Get More Productive With These Apps
With their powerful processors and extensive connectivity, the best smartphones have become indispensable personal assistants and productivity aids that are always at our side. If you're aiming to get more done on the go, finding productivity-boosting apps should be at the top of your to-do list. From note-taking apps and mobile office suites to calendars, timers and to-do lists, here are our favorite productivity apps that you can install right now on your iOS or Android device.
(Image Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock)
Any.do (Android, iOS: Free)
Busy people often forget daily tasks and chores, but Any.do (Android, iOS) is there to keep your schedule on track with to-do list, reminders, notes and the ability to share lists with and assign tasks to others. The app lets you sync between phone, desktop, web, and tablet to keep your lists up to the minute. A voice-entry feature lets you add items to your task list just by speaking. Calendar integration is available for better task list management. Further enhance your productivity with cross-platform support for sub-tasks, notes, and file attachments. Choose either a free or premium version with advanced features.
Todoist (Android, iOS: Free)
Another excellent to-do list and planner app is the aptly named Todoist (Android, iOS), a multi-platform planner app that keeps things efficient with a clean, gimmick-free approach to interface and task management. Featuring a powerful natural language engine that can easily transform a jotted down thought into a one-off or recurring task, color-coded priority levels, shared projects, and productivity graphs that record your progress, Todoist is a handy companion for getting things done. More advanced users will appreciate the powerful integration with services like Dropbox, IFTTT, and Slack. The app is free forever, though premium subscriptions unlock additional features.
In late October, Todoist's Foundations update delivered some important new features. Sections, which is long overdue if you ask me, help you organize all of your projects and to-dos in groups. Quick Add makes it easy to speedily add items to your lists. Foundations is also supposed to make the application faster and more reliable.
Word, Excel & Powerpoint (Android, iOS: Free)
Microsoft's Office suite of programs has long been a gold standard for desktop productivity, and the mobile versions of Word (Android, iOS), Excel (Android, iOS) and Powerpoint (Android, iOS) continue that tradition. Designed to provide maximum file compatibility with their desktop versions while modifying the interface for touchscreen devices, each of the three apps allows users to view and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations respectively. Cloud support for services such as OneDrive, Drive and Dropbox make for easy sharing and collaboration. While the free tier is OK for basic viewing and editing, you'll get the most out of the apps with an Office 365 subscription.
Drafts 5 (iOS: Free)
Agile Tortoise makes a mean note-taking and quickfire writing app with the aptly named Drafts, now in its fifth iteration. Fire Drafts up, and the app throws you a quick blank page with a keyboard at the ready. New entries and notes get placed into an Inbox so you can tag and sort them later. Alternatively, you can use any of the dozens of useful quick actions and app integrations to turn your jotted-down text notes into documents, tweets, social media notes, emails or messages, while Inboxed notes can be tagged for sorting, flagged for importance, or archived. The text editor itself is highly customizable, allowing you to tweak everything from spacing to line heights and margins. A premium subscription lets you add and edit quick actions; it also adds themes and icons while introducing workspaces and other handy productivity features.
1Password (Android, iOS: Free)
Nothing wastes time you could be spending doing something productive like trying to remember a password. 1Password (Android, iOS) saves you the mental energy of trying to recall every single password you've ever created, and it does it in a secure way. You can store many different things within 1Password — logins to apps and websites, credit cards, bank account info, passports, licenses and more — with a single Master Password protecting all that info. With end-to-end encryption and encryption keys that stay on your phone, you're the only one who ever sees your password. iPhone users with newer models will like how the app works with FaceID. You can try out 1Password for free for 30 days before signing up for a $3.99 monthly subscription.
Just Press Record (iOS: $4.99)
Just Press Record is a versatile one-tap recording app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch that also adds some useful features like built-in transcription features for easy note taking. Users can record from a long press on the app icon, from a lockscreen or notification widget. (There's also an Apple Watch Complication for Just Press Record if you've got one of Apple's smartwatches.) The app can transcribe speech with support for a number of languages and spoken punctuation commands. Recordings are sorted by date and time, and can be manually renamed. The transcription also allows you to search through recordings for specific terms. Recordings and transcriptions sync to iCloud, and you can share them to a variety of apps.
