting at workshops when the presenter doesn’t have a script to follow. With Final Argument, you can better react to ad-hoc question.”

See these screenshots to get an impression of the UI (user interface).

The screen partitioning …

20130828-090216.jpg

20130828-090529.jpg

Selection of single pages of a Keynote presentation …

20130828-090619.jpg

Working with an external display …

Final Argument is designed to give you full control over what is seen by the au- dience on an external monitor.After turning the external screen on (by connect- ing a VGA cable to your iPad or switching on Airplay using your Apple TV), four additional buttons will be displayed on the presentation screen. These buttons let you control what will be displayed on the external screen. There are four different modes …

  • HOLD
    The audience will see the ‘Intermission’ screen. You can use it during breaks, before the presentation or whenever you need to hide the presentation contents.
  • MIRROR
    The audience will see exactly what you see on your iPad. This mode is rarely used during presentations, as it displays the whole presenter’s screen, together with tools you’re using and the slide map.
  • SHOW
    The audience will see only the currently selected slide. The map, clipboard and sources will never be revealed when you access their contents on your iPad.
  • MAP
    The audience will see the the map on the full screen. Use this mode to display the slide structure to the audience – as a visual agenda of your presentation.

Play a session recording using an external display …

If you’re on the project screen (the front screen of the app, where all the projects are shown), the external display will always be in the “Hold” mode. The external monitor will reactivate when an existing recording is being played.

See my article

Presenting with iPad (1)

for an appropriate hardware configuration to present the iPad’s screen to an audience.

The pros and cons …

That’s what I found out within 2 hours.

The pros …

  • 01 Final Argument lets you decide which information is shown to the audience
  • 02 Suitable UI and easy to use functionalities
  • 03 Access to different pre-defined well-known cloud storages
  • 04 Availability of WebDAV access for accessing not predefined storages
  • 05 Powerful editing features of imported slides within a Final Argument slide
    (Copy, Duplicate, Bring to Front, Bring Forward, Send Backward, Send to Back, Set as Background, Rotate, Move to any position)
  • 06 Selection of single slides of a presentation for further use in Final Argument
  • 07 A powerful clipboard to transfer slides or parts of a slide to other slides by just marking a snippet (function is named as callout tool) within a slide and drag it into the clipboard area.
  • 08 Comprehensive help system accessible from within the app.
  • 09 Only a few controls neede for working on a presentation
  • 10 Sessions can be recorded and exported as a video and uploaded to YouTube
  • 11 Perfect videos about the usage of Final Argument accessible from within the app

    Morris Cooke, Final Argument

The cons …

  • 01 An integrated browser is not available.
  • 02 Features for creating slides are poor, tricky to use and far away from guidelines for intuitive usage.
    There should be a thin border around objects if they are selected.
    Vertical and horizontal lines for adjusting objects are not available.
    Rotation of objects is not supported by showing the angle like in Apple’s Keynote.
    For more complex slides you have to move over to a dedicated app like Keynote. Admittedly the offered features are suitable for creating ad-hoc slides during a presentation e.g. for note taking.
  • 03 Hyperlinks used in slides don’t work.
  • 04 Projects cannot be organized in folders.
  • 05 There is no Redo button and in some cases the Undo button doesn’t work, e.g. After setting a border around a text box.
  • 06 If the on-screen keyboard is visible while working in a text box the options menu for text boxes is not fully visible because it’s displayed behind the keyboard. There is no automatic positioning of an object so that it’s in yhe visible part of the screen.
  • 20130828-090818.jpg

  • 07 The indispensable ‘Open in’ doesn’t work when using a helper app.
  • 20130828-091208.jpg

  • 08 Projects are not automatically backed up. If you made a mistake you cannot go back to a former version.

See this mind map which visualizes the features of the app.

20130828-091912.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

A simple alternative …

See my article

Non-Linear Presentation

in which I describe a simple solution using iThoughts HD mind mapping tool for presenting to the audience.

Summary …

Final Argument is a high-rated app for the iPad getting much positive response in publications. But there are still no ratings in the (German) AppStore.

Anyway it’s a suitable tool for composing (not creating) non-linear presentations, if not the best. To make it clear, contents must be be created with other apps and Final Argument can then be used for overtaking these slides and put it into a mind map-like order.

The developer should implement a browser which is indispensable for ad-hoc researches within an interacting audience and useful during the process of creating a presentation.

Related links …

Morris Cooke

Non-Linear Presentation

Presenting with iPad (1)

Comments are appreciated.
I’m pleased to see you here on iNotes4You.





An alternate Apple Store

26 10 2013

The Apple Store, a subsidiary of Apple Inc. was founded in 2001.

At the time there are 412 stores in 14 countries. The Apple Store is managed by Tim Cook (CEO) and Apple’s Phil Schiller as the director for marketing.

To seamlessly buy Apple products every iOS device comes with the pre-installed app Apple Store. The app can be connected with your Apple ID and requires some additional information about your banking account to purchase products.

A large percentage of people learn from pictures rather than words.
When it comes to sales offers nearly all of us first want to get an impression of the product before going into the details.

I would like to show you an alternate approach to an array of products by using a mind map.
The mind map was created with the mind mapping tool iThoughts HD for the iPad and shows the offer of the Apple Store, UK, of July 2013.

20131025-231629.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

The classic layout …

To choose products and get information you have to move through different screens with images of the product and textual descriptions in general and more detailed.

20130816-062333.jpg

The jazzed-up layout …

Buying a device in the Apple Store starts with the selection of a specific model.

20130816-064309.jpg

Images and graphics that’s what gives it the extra something to attract potential customers. This is particularly valid for products perfectly designed and finished with high quality materials.
Let me illustrate this important point for a useful and innovative accessory, the Smart Cover.

This part of the mind map uses two topics, an Overview for quick information and comparison and Details for seeing the details and purchasing a variant.

20130816-062759.jpg

With the Tap + Hold gesture images can be displayed in full-screen mode.

20130816-062634.jpg

Further actions allow to use the image for other purposes.

Benefits …

Exploring the product offer with a mind map is much more interesting than doing it by reading just text. It’s the graphical interface which makes the difference.

