Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality: A Head-To-Head Comparison| By |John Smith

With the rapid improvement of technology, many things have become possible these days that were deemed impossible even as little as a decade ago.

Augmented reality and virtual reality are a part of these avant-garde forms of technologies that were considered a part of the fiction even a few decades back. But now, they are a very part of the reality.

But what exactly are they? Let’s see.

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality’s (VR) a computer simulated reality where a user can interact with replicated imaginary or real environments. The VR experience is completely immersive by means of auditive, visual and haptic stimulation such that the generated reality is almost identical to that of the real world.

The virtual reality experience can be usually achieved through a pair of VR Goggles that are similar to Oculus Rift.

VR experience through VR goggles

What is augmented reality?

Augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality with real life. Developers can develop images within the AR apps that blend in with our real world contents.

Like virtual reality, augmented reality experiences usually involve some sort of a medium to view the augmented objects blended with our physical reality.

For example, take a look at the image below.

Source

The augmented objects can be seen through a smartphone app. So naturally, the smartphone acts as the medium.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are often confused with one another. They undoubtedly do psosess a lot of similarity but there are also distinct differences between those two.

So what are the most obvious differences between virtual reality and augmented reality? Let’s see.

Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality

  • Virtual reality helps to create a brand new environment that’s completely computer generated. On the other hand, augmented reality just enhances user experiences through digital means by offering brand new virtual options embedded within our physical world. AR doesn’t see to replace the physical world like virtual reality does.
  • Virtual reality is completely immersive. Augmented reality on the other hand, provides just a limited range of view.
  • In case of a virtual reality experience, the concerned user is completely detached from the physical world. Unlike virtual reality, an augmented reality user is perfectly aware of his/her surroundings while being actively engaged in AR.
  • Virtual reality is quite demanding. You will require a smartphone or a tab along with a VR goggle (like the Oculus Rift) to experience the wonders of virtual reality. Augmented reality on the other hand is much less demanding. Just a smartphone or a tab would do.
  • In simpler words,

Augmented reality = 25% Virtual + 75% Real.

Virtual reality= 75% virtual + 25% real.

Okay; now we have seen the basic differences between these two, it’s time we see how businesses benefit from these two avant garde forms of technology.

How can businesses benefit from virtual reality?

Virtual reality can be implemented in business workplaces to increase employee productivity and work convenience. Here are a few ways through which businesses can benefit tremendously from virtual reality:

  • Training, Meetings and Communication

Due to the geographically dispersive nature of businesses these days, many businesses work with remote employees and conduct deals with clients all over the world.

VR helps businesses o connect with more and more people around the globe in various locations without sacrificing the best business idea of dealing face to face.

VR communications through virtual reality based meetings, trainings and presentations also make the experience more life-like and more impactful.

  • Life like sales demos

Businesses can use virtual reality to provide compelling presentations to their potential clients. Their clients will just have to put on a pair of VR glasses and off they’ll go in an immersive environment and experience the product/service in complete details.

  • Effective productive testing in a simulation like environment

Businesses that manufacture equipments that are too dangerous to test in the real world can be easily tested in a simulation like environment. Virtual reality acts as the savior in this aspect.

How can businesses benefit from augmented reality?

Since augmented reality can be operated very easily through a simple app, businesses can easily put this technology right under the fingertips pf their potential customers. Here’s how businesses can benefit from augmented reality:

  • Interactive marketing opportunities

Augmented reality helps to open a brand new realm of limitless marketing opportunities to marketing professionals ranging from interactive billboards to interactive displays.

Take a look at this short video and you’ll definitely understand what I am talking about.

  • Retail

Many retail stores have already implemented augmented reality in their stores to engage their customers as they shop inside the store.

For example, many stores have implemented kiosks inside the store where customers will just have to scan a picture of a product on their smartphone and they’ll be able to see a three-dimensional interactive image of the finished product on the very screen of their smartphones.

Take a peek at this short video to understand it in a jiffy.

Augmented reality and virtual reality are expected to change the world. We have already seen a few glimpses of their potentials even though they are still considered to be ones in their infancies. So naturally, it’s expected that more will come with the passage of time.

Hence, it’s advisable to keep up with this trend. Otherwise, you might regret it.

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Trends Every IT Architect Needs to Know to Get Ahead in 2017| By |Ariel Maislos

The start of 2017 has come and gone. Many things have changed, while some things remain the same. A perfect case in point is the mounting pressure facing today’s IT architects, which comes from a variety of sources.

