Today the post is not directly related to photography, but about the most useful apps & softwares I have been using and used. We will be looking at Telegram – a messaging app, Note taking apps ‘ColorNote & Simplenote’, Cloud backup services Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive & Dropbox, and few other interesting apps/add-ons like Pocket & Light beam. Though I am not writing a review here on each and every app/software with their pro’s and con’s but rather a user experience with these softwares. This article is little bit long and so I suggest that you to find a place to sit probably with a cup of coffee.
Let’s start with the chat app Telegram, an app which is competing with ‘WhatsApp’ the most popular chat app. Though both of them appears almost similar, telegram has got an upper hand in many aspects than WA. Telegram claims to be delivering messages almost instantly and much more, will look at the features one by one.
- Standalone softwares for all devices with one single account. You can start a conversation with your android or apple mobile phone, switch it to your tablet for whatsoever the reason, continue on a Mac or windows desktop. The chats are synced centrally. Personally I love this feature as I feel difficult to type via smartphone, I installed telegram in my Mac desktop and in my windows laptop and I enjoy a lot.
- Self-destructive messages can be sent with timer setup for confidential sharings and much more. Remember these messages are not stored in telegram servers hence cannot be retrieved at any point in time after it’s destruction.
- You can create a global user name for yourself(based on availability though), by this feature one can chat with you without knowing your mobile no. They can find you on their device by searching your username then proceed with the intended conversation.
- Telegram servers are installed all over the globe in a decentralised system. So one should be having fast connectivity.
- Group nos can go up to 200. Presently WA provides the group nos upto 100.
- Any documents can be shared via telegram – pdfs, office files, video, photos etc. This is one outstanding feature where WA lacks. For offices and small companies this would be an interesting feature.
- You can chat with your very account in a public computer or a friend’s computer via browser, you need your mobile phone once to initiate the account connection. WA lacks this feature significantly, as of now WA account can be used via chrome browser and that too your mobile phone needs to be connected with Wi-fi.
- One can use telegram from their computer, without installing the app in your phone (this feature is awesome where people have wired internet connectivity but not much data connectivity for their phones and people who live in rural areas with basic mobile phones but having internet connected computers.
Telegram is being updated often and the company is adding new features to it quite often, in the latest update one can add people to a group with username alone, without having their mobile no. known to the group members or for that matter even to the group admin. Thus privacy guaranteed.
I have found two downsides about telegram. One being telegram not available for Blackberry phones, one of my friend who wants to use telegram in her BB phone but unable to use because of the non-availability. Hope they release soon BB version soon. The other downside being unable to share a contact from android mobile phone ( is their any way to share contact from phone via telegram? If so let me know) But a contact can be shared via iMac desktop app.
Since many of you are already using Whatsapp I am not getting into it in detail. In the recent times WA have added calling feature, anyone who is using the latest version can call the other person who is also using the latest version. But it seems to be the feature is available on invite basis. One should call you to enable it in your phone.
The next what we gonna look into is note taking apps namely Simplenote & ColorNote.
ColorNote is a simple note taking app available only for android phones with online syncing facility. Online syncing facility means you can get back all your notes back to your new or other different android phone after you sign in with your account. You can’t see your notes online by accessing your account or other ways. Your notes can be classified by assigning colours to it, you can later see the notes based on the colours you have assigned to it.
Archive facility is available in ColorNote for less used notes but you might want to have access in later point of time. If you are a simple user to maintain reminders, create ‘to do list’ and if you do not want to use it in any other devices this app is a good choice.
When I was using this app I had written a small blogpost for my blog, sitting in my hotel room. After that, I had to transfer the note to PC via copy pasting to Evernote and I had made the post in my blog, tedious though.
You can create checklists in this app, you can use the checklist to plan your vacation, things to be packed, shopping list while coming back from office etc., You can use this app without even creating an account at the cost of not having a backup of your notes. You can take backup of your notes in the SD card if you wish so.
You can also search the notes with the help of a keyword, all the notes will be displayed if that keyword is in the note. As of now I am not using this app, I have switched to the below one.
Simplenote comes with a very simple and neat white coloured interface with tag feature available for Mac computers, android & apple smartphones and for Kindle as well.
Once you creat your account you can access your notes either from your android/apple phone or from your mac computer or from your tablet. It is synced across devices in real time. If you wish you can download all your notes in a zip file.Without signing in you can use simplenote locally in a android phone, the moment you think you need a backup you probably sign up and get it done.
This is the app I have been using for sometime now and I am completely loving it. I use to write notes from my phone and work on it when I sit in front of the computer. It really does the job and organises the same with simple tags. You can see the relative notes with the tags almost instantly once you click the tag on your left side panel, Instantly all the relative notes will appear on your right most panel.
The only downside I come across is, this app is not available for Windows computer. Because I use an android phone, an iMac computer and a Windows laptop all three for specific purposes. My Android phone is somehow central for everything from chats, mails, notes etc etc., and sharing specific files to specific people in dropbox, sharing specific documents with specific people in Google Drive. My Windows laptop is handy 13” one, I use it for writing blogposts, taking with me for shoots where I transfer files from different memory cards into the computer immediately after completing the shoot, Once I come back I sort it and transfer it to the External HDD. From External HDD an online backup will reach Amazon cloud drive into my account.
I am using Evernote as well but Evernote has evolved a lot from it’s initial version. It is not a simple note taking software/app anymore.