The whole offer divided into main topics (=products and services) is always visible and navigation is done by a fingertip in contrast to the hierarchical structure of the app Apple Store where you have to dive into the details and then trace back the hierarchy to explore other products. Within a mind map just tap on the Collapse Control (-) and you are back on level zero with the products overview.

20130816-065548.jpg

Nearly all mind mapping tools provide a Search functionality. A term or part of it can be entered and the hits are displayed in a list. Tapping on an item opens the related topic. This cannot be done seamlessly on Apple’s website. You always have to scroll up and down, tap on links, and return to the basic site.

The classical app allows zooming only for images whereas the mind map can always be zoomed by using the two fingers. Pinch two fingers together to zoom out or spread them apart to zoom in.

For comprehensive technical descriptions PDFs should be attached to a topic.

20130816-063657.jpg

Note
See my post

PDF the Web

for a detailed description how to convert any website into a PDF file which than can be easily added to the mind map by using the ‘Open in’ command from within Safari and selecting iThoughts as the destination app.

Disadvantages …

Mind maps need a lot of space if all topics are expanded.
So a meaningful usage is limited to tablets and computers.

Steve Job’s philosophy was to focus on some products. So my suggestion for an alternate store wouldn’t work with Microsoft products.

20130816-063851.jpg

A special functionality is needed to mark products you want to purchase and put them in a shopping basket and an outlined list on the left side of the screen. This new feature is no standard functionality of mind mapping tools but of course it could be implemented in an extended mind mapping tool.

An alternative could be to hide topics which are not of interest. The remaining products are automatically moved into the shopping basket.

Hotspots …

You might argue that I present an alternative for buying in the Apple Store but the user yet doesn’t have the device he is looking for and so cannot use this mind map. Well, mind maps can also be used on websites. Mind mapping tools like iThoughts HD for the iPad for example allow the export of a mind map in the so-called HTML+PNG format. When using this format a website is created and it contains so-called Hotspots which are clickable.
So even on websites it’s seamlessly possible to use all the benefits of visualized information.

Indispensable extensions …

Well-crafted mind maps can liven up any sales offer because they can let the clients see how the product or service can actually benefit them.

So a mind map for sales offers should not just present the facts but also some examples of applications and an overview how the actual products fits in the vendor’s ecosystem.

Here are some suggestions how the actual mind map could be extended to cover the idea of improving sales by showing potential customers something more than just the product.

20130816-092633.jpg

Summary …

A slightly increasing number of web services offer mind maps as the main navigation and for visualizing summarized contents e.g. Vizify for displaying bios. It might be a problem of programming languages for websites, performance issues, and the display of unavoidable advertisement that hamper an intense usage of this technique.

Related links …

My blog offers a so-called Keyword Cloud on the right side.
Just tap on ‘Mind Map’ to retrieve more articles about mind mapping here on iNotes4You.

20130816-071304.jpg

Chuck Frey: Intangibles of the Sales Process

Thanks …

Comments are appreciated.
Thanks for visiting http://iNotes4You.com.





iThoughts for the iPad

22 10 2013

Please note

A new version of iThoughts was launched on May 2, 2014. See the follow-up review here

iThoughts for iOS 7

The article below is about the old version which is no longer available in Apple’s App Store.

About iThoughts …

Craig Scott started developing his mind mapping tool already before the iPad was launched in April 2010. It’s not only an excellent coding but also a deep insight in what Apple intended to offer it’s customers. In his lecture about mind mapping on Biggerplate Unplugged (London 2013), Craig called it Touchy Feely Mind Mapping.

A mind mapping tool is an application for improving knowledge and personality as well as summarizing important facts and ideas. In so far there is indeed a virtual connection between Steve and Craig. Priorities for both were/are:

Focus (not diversity)

Say NO (to needless features)

People appreciate apps that feel as though they were designed expressly for the device. For example, when an app fits well on the device screen and responds to the gestures that people know, it provides much of the experience people are looking for. And, although people might not be aware of human interface design principles, such as direct manipulation or consistency, they can tell when apps follow them and when they don’t.

iThoughts follows

Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines

in a perfect way. To use the app a documentation is basically not needed.

For example there is one and only one taskbar which is divided into two parts. On the left side there are file management features and settings. On the right side you will find all features needed for editing a map.

Craig on his website
The roadmap for iThoughts is pretty much driven by customer request – although there are some ‘core principles’ underpinning the whole thing as follows:

  • User Interface is everything
    if it’s not usable then people will not use it.
  • Interoperability is vital
    must play nicely with existing tools/services.
  • Stay focused
    mindmapping is what the app does.

The result of following these simple rules convinces everyone and is the ultimate way to success.

The app …

In many articles about mind mapping I always talked about iThoughts as the most powerful tool for the iPad. So it’s time to again review this app after all the useful updates it got over time.

This mind map, created with iThoughts, shows all features of the app.
I reworked this map in August 2013 after using this stability wonder for about 10 months.

20130810-150722.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

A mind map is worth a thousand words so I just want to describe some special and powerful features which let users create impressive maps and support sharing them in lots of different formats up to nearly all needs.

Using links …

Today nearly all kinds of information is accessible via Internet. It’s a giant knowledge base. To provide background information from within a mind map iThoughts allows the assignment of hyperlinks to a node. When opening a link app switching between iThoughts and Safari is not necessary because of iThought’s integrated browser. This is an indispensable feature for mobile devices because of their One-Window technique.

It’s also possible to seamlessly assign links to a topic by just tapping on Research in the context menu and using one of the options (Copy Link, Insert Link, Make Topic) offered in the browsers taskbar.

20130807-144915.jpg

Even if you are within Safari iThoughts can be directly accessed by using this bookmarklet

javascript:void(location.href=’ithoughts://link?url=’+encodeURIComponent(location.href)+’&title=’+encodeURIComponent(document.title))

which can be easily integrated in the bookmarks bar of Safari and allows permanent and fast access to iThoughts. See the instruction for installing the bookmarklet here

iThoughts bookmarklet for Safari

Commenting topics …

Some maps are hard to understand because they often reflect a very subjective process of thinking about topics. To make it understandable for others it’s necessary to comment topics.

iThoughts allows three ways of commenting.

Do you recognize the sophisticated coding and design of this app?
It often reminds me of basic values of Apple’s hard- and software, intuitive usage, limitation to useful features, and a UI without gimmicks.