Security breaches and cyber threats, for example, are on the rise, while budgets remain tight. Just as important, movement of existing workloads into the cloud continues to increase, as does deployment of new workloads into the cloud—whether public, private or hybrid. With the cloud promising to redefine enterprise computing to help establish IT as a critical facilitator of business growth, it’s no wonder the cloud’s popularity is on the rise. But for IT architects, dealing with the cloud’s proliferation, while also working to enable greater agility and performance so that superior services can be delivered to the business, is no easy task.

Some of today’s emerging IT trends aim to bring those goals closer into focus, while others will only complicate matters. All, however, promise to play a key role in the ongoing evolution of the cloud. In this first installment of a two-part blog, we’ll take a closer look at five of the top 10 trends every IT architect should have on his or her radar in 2017.

1. Increased Adoption of Containers

Containers continue to be a hot topic of discussion in the IT world. This year will be no different, in part because of the many benefits they offer. This year, the discussion will evolve to focus more on containerization and microservices—a pervasive architecture for developing scalable software systems.

Running microservices on containers makes product development more agile and efficient, but it also makes product deployment and operation agile as well. That’s why many point to microservices as the solution for quickly updating, scaling and adjusting cloud infrastructure to meet changing business and customer needs. It’s also why containers are expected to become a key tool for application developers. However, this vision will only become a reality if the infrastructure and operations support to run containers is in place, and if appropriate workload management (e.g., orchestration and automation) is used.

2. Growth of the IoT

These days market research firms project the number of connected IoT devices will reach 20 to 30 billion by the year 2020. Any way you cut it, that’s a lot of devices and it’s sure to put a hefty strain on existing IT infrastructure. That means that in 2017, IT architects will have to give some serious thought to how exactly they plan to manage those IoT devices, whether they’re used by employees in the office environment or by customers interacting with the business on a grander scale.

Moving forward, IT architects will need to address the impact of the IoT on a number of fronts, including: increased network complexity and resource demand, competing IoT ecosystems, emerging standards, and which platforms/specifications to utilize for their IoT implementation. End-point security also has to be addressed, perhaps by using an adaptive security architecture with flexible security measures in place to protect the business’s information.

The other factor that’s become clear here is that to work, the IoT needs the cloud. And, the more that relationship intertwines, the more the cloud will need to evolve to better serve the IoT. Moreover, as the IoT proliferates and the amount of data IoT devices generates goes up, the ability for businesses to automate and fine tune their operations will too.

3. Confronting the Challenge of Big Data Analytics

According to one estimate, 2.5 exabytes of data is created on a daily basis. By 2020, there will be 44 zetabytes of data in the world. That’s a lot of data. It’s not all that surprising that “big data” is such a hot trend for 2017. More and more, IT architects will have to address the growing complexity of big data analytics. After all, it’s not really the data, but what you do with it that truly makes or breaks a business.

When it comes to big data analytics, is the fact that traditional solutions require many different systems to be able to deal with the needs of different data processing tasks. These systems don’t necessarily talk and transferring data in and out of them is challenging at best. Addressing the complexity of big data analytics, especially in a cloud dominated environment, will require new data architectures that can streamline the existing situation.

One solution might be implementing a platform architecture with some sort of interface between the consuming applications and the different systems. Additionally, IT architects might begin gravitating toward streaming databases, which are able to handle continuous data flows. Streaming data processing can be especially beneficial in enriching insight in big data use cases where new, dynamic data is generated on a continual basis.

4. Capacity Optimization

Resources are costly and when budgets are tight, it falls to the IT architect to make sure all available resources are used appropriately. That might mean dealing with underused servers that draw power without actually doing anything. Or, it might mean addressing inefficient power distribution by measuring power usage effectiveness (PUE). Moving existing workloads or deploying new workloads in the cloud will help by allowing businesses to quickly access the resources they need on demand. But the cloud alone is not the answer.

To truly optimize cost, IT architects will need to focus on capacity. More specifically, identifying and dealing with stranded or wasted capacity. There is no one single solution for addressing that task, but there are a number of different techniques that could be employed and IT architects will need to keep all of them in their toolkits if they hope to make a substantive impact. Some of these techniques include optimizing available resources and preventing potentially unsustainable consumption by throttling poorly utilized ones and, repurposing orphaned resources using open-source tools.

Utilization of tags to monitor and track workload cycles should also be considered, as should data centers with a “pay for what you use model.” With this model, IT architects can increase or decrease capacity as needed to meet business needs, bringing costs down and driving efficiencies up

5. Making Peace With Shadow IT

Shadow IT—what happens when a person inside of a business uses a cloud-based solution or external service without the knowledge or explicit approval of the business—is another hot topic of late. Usually, the discussion focuses on how its presence opens businesses up to unknown and unplanned risks. It essentially creates a huge security issue and because of that, IT architects generally fight to rid it from their businesses. But this year marks a transition away from that way of thinking as IT architects consider embracing, rather than eliminating it.

