10 Great Apps for Productivity

I'm an attorney by day and others in my local legal and business community have come to know me as a "techie".  Just last week while at a meeting of the probate section meeting a colleague leaned over and wanted to know about several of the Apps on my iPad home screen.  As someone who is regularly asked about the apps I'm using for my work, I thought I'd put together a list of some of my favorites. To start, here are my ten of my favorite apps geared towards professionals. 

1. Due - $4.99 - http://www.dueapp.com - Perhaps I have a problem with reminder/task management apps. You’ll notice I several on this list, but they all serve a different purpose. Due is a reminders and timers App that I use for the specific purpose of reminding me for things that absolutely have to be done, or have to be done at a specific time. The problem with traditional reminder apps is you’ll typically get a notification of a task, but that’s it. If you’re busy at the moment the notification pops up, you’re likely to forget about ti and move on. Due will repeatedly remind you of items that are due until you act on them. You set the reminder interval. For extremely urgent items, you can set an interval as short as 1 or 5 minutes. For not so urgent items, you may only want to be reminded ever 30 minutes or an hour. 

2. Scanner Pro - $3.99 - https://readdle.com - I go back and forth with scanner apps, but currently Scanner Pro is my favorite. I try to adopt a paperless lifestyle so whenever possible I try to scan receipts, papers and other bits of paper I come across in my life so I can get rid of them. Scanner Pro is a great all around scanner App but has recently added the ability to OCR documents and create a default name based on the date as well as create custom workflows for processing specific items. For example, I have a workflow that will process business receipts to a specific Dropbox folder, then delete the receipt once saved.

3. Fantastical - $4.99 – https://flexibits.com/fantastical-iphone - Fantastical has replaced the Calendar App on my iPhone for time management. The big feature of Fantastical is natural language parsing. I can type out a phrase such as “Lunch with David Tuesday at Taco Toms” and Fantastical will automatically create an appointment at noon on the next Tuesday and set the location as Taco Toms and attempt to locate and add the address of the restaurant. 

4. Cloak VPN - Varies - http://www.getcloak.com if you use free Wi-Fi hotspots such as in coffee shops or at hotels and conference centers you need to use a VPN to secure your Internet traffic from prying eyes. Cloak is probably my favorite of the VPN solutions because they offer solutions for Mac and iOS and have a feature that will auto secure a connection to an unknown wireless network so I don’t have to think about it. As soon as I walk into Starbucks and connect, Cloak automatically activates and secures my connection. There are a couple of price options available. I keep a “mini” subscription active for a couple bucks a month that gives me 5GB of access each month which is good for occasional usage. If I’m traveling and need more data, I can add on data as needed.

5.Microsoft Office – Varies - https://products.office.com/en-us/mobile/office-iphone Microsoft Office is a suite of products that has been a pleasant surprise on iOS. I most often use Word.app on my iPad and have found it to be remarkably full featured and stable. For all devices except the iPad Pro (due to it’s screen size larger than 10") most of the features of the office suite such as editing and saving documents can be unlocked with a free Microsoft account. The products also integrate well with cloud services such as Dropbox and Microsoft’s own OneDrive.

6. Duet Display - $9.99 - http://www.duetdisplay.com - I love having a second monitor and find it’s a great productivity tool. However, when I’m traveling or using my laptop on the go, that isn’t possible - unless you have Duet Display. This App allows you to use your iPad or iPhone as an extra display and will extend the desktop of both Macs and Windows PCs. 

7. PDFpen - $19.99 - https://smilesoftware.com/pdfpen-ios - I’ve tried several PDF apps on iOS and PDFpen is still my favorite, probably because it syncs so well with PDFpen on the Mac. Especially since I’ve upgraded to a 9.7" iPad Pro, I find myself viewing and editing PDFs more on the larger size iPad and viewing PDFs in split screen for reference while working in another document. I love PDFpen’s ability to edit PDFs and regularly find myself dropping my signature into PDFs on the go and sending them back to people.

8. OmniFocus - $39.99/$59.98 - https://www.omnigroup.com/omnifocus - With recent updates OmniFocus on iOS has really come into its own as a standalone application rather than simply as a companion to the Mac App and it’s my task management system of choice. Just about anything that you can do in the Mac App can now be done in iOS and Omni has now even added support for automation which is great for setting up recurring complex tasks or a series of tasks. I’m a great fan of Siri integration which means OmniFocus can read items off my default Reminder’s list or a specific Reminder’s list and when items are added to that list (either through Siri or otherwise) they will automatically be added to my OmniFocus inbox.

9. Deliveries - $4.99 - http://junecloud.com/software/iphone/deliveries.html - With the exception of weekly grocery shopping, I’ve probably transitioned most of my shopping online. I buy almost all my electronics, clothing and convenience items online. This means I have a lot of packages coming to my door and sometimes can loose track of them. I use Deliveries to track shipments so I know when to expect them. My favorite feature is after buying the App you can sign up for a free account on their website, register your email address and from there you can forward delivery notification emails to a special email address and the delivery information will automatically show up in the app. It’s almost too easy.

10. Todoist - Free/$28.99 a year - http://www.todoist.com - This is my third task management related App on this list, but it serves a specific purpose. While I love OmniFocus for my personal task management needs, I was missing a way to share and delegate tasks with others, particularly in the office. To solve this need, our office turned to Todoist. As a task management App it’s pretty basic, and candidly I’m not in love with the design or implementation. But the sharing and collaboration features are good and it allows me to share projects with other attorneys in my office as well as my legal assistant and assign tasks and check on the status of those tasks. For less than $30 a year per person for a business plan, the price was right to get our office started.

This article first appeared in the June Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly via Newsstand on the iPad. You can find out more at https://www.screencastsonline.com/membership_benefits/