Note
Commenting or even creating topics can be done with Siri, Apple’s speech driven assistant which can be started by just tapping on the small microphone button to the left of the spacebar on the keyboard. To create a sequence of topics use the word ‘comma’ which is interpreted as ‘create new topic’.

Using Siri in iThoughts

Adding attachments …

Craig allows to connect an Apple iWork document to mind map topics to breathe life into your mind map by assigning additional detailed information to that topic which cannot be provided by simple comments.

20130809-070529.jpg

Note
Attached documents are stored in the mind map file in their native format.
So you can delete the source file located in the documents folder of Keynote.
You can also share the mind map including the iWork document. The recipient can then work on the mind map as well as on the attached iWork documents and send them back both, the map and the attached documents.

The marked topic contains the Keynote document icon as well as the note icon of iThoughts (right lower corner of the topic) which shows that additional information is available. Using ‘Tap and Hold’ the Keynote document can be opened to display the contents or to move over to Apple’s Keynote app to further work on it.

Further information is available under

iWork and iThoughts

Using doodles …

With all our technical equipment some people unlearn using their fingers for painting and writing even if they use touchscreens every day, except me. See this my van Gogh-like doodle created with iThoughts and connected to the topic ‘Home Configuration’.

20130809-130552.jpg

  • Doodles are Vector Based which means that individual elements of the diagram can be selected, copied, pasted, moved and generally tweaked after the event.
  • Doodles can be exported in SVG format – meaning that they can be opened and edited by apps such as Visio, Inkscape and Illustrator.
  • Doodles can be copied to the clipboard as PNG images and pasted into other apps or emails. By selecting the relevant strokes of a doodle even parts of it can be copied to the clipboard as PNG.

See the video on Craig’s website for detailed information.

Creating Doodles

Creating from text …

If you mark part of text within the integrated browser or any other app you may insert the text as a note, a topic, or several topics (if the the text is outlined). All formatting attributes are automatically stripped off. Topics with sub-topics are created if sub-items are separated with commas.

Creating websites …

iThoughts can generate a static PNG (image) export for each map. The PNG can be emailed as an attachment or uploaded to one of the ‘cloud storage’ services (Box, Dropbox, or any other cloud accessible via WebDAV like iDriveSync).

iThoughts can also generate (and email/upload) an associated HTML page.
The HTML page contains what is known as an Image Map.
This tells the browser to treat different parts of the image as clickable Hotspots. iThoughts will automatically associate a hotspot with each topic – then associate that hotspot with a hyperlink (if the topic has one.)

This makes it simple to publish a static, clickable mindmap webpage.

20130809-130007.jpg

As an example – take a look at the following link – generated by iThoughts and uploaded to Dropbox then made publicly visible – essentially using Dropbox as a website hosting provider.

Mind Map Webpage

The process is as follows:

  • Create your map – adding links to topics as appropriate.
  • Select ‘Send Map To Cloud’ and choose the PNG+HTML export format.
  • Choose a folder to upload the PNG and HTML file into.
  • Once uploaded, use the Dropbox ‘Copy Public Link’ option (from your desktop) to get the public web address of the uploaded HTML file (you may need to make the folder public/shared.)

That’s it – your map is now published as a clickable web page. If you’re using Dropbox then you can use the built in iThoughts sync to refresh the image/HTML as you map changes.

Image maps on websites act as attractive navigators. People are much more about to retrieve information than with traditional link lists.

Map Recovery …

iThoughtsHD automatically saves your work every 60 seconds (or when the app is closed/suspended.) It also creates a ‘snapshot backup’ (copy) of your map each time it is modified then closed. It keeps 10 previous snapshot versions (of each map) on disk – any one of which can be recovered.

To recover a previous version, you must create a new map and select the ‘Based Upon’ option and choose the map and version which you want to recover.

Using settings …

Mind maps can drastically improved by using adequate connectors, colors, shapes, images, numbering, and size of topics. Be aware that using an appropriate usage of all the offered attributes attracts an audience, forces further discussions about topics, and last but not least remain in the peoples photographic memory for a longer time compared to a more simple layout.

20130807-132017.jpg

See this gallery containing the main features of iThoughts for improving layouts

summarized

20130807-172714.jpg

and in details

Save, Export, Share …

File formats of mind mapping tools are unfortunately not standardized. Every developer of mind mapping tools knows this. However none of the many tools pay attention to this fact by implementing adequate options to save a map in all the well-known file formats of other tool, except iThoughts.

20130808-094110.jpg

If you want to become a mapper you should register on BIGGERPLATE.com to access more than 50k mind maps and to upload your own maps to this work-wide largest mind mapping platform.

Using iThoughts you should know something about compatibility of the different file formats actually supported by Biggerplate. These are:

Application File format
Mindjet Manager MMAP
XMind XMIND
iMindMap IMX
Mind Genius MGMF
ConceptDraw CDMZ

When downloading a map from Biggerplate you get the best results within iThoughts if the original map was uploaded in mmap (Mind Manager) format.

Note
By the way, a direct access to Biggerplate is a built-in feature of iThoughts. Just tap on the action’s control, use Copy from Cloud, and select Biggerplate.

You can find further information about compatibility on Craig’s website

iThoughts FAQ, Compatibility

and some more detailed information under

iThoughts FAQ, Compatibility Details

Note
If you use the PDF or PNG format your map is automatically resized independent of the actual display on your device. Collapsed and expanded topics appear as on the screen. Complex maps need much space so that you have to limit expanded topics to the most important ones. Otherwise details will be too small to perceive. As an alternative iThoughts allows to export single topics and you may use this feature to seamlessly display important parts with a suitable resolution.

An extended keyboard …

It’s in the line of Craig’s sophisticated coding to add useful features to Apple’s standard keyboard for writing text in shaped topics.

20130807-173625.jpg

An ad-hoc application …

This is what makes mind mapping and the usage of mobile devices so fascinating.

In the morning of August 10 I read Liam Hughes article about the Biggerplate Unplugged Conference in Utrecht (Netherlands on October 9, 2013) on my iPhone in a coffee shop.