The reason for this transition is simple. Shadow IT offers a way for businesses to solve problems that can’t be addressed with their existing IT solutions. That makes shadow IT a strategic business asset and it’s prompting some to see the potential for using it as a sort of proof-of-concept for projects. Shadow IT is essentially brought out of the shadows so that it can be tracked and properly assessed. If the project performance is deemed a success, then the shadow IT ceases to operate in the shadows and is instead folded into the business. Couple this with the flexibility, scalability and speed of the cloud and today’s IT architects gain a fast, agile way to address critical business needs.

2017 promises to be a challenging year for IT architects, regardless of whether that challenge comes from the cloud, container use, the IoT, big data, the need to optimize capacity or shadow IT. Understanding these trends is just the first step in confronting these emerging challenges head on.

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Why a Mobile App is THE Place to Collect Customer Feedback| By |Polly Alluf

Every brand cares about customer feedback and with the staggeringly fast growth of digital services, customer feedback has become more crucial than ever. You do not only collect it for your own business analysis, you also use it for discoverability and public credibility.

Historically, surveys were conducted over the phone, but in recent years, email became the popular way for sending a survey request, assuming that people will be able to fill it out at their leisure.

In some cases, though, an in-app survey is the ultimate place to display your brand’s feedback request. Here’s why:

Because it’s a real-time app experience
Many publishers collect feedback about the app as a whole, or specific experience in the app, by emailing their users. However, if a user just completed an action inside the app, NOW is the best time to ask her about this experience, inside the app. Not 5 minutes or a day later. Sure, you do not want to be intrusive but she completed her action and now is the best time to ask, so ask away!

Because of user loyalty
We keep hearing that from mobile app owners that user retention is their goal and user loyalty is their holy grail. Whether asking users how satisfied they are with your app, what else they would like to see in the app (feature, service, etc), and how likely they are to recommend it to friends, it’s best to ask it while they’re in the app. By doing so you strengthen their connection to the app and they perceive it as a space where your brand does not only offer services, but also communicate with them on a personal level.

Your clients were interacting with your brick and mortar brand? Continue the interaction in your app

Because that’s where your customers are
Increasingly, research shows that mobile is the go-to place for all sort of activities: entertainment, shopping, bill payment, and more. So if customers are voting with their fingers and choosing to spend time with your brand inside your app, you better “be there too”, waiting for them. With relevant questions and relevant answers. A survey is just the beginning of a conversation you can have with your app users, you can then give them immediate feedback based on what they said – ask more questions, ask open questions, show them a video, send them a related coupon, etc. Keep them happy.

Reward your customers with relevant feedback and not just a generic “thank you” note.

Because it’s fun!
Collecting feedback is a serious thing but it doesn’t necessarily have to be done in the most serious way. If you want to check on users’ preferences, you can display it in a fun way, like asking a playful yes/no question that drives users to the next place in your app, based on their answer.

Quick quiz is a fun way to drive users to further explore your app and convert

People don’t like long surveys, and open questions can prove to be tricky on mobile keyboard (though what we’ve seen with customers is that if users care, lots of them will take the time! ). The simplest survey is truly a nice way to display temporary and timely offer in your app to segmented audience and win their loyalty.

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Online Anonymity is Hard But Important| By |Arthur Baxter

When the Internet was formed, it was hard enough to get it to work, let alone secure properly. That’s not to say security wasn’t a high priority, it was just understood entirely differently than it is today: security meant resilience against war.

The Internet’s prime objective in the 1960s was to remain functional even after a devastating nuclear attack. No single point of failure was allowed to exist, and no matter how few computers remained intact after a strike, they had to continue communicating with each other. Anonymity and privacy were not priorities.

Missed Chances

Packet switching was invented in 1968 and deployed over the following years. The process chops information into smaller packets, which can be more efficiently routed along shared data lines than single blocks of data.

As packet switching was deployed, ideas spread on how to encrypt the contents of each package, similar to IPSec (which wasn’t around until nearly 20 years later). Though encryption failed to be deployed for a number of reasons, one being that engineers feared limitations in computing speed would make the early Internet unnecessarily slow and inefficient. But much like today, it was the National Security Agency (NSA) that opposed encryption most vociferously — they feared they could lose out on valuable data, if it were encrypted.

Encryption techniques like IPSec and OpenVPN, today most commonly offered by VPN providers, prevent any snoop on the network from seeing the contents of the data packages.

However, this only protects the connection between the user and the VPN network. It might still be possible to intercept messages on the other side of the connection, be it a website or a peer-to-peer connection.