Online Backup storage systems
As the digital media content is increasing with lot of people in a multiple leaps by photographs and videos the backup system cannot be constrained only with your possession. It needs to be there somewhere online in an unknown location. There are many service providers nowadays – the old Dropbox, later Google drive and now Amazon cloud drive to do this, will discuss about them below.
Google Drive for Documents, Spreadsheets, Slides and forms. A very good system for bloggers, freelance artists and small companies for collating their work. It comes with many features like creating a blank document work it up and you can download it in Word format, pdf, Open document format, rich text format, plain text and html zipped. Spreadsheet also works in the same way. Not only this you can create your own forms with customised questions for survey and can be sent out to people for their response. The responses are automatically stored in a separate spreadsheet in the same file name with “form responses” on it’s end.
The other cool feature is that the documents can be shared with multiple people and with specific privileges at your wish. You can choose the privileges when you send out the share invite mail from Drive, the mail can be send out to the collaborators from the drive window itself. But these sent mails won’t appear in your mail account in sent folder, Personally I wish Google does this. As of now what I do is I mark a copy to myself when I send a collaboration invite mail to a person, the mail reaches my mail inbox and then I apply appropriate label to that, the follow up become easier this way.
If you share a document with any person or persons, it can be edited in real time with a chat box on the right side. Where you can have all the discussion and proceed with the edit, I think this is one of the cool feature google provides you.
You can save any kind of documents in google drive it syncs across your devices and comes with a 15 GB free space, this 15GB is the Drive’s content, your photos you might have saved in google + and Gmail. The pricing of Drive starts from $1.99 per month for 100GB and $9.99 per month for 1TB of storage space.
I don’t keep a desktop Drive folder by installing their drive app, simply because in order to access the documents you need to stay connected. So i did not install the desktop app, but a recent news I read states that the documents can be accessed offline by using a chrome browser and the documents can be edited as well offline. The edits are kept in the browser’s cache and is added to the document once the user become online.
Another interesting feature that comes with the document is that after every edit you do it is separately saved and can be accessed from the file menu, click file and then click see revision history. A sidebar opens up and shows the complete history of the document with the details of the person who made the edit and the edit too. Cool one isn’t it?
The saving spaces are calculated for Drive as
Gmail – Everything, the mail content + attachment if any
Drive – All the contents except the documents created by Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
Google + – Any photographs bigger than 2048 ✕ 2048 pixels in size, anything less than this size is not accounted.
The pricing of Google Drive was quite competitive (before amazon’s entry) because the pricing is sensible, google based the pricing on the capacity of the storage one may be using.
An old pal in the storage business, dropbox is straightforward one it does not do anything other than storing the files. You put it in their space, that’s it. After that you either link your other devices to the account or download them to any computer by accessing online via browser.
Dropbox’s interface is one of the intelligent way of designing a software or anything where human interaction is required. Once you install the desktop version, one folder is created in the name of Dropbox and you can decide the location where it needs to be resided in your computer. After that whatever you put inside that folder will be synced across the devices you have linked. A green tick mark appears on the bottom corner of the folder/file icon once it is uploaded successfully.If it is being uploaded, a blue colour sync symbol appears in the same place.
Dropbox is user friendly in all aspects, you can do selective sync as you wish, you can pause the download/upload temporarily if you are working online in some other important thing. All you have to do is click the dropbox icon from the taskbar and click the gear icon after that click preferences to change the settings.
Personally I like Dropbox and i have been using it for more than 3 years, it is the only medium I use for sharing the completed works with my clients. The pricing appears high in present market situations. Dropbox costs you $9.99 per month for 1TB of storage space. Dropbox’s basic account starts with 2GB of free storage space.
As of now Google Drive and Dropbox costs the same $9.99 per month for 1TB storage space.
Amazon Cloud Drive
Though Amazon Cloud is pretty new in to this storage space game, they played well in the initial stage itself ensuring a strong customer base. Introducing 3 months trial with unlimited photos plus 5GB of videos. After the trial period there is still no ceiling for the storage space and the charge is $11.99 per year in “Unlimited Photos” plan. Most common camera RAW files are considered under photos under this plan. So no worries to an amateur photographer out there.
Another plan in the name of “Unlimited Everything” you can store anything in digital format at a price of $59.99 per year, which leaves less than $5 per month without any storage space limit. In the world where every other game player charges based upon the storage space, amazon struck right on the chord, which may not be a good news for other players we discussed above.
Amazon desktop add appears so far so good, I have not used it for a long period to comment about it, I might add an update in a later point in time. Hope Amazon does not increase the price or bring any ceiling to the storage space in future, which will definitely make a strong dissatisfaction to the customers.
One other app I liked and i have been using for a long time is Pocket, earlier it was known as ‘Read it later’. This is an add on/extension available for most popular browsers. What exactly it does is, it enables the user to save a web address to access it for later usage and you can download the web/text content to the local memory in your computer which you can access later even without an internet connection.
This app installs smoothly inside the browser and a small icon appears next to the browser’s address bar which enables the user to save the article for later usage. You can add tags to the web pages which is one interesting feature. And as you may expect this addon is available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari – So regardless of the browser or computer you might be using you can sign in and get the article saved and it can be accessed from anywhere.
This is one interesting add on to Firefox browser which displays the connections between websites even after you closed a particular tab or when the tabs are open. Actual usage of this addon is difficult for me to describe but I felt it would be really helpful to someone in web developing, SEO, online advertising etc., If you are using this add on do let me know what the real purpose of this addon is.
Do you use any other interesting apps or any other interesting softwares, do let me know below.