I got thinking the other day just how web innovation and growth in broadband internet has transformed the ways in which we communicate and consume media both at home and abroad. But I’m not just talking about the internet and email – they are too obvious. A host of new applications and services have made staying in touch seamless. Here’s my top five must have applications for stress free communication and media consumption when overseas:
5) Twitter & Facebook: Despite my views on Facebook – I have to concede that it matters. Pretty much everyone is on it – and it makes sense to use it if you want to keep in touch with your social network of friends and family. I post to it regularly via Twitter. Twitter, in my view, is superior. Much more open, cleaner and thanks to its APIs an array of clients support it.
4) Audible.co.uk : Getting hold of the latest books is not always possible. Audible is a far more efficient way to get your fix. For £7.99 a month I get to download and own a new audio book a month. Great for long flights. I’ve pretty much given up on reading books…..audible is far more convenient.
3) iTunes: Music, movies, TV shows and podcasts – iTunes is a central part of my ecosystem. Rather than lugging around DVDs and CDs I can rent and buy pretty much anything I want. Not always the cheapest option for movies and TV shows – but the cost, in my view, is off-set by the convenience of effortless downloading.
2) SlingBox: By plugging this fantastic gadget into either a cable/satellite service of your choice back home – you can stream the content, in real time over the web and watch it on your computer or mobile device anywhere on the planet. The quality will depend on your bandwidth – but if you’re a sports fan or soap junkie – you can watch your favorites – any time or any place.
1) Skype : A no brainer and pretty much the de facto voice/video client for everyone. However, my number one pick is the ‘SkypeIn’ service. For just €4 a month I get a UK telephone number which roots through to my Skype account. The deal also includes being able to make unlimited calls to any UK landline. Not only does this reduce my costs of calling the UK but it eliminates costs of friends and family calling me. A fantastic, if relatively unknown service from Skype.