The Solution: End-to-End Encryption

The most promising way to achieve privacy online is end-to-end encryption, most commonly deployed with TLS (formerly SSL). TLS is now used by sites of all kinds, but is crucial where any kind of identifying or sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card details, or personal information is being exchanged.

Another widely deployed protocol is the Signal Protocol, developed by OpenWhisper Systems, which, amongst other things, encrypts the contents of messages from over a billion worldwide WhatsApp users.

WhatsApp calls are encrypted with this technique too, and the privacy gains are tremendous compared to regular phone calls or text messages, where it is trivial for a moderately sophisticated malicious actor to intercept and alter the contents of a conversation.

Anonymity is More Than Just Encryption

But privacy does not mean anonymity. Even in end-to-end encrypted services there is still plenty of data for an attacker to analyze and intercept. This superfluous data is called metadata, and can be as revealing as the contents of the message itself. An observer of metadata can easily see who you are in contact with and which websites you visit.

It’s not hard to connect metadata. For example, If someone knows that you just got off the phone after a lengthy conversation with a doctor, then saw you connected to Google and before opening a website of a self-help group for cancer patients, your personal medical status is no longer private — even if the call and all of your browsing were made through encrypted channels.

Anonymity Is Important For An Open Society

There are a vast number of potential scenarios where lack of anonymity can become a problem for you, such in cases of addiction, unwanted pregnancies, oppressed faith or political orientation.

When we cannot be anonymous on the phone, protecting the contents of our conversations might be meaningless. The effectiveness of a suicide helpline depends on the confidentiality of the contents of the conversation, but if the existence, time, and duration of a call is easily observable, do the contents still matter?

The range of reasons why metadata needs to remain secret is broad. A free society has to enable people to break out of whatever repressive family or religious structures they might find themselves in. To be effective, organisations that offer help to young homosexuals struggling to find acceptance, or those seeking to escape cults, have to completely disguise those that reach out to them, not just the contents of their conversations.

Hide Your IP

The first step to anonymity on the Internet is to disguise your IP address. While open networks like Tor provide the strongest anonymity, they can be slow and frustrating to use. VPNs and proxy services usually have high speeds, but it can be difficult to find a provider that you trust with your data. If the provider keeps logs or worse, sells user data, your privacy will be hurt.

Beyond your IP address, there is plenty of other information exchanged between your computer and the Internet that can be damaging to your privacy. Cookies and tracking code embedded in many websites, for example from Facebook or Twitter, allow advertising giants to follow your movements across the Internet.

Tech Companies Need To Step Up

There has been a tremendous amount of progress when it comes to online privacy in recent years, some of it thanks to the Snowden revelations that started in 2013. We have regained a big portion of privacy that we didn’t even know we had lost in the years before.

Browsers need to be built for privacy, and not just speed. Google’s Incognito Window made a great first step in making it easy to open a new tab that does not permanently save cookies ort show up in the history, but this affects largely only the local computer. A real incognito window would hide your IP address behind a proxy, block third-party trackers, and prevent even more sophisticated deanonymization attacks, such as browser fingerprinting (Tor is currently the only browser with this capability).

Messaging services like Whatsapp or Telegram have done a great service by enabling us to communicate privately, but by tying the signup process to a mobile phone number, they have made anonymity a de-facto impossibility.

An effective messaging and calling system needs to provide users the ability to reach a service anonymously. To combat spam, providers could charge a small payment to be rendered either through captchas or small Bitcoin transfers, similar to a virtual pay phone.

The organizations whose users rely on anonymity, such as the media, NGOs, and even governmental services need to recognize how essential privacy is and adjust their services accordingly.

British police watchdog Netpoleaks recently created a Tor portal through which anybody can submit information on police misconduct. It’s possibly the first of its kind and serves as a great example of how such technology can be deployed so that even someone unfamiliar with the process won’t accidentally reveal their own identity and become a target for the kind of misconduct they are reporting on.

To build a more open and just society, we need easily useable anonymity tools to become the norm rather than the exception. VPN Software needs to become the bare minimum for anonymity online, and we need to contribute to projects like Tor to better hide our metadata when browsing. Our need for anonymity and privacy needs to be built into our devices, rather than a privilege of the few and tech-savvy.

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Online Anonymity is Hard But Important| By |Arthur Baxter

When the Internet was formed, it was hard enough to get it to work, let alone secure properly. That’s not to say security wasn’t a high priority, it was just understood entirely differently than it is today: security meant resilience against war.

The Internet’s prime objective in the 1960s was to remain functional even after a devastating nuclear attack. No single point of failure was allowed to exist, and no matter how few computers remained intact after a strike, they had to continue communicating with each other. Anonymity and privacy were not priorities.

Missed Chances

Packet switching was invented in 1968 and deployed over the following years. The process chops information into smaller packets, which can be more efficiently routed along shared data lines than single blocks of data.

