Phablet proving the agile working method

In the previous article I mentioned that I hadn’t found the point of a phablet for business use personally. I found that everything could “be done better” on a tablet for my personal work needs, and that I was still in search of the “thank god I have a phablet moment“. Well after two weeks working with the beastie (Lumia 1320) I may have just found it, thanks mostly to some of the great apps on Windows Phone …..

Mobility is the key

My Eureka moment came doing a fairly routine task, one of the users had an issue logging into a system, and wasn’t forthcoming with details, meaning I was away from the desk and terminal having to determine what the issue was. A reasonable straight forward routine task in that they’d locked themselves out of the network I found out eventually. Usually I tell the user that “let me get back to the desk, I clear the lockout and you can get back in 10 minutes or so “

I then remembered I had the phablet on me (I got use to carrying the weight!) and thought hang on I can sort this here and now. (The office Wi-Fi was available, but in hindsight if I’d have been in an office with no Wi-Fi I could have fell back on the 4G phone signal!). The Phablet mobile data ability is the winner, without Wi-Fi the tablet would have run aground. But being able to fall back on 3/4G mobile data allows even more flexibility for mobile working.

Applications come in handy

I’m a huge fan of the Microsoft RD application for remoting computers (available for free at google play for Android and at the Windows store for Lumia) and a lot of the main server connections at work, were configured on the phablet so that I could “test” the application.

The rest was just showing off but shows how mobile computing changes your approach to the completion of a task. Instead of remember the IP addresses or names of servers. Or fiddling through menus to find applications, it was a simple as saying:-

wp_ss_20141024_0001“Launch remote desktop domain”. Cortana duly started the app and called domain controller remote desktop that I had previously configured, it was set to auto login, and all the security checks and certificates are set. Cortana the assistant application built into Windows Phone 8.1, is really useful and opens up an alternative input method  without having to excessively faff about through menus. Further development promises an “always on” feature, so that voice input wont require the selecting of Cortana to run the app. Now if they can only make it talk like Jarvis off the Iron Man films I’d be one happy geek !

The phablet screen although not as large as the precious tablet, still gives you a high quality, readable screen to work with. The resolution of the screen is fine, and not grainy, making it easy to work with and not having to determine what menu options actually are without struggling with fuzzy or blurred fonts.

I’ve included an un doctored image to show the sharpness / clarity. The 6″ is very workable and  allows you to move the pointer easily to the menu options etc once you’ve obtained a remote connection to a server, while it remains viewable, It’s offset so your finger doesn’t have to be over the actual pointer, just “near it” and it mimics the direction of travel.

wp_ss_20141024_0002So that you can actually see where you’re clicking ( a god send). The rest was a routine selecting the Administrator menu, selecting the user and clearing the account lock. I even changed the users password, handing them the tablet so they could enter the password without them having to tell/write it down for me.

As the grand finale I even logged into the company incident tracker via the browser logged the call feedback details and closed the call, saving time having to remember the details after I got back to the desk and then having to enter the info. Job done and time saved for the classic IT Tea and biscuit break was mine

“Jarvis… drop my needle”

Yes I could have done the task differently log in on the users computer would have actually took longer waiting for my profile to download on the PC. Or, wrestling around network security so that I could get to the domain controller (if I could remember the IP or convoluted naming conventions we use at work!)

Ok, the Cortana bit was for show (I admit it) but proves a valuable example, in that there was no need to hunt through the phablets applications, or remember login details for other secure servers (once RD is configured it remembers them as favourites) The simple straight forward “please do this..” to the phablet worked well and more importantly quickly! Cortana’s rollout in WIndows 10 to other devices opens up an whole different approach on computer use to desktop and mobile devices users alike

 Screen’s not just for movies

Without doubt a 6 inch screen is workable, although it wouldn’t be a personal preference for a long time, but the desktop was clear and readable. The browser working in full desktop mode allowed our support software to run as it would on laptop or PC.

 Mobile devive & data usage requirements have changed

Previous employments years ago I was heavily involved in mobile data, from pedestrian hand held devices to vehicle mounted PDA’s. Back then (hum’s the hovis theme!) this technology was in its infancy. The devices were bulky and cumbersome, and although working over the networks, in the evening the devices had to be racked up in rows so as to download data from the server, and upload any new updates .

The phablet size in compared to the dinosaurs I worked with back then, makes them look and feel like envelopes in comparison. The phablet is a great convenient hand sized device to have and work with, the WiFi or 3G/4G connectivity does make it a real work anywhere device. So much so, that it was borrowed and used by the girlfriend  as a Sat Nav, and during an interview to email the company an updated documents and certificate copies when asked could you send  the details later.

The hear and now is that computing  already is agile/flexible, and you don’t have to wear a watch to get on the band wagon.

The paperwork !

One other thing I must mention is Office 365 and Onedrive. These apps are truly what makes a business phone/phablet useful. The usual got to send that email, do a bit more or finish off the report that’s need for tomorrow. Even preparing a spreadsheet report can all be done by the office app.To prove a point this entire article was done on the phablet, and uploaded via theweb browser version of WordPress.

Using Onedrive as a central storage for your files allows your PC/Laptop/Tablet/Phablet or phone to share the files, you can work at the office, from home. Or, on the move without carrying around mobile storage (USB sticks). If you want to be a mobile/agile worker get your hands on these apps, it’ll benefit the work you need to do no end.

The phablet screen makes the apps far more viable for use than that of the smaller smartphone screen.

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