Note
Biggerplate is the leading free mind map library founded by Liam Hughes, UK. Liam regularly organizes meetings with the leading heads of the scene.

I took screenshots of some essential parts of Liam’s article

Utrecht Speakers

with my iPhone.

Coming home all the screenshots already arrived on my iPad (thanks to Apple offering photo stream syncing via iCloud). I cropped the screenshots (built-in function of iOS), opened my mind mapping tool iThoughts HD, and attached these photos to a new mind map, set some colors, and moved the topics to an appropriate position by using the gesture ‘Tap and Hold’.

Additionally I used the app Prizmo (it’s not the mobile version of Prism!) with which text can be extracted from images by text recognition algorithms (see photo). I added the extracted text of Liam’s announcement to the comment field (top of the screen) of iThoughts to show an alternate way of attaching textual information to a topic which just contains a photo. A nice feature of iThoughts is that if a topic contains an image it can be displayed in full-screen mode by just tap and hold on a topic (see photo of Hans Buskes).

See

Text Recognition

for detailed information about text recognition.

Summary …

Now you may understand my introduction where I compared Steve Jobs with Craig Scott.
Reviewing all the sophisticated features of iThoughts described here (and there are many more) support the perception of a powerful app in the line of many basic principles also followed by Steve.

Related links …

iThoughts FAQ

iThoughtsX for Mac
available since 2013-08-20

iWork and iThoughts

Remarks to Mind Mapping

Happy mapping
and a big Thank You for visiting iNotes4You.





Popples made by Popplet

19 10 2013

Mind Mapping is a powerful technique to visualize thoughts and summarize knowledge.

Toni Buzan, often seen as the inventor of mind mapping (although this technique can be found already some hundred years ago; see below) set these guidelines:

  • 01 Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
  • 02 Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map.
  • 03 Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
  • 04 Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
  • 05 The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
  • 06 Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
  • 07 Use multiple colors throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.
  • 08 Develop your own personal style of mind mapping.
  • 09 Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map.
  • 10 Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.

With these guidelines a mind map might look like this:

20130806-162546.jpg

Early beginnings …

Others don’t see Tony Buzan as the inventor of mind mapping and verify their opinion by mind maps found hundreds of years ago. See

Roots of visual mapping

for more information.

This impressive overview from Porphyry of Tyre in 3rd century C.E. to the legendary BBC TV series by Tony Buzan in 1974 shows us:

The devices changed from a pen to a computer but the basic idea to connect topics like cells are connected by nerves remained the same.

With the introduction of Apple’s iPad in 2010 Steve Jobs gave us a device which solely can be controlled with our hands. So using a mind mapping tool on the iPad is like a rebirth of the old handcrafted mind maps.

The impact of mind mapping on many parts of our life is massive although there is still a lot of work to do in some countries when it comes to an integration of this technique in everyday learning in schools.

The app Popplet …

Popplet by Notion Inc, USA, uses a very unique and funny user interface for mind mapping. With large idea boxes so-called Popples. Text, drawings, and photos can be easily added to map diagram. Popples can be resized and added with very touch-friendly gestures. Finished Popplet diagrams can also be exported by E-Mail as PDF or JPEG or saved to the camera roll.

There is no cloud connection available and because of limited export formats Popplets cannot be transferred from one to another iOS device.

Reviews and announcements I fond in the internet talk about this app as a suitable tool for pupils.

I have a different opinion. If pupils cannot share there work seamlessly (except in a file format which cannot be edited by the recipient) it’s old fashioned and definitely not in line with modern pedagogical requirements.

There is just one possibilty to collaborate.

Online popplets …

The Home Screen of the app offers two registers:

iPad and Online

For online popplets you have to sign up and the get 5 free popplets that you can access from your iOS device and via web browser on popplet.com.

The developer says:
Online popplets can be shared and published and let you collaborate with others in real time.

20130806-113421.jpg

But within Apple’s ecosystem it doesn’t work because Flash has to be installed if you want to use Apple’s browser Safari.

Features …

Here is a mind map with a full feature description of Popplet created with the app itself.

20130806-113516.jpg

Benefits …

Possible learning targets for younger children:

  • using a touch screen
  • summarizing in a hierarchical structure
  • organizing thoughts about a topic e.g.
    • people I know and categorizing them
    • about me poplett birthdate and birthplace, hobbies, close friends (with photos), subjects of interest
  • Link lines can be set everywhere. That means -in contrast to traditional mind mapping tools- with Popplet so-called concept maps can be created.
  • Popples may overlap.
    This is a nice feature which can be used for enumerations to reduce space.

Disadvantages …

There are some disadvantages regarding rearranging of popplets.

  • If you want to insert a popplet in an already created structure you first have to delete the surrounding connections, reposition the popplets, insert the new popplet, and then set the new connections.
  • There is no ‘Undo’ available. If you delete a popplet it’s moved into inaccessible part of your device’s memory. Hard luck!
  • When zooming in characters get blurry.
  • When editing text on the iPad or iPhone neither the magnifier of iOS nor a cursor is shown.
  • If you move a popple to another position sub-popples remain at their position and must be repositioned manually. Fortunately there is a gesture (Two-Finger-Tap) which allows multi-select and reposition all selected objects in total.
  • Popplets created locally cannot be transferred to the online storage (says the developer). However there is a simple way to do so by
    selecting all popples, using the taskbar command ‘Copy’ and paste all objects into a locally or online created new popplet.

Summary …

Popplet is extremely easy to use because of strong limitations of it’s features.
I’m not quite sure if these limitations aren’t too strong and whether it wouldn’t be better to invest in a more powerful mind mapping tool.
Even very young people will recognize the app’s limits after a short time. So I think it can be recommended to invest in a more powerful mind mapping tool to use it over a long time which allows continuous improvements of the mind mapping technique of it’s users.

Anyway it was funny to use this app and because of it’s limitations to focus on contents.

Recommendation …

Start with the free version of Popplet (Popplet Lite) and try it out.
Popplet Lite is limited to just one popplet.

Related links …

Popplets in Education

Using Popplet in Your Classroom

iPad @ Universities

iPad @ School

Remarks to Mind Mapping

Sharing is highly appreciated.
Thanks a lot for dropping by.





zBase vs Tap Forms

15 10 2013

FileMaker discontinues it’s product Bento as reported by Macworld in late July 2013 because of focussing on their main products. If I’m right withdrawing an app by a big company is a unique event in the App Store’s history and pretty bad news for users of Bento 4 on mobile devices.