As packet switching was deployed, ideas spread on how to encrypt the contents of each package, similar to IPSec (which wasn’t around until nearly 20 years later). Though encryption failed to be deployed for a number of reasons, one being that engineers feared limitations in computing speed would make the early Internet unnecessarily slow and inefficient. But much like today, it was the National Security Agency (NSA) that opposed encryption most vociferously — they feared they could lose out on valuable data, if it were encrypted.

Encryption techniques like IPSec and OpenVPN, today most commonly offered by VPN providers, prevent any snoop on the network from seeing the contents of the data packages.

However, this only protects the connection between the user and the VPN network. It might still be possible to intercept messages on the other side of the connection, be it a website or a peer-to-peer connection.

The Solution: End-to-End Encryption

The most promising way to achieve privacy online is end-to-end encryption, most commonly deployed with TLS (formerly SSL). TLS is now used by sites of all kinds, but is crucial where any kind of identifying or sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card details, or personal information is being exchanged.

Another widely deployed protocol is the Signal Protocol, developed by OpenWhisper Systems, which, amongst other things, encrypts the contents of messages from over a billion worldwide WhatsApp users.

WhatsApp calls are encrypted with this technique too, and the privacy gains are tremendous compared to regular phone calls or text messages, where it is trivial for a moderately sophisticated malicious actor to intercept and alter the contents of a conversation.

Anonymity is More Than Just Encryption

But privacy does not mean anonymity. Even in end-to-end encrypted services there is still plenty of data for an attacker to analyze and intercept. This superfluous data is called metadata, and can be as revealing as the contents of the message itself. An observer of metadata can easily see who you are in contact with and which websites you visit.

It’s not hard to connect metadata. For example, If someone knows that you just got off the phone after a lengthy conversation with a doctor, then saw you connected to Google and before opening a website of a self-help group for cancer patients, your personal medical status is no longer private — even if the call and all of your browsing were made through encrypted channels.

Anonymity Is Important For An Open Society

There are a vast number of potential scenarios where lack of anonymity can become a problem for you, such in cases of addiction, unwanted pregnancies, oppressed faith or political orientation.

When we cannot be anonymous on the phone, protecting the contents of our conversations might be meaningless. The effectiveness of a suicide helpline depends on the confidentiality of the contents of the conversation, but if the existence, time, and duration of a call is easily observable, do the contents still matter?

The range of reasons why metadata needs to remain secret is broad. A free society has to enable people to break out of whatever repressive family or religious structures they might find themselves in. To be effective, organisations that offer help to young homosexuals struggling to find acceptance, or those seeking to escape cults, have to completely disguise those that reach out to them, not just the contents of their conversations.

Hide Your IP

The first step to anonymity on the Internet is to disguise your IP address. While open networks like Tor provide the strongest anonymity, they can be slow and frustrating to use. VPNs and proxy services usually have high speeds, but it can be difficult to find a provider that you trust with your data. If the provider keeps logs or worse, sells user data, your privacy will be hurt.

Beyond your IP address, there is plenty of other information exchanged between your computer and the Internet that can be damaging to your privacy. Cookies and tracking code embedded in many websites, for example from Facebook or Twitter, allow advertising giants to follow your movements across the Internet.

Tech Companies Need To Step Up

There has been a tremendous amount of progress when it comes to online privacy in recent years, some of it thanks to the Snowden revelations that started in 2013. We have regained a big portion of privacy that we didn’t even know we had lost in the years before.

Browsers need to be built for privacy, and not just speed. Google’s Incognito Window made a great first step in making it easy to open a new tab that does not permanently save cookies ort show up in the history, but this affects largely only the local computer. A real incognito window would hide your IP address behind a proxy, block third-party trackers, and prevent even more sophisticated deanonymization attacks, such as browser fingerprinting (Tor is currently the only browser with this capability).

Messaging services like Whatsapp or Telegram have done a great service by enabling us to communicate privately, but by tying the signup process to a mobile phone number, they have made anonymity a de-facto impossibility.

An effective messaging and calling system needs to provide users the ability to reach a service anonymously. To combat spam, providers could charge a small payment to be rendered either through captchas or small Bitcoin transfers, similar to a virtual pay phone.

The organizations whose users rely on anonymity, such as the media, NGOs, and even governmental services need to recognize how essential privacy is and adjust their services accordingly.

British police watchdog Netpoleaks recently created a Tor portal through which anybody can submit information on police misconduct. It’s possibly the first of its kind and serves as a great example of how such technology can be deployed so that even someone unfamiliar with the process won’t accidentally reveal their own identity and become a target for the kind of misconduct they are reporting on.

