Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Keeping Your Life Synced Up

Everywhere you look these days, you see someone using a tablet.  That happened fast - in fact, my daughter's school just issued tablets for every student in the school - a big change from when I was in high school.

Pew Research says that 56 percent of Americans own a smartphone, and 34 percent own a tablet. Most people have more than one mobile device. The more devices you have, the harder it is to keep them in sync. You'd like to be able to use your laptop, tablet or smartphone and have access to the same information. It's time to get your life synced up and start using the apps that help keep your life organized.

Syncing and the Cloud

Early sync technology worked by downloading the same files to your devices to make them all have the same information. Cloud technology changed that by allowing you to store your files in the cloud where all of your devices can get to that information. There are two major ways that apps keep your information synced up now: through files or through an application.

An undeniably popular cloud service has been Dropbox. This application is a preferred pick for keeping files in sync because of its reliability and ease of use. Once you create an account, which is free until you need more space, you'll download a small app onto your smartphone, tablet or laptop. This creates a Dropbox folder in which you can create other folders. Just drop files into one of the sub-folders, and it will now be accessible to any device you connect to your account.

For example, you can take photos with your smartphone and place them into a photos sub-folder in the Dropbox folder on your phone. When you get home, you can fire up your laptop and go into its Dropbox Photos folder and touch up those photos before posting them on your Facebook page. Later, when you have more time, you can bring the photos up on your tablet from its Dropbox Photos folder for review.

There are other services that offer a similar cloud service. such as Microsoft Skydrive,, and Google Drive which all do something similar and allow you to keep the files on all of your devices in sync. With the speeds available to you through broadband, high-speed cellular connectivity, and even satellite Internet now, keeping your files in sync between all of your devices is quick and easy.

Syncing With Applications

The Evernote application, one of my "go to" apps, gives you a tool on all of your mobile devices to make notes and save web pages and images, and it keeps everything in sync for you. There are no files to deal with. You can browse a website on your phone, copy it into the Evernote app, and make some notes about it. When you get home, you can bring up Evernote on your laptop, and do some further research on that website.  One of the killer features of Evernote is to do character recognition on things like whiteboards - you take a picture of them and the handwritten text becomes searchable.  Very cool.

Google Sync is a way to keep the calendar and contacts on your smartphone or tablet in sync with your Google Calendar and Contacts. This is a small app that runs in the background on your mobile device at specific intervals that you pick during its set-up.

Toodledo is an example of one of many task managers that will help you create and manage a to-do list on all of your mobile devices and keep them in sync.

For your entertainment needs, Apple's iTunes will keep music, movies, TV shows, and audiobooks on all of your mobile devices in sync. Given Apple's focus on its own ecosystem, this app is streamlined for iOS devices, and there are some restrictions for Android devices, but you can use tools like DoubleTwist to bridge the gap and make it easy to sync your iTunes content to your Android device.

Finally, some streaming services are creating apps that let you control your TV viewing from multiple devices. For example, DirecTV Mobile Apps work on smartphones and tablets. You can start a movie from your smartphone on your TV, then go into another room, bring up the app on your tablet and watch the movie from where it left off on the TV. While not truly syncing, these apps allow you to use different mobile devices to access the same information.