Otter Voice Notes (Android, iOS: Free)
Another option for device-assisted voice note-taking is Otter Voice Notes (Android, iOS), a smart transcription app. Otter can record from your phone's internal mic or through a Bluetooth device; it then automatically transcribes your work nearly in real-time, complete with punctuation, speaker ID, and searchable playback of your recordings. Users can edit transcripts to fix any errors, and transcripts can be exported to text or to other apps, or shared with a group or through public, view-only links. The free plan doesn't even hobble the experience, offering users 600 minutes of transcribed audio every month. A $9.99-per-month subscription ups that to 6,000 minutes.
Memento (iOS: $3.99)
iOS users who want to improve the look of their reminders should check out Memento, which offers a choice between a traditional vertical view of upcoming to-dos and a more visually pleasing grid look. The app also appears as a Widget on iOS 12's Today screen, and a For You tab helpfully provides an at-a-glance look at your most important reminders. Memento's share extension even lets you create reminders from other apps. Because Memento syncs with the built-in iOS Reminders app, all your existing to-dos easily transfer over to the new app.
Cloze (Android, iOS: $17 per month)
Keeping track of your business and professional contacts can be a dizzying to-do, so a good contacts manager can be a big help. Cloze (Android, iOS) tries to build an all-in-one contacts, social network and email command center. It syncs details about your contacts from your social networks and email so that your information and profiles are always up-to-date. The app also functions as a one-stop social networking command center, allowing you to tweet, update your status, like or share links, and more. Additionally, Cloze uses your interactions and messages to identify "Key People" and automatically surfaces tweets, status messages and other related updates from them.
LiquidText (iPad: Free, $29.99 unlock)
LiquidText is a remarkably powerful tool for working on documents on the iPad, providing a versatile workspace for you to annotate, compare, search, and review documents on the iPad. With LiquidText, you can annotate right on the document, or jot down notes on the side and connect them to snippets of the document simply by drawing connecting lines. That creates connections across multiple pages or even multiple documents, linking together your ideas for ease of reference, without sacrificing the natural ease of use of handwritten notes. You can pull up excerpts and compare pages of different documents, annotate freely within a document or onto your workspace, and share your project with others by exporting your project workspace to PDF, Word document, or full LiquidText file.
24me (iOS: Free)
24me is a smart virtual assistant app that helps you make sense of your business day and appointments by combining calendar features, a to-do-list, and note-taking. The calendar syncs with a wide range of calendar services such as Google Calendar, iCal, Exchange and Outlook. 24me also provides smart notifications such as a heads-up notice for the next day's events and tasks, the right time to leave for your next appointment based on traffic conditions, and weather alerts. Voice controls make it easy to take down notes and set appointments, and you can even create tasks through Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Apple Watch. A premium subscription provides extra features like more customization options and the ability to turn emails into tasks.
Hours (iOS: Free)
Keeping track of and logging your working hours, shifts, and schedules can be a headache. Enter Hours, a handy iOS time-tracking utility that comes with a visual timeline, helpful reminders, and other tools to log in your work hours with minimal hassle. Users can set notifications; easily stop, start, and change timers; set rounding rules for time logging; view tracked hours on a calendar; and track time by client, project, and task. You can add notes to your time log, view detailed reports in-app, and send out detailed CSV and PDF reports. A premium subscription ($7.99 per month) adds additional reporting features, multi-device sync and team creation and management.
Toggl (Android, iOS: Free)
Toggl (Android, iOS) is a free time tracking app available for desktop and mobile that makes time tracking a snap, whether for individuals or groups. Users can start, stop, and log times and tasks on their mobile phone or desktop with data syncing between the two platforms, allowing you to easily record hours spent on projects or tasks. Included tools help you organize, bulk edit, or tag entries for easy auditing and reporting, with the ability to import or export data in PDF or CSV formats. Premium subscriptions add features like locking time entries, reminders, rounding rules for billable time, as well as project and team management tools.
Adobe Acrobat Reader (Android, iOS: Free)
Adobe Acrobat Reader (Android, iOS) is a highly functional annotatation app, which users rely on to view and sign their PDFs. Open PDF files from email, the web, or any app that supports sharing as you search, scroll, and zoom in and out. You can comment on PDFs using sticky notes and drawing tools or highlight and mark up text with annotation tools. Fill out PDF forms by typing text into fields and use your finger to e-sign any document. Save and share documents through a free Adobe Document Cloud account or Dropbox. In-app purchases lets you create PDFs, reorder pages, and convert Micorsoft Office files and images.
