We already told you about some of our favourite Chrome apps in the first post of this series, So this time its time to dive a little deeper into applications/extensions that will actually help you to do things for which you otherwise would need an application. We have broken them down into some easy categories for you to follow.
I think the days we actually stored music on our devices and played back those files are as obsolete as shouting “Put the needle on the Record” at some teen playing a DJ gig with his laptop. Since we are talking about Chrome extensions here, I can only assume that you have a connection to the internet all the time. With so many free audio streaming services available the only thing that is keeping you from playing the latest Shakira album over and over (and over) is your bandwidth cap. Some of the Chrome extensions we love here are Spotify and Soundcloud. Sure you get some commercials when you use the free service, but that’s just like real actual radio. If you should be in the business of running your own PLEX server at home and would like to stream your (audio and video) content on your Chromebook ? Try the Plex app. (But do make sure that you open up the right ports on your router if you want to access your server from the outside).
But what about when listening to music is not enough ? There are a couple of great apps out there that will actually help you MAKE some music. From simple voice recording with “Voice Recorder” to rather complex audio mixing with Audiotool. Want to annoy your friends by badly mixing 2 tracks together using an online DJ mixer ? Try Until AM.
Connecting to other machines.
But what if your Chromebook isn’t enough and you need to connect to other systems and devices ? When you need an SSH session to your Linux machine (or your mac) at home “Secure Shell” is without a shadow of a doubt one of our favourite applications. It reminds us of the popular Windows terminal client PUTTY only 4983 times better. It remembers sessions you have saved to your servers across multiple sessions of Chrome, so you always have your connections at your fingertips. If you need to go a step further and dive into the graphical side of things, you might want to try “Chrome RDP” to connect to your machines running the Remote Desktop Protocol.
Ok, The only reason you bought a Chromebook (or use Chrome) is so you can spend hours on 9gag and Reddit. So its a good thing we even dug up some productivity apps. Outlook.com might be a little bit of blasphemy in this Gmail centered environment, but the Chrome app DOES get you to your mailbox environment even though its not controlled by the “Big Bad G”. Another pretty simple Chrome app we found is called Workflow. Workflow lets you organise your tasks into lists and sub-lists. It’s more like a text based mindmap but it does give you a pretty good overview of what you are working on and what subtasks are involved. Speaking of “simple” and “text based” we found “Writer” to be a very nice distraction free text editor for writing up text without being distracted. We love the “black and green” terminal like interface, especially if you run the Chrome app fullscreen. Writer lets you download your writings to different formats or saves them to the cloud so you can continue editing them in another chrome browser.
With all the commotion about the Heartbleed exploit .. Install the Lastpass Chrome app and sort out your passwords once and for all.
- Voice Recorder
- Until AM
- Secure Shell
- Chrome RDP
When you think of it “having applications inside of a browser” might seem like a bizarre idea. However this IS the case when you take a look at Chrome and the Chrome OS. All chrome applications that are available in the store (and that turn your Chromebook from a porn-browsing paperweight into an actual “computer”) are also perfectly usable inside the chrome browser.
The great thing about these chrome extensions (or chrome apps) is that they are highly cross platform. Whether you are running chrome on your Chromebook, your windows or Linux machine or even on your mac : Chrome apps will look the same everywhere. The also have vastly the same possibilities (and limitations) everywhere. Most of them might not be usable if you are offline, but most of them do simulate a full fledged application (where it not that you KNOW they are running inside a browser). As we hop from OS to OS we write sweet love poems to the following list of chrome-apps for giving us a consistent and pleasurable experience .
Some chrome apps are just links to web services, and with the Feedly chrome-app there is not getting around it. Its basically a link to the web based interface of Feedly. The good thing is : Feedly looks good, its fast and it works. The Chrome app takes care of logging in for you and BOOM you are reading through your 2908383098 unread articles. Good luck with that.
“Oh – Ah” .. I want to read that later ! That’s something we scream about 4 times a day when we tread upon an interesting article that is just to long to read at that very moment. I hit the “save to pocket” icon in my top tool bar and the article gets saved (with pictures and everything) to Pocket. Whenever I feel that i’m browsing around aimlessly ( Facebook – newspaper- Reddit – 9gag – newspaper …) I punch up the Pocket extension and browse through the articles I saved earlier. Pocket also has a great mobile app that lets you read the articles offline on your mobile device AND have the articles read out to you with a text-to-speech function that sounds like Stephen Hawkings hot sister.
