WE’RE LESS IMPRESSED BY APPS THAN WE USED TO BE. DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU FROM TRYING NEW ONES.
Remember when we used to show each other the clever cutting-edge apps we discovered? The novelty of that seems to have worn off. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still great apps being made, and many more out there we simply haven’t found yet. A lot of the countless apps on the market (maybe part of the reason they’ve lost their luster) are designed for the purpose of improving productivity. Most of these are exactly the same as the last, but there are definitely some standouts worth downloading.
There are lots of tasks you do on a daily basis that you probably already have a system for. That shouldn’t discourage you from trying it with an app. Is your current method of remembering passwords really that foolproof? There’s always a better way to do something, and when that thing is an everyday occurrence like note-taking, optimization saves you a lot of time.
Todoist is one of the most advanced scheduling apps available. The free version of the app will allow you to organize and sort tasks, set due dates and reminders, and even track your progress and collaborate on projects with others. With a free account, you can collaborate with up to five people per project, and you can manage up to 80 projects. Upgrade to a paid plan, starting from $36 per year, to get location-based reminders, labels, filters, and the ability to add comments to tasks. Todoist has a Business-grade tier of service too, in case you love it so much you want to share it with a client.
Evernote is a favorite for taking notes and organizing all of your ideas in one place. The app allows you to capture notes not just with writing, but also with photos, audio, digital sketches, and PDFs. Plus, it's all easily searchable within the app, even images. If you snap a picture of a “For Sale” sign and later search for "sale," Evernote will find the image. For ultimate ease you can sync all your notes across different devices. With the free version of the app you can sync up to two devices, only use the app online, and have a relatively limited amount of storage. With the premium version, which costs $7.99/month, you can access your notes offline, can sync to unlimited devices, and have pretty much unlimited storage.
Pocket is a central storage space to hold articles, videos and other content you find across the web for easy viewing later. It’s bookmarking 2.0. Stuff you pocket (it can be a verb too) doesn’t have to be only links. Pocket can download content for offline consumption, and if your bookmarks were as good as you hoped, you're able to send them to another user's Pocket, or share them directly via social media, email, or messaging.
Pocket isn't just a browser-based service. You can save things directly from Twitter, Flipboard, Pulse and 1,500 other apps. Pocket's free version works well, but the Premium version ($4.99/month) goes further by dropping the ads, making your content a permanent resource, and delivering a stack of advanced search tools.
REINVENTING THE WHEEL
On the other end of the spectrum, there are apps for tasks you never even thought to accomplish in a new way. Transcribing, syncing documents, scanning contracts, or other basic tasks are just that, basic. How can there be a “better” way to accomplish something so simple? That’s like saying there’s a better way to walk down the street. Well guess what? There is.
Some people don't see the need for a desktop search utility like X1 Search. They prefer to rely on a carefully maintained filing structure, an email account organized with zeal, and perfect adherence to their own organizational principles. Those people never lose their keys either. For everyone else, X1 Search saves you time by finding anything on your computer or email lickety-split. X1 can search everything on your desktop. Literally everything. From your email accounts and their archives to your calendars to remote-hosted files to contacts to downloads and more. X1 search offers a two week free trial and costs $79/year. Why spend your time searching for something when X1 can find it in a second?
SwiftKey Keyboard, owned by Microsoft, is a custom keyboard for Android and iOS that lets you type by swiping your finger around your phone's keypad rather than pressing each letter one at a time. The app's predictive text feature is pretty smart (smarter than your phone’s current one) and can tell what you're trying to say, even with sloppy swipes. Not only words, but emojis and GIFs are recommended as well, plus the keyboard supports more than 500 languages. For answering emails, replying to texts, and writing documents from a mobile phone, it's a great time saver (and totally free).
The ultimate syncing machine. MetaCtrl Sync enables intelligent background syncing between Android devices and some of the most popular cloud storage services around, including OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box. Once set up, files on your device can be automatically uploaded to the cloud, while cloud storage files are automatically downloaded to your device. Delete a file in one place and it's deleted in the other without you have to do anything. MetaCtrl Sync keeps all your content updated no matter its location. This works across multiple devices ensuring they're all always up-to-date.
Basic syncing is available for free, but paying to upgrade enables syncing of large files, drops the ads, and uses smarter change detection for faster operation (whatever that means). There are multiple plans but they're not subscription-based, they are one-time payments.
Our working lives aren’t the only thing we need to run more smoothly. Our regular life could use a productivity boost now and again too.
One of the most annoying things about YouTube's phone app is that you can't listen to videos after you lock your phone or exit the app. Musi lets you do exactly that, so it's perfect for streaming music you can't find on Spotify or Apple Music. We all have that one Taylor Swift song that just hits different live. Don’t worry, Musi is totally legal, and totally free.
So far, Flush has over 200,000 bathrooms in its database. Just open the app and you'll see bathrooms near you. It also provides details like which bathrooms have disability access or requires a key or usage fee. You can even search for bathrooms nearby without an internet connection and flush will give you express directions on how to get there. Flush also likes you to rate the bathrooms you use and report on whether you think other users should use that toilet. Never worry about bathroom proximity again.
If you don't drink enough water every day, you may want to check out Plant Nanny. The app lets you plant and water cute virtual plants by entering the amount of water you drink in real life. As you reach your daily goals, your virtual plants flourish and grow. If you don't drink enough water, however, your plants get sad and wither away; just like you will if you don’t drink enough water.
Finding new apps is still one of the most useful and fun things to do. Plus most of the time, its free!