Android is a remarkable success story. The operating system, built on a version of Linux, has become extraordinarily popular in a very short space of time. If its current trajectory continues, it will soon be the world’s favourite mobile operating system.
Part of the appeal of Android is its perceived position as a ‘middle-ground’ between the lifestyle-oriented iPhone and the business-oriented Blackberry. Android is rapidly becoming the first choice for business owners who want a bit more out of their phone. The range of applications available for the platform is staggering. Of course, many of these are just entertaining distractions. But others can genuinely help you to get your work done quicker, organise your life more efficiently, and manage your time more effectively.
So here is our round-up of some of the best productivity apps on offer for the Android platform.
Evernote is great if you constantly feel like you are grasping at dozens of different pieces of information. It allows you to ‘grab’ things that interest you, and put them in a virtual scrapbook stored in the cloud. You can capture information in a number of ways – for example using your phone’s camera, by typing some text, or recording a voice note.
Evernote for Android – free download
Astrid is an intelligent, slimline task manager developed specifically with Android in mind. Rather than simply providing you with a way of listing things you need to do, Astrid aims to encourage your productivity. You can sort tasks by importance and time sensitivity. Astrid will also deliver notifications, giving you a handy reminder to complete certain tasks. Even better, it now syncs with Gmail Tasks and Remember The Milk.
Astrid for Android – free download
Given the popularity of Chrome, one would presume that Android’s built-in browser would be chock full of features. In reality, though, the standard browser doesn’t quite live up to expectations. This is where Dolphin comes in. This browser boasts Flash support, as well as incredibly useful (and remarkably accurate) gesture recognition.
Dolphin for Android – free dowload
The possibilities presented by Dropbox are virtually limitless. On the most basic level, it allows you to sync and backup your files in the cloud. More than that, though, it provides opportunities for streamlined collaborative working, and effective organisation of your documents on multiple computers.
Dropbox for Android – free download, plans from free to $19.99 a month
Believe it or not, some people still use physical business cards. But you’ve got a smartphone in your pocket, so why would you want to collect a stack of cardboard? CamCard photographs your business cards, and converts them into entries in your phonebook. It will automatically detect phone numbers and email addresses in a range of languages.
CamCard for Android – lite version free, full version $14.99
This is something that really should have been included as part of the suite of apps built into Android. GDocs is a simple app that allows you to view and edit (you guessed it) your Google Docs. This is basically a sync tool, but it provides a welcome way to get to your Google Docs without having to touch your browser.
GDocs for Android – free download
This simple timesheet manager could be a godsend for freelancers. Time Recording provides an easy way to ‘clock in’ and ‘clock out’ of jobs. You can set an hourly rate (and an overtime rate if applicable), which can be a great way of keeping on top of your budgeting.
Time Recording – free download
Documents To Go
Documents To Go is a full-featured office suite for Android. This app allows you to open, view and edit documents in a range of Microsoft formats, including Word, Excel and Powerpoint. It also offers a PDF viewer. Vital if you regularly work with Office documents on the go.
Documents To Go for Android – lite version free, full version $29.99
The standard SMS handling is perhaps one of Android’s weak points. Handcent dramatically improves the way your Android phone deals with text messages. It emulates the iPhone’s message display, keeping your texts in easy to read conversations. It is also highly customisable.
Handcent SMS – free download
Astro File Manager
Astro provides you with a simple way to access the file structure of your Android phone. You can manage and back up files on your phone’s built-in memory or its SD card. You can also use Zip and Tar compression tools. Finally, Astro allows you to manage your applications. You can back up, uninstall, and reinstall apps through the Astro interface. A must-have.
Astro File Manager – free download