This blog entry is part of a continuous writing on the topic of “optimizing smartphone usage for smarter life”.
If you haven’t done so, please start reading from the first article on this series.


Internet-based communication comes in various types and forms. While most people only think about instant text messaging and video chat when talking about “Internet-based communication”, actually there are more than that. We have email. We have social media (like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc).

For collaboration, we have services offering group chat (text messaging to multiple persons). We have FTP and cloud storage for file sharing with other people. We have forums. We have blogs. We have different forms of interactive websites, they can be used for both communication and collaboration. We can also use social media to do collaboration. They’re basically tools. It all depend on how we actually use them.

This blog post is the third part of 8 posts I will write about optimizing smartphone for smarter life.
I will write this guide based on iPhone. Simply because iPhone is my primary smartphone for now. Most of my tips and guides should be applicable for Android, Windows Phone and other smartphone OS. But you might need to do a bit of more research to find out how to get similar function in that OS.

This guide will NOT teach you step-by-step how to setup or use the features. Rather, I am trying to inspire you with a feature’s functionality and how we can benefit from it to live smarter life. More productive, more time efficient, more organized.




Instant Text Messaging

There are PLENTY of services we can use to quickly send text messages to other people, anywhere on this planet. Traditional text messages via phone operator will cost more to send people in different country. And it will cost even more if we use it while traveling overseas (roaming cost). With Internet-based text messaging, we can send free messages to people in any country, wherever we are.

Years ago, instant text messaging services made their debuts in desktop computers. From ICQ, then Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger (lately became Windows Live Messenger), Google Talk (lately became Google Hangouts), Skype and many more. When mobile phones are getting smarter, these messaging services also made their way to mobile devices. Some services are even only available in mobile devices, like Blackberry Messenger and WhatsApp. With so many options of chat services, we often get confused ourselves. Yes most of them are free apps, but having all those apps on stand-by to receive push notifications drains battery and adds unnecessary burden to the mobile OS. I personally use Apple’s iMessage as my primary messaging service now, with Yahoo Messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Tango, Skype and Google Hangouts remain on stand-by. Believe me, there are still plenty of other services. But having these apps in my iPhone already get me connected to most of my contacts.

Some instant messaging apps have the capability to send pictures. This can be very useful when words are not enough to describe something. Imagine trying to explain what a dress look like to another person using text messages. Simply taking a photo of the dress and sending it to the other person will do the trick. Faster and easier.

Voice / Video Chat

Not limited to text, we can easily do voice and video chat via Internet now. The one I use the most is Apple’s FaceTime. Very useful in doing overseas meeting. Another cross-platform service to offer video chat is Google Hangouts and Tango. Skype can do video chat in desktop computer, but somehow they disable it in iPhone app (though sending video message is still doable).

Social Media

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, Instagram, etc) is a new form of communication and interaction between people. Depend on how we use it, social media can be a powerful collaboration tool too. Since it is so well known, I presume you don’t need further explanation on this topic.

iPhone’s Photo Stream Sharing

Yes, I do use Photo Stream sharing for work collaboration. It’s convenient when working with other people in different location. Each of us take photos (or screen capture) of a certain object to be discussed, put it in a shared photo stream folder, and everyone in team can see the photo, and they can comment on it. I find it very handy when working on a mobile website project with team members from different location.

File Sharing

I see file sharing as another form of our communication. We don’t always use words or texts to deliver our thoughts. Sometimes we use pictures, charts, tables, or a well-prepared presentation. An interesting app called SlideShark, for example, allow us to upload PowerPoint presentation to their cloud server so we can access our files from everywhere. This app is currently the best app to do PowerPoint presentation from iPhone/iPad because it perfectly display our tables and other formatting just like how it appears in desktop computer. To top it off, they have a good collaboration tool. When we present something, our audience can also get the presentation file in their own devices (broadcasting feature). This is just an example on how our smartphone can enhance different parts of our life, including work.

Another way to do file sharing is using cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive. Plenty of third party apps in iPhone has built in support to access file from Dropbox and Google Drive. Or we can also set up our own FTP server for colleagues from the same company to be able to put files there and use them together when necessary.




Optimizing Smartphone for Smarter Life, list of topics in this series:
1. Calendar, Reminders, Notes
2. Maps and Trip Planning
3. Communication and Collaboration
4. Reading and Learning
5. Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation
6. Content Creation
7. Personal Database
8. Saving Money
*. Epilogue

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Apple and/or Google and do not receive any financial benefit from writing this article.