Hello. I have been in the midst of preparing for exams and moving house this week meaning that I haven’t had as much writing time as I would like for today’s blog. That said, I thought I would take this opportunity to give a run down of the four mobile apps that I would most recommend for staying productive whilst on the go.
This app helps you to work in a more balanced way (as the name implies). Balanced allows you to enter five key areas which you would like to work on regularly, prompting you with notifications once or twice a day. You choose how committed you want to be: do you want to go to the gym 3 times a week? Remember to send and chase your invoices every fortnight? Go for a long walk once a month? Balanced has you covered with pleasant and unobtrusive reminders. Goals appear ordered within the app graded depending on the desired frequency that you set. If you simply don’t have the time to do something from your balance list, you can skip it, but the feeling of ticking off your goals each day is so fulfilling, there’s a tiny bit of joy there for completing your efforts.
I was looking for something to remind me to do a few key things each week to develop better habits and this was just the right app. It’s not the best designed application, but it is pleasing, colourful and it feels great to tick off your goals each day. After a while you find that this app helps you to connect your past, present and future selves together in joint effort and that’s where this software really starts to shine.
There is a paid upgrade to this app which allows you to set reminders for more than five goals, but honestly I feel that the five-goal limit in the free version helps the user to be more focused rather than splitting their time infinitely — although well intentioned, it’s just not realistic.
Available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Price: Free, with upgrade options. http://balancedapp.com
Evernote is your digital notebook. If most of your work is on screen, Evernote could spell the end of your paper use for good.
Evernote is a fantastic way to store digital notes, bookmarks, clippings from the web and much, much more. It’s a digital scrapbook in the cloud with search, which means you never again have to hunt around for scraps of paper or important telephone numbers when you need them most. The multi-device library means that you can type out a sudden inspiring thought on your phone before going to bed, only to find it there waiting for you on your laptop the following morning.
Although I found that I still needed a paper-based notebook and planner, I use Evernote for keeping together all things digital. I write down my blog ideas, save interesting websites for later and plan out my projects using Evernote and can update them or take new notes wherever I go. Non-essential paperwork gets archived into my Evernote so that I can cut down on paper storage.
Evernote have recently changed their subscription options meaning that a lot of what used to be free has been placed into the ‘Plus’ price model. Under the free model you can still save your notes and share them between devices, but the ‘Plus’ plan gets you offline access and email forwarding into Evernote. The more expensive ‘Unlimited’ plan gives you unlimited storage space and the ability to work with PDFs and revise note-histories. The free option is still fundamentally the best functions of Evernote, but the extended features for power users are now behind a paywall.
Available for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and more. Price: Free, with paid subscription options. http://evernote.com
You’ve got paper and you’ve got your digital devices. If you need something digital from your screen on paper or a hardcopy, you’ve got a printer, but how do you flip this exchange around? You’ve got notebooks, journals, diaries, handwritten notes and pencil drawings — it’s all important, but how do you get these onto your digital device for when you need it most but forgot to take it with you or didn’t have the physical carry space?
Enter Scannable, the camera scanner from Evernote. Okay, so maybe this entry isn’t totally fair — Scannable is also made by Evernote and there are already lots of camera-scanners on the market, but this is definitely the most efficient and least fiddly scanner app I have used so far. You might have a scanner already sitting somewhere near your desktop computer, but in my experience these hardware scanners can be clunky and not particularly portable.
Fire up Scannable on your smartphone or tablet, place a piece of paper in front of you and within seconds it has been digitised. You can scan one page at once or multiples to save into a PDF. Scannable notches up the brightness and contrast before applying several other photo editing tricks to get your digitised paper looking great and professional, ready to send via email or save for reading later on. Once you have your scan, there is so much that you can do with it: you can save your scan straight into Evernote, email it, upload to Dropbox or save it to your camera roll amongst many other options.
There are in-built OCR text-finding capabilities, but this only works in conjunction with Evernote, unfortunately Scannable cannot yet output plain-text from a camera scan.
Available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Price: Free. https://evernote.com/download/get.php?file=ScannableIOS
You could argue that word-processing is perhaps the most basic requirement for computers and sure enough, most (if not all) digital devices come with the ability to make digital notes or type up documents for print. So why would you possibly pay for yet another writing application?
Byword is one of many writing applications on the market, but is perhaps the strongest that supports the universal digital publishing standard Markdown. Markdown is a universal text-based markup language for the purpose of publishing text to the internet, allowing writers to place headers, block quotes, lists, boxes and tables into their writing using punctuation characters in place of complex word-processing functions. By ridding the interface from UI-elements; fonts, colours, zooms & comic sans, Byword gives the writer space to create and tool their work in a simple, distraction-free environment. (you can read more about Markdown over at Daring Fireball!)
If it’s getting dark outside, you can switch into the Dark Theme to carry on writing without hurting your eyes. On mobile, Byword also supports folder trees and saving of your work directly to Dropbox and iCloud.
There is also a premium upgrade which allows you to publish your work directly to WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Scriptogram and Evernote, making on the go writing and publishing blog posts easier than ever before.
Available for Mac OS X, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Price: £8.99 for Mac OS X, £4.49 for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch with upgrade options for Publishing. http://bywordapp.com