Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to Manage Your Android Phone from Your Chromebook

If you use an Android phone, you'll love +AirDroid.
  • No wires.
  • No fuss.
  • No complicated steps.
Instead, +AirDroid is just as easy as using your Chromebook. And even better is you can create a secure web connection to keep your data private while your devices are connected online.

How do you do it?
  1. Open +AirDroid on your Android phone.
  2. Open your Chromebook.
  3. Type in the secure IP address or use the QR code option.
  4. Wait a second for the connection to be complete.
  5. Set your Android phone down and take another swig of coffee (or your beverage of choice).
You can now control all the data on your phone via your Chromebook.

What can you do? 
  1. Manage contacts.
  2. Review call logs.
  3. Send and receive text messages.
  4. Manage apps.
  5. Manage pictures (which you should be auto-uploading via +Google+ anyway).
  6. Move files back and forth from your Chromebook. (There goes those thumb drives!)
  7. Manage music.
The number of things you can do using +AirDroid is limited by your needs and imagination.

The only thing that would make this app better would be if it could wireless charge your phone while connected. (But...hey...these guys develop software; they're not miracle workers!)

How do you use +AirDroid?

Note: +AirDroid can be used with any web browser, not just on Chromebooks.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hack Your Way Around Jolidrive's "Promote it" Access Requirement

I recently discovered +Jolidrive. I really like it.

If you're not familiar with the service, it organizes all your cloud data into one, simple interface. I didn't "get it" completely until I set it up. Basically, it recreates Finder functionality from Mac OS.

Note: I did not sign up by connecting to Facebook. I signed up via email. 

Since I use multiple cloud-based services, I really like the dashboard affect. I've also enabled the web apps which allow me to scroll through all my mission-critical apps on one screen. (I'm hoping Chrome OS adds some app management features soon. I'd really like to drag and drop apps to make folders like I can on my +Nexus 4.)

Here is what it looks like:

The last part of my set-up included replacing my standard new tab screen with Jolidrive. I was unsure of this decision but quickly moved passed that. It's a nice, time-saving feature.

One of the things you run into is the "promotion requirement" needed to unlock access to some of the apps. (As a marketer myself, it makes sense. It's an efficient way to create a lot of buzz.) But +Lifehacker and I agree on this: it's irritating that we are FORCED to promote it for access. Honestly, I would rather pay for access instead and promote it on my own terms.

Because I don't like being forced to do anything, I decided to hack my way around it.

Here is how I did it:

  1. You are given the option of sharing to Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. 
  2. I chose Google+. (You'll understand more in just a few more steps.)
  3. I opened Google+ in another tab in Chrome.
  4. I created a circle called "Jolidrive." (No one is in this circle...but me.)
  5. I shared each app that I wanted to unlock and activate to this circle.
  6. After each app was unlocked, I deleted the circle and the Google+ posts shared exclusively to the circle with no one in it.
  7. Then I went to my timeline and deleted all the posts. Remember, only I could see them anyway. (I didn't have to do this, but I am OCD. So...really...yes...I had to.)

Now I am on Day Three of using Jolidrive and absolutely love it! It has improved my Chromebook experience in a way that I suspect Google will offer in future updates of Chrome OS. For now, it's a great concept and—more important—it helps me be more productive.

What's been your experience with Jolidrive?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How to Move from iTunes for Mac to Google Music

I’ve already covered how to move from iPhoto to Google+ Photos. Now I want to cover how to move from iTunes to Google Music.

Note: Just as a reminder, I'm a Mac user moving to a Chromebook. That means I'm writing from the perspective of someone coming from iTunes for Mac.

There are two aspects to this transition you need to be aware of:

  1. You are freeing yourself from locally stored software, so you can live freely within Chrome OS.
  2. You need to rethink how you’ll access the music you want.

Moving away from iTunes is actually really easy.

  1. Upload your music.
    1. If you plan to continue to use your Mac, you can set Google’s Music Player to automatically add anything you add to iTunes to your Google Music Library. It only works one direction, though. Google Music doesn’t update iTunes.
    2. Also, any DRM (digital rights management) protected files will not transfer. When Apple introduced the option several years ago (circa 2009) to upgrade, you could pay the difference between your original purchase price and the new one which gives you the ability to access your music library in DRM-free formatting. Those will transfer. (Yeah!)
    3. Any CD’s you imported to iTunes will transfer without any problem.
  2. Add Google Play Music to your Chromebook from the Chrome Web store.
  3. Add Google Play Music to your Android Smartphone or Tablet via the Google Play Store to get the full experience on any device.
  4. You can download your entire library if you’d like to listen to it locally on your Chromebook (or likely an external drive given the limited capacity of the local storage on your Chromebook). The Google Music app works just like iTunes does on your iPhone and iPad. Music you have played is cached for offline listening. You can always force a download, too.

That’s great for your music library, but what about Podcasts?

Podcasts are no longer managed within iTunes. So that really wasn’t a big issue. I was already managing those through a separate app anyway.

Since moving to the Nexus 4, I prefer Pocket Casts and Stitcher Radio to satisfy all my podcasting needs. (Pocket Casts just added some good updates such as cross-device sync which made their service even more valuable.)

I also access +Pandora and +SiriusXM on my Chromebook for internet radio. I use Pandora because I’ve used it forever. I use SiriusXM because I’m already paying for it in both cars I own; I might as well use it on my Chromebook, too. (There are—of course—a ton of options for streaming music online.)

My personal theory is we are moving toward access to vast music libraries rather than owning music in a personal library. This is why companies such as +Rdio and +Spotify are growing so rapidly. So, I suspect iTunes (and local storage of music libraries) will disappear soon enough—at least as we know and use it today.

But that is the future. Today is what we have. And I just showed you a viable alternative to iTunes for Mac to manage your music library and satisfy your listening needs on your Chromebook.

(Perhaps this will bring you inner peace...OK...maybe not.)

What other tips or tricks have you discovered related to assessing music on your Chromebook?