Since I spend somewhere between 85% and 95% of my day on the Web, I try out a lot of new services. Most of what I try, I end up ditching, but there are the few that stick with me long term and truly adjust my daily work habits. I am talking about services like Dropbox, Mozy, Skype, and Tweetdeck. The ultimate example of a service that has completely replaced its predecessor is of course Gmail.
Anyone who knows me personally, or has observed my practices when it comes to gadgets and technology, knows that I pay attention to small details. As you know, I recently began using a Blackberry Bold as my primary handset, and all in all, I am very happy with it. I wrote about my first impressions and why I am not trading it in for an iPhone. I wrote about my issues with RIM as a company and with Blackberry as a phone, but I felt a strong need to emphasize one serious issue with RIM’s offering.
When I first laid my hands on the BlackBerry Bold, my declared intention was to try it out and eventually sell it for a new iPhone 3Gs. After two weeks of intense use, I have completely changed my mind, and as of now, I am very much sticking with the Bold. The machine impressed me on every front. The keyboard beats anything I have ever encountered on a mobile device and the same goes for the screen. In fact, when watching a video on the Bold’s display, it amazes me every time how clear and vibrant the picture is.
As we wait for any big news from CES, and grieve about the almost total lack of any news at all from Macworld, I thought I would tell you about a desktop application that is up there with the best I have ever used. It it not new, but its latest updates make it a real show-stopper. I am talking about the IM, Social Networking, and email aggregator for PC, Mac, or Linux; Digsby.
I have been using Digsby for months now and I have to say, it is almost flawless. Now, for me to say that about a program is a big deal, I am the kind of user that gets annoyed by the most trivial and ridiculous little quirks that 99% of people would never notice. Anyway, Digsby gives you a very clean and nice looking interface that includes the following services (sit down, it’s a long list):
- AIM: Oldie but goody
- MSN Messenger: Still a very good program even with the endless spam
- GTalk: Keeps getting better
- Yahoo Messenger: It serves its purpose, not great, but they get an A for effort
- ICQ: Never used it, but props for being the first of the gang
- Jabber: Never used it
- Facebook chat: Buggy but very useful
Those are the IM networks only, here is what else you have access to without even opening up your Web browser:
- Hotmail: Designed by Microsoft, but there are still people using it
- Gmail: Best email, period
- Yahoo Mail: Always getting better
- AOL/AIM Mail: No comment
- IMAP: Huge fan
- POP: Good to have
Now, for the big news, the latest Digsby update added the following social networking sites:
- Facebook: Will take some time till someone takes its place
- Twitter: Love it, love it, love it
- MySpace: Never used it, but very popular
- LinkedIn: The interface could be better, but very useful, I am told
OK, enough lists. Bottom line is, Digsby pretty much offers you every possible tool used to communicate on the Web (I guess Skype is missing, but then again, with so many VOIP options in the above lists, why use Skype?).
In addition to all the available services, the actual experience is absolutely perfect. Tabbed conversations, awesome skins, nicknames, reply from within popup notifications, Facebook and Twitter updates that do not disturb your work, and more and more. I can go on and on with Digsby’s amazing features, but I am sure you get the point.
Just to summarize, ever since I installed the latest update, I have not opened up a browser more than twice, and that was to check the news. So, why is it not the perfect program? Well, if I have to name something, it does not include CNN updates, yet!
I want to share my experience with the new Gmail mobile application. I installed it on my Nokia e71 about 2 weeks ago and I think it’s a really great application if you are a Gmail user. This application allows you to read and write your emails without accessing your mobile browser, which forces you to be online at all times. With the Gmail app, you can write emails even when offline. Besides, 3G is costly and then there’s the coverage issue.
The look and feel is very much the same as the Gmail mobile web page, the menus are up to par with the look and feel of any touch screen device.
If you remember, Google introduced a Gmail desktop app with the announcement of Crome. That basically does a similar thing, a desktop application for Gmail, although you have to be online and there are no extra features.
The Gmail app doesn’t have IM capability to power your Google talk but there are other applications that keep us connected on mobile phones. There is always the next version
Google released a new version of their Mobile Gmail client for all Java phones as well as Blackberry devices. The new client brings offline email so you can read and compose your emails when you have no access to the Web. It also supports multiple account access and a few new shortcuts to access its menu.
I have used this app many times and as convenient as it was to have Gmail on my phone, it always struck me as a little primitive. After reading about the enhancements of the second generation Mobile Gmail, my opinion has not changed. In the 3 years since the original app came out, all Google could come up with is offline access? Didn’t Outlook do that like 10 years ago? OK, granted Outlook is on a PC and this is on a cellphone, but still, I expected much greater enhancements, like maybe the ability to have it run in the background and notify you of new mail.
Maybe Google should stop spending money on fighter jets (yes, Google bought a fighter jet) and pay their developers more money to actually make useful products.