The Daily App: 10 Great Mobile Productivity Apps12:00 PM EST Tue. Nov. 27, 2012
The holiday season is here, and that means more time away from the office than usual. But, less office time doesn't have to mean less productivity. Thanks to tablets, smartphones and some great apps to run on them, today's workers can get just as much done on the road as they can at their desk.
So with season's greetings from us, we'll ring in the new year with 10 great mobile apps that can keep people productive while away from their usual surroundings.
Among the first things to do when planning to be away from the office is to make critical files available remotely. Google Drive permits files of any size to be stored safely in the cloud and easily shared with others. Free for Gmail users, a Google Drive account includes 5 GB of online storage with no limit on the number or type of files. More than double the free space of Dropbox, a Google Drive account also permits Android, Mac OS X and Windows users to view, create and edit offline and collaborate on files in real time when online.
There's a version of Google Drive for iOS, but it's currently limited to read-only. For those that believe it always will be, there's Memeo Connect, which offers the same functionality as Google Drive but is made by a company with no Apple axe to grind. The free app for iPad and iPhone can open and view Google Docs word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and PDF files whether online or off, and its offline mode is easier to use than Google Drive's.
For files living on Microsoft's SkyDrive, Office 2 might be the ticket. The sub-$10 tool delivers for editing any Microsoft Office document that resides on a person's own computer or SkyDrive account to any device running iOS.
Laptop? Check. Printer? Check. Fax machine? Check. Scanner? Nope. If the home inventory report lacks even one of these key ingredients, then putting a signature to a document might be more time consuming than it has to be. But, add to the list a device running Android or iOS, and a free app will do the rest. DocuSign Ink allows any document to be signed from the screen of an iPhone, iPad or Android device, a multistep process that could otherwise require a half-hour or more.
The U.S. Postal Service might get a bad rap for its long post office lines or excessive bureaucratic red tape, but it seems to have its app-building act together. USPS for Mobile is a free app for Android and iOS devices that keeps tabs on shipments, calculates shipping costs, looks up post office locations and zip codes, schedules pickups and a whole lot more. And on devices with a camera, it can even scan and identify incoming packages.
Keep a finger on the news heartbeat with Pulse, a free app for iOS and Android that monitors a customizable list of sites and presents news as tiles with graphics and text. Read the full story with its built-in reader or link to the original story on the source website. Save important stories for later or link them with Evernote, Instapaper or other "read it later" sites. You can also share with Facebook, Twitter or email. There's even an offline sync feature, which loads stories for viewing even if you're in your customer's underground parking garage outside of a wireless range or carrier's signal.
The worst thing about to-do lists is the need to enter and delete to-do lists. And while we can't report that the Any.DO ToDo List eliminates that need, the app's simple and clever interface offers the next best thing. The free app integrates with contact lists and other device information to make task entry seem like less of a chore, and completion is as simple as swiping a finger.
If thumb typing is too slow and a stylus is not anathema, then Graffiti might be just the thing. The free app is an optional replacement for Android's default keyboard and works just like the original Palm version, accepting finger or stylus input.
Drippler for Android puts a new twist on news aggregator apps. Helpful from the moment it's installed, Drippler scours the Web in search of anything it can find out about the device on which it's installed. It displays news of upgraded models, shortcuts and tips on usage, updates to firmware and other helpful intelligence, storing it by importance and popularity.
Here's one that can increase productivity while minimizing hardware assets. JotNot for iPhone is a pair of free apps that turn any iPhone into a high-quality scanner or fax machine. Within seconds, pictures of receipts, whiteboards and documents can be printed or shared.