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Top 10 Apps to Increase Your Productivity

In today's world, smartphones are a large part of the daily nine-to-five -- even if we have to BYOD. And it's these smartphones and their apps that present new outlets for efficiency.

At the office, it’s rare for employees to hand-pick the computer they work on or the supplies they’ll use day-in and day-out. Like it or hate it, bosses and budgets call the shots on such items. And in today's world, smartphones are a large part of the daily nine-to-five -- even if we have to BYOD. 

It's these smartphones and their apps that present new outlets for productivity. Have more business cards than you know what to do with? Check out the CamCard app. Need to make a list so you remember to get all your work done? Look no further than Clear.

Read on to learn more about 10 productivity apps that can disrupt those to-do lists in a positive way.


1. CamCard

Purpose: Business card scanner and filer
Website: CamCard
Mobile Device: iPhone, Android, Windows, BlackBerry
Cost: $1 for ad-free version or free with ads
Details: Who isn’t annoyed by the shuffling of business cards? They sneak beneath car seats, wedge themselves into the corners of our wallets and disappear without warning. CamCard is a highly accurate business card app that can scan a card with the snap of a cell phone camera. It transcribes it instantly and files it into a smartphone’s contact list for easy reference. A quick double check is needed to make sure titles, phone numbers, email addresses and websites are entered correctly. However, in tests, accuracy was nearly always exact for most information — errors might only be a letter or two off (an ‘S’ for a “5” for example). Another nice feature in this app is its ability to place business cards in groups and with the original card photo as back up. This is a must have app for networkers, convention goers and socialites.



2. CloudMagic

Purpose: Email Manager
Website: CloudMagic
Mobile Device: iPhone and Android
Cost: Free
Details: Mobile email apps aren’t always as intuitive and functional as they should be. But the CloudMagic app, winner of the 2014 Webby Awards, is an exceptionally simple and purposeful tool that employs minimalistic design methods and tethers them to an interface that is easy to use and highly functional. More than a mere email management system, CloudMagic allows users to accomplish tasks while checking email. It does this by integrating productivity apps such as EverNote, OneNote, Pocket, Trello and SalesForce into itself. The app can also draw from a wide range of email account types. These include Microsoft’s Office 365, Exchange and Outlook programs in addition to Google’s Gmail and Yahoo Mail.



3. Clear

Purpose: Checklists
Website: Clear
Mobile Device: iPhone
Cost: $5
Details: Clear is the checklist of all checklists. It’s an intuitive and swipe-friendly app designed with a simple set of interactive checklists and reminders. The value of the app is more easily felt than verbalized. Its lists comfortably fill a full screen and to-do items are affixed to brightly stretched tiles that move and adjust methodically with each gesture. Shades and colors of tiles are based on task priority, the darker the coloring the more urgent the task. If working on a Mac, the iPhone Clear also syncs with Clear version for Mac — sold separately for $15.



4. Sunrise Calendar

Purpose: A calendar and planner
Website: Sunrise
Mobile Device: iPhone
Cost: Free
Details: There’s not much to this app, which is the point. Calendars have typically had a tough go trying to embed themselves into the small screens of smartphones. This app does so elegantly as it pulls and syncs calendar information from Google Calendar, iCloud and Microsoft Exchange. While simple in design, its inner workings contain a toolkit of useful features. Calendar synchronization works in real time, time zones automatically update for accurate reminders, Facebook events and birthdays can be added, and weather forecasts are posted based on a user’s location. Of the many subtle design changes, the apps scrollable three-day layout is a nice touch that eliminates compacted event lists.



5. XpenseTracker

Purpose: Track personal and company expenses
Website: XpenseTracker 
Mobile Device: iPhone
Cost: $5
Details: It might come with a $5 price tag, but this handy app comes with a stellar ROI. XpenseTracker is an app meant to chronicle expenditures and mileage on the fly. Its start-and-stop GPS system monitors all mileage and automatically calculates trip distance in terms of cost. Its camera setting allows for users to create digital snapshots of receipts. And its line-item expenditure logs can be exported into Microsoft Excel docs and PDFs for easy reporting. Additionally, the app can sync expenses, can be customized and has an efficient search function to call up receipts without fuss. While there are many features to speak of, a nice touch is the app's easy-to-read icons for various expenses. The icons provide quick look-up for airfare, taxis, lunches, dinners, mileage and other costs.



6. TurboScan

Purpose: Document scanner
Website: TurboScan
Mobile Device: Android and iPhone
Cost: $3
Details: Those who’ve attempted to scan documents on a smartphone know results are erratic. TurboScan is a well-known document scanner that factors in proportion and perspective of camera shots to produce a flat document image. For example, if shooting a document with the app at an angle, this app will find the document’s edges and turn the captured doc into a flat rectangular image similar to a typical scanner. After scanning, documents can be put into PDF or jpeg formats and be saved or sent through email.



7. FindMeCoffee

Purpose: Coffee finder
Website: FindMeCoffee
Mobile Device: iPhone, Android, Windows, BlackBerry
Cost: Free
Details: There are times productivity has nothing to do with task management and everything to do with energy. For the early morning and late night coffee drinkers, this on-the-go app locates coffee huts of every sort. From Peet’s, Starbucks to well-loved local haunts, FindMeCoffee delivers directions and java listings without the shackles of a single brand or chain. Just press the “Find Coffee Near Me!” button and drive, bike or walk on over. It’s that easy.



8. Google Docs

Purpose: Mobile word processor
Website: Google Docs
Mobile Device: Android and iPhone
Cost: Free
Details: A nod has to be given to Google for its mobile word processing app Google Docs. Microsoft Word Documents can easily be exported in and out of the app, and all documents sync to Google Drive, Google's free cloud storage platform. For a number of years, companies -- including IT giants like Microsoft -- have struggled to develop a word processing app that has the right balance between ease of use and needed features. Sometimes the apps became too busy; other times they were oversimplified. For most users, Google Docs produces the right amount of features to get the job done while not overcomplicating the process. Docs can be synced, shared, commented upon, instantaneously saved and protected with a four-digit password — great for writing and edits without a laptop.



9. Launch Center Pro

Purpose: Speed dial for app tasks
Website: Launch Center Pro
Mobile Device: iPhone
Cost: $5
Details: The app has best been described as speed dial for smartphone apps. It works with both a wide variety of apps and the iPhone’s numerous core functions. The idea behind Launch Center Pro is to have one app that can perform a series of actions in two taps: one tap to open the app and another to launch the set of actions. For example, take posting a recent photo to Facebook. Instead of launching a photo app, finding the last album used, selecting the last photo shot, pressing the phone’s share icon, tapping Facebook and then posting, this app will instantly launches Facebook with the last photo ready to post. Launch Center Pro supports a number of apps, but is most useful with communication tasks such as email, messaging and phone calls.



10. Trello

Purpose: Project planning and collaboration
Website: Trello
Mobile Device: iPhone and Android
Cost: Free
Details: Certain tasks require the granular perspective, while others are better served with a big-picture view. This is what Trello offers both for personal productivity and for collaborative projects that require group input. The platform works in real time across all devices — from smartphones to tablets to laptops — with an interface resembling a corkboard. White cards for each task are lined in columns for customizable category lists and there are many options to share or assign tasks as a project or goal goes forward.

Jason Shueh is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.