An online desktop

The concept behind Webjets is organising your thoughts using simple cards. Think of it as an alternative desktop that is accessible from your web browser. In this new desktop, you can insert YouTube videos, to-do lists (or any kind of lists), folders, bookmarks, tables, Wikipedia articles, even mind maps, and of course you can attach files.

Webjets creative desktop review
Source: Webjets.io website

Now you will probably think that a desktop featuring all the above would be cluttered, but that is not the case. The magic of Webjets is that all features share the same mainstream card design, so they are visually pleasing and easy to locate. Not to mention that you can change the background to whatever suits you.

One of the killer features though is the fact that when you embed, say, a Google Doc or an Excel file on your Webjets desktop, the document stays open on it, enabling you to view and edit it on the spot!

Best of all? Webjets offers online collaboration.

A variety of uses

When is this useful? I’m a writer so just think of the possibilities of using such an app to create your storyboard and include your research on the same page. I can have my mind map showing different character relations, a chapter outline as a list which I can change anytime, inspirational YouTube videos and my background research neatly structured into folders.

Webjets creative desktop review
Source: Webjets.io website

This is also quite useful for my academic papers. Again, the research could go into folders, along with my bookmarks and research papers attached. Of course, the main benefit here would be the collaboration feature: colleagues could not only have a look but also edit and provide feedback to my papers.

Overall, I can envision the online collaboration feature being really useful among architects, engineers, graphic designers, students, bloggers, teachers, editors, researchers, covering any kind of creative and collaborative needs.

Fast, efficient, simple UI, free tier

As for it usability, the service is quite fast as it is, in fact I had no problems using it, with the user interface being clear and very easy to follow. There are two pricing tiers: free and premium, the free version limited to 200 notes per user (which should be enough for most people). Even though the app is still in its beta stage, it looks very promising. I could go as far as argue that a virtual online desktop like the one offered by Webjets is what has been missing in a market overcrowded with creative apps. A great idea and excellent work behind it – do give it a try.

The new Gmail is a time-saver!

Gmail logo

Essential redesign

Ok, apart from the much-needed makeover the new Gmail is absolutely awesome. A lot has been said about the snooze feature which is certainly very handy: if you think an email can wait, you just snooze it for a later date (think of it as a reminder).

The other important feature is the “expiry date” you can set on an email. After this date, the recipient cannot access it anymore (very useful for private messages or messages that are no longer needed after a specific date). However, the three features below really stand out for me and their importance hasn’t been stressed enough.

New Gmail, material redesign
Source: (Official Gmail blog)

Sidebar: Tasks, Calendar, Keep

A sidebar is crucial because when writing a message you need to be able to have your calendar open next to it so you can schedule your meetings and important dates. No need to open a separate calendar window and waste time or lose track of what you were about to say.

Your tasks and to-dos are also presented next to your messages so you can easily organise your day. Same for your Keep notes. Let’s say you’re running some errands outside and you take a picture of an item or note down an important address in Google Keep, something you need to email later on. When you sit down to write that email, your Google Keep notes are right next to you. How handy is that?

Visible attachments in your Inbox

This is true! You no longer need to open each different email individually to check if the file you’re looking for is there. Now attachments can be displayed under the title of the email in your Inbox. Just click on them and they are instantly downloaded on your hard drive. A time saver? Definitely. It makes you wonder why on earth this hadn’t been there in the first place!

AI in your email: Smart compose

This is the latest feature (you can enable it by going to the new Gmail settings and enable “Experimental access” in the General tab). What it basically does is auto-complete your sentences with suggestions as shown below. Neat!

New Gmail, material redesign
Source: (Official Gmail blog)

Should I switch from Outlook.com?

It depends. The classic folder-structure of Outlook.com seems to resemble more they typical business email clients. The interface might still look a bit cleaner for paid customers, but for free uses the big ads on the right-hand side of the screen are distracting. Outlook.com does have a wonderful Sweep function that can immediately get rid of emails with the same title or content. But then again, the improved Gmail functionality is hard to beat: who doesn’t want to have access to their calendar, important notes and tasks right next to them while composing a new message? Along, with the visible attachments right in your Inbox, the new Gmail could be a winner, saving you lots of valuable time.

Rethinking software pricing

Software is often overpriced. We hardly realise this and fall victims of clever marketing plans where a premium account is essential to use extra features for most products.

The thing is we take for granted that most software pricing is right. Let’s imagine the following scenario of a random product: we sign up for a new service that makes our work super-productive. We later find out that we need to pay a monthly fee in order to get some decent fully-working features. And in most cases we pay the required amount without any second thoughts. After all, what they’re asking for is worth the price and what is, in all honesty, $10-$15 a month (to name just a random price)? I mean, that’s what most people pay, right?

No! That is a big NO unless you happen to live in the US or an affluent European country. Take for instance a country like Greece, where the average monthly salary is between 500 and 600 Euros. Now, any hypothetical service or product that asks for $10 per month equals to $120 a year (just to pick a random price tag, which seems to be the average asking price for most software these days).

That is roughly 1/5 of the monthly salary of the average Greek citizen. And that is probably for supplementary software. If you count in a proper Word Processor, Image Editor or Anti-Virus, then one has to spend almost half of one’s salary on computer software alone.

Having lived in countries like Greece and knowing the economic situation, I often find it puzzling when tech review magazines name most services and products cheap. Maybe for them. For what percentage of the world population lives in the US or the EU? Shouldn’t a new startup really consider the fact that most people cannot afford a steep price tag?

Of course, you will argue, there are free and often open-source alternatives. Fair enough. Still, this does not account for the fact that fully-featured, mainstream software is way too expensive for the residents of most countries in this world.

When all is said and done, it is not just the software companies that need to realise that. Customers should think clearly if the asking price is worth the final product. After all, how much does extra bandwidth cost in our days? Surely it’s not that expensive to offer some additional MBs. Or how does a new theme justify an increase in price (after all there are thousands of CC images available for free)? Or even how much does it cost to have just a couple of people work for customer care? Are all of these features worth an expensive price tag for the individual?

In the end, I think we are all used to paying excessive amounts of money for basic software features or features that have only a negligible cost for most companies. Software pricing should be really reconsidered if it is to be ethical and fair.

The views expressed in this post are personal and do not refer to any specific piece of software or service. While I fully respect the services offered by most software companies, all I am suggesting is a reconsideration of the current pricing model by taking into consideration the situation in most parts of this world in order to embrace a wider user base on more ethical grounds.