6 missing "must-have" apps

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface General Discussion' started by WillysJeepMan, Apr 26, 2014.

  1. WillysJeepMan

    WillysJeepMan Member

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    This is in response to kristalsoldier's request in the "Why Surface?" thread. He asked me to list the half dozen apps (that I use on iOS) that I need to be able to make the Surface 2 my main tablet (rather than my iPad 4).


    LOGOS Bible software. The WinRT version of Logos has no resemblance to the iOS version. In WinRT it is nothing more than a limited-function reader. No bookmarking, no highlighting, no notes... not even a TOC display. Alternative Bible reading software is not applicable here due to the resources (books, commentaries, etc.) that are specific to Logos.

    Boss Jock Studio. This iOS app is an amazing podcast production app. The widescreen aspect ratio, and powered USB port of the Surface would make it a superior platform for podcast production. The widescreen would allow for a split-screen display of a text script, and the powered USB port offers greater flexibility in the number of supported USB microphones.

    WriteRoom/Notesy/PlainText. I keep important notes as plain text in a DropBox folder that is accessed by Notesy/WriteRoom/PlainText on iOS, ResophNotes on Windows, Epistle on Android, and nvAlt on OSX. I have a variety of devices that I use and this setup ensures that the information is always available and synced. There is nothing like this available for Windows RT. I've tried using text editors to access those files on DropBox but it is not the same. No support for labels, keywords, or even searching across the notes. I've been giving some serious consideration to using OneNote for these purposes but the WYSIWYG notebook metaphor is not as useful as nvAlt-style notes.

    Track 8 Audio player (technically, support for rubust ID3 Metadata tag support). All music player software for Windows RT appears to use the same underlying APIs. When I used the Zune desktop software, it was very finicky in handling ID3 tags. It took a lot of effort to keep things straight... specifically, using ID3V2.3 tags was the only way to ensure that the Zune would catalog things properly. I've since moved to OSX and iTunes (quite inferior to the Zune software). It seems like Windows RT is as finicky as the Zune. This will require additional work to bring newer tracks into line with the rest of my collection... even though it all works fine on OSX, iOS, and Android devices.

    Chrome Web Browser. Chrome is my main web browser on all of my other platforms. The availability of plug-ins, history/bookmark syncing, and overall rendering make it my browser of choice.

    Feedly. When Google Reader was discontinued I settled on Feedly as an RSS reader. Yes I can open up the Feedly website in IE, but it is NOT as usable in touch mode as a native app.

    And there you have it. ;)
     
  2. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the inputs.

    Of the apps that you have listed, the Bible software and Chrome are something that I do not require. I am not familiar with Podcasts nor of their production - though I have been reading (with some help/ suggestions from here and elsewhere) about have podcasts may be a good source of news/ updates etc. and it is something that I may want to explore in the future. I should also mention that if I am understanding the nature and function of podcasts correctly, it may also be a valuable educational tool. But again, I have to look into it in some detail. If it is, then the app you point to (or something like it on the RT platform) may eventually be necessary for me in the medium-term. I never did use Google Reader. Audio player - now that is something that I am really missing. And, not simply an audio player, but also a competent and stable video player. I have not really found any yet - though Mobile HD Player seems to be a good option (for video only). I am not so concerned about the meta-data tags of my music collection. I have my own organizing set-up which makes that irrelevant and anyways I want to avoid any connection to the public cloud - so streaming of any kind is not on my agenda.
     
  3. WillysJeepMan

    WillysJeepMan Member

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    Even if you didn't use Google Reader, do you read RSS feeds of blogs or do you visit each website and read the blogs via the browser? RSS feed readers are pretty essential these days and not having one that is cross-platform, syncs and tracks what is read and unread is a pretty gaping hole.

    What I've learned about many who use the Surface is that for the purposes they use their devices for, they could be just as satisfied with a high quality Android or iOS tablet. They rarely if ever use the capabilities that are unique to the Surface hardware. For them it is the familiarity of Windows, or being produced by Microsoft, that makes it appealing over the other offerings. Note I'm referring to "many" not "all".