Outlook (Android, iOS: Free)
The Microsoft Outlook (Android, iOS) app is a mobile productivity powerhouse, bringing your email, attachments, contacts and calendars into easy reach. Outlook's built-in analytic engine automatically surfaces important email (across multiple accounts) based on your communications, and quick swipe controls allow you to easily triage your email. It's a great mobile email app, and works with Exchange, Office 365, Outlook.com, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and iCloud email accounts. Check out our in-depth look at Outlook mobile here.
IFTT (Android, iOS: Free)
If you find yourself wasting a lot of time with repetitive internet tasks, or just want to automate tasks on your phone, try IFTTT (Android, iOS). The app comes with a variety of pre-built "applets" that automate tasks like backing up photos to cloud accounts, messaging your roommate or family if you're near the grocery, or having your smart lights turn themselves on when you return home from work. In addition to the pre-built applets, Users can also build custom tasks from these applets and services, combining multiple tasks and triggers in an "If This, Then That" structure (from which the app takes its name).
Edison Mail (Android, iOS: Free)
Edison Mail (Android, iOS) is an all-in one mobile email app that supports a variety of email clients while also bundling in a handy smart assistant and many helpful mail management features. The app offers configurable swipe controls, auto-sorting of email by categories, and a handy bulk unsubscribe feature to help you get off spammy mailing lists. Real-time travel notifications immediately alert you to any travel-related messages such as flight delays or gate changes, and the package-racking system makes a search for tracking codes a thing of the past. Edison's app supports Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Exchange, Outlook, Office 365, Hotmail, AOL, and IMAP accounts.
MORE: Best Email Apps
Google Drive (Android, iOS: Free)
Google's cloud storage service, Drive (Android, iOS), serves as a great productivity aid due to its integration with the rest of the Google ecosystem. Users can easily upload and download any file, and efficient file sharing and collaboration features let you easily work on shared projects collaboratively. Easy configuration of sharing settings, folder structure, quick access to recent files and details, and built-in viewing of documents, PDFs, photos and videos make for a versatile cloud storage tool whatever mobile OS you use.
Trello (Android, iOS: Free)
Trello (Android, iOS) is a highly customizable digital bulletin board that you can use to set up anything from to do lists, tasks, notes and more. Users create "lists," which are dynamic containers that can be filled with "cards." These can be anything from tasks, notes, ideas, pictures and more, which you can then drag and drop up and down the line, or move to other lists. All of this can be shared with other users, with provisions for creating new cards, adding comments, and assigning tasks.
Ayoa (Android, iOS: Free)
Droptask took a highly visual approach to project coordination, and that's continued now that the app has been merged with iMindMap and relaunched as Ayoa (Android, iOS). Use the app's Mind Map feature to plot out ideas, turning branches of your mind map into tasks. From there, you can tap Ayoa's planning features to prioritize your workload, set deadlines and create reminders. Chat, sharing and task assignment feature let you use the app with your team. You try out the app for free for seven days; after that, you can stick with a free basic plan or upgrade to a more advanced plan, with pricing starting at $10 per month for one user. (Prices scale up for more users, and Ayoa is capable of supporting 60-plus users.)
Teamweek (Android, iOS: Free)
Teamweek (Android, iOS) is a project and time-management workspace that takes inspiration from Gantt charts to help teams quickly visualize who is working on what tasks, along with an easy drag-and-drop interface and organizational tools for team leaders and members to adapt on the fly. Users can create, assign and color-code tasks on a shared calendar for ease of reference. Data gets synced across teams whether on desktop or mobile, with options to break tasks down further into checklists or share project timelines with clients. The free tier lets you coordinate with up to five users, while premium tiers add extra features like project and annual views.
Slack (Android, iOS: Free)
Slack (Android, iOS) takes conventional instant messaging a step further to make a more useful group messaging and coordination tool. Slack covers your IM basics with real-time messaging synced across devices. It also supports file sharing, direct and group messaging tools. In addition, the app features a system of chat channels, allowing you to quickly set up subgroups for task or topic-oriented discussions. Slack archives your communications, allowing you to search through old messages, channels and shared files, and includes integration with a variety of services such as cloud storage, Asana, Zendesk and more. Premium plans provide more features, such as expanded file storage and better app integration.