On my point of view it’s a consequence of bad success caused by ignoring indispensable features for databases on iOS devices. For example you cannot create your own database without using the desktop companion application. Establishing a connection to a cloud storage for importing or backing up data is not possible.

So all the missing key features of databases for mobiles maybe the real cause for withdrawing Bento 4 from the market. All along developers fail if a precise analysis of user requirements doesn’t take place.

It’s out of question that databases on mobiles are the most efficient way to manage large amount of data.

The strong benefit of a database is the synopsis of otherwise widely spread information. Apple’s App Store offers a lot of apps suitable for productive operations but all the informations saved by these apps are cut into pieces saved in app-specific folders. Database management tools summarize all the different types of information in just one app.

About zBase …

This post is about a newcomer in the market of mobile database management. It’s zBase by SourceGear, LLC, USA.

Eric Sink, one of the owners of SourceGear sent me an E-Mail in July 2013 in which he presented the new product (version 1.0.1).

Eric
zBase is a very new product, but we think it is a strong offering for small business users. Your feedback or suggestions would be much appreciated.

So I gave it a try.

The app is universal (runs on iPhone and iPad and fits in with the iPad’s form factor) and free but only if it runs in the so-called Demo Mode.

All features which require server access are disabled, including syncing across devices (zBase is built on Zumero, a database sync platform for mobile apps), user authentication, user management, and encryption of data.

20130803-165121.jpg

At the time even a migration of already -in demo-mode- stored data to a full version with Zumero platform subscription is not supported!

Shock!

After reviewing more than a 100 apps I crafted some shock-absorbing policies for myself and simply ask:

Is this the right strategy to get new customers or convert others to this new product?

I mentioned this problem in an E-Mail and argued that I already pay for an upgraded iCloud account. So why should I subscribe for an additional storage at Zumero’s platform?
My favorite app Tap Forms uses iCloud and syncing it’s SQLite database is a seamless and flawless task.

After a one week trial with zBase my favorite app still remains TapForms by Tap Zapp Software Inc., Canada because zBase is still in a developing phase with too many flaws and missing features.

It might be not fair to compare a new app with an app continuously upgraded over years since the launch of the first iPad in 2010.

But from the users side it’s good to know the pros and cons.

Both apps are based on an SQLite database engine and claim to serve businesses. So zBase has to face up to the comparison.

Here is a mind map with a description of all features of zBase.

20130803-183554.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

To compare zBase with Tap Forms HD here is the mind map visualizing all features of Tap Forms.

20130803-121935.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Comparison …

Tap Forms sets the standard for databases on mobile devices. So I created a mind map summarizing the key features of databases on tablets and smartphones. All the other database tools have to compete with these features.

This gallery shows zoomed parts of the mind map.

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Because of the different design concepts regarding external storage and data view it’s hard to compare zBase with the key features visualized in this mind map.

The app zBase comes along with a table named ‘Mobile Database Comparison’ which compates zBase, Tap Forms, Bento, and HanDBase. I took off Bento (discontinued after Sep 30, 2013) and HanDBase (no experience with this from my side), reduced the list to some relevant points, added missing information about Tap Forms.

Feature Tap Forms zBase
iCloud Y N
Import CSV Y *
Export CSV Y Y
Full text search Y Y
Filter Y *
Single view Y N
Calculated fields Y N
Attachments Y N
Desktop app Y N
Charts N Y
Monthly costs N Y
Forms Designer N N
Encryption Y Y
Usability +

Regarding usability let me explain why Tap Forms gets a positive and zBase a negative rating.

20130803-201729.jpg

This is just one example for low-level usability but it’s basically valid for nearly all features of zBase. Releasing apps in an early stage of development is always a risk. Users generally should use these apps just for a field test. Nobody can be sure that indispensable updates will follow in a narrow timeframe.

Some impressions of the UI …

20130803-122939.jpg

Different philosophies …

Entering data is one task when working with databases.
Retrieving information, navigating through a table are the more frequent applications. I compared many database apps and found two different philosophies. Microsoft Access for Windows basically offers two views on the data:

Datasheet View
Records are shown in rows and columns like in a spreadsheet

This view is used by zBase.

20130803-115957.jpg

Form View
Each record is shown in a form which can be created up to the needs
Different kinds of navigators can be used to go through the data:
Combo box, List box, GoTo record control

This view is used by Tap Forms. The form itself can only be modified by using different colors or fonts for field names and content and by setting the order of fields. Fields are always positioned one below the other and cannot be positioned in a free-floating layout.
A useful feature of Tap Forms is the choice of field content shown in the navigation list (up to 5 fields). Additionally there are GoTo controls for navigating through records (first, next, previous, last) available in the iPad version.

20130803-120242.jpg

The benefits …

  • Adjust the column width
    Long-press on the field name (column header). When you release the long-press, the column header will become highlighted with a different color. This signifies that the pinch gesture will now resize the width of that column instead of the row height.
  • Change the height of rows
    Use the pinch gesture.
  • Sort by a field
    In the datasheet view, if you tap on the field name (the column header), it will sort the records by that field.
  • Show statistics about the fields in a table
    Sum, average, min, max
  • Help text well-worded and understandable

Only available with a subscription …

  • Prevent a column from being changed by non-Admin users
  • Prevent a table from being changed by non-Admin users
  • Permanent syncing between devices

The main disadvantages …

  • No backup of databases
    Complete backups of the device via iTunes or iCloud is by far no appropriate solution.
    When backing up databases by exporting tables as CSV files all contents in fields with type ‘image’ get lost.
  • No import options like 1st line contains field names, encoding, delimiter, and formats of date and time
    This limits the usage of the import function in an unacceptable way and it took additional rework on all of my many sample files. None of them used the unusual comma for separating fields.
    The company promised to fix this flaw.
  • Search
    Quoting the developer as a reply to my mail:
    There are several ways this could be going wrong. The current search is a keyword search. It matches whole words. So, if a data value is “send more beer to the king”, and you search on the word “beer”, it will match. Also, the search feature currently only searches field of type ‘text’ (not ‘web’), so if your URLs were in a field of type ‘web’, the search would not find them. We will work to make this feature friendlier. I agree that the behavior you are seeing is not very intuitive.
  • Colors/Fonts cannot be set for fields
    This is useful to separate important from less important contents.
  • Fields cannot be locked to prevent unwanted changes
  • Filtering data is not supported by a selection of a field name or an operator.
    The expression has to be entered manually.
  • Formatting of fields (e.g. a field with type ‘real’ showing 2 decimal places (currency) ) must be done by entering an appropriate single character (c) in a format dialog
  • User management is only available with a fee-based account
  • Help text not outlined, full-text search not available, and help not available in dialogs for creating fields

Application stability …

I recognized some crashes of the app while tapping on controls.
An app crash also occurred after importing 65,000 records from a CSV file.
I informed the company about these issues.