    The Surface is positioned to be an excellent content creation tablet. But for things like podcast production, the software is not available. And where pen input is useful, the Surface (OS or hardware, it's difficult to discern) is not on par with the competition. I'm talking about capacity pen capabilities.... which are acceptable on the iPad 4 but virtually unusable on the Surface RT/2. Granted, Windows RT 8.1 appears to have been tweaked to provide better capacitive pen support for foam/rubber tipped stylus at the expense of quality using something like the Adonit Jot.

    But unfortunately most of the discussion regarding software degenerates into, "we don't need apps! IE can display websites directly!".... which completely misses the point of the discussion and reveals how basic their use cases are.
     
  4. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Well, yes, I do read blogs - but only a few - though I should be reading quite a bit more. Just a question of time (i.e., the lack of it), I guess. But yes, in the way that you describe it, it would be interesting to have a cross-platform app to do this - in my case across Win 8.1, Win 8.1 RT and iOS 7.11 (I think that is what the latest one is).

    In my case, having used a Nexus 10 and having used one of the similarly-timed Samsung Tabs and before that an Acer A500, I found that aside from surfing and watching movies (especially on the N10), I was not comfortable with the OS. Personal experience/ opinion, of course. The same has been my experience using an Android phone (in my case the Nexus 4). And, yes, you are right, also in my case, the question is more about being used to a Windows set-up more than anything else. Conceivably, I could convert to MacOS, but that would be revamping my set up completely, which is currently not feasible.

    One of the problems that I have discovered with the Surface 2 (RT) is the precisely that what you mention - the lack of inking/ pen capability. In my opinion, this was blunder on the part of MS and one I hope that they will fix in their next iteration (though I am not holding my breath!). On the plus side, the Surface 2 has effectively lightened my mobile load since now I only carry the Surface, my iPad and my Windows Phone. Earlier, I used to carry a laptop (a ThinkPad (usually the x201 with my R400 operating as a desktop machine), an android tablet and a phone (at that time it was an Android phone). For me that is a significant reduction of weight and a tighter integration of devices and services (stealing a phrase from MS here!).

    About the argument of browser versus apps, I remain ambivalent. I know that for my personal purposes I need a browser. I then ask myself - what apps do I need and for what reason? Since I don't really game any more, that is out. Basically, I need something for news (across platforms - currently, I use Flipboard but I do think it is a bit inadequate in terms of spread of sources - and now that you mention it, I will look into a good RSS reader), something for reading (PDF/ ePubs) - here iOS is simply the best (and Android is a close second). I have yet to find anything comparable to the quality of apps on the Windows/ RT platform that works as well. I need something for movies/ music (best would be if it is cross platform) - again, I have come up short - though my music and video needs would center principally around the Windows platform (desktop, tablet, mobile). I do blog using Word Press (which I must reminded myself to make more active), so there is a need for an app for that. I haven't really looked into it at the moment. I use Skype - this I have found across platforms and works as well as I need it to. While I am on Twitter, I never post, but only follow. For that the current Twitter app across platforms are good enough - though recently someone has recommended Tweetum from the Windows store. Eventually, as I mentioned above, I may need something for podcasts and for making video modules for academic purposes - and I hope I find something for the Windows (desktop and RT) platform. Lastly, I use OneDrive and I find that the app for it across platforms suffices - though the app on iOS is really very basic and is something that I hope MS will update soon enough. Naturally, it goes without saying that much of my work and leisure is tied up to Office and while I would like to have a Modern UI version of it on the RT platform, the current arrangement works with minimal disruption.

    You see, I don't really do anything productive - aside from occasionally replying to mails - on my iPad. It is primarily a consumption device for me, which is also why I don't take the initiative to seek out innovative apps on it.

