With their powerful processors and LTE connectivity, our smartphones can be indispensable as personal assistants and productivity aids, especially since they rarely leave 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 for the new year. 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 now on your iOS or Android device. (Image Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock)
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.
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.
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.
CamScanner (Android, iOS) turns your phone's camera into a portable document scanner and OCR tool, allowing you to quickly convert photos of your paper documents into JPG or PDF electronic formats. You can then save those files to the cloud or share them with others. Scan quality optimization and smart cropping let you handle everything from receipts to contracts and even office whiteboards with ease. CamScanner is ad-supported, with watermarks on the free tier, while a premium subscription removes ads and the watermark and adds premium features such as OCR editing, auto-upload, expanded collaboration and more.
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.
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.
Notability is a feature-rich note-taking app that leverages a number of interface features of iOS. The $9.99 app has you covered on all the note-taking basics such as text, formatting, photos and sketching, while also including PDF and photo annotations and audio recordings. You can organize all of these things into folders. Handwriting features and support for the Apple Pencil on the iPad make Notability a great option if you're more likely to jot down notes instead of typing them out. You'll also enjoy support for search of handwritten text as well as multitasking on new iPads.