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10 Useful Android Productivity Apps

Mobile productivity apps occupy a peculiar nexus, one between the efficiency and robustness we expect from desktop apps like Microsoft Office and the newer, more compact realities of mobile platforms.  It’s been nearly six years since the first iPhone was released, and in that time we haven’t seen Office itself ported to anything other than niche Windows Phone platform. Meanwhile, Apple’s also-ran iWork suite has become a core productivity tool for tens of millions of iOS users, while a host of new productivity apps have risen up to take advantage of touch interfaces and the tardiness of Microsoft, Adobe, and others.

iOS has most prominently given rise to cash cows like QuickOffice HD, Dropbox, and GoodReader, and it has also spawned enormous enterprise interest in iOS, resulting in custom secure apps and white label products. As the Android ecosystem begins to solidify more around the 4.0-4.2 versions, and around workhorses like the Galaxy Note 2 and the Nexus 10, Android devices are becoming more important to the enterprise, too. The apps that benefit from Android’s rise may have some overlap with their iOS counterparts, but it won’t be a straight repeat. For example, Dropbox is nowhere near as important on Android as it is on iOS, since Google Drive is baked-in to many newer Android devices, and so is Google+, which outdoes Dropbox’s automatic camera upload feature by offering unlimited storage and easy sharing.

Here are ten Android productivity apps that can help you start getting more done on your device.

Google Drive

This is arguably the centerpiece of Android productivity. It stores your documents and photos for a seamless cross-device experience, plus it now has Google Docs and the QuickOffice PDF viewer baked into it, too. As such, it can cannibalize almost anything that the casual user would ever need to do with a more robust Office solution, while also taking a bite out of some PDF readers, too. A clean user interface is the icing on the cake.

Evernote

Evernote’s use cases are myriad: grocery lists, favorite songs, things to do, quick notes, scraps gathered from the Internet, photos, articles. It’s the one app I’m always happy to have quick access to, plus its Android version has a fantastic, customizable widget which gives you even quicker access to features like camera snapshots and voice recording.

Writer

Writer is a no-frills writing app. It lets you write anything from a quick memo or email draft to a full-length novel (if you’re daring enough), with a super-lightweight interface and no distractions. Aside from text composition, it does nothing else other than give you info (word count, etc.) about your document and let you toggle how it lists your library of documents.

CamScanner

This is a nice tool for education clienteles in particular. It lets you scan documents and create PDFs. It also doubles as a fax machine (if you still need/use one) and can connect to printing services. It’s a nice bundle of tools and it’s free, which is more than enough for a recommendation from me, despite its slightly overbearing user interface.

Skitch

A companion to Evernote that can even be incorporated into Evernote’s widget, Skitch lets you do drawings from scratch or mark up an image/map. Its uses can vary from marking up an assignment on the fly (since it has a very unobtrusive interface and benefits from Android’s seamless sharing system) to just highlighting something amusing about a screenshot or photo you capture and sharing it with your friends.

Google Goggles

This app makes your camera a lot cooler. It scans any image you take or throw at it from another app, letting you know (to the best of its considerable ability) what it shows and where it was taken.  It also conveniently doubles as a QR reader and barcode scanner, hence eliminating the need for additional solutions and making Goggles a nice hybrid of fun and function.

ezPDF Reader (Pro)

ezPDF Reader (Pro) has PDF reflow, cloud syncing, and a rich suite of annotation tools, making its $3.99 price tag more than palatable.

Battery Widget? Reborn! Pro

A stylish but efficient way to keep tabs on your Android device’s battery and optimize its uses. It gives you better insight into background processes in particular, and lets you easily toggle bluetooth, wifi, cellular, etc. Its time-based airplane mode settings are also excellent, letting you put your phone into airplane mode at a certain time(s) each day to save juice. This app really shines on Android Jelly Bean, on which it is resizable and offers a greater range of toggles.

Sketchbook

Exactly what it sounds like: Sketchbook is a mobile solution for drawing/painting/sketching. Its uses as a productivity tool are underrated, however; I’vie found it to be a quick, efficient means of creating basic wire-frames or mock-ups for product design. Its interface, which revolves a single home button, takes a lot of getting used to, but its rich array of tools make the experience worth doing so.

Springpad

The “other Evernote,” in a way – it does many of the same things, right down to its widget functionality. But it offers a few other options, such as better contextualizing of information – it can provide you reviews/ratings to go with your list of movies, for example.

-The ScreenGrab Team

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