Summary …

At the time zBase -in contrast to the developer’s announcement- is far away from being a business oriented database application for mobiles.
Some good ideas go along with a definitely not acceptable support of data entry (e.g. using a single determined character to set the field format).

In some cases with simple tables and less fields a datasheet view might meet the requirements. In many other cases it’s not a suitable solution especially if a table contains a field of type ‘image’.

If you compare the features of Tap Forms with those of zBase there is much work for the developers to bridge the gap.

Last but not least the pricing will not be accepted by private users. It might be accepted by business users but there is no desktop companion available. I’m in serious doubt about the success of this application in the mobile app market.

Related links …

About the companies …

SourceGear LLC, USA

Tap Zapp Software Inc, Canada

TapForms Blog

About the desktop companion of Tap Forms …

Tap Forms for Mac

About the usage of databases …

DBMS on iOS devices (1)

DBMS on iOS devices (2)

DBMS on iOS devices (3)

DBMS on iOS devices (4)

DBMS on iOS devices (5)

Importing Data

Form Access To Tap Forms

Databases and Mind Maps

Thanks a lot for visiting my blog.





Security made by Apple

12 10 2013

Today smartphones are often used to save all the data you need in the digital world. Ring binders, box files, and slips of paper are out. Your device then might be more valuable than your wallet containing cash and credit cards.

Huffington Post reports that about 1.6 million iPhones were stolen in the U.S. last year. UK magazines report over 160 iPhones, and over 314 mobile phones are stolen in London every day. Law enforcement has previously criticized Apple and other mobile phone providers for not offering better mobile phone security or embedding persistent technology to prevent phones from being inoperable once they are stolen.

Finding technical solutions that will remove the economic value of stolen smartphones is critical to ending of violent street crimes commonly known as ‘Apple Picking‘.

You can be lucky if a less sophisticated thieve simply takes your device to make some free calls before you can report and your carrier blocks the SIM card. Then he sells your device and the new proud owner begins setting up the device as a new iPhone with a new Apple ID.

But there are also very bad guys behaving like terrorists and trying to destroy everything they are able to. A victim could suffer humiliation, identity theft, and lifetime suspension from services and social networks.

Loosing a device with sensitive data may compromise your identity in the digital world followed by severe problems with law.

At WWDC 2013, Apple unveiled Activation Lock, a new feature in iOS 7 that locks stolen phones even after thieves wipe them.

Apple’s Craig Federighi (CEO Software Development) …
We think this is going to be a really powerful theft deterrent.

Apple on its website …
Losing your iPhone feels lousy. Thankfully, Find My iPhone can help you get it back. But if it looks like that’s not going to happen, new security features in iOS 7 make it harder for anyone who’s not you to use or sell your device. Now turning off Find My iPhone or erasing your device requires your Apple ID and password. Find My iPhone can also continue to display a custom message, even after your device is erased. And your Apple ID and password are required before anyone can reactivate it. Which means your iPhone is still your iPhone. No matter where it is.

First let’s have a look on what the actual features of iOS are to prevent that your data are compromised?

  • 1 Using a string-based complex Unlock Code
  • 2 Activating Apple’s Find My iPhone service
  • 3 Setup Restrictions with an unlock code different from the device’s unlock code

Additionally a secure password keeper like 1Password is an indispensable tool if you save credentials for banking accounts, E-Mail accounts, and websites on your device what is frequently done because your mobile device is always with you.

1 Using an Unlock Code …

Device Access …

iOS supports flexible security policies and configurations that are easily enforced and managed. This enables enterprises to protect corporate information and ensure that employees meet enterprise requirements, even if they are using devices they’ve provided themselves (BYOD).

Passcode Protection …

In addition to providing a cryptographic protection, passcodes prevent unauthorized access to the device’s UI.

By default, the user’s passcode can be defined as a four-digit PIN. Users can specify a longer, alphanumeric passcode by turning on Settings – General – Passcode – Complex Passcode. Longer and more complex passcodes are harder to guess or attack, and are recommended not only for enterprise use.

By setting up a device passcode, the user automatically enables Data Protection. iOS supports four-digit and arbitrary-length alphanumeric passcodes. In addition to unlocking the device, a passcode provides the entropy for encryption keys, which are not stored on the device. This means an attacker in possession of a device can’t get access to data in certain protection classes without the passcode.
The passcode is tangled with the device’s UID unique identifier of your device), so brute-force attempts must be performed on the device under attack. A large iteration count is used to make each attempt slower. The iteration count is calibrated so that one attempt takes approximately 80 milliseconds. This means it would take more than 5 years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers, or 21 years for a nine-digit passcode with numbers only.

To further discourage brute-force passcode attacks, the iOS interface enforces escalating time delays after the entry of an invalid passcode at the Lock screen. Users can choose to have the device automatically wiped after 10 failed passcode attempts.

20130801-090617.jpg

For details about passcode policies, see the

iPhone Configuration Utility documentation

For more details regarding further suitable settings of your device see my blog

Emergency Guide

The article contains download links for the related mind map visualizing all recommended settings.

2 Activating Find My iPhone service …

The first action you probably do is to look where your mobile device actually is by using Apple’s Find My iPhone service. But if the thief is at all smart he won’t give you a chance to find your iPhone or iPad. Instead of leaving Find My iPhone on, the thief might turn it off and/or factory reset/wipe the device themselves. If the goal is to resell the device and not steal your personal information, this method is pretty handy.

