Some of my favourite apps are the ones I barely ever write about - they're not exactly newsworthy, they are just incredibly useful. Here are three of my favourites for pure getting-stuff-doneness.
1) Evernote. This is probably the thing I recommend to my friends the most. It's a cloud service for note-taking, and not just note-taking in the "sitting in my lecture with my laptop out" sense (it is perfect for that though). You can take a photo of something with the smartphone app (iOS/Android/WP7/Blackberry/WebOS/WP6 - yup), grab something from the internet with the web clipper, chuck in a pdf or Powerpoint, and it will all be available at your fingertips, as long as you have internet access. Evernote even has a reasonably robust API, so there is a huge amount of apps that build into it, giving you loads of ways to submit information to the service. When it's all on there, of course, it's cloud based, so no worries about losing all your stuff if your laptop is stolen, and you can access all your notes whenever you need them, provided you have an internet connection. You don't even have to worry about downloading anything if you just want to grab something while at a friend's - you can just use their browser to login at evernote.com. You can share and sync notes with friends too - group work is always going to be effing horrible, but at least this will save on the countless emails.
Their organisation features are also pretty good. I use Evernote for uni mostly, so I tag all my notes with whatever class they relate to, as well as some more specific stuff. Tagging is much more useful than folders for this - I can put a whole lecture's notes in both "POLS 111" and "MMP", letting it be catalogued in both.
2) Teux Deux. Teux Deux is a cloud-based no-frills to-do web/iOS app. The name isn't actually French, it's just a silly way to say "to-do" while looking European. Looking European is what Teux Deux excels at, that is, it is goddamn gorgeous. Seriously. There aren't many web apps that look this good. The iPhone app is just as pretty. Not everyone needs a to-do app, but the satisfaction of crossing an item out (Teux Deux lets you do that instead of just deleting an item) is essential for me to do anything at all with my life, it seems. If the ultra-minimal no frills (there isn't even an API!) route isn't your kinda thing, there are plenty of other good to-do apps around - Remember the Milk is supposed to be great.
3) Google Docs. Finally, the app you probably have heard of or already use. Google Docs is a cloud word processing service. Evernote is great for gathering and organising raw information - but for actually writing something out it isn't ideal. Google Docs hits the sweet spot between Evernote and Microsoft Word. Sure, Word offers more features, but Docs has everything I need for hammering these blogs out. I can log in from anywhere and pick up right where I left off; I've never lost any work from Google Docs. My laptop died mid-sentence once, and when I got back to the doc I had lost about three letters. If the same had happened on Word, well, the auto-recovery feature MIGHT have kicked in, but I would expect to lose at least a few lines. Google Docs also has excellent collaboration tools, can open and save Word documents, and an Excel replacement, though I don't know how that compares to the real thing. I still don't write essays on Docs - the referencing features on Word are unmatched - but Docs can handle everything else I throw at it. Of course, Google Docs is combining with this newfangled Google Drive thing these days, so it's just going to get more useful.
Do you have any favourite productivity apps? I'm always after new ways to pretend that I'm doing work.
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