If you only tinker on your Google Play Store, you’ll discover a wide selection of FREE productivity apps (aside from Gmail) that can help you work smarter and adult better. (Really!) Here are my favorite Android productivity apps + reviews. Let’s exchange recommendations!
DISCLAIMER: No, this is not a sponsored post. I wish it were though.
My Home Screen + Apps
My smartphone Kata M3 runs on Android KitKat 4.4.2. Above are screenshots of my phone’s home screen and app drawer. (Thank you, Nova Launcher, for making this customization possible.) As you can see, I have only a single page for my home screen and all the frequently used apps are laid out there. I like it clean and convenient. That’s my style.
*Beta allows you to experience first the new developments on the app before the rest of the population does. Yes, you are basically testing the app.
My Free Productivity Apps
Every high achiever’s Android phone should have a keyboard that’s designed for high achievers! Coz, you know, we have to type ridiculously long messages and responses on-the-go that should still be grammatically correct and typo-free.
I used to have the regular SwiftKey on my phone but it lagged a lot in the last few months, so I switched to a GIF keyboard but after ~24 hours, I went running back to SwiftKey — but this time, I went for Beta.
What I find irresistible about SwiftKey is it has an A.I.-powered ‘word (and emoji) prediction’ feature that learns from my writing style (including Tagalog and Internet speak!) so the autocorrect becomes more in sync with my mind, typos are lessened according to my liking, and my typing speed gets EXPONENTIALLY faster over time!!
Yes, the “swipe-to-type” is a big selling point too but I never use that because swiping around to type words requires more effort and time and I’m tamad. So far, I haven’t encountered any problem with SwiftKey Beta. I’m just in the process of getting used to the symbols-and-numbers keyboard because the keys’ orientation is different from the regular SwiftKey’s.
Before, I used ColorNote for mobile note-taking and to-do lists because that’s how I used to do it in real life before the age of smartphones: sticky notes. I liked how I could color-code my notes on ColorNote and it’s much less complex than EverNote.
However, ColorNote doesn’t have a web app, so whenever I worked on my desktop and needed my notes on my phone but it’s off and charging (I do this to extend battery life), I would have to go to the trouble of unplugging the phone, turning it on, and waiting it to start up to get my notes. Sometimes, I’d put the task off because of the hassle and then completely forget what I’d have to do. It had taken me ~1 year before I realized that I didn’t deserve that. That’s when I switched to Google Keep.
Now Google Keep is a more powerful version of ColorNote. Yes, I can color-code my notes there. It has a web app (which I used to access the note I have for this post heh). And YESSS I can also attach pictures on my notes for accurate and detailed note-taking! Users can also label a note for easy search, record a voice memo, set a location-based reminder, and share notes with other users for collaboration.
For many years, I didn’t have one place where I could dump all the articles that I liked and all the articles meant for later reading. I just bookmarked them, shared them on social media, or just loaded them on my mobile Chrome and eventually forgot to read them altogether.
A few months ago, I discovered the wonders of saving articles offline on Flynx. Whenever I was alone having coffee or on commute and there’s no wifi, I’d pull out my saved articles on Flynx and just have a wonderful time getting lost in reading.
However, I use multiple and different browsers across my devices. I cannot save articles offline on Chrome Beta (phone’s main browser) and Firefox (default desktop browser), and as a result, I had been losing many opportunities to get back to these insightful articles I found online, read them, and actually learn from them — and that’s how I realized I needed to get organized. I downloaded Pocket.
What I like about Pocket is I can save all the articles that I want in one place from any browser and access them from any of my devices. Well, with the exception of the web app (for non-Mac and non-Chrome users), all saved articles can be accessed offline on the connected devices after they’re synced.
Pocket is paired with:
Flynx (Code: 1CEE8)
Flynx is a special kind of browser for links! It allows you to load multiple linked webpages in the background (on bubbles to be exact, similar to Facebook Messenger’s) so you’re not interrupted from your scrolling + reading on social media and other apps. This proves to be helpful if you’re like me who only goes for a quick scheme of the page’s content and sifts through the really good articles from clickbaits to save for later reading.