You never heard of Apple’s Find My iPhone feature?

Here is a short visualized description.

These settings only work after turning on iCloud.
Admittedly this feature only works if your iPhone (or iPad) is connected to the internet.
So don’t forget to activate the option ‘Notify me when found’.

3 Setup Restrictions …

You find this security feature when going to Settings – General – Restrictions. There you can prevent different settings of your device from being changed. If a thief already hacked the device’s unlock code he again is confronted with a barrier, the 4-digit passcode for restrictions. If you use this recommended feature enter a 4-digit passcode which is different from your device’s unlock code to improve security. See my mind map ‘Emergency Guide’ for details about functions for which access should be restricted or in other words, changes are not allowed.

It’s out of question that you usually will not get back your iPhone if it’s stolen. Additionally many thieves are professionals so that your iPhone usually will be reset to factory settings and all the actions you undertook to secure your device are useless.

What did Apple add to iOS 7?

The new feature ‘Activation Lock‘, which works alongside Find My iPhone, should make it much harder for iPhone thieves to use or even resell stolen phones. If the thief hacked your unlock code and wants to resell the iPhone he usually goes to Settings – General – Reset and resets all settings. That means the iPhone can be easily activated with a new Apple ID.

Activation Lock in iOS 7 now won’t let that happen because your iPhone now is bound to your Apple ID and cannot be reactivated without this ID and the related password. This makes iPhones worthless to thieves (at the time!).

20130801-101138.jpg

It starts working the moment you turn on Find My iPhone. With Activation Lock, your Apple ID and password will be required before anyone can:

  • Turn off Find My iPhone on your device
  • Erase your device
  • Reactivate and use your device

This can help you keep your device secure, even if it is in the wrong hands, and can improve your chances of recovering it. Even if you erase your device remotely, Activation Lock can continue to deter anyone from reactivating your device without your permission. All you need to do is keep Find My iPhone turned on, and remember your Apple ID and password.

We have to keep in mind that the efficacy of activation lock as a deterrent is directly tied to how many potential thieves know it exists. Few bad guys are going to think twice about snatching iPhones until many bad guys know that they won’t be able to sell the things afterwards.

This feature is only available for devices compatible with iOS 7. That means the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4, the iPad Mini, and the iPod Touch 5th generation and up are all compatible. Everyone else will need to keep a better eye on their stuff.

Requirements …

Does activation lock mean that you never can resell your iPhone if you upgraded to a newer model?

No. Activation lock can be removed by going to Settings – General – … and deactivating the feature by entering your Apple ID and your password. This must be done before reselling the device!

Reselling your device …

Before you resell your device follow these steps:

Method 1
You can remove all settings and information from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch by going to Settings – General – Reset and tapping on Erase All Content and Settings.

If you wish to recover the data again, ensure that you have an iCloud or iTunes backup and that it’s up to date.

Newer devices running on iOS 5 and later support hardware encryption. Erasing the device means removing the encryption key that protects the data. This process takes just a few minutes.

Method 2
Use iTunes to restore your iPhone to factory settings.

Plug the phone into a computer running iTunes and wait for it to appear in the ‘Devices’ section of the iTunes sidebar. Select the iPhone from the sidebar and then make sure you’re on the “Summary” tab. Under ‘Version’ select ‘Restore‘. You’ll receive a pop-up dialog informing you that this step will erase your phone and reset it to factory settings. Click Restore to continue.
iTunes will now download the latest firmware for the iPhone, which may take several minutes depending on your connection speed. Once downloaded, iTunes will automatically begin the restore process during which your phone will reboot twice. After the process is completed, the phone will appear in iTunes as a new device and ask you for a device name. Before entering any information, disconnect the phone. It has now been wiped of your personal information and is ready for sale.

Reset …

Keep in mind that a reset (to factory settings with all data being erased) is different from a reset which is necessary if the device stucks that means it’s not responding or not operating as expected. This troubleshooting assistant can help you resolve these most common issues:

  • Display remains black or blank
  • Touch screen not responding
  • Application unexpectedly closes or freezes

Because it’s in the context here are the steps to reset your device without erasing data:

Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time for at least 10 seconds, until the Apple logo appears.

To just restart the iPhone (after it stucks) first turn iPhone off by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button until a red slider appears. Slide your finger across the slider and iPhone will turn off after a few moments. Next, turn iPhone on by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button until the Apple logo appears. Then enter your passcode and the PIN of your SIM-Card.

An overview …

Over years Apple improved security features and today it’s computer operating system OS X as well as the mobile operating system iOS are seen as the most secure approaches on the market. See this overview of security features of all components of Apple’s ecosystem.

20140704-061234-22354121.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts for iOS (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Word DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Summary …

Activation Lock is a first step to reduce crime caused by smartphones. It’s another innovative step of the company and other manufacturers have to follow.

Nothing is really secure today. It’s an ongoing fight between hackers improving their knowledge and companies finding the (ultimate) next step to prevent users from attacks. So it’s a question of time that professional thieves will figure out a way to circumvent Apple’s new anti-theft solution.

So even with Activation Lock I recommend to keep an observing eye on your device which is the best added protection beside all the other security settings mentioned in my mind map ‘Emergency Guide’.

Related links …

The Apple ID

Every app is an island

2-Step Verification

Fingerprint Technology

Emergency Guide

Apple about iOS Security
for more technical details of the operating system.

Glad to have you here on iNotes4You.
Thanks for visiting my blog.





Office 365 for Mobiles

9 10 2013

After a long time of silence and not really useful offers Microsoft released it’s product Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers on June 18, 2013. Microsoft’s description starts with this hint:

Please note: An office 365 subscription is required to use this app.

Users who first want to try out the features of this app and to check whether it’s more powerful than Apple’s iWork suite first have to subscribe to Office 365. Beside many other faults Microsoft made when trying to get a foothold in the mobile market here is the next ‘MSID’.

Traction -everybody knows this from race cars- is vital to success. Launching without sufficient traction seems to be an ongoing fault of Microsoft. Instead of showing the world that the mobile Office suite is an awesome app compared to Apple’s iWork suite the company first collects money even from users who don’t want or need a subscription of Office 365 for about 100$ per year with additional 20 GB space on SkyDrive, licenses for up to 5 PCs or Macs and 5 mobile devices (other than devices already running with Windows Mobile), and permanent updating to the latest versions of the Office Suite.

