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10 important tips for living a multi-platform life

Ryan Faas | Sept. 4, 2014
With the rise of different mobile platforms and content ecosystems over the past decade, the technology world is becoming increasingly fragmented.

Decide how flexible you want or need to be in your choices. Being multi-platform or cross-platform can mean different things to different people. It can mean needing solutions that work across virtually every mobile platform with native apps for mobile and desktop and a web option as an always available backup. It can mean just needing your iPhone to communicate well with your PC. It can mean solutions that are available and work well across Windows Phone, Windows 8.x, Windows 7, and Windows RT devices (which effectively means the entry level Surface tablet at this point). Coming up with a clear definition of multi-platform for your individual work and personal needs, based partly on device or service support, helps you gauge what's too limited and what you can live with.

Understand what you're giving up for "free" services. Nothing in life is free, even if it's delivered for free. Many services that are free for end users are supported by ads (that you'll need to put up with) and/or by collecting, packaging, and selling information about you to advertisers. This includes a wide range of services, including most of Google's consumer services, and virtually all social networks. If you're comfortable making that trade off, it's perfectly legitimate to do so, but you should be aware that you're doing it. Along the same lines, be aware of the limitations of "freemium" services and apps, which are often free for a limited range of capabilities or level of use but charge for better features or additional use like the amount of access, storage, or number of users. It's worth noting that some companies employ both mechanisms, allowing you to remove ads as a paid premium option.

Determine which is more important: Premium systems or low cost. Not all companies compete in the low cost or free market. Those that do have distinct differences in the hardware, software, services, and support they offer to premium customers versus price-sensitive customers. In particular, Apple competes in the premium space, which allows it to command higher margins than other companies, but it can be successful in doing so because it usually delivers a high-end experience from purchase through setup through support. This choice extends out into cloud services that you'll use for work, devices that you choose for home, and your choice of wireless carrier or broadband provider. You can even extend the thought all the way to purchasing a car. The best approach: Know what you absolutely need regardless of cost, what you'd like if it's reasonably priced, and what you can truly live without.

Play around before making a serious commitment. Sticking with the car metaphor, it's rarely wise to buy a car without taking it out for a test drive . The same idea should apply to all or most of your technology choices. Go to the store and play with the phones or tablets or PCs you're thinking about buying. Download the free or lite version of an app to try it out. Sign up for a limited-time trial of a service before making a commitment and then make use of it. Whatever it is, use it like you expect to in daily life and see if it holds up. Use features you don't think you'd use just to see if you might want them after all. 


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