Tag Archives: sync

4G – changing mobile devices forever

Yesterday, OFCOM revealed the results of the UK 4G auction. Putting the 2.3bn price tag and the impact on public borrowing aside, what does it mean for you and the way that you use your devices?

 

Speed

4G is driven by the need for speed.  Upload and download speeds can potentially be ten times faster on 4G than they are on 3G.  Of course, in reality, the speeds you receive may be lower than the 1Gbps that is nominally possible.  Just as with high-speed broadband at home, the number of other users sharing the bandwidth available will impact the speeds you can achieve.  However, as that’s the case with 3G too, you should expect to see some real benefits from an upgrade.

 

Volume

There’s still no unlimited data plan from EE in the UK but, with spectrum now in the hands of the other operators and services slated for launch before the summer, competition might lead to the introduction of uncapped plans.  T-Mobile has recently launched an all-you-can-eat data plan in the USA to much fanfare and Three has a history of challenging the rest of the market with its unlimited plans – so we could be in store for uncapped data plans in the UK sooner rather than later.

 

Change

But what does more data more quickly really mean for us folk?  Is it all about video calls and online shopping?

 

Well, obviously, video calling would be a better experience on 4G than we have it today and retailers will be able to show you more of the products that you’re browsing.  But the changes caused by 4G are much wider and it could have a more profound impact on the way we interact with our devices and what we expect from them.

 

What we expect from a device

Not so very long ago, devices were function-specific – and we had lots of them.  Cameras were for taking pictures, phones were for making calls, MP3 players were for listening to music, games consoles were for playing games and so on.  (Remember turning yourself into a pickpocket’s paradise when you went for a day out at the beach?)  Fast forward to today, and our expectations are very different; we demand the ability to do all of those things on practically all of our devices.

 

Today, we split our devices by what could be loosely described as ‘use cases’.  Our office laptops are for work so that’s where we write the majority of our emails and look at spreadsheets, our home desktop computers are for family use where we all store big files such as photos and projects.  And our smartphones are for personal use.

 

Together, these behaviours cause two outcomes.  Firstly, our devices require huge amounts of storage – a typical smartphone may have to carry not only three-dozen albums worth of pictures but an entire music collection, a week’s worth of emails, a library of books, films and games and all the software programmes required to use them.  Secondly, it creates silos of information that you own but you can’t get to.  For example, you have pictures on your phone, pictures on your laptop, pictures on a hard drive, pictures on an SD card – but they’re not the same pictures.  And, just because you have a picture app on the device you’re using, it doesn’t mean that you can see the pictures of yours that you want to.  Similarly, you have a device in your hand that could let you update the document that your boss wants urgently in the evening – but the document itself is only available on your computer in your office.

 

4G and the device

The speed and availability offered by 4G means that downloading or streaming information to your mobile device from your own ‘locker service’ on the internet nearly as quickly as you can get it from a drive on the device itself is one step closer to becoming a reality.  And doing that at a reasonable cost to boot!

 

If that were the case, we’d see a fundamental shift in what we expect from our devices.  Storing data on the device itself would become much less important.  Who would need to spend £639 on a 128GB iPad when you could use a 16GB Apple tablet and simply download or stream the rest of your data to the device as and when you needed it?

 

We’d also see a decline in tying our devices to use cases.  If you combine the lack of need for storage with the growing trend for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in the work place, it becomes increasingly conceivable that, in the future, we have one smartphone-sized device used on the move that we can also dock at work to use as a computer or at home to use as a tablet.  Wherever we were and whatever we were trying to do, we’d simply download or stream the appropriate files that we needed from the internet.

 

A single device is further off but, with 4G, we’d be a lot closer to a world where we have one laptop, one tablet and one smartphone that we use to connect wirelessly to different virtualised environments.  The same device could let you log into a virtual work desktop during the day and a personal desktop in the evening.

 

Virtualised desktops are already making strides in office environments, thanks to technology from companies like VMware – and personal cloud services are making the concept of doing the same thing at home more of a reality.

 

Tomorrow’s technology today

It’s going to take time for the impact of 4G to be fully realised, so how can we see some of the benefits sooner?

 

To start with, let’s be pragmatic.  When services launch later this year, they’re not going to be ubiquitous.  Large parts of the UK don’t even get a decent mobile signal for voice calling so it would be crazy to expect to be able to download your files everywhere.

 

But we can start to think differently about what data we want to physically carry with us, and what we only need access to.  Many services that are available today to help you share files between your devices are designed for a pre-4G world where data is copied to every device and stored many times over.

 

This incurs a substantial up-front cost.  For example, if you’re buying into iCloud, there’s not only the cost of the service but all the additional storage you need on your devices to cope with everything being copied everywhere. A £240 saving from a low-storage iPad to a high-storage iPad buys a lot of mobile connectivity so that you can stream the data that you haven’t synced as and when you need it.

 

If you’re in the market for a new tablet or a new cloud service at the moment, a little thought now about what sort of service you want, combined with which devices could save you a great deal of money, both now and in the future.