    So, yeah, in your terms, I am a "basic" user who does not really have complicated needs. As for participating on forums, I still prefer visiting the individual sites. My (by now admittedly dated) experience of using dedicated Forum Apps (like Tapatalk) on Android was a bad experience. Maybe the situation has improved since then across platforms, but I find using the browser in this instance much easier (though on the Surface 2, it seems to be a battery-intensive activity).
     
  5. WillysJeepMan

    WillysJeepMan Member

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    For the sake of balance and to show that I'm not a doom-n-gloomer....

    On a software related note, when Microsoft released Office for iPad as only being part of Office 365 subscription, I was initially reluctant to rent software. But as I saw what I would get for the subscription (5 installs in PC/Mac + 5 on mobile devices) I softened up to it. Then getting a year's subscription for $65 on Amazon for the household it suddenly made financial sense. I'm quite impressed with Office for iPad and just how well preserved the documents are across the platforms. I love, love, love the ability to work with my Office documents equally well on my Windows notebook, iMac, iPad, and Surface.

    Another bright note is TeamViewer for Windows RT. It is quite a solid piece of software. I'll often take my Surface to the office so that I can remotely connect to my iMac at home. The Surface does a fantastic job handling the task. TeamViewer has been the best remote access software I've used so far.

    The Surface 2 easily supports my Blue Yeti USB microphone:
    blue_yeti_1s.jpg

    ...and my Samson Go mic:
    Go-Mic-laptop-web.jpg
    ... all which simply makes the lack of quality recording software even more frustrating.

    For presentations, I use the Targus presentation remote:
    laser-amp16ap-targus-laser-presentation-remote-400x400-imadp6w6bhv3jpg5.jpeg
    Works great with PowerPoint RT.
     
  6. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Impressive! If you don't mind my asking, what do you use this stuff for?
     
  7. WillysJeepMan

    WillysJeepMan Member

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    I use the microphones for podcasting, interviews, and narrating slide shows. The presentation remote is used obviously for controlling PowerPoint presentations... Sometimes I present directly on the Surface's screen (when I'm talking thru a presentation one-on-one), or controlling the presentation when it is displayed on a 2nd display/projector attached to the Surface for a larger audience.

    When things work, I only need a small Targus messenger bag to tote everything I need for a portable studio. But as I mentioned the software is often lacking so I end up using the iPad and have to bring a variety of dongles and other accessories to accomplish the same thing. If I could combine the Surface hardware with the iPad software I'd have a killer setup.
     
  8. kristalsoldier

    kristalsoldier Well-Known Member

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    Interesting! Thanks. I am particularly interested in the part when you mention podcasting and narrating slide shows. Especially, in the case of the latter - narrating slide shows - am I correct to assume that what you do is create a set of slide, which roll on a pre-determined timeline and your narrative explains each slide as it rolls by. In such cases, you don't need to be physically present to make the presentation. Thus, for example, you could upload the whole package - slides + narrative - onto a site and have your viewers download the same from there?
     
  9. sharpuser

    sharpuser Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not the OP, but I produce hundreds of PowerPoint presentations which do just this on PC and Mac. Audio (alone) or video with audio items are linked or embedded with each slide. Using the animation tools, audio segments and video segments are prompted in the sequence desired. Each slide progresses as all these multimedia items are complete. Multimedia includes original animation, music, 'bumper' videos, etc.

    The materials are for Christian ministry, primarily to kids, locally and internationally. Consequently, as stated by the OP, LOGOS Bible software on a non- OS X or iOS device is desired. I need it on my Surface Pro 2, so am very happy this is a real PC. I hope it gets extended to the RT as in iOS for more portability.

    I also am very happy with Office for Mac (2011) and PC (2013) and iPad (2014). It is nice that all the multimedia/PowerPoint mentioned above works with all these devices. Apple Keynote is a bit behind in implementing slide and object timings, but way ahead in file manipulation and execution.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2014
  10. TheCudder

    TheCudder Member

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    Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, even if its stripped down to a lighter version. Being able to import, organize, review & tag photos would be a great benefit. That way when I get home I can just start processing photo's.
     

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