The offer is worth buying for users of Microsoft products.
But for consumers and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) users, Office 365’s appeal has been somewhat less clear. Millions use older versions of Office running on their home computers, and for the majority of tasks, these aging editions are still adequate. Unless one needs to sync content across devices via SkyDrive, or have access to documents while on-the-go, many of the newest versions’ enhancements simply won’t warrant an upgrade.

Even for new customers, Office 365 might not appeal. People who use Office on only one machine, and who aren’t concerned about immediate upgrades, could also save money by buying the standalone version of Office 2013.

Microsoft wants to stimulate upgrades, and would rather that customers opt for subscriptions, which provide a perpetual revenue stream. I think the contrary will be the case. All those interested have no chance to evaluate the product without paying in advance.

20130730-094357.jpg

Microsoft accents that Office Mobile is a lightweight version of its desktop equivalent, not meant for in-depth content creation so much as document review, collaboration, and annotation. The new product certainly enhances capabilities of iOS devices, but much of what it offers was either already available out of the box (e.g. DocsToGo by DataViz), or through a series of workarounds. Most of the available iOS apps already allow users to view most types of Office file formats and mobile device management companies already offer iOS users the ability to access and annotate SharePoint files.

Office for mobiles goes beyond and simplifies these earlier solutions, of course, adding not only true document editing capabilities but also useful syncing features, such as the ability to begin working on a document on a PC, leave and seamlessly resume work on a mobile device with a UI fit in with the form factor of a smartphone and a tablet.

The features of Office 365 mobile …

General …

Microsoft Office Mobile is the official Office companion optimized for the iPhone. You can access, view and edit your Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents from virtually anywhere. Documents look like the originals, thanks to support for charts, animations, SmartArt graphics and shapes. When you make quick edits or add comments to a document, the formatting and content remain intact.

Details …

  • Cloud
    With your phone, you can access Office documents that are stored on SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro, or SharePoint.
  • Recent Documents
    Office Mobile is cloud connected.
    The documents you’ve recently viewed on your computer are readily available on your phone in the recent documents panel.
  • E-Mail Attachments
    You can view and edit Office documents attached to email messages.
  • Optimized for phone
    Word, Excel and PowerPoint have been optimized for the small screen of your phone.
  • Resume Reading
    When opening a Word document from SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro on your phone, it automatically resumes at the place where you left off reading, even if you last viewed the document on your PC or tablet.
  • Presentation Views
    The Slide Navigator view in PowerPoint lets you browse slides faster, while speaker notes help you practice your presentation.
  • Edit
    You can make quick edits to Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
  • Documents Remain Intact
    Formatting and content remain intact when you edit Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents on your phone.
  • Edit While Offline
    Your device doesn’t have to be continuously connected to the network to work on an Office document that is stored online.
    You can view and edit recently used documents even while you’re offline. Your changes will be saved online when your device reconnects to the network or to WiFi.
  • Create
    You can create new Word and Excel documents on your phone.
  • Comments
    You can review comments that have been made in Word and Excel documents on your phone and add your own comments.
  • Share
    When you’re done with your edits or comments, simply send the document in E-Mail or save it to SkyDrive or SharePoint.

Requirements …

  • An Office 365 subscription is required to use this app.
  • Compatible with iPhone 4, 4S, and 5, iPod Touch 5th Generation. Requires iOS 6.1 or later.
  • Microsoft Office 2013 on a PC is needed for features like recent documents and resume reading.
  • Office 365 account and setup necessary. Data connection required. Storage limits and carrier fees apply.

All this already was offered by Apple when launching iCloud in October 12, 2011. As of April 2013, Apple’s service has 320 million users! With the launch of iOS 7 in 2013 iWork for iCloud will be presented. This service enables you to edit all iWork documents by just using a browser.

See this mind map summarizing the comparison of Office 365 and Apple’s iWork suite.

20131001-185358.jpg

Feel free to download this mind map.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

An alternative …

When it comes to compatibility issues between Microsoft Office and Apple iWork documents it might be useful to install an app which is capable to manage and edit Microsoft file formats (usually Excel, Word, and Powerpoint documents). But there is still no need to subscribe for Office 365.

CloudOn …

CloudOn, Inc., USA
CloudOn is ready to work when and where you are. It puts Microsoft Office® on your favorite devices (iOS and Android) and provides access to the files you already store in the cloud with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive. And, with the ability to better create, manage and share your work all from a single workspace it’s a can’t-live-without-it productivity solution you and your team can depend on.

20130730-095908.jpg

The features of CloudOn …

With cloud on you can manage Microsoft Excel, Word, and Powerpoint documents by using the original version of Microsoft Office on your touchscreen.

CloudOn works with the original version of Microsoft Office which is not adapted for touchscreens. So it’s no real alternative except for simple editing or just displaying of a document and annotating it.

There are some other apps available in Apple’s App Store like DocsToGo by DataViz Inc., USA with a lot of experience on developing apps for Apple’s mobiles. All these apps are much more cheaper than an Office 365 subscription and do what they should do. DocsToGo connects to Dropbox, Box, SugarSync, and GoogleDrive. Unfortunately connections cannot be established via FTP and WebDAV.

20130730-104704.jpg

Summary …

People who work frequently with Microsoft products but nevertheless use Apple’s iPad as the mobile device should use Microsoft’s Office 365 but only if there is an iPad version available for this product. When writing the article at the end of July 2013 Office 365 was only available for the iPhone or by using the 2x-Zoom on an iPad which is definitely not a suitable solution.

CloudOn uses Microsoft’s original controls, not adapted for touchscreens and is only a good choice for simple editing but not for creating more complex documents.

DocsToGo would be my suggestion if the user’s environment is primarily built up with other Microsoft products. It helps to avoid compatibility issues which occur when saving Apple’s iWork documents in Microsoft Office formats.

Related links …

CloudOn

Microsoft Office 365

Roadtest on beyondmobileltd

DocsToGo by DataViz Inc.

Apple iWork

Thanks a lot for visiting my blog.








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