Saturday 20 April 2024

5 seriously great productivity applications for mobile devices

There are so many applications in the tech industry that tout productivity and time saving capabilities for its users, all of which are now mobile compatible and typically available in some form on iOS and Android operating systems. While there are an overwhelming amount tools and copy-cat ‘junk’ apps out there that claim to be “great”, listed here the best-in-class in the industry for those looking to save time testing and trying out new things independently. If you use some (or all) of these already, then you know why they are included here on this list.

1) Notability (Winner in the ‘Mobile Note Taking’ category)

There are lots of apps for note taking, each that specializes in different features that claim to be awesome. Most of them were rushed to market, with poor usability and UI, and are cumbersome and useless (in my opinion). EverNote, Listy, and a slew of other apps simply are not effective or entirely useful when it comes to taking notes on-the-fly. Notability is an app that is powerful as a note-taking app, but also useful for annotating docs, sketching ideas and even recording sessions. In addition to beautiful layout and design, you can replay notes, mark up documents and pdfs, and sync with every cloud service under the sun. I find the ‘drawing’ aspect of Notability extremely useful, and find new ways to utilize the app during every meeting I attend. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

2)   Trello (Winner in the ‘Mobile To Do List’ category)

Another category overwhelmed with options, the basic ‘To Do’ list app has plenty of competition with lots of options to consider. In my opinion, there really is no option, as Trello leads the pack in terms of simplicity, UX/UI, and design. This app lets you create simple ‘lists’ of items, and uses an agile methodology overlay allowing users to ‘move’ cards from one stack to the other. This is useful for everything from Project Management, Development Backlog Planning, as well as everyday things like Shopping Lists. In addition to being simple and easy to learn, its 100% free and available via Desktop, Mobile Apps (iOS and Android) or natively on a tablet. I find myself making lists everywhere i go, and even like taking advantage of the meta data and tagging options to sort, filter and archive tasks.

3)   DropBox (Winner in the ‘File Storage and Cloud Access’ category)

What’s not to like about DropBox. I could have easily gone with ‘Box’, or other competitive tools, but DropBox has a simple, intuitive installation process and is widely used in many industries today. I am still baffled when i see organizations using Microsoft SharePoint, or even worse, a company Intranet to store files, which usually requires VPN or some other secure access method. DropBox is great on-the-go to access files on a mobile device, and is great for its access controlled ‘sharing’ functionality, giving users the ability to collaborate in a safe and secure manner. For its most simple use, a great way to store personal photos (not unlike Apple’s Cloud storage) and share with friends and family, without worrying about your hard drive crashing and losing all of your precious moments. Get into the cloud, people!

4)   ProCreate (Winner in the ‘Mobile Art and Image Editing’ category)

While typically not considered a ‘productivity’ application, artists and creative people will agree that there is truly an advantage when you have the ability to be productive through powerful apps, other than using a full-desktop or SaaS version of PhotoShop or Adobe Creative Suite. As an artist, I’ve tried many different apps that claim to be the best for digital artwork, but none seem to rival ProCreate for iOS. This elegant and intuitive application mimics the best of what PhotoShop has to offer, in a small package. While not exactly cheap at $9.99, it is definitely well worth it when you have the ability to do proper image editing, and more importantly, drawing and sketching using layers and the toolset available in Adobe. For an ever better experience, try using the JOT pen, which is a truly great way to get a ‘real’ drawing feel. The rubber ‘nub’ pens really don’t work well, and JOT works great with ProCreate.

5)   HipChat (Winner in the ‘Mobile Communication’ category)

HipChat was recently purchased by Atlassian, the company that makes great software like JIRA, and it’s a perfect combination of everything i love about mobile communication. Similar to tools like FLOWDOCK, HipChat excels through simple integration with other development tools, while combining Video, Emojis, and HashTag# capabilities. I’ve seen firsthand how productivity increases for any team using HipChat, great for groups of all kinds from development, to education, to friendly banter. Oh, and for teams of 6 or less, it’s 100% FREE. For an extra good time, try using my favorite emoji #itsatrap! (admiral akbar).

I hope this list has been helpful to my faithful readers. Don’t waste countless hours and space on your devices downloading and playing with apps that are a waste of time. Instead, try these out … you will not be disappointed.


  • Productivity10
  • iOS Apps9
  • Trello9
  • HipChat9
  • DropBox8
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Justin Hoffman is a NYC based developer and technology leader. He writes about web development and processes, mobile trends, and consumer-facing technology. Justin is a frequent speaker at many national events with focus on Technology and Agile, including DrupalCon, Agile Allegiance, and DreamForce (Salesforce) conferences. He is currently spearheading a development team at Asset International.

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