Here we can only say one thing : This is without a shadow of a doubt one of the very best Evernote clients for Linux. By the time that our popular note taking application to release a native Linux application, pigs will have colonised other planets. There have been some attempts by open source beard bearing goblins to make a client that interfaces with Evernotes API on Linux .. but the chrome app takes the cake. Sure it won’t work offline, but it IS the cleanest way to connect to your web based version of Evernote on ANY OS.
Why would one need Google drive when one has Dropbox or even the locally installed Google Drive client ? The answer is simple. This extension does not drop the Google files into your desktop ecosystem .. this IS the Google desktop ecosystem. Not only do you get easy access top all the files you have stored on Google Drive , you can also instantly access them in the very same window, regardless of your OS. Whether you would like to write a love poem to Miley Cirus, do a spreadsheet on how you will managed your finances one you marry her .. or draft up a slideshow on why a care-bear should be featured as your upcoming company logo .. its all right there in ONE window.
Without my calendar I am lost. Browsing over to my calendar in the cloud and logging in to enter an appointment ? I’m too lazy. The Google calendar extension gives you your calendar in a window at the click of a mouse. I love having the short cut to this Google app (Because that is what it is) on my desktop is just too darn handy.
In know I might be boring you to death with Chrome apps for “standard” Google services .. but they ARE the ones that do what they do just right. The cool thing is that these (native) Chrome apps do give you the luxury of a standard desktop applications like notifications and the ability to become the “default’ application for handling any email shortcuts.
Visio. Microsofts ‘Miauw Du Chat’ when it comes to drawing up complicated flowcharts or organisational charts that feature your name waaaay down the bottom. There aren’t a lot of replacements from this app in the cross platform world. Good thing that there is Gliffy, Gliffy is free and has all kinds of nice flowcharts and funky network diagrams for you to play with. Gliffy even lets you store them on line (all though the number of Flowcharts you can save is limited in the free version).
We all have brilliant idea’s. We just don’t have the brilliant idea to stuff something (like a piece of paper or a pencil) in our pocket to write them down. That’s not such a bad thing because pen and paper is a pretty shitty way to manage an entire brain fart. You want to be able to draw branches and sub-branches. You want to organise your thoughts into categories and subcategories . You want to do this anywhere and preferably .. for free. Enter Mindmeister. A great online mindmapping tool that works on any device that comes with a browser (except the Nintendo Wii). Aside from having native clients on IOS and Android that sync with the cloud, Mindmeister now also has its own chrome app. You can only store one or two acts of brilliancy online in the free version .. but nobody ever said that you should have just ONE brain dump per document.
The one thing you have to DO with TO-DO lists is keep track of your to-do’s. If your to-do’s are stored on different devices, one of the things you need to do is keep them in sync. Any.do does sport a native IOS and Android client that syncs your Todo list with the cloud. The great thing about its chrome app is that it creates a nice pop-up window that you can set to the side and keep track of your to-do list that way. Any-do is as polished as a native app and looks identical on every os. Love it !
We close up 2013 AND season 7 of the Knightwise.com podcast with out Android Essentials list for 2013. Whether you have an Android Smartphone, Tablet or Mediasystem, this is the list you can’t afford to miss. Check out our selection of cross-platform friendly Android apps and enjoy some cool photography tips from Konrad Dwojak in the feedback section. Packed to the rafters its KW708.
- Show : Curating the library of your mind.
- Application list
- Google Calendar
- If this then that (Service)
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Hangouts
- Skype (not mentioned in the podcast)
- Weather Apps
- IMDB app
- Wikipedia App
- Google Now ( List of Google Now commands )
- ES File explorer
- Google Drive
- Archos video player (and Codec Pack)
- Photo tips from Konrad.
Five days is of course never enough to cover all the good podcasts you want to listen too. There are just too few hours in a day to cramp all that good content into your puny little mind. But we did think that you just HAD to get the rest of our list. Beware for cerebral overload should you subscribe to them all … but here we go : Straight from our podcatcher to yours .. The list.