To build a more open and just society, we need easily useable anonymity tools to become the norm rather than the exception. VPN Software needs to become the bare minimum for anonymity online, and we need to contribute to projects like Tor to better hide our metadata when browsing. Our need for anonymity and privacy needs to be built into our devices, rather than a privilege of the few and tech-savvy.

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Is WiFi Even Necessary for Modern Business? Here’s What You Need to Know| By |Daniel Matthews

For coffee shops, hotels, and just about any business that wants an added bonus to draw in customers, the promise of free WiFi has become a selling point. But recently, Detroit News reported on how unlimited mobile data plans could be damning for WiFi. According to Report Linker, a new trend is rising in homes: 40% of people are using their smartphone’s cellular connection, instead of a cable broadband connection, to access internet.

This is sparked by unlimited data plans, and the fact that you can turn your phone into a wireless hotspot. Through the hotspot, you can access internet, including streaming video and music, on a tablet, laptop, or desktop. This could spread further to businesses, where customers could use their mobile data to enable remote work at the coffee shop. In other words, because of unlimited cell data, WiFi isn’t anything special, it’s not a selling point for your business anymore.

Why WiFi can still offer an advantage to businesses

Oftentimes, it’s not the little perks you offer to customers that make the difference. It’s the core of your business, your employees, and the quality of your primary offering that matter. A coffee shop that relies on its location and free WiFi to attract customers won’t last long in the future, because when it comes down to it, the quality of the coffee and the service are most important.

In terms of employees who make or break a business based on the quality of their work, communication is the difference. Villanova University reports that “86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.” Shoddy communication is also a retention issue for 20-30% of organizations.

But now, remote work, also known as telecommuting, is fast becoming a standard. The amount of people who telecommute could easily hit 50% by 2020, up from 37% in 2015. If managers and on-site employees don’t maintain a steady flow of communication with remote workers, this trend could see the rising pool of remote workers become more and more disengaged.

But are cellphone networks reliable enough to facilitate the necessary level of communication with remote workers? What about when they’re on a plane or in an area with no service? CNet points out that “WiFi calling is especially useful when you’re in an area with weak carrier coverage. For example, when you’re traveling to the residential countryside, or you’re in a building with spotty reception.” WiFi calling is a feature built-in to many smartphones. As long as there’s a WiFi connection, and your carrier has enabled WiFi calling, you can teleconference without even having a data plan.

This sets up a scenario in which a remote worker would always be within reach through a combination of cellular coverage and WiFi coverage. For example, when an employee is on a long-distance business trip, traveling via airplane, T-Mobile offers free inflight texting as part of its WiFi calling package. And if the employee is on international business, they could use WiFi calling for free from the hotel or cafe, even if their smartphone plan doesn’t include global coverage. WiFi calling doesn’t require a separate app, uses the contacts already on your phone, and doesn’t require the person on the receiving end to install an app either. You can set up your phone to either do WiFi calling as a default, or switch to it when there’s no cell coverage available.

Additionally, businesses can set up a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) network. VoIP allows you to make and receive calls directly through your office WiFi, no separate phone plan or landline required. Since internet is absolutely essential for modern business, and you’re already going to get it anyhow, VoIP could save you a ton of money on phone bills.

But be aware of cybercrime

Although conducting business through a WiFi connection does have its appeal, there’s a problem. Particularly for small businesses increasingly taking advantage of the web and the cloud, cybercrime is becoming an increasing threat.

In 2015, roughly 50% of cyberattacks worldwide involved small businesses. While larger companies invest a lot in cybersecurity, small businesses tend to invest less, including a lack of investment in employee training. Hackers can target multiple small businesses at once, cracking passwords through malware and other methods, and infesting computers with ransomware.

To protect against cyberattacks, experts recommend securing, encrypting and hiding WiFi networks. Make sure remote employees have security software on their company phones and laptops, and that they update apps regularly. Use firewalls for internet connections, update computers and run antivirus scans afterwards. Make sure to use updated security software to clean computers regularly, and update web browsers and operating systems.

Any advantage you gain from using WiFi for your business will quickly disappear with a cyberattack. But if you’re able to prioritize security, WiFi can help you prioritize communication and ensure productivity and employee engagement.

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Todoist vs. Omnifocus 2: Which is Better?| By |Brendan Toner

Todoist vs. Omnifocus 2, which is the best for you? In this article I will cover a few differentiating features to help you decide which is best for your particular needs.

