BlackBerry Priv is indeed one of the most significant advances in Android land. It has stellar hardware, unmatched styling in terms of a slide out keyboard and one of the most secure stock Android versions. Although I do use my BlackBerry Passport as a daily driver, Priv is intriguing enough to pull me back; as such I am using both the devices. Herein, I document my daily academic workflows using Priv. A similar set up was possible through BlackBerry Passport but some of the “app gap” perceptions were true to a limited extent. However, I am glad that Android M has finally achieved some feature parity in terms of being able to control the app permissions as BlackBerry 10.
I heavily depend on the old world “RSS Feeds” (social media is overrated for content discovery as is impossible to discover the signal in the noise). Newsblur is the first application that I use to filter my RSS Feeds; I have been using this service for over 4 years now with no downtime and a very proactive independent developer behind this amazing service (as an effective Google Reader replacement). I briefly tried Inoreader (with its Android application) but it isn’t as powerful as Newsblur (plus it’s very pricey in it’s premium avatar). Newsblur allows me to train it by keywords that automatically filter out the subscriptions by bubbling up the most relevant content. This is important for me to sift through tonnes of feeds and updates (and and when they are published) in real time. The Android application works great (with important facelift and optimisations in the recent update). Newsblur is highly recommended; all my important articles are then sent to Instapaper.
“Read it later,” web services are crucial. Instapaper or Pocket (both with the web and tablet apps) are great but I do prefer extra features of Instapaper (like controlling margins and now with improved search). I prefer Instapaper over other services; partly because of their proactive approach; great customer service and continuous roll out of new features. It also supports tagging and a great way to read anything available online that isn’t a book or PDF. I back up all my bookmarks to Pinboard by using an app called as Pindroid. Pinboard and Instapaper are crucial steps after Newsblur to save and share full text and bookmarks. Pinboard also allows for archival of content but the service is little pricey. I’ve included an introduction to Pinboard here and here.
I organise my articles (in pdf form) in folders based on the subject on Dropbox. Cloud services do come with their caveats and its highly recommended that you use an offline back up. Dropbox is recommended because it offers two factor authentication for extra security.
You can share specific folders or files with people that would be automatically updated for the person who subscribes to that on Dropbox. We use it for our clinic by having one central document that delegates the work to different users and teams. My annotated pdfs can be backed up on Dropbox in real time. For me, Priv allows it to be done on the go. If I have I to update any specific individual, I personally prefer to use BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), a cross platform application that allows for far superior experience than any other competing application. This also allows me to transfer files/ attachments by using BBM Protected. (Read an introduction here, why BBM is a role model for other applications and how it gives greater control over privacy).
I sometimes use Scanner application (CamScanner Pro) to click the pictures of the text that I am interested in. Evernote allows me to store the pictures and notes and the beauty is the web sync that makes it possible for me to pull up any notes that I have taken during the conferences or seminars that I have attended. Further, having the Priv close to me allows me to jot my ideas, as and when they occur. This I do by using BlackBerry Notes. These are synced to my desktop when I am back from work (using the MS Exchange/ Fastmail).
If I have to email, I prefer and recommend Fastmail. This is lightening fast email; one of the best with support for custom domains. The paid account offers tonnes of features and I get zero spam by use of custom aliases. The inbox rules are powerful with several customisations that allows me to sort out my emails and keep the volumes to manageable levels. Of course, the hub on my Priv allows me to view and respond in almost real time; the support for push protocol is brilliant. So is the ability to organize my schedules (using Calendar) and sync contacts. (See more on the features on their excellent blog)
After collection of the reading material, I prefer to read my articles during the long commute on the device itself. Instapaper has a dark-on-white theme for night reading that I use as a default.
Nevertheless, once the pdf’s are highlighted and sorted out, I prefer to use Bookends with its annotation ability and built in pdf viewer that automatically extracts all highlighted notes. For my research, I would need access to the digital objects identifier that is automatically fetched online. Subsequently, I use Scrivener and Mellel for final writing and bibliography with Word editing.
From Newsblur for discovery, Instapaper/ Pinboard for archival, Dropbox for sharing and Fastmail for emails, Priv marries all the services with aplomb! With a stellar battery, BlackBerry Priv easily lasts me for the whole day with enough juice to spare. Android M gives me the fine tuned ability to control app permissions (and therefore my privacy).