- Windows Weekly : A weekly Twit show that talks about the wonderful world of Windows and Microsoft.
- This week in Enterprise Tech : For you corporate mouse jockeys who use Microsoft (and other technologies) in the corporate sector.
- Linux for the rest of us. A great show by the mighty DoorToDoorgeek who talks about Linux, open source and squirrels. SQUIRRELS ! ! !
- Linux action show. What happens if you splice together the DNA of 2 geeks with an espresso machine. This happens ! Morning-Radio style , geeky content.
- Ubuntu Uk podcast. Served with tea and crumpets (crumpits ? armpits ?) this is a great podcast that talks about Ubuntu and its community.
Mac (and IOS)
- The Nosillacast. Mac mayhem begins with the pod-princess. Great consistent high quality content with interesting interviews, product reviews and tons of Mac tips. (Warning : This show features an unusual level of Belgians).
- Mac Power Users. For the advanced Mac users that wants to go all Chuck Norris with his Cupertino machine. Great content, excellent tips.
- Android App Addicts. Another great show from the Podnutz network. Great app tips every-single-week. Beware of installation-craving-overload and don’t call us if you have five thousand apps on your homescreen. We TOLD you !
- Security Now. Deep geek security with Steve Gibson. Although the show is quite long and they sometimes beat around the bush before getting to the main topic, the content is rock solid.
- Sometimes you just have to chill or rock out. Podcasts are a great way to get weekly free music delivered to your mobile device. If you like to chill, there is nothing like the soothing sounds of Spacemusic. Podcasting veteran TC has been doing this show for nine seasons and has always delivered the highest quality audio (and the cutest Dutch-English accent in podcasting history) Download your ambient experience HERE.
- There is more to life then technology (Is there ?) so why not slide in some podcasts that improve your general knowledge. TED TALKS is the essential podcast to listen to for thought provoking lectures on a variety of topics. You can use the TED APP on your mobile device or subscribe to several of their audio or video streams. Ted talks are just awesome . If you don’t feel like subscribing you can even ‘pick and choose” what talk you would like to listen to in this massive spreadsheet.
- BBC History magazine. You might have dozed off during history class at school, so why not catch up a little. This cute little podcast always has something interesting to teach you without sounding as boring as your history teacher. (and this podcast does not have a bad breath like he did, nor does it have hair growing out of its ears .. we hope).
But of course there is more. We just scraped the surface of the awesome thing that is called podcasting. There are plenty of other podcasts out there that will give you hours of entertainment and education .. right from your mobile device (or computer .. or media player .. or usb powered adult toy .. no wait .. Strike that) The list above might help you to get started and find out that there is PLENTY of stuff out there to learn and listen to. Enjoy !
Do YOU have any good podcast suggestion that just HAS to be on this list ? Tell us in the comments section. (Be sure to provide a link where we can subscribe to your awesome find)
Voice technology is pretty darn awesome. Although still considered dorky and awkward to use in a public place, talking to your technology can save you a lot of time and hassle.. and in some cases save your life !
We humans seem to stick to our guns when it comes to the way we “enter” information on a machine. Keyboards and mice have been around for ages (there are also people who track their balls) and we continue to hold on to them as our favorite input devices. When tablets came along we started looking for covers with built in keyboards and complained ‘where the mouse was’ on our brand new iPad. And when it comes to our mobile devices we insist on using our stubby fingers on those teeny weeny touchscreens. This has lead to many people bumping into lampposts or parking their car vertically in a ditch (or worse) . Time to let tech work for you and start talking to your devices.
Google has introduced voice-search for quite some time now, but the perks on using a Nexus device (like in my case the Nexus 7) is that this voice recognition software is available “offline” (so the phone can understand you even you have a flaky or even NO data connection). Aside for searching for the next “One Direction” t-shirt sale, you can also use the Google voice commands to do plenty of other things.
Some of our favorites
- Show me ( restaurants – hotels – etc) nearby.
- Is it going to rain today.
- Browse to (website)
- Send and email to (person) subject (Subject) Message (Message)
There are plenty more where these came from and it is a great way to use your technology in a safe and productive manner. And its also quite good for a giggle when Google gets it completely wrong.
Find out ALL the voice commands supported by Google Now in this great info-graphic. (Click to expand)