Three promising Crowdfunding tech campaigns

Crowdfunding is all the rage and small businesses are lining up to get a piece of the action. We have sifted through the wide range of app  crowd-funding campaigns, below you will find three campaigns that seem promising.

 

Ubuntu Edge

Perhaps the most obvious one. Canonical is looking for a whopping $30 000 000 in financing for their future device and platform Ubuntu Edge. The Edge will basically be a mobile with a desktop in one device. It will run Android, Ubuntu Mobile, and Ubuntu Desktop, have 128 GB of storage and 4 GB RAM.

Since the Ubuntu Edge will be able to run Android its users will already be able to use a vast number of apps, had Canonical only chosen Ubuntu Mobile and Desktop they would be in the same situation as Windows Phone, without any apps.

Ubuntu Edge is an interesting project with many backers already, however we have seen attempts of it in the past, failing because of the trade-off and compromises that has to be done when developing a mobile and yet being able to use it as a desktop. However the potential is also huge, we haven’t forgotten the great Nokia phones running Linux.

 

MailPile

MailPile is a project with the aim of creating a web-based and desktop e-mail client with user friendly support for encryption such as OpenPGP. This project is interesting, especially since given the different privacy concerns on the Internet.  It also has a number of other aims regarding creating a user friendly interface with themes and a platform for plug-in development.

Unfortunately the project is currently developing for Linux  and MAC, which is a fraction of the Windows operating systems on the market, if the project is backed there will be a Windows-version as well.

 

Ghost Blogging Platform

Ghost is a Kickstarter project with the aim of developing yet another open-source blog platform and content management system.

One of the key benefits with Ghost is publishing and the attempt to make it easier to write your own blog posts within the actual platform. In order to do this there will be a split screen, on the left side it’s possible to write a blogpost in markdown, with a preview of the post on the right.

Another interesting feature is the built-in statistics dashboard, which will not only show the number of visitors, bounce rate etc, but also social media statistics and subscribers to newsfeeds.

The Ghost project also have the aim of improving the actual content management part of the blogging experience, the inspiration is the way email is handled with different labels and drag and drop. Expect a review on Syntax30 when the Ghost blog platform is released.

 

 


Top Alternatives To Google Reader

Google recently announced the discontinuation of Google Reader, a product with a vocal following now scrambling to find alternatives. Of course a lot of people have already voiced their opinions about Google keeping products like Google Sites and Correlate open while discontinuing Reader. Others are asking if RSS is already dead benefiting Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

We have compiled a few alternative RSS readers for you when Google Reader close down July 1, 2013.

 

Feedly

Feedly were quick in trying to catch Google Reader users, with a feature where users can connect their Google Reader account with Feedly and get the same setup and feeds as in Google Reader. This works like a charm with just a click, and takes a few seconds.

Another interesting feature with Feedly is the updated user interface, Google Reader wasn’t the prettiest product on the market but Feedly really looks great and displays the subscribed feeds in a beautiful way, almost making RSS fun again.

It’s possible to customize the main page of Feedly, for example adding widgets displaying stock market movements, your Facebook or Twitter feed.

Feedly is available in the browser or on mobile devices (Android, iOS and Kindle).

Feedly RSS reader screenshot

 

Netvibes

Netvibes is not entirely a RSS-reader, but a dashboard application for following almost anything online. Getting started is quite easy, you don’t even need to create an account. Start by entering a topic that you want to follow, Netvibes will then compile a set of standard widgets. The widgets include sources such as Twitter, Facebook (open posts), Google blog search, Yahoo News etc. It’s then possible to add sources of your choice using RSS.

Netvibes has two different modes, widget and reader mode. The reader mode has the classic RSS-reader feel to it. Beside using Netvibes in the browser there are also apps available for Android and iOS. It’s possible to import your Google Reader data to Netvibes, but the process is a little bit more difficult than Feedly’s. (http://blog.netvibes.com/easily-migrate-from-google-reader-to-netvibes/

Overall we like Netvibes, but mainly from a monitoring perspective where it really is shining.

Netvibes RSS reader screenshot

 

 

NewsBlur

NewsBlur is another browser based RSS-reader alternative to Google Reader, also available for Android and iOS. The app is updated in real-time when new stories from an RSS-feed is added. An interesting feature is the blurblog, each user gets an individual public feed where it’s possible to share stories.

We think the interface has too many options and buttons for it to be compelling for a wider audience, but this is of course individual preferences, and we know some users like these kind of interfaces.

NewsBlur RSS reader screenshot

 

The Old Reader

The Old Reader is perhaps not as well known as the alternatives above. It’s a light-weight browser based RSS-reader, with no other real options but we really like the minimalistic interface. It used to have Google Reader import but according to their blog they had to turn it off temporarily to be able to handle the traffic. There are also no mobile apps for the Old Reader.

