The Smartphone Office

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Above: BlueMail for Android clears mail from a range of services.

BitDepth#1211 for August 22, 2019

It’s really quite simple now to carry along the fundamentals of a working office with you while traveling without bothering with a laptop.

A subscription to Microsoft Office will deliver a device specific version of the suite to any smartphone or tablet you happen to own. Connect to a Sharepoint or any other cloud service (I like DropBox) and you can have access to all the essentials you require to work on the road with only a bit of squinting along the way.

But if you’re in a non-traditional business and work outside of the Microsoft ecosystem, things require a bit more hands-on bolting together. Particularly when  it comes to publishing.

Could I work with just a smartphone for eleven days in environments with limited Internet access of varying quality?

I couldn’t promise some regular projects in those circumstances, so I asked to be temporarily released of those, but I would need to keep doing some publishing related things.

Those tasks included checking several brand specific email addresses, monitor uptime and stability of a news website, make occasional updates and necessary changes to content, evaluate and edit still photographs and text and schedule posts during that time.

Many of these tasks can be done using a web browser, and it’s great that both Chrome and Firefox have implemented their own synchronisation engines to keep their desktop browsers linked to their mobile versions.

It’s a capability that Apple users have long taken for granted with Safari and while the process isn’t as seamless as you’ll find on iOS devices, it works well enough for get basic tasks done.

Bookmarks, passwords and histories appear in both desktop and mobile browsers, inclusive of autocomplete for commonly used URLs, which is, unquestionably, a blessing on mobile.

For years now I’d given up on clearing several of my email addresses on an Android smartphone in favour of just settling for GMail.

As you’d expect, the GMail app that ships with Android is excellent, but the general email app doesn’t seem to understand the user profile of the hosting company I use, so it fails to authenticate.

The GMail app that ships with Android is excellent, but the general email app doesn’t seem to understand the user profile of the hosting company I use, so it fails to authenticate.

That wasn’t going to work well with my plans. BlueMail (bluemail.me), a well-regarded email app for Android solved the problem decisively.

Not only does it clear multiple email accounts (including iCloud) efficiently, it dumps emails into a unified inbox like a proper email client should.

Automattic has serious work to do on its mobile app for accessing WordPress websites.

The WordPress app is was a seriously useful one-stop shop for posting, making corrections to existing posts, checking stats and trends and generally doing nifty stuff with a WordPress website without having to work through the keyhole of a browser interface on a smartphone.

In February, support for the blocks interface was added to the WordPress app, but reading complex blocks structures created on the desktop remains shaky. I’m still nervous about the Gutenberg editor on the app.

Still, you can switch status from draft to published using the app and posts using the classic editor are still fully supported. I could post press statements on breaking news using that interface without issues.

To resize and do basic tone adjustment to images for posts, it’s possible to use several apps, including Snapseed, Adobe Lightroom (you need a free Adobe ID, but you can use basic features without a subscription plan) or my favorite for quick image editing, A Photo Editor (by DevMacGuyver), one of the best low-budget image editors for Android.

I might have enhanced the experience significantly by adding in a Bluetooth keyboard and adding video out using a USB-C to HDMI adapter to hook up to hotel televisions, but I really wanted to travel super-lightweight this time around.

Those would be excellent enhancements for road-warriors working with a modern Android smartphone.

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