Asana (Android, iOS: Free)
Asana (Android, iOS) aims to avoid the hassle of keeping track of multiple email threads by putting your team's project management and communications all in one place. Rather than coordinating over multiple messy email threads, Asana users can create projects, assign tasks to individuals, set deadlines, comments, requests and more. This way you can easily look up who is supposed to do what, check what's already been done, share ideas, comments and efficiently communicate with the entire team whether on Android, iOS or in the Web app. You can use Asana and create projects and tasks with teams of up to 15 people for free, with premium tiers increasing this cap and unlocking more organizational tools.
Basecamp (Android, iOS: Free for subscribers)
Basecamp has a long history as a powerful project management and team coordination tool, and the latest major version, Basecamp 3 (Android, iOS) delivers tried and true tools, as well as new refinements. The app features threaded messaging and quick messaging with its group Campfire as well as Pings, to-do lists, centralized schedules and document and file storage. New tools include a Clientside mode for quickly getting feedback from clients while keeping your internal group content separate, a notification scheduling system so you don't get notifications after work hours or during the weekend. It'll take a bit of setup and costs at least $29 per month for a team, but it's a powerful, professional tool to work with.
LastPass (Android, iOS, Windows Phone: Free)
You never need waste time fiddling with your logins and passwords ever again with the LastPass mobile app. The LastPass Premium app (Android, iOS) is a password vault, strong password generator and browser all rolled into a single mobile app. Users can sync their password vaults, and then have the LastPass browser automatically fill in forms and login details when surfing the Web and accessing sites, either through the in-app browser, Safari or Chrome. Users can also generate new passwords, as well as add or update their list of Form Fills. Additionally, the app includes Secure Notes features for important information that you want to bring along in encrypted form. Best of all, Lastpass now includes unlimited cross-device password vault syncing to all of its users, free of charge.
Evernote (Android, iOS: Free)
Evernote (Android, iOS) is one of the premier cross-platform note-taking services, allowing users to take and upload notes, pictures, audio and video snippets and organize them into cloud notebooks that can be synced across different devices. Loaded with powerful organization, formatting and sharing options, Evernote is still king even with competitors such as OneNote and Google Keep. The free version lets users upload 60MB worth of content monthly, with paid accounts allowing more options.
Pocket (Android, iOS: Free)
Have you ever wasted too much time reading interesting articles or links when you should be doing something else? Then put it in your Pocket (Android, iOS). Pocket, the rebranded version of the venerable Read It Later service, is a great offline reading tool that allows you to select and save articles, pictures and videos for later viewing.
OneNote (Android, iOS: Free)
Microsoft may have been a bit slow in bringing Office over to the mobile side, but OneNote (Android, iOS) is here and continuously evolving. A cloud-syncing note-taking and uploading app, OneNote also shines with its collaboration features, such as the ability to have multiple users working on the same note or document. OneDrive integration is yet another selling point, especially for those who use Windows 10. (You can read more about getting started with this app in our Beginner's Guide to OneNote.)
Dropbox (Android, iOS: Free)
One of the best and most popular services that gave birth to the cloud storage boom, Dropbox (Android, iOS) is the go-to solution for many people's cloud storage and sharing needs. At its core, Dropbox is an online storage locker for your files, documents, photos and other data that you can access anywhere (as well as download for offline access). You can also use Dropbox as a way to share files for collaboration, as well as upload new material.
Fantastical 2 (iOS: $4.99)
Fantastical is a great iOS calendar that has a neat look while also delivering power features when it comes to creating and manageing events. A clean presentation of events in daily, weekly and monthly calendar views is backed up by really easy reminder and event management. Users can create events through a traditional menu based interface, or simply type in or speak a quick audio note that the app automatically parses into an event (which users can further tweak). The Day Ticker is especially great, allowing users to view and manage their events and reminders. It's no wonder why Fantastical is one of our favorite calendar apps.
Get More Work Done
Productivity, clearly, doesn't begin and end with apps. You need all sorts of tools to knock things off that to-do list of yours. For instance, what happens when you need a printed copy of your work? Check out our best all-in-one printers. Is your laptop living up to your expectations? We've also narrowed the field to bring you just the best business notebooks around. And I'll bet our tips for making the most out of Microsoft Word has some hidden gems that even a pro wouldn't know.