I previously wrote a post here on Hackerspace describing how I used various tactics to not only make my computer and phone look similar, but also sync over the air. Since then, I have made various changes in the interface I use, both in terms of the layout and the actual services I use.
In my original post, I described the goals I had for the experiment:
A couple of days ago, I decided to try an experiment and set up a Windows 7 Laptop and iPhone to not only look similar, but to also sync seamlessly between each other. In other words, I tried to create a unified experience between the two devices.
My goal was to eventually be able to begin reading or working on something from one device, and if I needed to switch to the other, not only would the user experience be similar, but the content as well. I opted to keep a few icons on the home screen/desktop of the devices.
Yesterday, I decided to update the system I had — over time, it had become cluttered and I could see areas where I could further simplify the interface. In this post, I’ll discuss both the interface, as well as the services I use.
I spent some time moving around and in some cases, changing icons on my Windows 7 computer.
From left to right; top row first: Evernote, Google Chrome, Spotify, iTunes, Windows Explorer, Gmail, Dropbox [folder], Feedly
Most of the icons I used were from Applove’s Free program icons Set, except for the Evernote icon and iTunes icon. I kept the default Spotify. The Gmail and Feedly icons were taken from the Chrome Web Apps — which brings me to the Chrome App Launcher:
Having the App Launcher in my taskbar lets me call up any website, conduct a Google search, or open any of my Chrome Apps with a click. I haven’t assigned a keyboard shortcut to the task because I don’t really feel the need to do so. The App Launcher happens to be the only pinned application on my taskbar, since it provides access to so many different things. For example, rather than opening a new tab in Chrome, I can now just launch the App Launcher and select whatever I need.
I created a simple Purple-Blue gradient to serve as the wallpaper, and then rotated it to put on my phone:
Now, we can discuss some of the applications themselves.
Note: some of the content is replicated from my older post; however, some apps I have discussed have changed.
File Syncing: Dropbox
I have been using Dropbox for a long time. I use Dropbox for syncing many presentations and files, as well as the auto-upload feature on iOS.
Note Taking: Evernote
With each update, Evernote improves more and more. As a note-taking tool, the sync between desktop and mobile is really useful. The reminders feature, which I wrote about earlier, is particularly handy on mobile. It can do a variety of things, from creating simple text notes to saving PDF documents for later reference (and often scanning their text too for quick searching). This way, my notes aren't tied to any one specific device; I can access them from any computer on the Web as well.
RSS Reader: Feedly/Reeder
I’ve stuck with Feedly as my RSS reader. I use its web app on my computer. There is a Feedly app for iOS, but I have been using the Reeder app. Each of the two has its strengths, which I have written about previously. Since Reeder syncs with Feedly, the unread articles are matched on my computer and phone.
I use Google Chrome on both my computer and phone. I have Tab Sync set up across both these devices, so I can view the tabs currently open on the computer from my phone, and vice-versa. The Omnibar also performs similarly on both platforms, filling in websites I've been to before when I've typed the first character in.
There are some apps which I did not include in this list but wrote about in the previous iteration of this experiment. Conversely, there are some newer apps in this list. I’m not sure whether this is the simplest setup I can achieve while also reaching this degree of syncing. Maybe there are better ways to achieve this. I’ll try this system out before deciding.