 

A little bit of sync a little bit of access

Perhaps a better plan is to get a clearer understanding of what you know you want to use on your device and what you might want to use.  Marking key folders, documents and playlists for syncronisation to all your devices – or dropping them into a ‘magic sync folder’ – will ensure that you always have the latest thing you’re working on or the songs you love wherever you are on whatever device, even if you haven’t got a single bar of signal.

 

Automatically copying the rest of your files to the cloud means that you can get at everything else if you find that you need it.  This dual approach of having some data ‘on device’ and some data ‘on demand’ is a smart way of getting the best of both worlds – especially in the early days of 4G.

 


4G – The game changer

There’s still some skepticism about the impact of 4G.  WAP was going to change the world, then 3G, now 4G…  But it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come from the days when the only thing you could do on your phone was play Snake.  Mobile data and ADSL together have transformed where and how we work and had a major impact on how we shop, entertain ourselves, meet our spouses, choose where we live, and decide what to eat and what to wear.  4G is closest we’ve come to bringing the benefits of these two technologies together and we shouldn’t underestimate the potential of where that could take us.

Tablet time

According to new figures, on Christmas Day, 17.4 million new Android and iOS tablets were activated worldwide.  17.4 million! That’s nearly twice the number of turkeys roasted in the whole of the UK to celebrate the holiday and 2.5 times the number of devices activated on the same day the year before.

 

But, once you’ve got your new tablet, what do you do with it?  To start with, there’s obviously Angry Birds and distorting pictures of your face so that you look like an alien.  But, by now, of the 17.4 million people who unwrapped their tablets on Christmas Day, there can only be a handful that aren’t looking for a bit more from their new devices.

 

And that’s where content really is king!  What you can do with your tablet will come down to what you can get on your tablet.  Or, if you’re a Mozy user, what you can Stash!

 

Stash, along with the Mozy App, allows you to move your data between your computers, smartphones and tablets, either automatically, or on demand.

 

Start a document on your laptop in the office, add to it on your smartphone on the train and finish on your tablet when you get home.  It’s simple with Stash.  Got photos on your laptop, pictures on your phone and snaps all over the place?  Flick through all your photo albums in one place on your tablet.

 

If you’re one of the 17.4 million Christmas tablet owners – or one of the 4 million people a day who buy a new tablet – why not check out what Stash can do for you?  You can even get your first 2GB for free.

Working from home, not shirking from home

Working From Home - File Acces

Today is National Work From Home Day, which, hopefully, means that you’re reading this from the comfort of your kitchen table or desk at home, rather than from your office.

But, aside from the opportunity to swap your drudge of a commute for an extra hour in bed and your suit for tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt of dubious cleanliness, what else do you give up when working from home?

Times have certainly changed from the days where you basically gave up being able to accomplish much at all.  Remember dial-up connections to an office VPN?  Remember printing out everything you might need for the next day ‘just in case’? Remember telling people in the office which of the company mobile phones you were taking home with you?

The chances are, that you’re saying ‘no’.  Well, unless you’re a certain age and have gone through the therapy to stop you repressing how awful it all was.  Most of us have pushed the bad-old-days of working from home out of our minds because, today, it’s never been easier to replicate the office working experience from home (sans the annoying colleague who likes to eat mackerel at their desk).

Broadband, cloud services, conferencing solutions, mobile communications – and, most importantly, attitudes – have changed the home-working experience beyond recognition.  For many white-collar workers, it’s now an accepted norm to work from home when occasion suits.  And, critically, that comes without the accusations that you might be shirking responsibilities immediately that you’re out from under the eager eye of the boss.

But have we reached the glorious Utopia of home working yet?  Maybe we’re still only part of the way there.  After all, we’re still tied to some of our working tools; albeit that they have become a lot more portable.

Most people working from home today will have carried a company laptop home with them in order to access their files.  They’ll have set the phone on their desk to forward to their mobile and they’ll probably still have an incident during the day where they have to find a file on a USB stick or ask a colleague to email them something they need to complete a task.

Haven’t we just swapped printing out documents and saving them to floppy disks for copying them to thumb drives and emailing them to ourselves?  Haven’t we swapped carrying home reams of paper for carrying equally cumbersome computing devices?  I’m not sure our briefcases were any lighter last night than they were the evening before we worked from home ten years ago.

Working from home in the future should be simpler still.  Already, services from companies like Mozy allow people to access all of their files (whether they’ve remembered to drop them in a special folder for that purpose or not) from any web-connected computer – or from phones and tablets.  Which is one step closer to really being able to work from anywhere.

(It’s also one step closer to sanity when you’re not checking for the umpteenth time that the document you were working on yesterday really isn’t where you thought you’d saved it on that memory stick – but I digress).

With virtualisation technology from companies like VMware, you’re also able to access your processes and systems, exactly as if you were sitting at your work computer, but from a device that you haven’t had to lug back on the 7:13 from Paddington.

As these technologies become more broadly adopted, centrally by IT departments, it heralds a bright future for those who prefer not to venture beyond their own front doors in order to get their jobs done.

And, who knows, perhaps by 2022, we’ll need a National Work From The Office Day.