Todoist vs. Omnifocus 2 IntroductionTodoist vs. Omn

scratching the surface reveals a myriad of usability and interface details

Todoist and Omnifocus come with their own set of unique features and user interface tweaks to help users squeeze the most out of their time. Superficially, they may appear similar with the ubiquitous overview screen on the left and the task list on the right. However, scratching the surface reveals a myriad of usability and interface details that can often make the difference in choosing one app over the other. It is these smaller details that I want to spend my time on today. If you fancy a full on review then don’t worry as I also have those. Simply call over to the Todoist review and the Omnifocus 2 review for IOS and then jump back here. Its OK, take your time, I can wait.

Todoist vs. Omnifocus 2 Comparison - Omnifocus UI

Omnifocus 2 User Interface for IOS

Todoist vs. Omnifocus 2 Comparison - Todoist UI

Todoist user interface

If you are now up to speed with the full reviews of both, let’s now progress to differentiate both products in this Omnifocus 2 vs. Todoist comparison.

Todoist and Omnifocus Platforms

If you are not a Mac or IOS user then you can probably save some time and need not read this complete article. In know that is a really weird statement coming from a blogger but I recognize your time is valuable. That said, my articles are always worth reading for the entertainment value alone! Anyway, the reason why I suggest skipping some sections is this. Omnifocus is exclusively for the Apple ecosystem and if you don’t have Apple products then you will have to find an alternative Todo list app for your needs. That alternative could be a multitude of multi-platform task managers such as Wunderlist, Swipes, Ticktick or in the case of this Todoist vs. Omnifocus 2 article, Todoist. Todoist supports nigh on everything. At the time of writing, Todoist offers native support for 12 different platforms including the usual suspects – Windows, Mac OS, Android, and IOS. So, if you are not solely devoted to the Apple ecosystem you will need to consider an alternative.

Task management methodology

If you are familiar with the Getting Things Done(GTD) methodology then Omnifocus will probably be right up your street for there are many aspects of it that are tailored specifically for GTD. Let’s highlight a few of those.

Omnifocus 2 Reviews

It is possible to define any task or project as needing a regular review. At a regular interval, Omnifocus will then remind you to review all of those project tasks that you have left to gather dust.

Omnifocus context based task selection

GTD advocates the use of contexts to help with task selection. This means you can select task based on various criteria such as,

  • Time/Energy available
  • Location
  • Resources available

Omnifocus also supports the context concept whereby you can define certain tasks for certain contexts (work, home, computer etc.) and filter all your tasks to show whatever context you find yourself in. Omnifocus can also show tasks based on location – obtainable from your phones GPS. For the record, Todoist also has location based reminders. Omnifocus also allows for selection of tasks based on the time estimate you entered for the task but in my opinion the best implementation I have seen for this is Nozbe, whereby when you flag your tasks for the day the estimated times are summed to give the total time for all tasks. You can check out the full Nozbe review for details or my Matryoshka To do list approach where I suggested a similar idea.

Omnifocus Next action

Next action can be a life saver to being overwhelmed by a multitude of tasks

Next action can be a life saver to being overwhelmed by a multitude of tasks. The beauty of next action is at least two fold. First, many actions can be hidden and only the next physical task you have to do is displayed. This prevents an overly cluttered task list. Second, the next action concept is a great habit to foster as it encourages you to think in terms of actions to progress a project instead of general woolly ideas. For example, instead of writing “learn Spanish”, as a task list next action teaches you to break it down into small actionable steps that can be executed one by one. So learn Spanish becomes

• Research Spanish course online
• Apply for course
• Pay fee
• Purchase supplementary material
• Etc

Each of those is an actionable step. Using Omnifocus, all tasks but the first task will be hidden. Each subsequent task will be spoon fed only after the first has been completed.

To enable this feature though the project must be defined as having sequential actions, as opposed to parallel or individual tasks.

Todoist vs. Omnifocus 2 Comparison - Omnifocus Project Types

Omnifocus Project type – Parallel, Single actions, Series

Todoist vs. Omnifocus 2 Price

Spondulix, moola, bucks. Whatever your favourite terminology is for money, expect to part with some of in return for either of these fine apps.

There is a significant difference between the two here though. To get Omnifocus, you pay money and you get it, that’s is. There is no fancy trial periods or subscription nonsense. For the Mac version, this is $39.99 for the Omnifocus 2 license and $79.99 for the Pro version. The extra $40 for the Pro version buys you three key additional features,

  • Focus. Ability to hide all but the selected tasks.
  • Custom Perspectives. Create a filtered task view based on task information such as Status, Task duration and so on.
  • Scripting. Automate your workflow for repetitive tasks.

The iOS version costs $39.99.

Todoist on the other hand offers a completely different pricing model. Like many to-do list Apps a trial version is available for you to try before you buy. In my experience though, and as highlighted in my Todoist vs. Wunderlist article, the free version is simply too limited for serious use. The current cost for Todoist is $28.99 per year which gets you access to all of the platform apps. Various key features are then enabled for the paid premium version including comments, file uploads and location reminders.