One downside to Flynx though is it doesn’t have an address bar so you can’t use Flynx to search or go straight to a website. For those purposes, you will have to have a “main” browser, e.g. Chrome. Nevertheless, Flynx remains an indispensable tool for every internet-savvy human on planet Earth.
Install Flynx with my referral code 1CEE8 and get rewarded.
I think I discovered IF when I was on my phase last year reading “Top Android Apps” lists and downloading apps from them. I have been using IF to automate and streamline many social media activities that I routinely do one after another. For example, whenever I post a photo on Instagram (If this), I also tweet the same photo (then that). I don’t like auto-sharing a link on my Twitter to my Instagram because the link looks eew on the feed.
However, doing these two actions manually takes both time and effort, which I can use on something else more worthwhile (like scrolling on Facebook for hours HEH). But with IF, I can set up all the “secondary actions” to happen automatically after I had done the “main action,” saving me precious seconds of my lifetime and calories!
IF runs on recipes (‘If this, then that’ combinations) that users can choose from, enable, and customize. Users can also build a system of secondary actions around one simple action. For example, I have set up my posting on Instagram to automate tweeting the same photo AND saving the same photo on a Drive folder.
However, IF has some downsides too. (1) Recipes don’t work immediately / for a while / at all for one reason or another, and (2) some customization can NOT be done unless you know how to code on IF. Still, I keep IF on my phone for all the automation that it does in my life. It still saves me time on doing stuff one by one, so ‘Appreciate.’
I’m not quite sure how I came to have CamScanner. It’s been on my phone since idk. It must be one of those episodes when I scrolled on popular productivity apps on Play Store (again) and discovered the magnificent possibility of a mobile document scanner right on my phone!
I’ve been using this app for 2+ years now, however occasionally, but I never uninstall it just in case a need arises. Camscanner has helped me send digital copies of physical documents — from edited drafts and reference materials to my students, to legal documents to government agencies and private corporations.
On CamScanner, the documents are “scanned” through the in-app camera or drawn from Gallery. Users can then crop the photos, enhance the photos to improve readability, choose the paper size (A4, legal, letter), and save the file PDF or JPEG!
The catch is: If you’re using the free version, there appears a watermark “Scanned by Camscanner” on the bottom of EACH page of your document. That doesn’t bother me at all, but if your can pay for Premium, you can do away with the watermark and enjoy the OCR (optical character recognition) feature, which is pure magic!
CamScanner is paired with:
Adobe Acrobat Reader has been the go-to PDF reader program since the golden years of desktop computers. And now, it’s ruling on mobile too.
Aside from allowing you to open PDF files, Adobe Acrobat Reader (app) lets you add comments, highlight text, and add your signature on documents with just the tip of your finger!! The ‘Add Signature’ feature, fortunately, is a free feature and has saved me and my “team” once when my signature had to be affixed on a document but I was miles away, having a vacation at my parents’ house. Super props to Adobe here.
Before I Can’t Wake Up, I had a different third party alarm app, which I liked a lot btw because I could set it to require my later groggy self to solve some simple math problems before I could snooze it. However, I got smarter in the process and solved math problems easily with only a baby carrot-sized portion of my brain awake and functioning. I’d then snooze the alarm, doze off, and have a sweet 8-hour night’s sleep and fck over my adult life (again). And so I decided to switch to ICWU.
With ICWU, math problems are harder. The easiest level has problems with properties aka there are parentheses, so I’d have to do the two-fold task of computing and then remembering what I’ve previously solved so I can choose the right answer. This sudden intense brain activity, which lasts longer because I’m slower at solving this kind of problems, has been proven effective to jolt me into wakefulness.
Aside from math tasks, there are other wake up tasks that users can choose from on ICWU: memory, order, repeat, barcode, rewrite, shake, and match. Users can also choose a snooze music (Well, don’t use your favorite song here.) and the ‘Smooth Wake Up’ option for an easy return to reality.
Credits: All apps’ UI screenshots are grabbed from the respective apps’ pages on Play Store.
How about you? What are your favorite productivity apps? Care to share a screenshot of your phone’s home screen? 🙂
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