Mozy’s Top Ten Tips for Surviving the Big Freeze

Stash file synching technolgoy helps avoid the big freezeWith temperatures set to dip to well below freezing today, and snow predicted by the end of the week, there’s a good chance that many of us will find our usual routes to work blocked as the Big Freeze sets in.

But, with more of us than ever being able to work from home, Snow Days for most people are a thing of the past.  To compound the misery, Mozy research shows that a quarter of us only work from home when we have to, leaving us rusty when it comes to making sure we’re still productive when forced to work from the spare bedroom.

For everyone who wants to minimise the frustration caused by an unavoidable day (or days) at home, here are Mozy’s top ten tips for surviving the Big Freeze.  And they’re all things you should do today before you go home!

1)   Make sure you know how to access your voicemail remotely.  You’ll normally need to set this up in advance and secure your access with a PIN.  If you can’t answer your desk phone, you’ll at least be able to listen to your messages and get back to people.

2)   Scan the stuff on your desk that you use all the time and copy it so that you can access it from home.  How many times a day do you look at the phone list on your pin board? Make sure you’ll be able to get at the info when you’re not there.  Make sure you include the sticky notes on your desk in this process too.

3)   Sync your smart phone with your computer.  If you usually only do this to update your playlist, take time to do it today to make sure your contacts and diary are up to date.

4)   Check you have the numbers you need.  Sure, you’ve copied your phone list but how many of those people are going to be at their desks if you need to contact them?  Double check you have the number for IT support – if you’ve lost VPN access, you won’t be able to look it up on the intranet.

5)   Take your charger home with you. Yes it’s heavy and, yes, most days it’s unlikely that your laptop will run out of juice overnight, even if you are checking emails into the wee small hours but there’s precious little use to be had from a flat thinkpad if you need it to run all of the following day.

6)   Check you know your passwords for everything.  If you’re not used to using the web interface for the apps you use in the office, it’s easy to forget your password or let it expire.  It can be infinitely easier to get it reset whilst you’re still on your office network.

7)   Pack your laptop carefully when take it home tonight.  It’s slippery out there and you don’t want to spend all day tomorrow squinting at a cracked screen.

8)   Find out what your suppliers/clients/partners are doing how you contact them if they’re not able to make it in either.

9)   Install a file syncing service on your computer and drop all your current work into it.  That way, whatever happens, you can get at the files you need.  You can get a free 2GB account for Mozy to use on our Stash file syncing service at www.mozy.co.uk/home/free

10)                  Lock away your chocolate digestives!  Anyone who does make it in through the snow is going to be looking for a carb and sugar hit to fend off the cold and you might not be there to defend them!

Hopefully, a little bit of preparation can help to make an unexpected day of working from home a little bit easier, so you can spend your lunch break creating snowmen rather than recreating all the work

Say hello to Stash – Say hello to your files everywhere you want them!

Mozy Stash is the new synchronisation app from Mozy that puts your data everywhere you want it.  And it’s now available in a beta version in the UK and Ireland, so you can say hello to all your digital stuff anywhere you like.

When you join the beta, Mozy will enable you to install a single folder on your computer and any other Windows, Mac, iOS or Android devices you regularly use.  Save anything from your computer into that folder and, hey presto, it’s synced to all the other devices where you’ve installed the folder.

So, no more cables, no more USB sticks and no more emailing files to yourself – just your data everywhere you want it.

The Stash simple single-folder model complements your online backup so that all your data is available where and when you need it, even if you choose not to synchronise it.

The Stash beta service is available free today for all MozyHome customers worldwide with a 2 GB free, 50 GB or 125 GB plan. Stash runs on the same operating systems as MozyHome and MozyPro – Microsoft Windows (XP and later) and Apple Mac OS X (10.5 “Leopard” and later).

To register for Stash, simply log into your Mozy account page and click the Stash link you’ll find there.  It’s that simple.

We know you’re going to enjoy Stash and we’d love to hear your feedback, so why not comment below to let us know what you think?

Happy syncing!

Mobile and Sync Hit the Mozy Roadmap

The MozyBlog likes to think of itself as your SatNav to what lies ahead at Mozy so we’re excited to let you know that our compass is pointing straight to mobile apps followed by sync functionality a little bit further down the track.

This week, Mozy was at CeBIT speaking about its iPhone and Android apps for the first time.

Mozy’s mobile app will allow you to securely access the stuff you protect with Mozy, share select files such as photos with others, or view them on your phone. The app will also include convenience features such as photo thumbnail display which allows you to preview the files you’re looking for before downloading them in high-res.

Mozy also spoke about its beta trial for its new ‘sync’ functionality at the show.

This feature will allow users to put a Mozy sync folder on each of their computers. Any files that they put into this folder will be automatically synchronised on any other computers that they’ve installed the application on. This way, they always have the most up-to-date version of their files no matter which computer they’re using.

The sync functionality is just going into beta with a group of customers in the US, whilst the mobile functionality is set for a limited launch soon.

We think that, these new features will help our customers make more of the opportunities presented to them once their data is backed up to the Cloud.

To stay up to speed on where Mozy is with the roll out of these features, or to find out where we’re going next, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to this blog.  Or, for more information on our latest features, check out our Q&A.