Team Todoist vs. Lone Wolf Omnifocus

Todoist natively supports team working where Task lists and projects can be easily shared with any other Todoist user. Omnifocus on the other hand is more suited to personal productivity and personal tasks. So if you foresee the need to share tasks with other people then Todoist would be the better choice of these two. Naturally, there is a huge choice of other online task managers that have such functionality so you need not limit your consideration to Todoist.

Omnifocus and Todoist Third party support

If you wish to link your Todo list to other third party apps then Todoist has your back. It supports IFTTT, Zapier, Cloud storage providers and Calendars sync. Omnifocus on the other hand does not officially support third party providers. So, if such integration is important to you, then Todoist would appear the better option.

Todoist Bling vs Omnifocus 2 Tweed User Interfaces

In my previous Omnifocus review I likened Omnifocus to a tailor made tweed suit. By that I meant that it was very well put together and fulfills the intended application beautifully. While relatively slick, it does not pack as much bling as Todoist. In addition to the smart features Todoist has applied, see next point, there are a few other bells and whistles. For example, one can accumulate Karma points for completed tasks. These can then be summarised in reported to the sum of completed tasks over certain time periods. On the surface this may seem to be an attempt at motivation but I see some useful purpose for it beyond that. The Karma report also shows a simple bar graph, colour coded by project. This gives a rough idea of which Projects you are spending your time on. If some of those projects are important goals, and are not showing up in that graph then something is wrong. The Karma report helps highlight such problems.

You should also know that emoticons have made the jump from your phone to Todoist. Projects can also be labelled with those little pictures to give a quick, visual representation of the project content.

Omnifocus and Todoist Task Filters

I think this is another major difference between Omnifocus 2 and Todoist. In the standard version of IOS Omnifocus 2, the Perspectives give a very superficial level of task filtering. To level up your filtering functionality you have to upgrade to the Pro version of Omnifocus which then enables more advanced filtering for many of the task details such as estimated time, status and so on. So, to get that level of filtering you have to splash out another $20.

Todoist on the other hand offers very advanced task filtering baked in. It is not based on pre-selected options but rather you can define them based on quasi natural language. You are probably thinking what the heck is quasi natural language. Well I just made that up to describe the kind of syntax you have to write for Todoist filtering. Let’s take a couple of examples to explain. Let’s say you want to create and save a filter to show all the tasks that are overdue and are labelled to be done at your computer. Then you create a filter stating “overdue & #computer”. Or, if you want to know all the tasks assigned to you, you can write “assigned to: me”, or tasks that are due in the next 3 days – “3 days”. Hopefully you get the idea now. In the end, it can be a really powerful tool to help your workflow, especially if you are using Todoist for business.

So, for Todoist vs. Omnifocus task filtering, I would give this round to Todoist.

Omnifocus’ Age old wisdom vs Todoist’s street smarts

Both Omnifocus and Todoist want to help you make the most of your time but the way they go about it is fundamentally different.

On the Omnifocus side, it uses the age old GTD methodology to help focus on the task at hand. The ability to zoom in on tasks and filter your task list is enhanced in the Pro version with the use of the Focus and Custom Perspectives features.

Todoist on the other hand employs all of the modern tricks at its disposal. The latest of these is Automatic Rescheduling. When you run late on tasks it determines the most appropriate date to reschedule it to as based on your habits and future task workload. You can check out Francesco’s review of this particular feature in the video below.

Another nice intelligent feature in Todoist is smart date entry. This function parses the task text in search of dates and times and sets reminders accordingly. For example, let’s say you enter “Doctor appointment at 3pm”. Todoist will recognize the appointment is for 3pm and will create an appointment reminder for that. This feature is particularly cool if you use voice entry so you need only speak the appointment and time and the reminder will be set automatically.

Todoist vs Omnifocus 2 Summary

With two great candidates such as Todoist and Omnifocus it would be expected at this stage to start the summary with, “gee whizz it is difficult to decide between the two”. But I need not do that in this case. The reason I can avoid this gut wrenching Todoist vs. Omnifocus decision making is because Omnifocus have courteously decided who should select it – Apple users who prefer the GTD approach.

So, if you fall into said group then the answer would be that Omnifocus would be best for your needs. Todoist also provides apps for MacOS and IOS but if you are wedded to the GTD approach then undoubtedly Omnifocus would be the better choice as it is tailor made for this.

If on the other hand you want a more flexible task management solution that is needed for other platforms then I would advocate Todoist.

Well that’s my 2 cents on this Todoist vs. Omnifocus debate. Let me know your opinions in the comments section below! And, if you found it useful please share on your social network using the little share buttons on the left of the screen. Cheers!

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