Creating timelines in the cloud – Preceden

Preceden (means “precede” in Spanish according to the developers) is an online web-based timeline and simple time-schedule tool.

The whole point with Preceden as opposed to other solutions for creating timelines is the flexibility. For example creating a timeline in any spreadsheet program, such as Excel, is usually torture, even-though there are built in templates, especially when more detailed timelines are required.

In Preceden different parts of a timeline can be grouped together in layers, the parts of the overall timeline have different colors and it’s also possible to name the layers and dragging the elements around. It’s also possible to add an event without an end-date, and select zoom-levels (seconds, hours, years etc). Overall the user-interface is very straight-forward and easy to use.

Since Preceden is cloud-based it means that it’s possible to share timelines with the rest of the user community. It’s also possible to share a timeline requiring a password, or share a more restricted version of a timeline where a predefined URL is shared to selected participants. Unfortunately Preceden currently lacks more advanced collaboration options. In Google Docs and other applications it’s for example possible to invite selected users to create and edit a document.

It’s also possible in Preceden to download a timeline as an image or a PDF-file (which is printable). In the trial free version of Preceden it’s only possible to create five timeline events, which makes it pretty much useless. The pro-version has a one-time fee of $39, which is pretty cheap (depending on what type of timeline you are creating). Preceden has no login-integration with social media such as Facebook, so you have to create a sole login for the service, which in our minds leave room for improvement.

 

Ipad note taking apps: Notability

One of the many selling points with the Ipad is to take notes, in meetings or on the go. Yet the note-taking application that comes with it has a lot left to be desired (which for a $400-600 device may seem weird).

Notability an app by GingerLabs adds a lot of note functionality to the Ipad not that common in other apps. First of all the app has handwriting recognition, which means that it is entirely possible to use a for the Ipad to take notes, or use your fingers. Using a pen makes the note-taking process much easier than using the keyboard, but using just your fingers is a cumbersome and slow process. I tried it for a while but eventually gave up and bought a capacitive stylus.

Another problem with the handwriting recognition in Notability is the fact that you can’t re-size the letters after writing, other similar apps for the Ipad have this feature.

Notability also has the original Ipad software keyboard functionality as well as recording. Using the word processing functionality is very similar to QuickOffice; there are some basic functionality such as styling, outlining and a spell-checker. The recording feature is actually something that you will use a lot when in meetings, seminars or in lectures, each recording is linked to a note. For example at a seminar you will have both your own notes as well as the voice recordings, which is very neat.

Using the Ipad camera it’s possible to insert images into your notes, and other objects such as web clippings and drawings. A weird thing with Notability is that it isn’t possible to erase lines in drawings, hopefully it will be fixed, but it is a bit awkward to redo drawings when it is impossible to erase parts of them. Features that are included are the usual cut and paste options and highlighting words and paragraphs.

An interesting feature in Notability the possibility to import PDF-files and annotate them. This works very well, the PDF shows up in a notebook and it’s possible to add notes and highlights in and around the PDF. On an older Ipad (1 generation) this feature is a bit slow, however it’s still a very useful feature, saving a lot of paper and weight.

In Notability it is possible to create an unlimited number of notebooks with notes on different subjects, organizing them is done using a drag and drop interface, which is straight-forward. Notebooks and notes can also be password protected and synced with services such as Dropbox, iDisk or WebDAV.

Notability is a neat app, many of the features should have been included with the Ipad from the very beginning, however Notability has great value with lots of features on the cheap. It is definitely one of the best note-taking application for the Ipad, it is also faster and less complex than the main competitor, Evernote.

Clear – Simple to-do lists for the Iphone

When I first heard about Clear, I thought it was yet another to-do list app for the Iphone, doing the same thing as most others are. Clear is however different, the complexity level have been reduced significantly.

To-do lists on the Iphone and other mobile devices is apparently big business given the countless solutions available in the App Store. However most of them are very complex to work with, requiring more time to manage the to-do lists than performing the tasks.

The developers behind Clear wants to change all that by creating a simple no frills to-do list app. Clear is beautifully designed app with a user interface entirely based on gestures. Each task is represented by a box, the priority is determined by the order of tasks and the color of them (red is more important than yellow).

When first starting Clear it will take you through the different gestures needed to use it, all-though the interface based on gestures is fresh and effective, it takes some initial hardship to learn.

In Clear it’s possible to have different lists for different types of tasks, for example one list for work-related tasks and one for personal goals. The tasks are synced with Itunes, there is no cloud sync available, so it isn’t possible to view the tasks on anything else than the Iphone. Of course this might be a problem for people working with multiple devices, or on the road (Remember the Milk and even Google Calendar’s to-do list is better in this sense).

Clear does make you more productive as it focuses on just a simple to-do list without bunches of categories, prioritizations etc. Maybe it doesn’t replace all the advanced solutions, but it should work for most needs of simply structuring tasks and get them done.