16 Oct 2014

10 Cloud gadgets, apps, and tricks that you may never have considered (or heard about)

We all know the basics about what cloud is good for – it helps lower costs within an organisation, it enhances the security of an organisation’s data, and it facilitates better levels of collaboration between employees.

But there are all kinds of innovations and tricks with cloud technology that most people either aren’t making use of, or aren’t even aware of. The sheer number of gadgets and applications that make cloud technology a core of their functions are now staggering, and these gadgets and applications, whether for personal or professional use, are leading to ever greater levels of convenience and productivity in our society.

Below are ten examples of either neat tricks that you can do while working in the cloud, or innovations that make use of cloud to do something either cool or highly functional.

1)      Instantly upload photos taken on a camera

eyefi Mobi is a really awesome little memory card. You stick it into your camera and it creates a WiFi signal. Connect to that with your Laptop, iOS or Android device and each photo you take with the camera will be instantly upload and save the image to your device. Because the Mobi card itself is the signal you can be anywhere in the world and regardless of Internet connection still use it. In addition, eyefi is also rolling out a cloud storage service for unlimited photos that you can send photos to automatically when in an area with a standard WiFi connection.

2)      Keep track of how long you spend doing stuff

Working on timesheets? Hate using them? Toggl (www.toggl.com) is your cloud-based solution to this. The free solution, which works across desktop, mobile and can even collect overall time spent on a project by a whole team, automatically generates reports and does all the pesky record keeping that, ironically enough, can chew up plenty of your day.

3)      Listen to any radio station anywhere in the world

TuneIn (www.tunein.com) is the perfect way to have the radio in the background as you work. It works across devices (including iOS, Android and your game consoles), and your list of favourite stations will be saved across each device. Pair it up with a Bluetooth speaker and you’re set to having your favourite radio station with you at all times regardless of where you are.

4)      For that matter, create your own radio station

Assuming that you don’t want to set up servers and have computers running 24/7 to broadcast, it’s easy to sign up with Radionomy (www.radionomy.com) and you’ll be able to create your own radio station. You’ll upload music or podcasts and set rules for how often these things should repeat and instantly you’ll have a 24/7 broadcast.

5)      Build your own personal cloud

Western Digital has created the My Cloud range of storage hard drives, and they couldn’t be easier to use. You plug it into your modem, and then you’re able to create individual “accounts” for each person to log into, regardless of where they are in the world. It’s possible to back up important files, or create public folders so that you can share photos and videos with family and friends. Micro businesses can even use it as a cheap fileserver, and because it is so easy to set up and manage, there’s no need for tech support.

6)      Use Dropbox to auto-recover MS Word crashes

It’s possible to auto-save Word documents to the Dropbox folder and have the synced online. Like most people there will be times where you’ve been working on a document for some length of time, and forgotten to save, and then panicked when Word crashes. By using this simple safeguard, even if the local Word file is irrecoverably lost, Dropbox will have a completely up-to-date version sitting there in the cloud to download and recover from.

7)       Create an online memorial for a loved one

A death in the family is a sad event, but creating a permanent, lasting testament to that person’s life is a powerful way to help remember them. Whether you want to use a specialist service for this, such as HeavenAddress (https://www.heavenaddress.com/), or build your own through a blogging or similar platform, one of the best uses of Cloud technology is in allowing people from around the world to share memories of loved ones.

8)      Completely automate your office or home

Gadget nuts must love what the Cloud has done for them. Never mind the smart TVs, washing machines and fridges which can all be managed remotely via the cloud, it’s possible to get gadgets that can be remotely managed for everything from light bulbs right through to the thermostat. It might sound silly, but it’s serious business, and Google has even acquired a company producing these kinds of devices (Nest Labs, the maker of the aforementioned thermostat and network-connected smoke detectors: http://www.informationweek.com/mobile/mobile-devices/google-buys-nest-labs/d/d-id/1113429). The sheer amount of automation that is possible now can be used in business too, either to keep costs from power use down or improve the physical security of a premise by ensuring that someone is always able to manage the premise, even when not on it.

9)      Keep safe while driving

Toyota is predicting that by 2017 every single one of the cars it sells into Australia will have telematics technology built into it. Far from being a simple GPS built into the bonnet of a car, telematics can be used to provide all kinds of real-time data about the driving habits of an individual. That might sound like Big Brother, but when you consider that it would allow a company that has a lot of remote workers to ensure that their staff are happy and healthy while on the road, it’s an cloud investment that can literally save lives.

10)   Stay healthy in general

The amount of data that simple wrist bands can collect now; on sleeping and eating habits, on fitness routines, and so on, means that wearable technology and the data that it shoots off into the cloud is going to become an important part of an individual’s health and wellbeing in the future. It’s only a matter of time before doctors start looking at their patient’s wearable technology data (perhaps even stored on a dedicated medical health cloud) to help with diagnosis and an increased awareness of people’s own habits will lead them to a greater awareness of their own lives.