20 Best Productivity Apps
We take our smartphones everywhere we go, and with their powerful processors and 4G capability, they can be indispensable as personal assistants and productivity aids. The same thing goes for tablets, especially those with larger screens that leave more room for content creation. 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.Word, Excel & Powerpoint (Android, iOS)
Word, Excel & Powerpoint (Android, iOS)
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 okay for basic viewing and editing, you’ll get the most out of the apps with an Office 365 subscription.
WPS Office (Android, iOS)
WPS Office (Android, iOS), formerly known as Kingsoft Office is another popular mobile office suite, especially if you’d rather have an all-in-one app for word processing, slideshows, and presentations. WPS supports a broad variety of file formats, such as MS Office’s .doc, .ppt and .xls, and is a full featured office suite for viewing and creating documents. Tabbed document editing allows you to easily work on and cross-reference multiple files, and cloud support through Google Drive, Dropbox and other services allows you to easily save and share your documents online.
Outlook (Android, iOS)
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.
Workflow (iOS) ($2.99)
Workflow is an iOS task automation app that allows you to quickly cook up recipes of repetitive and time consuming app or phone tasks into a single tap. Sample recipes include calling for Uber rides to your next calendar event, scraping all the images from a Web page, upload your most recent photos to your favorite cloud storage provider, and more. Users can easily create their own Workflow recipes and open them within the app, or turn them into iOS Action Extensions or even home screen apps. The app supports more than 200 actions across a variety of apps, and users can share their creations to Workflow’s Gallery feature.
Feedly (Android, iOS)
Feedly (Android, iOS) is one of our favorite mobile and desktop news reading tools. The mobile app manages to merge the best of multiple interfaces, with a text-only list view for quick browsing through your news feed, and flashier magazine and card-style layouts for a more visual approach. Users can sign up for topical updates from a variety of websites and blogs, or add custom subscriptions from sources like RSS. Articles can be saved in the app (or through Pocket) for offline viewing and shared through a variety of other apps.
Paper by Fifty Three (iOS)
Paper by Fifty Three may have started life as a drawing and notebook app, but it’s since expanded its functions to include checklists, photo annotations and general note-taking, all while retaining the app’s expressive drawing engine and analogue feel. Users can easily bring together checklists, notes, and annotated photographs into a notebook system for easy organizing. Once you’re done, your work can be exported into PDF, Keynote or Powerpoint formats for easy use.
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.
Quip (Android, iOS)
In the increasingly crowded mobile office market, Quip (Android, iOS) brings an interesting features into the field: integrated messaging and collaborative editing. Quip allows users to create, import and share documents, to-do lists, notes and more. You can then collaboratively edit them as a group, with a built-in messaging sidebar that allows you to quickly get in touch with your colleagues as well as view their edits. Quip can import documents from a variety of sources such as Dropbox, Drive and Evernote, and export documents to PDF and Office formats.
Trello (Android, iOS)
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, that users 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.
Asana (Android, iOS)
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.
LastPass (Android, iOS) (Free for subscribers)
You never need waste time fiddling with your logins and passwords ever again with the LastPass mobile app. The LastPass Premium app (Android, iOS, WP8) 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.
Evernote (Android, iOS)
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)
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)
Microsoft may have been a bit slowin bringing Office over to the mobile, but OneNote (Android, iOS) is here and continuously evolving. A cloud-synching note taking app 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.
Dropbox (Android, iOS)
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.
Custom keyboards can add a lot of useful features doing a lot of email, messaging, and document editing on their phones and tablets. SwiftKey (Android, iOS) is among the best third-party options, with silky-smooth responsiveness, swipe typing and a creepily accurate predictive typing system that quickly learns your typing and vocabulary quirks. Highly configurable settings allow you to set the keyboard just how you like it (with provision for variant keyboard layouts), and SwiftKey Cloud allows you to sync your personal typing habits and dictionary quirks between iOS and Android.
Any.do (Android, iOS)
Any.do (Android, iOS) is an excellent and feature-packed app for creating to-do lists, reminders, events and other notes for getting things done. Any.do features easy task input, which can be typed in or dictated, complete with a touch interface for easily dragging and dropping tasks into various categories or for marking tasks as accomplished. Reminder notifications bring time sensitive items or events to your attention, and syncing and sharing features let you share tasks and lists with friends, family or colleagues.
Sunrise (Free; Android, iOS)
Sunrise is a free calendar app for Android and iOS that combines neat visual design and powerful calendar features to allow you to easily organize your time. Sunrise syncs with your existing Google Calendar, iCloud and Exchange calendars, with background syncing, quick event entry, reminders, timezone support, location tagging and more. The app plays well with sharing extensions for a variety of other productivity tools, and a new “Meet” keyboard is designed to help you select free time slots for events as well as easily share them with your contacts.
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.
IF IFTTT (Android, iOS)
IF by IFTTT (Android, iOS) is a neat task automation tool built around the idea of If (This), Then (That), from which the app takes its name. IFTTT can take triggers from a variety of channels (which can be everything from popular services such as Facebook or Twitter to smart devices), which can then be set to trigger actions on other channels. IFTTT comes with a wealth of templates, available in curated collections, or in featured, trending or all-time favorites. Users can easily pick and choose, modify or create their own recipes to help automate their lives.